A Necessary Evil
It was even worse than Battler had initially feared.
Well, there was no kind way of saying it. He looked absolutely terrible. It difficult knowing where to begin to describe his bedraggled appearance- no, bedraggled didn't even begin to sum it up- but Battler had never been all that good at words, so he had no idea what to say.
Battler didn't even know where to place his eyes.
Everywhere he looked, he seemed to find some new bruise, some new cut, some new injury that marred the skin of the once-proud demon butler; making him look less like a person, and more like some kind of strange art sculpture.
His coat lay abandoned, crumpled, on the floor; a suitable representation of just how tired, worn and utterly, utterly defeated Ronove himself looked. His cravat had been untied, also thrown aside- and his white shirt had been pulled open, not unbuttoned, but torn apart- so a few of the buttons were missing.
Across his expanse of exposed chest, Battler could see more wounds, marks, injuries; perhaps marks from fingernails, ugly black and green bruises, and even, most chillingly of all… strange shapes had been carved into his flesh; a few indistinguishable English words (Battler doubted it was his own shortcomings at the English language that caused this confusion), and what looked like a sloppy, half-formed magic circle- a poor imitation of one of Beatrice's. Obviously, the person who had tasked themselves to carve it into Ronove's skin had grown bored half way through and thrown the blood-splattered knife aside.
Just how deep were those wounds? Battler… didn't know; he had no idea- but, just by looking at them…
Looking at them made Battler's own skin crawl; as though spiders were tracking up and down his skin, or maybe centipedes. He started to shudder, as though it was his skin which had been cut up carelessly like that, not Ronove's.
It… was surprising Ronove was still conscious at all.
Some of those poorly drawn shapes on his chest were still bleeding; oozing bright red fluid slowly, very slowly, as if too selfish to properly part with enough blood.
Ugly red burns were spread across that skin, as though it had been scalded… or, maybe… Battler felt his stomach turn. He stumbled back slightly- and, with a loud crack, he felt one clumsy foot fall upon an empty teacup on the floor. The sound was a little like breaking bone; just like the time Battler had fallen from that tall tree when he seven, because Jessica dared him to climb up…
He'd tried to act tough, but that crack made when the bone in his leg split nearly made him sick.
Battler couldn't help but link that teacup to the burns spread across Ronove's shoulders; discolouring his skin.
Maybe those ugly burns were from… spilt tea? But, of course it hadn't been spilt by accident- for burns like that, that covered such a large surface of skin… it certainly must have been deliberate.
Ronove's neck had been bruised horribly; deep black marks blossoming across his pale skin like strange, deadly flowers. There were teeth marks interspaced with that hideous, ugly bruising- and Battler could instantly deduce what had happened there. Somebody's teeth had biten down insistently on Ronove's arched neck, sharp enough to break skin- deliberately trying to break skin, because actions like that weren't loving at all; they had clearly been used to inflict pain and humiliation, and nothing else.
His hair; messy, disordered, falling before his face. His lips; red, swollen from violent kissing, the lower one split open completely in another burst of crimson blood that trailed down his chin. His teeth; well, Battler could see, owing to that parted, gasping mouth, that a few of them had been knocked missing- or, maybe… i-it was more likely that, at some point, they had been forcefully pulled out, then thrown aside on the floor.
Just like the broken teacup.
Battler shuddered slightly, unable to stifle his paranoia that a few of Ronove's missing teeth might be scattered on the floor, just scant inches from his foot. What if he stepped on one of those next?
And the most disturbing thing about this completely bizarre, unusual scenario was the person who caused all of this- and who was still there; grinning a lazy, self-satisfied grin as he idly threaded his hands through Ronove's hair.
That face… was the same face Battler saw whenever he looked into a mirror.
It was him.
And yet, at the same time… it definitely wasn't. It… certainly wasn't him…
But that monster, who looked exactly like him in each and every way save for those bright red, eerily intense eyes, even had the audacity to speak with Battler's voice, though it was slightly lower; that smirk teasing across his lips, as he greeted Battler to his depraved tea party.
"Yo, me. I was wondering whether you'd be kind enough to put in an appearance or not… Have you come to watch the show too? Ihihihi…"
With a low voice that seemed to promise violence, 'Battler' slid onto Ronove's lap; pinning the other against his chair firmly. Then, he placed his fingers underneath Ronove's chin, and tipped his head backwards. After surveying Ronove for a few moments, with that proud smirk (he was clearly revelling in his victory)… he laughed again- and forcefully slammed his mouth against Ronove's.
It must have been pretty painful.
It was definitely painful.
The way Ronove's face instantly paled, his fingers spasming slightly, proved that.
The way the 'other' Battler kissed Ronove wasn't soft or romantic at all, it was exactly the opposite; his tongue forcing its way so far into Ronove's unwilling mouth it was enough to trigger Ronove's gag reflex; so he shuddered helplessly into the deep kiss.
It took Battler a few moments to find his voice, lost as it was amidst his own horror and disgust- but, finally, he managed to shout out angrily, "S-stop it…!"
The other Battler, apparently amused by his counterpart's disgust, broke off the kiss in response- but not before he took Ronove's split lip between his teeth, and bit down hard; releasing a few more droplets of blood into his mouth. He lapped them up eagerly with his tongue, as though he were a cat.
A cat with a rather macabre diet.
The small moan of pain that forced itself from Ronove's ravaged lips was enough to make Battler's heart clench in his chest. He'd never seen Ronove reduced to a state like this- he had never even imagined it was possible he could ever be reduced to this. It was beginning to look like any person, no matter how composed they were, would break down if enough pain was inflicted upon them.
Those wounds, bruises and teeth marks that littered his body, the deep incisions made with no real precision, the red blisters and burns, the missing teeth and all the blood…
A slow, relentless, endless torture like that, with no clear end in sight, would have broken anybody. Battler had no idea how long the other version of himself had been 'playing' with Ronove, but it must have been at least a few hours. But hours could turn into centuries when each and every moment was fraught with pain, couldn't it?
At least Battler's multiple deaths at the hands of those big-boobed sisters had all been mercifully quick.
"Heh… You look confused. I think it's an expression that suits you, given the… stories… I have heard about your interesting theories in the past," said the other Battler, laughing.
His tone of voice was light and pleasant, as though he was talking to an old friend- but the work of his fingers completely undermined his words. Even as he spoke, the index finger of his right hand was slowly, very, very slowly… digging into one of the open sores on Ronove's chest…
The finger pushed clumsily into the open wound, white against red just like a bloated maggot, opening it up even further; two fingers now, with the tip of a third struggling to force itself inside- the fingers delving in deeply, deeply- far, far to deeply-
"A-aah… aahn… …"
Ronove was actually whimpering.
"I hope the theatregoing witches are enjoying themselves," said the 'other Battler' speculatively; three fingers still concentrating on opening up that wound, whilst his nails scratched at the raw, red, unprotected flesh inside. "I'm trying to put on a good show for them… Hm. I suppose, if I spoke about it in terms of cuisine, this would be the apéritif ? I'm just hoping to satiate their appetites before I start on the main course, ihihi~"
There was a small, sick pop, as 'Battler' drew his three probing fingers from that wound. His fingers were coated in a fine, thin layer of red slime. A string of red blood, just like a spider web, was strung between the tip of one finger to the inside of that gaping wound.
The other Battler turned his fingers about, looking at the blood coating them with something akin to… childish interest. A pure, genuine childish interest; like a young boy who had just cut himself for the first time. And then… he started to laugh.
"Here. You're a butler, aren't you? You should probably clean this mess up you made. Come on."
And with that command, the other Battler thrust his three fingers, turned crimson by Ronove's own blood, into Ronove's open mouth. Again, just like the previous kiss, he immediately shoved his three fingers in far, far too deep; filling Ronove's mouth, and driving his bloodied fingers so far down the back of the demon's throat he started to retch- shoulders trembling, eyes squeezing shut…
"How pathetic… You couldn't defeat me- and now you can't even lick my fingers clean. What kind of butler are you? Ahahaha…~"
With a slightly disgusted look on his face, the other Battler removed his fingers swiftly- and he was just in time, too.
A putrid ooze of vomit, tinged light pink from blood, bubbled forth from Ronove's mouth and dribbled down his chin; more, again and again, as his shoulders heaved and he could hardly even breathe…
"Ihihi~ What bad manners, honestly. I have to wonder why I'm even being so kind to you.
"…Well, it would be boring if you died too quickly, I guess."
With a small shake of his head, the other Battler picked up a napkin from the table. Then, he began to wipe the vomit from Ronove's chin. His motions were very gentle, almost tender- but that deceptive calm only made 'Battler' appear even more dangerous.
Even more deranged.
All the while, the other Battler spoke; half to himself, half to the still listening Battler, "Hm… Looking at this in terms of food is kind of dull, of though. I could use instruments instead… Then I suppose I'm tuning the strings? It's kind of messy, doing so many things to one person at once- so I won't make my real murders this slapdash- but I just want to make sure my methods are… heh. Effective. I want to ensure I'll be able to get some wonderful sounds out of my instruments in this orchestra when I begin to conduct the proper piece… I want to hear some sounds just like this."
The other Battler threw the vomit stained napkin carelessly to the floor, much as he had discarded the earlier teacup. Then…
Still with an almost perverse amount of gentleness, he picked up one of Ronove's wrists in his hands… and pressed the tip of one of his fingers against his own lips. Ronove's hands had already been divested of their white gloves- and they looked strangely bare without them; almost… vulnerable…
When 'Battler' opened his mouth, his pink tongue sliding across the tips of one of those fingers, then down to the base where the finger met the hand a noticeable shudder ran through Ronove's body…
But this imitation of Battler wasn't finished yet.
Of course it wasn't.
It wasn't enough.
Battler saw it coming before it happened, so he reached out, crying out at his double to stop, just stop it-
But it was too late.
It was… too late.
The sound of breaking bones, tearing flesh, split through the air; loud, far louder than it should have been.
The hideous, distorted scream that tumbled from Ronove's lips was overshadowed, somehow, the noise of his finger breaking- o-or, to be more precise, the tip of his finger breaking away from the bottom of it.
His fingertip had broken off, not cleanly, messily; as Battler pulled his head back- the tip of the finger still hanging on by a few threadbare pieces of flesh; blood, there so much blood, and who would have thought the tiny bones in the fingers were so brittle, just like birds', that they could be broken by the teeth?
He had bitten through Ronove's finger.
He had bitten right through it.
'Battler' tugged his head back roughly- effectively snapping the last few strands of skin that kept the tip hanging to the base. Wincing, he then spat the bloodied tip of Ronove's finger from his mouth.
It hit the floor with a small thud.
The bloody fingertip with the nail still attached….
B-but it wasn't attached to its owner anymore, was it?
I-it had been… …
Ronove's face was horribly pale. It looked almost as if all the blood had drained from his body; indeed, maybe that was true, because a small pool of it was flowing from the large hole in his ruined finger.
His eyelids fluttered closed at irregular intervals, his breath coming out in uneasy, unsteady gasps- and it looked very likely that the sudden shock, and the pain, was pushing him into a state of unconsciousness.
The other Battler tutted slightly at this; a childish expression of distaste fluttering to his face.
That was when he drew the second finger to his lips, perhaps ready to awaken Ronove with another sharp burst of pain.
His tongue slid across the chosen digit; from the tip to the base slowly, very slowly, coating it a sticky film of saliva.
Battler's lips closed again around the tip of this finger and-
"Stop it! F-fuck, stop it, stop it!"
The shout that forced its way from Battler's mouth was filled with disgust and desperation; his face betrayed that by his contorted expression- and, suddenly, he was running to Ronove's side; pulling his fist back without being consciously aware of what he was doing, or that he was picking a fight with a creature that had been allowed to exist because of his own guilt-
-but his fist never connected with that imitation's face.
It had already moved neatly to one side- and it was smirking. It was a smirk the real Battler would never have worn; he was sure he could never look like that…
"Oh? You want me to stop? Aaah, I wonder why? It's not like that demon butler means anything in particular to you, is it? I assumed you found him particularly irritating… Isn't that right?"
"M-maybe that's true, m-maybe, just a little- but I would never… I… Fuck."
Battler swore violently; shaking his own head, trying to clear the lump that was beginning to rise in his throat.
He didn't know what to say.
He could only stand by Ronove and, because there was nothing else to be done, take hold of one of his trembling hands between his own.
That abused finger, missing the tip, the nail, with a hole left behind where white bone peeked out of…
Battler could hardly even look at it.
It must have hurt.
And Battler had thought he'd been in pain when he broke his leg.
Just how much… did an injury like that hurt?
Maybe as much as the cuts on his chest; the burns across his back and shoulder; the teeth marks on his neck; the bloodied, torn open lower lip- and maybe even other injuries Battler couldn't detect yet.
Ronove's vomit had been bloody. Maybe there was internal bleeding, too; o-or perhaps something had ruptured underneath his skin, unseen, but even more deadly than his physical disfigurements?
They were all injuries that had been caused by him.
"You know," said the other Battler conversationally, "the 'Battler culprit theory' really is quite interesting."
"There's not a lot of information to back it up, of course; but then again… there never is with any of these theories, ahaha~ I assume it's quite difficult to obtain data from a huge crater in the ground, or a jaw bone. Your cute and pure cousin, Maria's, jaw bone, actually."
"Yes- there really is no reason why people in the future should believe in this theory at all- save, of course, for the fact the tragedy occurred when 'Ushiromiya Battler' returned to Rokkenjima after six years. So maybe this 'Ushiromiya Battler' was a fake, an imposter; a killer…? Hahaha~
"But it's all circumstantial evidence. Nobody knows the truth. But, people in the future do like to speculate… and, as they speculate, I've been getting stronger. It's funny, isn't it, how the truth of the future can overwrite the truth of the past like this. People want me to be the killer because it would be 'interesting'… and here I am."
"Heh…" 'Battler's' face darkened. A shadow crossed it, contorting his face into something bizarre…
This creature was not a human. It was a monster; created for the sole purpose of killing. It could not feel any emotions, save for a faint elation when it ripped, or maimed, or tore apart; just like a two-dimensional villain from a cartoon. But those 'villain' characters, whilst they might have been frightening, could always be 'killed' when the frightened young child turned off the television set.
This… was not the case here.
Rokkenjima, the endless cat box of possibility, allowed the two-dimensional, nightmare-inducing killer to step out from beyond the TV screen and become a 'reality'.
Ronove's wounds were proof enough of that.
The not-Battler's red eyes seemed to glow, just like hot coals; burning in their intensity, as they mingled childish cruelty and insatiable insanity together in a witch's cauldron. It was a poisonous concoction that had poisoned his brain.
"Ihihi… Buuut… You and I both know you're not the killer, are you? At least… not directly. Ihihi~ I mean… you didn't know that promise would ruin her life, did you? You didn't know that promise would break her heart, right? You didn't know you had, unwittingly, created a killer, did you? You didn't know, you didn't know at all.
"But you still did it!"
The loud shout startled even Battler himself at just how primal it sounded; ret hot with rage. If the 'other Battler' wasn't human… then, at this point, he probably wasn't, either.
Charging forwards, Battler reached out- trying to grab hold of his double, his clone, his twin, his guilt personified with one hand and smash a fist into its face; break its nose and beat it into the ground and make it stop talking, damn it-
He couldn't do it.
He couldn't reach it.
He couldn't even lay a fingertip on it.
That creature was like a mirage. It was possible to see, but intangible to touch.
It danced elegantly out of Battler's grip, a cruel smirk on his face the whole while. Battler's rage soon burnt itself out in a fit of desperation; his hand instead falling against the circular table under the arbor with a loud thud, his eyes filling with hot, bitter tears.
Useless… i-it really is useless…
And the worst thing was, that clone of him with the Halloween pumpkins' glowing eyes was right.
Everything that had happened on Rokkenjima… it was all his fault. It was his fault for betraying her expectations; it was his fault for making her false promises; and it was his fault for breaking her heart.
Beato had said it herself.
Because of your sin, people die.
He was the killer.
All this creature was doing was cutting out the middle man… and trying to commit the murders with his own hands.
So, the existence of a hideous creature like his double… didn't sound too bizarre after all.
That was why that not-Battler was aloud to be alive in the first place.
Because of his sin.
When Battler looked up once more, his head heavy, vision blurry through a film of tears, he found the inverted version of himself positioned in much the same manner as he had been earlier.
He was straddling the Ronove's hips; mouth suckling on his neck, leaving small red welts atop of already hideous bruises, whilst his hips pressed downwards roughly, to create a dizzying mess of friction and heat between the pair of them.
"I don't understand why you're trying to defend this demon, either," said 'Battler' lightly; breathing cold air onto Ronove's neck as he spoke. His fingers were now experimentally pinching Ronove's nipples, in an attempt to draw more noises from his mouth. "I'm just trying out a few methods of torture that might be 'interesting' before the main course… So, in that sense… the more fun I'm able to have now, the less your family will have suffer in the future~ Who knows? If I don't get of my urge to play around a little like this now…"
One of Battler's hands fell from Ronove's chest; applying light pressure on a few of the cuts he had inflicted, before his fingers eventually gripped tightly around Ronove's crotch; rubbing against his pants, in a manner that made the demon tremble helplessly once more.
A faint pink flush, as though he was fevered, had now spread across Ronove's face- and, unbidden, he started to moan.
The 'other' Battler laughed softly at this; the movements with his hand becoming more forceful, whilst the fingers of his other hand continued to play with one of Ronove's nipples.
"Ihihi~ Well… If I don't get all this out of my system before the game commences properly, who knows what I'll do to your family? Would you like me to treat your pretty cousin, Jessica, like this? Or… maybe your dear old father? No, wait- I know…"
A smirk split across 'Battler's' face; once which seemed to contain far too many teeth- all sharp and jagged, like rows of syringes of broken glass.
His voice was lower than usual, and far darker, when he whispered, "What about your cute, pure, innocent little cousin, Maria? Would she like to have a lesson in human biology, do you think? Heh… It might be a little bit early- but, we're never too early to learn, yes? I can be a very… patient… teacher. Hm… ha… ahahaha~ See?"
His hand continued to massage Ronove through his pants; his lips now attacking Ronove's neck, in a manner that made the blush on his face darken considerably. He was still shivering badly; a-and it looked as if some of the wounds on his stomach had started to re-open again, because they were leaking once more…
"Ihihi~ Look, look, look." 'Battler's' voice grew steadily more insane, as he pulled his mouth away from Ronove's neck; hand now fisting in Ronove's hair roughly, and pulling his head to one side. "Look how much he's enjoying himself? I said, I'm very good at what I do…~ Ihihihi… … Do you want me to do this-" A forceful motion, as Battler slammed his hips against Ronove's, "-to your cute cousin, Maria? Well, do you?
"Because if you don't, I'd suggest you just shut up, keep quiet and watch- just like the very polite members of the audience are doing right now! Ihihihihi… hihihi… ahahahahahahaha!~"
And, with a laugh that fell into a high-pitched, deranged kind of lunacy, the creature who wore Battler's skin slowly began to unzip the front of Ronove's pants.
With his spare hand, he drew Ronove's one of Ronove's fingers to his mouth again.
He licked his lips.
And then, he drew the pale, trembling finger deep inside his mouth.
He must have bitten down very, very hard.
Otherwise, Ronove probably would not have screamed like that.
Featherine Augustus Aurora smiled to herself as she surveyed the beautiful, beautiful game board unfolding before her very eyes.
Oh, she did love a good, dramatic tale like this, he he he~
A rather twisted smirk seemed to split her face in two, as she placed her fingers under her chin in thought.
She only hoped her cute piece didn't disappoint her during the execution of the following murderers. Otherwise, she would do what her cute piece had done to that demon butler one hundred times over- and then she would gouge his eyes out with a dessert spoon, and force his lovely red eyes into the mouth of her cute ex-miko until she was sick.
He he he… …
That sounded like a lot of fun.
Maybe Featherine would do that anyway, even if her cute piece managed to kill everybody entertainingly anyway.
He probably deserved a little punishment for being so mean.
a/n: Another one of those gorny plotless porn-ish fics I feel rather embarassed to post, for fear of being judged...
But I did work quite hard on it, over quite a long period of time.
So I hope it served its purpose, and was sufficiently disturbing?