Of Kitties and Cupcakes
Ushiromiya Battler wasn't sulking. He was eighteen years old now, and he was well past the stage where he would sit around and mope if things didn't go his own way- so screw you, Rudolf.
He wasn't sulking.
He was… looking off intently into the distance; that was it.
There was an expression of suffering playing lightly across his chiselled features, as his crystalline eyes stared dramatically off into the heavens- his countenance fraught with pain and suffering, as misery emanated off him like a celestial glow.
Or… something like that, anyway.
But he definitely wasn't sulking.
And he wasn't pouting, either.
Today had been all kinds of crazy, really. Never, in his eighteen years, had Battler received so many Valentine's Day gifts- and from so many cute, sexy girls, too! The stakes, the bunny sisters, and even those rather serious cleric-type characters led by the adorable of all adorableness that was Dlanor A. Knox, had all paid him, the a territory lord, tribute by showering him with delicious, tasty, chocolaty love.
It had been just like heaven.
To use a fitting simile… Battler's day was a little like a cliché scene from a Korean drama. Battler, the popular male love interest (but of course, he was too dense to realize it) would open his locker at the end of the day, on Feburary the 14th (of course), thinking very little about what he'd find inside; no doubt expecting to see text books, and the like…
…only to be crushed by a huge deluge of prettily wrapped homemade chocolates and cute cards in pink envelopes.
His skull would probably be shattered by the impact.
Battler's Valentine's Day had been exactly like that- a sudden deluge of attention and affection from almost every single girl in Purgatorio that made him lose balance and, truthfully, feel almost dizzy.
Once the shock of his newfound popularity had worn away, Battler had really started to enjoy himself, though.
Being a territory lord really did have some perks, ihihihi~
…It was a shame, then, that Beato had to spoil his fun.
That selfish, greedy, over-possessive witch just had to eat all of Battler's Valetine's chocolate.
And that was just unforgivable.
For all those girls who had laboured over those home-made chocolates until they perfect, or picked them carefully from the store with as they thought dreamily of their territory lord with his awesome cape, Battler absolutely could not forgive Beatrice for her actions! So, to protect the pure hearts of those girls had given him chocolate, only to have their dreams snatched cruelly away by the jaws of Beatrice, Battler would not forgive that witch!
He would not forgive her for being so heartless! There was a limit to how cruel a person could be, damn iiiit!
At least she could've eaten one or two pieces of chocolate- she didn't have to devour them all! She'd just give herself a stomach ache; and anyway, she had Ronove, who would always make her delicious treats. She was just being petty, jealous and greedy!
Aah… but make matters clear, Battler's rage had absolutely nothing to do with any lingering resentments that he didn't get to eat any chocolate- of course it didn't! This anger was completely well-founded and not based on a triviality like having a sweet tooth!
I-it really, really didn't! Seriously!
So now Battler was sulking- except he wasn't sulking.
He was displeased. That was all.
Seated under the arbor in the rose garden of the Rokkenjima stage, attired in his territory lord cape, he turned his face elegantly up towards the pale moon that hung, ethereal, in the sky, he sighed very, very softly from his parted pink lips.
All of the above, ornate description pointing towards displeasure; not sulking.
So Battler continued to nurse the cup of warm tea in his hands Ronove had oh-so-graciously prepared for him, and stare dreamily up into space. Silently, he lamented the fate that had befallen his poor chocolates; swallowed up by that witch's mouth, and now resting in that witch's plump belly, far before their time.
This was so inordinately depressing it made him sigh again.
His sigh was soft, akin to a feather drifting to the earth in a transcendental waltz; gently brushing the ground in a manner not to dissimilar to the soft, padded footsteps (pawsteps?) of an elusive alley cat, which in turn was comparable to the gentle cadences of-
"Haaaaappy Valentine's Daaaaay, Baaaaattler!~ Oh ho ho ho!"
And, just like that, Battler's tongue was assaulted by the deadly taste of sweet.
T-that… r-really was very, very sweet… …
T-the birthday cake Battler and Rudolf had picked for Ange at the Fumiya bakery by the train station for her 6th party hadn't even been that sickly saccharine.
Battler could hardly even swallow that sudden spike of sharp flavors in his mouth. Instead, he started to cough; spraying cake crumbs, sticky with his saliva, all over the table top. Some of those crumbs even landed in his willow patterned, making ripples spread across the surface of his Darjeeling.
The taste was so sweet he could hardly even form human words.
With a wince and a shudder, Battler wiped his sticky lips with the back of his arm. A smear of bright pink, artificial frosting was left behind on the sleeve of his white shirt.
It was then that all the pieces fell into place.
Somebody had just attacked him with a cupcake.
And Battler knew exactly who that somebody was, too.
Lambdadelta smiled happily back.
It was obvious she was the culprit. In one gloved hand, she was brazenly holding the remnants of the squished, half-destroyed cupcake she had just squished into Battler's mouth.
It was a rather strange greeting- but, then again, Lambdadelta was a strange girl.
As Battler downed his cup of crumb-infested Darjeeling in one, trying frantically to eradicate the sickly sweetness that threatened to melt his teeth, he thanked Ronove very deeply, and from the bottom of his heart. That demon butler really was a life-saver.
With a light chnk of china, Battler set the now empty cup back down on its saucer. Then, he turned his attention back to Lambdadelta.
"A-ah, so…" Cough, cough. "I-it's… ahaha… i-it's nice to see you, too…" Cough, cough. "Eheh, I don't think much of that greeting, though. What's wrong with saying 'hello'?"
Lambdadelta smirked proudly, as though she had discovered that 4 x 9 = 42- the ultimate meaning of life, the universe and absolutely everything.
"It's because 'hello' is boring, stuuupid! Oh ho ho!~"
"…And trying to smother me with a cupcake is better?"
"It got your attention!"
"Well, that's true… So. what do you want?"
A large smile erupted over Lambdadelta's face.
"Ehehe~ Isn't it obvious? I came here to shower you with Lady Lambdadelta's special, one of a kind Valentine's Day gift, you lucky territory lord! Yaaay! Clap, clap, clap!"
"Ihihi…" Battler laughed; rubbing a hand against the back of his (already messy) red spikes. "Well, thanks for the surprise, but… I don't want to sound rude, and my mom always taught me I should accept gifts no matter what they are, but… Well. I think she just told me that so I wouldn't complain when Santa didn't get me a bike that one year. So… I don't really want your gift?"
At this, Lambdadelta's face fell. A very dangerous pout spread across her face. It was dangerous because an expression like that, when worn by Lambdadelta, could only herald trouble.
"…Eeeh? W-what are you talking about? A-and after all the effort I went of making this delicious, adorable cupcake especially for you? That's really mean! That's too heartless! Tsun!"
And with that, Lambdadelta took her revenge- and flicked Battler in the forehead; square between his eyes.
Battler was a little embarrassed to admit just how much it hurt. That little witch was a lot stronger than she looked.
He made a mental note never to challenge her for an arm wrestling match. His pride would be torn to pieces.
"You deserved that for being rude! You're being seriously rude, okaaay?" said Lambda huffily. "I, the great Lady Lambdadelta, don't give Valentine's to any stray little kitties that want them; even if those cute kitties are so desperate for my love and affection they lick my toes! You're the lucky one here, so you better start acting more grateful! Humph!~"
Ihihihi… T-that girl, regardless of how cute she dressed, and how young she looked, was such a pain. Spending time with her was kind of like eating some really delicious candies, and then getting a splitting toothache afterwards (an agony Battler knew of only too well).
Battler didn't really mind her, though. He'd always loved fun, bubbly girls he could converse with easily like this.
At first, he'd really hated that witch; her and her creepy, frog-like expressions, and barbed wire comments about his little sister… But, underneath it all, she wasn't nearly that bad.
The eighth game had shown that.
Buried underneath her sadistic love of stuffing Bernkastel with sweets until her stomach split open, she really was a nice girl. At her heart, Battler was sure, 100% positive, that Lambdadelta was a good person… if you used a rather loose definition of 'good' and 'person', that was.
That didn't change the fact her Valentine's cupcake tasted like pain and razorblades painted bright pink.
"I do like you, you know- but I'm not willing to commit suicide on your behalf; even if it is Valentine's Day. I'm a stupid romanticist, but I wouldn't put that cupcake anywhere near my mouth even if Beato gave it to me. No offence."
Lambdadelta glowered. Then, she made a small noise of dissatisfaction and turned her nose up in the air; blonde hair bouncing, ribbons bouncing along with it.
"Humph! You don't know what you're missing out on, Baaaaattler! I'm trying to give you a piece of my sincerest, most fondest of fond feelings, okay? The least you could do is act a little grateful."
"Oh, I am grateful- but I'm still not going to eat it. Why don't you give your 'sincerest, most fondest' feelings that grumpy sourpuss instead?"
"Grumpy sourpuss? Ehhh?~ You couldn't possibly mean my precious Beeern, could you?~"
"The very same. Ihihihi~ If she got a cute cupcake from her lesbian witch girlfriend, I'm sure even she would smile just a little, riiiight?" Battler grinned mischievously. "And when she does smile, you better take a picture and show me. I've only seen her do those really creepy smirks- but I think she'd look quite pretty if she smiled a little more."
"Ooh, do you think! I always tell Bern that, but then she… ack! We're getting off the subject!" Lambda cut herself off suddenly. "This isn't about Bern! This is about you, Ushiromiya Battler- Ushiromiya Battler being you- and Beatrice!"
Battler wrinkled up his nose slightly at the memory; that greedy witch, with her fingers tipped with melted chocolate, with a challenging smirk on her face.
What a stupid witch, to eat all his delicious chocolate.
"…Since when did Beato get involved in this?"
"Um, since the very beginning! I mean… ehehe~"
Lambdadelta leant forwards, until her face was just inches away from Battler's. As she had deposited the over-iced cupcake on the table, she was able to plant both hands on her hips in her preferred 'let's creep you the hell out' pose.
With a light, teasing tone of voice, the witch crooned quietly, "What's the reason why you're sitting here aaaaaaall by yourself on Valentine's Day, Ushiromiya Baaaaattler?"
Her voice was jarring enough to make the hairs at the back of the neck stand up.
Lambdadelta might have been about as tall as a twelve year old (with the chest to go with, Battler couldn't help but note, as his eyes inadvertently focused on her exposed cleavage), but damn, did she have some truly horrifying expressions in her repertoire.
Battler would fix that particular sadist smirk as somewhere between a 'I'm going to break aaa~aall the bones in your fingers very lovingly and carefully so you scream a loooot' and 'I'm going to pull out your internal organs through your bellybutton and then glaze them all in honey~' on the 'How Much More Horrifying Than Cxaxukluth am I?' scale.
(For the record, Lambdadelta's expressions were even more horrifying than an elder god's. A lot, lot more.)
Trying to keep his cool, Battler said- though his forehead had started to sweat slightly under Lambdadelta's scrutiny- "Ihihi, well… um… I guess I'm in a bad mood- not sulking, in a bad mood- because Beatrice ate all my Valentine's Day chocolate?"
"Exactly! So, it's because of Beato that you're sat all alone. Therefore, it's because of Beato that I'm here, talking to you right now! If you hadn't gotten angry, you two would be sat together doing cute couple-ish things like feeding each other chocolates and tearing out each other's eyeballs with dessert spoons, right? But you're not- and that's why I'm able to talk to you right now! You get it?"
"I guess so… ? Is this like cause and effect?"
"Mmhmm. And the super cute and pretty Lady Lambdadelta is here to give you some advice!~"
"Like what? Don't leave my chocolate where Beato can get it?"
"No! No, no, no!" said Lambdadelta. She pulled a face, and folded her arms in exasperation. "The moral of this story would definitely be, don't accept Valentine's Day chocolates from girls who aren't your wife!"
There was a small pause.
Then… a look of utter bewilderment flickered across Battler's face.
The look was slowly replaced by one of dawning realization.
When it finally hit him… it hit him very hard- just like a tidal wave.
And then he groaned.
His head fell into his hands with a dull thud.
When Lambdadelta phrased it like that, all of a sudden he felt like a rather horrible human being- not to mention the world's biggest idiot (although that had already been established before during his games with Beato, hadn't it?)
H-he hadn't even thought of it in that way before! He'd just been so… pleasantly surprised, and, admittedly, he'd felt kind of incredible and amazing and yeah, just a little arrogant that such a harem of cute girls were throwing their love for him in his face, that he'd completely forgotten how Beato might have felt!
Aaaargh, t-that… t-that really was stupid, wasn't it?
No wonder she'd gotten jealous and eaten all his chocolate!
How on earth did he forget something like that?
Was he really so shallow he'd completely ignore Beato's feelings in the favor of the acquisition of chocolate?
W-what the heeeeell?
Lambdadelta giggled sweetly. For her, there was nothing more delicious than watching Ushiromiya Battler flounder around in the painful knowledge of his own sin. It the extra relish that made her day just that little bit sweeter; like raspberry jam on toast, or the icing on a cake.
"Sooo~" she said, voice mocking, "Are you finally understand the nature of your sin, Ushiromiya Battler?"
Gritting his teeth together in pain, Battler nodded his head.
His voice was cowed and self-shaming when he muttered, "I… I understand the nature… of my sin… …"
"Hm, yeah- Beato likes you, you know? She really, really likes you… So when she saw you getting all disgustingly, unabashedly excited at that pile of chocolate you got, I guess she was just a liiiiittle upset! Oh ho ho!"
"Eheheh… hiii… O-okay, don't rub it in…"
"But don't you understand just how much Beato likes you, Baaattler? Her feelings… kyaaaa, they're so sweet!~" Lambda cooed; clapping her hands together at her front. "Beato acts like such a mean, cruel witch, but she's a really, really cute girl deep down inside! Her feelings are so sugary sweet and sickly that this adorable cupcake I made only conveys about one thirteenth of her feelings! And…" Giggle, giggle. An ominous shadow passed over Lambdadelta's face. "And you didn't want to accept even a thirteenth of Beato's feelings, you horrible man."
Battler brought his hands down from his face very, very slowly, a look of mounting confusion spreading across his features.
"You heard what I said, iiidiot! I made you that cupcake just for you so you can remember how sweet Beato's feelings for you are! This cupcake-" Lambdadelta pointed at it with one gloved finger, "-represents your precious wife! If you do not eat the delicious cupcake and let it become one with you inside your stomach forever and ever, then you are rejecting Beatrice's feelings!"
Battler stared at Lambdadelta in complete and utter confusion. It was a really adorable expression that Lambdadelta had seen countless times before on that fool's face when he played against her on Beato's game board, and it brought with it a hint of nostalgia, so she was really happy to see it again~
It looked like Battler still hadn't grown up past the crying and the clawing at the floor stage juuust yet~
"H-huh? I-isn't that logic kind of flawed? Eating that cupcake has nothing to do with my feelings for Beato!"
"Yes it does!" Lambdadelta countered at once. "I made the cupcake specially for you, so you can remember how much Beato loves you! Her love is much, much sweeter than this- so if you can't even handle this cupcake, you don't truly love Beato! Prove your love and eat it!"
"I-I don't want to eat the cupcake! I'll go and apologize to Beato for being an idiot, but-"
Stamping a foot on the ground, Lambda cried, "No! Wrong! You have to eat the cupcake first! You need to eat that cupcake and repent your sin, Ushiromiya Baaaaaattler! For accepting other girls' Valentine's chocolates, you need to be punished!"
"Fine! If you won't eat the cupcake of love, then I will make you! Kyaaaaaaa!"
"A-aah, what the hell? W-what are you doing? Seriously, stop, you- I, I caaammmphhh…?"
But, once more, Battler's words were completely drowned out.
Lambdadelta had taken the initiative- and had, after taking a huge bite out of her sickeningly sweet cupcake…
…pressed her light pink lips firmly against Battler's.
"Hey, Beeern!~ Guess what, guess what?~"
"What?" asked Bernkastel, as she placed her book to one side. "What are you foolishly shouting about now?"
"Aaah, don't be so mean, Bern!~ You can't be mean; not today, of all days!"
"Oh? And why not?"
A devilish smile spread across Lambdadelta's face.
Then, she pulled out from behind her back… … her own pink beret? Bernkastel had thought it was strange that particular fashion item wasn't sat precariously on Lambda's blonde head of hair when she entered their very pink, fluffy pillow and macaroon-strewn bedroom.
But the beret wasn't the most interesting thing in Lambdadelta's hands.
It was the creature inside it.
It was a rather small, cute and fluffy white cat… with an expression of confusion in its dark, impossibly human eyes.
Bernkastel… thought she recognized that cat from somewhere.
She was sure she recognized that cat.
Lambdadelta smiled, and proffered both cat and hat to Bernkastel, who was lying on the bed. "Happy Valentine's Day!"
"…I thought it was customary for chocolate or flowers to be exchanged?"
"Mmm, typically, that's right…" said Lambdadelta, pondering, "but I know you're not a huge fan of sweet foods, Bern- and I wouldn't want your cute face to get ruined if the high sugar contents in all my cooking made your skin melt off, ehehe~ So I thought I'd be a really nice, thoughtful waifu and get you a gift you really will like, ehehehehe…~"
Lambdadelta might have sounded like a cute, rather innocent girl who was desperate to please her crush; kind of like a cute school girl in a TV drama… but that was all a ruse.
There was something very eerie about her laughter.
And that was what made Bernkastel's own lips quirk upwards in a rather sadistic smile of her own.
"My, my, how thoughtful- even though I find human holidays such as this rather garish and unnecessary, especially for a witch such as myself. But I am intruiged by that particular present. He looks vaguely familiar…?"
"Heh, my Bern's so shaaarp~ That's why I love her so much, ehehe~ So, you know who this is already, huh?~"
"I believe so. But… hm. The elixir needed to forcefully transform somebody against their will like that is very, very easy to detect; almost impossible to put into somebody's food without them realizing… and a good quantity is needed for the transformation to work properly, too. I can't believe even that idiot would be stupid enough to unwittingly eat something like that- or, no… what am I saying?" Bernkastel began to cackle. "That idiot really is stupid enough to do something like that, isn't he?"
Lambdadelta shrugged. "Well, not quite. He didn't really want to eat it. I just had to get a little creative, that's all…
"Buuut, it paid off in the end!~ Now we have a new pet to play with, don't we? Oh ho ho ho!~"
Lambdadelta's face flushed with happiness, as she prodded the cute kitty in her hat gently. It tried to bite her- and she didn't blame him for being so angry; but she was the great Witch of Certainty, so she wasn't going to give him a freebie blow at her just like that.
She drew her hand away from the cat just in time- and laughed when it glared at her.
What a bad-tempered kitty.
"Hehe~ You said it yourself, didn't you?" said Lambdadelta. "You wanted to see just how cute my Bern looks when she's received a thoughtful Valentine's gift, didn't you? Well… now you have a chance to see that cute face that I've been selfishly hoarding aaaa~aall for myself, ahaha~
"Thank you for making such an adorable present… I really appreciate it, Battler~"
Meanwhile, somewhere in Purgatorio…
"Are you sure you're not upset with Battler for accepting all those chocolates, Beato?"
"Hm? Of course not, Teacher~" said Beatrice, cackling pleasantly. "Those chocolates were really delicious!~ Aaah, it was really thoughtful of him to accept all those chocolates knowing that I, his cute wife, would want to eat them all! Refusing chocolate is a siiiin, you know? I'd have Beelzebub pierce Battler's stupid skull if he even thought of refusing, gyahahahahihihi!~"
"…Well, I'm glad you're so happy," said Virgilia, sighing. "But aren't you a little worried about Battler? He's been missing for such a while now."
Beatrice rolled her eyes. "I'm sure he can take care of himself, Teacher. You worry too much."
a/n:Happy Valentine's Day, minna-san!~ I hope you enjoy your present, magu-chan ^_^;; I-it was kind of hellish to write, and I ended up cycling through a lot of ideas, and a lot of oneshot openings... but I hope it turned out alright in the end? *nervous laugh*