Something sweet as sugar & slightly nonsensical
Short o1: The one with toothaches


Battler had been trying to keep a steady expression, but now the pain was getting just a little too much, even for him.

Sure, in his long and colorful history he'd suffered a lot of physical anguish, from being beaten up by Jessica for persistently stealing her toy dinosaurs when he was six, to being staked to death repeatedly by Beato's weird harm of big-breasted sisters. Pain was nothing new to him. This should, by all rights, have been a piece of cake. A walk in the park.

Something he could shrug off and laugh about.

But that didn't change the fact it really, really hurt.

"A-aah… D-damn it… damn it, damn it, d-damn iiiit… A-aahn… …"

Useless. It was all useless.

Alerted, no doubt, by Battler's moan of pain, that damn demon butler looked up from his task of darning one of Asmodeus' socks to meet Battler's eyes.

"Oh? That doesn't sound like a particularly positive sound… Is anything the matter?"

Battler glared at Ronove sourly, hating him and his stupid smile.

"Heh… … i-ihihi… Y-you ask if I'm alright? Why would you need to ask something so stupid- you have eyes, don't you? C-can't you tell I'm in pain? … …C-che… d-damn it… … …"

"Pu ku ku~ I did notice, yes- but I was under the assumption it was considered good manners to ask how people are feeling when they claim to be in pain? I was merely trying to be polite."

"Yeah, well, I-I'll tell you where you can stick your manners… Ihihi… … Y-you can just-"

"No, you don't need to elaborate. Judging by your tone of voice, and your rather charming manner of speech, I believe I have enough clues to assume what the rest of your sentence will entail~"

"Ihihi… A-aaah, so now you want to give me a headache as well? Che." Battler made a small sound halfway between a scoff and a gasp of pain, as he gently pressed one hand against his swollen cheek. "A-aah… I-I bet this is all your fault, you damn demon butler. Yeah- this pain I'm feeling right now, it's all your fault."

"Oh?" Ronove raised a brow. "And how would that be? Please do go on- I'm curious. How I have wronged you, exactly?"

"Heh. Heheh… I-it's simple, really." And with that, Battler stabbed the finger of his free hand at Ronove from across the table (the other hand still preoccupied with cupping his own cheek). "This is my proclamation. If you didn't keep baking me so many of those delicious cookies, and making them so damn tasty I just have to eat all of them, then… u-urgh… … t-then I definitely wouldn't have such an awful toothache! Doesn't that make you the culprit?"

But Battler's dramatic proclamation was ruined when, moments after, his small smirk of triumph was replaced with a grimace.

Whimpering pathetically, he let his hand fall against the tabletop once more with a dull thump.

His toothache… really was terrible.

He'd had toothache before, of course- it was a minor discomfort most people suffered from time to time; but this was much, much worse than a normal toothache. It felt like somebody was tightening screws into his back teeth until they penetrated into his gums- aaaah, it was really painful! T-this was the kind of toothache only a demon could have given to somebody, wasn't it?

Y-yeah, it was probably that damn butler's fault; it was all his fault…

Probably.

Most likely.

It had nothing to do with the fact Battler had eaten a whole plateful of Ronove's delicious sugar cookies before he went to bed last night, of course not; that didn't even factor into it, i-it wasn't Battler's fault! Battler refused to believe this horrible, blunt, agonizing pain that had plagued his mouth all day was his own fault!

Blaming somebody else for his own pain made it easier to bear.

Just a little.

Ronove surveyed Battler in silence for a few moments; watching as the redhead's face contorted through a series of rather horrible expressions that certainly didn't look healthy.

Then, after a small pause… … a very soft smile spread across Ronove's lips.

It wasn't cruel or teasing, as it so easily could have been in a situation like this.

Instead, it was warm- and genuinely caring; maybe just a little amused, but… not nastily so.

It was the kind of smile a friend might have given to another when they were feeling depressed; the kind of smile usually reserved to cheer others up. Yeah, it was that kind of familiar smile, and it made Battler shudder to think they maybe he'd known Ronove for such a while now they might have reached a relationship where exchanging sincere expressions like that was okay.

Damn it.

Had they somehow become 'friends' without Battler even realizing it?

That demon butler was pretty damn sneaky, chipping away at Battler's defenses bit by bit with his tasty tea, or cookies- or sometimes, occasionally, with his genuinely interesting and intelligent conversation that was fun to partake in.

Not that would Battler would admit it.

"My, my. I was wondering why you were occasionally pulling these rather… unique… faces throughout the course of this day. I didn't want to say anything for fear of being rude, but I was beginning to worry you may have been possessed by demons. So it's only a toothache? That is quite a relief, pu ku ku~"

"H-haha, yeah- l-laugh all you want, you damn bastard- b-b-but I kinda wish it was a demon. I could just exorcise them, or throw holy water at it or something, b-but how can I solve this problem? You want me to tear my own back teeth out? Is that what you want? Is that why you kept feeding so much tasty food- so I will literally have to pull my own teeth out, and Beato could wear them as a chocker?"

Battler glanced up at Ronove, still with that sour expression on his face that could curdle milk; hand clapped miserably to the side of his cheek. His fingers were trembling slightly.

"Ihihi… ihihi… … Y-you really are a bastard…"

Ronove returned this rather vitriolic statement with another small smile.

"Ah, now it is a pity you would think that, isn't it? Hm… What a shame. Especially as I have grown to rather like you… and I doubt our wonderful relationship could deepen if you felt I was trying to make you… tear your own teeth out, was it? That is hardly the type of activity people do when they wish to bond with one another~ I feel you have misunderstood me completely."

Shaking his head bemusedly, Ronove set aside Asmodeus' sock (the one he had been darning earlier) on the arm of his chair. Then, in one very graceful and fluid motion, he snapped his fingers- and a single golden butterfly alighted upon the circular table between the two men.

When it burst, it created a small outwards explosion of tiny, glittering fragments of gold. These fragments soon revealed a rather elegant willow patterned cup, filled with a clear liquid that wasn't tea.

Battler looked at it suspiciously.

"What's that for?"

"It's for you. Hot water and lemon- imbued with some magic slightly kinder than the magic you have seen Milady use so often. I believe it should be of some help for your ailment."

"Hm? Is this some kind of demon's trick?"

Battler picked up the cup, staring at his distorted reflection in the contents dubiously.

"Like, it'll cure my toothache by making me bleed maggots from the stomach or something, putting me in so much pain I can't even think about my poor teeth anymore? Is that it? It sounds like the kind of thing a friend of Beato's would do, ihihi- o-ow… … a-aah… d-damn it…"

And yet, despite his attempted bravado, his teeth were still aching.

Ronove laughed. "I'm afraid I find any kind of magic involving maggots rather ungraceful. It's not really my style. I merely wish to offer you some comfort. You have been through rather a lot during Milady's games, so it seems rather unfair a minor affliction like a toothache should hinder you as well. I merely have your best interests at heart."

"Oh? Is that so?"

"It is so. I'm not a sadist, and I don't enjoy seeing you in pain. I believe your smiles are far more attractive, pu ku ku~"

"Eheheh… W-watch it there. You're getting a little familiar with me- it's making my skin crawl."

"Oh, do forgive me. The Seven Sisters enjoy it when people compliment their appearance; I am afraid I am unable to shake the habit now, pu ku ku~"

"Heh… Well, complimenting hot girls is always fine…"

"And what if, per say… I happened to find you more attractive than any woman…?" Ronove smiled mischievously, shamelessly; his fingertips now laced together, as he rested his head on his hands, elbows on the table top. "Would it be fine if I decided to compliment you then?"

Battler's cheeks immediately flared red at that- though he tried, desperately, to keep his temperature under control.

He knew, if he tried to retort, he'd just get tongue-tied, and then Ronove would see that as an opportunity to tease him even more. It was best to just ignore it.

Just ignore it…

Battler glared down at the cup of hot water and lemon suspiciously, as though it had wronged it; trying to force himself not to blush.

He still didn't entirely trust the drink Ronove had prepared for him. Battler half-expecting it turn thick, sticky and bright red blood when he pressed it to his lips. Of course, it did no such thing. It was just water.

Ronove might have said a lot of outrageous things at Battler's expense, but he didn't seem to be inherently cruel. Battler knew, deep down, Ronove would never play a horrible trick on him like that.

Maybe he was reading into it too much.

This drink was… … a kind gesture… maybe.

And there didn't seem to be any malice behind it.

There was no malice behind Ronove's smile at all.

T-that damn demon butler… really was too friendly. Way too friendly to be trusted. And Battler hated relying on Beato's allies for help; something about it just felt wrong, and yet-

"O-ow…"

-and yet his teeth really did hurt quite a bit.

So, even though accepting that demon's kindness made him feel… kind of strange (how many people in Purgatorio were nice to him?), and a little like he'd given in… Battler really couldn't refuse.

There was nothing wrong with relying on others… just a little, was there?

No.

He didn't think there was.

He hoped that was the case.

The moment he brought the cup to his lips, he swore, just for a second… that he saw a very, very sincere, and earnest, and truly flattered expression flicker across Ronove's face.

Thank you for trusting me. It will make our light-hearted conversations far more enjoyable in the future...

Ronove's smile was probably saying something like that. Ronove rarely confessed to Battler his own personal feelings, and everything he did say seemed to be coated so thickly in impenetrable politeness that masked rather deadpan sarcasm it was difficult to take any of it seriously.

But... Battler thought he could take that briefest flicker of an honest, open, happy expression on that demon's countenance at face value.

It seemed Ronove really did value his company.

The drink was warm and soothing when it went down.

That was why it happened. I-it was because the drink was too hot. That was all. There was no other reason for it; absolutely no other reason.

There was no other reason… … w-why Battler was blushing.


a/n: Ahaha another umineko oneshot collection? Don't worry, this won't be anywhere near as long as Dysfunctional. It's just a dumping ground for all the Ronove/Battler oneshots I happen to have written over the past few weeks. Because they're all about one pairing they might get a bit samey, I do apologize *bows head* I hope they're all of decent quality, at least.

~renahhchen xoxoxo