Mission 1: Treating You Like A Girl

I took in a deep breath as I stand outside of Annie's house. As I was about to raise my hand to knock on the door I start to think of what I should say to her in my head. Hello, Annie. Hi, Annie. Hey there, what's up Annie? YO, ANNAY! Why a top of the good mornings to you, my dear Annabelle (What…is that even her name?). Ugh why is it getting more and more progressively weird as I keep thinking? Argh, that's enough procrastinating I'm just going to knock and say whatever is on my mind. I gently tap on the door three times and wait for someone to open.

"Comiiiiiiiiing~" A cheerful voice calls out from inside, moments later Annie opens up the door. "Oh, good morning Hans."

"A-ah. Morning." I stammer.

"What's wrong?" She asks. "You look live you've just seen a dog."

"A dog? Isn't that a fairly mundane creature? Don't you normally say 'ghost'?" I question and gave her an inquisitive look.

"Yeah but I haven't seen one on this island yet so I figure it might be as rare as a ghost." She laughs gleefully.

"…Right." I stare at her dumbfounded.

"Anyway, what brings you here, Hans?" Annie smiles.

"Oh…I just thought I needed some assistance." I answer nervously.

"Really? What for?" She brightens up at the thought of being needed.

"Ugh…just something to do with work." I reply.

"Yay! I've been pretty bored lately. It's nothing hard right?" She jumps around a little.

"W-well that depends on your capabilities." I tease.

"Whaaa? Don't be so negative Hans. I'm confident in my alchemy skills now." Annie stuck her tongue out at me. "So what do you need me to make for you?"

"That's not why I came here." I straight-forwardly answer. "I need you to help my get rid of my fear of women within a few weeks. I concluded that the likelihood of success through role-playing and practicing would be very high if we were to conduct it properly."

"So you want me to be your play date for a while?" She asks nonchalantly.

"I-I prefer the term 'experimental partner' or something like that." I reply trying to hold back my annoyance.

"Hmm but Hans I thought I wasn't womanly enough for you. Why are you asking me?" She questions curiously. "Wouldn't it be better to go to Gillian or Liese?"

"W-well I thought maybe you could put some extra effort into your appearance while helping me. I'm just not comfortable enough around my other female friends." I respond honestly. "That is, if you don't mind."

"Dressing up?" Annie's eyes lit up. "That sounds kind of fun. So you want me to wear a maid costume? Or maybe a bunny suit? A school uniform? AH! I know a nurse's outfit right?"

"NO! Where are you getting such weird fetishes from? I'm not interested in that kind of thing!" I retort while blushing. "I hope this wasn't the kind of thing you were raised with."

"Then a nice dress?" She suggests innocently.

"That sounds feasible." I cross my arms and nod.

"Then what's the plan? I dress up more girly…then what? We go on a pretend date or something?" She asks.

"A d-date? NO way! There's no chance I'm going on an intimate and romantic outing with you!" I stutter and flail my arms around in the air. "I just wanted to pretend to take you around town and find topics t-to talk about! That's all! I am not interested in developing a personal relationship with this person!"

"Ahahahha, what's with that reaction Hans?" Annie laughs happily. "Alright, alright I get it. Come back in a few hours I'll become the cutest girl you've ever seen. You won't even recognise it's me."

"I look forward to working with you." I smile and then turn around to leave. "I'll see you late Annie. Don't forget."

*A few hours later*

"Hey, Annie. I've come to pick you up." I call out. I place my hand on the door handle and found that it was unlocked. "Oh. Well I'm coming in!"

"Ah! Hans, you're here!" A giddy voice calls out from the bedroom. "Look! Don't you think I've made a great effort?"

Annie then comes running out of the bedroom. I stand there staring. She had her hat and cap off. Her hair looked brushed and soft; her curls looked like ocean waves. She was no longer wearing that big, baggy and unflattering alchemist uniform but a pale white and blue dress. It was slightly frilly and gave off an aura of femininity and charm. Her rough boots were placed at the door and on her feet were light sandals that exposed her toes. She was wearing minimal accessories on her body; some silver earrings and bracelet. She carried a small woven bag like a satchel across her body. Annie then twirls around in circles to show my how the dress flows.

"Isn't it great? I synthesised it not too long ago. Even Pepe praised me on it. I made the design myself." Annie comments while having fun getting dizzy. "All this other stuff was synthesized too. Alchemy sure is useful. What do you think Hans?"

"U-ummm…" I hesitantly murmur. I couldn't find any word to describe what I was feeling right now. "Annie, you're a girl."

It's as if I'm seeing Annie in a different light. She looks so unusual. I'm not saying she looks like a weirdo but for the first time in god-knows-how-long I feel that Annie is a proper girl. Crap. I can't believe this but I'm starting to get a little self-conscious now. No way. Not around Annie. Just because she changed her clothes? How pathetic am I? I scan her attire and no matter what angle you look at her at…she looks like a genuine girl.

"H-ha? Of course I'm a girl. Don't be so rude Hans." Annie pouts at me and stops twirling. "You know what Hans? The first step to being confident with women is praising them. If you make them happy then it's a whole lot easier to deal with, no?"

"I see." My eyes widen at the fact. "Of course, I should learn to praise women first. Make them as comfortable with me as much as I can."

"That's right! Treat them as a girl! Let them know they're special. So let's start." Annie beams. "Hans~ What do you think of my dress? Is it cuteeee?"

"U-Ummm…did you always talk like that? In that girly high-pitched whiny voice?" I ask.

"We're role-playing! Just follow my lead!" Annie retorts. "You know~ I spend a lot of time on it just for you."

"U-ummm thank you." I stammer. "It looks lovely."

"Uwahhh~ Hans liked it! I'm so happy." Annie twirls around again. "Say, do you think I'm cute?"

"H-HA? What kind of question is that?" I yell.

"Just stick to your role, pretty boy." Annie sighs.

"Umm…yes." I answer.

"You're not putting any feeling into it." Annie complains.

"Yes, well nobody talks like that anyway." I sigh. "Maybe we should go outside. It'll probably give you an idea of how real people talk."

"Oooooh! Are we going out? Let's go get some ice-cream then!" Annie grins and bolts out the door.

I sigh and trail along after her. We head off to the Central Plaza where various stores at set up around; clothing, accessories, food and souvenirs. Annie runs up to the ice-cream stand and waves at me to hurry up. She then turns to the menu once I'm standing next to her and ponders for a while. I smile at her childishness and go to look at the menu myself. We have a wide range of flavours here on Sera Island. After a few moments of silence Annie perks up and decides to order the Cheesecake flavour and I order the sachertorte one. She then runs towards the benches and signals me to come over there. We both sat down and enjoy our frozen treats.

"Uwahh~ This tastes so goooood!" Annie exclaims in excitement.

"Really? Mine's pretty nice too." I laugh.

"Ooooh! I wanna try some!" Annie smiles widely and then proceeds to lean over and take a bite of my ice-cream. "Wow! That tastes amazing!"

"H-huh? W-what did you just do?" I jump up in surprise and embarrassment.

"Ehhh? I only took a bite. If you really want some more I can pay you back, you know?" Annie gives me a disconcerting look. "Don't be stingy Hans."

"N-no, that's not the problem." I blush madly with the ice-cream slowly dripping over my fingers. "W-why did you-"

"Ah! The ice-cream will go to waste!" Annie quickly gets up a licks the little bit of melted liquid off the cone next to my fingers. He tongue was so close I could basically feel it on my skin.

"Uraghhhhh!" I yell and quickly let go of the cone, letting plummet to the ground.

"Haaaa? What a waste. It was so yummy too." Annie looks sadly at the distorted cone on the ground. "You're pretty jumpy today. Are you okay, Hans?"

Okay? OKAY? I fell like my heart is about to leap out of my chest. My body feels so hot I could almost let Fenir eat me just so I could feel its fur. My mind feels so dizzy that I could collapse at any moment. This is all Annie's fault. It's because she decided to dress up as a girl yet still act in that oblivious manner of hers. What's with my feeling so self-conscious? Is it because I think she's just a little bit cute today? Just even a little bit? So much for treating her as a girl. Now she looks like too much of a girl to me. I then suddenly turn around so that she couldn't see my flushing cheeks and took several steps away.

"I think I better go now." I mutter silently. "We'll continue this some other time.