Bill awoke with a tremendous headache. Clapping his hands to his head, he tried to hold his throbbing head together, fearing it just might split open. Feeling disoriented, he managed to sit up. The cold he felt was nothing now, compared to the grand-mother of all headaches. "Ouch," he moaned as he got to his feet and made for the bathroom to look for aspirin.
He got three steps, stumbled and fell.
"Sir Parkson, let me help you," Lady Shizuku said, appearing by his side. She got him up and guided him in to retrieve a bottle. Bill sat on the toilet seat as she got him a glass of water and two pills.
"Drink it all," she instructed.
Bill took the pills and downed the water. He handed the glass back to her and asked, "Can you just knock me out or something?"
"Sorry. I can try to ease the pain, but that's all I can do," she said sympathetically.
Bill staggered back to bed with Lady Shizuku's help. "Owwww! Is this part of food poisoning too?" he complained with a wince.
"I don't know what it is," Lady Shizuku replied as she got him laid down.
All but crying from the pain, he groaned, "It friggin HURTS!" No matter how hard he gripped his head, it felt like his head was coming apart. Lady Shizuku laid a hand on his forehead.
"You're burning up," she noted unhappily.
"Is he trying to avoid marrying Chika?" Lucy asked with a raised eyebrow from her first class seat. Once again, she was on a plane and headed off to meet with government officials.
"I don't think that is the case," Lady Himari's voice assured her from the console. "He is truly sick, and getting worse. His temperature has gone up. He passed out from the headache he has developed. Chika is nearby, and beside herself with worry. We're at a loss as to what to do."
"Doesn't sound good," Lucy mussed. "Keep me informed. The Far East conference is on schedule?"
"Yes, we will be handling trade problems as well as territorial difficulties." There was a short chuckle, and Lady Himari added, "I swear, at times it's almost like we're babysitting."
Lucy chuckled with her. "I can't argue with that," she agreed.
"Have a safe trip, my sister."
"You also, my sister."
Bill sat cross legged on the floor of a kid's play room surrounded by toys. In front of him, the busty violet haired woman with horns sat in the same pose as they played paddy-cake.
As their hands clapped out the rhythm, Bill asked, "What's going on?"
"We're playing!" the violet hair woman said happily. "Paddy cake, Paddy cake, bak-er's man.."
Her song changed in the last part to : "Roll it, bake it, mark it with a 'B'! A baby's in the oven for Chika and me!"
"What?" Bill asked in shock. He stopped clapping and gapped at her.
"A baby!" the woman announced, shooting her arms in the air as she beamed him a bright smile. Pointing her fingers at his head as if they were snakes, she tipped her head as she looked at him. "Not quite ready," she mussed. Her arms shot down, her fingers stabbing the sides of his head hard.
"GAHHHH!" Bill screamed as he violently came to consciousness. Flinging himself as if to get away from the stinging headache, he gripped his head as he thrashed. In his fit, he thrashed himself onto the floor. Feeling wetness, he found his head was bleeding.
"Bill!" Chika screamed as she ran in.
Unable to stand the pain any longer, Bill looked up at his lovely Chika and cried, "Please, knock me out, make it stop!"
Kneeling by him, Chika stared at him in a wide eyed gape.
"DO IT, please," Bill begged. He gripped her wrists to find blood on both his hands.
"This ... isn't possible," Chika whispered.
"Please, I can't take it..." Bill whined. Whether it was something Chika did, or his nerve endings finally giving out to the abuse, the pain in his head subsided. He laid his aching head in Chika's lap. "Thank you ... thank you,' he breathed in sighs. Free of the excruciating pain, he passed out again
"This is ... impossible," Chika said vacantly.
Bill stood in an assembly area, looking at an M-1 tank. Atop the tank, the violet haired woman waved happily to him. She hopped down onto the tread guard and sat down. Casting him a bright smile, she said, "You are doing very well!"
"Doing what? Who are you" he asked, confused.
Suzanne came running from one side, Diane from the other. They jumped up and sat on either side of the woman. "Hi Daddy!" they chorused as they waved to him.
"Let's sing!" the violet haired woman said cheerfully, and began clapping her hands. Suzanne and Diane matched her clapping rhythm. Clapping merrily, the violet haired woman sang :
"Yukaita loves all the little child-ren, all the children of the world! Red or yellow, black or white, they're all precious in her sight, Yukiata loves all the little children of the world."
Bill couldn't help but smile as Suzanne and Diane joined in and sang with her. They sang another round, and more kids appeared from nowhere to join in on the song. Some had horns, some didn't. By the time they sang yet another round, the tank was covered with kids of all ages. Their voices happily singing along to the rhythm.
"Daddy, sing with us!" Diane cried.
Bill sang. No matter how hard he tried, he didn't seem to be singing loud enough. He tried harder to raise his voice and show them he to was enjoying this happily infectious song.
Suddenly, he was standing in nothing. All around him was a light gray fog. The violet haired woman was in front of him, still clapping her hands. Looking at him intently, she sang ;
"Yukaita loves all the grown-up child-ren, all the grown up children of the world! Light or dark, without horns or with two, and yes, ev-en you! Yukaita loves all the grown up children of the world!" He was then grabbed in a tight hug.
Bill awoke with a sharp intake of breath. There was a cool, wet cloth on his forehead. The strange dream still echoed in his head.
"AH! You're finally awake," Chika said from a chair beside him.
Looking at her, Bill noticed her face looked a bit drawn. There were bags under her eyes. "Are you all right?" he asked automatically.
Chika smiled and petted his cheek. "I'm fine now. You really had me worried. How do you feel?"
"Headache is gone, besides a little wrung out, I feel OK," he offered.
"Thank Yukaita. Can you get up? Your sheets are soaked with sweat. I'd like to change them."
Bill got up and despite offering to help Chika, she made him sit as she stripped the bed and put new covers down. As she worked, he asked, "Umm, Chika, what does Yukaita look like?"
Chika cast him a smirk. "Yukaita is a Goddess. She doesn't have a physical form," she said with amusement.
Finishing smoothing out the bedding, Chika asked, "I take it you have questions? Is that why you were singing a religious school song?"
Remembering his dream vividly, Bill frowned at her. "That's a real song?"
"A song for young children, yes, but how do you know it?" Chika asked.
Bill shrugged and said, "I dreamed this woman sang it to me. She was a sect member, she had horns, violet colored hair, really busty like Mariko is..." He stopped explaining as Chika gapped at him. "What?" he asked innocently.
"Did she tell you her name?" Chika asked, studying him closely.
"No. I asked... but she didn't say."
Chika stared at him a few seconds longer, then quickly put a new case on his pillow. Speaking as quickly as she moved, Chika said, "I'll get a bath ready for you, and bring your clothes. There is something I'd like you to see."
"OK," Bill agreed. When Chika left, he got up and tested his legs. He was a little weak from lying in bed for who knew how long, but he was stable. He got undressed and into a robe. Feeling an itch, he went to scratch the side of his head. His fingers bumped into something hard.
"What?" he asked himself and bumped it again. It was hard, and he could feel his taps on his head.
Bill went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. "Holy fuck!" he said in a gasp. Sprouting from the sides of his head, just like he'd seen on every other member of the Yukaita sect, was a pair of triangular horns. He pulled on them, thinking maybe this was a joke. He pulled and pushed, but they were attached to his skull.
His first thought was that when Lucy saw them, she would think he was making fun of her, and beat him severely. "No ... this isn't happening," he moaned.
Hearing the door open, he quickly grabbed a towel and wrapped his head up. Peeking out, he saw Lady Shizuku. "Greetings, thank you for helping to take care of me," he offered with a nervous grin as he came out.
Lady Sizuku eyed him. "You are welcome, though your Lady has been doing most of the work. Chika has been by your side day and night since she arrived," she said, the tipped her head and added, "Are you feeling well?"
"Yes, much better. I ...ahh... my hair was rather dirty ... so I rinsed my head off in the sink. I don't want to get water on the floor," he explained as he made it up.
"That's fine, but Chika is getting your bath ready," Lady Shizuku said cautiously.
Holding the towel to his head, he made short scrubbing motions. "Yes, very thoughtful of her. .. And thank you for checking on me," he said nervously.
Casting him a wary eye, Lady Shizuku asked, "What is wrong with you?"
"Nothing ... not a thing. Just a bit ... disoriented. I'll be fine, honest," he explained, praying that Lady Shizuku would leave. She didn't leave. A mind hand came out and raced at his head. Without thinking, he dodged to the side. He thought about wanting to grab her mind hand, and one sprung from him to grip what he imagined as her 'wrist'. As her jaw dropped, Bill did the only thing he could think of.
"So sorry!" he cried, and bowed quickly to her. "I didn't mean it! I ... I ... I'm SO screwed! Please, oh PLEASE, don't tell anyone!"
Silence reigned for a few moments. Lady Shizuku recovered her composure and in a firm tone said, "Remove the towel, please."
"I don't want to," Bill said meekly.
"Remove the towel. Please," Lady Shizuku ordered.
Feeling defeated, Bill pulled the towel off his head. "I ... don't know what happened... but I'm not making fun of anyone. I ... woke up like this. Maybe it's a joke, and someone glued them to my head," he offered.
"You saw my mind hand, as well as grabbed it. Was that part of this joke also?" Lady Shizuku asked heavily.
"I'm really sorry about that," Bill said with a wince.
"MY point," Lady Sizuku said evenly, "Is that those horns are real, and so was that mind hand. Yukiata only knows how you were... transformed like this, but there is no joke. You are a full sect member, Sir Parkson."
"I can't be," Bill countered. "I mean, HOW? I got food poisoning... I had a bad headache... This HAS to be one of those weird dreams I've been having."
Chika came in and announced, "Bill, your bath is ready. Greetings, Lady Shizuku."
Lady Shizuku gave a slight bow to Chika. "Please get him into the bath, then come see me. We have much to discuss."
Bill sat in the bath, agonizing over his dilemma. Would they kill him for this? Would someone try to snatch him and experiment on him to find out why he had changed? As he thought about that, he began to realize that this was the very reason Lucy was so aggressive. Her kind ... or rather his kind now, HAD been taken without regard to their well being, or their loved ones. He had kept those girls without any thoughts about how worried their families might be. No matter how he tried to justify himself, he was the bad guy.