The elevator arrived at the top floor. The doors slid open, and then John walked forward onto the hallway leading to the streaming studio. But before he took even two steps, he paused and muttered, "That's... a lot of formations."
An ominous sight. Despite it being daytime, and early morning at that, the end of the hallway was wreathed in darkness. The area a few feet ahead looked normal, but the rest was completely blacked out, like a gateway into the abyss.
But it wasn't. The place only looked like that because there were so many protective and privacy formations laid down that light, sound, and apparently even space was cut off.
It was also only the top floor. And, true to Betty's meticulous nature, also only the interior of the building. A perfectly cut off volume, the exact size of the room past the end of the hallway.
"No wonder Alphy didn't try asking Betty where I was. I doubt there'd be a person who wouldn't be intimidated facing this." John sighed.
From the look of it, Betty *really* didn't want anyone seeing what she was up to. Enough to where she didn't even stop to think that Asako might come up to check on her and get freaked out by the ominous and super conspicuous gateway to the void.
Though it seemed like Asako hadn't, since she would definitely have reacted more when John was talking with her. Even so, the point remained.
"Mm..." John shifted the drink tray and stared at the formations, thinking. "On the one hand, I probably shouldn't intrude. On the other... this is a bomb just waiting to explode."
He was expecting her to go a bit overboard all things considered, but this... This was diving off the deep-end into dangerous territory. After all, the streaming studio was a workplace environment.
Did he just break the formations and walk in? Or did he give Betty a chance to clean up?
"...Well. I guess I embarrassed Alphy, so it's only fair that I embarrass Betty too."
With firm resolve, John walked forward.
It didn't take long for him to reach the formations. And when he did, he felt them activate, trying to repel him as well as send an alarm on the inside.
But it was trivial to stop those.
Raising up the tray of drinks, John glanced over towards the streaming computer and said, "Betty, I got you some-"
*Ahn~ Senpai, n-not there... I-I'm not ready yet...*
"...Of your favorite coffee?"
John's eyes reflexively took in the entire scene.
Beta was seated at the streaming area. The wall monitors were being used as actual monitors, paired with speakers that provided complete surround sound.
And on those monitors...
Pure white skin. A young woman with violet hair being embraced by a young man with orange hair.
Both were still clothed, but the young woman's dress shirt was unbuttoned and about to fall off.
"F-F-FATHER!" Beta jumped out of her chair and spun around. Her eyes were wide and rapidly shifting colors, going through every shade of the rainbow.
*Don't worry. I'll be gentle.*
Her eyes widened and she quickly picked up a remote from the ground, stopping the video. After, she turned back to John and said, "T-This is not what it looks like! I swear!"
John coughed, doing his best not to stare at Beta's ruffled blouse and loose skirt, the pile of 18+ doujins littering the floor, or the BlueGray box sets with scantily clad women stacked up against the desktop computer.
Beta noticed and turned a deep red.
An awkward silence filled the air.
...Was this what his parents felt like in the past when they walked in on him watching anime? No wonder they bought him a 'Do Not Disturb' sign for his birthday...
John cleared his throat and said, "I'll give you a few moments." With that, he spun around and walked back down the hallway.
The sound of items being thrown through the air. Rapid mouse button and keyboard clicks. A few stray moans and then furious button mashing before the sound of a power cable being ripped out.
And then silence.
Hearing that, John turned around and headed back to the streaming area.
Beta was standing by the desk with the main PC. Her face was still a deep red, but her clothes were fixed and everything in the studio was back the way it usually was.
John removed the time stop formations on the drinks and held out the tray to Beta.
"...Thank you, Father." She took the tray, pulling one of the mochas out, and then placed it on the desk. After that, she turned back to John.
John glanced at the monitor that was once again reflecting the office space and said, "I'm guessing you had a pretty... Er... fun night, all things considered."
Beta coughed and said, "It is not what you think. You just happened to arrive at a particularly inopportune timing."
John slowly nodded. "Uh-huh. And the other things?"
"...Works of art that I am studying in order to develop my drawing skills."
John gave Beta a blank look. "Art."
Beta quickly nodded. "Yes. Art. That is absolutely all that it was. No ulterior motives. None at all."
"...And you were so engrossed in your 'studies' of 'art' that you forgot to mention where I was to your older sister?"
Beta paused and then frowned. "I knew that I had forgotten something..."
Well... this was awkward. And unfortunate.
But on the bright side, Betty definitely wouldn't be asking John what he did last night now.
"Anyway." John held out his hand, making himself a cup filled with caramel macchiato from thin air. He grabbed it and then took a sip. "That aside, is there anything pressing that needs to be done soon, Betty?"
Beta took a long drink from her mocha. With that, her face finally returned back to its normal snowy pallor. When it did, she tilted her head to the side to think and then said, "Nothing of major concern. Well, other than the debuts of Eldest Sister and Asako." She took another sip from her coffee and said, "There are also the matter of auditions and press releases as both Myth Inc and Project MirAIs grow. But other than that, nothing."
John smiled. "Great! In that case, you're on mandatory leave for the next week."
Beta blinked and then her eyes widened. "E-Excuse me?"
John walked over to the chair in front of the desk and plopped himself down, sipping on his coffee. "You've worked hard enough, Betty. It's about time you get some proper rest... especially since you've pent up enough stress to relieve it in your work area."
Beta blushed and stomped her foot on the ground. "I told you that it was not like that, Father!"
"Sure, sure." John waved his cup and said, "For the record, I don't mind even if it is. But either way, you seriously need some time for yourself to unwind... and a private place to do it."
Beta crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. "Are you insinuating something, Father?"
"Of course not." John shook his head and said, "I'm seriously concerned for your mental health here." He frowned, remembering Alphy's situation and said, "You aren't like your older sister, so the situation isn't that bad. But this is still a place completely different from the Three Realms."
Beta raised an eyebrow. "And that makes a difference how?"
"It makes a difference because you're going to have to suddenly deal with a bunch of pent up tension and stress being dragged out since you don't have anything major to worry about." John fixed his gaze on Beta and said, "Betty. Take some time off and have fun. It would crush me if you broke down in tears because of all the pressure."
Beta blinked. And then she laughed.
Beta shook her head. "Nothing, Father. And in that case, I will leave you to be a responsible adult and do as my dear Father requests."
John leaned forward and placed his coffee down on the desk. "W-Wait a minute. You're accepting this a bit too easily-"
"I am only doing as you suggest, Father." Beta tilted her head and looked at John with wide, clear blue eyes. "You would not go back on your word, would you?"
"You know that those eyes don't work on me, Betty. And I wouldn't in the first place. But-"
Beta clapped her hands together. "Wonderful! Then I am going to claim one of the unused basement floors as my own private room and peruse my new collection." She started walking off to the elevator and placed a finger on her chin. "I wonder what colors I should use to decorate it? Ah, and I should purchase some cooking ingredients. It has been a while... I have also been meaning to explore Akihabara..."
Footsteps rounded the corner. The elevator doors opened and closed, a soft chime echoing shortly after.
And then John was alone.
He stared at the hallway leading to the elevator for a while and then frowned. "...Why do I feel like I've just been scammed?"
Betty seemed all too happy about that conclusion. Could it be that she had arranged the entire flow of the conversation to lead to that result?
John wouldn't put it past her, considering that she was much smarter than him. After all, his beloved second daughter wasn't called 'Ars Nova' without reason. Even after transcending, John still trusted Betty's judgment more than his own when it came to the important things.
...And in that case, maybe he shouldn't have scammed so many treasures away from people in front of her.
John took a sip from his coffee and frowned. "I didn't even get the chance to scold her for not passing my message to Alphy either." He sighed and then leaned back in his chair, drinking his coffee.
Well, at least he didn't have to worry about Betty as much as he did Alphy. It seemed like his beloved second oldest daughter was more mature than he thought. Rather than a teenager, it was almost like she was a grown adult daughter already making strides to become independent-
John paused. "Wait. Did Betty mention something about Akihabara?"
His beautiful, pure, and beloved daughter, wandering around in a place filled with otakus, NEETs looking to fuel their hobbies, and foreigners who were far more forward than Japanese?
John jumped to his feet and ran towards the elevator, determined to stop Beta.
And then he heard a faint chime. The elevator returning to the top floor.
John came to a stop, tilting his head in confusion. Did Betty come back already?
The elevator doors slid open. But it wasn't Betty.
"Eh?" Rin blinked, adjusting her blue duffel bag around her shoulder. "Mister John? Are you in charge of my schedule again today?"
Rin flinched. "S-Sorry. Did I-"
"No, no." John waved his hand and said, "It's great to see you, Rin. I'm just... finally realizing what it means to be a parent."
"Oh!" Rin nodded and walked out of the elevator, making her way to John's side. "Um... I don't know much about that, but cheer up, Mister John! Eldest Sister and Alpha nee-chan are incredible, so you can't have been too bad a father, right?"
"It's because they're so incredible that I'm worried."
John shook his head. "Nothing. Though I can understand why Sakura was so worried when she met me."
Rin tilted her head, question marks practically hovering over her.