Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 11 – Until Spring is Here
The next thing Rick heard was the sound of water rippling around him.
To him, who was currently swimming in his subconsciousness, the sound of water was somewhat familiar.
Rick began to wonder where he was now. He speculated that he’d either been soaking in the lake he frequented as a child, or maybe at the beach that he went to during the spring of last year.
The water around him was calm, reminding him of those two places. It was not the kind that would drag him down and drown him within its depths. Instead, it was gently soothing as it came in contact with his body, providing the warmth he needed and making him feel at ease, as if he’d been held in an embrace.
At this moment, Rick began to realize something. The water… is warm?
With water as warm as this, there was no way he could be at the lake or the sea. Desiring answers to the questions that began to arise in his mind, Rick slowly opened his eyes.
As soon as his eyes were fully open, he heard a voice from somewhere beside him say, “Rick…”
Rick jumped in astonishment at his name being called. Still wrapped in confusion, he looked around to observe his surroundings, and it turned out that he was now in a bathtub filled with warm water. Rick examined the bathtub he was in, but it did not take long for him to realize that it was not any old bathtub—in fact, Rick had been in this bathtub before, and he could recognize it perfectly. This bathtub belonged to Davis.
Rick had no idea what was going on. He tentatively craned his neck to look towards the direction of the voice that had just called out to him.
“D- Da-… vis?”
Rick wasn’t alone all this time. As it turned out, Davis was in the tub with him, holding him in a sweet and pleasant embrace from behind. Rick was shocked, but his body was demanding of the bear’s presence more than anything else. As though he’d wanted to lean against Davis’s body, Rick immersed himself deeper into the tub. The squirrel could not help it.
Now that he found himself in the bathtub, he wondered how he could have gotten into a bathtub in the first place. And in Davis’s bathtub, to boot.
“You’re finally awake,” Davis said, his voice as low and gentle as ever.
“Umm? Oh, yes…”
“How are you feeling? Are you hurting anywhere?”
Why would Davis ask such questions all of a sudden? Rick thought, his gaze fixed on the bear’s face in a daze.
“No… I’m fine.”
“Are you cold?” Davis inquired, the concern clear in his expression.
“Ah, no, the water’s warm…”
After hearing him speak, Davis smiled in relief. But, not long after, the bear’s handsome face formed a frown…
“It’s cold outside. Why did you come out?”
“Ah… Well, you see…”
On being questioned by Davis, Rick remembered that he was out in the cold not long before he’d ended up in this bathtub. Moreover, he now recalled that he’d gotten lost along the way as well.
Afterwards, he had no memory of what had happened. Perhaps he was rescued after he’d lost consciousness.
Rick turned behind him, looking towards Davis again. There was no doubt, the one who rescued him was none other than…
Davis added, “We’re still in the middle of winter. Besides, it’s heavily snowing outside. I thought you’d already know that our bodies are weaker during this period. You should’ve stayed indoors, as we’re still in hibernation.”
Davis was simply telling the truth. Rick had nothing to say to refute the bear, so he could only remain silent over his own mistakes. At one instance, he opened his mouth, trying to say something, but no words could come out.
“You were unconscious when I found you. I’m afraid something much more terrible would’ve happened to you if I hadn’t…”
Davis had a stern look on his face.
His dark eyes intently peered into Ricks’, which made the squirrel gulp in response. Davis’s gaze was just as sharp as his words.
“All beastmen are weaker during hibernation, especially a small beastman like you. You should’ve been more careful…”
Goosebumps were beginning to appear on Rick’s skin. Indeed, smaller beastmen the likes of him were prone to falling victim to petty crimes, not to mention that the crime rate during hibernation was higher. Small beastmen were already weak by nature, and even more so during this period. Rick himself had never experienced it, but he often kept hearing such unpleasant stories from the news. There was nothing he could do to defend himself if anything were to happen to him in these conditions.
Although he wasn’t cold, Rick was shivering. That’s not to say that the bathtub wasn’t very effective in warming him up. Rather, the squirrel was shaking due to the fear that dawned on him from this realization.
Watching him shudder, Davis too, was lost for words.
Davis helplessly sighed. Then, he tightened his arms around Rick, the sounds of water splashing resounding as he moved.
Davis held Rick closer to him, burying his face into the latter’s shoulder. Davis’s arms were strongly wrapped around Rick, yet were gentle enough to allow the squirrel to breathe freely in the bear’s embrace.
Davis’s hair brushed softly against Rick’s cheek.
“…Is it because of me?”
Pain was dripping in Davis’s voice as he spoke.
“Is it because I kissed you?” Davis asked, his voice sounding like a whisper to Rick’s ears. “You didn’t like it, so you wanted to run away from me?”
Rick hung his head low. His vision was surrounded by Davis’s arms wrapped around him.
Rick took his time to observe Davis’s tanned, muscular arms around him. The squirrel’s eyes followed the drops of water that dripped down from Davis’s arms and, at that point, he was able to see the outline of the bear’s toned muscles. Noticing it made Rick feel something, and he quickly peeled his eyes away from this sight.
Disheartened, Davis mumbled to Rick in a dejected tone.
“I’m sorry, I can’t just put all the blame on you. I kissed you so lightly, but still I know you weren’t able to do anything to stop me.”
Rick shook his head, “No, that’s not true…”
Rick looked towards Davis, turning behind him. At the same time, Davis had raised his head from Rick’s shoulder. And just like that, their eyes met each other again. Rick’s heart skipped a beat on perceiving their closeness.
“No, I was definitely assaulting you.”
“I felt so embarrassed after kissing you. The fact that I’ve finally kissed you was too much for me; I ended up running to the bathroom.”
Davis looked Rick in the eye with a serious expression, indicating that he was not messing around. Rick felt as though the energy had been drained from him, his body sank deeper into the tub, before Davis pulled him back up into the tight grip of his sturdy arms, refusing to let go.
“Rick…” Davis whispered, voice thick with emotion. “I love you.”
The shock made Rick go into denial, as Davis affirmed his feelings for the squirrel. He spoke firmly. Boldly. Directly to Rick’s face.
Davis added, “I thought you were cute, but that’s not the only reason. You are really kind, you gave me nuts when you came to my house. You are quick to thank me for everything I did, and you’re a hard worker too – after knowing you more, I grew to love everything about you…”
Rick croaked, “Ah, aahhh…”
Striiiike! Batter out! Strikeout! Change up!
Just like the calls made in baseball, such phrases loudly sounded in Rick’s head with each thump of his heart. In the end, the squirrel’s brain could no longer function. Rick sank into the tub, but Davis held him closer, until he was leaning against the bear’s chest.
“Thanks to you, this is the happiest hibernation I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
Rick had never heard Davis talk this much, not to mention that it was for confessing his love, much to the squirrel’s bafflement. In a daze, Rick helplessly watched Davis’s face. And in return, the bear looked back at him intently, as if he would not allow the squirrel to look away, trapping him into a trance.
“Sharing a bed with you was such a pleasant experience that I had a wonderful dream as soon as I was asleep. You made me feel at ease — I’ve never felt like that with anyone else.”
To tell the truth, Rick also had the same feeling about Davis. He always had a good night’s sleep, and he thought that he was having the best hibernation as well. Hence, Rick would love to experience the same thing once again — he wanted to sleep with Davis in the same bed again.
However, Rick was unsure if he reciprocated Davis’s feelings. After all, Davis loved Rick in a romantic sense. The squirrel did not know what to make of his emotions towards the bear. Rick was severely inexperienced in all this.
For now, Rick could not even make up his mind.
“I’m going to say it again… Rick, I love you.” Davis blushed. “How about you? What do you think of me–“
“N-no! Please! Hold on a second!”
Rick shielded his face with his arms crossed before him, obstructing Davis’s face from his sight.
Davis only tilted his head in confusion.
Even though Davis was the one who confessed, Rick who was being confessed to was the one getting restless. Rick was in a tight spot, the squirrel himself could see it. He could not properly form words to say in his muddled head, and thus he did not know how to respond to Davis’s confession. Rick could only nod his head repeatedly in understanding instead.
(Perhaps, it’s too early for me…)
Rick’s subconscious told him that now was probably not the right time.
He needed a little time to sort out his feelings. His head was still utterly disoriented.
Silence filled the room, only the sounds of water dripping from the tub could be heard. After a while, Rick took a deep breath, and opened his mouth to break the still tranquility.
“I’m sorry… This is the first time I’ve had someone confess to me, so…”
“Are you shy?”
“Umm… Well, I won’t say I’m not, but- “
“You look adorable when you’re like this.”
The fur on Rick’s tail stood up; the squirrel flailed his arms in irritation.
“Don’t talk to me like that, Davis! Don’t you know that you can make even a man like me swoon!? It’s because you’re such a handsome man!”
Davis looked at Rick, bewildered. “You think I’m handsome?”
“O-, of course! You’re really handsome!”
Rick thought that Davis was handsome, every one of his facial features looked perfect from all angles. Davis was happy to hear Rick’s compliment. The man fondly looked at the squirrel in the eye, and stroked the other’s wet hair.
“I’m so happy to hear that from you.”
(Argh! This guy!)
Davis was so damn hot that the water in the bath would never get cold (whistle: tsss the water turns into steam now :^)), Rick painfully thought to himself as he clenched his chest. His heart was pounding so hard that he could hear it reverberate in his ears; he gritted his teeth in frustration.
“H-hey… Please, don’t touch me so softly… I’m not used to it. If you keep patting me, then… My heart would race too fast — whether it’s because I love you or anything… I still don’t know.”
Rick replied as if he was pouring all his feelings into it. Then he timidly closed his eyes.
Although Rick still was not sure of his actual feelings for Davis, he was aware that his heart was beating rapidly in his chest whenever the bear was close to him. Not only that, Rick would also be strangely at ease. At least, Rick knew perfectly well that he did not hate Davis. The actual question was whether or not Rick was in love with him.
“I don’t know what I actually think of you as, so I think I cannot properly respond to your feelings right now.”
“I see. I understand.”
Davis seriously nodded his head. He had a tense expression on his face, although Rick had tried to word his response as politely as possible. This showed how much the bear would take the squirrel’s words to heart.
Rick did not want to hurt Davis. After all, the bear had never done anything that could hurt him.
“Then, I will wait for your final response.”
It took a while for Davis to utter those words. Rick could not look away from the bear’s handsome face, and scanned for any hints of pain or disappointment in the latter’s expression.
“But how long should I wait?”
Rick tilted his head upon Davis’s question. He had been so touched by the bear’s words before, that he was now rendered speechless. He did not expect such a question from the latter. Little did Rick know that Davis too, was just as perplexed.
“How long do you want me to wait for you?”
Davis repeated the question, in case it would sound more clear to Rick this time. In response, the squirrel could feel his face stiffen.
Rick was backed into a corner, he clearly saw how serious Davis was. He looked at Rick as if he was trying to see through the man, to see where the squirrel’s heart resides.
As Davis merely repeated the question he’d asked, Rick became nervous. His throat was dry, perhaps due to the constant heat coming from the bath. Feeling Davis’s body temperature, and blood rushing to his own cheeks… He forced words to come out from his throat.
“Spring will come after the hibernation period is over. So…”
Rick gulped. On the other hand, Davis was anticipating Rick’s answer… the bear had made sure he would catch every word that the squirrel said so he would not miss anything. Then, Rick braced himself to utter his next words, as he finally regained the courage to face Davis again.
“Please wait until spring.”