Editor: Ferret Thao
Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 3: Starting Today, This Place is Home
In the end, Rick dragged his slippers along as he was led into the living room.
Rick was then seated on a large, single-seat sofa. It was an armchair, but it seemed like Rick could share it with one or two more people. Moreover, Rick’s feet weren’t even touching the ground. His slippers swayed, dangling above the floor. Although three people could fit on it, such a hopelessly big chair wasn’t suitable anywhere else but here. Rick thought so, at any rate.
“Here you go.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you very much.”
Davis placed a steaming cup on top of a low table. Naturally, both the cup and the saucer it was on were very large, and they appeared giant even when Rick held them in both hands.
Rick had gotten Davis to stop speaking to him formally, since Davis was older than him in the first place. Additionally, Rick would be living in his home from now on. He didn’t want Davis to be overly-considerate of him, so Rick had nervously suggested that Davis speak to him informally. Davis had easily approved with a nod.
The tea was very warm. Conversely, Rick was cold down to his core after having traveled through the cold winter weather on his way to Davis’ house. The delightful-smelling tea pleasantly warmed up Rick’s body, and after draining the cup, he shifted his gaze to look down at it. It was a simple white cup. It did not appear to have any tea stains, and it was very beautiful. The cup wasn’t the only thing that was beautiful; the entire room was clean and orderly. Generally speaking, it seemed too tidy to be a bachelor pad.
After putting the cup back on the table, Rick tried to look around the room without ogling it.
“…How about a tour of the house?”
“Ah, um, no–”
Davis noticed Rick looking around and mistakenly assumed that he was curious about the layout of the house. Davis had stood up and was pointing toward the door at the back of the room.
“You don’t want a tour?”
“Ah, no, that’s not it! Um, please excuse me. I would like a tour, please.”
With a blank expression, David urged Rick to take a tour. Making an embarrassed and apologetic face, Rick started to stand up. Suddenly, he remembered that he had put the paper bag with his gift next to him. He offered it to Davis.
“Ah! Um, Mr. Davis…this is…”
He had brought some high-quality nuts as an offering.
He thought that since bears were omnivorous, they probably ate nuts. Therefore, Davis would probably like his gift.
“They’re nuts. There aren’t that many, but if you like…”
Rick’s voice quietly trailed off. He had bought the nuts because he thought his hibernation partner would be happy to receive them, but what he’d bought probably wasn’t enough to satisfy a bear’s appetite. They were too small, and there weren’t enough, but they were still high-quality nuts that most people could not afford… Rick fretted, hanging his head. Then, he let go of the paper bag.
A kind, warm voice hit his ears. When he looked up, he saw that Davis was smiling slightly.
He did not seem like the type of person who was very expressive, but that didn’t mean that he was incapable of smiling at all. One side of Davis’ mouth quirked into a grin, and it seemed like he was truly happy. With a sigh of relief, Rick began to calm down.
“Ah, no. I should…be the one thanking you.”
Caught up in the mood, Rick also smiled, which caused Davis’ eyes to crinkle with happiness in response. Then, he said, “Well, let’s start over here.” and turned toward a door and started walking. Rick hurried after him.
“That’s the bathroom. The toilet’s right there.”
Davis opened the doors to the rooms one by one and let Rick view them thoroughly. Like the living room, each room was neat and tidy. On top of that…
“It’s big, huh?”
“Haa~” The bathroom was so large that Rick couldn’t help but let out an appreciative sigh. Rick guessed that ten people could comfortably fit inside of it. He didn’t really want to think about it, but this bathroom was probably a little larger than Rick’s bedroom back at his scorched house.
With his mouth agape in awe, Rick turned his head to look around the room.
The hall that they were walking down was also fairly wide. The house was probably designed for the use of bear beastmen; the ceiling was high and open, too.
“Even though this house is really big, it’s really warm, huh? It’s nice.”
When Rick inadvertently blurted out his thoughts, Davis glanced back at him.
“It’s ‘cause I’ll be hibernating.”
“I see. Right, of course.”
Because he was also a hibernating species, Rick nodded to show that he understood.
The warmer it was, the more comfortable one’s hibernation would be. Rick’s (now burned-down) apartment had also been warm.
(Of course. But it was a small, one-room apartment…)
With his first paycheck, he’d bought a much-needed sleeping cushion to cover his fairly large bed. Then, he’d heaped two soft blankets on top. It had taken up just about the whole room, but it had suited Rick just fine. When he was on his bed, he liked to curl himself in a ball and hug his tail while he slept.
Speaking of which, last week he’d bought some fresh nuts for his hibernation. He had planned to put them right next to his bed so when he woke up from hibernation, with his stomach practically empty, he’d be able to reach out and grab them.
He had just bought them, and they were still in the box. He had wanted to open them that very night. He was starting his hibernation vacation the next day, so it would have been perfect.
He had been really excited and had looked forward to opening the box of nuts and starting his hibernation. But everything had been burned up. Everything. Every single thing.
Rick’s favorite bed, the new pouch he had bought for his nuts, and even his memories. Everything had been completely turned to ash.
“…Warm houses are nice, aren’t they?”
Rick was a bit saddened by the thought that he could not return to his room.
Because of his dejected mood, the tip of Rick’s tail drooped.
“Starting today, please think of this as your own home.”
At Davis’ quiet but reassuring words, Rick looked up. At that moment, Davis opened the door to the next room.
“This is my first time meeting a squirrel beastman, so I’m not sure if I got everything right…Well, if there’s anything wrong, don’t hesitate to speak up.”
Without really understanding what Davis meant, Rick looked through the door that Davis had opened. Then, his eyes grew wide.
It was a spacious room.
A large bed had been placed in the center of the room, and on top of it were fluffy cushions and a soft-looking blanket–both of which were essential to a squirrel’s hibernation.
Furthermore, there was a silver tray on top of the bedside table piled with nuts. Next to that was a bowl to place the shells in.
As a bonus, between the piles of cushions was a squirrel plushie. It stared straight at Rick with its big, round eyes.
It seemed like this room was probably…
“Is this room, perhaps…?”
“Use it as you like.”
Davis said, urging Rick through the open door. Rick nervously stepped into the room.
Though he was still wearing slippers, he could sense that the carpet was really soft. There were lights next to the entrance, in the center of the room, next to the bed, and beside the windowsill. Each of the lights softly illuminated the room.
There was a table and a sofa next to the window, as well as loungewear. It was like a hotel.
(He went through the trouble of preparing this room all for me?)
As soon as he understood that, Rick’s heart swelled with warmth.
He thought that he’d cried himself out during the fire, but once again, tears began to slowly well up in the corners of his eyes. It seemed like Rick would never run out of tears.
“Is there something wrong with it?”
“That’s…not it….without knowing anything about me, you did all this…I apologize.”
The second half of his speech was unintelligible.
He gestured with his arm in an attempt to convey his sentiments, but it was no use. Rick looked down and shook his head.
Davis had never met him. He didn’t know him. Nevertheless, Davis had spent hours organizing a room for Rick, who had suddenly been dumped on him. He had done it all in the hopes that Rick would be able to hibernate comfortably.
He couldn’t hold back his tears, which began to drip onto the carpet.
“It was…a coincidence.”
“I just happened to be starting my hibernation vacation tomorrow.”
Wondering what he was talking about, Rick looked up at Davis through teary eyes.
“One of the firefighters who was dispatched to put out the fire at your apartment just happened to be a close colleague of mine.”
In his head, the gentle face of the firefighter came to mind.
Rick blinked a couple of times, a few more tears rolling down his face. But that was all. Before he knew it, his tears had stopped.
“I just happened to have a house suitable for hibernation, and I had an extra room.”
“When I received the phone call from my co-worker, I just happened to be out buying some hibernation supplies. I think…I managed to buy everything that a squirrel would need for their hibernation.”
He didn’t sound totally confident. After saying such vague words, Davis scratched his cheek awkwardly.
“It was all just one big, inevitable coincidence…I’m sure that’s what it is..”
It was probably Davis’ way of telling Rick that he did not need to worry. Rick already had a hundred apologies on his tongue, but he knew that Davis wasn’t interested in more apologies now. So Rick just bowed his head again and thanked him.
“T-thank you very much, but, um…I can’t use a room this nice.”
Obviously, this room was too good for Rick. Rick was tiny, so he would have been satisfied with a smaller room.
As Rick shook his head, Davis also started to shake his head for some reason.
“This is the guest room. It’ll be a problem if you don’t like this room.”
“Yeah. The only other room with a bed is my bedroom.”
Surprised by Davis’ words, Rick looked up at him. Davis shrugged his shoulders and grinned.
“Should we sleep together?”
Rick took a deep breath. Trembling, he shook his head.
“Th-th-that’s okay! That’s okay! Thank you for letting me use this room. Really, thank you so much!”
“Really? That’s a shame.”
Davis said flatly, walking out of the room and going back into the hallway. Rick clutched his chest, forcing himself to smile politely.
That had surprised him. No, he’d known from the moment they’d met that he didn’t understand Davis, as much as he’d wanted to understand him. Well, generally speaking, Davis was probably a really nice man by societal standards.
No, not “really nice.” He was super nice.
“Should we sleep together?” he had asked with a seemingly composed grin. Though they had only just met, that grin had pierced Rick’s heart head-on.
Even though Davis hadn’t meant it in a romantic way, and even though they were both men, to be told such suggestive words by a smiling, good-looking man…It had made Rick’s heart throb. That was the first time he had ever felt that way.
(The aura of a handsome bear beastman is too strong!)
Though Rick was not particularly sweaty, he exhaled–”Fhew”–and wiped his forehead with the back of his hand.
“Let me show you around the next room.”
Davis suddenly popped his head back into the room. Rick’s tail puffed up in surprise. He stood ramrod-straight and nodded, “O-okay!”