Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Cute and awesome.
Rick’s mind drifted back to the small tree house he had lived in as a child.
He lived with his family in the countryside, deep in the mountains. It was a place where summers were cool but had lots of mosquitoes, and winters were snowy—so much that the nearby lake froze every year.
It was more than ten years ago, so his memories of the place had faded considerably, but he still remembered a few things; small things from his childhood.
I remember the deep, dark, and scary well at the back of the house, wanting to touch the fishing rod that my father kept in a box away from me, the beautiful embroidered pictures made by my mother on the wall, the smell of the fireplace when it was lit, and the warm and kind words, ‘Welcome home.’
These days, Rick doesn’t have many opportunities to be greeted by people. The only thing that greeted him in the room where he lived alone was a quiet empty bed.
For some reason, ‘Welcome back’, which Davis must have said without thinking much about it, shook Rick to his core. Maybe it was the warmth of the room, maybe it was the fact that he was in the middle of hibernation. Whatever it was, it triggered a rush of nostalgic memories.
He was going to say that he was going back to his room, but the words he had prepared earlier disappeared before he could get them out of his mouth.
Or rather, even the feeling of, ‘I’ll tell him,’ withered as soon as he heard the low rumble of the bear beastman’s voice.
“Mr. Davis, I…uh-ah….”
Still, Rick muttered a few words, trying to somehow squeeze them out yet feeling like he had to do so through a straw.
Davis tilted his head more towards Rick.
Rick hesitated even more whenever he was told he was acting strangely.
“Oh, no, you know…..I just remembered something from….a long time ago”
“A long time ago?”
Davis closed the book he was reading and threw it onto the bedside table. He then remained silent for a moment, as if thinking about something, before beckoning Rick over.
Rick hesitated for a moment, but then decided to obey Davis.
Just as he was asked to do, he climbed onto the bed and sat beside Davis. He then leaned back against the soft cushions and pillows that Davis placed for him, burying his body in their plush warmth.
“We’re both awake, so let’s have a little talk,” Davis said, kind face peering down at the smaller man.
Certainly, it was rare for hibernating people to be awake together. Rick wasn’t sure if it’s because he had never been with a hibernating person before.
Whether he ate or took a bath, he’d usually be asleep or dizzy.
It was rare for him to be able to stay awake and have a conversation like this.
I don’t know when or if I’ll fall asleep again, though.
“I don’t know anything about you, Rick,” Davis spoke, gently running a hand through his bed partner’s hair. I want to know a little more about you.”
“That’s too direct. Isn’t it!?”
The request was so bold and straightforward that Rick almost collapsed.
Davis had been very straightforward and honest since the moment he met him.
“Me, about me….”
“Earlier, you said you remembered the old days. What kind of child were you, Rick?”
As Davis finished asking his question, Rick crossed his arms, blinked twice, and then looked up at the ceiling, wondering what to say.
“I was just a typical rural kid…” Rick began. “I used to climb trees and collect bugs in the summer and swim in the lake….and skate in the winter.”
“Countryside? Rick, you aren’t from here?”
Rick nodded at Davis without looking at him.
“I lost my parents when I was little and I didn’t understand what happened. But when I finally realised it, I found myself in an orphanage in….the city.”
Davis took a breath sharply.
Rick, still not looking at him, jerked upright at the sudden noise.
Rick sat down hugging his legs in front of him and rested his chin on his knees.
“Well, you know….it was a long time ago, so I’m not going anywhere now. Besides, there are a lot of people out there who don’t have families.”
Rick said quickly, then fell silent.
Whenever Rick talked about this, people usually looked at him with pitying eyes. He was tired of hearing, “I’m sorry; It must’ve been hard; I’m sorry you had to go through this; poor you…”
Rick had enough. He didn’t need people to feel sorry for him or anything. He had a job, he was making money, and he was living on his own. There was no reason for anyone to feel pity for him.
Well, in this case, due to the accidental fire, I was in a situation where I couldn’t do anything on my own…
The low, short words tickled Rick’s earlobe as he dropped his gaze, ready for the pity party to begin.
“I wish I could have seen Rick as a child. I bet he was cute.”
Rick was about to say, ‘Is that what you’re worried about?’ He then looked at Davis, who was sitting beside him.
He was staring at Rick with a surprisingly straightforward stare.
“Of course, he’s still cute.”1
Rick’s eyes popped open in surprise before he realized what must have been going on.
“…Are you sleep talking?”
Rick waved his hands in front of Davis’s eyes as the large man stared at him with a subtle, heated gaze. it was apparent that Davis was wide awake—or as awake as a beastman could get during hibernation. He shook his head and crossed his arms with a serious look on his face.
“You’re cute and awesome, Rick.”
What the hell was that? Rick wiggled his tail, unsure of what he meant. Seeing this, Davis raised his lips slightly, and laughed.
“Awesome,” he repeated, as if it were an irrefutable fact.
Without saying what he meant by awesome, Davis grabbed Rick by the waist and pulled him towards himself.
“Oh my God, you’re so cute and amazing.”
“Whoa, whoa…! Mr. Davis? I’m sure you’re sleepwalking,” Rick insisted as he felt strong arms wrap around his torso.
Rick shook and raged as Davis caressed his head. He then snuggled up to Rick from behind, regardless of the squirrel beastman’s protests.
“I was a bratty kid.”
Rick, groaning in a tight embrace, opened his eyes to the unexpected words. Then he tried to look back at Davis, but his arms were tightly entangled, and he couldn’t turn around.
“I was a big beastman,” he explained. “I could do almost anything, and I’ve never had any trouble with my studies or sports.”
“I was born and raised in a rich, well-to-do family, and I never had any problems.
“I lived my life thinking it was boring.”
“….How old were you?”
He didn’t say, “You were a bad kid.” Because Rick couldn’t say that he wouldn’t have felt the same way if he’d been born under the same conditions. Yet, although he didn’t say it, somehow what he was thinking was conveyed to Davis. He could tell by the soft breeze around his neck when Davis laughed.
“It was during this time that I stumbled upon a firefighter.”
“You met them?” Rick asked.
“Oh. There was a fire in my neighborhood, and I saw these guys risking their lives to save people and fight the fire, and I thought….this is it.”
The arm around Rick’s stomach tightened. It was as if he was remembering the passion he felt at that moment.
“…well, my parents, and all my relatives objected to it.”
“Oh my God…”
It was true that if you came from a good family, that might be the way it was. I wonder if he was asked to pursue a career where he could earn more money, status, and honor than to help others in a difficult spot. Unfortunately, Rick’s world was so different that he could only imagine it.
“I left home and became a firefighter,” Davis continued on, unaware of the turmoil going on inside Rick’s head. “My grandmother, who was the only one who supported my dream….gave me this house.”
“Oh, I see.”
Rick nodded his head in agreement.
Rick had wondered before why Davis, who seemed to be single, was living in a house big enough for a family. But it made sense if he said it was given to him by someone else. He himself was single, so he didn’t think it was strange to live alone.
“….The world has a soft spot for large beastmen.”
Rick’s heart thumped in his chest.
It was not that Rick hadn’t thought about it before. The range of jobs available to medium-sized and even larger beastmen increased according to their race. Rick would never be able to be a fireman. Even in the same profession, there were many cases where you could get extra benefits just for being a large beastman. It was only natural, because they were born with different things. Rick thought it was only natural that a large beastman with high strength and intelligence would be valued more than a small, useless beastman like himself.
“On the contrary, maybe….the world is not so kind to small beastmen.”
Again, Rick’s heart rumbled. Davis’s words stung whether he meant them to or not.
Yes. That might be true. But even if it was true, it was no one’s fault. It wasn’t even Rick’s fault, much less Davis’s. It couldn’t be helped, it was the way of the world.
“…..I’ve been encouraged and helped by others to finally fulfil my dreams and be able to live like this on my own.”
Rick blinked slowly and listened to Davis’s steady voice.
“Rick, you’ve been living on your own, finding your place in the world, living properly by yourself…”
Davis’s words might sound arrogant to some, but Rick knew that he meant what he said. He knew that Davis was only being honest and straightforward with him, showing his full authentic self.
“You’re amazing, Rick.”
His voice was so sweet it was almost addicting. So gentle and so straightforward that it made Rick want to cry.
Rick didn’t think he was particularly great or important. He had always lived his life as if this was the norm. Even if someone said to him, “You must be having a hard time,” he said something self-deprecating like, “Well, I’m an orphan, so it makes sense,” and smiled to cover it up.
In this way, he had put up a precautionary line. He didn’t want to be hurt by the words of pity that would follow.
The more others looked at him with pity and sympathy, the more they spoke to him, the more Rick was reminded that he was an orphan—that he was alone. And every time he was confronted with this his heart ached inexplicably.
Even now, my chest hurts, he thought. It hurts so much but it’s not a sharp pain. It’s very soft, comforting pain. It’s the same as Davis’s arms hugging me.
“No, it’s not….”, Rick refuted.
His words contained no pity. They were just straightforward and simple.
“No such…thing.”, he added.
Rick looked down at Davis’s arm and shook his head. He couldn’t face Davis like before.
Rick knew that if he did, he would probably burst into tears.
“There’s so many of them.”
Rick choked on his words a little, because he had to sniffle. He hoped that Davis would not notice that he was crying a little.
He bit his lower lip in a desperate attempt to cover it up and pinched the flesh of his own thigh with his fingertips.
“You’re the first squirrel-beastman I’ve ever met, Rick.”
Perhaps it was because he was being held so tightly, but Davis’s voice echoed directly from his back. The smooth timbre of his words slowly seeped in and melted Rick’s heart.
“Such an awesome and cute squirrel beastman,” he continued. “I only know…you, Rick, so…”
I can’t do this anymore, I’m going to cry, I can’t hold it in anymore…..
Rick choked, his throat making a pathetic sound. He then hurriedly clamped his mouth shut.
I’m not sure if he heard me.
Davis’ body slipped sideways, and Rick’s body, which was still trapped in his warm embrace, fell along with him. Rick wriggled and turned around.
Looking back, he saw Davis’s face sleeping comfortably.
Without thinking, he opened its mouth a little more comfortably, raised its corners, and breathed a sigh of satisfaction.
Rick instinctively touched Davis’s cheek. Surprised at how much softer it was than he expected, he withdrew his fingers but pinched his cheek again.
“Thank you…” Rick uttered.
Rick wasn’t sure what he was thanking him for but he figured it didn’t matter.
Whatever, I just wanted to thank him, so I said it. That’s all right.
It was surprisingly not a bad feeling to say the things he wanted to say honestly like Davis.
Thank you, Mr. Davis.
Wrapped in his host’s big arms and listening to his gentle breathing, Rick was also slowly lulled to sleep.
T/N: Sniff sniff…my poor babies ( ; ~ ; )