Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 10: Amidst the Cold
Rick was stupefied for a moment. Then, he huffed and bounced his tail.
He was utterly confused as he just found himself simply lying on the bed. Slowly, he raised his body to a sitting position and took some time to process things. Finally, he withdrew from the bed and stood up.
“What? …Wait, what??”
Rick placed his head in his hands, still unable to grasp reality. As he wandered around the room whilst thinking, he eventually came to an epiphany. Flustered, he touched his lips.
“D-Did I… And Davis, j-just?”
They’d kissed. On the lips.
Rick caressed his lips. There was no doubt that they actually kissed. He vividly remembered the sensation of Davis’s tender lips on his, before the latter’s tongue made its way into his mouth, deepening the kiss.
Embarrassed, Rick could not help but run around the place in circles. He felt blood rushing to his cheeks making him hot all over. He quickly hid his face in his hands.
Unable to breathe, he could not stop the pounding of his heart. The embarrassment was too much to bear. As he was plunged deeper into confusion, he wished he could disappear right now.
“T-, tha-, that-…”
Rick’s lips were trembling, followed by his whole body, which was quivering as well. He bit his lips as hard as he could, yet the trembling was so much that he could barely feel the pain in his bitten lips.
…That was my first kiss!!!
Rick was never kissed by someone other than his family before this. Davis was the only one to do such a deed, for the first time in Rick’s life.
Speaking of family, life was hard on Rick after he lost his parents. When he became an orphan, he was left with nothing but himself. Inevitably, he had to work extra hard to earn his livelihood.
He busied himself with studying and working part-time jobs during his student days so he did not have time to involve himself in romantic relationships. The same reason tagged along with him as he became a working adult. Sure, he had more opportunities now than back then as he got to meet more people and settle on dates with them – namely of the opposite sex – but he was still unable to score a partner in the end. Perhaps, he had a personality that held him back from having a relationship. Suffice to say, he never had any experience prior to this, which explained why he was driven hysterical by a kiss.
He felt that this was way too sudden. Thinking that they should not have rushed things, they’d surely needed some time before they could kiss each other. After all, kissing was a sacred act between two souls in love.
Before Rick realized it, he was already thinking this far.
“No, no, noooo!”
Rick groaned to himself and continued to wander around aimlessly. Then he realized: Davis would be back soon. It would be even more embarrassing if the latter found him jittering like this due to what had happened between them.
When the time came, Rick wondered if he would be able to face Davis calmly after this. Looking straight at the one who kissed him, face to face.
There’s no way I could, Rick thought, as the color drained from his face. Then, by reflex, he dashed out of the room. He rushed down the quiet hallway and made his way back into the room had been assigned.
It’d been a while since he set foot in this room. It was dark due to the dimmed lights. There was a heater to warm the whole place, but it was still colder than Davis’ place.
Rick was about to jump onto his own bed, but he stopped himself as he recalled something.
What would happen if Davis found that I was gone…?
There was no doubt that Davis would come to this place to look for Rick, then. And what would he do once he found him?
Davis would look at him, his handsome face shown before his eyes as he usually did, with his sharp, beautiful eyes. Then, with his perfectly shaped lips, Davis would softly whisper, “Rick…”
No, nooo! I can’t! I don’t think I can face him…!
After all, they just kissed. Freshly.
Not to mention the fact that they also had been sleeping together on the same bed. Since Rick did not think he would be interested in someone of the same sex, he thought it was strange. Or maybe it was just his hibernation instincts – since it was cold, he would naturally seek out to sleep in warmer places, which happened to be Davis’ place.
Though, there was no way that kiss could be related to hibernation. It would not be enough to warm the body, which was why hibernation was required in the first place. It could be argued that it was possible to warm each other by kissing coupled with hugging, but still, kissing was unnecessary, since hugging was already more than enough.
As Rick was deep in his thoughts, he repeatedly blinked in befuddlement.
Is there a possible reason for the kiss, other than…? Or, am I just in denial…?
Rick thought that he was being weird over the kiss. His cheeks instantly burned. He was thinking hard over the reason why Davis would have kissed him, of all people. He also considered the possibility of Davis just messing with him.
Seriously? He would mess with me by kissing me…?
Rick sat down on the bed and curled into a ball, burying his face into his knees.
His mind was in sheer turmoil. Despite the numbing cold, he could not stop himself from thinking.
There’s no way I could just get this out of my head.
Slowly, Rick staggered to his feet.
He took off the pajamas he was wearing, reaching for the clothes neatly folded on the desk. They were his own clothes, which Davis had washed for him. The clothes were previously covered in soot and dust from the fire, yet now they were free from any spots and stains. The pleasant smell of fabric softener from the clothes gently wafted to his nostrils.
As Rick put on the clothes, he noticed another scent that he was familiar with, belonging to a certain someone he knew. Upon realizing that, tears uncontrollably welled up in his eyes.
“Now, I feel like, I want to get some water… and nuts… Eh? But I still have plenty of them, right…? Ah, but… I have to… That’s right, I want to go to the convenience store…”
Rick already had everything he needed in his house. He actually did not have to go out and buy something for himself at the moment, but…he desperately wished to go outside. Ergo, he had to find a reason.
No matter how large this house was, Davis would still be able to find Rick once he was here. Rick would not want to hide in someone else’s place either. He did not want to face Davis, but he had nowhere to go right now.
Rick just wanted a little time to think. At least until the heat in his cheeks subsides.
If I didn’t run, then…
It wasn’t like Davis was a bad person. In fact, he was really kind to Rick.
Although Rick was Davis’s neighbour, they were still complete strangers to each other. And yet, Davis took care of him even though the squirrel had nothing to offer in return, since he had lost everything in the fire. Davis even cared for Rick as best as he could.
Davis was a handsome bear with a large build. In private, he did not talk much but sometimes he would say some inappropriate stuff, due to him being an airhead. Nevertheless, he was not a bad person. Thanks to his good upbringing, he obtained the job he had dreamed of since he was little.
Still, why did he kiss me?
As Rick was thinking of what he already knew about Davis’ personality, he still could not find a legitimate reason for why the bear would kiss him. He could not find anything related to Davis that would link to the intent behind the kiss.
In the end, Rick figured that he did not wish to know the reason, as he did not even want to think about it. He did not want to overthink things, given that it was still in the middle of the hibernating season.
After he gave up thinking, Rick exited his house and walked down the hallway. He stopped by Davis’ house to leave a note and notify the bear that he would be going outside for a while. It would be rude to suddenly leave Davis’ place without telling him. At once, Rick contemplated writing that he wanted to calm himself down, but he decided not to. That would be very telling that he was deeply affected by the kiss, which was going to be embarrassing.
After walking for a while, Rick arrived at the main door of the apartment. He had been staying at this place for a month, but it was only now that he was able to witness how the condition was like here in the winter. As he opened the main door, a flurry of snow gushed into the apartment, gently falling towards him. Rick flinched in the cold creeping up his skin, immediately pulled up his jacket to brave through the cold, and closed the door behind him.
Now, it was probably a little past dusk. The sky was starting to darken and it would be night soon.
Rick let out a sigh, which manifested itself in the form of a white puff of smoke escaping from his mouth. The snow was still falling as he walked, piling into a thin layer on the ground, resembling a soft, white blanket over the hard, rough surface of the earth. The fragile/frail snow crunched underneath his soles with each step he took, producing a sound that constantly filled the void left by silence.
Rick did not want to let the cold hinder him, he wanted to keep on walking. It was not like they were not allowed to go outside during hibernation; in fact, they were free to do so. Nonetheless, he had to be careful as the cold would limit his physical capabilities. So despite the freedom to go outdoors, they could only do such things within a limited amount of time.
I won’t be out for that long. I definitely will go back home by the time the sun has completely set.
It would take half an hour before the night finally falls. It should be a sufficient amount of time for Rick to clear his head before facing Davis properly, which he decided to do right after he returned to the apartment.
After a few steps, Rick had reached a huge gate which enclosed an apartment. For a while, he stood still and stared towards the other side of the gate. It was at that time that he realized he did not really have a specific destination in his head, he had been wandering desultorily this whole time.
…What the hell have I been thinking!? I’m so stupid! How silly of me!
Rick went through all the trouble of walking while shivering in the cold, but it turned out that he did not really see where he was heading. Now he had no idea where he was. In other words, yes – he was currently lost.
As Rick had come to that realization, his surroundings grew darker and the sun had already disappeared from sight, signifying the change from day to night. Dejected, he looked up towards the sunless sky where the thick, white clouds were still unhidden within the darkness.
I thought I was going to the convenience store… Where the hell I am now!?
The convenience store should be not that far from Davis’ house. By the time Rick ascertained that he was lost, it was already too late. He could not even see Davis’ home anywhere within his line of sight.
“I’m such a fool. Stupid. Dumbass.”
Rick understood that he made the mistake of walking down a dimly lit road that he was not familiar with, without a map with him. Not to mention that at this time of the year, when the harsh climatic condition was a real concern – it was too easy for things to go wrong. Even more so when Rick himself was not in his right mind, and ended up carelessly walking out in this frigid weather.
Muttering a curse under his breath, Rick resumed walking, as staying still would not be a good idea since he would soon freeze under the cold in no time. He was very cautious with his steps to avoid himself from slipping on the snowy ground.
Rick sporadically looked up at the sky to check how much time had passed, judging from the darkening sky. His teeth also started chattering from the cold.
Occasionally, Rick stumbled a few times, nearly slipping, but he somehow managed to stop himself each time by standing firmly on the slippery ground. Both his body and mind were growing numb from the cold. After all, the winter was not meant for any outdoor activities. He was supposed to stay at home for hibernation like everyone else.
Rick could no longer feel the sensation of touch in his fingertips anymore. He glanced at his palms, to see that they were beginning to lose color. He attempted to warm his hands by blowing into them, only to find that they were shaking. No, not only his hands – his entire body, as well.
It was at this time that a cold wind suddenly blew in Rick’s direction, directly to his hair and cheeks. He staggered a little as the fierce blow of wind pushed him backwards, until his knees started to tumble and he eventually fell on the ground.
Rick’s shoulders were quivering. He slowly raised his body up and leaned himself against the roadside. His back hit the fence encircling a few houses behind him.
“Brrr…” Rick shivered, “So… Cold…”
He buried his face in his knees. Every time he exhaled, a faint warmth engulfed him from his breaths momentarily before he was trapped by the cold again. His breaths condensed onto his skin, which resulted in absorbing more of his body heat in the process.
Rick’s lower half was getting wet and cold from the snow, but he could not get himself up to brush it off. He helplessly brought his tail to his face and laid his cheek against it for warmth.
Snow from his hair began to melt. It dripped onto his already soaked face, dribbling down his eyes, not unlike tears. It was almost like prima facie, if he chose to cry at this time, even his tears would be cold as well, and this freezing temperature would never leave him alone, as if punishing him for challenging nature.
Since there were houses nearby, Rick desired to call for help. But alas, he did not have the strength to let out his voice, let alone move his body. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
Rick did not know how much time had lapsed. But he was sure that Davis had seen his note by now. He could not help but wonder about the bear’s possible reactions. Whether Davis would be surprised, worried, or angry at him. When Davis had prepared a warm and comfortable place for Rick, the squirrel did the unthinkable by going outside in the middle of the nighttime cold weather.
I’m such an idiot… A big idiot…
Rick had only wanted to go out for a while. He just wanted to cool his head, since he was too embarrassed and confused by the kiss.
Little did he know, the winter was not as merciful as he expected.
I’m sorry, Davis… I’m really sorry…
Rick’s eyelids started getting heavy. Even though he was freezing, and the cold was still as harsh as ever, he really wanted to sleep, as if it was no different from Davis’ warm bed.
Even he himself did not know why. He could no longer think, while the chill had finally reached his head. Rick wondered if he was already covered in snow by now. He couldn’t tell, his senses were numbed and his trembling body was growing stiffer under the cold.
All of a sudden, Davis’ voice echoed in Rick’s ears. Maybe it was from his memory long before he’d left his house, but he could clearly hear it now, as if Davis was currently right in front of him.
Past his slightly opened eyes, Rick could see nothing but the white snow. He wondered what would happen to him if more and more snow began to surround him.
He would be buried in the snow, remain hidden, and nobody would find him until the end of winter.
Spring… will be here, someday…
Succumbing himself to the cold, Rick slowly closed his eyes.