Editor: Ferret Thao
Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
A small, squirrel beastchild ran around the forest and collected nuts. His breath came out in heavy white puffs of exertion. Occasionally, he tripped on stones and stumbled forward. This caused him to laugh and laugh, seemingly happy. A small, wooden house came into the boy’s view. His arms were full, so he used his shoulder to push open the door.
“I’m hooome! Mom, I brought back some nuuuts!”
The boy panted as he burst into the house. Upon seeing him, a motherly squirrel beastwoman smiled at him and said, “Welcome back.” She stooped over a bit and gently brushed away the snow that had accumulated on the boy’s wool hat. She then took off his hat and scarf and placed them on a desk, before accepting the nuts from him with a sweet smile.
“Thank you. With this, I can make us some nut stew.”
After placing a kiss on the boy’s forehead, his mother laughed.
The boy proudly stuck out his chest and glanced around the room.
“Huh? Where’s dad?”
“He finished cleaning out the fireplace, so he went out back to get some firewood.”
At this response to his question, the boy’s face brightened. He clasped his still-gloved hands and looked up at his mother excitedly.
“Hey, can I light the fire first? Can I? Can I, please?”
“Haha, you’ll need to go ask your father that question.”
His mother winked at him, seeming to say that it would be fine if his father agreed. The boy’s tail puffed up, and his eyes twinkled.
He nodded a few times and then started to run, his feet pattering against the floor. The boy dashed out of the room, then ran back into the room and shouted, “I’m gonna go outside for a little!” He was already so impatient; as he spoke, he gazed outside through the window.
“Stay warm, okay? Here, take your scarf and your hat, too.”
The boy gave an enthusiastic reply as he wrapped his scarf around his neck and pulled his hat on tight. His mother watched him, then carried the nuts into the kitchen and laughed.
“You really like the fireplace, don’t you, Rick?”
“Yep! It’s ‘cuz it’s really warm!”
Burying his face in his scarf, the boy–Rick–laughed.
“And because I can bring a blanket and snuggle with dad and mom in front of it.”
Rick closed his eyes and imagined such a scene.
“And then, before I go to bed, I can read a storybook and drink warm milk in front of the fireplace…”
Then, as Rick started to doze off, his father would carry him to his bed. His mother would say, “Oh, this child is out like a light,” as she planted a kiss on his cheek.
And Rick, half-asleep, would giggle at the ticklish sensation. The night would be warm and filled with happiness.
At that time, he could not tell whether his eyes were open or closed. He expected to see his mother, but she was nowhere to be found. Her sweet smell became distant.
In the darkness, Rick hugged his tail and curled into a ball.
To Rick, warmth was a symbol of happiness.
Rick knew that if happiness were tangible, it would be warm to the touch.
His mind still bleary, Rick woke up with a start.
Rick pressed the cushion underneath him with his palm.
He felt like he had had a very good dream. A warm, nostalgic dream. When he woke up, the memories of it slipped away like grains of sand from one’s hand, but the impression that “It was a good dream” remained.
The reason he could have such a dream must surely be because…
It must be because this bed is so warm.
After letting out a contented sigh, he kneaded the cushion he was laying on one more time.
Somehow, it felt weird. The cushion had become extremely fleshy and firm.
Rick cracked open his eyes.
A deep blue object came into view. He was sure that his cushions had been white. This was his first time seeing a blue cushion.
He slowly turned his gaze upward. That dark blue object was a shirt, and there was a line of buttons right down the middle.
It was obviously a shirt. However, that didn’t necessarily mean that someone was wearing…
Looking up, Rick was met with a stern but handsome face. The sullen lips were pursed tightly, and the eyes were closed. The jaw was flecked with a little stubble. The owner of the face had probably been sleeping for a while, so they didn’t have time to shave. Even with the stubble, they were still attractive. No matter how you looked at it, it was a nice face. The problem was the person it belonged to.
Those sharp facial features could only belong to an extremely good-looking man.
Rick rolled off the cushion, no, Davis, with great force. Well, the big bed did catch him with a *pomf* as he fell.
Rick’s tail fur stood on its ends and puffed up as he flailed about in panic. His voice too broke into a pitiful squeak. There was no other way he could react.
But why, how, and what on earth led to him sleeping on top of the owner of the house?
“Wha-wh-what? E-eh? Here…huh?”
Looking around the room restlessly, he finally realized that this was not the room he had been given. The room was similar in construction, but the furniture and its arrangement were completely different. To begin with, there was a bear beastman sleeping in the middle of the bed. It couldn’t be Rick’s room.
“I-I-I’m-I’m? How did I get he…I’m so s-sor-sor…”
Rick brought his hands in front of his mouth and shook his head in panic. It seemed as if he could break into tears at any time.
From the look of things, Rick must have become too drowsy while walking and accidentally snuck into Davis’ room.
He could have mistaken any other room; why, oh why was it Davis’ room of all places!? Not only that, but he had fallen asleep, climbed onto Davis, and even kneaded him like a cushion…
More importantly… Huh? I…
Come to think of it, Rick had recollections of not only holding the cushions, but also squeezing his squirrel doll and sucking on its ear while he was sleeping. He couldn’t help it; he had been extremely hungry at that time, and he was craving a snack. But there were no squirrel dolls here.
In other words, Rick must have been sucking on something other than the squirrel doll’s ears.
No longer able to speak, Rick cradled his head and blenched.
What the hell are you doing…what the hell are you doing!
Embarrassed, sorry, and ashamed, Rick slammed his head down on the bed.
At that moment, Rick’s arm was firmly grasped.
The scene in front of him appeared and disappeared like an afterimage, and his vision was dyed a dark blue.
The next thing he knew, he was right where he had just tumbled over from. Rick was on top of Davis’ body, while Davis laid under him with his back against the bed.
“It’s not spring yet…Let’s go back to sleep…”
Rick wanted to ask him to repeat what he had said, but before he could, he heard a series of quiet snores. It seemed that Davis was asleep.
“Uh, Mr, Davis, um…”
With a thick arm around his back, Rick clung to Davis’ large body.
The movement of his chest, which periodically went up and down, was somewhat comforting.
He was about to say something, but an arm–or rather a hand–wrapped around his back and began patting him, gently and rhythmically.
Rick’s thoughts, which were still in hibernation, were distorted by that large hand’s unexpectedly gentle motions.
No, what are you thinking about at this serious moment, he thought, however…
A gentle smile crept up Rick’s lips, but Rick shook his head in a fluster.
He had almost been easily lulled off to sleep.
“W-wait…Mr. Davis, wait…”
As Davis rhythmically patted Rick’s back while trying to soothe him–and occasionally rubbed his head–strength gradually left Rick’s limbs, even as he tried to resist.
Finally, Rick let out a yawn, making him flustered. He was on edge, but his body just wouldn’t listen to him.
To begin with, this room was too comfortable. Just the right amount of warmth, soft indirect light, cushions and…Wait, no! It was Davis and the thumping/patting. It would be cruel to ask a hibernating beastman not to sleep here, even if it wasn’t the kind of place where one should sleep.
“…huh? Are you hungry…?”
Muttering, Davis stretched out one hand beside his pillow. He fumbled for a nut with his fingertips, then cracked its shell with his thumb and forefinger with a snap.
“Mm, thank you. Nomunomunomu…wait! That’s not it…”
Rick was offered only the content of the nut, which was held in between Davis’ fingertips, and ate it without thinking. After he had finished the snack, Rick’s shoulders slumped. He went straight back to clinging to Davis’ body, making him feel even more drowsy.
“Sho… uhm… .ah…”
“Now, go to sleep like a good boy.”
Davis’ tone was as if he were talking to a child who didn’t know how to listen. Rick was tempted to say something back, but he ended up not doing so.
Davis patted his back. *Thump, thump* As he lay face-down, the warmth travelled up his chest and stomach, spreading to every corner of his body.
Rick felt good all over. He blinked, and his eyelids steadily drooped.
Having lost all resistance, his eyelids slowly closed, enveloping him in darkness.
After that, there was only serene darkness.
Hasr: Sorry for the delayed chapter, the team really needed a break last week