Young Girl, Being Fluffed. After.
Loudly saying that, Maaya shook her head like a bee.
“Don’t say that Maaya, come over here.”
“Nooo! Atiaa, bettaa!”
Josef’s triangular ears looked miserable as if they couldn’t say anything anymore. In comparison to that, Maaya’s looked like they were prepared for war.
And stuck in between father and child, Latina was still confused, being seized firmly by Maaya.
“Latina…. You’re so popular….”
Dale was looking at that scene with a distant gaze. To a certain extent, it felt like he was running away from reality. He had learnt a lot during his stay at Tisroh. Especially that it was vital for people to know when to give up.
“Don’t… do anything too…. criminal….”
It was precisely because he wasn’t facing reality that, even the comments he was making weren’t very suitable for children. However, Dale wasn’t really thinking about anything profound at the moment. Furthermore, even Latina, who he talking about, couldn’t think at all.
“Atiaa, Maaya, together!”
Latina sways side by side, and could only hug Maaya who was demanding for her presence with a loud voice.
“Oh my, you’ve arrived.”
“Wuute-san. Sorry, we’ll be troubling you.”
Just as she was heading out, Josef’s wife, Wuute, who hadn’t been here during the worst of this mess, let out a surprised voice seeing Dale and Latina. Even though Dale greeted her, Latina who tried to be like him and bow, was completely refused by Maaya.
Right now, it seems that she’s becoming jealous just from Latina directing her attention to someone else.
“What’s wrong with Maaya?”
“Ahhh…. She wants to monopolise Latina? Something like that.”
“Her father spoils her so, she’s become a spoiled child, you see.”
Even in front of Maaya throwing a tantrum, Wuute doesn’t seem to be agitated, as usual. Whether it’s good or bad, her heart is broad like the sea.
Dale called out to Josef who was looking down, depressed. In front of the two of them, Maaya’s stomach fur was just being fluffed by Latina with a laborious look.
“Last time, did she stop crying… after we left?”
Josef’s gaze swam.
“A legend was born.”
“….It… must’ve been rough.”
He restrained himself from asking what the 『Legend』 was about. The two men were silent for a while.
“How about you leave early before Maaya wakes up?”
She probably won’t chase after us, but Josef’s voice leaked a sense of desperateness as he suggested that. It seems he held back the tears just like last time.
“Once she becomes full from eating all her favourite foods, Maaya will become a total sleepy head! That’s your chance to leave.”
Hearing his middle aged relative carefreely mixing baby talk with his own words, he wondered, in the corner of his mind, if he would be like this one day when he had his own child, without even realizing that he had been acting like that since the beginning.
In front of the two terrible doting parents, Maaya was swinging her tail back and forth as she lay on her stomach as it was being pat.
Maybe it was just like her father, Josef, had said, Maaya, having eaten a soup full of meat and a Creme brulee, topped with fruit sugar, was starting to lower her eyelids. As if she was confirming what her father had said about her favourite foods, she ate close to twice what Latina did. Maybe Latina wanted to compete with her, there was still a lot of dessert left over on Latina’s plate after asking for seconds.
Incidentally, Latina was still sitting next to Maaya. It seems Maaya had compromised on something like this, as she had requested to be on Latina’s knees in the beginning.
Since Latina’s legs were numb and at their limits, she recognised the situation, and thus this is what resulted.
The men exchanged a glance.
Josef stood up with an elegance unfitting of his stature and quickly brought Maaya into his arms. He swung side to side in a practised manner.
Maaya was squirming about, but it seems she calmed down in her father’s arms once she found her favourite position and started to let out some comfortable snoozes.
At the same time Dale was kept in line by Latina.
“Dale, it’s bad manners to play around while eating.”
He was scolded with reason. Even so, as if he was reluctant to leave her side, he moved over to the seat next to her. It seems that she didn’t like the fact that he was acting like a certain child.
“Latina, we’ll be leaving first thing in the morning ok?”
“Ahh. I’m worried about the weather, so I want to get out of the forest quickly.”
It was all lies. Latina seemed to understand and, un. Nodded.
They went to bed wrapped in a blanket in one corner of the living room just like last time. Because of that, Dale was hugging Latina like it was natural, perhaps holding a grudge against that child who had been monopolising Latina this whole time.
He was quite different to Josef as expected.
Early in the morning, the two doting parents hung their heads, completely exhausted with a sense of defeat.
For some reason an unnatural lump had formed in Latina’s blanket, who was in a deep slumber. At some point Maaya had slipped in the blanket when they were wrapped up, and was sleeping, clinging onto Latina tightly.
It was the moment they realised they failed to outwit a child.
“I’ll prepare breakfast so, go and eat.”
Wuute’s voice came from behind those two drooping backs.
— Thinking up to that point, Dale looked at his own 『Brother figure』 in front of him.
“Kenneth, I wonder if you’ll use baby talk when you have a kid….”
“What’s this all of the sudden.”
“Do you know Kenneth? Kids are…. You know…. Yea. Amazing… in many ways….”
“Seriously, what’s wrong with you?”
Maaya’s eruption was more violent than last time. In order to leave, the two men tried their hardest to pull apart the two girls, Latina, who had started to break down in tears, crying in sympathy, and the bomb-like Maaya. From the direction of the forest, faint sobs echoed and when they heard it, they didn’t know what to do.
“I just thought…. That raising a child is gonna be rough….”
“Is that… a threat?”
“I’m only now realising that Latina…. Is a TRUUUULY, a hard to come by, good kid.”
“Well, you probably shouldn’t set Latina as the standard.”
Even in Kenneth’s opinion, Latina was THE good child of all good children.
Kenneth, receiving the bundle of meat that Latina gave him, asked her while holding it in one hand.
“Latina, how…. do you use this?”
“Um, you see, there’s a lot of salt. It’s preserved after all. If you use it as is then it’s really salty so, you soak it in water, and use it once the salts are washed off.”
This question of Kenneth’s, wasn’t because he didn’t know how to prepare it. It was a type of sudden test.
“They said that you should put it together with a lot of vegetables and make a soup.”
After confirming that she knew how to prepare it properly, Kenneth smiled slightly. For now, she’s barely passed. If she could create something of her very own then, that would be a definite passing grade.
“Did you cook the roadside meals properly?”
“Un. I made them just like you taught me. I failed sometimes though….”
“You failed huh.”
“Un. Things like adjusting the strength of the fire was hard. I burnt them sometimes.”
In the middle of Kenneth and Latina having their conversation as master and student, looked at Dale once, at the same time.
“….Dale, you know, says everything delicious and eats it all.”
“Eh? I mean, Latina, you did cook it well every time?”
“….Well, it’s better than not saying anything at all I guess…”
“Eh? It’s because they really were delicious.”
Taking a sideward gaze at Dale, the master, disciple pair who wouldn’t compromise when it came to cooking, nodded.
“Do you see the problem after what happened this time?”
“Un. I’m going to have to try harder.”
With a serious face, the young girl told her master about her future aspirations.
“It was Latina who cooked dinner every time we were camping.”
“She did her best.”
“Is she…. not satisfied with just that….?”
“It seems Latina received a lot of influence from Kenneth, in a strange way.”
Close by Dale and Rita who was having their conversation, a slightly more than subtle temperature difference was coming forth.
*Author’s note: I wonder why it’s so fun writing about a rampaging child…..
Thanks for always reading.