As I wake up, I find several children on top of me.
DUBHE! Bearfolk children are HEAVY!
“Children!” I gasp and start pushing them all off of me. The hume children are riding the bearfolk again, laying low on the bearfolk’s backs, clinging on using tufts of fur as handholds. The added weight is not helping. The bearfolk leap off me as I start to flail. It’s a full power escape maneuver. Dear Goddess. I might die here. Heavy children jumping off you at high speeds is just more force. Please write on my gravestone: here lies the springboard.
They all scamper out the door, the bearfolk children grunting back and forth at each other. Dubhe is standing in the doorway, but avoids the onslaught by shifting to one side.
“It’s morning, and we see you’re not yet up. Your children are hungry.” That’s right, Melsy usually feeds the children breakfast and lunch while I feed them dinner. They probably are hungry.
“Uh, yeah. Could you help out for a few days? I need some time to go find Melsy and sort things out.” It’s a bit embarrassing that I didn’t think about this beforehand. Kinda makes me feel like a poor father.
“Tch. We suppose. That wasn’t the deal, though. All we were to do was feed and ween them till they could eat on their own.” I can hear how annoyed she is. It’s true, that was our deal. Dubhe can be very stubborn at times. “But, in light of things, we suppose we could help out. In return, you must fulfill one of our requests.”
Cripes. They’re your kids too! Well, most of them. Fine. Fine. I guess that is fair. I sigh. “Fine, I get it. Look after them. Please.” I sigh and drop my head, feeling defeated.
Dubhe saunters off without looking back. All of the children, including Nanook, and the dryadites are in the doorway, peeking in. “Don’t eavesdrop. No, rather, come in and give me some love. I’ll be back in a few days, okay?”
All eight of them come in and try to hug me at the same time. I feel like I have a giant, warm, wet blanket covering me. It’s impossible to move from their hugs. “Okay, now, listen to your mothers. Be good children, and help each other out.” The dryadites nod at me. They take the cue, shepherding the others out. Those hume children of mine can’t even walk yet since all they do is ride their bearfolk counterparts. Laaaaaazy. I love them though. I’ll miss them all.
Mika is in the doorway now. This is nostalgic. It’s how we first met. Although the room is significantly different. “Dubhe told me you’re going to go find Melsy?”
She nods a few times. “Otsu and I will help with the children while you’re gone. Don’t stay too long. We owe a great deal to you.”
Mika has come so far in such a short period of time. I think the children growing in front of her has opened her eyes a bit. Otsu puts in a good word for me occasionally, too. Also, I feed and watch her son often enough. Er, now that I think about it, her son chases me and Otsu around more than he visits with her. Albeit, with my children either riding or in tow.
“Thank you, Mika.”
I hear a grumble out the door as she leaves.
“No, I didn’t forget about you, you oaf. I’ll be right out. Let me get some adventuring clothes on first.” My pajamas are not exactly suitable for trekking around in the forest. Otsu can just hold his horses.
I start changing and something blocks the light coming in the door. I look over, mostly naked, and see Ceres standing there.
“Ah, uh, this happens in the morning sometimes.” I turn around and try to finish getting dressed.
“S-sorry. !” I hear her run off.
Otsu! You knew! You didn’t stop this! I can hear you snickering!
I finish getting dressed and take a few deep breaths.
Okay, Tristain, you can do this!
I leap out the door, socking Otsu on the shoulder before he can react.
He instantly slams me into the ground with his opposite paw in response.
He roars and I laugh. Ah, I bit my tongue!
“My thung. Thath hurth.” I try talking with a finger inspecting my tongue to understand the damage. It’s not bad. “I’m gonna miss you, man. I’ll be back. Look after the children and girls for a bit for me, yeah?”
He grunts. Yeah, I know you’ll miss me too, you oaf.
“Oh, uh, tell Ceres, sorry?” Otsu snorts back at me. Yeah, you laugh it up. Jerkface. I’ll get you back.
After a minute or so of awkward silence, he wanders off. Clearly there is an elephant in the room that none of us really want to talk about. You guys. Throw me a bone here. Is it wrong to love someone?
We’ll need to figure it out eventually. I think it’s more important to find Melsy first, though.
Author’s Note: Thanks for the support! BROMANCE.