Side story: ????
“What do you want for dinner tonight, Lefi?” I asked the silver-haired girl walking next to me.
We were currently at the supermarket on a day without school, shopping basket in hand.
“I will have some behemoth fillet.”
“Don’t name stuff that sounds so fancy, I ain’t cooking shit like that,” I rebuked while taking the candies Lefi had placed in the basket back to their place on the shelves.
Also aren’t behemoths nasty monsters from your world? Are those even edible?
“How can you not? As a man you should hold the ability to do at least that.”
“I’d rather go feed stray cats than fulfil that expectation.” I said, before moving to restrain a Lefi who had started trying to stab me with her finger. “Oh no! What shall we do if we suddenly run out of dessert tonight?”
Just as Lefi stepped down from my threats, we heard a voice calling our names.
“Lefi, Yuki, good evening. Are you guys shopping for dinner?”
The girl who had called out to us was my classmate Nell, with a shopping basket in hand. Nell and Lefi had recently gotten quite close, to the point where they called each other directly by their given names. I guess Nell coming over to play lately must have played a part, huh?
“Yeah, you shopping for dinner too?” I said while searching for a certain smart doggo hanging around nearby, “is Rir outside?”
Nell would usually always have her fenrir familiar Rir, AKA Fluffrir, with her, but, unlike humanoids like Lefi, you can’t really bring oversized wolves inside stores.
“Yes, he’s waiting by the entrance.”
Glancing over, I could indeed see him sitting near the entrance, looking quite troubled from all the children flocking around him. He really feels like an overworked guy… err… wolf. And with the way his facial expressions were so humanlike, I couldn’t help but feel pity for him.
“Nell, mind if I get a snack to give to Rir later?”
“Huh? I don’t mind but you don’t really don’t have to go through the trouble…”
“It’s not any trouble at all, I just want to be nice to him.”
My answer prompted Nell to tilt her head in confusion and Lefi to open her mouth with an annoyed look on her face.
“Pardon me Yuki, I understand that you would want to grant treats upon that wolf, but shan’t you be concerned about someone else first?”
“Yeah, Yeah. We’ll get you something too, but just chocolate.”
“In that case I shall demonstrate the extent of my generosity and offer you forgiveness.”
“You two really are close huh…” Said Nell after looking over our exchange with a wry smile.
“Will you not be by your lonesome after returning to your abode? Would you like to have supper with us?”
“Is that fine?”
My classmate beamed up at the sudden at the invitation
“I assume it to be. What say you, Yuki?”
“Well, sure we can eat together at home. Also Lefi, stop trying to grab sweets at the last moment. Only chocolate for you.”
“Curse your overattentiveness,” said Lefi while putting the candy in her hand back to the shelf.
And thus we proceeded to checkout with Nell giggling next to us.
We chose to have sukiyaki for the menu since we could easily eat that together as a group. We were currently back at my apartment. Nell was washing dishes and cutlery while I was boiling ingredients.
“Can Rir eat anything?” I asked.
“Yeah. I know he looks like a dog, but he can eat pretty much anything since he comes from another world. I mean, he isn’t a dog.”
Right, he’s a wolf. I almost treat him like a dog sometimes.
Rir was presently dealing with Lefi who was playing with him, telling him to sit and give his paw. My familiar was supposed to be older, but it looked to me like he was the one dealing with her immaturity.
“Okay, I’m done.”
“Wow, that smells delicious, you’re really good at cooking, Yuki.”
“Well, I cook every day, so I have a lot of practice under my belt.”
I had also occasionally been giving food to the little girl next door, putting in extra effort to make sure she had great meals.
Huh Lefi? Maybe you should let him have that treat by now?
“Damn it Lefi, at least help us cook.”
“Hmm, I suppose I shall comply,” said Lefi before stopping her petting session with Rir and coming to set up plates on the table.
This was surprising, as she used to be much less helpful.
This is growth, right? This must be how parenthood feels.
“What is it that you are gazing upon me as a mother would a child?”
“It’s nothing, let’s dig in.”
“I feel like I should be distressed at your behaviour…”
“Heh, just eat before it gets cold.”
And so the three of us and an animal sat together at the table.
I opened my eyes to find myself atop the throne with a certain silver-haired beauty in my lap. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that had fallen asleep. She had also fallen victim to the sandman’s whisper, right in my lap. Oh yeah, we were kinda just hanging out earlier, weren’t we? I guess we must’ve passed out because of how comfy we got.
Me waking up and fidgeting about caused her to stir as well. She slowly blinked awake with her head still pressed into my chest.
“Yuki…” she said my name with a bit of an odd accent, as she did on the other side. “No, that is incorrect. You are not Yuki, but Yuki.” But she soon corrected herself. “A jarring experience that was indeed. I had a dream, Yuki, a dream in which we consumed hotpot in a bizarre world I know not. And we were not alone. We shared in Nell’s company, and Rir’s as well.”
“Huh, that’s weird,” I said with a bit of a chuckle. “I had the exact same dream. We met Nell at the grocery store, hung out a bit, and then had dinner together.”
“The grocery store…?” She mulled over the words for a moment. “It is strange, but I am aware that you speak of the store whose shelves were lined with food.” She turned her head to face me. “Is this the phenomenon you described as the experience of an alternate reality? Of another world not so different from our own?”
“Yeah. Given that I come from yet another world, I’d say it’s safe to say that there’s probably a whole multiverse out there. And I’m sure a few of them at least somewhat resemble this one,” I explained. “For all we know, the Yuki and Lefi in that world might dream about all the shit we do too.”
“An odd but interesting thought indeed.” The dragon laughed. “We remained together. Even on the other side.”
“Sure seemed like it, yeah,” I agreed.
“I have no doubt that my other self must also suffer a life of hardship.”
“You took the words right out of my mouth.”
The two of us each gave the other a bit of a miffed look before breaking into a hearty fit of laughter.