“–Mm, wait, Shinei.”
It was before Christmas, and they were at a department store, located in a shopping street of the Federation capital. Shin was holding Frederica’s hand as he was worried of the trouble that would happen if she got lost, and stopped in his tracks when Frederica spoke and stopped at a corner of the market before the plaza.
The little girl was staring at a large teddy bear on display at the handicrafts store.
…Probably. For some reason, one eye was clearly stitched on, and a chipped ear with its opening stitched up.
Somehow, one would find it exquisitely eerie.
“It’s a little early, but why not buy a present or two for Christmas? I can give you a discount for your cute little sister.”
The bespectacled woman, probably the shopkeeper, narrowed her eyes as she said this. Frederica and Shin were in fact not blood related, but they had the same black hair and bloody red eyes, so they resembled siblings to the bystanders.
“Onii-chan, I want that~”
Frederica turned around, giving a very yearning look.
She probably picked up some weird trick again, and embarrassed as a result. The increasingly blushing face was bemusing, and Shin decided to buy that eerie looking teddy bear.
Frederica happily carried the doll with its label cut off.
“Mfu. Thou truly are unexpectedly decisive.”
“Where did you learn such things?”
She was a refined little lady who would not buy such things if nobody accompanied her.
“Fool. Do thou think I am like those foolish children who cause ruckus watching the trending animation shows?”
Certainly, she was never tired of watching them intently all day and night along, even shrieking from time to time, to the point where even Shin had enough of her.
So Frederica gleefully puffed her chest.
“It is simply research to not look suspicious dealing with peasants…”
There was silence.
“And nothing too suspicious…erm…”
No matter how uppity her tone was, a ten year old child’s ability to communicate was still in its growing phase.
She could not think of the proper choice of words, so Shin finished it for her.
“So, their behaviour.”
“Ahhh, yes…why, thou art unexpectedly mischievous. Perhaps it is a deliberate intent to not teach me new words…”
It seemed she was still miffed about a prior incident.
“You bought a dictionary, didn’t you? Any doubts, go look it up.”
“…Why art thou forcing I to hold this heavy compilation of papers…?”
Frederica was forced to carry a ridiculous heavy dictionary too large for her hands in the noisy antiquarian bookshop.
So she grumbled a little, before looking extremely hapless. Raiden had enough and bought a pocket-sized dictionary for her, thinking there would be no problems.
She strangled the doll firmly, and sighed.
“Goodness…thou really are immature in some way…”
Such words should not be coming from an actual child.
From the corner of his eyes, Shin glanced aside at a passing old man as though the man was about to reproach them with some words unbefitting their age.
“If you don’t want to look suspicious, can’t you just talk normal?”
Hmm, so Frederica frowned.
“Only when needed. Am I not a fool if I were to speak with such naive words?”
“If you don’t work on it, you won’t be able to say it when you need to.”
Once he said so, Frederica was strangely silent.
“–Are thou still thou, if thou art to give up a part of what thou art?”
“The choice of words is a part of I, not something easily given up. Most importantly, I am unwilling to abandon.”
She buried her chin into the head of the bear, quietly noting as the large red eyes evaded Shin’s.
“While I am unwilling to give up…there is a day for me to return to society. Humans can only live among humans. Anyone who does not will be shunned. What will thou choose?”
At that moment, Shin was left speechless.
He could not answer, but he realized the reason behind her words, and looked down at her, who was much shorter than him.
“So you want a teddy bear because this is the time to play along?”
This time, Frederica did not answer.
Her eyes were starting to tear, and Shin pressed on with the matter.”
“Anyway, who’s your brother?”
“…Shut up, shut up! Fussy men are most hated!”
She flailed her arms about, and Shin grabbed her little head, keeping his distance.
By doing so, given their arm lengths, Frederica’s fists could never reach Shin. With the doll, Frederica’s reach was a lot longer, and unexpectedly for her, Shin tilted his head aside to dodge what was an uppercut from the bear’s leg.
“…The arm broke.”
“Thou can just sew it back! Such destruction will leave Raiden and the others burst with laughter!”
The young girl’s unique shrill shriek exploded up close. Shin let out a little sigh as he held back Frederica’s head.
To the bystanders, these were just a pair of siblings fooling around. They continued to walk under the bright streets during this pre-Christmas period, smiling as they watched on.