Happy Birthday, old man!
Sorta missed it by a whole season, Sis…
And 23 isn’t old you twat
But curry I’ll happily accept! Thanks!
"Yeah, there isn’t much else. The Goddess Pond, Mother’s Lake, and… the Cliff," Popuri said, gazing off in the distance. Her mind seemed very occupied at the mention of the cliff.
"Admirer can’t be there. He just can’t. Oh, glob," Popuri thought. She seemed really scared at that thought. She could just picture her poor chicken falling off the cliff. No.
"I… let’s go to the pond," she said to Cliff, quietly. It seemed as though she dropped the subject of Cliff’s love life. Her mind was too occupied by her chicken’s safety.
"Okay," He replied, following her to the pond. It was quiet there, as usual, and he looked around, trying to spot anything out of the ordinary. Just the same old hot spring, the waterfall, the mine. Everything was as it should be. To his eye, anyway.
"Say… d-do you see him?" Cliff asked finally, looking at Popuri anxiously. "It’s.. ah… going to be okay."
For Goddess’ sake, please don’t let her cry.
“Heh, thanks! But look at you, gettin’ all blushy and stuff! I bet their is someone! But don’t worry. I won’t be too pushy. Maybe,” Popuri said mischievously, winking at Cliff. She was definitely a nosy person.
Suddenly, Popuri looked around, bewildered. “Sorry, but I zoned out for a minute. Where should we go next to find Admirer? It seems like we are wandering,” she said. She wasn’t just nosy, but flighty.
"Definitely not." Cliff shook his head firmly. He wasn’t ready for another relationship for a long while yet.
"Goddess Pond?" He repeated. "I think it’s the only logical place he could go, at this point…"
"Cain was your… secret admirer?" Popuri asked, looking very bewildered.. "Oh! Oh, you mean you spoil him! Ahaha, whoops! Wow… I scare myself sometimes…"
"Er… Well, I see him often. Kind of. It’s… very complicated between us. I wish it wasn’t… I miss him," Popuri said, looking very sad. "So, do you have a significant other?"
"Yeah." Cliff blushed. Secret admirer indeed. He’d never had one of those before…
"I’m sorry," Cliff said finally, unsure of what else to say. Popuri’s next words fairly blew hi away.
"W-w-hat?!" Cliff stammered, turning a bright red. "N-no, no way, I-I mean, no, I don’t." It wasn’t like he was really looking, anyway. The girls in town were all sort of… scary. Except for Mary, of course. And maybe the farmer girl, Claire, but everyone else, especially Ann and Karen… no way.
"Er, well… A little while ago, maybe three seasons… I had a secret admirer, who later became my boyfriend. And the first thing he gave me was an egg that hatched into Admirer," Popuri said sadly, remembering those memories. It seemed like so long ago.
"Hehe, yeah, he can be kinda… different. He’s pretty stubborn since I spoil him all the time," Popuri said happily.
"Oh." Cliff nodded. That was a nice thing. "Do you, er, see him a lot?"
Cliff remembered when he had had a girlfriend- heck, half of it seemed like it was a dream, and not what had actually happened- and then she’d kind of disappeared off the planet- busy with the shop, he supposed. He wasn’t about to count the OTHER one as a girlfriend…
"I uh, used to do the same with Cain," Cliff admitted with a small smile. Well, there was only so much you could spoil a hawk chick but Cliff had done it- it had made hunting training harder but you wouldn’t find another bird so attached to his handler as Cain. Or wouldn’t have found.
"Yeah. That might be a good place to check. Water, flowers, bugs… Okay. Come on," Popuri said confidently as she started off towards the Pond, going a bit slower as to not go too fast for Cliff. She was still trying to act brave.
"Hey, thank you. For helping me look for Admirer. It’s really sweet of you. You didn’t have to stay with me, but you did. Thank you," Popuri said as the two of them walked together.
"Yeah." If he were a chicken he’d go home because he was, well, chicken, but apparently this was a pretty bold specimen of poultry.
"Hmm? Oh- n-no, that’s okay," Cliff said, shaking his head. "I don’t mind- Admirer? That’s a.. unique name for a chicken." He caught himself before he said ‘weird.’ After all, he had a sister who had among her flock a Zazu, Omlette, Egg, and Tamago. "I uh, know he’s different because of his color but- is there another reason you’re so worried about him?"
Popuri gulped loudly. There was a know in her stomach and she couldn’t get anything down her throat, not even air. She felt like she was suffocating. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she quickly wiped them away. “I have to look tough. And be tough,” Popuri thought to herself.
“Okay. Let’s get going,” Popuri said confidently. She started to walk down the path. Well, it was more like a strut. She was trying too hard to look tough. Hopefully Cliff wouldn’t notice.
Popuri stepped into the forest clearing. Leaves swirled around on the green, verdant forest floor. Chipmunks chattered and scurried happily. But there was no sign of Admirer.
"Are you okay?" Cliff asked quietly- but Popuri was already striding forward- he could tell she was trying to be brave. He’d seen his little sister do the same. Heck, he often put on airs himself- he could understand her worry.
"Ah… maybe he went off near the Goddess Pond?" He offered, hoping they would in fact find it there- if he had gone to the Mountain path then they would likely never find him.
Popuri noticed Cliff picking up his pace. Why was that ? Did he want to leave her quickly? Was she being annoying? Or… was Admirer in danger? Could an animal get to him? Chickens weren’t that good at self-defense…
"Cliff… what… what lives out there in the forest? Is… is Admirer in any real danger?" She asked, concern in her voice. A lot of concern. She was terrified for her chicken. "I… haven’t seen any dangerous animals there before. But, I hardly go to the forest. Have you seen any?"
Cliff didn’t reply for a moment, trying to think of a suitable way to answer Popuri’s question. There were a lot of animals out here in this forest… foxes, coyotes, the occasional wolf pack (though that was mostly in autumn when they wandered over from Forget Me Not). Once he had seen a bear but it had since moved on, he supposed.
Still, this place wasn’t very safe for a lone chicken…
"I have," He answered finally, "And… it’s better I don’t worry you with what I’ve seen. We should just get him quickly and go."
“O-okay. Thank you,” Popuri said as she wiped away her tears. She grabbed Cliff’s hand and got up off the cold, hard ground. She was so grateful to have Cliff there. She didn’t know what she’d so if she didn’t have him there to support her. He was so sweet.
“I… think… we…
“Mmmmm… no… only plain chickens…” Popuri said as she squinted her eyes and peered around the farm. They had everything here… chickens, cows, sheep, crops, a horse… if they didn’t have it here, it didn’t exist. This was one of Popuri’s favorite places.
“I… oh look!” Popuri cried. She pointed to the field that held all the crops. It was freshly watered, so it was still very muddy. Faintly, there were tiny chicken tracks in the mud. They led to the other side of the farm.
“He must be in the forest!” Popuri yelled triumphantly. “We haven’t lost him just yet!”
This farm was impressive. Much nicer than his sister’s… though he would never tell her that. Chickens were nice and all but you needed more to be a true farmer… he supposed she was a rancher really, a chicken rancher. Like Popuri, he supposed. But with one cow.
"Let’s follow it," He said, starting towards the forest. He didn’t say anything, but he did pick up his pace, worried that something might get to the chicken before they did. Having stayed in these woods plenty of times, he was well aware of the dangers.