It’s the end of November, nearly December, and it’s just a little too cold for the evening walk Pinoko wants to take—but the doctor seems to barely feel the cold through his cloak and suit, so she wraps an arm around his leg and pulls herself closer, willing herself to be strong like him.
“We could go home, if you want,” he says, and she shakes her head nuh-uh.
“I wanna go to the bakery,” she quips. “Can I have some bread?”
“And then can I go to the park?”
“All right,” he says, “but not for too long.”
“And then can I go to a bar?”
“Very funny, Pinoko.”
She giggles. Like she can get anything past the doctor!
The bread’s fine, though. She gets some melon-pan and Black Jack just has coffee. They sit near the window, with Black Jack’s back to the glass, so Pinoko can look out while the people outside can’t see his patchwork face.
“I changed my mind,” she says. “I don’t really wanna go to the park after all. It’s too cold.”
“I agree,” he says, sipping his coffee, and Pinoko quietly feels a blush and a smile at those precious, friendly words. “Let’s just head home after this, okay?”
They walk a little further down the street and circle around to get back home. There’s a little tavern down that way, with a bunch of raucous businessmen outside. There’s a sudden burst of drunken speech as Black Jack and Pinoko pass by, and he yanks her out of the way as someone topples over into the street. ”Watch where you’re going!” he snaps, and brings down his other hand to pull the drunkard back to his feet.
“Shut up! You don’t have ta…u-uh…” The man is on the verge of putting together a sentence before he takes a good look at the doctor’s face, and shuts right up. Coldly Black Jack shoves him back at his friends, and then, with a quick, decisive stride, heads for home with Pinoko in tow.
It always makes her a little nervous when he walks that fast. The doctor’s scary when he’s mad, even if he’s not mad at her. Thankfully, he calms down after a couple minutes, and she relaxes too. By this time the sun is far below the horizon, and the first stars are starting to appear in the cloudless sky.
He pauses for a moment, staring up at the firmament. “Up,” he says, and pulls Pinoko into his arms. “Take a look. Do you see it?”
“Oh!” she exclaims. “A shooting star!”
It streaks across the sky very suddenly, so quickly that Pinoko isn’t sure if she saw it or imagined it. But Black Jack saw it, so it must be true; he’s never seen anything that wasn’t a hundred percent real, no matter how strange it seemed. They stand there for a few minutes, her awestruck, him very calm, and then he begins to walk again, carrying her off towards home.
“I didn’t really wanna go to a bar,” she mumbles somewhere down the path, and he lets out a low, amused “mm” of agreement.