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It's like watching him try on his grandfather's old gear, poor thing. The boots had come all the way up so he couldn't bend his knees to walk. He'd had to wobble along instead, soft brim of the fishing hat flopping down over his face. Oh, how he'd laughed, though.

Aksel looks no more fit to the gun in his hands.

It's not what they'd wanted for him. Certainly not what they'd expected -- and who could have expected? Berit hangs back a few steps to watch his patrol. He's finally learned to keep the barrel down, but he carries it so uneasily. His steps are much too uncertain for the weight he's applying. He's looking, but he isn't seeing. If they really are ambushed, he'll be completely unprepared. Berit catches his elbow with one hand.

"Quietly, sweetie. We want to be patrolling for them, not the other way around," Berit reminds him.

Aksel's face crinkles up at the bridge of his nose and the corners of his eyes, and he sucks in a great big breath just to tell her: "I know! I know. I was just...thinking."

"Then I'll lead our patrol today. You can take over as spotter for me for now. Next time."

"It's fine, honest! He hoists his gun up, looking for all the world dwarfed by the silly thing. "I can do this."

"Muzzle down," Berit reminds him. He's quick to comply, but he holds his ground.

"Please. Let me do this." His face is so serious. "I want to take care of you, too."

Berit lowers her rifle to smooth his hair, to put her palm to his cheek. He's gotten so tall, it isn't easy. "I know, puppy," she says. "I know."