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You Lead, I'll Follow

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“So lad, are you ready to go?”

There awaits L’Arc, who had the most odd request he had got from him. Just simply spend the day with him. It was very simple, normal and easy enough to do, but Naofumi can't quite place his finger on why he'd want to do so.

“Come on, shield boy! You deserve a break! Let the girls have a day to themselves too. It'll be fun, what do ya say?”

Once L’Arc had his mind set on something it was hard to get his mind on anything else. Part of him believes it's L’Arc’s way of giving Therese a break since he knows the gem user probably needs a break every now and then..

As well as it being the only reason why L’Arc wanted alone time with him. But at least the others could catch a break now, they really deserved it. Not to mention the next wave wouldn't be along for a good amount of time.

All the other heroes slack off anyway, maybe L’Arc was right. He did deserve a break. It bothered him not to be productive, but with the promise of going out to grind that'd be enough to make up for the mini vacation.

“It amazes me that you'd remember last night’s request as drunk as you were.” Naofumi feels himself smile, something that comes easy around the scythe wielder. “But quit sneaking drinks for Raphtalia and Filo. They're just kids.” … But of course he needed to scold him about underage drinking. It probably didn't matter here but hearing Filo whine about a hangover wasn't the most pleasant thing to wake up to..

“What are you some strict parent? Let loose once in awhile, they were enjoying themselves!” And with that the lecture is waved off as nothing.

‘He's acting like he's some fun dad..’

Audibly sighing Naofumi let's L’Arc lead the way on their way into the jungle, ready to blow off some much needed steam.

***

“Did you see how huge that thing was? Man, I was bored out of my mind before that big ass thing jumped outta nowhere!” By how L’Arc grins so proudly Naofumi finds it oddly infectious and catches himself smiling too.

The level grinding had been a huge success. A good bit of rare items were dropped, along with the increase of exp to his party that he's sure the others would be proud of their hard work too. Or concerned, but either way the hunt was successful.

It was odd not having Raphtalia not be his sword, but instead having to rely on L’Arc to keep him safe. The way that they were in perfect sync as they battled was, to Naofumi, truly amazing. L’Arc truly made it look easy.

“Glad you met someone challenging enough to satisfy your thirst for battle.” Naofumi hides his smile behind his cup of water. Despite it being the middle of the day L’Arc chose to have liquor which shouldn't baffle him, yet it still did.

“If you get drunk and pass out I'm not carrying you back to the ship.”

“It's just one cup! Plus you wouldn't leave me all alone out here. You're a genuinely nice guy, lad.” L’Arc lets the compliment slide out with ease but Naofumi has a hard time reacting to it. He's learned not to let flattery ever get to his head after coming to this world, especially from women. But for a man to compliment him it still applied, however with L’Arc..

It was at least sincere.

“.. Naofumi.”

“..Huh?”

“Stop calling me ‘lad’ and ‘shield boy’, my name is Naofumi.” Such embarrassing nicknames too..

“I thought by now you'd be used to the affectionate nicknames.” For some reason L’Arc seemed genuinely confused by the statement. The fact that L’Arc thought the names were ones of affection only furthered his embarrassment.

“S-seriously?” Naofumi sighs and holds back the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. The guy could be blunt as ever when he wanted to..

“Did you just stutter? I've never heard you do that before, that's pretty cute of you shield boy!” As if personal space didn't exist L’Arc throws an arm around Naofumi laughing loud enough to attract curious gazes. It was L’Arc who had offered to buy them lunch and eat outside but now Naofumi is regretting letting him do so.

“.. What did we just talk about?” Naofumi sighs as L’Arc grins. In one ear and out the other.. and what did he mean by cute? He was far from being so!

“Yeah, yeah I know. But they're special names only I get to call you.” It feels hard now to be even remotely irked at the scythe wielder with a reason like that. It was sort of like how Filo was the only one to call him Master, but this was different in a way.

After all L’Arc was free and had no one he had to follow orders to.

“Well.. Whatever. Do as you please I suppose.” With a defeated sigh Naofumi downs the rest of his drink. L’Arc was just going to do so anyway..

“That's the spirit, lad!” L’Arc grins as bright as the scouring sun and follows Naofumi’s action by downing his drink as well. Nothing really brought the guy down, huh? But that's what gave him some personal charm.

Casual days like these where he just talked freely..

“I wouldn't mind doing this again sometime.” Voicing his thoughts was the best thing he had said apparently. It was good enough to boost L’Arc’s mood who was already unlatching himself from the shield hero and setting his sights ahead of him.

“Thanks, Naofumi. I'm ready to go when you are! And you know, this turned out to be a nice date!”

The fact that L’Arc finally said his name has him smiling. Maybe on rare occasions he'd do so, but this was something Naofumi would remember for quite some time as strange as that may be-

‘Wait a minute..’

“Date?!”