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[Word count: 1119 words]

Ethan's POV

I smile down at her and kiss her forehead, loving how tiny she looked in my arms. 

I sit down on the couch with her in my lap as she lays down and curls up. She pulls me down, making me lay beside her. 

I wrap my arms around her. She is the perfect little spoon as she snuggles back into me and holds on to my hands, giving the knuckles soft kisses here and there. I kiss the top of her head as she does so. 

"I'm gonna have to steal you if you keep being this cute in this little onesie," I say, giving her a little squeeze. 

"Omg steal me! I wanna be stolen!" she says excitedly, actually saying 'omg' out loud. She is so precious. 

"Hey! You don't tell people to steal you," I inform as she giggles at my statement. 

"Yesh, don't steal me," she agrees as if she never said her previous statement. 

"Well, too bad," I say and wrap my arms tighter around her, kissing her cheek. "You're going to have to deal with me stealing your cute little self."

"But stealing bad," she mumbles, shaking her head disapprovingly. 

"But you too cute," I say in the same tone as her. 

"But stealing," she says with a little pout.

"But you," I say, copying the same pout and looking absolutely hideous. 

She laughs at the sight of me pouting and turns around to give me a little peck on the pout. 

I feel myself get a little nervous at the action, as we were supposed to be just friends. As a label, anyway. We weren't exactly just friends, but none of us had ever gone as far as to kiss the other one either. Well, until now. 

"Oh, you're feeling a little kissy, hmm?" I ask, raising my brow at her. 

She blushes at my question and the realization that she had kissed me, hiding away into my arm and not answering my question. 

"I asked you something, little girl," I say firmly, internally loving how she was reacting. 

"Uh...yes, sorry, daddy..." she mumbles, still hiding behind my arm and gripping tightly on it. 

"Apology not accepted yet," I tease, causing her to gasp and hold me tighter. 

"B...but me sorry, why?" she asks with a soft voice, cuddling more into me. 

"Well, stop hiding and come give me another kiss," I tell her and kiss the top of her head. 

She comes out of her hiding and lays on top of me, giving me another soft kiss. This one lingering for a while before she pulls away, smiling and blushing a little. 

"Mm, you're going to have to do that more often," I murmur, resting my hands on her back as she puts her head on my chest. 

"Yes, sir," she agrees, and a smile appears on my face.

"You're such a good girl," I praise her, patting her head.

"Heh, thank you," she says and squints her eyes.

"Now, will you answer my question like a good girl?" I ask, kissing the top of her head and looking at her.

"Uh huh, will do," she accepts, nodding her little head.

I push her up by her butt to bring her closer to me, brushing her hair from her face.

"Who made you cut?" I question, holding her firmly as I look directly into her eyes.

She quickly turns away, though, nibbling on her lower lip and shying away.

"It was nothing big, don't worry," she says, letting out a loud breath.

"That was not the question. Answer my question now," I demand, rubbing her back softly to calm her down.

"No...nothing, leave it, please," she says, shaking her head.

"The question, Mallow, answer the question," I repeat and pat her back.

" was...som...someone yelled...and- and then said was okay to...yell. I told yelling, it triggers...didn't listen, brought up grandma..." she stutters out, her voice getting shaky as she holds on to me tighter.

I hold her tightly and rub her head, kissing her forehead. I try to calm her down first, knowing it was the most importantly thing now.

Seeing her like this erupts a wave of sadness inside me. She had been through a lot, and seeing some inconsiderate assholes worsen it for her now was something I could not bring myself to accept.

The sadness quickly turns into anger as I watch her trying her best to calm herself down. She harms herself for something others did to her. She carries around the trauma and baggage for something she never asked for. Why her?

"Calm down, sweetheart, it's over. You're okay now. Don't worry about them now, please," I say, trying to soothe her and wipe away a few tears.

"Calm...calm," she says, still stuttering but better than before.

"Want some water, honey?" I offer, stroking her hair.

She nods in response as I try to push her down and get up, but she just whines a little and clings tighter to me. So, I carry her along with me to the kitchen, fetching some water and then pressing the glass to her lips as she starts sipping some water.

I pull the glass away after she's done and kiss her forehead.

"Now, little one, do you want to tell me who they were and for me to talk to them about it or do you want to stop talking to them without me interfering?" I ask.

I wanted to interfere and tell those people off, but at the end, it was her choice if she wanted me to interfere. And I had to respect that.

"Was Joanne and Alex, but it's okay. I mean, I'm okay. You don't need to talk to them about it. They don't deserve it," she says, calmly, and composes herself, kissing my forehead. "Thank you so much, Ethan, but it's fine, you don't need to waste your energy on them. I love you," she says and presses her lips onto mine.

I kiss her back, holding her little frame. I let her take control, and she deepens the kiss, making the kiss linger for a good while before pulling away and giving my lips one last peck.

"I love you too," I say as she hides away into my neck.

Although I was well aware the 'I love you' was more as a friend, I could not help but wish it was something more, which, maybe it was. The kiss made me wonder, but I felt it would be better not to spoil it by overthinking or rushing into labels. I would be happy as long as she's happy and in my life, in whatever way she is.

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