Laska and Me – 8

December 6th, 2007

“So how do you like your new look?”

Laska fluffed out her hair, shook her head, and then fluffed it out again for good measure. A big, goofy smile crept across her face as she stared at herself in the mirror.

“I love it!”

“You do look great like that,” I said, still in a bit of shock over my now short-haired daughter.

It was surprising when Laska told me she wanted to get rid of her long hair, but I figured it was due to the aftermath or her scuffle at school. Rather than trying to blend in with the other girls, Laska was increasingly attempting to make herself stand out even more.

“Glad you like it,” the stylist said as she undid the smock and let Laska loose.

Laska shot me a brilliant smile, then practically leapt from the chair and raced towards the waiting area of the salon, most likely to show herself off to Lydia. I hadn’t seen Laska so lit up and energized in weeks – months even. And all it took was a haircut. Running a hand through my own hair as I walked towards the register, I briefly wondered if I should try something different.

“Laska! You look simply ravishing!” Lydia said as Laska struck a pose and foofed out her dark hair yet again. “It frames your face perfectly. Really brings attention to your eyes and cheekbones. Long hair was cute, but this is definitely you.”

Laska giggled and ran a paw across the back of her neck. “Thanks for the idea, Lydia! But it feels so weird not having hair down my back!”

“I know what you mean. When I was a young little thing like you, I had hair all the way down to my butt. It’ll be weird for a while but trust me, short hair is so much easier to take care of.”

“Yea, having to wash and dry and comb my hair was such a pain!”

How nice of Laska to leave out that I helped her comb out all the snags and knots before she went to bed. Not that I was complaining about one less thing to do before bed. Just a little appreciation would be nice, that’s all.

“I’ll bet,” Lydia said with a worryingly girlish titter, letting her fangs poke out. “But, I think you need something else to complete the look.”

“And what’s that?” I said before Laska could respond, walking over to the pair.

“Clothes, of course!” Lydia said, grinning at Laska.

Took only seconds after I handed over a rather ghastly amount of money – I had no idea a haircut at an upscale place like this could be so much – until Lydia was already making plans to have me spend more.

“We just went clothes shopping for her last month,” I said, intent on putting a stop to this.

Laska looked down at her shirt and pulled it taut. “I need new clothes? But dad just took me shopping before school started.”

“I know, dear. Everyone knows your dad shops for you,” Lydia said a little too pityingly.

I shifted and crossed my arms across my chest. “Hey, what’s that supposed to mean? I’ll have you know I let Laska pick out what she wants.”

Lydia’s eyes opened just a little too wide. “Really?”

Laska smoothed out her shirt and pants with her paws, probably for emphasis on her choice of style. “Ya, I like these. They’re comfy and easy to wear.”

“Well, I guess the girl’d adopt a style like that living with you,” Lydia said in a tone somewhere between disbelief and exasperation. “Still, a few changes here and there and you’ll look great. Shirts and jeans that hug you a little better, cut a little more feminine, brighter colors…”

Lydia looked my daughter up and down and nodded. “We’ll get all the boys looking your way and still keep things comfy.”

“But I don’t want boys looking at me, they’re gross!” Laska said, wrinkling her brows in protest.

Soon as Lydia said ‘boys’ my heart skipped a beat and I’m fairly certain I began to sweat. Fortunately my daughter’s snappy response squashed any anxiety before it got out of hand. She was still far, far too young to be worrying about any of that.

However, as always, the sly wolf wasn’t the lease bit phased or dissuaded. In fact, her comeback was so fast it made me believe she’d expected Laska’s response.

“Gross? Hah! Your dad is a boy, you know. Do you think he’s gross?”

I wasn’t sure what kind of response I expected from my dear innocent little daughter. Maybe just something like a clear ‘He’s not gross, he’s my dad!’ that’d make me swell with fatherly pride. Instead, Laska immediately went quiet and looked down at her paws, only giving me a few furtive glances.

“…No,” Laska said in a hushed tone after far too long.

Huh. Not at all the reaction I’d expected. Even Lydia was left dumbfounded, but only momentarily.

“Very interesting,” Lydia finally said with a coy smile.

I knew that look. Laska was about to get a Lydia-style interrogation. Or so I thought. To my surprise Lydia simply let the subject drop. That was very suspicious in itself, but I wasn’t about to provoke her to sate my curiosity.

“Anyways, I know just the place to go. It’s where I shop for Zoe’s clothes all the time.”

Laska perked up from her shy paw wringing and fidgeting. “Really? I think Zoe’s stuff is cute.”

“Great, it’s settled then. Let’s go!” Lydia said boldly, practically bursting out the door.

“Yay!” Laska cheered, scampering right behind the werewolf.

Funny, I didn’t remember agreeing to any shopping. Apparently I didn’t get a say in how I spent my money. Did I get married to her at some point and everyone knew but me? No, Steve probably would’ve said something.

Still, Laska seemed awfully excited about shopping with Lydia. A change of style to go with her change of hair – and attitude. Maybe that’s just what she needed to be more self-confident about who she was. I let out a long sigh. If it made her happy and self-confident, the cost of a new wardrobe was a small price to pay.

“How about this? The color matches your eyes well,” Lydia said, holding a shirt up against Laska.

Laska looked down at the bright orange shirt pressed against her, then up at the werewolf. “It does?”

“It does. Here, go try it on – along with these pants – then come back and show us.”

“Alright!”

Laska took the clothes from Lydia and scurried over towards the changing rooms.

“Do we really need more?” I asked with a long sigh once Laska was out of earshot.

The small cart beside me was practically overflowing with a variety of garments. By my count we’d already picked up seven or eight shirts, maybe five pairs of pants, and a new leather jacket because apparently the parka I’d gotten for her wasn’t flattering enough. Or something. I thought Laska looked good in whatever she tried on, which for some reason Lydia found annoying.

“Of course, a girl needs variety – can’t be wearing the same thing every day like you do.”

“Just because my shirts look a little similar…” I began to protest.

“Don’t worry about it, Steve was the same way when I found him. You just need a woman in your life.”

“What, you shop for Steve too? And you know I’ve been trying.”

Lydia began going through the cart, re-folding everything neatly and arranging things to make more room. “You think he knew how to dress that smartly on his own?” She said with a wolfish smirk that faded into a half-frown. “So Laska didn’t like the last one either, huh? I thought things were going well. You two seemed to hit it off.”

I shrugged. “Yeah, I dunno. Whenever I try to introduce her to someone she gets all hostile and either completely ignores them or acts like a total brat.”

She regarded me for a moment, focusing her vermillion eyes on me before returning to folding. “I know you’re worried about what happened with what’s-her-name-manticore-“

“-Amanda.”

“With Amanda. But you can’t let Laska decide who you see, or she’ll never let you until she moves out of the house.”

“Yeah, I know. Just, like you said, I’m worried about her.”

Lydia’s tail swished twice before she replied. “She’s not freaking out anymore if you bring someone over, right? You’ll be fine.”

“I guess,” I muttered.

While she was right that I’d been on eggshells since that incident, Lydia never saw just how uncomfortable Laska became whenever I introduced her to someone. I was determined to find someone, not just myself but also for Laska, but I was taking things slow on purpose. Putting my foot down and telling Laska she had no say in my love life wasn’t likely to endear her to whoever I’d attempt to date. For the time being I was simply trying to get her used to the idea of having another woman in my – and her – life.

“Say, why do you always bring this up whenever we’re alone?” I asked.

She glanced at me with a cocked eyebrow and looked like she was about to say something, but stopped as her eyes focused behind me.

“How do I look?”

Laska edged out of the dressing room and over to us, a smile on her face. The bright orange was a good match, and the black heart-shape across the chest was rather cute. Compared to the others we’d picked out, this outfit was definitely tighter.

“That’s, kind of revealing, isn’t it?”

“Revealing? You’re such a prude,” Lydia said with a hand on her hip. “Your father aside, I think that looks great on you, Laska. How’s it feel?”

“Good,” Laska said, then glanced at me. “Do you like it?”

“I don’t thi-“

Lydia elbowed me and shot me a look.

“I mean, I don’t… know why we haven’t gotten you such cute clothes before!”

Laska’s tail began to swish side to side in long, slow sways. “Really? You think it looks good?”

“You look adorable.”

Much as she’d been doing all day, Laska smiled as wide as her face could manage. “Really? It’s hard for me to tell…”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Lydia said with a snort of a laugh. “Someone has to make sure you’re presentable. Your dad’s about useless in that regard.”

“He’s not useless!” Laska shot back.

Oh, my dear Laska – how she made my heart swell with pride.

“He’s just not very…”

“Fashionable?” Lydia finished, seeing Laska struggle for the word.

“Ya!”

And there went my swollen heart, popped and trodden upon beneath my daughter’s paw.

“That can be your ‘cute’ set of clothes,” Lydia said, kneeling down next to Laska. She whispered something into her ear, winked, and then both of them looked at me with devilish glints.

“Fine, whatever. Go change back, sweetie – I think we’re done, right?” I said, turning to Lydia for emphasis.

“Nope. One last thing.”

“Seriously, what else is there to get?”

“Underwear, of course.”

Much as I’d been doing all day, I let out another long sigh.

Laska tottered back to switch back into her original clothes. I wanted to bring up what Laska and I were talking about earlier, or even just ask what she’d whispered to Laska, but I wasn’t in the mood. I just wanted to get out of that place.

Once Laska came back out, we were dragged over to the undergarment section by an overly-enthusiastic werewolf.

“Alright Laska, what’ve you got on now?” Lydia asked as she surveyed the massive selection of girl’s small clothes. “Let’s start there.”

It wasn’t so much that I was embarrassed with being there. Rather, it was more like I was out of my element. The sheer variety and selection of things most people would never see boggled my mind, and this area apparently didn’t even include lingerie and the like. That was elsewhere. Mind blown.

Laska dipped through the aisles and racks, but returned empty-pawed. “I don’t see them here.”

Lydia quirked an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“I have, uh, dad calls them ‘boxers’.”

Rolling her cheek to a shoulder and looking up at me with her eyes, Lydia’s expression dripped with her unspoken word: “Really?”

I simply shrugged and then averted my gaze, turning around to look at… anything else. So deep was her sigh that I could hear her eyes roll. Supposedly this was a big deal, but neither I or Laska knew why. Besides, boxers filled the role of underwear rather well. Quite comfy to boot. What was she complaining about?

“Okay, well, what bras do you have?”

“Bras?”

Never before have I fully understood what it meant to have someone’s stare pierce your back.

“Curtis, we need to have a talk,” Lydia said, her voice far, far too sweet.

Nothing good in the history of man ever came from that phrase when uttered by a woman. And the worst part was she was just a friend. Steeling myself, I turned back around to see Lydia with the most plastered on smile I’d ever seen and Laska’s brows furrowed in confusion.

Lydia laid a hand on Laska’s shoulder and squatted down to eye level with her. “Laska, how old are you?”

“Uh, eleven?”

“That’s right, you’re eleven,” Lydia said. Though she was looking at my daughter, she was talking to me. “So why is it that you don’t have any bras?”

“I dunno?”

“You don’t know. Curtis?”

Lydia’s eyes fell upon me. I swallowed. Rather than answering, I elected to parry her question with one of my own. “Does she need one?”

“Yes, she does. Laska dear, ask your father why you need a bra.”

That plan backfired faster than I’d thought possible. Sparkling, innocent orange eyes settled on me alongside an accusing vermillion pair.

“Dad, why do I need a bra?”

Like a knife to the heart. Why, indeed. Obviously, I knew the reason. Lydia needed one. The lamia wondering what all the fuss was as she slithered past needed one. But Laska didn’t. She didn’t have… those. Briefly, I considered swallowing my tongue to spare myself the agony.

“Well, Curtis, father of Laska?”

Lydia wasn’t going to let me go.

“Because. Because they, that is- bras – support,” I said as if each word were a burning lump of coal forced down my throat.

At least that got a genuine bark of a laugh out of the wolf. Considering the utterly massive shit-eating grin she was sporting, she was definitely laughing at me.

“Support what?” Laska asked, tilting her head and furrowing her brows deeper still. Her tail danced behind her in short skips and her ears were fixated on me.

Mercifully, Lydia took over. Probably figured we’d be there all day at the rate I was going.

Slipping a finger into Laska’s shirt collar, Lydia pulled it open and peeked down. She sighed. Laska remained confused. My cheeks began to burn.

“Your boobs. You know, I thought it strange I didn’t see any straps when we modeled all those clothes for us, but I figured she just wore a strapless trainer,” Lydia said with no small amount of exasperation.

Laska looked down the inside of her shirt as well. “Boobs?”

No, no, no. My daughter doesn’t have boobs.

“Yes, Laska – in fact,” she said, then palmed my daughters chest. and then actually lifted upwards. “I’d say you’re almost an A-cup.”

How was it possible for her to have… She was only eleven! It couldn’t be happening, no way.

Despite being groped, Laska didn’t mind much. She was more concerned with other things. “Why do they need support?”

“Because they’ll get bigger, and without a bra they’ll sag and generally just be a pain.”

“Bigger? Like yours?” Laska asked, cupping Lydia’s chest with her paws.

“Exactly! And see, I have this on,” Lydia said, pulling down the neck of her shirt to reveal a black, lacy garment, “to make sure they stay put.”

I really couldn’t believe what I was watching. A game of peek and poke between Lydia and my daughter in the middle of an underwear section.

Frowning, Laska unhanded Lydia and jiggled herself. “I don’t want boobs!”

“Sorry kiddo,” Lydia said. “They happen whether you want ‘em or not. Not only that…”

As if grabbing her chest wasn’t bad enough, Lydia ran her hands completely up and down Laska. My daughter let out a ticklish burst of laughter as the wolfs’s hands found their way down her sides and then lurched when they ran across the small of her back.

“Ah! Stop that!”

“…Oh, you’re going to be in for a treat soon,” Lydia said to me, standing up once she was done molesting poor Laska.

“She’s getting hips, amongst other things,” she said with a look of genuine pity in her eyes. “She hasn’t started her period yet, has she?”

I shook my head, desperately wishing the burning on my face would go away.

Lydia laid a hand on my shoulder. “Well, expect it soon. Might wanna have a chat with her before then. And no, I won’t do it for you.”

Killed the question even before I could ask it. I hated Lydia and completely understood her reasoning at the same time. She was right, it was my responsibility to talk to Laska. As much as I didn’t want to. Laska constantly saying ‘boobs’ wasn’t making things any easier.

“My period?” Laska asked.

Neither was that.

“Your father’ll tell you later. For now, let’s get you some real panties and a bra or two.”

Laska puffed out her cheeks. “Do I have to?”

All this talk made me pine for the days when she was still so tiny and innocent. A time when I didn’t have to think or worry about the effects of adolescence.

“Yes, you have to. Also, hate to tell you Laska, but you’ll probably be bigger than I am when you grow up.”

I couldn’t tell if Lydia was taking a jab at me or if she was being serious. Either way, it worked. Another stab wound that bled fatherly anguish. I lamented my loss of innocence in all this, forced for the first time to think of Laska as a girl with girlish needs.

“But you’re big! And you bounce! I don’t want to be all bouncy!”

“Me? big?” Lydia said with a wolfish snicker and pat Laska’s head. “While I appreciate the flattery, I’m a small C. And ‘bouncy’ is exactly why you need a bra.”

That was it for me. Sliding backwards until I was at a safe distance, I spotted my avenue of escape. “I’mgonnabeovertherecomegetmewhenyou’redone!”

From behind me all I heard was “You coward!” before I made it into the safety of the men’s department.

A comforting world of clothing I understood and where underwear was always sold by the pack. A world free from the constant talk of boobs and bouncing. Feeling more at ease, my mind was allowed to digest all that I’d heard. All that I’d been forced to consider. Eleven was still so young, how could she possibly be maturing already? I suppose at some point I forgot she was a Cheshire – a monstergirl – and just thought of her as my daughter. In the back of my mind I knew they reached maturity more quickly, but I just never thought about it. In a way, it was almost just as shocking that I’d managed to go this long without lending it any real consideration.

I wandered around, looking at everything but nothing in particular. It was pretty cowardly of me to run away like I did, but I just couldn’t take anymore. The worst part was I wasn’t even sure why it bothered me as much as it did. Sure a level of embarrassment was to be expected of a dad dealing with his daughter’s on-rushing puberty and all that entailed, but I’m pretty sure I took it a few levels above normalcy.

Lost in thought amongst the belts and socks, I had a small epiphany of sorts. She’d always be my little Laska forever. There wasn’t any reason she had to stop being my little girl just because she matured a bit. We’d always love each other, regardless of age or whatever Laska had – or didn’t have. So what was I so afraid of?

“Dad! There you are!”

Behind me that familiar sweet, girlish voice called out.

“Lydia says we’re done shopping now.”

“Oh, already? Where’s she at?”

“Up at the front waiting for us,” Laska said, waiting for me at the end of the myriad of clothing racks.

Finally, this ordeal was over. Pure relief swept over me, until I remembered the cart heaped full of clothing. Plus whatever that werewolf added since I took off. In essence I’d basically be paying for the torment I just went through and would bring it home with me.

“Alright,” I said, letting my shoulders slump.

“Go through everything you don’t want and throw it out,” I said as I set the bags down on Laska’s bed.

Laska nodded and began scooping up all the clothes scattered on the floor, pausing to examine each thing. As I removed her new clothes from the bag, mostly to see what exactly I’d spent an obscene amount of money on, I discovered the articles that’d been picked out after my daring escape.

Solid black underwear.

That damn wolf. No wonder she kept distracting me while the clerk scanned everything.

And a swimsuit!

Why would she have Laska pick out a swimsuit in December? A two-piece, at that! Well, at least the bottoms a boy’s trunks style rather than a bikini. That was a surprising concession of modesty out of her.

“Do you like it?”

Glancing backwards, Laska had already formed two piles of clothes. She was eying the swimsuit in my hand, her tail flicking back and forth. No, Lydia hadn’t chosen this one.

“Sure, it’s cute. I like the purple and black stripes. Did you or Lydia pick it out?”

A little smile formed on her lips. “I did…”

I wanted to ask what was wrong with her old swimsuit, but decided that since today was all about finding a new look I’d let it pass.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll look great in it. Did you have fun today?” I asked, intent on getting off the swimsuit subject.

“Yeah, I love my hair and new clothes!”

“I’m glad,” I said as I yanked a tag off a pair of pants. “You’ve been a little bundle of smiles and giggles all day.”

Laska made sure to underline my point by letting her smile go full bloom. “I had a lot of fun today! I like going out shopping with you. It felt like…”

“Felt like what?” I asked when she suddenly went quiet.

“N-Nothing!”

Laska quickly turned away and threw the last of the clothes from the floor into her piles.

“Aw, come on – tell me.”

“I-it’s nothing, really!”

Laska was doing her best to avoid looking at me, immediately diving into her dresser and flinging clothes out from the drawers. I had no idea what she could be thinking of that’d get her all flustered. Certainly left me deeply curious seeing as how she often shared her thoughts about nearly everything with me.

Pressing her on it would probably be amusing, or might wind up pissing her off. My guess was it was something to do with when she was alone with Lydia. Girl talk or some such.

Leaving that topic alone, we instead chatted about idle topics while working on reducing her load of old clothes. As the heap of clothes she didn’t want grew, it occurred to me that we hadn’t gone through her stuff like this in a very long while. Some of the things she was tossing didn’t even fit her anymore. In a way it served to remind me that she was always growing, always getting a bit older every day.

Just because she would be a little different tomorrow didn’t mean she wouldn’t be the same as she was yesterday. Almost six years had gone by. Six! And from the beginning, as she was now, she was my little girl. No reason that’d change just because she started to grow out as well as up.

“Hey dad, what does it mean to be a woman?”

No reason at all.

I took a long blink and stared at Laska. “What?”

“When Lydia and I were alone, she told me that I was becoming a woman,” she said softly.

“Didn’t she tell you what it meant?” I asked, hoping that maybe Laska was just looking for a second opinion.

But she shook her head. “No, she said to ask you after I thought about it.”

I still hadn’t fully recovered from earlier, and now I was being pressed even further. What made it worse was that I had no idea where to begin. No one had ever really told me what being a man was all about; I just kind of picked it up. I figured Laska would’ve done the same. Then again, I never bothered to ask my parents anything.

Despite my rising heartbeat and increasingly heavy feeling in my gut, I knew I had a duty. I couldn’t run away from this forever. Much as I hated to admit it, Lydia was right.

With grim determination I proceeded forward. But not before I sat down on Laska’s bed.

“That’s a really hard question,” I said, exhaling through my nose. “Like, really hard. Why don’t you tell me what you think it means?”

Laska tossed the last of her things from her dresser, then plopped down on one of the piles of clothes.

“Well, Lydia kept talking about boobs and butts and stuff. Does having those make you a woman?”

They must’ve talked about butts after I escaped. Made me wonder what else Lydia talked about with my pure, innocent daughter.

“That’s part of it, I guess,” I said, shifting around uncomfortably and rubbing at my face. “Having those… things makes you a woman physically…”

“So why do I need them to be a woman?”

“They’re, well they’re a sign of maturity and desirability,” I began, realizing where this was ultimately heading.

I wondered if Lydia had intended ‘soon’ to be ‘today.’ That’d explain why she kept telling Laska to ask me things.

Laska thought for a moment, tilting her head to one side. A bit of a blush rose to her cheeks as she looked at me, then quickly looked down. “Having those makes people like you?”

“Yeah, I guess,” I said, not wanting to complicate things further by mentioning how some women don’t really grow and all that.

“Would you like me more if I got boobs?”

My heart skipped a beat. Biting my lip, I looked up at the ceiling and prayed for deliverance. Part of me thought that she was confusing romantic ‘like’ for friendship or familial ‘like’ or ‘love.’ I had no idea how she didn’t understand by now – especially seeing as how I’d brought home dates and such.

“Daddy?”

Deliverance wasn’t coming. No lightning bolts or sudden appearances of mysterious persons who were more than happy to explain everything.

“I meant, sweetie, ‘like’ in the sense of when a man and woman like each other. Physical attraction. Someone that, uh, gives you urges when you see them.”

“Urges?”

It occurred to me that I wasn’t clarifying a thing – in fact, I was probably just making her confusion worse. Taking a step back from the conversation, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Explaining this to a son probably wouldn’t be so hard. At least we’d share a common thread. Regardless, I had to start over.

“Do you know what puberty is?”

Laska thought for a moment. I’d fully expected her to say no right away, especially seeing as how she was so naive on everything else thus far. “It’s when someone’s body changes so they can have children!” She said, very pleased with herself at having remembered.

“Right,” I said, thankful for one small miracle. “Part of those changes are growing boobs and such. Now, do you know where the child comes from?”

Laska pointed at her stomach. “Women get big here when they get uh, preggant?”

“Pregnant,” I corrected her. “And right again.”

No idea where she’d learned all this, but it sure was a windfall.

“But how does the baby get there?”

Of course. So much for getting my hopes up. I cleared my throat, licked my lips, and began reluctantly.

“Well, when a man and a woman love each other and want to have a child, they have sssex.”

I was pretty sure I managed to say ‘sex’ in the creepiest manner possible. It was all I could do to force the word out. Hardening my heart and steeling my mind, I prepared myself for the inevitable ‘What is sex?’ question.

“Really? Since we love each other does that mean we can have sssex and have a baby?”

I blinked. Laska’s ears wiggled and she tilted her head. Every rational, logical thought process came to a screeching halt. How. Why. What.

“Dad, are you okay?” Laska asked, face full of concern and worry. “O-or do you not love me enough to have sssex?”

There had to be a camera somewhere and Lydia had to be watching, laughing her ass off. But the look on Laska’s face was too real. She was serious. Finally my thoughts thawed, but it was a struggle to marshal them into some kind of coherent order.

“Okay, it’s ‘sex.’ I mispronounced it the first time. Second, yes – I love you very much, but it’s a different kind of love. People who are physically attracted to each other have urges to have sex. And have children.”

The more I said these things, the easier it got. Kind of, anyways. I think I realized I was digging myself a deeper and deeper hole, and the only way out was to just get this over with. Better now than later. So I had to keep telling myself.

“Okay,” Laska said, her face still betraying her lack of understanding. “So what is sex?”

There it was. This time I was prepared. Kind of.

“Sex. Sex involves… genitals.”

I could feel my pulse pounding in my temples and an intense burning on my ears.

“Genitals?”

“Remember when we used to take baths together all the time? How had different parts here?” I asked, gesturing between my legs. If someone had told me a year ago I would be pointing at my crotch while looking my daughter in the eye, I would have called them insane.

“Oh yeah! You have a uh, long thing! And I have a slit!”

A slit. Of all the words she chose, she picked the one with provocative connotations. I also wondered where exactly she’d learned that word. For the time being I chalked it up to Lydia. Hell, this whole situation was her fault.

“That’s, that’s not incorrect, but ‘slit’ is an ugly-“

Suddenly Laska looked stricken. “You think my slit is… ugly?”

“What? No! I think yours is very cute! Wait-“

Something, anything. I just wanted to die, right there on the spot. Just flop over and be free from worldly shackles and regrets. Never before in the history of fatherhood has a kneejerk reaction to a daughter calling herself ugly bitten someone in the ass so hard.

“You always tell me I’m cute, you’re just saying it!” Laska said, folding her ears back and pouting her lips.

Misunderstandings. A twisted romantic comedy nightmare that wouldn’t end. There was only on recourse – I had to take charge.

“Laska!” I said loudly, mostly to snap myself out of my spiraling descent into the abyss of madness. “I meant that’s an ugly word. What you have is properly called a… a v-vagina.”

Her ears drooped further. “So you don’t think it’s cute?”

No time. I just had to charge forward.

“That has nothing to do with anything! What I – and all men have – is called a penis! The penis goes into the vagina! That’s sex!”

“Oohhhh,” she said, her ears swinging back up. “How does that make a baby?”

“Here!” I said, pointing to my own stomach for a reference. “Woman have a uterus and ovaries here! Ovaries have eggs! They release one into the uterus!”

Laska leaned forward, listening very intently.

“A man has testicles!” I proclaimed, as if it were the greatest thing ever. “Testicles have sperm! When a penis goes into the vagina, a man ejaculates! Well, ejaculates for a lot of things, but that’s beside the point! When he ejaculates, all the sperm are released into the uterus and if there’s an egg the sperm and egg join. Then it begins to grow and many months later a baby comes out.”

Laska nodded along with every sentence, but soon as I stopped she had another quandary for me. “How do you know if there’s an egg?”

The limits of my knowledge had been reached. For all my gusto and mad dash towards the finish line on the charming topic of sex and reproduction with my daughter, I really hadn’t gotten anywhere. She was just full of questions. So many questions. So many difficult questions.

I couldn’t even tell if I was embarrassed anymore. I just wanted this waking nightmare to end. Fortunately, her PC caught my eye.

The internet.

Had to slap myself on the forehead. If only I had thought of that sooner, I could’ve saved myself so much anguish and heartache. And not made myself look like a fool in front of Laska.

“That’s something I don’t know,” I admitted, all my fire gone.

Shambling like a broken husk over to her PC, I wiggled the mouse to bring it out of sleep and waved Laska over. “Take a seat, we’re about to find out.”

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t.”

I ran a quick search for sexual education for monster girls, only to discover that sex education got a lot more explicit from what I remembered. In fact, I was pretty sure much of it was just straight up hardcore porn with subtitles and captions. Scrolling furiously before Laska took her seat, I managed to find a link that look suitably medical and safe.

First option to pick was species – nice that they had specific information for each species. After selecting Cheshire there was a detailed list of links .The first item was ‘The sex organs.’ Even had nice, detailed pictures. A little too detailed. Vaginas were not meant to be shot in that kind of resolution.

“Alright, Laska,” I said as her eyes went wide when she saw what was on the screen.

“Is that a vagina? Mine doesn’t look anything like that!”

I didn’t care. She wasn’t going to distract me. I was on a mission. A mission to shred my daughter’s innocence.

“They all look different, just like your faces or something. Look, I need a break.”

“Why?”

“I just do. Look, I’ll take all the clothes you don’t want downstairs, and you just read this. When you get to the bottom follow the link to the next part. Okay? Let me know whenever you’re done.”

“But I want you to teach me!”

“I know, sweetie, but I don’t know that much about girls. When you’re done we’ll talk more. Okay?”

I emphasized the last word, raising my eyebrows.

“Okay,” she finally agreed after a moment.

For the first time in what had seemed like an eternity I felt a weight lift from my heart. I knew she’d have plenty to ask me later, but for now I could recover. Scooping up her clothes, I then darted from her room.

I stuffed her clothes into a garbage bag, figured I’d take them to a donation center. Most of them were still in good condition, so why not. I wanted to go back up to put all her other stuff in the wash to make sure everything was clean, but I knew she’d immediately interrogate me. So I was more than happy to just sprawl out on the couch and let my mind rest.

As I relaxed and stretched out, something began to gnaw at my thoughts. Something with how Laska had acted through the day and her questions. I’d fully expected her to blush and get all nervous, but she listened intently like I was describing how something worked. Well, in a way I was – to her I may as well have been talking about how a machine operated. But still, I felt like I was missing something big.

And then, as I was mulling things over, a hefty, fluffy weight flopped down onto me.

“Dad, I’m done!” Said Laska as she draped herself across my shoulder.

Just when I thought my heartbeat had finally slowed. Having the shit startled out of me was exactly what I needed. Maybe I had been exhausted or something, seeing as how I suddenly became rather light-headed and even dizzy. I shook my head to clear it away but it only made it worse.

“Dad? Are you okay?”

I tried to focus my eyes on Laska, but couldn’t quite do it. I mumbled something, but I had no idea what. I spoke words, but that’s all I knew. Right after Laska became increasingly worried.

“Dad…?”

Then, just as suddenly as it came everything jolted back in order.

“Yeah, sorry, you just startled me, that’s all,” I said, rubbing at my temples.

“Er, sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. Anyways, you done reading?”

“Yup!” Laska said with a smirk, then rolled off me.

Sitting up to clear the last of the webs, I pat next to me for Laska to sit down. “So, what’d you learn?”

“A lot! Apparently I’m unique ‘cause it said most Cheshires have their first period by age ten.”

I knew things happened at a young age in monster girls, but damn. “And about the question you had earlier? About eggs?”

“Uhh,” Laska thought, placing a furry digit on her chin while she hummed in thought. “The first couple times it happens it’s every few weeks, but then after a year or two I can control it so I can choose when to get pregnant. And when I have an egg but it doesn’t get fur-ta-lized, it comes out in a ‘period’.”

“Correct,” I said, nodding sagely. “What else?”

A smile appeared on her face. Then it began to crack and suddenly she began to giggle. “Penises get hard!”

“That they do,” I said with a sigh.

The internet really is convenient. What would I have done without it? Have to teach my own child? Perish the thought.

“And they’re big! At first I was like how does it fit but then I read that the vagina stretches!”

Maybe the internet isn’t so great. My daughter has learned that dicks get hard and they’re big. Super.

“Anything else?” I asked, desperate for another topic.

Laska blinked and looked down. “When you said ‘urges’ you meant ‘sex drive,’ right?”

“Yeah.”

“Is-is it true I’ll have a ‘big sex drive’?”

That was the most difficult thing she’d asked me all day. I knew almost all monster girls were horny. And that’s what my daughter was. It was inevitable that she’d be the same way. Compared to earlier, how she’d just been terribly embarrassing, I could only feel something akin to loss. I think I understood then what I was afraid of. She was going to grow up, find a boy she fancied, and break my heart. And the only thing I could do would be to smile and wish her well.

Looking at the adorable little scamp seated next to me, I knew it was only a matter of time. But, was it inevitable? With a sigh I pat Laska’s head and scratched her ears.

“Maybe, maybe not. Everyone’s different.”

“Dad,” Laska said, growing quiet.

“What’s up?”

“Does sex feel good?”

“Why do you ask?” I asked, by that point mostly immune to the effects of whatever else she could say.

It was just part of the larger question that I’d been asking myself. I hadn’t exactly come to accept or make peace with it, but for the first time I was made to think about it beyond a fleeting moment.

“It said that I can’t get es-tee-eyes from boys, and because I can control my eggs, it means I can have as much sex as I want. But if it’s not to make a baby, why would I have it?”

In some ways she was younger, more innocent than her years and in others far above them. I don’t think many others kids her age would make that kind of connection.

I leaned back on the couch and folded my hands in my lap. I had two choices. A lie or the truth. If I lied would she remain innocent forever? If I told the truth would she suddenly want to run out and find a boy to have sex with? The answer to both: No.

“Listen, Laska.”

She sat up at attention, focusing her ears and eyes on me.

“You know how you have fun with Zoe because you like being around her?”

“Yeah?”

“And you know how hugs make you feel warm?”

“Yeah!”

“And how you feel happy when I tell you how much I love you?”

She nodded her head, struggling to keep a grin off her face. Nice that I was right in thinking it made her happy.

I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. “Sex is like all those things put together,” I said, ending with a massive exhale.

“Wow…” Laska said quietly.

“But,” I added before she could say anything, “it can hurt just as much if you’re not careful.”

Laska’s awe faded. “Really?”

“Really.”

Laska didn’t say anything else, instead she just looked down and occasionally glanced at me. A little blush appeared on her cheeks, but I couldn’t tell what she was thinking about. I liked to think it was the same thing I was – about when she finally finds someone she loves and trusts enough. Though, as much as it tore at my heart, I knew most monstergirls were all about the body count. Advantageous when you’re a single guy out and about, but the worst thing ever when you’re a father. Then again, maybe most fathers born and raised in this area didn’t think twice about it. Seemed that even though I left behind my rural town years ago, I couldn’t quite shake the upbringing.

“So,” Laska began, holding her tail in her paws and idly kicking her legs. “Being a woman means getting breasts and having sex?”

When she put it like that, I realized I’d gone about this all the wrong way. In the long run, I think it was good that we had this talk when we did, but I could’ve saved myself the torment a little longer.

“Nah,” I said, giving her another pat.

“But I thought that’s what you were trying to tell me?”

“Yeah, I was kind of wrong. Being a woman means being confident and secure in who you are, what you are. Being responsible and doing the right thing,” I said, poking her chest right over her heart. “There are a lot of 20-something ‘women’ who are still girls,” I said with a chuckle. “Believe me. Them having boobs and a big butt like Lydia doesn’t make them women.”

“Does that mean I can be a girl forever?” Laska asked, the tip of her tail wiggling energetically in her grasp.

“Maybe? I guess in a lot of ways I’m still a boy,” I said while scratching my jaw.

Today had proven that, I thought ruefully.

Laska smirked and let go of her tail, which immediately whipped around and began to swish. “That’s what Lydia said! She said you’re the type that needs a woman to make you a man.”

Apparently their little girl chatter had gone far deeper than I thought. I made a note to myself to avoid leaving Laska and Lydia together alone. But, maybe, just maybe Lydia was right.

“Will I know when I’m a woman?” Laska asked, her smirk vanishing. “I like being me. I don’t want to change.”

“You like being you?” I asked, suddenly very curious. It wasn’t long ago she cried into my chest about how much she hated herself.

“I think so,” she said, looking rather perplexed by her own statement.

I thought about telling her, but I decided to let her figure it out on her own. She was changing and didn’t even know it.

December 18th, 2007

The first thing I became aware of was a small, fluffy paw pulling away from my shoulder. Second was a pair of eyes gleaming in the dark.

“What’s up, honey?” I asked groggily, struggling to open at least one eye fully.

“I-I had an accident…”

Hearing ‘accident’ jolted the creaky gears in my mind. A quick glance at the alarm clock showed that it was just going on two in the morning.

“Accident?” I repeated, forcing myself to sit up and fumble for the lamp on my nightstand.

I tried to imagine what happened to brace myself, but nothing quite made sense. I doubted she’d have wet the bed, so maybe she broke something in the bathroom. No, that didn’t quite work either.

“Yeah…” she nodded, wincing slightly from the bright light.

As my eyes adjusted to the sudden light, I noticed her cheeks were bright red.

“What kind of accident?” I asked, growing concerned.

She looked okay, no injuries. Just standing there in her pajamas and holding her stuffed fish. No, wait – her bottom was missing. She just had her oversized shirt on. With all that’d been going on not even two weeks ago, my mind was quick to reach an answer.

“…Bleeding,” she said quietly, covering her face with her fish.

It was so very convenient. Lydia’s words had probably cursed me, or maybe it’d be better to say she cursed poor Laska. Figures she’d talk about that sort of thing and then suddenly, two weeks later, it happens. Wicked wolf witch.

“From down there?” I asked, throwing off my sheets and swinging my legs over the side of the bed.

Laska nodded.

Surprisingly, rather than get all flustered and red like my daughter was, I was remarkably focused on getting her taken care of. Either it was because I was extremely tired from having been woke up so early, or I really had just gotten used to the idea of her having feminine needs. Though the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was probably the former.

“What got dirty?”

“M-my pants, and underwear, and sheets…”

Yup, I thought with a sigh.

“Alright, sweetie. Why don’t you clean yourself up in the shower and I’ll take care of your clothes and sheets for you, okay?”

She nodded again, her cheeks still burning brightly. But she didn’t move, instead just looked at me as I got up.

For once I had what might be called a natural fatherly reaction or instinct. I knelt down and gave her a hug and stroked her hair – I could just feel the tension in her.

“It’s alright Laska, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens to all girls, remember?”

“B-but I don’t want to grow up…”

“Still thinking about that, huh? Don’t worry – you’re still you. I promise,” I said with the best smile I could pull off given the circumstances. “If you weren’t, would you still be carrying around your fish?”

“I dunno…”

“Well, trust me on this one, okay? It doesn’t matter what happens or how old you get, you’ll always be my Laska.”

“Really?”

“Really. Now come on, go get washed up and then we’ll head to the drug store to pick you up something for the rest of the night.”

“Okay,” she said, again waiting for me.

With a sigh I went out first, Laska following along so close as to always make sure she was just barely touching me. I guess it was too much to think a few words would calm her, but at least it was a step in the right direction. That was one advantage to being a guy – no random bleeding. Even if a girl like her is expecting it, it still must be awfully disconcerting the first time it happens. Especially if you wake up in the middle of the night and there’s blood all in your clothes and sheets.

I handed Laska a change of clothes and walked her to the bathroom. “Get any, uh, blood off your legs and… wherever else,” I said, finding myself increasingly skittish as I woke up. Or just skittish when thinking about those parts of my daughter.

I felt odd telling her exactly what to do like she was six again, but as scared or worried as she was she seemed to need to be told precisely what to do. She wanted me to pop into the shower with her, but I had to decline – taking a bath together every now and then was still fine, but helping her clean… there was probably crossing the line.

Sure enough her underwear and pants were spotted through and there were a few smudges on her sheets. Threw everything in the wash, then got dressed for the bare minimum required to go to a store and waited for Laska to get out.

I hoped there was a female pharmacist or something on duty, because I sure as hell didn’t want to have to explain – or goddesses help me – show her how to use one of those pads or a tampon.

Finally Laska got out of the shower, still bright red as ever.

“I-it keeps…”

“I know, sweetie. Just, uh, stuff some toilet paper down there for now, I guess? We’ll get you something proper at the store.”

“Okay…” she said, tottering back into the bathroom.

“By the way,” I said, just before she closed the door. “Since your sheets are in the wash, you can sleep with me the rest of the night.”

It was sort of an obvious thing – I mean, I wasn’t going to put her on the couch. But, seeing as how I hadn’t let her sleep with me in quite a while I figured simply saying it would brighten her mood. And sure enough, for the first time since she woke me up I saw a little smile on her face just before she closed the door.

Almost wanted to tell her through the door ‘See Laska, you’re still the same,’ but I think she already realized that along with her smile.

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