Chota set down the last box in Shin and Noi's new kitchen. He'd been helping Noi move her things into the newly-remodeled wing of the En mansion for the past day, and it had been a surprisingly demanding task. Breathing a sigh of relief as he wiped his brow with the back of his hand, Chota considered how similar Noi was to her cousin, in that she liked keepsakes and memorabilia a little too much.
"Well, looks like it's all moved! Just gotta unpack and sort now!" Chota smiled over at Noi, and decided to keep his musings to himself.
Noi poked her head up from behind the weight bench she was putting together and grinned back at Chota. "Thanks, Dad!"
Chota was about to ask about where he should start on unpacking when he registered what she'd said. "What are... What?!! Noi! I'm not that old, thank you very much!" He felt so flustered, he almost wished he'd still had his mask on, but it had been hot, and he'd left it by the door earlier in the day.
Noi cocked her head, plainly proud of herself for getting a rise out of Chota, while the bouncy, silver wisps that had escaped her bun fluttered in lively fashion around her head. "I mean, you ARE the partner of my cousin... (who thinks he's my dad)." Her grin grew wider as she awaited his reaction.
Chota struck an incredulous pose, arms crossed, hip popped to the side. He wagged a finger at Noi while he admonished her. "That hardly qualifies me for that title. You know, I'd be perfectly happy if you just keep calling me by my name." He sighed, exasperated with this unexpected turn of events.
Noi had picked up a hefty dumbbell while Chota talked, and she curled it absently as she replied. "Well, you're fucking him too, that seems like a perfectly qualifying point to me." She cast a sly side-eye at Chota.
Chota felt incredulity well up inside his chest, but Noi wasn't wrong. Though he hadn't ever thought of it that way; he very well could be considered her surrogate father, along with En, given their relationship. But to have it called out so suddenly, and so casually... Chota wanted to take it in stride, but Noi was standing there, feigning innocence, and acting smug, and he just couldn't let it go.
Shifting his hip and propping a hand on it, he gestured toward her, pointer finger extended still, "That's absolutely not something a young lady like yourself should be making casual reference to! Honestly, En would be appalled at your lack of propriety..." He knew she was teasing, and he wanted to play along, but his brain was still struggling to overcome his shock.
"You know I don't give a fuck what En thinks about me." Dropping the weight carelessly, she jumped over a few boxes, and stopped right in front of Chota. "Let's fight over it!" She announced with a huge smile, both hands planted on her wide hips.
Chota rarely felt physically intimidated by anyone, as he, himself, cut a rather formidable figure, but Noi was even larger than he was. "Is that really necessary? We can just discuss..."
Noi was already grabbing his arm, and enthusiastically twisting so that his muscle had to bunch reflexively. "C'mon, just a little fight! It'll be fun... Dad..."
Her shit-eating expression annoyed Chota just enough, and he managed to maneuver out of Noi's grasp before turning her own technique back on her, pinning both her arms against her chest. It was frustrating how much effort he had to expend just to perform that simple move on Noi, and he could tell she wasn't even giving it her all.
"Is that all you've got, old man?!" Noi cackled. She easily broke his grip and struck a fighting stance in the midst of the boxes.
Just then, the door to the apartment opened with a crash and Shin came blustering in with a stack of boxes he could barely see over. As he was pilling the boxes unceremoniously in the entryway, he caught sight of Noi and Chota watching him from the middle of the room. "The fuck are you two doing standing around?" He grumbled.
En strolled in directly behind Shin with empty arms. "I trust you are all getting comfortable in your new apartment?" He stated, blatantly ignoring Shin's movers' fatigue, and the odd scene of Noi attempting to face off with Chota.
"En! Please tell Noi she's being too aggressive!" Chota cried, casting a desperate look in his partner's direction while he kept one eye on his over-eager, would-be opponent.
En raised a brow at the two of them, clearly disinterested in being involved with their feud. "You two should be able to resolve your problems on your own. Although, I would like to take a photo to document your first day in this apartment, so please don't do any damage."
"En, she's calling me Dad! Do you really want that?" A last ditch effort to get En on his side.
Shin comically whipped his head back and forth between En and the other two with their dukes up in the middle of the kitchen.
En's eyes narrowed, honing in on Noi. "Chota isn't your father, there's no need to be hassling him with that responsibility."
Noi ignored En and addressed Chota instead. "Let's just fight a little! I promise if you fight with me I won't call you Dad anymore..."
Chota turned pleading eyes back to En before answering.
"Well, there you have it, you two better get this over with, I don't have much time to spare." En commented, checking his phone matter-of-factly.
Chota groaned in frustration, "That's not fair! These muscles are just for show!! Tell her, En!"
En glanced up from his phone, his face the picture of calm. "I don't recall that being the case last night..."
Chota's eyes flew wide as he sucked in a surprised gasp. Shin was stifling a snort by the door while Noi raised a feathered eyebrow at him.
"Sooooo..." Noi smiled slowly, her eyes shifting eagerly back and forth between En and a deeply-flushed Chota.
En waved a hand at Noi and Chota with the obvious intent being encouraging them to get on with it. "I'll make tea. Don't take too long. Shin! Which box has the tea?"
Shin strolled past Noi and Chota, grinning conspiratorially at Noi, and flashing his teeth at Chota. He started rummaging in the boxes while Chota and Noi eyed each other.
"Oh, Noi." En had left Shin to handle the work of putting water on for tea while he walked back to the two combatants. "Be sure you patch him up carefully when you're done." En made his way back to Chota's side and looked him up and down, "I won't forgive you if I find he's been damaged."
Chota couldn't help a little squeak as En pinched his ass, before circling him, and returning to the kitchen.
Noi thumbed her nose in En's general direction, then focused on Chota again, "Well, then! Shall we? Dad..."
Chota had to admit, the title was beginning to grow on him.