Chapter 21:

Almost The Next Autumn

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

[9 Months Later]


Sesame wagged his tail as he stared at me from the ground. It was already closing time for the café, and Lily walked out to let the remaining customers know.

Ah, his plate is empty.

I picked it up to scoop up some catnip. I also poured some water into the container of Sesame’s water fountain. He purred in response and rubbed his cheeks against my ankle as thanks.

“No worries fella,” I responded.

I glanced at the calendar, which hung off the wall in the storage room. It was soon almost September, and thus almost a year since my new life had begun; a life with a small thirty million don debt sitting on my shoulders.

“Hey Kai, are you coming today to volunteer again?” Lily asked while returning behind the counter to help me clean. “I think Charles’ shift is tomorrow, right?”


Because Lora and Julian returned to their home country to run a new shop, I had to hire someone new to cover some of the shifts whenever Lily wasn’t here. His name was Charles, and he was also a student at Febai College. Today, however, it was just Lily and I running the café.

“D-Don’t you want to visit your father sometime? Have you visited him at all ever since he got jailed?”

“Yeah, you’re right…” I replied while placing the dishes on the drying rack. “I’ll stop by the police station tomorrow.”

“Hey!” Lily glared at me with her hands against her waist. “You’re saying the same thing as yesterday! Why do you keep pushing it off? I’m assuming you haven’t visited him a single time this entire past year?”

“Well, I’ve been too busy, you know? Since I’ve been put in as a manager for this café now,” I explained while wiping down the espresso machine. “I’ve also been helping your dad rebuild his soccer academy.”

“Yeah, Yeah, I know. But what are you going to do with that thirty million debt? Don’t you have only two years left to pay it off somehow?”

“Yeah, I still have to figure that out, huh,” I grinned, causing Lily to sigh. Whenever Lily brought the issue up, I always dodged or laughed it off.

I picked Sesame up, looking at his confused face while sighing. “Meow!”

Even you’re telling me to just go, huh… I thought. Perhaps it was finally time. I placed Sesame gently on the counter, took a deep breath, and glanced at my phone, noticing the time.

“Well, the police station closes in an hour, so I guess I should hurry.”

Lily dropped the mop she was holding, letting it slam on the wooden floor.

“Wait, you’re going?!”

If she was holding a drink, she probably would’ve dropped it from shock as well.

“Yeah. Mind finishing up with the store? I’ll be back here to close things up later.”


Ring ring!

Lily’s coat pocket vibrated, and she reached in to grab her phone: “Hey Gio, what’s up? Why the sudden call?”

Before I could even finish zipping my bag up -


Lily screamed so loud that Sesame leaped into the air like a dolphin, and the windows to the shop almost shattered in response.

“J-Jeez, why are you so loud-”

“It’s that bad?! W-Why didn’t you tell any of us?!” Lily continued without quieting down.

What is she talking about?!

After Lily hopped off the call, she frowned and looked at me with eyes of worry.

“One of Gio’s doctor friends has a patient which we’ve been helping rehabilitate due to her lack of exercise. Her name is Mila,” she explained, holding her chest to calm herself down. “Her… her kidneys have been suffering from end stage renal disease for a while, and she’s been on dialysis at Febai Hospital for years.”


“She’s apparently on her last lifeline…”

“Why didn’t you tell me about her?!”

“Because I knew it’d just cause trouble if I mentioned her name to you!”

“C’mon!” I flung my bag on my back and darted out the door. “I’ll lock the store later. We must hurry to the hospital!”


Once Lily and I stepped out of the café, I hollered for a taxi on the side of the road. Traffic was heavy as usual on every highway in Febai City, but our driver managed to snake around crowds of vehicles, causing Lily and I to hang on to the roof handles in the back of the car. We prayed that our seatbelts were strong enough to keep us alive.

“Sir, you can drop us off here instead!”

We hopped out of the car earlier than planned, deciding it was for the best. The rest of the hospital complex was walkable.

“Phew, that driver was nuts…” I grasped my knees, letting my heart thump away until it finally slowed down.

“I thought I was going to die,” Lily added, catching her breath alongside me. “Anyways, we’re here, so let’s get inside. Gio gave me her room number.”

I followed Lily up a hefty flight of stairs past various fountains and gardens. Crowds of flowers, particularly lilies and lavenders, decorated the outlines across every patch of grass between each staircase that led to the front entrance. Additionally, akin to the round water fountain back at Febai Park, more were found here in every direction I looked; it was almost like a flower park rather than a hospital.

Right before taking the final step of the stairwell, Lily halted and turned back at me.

“Kai, are you sure Mila will even let you visit her?”

She’s right…

There’s no way she probably would, after what had happened in our past.


“I don’t care,” I answered, causing Lily to raise her eyebrows. “She doesn’t have long to live, right? I need to talk to her.”


Approaching the front doors, Lily and I took a moment to admire the view behind us: Febai Hospital was situated on a hill, so the view of downtown and its various roads looked like a miniature city. Only during the summer did the country truly look appealing, since the winter was always filled with gray skies up top and potholes down below.

We then entered and greeted an employee at the front counter, asking to see Mila since we already had her room number. When the employee asked what our relationship was with her, we had to fib - telling them we were friends.

“This way,” the employee pointed down a hall at an elevator. “Go up to the third floor, and then make a left. Please hurry, visiting hours will be over soon.”

“Okay, thank you,” we replied, and headed down.

The closer we approached her room, the more my heart jumped out of my chest. I couldn’t stop gulping either, praying I would be allowed in. Soon, my eyes caught someone familiar, sitting at a bench just across from Mila’s door: her mother.

Shit… I thought. I’m about to be slapped in the face, aren’t I…

“Um, hi, we’re Lily’s friends,” Lily greeted her while I whimpered from behind. All I could do was shove my hands into my pockets and look down, hoping for the best.

“You…!” Her mother caught sight of me behind Lily and stomped over with flaming eyes. “How dare you show your face here!”

“Mother, who is it?” asked Mila from within the room.

“Don’t worry about it, sweetie,” her mother replied, turning her head with a smile at her door. She then glanced back at me and returned her frown. “You best get out of here.”

“Mother!” Mila yelled again. “Is… is that who I think it is?”

“Sweetie, like I said, don’t worry-”

“Wait,” Mila interrupted, raising her voice over her mother’s despite the door between them. “It’s okay. Let Kai in.”

A drop of sweat fell from her mother’s forehead as she digested her daughter’s request. Honestly, I’d be confused too if I were in her shoes.

“O-Okay, fine.”

She creaked open the door for us, allowing Lily and I to walk in. Of course, an endless glare pierced me from behind, but I did my best to ignore it. Mila’s room was just like the other hospital rooms: a large hospital bed for her to rest in, while a large window covered the far wall.

“Mila! A-Are you alright?” Lily hugged her while she was tucked away in bed.

“I’m doing okay. I must be on dialysis three times a week, but I’ve gotten used to it.”

The two hit it off immediately, laughing and gossiping away. I paced over and sunk into a chair next to the windowsill across from the door. After all, it was the furthest place away from her bed, and I didn’t want to scare her after what she’s gone through with me. While their conversation never lost its energy, Lily constantly glanced at me while I made sure to only face out the window. I probably looked like a lost puppy: all I did was sit there with my legs crossed and a hand caressing my cheek, pretending to daydream. And before I knew it -

“I’m going to go get a drink,” Lily declared.

“Wait!” I turned at her and bounced up from the chair. “Where are you -”


Lily barged out of the room before I could stop her, leaving just Mila and I together. A few birds flew by the window, chirping out a few tunes before flying away, thus returning the room back to silence.

The air between us was tense and awkward; I couldn’t muster even the slightest of strength to look her in the eye. All Mila did was sit there with her head down, giving me the time I needed to finally say a word.

C’mon, Kai! I thought to myself. You’ve made it this far, say something!

Finally, I bit the bullet.

“T-They say dialysis can l-last you maybe up to twenty or even thirty years, s-so there’s plenty of hope.”

Mila finally glanced up at me, and I bit my lips while looking back at her.

“Well, those are rare cases,” Mila grinned. “The doctor told me the average life expectancy is more around five or ten years, and I’m already on year four, you see. I’ve been coming here three times a week, and each session always lasts a whole afternoon.”

I rapidly blinked at her, stunned at her casual reply. It’s as if nothing ever happened between us, or she was suffering from some sort of amnesia.

Why is she so calm and nice around me all of a sudden?! I thought. She had treated me like trash before, and reasonably so.

“That’s true…” was all I could mutter before the room became quiet again.

Shit, I fucked up! Now I gotta say something again, and fast!

“Hey,” Mila broke the silence first this time, startling me. Her back was now straighter while she sat up from the bed, and her entire face looked covered in gloss from the sunlight shining into her room. “Don’t worry about Rin. We managed to make up a few months back.”

“O-Oh, that’s great!” I replied. “Well, it’s been almost a year since we broke up, so that’s all in the past now.”

“H-Have you talked to her?” Mila’s voice became soft.

“Nah, but that’s quite alright. The breakup was rough for sure, but I’ve picked myself back up and became the manager of our café since then.”

“I… I see,” Mila twiddled her thumbs and kept her head down. “I’m sorry about what happened, I know I’m the cause of everything. You even lost that red scarf of yours which I gave you back then… I’m surprised you still wore it.”

“L-Like I said!” I paced over in front of her bed, waving my hands in front of my chest. “You don’t need to be sorry!” A drop of sweat emerged from the side of my head. I had to change the subject. “Anyways, how’s your body? Coming to the hospital thrice a week for hours of dialysis must be exhausting for you.”

“You’re not wrong,” Mila sighed, and stopped her thumbs. “The doctor says if I want any chance to survive longer, I’ll need a kidney transplant. Things look glim with my-”

“Take mine.”

The words jumped out of my mouth without me even realizing it.

“Huh?” Mila glanced up at me from her bed.

“Take my kidney. It’s much better than relying on dialysis for half the week.”

Her eyes began trembling as she processed my suggestion. Soon, tears began flowing down her face, and her cheeks flushed pink.

“I can’t accept that,” Mila answered through her sniffling, and wiped her eyes with a nearby tissue. “B-But thank you, Kai.”

“Wait, why not?!” I leaned over on her bed with my hands now clenched into fists.

“Like I said in the past when we dated… I can’t rely on you all the time.”

“The past is the past! Now, this is a life and death situation we’re talking about here!”

“And that’s fine,” Mila gently smiled through her crying, and blew her nose into another tissue. “But my life has nothing to do with you, Kai. I’ve forgiven you for what you’ve done in the past.”

My fists loosened up. Just hearing those words from her mouth caused my chest to almost bulge from the pumps of my heart.

“You’ve forgiven me?”

My body fell back into the chair. Her words had sucked the strength out of my legs.

“You seem to have changed, Kai,” she produced a beaming smile. “I know you’ve been donating to my fundraiser and helping at Gio’s clinic. That’s how you know so much about dialysis, right?”

I couldn’t speak a word - Mila was right on the money. She noticed my stunned expression, and continued: “I heard from Lily that you’re also trying to build her father’s old soccer academy back up?”

“Y-Yeah…” I replied. “We only have around twenty registrations this season, but slowly, I think Mr. Meyer can restart his business by gaining more students every year. He has a big reputation in the soccer world, after all.”

“That’s great to hear. Better to be productive instead of living large in that mansion of yours,” Mila laughed, and I laughed along with her. “From the way you were back then, I didn’t know if you truly changed or not!”

“Haha, that’s fair,” I looked out the window, noticing the dancing leaves in the air. A few even flew into her room. I twitched in my seat, catching myself from diverting too much on the main topic of concern: “But still, you need a kidney to survive longer! Why not just take mine and-”

“Don’t worry, I already have a donor lined up,” she explained, letting me breathe a sigh of relief.

“Thank goodness,” I directed my head back out the window, watching the sun sink under the mob of city buildings and the beautiful mountain backdrop. “That letter I wrote you… was probably not enough.”

“Hmm?” She tilted her head sideways and lifted an eyebrow. “What letter?”

Wait, did she not receive the letter I sent her all those years ago?

“I sent you a letter during our high school graduation,” I explained, hoping she remembered. “It was an apology letter for everything I did to you.”

“Actually,” Mila’s smile faded away. “I never received it.”

“But then where could it -ouch!” I spun my head back too fast, slamming my head against the wall next to the window. Mila burst into laughter.

“Perhaps that arrogance of yours turned into clumsiness instead, with a tint of kindness,” she winked.

“Ugh…” I held the side of my head, padding the bruise. “But anyways, you said you never received my letter?”

“Yeah, I never got it.”

Even though the letter was my heartfelt attempt at apologizing to her for what I had done, it had been over four years since I sent it to her anyway. Since we finally made up now, perhaps I had nothing else to worry about anymore.

Or at least I thought.