Chapter 0:

Chapter 0

Yuri next door

Though Kirin was focused on her work, when she heard a loud thump coming from the next-door apartment, she raised her head right away.Bookmark here

“No, mommy!” a child screamed.Bookmark here

That was Rei-chan, she thought, putting the papers she had been grading down at once and standing up. She headed to the entrance but before she could reach the front door, someone banged on it.Bookmark here

Though the person on the other side seemed to be hitting as hard as they could, the noise was low, as if made by tiny first that barely had any weight. Even so, Kirin could tell the kid on the other side was desperate.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong, Rei-chan?” she asked the moment she saw the little girl no more than ten years old in tears.Bookmark here

“Mommy was about to leave for work and then she fell down” Rei shouted. “She’s not answering!”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Rei-chan. Everything’s gonna be okay,” Kirin said, trying to sound as reassuring as she could. “Let’s go see your mommy.”Bookmark here

Still crying, the girl cleaned her tears as best as she could and grabbed the teacher’s hand, half leading, half pulling her to the next-door apartment.Bookmark here

Her mother was lying on the floor, with the face red and her breath shallow and rapid. She’s burning up, Kirin realized when she put her hand on Mari’s forehead. Then she noticed her clothes. A short red dress with a lot of cleavage. This idiot is sick and was still planning to go to work.Bookmark here

“It’s okay, Rei-chan. Your mommy is just a little sick. If she rests, she’ll be fine. So don’t cry, okay?” she said in a kind voice.Bookmark here

The little girl nodded and did her best to hold down the tears threatening to fall again.Bookmark here

Though she was a PE teacher and had a lot of confidence in her strength, she had trouble carrying Mari. She’s heavier than she looks. Better not tell her that or she’ll be mad, Kirin thought, holding back a smile. Then again, she’s cute when she’s pouting.Bookmark here

Mari opened her eyes and mumbled something unintelligible, but then closed her eyes and was soon out.Bookmark here

Rei opened the door to the only bedroom and raced to get the futon ready. Then she stepped out of the way as Kirin gently put her mother down.Bookmark here

“Rei-chan, do you have any cold medicine?” she asked with a gentle voice.Bookmark here

The girl nodded and raced to get it.Bookmark here

“What… happened…?”Bookmark here

“Mari, good. You’re awake. You’re burning up with a fever,” Kirin said, looking her in the eyes. “But I’m here now and everything’s gonna be okay.”Bookmark here

She seemed confused, as if understanding that took a lot more than she had at the moment. Then she closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to get up. “I need… to go… to work… some of the girls… are sick today…”Bookmark here

“And you’re one of them. You can’t go,” Kirin placed both hands on her shoulder and pushed the woman back.Bookmark here

“But I—”Bookmark here

“No. I won’t allow it.”Bookmark here

Mari showed a smile despite her pained face. “I like… a strong woman…but you shouldn’t… talk like that… with a sick woman…”Bookmark here

“If she doesn’t listen to me, I will.”Bookmark here

Mari let out a chuckle that turned into a cough. “Then, could you… call the club… for me? The number is… in my phone,” she said and then rested her head on the pillow, her eyes closed again.Bookmark here

Because some of the girls from the club got sick this week, she worked herself to exhaustion, Kirin covered Mari with the blanket and opened the small purse that matched the red dress.Bookmark here

“Hello. Is this from the hostess club?”Bookmark here

“Yes,” answered a slightly panting voice.Bookmark here

“I’m calling on behalf of Otae,” Kirin said. Why did she pick that stage name? Sounds from the Edo era. “She’s too sick to go to work today.”Bookmark here

“What?” the woman on the other side mumbled something that sounded ‘not her too’. “Thanks for calling. Tell her to take care of herself.”Bookmark here

Then the call ended.Bookmark here

Guess they were really understaffed today. Better not tell that to Mari. She’ll definitely feel guilty about missing work.Bookmark here

“Here the medicine, onee-chan,” Rei said, carrying so many boxes she had trouble balancing everything with her small arms.Bookmark here

Kirin smiled and picked up the ones for cold. “Thanks, Rei-chan. For now, your mommy needs only theses, so please put the rest back, okay?”Bookmark here

As the little girl hurried to the bathroom to put the rest of the medicine back, Kirin picked up a glass of water and returned to the bedroom.Bookmark here

“Here. Take this,” she said, putting a hand under Mari’s head and lifting her gently so she could take the medicine.Bookmark here

Mari looked at it and winced.Bookmark here

“What?” Kari askedBookmark here

“They taste bad,” she mumbled, her cheeks red and not because of the fever.Bookmark here

Kari couldn’t help but snort. “Are you a child?”Bookmark here

“It has nothing to do with it.”Bookmark here

“You’re the one who bought it, weren’t you?”Bookmark here

“It was my mom. If it were me, I would’ve bought the tasty ones.”Bookmark here

“You’re a child,” Kirin said with a sigh. “But it doesn’t matter. Take it.”Bookmark here

After some insistency, Mari took the medicine. She winced as if she had taken something extremely bitter and put her tongue out.Bookmark here

“So bad…”Bookmark here

“The taste doesn’t matter. What’s important is that will make you better.”Bookmark here

Mari chuckled lightly. “We agree to disagree.”Bookmark here

Kirin blushed and looked away. “Idiot…”Bookmark here

“Can I ask one more favor? Can you get a change of clothes for Rei and her schoolbooks? My mom is coming to watch her while I work, but I mom to take her for tonight. I don’t want her getting sick too.”Bookmark here

“I can take care of her, Mari.”Bookmark here

“I know that, but I can’t ask more of you. I know you have to finish grading those tests.”Bookmark here

“How did you know that? I don’t remember telling you.”Bookmark here

“I heard you talking the other day. These thin walls can be a pain sometimes,” she said, smiling.Bookmark here

Kirin opened her mouth to say something but then gave up. “Fine. But you need to promise you’ll rest.”Bookmark here

“Yes, ma’am,” Mari said, almost singing.Bookmark here

A few seconds later, the sick woman as sleeping.Bookmark here

She can be a pain… but then she shows this cute side, Kirin thought, patting her on the head. Get better soon.Bookmark here

Twenty minutes later, Mari’s mom was at the door.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for the trouble my daughter is always causing you,” she said, bowing after Kirin explained the situation.Bookmark here

“Not at all,” Kirin said, smiling and waving her hands. “She helps me a lot.”Bookmark here

“Is mommy gonna be alright?” Rei asked after she had organized her belongings in a cute pink bag.Bookmark here

“She will. I promise I’ll take care of her,” Kirin said, kneeling to be on the same height as the little girl. She flashed a reassuring smile and held her pinky. “I promise.”Bookmark here

Rei cleaned her tears and wrapped her tiny hand around the teacher’s pinky.Bookmark here

After grandma and granddaughter left, Kirin stood on the entrance.Bookmark here

What do I do now?Bookmark here

It was true she had to correct the last few papers. Though she wasn’t behind on the schedule, the principal was complaining. But I can’t leave Mari alone tonightBookmark here

After some struggling, the teacher found the perfect solution.Bookmark here

Mari woke a few hours later. Her complex looked better and her fever had gone down. Without raising her head, she looked around.Bookmark here

“Hey, Kirin-chan… I always love seeing your face the first thing when I wake up,” she said, beaming.Bookmark here

Kirin blushed slightly. “Me too,” she mumbled, embarrassed.Bookmark here

“So don’t take this the wrong way. Why are you still here?”Bookmark here

“There’s no way I could leave you alone… Not when you were like that…”Bookmark here

“But what about your work?” she asked, not hiding her concern.Bookmark here

Even like this, she worries about things like that. Kirin blushed and averted her eyes.Bookmark here

“I can grade papers anywhere,” she said, raising the pile of papers on her hand.Bookmark here

Mari looked puzzled. Then she beamed. “I’m so lucky to have such a great girlfriend.”Bookmark here

With those words, Kirin became an alarming shade of red. Despite her embarrassment, she offered her right hand. Mari looked at it and showed a puzzled expression.Bookmark here

“I can grade papers with only one hand,” she mumbled.Bookmark here

Mari beamed again and reached out to grab the teacher’s hand. They were only holding hands, but her expression was as if that was enough to make her the happiest woman in the world.Bookmark here

Damn… my girlfriend is too cute, Kirin thought, blushing even more as she held those delicate fingers. I’m the lucky oneBookmark here

Despite her embarrassment, she didn’t do anything to stop the smile on her lips.


This is the original story I posted on Royal Road in another profile.
I rewrote a bit, but the story starts with chapter 1Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.