It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice
It’s my thirty-fifth night behind the register.
“...*cough* *cough* *hack*...”
My head is throbbing, and I’m wheezing. I can’t stop coughing, either. I had a bit of a cold before I left for work, but it’s gotten so much worse.
I figured I’d be fine to head in today, since I’ve got tomorrow off. I just have to get through this shift, then I can take it easy.
Except that it’s only 2 AM, and I already feel like I’m about to drop dead.
Please, please, today, of all days, may we not get any oddballs. Ugh, maybe I really should have just called in sick...
“Welcome, irassha-ah-atchoo...! *sniff*...”
My chest hurts from coughing so much. I squint, trying to make out the blurry figure who’s just walked in. She’s wearing a white uniform and a pair of round glasses, her black hair tied back in a neat bun.
“...Well, you don’t look so good.”
I’m gripping the counter with both hands, struggling to keep myself upright. The customer leans in, gently pressing the back of her hand against my forehead.
“You’ve got a fever, too. You really ought to take the day off and rest up.”
“I know, but... *huff* *huff* I have tomorrow off, I’ll manage somehow...”
“I’d say you’re much worse off than you think. You’re not doing yourself any favors by trying to work in that condition.”
The woman in white turns back towards the automatic doors.
“You’re worried about him too, aren’t you? Would you mind lending a hand?”
Of course, Ayame is standing in the entrance, watching over the proceedings. I hadn’t noticed until she turned around, but the concerned customer is also carrying a massive backpack. She sets it down on the floor with an audible thud, then proceeds to pull out a fluffy while pillow.
Digging around even deeper in her bag, she slowly drags out a single-size futon.
“Could you help bring the patient over to the mattress while I get everything set up?”
Did that woman really say “set up”? ...Really? A futon? In a convenience store?
Ayame hurries over to the register, taking care not to step on the mattress that’s been laid out in front of the counter. I wobble, and she wraps an arm around my waist, helping to keep me steady.
“...I’m sorry you had to see me like this.”
“Oh, that’s nothing. It’s only natural that I’d want to help my boyfriend when he’s not feeling well. Come on, you can lean on me if you have to.”
“...Oooh, but maybe that’s a little t-too close...”
I’m near enough that I can hear her nervous stuttering. Ah, she’s adorable.
“Heh. ...Ha ha... *snerk* Ahaha....”
“...Haru, are you alright?! Speak to me! ...Hey! This isn’t any time to be laughing, you know! Should we take you to the hospital instead?!”
“That would be the fever’s fault. Well, at this hour, it would be quicker for me to treat him than it would be to drag him anywhere else.”
With that decisive statement, the woman in white puts on a pair of black gloves — also from the backpack.
“...You can? Are you a nurse or something?”
“Yes, that’s right. To start, we’ll lay him down and check his temperature.”
She whips out a thermometer from her bag of tricks, then promptly starts to undo the buttons on my shirt.
“Wha-...! Just what do you think you’re doing?! You’re e-exposing him!”
Ayame grabs the other woman’s arm, tugging it away from my shirt.
“How else am I supposed to get the thermometer under his armpit? Besides, an invalid’s emaciated body isn’t anything to get excited about. If you’d seen half as many naked men as I have, you’d understand.”
Well, excuse me for being disappointingly scrawny. When I lift up my hand to try see how bad the fever is for myself...
“See! Haru’s reaching out to me in a desperate cry for help!”
“Fine, I’ll check the other side. Go on, take his hand. The poor boy must be watching his life flash before his eyes.”
...Uh, no. I was just trying to check my own temperature. But I can’t get the words out.
“His mouth is moving! He’s trying to tell us something!”
“Mm, probably some words of comfort for the loved ones that he’s about to leave behind.”
“Oh, Haru... I love you too.”
As happy as I am to hear that, I’m really NOT on my deathbed! And I get the feeling this mysterious nurse knows that all too well.
Don’t you toy with Ayame’s sympathies, you harpy.
“Hm... 101.3. That’s quite a high fever.”
Her crisp proclamation has Ayame’s hands fly up to her face in shock.
“Then he really IS dying. Please, if there’s anything I can do to help, just tell me. Anything at all!”
“Well, in that case... Why don’t you use this towel to wipe the sweat off this skinny rake of a man?”
...Anything but that.
“I’m sure his physique is perfect. Even if I’ve never actually seen it myself.”
Ayame kneels down beside the thin mattress and sets to work. Which, of course, only makes me feel even more uncomfortable.
Is this real? What’s even happening to me right now? Okay. Time to think through this logically. Um... Right. I wasn’t feeling well, this woman dressed in white appeared out of nowhere, noticed that I wasn’t feeling well, called Ayame in, set up an entire bed... Which I’m now lying in, half-naked, being wiped down by my girlfriend.
Has anyone else ever found themselves in this particular situation? Anyone at all? Because there’s a LOT that I’d like to compare notes on right about now.
Ayame shyly dabs at my forehead with the towel, soaking up the sweat.
Awkward though this may be...if I died today, I’d be a happy man.
Seriously, though, who’s ever heard of anyone getting bundled up in the middle of their shift and nursed back to health?
Then again, being pampered like this makes my worst memories of this job just drift away. I could write a whole book on how wonderful it is to have someone who cares enough to devote themselves to your well-being.
“There, there. I love you, too.”
...She can’t hear me, can she? Still, having anything I try to say get answered with “I love you” is pure bliss.
“Much better. So, while you were busy wiping him down, I warmed up some rice porridge in the microwave. Here, go ahead and shovel it down that filthy mouth of his.”
“It’s not filthy. It’s lovely.”
The no-nonsense nurse jabs a spoon into the rice porridge, passing it to my increasingly flustered-looking girlfriend.
“He has to eat it, even if he doesn’t want to. Otherwise his fever won’t go down. Here, I’ll hold him up for you.”
She smacks me on the back, and I jerk upright, sitting eye-level with Ayame and the spoon.
“Um... Okay, Haru. Open wide...”
Wait, hold on a second. Why does this suddenly feel like a retirement home? ...This is mortifying.
I open my mouth as wide as I can, and she slips in a spoonful of the porridge.
“There! Look at all that munching and slobbering. It’s disgusting.”
Or so says the voice behind me.
It doesn’t seem to bother Ayame, though, who chuckles softly.
“Oh, Haru. I think you eat like an angel.”
I take it back. I could spend the rest of my days like this...
“Well done, you’ve gotten him to polish it off. Right, all that’s left is for him to down this super potent remedy of my own devising.”
With a cheerful grin, the woman in white holds up a round, black pill. It reeks.
Yeah, there’s no way anything that nasty is actually going to work. I’ll bet it tastes awful, too.
“Once you take this, you’ll be right as rain. And you want to hurry up and get better, don’t you?”
I mean, it smells like...cheese, pineapple and natto all mixed together. So...what? It’s so horrible that it just shocks you into health?
“Right. Down the hatch with it.”
“Here, Haru. This will make you all better. Go on, say ‘aaah’...”
With Ayame asking, I don’t even think twice about it — I just open my mouth.
And that’s the last thing I remember.
When I come to, the first thing I see is her smiling in relief.
Wait, I can talk again?!
“Oh, thank goodness... You’re not as pale anymore, either.”
Still smiling, Ayame looks over at the woman in the white uniform, who’s over in the nearby seating area, sipping on a cup of coffee.
“Thank you for helping Haru.”
Ayame offers her appreciation with a proper bow, which the nurse waves off with a serene smile.
“It’s nothing. After all, it’s what I do for a living.”
When she spots me sitting up, feeling completely fine, she gives me a wink.
“If you get sick again, just call for Nurse Nightingale.”
“Thank you very much.”
I glance over at the clock. It’s only 3:30 AM.
You’re kidding me. It’s only been an hour and a half since I started my shift, and I’m already back to normal?
What was IN that medicine?
“Anyways, sometimes the best cure is just love and care from someone who thinks the world of you.”
She bundles up her futon and pillow, since I don’t need them anymore, and stuffs them back into her backpack. Shouldering the bulging burden, she turns and starts to head towards the exit.
“Well, I said I’d come when you call, but try not to run your health so far into the ground that you actually need me, okay?”
Without looking back, she waves and is out the door.