Sickly Sweet

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You woke up an indeterminate amount of time later to Minoru dabbing your face with a cool, damp washcloth. It startled you at first. How long had she been tending to you while you were out cold?

Still, you couldn't resist closing your eyes again and leaning into the touch. It felt so good against your skillet-hot skin. Still, it begged the question...

"Why are you being so nice to me?" It was almost a whimper. You didn't want to risk offending her and losing this... This... Whatever this was. But you had to know.

"Why wouldn't I be?" She asked in return, dodging the question with a smile.

You snorted. Or, rather, you tried to. It was kind of hard with all the mucus. "I've been obnoxious to you since the first day of classes."

Minoru didn't try to deny it like you thought she would. She simply said, "Not any more obnoxious than Kimiko."

But Kimiko's your friend. Unlike me. You thought, pouting. Then your lower lip began to tremble and the floodgates opened up. You normally didn't cry so easily, but the fever was melting your fucking brain.

"Don't cry, cry baby. You've got no reason to cry," she crooned, putting down the washcloth to wipe away your tears. "I'll admit... I was pretty annoyed by you at first. I thought you were after my money or my influence. But that's not true, is it?"

"No," you croaked before biting your lip to hold back a sob.

"No, no... Of course not. You need someone to take care of you."

What?

"What?"

She didn't say anymore, just hummed under her breath and ran her fingers through your hair, despite how sweaty your scalp was. Helpless, you let yourself be lulled by the constant motion and fell back asleep.

...

You spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday sleeping off your sickness. You had no clue what Minoru did while you were dead to the world, but she was always in the room when you woke up.

Sometimes she was fluffing pillows or switching out blankets. Sometimes she was applying hot and cold compresses to different parts of your body. Sometimes she was bringing you Miso soup, which she then proceeded to spoon-feed you.

Sometimes she was sitting on the edge of the bed in the dark, just staring at you. Admittedly, you almost wet yourself in fear the first time she did that.

She tended to you as if you were a rare, fragile flower. You didn't lift a finger, didn't leave her bed except to go to the bathroom. Luckily, her bedroom had its own bathroom attached. She helped you out of bed and even held your hair back when you were throwing up.

On Sunday, Minoru ran you a bath with orange essential oils. Her bathroom featured one of those rich-people tubs that was practically a jacuzzi. It was one of the best experiences of your short life.

Still, all good things must come to an end.

"I have to go home," you told her Sunday night, pushing off the mountain of covers keeping you pinned to the bed. Minoru rushed to your side as if you were about to barf again.

"No, no, you don't. Now stay in bed." Minoru piled blankets on top of you as quickly as you could shake them off.

"I feel much better!" And you actually did. Your nose was only a little stuffy, your throat a bit sore. Your pain, nausea, and fatigue were a thing of the past. "We have school tomorrow and I want to go."

You had to go. You couldn't spend one more minute being administered to like an invalid. You were already stir-crazy. Any more of this treatment would drive you insane.

"You just started to recover," she said in a tone bordering on a whine. You understood. She spent all this effort getting you well and here you were throwing it away. "I don't want you pushing yourself. Call out sick. I'll stay home as well, to take care of you."

"That's crazy talk," you put quite simply.

Still wearing a harsh frown, Minoru sat on the bed and gave you a thorough inspection, even leaning in to feel your lymph nodes. After what felt like an eternity, she sighed and allowed you to kick off the covers without further protest.

"I'll have my chauffeur drive you home," she said as she stood up again. All the previous warmth drained out of her tone and demeanor. The ice queen facade was back up.

You panicked, grabbed her hand with both of your own before she could wander too far away.

"Wait!" She turned around and furrowed her brow at you. "Promise me you won't go back to pretending I don't exist."

"I'll be there for you, as long as you need me," she stated cryptically, still distant. But that wouldn't do. You needed her all the time, not just when you were sick.

"I always need you." It came out as a coo, a murmured plea for something more than what she was offering. You wanted to be her close friend, not just her one-time patient.

Still, to your surprise, Minoru graciously accepted, lifting up the hand not in your possession to cup your cheek.

"Then I'll always be there."

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