Teru looked in the mirror with watery eyes. Half her right cheek was now a blue bruise flecked with purple, and her lip was cut in the corner. This was the result of one of the managers at her new job.
To help out Riko and Kurosaki with both of their rents, Teru had taken an after-school job at a restaurant as a dishwasher. This wasn't the first time that her manager had beaten her up like this.
It wasn't her fault that she made little mistakes, but the manager was the unforgiving sort. This time, she had tripped on one of the other dishwasher's feet and dropped a bowl that broke. The other washers had laughed at her, and the manager had spared no mercy on her face.
When Kurosaki entered his small apartment, he was surprised to smell the aroma of food cooking. Curious as to this wonder, he proceeded into the kitchen, throwing his keys on the table with a clatter that startled the petite cook in his kitchen, Teru.
"Hi Kurosaki" Teru said, rather unenthusiastically as the custodian noisily entered the room.
"Smells good, slave" Kurosaki remarked, glancing at Teru's back before getting a soda out of the fridge and plopping on the couch. Kurosaki expected Teru to follow up with one of her favorite insults, but the silence stretched on.
Kurosaki took this time to enjoy a nap.
When he woke up, a plate of potstickers was laid out on the coffee table with a pair of chopsticks and a bowl of rice nearby. Kurosaki blinked the sleep out of his eyes and looked at Teru's spot at the table, which was depressingly empty.
"Teru?" He called.
Kurosaki got up and went into the kitchen, surprised to see Teru standing at the sink.
"Teru?" He asked, more gentle this time.
"I-i'm fine" Teru replied in a shaky voice after a minute. Kurosaki raised an eyebrow.
"I think we both know you're not. What's wrong?" Kurosaki wrapped a strong arm around Teru's head, ruffling her hair. Teru sniffed. Kurosaki removed his arm and used it to turn the small girl to him.
He couldn't keep the expression of shock off his face when he saw the purple bruise dominating most of Teru's pale face. Big, fat tears rolled down Teru's cheeks and she sniffed unhappily.
"You better tell me how that happened" He threatened in a dangerous tone, his expression swiftly changing to anger. Teru froze. If she told Kurosaki, he wouldn't let her work there anymore. He'd probably kill the manager with his bare hands... She had to lie to him, even if it tore her apart.
"I-I was playing basketball at school and one of the older kids h-hit me in the face with the ball on accident... I-I wasn't paying attention" Kurosaki's eyes narrowed. Teru could tell he knew she was lying.
"What really happened?" He growled, shaking Teru a bit by the shoulders, which only made her cry harder.
"I told you! It was a-an accident!" She sobbed. Kurosaki was livid.
"Goddamnit! Tell me so I can go bash their faces in!" Kurosaki yelled, wheeling away and slamming his fists into the wall.
The kitchen was quiet, the only sound being Teru's small sobs.
"Teru..." Kurosaki said through gritted teeth. Teru left her place at the sink and silently wrapped her arms around Kurosaki's waist, leaning her cheek on his back and crying into his shirt.
"I don't like to see you hurt" Kurosaki said quietly after a moment, feeling Teru's tears soak through his shirt to his skin.
"I'm sorry" Teru whispered back.
Kurosaki was suddenly very aware of the close proximity they shared at that moment. The feel of her slender arms around his waist brought a flush to his cheeks.
Unable to control himself, her turned around, pulled Teru close into his chest. She tensed at the sudden new contact, but then relaxed.
"Please" Kurosaki breathed in her ear. Teru was silent for a moment.
"It was the manager at my work" Kurosaki's vision went red at that.
"I don't want you to go back there ever again, understand?" Teru nodded in reply.
Later, once Teru was asleep, he would go to the restaurant and rip that guy to pieces for hurting his Teru.
Kurosaki hugged Teru harder as she started to cry again, her small frame shaking with sobs.
She had told him once that she would be forever his...
But that was only when he was DAISY.
Did it really matter? No.
Even if this was what they had for now, it was good enough for him. She was his.