No disclaimer and no ownership make me something something

Another request for Mystic Authoress, thank you for giving me ideas, because I have none. I hope you enjoy this.

This is pre-Newcomer's Tourney and in Kuroyan's point of view.

WARNING: Kuroyan is a horrible pervert, some of what he says is pretty lewd. Okay maybe a lot of what he says, whatever.

It was supposed to be just another ordinary day for me, Kuroyanagi Ryou.

My job is pretty sweet, all I have to do is eat delicious bread all day and sometimes I write stuff down on my clipboard. Technically I'm supposed to be the manager, but what are the peons going to do about me coming in and eating some of their quota for the day? Complain and get me fired? Damn peons.

But our newest little peon had caught my interest.

Well maybe "little" isn't the right word to describe him.

Suwabara Kai was... Interesting, to say the least. Just the circumstances surrounding his employment would have been enough for me to want to keep an eye on him- people succeeding on technicalities like that are often ridiculed, I would know- but the combination of his level of skill, his demeanor, and his age made me really want to make sure he didn't get into any trouble. This industry is a lot more cut-throat than one might think, and it's easy for someone with my intelligence to see that that man is not as tough on the inside as he may seem on the outside. It would be a waste for something untoward to happen to talent like that.

Really, that was the only reason I was watching him so closely that morning, and every morning, and why I decided to take him under my wing from the first moment I saw him.


But anyway, that day started out just like any other day.

Then I saw him.

His face was pale, and it had the kind of sheen to it that only a cold sweat could cause. His hair looked like it hadn't been brushed, his bandanna was crooked, and his shirt was buttoned wrong. His eyes were glazed over, half-lidded, and tired. He didn't even have the strength to put on his usual scowl.

In a few words, he looked absolutely pitiful.

Although, I had to give him credit, he tried to at least act like he wasn't sick, he had his hands in his pockets so no one could see them shake, he picked his feet up when he walked instead of shuffling, and he kept his head down so only someone paying very specific attention to him every day would notice that something was wrong.

He tried to walk right past me. Probably repeating a mantra of "He can't see me, he can't see me" inside his head.

I am still kind of the manager here, you know. I can't exactly let an awful-looking sick guy make food all day.

I grabbed his shoulder, and I guess that completely destroyed whatever semblance of equilibrium he had left, because he made a scared noise and immediately stumbled over. He must have tried to shrug my hand away and failed miserably, or something. I caught him, one hand on his shoulder and the other on his stomach.

His very nice stomach.

No, Ryou, no lewd thoughts about your employee. Your nasty, sick employee.

The poor boy-no matter what his actions and attitude might suggest, that's all he was still, just a boy, which is exactly why you shouldn't be having extremely molest-y thoughts about him, Kuroyanagi- seemed to be in some kind of half-comatose state, trying to go to work when he was this sick, what kind of monster is he?

The kind of monster that has really great abs.

Well, yeah.

But I totally need to stop having those kinds of thoughts right now because my cute little employee needs help.

Totally not "little".

Shut up.

I somehow managed to half walk, half carry him back to his apartment. Thank God it was only an elevator ride and a short walk away. And another elevator ride. And another less-short walk. And I had to fish his keys out of his pocket while still holding him up, open his door, and flop him down on his couch.

And you felt him up the whole time. You pervert, taking advantage of an invalid.

Not gonna lie, as difficult and embarrassing as that was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially the part where I had to get his keys out of his back pocket.

Hey, I'm helping the poor bastard home, I deserve something in return.

"Ugh... Nnn..." Speak of the devil. I looked over at him to see that he had regained enough strength from his nap to take his bandanna in his hand and used it to wipe a bit of the sweat from his face. When his arm wore out again he draped it across his forehead with another groan.

Apparently he had not yet come to his senses enough to realize where he was or who was in his apartment with him.

Oh well.

I can wait.

It took three and a half minutes.

Three and a half minutes of taking rough, trembling breaths and rocking his head back and forth on the arm of his couch like a demented man, before he found the strength to move his arm the couple of inches it would take for it to droop to the floor.

He must have sensed my presence long ago, though, because the first thing he did when he could lift his head- another whole minute later- was look straight at me and say "What are you doing here?" In a weak, shaky voice. He tried to frown and look somewhat intimidating.

It only served to make him more pitiful.

The trying-really-hard-to-be-scary-when-he's-not thing is pretty cute, too.

"I carried you here you ungrateful bastard." Haha, now I'm tougher than you. Take that.

With little to no strength left, he couldn't even begin to hold back the bright red that flared across his pale face. He made a great effort of looking around and finally realized where he was.

"But I thought I had work today." He gave me a confused, half-lidded stare.

"Not with a cold like that, you don't. I couldn't let you around any of our product or the other employees in good conscience." I frowned deeply at him, trying my hardest not to smile

His eyes widened, and he looked little hurt. "S-Sorry. Thank you very much."

Teasing him is fun, too.

I gave the most theatrical sigh I possibly could. "It's fine, this happens to new employees a lot, especially ones like yourself, who came from different parts of the country. But you should know by now, having worked in a bakery before, that you aren't allowed to come in sick ever."

He looked completely dejected now, and still unbelievably cute. "Yeah... I know."

He wasn't usually affected by my lectures. It was nice to finally get a rise out of him. But I can't keep teasing him forever.

I have to try and get on his good side, after all.

I pushed my bangs back and put my hands in my pockets. Smooth as fuck. "So... Is there anything you need?"

The red returned to his cheeks. "W-What?"

I gave another too-hard sigh. "Well, I'm already here, what kind of human being would I be to not assist someone in need?"

"I'm not in need of anything!"

"You're joking, right? Look at you." I looked him up and down once, and if possible his face got even redder.

It was a few moments before he spoke again.

"Could... Could you get me some water... While I go change?" He gave me a shy look.

So he's the kind of person that's not used to being spoiled. I can work with that.

"Are you sure that you can do that by yourself?" I looked him up and down again.

"Yeah." He sat up with a harsh breath, but it appeared that resting restored a bit of his energy. "I can... I can at least do that much." I helped him up, getting another good feel of his bicep, and he wobbled, but managed to keep himself steady.

Dammit, what I would give to help him change.

Thoughts like that aren't going to get me anywhere.

"Well, I'm pretty sure I can manage. Call me if you need help." The last thing I want to do is wish something bad on him, but that would be so awesome.

The blush was back. For what reason, I'll never know. "I-I will." And he stumbled down the hallway.

He's a practical kind of guy, so I bet he keeps cups right next to the sink.

I opened the cabinet and struck gold. I grabbed a mug, filled it up, and put it on the living-room table. Then I waited.

My good virtue was rewarded once more when he stumbled back in wearing a pair of green sweatpants and no shirt.

No, shirt.

It took a second for that to actually sink in.

Damn was he built. Even as pale and sickly as he was he positively glowed from all the vitamin D that bronzed his skin.

Ryou likey.

He crashed down next to me on the couch with an "Umph!" and drank his water. While he was occupied with that I allowed myself to ogle him, any inhibitions I had before, gone.

Why should I care about my inhibitions anyway? Even if he did catch me staring he couldn't do anything about it in the state he's in.

I wouldn't do that, though. It would probably hurt his feelings.

He was a pretty sensitive guy on the inside, after all.

I bet he's sensitive on the inside all right.

I need to find a way to make my inner voice shut up. I wonder if Suwa has any booze.

"Uh..." Oh, shit he caught me staring. I looked up at his face again. No, he hadn't. Thank God.

Seeing that he had my attention again, he continued. "Are you gonna leave or what?"


"... No?!" He made the angriest face he could. It wasn't very.

"I can't just leave an invalid home alone by himself, can I? With the way that cold has hit you, you can't even stand up on your own. Have you even had anything to eat today?"

Just then his stomach growled. I had my answer. He blushed. "Th-That doesn't matter at all. Just go."

"It does too matter. 'Feed a cold, starve a fever?' There's science in that, you know. You've got ingredients here, right? I can make you something real quick."

"W-What!? No! Just go, I'm fine!" He tried to stand up and failed, settling on just waving his arms at me really hard. It was funny.

"For the last time, no, you're not fine. Now lay down and get some fucking rest while I cook!"

"Or what!?"

"Or you're fired."

That shut him up good.

I heard him turn the TV on behind me as I began to work.

I looked in his fridge, there was chicken breast. And that was it.

I looked in his freezer, assorted vegetables. And that was it.

I opened the pantry, there was brown sugar. And a frilly, baby-blue apron hanging inside the door.

I burst out laughing, as hard and loud as I could, straight from the bottom of my stomach.

This startled my patient, because he jumped, hitting his shin on the coffee table and shouting a curse. His reflexes were still sharp. That was good.

"What!?" He screamed at me.

"You... Apron... Frills!" I managed to barely-comprehensibly gasp out while catching my breath, before laughing even harder.

I bet his face was red then, but I wouldn't know because I was doubled-over with tears in my eyes.

"That... That was a gag gift, god dammit! From the other students at the dojo!"

"Then why do you keep it around!?"

"I-It's the principle of the thing!"

I bet he'd look good in that...

Haha, ye-

... Naked.

I will not be listening to that voice any more. I quit laughing and got to work.

So, chicken, veggies, and brown sugar.

Stir-fry it is then.

He didn't have a wok, but I eventually found a suitable frying pan. I put the chicken in a separate pan and popped it in the oven for it to cook all the way through while I stirred the vegetables and brown sugar together in the big pan with water. I took the chicken out after a couple minutes, turned it over, put it back in, and continued stirring. When the chicken was cooked all the way through I tore it up, tossed it in the pan with the veggies, stirred it all a little more and voila, delicious stir-fry appeared.

Damn I'm good.

I put some of it in the first bowl I found and grabbed a pair of chopsticks.

I hadn't taken another peek at him in a while, but he looked about to pass out again. His eyelids were drooping and his breathing was slow.

I snapped my fingers at him and said "Hey."

After a moment he looked up at me, straight into my eyes. For some reason that made me feel self-conscious, and I looked away, shoving the bowl at him.

"Careful, it's still pretty hot."

He blinked a couple times, nodded, then took the bowl. And I went off in search of Tylenol.

My journey took me to the bathroom cabinet, which indeed contained a fever reducer. The off-brand kind, but that certainly works, too.

I returned to the living room to find him almost done with the bowl I gave him and a bit more energetic. I took his cup from earlier, refilled it, and gave it back to him with the medicine, and he gratefully took it.

By the time I had taken his bowl to the kitchen, washed it out in the sink, and put the leftover stir-fry into a container, he had already fallen asleep on the couch, quite a bit of color having returned to his skin.

And with that, I left the apartment.

What an ungrateful bastard, not even giving me a simple thank you. I'll have to lecture him later.

You got all the repayment you'd ever need molesting him on the way over here.


Well there's that.

That Kuroyan sure is a shifty-eyed little pervert, isn't he?