~7~

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I wake slightly to hear a familiar voice speaking softly. Something touches my head, and the voice says, "No, Doc. She is a little warm, and clammy." He says something else, but I'm already falling back asleep.

***

"Sang, sweetheart, I need you to get up and drink some water."

A hand is placed on my shoulder and I bolt upright.

"Sang, it's okay," Kota says as he takes a step back from me.

Kota. That's right. I rub my eyes and look around. There's sunlight streaming in through the window, and he's wearing different clothes than before. He's holding out a glass for me, and in his other hand, he has two tablets.

"What time is it?" I ask. My voice is rough and I can tell that I've slept a lot longer than I intended. I take the drink from him and take a small sip.

"It's almost seven, sweetie." My eyes go wide. "I wanted to let you sleep longer, but Doc said that you'd need to hydrate." I take another sip and my stomach clenches. I shove the glass back into his hand and bolt for the restroom. I can feel him enter behind me and he pulls my hair back while I vomit until I'm wracked with dry heaves.

Once I'm done, I rest my cheek against the cool porcelain of the seat and Kota smooths a stray lock of hair away from my face. "Is there anything I can do for you, Sang?" he asks. I groan and he helps me to stand. I rinse my mouth out a few times and he offers me a new toothbrush. "Here, let me," he murmurs. He sits me on the counter and says, "Open up." It's a little weird, but sweet. He brushes my teeth and then carries me back to the sofa. "You're welcome to stay here for the afternoon if you're not feeling well," he tells me. "I've got to get to class soon, but Vic will be back around eleven, and I'll come to check on you at lunch."

I shake my head. "It's really kind of you to offer, Kota, but I have tutoring appointments today, and I don't have a way to reschedule them." He enfolds me into a side hug and strokes my hair.

"Fine, but take it easy, okay?" I nod. I'm actually pretty embarrassed about this. I fall asleep on his couch, and then almost puke on him.

Way to go.

"I'll meet you at lunch at school, then?" he asks, "And after you're done, if you want, you can come back here and rest for a bit before your Japanese translating thing tonight."

He's done so much for me already, but I can't afford to be too proud right now. I can tell I'm sick, and I don't want it to get worse, so I agree with him.

"Go ahead and get ready for the day, Sang. You can use the shower if you want." He gets up and walks into the kitchen, and I hear him messing with the coffee maker. "How do you like your eggs?" he calls out.

"I don't really care," I respond as I take my bag with me into the bathroom. I lock the door behind me and strip. I reach in to turn on the water and feel like someone has just punched me in the gut. I hear my mother screaming at me, and I feel the memory of the sting of the shower water pelting me. My breath hitches and my ears start ringing.

I can't take a shower?

I think about it, and I haven't actually had one since that day. I've taken a few baths, but mostly I've cleaned up using sinks and my towel.

Well isn't this just great?

I quickly plug the tub and take a shallow bath, shaving so fast that I nick myself pretty bad. I hold a tissue to it to stem the bleeding and finish up. I pull my hair into two tight french braids and dress in my other set of clothing. I brush my teeth once more for good measure and pack everything back up into my bag.

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