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Sick Day

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"Here's your shogayu," says Ah-chan, handing her a mug. Fumi must be sicker than she'd thought; giggles bubble up inside her like soda fizz and she tries to elide them in a cough. She doesn't do a very good job. "What's so funny?" Ah-chan asks.

"N-nothing," Fumi says. "It's just...your voice."

"Huh?" Ah-chan sniffles. "It's that weird?"

Fumi's about to apologize when Ah-chan starts doing vocal exercises. (Everyone did them before rehearsals, even first-years.) But even as Fumi laughs, she hears Sugimoto-sempai's tone in Ah-chan's friendly-robot voice. Tears prickle in the corners of her eyes.

"Fumi-chan, you always cry as...Oh! I wasn't thinking! I'm sorry!"

"No, it's okay." Fumi sniffles and breathes in the spiced steam, letting the ginger clear her sinuses. Soon Ah-chan's sitting next to her on the futon with her own drink--negimisoyu--in her hands.

"You were so cute in pigtails," Ah-chan says suddenly. "I mean--not that you aren't cute now. I mean...I don't know what I mean."

"It's all right. You're sick." Fumi takes a cautious sip.

"Not that sick."

A little while later, Fumi says, "I'm sorry you couldn't go horseback-riding with everyone."

"You want some of my drink?" asks Ah-chan.

They more-than-taste each other's remedies (ginger and green onion interlacing fingers on Fumi's tongue) and curl up together on the futon. As she falls asleep, Fumi thinks that sharing a cold with Ah-chan is better than all the horseback-riding in the world.