She knew she shouldn't be at work ill, but she really couldn't justify taking a day off for a little cold. She breathed though her mouth, thankful that her mask kept her germs from spreading around the office.
Haida peeked over his computer at the weary panda, his brows knitted together. "How are you hanging in there?"
Retsuko coughed in reply, her weak eyes giving her away before her words did. "I'm making it." The raspy voice that answered him didn't sound like his friend.
"You should really go home. You are gonna end up in the hospital overworking yourself like this." Haida lowered his voice, raising his body a bit so she could see more of him. Retsuko turned her attention back to the computer.
"Too much to do. I need to finish these documents by the end of the day." The girl replied, softer than before. Haida paused before perching back in his computer chair.
"I'm just worried about you, Retsu." Haida could hear the steady typing of her keys.
"I'm a grown woman. Dont concern yourself with me." The panda told him, punctuating her sentence with more coughs and a sniffle. "I know my limits,"
Haida huffed. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Fenneko staring at him knowingly from her office space.
Retsuko's face lay on her folded arms as her kettle began to whistle. She really didn't feel good. The medicine she took before she left her house wore off long ago and she was now feeling the extent of her cold.
Just as she began to will herself erect to pull her kettle off the stove so that the whistling would cease its shrill crying, she heard the burner turn off and the pot move.
The panda perked her head up, curious to see who had come into the kitchen without her knowledge.
Director Ton glared at her hard, moving her hot water off the stove top. "Pretty sick, huh Calendar?" The hog asked, pouring the water into the prepared mug.
"I'm okay sir..." Retsuko stiffled a cough, hoping the pig wouldn't notice. He peered over his shoulder menacingly.
"Bull shit." He placed the tea down roughly infront of her. Retsuko looked at the cup and then back up at her manager.
"Director Ton, that's your tea." She whimpered. She could already tell her voice was going. The man shook his head.
"I think you need it more than me. Besides, it's probably contaminated with your germs anyways." The pig walked toward the door. "So look, drink your tea and you can get outta here. Before you get everyone else sick."
Retsuko sat upright in shock and nearly spilled her beverage. "But...I still have so much stuff to do for today...are you--"
"Oh don't think I'm doing you a favor. Your little buddy offered to pick up your work for you. No skin off my snout if he wants to stick his neck out for you." The pig shoved his hands in his pockets and walked off. The girl thought she heard a murmured 'Get well soon'.
Retsuko blinked, staring down at the tea. Distantly, her heels throbbed at the memory shoes rubbing against raw skin. Without even realizing it, she began to cry. Wet, warm tears streamed down her cheeks as she let the tea sooth her stinging throat.
Fenneko's laugh tickled every nerve he had. "Okay Fenneko, I get it." The man pinched his brow, looking over at the pile of paperwork he had taken on.
"You're gonna be here all night, dude." The fennec fox stopped laughing and gave her friend an empathetic look. "That's a grand gesture, don't you think?"
"I'm just trying to help out a teammate." Haida claimed, even as his cheeks went scarlet. "That's all."
"Haida," a raspy voice cut through the constant typing and chatter. Haida turned to face the small panda. The girl hesitated before she placed her small forehead against the hyena's shoulder. Even through his shirt Haida could feel her fever. "Thank you."
"Oh wow." Fenneko said in a monotone, though her smirk was still evident in her voice.
Haida was starting to feel feverish himself. He hoped his nervousness wasn't obvious. "No problem. That's what friends do."
Retsuko leaned away and paused to consider his words. Then she smiled under her facemask, one which barely met her eyes. "I suppose you're right."
"Are you sure I can't bring you something?" Through Retsuko's cell phone she could hear a rough, dry cough and she winced, knowing his discomfort. "I really feel terrible."
"No, it's totally fine. It happens!" Haida's raspy voice replied. Retsuko sighed, her breath visible in the cool October air. She leaned over her balcony and looked up at the sky.
"I wonder if it was working of the paperwork I had been working on." Retsuko pondered. "Or maybe I shouldn't have gotten so close to you while I was sick."
Haida flushed. recalling the feel of her head against him. "Retsuko, it doesnt matter." He cleared his throat. "I was happy to be able to help you out."
There was a long pause on the other end of the receiver. Haida looked at his phone and then placed his hand over his forehead. Maybe he had been too eager when he said that. Maybe he had come on too strong. The medicine was affecting his thought processing. "Retsu--"
"Haida..." She interjected. "So if I can't bring you any soup....would you want to to get some ramen when you are feeling better?"
The man let her question sink in. If he wasn't so high off pain killers and decongestants, he'd think he was being asked out on a date. "Surez that sounds good. Should we invite Fenneko too?"
Retsuko felt her face sting in the crisp fall air. "Well I was thinking...just you and me. My treat." The girl chewed the inside of her cheek. "You know just a friend repaying a friend!" Retsuko willed herself to stop talking.
"Yeah! I mean absolutely that...sounds great." Haida was thankful that the shakiness in his voice could be attributed to his illness.
Retsuko looked at the lights shining from the windows of the buildings in the distance and smiled.