So, just like they said, my cold was cured in one day.
That was impressive, if I do say so myself. I did feel some traces of sickness, and parts of my body still felt heavy, so I wasn’t completely cured. Indeed, I was still stuck in my futon. However, my fever and the swelling in my throat had mostly subsided. I felt terribly grateful to everyone who had nursed me and given me the resolve to recover.
I guess it was true that health and sickness start in the mind.
“Jeez. Ye gotta take better care of yer body, ya know?”
Prez smiled. She had come to visit me.
“And here the doc said ya had to rest for three or four days. He wasn’t some quack, was he? Just in case, I had picked him since he had best reputation ‘round here.”
“Well, my sturdy body is one of my strong points.”
“Nono. Even if yer sturdy, yer body was so broken that ya collapsed. It wasn’t somethin’ that could be fixed that in a day. Or maybe yer some genius in feigning illness? You could make your tonsils swell and control yer body temperature?”
“I can’t do that…”
Incidentally, the ninja in Yamadafuu Tarou’s story could do those things.
“Well, in any case, I’m glad. I was thinkin’ this was my fault too. I’m glad it didn’t turn into anything serious.”
“What are you saying? As I’ve said before, it was only because I didn’t take care of myself. It’s not your fault at all.”
“That might be how ya see it, but I see it differently. I’ll make sure to make this up to you, so forgive me, aight?”
This was the forever unyielding prez, single-minded and impossibly stubborn.
“By the way, Himenokouji Akito. Who won?”
“…? Won what?”
“Who was the MVP nurse?”
Now that she mentioned it. I had completely forgotten.
“Of course, it ain’t a competition, and I only proposed it to calm ‘em down. But just in case, pick a winner. It should give the girls peace of mind if you settled things.”
“Well, that might be true, but… huh? I’ve got to choose?”
“Who else could?”
“Well, you, for one?”
“Don’t talk like an idiot. Am I in any position to judge them? They want you to be the judge, not me.”
“Well, that might be true, but…”
“For them, this is important. Their pride is on the line. Man up and judge ’em sternly. Don’t worry about convention; judge ’em on your own terms.
I reluctantly considered it.
Nasuhara-san —— Well, I can’t really call that nursing, but nonetheless, her spirit got through to me. Although, she was always promoting her two-man comedy act and showing her lack of wisdom. Practically speaking, keeping me company was the best thing about her ‘nursing.’
Ginbei —— She had essentially given me a three day feast of Chinese delicacies, taking out every folk remedy and nutritional supplement in existence. Their efficacy aside, she put a lot of effort into it, and it was heartwarming. Honestly, I didn’t know why she’d even sleep with me, but that did put our strong bond in a new light, and it definitely helped me recover both physically and psychologically.
And Akiko —— Yeah, she was the strongest in a way. On top of understanding exactly what I wanted, her splendid nursing had an unmistakably familial touch to it. At the same time, she totally threw off her usual character. I was struck by her enthusiasm to accept my everything just like a Bosatsu or Kannon. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that she nursed me with all she had.
I was grateful to all of them. Picking one over the others was entirely absurd.
On top of that, I’d make matters worse no matter who I picked… they were completely even to begin with. It would be best to call it a draw. But if I had to pick, I guess I’d have to make them do penalty kicks, like they do in football…
“I understand. Then I’ll pick.”
“Aight. Come at me.”
“Let me confirm one thing before we go though. I can choose however I want, right?”
“Ye, of course. You’re the only judge. There ain’t any grading systems like in figure skatin’. Yer may pick the winner however ye like. No prob.”
“I understand. Well then, I’ll tell you my conclusion.”
I wasn’t reluctant to reply, but I took a deep breath nonetheless.
And, like she said, I chose a winner on my own terms.
“This time, the MVP is prez.”
“It’s you, prez. Nikaidou Arashi, you’re the champion, the most valuable player. Congratulations!”
“Nono. What are ya sayin’?”
Prez recovered from her puzzled expression and looked down on me, shocked.
“Ya listenin’ to what people say? I told’cha to choose who did the best nursin’, aight?”
“Yeah. That’s why I chose prez.”
“…No, The ones who nursed ya were gold, silver, and black hair, right? I didn’t give you one pill and didn’t feed’cha one bite. Nor did I put a wet towel on yer forehead or checked yer temperature. Well, I did pick the doc, but…”
“Doing nothing is also nursing.”
I explained while smiling.
“It’s my fault too that I suddenly collapsed. But it was just a cold, you know? Even the doctor said that. And in hindsight, it was cured in as short as one day, too. With that in mind, having three people nurse me — what am I, a prince?”
“Well… that might be true.”
“This might be rushed. I’m very grateful to them for worrying about me and looking after me, but — frankly speaking, they overreacted. It was just a cold.”
You can make fun of someone by over-praising them, so couldn’t you do the same by over-nursing them?
Even if everyone had told me not to hold back, to ask for anything, how could I seriously treat myself like a king? I was grateful for their warm care, but again, my illness would have resolved itself on its own. It was overkill to do as much as they did; they had cut the paper with a sword instead of scissors.
“You thought the same thing, so you didn’t do anything, right? You wanted to avoid a situation where I’d have to deal with four people ganging up on me.”
“Hm… Well, that’s true.”
“So, at least at the beginning, prez paid the most attention to what I needed. You were the only one who calmly assessed the situation. I am glad to have had Nasuhara-san, Ginbei, and Akiko nurse me, and they were also reliable, but that’s another matter. The MVP in the shadows was prez. That’s unshakeable.”
I said, smiling at the red-haired trickster.
“Properly accept the honor. Nikaidou Arashi-san, you were the most valuable player. Congratulations.”
Prez sighed as she rubbed her chin with a bitter expression.
“It seems it’s also a problem if my subordinate is too shrewd for his own good, eh? You know, they say that ignorance is bliss, right?”
“Well, yes. Thank you.”
“Got it. Then let’s call it a draw this time. If they keep on fighting, you’ll have to take care of it yourself. Ya fine with that?”
As expected of prez, this might be what they call a tacit understanding. Or you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours? What did we need to do to settle it most peacefully? She understood my thoughts without my having to say anything. For the people at the top, it was important to know when to let someone else take the credit.
“…Hey, listen, Himenokouji Akito.”
“Don’t ‘what’ me, ya have been smirking since earlier. It’s disgusting. What exactly is so funny?”
“No, nothing. Just, well, the expression you made when you realized that I caught on to something I wasn’t supposed to know… it was relatively lovely.”
“You… don’t’cha get cocky. If yer gonna say that stuff carelessly, I ain’t gonna show any mercy just because yer sick.
After that threat, as if to say ‘this topic’s over,’ she waved her hands. Her face was just a bit red, and of course it because she had a fever. Surprisingly, it seems like this kind of situation made her weak.
“Well, I can’t say I cleared mah debt just yet.”
While I was inwardly congratulating myself at having the upper hand for once, prez suddenly said that.
“Debt? What debt?”
“I’m to blame for your medical negligence. Honestly, how can ya pretend otherwise?”
“Nono. What are you saying?”
Half amazed, I continued:
“It’s my own fault for catching a cold. Well, I am packed with responsibilities here, but that’s no excuse. To say nothing of there being no reason for you to feel responsible.”
“Ya might think that way, but as yer superior, I have my own responsibilities.”
Her stubborn claim showed that she had a surprisingly strong sense of responsibility.
“To prevent this from happinin’ again, I’ll need to reassess the dorm and the student council. That’s my own way of taking responsibility.”
“Well, I don’t mind if that’s what you want. But… what do you plan to change?”
“Getting more people.”
Her reply was simple and clear.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while now. I’ll appoint a new dorm manager. Putting it harshly, we’ve purposely pushed every responsibility onto ya. To settle this quickly, we’ll get a new dorm manager, as was originally planned, and they’ll do yer job. That’ll clear things up.”
If it was like that, I had no objections.
I had been quite busy for a long time, so I looked forward to having a new dorm manager.
“Rest assured. I’ve already got mah sights on someone extraordinary. Negotiations were tough, but… no need to fret. I swear on the honor of mah name that I’ll get’chu the best dorm manager there is.”
Prez gave me a thumbs up, and it felt more reliable than any contract or agreement we could’ve made. Maybe it seemed that way because I hadn’t completely recovered yet.
…Well, with that… this chapter of my life, the one where my health crumbled for the first time in years, came to a close.
When I announced results of that nursing contest — which had completely exhausted me, by the way — all the participants responded with raging protests, as I expected. They had given it their all, and they intensely objected the ambivalent result, again as expected. I had intended to pacify them, but I ended up in a dire state of distress… again. But that’s another story.
Translator notes and references