Quality Check: Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi.
Half a year passed, and I continued to be the twins’ private tutor. My university club senior who introduced me to this job felt this was very surprising. My senior and the twins’ families were long time family friends, and they had known each other since they were little. He said that the twins were very difficult to get along with and were very treacherous people; however, I simply never got that impression. Zhao Yi Bo’s attitude was always friendly, and even though Zhao Yi Xuan never took the initiative to talk, he never made things difficult for me or made a ruckus during class. As for the homework I assigned every session, the twins always completed it on time.
After knowing them for so long, I started to see them as my little brothers. Sometimes I would even sigh and wonder why my own little brother couldn’t even be half as well-behaved as they were, which was pretty bad of me to think of as his older sister.
From my senior’s words, I also came to understand some of the circumstances surrounding the Zhao family.
I listened to my senior explain that the heads of the Zhao family were married due to business interests, and they simply didn’t love each other. Each of them respectively had their own livelihoods and lovers, and they now lived outside of the country. For the twins, this was like saying that their parents had practically abandoned them in Taiwan. In the Zhao family mansion, the only residents were the two brothers and the icy butler that took care of them.
After I heard my senior say this, I felt really bad for the twins. Even though their parents were still alive and they had a ridiculous amount of money at home, they weren’t all that different from orphans.
My family didn’t have very much money, and before I came to Taipei, my entire family always lived in a rather small apartment. At night, everyone would crowd into the living room to watch television, and we’d frequently argue about watching the shows that we each liked. On days off work, my mom and dad liked to arrange some family activities that only old people would enjoy doing. I also frequently fought with my little brother over every little thing until one of us gave up.
However, the twins never experienced this kind of commonplace happiness.
The weekend before Christmas, I went to the Zhao residence for a tutoring lesson as scheduled. After pressing the doorbell and waiting for quite a long time, the old butler never came to open the gate. I felt this was strange, since normally the old butler would immediately open the door as soon as I placed my hand on the doorbell. After some more time passed, the elaborately carved steel gate finally swung open slowly. The person who answered the door was unexpectedly Zhao Yi Xuan.
“Where’s the butler? Did he go out?”
“Dead.” After Zhao Yi Xuan opened the gate, he turned around on his own to head back inside, not caring whether I followed or not.
“Huh?” I was frozen on the spot, but I quickly came back to my senses. I jogged to chase after Zhao Yi Xuan and grabbed his sleeves.
“How could you say such a thing about an elderly person? It’s just too rude.” I was slightly angry. Even though the old butler was always cold, never said a word to me, and was practically a stranger in a sense, my moral values to respect my elders made me feel upset about Zhao Yi Xuan’s language.
“On Monday. Got in a car accident. Died.” Zhao Yi Xuan looked back and emotionlessly explained with a very flat tone. It was then that I realized that his complexion was very poor. There were bags under his bloodshot eyes, his lips were cracked, his hair was a complete mess, and his clothes were disorderly.
“Please don’t be so upset…” At a complete loss, I let go of his sleeves and followed him into the building.
I didn’t see Zhao Yi Bo inside the living room, so I continued to follow Zhao Yi Xuan upstairs. I thought he was going to go to the study, but he didn’t. Rather, he turned around and entered Zhao Yi Bo’s room.
I stopped at the door. Even though I frequently visited the Zhao family, apart from the living room, the study on the third floor, and the bathroom, I never entered any other rooms. I wasn’t sure whether I should or shouldn’t go inside.
After hesitating for a moment, I still followed him inside. Zhao Yi Xuan’s appearance made me rather cautious, and the fact that I hadn’t seen a trace of Zhao Yi Bo also made me uneasy.
Inside the room, Zhao Yi Xuan quietly sat by the bed. Zhao Yi Bo was lying on the bed with his eyes tightly closed. I felt a jolt in my heart, and I hurriedly rushed over.
On the bed, Zhao Yi Bo’s entire face was flushed red, and there was a cold towel on his forehead; he was breathing fast. The nearby bedside cabinet had several opened packets of medicine. I reached out my head to feel his neck. My god, so hot!
“He has a high fever.”
“What are you waiting for? Hurry up and bring him to the hospital.” As I ordered Zhao Yi Xuan, I climbed onto the bed, attempting to help get Zhao Yi Bo up.
Zhao Yi Xuan pulled away my hand.
“The doctor just left, and he already gave him an IV drip.” 
Startled, I remembered that the Zhao family always had a fixed family doctor.
“How long has he had this fever?”
“Three days. He’s been on an IV the entire time.” Zhao Yi Xuan sat back down beside the bed and quietly resumed watching over Zhao Yi Bo.
Even after three days on an IV, his body was still so hot. It must be because there’s nobody to take care of them.
Even though they looked like adults, they were only children who weren’t even sixteen years old yet.
“You haven’t gone to school these past few days, have you? What have you two even been eating?” I felt my heart aching on the inside.
“Takeout.” Zhao Yi Xuan’s eyes were solely fixed on Zhao Yi Bo who was lying on the bed. Was he afraid? Afraid that his only brother was going to leave him behind, just like his parents and his butler did?
I climbed off the bed, walked to his side, and hugged him. As I gently pet his head, I felt his body momentarily stiffen, but very quickly it relaxed.
What a poor child.
“When are your parents coming?”
“They’re not going to come. Yesterday they called to tell us that our custody is temporarily in charge of a lawyer, at least until we come of age.” His muffled and exhausted voice came out from my chest.
When I heard this, I felt a fury of rage boil up from inside. I never imagined that such irresponsible parents could ever exist. If they were here right now, I think I probably would have gone straight up to them and slapped them.
“I’m going to make something to eat. What do you want? You haven’t eaten proper food in quite a few days, right? I’m pretty handy in the kitchen.”
Not knowing how to comfort him, I could only reluctantly change the topic.
I let go of him, turned around, and walked out.
The refrigerator in the kitchen was basically empty with practically nothing inside of it. They probably never restocked it after the old butler passed away. From the inside, I took out frozen chicken, a box of shrimp, and two eggs. I decided to make a bowl of noodles with chicken for Zhao Yi Xuan, and a pot of porridge for Zhao Yi Bo.
While I prepared the food, I kept cursing at the Zhao family’s irresponsible parents.
“Those brutes, no sense of humanity, I hope they choke on their food and die, or drown while drinking water, or get hit by a car…”
In no time at all, I was finished cooking. I used a tray to carry the food upstairs. When I passed the liquor cabinet, I suddenly thought of something and pulled out two bottles of hard alcohol while I was there. I wasn’t any expert on alcohol, but at this point I knew the Zhao family well enough to expect that anything I found around the house was expensive enough to strike someone speechless.
After I placed the tray full with food, it was very heavy, and I had no choice but to use two hands to carry it. I wedged the two bottles of alcohol under my arms and thus made a very thrilling journey back to Zhao Yi Bo’s bedroom.
In the bedroom, Zhao Yi Xuan was still in the same position as when I had left.
I took a deep breath and walked over. I placed the tray on the table beside the bed, and then I lifted the two bottles of alcohol up and placed them directly on the table.
Zhao Yi Xuan suddenly turned his head and stared straight at me, his eyes looking as if something flashed through his mind.
With a honeyed tone, I goaded, “You must be tired. Why don’t you eat this bowl of noodles? It’s noodles with chicken. It’s quite yummy.” Seeing his exhausted and miserable look, my heart felt pained. I unintentionally ended up speaking to him as if I were coaxing a child.
He very obediently walked over to the table, picked up the bowl of noodles, and started eating.
I moved my attention to Zhao Yi Bo, who was lying on the bed. His face was still quite red, and it was clear that his fever hadn’t gone down yet. It seemed like the medications weren’t helping him very much, and I didn’t know if the method I had in mind would help at all. I just hoped that I could properly bring his fever down.
I climbed onto the bed and struggled to sit Zhao Yi Bo upright. However, he was too heavy, and I simply wasn’t able to move him.
I would have to count on Zhao Yi Xuan to come help me.
I looked at Zhao Yi Xuan, and he had already stopped eating his noodles. His entire face was looking at me with an expression of surprise. Please, what’s with that look? Don’t tell me he thinks that I must be a female molester taking advantage of his brother’s inability to resist during his illness to violate him?
That’s just too much. Sorry, I have no interest in beansprouts that haven’t even yet come of age.
“Hurry up and come help me.”
Seeing that he stopped eating, I hastily called him over. If Zhao Yi Bo continues to have a fever like this, I’m afraid he really will go looking for that old butler.
Zhao Yi Xuan obediently put down the bowl of chicken noodles that still had half left over, and he also climbed onto the bed to help me lift up Zhao Yi Bo.
Since I had a person helping me, I climbed off the bed to prepare the next step while I continued to direct Zhao Yi Xuan with what to do.
“Take off his clothes. Apart from his underwear, you can take everything off.”
As for myself, I opened the two bottles of alcohol and poured them into a small washbasin. After quite some time, I didn’t hear any sounds of undressing, so I glanced back towards the bed and saw that the kid simply hadn’t moved at all.
“Hurry!” I urged him again. After I confirmed that he obediently started peeling off Zhao Yi Bo’s clothes, I turned back to resume the work on my hands.
I carried the washbasin full of alcohol and a towel and returned to the bed. Zhao Yi Xuan had already efficiently stripped Zhao Yi Bo clean.
After soaking a towel in the alcohol, I started wiping Zhao Yi Bo’s body while explaining to Zhao Yi Xuan who was kneeling beside me: “During a fever, using rubbing alcohol to wipe the body can reduce the temperature. This can alleviate the symptoms of the fever.”
Zhao Yi Xuan quietly watched my movements.
I continued to wipe Zhao Yi Bo’s scalding skin like this, and I didn’t stop until I used up the entire basin of alcohol. My arms ached like they were going to fall off my body, but seeing how he was breathing somewhat easier and how his skin temperature was no longer boiling, I was still very grateful.
The sky was almost dark, and I still had work at night. Even though I really wanted to take the day off to stay and take care of the twins, I hadn’t notified my workplace in advance. I was afraid my boss wouldn’t be able to find someone to take my shift, so it was best if I just went.
Before leaving, I repeatedly drilled several important things into Zhao Yi Xuan, and it wasn’t until he could repeat word-for-word everything that I told him that I finally left the Zhao residence.
Ah… I’m still very worried though. After work is over, I’ll drop by one more time and bring some things for them to eat while I’m at it.
- IV drip — intravenous line that administers medications, usually only given in hospitals [back]
- Like many of the things you may find in an H novel… I don’t recommend trying to use rubbing alcohol to treat fever at home. While it is a popular folk remedy (particularly for children), it can have dangerous side effects too. Sources: