Quality Check: Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi.
Only two days remained before Christmas. Even though my family never had the habit of celebrating western holidays, Christmas was on a weekend this year, so my dad specifically made a phone call to ask me to come home for the holidays.
Taking advantage of the fact that I didn’t have class in the afternoon, I prepared to make a trip to the department store to buy some gifts for my mom, dad, and little brother. Just when I set foot in the main entrance of the department store, my cellphone rang.
“Teacher, this is Zhao Yi Bo.”
“Is something up?” I was puzzled. After knowing them for half a year, this was my first time receiving a call from them.
“Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and we wanted to invite you to our place to celebrate.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t go. My dad asked me to come home.” I awkwardly told him.
“Don’t worry about it. The holidays are meant to be spent together with family in the first place.” His voice sounded disappointed, but he didn’t urge any further.
Hearing his disappointment, I suddenly felt bad. Even though I could go home for the holidays, they didn’t have anywhere to go. The old butler had died, and I’m afraid their parents weren’t coming to spend time with them for the holidays either. All they could do was watch over a bare and empty Zhao family mansion.
My soft spot for these two poor children made it impossible for me to leave them alone.
Thus, I could only call home and tell my parents that I couldn’t come back for the holidays. My mom ended up nagging me for two hours while on the phone, and by the time I felt like my ears were going deaf, my mom finally showed mercy and let me off.
I finally won the privilege to spend Christmas in Taipei.
After enduring such a tiresome bombardment, I simply didn’t have the energy or interest to continue shopping. I decided I’d go to the Zhao residence today, since I hadn’t visited in two or three days, and who knows how they were eating to scrape by these past few days.
Ah…. I’m such a natural workaholic. I’m not even married and I’ve already become a mom.
I returned to my small apartment to pack a few essentials and a change of clothes, went to the supermarket to buy some fresh meat and vegetables, and then I was slowly off on my way to the Zhao residence.
I used the key that the twins gave me to open the door to the Zhao residence. Ever since I stayed to take care of Zhao Yi Bo when he was sick, they started to see me as one of their own. Not only did they give me a key to the Zhao residence, but they even gave me the deposit booklet for their bank account.
These two idiots didn’t have any sense of insecurity. Weren’t they afraid that I’d have shady thoughts to transfer the funds and run away?
However, I still accepted it from them. I heard that their parents each had children with their lovers, so it was possible that one day they would completely abandon the twins. They may not even be willing to support them financially. The twins were not even sixteen yet, and they still needed to attend senior high school, university, and possibly even go into business later on. Saving more money was always a safer bet. Furthermore, they didn’t have the slightest notion of financial management. Whenever they went out to eat, they always had to dine at the finest restaurants. If they continued like this, sooner or later they would be homeless. It would be better if I acted as their guardian for now.
Even though the twins said they didn’t want to owe me too much, they asked me to take the expenses for the food I bought and wages for my tutoring directly from the deposit book; but I never once transferred the funds. Ever since the old butler passed away, I never charged money for their tutoring lessons again.
In the living room, I unexpectedly found Zhao Yi Bo and Zhao Yi Xuan, who shouldn’t have been home at this time of day. I raised my eyebrows and glared dangerously at them.
“You two actually skipped class?!”
“No, we didn’t. We had a mock exam at school today, so school ended early.” The person who explained was Zhao Yi Bo, as always. I didn’t know why Zhao Yi Xuan disliked talking so much; when he did talk, everything was so short.
“Oh.” I trusted that the twins wouldn’t lie to me.
“Didn’t you say you were going home?” Zhao Yi Bo asked me.
“My mom and dad suddenly said they didn’t want me coming home to mooch food off them. Too bad, I guess I’m stuck with you two.” I made up a lie because I didn’t want them to think that I didn’t go home because of them. Otherwise, they’d feel guilty about it.
I wasn’t sure if they believed me, but they didn’t ask any further.
I carried the groceries into the kitchen. By now, the kitchen was already the place I was most familiar with.
On Christmas Eve, I made a large hot pot. It’s rather bizarre to eat hot pot  on Christmas, but I wanted to eat it. I don’t know if they would eat it, but if they don’t like it, dumplings are still another option.
Hehe~~ I’m so patriotic. Look at me going as far as orientalizing the most important western holiday.
It turned out that the twins were not very picky, and they very gratefully gobbled up everything I made. I once again discovered another quality of theirs that my little brother at home lacked.
Everytime my mom and dad couldn’t come home on time because of work, I always ended up preparing food for my little brother. He liked to fiddle with the food and pick what he wanted, and he always claimed my cooking skills were terrible and untasty, even though he couldn’t cook at all. As a result, every time I ate with him at home, I’d always get this urge to pull him outside and bury him alive.
I took out the gifts that I prepared in advance and gave it to them. It wasn’t anything expensive. All it was were two scarves I handmade using the skills I learned from the time I attended the sewing club. The one for Zhao Yi Bo was yellow, while the one for Zhao Yi Xuan was sky blue.
The two of them also gave me gifts. Zhao Yi Bo gave me a platinum necklace that was inlaid with diamonds, and Zhao Yi Xuan gave me a Swiss brand watch. These two rascals have no sense of financial management! Wasn’t their deposit booklet with me? Where did they even get that much money?
I decided that once Christmas was over, I’d go to the store and return it all. Then, I’d deposit the money back into their bank account.
After eating a bizarre Christmas Eve dinner, I was in the middle of cleaning up the table when Zhao Yi Xuan suddenly took out a birthday cake from a box.
I looked at them doubtfully. Eating hot pot and dumplings on Christmas was already strange enough. To add a birthday cake on top of that… hehe~~ what a strange Christmas.
“Today is our birthday.” Zhao Yi Xuan saw through my thoughts, and explained.
“Huh?! You should have told me sooner! I didn’t prepare any birthday gifts.” I jumped and exclaimed.
Hearing my words, the two of them both laughed. Zhao Yi Bo often smiles, but this is the first time I ever saw Zhao Yi Xuan have such an obvious smile on his face.
This isn’t okay! I have to find something that I can give as a gift to them. Sweet sixteen is a very important birthday after all. I remember when I turned sixteen, my parents even gave me a 1,000 yuan  red packet.
I reached towards my neck, and fished out two platinum lockets. One was engraved “Luck”, and the other was engraved “Freedom”. They were gifts from both of my grandmothers when I was born, and I never took them off after all these years. Even though I was a little reluctant to part with them, I was determined to give it to them, and I still took the lockets off.
“You don’t have to send us any other gifts. We already received your gift.” Zhao Yi Xuan held the locket and quietly said.
“Christmas presents and birthday presents are entirely different.” I insisted, thinking that the other gift he was referring to was my Christmas present — those somewhat shabby scarves.
I helped them each put on their lockets, then sang happy birthday for them, and prepared to eat cake.
Today, everyone was very happy. However, the smiles on the twin’s faces were a little strange, and I, oblivious as ever, simply never noticed.