Kazuto Kirigaya was sitting at his computer, ironing out the kinks in the latest project he and his team were muddling through. Quite frankly, he thought that he was the only reliable programmer in his company, as other projects came begging and crying to him whenever something went wrong, but he'd never say that. Not to them, at least. He made a decent wage, a lot more than he really thought he deserved. He made around ¥375,000 a month (AN: this is a little over 3,400 USD), and that was more than enough to support him and his girlfriend on a month to month basis. Once he moved up the ranks, however, he'd be looking at about ¥100,000 more, but that was a few years, even decades down the road.

Just then, Shino unlocked the door to their apartment and took off her boots. Hanging her hat and outer uniform jacket on the nearby coatrack, she shuffled into the living room and splayed out on the couch that sat off to the right of Kazuto. Their apartment was quite small, they didn't need too much. The one bed one bath apartment had a quite open floorplan, with a kitchen, living, and dining area occupying one large room, with a bedroom door separating the two rooms. The bathroom was situated across the entrance doorway, and the laundry room was directly to the right of the doorway.

"Hey, welcome back," Kazuto greeted as he turned around. "How was work?"

Shino groaned, recalling the day's events. She and her partner were the first responders of a robbery call at a convenience store, and they sat outside of the store in question, waiting for the culprits. When no one came out, they had to enter the store, arms drawn. When the pair got into the store, the found nothing but a few scared citizens and a wide-open back door. Both of them bolted out of the back door and found the robbers sprinting away, and thus began the chase. Shino kept running while her partner fell back to call for backup. Shouting at the culprits to stand down as she bombed along the sidewalk toward them, she struggled to keep up a solid pace. The chase continued through multiple properties, the culprits knocking over various planters and objects to disrupt the exhausted policewoman. As quickly as it had started, it became a wild goose chase, with multiple backup units cutting off escape routes in an effort to capture the robbers.

Shino eventually managed to back the robbers into a corner, where the bulkier one gave her a solid sucker punch in attempt to allow the other to escape as well. Her lightning-quick reflexes and her surprisingly high pain tolerance from the years of VR gaming saved her though, and as the second robber pushed past her, she deftly pulled out her taser and shot the two electrodes into the escaping criminal at point-blank range, electrocuting the poor man. The first robber hesitated having seen his partner go down, which allowed Shino's partner to tackle the man to the ground and wrestle him into handcuffs. Nursing a sore abdomen and burning calves, Shino sank lower into the soft couch, letting her body rest.

"I don't know why I love this job so much," Shino began, recanting her workday to Kazuto. Upon being told of the assault upon her stomach, Kazuto's face flushed with concern for his girlfriend.

"Are you okay? Do you want an ice pack?"

Shino made an attempt to push herself up, but every single tendon she owned in her abdomen told her otherwise, and she slumped back on the couch. Shino looked at Kazuto with pleading eyes, putting her hands together in front of her. "Please?"

Kazuto got up, smiling at her exasperatedly. "Yeah, of course!"

"Thank you~"

Quickly returning with the ice pack, he sat down on the couch next to her, gesturing to her shirt. "Could you lift your shirt up for me?"

Shino obliged, blushing. They've seen each other naked a multitude of times, but she was still shy about showing off her body to her boyfriend of almost a year and a half. Examining her very toned stomach, Kazuto noted a pale region of purple beginning to form where she most likely got punched. "That doesn't look good," Kazuto noted. Then, he bent down and gently kissed the area, causing Shino to begin giggling which just as quickly became mixed in with groans.

"Oh god, it hurts to laugh…"

Kazuto smiled warmly and laughed with her, getting closer to her face. "Maybe this will help," he said, taking her lips with his. Shino settled into the kiss, savoring his taste that would be rudely interrupted by the sudden sensation of cold attacking her stomach, shocking her away from Kazuto.

"Jerk!" she exclaimed as she playfully swatted the side of Kazuto's head, causing Kazuto to recoil and laugh mischievously. Despite the polar ice being lain upon her stomach, she couldn't deny the near-immediate relief that she felt because of the ice pack on her gut. Sighing and letting her body adjust to the new temperature, she took over holding the ice pack on her stomach as Kazuto got up from his spot next to her. Shino felt the couch spring back up, leaving a small void of mild longing hanging over where Kazuto once was.

"I'm gonna finish up these last few chunks of code, and then I'll get started on dinner," Kazuto said, gently tossing her the T.V. remote.

"Alright, that's fine," Shino responded, turning the T.V on and flipping the channels.

It was times like this where Shino didn't feel good about herself. There she was, sitting on the couch, immobile and needing Kazuto to take care of her. She felt bad, as she didn't want him to break his focus on his career to cater to her. She wished that Kazuto didn't have to work so hard to support them. There were days where Kazuto would come back quite late at night, having missed the train, completely worn out from work that day. She wished that policework paid more so that he didn't have to support them seemingly alone. She loved her job, but it wouldn't be able to support them for much longer, seeing as the economy was on the rise.

Blankly flipping through the channels as she took the ice pack on and off of her stomach, she seriously began reevaluating her career, and wondering if she should get a job change to something that could support the two of them better. As she sank into a well of self-doubt, Kazuto saved his work and stood up, calling over his shoulder as he walked past the couch. "Hey, what do you want for dinner?"

"Anything's fine," Shino said half-heartedly.

Noting the subtle change in tone, Kazuto stopped in his tracks and looked over at his girlfriend, growing even more worried than before.

"Hey, what's wrong?"

"What? N-nothing's wrong, why?"

"Shino, we've been dating for like a year and a half, and I've known you even longer. What's wrong?"

"Like I said, nothing!" Shino countered more defensively than she had intended.

Kazuto said nothing, simply raising an inquisitive eyebrow at her, causing Shino to mentally squirm a bit before finally conceding.

"I… I'm considering getting a career change."

Kazuto was stunned. Her dream was to become a policewoman. Why change that now? She'd done vigorous training over the past couple of years to improve herself. She was in peak physical and mental condition because of all of that hard work that she had dedicated herself to. What happened? Not knowing how to react, Kazuto snorted, not sure whether or not she was joking. Silence.

Shit, she wasn't kidding after all. "Why? You've worked so hard to get this job, what happened?"

Shino paused, considering her words carefully. "It's… a really stressful job, and I don't think I can do it long term." It wasn't a total lie, but the real reason was buried underneath it.

Kazuto sighed and sat down on the other side of the couch, pulling his right foot into himself and leaving his left dangling down off of the couch. Facing her, his tone of voice softened as he spoke. "I wouldn't doubt that it's stressful, I can see it when you come home every day. But that's not the real reason, is it?"

"...it's a dangerous job, and I don't want you to worry about me?" This wasn't a lie either, she knew how much Kazuto worried about her. Alas, the truth remained buried.

"Shino."

Seeing as she wasn't going to win this fight, she sighed and looked down. She began slowly, not fully knowing how to articulate what she was feeling. "Well, being a policewoman doesn't exactly pay well. I think I want a job that makes a little bit more money so that we can support ourselves a little better."

That was it? Kazuto sighed a mental breath of relief, he expected something a lot heavier. "What do you mean 'support ourselves a little better'? We're doing just fine."

"Well, I see you leave at the same time as me and come home later than me, and I see how worn out you are at the end of the day. I think about how hard you must be working to support us financially, and I just wish I could do more…" she trailed off as frustrated tears began to bubble to the surface.

"Shino."

Shino looked up and turned to Kazuto.

"Do you like being a policewoman?"

"I… well…"

"Do you, or do you not?"

She sighed. "Yes, I do."

"Then that's all that matters! I don't care how much you make, just so long as you're happy with what you're doing."

"But-!"

"Let me finish," he said, gently shushing her. "Like I said, I don't care how much you make. If you're happy, I'm happy. I make enough right now as a junior programmer to support both of us, probably even if you didn't have a job. Later down the line, I'm gonna be making a lot more money once I get seniority in the company, and we're going to be able to support ourselves even more comfortably than we are now. What you're going to make isn't going to matter. Just so long as you're happy, alright?"

Shino sniffled, nodding.

"The only reason I work so dang hard is that I love my job. This is my dream job, and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Kazuto looked on as his girlfriend took in his words, absorbing their meaning.

"It's okay to depend on me. I don't mind one bit. Lean on me as much as you need to. I'll always be here, alright?"

With his final sentence, the dam broke, and Shino began quietly sobbing. Slowly but surely, she felt a tremendous weight being lifted off of her shoulders and replaced with a comforting embrace. Shino breathed in between a sob and inhaled his comforting scent. She sat and cried for a few minutes as Kazuto drew small circles on her back with his hand, holding her gently but securely, as if to protect her.

"It's gonna be okay, Shino," he cooed into the crown of her head.

They sat like that for a few minutes until Shino's cries subsided.

"Feeling better?" he asked, ruffling her hair.

She looked up, and her nose and cheeks were flushed a bright rosy color, eyes colored a gentle shade of red, and her now-crooked glasses were fogged up. She smiled, and despite having just cried her heart out, she felt no sadness, guilt, fear, or anything. Just pure, radiating love for the man holding her.

"Yeah, I think so."

"Alright, help me cook dinner, why don't you? You're probably way less likely to screw something up than I would be."

Shino giggled as Kazuto took her hand and led her into the kitchen.


Last of the burst-fire cross posts for this fandom! Thanks for reading!