Morning came, and Hank awoke alone. He heard Rio and Leanne having a conversation in the living room and, after donning his boxer briefs, he cracked open Rio's bedroom door a tiny bit to listen in.
Rio sighed to cover a sob. "I really need you, Nushi. Do you have to leave so soon?"
"It's only for one day," Leanne said with love. "I'll be home before you know it."
Rio was borderline hysterical. "You're not mad or anything, are you? I know I've not been good. Are you mad at me? Are you?"
"I am never mad at you. You know that! You are far too pretty for me to be mad."
"Am I still your wan chan?"
Hank next heard what could only be interpreted as the sound of the two women making out. Leanne then let out a laugh.
"You're my wan chan, Peeps."
Rio whispered loud enough for Hank to hear. "I wish I could say I love you, but Hank is listening to us with a funny look on his face. Oh! And now I think he's pissed!"
Hank felt his alabaster white face flush as Rio revealed his spying. He entered the hallway more fully, finding little Rio nestled comfortably in Leanne's big lap. Both women were dressed for work, with Rio in a blue skirt and Leanne wearing gray slacks. It was hard for Hank to maintain a calm expression as he came to grips with what he saw.
Rio is in love with Leanne. He could see it in her eyes.
Leanne spoke to Hank with authority. "I still don't know you as well as I'd like, but I'd appreciate it very much if you looked after Rio while I'm gone. Would you do that for me, please? You seem like a nice man, and she very much needs a nice man in her life."
Leanne messed with Rio's hair as a mother might do when she was about to give her child strict instructions. "And one she can be nice back to," she said to Rio's face.
"You're right about that," Hank said with distraction, having an internal debate over what to think or do or say.
"Yes. Thank you," Leanne said. "So can you be that man? She's trembling in my arms right now, and I have yet to even finish packing."
"I understand. I've been hanging out with her almost every day since you've been gone, so I know she's going to miss you."
Leanne kissed Rio's forehead. "It will only be one more day, Peeps. Let Hank take care of you. Okay?"
"Okay," Rio said, burrowing further into Leanne's lap as she nestled against her cleavage.
"And be nice to him! Do you hear me? Rio?"
"Yes, Nushi. I will be nice to him."
"Don't hit him and don't yell at him, and don't you dare to cuss him out. Behave for me while I'm gone, and I promise to be nice to you all night long when I get back."
Hank averted his gaze as the lovers purred and snuggled. "You'll be home as soon as possible, right?" he asked Leanne after he figured they'd been at it long enough.
"You won't even know I'm gone." She then spoke to Rio. "I'll be with you soon."
Rio disagreed. She squirmed greatly, making Leanne kiss her repeatedly on the forehead. "Please. Just don't. Not now. Don't go."
Leanne spoke between her kisses, and over Rio's words. "I can't. I have to. It's just a day. You sometimes leave me alone for a week or more."
"I know! I know! I'm sorry!" Rio clutched at Leanne's clothing as if Hank were there to drag her away to an orphanage. "I'm not a good person sometimes, and so for that I'm sorry."
Leanne pried Rio's face from her chest to speak into her eyes. "You are to never apologize to me. I am always okay, no matter what you do."
"I know. I'm so… I mean, I just…" Rio finally gave in. "Thank you, Nushi. Dōmo arigatō."
They shared another romantic hug as Hank stared at his feet. Not much of what Leanne had scolded Rio for seemed to sink in, as she teased his flummoxed face with a little too much sass.
"Don't you like this as a guy? Come on! We're hot! Get into it!"
Leanne chastised Rio, patting her on the hip. "I told you to be nice."
"Oh. Okay. I'm sorry."
"You'd better be apologizing to Hank."
"Rio?" Hank asked politely, before adding in a provoking way. "My little Honey Cup?"
"Yes, my great big studly Hank?"
"Don't apologize to me either. Got it?"
"Ah, okay, I guess. But what if you deserve it?"
"Well, I suppose if I deserve it, I don't want you thinking you can make up for what you've done by simply saying you're sorry. I want you to prove it."
"Honey Cup?" Leanne asked Rio while laughing, doing some teasing herself.
Leanne held Rio's face fully in both hands. She gave the appearance of a proud mom whose unpopular daughter was receiving her first call from a gentlemanly suitor. Despite Leanne being the youngest person in the room, with Rio being the oldest, Leanne's size made the image appropriate. The fact that Rio enjoyed being treated like a child made it all the funnier.
"Are you Hank's honey cup, my little wan chan?" Leanne asked while tucking a wayward lock of hair behind Rio's ear.
"Well, I don't know. He seems to mean it."
Rio snorted. She faked like she wanted Leanne to let go of her face.
She tried to turn her head and glare at Hank, but Leanne wouldn't allow it. "Be nice!" Leanne commanded, countering Rio's combativeness with a motherly tone.
"I have also been working with her on being nicer to people," Hank said to Leanne, in the tone of a father. "We call each other nicknames. You know… endearments and such. I sometimes call her Honey Cup to teach her to behave."
"Well good for you! I was right. You are a nice young man!"
Rio wanted to give Hank a death-ray glare so bad she could taste it, but Leanne held fast to her head. "Ach!" she groused again, louder than before. "Hai!"
Both Hank and Leanne ignored her. "Thank you," Hank said to Leanne, bowing a bit while smirking at Rio's wrath.
"There now, Peeps," Leanne said to Rio while admiring Hank's bow. "How about that? Can you be that polite?"
Rio submitted to Leanne. "Yes, Nushi. I can be polite."
"What do you call him when he calls you Honey Cup?"
"I call him Loverboy."
"Ooh! Loverboy?" Leanne turned her eyes toward Hank. "Is he your lover now?"
"No," Hank said. "I'm not. And she isn't being nice when she calls me that. I've asked her not to many times."
"I call him Sweetheart!" Rio blurted to keep from getting scolded.
"Is that better?" Leanne asked Hank. "Does she call you Sweetheart?"
"Well, she has been calling me sweet, but since we're sleeping together, I guess I am her sweetheart." Hank bowed his head again. "If that's okay with you."
"Of course!" To Rio, Leanne said, "I'm proud of you!"
"We're not sleeping together!" Rio said at the same time, loud enough to be heard over Leanne.
"Oh please. He came out of your bedroom this morning. And I saw him take off his clothes last night before gettng in your bed. Do you mean to say you pushed him to the floor and made him lay with the dog?"
"No. But we… we only slept together, and then that is all." Rio tried explaining further, but ended up only grumbling. "We're not sleeping together," she repeated, exasperated.
"Be nice, Rio-chan," Leanne mothered.
"I am being nice!"
Leanne spoke to Hank. "Is she being nice right now?"
"Well, she's doing the best she can."
"Yes. Well, she must do better. Be nicer to Hank, Peeps, or I won't let you be my wan chan when I get home."
Rio's face twisted in all sorts of ways, but no sounds came from her mouth. She then spoke in a pleasant tone. "Just don't go. Please Leanne. I promise to be very nice if you don't leave me now."
Leanne stood up, making Rio stand as well. "I have to. I'll be back tomorrow. Let Hank take care of you."
After straightening the pleats in her slacks, Leanne breathed a sigh of relief. "All right then," she said. "I'll call if I can." She fussed about the apartment. "It's going to be okay. Now I'm no dog owner, but I think if Bumbles doesn't go outside he's going to pee himself."
Rio readied herself and the the dog for a long walk in cool weather. "Are you coming, my sweet?" she asked Hank, her voice dripping with so much honey that he could have gagged.
"No. I'm in my underwear. I want a shower. And coffee. I'm staying with Leanne."
- Upright. In the Den.
- Sci-Fi Action Adventure, propelled by a little Romance.
"Arise!" The star-studded empress of night
Gave me the keys to her city.
Bathed me in breath, told me of plight,
Force-fed my conscious with pity.
Pointed toward East, down past the yard
Through revolving doors of her courthouse.
Megaphones cry. "A guinea a head!
"Everything's fun at the Circus!"