Shin couldn't really place a finger on when Noi's picture hanging got out of hand.
Truthfully, all he remembered was the pictures being taken. For the longest time, he assumed that the pictures had made their way into some album, unbeknownst to him. He figured that, wherever they went, it didn't entirely matter. It was during a brief period of time that he had stopped visiting his partner's room, too haunted by the intimacy of being in her own home, too haunted by the noticeable smell that she carried amplified within the space. He didn't know entirely how to handle the feelings being in there brought, so he didn't bother to go in there.
He let Noi come to him instead.
The only reason he ever truly found out about Noi's picture-collecting was simple; one morning, he woke up, and his chest was practically swelling inside of him. It was an irritating feeling, one he scratched his breast and heart at to try and ease. Yet, it never left, and it took him a bit to realize the entire source of the pain. For once, he was baffled, but his suspicions came up correct as he neared his partner's room. The swelling in his chest really only increase upon arrival, and Shin was shocked to realize that something was wrong with Noi for once.
Turkey had spoken to him before, maybe once or twice. He'd come over occasionally to eat with Noi, but Noi and Turkey were far closer than he was with the chef. Turkey was always glad to have him, though. She enjoyed his company akin to a mother, or an aunt. Shin couldn't remember when he had started asking questions, but he did.
"You mentioned how one time you brought dinner for Noi. Because she was ill,"
Turkey only really laughed from the heart, "You didn't know? She can get sick, oh, yes. But when she does, it's like the devils themselves cursed her. Cursed her for being an A-grade smoke-producer. A rare healer."
Shin had only nodded at the time.
As he stood outside his partner's door, though, he was struggling to even bring his hand up to knock. If she was asleep, he didn't want to disturb her. If she was in extreme pain of some kind, he didn't want to stress her out even more. Why should he? After all of the healing and protecting she had done for him, taking unnecessary hits just to spare Shin of an extra slash to the skin or two, he had no right to bother her while she felt ill. He'd feel terrible, like a burden for her.
Then again, she always healed him. Shin could never relieve that debt. She healed him when they were younger, and she still did to this day. Even when he would make lunch for them both in his own room, when he'd nick his finger with the knife, and she'd pad over unusually quietly. When she'd wrap her hands around his arm and hand to assess the damage, before placing her lips eerily close to his hand and blowing smoke over the trivial cut. She wouldn't leave it to scab or leave any room to heal. When she healed him, she did so completely, every single time, whether it meant she was coughing and gagging from her own smoke or not.
He needed to take care of Noi. There was no excuse for him not to, and it was only that reason he built up enough confidence to knock on her door, trying to patiently wait for a possible response.
He eventually heard the most pathetic, "Who?"
Shin swallowed, bringing his hand down from the door, pressing his ear closer instead, "Noi, it's me."
Upon entry, Shin was stunned. Lined almost every wall was pictures of both her and him, the two of them individually and together. Shin wondered how much time Noi had spent with the family photographer, begging for copies.
He knew she was sentimental, but he never figured to this degree. He couldn't even blame her.
Flurries of memories passed Shin. From the time they first met, the first partnership they shared. Their first vacation together, their largest kill count together. It was extremely overwhelming, and yet he understood why Noi had every single framed and hung. It eased him, made him smile to himself. So caught up in the memories, he practically forced himself to finally shut the door and pace to Noi's room.
It was no different in there, either. Pictures, new and old, but Noi was nowhere close to looking at them. Her bed was an entire mess, with the duvet tangled with about four, no, maybe five other blankets. Pillows were out of place, and about the only thing Shin could make as being her own body was a tangled mess of silver hair. Whatever pillow she was buried into was getting a full face of her, really. For once, there were pill bottles on her nightstand, but it didn't seem like they were doing much for her, and she knew they weren't too.
Shin let out a sigh, moving to her side.
"Noi, look at me."
She groaned, but obliged. Shin never knew her as cranky in the mornings, no, she was more like a full fireworks show, ready to start the day. It was almost saddening to see her so miserable, so fed up with whatever was going on with her. Had he been braver, he would've not just looked at her with a warm gaze. He would've held her face in his hands and comforted her as best as he could, he would've told her outright that he wasn't going to leave her side until she felt better.
Instead, he only brought his hand to her forehead. Sure enough, she was burning up. Shin wasn't sure he had actually ever felt Noi that warm, and he wasn't about to let her feel any worse. He pretended not to hear her weakly mutter 'Senpai' under her breath.
"How are you feeling?"
"Take a fucking hint,"
Shin would've scolded her for an attitude before, but he could really only laugh, "That bad, huh?"
Noi had rolled over onto her side, weakly placing her hands onto Shin's arm. Shin wasn't sure if she just didn't like opening her eyes to see the sun peeking into her room or if her head was really pounding that badly. She let her head fall back onto the pillow, clicking her tongue.
"Can you call Turkey? About dinner. I'm not going to be any better by tonight. I don't wanna hold up your day,"
Shin narrowed his eyes at her, "You're not holding me up, Noi. Don't even assume you are."
"What work has En given you for the day?"
"I'm not working, Noi. You're ill."
Noi peeked her eyes open again, eyebrows slightly raised. She had moved her arm to block out some of the window's sun, but she was looking directly at Shin. He had the same old stern gaze he did when he was rambling about statistics and calculations. She couldn't help but weakly smile at him.
"Since when are you the healer, huh, Shin?"
Noi was thankful, though. She was stubborn, but not stubborn enough to admit that she would've been worse off without Shin by her side. Thankfully, the 'spell', as she called it, was gone by now. She was back to work mode after enough of Turkey's homemade soups and Shin fussing over her drinking her water, with an extra blanket or two and a wet cloth on her forehead.
She had also convinced Shin to lay next to her and watch her medical-romance show. Shin seemed vaguely into it, thankfully. That helped with the recovery too.
They had agreed to meet at the manor's cafe for breakfast, and Noi happily obliged and lost sleep over it. She was excited, to say the least. It would be nice to be able to leave bed again.
"Hey, Senpai! Shin, Shin-Senpai!"
Shin turned her head to her, already paying for what he knew Noi would want. He shuffled through his cash, but his attention was more towards Noi jogging up next to him, with a smile she shone at him every morning, one that could convince Shin that every day they spend together is like the first day to her. He focused his attention back down to the cash, tugging it out and handing it over to the cashier. He was too bashful for eye contact, but he was smiling to himself, looking down onto his wallet for a moment before shutting it and placing it in his pocket.
"Glad you're feeling better, Noi."
"Glad you noticed!"
Noi didn't miss the tiny photo of her he had kept in his wallet, and she really only smiled more about it. She'd never admit to him that she knew about the photo, both to save him from his own bashful embarrassment and her own excitement over it. Noi wondered when it had made its way into his wallet, to begin with. Seeing as the picture looked as if it had been wiped of blood several times, though, Noi could only figure it's been there a while.
"Noi. You never told me about all of the pictures in your room. I didn't want to bring it up while you were ill."
Noi let out a husky laugh. She never really knew about Shin's, either.
"I don't ever want to forget a moment we spend together, I guess!"
Shin's little smile only grew, and he pushed Noi's own coffee over to her.