Flu Season (Private)
Alex attempted to pay attention to the book in his hands but it was a useless pursuit. He felt like crap today. He thought he'd just had a little head cold for the past day or two but when he'd woken up this morning from a night of very little sleep he knew he'd been wrong on that score.
His muscles were achy and sore and his energy level was existent. His morning yoga routine had been impossible to complete. It was difficult enough when your nose kept running every time you bent over, but with the room spinning it was even worse.
Ugh. The chill he felt under his skin was hint enough. Flu season. After taking his temperature and grimacing at the triple digits on the thermometer he dragged himself to the phone and made a quick call to Marie. Fortunately she was willing to mind the store for him for the next day or two. It meant shorter hours since she had to close it to go to class in the evening, but Alex knew better than to try and work retail when he was sick.
Normally wild horses couldn't make him take a sick day but he didn't want to spread this. Eiryk couldn't get sick from it; he could stay at home until he got over it. That was the responsible thing to do. Next he called Aishe. She wouldn't mind running his yoga and tai chi classes for him, thank goodness. He'd never asked her to do anything like that before but she'd been one of his first students and she knew the steps he asked her to go through. Nothing difficult, just a light workout in each class would suffice until he was able to get back to it.
With those chores done he dosed himself with medicine and curled up on the couch with his book, a glass of water, a box of tissues, and the garbage pail. He'd been sitting there for the entire afternoon now, and he didn't think he'd either napped or read anything. He should probably eat something, but his stomach recoiled at he thought. He didn't think he was going to be sick but he sure didn't want to chance it. On top of that he was running out of tissues and his nose and throat felt raw.
Hooray flu season.
With a groan and after some delay he pulled himself out of the bed rubbed his eyes, scratched his chest and stumbled barefoot into the kitchen. The automatic coffee maker was working its magic as he blindly made his way toward it only half acknowledging Alex as he passed. He inhaled deeply of the robust aroma and the fog thought about clearing. Pouring a cup and holding onto it like a life line Eiryk drank and savored regardless of how hot it still was.
Blinking again he looked for a clock. He had an early consult tonight and didn't want to be late. He probably already was. It seemed like he -always- overslept when he needed to be on time. Finding one, but realizing that the display still didn't make sense to him he went to sit on the couch next to Alex. Leaning over he softly, sleepily kissed his partner and flopped next to him.
"Morning sunshine. What time is it?"
Taking another sip of coffee and realizing the cup felt a lot like Alex's lips Eiryk squeezed his eyes shut and tried to piece together what that meant.
"Should I turn the temperature down?"
No, that wasn't right, Alex was under a blanket. That meant he was cold. Cold Alex, hot lips, something wasn't quite right he just couldn't take the next step. It would come to him in a minute.
As Eiryk stumbled back and kissed him Alex hesitated, but then returned the kiss as he realized, with some pleasure, that Eiryk could not catch the flu from him. That was reassuring.
"Six-ish, I think," Alex said, squinting at the clock. He swallowed audibly, his throat dry, and tried to make his next words sound more like him instead of Baritone Alex.
"It's fine," he said. It wasn't really, but adjusting the temperature wasn't going to help. First Alex was hot, then he was cold, then he was hot... it was the nature of the beast. He'd had the flu before.
"You have your meeting tonight, right?"
Alexander reached out, grabbed a tissue, and blew his nose... again. He tugged the blanket around his shoulders and nestled down a bit. He'd make himself some tea and get some sleep while Eiryk was gone. The apartment would be nice and quiet, Eiryk wouldn't have to tiptoe around for fear of waking him.
"Good I didn't oversleep.â€
He muttered, not that Alex would let him over sleep. To be fair Alex would -try- not to let him over sleep there was never any guarantee that he could be awakened, that was hit and miss in the extream.
Alex sounded funny.
Just for a second he sounded better as he continued to speak but the idea floated through Eiryk's head as he continued to nurse his coffee.
"Are you sure? You felt hot.â€
Humans were always warm though, it was something Eiryk loved about Alex he felt warm and alive and vibrant. Looking over at his partner Eiryk slowly realized Alex didn't quite -look- warm, alive and vibrant. He looked hot and worn and tired. Carefully Eiryk rubbed Alex's knew with the hand that wasn't full of his coffee cup.
When Alex blew his nose that is when Eiryk started to click things into place. Hot, blanket, snot, his boyfriend was sick.
"I do have a consult tonight but I can reschedule, I mean, you don't look so good.â€
It had taken Eiryk a minute or two to realize Alex wasn't moving off the couch; in another minute he'd realize Alex was supposed to be at his studio teaching a yoga class right now. Alex was trying to figure out a way to play down the whole flu thing. It wasn't a big deal now, he didn't think, but back in the day ('the day' being Eiryk's middle ages), it had been a killer. Flu epidemics killed thousands.
He gave his boyfriend a bleary smile. "I'll be all right," he said. "Just a little cold. A touch of flu maybe. Nothing to worry about. Lots of rest and hydration and all that. Go to your meeting, I'm just going to try to sleep, or watch some TV if I can't."
He didn't think he could go far anyway. He'd had a temperature in excess of 102, which wasn't horrible but it sure did sap your energy. The kitchen wasn't far but it felt like miles. Uphill.
For a moment Alex was tempted to ask Eiryk to stay home with him. It wouldn't be so bad, would it, to have someone take care of him, even just a little. But pride reared its ugly head and self-sufficient Alex stubbornly told himself to get a grip. He was hardly dying. He had taken care of himself since he was a teenager, and he would take care of himself tonight.
He reached for the tissues and blew his nose again, coughing afterward, wishing his nose would stop running. Even the nice soft tissues were making it raw. Being sick sucked. He was almost never ill; in fact the last time he had been he'd still lived in DC. Healthy living made a huge difference, but he supposed even the strongest body caught some thing now and then.
"Are you sure... I can reschedule or get someone else to take it."
He asked dubiously while more or less lying through his teeth. This was a major project and they had specifically asked for him and setting up a meeting had been a nightmare. Alex, however, was more important. He didn't want to go super clingy though Eiryk new that his boyfriend could be very proud and independent. It had been a bit of a battle to get him to move in.
Eiryk flinched a bit at the nose blowing, not one of humanities most attractive habits, and frowned even more as Alex coughed. None of this sounded good at all. He felt Alex's forehead, he was burning up and you could see the beginnings of raw spots around his nose from the tissues. He really didn't want to leave. It seemed wrong, although, he also wasn't as clear on what to do with a sick human as he should have been.
He'd have to look some of this basic stuff up. Other people did it, why couldn't he? Just because he hadn't needed too in a number of decades didn't mean he shouldn't know now. Since science and technology was always advancing he did, at least, assume that most of what he did know was out of date. No one talked about herbal poultices much any more, although herbal teas seemed to be back in favor. He was pretty sure cow's urine was out, of course that had always been for wounds anyway not illness.
His reassurance was cut short by another coughing fit, and that was interrupted by the need to blow his nose - again. God, he hated being sick. Eiryk reached over and felt his forehead and Alex raised an eyebrow at him, scowling a little. Sickness made him cranky.
He tried to rearrange the pillows and blanket to a more pleasing configuration but they weren't having it; they remained bunched up beneath him and he just didn't have the energy to care that much. He laid his head down, closed his eyes, and sighed.
"I'm just going to sleep for a little while. Or make some tea. Or something."
He had some ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet; that would help the fever and the achiness. The rest would just have to go away on its own. The flu was a virus; that meant his body just had to kick it out. No drugs could kill it, really. Alex knew that much.
He waved his hand weakly at Eiryk. "I'm fine."
"Generally you are quite fine but you don't look it today.â€
Eiryk quipped with somewhat forced cheerfulness looking down at his boyfriend who was pale, had dark circles under his eyes and looked more or less grungy. He did not look fine in any sense of the word. Gently shifting Alexander about Eiryk rearranged the pillows and blankets hoping to make Alex more comfortable.
"OK, you sleep. Did you want me to put on a movie for you?â€
Making sure the controls for the TV were in reach Eiryk went to the kitchen and started water for tea. He wasn't as good at tea as he was coffee, but he could manage. That done Eiryk disappeared into the bedroom to dress and clean up. He reappeared once to brew the tea and set it in easy reach for Alex.
Finally, once every hair in place, in an impeccably tailored gray suit and perfectly polished shoes Eiryk paused to kiss Alex on the forehead. He still felt hot.
"Get some rest Ã¤lskling I'll be home soon. Call me if you need me.â€
It wasn't easy for Eiryk to walk out and leave Alex alone when he was sick. But there really wasn't much he could do. It sucked feeling so helpless.
It was nice, he had to admit, to be taken care of. Eiryk was sweet, the way he put the controls within reach and made Alex a mug of pretty strong mint tea before getting ready to go. Alex wrapped his hands around the hot mug and inhaled the steam as Eiryk bent down to kiss him goodbye.
"Have a good meeting," he said. "Don't worry, I'm just going to try to sleep."
He patted his cell phone, which sat nearby on the table, to reassure Eiryk that if he needed anything he'd call. It didn't need to be said, but MARI was also available, so Alex was only a few words away from assistance if he should need it, even with Eiryk gone. It had taken him some time to get used to having an AI ever present but he'd adjusted just fine, and Alex didn't hesitate to use MARI on occasion when he needed information she could provide.
Once Eiryk had left Alex sipped at his tea a little bit and then put it down. Sliding down on the couch he closed his eyes and tried to doze off but it was tough. His nose kept running, his coughing wouldn't let up, and he was freezing cold and sweltering hot in turns. It was the nature of the beast. At least he was getting the flu early; maybe this would be it for the year. A flu shot might have done some good but Alex was almost never sick so he didn't bother. He'd reconsider next year. Or maybe next week.
Of course as soon as the consult ended he'd blown off the rest of the day so he could go home and take care of Alex. He'd stopped to do some shopping. He had the raw ingredients for chicken soup, more kinds of cold medicine and things that claimed to relieve flu symptoms than you could count, a brand new vaporizer with some aroma therapy oils to diffuse in them, hot water bottles, is pack, pain relievers, more tea, and anything else that he thought might help. It took up many many bags.
It had been hard to manage all of them and he's stumbled and shuffled into the elevator, had a lovely little chat with MARI and rode up stairs. While he did manage to get the door open Eiryk also managed to fall flat on his face amid all of his purchases rather than walking inside like a normal person.
Standing back up and gathering things back up he checked to see if Alex was asleep and hoped he hadn't woken his boyfriend up.
Alex bolted upright, throwing the blanket away in alarm, and looked over to the doorway. Eiryk was flat on his face amidst bags of groceries. He blinked at his boyfriend as Eiryk picked himself up.
"Eiryk?" He asked, still somewhat groggy. "Are you okay? Was the meeting all right? And what the hell is all of that?"
Ordinarily he would have gotten up to help but he was sick, and felt like he'd been run over by a steamroller. He was willing to give himself a by. Alex didn't like to be ill but he knew the first couple of days would be annoying and then he'd get over it. It was just a matter of waiting. He hated waiting.
Damned. Eiryk felt bad about waking Alex up, some day he was going to learn to walk through the door without nearly breaking his neck.
"Do you feel any better? The consult was went great I think we got the job away from Stinson and James.â€
Stinson and James being a much larger design firm in Nachton. Eiryk had a certain amount of animosity for Timothy James who he maintained was not gay at all and only pretended to be to get clients. He did like Penelope Stinson a great deal though so he didn't actively poach jobs from them, he just did his best to steal them when they were in direct competition.
As he spoke Eiryk bustled about the apartment putting things away, set up the vaporizer and added some mint, eucalyptus and lavender oils which he was told would be soothing and help open Alex's sinuses. He managed to get it set up without dropping it or spilling the reservoir and considered that a major accomplishment.
"Here, the pharmacist told me these would help.â€
There was a throat spray and good old Vick's vapor rub as well as new even softer tissues with bacterial guard and more Vick's in them.
Having set those down he noticed that Alex's tea was cold and picked it up to go make a fresh cup.
He winced and shook his head at Eiryk though when asked how he felt. It was a bad move; his head was pounding. "I feel like crap," he croaked, "but that's just how it goes. I'll get better in a few days."
It was impossible to go back to sleep with Eiryk puttering around doing - who knows what. Alex closed his eyes and then opened them again as an overwhelming scent filled the apartment. "What the hell is that smell?"
It was like aromatherapy overload; even he thought it was too much and his nose was all stuffy. He grabbed a tissue and used it, raising his eyebrows as Eiryk dropped a few more items in front of him. "Uh. Okay. Thanks."
He winced when Eiryk turned away with his mug of cold tea. Alex hated Vick's... just the smell of it generally made him want to retch. He reached out and nudged it away just in case it smelled through the container. The tissues looked equally vomit-inducing. He knew Eiryk just wanted to help, so he wasn't going to be a complainer. He just closed his eyes and tried to resettle himself as best he could.
"Thank you for shopping for me, Eiryk. That was sweet."
He might not use half of it, or any of it, but Eiryk clearly wanted to take care of him. It was a kind gesture and Alex appreciated it - as much as he could while feeling cranky and ill.
"Did you want me to put a movie or something on for you?â€
Eiryk asked as he again fluffed Alex's pillows and spread the blanket out again and neatly tucked it around Alex. While he was at it he gently felt Alex's forehead, which was still hot. He really didn't know what else to do for his partner, but there must be something.
Not seeing anything else to do right there and then he went back to the kitchen and went back to work on the soup. Knowing Alex was in no shape to help if he accidentally lopped off a finger or something he was exceptionally careful with the knife.
"I could make you a hot toddy if you'd rather. That would help you sleep. Or I got some of those effervescing things for your symptoms.â€
Maybe he should fill the hot water bottle too. Well as long as he was thinking about it, he again watched his hands and did fill it, wrapped it in a hot water bottle cozy he'd bought and tucked it in with Alex.
"Seriously, Eiryk, what is that smell? Even I can smell it from here."
He noticed his boyfriend had avoided answering the question, which worried him because that meant he either didn't know, or he did know but also knew Alex wouldn't like it. Alex groaned softly as Eiryk messed with the blanket and the pillows and then felt Alex's head for at least the fifteenth time. He gently batted Eiryk's hand away.
"Honestly, babe, we have a thermometer. Your hand isn't going to read my temperature."
Alex leaned forward, plucked the thermometer from the table where he'd rested it earlier when he hadn't felt like traveling all the way back to the bathroom, and popped it into his mouth by way of demonstration, glaring at his boyfriend.
"It workf juft fine," he grumbled around it.
Eiryk bustled back into the kitchen and soon there were food prep noises happening. Alex recognized them... thump, thump, whack, thump, crash... and usually an ouch or two accompanied by the smell of blood. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Alex looked down at the thermometer when it beeped. 101 wasn't terrible; there'd been a fever reducer in the last pill he'd taken and Rome wasn't built in a day.
"Eiryk... what are you doing? I don't want to watch a movie. Or a hot toddy. Or an effervescing anything. Really. I just want to sleep a little."
And for his blood pressure to go down. Alex was struggling to be patient and understanding; Eiryk was worried about him and trying to take care of him. That was very sweet, but Alex didn't want this fussing. Had he really thought it might be nice to be pampered? It was a pain in the ass!
"Just put it away," he suggested. "Grab a book, turn the lights down, and sit here while I nap. I promise I'll ask you if I need anything."
Hoping he'd gotten through to Eiryk this time, Alex lay his head down once more, ducked beneath the covers enough so the lights were dim, and tried to do exactly what he'd said he was going to.
Maybe he should have tried one or two and started with all three. He didn't think there was a way to turn it down down, which was a bit awkward. Of course he could dump out all the water and start over. That wouldn't bee too hard.
Pulling his hand away as Alex slapped at it Eiryk did his best to ignore Alex's snappishness. Of course, he wasn't feeling well so that excused most of it, if not all. But he took the hint at least for a bit and let Alex take his own temperature.
"I'm making chicken soup. I've got the recipe right here. It won't take long, I'll keep it down.â€
That really was his plan, to finish to soup and then just sit down and read, or knit or something. He just wanted to be there if Alex needed him. It promised to be a quick and easy recipe.
Eiryk did not take to his suggestion to just sit and read. Alexander sighed and lay his head down again, covering his eyes with a raised arm. "I really don't think cooking is a good idea," he insisted.
He tried to tell his stomach to calm down as he sighed, coughed, blew his nose, and attempted to somehow sleep.
Plucking an old novel off one of the bookshelves and sat quietly at the end of the sofa with Alex. At least that was his plan and he stuck with it for a good ten minutes before he got up to put on some quiet music, it wasn't anything terribly notable but it was rather relaxing, he thought it might help Alex sleep.
A few minutes later he reached over and straightened Alex's blanket, he still felt a bit warm to Eiryk. So he got up and went to the fridge where he'd stashed a few cool packs to help with the whole fever thing. Thora, of course, thought this was all highly entertaining and took to following Eiryk as he more or less paced around the apartment looking for things to do for Alex. Eiryk shooed her away as he placed the pack on Alex's forehead.
She yipped and spun around a few times when Eiryk got up again and went to the phone and called for some hot soup to be delivered, that was probably better any way, he'd never made soup and would much rather do it with Alex than on his own.
Before he sat down again he brought and extra pillow and blanket from the bed room. The blanket he spread on the back of the sofa so it could be easily grabbed if his boyfriend needed it, the pillow he tucked in, or tried to, next to Alex where it looked like he could use more support. There had to be something else he could do. Some way to help Alex get over this.
"That's kind of nice," he said, trying to be encouraging to Eiryk, who really was trying his best.
Ah. Maybe now he could rest. It was nice and quiet; the light was very dim, which was nice. Eiryk was reading by it, which had always made Alex jealous. Damn vampire senses - Eiryk could read in much lower light than Alex could. Now this, he could handle. He wanted Eiryk's company, that was enjoyable. But it ended all too soon, because apparently they needed music.
And then Eiryk smoothed out an imaginary wrinkle.
And then something cool touched his forehead and his eyes snapped open. "Thanks."
He winced; he didn't sound very thankful and he hadn't meant to come off so abrupt. "Eiryk, really, this isn't necessary. Please just sit down."
But Eiryk was already on the phone with an excited fox bouncing around him. Ordering food, it sounded like. Alex resolved never to get sick again. It was way too much trouble. Would it look bad if he locked himself in the bedroom? Maybe he'd go into the guest room; he didn't want to lock Eiryk out of their own sleeping area.
He tried to settle down again, only to sigh as Eiryk brought another blanket, leaving it on the back of the couch and then trying to stuff a pillow in with the rest of them. Alex sat up again, running his hand through his hair in frustration.
"Eiryk," he said, his tone as patient as he could muster. It sounded funny, with his nose all stopped up and his throat sore. "I love you very much. You know that, right?"
He waited a moment and then continued. "But I would very much like to sleep undisturbed. I'll get much better in a couple of days." He grabbed a tissue, blew his nose yet again, and tossed it in the trash before adding pointedly, "Maybe you should go out and find something to do. This can't be fun for you. You haven't seen Rowan in a while, right? I bet he's around."
Actually the odds of that were fairly slim. Rowan worked long hours and was frequently away from Liefde. But Alex was desperate here. He was very close to insisting Eiryk go elsewhere. Or locking himself in a room, which would only traumatize his boyfriend. At least this way it sounded more like he was trying to help Eiryk out... sort of.
"Honestly.... I don't know where Rue is. I haven't seen him in a while."
That bothered Eiryk made him feel like a bad friend, but he was also used to he and Rowan going rather long periods of time with out any contact. Years. Of course usually when that happened they weren't in the same city or even country, rather than in the same building, but it didn't leave him terribly alarmed.
"We'll look he and Christian up in a few days when you're feeling better."
He answered rather absently, not quite understanding where Alex was going with this. He didn't think his partner wanted company. And he didn't want to go out and do something while Alex was unwell.
"Its fine. There is plenty to do here. You just sleep, I'll keep it down."
That was the second time he'd made that promise, and really he did intend to keep it. He settled back down on the couch with Alex and his book and Thora on his lap resolving to be quiet and good and just there in case Alex needed anything.
He did much better this time, it was a full fifteen minutes before Eiryk was convinced that Alex was asleep and so he got back up to empty the trash can full of used tissues, make fresh tea, refill the hot water bottle, let the delivery person with the soup in and again straighten Alex's blanket. As he would sleep through all of that and then some, Eiryk reasoned Alex would too, especially if he wasn't feeling well.
Rowan had been regularly meeting with Alex when he was able, and while Alex wasn't exactly ready for Olympic fencing, he had a tolerable measure of confidence in the fact that he now knew which end of a foil to point at his opponent. Rowan was a good teacher, patient and knowledgeable, and fun with his sharp wit and inability to take himself too seriously. Alex had been a little worried at first that Rowan was more Eiryk's friend than his but he didn't feel that way anymore. He enjoyed their sessions together.
"Uh. Maybe we should look them up now," he suggested, trying not to sneeze. He was unsuccessful. When he finished blowing his nose he tried to get a grip on the prospect of Eiryk hovering over him for days. It was not a pleasant thought... much as he loved his boyfriend. Eiryk just needed to learn how to moderate.
Alex sighed and laid his head down once more. As Eiryk subsequently made nose, noise, and more noise, Alex told himself patiently not to snap at him. Eiryk didn't realize. And it had been over a thousand years since Eiryk had gotten sick. If he ever had in life.
Still, Alex just wanted to sleep. So when Eiryk had gotten up yet again Alex very quietly took his Kindle, the tissues, and the bottle of cold medicine and padded into the master bedroom. There he turned out all the lights except for, of course, the nightlight that kept it so he could see. Then with another sigh he slid between the cool, clean bedsheets and gave a soft hum of content as his face hit the pillow.
He was exhausted. It was cool and quiet in here - if he could arrange himself just right so his nose wouldn't run all over the place he might actually be able to get that nap in, after all.