Lesson Learned (attn: Eiryk)
Alex had been sick all night and all day, and truth be told he was feeling worse now than when he'd first come down with the flu. That was the nature of the beast though. It got worse before it got better. He was currently lying in bed, his head pounding, shivering and sweating in turns despite a dose of ibuprofen. Cris and Rowan had spent several hours with him, through which he'd dozed on and off. He was glad for the company.
It hadn't been long before he'd started counting hours though. He wanted Eiryk. Sure, they'd been frustrated with each other but that was no big deal. It happened.
Alex didn't know how long he'd lain there wondering if he should call down to Cris and Rowan and ask them if they might send Eiryk his way, but before he reached that point he heard the apartment door open.
Soft, careful footfalls from outside. Then a crash. A soft curse. And soft, careful footfalls. Alex smiled into his pillow. That was much better.
[Eiryk man!] Eiryk heard a yip, which was exactly what he hadn't wanted and he cringed.
[I need you to be quiet please. Where is Alex?]
[Bed, with me.] Came the decisive answer. Eiryk wondered if Alex had asked her up on to the bed or if she'd taken that initiative.
[Have you been fed?]
[OK I'll feed you in a bit but be quiet now OK? We don't want to disturb Alex.]
Of course Eiryk wasn't sure if she was pulling a fast one on him or not. It was very probable that even being sick Alex would have fed Thora but he would have understood if he'd forgotten too. Of course, all this planing and attempts and being quiet failed as almost as soon as he got inside he crashed into a wall.
Swearing slightly he made his way stealthy, or as stealthy as possible, to the bedroom. Determined not to knock or say anything, just to look in and see if Alex was asleep. If he was, Eiryk would leave him a sleep, if he wasn't he'd just say he was home. No smothering.
Honestly he couldn't tell if Alex was awake or not so he whispered as quietly as possible.
"Alex, I'm home. Let me know if you need anything."
That was it he was just going to go to the living room and work for and maybe watch a movie.
Eiryk stuck his head in the doorway and said for Alex to say if he needed anything. Alex lifted his head up from the pillow.
"I need you," he said, his voice rough from coughing and sleeping.
Sitting up he swung his legs over the edge of the bed, hoping Eiryk would come in. Alex wasn't really the touchy-feely sort but he could really use a hug and some snuggling right now. Maybe it was the flu but he was feeling particularly needy.
"Don't listen to Thora. I fed her," he added, feeling certain that that was what the little vixen was up to. Food tended to be the foremost thing on her mind. "She probably still has crab salad in her bowl."
Alex actually enjoyed making meals for Thora, and had begun to include a regular menu for her in his own since he was the cook in the family. He'd done a lot of research online and it also helped that Eiryk could question Thora directly, so Alex had a good idea what her favorites were as well as what her actual nutritional needs were. The two didn't always coincide.
"This is just going to have to do, Rowan said you needed rest so anything else has to wait until you're better."
Eiryk said with a mock leer. He couldn't help but tease Alex just a little bit even though his boyfriend was not looking his best, in fact if he hadn't been constantly reassured by Rue and Cris Eiryk would be convinced Alex was half dead. He was beginning to understand that Alex just wanted some peace and quiet, not to be totally alone; but that didn't mean he couldn't make jokes, little ones. Thora hopped up on the bed with them, one big happy family.
"Crab? You got Alex to give you crab?"
[Alex, crab, hungry!] That and a canine smile were the only answer.
"I thought I was going to be the one to spoil her."
With great restraint Eiryk don't fluff, tuck, fuss, fidget or feel Alex's forehead. He also knew how badly he wanted to do all of those things.
"Before I get carried away again," that was more or less an apology, at least an acknowledgment that he had gone over board and it had to count for something. "Did you want anything? Movie? Tea? Just some water? You sounded kind of hoarse."
This was going to take work, but asking rather than assuming had to be a step in the right direction. And he -would- listen to the answer and not do something just to do it. He had promised Rowan. More importantly he didn't want to make Alex feel worse while trying to make him feel better.
"I don't think I could manage anything else right now," he said wryly.
When Eiryk exclaimed about the menu Alex nudged him gently. "New menu, remember? Besides, soft shell crab was on sale at the store. She looked like she was having fun digging it out."
He'd made a salad of that and some fruits and vegetables, determined that Eiryk's companion eat as healthy a meal as possible. Thora never seemed to complain, especially since Alex had a direct line to her favorites and her not-so-favorites via Eiryk.
Eiryk actually asked him if he needed anything and Alex shook his head against his partner's shoulder. "No thanks," he said, gesturing to the night stand. "I have everything."
He had tissues, lozenges, a glass of cool water, Nyquil, and some chapstick. He didn't really want or need anything else right now. "I just want to lie here with you. I'm sorry about yesterday. Really sorry."
Alex found himself getting teary-eyed and emotional. He pressed his cheek against Eiryk's chest and squeezed his eyes shut. "I'll try to be a better patient, I promise. I know you were just trying to help."
"I'd forgotten. But I'd rather her dig at the crab than the sofa. I'm sure she says thank you."
Obligingly Thora did nudge at Alex's leg slightly to confirm her thanks. She didn't really dig at the furniture, but the designer in Eiryk worried now and then. She was a good fox though.
He still felt a bit useless, like he wasn't helping Alex get better but this was much better than being exiled and having to drink a few, or more than a few, to relax enough to sleep. Even though he could feel that Alex was still running a fever while his partner was nestled close, Alex also felt rather relaxed and that had to be good.
Smoothing Alex's hair back he looked over at the night stand. It looked pretty well stocked. He also refrained from running out to get the vaporizer and another blanket.
Guilt washed over him when Alex got a little emotional. This hadn't been Alex's fault at all.
"Don't apologize, it was my fault really. I should have listened better, sometimes you can't help as much as you'd like. But it isn't anything that can't be fixed. We'll start over like none of this ever happened and get you better."
That was the most important thing and the only thing Eiryk was concerned about. He was going to have little enough time with Alex as it was, he didn't need to screw it up now or have him sick for ages.
"I guess Cris came up to keep you company, I'm guessing Rue did too after I passed out."
"Yeah. We watched a movie."
Then he cleared his throat, laughed a little, and corrected himself. "They watched a movie. I watched ten minutes of it and fell asleep again."
Remembering the other reason Cris had come upstairs Alex wrapped an arm around Eiryk's waist and squeezed. "Thanks for the soup. It was good."
He was sure there had been no small amount of assistance from Cris and Rowan. Well, Cris really, since Rowan claimed to have absolutely no use for a stove and Alex had yet to make a soup in his life that didn't require an element of heat at some point.
"Did you know Cris and Rowan are going on vacation? Maybe we should go up to Vermont after I get better," Alex murmured. "There might be snow already, you think? We could do some skiing."
He'd had enough talk of being sick. It was more pleasant to envision next week or the week after, when he'd be back to normal and wanting to return to his active life.
Eiryk waited a bit to see if the laugh would turn into a cough, when it didn't he relaxed a little. He snuggled Alex to him and pulled the blanket up so it covered Alex a bit more and him a little.
"I'm glad you liked it. There is pleanty more for later."
He made a rather non-commital sound about Cris and Rue going on a vacation. Eiryk wasn't sure if he'd known or not. It didn't matter either. They both could stand some time away from the Towers with just each other. Rowan worked far too hard and Eiryk doubted Cris was ever really off duty.
"Where are they going?"
Vermont. The very idea, snow or not, made Eiryk smile.
"We could go right now if you wanted, but I think two weeks is the better plan. I'll get some stuff lined up. Do you need some one to watch the store while we're gone? And for how long?"
That Eiryk could take care of and he didn't think it would count as smothering or acting like a mother hen.
"It might be a little early for snow, but we could get lucky. I've always wanted to try snow boarding..." Eiryk mused a bit. It looked like fun and should be easier since there was only one plank of wood to deal with. That was his theory any way. "Even if there isn't a few long nights in front of the fire sounds like a wonderful idea."
Alex wouldn't have put it beyond the two to have snuggled, even subtly, after he'd fallen asleep. And he wouldn't blame them either. If Rowan was passed out unconscious on their sofa Alex would probably get frisky with Eiryk, too. That was just how it was, sometimes, when you had good friends - you could just be yourself and not worry about making an impression.
He turned his attention back to Eiryk and answered his next question. "I think down to the Bahamas or something like that. Someplace tropical. Rowan said something about fruity drinks."
Alex nodded when he mentioned needing someone to watch the shop. He was gone an awful lot lately, it seemed. "Marie can watch it some. Maybe Aishe too? She seems to like spending time there. Or I can hire someone else."
He wasn't opposed to having more time off and one more employee. That was the point of being a business owner, right? He was supposed to be able to reap the profits or something while his underlings did the work. Well, okay, but he did like his store. He could cut back his hours here and there but he'd still be a big part of it.
He breathed in Eiryk's scent, so much like his own now. It was clean and welcome, fresh laundry, soap, things Alex liked. "Dunno," he murmured. "Two weeks?"
Alex wasn't sure he'd ever taken a longer vacation than two weeks. That seemed to be the standard. Any longer and he'd worry about the store and their home. Any shorter and they might feel cheated.
"What about Thora? Should we see if Aishe and Kem would take her, or do you think she'd fly all right in a carrier?"
He pretended to be shocked and scandalized, even though it was almost a given. Although if they didn't know exactly when or if Alex would wake up it was probably fairly tame. At least that is what he was going to tell himself.
"Quite logical. They both need to work on their tans."
Eiryk might have rolled his eyes at that. Of course, even without the fun in the sun the ocean and beaches would be lovely. Honestly a trip wasn't always about the where as the who, they would probably be happy trapped in a theme park.
"We can ask Aishe but maybe another employee is in order, at least a temp for the Christmas season. They can just start early."
Although it was still his dream to have Alex be a kept man, Eiryk would settle for a few more hours a week together. Somethings Alex could even do from home, it was an approach he was taking more and more. Lots of video conferences and the like. It might qualify him as clingy, he preferred to think of it as devoted.
Eiryk was both surprised and pleased. And almost immediately started making plans. They were absolutely going to have to start leaving some things up there so they could just disappear now and then.
"I like this plan a great deal. And if we're gone that long I think Thora should come with us. Kem or Aishe, possibly Pak but she'll be happier with us."
She'd enjoy exploring the woods. If it snowed Eiryk knew she'd like this.
"Maybe we can try some ice fishing. I haven't done that in years."
He opened one eye and raised an eyebrow when it seemed like Eiryk was attempting to run his business for him. Alex was pretty sure he was capable of making sound decisions regarding the running of his own store. He closed his eye and brushed it off rather than bristle about it.
"Yeah, I'll figure it out soon," he said, leaving the topic at that. His boyfriend was trying to be helpful, that was all.
The duration of their stay in Vermont seemed to please Eiryk and they gladly moved along to that topic. Alex nodded at the plan to bring Thora along. She would enjoy bounding through the woods, playing in the snow. She lived just fine in their apartment but foxes were meant to be outdoors and she probably didn't get enough time to just romp.
"Ice fishing? I don't know if there's going to be that much snow and ice in Vermont yet, babe. Don't get your hopes up."
He didn't want Eiryk to look forward to something only to be let down; as far as Alex knew ice fishing was not a big sport in Vermont. "If not ice fishing we can find something new to do though. Snowboarding sounds like fun."
He didn't even want to know how much trouble Eiryk could cause on a snowboard. Hopefully he wouldn't break anything... or anyone.
"You mean it however you want, I'm taking it entirely the wrong way."
There was no further suggestions, helpful or otherwise, about Alex's business. Eiryk wasn't trying to run it, he was just trying to get Alex out of town for two full weeks without worrying about anything. What was the point of going away if you felt compelled to call work ever few hours.
"Hmmmmm... you might be right. We could go to Minnesota instead. They've probably had enough ice since last month."
He'd enjoyed his time in the upper Midwest, granted he'd not managed as well as he would have liked, but it was nice there. One thought lead to another and he added,
"Would you like to go to Sweden? Maybe Denmark? In the summer of course... well we could go in the winter if you wanted you might like it, it gets a bit nippy though."
They could work in Greece if Alex wanted. Granted they weren't exactly close to each other but that didn't always matter to Eiryk. He'd find a way to work in China and South Africa if that is what Alex wanted.
He lifted his head when Eiryk asked him about Minnesota. "Tell me you're joking," he said, and then proceeded to cough for the next minute and a half or so. When he could speak again he said, "I want to go to Vermont. Our place. Even if we can't go ice fishing."
He settled back down next to Eiryk. He was tired still and his head hurt. "Sure," he said, with a little yawn. "Sweden would be nice. Wanna visit your home."
He snuggled up against Eiryk's shoulder again and sighed. "I like the cold," he added. "Never bothered me."
Alex finally felt like he was ready to sleep again. Having Eiryk there in bed with him was nice, and Eiryk was really being well-behaved about it. Whatever Rowan or Cris had said to him must have worked.
"Stay here while I sleep? I'm so comfortable right now," Alex murmured. He had somehow managed to hit a perfect position where everything was just so nice he didn't want to move.
He just didn't know exactly where or how much or if it was woods or residential. He was going to have to talk to his business manager or something and narrow that down.
"We'll go some other time though."
Absently Eiryk played with Alex's hair not really worried about going home or not. It would be nice though, he did miss it even if it wasn't the same as it had been in his day.
"Good, we'll plan that later. Find you some lutefisk to nibble on."
Eiryk loved the feeling of Alex snuggled up against him and it was satisfying to feel him relax some. It would be nice for Alex to get some sleep, it would help him get better and that was the ultimate goal. So if Alex wanted him to stay here all day he would. He wouldn't move a muscle, he thought there was a book on the night stand he could reach without jostling Alex too much.
"Of course, whatever you want."
That was Eiryk's promise that he'd wait until Alex asked for something rather than trying to force it on him. He just hoped Alex would actually ask.
Eiryk's attitude had done a complete 180, and he was grateful for that. He couldn't take being smothered for very long at all, apparently. This was nice though, lying here, chatting, talking about things they wanted to do. Alex also thought that it was nice not to have to worry about getting Eiryk sick. No matter what happened to him Eiryk would be just fine.
It took him no time at all to doze off again, and while he didn't sleep deeply he did nap for several hours. It was comforting to know that Eiryk was there. That alone was Alex's favorite thing, Nd he told Eiryk so when he woke up.
If this was how it was going to be every time he got sick, well, he could definitely live with this.
((ooc: Alex and Eiryk out))