Author's website: http://www.squidge.org/~foxsden
Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, Alliance Atlantis.
Author's Notes: Dedicated to LauraKaye, who was home with the flu. Turnbull yay!
This story is a sequel to: Off His Guard
As usual, Constable Fraser was on duty when Turnbull arrived on Friday. "Good morning, Turnbull," he said pleasantly, moving to get up from the desk in the hallway.
"Good morning, sir," Turnbull said, trying to make his voice as robust as possible. "I wonder if I could impose upon you to cover my desk for just a moment longer, while I --" he wheezed -- "run into the kitchen and fetch some tea?"
Constable Fraser knit his brow and tilted his head. "Certainly."
"Thank you, sir." Of course Turnbull didn't run anywhere; he ached all over, so he hung his coat and hat on the rack, walked back to the kitchen, and reached -- slowly -- up to the top shelf of the cabinet for a mug. He kept his things on the top shelf in deference to Inspector Thatcher and even Constable Fraser, who couldn't (quite, in his case; at all, in hers) reach that high. He put an Irish Breakfast teabag and a splash of milk in his mug and waited for the electric kettle to boil, and when it did, he got a saucer and a spoon, poured the water over the teabag, and carried it all back to his desk.
Constable Fraser was on his feet with his hands behind his back. "Turnbull, are you quite well?"
"Oh, quite well, sir." As he sat down, Turnbull coughed and sneezed at the same time and nearly spilled his tea, belying his words.
"You're still wearing your scarf."
"It's ten degrees below zero outside, sir."
"So it is. But it's twenty degrees above zero indoors. Surely winter gear isn't necessary unless you're feeling ill."
"Well, not precisely --"
"Turnbull." Constable Fraser held a hand to Turnbull's forehead and looked pointedly into one eye and then the other. "You shouldn't have come in today."
Turnbull would have answered, but he was wracked with another fit of coughing. When it stopped, he held one hand over his mouth and the other arm over his stomach and rocked back and forth slightly in his chair, managing -- just -- not to whimper.
Constable Fraser was looking at him with a sympathetic expression. "You can't stay here, Turnbull. Go on -- take the weekend."
"But sir, Inspector Thatcher --"
"Inspector Thatcher will be in meetings all day. She won't even know you're gone." Constable Fraser took Turnbull by the elbow and helped him stand up.
"I shouldn't leave you to staff the building by yourself."
"Nonsense. You shouldn't stay here and fill the building with whatever you've got." Constable Fraser took Turnbull's coat from the rack and handed it to him.
"When Inspector Thatcher returns she'll --"
"Let me deal with Inspector Thatcher, Turnbull. You need to go home and get some rest." Constable Fraser ushered Turnbull to the front door and out of the building. Just before going back inside, he raised one hand briefly, and a taxi Turnbull hadn't noticed going by veered over and lurched to a halt.
There appeared to be no choice in the matter. Turnbull got into the taxi and endured the bumpy ride back to his apartment; he paid and tipped the cab driver; and, as a concession to his admittedly poor health, took the elevator rather than the stairs. As he changed back into his pajamas and crawled into bed, he made a mental note to thank Constable Fraser for insisting that he not remain at work -- now that he was home, he was prepared to allow that it was exactly where he belonged. Turnbull coughed again, sneezed twice, and settled down to sleep.
He slept fitfully, and woke -- feeling only marginally better -- when he heard a forceful and repeated banging at his front door. He tried to ignore it and go back to sleep, but this proved unsuccessful; reluctantly, he dragged himself out of bed, wrapped his robe around his shoulders, and went to see who had come to visit.
Detective Vecchio was in the hallway, chewing a toothpick, holding a paper sack in one hand and scratching the back of his neck with the other. He looked back at the door when Turnbull opened it, and instantly his demeanor became incalculably more cheerful. Turnbull regretted that his condition dampened his own enthusiasm. *Drooping plants turn toward the sun,* he thought fancifully; *if only I could be as easily cured by turning toward Detective Vecchio.*
"Hey there, Turnbull. How you feeling?"
Turnbull wished he had taken a decongestant. His head felt several times its normal weight; he leaned against the doorjamb lest he topple over. "I'm afraid I'm not very well, Detective Vecch--"
"Ray. How many times I have to tell you?" The man stepped into Turnbull's apartment on his own invitation and immediately made for the kitchen, setting the sack on the counter. "I heard you were sick. Fraser and me were going to have lunch, but he said he had to stay and hold down the fort. You taken something for that?"
"Ah -- no, as a matter of fact, I haven't," Turnbull said, closing the front door and leaning against it.
Detect-- Ray waggled a finger at him. "Not going to be able to kick this thing all by yourself, buddy. If you can't breathe, you can't sleep, and if you can't sleep, you can't beat the bug. Here, pop a coupla these." He pulled a box from his pocket and handed it to Turnbull -- decongestants.
"Thank you -- Ray," Turnbull said. "That was very thoughtful of you."
"Well, that's me, Turnbull, I'm a thoughtful guy. You got soup?"
"Ah -- well --"
"Figured. You do now," Ray said, pulling a quart of chicken soup from Perlman's out of the paper sack. "You don't look like you're ready for that stage yet, though. Chicken soup is for later, to accentu-- accli-- to speed up the healing process." He put the soup in the refrigerator. "Right now, let's get you back in bed."
Turnbull felt even dizzier than he had when he'd answered the door. "I don't exactly -- I'm not entirely -- what are you doing here, Ray?" he asked.
"I'm giving you a hand while you're down with flulike symptoms, Turnbull. Come on. Into bed you go."
Perhaps this was a fever dream. Turnbull followed Ray into his own bedroom, hung his robe on the back of the closet door, and obediently climbed back into bed. "Why?"
"Because you'd be really uncomfortable sleeping on the kitchen floor," Ray said, fussing around the room -- he brought a box of tissues and a glass of water and put them on the nightstand, and set a wastepaper basket within Turnbull's reach.
"No, no -- why are you giving me a hand," Turnbull said. The decongestant was beginning to make him sleepy.
"Shh. Because I want to." Ray patted Turnbull's head and moved toward the bedroom door. "I'm just going to be in the other room, if you need anything." And the door closed softly behind him.
Turnbull dreamed of curling. He often dreamed of curling, of the angle and weight necessary to execute a particularly difficult throw, or of sweeping so strongly and so well that a rock everyone thought would miss actually did reach its target. Today, though, he dreamed of being out on the ice -- where it was nice and cool -- and of coming out of the hack as smoothly as a diver, releasing the rock handle as if it were a bird, and making the impossible shot to steal one point in the eleventh end and win the championship. And he dreamed that he saw Ray, behind the plate glass, in the viewing area, applauding wildly and beaming; Ray was proud of him.
He woke this time feeling less sleepy, but no less muzzy. Ray looked up when he emerged into the living room, and that smile lit up his face again. "Hey," he said. "You look like you're feeling better."
"My condition is certainly a great deal improved," Turnbull said, "although I do continue to feel the effect of the decongestant you gave me earlier. How long was I asleep?"
"Five, six hours," Ray said, getting up from the couch. "Hell of a nap. You really needed it. The medicine head'll wear off in a few minutes, specially when you've breathed some steam, had something hot to drink. Tea? Ready for your soup?" He held a hand to Turnbull's forehead for a second, then nodded. "Come on."
"Ray," Turnbull said, following him back to the kitchen, "I'm sorry to harp on the point, but I still don't understand why you've come, and why you sat here all afternoon. You must have --"
"Wow, you really don't get it, do you," Ray said with a smile in his voice as he poured the soup into a ceramic bowl. "Fraser tells me you're under the weather, and I bag the rest of my day to come help you get out again, and why do you figure I'd go and do that?"
Turnbull considered this. "Well -- I suppose --"
Ray gave an exasperated sigh, put the soup down, came over to where Turnbull stood, and kissed him firmly on the lips. It lasted only a few seconds, and then Ray stood back and raised his eyebrows. "Okay?"
Turnbull's inner voice was stammering, so there was no hope for his outer voice to be doing anything else. "I -- you -- that is -- me too," he said, clenching his fists at his sides and forcing the words, such as they were, to come.
Ray grinned. "Yeah, I figured," he said. "And there's more where that came from. Eat your soup."
Turnbull smiled and took the spoon Ray handed him. If that was the incentive he was being offered, he'd try his hardest to get well as fast as he possibly could.
End Getting a Grippe by Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org
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