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In Sickness

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Peter clutched the toilet bowl and moaned through another bout of sickness. He was never, ever, ever eating deviled ham again. He'd gotten probably hundreds of sandwiches from the corner deli down the block from his office before, but this afternoon's indulgence would definitely be his last.

He heard the door open but didn't have the energy to lift his head. Instead, he slumped to the side to lay against the bathtub. A minute later, a damp washcloth was draped over the back of his neck and familiar fingers brushed through his hair.

The toilet was flushed before Elizabeth spoke. "Hon?"

"Hmmm?" He cracked his eyes open to see her frowning at him.

"Do you think you could go back to bed?"

"Dunno." His stomach clenched again, but there couldn't possibly be anything left to retch. He curled in on himself and moaned again.

"Oh, hon." Elizabeth ran her fingers back through his hair and kneaded gently at the tense muscles at the back of his neck. "Just breathe."

He concentrated on drawing in a breath, holding it, and then releasing it as slowly as he could. It helped ease the roiling of his stomach and the dizziness too. After a few minutes, he pushed himself to sit up properly and open his eyes fully.

Elizabeth smiled softly. "Feeling better?"

"A little."

"Good. Think you can move back to the bedroom now?"

He nodded and looked over her shoulder at the partially closed bathroom door. "Where's Neal?"

"He changed the sheets and put the others in the wash."

Peter felt the blush creep up his neck to color his cheeks. He'd woken abruptly in the middle of the night, already puking his guts out onto his third of the bed sheets and comforter. Neal and Elizabeth had gotten him into the bathroom before the second round started, and he'd forgotten all about it until now. "I'm sorry."

"Shush. I seem to remember a time that I was sick all over your favorite Yankees jersey, so you know, I think we're even."

"But Neal-"

"-probably isn't happy about it but won't hold it over you, I'm sure. He threw all our pjs in the wash too, but I’m not sure what he's up to now."

Peter raised an eyebrow and started to get his feet underneath him to stand. "That's never a good sign. He's being too quiet."

"Let me help!" Elizabeth took his arm and helped him get vertical. They shuffled together into the bedroom and both stopped in unison when they caught sight of their lover curled up in the armchair next to the bed. There was a tray of ginger tea, freshly cut lemon slices and a container of honey on the dresser, and the bed had been made and turned down, but Neal had nodded off in the chair.

Peter took the hint when Elizabeth prodded him forward and sank down on the bed as soon as he was in reach of it. The sheets smelled strongly of the lavender fabric softener that El loved, and Peter slid under them, sighing in relief at being off his feet and having his stomach feel settled.

"Doing okay?" Elizabeth asked as she placed a small trashcan next to his side of the bed.

"Yeah."

"Do you want some tea? It's still warm."

He grimaced at the thought of putting anything in his stomach just yet and shook his head. "Lay down with me."

"Just a minute." She reached for Neal's shoulder but Peter stopped her.

"No, don't wake him. He'll never get back to sleep. You know how he is."

She frowned, pulled a blanket off the foot of the bed, and shook it out to drape over Neal. He stirred briefly but didn't wake. "He's going to have a terrible crick in his neck."

"He'll be fine. Come to bed with me."

She climbed under the covers and lay down close enough to rub her hand across his abdomen. It felt good, despite the ache that lingered, and he turned his head so the he could kiss the top of hers.

"Rest," she whispered.

"Love you," he murmured. "Both of you."

"We love you too. Now sleep. You'll feel so much better in the morning."

~End

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