“I’m not sick,” Jed said stubbornly. Or tried to, Rose thought; it came out more like “Ibe dot sick.” “I don’t get sick. The Time Agency inoculated me against everything. It’s -”
“Don’t tell me it’s allergies,” Rose said sternly. “The Doctor tried that already. I didn’t believe him and I don’t believe you. Open your mouth and let me stick this thermometer in it, or I swear to God, Jed Holbrook, you won’t get laid for a month.”
Jed’s eyes widened. Rose felt a twinge of regret for threatening to withhold sex - it was playing dirty and she knew it - but she thought she could be forgiven under the circumstances. They’d not even got the Doctor back on his feet yet, and after two days of listening to him alternately insist there was nothing wrong with him and moan about how he was certain he was dying, Rose had just about had her fill of playing nurse.
“Just do what she says,” the Doctor advised. He was dressed in sweats rather than pajamas and on top of the covers rather than under them, which Rose counted as improvements. “Believe me, the sooner you give in, the sooner you’ll start feeling better.”
Rose barely managed not to roll her eyes at this sage advice from the man who just yesterday had been caught hiding paracetamol under his pillow. She frowned deeply at Jed instead, who sighed and opened his mouth. She stuck the thermometer in it. “Hold that there. No talking,” she added, when he looked like he might try and say something. “I don’t care what you were inoculated against, they obviously missed a few.”
“Probably the inoculations didn’t go this far back, anyway,” the Doctor said, closing the book he was reading on his finger to keep his place. “No reason to, since they never send Agents anywhere near the twenty-first century.” Jed scowled at this, though Rose couldn’t tell what annoyed him more: the Doctor’s explanation, the fact that with the thermometer in his mouth he couldn’t refute it, or his body’s betrayal of its own perfection.
The thermometer beeped. Rose looked at it. “39.2,” she announced. “Congratulations, Jed, you have ‘flu. I’ll call Dad and let him know you won’t be in today.”
Jed shook his head, winced, and then obviously tried to hide it. “I’m fine. I don’t need to stay home. Just give me some of those pills the Doctor’s been taking.”
Rose sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Sweetie, you’re ill. You need to stay home, if only to avoid exposing half of Torchwood to what you’ve got.”
“Actually,” the Doctor piped up helpfully, “if he’s symptomatic, it’s probably too late to avoid exposing everyone.”
Rose glared at him. “Yes, thank you, Doctor. That doesn’t change anything,” she added to Jed. “You’re not well. You can’t possibly want to go into work feeling like you do. How much do you really think you’d get done today?”
For a moment, Jed looked mutinous. Then he sighed miserably and slumped back against his pillows. “All right,” he said, in a gravelly voice. “I’ll stay home. But just for today.”
Rose brushed his hair off his face and kissed him on his sweaty forehead. “We’ll see.” She glanced at her watch. “I have to get going. You two take care of each other, all right? Let Mum or the staff know if you need anything.” Her attempt to clear her morning had failed completely, and if she were honest with herself, she was almost glad; as much as she loved her partners, she needed a break.
Still, she felt more than just a little guilty, especially when Jed said, in a small, uncertain voice, “You’re leaving?”
“Just for the morning,” she assured him. “I’ll be home at lunch, and with any luck I won’t have to go back this afternoon. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” She kissed them both once more - on the forehead, but mostly because neither of them had brushed his teeth; at this point, she reckoned, she was either going to catch the creeping crud or not, no matter what she did - and left.
Her morning was punctuated by texts from the Doctor, mostly remarking upon reruns of Jamie Oliver, The Y-Factor, and Planet Earth, until they abruptly stopped around ten. She waited for a break in her meeting - not that anyone was going to say anything to the Vitex heiress for texting during a meeting - and messaged Jed: IS THE DOCTOR ASLEEP?
The answer came almost immediately: YES.
She wrote back: HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
AWFUL, he replied. PLEASE COME HOME.
This gave her pause. That was a drastic change from No, really, I’m not sick. ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? she finally wrote. I SHOULD BE HOME IN A COUPLE HOURS, BUT I CAN ASK MUM TO LOOK IN ON YOU IF YOU NEED SOMETHING.
Jed’s reply was several minutes in coming: NO. JUST MISS YOU.
Rose smiled and wrote back: MISS YOU TOO. SEE YOU SOON.
The rest of the meeting was interminable. It threatened to run over, but Rose made her excuses promptly at 12:30, claiming a very important lunch date, and escaped.
Their bedroom was dark and quiet when Rose entered their suite. The Doctor was sound asleep under a pile of blankets, snoring lightly, his head pillowed on the crook of his elbow. Jed’s side of the bed was empty, the covers rumpled and shoved back.
Rose frowned and stuck her head into their sitting room, wondering if he’d decided to decamp to the sofa so as to watch TV without disturbing the Doctor. But the sofa was vacant and the TV was silent. Her frown - and her worry - deepened.
A noise from the bathroom drew her attention. Someone coughed, then coughed again, weakly. The door was only halfway shut; Rose eased it open enough to peer inside. Jed was sitting on the floor, wedged into the corner between the wall and the tub, knees pulled up to his chest, shivering. He looked utterly miserable: his hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat, his eyes glittered with fever, and there didn’t seem to be any color at all left in his face.
“Oh my God, Jed,” Rose gasped, falling her to knees beside him. She reached out and felt his forehead; it was warmer than it had been that morning, and his fever had been high enough then. “What are you doing in here? Were you sick to your stomach?”
He shook his head and then visibly winced, with no attempt to cover it up. “I was thirsty. I came in here to get water and got dizzy. Really dizzy. I had to sit down. Then I had to lie down. Then . . .” His eyes dropped. “Then I couldn’t get up again.”
Rose’s hand came up to cover her mouth. “Oh God, Jed, I’m so sorry,” she said, guilt-stricken. She’d left Jed and the Doctor on their own, knowing Jed was ill and would need help, and had been glad about it. She reached out and rubbed Jed’s arm. “It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere this afternoon.”
“You’re staying?” Jed said weakly. “Promise?”
“Promise,” she said, and kissed his forehead. She turned on the cold tap in the bathtub just long enough to wet a flannel, which she ran over Jed’s head and neck. He sighed, leaning into her touch. “I’m sorry,” she said again, applying the cool, damp flannel to Jed’s pulse points. “I shouldn’t have left you. But I thought the two of you would just sleep the morning away.”
“Couldn’t,” Jack said, even as his eyes drifted shut.
Rose frowned. “Couldn’t sleep?” Jed made a vague, affirmative noise. “Why not?” He looked completely exhausted.
“Not safe. Doctor was asleep. Someone has to keep watch.” He sighed, letting his head fall to rest against her arm. “But I'm so tired . . .”
Rose bit her lip, her heart breaking a little. It had taken time for Jed to feel comfortable enough to sleep the whole night through in their bed without repeatedly waking, startled, in the middle of the night. Feverish and ill and alone with their sleeping partner, of course he hadn’t felt safe enough to rest. But he was nearly asleep now, on the floor of their bathroom. Rose contemplated wrestling him into the bathtub to try and get his fever down, and finally decided against it. She’d get some more paracetamol into him and tuck him back into bed. If his fever hadn’t come down by the time he woke up, she’d put him in the tub and call Owen. The man's bedside manner left something to be desired, but he could snark as much as he wanted as long as he did it while writing a script for an antiviral.
“Well, I’m here now,” she said, smoothing Jed’s hair off his face. “You don’t have to keep watch anymore. I’ll look after you and the Doctor.”
Jed pried his eyes open. “Armed?” he asked, blearily.
“And dangerous,” she assured him.
He smiled. “Sexy.”
Rose laughed quietly, relieved. The day Jed wasn’t able to flirt with her, she’d know something was really wrong. “All right, you have to help me get you back to bed.” She wrapped an arm around his shoulders and prepared to take most of his weight. “One, two, three, up.”
It was fortunate that the bed wasn’t far. He fell into it gracelessly and let Rose pull the covers over him. On his far side, the Doctor stirred, mumbling inquisitively. Jed rolled toward him and the Doctor automatically put his arms around him, holding him close. Rose shook four paracetamol out on her palm and doled out two to Jed and two to the Doctor. Jed swallowed his obediently and drank the whole glass of water before sinking back down, half into the pillows and half into the Doctor.
The Doctor glared at his pills, but when he looked up and saw Rose glaring at him, he took them without argument. Rose watched, just to make sure. “Is he all right?” the Doctor asked, looking down at Jed, who was either asleep or well on his way. “He’s very warm.”
“I think so,” Rose said. She draped the flannel she’d brought from the bathroom over Jed’s forehead. “He just needs sleep. How are you?”
“Mm,” he said, sitting up carefully. “Better. Bored. Daytime telly is awful.” He reached across Jed for her hand. “I’m glad you’re home.”
“Yeah,” Rose said, squeezing his hand, looking down at Jed. “So am I.”