“RORY!” Amy shouted through the bathroom door. “C’mon, the Doctor’s going to leave without us!”
“Just a second,” Rory replied. He looked down at the digital thermometer in his hand. 38.8, climbing steadily from 38.4 when he’d taken it an hour ago. Brilliant, he thought. All he and Amy’d been hearing about for days were the blue beaches of yet another unpronounceable planet, where the sand sparkled with a thousand colors at sunset and they could witness a world on “the cusp of life.” Only he felt like he was on the cusp of death. Headache, muscle aches, sore throat, fever, mild to moderate nausea. So far Amy hadn’t noticed, but he’d also avoided being in the same room with her for more than fifteen seconds since they’d got up.
Was there any way, he wondered, that he could just get away with not telling them? Say he didn’t like blue beaches, or he was tired and felt like having a kip?
“RORY! What are you doing in there?”
Not bloody likely. Rory closed his eyes against the throbbing behind his eyes. All he really wanted was to be left alone until he felt better; it was ironic, he knew, but the truth was that he hated being looked after when he was sick. He could usually do it better himself, and being looked after by Amy in particular was a lot like being fussed over by a bulldozer. And the Doctor - well, for someone who called himself the Doctor, Rory had never thought much of his bedside manner.
“Rory,” Amy said, less shouty and more worried now, “are you all right?” She rattled the doorknob.
Rory dragged himself to his feet and pulled the door open, startling Amy, who was poised to knock again. “Sorry,” he said, avoiding her eyes. As though that would stop her noticing.
“It’s fine,” she said, “just, we’ve landed, and you know the Doctor - he’s probably halfway up the side of the mountain by - Rory Williams, why are you still in your pajamas?”
Rory shrugged, edging past her. “I’m a bit under the weather today.”
Amy frowned, then peered at him more closely. “You look terrible.”
“I love you, too,” Rory said, and collapsed spread-eagle onto their bed.
“I’m serious, Rory,” Amy said, landing beside him on the mattress. “Roll over so I can look at you.”
“I don’t need you to look at me, thanks,” Rory said, trying to shove his head as far into his pillow as possible.
“I’m fine,” he said in exasperation, finally turning his head to look at her. “I have a touch of flu, that’s all. You and the Doctor should do blue sand beaches just like we planned. I’ll stay here and sleep it off.”
“What if it’s space flu?” Amy persisted. “We haven’t been back to Earth in days. You should let the Doctor look at you.”
“No,” Rory said, unwilling to admit that space flu wasn’t something he’d considered. “Look, just go. I’m fine, really. I don’t need the two of you hovering over me.”
Amy was silent. Rory buried his head under the pillow again and waited her out. After nearly a minute, she made an exasperated noise and slid off the bed. Rory waited until he’d heard her leave, then sighed, pulled his head out from beneath the pillow, and crawled beneath the covers. She could’ve at least turned the lights off, he thought peevishly; the light switch seemed awfully far away just then.
Almost immediately, the lights dimmed. “Oh,” he said aloud, feeling a bit stupid as he always did when he talked to the TARDIS. “Thanks.” He pulled the blankets over his shoulders, shivering, and squeezed his eyes shut. Sleep. He just needed sleep.
Except life was not that kind. Rory had barely managed to achieve a light doze when he heard the door to the suite open again. “Amy, I told you -” he said groggily, not even opening his eyes.
“Not Amy,” the Doctor said.
Rory pried one eye open. “Whatever she told you, I’m fine.”
“She told me you have space flu,” the Doctor said, sitting on the edge of the bed, “which I find a bit vague as a diagnosis. Come on, now, Rory, let me have a look at you.”
“Why does everyone want to look at me?” Rory groused. “Amy already told me I look terrible.” But he let the Doctor roll him over and scan him with the screwdriver. At least the Doctor didn’t insist on talking while he did it. Rory closed his eyes and tried to drift.
“Head?” the Doctor asked at last. He rested his cool, dry hand on Rory’s forehead.
“Mm.” The Doctor took his hand away. “You have space flu. Not that it’s called that or is in any way related to Earth flu, but the symptoms are all the same.”
“Can you make it go away?”
“Of course. In about -” the Doctor checked his watch “- fifteen hours.”
Rory groaned. “Are you joking.”
“I never joke when my companions are sick, it gets things thrown at me. You need tea, lovely English tea, and chicken soup, though I’m not sure we have any chicken -”
“Doctor,” Rory interrupted wearily. The Doctor paused mid-stream of consciousness. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but please get out.”
“Right, yes, of course, sorry. I’ll just send Amy in, shall I?” The Doctor left without waiting for a reply, and Rory shoved his head back under the pillow and wondered if the TARDIS might be so kind as to hide this room for the next fifteen hours.
Apparently not. Barely two minutes had gone by when he felt the mattress shift. Someone slid into bed behind him and wrapped her arms around him. “That had better be Amy,” he muttered without opening his eyes.
Amy laughed softly and kissed the back of his neck. “Poor Rory. Told you it was space flu.”
“It’s not space flu.”
“That’s what the Doctor called it. You’re so grouchy when you’re sick. C’mon, we’ll make it sort of fun. The Doctor says he can get the TARDIS to make a new media room ‘cause the old one got deleted, and we’ll spend the whole day lounging and watching rubbish.”
“I really just want to sleep.”
“You can sleep while we’re watching terrible movies.”
Rory sighed. “Amy, please, I love you but you’re driving me mad. I don’t want to watch movies, I just want to spend the entire day asleep in this bed.”
Amy poked him. “What, you want us to just swan off and leave you here alone? I don’t think so.”
“You don’t have to swan anywhere, but I really need some peace and quiet,” Rory said, aware that he was close to begging. “I mean it, Amy. Please.”
There was a brief, uncertain moment of silence. Then Amy said, “Yeah, all right,” and slid out of bed. “You’ll let us know if you need anything, right?”
“Yeah, ‘course,” Rory said, trying not to sound too relieved. “Love you.”
Her hand brushed over his hair, lightly. “Love you, too.”
Rory spent the fifteen seconds he had to think about anything before he passed out worrying that he’d hurt Amy’s feelings. Then, for the next few hours, he didn’t think about anything at all. He woke occasionally to a dark, quiet room and the hum of the TARDIS, and then fell asleep again. His dreams were vague and pleasant, if a bit strange, but they slipped away whenever he woke, so it hardly mattered.
Finally, he woke just enough to realize that his mouth was dry and his throat felt like sandpaper. He buried his face in his pillow and tried to go back to sleep, but it was no good. He’d have to go in search of tea, or someone to make it for him. Amy would probably like it if he let her, he thought, and sighed, pushing himself upright. His head swam a bit and he winced, pressing a hand to his forehead.
He got to his feet, pulled on a dressing gown, and shuffled off down the hall toward the console room. The Doctor would be tinkering, and Amy would be handing him spanners and things. That was what they did when Rory wasn’t around, he’d discovered early on. It’d bothered him once, that they had something that was just for them. It didn’t anymore.
Sure enough, Rory found them just where he expected them to be, Amy swinging in the hammock from the underside of the console while the Doctor soldered random bits together - or at least they looked like random bits to Rory, he certainly hoped they weren’t random to the Doctor. “Hey,” he said, making his way carefully down the stairs. The floor felt like it was shifting under his feet, and he didn’t have a lot of faith in his ability to catch himself if he stumbled.
The two of them looked up. “Hi,” Amy said, jumping out of the hammock. “Feeling better?”
“A bit,” Rory lied. “Think I could use some tea.”
“I’ll make it,” Amy said decisively. She grabbed his hand and pulled him over toward the hammock. “You just - sit.” She pushed him into the hammock, kissed him lightly on the forehead, and then turned on her heel and took the stairs up two at a time. Rory waited until she was gone, then allowed himself to slump into the hammock, letting his head loll against the back. It was more comfortable than he’d expected.
A soft, lightweight blanket landed on his chest. He opened his eyes. The Doctor, with those ghastly black goggles shoved up on his forehead, smiled down at him. “All right, how are you really?” he asked, tucking the blanket around Rory.
“Could be better." Rory thought he should protest the Doctor tucking him in like a child, but the blanket was soft and warm, despite being so light, and the hammock was swinging gently, even without any effort on his part. His eyelids grew heavy. “S’nice here, though.”
“Mm,” the Doctor said, as he scanned Rory using the screwdriver. “The TARDIS is extra fond of you. You’re the pretty one.” Rory snorted. “Your fever’s up. 39.2.”
“Great,” Rory mumbled. “Was Amy upset earlier?”
“Nah. Well, a bit.” Rory groaned. “Told her it was hard,” the Doctor went on, voice growing more distant, “when you’re the one who’s always taking care of people.” There was a zapping sound, and even with his eyes closed Rory could see flashes of light, sparks from the Doctor’s soldering. “It’s hard to say when you need help. I should know.” More zapping. “Lucky for me - and you - Amy doesn’t wait for us to ask.”
“Mmm,” Rory said, which was all the response he had in him at the moment. The gentle swinging of the hammock was going to put him to sleep before Amy got back with his tea.
He was nearly out when someone touched him gently on the cheek. He opened his eyes and saw Amy, smiling down at him. “Room for two in there?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said, pulling up the edge of his blanket.
She handed him his mug of tea before squishing herself in beside him. She pulled the blanket across her lap and draped an arm across his waist. “There,” she murmured, and kissed his neck. Rory leaned into her and sipped his tea. His hands felt as weak as the rest of him, and he cradled it against his chest between sips. “Good?” she asked softly.
Rory closed his eyes. The hammock rocked gently, Amy smelled like shampoo and lilacs, and the Doctor was still zapping away at his TARDIS. “Perfect,” he said, and snuggled closer to his wife. “It’s perfect.”