Even though Ray had seen it a number of times, it always surprised him that Gerard got quiet when he was sick. Gerard was usually so loud and dramatic, you’d expect him to whine and demand sympathy, but instead he just withdrew -- re-engaging his “hermit mode” or something. And it wasn’t that Gerard didn’t like company when he was sick: he actually got pretty snuggly. It was really just…
Actually, Ray didn’t know for sure. What he did know was that most of the time when Gerard got sick, Mikey would be there to take care of him, curling up with him on the couch (more than usual), bringing him soup, sitting beside him on his bunk until he fell asleep, quietly sending someone out for tea and soup and Nyquil. So maybe Gerard went quiet because he knew Mikey would take care of him. Only this time, Mikey wasn’t there. They’d all been feeling Mikey’s absence the last few weeks, a dull ache of wrong that made Ray want to hide in the back studio more often, and seemed to be making Gerard and Frank ratchet up their stage antics. The stress was getting to all of them. Ray was a little surprised that they weren’t all sick at this point.
Ray rummaged around the bus cabinets while the microwave counted down on his mug of water, and managed to find a lone bag of peppermint tea jammed in the corner. No soup. He made a mental note to get some, dropped the tea bag in the water, and went to convince Gerard to move to the couch.
The only problem with this plan, Ray realized as he crouched down beside Gerard’s bunk, was how hard it was going to be to get Gerard to the couch. Gerard was curled up, shivering, clearly miserable. Ray hated to move him, he really did, but he knew better than to try to cram them both in that bunk. Mikey may have been content to fit himself in that tight space with Gerard, but then Mikey was smaller than Ray.
“Hey,” Ray said, reaching out to shake Gerard gently. Gerard made a quiet questioning noise as he looked back over his shoulder. Ray brushed Gerard’s hair off his forehead, smiling as Gerard leaned in to the touch. And then he frowned. Gerard’s forehead was burning hot. He pulled at Gerard’s shoulder a little to get him to roll toward him. “Hey, come sit on the couch with me?”
Gerard blinked and seemed to consider for a moment before he nodded, slowly unfolding himself and rolling out of the bunk, dragging his blanket with him. He didn’t say anything to Ray as they went into the lounge, and silently curled up in the corner of the couch while Ray went into the kitchenette.
“You take anything yet?” he called to Gerard.
Ray wasn’t surprised -- Gerard didn’t take medicine if he could avoid it. Still, Ray figured Gerard probably should take something if he had a fever like that, so he dug through the cabinet for the Nyquil, then brought the tea and meds to Gerard. He leaned against the arm of the couch, running his fingers through Gerard’s hair, while Gerard drank his tea. When he was done, Gerard silently handed back the mug. Ray set it on the coffee table.
“C’mere,” Ray said as he settled comfortably on the couch. Gerard flopped over with a soft sigh, laying his head on Ray’s thigh. Ray reached out and moved the blanket so it covered Gerard fully, then sat quietly, brushing Gerard’s hair back from his face, running his hand up and down Gerard’s back, lightly scratching Gerard’s scalp. Gerard hummed a little, eyes drifting closed.
Ray turned the TV on, keeping the volume down, idly petting Gerard while Gerard slept. But it didn’t take long before he was yawning, too. He shifted around to lie down, pulling Gerard on top of him and trying unsuccessfully not to wake him up. Gerard smiled and snuggled in, rubbing his cheek against Ray’s chest.
“Go back to sleep,” Ray said, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around Gerard.
“’Kay.” There was a pause, then Gerard mumbled, “You’re a really good pillow.”
“Pillow’s my back-up career,” Ray said around a yawn. He felt more than heard Gerard laughing at him, and smiled to himself as he fell asleep.