For all the build up, Cas's period is thoroughly underwhelming when it comes. A few days of spotting that barely even require pads, and then? Nothing. Poof, just… back to normal.
Except for the parts where it kind of isn't. Except for all of the new things that crop up while Cas just wants to do his job—and it shouldn't be that much to ask. It shouldn't be that difficult to be one of Doctor Visyak's graduate assistants. Not even the part where the job means teaching freshmen. Cas has handled it all pretty well since Doctor Visyak took him on, and more than that, he shares the position with Bela and Sarah.
But once they get back from break, it's like he's hardly even in the office. Well, he's there, but he barely sits down with Bela and Sarah before he has to get back up. His desk is where he goes for a break from the bathroom, from kneeling on the tiles and hugging the toilet, digging his fingers into the edge of the seat as he prays and waits for his stomach to just stop trying so hard to kill him—and it doesn't stop there.
Teaching's getting impossible. Cas refuses to ask Bela or Sarah to cover for him when he's most likely just being some sort of dramatic, but it's starting to look like he might be forced into that position. Too many classes end up with him rushing to the bathroom. One time, he doesn't even make it there. He barely makes it to the wastebasket at the back of the classroom, and it's a small mercy that he manages to hold back on throwing up until his students have left.
And if he's not there puking, he's there peeing, so trying to drink water, trying to avoid dehydration? Just keeps this whole stupid process going and makes Cas want to claw his fucking eyes out.
It just gets worse when Bela, being herself, has to go and notice. After only a day—and one lunch that Cas basically misses from eating part of it, then needing to rush off and vomit—she's eyeing Cas. Watching everything he does. Arching her eyebrow at him any time she sees him looking uncomfortable or shifting around in his seat. It would not surprise him if she's started keeping track of every time he has to run off.
It does surprise him when, the Friday after break, she says, "Dean must be making smorgasbords for breakfast and dinner, if you can hardly get through lunch, Darling. Or is he just giving you food that makes you ill? You know that you don't have to humor him if it's making you sick up at work, don't you."
Cas sighs and doesn't dignify that passive-aggression by looking up from the stack of tests he's grading. Social nuances aren't his forte, but Bela's been his best friend for several years now—nigh on ten of them—and he knows what she wants to say there. The subtext of her statement is: I really hope that your boyfriend is just being an idiot, because I can hate him without batting an eye; it doesn't require any extra effort from me. But if he isn't, the only other option is that you're relapsing, and I will not let you do that to yourself.
Because, obviously, everything comes back to the way Cas hurt himself during their stint as undergraduates. The way that he tried not to eat for several days, or else didn't eat enough, and made himself throw up most of the significant meals he forced himself to take in, just to keep up the appearance of normality—even when it's a much more reasonable explanation that Cas is simply ill or coming down with something. Maybe he isn't running a fever, and maybe he ought to just stay home if this doesn't clear up by next week—but he's not relapsing, and there's nothing else that this could be.
So, as far as answering Bela goes, he gives her the softest, most bemused smile that he can manage, and tries to imitate Bela's characteristic drawl as he replies, "Of course I do. I'm probably catching that bug that's going around—you know, the one that makes all of these children fall ill on test days."
Sarah snorts at that, and when Bela glares at her, she shrugs. Explains herself with a simple, "What? You were thinking the same thing about them—and what about the kids who get sick right around paper due dates, right? I mean, I know that I pulled some of these stunts in undergrad, too, but it's like… they actually expect this to work on people who did the same things—and who did them not that long ago."
And Bela's not one to run from any match of verbal sparring, so she just can't let that go. Cas's smile gets more earnest as he turns back to grading tests. There. Everything ought to be fine, now. Everything would be perfect if he weren't sure that there's another round of gastric pyrotechnics coming up. But win some, lose some, he supposes.