It took three days for Kurt to come down with Beth’s flu.
He spent another few hours denying it, telling himself he was just overtired from entertaining Beth while Puck was at work and she was still banished from day care. She hadn’t thrown up after the first day, and by the third day she was practically bouncing off the walls and begging him to take her to the park to play.
It was a little overwhelming, being completely responsible for a whole other person, but it was good, too. He’d gotten to know Beth even better, and she seemed to trust him more now that they’d spent some time one-on-one than she had when he was just the guy who shared a room with her dad.
So when he dragged himself to bed a little early on his third day of watching Beth, he told himself it was just from trying to keep up with her. He definitely wasn’t sick; he didn’t have time to be sick, not when Will was coming back to town full of ideas for choreographing his next show. He just needed a good, solid night’s sleep, and when he woke up in the morning he’d be fine.
Except he woke up to a cool hand pressed to his forehead, and when Kurt tried to sit up, pain shot through his head and he flopped back onto his pillow. “I think you’ve got a fever, babe.”
“I’m fine,” Kurt mumbled into his pillow.. “Just give me a minute.”
“You can have all the time you want; you’re not going anywhere today,” Puck said, his hand pushing through Kurt’s hair as he leaned in to press warm lips to Kurt’s forehead.
“I have to. Will’s back in town and we’ve got...there’s...something.”
Puck huffed a laugh and pressed his hand to the back of Kurt’s neck this time. It felt cooler than it probably should have, and Kurt sighed into the too-hot pillow pressed against his face.
“You can’t go to work like this, Kurt. Will’s just going to have to deal.”
“Noah, I can’t just call in sick. Will’s counting on me,” Kurt insisted, but when he tried to sit up again, Puck pushed him back down onto the mattress.
“Stay,” Puck said, and when Kurt opened his mouth to argue, a hand pressed against his lips. “No arguing. I’m going to get the thermometer.”
“I’m not sick,” Kurt called after him, but his face was still pressed into the pillow, so he couldn’t be sure Puck heard him. Not that it mattered; Puck was already gone, so Kurt just groaned and closed his eyes again. He wasn’t sick; he just needed a few more minutes, then he’d get up and get ready for work, and everything would be fine.
A few minutes later he was jostled awake by something solid landing on the bed, and when a tiny hand pressed against his forehead Kurt forced his eyes open. “What...?”
“Daddy says you’re sick like I was.”
“I’m not sick,” Kurt said again, raising his voice so Puck could hear him from wherever he’d gone.
“It’s okay, Kurt, I take care of you like you took care of me,” Beth said, patting his cheek, and Kurt bit back another groan.
“Thanks, honey, but I don’t want you to get sick again.”
“She won’t,” Puck said, appearing next to the bed wielding the thermometer. “Come on, open up.”
“I told you, I’m...” Kurt trailed off with an indignant noise when Puck took the opportunity to shove the thermometer in his mouth.
“Shut up and keep it under your tongue,” Puck said, then he sat on the edge of the bed and ran a hand through Kurt’s sweat-damp hair. “Anyway, she’s already had it, so she can’t catch it again.”
Kurt wasn’t entirely sure he believed that, but it wasn’t like he really knew anything about communicable diseases and children, so he kept his opinion to himself. Besides, Puck’s hand felt nice stroking through his hair, and Beth was bouncing on the other side of the bed, arranging pillows and the stuffed animals she’d dragged from her room.
“No talking,” Puck said a moment before the thermometer beeped. He rolled his eyes and pulled it out of Kurt’s mouth, glancing down at the screen and shaking his head. “101. Sorry, babe, you’re not going anywhere.”
“I can’t stay home. Will’s already way behind, thanks to his little detour to Ohio, and...”
“And he can survive without you for a day or two. Besides, you think he wants you getting him sick? Then he’ll really be behind.”
He had a point, not that Kurt was going to admit it. Just like he wasn’t going to admit that maybe he did feel a little under the weather. He certainly didn’t feel up to spending an entire day going through a complex dance routine over and over again, but he hadn’t been working for Will that long, and he knew exactly how replaceable he was.
Puck held out a couple Tylenol, then he materialized a glass of water Kurt hadn't seen him set down. He took it gratefully and swallowed the pills, propped in a half-seated position against the wall behind the bed.
When Puck reached for his phone Kurt struggled to sit up, but he only got as far as slumping a little lower against the wall. As soon as he did Beth was next to him, tucking a pillow silk screened with the Disney Princesses behind his head. He smiled at her, then he swallowed the last of his dignity and leaned back against Belle and Cinderella.
“101 really isn’t that high, you know. Carole said that in adults...”
That was as far as he got before Puck held up a hand, then he was talking into Kurt’s cell. “Hey, Will. No, it’s Puck.”
He paused and glanced over at Kurt, grinning at the sight of Kurt propped up against Beth’s pink princess pillow and probably looking like death. “Yeah, everything’s fine, but Kurt’s not feeling so hot. He took care of Beth when she was sick last week, and he woke up with a fever this morning.”
Puck paused again, then he laughed into the phone, and Kurt was torn between wanting to hit him and thinking the sound of Puck laughing was ridiculously, unfairly hot. He couldn’t really do anything about either, though, so he settled for frowning when Puck grinned at him.
“Yeah, okay. I’ll tell him. Thanks, Will.”
He closed the phone and dropped it back on the nightstand, then he turned to face Kurt again. “Will says he hopes you feel better soon, and if you’re still sick tomorrow just to call him.”
“I’m not that sick,” Kurt insisted, but it was obvious to both of them that it was a lie.
“He also said you’ll probably make an awful patient,” Puck said, grinning when Kurt scowled. “Listen, I have to drop Beth off and get to the studio, but I’ll make you some breakfast before I go.”
“You can’t cook.”
Puck shrugged and stood up, glancing over at Beth where she was arranging her stuffed animals for the fourth time. “Fine, more pancakes for us, right, Squirt?”
“Can I have Mickey pancakes?” Beth asked, clamoring off the bed to follow Puck to the kitchen, her nursing duties abandoned in the face of carbs and maple syrup. Kurt considered accusing her of being a traitor, but she was only four, so she couldn’t really be held responsible for sharing her germs.
Instead he sighed and settled a little further into the princess pillow, closing his eyes to drift on the sounds of Puck rattling around in the kitchen. They’d lived together over three months and this was the first he was hearing about Puck’s secret pancake-cooking abilities, after all, and Kurt was fairly certain that was worth at least one breakfast in bed.