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A Duty of Care

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“Hugh I’m off my shift. You should have seen the look on Ensign Watkin’s face this afternoon when I told her I’m married. Newbies need to learn that I’m a taken man. You should just hand out a pamphlet or something—Hugh?” Paul asked. He walked around their quarters trying find the man. He eventually found him sitting on the floor in their bedroom near the closet. He saw Hugh’s face scrunched up and he was shaking. Paul knew that look from a mile away. Ever since he’d started dating Hugh, the doctor has had anxiety. Sure Hugh took medication for it, but anxiety attacks still took place.

Paul sat down gently next to Hugh and started by slowly rubbing his thumb in circles around the man’s hand, then squeezed it a few times, “I’m right here dear.”

“It—it just—I think it was because I pushed myself to hard today...I also forgot to take my meds so I was already a wreck.” Hugh mumbled out.

“You’re not a wreck Hugh. You work so hard. You are amazing, but you also should take care of yourself. Let’s take some deep breaths okay? You feel up to that? Or do you want to do the senses test?” He asked.

“I’ve been taking deep breaths. Hasn’t helped.’ Hugh breathed out, ‘I’m still shaky and I can’t—catch my breath well. It’s like an elephant is on me. Also, I feel like I’m not really here.”

“Alright, want to move and lay down?” Paul asked softly.

A shake of the head was the response from Hugh.

Paul nodded back and then took some deep breaths anyways so that Hugh could try and sync his breathing with him, then he said, “What are five things you can see?”

“Your face. Your gorgeous eyes. The bed. The callouses on your hands. Your implants.”

Paul smiled, “Good love, what about four things your can hear?”

“Well. Your voice. The whirl of the door closing down the hall...hm....’ Hugh really focused, ‘You scratching your arm because it itches and someone using the sonic shower in the quarters next to us.”

“Sorry. It’s itchy.” Paul shrugged.

“Then stop itching it.” Hugh frowned.

“But it itches!” He pointed out.

“I’ll get some ointment for you the next time I go on shift.”

“Thanks. Now, feeling any better?”

“A little. Can we continue?”

“Sure dear.” Paul continued on for the next 30 minutes and asked what three things he could smell, and what two things he could touch and what was one thing he could taste.

Of course, Paul did the last one after gently kissing Hugh. Hugh’s breathing was back to normal and he wasn’t shaking anymore at this point.

“No offense dear, you need to brush your teeth.” Hugh said making a grossed out face.

“Well you must be somewhat back to feeling better because you are saying nothing but negatives.”

“Am not.”

“Negative Ned.”

Hugh picked Paul up bridal style and carried him around their quarters.

“PUT ME DOWN!”

“Not till you apologize.”

“Fine, But you need to say something positive about me.”

“You look dashing this evening darling.” Hugh drawled.

“Alright. I’m sorry...negative Ned.” Paul smirked.

Hugh lifted him a little higher.

“HUGH CULBER YOU PUT ME DOWN THIS INSTANT.”

“No. Nada. Nope.”

Paul tickled the man, which caused Hugh to drop Paul on the bed, but gently. Then the two started tickling each other more.

“Enough. Alright. Enough.” Paul panted after a while.

“I love you so much babe, thank you.”

“For helping you with the anxiety attack? Love, there is no need. I’ll always be their for you. Just like you are always there for me. Now we should probably get some sleep. We both have early shifts tomorrow.”

“Agreed. Goodnight Paul.”

“Night Hugh.”

Paul curled up next to Hugh, who was spooning him. The two fell asleep a short while later.