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Fever

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Amir woke in a confused, uncomfortable state. His body was drenched in sweat and his stomach churned in pain.

“Ugh. La-a ,” he muttered to himself in Arabic as he rolled out of his cot and made his way to the bathroom. He barely made it to the toilet before he lost it. He growled and scolded himself for getting sick. He looked at his watch. 01:00. He contemplated sticking it out until McGuire woke up, but he quickly remembered the man’s only request upon first meeting.

“Don’t hide anything from me, no matter how insignificant you might think it is. I don’t care where we are. I don’t care what time it is. Just find me and tell me,” he said firmly, but with compassion, “I can’t keep you alive if I don’t know something is wrong.”

Amir groaned and pulled himself up off the cold bathroom tiles and moved across the hall to McGuire’s room. He remembered that McGuire asked the team to enter and wake him, rather than knock, so he quietly opened the door and creeped inside. McGuire was sound asleep, shirtless and lying on his stomach. A long arm draped down to the floor, while the other was curled under his pillow. He snored, which made Amir smirk. Perhaps a reason he had the room furthest removed from the others.

“McGuire,” Amir said quietly, putting his hand on the man’s bare shoulder. McGuire instantly stirred and opened his eyes, staring up to register who was there, “It’s Amir.”

McG pulled himself up and ran a hand through his hair, “What’s up?”

Instantly awake and not even a touch of annoyance. Amir was impressed.

“My supper.”

“Well, that sucks,” he said, switching on the lamp near his cot and turning to look at the man, “Yup, you look like crap.”

McGuire stood and guided Amir over to his desk chair. He quickly retrieved a kit from the drawer, along with his medical journal and proceeded to take Amir’s temperature and assess his overall state.

Amir quietly gazed at a framed photograph on the desk of the medic and a Native American woman. The woman had long black hair, deep midnight eyes, and a notable long scar on the left side of her face. She was tall, though not as tall as McGuire. Her cheekbones were defined and her presence, even in a photograph, was strong. His mother, Amir postulated, noting the resemblance.

“She’s beautiful.”

McGuire’s eyes jumped up, his focus pulled from the notes he was making in his journal. He registered what Amir had said and glanced over at the photograph, “Oh,” he smiled, “Yeah. Niksíssta .”

Amir tilted his head, ever so slightly, and repeated the word in his mind.

Niksíssta. ‘My mother’. Her name is Kanti,” McG explained with a soft smile as he continued writing in his journal.

“She looks young,” Amir noted, looking again at the photograph of the two of them. It was clearly a recent photograph, considering McGuire’s age in the photo.

“She had me when she was fourteen,” McGuire revealed.

Fourteen. His sister’s age. He couldn’t imagine her being a mother then. She was just a child herself. And to do it alone? How did that happen? Amir’s curiosity was powerful at that moment, so he ventured a question, “You’ve said before that you have no father...” he stated tentatively.

McGuire shrugged his shoulders and tucked the journal up to his torso, “I don’t.”

“Well, technically that isn’t true…”

He only smiled and waved Amir toward the door, “To the exam room, please.”

The exam room was a converted bunk room that acted as a storage space for medical supplies and a place for private examinations, if needed. McG unlocked the door and turned on the light, allowing Amir to enter before him. He softly closed the door behind him, attempting to avoid waking Dalton in the next room, and set his journal on the counter where he took up his stethoscope.

Amir was quiet, not pushing the topic any further, as McGuire checked his lungs and heart.

After the medic finished scribbling a note in his book, he turned to Amir and leaned back on the counter, crossing his arms in front of him.

Niksíssta was assaulted. I have no idea who he is. He was never caught,” he stated quietly, but with no hesitation, “He wouldn’t want me to find him though. Áaksipáínihkaawa, ” he added with a bitter tone in his voice and turned back around to retrieve the blood pressure cuff. He offered no translation for the word Amir had not yet learned.

Amir absorbed the information carefully. The scar on her face was likely from the assault. McGuire was clearly protective of his mother, for Amir heard the anger in his voice. But he didn’t sense the man had any issue with the lack of a father. Amir did wonder exactly what Ahanu might do if he ever learned the identity of the perpetrator. In his mind, he repeated the word Joseph had stated so coldly and vowed to look it up later.

“I’m sorry she experienced that,” Amir offered after a quiet moment had passed.

He smiled sadly, “She has no memory of it,” he said as he placed the cuff on Amir’s arm, “I’m glad for that.”

“Yes.”

McGuire worked in silence for a few moments and Amir took the opportunity to close his weary eyes. He felt McGuire’s presence leave his side at one point, but it returned quickly.

“Your fever is a bit high, but everything else is good.”

Amir opened his eyes and nodded.

“Let’s get you back to bed,” McGuire said as he proceeded to help Amir up from the cot and over to his room directly across the hall.

As soon as Amir was sitting upon his own bed again, McGuire handed him some ibuprofen and grabbed the water bottle off the night table.

“Take that. I’ll get you some cold packs,” he said as he turned to leave the room, “and a bucket.”

Amir chuckled sleepily, took the pills, and lay back in bed. After a few moments, McGuire returned and immediately set to work settling Amir in, placing cold packs and towels around his head and chest. It was an intimate gesture to which Amir wasn’t accustomed. He’d certainly had a nurse or two tend to him in a hospital in previous years, but this was different. He was reminded of when he was a child and his marbiat 'atfal would tend to him when he was ill. It had been many, many years since he’d had anyone close enough to him to care for him when he was vulnerable. And in his private room, at that. It wasn’t unwelcome. It was just...unfamiliar.

McGuire seemed to sense the man’s hesitation and spoke up when he was finished sorting him, “Amir, you’re part of a team now. We take care of each other,” he smiled and turned out the lamp and headed toward the door, “Sleep. I’ll check on you later.”

And with that, he was gone. He heard the medic rustle around in the exam room before turning out the light and locking the door. A few footfalls later, he heard a soft click of another door and Amir knew McGuire was safely back in his own room. He closed his eyes and waited for sleep to claim him.

 

*******

 

Four hours later, McGuire’s watch alarm sounded causing him to sit straight up in bed and instinctively run a hand over his face.

Amir , he remembered his teammate’s poor condition and swung his legs over the side of his cot.

As he gathered his supplies from the exam room, he smiled to himself. The newest team member had heeded his request to inform him of any issues. Finally, a compliant patient. It was a bit more like pulling teeth with a couple other team members. At least Top grudgingly obeyed, setting an example for the other two.

McGuire exited to the hall, instantly noticing movement one door down. Speak of the Devil , he thought and nodded at his captain before he quietly entered Amir’s room.

McGuire found Amir asleep in nearly the same position he’d left him in. That’s good, he thought, noting that his sleep wasn’t too restless. Without waking the man, he proceeded to check his temperature and remove the towels and cold packs.

Amir stirred, but didn’t wake and McGuire noted a slight increase in the man’s temperature, Well damn. That’s NOT good.

He set his supplies aside and headed out to the common space to retrieve more cold packs and towels. He found Top leaned over the coffee pot.

“Does it brew faster if you stare at it?” he smirked.

“Pretty sure it does,” Dalton answered, humor in his voice, “Amir okay?”

“Fever, vomiting.”

Dalton watched McGuire gather the cold packs.

“Could you get this warming on the stove, please?” McGuire more stated than asked, as he held out a frozen soup bag.

Adam nodded, taking the bag. He smirked as he watched the medic walk back to Amir’s room. McGuire was an interesting mix. He was extremely obedient as a team member - Dalton couldn’t think of a time he’d had to ask twice for McGuire to do something. But, when he had a patient? He didn’t hesitate to take command and make demands. Though, never in a dictatorial way. It was one of Dalton’s favorite things about the man.

Back in the room, McGuire replaced the towels and cool packs around Amir, causing him to flutter awake, “Sorry, bud. Your fever went up.”

Amir grunted in disapproval and closed his eyes.

“I need you to take more ibuprofen and sit up to eat in a little while.”

La-a ,” Amir growled, not opening his eyes or moving to sit up.

McGuire chuckled, “Sit up, please.”

LA-A .” Amir grumbled more firmly. Amused, McG wondered if he had thought too soon about the whole ‘compliant patient’ thing. He smiled, understanding Amir’s frustration.

“Amir. Up. These will asaedak .”

Amir opened his eyes and sighed as he pulled himself up far enough to swallow the pills.

Shukraan," McG said in response to Amir's compliance.

Amir rolled his eyes and growled as he settled back down. McGuire had to tell himself to contain his laughter. Guess that one extra degree of fever kicked Amir into a different mood setting. Frustrated Amir was kinda funny.

He made sure the cold packs were in place and went out to tend to the soup. When it was ready, he returned to Amir’s room and woke him.

“Eat a little, please.”

“No.”

“Amir.”

La-a ,” Amir mumbled.

“Seriously. Are you five years old? Just eat it,” McGuire huffed, pushing the bowl toward the sick man.

Amir held out his hand and looked McGuire straight in the eyes.

Ahanu! Ássáaksisstsiiwookit!” Amir finally demanded, speaking Blackfoot. McGuire broke into a huge smile, causing Amir to roll his eyes and groan, “I’ll be sick. I can’t eat that.”

“The pronunciation was good!” McGuire commented excitedly. Amir groaned again, making McGuire smile, “It’s only broth, Amir. I really don’t want you taking the ibuprofen on an empty stomach. Just a little please.”

Amir glared up at McGuire, “Will you leave me alone to sleep after this?”

“Yes.”

“Fine,” Amir sat up and slowly sipped at the broth as he watched McGuire scribble notes in his book, “What are you writing?”

“That you are compliant at a 101 degree fever, but a whiny jerk at 102,” McGuire deadpanned.

Amir instantly handed the bowl back to McGuire, a scowl spread across his face. McGuire chuckled and took the bowl, pleased with the few sips Amir had taken.

“Sleep it off, buddy,” McGuire said compassionately, as he gathered his things and exited the room with a smirk.