Tahamine stepped out of the cold end-of-November weather and through the sliding glass doors of Saint Emmanuel General Hospital. After showing her ID to the receptionist in the waiting area, she got her visitor's pass, then took the elevator up to the trauma patient unit. After the elevator reached said floor, she stepped out of the elevator and headed for the room where her son was. She opened the door and, upon seeing her still-recovering son being checked on by Dr. Jaeger, quickly entered and sat down in the chair next to Arslan's bed, taking his hand.
"Hi, Mom," Arslan said quietly, almost as if he had lost his voice. He coughed, covering his mouth, while his mother looked on with concern.
"How are you doing, Arslan?" Tahamine asked, seeing that her baby boy looked like he had caught the flu, or, at the very least, a particularly bad cold. It wouldn't have surprised the mother of three if Arslan had, indeed, fallen victim to the evil villain that is Influenza. She then saw that Dr. Jaeger was wearing a look of concern while he looked at the thermometer he held.
"Grisha?" Tahamine asked. "What's wrong?"
Dr. Jaeger turned to Tahamine and replied, "Looks like Arslan has a bad cold. He has a 101° fever."
"This sucks," Arslan said. "It was bad enough that Dad made me participate in that stupid battle and I lost Shireen's present, now I'm sick as a dog."
"I'm so sorry, honey," Tahamine said gently and gave her son a hug, thinking, 'That bastard Andragoras! Letting my baby get injured like this!' After letting go, she smiled and said, "I'm still not done punishing your father for what he put you through." This statement made Arslan shudder. Tahamine continued reassuringly, "But don't worry about Shireen's present. You didn't lose it. The Turtles bought it and gave it to me to put away for your sister."
"Thank God," Arslan said and smiled. "At least something good came out of this."
"I hope your husband realizes how lucky he is that I'm not the one doling out his punishment," Dr. Jaeger said to Tahamine. "I think it's best I still leave that to you, since you're his wife."
"Oh, I'll be sure the bastard knows, Grisha," said Tahamine.
"Mom, Dr. Jaeger," Arslan said. "Maybe Dad's been punished enough, don't you think?" He then fell into a coughing fit, which scared Tahamine, while Dr. Jaeger tried patting his back to get the coughing to subside.
After Arslan's coughing stopped, Dr. Jaeger gently told him that whether or not Andy was done being punished was up to Tahamine.
"Still..." Arslan said, worried for his father. "I mean, maybe he's learned his lesson?"
"I'll see, honey," Tahamine replied. Just then, the trio heard the door open and turned their heads toward the sound. Three teenagers, two boys and a girl, entered rather quickly.
"Hey, guys!" Arslan said, happy now that he saw who had entered his room.
"Eren, Armin, Mikasa," Dr. Jaeger said with surprise. "What are you three doing here?"
One of the boys, a short-haired brunette with gray eyes and a somewhat tanned complexion, answered the doctor. "What do you think we're doing here, Dad? We're here to see Ars, duh." This was Eren Jaeger, Dr. Jaeger's son.
"Does your mother know you're not in school?" Dr. Jaeger asked Eren. He turned towards the other two teens with Eren and asked them, "Armin, Mikasa, do your parents know you're not in school either?"
Now it was the other boy, Armin's, turn to speak up. His blond bob whipped back and forth as he shook his head no. "Well, no, they don't."
"And you're not going to tell them," the girl, Mikasa, said and glared at Dr. Jaeger as she pushed her short black hair back from her face.
"I think I will," said Dr. Jaeger. He narrowed his eyes at his son as he added, "I'll especially tell your mother, Eren Regulus Jaeger."
Eren gulped, then said, "Please don't tell Mom."
"Dr. Jaeger, we just wanted to see our sick friend," Mikasa said in defense of her, Eren and Armin having skipped school. "That's all."
"Yeah," Armin said in agreement. "Do you really have to tell our parents?"
Dr. Jaeger sighed, then relented after a couple minutes of enduring Armin's blue puppy dog eyes. He let Armin and Mikasa know that he wouldn't notify their parents of what they did, but that Eren would be grounded once his mother heard about him playing hooky. After a little session of Eren complaining about being punished, the trio sat down and started talking with Arslan.
"Ars, I can't believe you went to Black Friday," Mikasa said in a firm but concerned tone. "Don't you know what happens to people on that day?"
"Yeah," Arslan replied. "But it wasn't my choice; my dad made me go. It was either participate in Black Friday at the Atropatene Mall and recruit some friends for that event, or be grounded for the rest of the year."
"That's awful!" Armin commented.
"Yeah!" said Eren. "If that bastard AndragorASS tries to set foot in this room, I'll make him wish Thanos got him instead of me!"
"Darkseid, even," Armin added.
"By Darkseid, do you mean one of the Justice League's enemies?" Mikasa asked.
"Yup," said Armin.
"Yikes. I wouldn't want to run into him," Mikasa commented. She shuddered at the thought of Andragoras crossing paths with the villain who can be described as practically a god.
"Same with Thanos," Arslan said and started coughing again.
"Ars!" Eren, Armin and Mikasa exclaimed worriedly while Tahamine gently rubbed her son's back, Dr. Jaeger doing the same.
After Arslan's coughing subsided, Dr. Jaeger looked at the teenage trio standing by Arslan's bed. "I think Arslan needs to rest for the moment. You three can see him again either later or tomorrow."
"But, Dad!" Eren said.
"No buts, Eren," Dr. Jaeger replied firmly, leading the kids to the door. "Doctor's orders. Plus, you need to explain to your mother why you felt the need to skip school today."
"Fine," Eren said in a disappointed tone, shoulders slumped as he looked back at his bedridden friend. "I guess we'll see you tomorrow, Ars."
"See you tomorrow," Arslan said quietly. He watched as the doctor led his friends out of the room. Before the door closed, he heard Dr. Jaeger repeat something about Eren being grounded.
After a few moments, a thoughtful Tahamine spoke up. "Hey, Arslan? How would you like it if I called Daryun and the rest of your friends, so they can come see you tomorrow?"
"That would be great," Arslan said and smiled at his mother. "Thanks, Mom." His eyes started getting heavy because of his fever; he could barely keep them open.
"You're welcome, son," Tahamine said and gave Arslan a hug just as Dr. Jaeger came back in the room. "I'll be back to see you later, okay?"
"Okay," Arslan replied and fell asleep almost right away. Tahamine gave him a loving pat on the head before quietly leaving the room.
The next morning, at around 8:00, Grisha walked into Arslan's room. After greeting him and asking how Arslan was doing, the doctor proceeded to check the boy's temperature and vitals. While Arslan tried eating some breakfast, his eyes fixed on the TV mounted on the wall before him, Grisha looked at Arslan's temperature with concern; it had not gone down since the day before.
"Arslan, I need to know: Have you been having any other symptoms, like a sore throat, other aches, anything like that?" Grisha asked.
"Yeah," Arslan replied and coughed. "Had a sore throat since last night. I'm kinda sore, too, and it's not my broken arm."
"Hm," Grisha said thoughtfully, then took out a cotton swab. "Okay, Ars. I need to take a throat culture, to see what's going on. Is that okay?"
"It's okay with me," Arslan said and let the doctor use the cotton swab on him. "Um, Dr. Jaeger, you don't need my parents' consent, do you?"
"Not for this test," Grisha replied and placed the cotton swab in a vial. "If you were having surgery, however, I would need at least your mother's say-so." He smiled and patted Arslan on the head. "Gotta go. I need to get this to the lab now. You just get some rest, and enjoy--" He looked over at the TV--"Cops: Livestream."
"Okay," Arslan said, and nodded and smiled back. "Hey, will Eren, Armin and Mikasa be back today?"
"If they can make it after school, yes," said Dr. Jaeger. He left the room, leaving Arslan to watch one of his favorite Friday shows. 'If my guess is right, the poor kid has the flu. Tahamine is gonna be even more pissed at Andy for sure if that's the case,' he thought.
Later that afternoon, Arslan had just woken up from a restless sleep when his family and friends came to visit. Even the Turtles risked being seen during the day just to see their bedridden friend. As promised, Tahamine had brought Daryun and the others along, and now she was trying to keep Andragoras out of her son's room.
"Tahamine!" Andragoras called through the door, pushing it with all his might. "Let me in there, dammit! I have every right to see my son! I haven't seen the kid all week!" He was unaware of the nursing staff and the receptionists stopping and staring right at him.
Tahamine opened the door just enough to see Andragoras glaring at her. She glared back and replied, "I'll let you in when Hell freezes over, bastard. As far as I'm concerned, you have no right to see Arslan."
Andragoras gulped when he saw his wife's eyes turn from blue to yellow. His glare returned after Tahamine shut the door on him once more. He turned around and saw the hospital staff staring at him. He fixed them with an even more intimidating glare and snapped, "What are you all looking at?!" The staff immediately stopped staring and scurried back to their jobs.
In the room, Arslan had heard his father yelling. He looked towards his mother and asked, "Mom, can't Dad come in?"
Tahamine smiled as she took a seat next to Arslan's bed. "I'm sorry, Arslan," she said gently. "But no, he may not."
"But why not?" Arslan asked, disappointed.
"Because," Tahamine said. "I, as your mother, don't think it's in your best interest to face him right now; seeing as he's the reason you're here in the first place. I heard from Dr. Jaeger that you have the flu, and I think seeing that asshat will just exacerbate your condition."
"Come on, Mom, I'm sick and injured here," Arslan protested, then fixed his mother with a puppy dog stare. "Please, can't Dad come in? Maybe he's learned his lesson. Pleeease?"
After a couple minutes of trying to resist her son's stare, Tahamine relented. "Oh, all right. You win. Your father can come in." As she went to the door, she said to herself, "Why did Layla have to teach him that stare?" She opened the door and finally let Andragoras in.
Shireen looked at Daryun and asked, "Daryun, what does exacterbate mean?"
"That's exacerbate, Rena," Daryun answered the little girl on his lap. "And to exacerbate means to make something that's already bad worse. For example, when your mom said your dad would exacerbate Ars' condition, she meant that he would make Ars' condition worse."
"Oh, okay," Shireen said and nodded. She hopped off Daryun's lap and jumped between Arslan's bed and Andragoras, glaring at the man. "Don't exacter--exacerbate--Ars' condition!" she said, then got up and sat on her brother's bed.
Elam glared at Andragoras as well and said, "She's right! You better not make Ars worse, or else Narsus will paint your portrait!"
"Elam!" Narsus exclaimed, then turned to look at Daryun, who was trying to hold in a fit of laughter. "Daryun! You've been negatively influencing my little brother again, haven't you?!"
"Hey, the kid knows good art when he sees it," Daryun replied and shrugged. "Not my fault you're a slop artist."
"What's up their butts?" Andragoras asked just as Hermes, Xandes and the Turtles came in with a whole bunch of food.
"Poop!" Shireen said, only for Andragoras to ignore her, while Raph said to him, "Oh come on, Andy, that was funny!"
"That was just an expression, sis," Arslan said and chuckled.
"Special delivery," Donnie said cheerfully.
"Boy, you wouldn't believe the food here!" Mikey said and deposited the food he was holding onto Arslan's little food table. "It's like Sizzler's opened up a hospital! Take your pick, Ars; Hermes and Xandes helped us get enough for everybody here."
"We got a little bit of almost everything," Leo said.
"Thanks, guys," Arslan said happily and picked out a cheeseburger, a can of Coke, and some chocolate pudding. Shireen did the same.
"No problem," Xandes said and grinned, patting Arslan on the head. "Anything for my little buddy."
"Hey, Ars," Donnie said. "Sorry we haven't been by to see you until today. We wanted to come see you before, but we've had a lot of missions lately."
"That's alright," Arslan replied and grinned at the purple-masked turtle. "I understand; you need to protect the city, after all."
"So, Arslan," Estelle said through a mouthful of toasted sub sandwich. "When do you think you're getting out of here?"
"Not sure," Arslan said between bites of his burger. "It was supposed to be a week or two, but since I have the flu now, it could be a little longer."
"Bummer," Estelle commented, once again with her mouth full.
"Come on, Estelle," Alfreed addressed the younger teen. "Don't talk with your mouth full. That's gross, not to mention a bad habit."
Estelle swallowed her bite and said, "Sorry about that."
"Hey, Ars," Shireen announced to her brother, smiling as she did so. "Guess what? I'm gonna see Santa next week! When it's my turn to sit on his lap, I'm gonna ask him to make you better before Christmas."
"That's so sweet," the Turtles said in unison, looking and sounding like they were going to cry.
Arslan smiled at his sister's announcement. "That's a very kind gesture, Rena. But maybe you should ask for something for yourself, too."
"I think that's what she wants the most," Hermes said. He was about to say more, but was cut off by Andragoras addressing the Turtles:
"Hey! How is it you four were able to just walk into this hospital without frightening people? When I came in, people ran away, thinking I was a cave troll, or a mountain troll, or--"
"Basically, people thought he was a troll," Tahamine interrupted Andy the Troll Man.
"Well, we just walked in, that's all," said Mikey.
"This is New York, Dad," Arslan answered on behalf of his friends. "I'm pretty sure there are stranger things out there than four humanoid turtles."
"Yeah," Shireen said in agreement. "Like those people on Cops: Livestream right now." She pointed to the TV, which now featured a couple of people acting strangely in front of a pair of police officers.
Leo looked at the show. "So, you like this show, Ars?"
"Sure I do," said Arslan. "It can be pretty amusing with who these officers run into."
"Hey, look!" Armin exclaimed and pointed to the TV. "It's Historia's dad!" Shown on Cops: Livestream was a man who appeared to be middle-aged, well-dressed, with dark hair and a moustache, being dragged out of a building in handcuffs. He also appeared to be intoxicated; he was having trouble walking, was talking nonsensically, and his face had a reddish tint to it. Following behind the officers were two girls: a young adult woman with long dark hair, wearing a white dress, and a teenage girl with long blond hair, wearing a baby blue dress. Both girls appeared to be extremely embarrassed.
"Dad!" the younger girl said, her hands now over her face. "Why?"
"Unhand me, you ruffians!" the drunk man yelled as he was being put into the police car. "Don't you know who I am?! I am--" His words were cut off after one of the cops shut the door on him.
"Oh. My. God," Mikasa said and dropped her bag of Funyons. "Rod Reiss, one of New York's elite, getting pinched?"
"Now that's funny!" Eren said and high-fived Mikasa. The both of them doubled over laughing, while Armin just stared at the TV.
"Poor Historia," Arslan commented on the depicted events.
"Yeah," Armin agreed. "She doesn't need this crap."
"What a disgrace!" Andragoras said while watching Cops: Livestream. "One of this fair city's elite, carrying on like that! I can't believe he owns a share of Pars Corporation! His actions today will most likely give the company, and New York City, a bad name!"
"I told you that guy was trouble, Andy," said Tahamine. She was now reading Breakfast At Tiffany's, ignoring Andragoras exclaiming for her not to call him Andy. "But did you listen to me? No, you did not." She put her book down and looked at the TV. "You know, I feel bad for his kids. All of them, especially Historia."
Andragoras pointed to the Turtles. "I still don't see how these four can freely walk around this hospital, while people look at me and run away in fear."
"It's simple," Mikey said. "We're cute. Especially me!"
"But you're talking turtles!" said Andragoras. "I'm a human!"
"Since when?" Eren asked. Everyone else laughed.
"Eren, you...!" Andragoras said. He turned his glare on Eren and gritted his teeth.
"That's enough, Andy," Tahamine said. Her nails started turning into claws, almost tearing her book's cover.
"Okay, okay," a now frightened Andragoras said. "Shutting up now." He sighed in relief when he saw Tahamine's claws revert back to nails.
"Good," Tahamine said and put her book in her purse. She and the others spent the rest of the visit watching Cops: Livestream and talking with Arslan, until he started to get exhausted. After he fell asleep, the visiting party were asked to leave for the day.
After the Turtles left for their nightly patrol, and after everyone else left for their homes, the Baris family was waiting in the hospital parking lot. After getting into the car that arrived to pick them up, Andragoras and Tahamine got into an argument over their son.
"I didn't realize until I saw him that his condition was that bad," Andragoras commented, a surprising hint of remorse in his voice.
"Really?" Tahamine asked in a disbelieving tone, turning to look at her husband. "Really? You mean, when I told you Arslan was in surgery on Black Friday, you honestly thought I meant something minor, like his tonsillectomy when he was five?"
"Well...I-I really didn't think I would see him that beat up," Andragoras said hastily. "And what happened to his left arm?!"
"Daryun told me that either Kharlan, or one of his Lusitania Villas buddies, broke our baby's arm," said Tahamine. She abruptly turned away from Andragoras and looked out the window at New York City flying by, then turned to look back at him seconds later. "Oh, by the way, Arslan is not participating in Black Friday anymore! Got that?!"
"You'd really interfere with a Baris family tradition?" Andragoras asked angrily.
"Fuck that stupid so-called "tradition"!" Tahamine yelled in her husband's face, startling Hermes, Shireen and the driver. "And I can't believe you'd ask that after seeing the state your son was in today!"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry," Andragoras said quickly, holding his hands up in surrender. "I really am sorry, Tahamine."
Tahamine huffed and sat back, staring at the car ceiling, putting a hand on her forehead as if she had a headache. "Fine. Apology accepted. But our son is really the one you should apologize to." She sighed as the car finally pulled up to Ecbatana Apartments, then thanked the driver and got out, carrying Shireen with her. Andragoras and Hermes followed. The four of them went into the building, greeted Liam the doorman, and took the elevator up to their floor, then said goodnight and retired to their respective apartments.