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It hurts. That’s the first thing Hanna registers this morning in Tom’s bed when she’s supposed to be slowly getting up to get ready for work.

It hurts literally everywhere. Not the beautifully aching feeling she sometimes has when she hasn’t been with Tom in a long while, and they spend their days (and nights) in his or her bed.

It’s the pain of it hurts to swallow, to breathe, to move or simply it hurts to do anything. But she can’t be sick, she isn’t sick.

The company she’s working for in Public Relations is part of a big trade fair and today’s the deadline for press kits. Which means, texts have to be proofread one last time, everything needs to be on 500 mp3 sticks (which have to work afterwards, not a single glitch) and journalists have to be called.

No, she’s going to work today. It’s Thursday. Two days and then it’s the weekend anyways.

Tom’s arm is wrapped heavily around her waist and Hanna has to use all of her strength - which admittedly isn’t much today - to curl beneath it and get up.

She holds herself on the wall. Really. Even her toes hurt today.

Hanna can’t help the groan that escapes her as she slowly, oh so slowly makes her way to the bathroom.

There’s a snuffly groan from Tom, and she freezes. Speaking of freezing…has it always been this cold in Tom’s bedroom? Or is that because she’s disentangled herself from 6′2″ of body heat and muscles?

She casts a look towards the rumpled sheets–whoa, even turning her eyeballs hurts—and sighs at the sight of Tom all sprawled out across his and her half of the bed, his hair nicely disheveled and one long arm flung out to where she lay a moment ago. God, the wingspan of this man…

Luckily, Tom is too exhausted to wake up and demand cuddles. He’s back from a tiring week-long stint of shooting and needs his sleep, though she suspects he’ll go for a run soon anyway.

Swallowing a bucket full of rusty nails–at least it feels like that–Hanna lurches into the bathroom and stares bleerily at her reflection.

Yay for looking as if the cat dragged her in. Time for war paint make-up. And here’s to hoping the world-famous actor with his sometimes blissfully scatter-brained modus operandi has some pain killers in his bathroom cabinet.

If she didn’t feel so awful, she’d grin. Spending more time at Tom’s flat has been an adventure. Though beautiful, the place is a sterotypical bachelor’s pad, and she’s slowly been ‘smuggling’ a few of her things and practical every-day stuff over because they’ve been through some hilarious mishaps and minor crises the past weeks.

She indeed finds the much needed pain killers. Right next to her ‘lady things’ that Tom bought after a slightly panicky call from him at Tescos asking what the heck she meant by ‘the normal ones’.

So, after brushing her teeth - which makes her choke so hard she almost vomits - she takes two pills, whooping silently.

Then she freezes - again - as she hears Tom from the bedroom. “Han?” he asks in that sleepy, husky morning voice of his. God, she’d give anything to crawl back to bed with him.

“Yeah?” she answers, trying to sound especially cheery. She doesn’t succeed, as to her ears - which hurt - she sounds like Rod Stewart is having a sore throat. “I’m in the bathroom.”

“’me back to bed, love. ‘S lonely without you.”

Ugh, if only smiling or chuckling wouldn’t hurt so much right now. She loves it that Tom slurs and butchers his words when he’s barely awake, like when he’s drunk. The prim and proper gentleman and his oh-so eloquent aphrodisiac of a voice, all sleep-slurred and gravelly. Yup, definitely a turn on.

But not today.

“Can’t. Late.” She still doesn’t sound cheerful, and shouting is Grade A torture.

“If you’re al’dy late, how ‘bout making you even later, hm?”

For heaven’s sake, why does he have to be like this? Why can’t he be grumpy like a normal human at this ungodly time of the day? Then again, Tom is a very non-grumpy person in general, and that’s one of the reasons why she loves him. And oh, the naughty things they’ve been up to on early mornings already…

Wow, that was a tiny twinge of arousal. But then she shudders with cold again, her teeth rattling.

Nope. So not happening today.

With a barely restrained groan, Hanna pulls her long hair together, basically painting her face today and sways out of the bathroom.

She’s got her clothes waiting for her in Tom’s bedroom, draped over a chair. She’s so not in the mood for those today.

“Still waiting,” is the greeting she receives when she enters the bedroom.

“Tom, I can’t,” she croaks. “Busy.”

“Hmmm,” he hums. “Shower together?”

Ah, damn. Showering. Well, she’s going to survive one day without it and tonight she’s going to have a nice long hot bath.

“Nooo.” She sounds whiney now and is already halfway into her trousers and blouse.

She also avoids looking at him, but at Tom’s concerned “Han? You alright?” she does and looks directly into his blue eyes.

“Fine,” she croaks - again - and sniffles.

Something isn’t quite right.

Tom forces himself to wake up fully. Hanna didn’t sound like herself, and while she’s never really a morning person, his..um…persuasive abilities usually work wonders.

He sits up and rubs his eyes, thinking he might’ve heard a sniffle. Why isn’t she even looking at him or giving him a good morning kiss?

There’s another sniveling sound, and Hanna finally meets his gaze.

With a gasp, Tom shoots up from the bed.

“Love, what’s the matter?”

She shoves out her hands before he can approach her. “Nope.” It’s more of a croak than a proper ‘no’, like a frog stuck deep in a well with icy water. “Don’t get close. And please don’t panic. Can’t handle that.”

She turns around, flinches as if in pain, and pulls on her clothes.

Even with a generous helping of make-up, Tom could see right away that she’s unwell. Is it a cold? Dear God, is it the flu?

He grabs her hand, which feels hot and shakes a bit. “Han, you’re coming down with something horrible, I’m sure of it. Why the hell would you want to go to work? Stay home and let me take care of you.”

She shakes her head which admittedly makes her dizzy. Yes, she’s stubborn, but ugh. Damn him and his caring and his soft eyes that shift to meet hers and his soft touch… Yeah, damn him.

“Can’t, Tom. Not today.”

“Well, that’s bullshit. You’re sick today.”

She rolls her eyes. That hurts too, of course. “It’s the deadline for the press kit today. It’s only me and 500 copies. Can’t leave them hanging.” Well, that was a long talk.

“You’re basically dead on your feet, Hanna.”

Ugh. There are the worrying eyebrows and her full name. She still shakes her head. “Please, Tom.”

Tom suppresses a sigh. Sometimes she infuriates him. Mule-headed. That’s what she is. Too stubborn for her own good. He’s got a stubborn streak of his own–well, okay, maybe more than a streak–but he draws the line at physical health.

“For heaven’s sake, Hanna, it’s not like you’re a sickly child who has a strict parent breathing down her neck. You work for a big company. And do your job so well that they’ll surely let this slide. You’re not doing them a favour by showing up half-dead and distributing germs.”

She manages to glare at him despite the feverish glint to her puffy eyes, which hurts his heart.

“Just shut up, Tom.” Cough, snivel. “I have to do this. You wouldn’t understand.”

There it is, the anger that sometimes grabs him by the throat, surprising nobody more than himself.

“Oh, I wouldn’t?” He steps closer, deliberately dwarfing her although a part of him just wants to hug her and make all the hurt go away. He’s a carer by nature, and if she’d let him, he’d always take care of her. But she doesn’t; she values her independence (and yes, he loves that about her too, but…)

“And why’s that? Because I don’t have a normal job like you, is it? Because everyone thinks I’m a fucking VIP and just dabble in a bit of easy-peasy acting and sleep on roses for most of the year?”

Tom grabs her arm when she merely blinks at him, teetering a bit.

“Goddammit, Hanna, you look like you will keel over on the sidewalk if you venture out. You’re as hot as an oven and sniffling every ten seconds. And you honestly expect me to let you go to work in this state and watch you make things a million times worse? Well, newsflash, I do work hard. Have driven myself to physical and mental exhaustion a few times. And I’ve learned my fucking lesson. For once, stop being stubborn and treat yourself right.”

The glare she gives him in return loses its intensity a bit with two sneezes and a cough that accompany it. He really wants to hug her now.

“Well, newsflash to you too, I’ve seen you during Coriolanus last year when you were sick half of the time, and right now you’re more on the skinny side of healthy because of Hank.” Another cough. And he knows where this his going before Han can even finish her sentence. “So maybe don’t tell me how to treat a body right.” There. He knew it. “And also,” she goes on, “you don’t ‘let me’ go. If I want to go to work and finish this project, I will.”

Tom lets go of her arm and doesn’t suppress a sigh this time. Damn her.

“Han…”

“Don’t ‘Han’ me.” Tom is shocked when he sees tears well up in her eyes, but she still won’t let him come closer. “I feel like crap. And I have to go to work, because I’ve been there for a year now and this is my first big project to manage alone. I can’t miss the last hours of the deadline, okay?”

She’s panting heavily now and Tom just wants to drag her back to bed. He’s pretty sure that she’ll be asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.

“I’ll finish at half 4 this afternoon. And then I’ll get some stuff from my flat and come here and you can take care of me, okay?”

He doesn’t know if she tries to be seductive or cute, but both is lost in another coughing fit anyway.

“Hanna, I don’t feel good with this…”

Tom’s caring, and yes, maybe, tiny bit of overprotective, side fights with the side of ‘You’re not her guardian’. Sometimes - in situations like these - he hates that Hanna’s so independent. He wouldn’t change it for anything though.

“I know you don’t,” she croaks in response. “But you won’t change my mind this time. And I really don’t have the time to discuss this for another ten minutes.”

Her big eyes shine up at him and Tom sighs. “You’ll be here at 4.”

“5, I’ll need a change of clothes.”

“Fine. You’ll be here by 5. You won’t go in tomorrow and you’ll let me take care of you.”

Hanna grins - well, grimaces - and holds out a hand. “Deal.”

Tom looks at her shaking hand, sighs again and ignores it…going for the hug she so desperately needs and he so desperately wants to give.

Her protesting squeak and cough are muffled against his body. For a fleeting moment, Tom wonders whether being near her is such a good idea and whether singing Hank’s songs with flu-like symptoms in a week will even work. Then he stops caring because Han comes first. They’ve reached a stage in their relationship where he’s realizing more and more how important she is to him. How integral to his life, his happiness.

He rubs his hands up and down her back, feeling as if he were embracing an oven and not flinching when she coughs into his chest.

“I swear, I feel this irrepressible urge to pick you up, throw you onto the bed and spank your hide for being so bloody irresponsible and stubborn.”

Hanna wriggles out of his embrace, swaying and blinking. “Save the kinky shit for when I’m feeling better,” she croaks, and Tom can’t help a quick grin.

“How about you really let me take care of you and get well extra fast so you’re ready for said ‘kinky shit’, Miss Engels?”

With another grimace and a snuffly huff, Hanna turns away to grab her bag.

“Nice try, Hiddleston. I’m out.”

Tom watches her wobble away, biting down on the urge to ask her to at least let him accompany her to work because he knows the answer will be ‘no’.


 

Well, this was a stupid idea. Massively stupid, Hanna can even hear Tom shouting “I’ve told you so” all the way from Hampstead.

It all went fine at work, even though she almost died from a coughing fit - twice. Her boss praised her, before he threatened to fire her if Hanna even comes close to work tomorrow. So, there’s that.

It’s half past 4 - as she promised - and she’s packed her clothes - as she promised. But goodness, her head. Her brain feels like it’s wrapped up in wool while simultaneously trying to jump out of her skull. She’s also not sure if she’s still breathing. But you have to breathe to cough, right? And Hanna was afraid to take a break today, so she’s tired.

She stares at her bed. The big, inviting, though a little empty without Tom, bed with the fresh linens.

She’s on time, even a little early, so closing her eyes for five minutes won’t hurt her plans.

Hanna plants herself onto the bed, shoes and clothes from work still wrapped around her body. She’s going to change when she’s with Tom.

For now, Han simply wants to close her eyes. She lies down, snuggling into her pillow. Just five minutes.


 

It’s half past 5.

Tom knows because he’s been checking his watch every ten minutes, ever since half past 4.

Still no Hanna.

He’s died about a dozen small deaths today, worrying himself sick about her being sick. Oh, the irony. He’s sent a dozen texts, telling himself he shouldn’t call because she’s stressed enough and speaking probably hurts.

Not a single reply.

He shouldn’t mind. But he does. And he worries. With a grimace, he remembers Emma once teasing him that he’s a clucking mother hen when it comes to people who are important to him.

So what if he is? Better to care too much than too little, right?

Where the fuck is Hanna?

He shoots off the couch and paces, then punches speed dial and calls her.

Nothing.

Jesus freaking Christ, what if she’s collapsed during work and they took her to the hospital or something? Nobody would know to notify him. He closes his eyes against Hanna half-delirious and surrounded by white.

“Don’t freak out, Hiddleston,” he mutters tersely to himself. “Get your arse to her flat, find out whether she’s made it home. Then maybe try work.”

He grabs all the things he got ready for Han, throws them haphazardly into his trusty black traveling bag and bolts out the door.

There’s a pounding in her head. It’s probably what rouses Hanna from her sleep. The pounding in her head also calls her name though.

Wait? She was asleep? Oh shit. Oh no. The pounding calls her name again. This time in the faint voice of Tom.

She groans and frees herself from the bedsheets. She’s even wearing her shoes still. With a hand trying to hold her head she sways towards her front door. It’d be great if she could make the way without falling flat on her face.

The pounding intensifies as she gets nearer to her door. When she swings it open she’s greeted by the blue, wide and worried eyes of Tom.

“Oh fuck,” she starts. Well, she wants to, but her voice leaves her halfway.

Tom still understood her as it seems. “Oh fuck, indeed. Hanna, you look horrible.”

Now, that’s just rude. And mean. She wants to tell him but since there’s no sound leaving her, she tries with mouthing, ‘rude’.

He raises an eyebrow. “I was worried. What did you do?! It’s almost 6!”

Hanna shrugs. Honestly? Right now, she would like to simply fall into Tom’s arms. She’s already swaying a bit as if her body’s faster than her brain.

“Tired,” she mumbles and leans forward, hoping to be caught in his embrace. If not, this is going to get embarrassing real fast.

Hanna looks like hell. Tom’s heart squeezes, and he reacts on autopilot when she sways towards him. The bag drops to the floor and he catches her limp body in a safe embrace.

“Jesus, woman, are you trying to kill yourself, and me along with it?” he mutters into her hair, which is disheveled and a bit damp as if she’s been sweating out her fever. She’s still wearing her work clothes, even her shoes.

“So…dramatic,” comes her wheezed reply that he has to guess because her voice is slurred and whisper-soft.

“And you think working yourself to near-death and fainting on your boyfriend isn’t dramatic?” Tom asks with a resigned sigh as he cradles her close and maneuvers her forward and to the side in an awkward dance.

He kicks the bag into the corridor, bumps the door shut with his hip and decides he can get out of his jacket and shoes later.

Hanna mumbles something against his chest, hanging in his arms like a human-shaped sack of potatoes.

Tom shifts, stoops a little and catches his stubborn, ill girlfriend under her legs and shoulders. He wishes he hadn’t slimmed down so much for his role as Hank Williams, running himself almost to stick-figure shape and feeling less strong than he’d like it. Still, he manages to carry Hanna into her bedroom without dumping them both on the floor.

“My hero,” he hears her whisper before she coughs so long and hard his body is shaking along with it.

Well, at least he remembered in all his worried haste to pick up some medicine at the pharmacy. He has a feeling Hanna didn’t see a doctor or get medication.

“Bed, my damsel in distress,” he commands, lays her down on it and then kneels to remove her shoes.

“N’ funny business,” Hanna mumbles into her pillow. “Hon'rebl woman.”

Tom rolls his eyes as he huffs at her. At least she hasn’t lost her humour along with her voice. “I know, Han. No funny business.”

He’s got her shoes loose and before he can even grab at her leg, Hanna’s wiggled herself into the sheets and moved her legs closer to her chest.

Even now she’s stubborn.

“Han?” he asks. “You want to let me undress you?”

No answer. Oh god, she’s not unconscious right?

“Han?”

Still no answer. But she mumbles now. Tom feels a little like he’s got a small child with him. But he admits she’s a little cute like that. When she’s not fainting or coughing.

Hanna’s torn between wanting to be left alone to die–or well, at least sleep in peace–and wanting to be pampered by Tom. For one moment there, he seemed like the literal knight in shining armour when he swept her off her feet like that. Yikes, feverish hallucinations. But he’s always got that quality to him, bless his caring, somewhat overbearing heart of gold.

And she likes it when he gets a little bossy, though she wishes she wouldn’t feel like a zombie so she could bask in it.

“I hate it that you were right.” She mumbles it into the pillow, her already incoherent words muffled. He probably doesn’t understand a word because she hears him hush her gently.

Then his hands are everywhere, and somehow, miraculously, she’s out of her sweat-soaked, uncomfortable work clothes and in her favourite, well-worn and soft pajama.

There’s a glass held to her lips while a big hand cradles her head and holds it up. She obediently takes a sip of water–shit, that hurts, but she’s thirsty–and swallows the two pills followed by more water.

She’s aware of Tom talking to her, softly and tenderly. It’s not words or sentences to her, just a backdrop of gentle reassurance that soothes her.

The last thing she notices is the sheets tucked firmly around her and a cooling hand on her burning forehead.

While Hanna is literally out cold, Tom is busy with unpacking and handling everything he’s got for her.

The ingredients for the homemade chicken soup are already lined up in the counter. If he starts now, it’ll have cooked long enough by 11 and should be ready for Han to eat tomorrow.

Tom puts away the array of teas he’s brought with him while he does everything - mostly reciting lines - to keep himself from checking in on her every five minutes.

She won’t feel better for awhile and he won’t either, seeing his stubborn and strong-willed girlfriend so fragile.

The oranges for a freshly pressed juice go in a basket along with other fruits if she feels like it, and lemons if she wants a hot drink with honey.

Right now though, her throat seems to hurt no matter what she does, so those are for later. He’s already given her the pain killers and the soft handkerchiefs are in her bed for Hanna to grab whenever she needs one.

Tom sets his timer for him to look after Hanna after half an hour again. Maybe that’ll stop him from pacing. The chicken soup - an old recipe from his mum - needs preparing.


 

Alright, alright, so he’s cheated.

It’s only been 20 minutes and he’s deserted his finely chopped vegetables and chicken to check in on Hanna.

She’s still out cold, but she’s turned over on her stomach and her breathing is a bit wheezy. As gentle and carefully as if he’s handling glass, he turns Han onto her side so she can get enough air with her congested nose and throat.

He brushes damp hair from her forehead, which is still much too hot. Must remember to wash her later. Didn’t he read somewhere that either a sponge bath or a lukewarm bath in the tub are good home remedies for bringing high fever?

And isn’t there a controversy between those who swear on sweating a fever out and those clamouring for cool sheets to keep the body temperature low? Which should he choose? What would help her as fast as possible?

There’s a low whimper from Han, and the hand out of the blanket spasms twice. Fever-induced nightmare? Just her aching, exhausted body?

Tom places his hand over hers, and without waking up, she tangles her fingers with his.

The chicken soup can wait a few minutes, he decides. Awkwardly, he lowers himself onto the edge of her bed without jostling her or letting her fingers go.

At this point, Hanna’s not sure if she’s awake or asleep. Then again, if she can think like that she might be awake?

Her body starts hurting again, which must mean she’s at least somewhat conscious. She’s also hot all over and cold at the same time.

Her clammy hand grabs at something. Another hand maybe?

“Tom?” she mumbles.

“Han?” Yep, definitely Tom. That’s nice. He’s here for her. Her entire family is in Germany and she misses them. Yes, she’s almost 30 years old and she misses her mother when she’s sick.

“Nicht gehen…” she sighs.

“Hm?”

Is he stupid? Can’t he hear? Maybe he acts stupid so he can actually go?

“Du sollst nicht gehen.”

“Hanna, you’re speaking German. I don’t understand.”

Oh. Well. “Don’t go.”

She grabs the hand a little tighter and sniffles, rubbing her hot cheek against it.

Well now. Damn that chicken soup to hell. And his phone alarm he can dimly hear from the kitchen now, too.

Tom does some more cautious acrobatics and somehow manages to climb over Hanna’s body to the free side of the bed, barely clinging to her clammy hand in the process. He spoons her, pressing a tender kiss to her head.

If she doesn’t want him to go, then he’ll stay.

It’s cute how she automatically switched to German. He loves it when she does that–but she does it way too rarely. Anger will bring out at least the swear words, and alcohol makes her spice up her sentences with a word of her mother tongue here and there, but he hardly ever catches full sentences.

“Are you too cold? Too warm?” he asks, not sure whether he should snuggle up to her quite so tightly.

Perfekt. Aber halbtot.

Hm, that’s easy enough to guess. Perfect but…half dead?

“Thristy? In pain?”

“Both,” she mumbles, then coughs hard enough to shake them both. “But don’t wanna move. Stay.”

“Of course I’ll stay. Go back to sleep, Han.” Tom wracks his brain for the few German phrases he’s made her teach him. “Gute Nacht.

Hanna makes a sound that might have been an attempt at a chuckle. “Good night? Huh. Why not.”

With a sigh, she burrows deeper into the embrace and sheets, and a moment later her body loses some of its tension.

Tom almost starts to fall asleep himself. He doesn’t quite know how long he’s been lying here, but a look at the clock tells him it’s been maybe 20 minutes.

The next time Hanna moves, it’s more of a jolt really. So fast - and surprisingly strong - that Tom can’t even hold on, she’s out of his arms and sways in the direction of the bathroom.

Oh. Oh no.

He’s not fully out of the bed himself when he hears Hanna starting to lose the contents of her stomach.

Tom grimaces. He’s never really been one with an iron stomach, but he’s in love after all. So, he musters all his courage and joins Hanna in the small bathroom where she’s kneeling in front of the toilet.

“Geh weg,” she mutters.

If he combines this right, it must mean ‘go away’. Oh. He’d love to. But no.

“Not happening.”

Gritting his teeth and wondering how long a man can function without breathing, Tom squats next to Hanna and holds her hair away from her face with one hand while the other rubs small circles on her shuddering back.

“Tom, I…”

The rest is drowned out in more retching.

Christ, being a good boyfriend isn’t always easy. Tom stares at the ceiling, still not breathing, and focuses on the lyrics of “Cold, Cold Heart” to keep from heaving in sympathy.

Just when he’s feeling a tad light-headed and hauls in a breath through his mouth, Han straightens up and wipes at her mouth.

“Ugh. Verdammte Scheiße! Warum immer alles auf einmal?!

Tom understands the curse but not the second sentence. He hurries after her when she flushes, rises, wobbles the few feet to the sink and begins rinsing her mouth. He’s feeling bloody useless. Hanna spits a few times, groaning because it probably hurts.

Wondering dimly whether she’s puked out her medicine along with the contents of her stomach, Tom squirts toothpaste onto her toothbrush and holds it out to her. Brushing seems to take a great deal of effort, but Hanna tries a watery smile afterwards.

“Bed?”

“Bed.” Tom snaps into action, half-carrying her back and tucking her in. He drags a dustbin close, makes sure Hanna has a glass of water near her, and tells her softly, “I’ll be in the kitchen to make you some chicken soup and tea. Just hit the bedside table or something if you need me, you don’t have to shout.”

He waits for a tired nod before hurrying away and leaning against a wall. Breathing deep, he attempts to calm down his stomach. Whew, that was a narrow escape.


 

For the next hours - minutes, days? - Hanna is in and out of it. She alternates between being too hot or too cold and every time she drinks a little tea, she pukes it out some time later.

She mostly refrains from calling for Tom, or drumming for him more likely. He’s almost always by her side though.

Hanna feels like shit. Pure and utter shit. She’s cried twice because she just felt like it. And because she’s sick and everything hurts and she wants this to stop and the fever is giving her strange dreams.

“Your soup is done,” Hanna hears Tom whisper right next to her. “You think you’re up for it or do we wait until tomorrow? I can reheat it.”

“Mhm,” is her only answer. Her stomach churns at the mention of food. “‘morrow.”

“Okay.” A pause. Or maybe she’s just fallen asleep again. Then, “I’m going to give you a bath okay?”

No. No, that’s not okay. Her head is already spinning when she turns around in bed. She can’t get up. Hanna shakes her head carefully.

“But I need your fever to go down.” More head shaking. “Yes, Han.”

She slowly opens one eye. Tom’s nervously twitching lips and how he runs a hand through his hair betray the bossy tone of his voice.

“Can’t move,” she wheezes out.

“Don’t worry,” he answers, followed by a kiss in her hair.

“Mkay.”

And who’s he to tell her not to worry when all he’s done is worry himself silly?

Tom swallows down a sigh and tells himself to feel as bossy as he sounds.

He’s called his mum twice already, feeling not the least bit ashamed that he sounds desperate. She’s told him the bath is a good idea, and that she thinks she’s raised him right.

Well, at least someone thinks so.

Tom gently tugs on a sleeve of the pajama top to remove it, and Han whines.

“Why? No.”

Patience. He can be patient when necessary, can’t he?

“Han, love, you can’t have a bath with your clothes on. Besides, you’ve soaked these in sweat and need new ones.”

“Sadist,” is the mumbled reply, and he forces out a chuckle.

“Truth be told, I feel more masochistic than sadistic right about now,” he says, not sure whether Hanna’s brain is even up for these things.

Insistently but slowly, he removes her clothes, proud that his body doesn’t even react to her nakedness because he’s so totally in caring mode.

Scooping her up again, he carries her into the bathroom, then realizes he’s a stupid arse. Shouldn’t he have filled the bathrub with water first?

So, he sighs - the umpteenth time - to himself and lowers himself on the edge of the tub, with Hanna cradled on his lap.

While he waits for the water to fill the tub, he rocks her, checking the temperature every now and then.

Hanna coughs and mutters a few times but seems to be oddly relaxed being held in his arms. Tom feels kind of proud of that.

When there’s enough water in the tub, Tom tries to stand up to lower Han into the water carefully. He’s never been this careful with anyone before, he’s sure of it.

His plan his interrupted by a hand fisting his shirt, though. “Han, you need to let go, love.”

“No.”

He chuckles a little more honestly this time. “Yes. I can’t put you into the bath with you still in my lap.”

“With me.”

“I…” Oh hell. He’s afraid Hanna will drown of he lets go of her once she’s seated. And with the way she clings to him, he can’t let her go in alone. There are surely sweatpants in her flat, he can use later?

With a defeated sigh he at least gets rid of his socks by using his feet and then lowers himself into the tub, fully clothed and with Hanna in his arms. At least he’s got nothing more in his pockets, but on Hanna’s kitchen counter.

She sighs as the water hits her, shivers a bit and then relaxes.

Better not think of how he’s supposed to dry himself or change clothes when Hanna will need to be dried, dressed and put to bed first.

Better not to think anything at all, in fact. He’s just going to end up worrying again.

So he sits with Han in his arms, drifting for a few minutes. He should probably eat something once she’s back asleep, otherwise he’ll become too weak to carry her around and care for her. His Hank body is a bit too weak anyway, though he’s probably not going for any long runs the next few days.

How long will it take Hanna to recover? Should he take her to the doctor? Call one to come here and see her? Call her parents?

Fuck it, he’s thinking again.

Tom closes his eyes, but that only makes him think harder. So he begins scooping up water with a hand and sort of washing Hanna, just running his hands over her shivery limbs and feeling their temperature get a litle lower.

“Sing.” It’s barely more than a whisper.

“Huh?”

“Sing fo’ me, Tom. Bitte?”

Oh. Well, at least that will stop all the thinking…

And so Tom clears his throat and hums a bit to get into his Hank voice before starting the lyrics to “I Saw the Light”.

She hates him sometimes, Hanna decides in that exact moment, despite the haze she’s in.

He actually sings for her.

Okay, so maybe she doesn’t hate him. After all, he not only sings, he’s also in the bathtub with her - fully clothed as she slowly registers -, made her soup, held her hair back and sings for her. It’s a bit much almost, but then again not.

Hanna can’t explain now, her head is too fuzzy to fully comprehend.

Ever since he’s met her Mama and Papa something’s changed. She doesn’t quite know what, but it feels different, even better now.

She sighs, almost contentedly. That is until Tom stops singing and nudges her a bit. Hanna has no idea how much time has passed.

“We need to get you out of here, love.”

She grumbles. “Firs’ in then out… make up you’ mind.”

“Sorry. But you’re getting too cold.”

“Ugh. Fine.”

He really should’ve thought this through before embarking on it, Tom realizes with chagrin. But that’s how he is–either he’ll think an issue to death or he won’t think at all.

Racing through about four different possibilities–and they’re all awful, really–he decides on a course that shouldn’t be too complicated.

“Stay in here for a minute longer, darling,” he demands and wiggles out of the embrace to leave the tub.

“Oy. See. Gotta make’p your min’.“

“Sorry, sorry. So sorry.”

Somehow, he extracts himself, squelching in his soaked clothes. Bugger, those will be hell to get out of. 

Muttering “fucking shit, bloody hell” to himself, Tom peels his sweater off, then hops on one foot and curses and nearly faceplants while trying to get out of his sodden jeans.

“‘s ‘at a striptease? Not so sure I can…appreciate that right now,” Hanna comments, blinking owlishly.

“Hardihar.” Tom shoots her a glance, his left foot still hopelessly stuck in one trouser leg. “You’re entirely too sassy for having the flu, you know?”

“But you loooove my sass,” she retorts, her lids fluttering excessively instead of sultrily.

“Heaven help me, but it seems I do,” Tom grumbles.

With a last curse, he’s down to his underwear, which he peels of before grabbing a big, fluffy towel and half-drying himself quickly. He knots it around his hips and turns back to Hanna, leaning close to hold out his hands. “Now we’re ready. Up and out please, young lady.”

“You know I love you, hm?” Hanna says as she grabs his hands and Tom is a little afraid of what might come next.

“Yep, I do.”

“You ‘eally have to eat. So thin. I say it outta love.”

“I appreciate it,” Tom answers, barely holding in a chuckle. He grabs another big towel before Hanna almost falls into his arms.

Liebe dich.” Well, he understands that.

“Love you too.”

They make it back to the bedroom, Hanna in his arms and wrapped up in the towel before Tom dries her and picks out new pyjamas for her.

He dresses her - honestly he’s gotten quite fast in this - and lays her back on the bed. “You really should sleep now, Han.”

“Yeah,” she mumbles. “Sleep.”

He watches her drifting off, his rumbling stomach reminding him that he hasn’t eaten since this afternoon when he waited for Hanna.

There are a million things he should do first, though.

Like clean the mess left behind in the bathroom. Put Han’s clothes into the washing machine. Get dressed (well, perhaps that first). Finish putting away things in the kitchen and reassure his poor chicken soup that he hasn’t forgotten it.

Tom does none of these, in the end.

He just spends a long time looking at his sleeping girlfriend and wondering how a man can fall so hard for a woman. Wondering whether Hanna’s fallen equally as hard for him, though she’s basically just told him–twice–that she loves him.

His stomach growls, and Tom grimaces. Philosophizing is overrated when it comes down to it… Still, one thing is crystal clear to him as he decides to root around for something to wear and then take dinner to Han’s room:

This isn’t just any relationship to him. This is more. This is…dare he say it…this is what he wants for the rest of his life. Including the whole ‘taking care of a sick wife’ part.

And that’s scary as fuck but also delightful.


 

Tom’s in and out for most of the night. Too afraid that Hanna chokes to death or needs him because she’s sick again.

She sleeps mostly with the occasional coughing fit and sneezing. There’s also one other vomit incident, but it’s not as bad as before.

He really needs to tease her about the snoring though. Even that sound is cute coming from her.

Tom can’t really admit it since he knows Hanna’s feeling like death warmed up, but he quite enjoys this. Not Hanna feeling bad, but Hanna letting him take care of her.

She’s fiercely independent most of the time. She also made sure that him earning more money and being quite famous doesn’t change that. Tom loves her for it, really.

But he also loves to show her that he cares. So, that’s what he’s thinking about at - he glances at the clock on the night stand - 4 in the morning with a literally hot girlfriend in his arms.

He’s found some if his sweatpants in her closet which made him happier and prouder and grinning loonier than he likes to admit.

He closes his eyes again. Tom needs all his strength to care for Hanna tomorrow, making her eat and dealing with a stubborn girlfriend who probably is going to tell him she feels better than she does.

He smiles at the thought. He wouldn’t change it for the world, he thinks, as he slowly drifts back to sleep.


 

When Hanna wakes up, she isn’t quite sure whether she’s awake or has maybe died.

She remembers puking her guts out. Wait a minute, wasn’t Tom holding her during that lovely episode of humiliating torture? Ugh.

She also remembers going through a working day of hell before that. It’s a dim yet horible mix of too much noise, too much sweat, coughing her lungs out while simultaneously sneezing her brain out, and forcing water down her burning throat only to run to the toilet in between walks to the printer.

Tom doesn’t feature in those memories, of course. But when her minds scrolls through everything that hapened afterwards, bleary and disconnected as it is, there’s always Tom. Holding her, dressing and undressing her, carrying her–swoon–and trying to feed her.

One of those memories is too weird to be true. Surely he didn’t sit with her in a tub, fully clothed? Fever-induced hallucination, definitely.

Technically, if there’s so much Tom in her memories, she can’t be dead, right?

Hanna pries an eyelid open and is met with low light. Heaven is supposed to be bright and peaceful and all that, isn’t it? And hell should probably be hotter. So, not dead.

She opens her other eye as well and blinks. Looks like her room.

Experimentally, she wiggles a bit. Ugh. Pain. But at least her stomach doesn’t greet minimal movement with lurching anymore.

She’s thristy, she realizes. So, so thirsty.

Let’s try that sitting up business she was so bad at yesterday, then.

She hasn’t moved more than three or four protesting muscles when something hard and warm moves behind her, startling her into a tiny yelp.

“Wha-?!”

Han half-turns to see Tom shooting up from where he must’ve been lying behind her, his hair sticking up every which way and his eyes wide.

“You a'right?” he asks - demands really - and seems to be checking her frantically with his eyes. “Need somethin’?” The way he talks, Hanna is almost sure that he’s been asleep not a minute ago. But he also looks like he hasn’t slept at all.

“Water,” she croaks, this whole talking thing still not entirely working for her.

“’M gettin’ you some.” Before Hanna can even open her mouth to protests, Tom shoots out of the tangled up sheets, almost falling flat on his ass. He’s out of her bedroom - wearing old sweatpants and an old shirt of his, she realises - so fast it’s making her dizzy. Or maybe that’s because she’s sick.

Was Tom here the entire night? She honestly thought he would leave at some point, not having anything with him and all. She’d almost coo, if that wouldn’t hurt so much.

Yes, she admits it, she’s not feeling one hundred percent okay today. And no, she wouldn’t go to work even if her boss didn’t order it. She’s maybe a little stubborn sometimes, but she still wants to make it out of this alive after all.

In that moment, Tom rushes back into the room, a set of painkillers, a glass of water and something that suspiciously looks like homemade orange juice in his large hands.

Now that she’s a little more awake, Hanna can clearly see the dark circles under his eyes that seem to be slightly red-rimmed. Oh goodness, did she make him sick? Then again, everything else seems fine, he’s maybe a little pale.

“Did you sleep at all?” she rasps out.

“Yeah,” a yawn - a yawn! - stops him from talking on. “Been ‘sleep jus’ now.”

Hanna takes the offered items from him, gulps greedily first then a little slower as she takes the pills. “Thank you.”

“How’re you?”

“Better. Still half dead though.” Tom nods at that but Hanna can feel him wanting to do something for her. “I’d like to sleep some more. I’m sure I still have a fever.” She’s not even lying about that, she’s definitely still a little warmer than normal. Just as Tom nods and begins his fussing, Hanna holds out her hand. “I want you with me, please? Hold me, sleep with me?”

He quirks a brow.

“Just sleep, please?”

Sleep sounds heavenly right about now, Tom thinks.

It feels as if he’s closed his eyes only for a minute, though a quick glance at the clock tells him he’s been out cold for a little more than an hour.

“Are you sure you don’ need ‘nything else? Chicken soup? The bathroom? Change ‘f clothes?”

Hanna just stares at him until he sighs, though the sigh ends in another yawn. Alright then, so he’ll just be useful another time.

Tom climbs back into bed, lying on his back and holding up his arm. Han moves in slow motion, snuggling up to him and using his chest as her pillow while he awkwardly tries to use his long arm to drape the sheets around them both.

It registers that Hanna doesn’t even quite smell like herself anymore, mostly just like clothes and sweat and a hint of orange juice mixed in with that disinctive odour of sickness. He takes a deep breath anyway and closes his eyes, forcing his thoughts to calm down.

“Tom?”

His eyes shoot back open.

“Yeah? What d’you need, love?”

“Nothing. Just… Danke.”

Oh. “Don’ thank me, Han. ‘s what a man does for the woman he loves.”

Oh dear. Was that too intense? Tom holds his breath, but Hanna’s body doesn’t stiffen. Instead, he hears the softest of snores.