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Fever Brain

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Lance knew he was sick from the moment he woke up. 


There was no doubting it when he awoke to a sweat-drenched shirt and shaky limbs. His head was pounding and there was a slight churn in his stomach that intensified when he moved. His eyes blurred with every passing second, sending everything into distortion. 


Yet here he was, laying on one of the uncomfortable makeshift cots in the nurse’s office waiting for Shiro to pick him up. 


According to Hunk, his lab buddy and best friend of a lifetime, he had passed out during a science test this morning and was pretty out of it when he finally came to. Hunk had to help get him to the nurse’s office so he didn’t stumble and fall flat on his face. It’s safe to say not even Hunk could have prevented Lance from falling against the cold tiles of the seventh-grade hallway. 


When Hunk had finally managed to get him to the nurse, Lance collapsed on the closest article of furniture there was. His breath was labored and every few minutes he would cough harshly into the crook of his elbow while the nurse performed the basic task of checking Lance’s temperature. When she finally got a reading on the fever she shooed him off to the room where he could lay down. 


Hunk left shortly after that, promising to return with Lance’s backpack. 


Lance could hear the distant chatter between the nurse and presumably Shiro on the other line of the phone. His clouded head made it difficult to pick up on certain parts of their conversation and he eventually gave up on eavesdropping. He curled in on himself, trying to stop the freezing cold from biting at his skin. 


He didn’t even notice his eyes drooping closed until they shot open to the sound of the young nurse whispering his name. 


Again, Lance heard bits and pieces of what she was trying to say. 


“-on his way-”


“-stuck in traffic-” 


“-you cold?”


The word cold made him shiver once more. He closed his eyes and nodded, hoping for a distraction of some sort. Lance tried to think of one of the jokes Shiro had made during breakfast or the disapproving look Adam gave him afterward. While he forced his mind to wander, he heard some rustling in the drawer across the room and eventually felt a thin blanket being draped over his lanky body. Silently, the nurse placed a bucket next to the bed and dimmed the lights in the room before stepping out to tend to a needy sixth grader. 


Time dragged on as Lance fell into a restless sleep. 


Actually, he wouldn’t so much as call it sleep , rather it was forcing his eyes shut in order to block out the excessive light. He almost fell asleep but was shaken awake by a familiar figure looming over the cot. 


“Hey, kiddo,” Shiro whispered comfortingly. “Time to go home and get you to bed. That fever has me a little worried.”


Lance groaned and slowly sat up, noticing how his limbs protested as he was guided up from the bed. He leaned into Shiro for comfort and steadiness as the room spun. He was debating whether or not he was ready for the long walk to the school parking lot as Shiro guided him towards the main section of the nurse’s office. 


The nurse was clicking around her laptop, momentarily pausing her game of Solitaire to hand Shiro the sign-out sheet. Her eyes flicked over to where Lance was wavering, desperately clinging to the wall for stability. “Those look like flu symptoms to me,” She said to Shiro, who looked over his shoulder at his sick son. 


“Yeah, a friend of mine said her son had it last week,” Shiro said, barely managing to keep his worry at bay. “My uh roommate is a nurse. He should be able to help me out if I need it.”


Lance snorted despite how terrible he felt. 


Shiro always referred to Adam as his “roommate” when he didn’t feel comfortable telling people he was his husband. Lance always got a kick out of it. Although everyone pretty much knew he had two dads, he could never understand why Shiro still thought it was a big deal. 


Shiro finished signing Lance out and grabbed the boy’s backpack before leading him out to the parking lot. 


It wasn’t a difficult task but it wasn’t entirely easy either. Between Lance stumbling over his feet and constant stopping to make sure he wasn’t going to pass out, the trip to the car took about ten minutes. When Shiro finally managed to get Lance to the car, he wanted to make sure Lance could get in the car. 


Lance nearly fell face-first into the cool leather seat but Shiro managed to catch him. Shiro eased him down into the front seat despite the teen’s whining. “I’m going to grab you a blanket from the trunk. Do you think you’ll need anything else?”


Lance stared at his hands, which were folded in his lap, and shook his head no. 


Shiro closed the door to the passenger’s side of the car before retreating to the trunk to grab the blanket. It was worrying how quiet Lance was at the moment. Shiro never in his life thought Lance would shut up. Of course, he had never said that directly to his face, but it was implied. 


He loved him nonetheless. 


Shiro grabbed the fleece blanket and shut the trunk with a gentle slam. He made his way over to the driver’s side of the car where he climbed in, hoping Lance was either asleep or resting somewhat comfortably. 


Lance, sure enough, was settled into the seat, his head propped up against the window. 


Shiro chuckled as he tucked the blanket around his son and started towards home. He drove slow and avoided potholes just to make sure Lance wouldn’t wake up. He avoided any sudden jerks or movements of his car as well. He didn’t want Lance to end up with a queasy stomach. 


The slow drive back to their house was excruciating but they made it back with no further accidents. 


Lance was still asleep by the time Shiro had pulled into the driveway next to Adam’s car and, quite frankly, Shiro didn’t have the heart to wake him up. Especially not when he looked slightly worse than when they had left the school. 


His face had taken on an ashen tone, almost as if all the color had just been drained from his face. Beads of sweat dripped down his temple and collected in the seem of his neck. His cheeks, despite his colorless appearance, were tinted pink with a fever and showed no signs of going down. Of course, Shiro couldn’t be sure of that without a thermometer but by the looks of it, Lance was pretty much in for it. 


Unfortunately, Shiro had to get Lance awake and out of the car seeing as though he couldn’t stay in there while he was sick. 


Shiro turned the car off and gently shook the sleeping thirteen-year-old awake. “Hey bud, we’re home.”


Lance groaned but reluctantly sat up slowly. 


“That’s it, easy does it,” Shiro encouraged as he helped Lance sit up before he climbed out and over to Lance’s door to help him out. Lance leaned into him as Shiro led him into the house. Shiro really just needed to get this kid to bed. He was way too exhausted to be up and about. He still had groceries and Lance’s school stuff in his car. But he needed Adam to get Lance situated while he took care of the other tasks at hand. 


Shiro guided the sick kid over to the couch where Lance completely crumbled into a ball on the soft fabric of the sofa. 


“You’re back earlier than I expe-,” Adam started but was cut off by Lance’s latest coughing fit. “Oh my god- Shiro I thought you said he just had a cold!”


Shiro rubbed Lance’s back as the poor kid finished hacking up his lungs. “I know, I know. But the nurse said once I had gotten there that his symptoms seemed more flu-like than anything. Maybe he’s got the flu.”


“He definitely has the flu,” Adam assured. He calmly walked over and crouched down beside the sofa next to his husband and his son. “What’s up, honey? Not feelin’ great?”


Lance nodded, stifling another cough. Although he liked it when his dads would use the soothing nature of pet names, he couldn’t quite feel any better at the moment. 


“Can you talk to me for a sec? Just tell me what’s bugging you,” Adam said as Shiro carded through Lance’s sweaty strands of hair. “Is something hurting or do you just feel kind of icky?” 


Lance made a sound with his throat that sounded like a pained moan mixed with a deflating car tire. “My head-d, my s-stomach... m-my throat,” He recited quietly. “M’kinda dizzy too. M-mouth feels… saliva-ee .” 


Shiro listened and watched as Adam talked to Lance, wondering when it would be a good move to go out and get the stuff from the car. His mind immediately went to the melting ice cream and Lance’s gym bag that now sat basking in the heat of his car. 


“I’ll bet that’s nausea bud. You’ll feel better once you’re in your own bed,” Adam assured, picking himself up before encouraging Lance to do the same. 


Shiro stood once Lance was unsteadily making his way to his bedroom with Adam’s help. He figured while Adam got Lance settled he could at least unpack the groceries and make some soup. It felt like a soup day anyway. Not just with Lance being sick and soup being the stereotypical sick-day food but it just sounded good at the moment. 


Shiro made himself busy over the course of a half-hour, packing unspeakable amounts of food into the pantries and stirring the Campbell's chicken noodle broth to perfection. He tried to block out the heart-wrenching coughing coming from Lance’s bedroom. It wasn’t difficult until he ran out of groceries to put away. And when the soup was finally done, there were no more distractions. 


Just the sudden mass of worry and anxiety that came along with having a sick child. 


He poured the soup into three bowls and took one back down the hallway to Lance’s bedroom. Even as he approached the door, Shiro could hear small whines and Adam’s words of comfort from behind the thin wooden door. 


With a turn of a knob, Shiro pushed his way through the door. “Hey… I made soup,” he whispered, watching Lance’s face as it contorted into one of displeasure. 


“Come on bud. Maybe eating a little will make you feel better.”


Lance groaned again, burying his head deeper into the pillow. “Nghhh… please d-dont make me eat right now.” 


Adam sighed and looked over at Shiro, who was staring at Lance with worry etched in his expression. As a nurse, Adam knew people really should be eating when they have the flu, even if they don’t have the appetite. It helps keep them nourished and will allow them to recover faster. 


But judging by Lance’s pale, sweaty features, he figured that it isn’t worth the risk.


“Okay, alright. No food for now,” Adam said. “Just get some rest. I’ll come back and check on you in a little while.”


Lance nodded, seeming somewhat content with the idea of sleep. 


Shiro stepped aside as Adam left the room before he turned back to the sick, sleepy teenager. “If you need anything, just come get one of us. We’ll just be in the living room. Or better yet, just yell. Get some sleep kiddo.”


Shiro could tell Lance was already asleep by the time he was finished talking. 


He gently closed the wooden door to Lance’s room and made his way back towards the living room, where he had promised Lance he’d stay.