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Chapter Text

  It was a quiet day in Night Vale. Nothing obviously dangerous was going on. Even work at the lab had slowed down quite a bit. The radio was on, which wasn't something that happened when they were doing important things because it could be a distraction. Someone shifted through the various stations. Everything was either nonsense, or static.  

  Personally, Carlos was fine with static. It could be a calming sound at times. And it seemed like that was what his colleague had settled on. A station playing nothing but static. Until he noticed how his colleague was smirking. He looked at the radio. What station was it on?

  As he realized it, he sighed softly. Of course. The station that had been picked was Cecil's show, which would be starting in a few minutes. Carlos secretly loved his boyfriend's show, for a number of reasons, but he always felt a bit embarrassed when Cecil talked about him. Still, since they had started dating, he had set up something to record the broadcasts so he could listen when he got home.

  The static went on for at least five minutes longer than it should have, even though time wasn't bugging out as far as anyone could tell. Carlos was slightly concerned, but he tried not to let it show. He tried, but... he couldn't shake the feeling something wasn't right.

  Fortunately, there was soon the low, buzzing hum of a microphone being turned on.

    "E-existence is... um... it's a thing... Welcome to... N-Night Vale..."

  Carlos frowned. Even the other scientists seemed to have caught on that something was wrong. Cecil never stuttered, and he definitely never sounded that uncertain of himself. His usually calm and steady voice had been shaky. Almost... weak.

  "The... um... the S-Secret Sheriff Police- uh... I mean the Sheriff's Secret Police... has asked me to i-inform you about the... the... something..." There was a heavy sigh from the radio host. "...I a-apologize, listeners... I'm... not exactly at my b-best today... and..." His voice became distant. "...it doesn't help... the station is... sp-spinning... is it supposed to be...? ...my head..." He muttered something incoherent, and then there was the sound of a heavy thud, followed by the sound of someone rushing around.

    "I apologize, listeners." Came an unfamiliar female voice. "Technical difficulties. For now, please enjoy the weather!"

  Carlos was growing more and more worried. What had that sound been? Why had the radio station been spinning? Something was definitely wrong, but he didn't want to overreact. So he decided to wait it out and see what would happen after the weather. The song was soon over, and Carlos was listening intently.

  "Ladies, gentlemen, and otherwise," came the female voice again, "Intern Sara here. I can only offer my sincerest apologies. The radio station is not spinning, and never was. It appears our usual radio host, Cecil, has fainted. And since today's reports are written in a number of languages, all of which are ancient and none of which I can read, Night Vale Community Radio will have to go to radio silence for the rest of the day. I apologize for any inconvenience."

  There was the click and pop of the mic turning off, and then the radio went back to static.

    Carlos jumped up, nearly knocking over his chair. The fear must have shown in his expression, because several people immediately just told him to go. He would have gone anyway, without their encouragement.

  He raced to his car, and got to the radio station as fast as humanly possible. When he reached the station, he immediately ran inside. The top of intern Sara's head could just barely be seen in the radio booth. He quickly went inside.

  Sara was kneeling beside Cecil, who appeared to be unconscious and was very pale.  

  Sara looked up at Carlos as he came in, moving away from Cecil. "I don't know what to do. He just sort of keeled over."

  Carlos didn't bother talking to her yet. His main concern was his boyfriend. Fortunately, because the lab could be a dangerous place, Carlos knew just a little first aid. He checked Cecil's pulse, and was relieved to find that it was steady, and strong. But just from doing that, he could already tell Cecil was burning up.

    "Cecil? Cecil, baby, can you hear me?" He asked worriedly, gently tapping the other male's face in hopes that some sort of contact would help wake him up. In truth, he had no idea what he was doing. "Wake up... please, please wake up..."

  Whatever he was doing, it worked. Cecil's kaleidoscopic eyes opened. They were a dull, pale grey now, instead of the usual vibrant purple.

    "What happened...?" He mumbled.

  Carlos gently helped him sit up. "You fainted, love. Take it easy. I'm going to get you home, okay?"

   Cecil shook his head. "I have to-"

  "The show is already on radio silence." Sara interrupted. "Nobody would expect you to report after this. Even Station Management seemed concerned. I checked with them."

  "See? There's nothing you have to do." Carlos said softly. "Now, I'm going to get you out of here and take care of you. End of story. No arguing. Is that okay?"

  Cecil sighed. "I pr-probably would argue... if I didn't feel so pathetic..."

  "I'll take that as a yes." Normally he wouldn't be so stubborn about wanting to make someone go somewhere, but Cecil clearly needed help. So Carlos got up and then helped Cecil up. Cecil had to lean on him to keep his balance. He didn't mind.

    "I'm sorry..." Cecil mumbled.

    "For what?"

   "This..."

  "Sweetheart, you're clearly sick. That's not something you should be sorry for. It happens to everyone sometimes."

  "Usually I can still report when I'm sick..."

  He sighed as he got the other in to the car. "Cecil, you literally fainted. You are not reporting today. That's final."

  Cecil frowned, but said nothing.

    Carlos drove Cecil home and managed to get him inside. "Do you have any idea what you could be sick with?"

  Cecil shook his head. "I wish I did..."

  "That's okay," Carlos said gently. "...considering some of the 'health tips' I've heard you read on your show, I don't really trust any of the doctors here. But if you're not feeling better by tomorrow, I'll find one."

  "Okay..."

  He took Cecil to his room, and got him to lay down. "Do you have a thermometer or something?"

  Cecil nodded. "In the cupboard under the sink."

  By the time Carlos had found the thermometer and returned to Cecil, the other male had fallen asleep. Carlos gently took Cecil's temperature, and nearly had a heart attack. 109 degrees. Cecil should have been dead!

  As Carlos tried to ignore the shock, he checked Cecil's pulse and breathing. Thankfully, his boyfriend was still very much alive. Maybe being sick was different in Night Vale too? That would sort of make sense, considering almost everything else was. Still, Carlos wasn't going to leave Cecil alone any time soon.

  He takes a second to try to remember what the hell you're supposed to do when someone is sick.

~  

  When Cecil wakes, the first thing he's aware of is something cold on his head. And then the fact that he isn't in the radio station. Where is he? He looks around, recognizing his bedroom. But he has the feeling he isn't alone. It's soon revealed that he's right, as Carlos soon re-enters the room.

  "Hey, you're awake," Carlos points out. His voice is soft. Gentle. A tone that Cecil had never really heard from... well, anyone, really. While he greatly wished the circumstances were different, part of him likes hearing his lover's voice like that. Gentle. That was uncommon in Night Vale.

  "Are any of us ever truly awake...?" Cecil often got existential like this on his show. But he was sleepy and feverish and barely making sense right now. Just saying whatever came to mind.

  Carlos ignored the question. "How are you feeling,?"

  "I don't know..." Cecil mumbled. "...none of it makes sense..."

  "I'm guessing you don't get sick very often?"

  "Rarely." He confirmed.

 "You have a fever. 109."

  "That's n-not too bad..." he was confused by the fear in Carlos's eyes.

  "Do you realize you would be dead anywhere else?"

  "...no." His voice was muffled by a yawn.

  Carlos sighed heavily. "...go back to sleep, honey."

  "What about you...?"

  "I'm going to stay here and make sure you don't actually die."

  He shook his head slowly. "Don't..."

  "It's not up for discussion. Someone needs to take care of you."

  Cecil sighed. "I don't want you to see me like this..."

   "Well it's too late for that now. I'm worried about you, Cecil. I'll probably drive myself crazy worrying if I don't know that you're okay."

  Cecil frowned. "Don't go crazy..."

  "Figuratively. But I'm going to take care of you. End of discussion."

  Cecil was going to argue, but he yawned again.

 "Come on, baby. Go back to sleep," Carlos told him softly.

  Cecil curled up, and looked up at Carlos pathetically. He silently communicated what he wanted, though the way he bit his lip slightly made it clear he felt guilty about it.

  Carlos just smiled. His expression was... understanding. That was good, right? He sat down beside Cecil, gently pulling him in to a warm, loving embrace.

  Cecil smiled sleepily, slightly nuzzling Carlos. "I love you..."

  "I love you too, Cecil." Carlos said quietly. "Now get some sleep."

  It wasn't long before Cecil did just that, drifting off in to fever dreams, just barely aware of the sound of Carlos humming softly.

Chapter Text

  It was an average day in Night Vale. The sun was screaming, the birds were chirping, and the day had passed with only a few fatalities. Cecil was smiling and calm as he read his daily reports. Nothing was out of place, and he put on the weather as the setting sun painted the horizon in gold and bloody red. As the song played, he thought of.. well, his usual daydreams. The possibilities of the future, mostly. He and Carlos had been dating for quite a while now, and it made him happy to know that a future with him seemed secure. Little did he know...

~

  The lab had been busy and chaotic all day, with the recent discovery of what appeared to be a plant that ate human flesh. Between running tests on said plant and trying not to get eaten, it was a busy day. And Carlos loved every moment of it. Loud, chaotic, and just a little dangerous. The way a lab should be. Nothing suspicious or out of place. Except for the faint smell of smoke.

  "Hey!" Carlos shouted over the chaos. "Just-" he never got to finish his sentence before there was a blinding light and a wave of heat that was hotter than hell itself.

~

  After the weather, Cecil returned to his reports for a while. But there wasn't much more to report on. The show was drawing to a close.

  "Goodnight, Night Vale. G-"

  He was interrupted by a solemn-faced intern handing him a slip of paper.

  "Oh. My apologies, listeners. It appears I have some breaking news. There has been an-" his voice faltered as he read, taking on a tone of fear. "An... explosion... a-at the science lab..." Cecil took a shaky breath. "I'm sure everything is alright. Um... what else does this paper say... um... it's... it's a major fire..." he could see the flames over the rooftops, and knocked over the microphone as a feeling overwhelmed him and he ran outside.

  He raced to the burning lab, tears streaming down his face. Despite the crowd of strangers trying to hold him back, Cecil fought his way to the burning building. There was a small group of survivors, but... no sign of Carlos. Everything became a blur. Someone told him Carlos was still inside, and that was it. Cecil charged in to the burning building.

  "CARLOS?! CARLOS?!!" He called desperately. It wasn't long before he found his lover, who was trapped under some burning wreckage and just barely clinging to life.

~

  It was at least an hour before the Night Vale Fire Department was able to put out the fire. There wasn't enough left to know what had caused it. And there, in the wreckage, we're the badly burned and scarcely recognizable bodies of Cecil and Carlos.

  Having been unable to free his boyfriend from the wreckage, Cecil had given up. He knew that even if it was possible to get Carlos out, there was no way the scientist would survive. And so, Cecil had found a gap and squirmed under, so he was close to the dying Carlos.

  Tortured by the heat, the two clung to each other and, as they died together while their tears were burned away by the fire, they whispered in raspy voices about all their plans for the future. Plans that, sadly, went up in smoke.

  What was left of them was buried, together because everyone knew that was what they would have wanted. Night Vale was never the same. It never would be.

Chapter Text

  The rain had started when Carlos had been about halfway home, and soon it had become an incredible downpour. Rain was uncommon in this desert, but when it did come, it came in intense storms such as this one. By the time he got home, thunder was rolling and lightning split the sky. He ran as fast as he could from his car to the house, trying to avoid getting drenched. He ultimately failed at this. As Carlos entered the house, he couldn't shake the feeling something was wrong. All the lights were on, and a faint whimpering could be heard.

  "...Cecil?" Carlos called quietly.

  "I-In here..." came a shaky response.

  Carlos went into the bedroom, where the only sign of Cecil was a vaguely human-shaped lump curled up under the blankets.

  "Cecil?" Carlos's voice was soft. "Are you alright?"

  Cecil peeked out. "Yeah, I'm fi-"

  Another crack of thunder boomed through the air, and Cecil just about jumped out of his skin.

  Carlos smiled as he quickly figured it out. "Aww. Honey, are you afraid of storms?"

  "N-no!" Cecil squeaked. "I'm not! I just-" 

  Again, Cecil yelped as he was interrupted by even more thunder.

  Carlos sat beside him. "Relax, Cecil. It's just a storm. You're safe, I promise." He gently put his hand on Cecil's back. "Come here."

  Still shaking a little, Cecil quietly crawled into Carlos's lap, and Carlos proceeded to wrap the blanket around both of them.

  "There. You're okay, see? I know the storm is loud, but it can't hurt us."

  Cecil whimpered softly, hiding his face in Carlos's shoulder. "I... I know... It just... f-freaks me out..."

  Carlos gently nuzzled him. "I understand, love." He held Cecil close, in a manner that was almost protective. All he wanted was to make his precious Cecil feel safe.

  Cecil clung to Carlos. He did, in fact, feel much safer with Carlos's arms around him. Or at least, he did until there was a brilliant flash of lightning, followed by a massive thunder crash, that knocked the power out. At that, Cecil cried out in fear and hugged Carlos even tighter.

  Carlos lightly rubbed Cecil's back. "Shh. Relax, love. It's okay. Everything will be okay, I promise."

  Cecil looked up at him, his colour-changing eyes tinted a fearful royal blue. "I'm sorry..."

  "Don't be sorry, Cecil. Fear usually doesn't respond to logic. You have nothing to be sorry for." He softly kissed Cecil's forehead.

  Cecil sighed. As much as the storm scared him, he could feel Carlos's protective affection slowly calming him down. Fear gradually gave in to a dizzying sense of uselessness. The good kind of uselessness. The storm didn't matter anymore. What mattered was Carlos's hands on his back and in his hair, and the sweet nothings being mumbled to him. Cecil slowly relaxed and closed his eyes, snuggling up to Carlos.

  Eventually, the pair fell asleep waiting for the storm to pass.

Chapter Text

  Carlos woke in the dead of night, feeling cold. Something, or rather, someone, was missing. Cecil's usual warm embrace had been replaced by empty air, and Carlos was immediately concerned. It wasn't like Cecil to leave in the middle of the night. Curious, and somewhat worried about his lover, Carlos quickly got up and, stretching a little, went looking for his Cecil.

  He wandered through the silent house, the slightest pricks of fear going up his spine.

  "Cecil...?" He called quietly. "Honey, where are you?"

  Carlos slowly made his way through the house, but it wasn't until he heard the soft scuffling above him that he knew what was going on. Smiling a little to himself, Carlos went outside and climbed up onto the roof.

  Sure enough, Cecil was curled up on the roof. Carlos carefully made his way over to Cecil.

  "Hey honey..."

   Cecil looked up at Carlos with a tired expression. "Hey..."

  Carlos curled up beside him. "Can't sleep?"

  Cecil nodded slightly. "Yeah..."

  Carlos gently put his arms around Cecil. He knew that Cecil struggled with insomnia, and it wasn't uncommon for the two of them to stargaze until Cecil felt more tired.

  Cecil smiled and leaned back against Carlos. "Did I wake you?"

  "No, I woke up on my own and when I didn't see you I got worried."

  "Oh... I'm sorry..."

  "It's okay, love," Carlos said softly.

  Cecil smiled a little as he felt Carlos's fingers lace into his short hair. "...Carlos?"

  "Yes?"

  He hesitated, already feeling guilty for asking, but he managed to voice his question anyway. "...can you talk to me?"

  "About what?"

  Carlos's voice was so soft, so understanding, and Cecil felt a warm tug in his heart. "Anything. Anything at all. Just... I want to hear your voice."

  Carlos smiled and kissed Cecil's cheek. "Did you know that some of the stars we can see in the sky right now are already burned out and dead?"

  "Really?"

  "Mmhm. But they're so far away that we can't tell from here."

  "Wow..." Cecil's voice was an awed, exhausted whisper.

  Carlos nuzzled Cecil, hoping to lull the other to a state where he'd be more willing to sleep. "People have been reading the stars for centuries, finding shapes in them and then making up stories about those shapes. I've always found it fascinating."

  Cecil smiled. "I've always liked the stars..."

  Carlos paused for a second. "Cecil? Cecil, look at me."

  Cecil shifted and looked up at Carlos, and Carlos felt his heart skip a beat. It seemed as though the stars in the sky were perfectly reflected in Cecil's deep purple eyes.

  "Oh my..."

  "What is it, Carlos?"

  Carlos smiled and kissed Cecil's forehead. "There is an entire, perfect universe in your eyes..."

  Cecil blushed.

  "I would do anything," Carlos continued, "to belong in that universe."

  "But you already do," Cecil told him softly.

  It was Carlos's turn to blush. "I love you..."

  "I love you too," Cecil whispered. "So very much."

  After a few more minutes of rambling about the stars and about each other, Cecil and Carlos came to the decision that they were both too tired to keep their balance on the roof much longer. They went inside, and curled up in bed together...

  And everything was perfect.

Chapter Text

  The dark clouds had started rolling in around mid morning, and their presence in the desert sky made Cecil uneasy. The Voice of Night Vale watched through the radio station's one window as the sky became thick with a murky grey. Something wasn't right about this. A shudder ran down his spine... had it gotten colder in here? He sighed, mentally shoving the thought aside. After all, he had a broadcast to deal with, and that was more important. He closed the blinds over the window so he wouldn't be distracted. 

  Time passed quickly as Cecil went through the familiar daily motions of telling stories and sharing the news. Still, that odd chill hung in the air, making Cecil feel somewhat uncomfortable. He simply couldn't distract himself from it. Something was not right. 

  Cecil's phone began to ring. His cell phone, not the station phone. He switched his broadcast over to a pre-recorded message and answered the call, not bothering to check the caller ID.

  "Hello?"

  "Cecil!" Carlos' voice was like music to the radio host's ears. And he sounded so excited too. Cecil's curiosity was piqued.

  "Hey Carlos. What's going on?"

  "I'm outside the radio station. I need you to come out right now! Oh, honey, it's amazing!"

  "Alright, alright," Cecil said with a soft chuckle. "I'll be right out."

  Smiling to himself, Cecil walked over to the station's front door, and... froze.

  "Oh my gods..."

  The air was so much colder than it was supposed to be, and it stung Cecil's skin. Falling softly from the sky were what looked like... feathers? Cecil tried to catch one, but it became drops of cold water in his hand.

  "What is this?!"

  Carlos, noticing Cecil had come out, rushed over to him. Cecil was momentarily distracted by the way the strange white things caught in Carlos' long, dark hair, and seemed to make it shimmer.

  "Cecil!" Carlos grinned at him. "Look! It's snowing!"

  "Snowing?" Cecil had heard the word before, but only had a vague idea of what it meant.

  "Yeah! A weather machine we were working on in the lab malfunctioned! This probably won't last long but it's so cool!"

  "Sure... cool..." Cecil was suspicious, and not used to the cold, and didn't like it. 

  Carlos kissed Cecil's cheek. "It can't hurt you. I promise." Noticing his lover was cold, Carlos slipped off his lab coat and gently draped it around Cecil's shoulders.

  Cecil blushed faintly. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all. 

  "Come on," Carlos encouraged gently, taking Cecil's hands through the open door. "Come outside."

  Putting his faith in Carlos, Cecil nodded slightly and took a few hesitant steps out into this strange new world that apparently contained snow.

  The soft whiteness accumulating on the ground gave way easily beneath Cecil's feet as he ventured out, following his beloved Carlos and leaving a trail of prints behind. 

  Carlos grinned at Cecil's awestruck expression. He was so cute, and in this moment he seemed to have a childlike innocence. Snowflakes dusted Cecil's blonde hair, making it sparkle, and Carlos felt his heart skip a beat. In the dim light that filtered through the clouds, he was beautiful.

  "This might just be the strangest thing I've ever seen..." Cecil mumbled. 

  Carlos found that hard to believe, considering Cecil lived in a town where floating cats and elder gods were the norm, but he decided it wasn't worth debating.

  "You've really never seen snow before?"

  "No... have you?"

  "Yeah." Carlos frowned slightly. He had seen snow many times. He just couldn't remember where... not that it mattered at the moment. He returned his attention to Cecil, whose shifting eyes were practically glowing with violet curiosity.

  "Wow..." Cecil was amazed by the strange stuff falling from the sky, if mildly afraid of it.

  Letting go of Cecil's hands, grinning, Carlos fell backwards into the snow.

  Cecil gasped. "Carlos! Are you okay?!"

  Carlos laughed softly, beginning to swish his arms and legs back and forth. "I'm fine, honey. I did that on purpose."

  "Oh." Cecil was confused, watching Carlos move.

  Carlos reached out. "Help me up?"

  Cecil took Carlos' hand and pulled him up, looking at the funny shape left in the snow. "What's the point of that?"

  "It's a snow-" Carlos stopped himself, remembering at the last second that angels couldn't be acknowledged in Night Vale. "Er... being."

  "A snow being?" Cecil laughed. "You come up with the craziest things, Carlos!"

  "Oh, is crazy what you want? Because I can show you crazy!" He grabbed Cecil's hand and began leading him somewhere, stopping to find a large piece of cardboard along the way.

  "Carlos-! Honey, where are we going?"

  Carlos lead Cecil to the top of a snowy hill. "Prepare to be amazed."

  "What?"

  He set down the cardboard and sat on it, then gestured for Cecil to join him.

  A little confused, Cecil went and sat in front of Carlos. "What are you doing?"

  "Just trust me," he said with a smile. He pressed a soft kiss to Cecil's cheek as he wrapped his arms around the shorter male. "Hold on tight."

  Cecil held on to Carlos. "Okay..."

  Carlos pushed forward and they quickly slid down the hill. Cecil cried out in surprise, clinging to Carlos until they eventually stopped moving.

  "How was that?" Carlos asked happily.

  Cecil turned to face Carlos with wide, energetic eyes. "That was insane! Can we do it again?!"

  Carlos laughed softly. "Of course, dear."

  The two returned to the top of the hill, and slid down again. Unfortunately, as they neared the bottom, they veered out of control and flew into a snowbank.

  Carlos pushed himself up, looking down at Cecil, who had landed beneath him. "Are you okay, babe?"

  Cecil laughed softly. "Yup. Snow is a good place to land. Even if it's cold."

  Carlos nodded, smirking. "What if I warm you up?"

  Cecil blushed and nodded slightly.

  Carlos leaned over Cecil, kissing him passionately.

  Cecil pressed closer to Carlos, deepening the kiss and giving in quickly, letting the scientist take the lead and claim his mouth.

  Carlos didn't pull away until they were both breathless. It was at that point that he noticed Cecil's shivering. "Oh... you really are cold, aren't you babe?"

  "Y-yeah... a little..."

  Carlos smiled, a little amused. Of course his desert-dwelling boyfriend would be more sensitive to the cold than he was. He stood, and gently picked Cecil up.

  Cecil nuzzled Carlos, looking up at him lovingly. "As nice as this is, I should get back to work..."

  Carlos kissed Cecil softly. "How about this; I'll take you back to the station and make you something warm to drink, and then I can hold you while you finish your broadcast. Does that sound good?"

  Cecil blushed and smiled. "That sounds... perfect."

  Maybe, Cecil thought as Carlos carried him back to the station, the cold isn't so bad after all.

Chapter Text

  Carlos was an anxious wreck. His mind was going a mile a minute, and his heart was racing. Cecil, his beloved boyfriend, had been taken for re-education. It was the first time this had happened since they'd started dating. Cecil claimed that he'd been re-educated many times before, and that it was a normal part of living in Night Vale, but that didn't make Carlos any less anxious. Especially considering the fact that Cecil had never told Carlos exactly what they did during re-education. Only that it was meant to to instill in Night Vale citizens a healthy fear of City Council and the Secret Police. Even the name of the process made Carlos fearful.

  Re-education... what a horrible word, he thought. What are they doing to Cecil? I hope he's okay... I hope they aren't hurting him too much...

  Carlos didn't consider himself a nervous person, but when it came to Cecil being in danger... well, that was something else entirely. Worrying about Cecil was sort of a constant in Carlos' life, and he tried to keep his reactions to a minimum. After all, Cecil's job was dangerous, and Cecil was also really bad at noticing when he was in actual danger. But knowing that Cecil was definitely being hurt, and that he couldn't do anything to stop it, made Carlos feel sick.

  The ringing of his cell phone snapped Carlos out of his thoughts. He liked to set different ringtones for people so he knew who was calling immediately, and so that the noise would get his attention if he was focusing on something else. This particular ringtone was Owl City's Fireflies. Carlos smiled a little at the familiar song before remembering who he'd set that ringtone for.

  Cecil! He promised to call when he got home!

  Carlos looked at the clock. Cecil had been gone for most of the day, and Carlos had been very distracted. Almost shaking from his need to know, Carlos quickly picked up his phone and answered it.

  "Cecil?"

  "Hey honey..." Cecil's voice sounded strained, as if he was in pain. Carlos felt his heart drop.

  "Cecil, are you okay?! Did they hurt you?!"

  "No worse than usual..." Cecil mumbled. "I-I can't talk long... I have to call Dana to patch me up..."

  "Oh... Cecil, you know I know first aid, right? And I live closer than she does. I could be there with a kit in five minutes."

  "No, Carlos... No... I appreciate the offer, but... I d-don't want you to see me like this... I'm a mess..."

  Carlos sighed. As much as he wanted to respect his boyfriend's wishes, he was losing his mind. He couldn't remember the last time anything had made him this anxious.

  "Cecil, baby, please. I've been freaking out about this all day. I'm really worried about you. I couldn't even focus on my science today. I promise, I won't think any less of you for whatever condition you're in, and I'll try not to freak out too much."

  Recognizing the panic and desperation in Carlos' voice, Cecil relented.

  "Okay... f-fine... but try to calm down, okay? You really don't need to worry so much..."

  "...I'll try. I'll be there soon, alright?"

  "Okay. See you soon..."

  Carlos sighed and hung up, immediately looking for the first aid kit he kept around. Once he found it, he went to Cecil's house as quickly as possible. Taking a few breaths in an attempt to calm himself before knocking on the door.

  "Come in..." Cecil called quietly.

  Carlos went inside, and froze for a moment. Cecil was curled up on the couch, pale and shaking. His violet eyes, one of which was almost swollen shut, shone with pain. Quickly snapping himself out of his surprised reaction, Carlos rushed to Cecil's side and began examining him.

  "Cecil... oh my god, baby, what did they do to you?!"

  Cecil was covered in bruises, burns, and shallow wounds. It was easy enough to bandage him up, but Carlos was really worried about Cecil's ragged breathing, and how dazed he seemed. There was no way of knowing the extent of the internal damage. He could feel himself beginning to panic. What if it was serious? What if Cecil needed to go to the hospital? Could the hospitals in Night Vale even be trusted? What if-

  "C-Carlos..." Cecil mumbled weakly. 

  "Yes, love?"

  "You're hyperventilating... You need to take deep breaths... relax..."

  Carlos felt a part of him break. As hurt as he was, Cecil was still trying to take care of him. "Oh... Sorry Cecil... I'm just so worried about you..."

  "Nothin' to worry about... they never do fatal damage..."

  "But you're still seriously hurt," he said softly. "I've done pretty much all I can, but... there might be internal damage..."

  "If there is, it will heal on it's own," Cecil said quietly, remembering the sickening crack he'd heard when they'd kicked him and knowing beyond a doubt that he had a few broken ribs. "B-besides... I can handle a little pain..."

  Carlos frowned. "Are you sure?" His voice was so quiet and gentle, and Cecil felt something pull in his heart. They'd only been dating for a few months, but Carlos was so loving and caring that it made Cecil feel as if he were melting. Softness was something Cecil had very little of in his life, but that same softness was something that Carlos seemed very willing to provide.

  Cecil looked at him. "I'm sure, Carlos. I'll be fine."

  Carlos sighed. "Okay. If you're sure."

  Cecil nodded slightly, but immediately regretted it when the motion sent a wave of dizziness coursing through his head. "Th-thanks for patching me up..."

  "No problem, Cecil."

  "You know... y-you don't have to stay... I'm fine..."

  Carlos sighed. "Honey, I can't just leave you alone when you're hurt this badly."

  Cecil frowned, feeling guilty as he remembered how worried Carlos had been before. "I-I mean... I don't mind if you do stay... just... y-you don't have to... that's all... I just... I feel bad..."

  Carlos tilted his head slightly, a little confused. "Feel bad about what?"

  "Being hurt, I guess... I feel bad about you having to put up with this..."

  "Oh, Cecil..." Carlos kissed his head softly. "I'm not here because I feel like I have to be. I'm here because I love you. I'm worried about you, and I want to take care of you. I'm not 'putting up with' anything. I'm here because I want to be."

  That made Cecil tear up a little. "Th-thanks, Carlos..."

  "Anything for you, Cecil. Now, you need to get some rest. Lie down."

  Cecil did as he was told, and Carlos gently draped a blanket over him.

  "Do you need anything?"

  Cecil thought for a moment. "...stay with me?"

  Carlos smiled a little. "Of course."

  Carlos sat down beside Cecil, who immediately shifted so that his head was on Carlos' lap. Carlos carefully ran his fingers through Cecil's hair, and Cecil slowly drifted down into the darkness of sleep.