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fever dream

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Waking even a little clear-headed after a week or more of intense fever was the biggest relief Dio remembered feeling in some time. He'd had minor colds here and there, but nothing like this. This kind of illness had left him incapacitated and near delirious. He didn't like admitting such a thing, but it was frightening.

He still felt weak and dizzy, and when he cracked open his eyes his vision was a little blurry until he forced it to focus. 

With all the sweating he'd done, Dio felt unpleasantly humid beneath the several layers of blankets that had been piled atop him on his bed. With a huff, he kicked at the blankets; it took several tries, but he eventually got them off and sighed, the relatively cooler air an instant relief to him. Just wrestling with the blankets had winded him. Dio pouted at the ceiling, panting lightly, then turned his head to the side.

The eyeful of dark, wavy hair that obscured his vision made Dio jump in surprise. “JoJo?”

He didn’t expect much; Jonathan was a notoriously heavy sleeper — and yet, at the sound of his voice, Jonathan jolted awake. He gazed blearily at Dio, brushing hair out of his eyes until he let out a bleat of surprise. “Dio! You’re awake!”

Dio pressed back into his pillows and away from this outburst, but it didn’t help: Jonathan had flung himself forward and wrapped his arms around Dio. “What! JoJo, let go of me this instant !” he sputtered.

Jonathan clung to him for a moment longer before sitting back. "Sorry," he said, his cheeks flushed. "You're just... you were so ill, we've been so worried! Father went to the city to get a specialist, and — "

"And you've been here?" Dio said incredulously.

Jonathan nodded. "You were having bad dreams. And Marie has to tend to the house and such, so..." 

Dio shook his head, starting to pull the covers over his clammy body again; only a few moments of relief and then wracked by chills again. God, being sick was miserable. "So you've been glued to my bedside," Dio grumbled. "How cliche. I'm not exactly dying, am I?"

The stricken look Jonathan gave him told Dio a lot about how bad it must have gotten. Instead of replying, Jonathan just twisted some of the top quilt in his hand before finally helping Dio cover back up with all of the blankets again. "Can I get anything for you?" he asked softly. 

Dio glared at him for a moment, though it didn't feel like it had the appropriate gravity when he was buried under many layers of quilts and surrounded by fluffed pillows. "...Water," he finally grumbled.

Jonathan's features brightened into a smile. "Okay!" he said. "I'll be right back."

After some fussing in which Jonathan brought him a whole pitcher of water and Marie followed with some plain broth, Dio went right back to sleep again. He wasn't sure for how long; with the strange way time felt in fever-haze, it could have been hours or days. But when he opened his eyes again, he thought Jonathan had finally let him be. The chair he'd scooted right up next to Dio's bed was empty, and the room startlingly quiet. Until... he heard a soft sigh behind him. 

Eyes widening, Dio rolled over and found himself nearly nose-to-nose with Jonathan. Not only was he still here, he was sleeping in Dio's bed.

Again, Dio's minute movements were strangely enough to rouse Jonathan. Soon he peered into the other boy's bright blue eyes, which glimmered with his smile upon seeing Dio awake. "G'morning," he murmured.

Dio pursed his lips and rolled over on his back. " Is it morning?"

Jonathan hummed. "I don't know, actually," he replied.

Dio sighed. "Either way, why is it my bed you're sleeping in? I understand the chair can't be very comfortable, but it isn't as though I require round-the-clock care now ." 

Jonathan fidgeted, frowning over at Dio. "Well, you — I mean, when your fever was very high... you didn't want me to leave. You said..." But here, Jonathan trailed off, looking uncertain. 

The blond snorted, burning to face JoJo again. "What?" he said. "Is my feverish self that clingy? What could I possibly have said?"

Jonathan peered up at him with that puppy-dog expression. "You didn't want me to leave," he repeated.

"Yes, I got that part," Dio said with another roll of his eyes. He was beginning to suspect that Jonathan was the one who hadn't wanted to leave and was now making things up to soften Dio's ire. Especially since Dio couldn't exactly remember much of the last few days, at least not enough to tell what was waking and what was dreaming.

Except, well... Jonathan was an atrocious liar, and despite his apparent trepidation, he'd given none of his usual tells. Instead, he peered earnestly at Dio through the soft curls of his bangs. He looked almost — sad?

"You said that you didn't want to die the way your mother had," Jonathan said softly. 

Oh.

Dio sat up with a huff, ignoring the unnatural chill it gave his still-sick frame when the blankets pooled in his lap. Jonathan followed suit, still giving him that doe-eyed look. So that was why Jonathan had stayed. He was worried . Dio twisted the blankets in his hands, his teeth ground together, feeling a familiar anger that he usually did at the mention of his mother.

The memory of his mother didn't make Dio mad, exactly — just that his time with her was stolen by that miserable excuse of a father he'd had. In fact, the dreams of her he'd had throughout this entire ordeal had been the few that weren't of a complete nightmarish quality. But the presence of those dreams alone told Dio that Jonathan couldn't have made it up.

After all, that was what was so frightening about it in the first place: he'd seen it happen to someone, older than him but still too young. 

"Dio..." 

" What ?" 

Jonathan reached out, tentatively touching his shoulder. "It's okay," he said.

Dio slapped his hand away. "What are you talking about?"

"Being scared."

Dio turned to glare at him. "Who said I was scared! Don't project your worries on me, as if I would be taken by a fever at the age of fifteen!"

Jonathan fidgeted with the top quilt again, a strange little smile on his lips. "Okay," he said. "But if you were... I mean. Being sick is bad enough, but watching two parents die of illness, well. I can't imagine."

No, Dio thought, he couldn't. Not for either of his parents. He couldn't think of anything to say, so he just grunted. And, strangely winded, he laid back down. Peering up into Jonathan's kind features was just as well as anything else when he insisted on looking at Dio that way.

“Would you tell me about her, one day?” Jonathan asked.

Shutting his eyes again, Dio pulled the covers up to his chin. "Just let me rest, would you?" he muttered.

Jonathan chuckled. "Okay Dio," he murmured.

Despite it being for show, to get rid of Jonathan, Dio really was drifting somewhere close to sleep again. His body was fatigued to the bone and it was so easy to drift into that in-between state nestled between semi-conscious and true sleep. Whether he was dreaming about his mother again, or Jonathan was the one brushing fingers through his hair, Dio couldn’t tell. He barely twitched at feeling the kiss upon his brow before sensing Jonathan’s presence slip away.

Dio huffed and sank fully into sleep.