If there was one consistent part of Allen’s life, it was his morning routine. Sam could practically set his watch by it. His alarm rang at 6:30, he was in the shower by 7, breakfast by 7:15… everything exactly the same. Sam was much slower in the mornings, but he would always manage to get himself together by the time Allen’s car pulled out of the driveway.
When Sam woke up one Thursday to the blaring alarm and saw a fuzzy 6:45 on the display, he immediately knew something was wrong.
He fumbled for the glasses that resided on his nightstand and put them on, looking towards the other side of the bed. Allen was facing away from Sam, but his loud snores could still be heard. That in itself was not unusual, but the timing of it certainly was. The sound was far less pleasing than the booming baritone voice that usually filled the room at that hour. Sam reached over and gently shook Allen’s shoulder. “Allen? Is everything okay?”
Allen rolled over and opened his eyes, squinting at the light coming in through the windows. “Everything’s fine,” he slurred, his voice still cloudy with sleep. He slowly sat up and groaned, placing his head in his hands. “Can you turn off the alarm, Sam? It’s giving me a headache.”
Sam did so, quickly shifting his attention back to Allen as he let out a trio of resounding sneezes and sunk back down under the covers. The sound of the sneezes reminded Sam of similar ones from the night before when Allen had also insisted he was “fine.” Before, he had been more willing to brush it off, but now, he wasn’t so sure. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked, shifting into a seated position.
“What time is it?” Allen either hadn’t heard Sam or was purposefully ignoring the question.
“It’s… a quarter to seven,” Sam muttered, distracted by the light flush he had just noticed on Allen’s cheeks. He reached out a hand and attempted to feel his forehead, but Allen batted his hand away.
“What, so you don’t have a fever then?” Allen looked like he was about to respond, but instead, he pitched forward with another sneeze, shivering slightly afterward.
“Alright, that’s it.” Sam stood up and headed towards their adjoining bathroom.
“Sam, I told you I’m fine!” Allen protested.
Sam scoffed. “I’ll be the judge of that.” He grabbed the thermometer from the cabinet and headed back into the bedroom just in time to see Allen start to swing his legs over the side of the bed. Sam ran to him and placed his hands on his shoulders, guiding him gently back onto the sheets. “You’re not going anywhere until I take your temperature.”
Allen raised his eyebrows. “Now, Samuel, don’t you think it’s a little early for—“
Sam rolled his eyes. “Allen Richard Gott…”
“Samuel Isaac…” He was cut off by Sam sticking the thermometer in his mouth. Sam couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face as Allen proceeded to pout like a petulant child as they sat there waiting. “That wasn’t fair,” he mumbled.
“Stop it, you’re going to mess up the reading.” Luckily, the thermometer beeped a few seconds later and Sam took it out. “101.2. Looks like you’re staying home today.”
Allen sat up, groaning loudly. “For the last time, Sam, I feel fine! Now let me go get ready for work.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. Before he could do anything else, however, he began to sway ever so slightly.
Sam was on his feet in an instant. He rushed over to the other side of the bed and reached out his hands to steady Allen. Together, they sat down on the edge of the bed. Sam took a deep breath and looked at Allen, who was still shaking. “You're not going anywhere today, is that clear?”
He expected Allen to protest and try to insist he was fine, but instead, his boyfriend looked up and gave him a soft yet tentative smile. “Of course, my dear.”
After a quick phone call to the station, Sam headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. Allen had protested slightly when Sam said that he was also staying home; apparently, he was under the impression that he could take care of himself. Sam was having none of this. "You nearly passed out. I don't want to come home from work and find that you've fallen out of bed or off a table or--”
“It was one time!”
At any rate, Allen had eventually acquiesced.
As Sam stood in the kitchen, facing their nearly empty fridge, he remembered why Allen was the chef in the house. He sighed, pulling an egg carton out and setting it on the counter. There would have been more options, but it had been Allen's turn to go get groceries and he had turned in early the night before.
Fortunately, Sam didn't think he could mess up scrambled eggs.
The meal had become somewhat of a tradition in their house after that New Year’s morning. Allen made it well, and it was the only thing Sam felt comfortable making without setting off the smoke alarm. He took a deep breath and set to work.
As soon as he had put the eggs in the pan, he heard Allen calling his name. "What is it, Allen?"
"Could you grab some orange juice? I think we still have an open carton in the fridge."
Sam checked. “We do." He laughed softly. "Maybe next time you're feeling sick, let me know so I can run to the store."
“I wasn’t feeling this bad last night!"
"Sure, sure." Sam poured the rest of the juice into a small glass and headed for the bedroom.
Allen had propped himself up in bed and was squinting at his phone. He smiled as he saw Sam come in. "Jerry texted and said they're going to save us some cake from Susan’s birthday party today."
Sam smiled back. He couldn't help it, Allen's smile was infectious. He’d been doing a lot of it lately, it seemed. "Well, for now, you’ll have to settle for scrambled eggs and orange juice.”
“Sam, I love you, but you have to let me teach you how to make something--”
"...Anyway," Sam interrupted, "I'm going to grab some medication. There's some Advil in the bathroom, right?"
"I think so. Could you grab some tissues, too? I need to blow my nose."
Sam found the pills tucked away behind a bottle of shaving cream and the tissues under the sink. He walked back into the room to find Allen sitting straight up, his phone abandoned and his brow furrowed.
"Sam, is something burning?"
Sam's eyes widened. "Oh shit, the eggs!" He sprinted down the hallway into the kitchen and turned off the burner, but it was too late. The egg mixture was blackened and didn't seem edible in the slightest. Sam wondered how it had burned so fast until he realized that he had turned the burner on too high in his haste. He switched the burner off and hastily scraped the eggs into the trash.
"Of course I mess up the one thing I can actually cook, stupid..." he muttered, turning on the faucet and scrubbing the pan aggressively with a sponge. Deep down, he knew that he was overreacting, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He had messed up, he had failed, he…
"Sam?" Allen called.
For a second, Sam didn't answer, continuing to scrub the pot even though it was clean.
"Sam, are you alright? Do you need me to come--"
"I'm fine! You're not getting out of bed, remember?" For some reason, the prospect of Allen seeing him in that state snapped him out of it. He decided to let the pot sit in the sink and walked back to the bedroom.
Allen smiled tiredly as he entered. "You doing okay, sweetheart?"
Something about the way that Allen was looking at him made Sam’s heart skip a beat. It was the perfect mixture of concern and undying love. This wasn’t the first time Sam had seen that face and it wouldn’t be the last, but those moments always felt unbelievably special.
"Is something wrong, space cadet?"
Sam shook his head, blinking rapidly as he realized that he had been staring. "Sorry, it's… I'm fine, just--”
“Had a moment?"
If it was possible, Allen's smile widened. "It's okay. I understand."
"Do you want me to get you something else? I'm sure we have some leftovers or--"
Allen laughed softly, or at least whatever passed as softly for him. "You know what, I don't think I'm hungry after all. Maybe later, okay?"
"Okay." Sam started to head for the door. He had a book waiting in the living room, and there was no use in staying and bothering--
“Sam?” He turned around to see Allen looking at him with a sheepish grin. “Would you stay? Please?” Allen had pulled back the covers on Sam's side of the bed and was laying there with his right arm across Sam’s pillow. “There’s plenty of room in here for you, y’know.”
Sam couldn't help but laugh at that. "You know, the congestion kind of ruins the mood."
"Just get in here."
Sam started to walk towards the bed, then hesitated. “Are you sure you want me laying so close to you? I mean, what if I get sick?”
“Sam, in all the years that I've known you, you’ve never had so much as a sniffle. I don't even know if you can get sick. You'll be fine, okay?"
Sam couldn't help but smile. “Okay, then.” He climbed into bed and Allen immediately pulled him close. Sam was startled at first-- there was a natural comfort to Allen's hugs, but the added heat took a little getting used to. He frowned up at his boyfriend. “Has your fever gone up?” He reached out a hand and stroked Allen’s cheek, his brow furrowing. “You feel a little warmer.”
Allen gently entwined his fingers with Sam’s, pulling their hands away from his face. “I'm going to be fine, dear. It's alright.”
Sam shook his head. “I know, it's just… I worry about you, you know that, right?”
It was nice to hear Allen’s booming laugh, even if it did dissolve into a coughing fit halfway through. “Sam Bailey, worried about someone? What a concept!”
Sam shoved him lightly. “You know what I mean.”
Allen's smile softened. “I do.” He placed a gentle kiss on Sam's forehead and Sam couldn't help but blush. “Now, how about we both get some rest?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
There were many more anxieties swirling through Sam’s head, as always. It was a swirling cacophony of questions and hypotheticals and a million ways that the day could turn on a dime. Still, instead of allowing the waves to overtake him, he closed his eyes and focused on the feeling of Allen’s arms wrapped around him. It was all going to be okay.
Sam smiled as he let the world slip away, safe in the arms of his forever love.