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Sometimes you know you’re going to be sick days before the illness actually hits.

For Alya, it was something that began in the early hours of the morning.

On Monday, she woke at four AM. In her sleepy state, she could register that the back of her throat was swollen. Her reflexes pushed her to swallow, a task that was all too difficult and resulted in the feeling of a knife sliding down her throat. Then, her grogginess won out, and her mind ignored the pain. She rolled over and fell asleep as if nothing had happened. When she got up for school two hours later, she felt well and went on with her day without a second thought.

On Tuesday, she was greeted by fatigue. She hadn’t slept well the night before, so she blamed her exhausted state on the churning thoughts that kept her awake. But as the day went on, the exhaustion became unbearable. While her teachers lectures were boring and threatened to pull everyone else under, Alya had never had a problem with staying awake and being the all-attentive student (even as Marinette snoozed beside her). That day, however, she slipped away into slumber while Marinette took notes. 

Her friends had seemed worried; Alya never slept during class, and she was certainly never as quiet as she was that day. When Nino had said something silly in an attempt to capture his girlfriend’s attention, she hadn’t blinked twice. No witty remark was given, no smile tugged at the corners of her lips. She told them she was just tired, but she noticed their lingering glances throughout the day.

Around four in the afternoon, the headache appeared. She didn’t even think about it as she swallowed two painkillers and settled into her bed to take a nap and remedy the exhaustion that weighed down her footsteps. A nap on her plush bed, clad in her favorite pajamas, swaddled into the warmest blankets.

She really hadn’t intended on sleeping all though the night, missing the dozens of text messages from her friends and from the news of an akuma attack.

On Wednesday, all hell broke loose. When she finally woke from her slumber, the illness was present in full force. Her head was throbbing, her body was sore, and her nose was completely useless due to the fact she couldn’t actually breathe. Sweat lined her forehead, so she pushed back the blankets, but the cool air that washed over her body chilled her to the bone.

Alya winced as she sat up in her bed. Just that simple motion seemed to take too much energy. She wanted to fall back into her pillow and sleep until whatever had her feeling so bad had gone away.

But it was a school day, and she’d just have to power through.

She glanced around, her eyes searching for her phone. Finally, she spotted the device. It had been thrown half-hazardously onto her bed the afternoon before. She picked it up, turned it in her hands, and pressed the button. The screen lit up, notifying her that it was 6:03 AM and she had 86 notifications.

She swallowed.

Big mistake.

It felt like glass lined the back of her throat, and it was razor blades she had swallowed. She would’ve moaned in pain, but she was sure that it would’ve only made it worse.

This time, she did fall back into her pillow.

Her mother knocked on her bedroom door an hour later, just as sleep had come to her.

“Alya?” Her mother asked. When no response was heard, the door creaked open, and the older woman’s head peeked inside. Upon seeing her daughter buried in a nest of blankets, she opened the door further. “Alya, you need to get up for school or you’ll be late.”

“Mmm…” Alya replied.

“Alya, cherie, wake up,” Marlena Césaire said. She stepped over to the window and opened the curtains to allow sunshine to bathe the room. Then, she turned to her daughter and shook her. “What’s up with you? You’re never late to rise!”

Marlena pulled back the blankets, revealing Alya’s ailing state. She couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped her when she saw her shivering child.

“I’ll call the school and make you an appointment with a doctor,” she said, pulling her phone out of her pocket. Alya didn’t protest, which was enough to raise alarms. Alya hated doctors, hospitals, even pharmacies. Unless it was absolutely necessary, she would never visit the doctor. Many of her colds and minor illnesses were treated with over-the-counter medicine, water, and rest. To allow her mother to make an appointment was uncharacteristic, hinting that her sickness was serious.

An hour later, Alya was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. The plastic, blue chair was hard and uncomfortable to relax in. She crossed her legs and tugged at the sleeves of her sweater, fighting off another round of coughs that would shake her entire body and bring tears to her eyes. She was also fighting off her nerves. The white walls and crisp scent of the office unnerved her. It was too clean, too sterile, too… devoid of personality.

In the seat across from her, a little boy sneezed. He was a blond boy with blue eyes brighter than the sky, blue eyes that reminded Alya of her best friend. His hair draped messily onto his forehead as the sneeze pushed his head forward. Tiny hands held a tissue to his nose. When he looked up, he caught Alya’s eye for a quick second before burying his head in his mother’s arm.

Her lips twitched into an impossibly tiny smile when he peeked at her with one blue eye, but the expression faded when a tickle in her throat turned into a coughing fit. After half a minute of the fit, she could finally breathe, but her eyes were filled with tears and her throat felt as if it were on fire.

Her five seconds of peace were disrupted by an attack of sneezes. One after another, the sneezes seized her and caused her eyes to water even more. Eight times it happened. By the time the wave had stopped, Alya was ready to be put out of her misery. She just wanted to get medicine, go home, and sleep. She just wanted to feel well again.

A small arm outstretched, waving a white square of tissue. She glanced up to find the blue-eyed boy. “Thank you,” Alya whispered, taking the tissue from him. Her voice was hoarse and barely audible due to whatever was occurring in her throat. The boy gave her a toothy grin before stumbling back to his mother.

Moments later, she was called into an examination room.

She held her mother’s hand as she shuffled along.

***

“I’m sorry I can’t stay here and take care of you,” Marlena Césaire said sadly. She sat on her daughter’s bed, her white chef’s uniform standing out in the darkened room. Not two hours prior, Alya had been diagnosed with a contagious illness and was confined to bed rest. She had taken her beginning doses of medication, and it was now time for her mother to go to work. “Mr. Bourgeois  wouldn’t be happy if I took the day off, especially when I had to take off last week to take care of your little sister. I can arrange for your father to come look after you if you—“

“No, it’s okay,” Alya lied. Truthfully, she wished her mother could stay, but she was capable of taking care of herself. Her father didn’t handle illness very well, so it was useless to call him up. Plus, he was probably busy at work. “I’m seventeen. I can look after myself. It’s no problem.”

Her mother stood, and the bed shifted with the weight taken away. She seemed hesitant. “A… Are you sure?”

“Yes, Mama, I’m sure,” Alya nodded.

“Do you need me to get you anything before I go? A glass of water? A blanket? Another pillow?” Marlena asked. Alya was pretty sure that she would start chewing on her nails if her nerves got any worse.

Alya placed her hand on her mother’s arm to comfort her. It was odd—Alya was the one who was ill, yet it was her mother who needed to hear words of reassurance. “I’m fine, Mama. Go to work. Don’t worry about me. The doctor said it’ll go away in a few days.”

Marlena smiled, but Alya could still see the worry in her eyes. A gentle kiss was pressed to her sweaty forehead, and her mother uttered a goodbye and wishes to get well before she left the room.

From her bedroom, Alya could hear her mother shuffle around for a few moments. The front door opened and closed quietly.

Alya fell back into her pillow. She wasn’t one to get sick very often, and she guessed that she must have gotten this illness from her sister, who had suffered through the same diagnosis just a week before. It was one of the worst sicknesses, in her opinion. She would give anything to be able to breathe properly without her nostrils burning from a sneeze or her throat boiling from a cough. If she took a breath the wrong way, she’d be a lost cause.

She turned her head and looked at her phone. She still hadn’t read through those 86 notifications. She had felt too miserable to even pick up her phone. With the medicine pumping in her system, though, she was feeling a bit better. Now, she took the device, held her finger to the unlock button, and began to scroll through her messages and alerts.

 

From: Mari!

--Tuesday--

(4:23 pm) hey! feeling any better?

(4:26 pm) I have the notes for today’s class. want me to send them to you?

(4:35 pm) alya?

(4:42 pm) I realize now that you’re probably asleep. rest well, alya! just text me whenever you’re awake.

(6:47 pm) okay, so there was an akuma and I don’t know if you’re still asleep or if you got caught in the crossfire

(6:52 pm) alya? I’m worried. please text me or call me or something!

(7:25 pm) alya? I called your house but no one answered

(7:41 pm) called again, your sister answered and said you were asleep, so I feel better. guess you really were exhausted!

(9:20 pm) hey, sleepy head! you never text me back!

(9:31 pm) surely you’re not still asleep. it’s been five hours…

(9:45 pm) okay, maybe you are still asleep. you’re totally screwing up your sleep schedule

--Wednesday—

(1:13 am) Alya?

(1:24 am) I’ll just assume you’re sleeping through the night. I’ll see you in the morning, though

(7:03 am) you awake now?

(8:01 am) you’re not at school, and you’re never late. is everything okay?

(8:30 am) Nino hasn’t heard from you, and neither has Adrien. we’re worried. please text me soon.

(10:24 am) if I don’t hear from you by lunch, I’m stopping by your house

 

From: Nino <3

--Tuesday--

(4:48 pm) hey babe, r u sure u feel ok? u were acting kinda strange today

(4:56 pm) babe?

(5:06 pm) alya?

(5:46 pm) there’s an attack at the seine river. LB and Chat r kicking ass. r u here?

(5:59 pm) pretty sure Chat hurt his ankle or smthn. this villain is fighting back pretty hard. he’s destroyed a couple buildings nearby, but every1 else seems to b ok

(6:10 pm) Alya?

(6:30 pm) the miraculous LB and Chat strike again. bad guy is no more, but i’m still worried about u

(6:54 pm) me and mari r starting to freak out bc u haven’t replied to us

(7:15 pm) babe, r u there?

(7:42 pm) mari told me she called ur house and ur sis said u were asleep. u did seem out of it today. i’m glad u r getting some rest. love u.

--Wednesday—

(12:00 am) u awake?

(12:12 am) alyaaaaa?

(12:15 am) i’ll take that as a no. it’s cool. i’ll just see u @ school. goodnight, love u

(7:56 am) u’ll never guess what

(7:56 am) view photo

(7:56 am) mari is actually here before 1st bell

(7:58 am) view photo

(7:58 am) and look @ that, she’s talkin w/ adrien

(8:02 am) u missed the bell. where r u?

(9:00 am) babe?

(10:36 am) i’m visiting u @ lunch to check in. pls text me asap

 

From: Adrien

--Tuesday—

(5:13 pm) Hey, Alya! I don’t mean to bother, but I noticed you’ve been a bit tired the past couple days. I hope you’re getting enough sleep. You know that Nino, Marinette, and I care about you, and we can cover for you if you need to spend the day at home to rest tomorrow!

(7:05 pm) Marinette and Nino are kind of freaking out because they can’t reach you. Just give them a call whenever you can, okay?

--Wednesday—

(8:10 am) Mari and Nino are scared now because you aren’t at school. I hope you’re just at home resting and have your phone turned off. Text one of us whenever you see this so we know you’re okay. We love you! Hope you get well soon!

 

Guilt pooled in Alya’s stomach. She should’ve checked her phone sooner. She had put it on silent so she wouldn’t be disturbed during her nap, but perhaps that hadn’t been the best idea. She had no idea that she had worried her friends so much. She couldn’t even bring herself to care about the fact she had missed an akuma attack. She chewed on her bottom lip as she typed a group message.

 

To Mari!, Nino <3, and Adrien:

(10:45 am) Hey, guys! I’m sorry I worried you all. I fell asleep after school, and I didn’t wake up until this morning. Then, I had to go the doctor this morning because I’m ill. It would probably be best if none of you visit today. I don’t want to get you all sick.

 

She breathed a sigh of relief when she hit the send button, but her relief was short-lived as she was sent into another fit of coughs. Dry and rough, they shook her body and irritated her throat. When they subsided a minute later, Alya gave a frustrated grunt and wiped the tears that had begun to pool in her eyes.

At least she wasn’t throwing up, she supposed.

Her phone lit up with two new notifications.

 

From: Adrien

(10:46 am) Oh, I’m sorry to hear you’re sick! That would explain why you were so tired yesterday. Get well soon! Be sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

 

From: Mari!

(10:47 am) must be pretty serious for you to go to the doctor. are you sure you don’t want me to come by?

 

Alya pulled up her best friend's name in her inbox and crafted a reply

Mari!

Thanks, but I can take care of myself. I don’t need to get anyone sick.

take care of yourself? is your mom not with you?

No, she’s not, but I’m okay! Really. It’s just something going around.

I’ll be back to normal in a couple days

okay. if you say so. I love you. hope you get well soon<3

 

Alya sighed again and tossed her phone to the side. Nino hadn’t text back, she noticed, and she had lied to Marinette. She wasn’t okay. She felt like living hell, and she really wanted company (or at least her mother’s homemade chicken noodle soup). But her mother had to work, and she couldn’t risk getting her friends sick. Marinette missed enough school as it was, and Alya had a feeling that Gabriel Agreste would not be happy if his model son came down with an illness. And Nino… Nino was a pain to deal with when he wasn’t feeling well. She loved him, but he whined a lot.

She waited ten minutes for a text message from her boyfriend, but it was a text that was never delivered. So, she lay in bed with her eyes closed, hoping she could fall asleep and wake up feeling new.

At twelve thirty, the doorbell rang.

Ding-dong.

Ding-dong.

The first two times the bell chimed through the house, Alya thought to ignore it. She furrowed her eyebrows at the noise but dug deeper into the mountain of blankets. She was awake, but she most certainly did not feel new.

Ding-dong.

The third time it rang, she sat up. She glanced to her phone, looking for a message that warned her of this impromptu visit, but the screen simply showed the time.

Ding-dong.

She placed her feet on the ground during the fourth ring and stood. With a pink princess blanket dragging behind her like a cape, she made her way to the door. Her footsteps were slow.

Ding-do

She swung the door open.

“Nino?” Alya said, gazing at her boyfriend. His finger, held to the doorbell, stopped. The sun was just behind him, and she had to squint to see him properly. Oh, why had he come? He didn’t need to be here. What if he got sick? After all, she was contagious.

Grinning, her boyfriend kissed her cheek and pushed her aside so he could come in. “Good afternoon, Alya,” he said, his voice full of cheer. Closing the door behind him, he looked at her up and down and smirked. “Nice blanket. I thought for sure you’d have one with superheroes, not princesses.”

“This is my little sister’s blanket,” Alya defended herself. She tried raising her voice, but the words were still quiet and harsh, and she was sent into a miniature coughing fit. The smirk was wiped from his lips, and she guessed that it wasn’t her words that did it. The coughing was over a minute later. She wiped the back of her mouth with her hand and winced. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. You can’t help that you’re sick,” he said, pressing a kiss to the crown of her hair. He pulled away and smiled again. It was odd to see him so caring and affectionate, she decided. Not that he wasn’t caring or affectionate; he just usually didn’t kiss the top of her head. Nino lifted his arm to proudly display a takeout bag. “I have soup! I stopped by the hotel where your mom works. She had called me and asked if I could bring this to you during lunch.”

“What kind is—“

“Chicken noodle soup, homemade. It’s your favorite, I know,” Nino said. He walked her over to the kitchen and placed the bag on the table. He removed the thermos, three boxes, and a card. “Then, Mari wanted to send some of your favorite sweets from the bakery, and Adrien gave me some of this tea that’s supposed to help soothe your throat. The class also signed a card when they heard you weren’t feeling well. And I brought your favorite movies. I thought we could chill on the couch or in your room and watch them. If you want, that is. I know you said you didn’t want anyone to visit, but Mari knew that you weren’t okay with being alone and I--”

At that point, anything he said would’ve just been noise in her ears. She didn’t care that she was sick; she surged forward and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly. Whatever feeling of guilt or disappointment she had earlier had faded, now replaced by gratuity and warmth. Her friends were the absolute best. They were so kind and caring, and they knew her better than anyone. Marinette had known that she didn’t want to be alone, and Adrien had sent her tea, and Nino had taken time out his lunch to stop by and bring her everything. She was so happy she could cry.

And she did.

“Alya?” Nino asked, concern obvious in his voice. He had wrapped his arms around her, and his hands were rubbing her back soothingly, but he was probably alarmed by the water leaking through his t-shirt and the sobs that had erupted from her. “I’m sorry! I didn’t think that coming here would be that big a deal! I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you when you said you didn’t want us to come by…”

Alya pulled away. Sniffling, she wiped her tears away with the heel of her hand. “I’m not upset. I’m just really overwhelmed that you all care so much.”

Nino stared at her for a long moment, his lips forming a pout. Then, he grabbed her arm and pulled her in for a kiss. “You are too freaking cute,” he muttered against her lips.

She was lost in his embrace for a moment, just melting into the kiss, but she found her way back to reality and abruptly moved back. “Stop! You’re going to get sick. I’m contagious, and swapping saliva is a sure way to spread it.”

Nino smirked. “Kissing you is always worth it.”

“Don’t expect me to say the same when you’re miserable,” she scowled.

Laughing, he brought his hand up to brush a strand of hair from her face. His fingers grazed her burning skin. “God, you’re hot,” he muttered.

It was Alya’s turn to smirk. “I am, aren’t I? You’re one lucky guy to be dating someone this hot.”

His expression turned flat. “Don’t be a smartass,” Nino said, pulling his hand away. But another grin tugged at his mouth, and his hand moved down her side. “Though, I do have to agree. I most definitely am a lucky guy to be dating you.”

He pinched her ass, causing her to yelp and squirm away. She stuck her tongue out at him.

He chuckled and stepped closer to her. “So mature, too,” he teased, wrapping his arm around her waist. He kissed her once again, long and sweet. Her eyes fluttered open once he pulled away. “You know, now that I think about it, you didn’t recoil when you opened the door, insisting that I not see you in such a ragged state.”

Alya shrugged. “I could care less. You’re already my boyfriend, and I’m a human being. I’m not attractive every single minute of every single day. I look like hell right now, but what does it matter? You’re still here, aren’t you?”

“I’m still here,” he confirmed, smiling at her. His eyes wandered to the pile of supplies on the table. “So, where do you want to watch those movies? Living room or your room?”

Alya glanced at the clock. “Shouldn’t you be getting back to class now?”

He grinned. “I’m taking the rest of the day off. I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”

“Nino,” she warned, narrowing her eyes at him. Her arms her crossed over her chest as she put on her best mothering face.

“Don’t ‘Nino’ me. I hardly ever miss school. I can afford to miss half a day to take care of my poor, suffering girlfriend,” he said, his voice mocking for his last few words.

She shook her head and rolled her eyes, but she knew that there was nothing she could really do about it. Once he made his mind up about skipping school, he was going to skip. Plus, who was she to complain? He was skipping school for her, and they had the entire house to themselves until her father brought her little sister home from daycare. And even then, they could lounge on the couch until his curfew.

Sure, she was sick, but she could never convince him to leave. I may as well go along with it, she thought. She shrugged, throwing all her care out the window, and brought her hand to rest on the side of his neck. “Let’s go to my room. You bring the food, and I’ll put on a movie, okay?”

“Sounds like a plan,” he smiled. He pulled her in for yet another kiss, but this one was nothing like those before. It wasn’t sweet or short or simple. It started out as just a kiss, but the deeper it became, the deeper Alya fell. By the time they pulled away, she was breathless and forcing away another round of coughs.

“Whether we actually watch that movie or not… we’ll see,” Alya exhaled, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck. Her fingers played with the soft strands of hair at the back of his neck. Her nail scratched against the red fabric of his hat.

“At least eat some soup. Then we’ll talk… or make out,” he said. His half-lidded look and cocky grin made Alya push away from him and give in to a fit of laughter. The laughter soon turned to coughs, though, reminding the young couple that they should’ve been staying away from each other.

But keeping their hands to themselves was much easier said than done.

***

It took Alya three days to make a full recovery, and she was back to school by Monday morning. Many classmates smiled and told her they were glad to see her feeling well again, and promises to help with school work were made. She thanked everyone for the card by giving out some of the clay charms of Ladybug and Chat Noir she had made while she was sick (she had cleaned each of them very well before distributing them, she swore).

Two minutes before the bell rang, Adrien and Marinette walked into the class room. Together.

It wasn’t like they were holding hands or anything, but there was something about them that made Alya pause. Perhaps it was the shy glances or the blush that decorated not only her best friend’s cheeks, but Adrien’s as well. Something had happened between them, Alya just knew.

And she was going to get to the bottom of it.

“Alya!” Marinette said, catching sight of her. She ran forward, nearly tripping over the step, but Adrien’s arms shot out and caught her before she tumbled. The two looked at each other with wide eyes for a long moment. Adrien finally let go of her hand and scratched the back of his neck; Marinette rubbed her arm nervously.

Alya coughed. “After nearly a week away, I expected a hug or a smile, at least, but instead I find that some secrets are being kept from me,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.

Snapping out of her trance, Marinette looked at her. A grin spread on her face, and the slim girl rushed to her. Her arms wrapped around her tightly. “Welcome back! I’m so glad to see you’re better! I thought I was going to die without you. I was stuck in class with Adrien and Nino every day.”

Alya laughed, hugging her best friend. It felt good to be back.

“Speaking of,” Adrien chimed in. “Where is Nino?”

The two best friends pulled away from each other to stare at the empty desk. Alya furrowed her eyebrows and glanced to her phone. A notification gave her the answer to his question.

“Oh, it looks like he won’t be here for a few days. He’s at the doctor.”