Day 2

Title: Day 2
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Strokes (original characters)
Rating: PG
Summary: Sin realizes that Ducky really is a big baby when he’s sick
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2012 project for Anonymous

The elevator in the building was possibly the slowest in creation. He had been told there was another building on campus with a slower elevator, but he refused to believe it. The feeling of panic overtook him as he stood on the ground floor, waiting for the impossibly slow elevator and re-reading the rest message. Finally, he gave up and headed up the stairs. The first three flights were a breeze. The next one made him slow down. And the last three made him wish he had waited for the elevator after all. The staircase deposited him at the end of the hallway and from there he could immediately see that the door to Ducky’s office was open.

Moreover, he could see a man standing in the hallway, talking. The words sounded like murmurs and hisses from where he was, and he approached cautiously until he knew differently. He had never actually met Ducky’s colleagues in the mathematics department, who all apparently assumed mild mannered Bing was straight.

Suddenly, from out of a door halfway down the hall, a woman appeared. She had something in her hand—it looked like a mug—and she handed it to Ducky, still out of view inside the office. The man talking to Ducky handed him something as well—a box? A box of… were they tissues? Sin wished he had superhuman hearing and could find out what was going on. His mind raced and the first thing that it settled on was that someone had died. Maybe it was someone in Ducky’s family? Maybe it was a friend? Oh God. What if it were someone from the mansion? That would surely explain the 911. Sin quickened his pace, not caring when the laptop in its bag repeatedly hit his side harder than was probably good for it. The woman retreated to her office, but the man stayed put.

Sin could finally make out their conversation. “Are you going to be all right?” the man asked.

To which Ducky replied, “I don’t know.” There was a soft sniffle.

“You shouldn’t drive home in this condition.”

Sin made it to Ducky’s office and saw the way his boyfriend’s face lit up. “Here’s my ride now,” Ducky said. Then Ducky did the introductions. “Sin, this is my thesis advisor, Professor Callen… eh… ehhh-Inxxsh!

Sin stuck his hand out. “Gary Sinclair. Pleased to meet you, Sir. I’m a friend of Bing’s.” He was excruciatingly careful with how he pronounced ‘friend.’ He had made himself a promise to keep Ducky’s sexuality a secret. “Apparently I fit the bill: I’m on campus and have a driver’s license.”

Aware that the man was scrutinizing him, Sin stood straight and tried not to stare at Ducky. He heard the man sniff again and a fresh wave of panic hit Sin.

“Are you a student?” the man asked him.

Sin nodded. “I’m a student, but not one of Bing’s. I’m a jock and Math 51 with Professor Allington last semester was almost more than I can handle.”

The man seemed only mildly amused at what wasn’t really a joke. What was really funny was that Sin had fallen for a guy whose passion was in a field Sin just couldn’t wrap his head around. Not that Ducky had figured out hockey completely either. But there was plenty of time left to learn.

“Well, I should be going. I expect you’ll be able to handle Bing from here then?”

Handle him? Sin tried not to laugh at that, though the effort was considerable. “I’ll make sure he gets home safe.”

Sin stepped into Ducky’s office, unable to keep his eyes from briefly glancing at the digits of Pi going around the top of the room in a border. Every time he was in there, he secretly tried to memorize more of it to impress Ducky. So far, he was up to just seven digits, which he didn’t think was too impressive yet. He wanted to close the door behind them, so they could speak confidentially. But he knew what that would look like and how it might get his boy in trouble. “Ducky, what’s the emergency?”

Ducky looked at him briefly then grabbed a tissue from the box his advisor had given him. “heh-Ehghhhh! Ninghhh! In-Gixxttt! Hih-ingtt!” He snuffled into a tissue and wasn’t finished. “hih-Ihhnguhhh!” He waved his hand, gesturing toward his nose and what was going on there. “This.”

Sin waited, sure there had to be more. But the more he waited, the more certain there was no more. “Wait, wait. Are you telling me I rushed out of class and all the way across campus and the big emergency is that you have a little cold?” He was partially annoyed at that and partially relieved that no one was dead.

After blowing his nose, Ducky shook his head. “It’s not a little cold. It’s an enormous, gigantic, monstrous cold. It’s the worst cold I’ve ever had and I think I’m dying. In fact, I think I have a fever.” He stepped forward. “Sin, can you tell if I have a fever?”

Sin could have felt Ducky’s forehead, but he was pretty sure how that would look to anyone who might pass by the office. A young student intimately touching a professor? That was a bad idea and then some. “Um, I really don’t think I ought to—”

“I think it’s a bad fever.” He stepped over to the wall, knocked on it, and called out, “Jeff!” A second later, a man about Ducky’s age appeared in the doorway. “I think I have a fever.”

Jeff sighed and reached over, pressing the back of his hand to Ducky’s forehead. “Nope, no fever, just like the last eight times you’ve asked.”

Ducky smiled with a faraway look in his eyes. “Thanks, Jeff.”

“No sweat.” Jeff nodded amicably to Sin, but put his hand on Sin’s shoulder and paused beside him on his way out the door. He spoke in a soft whisper, “Please drive him home? He took way too much Dayquil an hour ago.”

Once again, Sin tried not to laugh. But as soon as Jeff was gone, he retrieved Ducky’s coat from the back of the door. “I’m taking you home,” he declared.

Ducky didn’t move. “You were in class when I called you?”

“Yeah,” Sin sighed. “It’s Thursday. I have class until 3:15, remember?”

Ducky didn’t look shocked or surprised so much as he looked sorry. “Sin… ihh… ihhh-Hihnguhhhh! Ihh-Nixxxttt!

Sin wanted nothing more than to put his arm around Ducky and tell him he would be all right. Sin wanted to kiss Ducky and reassure him that he’d be taken care of.

“I think I might have a fever.”

If he had done this with Jeff nine times already, Sin wondered how many more times were ahead of them. “You don’t have a fever, I promise. Just get your coat on and we’ll head out to your car, man.”


Ducky sneezed the entire way home. Granted, it was just a fifteen-minute drive, but it was still a rather impressive feat. Sin was glad Ducky’s advisor had given him an almost full box of tissues, because Ducky was almost half done with the box by the time he got home. “I don’t feel good,” Ducky whimpered as Sin led him inside the apartment building.

“I know,” Sin whispered, trying to hurry him along. Ducky’s landlady was a busybody who knew Ducky’s family. They couldn’t touch, couldn’t do anything in the hallway. In fact, Ducky reached out to him several times and Sin had to carefully move away to be sure Ducky’s reputation remained intact. It wasn’t until they were in Ducky’s apartment and the door was closed behind that he felt free to reach out for Ducky’s hand.

Ducky, instead, lunged at Sin and hugged him tightly. “Sin,” he whimpered. “I feel sick.”

“I know you do, baby. And I’m here to take care of you, all right? I’ll get you whatever you need.”

Ducky nodded and released Sin. “I need tissues.” He sniffed wetly. “Lots and lots of tissues.”

“Fine.” Sin parked Ducky on the bed. “I’m going to get you some tissues and some hot tea. What I want you to do is get out of these clothes and under the covers.” Ducky hesitated. “I’m in charge here. I’m taking care of you. So you have to do as I say.”

Slowly, Ducky smiled. “You’re really going to take care of me?”

“Of course I will,” he replied before he realized all that would actually entail.

As Sin heated water in the microwave, he ushered Ducky to the bed in the far corner of the one-room studio apartment. Ducky always slept naked, and he shivered until Sin forced him under sheets and blankets and comforters, tucking those tightly around his boyfriend. The beep of the microwave called, and Sin prepared tea with honey and no lemon because there was no lemon in the fridge. There was pretty much nothing in the fridge.

When Sin returned to the bed, Ducky had thrown off the covers and was trying to get up. “Whoa, whoa. Where are you going?”

“Need medicine,” he said. “Dayquil.”

Sin remembered something one of Ducky’s colleagues had said about that; was it that Sin had already had some or that he needed more? “I’ll get it. Just get back under the covers.” The problem, Sin realized a few seconds later, was that Sin’s medicine cabinet was empty. Not even a travel pack of tissues, let alone a box. Empty kitchen. Empty bathroom. He’d promised Ducky to take care of him, but now he wasn’t sure how to. “Okay, new plan. I’m going out to the store. I’ll be half an hour. And you’re staying in bed.” Sin kissed Ducky’s forehead then headed for the door. He had just finished tying his shoes when Ducky, swaying and sniffling, came to stand beside him. “Duck, what’re you—“

“G-grocery st-store. Eh-ehPtshhh! Hnxxtttt!” He buried his nose in the crook of his arm, sniffling madly. “Let’s go.” He clung to Sin in such a way that Sin realized leaving Ducky behind wasn’t going to happen. “Only… I think I have a fever,” Sin said.

Sin rolled his yes. “If you’re going to come, you need to put your clothes back on.”


Ducky sneezed all the way to the store and used up tissue after tissue blowing his nose. “Siiiiiiin,” he whined, shivering even though the heat in the car was up higher than usual. “I think I have a fever.”

“You don’t,” Sin assured him, trying to keep his distance from Ducky. It was hard to keep pushing him away, hard to keep stepping back and making it look like a casual move and not some attempt at evading or covering up. The store was only minutes from Ducky’s parents’ restaurant and any number of family members could be right in the next aisle. So every time the man grabbed his arm or started to snuggle close, Sin would have to suddenly be interested in something further along the aisle or gracefully slip his arm out of Ducky’s hold.

Even worse was when it was up to Ducky to decide what he needed. Deciding on cold medicine had been a chore; Ducky had nearly burst into tears at all the different choices available. Tissues proved to be just as bad. “C’mon, just pick one.”

Ducky moved toward one box. “I like red.”

“Red it is,” Sin sounded relieved.

“But I want the extra soft ones.”

Sin gestured to the far right, where those ones were.

Ducky walked over to them, as if moving in slow motion. He rubbed the back of his neck and then rubbed his nose as he stared at the tissues. Finally, his gaze strayed. “But none of these are red. I like red.”

Sin bit down on his lower lip. “Then get the red box.”

Ducky sniffled and shook his head. “What about the ones with lotion? I want one of those.”

But the moment Sin went to get one of those, Ducky shook his head again. “I want a red one… ehhh… ehhNGxxxxttt!” He’d tried to hold it back, having no tissues in hand at that moment, but he’d only half stifled it.


Sin stiffened, eyes widened. He didn’t recognize the voice, but obviously the person it belonged to had recognized Ducky.

They both turned away from the tissues to see—oh damn it—Bing’s Aunt Xui Li. If only it had been Aunt Chyou, the gay one, maybe they would have had a chance. But Aunt Xui Li was apparently uptight, conservative, and the biggest gossip in the family. Instinctively, Sin took another step away from Ducky, though Ducky swayed dizzily and rubbed his wrist beneath his nose.

They spoke in Chinese for a few minutes, with Sin sniffling and nodding. At the end, he shook his head and gestured to Sin. And then, with one more statement, she stepped forward and pressed her hand to his forehead, frowning. She eyed Sin and frowned some more. Then she said something else, gestured to one of the boxes, and walked away without giving Sin even one more look.

Sin was desperate to know what they’d said, but right now and all he wanted to do was get out of there as soon as humanly possible, especially as Ducky looked like he was going to sneeze again. This time, Ducky managed to cup his hand over his nose and mouth. “ehh-Ehnchhhtttt! HehKschhhhhh!” His nose dripped. His body shook with a shiver.

“That’s it.” Sin grabbed one of the boxes of extra soft tissues, ripped it open, and pressed a pair of tissues into Ducky’s hand. Then he swept other boxes into his cart—another extra soft, a lotion, and a red box as well. With the way Ducky was sneezing, probably Ducky would need them all and more. “We’re out of here.”

Blowing his nose made Ducky feel better. And in appreciation, he tried to snuggle up to Sin. Sin stepped away, putting distance between them. When they stood together in the checkout line, Ducky tried to nuzzle close, and Sin was forced to push him away, hold him at arm’s length.

“But I think I’ve got a fever,” Ducky insisted. “Siiiiiiinnn… can you tell if I have a fever?”

Sin bit his lip and clenched his fists tight. In a hushed voice, he replied, “I’ll check when we get you back to your apartment.”

Ducky shook his head yet again. “Don’t want to go back there. Want to go with you to the mansion.”

Sin pushed the grocery cart forward as the woman at the register started ringing up and bagging their groceries.

Ducky moved close again, his hand on Sin’s lower back.

Sin’s back curved to avoid the intimate touch. He stepped forward to get away, cart rolling, lurching as the woman tried to place a bag in. Sin cleared his throat and smiled sheepishly. He paid and they walked back to Ducky’s car. “You really want to go to my place instead of yours?”

Ducky nodded, hugging the tissue box to his chest.

Sin had to admit the idea was appealing. At the mansion there would be others to help look after Ducky—Olly, Auntie Al, Sweetie, Coach. They could stay in Sin’s room or set Ducky up on the couch with pillows and a comforter where there would be no shortage of people around if he needed something.

“Please? hehjjjIHKkshhhh!” He sneezed into a wad of tissues, looking as pathetic as he could, probably on purpose. “I really don’t feel good,” he whimpered. “And I think I’ve got a fever.”

Sin reached into the back seat, his free hand searching around amidst the flimsy plastic bags until he pulled something out. “I was going to surprise you with this at home, but the drive’s going to be a little longer than I thought. So here.” He dropped a small box into Ducky’s lap.

Ducky looked down at it and instantly smiled. Without hesitation, he tore open the box, pulled out the thermometer, and put it in his mouth. Then, smiling around the thermometer, he leaned over and snuggled against Sin’s side.