Your Fever's Too High. You're Delirious.



“Your fever's too high. You're delirious.”


“I'm not,” Matt replied, sitting up on the couch. He was sure he'd sensed something, heard something. And he was sure it wasn't good. Ever since he'd put on the mask and gone out to protect Hell's Kitchen every way he could, someone was always out to get him.


“Let me get you a cold washcloth for your forehead until that medicine I gave you kicks in.” Claire stood up but felt herself pulled back down onto the edge of the couch where she'd been sitting.


“Don't move. I think they're on their way up here right now.” He was in no shape to protect her if it came to a fight, but he wasn't about to let her rush head-on into the danger if he could help it. He might be sick, but she was still safest at his side. He kept a grip on her wrist, just in case.


Claire hesitated before she answered. “Who are you talking about? Matthew, the Russians are gone. No one's coming after you or me.”


But Matt shook his head. His senses had never let him down before when he needed them. Sure, they might be a little compromised because of his flu, but they weren't making him hear things that weren't there... were they? He couldn't let Claire go. All Matt knew for sure was that if she went into the other room, he wouldn't be able to protect her if danger struck.


Any second now he expected a knock on the door. Or for the door to be kicked down. Or for someone to come swinging in through a window. Or for an explosion in one of the other apartments of the building to rock the room.


“Matthew, lie back down. You're sick.”


He shook his head, straining to hear a new sound. “I'm... hahChooo!” Quickly, his hands jerked upward and covered his nose and mouth, though a fraction of a second too late.


Claire's voice was different when she said, “bless you.” And he movements seemed softer, smoother when she handed him a tissue from the box on the coffee table.


“What is it?” he asked, wiping at his nose.


“It's... just...”


He trusted her with his biggest secret. He trusted her with his life. And, yet, he barely knew this night nurse, an angel sent to take care of him exactly when he needed it the most. He wasn't entirely sure he could trust his senses, and he didn't want to offend her by what he had to say. “Are you laughing at me?”


“No!” she exclaimed, but there was a bubbliness to the word, a lighter and more melodic tone. “Of course not!” She wasn't laughing, but she was trying hard to not laugh. She was fighting against it as hard as possible. The  soft sound of flesh slapping flesh. Quickened breathing. An almost-snort. She had her hand clapped over her mouth in the effort, and she was losing the battle.


“All right,” he said, lying back on the couch, not because he didn't think there was a danger now but because his head felt funny, a little dizzy, and he seemed better when it was cradled on the couch cushion again. “Are you going to tell me what's so funny?”


“No,” she said again, but this time the laughter came up to the surface, boiling, overflowing. She couldn't help but laugh. Luckily, she tried to explain at the same time. “You're amazing, Matthew... in what you can see even though you're blind. To be able to know the things you know and fight the way you fight. It's incredible. You know everything. Except... apparently... when you're about to sneeze.”


With another rub at his nose, Matt gave a chuckle. She was right, of course. Sometimes he felt them coming a mile away, but that last one especially had been sneaky, sudden. In fact, most of the ones that accompanied this flu had taken him by surprise. “hah-CHOO!” Like that one, for example.


“Bless you,” she laughed, pressing another clean tissue into his hand. “I'm going to get that wash cloth now.”


“No...” he protested, but only half-hardheartedly. He wasn't all that sure any more of what was going on. Had he just been imagining that danger? A minute later, she was back and draping a cool, damp cloth over his forehead and another warm quilt over his body. Matt sighed happily. “Yes...” This felt incredible. The incessant thumping in his temples stopped. The dangerous, troublesome feeling tingling up and down his arms like a warning disappeared. For the first time in he didn't know how long, he felt like he could actually relax safely.