Title: Symphonyflute's Request 2007

Author: tarotgal

Rating: G

Fandom: Fantastic Four

Disclaimer: Sadly, the Four are not mine. Sad but true. I don't make a dime off this. It's just for fun.

Summary: After being frozen during a fight, Johnny is a little angry and more than a little sneezy.

Notes: Written for symphonyflute. I had a bit of the middle written, then saw the animated series last week episode De-Mole-Ition and I absolutely couldn't resist writing that into this fic. Maybe one day I'd like to expand it a bit to incorporate something involving Reed from that episode… but for now, I'll just say that the basic setup with the Mole Man here is from the episode, not mine.


                Johnny sneezed forcefully, and the other three members of the Fantastic Four winced visibly as the sound came through loud and clear in each of their pods of the jet. Reed inserted a finger into his ear and wiggled it around. “Uh, Johnny?”


                “Sorry,” Johnny said with a sigh. “I mean, excuse me. Again.” He sniffed hard; his nose was really running.


                “It's okay,” said Reed, sympathetically. “Just… could you try to keep from sneezing until we get back to the Baxter Building?”


                “Yeah,” said Ben, unable to resist jumping in with his own special brand of comfort. “You've got a great sneeze there, but I think I'd prefer to keep my eardrums intact if you don't mind.”


                Johnny sniffed again and rubbed his finger up and down against his nose. “Just for that, I think I feel another sneeze coming on, Big Guy. Huhh… hiiihhhhh…


                “Johnny!” Sue scolded.


                They spent the rest of their relatively short trip home in silence. Johnny spent the time hugging his arms to his chest, shivering, sniffling, and pinching his nose to keep from sneezing. And it wasn't fair. Not fair at all. The Mole Man had trapped Ben and Reed in mud, and the little mud creature things had grabbed Sue. Did Johnny get trapped in mud? No, he had to be frozen. Completely frozen. So cold he couldn't turn his flame on… so cold he couldn't move… so cold he could barely talk. He'd just had to lie there helplessly, complaining and begging for one of them to rescue him. They had, of course, eventually. Sue had levitated the ice off, and Reed had wrapped his stretchy body around Johnny for a minute or so to warm him just enough.


                Johnny snapped his fingers, feeling the little flame dancing on his fingertips. He still felt cold, and the gentle glow was comforting both to feel and to watch. He wasn't frozen any longer, so that was good. But he definitely had a raging head cold now. That was squarely in the not so good category. If they'd only gotten to him sooner when he was asking them to… his little sniffle might not have grown out of control. In fact, part of him thought maybe they'd taken so long with the rescue on purpose, to pay him back for all the little things- the names, the jokes, the occasional albeit entirely justified showboating.


                He felt another tickle in his nose and almost wanted to sneeze again in retribution. Instead, he scrubbed at his nose until the tickle backed off. Then he snapped his fingers to turn the flame off, slumped down in his seat, and closed his eyes until they got home. But then he leapt out, threw himself against the wall of the hanger for support, and sneezed repeatedly into the crook of his arm. “h'Shoo! ihhShuh! ihShoo! Choo! heh-hehSheoo!” He pulled his eyes open and saw Ben standing over him, wearing an all-too-familiar smirk. “I don't want to hear it,” Johnny muttered. He pushed off from the wall and burst into flames, flying towards the hallway.


                “Johnny! Don't!” Reed called after him. Just as Johnny hit the doorway, he landed and turned his flames off. He had no intention of burning their home down, simply needed to get away for a little while. He needed some fresh air, and maybe to take his car for a spin.


                “Damn!” Johnny's hand burst into flame and almost punched a fiery hole in the wall. With the realization that he was sick, he'd momentarily forgotten that Sue had crashed his new car so extraordinarily. Now the vivid images of shiny red metal crunched and smashed hundreds of feet below the earth came back to his mind.


                “heh-Chuhh!” His nose found his sleeve again. “ehhShoo!


                “Johnny?” Sue's voice travelled down the hallway.


                “T-taking a shower!” Johnny shouted back, immediately disappearing at once into the bathroom and slamming the door. He finished the sneezing fit a second later. “hehhShuh! H'Shuhh! ehhChoo!” Johnny wrinkled his nose as he caught a look at himself in the mirror. Suddenly he could see why Sue's power of invisibility might come in handy.


                While he was in the bathroom, he figured he might as well actually take a shower. He turned the water on as hot and as strong as possible, then stepped in. It felt so nice against his skin that he bent forward, letting it strike his back and run off as he rested his arms and head against the wall. Even at risk of turning into the next Sub-Mariner, Johnny considered staying under the water like this forever. At least here he felt warm, albeit otherwise empty… and still terribly sneezy.


                “HehShehhh! Eh-heh-hihhShuhh! hihSchhhhh!” He sniffed wetly and, without weighing the pros and cons, stumbled back out of the shower to blow his nose. He glared at his reflection. Johnny thought he looked wet, but no more attractive than before. He toweled off and headed to the kitchen, where he found the others sitting around as though waiting for him.


                “What's all this?” Johnny had his arms crossed in front of his chest. Only minutes out of the shower and already he felt shivery again. He rubbed his nose. “You guys aren't going to kick me out just 'cause I caught a cold, are you? Sniff! Sniff! Especially since I told you I needed help and you all just waited around, biding your time.” It wasn't an accusation; it was his normal joking tone, and he was sure they knew that. What they'd done, they'd done for the good of the world. Taking down the Mole Man was important. Cars were replaceable, but friends and sisters with super powers weren't. Still, he felt they owed him a little something.


                Though sitting across the table from the empty chair, Reed extended his leg and kicked the chair back in invitation. Johnny smiled and took a seat.


                A few minutes later, he found himself sitting with a tissue box and a cup of steaming hot chocolate in front of him. Now no one was telling him not to sneeze. In fact, everyone seemed all too eager to be around him while he was sneezing. Luckily, the Human Torch was not easily smothered. “ihhhhShuh! hihShuhhh!


                “Bless you,” said Ben from the other side of the table, sounding as sweet as could be. Johnny eyed him suspiciously.


                Sue brought him a thick blanket and went to wrap it around his shoulders. “Don't,” Johnny said, moving away slightly.


                Sue sighed. “Look, Little Brother, I already said sorry for wrecking your car.”


                He shrugged. “I know. But I'm sick. My molecules… they're probably all imbalanced again.”


                Sue glanced at Reed, who shook his head at the possibility. From a few yards away, Reed reached over, stretching his arm across the room. Reed pressed the back of his hand to Johnny's forehead. “You're not hot,” he said.


                Johnny shrugged. He pulled a tissue that was poking out of the top of the box and he blew his nose loudly. “I'm sure it's just a cold.” Besides, he still felt a bit shivery.


                “No,” Reed said. “I mean, you're not hot. Johnny, you're always hot, even when you're not on fire. You must be running a fever.” Reed walked over, shortening his arm by walking towards his hand instead of pulling his hand back. “I think you'd better take it easy.”


                “Ha!” Johnny blew his nose again. “Tell that to the Skrulls or Dr. Doom or… or…” He pulled another tissue out. “ihhShehh! hihhShuhhh! hihShuhhh!” Johnny rocked back and forth in his chair with each sneeze.


                “Bless you,” Ben said again, with a kind smile. Sue took the opportunity to wrap the blanket around Johnny's shoulders. Then she headed over to the fridge to whip something up for a quick dinner. Reed had somehow retrieved a box of cold tablets from the mirrored cabinet in the bathroom down the hall without Johnny noticing. Johnny swallowed a pill, chasing it with the tasty hot chocolate.


                Before too long, Sue dropped a reheated giant casserole dish of macaroni and cheese and a plate of crescent rolls in the center of the table. Johnny's eyes lit up at the sight. “Did I mention I was cold, sick, and starving? Ihhh-” Another nose rub and another tissue. “ihhhShuhh!


                “Bless you.”


                “Would you cut that out?” He blew his nose and shivered again.


                Ben's massive shoulders rose in a shrug. “Just enjoying watching you suffer, Kid.”


                “Laugh now, Big Guy. We'll see how you feel when you catch this from me. I definitely don't want to think about what your sneezes will be like. All huge and rocky, just like you?”


                “Hey!” Angry, Ben rose from his seat. “It's-”


                Sue quickly cut him off. “It's time for dinner.”  She rubbed her hand over Johnny's head. “Are you sure you feel up to eating with us?”


                Johnny nodded. “Oh yeah.” He reached out with one hand on fire, warming up the dishes. He thought, briefly, of throwing another jab at Ben, but decided anything food-related was just too easy. Besides, he felt another sneeze coming on. “ihhh…” And he was careful to turn from the table, tissues cupped to his face. “hihhShuh! hehSHUH! Sniff! huhChuhh! H'Shuhh!” When he turned back, he found Ben dishing mac & cheese onto all four of the plates Reed had brought over. Ben personally handed the first plate over to Johnny.


                As he sat back, wrapped in the thick, shiny blanket and sipping the hot chocolate, Johnny had to admit he kinda liked being sick. At least, he liked it when it let him be the center of attention like this. He liked everyone gathered around him, watching him. Sure he wasn't on a motorbike, jumping over a tank of sharks, but having a pathetic little head cold that needed attention might just be the next best thing.