Getting Sick



~~Many times in life, a person is defined by his friends~~



            Arthur arrived home to the apartment just after five in the afternoon. He threw his books and coat onto the chair with a sigh, glad the week was over. His eyes rested almost immediately on the couch where his roommate lay. After a glance at the television screen, he gave a laugh. “Don't think I've ever seen you watch daytime TV, Scott.”


            The brown-haired, college-aged man on the couch sniffed and answered quite unenthusiastically, “When I was little, Mom used to let me stay on the couch and watch TV when I got sick. And she used to make me soup and bring me Gatorade, too. After all these years, I guess it still makes me feel a little better.”


            Cocking his head to the side, “You're sick?”


            With a shrug, Scott rubbed a finger under his nose. “I haven't been feeling very well all day; made class practically unbearable. Thought some rest might help nip it in the butt before it got any worse.” He shivered and curled up more, bringing his legs up to his chest. “D'you mind my hanging out here on the couch? Sniff, sniff! If I'm sick?”


            Arthur gave him a soft, sympathetic smile. “Course I don't mind.” He popped into Scott's bedroom and returned with a thick blanket. He threw it over the man, who immediately pulled it close and curled happily with it. “You need anything else, man?”


            He shook his head with a yawn. “Thanks, though.” He paused a moment, as if to retract his statement. “Oh man, think I'm…” his voice died down to a minimum and his hand dove into his pocket, fumbling a bit, then retrieving a balled up tissue. “You may want to… leave…” His breath caught and he raised the tissue to his nose. “Heh… heh… eeehhhshoo!


            “Bless—“ but the man was far from done.


            Uhhhhh-Chooo! Ehhhchooo! Uhhh… UhhhIhhhshhhoo!


            Arthur tried again, “Bless—“


            Scott panted, “Ahhhh… ahhhh… eehhhChooo!” falling forward with force, and a groan of frustration.


            There was silence a moment, while Arthur made sure no more sneezes would arise. “Bless you!”


            Scott rubbed his nose with the back of his hand and coughed a few times, then cleared his throat. “'Scuse me,” he muttered. “Been doing that all day long if you can believe it. Sniff, sniff, sniff. It's getting a little tiresome.” He stuffed the tissue, balled and almost falling apart, back into his pocket with a sigh.


            Arthur disappeared once more, this time into the bathroom, and returned with the box of tissues. “These will help, then. You want the soup and Gatorade while I'm at it?”


            Shaking his head and rubbing his nose through a clean tissue, “Nah, thanks though.”


            “Well, I'll be on the comp in my room. Call if you need me.”  He grabbed his backpack and headed out, stopping to hesitate in the doorway. “Hey Scott, feel better, man.”


            Scott nodded, still rubbing at his nose. It was very rare that he get sick, and when he did, it always turned out to be something major like the flu or strep throat or something. It was never from a silly little head cold. “ehhhChishhh!” Well, almost never. He rolled over so that he was on his back and stretched out over the couch with a second yawn. Perhaps a nap would do him good? He slid his glasses off, placing them on the coffee table in front of him. Glasses were a nuisance, but he only really half needed them for normal activities, and he personally thought he looked the better for them. He had a somewhat longish face, with curved features and high cheekbones. His eyes were dark, like his hair, and the addition of glasses filled him up to a pleasing degree. With yet a third yawn, he pulled the blanket up to his chin, hugged it against his chest, and fell asleep.


*                      *                      *


            Hetch! Hehhchish! Ehhhchoo! Ahhhchishh! Ahhhchoo!


            Arthur peered out of the kitchen nook at the couch.


Scott was panting heavily into a handful of tissues. “ehhhhhh… ehhhhh… ehhTchoo! Hehh… ehhhh… Ahhshoo!” He gave a very wet sniffle and relaxed into the couch cushion and blankets.


            “You ok, man?”


            Scott nodded. “Yeah, just won't be getting back to sleep sniff, sniff, any time soon.” He yawned, stretched, and cleared his throat. “What time is it anyway?”


            With a look at the microwave clock, “Quarter to seven. You hungry?”


            “No.” With a sniffle and a light cough, “Don't you have a date tonight with Andrew?” The two had been dating for a few months now and their friends called them Alcoholics Anonymous. For one, both were rather large health nuts and never drank a drop. And two, the first letter of their first names were both A's, making them AA. It was a stretch, but a rather humorous one for those who got it.


            Arthur's pleasant demeanor was over taken by an almost giddy grin. “He's picking me up at seven. We'll probably be getting back here late…” he led off insinuating the consequences. Arthur's dating was nothing new to either of them, but for some reason Arthur still felt it necessary to be open on subjects that might otherwise cause some stress to his roommate.


            Like always, Scott answered, “S'okay with me.” Then he rubbed at his nose, unlike always. “But thanks for ask… ahhh… ask…ing… ehhhHichoo! Ehhchhhshoo! Ahhchish!” There was one more, and Scott could tell, pulling another two Kleenexes out. “Heh… ehhh… eeehhh… ehhCHOO!” He sniffled and gave his nose a light blow. “'Scuse me.”


            The phone immediately gave a ring.


            Scott groaned, coughed, and threw his blanket over his head. “If it's for me,” came the muffled voice from beneath, “I'm sick and can't talk!”


            “Ok,” Arthur quickly picked up on the third ring. “Hello?” He gave a soft laugh. “He can't come to the phone right now, he's feeling a bit under the weather. Can he call you back?” Another pause. “Sure… I'll give him the message. Bye.” He put down the phone. “That was Laura. She wanted to do dinner with you but said no problem and to call her when you feel better.”


            Nodding, with a sigh, “Woulda been a first in our history.”


            Arthur gave him a look of confusion. “Say what?”


            “We've been living together two years sniff, sniff, and have we ever both been out on dates the same Friday night? Sniff, sniff! Sniiiffff! Dabbit!” He plucked two tissues out of the box and gave his nose a somewhat more hefty blow.


            Arthur thought a moment. “By Gods, I think you're right! Well, why break the streak?” He laughed and came out of the kitchen, placing a tall glass of orange juice on the table by way of a coaster. “So, how do I look?” He spun around. He was dressed in a dark black suit which fit perfectly and showed off his figure. He wore a light blue shirt and a dark blue tie, wore his brown hair down at his shoulders, and wore a silver stud earring in his left ear.


            Scott gave him a golf clap. “Very dashing. You'll knock him dead. Er, maybe shoes will help…” With another bunch of tissues in hand, “Ehhhhh… uhhHishoo! EhhhHishh! uhhhChishh! uhh…eeehhhh…” the tickled died off, though his nose still tickled. He wiggled his nose, hoping the last sneeze would just come out. But finally sighed and blew his nose.


            “Bless you.” Arthur bent down by the couch and picked up a pair of dress shoes. “Got them, too.” He took a seat on the opposite end of the couch. When he was through lacing up, he leaned over and felt Scott's forehead gently with the back of his palm. “You're warm, but not fever-warm. You sure you'll be all right tonight?”


            Scott shrugged. “I guess so.”


            “Well,” Arthur held his hand up and, starting with his thumb, “One, I've made some veggie soup for you. It's in the blue Tupperware container in the fridge. Pop it in the micro for one and a half minutes on high. Go ahead and eat right out of the container. Two, there's a mug of water by the microwave. Just heat that for a minute and add a tea bag. All the flavored tea, honey, and sugar is sitting right there by the micro. Three, there's some aspirin and cough drops in the bathroom medicine cabinet. I put a post it on the mirror and a pen on the counter, just keep track of when you take it so you don't double up. Four, I've left the machine on to catch phone calls, but I'm leaving the cordless on the table here just in case. And you know my pager number, so page me if there's an emergency and I'll come right home. Five… um… don't have a five. You got everything?”


            Scott nodded incredulously.


            “Hey now, I gotta take care of my boy, don't I?” Arthur was the eldest in a family of seven and two working parents. He was well used to taking care of his brothers and sisters, and many times made Scott feel just that close to him as well. Having never been sick around the man before, Scott had been unsure as to how he would react, but realized now the sort of caring soul Arthur could be through everything.


Arthur patted his leg through the blanket. “Now, you just take care of yourself and rest. There's more orange juice in the fridge, too. Keep that Vitamin C going, k?”


            Scott nodded again. “Thanks, man.” He reached over and took the glass, drinking slowly, but relishing in how good the juice was.


            There was a buzzer and Arthur jumped up to the intercom as the flamboyantly gay voice came through, “Knock, knock, Lover Boy.”


            Arthur buzzed back. “Be right down, Andy.” He collected his black trench coat and turned back to Scott. “Soup, tea, juice, medicine, pager number… you sure you'll be all right?”


            Scott laughed, rubbing at his nose. “Yes! A million times yes, and thank you. Now go, get the hell out of here and enjoy yourself!”


            Arthur saluted with a laugh. “Feel better, man!” And with that he slipped out the door and locked it behind respectfully.


            Scott gave another laugh and pulled the blanket more tightly around him. He picked up the remote and began flipping through the channels.


*                      *                      *


            “You're such a cutie!” came the lisped voice.


            “Shhhh!” Arthur hushed him, closing the door behind and locking it as quietly as one possibly could with two deadbolts and a chain lock. Then he giggled, too, grabbing the man in a tight embrace and laying his thick lips on top of the other's.


            Another laugh. “Well, that certainly shuts me up!”


            In the blackness, no one could see where their hands were, but the two men could certainly feel them. They kissed again, even more passionately, and made their way away from the door step by step. One of them bumped against the couch, perhaps sat, and that was all it took. There were surprised yells, quite a bit of stumbling, and the sound of glass breaking.


            Arthur was the one to turn the lights on, and all parties averted their eyes for a few moments, though only one sneezed.


            ehhHishhh! uhhKiiihhhch!” he sneezed weakly, groggily looking up, sniffling.


            Andrew jumped back, his hand on his heart. “Oh my god! Scott, I am so sorry!”


            Scott coughed to clear his throat, then grabbed his glasses off the table, putting them on to look at the visitor. “It's ok,” he said in a congested voice. “It just kinda scares me to wake up and find someone sitting on me.” He looked down at the floor to see a smashed glass; good thing it had been empty. He sighed and sat up. “I'll clean up and go into my room if you want the couch…”


            Arthur shook his head and put a hand on Scott's head, and another on Andrew's. “This is the way it will be. I'm sorry, Scott. I had no idea you'd still be on the couch. No, you won't move an inch. I'll get the glass and clean up. Andrew, you go hang out in my room and I'll be there in just a few minutes. OK?”


            They nodded, with his hands forcing them to do so. Andrew split to the bedroom, with a kiss to Arthur for good measure. Scott still persisted to attempt a cleanup, but Arthur pushed him back.


            “I'll get it, Scott. You just rest.”




            “Hey! It's my fault. I hit the glass going for the lamp, and I forgot you were on the couch. I should have warned Andy. Guess I got a little preoccupied.” He finished gathering the pieces and tossed them into a brown bag, then the garbage. Then he gathered the dishes that lay scattered on the coffee table and dumped them into the sink. He also gathered a few handfuls of tissues and threw them into the trash. Then, Arthur sat down on the end of the couch. “So how are you feeling, before we ruined your night?”


            Scott chuckled, “It's okay, really. Just startled me, is all.” He rubbed his nose. “Just got to sleep an hour ago, anyway. Was doing too much sneezing and coughing to sleep much. Hey, I'm not going to sniff, sniff, keep you and Andrew up am I?”


            Arthur reached over and ruffled his hair. “Course not. You can't help it, anyway. It's your apartment, too, and you can crash wherever you need to in order to feel better. So… can I get you anything else?”


            Shaking his head. “Nah, I'll be sniff, sniff, all right.” He pulled another few tissues out and held them up. “Despite the… the snee… sneh… ehhIhhshoo! ehhChishoo! uhhhShoo! uhhh… ehhhh… uhhHishoo!” He blew his nose, placed his glasses back on the table, and closed his eyes.


            “Bless you. G'night, Scott. Just yell if we're making too much noise.”


            “Thanks… Night.”


*                      *                      *



            Scott awoke later the next day to kitchen sounds. Clinks of pots hitting the metal stove, the squeak of an opening refrigerator, the clanks of silverware against plates and bowls, the whirr of the microwave, and the rattling chug of the coffee machine. He lifted his head and looked in to see Arthur at the stove with a spatula and Andy behind him, going through the fridge. Andrew, in usual style, was wearing Arthur's apron. And only Arthur's apron. He smiled and lay back on the couch. He knew as soon as he was up, Arthur would feel compelled to wait on him, and he wanted them to have as much time to themselves as possible after what happened last night.


            Unfortunately, his cold had other ideas. “ehhhh… ehhhhHmphh! EhhhKumphh!” he sneezed into his blanket, muffling the sound as best he could. But moments later, he still found Arthur hovering over him.


            “Good morning. Sleep well?”


            Scott nodded. “I didn't mean to sniff, sniff. Disturb you.”


            “You didn't. How're you feeling?”


            Scott shrugged. “Pretty sick. Achey and stuffy.”


            “You know what's good for that? A nice, long, hot shower. Let the bathroom steam up let the warm water help your muscles.”


            He was on his way towards agreeing, but the nods turned into more violent ones. “ehhh…ehhKishh! HuhfTushhoo! EhhhKishh!


            “But first… you want some breakfast? We've got coffee and scrambled eggs… started out as an omelets but didn't make it.”


            Scott shook his head, “I'll take another glass of juice, though.”


            Arthur sprang to it. “Order taken!” He returned with a glass of orange juice in record time. “Anything else? Milkshake?”


            “Nah, I'm all right. Thanks, though.”


            “Sure, just yell, man.”



            A few minutes later, they all sat around the television eating breakfast and watching a rerun of Xena: warrior princess.


            Arthur sat in the large armchair, plate in one hand. Andrew sat on his lap, eating from his own plate, and once in a while, feeding Arthur at the same time. “So… sorry again about last night, Scott,” Andrew said between bites.


            Scott nodded. “It's ok.”


            A pause. “So you're sick?”


            With a laugh, “Yeah, man. What tipped you sniff, sniff, off?”


            “Poor baby.” No one could phrase it quite like Andrew. He was a skinny guy, but with gym aspirations to become what many in his circles could call a 'hunky, chunky muscle man'. He had bright blond hair up in spikes, deep blue eyes, and very sharp, chiseled features. It was easy to see what Arthur saw in him on the physical level. But he had much more on others. Like many of his persuasion, he was deeply concerned in particular issues. He worked five days a week at an AIDS clinic, and he was working towards a degree in political science, and doing a rather good job at it, as well.


            Scott blushed. “It's just a cold. I'll be ok.”


            Andrew nodded. “That's good to hear.”


            Nodding, “Yeah.” He rubbed two fingers beneath his nose in a desperate effort to stop the tickles. Barring this, he pulled the last two tissues out of the box and held them over the lower part of his countenance. He panted a moment, then fell forward with three rather wet sneezes. “ehhhKishh! uuhhhhHishoo! EhhhKicchh!


            “Bless you!”


            “Bless you!” came the chorus.


            He blew his nose sufficiently, though as wet as the sneezes were, he was too stuffy to get too far. Andrew put down the glass of juice and got up. “I think I'll go take that shower now.”



*                      *                      *


            Scott drifted in and out of sleep after that. It was nice to be able to sleep so much that normally would not have been possible. He would be enjoying his little forced vacation quite a bit… if not for the sneezes and sniffles and coughs. “Arthur?” he coughed, cleared his throat and croaked out again, “Arthur?”


            His roommate strolled into the room with a cup of tea. “Here you go, sorry to take so long.”


            Scott sniffled, rubbing his wrist beneath his nose as he sat up. “Thags…” he'd grown much more congested, his speech weighted by the heavy cold. He took a long gulp of steam from the cup with a sigh and another cough. “Gods, I feel biserable.”


            Arthur sat down on the couch beside him, pulling the blankets up to wrap around his shoulders. Then he ruffled Scott's hair affectionately. “You look miserable, man.”


            eeehhh…ehhhPhishh! EehhpKushh!” he was almost too tired to cover his sneezes by now; instead of reaching for the tissues, he was resolved to turning his head and directing each blow into his shoulder. He'd wipe his nose on his shoulder, then reach for the tissues. Now that the blanket was there, he went straight for the tissues. “huhhCHISHHoo!


            “Bless you.”




            “Bless you again.”


            Sniff, sniff! Thags.” With a half groan, half sigh, he leaned back. “Stubid code! Ehhh-Heh-CHHIishhhh!


            “Bless you. Hey, are you sure you don't want to try some cold medicine? I could just run down to the corner drug store and pick some up. Anything you want…”


            He shook his head. “I hate bedicide.” He blew his nose strongly.


            “Well, if you think of anything, page me all right?”


            Scott looked over at the clock on the VCR.


            “I gotta go to work, remember?”


            Suddenly a strong pain clenched in Scott's stomach. “Dabbit! I should have called work about toborrow! I cad't bossibly work if—“ he started to get up in a mad dash to the phone.


            “Relax, man! Calm down. Already done- I called you in sick as soon as I woke up this morning. I thought you might forget the 24-hour rule.” Arthur worked at a fitness club where, incidentally, he had met Andrew. He worked on the computers, doing database and account retrievals. Not much fun, but it brought in the extra cash and let him have free membership to the club. Scott on the other hand, worked with computers. He was a tech support guy on Sunday's and worked on hardware repairs and installations the rest of the week. It was a nice supplement to his classes at university. Tech support, while it sounds lovely, turned out to be one of the worst jobs ever. His boss was a stickler for numbers and perfection, and required at least 24-hour notice for vacation or sick leave. “So just relax. You're ok.”


            Coughing, Scott took his place back on the couch. “Thags.”


            “No problem. Now, you just lie back and relax,” he pulled the blanket up and over Scott's chest to tuck him in, “and call me if you need me. You need anything before I head out?”


            “I'b ok. Thags, Arthur.”


            “No sweat, man. Catch you later!” He grabbed his shoes and coat and was gone.


*                      *                      *


He glanced up at the clock. Three-thirty. It would be another few hours before Arthur came home. “ehhhhCHISHH! ehhhKISHH! uuhh… uhhhCHEOO!” And it was certain he could not hold out that long. “uh-HUHchoo! HuhSHISHH!” Certainly not. As much as it pained him to admit it, he needed medicine quite badly.


He stood up slowly and made toward the bathroom. The mirror did not hold the most inviting reflection he had ever seen. His hair was a mess, his eyes tired and puffy, his face rather pale, and his nose a bit red at the edges, his lower face covered in stubble. He was dressed in mismatching sweats, but didn't feel up to changing, or shaving, or brushing his hair for that matter. He gave his face a splash of water, then hurried over to the closet. A hat would easily cover his hair, and his coat would cover his sweatshirt. Otherwise, he just looked like a geek wearing sweatpants who hadn't shaved over the weekend. No biggie. This was a college town; he would more than pass for normal. “ehhhKishh! uhhhPHISH! HUPTUSHH! Sniff, sniff, sniff.” Aside from the sneezing. He stuffed a supply of tissues into his pocket and pulled on his sneakers. With a switch of the light and a lock of the door, he was on his way out to face a cold, Saturday afternoon.


            The corner drug store was literally on the block's corner. It had at one time been a small, family-run store with amazingly low prices, delightful staff, and excellent service. But the times had changed and forced Mom and Pop out of business. It had become a People Drug store, which then changed to a CVS, which was then bought and sold and became a Rite Aid. The store was disorganized, the isles thin and the shelves either bare or overflowing but at no time in-between the two. Scott ducked in and headed straight for the back wall where the medicine was kept.


            The variety was enormous, almost overwhelming. His eyes grazed over a number of choices, and his nose itched and tickled mockingly. As he selected one to read the back, he sniffed lightly, attempting to talk his nose into being good before he could get into a less public place in which to administer a few blows. He selected a second, then a third, and finally, just chose one.


While there, he decided, he should pick up a few other items. He made his way over to the drinks, pulling out of the cooler cases two bottles of Gatorade and one carton of orange-pineapple juice. Unable to carry much more without a basket, he made his way across the whole store to the registers, attempting to look as healthy and inconspicuous as was humanly possible.




            He groaned inwardly and turned to see Laura's face attempting a smile through shock. With a cough, he cleared his throat and sniffed once to allow his speech as much clarity as possible. “Hey. Ub, sorry I did't call back, but…” They were new to their relationship, and not even half as close as Arthur and Andrew seemed to be. They were still playing the 'get to know you' game, and taking steps to respect the other as much as possible. Scott wouldn't go as far as to label her a girlfriend, and knew as well he was not her boyfriend, but deep down, he knew the time for that would be soon. Still, he felt terrible for not having called back.


            She immediately took the juices from him, putting them into her nearly empty basket. Then she laid a soft kiss on his cheek. “Your roommate said you were sick. You look just terrible. What's wrong?”


            He cleared his throat. “Cabe dowd wid a code. Sniff, sniff. Dat's all.” With his free hand, he rubbed at his nose. It was tickling again and there was no way he would sneeze in front of her. “I'll be ok.”


            “Well,” Laura said, taking his arm in hers, “I'll see you back to your place and make sure you are ok. You need anything else?”


            He shook his head and fumbled in his pocket for money. He was wearing sweat pants, he told himself again, but this time it came with an underlying problem- he wasn't wearing his jeans, which meant he wasn't carrying his wallet. He could locate three dollars in his jacket pocket, but that was hardly enough. “uh, Laura… I forgot by wallet… add…”


            “Oh silly,” she kissed his cheek again. “I was going to pay for you anyway. You don't even need to ask.” The approached the register and unloaded the items. She gently pried the box out of his hands; he didn't even remember he was carrying it.


“Well, it's a good thing we ran into each other, isn't it?” she said as she refused the three bucks Scott was trying to push at her.


            Scott nodded, a bit tired of having people looking after him, but rather glad that he had such people who cared enough to. “Thags, Laura.” The cold wind stung his nose, tickling and itching. He rubbed at his nose desperately, but to no avail. His walking slowed to a foot or two behind hers, and he dug two tissues out of his pocket. He sniffled and gave a weak gasp. “eehhhh…huhUHSHH! ehhhUhhhshh! uhhhChishhoo!” He had stopped walking at the first sneeze, out of instinct that walking while sneezing could result in an accident.  Hutchh! Huhtchoo! UhhChishh! ehhChishh!


            She noticed, and heard, and turned to wait for him to finish.


            eh-hetchh! UhhhCHESH! uhh… uhhChoo! ahhChishh!


            When she was sure he had finished, she walked back to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Bless you, Scotty.”


            He sniffed, smiling. He normally hated being called that name, but he never seemed to mind it when it came from her. “Thags. Sniff, sniff!


            Laura spoke softly, kindly. “Come on, let's get you home.”


            The walk to the building was shorter than the ride up the elevator to the apartment, and the two managed a little bit of weather-related small talk on the way. Scott also managed to apologize a total of eight times for not being able to go out, or for not calling her back. And each time, she shook her head and stressed that it was nothing to be sorry for, that she understood, and that she was only sorry he wasn't feeling well. Scott also managed only twelve more sneezes before settling back onto the couch with his familiar, warm blanket and his full box of tissues. He'd been hesitant at first to take off his coat and hat, but somehow he had a feeling that Laura would understand. And when he did, she ran her fingers through her hair and smiled, walking him over to the couch with a hand on his back.


            Laura put the drinks into the fridge, and brought him a glass of water as well.


He popped a pill from the package and swallowed it with only a brief wince as his throat stung a little. Scott coughed and shivered, pulling the blanket up to his neck and trying to think warm thoughts.


            “Thag you agaid for savig by butt back there id the store. I guess I wasd't thigig so clearly…”


            She nodded, taking a seat in the chair to give him enough room. “Not a problem at all.”


            “I'll take you out to a dice didder whed I'b feeling better, to bake up for it.”


            She giggled, wondering how on earth she understood him when he sounded so completely stuffed up. “I'd like that.”


            He yawned widely and blushed. “I'b sniff, sniff, sorry.”


            “That's all right. Just the cold medication kicking in. You'll feel better soon.”


            Yawning again, he nodded.


            “I'll show myself out. You'll be all right?”


            He nodded. “Yeah. Thags, Laura.” Another yawn crept up on him, and he closed his eyes, feeling his head spin with sleepy thoughts.


            Rising, she bent over him to ease his glasses off his face. After laying them gently on the coffee table, she kissed his forehead, whispering the words, “Sweet dreams, Scotty.”


*                      *                      *


            “Hey, look who's up,” came Arthur's soft voice as Scott drifted back from the dreamscape. “Slept right through dinner. That cold medication can really knock you out at times, huh?”


            Scott blinked, then reached out for his glasses. He had no memory of taking them off, but found them right where he would have left them. With a sniffle, he tested his nose. Stuffy still, but running more than before. At least it was helping to get things moving. He cleared his voice, finding his throat hurt a little less, too. “Yeah. Sorry you had to eat alode.” He grabbed a tissue and held it to his nose. He felt the need to blow, but his nose felt entirely too sore for that at present.


            “What time did you take the pill?”


            Scott thought back, desperately trying to remember a time. “Aroud… ehh…hehCHAH! Huhshhoo! Sniff, sniff, sniff!” He blew his nose gingerly. “Aroud four, I thig.”


            Arthur smirked. “Shoulda written it down. But no worries” He looked at his watch. “According to the back of the box here, it's an eight hour one, so if you're still up at midnight you can take some more then. And that should knock you out until morning with any luck. No more rough nights like last.” He paused and smiled. “So how're you feeling?”


            He shrugged. “A little better.”


            Nodding, he reached over rubbed Scott on the head, ruffling his already messed up hair. “I think the worst is over. Hey, you up for a movie? I rented a few on my way home. And I can heat up some more soup and grill a sandwich for you if you like.”


            A smile spread over Scott's face, as he lowered the tissue with a strong sniff. “Thags. That souds jusd woderful. I dod't bead to be such a bother…”


            Arthur smiled back as he got up. “You're not a bother, Scott. You're a friend.”