Coughing. Sneezing. Blocked nose. Tissues. More coughing. More sneezing. Medication. More tissues. Soup.
Owen was really having a party.
He couldn’t remember the last time he had taken a breath through his nostrils. All he knew now was the stuffy, Sahara Desert of a nose he couldn’t seem to get rid of (but yet he still found himself having to blow it every five minutes). His throat was dry. Prickly, like a cactus. A constant tickle at the back of his mouth that begged for him to cough it away, a hoarse chorus accompanying him every time he did so. His head felt thick, his chest was tight, and for goodness sake, he was sick of the sight of tissues.
He’d become close friends with Curt’s bed- you don’t really have a choice when you’re forced with someone for twenty four hours a day. The only positive was that the sheets still smelled vaguely like Curt- an almost musky scent, sweet vanilla yet slightly woody cologne mingled with the freshness of the cheap detergent he used. Or, as Owen would describe it: homely.
He would admit, however, that the view he had was much less interesting. From Curt’s bed, he could see exactly four things; the wardrobe, the dresser, the window, and a small plant pot. Six, if you counted the clock and photo frame hanging on the wall.
(The photo was of the two of them. Barb had taken it last year as a test run for her, at the time, greatest invention- the ‘Barbera’. Barb camera. She had to explain it, too.)
There were only so many times Owen could count the amount of leaves on Curt’s very-close-to-death plant or play connect-the-dots with the specks of dirt on his ceiling.
He was bored.
Sick, and bored.
The two things he hated most in life.
Well, those, plus peas.
He can’t stand peas.
Ghastly things, they are.
“Owen?” A voice travelled down the hallway, cutting off Owen’s internal monologue about how much he disliked those little green bastards. “You up?”
Owen took a big sniff before croaking out a response, head flopping back on the pillow as a pathetic “yes” escaped him, a harsh cough travelling up his throat as soon as he had finished. He heard the sound of sock covered feet padding down the hall, quickly getting louder before the door creaked open just slightly, Curt’s head peeking round as if to make sure Owen was decent.
His face quickly melted into a smile, eyes crinkling as he pushed the door open with his hips, hands seemingly full with goods. Curt walked over to Owen as he gave him a once over- no disgust showed on his face, so Owen took that to mean that he didn’t look like an ogre. Yet.
Curt set a tray down at the foot of the bed, a glass of orange juice and a bowl of steaming soup waiting for him- and, would you believe it, the most cliche tiny vase with a singular cut flower sitting in the corner.
Curt was a sappy man.
He bent over Owen and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead, careful not to jostle him too much, then sat near his legs on the bed. He nudged Owen just slightly with his elbow to get him to move up a little then got himself comfortable on top of the duvet, adoring smile still sitting on his lips.
Owen gave Curt a soft look, sighing and closing his eyes as he enjoyed the company of another person in the room with him. He felt warm hands gently touch his forehead, checking his temperature, then fingers were running through his hair softly.
The light scratch on his scalp felt wonderful. Like a soothing lullaby without the need for a melody. Little strands of his now reasonably long hair were being brushed from his face and carefully placed behind his ears.
Curt cleared his throat, and Owen raised an eyebrow at him to let him know he had heard him.
“Do you want me to tie your hair back, baby?”
Owen thought it over for a moment before cracking his eyes open again and nodding. He pushed himself up, hands placed on the bed behind him as he used all his strength to sit against the headboard. “Please.” He rasped out, another coughing fit exploding through him.
Curt handed him the glass of orange juice to soothe his raw throat before standing up, moving to lean over Owen. He took the hair tie that was already waiting on his wrist and used gentle fingers to bunch Owen’s locks together at the back of his head. Carefully tying it, he put it into a neat little bun so that it wouldn’t tickle the nape of his neck and sat back down again once he was done.
Resting one of his legs up on the bed, Curt turned himself just slightly so that he could reach the tray that was just behind him. He very carefully brought it in front of Owen, not spilling a single drop of soup, and placed it on his own lap so Owen wouldn’t shake it about if he coughed too hard.
“You up for some food, honey? I know you didn’t have any breakfast while I was gone.”
“How do you..?”
“Everything in the kitchen is in the exact same position I left them in, baby,” he laughed, nudging Owen just lightly with his foot. “You gotta eat. Just a little bit, even if you’re not hungry. It’ll make you feel better.”
“You’ve said that-“ He paused, the feeling of a sneeze rising in his nose. A shy sneeze, apparently. “-every day for the past week, love. I feel worse, if anything.”
“Yeah, you do sound.. not great.” Curt joked, an almost grimace appearing on his face. “Your voice is very, uhh..”
“Nasally.” He finished for him.
“Yep. Nasally.” He was grinning, eyes sparkling with that cheek of his. “You sound ridiculous, baby.”
“Love you too, Curt.”
“And don’t I know it. Come on, eat up.” He handed a spoonful of soup to Owen, waiting for him to take it before carrying on. “It’s chicken. And probably, like, carrots or something. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know what’s in it. I just bought it at the store on my way home- I can’t make soup.”
“I’m all too aware,” Owen blew on the spoon carefully, slouching against the headboard. “The last time you tried I think you poisoned me. If I remember correctly it was very.. sludgy.”
“Debatable.” Owen took a small sip of the soup, letting out a small noise of pain when it was too hot on his lips. “Tasteless sludge, more like.”
Curt rolled his eyes playfully, leaning back and crossing his arms. “I’m not a chef.”
“I know.” Owen relaxed into the headboard, passing the spoon back to Curt. Curt took it off him and scooped another spoonful of soup onto it, carefully giving it back to Owen. They repeated this cycle several times until the bowl was half empty. Curt placed the tray onto Owen’s lap once he’d deemed it safe for it to be there, the risk of scalding soup spilling onto Owen mitigated.
Owen carried on eating, pausing often to clear his throat or let out a harsh sounding cough, sniffing his way through his breathing. Curt silently watched him, not wanting to interrupt but wanting to make sure he finished the bowlful.
“I- mm.” Owen’s eyes clenched shut, the hand that was holding the spoon falling to his lap.
“Head. Throbbing. It’s-” Another coughing fit wracked through him, eyebrows furrowed into a grimace. He let out a sound of defeat, dropping the utensil into the mostly empty bowl. “Hurts. Everything hurts. I hate being sick.”
“I know you do, baby.” Curt sighed. He took the tray off Owen and set it down on the floor, practically crawling over Owen to prop himself up next to him. “I’m sorry. You’re gonna get better soon, though. You taken your medication today?”
Owen grunted out a confirming noise, flopping against Curt’s shoulder and reaching a hand out to the tissue box next to the bed. He grabbed what was probably too many tissues and dropped them in his lap, using one to wipe his eyes and one to blow his nose.
“What d’you want, huh?” Curt prompted him gently, slinging an arm around Owen’s waist and pulling him closer. Owen practically molded himself into Curt, slouching down just a little to avoid the height differences. “Something that’ll distract you.”
“I don’t know..” Owen whined, sounding like the sick 12 year old he actually felt like. “I want this to be over with. I feel pathetic.”
“I am. You don’t have to lie to save my ego.” Owen chanced a laugh, surprisingly pleased when it didn’t cause him to hack his lungs up.
“Ha. Fine,” Curt ruffled his hair, placing a kiss on the top of his head. “You do sound pathetic. But, if it makes you feel any better, I’d sound worse.”
“I can imagine,” Owen nuzzled into Curt, making a cosy sounding hum when he found the perfect position. “You get one tiny scratch and suddenly it’s like you’ve lost your bloody leg.”
“Well, someone has to be dramatic!”
Owen let out a breathy chuckle that turned into a wheezing cough. Curt just frowned, rubbing his hand soothingly on Owen’s arm until he was breathing okay again.
“As much as I can be.”
“‘Kay.. Here, have some more juice, baby.”
“Mm. Thank you.”
And then they sat in silence.
Owen’s breathing eased, sounding less like it was a hassle and falling into a more soothing rhythm. His chest rose up and down gently, and Curt could see that his limbs were going limp.
“You tired, sweetheart?”
“Mm. Couldn’t sleep. Haven’t slept..” He thought it over for a second. “In a while.”
“Come on. Lie down. We’re sleeping right now.”
“Love, it’s the middle of the afterno-”
“Ahh, you hear that? Oh, look, I’m-” Curt let out the most fake sounding yawn, arms stretching above his head so high that his shirt rode up. “Man, look at that. I’m super sleepy all of a sudden. If only there were a way to solve my problem.”
“..You’re such an idiot.”
“I know.” Curt pushed himself off the bed and went to close the curtains, turning around again and motioning for Owen to lay down. “I want that head of yours on that pillow right now.”
Owen moved down the bed in the way a child would when he was told to put his favourite toy back in the box; complying, but not happy about it.
It was the same every night. Owen would lay down under the duvet with the promise of a good night’s sleep lingering in front of him, like a steak dangling on a stick, and then it would all get snatched away the second he started coughing again. Sleeping wasn’t a past time he’d engaged in over the past week or so- mostly just lying there and feeling sorry for himself.
What made it worse was that Curt had been working nights. Something about Cynthia forcing him to cover someone else’s graveyard shift in the offices- she’d described it as a ‘refreshing break from the field’, but the both of them knew it was definitely because there was a lack of agents that were tripping over their feet to fill out paperwork at three in the morning. Even if Owen couldn’t sleep, just dozing with Curt made him feel better- not being able to do that had made his recovery much slower.
(There’s probably several theses on the psychology of that.)
As if by magic, Owen suddenly found himself being held by Curt.
How did that happen?
It was cosy.
He felt the movement before he heard Curt giggle behind him, his warm breath fanning over the back of neck. “You good, baby? It feels like you just melted.”
“Mm.” Owen let himself mold into the shape of Curt, taking in the feeling of his strong arms wrapped around him. “‘S ‘cause I just did.”
That’s how Owen felt.
No matter what Owen was going through, if Curt was there alongside him, he felt like he could do anything. That man was like his power source. The air he breathed. The blood in his veins. He was imperative. So important to Owen that it was almost laughable.
He loved him. A lot.
Being surrounded by him, staying in his apartment, sleeping in his bed- it was almost a sensory overload. The two of them rarely got to spend long period like this together. Granted, it’s much less fun when half of your party feels half dead, but they’ve learnt to cherish any moments they could get.
After what felt like months and months of over-the-phone conversations that only left them longing to be held and kissed like there was no tomorrow, any contact was taken as a blessing. Clutching onto letters that were signed at the bottom with a name, a heart, and three kisses often kept him going. That was Owen’s doing- he’d introduced Curt to the concept of leaving a small row of X’s at the end of a message and the American had been doing it ever since. The first time Owen had received them he almost cried of happiness.
Long distance relationships were difficult. They’d be the first to admit that.
But it was all worth it for moments like this.
Moments that made the entire world feel like heaven. Moments that made time stand still. Moments that made him forget what pain he was feeling in the first place. Moments that made him feel like he would never feel pain again.
It was calm. Curt’s soft breathing was coming from behind him at a steady rhythm, the rise and fall of his chest moving against Owen’s back. Feather light kisses were being left on the back of his neck and anywhere else Curt could reach, one of his hands trailing patterns on Owen’s hip, the other resting carefully on his stomach. #
Curt was sure to not cover Owen’s chest, not wanting to set him off. He felt Curt’s lips at his ear and angled his head just enough so that he could receive a kiss on the cheek.
“Close your eyes, doll.” Curt’s voice was low, almost grumbling through his body. “Just try to sleep. If you can’t, that’s okay. Just breath.”
“Will you-” Owen wheezed out a cough again, whimpering just slightly before he carried on. “Stay with me?”
“I’m here all night, baby.” Curt held him closer, resting his head in the crook of Owen’s neck, just how he knew he liked it. “Rest up. I love you.”
And Owen didn’t have to reply.
He let the actions do the talking.
And everything felt okay.