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In Sickness and in Health

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           [ Text Message ]  Kenny ⇒ Kyle
                 » dude im like really fucking sick
                 » been hacking out my lungs since last night
                 » can u bring some chicken soup after school
                 » ill owe u ok

Kyle stared at his text history as he walked the familiar road, a small grocery bag dangling from his wrist. Kenny was never one to ask for favours -- witness all the times he had water instead of food whenever they went out. For him to actually text him and ask him to bring him something showed that he was completely desperate... and he wasn't about to let him suffer longer than he needed to.

He didn't have much left from his allowance, but it was enough to buy the essentials: a hot, ready-made chicken noodle soup with more sodium than what should legally be allowed, as well as a couple of bottles of Gatorade to replenish his electrolytes. A chocolate bar rounded out the care package, and he hoped it was enough to make him feel somewhat better.

Though he was heading in the direction of his house, that wasn't his ultimate destination; he passed his home, making his way across the train tracks that separated their two neighbourhoods. He might as well have stepped into another dimension, such was the contrast between the two -- broken bottles littered the street, as well as discarded needles and used condoms. It wasn't the nicest neighbourhood in South Park, but it's what Kenny called home.

Kyle finally arrived at Kenny's house, and after listening for a moment, he pressed the doorbell before remembering it was broken, instead rapping his knuckles sharply on the flimsy wooden door. There was a distinct groan from within that sounded akin to a dying whale, and Kyle took that as a sign to let himself in.

The inside of the house was as much of a wreck as he recalled: empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon were decoration here, not litter, and the lingering smell of marijuana permeated the decrepit dwelling. Kyle ignored everything as best he could as he made his way to Kenny's room, gently knocking before cracking open the door.

To say that Kenny looked like death warmed over was an understatement: he was still clad in his distinctive orange parka, though it was unzipped more than usual. From what little he could see of him, he looked as white as a sheet, and his hair was plastered to his face from all his sweating. A soft moan escaped from the depths of his parka as he rolled over to face Kyle, and his gaze was dull as he reached pathetically for the bag he was holding.

“... nngh… can’t… reach…” Kenny’s efforts were stymied by a deep cough that shook his body like a tremor, and Kyle winced as the hacking went on for a good minute. Once it was over, Kenny rolled over onto his face with a small whine, forcing Kyle to drop the bag and push his friend back onto his side so that he wouldn’t suffocate.

“Dude, you’re covered in sweat…” Kyle muttered as he wiped his hand off his cargo pants. “You need to take the parka off…”

“‘s s’okay…” Kenny whimpered from under his parka. “‘s fine…”

“It’s not fine!” Kyle reached over, and after letting Kenny flinch back from his sudden touch, he laid his palm over his forehead. “You have a fever… if you keep that thing on, you’ll just make it worse.”

Before Kenny could protest, Kyle rolled Kenny over and unzipped the parka, shaking the skinny blond out from it as if he were a ragdoll. Thankfully, he had been wearing a dirty white t-shirt underneath, but Kenny immediately reached for his blanket, wrapping his head and face with it before curling up into a sad-looking little ball.

“Mmf…”

“Don’t be like that…” Kyle said with a small smile as he set the parka aside -- he’d wash it at his place later. “Look, I’ve got that chicken soup you asked for… don’t you want any?”

After emptying the white plastic bag of the goods they contained, Kyle sat himself down on the dirty carpet, gingerly cracking open the plastic deli container so he wouldn’t make even more of a mess.

“Here… say ‘ahhh~’...” Kyle took the plastic spoon that came with the meal and dipped it in, retrieving a good mix of chicken and noodles. Kenny groaned at Kyle’s cheesiness, and he retreated further under the blanket in protest. Kyle kept the spoon aloft, watching Kenny as he fidgeted under the blanket, looking at the spoon with a combination of hunger and disgust.

A loud gurgle sounded from under Kenny’s blanket, and the blond winced as his stomach decided matters for him. He caved with a small, irritated sigh and obediently opened his mouth, and Kyle smiled as he directed the spoonful to his mouth.

“It’s cold…” he grumbled between chews, his expression sour as he finally swallowed.

“That’s because you stalled eating the first bite. Here…”

With the initial resistance gone, Kyle continued spoonfeeding Kenny. The blond ate in silence for a while, his meal occasionally interrupted by wet sneezes or coughs. He looked like he was savouring every single bite, until he finally shook his head and held up his hand in front of his mouth. 

“I’m full… gonna keep the rest for later…”

Kyle nodded and closed the container, leaving the soup and the spoon on his bedside table. While he’d normally blame the fever for his lack of appetite, he suspected that he was saving it for another meal that wouldn’t consist of frozen waffles or pop tarts.

The redhead reached for one of the bottles of Gatorade, then, and he fought with the plastic wrapper around the cap for a while before finally peeling it off at the expense of his fingernails. He popped it open, and he held it out towards Kenny…

… only to find him fast asleep.

“... oh.” Kyle smiled as he lowered his hand, placing the bottle next to the soup.  He almost looked peaceful like that, and he wanted nothing more than to climb into bed with him and cuddle.

No… he needed the rest. He stood up, dusting the random debris off his pants, and he leaned over to pick up Kenny’s parka. He could give it a good wash over at his place, and it would give him the opportunity to patch up the holes that kept forming in the worn fabric.

After a moment of consideration, however, he put down Kenny’s coat so that he could slip off his own jacket. The garment was still warm as he carefully laid it over Kenny like a short blanket, and Kyle could have sworn he heard the blond give a small sigh of happiness as he snuggled against it.

It would serve as a promise that he would be back… to return the laundered parka, and to check up on his boyfriend.

[ The End ]