It wasn’t that early in the morning when it happened. It was simple– Hattie’s an early riser, and Timmy’s a late sleeper. It was only a matter of time before Hattie caught him doing something stupid after he woke up.
But when he walked into the main ship, froze for a solid ten seconds, and tripped over Rumbi (who was standing still), she realized something was probably up.
Timmy was holding a blanket around his shoulders, and when he sat up he closed his eyes and put his hand on his forehead. “G’mornin, Hat…” he mumbled (well, more breathed out– it was like he could barely get through his own sentence).
“Yeah, morning, are you okay?” She held out her hand, which he looked at (for slightly too long), and then took. “You seem really out of it and– fuck, your hands are freezing .”
“‘M… ‘m fine, yeah…”
“Well, when you say it like that I don’t believe you.”
“I just… I caught someth’n, I’ll… I’ll live…”
Hattie thought for a moment. He never would admit that he was not feeling well, and trying to talk him into staying inside wouldn’t work…
So, she scooped him up, head over her left shoulder, and turned him right around into the bedroom.
“H– Hat! Let go– go of me, what the fuck –” he tried arguing, but she plopped him on the bed in the corner (the four of them usually slept in the pillow sea, but a backache isn’t something Timmy needed right then, either), and rolled him up in the blankets. “What the hell –” he tried to say, but it came out raspy and barely legible. “I have things I need to do today!”
“Nope! You’re staying right there until you’re better.” Hattie took out her phone and texted Bow and Mu, explaining the situation. “We’re gonna take care of you until then!”
“Wait, yes. You’ll just end up pushing yourself and be worse than you are now. So lay down and let us handle this.”
“But–! Wait, ‘us–?’”
Suddenly, a voice rang out from the other room. “ We heard there was a little guy in need! ”
“Indeed there is, Mu!” Hattie yelled back as her and Bow rushed in. “Timmy caught something and now we have to all help.
Bow thought for a moment. “But Hattie, don’t we have to be in the Nyakuza today? We still had some time pieces there, even after Empress, right?”
Hattie seemed to just now remember that. “See?” Timmy said, voice just barely not giving out. “Just leave me to my own stuff, you guys have shit to do–”
“I got it!” Mu interrupted. “We can each take shifts! My parents used to do that for me when I was sick.”
Timmy internally groaned. It was going to be a long day.
Well– okay, she could admit that she wasn’t the best at taking care of people. But she wasn’t awful .
First, she rounded everyone up in the ship from Earth (that was alive) and took them to Calcite Island. She gave them a nice long talk of “Timmy is sick and it could be lethal to people that aren’t aliens,” but really she just wanted him to have peace and quiet.
(Since Snatcher usually minds his own business, he was left on the ship.)
Then, she gathered all of her fun books from when she was younger that she stored in the pillow sea’s hatch, and put them all on the bed. Timmy, who was watching what she was doing like an angry bird, stared at them, seemingly wanting to say something, but didn’t have the energy to.
“These are my books from back at home! My sister read them to me when I was younger!”
“Are… are they in– in Tempean?”
“Yeah, but I can translate them no problem!”
“C– cool… it’s not like I can stop you– go for it.”
His… uncouperation was a little disheartening, but she still looked through the titles. Finally, she picked out her favorite– The Adventures of Fix the Fox! A classic. “This one’s really old, I think my father gave it to my brother when he was uh… around our age, I think.”
She dimmed the lights and sat at the edge of the bed, pausing when Timmy weakly sneezed or coughed into his elbow.
She recited the quest Fix went on, running from the Wolf Pack to try to find his friend, Chip the cat. As she recalled each of his adventures, Timmy eventually drifted off. He must’ve been exhausted.
Hattie read quieter and quieter until she finished the book, gently closing it and placing it on the bedside table.
She fully turned off the lights, the only illumination being provided by nearby stars. She left for only a few moments, and came back with a glass of water and a damp washcloth. She carefully placed it on his head, and wiped her hands on her pants. Hattie quietly fell into the pillow pile, far enough away that, if she chose to doze off, her snores wouldn’t wake him up.
Then she waited for Bow to come and take over for her.
“‘You feeling a little better?” Bow asked as Timmy stumbled into the kitchen behind her.
“No, thanks for asking, though.”
“Welp– well, I’m gonna make you home-made soup! My Uncle taught me how once after I was sick and it really helps!”
“You really don’t have–” Timmy couldn’t get another word in without being sent into a coughing fit. Once his throat calmed down, he mumbled, “Whatever. I’m gonna go sit in the shower until you’re done. Later.”
“Alrighty! Oh, and don’t slam the–” Bang! “--door.”
While she cooked and made a mess of the kitchen, she thought about… well, everything.
Ever since Hattie dragged Timmy back to the ship, Bow was just… amazed that there were more survivors other than her and her sister. And Timmy looked like it, too. He was pretty much silent for the first three days he was recovering from whatever hell he and Hattie crawled out of, watching her do chores around the ship like a Bush Cat in a new home.
When he recovered, he was way more lively. But still… just a little hesitant when being offered help. During the whole illness incident, Bow would often have to almost tackle him out of the way so that he wouldn’t get hurt. Was it recklessness, or–?
In any case, Bow knew that he hated feeling useless. She wanted to try and assure him that he didn’t need to have a use , but that was a conversation for another day.
And– oh! She was done already?
“Timmy! Soups ready!” She called out.
She heard shuffling from the other room as doors nearby opened.
“Alright, Timmy! Stay where you are, I’ll be back soon!”
Timmy covered his face with a pillow (bad idea, he couldn’t breathe properly in the first place)-- “It’s not like I could even if I wanted to,” he grumbled. He had almost passed out while walking back to the bedroom, and Mu had to come in and practically carry him back to the bed.
“Rest your voice, nerd! You’re sick!” Mu called from the hall snarkily.
Timmy grumbled and closed his eyes.
While Mu was out, she searched every store in the Nyakuza for a special kind of tea that she remembered before the stupid mafia came in and destroyed everything. Eventually, she found out it was called “glastum tea,” and it was a bitch to get her hands on. So, she made her way to the kettle and flicked it on, playing on her phone while she waited for it to boil. It made Mu really happy to be able to take care of one of her friends, even if he wasn’t particularly willing to be taken care of.
The kettle turned off with a click , and Mu brought the steeping tea back to the bedroom (after mixing in some honey). “It’s done!” she softly spoke,
“I still don’t know what ‘it’ is, Mu,” Timmy groggily said, sitting up– he was probably sleeping before.
“‘It’ is tea! My Mum made it for me all the time when I was sick! I swear, this stuff is magic , you’ll feel better in no time,”
Though Timmy didn’t want to… admit it, (“I’ll be the judge of that,” he joked,) the fact that Mu had thought of this made him feel all warm and fuzzy in his insides.
But he wouldn’t say that outloud.
“Sooo?” Mu over-sweetly asked.
“It’s–! Well– It’s– it’s really good…”
Mu’s eyes lit up. “Of course it is! Like I said, you’ll be better in no time.” She walked towards the end of the bed and sat down. “So, what’re your symptoms? I know more about Earth sickness than Hattie or Bow, so I might know what’s up.”
“Uh… I kinda feel nauseous and, um… like, cramped up. Like someone blew my brain into a balloon maybe? And I feel too cold and too hot at the same time–”
“That just sounds like a cold, and–” she put her hand on his forehead before he could protest– “yeah, and you have a fever. You should be fine, if you were worried!”
“I– th– thanks…”
“Now, I’ll just leave you to rest, if that’s–”
“No–! I–” he looked just a little embarrassed. “I mean, I don’t mind you staying here and talking a little longer…”
Mu looked at him a little startled, then laughed. “Alright, alright, if you insist.”
Mu filled up the room with words, and Timmy listened.
- All better.
Timmy thought he would need to drag himself out of bed, but he actually got up pretty quickly and walked out to the main room. Bow and Mu were both watching Hattie play one of her games on the small, yellow TV. He quietly sat a little bit behind them. They noticed, but didn’t say anything. Hattie, with her face inches from the screen, aggressively mashed buttons as she explained what she was doing. “This guy– I’ve been trying to beat him forever – hardest boss in all of the Corgi Quest games, I swear .”
“What about the wizard?” Timmy asked.
“The uh… the blue one? Is there more than one?”
“Well, there’s also a secret red one in Corgi Quest: Completionists Addition, that one’s not too hard to beat if you know your Corgi Quest lore– the blue one’s tough, but this weird bug thing I’m fighting now is fucking awful – shit. Welp, attempt number thirty, let’s go!”
She played and played, with Timmy and the other two kids occasionally asking questions, and she finally beat it on her 43rd try.
After some celebration, Hattie continued to play in silence.
“Um…” Timmy started, unsure of how to start this… conversation, “S– sorry for, um… for being a jerk yesterday, I– I’m not that used to being taken care of.”
“Awe, Timmy!” Bow, to Timmy’s dismay, ruffled up his hair. “We know you didn’t mean it!”
“Yeah, we’re all jerks sometimes! As long as we know we are, that’s what matters!” Mu chimed in.
“Also, you were REALLY sick, I think we all would have been jerks.”
Nope, he was not crying today.
But he was a little close.
“Uh– thanks for taking care of me, guys,” he whispered.