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Beef Tea

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“I think Aloysius has a temperature.” Sebastian placed his hand on the forehead of the large teddy bear that was tucked next to him in his bed, and looked at him thoughtfully. “And he looks pale? Don’t you think he looks pale, Charles?” Holding a teapot in one hand, Charles cocked his head to one side and peered at the young man and the bear. It was Sebastian that looked pale, with an unhealthy flush blossoming on his high cheek bones; even in illness, he was hopelessly beautiful.

“Yes, I think he does. He must have caught your ‘flu.” Carefully, Charles poured a cup full of steaming dark liquid into a mug. “Here, Nanny said you were to drink this before it got cold.” Sebastian sniffled somewhat petulantly, and gingerly took a sip.

“Urgh.” He grimaced and Charles couldn’t help but smile. “Beef tea. I know medicines are supposed to be horrible, but this really is the limit. I'm not going to drink it. I’m sure champagne would make me feel much better.”

“Come on, Sebastian. You know that's not true. Besides, Nanny made the tea especially for you, and I’m sure it doesn’t taste all that bad.” Sebastian raised his eyebrows and thrust the cup towards his friend.

“You try it.” Sighing, Charles took the mug and confidently drank a large gulp. He immediately regretted it, and was unable to disguise his horror at the taste. “I told you so.”

“I’m sorry. I won’t make you drink any more, even if it probably is…” He broke off; Sebastian had begun a fit of coughing that would render him unable to hear anything. Having regained his breath, he sunk back into the large pile of pillows Charles had carefully constructed.

“Oh Charles, I do feel miserable,” he said. Charles climbed onto the bed and sat next to Sebastian, who immediately turned over so his head was on Charles’s shoulder.

"Poor Sebastian. It's never nice to be ill."

"I feel all shivery; I just can't get warm. And my head aches awfully."

Charles stroked Sebastian’s blonde hair away from his forehead and kissed it softly.

“You’re skin feels as if it’s on fire,” he whispered. “Perhaps you should have let Nanny call the doctor.” Sebastian shook his head, snuffling into Charles’s pullover.

“I just want you,” he replied.