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The Illness

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Jean thought that Hisui was lucky to be sharing a bed with him. Not only was the bed more comfortable and easier to get on, but it also gave Hisui the chance to cuddle when he wanted. Although another reason Hisui was so lucky to be snuggled up to Jean every night was the fact that it was easy to tell when something was wrong.

Normally, when something was wrong it was because of a nightmare, or because it was too cold and Hisui needed some extra warmth. Tonight, something a bit more troubling had happened. Hisui had pulled all the covers off of Jean and onto him.

Hisui was a good kid, and good and respecting other people’s space. He stayed huddled on his side of the bed, so close to the edge that Jean was constantly afraid he would fall off. But tonight, Hisui had taken all the blankets. And Jean, as much as he loved Hisui, wasn’t going to let the kid off easily.

He briefly debated the morality of steal a child’s blankets while they slept before deciding that he was a very chilly pirate and needed some warmth as well. Jean tried to pull the blankets off of Hisui but that kid had a grip that was unrivaled.

He stopped pulling when Hisui let out a horrendous cough. Jean felt frozen as he realized Hisui was shaking and shivering, even underneath all of those blankets. Jean placed a hand on Hisui’s forehead and panicked when he felt the heat radiating off the kid.

“Oh God, he’s dying!” Jean shouted.

There was a flutter of commotion as his declaration rang throughout the ship. The men all cared for Hisui deeply and did not want any harm to come to him. They had tried their hardest to take care of him, and yet here Hisui was, burning with a fever. The men were all crowded around Hisui and Jean’s bed, shouting different symptoms to try and find.

“Is his skin yellow? That’s a sign of kidney failure.” Wood said.

“Is he coughing up blood?”

“How hot is he?”

“I knew we should have fed him more oranges! They help keep you healthy!”

“How suddenly did it come on?”

“Alright, alright, let me through,” Dom said, pushing his way through the men. Ikuta was following close behind him.
“Come on guys, get back to work. We can’t figure out what’s wrong with him if you’re all crowding around.” Ikuta yawned. He sat next to Hisui and brushed some hair off of his forehead. The rest of the crew reluctantly slinked away, back to their hammocks and posts. Jean stayed right where he was. Mostly out of fear, but also because he didn’t have a hammock or post to return to.

“He does have a fever,” Ikuta muttered. He wasn’t looking nearly as panicked as the rest of the crew.

Dom bent over and shook Hisui. “Kid, wake up.” He turned to Jean. “When did this start?”

Jean shrugged. “I guess he stole the blankets about an hour ago and I just now decided to try and get them back.” The fact that Dom and Ikuta didn’t appear to be panicking was slightly reassuring, slightly. Jean wasn’t sure these two knew what they were doing.

Hisui coughed, sat up, and rubbed his eyes. “Ikuta?” his voice was soft and gravely.

“Hey kid, how’re you feeling?” Ikuta rubbed Hisui’s head affectionately.

Hisui flopped over onto Jean’s lap, burrowing in it. Jean patted him awkwardly. He never did know how to be physically affectionate.

“Everything hurts.” Hisui’s voice was muffled but he could still hear the slur in the words.

“Do you feel nauseous?” Dom asked.

Hisui nodded. “Head hurts too.”

Ikuta patted his back. “Well, get some rest. We’ll bring you some water to drink.”
Hisui nodded again. Ikuta stood up and started to walk away.

“So he’s not dying?” Jean asked. “You don’t seem stressed about this.”

Dom whacked him upside the head. “He’s probably just got the flu. We can’t do anything other than waiting for it to go away.”

“I’ll go pick up some medicine tomorrow when we get to the port. Until then, we just have to make sure he’s drinking something.” Ikuta rubbed the back of his neck and slowly made his way back to his cabin. Jean laid back down, knowing he wasn’t going to get any sleep with the amount of worry that was overtaking him.

The port they were at was small and unassuming. They probably wouldn’t have even stopped there had Hisui not gotten sick. Ikuta should have known it was going to happen sooner or later. Kids were walking germ factories. Hisui should have gotten sick before this, especially since they were in such tight quarters.

He was still worried about the kid, who was being looked after by Dom at the moment. He didn’t like to think of Hisui in pain, nauseous, barely able to stomach the water they were giving him. But there really was nothing they could do other than suppressing the symptoms.

Ikuta gave a hesitant smile to one of the cashiers, who had been glaring for the past five minutes. He knew that he was being suspicious but he had a sick kid he was trying to take care of.

Reading the various labels carefully, his eyes landed on one that appeared to be a good match for Hisui’s symptoms. He reached out to grab it.

“Not that one!” Wood said.

Ikuta tried to suppress the angry twitch in his eye. He would probably look less suspicious if his entire crew, minus Dom and James, had not crammed in behind him.

“Why not?” Ikuta growled, trying not to make even more of a scene.

“Do you know how many chemicals are in that thing? I bet you can’t even pronounce half of them.” Wood glared at Ikuta like he was actively trying to make Hisui worse.

“I can’t pronounce them because I didn’t go to medical school.” Ikuta snapped. He sighed and put the medicine back. “Fine, which one would you like?”

Wood stared at the bottles before reaching for another one.

“Oh sure,” Yassen snorted. “Let’s get the one pushed on us by big pharma. They don’t want to make Hisui better, they just want our money.”

“Oh for the love of God,” Ikuta groaned. He should have sent these guys packing the moment they decided to join him. “We need to get him something to bring down the fever.”

“Why don’t we go with this one?” Ted picked up a bottle.

“Because he isn’t vomiting.” Ross grabbed the bottle out of his hand and put it back.

“Let’s get some of that natural stuff over there.” Jean pointed to a large display or roots and herbs.

“That stuff doesn’t work as well as the chemicals.” Fox snapped.

Ikuta felt like his head was going to explode. Maybe he should just pick up some medicine and sneak out while the rest were arguing.

“Excuse me?” There was a timid looking woman who tapped Ikuta on the shoulder. She was wearing a white lab coat and a name tag that said, Linda. “Can I help you with something?”

Ikuta could have cried with relief. “Yes, we need something to help with the flu.” The men stopped arguing and turned to look at the woman.

“Well, you came to the right place. I’m guessing he’s one of yours. When mine gets sick, it’s always a pain to get him to take the medicine. How old is he?” she said, looking less timid as she rambled on.

Ikuta raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“Well, some of this medicine can’t be taken by anyone under a certain age.”
Ikuta stared at her. How old was Hisui? Did Hisui even know how old he was?

“Um, he’s um, um,” Ikuta stuttered.

“How can you not know how old your child is?” Linda looked scandalized. Ikuta wanted to give the excuse that he was a man. Wasn’t the cliché that men couldn’t remember anything about their kids?

“Well, he’s not technically mine or any of ours,” Ikuta mumbled. How do you explain that you stole a child and kept him? It was for a good cause. Though still technically illegal. “He was adopted and the previous caretakers weren’t quite sure how old he was either.” Ikuta offered up weakly.

Linda closed her mouth, still judging Ikuta slightly but not as much anymore. “Well, how old do you think he is? Is he about twelve?”

Ikuta thought for a minute. “No, maybe around thirteen or fourteen?”

Linda nodded and pulled some medicine off the shelf. “This should help. It’s grape flavored.”

“Ugh, grape flavored tastes like death and the tears of small children,” Noah said.

Ikuta grabbed the medicine. “Thank you. We’ll take it.” He shot the men a warning look that meant ‘make one more sound and you will be cleaning the ship from top to bottom’. The men stopped protesting.
oOoOoOo They got back to the ship just as James was. James smiled at them and raised a bag.

“Some stuff to make a soup with.” He disappeared below deck.

The men glanced at each other.

“Did anyone else see the jar of eyeballs he had?” Wood asked nervously.

“I was more focused on the basket of live frogs,” Jean said.

Ikuta groaned and tried not to bash his head into the wall with frustration. “I am going to go down and give Hisui the medicine. Will somebody please make sure that James doesn’t give him food poisoning.”

“Yes, sir!” The men saluted and scampered after James.

Dom walked up and stood beside Ikuta. “I don’t know why they're so scared, it’s just the flu. He’ll be fine in a few days.”

Ikuta sighed and read the medicine’s instructions. “It is nerve-wracking the first time your kid gets sick. They’ll be better the next time around.”

Dom hummed in agreement.

Ikuta was worried about Hisui, of course he was. But the kid was strong and could easily fight off a cold. And if he couldn’t, then the rest of the crew would be there to help him. And that was the thought that ultimately calmed Ikuta’s fears.