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In Sickness and Health

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Day 1: Wyatt and Sally's Place

"ACHOO!"

Shirley comes bustling out of the kitchen carrying a serving tray laden with throat lozenges, Kleenex, and a bowl of broth with steam swirling from deep within its ceramic belly. She shoves the box of tissues underneath Sally's cracked, raw nostrils. "Well, Sally-girl, it sounds like I got here just in the nick of time. You're sick as a dog." She sets the tray down and puts a palm to Sally's forehead. "Uh huh. Just as I suspected. You're burning up."

Sally struggles to a sitting position on the plush sofa. "Grams, I still can't believe you drove all of the way down here from Palm Springs just to hold my hand and check my temperature. It's not that serious."

"Anytime one of my girls is sick; it's serious," Shirley insists. She withdraws something from the oversized pocket of her cable knit sweater. "Now, it's time to take your medicine. And there will be no fussing."

"Not the cough syrup," Sally protests, weakly holding up her hands. "Anything but that."

"What did I just say about not fussing? It will make you feel better in no time." Shirley also withdraws a tablespoon with an etched handle from her pocket. Sally wonders what other unique treasures her grandmother might be hiding in there and then decides she really doesn't want to know.

With eyes wide, Sally watches as Shirley pours the sticky, cherry-red liquid into the silver spoon. Shirley holds it out to her and Sally shakes her head. Shirley sighs. "You never change, Sally. When you were a kid, you used to run and hide anytime someone used the word 'cough' and 'syrup' in the same sentence. You may still be my baby, but you're not five anymore, so open your mouth and take this right now."

"Believe me, if there was a big enough space to conceal myself in here, that's where I'd be right now," Sally mutters. "Don't make me do this."

"Don't be such a baby. Take your medicine."

Sally rolls her eyes. "Fine."

"Open wide."

Sally opens her mouth wide to accept the syrup. As it touches her tongue and rolls down her sore throat, her body shudders in disgust. "Ack!" She screeches, wiping her lips with a tissue.

"You should have held your nose."

"Like that ever works." She looks at her grandmother questioningly. "I just don't understand how they can put a man on the moon but can't make a cough syrup recipe that doesn't taste like an elephant's ass."

"Watch your language," Shirley gently chides. "You're offending my ears with your colorful vocabulary. Now -" she reaches behind Sally - "let me fluff your pillows and then I want you to lie down and take a nice, long, restful nap."

"As tempting as catching some zzzz's sounds, I really can't. I should get to the office. The Forresters are depending on me."

"Pfft. The Forresters. Have you forgotten that the Forresters are our arch-rivals?"

"Grams, maybe in the past they were. But not anymore, okay? They're actually pretty decent people."

"Oh yeah? And what about Thomas? He actually cheated on you with that Caroline Spencer tart!"

Sally shifts uncomfortably on the sofa. "Well okay, maybe not him then..."

Shirley rushes on. Her hands wave wildly as she talks. "And now you're living with Caroline's cousin! Not to mention, he's the son of the man who blew up our building! Oh, Sally, what a tangled web you have weaved here."

Sally's cheeks flame scarlet. "Grams, did you really come here to help me get well or just to criticize my life choices?"

"Can't I do both?" Shirley says innocently.

"Grams!"

"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. You know I am only looking out for your best interests. I just want you to be alright."

"I am."

"No, you're not alright... but you will be ... Once we kick this flu in the tushy." She touches Sally's cheek. "You could use a cool compress. I'll be right back."

Shirley hurries out of the room and Sally turns to stare longingly at the front door. She thinks if she can just muster up some willpower and an ounce of strength, she can make a run for it. She loves her Grams but will go crazy being henpecked by her for the next few days until this flu ebbs away.

Just as she manages to swing her achy limbs towards the end of the sofa, the door opens. Wyatt stands there, breathing heavily like he's attempted the hundred-yard dash. "Sally, I just came from Forrester. Pam told me you never came into today; that you're really sick. What's wrong?"

In an instant, he's at her side, smoothing her fire-red hair off of her heated skin, squeezing her tiny fingers, offering her a look full of such care and concern that her heart does a little involuntary skip.

"Wyatt, don't freak out. I'm fine. Really. I just have a touch of the flu." She sneezes. Coughs, and sneezes again.

"A touch, you say?" Wyatt asks skeptically. He presses his hand to the small of her back, rubbing soft, slow circles there.

"Okay, a little more than a touch, I guess. But the sooner it passes, the better. I need to get back to work."

"Take all of the time you need, Sally. The job will be there waiting for you when you return."

"Will it?" She asks, giving voice to the fear that's been gnawing at her for sometime now. "They could find someone else; someone they like better ... I mean, in spite of my best intentions, I am still an outsider at Forrester Creations. I am that crazy redheaded Spectra who tried to steal their designs... I have to work three times as hard as everyone else to prove that I belong there."

"Hey now," Wyatt says, cupping her cheeks in his large hands, "you're great at what you do. You truly are. Even Hope admits that now. You have lasted at Forrester all of these months because of your talent, your drive, your panache ... Not to mention, your killer fashion sense."

"Oh yes," Sally smiles ruefully. "Don't you just love my fashion-forward getup right now?" She fluffs the hem of the baggy gray tee-shirt she wears; the one she snagged from Wyatt.

"Hey, I happen to think you look amazing in my tee-shirt."

"You're totally lying and I love you for it," Sally says. She instantly flushes realizing what she's just said. They have never used the "L" word before. Not even once, and she had to just go and drop it so casually like that.

She's a total idiot.

She feigns looking anywhere but at Wyatt as he reaches for her hands. "Sally, I-" He starts but breaks off as Shirley bustles back into the living room. He blinks in surprise. "Shirley?"

Shirley raises an eyebrow. "That's Ms. Spectra to you." She moves across the room and places the cool compress gingerly on Sally's forehead. Sally avoids meeting Wyatt's questioning eyes.

"Sorry, right. Ms. Spectra. When do you get into town?" He scratches his cheek.

"About thirty minutes ago," Shirley responds. She takes the cap off the ear thermometer and gently puts it in Sally's right ear canal. Sally tries not to squirm. She feels like such a child. Shirley is certainly treating her like one.

"Coco told me that when she visited Sally yesterday, Sally was sneezing a lot. Did you know about that?" Shirley asks.

Wyatt nods. "Yes, but Sally told me it was just allergies."

"Allergies, hah! Sally doesn't have allergies. Shows how much you know about her."

"Grams," Sally says in a warning voice, not sure why Shirley is taking such an antagonistic approach to her first true interaction with Wyatt. "This is not his fault."

"Well, maybe not, but still, you need someone to nurse you back to health and it's going to be me." Shirley's tone brooks no argument. "Now let's talk about sleeping arrangements. Sally is going to need a lot of rest so that means no hanky-panky between the two of you."

Wyatt's cheeks flush pink and Sally buries her face in her stack of pillows for a long moment. "Just to ensure things are on the up and up and there's less of a chance of spreading germs back and forth, Wyatt, you will be bunking on this sofa. Sally and I will take the room."

Sally lifts her head as high as she can, even with her neck aching terribly. "You can't be serious!"

"As a heart attack." Shirley looks at Wyatt. "Now would you be a dear and go fetch my things from the hatchback? And Sally, let's get to the room. If we hurry, we'll catch the tail-end of 'Days of Our Lives'. You just won't believe what trouble Sami's landed herself in this time! Wyatt has a TV in there, doesn't he? Is it HD?"

Sally peeks at Wyatt under her eyelashes, trying to gauge if he's angry or not. He doesn't appear upset, but she wouldn't blame him if he thought she was more trouble than she was worth and dumped her after all of this.

"Sorry," she mouths to him, hoping she doesn't lose him because of her crazy grandmother. Not when she was falling more in love with him by the moment.