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Under the Weather

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Rain pattered along the glass, heavy and dull. The sound was muted against the low music that played in the café – a piano piece that sounded like some variation of jazz. The café was otherwise quiet, atmosphere mellow. Only a few customers remained inside, most quietly reading or working on their laptops. A few couples were present, but they kept their voices low, conversations gentle murmurs against the rainfall.

Alma worked behind the counter. He had been scheduled for a another double shift, having been at the café since early that morning. Already, outside had darkened, the sky turning indigo. But, the café would be open until at least 10:00PM; it was already a little after nine, and Alma was scheduled to stay until close.

A customer – a middle aged man - brought his emptied drinkware to the far end of the counter, near the trash and recycling bins. Alma went to grab them, offering an appreciative wave to the gentleman before the customer left outside. The drinkware clattered gently as Alma took it, dropping it off at the sink in the back. He glanced to the front briefly, making sure no one was at the counter.

He sighed. It was a slow evening being a Tuesday, and only Alma and one other person was working. Technically, Alma wasn’t even supposed to been working that evening, but the last few days the café had needed some last-minute help. One barista had recently quit to take on another job, leaving them understaffed.

Alma didn’t usually mind extra shifts. Since the café was located in the nicer part of downtown, they tended to attract good business and it was decent money. He also liked his coworkers and talking to the customers; it was a good job for how social Alma liked to be.

‘Except…’ Alma lingered near the back, a bit away from the counter. He leaned against the sink as he brushed his bangs aside. After pulling so many extra shifts, he was more tired than normal, his mind foggy; a slight throb pulsated in his head, but Alma figured he was just sleepy or dehydrated. Maybe he could get some water or tea.

The doors that led to the back of the café opened. Alma’s coworker, Lenalee, walked out. “Still slow out here?”

Alma stood a bit more upright. “Yeah. No one else has come in since you went to the back.”

“Well, that’s a bit of a relief.” Lenalee tucked a strand of long, dark hair behind her ear. “Normally, I like busier days. But the past few have been a lot.”

Alma nodded. He meant to say something, but the throbbing in his head continued, focus muddled. Carefully, Alma shifted his weight from one foot to the other in an attempt to get more comfortable; he caught the scent of coffee grounds and chocolate, which smelled strangely nauseating despite the fact that Alma usually liked those smells.

Lenalee glanced at Alma. When he didn’t respond, her violet eyes turned curious. “You okay?”

Alma blinked. “Huh? Oh, yeah.” He rubbed the back of his neck, his fingers tugging the collar of his shirt. He felt a little hot, but he wasn’t wearing any layers – just the standard black t-shirt and jeans all baristas had to wear, a dark apron thrown over him. “Um. If it’s okay, I think I’m just going to run to the bathroom.”

Lenalee nodded. “Okay – I’ll hang up here.”

As Lenalee went to the front counter, Alma ducked into the back of the café, heading straight to the employee restroom. It was a single room in the back, and he shut the door behind him as soon as he was inside, leaning against it.

His pocket buzzed. Alma reached in, pulling out his phone as the screen lit up with a text alert.

Tyki 9:19PM: Hey, I’m heading to Red’s for a bit. I’ll probably be back later tonight after you get home.

Alma scanned the text, before unlocking his phone – or at least, trying to. His fingers were clumsy and it took him several attempts, his attention scattered as he struggled. Biting his lip, Alma finally was able to text a reply.

Alma 9:21PM: K. Tell Lavi and Allen I said hi. ^^

Before Alma could put away his phone, several dots appeared. He watched as another text popped up.

Tyki 9:22PM: Work going ok?

Alma paused. The response had come pretty fast, but Alma realized he had been working a lot lately. Maybe Tyki just wanted to check on him – the last week it felt like they had barely seen each other despite living together in the same apartment.

Alma 9:23PM: Yeah, it’s been okay! It was busy earlier but it’s slowing up now. I think I’m just tired.

He added a little smile emoji with a sweat drop and hit send. Almost immediately, Tyki texted back.

Tyki 9:23PM: Don’t wear yourself out. Make sure to take it easy when you get home.

A small smile tugged at Alma’s lips.

Alma 9:24PM: I will! Promise.

He added a little heart emoji before sending, but Tyki didn’t respond after that. Slipping his phone back into his pocket, Alma walked over to the sink. He technically didn’t have to relieve himself or anything, but as he glanced in the mirror he noticed he looked a little pale, the fluorescent light washing his features out tremendously; however, there was a small flush on his cheeks and some circles beneath his eyes. Alma tried not to pay those details too much mind.

He turned on the faucet, allowing the cool water to run for a few seconds. Carefully, Alma splashed his face. He still felt a bit hot, but the water helped. ‘Maybe I just am a little worn out,’ he thought, still a little lightheaded. He realized he felt a little nauseous, but maybe it was from the coffee smell outside. ‘I’ve probably been smelling too much coffee, too…’

He splashed his face a few more times, trying to cool off. Once he did, Alma quickly dried off with a paper towel and left. He didn’t want to leave Lenalee alone for too long.

As soon as he exited, he was hit by the coffee smell, mocha wafting into the air. Alma briefly covered his mouth as he tried to fight his discomfort, making it to the front where Lenalee was. When he came out, he saw her collecting some more drinkware as a few more customers left.

Lenalee turned, spying Alma. “Hey,” she said. “It looks like we may actually clear out a bit early. If the other customers finish up soon, maybe we can close for the night.”

Alma glanced around the café. As he did, he saw they were down to three people – a couple and a woman working on something by herself. He looked back at Lenalee and nodded. “That sounds good.”

Lenalee set the dirty drinkware down in the bin. She looked at Alma concernedly. “You sure you’re okay?” she asked, voice gentle. “You look a little pale.”

Alma wavered. “Ah, I think I’m just tired. That’s all,” he said, ignoring the way his stomach churned unpleasantly. He swallowed. “I’m a little out of it today.”

Lenalee pursed her lips. “You were scheduled to come in tomorrow, right?” she asked. “Do you want me to see if Rohfa can cover? You’ve been taking a lot of extra shifts lately.”

Alma shook his head, suddenly filling guilty. “No, it’s okay – I can still come in.”

Lenalee paused. She looked a little wary. “Alright,” she finally conceded, before smiling. “But if you need to, just text me and let me know.”

Alma nodded. “I will."

They both started cleaning up the café after that, wiping things down and putting away all drinkware. Eventually, the last of the customers left, the couple heading out before the businesswoman working finally closed her laptop and left also. Lenalee was quick to change the sign on the front door to closed after, not wanting any last-minute customers to walk in.

“I think we’re in the clear,” Lenalee said, as she walked back behind the counter. “I can close out the register if you want to grab your things.”

Alma nodded, slipping off his apron. “Thanks.”

He was too tired to say much else and headed to the backroom. Hanging up his apron, he grabbed his rain jacket off the hanger, slipping it on. Outside the backdoor, he could still hear the rain pelleting down.

Lenalee came back, hanging up her apron also. She took note of the rain as she took her coat off the hanger. “Wow, it’s really coming down outside,” she said. “You going to be okay getting home?”

Alma nodded. “Yeah, my rain jacket has a hood. So, I’m sort of prepared,” he said, offering a weak smile.

“Yeah, but it’s pretty intense outside. I can give you a ride if you want.”

Alma paused. Admittedly, he was tempted to take the offer – but he knew that Lenalee lived on the opposite end of town. He didn’t want to make her go out of the way and drive in a torrential downpour.

He shook his head. “It’s okay – really,” he said. “I can catch the bus.”

For a moment, Lenalee looked as though she wanted to say something more. She didn’t push, though, and nodded. “Alright – well, be safe getting back.”

Alma smiled. “I will!”

They locked up the café after that, both heading their separate ways as they exited through the front. Rain poured down heavily, Alma pulling up his hood as soon as he was outside. He could feel the rain drops as they hit against his jacket, the air chilly; already, he regretted refusing Lenalee’s offer, but forced himself to exhale. The bus stop was just a block away and would take him straight to his apartment complex.

He walked down the sidewalk, the streetlights bright against the darkness. Puddles flooded the sidewalk, Alma grimacing as he accidentally stepped into a deep one. His pace faltered as his sneakers and socks got soaked. ‘Ugh.’

He tried to ignore the unpleasant sensation, a chill wracking his body. His head ached, the dull, throb returning; more than anything, Alma wanted to go to sleep.

‘Just get home,’ he told himself, as he hurried to the bus stop. ‘Then you can shower, and just crash…’

He crossed the street, splashing through several more puddles. As Alma looked ahead, he saw the bus pull up to the stop; suddenly worried he would miss it, Alma sprinted, breaking into a run.

He barely made it onto the bus, catching the driver’s attention before the doors closed. Quickly, Alma got on, finding a seat up near the front. Because of how late it was, there were only a few people riding, the bus quiet.

Alma leaned back into his seat as the bus drove along. He shivered, suddenly overcome with chills. His clothing was damp, the rain jacket having not been enough to keep him completely dry. ‘It’s so cold-‘

His thoughts cut off, his stomach contracting. Alma swiftly brought a hand to his mouth as he leaned over, the impulse to purge sudden.

Silently, Alma panicked. Was he sick? He definitely didn’t want to lose his stomach on the bus; if Alma could hold on for a few more stops, he would be home soon. Slowly, he sucked in a breath as he closed his eyes as he tried not to puke.

Although the bus ride wasn’t long, it felt agonizing. Alma felt worse by the second, thoughts muddled as he shivered, headache and nausea rampant. ‘Just a little longer…’

The bus came to a stop, and with relief, Alma realized it was his own. He got off quickly, heading into his apartment complex. The warmth of the lobby offered little comfort. Alma was still dripping wet as he headed for the elevator, jumping inside as soon as it opened and pressing the button for the fourth floor.

‘Come on, come on, come on,’ Alma silently pleaded, as he watched the floor levels light up one by one.

The elevator dinged, and Alma rushed onto his floor as soon as the door opened. He fumbled with his keys as he reached his apartment, unlocking it clumsily before he ran inside, kicking off his shoes as he shut the door behind him and bolting straight to the bathroom. He nearly tripped, socks damp against the hardwood floor, but Alma made it as he fell to his knees in front of the toilet – just as he retched.

Alma coughed, purging what tasted like straight stomach acid. He exhaled heavily, not daring to move until he felt like he had gotten whatever it was out of his system. Keeping still, Alma remained with his head over the toilet for a few minutes.

Finally, he forced himself to stand. His legs felt terribly wobbly as he flushed the toilet, heading back into the hallway to hang up his jacket before he got sick again. As he did, he texted Tyki.

Alma 10:20PM: Can you bring a ginger ale home please

The text was short and Alma didn’t even punctuate, heading back into the bathroom. He stripped down, feeling disgustingly grimy. Setting his phone by the sink, he turned on the shower, shivering as the cool air caressing his skin. Once the water was warm enough, Alma jumped in, scrubbing his body down in an attempt to feel a little better.

Alma breathed in. The hot water was comforting at first, the shower helping to eliminate the chills Alma had. However, it wasn’t long before the steam started to feel overwhelming, Alma’s skin tinged pink from the heat. Eventually, his lightheadedness and nausea returned.

His surroundings swayed, and Alma scrambled to turn the water off. His breaths deepened as he pulled the shower curtains back, suddenly overheated – so much that he didn’t even have the energy to dry off.

Shakily, Alma sat down on the bathtub. He was still naked and wet, and curled up as he leaned back against the cool porcelain. ‘Just…just a few minutes…’

Alma closed his eyes. He knew he needed to just dry off and get into bed, but he felt so exhausted and the empty bathtub was so cool. Alma just needed a little more time, and he would be fine. ‘I’ll be…’

He thought he heard his phone buzzing by the bathroom sink, but Alma was too tired, eyes closing.

He wasn’t sure what happened after that. Alma dozed off or something, his world growing back, senses distorted. He was only vaguely aware of where he was, still in that bathtub as his body curled against the smooth enamel of the tub. A few times Alma thought to get up, but whenever he tried his head would spin, stomach lurching.

After an undistinguishable amount of time passed, Alma thought he heard someone walk down the hall – maybe even someone call his name. Alma couldn’t tell, though, eyes still closed as he tried to sleep.

Eventually, someone came into the bathroom. They cursed to themselves and Alma was suddenly aware of someone wrapping his body in a towel, drying him off before attempting to move him.

Not entirely coherent, Alma whined. He felt horrible and just wanted to stay put. “Don’t-“

“Shh.” Someone shushed him gently, and Alma felt a hand run through his hair. “Just let me get you into bed – you can’t stay in the bathtub like this.”

Tyki. It was Tyki’s voice. Alma blinked, starting to wake up more. Tyki had already lifted Alma’s body, though, carrying him bridal style in a towel and back into the bedroom. The room was dark, only the light from the hallway spilling in; carefully, Tyki navigated the space as he brought Alma to the bed and placed him down gently before turning on the lamp.

Alma blinked adjusting to the lamplight. He pressed his face against the pillow, nausea returning and skin feverish.

Tyki went to some drawers, pulling out an oversized t-shirt. He brought it back to Alma. “Here – let’s get this on you at least.”

Alma moved, Tyki guiding him to help him slip the shirt on. It was large enough that it went down past his hips, Alma not even caring to ask for more as he laid back down against the pillow, curling up into a fetal position, watching as Tyki left to grab a few more things – a clean towel and a wastebasket.

Tyki placed the towel in front of Alma, leaving the wastebasket by the bed and taking the old towel. “This will be here if you need to use it,” he said, words soft. “Do you want that ginger ale?”

Alma blinked, confused. Had he asked Tyki for a ginger ale earlier? He tried to remember, but drew a blank. Mutely, he nodded – he needed something to drink.

Tyki smiled at Alma. “I’ll be right back.”

Alma didn’t say anything as Tyki stepped out. His head felt terribly heavy as he attempted to lift it, his vision threatening to spin; immediately, Alma gave up, keeping still as he remained on his side. His skin still felt uncomfortably warm, but at the same time, he didn’t like how exposed his body felt. Should he pull the covers over him? No, that would mean he’d have to move.

Closing his eyes, Alma exhaled. Why did he feel so terrible? He thought he had been fine earlier-

His stomach contracted, and Alma forced himself to move, reaching over to grab the wastebasket. He caught scent of the plastic liner and retched, dry-heaving despite the fact that his body had nothing to purge.

Tyki came back into the bedroom, hurrying to Alma’s side as soon as he saw his boyfriend dry-heaving and placing a bottle of ginger ale on the nightstand. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Tyki steadied Alma, holding the wastebasket for him. “Easy – just get it out of your system,” he spoke, running his other hand along Alma’s back.

Alma coughed, the taste in his mouth bitterly acidic. Once he felt like he wasn’t going to puke anymore, he fell back against the pillow, breaths shallow.

Tyki lowered the basket. “You want to try drinking something?” he asked, grabbing the ginger ale off the nightstand. “You probably need some fluids in you.”

Alma wavered. His mouth felt dry, but he didn’t know if he’d be able to handle drinking much. “I don’t know…”

“Just try a few sips for now,” Tyki urged. “Come on – let me help you sit up.”

Alma tried to move, his whole body feeling like a ton of lead. Tyki carefully helped him to sit, keeping an arm around him and guiding Alma so that he could lean against Tyki’s body.

“Here.” Tyki unscrewed the cap of the ginger ale, and helped Alma take the bottle. “Don’t drink too quickly.”

Alma didn’t say anything. He brought the bottle to his lips and took a few tiny sips. The taste was a little off, but it wasn’t horrible; however, Alma couldn’t manage much and stopped quickly.

Tyki took the bottle from Alma, still steading him. “That all you want for now?”

Alma nodded.

Tyki capped the bottle and placed it on the nightstand. “I’ll leave it here,” he said, before glancing at Alma. In the lamplight, his amber eyes flickered concernedly. “Need anything else?”

Alma shook his head. He was feeling a little more coherent, guilt creeping into his awareness. Hadn’t Tyki supposed to have been at Lavi’s? The realization was upsetting to Alma, but Tyki wouldn’t have known Alma was sick, would he? No, that was irrational.

Still – Alma’s eyes burned and he quickly felt his emotions unravel. He hated being sick; he felt terrible all over, and now he was probably causing trouble for his partner.

As he looked at Alma, Tyki noticed the way Alma’s eyes glistened, face flushed feverishly. He blinked in confusion before his lips quirked upward. “What’s wrong?” he asked, tone slightly playful.

Somehow, the lightness in Tyki’s voice did the trick. Abruptly, Alma’s face crumpled as he started to cry, tears trickling down his cheeks.

For a second, Tyki faltered. The breakdown was abrupt, but in a beat, he composed himself, wrapping and arm around Alma as he pulled him close. “Hey,” he spoke, though a smile tugged at his lips. “Come on, don’t cry, Alma – you’re going to just make yourself feel worse.”

Alma’s cries didn’t lessen. He sniffled as he clung onto Tyki, too disoriented to even think straight. “I-I’m sorry.” His words were broken up in-between sobs, muffled and barely audible. “I-I just-“

Tyki shushed him. “Easy,” he reminded Alma, as he ran a hand along his back. “Just lie back down, okay? You’re going to make yourself throw up again and you need to keep that ginger ale down.”

Tyki kept his voice low, gentle as he methodically ran his hand along Alma’s back. The sensation was incredibly soothing, and slowly Alma grew calm, his cries lessening. He inhaled, cheeks still wet.

Tyki waited a few seconds more, rubbing Alma’s back. When he saw Alma calming down, he gently guided him onto his side.

Alma shifted as his boyfriend helped him. He clasped onto Tyki’s hand, blue eyes red and hazed as he looked back at Tyki pleadingly.

Tyki caught Alma’s gaze. A knowing look in his eyes, his lips tugged into a small smile. “Want me to stay with you?”

Alma bit his lip. He nodded.

Tyki’s expression softened. He ran his fingers through Alma’s bangs, voice growing soft. “Let me get changed – I’ll be with you in a sec.”

Tyki left Alma after that. Alma remained curled on the edge of the bed, the towel a bit rough against his skin. He still felt nauseous, but it felt manageable if he kept still.

Closing his eyes, Alma exhaled. He just wanted to sleep through the worst of whatever it was he had come down with.

He heard a few drawers open and close. Alma was only vaguely aware of Tyki’s presence as he heard him shuffling around, before the weight of the mattress shifted beside Alma.

Tyki got behind him, situating himself against Alma. Lightly, he placed a hand on Alma’s arm. “Just try to sleep,” he murmured. “I’ll be with you all night if you need anything.”

Alma nodded. Without thinking, his body sunk back against Tyki’s, his muscles immediately relaxing.

It wasn’t long before Alma’s eyelids grew heavy, his senses blurring together. The whole time, Tyki ran his hand against Alma – first his arm, then his back. While his touch was gentle, there was just enough pressure to soothe Alma, the sensation hypnotic.

Eventually, Alma fell asleep.

The night passed slowly for Alma. Although he had fallen asleep at first, it didn’t take long before he woke up again, losing his stomach as he reached for the wastebasket in the darkness. It felt like every hour he was waking up, puking nothing but bitter bile as his whole body wracked with a force. At one point, he dry-heaved so hard he thought he pulled a muscle.

Each time, Tyki steadied him. Alma didn’t know if Tyki was just awake already or woke up whenever Alma had to vomit; he wasn’t exactly clear-headed enough to tell, never fully awake. A few times, Tyki tried to get Alma to drink something, but Alma never managed much other than a few sips. Tyki was always right behind Alma, though, holding him from behind as he steadied him and rubbing his hand on Alma’s back until he fell back asleep.

Somehow, Tyki always managed to make Alma feel a little better.

He lost track of how many times he woke up, every instance blurred together like splashed paint. Alma must have managed to sleep through some part of the night, though, his world staying dark for an indistinguishable amount of time. At various points, he was aware at the sensations that played at his body; the shift between chills and burning up, the aches in his muscles. He thought he felt Tyki’s against him too, his boyfriend’s hand on his shoulder.

Eventually, the nausea abated. Alma fell asleep more soundly, breaths turning even. He stayed still for a while, almost managing to be comfortable – until he felt the weight of the mattress shift.

Slowly, Alma’s eyes blinked open. His vision blurred into focus, though he winced when he saw daylight creeping through the blinds. ‘It’s morning already?’

Confused, Alma looked around. He was in bed still, though he saw the sheets had been pulled over his body, the bedding rumpled and the towel wrinkled beneath him. Alma tried to push himself up, careful to move slowly; his head still felt heavy, his mind dizzy and equilibrium off. ‘Ugh.

The bedroom door was just a little ajar, the apartment quiet. However, Alma thought he heard Tyki on the phone.

Alma wavered. He debated on waiting in bed, but he suddenly realized he needed to use the bathroom. Sucking in a breath, he pulled the sheets off, forcing himself to stand. His legs wobbled and his skin felt cold; he realized he was still only dressed in an oversized t-shirt.

Alma forced himself to ignore any discomfort, his eyes flickering to the nightstand. On it, the half-finished ginger ale remained. Maybe he could actually drink some more later.

Somewhat clumsily, Alma made his way out of the bedroom. He pushed the door open, the hinges creaking softly as Tyki’s voice reached Alma’s ears.

“Yeah, I’ll tell him,” Tyki said, before pausing. “Don’t worry – I’ll make sure he’s okay.”

Alma blinked. He crept down the hall, poking his head into the living room. Tyki had pushed open the sliding balcony door as he hung outside, the sky overcast. Tyki hung up his cellphone and pocketed it into his sweats, wearing nothing else aside from a shirt. Alma thought he saw Tyki’s fingers twitch – usually a sign that he needed a smoke.

Quietly, Alma tried to turn; however, the floor creaked beneath his steps.

Tyki looked back. His expression was slightly surprised, but a smirk soon took form as he spotted Alma. “Thought you’d be asleep,” he said. “Feeling better?”

Alma shrugged. He wrapped his arms around himself. “Not really,” he murmured. “I feel kind of gross…”

“Well, puking your guts out all night will do that to you.” Tyki walked inside, sliding the glass door shut behind him. He looked back at Alma, tone shifting a little. “You should lie back down if you’re not feeling good. I called Lenalee and let her know what was going on.”

Alma blinked. It took him a beat of the second to register what Tyki has said, but his expression soon shifted into worry. “I was supposed to work today,” he realized, fighting a groan. “Ugh, we’ve been short-staffed…”

“Lenalee said not to worry about it – she’s finding someone to cover you for today. And tomorrow.” Tyki crossed his arms, a strangely serious look in his eyes. “You’re in no shape to go back to work. You’ve been pulling enough doubles as it is.”

Alma bit his lip. He rubbed his wrist as he looked off to the side, leaning against the wall.

Tyki walked over to Alma, voice soft. “You sure you’re okay to be standing?”

Alma nodded. “I just have to use the bathroom,” he murmured, before averting his gaze. “I’m going to do that now.”

Alma turned after that, going to the bathroom to relieve himself. His whole body ached and he grimaced at how disgusting he felt. Even though his nausea had finally diminished, his other symptoms remained. ‘I still feel so terrible…’

He finished up with the toilet, washing his hands and face after. Alma took extra time to scrub his skin, hoping he’d feel a little more awake if anything. The help was minimal, though, and when he looked in the mirror, he noticed how feverish he looked, eyes clouded and hair disheveled.

Alma sighed. Maybe he did need some time off after all.

He headed back to the bedroom after. When he did, Tyki was in there, picking up some clothing off the floor. He paused when he saw Alma. “You need something to eat?”

Alma paused, thinking. He glanced over at the nightstand where the ginger ale was. “I’m going to try finishing that first. I just want to make sure I can keep it down.” He walked back over to the edge of the bed, by accident glancing at the wastebasket. Alma cringed when he saw the bile at the base and tried to look away, taking the drink.

He sat on the edge of the bed. As he unscrewed the lid, his attention flickered to Tyki. “Weren’t you going to be at Lavi’s for a little while last night?” he asked, remembering how quickly Tyki seemed to have gotten back after Alma passed out. Or, had Alma been passed out for longer than he had realized?

Tyki sat on the other end of the bed, dark curls framing his face. “Well, you texted asking for a ginger ale. And you didn’t even use a question mark.” He leaned back onto the palms of his head, a small smirk tugging at his lips. “You only ever ask for ginger ale when you’re sick or hungover. I figured since you were at work, the latter probably wasn’t the case.”

Alma flushed hotly and broke eye contact. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you come back earlier,” he murmured, completely abashed.

Tyki’s eyebrow rose. “Don’t apologize. Considering you were passed out naked in the bathtub, I’m glad I got here when I did,” he said, voice softening. His amber eyes lingered on Alma. “You could have gotten hurt, you know. I’d hate it if I wasn’t here for you.”

The words were spoken gently, earnest in nature. Alma’s heart fluttered as he held the ginger ale in his grasp, gaze downcast.

“Thanks for taking care of me,” Alma said, glancing back at Tyki. “I hope you don’t catch whatever I did, though…”

Tyki shrugged. “If I get it, oh well. Worst case scenario I get sick, but I’ll be fine.”

Alma remained a little uncertain, but nodded. He took a sip of the ginger ale; it had gone a little flat, but otherwise he was able to drink more than he had the previous night, throat parched. He crawled more into bed and leaned against the pillows. “Did you have work today?”

“I called in.” Tyki caught Alma’s expression and cut him off before he could protest. “Don’t get all worried about it. I covered some shifts for Momo last week, so he’s returning the favor.”

“Got it.” Alma placed the ginger ale down and pulled the sheets over him, bringing his knees up to his chest. Truthfully, he was a little glad Tyki had been able to stay home – while Alma was feeling like he could have managed, it was comforting to know Tyki would be around. He always made Alma feel secure. Safe.

Still – Alma didn’t want to take all Tyki’s time. “I’ll get better soon.”

Tyki chuckled. He stood, walking over to where Alma was so that he could sit on the edge closest to him, his fingers brushing aside Alma’s bangs. “Just take whatever time you need,” he said. “You still feel like you have a fever, so take it easy today. Maybe we can watch a movie together if you feel up to it.”

Hearing Tyki’s suggestion, Alma’s eyes brightened a bit. “I’d like that.”

Tyki smiled. He leaned in, his forehead brushing against Alma’s briefly, amber eyes flickering to meet Alma’s, his hand taking Alma’s. Their fingers curled together.. “Rest up. I’ll be here if you need me.”

His words were a quiet whisper, and more than anything, Alma wanted to melt against Tyki’s body. Had he not been sick, he would have even protested when Tyki pulled back – but he knew Tyki wanted to give him a chance to rest up some more. Alma knew he probably needed it.

Alma nodded. “I will,” he said, managing a small smile as he clasped at Tyki’s hand. “I promise.”