This is a fanfic 'specially for Leslie, because she's got the 'flu. It's also for my mom, who took care of four sick kids over Christmas and is still alive. :)
"I never get sick!" Buffy moaned just before she heaved what felt like every meal for the last year.
"Shush. Shh, honey." Joyce smoothed her daughter's hair back off her neck with one hand and reached for yet another cool washcloth with the other.
She'd begun stockpiling them lately. Buffy felt so hot, but the doctors had reassured them--twice--that her temperature was within normal limits, that Buffy had a normal strain of the 'flu that would run its normal course.
"It's just that I never see her like this," Joyce had said apologetically the last time. "She's always been so incredibly healthy."
The ER doctor had chuckled. "Try not to worry too much. No one can fight every germ effortlessly. She'll be fine."
Joyce helped Buffy out of the bathroom and into bed again, covered her with a cool sheet and set a pan next to the bed. "Feel a little better?"
Buffy forced a vague smile. "A little."
"Do you want anything to drink--or read?" Joyce added hurriedly as Buffy's face contracted. Liquids were not yet welcome. "Or anything?"
"No. Not right now, but thank you."
Joyce brushed the hair from her forehead. Poor baby, she was miserable.
"Would you like me to sit with you?"
"I would," Buffy whispered with a tiny smile, "but I'd feel better if you got some sleep. You have to work tomorrow."
"No, please, Mom. I really mean it."
"All right," Joyce said after a long pause. "I'll go call Willow and tell her you won't be in school tomorrow, and then I'll bring up some ice chips in case you get thirsty later."
"'Kay." Buffy's eyes drifted closed.
She did wake up thirsty a while later, and decided to go for it even though her stomach sent up warning signals at the thought. She reached for the glass at her bedside--but encountered a solid body instead. "Huh?"
"Buffy." A hand caught hers and held it.
"Angel." She didn't even need to look in his direction, but she tried anyway. He'd taken her mom's spot next to the bed, and he was just sitting there watching her. She had to smile. "Hi."
His smile back was much nicer than hers. "Hi yourself. Feeling better?"
She did a quick inventory. "No," she answered honestly, "but don't let that stop you." He chuckled. "Angel, what are you doing here?"
"Your mom called Willow, Willow called Giles, and I just happened to be in the library..."
She raised an eyebrow.
"...looking for you," he finished with a sheepish smile. "So I thought I'd come by and check on you."
"How long have you been here?"
She raised an eyebrow.
"A couple hours." If he could the boy would be blushing. She loved it. He looked around for a subject changer and picked up the glass of only-partly-melted ice chips. "Did you need some of these?"
She nodded and reached for the glass, but he brushed her hand aside. "Let me do it."
He settled her back onto the pillow, then reached into the glass. His eyes never left hers. She felt his fingers ease gently between her parched lips.
His hand was nearly as cold as the ice.
The water was cool in her throat; Angel's fingers were cool across her forehead and cheeks. "Mm...feels good," she managed.
"The ice?" He fed her another chip.
"Hm-mm." She covered his hand with her own. "You."
"Oh." He smiled again. Then he set the glass aside and bent down to lay his cheek against hers. Buffy sighed with relief.
"Yeah." He brushed kisses across her face until he could rest against her other cheek. "And you're making me feel warm."
"We're good for each other." She could feel his smile.
The next moment, she was bent double next to him as the water hit her stomach. "Oh, God."
"Shh, it's okay."
It would almost be a help to throw something up, but everything--including what felt like the lining of her stomach--was gone.
"It's okay," Angel said again. "Shh. Try to relax."
"I hate this," Buffy said weakly as she unfolded herself. She curled against him.
"I know. But you'll be better soon."
"I know. Shh. You're gonna be okay."
"Remember to breathe," he said dryly, and made her almost laugh.
Breathing did help, what a surprise, and she found herself relaxing into a doze again. "Oh, better," she murmured. "But hot." All the benefits of the ice had vanished.
"Hold on a sec." She could feel the bed shifting.
"Here we go." He slipped into bed behind her and propped her against his now-bare chest. "Better?"
"Oh. Yeah." In more ways than one. "Nice."
She felt, more than heard, his amused "Thank you. Go to sleep, Buffy."
"'Kay." She'd really have to rethink this healthy thing, she decided.
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