Hello! I'm pretty sure this fic is mega clichéd and indulgent but I'm ill and I have no shame and I wrote it as medicine haha. This might be trippy. I'm not sure. I'm not entirely coherent right now. Let me know what you think! x
A hand was stroking over her hair and there was a body at her back, a voice. A low, soothing rumble of a voice. Comforting.
Elizabeth wasn't entirely sure what he was saying to her. Her mind was still too foggy and her head throbbing too badly to focus on the words, but the fact that he was there helped, made her feel slightly more anchored in the world rather than drifting in her own thoughts.
It was only a stupid virus, she thought. Just a stupid little virus, and here she was, lying in bed at seven in the evening after finally giving in after all the words on her computer screen had blurred into one and she had asked Blake to call for her car. He had informed her acerbically that her car had been waiting downstairs for her for the past hour, had she cared to heed everyone's instructions to take herself and her illness home earlier in the day.
She'd thought she could power through it.
And she had, mostly. Until she couldn't any more.
So now she was in bed, having stumbled up the stairs upon her arrival at home, pausing only to pull off her shoes and skirt and blouse before collapsing beneath the covers and closing her eyes against the rhythmic lurching of her vision and her stomach. She was pretty sure Henry hadn't been home then.
Now he was, and his fingers were trailing through her hair as he spoke to her with a voice laced with concern.
Wait. Concern? She didn't want Henry to be concerned. She was fine, just drained and tired and fighting a bit of a bug, a bug that the rest of the family had already had the previous week, albeit in a milder form. She needed to make sure Henry wasn't worried.
Elizabeth steeled herself against the nausea she knew to be coming her way and rolled carefully onto her back, dislodging Henry's hand for a moment as she settled back against the pillows. She couldn't stop the discomfited moan as her stomach flipped and an ocean turned tide in the place her brain used to be, sending her momentarily reeling.
"Baby, can you hear me?"
Finally she was able to distinguish some of Henry's words. Elizabeth opened her eyes and blinked drowsily up at him. "Yeah," she said – croaked.
Her eyes felt hot but the rest of her felt cold and she burrowed into her husband where he lay on his side next to her, propped up on one elbow so he could look down at her. His hand smoothed her hair back from her face and he frowned. "You're burning up."
Was she? If only she actually felt like it, because currently she felt like she'd never be warm again. She had managed to ignore it before by falling asleep, but being roused by Henry had reminded her that she was currently feeling rather chilly. "'m fine," she told Henry, aware even as she said it that she didn't sound very convincing.
"You're sick," he corrected, pressing his hand firmly to her forehead so he could get a better read on her temperature. He frowned at the heat he felt coming off her, noting that even though her cheeks were flushed, beneath it she was pale, too pale.
Elizabeth's eyes closed again, her eyelids too heavy to hold open against the light in the bedroom. She just needed to sleep and then she'd be fine in the morning, she was sure of it. Well. Maybe not tomorrow morning. But the morning after that, definitely.
Henry knew it, too, knew that she just had the virus that had taken out him and the kids the previous week while Elizabeth was away on a work trip, but she looked so vulnerable lying ill in their bed that it was making him worry uncontrollably. He told himself he should have stopped her from going to work that morning. He'd known something wasn't quite right when instead of getting straight out of bed when her alarm went off, she had sat on the edge of the mattress for a full minute with her head in her hands before dragging herself off to get dressed.
She'd said she was still tired from the trip, and it had been early and he'd still been half asleep and he'd bought it.
He shouldn't have bought it.
It made him feel guilty, and he felt even more guilty when he arrived home from work to find Elizabeth's security detail already back and Matt her DS agent had stopped him on the way in to warn him that his wife was unwell and had left work early for the day.
Early, of course, being five o'clock, a perfectly reasonable time to leave the office in most professions.
How she'd stuck it out for the entire day Henry wasn't sure, but apparently her stoicism had fallen apart once she arrived home because he had stepped into the foyer to find her purse and briefcase in a heap on the floor, and in their bedroom her clothes were scattered over her side of the bed, and she hadn't bothered to draw the curtains before falling asleep.
The fact that she had come home early was enough to make him worry, but when he climbed onto the bed behind her and found her difficult to rouse, it was possible that the worry got away from him a little bit.
He felt marginally better now that she had acknowledged him semi-coherently, and he knew that she'd be fine in a day or two, but he still couldn't shake the lingering concern. Elizabeth got sick so rarely that it was always a cause for unease. She was always so damn stoical, powering through colds and headaches like they weren't even there, so when she actually gave in to something, Henry knew it was because she felt really rotten.
He leaned down to place a kiss against her forehead. "I'm just going to get you a cool cloth, OK? Then I'll be back."
Elizabeth frowned in her half-slumber, not wanting anything cold against her skin when she was still shivering and trying to get warm. She'd been getting there with Henry's body next to hers, but as he moved away the cool air rushed in to fill the gap and the chill seized her once again. She willed herself to sleep; at least if she was asleep then she wouldn't care so much about being cold. She wouldn't care so much about the rolling headache, either, or the nausea. An involuntary groan escaped her and she willed time to speed up to a point where the stupid virus had burned itself out of her system so she could get back to normal and get back to work.
A minute later, Henry returned to the bed, carefully easing himself across the mattress as he tried not to jostle his wife. She looked up at him again as he settled back next to her, and she even attempted a smile for him, but then it turned into a grimace and her eyes squeezed shut. "Just shoot me, it's fine," she mumbled. "Make this stop."
Henry couldn't help but chuckle even as his heart ached at seeing her so uncomfortable. "Not gonna do that, babe."
"Then get Matt to do it. He has a gun." She shivered and burrowed deeper into the bed covers.
Henry smiled at her softly. "I think that would be in direct contravention of his job description. But nice try." At least she was able to hold a coherent conversation with him, even if it was about being put out of her misery. He smoothed his thumb over her cheekbone and then pressed the cool cloth he had brought from the bathroom against her forehead. She winced as the cold fabric came into contact with her skin, making Henry cringe a little. "Sorry, baby."
She relaxed after a moment, and her face was mostly calm as Henry stroked the cloth over her forehead and cheeks and neck, hoping it might help to make her feel the slightest bit better. Then he dropped the cloth on the bedside table and slid his hand beneath Elizabeth's neck. "Can you sit up a moment? You should drink something."
She really didn't want to move. She'd just decided that Henry moving the cool cloth over her face was quite nice, really, and was relaxing into his soft, soothing motions, and now he wanted her to move? Elizabeth shook her head no even as her throat was sending her signals that a drink of water might be quite a good idea, actually. It had been a while since she'd eaten or drunk anything. "OK," she eventually said.
Her limbs wouldn't cooperate, though, and it was Henry who put in most of the effort to help her sit up, his arms sliding around her to help pull her up and then one hand resting against the back of her neck when her heavy head lolled back on her shoulders. "You're OK," he crooned softly in her ear. "I've got you."
Yeah, he did, didn't he? He had her. That was good. She could let him hold her up for a little bit. She let Henry shift her slightly so he could move in behind her with his legs either side of hers before he pulled her back to rest against his chest. His arms appeared around her to press a cold glass into her hands.
"Here," he said.
She drank from the glass, just a few sips, because she thought any more than that would send her stomach rolling to the point of no return, and then Henry took the glass away and she leaned back against him and let her head fall back against his shoulder. It was then that she noticed he'd pulled away the duvet she had been burrowed under and she reached out for it, blinking blearily and trying to find the cover.
Henry's hands closed around hers to stop her, stilling her movements and wrapping his arms around her securely. "You'll overheat with that," he told her. "Your temperature's too high, babe."
"'s cold, though," she protested, but even as she did so she felt sleep starting to tug at her as her body was finally able to relax properly, finally feeling safe and secure now that she was surrounded by her wonderful husband.
His arms flexed around her. "I know," he said. "But I'll keep you warm."
She was silent for so long he thought she'd fallen asleep. Then she said, her voice sounding far away, "You'll stay here?"
The slight hint of insecurity renewed his protective instincts and he dropped his head to press a kiss to her temple. "I'll stay here," he promised.
Elizabeth shifted in his arms to get comfortable and then her breathing slowed as she drifted off to sleep. Henry leaned back against the headboard with the comforting weight of his wife against his chest, listening to her slightly rasping, uneven breathing. The unnatural heat in her skin warmed him and he knew that his body around hers would keep her warm enough, even as she continued to shiver occasionally against him as the fever confused her nerves.
He was just thinking that he could drift off to an early sleep himself when Elizabeth stirred against him, her hair brushing against his chin. "Henry?" she mumbled.
"Yeah?" he replied. He waited for her to speak again, but nothing ever came and it took him a minute to realise that her half-spoken question had been a simple one, and didn't require any further clarification.
He smiled as he thought that no matter how complicated their lives might be, ultimately it would always be the simple things that mattered. He tightened his arms around Elizabeth to make sure she could feel him. Then he answered her question as he felt himself being pulled towards slumber. "Yeah," he said, his lips against her hair, his heart beating close to hers. "Yeah, babe. I'm here."