Authors Note: I've been doing what little research there is on this subject to come, to make this story seem realistic as possible, please bear with me for it. Standard disclaimers apply for every chapter. Please RR. I can't stress that enough! Okay, (sigh and smile) here goes nothing…
"Love does not end
just because you stop seeing each other."
"That's not my kind of love."
"Maybe there is no other kind."
-The End of the Affair.
She woke up in the middle of the night again, covered in a slick sweat. She couldn't remember if she had a nightmare, she didn't think she had but lately her memory was vague. Her body was physically and emotionally exhausted. She trembled.
She quietly slipped out of her bed, the room teetering. She slowly made it to her bathroom and sat against the cool tile, willing her stomach to cooperate. Her nightgown was clinging to her body tightly because of the sweat. She shivered again. She felt her stomach lurch and she lifted the lid, and held on, that was all she could do through the heaves. Her body ached, her head ached, the room spun, and she was just so exhausted.
She finished finally, and turned the shower on, stepping out of her damp gown, listening as it slid to the ground with a sickening splat, and slipped under the spray reveling in its warmth.
This was going to another long night.
She managed to make it through without another incident, but she hadn't slept much. She had tossed and turned the night away, and when she finally did sleep for maybe two hours, she woke up sweating again.
Coming down the stairs, dressed and ready for work she was relieved that she looked fine, felt decent, and only had a little headache. Maybe she was kicking this thing after all.
Sandy was leaning against his usual spot on the counter, tie loose, hair askew and a smile on his face. He was sipping his coffee watching Seth babble on incessantly about Summer, while Ryan, nose deep in a textbook nodded and said "Uh huh," on occasion. He had probably heard that story a hundred times. She breezed in and got herself a cup of coffee and a soft kiss on the cheek from Sandy.
He noticed instantly. "You feel okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just tired," she forced a smile.
Ryan looked at her, than to Sandy, then back to her and continued to read.
Seth continued his babble, never missing a beat in saying "Hello mother, my you look spiffy this morning."
"Thanks sweetie," she said fixing her coffee and leaning against Sandy to focus on Seth's unremitting chatter with a smile on her face.
Kirsten Cohen placed her warm forehead on the coolness of her desk. Putting her head down managed to stop the room from spinning so much. She closed her eyes, praying for just five minutes of rest. Five minutes to where the room didn't spin, or even spin as fast, and the headache would just go away.
She had again managed to not wake Sandy up the night before, launching herself out of bed making it to the bathroom just in time where she clung to the toilet. She heaved until she thought she was going to pass out and was amazed that she hadn't. She was covered in sweat and her body shook. She ran water over her face, cooling the intense heat radiating from the skin. She looked like hell, dark circles around her eyes, her face looking drawn and pale. She must have the flu, it had been going around and her father had just recovered from it. Somehow she managed to stagger back into bed without him knowing.
"Kiki, I'm going to need those plans. Do you have them ready?" Caleb Nichol strode in her office and frowned. His daughter looked like hell.
"You feel okay Kiki? Is Sandman beating you? I would be more than glad to take him out," he gave her a dark grin.
She gave him a 'look.' "No dad I'm just tired."
He studied her. Her face looked thinner than normal, dark circles were accenting the normally bright blue eyes, even they were dull and glazed looking.
"Have you eaten today?"
"Yeah," even though it was only some toast and crackers. Whatever she could keep from coming back up she was happy with.
She handed them the latest model home plans. Even that was an effort and her hand shook.
He frowned. "Maybe you should take the rest of the day off."
"I'm fine dad, I just have a little headache."
"Okay then," he kissed her cheek before striding out of her office and she collapsed again on her desk.
"Please someone shoot me now," she mumbled to no one in particular.
She decided afterwards she was going to go home early from work and take up that offer her dad threw out there for her.
The dull throb in her head was enough to make her decision and to top it off her body ached like she had been playing tackle football. A dull pain was in her back, and her legs ached in a constant slow thump.
She was nauseous even though she had only eaten a bagel that morning, toast and crackers for lunch.
Driving home was a struggle in its own self. Her exhaustion made her just want to fall asleep at the wheel even though she didn't have a far drive.
She managed to make it to the couch before she collapsed, her head thumping heartily with the effort it took to drag her body to the piece of furniture. The couch had never felt so wonderful in all its years here. Her body seemed to mold to the comfortable cushions and she didn't think she could get up if she tried.
'What the hells wrong with me?' she thought before silently placing a hand over her face, blocking out all incoming light.
The flu had indeed been going around but this was more than the flu or at least it felt like it. 'Maybe it was the super-flu like the Stephen King book The Stand,' she smiled wistfully at the thought. She and Sandy had read that book together; he would read the gross parts and summarize them for her because she got the creeps when she read the book.
"It just makes me feel, gross, like icky, like I'm sick or going to get sick."
He raised an eyebrow, "Icky? Kirsten, it's supposed to make you feel gross it's about the flu. How many books do you know about the flu that make you feel good?" He looked at her with an expression of amusement.
She hit his arm softly, "You know what I mean."
"Well if you feel icky we can go take a shower!"
It was her turn to raise the eyebrow, "Hmm really now?"
"Yes, really now!" He had a grin on his face that could stretch to china.
"I'll have to think about it," she teased him.
He pouted. Then his face lit up like a kid at Christmas. He picked her up over his shoulder and carried her up the steps to the shower, listening to her yell that "This isn't fair, Sanford Cohen!"
"Honey I love when you use my whole name, sounds so sexy," he laughed.
She reached down and smacked his butt. Hard. It was the only thing within reach.
He turned the water on and actually put her in the shower with her clothes on. Before she had time to protest or get out, he kissed her deeply, silencing her complaints. Yeah, he made it worth it that day.
That was a good memory. They didn't nearly read together as much as they used to do. She should get up, go drink some water, or take a shower, and then take some Tylenol or some sort of pain reliever anything to stop the pain that ran through her forehead like a freight train. But those thoughts took up energy and getting off the couch took up energy. In fact when she reached up behind her to pull the blanket down over her now freezing body that seemed to take all the energy she had, just moving her arm. She pulled the blanket down around her body the best she could. Her teeth were chattering, and her body shuddered against her will.
'Maybe a nap, it'll go away, I'll feel well enough to function,' she thought.
She wanted a hot bath, and sleep, and Sandy. She wanted heat and the comfort that her only her husband could give her.
He always took care of her when she was sick, and just the general comfort of Sandy was enough to calm her down in her most ill moments. Now granted she almost broke his hand while she was having contractions with Seth, but still his presence was calming.
Normally she would have yelled for him to come sit with her while she was throwing up last night, but in truth she was scared herself, and she really didn't have the opportunity to yell. It wasn't normal sickness if there was such a thing: she had been vomiting heavily. Her body shook and she literally HAD to hold on to the toilet for support. She was surprised she hadn't woken Sandy up she knew she wasn't the least bit quiet, and the way she dragged her sluggish body to and from the bed wasn't exactly tip-toe quiet either. Her body hurt when she was done and it physically ached like someone had hit her with a sledgehammer in her stomach and shoulders. Underneath her arms hurt too.
Her stomach, which had taken to playing soccer, happened to get rid of its contents earlier in the week too and that's the one of the reasons why she didn't wake him. He would be worried and hounding her to go the doctor. There was no need when it was just the flu.
She had also gotten sick Monday and Wednesday morning at the office, though those weren't half as bad. Maybe because during the night she had gotten rid of most of what she had eaten during the day.
Maybe something was really wrong…
She groaned as she rolled her weak body over on its side, and her shaky lead hand covered herself the best she could before she succumbed to the welcome realm of sleep.
She was still passed out on the couch when he came home. He had called her cell but she hadn't answered it. He had called the house phone too but no answer there either.
When he crept over to the couch he kneeled down in front of her, placing a cool hand on her forehead before he tucked a piece of hair behind her ears. Her eyes fluttered, she struggled to focus and then managed a smile when she saw he was home.
He leaned down and gentle placed a kiss on her temple, "Hey gorgeous."
"Hey," she whispered.
"You feeling okay?" He was concerned.
"Mmm, I'm just tired," she offered and he accepted but continued to look at her with love and worry. 'Just tired, and sore.'
"You're home early," she commented, yawning.
"Yeah, my court date was canceled," he was frustrated as he ran a hand through his hair then he started pulling off his tie.
She stretched slowly and noted that her headache had faded and she was no longer queasy. In fact, she felt fine.
She looked up at his handsome face, he was tired and she reached up and caressed the side of his face with her hand. He closed his eyes and leaned against her comfort.
Her eyes spoke to him. 'You look tired.'
'So do you,' his replied.
He ran a hand through her hair again, un-tucking the piece that he had placed gently behind her ears, before his hand ran down her shoulders, down her ribs and came to rest on her waist.
He raised an eyebrow of concern and ran his hand over her ribs. Kirsten had always been thin, but even he thought she had lost some weight.
"Baby, you sure you feel okay?" He murmured his hand brushing her cheek.
He watched her eyelids droop a little and she sighed. She was struggling to stay awake. She didn't want to tell him that. Her body ached. 'Actually Sandy, my bones hurt, my head was/is throbbing it can't seem to make up its mind, and my stomach is playing tennis with itself. In truth I would like to have a morphine drip or someone to shoot me, putting me out of my misery.'
Or the latter, she could simply say, 'I feel like shit.'
"I'm fine Sandy, I'm just tired, that's all," she mumbled softly tugging at his hand and shifting slowly so he could come up on the couch with her.
He crawled in behind her, moving her so that he could take the burden of the weight she carried. His gentle hands soothingly rubbed her back, trying to relieve stress and relax her at the same time. One hand expertly swept her hair away and he placed a soft kiss on her back where the skin was exposed. He felt her shiver beneath his touch. The more he ran his hands over her body the more worried her became; she was thin, dreadfully gaunt-like prisoner-of-war thin.
"Honey, have you lost weight?"
"I don't think so…" but she knew she had with all the vomiting she had been doing lately.
"Kay'," he whispered softly as he placed another kiss along her shoulder and felt her relax into his embrace.
He let her lie fully against him, her head resting on his chest, most of her body entangled with his. He loved lying like this with her. In seconds she was sound asleep his arm across her back and her hand grasping his shirt.
He was worried.
It was close to five when the boys got home and Sandy was jostled awake by the shutting of the door. He looked down at this wife and she hadn't heard anything she was still sound asleep.
"Dad where's –" Seth was cut off by a stern look from his father along with one finger against his lips telling him to be quiet.
"Dad, where's mom?" He whispered.
"She's sleeping, she's not feeling good," his voice rumbled. Sandy couldn't help it, when he had to talk low his voice went into James Earl Jones mode. Kirsten always told him it was very sexy and she always gave him a look to go along with her smile.
"You have the sexiest voice when it dips low," she smiled at him, her hand brushing his cheek.
"I do?" His voice rumbled again.
"Very. Mr. James Earl Jones, the second."
He stuck his tongue out at her. "You love me."
She grinned at him this time. "I do."
Ryan peeked over the couch. "She hasn't been feeling good for a while," he stated.
Sandy raised an eyebrow and Ryan shrugged and gave him a look that said, 'Well she hasn't.'
Seth darted his eyes between the two, "She has seemed a little lethargic, I guess, I mean, I don't know, more tired. I thought it was just work."
Sandy managed to disentangle Kirsten from his grasp and then scooped her up in his arms, and began to carry her towards their bedroom.
"Awe Dad, that's so romantic," Seth gushed jokingly. Ryan however jumped in front of him and took the steps two at a time to open the door for Sandy. He noticed Sandy's attitude wasn't his normal everything's fine, happy-go-lucky. Sandy was worried. Therefore so was Ryan. Sandy would later swear the kid has ESP or something. Ryan was so used to judging whether his mother was in a good mood or not, he just kind of knew when things weren't right.
"Thanks kid," he said as he carried her past Ryan.
She looked pale, and almost helpless in Sandy's arms. When he laid her down on the bed it looked like one of the scenes shown in romantic movies like she was going to wake up and confess her love to him. But she didn't.
In fact she slept through dinner.
It was rather quiet around the table, Seth was a little more reserved but he still managed to crack jokes and tell on Ryan about his AP classes, as he had managed to meet and greet a new student there.
"Smacked her dad, right in the face, like POW," he gestured excitedly with his hands.
Ryan stopped mid bite. "It wasn't like POW." He looked at Sandy helplessly.
"Okay, maybe a soft POW," he offered looking down at the table.
Sandy laughed softly shaking his head back in forth, his eyes glancing over his sons. Ryan suppressed a grin and
"I guess you just had to be there," Sandy offered.
Ryan just shook his head, "Trust me, and be glad you weren't."
Kirsten was dreaming.
At first the dream started as black and white, but as she paid more attention it came into focus. Her family was present and so was a little baby girl. They were in the house. Sandy was holding her close against him. He had tears streaming down his face and he smiled sadly at her. Both Seth and Ryan were standing over him, looking down at the baby. They both had faces that resembled the most somber statue. The little baby cooed softly and all three boys managed a small smile. She stuck her little hand up in the air and Ryan bent over and put his pinky in her little palm. She giggled. Ryan gave a half-smile. Seth turned away and wiped a tear from his cheek.
Sandy spoke gravely. "She's her mother."
"Yeah," Ryan whispered.
Seth wiped away another tear. "I miss her."
Sandy looked up at him. "I know, son. Me too."
It occurred to Kirsten that she was nowhere in the picture. And her boy's had on suits.
Black suits. The kind you wear to a funeral.
Seth picked up the most recent Chrismukkah card, focusing on his mother. She leaned against Sandy, her arm around Seth, Ryan sat down between Kirsten and Sandy, and even he was smiling.
She was smiling and she was happy.
Seth bit his lip and glances nervously at the clock. "Dad, we um… its time for us to go…."
Sandy looked up, his face crestfallen. Ryan unhooked his finger from the baby's. He stood, straightening out his suit. He looked at the floor.
An uneasy silence filled the room.
"Time to go," Ryan echoed solemnly. He didn't want to go.
Sandy looked down at the baby reluctant to let her go. He placed her in her bassinet and stood.
Sandy straightened out his suit, and that was the first time she got a look at his face. Then, she knew, she knew by the way he looked and the way he acted that she had died.
She bolted awake, taking in a deep breath and wiping the sweat away from her face. 'Jesus Christ, that, was scary, and so realistic,' she thought taking another deep breath.
She went into the bathroom she needed to freshen up, to dim the memory that lingered.
Sandy slowly walked up the steps he paused and listened, hearing the bathroom water running. 'Well, she must be up, maybe she's feeling better.'
She had managed to drag her fatigued body to the bathroom, washed her face, and brushing her teeth. She wanted a shower but she didn't think she would have the strength.
Sandy knocked on the door and she told him to come in. "Hey gorgeous," he said kissing her neck.
"Hey handsome," she said back, finishing brushing her teeth. She thought of the idea, if Sandy was in the shower with her, she could at least lean on him and know she wouldn't faint and bust her head open on something and die in there.
It was a win-win situation.
She started to run the shower and stripped down in front of him, knowing her couldn't refuse her for anything. His eyes wandered over her naked body as it slipped from view into the depths of the shower.
He heard her voice call out, "Coming?"
"Please, like I would pass this up?"
She knew him too well.
"There would have to be a supernatural reason why I wouldn't be in the shower with you, with a police force the size of Texas, and a bunch of spiders surrounding the house. Even then they couldn't keep me away from you."
He heard her chuckle from underneath the rush of water.
"Well, okay maybe the spiders," he said chucking his shirt into the corner.
He climbed in with her, appreciatively giving her body the once over before moving against her. He felt her lean against him a little more than normal and again that night he supported her weight. She leaned up and kissed him apologetically, but it was okay with him, he never minded. He grabbed a washcloth, lathered it up and went to work.
He started at her shoulders, dipping down to her collarbone and the sleekness of her stomach. She turned around and he went over the top of her shoulders, down her shoulder blades, to the lower places on her back. She arched against his touch and she loved that he could still do that to her. He could always make her feel better.
She went downstairs after she had gotten out the shower with Sandy. She grabbed a bagel and some cream cheese, sat down at the table and ate. She had been hungry but nothing was exactly appetizing. She figured this would stay down.
Later in bed she was leaning against him and he was going over a case file. The case file was in one hand, while the other arm was wrapped around her. She had managed to lie against his shoulder and the free hand tousled with her hair. He turned slightly and pressed his lips against her temple. She had given up trying to read with him, the words were blurring together so she had just closed her eyes laying there enjoying his comfort.
Even though he was reading his case file, he kept sneaking glances at his wife. He was worried about her. It wasn't like her to act so helpless. Maybe it was the flu; he knew Caleb had just gotten over a bad bout of it. That's probably all it was.
He was up well into the night reading going over case files, making sure everything was in order. She had long ago fallen asleep occasionally mumbling and rolling over and she was sweating. He would let a free hand cascade softly down her back, and she would quiet under his touch.
He sat there going through the case when she leapt out of bed and rushed to the bathroom, barely making it before she started to throw up. He paused for a half-second before leaping off the bed after her. As he crouched behind her, he expertly swept the hair away from her face and wrapped an arm around her body for support, she leaned against him more and he held her up.
Again, for the third time that evening.
'God, I'm so weak,' she thought to herself when she totally collapsed against him. She was dizzy, terribly dizzy. The room simply spun she couldn't even support herself without his help.
He went to go grab a washcloth when she pulled herself up against the toilet and started her second round of heaving.
"We're going to the hospital," he stated firmly. "This is more than just the flu."
She just looked up at him miserably and she wanted to tell him 'No' but she knew he was right.
'Just shoot me Sandy. No hospital just put me out of my misery. Shoot me. Oh, and can you make the room stop spinning for a second or two?'
He flushed the toilet and took the cool cloth laying it against her forehead. He could feel heat radiate through it. He leaned her against the tub, not knowing if she was entirely finished or not and knowing that she wasn't exactly her strongest she would collapse without his help.
He went into his room and gathered her a sweatshirt and sweatpants, and handed them to her. He then leaned up and kissed her softly on the forehead. "Be right back sweetheart. You okay?" She nodded.
He walked to Seth's room and knocked, the boy hardly stirred. Sandy wasn't surprised -Seth could sleep through a freight train.
"Seth, wake up, I'm taking your mom to the hospital."
He rolled over.
"Seth." Sandy waited a few seconds. "Seth?" Still nothing. "SETH!"
"Wha? What Dad?" He mumbled rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
"I'm taking your mom to the hospital. She's sick."
Seth sat up in bed. "Do you want me to go with you?"
"No son, I just wanted you to know where we were going, I'll call you, okay?"
"Okay dad," he mumbled rolling over falling back asleep, something only a teenager could manage.
He went out to wake Ryan to let him know they were going and was surprised to find Ryan awake, studying on his bed.
"Hey kid, Kirsten's sick, so we're going to the hospital."
Ryan looked concerned, "Is she all right? What's wrong? Can I go with you?"
"Take it easy son, I think she just has the flu. She can't keep anything down, she's running a fever and she's pretty weak."
"I'm coming with you," he said standing up.
Ryan cut him off. "Look I'll drive, that way if she gets sick, well you know," he said softly, not looking directly at him, praying he would let him go. Kirsten meant more to him than he ever let on.
Sandy contemplated the thought. It was a good idea. "Okay, fine. Lets go."
They walked out the pool house together, and into the main house where Sandy called up the steps. "Honey you ready?"
"Shit," he whispered as he bounded up the steps two at a time. Ryan followed at his heels.
Opening the bathroom door, Kirsten had managed to get dressed, but her stomach was fighting with itself again.
"Oh honey, I'm sorry I left you alone, I thought you were okay, I'm sorry."
She waved him off. 'Apology accepted, not your fault.'
Sandy rushed to her side.
"Sandy I'm going to grab the car, and a bucket," Ryan stated, turning a little green. He wasn't good with people throwing up it made him oddly nervous. His heart fluttered more when people were sick and he kind of just wanted to run for the hills. It was weird but with Kirsten, he didn't want to run for the hills he wanted to hold her hand and tell her that it was going to be okay. He shook his head.
"I'm sorry sweetie," she whispered to him weakly, managing to get her breath.
"Its okay, Kirsten." He gave her one last worried look before rushing down the stairs.
As he flew down the steps he was scared. She looked horrible and he was petrified. He stopped in a closet and grabbed a bucket, and then he stopped at the couch and grabbed a blanket. In the midst of him running around he had managed to write Seth a note, he knew how the kid could sleep and wasn't exactly coherent when someone first woke him. Then he grabbed Seth's phone from his desk and put it in his pocket.
We took Kirsten to the hospital, she's pretty sick. I don't know what's wrong but I'm driving them there. I took your phone, call me when you get up and I'll tell you what I know.
He figured that would have to do.
He pulled the Rover, tossing the stuff he had grabbed into the back seat, pulled up the front of the house and went upstairs where Sandy was sitting with Kirsten rubbing her shoulder. She was leaning heavily against him, looking miserable but at least she had stopped throwing up. Ryan didn't think she was going to be able to walk very far, if anything.
"Okay. C'mon baby lets go," he said getting on his feet, gentle pulling her with him.
She struggled and he pulled her gently to her feet and she swayed, her knees not wanting to hold her body weight up.
"Ryan, little help," he struggled holding her up, not having the greatest advantage point.
Ryan came up behind her put his arms around her holding her up while Sandy swooped down under her and picked her up in his arms.
He watched as her arms weakly reached up and wrapped around his neck. She leaned up and kissed his cheek before resting her head against his body, closing her eyes. She was physically exhausted. But she knew Sandy would keep her safe. As long as she had him, she would be just fine through this whole ordeal. It was amazing the persona of someone, how it could affect one person, how he could affect her.
Getting in the car was a little more difficult with two but once he was in, Sandy appreciated the blanket and he wrapped it around her shivering body. He gathered her in his arms, holding her close. He looked down at her, pressing a gentle kiss to her temple. "I love you," he whispered. She smiled against him. "I love you too," she managed to whisper weakly.
Ryan drove to HOAG a little over the speed limit.
He knew she had to be dehydrated from the vomiting and the fever that Sandy said she had been running.
He gulped and hoped she was okay, just the flu. He didn't want to think what if it wasn't, 'Just the flu' as Sandy kept calling it. But then again what else was Sandy going to call it, because to him that's all he thought it was. 'What else could it be?' he thought unconsciously to himself.