"Come on, love. Open up that pretty mouth and let me slide this in," Nephrite's darkly sensual voice all but purred as he coaxed her.

"Ugh. Jus…go 'way…" Makoto's germy groan was muffed, her aching head buried under her pillow. She inched further under her blankets, burrowing into them and pulling the fat pillow in afterward like the stopper on a thermos bottle. It was disgusting how any man could be so chipper while she was feeling so thoroughly wretched.

Why couldn't he just leave her ALONE in her misery? She didn't want any aspirin. She didn't want any orange juice. She just wanted to be left in peace. To die. And if he came at her with that blasted thermometer one more time…

"Sorry honey. No can do." He lightly tapped the soup spoon against the white comforter lump that he thought was the back of her head.

A congested, mucousy something that might have been, "I hate you," came from under the tangled bedclothes, making him chuckle when it was punctuated by a violent sneeze. Beneath the sheets she couldn't see the smug smile curving his lips, but she knew it was there and it infuriated her. Evil man.

Ruthlessly, Nephrite peeled the pillow away from her, ignoring her ragged curses as she tried to fight him for it. In her flu-weakened state she had about as much chance of fending him off as a newborn kitten. "I've got to take your temperature and you need to drink some hot tea and broth because you need fluids. Ami said."

Makoto squinted at him through blood-shot eyes, snarling like a wounded wolverine. "Go 'way…and take your $#&ing chicken soup with you."

"If you don't let me do this, I'll let Nurse Minako in after you," he informed her cruelly, knowing he'd won when she flinched. She stuck her tongue out at him, though, defiant to the last.

Taking advantage of her open mouth, he poked the glass cylinder of the thermometer between her lips, cutting off any further protests, and smiled at her as his watch ticked off the seconds. Makoto stared at him mutinously with fever-bright eyes and sniffled pitifully. Grabbing a cool damp washcloth, Nephrite smoothed her sweat-matted tangle of curls back from her hot flushed face and marveled how even bed-ridden, potentially contagious and as welcoming as a rabid pit-bull, she still looked good.

It had to be true love.