Sick

A/N: I wanted to explore what would happen if a now living Casper fell ill again. I opted for American vocabulary here.

Winter arrived in Maine early this year. It was only November, but already there was a cold, biting wind, especially around Whipstaff Manor. Casper McFadden always hated this time of year, which so many associated with happiness, joy, and mirth. While he enjoyed Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, this time of year always reminded him of what had happened to him over a hundred years prior, and though it was a lifetime ago, the memory of his death still lingered in his mind.

Casper had been "revived" two years earlier, and the now twenty year-old was home with Kat from college for the Winter break. This was their last year of school, and it could not have come sooner for the couple. Kat's father, the once nationally renowned parapsychologist Dr. James Harvey, kept busy with his work, though his roster of patients had been dwindling, until finally The Ghostly Trio (and, occasionally, Casper) was his only clients. He could be heard in the library trying to get through yet another marathon session with the less-than-willing Trio. The Trio drove him to the brink of madness so often that sometimes the Doctor himself felt he should go see a therapist. Kat, citing she needed a break from studying the assignments she had to do over the break, was out and about with an old high school friend, Christmas shopping at several boutiques in town. That left Casper alone in his room, sitting on the bed and pensively staring out at the sea.

Dr. Harvey had finally been able to get the heater working after it had been malfunctioning for a few days, which caused all living inhabitants of the house to wear multiple layers of clothing. While everyone else had shed their layers hours ago, Casper still opted to wear his two long-sleeved shirts and wool sweater. He sat on his bed, musing. Maybe he was musing too hard, as he soon felt a bit weak. Feeling a bit too warm, Casper made to pull the dark green sweater over his head, but soon realized that he was sweating profusely. "Oh God, what's happening?" he thought in panic. A floor below, Casper heard the sound of a key scrape in the lock on the front door. Kat must be home. Not wanting to be found like this, Casper ran into the bathroom, and leaned against the door, breathing hard. Casper quickly shed the sweater and ran into the bathroom, locking the door. "Casper? I'm home, baby," Kat shouted. When she was not greeted with her customary cheerful reply, Kat became concerned. Casper heard her soft footsteps retreat in the direction of the library, no doubt in search of her fiancé.

Relieved, Casper looked up at his reflection in the mirror. It was far worse than he expected. His pale skin was waxy and glistening with sweat, and dark circles rimmed his eyes, just below the lower lid. Casper took one of his shirts off, and stepped closer to the mirror. He turned on the cold water tap to the maximum cold temperature, and splashed water on his face. While soothing, it did not help his appearance. He knew what happened the last time he looked and felt like this. The illness ended in his death. How could this have happened? Sure, it was cold outside, but he had enough sense to wear warm clothing, and when the heater was on the fritz, he wore multiple layers indoors. He could he Kat's voice calling for him, her footsteps getting closer by the second. He was so panicked, he felt like he was going to be sick. Before he could ruminate further on this, he threw himself at the sink and vomited. Kat heard this, and followed the sound. "Casper!" she shrieked, and began to pound on the bathroom door, frantically trying to open it. A few seconds later, after his stomach had emptied itself for the time being, Casper blindly groped for the doorknob, and unlocked it. Kat embraced him, and he leaned against her chest, breathing heavily. Kat put a hand on his forehead. "God, you definitely have a fever," she whispered worriedly. She stripped off his shirt and pants, leaving him in just his boxer shorts. There wasn't any time for modesty.

She led Casper to the bed, pulled back the bedcovers, and helped Casper slide underneath them, and directed him to lie on his side so he wouldn't choke on his own vomit. She then walked back to the bathroom and withdrew a thermometer from the medicine cabinet mounted above the sink. When she reentered the room, she went over to the bed and stuck the thermometer firmly beneath Casper's underarm. Kat sat down on the bed beside him, and rubbed his back soothingly. Kat stared at the steadily climbing numbers on the thermometer, until half a minute later, the thermometer went off, and she withdrew the thermometer. "It's 101.2 degrees," she said calmly, trying hard not to panic. "I'll go get Dad. I know he's not exactly trained for this type of medicine, but he can probably help," Kat said. "Looks like you'll get some nursing practice," said Casper weakly. Kat smiled slightly and then ran downstairs to her father, and relayed the events that had just happened.

Within seconds, Kat and Dr. Harvey were back upstairs and in Casper's room. "Well," began Dr. Harvey, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck. "I haven't done this in a while, but they did teach us some basic assessment skills," he said.

"Actually," Dr. Harvey said, struck with an idea, "You could get some practice in, Kat," he said. "He's vomiting and has a fever. What does that tell us?"

"Dad! This isn't House!" exclaimed Kat, exasperated.

"I know, but sometimes you'll encounter a situation that hits close to home, and you have to deal with it in the most professional manner possible," said Dr. Harvey.

"Well," said Kat after a pause, "It could be any number of things," she mused. "Um…it could be…food poisoning, viral gastroenteritis, appendicitis…" said Kat, ticking off illnesses on her fingers.

"Right," said Dr. Harvey. "And what should you do now?"

"An exam. I—wait, that's your job!" she exclaimed.

"Not necessarily, but...in this case, it is," said Dr. Harvey.

Dr. Harvey pulled up a chair from one end of the room and seated himself next to Casper. "Hey, kid," he said. "What's up?"

"Am I going to die…again? Because I certainly feel that way," Casper stated, looking up sideways at Dr. Harvey, who tried not to laugh at this statement. "Nah, I'm pretty sure you've got viral gastroenteritis...in other words, the stomach flu. You probably picked up from somewhere outside, or in a public place. All you can really do is rest and get plenty of fluids. And avoid eating, of course. You can ease back into that gradually, but you're definitely going to have some time to think about things, as it were," he said.

Casper did have time to think about things—things he didn't necessarily want to think about or remember. Lying supine in bed for hours on end, memories of himself as he lay dying, with his father keeping vigil, flooded his mind. Kat stayed with him as often as possible, and when he was well enough and his fever had broken, she made him bland foods such as rice and bananas. On her insistence, Casper tried a little of each.

That night, as Kat lay stretched out on the sofa fast asleep, Casper was dreaming. He remembered staying behind after his death, and he heard his father's voice reverberate inside his skull. No, damn it, no! I won't leave my son…I've failed. I've failed my boy…

Casper woke with a start, gasping for breath and covered with sweat, his aquamarine blue eyes wide. The commotion was enough to wake Kat, who rushed to her fiancé's side. Dr. Harvey had given Casper a clean bill of health just that afternoon after checking in on him. So now what was going on? Was he having a relapse? "Casper! Casper, what's wrong? Tell me what's wrong," she pleaded breathlessly, gently placing her hands on his shoulders. Casper shook his head to try to clear it. "Nothing…I just…" he said quietly, trying to catch his breath. "A dream. It was just a bad dream." Kat sat on the edge of the bed in silence for a moment. Casper, who had been sitting up, rested his head on the pillow once more. Kat walked around to the other side of the bed and curled up next to him. Casper wrapped an arm around her, and Kat laid her head on his chest. "D' you want to talk about it?" she asked, her voice just above a whisper. Casper hesitated. "It's just…it reminds me so much of…before," he finally stated. Kat understood what he meant by "before". After a moment, Kat said, "That was decades ago. You're fine. We have our whole lives ahead of us. We're together. Tomorrow will be better." And, true to her word, it was.