Disclaimer:

I am in no way associated with CBS, Bruckheimer Productions, A.E. Zuiker, CSI or the characters within.

I am making no money from this story. It is for entertainment purposes only.


Summary:

Nick's patience is wearing thin when a high fever leaves Greg wanting Special Soup, Silly Sandwiches, and Puddin'. Fluff. Very Mild Slash.


A/N:

This story has not been beta'd.


Nick trudged up the front porch stairs and reached into his mailbox. He leafed quickly through the bills and junk mail before taking out his keys. As he turned the doorknob, a slight movement to his left caught his attention.

"What the - -? Greg, are you alright."

Greg was seated on the porch floor with his knees pulled tight against his chest and a CSI winter parker wrapped tightly around him.

"No," replied a raspy voice from under the jacket's hood.

Nick dropped to his knees to examine his partner. "Are you hurt?"

"Sick," Greg squeaked, barely lifting his head. "And cold."

"It's blistering hot out here today. How can you be cold? Jesus, G, you've got a fever. Your burning up."

"Ya think?"

"We'd better get you to a doctor."

"Been there." Greg reached into his pocket and pulled out a prescription bag from the drugstore. "Flu," he said, thrusting the bag in Nick's direction.

"Greg, why are you sitting out here? Why didn't you go inside?"

"No keys. I locked them in my car outside the drugstore. Had to take a cab home."

"Why didn't you call me? I would have come to pick you up."

"I locked my cell phone in the car too."

"Okay, G. Let's get you inside. Can you stand?"

"Uh-huh."

Nick got to his feet, but Greg didn't move.

"Greg?"

"Yeah?'

"You're not standing."

"I'm not?"

"Boy, you really are sick. Up you go."

Greg let out a sorrowful moan as Nick pulled him to his feet and then onto his shoulder fireman style."

"Everything's spinning" Greg groaned.

"Just don't spew on me, G, please." Nick kicked the door closed with his foot and lowered Greg onto the couch. His shivering body seemed boneless as Nick removed the parker. "Jeez G, you're soaking wet. You're sweating like you've just run a marathon."

"S-so cold," Greg stammered through his chattering teeth.

"Okay. Let's warm you up." Nick ushered Greg into the bathroom, lowered the lid on the toilet, sat him down and leaned him against the wall. Nick turned on the shower so that it wasn't too hot, and removed the rest of Greg's clothing along with his own.

"That feels good," Greg sighed as the warm water washed over his cold and aching body. As Nick bathed his partner, he massaged the tense muscles in his back and shoulders, then quickly shampooed Greg's hair with one hand while supporting him with an arm around the waist.

"Stay put," Nick said turning off the water and stepping out of the shower. When the cold air hit Greg's body, all of his muscles tensed and he began to tremble.

Nick returned with a towel wrapped around his waist and stepped back into the shower to dry his now shaking partner. He wrapped Greg in a clean dry towel and sat him down on the toilet seat to dry his hair.

"Thank you, Nicky," Greg croaked as Nick rubbed the towel on his hair.

"No problem, G. Now, what do you want to wear?"

"PJ's. My snuggly PJ's"

"G, you don't have PJ's, snuggly or otherwise."

"Oh," Greg rubbed his blurry eyes then slid back against the wall.

Nick's heart ached at the sight of his partner. He looked more like a sad little boy, than a vibrant thirty-two year old man.

"Wait a minuet, G. I think I've got just what you need."

Nick dug through the back of his closet and found the box left over from his last birthday. Inside was a pair of pajamas his brother had sent as a joke. The card, still attached to the box read; "To my baby bro, so you don't forget where you came from."

Nick smiled at the note and then looked at the photograph on his dresser. The color of the picture had yellowed, but the image was clear as day. It was Nick and his brother on Christmas morning. Nick was about five years old and wearing pajamas similar to the ones in the box. His brother, then about fifteen, was helping him put on a brand new cowboy hat and holster set. The boys wore matching smiles as bright as their Christmas tree. The fact that Nick was missing two of three teeth made his smile appear even brighter.

Nick heard a moan and sniffle from the bathroom, and his mind snapped back to the task at hand. He helped the half-asleep Greg into the pajamas which were clearly too big for him, and grabbed a blanket and pillow from the bed as they shuffled past to the bedroom.

After his patient was comfortably tucked-in on the couch, Nick brought him a glass of water and a pill from the prescription bottle. "Take this and I'll fix you something to eat. What do you feel like having?"

"Soup."

"What kind of soup."

"My special soup."

"Special soup? Oh, you mean the chicken soup?" Nick remembered the large pot of soup Greg had made last month and put into their freezer."

"Yeah, chicken soup." Greg was asleep before Nick opened the freezer.

Nick defrosted the soup in the microwave and brought it in to the living room. He sat Greg upright and held up the bowl. "Wake up, G. Here's the soup you wanted."

"My soup," Greg grinned and took the spoon from the bowl. "Thank you, Nicky." He tasted the soup and quickly pushed the bowl away. "What is that?"

"That's the soup you wanted."

"That's not my soup."

"Yes it is, G. This is the chicken soup you made last month. It's delicious."

"It's disgusting. I want my special soup."

"What soup? Greg you're not making any sense."

"Mom makes me special soup. I want my special soup."

Nick took a closer look at Greg and saw that his eyes were now glazed over and his cheeks bright red. He put a hand on Greg's face and felt his skin burning with fever. Nick retrieved the thermometer from the medicine cabinet and found that Greg's temperature was now 103°.

"Damn, G. I think you need to go to the hospital. You temperature is getting higher."

"I don't want to go to the hospital," Greg said firmly. "I want my special soup!"

"What soup, G? I don't know what you're talking about."

"My mom makes me special soup and silly sandwiches. I want that."

"Okay, G. You lie here and rest. I'll be back in a minuet."

Instead of going to the kitchen, Nick slipped into the bedroom to telephone Greg's mother. "Hi, Phyllis, it's Nick."

"Hi, Nick. Is anything wrong? You sound a bit upset."

"It's Greg."

"Oh God, is he hurt?"

"No, it's nothing like that. He's got the flu. He's a bit out of it, and he keeps asking for your special soup and silly sandwiches."

"Did you take his temperature?"

"Yeah. It's pretty high. 103°. He's been to the doctor and they gave him an antibiotic. I was thinking that maybe I should take him to the hospital, but he won't go. All he wants is your special soup."

"I don't think you need to take him to the hospital. Greg is prone to high temperatures when he gets sick. If it goes any higher, I'd call the doctor's office, but I don't think it's necessary just yet."

"But he's not making any sense. And not in the way he usually doesn't make sense. This is completely different."

"I know, sweetie. I'm sorry to tell you this, but you're going to have your hands full for the next 24 hours or so. When he runs a high fever, Greg tends to get a bit agitated and sometimes a bit delirious. Back when he was in college, he had a temperature of 104° and swore that Papa Olaf and Marilyn Manson were sitting at the foot of his bed singing "Oklahoma."

"No way! The first sign of Marilyn Manson or "Oklahoma," I'm taking him to the emergency room even if I have to tie him up and gag him."

"That won't be necessary, dear. Just humor him, and swab him with rubbing alcohol every hour or so. It will bring his temperature down much faster. Once he's had his soup, he'll stop fussing and go right to sleep. Then you can get some rest. Like I said, you're going to need it."

"What soup, Phyllis? I don't know what either of you are talking about. How do I make your special soup?"

"Calm down, Nicky. It's easy to make. Have you got a pencil and paper so you can write this down?"

"Yeah," Nick said fumbling through his nightstand. Go ahead. I'm ready."

"Okay, the first ting you'll need is a soup pot. The one your mother gave Greg for his birthday will do nicely."

"Okay, I've got it. Go ahead."

"Now go to your pantry cupboard, take out a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, open the can, put it in the pot, heat it up and give it to Greg."

"That's it? Your special soup is Campbell's chicken noodle?"

"Of course. Who do I look like, Rachel Ray? I was a working mom and Campbell's is about as home cooked as it got."

"Well, what about the silly sandwich? What the hell is that?"

"He means a jelly sandwich. Peanut butter and jelly on white bread to be exact. You know that slight lisp Greg gets when he's overtired? Well, when he was little, before the speech therapy, the word jelly always came out sounding like the word silly. The fever must be taking him back to when he was little. If you give him the soup and the sandwich, he'll be asleep before you know it."

"Thanks Phyllis, you're a lifesaver."

"No, Nicky, I'm a mom. I'll call later to see how you're both making out."

"Thanks, Phyllis."

"Give my love to Greg."

"I will."

"Nick?"

"Yes?"

"Love you too."

"Yeah, me too Phyllis. Bye"

Nick heated the can of soup and brought it and the sandwich to the living room. Greg smiled and made yummy noises as he ate. He was asleep before he touched the second half of the sandwich.

With Greg curled in his lap, Nick drifted off to sleep. They napped for about an hour until Greg, struggling to get up from the couch, awakened Nick.

"What's wrong, G? Where are you going?"

"I have to pee."

Nick ushered Greg to the bathroom and waited while he finished. "Sit down so I can take your temperature."

Greg nodded off while Nick held the thermometer in his mouth. "It's still 103°. I'd better give you and alcohol bath like your mom suggested."

Nick didn't bother to unbutton the pajama top. He simply pulled the extra large shirt over Greg's head. He poured some rubbing alcohol onto a washcloth and placed it on Greg's back.

"Shit!" Greg grabbed the towel bar and pulled himself to his feet. "That's cold!"

"I know it is, but I have to do this to get your fever down. Sit back down so we can get this over with."

Greg shivered and twitched as the cold washcloth trailed his skin. "I don't like this." Greg's voice sounded weak and childlike.

"I know, babe, but I have to do it. You'll feel better soon."

Nick finished washing Greg's upper body then rolled up the pajama pants and swabbed his legs. Nick hated putting Greg through this. He remembered what it felt like when he was a child with a high fever and his mother gave him alcohol baths. Greg's goose bumps reminded him that alcohol felt like ice against fevered skin, and the shaking reminded him of how muscles contracting from the cold made his body ache even more.

Nick slid the pajama top over Greg's head and pulled his arms through the sleeves. "All finished. Now let's get you back on the couch and under the cover so you'll be nice and warm again."

Nick covered his patient with the blanket and tucked it in at the sides. Greg gave a faint smile when Nick kissed him on the forehead. "Can I get you anything, G?"

"Puddin'."

"Sorry, G. I can't give you any pudding. The warning on the prescription bottle says that you can't have any dairy products with your medicine. How about some more of your mom's special soup and another silly sandwich?"

"I don't want any soup. I want puddin'."

"What about juice? I have apple juice, and I know you like that."

"I don't want that. I want puddin'."

"Sorry, G. You can't have pudding. I'd give it to you if I could, but it will make you sick."

Greg yanked at the blanket Nick had tucked around him and turned away to curl against the back of the couch. Exasperated, Nick went into the kitchen to make himself a pot of coffee. As he scooped the grounds into the filter, he heard Greg mutter "puddin'," followed by the sound of faint raspy snoring.

The next three hours were exhausting. Greg would thrash in his sleep and kick off the blanket. He'd get up and wander around the room until Nick coaxed him back to the couch and tucked him in again. He'd stopped fussing over the alcohol baths, and barely noticed Nick's presence. Greg would look around him, past him, and through him. The only time he spoke was when Nick asked him if he wanted anything. Greg would mumble "puddin'," and then fall back into a restless sleep.

Nick was half way through his second pot of coffee when the telephone rang. He snatched it up quickly so that it wouldn't awaken Greg, and barked a hostile "Hello," into the receiver.

"God, Nick. You sound awful," Greg's mother replied.

"I'm okay. Just a little tired."

"How's Greg? He hasn't gotten any worse, has he?"

"He's about the same. His temperature is down a bit. He ate some soup and half a sandwich after I talked to you, but I haven't gotten him to eat since then. I give him an alcohol bath every hour like you said, and I've gotten him to drink some water, but that's it. He won't take anything else."

"Is he giving you a hard time?"

"No. He - - He's just restless."

"He's driving you crazy, isn't he, Nick?"

"After a short silence, Nick blurted, "Yes. Yes, he's making me crazy. I love him, and I'd do anything for him, but he's driving me up the wall. He won't stay still. He kicks off his covers and wanders around the room. He won't eat any soup and he doesn't want any silly sandwiches. He won't even talk to me, Phyllis. Not since he asked for some pudding and I told him that he can't have any dairy products while he's taking the medication. He looks right past me like I'm not even here. The only thing he's said for hours is 'pudding.' Over and over just 'pudding.' What is it with him and pudding anyway? Is that a comfort food for him, like your special soup and silly sandwiches?"

"Pudding?"

"Yeah, 'pudding.' Over and over. It's the only thing he says. 'Pudding.'"

"Nick, are you sure he asked you for pudding?"

"Yes, Phyllis. The word is burned into my brain. It's the only thing he's said for three hours. Pudding, pudding, pudding!"

"Nick, did he say he wanted pudding, or did he say puddin'."

"He said puddin',' why?" - - - - "Phyllis, are you still there?"

"Yes, I'm here. I was just thinking. Nick, Puddin' was a stuffed animal. A dog to be exact. Greg got him for Christmas when he was about three years old. He took Puddin' everywhere. It was sort of a security blanket for him. He ate with it, he slept with it, and I had to pry it out of his hands when he left for school each morning. He even had it packed away in his things when he got his first apartment. I found it in one of the boxes when I helped him unpack. I know this sounds silly to you. A grown man keeping something like that, but it was very important to him."

As Nick listened, he thought about the small blue blanket tucked away in their bedroom closet. He remembered the day Greg found it. He was mortified, and steadied himself for some hard-core teasing. Instead, Greg gave him an enormous kiss. He said that having kept his wobbie made Nick even sexier.

"Phyllis, where's Puddin' now?"

"Your guess is as good as mine. I think it may have gotten lost when Greg moved to Los Vegas. Several of his boxes disappeared during shipping, and the moving company gave him an insurance check to cover the loss. Maybe Puddin' was in one of those boxes."

"Thanks, Phyllis. You helped a lot. I think I'll move him into the bedroom now. Maybe he'll be more comfortable if he's in his own bed."

"Nick, try and get some rest. I know how exhausting it can be when he's like this. He doesn't mean to be difficult. It's the fever that's doing it."

"It's alright, Phyllis. Now that I know what's bothering him, I can handle it. I'll give you a call later, okay?"

"Okay, Nick. I love you both."

"Love you too, Phyllis. Bye."

Nick coaxed Greg into the bathroom for another alcohol bath, convinced him to drink some water and then tucked him into bed.

"Greg, where's Puddin'?"

"I don't know."

"Did the movers loose him when you moved to Vegas?"

"Uh-huh. I don't know where he is, and now he's all alone."

Nick felt helpless. With everything they'd been through over the past few years, they'd always found comfort and support in each other. Now, the only thing Greg wanted was Puddin', and he'd disappeared years ago. Nick knew that it was only the fever talking, but Greg looked so sad and lost it broke his heart.

Nick went to the closet and took his carefully folded baby blanket down from the shelf.

"G, I know that it's not the same, but you can have my woobie. Maybe you'll sleep better if you snuggle with this."

Greg sat up slightly, and for the first time in hours focused on Nick and the small blue cloth in his hands. "Thanks, Nicky." Greg took the blanket and managed a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. Nick knew that the smile was more for his comfort than anything else. Greg pulled the blanket against his chest and curled into the covers.

Nick telephoned work to inform them that he wouldn't be in for the next shift, and then kept watch over Greg as he continued to mumble and thrash in his bed. Eventually, Nick shed his own clothes and slipped under the covers. His woobie, now tossed to the foot of the bed, had been no comfort at all.

Nick watched his partner fidget in bed until his own exhaustion took over and his eyes fluttered closed. He was almost asleep when he felt Greg snuggle against him. Greg threw one leg over Nick's, wrapped an arm around his waist and sighed contentedly into Nick's shoulder. "Puddin'. I missed you, Puddin'."

"I missed you too," Nick replied sadly. If he couldn't be the source of his partner's comfort, at least Greg's thinking he was the long lost Puddin' might help.

"Puddin' - - Nicky, Nicky Puddin'," Greg snuggled.

"Nicky Puddin'?" Nick pushed the hair back from Greg's face and saw the large brown eyes looking up at him.

"Yeah. You're my Nicky Puddin'. I love you Nicky Puddin'."

"I love you too, G."

They both slept soundly through the rest of the night with Greg snuggled against Nick, and Nick holding Greg's arm and his woobie tight against his chest.

End.

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