"How's your headache?" Kirsten asked gently as she brought Ryan a glass of water and two more Tylenol.

"Bad." Ryan admitted.

"Well, maybe these will help." She could tell from the way he looked up at her that he seriously doubted it, but he took the pills from her palm and swallowed them back with a swig of water, then he lay back on the pillow- or tried to, first he had to cough a few times, and Kirsten saw him knuckling his breastbone. "Ryan- are you okay?"

"Yeah, fine, chest just hurts a little." Kirsten frowned. He had been coughing all day, it made sense that his chest might start hurting... But still...

"Let me get you a decongestant, and something to loosen up whatever's in there..." She gestured to his chest. Ryan looked as if he was about to respond, but started to cough again and grabbed a tissue to cover his mouth. Kirsten just patted him gently on the back and went to get him more medicine.

Seth shuffled into the living room with a pile of comic books, "Want one?" He offered it to Ryan.

"No thanks," Ryan said, relieved his brother had decided to switch to a quieter form of entertainment media. He wasn't sure his headache could take any more action movies. He closed his eyes and settled down to get some rest.

The doorbell rang.

Ryan got up and shuffled to the door, but Kirsten beat him there.

"Oh hi Lindsay," She smiled at their visitor.

"Hi Kirsten, is Ryan here? I got an SOS-" She held up a canvas bag, "It's his homework."

Kirsten turned around and shook her head at Ryan, "You're sick, you're supposed to be resting."

"Yes but..." He protested and coughed.

"No buts... Couch, now." He shrugged at Lindsay, coughed a few times, and walked back over to his makeshift sick bed. Behind him he could hear Kirsten thanking Lindsay for coming over and apologizing for not letting her in.

Kirsten came into the living room shaking her head at Ryan, "Ryan, you're supposed to be resting."

"I can't fall behind at school..." He muttered, slightly annoyed at Kirsten. If he wanted to do work- he felt like he should be allowed to do work.

"A few days won't kill you- but if you push yourself, you're just going to delay your recovery, okay?" She kissed his hot forehead. Ryan fumed slightly. He was starting to get annoyed by the childish treatment, and that he hadn't even been allowed to say so much as "hello" to Lindsay. "Here, if you want to read..." She dropped a comic book in his lap. Seth knew enough to stay silent, except for the occasional sniffle.

"Dude, you should not by now not to push The Kirsten." Seth said, when Kirsten walked back into the kitchen to make the boys some more tea. Ryan glared at him and then turned his attention to the comic, but reading made his headache worse. Okay, so maybe homework wouldn't have been such a good idea. He gave up on riding and sighed, which of course brought on another coughing fit. He felt hot and uncomfortable, and his chest hurt. Well, everything hurt and ached... His head, his throat, his chest, his back, his shoulders...

He told himself to stop being such a baby. He had spent the summer without being coddled by a parent.

Ugh, and there had been the stomach bug he had suffered through.

He had woken up one morning at about 2am. Something had rudely pulled him out of his unconcious state, and jolted him a wake. Usually an all but impossible task after a long day of construction in the hot sun.

Oh god- there it was. He leapt out of bed, and stumbled towards the bathroom, barely managing to throw the light switch before he was hunched over the toilet and losing the entire contents of his stomach. He heaved for several moments, and then listened. Theresa stirred but didn't wake. That was good. She worked long hours too, and he didn't need to wake her. His stomach lurched again, but it was just a dry heave.

Finally he stopped heaving long enough to push himself away from the toilet and sat heavily on the floor, wiping the sweat from his brow. He wasn't sure if it was a fever or the suffocating heat of the bathroom. He stood on shaking legs, and rinsed his mouth out with a swig of mouthwash, and then stumbled back to bed like a drunk man, swaying dizzily as he crossed the carpeted floor, and then sank down onto the sagging mattress, as far away from Theresa and her body heat as possible. Oddly, his mind flashed to the pool house, it would be cool and dry in there. Well, maybe now that he wasn't there, the air conditioning was turned off.

He rolled over on his side. A mistake. His stomach sloshed and rolled. He grabbed the trashcan near his bed. It smelled like McDonalds but it didn't matter, there was nothing left in his stomach. He lay back on the bed, and prayed for morning to come.

The alarm rang, but it didn't matter he was already awake. He had barely slept the night before.

"You look terrible," Theresa said, as she got up and watched him go zombie-like through his morning routine. "Are you feeling okay?"

"M'fine..." He muttered. Kissed her on the forehead. "See you tonight."

"Go home Atwood," The foreman ordered on the worksite. Ryan's arms were like jelly. His vision kept blurring. Every time he tried to drink some water, it came right back up. The men joked he had caught his wife's morning sickness. He was so He got paid half- wages that day. Money was going to be tight this week.

He went home and lay down in the hot room on the itchy comforter.

Theresa came home. "Ryan?" She called.

"Yeah," He said, lifting his head off the pillow.

"What are you doing here?" She asked.

"Foreman sent me home..."

"What? Why?" She was instantly on alert. Had he gotten fired?"

"I was sick..."

"Oh..." She relaxed. "Are you feeling any better?"

"Not really." He turned his head away.

"What's wrong?"

"Stomach bug. I think it's just a 24 hour thing."

"Okay... Can I get you anything?"

"M'fine... You don't have to worry about me."

Alright, Ryan decided as Kirsten handed him a glass of orange juice, a few more pills and felt his forehead with a cool hand, maybe this was better.