Ugh...sorry for the long update O.o Summer school wants my soul (literally -.-;) Hope you guys like it! :D

The girls had appeared on the front porch of the house he and Tallahassee were bunked in the next day a little after three. Little Rock latched onto the older man's waist like a leech for a few seconds before she let go and wandered into the living where Columbus was. Wichita and Tallahassee eyed each other for a few seconds, almost daring one another to say something stupid, but it passed and they moved back into the house.

Wichita crouched beside the couch, looking at the unevenbandages that covered the younger man's torso. She could see the faint outlines of a bruise just above the edge of the bandage, the skin an ugly purple. She'd only had one broken rib in her life and that was from a soccer game in middle school. Still, it wasn't something she was likely to forget and she knew the pain had to be a bitch. However, the more concerning thing was that Columbus had a fever and looked only slightly better than death warmed over. He was pale, his eyes red-rimmed and sunken in his face, and there was an unnatural flush on his cheeks that indicated illness. She touched his forehead lightly, almost jerking her hand away from the intense heat she found there. This was serious...

Columbus coughed deeply, a ragged, wet sound that shook him forcefully. He tried to sit up a little when Wichita crouched next to him but she placed a hand on his shoulder to prevent him from moving. The pressure in his lungs was painful, heavy and soffocating like someone sitting on his chest and he shifted again, trying to get more comfortable. He'd been trying to go back to sleep but the rattling gurgle of fluid in his lungs every time he took a deep breath not only woke him up but grossed him out as well. He could imagine the swirl of fluid, clinging to the lining of his lungs, and that image alone was enough to make him want to gag. That and the pain of the broken ribs just added to his discomfort.

Wichita stood up and walked over to Tallahassee, grabbing him by the arm and leading him away from the couch. She spoke softly, the way she had done the first time they met her and she convinced them Little Rock had been bitten. Tallahassee nodded a bit, looking back at the couch. Somehow over the night, Columbus had come down with a fever that was now slowly but steadily working its way through his body. They needed to get him out of this house and somewhere safer; anywhere closer to a pharmacy or a hospital that had medicine to take care of the fever and the fluid in his lungs.

With Witchita's help, Tallahassee managed to wrap an arm around the younger man's shoulders and pull him off the couch. Columbus hissed sharply, the sudden movement jostling his broken ribs and spreading fire through his chest. He gasped, triggering a coughing fit that nearly brought him to his knees. The other two kept a firm grip on him though, careful not to let him fall, and waited until the coughing fit passed. By the time it was over, Columbus was shaky, pale, and weaker than he had been before.

Between the two of them, they managed to get him to the door and outside onto the front porch. Little Rock was ahead of them, opening the back door of the Hummer and stepping to the side so they could deposit Columbus in the back seat. He mumbled something rather incoherently, probably due to the fever, and Tallahassee nodded slightly, resting his hand on the younger man's fever flushed cheek. Little Rock crawled in on the other side as Wichita got in behind the wheel and Tallahassee slid into the passenger seat next to her. With one final glance at the house, they pulled back onto the long abandoned road and made their way to the closest town.


Columbus was shivering harshly by the time they found a suitable house for the evening. It was about a block away from a pharmacy which was conveniently right next to a hospital. The took all the necessary precautions of boarding up the windows and checking the house for any unwanted, undead occupants before carrying the sick young man inside and gently dropping him on the bed. He was covered in a thin sheet of sweat, curly hair clinging to his forehead and glassy eyes looking around the new room in confusion.

Wichita handed a fully loaded shot gun to Little Rock, putting her in charge of the house and Columbus while she and Tallahassee made a medicine run. Whatever they had been mad about had gone to the wayside since one of their members was in danger. Tallahassee handed her a walkie-talkie as well, ruffling her hair slightly before following Wichita outside. Once they'd left, Little Rock locked the door behind them and returned to the bedroom where Columbus was.

He was shivering so forcefully the bed was vibrating beneath him and he gave her a questioning look when she sat back down on the bed next to him. Instead of answering, she pulled the blankets up to his chin, tucking them around him like her parents used to do when she was younger. She walked into the bathroom, running a washcloth under the faucet and wringing it out. Returning to the bedroom, she resumed her place next to the sick young man and gently placed the washcloth on his forehead. Columbus winced slightly at the cold contact but relaxed back against the pillows as the coolness swept through him, taking some of the heat with it.

Little Rock stayed beside him, carefully dabbing at his face and neck with the washcloth, trying to bring his fever down to a more manageable level. She hummed softly, a song she didn't really know the words to, but it was something Wichita always did for her when she was sick. It was a slow song, lilting and soft like a lullaby and she wasn't sure where her sister had ever heard it before. It was nice though and it always worked for her.

Columbus gave her a weak smile, still shivering a bit beneath her hands. "Thank you..." He said, suppressing a cough deep in his chest.

The younger girl smiled in return and nodded. "Anytime."


About thirty minutes passed before Wichita and Tallahassee knocked on the door, white plastic bags filled with drugs hanging from their wrists. They walked into the kitchen, dropping the bags onto the table and spilling their contents over the table top. There were boxes of cold/flu tablets, more painkillers than they could count (they swept the entire shelf into the bag), some tiny glass bottle filled with antibiotics, and ace bandages to re-wrap the broken ribs.

Tallahassee rummaged through the boxes of pills and found the ones he was looking for. It was a multi-symptom drug, designed to treat all kinds of problems, but it focused on chest congestion and he figured that was the best thing they could start off with. He opened the box, dropping a few of the pills into his hand and grabbing a bottle of water they'd swiped from the pharmacy as well.

Columbus blinked up at him when he sat down on the bed, shifting the younger man a tiny bit so he could pillow his head against his leg. He handed him the pills and the bottle of water, waiting for him to take them before setting the water on the table. The drugs had a fever reduscer but he was pretty sure something stronger would be in order later on. Columbus shifted a bit, looking up at him.

"Get some sleep, kid." Tallahassee whispered softly, stroking his fingers through the younger man's damp hair. "I'll be here when you wake up."

Columbus smiled slightly and nodded, snuggling against his leg. "Love you..." He muttered just before sleep took him and he was falling into nothingness.

Tallahassee smiled and nodded in return. "Love you too, kid."

Aww, fluff! Okay, so I changed it a bit; instead of him having pneumonia, he was just plain sick O.o