Over the years, Cooper's pint-sized patients had given him every germ under the sun. A cold in the fall, strep throat each spring, and pneumonia every winter. Whatever the virus, if children were carriers, he'd caught it at least once. As a Pediatrician, he considered it par for the course and usually bounced back without any real trouble. Until now.
On Monday morning, Cooper had treated the Henderson twins for a nasty case of the stomach flu and by Wednesday evening, he was completely out of commission. He actually had to stop seeing patients mid-day and lay down to keep the room from spinning. The pit of stomach twisted into knots as debilitating waves of nausea washed over him. He tried to focus on his breathing, in and out, even as his entire body trembled with chills. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so violently ill.
Cooper laid face-down on his office couch for the better part of the day. He slipped in and out of awareness, losing any and all sense of time. He was completely oblivious to the fact that night had fallen outside his window and the majority of his co-workers had left for the day. He was feverish and barely-coherent, and felt like he just might die there all alone. But then, like an answered prayer, he felt a small feminine hand touch his back. He wasn't alone anymore.
The hand rubbed slow, gentle circles on his back, lulling him back to sleep. Through the haze of exhaustion and sickness, Cooper felt cool fingers touch his flushed cheek. The person was obviously trying to gauge his temperature. Cooper instinctively turned towards the comforting hands but found he was too weak to open his eyes. Cooper managed a weak, delirious smile when he felt impossibly soft lips kiss his temple. Feeling loved and deeply cherished, Cooper was able to relax and finally drift off to sleep.
As the morning sun streamed through the windows, Cooper awoke feeling like a new man. His fever had broken some time during the night. He sat up and stretched, and discovered that someone had carefully tucked a blanket around him. He noticed a glass of water on the coffee table with two aspirin sitting beside it. A thermometer from one of the exam rooms was lying nearby out of its case. Cooper noticed a washcloth folded on the table and it triggered a memory of someone gently wiping his brow. His recollection, though hazy, made him smile because someone had obviously taken great care to nurse him back to health.
Cooper stood up, aware that a new work day had begun, and wandered into Violet's office. His friend was seated behind her desk enjoying her perfunctory morning bagel with cream cheese. She looked up and greeted him, "Hey, Coop. How are you feeling?"
"A lot better." He dropped into the chair opposite her desk. He smiled at her and said, "Thanks for last night."
Violet had a completely blank look on her face. "What are you talking about?"
"Last night." Cooper prompted her with an even bigger smile. "I was sick and you took care of me."
"Um, no," she stammered. "I didn't."
Cooper's smile faltered. "You didn't?"
Violet shook her head and confessed, "I left work early last night to catch the season finale of America's Next Top Model." She shifted uncomfortably in her chair. "I figured you would just sleep it off by yourself."
Cooper was quiet and pensive for a few minutes, then arrived at the most obvious conclusion, "I was running a fever. I must have imagined it." He smiled and joked, "Either that or I have a guardian angel."
Later that afternoon, Violet was sitting in the break room eating her lunch when Charlotte walked inside. She looked pale and sweaty. Her eyes were blood-shot and her nose was running. She looked terrible. Charlotte braced herself against the island counter and told Violet, "I'm going home." She sniffled pathetically. "I feel like shit."
Violet walked up to the blond and felt her forehead. "You have a fever."
"Nothing gets past you."
"Be nice." Violet took pity on her sick roommate and told her, "I'll stop by the store on the way home and pick up some soup."
Charlotte was looking rough, but she managed a weak smile. "Thanks."
Something suddenly occurred to Violet. "Wait a minute," she said. "You haven't treated any patients with flu-like symptoms in over a week."
"Who knows?" Charlotte shrugged her shoulders and tried to appear nonchalant. "There's probably a bug going around."
A/N: I'm sick and reviews are the best medicine!