June 29, 2010:So, as noted, I decided to celebrate the anticipation of the Hair National Tour with a small bit of fluff. ^_^ Of course... small is a relative term. ^_^ A one-shot, anyway. *happy sighs* Feels good to write something new and so... fluffy. *smirk*

Warnings for Berger and Claude being sickeningly (literally and figuratively ^_^) sweet all over each other. Fluff and mush abound! *eg* I just couldn't help it... -.-;;; Takes place over Christmas of 1966, a month or two after "White Boys," if you want to fit it in continuity with my other fics. ^_^

Title: The Flesh Failures
Fandom: Hair, the musical: 2009 Revival
Pairing: Claude/Berger, hints of Claude/Berger/Sheila
Rating: PG-13, 'R' if you count what Berger's imagining, but since he does it in the privacy of his own head... *eg* ...I guess that doesn't count. ^_~
Word Count: 4,908
Warnings: Slash. ^_^ Watch out for extreme sappiness. Man, how often do I get to say that? ;D

Disclaimer: Neither the musical nor the boys belong to me, if they did they'd be groping each other on sta-. *pause* *blinkblink* Huh. Look at that... they do. *eg* :D ((Hair was written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with music by Galt MacDermot.))

Summary: Berger is looking forward to spending his first Christmas alone with Claude and has many fun plans for the occasion. Unfortunately for him, a miserable cold gets in the way. Time for Plan 'B!'

And do remember... comments and reviews are love! ^_^

The Flesh Failures
by Renee-chan

Berger stared down at the form currently buried under a mound of blankets on Sheila's bed. It was hunched over, curled in on itself as though trying to hide from the world. Giving a soft "humph," Berger reached out a hand to poke the form through the blankets. It let out a pitiful little moan and curled up tighter. Sighing softly, Berger went to work burrowing through the blankets near the head of the bed. When he finally succeeded in uncovering part of the buried form, he made a disgusted face, "Jesus, Claudio. You look like shit."

Claude rolled one bleary eye up to look at him and gave him a pathetic sniffle, followed up quickly by a harsh spate of coughing. Berger reached down a hand to rub at the other man's back through the worst of the spasm, wincing at the sound. When it was finally over, Claude rolled his eyes over to look back at him again. He then wheezed out, "Feel like shit, too."

Berger sighed. When Sheila had announced the plans for her latest trip to DC, he hadn't paid much attention. It wasn't like it really concerned him. But he should have noticed that she was planning to leave so close to Christmas. Ironic that those plans had ended with her being snowed into the capitol and Berger getting stuck in New York. Not that he minded, really. He spent almost all of his time here, anyway. Still... Christmas was one of the few times left when he really did make an effort to be with his family. Unfortunately, the ferries weren't running on account of the three feet of snow that had been unceremoniously dumped on the city last night. With no family around, Berger had tried to gather some of his Tribe together for the holiday, but had found that most of them had plans already.

Crissy had taken Jeanie and Woof home with her to spend Christmas with her family. Suzanne had taken a train upstate a few days ago to go visit hers. Hud and Dionne were holed up in Dionne's apartment trying their damnedest to convince the rest of the Tribe that they weren't playing house in there. Most of the rest had similar stories to tell. That was why he'd been so shocked to hear from Angela that Suzanne had lent Claude her key so he could hide out in the apartment she shared with Sheila. Apparently he had decided that he didn't want to face the questions of his extended family about his plans for the future if they didn't involve school.

Well, that suited Berger just fine. This thing they were sharing with Sheila was wonderful, but sometimes Berger just wanted to have Claude to himself. He was a little selfish that way. So, the thought of getting to share Christmas Eve with the other boy... alone... well, lets just say that he wasn't exactly disappointed. To start off, he'd been planning on enticing Claude into going outside and messing around in the fresh snowfall a little... but it didn't look like the older boy would be going anywhere like this.

Dropping a hand to rest against Claude's forehead, Berger frowned. He was no doctor, but the older boy's forehead felt kind of warm to him. Another spate of coughing shook the bundled form. Well, this sure as hell wasn't good. Frowning down at the other boy, Berger said, "I'll be right back, Claudio. You just stay there, OK?"

Claude gave him a watered down version of his usual brilliant smile and shrugged. Right. As crappy as he obviously felt, where could he possibly plan on going? Shaking his head at his own stupidity, Berger walked out of the bedroom and left the apartment. If he was going to be nursing a sick Claude through Christmas, he'd better stock up on supplies before everything closed down for the holiday.

An hour later, arms full of goodies, Berger climbed the stairs back to Sheila's apartment. He felt a little guilty spending the money he'd saved up to give to Sammy on Claude... but only a little. Sammy didn't even know he'd been planning on coming home and Claude obviously needed it more - or at least needed what Berger had bought with the money. Depositing the bags on the kitchen table, Berger shucked off his coat and went back into the bedroom to check on Claude.

In the time Berger had been gone, Claude had managed to kick half the blankets onto the floor and was fitfully tossing and turning. Well, that wasn't good. Placing a hand on Claude's shoulder, he gently shook it, "Hey... Claudio. Come on, man, wake up."

After a little more shaking and soft cajoling, Claude finally cracked an eye back open. When his gaze landed on Berger, he gave a dramatically pathetic sniffle and tried to bury himself back under the blankets. If it weren't so damned pitiful, Berger would have laughed. He had a little sister. He knew damned well when he was being played. Oh, he was sure that Claude probably felt like crap, but it was just a cold. A miserable one, maybe, but it couldn't possibly be as bad as he was making it out to be.

Shaking the older boy's shoulder again, Berger said, "Come on, Claudio. I hauled my ass out into the cold and snow and dragged all over half of creation trying to find a drug store that was open. The least you can do to thank me is haul your ass out of bed and take the medicine I got you." Whimpering pathetically the entire way, Claude wrestled himself into a sitting position and swung his legs out from under the covers. At that, Berger twitched. Oh good grief, the other boy was still in his jeans. Well, that was no way to be sick. If you were going to be sick, at least you should be comfortable. Well, there would be time to take care of that later. Sighing softly, he hauled the other boy upright and helped him into the kitchen.

Once he had him settled into one of the chairs with the afghan from Sheila's couch draped around him, he got to work pulling things out of the bags. Tylenol, cough syrup, orange juice - he'd done his best to get everything he could think of that the other boy would need.

Reading the labels on the cough syrup and the Tylenol, he deposited two pills and half a little cap full of purple liquid on the table in front of Claude. It looked like an awfully small amount, though... How did the label know it would be enough? Claude had been coughing pretty badly. Well, if a little was good, then a little more could only help, right? Taking the bottle, Berger topped off the little cap. What was the worst that could happen?

The other boy looked up at him dubiously from where he was hunched into the folds of the afghan. Berger crossed his arms over his chest, "You don't get anything else unless you take your medicine first." Laughing, he added, "Doctor's orders."

Claude smirked as he reached out a hand to grab the two Tylenol, "Doctor? Not likely. Nurse is more like it." Though he grimaced at the taste, he washed the pills down with the cap full of cough medicine, "Man, that stuff is just as awful as I remember it being."

Berger gave the other boy a sympathetic look, "Yeah... I remember, too. But at least the grape isn't quite as vile as that cherry shit." He shuddered dramatically, grateful that he didn't have drink it. He took the cap and rinsed it out before screwing the bottle tightly closed. Clapping his hands together, he then surveyed the rest of what he'd bought. Orange juice. That would help wash the taste out of Claude's mouth while he heated up the soup. And his mom had always made them drink plenty of it when they were sick. He had no idea why, but he at least remembered that she had thought it important. He poured Claude a glass of it and put it down in front of him before putting the carton in the refrigerator.

Claude eyed the glass, then eyed him. Berger just raised an eyebrow. Claude huffed out a small laugh, then lifted the glass to his mouth and took a sip. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?" he accused.

Berger walked around the table and planted a firm kiss against the older boy's forehead. When Claude raised an eyebrow back at him, he smirked, "Well... maybe just a little."

"Thought so." This time the small laugh turned into a large cough and Berger winced. Gingerly he lowered a hand to rub Claude's back through the spasm. When it was over, Claude whimpered softly and rubbed a hand against his throat, "I hope that stuff works fast."

Sliding his arm around Claude's shoulders Berger pulled the older boy up against him. He didn't like seeing anyone in pain, especially Claude, "Yeah, me too, Claudio. Fuck, it hurts just to listen to you, man."

Sighing, Claude leaned his head against Berger and just nodded. After a few minutes of standing there and holding him, Berger lightly kissed the top of his head and pushed him back upright. "OK. We are going to get a little something to eat into you. How does that sound?"

Claude just winced as he rubbed his throat again, "About as appealing as crawling over broken glass." At Berger's stern look, he hunched his shoulders and asked, "What are my choices?"

Berger snorted, "Choices? Who said you get choices? I didn't see your ass out in the snow with me. You get whatever I say you get." At the pouty look Claude turned his way, Berger sighed and capitulated. Turning back to the bag, he pulled out a can of Campbell's chicken soup. He smiled softly to himself at that one. On a whim, he'd gotten the kind with the little stars in them. That had always made him smile when he was younger and sick, hopefully it would do the same for Claude.

Sure enough, when the older boy leaned forward to read the can, he did smile, "Campbell's chicken and stars?" Eyes twinkling, he raised his gaze to meet Berger's, "What am I, three?" Before Berger got a chance to respond to the sting in that question, Claude reached out a hand to grab his. Bringing it up to his lips, he planted a kiss across the other boy's knuckles, expression contrite. Softly, he said, "I... Sorry. I didn't mean to complain. You didn't even have to do any of this for me."

Berger looked down at the older boy and just smiled. From Claude's expression, he could see that he was surprised that Berger had done all this for him. Berger couldn't blame him, nor was he offended. He didn't exactly have a rep for being the nurturing kind - normally he left that up to Jeanie or Crissy or any of the others who were more suited to it than he. But since it was Claude... since it was Claude, he found he actually didn't mind. Getting to spend any time alone with the older boy was enjoyable... and with him so sick, it gave Berger all kinds of wonderful excuses to be overly affectionate with him without getting called out for it. And it wasn't like the other boy was complaining. Berger could understand. He knew what it was like to be sick - everyone did. And when you were sick, there were two universal truths: 1) whether you admitted it or not, you wanted to be coddled, pampered and taken care of and 2) When you felt as crappy as Claude was obviously feeling, complaining was really your only form of entertainment. He'd been there. Raising Claude's hand to give it his own kiss in return, he said, "It's all good, Claudio. I know you don't feel well. I'm not gonna hold it against you or anything."

Claude's grateful look was all the acknowledgment he needed. Patting the older boy's shoulder, he turned back to the bag and pulled out the rest of the food he'd gotten. As he watched each item leave the bag, Claude surprised Berger by reaching out and tugging on his shirt. When Berger turned back it was to find Claude attempting to shoot him a smoldering leer, but only managing a pathetic little smirk, "So... if you're going to be my nurse, does that mean you've got a little nurse's outfit somewhere in those bags? Because really, if I'm going to be sick, there should at least be a cute nurse's outfit involved. Maybe with one of those little hats..."

For just a moment, Berger let himself picture it. Not himself in an outfit like that, of course, but Claude in an outfit like that: short little white skirt... high heeled shoes... cute little nurse's cap... oh dear G-d. Letting out a small moan of frustration, he disentangled Claude's hand from his shirt and quickly turned back to the stove. It was stupid to tempt his mind with those kind of thoughts right now, not when they couldn't follow through on them. Damn it. Behind him, Claude snickered quietly, "I take it that's a 'No?'"

Berger snorted, "That's a hell no, man." When he turned back around, Claude had a small pout on his face. Berger twitched. There were a lot of things that he would do for Claude, but dressing up in a nurse's uniform wasn't one of them... was it? No. Nonono. No way. And yet... For just a moment, the image flashed through his mind: himself in that short skirt and high heels, cute little nurse's cap, bending over Claude to give him a sponge bath... Claude reaching up and pulling him down onto the bed... He abruptly shook his head. No. But as the vision had filled his mind, he'd looked up to catch Claude's eyes and as their gazes locked, the older boy's lips had lifted up into a smirk.

Unable to bear the intensity in that gaze a minute longer, Berger turned back to the stove and started vigorously stirring the soup. Stupid, pointless to think about things like that now. Claude was sick. You shouldn't do things like that when you were sick. Stupid imagination.

When the soup was done, he pulled out two bowls and split it between them, then carried them over to the table. When he put them down, he lifted an eyebrow at Claude, "So, Claudio, can you manage this on your own or are you too weak to handle the spoon?"

Making an irritated noise, Claude grabbed the offered spoon and started eating his soup. Berger just smiled, then leaned over and kissed the top of Claude's head. At that action, Claude paused in his eating and turned to press his face into Berger's stomach. Carding his fingers gently through Claude's hair, Berger bent down to deposit another kiss, this time lingering. Letting his hands drop a little lower, he gently massaged the tight muscles in the other boy's neck. Claude let out a small sigh and relaxed against him. Berger couldn't help but smile as he allowed himself that moment. There was just something about it... about being in Sheila's kitchen, making Claude dinner, and feeling him so relaxed and pliant against him... a sudden, small lump rose up in his throat. G-d, he could get used to this. And that thought, it scared him a little. He'd jokingly thought to himself before that Hud and Dionne were holed up in Dionne's apartment trying to convince the rest of the Tribe that they weren't playing house in there. But... wasn't that exactly what he was doing with Claude right now? Playing house?

His gently massaging fingers betraying none of his thoughts, Berger let himself indulge that fantasy for a minute. Coming home to Claude in the kitchen - maybe in a white frilly apron - cooking dinner. Walking over and taking the other man in his arms. Claude, of course, would try to beat him off, complain that he was going to mess up dinner. And Berger, naturally, would persist anyway. Maybe they'd get a little distracted... over the kitchen table, or in the living room... maybe they'd even make it all the way to the bedroom. Whatever the case, when they were finally done being distracted, they'd get back to the kitchen to find that dinner was in fact ruined. Claude would scowl, Berger would slip him a sheepish grin and grab him up to cuddle him, press little distracting kisses to the column of his neck. And Claude would capitulate, relaxing against him just like he was now, and they'd end up ordering pizza - or skipping dinner entirely in favor of satisfying a different appetite... again.

While those thoughts scared him a little, at the same time, they brought him this odd sense of peace. He... he could see it. Coming home to Claude every day, waking up to him every morning, that smile of his lighting the day better and brighter than any sun. Dropping down on one knee, Berger used the grip he had on Claude's neck to pull his face down. He could feel the ghost of the smile Claude was wearing as their lips met in a soft, close-mouthed kiss. And that kiss was so gentle... G-d, he'd seen Claude kiss Sheila like this. He'd never understood why Sheila seemed to like it so much. These soft, gentle, lazy kisses that seemed like they could go on forever without ever leading to anything else... he understood now. When he finally let go and looked up, it was to see Claude's eyes shining down at him, soft and warm and full of... something. Giving in to temptation, Berger pressed another soft kiss to the corner of those lips. He thought he might know what that something was... and like that little fantasy he'd indulged himself in, the thought warmed him and scared him in equal measure.

Reluctantly pulling away, Berger cleared his throat, "You... you should eat your soup before it gets cold, Claudio."

Claude just laughed softly, "I was managing just fine until you distracted me, Sexy-Berger."

Unaccountably, Berger blushed a little at that. Why a kiss that wouldn't have been inappropriate for his 12 year old sister to indulge in would make his heart race like this was beyond him, but there it was. Standing up, he brushed a gentle hand against Claude's cheek and smiled, "Well, then I guess I oughta stop distracting you, huh?"

Claude tilted his face to press it against Berger's hand. That shining look was back in his eyes, "Yeah... I guess you should."

He had to step away. Berger had to step away now or, under the influence of that look, he was going to haul Claude's ass out of that chair, throw him down on the table and ravish him. And he couldn't, because Claude was sick... and they'd get soup all over the floor. Claude's smile gained a touch of humor and he deliberately turned back to his soup and lifted the spoon. Berger got himself to the other side of the table, sat down and did the same, shifting uncomfortably in his seat as he tried to quench that surge of desire.

Before Claude was halfway done eating, Berger could see his eyelids starting to droop, the lifting of the spoon to his lips getting slower and shakier. Well... the cough syrup had said that it could cause drowsiness. And being sick could make you tired, all on its own. Sighing, he got up from his chair and took the spoon away from Claude. Sensing Berger beside him again, Claude immediately leaned against him, one arm wrapping loosely around the younger boy's leg. The smile on his face was soft, contented... like a child. Berger ran gentle fingers through the older boy's hair, then down the side of his face and under his chin to tilt it upwards, "Hey, Claudio. Why don't we get you changed into something more comfortable and tuck you into bed, huh?"

Nodding sleepily, Claude let Berger pull him to his feet. Once there, however, he seemed disinclined to move any further, just let himself fall against Berger, his head dropping to rest on the younger boy's shoulder. Were it not for the grip that Berger had on him, he'd probably have fallen. Shaking his head at his own folly and silently hoping that Claude didn't weigh much more than Sheila - even though he knew the taller boy had to - Berger gently lifted the other boy against him, nudging his legs upwards. Not needing to be told twice, Claude lifted his legs and wrapped them around Berger's waist, his arms mirroring the action around Berger's neck. Berger grunted softly under the dead weight that was Claude. Jesus, he'd been right. The other boy weighed a lot more than Sheila. It was a good thing the bedroom was so close.

Berger maneuvered them both across the apartment and into the bedroom, depositing Claude on the bed. The other boy immediately flopped over and pulled his legs up. Berger sighed and pulled him back upright to grumbling protests, "Claudio... Claudio, I know you're tired, but trust me, you don't want to fall asleep in your clothes, again, OK?"

Claude shook his head, tried to lay back down. Berger pulled him back upright, "Come on, man. I'm serious. Just a couple more minutes, OK? Then you can sleep."

Finally, Claude whimpered softly, rubbed his knuckles across his eyes, yawned and nodded. Berger gratefully took that as cooperation and turned to rummage through Sheila's drawers. When he found her pajama drawer and started rifling through it, though, he had another moment. The first thing he laid hands on was her favorite nightgown - it was sapphire blue silk and she only wore it on special occasions. His heart gave a quick lurch as a sudden double image flooded his vision - Sheila in that nightgown and Claude in something just as skimpy and clingy, both laid out on Sheila's bed exchanging those soft lazy kisses while waiting for him. Oh dear G-d.

Burying his face in Sheila's nightgown, he fought to get himself back under control, again. He wasn't used to having to deny his urges like this anymore. Between Sheila and Claude someone was usually willing to indulge him whenever the mood struck. This was like an exquisite form of torture. Forcing his mind back into the present, he deliberately put down Sheila's nightgown and rummaged for the one set of pajamas that Sheila had insisted on buying for him. They were soft and flannel and he didn't think he'd worn them more than once, maybe twice. He smirked. Generally he didn't bother with things like that - took too much time to get back out of in the morning. Eventually he found them, tucked into the bottom, neatly folded.

By the time he turned back around, though, Claude had slumped back over onto the bed and quiet snores were issuing forth from him. Well... damn it. OK. He could do this. It wasn't like he'd never gotten a sleeping person changed into pajamas before. It was just that Sammy was smaller and lighter and a hell of a lot easier to maneuver.

Walking over to the bed, Berger surveyed Claude's sleeping form. Shirt. He'd start with the shirt. That was the easier part. Taking hold of one of Claude's hands, he gently started working it out of the sleeve. Claude shifted, mumbled, tried to pull his arm away. Berger frowned, "Come on, Claudio. I'm trying to help you out, here."

Claude cracked an eyelid open at him, face a little moue of unhappiness. When he finally identified Berger, however, he grunted and sat back up, tried to help Berger get him out of his shirt. Berger finally laughed and shook his head, "Claudio... Jesus, stop helping, all right? You're making this harder than it has to be." Once Claude was still, Berger lifted the older boy's arms so they pointed straight up. He then grabbed the shirt at the bottom and pulled it straight up and over his head, planting one brief kiss to Claude's lips as they were revealed again after being momentarily hidden. That caused Claude to smile sleepily and attempt to lean against him. As Berger's heart gave another of those funny little lurches, he groaned. Oh no. Nonono. That was a bad idea. Pushing Claude back upright, he maneuvered him into the pajama top, grateful that it was one that buttoned.

Once that was accomplished, Berger let Claude fall back onto the bed again, legs off the side so he could get to the other boy's jeans more easily. Unbuttoning and unzipping Claude's jeans proved to be the easy part. Unable to resist as he contemplated technique, Berger paused for a moment to press a gentle kiss to the spot just beneath Claude's navel. He could feel it as Claude let out a small huff of a laugh at the ticklish sensation of Berger's lips on his stomach and Berger's hair brushing against his sides, laughed himself as the other boy tried to feebly push him away. With a sigh, Berger let himself be pushed. Inch by slow inch, he worked Claude's jeans off him, finding himself in a rather unusual quandary. Normally he was grateful that Claude wore jeans that hugged his legs and ass so nicely... now he found himself anything but. Looking up at Claude's one-again slumbering form, he grunted, "Claudio, when you wake up we're going to have a talk about you wearing tight jeans when you're sick and are going to need help getting out of them."

Several minutes later, he finally had the jeans off and paused for a moment to rest and admire the long, lean lines of his lover's legs. Just because he couldn't touch, didn't mean he couldn't look. With a soft sigh, he then reached for the pajama pants and started working them up Claude's legs and over his hips. Good thing they were about the same size except for the one or two inches in height that Claude had on him and Berger's slightly broader shoulders. Once he had Claude dressed, Berger maneuvered him further up the bed and onto the pillow, then tucked him under the covers. When he moved to leave, though, Claude woke up again, reached out a hand and made a pathetic little noise of unhappiness.

Sighing, and not altogether disappointed that Claude didn't want him to go, Berger took the hand and gave it a gentle kiss. He then stripped down to his underwear, walked around to the right side of the bed and climbed under the covers behind Claude. The other boy immediately pressed back against him, snuggling as close as he could get. Berger slung an arm around Claude's waist, gently twined their legs together and tucked his face into the crook of Claude's neck. Surrounded by the warmth of the blankets and his lover's body, Claude quickly dropped off into a deep, healing sleep. It wasn't a minute later, content and at peace, that Berger did the same.

Two days later - the day right after Christmas - Sheila finally managed to get back to New York. When she arrived at her apartment, ready to curl up in bed and sleep off the long, arduous trip while letting someone else take care of her for a change, she was to be a little disappointed. Suzanne wasn't there - her coat was gone - but just as obviously, somebody was. Two somebodies, if she recognized those coats. With a gentle smile, Sheila followed the sounds of soft murmuring words into her bedroom to find an unusual sight.

Claude was sitting up in her bed, back against the headboard, with Berger's head pillowed in his lap and Berger's arm wrapped firmly around his waist. The poor boy looked absolutely miserable, his nose all red and an occasional harsh cough issuing forth from his throat. And Claude... Claude didn't look all that much better, like he'd also been sick. He was wearing his own shirt, but Sheila could just see from the piece of fabric that peaked out from under the covers that he was also wearing the flannel pajama bottoms that matched the shirt that Berger was currently wearing.

Lifting an eyebrow at the two boys, Sheila couldn't help but laugh a little at the pathetic image they made. Claude turned relieved eyes on her as she approached, "Oh, Sheila, am I glad to see you!" Shaking Berger's shoulder gently, he said, "Hey... Banana-Berger... look who's here! Sheila's home!"

Berger cracked one bleary eye open and rolled it up to look at her. Once he managed to focus, he gave her a soft, goofy grin and said, "Oh, good... did she bring the nurse's uniform? If we're sick, there should at least be a cute, little nurse's uniform involved..."

As Sheila's eyes widened and a mildly affronted look settled on her features, Claude and Berger smiled impishly up at her, then turned to look at each other... and burst out laughing.

A/N: And now for some chibi silliness! :D

Claude: Well... I have to say that almost makes up for the other fic you're writing that wewon'ttalkabout.

R-chan: *pleased grin* *dimples* I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Claude: *rubs at his throat* "Enjoy" might be too strong a word...

Berger: *smirks, cuddles Claude* Oh, I don't know... I think it might be just right, actually.

Claude: *melts* Oh... well... I guess you have a point there.

Berger: *soft smile*

Sheila: *stares*

Dionne: *laughes* *pokes Sheila* Furniture, baby. Furniture.

Questions, comments, fruitcake?

Nuriko: *twitch* Fruitcake? What are they supposed to do with it? Bash you in the head?

R-chan: *sweatdrop* My, my... I think someone's getting a little frustrated...

Tasuki: *patpats Nuriko* You have no idea.