Getting sick on his birthday; Tyler Lockwood was surely the unluckiest person in the world.
Wrapped up in his blanket, he sat on the windowsill in his room and watched the driveway that led to the entrance door. He really didn't wait for anyone special. There were so many people going to come to Tyler Lockwood's awesome birthday party. The first one would only get a bigger piece of cake, because his or her arrival meant he could finally crawl back into his bed.
It was raining outside. It had been raining for a whole week, but that shouldn't keep anyone from coming. Yes, this weather might be the reason why Tyler was forced to stay home for two days now, but in the end it was just a bit of water. Tyler stayed optimistic.
The sky cracked with thunder, yellow lightning illuminating the spaces between the thick grey clouds regularly. The tumultuous rain was so incessant that without an umbrella one would have been soaked to the bones within seconds. Tyler's optimism staggered.
He shivered and sniffed, and his head hurt, as if someone constantly pounded with a hammer against his forehead. Even leaning his hot, throbbing temple against the cool window didn't help anything against the pain. The window was breath-clouded. Tyler drew small patterns into the fog, but gave up as his breath swallowed the drawing. He closed his eyes.
Sleep came faster when he had expected, but it didn't bring any alleviation of his suffering. When he eventually opened his eyes again his entire body ached with pain from the uncomfortable position, and the smallest movement made everything even worse. Tyler moaned simultaneously with the knock on his door.
"Tyler, you have – Tyler!" Carol Lockwood huffed angrily when she stepped into the room to find her son sitting on the windowsill. "You promised me to stay in bed. That is certainly not your bed."
Tyler closed his eyes at the high-pitched voice and tried to hide under his blanket. The determined footsteps of his mother approached him, but a soft cough stopped them. Too soft to be Tyler's.
"I can take care of him, Mrs. Lockwood."
Tyler peered out of his blanket-fort and smiled at the sight of his first visitor. "Elena," he rasped and received a smile from her over the shoulder of his mother. "What a – a – a delight-hight…" The sentence relapsed into heavy coughs.
"I think he is glad to see you," Carol said with a smile in Elena's direction. "I leave you two alone. And Tyler, go back to bed." She shook her head at her son and headed for the door, not closing it behind her.
Elena watched her leave and seemed to wait for the noise of her footsteps to disappear before she dared to look at Tyler again. She smiled.
"Happy Birthday." Elena's voice was thick with pity. She held a carefully wrapped-up package out to Tyler, slowly approaching him, surely hesitating because of his sickness.
Tyler made sure not to touch her hand as he reached for the package. "Thank you," he said hoarsely. His eyes wandered back to the empty doorway, then over his shoulder to take a look out of the window, searching for at least one other person he wanted to see today. "Where's Matt?"
"Practise," Elena said, her eyes shifting to the window. "It's awful that not even this weather stops your trainer. But Matt asked me to give you a tight hug from him. He missed you all day."
Tyler couldn't help but grimace at this exaggeration. "You better leave that hug-thing. I'm filled to the brim with bacteria. One touch and you'll get sick, too."
"Don't worry. My immune system is remarkably strong. But you do look extremely bad," Elena said, apparently not caring that such a comment might hurt Tyler's ego. But then again she quite liked to scratch Tyler's ego, and since the worry line on her forehead was deep – and utterly adorable – he forgave her.
"I'm fine," he said, forcing a bright grin. "A cold won't keep Tyler Lockwood from throwing the party of the year. It's Friday, everyone wants a party. And Matt will come later, then, a bit sweaty maybe –"
"Tyler, your mother told everyone the party's cancelled," Elena said, her pity now dripping from her tongue like honey from a knife. Tyler wished it would feel as sweet as honey to be pitied, but he suddenly was overwhelmed by fatigue.
"No," he sighed and slammed his forehead once more against the cold window. The pain in his head couldn't get any worse. "I don't get that. I'm totally fine."
"I'm sure you are, but you really should go back to bed. Come on…" When Elena moved to touch him, Tyler turned away, trying to glue his broken optimism back together.
"Nah… Let me open this first." He shook the package Elena had given to him and sadly didn't hear anything rumble. It was most likely a book, and there were certainly better gifts for him than books. "Is it from Matt and you?" he asked teasingly, very well aware of the subtle glances Elena flashed in Matt's direction, and Matt's drooling during history wasn't subtle at all.
Elena frowned a little, but shook her head, showing how brave she was as she sat down next to Tyler. She risked getting sick by squeezing herself into the gap between Tyler and the window frame, so tightly that he could feel her body even through the thick blanket.
"It's from Jeremy and me."
Tyler looked up, frowning. "What?"
"Well…" Elena stroked her shiny brown hair back behind her ears. "I just asked him for advice. He'd never gift you anything. For quite understandable reasons, he thinks you're a jerk."
"Being a jerk comes with advantages," Tyler replied and shared a laugh with Elena, but only a short one, because he soon started to cough so heavily that Elena patted his back. When he was able to at least sit straight again, Tyler started unwrapping the package.
It was probably a good thing that he was still coughing, otherwise he would have been unable to stop the nasty comment that tried to escape him at the sight of the sketch-pad clad in black leather.
How gay was that? Of course Elena's baby brother had helped her with that.
"You don't like it, right?" Elena's chocolate brown eyes darkened and almost lost their hopeful fire.
"Oh, no!" Tyler regretted that he shook his head. His brain felt like scrambled eggs. "I just didn't expect it. I mean… it's not like I… I don't even know…" Coughing didn't rescue him this time.
"I saw you doodling during history," Elena admitted with a shrug, also revealing that unlike Matt she didn't throw all her glances at just one person. "I thought that maybe you would like to develop –"
"Yeah, you thought wrong," Tyler said, his voice painfully rough because of the coughs. His throat hurt more with every word. "I was just bored."
Elena gave him that piercing look that seemed to see right through Tyler and into his heart, where a small love for drawing slept, but for a football star even the smallest love for such things was inacceptable. Art would never make his father proud. Little Jeremy's drawings had easily found their way on the Gilbert's fridge, but Tyler's optimism that his father would once notice the pictures his son put on his desk had faded early in his life.
Elena nudged him with her slender shoulder. "You know, when I was ten, my mother gave me my first diary. It's actually quite similar to this sketch-pad. I still write everything that happens to me down, but I'm not showing it around… or boast about it."
"Because you're too old for a diary."
"Because it's for me." Elena placed her hand on Tyler's, which tightened around the sketch-pad. "Just try it. I think you've got talent. And since you're unable to leave the house, you could spend your time with this." She rose from the windowsill, still holding Tyler's hand, and pulled him up. "You can even take it into your bed."
"Sketch-pad and pencil; exa-ex-ah-ctly what…" Again, Tyler's not-so-nice comment was drowned by spasmodic cough.
Elena pulled him forward and guided him to the bed with a smile, supporting him by wrapping her arm around his waist. Tyler wanted to free himself, but his body didn't want the same. He fell onto the bed with his blanket still wrapped around his body. Elena helped him untangling the mess of fabric and covered him properly, then sat down on the edge of the bed. Tyler sighed when her hand found his forehead to feel the temperature.
"I better leave now," she said quietly. "You need to get some rest."
"It's my birthday," Tyler mumbled into his pillow. "This isn't fair." He felt how the mattress shifted when Elena started to get up. Tyler turned around and grabbed her wrist. "Elena…"
She looked down at him, long hair framing her face. Elena tilted her head slightly when Tyler wove himself in stubborn silence, unable to ask her to stay. Eventually, she sat back down and gifted him a smile that seemed a bit insecure. Tyler stared back at her, not saying a word but sniffling from time to time. He felt like he had never really looked at Elena before, although he knew her for what felt like forever. Maybe it was the fever that changed his view.
Probably because of his intense stare, Elena looked away and focused on the opposite wall. She bit on her bottom lip – and damn it, she had full, red, very kissable lips. Tyler felt a different doziness creeping up on him the longer he looked at her. His eyelids became heavier and it was exceptionally hard to keep them open.
Tyler wanted to close them only for a second, but just as his view turned black he felt Elena's wrist slipping out of his grip. Promptly, he opened his eyes again, so wide that they started to burn.
"Wait," he said and after such a long pause it really hurt to speak.
"Tyler…" Elena leant down to him, fingertips tracing his temple. "You have to sleep. I know you didn't plan to spend your birthday in bed, but you can barely party in this state. Get well again and then you get your birthday-party, okay? I'm sure Caroline would love to plan something for you in the Grill."
Tyler tugged Elena closer to him. "I just wanted… uhm…"
"You don't have to thank me. We're friends." Elena smiled at him. Tyler's eyes locked on her lips, so perfectly curled upwards. He instinctively leant up, just realising what he was doing when he had already reached Elena's mouth. Their lips barely brushed against each other when Tyler's cold put an end to this touch before it could become a real kiss.
He had to sneeze, just in time turning his head to the side and away from Elena.
Tyler didn't dare to look at her again. Then his nose started to tickle once more and another sneeze loosened the mood again. Elena laughed and placed a hand on Tyler's chest.
"You're sick. Go to sleep."
"Yeah…" Finally, Tyler thought that this was a good idea. He let Elena push him back onto the mattress and sighed heavily. "High fever… don't know what I'm doing…"
Elena nodded and obviously tried to suppress a smile. "Of course." She straightened and folded her arms in front of her chest. "Get well, Tyler."
"You're a great nurse, Elena. Always allowed to come back and take care of me," Tyler mumbled, trying a little too hard to sound seductive, but he wanted Elena not to take what had almost happen serious and tell it Matt in the end, who would kill him despite high fever.
"I keep that in mind for my Halloween-costume," Elena said and raised a hand to wave goodbye at Tyler. She then turned to leave, and Tyler was quite sure to see a light blush spreading across her cheeks. Probably a hallucination caused by the fever…
The door fell close behind Elena, and Tyler turned to his bedside table. He reached for the sketch-pad and, again wrapped up tightly in his blanket, started drawing. Fever or not, he couldn't wait to see the nurse-costume on Elena…