Lorelai breezed in the kitchen door around 10pm, opened the pantry and pulled out a box of Mallomars.
"Hello beautiful daughter of mine! Studying again? Don't get too smart, you know boys like 'em dumb!" Lorelai sat down at the table where Rory had her french books spread out and was copying vocabulary words onto notecards.
"Hey mom! How's everything at Luke's? Is Jess okay?"
"Oh yeah, he'll be fine, just a really bad case of the flu. I have to say, he's much more agreeable when he's sick, though."
"Huh, that's weird, since you're much less agreeable when you're sick." Rory stuck out her tongue.
"You wound me! I am a model patient and a delight and a treasure at all times, you know that."
"Oh yeah," Rory said, "I have news."
"I think you'll be pleased.
"Well, Grandma called a couple of hours ago and left a message saying that Friday night dinner is cancelled tomorrow because they have to go to some event that they forgot about."
"Oh my god, it's like Christmas! So, I guess you'll be spending your free Friday night with Dean?"
"I would, but he's leaving tomorrow afternoon to visit his grandparents in 's their 40th anniversary."
"An honest to goodness free Friday night for us to hang out together?!" Lorelai clapped her hands in excitement. "Let's do NOTHING!"
"Sounds perfect! I can't wait!" Rory gave her mom a hug.
Lorelai hugged her back, "Now come on, let's watch Rosemary's Baby before we go to bed."
The next morning Jess woke himself up coughing. He was freezing, though he could hear the radiator hissing, so he knew it was probably pretty warm in the apartment. The alarm clock next to his bed read 7:30am, so he figured Luke was downstairs dealing with the breakfast rush. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and shuffled slowly into the bathroom. Jess turned the shower on as hot as it would go and sat under the hot stream trying to get warm. The steam loosened up the congestion in his head and chest and he started coughing heavily. He leaned his head back against the tile and groaned. He could not remember ever feeling worse than he did with this flu. When he finally felt warmer he washed his hair and got out of the shower.
He caught his reflection in the mirror and was shocked by how sick he looked. His eyes were red and had dark almost bruised looking circles underneath them, he was pale as a ghost except for the bright pink flush across his cheeks, and his lips were pale and chapped. "Oh well," he thought, "at least Luke probably won't make me go to school today, so no one will see me anyway."
Jess dressed in a long sleeve Social Distortion tee, a pair of sweatpants, two pairs of socks, and his warmest hoodie and got back under the covers. He had planned to read, but the words seemed to be swimming on the page, so he just closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. His cough had other plans, so he turned on the tv and watched some mindless cartoons as he laid there coughing, sniffling, and shivering.
Luke came up the stairs after a while and found Jess in bed under the covers up to his chin and his hoodie up over his head watching cartoons. "How are you feeling?" Luke asked.
"I'm fine." Jess rasped.
"Oh, well if you're fine, I guess you can go to school."
Jess scowled at him from under his hood. Luke felt a little bad about his joke, "I'm kidding. But really, how are you feeling?"
Jess sighed and said "Sick."
"Alright, well, you've got a doctor's appointment at 9:30, so we'll get you all fixed up."
"I don't need a-" Jess broke off into a wet, barking cough.
"Yeah, you do need a doctor, Jess. Not negotiable be ready to go in 30 minutes."
Jess didn't respond, just pulled the covers tighter around himself and went back to paying attention to the television.
"Do you want anything to drink Jess? Water, tea, gatorade?"
"Tea would be cool, I guess,"
Luke was kind of shocked that the kid had asked for tea, but he put the kettle on and made two cups of Earl Grey and brought one over to Jess.
"Thanks." Luke noticed Jess's hands were shaking as he took the mug. He thought he should probably take Jess's temperature, but they were going to be at the doctor in less than an hour, so it didn't seem worth it, especially since Jess would probably fight him on it. Luke went back downstairs to wrap up the breakfast rush before they had to leave.
Lorelai was sitting at the counter when Luke got downstairs. He grabbed her a mug and filled it with coffee. "Thanks!" she said brightly, "How's Jess today?"
"Still sick. He's coughing a lot, but no more puking, so I guess that's good. Thanks for all your help last night."
"No problem, glad I could help."
"So what are you and Rory up to this weekend? Big Plans?"
"Well, our big plan this weekend is that we have no plans. Dean is out of town, Rory's ahead on homework, Lane is at a bible retreat, and the grandparents cancelled Friday night dinner, so Rory and I actually get to bum around together this weekend for the first time in forever."
"Sounds fun, hope you guys have a good time."
"We will, and thanks for the coffee. Tell Jess I hope he feels better. Just give me a call if you guys need anything!" She waved goodbye as she headed off to work.
A few minutes later as Luke was clearing off some tables, Jess came down the stairs and dropped down in a chair at an empty table. He had put on his jeans and a pair of Vans slip-ons as well as his coat. "Oh good, you're ready," Luke said, "Just let me grab my coat and we'll go." Luke took the pile of dishes he was holding to the kitchen, let Caesar know he would be gone for a bit, and grabbed his coat from the rack in the store room.
Jess shivered in the car, he was focusing all of his efforts on keeping his teeth from chattering, but he was still failing. "Are you cold?" Luke asked, "I can turn the heat up a little more if you want."
"It's fine, I don't think it would help." Jess wrapped his arms around himself. Luke turned up the heat anyway. "We're almost there." Luke said.
The doctor's office was a small building on the outskirts of Stars Hollow and the waiting room was cozy and warm, and looked like it had been decorated by someone's grandma. There were doilies on the chairs and tables and lots of dried flowers and Norman Rockwell pictures on the wall. Jess slouched down in one of the plush chairs and closed his eyes. Luke went up to the counter to check them in with the receptionist. "It should just be a minute," he said as he sat down next to Jess.
A couple of minutes later, an extremely perky nurse in her early forties opened the door and said "Jess Mariano?"
Jess stood up and shuffled towards the exam room, with Luke following closely behind. "Good morning!" she said brightly, "I'm Gina, you just hop right up on that table and we'll get started!"
Jess climbed up on the vinyl exam table, his arms crossed, scowling at the nurse. "Just gonna get your temp really quick, honey!" She slid the thermometer under his tongue. "You need to take off that jacket and sweatshirt, sweetie, so we can get your vitals."
Jess slowly removed his jacket and hoodie. He really hoped he did not have to deal with this woman for much longer.
She strapped the blood pressure cuff around his arm and pumped it as she took his pulse. "Both on the high side," she said, "Guess somebody doesn't like doctors!" She took the thermometer out of his mouth. "Oh my, 102.9 degrees! You poor thing!" She patted Jess on the knee. "The Doctor will be right in, honey!"
Jess pulled his hoodie back around himself and leaned back against the wall. He and Luke waited in silence except for the occasional coughing fit. Finally, the doctor knocked and came into the exam room. "Hey Luke, good to see you. And you must be Jess. I'm Doctor Schmidt. Let's see if we can't get you feeling better." The doctor extended his hand and Jess reached out and shook it. Doctor Schmidt was a tall, thin man with a soft voice. He appeared to be in his late fifties.
Doctor Schmidt looked down at his chart. "So when did you start feeling sick?"
"Yesterday, when I woke up."
"And you obviously have a high fever, and Luke said you were vomiting, any other symptoms?"
"Cough, sore throat, headache," Jess answered hoarsely.
"What about body aches? Do your muscles and joints hurt?"
"Chills and sweats?"
Jess nodded again.
"Definitely sounds like the flu, but we're gonna check and make sure there's nothing else going on." The doctor pulled his stethoscope from around his neck and settled the earpieces in his ears. "Can you take off your sweatshirt and your t-shirt, please?"
Jess pulled both off at once, shivering as the cool air hit his feverish skin. The doctor listened to his lungs front and back and asked Jess to cough. "Your lungs are really congested and a little bit wheezy, but I don't hear any crackling. Looks like you could have some bronchitis cooking, though. Gonna have to keep an eye on that." He examined Jess's throat, ears, and sinuses, felt the glands in his neck, and felt his abdomen.
"Looks like it's just a bad case of the flu, but you're headed for bronchitis and it looks like you have an ear infection brewing as well. I'm going to write you a prescription for Tamiflu, which will help lessen the severity and duration of the symptoms. I'm also going to give you a prescription for some cough syrup with painkillers, but only take it if you are having trouble sleeping because of the cough. Otherwise, just let yourself cough so you can get rid of all that junk in your lungs. Try to lay off the Tylenol too, unless the fever is making you too uncomfortable to rest. Fever is one of your body's best defenses and it can help you get better faster if you let it run its' course. I'm also writing a script for some antibiotics to nip that infection in the bud." Doctor Schmidt turned to Luke. "Keep him warm and in bed and make sure he drink plenty of fluids. He should be feeling considerably better by Monday, though it could take a week or more before he's completely well. He needs to be fever free for twenty-four hours before he goes back to school, and if he's still running a high fever on Monday, bring him back and we'll take another look."
"Thanks Doc," said Luke, shaking Doctor Schmidt's hand.
"No sweat, you boys take care now," the doctor handed Luke the prescriptions and they were on their way.