Rating: PG (for language)
Author: Obi the Kid
Summary: Cal keeps watch over Niko when Niko's human side goes down for the count.
Disclaimer: The characters of Cal, Niko, Robin and the rest belong to Rob Thurman. I make no profit from the writing or distribution of this story.
I warned him. Not my fault he didn't listen.
You screw with my brother, you screw with me. And trust me you don't want to screw with me. I may look human on the outside, but inside I'm a whole lotta messed up.
I have no patience for anyone who threatens the one person on this planet who gives a damn about me. The one person stubborn and insane enough to give up any chance at a normal life just to keep me alive.
When you deal with me, you abide by one rule and one rule only. Don't threaten or in any way shape or form attempt to kill my brother.
Mess with Niko and you may as well start counting your final breaths.
Old freaky-eyed Morlan didn't abide by that one simple rule. It's not that tough, is it? One freakin' simple rule! You can come after me with Hellfire if you want, but you stay the hell away from my brother. Seems easy enough to remember, huh?
Well, Morlan lies six feet under now. At least that's where I left his corpse. He didn't grasp that one rule. Morlan and his bull-headed ways did the one thing I told him not to do. Not only did he try and kill Niko, but he did it right in front of me no less!
Yes, the stupidity of the world and those in it never fails to amaze me.
It was a solid attempt though, I'll give him that. Much too close for comfort, mind you. Niko will be laid up and out of commission for several days. Not so much his choice as mine. His injuries were enough to put most in the hospital for a month, but Super-Ninja kept his stay about two hours before we escorted ourselves out.
So, he's down for the count for a short time. My turn to keep watch. Hell, major injury seems the only way I can get Niko to take a break from watching me. It's no secret that I'm a bad seed. Not in Niko's mind though. In his mind, I am and will always be his little brother, regardless of anything else.
Too often though, Niko takes the brunt of what I cause. Much too often.
This time, I can do my part. At the very least, I can offer him a safe recovery.
The doctor warned of infection, despite his wounds being deep cleaned. I forced him to take the antibiotic. Lord knows, Niko can't fathom having any foreign substance being swallowed into his body. But for me, this one time, he obeyed the doctor. And I can see signs of a low-grade infection though becoming worse. My super-human brother never sleeps with the blankets tucked to his chin, but now, he's knuckled the comforter up as far as it will go without actually covering his head. Olive skin slightly paled. His blond hair darkening as the increased sweat dampens the edges.
We should have stayed at the hospital for so many damned reasons. And for so many other damned reasons we needed to leave. If for nothing else than to keep the staff there out of harm's way should anything supernatural stop by for a friendly chat or to try and eat me.
So we got out as quickly as we could and here we are. Here I sit, hating every moment of watching my brother suffer with fever and pain, knowing that his condition is a side-effect of having a monster-hybrid as a younger sibling.
The conscious version of Niko would have my hide for just sitting here watching him. Although he'd do the same for me and has done so more times than I could ever count. In reality, I suppose I have guns to clean or knives to sharpen. Informants to contact. Information to
gather. Normal things like that. None of that seems important right now. My only concern is laid up in that bed, as uncomfortable as I've ever seen him, battling those infectious demons that surface at the most inopportune times.
It's a long night, staying awake for your brother. Trying desperately to keep him warm, stave off the nightmares and convince him to wake every so often, just long enough to swallow a pill and a glass of water.
To be honest, it's scary as hell too. I don't often see Niko like this. Totally oblivious to things around him. Totally oblivious to me. This isn't the brother I know. This isn't the picture of health and stealth that can battle whatever the supernatural world throws at him. This is a glimpse of the one thing I could never ever deal with and still hope to remain sane - the fall of Niko. His fall would be that single event that I could never hope to recover from - that I would never want to recover from. Seeing Niko like this, it's the world's biggest wakeup call slamming me in the face and a screaming reminder that my big brother is very very human. And it's not something I like to admit for one simple Titanic-sized reason.
It terrifies the hell outta me.
My brother can take down half the supernatural world without breaking a sweat, but something as straightforward as an infection could take him from me forever.
But not today. Not this time. He can beat this one.
He found a moment of clarity around three in the morning on the second day. It was brief, but he used it to chew me out for sitting around the bedroom watching him suffer. It made me smile, which I think only served to confuse the hell out of him. That was okay though. Under the chills and fever, Niko was still Niko. And I breathed a little easier.
That same day, some six hours later, Niko's gray eyes – matching to mine – opened for a more extended period. The sweating was less. The fever was down. The pain would remain for a few more days. I tried not to stare too hard or worry too much when he silently asked for help moving from the bed to the bathroom. The request wasn't anything obvious unless you knew Niko like I did and I didn't question the need.
I walked him to the living room next and helped him find a comfortable spot on the couch. He sat awkwardly to lessen the pain of being upright. I offered him his favorite breakfast. Some type of grotesquely organic wheat grass smoothie and a bowl of fresh fruit…with a side of antibiotic. Naturally, with Niko being out of bed and feeling a speck better, he pushed the drug to the side. Yeah, like I was having any of that after these last two days of watching him fever out.
"You're gonna take that, you know. For once, little brother gets to push big brother around."
His slow movement to adjust his head just enough to glare at me was wishful thinking on his part.
"I mean it, Nik. Take the damn drug."
"I'm upright and the fever is down. I'm fine, Cal. Stop with the mother-hen routine."
"Until you can kick my ass without wincing in pain, I'm giving the orders. So, suck it up and take your medicine like a good little monster slayer."
I grinned. He didn't.
"Damn it, Niko! Just take it. Just…" I lowered my suddenly elevated voice and I pleaded with my big brother. "Just take it okay? For me."
He sucked in a deep breath and then popped the pill without chasing it down with a liquid.
But the drug was onboard. For me, he took the pill. And that was the only reason.
As I stared at my human brother, he held the look.
Niko can't read minds, but when you spend almost every waking moment with a person since the time of your first breath, well, it wasn't hard for him to know exactly where my mind was and the thoughts that were pounding inside.
He gave me one of his rare traces of a smile - a gesture often saved for me and me alone – as he said, "Monster slayer on the outside. Human on the inside. I can't change that, Cal."
The sincerity in his gray eyes flashed with a tinge of knowing; knowing that one day, that whole 'being human' thing could very well be his undoing.
"Yeah, I know." I sat next to him, trying hard not to move the cushions too much to cause pain. "I just don't like to be reminded of that fact."
"It's real. We have to accept it. Nice breakfast though. I assume you polished off your bowl of grease and chemicals already?"
I opened my mouth to lie, but thought better of it. Niko would know. He always knew.
"Cal, just because I get sick, does not mean you stop life. How long since you've eaten?"
"I had a pretzel stick yesterday morning."
Pain or no pain, Niko found enough effort to smack me in the back of the head. He paid for the movement, but from his point of view, it was worth it.
"Go eat. Now. While I'm awake. Don't make me force feed wheat grass into you."
I got up. "I'm a pain the ass, aren't I?"
"Don't make me say it again, Cal."
I ate. Sugar Puffs with extra sugar never tasted so good, especially after being drowned in chocolate milk. That's non-organic, non-low fat chocolate milk, mind you. I could see Niko's arteries hardening at the thought. I could also see his eyes sliding shut. I stepped back into the living room.
"Consciousness over, Nik. Time for bed."
Surprisingly, he didn't argue with me. And I had to admit, that threw me slightly off guard. I'd have started to worry again, but I'd never stopped worrying in the first place. With an arm around his waist we scuffled into his bedroom and I lifted his legs onto the mattress then drew the comforter and blankets to his chest.
I flashed an 'I'm sorry' grin his way. This time around, Niko was okay with the extra attention.
"Maybe a little mother-henning isn't all that bad from time to time."
I took up my spot on the bedside chair. "You've done it with me countless times."
"That's because you're a lazy-ass little brother that gets himself into more trouble than a big brother can keep track of."
I smirked. "Good thing this lazy-ass has that big brother around then, huh? I can't imagine what might have happened to this little brother without big brother around."
Our gray eyes locked for a moment, countless words and memories passing between us.
Niko's eyes eventually fell shut and I made no effort to move from my chair other than to straighten the blankets or check for fever from time to time. It was still my turn to do what Niko had been doing for me since I was handed to him as a naked newborn those twenty-some years ago.
I took my hand from his still warm forehead, sat back and began my vigil again.
"Sleep as long as you need to, big brother. Little brother will keep watch this time."