Summary: Kevin has a migraine and Tess worries.
Disclaimer: The show 4400 and any characters therein do not belong to me. Simply borrowing for silly fluff.
Author's Notes: I recently watched 4400 for the first time and discovered that Kevin and Tess were, perhaps, the most perfect couple ever. Their fluffy adorableness even managed to pierce through my incredibly non-romantic soul. I now want to write stupid inconsequential fluff about them. I care not that this fandom is probably dead; this pairing needs more fic to make the universe a better place.
One of the things I loved about Kevin and Tess was their devotion to one another. I wanted to write something that would show at least a part of that from Tess' side. Also, I have no clue if Kevin could still get migraines after getting his ability, but just go with it.
As usual, beta'd by no one but myself. All errors are my own.
There was someone in Tess' spot.
If it had been anyone else, this wouldn't have been a problem. But it was Kevin. Kevin was the only one in this place that she was pretty sure didn't want to see her dead. He was nice and sweet and wouldn't hurt a fly. So why was he in her spot? He knew that was her spot. The couch situated in a fairly isolated corner of the day room, that still received a good amount of natural lighting from a nearby bay window, was perfect for her sketching. She always went there at this time a day. Kevin knew that. So why was he in her spot?
If it had been anyone else, she would not have hesitated to march over there and forcibly remove them if necessary. But it was Kevin, and she was beginning to think she liked Kevin. She couldn't tell the doctors though, or else they might get rid of him. The doctors were always on the lookout to destroy the things that made Tess happy.
But Kevin currently wasn't making her very happy at all. Hitching her drawing supplies higher up in the cradle of her arms, she marched her way across the lightly crowded room, stopping close enough in front of the couch to properly loom over the curled up bundle laying on it. "Kevin, you're in my spot."
In response to her tense words, the bundle simply drew in more tightly on itself, face hidden in huddled arms and the angle of meeting couch cushions.
The corners of Tess' mouth drew down in an angry pout. She wanted to kick him, but didn't because she was still pretty sure she liked him. And the orderlies across the room would probably make her leave and then she wouldn't get any sketching done on the couch that day. "Kevin, you're in my spot."
Her fellow patient ('inmate' would be the more appropriate term, on her more uncharitable days) shook his head rapidly in the barrier of his forearms.
Tess sighed, dropping her supplies to the floor. (The orderlies, after a brief pause, considered her actions harmless and went back to their card game.) She reached out, grabbed a sweater-clad shoulder, and forced the man to roll over and face her. She immediately wished she hadn't because Kevin was crying.
Not the kind of crying she had done back when her parents told her they were canceling her sixteenth birthday party, all snort-nosed and hiccuping breaths and fat crocodile tears. These tears gathered at the outer corner of the eyes, lingering until they overflowed into sticky drying trails, and they were horribly silent. Tess didn't like these tears and she certainly didn't like these tears on someone she was pretty sure she liked.
"Kevin!" Tess dropped to her knees beside her scattered art supplies. "Are you hurt?"
Kevin, attempting to hide once more in the folds of his sweater, whined quietly.
Tess forced his hands down, searching his ashen face for answers. She didn't see any visible places the wires could have gone in, but that could have easily been hidden in his scruffy hair. She ran her fingers through the thin strands, stopping only once Kevin whimpered in pain, cowering from her touch. Her face scrunched up as something shifted in her chest.
"It was them, wasn't it? They did this too you." She cast a quick glare at the occupied orderlies, then leaned in close so her whisper wouldn't carry. "But how did they know I was starting to like you?"
A thought entered her mind then, a thought she found she didn't particularly like. Tess lurched forward, scraping her knees against the wooden floor in her haste, and pressed her face in even closer. "You didn't tell them anything... did you?"
Kevin retreated back against the couch upholstery, dark eyes wide. The sharp movement sent a fresh trail of tears down his blanched cheeks.
"Oh, no-" Tess glanced about, frantic, before pulling herself fully onto the couch. "Kevin, don't cry. If you cry, then they'll notice us and they'll take you away and put more wires in your brain." She wrapped herself around Kevin's hunched shoulders, the curtain of her stringy hair hiding both their faces from view. "Shh, it's okay if you told them, I don't mind. You just need to be more careful."
Tess mimicked a long ago memory from childhood - her mother's gentle soothings as the little girl that Tess used to be cried against the pain of a bloodied elbow – and carefully ran her fingers across his forehead and down across the temples. It felt awkward at first, both almost afraid of the unfamiliar touch. Before long though, Kevin began to visibly relax under her administrations, shifting slightly to pillow his head on Tess' thigh.
For a time, they stayed that way; Tess half-asleep from her own repetitive motions, Kevin's slow tears staining her loose cotton pants. It wasn't until the orderlies came to shepherd all the patients back to their quarters that they both jolted back to awareness.
It hadn't been a pretty scene, which only managed to escalated further with the inclusion of a couple of on-shift doctors. Kevin had been easy enough to escort out of the room and on to the institute's infirmary, still weak and half-blinded with pain. Tess had taken significantly longer to calm, after which the doctors sat her down to have a talk.
They told her that Kevin was suffering from a really bad headache, called a migraine. They told her it had nothing to do with wires in his brain. They told her a lot of things that she only half-listened to because she was too busy worrying if she would ever see Kevin again and how much of a shame it would be if she didn't because she was pretty sure she liked him.
This, and similar versions of this, became a familiar conversation.
You don't like seeing Kevin in pain, do you Tess? they would asked her.
She would shake her head.
You like to see Kevin feel better, don't you Tess? they would asked her.
She would nod.
Then you need to let someone know when Kevin gets headaches like this, so that we can make him feel better, they would tell her.
She would bite her lip and nod. But she didn't trust these doctors, not really, so whenever she found Kevin in her spot, she would oh so carefully lead him around behind the couch and out of sight. There, in the small area beside the couch and the corner of the room, Tess would sit against the wall and Kevin would lay on the floor. There, with his head in her lap, she would pet his temple and softly whisper whatever came to mind. There, she would soothe his pain as best she knew how and protect him from everyone else.
Four Years Later
"Are you sure you don't want me to go get Shawn?"
"Tess," the breathy voice floated up from the pile of blankets and sweaters that covered the length of the couch. "It's just a migraine. I've been getting them for years, you know that. There's no reason to bother Shawn just for this."
Tess bit her lip at the weakness evident in Kevin's voice. She knelt beside the couch and the lump that was her- boyfriend? significant other? most important person in the world? - and tentatively touched the the fingertips peeking out from beneath a blanket. The fingers twitched momentarily under her light touch before blindly fumbling out of their cloth cocoon and wrapping themselves gently around her hand. The palm beneath hers was sticky with a fine sheen of sweat, the thin fingers around her hand cold and minutely trembling. "Kevin... I really think I should get Shawn."
"Come on, Tess." Kevin moved the forearm that he had been using to shield his face from the world and let it flop limply to rest down on his chest. The gloom of the curtain-drawn room did little to hide the pallid wash of his skin, or the dark circles under the pain-pinched eyes that sought out Tess'. "I had these things almost monthly back at the institute. It's no different now than it was then."
Yes it is, Tess wanted to say. I'm different. Instead, she forced a smile "Alright Kevin, if you're sure. Can I get you anything?"
"No, I'll be fine." The couch-ridden scientist gave her hand a weak squeeze. Tess supposed it was meant to be reassuring. It wasn't. "Don't let your day be ruined on my account."
"You could never ruin my day," she said, then leaned over to careful press her lips against his knuckles. He lightly ran the fingers of his free hand once over the dark tresses on her bowed head, then tugged his blanket up until his face was again protected from what little light was still able to make it into the room.
Tess got up from her kneeling position, thick carpet imprint dimpling her bare knees. The bundle on the couch only gave the barest hints of life - Kevin's hands slowly retracting back into the safety of the blanket cocoon until only the top of the scientist's limp, disheveled hair and a pair of bare feet were visible; the sound of his softly labored breathing assaulted her ears in the otherwise quiet room.
Tess wrapped her arms around her thin frame, a frown tugging on her delicate features.
She went to go get Shawn.
Shawn Farrell was a busy man. Every time Tess went to his complex of offices within the 4400 Center, she couldn't help be feel like an intruder. Important people milled about doing important things that she could never quite follow, each with an air of harried significance. It had only gotten worse since the 'fifty/fifty' incident some months back involving Shawn's brother Danny, the aftermath of which had left most of Seattle under Jordan Collier's control. She sat in the nicely furnished waiting area, hands in her lap, and avoided as much direct eye contact as possible.
After a time, the door to the main offices cracked open, Shawn's pretty personal secretary partially stepping out into the foyer. "Ms. Doerner? Mr. Farrell will see you now."
As always, Tess felt a small surge of surprise that they were letting someone like her see such an important person; even after all these months of living within the Center itself; even after all the time getting to know the young healer on a personal level; even after both her and Kevin had come to consider the blond youth as a friend they could trust.
He always had time for her, Shawn often told her, for her and Kevin both. It was the least he could do, he said. Tess never could quite figure out why he felt that way. Kevin, she could understand. Kevin was important, just like Shawn was. Kevin had changed the world, and would continue to change the world, just like Shawn did. She wasn't important in the least.
Tess tried not to let her nervousness show as she got up from her seat, wringing her clasped hands but smiling politely as the secretary ushered her through the wooden double doors. Past the first room and through an open doorway, Shawn Farrell greeted her from behind his large desk.
"Tess! What can I do for you today?"
"Hello Shawn. I'm sorry if I interrupted anything important."
"Not at all. Please, have a seat."
Tess did as she was bid, perching on the edge of a rather cushiony chair placed in front of the desk. Shawn, hands folded on top of his desk, lines of a tailored Armani suit crisp against the fall of his shoulders, watched her movements expectantly.
She took a deep breath and reminded herself that this was for Kevin. She would anything for Kevin.
"I need you to look at Kevin," she finally blurted out, and resisted the urge to slap her hands over her mouth.
Shawn, after a brief pause, raised an eyebrow. "Is there something wrong with him?"
"No... Maybe? I don't know," she sighed. Shawn's gentle smile encouraged her to continue. "Perhaps. He has a migraine."
"He can still get those? I thought he didn't suffer the aches and pains of us normal mortals after he got his ability."
The mild teasing managed to conjure a ghost of a smile from the anxious young woman, which faded just as swiftly as it emerged. "He use to get migraines all the time back at the institute. But I haven't seen him get a single headache since he got his ability. I'm... worried."
"I can understand why."
"I know its silly and I'm sorry to bother you while you have so many things to do."
"Tess, it's okay. You want me to go look in on Dr. Burkhoff?"
Tess hesitated. "...I just want him to feel better," she said, her voice small. She knew she sounded silly and childish. She felt silly and childish
A faint look of understanding passed across Shawn's face. The studious appraisal of the hem of her skirt kept Tess from noticing. "I'll see what I can do," Shawn finally said, with no hint of hesitation.
The warm confidence coloring his voice did just as much to placate her as the words themselves. She raised her head and met his eyes straight on for the first time since entering the room. "Oh, thank you Shawn."
Shawn smiled. "It's the least I can do."
Though a blanket may have been covering his face, it was still fairly easy for Kevin to hear the hushed voices out in the corridor, the jangling of a turning doorknob; to see the the increase of ambient light spilling into the darkened room. Footsteps shuffled about - light and whispering, heavier and cautious. Kevin hoped that if he ignored whoever it was, they would take the hint and leave him alone. A futile plan of action, perhaps, but one he was committed to until his tired brain could come up with a better option.
Tess. Kevin groaned softly. Tess, the only person he would feel suitably guilty about ignoring. His willingness to follow through with his plan dropped significantly.
And Shawn Farrell. His arms laying on the armrest above his head twitched in raising agitation. He took a breath, ragged against the cloth covering his mouth. "...go 'way."
There was a cessation of sound from the pair intruding into his dark, quiet sanctuary. In an uncharitable whim of fantasy, Kevin could easily image those two exchanging 'significant' glances. Sound started once more, ending with a fluttering of motion and a displacement of air right beside Kevin's couch. When Shawn spoke up again, it came from a height approximately around Kevin's own reclined elevation and barely a foot away. "Dr. Burkhoff, Tess told me you have a migraine?"
The proximity of the young man's voice sent Kevin's head throbbing anew in time with the pounding of his heartbeat. But it was the emotion with that voice (gentle concern and patient stubbornness) that sent his plan (ignore them and maybe they will go away) sinking to a level of hopelessness. Unfortunately, the only thing he could think of to replace that plan involved spreading his own aggravation. With one hand, he swept the blanket off his face in a boneless gesture, the other he used to partial shield his newly exposed eyes. The flat of his hand did little to hide his glare, which he first directed at Shawn's kneeling figure, then transferred pointedly over to Tess, who was poised over the healer's shoulder. "And I told Tess not to bother you with this!"
Tess simply smiled, impish, secure in her love with the sometimes neurotic neurosciencist to not feel threatened by his surly mood. Shawn, on the other hand, just rolled his eyes. "Dr. Burkhoff, Tess is just worried about you."
"Well, she shouldn't be," Kevin grumbled. "It's just a headache."
"Yes, well... Dr. Burkhoff, it's just that neither of us thought you could even get headaches anymore. We just want to make sure that this isn't a sign of something more serious."
Inwardly, Kevin was touched. That these two people, who probably cared more than was particularly safe for their long-term emotional health, would bother to share a bit of that caring with someone like him... But Kevin, who felt uncomfortable and lost in large displays of true empathy, let that half-formed thought dissolve in the back of his mind. The question, though, that Shawn inadvertently posed with his statement, grabbed his scientific curiosity. And his scientific curiosity was more than ample enough to temporarily push aside the pain of a migraine on any day.
With a small grunt of effort, he hitched himself higher up against the couch's backrest. Tess would have affectionately referred to the tone that he adopted as his 'lecture voice'. "Not headaches, no, but migraines. This is only the third one I've had since gaining my ability. Science is still unsure about what exactly triggers migraines and I find it rather interesting that while normal headaches have stopped, the migraines still persist. I think it's rather telling, don't you?"
It truly was a fascinating subject, and one he planned on looking into further one day. As for now, it was about all he could do to carry on a conversation without his head splitting open. He sagged back against the couch cushions as a swell of pain sapped what little strength he had managed to store up.
"That's... fascinating, Dr. Burkhoff, but I-"
"If you're here to try and heal me, don't bother."
Kevin rubbed his brow with the tent of his fingers, adding counter-pressure to that behind his eyes. Answering questions of a curious mind, he had no problem with. He had practically made it his life goal to answer questions, others as well as his own. But explaining himself... That was a whole different story. He didn't want to deal with Shawn right then, or his well meaning prodding. "I don't want you to heal me."
The young healer sat back on his heels, struggling to keep the hurt and confusion off his face. "Dr. Burkhoff, you of all people should know my ability is perfectly safe."
"Safety isn't the issue here. You've more than proven your skill to be quite remarkable."
"Then if it isn't safety you're worried about, what is it?" Hesitantly, Shawn placed one of his hands on the very edge of the couch cushion. "Kevin, you have to know I would never hurt you."
"I know that." Honestly, the boy treated him like some sort of skittish animal sometimes. It was degrading and all he was doing was wearing Kevin's pain-shortened patience to a snapping point. "But your ability- You would be messing with my brain."
Tess, who had been watching their back-and-forth like a ping pong match, suddenly uttered one tiny little syllable. "Oh."
She quickly became the center of attention.
"'Oh'? 'Oh' what? Tess?" Shawn, wobbling a bit on the balls of feet, shifted in an attempt to bring both Tess and Kevin into view. He looked confused, and the tiny bit of rubbernecking he was utilizing wasn't helping.
Kevin, on the other hand, felt a sharp pang of relief, leaving him emotionally bolstered and physically drained. Tess understood. Of course Tess understood. She could navigate the pitfalls and conformities of social graces so much better than he ever could. She could fix this mess he had gotten himself into.
Tess smiled down at Shawn then, a polite smile she employed whenever she was about to say something perhaps not all that polite. "I think I might have made a mistake bringing you here. I'm sorry Shawn."
"I... think I'm missing something here," Shawn muttered after a brief pause, half to himself and half to the room at large.
"I'll explain it to you as best I can, later. For now, I think it might be best if you would leave." Tess' painfully polite tone matched her apologetic smile, but even Kevin could tell it probably did little to lessen the harsh dismissal. Not wanting to deal with (or even witness) the fallout, the small scientist closed his eyes and let his head droop towards the indifferent safety of the couch upholstery, effectively bowing out of the conversation entirely.
Kevin tuned out the rest of their hushed exchange. He attempted to ruthlessly beat down any guilt he may have felt for abandoning Tess to what was essentially his mess, but was already trying to plan out some way to make it up to her. Before long, the voices ended and the door leading to the hallway clicked softly to a close. Tess' equally soft footsteps padded to his side, and he rolled back over to meet her gaze, sheepish.
The smile she now wore was the one she saved only for him. It was small, and she did this thing with her eyes...
Still smiling, Tess made a small 'scooch' motion with a wave of her hand. Kevin obligated with the least amount of movement and energy possible. After a brief shuffling of humans and space, Tess sat, legs curled underneath her, at the end of the couch that Kevin's head use to occupy, and Kevin's head was now resting on Tess' thigh. Kevin sunk down into his new position, feeling the cotton of Tess' skirt beneath his cheek. It smelled like her, familiar and safe. His hands, tucked up near his chin, found a bit of the skirt's loose material and tangled it between his fingers.
"We haven't sat like this since the institute." Tess' fingertips touched his temple, trailing behind his ear and back again. The next pass lingered farther down the tense lines of his neck, with the faint added scrape of fingernails. "Everything's so different now."
Kevin eyes drifting shut. The pounding in his head was sinking like his muscles, pooling on the side of his head opposite Tess' tender touch. A part of him that wasn't constantly concerned with facts and lines of logic (perhaps also the same part that had believed that super powers were achievable through science years before the 4400's tangible evidence existed) liked to think that the pain was running away from the young woman's caress. "We're different now as well."
"We're better." The smile on her face was audible. Her fingers idled at the nap of his neck, combing the short hairs found there. "Kevin... Shawn would never put wires in your brain."
Kevin cracked open his eyes and found them focusing on the faint floral print over tan cloth that lay just beyond his nose. "I know."
"Back at the institute, the doctors always told me to let somebody know when you had a migraine, so they could help you. I never did, because I was sick. I was sick and didn't trust them." The fingers stilled, curling inward to gently cup the edge of his jawline. "You suffered because of me. I didn't want it happening now that I'm better. So I... got Shawn even though you didn't want me to."
"I don't like seeing you in pain, Kevin. I want you to feel better."
Kevin clamped down on the skirt material in his grasp, watching the flowers in his vision slide across the curve of of Tess' thigh in response. "Tess, I'm... I'm scared. I think I might be broken. Mentally. And if Shawn messed with my head, he might fix that. And then- then I might not be me."
"Oh Kevin-" Like years before, Tess hunched over, arms going around Kevin's head in a loose, cradling embrace. While not as long or stringy as it use to be, her hair still did an excellent job of hiding them both from the rest of the otherwise empty room. Kevin tilted his head just in time to catch Tess' lips with his own. The kiss (deep, chaste with pure emotion) lingered, fast to start but slow to part. Tess pulled back only far enough to meet Kevin's wide-eyed stare, own eyes dark and sincere. "You're not broken. You were never broken. You were just lost."
His throat closed. His eye stung. She was ever so beautiful. "And you helped bring me back."
"I always will, silly. I would even protect you from that nasty old Shawn Farrell if you wanted me to."
Kevin's soft burst of laughter was breathy around his emotions. Tess' responding laughter tinkled in kind. Another kiss followed, this time on the upturned tip of his nose. And another, this time at Kevin's insistence, where lips met once more.
The two spent the afternoon in a routine familiar to the pair who had grown close when no one else had understood. She, softly whispering whatever came to mind, soothed his pain as best she knew how. He, lightly dozing against her warm safety, never felt more protected in his life.