I wouldn't call this a side story to Hitmanstuck, but it is based on the same universe. This is just me being horribly self-indulgent with one of my favorite OTPs because I can't possibly do that in the actual story and be taken seriously because akuhwalrihrted

This was inspired by the fact that I've been sick the past week, and I feel like Jake would be a weenie like me and make a flu out of a head cold. And because I have this love affair with Vicks Vaporub because that shit smells like magic and if they made air fresheners that smelled like Vicks Jesus take the PRNDL I would buy everything.

I do not own Homestuck, and the Hitmanstuk AU belongs to blackoutballad dot tumblr dot com.

Eucalyptus and Menthol

Jake groggily rolled over in his bed as he heard the bedroom door open softly, then close just a few moments after. The blankets wrapped around his body snugly, with only his head down to the bridge of his nose revealed. He couldn't see clearly seeing as how he had just woken up and he wasn't wearing his glasses, and he blinked a few times to clear his vision. He heard the rustling of a plastic bag and the swishing of some kind of liquid, but all he could make out without his frames were John's silhouette.

"How are you feeling?" John asked him with a smile. He picked up his mentor's glasses from his nightstand and handed them to him, and the older brunet reached for them—failing a few times at first because of his horrible depth perception—and slipped them on.

Jake just groaned in response as he tried to clear his throat and sat up. The covers fell from his bare chest down onto his lap and rubbed the bottom of his throat with his hand. "Mm… This ol' fella's seen some better days… I can only breathe through one nostril, my nose runs more than that Leijon lass…"

John chuckled at him as he listed his symptoms with only the most hyperbolic of hyperbole. Jake was a terrible sick person; all he had, really, was a common cold. Jake being Jake, of course, felt like he'd been hit with the plague and blamed it on those blasted British for infecting him with the Black Death while he was there studying abroad. Nevermind that happened only over 700 years ago.

"Well here," the teen raised his hand holding a cup of instant noodles. "I made you some soup to help you feel better."

Jake examined the label and his lips curled slightly in amusement as the teen sat on the side of the bed next to him. "Instant ramen?"

John looked at the cup of steaming soup in his hand for a second before diverting his eyes away sheepishly. "…It's all I know how to make."

Jake immediately shook his head, as if to apologize if he had offended his young ward. "B-but if you made it for me, lad, I'm sure it'll get this ol' phooey of yours up and running lickety split!"

"Shut up," John laughed as he stirred the noodles with a fork. He gathered a mouthful of noodles and prepared to lean over to feed it to Jake, but he stopped him before he could move any further.

"I can help myself," the elder English smiled as he reached for the fork and cup, but John pulled them away from his reach and stared at him with a cocked eyebrow.

"But you never let me help you!" The young Egbert snapped in an almost whining voice. Jake had a terrible habit—at least that's the way John saw it—of feeling the need to help everyone do everything, from opening a water bottle to holding a door open. He also had an equally bad tendency to never accept help when it was offered, even if it was convenient for him.

Jake looked at him for a second in confusion, but he quickly relented and smiled warmly. "Okay, you. Just this one time, though!"

John's face lit up at that and Jake watched him blow on the noodles to cool them down and, once he deemed them cool enough to eat, cautiously fed the forkful to his mentor. Jake just smiled inwardly at him as he ate; he never understood why the boy would bother with someone like him, but if it made him as happy as it seemed to, he couldn't possibly deny him.

"I bought you some things at the drug store across the street while you were sleeping too," John said as he placed the empty cup of noodles on the nightstand and handed Jake a glass of ice water. He reached down at the foot of the bed for a plastic bag and took the contents out one by one. "Saline spray, aspirin, orange juice… Oh, this'll definitely help you." He reached into the bag one more time for a small cylindrical container and handed it to Jake.

"Vicks… Vaporub?" Jake read the name of the product outloud and turned back to John with a questioning look.

"I remember whenever I was sick, my dad always gave me that stuff to help me feel better."

The older brunet blinked. "Did it work?"

John chuckled a bit. "He said it would, but the stuff smells like magic and it clears you up real good." He took the container back and opened it up. He held the inside close to his nose and inhaled deeply. "Ahhh…"

Jake shook his head in amusement and reached to take the Vicks back. "Let me try."

"Wait," John paused. "I have an idea." He reached into the plastic bag again and pulled out a dust mask. Jake eyed the mask curiously for a second.

"What are you going to do with that?"

"Hold on," John replied quickly. He swiped his index finger into the cream inside the container and rubbed it into the lining of the mask. Turning to Jake, he put the Vicks down and prepared to put the mask on his face. "Lean forward a bit."

Jake silently obeyed and watched John slip the mask around his head and moving the straps over his ears, then fitting the mask snugly over his nose and mouth.

"Breathe in," John smiled.

The brunet did as he was instructed, then exhaled his breath in deep satisfaction. "Ohhhh…"

"How's that?" The teen laughed at him. Jake just continued inhaling deeply, taking in the strong scent of eucalyptus and menthol, then releasing the air through his mouth.

"Sooo good…" Jake rested his head back and closed his eyes in contentment. "Remind me to write your old man a thank you note."

The teen laughed again as she screwed the cap back onto the Vicks and put it on the table next to Jake's water and other medicines. He turned back to Jake, who was lying back down and pulling the covers over his body back into his warm cocoon.

"I think I'll just keep this bad boy on and go back to sleep…" Jake said tiredly as he put his glasses back on the nightstand and pressed the dust mask closer to his face and inhaled again.

John just smiled at him before taking his own glasses off, placed them next to Jake's, and sneaked under the blankets and curling up next to Jake. The elder brunet's eyes snapped open and looked down to John, who took Jake's left arm and draped it over the pillow so it would cradle his head.

"Hey now," Jake started in a scolding tone and pulled the mask down so that it rested on his chin, revealing his mouth. "You'll just get sick if you sleep with me like that."

John being his stubborn self just shrugged his mentor off and nuzzled his bare chest, placing soft kisses on his tan skin. "If I do, it can be your turn to take care of me. You know, since you like to do that so much."

Jake cocked his eyebrow up at that, but it quickly faded away and he just chuckled. John felt his voice rumble in his chest against his cheek; just as he got comfortable, Jake took gentle hold of his chin and lifted the teen's face to his, capturing his lips in a brief but loving kiss. Jake never understood why the boy would bother with someone like him. But if it made John as happy as it seemed to, he couldn't possibly deny him.

The older brunet wrapped his right arm around John's smaller frame, pulled him into his chest, and rolled them onto his back so that the teen was lying on his stomach. He kissed the teen's forehead gingerly as he felt him plant more kisses on his chest and sternum.

"Sleep now," Jake whispered to him. John just nodded slightly in reply, and Jake grinned goofily as he put his dust mask back on, deeply inhaling the scent of eucalyptus and menthol.

This is reason number 4892195634 why I should never be allowed to write because everything I come up with turns out to be the devil's work because of my boys being adorable and perf and gay jkaislrghairanrebh

Enjoy Life and Smile.