A/N: Ugh, feeling a bit under the weather recently so here's a fast sick!fic featuring our favorite neighborhood grump. Pre-slash if you squint, non-slash if you stand back about five feet away.

Everybody Hurts

John Kennex woke feeling ten steps past awful and well into horrible. It was the weather, he speculated gloomily, rolling clumsily out of bed. The change in barometric pressure. The wind. The air.

Whatever it was, he was having none of it, he decided as he glared at his reflection in his bathroom mirror. He was going to work, and damn anything that got in his wa-

Five minutes later, the sneeze caught him off guard and he promptly dropped his coffee on the kitchen floor.

"Son of a- damn it!" He hastily skirted the steaming puddle of ceramic and deep regret, and caught himself against the counter as a wave of dizziness overwhelmed him. His kitchen tipped and tilted alarmingly to one side, and he found himself squinting helplessly as his prosthetic tried valiantly to give out. He swore long and loudly, and only felt a little better at the end of it.

Clearly, he wasn't going anywhere today.

John didn't bother to remove his leg, dragging himself sufferingly back to bed and collapsing facedown onto the mattress. He was still fully-dressed, he noted vaguely, the impending headache he'd been holding back with sheer will now threatening to send him into next Tuesday.

Screw it, he thought blurrily, and closed his eyes.

The incessant beeping of the doorbell dragged him through the dark molasses of unconsciousness, throwing him mercilessly back into the fray of discomfort and irritation. He raised his head with effort from the sheets, a spot of warm drool still clinging to his chin, and squinted madly in the direction of his door. Not much time had passed, judging at the sunlight still streaming through the windows- possibly only an hour or two.

Maybe, John thought hopefully, if he stayed still, they would go away. He waited with the air of a man poised for tragedy.

The doorbell shrieked insistently, and he resigned himself to thoroughly ruining the day of some weedy salesman.

"Intercom," he grunted, hoping the security system would be able to pick up his slurred words.

There was a pause. Then, crackling over the hidden speakers, "John, it's me."


"John, I know you're in there."

John lay very still and tried not to breathe. His sinuses were clogged to hell anyway.

"I have a direct line to your biometric readings, John," Dorian said.

Ah, hell. "Stop saying my name," he croaked.

"I'm coming in."

"No, Dorian-"

"I am sorry for your door."

John wrestled himself up onto his elbows, grimacing as his head and lower back throbbed in complaint. "Don't you da-"

There was an ominous cracking sound and a shrill beeping that was abruptly cut off by a final crunch. John dropped back on the bed and groaned long-sufferingly into the mattress.

Moments later, Dorian strode calmly into his bedroom. John turned his face to the side, glaring balefully at the android with one eye. From where he lay, he could only make out to legs and half a torso, but he could well imagine the smirk that Dorian always wore when he thought he was being discreet.

"The hell are you doing here?" John eventually grumbled, his throat cracking painfully.

"You didn't call in for shift. I was worried," Dorian added, almost as an afterthought.

John closed his eye woefully and groaned again. He had meant to call in. He had. Ah well, another strike on his record was nothing at this point. "So you bust in here and wreck my door?"

"I was worried," Dorian repeated, as if he thought John hadn't heard him correctly. He crouched down smoothly and cocked his head curiously, his cheek flickering blue.

"One hundred degrees Fahrenheit."

John squinted up at him fuzzily. "Huh?"

"Your body temperature is at one hundred degrees Fahrenheit," the android repeated patiently. "Approximately thirty-eight degrees Celsius."

"So?" John tried to push himself up again, and growled irritably when a firm hand planted itself on his back and pushed him down. "What?"

"I believe you are running a fever."

"So?" Kennex repeated ill-temperedly. "I'm fine."

Five minutes later, he found himself on his back under the covers, out of breath but with plenty of expletives in his arsenal. "Dorian, what the-"

Dorian shut him up efficiently by jamming two fingers in his mouth, eyes closing thoughtfully as his circuitry lit up once more. John gargled threateningly around the obstruction, eyes bulging in outrage as he bit down instinctively on the digits wedged over his tongue and nearly cracked a tooth. Dorian withdrew a second later, wiping his hand calmly on his leg. "Fever." He nodded sagely. "Stay in bed, I'll be right back."

"You ass," John spluttered feebly.

Dorian cheerfully ignored him and left the room, and John could hear him puttering around in the kitchen. He lay there quietly, too exhausted to do more than sulk, and noted too late the uncomfortable chafing of his prosthetic. He didn't like leaving the thing on when he slept; it got to his joints in a weird, most likely psychological way and left him feeling disgruntled and peeved.

With an effort, he heaved aside the covers and reached down, fumbling with his belt and wishing uselessly that he had bothered to undress before passing out. He had to raise his hips off the bed to pull the belt off, and it took some creative heaving and wriggling before he managed to toss the thing aside and begin trying to work his trousers off without sitting up.

He had the zipper down and the trousers halfway down his ass when Dorian chose that very moment to return, carrying some sort of tray carefully in his hands.

"Let me help with that."

John flinched in delayed shock as Dorian set down the tray and leaned over him, reaching for the waistband of his trousers with sincere intent. "Whoa there, hold on-"

Dorian brushed away his attempts to reassert control over the situation with embarrassing ease, tugging the trousers off briskly and folding them neatly over the back of a chair. John blinked at the sudden rush of cool air against his bare skin, his prosthetic sparking and itching strangely beneath his hip. He curled his torso awkwardly off the mattress, reaching down to disengage the prosthetic.

"I'll get it."

"No!" John snapped, a rush of mingled protectiveness and mortification flushing up his already heated face. Damn it, it was bad enough that his partner had to see him like this, too pathetic to take off his own pants. John didn't let anyone handle his leg, couldn't bear to see it in someone's hands. He hated the damn thing, wished more than anything that he had his own flesh and blood limb back, but it was part of him whether he liked it or not. It was his battered pride and pitiful arrogance and it was a constant reminder of the mistakes he had made. The mistakes he never wanted to make again.

"John." He wasn't sure if it was the fever or just Dorian that made the hands wrapping around his wrist so unbearably cool. He stared up helplessly into synthetic blue eyes and felt himself crumble a little on the inside.

"Don't," he murmured uselessly.

"It'll be okay." Dorian soothed him like he was some kid, gently pulling his hands away from the prosthetic and pressing them to the mattress. "Lie down. Relax."

John felt those cool, unnaturally smooth fingers working at his leg, brushing against the burning skin beneath his hip, and flopped back onto the bed, covering his eyes with a forearm. "I hate you."

"You love me," Dorian responded automatically, and it was almost a part of their usual bickering by now. There was a faint click and hiss, and John felt the physical lightness that accompanied disengagement. With it came a certain sense of loss, the perpetual fear as he listened to Dorian walk to the charging port and begin hooking up the prosthetic.

"Brought you medicine," the android said presently, his voice closer to the bed now. John lowered his arm, staring suspiciously at the bottle of water and single blue pill his partner was offering. "I also called in for you. You've got the day off."

John took the pill with poor grace, complaining his way steadily through it until he found himself slumped back against his pillow, the covers pulled back over his torso, blinking drowsily at a thoroughly smug Dorian. "Wha…?"

"Nothing." Dorian sat down at the edge of the bed, turning his head so that he smiled wryly down at John. "It's just different, seeing you like this."

"Wassat?" John felt almost floaty, lucid as he was from whatever Dorian had slipped him.

Dorian took a moment to answer, reaching out and absently pulling the covers higher under John's chin. "Vulnerable. Not...prickly."


"Of course you are," Dorian countered amiably. "Like some sort of middle-aged hedgehog."

John spluttered halfheartedly. "Hedgehog-"

"Mmhmm. Not so much now, though. You're more like…" Dorian tilted his head consideringly. "...a cat."

"...hate cats."

"Sure you do."

John squinted at him, feeling like he'd been fobbed off somehow.

"That's alright, though," Dorian assured him. "I like cats." He placed his palm on John's forehead in a surprisingly human gesture, and John could feel the faint buzz of circuitry beneath a layer of synthetic flesh. Dorian's hand felt unexpectedly good, all cold and heavy and...cold…


"Mmm?" He was slipping off, eyelids drooping. Breathing felt a little better now, but for some reason he didn't think it was all due to the medicine. Dorian's hand hadn't moved, and he concentrated on the coolness against his heated skin.

The last coherent thought he had was a vague inkling of wishful thinking that, when he woke again, he wouldn't be alone.