In Sickness...

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Napoleon was sitting on the floor of his bathroom, leaning against the high side of the bathtub, when his doorbell rang. For a moment he actually considered getting up to go answer it, but the idea was thoroughly squelched by another surge of nausea. Instead he scrambled for the toilet bowl and proceeded to retch into its depths.

Nothing came up but sour tasting bile. He'd never even made it to breakfast this morning and what little remained from last night had vanished in a swirl of water hours before. Just the thought bent him over the toilet again.

By the time he sat back on his heels, Illya was standing in the bathroom doorway. Napoleon smiled weakly. Further proof of his partner's thoroughness--how many other agents would have memorized his security codes after barely six months together? "Hi," Napoleon said, wincing at the soreness of his throat. "What's going on?"

Illya frowned and took a step into the bathroom. "I was going to ask you that. Waverly said you called in sick."

Napoleon raised an eyebrow. "And that brings you here why?"

"Napoleon," Illya said impatiently, "you never call in sick."

"It's a miracle I managed to do so today," he snorted. His stomach roiled heavily, but a series of quick swallows managed to keep it down. For now.

Illya wrinkled his nose and stepped forward to glance into the toilet bowl. Wincing, he reached out and flushed it. The loud swirl of water being replaced almost made Napoleon flinch. "Have you been in here all morning?" Illya asked when the sound died down to the hiss of the tank refilling.

"Yeah," Napoleon eased himself into a cross-legged position, but it wasn't that much more comfortable. The tiles of the bathroom floor were cold, and hard. They'd been cold and hard this morning and they'd only gotten worse the longer he sat on them. "Why, what time is it now?"

"Past eleven."

Napoleon winced. Three hours of vomiting. No wonder his stomach hurt as if he'd done a hundred sit-ups. Sit-ups. Napoleon lunged for the toilet again. Five minutes later he finally managed to spit out the last of the bitter saliva his activities had generated. Apparently he was even running out of bile.

"Napoleon?" Illya sounded concerned. Napoleon would have been touched if he weren't so repelled by his own state. Slowly, pressing a hand to his belly, he sat back from the toilet bowl. A glass, half full of water, appeared in front of him.

Blinking, he glanced up at his partner before accepting the offering and rinsing his mouth thoroughly. With the foul taste gone, Napoleon actually felt measurably less nauseous. "Thanks." He handed the glass back, uncertain of his own grip, and sat back against the bathtub.

"Should you see a doctor?" Illya asked, taking the glass and setting it on the counter.

Napoleon shrugged. "I'm sure it's just the stomach flu or something. I'll probably be fine tomorrow."

Illya frowned. "If you're going to be fine tomorrow, you should eat something today."

Eat? Napoleon shuddered. "I think not." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. It lay loose and disheveled over his forehead; he hadn't got to that either.

After a moment, Illya lowered himself to sit on the floor. He crossed his legs and leaned forward on his knees, since he didn't have a convenient bathtub at his back. For a moment Napoleon wondered if bathrooms were designed with sick people in mind. His certainly seemed to be laid out conveniently.

Normally he'd have picked up the conversational ball and gotten them rolling, but at the moment Napoleon just didn't feel up to it. His abdomen was so sore he was afraid of laughing--or retching--again. His mouth tasted marginally better since the rinse, but he wasn't feeling particularly erudite. So he just sat there and let Illya stare at him until he felt like speaking.

When he did, it was to voice a question. "Why didn't you call someone?"

Napoleon shrugged one shoulder. "Who would I call? Other than work, for obvious reasons."

"Surely one of your many admirers would appreciate the chance to nurse you."

Napoleon leaned his head back against the tub and laughed. "My admirers, as you call them, are interested in me because I provide them with three things: good food, good conversation, and--depending on the lady--good sex. All in all, an entertaining evening," he said. "Generally, we both enjoy ourselves. But none of them would be the slightest bit interested in my company in the absence of those things."

Illya raised an eyebrow. Napoleon shrugged. "I don't have any illusions, Illya. Most of the women who respond to me aren't looking for any more than that. I try to let the others down easily."

"I know you're not in the habit of self-deception," Illya said dismissively. "That's not what I was thinking." Napoleon shot him an inquiring look. Illya pursed his lips. "Well. If not one of them, you could have called me."

Napoleon's eyebrows climbed towards his hairline. "So that you could do what? Hold my water glass? I doubt Mr. Waverly would approve."

"He didn't seem to mind when I told him I was coming by to check on you."

"Well," Napoleon sighed. "You've checked on me. I will survive." The dismissal was clear, but Illya didn't move from his place on the floor.

"No," he said after a considering moment. "I don't think I'll go just yet."

"Why?" Napoleon asked, puzzled. "This can't be your idea of fun."

Something in Illya's eyes softened. "Of course not. But it's not your idea of fun, either. No one wants to be sick and alone."

Napoleon actually found he was smiling. A moment later he was scrambling for the toilet bowl again, but as he leaned over the porcelain a warm, gentle hand settled on the nape of his neck.

Suddenly he didn't feel quite so horrible anymore.