HB4-40/Whumtober day 25
This is a series. Start here, continued from here.
This is a sequel to Honor Bound, Honor Bound 2, Honor Bound 3, and Vera.
Content warning: migraine, emesis, death mention, mention of parent killing a child, implied noncon drugging
The room was moving slowly around Gavin, but he was lying still. He blinked his eyes open and winced as even the soft light from the crack in the curtains stabbed into his eyes, feeling like a knife directly into his brain. He squinted and groaned softly as his eyes slowly focused on his own hands, bound in front of him and lying on a pillow, and Isaac, lying next to him on his back, his pinky just touching Gavin’s.
Gavin stirred, and froze as the pain behind his left eye pounded harder. His stomach churned. He twisted his hands against the rope and winced as it bit into his skin.
He squinted – why was his left eye so blurry? – and looked at Isaac where he lay. Gavin didn’t want to wake him; he seemed peaceful, relaxed, his mouth open slightly, the muscles of his face soft and loose. Another wave of nausea rolled over him and he squeezed his eyes shut. He gently placed his hand on Isaac’s shoulder.
Isaac jerked awake with a gasp, his eyes darting over the room, his right hand curling into a fist. Gavin collapsed against the pillow with a moan. Isaac found Gavin and froze, then relaxed, all at once.
“Hey,” Isaac said, with a soft smile. His gaze flicked to the rope still around Gavin’s wrists. “Oh, shit,” he murmured, and hesitantly reached out. “Can I—”
“Please,” Gavin breathed. “Don’t… don’t feel good.”
Isaac’s brow furrowed as he fumbled at the knot. “Oh. What… what’s going on?”
“Head hurts,” Gavin gasped, as even the act of talking seemed to make the throbbing behind his eye even worse. “Nauseated. Don’t wanna move.”
“Oh, shit. I’m sorry. Is it…? Did something…?” Isaac’s hands stopped on the rope. “Are you… sure I didn’t hurt you last night, Gavin?”
“Yeah, sure,” Gavin breathed. “Please, just… f-fuck, hurts…”
“I’ll get Finn,” Isaac said, and Gavin sighed with relief as the knot came away. “Maybe they—”
“Just a headache,” Gavin said tightly. He carefully rubbed his wrists where the rope had cut into them, just a little, while he slept. “It’s… it’s just…” Just the movement of his hands was enough to tip the room around him. He heaved forward, leaned off the side of the bed, and vomited into the small trashcan there. Sweat broke out over his skin.
“I’m getting Finn,” Isaac said in a rush, practically leaping off the bed. He opened the door and disappeared down the hallway. Gavin groaned as he slumped with his head hanging off the side of the bed. As the blood rushed to his head, the pounding grew even worse, although Gavin didn’t know how that was possible. He dry heaved once, then retreated back until his head lay against the cool of the mattress. The cool felt good.
“…n’t know what’s wrong,” came Isaac’s voice as he approached their room. “I just woke up and he was—”
“Don’t turn on the light,” Finn said, their voice coming from the doorway.
Thank god for you, Finn. Please, please don’t turn on the light.
“Oh. I… why, is that…?”
“Just… give me a sec.”
Gavin could hear the soft sounds of padded feet on the floor, but quieter than normal, as if… as if Finn was trying to be quiet. Even so, the sound crawled under his skin and made him feel sick with it. The air moved around him as Finn knelt beside the bed.
“Careful, I…” Gavin’s mouth was numb. “I… I puked.”
“It’s fine,” Finn said, their voice barely louder than a whisper. “Ellis has had morning sickness all week. It’s just puke. You woke up like this?”
“Y-yeah,” Gavin mumbled.
“No recent head injuries?”
“Not… recently…” Gavin laughed, once, then moaned as the pain in his head ratcheted up another notch. “Oh, god.”
Finn huffed out a laugh of their own. “Okay, fair enough. Ever had this happen before?”
“No,” Gavin groaned. “Oh, fuck, what’s…?” He pressed his hands against his head, desperate to push away the pain. “What is this?”
“It’s a migraine,” Finn said gently. Gavin flinched as he felt Finn’s cool fingers against his head, carding gently through his damp hair. He groaned and pushed weakly into the touch.
“F-feels good,” Gavin whimpered. “I’m… s-sorry, I… I don’t know what’s… happening…”
“Honestly, I’m surprised we aren’t all having them,” Finn murmured, a smile in their voice. “They’re a really common symptom of stress. And—”
“You’re the ones who were stressed,” Gavin said, weakly. “You’re the ones who were being tortured.”
Finn blew out a slow breath through their lips. Finally, they turned to Isaac and said, “Please explain to your boyfriend what a dumbass he is. I’m going to get some ice. One of the theories about migraines is that they’re caused by a blood vessel in the brain dilating and putting pressure on the surrounding tissue. Ice on the back of the neck can constrict the—”
“Not a dumbass,” Gavin whispered, trying to ignore how his cheeks flushed. Isaac’s boyfriend? If he didn’t feel so fucking… sick…
“Yeah, sure, Gavin,” Finn said gently, and the air moved again as they stood. Their voice faded until it sounded like they were standing outside the door. “I’ll be right back, Isaac. I’ll bring a clean trashcan and clean that one. I could try to get my hands on some rizatriptan, too. A classmate of mine used to take it for her migraines. It works pretty well, from what I hear. If this is gonna be a regular thing—”
“You mean this is gonna happen again?” Isaac whispered. “Finn… he… he doesn’t fucking… Finn, just… just tell me what to do. Okay? Just… tell me what to do. He… he takes care of me, all the goddamned time. Finn, please…”
“Isaac… breathe. It’s a migraine. It sucks, but it isn’t life threatening, and there are medications that treat it. I can ask Edrissa if she knows any herbal remedies. She might—”
“You… you won’t tell her who it’s for, right? I mean…”
Finn laughed, softly. “I won’t let her poison him, Isaac. No, I’ll say it’s for Ellis. She’s been going absolutely bananaballs over that baby. She’d be happy to help.”
A pause. “…okay. I just… Finn, he… he doesn’t deserve this. After everything he did… I mean, yeah, no shit he was stressed, he walked the fucking wire for three weeks in that fucking nightmare mansion, for us. And… this is how he’s repaid?”
“I know. Believe me, I know. We’re all dealing with… various versions of this. Ellis says their morning sickness is way worse than the first two times. I’m pretty sure Tori’s got an ulcer, and Vera’s back pain has been… I mean, yesterday she could barely get out of bed. And… well. You’ve seen Sam. Although they’re getting better every day.”
“Yeah, but… Finn, could… could this be… I don’t know, a result of the head injury I gave him? I mean, that was almost a year ago now, but… could something that long ago be causing it?”
Gavin’s chest ached at the guilt in Isaac’s voice. He wanted to call out to him and tell him no, this wasn’t from the head injury, he was sure of it… but he felt if he raised his voice, his brain would catch fire and come melting out his ears like hot cheese. The thought made him gag.
“I… don’t think so. I mean… yeah, technically, it could be from that, but it’s way, way more likely that it’s from the stress. I mean… don’t tell Ellis I said this, but… I’ll never doubt his place in the family again, because of how much he sacrificed for us. His mother would have skinned him alive if she ever got even a hint that he wasn’t hers, and that he still cared about us. And he did all that anyway. It would have been… much, much easier for him to just go with it, and let her kill us one by one. I mean, she might have still killed him, but she might not. And he would be… I mean, fuck, Isaac, he was… tortured. And the torture he put himself through, lying for us… what he made himself do to you…”
“I know,” Isaac said brokenly. “There’s… no way I could ever thank him enough for what he did for us. For… for me.”
“You have a lifetime to try, Isaac.”
For a moment, the pain faded, pushed right out of Gavin’s head by his shock. He’d hoped they’d let him stay, but there was some small part of him that believed they were only letting him stay until rumors of their survival had faded, and he could be released again with minimal risk. He’d hoped they’d want him, as part of their family. He’d hoped Isaac would let him stay by his side.
The pain rushed back in and Gavin whimpered softly. Finn and Isaac were silent for a moment. The smell of his vomit was making him sick. He pressed his face against the mattress.
“You… you think he’d want me for that long? A lifetime?”
Finn sighed. “You’re both dumbasses. Yes, Isaac, I do. You’re… you’re literally the first person to ever show him what love looks like. You think he took you just for shits and giggles? I mean, for that reason, too, but… I think he wanted to see what it was that made you so special that you’d give yourself up for Sam.”
“I’m not special. Anyone else would have—”
“You are to him, Isaac. And to the rest of us, too, but absolutely to him. Now… let me go get some ice, okay? I can grab the trash can in a sec.”
“No, I… I can do that,” Isaac said, his voice low and gentle. “It’s fine.”
“…okay. Well, I’ll be back. Grab the trashcan from the bathroom.”
The voices faded. Gavin floated in the pain, every heartbeat grabbing him and pulling him back down into his body. The room moved slowly around him, the sour smell of his own sick rankling in his nose. There was a rustling, and when Gavin peeled his eyes open, there was a fresh trashcan on the floor beneath him. He sighed and pulled the covers up over his head.
After a long moment, several minutes or several hours, he couldn’t tell, he felt the mattress dip as someone sat next to him. The blanket was drawn back from over his head, and a cool compress settled on the back of his neck. He groaned softly as the cool pushed away the nausea for a moment.
“Thanks, Finn,” he whispered. Then, fingers trailed gently through his hair, and he whined softly. He’d know that touch anywhere. “Isaac,” he murmured.
“Yeah,” Isaac said softly, his hand moving slowly across Gavin’s forehead. “I asked Finn to let me bring you the ice.”
“Mmm,” Gavin moaned, and his eyes slid shut again. “Thank you.” His left eye ran tears into the sheets.
“I’m sorry you don’t feel well,” Isaac whispered. “I… didn’t know what you needed.”
“Neither did I,” Gavin mumbled. “Ice is good, though. And… and you. You’re… good.”
Isaac huffed out a laugh. “Ah. I just brought the ice—”
“But… it feels good. Thank… you.”
Isaac was silent for a moment. “Yeah, Gavin,” he said after a while.
Every heartbeat pounded in Gavin’s head. For a while, the ice helped. Gavin stirred and opened one eye, cringing when the light from the hallway stabbed into his head. “Do you… do you need to do anything else today?” he said weakly.
“I don’t have anything to do but be here with you,” Isaac whispered. “Unless you want me to go.”
“No,” Gavin sighed. “Stay… please?”
Every breath, every second, seemed to move through Gavin in slow motion. He thought back to the headaches he’d had after Isaac put him in the hospital. Those never lasted for very long, because whenever he started complaining of a headache, his mother would give him something that made him sleepy and dizzy, and he’d crawl back to bed and doze until it was over. For the first time since reaching the north, fear sunk into Gavin’s chest that if any of the team got sick – and Finn couldn’t help them – they were hundreds of miles away from the state-of-the-art hospitals that kept him alive when he’d been close to death. He curled into himself and tugged gently on his own hair, desperate for relief.
The compress on the back of his neck began to warm. Gavin whimpered, tears of frustration running from his eyes. He felt trapped in his own head, assaulted on every side by the faint light from the hallway and curtains, and by the sounds of the others somewhere else in the house.
Somewhere, in the back of his mind, was a vague memory of another cool hand on his head, a soft kiss in his hair, a low voice, soothing him as he lay in bed. Pain spiked in his head and he shoved the memory away. He didn’t need to think of her, not now.
Isaac’s hand slid down the back of his head and down his neck, under the compress. “Let me get a new one,” he said softly. The mattress bounced slightly as he stood. Gavin lay still as he walked out of the room, although all he wanted to do was to cling to Isaac, beg him to stay. The headache was getting worse.
A moment later, an eternity later, the mattress dipped again.
“Hey,” Isaac’s voice whispered, and Gavin could have sobbed with relief. “I have some tea… try some?”
Gavin moaned and obediently lifted his head. A cup pressed to his lips and he took a sip. It tasted herbal, sweet, with a hint of spice as well. There was a faint sound as Isaac put the cup on the nightstand.
“Wh-what is it?”
“Something Edrissa made,” Isaac murmured. “Tea with peppermint, lavender, ginger, rosemary, and honey. She said those herbs are good for migraine.” He pressed a fresh cold compress to Gavin’s neck.
Gavin moaned weakly. “She… tell her thank you,” he whispered.
“Hm. Maybe someday,” Isaac said. His voice sounded sad. “For right now… that tea is for Ellis, as far as she knows.”
“I hate lying to her,” Gavin whispered. “If she ever finds out, she’ll… she’ll hate me.”
The unspoken words hung in the air between them: she already hates you.
“Don’t worry about that right now,” Isaac murmured. “You can tell her once you’re better, if you really want. Right now, let’s just… focus on getting you over this. Finn already called into Burmingham to see if they carry riza— I don’t remember what it’s called. Sounds like they can order it and have it in within a week.”
“Hope I don’t get another migraine before then,” Gavin rasped, and pushed weakly into Isaac’s hands as he stroked his hair.
“Yeah,” Isaac said weakly. “Me… me too.” Isaac’s throat clicked as he swallowed. “Can I… do anything else? For you? I mean… do you need anything else?”
“I just need you,” Gavin whispered, not caring how that sounded. “Can you… can you just… I don’t know. I just want you with me.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Isaac said gently. His hand moved down to gently massage the back of Gavin’s neck. “Is that… okay?”
“Yeah,” Gavin sighed, and shuddered as another wave of nausea rolled over him. “That’s… that’s good.”
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