The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania, December 7, 1922
Hi could you write something where A has been hiding sickness for a while now, but suddenly B got sick as well (maybe got it from A) and everyone else are too busy so they ask A to take care of B not knowing A is worse off? Maybe A even gave up some comfort items or the last meds for B?
just a disclaimer that this is all in good fun and not actually recommended treatment for the following illness - I just wrote purely from vibes lol 😆
A suppresses another cough in the corner of their elbow, disguising it as a clear of their throat. They’ve definitely felt off for the past week or so - deep aches and chills all the way to their bones, a constant cough, and the desire to just stay curled up in bed - but they’re not going to tell anyone that.
Instead, they pull on a sweatshirt and head down to the kitchen to make themselves a cup of tea to ease their shivers, praying that today is the day they finally take a turn for the better.
“Hey, have you seen the hot water bottle anywhere?” C bursts into the room, eyes searching urgently, just as A takes their first sip.
“Um…yeah, it’s in my room.” And it’s been my constant companion for the last two nights because I ache all over and can’t get warm for anything. “Why?”
“B woke up not feeling great, so I was gonna grab it and give it to them. You’re good if I take it?”
“…Sure.” A rolls their shoulders, rubbing their aching joints and trying to stretch out their sore muscles. They’ll take a hot bath later, then.
“Thanks,” C says, darting back out of the room, then suddenly poking their head back in. “Hey, A?”
“Listen, I’ve got a bunch of errands to run today and a work meeting I’ve got to go into the office for, and D’s working later at the hospital, so do you think you could look after B?”
A shrugs, clearing their throat. “Sure.” If C’s asking them, then B must be much worse off than them - so they owe it to them to suck it up and help out.
After they finish their tea, they head upstairs to B’s room. B’s curled up in bed reading a book, hot water bottle laying on their stomach.
“How’re you feeling, B?” Despite not feeling well themselves, A has to admit that B looks a little wan and peaked.
B sets the book down, coughing into their elbow. “I’m okay. Just a fever, aches, that sort of thing.” Their voice is scratchy, but they’re clear-eyed and alert.
Same as them a few days ago, then. Guilt washes over A - if they’d have just confessed to being sick, they could’ve isolated and B would be okay. This is all my fault. “Well, can I get you anything?” They try to brighten their voice, but overdo it and it just comes out sounding forced.
But if B notices, they don’t let on. “Maybe….some cough medicine? It’s all in my chest, and coughing hurts.” They rub their breastbone with a wince, pulling the hot water bottle over their chest.
“On it.” A shuffles off to the bathroom, pulling the brown bottle they know all too well from the medicine cabinet. There’s only a little left, but they don’t even give it a second thought - B needs it more, and they can text C to grab more while they’re out. Their hands tremble as they pour the remainder of thick liquid into the little cup, and they squeeze their eyes shut to try and stop shaking. Come on, A. Get it together.
By the time A sets the dose of cough medicine on the nightstand, their vision’s swirling in their eyes. Even walking to the bathroom was exhausting.
“A, are you alright?” B sits up in bed, eyebrows furrowed as they pick up the dose and knock it back. “You’re really pale.”
“I’m…I’m fine.” A sudden shudder rattles their teeth and they lean on B’s bed for stability. Despite their layers, their whole body’s just gone ice cold, a sheen of cold sweat and goosebumps covering their body. They tilt toward the bed and lean heavily against the mattress, bracing themselves with both their arms, suddenly finding it hard to take a full breath between the deep, painful coughs.
“A, I’m serious, are you sure you’re…”
But A doesn’t hear the rest as their knees slip, and they’re falling down, down…..
“A. Wake up. Come on, now.” B’s raspy voice cuts through the haze, commanding with an edge of fear. They’re out of bed and on the floor with them, looking just as shaken as A feels. “Get up. Please.”
A blinks awake, immediately aware that B’s at their side, tugging at their sweatshirt, trying to lift them off the floor.
“A. Get in bed. Now.” B’s voice is someone between stern and on the verge of tears. A’s so spent that they can’t even respond verbally, so as B half-lifts them with their remaining strength, A claws at the comforter to pull themselves up, up, until they tip onto the covers in a heap next to B. They cough deeply, the effort burning in their chest, and moan slightly. In a minute, they’ll get up and care for B.
“A….are you sick too?” B’s crackly voice sounds small and scared, and A wishes that they could spare them from this.
I should’ve said something. This is my fault. I’m sorry.
But a sob is the only thing that can escape their lips as they nod. They’ve been trying and trying so hard not to bother anyone with this, and now they’re collapsing in front of the only other sick person in the house.
“God, A, why didn’t you say something?” The words are angry, but A can hear the tremble in B’s voice.
“I’m sorry,” A weeps. “I just didn’t know what to say.”
“Hey, hey, you’re alright. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped.” B clears their throat, resting a hand on A’s shoulder. “You’re just scaring me, is all. Tell me what’s up.”
“I’m so cold,” A chatters weakly, hugging themselves. That’s all they can get out, anyways. In reality, they’re feverish and cold to the bone, shivering from head to toe, and their chest is on fire. They’ve barely done anything and yet they can’t catch their breath, and the air feels thick and heavy when they breathe.
B hurriedly covers them with a blanket, pulling them close and rubbing their shoulders, pressing the hot water bottle to their chest. A clings to it like a lifeline against their sore chest, but the chills still course through their body. Nothing warms them - they’re slowly freezing from the inside out, even though they can feel their head and joints burning with fever.
The next hours (or days - A’s lost all sense of time) are an absolute blur. They’re aware of a voice shouting, thought they sound like they’re underwater, even though there’re right next to them. Hands tug at their clothing, pulling off their sweatshirt, and in their fevered dreams, vultures peck away at them, and they’re unable to fight off the vicious birds. Cold, damp rags are laid across their forehead and over their chest and stomach, and to them, they’re trapped in the deepest ocean, and seaweed wraps around them and chokes the life out of them.
And the shakes - god, the shakes are unlike anything they’ve ever felt. Great, rolling earthquakes of chills from their core that rattle their bones and teeth so hard they’re scared they’ll break. At times, it seems the only thing keeping them together is the warm arms that hold them tight and the gentle whisper of comforting words in their ear.
When A surfaces from the dark hell they’ve been trapped in, they realize they’re still in B’s bed, covered in piles of blankets. D hovers next to them, fiddling with a small orange bottle, and the night table has been filled with all sorts of medical paraphernalia - medicine bottles, a nebulizer, a stethoscope and box of tissues. Perks of living with a doctor, they think, but they’re too drained to poke fun at B about it.
They’re acutely aware of feeling worse than they had earlier. Everything aches - their arms, their legs, their back and shoulders, especially their chest, and even shifting in bed is painful. Not to mention that they’re still freezing, and they can’t take a deep breath.
“What….happened?” They rasp, coughing between each word.
“Hon, you’ve got pneumonia.” D slides onto the bed next to them, pushing A’s hair back off their forehead to feel their fever. “How long were you feeling this bad?”
A shrugs. “Couple days.” D gives them a pointed look, but doesn’t push further. Instead, they pop open the small bottle and tap two pills into their hand.
“Take these,” D says. “B called me at the hospital freaking out, and we were able to chat with the doctors and get some antibiotics to pump into you for the next few days.”
A’s too tired to respond to that, so they just oblige as D slips the bitter medicine under their tongue, then props their head up so they can sip some water to chase them. As they sit up, the blankets slip from their shoulders and allow the cool air of the room underneath, setting off another round of shivers that send them clutching at the covers. D hurriedly tucks A back in, gently rubbing at their shoulders.
“Shhhh, you’re alright. You’re okay.” The chills seize their body for what feels like an hour, but finally, A stops shivering enough to ask the question on their brain.
“B, how’s B?”
“Fine. We still think they’ve got a bad cold, but they shouldn’t get nearly as bad as you if we take care of them.” D smiles sadly, gazing up at the ceiling. “They’re in your room - we didn’t want to move you.”
As if on cue, B pokes their head in the door, blanket wrapped around their shoulders. A’s awake enough to see them lean against the door, exhausted from their own illness.
“B, I thought I told you to stay-“
“Is A okay?” B asks it in that crackly, worn out voice of theirs.
D glances back at A. “Still pretty sick. But we’ve got some medicine in them now. Once C gets back with the rest of the prescription, I think we’ll be out of the woods.”
B nods, coughing into their own elbow. “Sorry you’re sick, A.”
A nods, stifling a coughing fit of their own, cinching the covers up to their chin. In that moment, B darts back into the room, carefully settling on the bed next to A while D’a back is turned. When D sees it, they exhale and roll their eyes at B’s clinginess. “B, you need rest. Go back to-“
“Can’t I stay here? Just for a little bit?” B’s voice is pleading, and they nestle closer and rest their head ever so gently near A’s stomach.
D finally relents. “A few minutes. But only until their nebulizer treatment’s done. You push it, and you’ll end up like A here.”
B nods, sneaking under one of A’s many blankets and wrapping an arm around A’s waist. D fiddles with something on the nightstand and turns around with the mask of the nebulizer in their hand, then gently eases it over A’s face.
“There. That’ll help your breathing a bit.” D rubs their hands together and surveys the room, and with every breath of the medicine A wants nothing more than to throw their arms around D and thank them for helping them be able to breathe better. But D leaves to go get something else, and B curls closer, pressing themselves into A’s side like they’re scared they’ll fade away.
“Don’t you ever sacrifice yourself like that again, okay?” B’s voice is shaky, and they gently rub A’s side.
A nods weakly, letting their tired eyes fall shut. They wish they could pull B close, but they can’t bring themselves to pull their arms out from under the warmth of the covers. So instead, they just roll toward B and hope they get the message. And from the way B hugs them tighter, A thinks they do.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
@coramatus! I BLAME YOU!
“Lady, wha–?” The Pearl Clan leader rubbed the sleep from her eyes, stepping aside as the large Noble pushed her way impatiently past, removing the basket from her back with gentle claws. The human crept closer, face twisted up in confusion, but the Sneasler didn’t have time for any of that. Not now. Not when.
Panicked mumbling. Murmured names, unfamiliar names she’s heard before, as her Warden shivered insensate among tangled blankets.
The young female gasped, ripping Sneasler away from memories tinged with panic. She was out of her depth. Being a Noble sometimes meant asking for help. When needed. The humans have always been eager to serve and they had a soft spot for her strange warden.
“Ingo? Hey, hey.” Soft. Soothing, interspersed with the wheezing, the crackling that had worsened over the last few days. But he’d insisted it was nothing. And she’d listened. Foolish.
”I am well, Lady. Just need to rest and repair. I shall be back on track in no time.”
She should have known.
“My Lady?” Worry was making her careless, robbing her of much needed focus. “We need Calaba, and she’s in the Mirelands.” Steel hardened her voice and the Leader was already pulling on warmer clothes, celestica flute held loosely in her fingers. “Will you be alright here until I return?” Sneasler tossed her head, plume fluttering as she drew back her shoulders, baring a hint of fang at her doubt. “Of course, Lady.” The door opened under a human hand, flute already lifting to pursed lips. Sneasler protected the basket from the biting cold while, haunting, the melody resonated in her ears.
A rush of wings.
A clipped conversation in worried tones.
Then nothing but the howling wind.
Irida pushed Braviary hard, desperate to reach the Mirelands before the blizzard hit in earnest, while explaining why over the wailing gale. There was still the return trip to make, and who knew what Calaba needed to pack in order to be prepared. Ingo’s snow-white, nearly translucent face flashed in her memory. Mighty Sinnoh, if Sneasler hadn’t brought him down when she had.
No. Don’t think like that. It’ll help nobody, least of all her most peculiar Warden.
“Faster, please. If you can.” Voice pitched above the roar, Irida asked for even more. She would apologize later and lavish him with gifts and offerings befitting his station. For now, focus on getting to Calaba and back.
Rumbling in her chest, Sneasler paced in the uncomfortably small space. After unfolding her human from the basket and churring away his breathless, half-formed questions, she’d tucked him into the Pearl Leader’s nest, arranging the many warm things to her liking before stirring up the remaining embers with a claw. The new wood she added caught quickly and before long she was far too warm even as her Warden still shook with chills. Breaths wet and labored and uneven, he leaned into the back of her massive paw when she laid it over his hot, hot forehead. Nervous, she groomed him, brushing back sweat soaked strands of silver-white hair tinged orange in the reflected light of the fire with a sandpaper tongue.
“M’mmet...” She could hear the crackle of dry leaves when he breathed. The damp in his chest was worsening and there was already precious little room.
Where was the female? If she didn't return soon and with help– What if the storm blew them off course? No. Braviary was strong. He would fly fast and true.
"Derail that train of thought, Lady. You are worrying over delays and detours that have not yet come to pass."
Whatever her human meant by that, it was a comfort. She wished he would say it now, notice her like no one else did when her mind ran away with itself. The cry she made out of frustration roused her human and he coughed painfully, reaching out for something (someone) she couldn’t provide. Instead, Sneasler nudged his arm back into the nest, nuzzling his flushed cheek in a way she hoped would soothe until the sound of footsteps crunching in the snow and Braiviary’s departing call drew her back to the moment. A blast of cold air hit her back just as relief punched her hard in the chest. The humans were back, the humans would fix this, fix him.
The relationship between Warden and Noble was complex, deep in a way Irida knew she would never fully understand and never more clearly illustrated than in the sight before her. Sneasler was crouched low, purring against Ingo’s side and whispering softly in her language whenever he made sounds of discomfort. She didn’t stop in her ministrations, merely turned toward them with hope brimming in her red eyes. Calaba approached with caution, asking the Noble first if she could see her charge and bowing respectfully when the giant Pokemon shifted to make room.
“Warden Ingo?” Gently and under Sneasler’s careful watch, Calaba felt for his pulse and touched the backs of her fingers to his face. “Can you hear me?” She knuckled his chest and didn’t even flinch when Sneasler growled at her Warden’s groan of pain. “There you are.” Glassy silver gleamed in the firelight at her soft praise. “Do you know where you are?”
“Ca…” Oh, and his voice was so small as he glanced around the unfamiliar room. She nodded, feeling under his chin firmly. His throat clicked with a heavy swallow. “I, I don’ remember.” He paused to catch his breath, wet dry lips. “Apologies.” Blown pupils rolled up under fluttering lids.
“None of that, young man.” She stepped away, hand lingering on his shoulder. “Sit him up for me.” Irida was thankful for Calaba’s no-nonsense attitude because she certainly didn’t know what to do here. Illnesses like these… well in this harsh landscape, once the wet collected in a creature’s lungs like this there was little to be done. Ingo whined low in his throat at the touch of cold hands on his feverish skin and Lady Sneasler growled in warning, narrowed eyes flashing like Gengar's Curse.
“We’re going to help him, you have my word.” Irida continued, pulling his lax weight forward and holding him there when he threatened to topple backwards. This was bad. Head hanging limp, chin touching his stuttering chest, Ingo's vacant eyes were half lidded and limned in deep shadows. How’d she let this happen on her watch? Irida startled when Sneasler settled on the bed next to him, ears pitched forward in watchfulness as the medicine woman divested Ingo of his coat and tunic, tugging uncoordinated limbs out of his black undershirt. His Noble didn’t look convinced, and probably wouldn’t be while her Warden was so confused and upset. “I promise.” Irida took Ingo’s hands, squeezing gently and running her thumbs over the back of each until gradually he settled into his delicate trembling.
“Hush, both of you. I need to listen.” Ingo shook in the relatively warm air of the tent while Calaba thumped her fingers on his back seemingly at random, ear pressed close, frown etched in stone and face unreadable. The Noble fidgeted beside her Warden, supporting him as he collapsed ever sideways by inches, quaking fingers winding into her coarse fur while enduring the examination.
“Wan‘Mmet…wha…whe–!!” A fit of coughing stole away whatever he’d been trying to say along with the air in his body and it was only Irida’s firm grip on his shoulders that kept him from curling inwards. The man in white. Was that the name he’d been searching for? Was that who he was asking for?
“It’s alright, you’re okay.” Across from her, the Noble mimicked her sounds in a chirruping tongue, nuzzling his temple and holding him fast. Calaba crushed ingredients from her satchel in the mortar and pestle she’d brought and the scent of Gentle Mint wafted from the bowl in her ancient hands.
“Hold him still.” Not without care, Calaba smeared the remedy over jutting collarbones, offering him a sip of warm water from the kettle over the fire when he was able to breathe again, eased by the crushed herbs. As quickly as she paused, the woman resumed her examination, pinching the skin over his ribs, smoothing her fingers over old scars, checking his eyes, mouth, and ears before finally settling him back in the bed, propped up on several pillows and Lady Sneasler. “How long has he been ill?” Irida didn’t know. She’d been busy with her duties preparing for the storm and hadn’t had the time to visit her Wardens or their Nobles. Sneasler held up a huge paw. “Three days?”
“Snea.” A firm confirmation. Calaba held her chin in thought, brow furrowed.
“So fast.” Irida covered her mouth with both hands, tears prickling in the corners of her eyes.
“Warden Ingo isn’t the only thing thin in the mountains.” Again, the Noble agreed. “Being unused to the thin air, this probably happened too quickly for him to realize and by then it was too late.” Sneasler made a mournful sound. “Even small ailments can be cause for concern for the unwary.” Outside, the wind picked up. Calaba began unpacking. “He can’t be moved; not in this cold.”
“Of course.” Of course she would gladly give up her tent if it meant Ingo would recover.
“I’ll stay through the worst of it.”
“He’ll be okay?”
“We’ll know soon enough.” Deft, practiced hands began slicing leeks into even pieces and Irida did her best to help, sparing a smile when smoothing a cold cloth over Ingo’s closed eyes resulted in a sigh of relief.
The humans worked through the night, plying her Warden with teas and tinctures made of familiar ingredients combined in unfamiliar ways. A sticky paste of leek and berries and various mints wrinkled her sensitive nose when it was spread across his skin but she had to admit it alleviated the pain and made his breathing easier. In the heat of the den, he was a brand against her, matting her own fur with sweat and burning up under her claws where she pet his head. Humans weren’t meant to burn this bright and she feared he’d burn entirely away at this rate. But her presence was a comfort, that much she knew, so she kept up her purring, her careful touches, while both healer and leader worked to save him. It was late morning when they were satisfied enough with his condition to sleep themselves.
Sneasler heard him first, felt him shaking against her, and scented salt in the air. She licked the tears from his face, thrumming in what she hoped was a comforting way, but they kept coming. Faster and faster, breath hitching until he’d worked himself into such a frenzy he risked choking.
“Ingo, Ingo. Shh.” The human Irida leavered him up, pressing him close as he scrabbled to hold onto her, hold onto someone, even if they weren’t who he wanted, needed.
“Where…where, he promised. Promised me.” His sentences were broken into fragmented pieces where he gasped for air in between words.
“I know. He’d be here if he could.” Of that much they could all agree. She held him upright when he began losing strength, slumping into her arms as his own fell to the sides, chin resting on her shoulder as he wept. Sneasler groomed his face while the healer bustled around, collecting different mixtures and readying them.
“Why? Why isn’t he h’here?” Irida met her eyes briefly, reflecting the agony of being unable to help.
“I’m so sorry, Ingo. I wish I knew.” Carefully, the last thing her Warden needed was an accidental poisoning at this stage, Sneasler cradled him in her claws, folding him up and letting him cling to her fur.
Someone was missing.
Someone who should be here and wasn’t.
Someone who’d promised.
”We’re a two car train.”
And what did that mean? And where was he? When Ingo felt so awful and sick and couldn’t breathe and he should be here. Merciful Sinnoh, he was so dizzy, his head ached, his whole body ached, joints screaming, chest burning and tight and it was so hard to breathe. The arms holding him weren’t right, none of this was right.
Where was he?
Soft swipes of a scratchy tongue distracted him though he couldn’t stop sobbing like a small child for the person he was missing. The voices around him weren’t right. He was exhausted, wheezing desperately through cough after cough after cough and why couldn’t he breathe?
Where was he?
He was pulled away from the wrong, gathered up. Held, held, held and he wound trembling fingers into familiar fur.
Where was he?
A warm rumbling relaxed his pounding heart without his permission. A cold nose, a damp tongue bathing his hot face, unsticking the sweat-damp hair from his forehead so gently as though he might break.
A roughhewn cup pressed against his lips, crisp, warm steam cleared his mind and something sweet and hot flooded his mouth.
“Just sleep, Ingo.” The answering chirp seemed to agree this was best. “It’ll be okay. We’re here.” Another mouthful was coaxed into him. “Just sleep.”
If you insist.
Sneasler was proud.
A lesser being would surely have succumbed to this. Not her Ingo. He fought. Unyielding and uncharacteristically quiet. But he was so tired, an empty vessel in her claws where he’d remained since waking in a panic days before. The human named Calaba was silent, preparing the next doses of medicine and Leader Irida was checking on the rest of the clan now that the worst of the storm had passed.
Here in the leader’s den, it was a bad night.
Her human was uncomfortable and sore, twisting weakly in his troubled sleep, fingers knotted in the blankets over his chest in a vain attempt to relieve the pressure drowning him. The old female approached and Sneasler tipped her Warden’s pale face towards her, counting the drops poured on his tongue, daring to hope that this would lower his fever and eventually, hopefully, it would begin to break. Ingo needed a break or this would be the end of him. Sneasler nudged his cheek, hissing through her fangs at the heat in him, somehow higher than before, and when heavy lashes parted there was no recognition there. His gray eyes, slightly crossed, unfocused, passed through her, looking, no doubt, for the human in white.
“Here Ingo, drink this down.” A wrinkled hand helped guide him away from his futile search, attempting to draw his attention. “Do you know me, young man?” Roaming eyes caught on the shadows, got stuck there while Sneasler’s heart caught in her throat.
“Ingo?” The quiet expanded to fill the den, broken only by the raspy inhale-exhale of the human in her arms as he puzzled. One beat. Two. Too many. His mind was already wounded, what if this stole away the rest of him? He blinked hard, coughed, met her gaze again.
“Nnh…Lady?” A familiar hand reached for her, scratched under her chin and traveled behind her ear in that way she liked. “You’ve been working too hard.” The old healer chuckled in disbelief.
“And it’s your fault.”
“A’ah.” This time the flush painted high in his face had little to do with the fever.
“Indeed. Drink this.” He held his head when sitting up sent him reeling but was able to hold the cup on his own. Exhausted, Ingo followed Calaba’s directions, subjecting himself to her examination without complaint. “Long way to go, but you’ll mend.”
“Ingo?!” The Pearl Clan Leader startled them all, surprising her Warden into hacking around the tea choking him. “Oh thank sweet Sinnoh.”
“And YOU.” She grabbed him by his shoulders and glared like an angry Zoroark. “Don’t do that to us again!”
“You scared us half to death.”
“I am so–”
“Not to mention how difficult finding a new warden would be at this time.”
“Caused us so much trouble.”
“Happen again! It better not.” Irida took a deep breath, tugging the blankets up and smoothing them over his arms. “Or there’ll be worse coming for you.”
“Yes, Lady Irida.” He accepted the broth pressed into his hands next. “I must apologize. By the time I realized what I’d so foolishly allowed to happen I was in no state to help myself.” He glanced up into Sneasler’s face. “I am certain it is you, dear Lady, who I owe thanks to most of all.” Embarrassed, she looked away, growling out an order to eat and recover while her traitorous purring gave away the happiness and relief welling in her chest.
Ingo allowed the fuss, sensing how his close call worried the ones he felt closest to. He couldn’t help feeling as though someone was missing, that another smiling person should be beside him, chiding him for overworking (only to turn around and do the same days later). But like all the vague notions he had about himself, the feeling stayed locked behind the same wall he’d run into when first he woke in this strange place. He’d tried to excuse himself once realizing he was taking up his Leader’s bed but she wouldn’t hear of it and honestly, he didn’t have much fight left in him to protest. He was tired. Not in the bone deep, desperate way he’d been before, but tired nonetheless. Calaba’s medicines took the edge off the aching in his chest and the urge to cough, but had the unfortunate side effect of making him even sleepier and once he’d made the mistake of yawning, Lady Sneasler wasted no time in pushing him down like he was an unruly sneaslet. She licked the side of his head, once, twice, no doubt standing his unwashed hair on end, but as he slipped out on a tide of friendly, familiar voices Ingo couldn’t find it in himself to mind.
20th January - Do you do any winter sports?
Well no, can we count studying tho?
On a side note; Today I didn’t feel like doing anything however Im pushing through and I did 1/4 of my to do list (more updates on that!)
Rest in Peace
What would a caretaker have to do to treat someone after they find them washed up on a beach after a devastating shipwreck?
If we assume they’re breathing, have a pulse and don’t require CPR, then they may need to deal with things like:
Hypothermia [x] [x]
Salt water aspiration syndrome [x]
Delayed drowning [x]
Whatever battery and injuries result from the wreck
Into the Silence -5
Warnings: Fever, panic attack, begging, half-delirious whumpee, crying, fear of asphyxiation, past torture reveal, past breath control torture, oxygen mask, self harm scars, self harm mention.
Taglist: @whumpwillow, @purple-heart-x, @whumpsday, @everynameistakencarrots, @equestrianwritingsstuff
NOTE: If anyone wants to be removed from the taglist due to the self-harm, please let me know. I totally understand.
Caspian drifted in and out of consciousness, plagued by fever dreams and nightmares. He found no relief upon waking up, finding himself restrained each time, still with the mask strapped over his face.
A shudder ran through his body, and he once again tugged against the unyielding restraints, whimpering in distress when he got the same result as always. Helpless, he gave up struggling, smacking his head against the pillow with a useless moan.
“Ssssshhhh, relax.” A soft female voice said, as a gentle hand brushed his sweat-soaked hair back.
Caspian looked up into light blue eyes, unable to help the tears in his own. His stomach and chest throbbed, his broken ribs protesting with each shallow breath.
“Ghost.” He mumbled weakly. “Please.”
“Take it off.” He begged. “Please.”
“I can’t. It’s-”
“I-I can’t do this again.” Caspian moaned.
“Can’t do what again, Wrath?”
The supervillain looked up at her with fever-glazed grey eyes.
“D-don’t t-tighten the r-ropes again.”
“What ropes? Wrath, there aren’t any ropes.”
“Please.” He whispered again, tears threatening to spill over his lashes. “D-don’t tighten them... don’t leave me like this.”
“Wrath, what are you talking about?” Bella asked, concerned.
“E-Evernight... he would... he would... t-tighten r-ropes around m-me, then t-tie them o-off and l-leave me f-for h-hours.” His glazed eyes met hers. “Please d-don’t. I won’t c-cause any trouble. D-don’t turn o-off the air s-supply... Please.” He sobbed.
Bella felt sick, it was no wonder the poor guy was so terrified of the oxygen mask. He thought they were going to suffocate him by turning off the oxygen.
Bella reached up, wincing at how Wrath cringed back, and pulled the mask away from his face, before shutting off the supply valve.
Then, she paged Joe.
The supervillain’s breathing was a laboured, wet sounding rasp, but he had visibly relaxed the moment that the mask was removed.
“You called?” Joe asked, appearing in the doorway.
“I need you to get oxygen tubes for his nose.” Bella replied.
Joe frowned. “What’s wrong with the mask?”
“It’s scaring him.”
“Ghost, he’s vicious, you and I both know what he’s capable of. He can live with with a bit of nerves over an oxygen mask.”
Joe’s eyes softened slightly, and he sighed. “Fine. I’ll be back in a minute. I need to check him over anyway.”
“Thank you.” Bella said, sincerely. Joe gave her a crooked smile.
“Only for you, my little Poison Pill.” He said, an affectionate smile on his face. The two had been like siblings from the day they’d met.
“I’m taller than you.” Bella replied, and Joe scowled playfully. The fact that he was 5′3 was often brought up when he called Bella little.
“Yeah yeah.” He said, walking out.
Caspian flinched as the Medic approached him, holding some kind of packaged tubing in his hand.
“W-what is that?” He stammered, trying to sit up, panic momentarily causing him to forget about the restraints.
He let out a sharp yelp as the strap across his abdomen tightened over his broken ribs.
“It’s some nasal tubing. You need to stay on oxygen, but Ghost said that the mask was upsetting you.”
The medic set the tubing down, and pulling out a stethoscope. Then the other man reached out, and pressed against his chest.
Caspian gasped at the pressure on his broken ribs, trying to squirm away as it increased.
“Lie still, Wrath.” The medic said quietly, he looked almost pained.
“Oh God, please stop.” Caspian begged, yelping as another spike of pain shot through his chest. “Ghost!” He cried. “Please, help me! M-make him s-stop!”
The girl appeared in his peripheral vision, and he craned his neck look at her.
“Please.” He begged again. “Help me.”
“Wrath, sssshhh.” She murmured, kneeling beside him. “I know you’re scared, but we’re trying to help you. He’s just trying to check your ribs... and your pneumonia.”
“It hurts.” Caspian groaned.
“I know.” Ghost said quietly, placing her hand on his forehead. Caspian pressed weakly into her touch.
“What’s your name?” She murmured. “Your real name?”
“Caspian.” He rasped, far past caring about keeping his identity secret.
“That’s a pretty name.” She replied. “I’m Belladonna. Bella, for short.”
“Bella.” Caspian murmured tiredly. “Please, don’t let him hurt me.”
“Hush. I won’t.” The girl replied.
After Joe had finished, and Caspian was sleeping again, Bella went for a shower.
She stripped her T-shirt off, looking into the mirror at the mess of cuts and scars on her stomach.
Some were years old, others less than a day.
Shame washed over her, as it always did when she saw the ugly mess, but it was never enough to stop her.
She turned away from the mirror, and stepped into the shower, pulling the curtain closed.
I fucking have pneumonia. It wasn't allergies; it wasn't just dust. I'm not "overreacting" and wasn't just tired.
I have pneumonia.
Fandom: Batman - All Media Types
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Tim Drake & Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake & Jason Todd, Tim Drake & Dick Grayson, Tim Drake & Alfred Pennyworth
Characters: Tim Drake, Bruce Wayne, Jason Todd, Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth
Additional Tags: Sickfic, Sick Character, Pneumonia, Tim Drake-centric, Tim Drake Deserves Love, Hurt Tim Drake, Jason Todd Lives, Good Sibling Jason Todd, Good Sibling Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne is a Good Parent, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, who's canon. don't know her, hurt/comfort
“Bruce?” And damn, if that didn’t make Jason want to cry right there. Tim’s voice was full of disbelief, more vulnerable than he ever let it get, even when it was just him and Jason. Beneath it, running fast and strong, was fear.
Bruce pressed down the gas harder.
“Hey buddy, we’re on our way, ok? Stay on the line. We’ll be with you in two minutes.”
Au where Jason didn’t die and instead realizes that the neighbor kid goes to his school and has no friends. This comes in handy, despite Tim’s extreme reluctance, when Tim gets sick a few months after he and Jason become friends. He really doesn’t understand why Jason cares so much, and when Bruce gets involved, he really doesn’t understand why he cares.
i’m not sure if you’re accepting asks, but 🥶🤍🐼 & something possibly involving whumpee havjng nightmare? i love your writing <3
thank you so much!! ask and you shall receive - sorry this took so long!
🥶 - chills / shivers | 🤍 - forehead kisses | 🐻❄️ - warm cuddles
“I f-feel s-so c-c-cold,” B whimpers through chattering teeth as A tucks their shaking form under the covers after helping them back from the bathroom.
“Shhh, I know, I know it sucks.” A lays a gentle hand on their shoulder, careful and gentle against B’s aching muscles, before pulling the covers up to their chin. “Just hang on.”
B shudders again - they’re freezing, despite the warm pajamas and the mound of blankets covering their feverish body. Goosebumps prickle on their damp skin, and they hug themselves tighter under the covers to try and regain the warmth they lost from leaving bed. “C-can I have one m-more b-blanket? P-please?”
A darts to the corner of the room and snatches a fluffy quilt off the chair, draping it over B’s curled up form and tucking it round their body. “Just one more, okay? I don’t want your fever too high.”
B swallows hard and nods their thanks, tugging the warm layer closer. A nods back, and their hands gently move up and down B’s blanketed back and shoulders, trying to ease their misery.
“Th-thank you.” B manages a shaky smile and leans into the soft touch. “You’re th-the best.”
A holds back tears as they smile back, leaning down to press a kiss to B’s feverish forehead. “I do try my best.”
It had all happened so fast. All week, B had been battling a cold and a chest cough that they just couldn’t seem to shake. One rainy night, B came home soaked to the skin, shivering, and unable to stop coughing. A took one look at their pale, peaked face and sent them off toward a hot shower, and then to bed.
Later that night, B stumbled into A’s room and crawled into bed with them.
“I can’t get warmed up,” they whimpered, curling in a ball as A hugged them. Even as they shook and clung to A, A couldn’t help but notice the unnatural heat that radiated from their body. By dawn, B was feverishly tossing and turning. A slid out from the covers to get a thermometer, and a short while later, the fever was confirmed.
B spent the next day huddled in bed, shuffling only to the bathroom and back like a ghostly, blanketed specter, with a gasping cough that sounded like rattling chains. They alternate between sweating through their layers and kicking off their covers, to clutching multiple blankets to their body as they shudder with chills.
The day after that, they start coughing up blood. That’s when A got so scared that they’d scooped B out of bed and carried them to straight to the car, so they could speed to urgent care.
Pneumonia had been the doctor’s official diagnosis, conveyed in a brusque manner as B curled up on the paper-covered examination table, wrapped in A’s coat and too weak to even lift their own head. While B had started on a round of antibiotics, it would be a couple days before they started feeling better. Until then, it would be constant cycles of feverish chills, achy muscles, and chest-rattling coughs. But they wouldn’t be alone through it - and they wouldn’t have to go to the hospital unless things took another bad turn.
A had done their best to make them comfortable after they’d gotten home that afternoon - dressed them in warm pajamas and an oversized sweatshirt, tucked them in tightly, plied them with doses of their medicine, eased cool sips of water through cracked lips. But B’s still huddled in a ball, coughing up a lung, shivering under the blankets, wincing at the slightest movement of their body. “It hurts,” is all they manage to whimper.
A knew how miserable this could be. They’d had pneumonia a couple years ago, and their was nothing worse than feeling chilled down to your aching bones, curling up under blankets that couldn’t warm you, teeth chattering so hard you were scared they’d break, wondering if you could freeze to death even as you burned with fever.
In the dim bedroom light, A sees a small tear leak from the corner of B’s eye. A reaches out to smooth the blankets again. “Try and sleep, sweetheart.”
“C-can’t. T-t-too c-cold.” They cough painfully into the crook of their elbow and wrap their arms around themselves. The shivers come in violent waves, rippling through them every few seconds, preventing them from relaxing into the rest they so desperately need.
It’s just too much to watch them shiver with no relief. So A climbs under the covers with them, wrapping warm arms around B’s trembling form like they did before, gently rubbing their hands up and down their shivering body. B tugs weakly at A’s shirt, trying to pull them as close as possible to absorb any body heat they can, small, sniffling sobs punctuating their weak coughs.
“Shhhh. I’ve got you.” Their hands gently smooth their rumpled sweatshirt, pulling B’s head onto their chest. For a couple hours, B slips into a tenuous sleep - but it doesn’t last. In the middle of the night they begin whimpering, their fist tightening into A’s sweatshirt. The fever’s got their mind now, trapping them in twisted, terrible dreams that have become their reality. A had dozed off and on, but it’s when B’s mumbles turn to sharp cries that they snap awake. They blearily stare at the clock - it’s 2 a.m. and B is thrashing wildly, twisted and trapped in the blankets that once were their comfort.
“B!” A gently shakes their shoulders and B’s eyes snap open as they gasp - which triggers another coughing fit. B’s coughing, and gasping, and fighting for breath, and all A can do is rub their back to try and help them relax so they can breathe, damn it. Their skin is burning, they’re too hot, it’s too much, oh god their fever’s spiking-
B starts mumbling incoherently, saying something about a dog holding a knife and plums in a grocery store, and it’d be funny if they weren’t burning up and out of their mind and scaring A half out of theirs.
A jumps out of bed and pulls all but one of the covers off B, who’s sobs get louder as they grasp wildly at their last blanket. A doesn’t have time to placate them - instead, they run to the bathroom and soak every towel and washcloth they have, tossing them in the bathtub. They run back to the room and scoop B out of bed, carrying them and laying them into the tub.
With cloths dripping wet, and begin wrapping them all over B’s body - their neck, their forehead, their chest, under their arms and legs.
The cool towels must feel like a shock to their system because B tries to wriggle away, but A gently holds them down, shushing them, brushing their hair off their forehead. “Hey. Hey there.” They lightly tap B’s cheek to get them to look at them. “You’re with me, okay? You’re alright. We just gotta get you cooled off. Stay with me, okay?”
B’s lips quiver. “Cold.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Just for a little bit, okay? Then we can get you dried off and back in bed. I promise.”
For the next hour, A feverishly works to keep B cool in the tub, tirelessly rewetting the towels, changing them out, pressing kisses to B’s forehead every so often. It’s exhausting, but eventually, B’s breathing evens, and a check of the thermometer shows that their fever is out of the danger zone.
B’s eyes aren’t really focused on anything as A hoists them out of the tub and changes them out of their damp clothes into dry pajamas, then tucks a single blanket around their body. B reflexively curls up in it, looking so small and sad that A can’t bear it.
“How can I make it better, love?” They seat themselves on the bed and gently trace their hair off their forehead.
“Hold me. Just hold me, please.” And so A slips back into their place, pulling a blanket around themselves and wrapping their arms around B’s shoulders as they slip back into an exhausted sleep.
A blinks awake in the soft blue light of early dawn to find B already awake, looking at them. Their face looks so tired, but there’s a light in their eyes that’s been missing for the past week.
“Hey,” B whispers softly, a small smile on their face.
A feels something like relief bubbling up in their chest, and they’re almost too choked up to get out more than a “hey” back. They lay a hand on B’s forehead - no fever, for the time being “Rough night, huh?”
B nods, eyes closing slowly, then opening again. The restlessness of the fever has been replaced with a bone-deep tiredness that’s evident in their every movement, and they move their forehead to rest on A’s shoulder. A rests their chin on B’s head.
There will be time later for medicine, temperature checks, changing the sheets, maybe some broth or plain toast for lunch. But for now, they both lay there, grateful to have made it through the worst of it together.
Whumptober #10: Oops, I Did It Again
Option: Ice chips
Of course it was just A’s luck to get caught in a winter storm.
It was hard enough completing their journey dressed in the inadequate clothing they’d been given, but the moment the skies opened to unleash pellets of ice rain, they knew their day had gotten worse. The ice chips wormed their way between their clothes, created slush beneath their canvas shoes and pelted their already stinging skin.
A was miserable and freezing; they hoped they could get their journey over with without contracting pneumonia or frostbite...
(Bonus: What if the ice storm is too much for the surrounding trees? And what if one collapses as A walks past?)
I just learned that broken ribs can cause pneumonia, because of shallow breathing. When we breathe too shallow, fluids and secretion can gather in the lungs, and if untreated, cause pneumonia, which can cause, if unnoticed, death.
Also, broken ribs can cause the lung to collapse, because the bones can poke into the space between the ribcage and the lungs. If that happens, the vacuum that is there gets filled with air and the lung collapses. Sometimes, the air can't get out anymore and piles up, causing heart failure.
trying to find a fic where peter has something like cystic fibrosis? or like really serious asthma/lung problems. and he’s off school sick and he has to occasionally use like a vibrating vest that shakes all the mucus out of his lungs. it ends with some mild peter/mj i think. so is a completed fic.
Air I Breathe by heartofcathedrals
Peter licks his dry lips and tries to get his eyes to adjust to the brightness, his chest muscles pulling as he struggles to breathe against gravity. “Tony?” His voice is weak, full of fear and confusion and Jesus, he feels like his body is on fire. Why is everything on fire?
“Right here, bud.”
“Wha’s goin’ on? Where’s May?”
“Still on her business trip. You’ve got a pretty high fever and your heart rate is through the roof. Gonna get you home and get both of them down, okay?”
“Did I pass out?” He closes his eyes in embarrassment because he knows he did, knows that he’s scared the shit out of Ned and Mrs. Benninger and MJ.
I was born in an abundance of inherited sadness.
Ryan Adams, lyrics to “Jacksonville Skyline,” from Whiskeytown’s Pneumonia LP (Lost Highway Records, 2001)
My first written contribution to @tmabigbang! It's been a joy! Thank you to the amazing @captaincravatthecapricious and the lovely @vanroesburg for providing beautiful artwork! And thanks to my best beta @gently-used-fairytale! I couldn't have done it without you guys!
Read on AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/works/34972735/chapters/87098077
If Jon didn’t acknowledge how much his kidnapping changed him, hurt him, he could keep all of his vulnerability and shame and grief hidden deep down inside him where no one had to look at it. No one would have to think about it; he wouldn’t have to think about it and it would all go away.
It wasn’t like he’d been beaten, or injured beyond where the ties bit into his skin as he struggled in vain. As far as kidnappings go, Jon rather thought his experience tame when compared to what could have happened.
Nikola could have kept all her many promises, could have taken his hide.
She could be wearing it right now, readying herself to dance the Unknowing.
Micheal could have killed him had Helen not so fortuitously appeared and whisked him away.
So, shouldn’t he be grateful? Focus on the positive; that he was alive and mostly well despite the tectonic shifting of his sense of self?
Wasn’t it ungrateful of him to take this gift and squander it, to feel sorry for himself when so many others never had even a chance? Stories already written once they drew the attention of that which crawled and choked and blinded and fell and twisted and left and hid and wove and burned and hunted and ripped and bled, and died. Like Tim’s little brother, Danny. He hadn’t a hope in the world once the need to know and to understand and to discover grabbed hold of him, leading him right into their claws.
Leading Tim right to the Institute.
Leading right to him.
Jon scrubbed a too-soft palm down his face, digging the tips of his fingers hard into his temples in an attempt to stave off his steadily worsening headache. Lord, he was tired, so tired of it all. Coughing lightly into his elbow, he curled up under the quilt, silently thanking Martin when it soothed the chills wracking him from top to toe. He was just rundown. That was all. Anyone would be after spending a month in those accomodations.
And gradually, Jon began to sink, the exhaustion rooted in his marrow tugging him further and further away from document storage and into something adjacent to sleep. Underwater, rocked back and forth by an undulant current, Jon let it all go.
A veritable mountain of paper carpeted the surface of his desk and Jon wished he could lose himself in the work of untangling the myriad threads connecting each statement to another (to another to another) if only to stop his mind descending into darker thoughts. He drank the tea Martin provided, even ate a biscuit or two when he wasn’t paying close attention, and poured over hundreds of files with the feverish ardor of one living on borrowed time. The answers were here, in the tapes, in the pages yellowed with age. He just wasn’t quite certain of the question. Even now, the statements seemed random, and Jon wasn’t willing to ask anyone else to put themselves in danger poking around alone. The Unknowing was coming. Nikola would find another costume eventually and for that Jon was so, so sorry.
Unfortunately, no amount of Martin’s tea seemed sufficient to clear away the fog that settled over his mind like clotted cream, thick and impenetrable. It was a wonder he could keep a thought in his head at all. The door slammed open, startling him enough he dropped his pen and scattered his notes.
“Uh.” Jon stared at the folder in Tim’s outstretched hand, bewilderment written all over his pallid face. If Tim weren’t so interested in his petty revenge, he might’ve worried.
“You asked for this.” He hadn’t. Hadn’t asked for anything lately. But Tim had been messing with him for days now just to regain some sense of control over this place. Let Jon be paranoid about something real for once.
“I, I did?” Nope.
“Figures.” Tim threw the folder down on the desk and watched Jon scramble to keep the pages together when they spilled across the blotter. “You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”
“I. No.” Somehow, Jon’s face fell even further. “But I, I’m making progress! At l’least--at least I hope I am.” Watching Jon struggle because of him assuaged the creeping, crawling desire to lash out at anything that moved, and Tim reveled in it.
“And you,” Tim paused, articulation pointed and sharp enough to cleave, “think that’s good enough. That you’re the one we should be trusting to make decisions.”
“I don’t--” Jon cut himself off, a flipbook of emotions passing over his face too quickly to interpret. “I don’t.”
“Spit it out.” That earned him a stern look, some of the old Jon peeking through the veil.
“I don’t want anyone else to be hurt.”
“As if you have any say in that.”
“Maybe I don’t.” Jon drew himself up to his full, diminutive height in his chair, squaring his shoulders and furrowing his brows. He’d always seemed bigger than he was. His nettlesome personality was successful as both a mask and a barrier that kept everyone at arm's length enough to hide the deep well of insecurity growing at his core. Now, he just looked small, like a child playing make-believe against real monsters that would do harm. “It doesn’t mean I get to stop trying.” For all the good it did any of them.
“And what does that mean for us?” The force of Tim’s palms striking the edges of the desk triggered an avalanche of documents, the susurrations of shifting paper interspersed with collisions like thunder. Jon shrank back, all pretense of bravery gone, and Tim smirked. He’d done that. Made him afraid. In the quiet, the creak of wood under Tim’s grip echoed like a gunshot. "You're no hero." His bitter laugh was the last nail in the lid of Jon’s coffin, and he crumpled under the weight of Tim’s stare, turning away, bottom lip quivering. Tim left him gathering horrors with trembling hands.
“Going out. Get your coat.” Jon startled. Tim never spoke to him if he could help it. Not since before he'd been taken, and certainly not after their last conversation.
“Pub. Martin’s coming.”
“Oh. Uh, alright then.” His assistant was already gone, Jon could hear him shouting at Martin from across the archives. It sounded good. Right, like a missing puzzle piece finally found and it lifted the weight sitting heavy in Jon’s stomach enough for him to breathe around the ache. Maybe this was Tim’s way of letting Jon know he was ready to forgive him. He pulled on an old uni jumper, now large on his lanky frame, and joined Martin at the door, offering up a tentative smile when he was greeted in kind.
“Glad you could join us, Jon.”
The walk was pleasant, Tim filling up the space with good-natured chattering while Jon hurried to keep pace. He didn’t want to think about how exposed he was out here, instead pressing as close to Martin as he dared, hoping the bigger man wouldn’t take notice. It felt safe, or something close to it, and Jon swiped his eyes as surreptitiously as he could in the dark when the sodium glare on the pavement began to blur.
It wasn’t a good idea, but Jon downed the shot Tim handed him anyway, losing himself in the burn of cheap vodka long enough to be pushed into a booth, a pint shoved into his hand. Martin took pity on him and slid beside him, his warmth rushing in, blanketing Jon in the faint smell of bergamot. He took a sip of foam.
Hours passed. Jon was pleasantly loose, head fuzzy, the sounds of other patrons a far-away hum. Tim was telling stories about their time in research; pranks he’d pulled at the expense of Jon’s pride, those times they’d taken turns dragging the other home after they’d gotten caught up in one project or another. Jon caught Martin grinning at him more than once, a flush drawn liberally across his face as if with a wide brush. Jon grinned back; shy. Blaming it on the drink to no one but himself. Good lord, he was tired, body heavy, the desire to just allow himself the relief of leaning against Martin, soft and shielded, becoming impossible to ignore. Surely, he wouldn’t mind. Would let him rest. For a moment, nothing more.
“--Sasha loved that.” Like a bucket of ice water, reality flooded in, sharp and sour. “Right, Jon?”
“Never could leave well enough alone, could she? Our Sash.”
“Jon here has some stories, I’m sure! Never been against a bit of rule-bending, ‘ey?” Tim’s inhospitable expression belied his jovial tone.
“And yet, for all your daring, she’s the one who’s gone.” Martin went stiff beside him, catching on in the time it took for Jon’s head to straighten itself out. “I mean. You’re supposed to Know everything.”
“No. It. I n’never--” Tim cut him off, voice even and razor-keen.
“It should have been easy, Jon. Did you even try to keep us safe?” Pushing himself away from the table, Tim scoffed. “I’m just trying to understand here.”
“Oy, leave off.”
“What? You don’t like it? The truth? Without you and me, Martin, he’d be completely alone.” Tim slugged back his drink, slamming it down with enough force to make Jon flinch, curl into himself in shame. “Who else wants anything to do with you?”
“N’no, Martin. He’s. I suppose he’s right, yeah?” Just please don’t leave him alone. He’d made mistakes. He understood. And even if Tim had planned this all along, even if he’d faked all his niceties, Jon preferred that to abandonment. He’d never recover if they left him. Please.
“Yeah,” Tim agreed, laughter limned with cruelty. “I’m right.” He reached over- sneering when Jon couldn’t suppress a tiny yelp of fear- to drain his pint too. “I’m always right and you always wanted this job.” Jon felt his jaw drop at the accusation, throat working uselessly. “You took it from Sasha because you knew, didn’t you?” The way he said it was so matter of fact that Jon almost thought it was true.
“No! That’s-- that’s not what happened!” Even to Jon’s own ears, it sounded as though he were whining despite the hoarseness of his voice.
“Sasha was better qualified than you and you couldn’t just let her have the thing she’d worked for her whole career.” Of course she was. Talented, beautiful Sasha whose face he couldn’t even remember without that thing in the way. “Gertrude saw her potential.” Tim leaned in, breath stinking of beer. Jon was trapped. Which was ridiculous. This was Tim. Tim wouldn’t hurt him. No matter how angry he was. “Just admit it, you’ll feel better.”
“I. I didn’t.” Didn’t he though? Hadn’t he basically asked Elias for the job by accepting that interview?
“Makes a man wonder just what you had to do, Jon. To get here.”
Martin may have made sure he got back to the Institute, but Jon didn’t remember the walk, just the numbness and trembling of his arms, like Jude hadn’t left well enough alone with his hand. Martin was gentle with him, more so than Jon could ever deserve, and he couldn’t even thank him. All the words he wanted to say were stopped up behind the lump in his throat.
Martin didn’t apologize for Tim, didn’t make excuses, and for that, Jon was grateful. It was already taking everything he had left in him not to break down and beg him to style; to admit he was scared of being alone because the fragments of himself were that much harder to keep hold of without the constant reminder of his presence.
Martin left him to the cot, slipping away with a quiet, “good night.”
He dreams that he’s still there and wakes with the taste of blood behind his teeth from his screaming. Nikola may not have taken his skin, but she may very well have taken the rest of him. He feels the phantom press of her plastic fingers as she draws imaginary lines across his skin, slick with lotion that overwhelms his senses, that floods the room with a smell he can’t quite describe but would know anywhere. Unscented. Not quite. Not when there was so much of it covering every part of him.
Like clockwork, they came.
He hears her words and trembles under her unwanted touch and heaves when she pours all her wretched knowledge of skinning a being alive into his eyes until he’s so full of dread he thinks he might die from it. Jon can see his own terror, trace where she had traced, an invisible scar no one would ever understand mapping the road of arteries and veins she threatened to nick.
Messy business, she’d said, being flayed.
But she'd had so much practice.
His office is abruptly too small, the walls closing in on him, sliding closer and closer until he’s certain he’ll be crushed. He stood, violently enough that his chair went skidding into a corner, crushing statements in its wake, and nearly collapsed when dizziness washed over him. Out. Out. He had to get out. The door stretched farther away with every step Jon took, reaching, scrabbling for the knob, nearly panicked enough he failed to open it on the first try. He couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t. All the air was gone, squeezed from his chest with a hacking cough that wouldn’t stop. Black threatened to swallow him up, steal him away.
The cement of the archive floor pressed painfully into every joint, exacerbating their ache, and a warbling noise very gradually transformed itself into his name repeated anxiously.
"Jon?" Martin coalesced above him, out of focus but unmistakable. Strong hands pressed along either side of his face, holding him still. One slid carefully to his brow. "Warm," muttered to himself as though confirming a hypothesis. "Jon?"
"Hafta…" like marbles in his mouth, Jon's words slid over each other, crashed together, more syllable and sound than anything intelligible.
“Shh, take a minute.” Martin’s voice reverberated in his ears, fading in and out like it was coming from underwater, while Jon tried to pull together all his disparate pieces. “Are you with me?”
“Wi...M’with…” He couldn’t bring himself to speak above the whisper catching on a desert-dry tongue flooded with salt. He could barely bring himself to breathe for fear of cracking completely in half and exposing his sawdust insides.
“Okay. Just relax.” Martin stroked his cheek, let him stay there, pillowed in his lap, and cocooned in safety.
He woke later, muzzy and distant, blinking up at a familiar ceiling and hemmed in by file cabinets. The sound of a page turning drew his attention and he let his head loll to the side. Martin looked up from the little book of poetry he was flipping through, smiling with what might have been relief.
“‘Ullo.” Jon croaked, letting his eyes drift closed again.
Jon was at a loss, caught between all the wrong choices, and while he wouldn’t admit to outright hiding from Tim, he certainly wasn’t going out of his way to find him. Instead, he tried to keep away from everyone and their judgment, too fragile to sustain the enormous weight of it on his brittle heart. Ever since coming to with Martin and his poetry beside him, Jon had felt wrong, somehow. Like he was lingering a half-step behind his own body and watching himself perform a poor imitation of one Jonathan Sims.
Nothing felt genuine or substantial, as though, if he attempted it, he’d be able to pass through walls, straying aimlessly through dark hallways and winding up places with no memory of how he’d come to be there. Mugs, files, pens, tape recorders all seemed the same. Only objects, unfamiliar in his hands until he’d come back from wherever he’d gone away to and startled, badly enough once that he dropped the tea, long cold, convinced it was spiders. He didn’t remember slicing open his burned hand on broken ceramic until Martin tugged him into a chair to bandage it. There wasn’t much feeling in it anymore and while his skin was so sensitive the brush of his oversized clothes was like claws raking across his body, the pressure exerted by Martin’s skillful fingers as he dabbed away old clotted blood and wrapped it neat and tidy with a bright white bandage, was grounding.
“Mm?” He got the sense that Martin had been trying to get his attention for several minutes. He had to look away from the worry in his face, lest he break down entirely.
“I was saying, you don’t look well.”
“It’s fine, Martin.” Jon pressed the heel of his good hand against a closed eye. The throbbing behind it made it hard to think. “Tired, is all. Please.” He had to take a moment to get himself under control, the ache of being witnessed cloying in his throat. “Don’t.”
“How can you justify whatever you do in here all day while we’re being hunted?”
“Tim.” Jon couldn’t keep the pleading note out of his voice. He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to argue.
“What, Jon? What?”
“I’m trying to help!”
"You're bloody well taking your time!”
“I, I don’t know what you want from me!” He didn’t mean it, didn’t mean to yell. He didn’t want to fight, least of all with Tim, but everything was so mixed up, pieces missing, and his coworker spinning riddles like yarn. “Just tell me! Tell me and I’ll do it.” Tell me how to fix it. Tim’s unkind laughter cut through him like an icy winter wind.
“But you're not trying, are you?" Tim got close, so close that Jon’s ears shook with his roar. “You just let things happen to you!” Red washed over everything, blotted out Jon’s vision.
“Oh yes, Tim!” Hurling his name like an expletive, Jon stared up at him, narrow chest heaving, uneven and fast. “I just let the Circus have me. I just let them t’t. T, touch me!” Breath catching in his chest, Jon felt the tears begin to fall, hot and embarrassing. “You know nothing about how hard I'm trying!” The whole of him was shaking now, shuddering as he sucked down noisy gulps of air. “Always sulking! Maybe if you’d been paying better attention you’d have noticed Sasha was gone!”
“Don’t.” Tim’s voice was low and dangerous, the rattling warning of a snake fixing to strike. But Jon couldn’t stop, filled to bursting with recklessness, intoxicated by danger and dizziness.
“You claim to know me so well, Tim, but clearly, you never knew her!” Lunging with a hoarse cry, Tim snatched him up by his collar to yank him close enough he was on his toes.
"Should've been you." And it was Daisy, of all people, that shoved herself between them and stopped it going any further.
“He’s not worth it, Tim.” She jeered as she pulled him bodily away, his fingers separating from Jon’s collar with a reluctance Jon could feel in his bones.
He wasn’t. He wanted to be.
He shouldn’t have said that. Not to Tim.
He had to start doing the right things. Acting the right way. Then Tim would stop looking at him like that. Like he’d been replaced.
With legs made of jelly, Jon limped along the hallway in the opposite direction and took refuge in the restroom, begging his innards to calm while he splashed his face with cool water from the tap. He stared grimly into the mirror, setting his shoulders, and examined the gaunt lines of an unfamiliar mask, watched the liquid trace paths he didn’t recognize. The dissonance was overwhelming. This was someone else. This was a stranger. This was unequivocally, irrevocably him. Without looking away, Jon reached for a handful of paper towel and scrubbed his face clean. When the reflection gawking back at him seemed no less alien, he scoured his skin until it was raw and red, until his eyes watered with unshed tears.
Maybe he’d been replaced after all. Maybe Nikola took his skin and left him with this. Or maybe he was still there and this was just his hell.
So, he forced himself to look. To look, and look, and look until moisture stung his cheeks, dripping from a trembling jaw. Until he lost the battle with his stomach and was sick with the sight of himself, his not self, turning just in time to dry heave into a toilet bowl, violent spasms arching his back, drawing straining muscles tight enough Jon could feel his shoulder blades trying to escape his skin as he clutched the porcelain for dear life and was finally, finally allowed to close his lips around a silent sob.
He collapsed, then, against the tile, his chest heaving, hitching, fists curled, convulsing.
No noise. Mustn’t make noise. Noise means violence. Threats. Fear. Touching.
No. No noise. His voice was worth less than nothing anyway.
Okay so I kind of have two questions but they tie into each other...
1) If a character has pneumonia, what symptoms there would be that other characters could see?
2) What would pneumonia feel like to the character who has it? (Also, how would having a broken rib or two play into it?)
Thank you for your help! :)
They can experience:
Fever, chills, dehydration, fatigue, loss of appetite, malaise, sweaty/clammy skin
Fast or shallow breathing, shortness of breath, sharp chest pain
Wheezing and coughing with phlegm or pus (greenish, yellow or even bloody)
With broken ribs, every cough, sneeze or laugh will be painful. They should ice the area regularly, brace their chest against a pillow when they cough to lessen the pain, take ten slow, deep breaths every hour to help clear the lungs, and try to sleep more upright for the first few nights.