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The Comfort of Friends (final part added 8/19/07)

Guest iffthelurker

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Guest iffthelurker

I've finally finished this, close to two years after it popped in to my head.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Meine Liebe is a series based on a dating simulation game (you play a character in the world of the game, in this case a female student at the school that the game is set in, and go around trying to get one of the main characters to fall in love with you). The series takes place in the early 1900s in an imaginary country called Kuchen, located on an imaginary island off the coast of eastern Europe. The main characters are elite students at Rosenstolz Academy, in a track that will prepare them to possibly be chosen to serve on the hereditary king's advisory board, the Strahl. For images of the five main characters, please look here.

(In case you haven't seen it and are interested, the series has not been licensed and fansubs are available for download over BitTorrent.)

Just FYI, the sketch of Naoji that I posted a while back takes place during the students' lunch break the day that this story starts.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed my muses telling it to me. Please feel free to give constructive criticism. I want to know if I've done anything wrong, from misspellings and/or grammatical errors to putting the boys in impossible positions or giving them too many arms. Anything that will help me improve my writing is always greatly appreciated.


Part 1 of 3

It was approaching dinnertime when Naoji returned to his room, shivering from time spent in the chill, damp wind that had been blowing most of the afternoon. He had been feeling rather poorly when he'd awoken that morning, and, despite his hopes, the feeling had only gotten worse as he sat through his classes. He had begged off lunch with the others, opting to rest in front of the fireplace in one of the empty classrooms, but had woken with a stiff neck and feeling no better otherwise. Not wanting to miss any classes that he didn't have to, the Strahl candidate had pushed himself to at least finish out the day, but realized later that that hadn't been the best idea. He had tried to keep his sniffles as quiet as possible during the afternoon but knew from the looks he'd received from some of the others that he hadn't succeeded. By the time he'd made it through all but the last seminar of the day, he wished for nothing more than to return to his room and his bed. Eilos-sensei's snide comments had only heightened his discomfort, and it was with relief that he'd had to excuse himself from class to keep from embarrassing himself with a rather lengthy sneezing fit. To top it all off, he was certain that he had developed a mild fever during the walk across campus to the residence hall.

He left his books on his desk and took the time to remove his jacket and boots and loosen his collar before climbing in to the bed. Even though his clothes were mist-soaked, he didn't have the energy to divest himself of anything more. The cool sheets felt wonderful against his aching head but added to the unpleasant chill of his damp garments. He shifted, trying to find a comfortable position, and groaned in frustration as he realized that his head grew stuffier the closer he lay to horizontal. A sharp sniff, stronger than the ones he'd been using during class to attempt to tame his nose, managed only to bring on an insistent tickle instead of clearing his head as he'd hoped. He pushed himself upright, one finger rubbing at the underside of his nose, then rose and walked over to his dresser.

The mirror reflected back a drawn, pale face with flushed cheeks and a reddening nose. If he'd looked like this during classes, it was no wonder he had been receiving concerned looks from the others. Sighing in resignation that he truly was ill, he reached in to the top drawer and pulled out several large white handkerchiefs, knowing he would likely need them, and possibly more, if things continued the way they had been since lunch. He paused, the drawer only halfway closed, and dropped all but one of the linen squares. The hand holding the remaining one hovered several inches from his face, the other hand braced him against the dresser as his breath came in ragged gasps. "hhh...hehhh...heh-SHIU!" He pressed the handkerchief firmly to his face, hoping to dampen the sound of what he had always thought of as uncomfortably loud sneezes. "hehh...IHSHHH! hih-SHUmph!" As strong as those felt, he did hope the others hadn't heard them. Most noises in the residence house were adequately muffled by the thick carpeting and curtains, but not all, and he was not up to dealing with the others' concern and questions.

When he'd recovered, Naoji took advantage of the fact that he was already out of bed and stripped out of the last of his damp clothes. He left them draped over his desk chair, donning a pair of flannel pajamas before returning to the soft comfort of his bed, handkerchiefs clutched in one hand. As he tried to get himself settled, he pulled his warmest blanket up from the foot of the bed and wrapped himself tightly in it, folding another blanket and placing it under his pillow in hopes of being able to keep himself upright enough to breathe well.

It was not long before he'd drifted off to a restless sleep, awakened several hours later by a hesitant knock on the door. He sat up, sniffling as he tried to come fully awake. The handkerchief that was still clutched in his hand was raised to rub at the underside of his nose as the knock came again.

"Naoji? Naoji, are you there?"

"Nnn? Ca-" He broke off and coughed lightly to clear his throat. "Camus?" Naoji rose, wrapping his robe around himself, and walked slowly to the door. By the time he reached it, he was shivering faintly. He opened the door and admitted the younger man, closing the door behind them even as he felt Camus' eyes boring in to him. He attempted to put a bit more energy in his stance in a vain hope that maybe Camus, even as perceptive as the younger boy was, wouldn't notice that he was feeling quite as poorly as he actually was.

After exchanging greetings, Camus spoke up as to the reason for his visit. "You missed dinner. We were concerned."

"Aa. I was resting. I didn't realize that I had fallen asleep."

The younger man looked him over, taking in both Naoji's complexion and attire. "You don't look at all well, Naoji."

Naoji sighed. So much for hiding his condition from this visitor. And Camus wasn't one to decline voicing concern over someone's wellbeing, nor was he one to leave a friend to tend an illness alone. "I believe that I have caught a chill."

A look of sympathy crossed Camus' face. "I should not have gotten you out of bed. I am sorry." He laid a hand on Naoji's forearm and led him back towards the bed. "I had noticed earlier that you didn't seem at your best. Is there anything you need?"

"No, thank you." The foreign student sniffled as he climbed back under his covers. Lying on his side, back towards the room, he let Camus smooth the blanket over him and tried to focus on forcing away the tickle that was building in his nose. It seemed though that the irritation was not going to back away even just until Camus had left the room, which he hoped would happen soon. He could hear the younger man moving around near the far wall but wasn't paying attention to what Camus was doing. Unfortunately, the tickle grew much sharper. Naoji gasped as he brought the handkerchief to his face, pinching the bridge of his nose through the linen, hoping that if he couldn't make the sneezes go away, at least he could try to keep them quiet. "hhh-tsh! tssh! ih-shh!" Oh, Naoji was not enjoying this. Yes, Camus wasn't being startled by each loud noise, but instead of ridding him of the prickling high in his nose, the stifling was making it worse, each one triggering another, and it was causing his ears and face to hurt as well. "shhnx! hhh-ihnkxx! nkx-shuh! nxx! nkxx! ih...hhh...hih-nkxuh!" Each one was leaving him more congested then the last, and he finally gave up trying to hold them back, just wanting them to stop. "hhh-ISHHHIU! ISHHHH! huhh...h-ISSSHIU! snfff"

"Naoji? Goodness! Bless you!" and there was a gentle hand resting on his shoulder.

Naoji was glad that he was mostly buried in his blankets and had his back to his friend because he was certain that Camus would have seen him wince had he not been. He kept his face averted as he softly blew his nose, then tucked the handkerchief under his pillow and and rolled over to look up at the younger man. "Forgive me."

Camus looked truly confused at those words. "Forgive you? What for? I only wondered if there was anything I could do."

Naoji sniffled once more, then shook his head. "Thank you, Camus, but I think I will be fine with rest. Please convey my apologies to the others."

The younger man looked doubtful, but nodded acquiescence. "If you're certain. But please let me know if you do need anything."

"Thank you again. snfff"

"May I check on you later?"

Naoji nodded, knowing that Camus would worry over him if he did not grant permission.

"Rest well, Naoji." And he left, closing the door quietly behind him.

The Japanese student noticed that Camus had stoked the fire back up to a steady blaze, and he could already feel the warmth on his face. He pulled his handkerchief back out from under the pillow, knowing he'd need it, then relaxed completely in to the embrace of his pillows and blankets, trying to ignore the dull ache that was permeating his body. His nose was starting to run again and he gently dabbed at it, wincing at how sore it had already become. Another sharp sniff and he let his eyes fall closed, trying to clear his mind of his discomfort in hopes that he might fall asleep again.


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I enjoyed this, too. :-) Definitely looking forward to more.

What can I say, two things do it for me: allergic girls and pathetically sick guys. :-)

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Guest iffthelurker

Thank you so much! All of you! You're awesome!!! :wub: I'm so glad that you're enjoying it.

BTW, I did just notice a conflict with something that shows up later on. This actually would have to take place during the second series (which was fansubbed by Aarinfantasy and is available for download on their forums), so it would be Eilos-sensei, not Beruze-sensei that was being an ass to Naoji during their class. I've made the change in part 1. And now...


Part 2 of 3

He didn't remember waking, nor could he recall Camus returning, but when he was next aware of his surroundings, the first thing that he noticed was that he was hot. The covers over his body felt oppressive and he tried to push them off but a hand on his chest stilled him. When the hand was pulled back, he slowly opened his eyes and noticed that there was a faint lightening of the sky outside the windows and the younger man was sitting at his bedside, wringing out a face cloth over a bowl of water. "snfff snf Camus?"

"Naoji, you're awake." There was an odd note of relief in his friend's voice.

"snf Awah'ISHHIU! snfff" He turned his face away in time to avoid sneezing on the younger man, then kept one hand clasped to his face as he felt around with the other under the sheets for his handkerchief, hoping he could find it before the other sneezes that were threatening could come out. When his hunt proved fruitless, he gave Camus a quick look of helpless frustration.

"Bless you. Here." Camus was holding out a clean one.

"Thadgk y...HISHHIU! h-EHSHHH!" Naoji quickly took the linen from his pale friend and turned back towards the wall to quietly blow his nose, glad that Camus could not see his cheeks burning in embarrassment both at the sudden sneezes, as loud as they seemed to him, and the younger man's blessing. "Thank you." He tucked it away and then turned back to his friend, making a face at the roughness of the flannel pajamas against his skin as he moved. "Awake? What did you mean, Camus?"

"I came to look in on you before bed and you were running a high fever. You seemed to be in the middle of a bad dream and I couldn't wake you. The fever has come down quite a bit but I don't think it has broken yet."

That would explain why he felt so hot and shivery. He hadn't felt nearly so sick when he'd gotten to his room earlier, and was suddenly glad of his friend's concern. "You've been here all night? You shouldn't have done that, Camus. I'm sorry to have been such trouble."

Camus smiled. "Please, don't worry about it, Naoji. You are not a bother."

Naoji returned Camus' smile weakly. "Thank you for looking after me, Camus. It is snf comforting to know that snf that I have a friend who snf snfff wou-hhh...hih-ESHIU! ISHIUH! hhh-EHSHHH!" He managed to cover the sneezes with his handkerchief, but the strength of them had made his head pound.

"Bless you, Naoji."

The Japanese student was very glad at that point that the flush of the fever on his cheeks was hiding the signs of his discomfort at the attention the too loud, forceful, painful sneezes were receiving. Especially as the most recent tickle had not backed away. He kept the linen up to his face, trying everything within his power to rid himself of the irritation in his sinuses, but to no avail. His eyes fluttered shut again as his breath came in short, hitching gasps. "hhh...h'ISHHUH! ISHHH! snf huh-ESHIIU!" When he was certain that he was no longer in danger of releasing another set of embarrasing explosions, he relaxed back against the pillows with a groan.

"I think you should try to get some more rest if you can. Take this first." He reached for a bottle on the nightstand. "It's just aspirin, and it should help both with the fever and the headache you seem to have."

He took the pills, then closed his eyes, grateful when Camus placed the cool, damp cloth on his throbbing head. He still sniffled quietly but the need to sneeze seemed to have abated for now, which he was thankful for. He let the quiet sound of Camus' breathing, the only noise in the room other than his own sniffles, lull him back to sleep.

His fever must have gone back up during the day because he did have vague memories of Orphe and Ed checking in on him, and disturbing dreams that melted in to each other but didn't stay with him other than the slight sense of unease that they had brought, but could remember nothing else.

When he finally woke fully, he was covered with a fine sheen of sweat and was having a hard time breathing through his nose, but rather than the heat from before, he was shivering with a cold that seemed to come from deep inside. Camus was still in the chair that he'd pulled up next to Naoji's bed, but sound asleep. Given how dark the room was, it was likely late afternoon already. He wondered if Camus had been there the whole time. Knowing the other boy, it was quite possible.

Naoji sat up to pull the blankets more tightly around himself, and was startled when the door opened. Even more so when a riot of orange hair poked in. "Eduard? snf snff"

"Naoji! I wasn't expecting to see you awake. You feeling any better?" Naoji's classmate hovered just inside the room, although at least he had the decency to close the door behind him to keep any prying eyes from seeing the sick student's misery.

"snff Aa. Sobewhat. snf" He muffled a cough in a loosely balled fist.

"Mm. You don't sound it. But I guess if you're awake then your fever must be down. Camus finally fell asleep? Good. I won't stay long, don't want to wake him up, but is there anything you need? Are you hungry? You've slept for most of a full day now."

"Thagk you, but I'b f-snf hhh-ISHIUH!" He still had the handkerchief in his hand and buried his nose in it just in time. "ESHHHH! h-ESHIUH! snfff I'b fide. I'b dot very huggry right dow."

"Bless you! Okay. Umm...I'll probably be up later with something for Camus, so if you change your mind..."

"Thagk you."

It was fairly obvious that Ed had no idea what else to say, and was rather uncomfortable around the sick man, so he excused himself, leaving Naoji alone with Camus' soft breathing.

The Japanese student attempted to clear his completely blocked nose, eventually giving it up as a lost cause when the only result was a coughing fit that he only barely managed to muffle in his blanket so as not to wake Camus. He couldn't seem to get warm, or comfortable, and became increasingly more aware of how grungy he felt. He slowly sat up at the edge of the bed, wrapped his robe back around himself to ward off the chill that grew as soon as he'd pushed the blankets aside, and made his way to the bathroom, taking out a fresh pair of pajamas as he passed his dresser.

The bath down the hall was empty at this time of day, most of the students having better things to do with their weekends than hang around the residence hall. Naoji locked the door behind himself and turned the taps on in the bath. As the tub filled, he took advantage of the time to use the other facilities, and by the time he was done, the bath was filled with water as hot as he could stand it. The room had, by this point, filled with steam and Naoji stripped and quickly immersed himself in the hot water. The heat worked its way inside, warming him to the point where he was no longer shivering, and soothing his aching muscles, and he soon felt clean and relaxed again.

The steam also had the fortunate effect of clearing his head quite a bit.

Or maybe, he realized as his sinuses started to prickle again, it was a rather unfortunate effect. With the acoustics in the bath, anyone left on the entire hall would hear him. After several deep sniffles failed to even lessen the irritation, Naoji fumbled for his facecloth, hoping that the thick fabric would muffle the noise. He threw himself forward, covering the lower half of his face completely with the cloth as the fit overcame him. "ihh...h-SHHHUmph! IHSHHmph! EHmphshhh!" He lowered his hands to gasp for breath but had not worked enough of the tickle out of his nose yet. "IHHmphhh! hhh...h-IHSHHHH! ESHIUUH!"

He was left completely drained by the force of his sneezes, and that by itself was enough to induce him to return to his room, never mind his mortification at the echoes that took entirely too long in his opinion to fade away. He mopped at his running nose with the damp cloth, wincing both at the roughness of the wet fabric against his very tender skin and at the mess, then pushed himself up out of the tub, pulling the drain plug as he rose.

Despite wrapping himself in his thickest towel as soon as he had left the water, and drying and dressing himself as quickly as his jellylike limbs would let him, he was shivering from a chill that felt even worse than the one that had driven him to the bath in the first place. Another hastily muffled fit of coughing caused spots to obscure his vision and he sat blinking until they cleared. As he stood from the bench where he'd had to sit to don his pajama bottoms, the room did a lazy turn and he was forced to lean against the wall while he regained his balance. When he felt steady enough, he made his slow way back to his room, one hand on the wall. He found it odd that, even as cold as he'd felt in the bathroom, the chill seemed to have melted away again, replaced by an intense heat that had him pausing every few meters to catch his breath. It was during one of these pauses that Orphe found him.

"Naoji, are you alright? What are you doing out of bed?"

The words sounded strange, as if they were coming from far away. "Bath." He began to cough again, pressing his free hand to his mouth. When his breathing had calmed again, everything seemed just a bit fuzzy, and he was startled when Orphe slid an arm around his waist.

"I take it that Camus doesn't know of your whereabouts? Come on, let's get back to your room. You look like you're about to pass out."

Naoji leaned against Orphe, unable to hold his own weight up. "Room...yes...b-IHSSSSUH! hh...h'IHSSSSH! EHSHIUUH! snff" He wasn't thinking clearly enough to do more than pull away from Orpherus to lean back against the wall and aim the sneezes towards his shoulder, then remained there, breathing heavily. "Bed...so hot..."

The blond pulled Naoji upright again and slowly walked him to his room. They were greeted at the door by Camus, who was looking rather panicky.

"Oh thank goodness!" Camus draped Naoji's arm over his shoulders, supporting the sick man from the other side, walking him to the bed, talking with relief the entire time. "I only fell asleep for a minute and he was gone and I was so sure something had happened. Where was he?"

The two of them settled Naoji in the bed, pulling the covers up from the foot of the bed to drape over him. "He'd gone to take a bath."

"No blankets...too hot..."

Camus' eyes widened. "Naoji?" He laid a hand on the exchange student's forehead. "Your fever has gone back up. What were you doing taking a bath?"

"Was cold...felt dirty...couldn't sleep..."

"Oh, Naoji. You should have woken me."

The Japanese student shook his head. "Been here the whole time...need to rest..." His words dissolved in to another short fit of coughing.

"Shhhh. When you're feeling better. Don't worry about me." Camus reached over to the nightstand and shook some more aspirin from the bottle, offering it to Naoji along with the glass of water. "Take this. We need to get your fever down again."

He took the pills that he was offered and let his eyes fall closed. Someone, he guessed it was Camus, placed the cool cloth back on his forehead and soon he was drifting halfway between true sleep and wakefulness. The others spoke quietly, but though he heard the words, they did not remain in his thoughts.

"Naoji was right. You should rest, Camus. You don't want to make yourself ill."

"But what if--"

"I will take care of him while you sleep."


"If you would rather, you can stay in the room, but you must promise to sleep."

There was the rustling of fabric as -- he guessed -- Orphe got Camus settled on the couch in the sitting area, and then all was silent in the room until Naoji was on the very edge of sleep, when there was a quiet tapping on the door, and the sound of Orpherus rising to answer the door. Again voices spoke at the edge of his consciousness.

"He's asleep again?"

"Yes. His fever went back up."

"And Camus?"

"He's sleeping as well. He has been pushing himself too much."

"Hn. And where's Lui been during all this? I thought he and Naoji were close, but he hasn't shown himself the whole time Camus has been in here."

"I don't know. It is possible that he left the grounds for some reason or other. We are talking about Lui. He is not exactly forthcoming about his whereabouts, especially to me."

Naoji shifted uncomfortably beneath the thin covers, once again starting to shiver, although the chill was nowhere near as intense as it had been before. Suddenly Orphe was at his side again, pulling blankets up to cover his shaking body. That was all Naoji needed to fall the last few breaths in to sleep.


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I had to read this a couple of times because you do such a wonderful job with the descriptions that I had to make sure I took it all in. And despite reading it twice, I can't point out exactly what I liked so much about it, only to feebly gurgle and say that I DID like it, which seems kind of lame.

But the one thing above all else that I loved about this is the way you describe both his appearance and his feelings, you describe it perfectly so that I can SEE it in my mind, but never get bogged down with too much detail...it's just exactly right and the way that you describe his misery is just so perfect. And I loved the bit at the beginning of him trying to go to his class despite being miserable, I'm a sucker for that sort of thing! And the bath in part two...the description that you wrote around that with the steam and everything, I couldn't help but love that!

Fantastically wonderful. I feel that I should thank the muses for making you write this! ;)

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Oh, I have wished to read a fic like this for years! Oh, the Meine Liebe boys... and I loved it how Naoji had excused himself from class, I could see him in the corridor, slightly bent over in his uniform, overcome by a sneezing-fit, embarassed and miserable... and still trying to appear composed in that gentle manner typical for him... ;)

love love love this!

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ACK!!! SQUEEEE!! FLAIL!!!!! GLOMP!!!! (in that order and twice through) :P

dude....this is just awesome!! yes...i know i have flailed at you for this already....but this is just soooooooooooo cute and cuddly...and OMG!!! i cant wait to read part three (all over again) (insert wicked grin)


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Guest iffthelurker

:lol: OMG, I have no words to express how awesome you all are! :D:):lol: Thank you!!! I hope the final part doesn't disappoint.

So without further ado...


Part 3 of 3

He brought himself to near-consciousness several times over the course of the afternoon and evening with fits of harsh coughs or the sneezes that made his head throb, each time feeling hands raising him up to swallow pills or take small sips of water, or wiping his face down with a cool cloth before he sank back in to the odd, disjointed dreams. When he next woke fully, he saw Camus closing the door, and the room was empty of its other former inhabitants. He felt an utter mess, sticky with sweat, nose streaming, eyes gummy, and still oddly shivery and achy. The only improvement that he could feel was that his head no longer pounded with each heartbeat. He tried to push himself in to a sitting position, but his vision began to cloud so he let himself fall back to the pillows. Camus heard the movement and was instantly back at his side.

"How do you feel, Naoji?"

"I..." His voice came out as a hoarse croak, which startled him a bit. He attempted to clear his throat but when he tried again to speak, there was no improvement. "I have defiditely snff felt better. I can only remember a couple of tibes snf snff times that I have felt worse." He was getting quite frustrated at the fact that he couldn't get more than a handful of words out at a time before the congestion garbled his speech.

"Is there anything I can get you?"

Naoji rubbed at his nose again, which was now not only running but tickling, and hissed as the raw skin burned at the touch but kept his hand hovering level with his upper lip. "If I could snf could trouble you fuhh...snf for another ihh...hhh...handkerchiefh'IHSHIUU!" The last word came out in a rush, barely making it out before it was overtaken by the forceful sneeze that scraped at his throat. His breath hitched several more times, then he froze, teased by the others that always followed. The irritation backed away just a bit and Camus placed a fresh square of linen in to his hand. Naoji barely had time to nod his thanks before he was forced to make use of it, the wrenching exhalations overtaking his body. "heh-ESHH! ISHHHUH!"

"Bless you."

The transfer student took the opportunity that his running nose presented to avoid responding to his friend's blessings. When he'd brought his body under a bit more control, he kept his bleary gaze turned away from Camus and mumbled a quick "Excuse me."

"Please stop apologizing," the younger man said, brushing Naoji's bangs back from his face, at the same time checking his temperature. "Your fever seems to have come back down a bit. Do you think you might be able to eat something?"

Naoji thought for a few seconds before answering. He wasn't particularly hungry, but knew that it had been quite a while since he'd partaken of anything more than water. "Aa. Perhaps..."

Camus smiled at him, the expression almost blindingly bright, before turning towards the door. "I'll be right back. Please stay there until I return."

The Japanese student nodded in acquiescence. After all, he thought, it was not as if he currently felt able to leave the room unassisted despite his earlier excursion. He slowly sat up, closing his eyes as the the room tilted, finally relaxing against his headboard as the dizziness receded.

Naoji's caregiver returned bearing a bowl of light soup, of which the patient could only manage half before he began to nod off again. Camus set the dish aside and helped his friend get comfortable.

The younger man had just finished tucking the covers around Naoji when a pained look came over his face and he pressed his hand to his chest.

"Camus? Are you alright?" Naoji was quite concerned for his friend as Camus struggled with whatever was effecting him. The empath was often disturbed by others' strong negative emotions and his defenses were likely lower than usual as he had quite worn himself out nursing Naoji the past several days. The overwhelming feelings that he couldn't seem to block out looked as if they were placing quite a strain on his already weak constitution.

Camus' face was pinched and paler than normal when he finally managed to answer Naoji's query. His voice was barely more than a whisper. "I...have to go. I'm sorry..." He shuffled to the door, nearly running in to Orphe in the hall, and Naoji could hear the blond expressing his concern for Camus, as well as the name of one of the students that he had only occasional contact with, as he was once again closed in to his quarters alone.

As much as he was craving solitude after days of constant company, he seemed to have gotten used to the presence of another. In the silence left in Camus' wake, Naoji couldn't seem to fall back to sleep despite the fact that he was utterly exhausted. His eyes wouldn't stay open for more than a minute or so at a time, but once they were closed, he grew restless. In an attempt to occupy his mind, he tried to visualize his kata, but found it very difficult to do so with the constant interruptions of coughs, sneezes, and sniffles. He finally gave up, resigning himself to a thorough study of the inside of his eyelids in hopes that he would eventually slip back in to slumber.

Although it felt like an eternity, he was unsure how long he had laid there unable to sleep before he heard a light tap at the door. Without waiting for an answer, someone entered, footsteps soft but sure. The sick man had a suspicion of who his visitor was, and the quiet, deep voice confirmed it. "Naoji."

It wasn't a question. Lui never asked for attention. He spoke and, if one was able, attention was given. "I'm awake," Naoji murmured with what little voice he had, and cracked his eyes open.

The young aristocrat looked closely at his friend, gaze seeming as dispassionate as always before it softened just the slightest bit at the sight of Naoji's disheveled hair, reddened nose, and pale skin. "You are ill," he stated, sitting on the edge of the bed and brushing Naoji's bangs back from his sweat-damp forehead.

The transfer student nodded. "Aa. I was beginning to succumb on Friday. Camus has snf has insisted on nursing me. I..." He paused, his nostrils quivering faintly, and turned his face from his friend, bringing a handkerchief up to his nose. When nothing more than the itch materialized, he sniffed sharply then relaxed, facing Lui once again, holding the handkerchief close to his chin. "Excuse me. I am feeling better than I had been."

"You look as if you still feel awful."

"I will not deny that I have been better." Naoji coughed harshly in to the handkerchief, and his next words, if anything, were spoken in a voice that was even more pitiful than before. "Are your parents well?"

Lui winced at the hoarse, cracking sound that had replaced Naoji's usual smooth, calming tones. "Un. Mother asked after you. You made quite an impression." The young aristocrat reached for the glass of water on the nightstand and moved so that he could help Naoji sit up, then handed the glass to his friend, encouraging him to take small sips of it in hopes that it would soothe his throat.

Naoji finally gave a weary smile of gratitude and handed the glass back to Lui, letting his head rest against Lui's shoulder after the other man had set the glass aside. "I would like very much to see her again. She is a kind woman."

"Perhaps when you have recovered, I shall bring you with me for a weekend."

Naoji rubbed his nose lightly before saying anything further. "snf I would enjoy snff..." His voice trailed off, causing Lui to turn his head and watch, the look on his face half concern, half fascination. Naoji's took several hitching breaths, his entire body exuding exhaustion, before he brought the handkerchief to his nose, his entire body shaking as each exhalation tore from him. "h'ESHHHU! hehh...h'MPHHsh! ngxshhu!" He tried to keep them from scraping over his already raw throat, first by muffling them in to the linen, then attempting to pinch his nostrils shut, but they all ended up being rather painful. He bit back a whimper as he let his entire body relax against Lui.

Lui murmured a soft "Bless you", noting as he did that a slight flush appeared on Naoji's cheeks and he lowered his eyes to where the handkerchief was clutched in one hand. He placed one finger under the Japanese student's chin, raising his face so that Lui could look Naoji in the eyes. "It makes you uncomfortable?"


"Blessing you after you sneeze makes you uncomfortable?"

If anything, the hectic stains on Naoji's cheeks grew darker. "Yes, a bit." He shifted again, turning in such a way that he was able to look away from Lui's piercing gaze. He couldn't tell from Lui's voice or eyes if the aristocrat was merely curious or was looking for a point of weakness as he seemed to do with nearly everyone.

"May I ask why?" As if it was an unconscious gesture, although Naoji was not sure if it truly was, Lui began to comb his fingers through the length of hair nearest them when he asked.

Naoji seemed rather reluctant to answer. Lui wasn't entirely sure if he was embarrassed or unable to come up with the words to explain. After watching his sick friend try to get his thoughts together for a full minute, he placed his hand over Naoji's. "You don't have to tell me. Since it distresses you this much, I will stop."

The Japanese student sniffled wetly and rubbed his handkerchief beneath his nose once more before giving Lui a look of gratitude tinged with weariness.

They sat in silence for several minutes, Lui continuing to card his fingers through his friend's hair, before Naoji spoke again. "You only just returned?"

Lui's voice was drier than tinder. "Father had much to discuss with me, and Mother had a visitor that she wished for me to spend time with. I had not planned to spend my entire weekend there. I suppose I should be thankful that I was able to make convincing arguments for a return to campus or I would likely still be there after curfew tomorrow. Mother has a penchant for fussing over me as if I was still a child."

After a sharp sniffle, Naoji responded. "You know that she acts that way because you're her son and she loves you."

"You're soft, Naoji."

"Despite commonly held beliefs, I have rarely seen that to be a fuhh...h'ISHHIU! nxk'iuh! h'EHSHHH! snfff Forgive me. A fault." Naoji settled, letting his head loll against Lui's shoulder, his eyes falling shut as he did so.

"You wouldn't. I suppose that's one of the things I find endearing about you." He shifted his body, making himself a bit more comfortable under Naoji's weight, then let out a small sigh. "You should sleep some more. I can feel that you are still feverish."

"Aa." The Japanese student coughed lightly, bringing the handkerchief again to his face. Fortunately the tickle in his throat passed quickly this time and his hand fell to his chest. He sniffled a few times, and then his breathing evened out in slumber.

Lui wondered that he felt as much at ease as he did, with his friend's congested snores sounding in his ear, and the accompanying exhalations ghosting across his chin. He had never been one for physical contact, but he didn't seem to mind Naoji's weight against him. He supposed it was a good thing, since he couldn't very well move without disturbing his friend's much-needed sleep. With as little movement as possible, he slid his shoes off, grateful that he had exchanged his riding boots for something less cumbersome when he had returned to the residence hall, and let his own eyes fall closed in hopes of getting some sleep of his own.

The next morning, Camus made his way down the hall to Naoji's room, still a bit shaky after the previous night's ordeal. He was paler than usual, and looked about ready to fall over with exhaustion. He stifled a yawn and rubbed at his eyes, then let himself in to his friend's bedroom, making as little noise as he could in hopes of not disturbing Naoji if the Japanese student was still asleep. Raising a hand to knuckle away a sudden tickle in his nose, he walked slowly forward so that he could check on his ailing friend.

As soon as his eyes adjusted to the relative dark of the bedroom, he smiled. He hadn't known that Lui had returned yesterday, but rarely had he seen his old friend look as peaceful as he did at that moment. He had slid down to spoon behind Naoji, the throw from the chair draped over his legs, and Naoji curled up under several blankets with his head resting on Lui's forearm.

Careful not to wake either of them, he crept over to rest a gentle palm on the sick man's forehead, overjoyed to find Naoji's skin cool but soaked with sweat. The fever that had raged through him for days had finally broken. With a quick pause to straighten the blankets a bit, he turned to leave, stopping in his tracks as his fingers wrapped around the doorknob. The irritation in his nose had returned, and refused to go away with a bit of rubbing this time. "hhh...hp'tsssh! h'kssh! hk'tsh-tshh!" The younger man glanced back at his sleeping friends to make sure that he hadn't disturbed their slumber, but his nose was still quivering, so he quickly let himself out. Naoji stirred a bit as the latch clicked in to place, but was still sleeping deeply enough not to wake from the sound of the quiet fit of rapidfire sneezes just outside the door.


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He had slid down to spoon behind Naoji, the throw from the chair draped over his legs, and Naoji curled up under several blankets with his head resting on Lui's forearm.

what do i have to do to wake up that way!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! OMG!!! i just :laugh: Lui......

at the risk of making my boys jealous....can i rape borrow him sometime? ^_^


no really....this is just amazing! i love the comfort aspect, and the boys are all so sweet....thank you so much for sharing this..... *must now reread to fan over Lui some more*

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Oh! The amout of soft giggling and chuckling and sighs when I was reading this was just ridiculous. Lui's first, dry comment... wait...

"You are ill," he stated, sitting on the edge of the bed and brushing Naoji's bangs back from his sweat-damp forehead.

!!!! OMG that was so simple and dry and sweet and I could just SEE HIM doing that... mehhh :fear: And Naoji was so wonderfully fewerish and so wonderfully Naoji and ... !! Oh I loved loved loved this!

;) Thank you!

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WAAAAIIII!!! :wheels: I LOVED this story! Luvluvluvluvluv! So cute!!! And so well written, really! I loved the ending especially, I think that is so in character for Camus to leave without saying anything after all he's done for Naoji. GAH! I just loved it, okay? :o Thank you so much for sharing this!!

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Guest iffthelurker

OMG! :wub: :wub: :wub::hug::group: Y'all are SO incredibly awesome!

Chui, yes, you can pounce Lui and have your wicked way with him. :P Thank you again!!! :wub:

Shiny_bug and mkool000, I'm so glad that you both enjoyed it, and that you thought I got the boys right! (that's always one of my worst fears, that the version in my head doesn't match canon at all) :hug: :hug: :hug:

KawaiiKitty, thank you so much! I'm always rather nervous about the amount of detail, or lack thereof, that I write. I'm glad that you think I struck the right balance. And no, that's not a lame reaction. It makes me all kinds of happy! I've read stories several times where I loved the story so much but couldn't do anything more than flail and say that I DID love it. :wub:

Ana, starpollen, silentdreamer789, and VoOs, thank you SO much! :hug::group:

:wub: :wub: :wub:

(now that I've probably used up my quota of emoticons for weeks...*snicker*)

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Guest RollRock

You are amazing. I don't know if you remember, but I kerfluffed all over your avatar months ago, and now I get THIS. AUGH. Cold shower, cold shower....

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest iffthelurker
You are amazing. I don't know if you remember, but I kerfluffed all over your avatar months ago, and now I get THIS. AUGH. Cold shower, cold shower....

Eek! I'm so sorry I didn't reply to this sooner! I fail!!!! :laugh:

I DO remember you, and I am SO very glad that you enjoyed this. :omg: Thank you SO VERY MUCH!!!! I do hope that the boys will grace my head again soon, because I enjoyed writing them a whole lot.

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