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Writer's Block - Complete. Updated Jan 25, 2020 ("Starpollen's Sandbox")


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As stated in another thread, I had posted out in the main Obs/Stories/Art area how I was looking for some inspiration.  I had a list of story ideas I've been jotting down as I am out and about in the world, but hadn't started any of them.  I asked if people wanted to contribute a line or two to help kick off a story. 

I've gotten some GREAT replies!    Started several new stories already.   We've decided to call the thread "Starpollen's Sandbox," because I'm opening up the prompts to any author who sees something that inspires them.  The only request is that you include "Starpollen's Sandbox" in the title so we know you're playing the game.  

Here's the first one.  My prompt was "reclusive author with bad cold and grocery delivery boy."   Got this first bit from @Kaze wo Hiku here's the result!  This one already has multiple chapters...   Going to be a freakin' novel... 


"Writer's Block"

Part 1

James grumbled as he wiped his runny nose against his handkerchief.  Typing with a cold never worked out, but deadlines were deadlines and his editor was an asshole.  Pressing the damp fabric to his mouth, he muffled several harsh coughs. His chest ached.

Where is that bloody kid?  James wearily gazed at the clock.  Benny was almost 20 minutes late. James needed his ginger, turmeric, and lemons.  

“HerR'RUSsshoo!  *cough-cough-cough - sdrff*...”


Shuffling into the kitchen, James used the damp cloth to massage his raw, tickly nose with one hand as he began to assemble the necessary equipment and ingredients to make his “Beringer Cold Special” with the other - electric kettle, value-sized jar of honey, extra-large mug, cinnamon sticks, cayenne pepper, and a generous shot of whiskey.

The ginger and turmeric would help reduce the inflammation in his cold-ridden membranes.  The lemon and honey would help soothe his raw throat. The cinnamon and cayenne would hopefully clear out some of the congestion currently clogging his entire respiratory system.  

And the whiskey was to help him sleep.  Theoretically. 

James had moved from London to New York when he was 20.  By 22 his first novel had hit the New York Times Bestseller List.   Ten years later, the author was world-renowned and an admittedly high-functioning alcoholic.  He drank more than he ate, using whiskey and wine during the day to feed his creative impulses enough to meet his deadlines and at night to sleep when his mind was spinning too wildly with ideas to stop.  After his last boyfriend had walked out a year ago claiming willful neglect (note to self: never date a lawyer) James was a proud recluse whose entire world existed within the 1743 square feet of his Upper East side flat.

He only ventured out his front door for contractually-obligated book signings and the occasional national tour when he couldn’t pitch a proper enough diva-hissy-fit to get out of it.   

Benny was his lifeline.  If the young man didn’t arrive every Tuesday and Friday at precisely 10:00 a.m… James would probably starve. 

“Hihh!... AHHdjshhhieooo!... huh-...HG’kgjsSHIooo!!...”  

Or die of the plague.

He started to sniffle and realized that it was an incredibly bad idea: the noise he almost produced sounding as thick as sucking molasses through a straw.  The congestion was right at the tip of his nose, making it feel full and hot. There was nothing for it: he had to blow. Wincing as the damp fabric irritated his raw nostrils, he took a deep, wheezing breath and let rip.  His short, lean body slowly bent forward in a long, gurgling blow, brow furrowed with effort as he attempted to shift the fluid out his clogged passages. Tousled light-brown hair fell forward into hazel eyes. Straightening with a raspy sigh, he quaked with a harsh shiver; his skin felt sensitive, tingly and chilled, like it always did when he caught cold.  

How a veritable hermit who barely came into contact with more than 3 people a week despite living in New York City managed to catch one cold after another every winter was still a baffling mystery.  

Sniffling, James trundled wearily into his bedroom, chucking the ruined hanky into the special hamper he had just for used hankies and rummaging into his special ‘hanky drawer’ for another.  

James had over 300 hankies, but never had more than half of them clean and serviceable at any one time, despite Rosa coming to clean the flat and do his laundry every Monday like clockwork.  Over the last decade the Brit had developed pervasive allergies to pretty much every pollinating thing in the State of New York, keeping his nose itchy and sneezy from March to October. As soon as the Nor’easters began to pick up around Halloween, he was almost constantly sick until St. Patrick’ Day.  

It was enough to make him ponder moving back ‘across the pond.’   Except, that would involve going outside.

Standing in front of his bureau, the ill author braced himself against the tall, steady wood as a tickle began worming its way through his irritated sinuses.  Breath hitching lightly, he scrubbed his raw nostrils with the fresh cloth, trying to stave off the sneeze. The crawling, shivery feeling under his skin intensified. 

“Hih!...-hih!---... ahhhhhh.  *sdff* ”  Massaging carefully caused the tickle to back off.  Battle won, but not the war. 

Just then, the doorbell rang.  Benny. Finally. 

Stalking through the flat, hanky pressed to his still-twitching nostrils, James yanked the front door open to glare at the tall young man holding two brimming reusable grocery bags in his muscular arms.

“Where the fugk have you beed, y’wadgker??” the Brit demanded, congestion thickening the words embarrassingly.  

“Um,” the other man cleared his throat, surfer-boy tanned skin flushing delicately despite his gargantuan size. “... s-sorry?...”  

Benny - born Benjamin Aaron Yates - had been delivering to James’ flat since high school, almost as long as James had been on the Best-Selling Author list.  The delivery boy was now 26 years old, nearly 6’3” of genetic-lottery linebacker. His shoulders were thick and broad, chest muscular and wide, firm abs and flat stomach narrowly tapering to lean waist and planed hips before flaring back out to tree-trunk thighs and shapely calves.  Sandy blond hair crowned a symmetrically handsome face, vividly blue eyes perpetually canted in an expression of bewildered innocence. 

If Chris Evans hadn’t already been cast as Captain America?  Benny would have been a solid contender. 

“Well, cobe od thed,” James croaked, turning away to muffle more barking coughs into his hanky-clad fist. His nose still felt incredibly ticklish, sinuses hot and prickling.  He massaged raw, aching nostrils as he shuffled toward the open-concept kitchen and living area. “Kidched is this way…”

After ten years Benny knew quite well where the kitchen was, but he followed obediently, setting the bags down carefully on the smooth concrete counters.  “Are…” he rumbled softly, his deep voice low and gentle as it always was. For such a giant of a man, Benny was so hesitant, so careful and shy.  Like he was afraid at any moment he would accidentally break the world.    “Are y-y-you a-all… all r-r-r-right, M-Mr. B-B-... B-Beringer? You d-d-d-d-... don’t s-s-... s-s-sound… sound g-g-good...”  

James had always found the younger man’s stutter positively endearing.  

“I’b sigk,” James snapped, hating the way it made Benny flinch but unable to stop being a cranky tosspot.  He felt like a hundred tiny tremors were pulsing forward from deep in his head, hammering through his nasal passages, making his nostrils twitch wider and wider with want of a nose-clearing sneeze. Beginning to unpack the bags, he searched for the much-desired ginger, turmeric, and lemons, sniffling thickly. “*sdrff* Beed waitig for you for the last two d--hh!... days.”

Never mind the fact that James hadn’t bothered to let the grocery store know he needed supplies sooner.  One of the symptoms of being a hermit was continually expecting others to conform to your unspoken desires despite lack of contact or communication. 

“Oh,” Benny’s cheeks flushed beautifully, highlighting the Norman Rockwell freckles peppered across his Aquiline nose.  “Y-y… y-y-you sh-should have c-c-c... called. I w-w-w-would… would have come s-... s-s-sooner, if I… if I’d known…” 

“It’s all righd,” the older man rasped, giving a wheezy sigh and rubbing his forehead with the non-hanky hand.  “I dod’t bead to sdap, Beddy. Jusd god a bodster of a headache.” He glanced up at the taller man, attempting to give a wan smile. 

James had to admit he’d had an embarrassingly violent crush on the handsome delivery boy for years.  But such a physically perfect specimen of masculinity couldn’t possibly be anything but straight, so the older man had never given any sign of his pathetically helpless attraction. 

Sometimes, though, James would catch Benny looking at him with a particular expression, like the one he had now... cleft chin practically tucked against his chest, looking up through dark, thick lashes with shy, soft warmth in those vibrantly blue eyes… and James allowed his imagination to wander...  

That look always caused his heart to pound and his hands to shake, this time fumbling and clumsily knocking one of the bags off the counter onto the marble floor.  

Both men bent at the same time to gather the items that scattered like spilled peas, and James suddenly found himself eye-level with Benny’s very close broad chest. 

Well-defined muscles curved in hard planes just beneath the thin sweater, the strong corded neck sloping down to join at the juncture of his shoulder and forming a bewitching hollow.  James shuddered, pupils dilating as he registered the warm, masculine heat emanating from the bigger man’s lightly tanned skin. His own body felt heavy, bleary, throbbing with that inescapably sick feeling that made his face feel like it was being dragged down by the nose.   He gave an involuntary shiver, longing to be wrapped in that strong, silken warmth… 

Closing his eyes, he reflexively attempted to inhale through his blocked nose, struggling to get control of himself.  Despite not being able to breathe, he was hit with a beautifully spicy scent wafting up from Benny’s shirt. Cologne. Mr. Burberry.

Which James was insanely allergic to.

The musky aroma raked its tickly claws across the back of his sinuses, igniting a shower of sparks that skittered through tender membranes like flitter firecrackers.  Oh god, he had to sneeze...

“...hyieh…” his breath hitched, eyes drifting to half mast as his nostrils flared madly.  He held his breath, one shaky hand reaching up and pawing around for the handkerchief he’d left on top of the counter, fingers scrambling to close around it and get it to his nose before he exploded messily all over the Adonis who crouched mere inches from his twitching face.  “...hyieggihh…”

Where is it?... come on, where the fuck is it??...

“...hyah-huh-...h’uh- h’uh- h’h ‘huh-!...” James tried to hold it back, then tried to direct the explosion down onto his own chest. It was no bloody use: the urge to sneeze was just too damned strong.  

But just before it burst forth, he felt a huge, warm hand slide around the back of his head, the missing handkerchief cupped gently over his nose and mouth. 

He sneezed in surprise.  “HyehhchuUH!’hh!!...”

“Bless you.”

That low, gentle voice was so close, rumbling right into his ear, a warm puff of breath ghosting intimately across the back of his neck.  But the stalwart handkerchief couldn’t entirely filter the cloud of cologne that enveloped him as he knelt so maddeningly close to the younger man’s scented chest. 

“Hih’ ih ‘ih ‘h ‘h ‘h-- hihyehhh-” his whole body was quivering with the intensity of the allergic itch.  God, it tickled so bad!... Combined with the sensitivity of his cold-ridden sinuses, he was helpless to resist. 

“Go on,” that gentle, deep voice rumbled, vibrating through the massive chest cavity like an amp at a club. Benny’s large finger and thumb were resting on either side of James’ inflamed nostrils, gently working to rub and soothe them through the cloth.  “I’ve got you.”

James couldn’t have denied that soft command if his life depended on it. He was so overcome by the allergic reaction he didn’t even notice that Benny had stopped stuttering.

“Hyuh- hyutchuh!  Hyeh-heh - heh! Hyehhtchuh!  HYIEHHtschuh!!... YIH’ EHTSCHHOO!  Ah. Hyihuh… hyehhuh… hyehhtschoo!...”  Again and again, James’ head snapped forward, nose on fire, the trickling fluid from his cold combined with the itchy allergic teasing of the cologne causing a massive, spraying fit.  

He felt those blissful, massive hands cradling the back of his head and cupping the hanky securely to his face, dimly aware of a shifting until that incredible warmth was settled against his side, the both of them sitting with their backs against the cabinets.  

“Hyehhuhh… hyehhuh… hyehht’tschooo!  *sdrff* EIH’ EHT’TSSCHHiioooo! *cough cough cough*”  James paused, gasping for breath.

“Better?” that gentle, soft voice asked. 

Yes and no, James replied in his head.  Yes because the feeling of Benny touching him was both incredibly soothing and intensely arousing.   No because his nose still felt itchy and full, miserably unrelieved, and the longer he sat here exposed to Benny’s otherwise very nice cologne the more he was going to keep sneezing. 

“... Hyehh-- Hyehhuh-  HyuhhT’tshhhuu!!! Hyuhhsh-hyuhhtsh- hyuhhhTSSHHuhh!!”

“G-goodness,” Benny chuckled softly, moving his hand from the back of James’ head to curve around his shoulder and urge the shorter man to lean against his large chest.  “What a c... c-cold, huh.”

“Dohh… dot jusd… th-hh!-- c-... coldd’YAHHtshooo!... y’yiehh… your… c-ohh-lode… NG’EIGTSHHH!... ahh-- allhhergic… Uhhn…EHT’TSSCHHiioooo!”

“Ohgod!” Benny jerked away as if he’d been burned, dropping the hanky into James’ lap like it had bitten him.  “I’m… I’m s-s-s… s-s-s-... I’m s- s-s-s… s-s-sorry… I-... I-...”

James wanted to reassure the younger man, hearing how panicked he was as his stuttering ramped up with terrifying intensity.  He wanted to ask the large man to come back and hold him again, to feel those big, warm hands against fevered skin that still prickled with subterranean shivers… a chilly sweat dampened his forehead, the sick feeling of being hot and cold at the same time playing hopscotch through his bones... but he couldn’t.  He was still sneezing. 

“Hihh!... AHHdshhhieooo!... huh-...HG’kgjsSHIooo!!...”  His head tipped back, his eyes scrunched tight, chest expanding as he heaved a gasping breath, then let the next sneeze plunge his head into his hanky and just shook with them.  “Huh… huh… HYEIT’TSSCCH-uu!!  EhUhetchht! Eh’tch!eh’tch!eh’tch!  Ehtch!ehtch!ehtch! ei”EHTSCHH’U’U!!...EpHT’TSSCHHiioooo!” He tried to snuffle and couldn’t, coughed, and blew his nose instead.  He took a while at it. 

When he finally raised his puffy, streaming eyes, Benny was nowhere to be seen.

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This....THIS.... yes where is my tent because I'm camping in this story. Sooooo much better than anything I'd have come up with so I'm VERY happy you liked my prompt. And Benny having a stutter is just :heart: I cannot wait to see where this goes :D

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Aww :wub:  Thank you guy!!   SO glad you're enjoying my new boys.  :blushing:  I think they're pretty cute, myself.  

@Kaze wo Hiku I was trying to capture some of the feelings I get when I read your stories, hoping to kind of put these two on the same train, so to speak.  

**Note Jan 2020: I’ve been trying to edit these chapters (because I’m nit picky) and I’ve been losing a lot of the formatting.  I will be fixing it all in the coming weeks.

On to the next part!...


Part 2

“Beddy?...” he called out, wincing at how horribly choked with congestion that one word had been.  His once-fresh hanky was practically obliterated, so he struggled to his feet and reached for the roll of paper towels next to the sink, steeling himself for the burning pain it would cause his raw, tender nostrils. 

After destroying four paper towels - wincing as they dragged roughly against his inflamed skin - and chucking them in the rubbish bin, he staggered away from the kitchen to solve The Mysterious Disappearance of a Hot Delivery Boy… 

Stopping in the open living room, he cocked his head, listening.  His ears were as clogged as his sinuses, sure, but he was positive he heard a shower running… 

Crossing the flat to the guest bath, James stopped outside the doorway to find that, indeed,the shower was on.  Turning briefly, he ducked into his bedroom to fetch another hanky from his drawer before slowly approaching the sound.  Laying one hand against the half-closed bathroom door as the other dabbed the fresh cloth against his hot, dripping nostrils, he eased it open… 

The blond behemoth had dropped his boxers and jeans in a pile on the bathmat, and was currently scrubbing himself vigorously behind the half-steamed glass door.   His thin sweater was nowhere in sight. 

“Beh-” James cleared his throat, struggling to make his hoarse voice heard above the sound of falling water.  “Whad are you doig??”

The younger man jumped, dropping the bar of soap he’d been using to lather his chest.  “I… I-... y-y-... y-... y-y-y-you w-... w-w-w-... w-were s-s… s-sssneezing and… a-a-and... I… I c-... c-c-c… c-...”

Even through the foggy glass James could see the taller man’s face flush beet red all the way up to the tips of his ears.  Unfortunately the steamed surface blocked James from seeing how far down the colour went…

Ducking his head, Benny stopped trying to talk and quickly finished scrubbing at his chest and neck, rinsing and rubbing one hand down his dripping face as he shut off the tap.  The shower stall was large, and Benny had thoughtfully brought a towel inside waiting on the tiled bench seat. He snatched it up, wrapping it quickly around his lean waist.  


James still gaped at the sight of Benny stepping out of his shower, bare chest dripping, blond hair darkened to burnished brass by the water, every exposed inch of his lightly tanned skin scrubbed enticingly pink.  The sick man knew he was staring, hanky pressed to his damp nose. His brow furrowed in thought, trying to work out exactly what was happening in this moment.

“Um, s-s-s… sorry,” Benny rumbled, the flush deepening on his cheeks.  He bent and retrieved his boxers and jeans, clutching them in front of his hips with one hand as he fisted the towel around his waist with the other.  “I, uh… I… I d-d… d-d-dddidn’t kn-know… know you w-w-w-... w-w… wwere al-... allergic. I...”

James tilted his head to one side, one of the rare times in his life he was absolutely speechless.  

“It, uh... probably didn’t h-h-help your cold any,” Benny continued, voice so soft it was almost a whisper.  His blue eyes were fixed on the clothes in his hand, the blush slowly creeping down his neck. That one tiny stutter in the middle of the sentence sent a flash of heat through James’ body; it was so fucking adorable.

“Where’s your shird?” James murmured, pinching the hanky around his nostrils and massaging as they began to tickle.  

“Um…” Benny winced, glancing up at the window on the opposite wall.  

The shorter man whipped his head around, looking quickly at said window and then back to the dripping, half-naked god standing in his bathroom.  “You threw your shird oud the widdow??”

If possible, Benny blushed even more fiercely, staring down at the floor so intently that if he were a superhero he might have burned a hole in it.   He didn’t speak, and James knew when the younger man got like this he was too overcome with anxiety to try without stuttering practically every letter of every word.   It had happened once, about six years ago, when Benny had tripped over a newly-delivered box of first-editions, landing on top of the bag of groceries he was carrying and smashing everything inside to pieces.  The ensuing mess had dripped all over the books when he’d scrambled upright, and the blond had been a stuttering, trembling, incoherent wreck, practically hyperventilating from humiliation.

That was the day James had realized he was falling for him. 

Benny stared at the floor and James stared at Benny, unable to keep his hazel eyes from roving over the sculpted shoulders and smooth chest, down the long arms to the massive fists, noting how they were clenched knuckle-white.  Benny was breathing too fast, shallow, and James suddenly worried he was edging into a panic attack. 

“Hey,” he breathed, lowering the hanky and taking one step forward.  “Dno probleb. I’ve god ode you cad borrow… I thigk…”

James wasn’t a midget, but he was definitely more in the M shirt department, while Benny was XXL.  Still, he had to have something… 

Benny glanced up, wary, and James poured all of his depleting energy into a reassuring smile.  

The shy one he got in return made every head-splitting sneeze 1000% worth it. 

The older man ducked back out to his bedroom and began rummaging through his walk-in closet.  He half-remembered a gargantuan promotional t-shirt he’d been given at some literary convention a few months back, thinking that might be the only thing he owned that would stretch over Benny’s hard, muscular frame…

“I’ve gotd… a t-shird …” he called over his shoulder, digging around in a box of things he’d been meaning to take to the homeless shelter but never got around to.  “Sobewhere here…” James brought one hand up to scrub petulantly at his nose, the trickle of fluid that shifted when he bent over threatening to make him sneeze. “I thigk… ah!  Here!”

Straightening, he spun on his heel intending to step out of the closet and bring the shirt to where Benny was supposed to be waiting in the bathroom.  Instead, James knocked smack-dab into the bigger man’s damp chest, bouncing off in startled reaction.  


Benny’s hands closing around his upper arms were the only thing that kept James from falling backward onto his arse.  Sapphire-jeweled eyes gazed down into startled hazel, once more suffused with that look.  James’ breath hitched, but this time not because of his cold.  

They stood there for a long moment, chests brushing lightly against each other as they breathed.  

“You... ok-kay?” Benny murmured, head dipping a fraction, bringing their mouths so temptingly close… 

James wrenched his thoughts back from the brink, barely stopping himself from licking his lips as he gazed hungrily at Benny’s lush mouth.

“Y-yeah,” he pulled back with a hard flinch and steadied himself on his own two feet. Holding out the shirt, he rasped, “Ub, h- here.”  Great, now he was the one stuttering… 

Benny took it and dropped his hand to rest front of his hips.  It was only then that James noticed the towel, boxers, and jeans had fallen to the floor when the younger man had caught him, puddling around those massive feet.   The shirt now covered whatever the towel had been hiding. 


James swallowed hard and spun around to face the back of his closet, giving Benny a moment to step into the boxers and jeans, hearing the fabric rustle as they were hiked up around those lean hips.  

“Th-th-th… thank y-... you.”

God, the sound of that deep, rumbling, stuttering voice just melted every bone in the older man’s body.  Closing his eyes, James heaved a long, congested sigh... which quickly became a harsh fit of chesty coughs.  Whipping the handkerchief up to press against his lips, he had to reach out with the other hand and brace himself against the wall until it passed, leaving him gasping and spent.  

“You’ve d-... d-d-definitely g-got yourself one h-... h-helluva b-b-b-b... b-b-... bad c-c-cold.”

Glancing over his shoulder through watery eyes, James saw that Benny was dressed in his jeans and the borrowed shirt, scrubbing the towel at the back of his neck.  His golden brows were furrowed with concern, his piercing gaze raking over the ill author’s exhausted face. 

“Yes,” James sighed more carefully this time, feeling the drag and scrape of air through aching lungs.  “I defiditely do, bate.” Taking the hanky in both hands, he gave a wet, drenching blow before tossing the sodden cloth into the hamper and pulling another from the dresser.  At the rate he was going, he’d have to do a load of wash before the weekend was over; there was no way he’d have any clean handkerchiefs left by the time Rosa arrived on Monday. “I deed to... lie dowd...”

James shuffled back out to the living room, needing desperately to fall into the nest of pillows and blankets he had made on the couch.  He was suddenly so dizzy he was worried he might pass out. 

“H-here,” that delicious warmth was suddenly at his back, those huge hands gently guiding his aching, shivery body down into the nest, wrapping him in soft, warm blankets.  

The sticky feeling of fatigue in his limbs combined with the ever-present low-grade tickle in his sinuses and the sensitive shivers under his skin made him feel cold and cranky, achy and vulnerable.  But Benny’s hands were heaven, and lying down felt tear-jerkingly good… 

Until the fluid shifted in his head. A slow tickle insinuated itself down from his sinuses, trickling past the bridge of his nose and refusing to do anything but malinger. 

God, he didn’t want to start sneezing again… 

Suddenly, cooler fingers brushed his hair, smoothing it back from his face.  A massive palm rested on his forehead. James blinked up into Benny’s warm blue eyes with hazel ones that were surprised and confused.  The sick man swallowed down a hot, sore throat and registered a faint tickling sensation in the back of his nose and ears. The feeling was slowly intensifying into an unmistakable urge.

Quickly clamping the handkerchief to his burning nostrils, he felt the large hand disappear as his lip began to curl up in preparation for what promised to be an almighty fit.  

The cushions underneath him shifted, a weight settling next to him on the couch. Blinking blearily, James saw that Benny had one hip perched precariously on the edge next to James’ waist, gazing down at him with that look.

James’ breath began to scissor, the tickle mounting.  He pinched the hanky over his twitching nostrils and began to rub and massage, wrestling it back.  His eyes were tearing and stinging hotly, the sneezy sensation in his nose causing a sharp ache to lance through his head.  It was quickly becoming obvious that he was going to sneeze, whether he wanted to or not.

Bloody hell… 

Dragging himself upright, he tried to blow the tickle from his nose, bending over and resting his elbows on his knees. “... Hyehh-- Hyehhuh-”  He stilled his hands and breath, trying to will his body to obey.  But it was no bloody use. Eyes closed, his attention was split between the irritated organ in the center of his face and the warm weight at his side.  

Until a gentle hand settled on his back and began rubbing in slow, soothing circles.  The shock of the unexpected touch allowed the sneezy urge to sneak past his defenses.

“HyuhhT’tshhhuu!!! Hyuhhsh-hyuhhtsh- hyuhhhTSSHHuhh!!”


“Hihh!... AHHdjshhhieooo!... huh-...HG’kgjsSHIooo!!...”  

The weight disappeared.  But James was sneezing too hard to see where it went. 

Huh… huh… HYEIT’TSSCCH-uu!!  ei’EHTSCHH’U’U!!uhh… HerRRUDJSsshioo!  *cough-cough-cough - sdrff*...”

The weight settled back, closer this time, and those miraculous hands resumed their smooth rubbing movements across his heaving back.  He felt a lighter weight settle on top of his knee, and glanced down through burning, watery eyes to see two more of his clean hankies resting in his lap.  

Benny had gone to fetch him more hankies...

The water in his eyes became the burning prick of tears.  It had been such a long time since anyone had done something so small, so kind, for him... he hadn’t realized how much it would make his chest ache. 

Destroying the used hanky in his hands with one horrendous blow, he tossed it onto the coffee table and palmed one of the clean ones.  It took two more blows before his head felt tolerably emptied, and the whole time those strong hands continued to stroke warm, soothing circles over his sensitive, shivery skin. 

He was finally able to stop and draw several long, wheezing breaths, crossing his arms and laying his aching, throbbing, splitting head atop them.

Christ, he felt bloody awful.

“C-c… c-... c-c-can I d-... d-dd… d-dddo... anything?”

That deep, soft voice washed over him, sinking through his skin down to lav his very bones with a gentle warmth.

...you already are…

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Oh my goodness! This is just as wonderful as all of your other writing!!!

I can't wait for the next part!

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I LOVE the subtly of the last line James thinks to himself. That lovely feeling when one character is smitten and the other doesn't have any idea :D

These two are just :heart::heart:


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* sees others have set up camp and decides to bring her own tent, set up a nice spot and unpack a bag containing a s'mores kit as well as other goodies. * 

Just gonna make myself at home here while I read another brilliant story by you...Seriously. The way you describe things makes the reader feel like they're IN the story...RIGHT THERE! I love stories like that! I look forward to future updates!!

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Wooooooow this is incredible! The atmosphere between them is so tense and delightful. 

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I'm in. I've got an awesome truck tent... This is lovely!

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Part 3

James woke slowly, the dull ache in his neck and back informing him that he’d fallen asleep on the couch. The bleary, fuzzy feeling fogging through his stuffy head and weary limbs made him idly wonder if he was hung over.   Attempting to lift his head caused sudden dizziness and pain to shoot through his sinuses, forcing him to close his eyes and sink back down with a low, miserable moan. 

Soft noises filtered through his clogged ears: the light clink of silverware, the gentle rush of water... There was someone in his flat.

He felt like this knowledge should have filled him with anxiety, but for some reason it didn’t.  It felt warm and comforting, familiar, like a cherished heirloom quilt on a rainy day. Flinging one arm over his eyes, he convulsed with several wet coughs that burned in his chest, the other hand fumbling around in the blankets for a handkerchief. Since waking his nose had been tickling lightly, a tiny, almost imperceptible sensation in his congested nasal passages. He could feel a sneeze slowly working it’s way out.  

Pressure was building behind his nostrils, evicting them from their standstill, and they would only make a mess if he left them uncovered. His hands became more purposeful in their search.

Cracking open one eye, he lifted his head just enough to promote a more focused hunt for the much-desired cloth.  Blinking through the muzziness, he spied a small stack neatly placed directly in his line of vision. 

Funny, he didn’t remember putting them there…

Fingers closing around the top square of dry, cool fabric, he dropped his head back and brought it to his nose, pinching it around his tickly nostrils with one hand and massaging gently.  But instead of soothing the tickle, it seemed to make it worse.  His eyes slipped shut. 

“hk’ZDXShhiooo!... heh-GXZdjnnshhoo”  The thick congestion made him feel like he was going to drown on dry land.

The noises from the kitchen stopped, and heavy footfalls began approaching.  Distracted by the malaise in his nasal passages, it took James a few seconds to work out who it could be.  

“H-h-... hey.”


Peeling his sticky eyelids open, James blinked at the big man through watery hazel eyes.  The blond padded across the room, lowering his hulking frame to perch carefully on the edge of the coffee table, a steaming mug of something in one oversized hand. 

“H-how...” Benny rumbled, brushing the tips of warm fingers against James’ temple.  “H-h-how are y-... y-you f-f-f-f-f-... ff...f-f-ffeeling?”

James blinked owlishly, chasing thoughts around in his sleep-fuddled mind and finally catching a word that worked.  “Tired.” Turning his head and coughing against his wrist, James started to become more aware. And with that awareness, he remembered how very exhausted and sick he felt.  “Wh--” he stopped to clear his throat, dragging the hanky across his nose with a congested snort and glancing back at the gentle giant. “Whadd’re you still doig here?”

That endearing blush once more rose in those chiseled cheeks.  “I…” the blond ducked his head, dropping his eyes to the mug in his large hand.  He set it down on the wooden surface with a gentle click, brow furrowed, as if making some weighty decision. “C-c… c-c-can you s-s-s… sit up f-...f-f… fff-f-f-f-f…. tea?”   Benny did that sometimes: skipped to a word he could get out without stuttering, abandoning all intermediary nouns, articles, and verbs.  Strangely enough, James always followed it.

Slowly dragging himself upright, moving as if each cell in his body hurt, James was grateful for the strong hand that slipped behind his back to assist.   “Dod’t you…” his voice cracked, throat stinging hotly. “Dod’t you have to go back to worgk? *cough-cough-cough-cough*

“N-n-n...” Benny shook his head, shifting to sit next to the sick man on the couch and picking up the cup, pressing it into James' lax hands.  “C-c-called d-dad.”

“Oh,” James wrapped cold fingers around the warm ceramic, closing his eyes with a ragged sigh.  He knew in some peripheral avenue of his brain that still trafficked thought that he should be more interrogatory, should be anxious about Benny’s father - who owned the grocery store - knowing his son was blowing off work to hang out at the apartment of the crazy author-hermit.  Knew that James shouldn’t be on his couch blankly slumped against the very large, very warm, very comfortable body of his delivery boy who was calmly handing him a mug of tea as if nothing else important existed in the world. But in this moment he just couldn’t manage it.

He had been coming down with a cold for the past few days, but it was only this morning that he’d felt really and truly ill.  Besides the thick congestion and head-splitting sneezes, he was achy and shivery, and his lungs felt like bags of wet sand. 

Tentatively sipping the hot liquid, the older man’s eyes nearly rolled back into his head.  Somehow Benny had figured out how to make the Beringer Cold Special, only his was better: the perfect blend of warm and spice and bitter and sweet… invigorating and soothing both at once.

James imagined if love had a taste?  This would be it. 

He managed about three-quarters of the cup before his sinuses twinged ominously, the turmeric and ginger from the tea beginning to work on the swelling while the cayenne turned every solid thing in his head to liquid.  Sniffling like mad, he gingerly set the cup down on the table and brought the handkerchief up to hover expectantly.

“G-gonna s-ssneeze?” Benny murmured, that big hand moving to rub slow, soothing circles on his back.

The smaller man could only nod, urge mounting, nostrils increasingly tingly and itchy.  He felt the chapped tip twitching, and knew he wouldn’t be able to hold back the huge fit that was building for much longer.  The liquids in his nose snapped furiously as he sniffled, rubbing his sore, dripping nose with a helpless finger. “Oh…” he gasped, feeling the touch ignite the spark in his nostrils, and began to fire away.  “Ah-ah-DZJSSshht!-ehDZddjjjssh-ZZDjjsshhtt!... hyeh… hh!-... ngh… ihk’GYIEtshuh! Ehhuh-huh… gyiehsch!!uh…”  Bloody hell, he felt so incredibly ticklish, sinuses hot and prickling.  “Eht-tshoo!-eht-tshoo!..TSHHoo! Uhh-ieh’g’yiehhtschhoo!... oh. uh’heh... g’YEIUTSCHHh’uu!... *snfl!snfl!snufl!*  -tschoo-tchoo-EHtcchoo… ihh’YIH’EHTSSHOOooo. *shzshzshjshzzhsshshshhhh* Ahhhh...  Ending with a hearty blow, the older man sighed with relief: that fit had cleared out some of the congestion so that he no longer felt like he was drowning in his own mucous. 

“G-goodness, bless y-you.”

Normally the reclusive author would be utterly humiliated for someone on whom he had such a passionate crush to witness these disgusting displays.  But, too exhausted and ill to manage the complexity of such an emotion, James merely sighed. He blew his nose again, and blew himself into a coughing fit.  The hard spasms tore from him with a cruel force, shaking his whole body and sending fresh torrents of agony through his head, throat, and chest. 

Christ, that bloody hurt…

Between coughs, he gasped for wheezing breaths that never quite seemed to come, and pressed a shaking hand to his burning, aching chest as if that might somehow help his clogged lungs do their work.  Benny gently pulled the quaking body into his strong arms, guiding James’ sweaty head to rest against his massive chest. The slow rubbing on his back turned firm and therapeutic, almost like the blond was trying to help massage the coughs away.

James finished at last, wiped his streaming eyes and blew his nose thickly, leaning more heavily against the younger man’s broad chest.  “Ugh, thad was... wredtched…”

Benny’s big hand gently brushed a lock of James’ brown hair to the side, then dipped his head to touch warm lips carefully to James’ pain-wrinkled forehead.  They rested there until the sick man had caught his breath, then slowly drew back. “Y-y-you h-have a f-f-f-f-f-...f-ff... f-f-f-fffever.”  For some reason f’s gave Benny particular trouble. 

“I dow,” James whispered, breathless, loathe to speak louder and possibly incite more coughs.  Red-rimmed lids squeezed tight over aching, burning eyes. “Always do whed I… ged a cold.” 

James knew that this was beyond the pale, that he absolutely should not be enveloped in Benny’s muscular arms, so close and so warm and so very very good that he thought he might be dreaming this... and... if he was?... that made it okay to sag and sniffle and sigh congestedly instead of pulling away.

“Y-you’re s-s-ssick a l-lot,” Benny sounded worried. 

James only nodded, feeling so thoroughly wiped and weak that he could cry, except he didn’t have the energy for it. 

Benny began to hum softly, the vibration buzzing through the smaller man’s skin and soothing the last of his discomfort.  He would have happily drifted off to sleep, but a nagging thought in the back of his mind tugged him stubbornly into awareness. 

“Beddy,” he whispered, the steady susurrus of the big man’s humming resonating through the large chest directly under his ear.  “Why are you here?”

The humming stopped, and for a split second James experienced a bolt of panic - that he’d had something rare and beautiful and precious and then went and ruined it by opening his big mouth… 

But the silence was only the blond gathering his thoughts, because he drew a slow, deep breath before replying, “B-b-bec-cause y-y-you n-n-... n-n-n-... n-nneed me.”

James only had a moment to blink, not quite sure he heard right.

Then thick, long fingers slid under his chin, tilting the sick man’s head back.  Benny was gazing down at him with that look, his lush mouth curved in a shy half-smile.  Slowly, achingly surreal - and this is when James became utterly convinced he was dreaming - Benny lowered his head to brush warm lips against his mouth.  Soft and uncertain, innocent and hopeful, Benny’s kiss was a mirror of the man himself. 

Later James would blame it on the fever, the low groan that shivered up from his chest as he snapped forward with furious greed, capturing the younger man’s mouth with half-starved lips.  He clutched the borrowed shirt in both fists, dragging the big body close and gripping tight as if he might disappear. Benny sucked a sharp, shocked breath through his nose, then his lips curved in a soft smile, sliding his hands up from James’ back to cup either side of his too-warm face. 

Tongues danced, breath fused, bodies crushed so tight they may as well have been one person.  James’ mouth kissed and caressed and sucked at Benny’s, a fever scalding through his bones that had nothing to do with sickness.  Benny made a low humming noise of pleasure in the back of his throat, giving everything James asked of him and more. 

Those huge hands cradling the brunet’s head in a flesh-and-bone cage that shut out the world.  There was only them, there was only this. It was so pure and perfect that James felt hot tears well up and spill over the rims of his eyes to drip down his flushed cheeks.  Benny’s thumbs lightly wiped them away. The big man kissed with his whole huge heart on his lips, breathing out bits of his soul, and James’ drank each one like he was dying of thirst.  The older man’s heart jackhammered in his chest, each breath becoming harder and harder to draw as his entire body constricted with want.

Finally, though, the need for oxygen won out over the need for Benny, and James broke away to press his forehead to the younger man’s chest and gasp for whistling, stunted breaths.  

“God…” he croaked, wishing he could smell the clean scent of Benny’s newly-washed skin, but was just too swollen and congested to manage it.  “Damb…”

Benny chuckled, “Y-yeah,” low and rumbling, laying his chin atop James’ grimy hair and bringing long arms around him, giving a gentle squeeze.  

Both men sat there for a long moment, feeling the warmth of the other body, hearing each other breathe, savoring.  But James was beginning to feel dizzy, the room spinning, hot and cold at the same time, and he wasn’t at all convinced that this was real.  A starkly vivid fever-dream, perhaps.

Some precious, bloody brilliant dream... 

Then, true to form, James’ nose slowly began to fill, the trickly fluid tickling and teasing the irritated, cold-ridden tissues.  He groaned, bringing a fist up to scrub petulantly. Surely he wouldn’t sneeze in his dreams, would he?... A sudden, sharp prickle made his left eye water.  

Apparently, he would.

Dream-Benny didn’t seem to mind.  In fact, the blond gingerly leaned forward - careful not to jostle the precious cargo in his arms - and retrieved a handkerchief from the neat stack.  “H-h-here,” he murmured, gently tucking the cool cloth against the sick man’s much-abused nose and kneading with tender strokes. “G-g-gonna t-t-… t-... t-t-t-take c-c… c-c-care of y-you…”

James sighed, and surrendered.  “hyieh-TDJSSsschhooo… h’h!-heyehSSHHHiioooo… gah--gk’yYIDDzzddsshiiooo…” they came long and drawn out, his entire system feeble and spent.  Each sneeze seemed to shudder up from his knees, consuming his whole body as they quaked out his tired nose.  Hihh!... AH-Hdjshhhieooo!...ehhKKSSHT-SHHT-SHHTTchhiiooo…”  This time it didn’t take as long for the tickle to be satisfied, and James found himself drifting languidly in the aftermath.

Wrapped in warm, strong arms, resting comfortably for the first time in days, James barely registered as his drippy nose was dried, a warm blanket tucked around his sick body, and a soft kiss pressed to his fevered brow.  

“...best dreab…” James sighed, snuffling and turning his face into the source of that blissful warmth.  “...dod’t ever wadda… wagke... up…”

Benny smiled and settled back into the couch cushions, James tucked against his chest, and watched the older man drift back to sleep.

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THE FEELS. ALL OF THE FEELS. I love this so much!!! 'scuse me while I keep grinning like a fool. I love this so friggin much!! <3 <3 <3

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Oh my word this is so cute!!!!! I am in love with Benny?? Do you think there will be contagion to our lovely grocery boy?

I love your characters!!

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I am absolutely in love with this!!! Benny with his massive size and nervous stutter is the cutest and most lovable character and poor sick James with his crush and his very expressive sneezes :naughty: *hint hint wink wink* is a fetishh delight :inlove: 

I can't wait to read more of these two. 

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On 4/22/2018 at 11:24 PM, Juto said:

I am absolutely in love with this!!! Benny with his massive size and nervous stutter is the cutest and most lovable character and poor sick James with his crush and his very expressive sneezes :naughty: *hint hint wink wink* is a fetishh delight :inlove: 

I can't wait to read more of these two. 

I'm so glad you like them.  :D  One more part, and then an Epilogue... maybe more stories later with these two.  I'm kind of in love with Benny, myself... :wub:

Fever and misery in this part.  Because I like it. 


Part 4

James’ sleep was initially lovely: comfortable and warm, easy, and he managed a few precious hours of much-needed rest.  But then he began to feel searingly hot, nauseous, like he was caught in a whirlpool spinning madly out of control.  He moaned.

A cool, dry palm pressed to his forehead, a voice penetrating the fever-haze. “...oh g-god... you’re boiling…”

The warm surface under him heaved, his body shifted without his consent, and that made everything infinitely worse.  When the world stopped spinning, he was lying on something decidedly less comfortable.  And he was still miserably hot. He twitched and fidgeted restlessly, squirming, searching for relief.

It came unexpectedly from above, a blissfully cold weight settling over his forehead.  Something soft and damp... a cloth, he realized dimly… stroking down his fevered cheek, pressing against his sweat-slick neck, momentarily stilling his feverish jerks and twitches.  

“Shh... it's okay, it’s okay… god, what do I do...”

He felt his head carefully lifted, a cool hardness pressed to his lips.  He opened obediently, a blissfully cold wetness sliding down his parched throat.  Water. He began sucking greedily.

“Whoa,” that voice rumbled, close and comforting.  “Not so fast.”

The hardness was removed, and he whimpered in sorrow at its loss.

“Shh.” Sweaty hair was combed back from his face, a large hand stroking gently. “Give that a minute.  Got plenty.”

He panted, trembling, unable to feel anything but thoroughly, miserably sick.  The damp cloth returned, colder this time, wetting his forehead, cheeks, and neck.  He shivered, hands twitching reflexively, unsure whether the sensation was good or bad.  

After an indeterminate amount of time, the hardness was once more pressed to his lips.  He furiously sucked as much of the cold liquid as he could take down his parched throat.  When he’d drained one glass, another soon appeared. But this time there were two small hard things pushed between his lips.  Pills, he remembered blearily.  Swallowing them was hell-fire.

“Good,” that deep, lovely voice encouraged.  “That’s good. God, you’re so hot…”

Somehow those words didn’t sound like a compliment.

At one point his burning body was lifted and swayed like a boat on the ocean for a bit, before being settled into something cool and soft - his bed, he realized, the familiar lump of his pillow cradling his throbbing, aching head.  Being in his bed was its own particular kind of relief: the familiar and welcoming softness enveloping him like a mother’s arms.

Those miraculous hands never left, that gloriously cool cloth continued drifting over his burning skin and soothing the bone-wracking fever.  He sneezed and a hanky caught the desperate spray. He shivered and a blanket appeared. He sweated and it was pulled back. He coughed and a gentle hand rubbed his back.   He thirsted and water was pressed to his chapped lips. His head throbbed and firm fingers massaged his scalp until it eased.

He’d had fever spikes before, but no one had ever taken care of him like this.   Someone was doing their damndest to ease his suffering, and he felt a crack in his chest at the sheer tenderness of it.

Between the cool cloth and the cold water and the medicine and those magnificent hands... he slowly began to feel less like death and more just unbelievably exhausted.  The heat began to recede from his body, like ice melting in a glass. And how that made any sense, he had no idea. His brain often did that when he first woke, juxtaposing strange similes.  Normally he kept his laptop in bed so he could write down those random ideas to put into his books.

But this morning he felt too bloody awful.

Weak as a newborn kitten, his body was a tangled mass of aches, skin stretched too tight, head throbbing mercilessly.  And his eyes were burning: he’d had his contacts in too long. Even though his glasses kept falling off his face when he sneezed, he was going to have to haul himself up to take them out.

Just the thought made him groan with dread.  

Peeling back sticky eyelids, he stared as the world slowly formed fuzzy shapes.  On the nightstand was a bowl and a limp washcloth, a bottle of Tylenol, a half-empty glass of water, and a blister pack of cold/flu tablets.  He blinked in confusion, didn’t remember putting any of those things there. Come to think of it, he didn’t remember actually going to bed. Maybe he’d put more whiskey in that Beringer Cold Special than he thought...

He rolled, bracing himself for the arduous task of getting up… and froze.


The big man was slumped in a chair pulled close to the bed, golden head pillowed on one long arm.  Asleep.

James’ breath came short.  

That dream...

That bloody brilliant dream...

Had it... actually happened?...

It was obvious by the light streaming through the blinds that Benny had stayed with him all night. Benny had been the one to carry him to bed.  Benny had been the owner of those marvelous hands that brought such sweet relief.  Benny had plied him with water and medicine and tended him until his fever broke.  Then he'd stayed and slept nearby, just in case. 

James the recluse, the hermit, the utter failure at humanity... had no idea what to do with this.

He lay still, barely breathing, suddenly oblivious to how wretched he felt.  Hope and panic ribboned through his bones in a desperate dance, and he felt himself beginning to shake.

The movement jostled the bed, and Benny snapped upright with a startled snort.

“Wha--...” blinking sleepy blue eyes, the younger man turned his head off to one side, clearly confused about where he was.  But turning back, his dazed expression cleared when he realized James was awake and staring back at him. “J-J-...J-James… y-y-y-yyou… ... h-how are y-y-you f-fff...”

“Bedder,” the sick man croaked, saving Benny the trouble of having to finish the sentence with those bothersome f’s.  Speaking buzzed through his brain in a most unpleasant manner, and ignited a tickle in his sinuses. Pinching his eyes closed, he turned into the pillow.

“huh-...hg’KGdjMmmssht!!... unnn...” The sneeze bashed through his head like a canonball, causing him to moan low in his throat.  A clean hanky was pressed into his limp hand, and he flopped an arm up to nuzzle his nose into it, blinking gratefully.  “...Beh… Beddy…”

“L-L-Let m-me g-g-g-get…” Benny was out of his chair and through the bedroom door in two seconds, moving with an almost desperate purposefulness.  James was left lying tangled in sweat-crusted sheets, pressing the hanky urgently to his nose as it began to run in earnest.

After several minutes of feeling the slow, hot trickle of fluid seep from his nostrils into the absorbent cloth, James heard a rattling and heavy footsteps coming down the hall to the bedroom.  Benny appeared in the doorway, broad shoulders nearly touching both sides, with a tray in his hands. The ailing author vaguely remembered it being a gift from his publisher at a Christmas party some years back, and couldn’t for the life of him remember where he’d shoved it when he’d come home more than a little tipsy that night.  Benny had apparently unearthed it from wherever dusty corner it had slumbered, and put it to surprisingly appropriate use.

On the tray were two mugs, steam gently rising from their mysterious contents, and a glass of juice.  Setting the tray on the dresser, Benny came to James’ side.

“Up?” he asked softly.  James nodded wearily, and the blond slid strong arms underneath the older man’s sweaty back.  Benny let James feel like he was helping while the younger man actually did all the work, maneuvering the ill man upright and resting him against the headboard, spare pillow tucked solicitously behind his spine.

The tray was left on the dresser, but Benny fetched one of the mugs, holding it out for James to take with weak, shaking hands.

Glancing down, the older man saw that it was tea.  Likely made exactly the way James preferred it: one sugar, no milk, exactly 68 degrees Celsius.  Because the reclusive author always offered Benny a cup of tea on Tuesday mornings. And Benny had probably paid attention over the last ten years to exactly how the Brit made it.

James took a long swallow, feeling it slide blissfully down his raw throat, warming his sore chest.  His grandmother had always said there was little in life that could not be made infinitely more bearable with a proper cup of tea.

She was right.

Finishing the cup, James breathed a congested but relieved sigh.  Benny swapped one mug out for the other, this one a rich chicken soup.  How the younger man knew that James hadn’t eaten since the day before yesterday was anybody’s guess.  His stomach was still a little unsettled from the night of fever,  though, so James sipped it very slowly, waiting to see how his system reacted.  When the first few swallows seemed to settle comfortably he took a few more, managing to finish nearly two-thirds of it before feeling drowsy and full.

But Benny wasn’t finished.  He stood next to the bed, holding out the glass of orange juice.

“Ndo,” James croaked, fumbling to bring the hanky up to cover his mouth as he coughed.  

Benny just stood there, looking down at the sick man with a stubborn light in those blue eyes.

“By throad hurds too buch,” James knew he was whining.  “Too acidic.”

Benny scowled at the glass, as if by expressing his displeasure at the liquid it might change its chemical structure.  “Y-you n-n… n-n-need the v-v-v-... vitamin C,” he rumbled softly. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he turned to spear James again with that look, but this time coloured by deep and profound worry.  “L-L-Last n-night... y-y-you s-s-s… ...  ... s-s-cared m-me.”

James flushed.   If the fever looked half as bad as it’d felt, then he had indeed given Benny  a right good scare. He wiped his runny nose with the handkerchief, unable to bear looking at the beautiful man sitting on the edge of his bed as he slowly explained, “I’b... sorry.  I... I ged... fever spigkes, sobetibes... whed I’b sigk. ... I’b sorry. ”

Benny’s blond head nodded once, “Ok,” as if that were perfectly good enough. “If… if y-you d-d-drink it, I’ll b-... b-bring y-you m-m… m-mmore t-tea.”

James pouted. “You dod’t fighd fair…” but he took the glass, gulping it down with a grimace.  It burned his throat but actually did taste good, the sharp sweetness cutting through the sticky layer of muck that coated his tongue. 

But the acidity made him cough, and the coughing made the fluid in his head shift, and that made him need to sneeze.

“*cough-cough-cough*... *sdffll*   *sdff*   heh--HerRRUDJSsshioo!  Huh… Ah-ah-DZJSSshht!-ehDZddjjjssh-ZZDjjsshhtt!... hyeih… hh!-... nghHYEIT’TSSCCH-uu!!”

“Bless,” Benny raised one blond brow.  “D-Do y-y-you always s-s-s… s-s-... ssneeze ssso m-m-much w-with a c-c...  c-c-c-cold?”

James chuckled, leaning his head back against the headboard with a weary sigh.  “Beddy, whed have you seed be ndot sdhh- heezig?... ihk’GYIEtshuh!... huh… dj’AHTshooo! 

“Bless you,” The younger man went and fetched two more handkerchiefs from the drawer.  “S-s-ssuch a b-b-... bad c-c-... cold.”

“Prob’ly the flu,” James rasped, gratefully taking the clean cloths and massaging his damp, aching nostrils.  Benny reached for the ruined one.  The sick man was about to protest, but the blond closed his big hand around the snotty rag and tossed it expertly into the hamper with one fluid motion.  

"Three poidts," James chuckled and wheezed.

The big man smiled shyly, glancing at him from the side of his eye.   Slowly, one huge hand reached out, coming to rest on James’ blanket-clad thigh.

They both looked at it.

Then, James reached out and laid his smaller hand on top of Benny’s, curling cold fingers around it.

They gazed into each other's eyes, James’ jaded hazel ones slowly warming with the same look as the soft blues’.  The older man gingerly leaned forward, hesitant, until his lips hovered so close to Benny’s that he could feel the soft puff of warm breath on his chin.

“Thagk you for tagkig care of be,” he breathed against the other man’s parted lips.  

“M-my p-p-ppleasure,” the bigger man stammered, before dipping his head and making the space between them disappear.  Benny’s hand turned over to thread thick fingers through James’ finer ones, pressing palms tight.  James’ other hand came up to skim fingertips across Benny’s jaw, sliding back into the soft, blond hair. Benny’s free hand curved around James’ ribs.

They kissed slow and deep, until James had to break off, gasping for breath, and winding up for a wet sneeze.  

“H’ihh!... ahhDJSHhieooo!...”

“Bless.”  The one word Benny never stuttered.

James smiled.

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I awww'd and sighed and grinned my way through this chapter!! 

The fever descriptions were perfect and the bliss in the shape of Benny's hands was so so sweet!! 

That big man totally holds my heart. 

Never stop writing these precious goofs!! If you ever need a prompt, I'm here ;) 

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2 hours ago, Juto said:


I awww'd and sighed and grinned my way through this chapter!! 

The fever descriptions were perfect and the bliss in the shape of Benny's hands was so so sweet!! 

That big man totally holds my heart. 

Never stop writing these precious goofs!! If you ever need a prompt, I'm here ;) 

I couldn't agree more!^_^

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I'm not usually drawn to same-sex scenarios, but this ... this is just ...


I want moooore. I say that on a lot of fics I read, but that's because they're just that good! Keep it up,!

So good. Some of these fics I could just read and read and read.

Don't want to see them end.

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