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Lovesick (Welcome to Night Vale, Cecil)


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Soooo, I found this old fic on my computer and decided to actually finish it? I'm woefully behind on Night Vale, so this is set early on in Cecil and Carlos's relationship. Hopefully somebody still cares about these two weirdos. Should be three or four parts total.


Carlos had to smile a little when he came by Cecil's house Friday night to find the radio host asleep on the sofa, a blanket half drawn across his chest and a tiny trail of drool across his chin. Behold, o Night Vale, your almighty Voice.

Cecil looked smaller in his sleep. More fragile. Quite a bit more human, with that strange glow about his eyes extinguished.

Carlos went to make them some dinner, keeping the pots and pans quiet as possible, but he needn't have bothered; Cecil was dead to the world. Finally, armed with two steaming plates of gluten-free lasagna, he gently shook his boyfriend's shoulder.

Cecil stirred groggily. "Wha... huh? Carlos? I... tchieu!" Cecil's whole face scrunched up in a surprisingly high-pitched sneeze, follow by a slow, liquid sniffle.

"Bless you. Dinner's ready."

"Oh?" Cecil's voice still sounded lazy and sleep-muddled. "Time is it?"

"Almost eight. You been asleep long?"

"Hours." He sniffed again, absently running the back of his hand under his nose. "I was so tired after work."

"You work too hard," Carlos told him fondly. "You're sounding a little sniffly there. Coming down with something?"

"I don't–oh. Oh!" Sounding much more awake, Cecil rushed across the room to his desk, pulling a plastic Ralph's bag from the top drawer. "I'd completely forgotten. And I bought the supplies days ago. Oh, this is exciting."

The bag, apparently, contained an entire pharmacy's worth of cold remedies. Painkillers, decongestants, vitamin tablets, vap-o-rub, tissues, tea, chicken soup, plus several more distinctly Night Valean additions. A smattering of varicolored bloodstones, and Carlos was pretty sure he caught sight of a dead green rat under a pile of cough drops, though whether this was an intentional purchase or merely a Glow Cloud dropping was anyone's guess.

"Expecting the plague?" Carlos asked, only half-joking because... well, who knew?

"Of course, silly." Cecil ripped open a pack of tissues and blew his nose enthusiastically. Carlos tried not to wince at the gurgling sound. "We've been dating four months now. According to the Standard Relationship Progress Directive—"

Carlos groaned. The Standard Relationship Progress Directive had been the bane of his existence these last four months. Cecil was wonderful, the relationship was wonderful, everything was wonderful, but he could really do without the Vague Yet Menacing Government Agency telling them when they were allowed (required) to start having sex, to sleep over, to share clothing, to assign nicknames. "So this weekend is illness?"

Cecil nodded. The motion seemed to shake something loose in his sinuses, because he scrunched up his face again, at least three seconds before letting loose with another sneeze. "etCHIEW! Exactly. Both of us. We'll care for each other, and the shared experience will bring us closer."

"Both of us?" Carlos raised his eyebrows. "I feel fine."

"For now."


"So," Carlos asked his pink-nosed boyfriend over dinner, "Are there specific... rituals we need to go through this weekend? To fulfill the Directive? How does this work?"

"Oh, loads. I have a checklist around here somewhere. Once you start showing symptoms we'll get started, don't worry."

"I'm telling you, Ceec, I feel fine. I have a great immune system, always have."

"Hmm." Cecil yawned. "Whatever that is, I'm sure it's perfect, just like the rest of you. Rub my head?"

"Is that on the checklist?"

"No, I just..." he flinched his eyes shut. "My head hurts."

Carlos was officially the worst boyfriend ever. Cecil'd been drooping over his lasagna for the last twenty minutes and he'd been too busy with technical details to notice. "Of course," he said softly. "Why don't you go lie down. I'll clean up in here and be in in a minute." He leaned over to plant a lingering kiss on the other man's forehead. Didn't seem feverish, so that was good.

Cecil nodded and levered himself up from his chair, only to immediately double over again: "Etch! Etch! Etchh! EtchiEUU!  ...owww." He pinched at the bridge of his nose, sniffling hard.

"Right," decided Carlos, "The dishes can wait. Let's see about your magic bag of cold remedies."

"No magic," murmured Cecil. "Magic's cheating, we're just supposed to ride it out."

"It's a figure of speech, Cecil." Carlos was still vigorously in denial about the existence of what Cecil called "blood magic," but now was not the time.

The bag seemed just as over-the-top now as it had an hour ago, but at least they were prepared. He examined the boxes of medicine carefully, deciding that they seemed close enough to familiar non-Night-Vale remedies to be probably safe, before handing Cecil a bottle of water with a couple multi-symptom pills.

"Do I just..." Cecil gave Carlos a helpless look.

"Swallow them. With the water. You've never taken pills before?"

"It's been... nntchieu! a really long time since I was in a relationship that lasted four months," Cecil admitted quietly, and. That. Really raised more questions than it answered, vis-a-vis the progression of illness in Night Vale, not to mention Cecil's relationship history and how old, exactly, Cecil was.

Not the time, Carlos reminded himself. "Put them on the back of your tongue and then take a sip of water," he urged gently.

Cecil managed this, though he started coughing a second later and seemed to find it hard to stop. Carlos sank down on the sofa next to him, running a soothing hand up and down his back. "You're okay," he murmured. "God, Ceec, as relationship milestones go this one doesn't seem like much fun. We couldn't share a more pleasant experience? Go on a weekend trip together or something?"

It took Cecil several tries and long, shaky breaths before the coughing fit calmed down enough that he could respond to this. "Leave Night Vale? Oh, no, that's not for ages yet, we would have to prove ourselves very committed indeed." He slumped forward, pressing his forehead into Carlos's chest. "I feel icky."

"I know you do, querido. Here, lie down, I'll rub your head like you asked."

"Perfect, beautiful Carlos," Cecil sighed, sliding down into his lap.

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Oh wow I really do enjoy this a lot! I'm so far behind on Nightvale its not even funny, but this is a lovely fic that makes it so you don't have to be caught up as long as you somewhat understand the city. I appreciate that a lot. I also love that it's mandated by relationship protocol, and I also love how Carlos is like "please I'm totally fine psh." Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, as they say. I also love your creativity on the plot and just your writing is great. Thank you and I can't wait for more!

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On 4/28/2018 at 1:36 AM, striderlicious said:

Oh wow I really do enjoy this a lot! I'm so far behind on Nightvale its not even funny, but this is a lovely fic that makes it so you don't have to be caught up as long as you somewhat understand the city. I appreciate that a lot. I also love that it's mandated by relationship protocol, and I also love how Carlos is like "please I'm totally fine psh." Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, as they say. I also love your creativity on the plot and just your writing is great. Thank you and I can't wait for more!

Aw, you're so sweet! Thank you, and... I mean, contagion like most things is weird in Night Vale, but Carlos will totally get his eventually.


Given that this was a Night-Vale-assigned bonding experience, Carlos assumed it would last all weekend, but he was still disappointed to wake up the next morning to Cecil pale and shivering beside him, nose starting to turn red and chapped where he'd been rubbing at it in his sleep. It was early still--they'd gone to bed early, in deference to Cecil's obvious exhaustion--so Carlos figured it was best to let his boyfriend sleep this off for as long as possible. Carefully he eased out of bed, rearranging the blankets to make a thicker cocoon around Cecil's sleeping form, and made his way to the kitchen.

It really had been a while since Carlos was sick himself, let alone taken care of a sick partner. What were headcold-friendly breakfast foods? Would pancakes be good, or too sticky on a sore throat? Tea was a classic, and perhaps orange juice, but that was all liquid and no substance. Cecil's shopping spree, when Carlos went to investigate, didn't seem to include much food beyond chicken soup, and surely that would be too heavy for first thing in the morning.

It would have been nice for Cecil to give him a heads up on this particular milestone, Carlos thought with just a touch of irritation. He could have done his own shopping. He'd been hoping to coax Cecil out bowling this weekend, just to watch him get adorably competitive after a few beers, but of course that plan was off the table now.

He shook himself. No point blaming his boyfriend for getting sick, weird town rituals notwithstanding.

Oatmeal! Oatmeal should be easy on a sore throat, and full of soluble fiber.

When Carlos made his way back into the bedroom with a breakfast tray he'd scrounged up from behind the sink, he could almost understand the Agency's logic in assigning this as a bonding ritual. He hated seeing Cecil so obviously miserable, of course—curled in on himself in a tight ball within the cocoon of blankets and somehow still shivering. But something in Carlos's chest twisted, hard. He wanted very much to just wrap himself around Cecil again and take away that pain.

Setting the tray on a bedside table, Carlos did just that, forcing himself not to cringe back at the heat radiating from Cecil's slim frame. "Cecil," he whispered in the other man's ear.

Cecil shuddered, but otherwise didn't reply.

"Ceec," said Carlos, a little louder. "What's your normal body temperature?"

"Six hundred degrees," Cecil mumbled, pressing further back into Carlos's arms.

Carlos considered. "Six hundred on what scale?"

"You wouldn't-- 's not-- don' worry. I'm fine. It's all fine." Cecil undermined his own words a bit by sucking in a long, ragged breath through his mouth and going into an impressive sneezing fit. ha-etchIEU! HaTCHieu! ngtchUU! etch-etch-etch-TCHUUU!

"Bless," said Carlos softly. "You want tea? I made you tea. And oatmeal."

"This isn't—" Cecil shook his head sharply. "I should be making you tea too. What happened? Why aren't you sick yet? You should be sick by now."

Carlos huffed out a breath that was almost but not quite a laugh. "Just as glad I'm fine, for the moment, Ceec. You seem like you're not doing so great, and I want to look after you. Okay?"

"Kay," said Cecil, and it was weird to see him like this. So docile, so out of it. Normally Cecil woke from slumber in a matter of minutes, bouncing into whatever research or entertainment he had planned for the day. Today, he just made a weak grabby-hands motion at Carlos without really rolling over to face him. "You said... tea?"

Carlos handed it over, stalling for a moment so Cecil could direct a stray sneeze into the crook of his elbow.

"What are we supposed to do today?" he asked, after giving Cecil a moment to collect himself and sip at his tea. "I assume there's a schedule."

"There was," said Cecil, sounding a bit more energetic in his annoyance. "None of it works while you're healthy."

"Look, I don't know what to tell you, carino. Take it up with the City Council." He toyed briefly with the idea of trying to act sick, just to get Cecil off his back. But that wouldn't help with the larger problem—the paperwork wouldn't be valid if he was faking.

Cecil sat up a little straighter. "Maybe I—"

"No, don't actually involve them. Not yet." Carlos tried very hard not to resent the government's involvement in his romantic life, but that relied on a heavy dose of denial. He knew, in some part of his mind, that there was probably a representative of the Vague Yet Menacing Government Agency lurking outside his window at this very moment. But as long as he didn't have to see or interact with them, he could mostly pretend it was just a quiet Saturday morning in bed with his boyfriend. "You could infect me?" he offered. "I mean, I'm sure I've already been exposed at this point, but just to make extra sure."

"What—ngtCHU! Ugh, 'scuse me. What do you mean, infect you?"

Carlos smiled gently. "Come here, sweetheart." And he pulled Cecil into his arms for a long, slow good-morning kiss.

It wasn't the best kiss they'd ever shared—for one thing, Cecil kept having to pull back a little to suck in air through his mouth, and it was only a minute or two before he pulled back more sharply, snapping his head toward his shoulder. "ee-ATCH! atschIEU! ATCHOO!" This last, violent sneeze seemed to sap the last of his energy, and he dropped his forehead onto Carlos's shoulder. "Not that I'm—complaining," he panted out. "But what did that have to do with getting you sick?"

Carlos considered. "What do you know about the germ theory of diseases?"

Cecil lifted one shoulder in a lazy shrug. "You should tell me about it. I'm very into science, you know."

Cecil's eyes were already drifting closed, and Carlos doubted he'd be conscious much longer. More rest was probably the best thing for him, but. Well. Carlos had never turned down an opportunity to lecture about science. He nudged Cecil off his shoulder and into the crook of his arm, where he'd be less likely to hurt his neck if he nodded off. "The first proponent of germ theory was Girolamo Fracastoro in the sixteenth century, when he discovered—"

Cecil was snoring softly after just a few sentences, but Carlos kept talking, working to make his voice soothing in case it helped give Cecil sweet dreams.

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This is so lovely! It’s a very interesting world and you've explained enough for me to understand and follow the story. I’m excited for the next part! 


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They passed a few easy hours in bed together, Carlos flipping through a copy of "Journal of Microscopy" that had ended up on Cecil's bedside table last time Carlos had spent the night here, Cecil dozing more-or-less peacefully in his arms. He started paying attention again, though, when the rhythm of Cecil's breathing started to change, rattling on every inhale. That didn't sound good at all. Carlos was no doctor, but this all seemed unreasonably fast for the progression of a simple headcold—Cecil was (probably) young and (apparently) healthy; he shouldn't be showing danger signs for pneumonia within a day and a half of symptoms appearing.

He ran one hand along Cecil's temples, pushing the sweaty hair out of his eyes; Cecil moaned and pushed into the touch. Carlos had never gotten a sensible answer about Cecil's body temperature, but from an imprecise and subjective point of view, Cecil felt far too hot.

He was weighing the merits of waking him up for another dose of cold medicine versus continuing to let him sleep it off when the decision was taken out of his hands; Cecil's breath caught in his throat and he launched into a terrifying, breathless coughing fit.

Cecil's eyes flew open, and he clutched at his throat, Carlos helpless to do more than rub a soothing hand up and down his boyfriend's arm as he rode out the fit. It tapered off slowly, because as soon as his lungs started calming down his nose got in on the action—a couple of high, ticklish sneezes that grated on his throat and set everything off again.

Once Cecil had finally caught his breath, he peered up at Carlos, eyes a little unfocused. "Good mborning, sweet Carlos," he said in an unrecognizable croak. "Any signs of sdniffles yet?"

"Me?" Carlos squawked. "What about you? Cecil, I'm thinking about bringing you into the emergency room, this is way past a relationship bonding thing at this point."

"Nooo," Cecil moaned, throwing an arm over his eyes, "not the snakes, I'm not due for eggs yet."

It was anyone's guess, Carlos thought grimly, whether that was fever-induced nonsense or just a Night Vale thing he didn't understand. "Let me at least try and get your temperature down," he bargained.

Cecil's only response was to close his eyes against three carefully stifled sneezes, ngtch! nttCH! ungTCHu! Carlos wanted to tell him that was bad for his sinuses, but it was lose-lose if unrestrained sneezing was likely to set off another coughing fit.

"Come on," he said, "we'll get you into a cool shower." Cecil nodded gamely, but his knees buckled trying to get out of bed, and Carlos ended up scooping the shivering man up into a bridal carry. 

"You need to... why... why aren't you sick?" he mumbled into Carlos's ear.

"Don't worry about that right now, sweetheart, just concentrate on getting better." Carlos deposited Cecil carefully into the bathtub and turned on the water, twisting the knobs and whispering a couple words of invocation to the pipes until the temperature was cool but not freezing.

Not that this mattered to Cecil, who cried out and tried weakly to wriggle away as soon as the water hit his skin. "No no no cold," he whimpered. "Why– what— why do you hate me?"

"I don't hate you," Carlos said, feeling like a monster as he held Cecil in place under the shower spray. "I promise, Ceec, this is for your own good, even if it sucks right now."

"No, you hate me, you— I love you and you hate me, that's why— etchU! etch-etch-etchUU!" Cecil raised a shaky hand to wipe at his face and it took Carlos a second to realize he was rubbing away tears from his eyes.

"Cecil, baby, I promise, you're okay, you'll be okay," he murmured, feeling frantic but trying to keep his voice calm. He couldn't handle this, watching his boyfriend wracked with sobs and cut-off coughs and shivers, this wasn't okay. Not knowing what else to do, he pulled off his clothes and climbed in with Cecil, wrapping his arms around him and letting the cool water batter at them both.

It felt like eternity but was probably less than ten minutes when Cecil's breathing calmed from its hysteria, tremors easing. Breathing a sigh of relief, Carlos reached forward to turn the water temperature up a bit, lukewarm at least, not hot enough to raise Cecil's body temp back into the danger zone. "You back with me?" he asked quietly, squeezing at Cecil's shoulders.

"Can we go back to bed?" Cecil choked out.

"Yeah, of course. You scared me, Cecil. Here, let me just—" he turned off the water and grabbed towels for them both, drying off enough that they wouldn't end up with damp bedsheets.

"You could have told me," Cecil said, voice still so rough that he was barely recognizable as the silver-tongued Voice of Night Vale.

"Told you what?" Carlos asked distractedly, still patting Cecil dry, wondering where the bag of cold remedies had ended up.

"That you don't love me," he said quietly.

That got Carlos's full attention. "What? Of course I—are you still delirious? Listen, we can talk about this when you're feeling better, let me just—"

"Think about it," said Cecil. "I'm—ntchieu! I'm sick for you, and you're fine. You're not—"

"Cecil," said Carlos, temper rising. "I told you, I don't know why I'm not sick. Whatever test it is I'm failing by not getting sick, that has nothing to do with me and you. I'm trying so hard to take care of you. Isn't that enough to prove I love you?"

"This is serious," Cecil insisted, and he sounded on the edge of tears again. "It's not supposed to work like this, and the only reason I can think of is if you're not—" he had to break off again, three harsh sneezes collapsing into more ugly coughing.

Carlos squeezed Cecil hard, not sure if he intended it as comfort or reprimand. "You sound awful. Come on, come to bed."

"I sound awful?" Cecil repeated, sounding horrified. "You really don't love me anymore. You don't— I'm not—"

"Gentlemen," came a new voice from outside the tiny bathroom window. "You're not scheduled for your first fight for several weeks yet, I'll need you to file form 432-B if you want to initiate it early."

Carlos looked up, taking in the blurry outline of a balaclava-clad face through the privacy glass. "You," he said, grateful for an excuse to turn his anger on a better target than his miserably ill boyfriend. "Where do you get off? I'll jump through your Relationship Directive hoops all you want, but people die from pneumonia. Fix this."

"Pneumonia?" The Vague Yet Menacing agent sounded honestly confused. "It's a headcold. This is your weekend for headcolds."

Carlos stood, throwing open the window to properly glare. "Does that look like a simple headcold to you?" he demanded, holding a towel around his waist with one hand and gesturing to Cecil's sodden, boneless form with the other. "High fever, incoherency, he can barely take a breath without coughing or sneezing. If it's not pneumonia yet, it's heading that way in a hurry."

Frowning, the agent pulled a clipboard out of a nearby bush and flipped through it, muttering to himself. "Most irregular," Carlos made out, and "don't see where we went wrong."

"It's okay," said Cecil hoarsely from the floor. "I know what happened. Relationship Directive milestones don't work if both parties aren't fully committed to the relationship."

"Cecil," Carlos said, turning back toward him with a frustrated growl, "I am committed to this relationship. I know I'm an outsider, I know I don't always do things the same as you, but I don't know what else I can do to convince you—"

"That's it!" said Vague Yet Menacing. "Oh, our sincere apologies, Mr. Palmer, Mr. The Scientist. We hadn't fully accounted for Mr. The Scientist's outsider status, and Mr. Palmer got a double dose of the illness meant to be shared between the two of you."

Mr. The Scientist, Carlos mouthed to himself, but it didn't seem worth correcting. "Can you fix it?" he asked instead.

"Of course," said Vague Yet Menacing, "Give me just one moment to correct form 826-C..." 

Carlos turned away from the sound of a pen scratching out entries of the clipboard to Cecil, who was sniffling desperately from some combination of tears and sinus pressure. "Here," he said, offering a handful of toilet paper because he wasn't sure where the tissues had ended up. "Blow your nose, you'll feel better."

"There," said Vague Yet Menacing, from behind them, and Carlos—

He'd never felt anything like it. Headcolds were supposed to come on gradually, a sniffle here, a dry throat there, but instead he was being thrust into the worst of a cold all at once like plunging headfirst into a frigid swimming pool. His head swam, his throat ached, his nose—

"RATSchhU! HURASTCHOO! HAHETSCHOO! TSCHHOOO!" Blindly he groped for more toilet paper, only to find it pressed into his hand, Cecil's arm slipping soothingly around his waist. With one last, ear-popping "HURETSCHOOO!" he managed to blow his nose and do away with the worst of the tickle.

"Have a good weekend, sirs," said Vague Yet Menacing, sounding pleased, and Carlos heard the window slam closed.

"Ugh," said Carlos, forcing his eyes open to consider Cecil at his side. He looked better. Not healthy, not by a long shot, his nose still drippy and cheeks flushed, but certainly not the huddled ball of misery from a few minutes ago. In fact he was beaming at Carlos.

"You're sick too!" he said cheerfully. "Oh, Carlos, you do love me."

"Of course I do, my beautiful idiot," Carlos grouched, leaning a little further into his boyfriend's embrace.

"Oh, we have so much to do!" Cecil enthused. "We've fallen behind schedule with this unfortunate bureaucratic snafu, but it's about lunchtime, so I can get started on some soup while you—"

"Cecil," Carlos interrupted, eyes slipping closed again. He was glad they'd found an equilibrium, but the tradeoff was that he suddenly felt like he'd gone ten rounds with a rabid kangaroo.

"Yes, my love?" Cecil asked.

"Can we start with a nap?"

Cecil let out a long sigh, slumping back against Carlos's side. "You know what? A nap sounds— etCHIEU! Sounds delightful."

Tempting as it was to just collapse on the bathroom floor and drag Cecil down with him, Carlos managed to pull himself upright and offer Cecil a hand up as well, and together they shuffled into the bedroom. That was about all the energy Carlos could muster, so Cecil dragged the blankets up over them both, tucking Carlos in tenderly. "Good night, Carlos," he said with a cut-off yawn, snuggling in close. "Good night."

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This was so cute and hurt/comfortery! 

Carlos and Cecil’s relationship is soooo adorable! I love their dynamic and how you integrate the rules of Night Vale into this coldfic. Like Cecil’s concern about him not catching it. You know when you start talking back to the tv when something happens. I was like no no no in my head when Cecil said “You don’t love me.” And I thought that was only because of the fever but then he said it when his fever broke!!!...so I almost yelled out loud at the story ahahahahahaha. Anyways lovely sneeze spellings! 

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