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Suffer - (M), cold


kendisima

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Hi again!

I keep trying to write drabbles with my restaurant OCs, but they keep turning into two-thousand-plus word stories.  So this is another prompt story.  If you want to read anything else I've written with these characters, this is the drabble thread and this is the last story I wrote with them.  They're all illness-related because...that's what I like to write. 

Let me know what you think!

Prompt:  Suffer in Silence - for whatever reason, (character) doesn’t want anyone to know they’re sick, and does everything they can to hide it

 

Suffer

Greyson wakes up on event day and immediately doubles over with a huge “HRSHH-ue!”

Fuck, he thinks to himself.  This is not going to end well.

Two months ago, Elijah had practically bounced into the office with a piece of paper in his hand, shoved it into Greyson’s face, and shouted, “Look what we got invited to!”

It had been an invite to the New York Food & Wine festival; one of the biggest food events in the city. Greyson had just hit the one-year mark at Elliot’s, but he knew that Elijah had been trying to get an invite to NYF&W since he opened the restaurant five years before.  It was his dream, and it was a huge opportunity for the restaurant. 

So, Greyson had spent the past week and a half ordering and preparing 2,000 portions of Elliot’s signature Yellowfin Tostadas for the event, while Elijah ordered all their decorations and stressed about whether their booth was going to fit in with the booths next to them.  Worrying about whether they’d scheduled enough staff to come with them.  Worrying, stressing, worrying, stressing.

That was why, when Greyson felt a tickle in the back of his throat last night, he hadn’t mentioned anything.  When his head started pounding right around dinner service, he’d kept it to himself.  And when Elijah had asked, warily, if Greyson was OK when he heard him sneeze three times in succession, Greyson had just waved him off.  He was not about to add to Elijah’s stress.

*

It’s just about eight a.m. when Greyson arrives at work, stuffed to the brim with precautionary cold meds and cough syrup.  Elijah immediately bounds up to him, practically vibrating with excitement.

“Today’s the day!” he says, shaking Greyson’s shoulder a little.  “Aren’t you so excited?!”

Greyson manages a small smile.  “I’m pumped, Lij,” he says, clearing his throat into the back of his hand.  “But it’s very early, and I haven’t had any coffee.  Give me five minutes.”

Elijah just rolls his eyes, but he’s still smiling.  “It’s hardly the crack of dawn, Grey,” he says, still bounding on his toes.  “I’ve been up since five.”

“Somehow, I don’t doubt that,” Greyson says, managing to turn a cough into a scoff.  Elijah cocks his head a bit at the sound.

“You’re good, right?” he asks.  “I mean, ready for today?”

Greyson smiles again, this time really putting his all into it.  “I’m ready, boss,” he says.  “Just let me find that coffee.”

*

Greyson is one hundred percent not ready for this.

It’s thirty minutes before the event starts, and he literally cannot stop sneezing.  It’s like some sort of ancient curse has befallen him on the drive from Elliot’s to the Festival.  It’s like someone threw sneezing powder in his face the moment he walked in the door.  It’s like every cold he’s ever had has culminated into one super-cold and decided that now was the time to unveil its powers.  It’s like… God, he doesn’t know.  He needs a fucking tissue.

HPTSH-uh! Snf.  Ok, guys here’s how we’re goi – ihh – goiiiing to do thin – HUGTSHH-ue! Guhh.  ‘Scuse mbe,” Greyson says, stopping himself from wiping his nose on his brand-new chef coat sleeve.  He clears his throat and tries again; “Here’s how we’re going to do this.”

Greyson manages to let the team know the way they’re going to put together their tasting bites through the near-constant sneezing.  They’re smarter than to ask him about the sneezing, thank god.  Elijah, though, is a different story.

“Dude,” he says when Greyson has finished rallying – and most likely infecting – his team, “are you ok?”

Greyson rolls his eyes at his boss.  “Cand you stop asking mbe that?” he says, sucking in through his nose.  “I’mb finde.”

“Uh…huh,” Elijah says, slowly reaching up to feel Greyson’s forehead.  Greyson ducks out of the way just in time.

“Lij, enough,” Greyson says, having finally managed to get the congestion under control for a minute.  “I must be allergic to something in here.  There’s flowers on, like, every table.”  Greyson pats himself on the back for the creative last-second excuse.  Elijah just nods.

“Okay,” he says, “if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure,” Greyson says, but his nose is already starting to twitch again.  “Hey, I need to run to the bathroom before this shindig starts.  Will you just ma – ehh – mbake sure they aren’t fucking around back there?”  The sneeze is right at the tip of his nose, so he gives it one quick rub while Elijah raises that stupid eyebrow at him again.

“Yup,” he says, nodding.  “I’ll watch over them.”

“Thandks,” Greyson says, and practically runs to the bathroom.

*

By the grace of whatever God there may be, the bathroom is empty when Greyson barges inside.  He barely makes it to the paper towels before the sneezes start pouring out.

GSTHH-uhh! Heh-ISHH-ue! HSTHH-ue! HRESHH-ue! HETSH-HETSH-HETSCHH-uhh! Huhhh….hnn…huh, huh, HUHH….HUHHHESHHH-ooo!”

 Greyson practically falls over with that last sneeze – what the fuck.  He almost wants to laugh; this must be some sort of cosmic joke.  Here he is, at one of the biggest food events in the country – an event where he’s going to be front-facing, an event where he’s going to have to talk to thousands of people, and he literally cannot stop sneezing.  It’s like a nightmare come to life.

The chef sighs and pulls a handful of paper towels from the dispenser.  He blows his nose until he feels at least marginally better, washes his hands thoroughly, and feels for the cold pills in his pants pocket.  He took some in the car, probably not even thirty minutes ago.  A full dose.  A full dose that isn’t working, he thinks to himself, pulling the pills out.  A couple more couldn’t hurt, right?  He needs them.  He can’t be behind their booth sneezing onto all the food.  He can’t let down Elijah by saying he can’t be near the food.  So, he’ll be a little high.  Who hasn’t cooked high before?

Greyson collapses into one last “HUESTSHH-uee!” before popping two more pills out of their foil.  He doesn’t let himself think about it too much; just pops them in his mouth and cups some sink water in his hand to wash them down. 

*

Thirty minutes later, Greyson is standing behind the booth, glassy-eyed and bubbly, handing out samples of tuna.  His mouth is moving a mile a minute to any guest who will listen.  People are loving him; laughing at his jokes, telling him how good the food is, asking him about which culinary school he went to.

Elijah isn’t even sure Greyson realizes how stuffed-up he sounds.  How every laugh is punctuated by a crackling, soupy-sounding cough.  He isn’t sure that Greyson realizes he’s being watched by Elijah; that every time the chef crouches down to grab more plates of product, he sneezes at least three times into his shirt, with the collar pulled up over his nose and mouth.  At least he’s being sanitary about it.

Elijah is busy, too; he’s standing just outside of their booth, passing out flyers with information on Elliot’s, passing out his business cards, and schmoozing the people who want to rave about their experiences at the restaurant in the past.  Truly, Elijah doesn’t have time to be listening to every sniffle and cough coming from the executive chef, but for some reason it’s all he seems to be able to focus on; maybe less so the noises, and more that amount of effort Greyson is putting into not making the noises, or making them as unobtrusive as possible.

About three hours into the event, the people start to taper off.  They are running very low on food, which is a great thing, and the guests at the booth become more of a trickle than a downpour.  Greyson pats each of his cooks on the back as they put the last samples of food up.

“Well done, kids,” he says, his voice cracking.  “You all go and try some of the other food around the festival.  I’ll hold down the fort.”

The cooks all high-five and scurry away before their boss changes his mind.  Once they’re all gone, Elijah can see Greyson’s whole body relax.  He turns himself all the way around, crouches down, and hacks into his chef sleeve for a minute or so while Elijah dismisses the front-of-house staff members he brought with him to follow the cooks and try some food.  Then, he lets himself into the booth and stands in front of Greyson so that the guests won’t see him.

“Get it all out,” he murmurs to the chef.  “No one can see you.”

Greyson coughs harder now, devolves into a fit of five sneezes, rapid-fire, directed into the lifted collar of his shirt.  He grabs some of the leftover napkins from the back of the booth and blows his nose into them.  Elijah can hear the chef clear his throat as he stands back up.

“Better?” Elijah asks, moving to the side so they’re standing next to each other.  Greyson coughs up a laugh.

“Depends what you mbean by ‘better’,” he says, sniffling.  Elijah huffs out a little laugh.

“You know, I could have just brought Mark and helped the cooks myself, if you’d have told me you were sick,” he says. Greyson shrugs and crosses his arms, looking out at the crowd of people standing at cocktail tables.

“I wanted to combe,” he says, coughing again.  “Wasn’t goigg to let the kids fuck up the food I worked so hard ond.”

Elijah smiles and says nothing; he knows why Greyson didn’t say anything, and that isn’t the reason.  This event was Elijah’s dream-gig.  If he knows anything about Greyson, it’s that he gives his all for the people he cares about.  Not that he’d ever say it.

“Well, you did a great job anyway,” Elijah says, “even though you were high on Dayquil the whole time.”

Greyson laughs.  “That obvious?”

“You get the glassy-eyes,” Elijah says.  “And you can’t stop talking.”

Greyson puts his head in the hand and shakes it, still smiling.  “Can’t win ‘em all,” he says, looking back up. 

“Thanks for being here, Grey,” Elijah says, looking at the chef – his red-rimmed eyes half closed, his nose chapped and moist, the smile on his face half-loopy.  Greyson shrugs and looks back at Elijah.

“Hey,” he says, rubbing under his nose, “anything for you, boss.  HUH-GTSHH-uhh!”

Elijah cringes at the huge sneeze.  “Maybe take tomorrow off.”

Greyson can’t help but laugh again.  He takes the tissue he’s holding and wipes under his nose.  “Sure thigg, boss,” he says, “whatever you say.”

              

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