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Looking after Dustin

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@fieldofflowers this is finally an asthma fic from me.  I vaguely remember you mentioning you’d like to see more of that.  

A/N it’s been a really long time since I had a bad asthma attack; I tried to recreate it the best I could.  I’d love feedback on that, please


The first thing Beth saw when she came home from work was a living room strewn with toys and a daughter in front of the TV.  The second thing she saw was her husband, wrapped in a blanket, shivering on the couch with a box of tissues.


“Dustin?”  She asked, picking up AdaLyn and turning off the TV, “are you ok?  You look a lot worse than last night.”


Dustin coughed roughly into his fist.  “I feel awful.” He admitted.  “Just since we woke up from morning nap.  Headache, fatigue, low grade fever, chills, coughing, sneezing.  That’s why Ada was in front of the TV.  I didn’t have the energy for playing, and I kinda wanted to keep my distance.”


She frowned.  “And yet, you’ll go back to Ethan’s tonight.”


He shook his head.  “He’s letting Tim stay.  He wants me to go to urgent care.  He thinks I have influenza since I got sick this fast.  I’ve already moved my stuff to the guest room, and I’m not planning on going with you and AdaLyn to Susanna’s either.” He gave her that information in a hoarse, stuffy voice.


“So are you-“ She stopped as he pulled his sweatshirt collar up over his nose.


“HahKishoo-kishoo-kshoo-Kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo….HahKishoo.” He took a tissue and gingerly attempted to blow his overly congested nose.   


She winced, seeing how red his nose was.  “Are you going to urgent care?”


He nodded. “I didn’t want to bring her with me.  Bad enough she’s being exposed to me.”  He indicated their daughter.  He met eyes with Beth, and she understood that he also didn’t feel up to trying to keep an active three year old busy while they waited for him to be seen.  


“Can you go alone?  I can see if a neighbor will take her…”


“I can.  Stay with her.  She still needs supper.”  


Beth nodded, as he put on his coat and headed out.    Dustin cranked the heat in his car on the way to urgent care, something he rarely did, living in California.   He found a spot and headed in.   Minutes later, he was in triage, a patient, instead of working.   He gave his coworker, Sam, the details, and Sam had him back in a room, in a gown and covered in blankets in no time.  And then there was the wait, where he shivered and sneezed in the thin gown, despite his nurse, Meg, keeping him wrapped in blankets. 


Finally the doctor saw him, ordered a chest x-ray and a flu swab (both turned out to be negative), let him know that there was just a really vicious cold going around, and told him to keep doing what he was doing.


Discouraged that there no remedy to make him feel better faster, he headed back home.  Both of his coworkers told him a) that they’d call and check on him, and b) to call if he needed anything.  


“HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-Kshoo-shoo-shoo…HaKishoo!”  Sneezing into his shoulder, he opened the front door.


Beth looked up from where she was wiping down AdaLyn’s toys with a bleach wipe.  “Bless you, honey.  What’d you find out?”  She picked up another toy and disinfected it.   


“Just a really nasty cold going around.” He grumbled.  “They told me to come back if my asthma gets worse, but to keep going with fluids, rest, and cold medicine.”  He coughed roughly and shivered.   


“There’s soup in the kitchen if you’re hungry.”  


“No,” he sniffled, “but, I should eat anyway.”  He sat down at the kitchen table where Beth set a bowl of soup and a glass of water in front of him. “Is Ada is bed?” He asked,  


She nodded.  “Yeah.  Leaving early to go to my sister’s.”  She hesitated. “Unless you think we should cancel…”


“I think you’re ok.  You’ve barely been around me since I was at Ethan’s.”  He paused to cough.  “And today with Ada, I swear I washed or sanitized my hands more than I do at work.  I tried to keep my distance from her too.”  


Beth nodded.  “Ok.  Are you ok being home alone?”  


“Sam and Meg took care of me tonight in urgent care.  They said they’d call tomorrow and check on me.  Also to call them if I need anything.  I can call Dave and Jess too.” He listed off nearby friends.  “And there’s always the neighbors.”   


“No running to take care of Ethan.” She said firmly.  


“Don’t think I could if I wahhhHahKishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo…HahKishoo.  He sniffled and blew his nose.   “Couldn’t. Even if I wanted to right now.”  He leaned back against the chair, pushing aside his bowl and closing his eyes.


Beth took the empty bowl and put it in the sink. “Go get ready for bed,” she told him grabbing a water bottle from the cupboard.  “I’ll bring water and cold medicine in a few minutes.”


Dustin headed upstairs and took his allergy and asthma meds, then crawled into the familiar guest room bed, switching on the TV.  As quickly as he could grab a tissue, he was hunched over in a sneezing fit.  


“God bless you.” Came Beth’s voice as he straightened up at its conclusion.  


“Thanks,” came his breathless response as he wiped his eyes, then grabbed a handful of tissues to tend to his nose with.  


“I only see you sneeze like that when your allergies are really bad. Must be going to be some cold.”


“He nodded, eyeing the cup of green liquid she held in her hand as she set the water bottle on the night stand.  


“Is that –“


“NyQuil.” She finished.   “I know we  agreed no NyQuil while AdaLyn is little so it’s not only one of us listening for her,  but Ethan called me at work and told me his sick you were.  I’ve got actual behind the counter Sudafed for you in the morning, too.  You rest tonight; I’ve got Ada.  And you’ll have this while we’re gone.”  She handed him the medication, which he downed eagerly.  


“Still tastes disgusting.” He grumbled, coughing.  


Beth pushed the water at him and waited for him to take a drink. “How’s Ethan?”


“He’s still got a pretty bad cough, and he’s got no voice; he’s wore out.  But he says he’s eating, and Tim backs him up.”  Shivering Dustin slid down under the covers and pulled them around him.  


“Tim’s the comedian, right?” 


Dustin yawned, allowing his teeth to chatter.  “He’s also an accountant,” he informed her, coughing.  


Beth laughed.  “Oh, Ethan.  Can’t break the mold.”


“No, he can’t.”  Dustin snapped, snatching a few tissues from the box and removing his wrist from his nose.  “Hakishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo….Hakishoo.”  Following the fit, he groaned and pulled the blankets tighter.   


“Bless you, honey. Just relax.  I’ll be right back with another blanket.  Do you need more tissues?”


He shook his head.  “There’s another box in the drawer with the cough drops.”


She nodded, disappearing down the hall to the linen closet.  She came back with a thick comforter, tucking it in on the sides.   Brushing a hand across his forehead, she frowned.  “You’re pretty warm; what was your temperature earlier?”


“I don’t remember.  Around 100.”


“I want to take it again before you go to sleep.”  She disappeared again, this time to the bathroom and returned with the thermometer.  She scanned it across his forehead.  “100.5.  Explains why you’re cold.  You don’t do fevers well.  Explains why you’re grumpy too.”


He glared at her, which she ignored.


“Get some sleep.  Text me if you need anything during the night.”


The green liquid must have done its trick because the next thing  Dustin was aware of was Beth calling his name.  He glared over at her; he hated being woken up when he was sick.


“Don’t give me that.” She told him firmly.  “We’re getting ready to leave, so we’re here to tell you goodbye.”


Chastised, he relaxed his expression.  “Sorry.  You guys are heading out?”  He turned on his side and propped himself up on his elbow. 


“Yeah.  You slept ok?”


He nodded.  “Thank you.”  He grinned as his daughter came running up the hall and appeared in the door.    Beth caught her before she entered the room.  “We’re saying goodbye from the doorway.  We don’t want to catch daddy’s cold.” She reminded AdaLyn.   He said his goodbyes to his wife and daughter from the doorway, then buried a fast flurry of sneezes into pillow once they were halfway down the hall.   “HahKishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo!”   Blowing his nose, he flopped back on his pillows and fell back to sleep.


He noticed throughout the day that his chest felt heavier, that when he moved around, he was starting to notice shortness of breath.   But he’d use his inhaler, and it would improve.  So, he kept up with that, and just laid low for the day, going to bed early.  By bedtime, he noticed that coughing and sneezing just plain hurt and left him winded.


It was 2 am when he woke up, struggling for air.  He could hear himself wheezing, and felt the tight grip on his chest.  He tried a deep breath to reduce his anxiety, only to end up coughing.  He pawed around on the nightstand for his inhaler, locating it in what seemed like longer than it took in reality.   Shaking it rapidly, he pulled the cap off, wrapped his mouth around it, and inhaled while pushing the top of the canister.  Trying not to cough, he held his breath for a few long seconds, then exhaled.  He tried his best to breath normally while he waited until he could take the next puff. He felt the vise on his chest begin to loosen and started to relax.  He took the second hit off the inhaler and noticed the wheezing fade.  His breathing was easier now.


Crawling out of bed, he slowly padded down to the bathroom and grabbed his pulse oximeter.  90% was the reading.   Not great, but acceptable, especially with all he had going on at the moment.   Taking the oximeter with him, he went back to bed.


He awoke at 8 the next morning, feeling like an anvil was on his chest.  He couldn’t take a deep breath without coughing.  After using his inhaler, he waited half an hour.  Little improvement.  He checked his oxygen.  85%.  He needed to go back to urgent care, but wasn’t sure he could get himself there at tip his point.   


As if on cue, his phone rang.  Ethan.  “Hi.”


“Just thought I’d check in on you.”


“Oh.”  He rubbed his nose.  Apparently the sneezing was going to start now.  “Hold…HahKishoo-kishoo-kshoo-Kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo.”


“Bless you.”  Ethan noticed how tight and forced Dustin’s sneezes sounded and how breathless he was afterward.  He waited for the other man to catch his breath.   “Asthma?”  He asked the question he already knew the answer to.


Dustin confirmed. “This cold hit my lungs hard.  Can barely breath without coughing.”


Tim saw Ethan’s frown at this point in his conversation with Dustin, and looked up from his breakfast.  “Everything ok?”  He mouthed.


Ethan continued asking Dustin questions. “What’s your O2 sat?”




“You need to go back in.”  Ethan said flatly.  


“I know.”  He coughed harshly.  “But I don’t think I can drive, and everyone is working days this weekend.  Haven’t bothered the neighbors yet though.”


Ethan sighed.  “I just took the codeine cough syrup.   I can’t drive either.”   


Tim kicked him under the table.  “What’s wrong with him?”


Dustin began coughing again, so Ethan took advantage of this time to fill Tim in on the basics.  “The cold triggered his asthma; he needs someone to take him to urgent care.”


“Ask him if I can.” Tim said simply,


Ethan return to Dustin who was working in catching his breath.  He waited for him to take a drink of water, then asked “can Tim take you?  He’s offering.  I’m fine alone for awhile.”


“That would be great.”  Dustin let out a sigh of relief.  He hadn’t even thought of Tim, let alone that Tim would offer.  


“20 minutes.”  Ethan told him.


True to Ethan’s word, 20 minutes later, Tim was pulling into Ethan’s driveway.  He rang the bell, the helped Dustin to the car.  Another 20 minutes, and they were at urgent care.  Dustin went to get checked in and seen while Tim waited in the waiting room.  


Tim spent the the hour texting Ethan.


-        E, he’s really sick.

-        How bad?

-        Just breathless, I could hear him wheezing in the car

-        Shit. He hasn’t been this bad in a few years

-        I don’t think he should be alone right now

-        Want me to call Beth?

-        Where is she?

-        Her sister’s. Susanna’s birthday is today. 

-        Damn. When is she back?  

-        Sometime tomorrow 

-        I’d hate to ruin her plans.  And how far away is she?

-        I think about 3 hours.  

-        Can he just stay in the guest room overnight?

-        Want us to take him?  You’ll have two of us to take care of.  And he can be a bear. 

-        You’re hardly any work.  And I can handle that.  You can run down and start washing the sheets for the spare bed.  I’ll finish them.  

-        Where will you sleep?

-        I’ll take the couch.  I’ll be fine.   

-        I’ll text him and ask him and let you know.


5 minutes later, there was a response.

-        He’ll stay over night. 


Ethan went to start the laundry, then continued texting with Tim, this time about how he felt until Dustin was freed from urgent care.


“Cold triggered asthmatic bronchitis.” Dustin filled Tim in.


Tim gave him a sympathetic look.  “Ugh.  Been there.  Steroids?”


“You have asthma? And yeah, steroids and nebs.”


“Yeah, I do. Which pharmacy.”


“CVS on Woodbury and home to grab things for overnight.  Thanks for letting me stay.  I’m sorry for barging in on your time with Ethahhhn.  HahKishoo-Kishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo.  Fuck, that hurts.”  He complained, breathlessly.


“Bless you.  Let’s get your stuff first.  Then the pharmacy should have everything ready.”


Dustin pulled a tissue from his pocket and blew his nose.  “Sounds good to me.”  He directed Tim back to his house where he packed clothes, medication and his nebulizer machine.  After a trip to the pharmacy, they were at Ethan’s. 


part 2 to come

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a good one as always :)

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Tim saw the note from Ethan on the counter.

*Sheets are in the dryer.  Couldn’t fight the codeine anymore and had to take a nap.


Tim turned to Dustin.  “Ethan’s asleep. Sheets and blankets are in the dryer.  I’ll go check on them in a bit.   Why don’t you get comfortable on the couch.  Need anything?”


Dustin shook his head.  “Just need to put my stuff away.”  He coughed, heading off to stash his stuff in the guest room.  


He set his bag next to Tim’s and joined him in the living room.  “Thanks for letting me stay here,” he sniffled. “I know I’m cutting in in your time with Ethan.”


“No worries.” Tim reassured him.  “Have a seat…or did you want to sleep?”


“They gave me a steroid injection in urgent care.  I’ll be awake for awhile.”


“And Ethan will be be asleep for awhile.”  Tim laughed. 


Ahshoo.” They heard Ethan sneeze from the bedroom, then faint snoring a few seconds later.  


Tim shook his head.  “I’ll never understand how he’s able to do that.  I wake up sneezing, it takes me awhile to go back to sleep.”


“Same, but as much as E sneezes..”


“He seriously does sneeze all the time?


“All the time.  Try being in a dorm room with him during allergy season when you have a migraine. My own sneezing is bad enough, but add in his…”


Tim shook his head.  “Ugh…I can imagine.”  He sat down while Dustin blew his nose.  Dustin sat down next to him and Tim took a good look at him.  “You look like miserable.  Sure you don’t want to lay down?”


Dustin gave a small smile. “Between the cold from hell, the bronchitis, and my allergies,” he shook his head.  “This is awful.  And I’d rather stay up sitting right now.”


“Easier to breathe.”  Tim nodded, having been in that position.  “Did you eat this morning?”


Dustin shook his head.  “No time.”  


“What are you hungry for?”


Dustin looked at him.  “It’s ok.  I can wait until lunch.  I’m not really hungry.”


“You want a snack?”


Dustin thought about it.  “Maybe some toast.  I can make it.”  He started to get up from the couch but Tim stopped him.  


“Tell me what you want. You’re here so you can rest.”


“Just toast with jelly.  Whatever kind he has.”


“Light? Dark? Butter?”


“Medium, no butter.”


Tim headed into the kitchen to start the toast as he heard Dustin start sneezing.


HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo.”  There was a brief pause, and a second set.  “Hakishoo-kishoo-Kishoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…Hakishoo….owww.”


He entered with toast and water to Dustin blowing his nose.   “Bless you.” He told him as Dustin concluded tending to his nose.  


“Thanks.”  Dustin blew his nose again and looked at the small pile of tissues on the coffee table.   “Do you have something I can put these in?  You guys just had colds, and I don’t want to share this one.”

He took the toast from Tim as Tim ducked back into the kitchen for a bag and a glass of water for himself. 


Dustin threw the tissues in the bag and sighed.  “I feel like I could blow my nose forever and it wouldn’t do any good.”


“I hate those colds. Last time I had one, we were running the show, I was on headset, and so stuffed up I felt like I couldn’t breath.  I think they were just pretending to understand me.”


Dustin gave a laugh, which turned into a prolonged coughing fit.  


Hatchoo!”  Ethan came and sat down in his oversized chair, curling up in it.  “He ok?”


Dustin nodded, coughing starting to slow.  


“How are you doing?” Tim asked Ethan.  


“I can’t sleep anymore.  I think I’m slept out.   Otherwise, about the same.  Have a headache today.”




“In the DayQuil.”  Ethan shrugged.  “Maybe I can just not sneeze so much.”


Dustin glared at him.  “Don’t make me laugh right now.”


“What’s wrong with you?”


“Cold from hell, allergies led to asthmatic bronchitis.  You’re familiar with that cycle.”


Ethan nodded.  He’d been through this with Dustin more than a few times.  He looked over at Tim.  “I’ll run down and check the laundry.”  He got up, grabbed the clothes basket by the door and disappeared, only to return a few minutes later with clean sheets and blankets for Dustin.  


Tim grabbed the basket from Ethan when he returned.  “I’ll make the bed.  You’re supposed to be resting.”  He disappeared into the guest room and changed the bed.  “You want me to wash these right away?” He asked Ethan, regarding the bedding he had just stripped off the bed.


“No.  Just throw it in my room.”   And Tim noticed his  voice was hoarser than it had been that morning, if that was possible.  “I’ll get it when I do laundry.”  He coughed harshly into his sleeve.   Tim out the laundry in his room and returned with Ethan’s water bottle, something that had been a constant fixture with Ethan.


“You forgot this.”  He handed Ethan the water.


“Thanks.” Ethan’s voice sounded painful, and he took a long drink. 


“And you sound like shit.” He continued.   “You sounded better this morning.”


Ethan sighed.  “My mom called.  It was a long call.”  He left off the fact that it didn’t go well.   “It’ll come back.”  He took another drink of water.  “Do you want to get the cough drops from my room please?  I think Dustin could use them too.”


Tim nodded, disappearing again into Ethan’s room and grabbed the cough drops of Ethan’s nightstand.  He doled them out, sat down on the couch next to Dustin, then popped right back up again.  “Blankets.  Who wants a blanket?   Ethan, did you wash the one that was out here?  I don’t see it.”   


Ethan shook his head, raising his wrist up to his nose to catch another sneeze.  HahChoo!  I put it in with my dirty laundry. I didn’t want Dustin use it.  There’s more blankets in the closet.”   


Tim returned with two blankets.  He handed one to Dustin, who took it eagerly, wrapping his tall frame in it.  


He held Ethan’s out, and Ethan shook his head.  “Still warm.”   


Tim bent down and pressed his lips to Ethan’s temple.  “Still got that fever.  How bad?”


“Still hovering just below 100.”  Ethan sighed.   


“You’re always tough to break when you have a fever.” Dustin reminded him.  He looked at Tim.  “Fortunately, he doesn’t jump above 99 that often.”  Back to Ethan.  “Just remember, pneumonia, ear infection…you’re pretty sick.”  He coughed several times.


“So’re you.”  Ethan pointed out when he finished.  “I don’t know when I’ve seen you get this sick this fast.”


“Probably the year before I got m-mahhhriehhd…HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo……HahKishoo-Kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-Kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo.  He paused and coughed roughly into his damp sleeve.


“God bl-“


“M-more…”  Dustin managed to gasp, burying his face in his elbow again.  HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo”


Tim and Ethan exchanged concerned glances, Ethan having been through this before with Dustin and Tim with his own asthma.  Dustin’s sneezes were starting to have a tight, harsh, sound, as if he was having to force them out.   


“HahKishoo-kishoo-kshoo-Kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo.  Dustin straightened up, looking dazed, reached for a handful of tissues and attempted to take a deep breath to blow his nose.


They all heard the wheezing.  “Inhaler.”  Ethan told him.


Dustin shook his head, attempting another deep breath, being rewarded with a coughing spell.   He looked up and his eyes met Tim’s as he attempted a slow shallow breath.   


“I think nebulizer.”  Tim interjected.  “But try the inhaler while we get it set up.” He directed.   “It’s with your stuff?”


At Dustin’s nod, Ethan headed towards the bedroom.  “I know what I’m looking for.” He reassured Tim.  


He returned, seconds later, setting the machine on the coffee table, setting it up and plugging it in.   Tim poured the vial into the cup and handed it to Dustin who was sitting there, taking shallow breaths, wheezing audible to all.  


He took a deep breath of the mist and immediately coughed.  But tried again, staying focused on breathing in the medication that would open up his airway.  Then his phone rang.  


“Beth.”  He wheezed.  “Ethan, can you?”  He handed over the phone.


Tim and Dustin listened as Ethan reassured Beth that Dustin was ok, well, mostly ok, that Tim and Ethan, ok, mostly Tim were capable of taking care of him.  Dustin breathed in the nebulizer mist in the background and coughed, although the coughing was ceasing.  Not reassured, Beth made Ethan promise to have Dustin call her later, and ordered Ethan to rest.


“You gotta call her when you’re done.”  Ethan set the phone next to the tissues, taking one.  He fiddled with it for a couple seconds, then “Hatchoo!”  His head pitched forward into the tissue.  


Tim frowned, noticing that Ethan’s sneeze sounded harsher than this morning.  “Bless you.”  He fixed his gaze on Ethan.  


Ethan, for his part, pretended not to notice, focusing his attention on Dustin who was halfway through his breathing treatment and starting to breathe easier.  His eyes met Dustin’s, and they pleaded with him not to give details if his typical conversations with his mom.  


“Long chat with mom.”  Ethan managed casually.  “I did most of the talking.”


Coughing from Dustin drew their attention back to him.  “‘M fine.”  Dustin pulled the pipe away to awkwardly blow his nose one handededly.


“Lunch!” Ethan exclaimed, hopefully distracting Tim.  “I’ll make lunch while Dustin finishes up.   I need to eat.”  He all but ran into the kitchen to start making sandwiches.  


Tim shot Dustin a confused look.  Dustin just shrugged, taking another deep breath as the machine started to make the tell tale noise it was getting low on the liquid, and Dustin’s neb treatment was nearly over.  A few minutes later, smoke had stopped coming from the pipe and Dustin was breathing easier, 




Dustin nodded, disassembling the machine.   


Tim took a couple of the pieces.  “I’ll rinse these for you.”  He walked into the kitchen where Ethan was reheating a pot of soup.   Tim rinsed the nebulizer cup and pieces as Ethan stifled a cough into his sleeve.  Tim set the pieces on a paper towel. “I’ll take over.” He told Ethan, rubbing his back.  “Go get your blood sugar.”


Ethan nodded.  “How’s Dustin doing?” 


“He’s ok.  Wanna let him know we’re ready to eat?”  He took the pot off the stove and began dishing up the chicken soup.   


Only Tim had an appetite for lunch; Dustin managed his soup and picked at his sandwich while Ethan actually ate half a sandwich and finished his soup, better than he’d done for awhile.  He packaged up the other half of his sandwich for his snack later, and looked at Tim and Dustin.


“Naps.” Ordered Tim.  “Both of you.  Ethan shot him a look.  “Yes, you.   You sound worse.  I don’t want you relapsing.”  He softened.  “If you can get comfortable in the big chair in the living room, then you guys can nap in there; I’ll bring in a chair from in here, and we can find a movie.  


Dustin laughed and coughed.  “Ethan sleeps in that chair all the time.  And I can try to leave you the end of the couch.  And a nap sounds fantastic.”  He backed Tim up. 


Ethan made a face as Tim herded them to the living room and tucked them in with boxes of tissues.  


Edited by aggedy_ann

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I love that this is being continued :)

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This is incredibly cute 🥰

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. 😁

And more:

“I have to call Beth.”  Dustin remembered once they were all settled in with pillows, blankets, tissues and a movie.  He grabbed his phone off the coffee table and dialed.  “I’m sorry, baby, I forgot.”  He said when she answered.  “Ethan brought me in for lunch, and then Tim insisted on naps, and then I remembered.”… “I’m ok.   Sneezed too much at once, I guess.  Round of four, I almost never do that.”…”Asthmatic bronchitis plus the cold from hell plus my regular allergies.”…I know.  How are you and AdaLyn?”…” She did that last time we were there too; think it’s the cats and dog?”…”I was her age…we’ll deal with it next week, as long as she’s ok right now.  Sehehhcond…HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-Kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo. Nughh…excuse me.”…Yeah, I am…Tim did.  Ethan was doped up on codeine.  They both decided I should stay here overnight while I was being seen.  I’m gonna need to get picked up when you get back probably though…Around 7.  Ok.”…”I’ll see you tomorrow. Love you.”  He hung up his phone and snuggled back down on his pillow, yawning.   


“They didn’t get sick, did they?”  Ethan coughed.


Dustin shook his head.  “They’re ok.”  He cleared his throat.  “Beth can pick me up tomorrow evening around 7, if that’s ok.”


Ethan nodded.  “Ok. I mean, where am I going right now?”


“I work until around 7.” Tim explained.  “I need to go home after that and check on my cat, at least.”  He looked at Ethan.  “I’ll leave for work about 10 tomorrow.”


Ethan nodded.  “Don’t let me fall back to sleep before you leave.  I have to call and make a-“. He paused for a second. “Atchoo!  A doctor appointment.”  He blew his nose and coughed for several long seconds before taking a sip of water.   


“Bless you.” Dustin’s congestion was getting the better of him, and he propped himself up against the arm of the couch as he looked over at Ethan.  He shifted on the couch.


Tim stood up.  “I’m gonna grab a chair.  You need to be able to stretch out and be comfortable.”  Tim returned  with a kitchen chair and sat between the two.   


Dustin yawned and pulled the blanket up over his shoulder.  


Ethan tucked his legs under him in the chair, resting his head on the pillow, focusing on Tim.  “Gonna study while we sleep?” He asked, voice still hoarse.


“That’s my plan.”


“I won’t be awake long.”  Dustin yawned again. “I’m exhausted all of a sudden.”


“I’m not.”  Ethan sniffled.


“Try.” Tim urged.  “You sound like shit. Do you need more cough syrup?”


Ethan shook his head.   “I’m ok.  Really.  Just talked too much.” He insisted.




A well timed sneeze from Dustin, at least in Ethan’s opinion, kept Tim from asking questions.  “Bless you.” Ethan chirped before hastily cupping his hands over his nose.  Hahshoo!  Ugh…that one was contagious.”  


Tim shot him an amused look.  “That’s ridiculous.  You can’t cahahhahhshoo…” He brought his arm up to block the sneeze.  Heyyahhshoo!” Came the second one. “Can’t catch sneezes.” He finished lamely. 


“Bless you.”  Ethan shot him a worried glance, knowing that the frequency of Tim’s sneezes was next to none.  “You ok?”  The unspoken question if “I didn’t get you sick again?” Hung in the air.  


“Fine.”  Tim laughed.  “Maybe sneezes are contagious.  Never had that happen before.”  He laughed again.


“Happens to us all the time.”  Dustin explained. “Really annoying, actually.”


“It’s not that bad. Kind of funny when it happens, actually.”


“Not when you sneeze 7 or 8 times to your 1.” Dustin snapped, glaring at Ethan.  


Tim looked surprised by Dustin’s sudden change in personality, but Ethan took it in stride.   “Take your nap, Dustin.”

“I would if I could breathe.  I’m too stuffed up.  In case you couldn’t tell by listening.”  Dustin’s tone was harsh, and followed by several long, loud, futile nose blows.


“Can you take more Sudafed?”


“Not for an hour.” Dustin snapped again.


“Tea?  The steam sometimes clears your sinuses.”


Dustin shook his head, glaring.  


“I think you left some vapor rub here the last time I had a sinus infection.   Want that?  Tim, can you go check the medicine cabinet?”


“Don’t want it.” Dustin said, petulantly.  


“Then try to sleep sitting up.”  Dustin rolled his eyes; Ethan sighed, getting up.  He returned with a pillow, sticking it in a clean pillow case.  “Here, try this.  You’re gonna want the third pillow tonight anyway.”


Sighing, Dustin took it.  “I’ll try it.” He grumbled.   He propped himself up on the pillows, coughing.  


“Let me know if you need the other one from your room.” Ethan informed him.


“Why didn’t you just get it in the first place?” Dustin grouched.   


Ethan fixed him with a look Tim had never seen before and made a note he didn’t want to be in the receiving end of.  The look lasted about 2 seconds before Ethan doubled over with a rough sneeze.  Hatshoo!”


“Bless you.  Do you want me to get the other pillow?” Tim offered.


“That would be great.”  Ethan rasped, fumbling with a tissue and blowing his nose.


Tim returned with the pillow, handing it to Dustin.  “Thanks.” He mumbled sullenly, placing it under his head with the other two.


“Any better?”   Tim asked.


“Dustin sniffled.  “Maybe.” He admitted.  “Too soon to tell.”  He yawned. 


“Well, try and rest.”  Tim told him, returning to his spot between Dustin and Ethan.  “You need anything?” He asked Ethan.


Ethan shook his head.  “I’m good.”  


Tim noticed how painful his voice sounded after the interchange with Dustin…well, it had sounded painful before that, but…. “Your voice sounds like it really hurts.  How about some tea with just the tiniest bit of honey?”


Ethan smiled.  “Sure.” He coughed.  “Just a little bit.” He reminded Tim.  


Tim nodded.  “I think I’ve got it down how you make your tea after this weekend.” He grinned.  “I’ll be back in a couple minutes.”  He bent down and brushed Ethan’s usually perfect hair out of his eyes; Ethan hadn’t bothered with doing his hair that weekend.  “With tea and a thermometer.  Dustin, do you need anything?”


Dustin shook his head.  “I’m ok.” He said softly.  “Just gonna try to sleep.”   


Tim returned a few minutes later to find Dustin with his eyes closed, trying to sleep and Ethan staring blankly at the TV.   He swiped the thermometer across Ethan’s forehead as he handed him the tea.   “99.5. Holding steady.” He commented.  


“Yeah.”  Ethan took a sip of the tea.  “This feels good.” He smiled as Tim’s phone rang.  


“Mom.” Tim looked at his phone.  “I’ll take this in the kitchen.  You try to sleep.”  Tim instructed him, disappearing into the other room.

Edited by aggedy_ann
Autocorrect got me

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Mmmm, Poor guys.

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Here’s hoping I got all the autocorrect bugs out

and a short bit.   We’ve been having to isolate staff for COVID now (I live in a super rural area so just getting hit now) and I’ve been working a lot of hours.  Hoping to tie together the two fics this week.  😀🤞


Ethan sipped his tea as he overheard Tim laughing and talking with his mom.  He snuggled into the chair, sighing.  


20 minutes later, Tim was back.  “Sorry. I forgot she’d be calling.  We always talk on Sunday afternoons.  How was the tea?”


“Good.  Thanks for making it.” Ethan said softly, looking away.


“E?  You ok?”


Ethan nodded.  “F-fine.” He scrubbed fiercely at his nose, delaying the inevitable for a few seconds.  “I’m fine.”  He said, as his head dipped down a second later.  HehAHCHoo!” 


Tim startled at the sound, and the previously snoring Dustin’s eyes popped open.


Dustin spoke before Tim could offer a bless you.  “Dammit Ethan!” He growled. “Why do you always have to be so loud?” He snapped.


Ethan opened his mouth to respond, but Dustin continued.   “You always do this!” He yelled as much as his voice would allow.  “Every time I’m sick, the minute I fall asleep, you sneeze as loud as you can and wake me up!  Every. Single. Time.”


Ethan opened his mouth to protest and coughed instead.  A few seconds and a drink of water later, he was staring Dustin down.  “You know that’s not true.” He responded in a cold, steely, though raspy tone.  “You know I try to keep them quiet.   You know that’s not easy.  And you know know the more I try, the greater the chance a really loud one gets through.”  He sniffled and blew his nose.  “We’ve been through this every time you’ve gotten sick for over 20 years.  When is it going to sink in?”


“When you learn to be considerate.” Came Dustin’s congested retort, followed by several deep coughs.


Ethan sighed.  “I I try.  What more can I do?  You know I can’t stop them, stifle them or hold them back for more than a second or to.  Definitely not long enough to get very far away.  You’re being unreasonable.   You don’t feel well, and you’re being unreasonable.”  Again, he fixed Dustin with a steel eyed glare, this time to less effect.  


“I am not.”  Dustin snapped.


“Yes, you are.” Tim broke in.  “Ethan’s been sneezing quieter since you got here.  As someone who sneezes just as loud as he does, I don’t know how he’s doing it.  One slipped through.  Give him a break; he’s trying.”  He paused for Dustin to cough and take a drink of water.  “I know you’re fighting to breathe, and that’s hard.   And it makes everything seem a thousand times worse.  But, really, he’s not doing this to torment you.”


Dustin sat there, quiet, looking at the floor.   “Sorry.” He finally mumbled.  


“It’s ok.” Ethan reassured him, and Tim echoed his sentiments.   “I know you’re not used to being knocked down like this, especially not this quickly.”


Dustin nodded, raising a hand to his face.  HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-Kshoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo.”


“Bless you.”  Tim nudged the tissues closer to Dustin, and Ethan waited while Dustin blew his nose.


“It’s also gotta be hard to have Beth and Ada out of town while you’re sick and not be in your own bed.” Ethan continued.   


“And I know it typically sucks to be fighting to breathe and not be in your own bed.” Tim chipped in.


“But, you’re not going to do this.  You can be grouchy, but you are not going to jump on me for everything you don’t like.  And not on Tim either.   Understood?”


Dustin took a deep breath, which resulted in twenty seconds of coughing.  “Yeah.”  He managed, chastised, when he had caught his breath again.


“I know it’s been, what 4, 5 years since you were this sick; you’re used to colds that just slow you down…not knock you on your ass. Even if you do pick up everything the kid brings home from daycare…”


“She never brings home anything this bad.” Dustin wheezed.   


“Exactly.  This probably came from work where who knows what you were exposed to.  But, I’ve told you before, and I’ll keep telling you, being sick doesn’t mean you can be an ass.”  He pressed his small crumpled wad of tissues to his nose.  Atchoo!”


“Bless you.”  Tim looked at his watch.  “I think you could have some more cold medicine now.”  He stood up, and headed in the direction of the bathroom, returning a few minutes later with the aforementioned cold medicine, handing it to Ethan.   


Ethan finished blowing his nose, then took the pills from Tim and swallowed them.  “Thanks.” He sniffed, in his hoarse, stuffy voice.   


Tim gave him a soft, sympathetic look, then turned to Dustin.  “You need anything?”


Dustin shook his head.  “I’m alright.   Well, not alright, but you know what I mean.”   He pulled his inhaler out of his pocket, shook it then set it down.     “Not now.” He muttered, grabbing for a tissue.  “HahKishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kishoo-kshoo-kshoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo-shoo…HahKishoo.” He gave his nose a quick blow to clear it, then leaned against the couch gasping to catch his breath.


“Bless you.”  Tim handed him a few more tissues.  “You ok?”  


Dustin nodded, having caught his breath.  “Just time for this.” He said, turning away and using the inhaler.  “I’m just gonna go back to sleep.” He said, yawning; he curled back up against his pillows and pulled the blanket around him, tucking as much of himself under the throw as he comfortably could.


Tim looked over at Ethan.  “You.  Sleep.” He attempted to order.


Ethan shook his head.  “Just not tired.  Slept out.” He explained in a matter of fact tone.


Tim laughed, tucking a leg under him on his wooden chair.  “How am I supposed to study if you don’t sleep?”


Ethan shrugged.  “I could help you.” He coughed.


“What do you know about taxes?”


“I pay them.”  


Tim laughed.  “Oh?  And who does your forms?”


“I’ll have you know, Timothy Fitzpatrick, that I do my own taxes.” Ethan said, proudly.


A snore from Dustin interrupted their banter, and they looked over to see that he had fallen asleep.  


“Alright, alright.” Tim laughed.  “Got room in that chair for me?”


Tim and Ethan found their spots in the  oversized chair, with the smaller Ethan sitting half on Tim’s lap.   Tim opened his book and began to teach Ethan about the California tax law changes.


Hatchoo!”  Ethan muffled his sneeze into his pile of tissues and looked up and over at Dustin about half an hour later.  “He’s cold.” He said, and Tim looked up to see Dustin shivering.


“I’ll get him another blanket.”  Tim slipped out of the chair and headed towards the linen closet.   


“Get him a regular blanket.”  Ethan rasped after him.


Tim returned with a warm looking blanket, and placed it, folded double, over Dustin, then scanned his forehead with the thermometer.  “”101.” He reported to Ethan.  “Should I wake him to see if he can take Tylenol?”


Ethan shook his head.  “He hasn’t been asleep that long, and he isn’t very good with a fever.  He’ll rip your head off.  Let him wake up on his own.”


Tim nodded.  “I think he’s due for the decongestant, too.” He commented.


“He’s sleeping; he’ll be ok until he wakes up.”  Ethan let Tim back into the chair where he resumed “helping” Tim study and sneezing for the next two hours.  


Ahtshoo!”  Again, he attempted to muffle his sneeze into his wad of tissues.   He sniffled and blew his nose carefully.


“Bless you.” Came a drowsy voice from the couch.


“Thanks.  How long have you been awake?”


“Not long.  You two are cute.  Don’t quit your day job, E.”


“I can’t be an accountant?”


“No,” Tim laughed.  “Sorry.  But why don’t you go get a snack?  Dustin can grab some more medicine and join us.  And, we can figure out what I’m making you two for dinner.”

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Ooh! I liked this one a lot! (I mean, I like all of them a lot! But something about this one, with Dustin flipping a bit, abd then getting calmed down, really struck me.)

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So cute. Tim is the best for Ethan 

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thanks guys.  More coming now that I’m not a) working a zillion hours and b ) not sick as hell

Edited by aggedy_ann

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