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Near The Surface (Moon Knight, Steven)


Wolfwings22

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I’m still very much on my Moon Knight kick and thought that I would have a go with Steven again. I love both him and Marc in different ways since they are drastically different characters. I found this prompt and thought that it would work so well for Steven, especially since I could totally see him being really sensitive when sick since he seems to be a lot more sensitive than Marc in most things. It’s just a smaller story, but I hope that you guys enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

    Prompt—A is over-sensitive when they’re sick, and B doesn’t know this. B is confused when A starts crying over something that they wouldn’t normally be upset about.

 

 

 

    Layla has never been around Steven when he’s sick and she finds that he is super sensitive. She takes care of him even when Marc insists they can deal with it on their own.

 

 

 

 

 

    A ding came from the microwave and Layla didn’t hesitate to open the door and pull out the bag of popcorn. It burned her fingertips, but she was still able to transfer it to a large bowl she had waiting for it. Opening the top of the popcorn was a whole new set of issue, but she managed and eagerly carried it back to the couch where she and Steven were planning to watch a documentary on some ancient Egyptian deciphering of mythology. They both had decided that the chance it could be accurate was surprisingly slim, but it would be entertaining if nothing else to point out the discrepancies.

 

    “Thanks for inviting me,” Steven exclaimed as Layla came back into the room with the bowl of popcorn and two bottles of water.

 

    Layla waved him off. “Of course. Who else was I supposed to do this with? Marc?”

 

    ‘I would’ve,’ Marc flashed from inside Steven’s mind, seeming more sullen than usual.

 

    Steven offered an awkward smile. “He would’ve come if you asked. He just wouldn’t have payed it much mind.”

 

    When Marc didn’t automatically reply with a sharp comment, Steven could tell that he agreed with him. He didn’t have time to feel smug as Layla grabbed the TV remote and flipped to the correct channel. She placed the popcorn between them and passed Steven a water bottle. She took her own bottle in her hands and leaned forward, already inthralled in the opening sequence to set up the documentary.

 

    Ordinarily, Steven would’ve been the same. However, now it was difficult to focus on anything thanks to how much his nose seemed to be buzzing. It wasn’t quite enough to make anything happen besides annoy him. He kept trying to rub at it, and the more he rubbed, the redder it became. He still appreciated his good looks and attributed some of it to his nose, though right now he was afraid it was pulling far too much attention, even though it was just himself and Layla and no one else was around to comment on it. If anything he doubted Layla even noticed either.

 

    It was only a couple minutes later when Steven became aware of just how much his throat was hurting. Sure, it had been a little sore earlier, but he had drank some tea and then everything had been fine. This soreness was something a little different and he knew himself well enough to know that water would only make it worse. Ordinarily not drinking wouldn’t have been an issue, but today his body had other plans. A faint tickle worked its way down his throat and into his lungs and Steven couldn’t stop himself from coughing, though he did so into the crook of his arm, not wanting Layla to accidentally come into contact with his germs.

    

    Layla looked over hesitantly. “You alright?”

 

    Steven shot her a quick thumbs up. “Never better, love.”

 

    Layla narrowed her eyes, but said nothing. A low hum rolled in the back of her throat as she turned back to the documentary after shoveling a whole handful of popcorn into her mouth.

 

    Steven managed to control his coughing for the time being, though his lungs still ached with need.

 

    ‘Drink some water, man. It’ll help.’

 

    Steven tried not to grumble out loud as he answered Marc in his head. ‘No, it won’t. I know it’ll make it worse.’

 

    ‘How do you know that,’ Marc continued.

 

    “I just do,” Steven snapped.

 

    Layla, although not overly surprised when Steven would randomly start speaking out loud to Marc, couldn’t help but look over curiously. “Everything alright with you two?”

 

    “Yes, of course. That one’s just being a bit of a grumpy git right not.”

 

    ‘Not true,’ Marc exclaimed.

 

    Steven ignored him and pointed back to the TV. “Look at that bit. Bloody fascinating!”

 

    Layla turned her attention back on the TV. Her eyes glowed in amusement. “Only a total nerd would find the story of Bastet that fascinating, Steven. There are so many better folktales.”

 

    “Well, I do,” Steven flashed with conviction in his voice. “You shouldn’t call someone name for being interested in something, Layla. It’s quite rude!”

 

    Stunned, Layla’s jaw dropped and she went quiet. It was very rare for her to be stunned into silence as she always had something ready to say. This time was different, however, as Steven had never snapped at her. Marc definitely had, and they had experienced their fair share of screaming matches over the years. That never happened with Steven who was generally easygoing and didn’t enjoy confrontation in the slightest. He was calm and didn’t get upset easily, and even then he was more prone to talking about how he was feeling rather than snapping back. Something about this sent Layla on edge.

 

    Realization suddenly dawned on Steven and he drew back as though he had been struck. He retracted back with eyes round and unblinking, the breath caught in the back of his throat. “Oh, God, Layla, I-I’m so sorry. I didn’t....I shouldn’t....” Steven trailed off, unsure of what he could possibly say to make up for that. In his mind, nothing.

 

    Layla waved her hands to cut him off. “It’s alright. That was a little harsh. I only meant it as a tease.”

 

    “I know! It just....” Tears filled Steven’s eyes as he dropped his water bottle and lifted his knees into the couch, holding them tight as he pressed his face into his legs. “Shite, you arsehole!”

 

    It took Layla a moment to realize that Steven was talking about himself and not her. This night had certainly taken a turn that she hadn’t expected.

 

    “Steven, it’s alright,” she continued as she stretched out a hand and rested it on his arm. She ran her fingers down softly from his shoulder to his exposed arm, frowning when she felt the heat wafting off of him in waves. How hadn’t she realized that earlier? “Honey, you’re a little warm. I think you might have a fever.”

 

    Steven’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head. “No, I don’t.”

 

    Layla reached up her hand and palmed Steven’s forehead, brushing his unruly curls out of the way. Her hand then trailed down and she pressed the back of it on either cheek. “You’re definitely warm. Steven, are you feeling alright?”

 

    ‘Are we not feeling alright, Steven,’ Marc questioned, adding to Steven’s embarrassment due to the intensity of his tone.

 

    Steven was about to respond when he was forced to lift a finger in Layla’s direction to give him a minute as he lifted his opposite arm and ducked into it, as far away from Layla as possible.

 

    “IthchShew! ItchSHew! ItchSHew!” Steven momentarily paused and lifted his head a moment, eyes fluttering only to be forced to duck down once more. “ItchShew! ItchSHew! ItchSHew!

 

    “Bless you,” Layla exclaimed.

 

    “Thagnk you,” Steven mumbled as he lifted his head from the crook of his elbow and sniffled. It was only when he caught sight of Layla looking at him worriedly that he tenderly lifted the back of his hand to rub under his nose to find that it was running onto his upper lip. “I’b sorry.”

 

    Layla rose to her feet and looked around until her gaze landed on what she was looking for. She padded away while Steven continued to attempt to clean himself up, though he found himself only making it worse. How could he possibly have been that disgusting in front of Layla? Couldn’t he do anything right?

 

    Before Steven could make an even bigger mess, Layla returned with a box of tissues. Steven pulled a handful out and was about to thank her when the breath that he took was snatched away and he was forced to duck down once again into the tissues. “ItchShew! ItchSHew! ItchSHew!” He finished the small fit with a powerful blow that left him strangely winded. The sneezes had torn from his throat with a fierce vengeance, leaving it pulsating with pain that no amount of swallowing could solve.

 

    “Gesundheit,” Layla offered lamely. “You got anymore in there?”

 

    Steven blushed bright crimson and rubbed his nose dry, frustrated that it was still drippy. “Sorry, something must have tickled the old nozzle.”

 

    “Hmmm, I’m not so sure about that.” Layla leaned closer and Steven grew redder still, noting how Layla was looking at his eyes and cheeks as though they held the answers that she was after. He tried not to break her stare, but a sudden swallow had him wincing despite his best attempts to hide it.

 

    Unfortunately, Layla noticed everything. “Does swallowing hurt?”

 

    Steven shook his head adamantly. “No, of course not.”

 

    Layla hummed once more and pulled her phone from her back pocket. She shook it to activate the flashlight before holding it toward Steven as she leaned forward. “Open your mouth and say ‘ah’,” she instructed.

 

    Steven forced a laugh. “Little odd to be doing this, innit?”

 

    Layla stood her ground and Steven was left to remember about how stubborn she could be.

 

    ‘Just do it, man,’ Marc suggested, voice all the louder now that a headache was beginning to sprout behind Steven’s eyes. ‘Or she’s only going to keep insisting.’

 

    Steven opened his mouth wide as Layla shone the light into his mouth. She tilted her head as she moved the light slowly, frowning at the reddened throat that she was greeted with. “Alright, you can close.” She leaned back and brought her phone with her, the light shining briefly on the side of Steven’s face just enough for a sudden itch to blossom in his nose that he was barely able to bring up the collar of his shirt over his face to catch.

 

    “ITchSHew! ItchSHew! ItchSHew!”

 

    “Sorry,” Layla giggled as she nudged the tissue box closer. “Forgot that Marc has that little quirk.”

 

    Steven helped himself generously to a handful of tissues and blew his nose. “Marc’s what?”

 

    “Photic. You know, sneezes in response to bright lights. Usually it was the sun, which was hard to avoid in the desert, but sometimes bright artificial light can do it too. Flashlights, lamps, even lights from a club. I guess you have that same response,” Layla explained, phone tucked back protectively in her pocket.

 

    There was just something about realizing that there was something that Marc couldn’t control, something so utterly human that it left Steven grinning. Sure, he may have the same issue it seemed, but he could bet that Marc was more frustrated about it than he was. A tough mercenary that sneezes in response to bright lights was priceless in Steven’s eyes.

 

    ‘It’s not that funny,’ Marc growled in Steven’s head.

 

    “It is a little, mate.”

 

    “Tell Marc not to be so uptight about it. Not like I ever told anyone,” Layla pointed out as she leaned back on the couch with a small yawn.

 

    Steven was about to relay the message, despite Marc being able to hear, when a sudden cough had him fumbling for his bottle of water. He knew it would burn, though it didn’t matter considering that the alternative was waiting it out, which seemed like a horrible idea if he was being honest.

 

    The bottle was forcibly shoved into his hands and Steven squinted a watery eye open to realize that Layla had already opened the cap and had passed the bottle to him. Steven could only nod his thanks as he brought it up to his mouth and gulped down half the room temperature liquid. The coolness of the water aggravated his sore throat, though it was better than nothing. He would take the slight discomfort if it meant he finally stopped coughing.

 

    “What were you saying about you not being sick,” Layla questioned pointedly, one eyebrow raised curiously.

 

    Steven gave a dejected sniffle. “Perhaps I was wrong.”

 

    “Perhaps?” Layla dropped it and snaked her fingers through Steven’s head, giving his scalp a few scratches. “I’m guessing it has something to do with how you reacted earlier to that joke. I guess you get sensitive when you get sick.”

 

    Steven could feel Marc tensing in their mind, wanting to fight back despite what Layla said having been directed at Steven and not himself. However, Steven knew how proud Marc was, and even if someone said something about Steven, he would internalize it and fight it. Steven didn’t understand why sensitivity was seen as something that men shouldn’t possess, but he could tell exactly what Marc thought about it.

 

    “It seems I am,” Steven replied graciously. He lifted his wrist and ran it under his nose, pausing when he remembered he had tissues that would be much more sanitary. Bashfully he grabbed another handful and rubbed and squeezed at his nose, avoiding blowing as the skin around his nostrils was beginning to peel already. “I should probably cut this time short so you don’t catch this from me. Real bugger it is.”

 

    Layla rolled her eyes. “And go back to that drafty apartment that is 20 degrees colder than it should be? Why don’t you just stay here until you’re feeling better? I’m sure it would be a lot more comfortable.”

 

    ‘Don’t do it. Being around people when you’re sick makes you feel like a burden. Trust me on this one.’

 

    “I don’t think Layla thinks we’re a burden.”

 

    ‘Dude, what’s with saying all this out loud?!

 

    Layla blinked her eyes in surprise. “What is Marc telling you? I never have thought of either of you as a burden, sick or not,” she pointed out sternly. Her eyes drifted in an attempt to meet Steven’s gaze, though Steven was willing to bet she was searching for Marc at the moment.

 

    Steven wasn’t given much time to think as he ducked his head under the collar of his shirt once more, hand firmly cupped around his collar to hold it steady. “ItchSHew! ItchShew! ItchSHew! ItchSHEw! Bloody hell,” he huffed, bringing his collar down and replacing it with a handful of tissues.

 

    If Layla had been on the fence before, she certainly wasn’t now. She stood up from the couch, taking her bottle of water and the popcorn bowl with her. She set them down on the coffee table before grabbing the blanket that was draped on the back of the couch and draped it around Steven’s shoulders. Steven didn’t hesitate to wrap it tightly around his shoulders, the tissue box still rested on his thighs.

 

    “We can still finish the documentary if you’d like,” she offered. “I won’t even tease you anymore about it.”

 

    Steven ducked his head in embarrassment. “That was all me, love. It wasn’t your fault.”

 

    Layla smiled and sat back down beside him on the couch. “Do you want any cold medicine? I think I have some left over from the last time I was sick.”

 

    Steven was about to agree when he felt Marc seem to stiffen in his mind. Sure, he could make decisions without Marc just fine, but if his alter was reacting that harshly to things now, Steven didn’t even want to think what may happen if he actually took it. He may not need Marc’s permission to do anything when he was in control of the body, but that didn’t mean that he wanted to take anything that would cause Marc this much discomfort at the mere mention of it.

 

    “Thanks, but I’ll manage. Just need a bit of a kip.”

 

    Layla nodded and scooted to one side of the couch. She patted her legs and motioned with her head for Steven to scoot closer. “C’mere.”

 

    Steven thought about refusing, only to realize how rude that may seem. He shimmied down until he was laying horizontal with his head in Layla’s lap. At first he was certain this wouldn’t be a comfortable position in the slightest to even try to doze off in. Although, that changed as Layla carded her fingers through his hair once again, kneading at his scalp just enough that it helped ease his headache instead of adding to it.

 

    “M’feels nice.”

 

    “So I’ve been told. My head scratches are legendary.”

 

    Steven didn’t doubt that in the slightest. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone had taken care of him when he was sick. Perhaps that could mean that no one ever had, which was a dark thought when Steven pondered it. None of that mattered anymore, however, as now he had someone that would look after not just him, but Marc as well.

 

    “I may fall asleep,” Steven warned, voice already becoming thick with exhaustion.

 

    “I’m counting on it actually. Just make sure that Marc doesn’t get stubborn enough to convince you to leave. He prefers to deal with sickness alone.”

 

    “That doesn’t sound particularly healthy to me.”

 

    ‘Who’s side are you on here?

 

    Steven ignored him as Layla chuckled. “It doesn’t, does it?” He gave a deep cough into his raised fist, shifting slightly to make himself more comfortable. “Sorry.”

    

    “You don’t need to keep apologizing,” Layla gently chastised, fingers slipping down the back of Steven’s neck and giving it a small squeeze. “It’s alright to ask for help sometimes.”

 

    Steven felt a warmth settle through him and he felt himself instinctively relaxing against her. His eyes felt heavy and even though the documentary was very interesting, he was tired.

 

    Try as he might to stay away, he let out a final yawn before snuggling more against Layla. His nose was still clogged and he constantly felt the need to cough, but having her beside him, someone that really cared for him, was enough to lull Steven to sleep.

    

    The End

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