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The Silence That Binds You (Top Gun, Rooster)


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I’m back with another Top Gun story. I’ve been having a lot of medical issues recently that has taken up a lot of my time, but writing has always been the way that I’ve cleared my head and hopefully share something that others will like to brighten their day. So, this is one of those stories with heavy angst, but also a lot of Maverick taking care of Rooster, which always makes me happy, so I hope it does the same for all of you! It’ll be two parts and I should be able to post the second part later this week.



Rooster ends up pushing himself too much and tries to hide how sick he is from Maverick. However, Maverick has been taking care of Rooster for decades, and he’s going to do the same now to make sure that he gets better.




    Rooster had never been more relieved to land his jet on the runway. His entire body ached and his throat was on fire. He had still managed to complete Maverick’s metaphorical obstacle course and had even done so faster than Hangman, though Phoenix had taken the first spot. That was fine by Rooster; all he wanted to do now was go home and bury under the covers for the conceivable future.


    Rooster popped the canopy up and stood, surprised at how momentarily dizzy that he was. He managed to catch himself before he fell, though jumping down proved to be a struggle as he landed and instinctively reached forward to use the jet to steady himself on his feet.


    ‘What the fuck,’ Rooster thought as he swallowed thickly, pain radiating down his neck.


    “Hey, Rooster!” Rooster spun around to see Hangman coming over. He stood rigid as Hangman socked his shoulder good naturally. “I’ll beat you next time. Don’t think that just because you got lucky that I was stuck behind Coyote that you’re the best at this.”


    “Wa—sn’t the pl—n.”


    Hangman fixed him with a confused look. “What?”


    Rooster opened his mouth to speak only to double over coughing, a hand raised to his mouth to cover so that he didn’t cough on Hangman.


    “Dude, you okay?” Hangman instinctively went behind him and patted on his back, unsure if it was really helping or not, but this is what people in movies did when someone was coughing like that.


    Rooster gave him a weak thumbs up as he continued coughing, the crook of his arm substituting his fist for better cover.


    “Hey, Mav,” Hangman called over his shoulder, alerting the rest of the class to Rooster’s struggle. “Maverick!”


    Maverick rose to his feet from where he had crouched beside his jet to check the wheels. He was halfway across the tarmac in no time flat upon hearing the fear in Hangman’s voice. His pace only quickened when he saw Rooster struggling, doubled over with Hangman still feebly trying to rub his back.


    “Roo?” Maverick ground to a halt as he came up beside Rooster. He wrapped an arm around his waist and urged him to stand up straight. The coughing tampered down, though it didn’t stop entirely.


    Maverick rested a hand on Rooster’s forehead before migrating to his cheeks and the back of his neck. “You’re warm.”


    “Al-wys r-u-u-un h—t.”


    “And your voice is almost completely shot.” Maverick frowned deeply before looping his arm around Rooster’s and tugged him forward. “Hangman, tell the class that we’re done for today. I’m going to take Rooster to the infirmary.”


    Hangman nodded as he watched them go, Maverick trying to help keep Rooster upright while Rooster did everything in his power not to lean on Maverick.


    “Why didn’t you tell me you felt this sick before our exercise,” Maverick chided, though there was no real anger behind his voice.


    “Dn’t f—l that b-b—d.” Rooster winced and began to cough again, each exhausted ache sending daggers raking down his throat and making it impossible to focus on anything else.


    Maverick quieted him easily and shook his head gravely. Rooster was just like his father alright: stubborn, determined, and sometimes foolish when it came to his own health.


    “You should never fly unless you’re feeling 100%. You’re putting your life and the lives of your squadron in danger when you do this like this.” Maverick couldn’t help but give a violent shudder. “Trust me.”


    Rooster didn’t question Maverick further. Instead he focused on putting one foot in front of the other while ignoring the pain in his throat. He could feel phlegm rising in the back of his throat, but he didn’t dare cough and risk setting off a chain reaction. That was something he had been struggling with for a couple days now, but it had only gotten worse when he woke up that morning.


    The two headed down the base until they made it to the infirmary. Rooster was half expecting Maverick to drop him off there and tell him to go home and get some rest when he was done, but to his surprise, Maverick walked right in after him, not leaving his side even when Rooster tried to pull away.


    A nurse greeted them and pointed to the nearest bed. “Take a seat and we’ll be right with you.”


    Maverick dipped his head and nudged Rooster forward, who was struggling with another coughing fit that he was directing into his raised shoulder. His body shuddered with each hack, the pain that washed over him difficult to tolerate.


    Rooster was too busy coughing that he didn’t realize that Maverick had left his side. He came back a moment later with a bottle of water and handed it over.


    Water wasn’t exactly Rooster’s favorite thing to drink when sick as it only served to aggravate his throat further. However, Maverick had gone through the trouble to get it for him, and he was certain that Maverick wasn’t about to let him do anything else until he drank at least some of it.


    Rooster swiped the bottle from Maverick and downed a quarter of it until he could no longer tolerate it on his throat. He set it aside and rubbed a hand upwards against his nose, sniffling.


    Maverick was on his feet once more, seeming to scouring the entire infirmary before coming back with a box of tissues. They were the thin and scratchy ones that felt more like sandpaper than tissues, but they were better than nothing.


    Rooster reluctantly took a handful and brought them to his nose to blow. He paused briefly as he brought them down, a small tickle turning into a furious itch in no time flat. His head tipped back, mouth slightly open as he wanted for the feeling to manifest itself. He didn’t have to wait long.


    “Hish’huu! Hisch’huu! Hicsh’huu!” Rooster gave a brief pause and squinted up at the overhead light, the itch still plaguing him.


    Meanwhile, Maverick switched out his handful of tissues for clean ones. Rooster was about to thank him only to duck back down, entire body jackknifing forward.


    “Hish’huu! ‘Hiscsh’Huu!”


    “Bless you,” Maverick offered as Rooster blew his nose, grimacing at how it aggravated his throat and sinuses.


    Rooster threw the tissues away, still sniffling. “Th—nks.” He swallowed hard, brow furrowed.


    The two didn’t have to wait long until an older doctor walked over, lab coat stark white against his naval uniform. “Name?”


    “Bradshaw,” Maverick answered for him. Rooster shot him a look while the doctor looked on in confusion. “He’s lost his voice. It’s painful for him to talk.”


    The doctor hummed to himself as he came over in front of Rooster and lifted both hands to his neck. He pressed on his lymph nodes, then the front. Rooster winced and pulled away despite his best attempts to stay still, a panicked look crossing his face.


    “Hmmmm.” The doctor lifted a pen light from his pocket. “Open your mouth as wide as you can. I need to get a look at your throat.”


    Rooster reluctantly did as the doctor ordered, mouth open and tongue stretched out so that he could get a better look at his throat. He was well aware of Maverick stealing a glance as well, and the look that passed over the older man’s face was enough to have Rooster shivering.


    The doctor turned off his penlight and grabbed the intake form on a clipboard that he had brought. “I’ll have one of the nurses do a strep test, but based on the swollen tonsils and those whiteish patches, I’m willing to bet anything that it’s strep.”


    “Is that serious,” Maverick questioned.


    The doctor shook his head. “No, not for someone as young and healthy as him. It’ll clear up in a week or so with a course of antibiotics, but make sure you take all of them.”


    Rooster looked at the doctor with congestion induced confusion, mouth gaping open in an attempt to breathe.


    Maverick was quick to nod to the doctor. “I’ll make sure that he does.”


    The doctor looked curiously from Rooster to Maverick, clearly trying to figure out their relationship. He gave up rather quickly and closed the chart on the clipboard. “Hang tight for that test and the prescription and then you can be on your way. I’m excusing you from duty until you have been fever free for 24 hours and no longer are contagious.”


    Rooster wasn’t quite sure what the second part meant, but he didn’t comment on it. Instead he was forced to grab another handful of tissues and press them against the lower half of his face. “Hish’huu!” Rooster’s eyes widened in pain as he fought another, tongue pressing desperately against the roof of his mouth and eyes blinking rapidly. “Hish’Shuu! Hish’huu! Hitcsh’Shuu!”


    “Bless you,” Maverick offered as he reached out a hand and grasped his shoulder, giving it a few reassuring squeezes. He watched the way that Rooster blinked his watery eyes and frowned. “That hurt?”


    Rooster shot him a sideways glance. “Dno.”


    Maverick didn’t call him out on it, mostly because Rooster was lifting the tissues to his face once again. “Hish’Shuu! Hish’huu! Hisch’Shuu!” Rooster coughed to clear his throat before blowing his nose nearly a dozen times with numerous rounds of tissues before he could even think of breathing through his nose again. “Fuck.”


    “Hope whatever this is doesn’t turn into a sinus infection with the way you’re sneezing like that,” Maverick commented, eyes narrowed.


    Rooster shivered as he remembered his last sinus infection. He had foolishly still pushed through it and had even flown with it, which was a mistake he would absolutely never make again as that had been one of the most painful things he had ever experienced. The way that his sinuses had swelled and the pressure in his head had reached a peak had forced Rooster to land and be on bed rest for a week, crying into his pillow and begging for relief. It was horrible and something that Rooster never ever wanted to repeat.


    Maverick nudged Rooster as a nurse came over with a long swab.


    Horror stretched across Rooster’s face as he tried to leap to his feet, only for Maverick to intercept him and place his open palms on his shoulders to force him back down. “Relax,” Maverick whispered. “It’ll be over in a few second.”


    “It may be a little painful, but I need a sample,” the nurse explained, her voice soft and compassionate.


    Rooster looked pleadingly up to Maverick, mouth opening though no sound came out.


    “You heard her. Just a couple seconds.”


    Although still clearly reluctant, Rooster knew a loosing battle when he saw one. His head bowed as he reluctantly opened his mouth while his heart beat madly in his chest. His fingers curled around the edge of the bed until his nail nearly split through the padded sides. Maverick stayed by his side with a hand on his shoulder, willing the same calmness that he felt to translate to Rooster.


    Rooster took in a trembling breath as the nurse inserted the swab and scraped the back of his throat.


    Almost immediately Rooster began to gag, fearful that he was about to throw up. He ripped his head to the side as the nurse removed the swab. Rooster began to cough, both hands coming up to cup over his face to block the nurse from his coughs.


    “I’ll have the results in a couple minutes. Until then.....” The nurse lifted a mask that she held in her opposite hand and handed it over to Maverick. “Have him wear this. Strep is extremely contagious and we don’t want it to be catching.”


    Maverick wanted to point out that Rooster had been around dozens of people so far that day, but he refrained. He merely nodded and handed the mask to Rooster when he finally stopped coughing.


    Rooster placed it on and adjusted it behind his ears before looking up to Maverick. “Hur—ts.”


    “I can tell. I thought you were about to jump off the table.” Maverick couldn’t help but laugh as he nudged Rooster lightly. “Strep isn’t too terrible. I bet your throat hurts a lot right now.”


    Rooster nodded slowly, still sniffling.


    Maverick frowned at how pathetic Rooster looked. With the mask on he seemed so much younger, with haunted eyes and exhausted limbs. He didn’t look like one of the best aviators the Navy had to offer; he looked like a scared kid that didn’t feel well and needed some comfort.


    Despite knowing that there were probably people looking, Maverick couldn’t stop himself from sitting down beside Rooster and wrapping his arms around Rooster’s middle and pulled him closer.


    Rooster momentarily fought him until he realized that it was Maverick that was trying to move him.


    “C’mere, Roo. You’re shaking.”


    Rooster let out a soft cough inside the mask before finding himself automatically tipping over to rest his head on Maverick’s shoulder. Although he hadn’t done this in decades, it somehow felt familiar. The feel of Maverick’s breathing mixed with the low rumble of his voice was enough to soothe Rooster in ways that neither of them could fully comprehend. Maverick had been and always would be his safe place, no matter what was going on. Maverick had raised him, and despite their rocky past, Rooster was doing everything in his power to try and make up for lost time.


    “That’s it,” Maverick praised with his head bowed, speaking so softly that no one else would be able to hear. “You’re safe, Baby Goose. I promise I’m going to take good care of you until you feel better. You’re not going to be alone.”


    Another congested filled cough had Rooster shaking, nearly gasping for breath. Maverick held him steady through all of it, strength never waning.


    Rooster tried to mumble something, but Maverick didn’t quite hear.


    “What was that?”




    Maverick tipped his head. “What was that?”


    “Wa—nt Ic—man.”


    Despite the broken quality to his speech, Maverick would recognize that name anywhere, even with some parts in the middle missing. A fresh wave of grief washed over him as he felt his stomach churn.


    “Ice isn’t here anymore, little one. Remember?” Maverick found his throat growing thick with emotion, so much so that he completely forgotten about the nickname of what he used to call Rooster when he was still small. He hadn’t called him that in decades, yet with Rooster being so sick and out of it, things just felt right. Maverick doubted that Rooster would call him on it, and it may even bring him enough comfort in the moment to help him relax.


    “I—ce.” Rooster let out a fierce cough, face screwed up in discomfort.


    Maverick lifted a hand to rub at his chest, relieved when Rooster’s muscles released the tension they had been holding. “I miss him too.”


    “Wa—sn’t....t-t—here. I wa—sn’t.”


    It took Maverick a moment to realize what Rooster was saying, and once he did, a newfound pain worked its way through him. There was nothing he could do to take that pain from Rooster, no matter how much he wanted to.


    The two didn’t have to wait long for the nurse to arrive back with a pamphlet and the antibiotics the doctor had prescribed. “Strep came back positive, I’m afraid. Make sure he drinks plenty of fluids and try to help him cough up the mucus in his lungs instead of swallowing it. It may bring on a very high fever, but the pamphlet gives you numerous ways to lower it.” She handed the paper and blister pack of antibiotics over to Maverick before nodding to the still fever induced confused Rooster patiently.


    “Thanks for everything.” Maverick then turned his full attention back to Rooster. “Now let’s get you home.”


    To Be Continued....

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On 11/16/2022 at 8:02 PM, Mygyn said:

😭 this was amazing to read!!!! Poor baby Roo missing Ice 😭 and poor Mav having to take care of Roo

I’m so glad that you liked it! I knew that having Rooster miss Ice like that would be a little sad but I definitely had to include it. Thanks so much for reading!


10 hours ago, spn27695 said:

Ahhh so sweet. I love Mav taking on the Dad role

I do too! He just makes such a good Dad and I love all the Rooster and Mav fluff that I can write since I just can’t get enough of it. Thanks for reading and commenting!



This’ll be just another chapter and I may continue this story, but I’m not quite sure yet. It’ll depend on if I can think of how to go further with it. I hope you all enjoy!








    The drive back to Maverick’s place was relatively smooth as Rooster dozed off almost the entire way. He would periodically wake up and mumble something incoherent before slipping back into unconsciousness. Maverick kept the heat on full blast despite how hot he was getting. He had already opened the window so that he could steal a few greedy gulps of fresh air, though he wouldn’t dare risk Rooster’s own comfort for himself.


    When they finally made it to Maverick’s house, he was quick to pull into his driveway and turn off the car. He turned to face Rooster, who was still asleep with his mouth gaped open and head craned at an awkward angle.


    “Oh, Roo.” Maverick reached out and threaded his fingers through Rooster’s hair and brushed it back, grimacing at how sweaty Rooster was. He was also still shivering, which told Maverick that this fever was about to be a rough one, no matter how much he would’ve hoped for that to be one symptom of strep that he was hoping that Rooster could avoid.


    Maverick continued rubbing his fingers through Rooster’s hair until Rooster finally opened his eyes, however slowly. He sobered quickly, turning to the side to cough so harshly that Maverick was convinced he was going to be sick.


    When Rooster finally calmed, he looked back to Maverick while rubbing his palm harshly against one of his eyes. “N—t m-m-my ho—use.”


    “Nope, it’s mine,” Maverick announced. “You’re going to be staying with me for a few days until you kick this. Sure don’t trust you to take it easy on your own.”


    Rooster opened his mouth to argue only to cough into the back of his hand, shoulders quaking with each frantic breath.


    Maverick was quick to rub at his back, hoping that would soothe the coughs. Rooster managed to stop coughing momentarily, eyes hazy and body still shivering thanks to the fit.


    “We better get you inside and medicated.” Truthfully that cough was beginning to worry him. He knew what the doctor and nurses had said about strep and a possible head cold on top of it, but that didn’t do anything to soothe his thoughts. When it came to Rooster he would always worry; that’s what fathers do.


    Rooster swung the car door open and stepped out, left arm reaching back around the seat to steady himself before he fell. His head gave a few frantic shakes before he started forward, one unsteady foot after the other.


    Maverick was at his side in no time, not touching him, though he was close enough to steady Rooster if need be. He kept his gaze steady as they headed forward, Rooster pausing periodically as he fought to catch his breath.


    How Rooster could fly in his condition, Maverick would never know. He could only assume that he was just fighting it until the final straw sent him crumbling down.


    When they made it to the door, Maverick unlocked it and Rooster stumbled in, coughing wetly into his forearm.


    “You know where the bathroom is. Go ahead and take a shower and I’ll put a change of clothes right outside the door for you. You think you can do that?”


    Rooster shot him an aggravated glance, to which Maverick couldn’t help but laugh. “Just thought I’d ask.”


    Rooster rolled his eyes as he set forward, movements sluggish and lumbering.


    Maverick didn’t know the last time that the had seen Rooster so unsteady. Then again, until a couple months ago he hadn’t exactly seen Rooster regularly either. He followed his career and stole glances if they were on the same base as best he could, though none of that could make up for having him beside him.


    It took all of Maverick’s strength not to think back to what they had lost and force himself to focus on the present. Rooster was here now and needed someone to look after him, to which Maverick would do in a heartbeat. Dwelling on the past would accomplish them nothing besides the pain that Maverick so desperately was trying to forget.


    Maverick broke out of his own head long enough to walk into the guest bedroom (that was honestly just considered Rooster’s at this point) and open a drawer. He grabbed a sweatpants and a plain t-shirt with some text that was so faded that one couldn’t even read what was there anymore. Still, Maverick knew that it was one of Rooster’s favorites, one that he clung to whenever he was feeling disconnected and grief stricken. Rooster had never told him that, but Maverick always knew that whenever he came home to find Rooster wearing it around the house, that something hadn’t gone according to plan.


    Clothes in hand, Maverick set them right outside the door, ready to head back to the kitchen to heat up some soup when he heard congested filled coughs from inside the bathroom.


    “You alright in there, kid?”


    Maverick received no answer until he heard the sound of gagging. His heart plummeted in his chest as he tried the handle, finding it unlocked. “I’m heading in, Rooster, alright?”


    Maverick waited for an answer, but when he received none, he couldn’t stop himself from pushing the door open.


    There he found Rooster with a towel tied around his waist, crouched in front of the toilet as he gagged while the shower continued to run behind him.


    Maverick rushed to action and immediately turned off the shower and hit the fan before crouching besides Rooster and resting a hand on his back. Rooster flinched at the touch, which had Maverick frowning in concern.


    “It’s alright. It’s okay. Just let it out,” Maverick reassured, feeling the tension in Rooster’s back as he hacked once more.


    Rooster groaned with his head tipped back ever so slightly. “M—av?”


    “Right here, kiddo. You okay?”


    Rooster shook his head before bringing his hand to touch his throat, then his stomach.


    “I think I have heard that strep can come with nausea and vomiting, as if the sore throat and fever weren’t enough.” Maverick stood slowly, only for Rooster to reach back in alarm. “Hey, hey, I’m only going to the sink to get you some water to rinse your mouth. Not even two steps.”


    Rooster began to ease his death grip on Maverick’s leg, eyes hazy and unfocused as he did so. It was clear that exhaustion was taking over his logical thinking, no matter how much he tried to fight it.


    That gave Maverick a little time to fill a small plastic cup with water and hand it over to Rooster before crouching down beside him and instructing him to take a sip.


    Rooster did as Maverick told him and rinsed his mouth out before spitting in the toilet. Maverick flushed the toilet for him and helped him to his feet. Maverick then grabbed the change of clothes and handed them over. “Do you need help?”


    Rooster made a face, and Maverick took that as a sign that his assistance had been appreciated, but now was at an end.


    “I’ll be in the kitchen when you’re done.” Maverick stood to his full height and padded from the bathroom, hoping that Rooster was steady enough to get dressed on his own. He wouldn’t push him to help, though Maverick couldn’t help but feel a little worried at how unsteady Rooster was and how quickly it had taken over.


    ‘He’s probably been trying to ignore it for days,’ Maverick thought to himself. ‘He’s too tired to fight it now.


    Maverick shook his head to clear it until he felt a comforting presence beside him. He didn’t need to look around to know who it was, or at least who he always thought was there whenever he felt like this.


    “I’m going to take care of him, Goose,” Maverick whispered as he kneeled in his kitchen and pulled out a pot from one of the lower cabinets. “He’ll be safe with me, I promise.”


    Maverick received no answer, and he never expected to. He merely got to work heating up some chicken soup from a can that he had at the back of the pantry. It certainly wasn’t going to be a delicious meal or anything, but he was hoping to get Rooster to have at least a little of it.


    By the time the soup was warmed enough, Rooster shuffled in, hands in his sweatpants pockets and hair sticking up at all angles. His nose was red from no doubt all the rubbing while he breathed through his partially opened mouth. Dark bags clung under his eyes, making him look much older than he was.


    “Damn, kid, you look like shit.”


    Rooster shot him an agitated look, to which Maverick couldn’t help but roll his eyes in amusement. “It’s not like anyone is going to see you here. You can be as sick as you need to here.”


    Rooster didn’t appear to believe him, but his throat certainly hurt too much for him to call Maverick out on it. Instead, he hung his head and slumped over the counter, bringing the stool around for him to sit down. He then rested his head on his crossed elbows, back rising with a long sigh.


    “You can sleep just as soon as you’ve eaten and taken your first antibiotic,” Maverick told him as he ladled the soup into a bowl before bringing it over to Rooster and nudging him with it until Rooster finally lifted his head. “You have some of that, and if you finish it I might just have some lemon cough drops.”


    Interest immediately sparked in Rooster’s gaze once he lifted his head eagerly.


    “You think that I could forget how much you like those?” Maverick pointed at the soup. “Eat that first. I want to see it at least half gone.”


    Although clearly reluctant, Rooster grabbed the spoon and brought a mouthful of soup up to his lips, swallowing it down with a grimace. He could hardly taste any of the flavor, but the liquid grazing his red and inflamed throat was torture. Tears leapt into Rooster’s eyes as he fought to keep taking bites, knowing full well that Maverick wouldn’t force him to do so, but not wanting to see the worried look Maverick got in his eyes when Rooster wasn’t able to do something because of pain or discomfort.


    When he had managed half the bowl, he pushed it aside, nose wrinkling at the slight nausea that he was feeling. Realistically he knew that he wasn’t going to be sick, but just the mere thought of it was enough to unsettle him ever so slightly.


    Rooster didn’t have to wait long for Maverick to come back with a whole bag of them. His mouth began to water at the sight, able to taste the sweet lemony flavor before he even popped one into his mouth.


    Maverick handed him one, watching as he popped it into his mouth, eyes closing in bliss. It certainly wasn’t a cure all, not even close, but it was at least something that brought Rooster comfort if nothing else.




    Rooster nodded.


    “How about you get into bed and I’ll bring your antibiotic and some cough medicine? Anything else you think you’ll need?”


    Rooster pondered it for a moment, and Maverick could tell that he wanted to say something, but instead he remained quiet and shook his head.


    Maverick bit his lower lip but said nothing, knowing that pushing Rooster in this state would get him nowhere. He would dig his heels in and be far from cooperative, which was the last thing that Maverick wanted or needed.


    Instead, Maverick took the bowl. “Alright, as long as you’re sure.”


    Rooster didn’t reply as he pushed himself away from the counter and shuffled down the hallway, coughing wetly as he left.


    Maverick stifled a sigh and carried to bowl to the sink, setting it inside and rinsing it out so that it could be easily washed later. He then fell into caretaker mode and opened the box of Rooster’s antibiotic to select the first pill. Dread rose inside of him at seeing just how large it was. How someone could swallow that easily, Maverick wasn’t sure. He hated the idea of it getting lodged in Rooster’s throat, so he took a knife from the cutlery board and easily cut it in half. Rooster may protest to having to take both halves, but Maverick reasoned it was better than him choking on it.


    He grabbed a bottle of water and a few extra lemon cough drops as well as the antibiotic and headed into Rooster’s room.


    There he found Rooster already buried under the covers, blankets lifting intermittently in time with his breathing. Maverick could hear just how congested he was, and he wanted nothing more than to be able to take that away from his kid. However, there wasn’t much that he could do.


    “Promise this’ll be the last time that I bother you.” Maverick crept closer, making his presence known so not to startle Rooster.


    Rooster hardly opened an eye as he coughed into the sheets.


    Maverick came over and sat down on the edge of the bed beside him. He reached into the covers and ran his fingers through Rooster’s hair, sweat clinging to his skin. Maverick didn’t care; he just hated how sick Rooster was.


    “Split the antibiotic in two for you. Thought it may be easier on you to swallow.” Maverick produced the pills as well as the lemon cough drops. “You can have another if you take them.”


    Rooster cocked an eyebrow in Maverick’s direction, the look speaking volumes.


    Maverick laughed. “Works just like it used to, kid. Bribery works like a charm.”


    Rooster said nothing as he reluctantly reached out and took one half of the antibiotic before chasing it down with a few gulps of water. He did the same with the other half, drinking almost half of the bottle before he was satisfied. He was quick to take another cough drop from Maverick’s hand and peel the plastic back, taking it in his mouth and savoring the taste on his tongue.


    “That good,” joked Maverick as he saw Rooster’s body instantly relax.


    Rooster nodded, eyes already closing.


    “Alight kid, get some sleep. I’ll be right down the hall if you need anything.” He leaned over and kissed Rooster’s forehead, relieved that the younger man didn’t push him off. That would’ve been impossible if not for the life or death situation that the two had found themselves in a couple months prior. Maverick counted himself thankful to be able to have a redo with Rooster, and would do everything in his power to make things work.




    It was only a couple hours later that Maverick heard cries coming from Rooster’s room. He was on his feet in a minute, the football game he had been watching in the living room hardly a thought in his brain.


    “Rooster,” he called as he rounded the corner and raced into Rooster’s room, flicking the light on.


    There he saw Rooster sitting upright, face the wall with mouth gaped open as he breathed noisily. There was no recollection in his gaze as he stared forward, tears rolling down his face as he let out another scream, fingers coming up to claw at his eyes desperately.


    “Roo?” Alarm pulsed through Maverick as he sped forward and over to Rooster’s bed. He came over beside him with a hand rested on his shoulder. “Rooster?”


    “Le—ft me,” Rooster suddenly croaked out, eyes completely glazed over. In fact, Maverick wasn’t even sure that Rooster was talking to him anymore or the voices that roared in his head.


    Maverick shook his head vigorously. “I’m right here, kiddo. I’m not going to leave you again, I promise.” He reached out to grab his hand, but Rooster was quick to pull away, hands lifted to his chest as terror took over.


    Maverick didn’t push it, knowing exactly what would happen if he tried. After all, the two had been estranged for quite sometime, and while the uranium mission had brought them close together, there were still things that they had to work through. It was times like these that Maverick regretted not being more forceful about staying in Rooster’s life, especially after Carole died. That was something that he would have to live with for the rest of his life; a painful reminder of what Rooster had to endure on his own.


    “Alright, touch may be too much right now. I’ll just be right here when you need me.” Maverick rested his hands on his lap and swallowed feebly, thoughts milling in his head. “I’m not going anywhere. Not anymore....I promise.”


    Maverick was unsure whether or not Rooster was actually processing what he was saying or nothing, but he would still stay there for as long as possible, just in cast Rooster needed him. There was no way he could relax if he knew that Rooster was in any sort of discomfort.


    Suddenly, Rooster’s head snapped down as he sneezed four times against his chest.


    “Bless you.”


    Recognition flickered in Rooster’s gaze as he turned his head to the side, nose running. “Av—ick?”


    “Yeah, kiddo, I’m right here.” Maverick tried not to sound overly eager as he reached for the tissue box on the other side of Rooster’s bed and held it close.


    It took another moment before Rooster realized what happened and grabbed a handful, bringing them up to his nose and blowing harshly. It only served to shift the congestion and cause him to cough, certainly didn’t clear the heaviness that pooled in his sinuses.


    Rooster gave one final harsh blow before rubbing upwards on his reddened nose and coughing thickly into the tissue’s folds.


    “That sounded like it hurt,” Maverick sympathized.


    Rooster didn’t verbally respond, though Maverick could tell just from the book in his eyes exactly how he felt on the matter.


    “Do you need anything? Is there anything I can do for you?”


    Slowly, Rooster scooted to the side of the bed. He reached out a shaky hand to pat the spot beside him, looking to Maverick hesitantly as though frightened that he would refuse. His gaze dropped a moment later as if he was already beginning to regret asking.


    Maverick brightened. “Yeah, yeah, I can stay here. No problem.” He climbed over and sat with a pillow behind his back, body reminding him that he wasn’t as young as he used to be.


    Once Maverick was settled, Rooster couldn’t help but lean over and rest his head on Maverick’s shoulder, relishing in the sure heartbeat and familiar presence of the man that had raised him. Though he hadn’t leaned on him for that parental comfort in such a long time, it didn’t stop him from craving it now.


    Maverick reached an arm around Rooster’s shoulder to hold him close, giving his arm a few gentle squeezes to let him know that he was still there.


    “I’m not going anywhere. Nothing will separate us like it used to. That I can promise you.”

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I loved this update. You should definitely write more xx I loved the mention of Goose too, and Rooster wanting Mav close is very sweet. Mav worrying about Rooster and Rooster worrying about Mav worrying about him is exactly what would happen haha

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/19/2022 at 9:13 AM, spn27695 said:

I loved this update. You should definitely write more xx I loved the mention of Goose too, and Rooster wanting Mav close is very sweet. Mav worrying about Rooster and Rooster worrying about Mav worrying about him is exactly what would happen haha

I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it! I love stories that mention Goose and how Rooster still calls for him and how Maverick feels that grief all over again. Thanks so much for commenting and I hope you like this next installment!







Warning for mentions of coughing up blood






    Maverick awoke a short time later to find Rooster sitting upright, coughing so harshly that Maverick was worried that he was going to be sick.


    “Roo,” Maverick mumbled tiredly as he rolled onto his side and forced himself to sit up, hand stretched out to brush Rooster’s sweaty hair away from his forehead where he was becoming clamped and ruffled. Rooster continued to cough into cupped hands that were barely able to keep clamped over his face, tears running down his cheeks in steady waves.


    The sobering sight of Rooster in the throughs of a coughing fit woke Maverick immediately. He sat up on his knees and patted Rooster’s back hard, fist coming on either side of Rooster’s spine.


    “Easy, easy, just breathe. Breathe through it,” Maverick chided, doing his best to disguise the fear that threaten to rise in his throat.


    Rooster tried to take Maverick’s advice, only to clamp a hand over his mouth as he gagged, eyes nearly bulging from his head.


    “Shit,” Maverick hissed. He flipped onto his side and raced across the room to grab a trashcan he kept in the corner by the dresser. He immediately carried it back over to the bed and shoved it under Rooster’s chin without a second to spare as the younger man gave one more sickening hack before spitting into the trash can.


    The sound of liquid slamming into the side caught Maverick’s attention as he reached for the lamp to switch it on.


    Nausea rose inside of him as Rooster turned to look at him with scarlet liquid oozing from his slightly parted lips. One look into the trash saw a similar sight of blood and mucus. A sour smell wafted from it and it took all of Maverick’s strength not to immediately insist that he and Rooster go to the ER.


    “We need to see someone,” Maverick urged as he cupped a hand on Rooster’s cheek, feeling the dry heat pulsating from his body.


    Desperation showed on Rooster’s face as he shook his head, eyes squeezed tightly. “N-oh. H—spt....” Rooster broke off to cough once more, more blood staining his teeth as he grimaced at the metallic taste that bathed his tongue.


    “Alright, alright, no hospitals. But we have to have someone look at you.” Maverick leaned over and pressed a kiss on top of Rooster’s head after smoothing his hair back manically. “Are you okay with someone coming here? Someone we can trust?”




    Maverick gave Rooster’s arm a tender squeeze before pulling away and reaching for his phone on the nightstand. He was hardly more than a few centimeters away when Rooster reached back to grab Maverick’s hand, gripping it so hard that Maverick felt a twinge in his muscle.


    “Hey, hey, I’m not going anywhere,” Maverick reassured as he turned back to Rooster, his free hand coming down to peel each one of Rooster’s sweaty fingers from his wrist in turn. “I’m not even going to leave the bed, okay? I just need to grab my phone and make a quick phone call.”


    “T—o wh-o?”


    Maverick took Rooster’s momentarily lapse of concentration to reach and grab his phone, scrolling down his contact list. “Where are you? Where are you?” He struck jackpot when he finally found the name toward the bottom of his list. Boy did he need some more contacts.


    He clicked on the name he had been looking for, and brought the phone up to his ear. The dial tone sounded as he impatiently tapped his hand on his knee, willing the person on the other line to pick up.


    A sudden rush of static momentarily sounded before a groggy voice crept onto the line. ‘M’hello? Chester speaking.’


    “Chester? Who the fuck is Chester?”


    There was more shuffling on the other end, followed by an abrupt throat clearing.


    ‘Maverick? Is that you?


    The familiar rumbling voice, even laced with sleep, was one that both familiar and comforting, no matter how many times that Maverick heard it. The fact that he didn’t recognize it immediately reminded Maverick of just how tired and wracked with worry he really was.




    ‘Yeah, Mav. Sorry, I don’t usually get personal calls when I’m on leave and certainly not this late. I should’ve looked at the caller ID


    Maverick choked out an anxious filled chuckle. “Naw, man, that’s on me. I forget that the rest of the world knows you as something different than the Navy. Chester. Chester. I should commit that to memory.”


    ‘Don’t worry about it. Anyway, is there something you need, Maverick? I know you wouldn’t call if it wasn’t urgent.


    Maverick cursed himself for momentarily losing focus from Rooster, who was hunched onto his side, stealing weak gulps for air through his open mouth. His chest quaked as a shiver racked his body, the echo of his teeth chattering together searing through Maverick’s skull.




    “It’s Rooster,” Maverick blurted. “He was sick and then he just woke up and coughed up blood. It’s not a lot but his fever is spiking and.....” He trailed off as he turned away from Rooster and lowered his voice, strain constricting his vocal cords and causing his words to shake. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t lose him, Sav.”


    ‘Alright, hang tight and I’ll be right there. Is he lucid?’


    Maverick turned back to Rooster and reached back a hand to palm his forehead.


    Rooster hardly moved, didn’t even press into his touch like he would so commonly do when sick.




    ‘Maverick, listen to me closely. I need you to cool him down. Take some towels and soak it in lukewarm water; we don’t want to shock his system. Then, prop him up and if he coughs, make sure he doesn’t swallow if he coughs up anymore blood.


    Maverick’s mind whirled as he tried to keep up with the information. Flying a jet was easy in his mind compared to dealing with the human body. How Savant could suggest all that without even seeing Rooster blew his mind. He could practically hear Ice laughing at him in his brain about how he could spent years perfecting his PT and asking the same of his pilots, but crumpling at the prospect of dealing with his body during any illness.




    “Yeah, yeah, I got it. Just hurry.”


    ‘Call if you need me. I’ll be right there.’


    Once Savant hung up, Maverick immediately got to work. He jumped off the bed and shook out some of the nervous energy from his shoulders as he started towards the bathroom. He didn’t hesitate to ransack the nearest bathroom and pull as many hand towels from the linen closet as he could. Warm water washed over the towels with Maverick bunching the towel and wringing it out before plunging it back under the steady stream as the water cooled from warm to lukewarm. He did the same with the rest until he heard exhausted choking from Rooster’s room.




    Maverick drew back from the bathroom with the towels and headed back into his room, finding Rooster still hunched on his side, curling inward as he sputtered and choked on the liquid that was now dripping from the corners of his mouth.


    Alarm overwhelmed Maverick until he felt the world tilt dangerously in front of him. He pushed down the unease as he rushed back over to Rooster, setting the towels beside him as he reached for the younger man and gripped his shoulders, body heaving as he forced Rooster to sit upright.


    “Savant says you have to cough this up,” Maverick coaxed as he took his fist and vigorously rubbed in a circular motion against Rooster’s sternum, watching the tickle spread until Rooster was forced to open his mouth and cough more productively, unable to stifle it with the enhanced irritation that was Maverick’s fist.


    As Rooster began to cough, Maverick grabbed one of the towels and cupped it under Rooster’s face, the younger man squirming from Maverick’s help.


    Maverick frowned. “Rooster, listen to me, I know you’re in there somewhere. You need to stop fighting me.” Maverick slid onto the edge of the bed and sighed as he rested his forehead against Rooster’s shoulder, the coughing far from calming down.


    Eventually, Rooster wasn’t able to control it and hacked so harshly that liquid splattered from his mouth, and dripped down his bottom lip as Rooster whimpered as he tried to breathe. His chest shuddered as he let out sharp, gasping wheezes, fingers coming up to claw at his throat desperately. Red scratches were left when Maverick finally pulled his hand free, a few spots beginning to swell with trickles of blood.


    “I know it hurts,” Maverick sympathized, his own voice wavering as he pondered what he could actually say to make what Rooster was going through tolerable. “But Savant is going to be here and he’s going to help. You just need to hold on for him.”


    Rooster spit into the towel with Maverick using the corners to dab at the corner of Rooster’s mouth. Chapped lips greeted Maverick’s hand and he sighed, cleaning Rooster up to the best of his ability and doing his best not to look at the contents of the towel.


    ‘I’ll leave it for Savant,’ Maverick thought. ‘He’ll probably want to see it or something. Don’t know how he can possibly tell anything from looking at that shit, but that’s why he’s the doctor and I’m not.’


    Once Maverick was persuaded that Rooster wasn’t about to have another fit, he set the towel aside for Savant to look at later before turning to the towels.


    He grabbed the first one and folded it in threes and placed it delicately on the back of Rooster’s neck. The collar of Rooster’s shirt was pulled up around the towel to hold it in place, as Maverick wasn’t sure Rooster wouldn’t try to pull it free.


    “And another.” Maverick rested another on Rooster’s exposed legs, holding them steady even as Rooster attempted to weakly kick them off. “No, no, you have to keep those on.”


    “D—ad,” Rooster whined, voice barely a hoarse whisper.


    Part of Maverick wasn’t sure whether Rooster was calling for himself or Goose, but either way, his heart broke all the same. His hand came down on Rooster’s shoulder, pressure traveling through his fingers into the tightest squeeze that he could muster.


    “Easy, Little Goose. Easy.”


    Maverick hushed him as he took the final towel and began to dab around Rooster’s neck and forehead. Sweat drenched Rooster’s skin, adding to the sickly sheen. Maverick tried to ignore the pain filled whimpers Rooster let out as he wriggled weakly, hand coming up to push Maverick’s away. He reluctantly continued, hand that wasn’t holding the towel coming to hold Rooster’s hand down, the tips of his fingers splayed across Rooster’s wrist. Rooster didn’t fight back nearly as forcefully, though Maverick wasn’t sure whether that was because he was losing his grip on reality or if he had finally allowed exhaustion to take control.


    The towel became chilled a short time later, and Maverick flipped the last towel back to rest on Rooster’s forehead.


    “Close your eyes,” Maverick chided, fingers pressing on the edges of the towel against Rooster’s eyes soothingly. “Try and relax. I’m going to be right here, okay?”


    A soft wheeze left Rooster’s lips, but Maverick could hear the name on his lips as though Rooster had screamed it to the heavens.


    Maverick blinked tears from his own eyes and squeezed Rooster’s hand—that he still had grasped in his own—all the firmer.


    “I miss him too. It’s okay to miss him, you know. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a man. It makes you human.”


    Suddenly, Rooster was overwhelmed by a rush of strength and pulled his hand from Maverick’s hold.


    Maverick was about to reach back when he saw Rooster lift both hands vertically, palms facing one another. He moved his hands closer together before lifting his right hand and bringing it up to the right side of his mouth. Three fingers were enclosed in a fist with his pointer and thumb extended. He drew his pointer finger and thumb closer together against his lips twice until they touched, eyes hidden behind the towel the entire time.


    If Maverick thought that he couldn’t feel anymore of an ache in his heart, he was certainly wrong. He would know that sign absolutely anywhere, even if it wasn’t Rooster that was the one who often did it.


    The memory of Maverick sitting in bed with Ice after he had gotten his tracheostomy overwhelmed him. He could recall Rooster  coming into the hospital room and his eyes had widened when he saw Ice looking the way he did. Tears had welled in his eyes, and Maverick had been terrified that Rooster would run the other way and hide from the way that one of his fathers looked. However, Ice had taken it all in stride, and although he couldn’t speak comfortably, he had come up with a sign that he could do that would be in place of speaking Rooster’s name.


    “Little Bird,” Maverick had read on a notepad that he had given Ice when he finally asked Ice what he was signing when motioning to Rooster.


    His heart had swelled when he learned the sign, and it was one that Ice had continued to use throughout Rooster’s entire life right up until Ice’s death. Maverick had never signed nearly like Ice did, feeling that he would be encroaching on territory that wasn’t his to tread on in Ice’s absence. Now he wished maybe he should have.


    “Yeah, Roo. You are ‘little bird.’ That’s right.” Maverick cursed himself as a single tear rolled down his right cheek. He swiped it away fiercely with the back of his hand, a lump rising in his throat as he swallowed a new wave of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. “That was what Ice called you, I know. I’m sorry he can’t be here with you. I’d do anything to bring him back for you, but I can’t.”


    Rooster grew eerily still, hands falling limp at his sides.


    There wasn’t anything more that Maverick could say to comfort Rooster, that much he knew. His presence would just have to be  enough as there was nothing else that he felt he could offer Rooster.


    ‘Talk to me, Goose. Talk to me Ice. I need someone, anyone to help.’


    It was then that the doorbell rang, which to Maverick sounded like the lifeline he desperately needed.


To Be Continued.....

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On 11/30/2022 at 2:46 PM, spn27695 said:

Oh wow! This just keeps getting better 🥰 Roo longing for Ice is so sad. The poor thing.

Can't wait for Savant.

I’m so glad that you like it and especially Savant! I don’t add OCs often since I don’t want to take away from the other characters, but he’s one character that I just can’t help putting him in whenever I can. I hope you like this next chapter!



Also there isn’t any sneezing in this part, but I promise there will be in the next one ☺️



    Savant stood on Maverick’s porch, weight shifting from one foot to the next. A black doctor’s bag was clutched at his side as he did mental inventory of everything that was inside and what he would need for Rooster. The bag often was in his car or right beside his front door, always at an easy reach for when Savant needed it.


    He didn’t have to wait long for the door to open to reveal a flustered looking Maverick. Savant had seen Maverick in some tight situations before, the broken shell of a man that he had been when he was younger. This was different entirely. The heaviness he carried was not just his own, but seemed to culminate in all those that they had lost that had cared for Rooster. Savant had seen that look on Maverick’s face a handful of times, and it frightened him all the same.


    Savant had barely opened his mouth to speak when Maverick took him by the arm and yanked him inside.


    His foot nearly caught on the small lip under the door while Maverick swung the door closed behind them. Savant had barely toed off his shoes when Maverick was pulling him forward still, hardly waiting to make sure that Savant was keeping up.


    “Thanks for coming,” Maverick mumbled as they neared what Savant assumed was Rooster’s room.


    Savant tightened his hold on his bag as his head gave a small dip. “You know I’m always happy to help. How long have you been noticing these symptoms?”


    “Just a day or so....but I have a feeling he’s been hiding it for longer.” Maverick stopped at the door and grasped the knob before turning it, the door swinging up with the force of a small push from Maverick’s foot.


    The smell of sickness hung thick in the air, which was the first thing that Savant noticed.  He wouldn’t quite say that he had a sixth sense or anything along those lines, though he had dealt with enough sick soldiers to recognize the smell that it brought with them, the feelings that loved ones brought as they were forced to look on, unsure of what they could possibly do to make it better.


    Savant dove into action almost immediately and rushed over to Rooster’s bed. The younger man was sitting propped up, eyes listless as he stared off into the corner. His chest hardly rose with each breath, a rattling wheeze echoing from his lungs. The click of phlegm caught in the back of Rooster’s throat with every shallow breath that he took. Heat clung to him, even as shivers traveled down his arms, sprouting goosebumps in their wake.


    “Hey, kiddo.” Savant chuckled to himself at the sentiment. Rooster was in his thirties, and yet Savant felt a paternal sense of protection over not just Rooster, but all the younger soldiers that were under his care on the daily. He may have never gotten the chance to have kids of his own, but he would be dammed if he didn’t do everything in his power to take care of those soldiers, like he wished could’ve been done with him when he was their ages.


    Rooster’s head tipped ever so slightly toward Savant’s voice, though Savant wasn’t sure how put together Rooster’s thoughts were. He could feel the heat from where he was sitting, and he wasn’t even touching him.


    “Let’s get you feeling better. First I’m going to do an examination to see what’s really going on,” Savant explained as he rested out a hand and took Rooster’s wrist, fingers pressed against his radial artery. “Just need a quick pulse check for you, alright? Two fingers and that’s it.” Savant bowed his head forward as though he could hear Rooster’s pulse as well as feel it.


    Maverick watched on intently, shuffling from one foot to the other as he rocked from the balls of his feet to his heel, jitteriness plaguing him. “I don’t know if he can hear you.”


    Savant chuckled and set Rooster’s wrist down when he had checked his pulse. “You’d be surprised, and even if he can’t, I always like to let my patients know everything that I’m doing. I feel it opens the doors to consent.”


    “I’m sure Rooster would appreciate that,” Maverick murmured as he continued to watch on.


    “Alright, Rooster.” Savant leaned forward and opened his bag. He found the thermometer he was looking for and held it up, clicking on the display.


    Interest sparked in Maverick’s eyes as he leaned forward. “Does that have to go under his tongue?”


    “Ordinarily I would want to use one of those; I find they give the best reading but that may be personal preference.” Savant pointed the thermometer at Rooster’s brow and slid it across his forehead. “Plus I don’t think that he would keep the thermometer under his tongue. Until he’s less feverish, this’ll have to do.” The display flashed red and Savant frowned, letting out a low whistle. “Damn, that’s high.”


    Maverick peered over Savant’s shoulder and saw the number that flashed black across the red screen. “104.3. Isn’t that like melt your brain high?”


    “We care more about the symptoms than we do the number, but you’re right, that’s definitely higher than I would like.” He set the thermometer aside and pulled out a stethoscope. He slid the eartips into his ears and lifted the drum to rub it against his palm to warm it. “I want to get a listen to those lungs of his. I can hear that wheeze from here, but this’ll tell me a little more.”


    Maverick swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched Savant lift up the bottom of Rooster’s shirt. His exposed chest was laced with healed scars, jagged and rough against his pale skin. Maverick couldn’t remember ever being this close to them before, and hadn’t even known that Rooster had them. The sight had him instinctively looking away, shoulders hunched. Would it embarrass Rooster if he knew Maverick saw them? That much Maverick wasn’t sure but he still didn’t like the idea of seeing something that Rooster himself didn’t give him permission to see.


    Savant noticed Maverick’s shudder and pulled the eartips from his ears, stethoscope hanging loosely around his neck. “You’ve never seen them before?”


    “Not this close,” Maverick answered hoarsely. “Read reports but seeing it.....”


    “Seeing is different than hearing.”


    Maverick let out a forced laugh, tears burning in the corners of his eyes. “Did you know about those?”


    Savant took in a heavy sigh, deciding on his words carefully.


    “I’ve read about it in his file, yes, and I was there to treat a handful of them. I didn’t keep it from you before you say anything. Doctor patient confidentiality even between us.” Savant paused and regarded Maverick thoughtfully. “You have your own set of scars courtesy of the military. Occupational hazard.”


    “Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”


    Savant didn’t respond as he warmed the drum of the stethoscope one more time before setting it over Rooster’s heart. He slid the eartips into his ears and held his breath. He then moved it down to Rooster’s chest and then placed it onto his back.


    Rooster visibly flinched at the coolness, and Savant rested his hand on Rooster’s shoulder. “Sorry, man, I know it’s cold. It’ll just be a little bit longer.” Savant moved the drum into another position and took a deep breath of his own. “I need you to take in a deep breath if you can.”


    Something in Rooster seemed to flip as he sucked in a massive breath. His lips parted as he tried to let it out through his mouth, suddenly gasping as it caused him to cough.


    Savant drew back and dropped his stethoscope back around his neck. “Sit forward.” His hands traced along Rooster’s shoulder blades before clutching them into fists and beginning to thump rhythmically on either side of his spine. Hollow thumps filled the room along with the sound of Rooster coughing and choking, until he finally brought up a mouthful of saliva, phlegm, and blood into the offered tissues that Savant seemed to have produced out of thin air.


    “That’s it,” Savant whispered soothingly as he enclosed the gunk that Savant had coughed up in the tissue. He then used the corners of the tissue to wipe the blood free of the corners of his mouth as well as his bottom lip, careful not to add any further irritation to his already cracked skin.


    Maverick watched in awe at how Savant dealt with Rooster. He knew that Savant wasn’t quite like other doctors, and that his bedside manner was generally pretty pleasant, but seeing how gentle he was left Maverick feeling a rush of warmth for a man he now considered a good friend.


    “I’m sorry, Savant.”


    Savant rolled his eyes and examined the contents of the tissues before throwing them in the trashcan beside the bed. “This is my job, Mav. Besides, I’m happy to help you two, always. There’s no need to be sorry about that.”


    Maverick came to sit on the foot of the bed, facing both Savant and Rooster. “That’s not what I’m apologizing for.”


    “You’re going to have to give me more than that. Contrary to what may be whispered in the halls, I’m not a mind reader.” Savant reached out and rubbed Rooster’s back as the younger man slumped against him, his too hot forehead coming to rest against Savant’s shoulder.


    Maverick chewed against the inside of his cheek until he tasted blood. Part of him wanted to backtrack, to tell Savant to never mind what he was going to say. But, the interest was there and there was no way that Savant would drop it now.


    Reluctantly, Maverick dropped his gaze to his hands to find them shaking. He could recall the feeling of Ice reaching out to take his hand, and it was only feeling the presence of the other man beside him.


    “I’m sorry you never got to have moments like this with Thunder.”


    Immediately, Savant’s face fell. His green eyes glistened with unshed tears, though he didn’t shy away from Rooster. He swallowed heavily, breath shuddering as shaky hands fought to pull the stethoscope from around his neck and tuck it back into his bag.


    “I shouldn’t have said anything,” Maverick continued quickly. “Shit, that was stupid of me to say. Damnit!”


    “No, no, it’s quite alright. I don’t think about stuff like that a lot.” Savant pressed his lips tightly together, calming his thoughts before speaking. “When I was younger I thought about maybe adopting children.” He sucked on his teeth, his head shaking. “That was something I only wanted to do with Thunder. Without him I knew that couldn’t be the path for me. I couldn’t put the burden of my loss onto kids. It was best to focus on my work and do what I could there.”


    “Thunder would be so proud of you.”


    “I’m not sure I would go that far. He’d probably tell me I work too much. He always hated my work schedule. Told me I was going to work myself into an early grave,” Savant felt Rooster shudder against him and he was quick to grab Rooster shirt and pulled it over his head, fumbling to help Rooster’s arms through the armholes. “He may be right but it’s not like he’s around to say anything about it.”


    Maverick could hear the slight bitterness in Savant’s voice. He knew he couldn’t expect him to be upbeat all the time, especially when he knew the specifics of Thunder’s death and the toll that it had taken on Savant. After all, he had gone through something similar with Ice, so if anyone knew what Savant had went through, it would be Maverick.




    Savant and Maverick glanced at Rooster, who was just beginning to stir. “Ma—ick?”


    Savant gave a nod of his chin in Maverick’s direction, hands braced against Rooster to keep him from toppling over as he stood. Maverick was quick to take Savant’s position, allowing the younger man to press against him as he let out a few sickly coughs against his chest. It was mostly dry, though Maverick did swallow convulsively as he watched him.


    “I’m going to start a bath,” Savant announced with a point to the door.


    “What do I do if he starts coughing like that?”


    Savant stopped, hand on the door as he faced Maverick. “Encourage him to cough deeply from his stomach. If he can’t, cup your hands and either hit his back or against the ribs. That should help to bring up something. Just try to make sure that it doesn’t turn into a fit. That’ll tire him and won’t do him any good.”


    Maverick’s mind raced to process what Savant was saying. “Okay, I think I got it.”


    “I’ll just be right down the hall. If you need anything, just call for me.” Warmth lit in Savant’s eyes as he looked to Maverick, a sudden ease taking over Maverick, like the hug of a good friend. It didn’t even matter that Savant was across the room. “You’re going to be fine, Maverick.”


    Maverick looked down to the man in his arms, head still buried against Maverick’s chest, arms hung loosely around Maverick’s waist. “I know, I know. Just be quick.”


    Savant slid out of the room a moment later when he was certain that Maverick wasn’t about to call him back. He had watched that man take down more enemy jets than he could count, and pull himself out of many impossible to win situations. Yet, seeing him crumple as he watched the kid that he had practically raised struggle the way that he did reminded Savant that Maverick wasn’t made of stone. He worried for Rooster more than anyone realized, and more than anyone would ever witness.


    Pushing the thoughts away, Savant slipped into the bathroom and switched on the light and the fan. He crouched down beside the tub and twisted both nozzles, hand cupped under the faucet as water began to shoot down. His fingers threaded through the steady stream as he felt it start to warm up, but never allowed it to turn hot. Lukewarm was what he was going for, and once he found that perfect temperature, he plugged the drain and watched as the tub began to fill.


    While the water rose, Savant busied himself with setting out towels on the sink. After he finished, Savant found himself sitting on the edge of the tub with his fingers tracing along the surface of the water. The slight heat brushed against his palm before he allowed his fingers to slip under the water, breath stilling as he tested the temperature. There was a time where he would use a thermometer to check, though after years and years of practice having to do this with soldiers dealing with hypothermia and raging fevers while at sea with less than favorable supplies, he knew exactly how the water should feel without those measures.


    His hand drew back sharply and flicked droplets of water back across the once calm surface. The faucet was then turned off as Savant rose to his feet, rolling up his sleeves as he skirted out of the bathroom, the door closed slowly behind him.


    Savant was about to push the door to Rooster’s room open when he heard a soft sound coming from inside. At first he thought that Maverick may be reading or reciting something to him, the closer that he leaned into the door, the more that he did, the more that he realized that Maverick wasn’t talking but humming.


    Singing may be more of the definition that Savant was looking for, though he would never say anything to Maverick out of fear of embarrassing him.


    It wasn’t like it was unusual for Maverick to sing, as Savant could remember quite a few times in their early days of the Navy of Maverick belting out numerous songs, much to Ice’s chagrin. Goose had always joined in, as had Thunder, while Savant could remember hiding in the corner, his face hidden in his hands from secondhand embarrassment when Thunder would try and pull him to his feet, claiming that he had to ‘have fun while he still could’.


    ‘I’ll give them their moment together,’ Savant thought as he stood pressed against the door, unable to stop a smile from spreading over his face. ‘They sure as hell deserve it.’

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Awh that last bit was so sweet! And I really liked Savant's perspective throughout too.

I love how Mav is so reapectful Rooster scars, not wanting to see what he hasn't been shown.

Poor Rooster is all vulnerable and I love it 😅 (Sorry Roo haha)

I feel like Mav or Savant would freak out at that other doctor who said he just had strep now!


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🥰 the Mav and Roo fluff 🥰 also saw you note on AO3 sending good vibes around your procedure that your still able to get it ❤️ 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/2/2022 at 8:31 PM, spn27695 said:

Awh that last bit was so sweet! And I really liked Savant's perspective throughout too.

I love how Mav is so reapectful Rooster scars, not wanting to see what he hasn't been shown.

Poor Rooster is all vulnerable and I love it 😅 (Sorry Roo haha)

I feel like Mav or Savant would freak out at that other doctor who said he just had strep now!


Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it and the relationship between Savant & Maverick & Rooster. It’s so interesting to write and it makes me feel amazing that you’re continuing to enjoy it!


On 12/2/2022 at 9:50 PM, Mygyn said:

🥰 the Mav and Roo fluff 🥰 also saw you note on AO3 sending good vibes around your procedure that your still able to get it ❤️ 

I very much appreciate it! Things have definitely been crazy but I’m hoping they’ll calm down enough so that I can write a whole lot more in the coming weeks ☺️




I’m so sorry it’s been a little bit. I was in the hospital with a kidney stone so that took up a whole lot of my time recently, but I should be better now and hopefully able to do a lot more updates and in a more timely manner....at least that is the goal! Life has been crazy lately, though I hope I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. 


Anyway, I hope you all enjoy!







    When Maverick’s singing finally came to an end, Savant opened the door to find Rooster curled so tightly against Maverick that Savant had to crane his head to see him. As much as he wanted to let Rooster get some much needed rest, he knew that he couldn’t leave him when fever was ravaging his body, no matter how comfortable he was.




    Maverick’s neck rolled to glance at Savant, clearing his throat with a distinct huff. “I’m hoping you didn’t hear much of that.”


    “Hardly anything,” Savant answered quickly, voice smooth. “And as much as I would like to leave you two here, it’ll do Rooster some good to sit in the bath for a while and I have some methods to help clear some more of that gunk out of his system.”


    “Is the blood.....”


    “It’s fairly common with chest infections to cause bloody sputum. I also have a feeling that if they did a strep test and it came out positive, there is a good chance that the coughing could’ve ruptured something in his throat. It’ll heal on it’s own, but when he’s more lucid I’ll check.” Savant reached out and gave Rooster’s leg a small shake, careful not to jostle him too much as he attempted to rouse him.


    Rooster’s head lifted, face flushed. “I—ce?”


    Savant gave a friendly shake of his head, eyes crinkling in the corners when he smiled. “I’m afraid not, but I appreciate the compliment.” He straightened to his full height and rubbed his hands over his arms. “Think you feel up to a bit of a bath? We gotta get that temp of yours down just a bit.”


    Rooster gave a frustrated grumble with Maverick there to keep him from toppling over off of side of the bed.


    “Easy, we’ll help you,” Maverick told him as swung his legs over the side of the bed, arm coming to wrap around Rooster’s shoulders to urge him to do the same.


    Rooster started to follow Maverick’s lead, only to suddenly leap back from him and scoot to the end of the bed with a frantic kick of his legs. His mouth hung open at he tried to scream, but all that came out with a lifeless croak and rush of air. Maverick attempted to scoot closer only for Rooster to take a weak swing, eyes alit in fury.


    Savant was quick to grab Maverick by the wrist and haul him to his feet and away from the bed. Maverick stumbled against him, but Savant was expecting it and easily propped the shorter man up, giving a wide berth to Rooster as he began to shake and sob.


    “What’s going on,” Maverick hissed as he fought against Savant, elbow lifted as he twisted to push it against Savant’s stomach fiercely. “Let me talk to him, damnit!”


    “Hey, hey!” Savant tightened his hold, hands coming up to grab both of Maverick’s wrists and forcing his arms across his chest in an X formation. He held Maverick close even as he fought him, teeth gritted, though he couldn’t manage to wriggle free. “Fevers like this can cause outbursts of emotion and confusion. If you get too close, he may lash out at you, which is the last thing that we want. Now, can you get a change of clothes for him and bring it to the bathroom?”


    “But he—“


    “I’ll calm him down. It may help to have an impartial face that isn’t you right now.” Savant slowly released Maverick’s arms from his grasp when it was clear he wasn’t about to take another swing at him.


    Maverick thought to ignore it, but one look at Savant gave him his answer. Shoulders slumped, he drew back and out of the room, clearly agitated, but knowing when to let Savant do what he did best.


    Once Maverick left, Savant took a step into Rooster’s line of vision with his hands lifted, palms out with his arms outstretched. “Rooster, I need you to focus on my voice. It’s Savant....I’m here to help you.”


    Rooster’s head gave a violent shake, eyes listless and fever bright. His chin raised, pain showing on his face. “I—ce go—ne.”


    “You’re right. Ice is gone.” Savant tried to keep his own emotion from his voice as he took a half step to the side, able to stay in Rooster’s line of sight while giving him the opportunity to look away if he wanted to. “But, you have Maverick here that loves and cares for you. You need to remember that and bring yourself out of this, no matter what the voice in your head is telling you.”


    Rooster opened his mouth to say something only to begin to cough, just as productive and thick as before. Before Savant could even prompt Rooster to spit, he swallowed, a look of pure disgust passing over his face.


    “That’s why we don’t swallow that shit.” Savant rolled his eyes and took another step forward, arm outstretched to Rooster. He could see how conflicted Rooster was, now much he wanted to meet Savant where he was, yet he was beyond hesitating. There was something at the back of his mind that stopped him, and that made Savant cautious. “Rooster, I’m not going to hurt you. I only want to help. Do you trust me?”


    Rooster’s head lifted, lips pressed in a tight line. Savant could practically see the gears turning in his head, which gave him a rush of hope.




    Savant managed a light laugh. “I’m here, kid. Not going anywhere until you’re a little better. Think we can work with that?”


    Rooster met Savant’s gaze once more before reaching out his hand to the doctor. Savant gave a small dip of his head as he gasped his hand around Rooster’s arm and pulled him to his feet, body braced as he prepared to take Rooster’s full weight as the well muscled man practically stumbled into him.


    Years of dealing with soldiers, needing to remain strong to help maneuver them and carry whenever possible, allowed Savant not to topple under Rooster’s sudden weight. He managed to wrap his arm around his middle and keep him steady with each step as they made their way from his room down the hallway.


    It took a few more minutes for them to arrive int the bathroom to find Maverick sitting on the edge of the tub, head in his hands. His right leg bounced up and down anxiously, mind clearly racing.


    “Roo?” Maverick’s head lifted, a hopeful glint in eyes as he looked at the man he considered his son.


    Savant flicked his head to the side and Maverick leapt to his feet, rushing over to Rooster’s aid. He took half of his weight as he looked around Rooster to Savant mouthing, ‘what happened?’


    “Just took a little reminding of things that are real verses his memory. His fever is still high, but this bath should help lower it.” Savant’s grip on Rooster’s shoulder tightened just enough to be felt until Rooster turned his attention to Savant. “This may be a little uncomfortable. But it won’t last long.”


    Rooster swiveled his head to Maverick, eyes round in fear. “I’ll be right here the whole time. Unless you want me to leave.”


    Rooster lifted a hand and grasped hard at Maverick’s bicep, clear intent on his face as his brow furrowed.


    “Okay, okay, I’ll stay.” A laugh echoed in Maverick’s throat as he helped Savant lower Rooster onto the edge of the tub. A blush showed on Maverick’s face as he looked to Rooster’s clothes, attention lifted to Savant as though asking for permission for next steps.


    “He can strip to his boxers and he can change after the bath when he’s more lucid.” Savant gave a look to the door. “I’ll step out while you get him ready. I’m guessing he’ll be more comfortable without me in the room.”


    Maverick thought about insisting that he stay, but one look at Rooster made the decision for him. He reluctantly agreed and waited for Savant to leave the bathroom before reaching around to pull Rooster’s sweat soaked shirt from over his head. He threw the shirt aside before reaching for Rooster’s chin to tip his head upward, fever filled eyes shinning up at Maverick.


    “Do you think you can take off your shorts for me,” Maverick questioned, hopeful that Rooster would give an answer so that he didn’t have to do it for him.


    Rooster didn’t verbally answer, though he lowered shaky hands to grasp his waistband and pulled them down, kicking the shorts aside so that he was sitting only in his boxers. Chills rushed down his arms as he looked to Maverick, unshed tears glistening in his eyes.


    His head slumped forward against Maverick, nearly pushing him into the bath. “D—n’t f-f—l go—od.”


    “I know you don’t feel good, Roo. But Savant says this is going to help. Once that fever of yours goes down, you’ll feel a lot better.” Maverick raised a hand and threaded his fingers through Rooster’s hair, brushing it back. Sweat and oil collected on Maverick’s fingers and he gave a playful grimace. “You need your hair washed. Think we can maybe do that while you’re in there?”


    Rooster made a face before giving a timid nod, eyes trained on the water. “O—ay.”


    That was enough for Maverick. He jumped to his feet and grasped Rooster’s shoulder just as Rooster shifted on the edge of the tub before falling into the water, body instantly tensing at the sudden change of temperature.


    Rooster let out a sharp yelp and instantly tired to stand, but Maverick was there to push his hands down on Rooster’s shoulders to keep him in the water. Rooster fought against him, arm swinging and connecting hard enough with Maverick’s side that it knocked the wind out of him, forcing him to jump back with an arm threaded along his middle. Damn did Rooster have strength when he wanted to.


    Hearing the commotion, Savant headed back into the bathroom and saw Rooster gripping the edges of the tub, shivers racking his frame, eyes wild once more.


    Savant was at his side in an instant, arms pulled from the edge of the tub to help Rooster back in, murmuring gentle reassurances against his head. He wasn’t quite sure all that he was saying, nor if it would help the obvious turmoil that Rooster was experiencing inside his mind, but a try was better than doing nothing.


    Gradually, Rooster began to calm as his body adjusted to the temperature of the water. He still gave a few twitches of his legs periodically, but his movements grew slower as exhaustion plagued him. A haziness took over his gaze as he tipped his head back against the back corner of the wall of the tub, eyes fixed on a point that Savant couldn’t guess. He painstakingly drew back from Rooster and turned back to Maverick, who was still rubbing at his side with his hands clutched into fists as he rubbed at his tender side.


    “I’m starting to think that you two shouldn’t be left alone today,” joked Savant as he met Maverick’s bitter gaze fondly.


    Maverick dropped his hands from his side and gave his head a small shake. “I feel like I keep fucking this up. It’s like I don’t even know how to care for him anymore.”


    “It’s the fever that’s causing all this,” Savant sympathized. “Don’t read too much into it until his fever goes down.....Maverick.”


    Maverick drew slightly forward, gaze unreadable.


    “We will get through this, for Rooster’s sake. You just need to remain calm.”


    Before Maverick could answer, Rooster sucked in a trembling breath, face twisted and top lip curled as he ducked forward toward his exposed legs, head heavy and nostrils flaring with need.


    “Hish’Huu! Hisch’Shuu! Hisch’Huue!


    “Gesundheit,” Savant offered.


    Rooster lifted a hand out of the water and furiously rubbed the side of his dripping hand against his nose, a thick squelch coming deep within the reddened appendage.


    Ordinarily that would be something that Savant would bristle at, often scolding soldiers no matter their age for doing something similar when there were perfectly good tissues at their disposal. He managed to refrain himself when it came to Rooster, already knowing how out of it the aviator really was.


    “I’d like to see if I can find something to help his breathing when he gets out. Think that you can stay with him for a bit,” Savant questioned with a telltale look to Maverick, clearly reluctant to ask, but knowing that there wasn’t that many options stopped him.


    No matter what happened between himself and Rooster, even if it was during the period of time when Rooster absolutely couldn’t stand the thought of Maverick, there was no way that he could abandon him no matter what was going on. All the bruises and fear was worth it in Maverick’s mind, so long as he could care for Rooster through thick and thin.


    After a moment, Maverick nodded. “Yeah, we‘ll be good.”


    Good may have been a bit of a stretch, to which Maverick realized that once he said it, but the patient smile that he received from Savant eased his worry.


    When Savant stood and ran his hands down the front of his shirt to smooth it, he then padded from the bathroom, leaving Maverick and Rooster to it.


    As soon as Savant left, Maverick dropped to his knees beside the tub, water saturating his knees as he stretched out his hand over the water and motioned to Rooster’s shoulder before allowing his fingers to brush against the short hairs on the back of Rooster’s neck. Rooster immediately tensed, and Maverick worried that he may lash out again, to which Maverick felt himself instinctively holding his breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.


    Slowly, Rooster leaned back into Maverick’s touch, a raspy, huff of a sigh giving way to just how Rooster was feeling.


    “Alright, Little Goose. Let’s see if you can work with me here.” Maverick reached back to grab a small plastic cup that sat on the corner of the tub and scooped half a cup of water into it and tipped it over Rooster’s head. Water cascaded over Rooster’s head, streaming down his face and over his ears. He gave his head a small shake, accidentally sprinkling Maverick with some of the lukewarm bath water.


    Maverick couldn’t help but laugh, tension leaving his body as he plunged the cup back into the water and dumped it bright back over Rooster’s head. This time Maverick worked his fingers through his short hair to wet it fully only for Rooster to suddenly buck away from his grasp, leaving Maverick slightly perturbed to what may have happened.


    He didn’t have to wonder long, however, as Rooster’s head cranked to his left side over his shoulder, breath scissoring as he watched for his breath to finally catch on the cusp of a deep rooted irritation that threatened to overwhelm his entire face.


    Before Maverick could ask what happened, he saw Rooster duck forward. “Hish’hue! Hisch’Huu! Hishc’Huee! Hish’Huue!” The final sneeze went up in pitch with Rooster shaking his head in agitation each more as he turned to regard Maverick with a slightly agitated stare.


    “Sorry, I forgot how you always sneeze when water gets up your nose. I’ll try to be more careful,” Maverick joked as he grabbed another cup of water and delicately poured it back over Rooster’s head, careful this time to avoid splashing any water in his nose. He squirted a generous amount of shampoo onto Rooster’s head and kneaded it in, frothing it into a lather until he could feel the oil and sickly sweat being washed away.


    Maverick dropped his hands into the bath water to rinse the soap off before filling the cup with water, once more, and tipping Rooster’s head back before trickling the steady stream of water through his hair. It took a dozen or so more attempts before Rooster’s hair was thoroughly rinsed with no hints of soap left over.


    Once they finished, Maverick could see the chills that had set back in with the goosebumps as they traced their way down Rooster’s arms. The water had cooled long after being seen as helpful, and Maverick couldn’t bring himself to force Rooster to stay in there any longer than he needed.


    “Let’s start drying you off.”


    Maverick braced his hands on the edge of the tub and used it to help him stand, back arched as he reached for one of the towels behind him on the edge of the sink. He sank back down in his usual spot and began to ruffle Rooster’s hair to dry it. It didn’t take long for a hand to come up and take the edge of the towel in tightly clasped fingers and craned his head around the side to see Maverick looking right back at him.




    Rooster blinked his water eyes, a sniffle causing his nose to slightly crease. “Mav?”


    “Yeah, Bradley, I’m right here. I’m right here.” Maverick pulled the towel from Rooster’s head and reached out a hand to feel under Rooster’s throat, at the protruding lymph nodes on either side of Rooster’s neck. “Shit, I don’t know a lot, but they feel awfully swollen. There is no way in hell this just started coming on a day ago.”


    Rooster squeezed his eyes shut, ducking back from Maverick’s touch bashfully. “N—-t n—ow.” Rooster swallowed hard, Adam’s apple bobbing slowly. “Ma—av.”


    Reluctance showed on Maverick’s face at dropping this, but hearing the strain in Rooster voice, and knowing that the bath was only a temporary solution to his fever, he dropped it. There would be plenty of time for him to scold Rooster on this when he didn’t feel like complete shit.


    “I’m just glad that you’re with us,” Maverick replied.




    Maverick was just about to answer when there was a faint knock at the door before Savant stepped inside with a blister pack of medication.


    “Rooster? It’s nice to see you a little more alert. How are you feeling?”


    Instead of verbally answering, Rooster raised his outstretched hand outwards, tipping it back and forth in a so-so motion.


    “I’ll bet. Don’t worry; we’re going to have you feeling better in no time.” Savant waved the two pills in their plastic container slightly. “I know you took some of this earlier, but I don’t see the harm of another dose until I can pick up some antibiotics to help with that pneumonia I can hear you fighting.”


    “Pneumonia,” Maverick echoed in alarm. “The base said it was strep.”


    “I have no doubt that you also have strep, but this was probably brewing right alongside of it and it took you being down already for it to really fester.”


    Discomfort shone on Rooster’s face as he took in what Savant just told him. He stole a fearful look at Maverick before his face fell, sniffling deeply.


    “What can we do,” Maverick pressed, voice surprisingly soft.


    Savant crossed his arms over his chest, a game plan already seeming to form in his mind as he looked to the two men in front of him. It had been a while since he had dealt with anyone who was ill while he was on leave without nearly the supplies that he always had on hand at base, but he would make it work, for Rooster and Maverick’s sake.


To Be Continued......

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Omg, this just keeps getting better and better! I loved the moment between Rooster and Mav in the bath. 


I hope you feel better after bring in hospital xx

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/13/2022 at 2:22 PM, spn27695 said:

Omg, this just keeps getting better and better! I loved the moment between Rooster and Mav in the bath. 


I hope you feel better after bring in hospital xx

I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it! I look forward to reading your comments after every chapter! I am feeling a little better and the holiday festivities are helping to keep my spirits up!










    While Maverick was able to get Rooster out of the tub and changed into short and a t-shirt, Savant took to stripping the sheets from Rooster’s bed and replacing them with fresh ones. He tucked the corners of the sheets under the mattress, smiling to himself as he could practically hear an affectionate voice in his ears, teasing him once more.


    “You know that they’re just going to be untucked again, right,” a familiar rumble of a voice joked in Savant’s ear.


    Savant rolled his eyes. “You know I always do this. Hospital corners are always the way to go.”


    A soft chuckle left Savant’s lips as he turned his head to the side, swearing that he could feel that familiar presence, arms wrapped around his waist as Savant let out a tired breath, head bowed and goosebumps sprouting along the back of his arms. Savant felt himself momentarily slipping forward, only to catch himself a moment later, eyes filling with regret as he looked around the unfamiliar room and realizing that this wasn’t the place that he remembered.




    “I do apologize,” Savant began as he pulled the sheets tighter before adding the comforter. He pulled the corners back to allow easier access as he looked to Rooster and Maverick, with the later taking as much of Rooster’s weight as possible despite their obvious height difference.


    Rooster didn’t pay him any mind, though Maverick was eying him curiously.


    Savant stepped back and reached out to grasp Rooster under the arm, taking his weight from Maverick. He helped lower Rooster into the bed, mindful of his sore joints and aching muscles. Once Rooster was propped up against some pillows to aid in his breathing, Savant kneeled down and grasped Rooster’s legs to help swing them onto the bed, the sheet and comforter tucked around him tightly as he began to shiver.


    “If that fever spikes again we may have to remove the blankets,” Savant explained as he passed his hand over Rooster’s forehead once again. “But, we’ll give it some time.”


    Maverick nodded in agreement, unable to conceal a yawn as his jaws forcibly parted. A hazy expression shown on his face and Savant couldn’t help but show him a sympathetic smile.


    “You’ve been up for quite a while, and I know your sleep isn’t easily achievable in the best of circumstances,” Savant began. “How about I sit with Rooster for a bit while you get some sleep downstairs?”


    Maverick immediately straightened, head shaking. “No, I’m good. Thanks for the offer, though.”


    “Ma—av,” Rooster began, falling into a volley of congestion filled hacking a moment later as the name scraped his throat.


    Savant was quick to sit beside him, hands on his shoulders as he hauled him forward and lifted his knee for Rooster to lean against. A few harsh thumps of Savant’s cupped hands on either side of his spine prompted Rooster to bring up a thick glob of blood streaked mucus that left Rooster nearly gagging at the taste.


    “Alright, that’s it.” Savant used a bundle of tissues to clean up a few stray strands of saliva and enclosed the mucus in the tissue and threw it aside.


    “Maybe I should—“


    Savant raised his hand in Maverick’s direction and Maverick stopped talking. Savant was one of the only people that could actually stop Maverick from talking with a single look. Ice would have a field day if he could see that, Savant was sure. Too bad he couldn’t see Maverick now.


    “Mav, Pete, I can take a shift. Rooster will be in good hands for a few hours while you get some rest. We don’t need you catching this too. Dealing with two patients is not quite my idea of a good time, if I can help it.”


    Maverick cast one more look to Rooster, who’s eyes were already beginning to close. His chest fluttered with each breath, catching thickly in his throat. It didn’t prompt another fit, though Savant was ready for it if it did.


    “You going to be okay with Savant for a little while,” Maverick questioned, reluctance echoing in every word.


    Rooster didn’t answer verbally this time, instead he gave his hand a weak flick.


    Savant shot Maverick a look until the man in question raised his hands in defeat. “An hour. You wake me up in an hour.”


    “You have my word.”


    Maverick didn’t call Savant on it, though it appeared like he wanted to. Instead, he turned toward the door and started forward, giving one more look over his shoulder to Rooster before stepping forward and out of the room, the door left ajar in his wake.


    After Maverick left, Rooster shifted, a wince clear on his features. He turned his head to the side to regard Savant, mouth momentarily hanging open only for him to forcibly close it a moment later.


    “Is there something you need? Water or anything?”


    Rooster pondered it for a moment before shaking his head. His hands lifted shakily, hands cupped as he rested them on either sides of his chest. His shoulders and wrists sagged inwards, a look of pure exhaustion on his face.


    “You’re tired? I would certainly expect that. All that coughing certainly isn’t helping.” Savant looked around the room as he made quick work of switching on the small lamp beside Rooster’s side of the bed, while also switching off the overhead one. The room was bathed in a slight glow, not enough to be too jarring so long as Rooster didn’t turn to face it. “That better?”


    Rooster managed a small nod.


    “Try to get some sleep. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but sleep is the best thing for you right now,” Savant continued as he rubbed the side of his face with an open palm.


    Rooster suddenly straightened abruptly and pointed in Savant’s direction. His brow raised curiously, lips parted as if frustrated that he couldn’t force the words from his raw and enflamed throat.


    Luckily, Savant was fluent in sick aviator.


    “I can stay here if you’d like me to, just until you fall asleep,” Savant offered. He couldn’t even count the amount of times that he had sat with soldiers throughout his career, whether it be for physical or mental illness. Long hours were not uncommon for him, and most of the time he wasn’t compensated, but he wouldn’t trade that for anything. His patients were the most important people in his lives, and some patients even more than others.


    Relief shone in Rooster’s eyes as he gave a sniffle, hand coming up to pat the empty place in the bed beside him. His fingers flexed and eased on the spot, chest frightfully heaving with each ragged exhale. Although he would never admit it, having someone watching over him beside him was still a foreign concept, especially after he and Maverick had rekindled all these years, but that had nothing to do with Savant. He had always been there for him in some capacity, pretty much as soon as he joined the Navy and certainly when he had started flying missions. There was nothing that this man wouldn’t do for him, that much Rooster knew, he merely had to ask.


    Savant carried himself over to the open spot on Rooster’s bed and slid forward, pillows properly tucked behind his back to allow him to sit upright. Outstretched legs strained in front of him as he felt a small twinge in his lower back, quickly remedied by shifting over ever so slightly to the left, favoring his right side as he had done numerous times before. Time was not on his side, and neither was his growing age.


    “This alright?”


    Rooster gave a hum of affirmation, head already dipping forward in exhaustion. He caught himself as soon as his head would sag, eyes springing open in alarm.


    “Just rest.” Savant raised his hand and threaded his fingers through Rooster’s hair, blunt nails digging into his scalp in a tender massage. Rooster relaxed against his touch in a way that Savant hadn’t seen since he arrived. Although no doubt still uncomfortable, the touch provided just enough ease to calm him into trying to relax. “I can’t count the number of times I used to do this very same thing for Thunder to get him to sleep. Night after night he’d request it.”


    Rooster peeled his eyes open a fraction to regard Savant curiously.


    Savant chuckled, head shaking gravely.


    “That was before he couldn’t stand my touch.”


    An image of a man hunkered on the other side of a small room, eyes stretched wide in horror as he clawed at his own skin while his legs trembled from under him flashed through Savant’s mind, piercing and painful. A look of pure confusion on his face had sent jolts of heartbreak through Savant’s entire body, horror overwhelming him until he felt as though he may forcibly reject the meager dinner he had consumed a few hours prior.


    It took a furious shake of his head for Savant to break himself out of the hold that memory had on him, fingers continuing to thread through Rooster’s hair, relieved to have something productive to focus on. There was no way that he could let his mind wander when he had a patient to take care of, one that needed him and that relied on him. The same could be said for Maverick, who would never readily admit to needing help, but the first phone call to Savant for help spoke wonders for the concern he had for Rooster. That was certainly something that Savant could not ignore.


    A flash of something silver caught Rooster’s slitted gaze. Curiosity overwhelmed him as he raised his own trembling hand, fingers stretched toward Savant’s neck.


    Savant tensed as Rooster’s thumb grazed the object that laid protected under his shirt. Rooster’s fingers curled around the beaded chain and gave it a sharp tug, forcing Savant to patiently take Rooster’s hand from his neck, while his other hand reached down to pick up the dog tags and pull them from their tucked away hiding place, allowing the warm metal to rest in the middle of his shirt.


    The question was apparent in Rooster’s watery eyes as he eyed Savant, intrigue clear on his face. Chapped lips parted as he sucked in a shallow breath, throat constricting when he swallowed.


    Savant shook his head patiently. “They’re not mine, just as I know you rarely wear yours.” His attention drew past Rooster to the nightstand, where he had caught sight of a glimmer of metal, rested in the corner of the nightstand, bathed under the gentle light from the lamp above.


    Understanding caught in Rooster’s gaze, though his hand continued to trail downward until he could brush his calloused fingers against the warm metal, the divots catching on his toughened skin comfortingly. His aching joints visibly relaxed as he continued to flip the dog tags in his grip, the weight expected and comforting in his grasp.


    Savant watched him continue to fidget with it until realization dawned on him as he lifted the necklace over his head and set the dog tags in Rooster’s grasp, piling the chain in the center of Rooster’s palm. His hands then came down to help Rooster wrap his fingers around it, giving his hand a comforting squeeze.


    “You hold onto that,” Savant whispered with a final tight squeeze of Rooster’s hand.


    Rooster continued to fiddle with the dog tags in his possession, the weight of them familiar, the metal growing cool in his grasp. Side by side he flipped them, tough skin catching on the name that he found there, lips twisted into the slightest of smiles until exhaustion began to take over once more. His head slumped to the side, though he appeared still concerned that when he opened his eyes, Savant may no longer be there.


    Sensing his fear, Savant shifted into yet another more comfortable position that he could hold himself in long term, which wouldn’t cause a flare of pain in his back, nor his legs to go numb.


    “I’m not going anywhere, not so long as you need me here.”


    Savant found himself resuming kneading his fingers against Rooster’s skull as he eyed the younger man fondly as he continued to flip and rub the dog tags between his fingers. There was no recognition in his eyes as his breathing began to slow, despite the congested catch to each breath. Unable to breathe through his nose, his jaw gaped open until he finally found a comfortable position to rest his head, neck craned backwards at a strange angle. There was no doubt in Savant’s mind that he would have a creak in his neck if he stayed that way, though he was hesitant to move Rooster without his expressed permission.


    It didn’t take long for Rooster’s eyes to finally drift close and his movements to still, grip on the dog tags never loosening, though Savant wasn’t about to try to take anything from him at the moment.


    Savant watched on over Rooster’s shoulder, listening intently to his breath and the heaviness that he detected. His fever was no longer raging, fading to a noticeable wave without being scorching. It was something that Savant would have to be wary of and constantly check for signs of danger.


    Time crept on, bringing with it apprehension and restlessness. Savant shifted in place until he could no longer take the stillness, the feeling of apprehension weighing heavily in his gut. Calmness wasn’t something that he had noticed often with Rooster, and certainly not recently despite the added support of having Maverick back in his life.


    Savant stayed at Rooster’s side a little longer until he heard movements from downstairs, the harsh shuffling of feet on the floor and a small clang that echoed from the direction of the kitchen, as though someone had dropped a plate on the hard floor.


    Intrigued, Savant swung his legs over the side of the bed, back arched as he set his feet on the floor. His hands were braced on either side of him as he pushed himself into a sitting position, attention drifting back to Rooster as he let out a small cough in his sleep before growing still, slumber overwhelming him into peacefulness.


    He slipped effortlessly from Rooster’s room, door left cracked. His steps were light and determined as he headed down the stairs to hear the sound of Maverick cursing under his breath. After he turned the corner, he saw the shorter man crouched on the floor, a trash bin in one hand while the other picked up broken, jagged pieces of ceramic that littered the kitchen floor, right beside the sink.


    “Mav? I thought I told you to get some rest?”


    Maverick briefly paused from his cleanup, shoulders tense as he continued a moment later. “I wasn’t aware that I needed your permission to be useful.”


    The sting of his words was not lost on Savant. However, he didn’t feed into it like he knew that Maverick wanted.


    “Let me help.” Savant padded over and dropped down, hands steady as he picked up the larger pieces and set them in the trash softly. A shaky wrist caught the corner of his gaze as he watched Maverick struggle to pick up another piece when his fingers were trembling so furiously that it almost looked as though an electrical current was traveling through his hands.


    Savant reached out and took Maverick’s hands in his own, squeezing them tightly as he began to rub heat back into his digits.


    “When is the last time that you ate?”


    Determination flashed in Maverick’s gaze, though he couldn’t meet Savant’s worried gaze.


    “You’re here to worry about Rooster, not me.”


    “I’m here for whoever needs me, and right now Rooster is sleeping. I would say that makes me perfectly available to look after you as well.”


    Maverick pulled his hands from Savant’s grasp and frowned as he continued his cleanup, movements deliberate despite his shakiness.


    Stifling a sigh, Savant rose to his feet and left Maverick to continue his cleanup, knowing that if he pressed him that nothing good would come of it. Instead, he turned to the fridge, pulling the rightmost door open. Inside there wasn’t too much that he could work with; mostly beer and some half used bottles of condiments. There were a few suspicious looking styrofoam takeout containers of unknown age from various takeout places. Nothing gave off a sickening smell, though Savant was certain he would probably clean out the fridge to make things a little easier for Maverick, just in case.


    Finding nothing of interest in the fridge, Savant turned to the pantry. There was a little more of interest in there with Savant grabbing a can of tomato soup as well as a small packet of rice. He flipped it over to read the expiration date, and was pleased to find it was good for another year.


    ‘What can they possibly put in this that would let it stay good for a year,’ Savant thought as he set the rice aside in favor of the tomato soup can.


    Suddenly, Maverick rose to his feet and set the trash can aside, eyes blinking at the white encroaching on his vision. A hand reached up to press on the back of his forehead.


    “Maverick,” Savant pressed as he ventured over. Strong hands gripped Maverick’s shoulders and he felt himself being steered back into the living room. His heels dug in as he tried to fight it, though Savant was stronger than he would ever give the doctor credit for, stubbornness unable to defeat Savant’s hold as he half led, half forced the shorter man forward.


    The living room was relatively basic with only the couch and one chair as well as a TV across from the couch. A threaded quilt was rested on the back of the couch, which didn’t match with the rest of the decor whatsoever. Savant had never thought of Maverick as a quilt person, but he could be mistaken.


    Savant prompted Maverick to lay back against the armrest of the couch, grabbing the quilt in one swift motion and flourishing it with a flick of his wrist and wrapping it around Maverick’s entire body. The quilt work, green and blue mixed with yellow squares was an almost assault on Savant’s eyes as he was forced to look away from it, pleased that Maverick was finally laying down so he could focus on that instead.


    “I don’t need sleep,” Maverick mumbled, jaw clenched to fight off another yawn.


    “Then maybe you can just humor me and stay out of trouble for the time being.” A glitter of amusement lit in Savant’s eyes as he trailed his fingers against Maverick’s shoulder. “Just for a bit?”


    Maverick let out a mumble that Savant couldn’t catch, eyes fluttering closed and breath evening out.


    Once Savant was sure that Maverick was resting for the time being, he turned back to the kitchen, intent on making Rooster and Maverick a delicious meal.


To Be Continued.....

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Happy Holidays to all.....and to all another chapter! I got out of work early and was able to finish and edit this one pretty quickly to the one prior, so I’m counting that as a win. I hope you all enjoy1








    Hot, red, spreading discomfort lapped at Rooster’s throat. Swallowed saliva was the catalyst to another full body coughing fit. The covers on either side of him were gripped tightly in his fists as he fought for breath, a splatter of something coppery and wet rising in the back of his throat. Saliva began to pool in his mouth when he felt like he was about to be sick, stomach lurching against the taste that flooded through his mouth.


    In a desperate attempt to stave off the feeling, Rooster caught sight of the tissue box on the corner of his nightstand. Two fingers snagged into the small plastic cover, the softness of the thin cloth that he felt there beyond welcomed. A few tissues were pulled free with Rooster bracing himself forward, the tissues held up to his mouth as he gave a final cough, stomach muscles spasming with the force of it.


    Moisture collected on Rooster’s upper lip, saturating his mustache as he managed to spit up a generous amount of bloody sputum. The glob weighed heavy in his palm, and disgust surged through him as he threw the tissues away weakly.


    ‘Damn, am I tired of coughing,’ Rooster thought with a thick sniffle. Mucus collected into the back of his sinuses and throat, making swallowing impossible without feeling as though he may drown. A sharp snuffle may dislodge the troublesome congestion, or it could leave that sickly sweet taste for minutes to hours to come.


    A soft knock sounded on the outside of the door and Rooster lifted his head to see Savant standing at the door, a dinner tray balanced in his hands. A ceramic bowl sat in the middle, billows of steam rising from it. A slice of buttered bread was laid out beside it, polished off with a large glass of orange juice as well as two pills and a generous amount of a thick liquid nestled in a tiny plastic cup, filled practically to the rim.


    “Is it alright if I come in?”


    Not trusting his voice, Rooster nodded, fighting the urge to swallow so that he could try and talk. He hardly trusted his vocal cords anymore, nor did he think that Savant wanted to listen to yet another round of coughing.


    Savant didn’t pay his inability to talk any mind as he continued forward, tray clutched tightly between two steady hands.


    “I know you may not be hungry, but it will do your body good to at least try and eat, especially something that is going to be so soothing on your throat.” Delicately, Savant set the tray on the edge of the nightstand, taking his place beside Rooster. A hand reached into his pocket and produced an under the tongue thermometer, the thin plastic cover removed in one quick motion of Savant’s hand. “Now that you are able to hold this under your tongue, I’d like to check your temperature.”


    Rooster cocked an eyebrow.


    “This is the most accurate way of the methods that I have. It’ll only take a second,” Savant reassured, voice comforting.


    Rooster took the thermometer from Savant and pressed the circle in the center before slipping it under his tongue. This was something that he had done plenty of times, even from his earliest days in the Navy where it seemed like someone was always poking and prodding him for one reason or another. Never Savant. Savant never did anything unless it was necessary instead of for his own curiosity or desire.


    The cool tip caused his tongue to ache helplessly. It took everything in his power not to spit the thermometer back out, to tell Savant with tear filled eyes that he didn’t like the sensation and needed for it to end. His stubbornness and determination was the only thing that kept him from saying anything, instead forcing his throat to constrict as he urged himself not to cough.


    It was only a minute later that the object beeped and Savant took it out his mouth and eyed the reading, just as Rooster began to shove the heel of his palm against his now flaring nostrils, the tickle that had plagued his throat now inching its way deep into his sinuses.


    “Looks like you’re sitting right at—“


    “Hish’Huu! Hsh’Huue!


    Savant heard the messiness behind each sneeze and pulled out a few tissues from the box and pressed them into Rooster’s hand. “102.4. That is definitely a lot lower than before. Gesundheit.”


    Rooster’s face fell as he brought the tissues up to his face, soft Kleenex pressed against his top lip and nose. “Hish’Shuue! Hish’Huee! Hish’Shu’Huue!”


    Savant frowned as Rooster winced after giving a productive blow that left his face red and eyes watering. He gave his nostrils a few more harsh rubs before throwing them away and eying Rooster, eyes round and unblinking. His mouth was forced open to breathe, his nose too swollen and stuffy to even pass the smallest amount of air from his nose.


    “Those sounded painful.” Savant worked his hands together to warm them, wrists wrung together. “Do you mind if I have a feel real quick?”


    All logic in Rooster’s brain was screaming how much he didn’t want Savant to go anywhere near his sinuses, already expecting the blossoming pain to turn into an aggressive throb that would leave him trapped into another frenzied sneezing attack. Having one when he was alone was bad enough; having one under the watchful eyes of Savant was completely different.


    Rooster nodded timidly, though beyond hesitant.


    Savant raised his hands, wrists limp as his fingers crept onto either side of Rooster’s sinuses, palpating the enflamed flesh underneath calloused thumbs. The heat that radiated from them was worrisome, heaviness only adding to the discomfort. Although he wouldn’t make Rooster go through the humiliation of him trying to shine a light inside to see what was really going on, this had to work for the time being. For now this would have to do, and judging by the leap of Rooster’s eyebrows when Savant trailed his thumb on either side of Rooster’s bridge and pressed inwards, that gave Savant all the answers he needed.


    Rooster flinched and clutched his hands into tight fists as he pulled his face free of Savant’s prying fingers, corners of his eyes dripping with tears as he suddenly twisted as far away from Savant as possible, arm partially lifted, hitching breath trembling against his skin.


    “Hiths’Shue! Hish’Huee! Hish’Huue!” Rooster whimpered as the itch flooded his entire face, arching in his palate and scraping the roof of his mouth. A forced cough prompted the tickle to move, just enough to become infuriating as it stirred just under the surface without giving him the release he craved. “Hish’Shuu! Hichs’Huuee! Hish’Hee!” The final sneeze went up in pitch at the end, feeling as though shards of glass were slicing through his throat like a warm knife through butter. The pain was enough for him to instinctively curl away from Savant, despite how freely his nose was now running down his upper lip, making a mess of his mustache.


    “Gesundheit again! I wish I could say something more impactful, though until they come up with another word, I suppose it’ll have to do.”


    Savant grabbed the entire tissue box and passed it over, relieved that Rooster took it without hesitation and tended to his nose, despite the proximity of a man that he was familiar with looking over him.


    It took round after round of tissues until Rooster finally didn’t feel the need to sneeze welling inside of him, nor the pain that continued to throb in his head. Pressure pressed on his skull from the inside, reaching a pitch where he stooped forward with his hands pressing against his eye sockets to try and alleviate the pain.


    “The soup and medication will help with that congestion,” Savant explained as he grabbed the tray and set it on Rooster’s outstretched legs once he leaned back. “Eat first and then you can have another round of meds.”


    Rooster eyed the offered soup in from of him, the deep orange almost reddish color with squares of hardened pieces of bread bobbing along the surface. Even through his helplessly clogged nose, he could smell the sweet undertones, which was extremely enticing. Mouth watering, Rooster grabbed the nearest spoon and slipped it into the soup.


    His movements were unsteady as he lifted the spoon to his lips and took a generous sip, surprised when a flash of flavor exploded across his tongue. There was also something gritty there as well, something solid for him to chew on besides the pieces of bread. He swallowed the soup rather quickly and looked to Savant for confirmation.


    “Rice,” Savant supplied with a nod. “Maverick didn’t have too much that I could make, but tomato rice soup is what I always used to make for Thunder. He never told me he hated it....though he could’ve just been saving my feelings.”


    Rooster shook his head as he took another spoonful, scraping it on the bottom of the ceramic bowl to bring up more chunks of rice with soup spilling around it. Each bite felt like a burst of comforting warmth to his heart, momentarily numbing the rest of the pain that he felt throughout his entire body. There was no doubt in his mind that the pain would come rushing to the forefront of his mind once he finished, yet until then, this was doing a good enough job distracting him.


    Under the watchful eye of Savant, Rooster finished half of his bread and nearly all of the soup. It was true fullness that stopped him as he gingerly pushed the bowl away, a hand curling around the tissue box and bringing out a few more tissues to wipe the undersides of his runny nose swiftly before it could run anymore and cause an even bigger display.


    Savant expertly nudged the soup aside and grabbed two blueish green oblong pills, smooth on the center of his palm. They rolled back and forth in Savant’s cupped hand, the familiar weight of them transporting him back when he would administer medication around the clock to soldiers on base. It was never usually something as mundane as flu medication, through the intent was still the same: to reduce pain and discomfort whenever possible.


    “This should help with the fever and body aches, as well as some of your other symptoms. Now, I was going to give you the nighttime version to help you sleep, but we don’t want to accidentally mess up your sleep schedule when this is over.” Savant took Rooster’s hand in his own and tilted his wrist to the side, the pills rolling from his palm onto Rooster’s. Rooster eyed them curiously, despite what Savant had just told him about them. “They won’t be a cure all but it’ll be the closest we can get.”


    Rooster tilted his wrist, the pills rolling back and forth in time with his movements. His fever filled gaze met Savant’s calm and stoic expression before they were tossed into the back of Rooster’s throat, and swallowed greedily with a few gulps of orange juice. They slid down his throat without much trouble, momentarily stalling on the way down, only to dislodge when Rooster took another few greedy sips.


    “Good,” Savant praised as he lifted the small plastic cup of gelatinous liquid. “I’m not a fan of cough suppression, especially in your case, but this should loosen the mucus and make it easier for you to bring it up.”


    Rooster eyed the cup warily, nose wrinkled at the very prospect of tasting the sour tang of cough syrup. The way that it made his sinuses itch and the feel of it slowly dripping down the back of his throat had always been a revolting sensation that Rooster always attempted to avoid. He couldn’t remember taking it since he had joined the Navy, deeming the potential benefits unable to outweigh the frustrating after effects.


    “With your congestion, I doubt you’ll be able to taste it,” Savant continued when Rooster didn’t immediately bring it up to his lips.


    Rooster set his jaw defiantly, gaze turned to the side.


    Savant couldn’t stop a small chuckle from leaving his throat as he nudged the cup closer to Rooster. “I will not force you, though I am certain that if you don’t take it, any sleep you manage to get will be interrupted by coughing. That will be your choice.”


    Rooster’s shoulders sagged as the realization dawned on him. He had already spent so much time coughing these last couple days, enough that his abdominal muscles ached with each breath, and his ribs felt like they were being pulled apart every time he coughed. None of those things were anything that he wanted to let Savant know, though, something told him that the older doctor may have already had a sinking suspicion about the discomfort he was in.


    With a final sigh, Rooster picked up the cup and brought it up to his lips. His lips parted just enough to allow the liquid down, eyes widening at the tang that he was able to feel on his tongue. It took a couple moments before he could force himself to swallow, the taste not lost on him no matter how congested he was. He made a face as he set the cup down, already feeling a burn through the bridge of his nose that was impossible to stave off even with the most frustrating of rubs.


    Savant handed him back the tissue box, watching as Rooster picked a few out before cupping them around his nose desperately. “Hish’Huu! Hitch’Hue! Hisch’Huee! Hicshh’Huue!


    “Bless you,” Savant murmured as Rooster blew his nose, frowning at how remarkably unproductive it had been. “You’re not the only one that has that reaction when it comes to cough medicine.”


    Rooster shot him a pointed look as he dabbed along his mustache worriedly.


    “Don’t tell anyone I told you this.....” Savant leaned forward towards Rooster’s ear, despite them being the only two awake in the house. “But the same happens to Maverick. I think he can suppress it now, but as soon as he takes any kind of liquid cold medicine or cough syrup, it sends him on a rather impressive fit.”


    Rooster’s eyes glowed in amusement, mouth moving to form the word ‘really’ without speaking.


    Savant nodded fondly. “Oh yes. He will never admit it, but it most certainly happens. It’s fairly common, though even I don’t quite know why. That wasn’t something they felt the need to teach in medical school.”


    The idea of Maverick having the same struggle, that anything could make him sneeze as helplessly as he had been doing lately, somehow made Rooster relax in a way that he hadn’t been able to do lately. Sure, it wasn’t exactly that interesting, but Rooster would take what he could get while he had Savant around to tell him about the somewhat embarrassing stuff that Maverick would never be willingly to share.


    As much as Rooster longed to ask more about Maverick, the warmth of the soup and the medication was beginning to take hold. His eyes felt heavy, his movements sluggish as he looked at Savant. He tried to keep his attention on the doctor beside him, finding his thoughts wandering more than he would’ve liked.


    “I see it’s working,” Savant assessed, relief shinning in his eyes. “I know it may not feel like it, but sleep is the best thing for you. You need to get as much of it as your body will allow to help fight the worst of your symptoms.”


    Rooster struggled not to give a roll of his eyes. It seemed that he had only been sleeping since Savant arrived. Then again, it wasn’t like he had energy for much else, and if he was sleep, he didn’t need to worry about sneezing, coughing, or just feeling as run down and sick as he did now. Perhaps sleep wasn’t the enemy that he was making it out to be.


    It didn’t take long for Rooster to shift back, and found a comfortable position where his head was still reclined without him sitting at an upright angle. His arms laid lax at his side, chest constricting with each breath. He kept his eyes open as long as he could, focused on Savant, who was still sitting beside him, watching him but not overly intently. It was comforting if Rooster was being honest.


    Savant stayed where he was until Rooster’s breathing evened out, with a slight catch in it every now and again. After he knew that Rooster had fallen into the most comfortable sleep he possibly could given his illnesses, that was when he slowly rose to his feet.


    “Sleep well, Baby Goose,” Savant murmured, echoing the same name that he had heard Maverick and Ice call Rooster, usually when he couldn’t hear. It was a little name of endearment, a soft phrase that Savant could utter to push Rooster’s subconscious into an even deeper state of being and hopefully lull him into a deeper plane of sleep. It was a long shot, that much Savant knew, but he wasn’t opposed to trying new things to help his patients.


    Savant started down the long hallway, feet softly colliding with the floor deliberately. Flood boards creaked at the edge of the stairs, and his movements stilled as he looked over his shoulder to make sure that it didn’t wake Rooster. When there was no shifting or footsteps following, Savant let out a deep breath and continued downstairs into the darkness, taking a moment to allow his eyes to adjust before walking back into the kitchen to the mess that he had left behind in favor of serving Rooster as soon as possible.


    What time was it? Night? Morning? Early evening? Savant couldn’t find it within himself to even care. He was on leave for the next two weeks, and while this was certainly not quite how he had been expecting to spend it, he always preferred company of those that he cared for instead of walking around vacantly in his own house, longing for the man that he had fallen in love with to share it with him.


    Those thoughts were immediately pushed away when he heard the sound of blankets rustling from the living room. Although knowing that it had to be Maverick, intrigue still stalled his movements until realization dawned on him.


    ‘Maverick would never say it,’ Savant thought. ‘But I’m sure he’s hungry too. Even if he’s not, he needs to eat.’


    It only took a minute more of milling through the kitchen for Savant to find another bowl. He grasped the large ladle that still sat in the middle of the soup, and gave it a few stirs in a counterclockwise motion before pooling a generous amount of soup and rice into the ladle and filled the bowl that he had clasped in his opposite hand halfway, careful not to lose his grip on the bowl. After Savant was pleased at the amount of soup, he popped it into the microwave on low, intent on watching the bowl slowly turn in the center of the microwave, the light illuminating just enough within to allow Savant a clear look.


    Savant pulled on the door of the microwave when one second remained, not wanting the beep from the microwave to fill the otherwise relatively quiet space. Perhaps it was more out of habit than anything else, and one that he wasn’t quite willing to break. He forwent bread in favor of filling Maverick with something of more nutritional barrel, where with Rooster he had hopeful to coax him into eating anything.


    The heat from the bowl seared into the pads of Savant’s fingers as he shifted for a better hold, one that wouldn’t allow for the liquid to slosh over the sides. He stopped in front of the silverware drawer and pulled out a soup spoon, surprised beyond words that Maverick actually had one in his kitchen. Pure adrenaline propelled him forward as he continued toward the living room, and once he peeked his head around the corner, he saw that Maverick was still half asleep, sprawled with one of his legs hanging off the couch while the other was bent towards his chest. His arms were thrown over his head while his neck was twisted at an awkward angle, head pressed against the corner of the couch, mouth hanging open as he snored. It hardly looked peaceful; if anything Savant wanted to wake him just so that he did’t wake up with a sore neck or worse.


    Savant set his tray down and stooped over Maverick, hand outstretched to nudge his shoulder lightly. “Mav...Maverick. You need to eat something. We need to keep your strength up.”


    With a tired groan, Maverick reluctantly opened his eyes and stretched his arms farther over his head in a long stretch. His back creaked as he smacked his lips together, bridge of his nose wrinkling a he sniffed. “Savant, can’t you make up your mind? Sleep or food?”


    A wry smile encroached on Savant’s face as he lifted the tray and set the tray on Maverick’s lap once he shifted into a sitting position. “I know you’re used to TV dinners, and it’s not much, but hopefully it’s to your liking.”


    Maverick ducked his head forward hesitantly, sniffing at the bowl. “Tomato soup?”


    “Tomato soup and rice.”


    Despite the clear agitation that had been on Maverick’s face a moment prior, it began to fade as he faced the bowl in front of him. “You used to make this for Thunder. I remember him talking about that.”


    Savant couldn’t recall when Thunder would’ve possibly told Maverick about this, especially towards the end.....now that was something that Savant was not ready to confront.


    “It certainly isn’t that enjoyable, but it’s filling.” Savant tipped his head to the side as Maverick slipped the spoon into the soup and took a few ravenous bites, a dribble of liquid trailing from the corner of his mouth and streaming down his chin. Maverick swiped it away with the back of his hand, too tired to feel any sort of embarrassment over it.


    Between gulps, Maverick glanced back at the doctor. “How’s Rooster?”


    “He ate and he’s resting again, which is the best thing for him.” Savant took a seat beside Maverick on the couch and arched backwards, arms over his head until he felt a small strain in his lower back. “Liquids and sleep will be his best friend until his body starts to fight his illness.”


    While Maverick took another sip of soup, his back muscles contracted as he grimaced, the discomfort clear on his face. “I don’t know what we would’ve done if you didn’t show up.”


    “You would’ve figured it out. You don’t give yourself enough credit.”


    Maverick waved him off. “I’m far from a doctor. Unless you’re a jet engine, I’m probably not your guy.”


    Realizing that there was nothing that Savant could say to reassure Maverick of his inadequacies, Savant pressed his palms to his knees and stood.


    “Do you think you can handle things for a little while here while I go home and take a shower and change?” Savant picked up the collar of his shirt and gave a shake of his head. “I’m afraid I didn’t quite think through what I was wearing when I came over here.”


    Part of Maverick wanted to beg Savant to stay, to make sure that Rooster was truly safe from fever spikes or the possibility of him not being able to breathe thanks to the fluid in his lungs. He forced those thoughts to the back of his mind, pleading with himself not to go down that road of thinking. He had been taking care of Rooster for decades, even when Rooster hadn’t appreciated it. If he could deal with that, surely this would be no different.


    After Maverick finished as much of the soup as he could stomach, he reached over and set the tray down on the coffee table, blanket thrown from his legs as he swung himself over the side of the couch.


    “We’ll be fine. Thanks so much for coming.”


    “It was no problem.” Savant lifted his wrist and spun his watch around, fingers tapping on the screen to wake it up. “I’ll be back in a couple hours with some food and more orange juice. Is there anything else you’d like me to bring back?”


    “No, that should be plenty. Thanks, Sav.”


    Savant gave a dip of his head and headed toward the door, attention still drawn behind him in case Maverick changed his mind about needing something. When that wasn’t the case, he pulled on his shoes and tossed on his jacket, arms shifting to the ends so that his cuffs rested around his wrists. A flat palm rested on the front door with Savant leaning his full weight against it, thoughts drawn back to the sick man upstairs and the equally terrified man in the living room.


    ‘I can’t do anything more for them until I’ve taken care of myself. They’ll be fine until I get back,’ Savant told himself as he used his other hand to turn the knob and slip out of Maverick’s house, worried about what he may find when he came back.


To Be Continued.....

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Just now, spn27695 said:

Awhh such a cute few moments. Love how Savant and Mav are working together xx

And Savant calling Rooster Baby Goose🥰😭 too cute!!

(Happy Christmas if yiu celebrate 🎄🐧)

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23 hours ago, spn27695 said:

Awhh such a cute few moments. Love how Savant and Mav are working together xx


23 hours ago, spn27695 said:

And Savant calling Rooster Baby Goose🥰😭 too cute!!

(Happy Christmas if yiu celebrate 🎄🐧)

Awe I’m so glad that you like that touch! I didn’t want it to come across that Savant was treading over Maverick’s territory in saying it, but I thought that moment warranted it. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and enjoy this next part!









    Maverick was just finishing washing the dishes when he heard staggering steps behind him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up in alarm as he immediately dropped the half washed soup bowl and dried his hands on his pants, instinct leading him forward and through the hallway to find an unsteady Rooster leaning against the wall with a blanket draped around his shoulders.


    “Roo, what are you doing out of bed,” Maverick chided with no real anger in his voice. He rushed to the younger man’s side, arm wrapping around his waist as he lifted Rooster’s arm to hook around Maverick’s shoulders. Maverick rested a hand on Rooster’s broad chest to stop him from leaning forward.


    The tightness under Maverick’s fingers was worrying, the shuddering, whistling breath that enunciated each exhale caused bile to rise in Maverick’s throat. Never before had he heard anyone breathe like that, let alone the man that he had practically raised.


    ‘That’s not true,’ a voice in his head screamed. ‘Ice.....’


    Maverick gave his head a fierce shake as though that would dislodge the memories until the sound of Ice’s violent coughing fits would no longer ring in his ears. Allowing his thoughts to go down that path would never lead to anything good.




    “Okay, let’s get you to the couch before you fall down.” Maverick took each step surely, making sure that Rooster copied his movements. The last thing that he needed was to walk quicker than Rooster and risk the man in question’s balance.


    Rooster twisted his head to the side and coughed, lips pressed fiercely together not to let any air out. His Adam’s apple convulsed with each attempt not to cough, tears pooling in his eyes at the strain.


    Maverick narrowed his eyes and filtered his right hand to the side of Rooster’s neck and gave his throat a harsh prob in the hollow his throat. The sudden jarring pressure had Rooster immediately losing his battle with the fit that he was doing rather well to contain. Warm breath flashed across Maverick’s face, despite Rooster’s quick attempts to turn away to avoid coughing on Maverick’s face.


    “That’s better,” Maverick chided as he continued to help Rooster forward as he coughed, the defeating tone of each hack ringing in Maverick’s ears, despite his godson’s best attempts to turn away.


    When they finally made it to the couch, Maverick set Rooster down with a tired groan. He sat upright for a few moments until Maverick nudged him into a half sitting, half laying down position, so that he was able to breathe easier while not sitting completely up.


    “Do you want something to eat? Or drink? We need to keep your strength up.”


    Once Rooster managed to control his coughing, he looked around the room curiously, a look of confusion clear on his face. While the one that Rooster was looking for hadn’t been given an easier name that he could sign, he managed to sign an ‘S’ while looking to Maverick expectantly.


    Giving a nod in understanding, Maverick sat down beside him, feeling the strain in his lower back. “Savant went home to get some sleep and some real food. He’ll be back in a couple hours. Until then you’re stuck with me.”


    Rooster grimaced. “N—ot st—uck.”


    “I appreciate the sentiment, but I know Savant is much better at this stuff than me.” Maverick gave Rooster a reassuring squeeze just as he heard the doorbell ring.


    Rooster immediately straightened upon hearing it, clearly already falling into a familiar stupor that the Navy had trained him well for. Although exhaustion was etched in every line on his face, he forced himself to be as proper as possible, calm, cool, and collected as ever.


    Maverick gave Rooster a wave to stay where he was as he headed down the hallway to his front door. He checked the time on his watch as he went. 10:18 a.m. It didn’t feel that late, or early in the morning. In fact, time felt like an obscure concept, like sand slipping through his fingers as he desperately tried to hold on. The feeling faded when he reached out for the front door, easily easing it open to find a small group standing on his front porch.


    “Hangman? Bob? Phoenix, what are you doing here?”


    Bob held up a bag awkwardly while Phoenix lifted a pot earnestly. “We heard that Rooster wasn’t coming in today and how sick he was and thought that he might like something,” Phoenix replied.


    Maverick rubbed a hand against the side of his face, suddenly aware of how bad he probably looked. While he wasn’t exactly vain when it came to his appearance, he was certain that his soldiers didn’t expect to see him in shorts and a t-shirt, running on an hour sleep and worrying over Rooster.


    He had half the sense to invite them in before realizing how much Rooster wouldn’t appreciate that. The last thing that he wanted was for anyone to see him in his current state. However, it was too late for him to close the door in their faces, not to mention rude, so he stayed where he was and shifted embarrassingly, doing his best to disguise it.


    “I’m sure he’ll appreciate it, guys, thanks.” Maverick reached out his hands and took the offered food, shifting it between his arms to make sure that he didn’t end up dropping anything. The last thing that he wanted was to make another spectacle of himself.


    “How’s Rooster doing,” Bob broke in, a concerned glint shinning in his gaze. Bob had grown much closer to Rooster in these past couple months, their relationship flourishing as Rooster took interest in looking out for Bob, and always remembered to include him just like the other pilots.


    Maverick shrugged as though that would give them the answer they needed. “He’s doing about as well as can be expected. Savant was here and—“


    “Savant like the medic?” Hangman quickly collected himself after Maverick shot him a glare, a wiry smile on his face. “I mean the doctor? I didn’t know he did house calls. Maybe I should give him a call every now and again when I need to get out of something.” He gave Bob a knowing nudge in the ribs with his elbow while Bob huffed in exasperation.


    Phoenix rolled her eyes and jabbed her elbow into Hangman’s ribs like he had done to Bob, causing the man to shift away from her and wrap an arm around his middle. “Savant is Maverick’s friend, dumbass! Why else do you think he’d come when he was on leave?”


    Maverick let it go, deciding that it wouldn’t do anyone any good if they knew the reality of his relationship with Savant. Somethings were best left alone, even to the imagination of some overactive service members.


    “Well, we just wanted to drop this off,” Bob continued as he gave Hangman a nudge. “Tell him we hope he feels better.”


    “I certainly will. Thanks, guys.”


    Phoenix gave him a slight smile before turning to push Hangman the other way with the help of Bob as the two of them muttered about Hangman’s earlier comments. Maverick could still hear them, though it brought warmth to his heart more than he cared to admit to see the three of them. Having someone care about Rooster the same way that he did, even if they expressed things a little differently, was always appreciated in a family that had lost so much.


    Maverick closed the door behind him, the weight of the items in his hands nearly forcing him to stumble sideways into the wall. He managed to catch himself against the wall, finding a better grip as he made his way down the hall back to the kitchen.


    ‘Savant will be relieved to see this,’ Maverick thought as he set the bagged food on the counter, hand shifting so that he could set the pot down beside them. He leaned over to pull the lid from the top and took in the meaty and hearty scent that wafted from it. Chunks of potatoes bobbed along the surface, and it took all of Maverick’s self control not to reach his hand in and steal a small taste on the tip of his fingers.


    He reluctantly drew back from it and took the fruit punch juice that they had given and set it in the fridge for later, thankful for the sweetness and calories that it would bring to keep Rooster’s strength up. It may not have been something that he usually drank, but now was no better time than any to coax him to try new things.


    The other snacks were some of Rooster’s favorites: peanut butter protein bars, ramen, different seasoning packets, and even chocolate pudding from several MREs. Maverick shook his head as he set them all aside for later, and made a quick note to call Savant later and tell him that he didn’t need to stop for anything more, not that he fully expected the other man to comply, though it was worth a shot.


    After everything was put away, Maverick was just about to run upstairs to take a shower when he heard movements from the living room. He thought that it was just Rooster shifting around, trying to find a more comfortable position to sleep in, when he recognized the whine and cry that left his lips instead of just the bunching of blankets or the creak of the couch.


    “Roo?” Maverick crept into the living room to see the young man beginning to thrash in his sleep, the covers bunched down by his waist until a final kick managed to throw the blankets aside. A sheen of sweat had settled over his features, which twisted as his head tossed from side to side, lips parted as he whimpered. His back suddenly arched as he slammed his fist down on the side of the couch with a sickening crunch.




    Maverick rushed forward and kneeled over him just as he began to make out the words that Rooster was choking out.


    “No.....n-n-no! Da-ad. Da—ad....pl—se.” Tears began to roll down Rooster’s cheeks as he thrashed, pure helplessness stretched across his face. Furiously, both ankles flexed against the end of the couch, heels digging in with the force of it allowing his back to arch off the couch easily as he wailed, sore throat partially stifling the sound. “Pl—se do-n’t l-lea—ve....m—e.”


    Maverick’s heart broke when he heard Rooster’s cry, not knowing whether he was crying for Goose or Ice. To him it didn’t matter; pain was pain and there was no tiptoeing around it. All those repressed thoughts, all those desperate memories came rushing back to the surface. There was certainly no hiding from them now.


    “Rooster? Rooster, it’s Maverick. You have to listen to me.” Maverick came over to the edge of the couch and sat beside him, careful that his hip wouldn’t accidentally touch Rooster and make things worse. “Rooster, you’re having a nightmare. Whatever you’re seeing isn’t real.”


    Rooster’s head continued to thrash from side to side, tears, mucus, and sweat mixing together on his face under a blanket of wetness; not even Maverick could tell where any of it was really coming from.


    Suddenly, Rooster lifted his hands in the air in an almost clawing motion, fingers flexed and heels of his palms shoved upwards. “D-ad,” he croaked. “Pl—es.”


    “Shhh. Shhh.” Maverick drew his hand over Rooster’s shoulders, debating whether or not to risk touching him as his hands hovered. He could hear Ice’s voice in his head, whispering assurances.


    ‘You can’t let him continue like this,’ the voice of Ice hissed. ‘He’s only going to cause himself more pain.’


    Agitation flashed in Maverick’s eyes as he snapped his head over his shoulder, teeth bared. “I know, I know, okay? I know!” He instantly looked back to Rooster and made a split second decision, hand coming down to grip Rooster’s wrist, the racing pulse piercing against his fingertips.


    “Bradley,” Maverick began with tears in his own eyes, doing everything in his power not to break alongside of him. “Bradley, please, you need to wake up. Okay, open those eyes for me.”


    Rooster didn’t pull his hand free, but he continued to wither in Maverick grasp, his voice piecing despite his sickness. He didn’t need to use words to yell, not when Maverick could see and hear the pain in every whimper, every thrash of Rooster’s body.


    “Rooster!” Maverick gave his head a shake to clear it as he lifted Rooster’s hand and brought it up to his own chest, pressing Rooster’s palm flat against his chest. Maverick willed the steady thump of his heartbeat to register something in Rooster’s mind, even if the feel of it was just enough to put his mind at ease for a few moments.


    While Maverick ran calloused fingers over Rooster’s hand while still holding it steady on his heart, Rooster finally began to calm down. There was still pain in his voice when he started to whimper, the hold the nightmare had on him still very much apparent. Each time Rooster took in a breath, Maverick winced, ready for another wave of terror to take hold of the younger man.


    Sighing, Maverick bowed his head when Rooster’s hands finally stilled and his legs no longer thrashed. No words left his parted lips, only congested snores. That much Maverick could deal with without a problem.


    “That’s it, Baby Goose. Come back to me,” Maverick urged as he gingerly took Rooster’s hand from his chest and gave each finger a gentle squeeze in turn, the tension that had been there a couple minutes ago finally beginning to fade. There was no telling how long that would last, and Maverick feared it wouldn’t last nearly as long as he wanted it to, but he would take small victories when he could get them. Small victories were better than no victories at all.


    Part of Maverick wanted to rush for his phone and call Savant to tell him exactly what had happened. He knew that he could tell the doctor anything and Savant would be there momentarily, dropping everything that he was doing whether it be showering or sleeping to help. As much as Maverick wished for that to happen, he knew that he couldn’t. He should be able to handle Rooster for a while for Savant to get some much needed rest. He had been doing it for countless years now, this sickness should be no different.


    Maverick’s heart rate finally began to slow when Rooster fell back into a deeper sleep, chest rising and falling slowly with each ragged breath. A small shiver rushed up his arms, hairs standing on end followed by a sprouting of goosebumps.


    “Are you cold?” Maverick reached for the blanket that Rooster had kicked off during his plight and pulled it back up, tucking the corners under Rooster’s chin. “That should feel better? Can’t decide if you’re hot or cold, huh?”


    Rooster gave no answer, not that Maverick expected him to, as he smiled once more so that only the rise and fall of his chest showed that he was alive. It was much shallower than Maverick was used to, and it took a few seconds for Maverick to confirm that Rooster was breathing so that he could fully relax.


    There was nothing else that Maverick could imagine doing, despite wishing that he could take a shower and get some rest besides a few stolen minutes of sleep. Despite his feelings, Maverick couldn’t leave Rooster’s side at the moment. His own comfort meant nothing compared to Rooster’s.


    “I’m going to be right here beside you,” Maverick told him, voice barely above a whisper. “You don’t need to worry about a thing. I’m here and I’ll always be here.”


To Be Continued.....

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Awhh, Rooster calling out for Mav in his sleep🥺❤️

And Mav thinking of Ice with how ill Rooster sounds, gosh both of them are really suffering. 

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On 12/27/2022 at 8:09 PM, spn27695 said:

Awhh, Rooster calling out for Mav in his sleep🥺❤️

And Mav thinking of Ice with how ill Rooster sounds, gosh both of them are really suffering. 

I definitely turned the angst up in that part and the next chapter will contain a lot as well, but I promise that it gets fluffier. I hope you like it!



Warning for mentions and depictions of needles and IVs to please be aware before you read!







    Savant stepped out of the shower, water streaming down his back from his damp hair. He gripped a folded towel on the edge of his sink and brought it up to his hair, vigorously rubbing the fibers back and forth against his hair until it was no longer dripping. Luckily, he kept it rather short and neat most of the time, opting for a one on the back and sides with a fade breaching the back and sides to make the transition not as harsh. An inch or two on top was his preferred length, though now his hair had grown out considerably. In fact, it was probably time to head back to the barber shop and let Cecil work his magic before he was called back from leave.


    After Savant had rigorously dried his hair, leaving the hairs on top sticking up in unruly tufts, he reached for his comb and got to work. Nearly every hair was in place when he heard his cellphone ring from his bedroom. It took Savant a few moments to compose himself before he sped out of the bathroom, not caring that he was walking around nude. There was no one to see him after all, considering that he lived alone, so thoughts of modesty wasn’t something he had to consider momentarily.


    Savant picked up the phone and didn’t need to read the caller ID to have a good sense of who was calling. “Savant speaking.”


    ‘I didn’t want to call you, but Rooster had a pretty difficult nightmare and now his breathing is shallow.’


    “It’s no problem at all. Is he coughing or is there a wheeze in his lungs? Not in his throat but lungs.”


    There was a shuffling on the other end and Savant gave him all the time he needed, holding the phone against his shoulder and ear while he began to thread his fingers through his hair in an attempt to control the wayward hairs that stubbornly refused to stay down.


    ‘It’s in his lungs....I think. Shit! I didn’t want to call.....you’ve done so much for us already and it’s your leave and—


    “Maverick,” Savant interrupted, voice rising in pitch to force a note of sternness in his tone. “Calm down. I’ll be there within the hour. If you can, help him sit up and keep him coughing if he needs to. That may be able to clear his lungs. Also, don’t try and move him as that may make things worse. Can you do that?”


    ‘Yeah, I can.’


    “Alright, I’ll see you soon.”


    He hung up a moment later and took his way back into the bathroom, hair still being vigorously dried by the towel. So much for getting some sleep.




    Maverick began to pace through the living room, swaying from one side of the room to another. Periodically he would steal a glance back at Rooster, frowning when he heard his breath catch and he started on another round of harsh coughing. His instincts told him that he should give him something else to soothe his throat and lungs, but he realized that he didn’t know what Savant had already given him and when he had taken it. A soft curse left his mouth as he lifted a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, fingers sliding into the inner chasms of his eyes as he squeezed.


    A final soft knock on the front door pulled Maverick attention and he raced down the hall and swung the front door wide open, relieved and surprised to see Savant standing with an oxygen tank rolling behind him, as well as a bag that was slung over his shoulders. If anything he looked ready for a shift at base and not paying them a friendly visit.


    Maverick gulped and stepped aside, unable to form words to convey the worry that now rose inside of him. Medicine and hot showers were one thing; it was quite another when they started having to entertain the idea of IVs and oxygen.


    Savant didn’t even say anything as he made his way in and headed directly for Rooster, Maverick following a few paces behind as his heart hammered in his chest. He watched intently as Savant snapped his fingers in Maverick’s direction to take his attention from the fear in his own head.


    “Do you still have that IV pole from when Ice was having those infusions,” Savant questioned as he pulled the saline bag from his over the shoulder bag and began to warm it in his hands, the liquid sloshing back and forth with each light squeeze of his fingers.


    Maverick gave a timid nod and pulled away, padding over to the back closet where he had stuck all of Ice’s medical supplies such as his IV pole and wheelchair, hopeful to never have to see and deal with it again. It brought with it so many painful memories, many of which Maverick wasn’t prepared to confront.


    While Maverick grabbed the pole, Savant pulled all the supplies he needed for the IV and set them on the coffee table after he laid down a sanitary cloth.


    “Alright, Rooster, I won’t lie this won’t be overly pleasant, but I’ll try to be as gentle as I can.” Savant sat beside Rooster and grabbed his left hand and tapped two fingers rapidly against the dorsal arch veins, the thin vein rising to attention under Rooster’s skin. “I think that I can pin this one down.” Gloves were pulled on next, the material molding to his hands perfectly as he pulled them down and over each finger. The IV needle was pulled from the plastic that encased it and he held it delicately over Rooster’s vein, holding it down with one finger as he slid the tip right under the surface until he felt the needle pierce the vein. Rooster’s bottom lip curled, though he didn’t open his eyes, which Savant counted as a good sign.


    Savant pulled the needle free and kept the IV before grasping a saline flush. He squeezed on the syringe and watched a squirt of saline gush from the top before he felt comfortable attaching it to the end of Rooster’s IV. He pulled back and was pleased to find a return of blood before pushed forward, the saline cleaning the line nicely. Once he unscrewed the flush, he grabbed a roll of tape and tore a few strips and taping the IV in place. If Rooster really wanted to, he could easily tear it out, though that may stop him momentarily.


    When Maverick returned wheeling a hospital style IV pole, Savant gave him a reassuring smile. “Sorry to be so curt earlier when I came in. I wanted to set this up as soon as I got in. Extra fluids never hurt.”


    Maverick stared pointedly at the IV in Rooster’s hand as Savant hung the bag and connected it to the IV, gaze watching as the liquid dripped slowly down the tube an into Rooster’s vein.


    “One thing done and now to the oxygen.” Savant kept his gloves on as he grabbed the portable oxygen tank and connected the winding tube to the mask. He passed the mask over his hand to feel the puff of air within before lifting it around Rooster’s face and securing it over his nose and mouth, the thin elastic slid around his head to rest against the back of his ears as comfortably as possible.


    Rooster let out a tired mumble and tried to batter it away. Savant was quicker, however, and took Rooster’s wrist in his grasp and set it down, watching to make sure that Rooster’s hands didn’t immediately go for the IV either. It was something they would both have to watch, especially with his fever and less than clear mind.


    “And this’ll help with his breathing?”


    “It should. We don’t want him to become too reliant on it of course, but any oxygen saturation we can make sure he has I’ll appreciate.” Savant pulled the blue tinged gloves from his hands and tossed them on his pile of other discarded supplies, tucking the plastic casings and saline flush in the sterile cloth and wrapping it up to throw it away in the trash.


    Maverick stayed at Rooster’s side, eyes locked on the rise and fall of Rooster’s chest, the brief stall of breath as horrifying as the light coughs that nearly always followed. His breathing was finally deeper than it had been previously, the oxygen also helping to take the edge off of his wheezing. Maverick wouldn’t be completely relaxed until there was no more crackle or whistle in his breathing, but this did take things in at least a positive direction.


    Savant came back into the room from the kitchen and flicked his head back to the kitchen. “Who brought all that,” he questioned fondly.


    Maverick turned, a small smile on his face. “Hangman, Bob, and Phoenix if you can believe it.”


    “Oh, I certainly can believe it.” Savant closed the gap between them and sat on the foot of the couch, attention still on Rooster in case he made a grab for his mask or IV again. “I meant to stop for food, but after I got your call....I thought it best to come here first and worry about food later.”


    Maverick raised a hand and kneaded the tight muscles on the back of his neck, a lump rising in his throat. “Sorry about that. I know I keep calling and all you wanted was rest.”


    Savant raised his hand to cut him off, gaze patient until Maverick stopped talking. “What I need is to make sure everyone around me is taken care of. That’s what I need, Maverick. Trust me, I’ll let you know when I absolutely need a break.”


    A smile that didn’t quite make it to Maverick’s eyes grew on his face once more. His hands rung together, careful not to actually disturb Rooster in the process as he cracked each finger in turn. The younger man was dozing off as peacefully as possible, the IV slowly dripping down through the line into the delicately placed needle in his hand, oxygen hissing with each breath he took.


    “He’s getting better.”


    Maverick’s head snapped back in Savant’s direction. Confusion flashed across his face, lips pursed in a slight frown. “How the hell do you know that?”


    Savant leaned closer, face expressionless. There was something lurking just behind his eyes, though Maverick feared he would never be able to pick out exactly what that was. He wanted to ask Savant what he was thinking, what that look meant, but he knew he would never receive that answer. He may be the closest friend that Savant had, but there were things about Savant, about his past, that Maverick would never know, and he had made peace with that. This, however, wasn’t one of those times he could just let things go.


    “Sav, please.”


    “His body is fighting it,” Savant replied after a moment, voice hoarse. “You can tell. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but he’s fighting to the best of his ability. You should be more concerned when the body no longer does.”


    “Just like....” Maverick trailed off, jaws snapping shut with a startling crack. He adverted his gaze almost instantly, swearing under his breath about how stupid he had been.


    Savant drew back sharply. His face was still as emotionless as before despite the almost haunted look he had behind his eyes. Just when Maverick wanted to cut in, to say he didn’t mean it, he realized that it was beyond his power to do so. His curiosity often got the best of him, and without Ice to reign him back, it often went unchecked.


    “That is different,” Savant reminded with surprising patience. “This is a chest infection....pneumonia not....” Savant took a deliberate swallow, hands almost shaking as he rested them on his lap. A long sigh left Savant, his shoulders slumping and eyes glaringly blank. “He doesn’t have Huntington’s, Maverick. It’s not even close.”


    Maverick was unable to come up with an immediate collected reply. His jaw hung lax, heart plummeting in his stomach with a sickening sharpness that brought with it a wave of unrelenting nausea. Despite his best intentions, Maverick couldn’t stop the shock from surging through him as he thought of what to say. Should he apologize? Just drop it? Neither option seemed ideal, yet doing absolutely nothing didn’t seem like the best option either.


    Savant leaned back before Maverick could formulate a response, a knuckle coming up to wick away a stray tear from the corner of his left eye before it could fall. “I’ve made peace with it a long time ago, Mav. You don’t have to treat me like I’m going to shatter.”


    “It doesn’t mean the ache still isn’t there....the one that settles deep like a bullet to the heart. There’s no easing the pain or really even learning how to live with it.” Maverick’s hands worked together, fingers splayed as the worked the skin on the back of his knuckles between his pointer finger and thumb. “I can’t pretend that I know exactly what you’re going through, because I don’t, but I do know that pain.”


    The sincerity in Maverick’s voice was something that Savant couldn’t ignore, and for a jokester like Maverick, that was saying a lot. Although he had matured considerably as he had gotten older, heart to heart conversation were still difficult for him. Any thoughts of death instantly made Maverick recall who all he had lost and the pain that it had brought him each and every time. Differentiating that from Savant’s loss was slightly trickier than he had expected.


    Savant reached out a hand and tapped Maverick’s shoulder comfortingly as he stood, his usual caretaking persona shining through once more.


    “Do you want something to eat? I’m sure what I made wasn’t the most filling.”


    Knowing that this conversation had reached an end, Maverick nodded. Warm food sounded amazing, and may chase off the last waves of exhaustion that he felt pulsing through him. Sleep would be something that he would need to focus on preferably soon, as he couldn’t run on spite and concern forever. There would come a time where Savant would banish him to get some more rest, and until then, he was going to make the most out of his time.


    “Alright.” Maverick kept a close eye on Rooster, trying not to allow his attention to drift to his IV. Although Savant had inserted it with the upmost care, that much Maverick was sure of, it didn’t change the fact that his godson was receiving fluids through a bag instead of by mouth. There wasn’t a time he could ever remember Rooster being this sick, even during his second year in the Navy when he had contracted mono and been laid up in bed for almost two weeks. This was different, nauseatingly so.


    Savant didn’t need to ask Maverick to know that he wasn’t planning on leaving Rooster’s side, no matter how deep of a sleep he seemed to be in. He wasn’t about to insist quite yet, Maverick’s familiar reaction something that Savant didn’t need to speculate over.


    Savant was relieved when he was in the kitchen and able to focus on another mundane task: preparing another meal. It was something he could easily control and organize without having to focus on the racing thoughts in his brain that led him down a path that he was not willing to take. He did his best to push those concerns aside to be dealt with later, as he had patients to care for and that was his top priority.


    Soon the movements in the kitchen lulled Savant into a sense of calmness, the deliberate motions of heating the stew and separating it into three bowls with a spring of basil he found that was still fresh in the fridge all he needed to keep himself grounded. Three glasses were also filled: two with fruit punch and one with water. He set one bowl in the microwave for later and the drink in the fridge for easy access before bringing the remaining two bowls and drinks to the tiny dining room table in the corner of the kitchen. Papers were strewn across it as well as sale catalogs and keys. It took a little meandering for Savant to clear off a place for two of them to eat, though he was rather pleased when he did.


    “Maverick, food’s ready,” Savant called softly as he picked up two napkins and two spoons to bring back to their food.


    It took every ounce of strength left in Maverick’s body to force himself to leave Rooster’s side. He found himself hovering right beside him, feet shuffling under as he debated whether to insist he eat next to the sleeping man, or join Savant in the dining room like he knew the doctor wanted. Savant didn’t give him much time to ponder, slowly easing his way into the living room and coming behind Maverick, his proximity alone almost forcing the shorter man forward.


    “He’ll be alright for the twenty minutes it’ll take you to eat,” Savant whispered sternly. “Even you can’t run off an empty tank.”


    Any reasoning that Maverick may have felt within himself to argue vanished just as quickly. There was no arguing when whatever complaint he had would be paper thing to the reasoning that Savant would fire back at him. Instead of drawing it out, Maverick led the way to the dining area with Savant following right in his tracks.


    There were few people that could match Maverick’s stubbornness, and Savant was one of them.


To Be Continued......

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I love the moments when Rooster is really sick and Mav is super worried. I'm loving how he's getting worse haha, I feel guilty but sick Roo makes me so happy 😅😂 

I was nearly crying for Mav when he had to use Ice's supplies. The angst was amazing. Adding in some trauma for Savant too was so good!

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On 12/29/2022 at 11:34 PM, thesneezyowl said:

I just gobbled this up in one sitting! 

I’m so glad that you liked it! Binge readers are always welcome! 😁


On 12/30/2022 at 7:49 PM, spn27695 said:

I love the moments when Rooster is really sick and Mav is super worried. I'm loving how he's getting worse haha, I feel guilty but sick Roo makes me so happy 😅😂 

I was nearly crying for Mav when he had to use Ice's supplies. The angst was amazing. Adding in some trauma for Savant too was so good!

I’m so glad that you liked this one! Bringing Ice’s medical supplies was something I hadn’t intended and it just flowed into the story with the dialed up angst. I hope you like the next chapter and thank you so much for commenting and reading!







    The tang of thick broth combined with chunks of tender chicken that almost melted on your tongue were enough to thaw Maverick’s icy mood. It only took a few bites for Maverick to relax fully, shoulders slumping and face lax. The throb in his temples had faded to a nearly tolerable level instead of feeling as though someone was stabbing him with an ice pick. Periodically he would glance over his shoulder towards the living room, the sound of faint hissing from the oxygen tank enough to coax him back into eating.


    “I believe that he’s on the mend,” Savant explained as he took another bite, allowing the savory flavors to bathe his tongue before swallowing. “Once he wakes up, he should be more lucid once he’s no longer dehydrated. The worst should be behind us.”


    “Should be. I’ve heard that before.”


    “Every situation is unique. Rooster is not like Ice, not even close.”


    How Savant could know that was where his head was at, Maverick wasn’t sure. Had he just become that predictable? Or was it just Savant’s perception?


    “I don’t know what we would’ve done without you.”


    Savant stirred his spoon around his bowl, scraping on the sides before he took another bite. “Might I suggest if there is a next time and I am unavailable on a carrier or for whatever other reason, this is when you go to the hospital.”


    Just the mere mention of a hospital had Maverick ducking further into his seat, his usually larger than life attitude retreating in on himself. It was definitely surprising to see, even for Savant, who had seen Maverick in every situation imaginable.


    “I don’t think you realize how much Rooster hates hospitals. His mom died there....and Ice was in and out of them so frequently. Even if he wasn’t always there with him, Rooster felt it. I think he would rather trust his luck in Hangman’s hands than he would a hospital.”


    “Then that may be where you’d need to step in, as his parental figure.” Savant held Maverick’s gaze pointedly, even when he tried to look away. “Again, I’m hoping nothing like this even remotely happens, but it is still a conversation one must have to keep him safe.”


    Maverick understood what Savant as saying, he really did. However, that didn’t mean that he thought he would ever get through to him on it. He had known Rooster long enough to know his reaction even to the word hospital, how he would break into a cold sweat and refuse to proceed with the conversation. Some may find it immature, but Maverick saw through for what it was: pure fear. While fear was something that Maverick had experience with, especially recently, he wasn’t able to get through to Rooster during those times, and he doubted anytime in the future he would be able to either.


    “I’ll keep that in mind.”


    Savant dropped it, knowing that he wasn’t likely to be able to persuade Maverick anymore than he had already tried. There was no doubt in his mind that he would do what he needed if the time came to that, but Savant was there to do everything in his power to make sure that it didn’t.


    “You never told me why you wanted to be a doctor. Or maybe you did and I just don’t remember,” Maverick continued, deliberately moving the conversation to something easier to talk about, at least for him.


    Savant saw through the questions that Maverick was trying to ask him, knowing what he was trying to do. “The thrill of the flight just didn’t appeal to me anymore. You lose enough people and a career change starts to look more and more appealing. I’m more than glad that I did. If I had still been in the air....when Thunder was grounded, there’s no doubt in my mind that would’ve broke him.” Savant spoon tipped back and forth through the stew, effectively stirring it until a spiral formed in the bowl, his appetite quickly fading. “And I know I disappeared there for a few years on you and Ice, and I apologize for that.”


    Images of Ice on the phone, desperately trying to come into contact with Savant flashed through Maverick’s mind. Ice would pace back and forth while the cord that connected to the phone and the wall kept him from leaving the kitchen despite him almost wearing a hole in the floor from all of his pacing. It would always end the same way; Ice frustrated and often on edge for the remainder of the night. Even when Savant began to come around again and they learned of what happened to Thunder, there was always an uncomfortable tension there, one that Maverick wished he could take away. Time may lessen the pain of wounds, but it never quite healed them.


    “Do you know how much Ice used to care for you,” Maverick continued despite himself. “He spoke about you all the time, like a proud father or something. He followed all your accomplishments, and I’d say he had a hand in you being assigned to Top Gun as chief medic and all our future deployments, but what do I know.”




    “And he cared about everyone and that included you and Thunder....and when that happened he didn’t know to do. Then he got sick and you were always there for us after that and—“


    “Maverick,” Savant interrupted pointedly, well attuned to the spiral that he knew the other man was facing.


    “He always knew what to do especially with Rooster. I would just fumble around and he knew everything. And now he’s gone!”


    Savant immediately pulled his chair over to Maverick and wrapped him in strong arms, pulling him back from the table and against his chest as his bottom lip quivered and his body shook. He made no attempt to wriggle out of Savant’s grasp, if anything he fell into it, body growing strangely limp with Savant doing what he could to keep him upright. Maverick’s face crumpled as he started to sob, a hand coming up to cover his face.


    “I know. I know,” Savant murmured as he began to rock Maverick back and forth, arms flexing to give Maverick the sensation that he was being held tightly hoping to calm the younger man down. Simple instinct and a primal need for comfort was always a simple phenomenon that Savant explored when he could, mostly to those that he trusted and he knew trusted him. Maverick may not ever admit, least of all to Savant, but the doctor has noticed how he responded to physical reassurance. Many service members were the same, though they would never admit it.


    “He’s gone, Sav,” Maverick choked out, voice shuddering. “He’s gone and there’s nothing I can fucking do about it.”


    Savant sighed, fingers gripping Maverick’s shoulders before releasing them. “I know, trust me, I know. I felt the same when Thunder died.”


    Suddenly, Maverick lifted his free hand and gripped Savant’s wrist, nails beginning to dig into his skin. Savant hardly felt it, calloused from numerous altercations from combatant patients hardening the skin. The power he had behind his grip was noticeable to an extent, which only served to make Savant grip Maverick tighter, tension rippling down his spine.


    “I can’t do this without him,” Maverick whispered, barely above a hiss. “I don’t know how.”


    “You’re doing fine. This part is the hardest, but you’re not alone. You have myself, Rooster, and the whole Dagger Squad. This isn’t something you have to go through yourself.”


    Whether or not what he said was having any impact on Maverick, Savant wasn’t sure. Maverick hadn’t pushed him off, yet, so Savant took that as a sign to continue.




    “Could not be in better hands. Your grief for Ice may never go away, and that is okay. I’ll be here with you every step of the way if you need me to.” Savant deliberately slowed his breath in hopes to coax Maverick to do the same. “But you need to communicate that when you can. I don’t know unless you tell me.”


    Maverick drew quiet, his sobs giving way to small sniffles. Never before had Maverick felt so fatigued despite doing nothing strenuous. He had always thought that Ice was exaggerating when he spoke about being tired over emotions. He would give anything to be able to talk to Ice again, the light teasing that they shared in private or the open affection they had when they went off of base to the surrounding bars or restaurants. Life hadn’t gone the way he expected and nothing had been able to prepare him for that.


    Just when Maverick was beginning to calm, a weak sounding cough alerted him to movement in the living room. He was quick to rub a fist against both eyes, drying the tears and trying to make himself seem more presentable. Eyes puffy and movements shaky, Maverick went to stand only for Savant to beat him to it, a hand coming down to rest on Maverick’s shoulder pointedly. “I’ll see to him. Just take a few moments.”


    Although Maverick was ready to argue, he thought better of it and watched as Savant slipped out of the dining room like a ghost, silent and almost eerie. But, he was glad that someone was tending to Rooster until emotionally he could as well.


    When Savant rounded the corner, he saw Rooster’s eyes flutter open. A winkle spread across his forehead as he turned his head from side to side, left hand poised in his line of sight. His eyes trailed from the IV to the bag of saline, and the hint of confusion seemed to travel through his entire face. Lips parted, he made an effort to sit up, only for a wave of dizziness to wash over him and force him crashing back down on his mound of pillows.


    “I would suggest waiting a little until the IV is done before you try to stand,” Savant’s voice boomed through the living room as he came closer.


    Rooster grimaced as he lifted his right hand to clumsily collide it with the oxygen mask, fingers digging into the elastic band and peeling it from his sweat streaked cheek.


    Savant closed the distance between them and made a point of taking Rooster’s hand in his own and setting it down at his sides. He then readjusted the mask into place, the elastic band moved ever so slightly so that it wasn’t rested on the same place so not to aggravate his skin.


    “You need to keep that on just until that wheeze goes away.” Savant quickly checked the IV to make sure Rooster hadn’t pulled it out before squeezing the saline bag ever so slightly. “You only have about a half an hour left and then I’ll disconnect. You needed some fluids in you.”


    Rooster looked as though he wanted to say something, but his lips closed and he immediately slumped back against the couch. His skin was still warm to the touch, a prickling feeling trailing down his spine just enough to let it’s presence be known. It wasn’t nearly as high as it had been earlier, that much Rooster was sure, as his thoughts were now coming somewhat cohesively and he no longer felt like his head was underwater and he was watching the world from a distance.


    Savant seemed to reach the same conclusion as he rested the back of his hand against Rooster’s forehead, cupped hand trailing down both cheeks and finally to the sides of his neck. “You’re cooler,” Savant announced with relief in his voice. “I think your fever may have finally broken for good soon. Then you’ll truly be on the mend.”


    Being on the mend was music to Rooster’s ears. The oxygen mask and IV had been uncomfortable, but if that was what it took for him to finally feel like himself again, he would take all the prodding and poking that Savant had to do to make that happen.


    “Ma—v,” Rooster questioned, voice hissing under the mask.


    Savant motioned to the dining room. “He’s just cleaning up. He’ll be in soon.”


    That appeased Rooster easily as he gave a brief nod. Absentmindedly, Rooster’s hand came back over the back of his other one, nails beginning to dig around the outline of the IV. Savant instantly reached back over and pulled Rooster’s hand away, patience still in his eyes.


    “A half and hour longer and then I’ll take it out. Don’t make me tie your other hand down like I used to have to do with Maverick.”


    Wonder momentarily glinted in Rooster’s eyes as he snapped his head over to Savant, lips parting behind the oxygen mask, words clearly on the tip of his tongue without be able to express them.


    “Your Dad was a horrible patient, still is, I’m sure. One time we had to have five people hold him down just to take his blood.”


    Rooster let out a broken laugh that turned into a cough, to which Savant reached behind him and prompted him to sit up. A few more pillows were tucked behind him while another was rested on Rooster’s chest as Savant urged him to lean forward and cough, the whistle of the oxygen machine filling the room.


    When Rooster’s lungs had finally calmed, Savant gingerly tipped him back so that he as sitting upright. “Alright, no more stories until you can laugh without coughing up a lung.”


    Rooster tiredly lifted a hand to nudge Savant’s shoulder good naturally, who made a show of tipping back. There was no need for Rooster to realize just how much strength this illness had taken from him.


    It was’t long until Maverick came in with a cup of fruit punch with a long straw bobbing in the center. When he drew closer, Savant stepped back to give him room, gaze never wavering even as Maverick held the cup up to Rooster’s mouth while bringing down the oxygen mask with the other. Once Rooster’s face was free, he took the straw between his teeth and sipped it gratefully. He finished rather quickly and Maverick placed the mask back over Rooster’s face, but not before pressing a small kiss to Rooster’s forehead, one that someone could’ve easily missed if they were looking for it.




    Maverick glanced back over his shoulder to Savant, who gave a nod of encouragement. Although he would’ve preferred Maverick to get some sleep in his own bed, Savant was well aware how that would end up going; Maverick wouldn’t sleep and Rooster wouldn’t settle under his father figure was there beside him. Sometimes the emotional needs had to come before the outright physical ones.


    “Alright, scoot just a bit,” Maverick joked as he grasped Rooster under his arms and slowly inched him forward until his feet were pressed against the opposite armrest of the couch. Maverick then slid his way in behind him, legs out to the side so they were partially hanging off of the side of the couch. With the help of Savant, they pushed Rooster back until his head was rested on Maverick’s chest and he was propped up at an appropriate angle, body curling into Maverick’s familiar presence. The mask stayed on Rooster’s face, even as he rubbed his forehead against Maverick’s neck, sleepiness tugging at his very soul. Once he tried to mess with his IV, but Maverick took that hand before he could and held it tightly, keeping the IV out of his grasp in case Rooster tried to mess with it when he fell asleep.


    Savant took the blanket that had been bunched and pushed in the corner of the couch and laid it over both men, tucking it around them. “Everyone comfortable?”


    Rooster gave a mumble of reply while Maverick nodded ever so slightly, eyes already starting to close.


    Warmth flooded through Savant as he laid his hand on Maverick’s shoulder for a fleeting moment only to remove it a second later. This was Maverick’s moment with Rooster, and right now it didn’t include him, and that was okay.


    “I’ll just be in the kitchen if you two need anything,” Savant whispered, sure that neither one was lucid enough to hear him. With one final look to make sure they were comfortable, he slipped out just as silently as he came, letting the peace that very rarely accompanied the three of them to follow him into the kitchen.


To Be Continued......

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Mav is the best dad ever and I love how Rooster still wants Mav to stay with him. I'm so glad Savant knows the Mav needs some looking after too because sick Rooster will still need someone to look after him. Thr end of this update was so so cute🥰

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16 hours ago, spn27695 said:

Mav is the best dad ever and I love how Rooster still wants Mav to stay with him. I'm so glad Savant knows the Mav needs some looking after too because sick Rooster will still need someone to look after him. Thr end of this update was so so cute🥰

Maverick definitely is the best dad! I wanted that to come across in my writing since their relationship is so unique and I love when that shines through in my writing. I’m glad you liked this update!







    Rooster groaned as he felt a small prick of pain, followed by pressure of someone’s hands on the back of his left hand. Heaviness tugged on his eyelids as he forced them open, neck cranking to see a blurry figure standing over him, placing strips of tape over a ball of gauze that rested on the back of his hand.


    The blurry figure seemed to notice that Rooster was hesitantly staring at him as a hand came out to rest on the top of his head.


    “Go back to sleep,” the voice whispered. “I was just taking your IV out.”


    Rooster smacked his lips, tongue feeling full and heavy in his mouth. Any words that he wanted to say couldn’t leave his lips, and he was left smacking his lips together, willing them to make the sound that he so desperately wanted to hear.


    “Shhh. It’s alright. Close your eyes, Baby Goose. You’re safe now.....you’re safe.”


    Rooster didn’t know why he felt the need to comply to what this man was saying, but he still found himself doing as he was asked. His eyes closed easily as he leaned and back against the solid weight behind him, his head rising and falling in time with someone else’s breath. The pain on the back of his hand was hardly noticeable as he took in another congested breath before slipping back into sleep.




    The next time Rooster woke up, it was to the solid mass behind him shifting back and forth. He couldn’t stop a low moan from leaving his throat as he weakly raised his hands, fingers fumbling until they connected with flesh and gave a weak pull, which hardly even registered to the person that he was touching.


    “I just gotta take a leak,” the voice in question explained after planting a kiss to the top of Rooster’s head. “I’ll be be right back, okay.”


    Rooster wanted to refuse, to beg that the man stay with him. However, he was in no position to do so, nor was he about to deny such a simple request.


    A familiar and insistent itch distracted Rooster from what he wanted to say, and he was forced to duck his head to the side, stuffy nose tucked into the deep crease of the couch in an effort to muffle the sound. “Hish’huu! Hisch’Huee! Hish’Huu!” Mercifully, there was only three this time, and with his head so stuffed up from the position he had been sleeping in, it wasn’t messy. He gave a strong snuffle, followed by an equally productive snort, and turned to the side, eyelashes fluttering until they finally closed.


    A light chuckle seemed to float around him, the faint rumble of the voice grounding. “Bless ya.”


    Rooster smiled, though after a few more awkward movements in an attempt to find a more comfortable position now that he no longer had Maverick to lean on, he was left alone and cold on the couch, the blanket still pulled up to his chin and his head tipped forward so that his chin almost touched his chest. It was hardly comfortable, and inwardly he was begging for the man’s return. The chill that now took up residence in his body was unyielding, and no matter how much Rooster tried to fight it, it was at the forefront of his mind. Had someone else left his life never to come back again?


    His mind was just heading down a familiar and dangerous road when the presence returned, lifting up his upper half and sliding right back to where he had been a few minutes before.


    “Hey, what’s wrong,” the voice asked, and it was only then that Rooster realized that he was crying. No, he was practically hyperventilating.


    “L—ft,” Rooster managed to croak between gasps and ragged coughs. “Y-ou le—ft.”


    “Roo, I only went to the bathroom.” Strong arms wrapped around his shoulders and tightened into an almost crushing hug. While others may have found it constricting and borderline painful, Rooster melted into it like the embrace of an old friend, heart finally beginning to settle so it no longer felt like it was going to beat out of his throat. His hands didn’t have anything to play with, so they threaded into the blanket and began to pull on a few frayed strings.


    “I wouldn’t leave you....at least not if I can help it.” Rooster felt a chin rest atop his head. He relished in the pressure that it brought, a final gasp signaling the end to his rising panic. “I know you’ve lost people, more than you should ever have had to. I can’t promise that I’ll always be here as death is a part of life. That doesn’t mean that I won’t do anything in my power to be on this earth for as long as I can.”


    Rooster had heard that same speech before. Perhaps it hadn’t been worded quite like that, but he had still heard it. His mother had said the same thing to him, as she laid in that hospital bed kept alive by IVs and tubes. She had promised that she would always be there, that she wouldn’t leave him like his father had. Rooster had even been naive back then to believe her, and look where that had gotten him. Next was Ice, who always said that he would beat cancer the second time, just as he had done the first. Those may have not been his last words to Rooster, but they may as well should’ve been since that was the last thing that Rooster could remember about him.


    “Are you still with me?”


    Rooster blinked the haze from his eyes, fighting the sickening thoughts that wanted to drown him alive. It would be just as easy to retreat back into his mind and allow those fears to consume him. He would never be hurt if he was prepared for what would happen and could separate himself from them.


    ‘Don’t do it,’ a calm voice commanded. ‘Life is only worth living if you have those to share it with. Don’t retreat when you need them the most.’


    There were no more tears that Rooster could cry, though he still felt the need to. He honestly couldn’t tell if the voice was Ice or Goose, or maybe even someone he didn’t know. His hearing hadn’t been the best through this illness and he didn’t want to speculate, even if the most likely scenario was that his brain had made it up. Either way, the sentiment was still there and Rooster was hard pressed to let it go.


    “He—re,” he rasped.


    “Good. We’re not going anywhere. I’m right here with you.”


    It was that sentiment that lulled Rooster finally back to sleep.




    Heavy footsteps sounded from under Savant as he struggled forward, breath coming in uneven pants. The hallway in front of him threatened to tip and he stumbled shoulder first into the wall, harrowingly missing slamming into a nearby picture frame. A defiant shake of his head didn’t clear the dizziness, it seemed to only make it that much more noticeable.




    Savant’s stomach flipped as he heard the nickname that was hardly ever spoken.


    ‘Only one person has ever called me that.’


    Savant rounded the corner of the bathroom to find a trembling man propped up beside the toilet, strings of saliva connecting his bottom lip to his chest. His entire body shook, the left half of his face slack that forced his left jaw open, breath scissoring as it tumbled from his open mouth. His neck rolled when he heard Savant at the door, eyes blinking fiercely to focus on the man in front of him despite the clear haze that coated both eyes like a dusting of snow.


    “You should’ve called for me,” Savant admonished gently as he dropped down to his knees and grabbed a wad of toilet paper, wadded it up, before swiping it under the man’s bottom lip and chin, cleaning him up as delicately and quickly as possible. The evidence of his struggle now erased, the vice that so often felt to be wrapped around Savant’s chest finally began to loosen. “That better?”


    The man pulled away, body still helplessly shaking. Tears gleamed in his eyes, although he wouldn’t let them fall. He appeared to be looking anywhere but at Savant, though the unfortunate roving of his eyes had other plans.


    “Thunder?” The man didn’t answer, still trying to look away. “Lane?”


    A single tear rolled down Thunder’s face as he looked up to Savant. His mouth was still wretched open uncomfortably, and when he tried to speak again, another trickle of saliva ran down from the corner of his mouth until it reached his chin. Tears flowed freely as Thunder desperately tried to lift his hand to his face to wipe it away, only to realize painfully that he was unable to.


    “It’s okay,” Savant continued with as much warmth in his voice as he could muster. He fought back his own emotion, not wanting Thunder to see the dreaded cracks in his own facade as he used the cuff of his sleeve to wipe the saliva gingerly, careful not to irritate Thunder’s cracked lips. “See, it’s not a big deal. You’ve certainly seen me in worst spots than this. Remember New Years Eve of ‘91? I still have nightmares about it.”


    “Ches,” Thunder repeated, the strain of merely saying Savant’s name evident from the way that his throat convulsed and a vein bulged from along his forehead. Pressure compounded between his teeth as he clamped down hard, or at least attempted to while the left side stubbornly remained stretched open.


    Savant rolled up his sleeves and forced himself between Thunder and the toilet, pressing the slightly smaller man against the wall. “I’m right here, sweetheart. I’m right here.” Savant reached over and took Thunder’s thrashing hands in his own before he could accidentally hit and injure himself. It was never on purpose; it was just a side effect due to his condition. Savant hated restraining Thunder but sometimes it was better than the alternative of Thunder hurting himself and being unable to stop himself. “See? I’m not going anywhere.” Savant brought both of Thunder’s hands up to his mouth and left light kisses along his palms, feeling just how tense Thunder’s muscles were.


    Thunder tried to shake his head deliberately instead of letting the tremors take hold as a sob tore free from his throat. “C-Can’t....st....stop!”


    Savant’s heart broke hearing the pain and fear in his partner’s voice. He had been beside him for so many doctors visits, tests, and emergency room trips, and yet he had never heard Thunder be this scared. It made the blood in his veins turn to ice as he held him closer still, willing Thunder’s muscles to relax even a little so that the tremors weren’t so jarring and therefore not as painful. He could take whatever force Thunder’s body needed to exhibit on himself if need be, but Savant couldn’t bare to know how much this was hurting Thunder.


    “I know, I know.” Savant pressed his lips to Thunder’s forehead, his own Adam’s apple jolting upwards as he swallowed his own agony filled sob. He could see through the tears now, dark and hazy, but refused to let them fall. He had to be strong for Thunder, and he couldn’t do that if Thunder knew how scared he was. “But it’s okay. It’s just you and me. It’ll calm down in a bit and then you’ll feel a lot better, okay? Until then I’m just going to hold you like this unless you want me to stop.”


    Thunder bucked his head down harshly against Savant’s chest, nearly forcing the air from it. Savant managed to regain control, allowing Thunder’s body to continue to snap against him until he could lower his left hand and place it between Thunder’s right temple and his sternum. He timed it as perfectly as he could, waiting for Thunder’s body to slam back while he attempted to ease Thunder’s head down. He couldn’t care less if it caused damage to himself, but the last thing that he wanted was for Thunder to injure himself on his collarbone or worse.


    Savant continued to whisper against the side of Thunder’s head, soft prayers that he had heard his mother once whisper over his bedside when he was sick. He wasn’t fully sure what it even meant as it was in a different language, but it always brought him the comfort he needed, and he prayed that it did the same for Thunder. With his arms still around him, Thunder shook the same, though he wasn’t forced against the wall or sink now that Savant’s body was holding him as still as possible. It was something they had done numerous times before, and Savant was mildly impressed that he seemed to be getting better at it each time.


    ‘This is never something that I thought I’d be thankful for that I was getting better with. Fuck, why did this have to happen to him?!’


    It took another ten painstaking minutes before Thunder’s body began to slow, movements growing smaller and not as fierce in their intensity. He continued to push back against Savant, though it was nearly as forceful as before. Savant was able to stand his ground hard, knowing exactly where he needed to touch and what places on Thunder’s body needed to be left alone.


    When the tremors finally calmed to a few spastic shakes, hands taking the brunt of it, Savant began to trace his fingers up his forearm, pressing on the tender areas that he knew ached right down into the bone. Each touch was sure as he trailed his hands up to both of his biceps, squeezing until he moved up back to Thunder’s chin and turned his head back around. He leaned in, his lips grazing Thunder’s saliva slicked skin. The kiss only lasted a second or so before Thunder pulled himself away, already panting as he collapsed his head against his lover’s shoulder, Savant’s presence the only thing that was keeping him semi-upright.


    Thunder began to cry once more, sobs shaking his body in a way unlike the tremors ever did. Savant lifted his shoulder to conceal Thunder from the world, giving him a place to hide despite them being alone in the house. Soft assurances left his lips as he leaned close, lips grazing Thunder’s forehead.


    “Contrary to what you may think, I love you, Lane Jonas Chesner,” Savant whispered between kisses that were pepped on his brow. “And every minute I don’t spend ravishing you is time that I am keeping myself in control. I wish you could see how much I love you.”


    Thunder hiccuped against him, dampness from his tears beginning to saturate the collar of Savant’s shirt.


    “I loved you from the first moment I met you in basic, and I will always love you no matter what. This changes nothing about the way that I feel about you.” Savant shifted back, able to catch the corner of Thunder’s eyes as he finally looked up, nose freely running and cheeks wet. “And if I have to spend every single moment of this lifetime proving that to you, then I will.”


    Although the progressive disease had taken Thunder’s ability to fully smile, the paralysis on his left side one of the first signs that Savant had realized something was wrong, the he gleam in his eyes combined with the slight twist of the corner of the right side of his mouth told Savant all he needed to know about how Thunder felt about him. He gave a hefty swallow, Adam’s apple bobbing sporadically until he was able to finally swallow fully, plump, red lips pursed to the best of his ability.


    Affection rose inside of Savant as he closed the distance between the two of them, left hand coming around to the back of Thunder’s neck to steady him before bringing him close. Gentle, almost teasing, Savant kissed the corner of Thunder’s mouth until Thunder was able to open his mouth to allow easier entrance for Savant’s tongue, which searched the innermost crevices of Thunder’s mouth before working his teeth gently around Thunder’s bottom lip, pulling until he finally broke it off. Thunder had used to be the more aggressive and passionate of the two when it came to kissing, but now that Savant often had to take control due to the spasms and numbness that Thunder dealt with, he had learned to read what Thunder liked and tried to replicate it as best as possible with one of them doing more of the work than the other.


    The two stayed wrapped n each other’s embrace, Savant on high alert in case Thunder’s body delved into another episode. So long as he could feel the man beside him, breathing the same air, sharing the same space, everything would be okay.


    Unfortunately, that wouldn’t last forever. In fact, it would barely last another year.


To Be Continued.....

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