Disclaimer: I do not own The O.C. I only own my OCs Mei, Jon, and Callie. Anything you may recognize belongs to Josh and FOX.
It ended up being a longer night than I anticipated when I first came home. Callie ended up getting sick twice more throughout the early hours of the night and Taylor insisted that I check on Mei more than I felt I should. Luckily I was able to get away with only checking once as Taylor was distracting by staying with our other daughter. Neither Taylor nor I slept much, maybe a few hours' tops.
It was around 7AM when I woke up, my eyes felt heavy and my head ached like you wouldn't believe. I felt like I hadn't slept a wink. Despite wanting to shut my eyes and go back to sleep, I forced myself out of bed. I had to check on Taylor and the kids.
"You're up?" I found Taylor in the kitchen and I smelled fresh coffee instantly.
"I could ask you the same."
"I never went to sleep," Taylor said. "I was just going to let you sleep in. None of the kids are up yet."
I shook my head as I went and poured myself a cup. I took a small sip before putting the cup down. Somehow coffee didn't taste right this morning.
"Anything happen after I passed out?" I was curious.
Taylor shook her head. "Callie managed to finally go to sleep once I forced her to take some medicine."
"You did?" I was surprised. Usually, Callie wouldn't give in and Jon was the same way unless it was Pepto Bismol. "How'd you bribe her?"
"Why do you assume it was a bribe? I'm her mother and—" I gave Taylor a look and she didn't even bother. "Okay, I promised money." And that made sense. "She was in pain and by three in the morning, I wasn't going to discuss how awful the medicine tastes."
"I'm sure she put up a fight."
"It amazes me how badly they will fight over a tablespoon of medicine."
"Too bad it wasn't Jon. The pink medicine is the only kind he won't fight us on."
"Speaking of Jon, I should probably get him up—"
"Let him sleep," I stopped her from leaving the kitchen. "He was up late last night."
Taylor nodded and then leaned into me for a moment but then pulled away and put her hand to my face. Then my forehead. "You feel warm," She noticed. "Are you feeling alright?"
"I'm exhausted, but that's from not sleeping." I didn't feel great, but I was the last person she needed to worry about. "Please Taylor," She was insistent and I managed to take her hand and push it away. "I'm fine."
Taylor wasn't able to argue as we both heard Jon's voice calling for. "MOM! DADDY!"
Almost immediately, both Taylor and I went into Jon's room. I stood a few feet back as Taylor went directly to his bedside. Jon was curled up onto his side and crying. He looked like he was in pain, which only concerned the two of us more.
"What's up, Jon boy?"
"What hurts?" Taylor asked next.
"M-My head and my tummy and—" He whimpered as Taylor ran a hand through his short hair. "And my teeth hurt." His breathing picked up and he changed his laying position slightly. "Make it stop."
"I'll go grab the pink stuff," I said as I headed back towards the kitchen. After grabbing the bottle, I dropped it on the counter and used the counter to hold myself up, getting suddenly hit with a dizzy spell. I shut my eyes for a moment and then opened them when it started to pass.
"Ryan?" I heard Taylor call. "Did you find it?"
"Yeah!" I called back as I took the bottle in my hand and made my way back, slower this time. "Here we are." I decided to hand the bottle to Taylor and let her give it to him. My hands were a bit shaky and I wanted to sit down, at least for a moment.
"Okay," Taylor said once she filled the dose cup up with the right amount and then turned to our son as I sat on the edge of his bed. "Can you sit up?"
"It hurts…" Jon whined.
"I know baby," Taylor put the bottle on the end table and then helped Jon pick his head up. She then put the cup to his lips and he drank the medicine. "There we go. That should help soon."
"I guess someone's not going to school today." I put my hand on his back and then Jon shot up, but only slightly.
"No!" Jon protested. "I have to go! My test—"
"Tests can wait,"
"But I have to—" Jon curled back up into a ball as he likely felt another wave of pain in his stomach.
"I think whoever wins the pudding cup and fruit roll-up is the last thing you should be thinking of." Taylor leaned in and kissed Jon on the forehead.
Jon shook his head. "No food…"
And after that statement is when I felt my stomach lunge and then I made to make a run to the bathroom. I was in there for a few minutes, throwing up. When I came out, Taylor was outside the bathroom with her arms crossed.
"Sorry did you need the thermometer that was in there?" I remarked.
"I knew you weren't feeling well."
"You're not fine!" Taylor snapped.
"Taylor, please," I sighed. "Don't wake Mei and Callie."
"Too late for that." We both turned around and noticed Callie. She was up and dressed for school. "Don't worry, I was up anyways."
"Where are you going?" Taylor asked.
"Last time I checked, on weekdays I have school." Callie quipped.
"After last night? I don't think that's a good idea."
"Are you feeling better?" I asked and she nodded.
"Really, I'm fine."
"Mom, really. I am fine and if I feel sick, I will go to the nurse and you can come get me. But I am going." Callie's tone told me that she wasn't going to argue. And I didn't have the energy to argue. "And think of it, with me out of the house it gives you some extra time to look after dad."
Did my daughter just sell me out?
"Alright, do you need me to drive you?" Taylor asked. It seemed Callie knew what to say to get Taylor to agree. "Or is a friend picking you up?"
"I have a ride, gotta go." Callie was out the door in a minute and then the attention was back on me, much to my dismay. She went into the bathroom and then came out with a thermometer. I attempted to walk away, having a feeling that wasn't to check Jon's temperature.
"Going to check Jon's temp?"
"Get back here," Taylor grabbed my arm. "Now open."
"Taylor—" She took the opportunity to stick the thermometer in my mouth. I glared at her but left it there until it beeped. I took it out before Taylor could. "It's fine."
"You didn't even look." Taylor managed to take it from me and looked at the reading. "103.5."
"Taylor, please don't overreact," I didn't want her to worry. We already had Jon and Mei to worry about and I knew she would already be worrying about Callie going to school, despite our daughter trying to defer the attention from her onto me. Taylor didn't need another person to worry about and I could handle things. "Look, let's just worry about the kids—"
"I can handle the kids, you can go rest."
"Let me help,"
Taylor shook her head. "I can handle our son and daughter. I want you to rest."
"I don't need to rest—"
"You said it yourself, you barely slept." That's when I regretted giving Taylor some leverage. "Now go lay down on the couch."
"You go rest or I will call your parents." I could tell by Taylor's look that she was serious and I wasn't going to risk testing her.
Without another word I sat down on the couch and then pulled the small navy throw blanket over me. I turned on the TV as I noticed Taylor go back into Jon's room. I flipped through a few channels, but couldn't manage to find anything good to watch. I turned it off again and then shut my eyes, leaned against the one armrest.
I woke up suddenly and noticed it was a few hours later. I rubbed my eyes and then attempted to sit up. If I hadn't seen the clock, I wouldn't have thought I slept as long as I did. I felt like I barely got five minutes, let alone four hours. "Taylor?" I called, but there was no answer. I attempted to stand, keeping the throw blanket wrapped around me as I felt sudden chills when it slipped off me slightly. I went to the thermostat. Set at 72? That can't be right! I've lived in hotter and colder apartments. We didn't even have an air conditioner in one apartment. I'm used to hot, but it felt like it was fifty degrees.
"I didn't hear you get up."
"Kirsten?" I blinked, almost unable to believe it. "What are you doing here?" Maybe this is all a dream and she's not really here.
"Taylor had to make a quick run, so she asked Sandy and me to come keep an eye on the kids."
"And you." Sandy popped out from the kitchen.
I sighed, attempting to shiver despite the urge to. "I was here, you guys didn't have to come over." Not that I wasn't happy to see them. It had been a minute since the last time we saw each other. But I wasn't sure how I felt about them having to take time out of their day to come babysit and I'm sure Taylor got them here more for me than for Jon and Mei.
"It was no trouble," Sandy put his hand on my shoulder and I attempted not to flinch. I was having trouble staying on my feet as it was.
"You don't have to work?" I looked to Kirsten.
"Julie is handling things just fine on her own."
"Now, how are you feeling?" Sandy looked at me and I didn't look at him in the eye. Somehow, I thought if I didn't, he wouldn't be able to see through my bullshit. "And don't tell me you're fine." It seemed that did the exact opposite. "Really, how are you feeling?" Sandy kept a firm hold on me as if he knew I needed the support without having to ask.
"I've been better," That was as much as I wanted them to know. And it was still the truth.
"You should still be resting," Kirsten placed her hand on my forehead. "Taylor was right, you definitely have a fever."
"Please don't try and take it, she already did that."
"I'll let you take it for yourself if you go lay down." I knew what she was doing. Taylor and I did that with our kids often. But I was willing to take the compromise.
I went back to the couch and attempted to get comfortable. Then, Sandy took the throw blanket and covered me with it while Kirsten went to fetch the thermometer from the bathroom. I put it in my mouth and then Kirsten took it from me before I could read it.
"104.3." Kirsten shook her head.
"Guys," I ran my hand through my hair as I pulled the blanket closer to me and then shifted to try another position. "Really, you don't have to worry about me."
"You'd think when he became a parent, he would know better," Sandy turned from Kirsten and back to me. "Not going to happen, kid,"
"I'm not a kid anymore, Sandy,"
"You will always be our kid," He corrected as then grabbed and placed another blanket over me. I did not argue as I still felt freezing under the one blanket.
"How about I get you some soup?" Kirsten suggested and I looked up at her. With how awful I felt, that actually sounded good. And maybe swallowing that would hurt less.
"You're not making it, are you?"
Kirsten glared at me.
"I think she wants you to get better," Sandy chimed in and Kirsten turned her glare from me and over to him. "I'm sorry, honey, but I thought you've accepted that by now?" I couldn't help but laugh. But only for a few seconds before breaking into a coughing fit. "Maybe you should see if there is any medicine in there."
"That's why Taylor went out, remember?" I figured Taylor would only have left if she needed to pick up some things. "I am sure she thought of it, but I'll check to make sure she got medicine for Ryan and then ask her to pick up soup."
"Why don't you get back to sleep?"
I shook my head. "It hurts too much to sleep,"
"More than if Seth were here? Or less?"
"My head doesn't hurt that much," I chuckled. It wasn't to the extent of a Seth-Ramble induced headache but it was enough. "I think Jon was in more pain that I was? Maybe you should check on him?" I was genuinely concerned about him. I knew usually when he got sick, it hit him hard.
"I checked on him shortly before you woke up," Sandy assured me. "He's still asleep."
"Kirsten saw her briefly come out to get something to drink, but haven't heard a peep since then."
"She was probably relieved to see you guys," Though Mei hadn't really been open with them either, even less so. She was cautious around most people, even if they were her family. But at the moment, I was sure she was relieved to see them around compared to Taylor. And I definitely knew her feeling…
"I found some cough medicine!" Kirsten interrupted as she came in with a small bottle. It seemed like there was only a little left.
"I can probably wait until Taylor gets back with—" I broke off into a coughing fit and then my throat burned more. "Alright, give it here." I took a swallow and then cleared my throat as I handed the empty bottle back to her.
"That will do for now," Sandy ran his hand through my hair as I laid against some throw pillows and I shut my eyes.
"God, I think we need a new couch," I don't think I have been this uncomfortable since after I got that spinal tap and slept in a hospital bed for a while.
"You could go sleep in your bed,"
I shook my head. "I don't want to move,"
"Come here," Sandy urged and I wanted to protest, but quickly decided that it couldn't be more uncomfortable than laying on this side of the couch. I leaned against Sandy and he put an arm around me, adjusting the blankets to make sure I was covered. "Better?"
"A bit," I admitted and then shut my eyes and as he ran another hand through my hair again. "Okay, maybe I am glad you guys are here."
I had been grateful for the sake of Jon and Mei, and also for Taylor having the help. But now I was grateful for another reason.
I fell asleep again for a bit, until Taylor came back with the soup. I managed to eat half of the bowl she got for me and take the medicine she got for me with it. Then I turned to the TV as my parents got distracted with helping Taylor with Jon. He had woken up and his stomach and teeth were bothering him again.
"Hey," I noticed Mei had come out as my parents had left the room to go to Jon's. "You doing okay?"
Mei shrugged. "Are you?"
"I've been better," I gave the same answer I gave my parents.
I chuckled. Definitely my daughter.
"Well, you came out of your room."
"I did earlier," Mei admitted as then sat down on the opposite end of the couch from me. "But grandpa and grandma were taking care of you."
"Oh, you saw?" Mei nodded. "Should've seen them when I was sixteen? They drove me crazy." But only sometimes.
"You don't like all the attention either?"
I shook my head. "It was even worse back then, I hated anyone worrying." And when I first got sick after I started living with them, things had been more complicated. "But eventually, I had learn to let people take care of you."
"You had to?"
"They are very convincing," I knew Mei was smart enough to get what I meant. "They also told me if I ever tried to hide an illness again and they found out, they would never leave," I remembered that was after I got out of the hospital. "It would have been worse than your mother—don't tell her I said that."
Mei laughed. "It's weird having people take care of me—or at least, want to."
"I know the feeling," I had told Mei a few things, but I never went too into detail. Only when I wanted to relate to something specific. "And it takes time," I knew that better than anyone. "Now how about you stay out here and watch something, anything you want?"
"Is this your way of keeping an eye on me?"
"Who said I'm keeping an eye on you?" I replied. "I might fall asleep—I'm sick and exhausted. Maybe I just want the company."
"Because you're sick? I thought you hated the attention."
"Company is not horrible—the right kind," I patted the spot next to me. I knew being close to me wouldn't be an issue since she was already sick. "You've never been sick with your uncle Seth around."
"Oh god," Mei moved closer and I put an arm around her. It took a moment, but she then leaned in as she flipped to a movie station. "Well, I guess I should be happy I'm sick with you."
"Well…" I wasn't sure how to take that. "I love you."
"And I love you."
"Don't ever lie about being sick,"
"But I'm not sick," Mei chuckled immediately after saying that. "I know, because parents always find out."
"That, they do,"
A/N: I finally got this last chapter finished. It just took me a while to get it just right. And I think this might be a good place to end this story. Thank you to everyone that reviewed, favorited, and followed. I am glad you enjoyed this as much as I did writing it.
Please don't forget to review. Can we get this to 100? ;)