Author's Note: This story was written for Lauren2381, who requested a sickfic. This story is part of the More Than Friends universe and takes place during Emma's Junior year at NYU.
Emma dragged herself down the hall to the apartment she shared near NYU with her friend Anna. When she left for class this morning, she had felt perfectly fine, but now she wanted to crawl into her bed and die. Her head throbbed with a headache, and her whole body ached.
Normally on Fridays after her composition class she would grab lunch with some of her friends from the music program and then head to her history lecture. Today she was going to take some Tylenol and try to get some sleep. If she was lucky, this was just a twenty-four hour thing and tomorrow she'd be fine. She could worry about getting the notes from the missed history class later.
Dealing with the multiple locks on the apartment door was more difficult than usual, and she nearly gave up before finally getting the deadbolt open. Once she was inside, she closed the door and relocked all five of the locks her father required before he'd agree to her living here.
She headed for her bedroom, making a stop in their hallway of a kitchen for water and the bathroom for a bottle of Tylenol. Dropping her bag and coat on the floor of her room, she pulled out a pair of flannel pajama pants and a long sleeve t-shirt of Clay's. She stripped and let the clothes fall where she stood. She was so worn out she almost didn't bother putting on the clean clothes, but the thought of being cold convinced her to make the effort.
Dressed in the pajamas, she settled into bed and pulled the blankets up around her. One of her hands snaked out from under the covers and grabbed the bottle of Tylenol. Shaking out four capsules, she swallowed them with gulps from the water bottle. Then she rolled over and waited to die.
Instead of letting her pass away in peace, her phone buzzed with a Facetime call. Moaning, she sat up and snagged her bag off the floor. She dug around trying to find the phone before the call went to messages.
Finally she found the phone in the side pocket of her bag and turned it over just in time for the buzzing to stop. She opened the phone. Seeing the call was from Clay, she immediately called him back.
Clay appeared on her screen. "Hey, babe. I thought maybe you couldn't answer."
She slipped back down under the covers. "I couldn't find my phone in my bag fast enough."
"Are you in bed?"
"Yeah, I don't feel good." She propped the phone against her other pillow and tucked her hand back under the covers.
Clay's face took on a concerned expression. "What's wrong?"
"My head hurts and my whole body aches." She pressed her hand to her forehead. "I think I have a fever too."
Clay frowned. "When will she be back?"
"Um, I'm not sure. I think she said something about going to work on her film with someone." Emma's eyes drifted shut as she tried to remember what Anna was up to today.
"Emma!" Clay's voice broke into her wandering thoughts.
Her eyes popped open. "Yeah."
"Did you take anything?"
"Mmm, yes, uh, Tylenol. Four, I think. And water."
Clay's forehead wrinkled up as he listened to Emma's response. He was so cute when he looked serious like that.
"Emma! Do you have anything to eat there?"
"S'okay. I'm not hungry."
She watched as Clay ran his hand through his hair. She loved his hair when he let it get a little longer and curlier.
"Okay, go to sleep. I'll call you again in a few hours."
Clay ended the Facetime, and she let her phone drop back onto the pillows. Snuggling down into the blankets again, she closed her eyes and tried to sleep.
Emma dozed on and off for a few hours. At least she thought it was a few hours; maybe it was longer. She came awake when the pounding in her head became stronger. Shivering under all the blankets, she realized she needed to take some more Tylenol, but she had no water left by the bed. Her throat was too sore for her to dry swallow the pills.
Laying there, she wished someone was around to bring her more water. Or lemonade. Her mother always brought her lemonade when she was sick. She closed her eyes and pushed away the memories of her mother. Her thoughts continued to drift as she tried to convince herself to get up and go to the kitchen.
Suddenly she heard banging on the apartment door. Who would be at the door? Maybe Anna forgot her keys.
"Emma! Emma! Open the door." Clay's voice broke through her debating.
She must be dreaming. Maybe she was delirious. Clay was in Virginia, not at her door.
"Emma! Open up!"
She thought it really sounded like Clay though.
Pushing back the covers, she swung her legs around to the floor and tried to stand. She paused for a moment to get her balance and then began walking to the door.
"Clay." Her voice sounded harsh to her own ears. "Is that you?"
"Yes, it's me. Let me in."
Slowly she began unlocking all five locks on the door, then finally opening it. Clay stood on the other side, waiting patiently while holding a duffel and a bag of groceries.
Emma blinked in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Clay herded her back into the apartment and shut and locked the door. "I was worried about you. Blackburn gave me permission to leave Virginia, so I could come up and check on you. I have to be back in Virginia Beach by midnight tomorrow."
"Oh." She stood shivering as she looked at him.
"Come on. Let's get you back to bed."
He led her back to her bedroom and tucked her into bed. Laying his hand on her forehead, he frowned when he felt how hot she was. "When's the last time you took anything?"
"I had some Tylenol a little before noon." Having Clay here made her feel better already.
"It's after six now. Let me get you some water, and you can take more." He disappeared back to the kitchen.
A few minutes passed and he returned with a large glass of ice water. Placing it on her bedside table, he pulled out the thermometer he also brought. "First, let me take your temperature and then you can take the pills."
Clay shoved the thermometer in her open mouth. "Just wait until it beeps."
He headed back out to the kitchen, and she heard him moving around and cabinets doors opening and closing. Coming back, he held a cool compress for her forehead. The thermometer beeped, and he took it from her mouth. "100.2, it's a little high."
Opening the bottle, he shook out two pills and gave them to her. He helped her sit up and gave her the glass of water. The icy cold water felt so good on her sore throat. She drank it all down.
"Okay, lie back, and we'll put this on your forehead. Then I'll get you more to drink."
Emma obediently laid back, and Clay gently pushed her hair off her forehead. He placed the cloth, and she shivered.
"It's too cold. I don't want it." She handed the cloth back to him and pulled the covers tighter around herself.
He frowned and pulled out his phone. She watched as he waited for whoever he was calling to answer.
"Hey Trent. Sorry to bother you, but I'm here with Emma now and she has a fever of 100.2. I gave her some Tylenol, and I wanted to put a cool cloth on her forehead, but she says it's too cold."
Clay listened for a moment.
"Yeah, she is shivering." He began nodding at whatever he was being told. "Okay, okay. I can do that. Great. I will. Thanks, Trent. I appreciate it."
Clay ended the call and turned back to her. "Trent says we can leave off the cool cloth for now, but not too many blankets. Just enough to get you to stop shivering, okay?"
"Okay." She sighed as she slid deeper into the covers.
"Have you eaten anything?"
"Not since breakfast. Just water." Her eyelids felt heavy and she let them close.
"You rest. I'll take care of a few things."
Emma drifted off to sleep again, listening to Clay moving around in the kitchen. She wasn't sure how long had gone by when he woke her by sitting down on the side of her bed.
"I brought you soup and something to drink. Let's get you sitting up."
He helped her sit up more on the pillows, and then picked up a tray table from the floor that had a bowl of soup and a glass of lemonade.
"Lemonade, you remembered." She had told him once about her mom bringing her lemonade when she was sick. He was so sweet to remember that.
Clay helped her eat a little of the soup and drink the lemonade. Once she indicated she had had enough, he took the tray away and came back with another glass of lemonade. Placing the glass on her bedside table, he kicked off his shoes and removed his jeans and sweatshirt. Then he lifted the covers and slid into bed next to her.
"Go to sleep. I'll be right here if you need anything."
"Okay." She rolled over and cuddled close to his side. His arms held her close, which was exactly what she needed to feel better. She dozed off to the feeling of him stroking her hair.
Much later Emma came awake with a start. She felt sweaty and her stomach grumbled. Maybe that soup earlier hadn't been such a good idea.
"Em, you awake?"
"Yeah, don't feel so good." She rolled onto her back, hoping to settle her stomach.
"I know. That's why I'm here."
"No, my stomach, not good." Before she could say anymore, she took off from the bed and headed to the bathroom, where she proceeded to empty the contents of her belly into the toilet.
Clay followed her, and as she continued to dry heave, he held her hair back from her face and rubbed her back. Finally, she sat back from the toilet.
"I think so." She leaned back against the cabinet under the sink.
He wet a cloth and knelt in front of her. She opened her eyes as she felt him start to gently wipe her face. He looked so worried, and she wanted to reach up and smooth his furrowed brow, but lifting her hand felt like more than she could handle right now.
He helped her stand and handed her a cup of water to rinse out her mouth. She leaned on his arm as she stood over the sink.
"You're all sweaty. I think your fever broke. You up to taking a shower?"
"I don't know. I'm not sure I can stay standing to do it."
"Okay, rest here and I'll get everything together and then I'll help you." He went back into the bedroom, while she continued to lean against the vanity.
Soon he returned with a pile of clean pajamas and underwear for them both. Reaching into the shower, he turned on the water.
"Here, stand up and we'll get these sweaty clothes off." He pulled the t-shirt over her head and pushed down her pajama pants. Helping her balance as she stepped out of the pants and her underwear, he stuck his hand into the spray of water to check the temperature. "I think that's warm enough. What do you think?"
She stuck her hand into the spray and agreed it was good. Taking off his own t-shirt and boxers, he assisted her in stepping into the tub and followed behind.
The warm water felt good as it rinsed away the dried sweat on her skin. She leaned against Clay's chest while he squirted some of her shower gel on her loofah and began to run it up and down her back and arms. Gently her turned her in his arms so he could wash her front, then he knelt down and did her legs.
Once he finished with the loofah, he had her rest against his chest again while he squeezed some shampoo into her hair. She sighed as he began washing her hair. His fingers rubbing her scalp felt so good.
"Em, lean your head back so I can rinse the soap out."
Once he had her hair clean of soap, he began massaging conditioner through it. Emma was almost purring with pleasure. She regretted that she couldn't stand without Clay holding her up because this was probably one of the most sensuous feelings she had ever experienced. Sighing, she became aware of Clay's growing interest against her stomach and she realized he must feel the same.
He tilted her head back to rinse the conditioner from her hair, then when it was clean let her rest against him again. "How are you doing?"
"Okay. Sorry I'm so sick and not up to anything more." She pressed herself against Clay's hardness.
He groaned. "That's okay. I didn't suggest a shower for that. Just can't help myself around you."
She smiled at his words.
"Why don't you lean against the wall for a sec while I wash off too?" He made sure she was safely balanced against the side of the shower and then got under the spray himself.
He soaped up with her loofah, and she smiled at the thought of him smelling like her vanilla birthday cake shower gel. He rinsed off the soap and washed and conditioned his hair, while Emma enjoyed watching him.
He turned off the water and helped her out of the tub. Grabbing one of the towels by the sink, he began drying her off. Once she was dry, he helped her put on fresh clothes, then dried himself off and pulled on clean boxers and sweatpants. Wrapping her wet hair in a towel, he led her back into her bedroom.
Clay had her sit down on her desk chair while he stripped the bed of the damp sheets and pillowcases. He remade the bed with fresh linen and settled her back into it.
"Wait a minute. You can't go to sleep with wet hair when you're sick." He disappeared again into the bathroom and came back with her hair dryer and brush. He plugged the dryer in and sat behind Emma in bed. With the appliance set on low, he slowly dried her hair.
The steady hum of the hair dryer and the gentle caress of Clay running the brush through her hair lulled her almost to sleep. Only by sheer will was she able to keep herself from dropping off, mainly because she wanted to continue to enjoy the experience for as long as she could.
Eventually her hair was dry, and Clay put aside the brush and dryer. "Before you fall asleep, take some more Tylenol."
She nodded and accepted the pills from him. She swallowed them with some more lemonade and went to snuggle down in her bed.
"You lie on the outside, just in case, okay? I put your small trash can here with a plastic liner in it, if you need it." He made sure the bin was in reach and there was water for her on the bedside table.
Settling back in the bed, he held her close as she curled up against him. Emma felt better than she had since getting sick earlier in the day, and almost immediately she fell asleep.
The morning sun crept across the blankets on Emma's bed. The light drew her from sleep, and she realized that last night was not a dream and Clay really had shown up at her apartment. She laid with her head resting on his chest and went over yesterday's events in her mind. From first realizing she was sick during her class to the shock of Clay showing up at her door to him blow drying her hair so she wouldn't go to sleep with wet hair, the whole day had been a little far from her norm. She had enjoyed letting someone else take care of her for once. Yes, she could take care of herself, and usually did, but it was nice sometimes to let someone else do the hard work.
Clay looked so handsome lying there. In sleep, his face was so much more relaxed, and he looked younger than he was. Emma gave him a soft kiss on the cheek in appreciation of all he had done for her last night.
His eyes opened, and he smiled upon seeing her looking at him. "Hi, feeling better today?"
"Yeah, not one hundred percent, but much better than yesterday."
"That's good. You up to eating something?"
She considered whether or not food was a good idea. "Maybe something light."
"Okay. I brought some bread for toast and some bananas, so that might be good. You should probably take some more Tylenol too." He reached over for the thermometer on the bedside table. "We should take your temperature again too."
Emma sighed and let him fuss over her while she waited for the thermometer to beep.
Finally the damn thing beeped, and Clay took it from her mouth to check. "Ninety-nine point one. Much better." He handed her the glass of water and two more Tylenol. "Take these and you should be good."
"Yes, Nurse Spenser."
He grinned at her and got out of bed. "You rest here, and I'll make you that toast."
She called him back as he headed for the bedroom door. "I think I heard Anna come in late last night."
"Oh, right." He pulled on the sweatpants he had kicked off as too hot during the night and put on a clean t-shirt, then he headed to the kitchen.
She was tired of being in bed, and she needed to use the bathroom. Carefully she got out of bed, but found she felt much steadier compared to last night. She used the bathroom and headed into the living room. Settling on the couch, she wrapped the blanket that had been draped over the back around herself and watched Clay prepare her toast.
Once it was ready, he brought her a plate with the toast and a banana and a glass of orange juice. Going back to the kitchen he grabbed his own plate and juice, and then sat down on the couch next her.
While they were eating, Anna came out of her room. "Clay, I didn't know you were here. Were we expecting you?"
"No, I just dropped by to take care of Emma while she was sick."
Anna turned to her roommate. "You were sick? Did I miss that yesterday morning?"
"No, I was fine when I got up. It came on while I was in composition class."
"That sucks. You don't look too bad now." Anna went to the fridge and took out a cup of yogurt.
"I feel a lot better now. Clay took good care of me." Emma smiled at him.
The chatted a little longer while Anna ate her yogurt. Eventually, she went back into to her room, and Clay and Emma stretched out together on the couch and watched some TV. Emma laid on Clay's chest and he rubbed her back as they watched reruns of "Friends."
"What time do you need to leave?" She didn't want him to go, but she knew he had to be back. At least she had had this unexpected time with him.
"I should probably leave by one. The drive is only six and a half hours, but I should leave extra time in case there's traffic or something. I promised Blackburn I'd be back by midnight, and I don't want to screw that up. He could have told me I couldn't leave Virginia."
Emma nodded. She sat up, so Clay could get off the couch. He headed to the bathroom to wash up and get dressed. She wrapped the blanket tighter around her body and felt sorry for herself.
Anna came out of her bedroom and sat down next to Emma. "Where's Clay?"
"Getting dressed. He has to leave soon."
"He drove all the way here from Virginia yesterday to take care of you and now he's driving all the way back today?"
Emma pulled her knees to her chest and rested her head on them. "Yeah."
"Damn girl, he's a keeper." Anna shook her head. "You sure he doesn't have a brother?"
"Knowing his father, it's totally possible one is out there."
Emma laughed. "But with your luck, he's probably ten-years-old."
Anna laughed too. "Probably."
Clay came out of Emma's bedroom with his duffel. "That's everything."
Anna got up from the couch. "Nice seeing you, Clay. Next time maybe it will be for a little longer."
"I hope so," Clay said as Anna gave him a hug goodbye.
She headed back into her bedroom, giving Emma and Clay some privacy.
Emma stood up and walked into his arms. He held her close.
"How are you feeling?"
"Okay. Thank you for coming so far just to take care of me." She pressed her face into his neck, wishing she could keep him here with her.
"I'd do it again anytime." Clay pulled back to look down into Emma's face. "I love you, Emma."
"I love you too."
They walked over to the door and undid all the locks and opened it. He stepped into the hall and turned back to Emma.
"Take care of yourself. Keep drinking fluids and taking Tylenol, okay?"
"I will." She tilted her face up to his for a goodbye kiss.
He broke it off and gave her one last kiss on the forehead. "I better go."
Emma nodded and watched him walk down the hall. Once he disappeared around the corner, she shut the door and relocked it. She headed back into her bedroom and crawled back into bed. Wrapping her arms around the pillow he had used, she curled up in a ball and went to sleep.