Couches, Computers, and Chicken Soup


"I'm cold."

Alex glanced over to where his boyfriend was curled up on the couch. "You're already wearing a sweater, Galen. How can you still be cold?"

"I just am."

"Look, Galen, I'm trying to finish this assignment for English – do you mind?" Normally Alex was fairly patient, but he had a test tomorrow and the short story assignment, not to mention he was tired from the uncommonly busy day at work yesterday, and he wasn't really in the mood to have to deal with whining.

"Come do it here so you can keep me warm?"

"Galen!" he snapped.

Galen fell quiet.

Alex sighed and turned his full attention back to his work. It was mostly silent in the apartment then, until Galen got up and went into the kitchen, but other than that it was only the humming of the fan of the laptop.

The laptop that suddenly just froze.

"Oh, shit. No. No, no, no. Don't do this to me." Alex's voice rose in panic. "I didn't save it yet! Okay. Crap. Crap." He pounded at the desk once, in frustration, and lowered his head into his arms. "The world really loves me today, doesn't it."

There was a touch on his shoulder, and Alex looked up to see Galen standing beside him and offering a mug of hot chocolate. "I do," he said quietly.

Alex blinked, momentarily distracted. "You look kind of pale. Are you okay?" He reached up to press the back of his hand to his boyfriend's forehead. "Galen! You're burning up!"

Galen shrugged and grinned almost sheepishly. "I told you I felt cold."

Alex instantly felt guilty. "I'm sorry for snapping at you," he said, enfolding Galen's cold fingers in his own. "Here you are sick and you're making me hot chocolate and being nice to me after I yelled at you."

"It's okay." Galen knelt beside the computer chair. "You're stressed; I can understand that."

Alex stared guiltily at the hot chocolate on the desk, unable to meet Galen's eyes. "That's no excuse," he muttered unhappily.

"Alex, stop that." He pressed his hand to his warm cheek. "I do it too sometimes. Now drink your hot chocolate."

Ale sighed and picked up the mug. "I don't deserve you, you know," he mumbled, and took a sip. "You even put cinnamon in it."

"Yes, for you cinnamon-obsessed, you." Galen nuzzled the spot on his neck below the ear with a little smile. "I love you, you know."

"Yeah… I love you too." Alex tilted his head back for a kiss, but Galen put a finger on his lips.

"I'm sick, remember? You're tired enough without having to worry about that. Now. What did you do to my poor computer?"

Alex sputtered. "What did I do?! The stupid thing froze on ME!"

Galen gave him an accusing look. "And you didn't save?"

"…Uh…"

Thunk. That was the sound of Galen's forehead meeting the desk. "I'm in love with a computer-illiterate idiot who doesn't remember to SAVE his work after I've told him a MILLION times. Heaven help me."

"Hey!"

Galen looked up, rolling his eyes. That didn't hide the amused glow in them. "Sorry, fine, not computer-illiterate, just a plain idiot."

"I hate you."

"Sure. Be nice and get me some Tylenol while I fix the computer?"

"Slave driver."

"Hey, I didn't kill the thing."

"Yeah, yeah."

Alex got up and went to the bathroom to find the Tylenol, leaving Galen behind to mutter and do whatever it was he was doing to make the computer work again. He opened the medicine cabinet and reached in absently, feeling around for the smooth plastic bottle.

His fingers touched rough cloth first.

Bandages.

Alex fully opened the cabinet door to stare at the roll of bandages there, heart thudding in his chest. Why were those there? Had… He grabbed the bandages, and then, almost as an afterthought, the Tylenol, and tried to walk back out into the living room calmly.

"Galen?" His voice sounded strange in his ears.

"Alex, I got your document, and I saved it for you. Dunno what happened to the computer, but it should be okay now. It's titled 'Alex's Story', didn't know what…Alex?" He half-turned in the seat. "What's wrong…"

Alex didn't move.

"Alex? What's wrong?" Galen had to get up and walk over, at which point he saw what Alex was holding. "…Oh, Alex…" He tried to take the bandages.

Alex wrenched them away, shaking. "Galen? Let me see – let me see your wrists – "

"Alex, it's not what you think."

"Let me see!"

Galen sighed and pushed up the sleeves of his sweater. Nothing, only the old white scars from the past. "Alex – "

"Your legs, your stomach…Galen…"

"Alex. Listen to me." Galen took the bandages and the Tylenol and set them on the floor. "No, okay? I wouldn't do that again. Not after last time. I found the bandages when I was cleaning the other day and put them out because I thought they might be needed sometime. I wouldn't start again; I promised you! And I'll keep promising you until you believe me." He sighed and reached out, pulling Alex into his arms.

Alex shivered and clutched at him. "I love you," he whispered hoarsely. "You don't know how it felt to see you…" He couldn't speak of it, not how he found him in the back alley, blood pooling around both wrists, how he would have died if Alex hadn't gone out to throw out the trash that day, because the garbage truck was a day late and had shifted pickup to Wednesday. "You almost died. You didn't talk to me. I would have listened." He buried his face in Galen's shoulder. "I love you; you should have talked to me..."

Galen swallowed convulsively. "I know, I know. I'm so sorry, Alex. I wouldn't do that again. I can't do that to you. You have to believe me." He stroked his hair, soothingly. "Okay?"

A last shuddering sigh, and Alex raised his head and stepped back, wiping at his eyes and smiling feebly. "Sorry. That was a weird bit of an emotional breakdown."

Galen smiled back and leaned forward to press a quick smile to his lips. "Going all girly on me?"

Alex made a face. "I thought you said you were sick?"

"…Oops?"

"Geez. Anyways, you said something about the computer being fixed?"

"Yeah… How long before you're done that thing anyways?"

"Actually…" Alex went back to the desk and skimmed through the document. "It's pretty much done. Here, take your medicine and put these back while I finish it, and then maybe we could go out for coffee or something?"

"You're asking me out on a date?"

"Is that a problem?" Alex murmured, already moving back to finish the assignment. He stopped when he felt slim arms encircle his waist.

"Or we could stay home and eat Texas toast with cinnamon butter, and you could study, and keep me warm," Galen whispered in his ear. "I could just make you coffee…only you're not done your chocolate yet. Couldn't we do that instead? And if you really wanted I could make spaghetti for dinner and bring out the candles and roses and chocolate – "

"Shut up, you sappy romantic. Shouldn't you be resting if you're sick?"

Galen tugged on his shirt. "You be my pillow."

Sighing, Alex turned around. "If you even tried to be any cuter I'd probably have to give you the world, you stupid manipulator. It's not fair to the people who don't know how to pull off puppy-dog eyes."

Galen gave him an example.

"I hate you. You know what, I don't care if you're sick – " Alex stepped forward to press a soft, lingering kiss to Galen's lips. "But then again, that's probably your plan, isn't it?"

Galen feigned hurt as he carried Alex's textbooks to the couch and dropped them on the coffee table. "How could you accuse me of something like that?" He patted the seat beside him, beaming when Alex sat down and drew the afghan over the both of them.

"Stop distracting me, I need to study… Galen!"

Of course, between Galen and the lack of sleep, Alex never did get much studying in, and of course, the day after it was Alex's turn to get sick, but, he figured he didn't mind getting sick that much, with Galen to play nurse and feed him chicken soup.

Not a bad deal.


-fin-

a/n: originally, alex was going to be the tech-savvy guy, but somehow that changed. oh well. it still doesn't sit right in my mind, but... oh yeah, i think alex was originally supposed to be the dominant one, i think, but that didn't really work out either. meh.

no. not inspired by someone's deviation. w00t.

and galen and his distracting isn't anything sketchy. just little things like poking and jabbing and moving around on the couch too much so it's hard for alex to hold his book still.