Six

I groaned, rolling onto my stomach on the cool bathroom floor, an icy balm for my feverish skin. A knock cut off my pity party. The door creaked open to reveal Cole in a dress shirt, tie, and jeans. I curled in tighter on myself, not wanting to see me like this, and forgetting the fact that we had shared multiple illnesses together.

"Are you okay?" He said gently, smoothing my hair back and gingerly helping me lean against the wall.

"No," I moaned, burying my pounding head into my knees, letting my hair fall around me.

"What's wrong?" He murmured, stroking my hair soothingly.

"Too many sugar cookies. I told you that contest was a bad idea." I breathed in and out through my mouth, concentrating on not throwing up again.

He shrugged, laughing under his breath. "It's not my fault you can't hold your cookies."

At the word 'cookies', a plate full of Christmas cookies with green icing to look like Christmas trees came to mind. I must have turned as green as the icing because Cole opened his mouth to most likely ask if I was okay again, but he never had the chance. I pushed him out of the tiny bathroom, and threw open the toilet lid.

Spasms racked my body violently and I closed my eyes tightly in case the scene in the bowl suddenly got company. I draped limply on the white porcelain, and heard a tentative knock.

Cole peered in, and I slammed the lid shut and flushed, grabbing a wad of toilet paper and covering my face, trying to clean myself up and avoid looking at him simultaneously. A few semi-successful minutes later, I peeked through the tangle of filmy paper in my hands, seeing him leaning against the counter patiently. I sighed, getting up on shaky legs and making my way over to the sink.

I ran my hands through my hair once, fingers knotting in it painfully. Finally getting my mane of hair out of my face, I nearly made a break for the bathroom again. My eyes were puffy, my hair looking as though two cats had fought in it, and my skin pale and clammy. I opened the cabinet, getting my toothbrush and squirted some toothpaste on it, forcing it into my dry mouth. I went after every nook and cranny, determined at least not to have bad breath if I couldn't fix my- well everything else.

I glanced in the mirror, eyes flashing to Cole's and then to the smirk that graced his lips. I rolled my eyes and braced myself on the counter, placing my foot firmly on his chest and pushing him out of the bathroom. I coaxed my somewhat relenting hair into a ponytail, toothbrush hanging out of the side of my mouth droopily. I grabbed it, turning on the tap before rinsing and spitting. I wiped my mouth on the back of my hand, reaching for my hairbrush and ripping the binder out of my hair.

A few minutes later with hair covering the vicinity of the counter, I pulled the silky strands into a loose tail at the nape of my neck. A tentative knock made me glance in the mirror, seeing worried blue eyes and scrunched eyebrows through the crack of the door.

I nodded, and his full reflection came into view, his whole posture screaming to know if I was all right. I rolled my eyes.

"Before you ask, I'm just fine idiot." My voice cracked as the nickname rolled off my tongue, but there was no real malice behind it.

Cole clutched a hand to his chest, sagging against the doorframe. "You wound me madam!"

I grinned, and poked at his shoulder. "Dork," I rechristened him. He rolled his eyes and his hands shot out towards me, fingers flying along my ribs as he tickled me mercilessly.

I shrieked and laughed, gasping for breath. My lungs moved weakly in response as black dots floated into my vision like demented bubbles. I slapped weakly at Cole's arms, eyes fluttering as my head suddenly felt too full and too empty at the same time and then all the bubbles popped, coating everything in darkness.

I groaned, burying my face in my pillow as voices wormed their way through my closed door- Loud, angry voices. Through the static of sleep, I managed to catch a few words: Party, sick, my name, Cole's name.

My eyes shot open. Cole.

Oh shit.

I staggered out of bed, grasping blindly for the doorknob. Ah, I thought triumphantly as my fingers closed around the cool surface. I jerked it open, blinking blearily at the sight in front of me.

Dad, with his fist full of Cole's shirt, shot away from him like he was coated in acid. He had the decency to look ashamed before half-heartedly attempting to clear his expression in hopes that he was mistaken, and hadn't seen him. Too late.

Mom, with her hand clapped over her eyes in exasperation, peeked through her fingers at me, giving me a tired smile.

And Cole…

Well quite frankly, Cole looked like he had just had the crap scared out of him. And knowing Dad, he probably had.

Mom hurried over to me, already carrying a jar of Vicks and a thermometer. "Oh, good honey, you're awake." She wouldn't meet my gaze. So then she was in on Dad's little 'intervention'.

I opened my mouth to say something, anything, but the choice was taken when she shoved the thermometer in it, forcing me to keep quiet.

Cole rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly as he met my frustrated glare.

Dad bumped his shoulder rather roughly with his. "Don't you have something to say to my daughter young man?" He grunted, his bushy eyebrows drawn down low on his forehead to complete the perfect image of the 'disapproving father'.

"Uh, I'm really sorry for what I did." Cole mumbled, looking down at the floor guiltily. "Please forgive me."

Dad's mouth parted, obviously preparing to answer for me and defend my honor or whatever, but luckily for me, the thermometer beeped. I ripped it out of my mouth, not even bothering to look at the number.

"Yes, I do." I rushed out, crossing my arms over my chest. I stared defiantly at my dumbfounded father, mouth still hanging open wide.

"Now don't you have something that you need to say to Cole Dad?" Although my tone was light, we both knew that it wasn't a question but a demand.

He looked down at the floor, becoming the mirror image of Cole. He scrunched up his face in distaste, but managed to mumble sulkily- "I'm sorry for threatening you."

"I'd like a minute to talk to Cole. Alone."

Dad opened his mouth to protest, but Mom gave me a sympathetic look, grabbing his elbow and steering him out of the room. Nice of her, but she wasn't completely off the hook. Not by a long shot.

The door clicked shut behind my parents, leaving in its wake an awkward silence.

Cole finally broke it, for which I was grateful. Neither of us could stay quiet for long. He squinted at me, as if trying to place my face. "Mrs. West? Is that you? I didn't know that you were in town visiting. Why, if I had known, I would have ironed my slacks and dressed accordingly."

I rolled my eyes at this, shoving his arm before walking the short distance into the living room and flopping down on one of the couches. Even standing on my feet this long made my head fuzzy with the desire to go back to sleep.

Mrs. West was actually Cole's grandmother, Victoria West, but she refused to be called 'grandma', insisting instead upon Mrs. West. If I had to use two words to describe her they would be: Ancient and strict. She disapproved of slouching, raised voices, elbows on the table, and most of all, a couple without parental supervision. I had a feeling that if she found out about me and Cole, she would have a stroke.

Cole grinned lazily at me as he threw himself onto the opposite side of the couch. He played with the hem of my pajama pants, tracing the worn Packers logo.

"So…" he drew out the word, glancing up at me. "I guess this means that you're not coming to the New Year's Eve party?" he asked dryly.

I snatched a tissue out of my sweatshirt pocket- how the heck did that get in there? –and blew my nose. The resulting sound was something like an angry goose. I flinched at the sound of my voice as I answered him. I sounded like I was talking while plugging my nose. "No, I'm definitely not going."

He patted my knee comfortingly. "Well there's always next year." He stood to go, hooking his thumbs in his belt loops. "Catherine should be over later with some soup from mom." He grabbed the rumpled throw from the back of the couch, tucking it around me snugly. I heard him say something else, but my vision was swimming and it sounded like I was hearing him from under water. Finally, I gave up and dived in head first into peaceful oblivion.

Hey guys, sorry I haven't updated in a while. I was stuck. I am stuck in just about everything that's fueled by creativity, and I'm trying to work through it, but it's not working out very well. Your guys' respsonses really do make my day, and hopefully I can get through this soon. Reviews are loved, the people who write them even more so.

SG.