Rory doesn’t leave for his run after he wakes up. One reason is because it’s still raining. So he stews in the living room because he can’t run. Another reason is because his ribs’re bruised, and he can’t breathe. It doesn’t help, either, that he didn’t sleep at all last night. I know this because he was pacing around the room at 3AM. And then left the room at 4AM. And you can hear him trying to blow his nose from across the house.
I’m pretty sure his parents woke up and asked if he was okay at one point.
And no one’s home to make sure he doesn’t, like, pass out while he’s gone.
I mean, he also can’t run because he looks like death.
“You okay?” I ask. But I feel stupid for asking because he’s clearly sick.
Rory coughs. Like he’s trying to cough out his gut. “Where’s the OJ?” He doesn’t wait for me to reply. He goes straight for the refrigerator and slams it shut hard. “Goddambid.” He open-mouth sighs and grabs the tissue box. “I’m gonna burder you, Jackson.”
“Go stand in the shower.” I look at him from the dining room table. “Boil yourself.”
“That isn’t fuddy,” he spits, snorking back whatever’s stuffed in his nose. I don’t think it does a lot of help.
“Go stand in the shower,” I say again. “Hot water can help you breathe.”
He groans and begins making his way upstairs before he comes down. Rory’s got this distant look in his eyes like not all of him’s there. “I need soup.”
“We don’t have soup.”
Rory still goes over to the pantry and looks. He holds out a chicken noodle soup and shakes it. “We do.” But every time he moves, his hands shake. His face is almost white, even though he’s glaring. At one point, he gets out the pot and then looks at the can. Like he’s waiting for it to open itself. “I deed a can obener,” he says, like he’s letting me know more than him.
I stand and grab his arm. His skin’s clammy. “Come on.”
“But I wan’ soup.”
“I’ll make you soup. Go upstairs.”
“I can do it.” But the look in his eye tells me that isn’t an option.
“Go to bed, or no soup,” I reply, glaring.
Rory offended, more so hurt than angry, though. He sighs, coughing, and treads lightly up the stairs and back to our room.
I watch him go upstairs. I’m actually kinda stunned he didn’t try and fight me more. He must be real sick.
But then he comes back down. There’re rings under his eyes and his skin looks shiny. He better not fucking touch me. “Is id done?” Rory’s eyes are down and his hands are fidgeting together. He’s still shivering.
I groan. “Rory, go upstairs.”
“We’re dot allowed food.” he says, rubbing his arms. Ever since the Water Balloons, we’ve not been allowed to bring food upstairs.
“Go get my blanket,” I say, sighing. Grandma would be proud. I’m not.
“Your grandba blanket?”
I groan and turn him around. “Go get it, and sit in the living room.”
“Why would dai wan’ your grandba blanket?” Except his body doesn’t try to fight me pushing him towards the stairs. “Id’s fuckin’ gross and covered in – ”
“Go get it.”
He yawns. It’s that kinda yawn where you can tell everything is blocked up. When Rory steps, his arms swing like a puppet. “Oooooooookay.”
Holy shit, this guy’s dying.
Rory comes back down with my blanket wrapped around his shoulder, and flops onto the couch.
I wait for the damn thing to get hot.
I’m momentarily tempted to throw in chili flakes. Too much pepper. Garlic powder. A good couple squirts of ketchup. Mayonnaise?
But then I hear him throw up in-sync with the thunder.
“Rory,” I complain, coming around the couch to see him curled in a ball, clear phlegmy vomit dripping down the sides of the couch. He didn’t get any on the blanket. That’s what matters to me right now. “You gotta go to bed now.”
“Bud ’m hungry,” he whines.
I look at the door. Where are our parents?
“Jacksooooooooon,” he whines, yawning.
Oh my God. “Sit up.”
“Why?” Rory does it, though.
“C’mon, asshole, let’s go to bed.”
“Really?” he says. He actually sounds excited about it. So Rory flings himself at me, smelling like B.O. and vomit. “Take be, Princess.”
My arm wraps around his waist. “C’mon.” My skin crawls. He’s sticky.
He sniggers into my neck and steps with me up the stairs to our room. He’s too hot and sweaty to touch. It’s awful. And he keeps walking into me like he’s trying to trip me on purpose.
Or maybe he’s just really sick.
As soon as his ass touches the bed, he looks at me and whispers, “Thanks, Jackson.”
I pull back the sheets, and he crawls into bed. My arms flopping at my sides, I reply, “I’d…hope you do the same for me…if I was this sick.”
Rory pulls the covers up over himself, still shaking. “Thanks.”
“If only you were this nice in real life,” I sigh, heading towards the door.
“I wish I was, too.” Rory sits up and looks at me, eyes heavy and glossy. “I don’d wa’a be bean, Jackson. I’b just scared. Cuz you’re, like, cute ‘n stuff.”
“Oh, gross,” I say, rolling my eyes. “Go to bed.”
“Okay,” he sighs, lying down.
I open one window and draw the blinds. “Night, asshole.”
And I close the door behind me, inhaling. After a second, I ask, “What the hell am I supposed to do with all that soup now?”