The comm beeped incessantly. Hugh wanted to silence the thing by chucking his communicator across the room, even through the beeping was coming through the central comm. He just wanted it to stop. He hadn’t been to sleep in thirty-six hours and he’d finally laid down in his quarters two hours ago. Two hours of sleep wasn’t enough. All of his patients were stable and – fuck. Hugh’s eyes flew open. He scrambled to retrieve his PADD from the bedside table to pull up Paul’s stats, but only succeeded in knocking it onto the floor with a loud clatter that made his head pound. Okay, not enough sleep and a headache. Not the best combination.
“Culber here,” he responded, rubbing his temples.
“It’s Tracy. I’m so sorry to wake you, Hugh. I know you just went to bed.” Her voice sounded very apologetic and also a bit irritated.
Hugh immediately knew he could cause that type of irritation. “What’s wrong? How’s Paul?”
Tracy sighed. “He’s still stable. But he’s awake and a bit agitated and very groggy. He just…” She paused and sighed again. “I don’t want to make you come down here, but –”
“I’ll be there in five. Culber out.” Hugh fell back against his pillow, trying to wish away the pounding in his skull. At least he could get an analgesic for his headache when he got to the medbay.
Getting up, Hugh dressed in his sweatpants and a well-loved academy t-shirt. He glanced around his sparsely decorated quarters, wondering if his confession to Paul as they left their own time and traveled to the future, might bring them back together and he wouldn’t have to try to sleep alone anymore. He’d asked Tracy for sleep aids a few times but didn’t want it to seem like an issue and did a lot of running in the corridors at night. He slipped his shoes on and headed to the medbay.
Hugh stepped inside, expecting alarms to be going off or Tracy to be yelling and pulling out her hair. Instead, she met him at the door and pointed to a corner of the medbay. Hugh froze, not entirely sure what he was seeing. Surrounding Paul’s biobed were sheets, held up with medical tape and various stools and tables. A small light came from beneath the main part of the… blanket tent. A blanket fort. Hugh turned to Tracy and made a face.
“I know. I went to check another patient, who was in pain and needed evaluated. I turned back to find him building his… fort. When I tried to get him to stop, he giggled and kept going. I called you down as soon as I could. I’m worried he’ll undo the healing we did on his chest, where he was impaled,” she explained.
“I understand.” Hugh started to turn back but was stopped by Tracy’s hand on his arm.
“As a warning, he’s very groggy and medicated. But that medication will start wearing off soon and he’ll be in a lot of pain if we don’t get him reconnected to his IV drip.”
“Thank you.” He squeezed her hand and released it.
Hugh crouched down, attempting to see into Paul’s fort. There was a clear door area. Hugh slowly crawled over to it and pretended to knock, making the sound with his mouth.
“Paul, can I come in?” he asked.
The sound that followed was… a snort and giggling. Oh my goodness. Paul slowly moved to the entrance of the fort and pushed the tent up. Hugh quickly noted how he held one arm to his bare chest, protecting the red, newly healed spot on his chest. He only wore a pair of medbay scrub pants. A goofy smile was on Paul’s face. Paul motioned for him to come in and let the sheet drop. He scooted away from the space, letting Hugh crawl in.
Hugh glanced around the small fort, noting the emergency lamp in the center, which was giving off a pale blue light. Paul scooted over to it, making small pained movements that Hugh knew couldn’t be comfortable. He listened as Paul let out an uneasy breath.
“What are you doing?” Hugh asked gently.
“I made a blanket fort.” He gestured to the structure around him.
“I can see that. Why did you make a blanket fort?”
“It’s pretty! And it’s warm and cozy and I never want to leave it!”
Yep, the medication had made Paul as high as a kite. Oh dear. Hugh scooted over to him, noting that Paul’s breathing hadn’t changed. It was a tight, pained breathing, but his demeanor was still excited.
“It’s a nice blanket fort, but maybe we should –”
“Invite Tilly to join us!” Paul interrupted before giggling.
“I’m not sure she wants to come in our blanket fort right now. Maybe we should –”
“Stay here forever!” Paul interrupted. In one smooth movement, he flopped over onto Hugh’s lap.
Hugh managed to catch his arms before his chest touched the floor. Damn. That was close. He meant to glare at Paul but was caught by surprise by the loving look on Paul’s face as he settled into Hugh’s lap, resting his head against his legs.
“I missed you,” Paul whispered. “Every day. Every damn day and then you were there, but you weren’t here. But now we can stay in our fort forever.” Paul closed his eyes, shifting in discomfort.
“I miss you too. But we can’t stay in our fort right now. You were really hurt, only hours ago and you need to be in bed until your body is fully healed.” Hugh gently ran his fingers through Paul’s hair as he hummed softly. “Let me take care of you.”
“Okay.” His words were almost too soft to hear.
Hugh kissed Paul’s forehead and gave his hand a little squeeze. He helped Paul maneuver to sitting up and slowly scoot out of the tent. It was slow and Paul’s expression changed as they came into the open air.
“I don’t feel so good,” Paul murmured, rubbing his chest.
Hugh gently took his hand to stop his movements. “I’m sure you don’t. But I’m gonna make sure you are okay and not in pain. Promise.” He swept Paul up in his arms in one smooth movement.
“Wheeee,” Paul whispered, smiling again.
Tracy came over and helped reconnect Paul to his medication and covered him up with the blanket. She let them alone after a minute. Hugh kissed Paul’s forehead again, feeling the headache still pounding in his. It was only going to get worse if he didn’t take something.
“Sleep. No more forts until you’re feeling better.”
Paul nodded sleepily. “Okay, honey. Night-night.” His eyes slid closed with a dopey grin on his face.
Hugh sighed, rubbing his forehead as Paul fell asleep.
“I added a sedative to his IV drip. That should give us a few more hours of sleep this time.” Tracy came up behind him and pressed a hypospray to his neck. “For your headache. I’ll make sure he didn’t undo any of your handywork and let you know if I need you. Go back to your quarters and sleep.”
Hugh thanked her and headed back to his quarters. Laying down on his bed, he made a mental note to build a blanket fort with Paul when he was recovered. He bet they would make a much more impressive blanket fort.