Chris wakes up to his phone ringing. At first, he thinks that Zach is calling him, which is stupid because he’s literally in his own hotel room down the hall. Then he realizes that it’s actually a facetime call and that’s actually even worse.
“I’m dying,” Zach moans as soon as his face pops up on the screen.
Chris squints at his picture. If he focuses hard enough, Zach does look a little iffy. “Why’d you do this? Seriously, you could’ve just complained to me in person. This is a new low, even for you.”
Zach scoffs, gives a sad little cough, and then sniffles pathetically. “I might not have made it. And I didn’t think you’d believe me if I said I was dying and didn’t show you my face as proof. Ergo FaceTime.”
“Well, you were right. I don’t believe you.”
“Also, I wanted your face to be the last one I saw before I expired.”
“Because you love me?” Chris rolls his eyes and shuffles further down into his bed sheets. For hotel linens, they’re surprisingly quality.
“No, because I hoped your eyes would have healing properties. Cry on me, save my life. Like in that Disney movie.” Zach coughs into his fist and turns watery pleading eyes to the screen.
Chris is unimpressed. “Like Rapunzel? This is sad, man.” Sick Zach is a terror. Not that Chris is any better, but at least he tones down on the dramatics and doesn’t send his will to his friends and family via FaceTime. He sighs, probably right down the microphone. Zach hates when he does that. “Do you expect me to come take care of you?”
“Well, if you’re offering, I’m certainly not going to say no,” Zach says, looking more alert at the prospect of being babied. “Besides, you owe me.”
“I owe you?” Chris asks confused. He catches his scrunchy expression in the little box in the corner of his phone screen and tries to look more annoyed. “Are you sure it’s not because of my natural caregiving nature?”
Zach coughs wetly again before fixing Chris with a patented Bitch Face, “Yes, you owe me. Who was it that sat up with you all night putting cold towels on your neck-”
Oh. Right. Of course Zach would hold it over his head. It's not Chris’ fault everyone else abandoned him. “Okay, okay. I get it, I-”
“Just last weekend when you ate a bad clam or something and vomited for two days straight? Remember you forced me to deal with your sorry ass? Do you remember that, Chris?”
Chris can feel his right eye start to twitch a little. “I remember,” he grumbles. He should just hang up now, press that little red ‘end call’ button and let Zach suffocate himself in his shitty hotel room. But because of his self-proclaimed ‘natural caregiving nature’ he doesn’t do that. No, instead he pulls himself out of his warm blanket burrito, shoves his glasses on, and tells Zach that as soon as he’s got clothes on, he’ll be over.
Zach says clothes are optional and blows him kisses as he hangs up.
“Damn, dude. You really are a sorry sight. How many boxes of tissues have you gone through?”
Zach is propped up on every pillow he has, sheets pulled up to his chin. His eyes are faintly red and he won’t stop sniffling. Chris’ gag reflex spasms in sympathy.
He’s about ready to turn tail and bolt to save his own immune system, by potentially seeking shelter in his room’s bathtub, but Chris forces himself to stay put. He’s a good friend, all other opinions be damned.
“Just finished my second box,” Zach says, voiced wrecked. “And now that you’re here, you can grab me a third. It’s in the bathroom.”
“I can’t believe this is all I’m good for,” Chris complains as he walks into the en-suite anyway. It’s the only space in Zach’s hotel room that isn’t a disaster area. Probably because he hasn’t moved from his bed all morning. Chris washes his hands for good measure before snatching up the new tissue box. It takes much of his self-control not to just chuck it at Zach’s sad sleepy head as punishment.
Once he’s got it in his hands, Zach stares like he didn’t just use two before this and doesn’t actually know what he’s looking at.
“Okay, now what’s wrong?” Chris forces himself to take his hands off his hips, feeling too much like his mother.
Zach holds out the box. “You aren’t even going to open it for me?”
Chris sits down hard on the end of the bed, face in his hands and not quite sure if he’s screaming on the outside like he is on the inside. “I can’t believe you. I mean it, how have I not killed you yet?”
“You wouldn’t kill me. You’d miss me too much. Don’t argue, either. We both know it’s true.”
He’s right, damn it. “Fine, then explain to me why I at least continue to put up with your antics.”
“Clam vomit,” Zach intones nasally.
Chris can feel his face getting hot. It was honest mistake‒ he’s not a clam connoisseur, how was he supposed to have known they weren’t supposed to taste like that?
“Give me the tissue box, you reprobate.”
After going through four consecutive tissues, Zach settles into the mattress and attempts to focus on whatever mundane shit Chris has on the television. They sit in a comfortable silence, Zach lounging in his mountain of pillows and Chris perched halfway off the edge of the bed.
Vaguely paying attention to the Food Network program he flipped to, Chris knows he’s being stupid. Zach doesn’t feel well, and obviously wanted him here for comfort that he’s not currently providing. Zach’s probably not even that contagious. More than likely it’s a head cold and Zach is just whining about how bad his sinus pressure is. If Chris really wants to live up to his ‘natural caregiving nature,’ then he needs to get his head out of his ass, and his ass all the way onto the bed.
“Going to have to chug an Emergen-C after this,” Chris sighs to himself.
“What was that? Oh man, dude, no. I’ll infect you.”
“Too late,” Chris groans, wedging himself into the other side of Zach’s pillow mountain. “Just don’t breathe on me directly and I’ll probably be fine.”
Zach sniffles into his fistful of tissues. “It’s not worth it. You don’t want the plague, Chris. Save yourself.”
Chris rolls to the side and props himself up on an elbow. “Zach, you could’ve asked anyone else, like Zoe, ‘cause she’s maternal and stuff. But if you got her family sick she’d literally kill you.”
“Maybe she should have. I hurt.”
“I know you hurt, and that’s why I’m here. You asked me to keep you company, and sure, you said I owed you for the clam fiasco-”
“-last weekend, but you know I’d have come regardless. So I’m putting aside my neurotic tendencies for now and you’re going to keep your face away from my face-”
Zach pouts, lower lip wibbling.
“I know, but don’t give me that look. You’re keeping your face far, far away from my face and we’re going to cuddle.”
“You don’t have to do that, Chris,” Zach argues, even as he shifts a little bit closer on the bed.
Chris sighs and wraps his arms around Zach’s overheated body. “I’m not giving you any choice, man. Pay attention to what’s on the tv.”
Zach snuffles quietly, and Chris thinks he’s on his way to falling asleep when he hears Zach say, “You know, I think I remember seeing Princess Diaries in the channel guide.”
“On second thought, maybe I’ll leave and let you die.”
“No, I’m sorry. I’ll pay for your Emergen-C. The family size.”
Chris presses a kiss to Zach’s sweaty forehead. “Damn right, you will.”