Lights… Camera… Action!
*Chapter One * Chapter Two * Chapter Three * Chapter Four * Chapter Five * Chapter Six * Chapter Seven * Chapter Eight * Chapter Nine * Chapter Ten * Chapter Eleven *
Margaret knocked again. He had to be home… he didn’t dare miss this meeting. But then why wasn’t he answering? She knocked again. The door opened.
He stood before her, leaning to one side, one hand on the doorknob, the other clutching a balled-up tissue, hovering in front of his stomach. He wore a white turtleneck tucked loosely into black sweat pants. "I probably shoulda called you."
To her memory, she’d never seen him look that bad before; even before make-up got to him. "Brian?"
His short brown hair badly needed to be combed. His face was pale except for bright red cheeks and a little redness around his nose. He sniffed and closed his bright blue, bloodshot eyes, stepping back to raise the tissue higher. "Uuuhh" he inhaled, shaking for a second. His head tilted back, then snapped forward in spasm, his nose going into the tissue. "EhTCHOO!"
She took a step back, herself.
"Bless—" But he wasn’t finished. "EhhTSHOO! EhhSHOO! EhhTISHOO! ETSHOOO!"
"Done yet?" she asked impatiently.
He stayed there, bent in half, nose buried in the tissue. "Yeah, Bless me."
"I should say so... so are we going to hit the script or what?"
"Uhh.. we… iihhhh… IHHSHOO! EhhhhTISHOO! UUhhhAAEEEHHSHOO!!"
Already, she seemed rather annoyed. "Are you ok?"
"Bless me again… Yeah. I, uh… I kinda came down with a bit of a cold…"
"So I noticed," she said coldly, trying to lean back out of breathing range. "You feel up to doing work, I hope?"
He nodded, opening the door wide and stepping aside so she could enter. "I guess so. As long as you don’t mind."
She breezed past him with a little annoyance. "This has to be done whether I mind or not." She stopped when she got inside, staring with disgust at his living room. "Oh Brian… ICK!" The floor was littered with tissues, cups, and clothes. The couch was covered in pillows and blankets, along with the same. "What’s wrong with the bedroom?" she asked, looking at him with raised eyebrows. They always worked in the living room. The least he could have done was confine his germs to the bedroom rather than set up base camp where they always worked.
He shrugged, coughing into his shoulder and going before her, brushing a shirt, jacket, and some tissues off the chair by the couch. "Couch is more comfort… com…" he laid a hand on the back of the chair for support, raised the tissue to his nose, his nostrils flaring. "uuhhh… EhhhTSHOOO! EhhhhTISHOO! EhhhCHISHHH! EhhhhTISHHHH!" He gasped for breath, sat down on the couch and grabbed two tissues from the box on the coffee table and blew his nose strongly. "Bless me," he said, scooting over on the couch to sit closer to the chair.
She sat down hesitantly. "Must you sneeze so much?"
He nodded. "You haven’t heard anything yet. I’ve never been able to sneeze just once. It’s always 6 or 7 times… I think… uhhh" he pulled a few more tissues out of the box, but wasn’t able to get them to his face in time to catch the slightly wet, strong sneezes. "EhhhhCHHOOO! EhhhTICHOOO! EhhhhhTCHHHOO! Eeehhh ehhhh ehhhTISHHOOO! EhhhSHOO! EhhhTCHOO! EhhhTISHHH! EhhTISHH! EhhhhhhhTIISHHHOOO!" He sniffed, breathed hard, and blew his nose a few more times. "Bless me," he muttered, pulling a blanket and wrapping it around his shoulders. He looked momentarily for the thermometer he’d left around there somewhere but was unable to locate it. He was feeling cold all of a sudden; his fever had been up and down all day long.
"Let’s just get this sniff over with as fast as possible, okay Mags?"
She sat pristinely in the chair, snazzy business suit not wrinkled a bit. Her legs were crossed, correction pencil poised over the manuscript which rested, bound neatly, in her lap. "It’ll take as long as it needs to take. Geez, you’re an actor, Brian. The least you could do is act well for a few minutes."
He grumbled. "I don’t pay you to insult me. Just get this over with."
"Fine. We stopped yesterday on scene four. The only thing we haven’t covered is the love scene. Now, full nudity is not in your contract, but you did agree to a convincing love scene, which means length. Now here they…"
He blew his nose several times, getting annoyed looks from Maggie. "Excuse me."
She continued, looking down at her copy. "Here they have you on your back, and Claire is at the foot of the bed. She comes up from beneath the covers, which are up to your waist. Then all covers come off as she spreads out over you, moving up. As long as they show nothing but the sides of your thighs you should be all right, here. I’ll make note of that and be sure to watch the camera angles, how does that sound?"
"And are you all right with the kissing?"
"How sniff much is there again?"
"Well, just a bit on the face and neck right before she moans here." She pointed to the script, as if Brian could read it from over on the couch.
He sighed. She was being difficult, but he didn’t feel strong enough, so he let her have her way. "Fine."
"Now, the hard part is when you both turn over. The camera will probably pan from above to the side at the same time, should I insist on waist up rather than full body?"
He nodded, holding his hand up to his face, his mouth half-open and his eyes closed. "eeehhhIIIHHSHOO! EhhhSHOO! EHHHCHOO! uuhhh.. ehhh… EHHSHOO! eeeehhhhSHOO! EeehhhCHOO! eehh… eehhhIHHSHOO! SHOO! sniff EhhhSHISHHH! EHHCHEOO!" He blew his nose loudly, falling back against the couch with a shiver. "Bless me."
She grumbled and went on. "OK, so that’s noted. The scene fades out just before climax, so we don’t need to worry about that. It opens in scene five with you lying in her arms. She coddles you—hey, that’s what you need right now."
He looked at her blankly over the folds of a handful of tissues. "What?"
"A woman to coddle you. How goes that search for a girlfriend, by the way? Or are you going to be brining that ‘Virginia’ girl to the opening? Because you know that accountant friend of mine I told you about is still available…"
He mumbled something and quickly occupied himself with finishing off a glass of water.
"She’s quite beautiful. Long legs, blonde—you like blondes don’t you? Of course you do. Everyone likes blondes. She’s quite the looker. You’d look so cute together. I’m sure you’d love her, and it would do wonders for your image, Brian. Consider it, all right?"
If looks could kill… "No sniff thanks."
"One date, that’s all I ask! I know she’d love to go to your opening with you. She just loves your movies. I’m sure she’d love you—"
"Would you… hehhh… uuuhh…" he held them back. "Would you cut it out with this love thing? ‘I’d love her’ or ‘She’d love me’ I mean really now that is more than unreasonable. You couldn’t begin to know what I’d love. And I told you, no more propositions! You’re my agent, not my dating councilor."
"But, Brian, how do you know unless you go for it? She could turn out to be the one!"
"Maggie, sniff I am not in the mood to argue with you over this."
"Then you’ll go out on a date?"
"No!" he was rapidly losing his temper. "Could we just get back to sniff the script? I really don’t feel up to an argument right now."
She threw her pen down on her lap. "It’s all about you isn’t it? You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do that. You don’t feel well—"
"Well, this is my life!"
"This is my job, Brian! It’s my responsibility to make you presentable, to make you the star you are. How do you think I feel having to work under such conditions?"
"What’s wrong with you, Brian? Why won’t you just agree to this? What do you have to lose? Why am I the one having to cover your behind?"
Sick or not, he stood up. "Get out of my apartment."
She stood up, half an inch taller with her heels. "The script—"
"Screw the script. I’m sick. Tell them that. Or finish it yourself. I’ll agree to whatever is in my contract and hold you to that." He rubbed his nose. "I didn’t hire you to ‘maintain my image’ I hired you to get me good parts and keep them."
"Yes but in keeping them, you’ve forgotten that image is your greatest asset."
"Oh, of course!" he said sarcastically. "And when you took one look at my résumé and acting ability and leapt at the…" He was going to sneeze. He was going to sneeze NOW. "eehhh… hehhhCHOO!" There was no stopping them. "uuuhh… eehhhSHOO! EeehhhTCHOO! Ehhh… ehhhSHOO! EehhhSHOO! Eeeehh… uuhhh.. ehhhhhIIHHHSHOO!" He wiped his nose on his sleeve. "You practically leapt out of your skin at the chance to take me on. And that had absolutely nothing to do with my image."
She threw the packet of paper and pencil into her small briefcase. "Fine! I’ll finish it myself, Mr. Negative. Just remember, I’m the one who got you on the cover of People two months ago!"
That was the last straw. "My picture was an inch tall in the bottom corner!"
"Get out of sniff my apartment right now!" he growled, yelling.
"Fine! I’ll finish without you!"
She stormed towards the door as Brian fell back against the couch, his handsome face red from anger. "Sniff And sniff don’t slam th—" She slammed the door. He sat all the way back and sighed, causing him to cough a few times.
A minute or two later, the door opened again, and closed softly.
Brian got ready to spit out some more harsh words when his eyes opened and fell upon someone who was most definitely not Margaret. He took a deep breath to calm himself. "Hey, honey."
The handsome young man smiled and deposited his things: trench coat in the open closet, briefcase by the stairs, grocery bags on the counter by the fridge. He then went to the couch, his footsteps soft and familiar. He kissed Brian on the top of his head and patted him lightly on the arm. He was nearly the opposite of Brian in every physical way. Tall where Brian was short, dark brown hair where Brian’s was blonde, deep brown eyes where Brian’s were bright blue. "How’re you feeling, Kid?" It was a nickname Brian had picked up on a gangster movie—the movie Brian was in when he met him. And being a whole month and a half older, the two men thought it so hilarious that it stuck.
Brian shrugged and smiled, not wanting to complain. "Better now that you’re here."
The young man, whose name happened to be Aaron, sat down beside Brian on the couch, taking the weak man in his strong arms. Brian went to him, snuggling warmly, nuzzling into the man’s chest. Since Aaron was somewhat taller than Brian, when Brian was slightly hunched over, his eyes met the man’s shoulders. Feeling warm and comforted finally, the man began to whimper softly.
"Ohhh," Aaron said, rubbing his friend’s back and getting a few tissues. "I’m here now, and tomorrow’s Friday, and then it’s the weekend and I can spend so much time with you. You’ll be ok."
Brian wasn’t convinced. "I feel just awful, Honey."
He rubbed his hand up and down Brian’s back. "I know, I know." Men could be such babies when they were sick. "Would you like me to get you anything? I need to go unpack the groceries and then I’m going to take a short nap before dinner; I have those important meetings tomorrow."
Brian considered a moment, but could tell how tired Aaron was. "Nah… thanks, though."
Aaron kissed the top of his head again and helped Brian to lie down against the comfy pillows. "Try to get some rest, ok? I’ll be back in a few short hours."
Brian nodded, letting Aaron tuck the blankets tightly around him the way he liked it. "Thanks, honey."
He had to be sick to say ‘thank you’ at all… let alone twice in the span of three minutes. "Just get some rest, Kid."
Brian nodded, closing his eyes.
Aaron quickly put the groceries away, changed, and dove beneath the covers. He felt so alone in bed without Brian there with him. But his meetings were tomorrow and incredibly important; he couldn’t afford to get sick now. Brian had known this and volunteered to sleep out on the couch; they agreed it was for the best… but it was still going to be difficult for them both.
* * *
His alarm went off a few hours later, brining him back to reality from a very realistic, not to mention wonderful, dream. He dragged himself out of bed, wishing Brian were there to share it with him, and went to the living room to check up on his friends.
He found Brian in the midst of a strong sneezing attack. When he went over, Brian’s cheeks flushed red and Brian sunk deeper into the couch. Aaron took it as a sign and kindly turned back around, to go whip up some dinner. "Poor Brian," he whispered as he began to silently count sneezes. By the time he’d got the soup, pots, and measuring cups out, his count was up to twenty-seven. And by the time the soup was on the stove and the grilled cheese sandwiches were on the frying pan, the count was fifty-two. Greatly concerned, Aaron returned to him.
Brian sat on the edge of the couch, now sneezing repeatedly, violently, without rest. Aaron sat beside him, grabbed a few tissues, and instructed Brian to, "Hold your breath. Take a very deep breath and hold it. Then blow."
"C.. cahhhhh… EhhhTCHOOO! HehhTCHOOO! Can’t st… ehhhhh… UUuhhhhhhTIHHHHHHCHOOO!"
Sixty-four, sixty-five, sixty-six… "Come, on, Kid. You’re going to pass out. Just hold your breath and blow; I know it’ll help."
Brian tried, resulting in a stifled sneeze, "ECHTCH!" and ten seconds of strong coughs. Then the sneezing resumed. "eehhh… EhhhTSHHHOO! Uhhhhh… Ehhh-EhhhTISHHHOOO! EHCHOOO!"
Sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine, seventy… "Good try, honey. Good try. Once more. You can do it."
Brian shook his head.
Aaron kissed his cheek. "Once more, for me. Please?"
After one particularly strong sneeze "UUuuhhhIIIiihhhhhhhhTSHOOO!" He tried, holding his breath in, holding back the urge, and then blowing his nose strongly into the tissues. He coughed a few more times, but the sensation in his nose died down. He blew again, with more control, and again, and again, until he could breathe easily again. He fell into Aaron’s arms, sniffling and shaking with dizziness. "Th-thanks."
Aaron hugged him and suddenly stood up, alarmed. "The sandwiches are burning!" He raced into the kitchen as Brian held back laughter this time.
A good half an hour and some amount of microwaving later, Aaron came out with two trays of soup and sandwiches. "They’re not half as good as your cooking, I’m afraid, but I’m pretty sure they won’t be contracted by the government as suicide devices."
Brian laughed again. "I’ll take my chances. I haven’t eaten a thing since that sniff toast you made me choke down at breakfast."
Aaron was concerned. "You should have called. You need to eat, Kid."
"I slept the whole day away… Hey," he said as he took another spoonful of the soup. "This isn’t half bad."
Grinning, "Really? You like it?"
Brian nodded. "Thanks, honey. This is great." He turned his head and coughed into the crook of his arm. "Excuse me."
He nodded affirmatively once. "Yup. It’s just the cold."
"Poor thing… is there anything I can do for you? I bought you some ginger ale. Would you like some of that? It’s not cold yet, but the ice cubes I stuck in this morning should be—"
"Aaron, Honey. Please stop fussing over me. Just eat your dinner, ok?"
"But…" he looked over at his love with sympathetic eyes. "I want to make you feel better."
With a smile, "I know sniff but this is beyond even your control. It’s just a cold. I’ll recover. Now, tell me about your day at work and I’ll go bake you some cookies. Then we’ll sniff, sniff pat the children on the head and go to sleep in our twin beds."
Aaron smiled. Same old joking Brian.
* * *
As Aaron headed to bed after finishing the dishes, Brian gave him a pitiful look.
"Kid," Aaron said, sighing and going to him. "You know I have those big, important meetings tomorrow, or else I wouldn’t mind if you slept in bed with me." He put the back of his hand on Brian’s forehead. "Your fever is down, maybe gone," he lied; Brain’s temperature was the same as before. "You’ll have a sound sleep here and never miss me. And then tomorrow we can cuddle or whatever all you want."
Brain shook his head. "I won’t sleep a wink sniff, sniff And I always miss you."
"Oh, Brian!" he kissed the man on his forehead.
Brian sneezed six times and was passed the whole tissue box.
"I’ll be right in the next room, ok Kid? I’m not far. Turn on the TV or something to distract you."
"I hate the TV," Brian mumbled, rolling over on his side away from the television set.
"OK, that was uncalled for," he said, taking personal offense, as a television station executive. "Some of it’s worth it." He resisted turning it on to his station and instead turned it to Bravo. Brian’s ears perked at the typical sounds of an artsy, independent film, and rolled back around.
"Cheep shot," he muttered, closing his eyes. "Go to bed. Go to your meetings. Forget that I’m over here dying."
"You’re not dying—"
"I feel like I am!" he snapped angrily.
"There’s no need to get angry now."
"Right, I’ll have a whole night here on the couch to be angry."
He sighed. Brian needed his rest; this was true. "I’d feel better if you took something to help you sleep. Or even just take some Aspirin. I’m sure it would help a lot."
Brian groaned. "I do not take medication, Aaron. You know that."
"It would help."
Aaron’s mouth closed. Brian, sweet little Brian, had never said that to him before. Something had to be terribly wrong. "Kid—" he felt the man’s forehead tenderly. It was burning up. So it was his fever talking; that accounted for the mood swings.
Shaking his head and pushing him away, "Goodnight, Aaron."
Aaron sighed at the coldness in his voice. Brian got into these moods sometimes; there was little he could do but leave him alone until he cooled down. "Goodnight, Brian."
Aaron sat, worried, at his desk. He’d had an ok sleep once he’d been able to push the guilt away enough for him to actually fall asleep. He missed Brian. The morning meetings had gone alright, but he knew the afternoon ones would be even better, and he wanted to share his joy with the man he loved… problem being, the man he loved hated him right now.
Aaron scarfed down a sub and a few donuts, as he read his e-mail. Then the buzzer buzzed. "Mr. Ashton? It’s your, uh, Mr. Thomson on the phone for you."
Aaron’s heart began to rush. "Thanks, Crystal." He picked up the phone and pushed the flashing button. Taking a deep breath, he answered, "Kid?"
He heard a deep sigh. "I’b so glad you’re in. Look, I just got… got…"
Aaron prepared himself for the sound of what he knew was coming.
"Ehhhh… UuuhhhhTISHHH! IIihhhhhhTICHHOOOO! Ehhhhhh TICHOOO! EhhhSHOO! HehhhTISHHHOOO! HITCHOO! HehhhhhIHHTISHOO!"
"Thacks, sorry" he sniffed wetly. "By boss just called and said that if I did’t cobe id today I was…. fiiihhhh… IiihhhhhhTISHOO! eeehhhCHIISHOO! Hehhhh… ehhhIHHHSHOO! EhhhSHOO! Sniff!"
"Fired?" He sounded as if he must feel absolutely awful.
"Yeah sniff. Add Baggie says id’s out of her hads."
"Maggie’s an uptight, unsympathetic b—"
"SNIFF! Yeah sniff. Aarod, what should I do? I got dressed and took by tebperature—it’s back ub to ode hudred, and I feel a little shakey. But I deed to go id. I just dod’t dow what to do."
"Hush, Kid. Give me your boss’s number. I’ll call him—"
"cough, her, cough…"
"—her and tell her how sick you are. I’ll make her see reason."
"Cough, but, Aarod—"
"Give me her number."
Reluctantly, Brian relayed it, "Four, Six, Seved sniff Eight, Two sniff, sniff Ode sniff Four."
" Four, Six, Seven, Eight, Two-Oh-Four?"
"Yeah, you got it."
"Thanks, Kid. I’ll let you know what happens, ok?"
"Don’t worry. I can be very persuasive when I want to be. How else did I get you to finally go out on a date with me after two months of asking?"
Brian laughed. "Just bake sure you dod’t use the sabe strategy or you’ll be going out with her todight, and thed we’d have to tell your paredts that you’re bi, idstead of just gay and you dow how well they took it the first tibe…"
Aaron laughed loudly; he hadn’t heard from his parents since that night. They hadn’t exactly disowned him, simply cut off all contact. It had taken a while to get used to, but this was his choice, and his life… and his love. "I’ll do my best. Talk to you in a few minutes, ok?"
"K. Add, ub, Arrod?"
"I did’t bead sniff what I said last dight."
Aaron nodded. "It’s ok."
"I’b really sorry I was such a bitch."
"I’m sorry, too. And it’s ok, as long as you’re my bitch, Brian."
Brian laugh-coughed. "Thacks. Good luck."
"Call you right back." Aaron hung up and quickly dialed the number before he could forget it.
"Ms. O’Neil’s office. How may I help you?"
"I need to speak to Ms. O’Neil about one of her actors."
"Is she expecting your call?"
"She is expecting Brian Thomson. I am calling on his behalf."
The secretary sighed. "Just a minute while I patch you through."
A woman’s voice answered in an almost bored annoyance. "Talk."
"Hi, Ms. O’Neil. My name is Aaron Ashton, I’m a friend of Brian Thomson’s. I’m his roommate."
"—is sick in bed with a bad cold and a fever of over one hundred."
The woman didn’t miss a beat, as if she hadn’t heard what Aaron just stated. "The script was OK-ed this morning. We need to meet and start shooting—"
He sighed, trying to slow her down. "Look, he’s sick. He won’t be doing any such thing. He can’t concentrate on scripts and lines and what-not."
There was silence. "Maggie assured me he wasn’t that bad off…"
"Well he is. When I left for work this morning he was coughing and sneezing without stop. His temperature’s been up and down all night and day and I’m afraid too much strain on him will make him pass out. There is no way he’s going to go into work today. I know how much he enjoys his job and is always talking excitedly about this movie, but one day is an acceptable loss when the poor guy can’t stop sneezing for five minutes."
"Maggie saw him yesterday, when he was not as bad. Hence, he worked yesterday. But today… look, I had to stop him from driving, which he cannot do when he faints every few minutes. This isn’t his decision, and it’s not mine. He’s sick and just can’t do anything right now. Now do I need to come over there and do some convincing, or are you going to lay off him today?"
"Well??!! You realize if his fever becomes any higher that he would be a candidate for the hospital? If I need to check him into the hospital to keep him from wearing himself out, just so he can get a little rest, then I’ll do it. But he simply not is ANY condition to work today."
She sighed. "Ok, ok, Mr. Ashton, you’ve made your point. But I’ll expect him here on Monday."
"Only if he is well enough."
She sighed. "Yes, Mr. Ashton."
"Thank you, Ms. O’Neil." He hung up and quickly called Brian back. "Kid?"
Brain whimpered a bit of a yes.
"She said it was alright. You’ll go in on Monday only if you’re feeling better. So don’t worry. Stay home and take a well-needed sick day, ok?"
Brian sniffed. "I really dod’t feel so good, Aarod… whed are you gettig hobe?"
Aaron sighed. "Soon, honey. Hey… it’s Friday, so Virginia’s off. How ‘bout I call her and have her come over to sit with you for a little while? You guys could watch that stupid movie or something."
Brian laughed. "I dod’t dow how adyode who is as perfect for be as you caddot like Star Wars."
Good. He’d succeeded in getting Brain’s mind off how horrible he felt. He just needed to keep the conversation light… "I just don’t see what’s so great about it—"
"Dot see? It’s the absolute best bovie in the world, that’s all!"
Aaron laughed. "Ok, ok. So does that mean I should call her?"
Brian was silent, sniffed, but still said nothing.
"I duddo… I dod’t deed a babysitter… "
"No, but I can’t be there," he glanced at his watch and his stomach jumped; he should have left five minutes ago. But the love of his life was sick and needed him. He could afford to be a few minutes late. He wished he could be there with him now. "And you could use a friend right now."
Brian still said nothing.
"I’ll call her and have her bring over some lunch for you, and if you want her to stay, just ask her. And if not, I want you to go get the heating pad- it’s in the hall closet- and curl up under the blankets with it, ok?"
Brian sneezed again, and again, and again.
"Kid, you ok?" The sneezing subsided with a strong nose blowing. "I would feel better if Virginia at least stopped by with some food…"
"Fide. That’d be fide. Just cough call her thed. I’b feelig a little… woozy…"
"Where are you?"
"Kitch… ed…" He sounded out of it already.
Aaron panicked. "Sit down."
"The floor, just sit down!" He heard a thud. "Kid?!"
He heard movement and then Brian’s voice. "Sorry, I lost by baladce whed I was sittig add drobbed the phode." He smiled, thankful to know Aaron cared about him so much. "Did I scare you?"
Aaron sighed with relief that Brian was all right. "Yes, you did. So you’re ok? Still dizzy?"
"I’m calling Virginia. Feel better, Kid. Take it easy."
"I will, thacks, Hodey."
"I’ll be home soon. Love you."
"Love you, too."
With another glance at his watch, he hit Virginia’s number on his speed dial.
There were eleven rings before the phone was answered. He would have given up, but he knew she was at home. "’Lo?"
There was silence, rustling, then in a deep voice, "Mmm, yes, Aaron?" It was apparent she was just waking up; this was going to be difficult to ask.
"And a good morning to you too, Sweetie."
He sighed, biting his lip. "Good afternoon, Virginia. How are you?"
"Not bad. Pretty rested," she joked; if anyone could make Aaron fall into line, it was Virginia. "So Bri’s sick?"
"Yeah… that’s why I called. I’ve got those big meetings I’ve been telling you about and I really can’t get out of them. He needs a friend right now, he has a fever and is dizzy and—"
"Sweetie, don’t worry. I’m on my way up."
He sighed in relief this time. "Really?!"
She giggled. "You don’t have to convince me. Poor little guy. Does he need anything?"
"Oh, yeah. I told him I’d see if you could bring him some food—"
"He’s got Aspirin and all?"
"Well, there’s some in the cabinet, but damned if I can get him to take any… you know how he can be with medicine."
"All right, well, I’ll see what I can do."
"Thanks, Virginia, I owe you one—"
"No you don’t, and you know it. See you later, Sweetie."
Aaron smiled. He loved her for being so sweet. Few people were these days, but Virginia was a good friend. With another glance at his watch, he grabbed his papers and raced to the elevator.
* * *
Virginia sat in the armchair, a book open on her lap. Her waist-length permed, dirty-blonde hair was pulled back in a half ponytail. Her head was bent down, looking at the book and twirling one strand of hair around one slender finger. Her face was unmade, a rarity for her, but typical on her one day off a week. Her glasses were on, delicate frames she replaced with contacts when she was working. Her skirt was short, her shirt hanging off her on one shoulder to reveal she wore no bra.
Brian lay curled on the couch, tucked in under blankets. His nose was a little red, his cheeks flushed but pale, and a warm smile spread across his face.
Aaron cleared his throat and Virginia looked up, her face going from concentration to pleasure. "Hi Sweetie!" She got up, leaving the book on her seat and pulling Aaron gently into the kitchen, shutting the door behind.
Without so much as hello, Aaron’s first concern was Brian. "Is he ok?"
She smiled, nodding, "He just fell asleep an hour ago, poor thing. We watched some Star Wars and played some cards-- had a fun afternoon. I even got him to take some Tylenol cold medicine. That’s what finally knocked him out. How was work?"
Aaron beamed with happiness. "We pulled in two new sponsors and signed the new show we were hoping for!" He yelled, trying to keep him voice low, still.
She grabbed him, hugging him tightly and shrieking. "I knew you’d get them!"
They broke apart when Aaron held up a finger. "Wait, I have something for you."
She stood there speechless as he ran back out to the living room and returned with a yellow tulip for her; she burst into laughter. "You’re so silly!" The three of them had taken a trip to England and the isles the year before and Virginia had been amazed at the amount of tulips, commenting that it felt more like the were in Holland than England.
"Token of my thanks, Milady," he said with a bow.
Shaking her head at her friend’s silliness. "You know I don’t mind. I love you guys. I just hope Bri’s feeling better soon. I’ll call tomorrow afternoon after work, ok?"
He nodded with a sly smile. "Yes… late afternoon…"
She punched him in the arm. "Bri’s sick, don’t ware him out, Sweetie."
"Oh, no, no!" he laughed. "He’s the one who’ll ware me out."
She laughed. "Thanks for the flower, Sweetie. You take care, too, ok? I don’t want two sick guys on my hands."
He shrugged. "I dunno…" he glanced out to be sure Brian was still asleep. To be on the safe side he dropped his voice another few octaves. "Actually, I was thinking of telling him tonight."
Her eyebrows furrowed. "Telling him what?"
Aaron blushed. "Um, about IT…"
"It? What’s it… OH!" she exclaimed clamping one hand over her mouth. Her voice dropped down to a whisper. "Your fetish you mean? You’re really going to?"
He blushed as he nodded. "I don’t know how yet… but I love the guy to death. And his sneezes… are just too irresistible to me. He’s going to find out one way or the other. And better he understand it rather than misinterpret it."
She hugged him tightly. "He’ll understand. I understood, right?"
"Yeah, but you’re not the one I make love to on a daily basis. And I didn’t keep it from you for as long…"
"You didn’t have a choice about that, Sweetie." She’d broken her foot falling down the steps wrong and he’d gone to the doctor’s with her. The walls had been thin, and there had been a man in the room over with some sort of ailment- a cold or hay fever or something- who began sneezing while they were waiting for a doctor. They were exquisite sneezes- very full and typical with a bit of spraying sound at the resolution. The sneezes echoed in his room and simply did not end.
Emergency Clinic, 2 years ago…
"You think it’s supposed to swell up like this with the ice packs on it, Aaron?"
Aaron didn’t answer.
Virginia looked up from her ankle to see a half pained, half pleased look on Aaron’s face. She was shocked a moment, seeing his hand at his crotch, gently massaging the bulge in his jeans. For a moment she thought he was attempting to masturbate right then and there. But then she suddenly realized that he was trying to bring himself down from it.
"Um, Aaron, Sweetie?"
He looked at her, his cheeks bright red in embarrassment. "One…" he was winded, embarrassing him even more. "One moment… so… so sorry…"
"Ok…" she said, not knowing, not understanding.
"AhhhCHIShhhh! AhhhCHOO! AhTISHHH! AhCHOO! AhhCHOO! Sniff AhhCHISHhhh!"
"Oh fuck, oh fuck!" he whispered harshly, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes with concentration. "Not fucking now!" Said the man who hardly ever swore.
"Um… Aaron… do you need some help... or, um, maybe someone watching the, uh, door?" she chucked.
He was taking deep breaths. He shook his head.
"AhhhCHOO! AhhhCHOOshhh! Ahhh… ahhhh… CHOOOSHH! CHISHH! Ahhhh… ahhhh……… AHHHCHOOOSHH!"
Aaron nearly groaned, clutching himself tightly now.
There was the sound of a door opening next door and the sneezing got louder as its own walked right down the hall past the room. "AhhhIIHHSHOO! AhhhCHOO! AaaahhhCHOOshhh! AhhhCHOO! AhhhCHISHH! AhhhCHOSHH!"
He nearly came, but somehow held himself back.
The sneezing died down and Aaron went down as well. Then he looked, red-faced, over at Virginia.
She was almost angry… or perhaps she was scared. "What the HECK was that about, Aaron?!"
He looked down, then quickly put his hands in his pockets and looked back up. "I’m so sorry. I’ve never had that strong a reaction before. I guess some days I’m just… uh… more effected…"
She sighed. "I repeat, Mister Aaron Todd Ashton, what the Heck was that about?"
He closed his eyes. "You know how some people like S&M, or feet, or" he cringed at the thought "water sports?"
"I’m that way with sneezing. Always have been, for as long as I can remember."
"You mean it’s like a fetish?"
"No, it is a fetish… Man, I can’t believe I nearly lost it right here in front of you. How… um…"
Helping him out, "Embarrassing?"
"Yeah…" his whole face was bright red. "I’ve never been so sorry in all my life. And embarrassed. I’m so sorry, Virginia!" And with that he broke down into tears. It took quite a lot to make Aaron cry, though he was a very sensitive man; Virginia knew this must have hit him hard.
"Oh Sweetie!" she said, wishing she could go to him. "It’s ok. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s just part of you…"
By this time, he was sobbing.
"Don’t cry, Aaron, please."
Through sobs, "I’m… so… sorry."
"Hey," she spoke softly. "I’m ok. You’re ok…"
"It’s never been that bad before."
She smiled. "Or good, I guess."
He nodded, his mouth open. "Ohh yeah…"
She giggled. "You must have a ball during cold and flu season… or allergy season for that matter."
His face still shown as red as a stop sign. "Yeah… but I’ve never, ever reacted that strongly before… except to Brian’s…"
She smiled, thinking of her two best friends who had a better sex life than she ever would. "Does Brian do it for you, then?"
"Oh, no!" he exclaimed, running his hand through his hair. "I’m so scared to tell Brian… but he is so amazingly sexy… I can’t begin to explain…"
"Are you ever going to tell him? I’m sure he’d understand. It’s pretty cute, really…"
"Cute?!" he exclaimed, his mouth open. "It’s sick!"
"It’s not sick. It’s natural. It’s something you like… a lot… and you should tell him about it."
"Maybe one day… Man, Virginia, I’m so sorry."
She beckoned for him to come to her, which he did. She wrapped her arms around him in a hug. "It’s a part of you, Sweetie. A very interesting part. I’ll speak of it to no one, especially Brian. You have my word."
He hugged her back. "Thank you. And I am sorry."
"Stop saying you’re sorry," she chuckled. "Or I’ll have to go get that guy back here and make you really sorry."
"So you think he can handle knowing now?"
Aaron shrugged. "Maybe… I just hope he doesn’t think I’m incredibly weird and walk out on me after so many years… I couldn’t live with myself if I made him do that."
"He loves you, Aaron. He’ll understand. Brian’s like that."
They walked out to the door, stopping by to get her things from the living room. "You’re a good friend, Virginia." She opened the door and kissed his cheek. "My pleasure, Sweetie. Tell Bri I hope he feels better, k?"
He nodded, watching her leave and smiling. Then he stripped down to his undershirt and boxers, squatted down beside him and kissed him lightly. Aaron made two phone calls and then slid up beside Brian. He wrapped his arms around him tightly, and closed his eyes.
Brian woke to the sound of the buzzer. He sneezed and tried to move but he found Aaron’s arm heavily resting on him, holding him down. "Honey?" He had to strain his neck to see him out of the corner of his eye. "Sobeode’s at the door."
Aaron came to, startled. "Hmm? What? You ok?"
Brian smiled. "I’b fide. There’s sobeode at the door."
"Oh!" Aaron raced over, grabbing some bills from his wallet. He paid the delivery boy as Brain sat up, pulling a blanket around himself. Aaron returned, pushing everything on the coffee table to the floor in one passionate sweep. He laid out the cartons of Chinese food and pulled out the two candles he’d set aside earlier. He clapped twice to dim the lights, and lit the candles with a lighter.
Brian laughed. "What’s all this?"
Aaron leaned over and kissed him gently. "The deals went through. All three of them."
Brian’s jaw dropped. "You’re kiddig! Hodey, that’s fabulous!" He coughed into his fist. "I’b sorry I cad’t take you out…" It was tradition—whenever Brian finished a movie or Aaron landed a deal, they’d get dressed up and go out to a fancy restaurant. Aaron shook his head. "No worries. We’ll have a good night tonight anyway, ok?"
Brian nodded, rubbing his finger under his nose. "Yeah… I duddo, though…"
"You feel more rested, Kid?" He felt his friend’s forehead. "You’re much cooler!"
"Yeah… but dow I have a bit of a tickle… id by dose…" Brian’s face wrinkled at the feeling. "But it’s sorta… st-stuck…"
Aaron laughed, digging into the food. "You know, Kid…"
Brian tried to nod. "What?"
"You look too adorable like that…"
Brian chuckled. "Like... like this? Like I… I’b about to… to… iiihhhhh…"
"Yes… to sneeze…"
"Bless you. Hey, Kid… um… you remember when we went ice fishing?"
He nodded, rubbing and blowing his nose. How could he forget? He had fallen through the ice and Aaron and Virginia had pulled him out. They were staying at Virginia’s parents’ cabin on the lake and had taken him back there to dry off and warm up. And even though Brian had been too weak and cold to do much, and Aaron had not left his side for a second… and he seemed to enjoy it just a little.
Crater Lake, 14 months ago…
"PULL!" Aaron shouted as he jumped from the water and grabbed the other of Brian’s arms at the same time. Together he and Virginia managed to get a blue Brian out of the water.
Brian coughed up water, his body shaking with chills, feeling numb as Aaron and Virginia’s hands touched him, moved him, and tried to help him. He closed his eyes, wishing for it to be all over, and felt an overwhelming urge to sleep; he was just too cold to stay awake and nothing around him seemed real at all.
"Oh FUCK, he’s passing out! Brian? Brian?!"
"I’ll start the car. Carry him over."
Aaron scooped up the body and they rushed to the car. Virginia drove as Aaron did what he could, stripping Brian of his clothes and covering him with his own jacket, then his body. "He feels so cold," Aaron whispered, hugging his friend as tightly as he could.
"He’ll be ok," Virginia echoed, tears running down her face from fright.
Silently, they both blamed themselves for the accident, though it surely was just that-an accident.
She screeched the car to a halt in front of her parents’ cabin, springing out and to the door, unlocking it as Aaron carried Brian there right behind her. Once inside, she rushed to get blankets and towels.
Aaron deposited the lifeless body on the bearskin rug in front of the unlit fireplace and finished undressing him. He was about to get up and retrieve Brian’s bag for a change of clothes when Virginia stopped him. "Didn’t you ever learn about hypothermia?" she asked, unfolding the blankets and lying them over Brian.
Aaron shook his head, panicking. "What? What do I do?"
"Body to body," she told him, drying Brian’s hair with a towel and then wrapping another around his head. "I’ll do it if you want me to, but you should be the one. Take off most of your clothes and get under there with him. Your body heat will keep him warm and make his go up." Aaron was already taking off clothes. "I’ll get a hot water bottle for his chest. Rub at his arms and legs; they get cold first since they’re furthest from the center of his body."
Aaron did as instructed, sliding up beside Brian and hugging him tightly. Virginia returned with a warm water bottle- the adjustment had to be slow or it was a shock to his system, she told him.
"Where did you learn all this?" Aaron asked as it thankfully began to get warmer under the blankets.
She blushed. "The Voyage of the Mimi."
"The, uh, it’s a sort of movie series thing I saw in middle school about a bunch of people on a ship tracking whales."
"Oh, that explains it then…" Aaron said sarcastically.
"The captain gets hypothermia and they’re in the middle of nowhere, so two guys strip and get into a sleeping bag with him."
"And they showed this in school? It’s a wonder more guys aren’t gay."
She had to give him points for his overflowing amount of sarcasm. "Trust me, it was educational. And actually, Ben Affleck was in it, LONG before he became famous. He was like ten or something."
"Ah, I see. So Brian’s life is now dependent on a young Ben Affleck?"
Virginia tried to smile. "And my rather foggy memory of seventh grade science class, yep, you got it."
They tried to make light of the situation, but both felt close to tears.
"He’ll pull through," she said, getting up and building the fire. "He wasn’t in there for too long and was conscious when we pulled him out." She suddenly had a brilliant thought. "Maybe I should call an ambul…"
Brian opened his eyes.
At the mere sight of Brian’s bright blue eyes, Aaron broke down into tears of thankfulness hugging and kissing the nearly lifeless man all he could.
Virginia went and got a thermometer and helped Brian open his mouth. "Welcome back, Bri," she said softly, kissing the man on his cheek and patting him on the shoulder through the blankets. "How’re you feeling?"
Brian coughed and wiggled his nose. "Th-thick I… h-h-h-have w-wader… ub… ub by dose…"
Virginia got a box of tissues and handed them to a recovering Aaron who took one and gently caressed Brian’s nose with it.
Brian’s nose wrinkled and twitched below the tissue, and his breaths became long and deep. He tried to move his arms, he tried to sit up, but he groaned at the pain that gave his body.
Aaron, in protective mode, rubbed his arm, calming him. "Lie still, Kid. I’ll take care of you. Don’t try to move, just let yourself warm up, ok? I’ll do anything you need."
"uuuhhh… I… EhhhhTCH! EhhhhTSHH! UhhhTFFSH!" Brian sneezed mainly through his nose, trying to keep the thermometer in for Virginia. Aaron held his hand on the back of Brian’s head, easing it down after each violent sneeze snapped it forward. And he held his other hand at Brian’s nose, cupping the tissue around it.
Virginia removed the thermometer and looked at it carefully as Aaron snatched up a new batch of tissues for Brian’s impending sneezes. "Blow hard, honey."
He did and burst into more sneezes. Aaron tended to him until his nose was clear and his breathing was back to normal.
"How do you feel?"
Aaron looked to Virginia.
"His temp’s a bit below normal, but it’s on the rise. He’ll be just fine. Just to be sure…"
Aaron nodded. "Yeah. How about some warm tea first? Then we can get him dressed and take him in."
"IN?!" Brian yelped, pulling away from Aaron with every bit of strength he had.
"Shhhh…" Aaron said, comforting him, rubbing his hand against Brian’s cheek. "Honey, you went into the lake. You passed out. We just want to make sure you’re ok. It’s just the hospital."
Brian winced and closed his eyes. "In the morning?"
"No, a little later, when you warm up a little more. Just to make sure you don’t have frostbite or anything. I’ll be right there with you the whole time. I promise. Just a quick check in and check out, ok?"
"Ok." Brian cuddled against Aaron’s warm body and smiled at the surprise that awaited him. "Mmmm… Aaron!"
Aaron blushed and pulled back a little, embarrassed. "Sorry…"
Brian smiled at him warmly. "It’s ok. Just hold me a while?"
He wanted to confess. He wanted to explain, but he couldn’t think of the words, and the time wasn’t right. He’d tell another time, when it was right. Now, he just wanted Brian to be warm, safe and comforted. So he kissed him tenderly and snuggled up against him. "You’ve got it, Kid."
"I um… " Aaron stopped short, wanting to say it but not being able to.
"You…?" he snuffled.
Aaron’s cheeks flushed red, and he shook his head. "Nothing… you just look adorable." He kissed Brian’s nose with a smile.
Brian pulled back, wiggling his nose and rubbing it some more. "Dod’t, Hodey. I dod’t wadt you to catch by cold. Add I dow you dod’t wadt to have to suffer through all this coughig, shiverig and sdeezig." But the bulge in Aaron’s shorts told him differently. "Aarod?"
Aaron nodded, spreading his legs, leaning forward to run his hands up Brian’s front, under his shirt. The confession wasn’t going so well. Perhaps if he couldn’t tell Brian, he could show him…
The door buzzer buzzed and both men jumped, startled.
Aaron got up, pulled on his pants, and raced to the door. He paid the man, and returned to Brian with something behind his back. "A small… thing… for a little later maybe," Aaron said with a smile. "I’ll put it the bedroom, I’ll be right back, ok Kid?"
Brian nodded, wondering what it was. Aaron was acting so oddly. Brian could easily tell he was holding something back, something he desperately wanted to tell. With sudden inspiration, Brian grabbed a pen and a napkin and scribbled out a note. He left it in his place and ducked into the kitchen, peaking out, waiting. They’d done this a few times before, when they were a little nervous to talk to each other. The last time had been when Aaron found out they had to move to California and he was afraid to break the news.
When Aaron finally returned, he was wearing only boxers, aside from a most excited expression. He sat down on the couch, and stared down at the paper, which read, ‘Do you like my cold?’ Aaron’s face went bright red. He looked around and didn’t see him. Then, with shaking hands, he scratched out an answer and dashed back to the bedroom.
Brian returned, taking off his shirt because he was a little warm from the walking, and read the words written in his friend’s shaky handwriting, ‘I like sneezing. Please don’t freak out and get mad at me. I can’t help it. I’m really sorry.’
He looked a moment at the paper, perplexed. How… He jotted down a response and retreated once more to the kitchen.
Aaron returned, reading. ‘I feel a little faint. Can we just talk? Sorry. I’m not mad; I’m intrigued. Please tell me about it. I love you.’
Aaron looked to the kitchen to see Brain in the doorframe, looking at him sympathetically. "I love you, Aarod."
Aaron bowed his head, ashamed. "I love you, too." He motioned for Brian to come over and sit down on the couch so that they were facing each other, though Aaron’s head stayed pointed downwards.
Brian took Aaron’s hands and squeezed them. "We dod’t have to talk about it if you dod’t wadt to, but I’d like to udderstad. I love everythig about you, and this seebs to be a part of you." He sniffed, trying to will away the sneeze that was coming. "I’b here… fff… fffor you…" He let go of one of Aaron’s hands and rubbed at his nose. "Sorry… I think… I’b…" This was horrible timing. "S-sorry, Arrod… I… iiiiihhhhTIHchooo!" From his view, his head turned down from the sneeze, he noticed the bulge was back. He looked up at Aaron to see his love crying. "Aarod! Hodey, dod’t cry! I’b sorry!"
Aaron pulled his hand away and got up. "Don’t be sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to find out this way. I wanted to tell you tonight. But I couldn’t figure out how to explain about this. I’m so sorry."
Brian started to stand up but found he couldn’t. "Aarod? What’s wrog with it?"
"Doesd’t have to be. You have be. I’d dod’t bide… add actually… I thick it’s kidda cute…"
"Cute?" Why did everyone insist on calling it cute? They aren’t the ones who had to live with it."
"It’s you, Hodey. Add I love you. Add besides… I’ve rarely seed you ub so easily… I just… iiihhh… hehhh… ahhhhIIHHHTCHOO! SNIFF, SNIFF! I just wish I wered’t sniff sick so we could… you know."
Aaron shook his head. "See, you think it’s weird. You don’t want to."
"I did’t say that. I thick it’s very cute… I just dod’t dow about the tibig…"
"Yes. I bead, I’b sick. I dod’t wadt you to catch this frob be. Add… I’d feel bad if… well… I’b so weak… you, uh, have be at a disadvadtage." In his mind, he was half-afraid. He was used to being the aggressive one in bed… how would it happen if he were so weak to begin with?
"Not for long," he smiled, looking at Brian for the first time. "If you want. No pressure."
"Hodey, I bight be sick, but I still love you… and I still wadt you. Dow, what did you have pladded, because whatever you thought ub, I’ll bake it a hudered tibes better."
Aaron embraced him. "I love you, Kid."
Brian laughed, hugging him back. "I dow, I love you, too. Add…" this time he blushed. "I thick I’b just as excited as you are."
So Aaron noticed. "Mmmmm… well then. Can I tell you something?"
"I am incredibly turned on by you right now."
Brian laughed, sniffing and rubbing his runny nose.
"Ooohhh… and even more now," Aaron said, running his hands under Brian’s shirt and up his chest as if he couldn’t help it… because he couldn’t.
Brian did the same, following Aaron’s lead for once. This time, he would be the weaker one; he would let Aaron have anything he wanted. And he felt so amazing already to actually be able to do it.
"Can I tell you something else?"
Brian nodded, repeating Aaron’s movements in kissing his shoulder as the shirts were lifted to reveal two strong chests.
"I kinda… also like… sneezing…"
Brian laughed. "You said that already."
Aaron laughed, too. "No, I meant I like it when I sneeze, too. I like to sneeze. Not as much as I like your sneezing… but…"
"So that’s what you beadt by ‘Dot for log’?"
He nodded. "That is, if you still don’t mind…"
Brian kissed him, full and passionately, on the lips.
He pretended to swoon. "Ohhhhhh boy!"
Brian laughed. "Why id the world would I bide?"
"So you really don’t think I’m too we—"
He kissed him again, so powerfully and lovingly that there was no room for breath, for thought, or even for doubt.
Aaron looked at him in amazement. When he had the breath to speak, he whispered, "You haven’t kissed me like that since the night we exchanged vows."
Brian’s eyebrows raised. "So what do you thick? Is that the kiss of sobeode who thicks you’re weird?"
Aaron closed his eyes with a happy sigh. "How in the world did you get to be so wonderful?"
"Learded frob you." He wrapped his arms around Aaron. "Dow take be to bed before I get any dizzier."
Aaron scooped him up in his arms, laughing and stumbling towards the bedroom.
"Geez! Dod’t drob be!!!" Brian exclaimed, as his weight was almost unbearable for Aaron.
So Aaron put him down, laughing still. "Sorry, Kid."
"S’okay. Let’s just go…" he trailed off to see what was waiting for them. Right there, on the nightstand next to Aaron’s side of the bed was a vase filled with white roses. "You little devil."
Aaron grinned. "I was hoping you’d say yes… so I bought them… is that alright?"
Brian nodded. "Guess you’re right: I wod’t be alode."
Aaron took him to bed. They took off their clothes and slipped under the covers together, lying on their sides, facing each other.
A minute passed in silence, and Brian suddenly felt as if it were all up to him.
"I, uh, don’t feel buch like sdeezig right dow, Aarod…"
"It’s ok, it’s ok… we’re in no hurry. How’re you feeling, by the way?"
Brian shrugged. "I dunno. Virgidia got be to take sobe bedicide—"
"So she told me."
"Thacks for askig her to cobe over. We had a… a… fud… oooh…"
"Little tickle… give it a bidute or two."
"Take your time, you look absolutely adorable."
He wiggled his nose and closed his eyes, trying to concentrate, trying to draw it out. "So, sniff tell be what it is about sneezig that you like so buch?"
Brian laughed. "Do, really, Hodey…"
Complying, "I don’t really know. I’m not used to talking about it, you understand…"
Brian nodded. "Of course. But I’d like to dow. So I cad… well… blease you sniff the right way…"
Just in talking the way he was, all stuffed up and sniffling, Aaron was overcome with pleasure. "It’s everything. The way you look right before you sneeze, during, after. Your sniffs, your build-ups, your strong, wet, violent multiples, your nose blowing, your warnings, your ‘bless me’s, and… and I’m rambling like a fool here."
Smiling. "You were so cute sniff just thed. You should have seed how buch your eyes lit ub."
"That’s not the only thing that’s up."
Grinning, "Mmmmm, Aarod, this is so idcreible. Why did’t you tell be about this before?"
He shrugged. "I thought you’d laugh. I thought you’d think I was weird. I thought you’d… maybe even walk out on me."
His eyes went wide. He sniffed hard and cleared his voice. "Aarod, I would dever walk out od you."
"I know, but—"
"Look be id the eyes." Aaron did. Slowly, directly, "I would’t, Aarod. I would’t."
Aaron kissed his lover softly. "I love you so much, Brian."
"I love you, too… boy this is getting strong…"
Aaron switched gears in an instant. "Poor baby’s got a tickle…" He was so excited.
"I thick it… yeah… bight be tibe for… for you to have ode, too…"
It was an invitation Aaron had waited his whole life to hear. Aaron wasted no time in grabbing for one of the roses and grinned as he took a deep breath of its scent.
His face immediately dropped. "Hehhhh…" the initial reaction was strong, and then the tickle died down. "It’s… right there…"
Brian wiggled his own nose cutely. "Be… too…" Brian began rubbing Aaron, who was already hard and ready. "I… I… deed you to hold… to hold be… because this is goig to be… so strog…"
Aaron leapt at this invitation as well. He snuggled close against his lover, rubbing himself against him, wrapping his arms around him, letting his lips press firmly against his.
Brian’s chest heaved against Aaron’s, and his body went heavy in Aaron’s arms with weakness. Aaron only held the man tighter, reassuring him that he loved this. "eeehhh… uuuhhhh…" the build-up began, breaths soft and gentle on Aaron’s neck. Then the sneezes came, strong and wet. "IhhhSHOO! EhhhSHOO! EhhhTICHHHOO! EhhhSHOO! EhhhIHSHEOO!"
It was then, filled and overflowing with passion, that Aaron felt the roses kick in. His nose began to run and itch, and his chest heaved with quick breaths. All at once, he felt the urge to sneeze, and couldn’t stop it; that’s how all his allergy sneezes were-- soft, but very intense. "HehSHOO! HihCHOO! hihCHISHOO! HehhhSHOO! HehhhSHOOO!" He sneezed helplessly, rapidly. He put his finger under his nose, trying to stop them before they made him…
Suddenly he realized Brian was rubbing him there, gently. It not only felt wonderful, but gave him an idea. "I sniff have sniff an idea," he said, sitting up and pulling Brian up with him.
"You have such a cute grid od your face right dow, Hodey."
Aaron chuckled. "It felt soooo good when you were rubbing me just then, while I was sneezing. It was like all these different tingles were rushing through my body in different directions. So what I was sorta thinking was… you rub me when I’m sneezing, and I’ll rub you when you are."
Brian picked up on the concept right away. More sneezing meant more rubbing. And more rubbing meant… "What about whed deither of us are sdeezig?"
Aaron thought a second. Then he leaned in and touched lips with Brian. "We kiss," he said softly.
"Mmmmmm…" Brian murmured, kissing Aaron back. "I thick I like this idea of yours."
Aaron’s grin enveloped his face. "Man, I love you."
Brian smiled back, sniffling. "I love you, too." He put his hands on Aaron’s side, tilted his head, and moved in for a deep, strong kiss. The kiss brought Aaron’s warmth and passion with it, making Brian sigh with happiness. Their mouths opened, and Brian’s tongue began to enter, when he suddenly pulled back. His eyes opened wide and blinked. "Whoa," he said softly. "This ode’s… very… strog."
As arranged, Aaron began to rub Brian, stroking him gently at first.
"Ehhhh… ehhhh… eeeehhhh…" Brian smiled. His eyes closed and his head turned to the side instinctively. "EhhhCHISHHOOO!" His whole body shook with the force, bending forward, almost directly into Aaron, who began rubbing just a little harder and faster. Brian was amazed at how good it had felt to sneeze while slowly becoming aroused. And luckily, the cold did not disappoint him; his nose tickled quite strongly still. "Ehhhh…" he opened his eyes only to roll them back as the force became much stronger than expected. His whole body gave a shudder just before he let out a large one. "EhhhSHOO!" Just barely missing Aaron. Suddenly, he felt the full fit settle in, and submitted to them. "EhhhhTISHHH! EhhhSHOO! EhhhCHOOO! Eeeeehhhh… Ehh-HEHSHOO! HehhSHOO! EhhhCHISHH!" he sneezed forcefully, gasping for a breath afterwards. He was so hot. Aaron’s hand slowed on Brian’s now erect member, then stopped altogether.
Brian gave a small moan. "Dod’t stob…"
"Sorry, Kid. I had to. You stopped sneezing. Those are the rules."
He opened his eyes to see Aaron smiling at him. Poor Aaron was almost drenched from head to chest from the sneezes.
Brian’s mouth dropped open and he grabbed a few tissues, wiping Aaron off a little. "Oh! I’b SO sorry!"
Aaron let Brian do what he wanted, then said softly. "Don’t be sorry. That was the most thrilling thing I have ever experienced."
"I was tryig dot to sdeeze od you directly. I’b so sorry."
Aaron kissed Brian, then whispered in his ear. "Sneezing on me makes me even hotter for you. I’m so beyond horny right now."
Brian realized that there was much more to this fetish of Aaron’s than he had thought. If Aaron liked being sneezed on so much… he could think of other, perhaps more sensitive, areas he could sneeze on. But if Aaron was really as hot as he said, there was only one obvious solution. He leaned forward a little, kissing Aaron, and grabbed a rose from the vase. He held it right over Aaron’s head as the two kissed. The kiss became more passionate than the first, mouths open and moving, making them both more excited.
And suddenly Aaron pulled back, gasping for air. His eyes squinched shut, and his nostrils flared. His whole body heaved with the quick breaths, and Brian realized that he was supposed to be doing his thing right then. The moment his hands fell upon Aaron, Aaron gasped, burning for pleasure. Aaron’s sneezes were much different from Brian’s—shorter, lighter, fewer. "hehhSHOO! HehCHH! HehSHHH!" He gasped for breath, moaning lightly, leaning back as pleasure took hold of him. He was so close already, and Brian’s expert strokes were almost impossible to hold back against. He wanted to make this last as long as possible, but that was already proved to be the most difficult thing Aaron would ever have to do. The mere idea of Brian sneezing was enough to arouse him. But to have Brian sneezing on him, to be sneezing with Brian, and to be touching each other during… he couldn’t remember a time when he was more filled with ecstasy and lust.
"Did you… like?" Brian asked, gently stopping.
Aaron nodded furiously. "Most… in sniff incredible feeling ever."
He was out of breath. "You are amazing."
"You looked bretty hot, yourself, actually. There was a bobedt or two whed I thought you’d lose it for sure."
"I… almost did… but I wanted to make this last," he confessed. "This is sniff just so intense for me." His nose was running; he debated simply letting it.
"It’s kida fud for be, too."
Aaron grabbed a tissue and blew his nose, deciding he’d keep the bodily fluids to a minimum since Brian probably wasn’t into seeing such things. "Really?"
Brian nodded. "You look cute whed you’re sdeezig and feelig be strokig you at the sabe tibe. Like you cad’t decide which urge to go with."
Aaron was smiling. "I’m glad I’m not sniff completely weirding you out."
Shaking his head. "It’s a little weird, but it’s fud, too. Add you dow I love beig able to bake you orgasb."
Aaron had to laugh at Brian’s stuffiness, and he kissed the man’s nose.
Brian wiggled his nose against Aaron’s lips, laughing, too as he picked up the rose and held it over Aaron’s head once again.
Aaron pulled away and looked up, laughing, nodding.
So Brian brought it down, letting Aaron bury his nose in it. He took several deep sniffs, making his eyes water. He coughed, pulling his head away as the reaction hit his allergies hard.
"Oh, Hodey. I’b sorr—"
Aaron, eyes squinting closed, quickly covered Brian’s mouth with his hand. The urges to sneeze were rushing through every part of his body, and he was playing with them. The sensations were strong, but he held them back, sniffing, reveling in the feeling as long as he could. He felt Brian’s hands brush gently against his parts, making him smile and gasp, which in turn made him lose his focus and let the sneezes force their ways to the tip of his nose. They invaded his nostrils, making them tingle with an allergy-unique tickling itch. "heh-heh-hehh-hehCHOO! heySHOO! heyASHOO! heySHOO!" He felt himself back down as Brian’s rubs stopped just in time. "Oh man," he said, sounding a bit stuffy and sniffing at each word. "I almost came…"
"I doticed," Brian said, feeling so incredibly turned on to see his lover like this. The wild, passionate look that usually came over Aaron’s eyes when they made love was now replaced by one of pleasure, of eroticism, of desire. He met Aaron in a strong kiss.
And for once, they pulled back at the same. "I’b… I’b goig to sdeeze…" Brian gasped, chest rising with each breath.
"Me… hhhehhh… me, too…" Aaron said, reaching out, blindly groping for Brian—and finding him with ease, hard and ready.
They both began their build-ups, just as both rubbed, stroking with skill, strength, firmness, and wonderfully simultaneousness.
"eeehhhhhIHHHSHOOO!" Brian sprayed forth, trying to hold it back, but the feeling had been much too strong for him to handle.
"hehh-heh-hehshhhhhh! HehSHOO!" Aaron sneezed, too, turning his head to his side so as not to catch Brian with it. But as he did, Brian caught him in a powerful kiss, rubbing his body against Aaron’s, almost begging for release, as his sneezes came at him.
"eehhhhSHOO! EhhhhhIHHHSHHHH! eeehhh…ehhhCHOO! heehhIHHSHOO! HehhhSHOO! HehhhIHHSHOOO!" His violent sneezes plummeted him forward, pushing Aaron back on the bed in their usual position, with Brian on top.
Not being able to resist any longer, and now feeling both Brian’s sneezes directly in his face and Brian’s entire body shaking against his, Aaron relaxed and let it happen, his body shaking with powerful orgasm.
And just as Aaron lost it, so did Brian, finding his lover’s hot, trembling body too irresistible.
"hhehhhshhhhhh! HehhCHIsssshhhh! Heh-heh-hehIHHSHHH!"
It lasted longer than the two could ever remember it lasting before, holding out for more of Brian’s exquisite sneezes, and a few of Aaron’s, wet and tickley, sending sensations throughout both of them that just seemed to pushed everything to an even higher level. Their bodies pounded on each other, shaking, vibrating, bringing them both to incredibly intense orgasms.
It seemed years before they finished, Brian gasping for air and grabbing for the tissues as soon as it passed. Aaron’s lasted a few seconds more, making his back arch now that Brian had rolled off him. Finally he relaxed, too, closing his eyes with a deep sigh. Brian blew his nose copiously, then collapsed beside Aaron, sniffling, whimpering, panting. Brian was usually a bit more warn out than Aaron after sex; most of the time he was the one in control. It was not unusual for him to be brought close to tears at an incredibly powerful bout, but this time, his whimpers were made while the largest grin he had ever had was plastered upon his face. Aaron reached his arm out and petted Brian lovingly, as he always did, brining Brian against him for comfort. Brian snuggled against the warm body of his lover as the two drifted off into a short sleep from sexual exhaustion.
It lasted five or six minutes, and they seemed to wake at the same time. It took another few minutes before either could speak.
"We should take a shower," Aaron said, looking up at the ceiling, still trying to regain his breath. "And change the sheets," he added with a smile.
"True," Brian said, sniffling, waking slowly, rubbing at his eyes. "Help be ub?"
Aaron heaved himself up, and held a hand out, pulling Brian up as well. Still completely naked, the two walked through their apartment and into the bathroom. Aaron set to work on the shower while Brian headed for the sink.
But Brian stood a moment, admiring Aaron’s rear as the man bent over, testing the running water from the tap. "Dice view," he remarked.
Aaron turned his head, smiling. "Glad you enjoy." Aaron had been attracted to Brian’s eyes first, and his soft, perfect skin. He had the look of a professional movie star to him, just glowing with perfection and sweetness. Brian had admitted long ago that he had a particular likeness towards men’s rears… and the watch he had dropped on their first meeting for Aaron to return to him had been a very pleasurable ploy. Aaron had thought it cute, and hadn’t minded in the least seeking out ways to ‘accidentally’ show his off to Brian throughout their years together.
Brian sighed, then went to brush his teeth and all, as Aaron continued to fool around with the water temperature. Finally, he was happy with it, and pulled the knob to start the shower. He gathered a few bath towels and lay one down for the mat afterwards.
"Ihh… IhhhCHHHISHH!" Brian sneezes a simply lovely sneeze, so wet and full. It was nothing at all like the sneezes Aaron had been hearing for days. Those had been strong, with force and desperation behind them. This one had simply plowed forth with a gentle, light spraying sound. It caught Aaron off guard, making him smile, making him forget how to speak, let alone say ‘Bless you.’
"Bless be," Brian snuffled, quickly grabbing a few tissues for his nose; he was acting like it was overflowing.
Aaron went back to the preparations, getting out a new bar of soap to replace the one he’d used up that morning in his hour-long confidence shower before he headed off to his meetings.
"EhhhIHSHH! AhhhhIHhshhhh!" He blew his nose powerfully into a handful of tissues. "Bless be," he said again, holding a tissue under his nose.
Aaron looked back. "You all right, Kid?"
He nodded, face long, permanently stuck with a pre-sneeze expression. "Ehhh…" his body pulled back. "EhhCHHHSHHH! Ihhh-CHAHH!" He sniffed ever so wetly and blew his nose again, tissue after tissues after tissue after… "ehhh…Yeah… I EhhhCHISHH!" He bent forward with each sneeze. They certainly were not as strong as the others, but they did take control of every bit of his body, making him focus on the sneezing alone; he could do nothing else. His nose ran freely, and he wasn’t going a second without sniffing. "Bless sniff be sniff" he finally said.
Aaron stood, walking over to the man. He rubbed his hands up and down Brian’s arms. "Hey, you ok?" he asked softly, concerned.
Again, Brian nodded. "Yeah sniff It’s the ehh… the steehhCHISHH!" he sneezed into the tissue, held under his nose. It made him bend forward, nearly falling into Aaron, who held him up. Sniffling, he tried again. "The steab ihhhh…IhhhhSHHHHH! Sniff, sniff steab frob sniff da shower is bakig sniff be feel all sdeezey." The last word was drawn out, as if he were sighing the ‘sneeeee’ part rather than simply just saying it. And he blew his nose yet again.
"Ohh…" Aaron said, understanding.
"It’s tick… ehhh… tick-lig sniff by dose add sniff just wod’t sniff…ehhh…" he took a step back, lunging for the tissues. He buried his nose in them as the sneezes struck. "ehhhSHOO! ehhhCHISHHH! HehhhIIIHHHSHHH! IIihhhhTISHHH! EhhhIHHHSHHHH! UhhhSHHHH!" He gasped for breath, then blew hard. He paused a moment, hoping it was over, but not only did his nose begin to run again, but tickle. His hand went again to the tissues, rubbing his already-red nose. "iiiihhhhSHHHH!" He sneezed, sniffling into the tissues. "Wod’t stob," he finally finished. "Add by sniff dose is sniff all sniff ruddy sniff."
Though Aaron was dying with happiness, he felt so bad for his lover. "Oh, you poor, sweet, adorably wonderful thing," he cooed softly, wrapping his arms around Brian’s waist and leaning back so he could continue to look the man in the face. "Why don’t you—"
"EhhhhSHHHHH!" The spray lightly fell upon Aaron’s chest and cheek. Brian apologized, sniffing helplessly, trying to gain a little control in a futile effort.
"Why don’t you go lie down. I’ll join you in a little while."
Brian shook his head. "I still feel sniff ub to sniff a show… a… a… ehhhhhh…a shh… shehhhIHHHSHHHHOO! EhhhCHHHHSHHH! Sniff, sniff."
"Kid," he said affectionately. "You’re a mess. You’re a damn sexy mess, but a mess. I don’t mind if you’d rather go lie down. Please do…"
He shook his head more, trying to make Aaron understand. "Do SNIFF! The steab—"
"—is making your poor, sweet nose tickle like crazy."
"Do, I bead snidd da steab sniff is ehhh… bak… is bakig… ehhhhh… sniff… ehhhSHHHISHHH! IiiihhhhhhCHHHIIIIIISHHH!"
Obviously Brian was going to stay until he at least explained. The least Aaron could do was try to help. "The steam is making what, Honey?"
"Sniff Baking be sniff feel better."
Aaron raised one eyebrow, a skill he had learned from Brian; Brian said everyone in Hollywood was required to be able to do it. If you couldn’t, you were basically shunned. It gave great dramatic effect, after all. "What do you mean?"
"These sdeee… sdeeeeehhhh…" he was smiling through this one. "YeeehhIHHSHHOO! Sniff! These sdeezes sniff are so light. They feel good. Add it feels like sniff it’s clearig sniff by head. Because I cad actually sniff breathe id through by dose a sniff a little. Really… ehhh it iihhh it bakes be ehhhh… EhhhhIIIIIHHHSHHHHH! Sniff! Sniff! feel better."
Aaron kissed Brian powerfully on he lips. "So, really, you feel up to a shower?"
Brian nodded, blowing his nose after the long explanation. "Sure. If sniff if you dod’t mide by… Ihhh…" He dropped the tissue and put two fingers under his nose instead, rubbing them back and forth against the bottoms of his nostrils. "If you dod’t sniff bide by sddeezig od you. Accidedtally, of course, sniff!"
Aaron smiled. Even now Brian could make him smile with jokes. He sighed. "I love you!"
Smiling, "I lob you, too." He held up one finger as he began blowing his nose over and over again, going through more tissues than he’d gone through all day. He sniffed, then sighed. "I thick it’s bostly sniff bassed dow."
It took Aaron a moment to decipher that one. After a few moments he answered, "Oh! Good!"
Brian rubbed at his nose. "Yeah SNIFF! The tickle’s dyig dowd."
"So you want to get into the shower?"
Aaron went first, helping Brian in, then closing the clear, plastic curtain.
"Does this feel ok? Temperature-wise?" Aaron asked, moving towards the knob.
"Sniff, Yeah. Feels Woderful." He went to Aaron, embracing him beneath the streams of water. Their bodies were enveloped in it, but their heads out of the path. Brian laid his against Aaron’s shoulder and chest, closing his eyes with a sigh. Aaron’s arms wrapped around him and his hands rubbed gently up and down Brian’s back.
"Tired Kid?" he asked, to which the response was a weary nod and a tight squeeze of a hug.
"Could you baybe sniff just hold be a while?"
Aaron squeezed him back. "Always and forever."
Brian’s breathing slowed, his body relaxed, and his sniffs grew to be fewer and farther in between. For a moment, Aaron believed him to be asleep.
But then Brian coughed and pulled back. "Thacks," was his soft whisper.
Aaron simply smiled. Brian could be such an angel sometimes.
After washing each other, laughing, and even tickling a little, they stood together again with the water surrounding them. This time, Aaron stood directly behind Brian, his arms draped over the man’s shoulders, his hands clasped. Brian’s head was tilted, resting on one of Aaron’s strong arms. The two stood in silent thought, reveling in the moment.
Suddenly Brian’s body tensed up with a strong breath, which turned into a sneeze. "EhhhSHOO!" Brian leaned back, then quickly snapped forward at the force, taking Aaron with him. "Ugh…" he groaned, sniffing. He broke away from Aaron and turned, closing his eyes and mouth as he stuck his head under the water a few moments, shaking his head. Then he pulled back, sniffing, wiping a hand over his face before he opened his eyes.
Then he settled back into position with Aaron.
"You ok?" he asked for the umpteenth time that night.
And as always, Brian nodded. "I sniff hate sdeezig id da shower," he said, his nose stuffed now more that ever.
"So that one took you by surprise?"
"Yeah sniff! Add I’b sniff tryig to hold these odes back dow…"
Aaron felt the urges rush through his body. Perhaps it was the warm water. Or perhaps it was the amazing sound of Brian’s stuffy voice. Or perhaps it was the mere idea of what Aaron wanted to do. But whatever it was, it made Aaron stand, even after all the excitement that night had given him. And without giving it a second thought, he rubbed himself up against Brian’s rear.
"Mmmmmmmm… Aarod…." He hadn’t been expecting it, but he was quite happy to feel it.
"Oh, Brian," he whispered, filled with passion, into the man’s ear, nibbling on his earlobe a little while he was there.
Brian chuckled, relaxing his body in his lover’s strong arms, giving Aaron the power to do whatever he wanted. Brian was so often in power that, surprisingly, it felt good to let Aaron be in complete control for once.
Suddenly the tickle in his nose returned. The light build-up started, and with the position he was in, he couldn’t have raised his hand to stop it if he’d wanted to. So he went with the flow, as much as he hated sneezing in the shower. "Ehhh… ehhh…Ehhh—" when it was altogether halted by Aaron’s finger rubbing violently the way Brian’s own had done before. Brian felt the sneeze back down, then die away completely. He sighed. The finger under his nose slowed, but stayed there, pressing gently against his nostrils. Brian slowly turned his head and looked up to see Aaron grinning.
"Did that actually… help?" he asked softly, unable expel enough energy to bring his voice above a whisper.
"Berfectly," he replied, sniffing.
Aaron sighed, the breath sounding shaky. "Good," he said, spreading his legs a little. "Because that made me hotter than I’ve ever been in my entire life."
Brian had to restrain a laugh. "You’re kiddig! Just to hold back ode sniff of by sdeezes?"
He was feeling overpowered with emotions. Nodding frantically, "Oh GOD Yes! I want to make love to you so hard right now." He bent one leg, his knee rubbing the side of Brian’s leg. He was taken with such strong urges, grinding his hard penis against Brian’s rear, gasping with pleasure. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, controlling himself. "But not until you sneeze."
Filled with mischief, Brian told him, "Good. Because I ehh… I thick I feel adother… iiiihhh adother sdeeze cobig od…"
Aaron had to pull back, clutching himself to hold back. Brian was simply too incredible for his own good… and now he knew it.
Brian chuckled. It had taken a while to get the hang of it, but he understood now that it wasn’t simply the sneezing-- it was everything. He’d tested Aaron with that one… and apparently, it had worked a bit better than he’d anticipated. But there was little time to try another line; the sneeze was about to strike. "Ehhhh—"
Aaron pressed two fingers against Brian’s nostrils, rubbing rapidly, feeling the man’s nostrils flair and quiver against him, feeling the tip of Brian’s cute, perfect nose move right and left with the rubbing.
"Ehhhhh!" But Aaron held it off. As fast as Brian’s body had tensed against his, it relaxed. As fast as his breathing had become, it slowed. However, it lasted but a short while. Not ten seconds later, the urge was back, tickling Brian’s nose in strong effort to make him sneeze.
"Uh!" Aaron couldn’t help but grunt as he rubbed himself against Brian just as he rubbed his fingers under Brian’s nose. His crotch burned with a unique excitement only his fetish gave him. He couldn’t believe the result this was having over him; and he wanted it to last as long as possible. And luckily, he had his wish.
Brian sighed, the sneeze backing down again. Brian opened his eyes to say something, but at his one powerful "SNIFF!" the tickle filled every bit of his nose in tenfold, making his body suddenly gasp and heave with quick build-up. "Ehhh-Ehhh-Ehhhh…" the sneeze nearly came—and Aaron nearly came—but amazingly both backed down. Breathing slowed, tight muscles relaxed, and Aaron slowed.
"It’s… sniff like ad orgasb," Brian observed, telling Aaron once he trusted himself not to sneeze. "I dever sniff doticed before."
Aaron hadn’t either. The urges, the control, the build, the release… it was orgasmic. But there was so much more to it than simple rushes, than brute passion, than animalistic lust and attraction. There was beauty, feeling, emotion, elegance. It was almost an art form, with its detail and precision, capable of hitting you in so many different ways. And this was one art Brian had by far perfected.
"Y-yes?" he could barely talk.
"I’ve…" his body tensed up. "I’ve godda—" but that’s as far as he got before the build-up seized control. "EeeeEHHHHH—"
Rubbing wildly, Aaron was doing all he could to hold himself and the sneeze back. He pressed himself against Brian, his member pulsating against Brian’s rear.
It took every bit of strength Aaron had to keep himself from slipping into Brian and pumping, hard, lovingly. He wanted to finish so badly… but the more he held Brian’s sneezes back, the more driven he became. He was so horny now that he felt ready to burst. He couldn’t even imagine feeling more excited than he did now, but he wanted to see if it were possible.
Brian sniffed, relaxing again. He reached back, his hands on Aaron’s waist, holding tightly.
Aaron put his hands on top of Brian’s. With a deep breath, his body slowed. The incredible sensation passed over him, and he sighed, so glad he’d held on. He continued taking deep breaths, in the silence that followed their cool down.
"Why’d you sniff hold back?" Brian finally asked, curious.
With another deep breath, "Because you don’t like sneezing in the shower. I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to…" He sighed. "And because the longer you don’t sneeze, the fucking hotter I’m getting."
Grinning. "So I doticed."
"I’m gonna lose it in a second if we keep going. Can we… go back to the bedroom?"
Brian gently pulled away. "I’b ready if you are. Let’s go."
Aaron didn’t have to be told twice. He turned off the water with a warning, then quickly hopped out. He wrapped a large towel around Brian’s shoulders as the man shivered and shook from the cold air of the bathroom. Aaron rushed to dry somewhat, then pull on his white bathrobe. He wrapped his arms around Brian in a tight, warm bear hug. The man shook in his arms for a few long minutes. But then his teeth stopped chattering, and the shivering stopped.
Brian sniffed, felling the sensation return to his nose. Knowing this was certainly not the time, he thought fast. He pressed his nose into Aaron’s shoulder, the dry, warm fabric muffling his breaths. But the tickle persisted. His body tensed and he let it go into Aaron’s shoulder, stifled and muffled, "ummptuphhh!"
"Awwwwww," Aaron cooed, rubbing his hand up and down Brian’s back.
Brian pulled back, sniffling. "Bless be sniff!"
Aaron kissed him. "Trust me, Kid. You’re beyond blessed." He hugged the man tightly. "That was so adorable."
Smiling, Brian kissed Aaron’s cheek, then pulled away, feeling warm and a little better all-around.
Aaron took the opportunity to dry him off, then help him slip into his bathrobe. He towel-dried Brian’s hair with a sweet smile.
"What are you smiling at?"
Aaron blushed. "Reminds me of when you came out of that lake. When you sneezed then… it was music to my ears. You were alive… alive and fucking sexy. And I got to be the one to help you sneeze… and care for you…" he felt the rushes work through him again, already.
Noticing, as always, Brian remarked, "Let’s get you back to the bedroob sniff before you lose it od a bebory. I have buch bore excitig thigs id store for you, By Love."
Sighing, "I love when you call me that."
"Well, I love you."
With a strong kiss. "I love you, too."
Brian led Aaron out of the warm, steamy bathroom towards the bedroom, but didn’t make it that far. The cold air was making them both shiver a little, but it also made Brian’s nose run like crazy. Having no tissues at hand, and finding that sniffing was doing very little to help, he held his arm up, pressing his nose against his wrist, and the sleeve of his bathrobe. "Ehhh…" The tickle grew quickly, and he bent right in half, still standing, at the resulting sneeze, "EhhhSHHOOO!" He sniffed, pausing as he used his sleeve as a tissue briefly. Then he straightened up to see an incredibly pleased look on Aaron’s face. "Hodey? You liked?"
Nodding and nearly collapsing into him, he groaned with pleasure. "That was… sooooo incredibly sexy."
Chucking. "The sdeeze?"
"I noticed it…" he began kissing Brian’s neck. "In the bathroom." His hands slid under the bathrobe. "When you were sneezing." His fingers ran over the man’s perfect chest, then down to his waist. "The way your body moves." His breathing was deep, heavy, fast. "Your whole body shakes at it." He undid the tie around Brian’s waist, letting the bathrobe fall open. He leaned right up against Brian, rubbing his hard member up against Brian’s crotch. "Your whole body…"
"Ohhh…" Brian wrapped his arms around Aaron and spread his legs. "Is that so?"
Aaron was busy, kissing, sucking at Brian’s neck. He normally refrained from such activity, for visible marks of love were not easily covered- even with Hollywood make-up. But this time, he simply couldn’t resist.
Brian closed his thighs around Aaron’s penis, tensing and releasing the muscles therein to send strong urges through Aaron, who moaned happily at it. "I… I wadt sniff to sdeeze for you… so badly, Aarod. I wadt to blease you like I dever have before."
"Oooooohhhh baby," Aaron moaned. He felt Brian undo Aaron’s own bathrobe, letting it fall to the floor beneath them. Then he felt Brian’s hands sweep from his shoulders, down his back to his rear. He felt Brian grab hold, gently for now, and then felt Brian’s own dick stir against him. Brian was weakened from the cold so much that it was an amazement that he had been able to ‘rise to the occasion’ already that night. But to move now was the pinnacle of flatteries, so much so that if Aaron hadn’t quickly jumped back, Aaron would have completely lost it.
"S-sorry," Aaron panted, looking away, bending over with his hands on his knees to regain his breath.
"It’s o… ok… Hodey? Get ready… blease…"
Aaron stood, throwing himself against Brian, rubbing his penis against Brian’s sensitive parts. "Oh yes, baby…"
"Cuz I’b… I’b godda…"
Aaron began throbbing, his penis trapped lovingly against Brian, his body burning- flesh-to-flesh with Brian’s.
"… godda… godda sd… sdeeehhhhh… ehhhhhIHHHHSHHHOOO!" Brian sneezed powerfully, wetly, right into Aaron’s face as his body lurched forward with a shudder, making his parts rub tenderly against Aaron’s.
Aaron was pumping, shaking, moaning with delight.
But Brian was far from over. The one had developed into a typical fit, and he made sure to direct them downward, drenching Aaron on the one place he knew would already be rather wet… "Ehhhh… ehhhhUHHHSHOOO! EhhhhCHISHHH! ehhh… ehhhhSHEOO! EhhhhSHOOO! uhhh…uhhhhhSHOO! ehhhhCHISHHH! uhhhhh…ehhhh… ehhhhhh…sniff…" It was hanging right there on the edge. Brian’s nose was running, dripping, his head turned down, eyes closed, body rocking with Aaron’s. His hands dug into Aaron’s back as the tickle controlled him, overpowered him, "Ehhhh.. ehhhh… uhhhhhhh…" but still held back. Brian was going crazy with the urge.
"Brian!" Aaron called out among the moans.
Brian was about to reply when the sneeze finally hit, racking his body and throwing him hard against Aaron. "EhhhhhhhEHHHHCCCHHHHHIIIISHHHH!"
Aaron finished, and then collapsed into Brian’s arms.
Weak from it all, Brian knew he wouldn’t be able to support Aaron’s weight for long, so he managed to pull the man over to the couch. While Aaron leaned on him, he blew his nose. Then he used a few Kleenexes to clean the rest of himself off, and Aaron as well. He kissed Aaron lovingly, and smiled, easing his breathless lover down on his back. He quickly got up, throwing the two bathrobes in the hamper, and returning with two glasses of ice water. Lifting Aaron’s head up and onto his thigh, he held the glass for him to drink. When Aaron had had enough, he pulled back, then gave a deep sigh.
His hand was at his crotch, where it sometimes sat after a rather powerful bout of lovemaking, feeling somewhat cool, or perhaps just comforting from habit. "Kid?" he said finally, looking up at the man. "Do you realize… that tonight… was the most… incredible thing I have ever felt… in my entire life?"
Brian beamed. "Better thad that tibe id the Fredch hotel?"
Aaron nodded. "Even better than that… Kid, you are amazing."
"So are y—"
"No, you’re beyond amazing. Thank you."
"Hodey, you’re wel—"
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you," he mumbled, stopping only for a yawn.
Brian kissed the man, full, lovingly. "You’re welcome, Hodey," he said when through. He moved around with Aaron so they were lying together, and brought one of the blankets up and around them. Then, naked, exhausted, and pleased beyond belief, they drifted off to sleep together.
Brian woke up, stretched out on the couch, shivering. His head was spinning and it felt so stuffed up that he could barely breathe. He sniffed and found his nose completely stuffed. He coughed and looked around. Aaron slept on the floor, on his stomach, a sweet smile on his face. Brian whimpered, not knowing what else to do as his nose started to tickle madly. He rubbed at it gently, through it was sore from all the sneezing and blowing he’d been doing. So he stopped and just let the sneezes come. "hiiihh… IiihhhhhCHISHH! HehhCHISHH! HiiihhhIIHHHSHOO! Hehhh-hupTISHOOO! EtchOO! hehhTISHHHhh!" Brian shivered again and his head began to pound. He glanced out the window to see the sun peaking out at him. And a glance at the VCR clock told him it was a quarter past eight. He coughed again and had to close his eyes a moment as the coughs came again. Without a second thought, he reached down and touched Aaron gently on the shoulder. "Aarod?"
"Huh… hmmm?" he said, moving but not waking.
"Aarod?" he touched him again, giving him a gentle shake.
Aaron opened his eyes halfway, squinting at Brian. "What is it, Kid?"
"I really dod’t feel well…"
Aaron sat up, instantly concerned. "Worse than before?"
Brian nodded. "Buch worse… Aarod… I feel so sick…"
"Do you feel sick to your stomach?" Maybe this wasn’t a cold after all; maybe it was the flu.
"Do… just stuffy, add throat hurts, and dizzy, and cold all over…"
"Ok, I’m taking you to bed," Aaron said with finality in his voice. He got up and helped Brian do the same. Brian closed his eyes and leaned on him almost totally.
Once there, Aaron pulled back the covers and helped Brian get into bed. Then he got Brian his favorite sweatshirt, a pair of underwear, thick socks, and a pair of sweat pants. As Brian sat back against the headboard with a tissue up to his nose to keep it from overflowing, Aaron lovingly dressed him. Then he pulled the covers up while Brian snuggled beneath into a bed he’d missed sleeping in.
Aaron looked down at his lover, weakened beyond words. He was so pale he was white, and his nose ran freely; he either didn’t care or didn’t even have the energy to reach for a tissue. He must feel absolutely horrible, but perhaps her were tired enough to fall to sleep. "Can you sleep at all?"
Brian shook his head. "Dod’t thick so."
Aaron nodded, getting a new tissue and holding it under Brian’s nose. He picked up the cell phone and paused a moment on it. Virginia would kill him if he woke her up so early. But what would she have him do? He put down the phone. "I’ll get you some cold medicine."
"Do! Defiditely dot! I dod’t wadt ady!"
He got some nonetheless and forced it upon Brian who wiggled and squirmed with his mouth tightly shut.
"Kid, I promise it will help. It’ll help clear your head a little and get you to sleep. Please take some? For me?"
"I dod’t like it!"
How did Virginia get him to take some? "I’ll… I’ll… I’ll buy you that CD you wanted."
He seemed to consider this for a moment. "Really?"
His heart flew. "Of course. Just take the medicine, and the CD’s yours."
Brian opened his mouth with a smile to show he accepted. "Virgidia offered be ted dollars."
Aaron laughed, handing Brian the two capsules and a cup of water. Then he got in bed with Brian, lying on his back and letting Brian snuggle up to him on the side. Brian rested his head on Aaron’s warm chest and draped his arm over Aaron’s waist. He sniffed without much success and rubbed his constantly running nose on his sleeve. Aaron brought a tissue to his nose, letting Brian blow. Then held another up to his nose for him. Brian coughed and hugged Aaron tightly. Aaron hugged him back. "I’ll stay right here with you the whole time, I promise, Kid."
Brian smiled. "Good. Or you’ll biss sobe good sdeezig."
Aaron laughed and only held him tighter. "I wouldn’t miss that even half as much as I’d miss you."
"I’b startig to feel a little more tired."
"Thacks, sniff Aarod."
"You’re welcome, Kid. Sweet dreams…"
He nodded, yawning, smiling. Slowly, he drifted off to sleep.
* * *
Aaron woke several hours later to find they were in roughly the same position, his hand with the tissue had slipped down a few inches and Brian’s arm, which had been around his waist, was now clutched close to his chest. He looked very cold. And he was snoring. The sound scared Aaron for a moment, before he realized what it was; he’d never before heard Brian snore. Aaron got up slowly, and added another few blankets to the bed. Then he grabbed a book from the bookcase in the living room and settled back into bed beside Brian with it and a tall glass of juice since his throat was a little parched. By chapter two, his eyes were growing fuzzy and his head a little light. He closed the book and cleared his throat, unable to keep it from being a little scratchy. There was no doubt about it: he was on his way to catching Brian’s cold. He smiled, thinking of the times that lay ahead of taking care of each other, of cuddling under the covers, of sneezing.
He got up, put on boxers and a comfy sweatshirt, and went to make breakfast for them.
Brian woke to the sound of the bedroom door closing. He glanced at the clock out of habit to find it was a little after one. No wonder he was hungry. He blew his nose quietly, changed, tucked a few tissues into the pockets of his sweatpants, and headed out to find Aaron.
Aaron was at the stove, making scrambled eggs. The strong scent of coffee was in the air, and glasses of orange juice already out on the table. Brian crossed over to the passthrough and leaned on it, putting on a charming smile. "Two Caesar salads, ode lobster bisque, ode escargot, and steb od it, Jacques!"
Aaron laughed, bending forward, turning his head round. "Feeling a bit better I take it?"
Brian nodded. "Wod’t be ruddig ady barathods today, but I’ll sniff live."
Aaron laughed, turning off the stove and moving the pan over to a cool burner. He closed his eyes, a tickle filling his nose. He turned his head to the side, away from the food, and sneezed into his shoulder. "Heh-Heh-Hehshoo! HehhEHHshoo!" The sneezes had generally the same sounds as those of the night before, but were a bit deeper, stronger, louder, and wetter.
"Bless you, Hodey. You ok?"
Aaron scraped the eggs onto two plates, put some slices of cinnamon-sugar toast beside them, and brought them to the passthrough for Brian to take to the table. "I’m coming down with your cold."
"Oh, Hodey!" He felt Aaron’s forehead, finding it a little warm, but it was hard for him to tell. "I’b so sorry!"
Aaron bent forward, kissing him powerfully on the lips. "I’m not. Thank you, Kid."
"For givig you by cold?"
"For giving me the most amazing night of my life."
Brian sighed, taking the plates to the table, then helping Aaron carry the coffee over. "I had a woderful tibe, too." They sat down on the tiny feast. The coffee was a bit cool, the eggs a little runny, the toast a little burnt, and the orange juice a little thick, but Brian hardly noticed.
Aaron was reading the paper as always, straying towards the orange juice more than the rest.
"You sure you’re ok?"
Aaron nodded. "Nothing I can’t handle. Don’t worry about me."
"I always worry about you. Had be the Style sectiod, would you?"
He did, keeping his eyes down at the article he was reading. "Have you heard about these protests in Alaska about the whales?"
"Actually," Brian said, staring up at the ceiling. "I thick a fried of bide headed ub that way after college. The article doesd’t bedtiod a Beth Ellisod, does it?"
"Ummm…" he scanned it. "Nope. Sorry."
"She’s just the type to go out for sobethig like that. Very radical. Sweet girl, though."
"They’re supposed to have some big thing tonight. I’ll watch out for her name in the paper tomorrow for you."
"Thacks sniff." He skimmed the headlines on the front page of Style, not seeing anything he was too interested in except for… "Aarod!" he exclaimed loudly, jumping up and out of his seat. He darted over to where Aaron sat and dropped the paper in his face. "You’re in it!"
Brian’s heart leapt with excitement. "You’re in the paper!"
"Look for yourself!" There were times Brian had been in the paper, for one of his new movies or what not. But Aaron was never in the spotlight.
"Station Star Shines Brightly," he read the headline quickly, excitedly. "TV station executive Aaron Ashton(shown on left) brought in new sponsors and a new show to not only his station but the entire network in just one day. Kid, can you believe this?"
"Add frodt bage of Style! Oh, Hodey, I’b so broud of you! Keeb readig."
"’The Green Dragon,’ a program that sounds bound for syndication was brought before Ashton’s associates more than a week ago, and his interest in it sparked flares throughout the station. Network representatives were persuaded in a meeting with Ashton yesterday, and jumped into leasing it throughout the associated stations. It is currently contracted for the first twenty-two episodes, a typical season, on forty-four stations nationwide and the numbers are growing. Cult followings are predicted to bring overwhelming success to the show, whose actors are all recycled from previous hit television shows and movies. But success is strictly Ashton’s, the key player in all negotiations. Ashton was hired seven years ago, right out of the university, and his skills quickly helped him climb the ranks to station executive at an astonishing speed. Brining in sponsors and ‘The Green Dragon’ are simply his most recent moves. He was quoted yesterday in saying, ‘It’s not my gain, it’s not my station’s or the network’s, it’s the viewers’. We want to provide quality shows for them, and we think they will be pleased with The Green Dragon.’ When asked if he minded being out of the spotlight when the usual movers and shakers of the network are usually heralded for bringing in big catches, he told our reporters, ‘The spotlight’s not important to me. This is my job, and I do it the best I can. I love my job.’ Sponsors, network execs, viewers nationwide, and growing fans of ‘The Green Dragon’ love you, too, Mr. Ashton." He stopped reading, and just sat, staring at the article and picture of him at the presentation yesterday.
Brian leaned over and hugged him ever so tightly, and gave him a kiss. "I love you, too, Mr. Ashtod."
Aaron chuckled, looking up at Brian’s face, which just glowed with happiness and pride. "Short article, though."
"Perfect article, Hodey! Add a sniff bicture!" He looked at it a moment. "Dod’t you look… eeehhhh…ha… hadds…ehhhhTISHHH! EhhhSHOO! ehhh…ehhhIHHSHOO! EhhhSHOO! EhhhhSHOO! EhhhhSHOOO! EhhhTISHOOO! EhhhCHISHHH! EhhhSHOO! Sniff hadsobe. Sniff Bless be."
Aaron grinned, looking up at Brian. "It means so much that you’re proud of me."
Brian pulled up his chair, putting his hand on Aaron’s thigh and letting his mouth drop open. "Of course I’b broud of you! I always have beed."
Brian leaned forward and embraced him. "Of course, Hodey. You are abazig at what you do. No ode else could do what you do as well—that’s sniff why you’re where you are. I am so broud of you!"
Aaron hugged him back. "Thank you. You have no idea what this means to me."
"Yes, Hodey sniff I do. Add as soon as we cad both bake it through a beal without sdeezig, I brobise we’ll go out to celebrate. Deal?"
Nodded, pulling back to show Brian he had tears in his eyes, Aaron answered softly, "Deal."
"Oh, Hodey!" Brian exclaimed at the tears, and hugged him again, tightly.
When they finally broke apart again, Aaron wiped his eyes. "Sorry."
He nodded, sniffling.
They hugged for the longest time, content at just feel each other’s warm bodies against their own. Finally, Brian pulled away, giving him a kiss on the forehead. "Feel like fidishig brudch?"
He nodded again.
"OK." He took the article, folded the first page in half, and smacked it up on the fridge with a magnet. "We’ll frabe it after I buy adother ted cobies."
Aaron laughed, choking down the rest of his breakfast. Then he took the plates to wash them up, and Brian retreated to the bedroom. "I’ll join you soon, Kid."
Brian nodded. Dishes were always important to Aaron; he didn’t mind in the least.
So he headed back, sitting up in bed and grabbing the phone. Virginia wasn’t supposed to be called much at work, but he supposed one exception could be made for this. He dialed the number and waited as it rang a few times. "Safe House. Claire speaking."
"Hi, uh, is Virgidia available to talk for five secods?"
"Um, sure. Hold on a second." He heard her yell, "V?!"
There were footsteps. "Which one of you is calling?" It was a playful-sounding mean.
"It’s Bri. You haved’t read the Bost today, have you?"
"No. Why? You in it?"
He grinned. "Aarod is. Could you bick up two or three or ted cobies for be od the way hobe? I’ll bay you back, I brobise."
"Aaron? Really? Of course, Bri! And don’t worry. I still owe you that thirty from the other day, plus the ten I owe you for taking the medicine yesterday. Anything else?"
"That’s all. I dod’t wadt to disturb you. Sorry for callig."
"No worries! Hey, I’m so excited! Can’t wait to read it! I’ll be stopping over at your place after work, ok? I’ll call to make sure someone is up before I come."
"Great. Thacks, Virgidia."
"No prob, Bri! See you soon."
He hung up and rubbed at his nose a little. It was tickling again. "ehhh… hehhh…" he tried holding them in until Aaron returned, but they were too strong and his nose was already running. "ehhhSHOO! Eeehh... ehhhIHHSHOO! SHISHH! EhhhhSHOO! EhhhCHISHH! Uhhh… uhhhCHISHH! ehhh…ehh ehh ehh… EHHHSHHOOOO!" He reached for the last Kleenex in the box and blew his nose strongly, feeling much better. He sniffed and tossed the tissue and now empty box into the paper-bag makeshift trashcan.
His nose was still in need of attention, so he got up to retrieve the box in the living room. When he got there, he realized that the one he had just finished had, in actuality, been the box from the living room.
"How’re you feeling, Kid?" Aaron asked, loading the dishwasher and giving his love a large grin for what he’d just heard.
"Sdiffley," he said softly between what were now constant sniffs.
Aaron almost died. "You are just soooooo adorable, Kid." He would have leapt across the rooms and ravished him if he felt any better.
"Well, sniff I’ll be sniff adorable sniff back sniff id the bedroob sniff whedever you sniff feel ub sniff to it."
Aaron smiled. "Oh, I’ll feel up to it, all right…"
Brian continued over to the bathroom to find the box on the back of the toilet empty as well. He sighed, knowing where else to check. Moments later, down on hands and knees, with his head buried in the cabinet beneath the sink, Brian called out, "Aarod!"
"What?" came the yelled reply from the kitchen.
"Do we have sniff ady tissues sniff other thad sniff id the bathroob?"
There was pause. "Check under the bathroom sink!"
"I’b udder it already sniff There’s dothig here! Sniff"
"Then cough we’re out."
Brian got up with a groan, dusting himself off and sniffing. "Great." He thought a moment, then reached back under to get a roll of toilet paper. He tore off a handful and buried his nose in it. It hurt quite a lot to his sore nose, but helped quite a bit. So he repeated the action, then headed back to the bedroom to see that Aaron was nearly done. He snuggled under the covers, toilet paper resting between his pillow and Aaron’s. He felt a little better than he had that morning. And perhaps a bit mischievous as well… he closed his eyes, knowing he’d wake up when Aaron came back to bed, and drifted off to sleep.
Aaron stood in the doorway, the afternoon sun hitting the room and lighting it fully and completely. Brian lay in bed, stretched out on his side like always, but with his head on Aaron’s pillow, his arms around it, hugging it tightly. His nose was red, his face a bit less pale, and the snoring sounds emanating from him a sure end to the signs that the sweet, angelic man he loved had a cold. It was a wonderful sight to behold. As much as he hated seeing his love suffer at all, he was given such simple pleasures from being able to share it with Brian.
Aaron leaned against the door jam, just watching him sleep, not wanting to disturb him; at least, not yet.
Minutes sped by quickly, and after a quarter of an hour of thinking and reveling in the sight before him, Aaron let out a few coughs. Brian stirred, rubbing at his nose with the back of his hand. His face fell suddenly, scrunching up. His brow furrowed, eyebrows pointing, eyes squinting and closing. "uuuhhh…" the breath in was shaky but deep, pulling him back. He braced himself, but did not move to cover his nose in the least. "ehhhhSHOO!" he sneezed, going forward with force, making the bed bounce slightly. He didn’t have the chance to sniff, or even breathe, as he was pulled back again for more. "eehhh… ehhhCHOOO! UhhhCHISHHH! Uhhh.. ehhhSHEOO!" He managed to catch his breath, sniff, and let his mouth drop back open again as his face again scrunched. "ehhhCHISHHOO! EhhhSHOO! EhhhhIHHSHOO! IhhhSHOO! EhhhSHOO! EhhhSHOO!" He paused a moment with a sniff and a deep breath, "Uhhh…" but nothing came, and his face relaxed. His whole body followed suit, relaxing back on the bed with his head on his own pillow this time. He unrolled and tore of some toilet paper and blew his nose, only to look up after to see Aaron standing there, silently, lovingly watching. "Heh, fidished the dishes, Hodey?"
Aaron silently nodded.
Brian held his hand out to Aaron, a signal of beckoning.
Aaron held back, wanting to capture the scene in his memory forever.
Brian gave a pout and purposely sniffled.
Aaron grinned widely and pounced onto the bed, resulting in a series of coughs.
Brian laughed, coughing as well. "Silly. You are sick you dow."
Aaron collapsed on his side of the bed, rolling on his side to face Brian. "So are you."
Brian nodded, running his hand through Aaron’s hair, pushing it back, out of his face. "Yeah, add you dod’t see be pouncing across the roob, do you?"
Aaron shook his head. "I’ve never seen you pounce, period."
Brian laughed. "You thick I cad’t boudce?"
Aaron nodded. "You can’t even pronounce the word, let alone do it!" he joked.
Brian sniffed and stood up, backing up a few feet from the bed. "Well, excuse by stuffy dose. But I cad still boudce."
Aaron rolled onto his side, propping himself up on his elbow. "No you can’t, but I’d still love to see you try."
The bed seemed so far away. And so high. And he seemed so dizzy. How did Aaron do this? Obviously he was taller and could jump higher, but he had landed on all fours. Brian coughed into his shoulder.
"Giving up already?"
"No… I’ll cough do it." He thought a leap was in order. Leap and tuck. Leap high and tuck. Leap high and tuck and land on all fours. OK. He could do this. Of course he could. "Get ready," he warned. "Here I cobe." He gave three quick steps and as high a jump as he could, springing into the air and landing with a loud squeak of the springs and a very loud groan from himself. His chin was on the bed, his arms in sort of landing position underneath him with his palms on the bed. But his legs had not made it all the way up and were both hanging off the edge, finding their footing back on the floor.
Aaron sat up, leaning to him, concerned. "You ok, Kid?! You didn’t hurt yourself, did you?"
Brian shook his head, clearing his throat, pushing himself back up. "I’b ok. Let be try agaid."
"You don’t have to. We could get your stunt man. You’re used to that."
Brian chuckled and stuck his tongue out at Aaron. "That was just a bractice boudce. I’ll get it this tibe." He had forgotten to tuck, he knew that. He had height working against him, but he had almost made it. ‘Concentrate, Bri. You can do it. It’s just a jump. Go for it!’ So he did, landing in absolute perfect form on the bed, right in front of Aaron. Grinning, he growled and gently rubbed noses with Aaron. "I did it."
Aaron, laughing, growled back. "Yes you did." He grabbed the man in his arms and pulled him down onto the bed, smothering him with congratulatory kisses until Brian pulled back. "You ok?"
Brian nodded. "Feel like I have to sdeeze… but I dod’t hehh…wadt to jidx it."
Aaron let the man go, but stayed on top, his hands on either side of Brian’s body. "Take your time."
"Dod’t ehhh… have… ehhh…t-to ehhhhSHOOO!" He sneezed right up and into Aaron’s face. Aaron went weak with a groan and lowered himself down on top of Brian, who continued to sneeze. "Ehhh…EEhhhhhTCHOOO! EhhhhhCHOO! EhhhhTISHHH! EhhhhIHHSHOO! EhhhSHOOO! Sniff ehhhh…EhhhhhTCHOOO! EhhhhTISHHHOOO! Ehhhhh…" He paused, his face frozen with a rather sneezey expression plastered on his face. "EhhhhhhhhhhhhhIIISHHHOOO!"
Aaron was shaking, trying so hard to hold back.
"Geez sniff you’re sniff close, ared’t you, Aarod?"
Aaron nodded. "One more and I wouldn’t have been able to make it."
"You dod’t have to hold out, you dow."
"I know, but the longer I can make it last… it’s just so hard. You are so damn sexy."
Brian grinned. "Add how’s the rest of be?"
Aaron shook his head. "I was talking about the rest of you. The sneezing is just an amazing bonus."
Brian chuckled. "Well, you deserve a bodus every so ofted. Ready… ehhh for adother ode?"
"Mmmmmmmmm… yes please…" Aaron sighed. "I won’t make it through…"
"You dod’t… ehhh have ehhhh… iihhhh… have to…" His face was scrunched up, almost pained.
He nodded. "Yeah. I thick.. I thick I’b godda… ehhhh…" Already Brian could feel Aaron starting to throb against him. "Godda sdee... sdeeee… sdeeeeehhhIHHSHOO! EhhhSHOOO! SHHHEOO! EhhhhSHOOO! EHHSHOO! Sniff! Ehhh… ehhh ehhhCHOO! EhhhhCHISHHOO! EhhhCHISHHH! EHhhSHOO!"
Aaron orgasmed throughout, eyes tightly closed, body throbbing on top of Brian’s. Brian just held him, kissing his forehead softly, rubbing his hands up and down his back. Aaron pulled himself off, rolling over, trying to catch his breath. Brian rubbed his arm soothingly.
"T-thanks," he said softly, opening his eyes and looking lovingly at Brian.
"Glad you sniff edjoyed it."
"To say the very least."
After blowing his nose, Brian kissed him and got up. "I’b goig to, er chadge. Add thed chadge the sheets, ok?"
Aaron nodded. "Good idea. I’ll just lie here and try to keep the room from spinning."
He felt Aaron’s forehead. "You ok?"
Grinning. "Ohhhhhhhhh yeah."
Brian changed, having Aaron get up and visit the bathroom while he changed the sheets. Then he snuggled under the covers. Aaron returned, stumbling, nearly making it to the bed. Brian sat up, alarmed. "What’s wrodg?"
Aaron shook his head. "I dunno. Dizzy. I feel dizzy."
"Come on," he helped Aaron lie down. "Rest. I’b sorry. I should’t have—"
"Yes. Yes, you should have!" Aaron said, rolling over on his side. "Rest will help, I’m sure. Don’t worry about me."
"I always worry. I love you."
Aaron smiled, closing his eyes. "I love you, too."
And the two fell asleep together again.
They’d been awake, just hanging out and talking for a while when the phone rang.
"Hey, Aaron. It’s Virginia. And it’s… quarter to seven. I’m leaving work in a few minutes. Just checking in to see how my two favorite guys are doing. Bri’s still living I assume?"
"Yeah. A little congested, but still alive."
"You don’t sound so well, yourself, Sweetie."
He sniffed loudly to show her that indeed he wasn’t. "Yeah. I came down with Brian’s cold."
She chuckled. "Why am I not surprised? How are you both doing then?"
"We’re ok. Off and on, you know. Typical cold."
"I’m stopping by the store on my way home. So, what can I bring you guys to make you feel better? Soup? Ice cream? More cold medicine?"
"D, all of the above. And sniff some more tea. I think we’re running low."
Brian tugged on Aaron’s sleeve and whispered, "Is that Virgidia?"
"One moment." Aaron cupped his hand over the receiver. "Yep. Want to talk sniff, sniff to her?"
Brian shook his head. "Tell her we deed tissues, lots of tissues. Those really, really soft odes if she cad fide sobe."
Aaron nodded, picking the phone back up. "And tissues, the really, really soft kind, if you can find some."
"Awww," she cooed. "Noses hurt, huh? OK, I’ll see what I can find and head on over. Do you have a humidifier?"
"Uh, no. Sniff I don’t think so."
"OK, well, I’ll bring mine over then, too. See you in a few, give Bri my love."
"K. Sniff Bye, Virginia."
"Bye, Sweetie. Oh wait! Aaron?!"
"Did you… tell Bri about… IT?"
Aaron smiled, looking over at Brian. "Yes I did."
"How’d he take it?"
"He’s the most wonderful man in the universe."
She giggled. "I take that to mean he didn’t walk out on you."
She giggled again. "OK, I’ll be over soon. You two stay in bed and rest."
"That’s exactly what we’re doing."
"Good. Bye again."
He sighed with a light chuckle. "What now?"
"Congratulations on the article in the newspaper!"
He smiled. "Thanks."
"OK, this time I’ll hang up, promise. See you in a few. Bye yet again."
"Bye." Aaron hung up the phone and lay back on the bed, his hand on his forehead, shaking with coughs.
Aaron closed his eyes. "Room’s spinning cough."
Brian cuddled up beside him, rubbing his temples and kissing him gently. "You’ll be ok. I brobise. It’ll go away in a bidute or two."
Aaron smiled. "You’re so good to me after everything horrible I’ve put you through."
"But Be through?" he laughed at his own stuffiness, and the absurdity of the statement. "Sidce whed is the best sex id history codsidered horrible?"
"I loved it, Hodey. Every bit of it. I just wish you had’t caught by cold."
Aaron chuckled. "As bad as I feel, I would give anything to be sniff sick with you like this forever."
Brian smiled. "Eved without a fetish like yours, Hodey, I cad hodestly tell you the sabe."
Aaron opened his eyes, and gave Brian a tight, thankful hug. "You really are the most wonderful man in the world."
Brian hugged him back. "Secod to you."
* * *
"I’ll get it," Brian said, pulling himself out of bed to answer the buzz from the door. He checked through the peephole and opened it. "Hey, Virgidia, thacks for cobig."
She closed the door behind herself and took off her trench coat and suit jacket. "You look horrible, Bri! You poor thing!" His nose was bright red.
"I’b ok. Aarod’s sick, too."
"I know. I shouldn’t wonder if I won’t come down with it myself. But until then," he held up her hands, which held several large bags. "I come bearing gifts!"
They walked to the bedroom, and Brian slid beneath the covers. She set up the humidifier on the floor in front of their bed and closed the door. Then she dropped the bags onto the bed and started unpacking. "Tissues—Catch Bri!" she tossed them to him, giggling.
Brian ripped open the box, taking out one and blowing his nose. Stuffily, though the tissue, "Thacks, Virgidia."
She leaned over and hugged him. "Ok, let’s see what else ‘Virgidia’ brought." She held up a box of cold medicine. "And you’re both getting some. Yeah!" They both looked overly displeased. She giggled. "Groan a little louder. They didn’t hear you down on my floor." She pulled out some ginger ale, Gatorade, and bottled water. "Doesn’t forcing fluids just sound like fun? And not the blue stuff, since I know you hate that Aaron." She took out some more tissues. "Enough for a football team, so hopefully it will last you two the rest of the day."
Brian laughed. "Would’t bet sniff od that."
She moved on to another bag. "Popsicles, mint chocolate ice cream for Aaron, rainbow sherbet for Bri. Jolly Ranchers to suck on." She giggled. "And more tissues. Still ready to bet, Bri?"
He nodded, blowing his nose again.
"Chicken-vegetable soup, tomato soup, vegetable soup, cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cream of broccoli, and chicken noodle soup. Oh, and oyster crackers. Remember the boardwalk?"
Aaron and Brian chuckled. Aaron coughed and closed his eyes, putting his hand back on his forehead.
Brian spoke up. "He’s beed a little dizzy."
"What’s his temp?"
"Where’s the thermometer?"
Brian shrugged again. "Back in the livig roob, I thick."
She got up and came back a few minutes later, shaking it dry. "OK, Aaron, open up."
Aaron shook his head, moaning as he opened his eyes, squinting.
"Aaron, I want to know your temperature. Just stick this under your tongue for a minute, would you?"
He shook his head again.
"You are not a little baby. I can’t believe how you’re acting."
He scowled and opened his mouth.
"That’s good." She stuck it under and watched the numbers run up. She looked over at Brian, who was smiling. "I wouldn’t laugh at him, buddy. You’re next."
Brian rolled his eyes and went back to blowing his nose.
She took out the thermometer, patting Aaron on the leg. "Yep, you’ve got a fever of one hundred point one. Not too bad." She glanced over at Brian. "Let me go disinfect this and I’ll be right back for you."
"Oh, boys, don’t be so happy! We haven’t even gotten to taking the cold medicine yet!"
They groaned in unison, louder than the first time. Virginia giggled, heading back out for just a few seconds.
"Come on Bri, open up; your turn!"
He did, complying quite easily.
"There we go!" she said happily. "So any preferences about dinner?"
"Tomato soup sounds good." Aaron said, just before coughing into his fist.
"Wow, already?" she checked the thermometer. "Hey! Ninety-eight point nine." She hugged Brian again. "Looks like your fever’s down. Congrats, Bri. Now just to get rid of those sniffles and sore throat, huh?"
"I’m betting neither of you have had any medicine lately?"
They shook their heads. "Good. Then you can have some now. It’s…" she checked her watch. "Seven, on the dot. So you can take more after eleven." They looked at her skeptically. "It’ll help, I promise. It’ll help the congestion and your fever, Aaron." She handed out the pills and bottled water and to her surprise, they both took it without argument. ‘Much easier than it should have been. Either they’re both too sick to care or something’s up.’ "Good. So, shall I go make dinner?"
"Ode bidute," Brian said, sitting up. "Cad you check by throat for be, Virgidia? Aarod said there were spots. I dod’t believe hib."
Aaron struggled to sit up and growled. "Sure, believe her."
"Well, she cad see straight, Hodey. Dothig bersodal."
"What?" he laughed. "I might not be able to see, but you can’t talk."
Brian stuck his tongue out and then opened his mouth as Virginia crawled over, then leaned in.
"Now!" Aaron shouted.
Pillows went flying, burying Virginia. When they were out of pillows, they attacked her with tickling, making her squirm and fall to the floor laughing and hollering for reprieve. "OK! I… get… the picture!"
She coughed, letting her breathing return to normal. "You guys staying in bed or do you wanna move out the couch? I rented some movies. You two decide. I’ll come call you when it’s ready." She grabbed the soup can and crackers and left.
Aaron, exhausted, lay back again. "We’ll go out for dinner. And maybe we could bring the VCR in here? Sound ok, Kid?"
Brian nodded. "Sure. You ok, Hodey?"
Aaron nodded, grimacing, not wanting to admit the pain.
Brian sniffed and blew his nose again, getting up. "Hold on, I’ll get a wet washcloth for your head."
Aaron smiled. "You really are wonderful, Bri. Thanks so much."
Kissing him lightly on the lips when he returned, he answered, "You’re welcome. But you’ll thack be bore id a secod."
"Oh?" he said, opening one eye to see Brian’s face squinching up, his eyes squeezing shut.
"ehhh… hehhh…yeah… cuz I’b goig to… ehhhSHOO! EhhhTCHOO! ehhhSHOO! EhhhTISHOO! uuhhh…ehh…ehhhSHOO! TCHOO! EhhhTCHOO! ehhshoo! uhhhshoo! EhhhIIIHHSHOO! Ehhh-HIH-SHOO! Sniff, sniff"
Aaron sighed. Brian rubbed him lovingly. Aaron gasped.
He hadn’t meant to bring on quite so strong a reaction from him, but now that he had one... "You sniff like?"
Aaron nodded, reaching up to hand Brian a badly needed tissue.
Brian rubbed it against his nose but didn’t blow. His nose wiggled, and he moved to straddle Aaron. He checked the door to see it closed; they had time. He sniffed and pulled down Aaron’s boxers. Then he moved his hands up and down Aaron’s chest.
"Ooohhh, Brian… Brian…"
"Wadt be to sdee… sniff sdeeze agaid?"
Aaron nodded, looking pained, looking pleasured.
"Ok… get ready thed… cuz I cad… feel.. ehhhh… hehh…sobe bore cobig. Sure you’re ready?"
Aaron nodded, vigorously, his whole body shouting, pulsating with urge.
Brian was amazed at how easy this was; he wondered why Aaron had been so scared to mention it. Brian absolutely loved this. He watched Aaron for as long as he could, until the sneezes came, forcing him to close his eyes. "iihhh… hehhh… ehhhSHOO! Eehh… ehhhSHOO! eeehhh…ehhhh… uuuhhhTISHOO! EhhhSHOO! ehhhSHOO! ehhIHHSHOO! EhhIHHTOO!" He felt Aaron climax beneath him. He heard the moan of pure ecstasy. And he grinned as the sneezes wouldn’t stop. "IHHH-SHOO! Ehhh.. ehhhSHOO! sniff, sniff…hehhKEHSHOOO! EhhhSHOO! ehhh…ehhhhSHOO!" The sneezes finally ended, and he put his hand down on the bed, catching his breath as Aaron gasped, doing the same.
"Damn… Kid," Aaron said, reaching over for the tissues. "Why didn’t I tell you cough about this before?"
Brian blew his nose. "I was sniff just thickig that a secod ago."
Aaron reached out for him, and Brian went to him. They caressed each other, gently, tenderly, lovingly. "Thank you so much."
Brian smiled, kissing him. "I loved it."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
"Dinner’s ready!" Came a voice and knock at the door. "You guys, um, indisposed?"
They scrambled to clean up and make themselves presentable.
"Can I come in?" Virginia asked again.
"Cobe id!" Brian shouted.
She poked her head in. "Dinner’s ready. Need a map and a guide to the couch or are you just taking your time?"
Brian helped Aaron stand up. "We’re good. Be out in a sec."
She nodded, closing the door and humming, very distinctly, a particular song from Marcy’s Playground.
Brian and Aaron both laughed, feeling a bit embarrassed, but quite happy just the same. They kissed and made their way out.
Virginia sat in the chair, a plate on her lap. Brian and Aaron situated themselves on the couch, leaning on each other for support. Brian sniffed and lifted his spoon for Aaron, who laughed to lean forward and swallow it, wincing for a moment as the liquid stung his throat. Aaron smiled, remembering when they used to do this for fun. He fed Brian the next spoonful. And when Brian fed him the next, he had to notice that it made him feel a little better; not the soup, precisely, but Brian’s love that came with it. After swallowing, he leaned all the way over, to kiss Brian sweetly on the cheek.
Virginia groaned and laughed. "Any cuter and I’ll lose my appetite completely boys."
Aaron smiled. "And when cough were you planning on telling us about the new guy in your life?"
She nearly choked on her veggie burger. "And how do you know there is one?"
He raised one eyebrow. "Even sick, I can still see things, Virginia. Your face has been glowing since you walked in the door. Besides, you know I can sense these things. His name starts with an R I think… or a P…"
She blushed. "His name’s Roy. He was hired last week and we’ve closed up together all week. And today he, well, asked me out to dinner."
Brian reacted immediately, as usual. "Oooh! Codgrats! For whed?"
She looked down at her meal. "Tonight."
"What?!" they exclaimed in unison, giggling and shouting "Jinx!" at the same time, then dissolving into more laughter. When they’d calmed down, Aaron cleared his throat. "So why in the world are you here?"
She smiled. "I told him I’d already promised to take care of my best friends who were both sick."
"But, Virgidia, it was a Saturday night date! That’s the big tibe!"
Aaron agreed with Brian. "You know you cough didn’t have to."
Virginia took it calm, smiling. "He said that was the sweetest thing he’d ever heard and told me to pick a date when I was free. And so I told him that tomorrow night would be fine."
"Oooh!" Brian squealed. "Tell us all about hib! Details! Sniff. Tell, tell!"
She smiled. "He’s got bleach blonde hair with a few brown streaks in it. Kinda tall, very handsome in a boyish sort of way—sigh—Deep, soft voice."
"Nice butt?" Brian inquired.
Aaron punched him on the arm. "You know she never notices a guy’s behind unless he sticks it in her face."
Brian licked his lips. "Mmmmm…"
Aaron punched him again, making him spill some of the soup on the blanket that covered them. Brian leaped up, putting the bowl down, and doing the same with Aaron’s. "Ok sniff now you asked for it." He pounced back onto the couch, covering the man with kisses and tickles and pinning him down against the bed. He nuzzled his face into Aaron’s neck. He sniffed quietly, trying to draw the tickle in his nose out a little. Willing it, he sniffed Aaron’s hair, trying to tickle his nose. ‘Come on… come on…’ He listened to Aaron’s laughter, glad he wasn’t pushing him too much. As he wiggled his nose, he kept his ears attune to coughing; at the first cough or wheeze or movement of resistance he planned on backing off. "iihhh.." Brian grinned. ‘YES!’ He pulled up, face already in that pre-sneeze expression that drove Aaron crazy. But he was further along than he thought, and sneezed before he could do anything else, losing strength in his arms with held him up off Aaron. He fell right into his lover, spraying him gently. "eehhhIHHSHOOO!" But as usual, his sneezes didn’t stop at just one. "iihhhSHOO! EhhhhIHHSHOO! EhhhTSHOO! eehh…ehhhSHOO! uuhhh… uhhhSHOO! EhhhhCHOO!" When finished, he sat back up. The room was abnormally quiet. He sniffed and grabbed tissues from the box Virginia had brought out.
Virginia was staring at Aaron. Aaron was staring at Brian. Brian was blushing and staring at the ground. He sniffed. Softly, timidly, "Bless be?"
Aaron sat up, gently placing a finger under Brian’s chin and lifting it so that the man looked into his eyes. With simply the pleased, pleading, loving look in his eyes, Aaron said the greatest thank you of his life.
Brian smiled sweetly, and nodded ‘you’re welcome’ with another sniff.
They leaned forward, tilting heads, closing eyes. Their hands grasped each other’s, holding tightly, firmly. Their lips met, opened. The kiss was soft but passionate, loving and lust-filled. They parted, and opened their eyes to stare into each other’s.
Virginia cleared her throat. Softly, "I, um, wasn’t supposed to see that, was I?"
Neither said anything. Neither moved.
She stood up, leaving her plate and silverware on the coffee table. "I’m… I’m so sorry. I’ll go." She headed quickly for the door.
"Do!" Brian said, turning his head toward her but keeping his eyes on Aaron’s. "It’s… it’s ok dow." He finally broke the stare to look at her. "Really." He smiled. "It’s ok. Blease stay."
She looked over at Aaron. "Aaron, Sweetie?"
Aaron looked over, too. "Yes. Please stay."
Virginia nodded. Walking back to the chair. "You’re both certain?"
They both nodded. Breaking apart, keeping one hand linked with the others’.
"We’re sorry," Brian said. "I did’t thick… sniff… well, you dow…" He turned to Aaron. "I love you."
Aaron was smiling from ear to ear. "I love you, too." He looked back at Virginia. "And I love you, too."
Brian echoed the sentiment. "So sniff, So do I."
Virginia got back up, going to them and giving them both a giant hug. "And I love both of you." She handed them their soup and sat back down to finish her dinner. She sighed. "What I wouldn’t give to have a relationship like you two have."
Aaron held up a finger. "You know," he traced a circle in the air. "If Brian and I were bi…"
They all burst into laughter.
Wiping tears from her eyes, Virginia finished up, and got out the bag of videos. "So, what do you guys feel up to tonight?"
Aaron finished his soup and shrugged. "I dunno cough. Hey, in those cough, cough, bags of yours do you have any cough dr—cough, cough, cough, cough—"
Virginia got up.
Brian patted him gently on the back, picking up the bottle of water Aaron had been using. "Have a little."
Aaron nodded, face turning red with coughs. The water soothed, and his coughs simmered down.
Virginia returned. "Cherry or grape?"
"Grape," Brian answered for him.
Aaron, guzzling down more water, nodded vigorously.
She ripped open the package and threw one over. Brian caught it, unwrapped it, and gave it to Aaron, who closed his eyes and snuggled up against him, pulling the blankets up.
"Hold on a sec," Brian said, readjusting to put down his bowl and change blankets. Then he scooted over and let Aaron get comfortable against him again. They cuddled so often on the couch that they settled into their familiar positions easily. Aaron sucked on the cough drop, shivering slightly under the blankets. "You cobfy dow, Hodey?"
He nodded. "Another blanket would cough be nice."
Virginia got him one, tucking it around him. "Are you sure you feel up for a movie? We could just call it a night."
Aaron shook his head. "Brian’s not tired. You’re cough not tired. And if I’m lucky I’ll fall asleep before the opening credits finish. Go right ahead and watch whatever you want."
Brian stroked him gently. "Thacks, Hodey. Sniff So, what’d you bring?"
She went through the bag, pulling them out one at a time. "Ever After, Elizabeth—"
She smiled. "Thought that’d appeal to your dramatic side, Bri. There’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, because I know how much you love making fun of Julia Roberts and you haven’t seen this one. Cute gay guy, I’m not kidding."
"Cuter thad Aarod?"
"Bless you." He passed him a tissue. As Aaron blew his nose with a honk, Brian pushed the man’s bangs back from his hot forehead. "How could adyode be cuter thad this guy right here?"
"Hard to believe huh?" she said with a laugh.
"Hey, cough, sniff stop picking on the sick." He was smiling, though.
"And I got Waking Ned Devine, though I think you two should see that one alone."
"Why’s that?" Brian asked.
"Well… let’s just say that there are a few parts Aaron will like. I thought I’d get it in honor of his honesty. It’s a foreign film- you’ll adore it Bri. So what’ll it be?"
Brian shrugged. "Ady breference, Aarod?"
Aaron shook his head. "Watch Elizabeth. Cough I’ll just be asleep for it anyway." He pushed the blankets down, shivered, then brought them back up.
"You sure you’re ok?"
Aaron nodded. "Go right ahead and watch."
Virginia got up and stuck the tape in. They turned off the lights and were halfway through the previews when Aaron sat straight up. "The dishes. I—"
"Hush, Sweetie." Virginia collected the dishes and took them to the sink in a few trips. "I’ll load them into the dishwasher, ok?"
He nodded. He couldn’t stand finishing a meal without cleaning the dishes afterwards. It just felt unfinished to him. "Thanks cough, sniff Virginia." He lay back down to Brian’s soft pettings.
She was back fifteen minutes later, to find Aaron’s eyes closed and his breathing slow and steady. Brian’s eyes were fighting a losing battle to stay open. An hour into the movie, she realized Brian was drifting to and from sleep too much to be following it the way he pretended to. So she got up and held her hand out to him. "Come on, I’ll tuck you two into bed."
Brian blinked, nodded, and pushed Aaron upright, gently. She got on his other side, as the two of them carried him over. Brian took his shirt off before getting into bed, as Aaron stretched out on his side. Then he lay down, relaxing into a comfortable position, his head sinking into the pillow. Virginia pulled up the blankets, tucking them securely around her friends.
Brian nodded, pulling his arm out and leaving it out, so the covers came up to his armpit. "Fide, dow sniff."
She kissed his cheek, and did the same to Aaron. "You take care of each other, ok? Get a good sleep. I’ll stop back after work tomorrow before my date."
He smiled. "Thacks. For everythig."
"No problem, Bri. Sweet Dreams."
"Gooddight," he said with a yawn, closing his eyes. He heard her turn on the dehumidifier, then softly leave, and lock the door behind her. He sighed, alone with Aaron again, and cuddled up against him, as he fell asleep.
Brian sat on the floor in front of the bed with the VCR cables spread out in front of him. It would have made more sense to just switch the TVs, but that hadn’t occurred to him until he was knee deep in manuals, so it was too late for that now. He sniffed, rubbing his nose on his shoulder. He’d been stuffy since he woke up, but his breathing was a bit better, due in part to the humidifier. Rubbing his nose again, his eyes fell upon Aaron, still sound asleep in bed. He looked at the mess he’d made on the floor, and sighed. Softly, "Aarod… wake ub. I deed helb."
And Aaron stirred.
Suddenly, he felt guilty. Aaron was such a deep sleeper; Brian would never have called out to him if he thought he would actually wake up. So he got up, lying on top of the covers, beside him in bed.
Aaron woke to a few sneezes, "Morning sniff… hhhheeehh… heeeehhhshoo! Hehshhh!"
"Bordig to you, too. Bless you."
Aaron blew his nose and rolled over on his back. "I am so tired."
"I know the feeling. Go back to sleeb. I did’t bead to wake you."
Aaron complied without argument, closing his eyes at once. "What time sniff is it?"
"It’s…" he checked. "Almost eight in the morning."
"Oh good sniff Come back to bed wih me?"
Brian looked down at the VCR, then back at Aaron. "Just for a few minutes."
Aaron grinned and shivered as he pulled back the covers so Brian could get under. Brian stretched out on his back, putting his arm out to the side. Aaron slid over, his neck on Brian’s arm, his head on his pillow, his body up against Brian’s. Brian moved his other arm over, clasping hands behind Aaron’s back to hold him securely. Aaron sniffed, sighed, and relaxed in Brian’s strong, protective arms. After all Brian did for him, the thing he was greatest at, without a doubt, was holding him.
Within minutes, the two were both asleep.
* * *
Aaron woke first, this time, hours later, coughing. He quickly got up, dawned his bathrobe, and went into the living room, so as not to wake Brian with his harsh coughs. The couch seemed as good a place as any, so he settled there, popping a cough drop, and covering up with one of the blankets. He picked up the videos and read the backs of their boxes. When he finished reading Waking Ned Devine, he had to admit that he wasn’t particularly charmed with the plot, but Virginia had assured him it was worth it. "Well, it won’t hurt," he said to himself, almost completely wide-awake. So he went to throw in the tape when the spot previously occupied by the VCR stared back at him. He panicked for a moment, looking back at Brian, when his eyes fell on the mess in their bedroom. And then the laughter came. "Poor Kid, so technologically-impaired." He went back to the bedroom, hooking it up in a few minutes, and putting the tape in. He nearly pounced back onto the bed, feeling rather excited at the promised content of this movie.
Brian woke at the jarring movement that was Aaron’s entrance, but smiled as Brian snuggled up against him with a sweet, angelic smile.
"Bordig sniff agaid."
"How’re you feeling?"
Brian shrugged. "Cad’t coblaid. Cad’t say the word coblaid, either."
His smile grew into a grin. "In the mood for a movie."
"Uh," Brian sighed. "The VCR is—"
"—Hooked up," Aaron finished, with another laugh. And he used the remote to turn it on and press play.
Brian joined in on the laughter. "Man, I love you!"
Aaron beamed. "I know." He sat up, lying his head on Brian’s shoulder as the movie begun. It started out rather slow, thought Brian was magically captured in the first few seconds; foreign films always did that to him. He’d made Aaron and Virginia sit through To Kill a Priest three times.
There were cute plot twists, several interesting characters, and a rather bizarre subplot. But the adventure began when the lottery official from Dublin came into the picture. He was not only the first attractive man in the film, but the first under seventy-five, with a few exceptions. Though at the man’s first perfect sneeze, the whole picture changed for Aaron. His grin widened, his eyes lighting up, and he grew even more excited. The man had hayfever, apparently… what a wonderful addition. He felt Brian hug him tightly, and remembered that Brian knew… and could share in his excitement a little. And for the first time in his life, he could actually be free about being a little turned on.
Aaron looked up at Brian, who smiled back. "Keeb watchig. I’b sure there’ll be sobe bore of theb."
Aaron kissed his cheek and repeated Brian’s words from before. "Man, I love you!"
To which Brian answered, chuckling. "I dow. Dow, watch!"
The movie progressed beautifully, and several sneezes later came the exciting denouement, with a rather important, drawn-out sneeze of its own. And as the movie rolled to a surprising ending, Aaron turned to Brian, his eyes full of a passionate glow. He began to rub his hands over Brian’s chest, sides, arms. He wrapped one leg up and over Brian at the waist, and pulled him closer.
"Hodey sniff cad I—Hey!" he giggled. "Cad I watch the edd of the mov—Aarod!"
Aaron covered Brian’s face with slow, sensual kisses. "Mmmmmm…" he considered the request a moment with a thoughtful expression on this face. "No."
Brian laughed, trying to peek around his head at the screen.
"Sneeze for me, Kid. Please?"
"Please? You don’t understand what… please, Kid?"
In one move, Brian turned off the TV and VCR and threw himself on top of Aaron who, he discovered, was more than ready. "Wow…" He was more than amazed at what such a small thing could do to him.
"They were magnificent. And they were nothing compared to yours… you are SO sexy." He tore off his shirt, letting Brian massage his chest.
Aaron purred at the touch, growled, and rubbed his face into Brian’s neck with heavy kisses.
"You’re such a cutie," he said, pulling down his pants, and his boxers. "But I’b afraid I dod’t feel too sdeezey."
Aaron went soft at the word. "Can we try something then?"
Brian nodded. "Of course, baby."
Aaron leaned over, grabbing the tissue box. Slowly, he felt himself being undressed, as Brian’s weight pinned him down from above. Aaron rolled up the end of a tissue into a tight point. Brian, curious, watched. Then, finally, Aaron gave a deep breath. "Tell me if it hurts sniff Because I don’t want to hurt you."
Brian nodded. "Of course." He was a little apprehensive about the method… "Is that for be?"
Aaron nodded. "To tickle your nose."
Brian’s jaw dropped. "You bead it’s that easy?"
Nodding more, "Just relax and let me show you…"
Brian closed his eyes and let all his weight rest against Aaron’s bare body. "I love you," he murmured, just in case he were unable to say so later.
"I love you, too." He slid the tissue gently into Brian’s nose. He watched his lover’s nose wrinkle, then heard him cough a few times, tears running for the corners of his eyes. Scared, he pulled back. "Kid? Are you ok? I’m sorry!"
Brian sniffed, rubbing his running nose at the base of Aaron’s neck. "Id’s ok. You albosd had id there. Do id agaid."
Aaron was, of course, hesitant to do so. "Are you sure?"
"Yes. Blease. Dod’d bide the coughs."
So Aaron did it again, sliding it in, wiggling it around in little circles.
With a gasp, Brian’s body shook with chill.
Aaron’s did as well, beneath. He reached down and brought the covers up and over them.
"Th-th-acks," Brian managed, his face scrunching up at the tickle in his handsome, round nose.
Aaron giggled, purred, and bent one leg, rubbing it up and down Brian’s.
"I uhh…I feel… righd there… yes! Ehhhhhhh…eeeeeeehhhhhhh…iiiihhhhhhh…jusd-hehhhh…ode bore… yeah… ehhh-eeeEEEEHIHHSHHHOOO!"
Aaron pulled the tissue back, squirming, rubbing Brian at the pressure that gave him.
"Did you sniff like that?"
Aaron nodded enthusiastically. He felt Brian wipe his face off a little, from where he’d been sprayed, and growled, leaning up to catch the man in a powerful kiss. "You bet I did. Think you can handle another?"
Brian smiled, nodding enthusiastically. "Cad I try this tibe?"
Aaron thrust his hand out with a new tissue, in silent answer. His whole body rushed to see Brian like that. Brian’s naked body, burning under the covers, had nearly convulsed on top of his own at the last, rubbing them together in such wonderful ways. As sexy as the sneezes were, simply sharing every bit of this with Brian was what truly got to him. And by now, he was hard as a—"
"MMmmmmmmmmmmmmm…" Brian moaned, sighing. "Hot are we Babe?"
Aaron purred. "You have no idea."
But this was to be a gentle one. The feelings sort of eased into him, snuggling their way up his spine. Most times their lovemaking was rough, powerful, filled with erotic, harsh movements. But this time, it was much softer. Just feeling Brian nuzzling gently against him was enough to make him hard. And while he found that they were both rubbing each other, the rubs were hardly as strong and firm as they usually had to be.
Brian seemed to understand this, as he scooted down with the covers, so his head was directly above Aaron’s crotch. His breaths were warm, deep, moist. His nose was sniffling, running, dripping.
Aaron could feel the wetness upon himself, making him sigh and moan. "Oh, Brian……"
Brian might have answered, but he was busy with the tissue. It hadn’t been quite as easy as Aaron had made it seem; but he could feel a light tickle building in the tips of his nose. It made his nostrils flinch and flare, and after a minute of unsuccessful tickling, the tickle was driving him crazy. "Aarod… sniff… oh sh—" He realized that his nose was a mess, and reached for a new, dry tissue. Aaron reached down, gently caressing Brian’s face, bringing his head down gently against him. Understanding, Brian rubbed his nose thoroughly there upon. Then he pulled back, blew his nose, and rolled up another tissue.
This time, the tickling was a bit easier, his nose seeming more used to it, and more willing to comply now that it had been emptied a bit. This time, he took his time, warming Aaron up a bit first. He stroked him gently, up and down, up and "eeehhhh…"
"Ooohhhhh…" His breathing was deep, fast.
"eeeeehhhhhh…I’b…" he tried to warn, but the tickling was so intense that he couldn’t manage the rest. "uuuhhhhEHH-SHOO! EeehhhhSHHHHEEOO! EhhhhSHOO! eehh… eeeehhhIHHHCHOO! EhhhhSHOO! uhhhh…uhhhhCHISHHH! EhhhhSHOO! eehh…UHHHHSHOO!" Brian’s hand was a blur, his own body racing with the power. "eeehhhSHOOO!"
Aaron pulled Brian up with his last bit of strength, and as Brian sniffled into Aaron’s ear, the two came together, bodies pulsating and vibrating with gentle, loving motion.
When they finished, Aaron fought to stay awake, only to find Brian’s gorgeous, angelic blue eyes close on him. His breathing slowed, and he drifted off from the exhaustion. Cold, and feeling a little feverish, Aaron reached down, bringing the covers up to surround them. Brian snuggled up against him, reaching his arms down and around Aaron in as much as he could. In his sleep, he smiled. Aaron wiped the man’s still-runny nose a few times, brought his arms up underneath Brian’s warm body, and closed his eyes. It was a few moments before he managed to actually fall asleep.
* * *
The bedroom door squeaked open, and the light from the living room caught Brian in the face, making his eyes open slowly.
"Guys, which- Oh GEEZ!"
The door closed with a faster squeak and then a slam, which woke Aaron.
"Wha…?" he asked groggily.
"Learn to lock your door, guys!" They heard Virginia shout through the door at them. "Geez! You think I wanted to see that?"
Brian laughed, rolling off Aaron, who closed his eyes again. Brian sat up, pulling the covers up to cover everything completely. Aaron shivered and scooted up against Brian, falling back to sleep.
"Sorry, Virgida!" he called out. "We’re, er, covered dow."
"Fine!" she shouted back. "But I’m waiting until you both have clothes on."
Brian got up, pulling on whatever happened to be around. Then he woke Aaron so he could pull on a T-shirt. He tried getting him into boxers, but Aaron shook his head and batted Brian away with a whine. So Brian just pulled the covers up all the way to his neck, and kissed him on the lips gently. "I’b sorry, Hodey. You go back to sleeb dow, ok?"
Aaron nodded, already slipping back into the world of dreams.
Brian got up, slapping a little cologne on to mask any remaining smell, and left the bedroom, shutting it behind him. "Sorry, Virgidia."
She was sitting on the floor in front of the couch, tidying up. "It’s ok. I shouldn’t have barged in like that. Did I wake you?"
He nodded, rubbing at his eyes. "What tibe is it?"
She got up and sat down on the couch. "Ah! Quarter past seven! Bri, you’ve got to help me!"
"What’s wrog?" he asked, rubbing at his nose and sitting down in the chair.
"My date! I have no idea what to wear! And my hair? And perfume? And—"
"Hush!" he said, grabbing a tissue and rubbing his nose more. "Start with the hair. You wear it ub at work, yes?"
"Yes, but if it’s down, he’ll know I’m trying to look different to impress him…"
"Half—" he coughed into his shoulder. "Excuse me."
"Wear it halfway. Like this," he relocated to the couch, gently turned her head, and pulled half her hair back, giving it a twist, and spreading it around beneath his fist."
She could see her reflection in the dark TV screen. "Wow, that looks great, Bri."
"So dow we figure out what would look good with that hairstyle… do sleeves, but dot too dressy. She grabbed a few things and raced to the bathroom. A few minutes later she came out wearing a black one, sleek, high-cut. Brian shook his head. "Too forbal."
So she tried again, coming out in a dark blue one.
"Dice!" he said, sniffling. "Ehhh…EHHHCHOO! Sniff uuhhhehhhhSHOOO! EeehhhSHOOO! EeehhhhCHOOO! EhhhhIHHHSHOOO! CHOO! SHOO! SHEOO! HETCHOO! Sniff! Bless be sniff!"
"Bless you," she said, waiting for him to recuperate. "So, you like?"
Virginia and Brian turned to see Aaron walking slowly out towards them. He settled on the couch, grabbing up the blankets and clinging to them with shivers. "I thought I heard voices."
Virginia was staring at Aaron. "Sweetie… you really don’t look too good…"
He sniffed, and cleared his throat. "I’ll be ok SNIFF! Really. And that dress is perfect on you. You going to wear your hair half up, I hope?"
She smiled. "Exactly. Bri’s doing it for me."
"Great," he said with a smile, closing his eyes. "Why am I so tired?"
Brian moved over to the couch and felt the man’s forehead. "You’re burdig ub."
He shook his head. "No, I’m freezing." It was true; his teeth were chattering.
Brian motioned for Virginia to get the medicine
"How am I going to get through work tomorrow?" he asked, sounding weak and helpless.
"You’re DOT thikig of goig idto work toborrow!" Brian exclaimed, rubbing the man’s arms to further warm him up.
"Of course I am—"
Brian was borderline angry that Aaron would even consider doing such a thing in his condition. "You are DOT goig id. You’re callig id sick ad that’s fidal!"
The disagreement was halted before it had a chance to develop into a rare full-blown argument, by Virginia’s quick return with a bottle of Gatorade and the medication. Aaron took the pills without protest, and then tilted his head onto Brian’s shoulder. "Can you just hold me, Kid?"
Brian looked back, helplessly, at Virginia. He mouthed the words, ‘What do I do now?’
Virginia pointed to the bedroom. Brian nodded in agreement.
"Cobe od. Back to bed with you."
"Do… I… Virginia’s date…"
"Hodey, I’b takig you back to bed, and that’s dot degociable. I’b sorry." He pulled Aaron up and let the man lean on him for support all the way there. He tucked Aaron in, curled in the blankets he’d brought from the other room and the ones already on the bed. Within seconds, the man was fast asleep.
Brian regained Virginia, only to receive a strong, warm hug from her. He hadn’t realized until that moment how shaken the encounter with Aaron.
"He’ll be ok. He’s just a bit warn out and feverish."
Brian nodded, resting his head on Virginia’s shoulder. "Thacks… I deeded this."
She kissed his forehead and then broke away. "I know. Now come on," she smiled, taking him by the hand, "Do my hair for me and take your mind off it all for a while."
With a smile of his own, Brian followed with Virginia’s make-up case in tow.
* * *
Aaron opened his eyes. He felt lousy, that was true, but it took him a moment to figure out what exactly had woken him. He looked around to find Brian stretched out in the bed beside him, hugging his pillow; he was as angelic as always—so much that it made him feel bad for the disagreement he could hazily remember having earlier. Aaron looked at the clock—11:04pm. So, picking up the phone. he hit 1 on the speed dial.
Ring one. Ring two. "Hello Aaron, is this you?"
Smiling. "How sniff was your date with Roy?"
"I walked in the door—"
"One minute ago, I know."
"Right." She sighed. "You should be asleep."
"I was until you came home. It woke me up."
He’d done this to her for years. He seemed to know everything. By now, it was just second nature to hear from him the moment she came home, or when something suddenly went very good or very bad. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired and sniffley. But I didn’t call to talk about me. Tell me how it went!"
She sighed. "We went to that Taiwanese place. Then we took a long walk around the park and got ice cream and," she sighed again, "he kissed me goodnight. I think I’m falling for him."
"Sounds like you’ve already fallen. Sniff. I’m so happy for you!"
"Thanks." She sighed a third time. "And how’s Bri?"
"Better. No fever, no chills, no coughing… and quite a few marvelous sneezes."
She giggled. "That’s good to hear. Well, I’d better get to bed. I have work in the morning, unlike some people."
"Actually," he said softly, trying not to wake Brian, "I think I’m going in tomorrow."
"Aaron, what’s your temperature?"
"Dunno—" he lied, not about to tell her that it was higher.
But she wasn’t fooled. "You’re not going in."
Closing his eyes, "You’re not my mother—"
"No, but if she were still talking to you she wouldn’t let you go either."
"You are not going. I’m sorry, but you’re not."
"You’re in no position to stop me."
"Aaron! Take a day off! It won’t kill you, I promise."
"Just think about it, ok? Please? For me?"
This time, he sighed. "Maybe. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning."
That was better than nothing. "Ok. I just don’t want to see you push yourself so hard. "
"Ok. I’m going to go to bed now."
"Sure sniff. I’m glad you had a great night."
"I really did. Thanks to all the help you and Brian gave me. Goodnight, Aaron."
"Goodnight John Boy," she giggled, hanging up the phone.
It was nine when Brian woke to an empty bed. "Aarod?" he called out, getting no answer. He got up, checked the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. No Aaron. But there was a note on the fridge. It read simply, ‘Had to go into work today. Took the subway. Might be home early. See you soon. Rest up, Kid. Love You, Aaron XOX’ Brian swore and balled it up, throwing it at the garbage and missing; but he didn’t care.
The door buzzer went off.
He rolled his eyes. "What dow?" Brian gave himself a look over. He was in boxers and a T-shirt, but he was clean. He ran his hand through his hair and took a deep breath as he opened the door. "Baggie?"
Margaret stood there, her arms filled. "Can I come in?"
"Sure. If you dod’t bide by gerbs," he said with rekindled annoyance.
She walked past him, depositing all on the coffee table: two fruit baskets, a small box and two envelopes. "I’m sorry about the other day. How are you feeling?"
"Sorry? Bs. Bargaret actually says she’s sorry? Whoa!" He closed the door and sat down on the couch. "I’ve gotta sit dowd for that ode!"
She rubbed the back of her neck, looking down at the coffee table as she sat in the chair. "Well, I am. I didn’t realize how bad you were feeling. My duty’s to you, and I shouldn’t have… well, um, anyway, how are you feeling?"
He shrugged. "Dot too bad. Sniff. Bight sniff be back toborrow. By Wedesday at the latest."
"That’s good. Take your time, really. The last thing we want if for you to go losing your voice or pushing yourself and getting sicker."
He smiled. "Thacks, Baggie. Sniff So what’d you brig?"
"Presents from the director… and me. And this," she picked up the small box. "Is the script. Finalized. Start learning it. Line run-throughs start as soon as you get back." She picked up the other two envelopes. "Your pay, with the signing bonus."
He took it from her, his eyes growing extremely wide. "Baggie… this is—"
"You still owe me fifteen percent, buddy."
Brian laughed, stifling the following coughs. "Of course."
"And this one, has the tickets to RENT you asked me for."
"YES! Oh, Baggie, sniff thack you! You’re a life-saver!"
She smiled. "Just don’t kiss me. I do not want to be sick right now. So, um, that’s it. Just stopping by." She got up and headed for the door. "Feel better, Brian. OK?"
He nodded. "I will. Thacks. I really abbreciate it, Bags… Sniff."
She blew him a kiss as she let herself out.
Brian, bitterly alone once more, looked around, wondering what to do. New script to learn. Bed to nap in. Tummy to feed.
In the end, his stomach won over, guiding him to the kitchen and the kitchen he’d missed for the last few days. He wielded his culinary skills for near to an hour, then settled down in bed with his new goodies and the prepared food. On the tray in front of him was a large French Vanilla milkshake with halves of banana sticking from the cup in four places. Beside that was homemade oatmeal, with cinnamon and raisins decorating the surface. There was a bowl of fruit-balls of cantaloupe and honeydew melon, ripe strawberries, and triangles of peach-all very lightly sprinkled with sugar. Then the main course, French toast, covered with just the right amount of butter and syrup from Virginia’s uncle’s Maple Tree farm in Vermont, sat in the center. And, surprisingly, he felt hungry enough to eat it all. He opened the script again, his eyes growing fuzzy on the page from a few feet away. So he turned on the television instead, flipping through the mindless drivel that was daytime morning TV, even on Aaron’s station. He finally let it alone at a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, on Comedy Central. "Edited for ted id the bordig, I bet," he muttered to himself as he chowed-down, smiling to think about his fourth date with Aaron.
And the phone rang.
‘Pleeeease let it be Aaron!’ he thought to himself as he dove for it. "Hello?"
"Brian?" It was Maggie.
"Did I leave my planner over there?"
"Ub… sniff I dod’t dow. Lebbie check." He got up, taking his few empty dishes to the sink on the way. He checked the coffee table, the chair, the floor, everywhere in the living room. "Dobe, I dod’t see it. Sorry."
With a heavy sigh. "OK, it was a long-shot. Thanks anyway. Get to work on those lines, all right?"
He chuckled. "Of course. Good luck fidig it."
"Thanks." And she hung up. Brian returned to bed, finishing up his breakfast with the milkshake. He set the tray aside and propped up the script on pillows on his lap. The movie opened on the inside of a warehouse, with he and his partner tied to chairs. "Cad you reach your dife?" he read from his line, sighing afterwards. "By dose is buch too stuffy." Taking a tissue and blowing powerfully, he gave it a second try. "Can you reach your dife?" He sniffed. "Dife." He sniffed again. "Kn-ife. Hey! There we go!" So he set to work on the first scene, sniffing and blowing his nose constantly so he could work on memorization, inflexion, volume, and delivery without the stuffiness. It didn’t work out too badly for the first hour. But when the second came around, his nose hurt too much to blow it too much more. He suddenly regained an interest in the movie on TV.
Luckily, he was saved by the telephone ring.
Brian muted the television and answered the phone. "Hello? Sniff."
"Kid, sniff cad you sniff drive?"
"Aarod?" He sat up. "You soud awful, Hodey."
Aaron blew his nose, a loud honk of an answer. "Cad you cob sniff… bick… hhee-HEHhhshoo! Heeshooo!" He blew his nose again, and again. "Cad you cob sniff bick be ub frob work? I thick I deed to go… to go hobe."
Brian was already pulling on his jeans. "Of course. Where do you wadt be to SNIFF, SNIFF pick you up?"
Silence; then a thump.
"Aarod?" His heart raced. "Aarod?!"
More silence. Rustling. Then a woman answered. "Anyone there?"
"Where’s Aarod? Is he ok?" he asked, panicked beyond belief.
"I heard a thump and came in, this is Crystal. I think Mr. Ashton fainted. Who is this?"
He sniffed strongly, trying to clear his voice enough to speak clearly. "This is his, uh—this is Brian. Is he ok?"
"Think so. Aaron? Aaron?" A pause. "He’s out cold. He’s burning up and seems to be sweating. Do you think—"
"I’b sniff on my way to get hib sniff. Make sure he stays put, will you?"
"Thack you. Be there in twenty bid—SNIFF—minutes."
Twenty-three minutes later Brian waited impatiently at the front desk of the studio. A security guard was leisurely calling up to the number Brian had given him. Brian was getting anxious.
"Yes, there’s a visitor for Mr. Ashton… Oh… Well, when will he step back in? His name?" He looked down at the clipboard. "Mr. Brian Tho—oh? Yes. All right. Thank you." He hung up. "He stepped out of the office but the secretary said you can go on—"
Brian dashed over to the elevator. He had been there thrice before, but he was still a bit directionally challenged. When he finally made it to the right floor, Crystal’s desk in front of Aaron’s office was vacant. So he went over to the door, knocking.
Crystal peaked out, nearly hugging him with relief. "Sorry about taking a minute to answer the phone. I’m SO glad you’re here. Take him home and put him to bed right away."
Brian nodded, sniffing so he could talk somewhat clearly. "I plan to…" He looked around the office.
Kleenexes littered the area around and on the desk. His neat little stacks of papers were toppled over, buried under cough drop and Jolly Rancher wrappers and more tissues. Aaron lay on his side on the small leather couch against the back wall. His arms were drawn in, and he was shivering uncontrollably. He opened his eyes to raise a tissue to his nose when he saw Brian. His mouth smiled for a split second, then turned down. He whimpered a moment, then sneezed, trying but missing the tissue he held up; the sneeze rocked his body uncontrollably, powerfully; he was so weak. "heeeeSHOO!"
Brian went to him, pulling off his coat and covering Aaron with it. Up close, even in the dimly lit room, he could see how pale Aaron was, with the exception of a rather red nose and cheeks flushed with fever. He tested Aaron’s forehead, taking his hand away in a second; the man was burning up.
Aaron whimpered again. "Felt good."
Brian put his hand back on. "Aaron… sigh… WHY did you come in today? Why did’t sniff you listen to me?" He was so worried, but it came to make him sound angry.
Aaron looked as if he were going to cry. "Blease dod’t be agry with be. Bleeeease… I…"
Brian hugged him, then kissed him. "I’m not mad! I’m sorry if I sounded that way. Oh Honey, I’m not. I love you. I was just scared. I love you." He froze, suddenly struck with the realization that they were not alone in the room. His face went red. Aaron was blowing his nose and hadn’t caught on. Brian took a deep breath and turned around. "I—"
Crystal shook her head. "It’s ok. I’ve gone seven years as Aaron’s secretary without telling anyone. I’m not about to start now. If you both want to keep it under wraps, by all means, that’s your decision. Need any help with him?"
Brian’s heart slowed, finally. "Thank you… Um, actually, is there another way out of the building?"
She nodded. "Side door. Elevator down the hall on the left leads to it, first floor."
Brian got Aaron’s arms through the jacket, then pulled him up. One of Aaron’s arms went over Brian’s shoulders. One of Brian’s arms went around Aaron’s waist. Aaron leaned on Brian almost entirely, shuffling along slowly with him.
They crossed the room and Crystal patted Aaron on the shoulder. "Take care, You. Stay home as long as you need to. I’ll take notes at the meetings and e-mail them to you. Rest and get well soon."
Aaron nodded, closing his eyes as the effort of bobbing his head up and down was almost too much for him.
But they managed to get out and to the car without too much difficulty. Aaron slouched in the passenger seat, buckling up and grabbing the tissue box from the glove compartment before doing anything else. He sniffed, and took a deep breath. "heeeshooo! HeeeSHOO! HeeeeSHOO!" He’d been holding them back the whole way down. He sniffed and honked his nose a few times, stuffing the tissues into his pocket as the car trashcan was already overflowing with junk food wrappers from quick stops on the way home from work last week.
Brian came around the other side and got in quickly, starting up the car.
Aaron looked over at him, establishing eye contact. "Thacks, sniff. I dod’t dow what I would do without you."
Brian patted him on the thigh. "Thacks for sniff, sniff callig be."
He nodded, yawning.
"SNIFF, now close your eyes add sniff maybe you can get some sleep on the ride home."
He nodded again, closing his eyes. He was asleep before they were out of the parking lot.
The walk back into their apartment was a bit more difficult. The elevator was out of order. As they headed over to the stairs, Aaron paused, his breathing deep and panicked. He sniffed, finding that his nose was already running. He put his hand up to his nose, covering, suddenly looking embarrassed.
Brian patted him on the back. "Need a tissue, Honey?"
Aaron nodded furiously, looking rather desperate. He sniffed again, and it sounded even wetter.
Brian dug into his pockets, coming up empty-handed. Where had the ones… "Shoot, I used them on the drive up." He’d sat in the car for two minutes blowing his nose to keep himself from sounding stuffy when he got into Aaron’s building. "I’m sorry."
His eyes squinted shut, his breathing became a little faster, but restrained. "Get by… by… I… hehhh… I have a hanky…" He was almost shaking with each breath, trying to hold the sneeze back. "Back… back bocket…"
Brian reached for it, leaving his hand on Aaron’s rear for a moment, with a smile.
"Heeehhhhh…heh… heh… huhh-urry, Kid… hhhheeeehhhhhh…"
Brian grabbed it, shaking it once to unfold it, then placing it in Aaron’s hand.
"Tha…" but that was all he could get out as he lowered his hand and brought the hanky up. "HehhhhChhhhhhh! HhheeeehhSHOOO!" He sniffed and blew his nose wetly a half dozen times. Then he lowered the handkerchief and looked over at Brian’s patient, sympathetic expression. "Thacks," he finished, leaning on the man, and feeling bad about it.
Brian took the handkerchief, tucking it back into Aaron’s pocket. "Sure, Honey. And go right ahead and put your weight on me." He wrapped his arm back around Aaron’s waist as he lifted Aaron’s arm over his shoulders again. "I’ll get you home."
Aaron nodded, tired, stumbling up the stairs with aching legs. And so Aaron leaned on Brian for all eight flights of stairs to the ninth floor and the long hallway to their apartment. Brian got him inside and didn’t stop until they reached the bedroom.
The bed was still covered, just as Brian had left it.
"Whoa! What happened here?" Aaron asked, sitting down on an empty spot on his side.
"Sorry," Brian mumbled, clearing it off. "They sent over a copy of my script so I was trying to… ihhh… hehh… EhhhhSHOOO! Sniff, leard by lides."
Aaron chuckled, shivering again. "Did you soud all cute and stuffy like that whed you were practicig?"
Brian nodded, pulling back the covers and then tucking him in. "For a while. Maybe you cad helb be with it later whed you’re feelig better."
"I feel better just beig with you." He coughed. "And beig id bed," he had to admit. He struggled to take off Brian’s coat, and his own on under that, and his tie and… "Aarrruummph!" He moaned, frustrated.
"Hush, I’ll do it. Just relax." Brian stopped tidying and helped him. "Sniff Want me to get you sweat pants or are you ok?"
He shook his head. "Too buch troub… toub… heeeshoo! Sniff"
"It’ll take three secods add you’ll feel so buch better."
He grumbled, shivering. "Fide. Helb?"
"Of course." He helped Aaron change an re-tucked him in. "Would you bind terribly if sniff I took your teberature?"
Aaron shook his head. Go ‘head."
He ran, washed it, dashed back, sliding it gently beneath Aaron’s tongue. Then Brian cuddled up beside Aaron, hugging him, stoking him comfortingly.
Brian read it out slowly. "Ode hudred SNIFF and one point seven. No wonder you’re feeling chilled."
Aaron coughed, wincing at the pain.
"Want a drink?"
"Ginger ale with ice?"
"Be right back, ok?"
By the time Brian returned with the drink, Aaron was asleep, and sweating.
Brian pulled down a layer or two of covers, and brought back a small bowl of ice water and a washcloth. Then he lay down, laying the washcloth on his forehead. The fever worried him a bit. ‘People with colds weren’t supposed to have fevers for more than a day or two, and even then, not over one hundred… right? Maybe I should call one of my friends from college…’
He moved to the living room, keeping the bedroom door open so he could look in every few seconds to check on Aaron.
He took out his planner and skipped to the phone number section. "F, G, H… Ha, He, Hi, Hu… Hurtz, Mark. There you are. 546-7333." He dialed, and got a machine. He debated leaving a message. Did Mark screen? He sniffed strongly. "Hey Mark. How’re you doing? It’s Bri, from college. I know you hate being pegged for the doctor type but my lover’s sick and I’m scared. Call me back as soon as you get in. Thanks." He hung up, then sighed and hit redial. He waited for the machine to finish again. "Hey, it’s Bri again. Um, it’s not anything bad. It’s just a cold and a high fever… just a couple quick questions, not like a house call or medicine or anything. I can’t even believe I’m asking. Anyway, forgot to leave my number. It’s 546-0464. Thanks, Buddy." Well, that was one down. Aaron still looked the same. He went back in, dipping the washcloth back in ice water and running it against Aaron’s neck, cheeks, then leaving it on his forehead again. He returned to the living room and dialed the next number. "546-9173, Come on… pick up Tony…"
"That’s me. And this is…?"
He bit his lip. This was a mistake. "Brian… Brian Thomson… we were in college together?"
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence. Then, "BriBri?"
He blushed to hear the name they all used to call him. "Yeah."
"How the Hell’re you doing? Saw you on the cover of People last month!"
"Don’t remind me sniff." Shoot. He had sniffed. He grabbed a tissue and blew softly into it. Maybe Tony hadn’t noticed.
"You felling ok?"
Tony noticed everything. "It’s just a cold. Getting over it. Um… I’m so sorry to call out of the blue like this."
"You were always one for spontaneity. What’d you need my medical advice about?"
"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call just for this."
"S’okay. I told you guys any time you needed help, remember? What is it? Need an AIDS test?"
Brian’s heart leapt, remembering the dangers of the lifestyles of some of his friends. He felt so incredibly lucky to have found Aaron. "Thank goodness, no. I’m sort of…"
"What is it BriBri? STD? Cancer? Hernia? You always did work hard."
He shook his head. "Nothing like that."
"What’d you call ‘bout then?"
Brian bit down harder on his lip. Tony was going to laugh at this one. "I had this cold and all, and the guy I’m with obviously got it, too. But he’s had a fever for the last 3 days on and off. And now it’s up to one-oh-two and—"
"Shh, calm down. That’s all? You sounded so scared. Your voice was shaking. I thought you were dying or something."
Not the reaction he was hoping for, but at least the man hadn’t laughed. "Yeah. So, um…"
"No sweat. Sponge bath. Get a cold washcloth and—"
"I’m doing that."
"Hey, good for you! You’re smart, BriBri, I always thought that. So, cool him down, and if he’s awake, give him some Aspirin."
"Then just wait it out. Keep him cool, but not cold. If it doesn’t break by tonight, call me, back, ok? Or take him to the hospital."
"So this is natural?"
"Sure is. Something to be careful about of course. But viruses can mutate and act a little differently for each person. I’m sure he’ll be fine. It’s not incredibly high. It’s good he’s got you to look after him."
"So how’s life? The magazine made it sound like you’re the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood."
Brian laughed, coughing. "A closet life’ll do that to you."
"I know the feeling. Try going through med school. Another aunt just happens to die whenever the gay pride parade marches…"
They both laughed, especially since Tony was the type to never march at one. Public was so not his middle name.
"But life’s treating you good? How about this guy you’re seeing?"
He sniffed strongly. "Excuse me. Actually, I’m in a strong relationship with him. Five years as of… end of this week, actually."
"Damn, you’re a lucky one!"
"He’s amazing. And yes, I am. Hey, did you read the Post Saturday?"
"Um, that was my day off. I might have. I think I have it over here… in the recycling pile… Why?"
"Style section. Check it out."
He heard some rustling. Then finally. "OK, got it."
"There’s an article at the bottom, about a television station executive…"
"I see it."
He was beaming, and it showed through his voice. "That’s my Aaron."
"Damn! He is fine! He doesn’t happen to have a brother, does he?"
"Sure does. Half as cute and as straight as my parents."
He sighed. "There goes that, then. Wow. You lucky duck. And how’s the movie star life?"
"Start on a new movie tomorrow. Oh no, hold…"
He waited a moment or two. "You ok?"
Breathing hard, "Yeah… just… iihhh.. iiihhhEHHSHOO! EhhhSHOO! ehhhSHOO! ehhh… ehhhIHHHSHOOO! EhhhhTSHOO! EhhhCHEOO! EhhhSHOOO! Ehhh… ehhhhSHOO! SHOO! EhhhSHOOO! Sniff Give sniff be a sec." He put down the phone and blew his nose. "Sorry. Bless be."
"Thacks." And there it was; all stuffed up again. "Shit—oh sorry!" He felt horrible. He never swore.
"S’okay, BriBri. I’m not rated PG13. Sounds like your cold could use a little rest, too."
"Yeah. It’s just sniff hard trig to leard lides whed sniff by dose is all stuffed ub like this."
"I bet. I hope you feel better soon."
"Thacks, sniff. But, hey, before I go, how’re you doig? You hagig sniff id there?"
"Yeah. I’m a resident. Not as cool as a movie star, but we all help in what ways we can. I’m just glad to do my part."
"Still, souds great. Good for you, Tody. Sniff! Excuse be. Talked to ady of the groub lately?"
"My sis called yesterday. She’s in Alaska trying to save the whales, or so I gathered. She needed me to wire money for bail. Gotta love her."
Brian laughed. "I thought she bight have beed wrabbed ub id that."
"Yep, that’s Beth for you. But other than her, nada. You?"
"Dothig. Sniff Cad you actually uderstad be like this?"
He laughed. "The sniffles will go away in a few days, don’t you worry about your movie. And yeah, I understand you fine. Hey, can you do me a favor?"
"Of course. Cough Adythig."
"Go look after your guy and take care of that cold. Lots of rest, lots of fluids… and don’t hesitate to call if it gets any worse. And don’t hesitate to call ever if you have a question. That’s why I became a doc after all. Ok?"
"Thacks so buch, Tody. You take care, too."
He hung up the phone with a sigh, then headed back to the bedroom to try to ease the fever down a little. He pulled up Aaron’s shirt, dabbing him with the wet washcloth lightly on his chest, neck, face every few minutes, faithfully.
After an hour or so, Aaron seemed to be doing worse. He began moaning softly and tossing around. Obviously still unconscious, he looked to be in pain, shaking, mumbling in between moans. It was hard to keep a thermometer in his mouth, but when it finally beeped, the temperature shown was one hundred and three even. Brian was more than scared. "Aaron? Honey?" Aaron settled back down after a few long minutes of thrashing about.
With shaking hands, Brian continued to cool the man down. He was tired, drifting in and out of sleep every few minutes but not being able to stay asleep because of worry.
Brian was more than startled when he opened his eyes and reached for the washcloth as always to find Aaron awake and looking at him.
Brian’s hand flew to Aaron’s forehead and cheeks. He then heaved a deep sigh of relief.
Aaron smiled at Brian.
Speaking softly, tenderly, "You had me scared there, Honey. How do you feel?"
Sniffling, "A little better."
Brian kissed him on the cheek. "Your fever broke."
Sitting up, "And I’m starving."
With a gentle smile, "So am I. Is soup ok? My throat’s still a little sore."
"Bide is, too. Soub souds great sniff." He went to stand but Brian held him down.
"No way! I’m not letting you leave this bed till you’re 110% better. If that means cuddling and pampering you twenty-four hours a day so be it. But you’re not getting out of this bed until you’re completely over that cold. No work, no couch, no getting up at all, except for the bathroom, of course."
Aaron went to protest, but couldn’t summon up the strength. Besides, honestly, he loved Brian’s caring for him. So he nodded, relaxing against the pillows with a sigh. "If you idsist." He sniffed, closing his eyes. He felt Brian’s lips grace his forehead, and a gentle hand stroked his arm. "You’re so woderful, Kid."
"Not as wonderful as you. I’ll be right back."
And he was, with soup, crackers, and cool drinks.
Aaron took his tray, sipping the ginger ale. It felt marvelous going down. "Thacks, Kid… hehhh…"
Brian smiled, noticing that his nose was running again. He grabbed a tissue. "Gonna sniff sneeze?"
Aaron closed his eyes, relaxing his face, opening his mouth halfway, letting it come. With a pre-sneeze expression, he nodded.
"Want a tissue?"
Aaron shook his head as the sensation came over him. He took in a deep breath. "heeeeSHOOoo!" spraying freely just to his side. He rubbed his sleeve under his nose and opened his eyes. "Sorry," he said. "I could tell that ode was going to be good. I just deeded to edjoy it a secod. I hobe… I didn’t offed you?"
"Of course not. I don’t mind. After all, it does make you feel… well… good, right?"
"Oh, it bade be feel good, all right…"
Brian noticed. "You’re not kidding. Why didn’t I ever notice this about you before, Honey?"
Aaron shrugged. "Good at hidig it I guess."
"Do you… maybe… want to…"
Shaking his head, "You’ve beed bore thad woderful to be about this. I dod’t wadt you to feel obligated to hubor be in this. We’ve had bore thad abazig tibes without it. You are just soooo idcredible."
Brian kissed Aaron’s cheek, running his tongue down from cheek to neck, then kissed him there as well. "It’s been days since we…"
Aaron’s eyebrow went up. "Yester… oh yeah… it has beed a while for you. You’re right." His stomach rumbled. "Ub, cad it wait udtil after dider? I’b gettig these hudger baids id by stobach."
"Awww… " Brian bent over carefully, kissing Aaron’s stomach. "Of course. I don’t want you having tummy pains."
But Aaron was smiling. "I cad’t wait."
So Brian smiled back. "I’m just so glad you’re ok."
The phone rang.
Brian popped up to get it in the living room. "Hello?" He laughed. "So sorry to call. Well, I was a little scared, but his fever broke about ten minutes ago… One hundred and three…. Yeah… No, really, thanks for calling me back sniff… So you hanging in there?" He covered the receiver and coughed. "Aw, you poor thing! Get some sleep… Yes… Yes of course I remember… Yes, you too. Thanks, Mark. Bye."
He returned to Aaron, who was already half done eating; he must have been quite hungry.
"Who was that?"
"Mark Hurtz. When you had that fever I started to freak out and called my doctor friends from college."
Both Aaron’s eyebrows went up. "Oh, Kid, I’b alright."
"I know but you weren’t a few hours ago and I was just so scared that I would lose you. I didn’t know what else to do."
Aaron looked at him in amazement. "I cad’t believe you did that. That is the sweetest thig adyone has ever dode for be."
Brian shrugged. "I love you. I don’t want to lose you."
Aaron returned the sentiment with a kiss. "I love you, too."
They went back to eating, Brian finishing first. "I can’t wait," he said, springing up. "I have to give it to you now."
Aaron nearly choked. "Kid, I thought we were wait—"
He laughed. "No, not that sniff you silly. The anniversary present I got for you this morning. I can’t wait four days to give it to you." He headed out, but then raced back in, grabbing the remote on his bedside table. He pushed a few buttons and the CD player started up with one of their favorite songs, "Cover Me," from the musical RENT.
Aaron sighed, lovingly watching Brian’s smile grow.
"OK, now I’ll go get them. Be right back."
Aaron quickly finished eating, then cleared off the bed, and pulled down the covers.
Brian returned with a small envelope. "It’s just part of the present, but… I’m just too excited. Open! Open!"
Aaron chuckled, opening the envelope to see two tickets to RENT. Instead of saying anything, he broke in with the song, at their favorite lines. "You’ll be by Kig, add I’ll be your Castle."
Brian chuckled, and answered along with Collins, singing, "No you’ll be my Queen, and I’ll be your Moat."
Aaron leaned forward, kissing Brian so powerfully. "Thack you. Thack you. Thack you."
"So you like? I figured, since I broke my leg that night we were supposed to go last time… I felt so bad about that. And these are… " He grinned, "Private balcony seats."
"Oh, Kid! I love theb! I love you! You are so woderful. Thack you!"
The song ended, and they kissed again. Brian turned off the CD player. "I’m so glad you love it. I got two for Virginia, also, but she’s not sitting with us. I figure she’d kill us if we went without her, knowing that she’s obsessed with the show. But that’s our night. Just the two of us."
Aaron rolled over, on top of Brian, sitting at his waist. "Perfect, Kid. Dow, let be give you by early addiversary presedt to you…" He rubbed little circles around Brian’s nipples through Brian’s thin turtleneck, rubbing his fingers right over the tips, making Brian gasp and moan, almost tremble beneath him. They poked up against the fabric, becoming hard against his fingers—Brian was enjoying it. Aaron rolled over again, letting Brian be on top, like he always loved to be. Brian loved having power over Aaron.
"Kid," he said softly, as he pulled Brian’s shirt off for him. "If I habbed to sdeeze od you, I’b sorry… id advadce."
"It’s ok," Brian whispered as Aaron dug his hands into Brian’s chest, his hands massaging the man’s strong chest, moving to his arms. "I hardly mind after all we’ve been through."
Aaron smiled, thanked him, then went to strip Brian’s jeans off. He paused a moment at Brian’s crotch, rubbing in strong, firm strokes at the bulge in his Lover’s pants.
Brian winced in pleasure, gasping lightly. He fell to the bed, on his side, then rolled to his back again, lifting his rear off the bed so Aaron could take his pants off. It was tight a moment, but much better when they were on the ground. Then, without hesitation, off came the remainder of Brian’s clothes. Aaron was rubbing his hands all over now, kissing and licking. He tore off his clothes in an instant, and began thrusting himself against Brian’s body. Their hot bodies met and rubbed, sensations rushing through them at each touch. Aaron would bring himself down against Brian, run downward, chest against Brian’s chest, then his stomach, then his waist. Then up again, and down. After a few of these, Aaron proceeded to the kissing, starting at Brian’s ear, and running them down to his crotch, and his already throbbing member.
It was then that Brian took over, grabbing him, moaning and kissing Aaron back. Aaron rolled over, feeling Brian’s hands on his chest, and feeling Brian’s body rush him from behind. He was pulled up so that he was kneeling on the bed, still feeling Brian’s body against his, in very pleasant touching. As sexual, as thrilling, as passionate as this always felt to him, it also made him feel comforted. It was as if all the emotions in his body flowed together at the very moment of—
"I’b f-fide." The entering had simply caught him by surprise; he’d never known Brian to be quite so quick about it. "Bl… sniff Blease… h…h…harder."
"Love… mmmmmmm… love you."
They throbbed together, connected, Brian working his powerful magic on his lover.
"I… I…" Brian was too far into it to be able to talk properly. But he hoped he would be able to do the other thing that was on hand. "ehhhh…"
Aaron moaned in pleasure, his whole body taken over by Brian’s urges, touches, pumps. But with Brian’s sneezing as well… "Oh YES. Cobe od…"
"T-trying to…" he joked, actually trying to hold himself back until Aaron was ready, too. They so rarely orgasmed together at the very same time; this was to be a momentous occasion. But that was harder than it sounded, as the feeling of invading Aaron once again took him over completely. But the sneeze was still there, "eeeeeehhhh…" and still coming.
Aaron grabbed pillows, enough to prop himself up, as he took one hand off the bed to stroke himself. He buried his face in the pillows, trying to hold back, as well, until the sneeze came.
It came faster than the two expected, and he felt Brian squeeze him, and push hard, as the force threw him forward, tightening every muscle in his body. He groaned with the most pleasurable feeling he’d ever had, the wet spray soaking into his bare back.
And as usual, the sneezes did not stop at one.
"I, uhhhhh… I’m eeehhhhhTISHHO! Ehhhhh… EHHHHTSHOOO! EHHHSHHHHUSHHH! IhhhhhhTUSHHHHOOO!" Aaron throbbed, shaking with the longest orgasm either could remember him having. And at the feeling, Brian let his own come, pumping hard, his balls gently slapping Brian’s rear as his body pulsated along with Aaron’s "eehhhhIHHhhhhhhhhSHOO! EhhhhhTISHHHOOO! EhhhhSHOOO! IIIiihhhhhTISHHOO!" and the sneezes.
When they were done, several long minutes later, they separated and collapsed on the bed beside each other. They were both severely out of breath, but the smiles they wore told the whole story. Aaron pulled back, looking Brian in the eyes, with one more long, soft look. Saying ‘Wow!’ Saying ‘Thank you’. Saying ‘I love you’. And Brain nodded again, kissing the man passionately on the lips, working his tongue around with Aaron’s. He pulled back in the middle of it, his face fallen, eyes closed. He lay one hand on Aaron’s crotch, finding his way to more sensitive areas as it was second nature to him. His body shook with a shiver from the strength of the urge to sneeze. Then his head tilted back, his body tensed up, and he drew in a strong, quick breath. "Ehhhh… eeeehhhhhh… EHHHH-TISHHHHHOOO!"
Aaron embraced him and, lovingly, they fell asleep in each others’ arms.
~ The End ~