It was another dreary day in Seattle. The sky a dark overcast, the air filled with the smell of another inevitable rain. Eddie drove home from the mall in his truck, the same one he’d had for years, with the afternoon’s worth of shopping in the seat beside him. It was a few days before his birthday, which meant smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, and he’d just finished picking up some things for Beth. She was out of town with her own band, Hovercraft, and wouldn’t get back until the day of his birthday. Not that birthdays mattered much at all, just another day and all that, but he did have to admit he missed Beth. "Two more days," he told himself as he parked and headed into his place. "Two more days."

He stashed the presents where he always did, and stuck a tv dinner in the micro. He was exhausted from rehearsal and wanted nothing more than to veg out in front of a Bulls game with the stereo playing "Tommy" by the Who in the background. Blue-eyed Roger Daltry’s strong, deep voice helping him drift off into slumber…

And before he knew it, he woke to the loud buzz of static on the television and the loud ring of his phone. He squinted, bleary-eyed at his wristwatch. "3 f*ckin’ twenty-seven am?" he asked no one in particular.

He coughed. "Who is this?" as he answered the phone.

"Hey, Eddie?! Eddie! It’s Jack!"

It was Jack. It was Jack who sounded mildly drunk, but not too bad.

"How ya doin, Eddie?"

"We’ve got a concert tomorrow night, Jack. Go home and go to bed."

"Nah, man! This party rocks- you just gotta come over!"

If he weren’t one of the best drummers in the world… "Not this one, man. I’m tired. See you tomorrow." He hung up the phone and, finding himself standing in the middle of a dark living room, in the middle of a dark house, hauled himself into the empty bedroom and crashed on the empty bed until he woke early the next afternoon.

He rubbed his handsome face wearily with his hands and shook his head as he headed for the bathroom. After getting undressed, he took a good look at himself in the large bathroom mirror. He looked the same as always. Same manly build. Same curly, wavy, long, brown hair. Same deep brown eyes. Same bold, but mysterious smiling face. But even then he knew something wasn’t right. He felt a bit ill, his body aching dully all over, his head pounding and spinning.

He ran the water in the shower and searched through the medicine cabinet for a thermometer as the water warmed up. As the steam rushed over the stall door, he shivered, gave up the search, and stepped in to let the water surround him. He leaned on the wall, wishing Beth were there to rub his shoulders, or give him one of her famous kisses that could overcome his body in pure passion and comfort.

And now his nose was running. There was little he hated more than being in the shower with his nose running. He sniffed and tried to ignore it along with the sore throat he could tell he was developing. That was the last thing he needed a few hours before a concert. "Uhhhhh…" it was coming slowly but surely. He tried to hold it off by wiggling his nose and scrunching up his face in every way possible. "Uhhhhhhhhh…" frustrated that he couldn’t get it to go away. "UhhhhhhhCHISHHOOO!" he sneezed, bending forward at the waist. He straightened back up weakly, hating the feeling he got right after a sneeze when he shivered and felt so helpless. But he had to admit, that the sneeze itself had felt rather good to finally let out. Now his nose was really beginning to run, and tingle from the steam and heat of the shower. "uhhh… UhhhhhhCHISHHOO!" he sneezed again, sensing a pattern developing. He finished up and stepped out, grabbing a towel and burying his face in it at the next few "UhhhhCHISHH! HehhhhhCHISHOOO!" He used another towel to dry himself off and with denial washing through him, slipped into black jeans a tight t-shirt, and a plaid flannel. "HuhhhhhhhhCHOOO! UhhhhhCHISHHH! UhhhhhSHISHHHHH!" But there was no way tough Eddie would let a little thing like a small cold stop him. Not that he was getting sick, because he wasn’t. He had strong senses of what he could and could not do, and now was NOT the time that he could come down with something as pesky as a tiny cold. His birthday was in no time, and with a concert that very night, it simply was not going to happen.

Two hours later, it was happening.

Eddie slumped, aching, in a chair as he watched a sun glass-clad Jack load his drum set into their van. Someone had brought Eddie some tea, which he was sipping slowly because it was so hot. Where anyone got tea at 5pm on a Wednesday in the middle of bumf*ck was beyond him, but he wasn’t complaining. It did his throat good. Not that it hurt at all. No, not at all…

"How you doin, Man?" he heard someone ask and he turned to respond but was stopped by a few strong, moist coughs. "That good, huh?" It was Stone, PJ’s lead guitarist. "Maybe we’d better just forget about tonight?"

Eddie frantically shook his head. "No! I’ll be… I’ll uhhhhhh…" the sneezes hadn’t let up for a moment since earlier before after his shower. "UhhhCHISHHH! huhhhhhhhhCH-IIIICHHHOO!"

"Fine you say?" Stone asked, hovering by his friend, worrying but not wanting to show it.

"I’ll be fine, Gossard" he assured the guy. "Really."

"Really?" He shook his head and took his jacket off, handing it to Eddie who’d begun noticeably shaking with chills.

Eddie took it, thankful for it, but nodded, maintaining his tough exterior. "Y-yeah, r-rehh… uhhhhhhchishhhh! UhhhhCHOO! Really."

"You feel up for a short run-though before we finish loading up the van?"

Eddie nodded. "Course "

They took their opening places and geared up to begin their opening song, just as Eddie burst out with a strong fit of sneezes.

Stone rolled his eyes.

"Let’s just move on to the next one," Jeff said, trying not to sound frustrated.

Eddie nodded, sniffing, swallowing, breathing regularly, and then assuring them again that he could do it. The makeshift drums beat out a regular rhythm, and Eddie’s deep, melodic voice began its echoing monotone. "I wish I was a neutron bomb, for once I could… " He froze. "co… uhhhhCHICHH! UhhhhhCHOooo! Huhh… uhhhh uhhhhhhCHISHHH!" he began sneezing again.

The rest of the band stopped their usual banging to the beat and stared at Eddie. Stone threw up his hands in frustration. "Forget it, Vedder! It’s not going to happen."

Eddie nodded, sniffing, regaining his composure. "It’ll pass, I swear. Just give me an hour or so. I’ll uhhhh.. uhhhCHISHHHOO! I’ll be fine by the time we get there to do uhhhhh the uhh… uhhh.. uhhhhhhCHIISHHHOO! the concert."

"You’d better be right, Man" Stone said, getting into the van and lounging on one of the seats.

Eddie hoped he was.


Eddie was in such a feverish daze that he didn’t realize the tour van had turned back around until he caught sight of the familiar Seattle needle lit up against the black of the evening. "Wha?" he asked, tired, groggy, congested.

No one had the courage to admit it to him. They all felt sorry for him, but they weren’t about to show it.

Eddie grew angry, though he was half-thankful. "Damnit, we didn’t have to turn around! I can still sing fihhh… fine… uhhh… HuhhhhhCHISHEW!" He’d been sneezing rather freely that evening, but this time he wished he’d had a tissue or something. And as if toying with him, then he was then overcome with an attack of sneezing. "UhhhhhhCHISHOO! ehhhhCHISHH! UuuhhhhhCHOO! CHISHOO! uuuuuhhhhCHishhhhhhoooo! AhhhCHOO! UhhhhCHOO! CHISHHHHH! CHISHOOO! UhhhhCHISHOOOOO!" he was sneezing now into the crook of his arm. The jacket, which had been draped over his shoulders, had fallen down as he bent forward at each powerful sneeze. "uuuhhhhCHOO! Ihhhh-UhhhhhCHISHHHOO! EhhhSHooo! uuuuhhhhCHISHOO! UhhhhhChishhhh, chishhhoo, UH-CHISHOOO!" He wiped his nose on his sleeve and sniffed, closing his eyes, trying to breathe. He felt terrible to have let everyone down, and wished he were better at hiding this, but he did have to admit that a concert was somewhat out of the question with as sore as his throat was and as raspy as his voice was rapidly becoming.

"You’ve got a fever, Vedder. And you know you wouldn’t be able to stand up, let alone sing. Hell, you can’t talk without sneezing."

Eddie scowled. "I coulda hacked it."

"Uh huh." Stone wasn’t about to say it, but he could tell his friend was thankfull.

As they pulled out in front of his building, Jeff went to open the door for him. Without a word, Eddie stormed out angrily, trying to maintain his tough façade. "Feel better," Jeff mumbled when Eddie was a few feet away.

Eddie paused and looked back at the van, Jeff looking down, starting to slowly close the door. Eddie sniffed and rubbed at his nose, and muttered back a soft, "Sorry, guys." Then he headed off into the house. He hated having to say it, but he knew it wasn’t fair to them. He still felt terrible. But the last thing he wanted was sympathy. He couldn’t stand people feeling sorry for him, or changing their plans because of him. Whenever he was sick, all he wanted was to be left alone. And with a blaring fever and freezing chills, now, all he wanted was to be able to curl up in bed and sleep until it was all over. Of course that was easier said than done as he nearly passed out on the stairs on his way up to his bedroom. He stripped down to boxers and a t-shirt, and crawled under the bed sheets, coughing and sneezing, and feeling too weak to go for the box of tissues. "UhhhhhhCHISHHHOO!" he sneezed, spraying freely, his nose tickling more with its release. "UhhhhhCHISHH! UhhhhhhCHISHHOOO! UHH-CHOOO!" He turned over onto his back and used Beth’s pillows to prop himself up a little more to help his headache and his ability to breathe. "UhhhCHIISHHOO!" he sneezed again, feeling the light spray on his body, and though its coolness made him shiver, he couldn’t care less. His head was burning, and his whole body ached. Plus the tickle in his nose was almost unbearable. He rubbed at it repeatedly, wishing he hadn’t as it, too, hurt. He sniffed and forced himself to close his eyes. He didn’t feel very tired, but he felt weak enough so that he wasn’t going to be able to do much more than just lie there and sneeze when the urges came up.

And then the phone rang. Eddie, with a cold shiver and a weak form, open his eyes and fell forward upon the bed in a lunge for the phone. "Yeah?"

"Hey, babe. It’s Beth. We’re on the plane now so I gotta make this short. But just wanted to let you know I’ll be home the morning of your birthday." She must have forgot he had a concert scheduled for that night, or else she would have been wondering why he were at home. "I love you," she kissed the receiver. "See you soon, Eddie-baby!" and with that, she hung up.

Eddie smiled, and hung up the phone with several harsh coughs. He reached over and blew his nose on a couple Kleenexes, then turned over on his side and closed his eyes again. He was restless, but drifted into sleep easily then for a few minutes at least. It was the most sleep he managed to get all night.

* * *

When morning came around, Eddie was snoring. It had been a long and difficult night of trying to find a comfortable spot. Every position he lay in seemed to make him uncomfortable. He burned with fever one moment and shook with chills the next. And if he wasn’t blowing his nose, he was sneezing fully every minute or two- sometimes in doubles and triples. And Eddie, with his manly build and tough exterior, regressed back to the days of childhood when he suffered alone. Alone.

He was too tired to get up, but too restless to remain where he was. Plus he’d drenched his clothes with sweat. Eddie crawled out of bed and changed, feeling chilled and burning. Grabbing the first blanket he saw on the bed, he wrapped it around himself and stumbled down the stairs to the living room. He wished someone were there to make him breakfast. He wished somewhere were there to get him some Aspirin.

"UhhhhhCHISHhhhhmmm!" loud but smothered in a Kleenex he held up to his nose. He felt another, and his face drooped tiredly in expectation. "Uhhhhhhhhh… uhhhhhh… huhhhhhhh…" it was coming so slowly- driving him crazy. "uhhhhh… uhhhhhhhh…" If only it would just come and get it over with. "Uhhhhhhhhh… UHHHHH…" he could feel it. It was coming. "Uhhhhhhhhhh… UHHHHHHHHHHHCHOOO!!" rocking him forward in his seat from the natural force. Beth suppressed her sneezes, held them in. Hers made a little ‘errrMmmph!’ sound. He had no idea how she did it. "HhuuuuhhhCHISHOO!" he sneezed, leaning back in the chair, thinking of his wife. She would know what he needed. She would know how to make him feel better. "uhhhhhhhhhCHISHOO!" Women always knew that sort of thing. They had such a way about them… a manor if being. There was such mystery, but such compassion. They were perfect. He needed one now. If Beth couldn’t be there… "uhhhhhhCHISHHH!" He blocked the thought of the phone out of his mind. And to prove his point, he turned off the ringer. At least it wouldn’t be bothering his head now.

He summoned his strength and stood up, pushing himself toward the bathroom and its medicine cabinet. He swallowed two Aspirin, then three, and lapped some water out of his hand to wash them down further with. He stared at himself in the mirror a moment, a tired but familiar face looking back at him. His face was red, flushed in the cheeks and by his nose. He nose was a bit red, too. His hair, parted to the right, flopped over one side of his face in brown waves. He pushed them back, blinking as he stared at his red eyes and soft face. He looked young. He always looked young. Not in age, but in his face. He had boyish looks, which did him well, but he had the attitude that only came from experience that made him tough. But now… he was too out of it to notice anything but that the reflection reminded him too much of a hangover. He only wished he felt as good as if he had one.

"HehhhSHOO!" he sneezed, aiming over his shoulder as he turned and headed back to the living room. The couch suddenly seemed more inviting than a warm hand or a good breakfast did, and he fell asleep in moments under a blanket, his head sunken into a thick down pillow.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep, but when he woke, he felt much more congested, and much less exhausted. He made a reach for the tissue box before anything else, and was surprised to find so many tissues from it gone. His nose actually hurt a little, though of course he’d never admit it, and he winced as he blew his nose a few times. And it only prompted a series of sneezes that seemed to pull at him until their final release. He fell back against the couch, lying on his back, trying to breathe. He tried to look at the clock, but the numbers blurred. It couldn’t have been more than a few hours. Could it? The world seemed so blurry to him, and getting worse every second.

Eddie closed his eyes until it stopped spinning. It would only be a few minutes. Just a few minutes…

There was a knocking on his door. And it was loud. Eddie sat up, rubbing at his nose and feeling worse than he had before his nap. "Who—" he stopped the call, his voice weak and rough. He cleared it and got up, going to the door and squinting through the peephole to see Jack. He opened the door. "Yeah?"

Jack stood there nervously.

"Jack?" Eddie was sure he looked like Hell, and he didn’t appreciate having to stand up for so long. It had better be important.

"We’ve been trying to call you all day. We were… concerned you might have…"

"Have…?" Eddie rubbed at his nose, not wanting to sneeze just then if he could help it.

"I dunno. You’re ok?"

Eddie sighed. "I told you guys, it’s just a cold. Geez, you’d think I was dying." He felt like he was. And a sneeze was coming. Slowly…

"Nah… well… um… yeah. Glad you’re ok. I guess I’ll go then…"

"Uhhhhhh hihhhhh…" quietly, but strongly. "Uhhhhhhhhhh…" it backed off. Eddie froze, feeling it just there, leaning against the doorway. "Man…" He nodded. "Yeah. You can g… go… UhhhhhhhhhCHOOOO!" He had a hand up in front a few inches to block the spray of the huge, and forceful sneeze. He sniffed and rubbed at his nose. "Sorry, Man."

"Hey!" Jack said, punching him gently in the shoulder. "S’Okay! Not like you can help it or anythin’. So, uh, I’ll go, k? And you, um. Sleep or do… whatever you do… and if you need anything… I’ll, uh, yeah. Call me." Jack backed up, looking a little embarrassed. "Yeah. Um. That’s all."

Eddie nodded. "Hey… thanks, man."

Jack’s eyebrows raised. The drummer smiled. "Oh, yeah. Cool. Get better, Eddie."

Eddie smiled back with a single nod of confirmation. "Will do."

Jack turned and left on an up beat.

Eddie shook his head with a smile, a bit annoyed he’d had to get up, but glad he had friends who cared. He closed the door and headed into the kitchen, startled to find it was already a quarter past 6. He rubbed one of his eyes and checked again to be sure. "Damn… that late al.. already?" he asked himself, rubbing at his nose. "Uhhhh," he put a hand down on the table to steady himself. "UhhhhhhCHISHH! UhhhhCHOO!" he sneezed wetly, his long hair falling in front of his face. He wiped his nose on his shoulder. He was incredibly hungry, but didn’t feel like making anything. So he went to the phone and called for a pizza, though he lost his appetite sometime between giving his phone number and what toppings he wanted. He thought about having a beer to block out a little of the feeling in his aching body, but decided against it and poured himself a glass of cranberry grape juice that Beth had made a week ago. He normally hated the stuff but he was drawn to it for some reason, gulping it down with incredible thirst, unable to taste it anyway. It was cold and wet- that’s what mattered. He had two, then three. Then resulted to a glass of water when it was gone, gulping it down, soothing his throat for a few seconds at least. Eddie filled up a pitcher and returned to the living room, leaving it on the side table. He collapsed back into his chair, pulling the blanket up over himself in warmth.

* * *

Sometime that night, he heard a beeping. It was loud enough to be an alarm, but not quite quiet enough to be the television. It took him a moment or two to realize it was, in fact, the phone. He rummaged around under the blankets for it. Whoever was calling was going to get it… Finally the ringing cordless was located and as he clicked it on, he swallowed. The pain shot through his throat and he winced, grabbing for the water and letting mouthfuls run freely down his throat. He nearly choked on it, but he felt slightly better now. He coughed to clear his throat and finally answered, "Hullo?"


He swore, but he didn’t blame the person one bit. He wouldn’t want to talk to him either.

"Eddie?" Beth called out.

He swerved around, looking to the open stairway behind him. No one was there.

He could have sworn he’d heard it.

The next thing Eddie knew, he was lying on the floor, tangled in sweat-damp blankets and shivering. He wasn’t sure what time it was, or how long he’d been there, but he knew enough to realize that he needed to get upstairs and into his warm bed.

Eddie stumbled up, swallowing to find his throat felt a little better. But this time his nose itched. Correction, now his nose tickled.

He was halfway across the room when the tickle set in fully. It froze him in his tracks, his long dark hair messed and fallen over his face. His shoulders were hunched forward, head down but pulling up and back with deep breaths, as his chest rose and fell. "Huh… Uuuhhhhhh… Uuuuhhhh-uhhhCHOO! UhhhCHHHISHH!" Making him step back and bend forward, his arms weak and shaking at his sides. He stumbled forward, bracing himself against the wall with one hand and the bed with the other. Eddie shook once, a chill rushing through him from the intensity of the feeling in his nose. Slowly, very slowly, he let his body submit to the feeling. "UhhhhhCHHH! Uhhhhh-HUHCHOOO! UhhhhhhhhCHISHHH! CHISHHOO! UuuuhhhhCHISHHHO!" Strong but not overly wet, they sprayed lightly, and he reached for a tissue. "UhhhhCHOOO! UuuuuhhhhCHISHOOO! UhhhhSHOOO! UhhhhhCHISHHH! UUUuuhhhhhhhCHHHHH! UuuuhhhhhhhhhhhCHISHHOOOO! UuuhhhhhhCHISHOOOO!" He managed to get one, and hold it against his nose. "UhhhhhCHHHHHSHhhhh! UuuhhhCHHHHHSHHHH! UUUhhhhhhCHISHHH! UUuuuhhhhCHUSHHHOOO!" He gasped for breath, feeling it back away. "UhhhhCHHHH!" His nose tickled only lightly now. He collapsed onto the bed in exhaustion.


And so it was when Beth stumbled upon him that following morning. She came in, tired from the flight; realizing Eddie must still be in bed, she bounded up the stairs to give him a wake-up kiss. But she paused in the doorway as her eyes fell upon her weakened husband. His skin pale, his normally handsome facade taken over by the ills of whatever ailment he was suffering from. His nose and all around it were red, and his nostrils flared widely with each snore. He was curled up in a mess of un-tucked blankets. One leg under, one on top, one arm clutching part of one blanket and hugging it against his chest. His hair, about shoulder length, lay in tangles around his face, where she could see beads of perspiration. She felt compelled to go to him, but just as she started to open the door more than the crack that she’d allowed herself, she saw him stir. He dragged himself out of bed, coughing first, then after a few thorough nose blows, sneezing. Eddie sat back down on the edge of the bed, one hand on his forehead, the other beside him on the bed to steady himself. Each sneeze came at him strongly. His body would tense up for a second, and once or twice he’d shiver. Then his chest would rise and fall a few times with stuffy breaths in and out, his nostrils flaring. He would then close his eyes, sometimes squinting immediately, sometimes it would take a moment, but by the time his inhaled his final breath, his face was tight in weak concentration. "Uhhhhhhhh…" By then, it was just a split second before the sneeze came. With his shoulders raising and pushing his whole usually tough body forward, he would sneeze. His teeth usually clenched, but he still sneezed freely, having no reason or care to politely cover up. "CHHISHHOOO!" Eddie would sniff a few times, then another look or realization would pass over his look of relief, and it would begin again, and again, and again until the fit had passed. This time especially, he managed to make it past twenty-eight before stopping. He blew his nose, depositing the Kleenexes on the floor by his side of the bed. He reached for more, his face falling to the familiar expression once more, only to find that he was out. He groaned, closing his eyes. His body heaved with a large breath, swaying back, then forward with a mighty "huuuuuuuuuuuuUUUUUUHHHHCHHHUUSHHHH!" spraying with a light mist which touched him and made him shiver but also indicated the end of them for a while. Eddie rose again, his head spinning. He looked so very weak, and leaned on the walls for support as he walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind.

In a moment or two, Beth heard the shower running. She deposited her bags and straightened out the covers on the bed. Then she thought twice and changed the covers completely to the warm flannel blue ones she knew he liked so much. Then she made her way into the steamy bathroom. She could now hear Eddie sneezing strongly as he stood in the shower, and debated her next move. She didn’t want to scare him at all, or make him uncomfortable, but she did want to help if she could… It didn’t take her long to decide, for at his pitiful "Uhggghhh!" moan, she knew he needed her.

She took off her clothes quickly, and slid the door open to the shower, expecting that he had seen and heard her. But his back was turned to her, his hand on the wall; he was leaning forward as the sneezes struck him. She bit her lip, waiting for the sneezes to quiet themselves down before she spoke, which they finally did. In a few soft words, she announced her presence to the man she loved. "Morning, Eddie."

He jumped a mile. Startled beyond words, he would have slipped on the floor of the shower had she not been there to steady him. "Beth!" His voice was scratchy, but the same handsome deep that she and the rest of his millions of fans loved. "Wha...?"

She hushed him with a kiss and wrapped her arms around him. "My poor Eddie. You came down with a cold?"

He shook his head. "Nah, nah, I’m ok… " He sneezed to the side, his body shaking. Then he nodded, his forehead going to her shoulder, his arms wrapping around her slender, sexy body. His hands traced her sides, her curves. And as much as he hated to no ends the feeling of being babied and having someone fussing over him, he had to admit that he was glad she was back. "I m’bissed you," he snuffled, his nose running, his hands running over her backside.

She hugged him tightly. "Have you washed yet?"

He shook his head, holding her against him, not wanting to let go.

"Well then," she giggled, breaking away. She lathered up a washcloth and began to rub it against his chest in circles. He sighed contently, sniffing and rubbing his nose. Eddie rubbed his hand in circles on hers, as well, her nipples rising instantly at his touch. He could tell she missed him, too. She moved on to his arms, washing them, letting the water wash away the soap suds, and then kissing spots on his arms. Then his back, neck, face, resulting in dozens of more kisses and a long twenty-minute pause while she gave him one of her patented back rubs. Then she moved on to his legs, and very gently, and kindly, on to his more private areas. When she was done, and almost as if on cue, the sneezes he’d been trying so hard to prevent, came to the surface. Beth stepped back, giving him room as he bent forward with each mighty sneeze; he wasn’t the type to hold back. "UhhhCHISHEOO! Uuuhhh huhhhhh huhIHHCHOO! uuhhhhCHISHHH! CHISHOOO!"

"Bless you," her voice was soft and comforting and rang in his ears.

"Thadks." He meant it. He sniffed and rubbed his nose. He reached to turn off the water but a last sneeze caught him, "uuuhhhhhhCHICHOOOO!"

She turned off the water for him, and stepped out before his now violently shivering form. She wrapped him in towels and then wrapped her arms around him tightly, rubbing his arms warmer. Then on with his bathrobe, and a kiss on the cheek, and there came his smile. His face glowing with happiness. His deep, almond-shaped eyes turned down at the corners as the sides of his mouth turned up. "That’s what I was waiting for," she whispered, giving him another kiss. She put on her own bathrobe and wrapped her hair up in a towel. Then she guided him out of the bathroom, her hand in his. She was rarely too mushy for him, but it was still unexpected to have him instinctually grab for her hand.

"I… um… don’t feel much like… uhhhhh ehhhh… uhhhCHOOO! sorry… I don’t feel much like lying down again right now…"

Her heart sunk. "OK, let’s go downstairs and watch some television or something then?"

He nodded. "Kay…"

She brought down a few clean blankets with her and wrapped him up in them as he lounged on the couch. But the blaring tv hurt his head and the glow even in the lit room, hurt his eyes. So they quickly turned it off and when Beth returned with a box of Kleenex for him, they lay down together on the couch. She began gently caressing him, rubbing her fingers up and down his hairy arm, up to his shoulder, and heavily against his back the way only she could. He was tough Eddie, and he never gave that up, but she could tell by his weak smile and his breathing alone that he didn’t mind for a moment her presence, or her stoking and petting.

"uuuhhhhhh... uhhhhhhhCHISHHHOO!" his whole body shook the couch, and shook Beth’s body.

She laughed in her usual light laugh, and kissed him, pressing her body up against his from behind in reaction. She’d missed him.

He sniffed. "Beth?"

She kissed behind his ear, then on his ear, then in front, then on his cheek. With little breath, she said, softly, "Happy Birthday, Eddie."

He’d entirely forgotten it was the twenty-third already. He’d entirely forgotten that it had been a week since they’d last seen each other; or perhaps he was just trying to block that part out. "Thadks," he whispered back, turning onto his back and letting her roll over on top of him. She straddled him, rubbing her hands under the folds of the bathrobe to his chest, feeling it heave with each breath. He was so incredible; he was so handsome even now. She saw his face drop, eyes squint shut so perfectly until his face looked almost pained. He drew a strong breath, and sneezed quickly but powerfully, "uuuhhhhhCHIIISHHHOO!" his body shaking and lurching forward under its control, causing Beth to loose her balance and topple forward onto him.

She giggled, and regained her balance, propping herself up on her elbows. "Mmmmm… Eddie…" she looked into his deep brown eyes and felt lost by how handsome he was.

"Yeah?" he sniffed.

"I… want you." It was blunt, she knew, but she could hold back no longer. She untied his bathrobe and pulled it back away from his body. He was weak and shivering a little. Eddie rubbed his nose, trying hard not to sneeze again. She took off her own bathrobe and let him look her over a minute before she went forward, lying fully on top of his body.

He shook his head, his hands unable to keep themselves from her body. "Beth… I… have a… a cold… I can’t… uhhh.. uhhhhhCHISHOO! UhhhhhhhSHOO!" He sniffed, pulling away, leaning away. "uhhhhhhCHOOO! Huhhhh.. huhhhh CHIIIISHOO!" He wanted her so badly.

She hugged him close, rubbing his chest, kissing him, moaning softly.

"Ohhhh… " he wanted her, but he could barely move.

He was so handsome. His hands tough and worked, his body tall but built. His features so striking, and his whole self… so perfect in every passionate, sexy way. "Just lie back," she kissed him… and kissed him…

"uhhhhCHOOO! UhhhhhCHISHHHOOOOO! Uuuuuuhhh uhhhh uhhhhhhhhhIHHHCHOOOO!" He sneezed powerfully, his body shaking, lurching forward, off the couch perfectly. He apologized but it was no use, he couldn’t get a word in. "I’m uuuhhhhIHHCHOO! UhhhSHUSHHH! uuuuiihhhhhhCHUSHHH! so… uuuhhhhhCHHHHSSSSSHHH! So sorr.. sorr… uhhhhIIHHHCHHHH! UhhCHOOO! UHHCHOO! I just cad’t he… help… uhhhh uhhhh" he was trying so hard to fight them off, but the tickling was so intense, the feeling so strong. "uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhCHHHHOOOOOO!"

She grabbed at him, holding him tightly. "I’ll take care of everything, Eddie… " she laughed, pulling him, pushing him, letting him take hold of her as only he could. And as he sneezed and moaned weakly, he was caught in the thrusts of ecstasy and passion. And though he was weak, he went hard. He let her take him. Let her nurture him. Let her make him feel so weak but so loved, protected and taken care of. He lost himself in her arms. And though he was chilled and ailing, she gave him peace. And offered him Release.


* written at request *