Characters: Teddy, Billy, Dr. Strange, Jessica Jones, Kaplan family
Time-Frame: During Dark Reign, when Strange is staying with the New Avengers in Avengers Mansion
Summary: Being an alien hybrid left Teddy immune to Earth's illnesses. It also left him quite helpless and lost when Billy, who for all his magical powers was quite human, came down with a fever.
The cellphone's incessant ringing was rapidly and surely drilling a hole into Teddy's mind. The teen growled into the pillow before he tried to cover his head with it. It helped a bit, and for a while, but Teddy was more awake than asleep by then, and he fumbled for his wrist-watch on the night-stand. It didn't tell him anything he wasn't mostly aware of by then, but it did drive home the fact they were running a bit behind on schedule and should get out of bed soon if they didn't want to be late for school.
First thing was first, though, and seeing how Billy was still out cold, Teddy extended his reach and shut the phone up himself.
There - already better.
"Billy…" Teddy cooed as he snuggled against his partner. "Bee, we need to go soon." He urged and trailed his fingers over Billy's forehead.
A frown rose to his face at that. Billy's skin felt noticeably warmer than usual, and was covered with sweat. His face was twisted into a pained frown, and labored gasps left his lips.
For a moment Teddy was certain Billy was having a nightmare, but then Billy opened his eyes and offered Teddy a tiny, exhausted smile.
His voice sounded strained, and Teddy pulled a bit away to take a better look at his boyfriend. Only before he could do that, Billy started coughing this dry, nasty cough, and Teddy helped him up to a sitting position, rubbing his back until the mage settled down.
"Billy?!" Teddy exclaimed and held Billy's arm to keep him from falling.
Billy was still for a moment before he offered Teddy that same weary look.
"Heh… I've been wondering when this'll happen." Billy admitted in a weak voice and let himself lean against Teddy, who was only too eager to offer support.
"What is this? What's wrong with you?"
Billy's smile faded a bit, and he invested that energy instead into quirking a brow.
"You're joking, right?"
Teddy obviously wasn't, and Billy was certain that under normal circumstances, he'd have thought that was just too darn cute. But right then he was feeling too much like death to properly enjoy it.
"Ted… I'm sick." The mage explained, hoping that the simple, mundane explanation will help put Teddy even a little bit at ease.
It only made things much worse.
"Mom! Jeff!" Teddy cried out and dashed to the kitchen, Billy held firmly in his arms.
The family as a whole was in the kitchen, and all stared at the two with varying levels of surprise and distress.
Billy in the meanwhile was palming his face.
"Teddy, what's wrong?!" Rebecca exclaimed and inspected both boys, a worried frown on her face.
"I- I think he's dying!" Teddy responded, almost ready to cry.
One of the boys broke the toast he was holding; the other spilled his spoon's content back into his bowl of cereal.
The parents remained a bit more composed, especially in light of the way Billy was rolling his eyes at the statement.
"How are you feeling, sweetie?" Rebecca asked softly and leaned down to press her lips against Billy's forehead. It helped Teddy held him a bit lower for her.
"Mom, it's nothing, it's just-"
Billy's speech was broken by a cough, one that made Teddy frown while Rebecca smiled softly and ran a hand through her son's hair.
"One of your nasty colds, it seems. It's about that time of the year, isn't it?"
"I'll get some soup out of the freezer." Jeff declared and began rummaging for the frozen boxes.
"What do we do about it?!" Teddy asked with no small amount of distress and looked from one parent to the other with obvious confusion. Why was no one else as worried about this?!
The mother of the house offered Teddy a reassuring smile, all the while gently patting Billy's hair.
"Lots of rest, and lots of liquids."
The answer felt somehow not so satisfying, but Teddy relented reluctantly. He looked down worriedly at Billy, who curled up in his arms and leaned his head against Teddy's shoulder. He seemed ready to fall back asleep, Teddy thought, and held him in a way he hoped was comfortable before kissing his warm forehead.
It was decided Teddy would stay with Billy while the rest of the family went about their daily business, or rather, Teddy decided on that and would not be swayed from his decision. He was thus given instructions as to what to do under different circumstances, but Teddy found he had a hard time following the one thing Rebecca stressed the most, being - to calm down.
How was he to do that when Billy looked so weak, in so much pain?
"Bee?" Teddy asked weakly, as he did on occasion. He tried not to over-do it as to not keep Billy from sleeping, but he couldn't really help himself. Even asleep, Billy looked pale and in suffering, and Teddy's heart ached for him.
Being sick really sucked, didn't it?
No sooner did he finish thinking that, was Billy struck with another coughing fit that was enough to wake him up. Teddy was instantly by his side, helping him up and patting his back.
It subsided after what seemed to be an eternity to Teddy, and he watched helplessly as Billy held his neck.
Rebecca and Jeff said to call them if anything happened, but as they only tried to calm him down the last five times, and stressed to only call them if Billy was coughing up blood ("It can get that bad?!" Teddy exclaimed at the time, besides himself with worry), Teddy figured it was time he took on a more active approach.
It was why it wasn't long before Teddy was in his Hulkling uniform, and flying Billy across town to the one place he could think of to ask for help.
"You're shivering." He whispered sadly, and braved the best glare Billy could manage at that time.
"It's only… ten degrees colder here, Ted."
So Teddy flew faster.
"Oh my." Were the two words that left Stephen Strange's lips at the sight. There they were, two Young Avengers, one clad in his battle attire with his wings spread, while the other seemed quite miserable, cocooned in a blanket and still in what seemed to be his pajamas.
"You've got to help him… please!"
The former Sorcerer Supreme studied the young mage, who looked back with no small amount of annoyance past his fevered panting and flushed face.
"It's. A cold. It's called common for a r-"
It was the worst timing possible for another coughing fit, Billy thought but could do little to stop it.
Strange in the meanwhile took his time studying the two, taking in the more obvious symptoms of Billy's illness as well as the distressed, almost panicked air that hung around Teddy.
Ah; so that's what happened, the man thought and approached the two when Billy resumed breathing again.
"I'm sorry to say, but at this point-" Strange paused as he reached a hand to Billy's forehead.
The teen was about to object again, but as soon as contact was made his eyes glazed over, and he went completely limp in Teddy's arms.
"-It seems to be a bit worse than that."
"Wha-" Teddy gasped, feeling Billy slumping in his arms.
"What did you do?!" He demanded, only to meet Strange's usually calm demeanor.
"Everything I do, Teddy, is in the benefit of my patients. Now, why don't we let him rest? I'll have Wong arrange a room for him."
Teddy looked down at Billy uncertainly, before he followed Strange. The man was a doctor, right?
When Billy woke up, it was in a bed he never laid in before, with an unfamiliar ceiling above him. He squinted his eyes, proceeded to close them, and then blinked twice before looking around.
"Ah, you're awake." He heard being said, and slowly turned to look in the familiar voice's direction. There was Strange, sitting in a comfortable looking armchair. The man closed the book he was reading and left it on the nearby table before he walked up to the side of the bed.
Billy in the meanwhile managed to pull himself up to a sitting position. He blinked down at himself once he realized he wasn't in the clothes he was brought in wearing.
"We had Teddy change you." Strange explained. "The cleaner we keep you, the better."
Billy nodded slowly and leaned against the head of the bed. He waited until Strange sat down on the mattress next to him before he dared to speak. The sound of his own voice made him frown, but he spoke anyway.
"Why did you do it?"
Strange nodded, seeing the validity of the question. He answered as simply as he could, seeing how Billy wasn't in any shape to process anything too complex.
"Because otherwise, he'd have taken you somewhere else, and another, andanother, until someone would've taken you in. Only by then, you most likely would've been at death's door, being hauled back and forth all day."
Billy pursed his lips and looked down thoughtfully. He was mostly left to his own thoughts while Strange got up to pour the boy a cup of tea.
"I don't suppose you have any idea as to why he's quite that worried?" The man asked softly as he added the sugar and stirred.
Billy chewed on his lower lip as he ran the question back and forth in his mind. Thinking was a bit difficult to do, but when Strange handed him the steaming cup, Billy thought he had an idea, and whatever it was, it made him look quite remorseful.
"I… I think it's because he's-"
"-Never been sick before?! Ever?!" Jessica Jones exclaimed in obvious surprise.
As Strange forbade Teddy from entering the room Billy was in, the teen was left to wander through Avengers Mansion. At that point Jessica pulled him towards the dining room, and made sure he got a nice sandwich to chew through, and a cold can of soda to wash it down with. The effort was appreciated, even if Teddy barely touched anything.
"Ever." Teddy replied with slightly hunched shoulders, and glanced again at the door leading to the stairways in the hopes of seeing Strange, or better yet - Billy.
Jessica followed his gaze for a moment before resting an elbow on the table and her chin in her palm.
"I guess that applies to your mom, too?" She tried gently. "She never-"
Teddy shook his head.
"The only sick-days she ever took were fake, so she could spend more time with me."
A tiny, adoring 'aaw~' left Jessica's lips, which in turn made Teddy smile a bit bashfully.
The woman seemed thoughtful the next moment, and lowered her hand to the table.
"So this was it, huh? First time seeing a sick person up close?
Teddy nodded slowly.
"Well, there were some guys who came sick to school, but-"
"But you didn't ever wake up next to them when they're running a fever." Jessica finished, only to then tilt her head at the questioning, pleading look Teddy gave her.
"What is it?" She coaxed when he seemed to be struggling with himself.
"It's just- everyone treats it like it's nothing, but how can they? He looks so weak and helpless, he coughs all the time-"
Teddy trailed off; Jessica waited until she was sure he wasn't going to continue before she spoke again.
"I imagine 'everyone' includes his parents? And Billy himself, too?"
A tiny affirmative nod was Teddy's response.
Jessica inhaled deeply before offering the teen a smile. She leaned a bit forward when next she spoke.
"Don't you think that if it was more than nothing, that his parents would've donesomething about it? I don't know, Teddy, they didn't strike me as the type to let their son die like that."
Teddy ruffled his hair in frustration.
"I know, you're right, but I-"
He fell silent and held a hand over the lower half of his face.
"I just don't know what I'd do, if-"
"Nothing'll happen to him, Teddy." Jessica declared and looked the teen in the eye. "He's under Strange's care, he's getting rest, and taking his medication. He'll be just fine."
"Can't he be fine faster?" Teddy asked. He knew he was being childish, but couldn't quite help it. Thankfully, Jessica took it well enough and rounded the table so she could sit next to Teddy, and then pulled him in for half a hug.
"Unfortunately, us humans heal a lot slower than you do, Ted."
She paused in favor of pulling back a bit to properly look him in the eye.
"But we do heal. You just need to be patient."
Teddy scrunched his nose.
"Ask around, that's not one of my best traits."
Jessica snickered fondly and leaned back in her chair.
"Well then, here's the question - what do you have going for you more - impatience, or the will to help Billy get better?"
The question was actually very easy to answer.
It took some promise-making, and Jessica's vouching for him, before Strange let Teddy into Billy's room. He found Billy half asleep, but upon noticing the visitor, Billy pushed himself up higher over his pillow.
"Hey", he greeted weakly.
Teddy smiled back uncertainly and sat down on the bed, next to Billy. He then let himself reach to take Billy's hand.
"Hi. How are you feeling?"
Billy closed his eyes before speaking.
"Like it's going to get worse… before it gets better." He answered honestly, and was a bit surprised to see Teddy didn't explode with worry.
Teddy did purse his lips and seemed unhappy, though.
"But… it's getting there, right? Better, I mean."
Billy nodded and did his best to squeeze Teddy's hand back.
"Yeah… it is."
"So long as I don't fly yo-" Teddy tried, but Billy let out a groan and scrunched his nose.
"Oh, shut up, Altman, I'm not well enough for your self loathing right now."
The words seemed harsh, but then Billy's expression softened, and he smiled.
"Besides, how can I be mad at you for worrying?"
"Well, it did get you sicker, flying you here." Teddy muttered.
Billy hummed back.
"It did." He admitted with a soft chuckle. "So just… don't do that again." Came the conclusion.
Teddy nodded obediently.
"I'm just… new to this whole 'sick person' thing."
"I know." Billy whispered and let out a small sigh. "At least your heart's in the right place." He offered then and closed his eyes when Teddy caressed his cheek.
"It'll also be a lot lighter once you get better, wherever the 'right place' is."
"Two, three days, Ted. Then I'll spoil you rotten in return."
Teddy smiled almost longingly at that offer, only to chuckle next.
"You're falling asleep on me, aren't you?" He asked, seeing how not only did Billy have his eyes closed, but also leaned his head a bit too heavily against the pillow.
"Tea's drugged." The sleepy mage answered, and didn't put up any fight when Teddy helped him settle down, and even tucked Billy in.
"So. Doc said to get lots of rest, right?"
"Yeah, but-" Billy paused when Teddy pushed some strands of hair from his forehead. Their eyes met.
"I'm going to need you to fly me back before mom and dad come back to find us gone."
Somehow, the possibility of needing to explain to mama and papa Kaplan why their son wasn't resting in his room when he was sick terrified Teddy more than any foe he ever faced.
"If it's the same to you, I think we'll take a cab." Teddy decided and leaned down to kiss Billy's forehead.
"Get some more rest, Bee. I'll see you later."
Billy hummed softly, and it wasn't before long that his breathing slowed down and he fell asleep.
Now, it wasn't that Teddy was any less worried or anxious, oh no, but he did know these two things -
One, Billy was cared for, and well taken care of by everyone.
Two - panic attacks were not in the sick person's best interest.
So instead, Teddy tried to make sure Billy was as comfortable as he could be as he slept, and settled on watching him slowly get better.
So long as he could do these two things, Teddy thought it was enough.