“You’re home late tonight.” My mom said.
“Yeah. I had a thing with the other guardians.”
It was a lie, I’d spent the hours after the daily training regimen just hanging out with and cuddling with Kenzie on her bed.
“If you’re hungry, I ordered some chinese food earlier.”
I opened the fridge and prepared a plate, it wasn’t the healthiest food in the world, fairly greasy actually, but it was something I really enjoyed and my mom had picked many of my favorites; general tso’s chicken, fried rice, spring rolls, wonton soup and all that stuff.
I sat down and started eating my dinner. After a few minutes however, my skin began to itch, primarily around the mouth but in other spots too, I raised my sleeve and saw the hive beginning to appear; a raised sets of red bumps had formed on my skin.
“Where did you order this?”
“The lotus pagoda like always.” My mom said. “Why?”
“They contaminated the food, I’m having an allergic reaction.” My tongue had begun swelling, making my speech a little slurred.
I got up and retrieved my Epipen from my bag.
“I think they gave us the wrong spring rolls or wonton.” My mom said. “I specified without shrimp but they must have understood otherwise.”
I’d never had the more serious allergy symptoms but I carried one in case anaphylaxis ever happened, it would allow me to buy enough time to get to a hospital. Instead eating shellfish typically lead to me getting hives and a painful session of diarrhea and vomiting.
Which is how I spent the rest of the night...
At one point, I passed out in the bathroom and my mom must have dragged me into bed. The downside of divergent people needing only a few hours of sleep every night was that you can’t sleep through a headache or a fever no matter how much you’d like to. Instead, I spent several hours in a haze, my thoughts unfocused and barely coherent while my just abdomen hurt. Even tightly curled up in my sheets, I felt cold, which only ever happened when I was running a fever.
When I heard my mom active in the kitchen, I forced myself out of bed, my legs were shaky, I’d thrown up everything I’d eaten since lunch and I was dehydrated.
She gave me a hug. “How are you feeling?”
“I’ve had worse.”
She took my temperature and I went to the bathroom to wash up, I’d been put to bed covered in cold sweat and I felt dirty.
When I came out, my mom had prepared toasts, the smell of it made my stomach turn.
“Do you want something to eat?”
“No thanks, my stomach is still in a bad shape.” I sat down at the table arms folded on it and niched my head on them. I just sat there lethargic until I saw the time, it was close to school time so I put my shoes on and went for the door.
“Where are you going?” My mom asked, stopping me with her hand.
“School… I can’t miss, it’s in my probation.”
“Paige, you’re barely standing. I’ll call in sick for you. Do you have the number of your parole officer?”
I gave her the number and she called Kickback informing her that I was sick, soon followed by my school. When she was done, she gently pushed me to the living room and onto the couch before getting my blanket and pillow.
And like that, I spent most of the day on the couch, watching whatever I could find without paying any real interest, my mom bringing me water and ginger tea every once in awhile which I held down.
Around dinner time, the bell rang.
“Hello?” My mom asked, hitting the intercom.
“Hello Natasha. It’s Mackenzie and two of Paige’s friends We’re here to see her.”
“Paige, do you feel well enough for visitors?”
“Let them in.”
She pressed the buzzer and two minutes later Kenzie, Victoria and Chuan came in and introduced themselves. I couldn’t see it, but I secretly hoped my mom hadn’t stared at her or did anything weird at the sight of Victoria. After introductions were over, my mom pointed them to the living room.
Kenzie was dressed in her favorite fashion; Flannel shirt and jeans. Chuan on the other hand wore a band tee I didn’t know about, ripped jeans and a choker on his neck. His blue green hair was spiked and swept up. Victoria was wearing shorts like usual.
“What are you guys doing here?” I weakly asked, sitting on the couch.
“We’re the pampering squad!” Chuan declared proudly, he was holding a hermetically sealed tupperware. “KB told us you got sick.”
“We made soup.” Victoria said. “Nothing big, it’s just chicken noodles.”
“How are you feeling?” Kenzie asked.
“Tired, cold, weak. What’s worse is that I can’t just sleep through it all. At least I’ve stopped throwing up and the urticaria is gone.”
“You’re not contagious, are you?” Chuan asked.
“No, I had an allergic reaction to the food my mom ordered.” I shivered a bit, from the fever so I adjusted the blanket over my shoulder.
“Chuan, Victoria can you two ask if Paige’s mom has another blanket to spare?” It was a pretty shallow excuse but they took it.
Kenzie gave me a quick kiss once the two left the room and distracted my mom. I couldn’t imagine it was a very pleasant experience, kissing someone who’d spent the night throwing up and hadn’t brushed their teeth since. Still, she didn’t show it.
“I made sure to tell Chuan and Victoria that you aren’t out to your parents by the way. So they shouldn’t make a mistake. I hope that’s okay.” She whispered to me.
“It is. I’m so glad to see you.”
“Are you good enough to try eating?”
“I managed to hold down water and ginger tea my mom made and that was a while ago. I think I can handle soup.” I gave her a weak smile and she gave me another kiss on the forehead before leaving, bringing back a bowl filled with still warm soup.
It wasn’t anything big or complicated, just short thin noodles, bits of chopped chicken and shredded carrots in a clear salty broth but it was warm, it filled a hole in my upset stomach and the fact that my girlfriend had made it made it even better.
After a few minutes, Victoria and Chuan came back to us.
“So there’s no clean blankets but I have an idea.” Victoria said. “Can we bring a mattress here?”
“Sure, you can get the one in my room.”
Kenzie, Chuan and Victoria went and retrieved my mattress and set it down before the couch. Seemingly knowing what to do, when that was done Victoria laid down on it and Kenzie helped me up before letting me snuggle up with Victoria, using her as a cushion and wrapping my blanket on the exposed side.
She was really soft, having both thick fur and a layer of fat to serve as padding, she was also nicely warm.
“Since we’re going to be hanging here for a while, I brought a bunch of movies.” He took out a selection of movies from the eighties and nineties from his bag, introducing them to us.
“Do you watch any modern movie?”
“Yeah a few, I just think that by and large they suck. Seventies to Nineties were the good years, the two thousands seemed to be nothing but remakes and sub par sequels and then Jörmungandr sank a part of Los Angeles and Nidhogg burned and irradiated the rest a few years later and a lot of the talent was lost.”
Kenzie sat down next to me, also laying her back on Victoria who was big enough for three people. Chuan on the other hand crashed on the couch, feet and everything on it. After a while, I noticed Victoria was purring lightly, her tail moved lazily and periodically brushed my hand.
They’d brought a crate of ginger ale and I slowly sipped a can. I wasn’t the biggest fan but it was better than nothing and a nice change of pace from water.
“I’m hungry.” Victoria said halfway through the second movie.
“I’ll order something for us.”
“What are you ordering?” I asked.
“I’m thinking about Thai food. Which I’m very biased toward it for obvious reasons.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Can you get me the same thing you gave me last time?” Kenzie asked. “It was great.”
“Sure. I’ll think of something good for Victoria and Paige too.”
“No seafood, I don’t want to get sick again.”
Food arrived before the end of the current movie and Chuan distributed it around, giving me a simple beef soup with long, large, flat rice noodle along with leafy greens which was a nice step up in term of nutrition and consistency. Victoria on the other hand had a few different dishes of grilled meats. Kenzie had a rice and meat dish and Chuan ate a spicy green curry.
Somewhere around the middle of third movie, I fell asleep, propped against Kenzie’s shoulder.