“Hey babe. I hope you’re sleeping well, for as long as it lasts this time. I’m a little too keyed up to sleep for the moment, worried about you, but I’ll be back in bed soon. Thank you for waking me up when you needed me, Kane. I always want you to feel like you can ask for help. I hope you’re feeling better in the morning. I love you.”
Jason hangs up and drops his phone into his lap with a sigh. He knows it’s probably just a bad cold, but Kane coughing so hard he throws up isn’t the kind of thing he can shake off that easily. It’s been a quiet night otherwise, though, so hopefully he’ll feel ready to go back to bed in a few minutes.
There’s a creak from behind him, and he cranes his neck around to see Mira poking her head out her door. “Is Kane all right?” she asks, her voice soft from sleep and concern.
He smiles what he hopes is a reassuring smile. “Yeah, he’ll be fine. He’s asleep again already. It happens to him sometimes, but I think it’s just a cold.”
“Oh, that’s good, at least.” She wraps her arms around herself, shivering slightly. “If you need anything, or Kane needs anything, just let me know. Us know. Any of us.” With a yawn, she turns back into her room and shuts the door behind her, the same creak echoing in the sudden silence.
“Note to self, fix Mira’s door,” Jason says to himself. He leans back on the couch, staring at the ceiling, before heading into the bedroom to check on Kane and go back to bed.
When Kane wakes up, his eyes are crusty with sleep and whatever else eyes manufacture when one is sick. “Ugh,” he says aloud, then rolls over to fumble for his phone on the nightstand and listen to whatever voicemails Jason and the others left overnight.
Or he tries to, but he’s wracked with another spasm of coughing before he can get there. If his eyes hadn’t been enough of a reminder that he’s not feeling well, the dry, cracking throat would be a certain sign.
The first message is from Jason, from around midnight, and the second is too, from around four in the morning when he’d woken them both up with his coughing and chundering. He cringes with embarrassment at the memory, wishing he’d been able to handle it himself without Jason’s help. But the voicemail helps smooth out the spikes in his thoughts, almost like Jason’s working magic across time now instead of just across space. Kane grins at the thought, despite waking up faintly miserable, and leans across the bed to place a gentle kiss on Jason’s forehead.
The third and final message is from Mira and Helen together, apparently using speakerphone.
“Hi Papa Bear! It’s Mira and Helen! I was awake when Jason came out after you were sick last night - or this morning, I guess it was - so I figured that Helen and I could get up this morning and watch the bar for you until you’re either feeling up to coming down, Michael comes over, or Jason gets up.”
“Don’t you dare come downstairs, Kane. You need to rest - you’ve needed it for ages anyway, and now you have an excuse. Sleep and drink copious amounts of orange juice, and we’ll watch the bar for you.”
Another coughing fit hits, and this time Kane’s groping on the nightstand is for the glass of water Jason had left after the four-in-the-morning incident. Once he’s had enough to stave off the worst of the cough for a few minutes, he looks over and realizes that Jason’s eyes are open.
His heart sinks. “I didn’t mean to wake you, I’m sorry.”
Jason shrugs. “It’s all right, babe. I want to make sure you’re okay.” He grabs an extra pillow from where it’s strewn on his side of the bed and passes it over to Kane, who leans forward to prop it against the headboard. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I’m made of phlegm and trying to hollow myself out, apparently,” is the rueful reply. He sighs. “But Mira and Helen already left a message to tell me that under no circumstances am I supposed to go downstairs. In Helen’s words I’m supposed to ‘sleep and drink copious amounts of orange juice.’”
The sound Jason makes is somewhere between a perfectly respectable laugh and a full-on snort. “That’s one way to tell you to take a goddamn break, I guess.”
Trying not to laugh for fear of another coughing fit, Kane makes a strangled sort of noise himself. “Now I just have to try not to die of boredom, instead of trying not to burn out from overwork as you all seem to think I’m in danger of.”
Jason’s eyes light up, and he rolls out of bed with far more energy than Kane’s ever really seen him have this early in the morning, especially not after a rude awakening. He rummages through their closet for a few moments and apparently finds what he’s looking for, because he turns back around and holds it up triumphantly. “It” is a plastic shopping bag filled with something that looks lumpy and strange from this distance. He has no hope of figuring out what on earth Jason might be holding.
“Maggie sent all this for you when you talked about needing something to keep your hands busy.” He plops the bag on the bed so Kane can see what’s inside - a bunch of skeins of yarn, with a pair of knitting needles stuck through the middle one, and a book called I Taught Myself to Knit tucked in alongside. “She used to knit as a kid. Doesn’t anymore, and thought you might want to try. You said you didn’t have time and stuck it in the closet, but if Mira and Helen are going to forcibly keep you out of the bar today, you might as well have something mildly interesting to do.”
“Mildly interesting might be pushing it.” But Kane takes the bag from Jason and starts poking at the yarn. The balls are all over the color spectrum, with an eye-searing orange and an actually really lovely teal bundled in next to each other alongside a purple and a white. It’s soft enough to the touch, and he pulls out the white skein and rolls it between his hands. “Huh.”
Jason climbs back into bed, curling up under the covers but keeping his eyes on Kane. “What’s up?”
“I’m not sure.” Kane fiddles with the yarn until he finds the open end of it, pulling gently so it unspools from the center of the skein. “A vague memory, maybe. Like Mumma or my grandma tried to teach me how to knit as a kid, too.”
He’s still looking at the yarn in his hands, but his eyes are far away, lost in his thoughts. Jason doesn’t say anything, letting him have some time to gather them. It’s quiet in their room, save for the squawking of birds outside, and he’s going to revel in having this moment, even if it’s for unpleasant reasons.
When Kane still doesn’t speak after a few minutes, Jason reaches out and puts a hand on his knee. “Maybe even more reason to try, then.” He shrugs, laughing when it shifts the blanket in front of his face. After he pushes it back aside, Kane’s face looks a little lighter, so he doesn’t continue with wherever he was going with that sentence next.
“Maybe so,” Kane says thoughtfully, and pulls out the book and needles from the bag. Only once he’s opened to the first page of the book does Jason roll over, content that maybe he’ll try working on the knitting rather than trying to help out downstairs or something.
“Hey honey. Just letting you know that I am contentedly sitting on the couch with my new project, so you don’t have to worry about barging down to the bar to haul me back up here when you get up.
“This is actually surprisingly soothing, now that I’m starting to get the hang of it. It was frustrating at the beginning, and it still kind of is? But it’s also really cool to see that there’s suddenly fabric where before there was just yarn, and I did that. I did that, Jason! I made something!
“Hmm, that gets me thinking. Maybe I could make something for the bar? Or presents for our friends? Or, maybe, I should graduate farther than making little six-inch squares first!”
Jason pokes his head into the living room to find Kane and Mira both sitting on the couch, Kane patiently showing off how to form stitches with the golden needles. It’s a peaceful scene, but he can’t help himself from breaking it with a joke.
“I don’t think teaching is an especially relaxing endeavor, Mr. Baxter,” he says, as solemnly as he can, and he’s well rewarded for it. Kane looks up sheepishly, Mira confusedly, and Jason can’t hold onto the deadpan anymore and starts to laugh.
“I am resting,” Kane protests, “and I’m feeling much better, I haven’t been coughing in -” he interrupts himself with another bout of coughing, although much less labored than it had been in the morning. Accepting a tissue from Mira, he puts himself back to rights and balefully, playfully glares at Jason.
“Or I was feeling much better, until the cough fairy had to wake up and return them to me.” He shakes his head melodramatically, with a look Jason would’ve thought would be more appropriate on his own face than Kane’s.
Mira looks between the two of them, also giggling slightly, and finally looks up at Jason. In a stage whisper, she says, “He’s lying. He’s been coughing all morning.”
With a mock-offended gasp, Kane leans away from Mira and pulls the knitting with him. “You ratted me out! After all I’ve taught you!” He’s giggling as well by the end of his statement, putting even further paid to the pretended offense.
Perching on the arm of the couch next to Kane, Jason nods down at his boyfriend. “You do sound better than you did earlier, though. I’m glad.”
Holding up the small knitted square forming on his needles, Kane nods, then points the whole contraption at the half-empty glass of orange juice on the coffee table. “I’ve been following instructions admirably.”
With a smirk, Jason glances over at the stairs down to the bar. “Great. Now you’ve just got to keep doing that, until you’re actually better.”
Now the look on Kane’s face is mock horror, and, throwing caution to the wind, Jason leans down to press a kiss to his lips. “I love you, you workaholic.”
“Hey! I just want to make sure everyone feels comfortable in the bar!”
A squeak from the other side of the couch makes them both look up, to find Mira grinning. “You guys are absolutely adorable.” Jason preens at the words, but she’s already poking Kane in the shoulder. “Now go take a nap. I know you didn’t get enough sleep, and even if you like the knitting, it’s not as restful as actually resting .”
“Yes, Mira,” Kane grumbles good-naturedly, and bundles the knitting back into the shopping bag. He holds it up to Jason as he maneuvers around the coffee table. “And thank you for this. I think it’ll keep me occupied a little longer than I thought it would.”
“I’ll let Maggie know, she’ll appreciate it.” He watches Kane disappear back into their room, marveling for a moment that this is his life, and then turns back to Mira to start the rest of the day.