The sound of her sneeze resounded throughout the lockeroom. Connie barely even stopped lacing up her skates to catch it in a handkerchief. She blew her nose discreetly and returned to her hockey gear.
"Connie go home." Guy sat on the edge of the bench. He watched his girlfriend from across the room with concern.
"I'm fine Guy." She did her best, but her voice failed her. It came out sounding somewhere between sandpaper and phone sex operator. She smiled crookedly and coughed a little, against her will.
"You're sick Connie." She simply shrugged.
"And you should go home, get some rest, sleep it off. Seriously, Coach Orien will understand."
"Uh-huh..." She remained unconvinced.
Guy rose from his spot and came closer. He took up the space behind his seated girlfriend and slowly began rubbing her shoulders. She tensed for a moment then, as his fingers worked magic at her knotted muscles, she slumped backwards. A tiny groan slipped from her lips and Guy smiled to himself.
"You're stiff." His hands and fingers played over her shoulders and skimmed across the exposed skin at her neckline. She was on fire. Guy stopped his massage and turned her to face him Placing the back of his hand to her forehead, he took assessment of her temperature. "You have a fever Connie." He begged her with his eyes, "please go home, let me explain to Orien."
She gave up the fight and conceded defeat. But she stood up too quickly and fell immediately back into the bench, landing awkwardly from dizziness. Guy bent over her, half-smiling at her disheveled appearance, half worrying about her state.
"I'm taking you home." His declaration surprisingly met with no protest as Connie eased herself from the bench again. She snagged her coat and keys from her locker and Guy helped her on with her coat. As soon as it cloaked her shoulders she began to shiver. Guy's arm wrapped her protectively as they left the building for the parking lot.
The sniffling had started in the car; the coughing soon eclipsed the runny nose. Connie's head felt like a fish tank full of bubbles and rocks. She sat on her couch rubbing her temples and sneezing occasionally as Guy fixed some tea in the kitchen. As he passed her a steamy mug, she pressed her palms to the hot porcelain, warming herself.
"You should get changed." She was still wearing the turtleneck and shorts she always wore under her gear and although she maintained an attractive allure, the sniffling and reddened nose did detract from her appeal. Guy smiled and tried to coax her from the couch.
"I don't wanna." She mumbled as she kicked off her shoes. Well this certainly wasn't the rough, tough Connie Moreau of the Mighty Ducks he was familiar with.
"C'mon Connie, you'll feel better as soon as you get your jammies on, I promise."
"Don't wanna." She repeated. Her petulance was almost sexy.
"If you don't get up and change I'll be forced to do it for you." Her chuckle came out in a cough/sneeze/sniffle combo; she rose and trudged off down the hall to her room. Guy took another sip of tea and grinned at her behaviour, this was a Connie he'd enjoy, sick-but-adorably-cute-Connie, he mused. He returned to the kitchen.
Guy glanced at his watch and realized that he hadn't heard a peep from his girlfriend in nearly fifteen minutes.
At the threshold of her bedroom, Guy clasped a hand over his mouth to stifle a chuckle. Connie was asleep on top of her sheets. She had managed to get about halfway changed. He approached the bed and stealthily finished putting her pyjamas on. He held her feet together and turned her body around on the bed, straightening her out.
He pulled the sheets down from underneath her limp body and did his best not to disturb as he slipped her between the sheets and tucked the covers up around her face. The sight of her snug in her blankets was heartwarming and Guy sat down on the bed to watch her for a while.
He brought her cold water and placed it on a coaster on the bedside table. He even made some noodle soup for when she ventured to wake up. He left it slowly simmering on the stove top for a while, keeping it warm.
The sky was dark when Guy returned to her bedroom. They were the only ones home - not unusual at Connie's house. She had kicked off her covers and was shivering in her sleep. He felt her forehead again only to sense her fever was worse. A frown creased his face as he tried to gently rouse her. She didn't budge. Guy shook her shoulders with more intent, then called to her- his voice rising as each attempt failed to wake her.
He gathered her in his arms and forcibly shook her until her eyes fluttered a little. She opened them, and saw her boyfriend through blurry vision.
"Guy?" She mumbled. "What is it?" She seemed unaware that she was sick, that he was holding her, that she was burning up all over.
"Connie- your fever... it's getting worse." Her head fell back a moment then she snapped awake and disoriented. He looked at her, trying to train her eyes to his. "Your fever Connie- it's really high."
"Thermometer's in the medicine cabinet Guy..." She faded again and Guy laid her back to the bed to go find the thermometer.
"Shit." He muttered. "Shit." Her temperature was 104 degrees. "Not good, not good..." he paced at her bedside debating scooping her up and carting her off to the hospital. From the corner of his eye, he saw her tiny hand reach out to him.
"Whassrrong?" He dropped to his knees at her side.
"Your fever's too high Connie what do I do?" Her eyes closed briefly. "Connie! C'mon sweetheart don't sleep now- tell me what to do."
"Cold shower..." It seemed as if that last instruction had sucked the last of her energy dry. Guy picked her up and made his way to the bathroom. He wrestled her flannel pajama top off and stepped into the upright shower stall, he was still clothed, she was limp in his arms. He ran the cold water, with just a hint of warmth then flipped the knob to start the shower.
The jolt was harsh, it was freezing and Guy shook instantly from the cold spray. He hoisted Connie up under the arms, trying to somehow balance her dead weight against him; her head was pressed to his chest. After a few minutes she began to stir and mumble something about the cold. After a sentence or two it seemed to Guy that she was hallucinating. Hallucinating about hockey. About Iceland.
"Shh, Connie I've got you. Baby I've got you, you're safe... you're safe here with me."
He kept talking through her mutterings, trying to ground her, trying to wake her from the dreams. The words spilled out of him, things of safety, things of love and as he spoke her body began to respond to his assurances. She stood up a little stronger, her eyes opened and she focused on the shimmery sight of the buttons on Guy's shirt.
"Guy?" She lifted her face to his and she straightened, bearing her weight. His hands smoothed down over her hair and traced her face as she started to register where she was and what was going on. Guy leaned passed her and shut off the water. He helped her out of the stall and wrapped her in towels, rubbing her arms and hugging her close.
When she was safely tucked into bed again, Guy double-checked that her fever had indeed died down. He grabbed the book Connie had been reading from her nightstand and settled into the chair in the corner of the room.
Connie awoke, her throat dry and voice raspy. She sat up and noticed right away that Guy was slouched in the chair, asleep with his head tipped back. She ventured into the living room and saw the chilled soup on the stovetop; she smiled as she coughed into her fist. She filled her glass with orange juice and shuffled back into her room.
"You're awake." Guy grinned.
"So are you. You could have laid down Guy, I'm sure I wouldn't have noticed last night."
"I just wanted to keep an eye out, in case your fever came back." He stood and stretched his long arms over his head; his back making tiny pops as he twisted side to side. "How are you feeling?"
"My throat's still killing me, and I'm still tired, but I'm otherwise fine."
"You scared me last night. You were hallucinating when I took you into the shower."
Connie pulled the covers over her crossed legs on the bed and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She blushed a little. She had a vague recollection of the incident. Mostly she remembered his voice, soft, in her ear, reassuring.
"Its Saturday... want to stay- watch a movie with me?" His eyes were smiling as he nodded.
"I'd love that Connie - love it."
As they pulled an afghan over themselves on the couch, Guy sneezed; shaking the very walls around them. Connie laughed.
"Here we go again..." she snickered. "C'mere Guy." She reached up and smoothed her hand across the nape of his neck then guided him to lay his head in her lap. He cuddled to her without effort and they spent the morning nestled together, coughing, sneezing and smiling.