Advent Calendar, part 17

17

It was the bathroom window, he was sure of it. It had been left open, and since the bathroom door had been left open in order to air out the stuffy space, the chill had crept into every nook of the apartment.
Settia’s lips moved; they were chapped and dry, and almost as pale as his face.
“Mi…zu..ki?” Settia’s green eyes seemed to be swimming beneath his heavy eyelids.
“Hey,” Mizuki swallowed. “What happened to you..? Are you sick?”
Settia just smiled weakly.
“It’s because of the cold, isn’t it? Why didn’t you close the window?”
There was no response. It seemed like Settia had drifted off again. Rushing to his feet, Mizuki ran into the bathroom, shutting the window and slamming shut the door as well, trying to prevent the room from getting colder at least.
Worry weighed him down. Assuming that Settia was telling the truth, he couldn’t call a doctor. What was he supposed to say? And in any case, he didn’t have the money to pay for a doctor to come to the house. Resolutely, he grabbed for the book his professor had recommended, and searched the pages frantically.
From what he could find in his stressed out state,  Settia was most likely suffering from some kind of hypothermia, or the floral version of it anyway. It seemed like Poinsettias were sensitive to temperature changes, but that heat and moisture was a way to counter the damage.
“Settia?” he whispered, leaning in, still with the compendium in his lap. “I’m gonna go out for a bit, and pick up something for you. Come…”
He didn’t think that it would be good for him to stay on the futon on the cold floor, so he hoisted Settia’s limp form into his arms, and somehow managed to get him onto the bed, wrapping the covers tightly around him. Getting a glass of water from the kitchen, he supported Settia’s head and held the glass to his lips. “Here. Drink.”
Without opening his eyes, Settia drank a couple of sips and then fell back on the pillow.
“Stay here okay? I’ll be right back!”

Mizuki threw on his coat and boots, grabbing his keys and wallet in one swift motion, hastening outside, almost slipping on the icy stairs.

When he returned, it was with a big package under one arm, and a small plastic bag in the other. He’d stopped by a flower shop to ask for some advice, and received some kind of remedy that should be mixed into the water. “A cold remedy for plants.” The cashier had called it. Mizuki chose to trust her. The package contained a space heater, which he immediately plugged in and set to moderate heat, placing it next to the bed, where Settia lay. He mixed some of the powder from the florist into the glass already on the table, and shook the redhead gently.
“Sorry to wake you,” he smiled apologetically. “How do you feel?”
Settia shook his head listlessly.
“Drink this, it should help. I bought a space heater as well, but tell me if it gets too hot. I don’t want to make you feel worse…” he sat on the bedside, helping Settia with the glass, accepting it back once it was half empty, and Settia lowered himself back down onto the mattress.
“I’m so sorry,” he murmured, brushing his fingers absentmindedly through Settia’s hair. “I didn’t mean to forget about the window… And I knew you were cold earlier as well…”
“Don’t feel bad…” Settia’s voice was a low whisper. He gazed dully up at Mizuki.
“It’s just…” fear gripped him before he had even said the words out loud; “Cold can….kill plants, can’t it?”
“You’re good to me,” Settia repeated quietly. “I’ll be fine, Mizuki.”
He patted the mattress next to himself. “Come. Don’t be afraid.”
Mizuki lay down next to him. He allowed for Settia to nuzzle close to him, desperate to share some of his own heat, perhaps to quench his guilt. Or was it something else?
Somehow, it felt like Settia was the one comforting him again. He was breathing somewhat irregularly still, and he was still cold, despite the two of them being tightly enveloped beneath the covers.
“Did you really buy me a gingerbread house?” Settia asked, his voice strained and somewhat muffled by the pillow.
“Ssh, you should rest.” Mizuki whispered back. “But yeah. I did. Now get well, so we can build it together.”
“Thank you…” Settia mumbled, his chapped lips brushing against Mizuki’s cheek as he spoke, making him flush with surprise.

They stayed much in that same position until evening fell. Mizuki got up briefly to lock the doors and change into pajamas, before slipping back into bed again. It all seemed so natural somehow. And he was relieved to find that Settia’s temperature seemed higher as well.
He thought about what he had said earlier, how he had gone about dealing with Settia’s condition. Didn’t that mean that he believed him, no matter how crazy it seemed? Maybe he was going crazy. It seemed that way.
You need to get well, he thought. Get well, so you can tell me everything.
He reached out, stroking Settia’s cheek gently. The other male stirred slightly. He mumbled something in his sleep. It sounded suspiciously like “I love you, Mizuki.”
Instinctively, he wrapped his arm around Settia’s torso, and pulled him even closer. “Silly.” He whispered.

**TBC**

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