Author: Athea (
Fandom: Magnificent 7, ATF, not Matchmaker
Series: Anchors, part eight
Title: Achoo!
Summary: Birch Challenge - Chris gets sick for the first time in their relationship.
Date: 25 January 2004
********* Buck **********

I watched in slowly creeping horror while Chris sneezed four times straight and started rubbing his temples. Vin looked concerned but with a kind of grin that told me he didn't realize what was about to happen. I gulped hard and started making plans - like a quick get-a-way and the turning off of our cell phones for about four days. If I was real fast, I'd miss the fallout from this debacle in the making.

"That must have hurt, Cowboy." Vin said jokingly and I winced.

"Damn dust," Chris' voice had sunk an octave just since the sneezing. He cleared his throat a couple of times and spit at the fence. "I'm fine."

Oh, this was bad, I thought with sinking heart. He was looking a little flushed. "Maybe we should call it a day, guys. The sun's over the yardarm and I could really use a nice cold beer. JD wants me home early so we can watch Pirates of the Caribbean again tonight."

"Hey, Josiah really liked that movie." Vin lit up like a Christmas tree. "Let's do quit early. Maybe I can get 'Siah to watch it again tonight, too."

Chris grunted but headed for the barn and I kept in a sigh of relief with practiced care. Vin let our latest filly into the paddock where she could nibble some hay and stretch her legs without all the two-legs talking to her. I pulled him aside for a minute before we headed in ourselves.

"Vin, don't expect to work for the next two days, maybe three. Chris is coming down with a cold and believe me when I say, you do *not* want to be any where near him when he's sick."

He grinned quizzically at me. "I've been there when he was shot, stabbed and beat up. How bad can a cold be?"

I rolled my eyes. "He's not bad when he's hurt but he's the worst son-of-a-bitch you've ever known when he's ill. He's so cranky you want to run for cover. He's got a nasty mouth on him and he loves sharing the misery. Poor Ezra is in for a bad couple of days. Damn, I've got to warn him before Chris goes inside."

Vin chuckled and headed for the barn while I whipped out my cell phone and called Ezra. This would be the real test for their relationship. No mistake about it.

********* Chris *********

My nose was stuffed up.

My head was throbbing.

My clothes were too tight and they hurt suddenly tender skin.

Damn it, I was sick.

Buck could hardly wait to escape and Vin was right behind him.

How the hell was I going to explain to Ezra that I needed to be left alone for the next few days? I'm a piss-poor patient in the best of times but when it's something stupid like a cold, I get so angry at myself for catching it that I lash out at everybody. Ezra didn't deserve that but it would just be better all around if I moved into one of the guest rooms until I felt better.

Closing the front door behind me, I headed down the hall to his office. Sticking my head through the doorway, I frowned. He wasn't here. The new loveseat and ottoman looked great and I'd often find Ezra sprawled out on them while waiting on a phone call or proofreading of one of his proposals. Not today though and I wrinkled my nose against another series of sneezes but ended up almost blowing my head off anyway.

"Chris, I'm up here." Ezra's voice floated down to me. "Come up at once."

If I was feeling better, my dick would have thought that sounded good but he didn't even twitch. Trudging upstairs, I tried to think of something to tell him but my brain was already beginning to turn off. I could hear the water running and wondered why he was bathing so early. Crossing to the doorway of our renovated bathroom, I watched Ezra swish his hand through what looked like green water.

"Buck called and warned me, my dear Chris." He rose and moved to stand in front of me. His cool hand on my cheek was all the warning I got before the thermometer slipped under my tongue. "I've added some Kneipp eucalyptus herbal essence to the water and that will help your chest." His clever hands were quickly stripping me down to bare skin. The thermometer beeped and he took it out of my mouth to read it. "Hm-m-m, 101 degrees is not good."

I was suddenly shivering and he guided me over to the tub and into the steaming water. I sank down and felt my whole body start to relax. The steam was faintly scented or maybe it was just my nose clearing up a little. His hand stroked through my hair until I felt like purring but it would take too much energy.

"Relax and I'll be right back." He dropped a kiss on my head and left the room while I was ducking down a little to make sure all of me was under water.

The ache in my bones was increasing but for the moment my skin didn't feel quite so bad. My eyes felt like they had sand in them and my throat was starting to hurt, too. Another volley of sneezes racked my whole body and I used the washcloth to wipe my suddenly runny nose. A noise at the door told me Ezra was back and I opened my scratchy eyes in time to receive a mug of something hot.

"Drink that slowly, Chris while I get the bed ready." He made sure I had a hold of it before turning to leave.

"Wait, Ez'," I managed before I sneezed again and slopped some of the hot liquid into the bath. "I should stay in one of the spare rooms. I'm not a very good patient."

He suddenly smiled at me. "So Buck has warned me but I think I'll keep my eye on you just the same. Drink, Chris, it will help with the fever and aches."

I nodded glumly and sipped the hot lemonade. It must be the Thera-Flu stuff from the medicine cabinet that appeared when he moved in. It wasn't too bad, I thought and took another sip, kind of tangy and tart. It was mostly gone when he appeared again. He'd stripped down too and I tried out a leer but he could tell my heart wasn't really in it.

"My poor love, let's get you up and into bed so you can start to heal." He took the cup and laid it to one side before holding out a big towel enticingly. I stood up slowly, the room doing a 180 but he was right there to steady and help me out of the tub.

I should have felt surly. I should have been pushing him away, not accepting his help and letting him pamper me. Had I turned into a wimp since turning bi-sexual? I thought about that though it was kind of fuzzy and I was back to shivering again. He steered me into the bedroom and the beautiful sight of our bed turned down invitingly.

The sheets were cool at first and I was shivering all over until he joined me. He's like a little furnace and I slid into his arms with a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Ez'."

"You're quite welcome, my love." His hands stroked gently over my back. "Sleep and grow stronger, Chris. There's nothing you have to do, nowhere you need to be. Just relax and let me take care of you."

I was already falling asleep.


Two days later, I was bored out of my little mind. My eyes were still scratchy so I couldn't read. The TV Ezra had moved into the bedroom had absolutely nothing worth watching although I had kind of enjoyed Oprah's program on Steinbeck's novel East of Eden. I didn't want to listen to music because nothing fit my mood. My body ached all over so no position in bed was comfortable. The pillows were either too hard or too soft and I couldn't punch them into a good shape at all.

I was bored, bored, bored. Ezra hadn't been in for almost two hours and I suddenly wondered if he'd left me all alone in the house so he could get away from my bad temper. I'd been pretty cranky about breakfast this morning. Well, the toast had been cool not hot the way it should be. I shifted uneasily while thinking about the look on his face when I complained.

It was the neutral face I hated. There was nothing worse than seeing the physical signs of his retreat behind the walls he erected to protect his spirit. A noise from the doorway brought my eyes up in time to see him saunter in with a chilled glass bowl in his hand.

"You're bored, achy and feeling sorry for yourself," he said with a lift of an elegant eyebrow.

I blushed hard. "I'm sorry about breakfast. The honey-cinnamon spread was really nice on the toast."

"Hm-m," he made a noncommittal sound and crossed to sit on the edge of the bed. "I thought we might share a little treat before I run a bath to take care of those aches."

"What did you make?" I hauled myself up a little against the pillows and tried to crane my neck to see inside the bowl. His smile was slow and the silver spoon brought up some light brown mousse streaked with whipped cream. "Mint chocolate chip mousse?"

"Hm-m," he fed me the first delicious spoonful and I had to close my eyes so I could savor the icy taste. It melted on my tongue like the ambrosia Ezra had told me about.

By the time we finished the bowl, I could feel a slight stirring at my groin. I'd been sick all over and not even Ezra sliding into bed naked had awakened my libido. But now maybe I could entice him inside of me if I was really devious. He set the bowl aside and rose to cross to the bathroom. That's when I finally noticed he was only wearing a pair of shorts and an old t-shirt.

How the hell had I missed that? The shorts were those little green silk ones with the slit up the sides and they clung to his buttocks like a second skin. Oh yeah, I was feeling better and my cock thought it would be a really good idea to follow him into the bathroom. So I shoved back the covers and slid out of bed. The room still had a tendency to tilt on me when I moved too fast so I held onto the bed post for a minute until I had my balance back.

The water was green again but a different kind of green and I recognized the big plastic jar with the words 'Batherapy, natural mineral bath' by the side of the tub. The stuff was amazing and we'd both used it before to ease aching muscles. But he'd already stripped off his clothes and I pouted because I'd wanted to do that.

"Into the tub, my love, and I'll massage those aching muscles." His green eyes flashed at me and we both watched my cock start to harden. "Goodness, I can see I need to take care of *all* those aching . . . muscles."

Sinking into the warm water, I felt myself begin to relax all over except for my cock. He always did have a mind of his own. "Are you coming in?"

"Of course, Chris," his soft voice took on soothing tones. He slid in the opposite end and picked up the Dove soap to lather his hands. "I shall wash you from head to toe then once you are back in our bed I shall massage away the aches of the day until you are calm and relaxed."

His hands washed and massaged my left leg until it felt like a limp noodle. His fingers used just the right amount of pressure to relax each muscle group until I felt boneless in the soothing water. Then he switched legs and did it all over again. My cock was rock hard when his hands slid down him and back up. Soapy bubbles almost hid him from sight but then hot water rinsed him clean and I opened my eyes in time to watch Ezra deep-throat him.

Oh yes, here was heaven. His mouth is like silk and he sucks like a demon. His tongue moves like it has a brain of its own and I gave myself up to it with a sense of voluptuous pleasure. I had no stamina and within five minutes released with a sigh into his mouth. He swallowed me down then kept on washing me until my front was finished.

"Up you come, my love, let me get your back." He brushed a soft kiss across my lips and I tasted him lazily. I always tasted better mixed with him. I turned over and let him scrub my back with the loofa. That felt wonderful and so did it ghosting over my cheeks and the back of my legs. I was limp by the time he kissed each buttock and started draining the water out of the tub.

I had just enough energy to get out of the tub safely before I plopped down on the toilet seat and tried to dry off. My hands were trembling but I managed most of me by the time Ezra was finished and could take care of the last of the trickles. He bade me sit there while he went to change the bed. I didn't really have the energy to do anything else. That rather startled me since I wasn't used to being so weak.

When I was sick before, I'd always been alone. Oh, Buck would call or drop by to make sure I hadn't died but that was just one friend looking out for another. This kind of care was different. This was like having love wrapped around me from my head to my toes. It didn't smother me but it did feel like I was cocooned in warmth and that felt wonderful.

"Come along, Chris," Ezra appeared again. "Let's get you back into bed so you can take a nap."

He helped me up and steadied me all the way into the bedroom. The clean soft sheets were calling to me and I crawled in with a moan of relief. But when he would have left me there alone, I snagged his hand and tugged. "You too, Ez', I need you to cuddle me."

Chuckling, he slid in beside me. "Would you like a bedtime story too, heart of my heart?"

"Yes," I said eagerly. "I like your stories, especially the sexy ones."

"Ah, very well, one sexy story coming up." He pulled me into his arms so my head was cradles just right in the hollow between his shoulder and neck. Strong hands stroked my back and I felt like purring again. "Let's see if I can't adapt one of the classics to fit the mood."

I snuggled in and slid my leg between his. "Beauty and the Beast, please."

The end for now