Day 4: Illness or Discomfort
Quinn braced himself against the hall, resting his forehead against the cool, painted concrete. He wasn’t so much dizzy as he was thrown by his surroundings swirling dizzily around him. He had an earache, he knew that already, but he hadn’t expected the resulting vertigo to hit him so quickly and so hard.
He turned marginally, just enough to see his coworker Rebecca approaching him, her face drawn in concern.
“Hey,” Quinn managed around a thick swallow. “Grab my phone?”
“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Rebecca slipped her hand into Quinn’s pocket, her fingers flying across the screen as she shot a text to Toby. “Let’s go sit down. Can you walk?”
Quinn began to nod, but stopped as his stomach flipped dangerously. He closed his eyes for a moment to collect his bearings, opening them again slowly as the lack of sight left him even more unbalanced.
Rebecca lead him to a bench on the edge of the hallway. It wasn’t private in the slightest, but at least it got Quinn off his feet. A professor eyed them suspiciously, but they were at the student health clinic, so Quinn knew his appearance wasn’t too out of the ordinary.
“Toby’s on his way, okay?” Rebecca offered, glancing down at Quinn’s phone as it chimed in her hand. “Are you sick or something?”
“Vertigo,” he mumbled. He slapped his hand over his mouth, his stomach seemingly opposed to talking.
Quinn gagged unexpectedly, groaning. He doubled over and coughed a thick stream of vomit onto the linoleum, whimpering as he swayed precariously. The nausea had come on so suddenly—just thinking about it left him reeling and he doubled over again, stomach heaving.
He didn’t know how long had been—honestly his sense of time felt as wobbly as he did—but suddenly, blissfully, the familiar feeling of Toby’s large, callused hands were cupping his face, shielding Quinn’s eyes from the offending overhead fluorescents. Quinn made no move to get up, watching as Rebecca explained the situation to Toby, though the ringing in Quinn’s ears made listening to their hushed conversation rather difficult.
“Toby,” he whined quietly. “I want to go home.”
“Thanks, Bex,” he heard Toby say, before turning his attention to Quinn. “I know, babe, let’s go. Can you stand?”
In lieu of nodding, Quinn squinted up at Toby through the brightness and grabbed his hand. Once standing, he clutched Toby’s arm as a means of grounding himself, reminding his brain that he was, in fact, standing still.
Their walk to the bus stop was a daunting one, especially when Quinn staggered away to throw up into an undeserving bush. Toby stayed by his side, chasing away gawking freshmen with a steel glance or warning them of the effects of one too many frat parties. If Quinn hadn’t felt so miserable, the amount of embarrassment he would have felt would be unparalleled.
The bus stop was blissfully deserted. Quinn slid down onto the bench, doubling forward and burying his face in his hands. Step two was now complete—the first had been calling Toby. But Quinn didn’t know if he was ready to tackle the final leg of their journey. If he was this unsteady just sitting still, he didn’t want to think about the horrors of boarding a moving bus.
“We don’t have to get on yet,” Toby said, breathing into Quinn’s ear and rubbing soothingly along his shoulders. “Rebecca gave you some nausea pills for the ride home.”
Blessed Rebecca. She could read him about as well as Toby could. Quinn was glad to have a small, but strong circle of friends he could rely on when he was feeling unwell.
“I just need another minute,” Quinn rasped. He closed his eyes and leaned into Toby’s side, grateful that the whirling sensation was ebbing into a painful annoyance, rather than the pressing concern it had been. “Thanks for coming. I’m surprised you made it as fast as you did.”
“I was on my way to bring your lunch, you left it at home this morning. I was in such a hurry to get to you when I got your text that sadly, I left your bag on the bus. I’m sure it’ll still be good if we manage to get the same bus.”
Toby’s voice was teasing and Quinn couldn’t help but to smile. He had a dull headache now, the vertigo coming in short spurts as he tried to lift his head.
“I love you, but please don’t talk about food unless you want to be covered in the remaining bit left in my stomach.”
Toby looked startled for just a moment, before he broke into a grin, wrapping his arm around Quinn’s shoulders and pulling him close. “Noted.”