long papes

Imagine Crutchie Worrying about Polio

“An’ then I told Morris to get out of my face,” you laugh, tying to tease a smile out of Crutchie. After a long day of selling papes, Crutchie seems a little more exhausted than usual. You’re doing your best to cheer him up. “And then ya know what I did?”

You stop and wait for him to ask you what you did. His eyes have a distant look in them, and he’s rubbing his bum leg.

“Crutchie? You alright?” you ask, concerned.

“Huh?” His head snaps up, and he sits up straighter on his bed. “Sorry. Just got my mind on other things.” Suddenly Crutchie grimaced and gripped his knee.

“What?” you ask, frightened. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothin’, (y/n),” Crutchie answers, obviously in pain. “Just nothin’.”
“Now don’t give me that,” you sigh, sitting next to him and rubbing his back. “I know you better than that, Crutchie.”

His eyes fill with tears, and his breath is coming faster. You hold him close, heart aching, not knowing what you can do to help him. A single tear falls from his eyes onto your (f/c) skirt as you draw his head onto your shoulder. He continues rubbing his knee all the while.

“It’s just,” he begins, voice cracking. “What if it happens again?”

“What if what happens again?”

“What if I get sick again? It hurt like this when I was sick,” he pauses. “It hurts like this a lot.”

“But you never say anything!” you exclaim. “Why don’t you tell us?”

“Ain’t no helping it. There’s no fix for it. Just gotta wait it out. No use botherin’ all of ya.”

“Well, Crutchie,” you murmur, rubbing his knee. “You tell me next time, alright? Does this help?”

“Yeah,” he replies and gives you a half-hearted grin. “Feels a lot better when you do it than when I do.”

“And if you do get sick again, you’ve got us,” you state, looking him in the eyes. “You’ve got friends now that you didn’t have the first time. We’ve got you.”

You two are quiet for a while. Simply being together is enough for the moment. You keep rubbing his knee, hoping all the while that the pain leaves him.

“(Y/n),” Crutchie whispers. “Thank ya.”

You smile and impulsively kiss his cheek. He cups your face in his hand and kisses your forehead.

Sitting back again, he smiles and says, “So, about the Delancys. You said what to Morris?”


Avignon, France (by Michel Liesegang)