Burnt Into Ashes (OCs, sickfic, part 1)
A/N: IMPORTANT NOTE to understanding where in the GingerSnap timeline this takes place. There’s a point (a few years into their relationship) where Liam and Elliott broke up, and things didn’t end well. Liam was not nice through that time. To anyone, really, but especially Elliott. This fic takes place right in the middle of the year or so between their breakup and them getting back together. I hope that’s not confusing, but feel free to ask any questions if things aren’t clear. This is something I wrote like a year ago, but I’m still happy with it, so I’m sharing it anyway. That said, enjoy!
Elliott woke to his phone vibrating and ringing on the table next to his head. The sound cut straight through his skull, exacerbating the headache he was dismayed to find had not gone away with a good night’s sleep. Then again, he thought, he hadn’t had a good night’s sleep with all the tossing and turning and not being able to breathe.
He reached for the phone, nearly knocking it into the tissue-filled trash below, and squinted through the early morning darkness at the name on the blinding screen. Liam. The last person he wanted to talk to at–what time was it? He wasn’t even scheduled to work today, he remembered groggily.
“Yeah?” he answered, surprising himself with the roughness in his voice.
“Good morning to you, too, Chapman,” Liam said with an ever present snideness. It never used to be like this, Elliott thought. When they were together, Liam would bring him tea with honey and lemon in it and do whatever he could to keep Elliott from having to work when he was ill. Now it seemed like Elliott was the first person he called when he needed someone to cover. He wanted nothing more than to tell Liam to shove it, to leave him alone and let him go back to sleep, but he was afraid of what that would cost him.
“Whad’you wadt, Price, ’b ndot scheduled for t’day,” Elliott mumbled into his pillow. His head pounded harder with each moment he was awake, and he feared he might not be able to get back to sleep at all if Liam didn’t hang up soon.
“You are now,” Liam said matter-of-factly.
Elliott expected it, but that didn’t keep his heart from sinking. “Cad’t you fi’d sobeode else?” he asked. He knuckled the tip of his nose, a vague itch starting up in his nasal cavity. “I’b ndot re-hh!-really up to it.”
“Afraid I can’t,” Liam said, and he sounded genuinely exasperated by it. “Believe me, I take no pleasure in having to ask someone who spent half of the previous day sneezing in the bathroom, but we’re short staff as it is, and I can’t afford to have you out.”
The tickle was rapidly becoming much more than vague, and he missed most of what Liam said while he was trying to keep from sneezing. “Ndot sure you cad afford to hahh…have mbe there either.” God, the last thing he needed was to sneeze in Liam’s ear. He didn’t know how Liam would react to it now. Things were quite different from when they were together. Liam didn’t even bless him anymore. And yet, Elliott knew it was still plenty distracting for him if the way he flinched and grimaced were any indication.
“Better than nothing,” Liam muttered. “I can cut it to half what I actually need you for, if you’re going to be difficult about it.”
“D-diffic–huh! AEGhJISsSH’u!” The sneeze wrenched itself free at the first possible opportunity, as soon as Elliott was distracted. And it wasn’t the only one. While his eyes watered, and he tried desperately to recover, his nostrils twitched and flared with the insatiable need, and he almost forgot to draw the phone back before the next outburst. “hah’EHGKtZIhSHU! h-huh’UhKtJISsSHU! h-hh-hih’IHGhTJhSSH!”
He sniffled and groaned in the aftermath, throat burning while his head assaulted him with a relentless throbbing. He couldn’t think, and when he pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead, even he could tell it was too warm. With a shuddering breath, he returned the phone to his ear, ready to ask Liam one more time if he wouldn’t reconsider. But before he could even form the full thought, Liam spoke again.
“Be here for eleven, Chapman,” he snapped, and the call ended.
Elliott lay stunned for a moment until the reality hit him that yes, he did in fact have to work, and no, he could not persuade Liam to let him off for the day. He dropped the phone off the side of the bed, the soft thump cushioned by several used tissues, and draped his arm over his eyes.