Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Flu Season
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

"Never thought I'd have a chance to say it," Gunn told the can of chicken-noodle soup in his hand, "but I apparently am the only smart one on this team." He poured the soup into the big pot simmering on the stove, the one already holding four other cans of soup. "I am officially brighter than Wes, Fred, and Cordy. Apparently combined." He turned the heat up a bit higher. "Whole table, right in front of the grocery store. Get your flu shot with no waiting. And I'm the only one smart enough to do it." He reached into the cupboard and got out a stack of bowls, arranging them on the room-service cart he'd found in the basement. "And look at how I'm rewarded for it. Charles Gunn, room-service guy to the afflicted."

Angel didn't have to worry about the flu, of course, but he'd bundled up Connor and fled the Hyperion the minute Wes started sniffling. All about the baby with Angel these days. No concern for Gunn, stuck delivering soup and emptying barf buckets when there was a James Bond marathon on TV. So much for loyalty.

And Lorne! Also immune to human diseases! And he takes off for the Sheraton as soon as Cordy comes downstairs for the morning with no makeup and bedhead. "If that girl's too sick to put on her mascara, sweetcheeks, I'm outta here," he whispered to Gunn as he headed for the door. "Call me when the CDC lifts quarantine on this place, because I'll tell you what, Fred didn't come down for waffles this morning, which means she must be sick too. Three bedridden babies. Good luck with that."

Thanks, bro.

His cell phone buzzed impatiently. He snapped it open one-handed, stirring the soup with the other. "Yeah?"

"Gunnnnn," Cordy whined in his ear. "You said you were getting me soup."

"Workin' on it, Cordy." He started carefully ladling it into the bowls. "You want some juice too?"

"Juice?" She didn't sound enthusiastic about that. He could've figured. "The housekeeper always gave me flat Coke when I was little."

"Flat Coke?" He gave the phone a sidelong, puzzled glance.

"Yeah. You pour a glass of Coke and stir it till you kill all the bubbles."

"That's just syrup. That's gross."

"Yeah, but it settles your tummy. Could you make me some, Gunn, please?" She coughed pathetically into the phone. He rolled his eyes.

"Yeah. Okay."
****
He wheeled the cart into the elevator, frowning down at it. Three bowls of soup. One glass of flat Coke. A steaming mug of Theraflu for Wesley- and how could anybody drink that stuff, it smelled like someone'd boiled old socks with a twist of lemon- and orange juice for Fred, alongside a tub of Vick's VapoRub. And for Gunn himself, a turkey sandwich and a Mountain Dew. He figured he'd sit with either Fred or Wesley while they were eating, whichever one felt like some Bond-age. Heh. Pun.

"Ohhh, thank you, Charles," Cordy sighed when he wheeled the cart up to her bed. "You're the best nurse."

"I ain't no nurse," he said firmly, setting the soup and Coke on her bedside table. "Sit up, now, I'll fix your pillows."

"Well, I'm not going to call you Doctor unless you brought me some wonder drugs to slap this out of my system," she pouted. He grinned and reached into his pocket.

"No wonder drugs, but I brought Tylenol."

She snatched the packet out of his hand. "Good enough."

"How can you drink that stuff?" he asked Wesley as the other man lifted his steaming mug of nasty like it was the Holy Grail.

"Acquired taste," Wes murmured, swallowing. "And it bloody works."

"Yeah, works to make you pass out and hallucinate," Charles muttered, handing him a napkin. "So we ain't watching Bond, I take it?"

"The hallucinations are the best part. You forget how miserable you feel." Wes took another sip and smiled slightly. "Come back in half an hour and maybe I'll be doing a Sean Connery impression, who knows?"

"You're a lifesaver," Fred sighed happily as he held out the jar of Vick's. "My chest is all blocked up."

"Want me to put it on for you?" he asked, grinning and deliberately avoiding the obvious comments. She rolled her eyes.

"Oh, if you insist." She unbuttoned her pajamas a few inches. "You know, when my parents were first married, Daddy got sick and asked Mama to bring him the Vick's and a spoon." She giggled a little as his hand slipped under the flannel. "Cold fingers! Anyway, she gave it to him and he took a big scoop of the stuff and ate it."

Gunn paused and blinked at her. "He did what?"

She grinned up at him. "Ate it! And Mama couldn't believe it. Says right on the jar not to eat it, she told him. And he said that was what his mama always did whenever he got sick- gave him a big spoonful of Vick's to chew on." She settled back against the pillows a little. "She said Grandma must've been trying to poison him."

"Didn't work, obviously," he chuckled, setting the jar aside and wiping his fingers off on his jeans. "Here's your soup."

"Don't you go trying it, anyway," she mumbled around a mouthful of noodles. "That might've just been luck."

"Yes, ma'am." He picked up his sandwich and eyed the bed next to her speculatively. "But just let me point out, I ain't sick."

"That's true." She took a sip of juice and arched an eyebrow at him. "So maybe you should leave, before I infect you."

"I've had my shots." He glanced over at her TV. "Feel like watching some Bond?"

She shrugged. "I'll probably fall asleep halfway through. But...I'd like it if you stayed." She smiled at him, the shy sweet smile he loved. "It's kinda nice to know you'll be there if I need you."

He sat down next to her and reached for the remote. "Then I'll be right here."

She scooted over and rested her head on his shoulder. He smiled and flicked through the channels.

Maybe being room-service guy wasn't so bad.

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