He wasn’t really sure, “I don’t think so, I’m hoping she’ll be a little better soon.”

                “Call me later let me know how this friend is, ok?”

He hated her knowing chuckle as he hung up. He had some paracetamol, part of his usual hangover cure, and filled a large glass with cold water.

                “Hey Kate,” he shook her gently but she barely roused, so he placed the glass to her lips. As soon as the cold water touched them she instinctively drank. After a few mouthfuls she opened her eyes slowly.

To Kate it felt like her head was caving in. Her whole body ached and she was freezing cold, her last thought was having the shower, she was supposed to be just stopping for dinner. Looking up into Mason’s concerned eyes she felt panicked. “What’s happening?” The words were like sandpaper against her throat.

                “I think you’ve got flu,” he stroked the hair from her sweaty brow. “You need to take these pills and finish this water. Then I’m putting you to bed. I’ll sleep on the sofa.”

                “But...” She started to protest, but he silenced her by raising a hand.

                “You’re not really fit enough to get home, and then there’s no one to look after you. So you’re staying here. Not a subject for debate.”

She had Steve and Mike at home but also knew they may well be out, even if they were in they weren’t renowned for their caring attributes. Neither was likely to make her a drink let alone anything else. SO for the second time that evening she succumbed, taking the tablets, the water, and then allowing Mason to carry her to his bed.

Kate didn’t remember much about the night, but she woke tangled in the damp bed sheets feeling a million times better. She looked across the room to the clock and gasped when she saw it was ten on the morning. She had a full diary for today. Lifting her head she tried to sit, but the effort was far too much for her weary body and she slumped back against the pillows panicking all over again. 

                “Mason?” her voice was a hoarse rasp but she really couldn’t muster anything else. She could hear movement elsewhere in the apartment, so he hadn’t deserted her. She looked around the room, a modern very neutral room but could see nothing that she could throw, drop or bang to alert his attention.

As she was trying rather feebly to reach for the bedside table, the door opened and Mason’s concerned face peered in. Seeing her struggling he rushed over to the bed.

                “You ok?”

                “I should be in work!” there was panic in her voice, but he smiled.

                “I spoke to your boss at half seven explained you were really not very well. He thought you’d been pushing yourself a bit hard the last few weeks. He wants you to take a few days off, he’ll present to the Light Harmony people...is that right?”

She nodded then slumped back with a groan, “thanks, I may not seem the most grateful person in the World. I just wanted to apologise for being ill like this. I’m so sorry.”

Kate was trying desperately to sit up, but Mason could see she was exhausted; he rushed over and restrained her with a hand to the shoulder, “don’t get up. Look I brought you here, and to be honest I’m glad I did, you were almost delirious in the night, I was worried about you...if you’d been on your own, well I dread to think!”

She shuddered for several reasons, that he’d seen her in such a mess, that she was there at all, and of course the fear of what she may have said in her sleep, after all she seemed to carry several demons around with her. Mason had spotted that look of panic and smiled, “you’re fine. But I do suggest I take you into the other room, fresh bedding on the sofa, then I’ll strip this bed.”

                “You don’t have to ‘take’ me anywhere, and I really do need to go home!”

She swung her legs out of the bed, but the exertion made her breathless, as she tried to stand the room went fuzzy and she almost collapsed back on the bed. But Mason caught her, “you’re only going to wherever I take you, so relax and stop fussing. Ok?”

She felt like crying, but what could she do, she’d never felt so ill, and Mason did speak some truth, if she’d been at home alone she’d have been terrified. So she allowed him to lift her and carry her into the lounge. Laying her onto the blanket that he’d laid over the leather sofa, he pulled a thin quilt over her. Kate groaned so embarrassed at her position, but completely unable to do anything about it.

Mason made short work of remaking the bed with clean linen, and was following the intricate recipe his mother had read out to him over the phone for her special chicken soup when a voice cut through the silence.

                “That smells good.” Her voice was still rough, her throat sore, but she didn’t feel like the whole of her body was in a tight vice. 

He grinned across the open plan from room, “it’s my mother’s recipe, she recommended it, and I have no idea how it tastes...yet. You look better.”

She nodded, “Not quite so bad. And I can sit up on my own!” As if to demonstrate, she swung herself into sitting, took a few deep breaths to steady her swirling head, then smiled, “see?”

 Shrugging, he poured her a glass of water and came towards her with it and a couple more pills, “sorry but I’m quite enjoying it, and you’d better get used to me carrying you around, you’re going to be stuck here for another day or two at least.”

 He watched her flushed face turn paler by the second as she floundered, tried to climb to her feet. Reaching for her shoulders he pushed her back down to the sofa, “You’re not going anywhere Kate. So just relax.”

 Kate had never felt this enclosed, restricted and claustrophobic, as she tried to think of how to get out of this, in the end she glared up at him, “I CAN’T stay here, you don’t understand! I have responsibilities!”

 He nodded, “yeah, Peter. I know! His mother’s going to visit until you’re feeling better!”

 As she took in the words it felt as though her heart had stopped beating and the room got darker and darker, but as she fainted, collapsed, or whatever you wanted to call it, her last thought wasn’t ‘how the hell does he know’, it was relief, that she didn’t have to hide it anymore.

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