Babysitting

All Time Low, Merrikat one shot.

Jack has come down with a bad case of bronchitis and who else will care for him other than his roommate? A certain Zack Merrick.

This is sickfic fanfiction, it is where one or more of the main characters has a not fatal illness and is often cared for by another.

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1. The Roommate.

It all started on the day Jack got back late from class. Zack had been back in their dorm some time when he heard the sound of the door open and a pair of feet shuffle in.

“You’re late,” Zack called.

All he got in the reply was the sound of coughing.

“Jack?”

Jack came into the small living room and collapsed on the couch beside Zack, still wearing his coat and scarf ensemble.

“I hate College,” Jack grumbled.

“Bad day?”

“The worst, first I was late to History and you know how Professor Richards gets when you’re late by like 5 bloody seconds, so he bitched at me. Then I forgot my money for lunch and I fucked up my assignment for music so the Professor made me stay behind and write the whole thing...”

Jack was cut off by going into a coughing fit again, the sound kind of dry and gasping.

“And to top it off I’ve been coughing all day.”

“Are you ill?” Zack asked, raising an eyebrow at the smaller boy.

“Nah, it’s probably just stress from dealing with all of this.”

Zack didn’t argue and instead got out a takeout bag from beside him and handed it to Jack.

“I got us Chinese but it’s probably a bit cold now,” he said.

“S’okay, it’s better cold.”

“If you say so.”

Zack watched as Jack shoved noodles in his mouth and badly suppressed a shiver. It wasn’t cold in the dorm, in fact it was quite often too hot and they had to have the windows open in the middle of winter. Not to mention Jack was still wearing his coat. Zack didn’t say anything though, him and Jack were roommates but not a huge much more than that. Jack was loud, hyper and always rushing off to party with his friends, why Zack was more the quiet type. He liked his own company and though he quite often enjoyed Jack’s music and silly dancing he could find him rather annoying rather a lot of the time.

Zack left Jack to his cold dinner and returned to his room to finish up his coursework, he’d gone to the gym after finishing his classes so hadn’t had to do it. He sat down at his desk with his open books in front of him and started taking notes, the only noise the muffled sound of the tv through the walls. He’d been working some time when a sound brought him back to reality and away from 20th century literature. Looking at the time he saw it after midnight, how long had he been working? Rubbing his tired eyes Zack got up and left his room, in search of the noise.

He found Jack still sitting on the couch, staring bleary eyed at the tv as he coughed harshly and loudly into his elbow.

“Jack...”

Having finished his fit Jack looked up at Zack, his eyes tired and dark hair a mess.

“Why don’t you go to bed?” Zack asked.

“Fell asleep, didn’t see the time,” Jack mumbled.

“Come on then.”

Zack held out a hand and helped Jack to his feet, the younger boy stumbled after Zack as they reached his bedroom. Zack noticed Jack shivering again as he sleepily put his pyjamas and sighed. Jack could do many things but looking after himself wasn’t really one of them. Zack often found himself making sure the boy had eaten or slept because he just seemed to forget to do it on his own. Zack got a large hoodie from his own room and threw it at Jack.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, pulling on the large hoodie which swamped his small body.

“Go to sleep an’ try not to be late tomorrow,” Zack said.

“Night,” Jack mumbled sleepily.

Zack closed his door and went back to his own room, the clock beside his bed now showing after 1am. Deciding there was no point continuing with work he changed into his own pyjamas and flopped on his bed.

 

When Zack woke up it was light in his room, which meant one thing. He’d overslept. Turning over he saw his clock read 8.15. That meant he only had 15 minutes to get ready before he had to run to class. Groaning he rolled over and out of bed. Taking the quickest shower of his life and throwing on some clothes Zack dashed out of the dorm without breakfast and his bag banging against his back. He was so busy he didn’t notice the fact Jack’s door was open and the boy was gone.

Zack returned that evening starving and in a slightly better mood than he’d been in that morning. He’d just made it to class, he’d gotten an A on a piece he’d written for RE and he’d even had time to go skating. But having missed breakfast his stomach was protesting about the lack of food so went about making himself some dinner, and a bit extra in case Jack hadn’t eaten when he came in. It was a habit he’d gotten into, making some for Jack because in their early days Jack would come in and hadn’t eaten all day. Zack was glad now that a few months later that the boy’s ribs didn’t stick out quite as much.

Zack didn’t see Jack come in as much as he heard him, his coughing preceded him as he walked through the door.

“You okay?” Zack asked as Jack came and collapsed on the couch beside him.

Jack just groaned in reply, Zack noticed he was still wearing his hoodie from the night before and couldn’t help smiling.

“How was your day?” Zack asked.

“Worse,” Jack mumbled before launching into another coughing fit. Zack tried to ignore it but it sounded painful, each cough shaking Jack’s small frame.

“You don’t sound good.”

“No shit,” Jack answered, rubbing his throat.

“Is your throat sore too?” Zack asked.

Jack nodded.

“And my head.”

“I’ll see if we’ve got any pain killers,” Zack said just as Jack started coughing again, he winced because it honestly sounded like it hurt.

Zack found a few pills in their bathroom cupboard, he brought them back to Jack with a glass of water.

“Thanks,” he croaked, his voice going due to all the coughing. He took the pills, wincing as they passed down his aching throat.

“Do you need anything?”

“Just sleep,” Jack mumbled, pulling his legs up onto the couch and closing his eyes.

“Go to bed then.”

“Don’t wanna.”

“Jack, you’ll sleep better in an actual bed.”

“Effort,” he mumbled.

Zack was about to say something when Jack was forced to sit up again by another harsh coughing fit. Zack sighed and rubbed the younger’s back until he was able to breathe again.

“Bed now?”

Jack nodded and stood up only to nearly fall down again luckily Zack had been there to catch him. Sighing again Zack slipped his arms under Jack and lifted the boy up, he barely weighed anything as Zack carried him through to his room. Zack was warm and comfortable, Jack closed his eyes and could already feeling himself drifting off but before he could he was being placed in his cold bed.

“Get changed, I’m going to see if we’ve got any cough medicine.”

Jack mumbled something like a reply and began slowly undoing his jeans. When Zack returned he was lying on his back in only his boxers and Zack’s hoodie.

“I only found this weird blue stuff, it says you can have it for coughs so I guess it’ll have to do,” Zack said, handing Jack a small cup of the blue gloop.

Jack swallowed it like a shot, which of course sent him into a coughing fit again. Zack sat out beside him and helped to sit up, he’d never heard anyone cough so much.

“Okay now?” Zack asked once Jack could breathe again.

“Yeah.”

Jack lay back down and pulled his duvet around him so only his messy hair was visible.

“Well hmm... Get some sleep,” Zack mumbled before going back to his room to work.


 

Zack tried to put Jack out of his mind and continue to do his coursework but it was hard to think with the sounds of soft coughs echoing through the walls. Finally giving up Zack got up to check on him. Jack was fast asleep wrapped in his duvet and snoring, there was also a slight wheeze to his breathing that Zack did not like the sound of...

 

The loud sound of bleeping brought Zack out of his dreams and back to reality. Turning over he slammed off his alarm and stared at the ceiling. Groaning Zack got up and headed for the kitchen, at least he was up early enough not to have to rush and have time for breakfast. After eating and putting on a shirt (as Zack rarely slept in one) he was ready to go but he stopped as he passed Jack’s door. He’d been in a bit of state the night before, maybe he should check on him before going?

Zack knocked once on the door before opening it. Jack was curled up under his duvet, looking incredibly pale. Zack walked over to him and lightly shook his shoulder, just to make sure he was actually alive. Jack stirred, his eyes opening only to start coughing. Zack quickly helped him sit up as he coughed, rubbing his back as Jack tried not to hack up his lungs. Zack couldn’t help notice his hair was stuck to his forehead and the heat radiating through the hoodie Jack was still wearing.

“You okay?” Zack asked once it was over.

“Don’t feel good,” Jack said, lying back down.

The wheezing Zack had heard the night before was now evident in Jack’s breathing, like he was struggling to get enough air.

“Should I call someone or...”

Zack wasn’t really sure what to do, he’d never seen anyone so sick before.

“My mum, she’s a nurse,” Jack mumbled.

Zack nodded and took Jack’s phone from the nightstand, finding the number for Jack’s mum he pressed call.

“Hello? Jack is that you?”

Zack had never heard Jack’s mum before and was surprised by her slight ascent.

“Hmm I’m Zack, I’m Jack’s roommate,” he said.

“Oh... Is something wrong?” she asked.

“He’s ill, like prober hacking up his lungs and running a fever kind of way. He said I should call you as you’re a nurse.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“Sure.”

Zack passed over the phone and let Jack talk to his mum, stopping every now and then to cough again. His voice was going by the end of a 5 minute conversation.

“She wants to talk to you,” he croaked.

“Mrs Barakat?” Zack asked.

“Joyce please. It seems to me Jack probably has bronchitis, something he can be prone to. He’ll be fine but he does actually need to rest and to drink plenty. Ring me if he gets worse.”

“Hmm okay.”

“Take good care of him Zack.”

“Err I will.”

With that Joyce Barakat hung up and Zack was left staring at a very sick Jack and wondering what the fuck he was supposed to do next.

“I guess I should take your temperature or something...” Zack said.

“I think there’s a thermometer in the bathroom,” Jack whispered, his voice already shot to hell.

Zack nodded and went to fetch it. When he returned Jack had just about managed to sit up and Zack could see just how ill he looked. His dark hair messy and plastered to his forehead with sweat, he was as pale as a ghost with only his rosy cheek as a sign of colour. Dark rings under his eyes that were glassy from fever and his cough... Zack was pretty sure he’d heard zombies healthier.

“Okay, open up.”

Zack sat on the edge of the bed and placed the thermometer in Jack’s mouth and waited for the thing to bleep. Zack had never taken care of anyone before, sure he had younger siblings but generally he tried to steer clear of sick people. But Jack was just so... Helpless. Plus if Jack’s mum was right and he had bronchitis he was going to need someone to help him.

“101.3, yeah that’s pretty high. I checked and we don’t have anything go to bring it down with. I should go out...”

“’M okay,” Jack mumbled.

“Jack, I think you’re pretty far from okay. I can go out and get you medicine, it’s alright.”

“Sure? I don’t want to be a burden...” Jack said, his voice barely there and his eyes fighting to stay open. Zack couldn’t lie, he looked pretty pathetic.

“It’s okay, who else is going to stop you from dying?” Zack chucked which earned a small smile from Jack.

“Okay I’m going to get you meds, anything else you need for now?”

“Tissues and maybe some orange juice.”

“Yeah, your mum said to drink lots. Okay if that’s everything I’ll be back soon.”

Jack nodded and closed his eyes.

“Get some sleep, sleep is good for sick people right?”

Jack didn’t reply as he’d already drifted off. Zack smiled and left him to sleep.

 

On his way to the shops Zack called both his and Jack’s professors to tell them they wouldn’t be coming in. After buying to Zack what felt like the entire medicine ale he made his way back to Jack, hoping he hadn’t died in the meantime.

“Jack?” he called, stepping into their tiny hallway, shopping bags in hand.

“In here,” came a weak voice from the living room.

Zack entered to find Jack curled up on the couch with a movie running on the tv.

“Aren’t you supposed to be resting?” Zack asked, putting the shopping bags on the coffee table.

“Got bored.”

“You’re ill Jack...”

“So wh....” he didn’t get to finish as he was coughing again. He coughed harsh and wetly into his hands, each one rattling his chest.

“Do you want some medicine now?”

Jack nodded and let Zack give him doses of various things, whatever he thought would help.

“I think your fever's gone up...” Zack sighed, his hand on Jack’s forehead his skin feeling burning to the touch.

Jack groaned and coughed again.

“Here take this, should help.”

Jack swallowed the small pill he was handed before collapsing back against the couch. His chest was killing him, his throat was raw, his nose wouldn’t stop running and everything just hurt. Having bronchitis really fucking sucked.

“Are you hungry?” Zack asked.

Jack shook his head, not trusting his voice to work if he opened his mouth.

“Okay, well when you are I brought some soup.”

Zack went to the kitchen to put the rest of the shopping away, coming back with a glass of orange juice for the invalid.

“Drink up.”

Jack nodded in thanks and took a few sips, the liquid stinging his throat. Jack curled up on the couch, tucking his longs legs underneath him and bringing the blanket up to his chin. He looked utterly miserable and Zack didn’t know how to cheer him up. He didn’t get sick much himself matter about that sick, mostly he just slept and it didn’t seem Jack could sleep if he wanted to. Not with that cough.

“Hmm, is there anything I can do?” Zack asked.

Jack looked up, seeming to forget Zack was even there.

“No, I’m okay,” he sniffed, before blowing his nose.

Zack figured he was a long way from okay, even if he wasn’t admitting it.

“Shall I put another movie on?” he asked, the previous movie seemed to have ended without either noticing.

“Aladdin.”

“Aladdin? Really?”

Zack had never taken Jack for the Disney movie type, more the cheesy comedy kind of guy.

“I always used to watch it when I was sick as a kid,” Jack clarified.

“Nice.”

Zack put the movie in and noticed Jack had moved up so there was enough room on the couch for him. He smiled and sat down, pressing play on the movie and hearing the familiar Disney music. Zack saw Jack shiver despite his collection of blankets.

“Come here.”

Zack held his arm out and let Jack shuffle up against him. Zack tried not to worry about the heat pouring off the younger and instead up his arm around Jack’s shoulders.

“Better?”

Jack nodded and continued to watch the movie, his eyes finally drifting close again as he fell asleep in Zack’s arms. Zack stayed watching the movie, Disney wasn’t really his favourite but he didn’t mind and Jack was right it did remind him of his childhood.

Jack had been asleep nearly an hour when Zack’s phone rang disturbing them both.

“Hello?”

“Zack, my man! I just heard about this awesome party going down at Johnny’s tonight. Are you in?”

It’s was his friend Dan inviting him to some party, normally Zack would be up for a drink with his friends but looking at Jack still lying on his chest he wasn’t sure he could leave him. It seemed mean to go out and have fun to leave Jack alone when he was obviously so miserable.

“Not today, I’ve got some... Babysitting to do.”

“We’ll have a drink for you!”

“Cheers Dan.”

After a few more minutes of pointless chat from Dan about some hot girl he was hoping to score with Zack finally hung up.

“Babysitting huh?” Jack asked, his voice sounding plain sickly.

“Well someone’s got to keep you from dying, I hate to think what you’re mum what do to me if I let you die.”

Jack choked a laugh, raising his body from his half lying down position to cough into his hands.

“Do you need some more medicine? Or something else?”

“I am kinda hungry,” Jack said.

“I did buy chicken soup, would you like some?”

“Yes please.”

“Okay.”

Zack got up and went over to their little kitchen, there wasn’t a wall between them and Zack could still see Jack curled up on the couch. He’d just put the soup on the stove when he heard a whine from behind him.

“What’s wrong?” Zack asked.

“I’m cold now you’re gone,” Jack moaned.

Zack laughed and continued to heat the soup. Jack just tugged the blankets tighter around himself and waited for the boy’s return. When the toast popped Zack placed the pieces beside the two bowels before filling them with the hot soup and carrying them over to where Jack was sitting. The end of Aladdin was still playing on the tv and Zack found himself absorbed in the world of the Genie as Jack sipped his soup beside him.

“This is good,” Jack said.

“I mean I only heated it up but I’ll take the credit.”

Jack smiled and continued eating, the liquid soothing his raw throat and the steam helping his blocked up nose.

“Thanks Zack, for you know staying with me.”

“Don’t worry about it, I know I’m just your roommate but I felt bad about leaving you here alone.”

“You’re not just my roommate, you’re my friend and pillow,” Jack said, shuffling closer to Zack and putting his head on the older boy’s chest.

“Before you go to sleep I should take your temp again,” Zack said, carefully shoving Jack off his chest to stand up.

Jack whined as Zack left him on the cold couch.

“Open.” Zack said, kneeling in front of Jack.

Jack pouted and shook his head.

“Oh you’re pouting now? Is this because I left you? You big baby,” Zack teased, waving the device in front of Jack’s face.

Jack broke into a smile and Zack slipped the thermometer under his tongue.

“101, still kinda high but at least you’re no longer boiling your brains”

After another shot of medicine Jack was rubbing his eyes and yawning.

“Do you want to go to bed?”

“No, here,” Jack lazily patted the couch beside him.

Zack chuckled and once again took his place beside Jack.

Jack fell asleep again, there was still a wheeze to his breathing and he would cough in his sleep from time to time. Zack had his arm wrapped around his back as he continued to watch the television. Jack would recover from his bronchitis in a few weeks but he was sure their friendship would never quite be the same again.

 

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