This is Issue #1 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial.
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Kieron jerked awake with only a little start, his eyes snapped wide and looking around. He took a ragged breath and planted his feet on the floor, settling his hands onto his desk, sitting up straight. To his right, someone cleared their throat — he glanced over and Jet was there, concerned, looking him over without leaving his seat. Kieron tried to smile, to reassure Jet, but the afteraffect of the slip crashed into him, and he paled out, making a strangled noise in his throat, his eyes blurring.
“Mr. Brody?” the teacher snapped. “Are you with us once more?”
Kieron couldn’t answer; he staggered out of his chair and headed for the door with jerky steps — the class shifted awkwardly, some people tittering.
“Mr. Brody, you are not excused–Mr. Harrington, where are you–”
“I think he’s actually sick, Mr. Felton,” Jet said. “I’ll get him to the infirmary.”
“See that you do, Mr. Harrington. Pages fifty-seven through two-hundred four, by Monday.”
“Yes, sir.” Jet grabbed up the bookbags and ran out into the hall, but there was no sign of Kieron. He checked the bathrooms, the empty lecture halls, and was getting worried by the time he made it back to the dormitories. He figured he’d drop off the bags and go back out looking, but when he let himself into the shared room, he heard Kieron in the bathroom, retching.
“Thankfuck,” Jet whispered, locking the door behind him and going into the bathroom, to kneel beside Jet, who was currently pale and shaking, sweat making his still-buttoned shirt stick to his skin. “You shouldn’t rest your cheek on the rim,” Jet said. “S’disgusting.”
When Kieron rolled to the side, his stomach clenching, and vomited bile and what looked like blood, and something else unknowable, Jet murmured, “Point taken,” and stood up to soak a washrag in cool water. He wiped Kieron’s face with the cloth, and rubbed his back. He crouched there, silent for awhile, until the spasms subsided.
Finally, Jet helped Kieron stand, and the two of them stood in front of the sink, bathed in fluorescent light, staring at the mirror, meeting one another’s eyes in their reflections. “Brush your teeth,” Jet said. “I’ve got some food stashed.”
Kieron nodded, and began to peel himself out of his uniform, still shivering.
When he came out of the bathroom, in just his boxers, Jet had turned on the space heater and the kettle, and had made a small plate of peanut butter crackers, saying, “You only have to eat three.”
“Just tea,” Kieron rasped, as he sat down on the floor next to his roommate, his throat raw from vomiting.
“Three. They’re small,” Jet insisted.
Kieron looked up at Jet, and rather than argue, he shrugged, and picked up one of the crackers and popped it in his mouth and chewed slowly, thoughtfully.
After a long bout of silence, save for the sound of peanutbutter and crackers being consumed, Jet finally spoke. “What was it, this time?”
Kieron bowed his head, closing his eyes, and said, “Carriage, I think. Perhaps a bus.”
“Who?” Short questions, quiet, in an attempt to connect and be quiet. Kieron just looked so damned tired.
“Someone named Fallon,” Kieron answered, setting down the teacup.
Jet watched Kieron’s shaking hands as they reached for a blanket. Rather than get up onto his bed, Kieron simply pulled the linens down and dragged them around his body. “I got your books,” Jet said quietly, getting up to put things away, but before he could rise, Kieron’s hand curled around his wrist. Neither of them said anything for a moment, and instead, Jet pushed the kettle and cup and plate out of the way, and pulled down the rest of the blankets, and the pillows from both beds. He curled up with Kieron on the floor, pulling him into his arms, pressing his chest to Kieron’s back. “Was it bad?” Jet whispered.
“It’s better, now,” Kieron mumbled, exhausted.
Jet let him fall asleep.
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