Character/s: Gwaine, Leon, Leon's mother
Summary: Leon's case of the chickenpox offers Gwaine some surprising insights.
Warnings: Illness, mentions of chickenpox and its symptoms
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: #206: Time Out
Author's Notes: n/a
Gwaine snuck around the house, convinced that he was hidden by the bushes and the long shadows cast by the afternoon sun.
He reached Leon’s window and knocked once, twice, and then a third time to no answer. He knew Leon was home; Leon’s mother would’ve said he was out if he wasn’t, not that he couldn’t come out. Gwaine pressed his hands against the glass, trying to peer in through the curtains. To his surprise, the window moved, opening for him like it wasn’t latched or locked, allowing Gwaine to climb inside.
He closed the window better than he'd found it and walked over to the lump of blankets he assumed was Leon.
“Your mum said you couldn’t come out to play but she didn't say why.” The blankets stirred but didn't reply. Gwaine smiled as he neared the bed, taking a guess as to the cause of Leon's silence. "Are you in time out?"
“No,” Leon answered, his voice mumbled and annoyed. “I’m in quarantine.”
Gwaine frowned instantly. “What’s that?”
“It’s like being in time out but because I’m sick.”
Gwaine's frown hardened. “That’s not fair!”
“It’s to protect Celeste." Leon sounded like he was repeating something someone told him. “She’s too little to protect herself so I have to stay here until I’m better.”
Gwaine continued to frown at Leon’s back. He knew babies were small, and Leon’s new sister was the smallest he’d ever seen, but it still wasn't fair that Leon couldn’t come out or leave his room just because he was sick. Everyone got sick! Even babies! How bad could it be?
“What’s wrong with you?” Gwaine asked, leaning over to nudge Leon in the shoulder.
He knew the answer as soon as he saw Leon’s face.
"I have chickenpox," Leon said, sounding just as miserable as he looked. He turned over and pushed himself up to sit against the head of his bed. He looked momentarily relieved to see Gwaine but then the flicker of happiness fell away. "You should go. My mother says it's very contagious."
"Only if you never had it," Gwaine said, plopping down on Leon's bed. "I already did. Mum says I'm immune now and it'll never happen again. Which is great because it sucked."
“It really sucks,” Leon agreed. Gwaine immediately felt bad for his friend; he'd never seen Leon so upset. "My head hurts and my face is hot but my body's cold and everything itches."
Leon groaned as his hands came out from under the blankets and he started scratching at himself through his clothes. Gwaine reacted quickly, jumping forward to grab Leon's hands and pull them away from his body.
"You can't scratch."
"But it itches."
Gwaine smiled at Leon's whining, biting back the expression when Leon noticed and frowned. It wasn't often that Leon whined when Gwaine told him what to do. Leon would think it was funny too when he was feeling better.
"Mum said if you scratch, you'll get scars, and not the cool kind."
Leon sighed. "Scars aren't cool."
"Tell that to Mordred," Gwaine said, rolling his eyes.
"He had his appendix taken out."
"Yeah, and he won't stop talking about it."
Leon smiled for the first time that afternoon. "Are you jealous of Mordred?"
Gwaine reared back. "No! Why would I be jealous of Mordred?"
"Because he's cool," Leon said simply.
Gwaine shook his head. "No, he's not."
"But you said scars are cool," Leon pointed out, "and Mordred has a scar so Mordred must be cool."
"You're sicker than I thought, Leon, because that makes absolutely no sense-"
A knock on Leon's bedroom door threw Gwaine out of Leon's bed mid-sentence.
He dropped to the floor, looking for a place to hide. Gwaine had snuck into Leon's room before but until now he'd never been caught. Leon's parents were very different from his mum, more formal, less forgiving, and Gwaine didn't want to know what they'd do if they found him. He dove under Leon's desk, pulling the chair as far into the space with him as possible.
"Leon?" Leon's mother opened the door and went to his bedside. "How are you feeling, love?"
"My head still hurts and everything itches."
Gwaine held his breath as Leon's mother adjusted Leon's blankets.
"I'm afraid it's going to be like that for a few days. I'll get you some paracetamol. Try not to scratch."
Leon's mother moved across Gwaine's limited field of view, looking like she was retracing her steps to the door. He closed his eyes, almost ready to breath a sigh of relief when the chair was pulled out, exposing him to Leon's mother's gaze..
"Hello Gwaine," she said in an uncomfortably neutral tone.
Gwaine knew it was better to answer than not. "Hi."
"Come out from under there, please."
Gwaine crawled out from under the desk to stand before Leon's mother. When he dared to look at her, he was surprised to see a soft smile warming her face.
"Since you're already here, shall I call your mother and ask if you can spend the night?"
Gwaine's eyes widened at the offer. "Can I?"
"As long as you've had the chickenpox."
"I did," Gwaine said quickly. "It was awful."
"Then I'm sure Leon would enjoy the company."
Gwaine stood frozen in place as Leon's mother pressed a kiss to Leon's hair and promised to return with paracetamol for Leon and dinner for both of them. She slipped out as quietly as she'd come in, leaving Gwaine staring at the door, waiting for what he wasn't sure.
"I told you."
Leon's voice called Gwaine's attention away from the door.
"Told me what?"
Leon smiled despite the spots on his face. "I told you she liked you."
Gwaine rolled his eyes, not wanting to read too much into the unexpected kindness. He rejoined Leon on his bed, pretending to fuss over Leon's fever with great concern.
"Like I said, you're way sicker than I thought. Nothing you're saying makes sense."