Count: ~1050 words
Summary: In which Charlie has the flu, Casey has a crisis, and there is more than one kind of care package.
Spoilers: General spoilers only.
Notes: Thanks to barely_bean for the beta. Written for the Sickness Challenge and for slodwick's Prove Your Love Challenge. The prompt is at the end of the story.
by Celli Lane
The pile of blankets on the couch didn't strike Dan as particularly unusual when he let himself in Casey's door; Charlie was probably nesting up while he watched football with Casey. But then he saw the bucket on the floor next to the couch, and the lifetime's supply of 7-Up on the coffee table, and he mentally winced. This could not be good.
"Hey, Charlie," he said, leaning over the arm of the couch. "Not feeling so great, huh?"
"No," Charlie said in a thin voice. "I have the flu, Dan."
Dan reached down and put a hand on Charlie's head. It was pretty warm, and even his hair looked wan and miserable. "Well, that sucks."
"Tell me about it," Charlie said in a tone Dan had heard from Casey a million times. He fought back a grin.
"Where's your dad?"
"I'm in the kitchen!" came a shout.
"He's making me soup or something."
"Hm. I think he might need supervising." Dan pointed at him. "You hold down the fort out here, I'll make sure he's not setting anything on fire."
"It was one time, and who left the cardboard on the bottom of the pizza anyway?"
Casey was swearing under his breath at something in the pantry.
"I'm fine, everything's fine!" He popped out into view, slightly dusty and holding an armful of spices. "I couldn't remember if you were supposed to have parsley or thyme."
"Aren't you supposed to have a can of Campbell's for chicken soup?"
"Dan," Casey said, scandalized.
"Casey," Dan said in exactly the same tone.
They stared at each other for a minute. Then Casey sighed. "Right. You want to open a can of soup while I go sit with my kid?"
"I'd be delighted." Dan nudged Casey out the kitchen door. "Save a 7-Up for me!"
Dan was letting Casey nap on the couch the next afternoon ("Casey, if you pass Charlie's plague on to the whole office, Dana will have you strung up from the light grid, sleep") when the office phone rang. It wasn't waking Casey up, so Dan ignored it. But as soon as it cut off to voice mail, it rang again. And again.
Dan sighed and picked it up. "Dan Rydell."
"Lisa? What's wrong?"
"Is Casey there?"
Ten minutes later, they were calling Casey a cab downstairs, and a white-faced Dana was making arrangements for a sub.
It was half-past one in the morning, and Casey was sleeping again, this time curled up awkwardly on a chair in the family waiting room. Dan closed the door behind him as quietly as he could, but Casey's eyes still popped open.
"Sorry," Dan said.
"Um. Better. They've been pumping fluid into him like crazy. He's been asleep for a couple of hours now."
"Is Lisa with him?"
"Yeah. Only one at a time." Casey laughed, his voice rough. "She keeps telling me to go home."
Dan raised an eyebrow.
"Does she even know you're in here?"
They looked away from each other for a minute.
Casey cleared his throat. "So, uh, how was the show?"
"Hey, I brought you a care package. Want to see?" Dan reached for the bag next to the door.
"It was fine."
"It was fine, it was fine! We got Matt to come in for you."
"Matt Baker? Malaprop Matt?"
"Do you want to see what I brought you or not?"
Casey groaned and flopped his head back on the chair.
"Seriously, Casey, don't worry about it."
"If I say I won't, will you show me what you brought even though I'm lying?"
Dan made a show of considering it. "Yeah, that'll do."
"All right. Show me."
Dan dug into the duffel bag and tossed the first item at Casey. "Sweater."
"You always need a sweater in the hospital. Either you're cold, or someone you're with is cold. Or, in a pinch, you can use it as a pillow when you're sleeping in that contortionist's dream of a chair."
"Next--let's see--" Dan waved a box of granola bars at Casey. "For when the Jell-O you steal off Charlie's tray just isn't enough. Um, some card games for when Charlie wakes up bored, which I'm pretty sure is how it always worked when I was sick as a kid, and a book."
"For me or for Charlie?"
"The one in here is for Charlie. I have it on good authority that it's the next big kids' blockbuster. So, if Charlie is anything like another McCall I know, he'll hate it on sight. We'll see." Dan pulled a paperback out of his jacket pocket. "This one was supposed to be for me, but if you've eaten a mint recently, you can read it over my shoulder."
The sound of the phone ringing pulled Dan out of the doze he'd dropped into--again--and he fumbled for the phone. "Casey?"
"Yeah," Casey said, sounding surprised.
"You're late for rundown, that's what's wrong."
Dan blinked. There was a steady stream of uppercase Ms across the computer screen in front of him. "But Charlie's okay?"
"Doing great. The UNO cards are a big hit."
"You're late for rundown, Dan."
"How'd you know?"
"You're still in the office. Also, I know how little sleep you got last night."
"I figured one good turn deserved a wakeup call."
"Well, he doesn't like the book." Casey's tone was smug.
Dan grinned. "Told you so."
"Go, before Natalie comes looking for you. Go."
"Right. Call you after rundown?"
"Yeah. And Dan? Thanks."
Dan hung up and rubbed his eyes, then pushed himself up and away from his chair and headed for the door.
Natalie was waiting for him. Dan threw his hands up. "I was absolutely on my way, don't--"
"Relax, Dan. This is for you." She handed him a mug of coffee.
"What is this?" He sniffed it cautiously. "Besides the most heavenly thing I've ever smelled in my life?"
She handed him a folded note and walked away. "By the way, you're late for rundown!"
"On my way," he called back. He unfolded the note as he took the first glorious, glorious sip of coffee.
I mean it.
Prompt 98: I promise to meet you at the emergency room with a book and a sweater.