Henry set his backpack down as he came inside, turning the lights on. He could hear Todd and Derek upstairs, so he figured that now was as good a time as any to test their situational awareness.
He’d been gone for two days, and it was nice to be home with his family. Henry crept up the stairs, listening to Todd and Derek. “It’s your turn,” Todd was insisting.
“No way, I did it the last two times, Todd.”
“But I have stuff to do, Derek!”
“So do I! Rock paper scissors.”
Henry got to the top of the steps just as they Derek was covering Todd. “Hi.”
They both jumped and reached for weapons that they weren’t wearing, which was good. “Oh, hi, Dad,” Derek muttered, wiping his hand on his pants. “We didn’t hear you come in.”
“Yeah, we’re going to work on how much attention you pay to your environment. What’s going on?”
“Sam’s sick,” Todd said. “Someone needs to bring him lunch.”
“Oh, I’ll do it,” Henry said. No wonder Sam hadn’t answered his text to say he was coming home. “Just a cold?”
“And a fever,” Derek said. “You have to be careful. He keeps catching us in the death grip.”
Derek and Todd looked at each other. “You’ve never seen Sam’s sick death grip?” Todd asked.
Sam always managed to get sick when Henry was away. “I’ve seen him do actual death grips. He wants to hug?”
“No, he wants to squeeze the life out of you!” Derek said. “It’s terrible.”
Henry rolled his eyes and took the food they had on a tray. “I’ll be fine,” he said, going the bedroom.
“We warned him,” said Todd.
Henry went into the darkened room, put Sam’s lunch down on the bedside table. “Hey,” he said, sitting beside Sam on the bed and touching his forehead. “You okay?”
“Henry?” Sam asked, finding his hand. And then his arm.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Mmh,” Sam said. And then he got Henry into the bed. And it really was a death grip, holy crap.
The kids had been right.
Sam had just been trying to bring Henry a cold cloth for his forehead when it had happened. He’d been trapped in bed with him all day, Henry just refusing to let him go. No amount of SOS texts to the kids had helped.
He felt a little bad, because he knew he was the reason Henry had gotten sick, but at the same time, Henry had chosen to cuddle with him when he’d been in bed, so whose fault was it really?
Fortunately, Henry’s fever had broken and he’d finally woken up, so Sam was finally free. “What the hell was that?” Sam muttered, rubbing circulation back into his everything. “I thought you were doing to kill me.”
“Learned behaviour,” Henry said, downing the glass of water Sam had brought for him. “Sorry.”
“Learned from who?” Sam wanted to know. Henry had been sick before, but he’d never been like that.
Henry snorted, leaned in and kissed Sam’s shoulder. “Let’s go ask the kids. They can explain better than I can.”
Sam could tell from Henry’s tone of voice that this was going to be one of those explanations that led to everyone making fun of him.
And really, he thought later, as that was happening, that wasn’t very fair when he’d just spent eight hours having all his bones crushed.