by Hombre

Notes: Thanks to TJ for her beta work, any remaining mistakes are mine.

Chris sat at his desk rubbing his eyes. He hadn't felt particularly well since lunchtime but his ailment, whatever it was, was now really beginning to make itself known. The blond opened his lids to look across the room but his vision was so blurred that he couldn't distinguish much. He blinked rapidly several times trying to focus on the file in front of him. It was no good though, the words were no clearer.

"Damn it!"

Standing slowly, Chris made his way to the water dispenser. He poured a cup of the cold liquid and then wandered unsteadily back to his office, bumping into the door as he did so and cursing angrily.

The medic had watched Chris's movements and wondered if the man was all right. To Nathan's keen eyes his boss didn't look normal and he seemed to be moving with care, not with his usual confidence. Well ... there's only one way to find out - ask him. Siding with his thoughts, Jackson stood and wandered to Larabee's office.

Chris was standing sideways to the window, rubbing his eyes. The area around the right one was beginning to hurt, and the massage didn't seem to be helping at all. He hated any kind of pain.

"Chris? You okay?" Nathan called from the doorway as he studied his friend.

The black-clad agent looked up and nodded slowly. "Yeah, fine. Just tired I reckon."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I didn't sleep too well last night so maybe it's catching up with me."

Accepting the explanation, Nathan nodded and went back to his own desk. He vowed to keep a close eye on his boss though. He was sure there was more to it than just fatigue.

Chris, meanwhile, found that his vision had cleared sufficiently so that he could work again. It hadn't got any worse at the moment and he hoped it would disappear altogether. Satisfied for the moment, he went back to his desk and began looking through the file. It took only a half an hour, though, before he stopped again, as bright spots and zig-zag lines appeared on the page in front of him.

"Jesus, go away," he muttered as he closed his eyes, touching his right temple as a sharp twinge erupted there, too.

The ache began to spread until the whole side of his head was throbbing. Kneading at it wearily, Chris sat with his head in his hands waiting for it to pass. If anything, though, it intensified. After only a few minutes, the blond began to feel nauseous and stood up carefully to make his way to the restroom.

Nathan looked up as Chris walked out of his office. He thought the blond looked even paler so he stood as well to follow the man along the hallway to check on him.

Chris entered the restroom and headed straight to the sink, bending over and splashing his face with cold water. He then held the sides of the sink tightly and stood with his eyes closed as water dripped from his nose. The feeling of nausea was increasing and Nathan walked into the room just as his friend threw up.

The medic walked up quickly to the black-clad man and placed a hand in the middle of his back. "Chris? What's wrong?" he asked rubbing the area between Chris's shoulder blades gently.

"Real bad headache," Chris managed to say before puking again.

Nathan nodded and studied the man closely. He could see that his friend's neck was twisted slightly. He frowned and asked, "Is it only hurting on one side?"

"Yeah," the blond mumbled, automatically reaching up for the affected temple.

"Did you have trouble with your vision first?"

"Yeah," Chris groaned as he rubbed his eyes. "It was blurred and then all I could see was spots and kinda zig-zag lines."

Nathan sighed as he matched the symptoms to an illness. "Reckon you've got a migraine, Chris."

"What?" Chris queried before throwing up once more. "I've never had one before," he mumbled, wiping his mouth on a paper towel from the dispenser.

Nathan considered the options. "Maybe it was triggered by something you ate," he suggested. "Food can sometimes cause an attack. Can you remember what you've had today?"

Chris stood up and turned his back to the sink, feeling slightly better for having emptied his stomach. "Um...cheese salad for lunch. Really strong cheese. Don't usually eat that but there wasn't much choice in the canteen."

"That's probably it then. Cheese is a well-known trigger. I've got some painkillers that I can give you. Why don't you have some of those and lie down in your office for a while?"

Chris nodded and groaned as the movement caused his head to hurt even more. "Okay, thanks, Nate."

The medic escorted the blond back to his office and settled him on the couch. He found the painkillers and made Chris take two. He then went round pulling the blinds and turned out the light so that the room was plunged into darkness.

"Try and get some sleep, Chris. I'll come and check on you later," Nathan promised. The medic closed the door and went back to his desk, catching Buck's eye on the way.

"Nate? Is Chris okay?" the ladies' man asked worriedly. He'd watched what had been going on with interest and he knew something was wrong.

"No, he's got a real bad migraine."

Buck sighed and shook his head. "Thought he looked a bit pale earlier. Did you switch the phone through to here?" he asked as an afterthought.

Nathan growled and pursed his lips. "Damn it, no, I forgot. I'll do it now." The medic stood up and went into the blond's office quietly, doing what was necessary. Chris inevitably looked up and shifted on the couch after hearing the movement nearby.

"Sorry, Chris. Didn't mean bother you. Just diverting your calls through to us."

Chris nodded and sighed. "Thanks, that's the last thing I need right now, a shrill ringing phone."

"I can imagine," the medic said sympathetically finishing what he was doing and leaving the room.

When he heard the door close, Chris settled back on the couch and waited impatiently for the pills to kick in. The more he thought about his head hurting, the worse the pain became though. He just couldn't seem to relax at all. Eventually he put his hand on his brow massaging his lids every so often but otherwise trying to lay as still as he could. Finally, he felt sleep tugging at him and he gave into it gratefully.

Nathan had left his patient alone for a couple of hours but in due course he heard movement in the office. He rose and strode into the room, letting the light from outside illuminate the interior. "You getting on okay, Chris?" he asked in concern.

"It ain't any better. I managed a bit of sleep but the pain woke me up again. I think I want to head home," Chris said as he sat on the couch with his head in his hands.

Nathan nodded when he saw how much the man was suffering. "Okay, I'll drive you."

"Thanks. I'm not quite feeling up to the journey on my own," Chris said as he stood and swayed, hand clamped to the right side of his head.

Nathan collected his friend's briefcase and coat and helped him dress. He then went and collected his own effects and met up with Chris in the doorway to his office.

"Hope you feel better soon, Chris," JD said when he saw the strained looking blond. He saw the man squint against the bright light of the outer office and knew he must be really feeling bad.

"So do I, kid. I hate being sick." Chris rubbed his head once more before sighing in frustration. He felt truly lousy. It was almost incapacitating him and he'd never experienced anything like it before.

The rest of the team gave their best wishes and watched as Nathan escorted the blond slowly out into the hallway. The two men made their way down to the parking garage and Nathan opened the front passenger door of his Explorer and helped Chris climb in. "How ya feeling now?"

"Not so good. The pain's real bad and I feel kinda sick again," the blond admitted, sincerely hoping he wouldn't be sick on the way home. There was nothing worse than being unwell while travelling.

"Not surprised, you look real pale," Nathan said. "Let's get you home to bed."

Closing his patient in the medic hurried round to climb in the driver's seat. He shut his door and saw Chris flinch at the vibration and noise. "Sorry," Nathan winced.

"It's all right. Everything hurts my head, even walking."

Nathan started the motor and set off toward the ranch. He looked over after a few minutes and saw that Chris had at least managed to go to sleep. The blond's head was leaning against the window, and even though he was dozing, lines of pain were etched on his features.

Nathan was truly glad when he managed to get all the way to the ranch before Chris woke up. He'd expected an interrupted journey.

"We here?" the blond asked as he rubbed his eyes and yawned.

"Yeah, just arrived."

Nathan stopped the truck outside the door and went round to help Chris get out. The blond gripped his arm tightly as he eased himself down to the ground. The medic then took him inside slowly and made straight for the bedroom.

"You okay to get into bed on your own?"

"I'll surely try," Chris said, not really feeling up to doing anything at all. He sat on the bed and watched his friend leave the room, hoping he wasn't leaving altogether.

A minute later, the medic returned with a glass of water and some new pills, only to find Chris still sitting exactly where he'd left him.

"Come on, I'll help you get changed," he said kindly.

Nathan delved under the comforter first and found Chris's nightclothes. He then stood in front of his friend and peeled the layers of clothes off his top half first. He replaced them with the t-shirt and pulled it down to his waist.

"Can you stand?"

Chris rose unsteadily to his feet and just let Nathan do whatever he wanted. The medic first undid Chris's belt buckle and then the button and zipper of his pants before easing him out of the clothing. The blond nearly lost his balance when he had to step out of the legs but Nathan managed to keep him upright. The medic then gently removed Chris's underpants and socks. He threaded the blond's legs into the spare boxers and then stood up as he pulled the material upwards. He fastened the pants round Chris's slim waist and smiled at his friend.

"All set then. In ya get." He leaned over and pulled back the comforter, ready for the blond to get into bed. The medic watched as Chris turned round and eased himself down onto the mattress, slowly laying himself out. Nathan then pulled up the comforter and made sure the blond's body was fully covered by it.

"Now take a couple more pills and get some rest. These are a bit stronger so they should help better than the first ones I gave you."

Chris sat up a bit and took the medication and then lay down with a sigh. He didn't think he'd ever feel well again. The pain was non-stop. "Thanks, Nate. Sure hate to be a burden to you," he mumbled wearily.

"It's no trouble. I'll stay with you until you're feeling better. Hopefully, come morning, you'll be right as rain again."

The blond nodded, hoping that Nathan was right. He'd never felt so weak and in pain before. His head felt like it was in a vice. He closed his eyes and turned onto his left side, sighing deeply as he tried to relax again.

Nathan eased out of the room and headed down to the living room. He made himself something to eat and then, half an hour later, went back up to check on the blond. He opened the door quietly and saw that the bed was empty. He sighed and made his way over to the bathroom. He knocked on the door and then waited for an answer. Finally, he asked, "Can I come in, Chris?"

"Yeah," came the weak reply.

The medic pushed open the door and saw Chris leaning over the sink, hanging on for dear life. "Been sick?"

"Yeah, I feel like hell," Chris said as he threw up again.

Nathan strode forward and rubbed the blond's back. He filled a glass with water and handed it to his friend. "Wash your mouth round with that. It'll hopefully take the taste away."

Chris took the glass but his hand shook uncontrollably. He managed to get the glass to his mouth, but not before spilling some of its contents.

"Any better?"

"Not really, I just feel so weak and shaky. Never felt anything like it."

"Getting some sleep is the best medicine you can have. Are you okay to head back to bed?" Nathan asked as he took the glass from Chris's hand and then rubbed his back in comfort.

"Yes," Chris said, not letting go of the sink.

Nathan slipped his strong limb around Chris's back and under his armpits, lending the man his support. "Hold onto me, Chris."

The blond complied and he staggered back to the bed while maintaining a tight grip on his friend. Nathan helped him down onto the mattress and pulled the cover back up over the man. "Give me a yell if you still ain't improving. I'll be downstairs, but I'll keep an ear out for you."

"Thanks, Nate, I'll just try to get some sleep I reckon." Chris pulled the comforter up round his ears and snuggled down on the bed.

Nathan left the room once more and went downstairs to watch TV for a while. He poked his head round Chris's again door half an hour later, but he could see Chris was curled up under the comforter sound asleep. The medic smiled and went back downstairs after checking to see if the spare bedroom was made up. It was, so at least he could get some rest in comfort, too.

+ + + + + + +

The next morning, Nathan went along the hallway and opened Chris's bedroom door. He saw that his friend was awake. "Hey, Chris. How ya doin'?"

Chris nodded and smiled. "Much better, thanks. I feel almost human, although a bit drained of energy."

"You okay to get up?"

"Yeah, I reckon I can even face some breakfast," Chris said as he sat up and ran his fingers through his hair.

"All right, I'll meet you in the kitchen then."

The blond ambled downstairs fifteen minutes later and joined the medic at the table. Nathan had prepared a meal for him and he looked at it hungrily. "Thanks, Nate. This looks great."

"You're welcome."

"Remind me never to eat cheese again, will ya? I don't think I ever want to go through that again," Chris said meaningfully. "Thanks for taking care of me, I really appreciate it. I know I wasn't in much of a state to take care of myself."

"That's okay. That's what friends are for," Nathan said with a smile.

The End