“Babe? …Baaaabbe? …BABE!”
“Zain, oh my gods, what now??” Seb asked, storming in from his studio with paint on his chin.
Zain sniffled. He tried to make it sound extra-pathetic. Then he nodded at the remote lying on the coffee table, three feet away. “Can you give me that, please?”
Seb blinked at him in disbelief.
“I’d do it myself,” explained Zain, “except I’m dying, so.”
“You are not dying,” his fiancé snapped as he stalked to the table and picked up the remote. “You have a cold, you big baby. Here.”
Pushing one hand out of the blanket he’d burrito’d himself in, Zain took it, replying, “You’ll regret saying that.” He broke off to sneeze, and Seb flinched away as he thickly added, “When I’m dead.”
“I already regret every moment that led to this one,” Seb told him. While he spoke, he poured water from a pitcher on the end table into a glass, and then opened a blister pack of gel caplets. “Take these, you’re due for your next dose.”
“See, you love me, really.”
“No, I’m hoping they’ll knock you out so I can work in peace.”
Zain pulled the blanket up to his nose and aimed a look of high reproach over it. “S’not nice, treating a man on his deathbed this way. Death… couch.”
Sighing, Seb sat down on the edge of the cushion by his feet. “Please take them? Before I make this your deathbed by killing you?”
The Top narrowed his eyes in consideration. “I suppose I should, then. I don’t want you to spend life in jail.”
“For what?” Seb muttered as he put his arm around Zain’s shoulders and helped him sit up enough to drink. “It’d be justifiable homicide.”
Hearing that and choosing to ignore it, Zain said, “I’m gonna watch Aladdin again. You can go paint. I’ll leave you alone until it’s over.”
“Thank you.” He put the empty glass down and stood to go back to his studio. When he got a yard away, Zain’s voice stopped him once more.
“On one condition.”
Turning slowly, Seb asked, “What?”
“You’ll make me soup later.”
Relief passed over Seb’s face. Rolling his eyes, he said, “Of course I’ll make you soup later, you idiot. Don’t I always?”
Zain raised a brow. “And you won’t poison it?”
The corners of Seb’s lips twitched. “Huh. There’s an idea.”
“I’m going to write a message to be released, somehow, in the event of my death, that’ll tell the police you should be the first suspect,” said Zain.
“Thought you didn’t want me to spend life in jail?”
“Oh, no, I’ll say I deserved it,” Zain said quickly. “I just want the truth to be out there.”
Seb had to bite his lower lip. “I won’t poison it. I wouldn’t mess with my mom’s recipe like that.”
Zain nodded, satisfied. “Right, I should’ve known.”
“And anyway, who am I,” Seb asked, “to deny a dying man’s last wish?” Spinning again, he disappeared into the studio.
The DVD player whirred as Zain hit the button to start the movie over. He snuggled down into the couch and waited for the familiar Disney logo to appear. And sneezed.