The Light Fantastic

by LA Tucker

Part XV:   Three's Twisted Company

For disclaimers see Part I

Nelson woke up on Sunday morning with oddest itchy feeling in his ears. He stuck a pinkie finger in his ear, burrowed around a bit and tried to alleviate the feeling that way.  It wasn't working, with either ear, the itchiness continued and he decided to get up, hit the can, and try a couple of cotton swabs. God, this is irritating.  He threw on a pair of sweats and a T-shirt, and went into the bathroom. He opened up the medicine cabinet, found the swabs, and dug around in his ears. It helped a little, but not a lot. He yawned, scratched and looked at himself in the mirror. I could use a couple more hours of sleep, I still feel really tired. Dad or Aunt Sara will be around, they can get me up later. He went back into his bedroom, shut the door, and in moments, he fell back to sleep.

Out on the couch, Sara began to wake up. Something's different. I've been on this couch dozens of times overnight, but this morning, it feels smaller. And I'm practically falling off the edge. The couch used to be so much ... wider. And not this ... warm.  "Snrrkk".   She smiled. And not nearly this noisy. She felt the small form of Chloe spooned perfectly behind her, with her nose buried between Sara's shoulder blades. "Sssnrrrk." Funny, I don't remember that snore from the last time we slept on this couch. Sara carefully lifted the arm that was wrapped around her waist, and turned by inches until she was laying on her back.  She eased an arm under Chloe's head, and Chloe stirred, made a couple of awkward movements towards Sara, until she found a comfortable niche on Sara's shoulder and snnrked her contentment and rewrapped herself around her, this time finding a conveniently placed breast to clutch. She definitely is a breast woman.  She seems to gravitate towards them, not that I mind. Sara's mind turned to the other night when Chloe's hands had been quite lustily occupied with them, and she felt a lovely bit of arousal as she remembered that, and looked down at the small hand that was covering its prize now. She's going to make me crazy if she keeps doing that. Of course, she makes me crazy just walking across a room, or shuffling cards like a three year old. Chloe made another small 'snrrping' sound, and Sara looked at the redhead on her chest. Look at that wasps' nest of hair, what a mess. Definite bed head.  Chloe's redblonde hair was shaggier looking than usual, like she had been picked up by a small tornado and then deposited on Sara's shoulder. She reached with her free hand, and brushed some of the hair out of Chloe's eyes. She's so warm, so very warm. Sara frowned. Too warm. Sara put her hand on Chloe's forehead, then on her neck behind her jaw line. Hot. Damn.

"Chloe? Honey, wake up." Sara shook her a little bit, and then put her lips to her forehead in a lingering kiss, half affection, half checking for temperature.  Really hot. "Chloe, wake up, I think something's ... not right." No one should be woken up with the words 'I think something's wrong' unless a barn is burning down or something. Chloe stirred a little, and her hand did that lovely reflexive squeezing action to Sara's breast. I like the way this woman wakes up. If she wakes up this slowly every day, and does the same thing each time, I could really look forward to mornings. "Chloe, sweetheart, you need to wake up."  Chloe's eyes slowly opened, and Sara could see a flicker of awareness come to her. She smiled a little, looked at Sara. "Good morning, Chloe. Did you sleep well?"  Chloe's eyes closed again, the smile remained, and just when Sara thought that Chloe had dropped off again, there was another, more deliberate squeeze to Sara's breast, and her index finger lightly traced a circle around the center of it. Oh yeah, she's awake, all right. Eyes still closed, Chloe's hand traveled spider-like down to the bottom of Sara's T-shirt, and slowly began to tug it upwards. Sara watched its progress without moving. She glanced out of the corner of her eye, and saw that Chloe now had her eyes open, and was looking at each inch of flesh that was being exposed. Just as her hand, easing up the material so deliberately , so tortuously, was about to unveil an area of vital importance to them both, her hand stopped, lifted and Chloe put it over her own face instead.

"KATCHOO!"  Chloe's hand remained in front of her nose, and she tilted it out just a bit to take a peek. "Ewww."

Sara's free arm quickly reached behind her to the end table to find the tissue box that was sitting there. She plucked a few out and handed them to Chloe.

"God bless you." she smiled, and watched as Chloe sheepishly wiped her nose, and then her hand. "Need a couple more?"

Chloe nodded her assent, and gratefully accepted more tissues, and then cleared her throat. "Whoa, I think I lost a couple hundred brain cells on that one." Her voice sounded a little high, and deep at the same time. She lifted away from Sara's shoulder, and blew a mighty honk into another tissue.

Now that Chloe was a little farther away, Sara could take a good look at her, and didn't like what she saw. "Uh huh.  I thought you felt a little too warm, and your eyes are all red and watery. And your voice sounds a lot like Debra Winger's did at the end of  'Terms of Endearment' ... you know, her dying scenes."  She watched as Chloe felt her own forehead, and then the glands at the front of her neck, and then saw the telltale frown of discovery.  "Not feeling your best, are you?"

Chloe tried to sit the rest of the way up, but was a little tangled up in Sara's limbs. Sara disengaged, sat up, and helped Chloe to do the same.  She handed Chloe the tissue box and watched her as she did a little stretching and shaking out of her limbs.

Chloe, looking as bad as she felt, croaked, "Do I look as bad as I feel?"  She saw the look of sympathy on Sara's face. "I must look really terrible, because ... whoa, that's how I'm feeling."  She took a few more tissues out and blew her nose again. She watched as Sara stood up from the couch. "And here I was, feeling all ... frisky and all, what with waking up with such a beautiful, wicked woman whose butt I kicked at cards last night."  Chloe smiled up at her, and then winced at the pain that sentence brought to her throat. "Damn it all to hell, anyways", she rasped miserably.

Sara laid a cool palm on her cheek. "Yeah, just my luck. I finally get you where I want you, and then you get all terminal on me."  She saw that her little joke didn't appear to make Chloe feel better. "Listen, you just lay yourself back down on the couch. I'm going to get you a cup of tea or something ... "

"I think I have to make a pit stop first. Thanks, tea sounds good."   It feels like somebody sandpapered my throat last night.

She tottered off to the bathroom, while Sara went into the kitchen to rustle up something for her little patient. I'm so lousy at this. I hate it when I'm sick, and I know I'm supposed to be helpful and caring when someone else is sick. But all I know to do is make tea and ... I dunno ... pet her or something?

"Hey.", a gravely voice said from the kitchen doorway. Nelson was standing there, looking pale and red-eyed himself.  "Is that Chloe in the bathroom?"

"Oh, not you, too. Let me guess, you're sick, right? So is Chloe."  Sara said, a little impatiently. When she saw the defeated expression on Nelson's face, she regretted her tone of voice. "Aw, Nels, I'm sorry.  Listen, I'll make you a cup of tea ... I don't know what else ..." Fluids, that's right, fluids.  She walked over, and felt his forehead, it was hot. "Yup, we've got to get some fluids into you. And toast or something. Feed a something, starve a something. Sorry, I can never remember which is which."

"Not hungry. Just got up to get something to drink and go to the bathroom. I want to go back to bed."  He leaned up against the archway, looking like he would be satisfied to sleep right there.

"Bathroom's free."  Chloe appeared in the kitchen doorway, and looked up and recognized a kindred soul. "Two sick puppies are we, huh, Nelson?"

Nelson rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes. "Guess they should just put us down. Euthanasia sounds good right about now.  Maybe Aunt Sara would ...."

Sara sighed. "Give me a few hours to get to that point first.  Normally, sick people make me want to kill myself, not the other way around."

Chloe's eyes seemed to look even more watery at that comment. "I need to get home and into my own bed.  I don't want to be any trouble."

Sara immediately went to her and took her into her arms. "Aw, Chloe, I'm sorry. I just am not very good at dealing with... illness.  You stay here, we'll put you on the couch for a while. "  Jeez, can I be more of a jerk?  "C'mon, what're you going to do at your house all alone?  Let me take care of you, huh?" She felt Chloe relax a little in her arms, and Chloe wiped her nose a little on Sara's sleeve.

"Sorry, it'll wash out."  Chloe said, feeling like a whiny little kid. "I just hate being alone when I'm sick, I guess I'm just high maintenance ..."

Sara pulled away a little, and grinned down at the weepy wet eyes of the adorable librarian. "I love high maintenance women, I thought I told you that?" She watched as Chloe pulled another tissue out of her shorts pocket and gave a huge blow. "I wish I could take you home and take care of you there, maybe when Dave gets back, so he can look after Nelson."

Nelson was dumbly staring into space. When he heard his name, he looked at the two women hugging and got a little tired grin. "Bathroom for me. Bed. Yeah, fluids." He was just turning to walk off when he stopped, and said to Sara, pleadingly, "Do you think you could call Charlie Shemp and tell him I, well, we won't be over today?"

Sara nodded over Chloe's head. "Yeah, I'll call. You go get back to bed. I'll bring in some tea to you in your bedroom.  I'm ... " She looked down at Chloe, still dressed in yesterday's clothes,  " ... gonna get your Aunt Chloe here some different, warmer clothes to throw on." She smiled at Nelson, and went in search of the promised clothes.

Nelson and Chloe's bloodshot eyes slowly met, and they both mouthed to each other in silent unison, "Aunt Chloe??"


Dave looked at the peacefully sleeping form of Marcy, buried underneath the covers. Finally, maybe now she can get some rest. He quietly got out of the bed, and in his boxers and T-shirt, walked out to the kitchen and dialed home.


"Hey, Sara. How's it going?"  He didn't wait for her to answer. "Marcy's down for the count. She was sicker than a dog this morning. I'm going to stay here  and ..."

Sara moaned and interrupted him. "Sounds like we need to open up an infirmary.  Both Chloe and Nelson have fevers, and sore throats, you know, the works. Nelson went back to bed, and Chloe's asleep on the couch.  I was hoping that you would be able to ..."   Stupid me with no driver's license.

"Sounds like I'll have to buy two of everything.  I was heading for the store for supplies anyway, I'll go there first, and then come there. I don't want to leave Marcy alone for too long.  Let's see, food, chicken soup, kleenex, cough syrup, cold pills, juice, ginger ale, cough drops ... anything else?"

"Chocolate. Chocolate always helps." It'll keep me sane.

"Well, she just got to sleep, so I'm out of here.  See you soon, and Sara?"  Dave knew his sister's little inadequacies all too well. "I know that you're not exactly the Flo Nightingale type. Buck up, babe."

"Let's see, we have, for your enjoyment, a wide variety of soup products of the chicken persuasion."  Sara was standing in the kitchen archway, looking at the multitude of products that Dave had picked up, then dropped off with barely a greeting, in his haste to get back to an ill Marcy. He had promised to call later.  Sara had unloaded the bags, and happily, had found some chocolate, so that was going to make her stint as primary caregiver a little easier on her psyche.

She called out to the fevered, but awake form of Chloe on the couch, now dressed in T-shirt and sweats. "We've got ... chicken and stars, chicken noodle, chunky chicken noodle, chicken with kluski noodles ... chicken and rice, chicken vegetable, cream of chicken ...ew, that always seems to gag me,  I think of ... chicken in a blender?" She noted the smile that brought to her sick friend. "Well, does any of that sound appealing to you?"  She watched as Chloe wiped a hand across her brow, and wiped her nose again with the now ever present tissue that she had clutched in her hand.

Chloe cleared her throat a little, and said huskily. "I don't know, how about something ... with chicken?  Surprise me."  She wiped her eyes with a new tissue, and tossed the old one in a wastebasket that Sara had provided her next to the couch. "You sound like that guy from 'Forrest Gump' ... you know, the shrimp guy ... except with chicken this time." I hate being sick. I have too much to do. I think I'm dying. I should go home. I don't want to be there by myself. I gotta call off work for tomorrow, I think I have strep. "Sara?"  She saw Sara come back into the archway. "I probably should just go home while I still have the strength.  I think I'm going to get worse before I get better." she said, her voice craggy and worn.

Sara gave her what must have been her one hundredth sympathetic look of the afternoon. "Listen, sicky, let me shove some soup down you, and then we can talk about ... your last will and testament. You just lay there and relax, and ... try not to miss the wastebasket anymore."

Chloe looked down to see she had missed it quite a bit, and quickly scooped them off the floor and into the can. "Oops.", she croaked, and saw Sara just smile and shake her head as she headed back into the kitchen. She's being so good. I wish I could talk better, or felt better. I just feel like a lump here, she could be doing things, instead of fussing over me. Although it's been a long time since anyone has fussed over me. It feels ... good.  She closed her eyes, and the next time she opened them,  Sara was depositing a tray on the coffee table with a large mug of soup and crackers.

"I brought you some juice too ... gotta keep your fluids up. That's the extent of my medical knowledge. Fluids. Rest. Chicken soup."  Chloe sat up a little, and grabbed the mug off the tray, and stirred it around to cool it off. Sara lifted Chloe's feet, sat down, and settled her feet back onto her lap. "And maybe a foot rub?"

Chloe blew on her soup, which was still too hot to eat. "Oh, just sell my clothes, I'm going to heaven ..." she sighed, as Sara pushed her thumbs into the arch of her foot and started a luxurious massage.

Sara grinned. "You enjoy. I'm going to talk, you eat.  Here's what I'm thinking."  She smiled as she watched Chloe's eyes close, and head waver back and forth in pleasure to the pressure that Sara was applying to her foot. "I'm thinking you are going to stay here again tonight." She saw Chloe's eyes open at that, and look at her curiously. "You can either stay on the couch, or I can make up Dave's bed for you, and you can sack out there. I would take you over to my place, but I'm pretty sure that he's planning on staying over at Marcy's tonight, and I'd like to stick around here for Nelson. He's been in and out of that bathroom at least 5 times in the last 3 hours. So he must be having some sort of ... intestinal upset ..." Sara's nose crinkled, and then she continued. "Maybe he ate a pizza box ... but anyway ..." she grabbed a toe and gently twisted it, "You're not planning on going to work tomorrow, right?"  Chloe, caught up in the foot massage, the warm soup and the soothing tones of Sara's voice, simply shook her head 'no'. "I didn't think so.  So what do you think, you think you can maybe hang out with me here for a couple of days?"

Chloe busted up a handful of saltines and dropped them into her soup. She opened her mouth to pop her stuffed ears, then said, worriedly, "Well, that sounds nice, but I'm afraid I'll just get you sick. I mean, we can't afford to have the whole team down."

Sara sat up straighter, and switched her attention to Chloe's other foot.  She winked at her, and said, "I never get sick. Well, very rarely, and then it's for 10 minutes or so, and then ... voila ... perfecto again." When she saw Chloe's doubtful gaze, she said, "Really, you can ask my mom. It must be in my genes.  I never missed school ... for sickness, that is ... just, you know, skipping ..."

Chloe finished off her last spoonful and set her cup down. She swished some juice around to clear the food out of her teeth, and blew her nose several times in succession. She made a  deliberate display of hitting the wastebasket this time with the dirty tissues.  She sighed, then sighed again, as Sara waited for her decision. She sniffed a little, and said, hesitatingly, "Well, if you're sure I wouldn't be too much trouble ..." Her answer was rewarded with Sara grinning a delighted smile and renewed vigorous attention to her foot.

"You're trouble, but I like trouble."  Sara chuckled.

Nelson was dreaming the twisted dreams of a fevered, flu battered, mentally conflicted young man. Familiar figures in unfamiliar situations were flitting in his subconscious mind, and his synapses were sputtering like an old lawn mower in tall grass.

In his dream, he was standing, at an altar, in a small church, next to his dad. They were both in suits, and looking down an aisle.  His dad kept nervously smiling at him, and straightening his tie. An organist, unseen, was playing 'Poor Jud is Daid'.  Nelson was so fascinated with the surroundings, he nearly didn't notice his Aunt Sara coming out and standing on the other side of the raised platform.  She was nearly upon them when he saw her, but when he did, his mouth dropped open in confusion.

She was dressed in a blue jeans and cowboy boots, with ornate leather chaps over her long legs. A six gun and holster were at her waist, and as Nelson's eyes traveled upwards, he saw she was wearing light blue silk cowboy shirt replete with white fringe, her long dark hair was loose, and as he met her smiling eyes, he saw that they were shadowed by the brim of the white stetson she was wearing low over her forehead. She winked at him, and took a place at the other side of the altar.  Her gaze broke from him, and she turned, with the rest of the assembled folk at the altar, to look towards the back of the church once again.

Doris Raeburn, dressed in what looked like a graduation gown, appeared from the side of the church, and came and stood, waiting, between Sara and Dave.  She smiled at both Dave and Nelson, and turned her attention to the back of the church. The pews of the church, Nelson noted, were filled with faces, some he recognized, most he didn't.  As he tried to ascertain who some of the pew dwellers were, all the heads in the pews turned and looked towards the back of the church. There at the end of the long aisle was Jeanette, in her cheerleader outfit, and she began a slow, cadenced walk up the aisle towards them, to the organist's somewhat jazzy rendering of 'Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'.  She smiled a nervous smile at Nelson, who returned the smile, but his eyes were drawn to her bouquet as she neared them.  It seemed to be made of an assortment of kleenex, pompom tassels, and odd white flowers that seemed to resemble the shape and size of ... golf balls. She stopped and stood just to the left of Sara, who tapped her hat brim in greeting.

Officious organ chords struck , and then a rather sexily swaggering version of "I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No" began intoning through the building.  The church was packed with people Nelson couldn't quite recognize, and they all stood up as the bride began her solo waltz up the aisle.  It seemed to Nelson, that waltzing was exactly what the bride, Chloe Donahue, was doing.  She had on a white gown, lacy, with veil, and instead of a bouquet, there was some sort of book in her hands.  As she sashayed slowly up the aisle,  the words to the song came into Nelson's head, and he found himself singing them aloud, and then, he saw his grinning Aunt Sara join in, and their voices lifted into a strong, clear duet as a beaming Chloe made her way up the aisle towards them.

 'I'm jist a girl who cain't say no,
 I'm in a turrible fix
 I always say "come on, let's go"
 Jist when I orta say - nix!

 When a person tries to kiss a girl,
 I know she orta give their face a smack.
 But as soon as someone kisses me,
 I somehow, sorta, wanta kiss 'em back!

I'm jist a fool when lights are low
I cain't be prissy and quaint
I ain't the type that can faint
How c'n I be whut I ain't?'

And just as Chloe was beginning to ascend the three short steps up to the altar, Nelson noticed the large telltale bulge extending from Chloe's satin covered abdomen, and when his mind comprehended her 'condition', he abruptly stopped his singing, leaving his Aunt Sara to finish the song all alone.

'I cain't ... say ... no!'

Chloe did a quick little twirl, and stood between his Dad and Aunt Sara, giving a small, sparkling grin to both of them, as they did they same in return. Nelson stood closer to the right of his dad, and heard the congregation settle into their seats behind them.

Doris Raeburn opened the thin white booklet in her hands, and began speaking, sounding oddly like her voice was coming out over a P.A. system.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join these people in holy matrimony.  As is befitting a solemn and sacred ceremony such as this, we will begin with a reading in unison.  Will everyone please open their scripts to page 37,  Act Two,  Scene One?  And please, no accents.  Not a one of you, I know, was born in the South, so any budding Blanche DuBois' out there, just suppress your south of the Mason-Dixon line tendencies for the duration of these proceedings. And Chloe, quit slouching. May we begin?"

As Doris and the throng behind him began a toneless incantation of some bit of unrecognizable dialogue, Nelson shifted uneasily on his feet, trying to catch the expressions on first his dad, then his Aunt Sara, and finally, Chloe. He noticed the three of them sneaking grins at each other.

The reading stopped, and Doris Raeburn began addressing them anew.

"Since the early time of women and men on this earth, it has been traditional for ... couples ... to make a public declaration  of their love and commitment to each other.  That's why we are gathered here today. But I digress." She cast a stern eye towards Sara. "Funny you coming out in public. 'Coming out'. Well, you've always been a trouble maker, and still seem to be that way. But if Chloe here, wants to put up with that, who am I to say different? I mean, was this really necessary?  Couldn't you have maybe carried on with her in private? ...  this is a small town ... "

Nelson heard both his father and Chloe give a spontaneous 'harrumph' to break into Doris' little diatribe.  Doris blinked, and huffily smoothed out the front of the blue graduation gown she was wearing.  She recovered, and went on.

"We are gathered here today to join this man," and she nodded towards Dave, "and this woman," and she looked at Chloe, "and," she settled her eyes on the resolutely unflinching Sara again, "this woman in matrimony. Before we go any further, is there anyone ... anyone out there who objects to this union?"

Nelson's eyes followed the motion of his Aunt, Dad, Chloe, and Doris' heads as they turned towards the alcove where the organ was.  He noticed a top of a head, just barely visible, with auburn curls on it, raise a little. Marcy.

Mrs. Raeburn's voice then was pitched ominously in that direction, too. "ANYONE?"

Marcy stood up just a little and hesitantly gave a little embarrassed wave. "S'OK by me!" she chirped, and then, as an afterthought, she said, "I broke up with him!" and then sat back down on the organ bench.

Doris cleared her throat and turned her attention back to the couple, or couples, before her. "Alright then. Where was I?"  She fumbled with her white book, and found her place. "We are gathered here,  oh wait, I said that already, let's see ...  nobody objects, although I guess I can't ask me that, now can I?  Nobody objects, so then we go on to ... the vows. " She sniffed her nose, and began with Sara.

"Do you, Sara, take this woman, Chloe, to be your ... can't say 'lawfully wedded', this is Pennsylvania, not Vermont. for god's sakes, although really, is it legal there yet?  Unions maybe, I'm not sure marriages. I'm no lawyer. Do you Sara, take this woman, Chloe, to be your bride?"

Sara saw Doris' mouth had stopped moving, so she went for it. "Yeah." she drawled. She and Chloe exchanged sincere, loving glances.

Doris then looked to Dave. "Do you, David, take this woman, Chloe, as your lawfully wedded ... and I think that I can say that ... lawfully, here, in this instance, because, really, you're marrying Chloe, not your sister, which I am pretty sure isn't legal in any state, anywhere ... not that there aren't a lot of West Virginia jokes in circulation regarding that very subject ... bride?"

Dave appeared to be nearly as astute as his sister; he seemed to be watching for the cessation of Doris' mouth movement. "Yes." he rumbled.

The slightly blushing bride became the center of Doris' attention. "And now, you, Chloe, our little pregnant town librarian. Never again will anyone in this town associate the term 'librarian' with the words 'shy and retiring'.  Hmmm? Still waters do run deep in you, don't they, dear?  You're positively a whirlpool of wild inconsistencies ..." Doris quipped, once again not waiting for an answer to her question.  "Do you take this man ... and his sister ... as your husband and wife, respectively?  Relatively?  I want you to think about this, we all know how ... addle brained you can be.  Stubborn, even. I mean,  what are you thinking?  Do you know what you're getting yourself into here?  Have you talked to a reputable therapist?   Don't slouch, this is your wedding for god's sakes, try to stand up straight.  It's better for the baby,  good posture starts in the womb. Never can start too soon, can we?"

Doris sniffed her nose again, and before Chloe could get an answer out, she said, "And while I think of it, what about Nelson here, Chloe?  My mind reels ... you would be his step-mom, and his semi- Aunt sort of an Uncle at the same time, wouldn't you?  And the baby would be his ... niece ... nephew ... do you know the sex yet? ... stepbrother ...  or sister ... ?  And although I heard from a reliable source that you denied being 'bi',  couldn't you, can't you make up your mind or something?  Couldn't flip a coin? "  Doris finally took notice of the small frown that was forming on Chloe's face, and her voice softened. "Do you ... uh, Chloe ..." Doris fumbled with the page in front of her, for she had completely lost her place. " Uh ... do you, Chloe ... remember the question?"

Chloe sighed. "I'll say." she smiled.

Doris raised her shoulders in a gesture of conciliation and defeat. "All right then.  I pronounce the three of you ... hitched."  She crinkled her brow on her softly lined face. "I guess you can take turns kissing the bride."

"What?"  questioned Chloe, who had just gotten off of the phone, having made arrangements for someone to fill in at the library for her for the next few days. "Is Nelson alright?"

"I just checked on him.  He's still sleeping. But it was the weirdest thing, he was ... singing ...  in his sleep ...  sounded a lot like 'I Cain't Say No'."  Sara rolled her eyes, and flopped down in the recliner.

"Figures, he's rehearsing the wrong parts in his dreams." Chloe was sucking on another honey-lemon throat lozenger. "You should probably wake him up and make him eat something."

"Next time he makes a trip to the bathroom, I'll intercept him and make him take on some fluids and food."  Sara turned in the recliner, and draped her legs over the arm of it, so she had a better view of Chloe on the couch. "Did you talk to Dave, too?"

"Actually, I talked to Marcy. Dave is staying there tonight.  She sounds pretty good, other than her stomach is revolting like crazy.  She says she feels queasy, otherwise, no sign of a cold or anything.  Sounds like the three of us have all different combinations of this thing."  She scrunched her face up. "I'm glad I don't have the stomach gurgles part. This is bad enough." She blew her nose again in demonstration.

"So, you called off for the next couple of days?", asked Sara, a little hopefully.

"Yeah. No problem. The county has a floater librarian for situations like this. So it looks like I can suffer in peace."  You don't know what you're getting yourself into, Sara.

Sara quirked a little grin at her. "I'm sorry, Chloe, I may sound like a sadist here, but I'm just a little glad that you're sick." She saw the doubtful look on Chloe's face. "I get to spend time with you. I'd prefer that you were feeling good, and didn't have a ton of snot in you, but I like ... having you around."  She saw that Chloe's already quite red and watery eyes seemed to get even more so at that statement, and the pleased, shy smile that appeared. "I made up the bed in Dave's room. He won't mind if you ... we  ... sack out in there tonight."  She watched Chloe for her reaction.

Chloe coughed into a tissue. "Are you sure I won't infect you?  You really want to hear me hacking all night?"

Sara looked directly into her red-rimmed eyes. "No, I don't want to hear you hacking all night." She paused. "I want to hold you all night." Even with that red nose, seeping eyes,  and rat's nest hair, you are the sexiest woman on the planet.

Chloe's heart beat double time, and she grinned, then put on a false air of defeat. "Well, if you insist, I mean, if it would make you feel better."  It's gotta be good medicine for me.

"Oh, I see, you're concerned with my well-being.  Well, yes, I'm sure it would make me feel so much better ..."  Sara cocked her head. "It sounds like Nelson is up and around. I'm going to go check on him before he sneaks back to bed."  She got up from her chair, and stood over Chloe, and gently ran her fingers through her bangs. "Why don't you try and get some rest?  I'm going to heat up some more chicken soup,  I'll wake you and force you to eat it in a while.  Gotta get some into that growing boy, too."

Chloe's eyes closed at the soothing feel of Sara's fingertips. " 'K.  I can do that."

Sara bent and replaced her fingertips with a small kisses. "See you in a bit."

Nelson was still feeling a bit woozy, as he made room on his night stand for the tray that had held his first food of the day.  He had dutifully downed the soup that his Aunt had provided, and sucked up a large glass of juice. He was staring moodily at his Cleveland Browns poster over his chest of drawers when Sara stuck her head into his room, and grinned at him.

"Eat it all up, like a good boy?" she said, crossing into the room and pulling out the desk chair to sit down. "Want any more? How're you feeling?"

Nelson knew exactly how what the cat dragged in felt like. "Rotten. No, no more."  He rubbed his eyes and gave her a weak smile. "I can't believe I slept all day."  It was after 7 now, Sunday night, and except for his digestive system waking him and insisting on making hurried journeys to the bathroom, he had slept the day away.

Sara propped her feet up on the edge of his bed smiled sympathetically. "Well, you're a good, non-bothersome patient. You and Chloe, both.  She's out there now, snoozing, chest rattling, nose running, eyes watering. Pretty damned cute for a sick girl."  She watched as Nelson nodded, closed his eyes and sighed, pulling his blankets up tighter around his chin. "Your dad is over at Marcy's; she's been sick all day, too. Mostly potty stops for her. If you all didn't have different variations on this thing, I would be calling up a shyster lawyer and blaming it all on Buddy's Pizza Place."

Nelson was content to keep his eyes closed. He didn't feel like sleeping anymore, besides, some of those dreams he had been experiencing were nagging at the back of his mind. Nagging him so much that he had to find some answers.

"'Aunt Sara, um, have you ever had a 'bi' girlfriend?" Nelson coughed, he couldn't believe that sentence actually made it to his mouth. This is bothering me.

Sara blinked at a question that seemed to have come far, far, far, out of left field. What is this?  She looked at Nelson, his eyes still shut, and decided to give him a straightforward answer to his weirdly timed question. "Nels, I haven't had, what you would call, too many girlfriends of any length of time in my lifetime as yet."  That's going to change, with Chloe. "But, yes, I've dated, here and there, women who have identified themselves as bisexual." She pursed her lips.  "Something in particular you want to know about them, or is it the 'bisexuality' thing that you're curious about?" What the heck?

Nelson sighed. He couldn't tell her what Justin, Heather and Jeanette were saying about Chloe and his dad. He had to find another way to understand this, and when he opened his eyes to sneak a peek at his aunt, he saw that she was looking at him, waiting for his answer, a patient blank mask on her face.

He decided to deflect attention away from what he was really trying to ask, and center it on himself instead. "Well,  I've been thinking, you know, I've got a girlfriend now, and ..."  Nelson shut his eyes again, so he could hide from his aunt's all too inquisitive stare. Where do I go from here? OK, I'll lie. "But one of the guys at school, in the play, he's been ..." Nelson took a deep breath and opened his eyes again , and his hand came out from under the covers, and began tracing the pattern on his comforter.  He glanced at his still patiently waiting aunt, and looked away again. "Well, you just hear things, people say things, you know,  and it gets you to thinking ..."  He closed his eyes again, pissed that he had even brought the subject up.

Sara could see that something was troubling Nelson, but he couldn't , as usual, get to the point. I'll try and ease into this, give him the broad picture. "Well, I don't know what exactly you're getting at, Nels, but ..."  Sara stretched out farther into the desk chair, and touched her feet to Nelson's, under the blanket. "I've always heard, or known, or read ... that there's a line of thought that sexuality is a very fluid thing.  Not something that necessarily has to be a sure thing, screwed down tight."  She waggled her feet to have a connection with Nelson. "I've always, pretty much ... no, not pretty much ... been a lesbian.  I've never slept with any men. I've never had the desire to do that." She stopped a moment, considering. "When I was younger, I didn't like or accept people who identified themselves as bisexual.  It was against my politics ... you know,  I've felt that someone should stick to the 'party line'. Be a Democrat or Republican, but don't confuse me with your Independent party."  She laughed, and continued. "But I've gotten older, and a lot wiser, and realize that there are a lot of nice Independents out there, who really don't deserve to have me judging them. I don't think  it's a matter of them not being able to, you know, make up their minds. In my mind, now, it's more of a matter of them having the, I don't know, ability to see the best of both worlds, and to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds."

She stopped there, waiting to see if what she said would garner any response from Nelson.

Nelson fidgeted under the covers, and brought his knees up under them. He looked at Sara,  carefully  controlling any signs his face may be giving away. "So,  you don't think its a bad thing then?"

Sara was still confused, but answered him truthfully. "No, I don't think it's a bad thing."  She studied his face, finding only sincere thoughtfulness in his eyes. "Why would you ask that?"

Nelson shifted yet again under the covers, and pushed the comforter off him. "Well, it's not like I've thought about it much, but ... how could you ever trust anyone who was ... like that?"

Sara pondered the question for a moment before replying. "Oh, you mean, if someone, say me, had a girlfriend who was bisexual, how could I trust her not to be wanting to hook up with some guy?"  She waited a moment, and saw the affirming nod Nelson gave to her statement. "Nelson, I think that there is a big misconception out there about bisexuals being promiscuous.  I don't see that as true, not in my experience.  To tell ya the truth, Nelson,  I think I've been more promiscuous than any bisexuals I've been involved with, or met.  No, I think they have every capacity to be monogamous, no matter which sex they're involved with at the time."

She saw Nelson nodding along in seeming understanding to what she was saying. "I think that everyone has the opportunity to love and be loved.  I don't doubt there might be a lot of people out there who would disagree with me, for whatever reasons.  I think we all, gays, straights, and whomever in-between, have issues about feeling insecure with who we are, and the ability of our loved ones to remain faithful."

Nelson played with his fingers a bit, interlacing them, and rubbing a thumb along a palm.  He was trying to decide if he wanted to ask her, point blank,  about his recently acquired doubts about Chloe.  What with all the rumors flying, and the confidence of his friends when they relayed their absolute certainty about her pregnancy, he was just too apprehensive to want to upset his aunt with all of his confusion.  He decided to do what he always did, sit back and watch and listen, and watch the adults around him deal with whatever the future held.  He would keep his mouth shut, and hope everything turned out alright.

"OK." he said, his tone signifying that he seemed to be satisfied with what Sara had told him.  He smiled and stretched. " Thanks. I think I need some more juice, and to take some pills."  He rubbed his throat. "I'm probably not doing school tomorrow."

Sara got up from her chair, and although the curiosity she felt about Nelson's sudden peculiar interest in bisexuality was killing her, she decided to be prudent and let it go for now.  He'll ask me, I know, if  there's more to it at some point. But wow, this is just too ...

She straightened her sweatshirt, and lifted a half smile. "Yeah, I figured you weren't going to school. That's OK.  Chloe is spending the night, and taking tomorrow off, too."  She headed to the doorway, and turned. "What a fun threesome we'll make."  She walked out of the room.

Threesome?  Nelson buried his head in his hands, trying to dispel the images from his earlier dream, and the images that his aunt had just innocently planted in his fevered brain. Oh my god.  I 'm such a ... pervert.  I'm never going to be able to look Chloe in the eye again.

Continued in Part XVI

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