Warnings: um...don't read this if you get itchy easily
Summary: Greg thought he was immune
A/N: Yeah, this is the way I do h/c--it's more humor/coddle than hurt/comfort. Written when I got 34 chigger bites, so somebody had to suffer worse than me.
"You have to quarantine the lab," Greg said as he shoved open Grissom's office door.
Grissom looked up at him and removed his glasses. "Greg?"
"I've got smallpox, Gris. I don't know how I got it, but I've got it and even if it's not from something in the lab I'm probably contagious so you're going to have to call Hazmat and we're all going to have to go into quarantine."
Grissom frowned. "Smallpox lesions usually begin on the face, Greg, and I don't see any."
"They're all over me, man," Greg said, sliding his t-shirt up so Grissom could see his chest. "I thought it was a bug bite this morning but it kept itching and I've got a headache and a fever and when I looked in the mirror over break I had all these!" His voice was quickly reaching a panicked pitch.
Grissom's frown curved into a barely-concealed smirk. "Well, Greg, you've got a pox, all right, but I don't think we're going to have to quarantine anyone. Except maybe you."
"Wait," Greg said, shivering from the cold of sitting on one of the morgue slabs with his shirt off. "You're sure? You're absolutely sure that it's not pneumocyllic plague or monkeypox or—"
"Quite sure," Dr. Robbins cut him off as he headed towards his desk. "And stop scratching." He dug in one of his desk drawers, slid it shut and opened another one. "I can never find my prescription pad. It's not like medication would help the majority of my patients."
Greg pulled his shirt back on and pressed his hands to his knees. "I guess they don't really need any. Well, except for that guy that wasn't really dead when David sliced into him."
"Quite," the doctor said. "Ah!" He found his pad and settled down in his chair. "You're about 20 years behind schedule, but what you've got is no act of bioterrorism, merely varicella zoster. Chickenpox."
"But I can't have chickenpox," Greg protested. "I'm immune."
"I thought you said you didn't have chickenpox as a child."
"I didn't," Greg said. "That's how I know I'm immune. Every single one of my friends had it, but I never got infected no matter how hard I tried."
Dr. Robbins looked up at him with a dubious expression.
Greg shrugged. "I was jealous that they got to stay home from school and eat ice cream."
Dr. Robbins sighed. "Well, it seems that nature is playing a cruel joke. You managed to avoid chickenpox in your youth when you wanted it, and now that you don't want it, you've got it. I'm writing you a prescription for antibiotics. Adults with chickenpox are particularly susceptible to secondary bacterial infections—" he looked up sharply. "Which you will most certainly get if you do not stop scratching."
Greg dropped his hands, then slid them under his thighs for good measure.
"They won't do anything for the rash itself, but they should ward off any infection or bacterial pneumonia." He ripped the top sheet off the pad and reached for his brace. It took him a moment to get up, but once he did he headed towards Greg and handed him the prescription. "Other than taking these, I want you to get a lot of rest and drink plenty of fluids. You'll have a fever and possibly a sore throat—an anesthetic throat and mouth spray is fine if you want to use it, as is Tylenol. You'll also want calamine lotion and perhaps even an oatmeal baking-soda bath to help with the itching. And whatever you do, don't scratch."
"No scratching," Greg said, his hands still tucked firmly beneath his thighs.
"Barring any complications, this should run its course in a week or two. I'll get the paperwork filled out for your medical leave."
"A week or *two*?" Greg asked.
"Adult cases of chickenpox tend to be more severe than cases in childhood. But you're in good health; you should pull through just fine. Give me a call if your fever exceeds 103 or if you begin coughing up green or yellow sputum. Lots of rest, plenty of fluids, and no scratching. Secondary infections are the most dangerous part of any chickenpox case and I don't want you contracting strep A."
"No scratching," Greg said. "Gotcha."
His hands were up, clawing frantically at his chest the moment he was out the morgue doors.
"This isn't funny," Greg said as he watched Nick cut a long strip of duct tape.
"Well, it's not supposed to be," Nick said, wrapping the duct tape around Greg's wrist, securing the sock over his hand. "This is the only way my mom could keep me from scratching when I was a kid."
"But I'm not a kid," Greg said as Nick slid a sock over his other hand. "I'm a fully grown adult."
"A fully grown adult who can't stop scratching his chickenpox," Nick said. "All right. Arms up. I'll put lotion on your chest."
"No way," Greg said. "You're not seeing me like this."
"It's going to be hard to not see you like this, considering we share a bed."
"Then I'll sleep on the couch. You don't need to see these, really. They're gross."
Nick rolled his eyes and pulled Greg's shirt off, anyway. "They're not so bad," he said as he surveyed the blisters that peppered Greg's chest. "Although I think you broke a few from scratching so much."
"They're not so bad?" Greg asked. "I look like a walking bacterium and you say is it's not so bad?"
"You've got, what? Fifteen spots? That's not bad at all, baby."
"Twenty-three," Greg said. "And they're hideous. I can't believe I ever wanted this."
Nick kissed him gently.
"Hey," Greg said, jerking back. "I'm contagious, here."
Nick smiled and stroked his cheek. "And I've already had chickenpox."
"Did you look this bad?"
He tried to control his grin as he nodded. "Much worse. Your little spattering is nothing."
"It doesn't feel like nothing. Please, just let me scratch it. For the love of God I'm begging you."
Nick laughed and shook his head. "Calamine," he said, reaching over towards the plastic bag of things he'd picked up on the way home.
"You know," Greg said as Nick began to apply a cotton ball saturated with Calamine lotion to the spots on his chest, "I could do this myself if you'd just take these stupid socks of my hands."
"Nice try," Nick said. "No cigar. Now lay back and rest, and I'll bring you some juice."
"Apple juice?" Greg asked hopefully.
Nick smiled, then kissed him again. "Of course apple juice. I know how to take care of my baby."
Greg woke up around one in a puddle of heat and sweat. He threw the covers off and sighed as the cold air hit his skin. It felt nice, a respite from all the itching. He ran his sock covered hands over his chest and his stomach, down his legs, then back up again, scratching his neck, his face.
He sat up quickly. He couldn't feel anything with the stupid socks Nick had put on his hands, but he knew his face wasn't supposed to be itching. Neither were his legs, his back, even his elbows. He fumbled for the light and struggled with it for a moment before he finally managed to turn it own. What he saw made him gasp.
"What's wrong?" Nick asked, sleepily, lifting his head up.
"Look at me!" Greg cried. "Fucking look at me!"
Nick sat up and squinted, then reached for his glasses. After he put them on he covered his mouth with his hands. "Oh my God," he said, laughing softly. Every inch of Greg's skin was covered in shiny red bumps, from his forehead all the way down to the soles of his feet.
"You're laughing? I'm a walking biohazard and you're laughing?"
"You've, ah, you've got quite a case there," Nick said.
"Quite a case? Once Hazmat finds out they're going to want to incinerate me." He looked at the bottom of his feet and moaned. "Mildew is nothing compared to this, and if you don't take these stupid socks off my hands right this second I'm going to chew through the duct tape myself."
"Whoa," Nick said, reaching out to grab Greg's wrists. "Slow down. No scratching, or I'll have to tie you to the bed. And not in the fun way."
"I look like a human pizza and you're threatening to tie me down? What kind of boyfriend are you?"
"The kind that doesn't want you getting any worse," Nick said. "Come on. I think it's time for that oatmeal bath."
Greg grumbled, but followed Nick to the bathroom anyway. His head hurt, his throat hurt, his neck and shoulders ached and…
"Holy fucking shit," he whispered as he caught sight of himself in the mirror. He raised one sock-covered hand to his face and gaped at his reflection. "I look like the Elephant Man."
"You do not." Nick turned on the water and ran his hand under the tap, testing the temperature.
"This is God paying me back for making fun of Frankie Evans in middle school. He had the worst acne of anybody I've ever seen, until right now."
"You don't look like you have acne, you look like you have chickenpox," Nick said, shaking out the contents of the oatmeal bath he'd bought earlier.
"I look like I'm covered in radioactive spider bites."
Nick swirled his hand through the water, mixing in the oatmeal bath until it was the consistency of soup. "You don't look like you have radioactive spider bites. Now get in."
Greg wanted to cry as Nick helped lower him into the tub. He didn't know how Nick could even bear to touch him. The shiny pustules were enough to gross him out, and it was his own skin.
"Better?" Nick asked softly as Greg lay back. He scooped up a handful of the oatmeal bathwater and let it run down Greg's chest.
Greg sighed and nodded. The lukewarm water felt amazing on his burning skin and the oatmeal seemed to soothe the itch on contact.
"I'm gonna take these off," Nick said as he started to peel away the duct tape. "But you have to promise not to scratch."
"I promise," Greg said, and he meant it. He was too tired to argue. He was tired and he hurt and he couldn't bear the fact that Nick was seeing him like that—practically disfigured.
"Hey," Nick whispered as Greg started to cry. "Hey, baby, shhh. It's OK. I know it hurts. I know it does. I'm gonna get you some Tylenol, OK? That will help. The bath will help. We'll get you all better as fast as we can."
"He looks real bad, Doc," Nick whispered into the phone, keeping his eye on the bedroom door. He'd finally gotten Greg back to sleep, but he wanted to make sure he didn't overhear the conversation and pick up on Nick's concern. "I thought I had a bad case when I was a kid, but he…he kinda looks like he's covered in radioactive spider bites. They're on his face, his arms and legs, even the soles of his feet."
"How's his fever?"
"101.3," Nick said.
"Is he scratching?"
"I taped socks over his hands."
The doctor chuckled. "Good thinking. Adult cases of varicella zoster are often far more virulent than those contracted in childhood. As long as his fever remains low and he continues with the antibiotics I think he should be fine. But call me immediately if his fever spikes, if any of the blisters become infected, or if he shows signs of pneumonia—difficulty breathing, sputum, that sort of thing."
"There's nothing else I can do for him?" Nick asked.
"I'll call in a scrip for an antihistamine. If it's as bad as you say he's got to be extremely uncomfortable. The antihistamine will help with the itching and it should help him sleep. How's his fluid intake?"
"He's drinking apple juice and water. I tried to get some broth into him but he didn't want it."
"That's fine. He won't be very hungry for a while. Try to get him to eat a few things. Even one of those liquid meal replacements would be fine. You're a good friend for doing this, Nick."
Nick pressed his lips into a tight line. If only the doctor know how good a friend he was. But he didn't know; nobody knew. "Well, somebody has to take care of him," he said finally.
Once he got off the phone with Dr. Robbins, Nick returned to their bedroom and sat on the edge of their bed. Greg was sprawled out on his stomach, covered only with a sheet. Nick peeled the sheet back and sighed. It hurt him to look at Greg's back covered in angry red welts; he could only imagine how badly it hurt Greg.
He picked up the bottle of calamine lotion and dabbed some on a cotton ball, began applying it to the spots on Greg's back. He smiled as he carefully covered each spot with the chalky-pink lotion. Even a year earlier he couldn't have imagined such a thing, couldn't have imagined that instead of being horrified by Greg's appearance he'd only feel sympathy and love. He knew Greg didn't want him to see his blister-covered body but it didn't matter to him. Greg was beautiful, even covered in chickenpox.
They were nearly out of calamine. He'd pick up a bigger bottle when he ran to the pharmacy to get the antihistamine prescription.