May we pls request a follow up fic of Jake finding and taking care of a sick Kauri who was out in the cold🥺🙏
For @amonthofwhump Day 8: Hot Chocolate
CW: Sick whumpee, Kauri’s Poor Life Choices, survivor of abuse
“Stop staring,” Kauri snaps, voice slurred as he drops into the passenger seat of Jake’s ancient four-door. He’s hunched over, the backpack taking its place between his knees. Jake knows Keira is in there, nestled into his extra clothes and with the toiletries, always with him when he goes.
“I’m not staring-”
“I look like sh-shit, I get it.” Kauri rubs his hands together, and Jake tries not to be alarmed at how nearly blue the tips look, grayish-pale, even a little purplish. “I fuckin’ get it, okay?”
Jake slowly nods. Kauri’s curls are tipped in snowflakes that aren’t melting as fast as they should, and there’s no ruddy red to his cheeks and the tip of his nose like you’d expect from someone in the cold, only a smooth, almost porcelain paleness. It’s weirdly beautiful, and Jake is determined not to notice it. “Yeah. Just-”
“I know. Should’ve called last night, I know.” Kauri glares at the glove compartment, settling into a sullen sulk on his side. “But I didn’t want to. So I didn’t. Deal with it.”
He sneezes, a weirdly kittenish sound.
Jake tightens his hands on the steering wheel so he won’t lean over to touch him. “I get that. Kauri-… I just-… if you just call us we can help-”
“Stop it. I don’t want help. I don’t need help.” Kauri’s eyes drift closed, and he leans his head against the window as Jake starts the car, pulls out of the spot at the park where he’d waited and finally seen Kauri appear, stumbling out of the clump of trees and rocks where college kids go to be drunk idiots in the dark sometimes, alone.
Is Jake relieved he was alone, or sad that no one stayed with him overnight? He doesn’t know. He’s both. He’s neither.
He just wishes he would have known Kauri didn’t go home with someone, he would have come out here and dragged him home whether he liked it or not-
No, he wouldn’t.
If he’d forced Kauri back, they’d never have seen him again. They’d be exactly what he thinks people are, then - just more assholes looking to lock him up and throw away the key.
He’d be right to run from people who didn’t let him make the choice to stay on his own.
They drive in silence for a while, the car slowly filling with warm air as his heater finally decides to join the party and fucking work for once. The world around them is a silent white, snowflakes falling more heavily, building up alongside the road, turning to slush under Jake’s tires. He has to take the turns slow - his tires are old, and they don’t have the traction you need to drive in snow.
It’s never mattered before - there’s never been snow, not since Jake moved here.
He sees kids in big thick parkas starting to make their slow way out of their houses as he drives past them, parents equally hesitant. School’s probably canceled, he thinks - who the hell has the ability to drive on snow and ice in this part of California except Midwestern transplants like Nat, Northeasterners, or people from up closer to the mountains?
“How do you feel?” He asks, just to fill the silence between them stretching on and on. The sound of a child’s delighted, shocked laughter makes its way through the muffle of closed car doors, and he glances sidelong to see a little girl picking snow up in her mittened hands and flinging it into the air, eyes shining.
“Like I look,” Kauri says, without looking back at him. “Plus I’m hungover as shit, so that’s not helping.”
“Yeah, they usually advise against being dehydrated when you get hypothermia, it ruins the fun.” Jake’s voice is dry, and Kauri looks over at him, a little surprised. There’s almost a smile on his face, and Jake almost answers it. “But hey, if you’re killing your liver, why not add every other organ to the failure party?”
Kauri groans, putting his hands up over his face. “Okay, Jake, I get it, I’m the poorly behaved very bad boy-”
“You could have called me, Kauri.”
“I know, but I didn’t want to go to Nat’s last night, and last I checked I get to make that decision, not you-”
“You could have called me and I’d have bought you a fucking hotel room, if that’s what you needed to be safe. To stay warm. I’d have dropped you off on some asshole’s doorstep myself. Why didn’t you just go home with somebody?”
“I didn’t want to do that, either.” Kauri’s voice drops, low and soft. “I didn’t want anyone to touch me, I didn’t-… I didn’t want-”
He shivers, and it’s not until he does that that Jake realizes he hasn’t been shivering, not the entire time.
That’s probably not good.
“Shit. I’m sorry, Kauri, this isn’t any of my business. I’m sorry. I’m just worried. I was worried about you.”
“Besides,” Kauri adds, overlapping him, not wanting to hear it. His eyelashes lay against his cheek in a way that Jake could write poetry about if he could ever write at all. “You don’t have the money for a hotel room.”
“Nat would have helped me with the cost.”
“Then I’d owe her, too, wouldn’t I?”
“You wouldn’t owe anyone, this is what we do-”
“I don’t want anyone’s fucking help. I can do it on my own.” Kauri’s voice twists, and he’s not really talking to Jake, is he? “I can do it on my own, I can.”