Based on: Only When I Laugh
Title: Better medicine
Author: Elvichar
Date: 15/03/01

Note:  Written for the BritSlash Comic Relief Challenge March 2001. 

Better Medicine


by Elvichar


The days tended to drag.

That was the trouble when you spent most of the time in bed.

Archie wasn't having a good time at all. No-one seemed to believe he was really ill, least of all his fellow patients, yet he had to stay in hospital. It was imperative.

It had become a bit of an obsession, thinking of new twinges and pains to use as an excuse.

The last time they'd discharged him he'd been back before the end of the day. That was thanks to Figgis. Roy was a good friend - who else would have broken out of the hospital, made for the nearest pub and persuaded half the local population they had pork pie poisoning.

Thank god for Roy Figgis.

Without him, what would he be? He had no job outside the hospital, very little money, and hardly any friends. Here he had Figgis. And Norman of course - but not in the same way.

Archie didn't even want to consider what Figgis would say if he ever founded out how much he was needed.

If Roy was discharged Archie knew he'd probably never make contact again. That was unthinkable

And now he was genuinely ill - with the flu. He had a red nose. Sniffles, a throat so sore he could hardly speak and a headache that stretched from the tips of his toes to the roots of his hair.

Which meant he'd been moved to an isolation ward, so as not to affect the other patients.

It was funny really, coming into hospital and getting genuinely ill. But Archie couldn't really see the humour at the moment.

He missed Figgis, he missed the jibes and the banter, the arguments that kept them connected.

The only thing he could do to pass the time now was sleep. And sleep meant dreams.

Not that they were bad dreams - some of them were really quite enjoyable - but it was becoming increasing more hard to talk to Figgis without blushing. It had been a few weeks since they started.

If he visited him here now, at least he could explain away the redness as just another flu symptom.

Although Roy wasn't visiting.

Where was he? He could at least bring some grapes and a newspaper.

Gupta had come in to check on him a few times, but it wasn't the same.

"Tell me Gupta," Archie croaked, "is everything all right in the ward?"

"You want to know about your friends?" Gupta said cheerfully. "They're all fine. No change - they're still where you left them."

"Figgis hasn't had any sort of a relapse then?"

"Relapse? No, no. He's fine. A bit down perhaps, but nothing out of the ordinary."


"Yes. Maybe he's missing you." Gupta laughed and left, leaving Archie's medication on the bedside cabinet.

Missing me? Archie thought.

The theory cheered him somewhat.


"Gupta mate - is he any better?" Figgis grabbed Gupta by the arm, an anxious look on his face.

"Well of course he's all right Mr Figgis. What could be wrong? It's only a little head cold."

"If it's only a head cold Gupta, why did they move him? Why are they keeping him away from You can tell me mate, there's actually something seriously wrong with him this time isn't there?"

"Oh dear no. He's fine. Nothing he won't be over after a few days rest."

"You don't have to keep it from me. I can tell he's in a bad state. Otherwise they would let us visit him wouldn't they?"

"Don't be silly Mr Figgis. I told you, he's fine."

"Where are they keeping the body - you don't have to break it to me gently. He's dead isn't he?"

"He's in ward 10. He's not dead - I just came from seeing him. Unless he was a ghost of course."

Figgis' response was drowned by an enormous sneeze.

"Oh dear, Mr Figgis looks like you might see your friend very soon. There's an extra bed in isolation - I think you'd be better off there."

"There's nowt wrong with me..." another sneeze.

"I'll go and prepare your bed."


Archie couldn't help smiling. His boredom looked like it was coming to an end - now he could indulge in a good old slanging match with Figgis. Although of course, that wouldn't be so easy with his throat in such a state.

"Good to see you," he managed to say, before a coughing fit interrupted his flow.

"Dear oh dear - this is what I have to look forward to is it?"

"I'm afraid it is fairly inconvenient," Archie said huskily.

"Well at least I'll get a sexy voice out of it - you sound like Fenella Fielding."

Archie frowned.

"Aw, don't be like that mate," Figgis continued, "I'm only joking."

Archie waved dismissively.

"Ah - good. You can't speak. Ideal situation mate." Figgis leaned back in the bed smugly.

"I can speak," Archie managed, "Why are you here anyway, you seem all right."

"I was sneezing. They thought they'd best send me here away from the ill people who aren't sick yet."

"Has Norman caught it?"

"No - he's fit as a fiddle. Apart from the obvious. It's just you and me mate you and me."

Archie shivered. Must be another symptom, he reasoned.

"I hope you can stand being in isolation with me for a few days. I know how you feel about me and all," Figgis said.

"Whatever do you mean?" Archie said defensively.

"It's no good pretending ..." Figgis left it hanging for a while, as Archie shifted uncomfortably in his bed, "I know you can't stand the sight of me."

Archie laughed with relief. Only it came out more of a strangulated cough. "That's rubbish. I don't hate you Figgis; I actually quite admire you. In a funny sort of way."

"Oh yes? How funny?"

"Hilariously funny. Now go to sleep or something, " Archie rolled over. Figgis was looking at him strangely - Archie could see him from the corner of his eye. "What?"

"Nothing. Just thinking." Figgis was silent for a moment and then, "You know this is the first time we've been alone - you no, without Norman being around."


" know."

"What are you wittering about Figgis. Spit it out man." Archie could feel himself reddening.

"You know the best way to get rid of a fever is to sweat it out?" There was a definite slyness in Figgis' voice now.

"Yes. So I've heard. Chicken soup is supposed to be good too."

"Well I don't know about that, but I'm sure I can help with the fever thing."

Maybe it was the flu, but Archie could feel his chest tightening. He held back an urge to gasp. He said nothing. Did nothing.

"Come on man - you know what I'm talking about." Figgis sounded impatient now.

Archie turned towards Roy's bed.

"If I did, would it make a difference?"

Figgis smiled. "You're more canny than you let on. And you can't fool me Archie Glover. This isn't something you haven't thought of too."

"But I have a headache."

Figgis snorted. "I guarantee I can make you feel 100 per cent better."

"God you're romantic." Archie shook his head. Why Figgis, of all people? Why this melancholy, clownish little man? How could somebody so free of couth have so much affect on him, a man of culture and refinement?

If only, he thought, if only.

Archie pushed back the blankets and let Figgis in. If nothing else, they were sure to be warm tonight.




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