AN1: I normally write stories of actual experiences in my life. Guess what I did yesterday. XP
AN2: I smiled when someone referred to The Neighbour series recently. I am happy that despite its completion some three months ago, it is still well-received. Thank you very much Hiddlefans.
AN3: You might say this is a companion piece to Minding the Sick. Coincidences all around.
It was a beautiful morning. The lift creaked its sensual rickety clanging box up and down the elevator shaft, people gaggled about the building, neighbors popped in for a quick hello and asking if they could borrow a cup of sugar. The sun rained its warm rays down onto the grateful people below and news had it that a national holiday was declared on the next Monday. Yep, nothing could possibly go wrong. All was right in the world.
But that was before Tom informed Dara about the flu shots he signed up for in the afternoon.
“NO!” She screamed, evading Tom’s grasp as she ambled around her apartment, avoiding the tall man’s advances as he calmly explained the reasons behind the flu vaccine.
“Darling, we’re going to get it. There’s been an increase in flu patients at the hospital and I’m worried that you might catch it again. Remember the last time you had the flu?” He said, reminding her of that time he came home to her ragged form and spent the entire evening minding her, cooking dinner, feeding her, and then giving her a bath before they both fell asleep. It was actually a very chivalrous deed, one that always sent Dara’s face flushing every time she remembered it. She constantly thanked him for the gesture, surprising him with small forms of affection every time he comes over to visit. She was not used to showering the man with affection but thanks to that episode, she warmed up to Tom and he was a happy beneficiary of quick kisses, tight hugs and light brushes on his hand, his cheek, his chest, which would send him looking at her funny. She would smile at him, meowing as she snuggled close, and would lean against him as they planted their relationship firmer, with more intimacy now that Dara had become slightly bolder.
Unfortunately, all of that nonsense slipped out her brain upon the mention of ‘flu shot’. She was deathly afraid of the needle, and many a prick has taught her to run away from the revolting little thing. The actor was going to have to catch her if he wished to get it over and done with quickly.
Tom walked quickly after her as she jumped over her couch, placing it in between them as she stood watching him, cautiously monitoring his movement and ready to bolt upon a twist of his form. He spread his legs wide, toes scrunching on the floor, walking barefoot around Dara’s apartment as he played cat-and-mouse with the little girl. He let out a roguish grin and chided her.
“What’s wrong little Dara? Afraid of a little needle?”
Dara glared at him from the other side of the couch, growling silently at his admonishment. “Yes I am, and I refuse to go and have it done. You don’t have my consent Thomas. You’ll never get me there.” She snarled, eyeing him dangerously as she took a step back towards the kitchen counter.
Tom smiled at her warmly, despite the panther-like menace she was giving him. “I’m not worried about the consent dear. I’m sure you’ll come to your senses. You’re an adult after all. I just want to have it done with you so I don’t have to worry about your health like the last time” he replied, quickly jumping over the couch and landing on the floor with a thud, barely feet away from Dara. She let out a tiny squeak as she inched her way towards the counter, her eyes not leaving Tom as he took slow predatory steps towards her, hands hidden in his jeans pockets as he corralled his girlfriend into a corner. Dara gasped when her back hit the counter edge and Tom flew quickly over her, hovering his upper body over hers, shadowing her face and arms with his tall frame and smiling warmly at her, explaining once again the reasons behind the vaccine.
“Please love, if we get the shots early today, I promise, I will give you anything you want afterwards. Just calm down and get dressed. ” He said, raising one hand to playfully tousle Dara’s hair as she stood rigid underneath his gaze. He smirked warmly at her as he planted a kiss on her forehead, pulling her head to his chest as he slowly wrapped his other arm around her, comforting her from her fear and assuring her that things weren’t as bad as she thought.
“It’s just a simple medical procedure love. It’s not going to hurt.”
“That’s a lie.” Dara scoffed. Tom laughed.
“I guess so, but you can’t deny that you are acting a bit childish over this. It’s not as bad as you think it is.”
At this, Dara lifted her face to him, looking up apprehensively as her eyes searched through his, looking for understanding and acceptance in his words. Tom hugged her deeper towards his chest, almost suffocating her with his iron hold.
“B-but…you’ll get mad when you see me in that clinic.”
Tom frowned at her comment. “Why would I get mad?”
She evaded his eyes, blinking rapidly as her embarrassment revealed herself on her cheeks. “Every time I enter a clinic for my shots, I’d be a calm little thing in the waiting room. When I’m called in, I’m still fine, but the moment the nurse brings out that DAMN needle, I freak out, as in literally torrential tears and everything. They only got me down the last time at school because I had to show my brave face for the kids who were just as anxious as I was.”
“Ah, so you’re an actress.”
“I’m a wuss.”
Tom shook his head at that, releasing her from his grasp and holding her hands gently.
“Your reaction is normal. There’s nothing wrong with you. I’ll be getting my shot with you, I’ll be there. I won’t leave you, I promise.”
Tom watched Dara’s minute form for a few moments as she silently contemplated his words. In the distance, he could hear Matt next door, stomping down the hallway. He could hear the bustling traffic five floors below them. He waited patiently, a skill he learned from this relationship, and he knew that the wait was always worth it.
Dara lifted her gaze up at her, looking longingly into his blue eyes as she latched on to his bravery because she lacked hers. “Will you stay beside me through the whole thing?”
Tom leaned down and kissed her cheek. “Of course I will. It will only take five seconds, and I promise I’ll treat you to something nice afterwards, alright?”
Tom’s heart leaped when she smiled at him. “Okay…” she whispered.
He patted her head again, pulled her towards her bedroom and nudged her in so she could dress up. They were having lunch out before heading to the clinic.
He stayed the whole time, watching her undress, shower and choose her outfit because he knew, the moment he leaves, she’ll escape and run off to God-knows-where. She was a trickster, and an escape artist.
And he loved every bit of her.
He had her wait in his apartment while he dressed before they both left for lunch.
They got to the clinic at two, much to Dara’s chagrin. She delayed their lunch by stalling over what to have and even over dessert, Tom noticed how she dilly-dallied over their cake and tea. He smiled to himself as she distracted herself and Tom with her misadventures with her students and made it a point to go through her whole roster to hyperactive five-year-olds so that they would be late for the appointment. At one thirty, when Tom called for the bill, Dara’s face paled and she began negotiating her way out of this…stairway to hell, as she called it.
“Can’t we get it next Thursday?”
“No darling, I already set our appointment today. It’s already been paid for.”
“What if I come down with something right now? I think I’m allergic to the tea.”
“Then we’ll have to go to the clinic anyway so I can have you checked.”
“Dara love, no more excuses. It will be over and done with soon, I promise.”
Dara blushed as she was scolded by Tom. He grinned at her as he stood up and offered her his hand, which she took apprehensively. Resigned to her fate, she sighed aloud, and let Tom escort her towards the clinic.
Tom opened the door for her as she fidgeted and lurched by his side. He took her hand in his tightly and pulled her inside, making her sit down in the slightly packed waiting room while he spoke to the receptionist. Some of the patients in the waiting room noticed the tall actor as he waltzed in, and the room was abuzz with whispers and excited murmurs as they eyed the actor’s back, taking secret pictures and debating about whether or not they will get his autograph. Dara rolled her eyes at their actions, suddenly blinking, realizing her angst. She made a mental note to stop doing that. She always had a mean streak in her. She bonked her head against the wall as she cursed the she-devil that purred within her.
“Sweetheart do you want to stay longer so I can get your head examined as well?”
She looked up and gave Tom a sarcastic look as he smirked at her musings. She was always like this when faced with tension and stress. It was a quirk of hers, which Tom knew to evade when she was at it either due to work, family or her monthly Aunt Irma. Once, she growled at him when he came in at the height of her brat mode. He spent the entire afternoon watching her give him the death glare as she checked her students’ work. She calmed down after he had pizza delivered. Tom discovered that she calmed down for two things and he abused this knowledge to no end: Music and Pizza. She was his forever after that.
He handed her the consent form and information sheet that she begrudgingly filled up. He took their completed forms back to the reception and came back to her, still smiling that evil smirk of his.
Tom took the empty seat beside her, ignoring the buzz of his arrival and sat casually, with his legs spread out as if putting them together will cause him to explode. Dara in turn crossed hers together, and crossed her arms across her chest, huffing as she ignored her ‘captor’ who seemed to be enjoying making her suffer.
A few people came up to him and asked for autographs, a few photo-ops and small talk. Dara remained seated during the whole thing, watching him transform into a polite gentleman in front of them, standing up and interacting with the other patients. She couldn’t help but smile as he showered his fans with attention and enthusiasm. It didn’t faze her one bit when one of the ladies planted a kiss on his cheek. She simply pulled out her phone and began playing Monster Ate My Condo. It was one thing to be jealous. It was another to know that it was part of his job as Man of the Year. She will not interfere with his work.
A nurse cut through the throng of people and stood in front of Thomas.
“Mr. Hiddleston, you may proceed to room 3. A nurse is waiting for you.”
Tom gave her a thumbs up before he politely escaped from his fans, coming back to where Dara sat and ushering me off the chair. Dara knew all eyes were on her and it took all of her self-control not to rush out and flee from the flu shot like she intended. With a dignified air, she let Tom escort her towards the room 3 where her judgement was about to be set down. Passing through the narrow hallway Tom laughed his signature ehes. Dara whipped her head around and raised her eyebrow at him.
“I should bring you to places where fans can find me. You’re polite and mature when people are watching.”
Dara stuck her tongue out at him, rolling her eyes and saying nothing as she turned back to the hallway. Tom laughed louder at this. She knocked at the door marked 3 and entered.
Inside the small room was a long bench, a table topped with a box of vaccines (Dara wanted to run out at the mere sight but Tom blocked her way), and a male nurse who smiled up from his charts as they entered. “Good afternoon Mr. Hiddleston, ready to have your shot done?” He beamed, taking one of the vaccines and unwrapping it.
Tom was rolling the sleeves of his right arm up and flexing his muscles. Dara glared menacingly at him as he playfully pumped his biceps at her. His Cheshire cat grin mocked her and she stepped aside as he was ushered to the bench by the nurse, already holding the needle in his hand. Dara closed the door.
“Don’t try to escape now. You know I’ll catch you.”
“Will you just……be quiet?” Dara smiled sinisterly as Tom raised his eyebrow at her. The nurse dabbed a cotton damp with alcohol on an area on his skin before he busied himself with the vaccine. Tom took the distraction to answer Dara’s comment.
“You were about to tell me to ‘shut up’ weren’t yo———-” He hissed, as the nurse injected the vaccine while he wasn’t looking. Dara held back a shriek, breathing heavily as the nurse leaned beside Tom and blasted him with the medicine. He pulled the needle out and placed a small band-aid on the area. Tom stared at it for a while and rolled his sleeves back down. He was smirking.
“Your turn love.”
You could swear that Dara’s skin color turned green.
It took Thomas five minutes to catch Dara, hold her down and position her beside the nurse who was watching the couple with an amused look.
“I’ve seen worse reactions sir. She’s basically tame.”
Tom gripped Dara in a tight hug as she struggled against him. “I’m sure, but—-darling stay still, you’re going to hurt yourself—- have you ever had this with adults?”
This was when the nurse smiled sheepishly. “No sir, she’s the first one I’ve encountered.”
“Splendid. Hear that darling? You’re the first one he’s witnessed throwing a fit.” Tom noted as he held down Dara who was close to kicking him off. He sat her between him and the nurse as the nurse gently pulled her right arm towards him and dabbed her skin with the alcohol-drenched cotton.
Dara looked up at him with tears in her eyes. Tom blinked, ignoring his guilty conscience as her brown eyes pleaded him to let go.
“Tom please…I don’t want, I’m scared!”
Tom swore he could feel his heart breaking. He leaned down towards the frightened girl and kissed her head. “It will be over soon love. I’ll be right here beside you the whole time.”
Hints of tears pooled around Dara’s eyes as she looked away, burying her face on Tom’s shirt as the nurse placed the cotton down and picked up the vaccine. “It won’t hurt madame. You’ll be done before you know it, but I need to you to be absolutely still. Wouldn’t want to have a needle stuck in your veins now do we?”
Tom heard Dara whimper against his chest, her grip on his shirt pulled tight as he felt himself getting pulled down from the force. He could hear her muttering something as the nurse slowly inched the needle close to her skin.
“UncleSlendydoesthehulaUncleSlendydoesthehula UncleSlendydoesthehula…” She muttered, referring to the urban legend as she raised her head to peek if it was over. The needle was mere centimeters from her skin. She shrieked and hid her face on Tom’s shirt again.
“UNCLESLENDYDOESTHEHULAUNCLESLENDYDOESTHEHULA UNCLESLENDYDOESTHEHULA” She chanted louder and Tom seriously laughed at this.
“I HATE YOU THOMAS!” She screamed.
“Madame, I’m injecting it now.”
The needle pressed against skin. She jerked her arm away slightly.
Before she freaked, Tom pulled her face up to meet his
And planted a wet kiss on her lips, distracting her.
Dara closed her eyes to him and relaxed, her grip slackening on his shirt.
The nurse pulled the needle out and placed a band aid on the area. He walked towards the table and began scribbling something on his chart.
Tom released Dara’s lips, gasping for breath as his glazy eyes looked at her pretty face, blinking back the swooping butterflies that danced inside him. Dara fluttered her eyes open, looking up at him with wide eyes as she brought a hand up to brush the tear pools around her eyes. Tom thumbed them away and she smiled. She looked at her band-aided arm, smirking at the tiny evidence that gave her hell all morning. The nurse called Tom over and had him sign something.
As they walked out the clinic, Tom felt for her hand and pulled it gently against him, her body coming close to his as they walked back to their building. They were silent during the trek, eyes avoiding each others as they casually strolled back. Upon reaching the front steps, Dara released his hand and bounced up the stairs, disappearing into the hallway. Tom walked slowly, unsure of Dara’s mood and found her standing in front of the lift, waiting for it to come down and pick them up. He planted his hand on her shoulder. Dara looked at it, but remained quiet. Tom’s smile was slowly disappearing.
Upon entering the lift, Tom turned to her and cupped her face with his hands, forcing her to look at him. She blinked up at him, staring innocently as the lift clicked its way up to the fifth floor.
He didn’t hide his dismay. “Dara, what’s wrong? Are you mad? I’m sorry if I put you through that. I did it for your own protection. Please don’t be mad. I’ll make it up to you.” He stuttered like a child as Dara remained quiet beside him. His eyes pleaded her to say something as their lift ascended slowly.
Dara slowly pulled Tom’s hands from her face, looking away. Tom’s mind was reeling. Was this it? Was she angry? Was she breaking up with him? His thoughts pierced his heart painfully as he stuttered for an excuse and awaited her reply.
Dara listened to his panicked voice but still said nothing.
The lift stopped at the fifth floor. They both got out.
Tom’s heart dropped to his stomach as he watched Dara take out the keys to her apartment, still saying nothing. He didn’t want to frighten her, but he was deathly afraid that she was already distancing herself from him again. He hated it when she did that. He felt that he had lost another friend, another confidante, another person to care for.
He wanted to care for her.
“Dara…please…say something” He pleaded, resisting the urge to pull her back into his arms and never let go. Dara turned and faced him, still with her stoic expression.
She lifted her hand to her lips and gave a long and loud yawn.
Tom’s heart wrenched. Was she tired of this routine? Was she bored with my words? Was she simply entertaining him, but didn’t really care? Was she sick and tired of us?
Tom’s mind was busy banging all possible situations that he didn’t hear her speak out.
Maybe I can apologize by getting her that CD she always wanted.
Will she forgive me if I get her an autographed photo of Keanu Reeves?
Maybe I can get her to change her mind if I grovel at her feet.
He snapped out of it, looking up desperately at Dara whose veins were showing.
She smiled at him. Tom’s heartbeat rose, hoping, dreading.
She yawned again, closing her eyes and pulling her head back. She smacked her lips at him and gave him a sleepy smile.
“Did you know that the side effects of a flu shot include weakness and a headache?”
Tom blinked at this, staring at her silently. It took a moment for him to assess her comment. After processing her words, his lips began to smile.
“And fever, colds, soreness around the area and sore throat?”
He took slow steps towards her and leaned against her still closed door, hovering over her again. Dara emitted another loud yawn and leaned her forehead on his chest, tracing her fingers around his tummy. They were silent, drinking in each other’s form as they stood there, not saying anything, listening again to everything, including the beating of their hearts.
He leaned down and looked at her at eye level, his smirk not disappearing. “So you’re tired?”
Dara smiled and shook her head. “Not yet. I will be in a few hours.”
Tom could feel his insides laughing, teasing him for jumping to conclusions because of her reaction. He really should learn more about Dara’s crazy antics.
It was time to talk to her brother Adrian again. Adrian understood Dara as if he made her.
“But…” another yawn. “I am very VERY sleepy.”
“How can you be sleepy but not tired?”
“Have you ever gone to bed at night, not really feeling fatigued?”
“Yes I have.”
“That’s what I’m feeling. I need to close my eyes because they are closing unwillingly.”
“Ehehehe, I think we can blame your overreaction at the clinic.”
“Don’t sound so high and mighty you, it was a normal evasive reaction. The nurse said so.”
“Did you see how he tried to control his laughter?”
“Yes I did, and it was fun playing both of you with the over exaggeration.”
“So you really weren’t afraid of the needle?”
“I am, but I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself.”
“So you were just playing with my affection.”
Dara shrugged. “It worked didn’t it?”
Tom rolled his eyes playfully at her, pinching her nose as she squealed. The girl was a trickster and always will be. He opened the door to her apartment and she led him in, speaking out loud about watching a movie, having tea and then discussing what she can do for a lesson on community helpers next week. She also reminded him of his promise of ‘anything she wanted’, and she wanted the Steam Powered Giraffe CD.
Tom didn’t mind the chaos.
It was a chaos he welcomed
And had a hand at as well.
The next day…
One new message from Tom
Hey Luke, you’ll have to go through that producer meeting without me. Apparently, I developed a fever due to a flu shot I had yesterday. Send me the details so I can look over them. Many thanks.
One new message from Amber
Adrian, you’re going to have to go to Crystal’s birthday party without me. Tom developed the flu because of that DAMN flu shot and I’m taking care of him. I told him not to get it but nooooo~. Send Crystal my love. Thanks bro.