doom magnet
march 10, 2021 — march bingo scene — gigi stanich & theo tate

It started out of nowhere, but wasn't that how these things went? Slight changes that were easy to miss because on their own they didn't mean anything. Besides, there was all this new stuff going on — with the shifts, and powers, and time missing from her life and memory. When Gigi woke up sore on her birthday, body aching and tired, head pounding, it was easy to chalk up to what happened during the shift. Theo had been in bad shape too, so she knew something big had gone on that week. An easy explanation for how she felt, followed by a big hangover from the party, then Morgan’s party, and no wonder it was taking her a good long time to recover, right?

But it wasn't going away, that ache deep in her bones. She wasn't getting less tired, even when she tried to balance with caffeine and getting more sleep. Gigi was so focused on trying to fix every little piece that she didn’t zoom out and see the bigger picture. That and she didn’t want to, so maybe not acknowledging it would make it go away. Or everything would resolve on its own and it’d be okay, and there wouldn’t have been a panic all over nothing.

It didn’t resolve. It didn’t even get better, it only got worse, and to the point where Gigi couldn’t ignore it anymore. Not that she wanted to admit it, to think of what it could mean, but pretending wasn’t making things better and wouldn’t make it go away. She didn’t want to call her dad, not when he was on the other side of the country and wouldn’t be able to do anything but worry, and he had enough to worry about with his job. When she knew anything for sure, then she’d call.

Not that she wanted to put it on anyone, but she also didn’t want to be alone. So when she heard the door, Nyx perking up from her spot beside her on the bed, she carefully got up and left her room in search of her cousin. “Theo?”

While Gigi battled exhaustion and anxiety, Theo's days were filled mostly with joy and excitement, the usual warmth and giddiness that came with the beginnings of a new relationship. Not new, really — old, but still new in its own way, a valuable thing that Theo held close to his chest where he nurtured every thought, memorized every smile he earned from Kit. There were other things, of course — things to worry about, things to deal with, things that made him feel bad. His body had been in worse shape than usual after the last week of lost time, and hadn't healed as fast as it had begun to — something, maybe, due to the time loop his other self had been through, though Peter didn't know the details.

Nonetheless, by the time he was arriving home then, he was without bruises and feeling back to his normal self, without sore muscles or exhaustion and the need for some sleep and too much tylenol. He set his backpack down in its usual place, so he could go through it later and make sure he hadn't forgotten anything at work, and was making his way down the hall towards the bathroom so he could shower off after his bike ride home when he heard Gigi's voice. He turned and smiled, dropping down a little to give Nyx a scratch and a rub along her face, and then tilted his head up to Gigi as she entered the living room.

"Hey!" He said, and the smile on his face faded just a little at the look on hers. Something cold twisted in his stomach. "You okay?"

Admitting it to herself was one thing, and it had been difficult enough to do that. Saying the actual words out loud, admitting it to someone else, that made it real. The thought of telling Theo made her stomach turn, even more unsettled and feeling like something was bubbling up inside her. Throwing up on Theo was also something she wanted to avoid as much as possible. But he knew — or at least he knew something, she could see it in his face, his eyes.

"I'm... I don't feel good," Gigi started carefully, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt, worrying it between her fingers. Was she being ridiculous? What if this was nothing? It took her longer to recover from normal things, she knew she was immunocompromised, so maybe this was that and she was about to make things worse over absolutely nothing? Give it a few more days, see if it works itself out, that could work and not be a bother or scare for anyone. "Actually..." She forced a smile, giving a shake of her head. "Nevermind. It's okay, I'll be fine."

It was a very, very rare occasion that Theo saw Gigi and she wasn't smiling. Laughing, beaming, teasing him about something, being supportive and friendly and bright — this wasn't like her, not at all. The smile had dropped from his face completely now, and Theo's mind raced. I don't feel good, she'd said, and he felt a new sense of cold fear clutching at his heart. It tightened his chest entirely, but the last thing he knew Gigi needed was to see panic flooding Theo's face. Instead, he carefully turned away from the bathroom — a shower could wait, and it didn't matter that he was sweaty.

That forced smile and her attempt to brush it away earned Gigi a sympathetic look, but Theo was already crossing over towards her, his hands out, ready to pull her into an — unfortunately damp — hug. "Hey, hey, stop. Yeah, okay, you'll be fine, that's great. Why don't you feel good?" He pulled away enough so he could search her features. "Do you feel sick?" Maybe it was just the flu. Maybe she'd just come down with something, and he could ask Rowan to borrow her car and drive Gigi to the doctor. Make her some soup and hopefully not fuck it up, or ask Kit to come over and make her some soup.

"You can talk to me, Gigi." Theo added, his voice soft.

All she really wanted to do was curl up into that hug, sweaty as it was, and stay there for awhile. But it also made it more difficult to push her thoughts back, hide them away in the recesses of her mind where she could ignore them for the time being. Instead, they were poking and prodding at her, wanting her to give them a voice and let Theo in, but it was hard. Not just because it would be admitting to them, but because the thought of saying any of it out loud — she didn't want to cry, and she knew she would.

"I don't feel good," she repeated quietly, gaze focused on a spot on Theo's shirt because maybe it would be easier to talk to his shirt then look him in the eye. "I think I'm sick."

That she wouldn't meet his gaze made the cold flooding through Theo grow with more sharp intensity, and when he drew enough away that he could see her face, he froze again. Theo took a slow, deep breath, one hand rubbing circles into her shoulder, trying to bring a little bit of reassuring ease to her, if he could, a little bit of something to encourage her to talk to him. Theo was a good listener, useless at prying if he could tell the other person didn't want to talk about it — but he couldn't let up this time, not when the fear was palpable growing between them.

When Gigi answered him finally, I think I'm sick didn't sound like she just had a cold, or the flu. But Theo couldn't be one hundred percent sure what she meant until he clarified — and part of him didn't want to know what she meant.

"Sick how?" He moved one hand up to her forehead, pressing the back of it there. "You do feel a little warm. Did you take your temperature? Should I take you to urgent care?"

It just didn't make any sense. She hadn't done anything wrong, she'd followed what all the doctors told her to do — but it wasn't like cancer played by any kind of rules or had to make sense. It'd come out of nowhere the first time, so there was no reason to think it would be different if it came around again. Gigi tried to focus on the way Theo was rubbing her shoulder, something to try and ground to. Theo was there, she wasn't alone, even if she didn't want him to feel like he had to help — but it was Theo, he'd want to help, she just felt bad about it.

"I think I'm, like, sick sick," she whispered, arms curling around her stomach, fingers twisting into her shirt at her sides. It felt so stupid to say, because she was tired and achy? People were tired and achy all the time. This felt different, though. She could feel it was different. "I'm not trying to, you know, panic or jump to any kind of conclusion but it feels like, um, bad, you know?"

Theo's blood went cold in his body, another sharp rush that flooded through him and clung this time. He didn't want to let it show on his face — the panic, the way the color began to drain from it, his mind already racing far ahead — what they had to do, who they had to call, how they had to tackle this as quickly as they possibly could. He nodded instead, trying to maintain an air of confident calm for Gigi. If she was feeling bad enough to tell him this, he was taking it deeply seriously, and knew she needed him now to be the strong one.

"It's not panicking." He murmured, reassuring — as much as he could, anyway. Carefully, Theo moved, guiding her towards the couch so they could both sit on the edge of it. He moved to fetch his phone from his backpack, not yet moving to call anyone but ready to do so if Gigi allowed it. "Okay." Theo said, still running through the facts, and the realization of what it all meant.

"No panicking. We're gonna handle this." He said, sure, just a little horrified shake in his voice that he was trying to hold back. "First thing is we need to get an appointment for you. Right? I can call your doctor. Set it up. They'll be able to tell us for sure."

Gigi let him move her over to the couch, sitting down and automatically uncurling from herself when Nyx followed along, sitting in front of her and resting her chin on Gigi's knees. She absently scratched behind the dog's ears, finding that much easier and better to focus on than anything else. What if she'd jinxed things getting Nyx in the first place, as a remission anniversary gift to herself? But she'd thought things had been good, and they had been. She laced her fingers into the fur of Nyx's neck and looked over to Theo when he started talking again.

He was scared, she could tell, just like she could tell he was trying so hard not to be — or at least not show it. She worried at the inside of her lower lip, wishing she could make it better but knowing she couldn't. "Yeah, um, my doctor at UCSF? She should... know what to do. Or what I should do." Gigi reached over, taking Theo's hand and holding it tightly. "I'm sorry."

As Nyx settled in against Gigi, Theo gazed a little sadly at the dog — but glad, too, that Gigi had found her, so she would have someone for support while Theo was at work, or while he was out. He took in a deep breath, glancing up again as Gigi's hand found his own, and he shot a gentle smile her way. "Hey, shut up." He said softly, disentangling their hands again so he could lean in, wrapping his arm around her slender shoulders again so he could tuck her into another one-armed hug. Theo buried his face against Gigi's hair for a moment, just taking that time to steel himself, and when he drew away again it was with a determined look on his face.

"There's no way to know until we talk to your doc, right? So we'll do that first. No worrying, not yet, okay? And if it's what you think it is — you beat it once already." Theo's cheeks had grown a little blotchy with restrained emotion, but he was keeping it together — just by a thread. "You'll beat it again. Do you want me to call anyone else? Or just the doctor, first?"

That was what broke her, really, the way Theo hugged her in against him and just sat there with her. Gigi had been doing so good up until then, but she couldn't keep that tight grip on her emotions when she was leaning in against him, feeling his support both physically and otherwise. She wanted to curl up right there, be a tiny little ball of a person tucked in against Theo's side where he made her feel like maybe things could be okay. For the moment, all she could do was quickly rub her hand over her eyes to try and get rid of the tears that had started to push their way out.

"You can't tell my dad," she said quickly, swallowing hard and trying to look as serious as she could when really she was teetering on the edge of falling apart. "He — you can't tell him, okay?" If it was real, if it was happening again, she'd tell him but only once she knew for sure. There was no reason to throw his world into that place again if it wasn't real. "I don't... there's no one else to call." No one else she wanted to tangle up in this, she hadn't even wanted to do that to Theo but she knew she needed him, even if she felt awful about it. "Just my doctor. You don't have to call, I can--" she paused, taking a second to evaluate and be honest, even if it made her feel worse. "No, I can't. I can't call them, I can't say, I can't."

His own barely restrained emotion was cracking at the seams the worse Gigi got, the more she struggled to keep it together. He couldn't let it go, not when she was valiantly doing her best — even if tears had started to well up in her eyes, and Theo knew without a doubt that if the dam broke he would be useless to fight against it too. He took in a sharp inhale through his nose, a tensing in his chest to just — hold it — just for a little longer, as he listened to her requests. Theo nodded, took it in, palmed his phone in his hand and swiped it to unlock it, preparing to call even before Gigi had decided that she wouldn't be capable of it herself.

"I got it. I got you." Theo said, one hand still on Gigi's shoulder. He needed to rip the bandaid off — contact the doctor, get a booking, do the organization for her, and then she could cry and they could cry and he could put on a movie to distract them, unless her doctor could get her in sooner than that, — Theo's mind raced. He gave her shoulder a squeeze and rose, patting the spot that he'd left with a quick, "Nyx, up," that the dog followed through on without hesitation, her tail wagging and head tucking into Gigi's lap.

Theo paced while he dialled, and disappeared into his room to make the call — and to change out of his sweaty clothes. He returned a few minutes later, having taken the moment between hanging up and returning to Gigi to steel himself. "They said they can fit you in first thing in the morning. I'll borrow Rowan's car and come with you, okay?"

Gigi tried to focus on her dog when Theo went off to call, how velvety soft her ears were, the weight of her big head in her lap, but no matter how hard she tried it was quickly engulfed by fear, all those what ifs speaking over everything else. She wanted to go back to bed, sleep as long as she could and hope when she woke up she felt even a little bit better. Those thoughts, those questions pinging around in her head wouldn't turn off just because she crawled beneath the covers and wished them too, though. She'd already tried that.

By the time Theo got back, she'd shifted down to be tucked between Nyx and the back of the couch, using the dog's side as a pillow. She could hear the gurgling of her stomach, a weird sound but at least something to compete with her head. Biting at the inside of her lip, she looked up at him, kind of ready for the worst — like maybe they couldn't fit her in anytime soon, or they thought she was making it up, or this was normal and she should just get used to feeling like crap. Rational? No, she knew it wasn't, but it didn't stop the thoughts from appearing.

First thing in the morning. That wasn't bad, it wasn't far away, it was just one more sleep and then maybe getting some answers. "Okay," she whispered, burying her face in against Nyx's fur briefly before looking up at him again. "Thank you."

Theo wiggled his way into a spare spot on the couch, up by Gigi's head, so both she and Nyx could lie against him where he ended up tucked against the edge of the arm of the couch and the two of them. He reached out, draping an arm across Gigi, squeezing her shoulder gently, before he sent his hand over to the back of the couch so he could grab the remote to flick the television on. "It's okay." He answered, voice soft, and turned a smile down at Gigi. "Let's just... I can put on a movie, yeah? Something distracting? Or you could just nap here. I'll order take out. Whatever you feel like eating tonight, okay? We'll get it."

He reached over to give her another tight squeeze, leaning down a little so he could rest his head against her shoulder, folded on the couch around her and Nyx. Quietly, Theo held back another resurgence of worry and panic and emotion, but felt that he could speak since she couldn't see his face. "I promise it'll be okay, Gigi. Promise." He knew it wasn't his promise to make, not necessarily — but, hell, he'd time traveled, he and Reed had built a time machine. He'd do anything to keep Gigi safe.