Deimos curled himself into a tight ball, trying and failing to stop shivering. It was doing nothing to drive away the persistant chill in his bones, despite the comfortable room temperature and the extra thermal blanket medical had sent him back to his bunk with.
According to the MO, Deimos had managed to develop bronchitis; even in deep space, opportunistic infections would never cease to plague humanity. He gave him some pills for the fever and cough and an injection that was supposed to have him on the way to recovery within a few hours, and sent him home to get some rest. Deimos felt a little better now that the cough had subsided, but he couldn't seem to beat the stubborn chills. Even taking a brief but scalding shower hadn't kept them at bay for long.
He was considering going back to medical to ask for something to knock him unconscious when the door opened and Phobos came in. They didn't bother to greet one another as Phobos shed his boots and gathered his sleepwear from his dresser drawer. He headed for the bathroom while Deimos pretended to be asleep.
Deimos decided he was too tired to walk anywhere and succumbed to the shivers instead, hoping that exhaustion would set in soon and allow him to sleep. He listened to the soft sound of running water from the bathroom, willing his mind to drift and his body to relax.
He was shifting around trying to find a more comfortable position when Phobos climbed up the ladder to his bunk, tablet in hand, and settled himself in. Phobos hadn't turned on the room lights, happy enough with the nightlight shining through the open bathroom door, so Deimos could take refuge in the darkness.
He vaguely remembered a time years ago, when he was a child, when he'd felt chilled to the bone like this despite a warm bed. It was when they still lived in the rural zone of their little Mars colony, in the first house he could remember. He'd picked up some stubborn illness and his mother had fed him bitter medicine and hot chicken soup and buried him under piles of blankets. He'd been such a scrawny little boy, small for his age despite being mostly strong and healthy. Even curled up in so much warmth, with his belly full of soup and love, he still shivered-until his mother sent the family's two cats in to see him.
He couldn't remember their names now-they'd both died of old age when he was still very young, before they'd moved to the city-but one of them had curled up behind his knees and settled his warm weight against him. The other had nudged her head at the edge of the covers until she could burrow beneath them, and crawled in. With both of them snugged up close to him, purring steadily and spreading their ample body heat, he'd finally started to feel warm. They'd stayed with him until he fell asleep and for a long while after, content to lie with him and share their comfort.
Unfortunately, the Sleipnir had no ship's cat, so Deimos would have to make do on his own. Space was cold and uncaring, with little room for the soft warm things. A little mouse like Deimos would only be a tasty snack for a cat anyway, he mused, his thoughts blessedly beginning to blur.
The blue glow from above him blinked off as Phobos powered his tablet down. Deimos shifted around some more, having a hard time getting comfortable.
A few minutes later, a harsh exhalation of breath came from above.
"I'm never going to be able to sleep if you don't stop tossing around."
Phobos sounded peevish and irritated, same as ever. Deimos didn't reply, feeling himself to be in no condition for a silent sparring match with his irascible navigator. He resigned himself to settle into a half-curled position and stay still, but then he heard the ladder creak.
Phobos was climbing down in his tank top and shorts, pillow and blanket in hand. Deimos supposed he was about to head off to bed down with his boyfriend, too impatient to deal with Deimos and his disturbances. He jumped in surprise when Phobos threw the blanket over him.
"Shove over." Phobos was pulling at Deimos' blankets, and Deimos turned to glare at him, to less effect than he would have liked thanks to the dim lighting.
Phobos might have caught a look at his expression, because he rolled his eyes in return, nudging at Deimos' back with his knee.
"I can hear your teeth chattering from up there. You're shaking the whole damned bunk. Move the hell over already, I'm coming in, the Commander won't like it if you freeze to death. Ugh, God, you're so bony-"
Meanwhile Phobos was arranging their bodies to his liking, yanking and shoving at Deimos with a rough sort of affection that caught him completely off guard. He was suprised and drowsy enough to acquiesce, until Phobos was satisfied and drew the blankets tight around both of them. He'd curled himself up around Deimos' slightly smaller body, chest against Deimos' back with an arm thrown around his waist, shins resting together.
Deimos couldn't help jumping a little when Phobos jammed his forehead into the back of his shoulder. Phobos snorted in response.
"Maybe now you'll stop rattling. Now hold still and go the fuck to sleep. Don't breathe on me, I don't want what you have. And don't fucking get hard either."
Deimos' cutting glare might have worked if Phobos hadn't had his closed eyes tucked between the pillows and Deimos' back.
Deimos relaxed slowly, unused to the sensation of being in bed with someone, being held. Phobos was steady against his back, arms and legs heavy but comfortable where they pressed against him, his body heat spreading rapidly through their thin cotton clothes.
And then a few minutes later Phobos' breathing was deep and even, and Deimos didn't feel cold any more.
He allowed a small smile to curl across his lips, already slipping away into warmth and security amid the steady rhythm of Phobos' breath.
Maybe the Sleipnir had a cat for him after all.