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"It's called orb sickness."

Paige lifted her head from her arms long enough to glare at Leo. Then, she lurched forward to throw up into the toilet, retching miserably. The heaving continued even after she had nothing left in her stomach, and when she was done, her back and stomach hurt so much she wanted to curl up in a tiny ball. But she didn't have the energy to move.

"I feel like I'm dying," she rasped out, when she thought she could safely talk. "Why can't you heal me?"

"Because it's not an actual illness, per se," Leo hedged. "You were already run down because you've been pushing yourself and not sleeping-" he shot her a pointed look that she chose to ignore, "and you haven't given yourself a chance to get back to full strength. Orbing takes even more of your energy, until you're tapping your magical core to do it. Drain enough energy, and you make yourself physically ill."

"That's not an answer," Paige told him.

Leo sighed. "I can't heal you because there's nothing to heal," he replied. "There's no virus in your system, no physical wounds, nothing for my healing to affect. You just need to let yourself rest, and get your strength back."

"Right," Paige muttered. "I'll just tell the demons we've gone on vacation. That should solve all our problems."

"Paige, you can't take all of this on yourself." Leo sounded frustrated, like he had every time he'd mentioned how tired she'd looked over the last couple of weeks. Paige idly wondered if she would have done anything differently if she'd known that this would be the result. Probably not.

"Phoebe is stressed beyond belief with everything that's going on with Cole," she told Leo. "She doesn't need anything else on her plate, right now. And the last thing I'm going to do is ask my pregnant sister to put her unborn baby at risk fighting demons."


Paige didn't even let Leo finish. "Consider it an early Christmas present."

"We haven't even hit Thanksgiving, yet," Leo pointed out.

Paige ignored him in favor of pushing herself up on unsteady legs. She wobbled as she tried to find her balance, but she didn't fall over, and she was going to consider that one a win. Her stomach had tentatively settled for the moment, and she slowly made her way to the bathroom door. Leo was blocking the doorway, but he moved out of her way after a moment.

Paige stumbled past him and down the hallway toward the stairs. She made it down the stairs in on piece, and then she headed for the kitchen. The ginger ale she'd been nursing all morning was still sitting on the counter, and she took a tentative sip, and then a larger one when her stomach didn't immediately rebel. She'd been working on a potion before the nausea struck, and the sour smell coming from the saucepan almost made her want to get sick, again. She didn't even have to look inside to know that the potion was completely ruined.

Paige scowled as she dumped the burned potion in the trash. Turning the burner on low to keep from setting the kitchen on fire, she pulled more ingredients out of the cupboards and started working, again. She'd just started slicing another ginger root when Leo's hand dropped over hers, stilling the knife. She whipped her head around to stare at him, but before she could protest, he'd gently pulled the knife from her embarrassingly-shaky grip and shouldered her out of the way.

"You need to rest," Leo told her, before she could say anything.

"I need to get those potions done," Paige protested.

She tried to orb the knife out of his hand and back into her own, but the knife flickered into orbs for a second and then reformed still in Leo's hand. He shot her a wordless, knowing look.

"I'll do it," Leo replied, calmly.

Paige could only stare at him. "…What?"

"You go rest. I've got this." Leo took over the slicing with a surprising efficiency.

"Where did you learn to use a knife like that?" Paige managed, getting a chuckle from Leo.

"Field medic in the army," he reminded her. "I wielded my fair share of scalpels during the War. If you're not going to rest, would you at least sit down?" He shot her a sharp look, raising an eyebrow in the direction of one of the chairs.

Paige sank into a chair, resting her heels on the highest rung and leaning forward on her knees. A bottle of water was thunked down on the table beside her, and Paige unscrewed the cap and took a hefty swallow before Leo had to goad her into it. Toast followed, and Paige shot Leo a suspicious look, but he'd turned his attention back to the potion to keep it from spoiling. The protest died in her throat as she nibbled at the toast.

"Why are you making potions for me?" she finally asked.

"Because I'm your Whitelighter, and I'm supposed to protect you," Leo told her. "Even from yourself, sometimes." Shooting her a grin, he added, "Just consider this an early Christmas present."
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December 2013

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