"You," she sniffed and wiped ineffectually at her nose with a tissue, "are a pain in the ass."
He smiled, "you're only saying that because you're sick and hate it and need to take it out on someone."
She glared at him, "also 'cause it's true."
Likely he was just mollifying her but he did nod and repeat dutifully, "also because it's true."
Thus appeased, she turned her attention back to scowling and rubbing at the back of her neck, "feels like a damn rock," she muttered.
"I'm telling you, you could let me-"
She tossed one of her wadded up tissues at him, "fat lot of good you'd do."
A too-charming smile was her answer, "you never know till you do it."
"Don't you mean try?"
"Don't you think if I did I would have said so?"
"Mmmm," she went back to rubbing, this time on the other side of her neck. And apparently, he had no further comment, remaining silent. That should have been her first warning. But having a cold was hardly conducive to one's mental abilities so she let out a startled noise when a warm hand covered her own.
"I said," his voice sounded very close to her ear now, "let me do it." Maybe she tried to open her mouth to protest and maybe he put up a finger to forestall anything she might say. "Just let me do my work, dearling."
Slowly, she let her hand come down to her lap, he made a pleased sound and began massaging her neck and shoulders. His hands were strong and his fingers capable, he obviously knew exactly what he was doing as he carefully rubbed away tension. He didn't tell her to relax, knowing that to speak of the thing would merely draw her attention to how not-relaxed she was. She'd try too hard. She always did.
No, instead, he started telling her a story with no defineable beginning, middle, or end. It simply was as it meandered along, the sort of story that had lulled stronger souls than hers into rest. As he spun out the threads of the story, so to did the knots in her shoulders and neck unravel, so to did she slowly allow him to draw her down into sleep.
It was, he reflected, a good thing she'd been already sitting on the bed when he'd begun.