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Sick of Being on the Road

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“Hey, how far is it to the next rest stop?”

Danneel looked up from the book of roadside attractions so she could answer her husband, "Um, looks like it’s about ...twenty minutes.” She leaned over and ran a hand through Jensen’s short hair, “Need a break?” 

Jensen rolled his shoulders and shrugged, “Nah, I’m okay. But they might?” 

Danneel twisted in her seat so she could see the kids in the back. JJ was lounging in the back with her headphones on while watching a movie. Tom was sitting next to her playing on the iPad. Zeppelin and Odette were snoozing away in the middle row. She smiled and turned back around so she could get back to the guide. She was trying to find something to do after they arrived late in the afternoon. It wouldn’t take long to unpack and settle into the cabins and although the four adults would want to relax with a glass of wine on the porch, the kids would be full of energy after being cooped up in the car all day. 

“I suppose you have a point. I’ll let Gen know we’re going to stop. We can see if anyone wants to switch while we’re there.” 

Jensen hummed to let his wife know he was listening. She reached her hand into the door pocket and hit the button to turn on the walkie talkie. The static was louder than either of them expected and Danneel winced before turning the knob to lower the volume. 

“Mama Bear? Come in, Mama Bear.” She sat back while waiting for a response. 

“Wildcat? This is Mama Bear. I copy.” 

“We’re going to pull off at the next rest stop so Jay can stretch his legs. Kids can take a bathroom break too.” 

“Copy that. Jared looks pretty ready to stop. We’ll see you there.” 

“Copy that, Wildcat out.” Danneel set the walkie-talkie back down and picked up her book while Jensen yawned and took a sip of Mountain Dew. Normally Jensen would drink water while driving or coffee, but it was hovering right at 104 outside and he was exhausted. He and Jared had been doing press all weekend before hopping on a plane to come home and jump in the car. The girls had been planning the trip since they announced it would be the final season of Supernatural and there was no way either man would risk the wrath of his wife by ruining the schedule. Which was why Jensen had been hiding how off he had been feeling since they stopped for lunch. The kids enjoyed having a chance to run around while the parents got the cooler out and prepared the meal. He had managed to pop a few Tums when no one was looking, but the antacids hadn’t helped as much as he had been hoping. 

Danneel waved until Tom put the Ipad down and JJ removed her headphones. “Guys, we’re going to stop pretty soon for a little break so I need you to put your shoes on and put your things away, please.” 

Tom leaned down to slip his sandals back on while JJ paused the movie and tucked her headphones back into her backpack. They chatted while Danneel woke the younger kids up. Jensen adjusted his ball cap and stifled a quiet burp into his fist. 

“Daddy, how much longer do we have?” 

Jensen met his eldest daughter’s eyes in the rearview mirror and answered honestly, “About three or four hours. You guys doing okay back there?” JJ nodded with a sigh. 

“Do we have any snacks? I’m hungry.” Usually, Jensen would chuckle and joke with her, but right now just the thought of food was making him nauseous. Thankfully, Danneel chose that moment to join the conversation. 

“Justice Jay. You know very well that we have snacks. You helped me pack them this morning. Now please put your shoes on.” 

“Yeah, but I didn’t know if we had any left!” 

“We have plenty left. You each can have one when we stop.” 

Jensen thanked the Lord when he saw the sign for the rest area. His stomach was churning horribly. As they pulled into the lot, Danneel unbuckled her seatbelt so she could crawl into the back and convince her son to put his shoes on. Jensen noticed that Thomas was bouncing in his seat and cursed under his breath. If the kid had to go that bad, Jensen was going to have to hold on even longer. He had no desire to get sick in front of any of the Padackles children. 

He pulled the large SUV into a stall near the sidewalk and had to quickly remind everyone to stay buckled in their seats until the car actually stopped. Of course, JJ had to point out that Danneel had gotten out of her seat while they were still on the road, so why did the others have to wait? 

“JJ, enough. Your mother is an adult, you’re a child. I’m not going to argue with you.” Jensen tried to focus on taking nice even breaths as he walked around the car and opened the back doors. “Alright, let’s go. Everyone out.” 

Tom pushed by JJ to hop out first. She huffed and scowled as she followed. While Danneel unbuckled Odette, Jensen grabbed his son. A few spots over the Padalecki van pulled in. Arrow came rushing over to see her brother while Genevieve and Shep went around to speak with Danneel. Jared stood and stretched his sore muscles. The van was for Genevieve so when Jared drove it, he usually ended up with leg cramps and tight muscles. 

Thomas, who had already finished in the restroom, stood next to Jared while everyone else stretched and chatted. The wives led the kids towards the bathrooms while Jensen and Jared hung back. Jared chuckled at the sight of two women trying to corral six children and then walked over to the other man. Jensen was hunched over slightly while still gripping the door handle. 

“Jen? You okay?” Now that the girls were out of earshot, he preferred to use Jensen’s nickname. Jensen swallowed hard and shook his head, one hand moving to rest on his stomach. “Oh...shit. Okay, c ‘mon. I gotcha.” 

Jared wrapped his arm around Jensen’s shoulders and led him away from the cars. He wasn’t sure they would make it to the bathroom and there was a trash can right there , but he knew Jensen would be humiliated if he got sick in public. Danneel jogged over when they were about twenty feet from the door. Jensen’s body jerked and he broke out of Jared’s hold so he could shoulder the door open. Before he could follow, Danneel called out. 

“Jared! What’s going on? Is Jay sick?” 

He turned around so he could answer her, “I think so. He couldn’t tell me though.” 

“Of course! Because we couldn’t have one nice relaxing vacation before you guys go back to work…” She huffed and crossed her arms before glancing over her shoulder at Genevieve and the kids. She didn’t have to say anything, Jared knew. 

“Go. Gen looks like she could use a little help. I’ve got Jen...sen.” Danneel raised a curious eyebrow, then thanked him and hurried back over to the kids. Jared sighed and pushed a hand through his unruly mop. That was too close. 

For years it had been rumored that Jared and Jensen were a bit closer than 'brothers'. They stood a little too close, shared too many experiences, knew each other too well. Fans, as well as the media, were always searching for signs of more. They wanted Padackles to be real. They wanted J-squared to be more than best buddies. The boys had done a good job keeping their relationship from the public for the most part. They only touched when and where it was appropriate and they never got caught being intimately alone. 

The only really sticky issue was the fact that they were both married. Don’t get them wrong though, they loved their wives. Danneel was feisty and strong, a perfect complement to Jensen’s sarcastic humor and somewhat-gruff demeanor. Jared and Genevieve shared a lot of the same interests and valued their family above all else. They both loved to laugh and weren’t afraid to just be themselves. Though they loved their chosen partners, they also shared a very deep, complicated connection with each other.

Jared shook his head and walked into the bathroom. This was definitely not the time for self-reflection or wishful thinking. Jensen had been feeling bad for a while if the sounds echoing in the small room were anything to go by. Jared gently knocked on the stall door and waited. 

“J--Jare?” 

“Yeah, can I come in?” 

Jensen didn’t manage an answer before his stomach rebelled. Jared took that as a yes and pushed the door open to find his best friend leaning over the toilet as he threw up. Jensen had one hand against the brick wall and the other on the seat as his body painfully rejected his breakfast and lunch. 

“Shhh, just breathe…” Jared shushed him and rubbed his back. He could feel the muscles jerking under Jensen’s tee-shirt and cringed. It wasn’t like he hadn’t done this before. As costars and best friends, they had spent many a sick night together, not to mention the number of times one of them had gotten sick on set. 

As Jensen coughed over the dirty water, they heard the door open and two sets of footsteps enter the men’s room. Jensen immediately started trying to hold back the heaves. He hated getting sick in public. It was embarrassing to be the guy puking his guts out while someone else takes care of business and then hurries to leave. Jared cocked his head and listened. 

“Okay, Zep. You can go and I’ll wait right here.” 

“No, that’s gross. I don’t wanna go in there.” 

“You told Aunt Danneel that you had to go, Zep.” 

“I do…” 

“Then go. We’re gonna leave once Uncle Jensen and Daddy get back.” Jared smiled at the frustration evident in his son’s voice. Thomas was the oldest of the bunch so whenever Gen and Danni couldn’t leave, he was asked to help out. 

Thomas sighed, “Why not?” 

Just as Zeppelin mumbled his answer, Jensen pitched forward and release a torrent of vomit into the bowl. Jared surged forward to support him. 

“That’s why! ‘Cause there’s someone else here…” 

“Zep. We can’t go back out there and tell them that you didn’t wanna go because someone was getting sick in the bathroom at the same time.” 

“But it’s gross!” 

“Hey, that’s not very nice. Maybe he’s not feeling well or maybe he’s like Shep and he gets sick in the car sometimes.” 

 

Jensen coughed hard bringing up bile. He spat several times to clear his mouth and then tore a length of toilet paper off so he could blow his nose. 

In the next stall, Jared heard the sound of Zeppelin giving in and poked his head out to get Thomas’s attention, “Tom, can you please go get Danni.” 

Tom, who had been shocked to see his dad in the stall, nodded. Zeppelin flushed and walked out. The older boy lifted him so he could wash his hands and then hurried out so he could get Aunt Danni. Jared turned his attention back to the sick man leaning against the wall. 

“You okay?” 

Jensen lifted his head to reveal bloodshot eyes and a tear-stained face. Jared’s heart broke and he opened his arms wide so Jensen could rest against him. Jared brushed his hand across Jensen’s forehead and frowned, “Well, you don’t have a fever, so it must be something you ate.” 

Jensen belched and pushed away to gag over the toilet. “Could you--” he panted and fought to slow his breathing, “--not mention food... please?” 

“Jared? You in here?” Danneel’s flip flops echoed as she entered the restroom. Jared stepped out of the stall after easing Jensen onto the floor so he could talk to Danneel. 

“Dan, he’s really sick. I don’t know what you ladies had planned for today, but we need to get him to the hotel and into bed.” 

“Yeah, we kind of figured when you guys didn’t come back out. Is he gonna be okay in the car? We still have three hours before we make it…” 

“I’ll ride with him. You girls can have the van and we’ll take the SUV.” 

“What about the kids? We can’t have all of them in the van. Luggage takes up at least one seat. Which leaves only four. Shep, and who else? 

Jared thought about it as he walked over to the sink. He grabbed a couple of paper towels and wet them before answering her, “ How ‘bout we take JJ and Tom with us. They won’t be as bothered by him getting sick as the younger ones.” 

Danneel nodded and frowned at her husband where he was leaned against the wall. Jared handed her the wet rag.

“I’m going to go grab him a new shirt and help move stuff into the van. Yell if you need anything.” She smiled at him as he left, then entered the stall and crouched down next to her sick husband. She ran her fingers through his sweaty hair and placed a kiss to his temple. 

“How are you feeling?” 

He leaned into her touch and sighed, “Like shit.” 

“Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling bad?” Danneel chuckled, “I swear, you’re as bad as the kids, Jay…” 

Her humor was lost on him though. He was too worn out and queasy to laugh. 

“Wasn’t till after lunch. Thought I was just run down.” She watched him grimace and swallow. 

“Jay?” 

“Mm?” He pressed a fist to his lips. 

“Feeling bad again?” She rested a hand on his arm and peered at his pale face. 

Jensen nodded and got to his knees. He positioned himself back over the bowl and gagged. Danneel kneeled next to him, rubbing his back. The heaves sounded painful, though they only brought up a few strands of yellow-tinged spit. 

She winced in sympathy each time his body tried and failed to force more up. “Oh, hon’…” 

 Jensen groaned and reached up to flush the toilet before lying his head on his arms. Something cool touched his arm, he raised his head. He accepted the bottle of water his wife held out and lifted it to his lips. He took a long drink, grateful for the coolness on his throat and liquid in his painfully empty belly. He handed it back to her when it rushed back up and he leaned over to spit it into the bowl. A deep belch ushered the rest of it up. As the heaving turned dry, he took another sip to rinse his mouth and then sat back. 

“Alright, Jen...how ‘bout we get you out of that shirt, huh? Then we can get you situated in the car.” Jensen groaned, he had no desire to get back in the car… 

Jared chuckled softly, “I know, dude, but once we get you in the car we can head out. Then we can get you in a nice soft bed and a private bathroom. What d’ya say?” 

Jensen managed a small smile and let Danneel lean him forward so Jared could ease the soiled t-shirt off and replace it with a new one. Danneel stepped back so that the boys could maneuver better in the small space as Jared helped Jensen off of the floor. He swayed and both of them rushed forward to steady him. 

“Easy, Jay…” 

“Nice and slow, dude. No need to hurry.” 

They helped him over to the row of sinks so he could wash up and then Jared pulled a toothbrush from his pocket and offered to him along with a tube of toothpaste. When he struggled to get the brush ready, Danneel reached over and took it from him. She squirted the minty gel onto the bristles and handed it back to Jensen. Jared removed the now-dry towels from her hands and re-dampened it under the water. He smoothed it over the other man’s neck and face while Danni helped him brush his teeth. Once Jensen was cleaned up, the only thing left to do was get him into the car.

Jared turned to Danneel and tried to hide the blush blooming in his cheeks. “Do you think you can walk with him? I uh, need a few minutes…” 

Danneel’s eyes widened and she opened her mouth to protest, “I don’t know if I can --” 

Surprisingly, Jensen was the one who cut her off, “Dee...Jared’s gotta go to the bathroom. We’ll make it.” He opened his eyes and yawned before facing Jared, “ I can walk.” 

Jared nodded to him and assured Danneel that he would only be five minutes… ten tops. She sighed before allowing her husband to lean against her for balance as they headed out. 

“Mama, is Daddy okay?” JJ fell into step next to the couple as Tom waited near the car.

“No, baby, he’s not. Daddy’s not feeling good--” 

“Well.” 

Jensen snorted at his daughter’s automatic correction. JJ was definitely his daughter. Danneel forced a tight-lipped smile,  “-- well . You and Tom are going to ride with Daddy and Uncle Jared while me and Aunt Mama take the--” 

“Aunt Mama and I…” 

Danneel took a deep breath before continuing, “Right. While Aunt Mama and I ride in the van with the other kids. Okay?” 

“Okay... Is he gonna get sick? Like Arrow did that one time when she threw up all over the backseat? That was pretty gross.” 

Jensen halted suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk. Danneel, who had been paying attention to JJ, stumbled before she realized what was happening and jumped into action. 

“JJ, go to the van. Make sure you have everything you and Tom need. We probably won’t stop again until we get to the cabin.” 

JJ’s eyes flicked to her father, who was now doubled over. Jensen’s body was shuddering next to his wife’s. Danneel knew he didn’t want their daughter to see him get sick. 

She raised her voice in order to get the young girl moving, “JJ! Go!” 

Her head snapped towards her mom’s voice. She nodded and then ran off to hurry Tom into the van and close the door. Jensen whirled towards the grass and spit out the mouthful of watery bile he had been holding back. Danneel grabbed his arm to try and keep him up and prayed that Jared would hurry. Just as her grip slipped, an arm wrapped around Jensen’s waist and hauled him back up. Danneel gave a sigh of relief, smiling softly at Jared and mouthing ‘thank you’.  

Jared spoke to her over Jensen, “You guys go on ahead. Once he’s done here, we’ll follow.” 

Danneel glanced warily at the man still coughing over the grass, “You sure?”

“Yeah. He’s almost done, and I can get him to the car. JJ and Tom ready to go?” Danneel nodded. “Good. I’ll get him situated in the front and then we’ll leave.” 

She hesitated for a few more minutes before gently kissing her husband’s shoulder and heading to the van where Genevieve and the kids were waiting. 

Jared helped Jensen stand back up then smoothed his hair back, resting his hand on the other man’s face for just a moment. 

“You good?”

Jensen sniffled and ran a hand over his face. Their hands only touched for a few seconds, but it was enough. 

“Yeah. Just wanna sleep…” 

“I know… you can sleep in the car on the way there.” 

Jensen nodded and leaned into Jared as they walked over to the car. Jared could see two anxious faces peeking out from the backseat and hoped the kids would do okay. He opened the passenger door and helped Jensen get in and buckled. Then he retrieved a pillow from the trunk and another water bottle from the cooler. Lastly, he grabbed the tissue box and roll of trash bags from the second row. He waited until Jensen had taken at least three sips, then set the tissues and trash bags on the floor within reach.  

Jared hopped into the driver’s seat and adjusted both the angle of the mirrors and the airflow before starting the car. He checked on the kids one last time, JJ and Tom were sitting in the middle row, one leaning against the window with their eyes closed while the other was listening to an iPod. He looked over at Jensen and smiled. The sick man was turned towards Jared with his head on the pillow and his arms crossed over his chest. With the car quiet and everyone comfortable for the moment, Jared had no choice but to pull out and merge back onto the highway.

Chapter Text

About two and a half hours later, Jared eased the car onto the shoulder. Jensen was still snoring softly in the passenger seat and the kids were quietly amusing themselves. He reached into the console and pulled out the walkie talkie. 

“Mama Bear? This is Papa Bear. Come in.” 

“This is Wildcat. Mama Bear is driving. How’s Jay doing?” 

Jared chuckled, “He’s fine, snoring away.”

“Good. So, what’s up?” 

“Well, I think we may have missed the turnoff... seems like we’ve been driving for quite a while.” 

“... I’ll consult the map and get back to you.”

“Copy that. Papa Bear out.” Jared set the walkie talkie down and opened the car door. He got out and stretched, seriously, he could not wait to lie down on a soft bed. He told the kids to stay in the car and then walked around to the trunk. He dug around until he unearthed two more water bottles and a bag of Cheetos. He spoke to the children while readjusting a fallen suitcase, “You guys want anything to snack on? Water? Anything?” 

“Um...Dad?” 

Jared didn’t even look up, just answered from the depths of the cooler where he was searching for the second can of Mountain Dew. “Yeah, buddy?” 

“Dad... I don’t think--” 

Jared’s head shot up. He focused in on Tom, trying to figure out what was wrong. The boy looked fine, a little tired and rumpled, but still healthy. Then he moved on to Jensen. Also fine, although pale and a little sweaty. Which meant…

“D-Daddy? I don’t f-feel good…” 

Jensen squinted and tried to remember what had happened. A lovely flip in his stomach was quick to remind him. When he heard his daughter’s shaky declaration, he turned around in his seat so he could speak directly to her. 

“What’s the matter, Jaybird?” 

She just whimpered and curled tighter into her seat. It finally registered to him how pale she was and suddenly both he and Jared leaped into action. 

“Thomas! Grab that bag on the floor for JJ!” Jared yelled while he rushed around to JJ’s door. At the same time, Jensen crawled into the back and shushed her, using his thumb to wipe away her tears. He knew that crying would only make it worse. 

Jensen accepted the bag Tom handed him and held it out to her just as Jared opened the door. The other man waited until Jensen had unbuckled her seatbelt and then lifted her out. He carried her over to the grass and eased her down onto her knees then kneeled beside her and smoothed her hair back into a loose ponytail. Back in the car, Thomas was looking worriedly between his sick friend and Jensen, wondering which one was going to blow first. 

Jensen, now back in the front seat, was leaning over one of the trash bags feeling sicker by the minute. His body had not appreciated his paternal instinct to rush back and help his little girl. The sudden movements caused his belly to slosh and nausea to reignite. He groaned, lifted the bag up further and warned Tom to put in his headphones. The boy’s eyes widened and he scrambled to get them out of his bag and onto his head as Jensen’s body began to jerk painfully with each cough. As the first stream of vomit hit the bag, he felt a small hand settle on his shoulder. 

***

Danneel was exhausted . It had been too many hours stuck in the car... with too many children. She swiveled in her seat to once again inform Zeppelin that no, he was not allowed to car surf...ever. No, she didn’t care that the man on the tv did it and it looked fun. It was dangerous (not to mention illegal) and there is no way, yes, even in a million years, that she would allow him to do that. The little angel of the Ackles family, Arrow, was getting on getting on her mother’s nerves even more than her brother. Usually, when the little girl spoke Spanish with her adorable toddler voice it was an ‘ aww ’ moment. But after hearing her daughter repeat the same two words over and over, Danneel was seriously considering firing their at-home nanny. 

“Nube, mama! Nube!” 

“Yes, sweetie. I see the cloud. There are lots of clouds in the sky today, huh?” Danneel turned towards the driver's seat and gave a frustrated sigh, “So many clouds…”  

Genevieve chuckled and turned on her blinker when the SUV carrying the rest of the Padackles did. 

“Uh oh, think he’s feeling bad again?” 

Danneel laughed humorlessly, “Knowing our luck? Probably.”

The kids grew restless once the van had finally stopped, but neither woman would let them out. Danneel tried to convince her youngest daughter to broaden her vocabulary for the remainder of the trip while Gen turned slightly and conversed with her son through the crack next to her seat. 

“You doing okay?

“Yeah. They’re noisy.” 

She chuckled softly and reached back to ruffle his hair, “Yeah, but it’ll be a lot of fun to have them at the cabin with us, don’t you think?” 

Shepherd nodded and smiled, then sat back. It was finally relatively quiet in the van...until Zeppelin shouted, “Hey! How come JJ gets to get out!” 

Danneel searched the area around the other car and saw Jared kneeling next to her daughter by the grass. Well… fuck. 

“Stay here! I will be right back.” 

She shared a worried look with Genevieve and then climbed out of the van so she could investigate. It didn’t take long. There was a puddle of brown goo at her daughter’s feet and a matching substance on her chin. “Oh...Jaybird…” 

She rushed over to her little girl and took over for Jared. Jared, who was looking a little pale himself. She hoped it was just a sensitivity to other people’s illness and not a sign that whatever plagued her husband was contagious. 

Jared made his way over to the car door and opened it to find Jensen throwing up into a trash bag while Thomas kept a hand on his shoulder. Jared was immediately filled with pride. Although the slight tremor in Thomas’s hand worried him, it was not severe enough that it demanded his immediate attention. No, the person who required him right now was his sick friend. 

Jensen wiped his mouth with the back of his hand even though there were tissues at his feet. He was too tired to make the effort and he was worried leaning down would upset his stomach further. 

Ugh… How’s JJ?” 

Jared grimaced before answering, “Sick, poor kid. Did you guys eat anything that no one else--” 

He was cut off by a shriek and a chorus of disgusted sounds. 

Ewwwwww! Dios Mio! It’s on me!”

Mama-- ulp --I don’t feel so-- HRRRUUUUULLLPPP!”

“Oh...fuuuu--” Jensen leaned back over the bag as the sounds of Shep getting sick set him off again. 

Jared stood frozen, needed in too many places and not sure where to go first. Gen was coaxing their youngest son over to the grass as he continued to throw up. Zeppelin was still in his soiled car seat, crying. Danneel was trying to support JJ and calm Arrow and Odette down at the same time, Jensen was still violently ill and poor Thomas looked shell-shocked. Jared finally decided that the understandably unhappy kid still stuck in the messy vehicle should be first on his list of priorities and walked over to free Jensen’s son. It was evident by the… trajectory … that the little boy had been the one to redecorate. The back of the driver’s seat, the console, part of the passenger seat, and most of the floor was coated in sticky vile-smelling puke. 

“Aw, Zep...c’ mere, buddy. You’re just not feeling good at all, are you?” 

The sick little boy held his arms out to the man and sniffled. Jared carefully unlatched the buckles and then lifted him out. It was pointless to try and keep clean at this point so he let Zeppelin lay his head down on Jared’s shoulder. The myriad sounds of illness seemed to be dying down so Jared carried him over to his father. 

Jensen’s brow creased when he saw Jared carrying a very dirty Zeppelin towards him. He accepted his sick son into his arms and sat him on his lap so Jared could remove the boy’s soiled clothes. While Jared stuffed them into an empty trash bag, Jensen held Zeppelin close and laid back in the seat. 

Jared carried the bag over to Danneel and left it with her before ushering Tom out of the SUV and walking with him to sit on the minivan’s bumper. It was somewhat quiet back there and he wanted to get a reading on how his eldest was doing. 

He wrapped an arm around his son’s shoulders and hugged him, “You alright?” 

Tom shrugged and then nodded. It was kind of what Jared expected. It was a lot to take in. It wasn’t just one person sick, it was three , well… four if you count the younger Padalecki’s sympathetic response. And one of those people was an adult. It’s always scary when a parent shows their vulnerable side. Not that Uncle Jensen had a choice, but still… It throws a kid when they see proof that their parents aren’t invincible, that mom and dad can get taken out by sickness or stub their toe just like anyone else.  

Thomas spoke quietly, “Are they gonna be okay?” 

“Yeah, of course, buddy. They’re just not feeling well right now.” 

“... Shep too?” 

Jared pursed his lips, trying to find the best way to phrase his answer. 

“I think your brother’s okay. He just got a little upset when Zeppelin got sick in the car. You know how sometimes if you throw up, he does too?” Tom nodded. “It’s like that. His stomach just can’t handle hearing the sounds of other people getting sick. It makes him feel bad too.” 

“Oh, man, that must suck .”  

Jared chuckled and pulled his son into his arms. 

They heard a quiet sniffle and looked over to see Gen and Shep walking around the side of the van. The sleeves of Gen’s chambray shirt were rolled up and her black jean shorts were slightly damp as if something had been wiped off recently. Their youngest son was tucked up against his mother’s side, one hand continually fighting against the wind to keep his long hair out of his eyes while the other held tight to her. 

Genevieve met her husband’s gaze and gave him a sad smile, “Looks like this trip is going to be more exciting than we thought.” 

“How’s everybody doing?” Jared asked as Shep crawled onto his lap right next to Tom. 

“Danneel’s working on clean up while Jensen hangs with the kids. I think most of them are asleep, thankfully. Shep says he’s doing okay, but I need to help Danni and I don’t want to risk him getting triggered by the smell.” 

Jared smiled and addressed the boys, “How ‘bout we go find some new clothes for Zep and then see how Uncle Jensen’s faring?” They both nodded and slid off so they could run over to the SUV’s trunk. Jared hung back for a moment so he could talk to Genevieve.  

“What are you thinking, babe? Bug? Or food poisoning?” 

Gen wrapped her arms around her husband’s broad back and sighed against his t-shirt, “Food poisoning. If it was a bug, we’d all have it by now. Besides, Jensen, JJ, and Zeppelin all had those funky looking pickles at lunch, remember?” 

Jared frowned down at her, “Pickles? You mean, the funny-smelling pickles... like the one Jensen dared me to eat ?”  

Gen nodded, “Mhmm…”

“Well, crap-- wait, shouldn’t I be sick too then?”

She lifted on her tiptoes and pulled his face down so she could kiss him briefly. 

“Honey, you’ve been so busy taking care of everyone else you probably just pushed it aside. It’s what you do, Jared. Always worrying about everyone else before yourself.” She walked back towards the front of the van. 

“But don’t worry, tonight when you’re as sick as Jensen and the kids, I’ll be right there to take care of you.