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Let's Stick With Salt Next Time

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Jared is sure that Jensen is sick. There’s nothing specific that screams illness, but Jared feels it in his gut. As soon as his costar climbed the stairs this morning and greeted him with his usual pre-coffee grunt, Jared knew. It doesn’t matter that the older’s appetite remains unaffected, his voice isn’t scratchy, and he isn’t lethargic. Jared would bet his next paycheck on it. 

Right now, Jared is observing, waiting for the other nasty shoe to drop. He’s calmly watching Jensen and Misha converse about the newest dumb cat video they can’t stop rewatching. He’s holding a book and trying to concentrate but every few seconds his eyes drift back up to check that those vibrant green eyes haven’t gone glassy with fever. 

When Jensen pokes fun at their costars during filming, Jared plays along. He goofs up his lines and follows his best friend off-script. After a few takes, he gets caught up in the fun and forgets to make sure Jensen is only sweating the normal amount. A sudden coughing fit brought on by an unexpected laugh while drinking returns Jared’s focus. Jensen nails each scene, hitting his marks, adlibbing in all the right places, being badass when needed. By lunchtime, however, Jensen has begun to notice the close attention Jared is paying him. 

He’s in the middle of trying to see if Jensen favors one side of his mouth over the other when the man sets down his bbq sandwich and raises his brow, “Dude, what gives? You’ve been staring at me all day.”  

Jared has two choices: be honest and admit that he’s pretty sure Jensen is going to come down with something even though he shows absolutely no symptoms...or he can play it off. 

He scoffs and shakes his head, “You wish.” 

“Jay, I can feel your eyes on me. So seriously, what is it? Do I have a nose hair or some shit?”

“No more than usual, old man.” 

Jensen rolls his eyes at Jared’s diversion, then tosses one of his fries in Jared’s direction, “Fuck you.” 

They turn when the director lets everyone know it’s time to head back to set. They clean up the table and throw away their trash side-by-side. On the way out of the food tent, Jared almost runs into Alex and Jensen takes advantage, snatching the kid’s water bottle. He and Jared jog towards the sound stage while tossing it back and forth. Alex runs after them while Misha laughs on the sidelines. 

The next scene flows smoothly, then it’s time for a one-on-one fight between Dean and the monster of the week. Jared watches him closely but fails to find anything that may suggest his friend tiring more easily. There’s a split second of panic when the extra slams Jensen’s head into the table a little harder than expected, but after lying still with his eyes closed for about a minute, Dean is ready for round two. 

Jared isn’t able to spy on the next scene, he’s been tasked with bringing out the cake for Sara. The cast had been planning in secret for the last week and now, once Dean gets in the kill shot, Jared saunters in with her birthday cake. He starts singing and then everyone else joins in to celebrate the returning director’s special day. She gushes while Jensen slings his arm over her shoulders. He’s got a big grin on his face, not a pained grimace, no unnatural paleness to his face. Jared sighs, maybe he’s wrong. Maybe Jensen is just fine and the feeling in his gut is just from all the wine and pasta they had last night. 

When they call it a day and crawl into the waiting car, Jared is ready to get home. He’s convinced himself that it really is in his head, that nothing is wrong with his co-star after all. Jensen and Clif discuss last night’s game while Jared waves to the fans and watches the Vancouver city streets go by. They decide to watch a movie once they’re home and Jensen lets him pick, which is a little unusual. The older man gets vocal if he’s forced to sit through a shit movie so he typically chooses, but tonight he claims his brain is fried and asks Jared to do it. 

They tap beer bottles as the opening credits to The Mask fill the screen. About halfway through the movie, Jared sticks his hand in the popcorn bowl and frowns. Jensen has a habit of almost finishing the bowl while Jared pays attention to the movie so the fact that his fingers don’t brush the bottom throws him off. He looks to his left and sees Jensen’s hand resting lightly on his abdomen. I was right! 

Jared pushes pause and then turns to face the other man, “Everything okay over there?” He knows it isn’t. It’s evident from the way Jensen has his eyes closed and is grimacing. He reaches out and touches the man’s arm, “Jen?” 

“Hm?” 

“We can shut it off if you want. I can barely keep my eyes open.” Jared offers him an easy out. Jensen doesn’t reply. Instead, he scoots to the edge of the couch and groans. 

“Jen?” 

 

Jensen’s stomach is killing him and he’s pretty sure he should move to the bathroom, but he can’t open his eyes without the room spinning. Jared’s talking to him, trying to suss out what’s going on, but he’s too worried about opening his mouth to respond. A sick heat rises from his gut just as a cold sweat breaks out on his neck. He blindly snags the half-full bowl of popcorn and dumps the contents onto the floor. His mouth fills with sour liquid and he retches into the bowl. His stomach contracts painfully sending a stream of sickeningly sweet vomit onto the bottom. 

Jared moves closer to his friend and rubs his back. He winces in sympathy when he feels the strong muscle contractions beneath his hand. After a few moments, Jensen spits into the shallow puddle of sick and sets the bowl on the coffee table. He rises on shaky legs and Jared slips his arm around his waist. He helps Jensen into the bathroom and settles him in front of the toilet. The older man immediately lays his arm on the rim of the bowl and jerks forward with a heave. Jared sits on the edge of the bathtub and resumes his ministrations. 

It takes about two hours for Jensen’s stomach to calm and when it finally does, he rests his cheek on his arm and speaks to the clean water, “Sorry.” 

Jared’s eyes open and he peers over at Jensen, “For what?” 

“Puked in the popcorn bowl… ” 

Jared snorts, “Hey, man, better the bowl than the floor.” 

A deep sigh echoed in the bowl, “I don’t know what happened. I was fine and then bam , it just hit me.” 

Jared recloses his eyes and smiles to himself, “It’s okay. I was kind of expecting it.” 

“Huh?” 

“I had a feeling you were coming down with something.” 

It takes Jensen so long to comment that Jared wonders if the exhaustion won out. 

 

“Well shit, Jay…  could you maybe warn me about the impending evacuation of my insides next time?”

Jared chuckles softly, “You got it.”