Jensen’s stomach sours in the middle of his team’s morning meeting and he excuses himself to walk back to his office. Once there, he pulls out the bottle of Tums in his desk drawer and shakes one out. He chews it up and then leans back in his chair, taking a drink from his water bottle. He rests a hand on his middle and grimaces when he burps and it tastes like the tacos they had last night. He’d felt a little off last night but assumed it was just the Mexican food. Now, he wonders if it’s more than that.
The queasiness fades as he moves through his morning routine and he’s grateful since the caterers are bringing a test menu for him to try this afternoon. The winter gala plans are underway, the entertainment, decorations, and gift list sorted but he still needs to nail down the menu. Jared helped him decide on the color scheme this year and even offered to help Jensen’s team set up the night of the gala. Jensen had thanked him profusely with kisses and a handjob.
During his lunch break, the omega calls his mate and smiles when he hears Jared’s voice.
“Hey, baby, how’re the kids?”
Jared sighs, “Ready for the break. Can’t sit still. Complaining about everything. How’d your meeting go today?”
Jensen lays out his sandwich and bag of chips but grimaces when his stomach flips. He pushes them to the side and reaches for his yogurt instead. “The results are in from the vote. It was a freaking tie if you can believe it.”
The alpha laughs as he slurps his soup noisily, “A tie? No shit? Which ones?”
“Basketball and Bingo.” He slides a spoonful of yogurt into his mouth and pauses when the tang makes him feel sick. He quickly sets the spoon down and spits the strawberry yogurt into his napkin. He takes a drink of water and swishes it around his mouth.
He rests his head on his arm and frowns, “Ugh, think I’m coming down with something.”
“Seriously? Jen, you just got over that nasty cold.”
“I know. Stomach’s killing me. Feel like I’m going to puke.”
Jared swallows his bite of grilled cheese and asks, “Now?”
“No, I don’t think so. I’ve felt nauseous all day.”
The alpha’s desk chair creaks as he leans back. He pushes a hand through his hand and glances at his watch. “Maybe you should head home.”
Jensen groans and shuts his eyes, “Wish I could. But the caterers are coming in an hour and I need to figure out the menu for the gala. It’s the last thing we need to do other than print the tickets.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea? Why don’t you have someone else do it?” Jared’s concern can be heard through the phone and felt through the bond.
“Yeah… no. Lori’s idea of gourmet is a bacon cheeseburger and Garrett has decided he’s vegan this week. The only one I would trust to do it is Max and he’s out until Frid--” Jensen cut off abruptly when the sick feeling increases. Nausea washes over him, he grabs the trash can under his desk and sets it between his feet. One hand settles on his stomach as he positions himself over it.
“Jen? You okay?” Jared asks as the omega sits with his fingers pressed against his lips. The pressure rises in his chest and he ducks his head lower only to burp loudly. He releases a long breath and then licks his lips. Again, his nausea abates and he’s able to sit back.
He raises his water bottle to his lips and takes a sip then sighs, “Yeah, I’m alright. False alarm.”
Jared sighs, relieved and then chuckles softly, “I mean, I knew that Mexican makes you gassy…” he trails off and Jensen huffs.
“Shut up.” He glances at his desk and sees his abandoned lunch. He packs it away and digs in his drawer for a packet of crackers. Jensen munches on those while Jared fills him in on his class’s antics. They bid goodbye and hang up when the bell rings outside of Jared’s classroom.
The intercom buzzes and Jensen groans then reaches forward and pushes the button. His waistband pushes against his stomach and he winces while listening to his secretary.
“Mr. Ackles? The caterers are setting up in 125. They should be ready in about--” she pauses when Jensen belches. He blushes and quietly apologizes. She chuckles and continues, “twenty minutes.”
He swallows some more water and thanks her, then takes another antacid. He hasn’t felt this bad in a long time and he’s a little worried about the tasting.
Though he doesn’t trust their judgment when it comes to the final decision, he invited Lori and Garret to participate and they join him in the elevator much to the omega’s dismay. His stomach’s grumbling is getting worse and he can’t seem to stop burping. Jensen almost wishes he would just throw up, but each time he thinks it’s going to happen, the feeling dissipates.
When the doors open, the trio walks in and greets the couple dressed in chef’s coats. The woman introduces herself as Annie, the one who Jensen spoke with on the phone. The man is her husband, Andre. Annie explains the food while Andre serves them.
“To start off, we decided to go with a simple bruschetta. The tomatoes and basil are both sourced locally from the farmer’s market. The bread is cut from a homemade french loaf and brushed with olive oil before toasting it.” Everyone takes a bite. She gestures to the bowl next to the bruschetta.
“Next, creamy risotto garnished with parsley. Be sure to stir it with your spoon instead of eating off the top.”
Jensen muffles a tomato-y burp into his napkin as Andre removes the dishes and sets down a wooden plank with baked trout in front of them. The man eases a small portion onto each clean plate while Annie uncovers a dish of green beans and chops up some almonds. She asks if anyone has nut allergies and after receiving a negative reply, she sprinkles them on top.
She describes the entree while mixing a salad. Andre dishes up a single spoonful of mashed potatoes onto each plate. Jensen’s mouth waters and he looks over at his companions to see their reactions. Lori is amazed by the variety of foods and Garret is obviously relieved to see the beans and salad.
“The trout is fresh caught and baked with lemon. It pairs very nicely with the green beans amandine.” She glances at Jensen. “Which can be served without the almonds as well.”
Jensen lifts the forkful of fish to his lips and slips it into his mouth. The texture on his tongue and the intense smell of the trout turn his stomach and he raises his napkin as he coughs.
He sets his napkin on the table and pushes his chair back, “Excuse me for a moment.”
As soon as the omega makes it out the door, he slaps a hand over his mouth and searches desperately for a trash can. He spots one near the rec room and beelines for it. He crouches over it and lets the bite he couldn’t swallow drop into the bin. He spits to clear his mouth and then pushes the back of his hand against his mouth. He sets his other hand against the wall and gags. Jensen dry heaves twice and then let his forehead fall forward. He takes a few deep breaths and rises slowly. He stops at the water fountain and then returns to the tasting.
Everyone turns when he enters the room and he nods, “Sorry about that. Please, continue.”
The last two courses are hits. Both Lori and Garret love the cheese tray and Jensen is impressed by the jam cookies. Not only do they taste good, but they also look festive with the raspberry jam and powdered sugar. The selection of brie, cheddar, Roquefort, and camembert cheeses almost sets Jensen off again, but he’s able to stomach a few bites. Annie suggests they pair the cheddar and grapes and drizzle a little bit of the honey onto a cracker with the Roquefort. The combinations please the omega and he smiles at the chefs to show his appreciation.
His team takes their coffee back to their desks while Jensen discusses the final menu with Annie. He decides on the risotto with an option of salmon or chicken as well as the cheese tray. They pick out a simple french onion soup to start off and opt for a small variety of shortbread cookies to serve with the after-dinner coffee. Once they come to an agreement, Jensen signs his name to authorize the booking and then heads back upstairs.
The omega’s stomach growls and he winces. He sighs and grabs his lunch from the fridge, gives it another go. The yogurt is a hard no, but he manages to eat the ham from his sandwich and a few chips. He finishes his water and refills it then settles in to finish the calendar of events for January and contact a few people regarding the basketball tournament and bingo night. About an hour before he leaves, Jensen sits in on one of the group therapy sessions to assess whether the new format seems to be working. The patients are still hesitant, but Jensen is satisfied with the new moderator. She moves at their pace and allows each patient to take he or she needs before speaking.
By the time he gets home, Jensen is ready to chug a bottle of Pepto Bismol and pass out. He’s burping again and now even his water is making him nauseous. He opens the door to the apartment and swallows hard. Jared must be cooking because the strong aroma of garlic, onions, and tomatoes tickles his nose. When he hears the alpha singing as he moves around the kitchen, Jensen’s chuckle turns into an aborted gag. He pauses with one hand on the railing and breathes slowly.
“Jen? You home?” Jared walks out of the kitchen wearing a red splattered apron. The sight makes the omega jerk forward and then rush down the hall. Jared swears and covers the cooling pasta with a dish towel then follows.
He finds Jensen crouched in front of the toilet, panting heavily. He removes the omega’s coat and gloves then sits on the edge of the bath. He runs his hand through his mate’s hair.
“Still feeling sick, huh?”
Jensen shudders and coughs then rests his head on his arm. He looks at Jared and swallows, “Just wish I would throw up already. This sucks.”
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like your body’s in any hurry. Try to relax.”
He sighs and lays his hand on Jared’s thigh. The alpha covers it with his and smiles sadly. Jensen’s stomach gurgles and he grimaces as his mate continues stroking his hair. Jared keeps him distracted from the roiling in his gut by asking about the plans for the gala and telling him a few excerpts from his fifth grader’s afternoon. They were focusing on space this week so Jared had them creating paper mache planets, writing ‘If I Was An Astronaut” short stories and exploring the solar system. A few of his students complained about the lack of holiday activities but for the most part, the kids seem to like the break from traditional December topics such as Santa, snowflakes, and cheesy reindeer stories. His class is going to exchange gifts though, the school made it mandatory last year.
The couple waits in the bathroom for half an hour and while Jensen does end up expelling a mouthful of water about ten minutes in, nothing else follows. Jared helps him off the floor and ushers him into the bedroom. He gets Jensen comfy in bed and then returns to the kitchen. He dishes up pasta with peppers, sausage, and lots of cheese for himself and brings his mate a small bowl of plain noodles with a little bit of melted butter and parmesan. They settle in with their dinners and watch a few movies on Netflix before turning in for the night.
Jensen wakes with Jared against his back and an arm draped over his sour stomach. He moans softly and removes the alpha’s arm so he can slip out of bed and pad into the en suite. He walks over to the toilet and kneels then lifts the lid and hangs his head over the water. Ugh, just want to sleep…. He props his elbow on the seat and rests his head in his hand as the sick feeling grows.
Jared’s sleepy form enters the bathroom, “Jen?” He yawns and walks over behind Jensen. The other man coughs and spits into the water.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to wake you.”
Jared squints at him and scratches his chest, “S’okay. Anything happen yet?”
The omega burps and rubs his stomach, “No.”
Jared sits next to him and smooths his hand over Jensen’s back. His eyes close and Jensen snorts at how ridiculous his mate is. Sitting there, about to fall asleep while waiting for the omega to maybe get sick. He brushes Jared’s bedhead back, “Jare. Go back to bed. There’s no point in you sitting here, baby.”
The alpha peels his eyes open and frowns at his mate, “Nuh… I’m good.”
Jensen rolls his eyes and then gives an exasperated huff when he realizes he feels fine again. He groans and sits back on his heels, “Apparently, so am I… Dammit! What the hell is wrong with me?”
Jared looks at him when he speaks. He smiles softly and pulls the omega into his arms. He kisses Jensen’s temple. “Bed?”
The other man sighs and shakes his head, “... yeah.”
“‘Kay, c ‘mon.”
Jared waits until his mate has stopped at the sink for a quick drink and another Tums then leads him back to their bed. Jensen sits on the edge while Jared lies down on his side.
He reaches out to his mate through the bond. Come here, little one.
Jensen looks over his shoulder and huffs, “Really, Jare?”
Jared nods to the space in front of him, “Just come here? I have an idea.”
“Fine.” He crawls under the covers and scooches back until his back is flush with the alpha’s chest. Jared drapes his left arm over Jensen’s side and rests his hand on the omega’s stomach for a moment, then starts rubbing. He applies a little pressure but not so much that it's uncomfortable. His mate sighs and relaxes against him, his breath evening out. Jared smiles softly and snuggles into him, his hand moving until he eventually drifts to sleep.