Title: I Dream of Jensen - Timestamp 2
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Matt Cohen (mentioned)
Genre: J2, fantasy, romance, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: Don't own, just playing in the sandbox.
Warning: Schmoop, sick!Jensen
Word Count: 2,300 this timestamp
Summary: Family and pie
Notes: If you want to read the story that spawned this timestamp, you can find it here.
The Immune System of a Newborn
Pain lances through his head with all the subtlety of a crowbar to the skull. Jensen huddles in his nest of blankets on the couch as shivers course through him. “This sucks,” he rasps in a barely-there voice, and instantly regrets speaking. Fire ravages his inflamed throat anew. Scrunching his eyes closed, he lets his heavy head thunk back against his consort’s chest.
Gentle fingers card through his damp hair, pausing to rub at the base of his neck, easing some of the soreness that seems to have taken up permanent lodging there.
“Yeah, I know it does,” Jared replies, tone hushed. “Strep throat is nasty, but we’re going to get you through this. Matt said you have the worse case he’s ever seen and you’ll feel like poo for a couple days until the antibiotics have a chance to knock the infection out.”
Matt, a friend of Jared’s and a second year resident at the local clinic, had been willing to come by the house and do a medical exam on Jensen. His actual words had been, “Sorry man, you’re going to feel like utter crap for the next couple days,” but Jared’s ban on profanity won’t allow him to quote his friend verbatim.
Instead of the teasing Jensen would like to dole out for use of such a childish word as poo, all he can muster is the weak shake of his head, and even that much makes his brain slosh around and his stomach churn.
Matt had also said that, although anyone could be inflicted with streptococcus, it normally occurred in children or people with compromised immune systems. And that caused a very unpleasant realization in Jensen. The immunities that children develop over time, as well as the immunizations they are given regularly by their pediatricians - well, guess what? Jensen didn’t develop or receive any of those. His human body is vulnerable to all manner of diseases and illnesses. Strep could just be the beginning. He shudders at the thought, or maybe from the icy chill that has seeped into his bones. It’s hard to determine which.
From the way Jared has been coddling him, he must have come to the same realization. His consort is too smart, and far too compassionate, for his own good sometimes. Strep throat is contagious. Extremely contagious. And yet Jared has been glued to his side from the very moment he woke up this morning with a sore throat and headache so vicious he couldn’t bear to open his eyes past squinting.
Ever since Matt left, they’ve been sprawled out on the couch together, Jensen pulled up against Jared’s chest, almost in his lap. It would be embarrassing except for how Jared’s arms around him are the only thing keeping the fever chills from rattling him apart. There’s a movie playing on the television. He’s not really following the plot, but it seems to have something to do with Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, and a volcano?
The hand that has been massaging his neck stops and Jared begins maneuvering carefully out from behind him. “I’m going to get you some more orange juice. You need to stay hydrated. Do you want anything else? Soup? Toast?”
Jared’s absence makes the chill worse and swallowing anything is the last thing he wants to do. He doesn’t want to be needy on top of being useless and unproductive though, so he just pulls the blankets tighter around himself and shakes his head. Stars above, this headache is making him morose.
And let’s not forget pathetic.
Jared frowns, reaching out to palm his forehead. “Is your fever getting worse? Hold on, I’ll get the thermometer.”
Or maybe it’s the fever making him pathetic. One or the other.
Why does having a fever make humans so cold? Every muscle in his body aches. His head feels heavy and light at the same time, his thoughts fragmented. His eyes are burning up in their sockets. Tears squeeze through his closed eyelids and quickly evaporate on overheated cheeks.
“Jensen? Hey, babe? Open up and put this under your tongue.”
Jensen obeys, clamping his lips around the thermometer and only later registering the sappy endearment. His thoughts are molasses slow, like his brain is being cooked into pudding. Before he can lodge a complaint or register a protest or retaliate with a ‘sweetie pie’ or ‘honey bunch’ of his own, Jared says, “Keep that there for a minute. I’m going to get your juice.”
That seals it. Now he really does feel all of about five years old. Sadly, there’s nothing he can do to reassert his efficacy.
Except...there is one thing he could do.
He could leave.
Not forever. Not even for long. Just until this stupid illness has run it’s course. Jared doesn’t need to see him like this, all weak and helpless. He’ll go away, until he’s no longer contagious. It’s the only way he has of protecting his consort, even if the thing he’s protecting him from is his own germ-ridden body. Yes. That’s what he should do. For Jared’s sake.
He untangles the blankets and stands. The room revolves slowly around him. The floor pitches like he’s on a boat in rough seas. All the blood drains from his face, and he swallows the saliva that suddenly pools in his mouth. It feels like acid going down his raw throat. Merciless heavens, he wishes a black hole would open up and suck him in. He wants this agony to end.
He stumbles, shaky and drenched in sweat, to the door and outside. He has no destination in mind. No sanctuary. He just needs to get away. He doesn’t even remember why anymore, only that leaving is important. Everything hurts and he’s so hot. While also cold, fingers icy and numb.
Putting one clumsy foot in front of the other, he walks.
The road wavers in and out of focus before him, stretching off into the horizon like the endless expanse of deep space. His feet drag across asphalt with every step. Pebbles dig into his feet. Every once in a while, a car zooms past. None of them stop or even slow down. That’s okay; he doesn’t want them to.
His eyes burn and sting. A wet, wheezing sound accompanies each breath he takes. And why does he need to breathe anyway? Djinn don’t need air, they subsist on magic alone.
It’s all so confusing.
Something is wrong. Very, very wrong.
Pounding footsteps sound from behind him.
“Jensen! What are you doing out here? You scared the bejesus out of me!” an out of breath voice says.
A hand clamps down on his arm, pulling him to a stop. He looks at the hand, and then up the long body it’s attached to until he reaches a blurry face. He squints, and the face resolves into one he knows and loves. Jared doesn’t look right though. His eyes are a bit shiny and wild, and he’s panting as though he can’t catch his breath.
Jensen opens his mouth to ask if Jared is alright, but his tongue gets caught against something.
“Hold on,” Jared says. “Let me take that for you.” He reaches up and pulls a long, thin tube from between Jensen’s lips. “Okay, what’s going on? Where are you going with no shoes and the thermometer still in your mouth?”
Thermometer? Jensen blinks. It feels like his eyelids are made out of sandpaper. He knuckles at his scratchy eyes.
“Oh for Pete’s sake, you look like a sleepy toddler when you do that.” Jared’s voice softens. “Can you tell me why you’re out here?”
Jensen frowns down at his stocking feet, wriggling his toes as he tries to remember why it was so imperative that he leave. He’s not clear himself on what he was doing or where he was going. All he can come up with is, “Called me babe.” The words scrape against his blistered throat. He winces, vaguely aware of how petulant he sounds and not caring at all.
“You were upset because I called you babe?” Jared lifts the thermometer and glances at it. His eyebrows furrow. The amused tone shifts to one of concern. “No wonder you’re confused. Your temperature is almost one hundred and four degrees. You’re probably dehydrated too.”
A horn honks loudly, and a car roars past them. Jensen can’t help his flinch.
“Come on, let’s get you back inside.” Getting an arm around Jensen’s waist and a shoulder under his arm, Jared leads him back to the house.
With a hazy kind of chagrin, Jensen notices he didn’t even make it very far before being apprehended by his worried consort.
Once ensconced back in the blanket nest on the couch, he closes his eyes. He can sense Jared bustling about, but he’s too tired to care much. All the aches and pains he’d mostly been able to ignore during his jaunt outside are now more insistent than ever. His pajamas, the ones he’d just been wandering down the road in - oh joy - are sopping wet with sweat. It’s disgusting. He feels like a rag that was discarded after being used to wash a car on a sweltering hot day. Also, he can’t seem to stop shivering.
“Here, drink this.”
A glass presses against his lips, the smell of citrus strong in his nostrils. He grimaces, turning his head away. Drinking means swallowing, and he just can’t.
Jared sighs. “I know it hurts. I wish I didn’t have to make you do this, but you won’t get better if you don’t replace all the fluids you’re sweating off. It’s also time for your medicine - the antibiotics and pain relievers Matt prescribed. Hopefully, they’ll help with the swelling and fever too.”
It’s the real worry in Jared’s voice that tips the scales in the other direction. Resigned, Jensen takes the glass and the pills Jared presses into his palm. Might as well genie up and get it over with as quickly as possible. One after another in rapid succession, he puts the four pills on his tongue as far back as he can, and then chugs a mouthful of juice. They go down rough, each seeming larger than a golfball. The last one gets stuck halfway down. Coughing does nothing to dislodge it, although it does send forth a fine spray of orange juice that gets all over his blankets. Yuck.
Jared doesn’t bat an eye, completely nonplussed by the mess. “It’s okay. I have more blankets. Now, I want you to gargle with this saltwater. I know it sounds terrible, but it’ll help your throat.” He swaps out the juice for a glass of cloudy water.
Jensen eyes it doubtfully. He feels like the butt of some cosmic joke. The cosmos must be messing with him, trying to see just how miserable it can make him.
Swirling salt eddies coalesce and drift apart inside the warm glass. They’re mesmerizing.
“Jensen? Come on, hang in there just for a little longer. Gargle the saltwater for me. Then you can sleep.”
He does. Or he thinks he does. Warm, salty water definitely enters his mouth. Then, it comes back out.
“M’tired,” he says, and even though the words are barely a raspy whisper, they scrape a bloody path up his abraded throat. Okay, no more talking. Ever again.
“I know you are,” Jared hushes, as a towel wipes saltwater off his chin. The soiled blankets are removed from around him, quickly replaced with fresh ones before his shivering gets out of hand.
Jensen tries to help when he feels the tug of damp pajamas being eased over his arms and head, but Jared soothes him back down with a hand on his chest, saying, “Just relax. Let me do the work. I’ve had practice at this.”
His cheeks flame from more than the fever. It’s humiliating, but there’s a smile in his consort’s voice, so he gives in to the fatigue and drifts through being changed into clean, dry pajamas like the child he now, in some ways, is.
The cool cloth on his forehead and Jared settling in underneath him rouse him to some extent. Along with awareness comes an important reminder, one that bears mentioning despite the pain it will cause.
“Contagious,” he murmurs, and pushes weakly at Jared’s shoulder, which is the only part he can reach from his position nestled in his consort’s lap. His attempts to get Jared to leave him to his illness are completely ignored.
Instead, Jared readjusts the compress that had slipped over his eye during his ineffective struggle to get up, sliding it back into place. “I’m not worried about that. Adults rarely catch it and my immune system is strong. Besides, we need to get you healthy so we can attend the end of season wrap party for Dr. Sexy next month. We’re celebrating getting picked up for another season and that’s all down to you. It’s only right you be there.”
The cool cloth feels amazing on his oversensitive skin. The pills might have started working because his teeth have stopped chattering and the pain in his throat has eased a little. He drops his head back to Jared’s shoulder.
End credits for the movie scroll across the screen. Jared picks up the remote from the end table and clicks the television off. Casually, he says, “So, you don’t like babe, huh? I have to have some pet name for you. How about Sweet Potato?”
Jensen makes a face.
Jared chortles quietly. “No, I guess not. Dumpling?
Another face. Why are pet names always about food, anyway?
Jared’s laughter gets louder, and Jensen’s head gets jostled. Jared stills with a gentle, “Sorry. Pet names can wait until you’re well again. Don’t worry, my angel, things will get better. I promise.”
And Jensen thinks he means more than just being sick. He snuggles closer to his consort, warm and drowsy. His last thought before he surrenders to the pull of illness-induced exhaustion is - I hope you’re right, my sunshine. I hope you’re right.
The End of the Timestamp 2
A/N: Merry Christmas! I hope you like it. Comments are cherished!