It didn’t take Doctor Benton twenty minutes to get to the house, it took him twenty-five and the only thing that kept Jared from calling him at twenty-one minutes was that Jensen had managed to pull himself together, at least, a little.
It was nothing big, nothing that made Jared reconsider his panicked call to the doctor in the first place. But he had managed to uncurl from the ball that Jared had first found him in and was answering questions. And yet his face was still lined with pain and he hadn’t bothered trying to pull himself up off the couch, so Jared still felt justified in his decision to call, especially since Jensen hadn’t bothered to try to convince him to call the doctor back and tell him that everything was okay and not to come.
That alone was enough to keep his worry simmering just below the calm surface he was trying to exude for Jensen’s sake. And, admittedly, he was in the act of pulling out his cell to call the doctor to see what was keeping him when the doorbell finally rang.
In his worry over Jensen and his growing dread that Doctor Benton still wasn’t at the house, he had forgotten about Sadie and Harley and that he should have rounded them up and sequestered them in his bedroom. But because he hadn’t, it wasn’t even two seconds after the bell sounded that the barking started, from between the back of the couch and the wall, startling Jensen and sending him into another round of coughing laced with small gasps of pain.
“Shit Jen.” He groaned and froze in the act of heading towards the front door, torn between letting the doctor in and trying to offer whatever comfort he could to his friend.
Jensen’s eyes flashed towards him before they shut tight as he curled into himself yet again.
Jared could admit it, hell there wasn’t one of his friend’s that didn’t know, that he had a gentle nature when it came to animals and never once had he ever had the urge to hit or kick at either of his babies. Not when Harley went through his stage of trying to eat everything, including his bedroom carpet and the bathroom door at the apartment he had rented before he bought his house. Not when he got home later than he was supposed to from shooting and one of the dogs hadn’t managed to wait to go outside. Not when both of them had decided to eat the cushions on the brand new leather couch that he had bought.
But seeing the pain in Jensen’s eyes, watching him curl tighter into himself, he could admit that the thought of smacking them suddenly seemed valid. And after, banging his head against the closest wall for his part it seemed like a damn good idea too.
He forced himself to turn away and head towards the front of the house. The only real comfort he could offer was to let the doctor in and hope the man had something, anything, to help Jensen.
“Harley, Sadie quiet!”
Instantly both dog’s insistent barking tapered off, leaving only small huffing barks as they continued to circle in front of the door.
“Move” He muttered softly as he gently tried to get between them and the front door. “Come on guys back up.”
Carefully he pushed Sadie back with his foot and managed to block Harley with his body as he opened the door.
Doctor Benton was a stocky, older, short man in his fifties with thinning grey hair and an easy smile that always reminded Jared of an older version of Eric. In moments of extreme drunkenness or an overactive sugar high, he seriously considered letting Eric in on his observation but self preservation always managed to keep the words firmly locked in his throat. Sam was getting thrown around enough this season, it wouldn’t be prudent to, perhaps, annoy the man that could make his or was it Sam’s, life much, much, worse.
“Thanks for coming Doc.” He didn’t bother to hide the relieved smile as he opened the door wider. “Jensen’s in the living room.”
“How is he now?” The doctor asked as he bent down and rubbed between Sadie’s ears. “Hey guys.” He greeted the dogs as he turned his attention to Harley, giving him the same treatment as he had Sadie.
Jared felt his guilt ratchet up another notch and he stuffed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “I think the pain was subsiding until the doorbell rang.” Without realizing it, his shoulders rolled forward as he tried to make himself seem smaller. “Then those two started to bark and it startled him because they were behind the couch and he was sitting on it and that got him coughing again…”
He stood up, “Jared take a breath.” He smiled reassuringly at him.
“Uh, right, sorry.” He turned back towards the rest of the house, ignoring the burning in his face. “The living room is back this way.”
He wanted to kick himself for babbling but he couldn’t help it. All he had to do was watch over Jensen, do everything in his power to keep him comfortable until the doctor arrived but he had screwed that up. He knew, knew, the dogs would go nuts when the doorbell rang and yet, somehow, something that happened almost daily slipped his mind.
He had a lot of nerve fantasying about having something more with Jensen when he couldn’t even be the type of friend that was needed.
Spying Jensen as he entered the living room managed to cut his self-pity short as fond frustration overtook him.
Jensen had pushed himself up, not quite achieving sitting either relaxed back against the couch or up straight, but he was only slightly hunched over and if Jared didn’t know any better he might have momentarily been convinced that he had overreacted. But he knew what he had seen, what his friend had looked like only moments before, the soft, hurt noises that he couldn’t stifle while coughing and his startling green eyes shining with pain.
Stuff the stoicism asshole.
His eyes narrowed slightly, no way would he let Jensen fake his way out of letting the doctor look him over.
“Jensen.” The doctor greeted as he moved past Jared and set his black bag down on the coffee table in front of his patient. “I hear you’re having some problems.”
Jensen’s eyes flicked to Jared before turning his attention to the older man before him. “It’s just a chest cold.”
Both Jared and the doctor caught the aborted shrug and the flicker of pain across his face.
“Uh-huh.” Doctor Benton opened his bag and pulled out a stethoscope. “And Jared mentioned something about a broken rib?”
Jared choked down the urge to stick his tongue out, not feeling the least bit of guilt at Jensen’s shallow sigh and watched the doctor press the stethoscope against his friend’s chest.
“Breathe for me.”
Jensen shut his eyes in resignation and took a small breath.
His eyes caught Jared’s and he glared as he tried to take a deeper breath.
The doctor pulled back, “Deep breath Jensen.”
“That’s the best I can do.” He muttered softly as he dropped his eyes to his hands in his lap. “Any deeper and I start to cough.”
“Okay.” Doctor Benton nodded and leaned forward to continue listening to Jensen’s chest.
Jared watched silently as he made Jensen take several more breaths as he listened to Jensen’s chest and back, his fingers digging into his thighs, inside his pockets, at the look of distress on his friend’s face, knowing that he was fighting the urge to start coughing again.
“Other than the coughing are there any other symptoms?” The older man dropped the stethoscope back in his bag and pulled out a penlight and a tongue depressor.
Jensen shook his head and obediently opened his mouth.
“No fever?” He asked as he shined the light down Jensen’s throat and Jared wondered how he expected his friend to answer while he had his tongue trapped beneath a wannabe Popsicle stick.
The doctor pulled back and dropped the light into his bag, “No other aches or pains other than tonight and your rib?”
Jensen’s mouth tightened, Jared could clearly see petulance flash in his eyes and had to pinch his thigh hard, happy that he still hadn’t pulled his hands from his pockets, to keep from laughing at the image. His friend may like to point out that he tended to act like a five year old but his look at the moment was so reminiscent of his six year old nephew.
“My chest muscles are kind of sore.” He admitted quietly.
It didn’t come as a shock to Jared, with the way that Jensen had been coughing, it was pretty much a given that his muscles were ready to jump ship. Still there was a twinge of guilt as he thought of the sore muscle cream in his medicine cabinet. He should have asked Jensen if he would have liked to have used it, instead of just waiting for him to come and ask him about it.
Doctor Benton sighed, “I’m not surprised.” He shuffled to the side and slowly lowered himself down to sit on the other side of the couch. “Tell me what happened with your rib tonight.”
Jensen fidgeted and his right hand moved to cover his left side, almost subconsciously. “I was coughing and then there was this pain, kind of like my side was on fire.”
The doctor nodded, “Was there any sound that you noticed?”
His face twisted in hesitation, “It…well…it kind of sounded like a pop.”
“Okay,” he stood back up and started digging through his bag again. “I know what the problem is,” he glanced over at Jensen, a frown on his face. “First off you have acute bronchitis.”
Jared watched him pull a small bottle of white pills out of the bag and then a dog-eared prescription pad. He handed the bottle to Jensen before he settled back, took a pen out of an inside pocket of his jacket and start to write on the pad.
Not looking at either of them as he continued, “And you’ve managed to pop a rib with all you’re coughing.”
Jared blinked in confusion and glanced over at Jensen only to find the same look staring back at him.
“Umm and that means?” He asked looking between the doctor and the small bottle in his hand. “I can’t take codeine.”
Doctor Benton glanced up at that, “Are you allergic?”
He shook his head slowly, “Not that I know of but they make me kind of loopy. There’s no way I’m going to be able to work like that.”
The doctor snorted, “Okay first, you won’t be working for a minimum of a week…”
Jensen spluttered and although Jared knew that it meant that he was in for a long week because they would be shooting nothing but Sam’s scenes and that Eric most certainly was going to shit, he didn’t feel particularly bad about it. If his stubborn friend had gone to see the doctor once things had progressed from annoying chest cold to trying to hack up one or both lungs then chances were he wouldn’t be in the position he was.
“I can’t take a week off!”
Doctor Benton levelled a stern glare at him, “Oh you can and will. You’ve forgotten that your contract with the network states that Doctor’s orders veto everything else. I could stick you in the hospital Jensen. Acute bronchitis is nothing to mess with, never mind the strained chest muscles and popped rib, if not taken care of promptly and properly it could become pneumonia and you really don’t want that to happen do you.”
It wasn’t a question but Jared hoped that Jensen had an answer because sometimes, pretty much all the time, his friend was too concerned about the job and not concerned enough about his health. The idea of him being stuck, going stir crazy in a hospital, wasn’t anything Jared wanted to contemplate but if it would keep him from doing more damage to himself, then he’d drive Jensen there himself, hog tied if need be.
Jensen still looked mutinous but he wasn’t arguing. “No.” He sighed but Jared could see the shift in his posture, knew from experience that he was accepting what he had to. “So what does a popped rib mean anyway?” He grumbled.
“Same idea as when you dislocate a shoulder.”
“So it just needs to be popped back in place and at least that will be fixed?” Jensen sounded relieved but he still looked a little green around the edges.
Jared couldn’t picture how that was going to work but since he wasn’t a doctor what did he know?
Doctor Benton shook his head, “I’m afraid not. There’s no way to pop a rib back into place. It’s got to slip back in on its own. And while we’re on the topic be prepared to take things a little easy for about three months.”
“Three months?” Jared repeated before he could stop himself. Jensen was an active guy, he liked to dirt bike, to spar, running, wrestling with Jared and that didn’t take into account that they did most of their own stunts. His feelings of Ha! Serves you right! were lost in the face of the fact that for the next three months his friend wouldn’t be able to do pretty much any of that.
“Unless you overdo it, then it will take longer to heal properly.” He tried to give Jensen a reassuring smile, “The good news is that the pain should fade within the next two to three days, as long as you take the codeine and the medication I’m prescribing.”
Jensen blew out a breath, “Shit.”
The doctor shrugged, “It could always be worse Jensen. I could have you admitted to the hospital.”
“Yeah I know.” He grumbled.
“Jared is there a pharmacy nearby?”
Doctor Benton waved a prescription at him, “Could you go get these filled for Jensen? The sooner he starts on the medication, the sooner he’ll get better.”
He took the paper from the doctor, giving it only a cursory glance, the chicken scrawl that passed as doctor’s writing was beyond him. “Not a problem.”
Jared smiled down at Jensen, “I’ll be back shortly.”
He huffed, “Apparently I’ll be here.” He shot a look at the doctor before turning back, “I’ve been told I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.”
Jared sighed in frustration and shifted in his seat, tapping his fingers against his knees. He just couldn’t understand why it had to take fifteen minutes to get Jensen’s prescription filled when he was the only one waiting for one.
He supposed if it had been earlier in the day, the pharmacist might having been filling phoned in orders but it was a quarter to twelve at night and he had seen her practically dozing behind the counter when he walked up.
He narrowed his eyes as he watched her move back and forth behind the counter. It’s like some sort of punishment for being sick. He decided as he forced his gaze away.
Logically he knew that even simple prescription took time to fill but fifteen minutes? When all she had to do was pour a bunch of pills out of the big bottles they came in and count out a handful seemed a little much. Especially when there hadn’t been one, single distraction so far.
The ringing of his cell phone tore him away from his thoughts. Quickly he pulled it out, it wasn’t the distinctive ring he had assigned Jensen but that didn’t mean it wasn’t him, maybe his friend was using the landline.
“Jared it’s Doctor Benton.”
Instantly his body went stiff with fear, the doctor had misdiagnosed, there was something else wrong, something worse, with Jensen and he wasn’t there. Instead he was stuck sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair at the back of the local pharmacy waiting for a prescription that should have been filled at least seven minutes before, when he should have been with Jensen because Jensen needed him.
The doctor chuckled, “Easy Jared.” He said soothingly, “Everything’s fine. I’m just calling to let you know that I’m heading home.”
Heading home? The doctor was heading home and leaving Jensen by himself. No. No, no, no. Jensen was sick and in pain, he needed someone to stay with him and make sure he was going to be okay.
“But…shouldn’t someone be with Jen?”
“Jared,” the doctor sighed. “Jensen’s a grown man and regardless of the evidence that suggests otherwise, can take care of himself.”
“Jared.” He cut him off gently, “He took a couple of the Codeine tablets and other than being slightly stoned, he’s okay. I can assure you that he’s not out of it enough to cause himself any damage or do anything stupid like try to drive a car.” He chucked, “In fact I don’t think he even has the desire to do anything but stare at the TV at the moment.”
Despite his misgivings about Jensen being on his own, he felt himself relax a little. “But what about when I’m gone shooting? Should I take him to set with me, in case something happens?
“Jared, it’s Bronchitis and a popped rib, neither are life threatening. As long as Jensen takes his medication regularly and doesn’t do anything to strain his rib he’ll be fine.”
He chewed on his bottom lip, logically he knew the doctor was telling him the truth but it didn’t mean he had to like the idea of Jensen being on his own.
Doctor Benton snorted, “You sound like I just told you that you couldn’t have candy.”
Heat rushed to Jared’s face, “Sorry, just worried.”
“He’ll be fine Jared.”
The pharmacist caught his eye and held up a small bag. “Look’s like Jen’s prescription is ready so I’ve gotta go. But you’re sure he’ll be okay on his own?”
He pulled himself up and headed towards the counter and tried to keep his voice light. “Alright then. Thanks for everything.”