Title: Mike Fever
Pairing: MR, JP, TW, JA
Notes: Work of fiction! All in fun!
[Unknown LJ tag]</lj>
Jared is surprised when Mike calls him up and invites him to go bowling.
It's not that he doesn't like Rosenbaum; everyone likes Mikey. But really, he only knows him through Jensen. They've never hung out together on their own.
It's at the back of his mind that maybe, just maybe, the fact that Jen and Tom went golfing this week has something to do with this invitation. Except why would Mike care about that? And Jared didn't care either, no. Jen hadn't asked him along but he knows Jared's useless with a putter. They've established that from a few messy games of mini-golf.
Jared pulls up by Mike's place. Mike must have been watching for him because he's out the door before Jared even honks the horn; today's t-shirt of choice has a chorus line of dancing Bick's Pickles on the front.
Mike in the front seat of a car is like a dog set loose in a strange yard; he has to explore every bit of his new environment. He starts by punching buttons on the radio until he find a song he likes.
"Uh, Mike?" says Jared. "Directions?"
"That right there," says Mike, pointing at the radio. "That right there is some Boston, man."
Jared cocks his head. The only Boston song he knows is "More than a Feeling". This one isn't as good, just the singer howling "Amanda" over and over.
Mike gives Jared directions to the bowling alley, then sings along, getting some words wrong.
"I can see it in your eyes....I'll make you realize...Ammmaaannnda."
"This song is objectionable on many levels," Jared says.
Mike looks up from exploring the glove compartment and says:
"Young people today! No appreciation for a good melody."
"Okay, gramps," Jared's lip curls as a mini-van cuts him off. You just try driving like that in Texas, he thinks.
It's an old school bowling alley, nary a hipster in sight. Clusters of beer-bellied guys and a few fifty-something glamour gals with closer-to-God hair-dos. Now this, Jared thinks, this feels a bit like home.
"What name are you going to use?" Mike says, swigging his beer. "It has to be three letters long - so you can be Sam and I can be Lex! How perfect is that?"
Jared rolls his eyes and opts for "Jar".
"Jared. Jar-Head," says Mike, then amuses himself by repeating it until Jared pegs him with a pretzel.
"How is it possible that you're more hyper than usual?" Jared asks.
"I've been trippy all day," Mike shrugs. He chooses ONJ as his name. "Olivia Newton John. My bride to be since I was ten, only she doesn't know it yet."
As bowlers, they're evenly matched and don't embarrass themselves in front of the regulars. They play a couple of games, then Jared notices Mike's yawning a lot. He's also flushed; his cheeks and arms are pink.
"Yeah, I just need a decongestant" Mike yawns. "You want to stop for some nachos?"
The nachos are truly horrible; cheese from a tube and vintage corn chips. But they wolf them anyway and Mike quizzes Jared about the various Girls of the Week on "Supernatural."
"How was Julie Benz? Was she nice?
"I didn't have many scenes with her but, yeah, she was fine."
Mike swigs his coke.
"I'd heard from Ally Hannigan that she was nasty on the Buffy set. I wanted to find out because I think she'd be a cool love interest for Lex."
"I thought that was Kristin's gig," says Jared. Mike rolls an eye.
"Not for much longer, hopefully. Both Kristin and I are fed up with it. I mean, she's a great girl but it's the same damn scene over and over."
Jared eats the last nacho.
"Well, you're directing next year, right? Maybe you can write and direct the big Lana/Lex break-up."
"They'll never let me write, man. Tom asked about changing a few lines on his episode and Miles shot him right down. Al might have said "yes" but Millar is a total control freak."
"Mmm." Jared is glad to be in the first year of his show. Insufficient time for grievances to have built up, hostilities to have festered. "You're disillusioning me, Rosey. I thought you guys were the love and puppies set."
"Everyone here in Vancouver is great," says Mike. "Great crew. I'm going to cry like a baby when we wrap, 'cause I'll miss 'em all. But Al, Miles, some of the writers....not so much."
He drinks the last of his coke.
"Want to bowl one more game?"
"Sure," says Jared. But when Mike gets up, he staggers and Jared thinks for a moment he's going to faint. Jared grabs Mike's arm to steady him and his skin is scorching hot.
"Whoa, buddy," says Jared. "I think you're running a fever, Mikey."
"That would explain why I've been a bit checked out all day," Mike says.
"Let's get you home," says Jared but when Mike takes a step, he looks like he's going to fall again. Jared puts an arm around Mike's waist and throws Mike's arm over his shoulders. Walking out like this earns them a few glances. One fat guy in a baseball cap looks on the verge of making a wisecrack but Jared shoots him a pre-emptive look that's pure Texas and means "don't mess." The guy lowers his eyes again.
Mike gives a little whimper as Jared helps him into the front seat but apparently no fever is high enough to deter him from fucking with the radio. He starts punching buttons again and they drive back to a soundtrack of eighties music, with Mike softly singing along.
Mike's phone trills as Jared is helping him to the door but Mike doesn't answer it. He's fumbling for his keys and drops them on the step. Jared retrieves them with one hand and holds Mike up with the other.
"Okay, let's get you in, get you some water."
"I have some good pot," Mike offers.
"Well, you're not having any now!" Jared says. He maneuvers Mike through the door, nearly tripping over a pile of sneakers in the hallway. "Let's get you to the couch."
"I'm giving you trouble," says Mike, suddenly penitent.
"No, no..." Jared deposits Mike on the couch, then walks around looking for light switches. He's only been to Mike's place once before, for a party. The phone trills again but Mike is sacked out on the couch and ignores it.
Jared locates light switches, fetches Mike a blanket from the bedroom and brings him a bottle of water.
"Mmm, thanks," says Mike, sleepily.
"You going to be okay?" Jared asks. He's thinking about leaving, but then he hesitates. He has an early call tomorrow but doesn't want to leave Rosey in the lurch. "Do you have a thermometer, Mike?"
"Mmm," Mike is face down on the couch, pillow under his flushed cheek. "Should be....in the bathroom."
Mike's bathroom defies expectation by being meticulously clean. His reading material consists of several editions of "The Hockey News" and a biography of Uta Hagen. Jared finds a thermometer in the medicine cabinet. Thankfully, it's of the underarm variety.
He sits on the edge of the couch. Mike drowsily blinks at him and says "Tom?"
"No, not Tom, Mikey," says Jared, gently. "Jared. C'mon, let's take your temperature."
Mike blinks again.
"You look like Tom." He's staring at Jared very intently. And when he sits up, their faces are quite close, close enough for Jared to feel Mike's breath on his neck.
"A little bit, maybe," says Jared. "Now, give me your arm."
Mike does and Jared tucks the thermometer into his armpit. His skin is still scorching hot.
"It'll take a minute to get a reading," says Jared and why does he suddenly feel the need to fill every silence?
"'kay, Tommy," says Mike, sleepily and this time Jared doesn't bother correcting him. The phone trills again and Mike grunts, shifts on the sofa and pulls the phone out of his pocket.
"Hello?" A pause, then Mike says. "Tom!"
"You're on my couch and on the phone with me; two places at once. Tom times two."
Jared opens his mouth to say something but the thermometer beeps and he pulls it out of the crease of Mike's arm. There's confused talk coming from the earpiece of Mike's phone.
"Two Toms," says Mike happily. "One Tom. Two Tom. Red Tom. Blue Tom."
Jared reaches out for the phone so he can explain the situation to poor Welling. Mike obediently hands the phone over but one of their fingers hits the disconnect button.
"Too bad," says Mike, lying back on the couch. "Just one Tom left now."
"Jared," Jared corrects automatically. "Okay, Mikey, your temperature is....thirty nine? Shit, it's in metric and I have no idea if that's high or not."
"Mmm," says Mike, unhelpfully, and drinks more water.
Jared finds a scrap of paper and a pencil and tries to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit. Presently, he gives up and goes back to the bathroom to check the thermometer's box; there was an instruction sheet inside it. Perhaps that will tell him what constitutes a fever in Canada.
He hears keys in the door, and then Mike shouts: "Tom!"
"What the hell's going on?" Welling's voice in the other room. "Did you take something?"
"We had beer and nachos and Sudafed and coke," says Mike. "And now water."
"No, you're loaded on something-"
"He's sick," says Jared, coming out of the bathroom. Tom stares at him and there's something in his eyes….an accusation, maybe? There's a moment of quiet; the only sound comes from Mike, murmuring backchat to the television. Jared doesn't like uncomfortable silences and breaks this one with a question.
"His fever's 39.2 Celsius – do you know if that's high?"
"Take your jacket off, Tommy," orders Mike from the couch.
Tom's expression eases a little.
"It's not good," he says. "But as long as it doesn't go over 40 Celsius he doesn't need to go to the hospital."
"Jacket!" repeats Mike and Tom finally smiles at Jared and throws his coat over the arm of the couch. He sits down next to Mike, who promptly puts his feet in Tom's lap.
"Do you want a drink?" Jared asks Tom, slightly confounded to find himself acting as Rosenbaum's hostess.
"I want a Diet Coke," says Mike, groggily.
"No, you don't," Tom tells him. "Caffeine's a diuretic and anyway you should go to sleep soon. Early call tomorrow."
Mike sits up, eyes suddenly bright.
"But you'll stay and watch "Conan" with me?"
Tom squeezes his foot.
"Yeah, I can stick around for a bit."
Mike leans back, head just touching Tom's shoulder.
"You'll stay too, Paddy?"
But something about the situation - the look on Tom's face, the way Rosenbaum's nearly nestling against his shoulder – is making Jared feel like a third wheel.
"Naw, I've got a seven o'clock start time tomorrow; I should go."
"Thanks for looking after me," says Mike, in a little kid, sing-song voice. "And give Ackles a slap upside the head from me; he'll know why."
"G'night, Jared," says Tom, politely.
Jared looks back just once before heading out the door. Tom's watching the TV, his profile shaded in blue light. And Mike….Jared's seen Mike with Playboy bunnies, models, WB starlets and Tara Reid. But he's never seen Mike look more contented than he does right now, half asleep, tucked in the crook of Tom Welling's arm.
It pangs Jared's heart a little; he doesn't analyze why, just closes the door quietly behind him.
The next day, he and Jen are taking a break while the next scene is set. It's an outdoor shoot and they're back at Deer Lake, their folding chairs set up in the shade of a tree. Jared describes the night before while Jen listens, head cocked to one side like a terrier.
"Whoa," he says when Jared's finished. "So…you think they're fucking, or what?"
Jared isn't sure; it had seemed somehow deeper than that. He says:
"You worked with them all last year. What do you think?"
Jen is working his way through a bag of honey roasted peanuts, meticulously eating one nut at a time. He says:
"I don't know. I mean, they were tight. Spent a lot of time hanging out together."
"So do we," Jared points out and Jen shoots him a sly look under his lashes.
"What're you implying there, Paddy?"
Jared gives him an innocent look. Jen continues:
"They stick up for each other, those two. I remember one guest director made a dig about Tom's acting. He was trying to ingratiate himself with the crew but Mikey heard and just ripped that guy a new one."
"Wow," says Jared. "Mike's usually nice to everyone."
"And it cuts both ways," says Jen. "There was this reporter…it was set up for her to interview Kristin, Mike and Tom. Mike stuck around after filming to talk to her and then she snubs him. She only wants, as she puts it, "Clark and Lana: the heart of the show."
"Cold," says Jared, helping himself to some of Jen's peanuts.
"Tom thought so; he walked out. Wouldn't talk to her. Al and Miles pitched a fit over speaker phone while old Tommy just sits there with a Mona Lisa smile on his face."
Their break's nearly over. Jensen tips the rest of his bag of peanuts into his mouth and washes it down with ginger ale. He gives Jared another sly look.
"You do realize," he says, "that Mike and Tommy have set the co-star expectation bar pretty high? Are you sure you can measure up?"
Jared raises an eyebrow.
"And what do you anticipate needing?"
"Well….." Jen pauses, pretending to think it over. "If I get sick, I'm not saying you have to rush over and tend to my every need, up to, and including, cuddling on the sofa….."
"But…?" prompts Jared.
"But it would be the right thing to do," says Jen and the third sly look is the one that pushes Jared over the edge. In an instant, he's knocked Jen out of his chair and has him pinned to the ground.
"Boys!" shouts one of the costume girls. "No grass stains or I will fucking slay you."
And Jensen and Jared share a private grin, then walk off in perfect harmony to shoot their next scene.