The first thing Jensen tries after moving in with Pooch and Jolene is the classic dinner and a movie. He chooses an upscale restaurant, buys Jolene flowers and Godiva, showers her with compliments, opens the door, pulls out her chair — the full nine. It's not exactly a disaster, but it's awkward as hell. Jolene flashes him these tight little smiles and gives Jensen these polite thank yous, and it feels like they're strangers. Jensen's not sure if he's even allowed to hold her hand in the theater when the lights dim. He doesn't know if she likes to talk during the previews or laugh together or whisper secrets in the dark. It all seems easier with Pooch there, sitting between them, his fingers twined with Jolene's and his hand resting on Jensen's knee.
Now, with just the two of them, Jensen's afraid to even prop his arm on the shared arm rest, so he keeps his hands firmly planted in his lap before he realizes that he probably should have bought some popcorn. He's fairly sure Jolene likes that.
"So." Jensen flounders while the credits roll and tries a grin that Jolene answers with a smile. "Uh."
He doesn't have any more than that, and the longer he stares, the tighter Jolene's smile gets until finally, she says, "That was nice."
"Yeah." They sit there and then stand at the same time, made all the more awkward 'cause Jensen was going to give Jolene a hand up -- which sounds stupid in retrospect -- and nearly smacks her in the face. Smooth, Jensen, smooth, he thinks, and tries to use the movie as a cover-up. "Yeah, it was pretty cool. The special effects ... ."
"Those were nice."
They stand there while everyone else clears out, and Jensen can't figure out what to do with his hands all of a sudden, so he motions to the stairs. "So I guess ... ?"
Jolene nods. "Yeah."
Jensen nods, too, and follows her out. He drives them home, parks in the driveway and doesn't know the protocol on good night kisses, which is dumb because they live together. They've kissed. Nothing serious. Good morning kisses, pecks on the cheeks, sleepy kisses, Jolene's-cooking-is-amazing-and-deserves-kisses kisses. Jensen's about to try the long, lingering look that precedes a movie kiss, where it's all deep and momentous just before it gets hot, but Jolene's already out of the car and waltzing straight through the front door. Jensen scrambles to catch up and gets there just in time to watch Jolene head straight for Pooch on the couch. It makes something in Jensen's chest clench as he quietly shuts the door and turns the lock.
"How'd it go?" Pooch asks, looking between them when Jolene sweeps Jamaar up and twirls him, blowing a raspberry against his belly.
Jensen glances at Jolene, waiting for her to answer, but she's busy getting her hair loose from Jamaar's grip with a, "No, baby. Ow. Mommy needs her hair."
So Jensen pastes on a smile and answers the only way he can — with a thumbs up and a bright, "Success."
"Okay," Pooch says the next afternoon when it's just him and Jensen in the kitchen, Jolene and Jamaar spending an afternoon at the park.
Jensen is about to stick with his answer from yesterday, but Pooch gives him the stare like he knows, and Jensen sort of crumples, ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. "Man, I don't know."
Pooch stares — a different one, more thoughtful, maybe more sympathetic — but he doesn't offer any critical insight like do this. No, instead, Pooch goes all cryptic wise man on the mountain and pats Jensen's shoulder. "Give it time."
How much? Jensen wants to ask, but a deadline is the last thing he needs.
Jolene is on the living room floor playing with Jamaar. The little guy's banging blocks while Jo kisses him with the fuzzy brown Army teddy bear that Clay bought once they — Jo and Pooch — settled in at the new house. They haven't exactly told the team that Jensen is part of Jolene-and-Pooch, because he's not really sure if he is. Yet. He's got to remember yet.
"Hey," Jensen says with a grin.
Jolene smiles with a, "Hey," of her own and bumps his shoulder when he sits, kissing his cheek with the bear.
Jensen's about to move in to kiss Jolene's cheek for real but stops and then the awkward pause is too awkward and too long to continue. "Are you free on Saturday night?"
Jo's smile deepens, dimples appearing at the corners of her mouth, but Jensen's a little in love with how soft and warm her eyes get when she looks at him, and he thinks, Yeah, we can make this work. "I don't know. I'll have to find a babysitter."
"Already found one."
Jolene laughs, and Jamaar squeals for their attention, banging the purple block and the red block against each other in a battle royale. "You move fast."
"Well—" Jensen starts, hesitant, but Jolene bumps his shoulder again as she makes the bear dance for Jamaar's amusement.
"I like fast," she says, her whisper teasing. Then she glances at him, waiting.
"I want to take you out." Jensen pauses and then mentally slaps himself and amends it to, "Can I? Take you out? On a date? Just the two of us?"
Jolene tucks a lock of her hair behind her ear. "That depends. Where are you taking me?"
Jensen flashes a grin. "It's a surprise."
Jolene's quiet for long enough that Jensen's stricken with the thought that she might actually say no. Which, of course, she can say no, but— "Okay." And Jensen takes a very deep, very relieved breath. Her smile brightens as she adds, "I like surprises."
Jensen drops the chocolates and sticks with the classic flower and nothing nearly as fancy as the dozen roses that he bought the first time around. He buys a yellow flower with large, drooping petals and presents it to Jolene at the door.
"Ready?" he asks, watching as she rubs her cheek against the petals with a smile that reveals her dimples.
She nods, and like a gentleman, Jensen offers her his arm and escorts her to the car. This time, Jensen goes for unconventional and fun and takes Jolene dancing. Specifically, salsa lessons. The whole time, he can't stop staring at how bright and big her smile is as he twirls her around the studio, and he can't stop the way his heart jumps when the song ends and she presses her forehead to his shoulder, her fingers clenched in his shirt. And the sound she's making is a very happy laugh, like the laughs that she shares with Pooch when he sneaks up behind her in the kitchen and whispers something — probably really filthy — in her ear. Jensen wonders if her heart beats this hard and fast, too, when he slides into bed with her, if the two of them will ever fit the way she and Pooch do in the middle of the night.
"I think I need a break," Jolene pants, probably as out of breath as Jensen is. "And some water."
"Yeah, sure. I think there's a fountain down the hall somewhere."
Jolene pats his chest, and there's ... something? In her eyes? Probably thirst, Jensen thinks, and lets her go when she pulls away.
Jensen loses another opportunity trying to figure out what to do when they get home. Jolene has already breezed into the house and swooped Jamaar into her arms, greeting him with a big, loud kiss.
"Missed you," Pooch says, what he always says when Jo comes back, and sweeps her hair away from her face. "So what did you guys do?"
Jolene pecks Pooch's cheek, murmuring her own endearments. "Jensen took me dancing. And now"—She gives Jamaar back to Pooch with a bright smile—"I'm going to go and take a shower."
She vanishes down the hall, and Jensen's still lingering near the door.
Pooch approaches with a half-smile and brushes a kiss to Jensen's cheek that he's never going to see coming. "So?"
"Uh." Jensen blinks and stares and figures out what Pooch is asking. "Still don't know, man."
"Seriously, Jensen." Pooch bounces Jamaar and herds Jensen away from the door toward the couch. "Stop over thinking this. It's Jolene. She already loves you, man."
But Jensen knows that's just not true, and he really wants to add a 'yet' to the end of that but can't figure out how.
Date number three, Jensen takes Jolene bowling because he's still trying to fill up the 'what does Jolene like/love' column of his spreadsheet. So far, he knows that her favorite color is green and that she likes/loves Pooch, Jamaar, and dancing.
Bowling ends up being a bad idea. They both suck at it but keep trying anyway until Jolene's hand curls around Jensen's while he's trying a different size ball and says, "Let's get milkshakes."
Jolene orders a banana malt that makes her eyes flutter shut with a happy little hum, and Jensen can't stop thinking about the way her hand covered his, the way she reached for him like it was nothing at all, and he can't figure out why making them work isn't easier.
Three weeks later, Jolene takes Jensen out on a date, and holy shit, Jensen didn't know she could drive. He knew, of course, because when Pooch and Jolene first met, he'd done his research and found a few speeding tickets, but this. This explains a lot. Like how Jolene shifts gears and drifts the car into the curve while Jensen is desperately clinging to the door handle because the oh shit handle is conveniently missing.
Once he manages to swallow his heart back down into his chest where it belongs, he can't help but stare. "Where the hell did you learn that?"
Jolene flashes him a coy look and answers with a vague, "Some friends. We used to race and do some really, really, really stupid things." But her laugh sounds fond as she parks the car, and the view — when Jensen finally thinks to look — is incredible.
They sit in the car for a long time, silent and a little awkward until Jensen fortifies himself with a mental fuck it and reaches for Jolene's hand. She smiles at him, turning her palm and slotting her fingers between his.
"So, Pooch," Jensen says, not looking up from his laptop, because killing all the zombies is very important, "do I have your permission to kiss your wife?"
Jensen sort of catches the look Pooch gives him — part confused, part what the hell. "Why are you asking me?"
"Uh." Jensen taps idly on the keyboard.
"Okay, why are you asking me now?" Pooch clarifies. "You've kissed her before, Jensen."
Jensen had a ton more reasons, but he draws a blank now.
Pooch shakes his head. "How about this? You have my full permission to kiss me any time you want."
Jensen grins and immediately takes advantage because Pooch, man. They have history.
They're returning from another okay date, and Jensen catches Jolene with a, "Hey, wait," curling a hand around her arm before she can vanish inside. He slides his hand into hers and squeezes it. "So, uh, can I kiss you?"
Jolene flashes Jensen almost the same look that Pooch did, but it's more confused than what the hell and a little part hurt maybe? "Is that—" She shakes her head a little, and Jensen realizes she does that when she's trying to clear her head, trying to ask something better. "Jensen," she says softly, followed by a gentle tightening of her fingers around his. "Baby." And that one word shouldn't make something soften and flutter in Jensen's chest like he's stupid and in high school. Her eyes meet his, and she gives him this small, warm little smile. "Of course you can kiss me."
Jensen bends down. It's weird and awkward and slow until they both start laughing and try again, kissing for real, like they did before Pooch suggested these dates so they could know each other a little more, spend some time together, just the two of them. Jensen's missed the way Jolene cups his cheek, the way her right hand wraps around his arm to balance herself, the way she gives a little tongue and the way she smiles just before she draws away.
"I've missed these," she softly laughs. "I thought you were mad at me."
Now it's Jensen's turn to be confused. "Mad?"
Jolene nods. "Yeah. You used to kiss me every morning then you stopped, and Lin wouldn't tell me anything."
"Me either. He, uh." Jensen shakes his head. "Sorry. I just—You know, thought—" He shakes his head again and laughs. "Pooch, man."
Jolene laughs, too. "You don't make any sense." She hops up and presses a quick kiss to Jensen's lips. "Come on. Let's go inside. I want to see my baby."
And for a second, Jensen thinks Jolene means Pooch, and the sick, twisted feeling in his stomach comes back full force until he realizes she meant the real baby. He still feels weird about it, but then Jolene and Pooch turn to him, smiling, and Jensen goes to them, tickling Jamaar's stomach as he loops an arm around Pooch's waist.
Date eight is the most boring date ever, but Jensen can't help but feel like it's the best. He orders pizza — Hawaiian for himself and barbecue for Jolene — and they sit on the couch and watch rentals. Around the second movie, Jensen makes a bag of popcorn. A third of the way through, Jolene lays her head in his lap, and ten minutes later, after a silent, mental kick, Jensen sets a hand on her shoulder and misses the moment when the awkward, heavy petting becomes an absent caress and Jolene falls asleep. He doesn't figure it out until he shifts to get up and she doesn't move, just murmurs sleepily and burrows closer to him.
Apparently, Jolene drools a little in her sleep, but Jensen can't help but consider it progress as he relaxes back onto the couch and watches the credits roll.