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Rings, and Other Workplace Hazards

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It had all been so easy up to this point. Jensen had flopped over onto the couch (dislodging Cat, who gave him an evil eye and stalked off,) wriggled over until his head was in Cougar’s lap, and said, “You know, if we got married we could file a joint tax return.” Cougar snorted, a soft noise of amusement, and gave Jensen the thumbs up, all without ever looking up from the latest issue of Lucky Peach.

And that had been that. Jensen had looked into marriage licenses, they’d played rock-paper scissors to see who got Pooch as their best man (Cougar won, of course,) and then they had made an appointment at the courthouse. It was going to be low key. Stress free. Informal. Small. (Cougar had been very emphatic about the small part. Under no circumstances were any members of his family to be informed until after the ceremony, or, Jensen was given to understand, they would be inundated with possibly hundreds of assorted Alvarez aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends, all of whom would conspire to force Jensen into a suit, and probably also a church. Jensen hated suits, and also he’d been waiting for weeks to wear his Special Wedding T-Shirt.) Pooch would be Cougar’s witness, and Becca would be Jensen’s, and Sarah would be their flower girl, because she had asked, wide eyed and softly hopeful, if she could be the flower girl. When it had looked like they might say no, Sarah had added, in quavering tones, that they were her only uncles, and she might never get to be a flower girl if she didn’t get to be theirs. Cougar immediately caved, because Cougar was a giant sucker who hadn’t been hardened in the fires of screaming tantrums and demands for ponies. Jensen would have lasted at least another minute. Maybe a minute thirty.

So they had Sarah in an adorable poofy dress as their one concession to wedding madness, and that was that until Jolene said, “What about rings?”

Jensen blinked “What about them?” he asked cautiously.

“Oh Jake, baby - please tell me you didn’t forget the rings.”

“I didn’t forget them, exactly?” Jensen said. He hadn’t either - it was just that he’d dismissed them the same way he dismissed tuxedos and wedding cakes and flower arrangements. “Do we need rings? I don’t think we need rings. I dunno, we haven’t talked about it. Oh god, please tell me I don’t need rings.”

Jolene looked at him and sighed. “Let me get my purse,” she said, and that was how, forty-five minutes later, Jensen found himself staring at a case full of nearly identical gold bands, and swiftly losing his mind. Cougar had texted on the drive over - Going out with pooch, and Jensen had texted back Can we please elope?. There had been no answer. Jolene and the flamboyantly gay salesman were carrying on a discussion, bandying about phrases like classic masculine style and military hipster meets south of the border, and Jensen might have heard hopeless geek, but by that time he had stopped listening and was mentally replaying all the stages of Lemmings to stave off insanity.

Jensen stumbled in the front door several hours later, mentally and physically drained, and sat down heavily on the couch. He thought about texting Cougar, maybe something along the lines of Traitor, or Bring beer, STAT, but gave up. Getting his cellphone out of his pocket was way too much work. Cat wandered up a minute later, meowing his particular I am a poor starving cat who never gets any food meow (Cat was a lying liar who weighed seventeen and a half pounds at his last vet visit.) When Jensen ignored him, Cat butted Jensen’s shin, then hopped into his lap to tread heavily all over Jensen’s crotch.

Jensen wheezed, doubling over to protect his junk. Cat purred.

“Jesus, fine, you little feline terrorist,” Jensen muttered. “If Cougar fed you before he went out and you’re lying about being hungry, I’m going to... I dunno. Do something awful. Impose catnip sanctions on the nation of Catlandia.” With great effort, he dragged himself upright and stumbled toward the kitchen. As Jensen reached the hallway, the front door opened.

Cougar stood in the open door, looking haggard.

“You too?” Jensen asked. Suddenly the text from Cougar made sense: Pooch and Jolene had been working in evil married-person harmony.

Cougar nodded, grimacing, and held up a bag from the liquor store and a DVD.

“I love you,” Jensen said with heartfelt sincerity. “So much. All my love, in exchange for excellently timed alcohol.”

Cat meowed again, reminding everyone that there there was a neglected feline present, and Cougar frowned. “I fed him,” he said, sounding exhausted.

“You lying beast!” Jensen exclaimed, lunging for Cat. Cat fled back into the living room, there to hide under the couch until the humans forgot about him, at which point he would attack their toes. It worked every time, and Cat seemed to enjoy the inevitable shrieking.

Half an hour later, slumped half on the cushions and half on Cougar, Jensen said, “We can’t even wear them. Not while we’re working.”

Cougar shifted slightly, bringing a hand up to run his wonderful fingers over the back of Jensen’s head and scratch lightly at the hollow at the base of his skull.

“Mmm, yes. That. That is awesome. Your fingers are awesome, and-” Jensen yawned, “-that’s why it would be a crying shame if you lost one. Because of rings. Rings getting caught on things. Tragic ring accidents.” He yawned again, and snuggled a little closer to Cougar. Head scratches were the best ever. This was one area where Cat and Jensen were in complete agreement. (Cougar didn’t mind head scratches, but prefered hair pulling, which made sense to Jensen - a man didn’t grow his hair that long for nothing, after all.) “Although,” Jensen continued, mumbling into Cougar’s stomach, “it’s not like we do much of that stuff any more. Consultancy is pretty low risk. So if you want-”

“No rings,” Cougar interrupted.

“Oh thank fuck,” Jensen said, and dragged Cougar down to be properly kissed.