Elle rolled her eyes at Jensen. “Really, you can leave for the weekend. I know you have work to do. Jared and I will be fine here.”
Jensen cocked an eyebrow, at once sexy and scolding. She giggled and then turned as Jared loped into the room. He slipped one arm around her and dipped to brush her cheek with his lips.
“Don’t worry, Jay,” he shook his dark hair out of his eyes. “I’ll take good care of her.”
Jensen shook his head and rolled his eyes a little more widely than necessary. “You? I’m more worried about you than her. Remember when you broke the coffee table??”
“I was working on my dancing!” Jared protested. “I needed to learn to floss!”
Jensen smiled warmly at his partners, little crinkles forming in the corners of his sparkling green eyes. “I love you two walking disasters.”
He said his goodbyes to each of them, sharing long lingering kisses before finally turning to go. The door hadn’t closed before he popped his head back in, a mock stern look on his face, to say, “And no redecorating this weekend!”
“That was one time!” Elle called out after him.
To be fair, she and Jared had rearranged the entire living room and also painted one wall of his bedroom blue-grey. Then she had thought that the breakfast table in the kitchen would look great with a new mosaic top made of pottery scraps and beach glass. But she had gotten hyper fixated on the pattern and she and Jared were still rearranging pieces like a puzzle without a picture when Jensen came home.
The first night without Jensen was quiet. When either of her boyfriends left, Elle missed them so much. She felt their absence like a physical ache, a hollowness in her chest. She wondered, sometimes, if they missed her as much when she was gone. But when the three of them were reunited, their close hugs and warm kisses, their wide smiles and loving words, left no room for doubt.
That night, Elle settled into bed alone. One of the great things about the condo the three of them shared was the fact that they each had their own bedroom. They could all sleep together, or spend the night apart, as it suited them. With Jensen gone, though, sleeping alone felt lonelier somehow. Elle turned on the light, hoping that a less dark room would feel less empty.
She heard a soft knock on the door.
“Come in,” she called.
Jared stepped just inside the door, a hopeful smile on his face. “I saw your light was on…” He trailed off, but she understood. He looked adorable, standing there, slightly rumpled in his grey shirt and plaid pajama pants. Elle shook her head. It still surprised her, after this long together, how a man of his size could sometimes look just like a lost little boy.
“Come here,” she said, patting the space on the bed next to her. Jared slipped under the covers with a grateful sigh. He tugged her close with one hand and she reached up to switch off the light before she settled back against him.
“I miss him too, when he’s gone. Just like I miss you when you aren’t here,” she confessed aloud to the dark room. He didn’t answer, just nuzzled into the curve of her neck gently. “Did you take your meds?” She felt rather than saw him nod. He was warm, the length of his body stretched out behind her, and she felt her breathing slow down in time with his.
They were comfortable together, the two of them, and for tonight, it was enough. Elle drifted off to sleep in his arms, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
On Saturday morning, Elle was awakened by the sound of paws scratching at the door.
“Jared,” she murmured, still half asleep. “Your dog.”
He grumbled softly and pulled her close, anchoring himself close. She shifted in his embrace until she was facing him. His face was soft from sleep, his hazel eyes drowsy. She ran one hand up into his long tangled hair, cupping his cheekbone. Then she kissed him, morning breath be damned.
The dog started to whine and then scratched at the door again. Daisy had been Jared’s dog before he met Jensen. She was a beautiful Golden rescue, getting up in years, but still affectionate and active.
“I guess I’ll take this old girl for a run,” Jared said. Elle nodded and buried her face deeper into the pillow without speaking. Once he and the dog had left, though, she couldn’t fall back asleep. The bed seemed too big and cold without his presence. She got up and took a shower before heading for the kitchen.
A few days ago, she had shown Jared a video on the internet of a person cooking tater tots in a waffle iron. He was very interested so she thought she would give it a try. She burned the first batch and under-cooked the second. She was finally getting the hang of it when Jared and Daisy burst into the kitchen, in high spirits from their exercise.
“Tot waffles?” Jared laughed as he swept her up in a sweaty embrace. “That sounds like something naughty.” She kissed him eagerly as he spun her around. Daisy twined around their legs, tail wagging.
The beep of the oven timer interrupted their affectionate greetings. “Ooh, that’s the bacon!” Elle exclaimed. “Let me down so we can eat.”
The two of them settled at the kitchen table with not only waffle iron tots but also coffee, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, and jam. Daisy settled between their feet, perfectly positioned to catch anything that they dropped. And they dropped plenty.
Jensen would scold if he was there, going on about table manners and the importance of a balanced diet for pets. Even though he was gone, the two of them could almost hear his voice warning the two of them. They indulged in the sneaky sense of doing something forbidden as they shared their breakfast with the dog.
After breakfast, Jared showered while Elle cleaned up. He bounded back into the kitchen, still shaking water out of his hair, Daisy at his heels.
“What now?” he asked. His hazel eyes sparkled with the potential for endless mischief. “Movie marathon?”
“I know!” Elle exclaimed. “You’ve never seen Firefly!”
“Firefly?” Jared was skeptical.
“Yeah, you know, a classic space western. Whedon made it between his Buffy days and his Avengers days.”
Jared was hooked from the moment he heard the theme song.
“Take me out to the black
Tell ‘em I ain’t coming back
Burn the land
Boil the sea
You can’t take the sky from me”
The two of them binged episode after episode, Elle stretched out on the couch while Jared sprawled in the recliner. Sometime during the third episode, she decided that her watching experience would be better closer to him.
Jared was sitting in the recliner in typical Jared fashion: half sideways with one leg tossed over an arm of the chair and the other full length out in front of him. His back rested against the other arm of the chair and one arm dangled over the headrest. Elle got up and settled on the arm of the chair behind him, leaning down to rest her cheek on his hair.
He tipped back his face and smiled, a big dimpled smile, before slipping one arm around her. He tugged her down to sit next to him, and she settled into the chair, half next to and half on top of him.
“Hi, beautiful,” He murmured, skimming his fingers up her cheekbones and ruffling her cropped pink hair. “Did you get lonely over on the couch?”
“I just wanted to be closer to you, Jay,” she answered, right before she lowered her lips to his. Their arms and legs tangled together as their mouths met. The TV rolled over into the next episode but neither of them noticed. All of their attention was focused on one another, on whispers and cuddles and kisses.
Jared pushed the recliner out to its fullest length, giving the two of them more room to stretch out and snuggle. Elle rolled on top of him, caressing his face and running her fingers through his hair. He pulled her closer into his arms.
Suddenly Elle felt herself falling, and she let out a shriek of surprise as the recliner tipped over. The chair settled backwards with a thump, Elle sprawled on top of Jared in a tangle of arms and legs.
“Are you okay?” Jared asked.
She nodded. “Are you?”
The sudden noise had startled Daisy awake, and she padded over to check. Her warm wet nose nudged them both in turn
Once they confirmed that no one was injured, Elle couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her lips. Jared’s eyes went wide and then he began to laugh, too, that magical head-back, chest-heaving laugh that shook his whole body. The two of them laughed until they were both out of breath. As soon as one of them would calm themselves, the other would start to laugh and set off another fit of giggles.
Finally they both managed to settle down. Neither of them bothered to straighten the chair, just rearranged themselves so they could continue making out. They were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“My Amazon order!” Jared leaped up with boyish eagerness. He came back tearing into a brown box, revealing a giant bag of gummy sour rope candy.
“Wait-” Elle began, before he dangled a solid yard of rainbow candy in front of her. She lifted her mouth eagerly before he snatched it away. She jumped to her feet to try to grab it. The two of them batted playfully at the candy and ended up eating it by the foot and then the inch as their mouths met on the same ribbon of sugar.
“My god,” she exclaimed. “This tastes just like being a kid again!”
“Right?” Jared’s grin lit his face, pushing dimples into his cheeks and fine lines next to his hazel eyes. Sometimes when he smiled like that, she could see the boy he had been, all carefree enthusiasm.
He sat down on the couch, still holding his box of candy. Elle settled on his lap facing him. Eating candy quickly turned into sour sugar kisses. Kisses turned into playful, carefree sex. It was close and sweet and familiar. Together, they were enough.
Afterwards, they put another episode of Firefly on the TV and stretched out side by side. Between the sugar crash and the sex endorphins, both of them were drowsy. They drifted off to sleep, spooned on the couch together.
After a couple of hours, Daisy padded over to the couch. Elle squealed softly as the dog licked her face with a warm, wet tongue.
“Jay,” she sighed. “Take the dog outside.”
Jared did. When he came back, Elle moved enough for him to sit back down on the couch. She rested her head against his thighs while his fingers skimmed over her face and shoulders. She was too relaxed to really move.
“Hey Elle?” he asked eventually. “Wouldn’t this be better if we had a giant beanbag?”
“What?” Startled, she sat up straight. He showed her the shopping link on his phone. It was truly, a giant, bean bag. Then he flashed a card in front of her eyes. It was Jensen’s Centurion Black credit card.
“What?!” She asked again, but she was laughing when she spoke. “You can NOT.”
“Oh yeah,” Jared said, leaning in for a kiss. “Perks of a famous boyfriend.”
“You’re famous too,” she reminded him, teasingly.
“Yeah, but I can’t remember where my black card is,” Jared admitted sheepishly. All Elle could do was shake her head.
Jared ordered the giant beanbag and then clicked the TV back on to keep watching Firefly. After a couple more episodes, Elle hit pause on the remote.
“I’m getting hungry, Jay.” She leaned into his chest, batting her eyes in teasing flirtation. “Aren’t you?”
“How about… grilled cheese?” Both of them loved grilled cheese. They enjoyed the classic – white bread, American cheese, butter – as well as inventing elaborate combinations.
That night was a creative night. Elle went to work on a multi-layered sandwich while Jared made something with fewer ingredients but equal care. When they were done, they settled down at the table with their creations. He grabbed the dill pickles and she opened a bag of potato chips.
With a dramatic flourish, she pushed a plate towards him. “I present to you, the Applewood Grilled Cheese!” Jared looked at her and scoffed. She shrugged.
“Only because I got tired of calling it the Sourdough Sour Apple Mozzarella Cheddar Bacon Basil Grilled Cheese.” The bread was toasted a perfect golden brown, the cheese all melty. Jared still looked skeptical until he took a bite.
He huffed out a pleased sigh and downed one triangle half of the sandwich in two more bites. “The green apple, you wouldn’t think it would work.”
“But it does,” Jared and Elle said, together. Her mouth quirked up in a pleased smile.
Then he smiled at her and held out the plate with the sandwich he had made. “Try this.”
Elle took one bite, then another one. She closed her eyes, trying to figure out what she was tasting.
“Is that- jam? Did you make a jam grilled cheese?”
When she looked at him again, he was smiling just a little, his face so sweet and earnest. Then he told her a story.
“You know how I get depressed, sometimes?” She nodded. All three of them in the relationship were open about their struggles with mental health, and supported one another.
“Well, not long after Jensen and I first got together, I was too down to get out of bed, for like, days. He came over and practically dragged me into the shower. No, not like that. Just helping me do anything to feel better.
“Anyway, when I got back to the kitchen, he had scoured my fridge and cabinets. I don’t eat much when I’m really down so I was low on supplies. But he had found enough to make me a grilled cheese with provolone and strawberry jam.”
Elle took a big bite, her gaze never leaving his face. “So this is what comfort tastes like to you?”
Jared blushed a little when he nodded, but didn’t look away. It was a very vulnerable conversation, especially just between the two of them. They were used to Jensen being there for these moments, his warm, solid presence grounding both of them. But this was too important not to discuss. They talked softly, openly, while they finished their dinner, and lingered over the table long after the food was gone.
In time, the words trailed off. It was just the two of them in the safe, comfortable space that they had built together. Trust was the bedrock of their relationship, the foundation for everything that felt so natural. It made it easy to giggle and eat candy and tip over the furniture. It made it exciting to invent and share new foods. It made it enjoyable to have sex and sleep in the same bed.
Jared and Elle were looking deep into one another’s eyes, holding hands gently, fingers intertwined over a field of empty dishes. Daisy padded into the kitchen and laid her head on Jared’s thigh. Without letting go of Elle’s hand, he reached down and patted the dog.
“Hey, girl,” he greeted her. “Wanna go out?”
“You two go ahead. I need to touch up my hair color,” Elle said.
“Hair … color ?” Jared seemed lost.
“Yeah.” She scoffed. “What, did you think my hair came out of my head this pink? No. It takes a lot of work to look this good.” She made a teasing sexy smirk face, and then smiled for real as Jared kissed her before heading towards the door with the dog.
Elle retreated to her own bathroom (the boys shared with one another, she did not) to perform her regular dye ritual. Her short hair was saturated with color when Jared appeared behind her in the mirror. He leaned his chin on the corner of her shoulder, careful to avoid the dye, and blew her a kiss in the mirror.
She smiled widely, meeting his gaze in his reflection. “I look silly with my hair slicked back like this. My ears stick out.”
“You always look beautiful to me,” he replied, sneaking a kiss on the back of her neck. “I wish I could dye my hair, sometimes.”
She whirled around so fast. “Dude, you can! I can help you.”
Jared shook his head. “No, you know I’m an actor. I’ve gotta keep my look.”
“Okay, but just a little pink. Behind your ear. No one will see it as long as you keep your hair pulled forward like your character.” Her eyes were wide and earnest, her voice convincing.
He was skeptical but she wore him down. “You’re not shooting at the moment anyway. Plus your hair is dark, it will fade soon. I promise, okay?” It was partly her, and partly the impulsive need to do something, to be different, to try.
Jared agreed. Elle carefully applied color to one mostly-hidden section of his long dark hair. Then the two of them watched another episode of Firefly while they waited.
Elle had done her hair first, so she hopped in the shower first. She was applying an after-color deep conditioner when Jared pulled back the curtain. She helped him rinse and condition his hair, and then he rinsed hers. Running their fingers through one another’s hair quickly turned from functional to foreplay.
They were both still damp when they collapsed on the bed in Jared’s room. They moved slowly, languidly, taking advantage of all the space on the bed to explore and enjoy one another. This sex was warm and close and lingering.
Sometimes the two of them were so perfectly in sync that it almost seemed unreal. This weekend was turning out to be one of those times. They were savoring every minute: food and tv shows and self care and candy and sex.
They drifted off naked in a tangle of legs and sheets, happy and satisfied after a day of everything they wanted. Together, they were enough.
On Sunday morning, Elle woke up late. When she could no longer deny the bright sunlight streaming into the room, her eyes fluttered open. Jared was looking at her with an expression of absolute adoration and mischief all at once. His gaze filled her with a golden happiness like champagne bubbles.
Elle laughed lazily, and Jared kissed her, slow and sleepy.
“Hi, Elle,” he said softly, his deep voice just above a whisper.
“Hi, Sunshine,” she answered. It was impossible to express how much he meant to her, he and Jensen both. They were equal, the three of them, all in love with one another. But each one of them brought a special dynamic to the relationship. Her bond with the two boys was all the stronger for her bond with each of them.
“Me and Daisy need to run, but do you think when we come back, you could make some more of those - tot waffles?” He smirked mischievously. She lifted her lips to his and for a few moments they were lost in one another, until Daisy pawed at the door and whined.
When Jared and Daisy returned, Elle had successfully made coffee and more waffle iron tater tots. That morning, she had gone with a Tex-Mex theme, so the breakfast table had cheddar cheese, sour cream, pico di gallo, and sliced avocado. She and Jared dug in eagerly, sharing as many bites with Daisy as the dog could hope.
“What should we do today?” Jared asked, entwining his long fingers with hers.
“Well, we never finished Firefly,” she answered. Sour candy and sex and hair dye and sex again had seemed more important the day before. Today, tho, she was ready to finish her favorite show with one of her boyfriends.
Jared dragged the recliner upright and the two of them managed to settle in together, without overturning it this time. Elle leaned back against him, enjoying his closeness, savoring the way his arms twined around her and held her tight. She relaxed in his warm embrace.
The two of them were a couple of episodes in when a knock sounded at the door. The bean bag was delivered in a box even bigger than either of them had imagined, and it took some effort to drag it into the living room. Working as a team, they pushed back the other furniture to make room. When they opened the box, the bean bag spilled out, gloriously squishy and soft.
Jared flopped down first, arms and legs splayed dramatically. Then he shimmyed his hips to sink deeper into the bean bag. Once he was satisfied with how it felt, he leaned back and held out a hand. Elle let herself be pulled in. The two of them settled together into the encompassing cloud that was the bean bag.
They watched the final couple of episodes. Both of them cried openly at the ending, comfortable enough with one another that they had no reason to hide it. Then they discussed the finer aspects of several plot points and grabbed the remote back and forth to rewatch certain scenes.
“Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don’t care
I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me”
The two of them were listening to the theme song, one last time, just for the feels, when they heard the sound of a key in the door.
Their heads turned together as Jensen stepped inside. Elle jumped up first, running towards him eagerly. He drew her in close for a big hug and kiss before heading towards the kitchen for some water. Jared met him there, with more welcoming kisses. When Jensen finally pulled away from his boyfriend and girlfriend, he took a long look around. The kitchen was a wreck of food wrappers and produce scraps and cooking utensils scattered about.
“Look, you two,” he sighed. “I love a good meal as much as the next guy. But what did you do in this kitchen, open every cabinet and just shake it?”
“We made grilled cheese!” Jared answered, smiling his most winning smile. “And then tot waffles.” He shot Elle a teasing look and she stifled a laugh.
“And that involved-” Jensen broke off and shook his head before cataloging the damage. “A cutting board, two kinds of bread, 3 or 4 kinds of cheese, tomato, jam, avocado, apple, bacon, mayonnaise, butter, sour cream and-” his fingers ruffled through the basil scraps on the counter “-some green shit?
Elle wrapped one arm around his neck and lifted her face. His lips met hers, plush and deep. “You’re just jealous you missed it,” she whispered.
Jensen hummed contentedly as his boyfriend came up behind him and pulled him into a warm embrace. Jared settled his arms around his waist and trailed kisses down his neck while Elle kept enjoying his mouth.
“Uhhhh,” Jensen sighed when he finally pulled away. “I missed you two.”
Jared grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the living room. He reached for Elle, and the three of them collapsed together into the new, giant bean bag.
Jensen had his boyfriend under one arm and his girlfriend under the other in the perfect cuddle puddle. He kissed them both, lingering and welcome, before he tried to sit up.
“Is this that charge on my Centurion card?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Okay, look, but,” Jared spluttered.
“Isn’t it worth it?” Elle chimed in.
Jensen sighed deeply, shaking his head, pretending to be unhappy. “What will I do with the two of you?”
“What will you do?” Jared exclaimed, just before he sank his face into the curve of Jensen’s shoulder
“What would you do without us?” Elle just had to ask. She was answered by Jensen’s lips on hers and Jared’s fingers in hers. That night, in the moment, the three of them were enough for one another.
The three of them together, was all they could have ever wanted, more than they could’ve ever hoped or dreamed.
In the bean bag chair, in one another’s arms, they were enough.