Jensen Family Traits
Author: Lily Zen
Prompt: elenorasweet requested a comment fic or something last month where Cougar has tinsel or ribbons tied in his hair. I liked the imagery, and so this is my take on that.
Disclaimer: The Losers doesn't belong to me.
It's a rare leave between assignments, and Jensen decides to spend a few days at his sister's house after Cassie puts Beth on the phone to list off all the reasons why she needs to see her Uncle Jake. Then she adds as an afterthought, "Uncle Cougar has to come too. I have to show him my new super soaker." Jensen lets out a rough bark of laughter and Cougar looks up from his bunk and the magazine in his hands with a curious look that shifts immediately back to contrived indifference.
"Wait, wait," Jensen says into the phone and he hits the button to put it on speaker phone, "Why do I have to bring Uncle Cougar again?"
Beth releases a long-suffering sigh and her voice is utterly annoyed as she reiterates her reasoning. "I have to show him my new super soaker. Uncle Jake, are you going deaf?" Jensen laughs again and marvels silently once more just how damn smart Beth is for a six year old.
"Nope," he replies, "Just wanted to make sure I got your argument right. That way when I present your case to Coug, I do it the right way. Y'know? Just wanna make sure I got my T's crossed, my I's dotted."
The phone is silent for a moment, then Beth goes, "What? …Mom says you talk in circles, Uncle Jake. I think I get it now."
On the bed, Cougar's lips are twitching as he tries to hold back his amusement.
Jensen is spluttering into the phone indignantly, trying to defend himself while simultaneously calling his sister out. "You stop corrupting my niece!" is one phrase that keeps repeating itself, and Cougar can hear Beth's high-pitched giggle and Cassie's more adult version of the same laugh over the line.
Needless to say, Cougar lets himself be convinced rather easily.
A day later, Jensen and Cougar show up at Cassie's house. Jensen has his arms laden with presents for his two favorite girls. Cassie gives her brother a look that says clear as day, "Jake, I'm going to kill you," when Beth tears the newspaper off of a clumsily wrapped set of bongo drums. The little girl shrieks in excitement and immediately begins smacking them to a slightly off-tempo beat only she can hear.
Jensen crows triumphantly and smirks at his sister. "Just be glad I didn't get her the real drum set. Cougar talked me out of it. Well, glared, really. You know how he does it, with this fixed stare that says in no uncertain terms 'I'm gonna shoot you if you touch that.'" Cassie watches Cougar roll his eyes under the brim of his cowboy hat, but before she can say anything, Jensen leaps back into chattering. "It's pretty cool when you think about it. The only thought I can convey with my eyes is 'hey, I've got glasses.'"
For a moment, Cassie's ire dissipates in a wave of laughter. That quirky Jensen humor was definitely a family trait. She clutches her stomach as she nearly doubles over and even Cougar is smiling. He gives Jensen a light punch on his shoulder as though to say, 'you're a dork.'
Then next present is some sort of Barbie bust with long, blonde hair. It comes equipped with make-up and hair doodads and press-on nails, and Beth ooh's and aah's over the girliness.
"Thanks, Uncle Jake," she cries and runs to dive-bomb Jensen with a hug around the neck that's tight enough to impair his breathing, "Thanks, Uncle Cougar!" She then does the same to the sniper, who returns the hug good-naturedly and responds, "De nada." Awkwardly grabbing both items, Beth drags them upstairs to her room to play.
Cassie pauses to give Jensen one last withering look, to which he shrugs, completely unaffected, and smiles. "So I like to spoil my niece, so sue me."
"Spoil is right," Cassie says, "God, Jake, I'm trying not to raise a materialistic snot."
Jake pouts, an expression that looks absurd on a grown man, and mumbles, "I just wanted to do something nice," in an appropriately pouty tone. Cassie rolls her eyes exasperatedly, "Oh, grow up." Then she drops the subject, abruptly coming to the conclusion that she will never win, and turns to Cougar with a grin that's all sugar and sunshine. Jensen, meanwhile, has his arms crossed over his chest and appears to be settling in for a good, exaggerated sulk.
"Carlos, it's good to see you again. I redecorated since the last time you were here, so let me show you where the guest room is now. You can put your stuff away while my brother's being an ass." Her voice is so cool and matter-of-fact that Cougar has no choice but to chuckle. He gives Jensen a pat on his knee and rises up from the couch, grabbing his and Jensen's bags.
It's not a secret that he and Jensen are…close, at least not here, at Cassie's house. After figuring out that no one slept on the day bed in the office when they were both there, Cassie had just wordlessly prepared only the single guest room when she knew they were coming. She's didn't seem to mind, and Beth had never said a thing about it though she had, no doubt, figured out that they shared a room. The word 'gay' was never uttered in their house—after all, DADT was still a concern, and nobody wanted to start circulating rumors about them—and Beth, with her simplistic world views, simply accepted that she had two uncles who loved her.
Cougar followed Jensen's sister down the hallway downstairs. He knew that one door led to the bathroom, the basement door across from that, and then there were the two rooms at the end of the hallway. He realized when he looked in the doors that the former office was now the guest room, and the former guest room had been converted into a studio of some kind. There was an easel in the middle of the room with a canvas on it, and Cassie smiled sheepishly. "I needed something for myself," she said, "So I've been taking some art classes. I really like painting a lot."
Inclining his head in understanding, Cougar stated, "Painting is good. I have heard art is therapeutic." Actually, a therapist had told him that when he'd been trying to get Cougar to 'express himself in a constructive manner.' To satisfy the man, he had scribbled on a few pieces of paper with pens and pencils he'd found lying around, and calmly proclaimed his drawings 'the tornado series'—Jensen's idea. Seriously, they were all random scribbles that ended up looking like tornadoes. Jensen had laughed and pointed at one, 'This one looks like a giant tomato in a tornado, or maybe it's a UFO.' After convincing the therapist that he felt much better now thank you and displaying his 'art,' Cougar was finally cleared to go back in the field. He has not tried to draw since.
He walked into the new guest room and dropped the bags on the bed. Cassie leaned against the door jamb, talking as he unpacked as efficiently as possible. "…Anyway, when I realized that I was snapping at Beth 'cause I was so stressed out—it's tough doing it all on your own, you know?—I decided that I needed to find something to do for stress relief. I thought about like, taking kick boxing or something, and I even tried it out but I hurt so bad the next day at work, I was pretty much useless. So then I went to the hobby shop, and I noticed that they had art classes there…"
Talking was a Jensen family sport, and they were all highly competitive about it. Cougar didn't mind, as he preferred listening to talking. It worked out well.
"So, yeah, long story short," Cassie finally began to taper off, "I'm not good at 3D art at all, but I really like watercolor and acrylic painting and since I started doing them at home, I needed a little space just for that. The other room gets better light, you know, so then I had to repaint in there and I figured as long as I was painting that room, I might as well do this one. Then next thing I knew, I was ripping out the old carpet and here was this beautiful wood floor underneath, so I fixed that up and bought a new area rug, which I then needed to buy a new bed set to match. Oh, and since I switched everything around, I cleaned up that finished room in the basement and set up the office down there. It works out pretty nice 'cause there's the bar down there—which is my next project—so I think I'm going to turn that into an adults-only kind of place. Sounds good, right?"
"Si," Cougar replied as he finished unpacking both his and Jensen's things.
Speaking of, the blonde man was ambling down the hallway, finally having decided to give up his pursuit of a pity-party. "Looks nice, sis," he complemented the changes, and added, "You're painting?"
"Yeah—" she said and the two of them launched into a conversation the way only two Jensens could. Cougar shook his head in fond exasperation and went to go see what Beth was doing. He recalled something about a super soaker that he needed to come and see.
Twenty minutes later, after Cougar and Beth had already had a brief water pistol fight outside, and Beth had wheedled her Uncle Cougar into having a tea party—he was a sucker for big, blue eyes, apparently—Jensen called up the stairs.
"Me and Cass are gonna go pick up pizza for supper, alright? We'll be back soon!" The sound of the door slamming and the siblings bickering over who got to drive the car outside made Cougar grin.
"Your mama and uncle are silly, no?"
Beth giggled and said, "Yeah, they are. You know they're going to take forever, right?"
Cougar shrugged at Jensen's niece. "Yes. They will get lost or distracted. We will probably have to re-heat the pizza."
"We should trick them into eating anchovies. Gina in my class says those are really gross," Beth stated and nodded her head sagely—as sagely as a six year old can get, anyway. Once again, Cougar was reminded that in addition to rapid-fire speech, mischievousness was another Jensen family trait. "Or we could put raisins on it before they put it in the oven and tell them its poop," the little girl added as she pulled out her Disney princesses tea set.
Thirty minutes later, Cassie and Jensen barged in the house chorusing their greetings and apologies for taking so long. Jensen's sister went to the kitchen to turn on the oven so that she could re-heat the pizza—why did she let Jake talk her into going to the electronics store; oh yeah, there was a sale.
Jensen pounded up the stairs to his niece's room and flung open the door with a, "hey, guys, food's here!" that turned into simply "hey!" and a strange gurgling noise as he stopped in his tracks.
The Barbie head was on the little table where Beth liked to color. Someone had drawn a mustache and beard on her face with shiny, pink lipstick, and her hair was tied in Princess Leia buns that flopped lifelessly over her ears. Discarded tea cups and saucers lay across the rest of the pretty white table, and a few of Beth's stuffed animals sat in the other chair.
That wasn't the really weird part though.
The really weird part was Cougar, in his dark jeans and faded black t-shirt, squashed into the other tiny white chair. His hat was gone—further inspection found it on Beth's head. It was huge on her, and so she kept pushing it up and tilting her head oddly to see from under the brim. She was standing behind Cougar, her hands full of pretty little ribbons and clip-in extensions that she was patiently, discerningly putting in Cougar's long, dark hair. For his part, Cougar seemed to be enduring this with an expression of long-suffering amusement. Then he looked up and glared balefully at Jensen.
'Not a word,' his eyes said, but all Jensen's eyes could say was, 'hey, I've got glasses.' When he finally reacted, Jensen howled with laughter and whipped out his cell phone for a picture. He was slapping his knees and falling to the floor when Cassie came upstairs going, "What? What is it?"
She stopped in the doorway and broke into a wide grin. Then she turned on her heel and trotted off. If it weren't for the sound of her equally raucous laughter downstairs, Cougar might have said she was more dignified than her brother. Who was still laughing, by the way, wiping tears from his eyes as he rolled on the floor.
"Oh my god," he gasped, "Oh my god, too funny. Don't even know where to start."
Beth calmly walked up to her uncle and nudged him in the ribs with her toes. "Uncle Jensen, don't laugh at Uncle Cougar," her voice was severe, "He looks very nice, and if you make fun of him, remember that he can kill you with a paper clip." With every ounce of dignity in her, which was considerably more than Jensen possessed, Beth placed her Uncle Cougar's hat on the white table and leaned in to kiss her now-crabby uncle's cheek.
"Thank you, Uncle Cougar," she chirped, and then headed downstairs, stepping primly over Jensen on the floor as she left.
Jensen sat up and eyed Cougar warily when she was gone. "You gonna kill me with a paper clip, babe?"
With a slight twist of his hips, Cougar popped out of the chair and walked over to Jensen, crouching down next to him. "If you ever mention this again," he said slowly, "I will cut you off for the rest of your life." He glared at the blonde until his message sunk in, and then smirked when Jensen paled and nodded quickly.
"Mention what?" the hacker replied with false innocence and a flutter of his ridiculously long eyelashes.
Cougar ruthlessly suppressed a smile, and nodded succinctly instead as he stood up and began patiently removing pink, blue, and purple ribbons from his hair, and the clip-on extensions, dropping them on the table one by one. "That's what I thought," he declared with satisfaction as Jensen's hands began assisting him without even one snarky comment.
All in all, it was turning out to be a rather typical visit.