it made us kind of happy and kept me off of drugs (longsufferingly) wrote,
it made us kind of happy and kept me off of drugs
longsufferingly

18th Floor Balcony
PG, Jensen Ackles/female Jared Padalecki, others, 2400 words. The process of falling in love with your costar.

This here is a fic that is the result of me thinking about all those fics where one of the Winchesters had always been a girl, and then thinking about how the rpf fandom would go in that case, and then--this happened. So yeah--this is born-a-girl fic, not suddenly-transformed-into-a-girl fic.


"So Sandy broke up with me," says Jess. Her voice is steady, but she doesn't even say hi first, doesn't tell him how the dogs are doing, and Jensen can feel every single mile between them.

"Jesus," he says. "What happened?"

Jess laughs a little, and he can picture her looking down, biting her lip. "He asked me to marry him, and I said--too soon. I mean, we've been together for a while, but we're not together that much. Five days a month, tops. I'm with you more than I'm with him these days, you know?"

Jensen swallows. He absolutely knows. "So you said no, and he said it was over?"

"I said not yet, and he said now or never. So--it's never." She laughs again.

"God," he says. "I wish I was going to that fucking con."

"Yeah, god forbid you have a real job," Jess says. He wishes he could see her face.

"He's an idiot," Jensen says. "In case you didn't know."

"Thanks, Jensen. I better get going. I'll call you later, okay? Tell you how much the fans still hate me."

"The fans don't hate you," Jensen protests.

"Yeah, they do," says Jess. "At least, all yours do."

"They're just jealous they're not as cool as you are."

"Bye, Jensen," she says, but it sounds like she's smiling.

"He's so stupid," Jensen says. "Bye."

*

The first thing Jensen told himself when he met Jess Padalecki was I have a girlfriend.

She wasn't exactly his usual type--she was taller, broader around the shoulders, not the waif of a girl you usually saw in Hollywood. He knew from IMDB that she just came off a four-year stint playing the lesbian best friend on some WB drama, and the pictures told him she was good looking, but nothing like what she was in person. In person, she smiled and her dimples dug into her cheeks, her eyes sparkled, and she looked like she was sharing a joke with him, just him. Her hair was thick and wavy, her body lean and athletic under her casual blouse and jeans.

"Hey, you must be Jensen," she said, with a slight Texas twang.

I have a girlfriend, Jensen thought.

It's not that serious, some annoying part of his brain added immediately.

He took the hand she extended and shook. "Yeah. Nice to meet you, Jessica."

She laughed. "Jess, man. Or Jessie. Just not Jessica. Makes me feel old. I mean, wasn't that the main character on Murder, She Wrote? That's who I always think of. I am way too young to be Angela Lansbury. I mean, Murder, She Wrote Angela Lansbury. I think she did some other stuff before that. Like the witch thing." She laughed again, nervously. "Uh, sorry. I talk a lot when I'm nervous. Just tell me to shut up, I won't mind."

Jensen couldn't keep a smile off his face. "Nah, I don't mind. But I think she's pretty hot in Murder, She Wrote. Kind of a cougar."

Jess snickered. "Yeah, sure she is, big brother."

I have a girlfriend, Jensen thought.

*

He catches some fan reports about the con and skims to see if Jess mentioned she broke up with her boyfriend. She did, of course--she has this thing about honesty, and Jensen can't help feeling fond of her for it even as he thinks she's an idiot. Of course there are pages of speculation that she did it because the two of them are in some kind of relationship, but that's nothing new.

It doesn't change the fact that, for the first time since they met, Jensen and Jess are both single, and Jensen's just as in love with her as he's always been.

He's going to see her in three days--season four is starting. Dean is coming back from the dead, Sam is going off the deep end, Red has a new body, and there's an angel who dragged Dean from perdition with his own agenda.

Jensen should be worried about all that, should be thinking about how he's going to play this new Dean, who's been worn down by torture and death, who can't trust his baby sister, who's the chosen of god.

All he can think of is Jess, making her feel better, making sure she's okay.

He groans and calls Jason.

"Is it pathetic if I fly down to Texas?" he asks.

"To see your parents?" asks Jason.

"To see Jess."

"You're seeing her in, what, a week?"

"Her dickhead boyfriend broke up with her," says Jensen.

"So you're trying to stake your claim right now?"

"No, Jesus," says Jensen. "I'm just--I'm worried about her. They've been together for years, and he was a dickhead."

"You said. Question: was he actually a dickhead, or are you just too in love with her to see his side?"

"Does it matter?" asks Jensen.

"You're going either way, right?"

Jensen groans. "I hate this. Everyone already thinks we're fucking, if I go down, it's just going to be--"

"Overkill."

"She's my best friend," says Jensen quietly. "I'm worried about her."

"Keep telling yourself," says Jason.

*

"So, hey, this is my boyfriend Sandy," Jess told him. They'd been filming for a couple weeks, and Jess had made allusions to him, but Jensen hadn't met the guy.

He was a solid guy, kind of muscular, a generic hunk. Jensen felt bad for thinking it, because the guy seemed really nice and totally gone for Jess, and he had absolutely no legitimate reason to dislike her boyfriend.

"Nice to meet you," said Sandy, with a big grin. They were probably the grinniest couple Jensen had ever seen.

"Yeah, same here, man," said Jensen, doing his best to look friendly and not jealous.

"Jess talks about you all the time."

"Right back at you."

"You want to grab dinner with us?" Jess asked. "We were gonna get steak."

"I don't wanna intrude," Jensen said, but Sandy waved his hand dismissively before the objection was even done.

"We'd love to have you. You're my girl's best friend, I wanna get to know you."

Jess flushed a little, and Jensen felt a warmth curling in his stomach that she said that. It's not a surprise, not exactly, but he's still thrilled to hear it, amazed even.

"Yeah," he said. "Sounds great."

*

At the beginning of the third season, Jess bought a house, one with a yard for the dogs, and before the breakup happened, Jensen had been planning to stay for a couple weeks while he found a new place.

He's still staying, but it feels different now, like they should have a chaperone, like they shouldn't be left alone together.

He's arriving first, early in the morning after an all-night flight. Jess's place looks more like home than anything he's ever seen, and he's surprised to find it unlocked and full of barking dogs when he gets to the step.

"Jess?" he calls curiously.

Jess sticks her head out of the kitchen. "Hey!" She grins and jumps into his arms, the tight hug she's always given him. "I thought you were coming later."

"I thought you were coming tomorrow."

She flushes. "I, uh. I flew up here yesterday. Couldn't deal with my parents anymore," she admits. "Everyone's treating me like I'm made of glass, or something."

Jensen gives her one last squeeze and then pulls back. "So how are you? Really."

"Really?" she asks. "I don't know. It's--weird. I didn't see him that much anyway, you know? Every few weekends, breaks, but--we're both busy with our own stuff, so it's easy to forget that anything's different, you know? I kept going to call him and remembering--" she laughs. "Stupid, right?"

"Not stupid," says Jensen. "I get it."

"Thanks." She smiles, a little watery. "I was making breakfast. You want some?"

"That'd be great, yeah."

*

"You have got to check this out," said Jess. "It's hilarious."

"If this is another lolcat, Padalecki, I'm going to strangle you."

"It's not a lolcat. It's--seriously, fucked up."

The header loaded, and Jensen could guess what Wincest was, and, gross, but J2 was a mystery.

"What?" he asked.

"It's people who think Dean and Sam should hook up," Jess explained. "And people who think we should. Maybe think we already have? I'm not sure."

Jensen stared. "Jesus. Why?"

"I dunno. I figured they all wanted you to be gay."

"Shut up."

"Maybe I shouldn't have jumped on you at that awards show." She tilted her head. "I'm not sure if this is better or worse than them thinking I'm an annoying, talentless hack."

"They're stupid," Jensen pointed out.

"Hey, those are your fans."

"You're awesome," Jensen said.

Jess leaned up and kissed his cheek. "My hero."

*

They meet up with the new costars and Jim three days after they get to town. There's two of them--one angel, one demon--and Jensen likes Misha Collins on sight and hates Arthur Cortese. Which is in-character, he supposes.

Arthur is exactly Jess's type, nice smile, big muscles--it's actually surprising. Last year, Red was played by a thin, blond guy named Chad, who Jess knew from some other thing she'd done, and he played the guy as pretty much a total douchebag. Arthur has an all-American, genuine feel, and he starts flirting with Jess as soon as they sit down.

Jensen does his best to listen to Misha talk about his time as a White House intern and not just stew.

*

"I need your advice."

Jensen rubbed his eyes and blinked at the phone display. "Sandy?"

"I want to ask her to marry me."

Jensen swallowed, feeling his whole body slow down, feeling his world stop.

They always acted like forever, Jess and Sandy. He never thought--he never honestly believed he'd go to Jess's window with a boom box and play Peter Gabriel until she loved him. But he'd never thought Sandy would propose while the show was still going either. He hoped--they'd drift apart, and he wouldn't be there when it happened.

"Okay," said Jensen cautiously.

"Do you think--" Sandy made a frustrated noise into the phone. "You're her best friend. You think it's too soon?"

Jensen scrubbed his hand through his hair, trying to wake himself up. "She loves you," he said. "I don't know. She never said--she might want to wait for the show to be over, or--" Jensen sighed. "I don't know," he repeated. "We don't exactly talk a lot about it."

There was a long pause. "Yeah, I guess not. Thanks, Jensen."

*

After a week, Jensen's had no luck finding a new place, Mike's called him from L.A. three times to tell him he's a pussy who needs to just ask the girl out already, Jesus, and he's about ready to punch Arthur Cortese in the face.

"You could just stay," says Jess. It's their first Saturday off, and it's been tradition since season two that first Saturday, they stay in, order takeout, and drink a lot.

"Stay?" asks Jensen.

"Here, I mean," says Jess. "I've got a guest room. Pizza or Chinese?"

"Pizza. What?"

Jess shrugs. "Why not?"

Because I'm in love with you, Jensen thinks. "All our fans already think we're fucking. You think they need fuel?"

"They already think it," she points out. "There's not a lot we can do to stop them." She calls in the pizza, and then she's quiet, deliberately not looking at Jensen. "Sandy thought so too."

"Jess--"

"He did. He told me you were why I wouldn't marry him."

Jensen swallows. "He asked me," he admits. "Called me up to see if I thought you'd say yes."

"What did you say?"

"I said I wasn't sure."

Jess smiles. "He said I could call him if I ever got over my costar."

"I'm sorry."

Jess looks over at him, laughs a little, looks at her hands. "He was right," she says.

Jensen can feel his heartbeat in his throat. He tries to swallow it down, but it doesn't work, just makes his mouth dry.

"Stupid," she continues quietly, "I know. I mean--I'm not Joanna Krupa, here. I just--"

Jensen abruptly feels like shit, tries to comprehend a world in which Jess likes him, and somehow thinks she's not enough, or something.

"Jess," he says, helplessly, and then leans down and kisses her.

Jensen's thought a lot about kissing Jess, thought about how she'd feel under him. He's surprised by how delicate she is--she doesn't look delicate. But she's shaking a little, like she's scared.

They didn't want another Buffy, you know? Not another anorexic blonde chick with superhuman powers. A girl who actually looks like she could take care of herself if she got in a fight, Jess had told him, with a small, self-deprecating smile, and Jensen should have said You're beautiful right then.

"Jensen--" she says. "You don't have to--"

Jensen laughs, rests his forehead against hers. "Jess. If you'd been single, I would have asked you out the first week. Probably would have killed the show, but I don't even--God, Jess."

He kisses her again, and this time she kisses back, not as surely as he'd like, but he has time to make her see. He kisses her carefully, slow, asking at every step if this is okay, and she keeps saying yes.

"Guess it's a little fast if I still ask you to move in," she says when they pull apart, with that blinding smile, dimples in full force. Jensen laughs, feels it showing in his eyes and his crow's feet, feels it everywhere, happiness down to his fingertips.

"Four years," he says.

"Seriously?"

"Since the first day. God. Thought you were just too nice to say anything."

"Yeah, that's me. Too damn nice."

Jensen kisses her again, because he can. Because she wants him to.

"Four years," she says, like she can't still believe it. She shakes her head. "Guess the guest room's still open."

"It'd be a pain to move," Jensen says.

"Yeah," Jess agrees. "Not worth the hassle."

"Definitely not."

*

Three weeks after Supernatural got picked up, Jensen dumped Joanna.

He told himself it was nothing, but it was all over for him, even then.
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