Author's Notes: You guys. I don't even know.
Pooch's Day Out; or, Anyone Else Would Be Dead By Now
Let us be clear: Jake Jensen was a genius. A board certified genius. Jake Jensen made Howard Hughes look like that guy Steve from Blues Clues. Jake Jensen, okay, is what Albert Einstein might have been if someone had hugged him a little less and given him a badass goatie.
And if Jensen was a motherfucking genius, and if Jensen had come up with a baller motherfucking plan, then it stood to reason that the other, not genius-level members of the team should show a little respect to The Plan, since it was, as previously stated, a genius motherfucking plan. Hatched by an actual motherfucking genius.
"I'm going to get shot," Pooch moaned, dropping his head into his hands. "I'm going to get shot. I can feel it. I have ghost pain in my arm right now."
"You are not going to get shot," Clay said flatly. Jensen detected a hint of amusement in Clay's tone, and he did not appreciate this. His team was clearly failing to comprehend what it mean to Respect The Genius Plan.
"I am going to get shot," Pooch said again, more firmly. "Of course it's the black man. Of course the black man is the one who dies first. You're a bunch of racist motherfuckers, you know that? Sacrificing the black man. Martin Luther King would kick all of y'all's asses from here to Birmingham."
Roque clapped his hand on Pooch's shoulder. "All for one, one for all," he said flatly with that sort of terrifying fondness that made Jensen think simultaneously of puppies and that scene in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman cuts of Lucy Liu's head. "Emphasis on one for all."
"Okay, now, see, that's not funny," Pooch grumbles, shrugging Roque off him. "Now you're trying to piss the Pooch off."
Jensen raised his hand. "If I could interject," he said, waving his glasses in the air, "I would like it noted that this type of behavior does not a) Respect the Plan, b) acknowledge that the Planner of the Plan is significantly smarter than the rest of you and therefore inherently hatches superior Plans to anything that you might come up with, or c) result in a delicious frozen treat as a thank-you for the Planner of the Superior, Awesome Plan in which the Pooch will not get shot. Cougar, back me up here."
Cougar looked up from his perch on the window sill, where he was cleaning his gun for what seemed like the fifth time that hour. He looked hard at Pooch and then hard at Jensen, then grinned to himself and shrugged.
"There!" Jensen cried triumphantly. "You see? Cougar agrees with me that the Plan is awesome and Pooch will not be shot."
Roque pulled one of his favorite serrated knives out of his bag and started sharpening it on the edge of the hotel's bedside table. "I don't think that's what Cougar said," he told Jensen without looking up. "I think Cougar said that your plan is a clusterfuck of ill-advised stupidity and that Pooch is probably going to get shot, in which case you've got the job of telling Jolene."
"First of all, I know you did not just invoke She Who Shall Not Be Named, and secondly, you're not saying Plan right. This is a Plan with capitals. This is a plan with emphasis. Try it again."
"I'm not repeating your dumbshit plan with emphasis," Roque snarled.
Clay's eyes rolled toward the ceiling. He counted to ten, and when he still wanted to set fire to the room at large, he counted to twenty. "All right, losers, everybody shut the fuck up. Regardless of the Plan's"-motherfuck, even he was capitalizing it in his head—"relative stupidity, it's the only one we've got, so we're going with it."
"Okay, I'd just like to say right now that if we give it another few hours and duct tape Jensen's mouth shut, the Pooch is confident that we can come up with a plan that does not involve him getting shot."
"You're not going to get shot!" Clay and Jensen snapped at the same time. Roque checked his teeth in the reflection of his knife. Clay took a few deep breaths. He was not going to commit triple homicide. He was not going to commit triple homicide. He was not going to commit triple homicide. "Get your shit together. I will be waiting in the car. Anyone not present and buckled the fuck in is definitely getting shot, and then dishonorably discharged, and then tattled on to his motherfucking wife, are we clear?"
As he slammed the door, he heard Jensen say cheerfully, "Now that last part, that was directed at you, Pooch McGooch."
Clay tried for some deep breaths.
Pooch was definitely getting shot.
"I still think this is a terrible plan," Pooch grumbled into his comm as he walked through the huge double doors. He could feel a hundred pairs of eyes swivel to glare at him. He twisted his wedding ring on his finger and focused on remaining calm. He imagined drowning Jensen in a bathtub as he took a seat. This made him feel marginally better, but inevitably guilt started to creep in and soon imaginary-Pooch was standing at imaginary-Jensen's grave apologizing while Jolene battered him with a purse full of bricks.
He blinked, clearing his head. He was spending too much time with Jensen.
"Just stay focused, soldier," Clay commanded into his ear. "Plant the bug in Derenge's pocket and make your exit. No fuss, no muss. Got it?"
Oh, sure. The Pooch got it. The Pooch got that they'd sent the only black member of the team into an all white Texan church to plant a conspicuous fucking bug on a known human trafficker. Seriously: how was this a good fucking plan?
"This is bullshit," he muttered, only to be violently hushed by the woman beside him, who was trying to be disapproving while simultaneously scooting towards the safety of her dapper-looking husband with his sidearm clearly showing.
Marcus Derenge, of the Texan oil Derenge family, was seated in the front row, far closer to the pulpit than Pooch would ever be allowed to get. Why wasn't Clay doing this, again?
He sat patiently through the service until Communion. Derenge, pious motherfucker that he thought he was, stood at the end of each pew to indicate that they should stand and go to the altar. It would be Pooch's only chance to get close.
As he shuffled out, he intentionally caught his foot on the end of the pew and tripped directly into Derenge. "Oh, sorry," he mumbled, dropping the bug into his suit pocket. "Excuse me."
He was met with stony silence and hurriedly took his place in line. The sweat on his collar started to dry as he ate the wafer and sipped the wine, and then quietly made his exit with the rest of the quitters. He was totally going to make it out of here alive. Jensen's plan was maybe not as stupendously awful as he'd originally—
The Pooch quickened his step. Yeah, they were probably not calling him back to invite him into full membership and a place in the Vestry. He kept walking, even as Derenge and a crowd of angry Texans poured out of the church after him. He kept walking until suddenly something cracked across his head and everything went black.
"Well," Jensen said as Pooch's comm went silent, feeling strongly that it needed to be noted, in the face of, frankly, the absolute level of Real that Shit Just Got, "while this may look like a step back, I would like to point out that no one has, in fact, been shot."
When Pooch woke up, he was in the trunk of a car. The trunk of a car? Those motherfuckers had knocked him out and shoved him into somebody's trunk in broad daylight on a Sunday? Seriously? Fuck Texas, man. Fuck. Texas.
He was quitting as soon as he got out of here. He was quitting the fucking Army and going home to Jolene and he was never talking to Jake "I Am A Genius And This Is An Awesome Plan"Jensen ever again.
He couldn't reach the talk button on his comm, but luckily Clay was a paranoid son-of-a-bitch and while there was never a Plan B, there was always a Plan A.1. He shimmied his shoulders until his watch slipped town closer to his left wrist and used his right hand to press down on the communicator Jensen had installed where the backlight used to be.
"I'm in a fucking trunk," Pooch growled into his watch. "I am in a fucking trunk, and it's like a thousand degrees in here, and the Pooch is going to go out and contract rabies specifically so that he can fuck you up, Jensen."
Clay came out of the bathroom at the sound of Pooch's voice. He'd been in the bathroom trying to keep himself from getting into his car, going to Blood of Christ Holy Catholic Church and burning it to the fucking ground before hunting down Derenge and putting a bullet in his skull, US Army official kill order or no.
This op was supposed to be a fucking vacation, and it would have been, if it weren't for the fact that the airport had lost all their luggage (but Cougar's, because even American Airlines knows not to separate that man from his guns on pain of something far worse than death) and they were left without their full cache weapons, Jensen's computer, and of course, because life is a serious bitch, any change of clothes.
They'd had to construct the bug Pooch had planted out of a cellphone, a watch, and a pooka shell necklace Jensen had managed to steal from the local mall.
"Okay now, Poochilicious, let's stay calm," Jensen said. "No need to put on the grumpy pants. What kind of land marks can you see around you?"
"What kind of landmarks?" Pooch's voice asked incredulously. "I'm in a fucking trunk, Jensen. I can see some pleather and I have a putter up my ass."
Jensen looked up. Roque had carved a deep groove into the table and seemed to have taken a particular dislike to the woodwork, as he was now slicing deep, angry scars against the grain. "So, Pooch's kinky sex toys notwithstanding, we're in a bit of a pickle, boss," Jensen announced. His eyes kept cutting to the comm in his hand, as if he were trying to slip inside it and come out on Pooch's end.
"This is why you don't get to capitalize your plans," Roque growled. "Only plans that don't end in human trafficking get capitalized."
Cougar popped a few bullets into his gun. His movements had become smooth and catlike, which was dangerous because it meant that he was in Sniper Mode. "Easy," Clay murmured, shooting him a warning glance.
Clay took the comm out of Jensen's hand and spoke into it. "All right, Pooch. Kick out one of the taillights and tell me what you see."
Pooch wanted to kill Clay marginally less than he wanted to kill Jensen, so he bit back the retort that was on his tongue and did as he was told. Six years of Army training and he forgets to kick out the fucking taillight? Classy, Pooch. Way to make Jo proud.
"Okay," he said into the comm, peering out as best he could, "I've got some highway signs, but I can't see what they say from here. Umm. There's some construction on—wait. We're turning into a neighborhood. I think—motherfucker, he's taking me to his house! That smug cocksucking son of a—"
"Easy, easy," Clay said, though his voice was distant enough that he could have been talking to anybody. "All right. Try not to get shot. We're on our way."
The only car in the hotel parking lot was a VW Bug. Clay would have rather punctured his own eardrums than be seen in it, but. Pooch.
"No one ever speaks of this again, ever," he growled.
"I'd like to reiterate," Jensen said on the drive over, lining himself up with Cougar because that way Roque couldn't hurt him, "that so far no one has gotten shot, the bug was successfully planted, and it's not the resident genius's fault that these particular Texans happen to hate black people. Not all Texans are like this. Some Texans are regular Jungle Fever junkies. Austin has consistently voted Democratic in statewide elections. So really, I cannot be blamed for—"
"Jensen, shut up," Roque snapped. "I swear to God I'm going to take your tongue out through the back of your skull."
"That would, anatomically speaking, be very difficult," Jensen pointed out, leaning a bit closer to Cougar. He was 95 percent sure that Roque was joking, but it didn't hurt to be careful. He looked over at the knife Roque was currently twirling in his fingers.
Maybe 85 percent.
"I'll try real hard," Roque returned dryly.
The thing, of course, to remember here, is that Jensen did not like that Pooch was locked in some douchebag truck somewhere. He did not like that his Totally Awesome Plan was maybe (maybe) a little less awesome than advertised. But he could not be blamed, here. He was not the one who assigned Pooch the job of dropping the bug. Roque had all the subtlety of a Michael Bay movie, and Cougar didn't do well in crowds, and Clay would rather climb back up his mother's birth canal than step inside a church, and obviously Jensen couldn't do it, because, well, that's a seriously long time to not fidget or say anything, and let's all be honest here, somber silence? Not really his forte.
He should distract himself. Did it really take this long to drive across town and crush somebody's skull? Because it should not take this long. Jensen didn't really, you know, care much for guns, because, whatever with the shooting people thing, but he was totally 100% on board with the Destroy Marcus Derenge plan. If Marcus Derenge was a fortress, Jensen was ready to be the motherfucking dynamite that blew that bitch to pieces. He was the harpoon to the man's shark. He was the BP to Derenge's environment. He was Squidward to motherfucking Spongebob.
"Tranquilo," Cougar muttered to him, laying a hand on his arm.
"I was thinking about Spongebob Squarepants," Jensen blurted stupidly, the way he always did when damnable Cougar did damnable things like murmur tranquilo in that damnable voice of his, sounding all Spanish-y and smooth like the smooth Spanish-y Spanish person that he was.
Cougar raised his eyebrows.
Jensen wondered if it was possible to die, come back and reap vengeance on Marcus Derenge, and then quietly die again so that he could avoid the terrible silence in the car that was clearly shouting Jake Jensen, for a genius you're a fucking retard.
For the record, Roque did not hate Jensen. He hated listening to him yammer on like a twelve year old girl. He hated the image burned into his skull of Jensen in a pirate hat and boxers with rubber ducks on them hacking into the US Department of Defense online database with way too much fucking gusto. He hated the fact that the stupid motherfucker was always forgetting his gun places and leaving himself defenseless, because despite hating all of the aforementioned notes, Roque did not hate Jensen himself.
Hating Jensen was like hating the stray dog that follows you everywhere and drools on you and looks at you with big wide eyes that say OMFGILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU, and as Roque did not hate that stray dog, he was forced to not hate Jensen.
He was, however, going to sew his mouth shut with threads made from his own tongue the next time he tried to form the game plan.
Maybe—maybe—this situation was not The Plan's fault, but nevertheless, as Plans cannot be taken outside and punched hard in the stomach until they cried uncle and promised never to fuck up ever, ever again, Roque would have to settle for pulling Marcus Derenge's brains out through his nose.
It was a fair compromise, Roque felt.
Eventually the car stopped. Pooch was confident that the driver was not going to be pleased about his now-broken taillight. On the bright side, this was just one little thing on a long list of things that the driver did not like about Pooch.
They dragged him out onto the pavement.
"You broke my car," Marcus Derenge snarled, reaching into his back pocket.
Perfect. Here came the gun. Pooch was right. He was totally getting—oh. That was not a gun. That was something he liked even less than he liked the idea of a gun, which was really saying a lot, because at this moment in time, Pooch was all about gun control.
Marcus Derenge was holding a lighter like he knew how to use it and kept looking meaningfully at the taillight like it was going to tell him which part of Pooch to burn off first.
"In my defense," Pooch spat, "you knocked me out and shoved me into your trunk. The Pooch may lie, and the Pooch may steal, but the Pooch respects the sanctity of a man's vehicle."
The blow came hard and fast, but he was expecting it so at least it didn't have that extra surprise ow attached to it. Pooch was not a violent man under normal circumstances, but he decided the moment that Derenge began burning off his fingerprints that he was going to seriously fuck this man's shit up at the earliest possible opportunity.
That opportunity was exactly forty-two seconds later, when Roque gave up on Clay's navigating ("This is why Pooch drives, Jesus.") and stuck his head out the window so he could throw his favorite knife at the skull of the man standing next to Marcus Derenge.
He'd have gone for Derenge himself, but Pooch probably had dibs, and he didn't respect a lot of things, but he respected the rules of motherfucking dibs.
Even Roque knew that some things were sacred.
First of all, Clay was not a bad driver. Roque was just a pissy little bitch who couldn't keep it in his pants.
Secondly, that wasn't a terrible shot, from this distance in a moving vehicle. Clay wasn't the type to be impressed, but he wasn't the type to begrudge a man success, either. The good news was that Roque saved him the trouble of deciding which of Derenge's minions to run over with the vehicle, as there was now only one real option.
"Cougar," he barked over his shoulder, spinning the car into a stop and smiling a little at the satisfying thump of the vehicle's back end breaking at least seven bones in somebody's body.
Cougar, in Cougar fashion, didn't say anything, but took aim and shot the screaming man in the head with minimal fuss. He then swung his gun up to his shoulder and aimed at the retreating Derenge.
"Don't kill him," Clay warned, hopping out of the car. "We need him, and he's Pooch's."
Cougar nodded, and pulled the trigger.
Okay, so Jensen wasn't saying that he enjoyed other people's pain, but yeah, in this instance, he derived a certain amount of satisfaction watching Derenge fall into the pavement as Cougar's bullets sliced through his legs.
"Dude," Jensen cried cheerfully as he jogged over to where Pooch was hunched over, looking pissed, "Cougar. We gotta go to a fair together sometime, man. We would clean up. Seriously, you probably rule Chucky Cheese with an iron fist, don't you?"
He knelt in front of Pooch while Roque and Clay went to deal with Derenge. Pooch was relatively okay; two of his fingers were pretty badly burned, and he was going to have a puffy lip tomorrow, but other than that, the man looked like one of those krump dancers from Stomp The Yard. Not, of course, that Jensen had seen Stomp The Yard. Unless it had come on really late at night and there had been nothing better on, because Jensen was a badass fucking soldier and didn't watch dance movies.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer he had no problem with. For obvious reasons, number one being: Sarah Michelle Gellar, and number two being: a blonde girl that kicked ass and took names. It reminded him of his sister.
Pooch flexed his hands after they'd cut the ropes on his wrists and studied his fingers.
Jensen said, "You're like the perfect criminal now. No hair follicles to leave behind, no fingerprints to identify you. You're like the invisible man."
"I'm gonna make you an invisible fucking man if you don't give me a gun in the next four seconds," Pooch growled.
"Touchy, touchy," Jensen muttered, and really, why did everyone keep forgetting that this was not his fault? Because, for real. Jake Jensen: resident genius was innocent. The Plan was flawless. It was not his fault that people got in the way of his flawless Plan.
Cougar wordlessly handed him the only handgun they'd managed to not lose on the flight over. He touched Pooch's shoulder and muttered, "Buenos suerte."
"Got what you need?" Pooch asked Clay, not taking his eyes off Derenge.
"Location, location, location," Roque purred happily. "You should get locked in trunks more often, Pooch."
"Wait," Derenge began. "We can negotiate."
"Nope," Pooch said.
The car was quiet on the drive home. They'd stolen Derenge's Buick in place of the VW Bug, which was nice because it didn't make Jensen feel like a thirteen year old girl, but on the other hand, there was a lot more space between him and Cougar. Which was lame.
"I'd just like to point out, before we close the book on this startlingly successful endeavor," Jensen said, "that we got the location of Derenge's base of operations, Clay got an opportunity to run someone over in a VW Bug, which never happens, and Roque fuckin' ninja star-ed somebody from fifty feet, so really, this should go in the win category."
Pooch turned to glare at him. "I got my fingerprints burned off."
"Admittedly, you are now a mite more badass than you were before Pooch's Day Out," Jensen agreed, settling behind Cougar as the best defense for the hit he knew was coming: "But I would like to point out that nobody got shot."
"Shut up, Jensen," Clay and Pooch said at the same time.
"No one ever appreciates genius until it's gone," Jensen muttered.