Sixty Days in Exile
by Mahiri Chuma
Disclaimer: I own nothing Losers related, though if I did, it would be whump-tastic.
Chapter One: Los Venticincos
The first day in exile was undoubtedly the worst. The fire was still burning unusually hot and the smell of jet fuel hung in the humid air when they made their escape. The recon team that would be searching the wreckage would be there within the hour and they had to be as far away as possible.
They moved into the thick jungle, walking in near silence until they reached the small Mission Jensen had noted on the electronic pad he had been forced to destroy; they just couldn't risk keeping the military provided computer.
The Mission was humble and isolated. It's white walls were cracked and worn and spoke of many years of abuse without reparation. Outside the Mission sat a rather old and worn, yellow Lada Niva – it would be cramped but it would do the job.
Pooch opened the front door to see, as expected, that the keys were missing. He rubbed the sweat from his forehead and nodded confidently.
"Give me five and we'll be up and running."
As Pooch began to pull apart the paneling of the driver's wheel and ignition, the other members of the team dispersed. Clay and Roque moved towards the Mission steps, taking a seat and bending over a battered map of Bolivia.
"We head north towards San Borja, stay off the radar for a while, regroup –" Clay planted a finger on the map, dragging up towards the small town, planning their next move.
"North? No, we should go west, cross the border into Peru while we can still get out of here."
"We have too much heat already, we have to lay low."
"Heat? We have too much heat? They burned us, Clay. They burned us and we need to get out of this country before it's too late."
"The CIA has eyes on the border, it would be too risky –"
Jensen watched the two argue for a moment before losing interest. Unless there was a technical or communication problem, his input and opinion was rarely considered, nor was it generally wanted – he assumed it wasn't so much a matter of content but rather the way he presented his ideas.
He turned away from the arguing Lieutenant and Captain and made his way inside. Cougar had said nothing since the crash, something that wasn't unusual for the normally stoic man, but it didn't matter, Jensen knew something was wrong with the sharpshooter.
Without a word or so much as a nod or a facial expression, Cougar had wandered up the Mission steps and had passed silently into the building.
Jensen pushed the surprisingly heavy doors open, crossing the threshold and taking a moment to look at the building's interior. It was somewhat dark, the stained glass that lined the eastern and western walls were covered in dust and it was clear that no one had thought to clean them for a long while. Dust particles floated in the air, shimmering as they moved into the delicate shafts of light, and the air was thick and musty, the humidity permeating every timber making the wood swell and weep.
A sparse row of pews ran from the door to the back of the room, which bore a large wooden crucifix, a podium and a large collection of candles, none of which were burning.
Jensen also couldn't help but notice the deafening silence. He had never found solace or peace in silence, a probable reason for his impossible motor-mouth, and he felt his ears begin to ring.
"En nombre de Padre, de Hijo et de espiritu santo …"
A low murmuring broke the silence, almost haunting in the dark space. Jensen walked quietly forward, spotting the marksman at the end of a shaded pew.
He opened his mouth, intending to get the other man's attention, but something stopped him. For once whatever it was that supplied his witty ramblings and turn of phrase had abandoned him, signaling that perhaps now wasn't the best time.
As he observed the other man, head bent in quiet reverence, he decided he agreed.
Cougar undoubtedly knew he was there, standing a few feet behind him, watching. The man could hear a pin drop from a mile away, sneaking up on him was nigh impossible. However, he made no move to acknowledge his presence so Jensen settled himself down in the pew behind him, wincing as the rotting wood groaned loudly.
Jenson listened as Cougar continued to speak in Spanish, his voice almost soothing. The young hacker had always excelled in linguistics and was able to keep up with the speech fairly easily, only occasionally finding himself mentally stumbling over a word or particle, but it was fairly clear that a prayer was being said for the children they had been trudging through the forest with only mere hours ago.
Twenty-five children. The number was staggering. Jensen scrubbed his blonde hair for a moment thinking of how they had gone from feeling pretty good about what they had accomplished to feeling as though the world had just crumbled to the ground – an abrupt transition to say the least.
He scratched his neck, his skin feeling unusually bare without his dogtags. Roque had suggested in the name of realism that he toss his glasses into the fiery mess as well but he didn't think he could handle being as blind as a bat for however long they were condemned to live in this sweaty country.
"Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu Nombre …"
The young technophile had never been very religious – possibly due to the fact that his mother had forced one too many Sunday masses on him and his father, being an incorrigible drunk, had given him no reason to believe in anything remotely religious - but he could recognize the Lord's Prayer. He bowed his head, if only in his respect for Cougar. He had always known the other man to be fairly religious, despite his line of work. In fact, Jensen remembered once remarking with interest upon the irony of a sniper being religious at all, something that had earned him a generous smack on the back of the head and earning him the nickname 'idiota.'
"… venga tu reino, hágase tu voluntad, en la tierra como en el cielo …"
Jensen peeked upwards at the man muttering the prayer, remembering for a moment the exuberant smile on the sharpshooter's face when he had been carrying one of the small children towards the helicopter.
" … danos hoy el pan de está dia, y perdona nuestras duedas, como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores .."
Though the carnage they had witnessed was sure to stay with them all for a very long time – Jensen couldn't help but think of his beloved niece when he thought of the ashes that stained the jungle floor – it seemed to be effecting the quiet sniper the most.
" … y no nos dejes caer en al tentacion, sino que libranos del malo …"
Jensen worried he would become even more withdrawn than usual; not enough to inhibit his ability to do his job, but just enough to remove himself further from the team, not that the hacker could ever imagine allowing him to do so. Cougar could shoot him for all he cared; he wouldn't let the man lose himself.
"Amen." Jensen answered, his own voice silent and solemn, echoing the anguish in Cougar's own.
Jensen waited for Cougar to make a move, to say something, to blink but as the seconds passed it was clear none would be forthcoming.
"Por favor," Cougar's voice sounded husky and tired and Jensen worried for a moment that he had offended him by intruding, "los cirios."
Jensen watched Cougar stand and head towards the altar. He reached around the altar and pulled out a box of matches, seemingly from thin air. Quietly, he lit the match and passed the flame to one of the candle's wicks.
The sound of an engine grunting to life split the air but Cougar didn't seem to notice or care. He continued the slow process of transferring the flame from wick to wick and wordlessly handed a burning candle to the hacker that had appeared at his side.
Together they silently lit the candles until they reached twenty-five.
"Por los veinticincos."
Jensen nodded in agreement while patting the man on the shoulder before letting his hand fall awkwardly back to his side.
'Yo! Cougs, Jensen, let's vamanos!" Jensen was silently grateful for the interruption. He was sure he had just been about to ramble awkwardly, not quite sure what to say in these sort of situations.
'You ready, Cougs? Pooch is using his impatient voice and you know how cranky he gets when he doesn't fulfill his need for speed." Jensen shuffled slowly towards the door but was stopped when he felt Cougar's hand land atop his shoulder.
"Gracias." Jensen couldn't help but smirk as Cougar passed him, opening the doors leaving the candles and the hacker behind him.
Pooch honked the horn impatiently. The old car elicited a sound that resembled a dying animal and he decided it was probably best to not use it again. The last thing they wanted was to attempt their getaway in a car with a faulty horn that announced their location at random.
Finally, the two missing team members emerged from the Mission, Cougar looking ominous as ever and Jensen uncharacteristically thoughtful. That changed as soon as the hacker realized the front seat was unoccupied.
"Shotgun!" He galloped down the stairs past Clay and Roque who both looked rather aggravated.
The two men had argued themselves into a stalemate and eventually Clay had decided to use his superior authority to enforce the decision.
Clay valued his Captain's opinion and knew if he could depend on one of his men to question his orders or raise concerns it would always be Roque. It was a quality that Clay, depending on the situation, considered both helpful and impeding.
The now former sergeant turned away from his captain, who was fingering the hilt of his knife – something he did when he was pissed – and made his way to the too-small car.
"Sorry, Corporal." Clay grabbed the back of the younger man's pack, pulling him from the front seat and settling in, tossing the worn map to Pooch, pointing out destination that he and Roque – by default - had decided upon.
"Pulling rank for the front seat again, eh Sarg?"
"Shut up, Jensen." Roque pushed the younger man into the backseat, squeezing him between himself and Cougar.
"The middle? Come on. And why am I the only one without a seatbelt?" If this turned bad the last thing he wanted was a free ride through the windshield.
"Because you're the most expendable." Roque spat, his patience clearly exhausted and his mood foul.
"Harsh, Roque I'd like to see you hack a military satellite or –"
Roque pulled a knife from his ankle strap and held it up threateningly, signaling that Jensen was going to stop talking or he was going to make him.
"Alright, ladies, we've got more on our plate to deal with than sibling rivalries," Clay said from the front seat. He turned around to face the three men in the back, his face still spotted with soot and sweat, "We're going north towards san Borja. It's small, isolated, military free … once there we will lie low and begin to extend our resources, see what we can do, who we can talk to, to get home."
He paused, glancing sideways at Pooch who was thumbing the ring on his left hand. Pooch, like Roque, had hoped they would be getting out of dodge as soon as possible. Unlike Roque, however, he did not argue the issue and merely took the map from Clay to plan their route, the only evidence of his disappointment being the frown etched in his features.
"We will get home." He looked at his men for a moment, watching as Roque turned to stare out the window while Cougar kept his head dipped low. Jensen was already beginning to look decidedly cramped and uncomfortable, stuck between the two men.
Clay turned back to Pooch with a sigh.
"How long are we looking at, Pooch." It was Pooch's turn to sigh as he tapped the Chihuahua bobble head he had fixed to the dashboard.
"Five hours minimum. The roads wind through the jungle and we have a few river crossings," he shook his head and gestured a hand towards where the engine lie under the hood, "honestly, I don't know if this sad piece of shit is going to make it but once we get out of the Lajas we hit road, route 3, from there it should be smooth sailing, assuming we still have enough gas to make the trip, which I highly doubt."
"Five hours? Can we at least crank the A/C? Turn on the radio?" Jensen muttered from the back seat.
"Sorry, man. I'm not sure if you noticed but this is a 1979 Lada-fucking-Niva." Pooch wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand and clutched the gearshift.
"Pooch." Clay said, giving the man a pointed look.
"Right. Ok. Everyone use the bathroom? Everyone all buckled up? –"
"Good, now let's roll." He pushed the car into drive ignoring the groans of the man stuck in the middle of the back seat.
They had only driven for an hour when they hit the first river crossing. Pooch had easily navigated it, finding that it had been more of a large stream than a proper river. Thirty minutes later came the second crossing, which had also proven easily crossed.
It was the third crossing that, occurring two and a half hours into their uncomfortable drive, gave them the greatest amount of trouble.
The water was fast moving and the riverbed seemed to consist mostly of clay making it incredibly slippery and near impossible for the old tires to grip. The depth was also questionable; some areas of the crossing had white caps suggesting shallow water while others appeared dark and deep.
It was because of this that Jensen found himself wading into the cool water, grumbling about the fact that his socks would never dry and that his boots would be waterlogged for weeks.
He was at least glad to be out of that damned car. The day's events had yielded a rather toxic form of fallout and their slow, agonizing trip through the jungle had allowed reality to continue to sink in.
They had inadvertently killed twenty-five children. Their own government had burned them. They were now exiles.
Jensen really couldn't think of a worse day.
He made it to the middle of the river, now up to his waist, and signaled to Pooch to continue.
"Alright, Pooch. Stay away from those rapids and you're golden, man."
The car made it's slow crawl into the water, the water coming up to the door handles and most assuredly soaking the interior. Roque followed behind the car, pushing it slightly to insure they didn't become stuck, and Jensen closed the distance between himself and the opposite bank returning to dry land.
The sound of churning water and cursing caused him to whip his head around.
"Goddamnit!" Roque was soaked; the vehicle had kicked up a substantial amount of water and now appeared to be stuck. They really couldn't get a damn break.
Pooch pushed the car into reverse causing the car to rock backwards for a moment before stalling in place once again.
"Shit …" He hit the steering wheel and pulled the keys from the ignition, "Shit! We're gonna flood the engine."
Clay and Pooch rolled their windows down and pulled themselves out into the river followed by Cougar who lifted his rifle high over his head, placing it on the vehicles top while he accepted Roque's and Clay's weapons ready to transfer them to the shoreline.
"I thought you said golden, Jensen." Clay said as he rounded the back of the vehicle, taking a place beside Roque. Jensen trudged back into the water, his hands lifted defensively, taking the car's right side, opposite of Pooch, ready to help push.
"Golden, bronze – they're so close it's hard to tell."
"You couldn't have looked a little harder, man?" Pooch said as they rocked the car back and forth, hoping to push it from the sinkhole they had accidentally created.
"Pooch, man, you were the one driving." They grunted as the vehicle began to move upwards, out of the slippery clay and forward once again. The strong current made for a difficult task in combination with the thick, sucking clay but they seemed to be making progress.
Finally, they managed to push the vehicle ashore, slightly out of breath from fighting the current and the mud, sweat mixing with the completely un-refreshing water.
"Well, I'm sure glad I didn't wear my good fatigues today."
"Pooch, can you get us started?" Clay accepted his semi-automatic from Cougar wanting nothing more than to continue moving.
Clay's answer was a gurgling sound and the sound of groaning gears. It permeated the forest like an insult.
They had been walking for hours and the fact had become terribly apparent when the jungle suddenly became bathed in darkness. With such thick vegetation there was no twilight or dusk; just day and the darkest hour of night.
Clay bit back his growing frustration. They were fortunate enough to have been able to follow the semi-dirt trail, though some areas had become so overgrown that it required bushwhacking courtesy of Roque, but there was still no sight or sound of the route 3 'highway' they were looking for.
He and Pooch had measured the distance to the highway after finding the engine had been completely flooded by their short stall in the river and Clay knew they had to be close.
At least he hoped so. He wasn't sure he could keep Roque from killing Jensen at this juncture. During their brief repose Roque had clearly had enough of Jensen's commentary and apparent laissez faire attitude and had made more than a few colorful threats against the young tech's life. If it weren't for Cougar's silent intervention – a scathing glare – he was sure it would have turned physical.
As tensions and tempers continued to rise so did the importance of reaching San Borja. Once there they could divert their anger and frustrations towards what really mattered: finding the man who did this.
The Sergeant wasn't about to let twenty-five innocent lives be lost with no consequence.
He didn't care if Jensen had to build a computer from coconuts and chicken wire, if Pooch needed to secure transport via a caravan of mopeds, he would find this bastard and expose him all whilst crippling him financially and, if he had any say, physically.
"Alright, alright, that looks like some sweet pavement ahead." Pooch announced as they came closer to what looked like a break in the vegetation.
"Roque." Clay signaled the other man, lifting his gun. The two broke the jungle, guns raised as they stepped onto the pavement.
"Clear." Clay said as he waved the other three team members over.
"Good, wouldn't want a stray capybara to ambush us."
"A cap – a what." Pooch said
"World's largest rodent – capybara."
"That's it, Clay, I'm killing him." For the fourth time that night, Roque unsheathed one of his horrendously large, sharp knives while Pooch rolled his eyes and Jensen signaled him closer, a gesture that said, 'bring it' – after so many survived threats, one got cocky.
"Boss." Cougar was pointing towards the south, his gaze following the twisting road. A pair of headlights, no more than three miles away, appeared over a bend before disappearing again.
"Alright, men, looks like our rides here. Cougar, give me eyes and a countdown. Roque, Pooch, take a vantage point. Jensen, are you up for some acting?"
"Alright. T-minus … Cougar?" Cougar had taken a small buff on the other side of the road and was looking down his scope, the IR lens gleaming green in the night.
"Llorando se fue y me dejo solo sin su amor …"
Ajacopa Padilla sung under his breath, listening to the crackling tune that blared through the radio.
He smacked the dash when the signal fizzled in and out. He didn't particularly enjoy driving the route between San Borja and the rural Yacuma region. The road was cracked and poorly maintained – he had lost more than a crate of eggs this trip – and it was unusually dark. The jungle created an oppressive void in combination with the rolling hills of the east; more than once he had hit a stray tapir or capybara.
He squinted into the darkness, sure something was moving, probably another stray alpaca … the thing suddenly jumped upwards, clearly human arms waving at him.
"Dios mio .."
He brought the pick up to a halt, the chickens squawking in their cages as the tires screeched, as the figure, the man, jumped in front of his car.
"Oh, thank god, senor! You have to help me."
Ajacopa blinked at the blonde Caucasian man who had seemingly burst onto the road from the jungle. He cast a wary eye behind the man and took in his appearance. He was wearing a dirty white wife beater and baggy pants that looked as though they might have been military – it was difficult to say in the dark.
"Please, por favor, senor, the aliens, the aliens are after me, my god, they're hideous, they want to probe me …"
Ajacopa shook his head and leaned out the window.
"Lo siento, no hablo ingles …"
"Los extraterrestres!" The farmer's eyes went wide as he repeated the word, not believing what this strange foreigner was saying.
"Yes, si, please help me, ayudame!" The farmer eyed the rough looking blonde, not truly wanting to become involved. He then looked around at the vastness of his country, at the black void that surrounded him. This foreigner wouldn't last long out here. He sighed.
"Si, si … entra." He motioned towards the passenger door, watching as the man passed in front of his headlights, his eyes wide in fear as he scanned the sky. The car shook as the blonde opened the door and settled down inside.
"Thank-you, gracias … you have no idea, it's terrible, the tenticles …" Ajacopa put a hand on his hip, fingering the hilt of an old six shooter.
"Oh, don't worry man," Ajacopa watched as the stranger put his hands up, signaling his lack of weapon, "Esta bien."
He nodded but kept the gun in sight. He didn't make a habit of picking up strange foreigners and didn't want the man to take advantage of him. He turned the dial on the radio down, quieting the music and clearing his throat.
"Ah-A donde quiere ir?"
"Uh, San Borja. Conoce San Borja?" Ajacopa nodded and pointed behind him.
"Cuarenta minutos." The blonde nodded.
"Yeah, si … gracias." The farmer nodded and somewhat begrudgingly turned the car around, heading for San Borja. He kept an eye on his strange passenger but remained unaware to the three stowaways sitting in his truck bed.
Jensen shook the man's hand as he made his way out of the car. The farmer had driven to the outskirts of the town, as the hacker had requested, and was jovially sending his strange passenger off.
"Gracias, hermano." He chuckled as the Bolivian smiled.
"Si, si, por favor, si visita La Morena …"
"Si, yo se, Calle Lago, gracias Ajacopa!" Jensen waved as the man pulled away, leaving a cloud of dust in his wake.
"Adios!" Jensen waved as the car disappeared.
"Aliens, Jensen. Really?" Pooch appeared from around an abandoned villa, dusting chicken feathers from his shoulders. Cougar, Roque and Clay followed behind him, all looking cramped and smelling like a farm.
"Hey, you guys asked for a performance and personally, I think I delivered, isn't that right Cougs?" Cougar merely grinned. The conversation between the Bolivian and Jensen had been … amusing.
"Yeah, your making friends and playing Close Encounters and we're sitting in chicken shit and getting bird flu."
Roque had taken out his binoculars and watched the vehicle disappear over a hill – the man hadn't seemed suspicious despite his ridiculous alien rant.
"Close Encounters? I picture my abduction experience to have been more Fire in the Sky –"
"Why didn't we just lose the driver, we'd have a vehicle and we wouldn't have had to listen to Jensen or that guy, Ajacoujo … Ajapoco, whatever … sing." Pooch handed Jensen back the rest of his fatigues and his gun; he couldn't help but feel as though he had been cheated of what he does best.
"He knows this area, the people know him," Clay said as he scanned the towns border, Cougar at his side peering through his rifle scope, "taking his truck would have been a dead give away in this town. That and the Bolivian wilderness isn't exactly friendly."
"That never stopped you before." Clay glanced sideways at his second in command.
"There's been enough death in this country for one day, Captain."
Roque was silent.
"Alriight. As heartwarming and deep as this conversation is, I think we need to figure out where we are going, hell I don't care if it's a Motel Six –"
"Calle Mercado." Clay pointed straight down the road towards what looked to be the beginning of a small ghetto. "It's the town center, filled with crime and lowlifes like us. Shouldn't be too hard to assimilate, to stay off the radar."
Clay looked at his men. They were exhausted, himself included. It had been more than 30 hours since they had any sort of real rest and it showed only in the bags under their eyes. They were good soldiers and should he ask, they would go for 30 more hours, but the day had been terrible enough and he was ready to call it.
He also needed a drink. Bad.
With only the sounds of barking dogs and the occasional shout, the unit made their way quietly through the dirt streets. They were lucky enough to have arrived in the earlier hours of the morning. The sudden appearance of five military men was sure to arouse suspicion and it was better for them if they could avoid attention – as soon as they could they would have to ditch their uniforms.
As they neared the heart of Calle Mercado, the sounds of laughter and inebriated shouting grew. They were close and they would have to stash their weapons if they wanted to make it through the town center without causing panic.
"Cougar," He gestured to the sharpshooter who was looking down an alley at what looked to be a street child, "you and Jensen stash the weapons, somewhere we can return to –"
Cougar nodded and he and Jensen relieved everyone of their AK-47s. They could keep their hanguns concealed, but for now, the large caliber weapons would have to remain hidden until they could secure a point of command.
"Pooch, Roque - find us a ride, something inconspicuous." Pooch snorted at the requirements – inconspicuous, what were they going to find that was inconspicuous, a burro drawn cart?
"And you, Sarge?"
"Recon. We meet back here at 0600."
At 0545 Jensen and Cougar stood at the rendez-vous point. Jensen and Cougar had stashed their uniform shirts and packs, relieving them of anything relevant and important.
Now they stood, leaning against the wall of what had once been 'El Mercado de Luis', waiting for the rest of their team. The sun was just beginning to overcome the eastern hills and Jensen was ready to call it a night.
The man beside him didn't show any sign of fatigue, his eyes were bright and alert. Though his body appeared relaxed Jensen could tell he was ready to spring in to action, his arms crossed tightly in front of him and his hat dipped low, obscuring his face.
"So, Cougs, what do you think of our home away from home?"
As expected he received no answer.
"Yeah, Clay sure knows how to – oh, hi …" A woman appeared next to him, her makeup thick and intricate and her hair tied in a long ponytail that reached her waist.
"Hola, papi. Turistas?" She looked at him and then Cougar with a coy smile.
"Ah, no thank-you, miss … nice shoes." Jensen smiled awkwardly and he could swear he heard Cougar chuckle quietly next to him.
"Es barato. Cheap. I promise." Jensen turned to Cougar, hoping the silent man would help him with this 'delicate' situation and couldn't help but laugh nervously as she put a finger on his chest, tracing a small pattern.
"Your friend, too. I do both. Muy barato." Jensen felt his face grow hot – if Roque or Pooch saw this he would never hear the end of it.
"Lo siento, senorita. No tenemos dinero." Jensen sighed in response to Cougar's intervention and nodded, patting his pockets and shrugging. The woman huffed and stormed away, her shoes making a loud clicking.
"I owe you, Coug. I can't believe I didn't think of that – no dinero, c'mon, amateur."
"Hey." Cougar tapped his arm and pointed down the road, opposite the fleeing prostitute.
Jensen wished he had a camera on him.
"You don't say a damn word," Pooch said as he and Roque pulled in front of the two men in a pair of vespas. "I saw you two flirting with that hooker, especially you Jensen. I knew you had lady issues but, damn –"
"She came onto me, isn't that right, Cougar?" Cougar smiled.
"Oh, come on, man …" Jensen shook his head and approached the 'vehicle' Pooch had 'acquired.'
"And, Pooch man, this – this – is inconspicuous?"
"It gets from point A to B, Jensen. Easy to hide, easy to sell, small – inconspicuous."
'Well, I'm not ever riding bitch –"
"Oh, yes you are … oh, here we go." Roque was looking past Jensen at Clay, who was making his way down the street. He had swapped his fatigues for a white dress shirt and a pair of black slacks and over his arm was slung a large black duffel bag.
"Safe and sound, Boss." Cougar said from the wall.
'Though, they might smell like grease and pulled pork for a while." They had hidden the semi-automatics and Cougar's rifle in a pair of worn down cooking vents on the top of a local cantina – they hadn't been cleaned in years, were easily accessible should they need them and it was unlikely that anyone would find them.
"Alright. Pooch … what are these?"
"I did the best I could with the time you gave me." Pooch said, his voice indignant and with a hint of frustration.
'Vespas?" Clay looked them over and, seemingly accepting them as adequate forms of transportation, tossed the duffel to Roque.
"Clothes and cash. Not a lot but enough to get us started." Roque tore open the bag, peering inside and pulling out a small wad of cash, no more than thirty-five hundred Bolivianos – 500USD.
"You find us a jumping point?" Roque stuffed the money back into the bag and pulled out a black shirt.
"La Grenada Hotel. Rooms 31," Clay tossed Jensen a set of keys, "32," he tossed another set to Pooch, "and 33." The last he pocketed.
"Where'd you get the cash?" Jensen took the bag, turning the wad of money in his hand before selecting a bright yellow shirt. He handed the bag off to Cougar who pulled out a jean vest.
"Irrelevant. Ok, listen up. La Grenada is our base of command now; we come and go in pairs or alone – we don't want to arouse the suspicion of the locals or any local crime families."
The sun had finally risen and his men looked tired. They would never admit to something as trivial as bone crushing fatigue, but they couldn't hide it in their appearance. Clay wanted to begin planning now - the fresher the crime the hotter the trail – but he couldn't push it. They needed a break to process everything, to sleep.
"Get back to the Granada within the hour. Rest. Then we'll start planning."
Jensen had never been more grateful for a tackily decorated, cockroach infested, urine smelling, cheap-ass hotel room. He splashed some yellow tap water onto his face, noting the days worth of stubble on his jawline, and scrubbed his hand through his hair. He looked like shit but he didn't particularly care.
He made his way to the bed and sighed.
He didn't both to take off his mud-caked boots as he let himself fall face first into the hotel bed, savoring the feeling of the scratchy sheets against his face.
"Ughnn…" He groaned into the bed. "Cougs, you have to try this laying down thing, there are no words for it …"
There was no answer, as to be expected, but he couldn't detect the man's usual presence.
"Cougs?" He looked around the room and saw that he was alone. He could have sworn he had come in with the sharpshooter …
A loud thump from near the window caused him to jump up into a stance that would have made Mr. Miyagi proud.
Cougar had come in through the window, landing in a low crouch with his rifle slung around his back.
"Oh, of course, there you are …"
"Not leaving this behind." Cougar lifted his rifle as if to accentuate the point, setting it on the small hotel table.
"Cougar without a rifle is like Cougar without a hat." Jensen agreed he as reassumed his position face down on the bed.
Jensen sighed, welcoming the sweet, blissful sleep that was sure to come. His body was stiff and every muscle throbbed and he was pretty sure he was drooling. The soft hum of the fan was soothing and he could feel his body growing heavier with each passing second. Still, something felt off. He could feel Cougar's eyes burning a hole in his prone form. Without cracking an eye he addressed the marksman.
"Yes? My Cougar senses are tingling, what's up?" Cougar's voice was low and serious, laced with fatigue.
"Mmnn?" Was Jensen's eloquent reply.
"You are sleeping."
"Are you asking me how I can sleep after a day like this?" Jensen mumbled into the sheets. Expecting Cougar to say nothing, he continued. "Because I'm exhausted, man. Today was …" there weren't any words for this day, "but you can't beat yourself up. You're allowed to rest, Cougs. You're no good to anyone without some sweet, wonderful, fantastical sleep."
"I can't –"
"You can. Just give it a try, lay down or I'll do something to your hat … and your rifle." Jensen grinned into the mattress as he heard the groan of the bed next to him.
He listened as Cougar said a soft prayer and he was sure he caught the word 'venticincos.' He heard a short rustling and he was sure Cougar was now lying on his back with his hat tipped over his face, just as he always did. Had he not been so exhausted he would have checked. He kept sleep at bay for a while longer, listening to the sharpshooter's breathing and the turning of the fan blades.
"Gracias." He just barely caught the quiet speech as sleep began to take hold. Just before he allowed himself to completely let go, to begin the slow process of healing, to put an end to this hellish day, he answered with a small,
Thank you to anyone who read. I didn't mean for this to be so long and I thank you for your patience. The stories to follow will be shorter, not 18 pages! I would love to hear what you think, comments and criticism welcome! Ideas as well, anything you want to see our boys do in Bolivia?
Also, I used many quotes and events from the comics – if you haven't read them, I highly recommend it. The bit with Jensen and the seatbelt was actually form the comic-verse, as was his linguistic skills – in the comic he speaks very fluent Arabic, so I figured Spanish shouldn't be too hard for him. He and Roque also fight each other briefly in the comic, I won't spoil it but, well, Roque is a beast. The comic also gave insight into Cougar's character; it was the events of the helicopter extraction fiasco that led to Cougar becoming more withdrawn and I am trying to incorporate that here - he also appears to be somewhat religious, so ...
Anyway! Thank you for reading and please review if you find a moment! Asante sana!
"En nombre de Padre, de Hijo et de espiritu santo …": In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit
"Los cirios": the candles
"Para los veinticincos": for the twenty-five
"Lo siento, no hablo ingles": I'm sorry, I don't speak English
"A donde quiere ir?": Where do you want to go?
"Conoce San Borja?": Are you familiar with San Borja?
"Si visita La Morena": If you visit La Morena...
"Yo se.": I know