Pitch blackness, all around him, the only light coming from the glow of rat's eyes as they dodge around his ankles. He is guiding himself more by smell and sound than by sight, shuffling down the narrow stone hallway with gun raised. He wishes he had night vision goggles, but his squad wasn't issued with them.
Up ahead, a sound. A voice, muffled by rock and iron. The words are unclear but the tone is obviously one of distress.
He turns the corner, following the damp, moldy wall. The voice is louder, low to the ground, and it echoes. A cell.
Whoever it is, they're about five feet in front of him. Keeping his guard up, he flicks open his lighter.
The figure in the cell is hunched, filthy and skeletal, Auschwitz-naked, shaggy-haired. It- it's impossible to tell if it's a man or woman- raises it's head and moans.
He pauses, raises his rifle.
And suddenly recognizes that wild crop of blonde hair, those perfectly blue eyes, even without the glasses they normally hide behind.
It doesn't make sense, he thinks wildly, even as he scrabbles at the locked bars, why would he be here? It doesn't make sense; he's not missing, he shouldn't be here, he-
He pries the door open and drops to his knees, crawling over to Jensen and clutching him, pulling him up off the floor, but the hacker is listless in his arms, a frail stick figure that will snap at any instant like a twig. He's trying to force words out, trying to scream Jensen's name, trying to make this make sense, when a guard steps around the corner and fires.
Jensen jerks in his arms, once, then goes silent and limp, and he feels the hot splash of blood on his cheek, seeping into his shirt, flooding under his hands, and only now is he able to scream, and he's screaming and screaming and he feels Jensen slip away, feels it like his heart is being ripped out, and he can't stop screaming now-
-and Cougar wakes up in his bed, in the hotel room he fell asleep in, whipping his gun out from under his pillow and aiming it at the bare wall, chest heaving, his hat askew. He looks around the room, wide-eyed, checking every danger area, every corner. Nothing. He slowly lowers his 9 mm. Nothing. He releases the breath he didn't realize he's been holding.
He's had it before, over and over, but he's always been good at beating them into submission. Then, a month ago, the prisoner, the anonymous corpse, was replaced by Jensen, near-dead, pleading for the sniper to end his life.
Cougar doesn't know how to deal with these dreams. He can't beat them back, can't glare them away, and he can never wake up in time. He can handle death, he can handle death better than anyone alive (according to the rest of the team), but when he sees his friend die, watches the light drain from his eyes, even if it's only a dream, he cannot. Handle. It. Jensen is too cheerful, too friendly, too funny and too alive for that to happen. Mierda, Cougar can barely keep himself from strangling someone when the hacker gets winged by the occasional stray bullet or shrapnel.
He sighs and leans back against the pillows. Presses his ear against the thin wall, listening for Jensen's breathing, his snores or the sound of his fingers dancing across the keyboard. Cougar pretends to be irritated by his friend's penchant for staying up 'til five am, clacking away at that damn computer, but really, hearing him type and curse and make passes at his laptop is the most soothing sound in the world. That sound, it means Jensen's alive. It means he's safe.
He hears the hacker take a breath, hears the bed creak. He closes his eyes, relieved, and sits back up. No way in hell he's getting any sleep again tonight. He pulls his rifle from under the bed and starts dissembling it, piece by piece, cleaning methodically. He doesn't bother turning on the light; he knows his gun inside and out, by memory.
Footsteps, in the hallway. He draws his Beretta and aims, tense. There's a pause, a scratching sound as the lock is picked (lousy hotel security), and then the door opens.
Cougar relaxes his arm. "Sí."
"What was that?"
The sniper stows the Beretta once more and shrugs, even though he knows Jensen can't see him. "Nothing."
"Really?" The bedside lamp clicks on, throwing shadows across the carpet. The blonde has been, as Clay puts it, "hacking in his undies again", nothing but a pair of boxers that say B.P.R.D. hanging low on his hips. "That's funny; it sounded to me like somebody in this room shouted my name."
Cougar glares. It's supposed to be a clear message for Jensen to mind his own business, and normally it's all it takes to send sane people running, but the hacker has some sort of anti-glare shield, because he closes the door and continues.
"Now, let's see... the shout definitely came from this room. Now, who all is in this room? Looks like it's just you! Huh! Well, this is a puzzler, isn't it?" He's grinning, that annoying I-know-that-Cougar's-hiding-something-and-I'm-not-giving-up-til-he-tells-me-what grin. Cougar rolls his eyes; he's too tired to play evasive maneuvers.
"Just a dream," he says quietly.
"Oh?" Jensen's voice goes up a few octaves and it's obvious that if no explanation is forthcoming, there will be Assumptions, the kind with a capital A.
The sniper arches an eyebrow. "Go away."
"I'm gonna say 'no'." The hacker plops down on the floor, crosses his legs, and looks like he plans on sitting there all night. "In fact, I'm gonna go ahead and settle down, get comfy while you tell me what's up."
"Cougar, you woke up screaming my name! You know what I call that? I call that either a really really good dream that reveals your secret lust for me-" Cougar twitches. "-or a really really bad dream that's freaking you out."
"No." He tugs the brim of his hat down and lays flat, ignoring his fellow Loser.
"Cougaaaaarrrr," Jensen whines like a petulant child, drumming his feet on the carpet. "Talk to meeeee."
"Ha! That counts as talking!"
"Fine. I talked. Now go to bed." He rolls over, hoping illogically that the tech will get the hint and go. Of course, that's not happening.
"C'moonnn." The hacker pleads. "Tell me what's wrong. Aside from the usual, I mean."
"Nada. Vete a la mierda."
"Oohh no. You don't get to wiggle your way out of a conversation by switching languages on me this time. I done bought me a Spanish dictionary! And no, I will not fuck off. I will sit here until you 'fess up. Habla, mi amigo aterrador*!" Jensen jabs a self-satisfied finger at the Spaniard's back.
Cougar scoffs, both at the command and the very poorly-spoken Spanish. He turns and yanks the chain on the lamp, sending the room into darkness once more in another attempt to kill the conversation. He doesn't really expect it to work, so he is slightly surprised when he hears Jensen stand and take a few steps, feet shuffling across the mat.
But instead of hearing the door open, he feels the mattress dip behind him, hears the sheets rustle, and before he can react there's a warm body pressed up against him.
"What? I'm doing what you said: I'm going to bed!" Cougar can hear the grin in Jensen's voice. "Don't worry; it's totally not gay- we're both wearing clothes. Well, I mean, I'm wearing boxers and you're... uh, fully dressed, as always."
It's fucking painful, how close Jensen comes sometimes to completely blowing the carefully-crafted arm's-length distance that Cougar has spent years keeping people at. All the playful bickering, the one-sided conversations, the over-the-top, cuddly, no-such-thing-as-Cougar's-personal-space behavior that could almost, almost be flirting, all of it drives him right to the edge. The sniper growls and tries to shift away, but it's a small bed and Jensen follows him like a persistent limpet, latching onto the thinner man and making little grumbling noises.
Resigned and exhausted, Cougar lays down on his back and the hacker settles under the blankets, head against his companion's shoulder. Cougar closes his eyes and attempts to sink into a meditative state, to remove himself from the sudden uncomfortable heat that's starting to build in his chest. He's halfway there when Jensen, who does not do staying still well at all, starts outlining the tattoo on the sniper's left pectoral, brushing his fingertips over it through the shirt. Cougar freezes.
"I always liked your tat. You should get another. Something badass, like a petunia on your butt."
Anyone but Jensen, he tells himself, Anyone but Jensen would be deader than a possum on a highway in rush hour by now. As it is, it's all he can do to keep himself from A: shooting him, or B: jumping him and sexing him into a coma.
"Aww, I gave you goosebumps!"
That's the last straw; Cougar rolls over and stands up, taking his pillow with him as he totters over to the chair in the corner and collapses into it.
"Cougs?" Jensen sits up. "What's wrong, really?" And he truly and honestly sounds like he has no idea, like crawling into your best friend's bed and fondling his chest is totally normal, like it shouldn't have any effect on the black-haired man, and maybe that's how normal friendships go; Cougar wouldn't know. All he knows right now is that if he stays within five feet of the younger man, something will happen. Something he's pretty sure they'll both regret.
The sniper jumps and wonders how the fuck Jensen managed to get within inches of his face without him noticing. He jerks away, glaring once more, but as usual the technological genius ignores it.
"Go to sleep."
"Not until you talk to me." The hacker kneels and plants his hands on the arms of the chair. "Cougar, I'm worried about you. Well, more worried than I normally am. I mean, I always worry about you; I worry that you're gonna get shot, or get sick from lack of sleep, or have a psychotic break, or die from overexposure to my awesomeness-"
He doesn't get to finish his sentence because Cougar is suddenly attached to his mouth, pushing forward and grabbing his shoulders as they tumble to the floor. The hacker doesn't get the chance to protest or respond beyond what sounds like a surprised moan before Cougar's lips are moving down his neck, across his chin, back to his mouth, tongue and teeth coaxing, demanding, pleading, talking without words.
It's only when he glides a hand up Jensen's chest and drags his fingernails back down and the blonde gasps and bites his lip that Cougar comes back to reality and notices what he's doing. He's holding his friend down, vigorously kissing him, putting his hands all over him, grinding his hips against him, forcing him.
He's forcing Jensen. And Jensen can't say no, because Cougar isn't letting him.
The thought is like the sound of a Mossberg Roadblocker** going off in his ear. He has to stop, now, before he makes this any worse. Before he hurts the only genuine friend he has- or had- even more. He can already see the pain that will be in those blue, blue eyes when he pulls away, the shock and fear and disgust and he can hear the voice that he has spent so many hours listening to chatter away about everything and nothing screaming at him "I thought I could trust you!" and he feels his heart clench and he wishes he could have just one more second, just one more, to bury himself in the warmth, the perfection that he's ruined, but it's too late; he's pulling back and readying himself to go down the hall, report himself to Clay, and leave. He keeps his eyes closed because as much as never seeing Jensen again will hurt, seeing that look in his eyes will hurt more, so he's hoping he can leave without looking. He starts to sit back, to climb to his knees, when he realizes that there are two hands on him, one clamped around his shoulders, the other tangled in his hair, knocking his hat to the floor.
"Where do you think you're going, cowboy?"
Cougar's eyes pop open on their own and he is greeted by the sight of Jensen, not hurt, not shouting, but grinning.
Jensen. Grinning. At him.
The sniper wonders if maybe he's in shock or something, and continues to sit up, brow furrowing, stumbling over an apology that's only half-English, but the American shakes his head, refusing to release his firm hold on Cougar's shoulders.
"Okay, I only understood about 30% of that, but I caught the words 'I'm sorry' several times in several languages, and that's just not right. Now, I want you to listen up. No, not 'stand up and back away'- get back here!" The hacker lunges after his comrade, catching him around the knees and sending him crashing back to the floor, taking the lamp with him, which at this point is fine because there's enough light coming from the pre-dawn window to illuminate their faces. Jensen crawls over to the grounded killer and straddles him- honest-to-god straddles him, pinning his hands with his knees, and how the fuck is Cougar supposed to focus on escaping when he does that?
"Okay," Jensen says again, "Now then, I think the two of us oughta have a little chat. I knew something was up, but I didn't expect to make quite this much progress tonight." He beams at the Spaniard's struggles, knowing he has the weight and size advantage here. "So. Let's talk. I'll go first. I have a couple things to say, but first things first: that was some AWESOME makeouts. I mean, gender and the question of sexuality aside, that was just excellent." He clears his throat and the smile drops from his face. "Moving along, though, I have to tell you: I'm not gay, no matter what Pooch... and Jolene... and Clay... and Aisha... and, well, my sister and niece and pretty much everybody say. Sure, I'm pretty curious sometimes, but I've never thought of myself as gay." Cougar starts to lower his head, to look away, to apologize again, and Jensen grabs his chin, makes him meet the hacker's eyes. "Like I said, I'm not gay. But, honestly, Cougs, I think pretty much any man with a pulse would find it impossible not to have a secret, underwear-tearing boner for you." The grin is back now, brighter than a rocket-fueled dawn. "Of course, I'll have to kill said men- and maybe women- when I sense secret-lusting from now on, 'cuz I don't share well with others." He leans in, eyes lidded, voice husky, and Cougar has never been more grateful for the fact that he sleeps in full-clothes, because the activity that had been going on down there earlier has started up again with a vengeance. Jensen continues, gaze smokey and breath hot against his friend's chin. "And now for my closing statement..."
He brings their mouths together, first just a soft brush, followed by a sudden assault of heat and rough, demanding strokes on the sniper's lips, nipping and sucking and Cougar is helpless, has no choice but to open his mouth and grant entrance to that tongue, oh fuck, that tongue, and Jensen moans again, loud and unashamed, when Cougar responds, sliding his lips against the hacker's. The smaller man cautiously leans into the kiss, deepening it and engaging his own tongue. This is apparently the right choice, because it earns him a groan and a shallow thrust against his hips. Just as Cougar is really, really wishing he had the use of his hands, Jensen releases him and sits back, still somehow wearing that same victorious grin.
"So. You got a rebuttal?"
Cougar stares blankly up at him for a beat or two, somewhat in shock, and then his friend's words seem to break through. Slowly, he nods and manages one word. "Bed."
"Excellent rebuttal, sir! I concur fully!" The intel operative stands, holding out a hand, and hauls Carlos upright.
Cougar has only a few seconds to reel over the fact that this is happening, that Jensen wants him, before the hacker is tugging his shirt up, momentarily obscuring his vision, pulling it over his head and throwing it into a corner of the room. Jensen pauses, marveling at his companion's torso in his usual fashion.
"Holy shit, you are so fucking hot! Jesus, Cougs, you have, like, a fucking twelve-pack!" Cougar does his trademark little half-smirk until Jensen bends down and catches a nipple in his teeth, and suddenly the smirk is more of a dazed, open-mouthed look of "oh goodness". Very pleased with this, the tech stands once more and gives his friend a gentle shove, sending him thudding onto the bed. Jake follows quickly, crawling over the Spaniard with an expression of eager anticipation. He starts to lean in, then halts, milimetres away from Cougar, who raises a frustrated eyebrow.
"Oh my god," Jensen says, "You know that thing you do, right before you kill somebody? That little thing where you lick your lips? Well, it turns out you do that when you're getting ready to kiss me and it's really, really hot."
The sniper scoffs and tilts his head up, connecting their mouths again as the blonde strokes a trail down his bare chest, his stomach, rubbing little circles on his hips, and slowly undoing the button on his jeans.
Cougar arches, gasps, gripping the bedspread as a surprisingly soft, amazingly warm hand encircles him, pumps once, twice, agonizingly slow. He forces himself not to close his eyes, to keep them trained on the absolutely glorious image that is Jensen right now, feral grin and furrowed brows, that intense look that's normally reserved only for his computer, but now it's focused on Cougar, just Cougar, and the sniper can't believe how hard he is already, how he's squirming and growling and they've only just started. He's about to tell the larger man to stop, that he won't last much longer if this keeps up, but apparently Jensen really does have psychic powers, because he releases his hold and yanks the jeans down the rest of the way, dragging Cougar's briefs with them. He struggles with his own boxers for a moment, torn between touching Cougar and removing his underpants so he can touch Cougar more. After watching him dither for a few seconds with an amused gleam in his eyes, the dark-haired man raises his upper body and plants a kiss on each of Jensen's collarbones as he slides his calloused but incredibly agile fingers under the hem of the offending garment, tugging them down enough for the American to kick them away.
Each takes a moment to admire the sight of the other, fully exposed and aroused, and Jensen laughs a little when Cougar unconsciously gravitates forward. The tech genius bends his head and mouths at the long, lean column of throat in front of him, nips at an ear and grins at the shiver it earns him before asking, a little awkwardly, "Uh, Cougs- do you have any, uh..." The sniper blinks, then shakes his head anxiously. The anxiety turns to panic when Jensen slides off the bed suddenly and turns away, but instead of leaving as Cougar fears, the blonde goes into the bathroom and returns an instant later with a tiny hotel bottle. He catches the fear in his companion's gaze and climbs back onto the mattress, shaking his head and running a soothing hand down the tense man's side.
"It's okay, man. Jeez, calm down; I'm not going anywhere. I'm not gonna freak and run out on you." He kisses Cougar's cheek, light and almost chaste, then turns to recapture his lips and tonguefucks him so thoroughly that the sociopathic Loser can only groan hoarsely and wrap his arms around Jensen's waist, pulling him closer.
They part and Jensen holds up the bottle. "I figured, what the hell else do hotels put these tiny bottles of lotion in the rooms for? I mean, it's not like you were gonna use it, unless of course you really were having a sexy dream about me and you were gonna make a little Cougar-juice to nnuhhh-!" He is cut off by the frustrated sniper, who rolls his eyes and grabs his friend's member, rubbing at the head and sliding his fingers along the shaft teasingly. Jensen moans and closes his eyes. "Ahh, god, Cougar..."
He's so caught up in the hand on his arousal that he doesn't feel deft fingers slip the bottle from his loosening grasp. It's only when the hand on him suddenly becomes cool and slippery that he gasps and opens his eyes. "What-?"
Cougar smirks, just the barest quirk of the corner of his mouth, and slicks more lotion onto the hacker's erection before grabbing Jensen's hand. He places an open kiss on the palm, then squirts a blob of the ointment onto those skillful, type-at-speed-of-light fingers. Jensen catches his gaze, breathless, and holds it for so long that Cougar has to pull the hand toward him, behind him, down his back, down...
The tech groans and leans in, grinding their hips together and brushing his lips over one of he many scars that crisscross the sniper's chest. He hesitates, tips his head back and looks Cougar in the eye again as he presses his ring finger into his friend. When the only response is a slight hitch in the leaner man's breath, he slides his middle finger in alongside the first, the lotion warming and smoothing, working his fingers in deeper and searching for-
Cougar bites his lip, too high on the sensations to be embarrassed, shoulders twitching with every movement of Jensen's hand, and feels hot breath against his jaw as the American whispers, "Sit up. On your knees." The hacker's voice is so deep, smokey and raspy with lust, so very different from the normal inane chatter, and it sends shivers through him. He rises shakily, extremely aware of the digits still moving inside him, and hovers on his knees. Jensen starts to move his fingers, sliding them in and out, slowly, faster, faster, and Cougar is panting, his legs shaking, and he clutches at the larger man's broad shoulders, pleading silently. Jensen takes pity and pulls his fingers out, then has to catch Cougar as the sniper's knees give out. Laughing, then quickly biting his tongue as he receives a death-glare, the younger man lowers his friend onto the mattress and crouches over him, ogling unreservedly.
"God, Cougar... You are so fucking gorgeous."
Which is ridiculous, Cougar thinks, because nothing in the world is as perfect as Jensen right now. He's everything someone like Cougar could never have, should never have, because Cougar is a Killer. Yes, Jensen has killed, everyone on the team has killed, which technically makes them all killers, but not all of them are... Killers. Clay is a Killer. Aisha is a Killer. Roque was a Killer.
Cougar is a Killer.
Jensen can hack a government satellite using only a spoon and a couple of soup cans, can con the Queen out of her crown jewels, can take out an enemy with extreme prejudice... and can then go home to his sister and his niece and live a normal, healthy, well-balanced life with whatever ridiculously lucky person he chooses.
Cougar can shoot the wings off a fly at 1000 yards, can disappear completely in an all-white terrain without removing his hat, can pick out an enemy from a crowd and take them out with extreme prejudice... but when he gets out, when he takes leave (or is forced to take leave as is almost always the case) he has no idea what to do with himself. He feels lost without the need to kill, the pressure of battle and deadly stakes. He swims in the ocean of war, and when he tries to leave it, he drowns. He has the dreams, and worse, he has the Dream. He sees Jensen, again and again, dead or dying, in that cell, and he can't do a thing to help, because he's a Killer. Killers like him don't do well in the world; they either Kill or they go... bad, like Roque.
"Hey," Jensen taps a gentle finger against Cougar's forehead. "You still there? I lost your signal for a sec."
"Si," he manages, trying to meet his friend's eyes and failing.
Jake frowns. "Cougs." He tips his head and captures the sniper's lips again, trails a line down his chin, his throat, back up to his mouth as his fingertips glide down Cougar's thigh. "I don't wanna do this if you're not here."
"I'm- fine," Cougar insists. Jensen does not look like he believes this for a moment, but the Spaniard quickly diverts his attention with a hand, stroking and groping possessively until the hacker moans aloud and ruts against his hips.
Judging him to be properly distracted, Carlos releases him and hears him make a thwarted, displeased sound.
"Augh, you fucking tease, you!" Jensen is grinning again, at least, and he repays Cougar's little stunt with some more teasing of his own, sliding a single finger into the sniper and dragging it over that spot inside him again and again until he's struggling for breath, his vision blurry and dark, clutching the sheets so hard he thinks he feels them rip.
He can't take any more; he tries to shout Jensen's name, but it comes out as more of a strangled, breathy groan that could mean anything. Of course, being the genius that he is, Jensen decodes the noise and slips his finger free. After only a brief instant of Disappointed Cougar Face, which Jensen decides is adorable and remembers to store in the back of his mind for use on another day, the tech grabs one of his comrade's legs and hoists it up around his waist as he enters him.
Cougar tries to maintain his composure, but as Jensen sinks into him, he can't help but gasp and twitch and writhe, and by the time he is completely breached, his head is thrown back, his eyes glazed, his hair spread wildly, a few strands caught in the corner of his open mouth. He feels Jensen withdraw, almost completely, then thrust forward, their hips grinding bruisingly wonderful. He makes a sound- no, it's not a whimper, no matter what is said later- as he feels Jensen find that spot once more and pound against it, again and again, faster and harder, and he sits up, raking his fingers through that spiky blonde hair as their tongues clash and battle. There are warm hands on him, one bracing him, under his hip, thumb moving in circles as it slides across his belly and finds his arousal, strokes it in time with the thrusts, making him cry out against the warm lips on his, the other cradling the back of his head. Jensen is making a low, gravelly grunting in the back of his throat with each movement, interlaced with mindless babble about how awesome this is and how it somehow reminds him of a computer program he hacked once. Cougar slings his free leg up and hooks his ankle over the larger man's shoulder, and the angle makes him buck and squirm with ecstasy, and Jensen's still rambling as he lowers himself to press their chests together, closer, closer.
"Ah- ah, shhiit, Cougs, oh my god, ahh, fuck, ah! Uhh!"
Cougar lets fly with a string of curses and endearments, mostly in Spanish, and feels Jensen strike deep inside him one last time as everything goes white and unbearably hot and he wonders briefly if the hacker was right, if he really is dying from overexposure to raw Jensen-ness. He hears a desperate, primal cry inches away, and he cuts it off with his lips, drawing the sensation out as long as possible with kiss after kiss.
They collapse, boneless and weak-limbed, and lie trying to catch their breath for a while on the sheets. After about five minutes of unsuccessful attempts to motivate himself to get up, Jensen rolls free and grabs a corner of cover to wipe tenderly at Cougar's belly, cleaning him, and plants a few more lazy, half-assed smooches up and down the sniper's chest as he tosses the stained, balled-up sheet off the bed. There's another beat of silence, warm and comfortable, as they stare at each other, and then Jensen clears his throat and glances around awkwardly.
"Look, Cougar- actually, don't look, 'cuz I'm incapable of forming coherent sentences when you look at me like that- I know you don't talk about your past. That's fine. I get it. But, well... sometimes you need to just share whatever it is with somebody, okay? And since we're on the subject, I'd like to recommend myself as that 'somebody' for future reference."
Cougar just smiles, tired again, but not worried about sleeping this time. He lifts the blankets and they crawl under them, Jensen immediately cuddling as close as is physically possible. For a while, there's only the sound of their breathing, slow and even, as the brushstrokes of dawn begin to colour the walls. Of course, a conscious Jensen is a chatty Jensen, so the silence doesn't last long.
"I lied. When we were lying in bed together before? It might've been a little gay."
So, as soon as I finished this, I had an idea for another. Tell me if you guys think I should go for it: Cougar can't take it any more; he has to tell Jensen something about how he feels, but he doesn't want to lose his friend. So he compromises: he tells Jensen how he feels. In Spanish. It goes well; he feels better and Jensen has no idea what he said, so he continues. For instance, he'll comment sort of offhandedly that Jensen smells nice or that he's cute, but in Spanish, and never around anyone that speaks Spanish. For a while, everything is hunky-dory. Then Jensen buys a Spanish dictionary.
And also maybe a short fic about how Cougar, being from a warmy warm-warm land, does not handle cold well, but pretends he does.
THE CUSSING PLOT BUNNIES COMMAND ME!
*"Talk, my scary friend!"
** One of the sexiest guns ever made. Google image that fucker, it's GORGEOUS.
*** "Holy shit/Motherfucker"