Wow...um I'm not really sure where this came from O.o This is a bit darker than what I normally write but it wouldn't leave me alone until it got written so here it is! Hope you all like it! :D
I own nothing! =/
The darkness was suffocating, pressing down on him from every angle and pining him to the bed mercilessly. Long shadows crept along the walls, distorted and abstract images reaching for him, stopping just short of the bed. Some of them looked like hands and fingers, black and gnarled by the darkness, clawing at the bed and everything around him, trying to drag him down into the depths with them.
Jensen blinked and rubbed his eyes irritably, wishing more than anything he could fall asleep and be lost to the world for a few hours. It seemed sleep had other plans though, elusive son of bitch that it was, and his mind simply refused to shut down and leave him be. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gotten a full night's sleep; it felt like years rather than days and he was beginning to wonder if his body could even stand to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. It seemed unlikely now, sleep meant nightmares and nightmares meant reliving…that day.
It had been two weeks since the chopper went down in Bolivia, killing those kids and effectively wiping the Losers off the map as far as the world was concerned. Two weeks since they'd learned of Max and the psychotic ideals he stood for. Two weeks since that crash burned a permanent image into all of their minds, two weeks since they hadn't been able to save a single child from the flames.
It was hard to cope and even harder to accept. They'd failed and now twenty-five kids were dead. They all dealt with it differently, some more productively than others. Jensen had thrown himself into his work, digging up every possible detail he could about Max and his locations, his money transfers and where they were going, anything he could that might lead them to him. He'd also pulled up a satellite for Pooch so he could keep an eye on Jolene even if she wasn't aware of it. They were supposed to be dead, lost in the wreckage of that fucking chopper so that meant no more phone calls or letters, no video chatting and no possibility of him going home to see his wife and the birth of their child. In some ways, Jensen thought that Pooch had it the worst of all of them.
Clay disappeared nearly every night, dragging himself to some nameless bar or another to drink away the memories of their failure. He was in charge, he was responsible, and he'd let his team down. He took the blame hard for the first few days, not speaking and staring at Max's records that Jensen had printed out for hours as if he would somehow leap off the page and be within shooting distance of their CO. It was wishful thinking…they didn't even have a picture of the guy but Clay was determined to change that as soon as he could. "I talked to him on the radio. It means he has a throat and that means I can rip it out." He'd growled to Jensen one morning when the tech hand handed him the newest page of information he'd dug up.
Roque seemed even more on edge than before, his blades sharp and gleaming and always visible on him, almost daring someone to make a move. Jensen was pretty sure he was just waiting for the right opportunity to run someone through with one of them and would have no problems doing it either. He usually accompanied Clay on his drinking binges, probably hoping for a bar fight so he could let go of some of them pent up aggression that was on the verge of boiling over. Hell, Jensen wouldn't be at all surprised if he started a bar fight just so he could finish it. Roque was a crazy son of bitch on the best of days and now…now he was just dangerous.
And then there was Cougar. Cougar had pretty much stopped talking all together after the chopper crash; he was the closest to the flames so he could see the children's faces as they burned. He heard their screams, watched as the fire consumed everything, and there was nothing he could do about it. Cougar had always been quiet to begin with but now it was like his words had died with those kids. Jensen could count on one hand the number of times Cougar had said anything to them in the past two weeks and it didn't even take all of his fingers. The Sniper closed himself off from everyone, more than he usually did, and it was only a matter of time before the faded away completely.
Jensen tried to hold it together for the rest of his team. He still smiled and laughed and joked, though most of the time it fell on deaf ears and glares. No one wanted his humor, not yet, and they made it very clear that it was unwelcome for the most part. It wasn't that he was trying to ignore what happened but he was pretty sure if he spent any amount of time on it, he'd shatter just like everyone else. He had to keep it together for them, he had to bring them up and piece them back together and act like someday this would all get better because if he didn't, no one would and the hairline cracks that had begun to form in their team would break completely and they would all be lost. He had to hold them together.
He turned and looked at Cougar, sleeping quietly across the room from him. Actually, he could never be sure if Cougar was sleeping or simply lying there with his eyes closed, the Sniper was a master of disguise that way. It was nearly 3 am and he hadn't had a nightmare yet, at least not one that Jensen had heard of. Jensen had started bunking with Cougar years ago simply because the older man had a tendency to jolt awake from a nightmare and take aim at anything in the room. Jensen was the only one who could talk him down without running the risk of getting shot so he usually shared a room with Cougar without having to be asked. No nightmares tonight though, at least not yet. In a way, Jensen was almost jealous of the nightmares because it meant sleep, something that he hadn't been having much luck with for the past couple weeks.
Suddenly it was all too much, the darkness was too oppressive and he couldn't stand it. He sat up quickly, not bothering to grab his glasses and walked out of the room, casting one last envious look at the Sniper before he disappeared into the hallway. He was hot, he could feel his shirt sticking to his skin, and the only thing he could think about was a shower.
The bathroom light flickered on when he entered, the bulb making a shrill screeching noise as it strained to life. The bathroom was only slightly bigger than a closet, just enough room for a toilet, a shower stall and a sink. It didn't matter though, they weren't here for comfort; this was the best they could get and it was more than they deserved. They were murderers…they'd killed those kids…
Jensen shook his head and ripped his shirt off over his head, dropping it to the ground before stripping out of his pants as well. He turned on the shower, the water sputtering and the pipes groaning in effort. He turned the dial, cranking up the temperature as high as it would go, hoping the scalding water against his skin would help wash away some of the guilt he felt. Lately, it seemed that all of his clothes smelled like smoke, the fabric clinging to the memory of that terrible day and reminding him relentlessly that it was their fault. Your fault…you should have known something was off about the mission…you shouldn't have put those kids on the chopper…
Jensen stepped into the stall, jerking the curtain closed a bit harder than he meant to and one of the rings from the shower curtain popped off, falling into the shower and clinking against the drain…metal on metal, scraping, burning, twisting, the kids are screaming…
He closes his eyes, trying desperately to block out all the thoughts in his head, concentrating on nothing but the unbearably hot water stinging against his back. It hurts but he can't bring himself to care, the physical pain is better than the things in his head. Unbearably hot…fire…flames…screams…
He rakes a hand through his hair, absently grabbing a bottle of shampoo the hotel had left for them and scrubs it into his hair, his nails biting painfully into his scalp. Soap suds trail down his chest and back, swirling in with the water as it makes its way to the drain. For a second, with his eyes half open and without his glasses, the suds look like blood swirling in the water. Innocent blood…those kids…it was his fault…
Jensen shook his head angrily, pressing his back against the cracked tiles along the wall. "Hold it together…hold it together…" He breathed, his hands forming fists next to his temples. "I can't break now…" Broken glass…twisted metal…the kids are dead…
He turns off the water and stumbles out of the stall, the walls suddenly too close. He doesn't bother to dry himself off, he just slips the pants back on and stands with his back against the wall, the tiles cold and solid against his bare skin. There's something running down his face but he can't tell if its water or tears. "Come on…get a grip…get a grip Jensen…" He mutters to himself, shaking his head violently and keeping his eyes closed. He can see them, all of them, reaching out for the help that he can't give. Tiny burned hands are clawing at his feet, his pants legs, asking "why, why, why?" over and over again. He doesn't have an answer, he can't even find his voice, and he shakes his head again. "I'm sorry…God, I'm so so sorry…"
He opens his eyes, his vision blurry from a mixture of tears and steam from the shower. He can't see the door, only the steam, and it reminds him of the smoke. The smoke that stayed in his clothes, the smoke that left a greasy residue on his skin and filled his lungs like an acrid cancer. The smoke from the fire that killed those kids…the kids he'd put on the chopper…that chopper that was shot down because it was supposed to have their team on it…his fault, his fault, his fault…
Suddenly, Jensen isn't standing anymore as his knees buckle and his legs give out from under him. He crashes to the floor in a messy heap, landing heavily on his knees and his hands clench into fists on the tiles. The smoke (steam his brain supplies uselessly) is too much and he can't breathe, the air sitting heavily all around him but he can't pull enough in. He feels like something is sitting on his chest, preventing him from taking a deep breath and he wonders if this is how those kids felt as the flames grew higher. No, they probably felt the fire…burning and destroying them more with each passing second…Jesus Christ they were just kids…!
Jensen is gasping now, the tightness in his chest growing even worse until it's like trying to take a breath under water. He shakes his head, hot tears streaming down his face, and no matter how many times he tries to tell himself to hold it together, that he can not fall apart right now, he can't stop the tears from coming.
There's a sound up above him and slight swoosh as the door opens but Jensen barely hears it; he can't breathe, all he can hear is the rush of blood in his ears. Someone is beside him them, calloused yet gentle hands wrapping around his face and bringing him up to look at the newcomer. Cougar; of course it was Cougar, the one person Jensen didn't want to see him like this. The Sniper is on his knees in front of him, dark eyes filled with concern and Jensen absently wonders how long he's been awake or if he'd been asleep at all.
Cougar was wearing the same clothes he'd been wearing in bed but his trademark cowboy hat was now sitting on top of his head because God forbid he ever go anywhere without it. Jensen would have laughed at the absurdity of him wearing his hat into the bathroom if he'd had the breath to laugh at all. He makes a pathetic little gasping noise and Cougar's eyes darken, watching the younger man worriedly. "Jake…" He says, a low rumbling sound deep in the back of his throat that always makes Jensen's skin crawl. Everyone else on the team calls him Jensen, Cougar is the only one who ever calls him Jake.
He can't take it anymore; there's a strange sound in his ears, a keening, helpless sort of sound that usually only comes from wounded animals. He chokes a bit, realizing the noise came from him, and he sobs, his hands gripping onto the Sniper's forearms like he's the only thing keeping him grounded in the room. He lets out another sob and could swear it's the most pathetic thing he's ever done in his entire life; its broken and helpless and he can't keep it together anymore. He'd been trying so hard to hold himself together for everyone, hold himself together to keep his team together, and he couldn't do it anymore.
The hands on the sides of his face are gentle, if a little shaky, and he can hear Cougar saying his name over and over again but it sound so incredibly far away. He tries to draw in a deep breath, realizes he still can't, and his grip tightens instinctively on Cougar's forearms.
"Jake…" There's Cougar's voice again far away and muffled, like he's speaking through a pillow. "Jake…" Jensen could listen to him talk all day, that deep, comforting voice he only used when they were alone. It almost made things better. "Jake, breathe!"
Jensen shakes his head, slightly confused at the demand but he realizes he hasn't taken a deep breath in over five minutes and he's beginning to hyperventilate. His lungs are pulling in air much too fast and not holding onto it long enough to do any good. But now he can't stop, his body had reached the panic point and he can't convince himself to regulate his breathing enough to stop the damage that's already been done.
"Cougs…" He gasps, shaking his head in a mixture of panic and desperation. "I can't…" Talking is an effort and he wonders how much longer this can continue before he's so oxygen deprived he passes out. He wonders if those kids passed out from pain before they died…
Cougar pries one of Jensen's hands from his forearm and grips it tightly, moving it and pressing it flat against his chest and taking a slow deep breath so the younger man can feel it. Jensen had been prone to panic attacks when he'd first joined the team and Cougar was usually the only one who could calm him down when he was in the throes of one. "Jake…" Cougar said, keeping his voice as gentle and steady as he could even though he was beginning to panic as well. "Take a deep breath…like me." He took another breath to emphasize his point.
Jensen's gasping lessened just a bit and his hand gripped tightly into Cougar's shirt as he tried to draw in an deep, even breath. It took a couple of tries but he finally managed to take a deep enough breath that his body didn't feel like it was about to go into a temporary shut down (ie. black out). The Sniper's other hand was halfway between cupping his face and his neck and Jensen could feel his pulse racing against Cougar's palm. This had happened before a few times but never this bad. He kept his fist tangled in the older man's shirt, feeling him breathe and willing his body to do the same. It took a good five minutes before Jensen was finally able to breathe on his own and convince the rest of his body that he wasn't about to drown in a dry room.
The tears were still falling though, he was unable to stop them, and he dragged his free hands across his eyes uselessly. He was shaking all over and he vaguely wondered if he was having a seizure. Cougar's hands stayed on him though, anchoring him to the real world and keeping him from fading back into the black recesses of his mind. "I'm sorry…" He mumbled and he wasn't sure if he was apologizing to Cougar or to the kids or to everything really. "I'm so fucking sorry…"
Cougar didn't say a word, he simply gathered Jensen into his arms like he was a broken porcelain doll and cradles him in his lap. Jensen is still gripping his shirt weakly, the way a child would after a nightmare, and Cougar closes his eyes, breathing in the familiar scent of the man next to him. He knew Jensen was trying to be strong for all of them, trying to keep their spirits up even when the world was crashing down around them. He knew the younger man was trying to put up a good front and get them all back on their feet after the chopper crash. He also knew that inside, it was killing Jensen just like the rest of them. He didn't want to show it though, someone needed to be the glue to hold them all together and Jensen had taken it upon himself to do that. He'd kept his walls up even while the rest of them let their's crumble down. He'd been strong when the others weren't and he was picking up the broken pieces of all of them. But even the strongest of walls can fall eventually and Jensen's had finally reached their breaking point.
He kept his arms wrapped around the trembling blond in his lap, drawing nonsensical patterns into his back and whispering the words of a Spanish lullaby his mother used to sing to him. He doubted Jensen understood anything he was saying but he'd once made it point to let Cougar know that he liked it when the Sniper spoke in Spanish (even if he couldn't understand a word of it) so Cougar reserved it for the rare moments when they were alone and not in the middle of a mission.
Jensen's breathing hitched a bit and shifted into a more even pattern and Cougar figured he'd fallen asleep. He didn't dare move, for fear of waking the younger man up, so instead he simply pressed his back into the wall and tilted his head back, the cool tiles tipping his hat forward a bit. Cougar didn't bother adjusting it, it blocked some of the light from his eyes and made it easier to relax. He could feel the younger man breathing against him, slow and even, vastly different than the panicked and shallow rhythm it had been earlier.
It was time to move on, time to pick up and start again, and they needed each other now more than ever. It hadn't been fair to let Jensen hold his own in all of this and Cougar was determined to help piece him back together the way he'd been doing for all of them. Their walls may have crumbled but they weren't broken beyond repair yet.
Sorry about that O.o Poor Jensen...Hope y'all liked it! ^.-