Intrinsically Wrong, The Aftermath of An Explosion
Warnings: references to m/m relations, cussing,
Author: Lily Zen
Notes: I think maybe I'm a little sad. So I wrote this. I am very sorry for making Jensen so damn angsty. Oh, yeah, and this is comic-verse only. No movie. Just comics.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
There was something wrong with a world where there was no Cougar.
At least, that's how Jensen felt about it.
Sure, sometimes he missed Clay, but not the Clay who'd died taking down Max. He didn't really know that guy. That man, that former lieutenant-colonel, was nothing more than the dark doppelganger of a man that he had liked, respected, worked with for years. The real Clay died in Afghanistan. Every step he took after that moment was just to bring him to his graveside.
Hell, sometimes Jensen missed Roque too. Again, time had played its tricks on Jensen once more and change had wrought in a man that he'd once admired and trusted to watch his back in any given situation. For all intents and purposes, the Roque who'd been his SIC had also died in the mountains alongside Clay. It was easier to think of them like that than remember the twisted people they'd become. Parodies of men he'd called his friends.
But the person he missed the most out of all of them was Cougar.
Cougar, with his dry humor and naughty-kid grins. Cougar, who was his guardian angel on high, his rifle-wielding redeemer. Cougar, his friend and ally, the true north on his compass, the butter on his popcorn, his silent supporter; his everything. Cougar was his everything.
And now he was gone.
It was on nights like this that he missed Cougar the most. The air was hot and heady, pulsing with energy even at two in the morning. He could hear some kind of party going on in the courtyard next door, music and merry-making. Cougar would have loved it. He'd always liked a good party. Not that anybody would have guessed much towards the end. After Afghanistan, Cougar had entered a period of mourning unlike any Jensen had witnessed before. He'd fallen apart, fallen somewhere so deep inside himself that the only thing that was ever going to bring him out of it was time.
Jensen had known the process had begun before they ever set foot on that god-forsaken island.
Cougar was ready to move on, to close this chapter of his life and start searching for something better than revenge. He'd come to Jensen after his decisive announcement that this was the last time, the last mission that Carlos 'Cougar' Alvarez was undertaking. Then he, like Pooch, was returning home because the pursuit of justice, of vengeance, had left him with nothing but a scarred heart and an empty bed. He had come back to Jensen and they had made love for the first time in almost two years. They had reconnected, finally, as he had been hoping and praying for.
And then he was dead, and Jensen was more alone than he'd ever been in his life.
No time for nothing more than a hug goodbye, all of their unspoken feelings hopefully conveyed in the brief, desperate clasp of arms around each other.
There's nothing quite like losing the undeclared love of your life not once, but twice, and the second time just so recently after reuniting.
Jensen wandered around in a daze for months, hardly aware of what he was doing. He drifted towards cold places because the heat reminded him of Carlos. It gave him horrible nightmares, remembering the way Cougar had always touched with hands that were warm and dry, exempting the first time they'd been together. The very first time, Cougar's palms were sweaty with nerves. It was the only time Jensen had ever seen him anxious about anything. Of course, he had good reason: they were both soldiers, both men, both co-workers. Later on though, he remembered Cougar saying he hadn't been thinking about any of those things at all: he had been worried that Jensen was going to pull back and say it was all a mistake.
Sometimes he dreamt of those times with Cougar and woke up crying. Other times he woke up screaming when the dreams went sour and he ended up with his arms around a corpse. So, no more heat. When it was cold, Jensen didn't dream as often, and he wanted to be as cold on the outside as he was inside.
After he met up with Pooch a year later, Jensen impulsively took a plane to Mazatlan. Cougar's favorite spot.
He'd gone with Cougar a few times on leave back when they were in the service. They kept their affair on the down low, kept it strictly business while they were on base, because neither one of them wanted to lose their career. Besides it wasn't like Jensen was gay gay or that Cougar only liked dudes. They both liked women just fine, but sometimes…only a dick would do it. And if there was maybe something more to it, something softer and sweeter, something that neither one of them would ever actually have the balls to call 'love,' then that was between them.
But Jensen decided that he was ready to feel again. He didn't want to spend the rest of his days numbed up. Cougar would have had the strength to move on, so he felt it necessary to honor his dead lover's memory by endeavoring to do so himself. So he found himself in a little motel in Mazatlan, languishing in the heat and paying homage to his…his everything, laying the last of his regrets to rest. He indulged himself with fishing in the ocean and laying on the beach, and flirting outrageously with any bikini-clad coed dumb enough to give him a second glance. He drank a lot of tequila and sometimes he threw up, and he partied and danced all night until his legs felt like jello.
Then he indulged himself with one last thing before his flight out the next morning: a swarthy Hispanic lover of the male persuasion. The man was younger than Cougar had been, his face narrower. He didn't quite have the rugged good looks of the former sniper, but rather something more delicate and refined. Still, there were enough similarities that Jensen could fool himself, could give himself this one last night, this one last goodbye with the man who'd meant the world to him. Wide mouth, thinner lips, well-groomed facial hair (Cougar was a meticulous sort when he'd had the time to do so), and long hair pulled back into a ponytail. Of course, the hair was a little curlier than Carlos', the humidity pulling it into tight spirals. Still, they had the same ever-present tan all over (and he totally meant all over), and a similar build.
It was enough.
It had to be enough, because the real Cougar was dead and gone. It was too late to touch him like this, running a hand through his loose hair and down his spine; too late to wake him up with gentle kisses when the loneliness got to be too much and Jensen reached for him in the middle of the night; too late to tell him how he felt without feeling like an ass.
He used to think that it was one level of gayness to enjoy fucking another man, and another to be in love with one, and Jensen totally wasn't gay enough for that. Except now Jensen knew that had been the fear talking and he was moron, and now he'd never get to look Cougar in the eyes and say to him, 'I love you. I love you more than anything. More than the sun or the moon, more than any computer ever, more than air or food or star-shaped sunglasses, even more than inappropriate humor. I love you more than any program I've ever written, any system I've ever hacked. I love you, Carlos.'
He would never wait in breathless anticipation for Cougar's response to his declaration.
So Jensen gave himself this one night with a substitute to say goodbye to those things, and finally prepared for living in a world without Cougar, a world where something was horribly wrong. A world where there was nothing he could do to fix it. Nothing to hack, no one to shoot, not a single order to fulfill.
…Nothing except making sure a certain sheik got what was coming to him for setting them up in the first place.
As Jacob Jensen made love with an anonymous lover in the middle of the night, half a world away a sheik was taken into custody by local authorities with evidence provided by an anonymous informant. He was charged with committing several acts of treason and terrorism, murder, embezzlement… Pretty much anything Jensen could dig up any dirt on at all. Oh, okay, maybe he'd set him up for embezzlement all on his own, but whatever…the guy totally deserved it.
When he came muffling Cougar's name in the pillow, it was with a sense of relief. Oh, he was still sad. He would probably always be sad about Cougar, would regret the love he'd taken for granted thanks to his own cowardice. But at least Jensen could live with himself now knowing that he'd done everything in his power to see that the people responsible for so many lives lost, such unnecessary waste, were brought to justice. The guilt he carried was lessened with that knowledge.
And if he ever found out that scheming bitch, Aisha, had somehow survived, he was going to make sure she died a horrible death too. Just like his love, one Sergeant Carlos 'Cougar' Alvarez, had borne in order to ensure the safety of the world. Except Cougar was a hero; Aisha would just be another dead terrorist.