Covered In Sin
Warnings: Nothing explicit, but there is slash and swearing.
Author: Lily Zen
Notes: Written for the "sweat" challenge on losers_pwn.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Nobody really knows it, but Cougar hates sweat.
The stench, the sodden, slick mess it makes of his hair and skin and clothes…
He hates the look of it, shiny and beading on his skin and on others; loathes the way it feels sliding down his body from head to neck, disappearing underneath his shirt. It's disgusting how it can just spring up out of nowhere, sprouting out of his armpits, between his thighs, on his back and running down into his ass-crack.
It makes his throat tighten up like it does just before he's going to puke. His nose tries urgently to crawl off his face. Every part of him rebels and it takes an absurd amount of will-power just to fuckin' hold still until the sensation passes, which usually isn't until he can clean up somehow. Doesn't matter how. Shower, bath, semi-clean rag doused with questionable river water. So long as it wicks the moisture off of him, he doesn't care.
Sometimes when he's laying on his belly up in the nest, it's all he can do not to grow distracted with his personal distaste for perspiration. Especially when the sun is beating down on him for agonizingly long moments at a crack, and the salty discharge is oozing from his pores, fucking up yet another shirt. It's then he draws on things he learned back when he was doing his first round of sniper training, how to put up walls in his mind, to block things out so that all he sees is what's right in front of him, what's coming through that scope. Cougar ceases to have a 'body' then. He becomes part of the machine; the rifle is not an extension of him, he is of it, just another piece like the bolt or the muzzle or the forestock.
It's easy to ignore the river of sweat—there's that tightness in the esophagus again, and maybe a little ripple that might have been mistaken for a shudder if anyone was paying attention—forging a path down his face when he pretends he doesn't have a body anymore. There's a delta near his temple and the banks of the river must be flooding because this is no neat, singular line. It's dripping off his chin in a stuttering waterfall and splashing onto the pavement. Fuck, that's nasty.
Focus. Eye on the prize. Cog in the machine.
I am not a human being.
Breathe—in and out—hold it. Flex.
He barely feels the recoil because he is one with the weapon, he is flying down the barrel at an incredible rate of speed and burrowing through the target's head, ripping his brain apart, splattering him all over the wall.
Whatever he is, wherever he is, Cougar is most definitely not sweating.
A tinny voice in his ear tells him to move, and Cougar springs up into a defensive crouch, moving swiftly.
He wipes his palms on his pants as he runs, cursing anxiety and sun and human biology.
Everyone smells. The van reeks and Cougar discreetly breathes through his mouth, fighting against the churning in his gut. Sitting too close to him and chattering directly in his ear is Jensen, but Cougar doesn't move. Can't. Jensen's perceptive and he would pick up on it, and then Cougar would have to explain that the smell of his sopping wet skin makes his innards shift to the right to get as far away from him as possible. Because Jensen is surprisingly sensitive, that would hurt his feelings and then Cougar would feel bad.
Aisha is leaning over the arm of the passenger seat, getting in Pooch's face about something. Cougar can't focus on the words. All he sees is the glistening on her neck and the dark patch where it disappears into her hairline, and wants to gag. Under normal circumstances, he'd be focusing more on the fact that the puta loca is sitting there in nothing but a sports bra clinging to her so tightly that he can see her nipples are hard. Figures that violence gets her off.
Clay is looking at her nipples, unlike Cougar, who thinks he's probably missing a damn fine show, and wiping his damp forehead on the sleeve of his shirt. Gross.
Jensen is still talking and Cougar is infinitely glad that he doesn't have to actively participate in a conversation with the team's baby brother in order to have one. He knows this is just how Jensen burns off the post-battle exaltation. Clay and Aisha fuck, Pooch finds some sort of project to work on, Cougar daydreams about Waterpik showerheads, clean towels, and soap.
He's the first one out of the van and into the safe house, and drops his rifle on the mattress he's sleeping on. There aren't enough rooms in this place, much less beds, so he's sharing with Jensen, who only sleeps in a bed one night out of three and when he does, clings like a limpet regardless of how often Cougar tries to gently disentangle them. The hacker doesn't sweat in his sleep though, which is what makes this whole situation tolerable. It's weird, but it's like his body temperature drops at night.
Cougar's got his bathing kit and clean clothes piled in his arms, and he's halfway back down the hall, heading for the bathroom, when the rest of the team announces their presence with loud chatter and post-op recaps that nobody really needs because they were all there. He ignores them and shuts the door. There's no lock. Hell, there's no doorknob, just an empty cut-out where it begged to be filled.
Dirty clothes discarded, he steps into the shower before it's completely warmed up.
Adios, salty secretions. Hola, sweet-smelling (but still totally manly, as Jensen would say) soap. He loves this stuff. Found it at a small shop a few towns ago and stocked up. Sage, sweetgrass, and cedar. Nicer than Irish Spring, for sure. The door creaks open and someone comes in.
Jensen, of course.
That's all it takes and Cougar knows that Jensen is tossing his clothing on top of Cougar's on the floor. He doesn't hear it over the pounding sound of the showerhead, but he feels it in his bones. It's the work of a moment and then Jensen is stepping behind the curtain with him.
Stepping back, he lets Jensen have the full force of the spray, lets Jensen wash away the stink of his own misdeeds. Neither of them says anything. It's not unusual, this practice, hasn't been for some time. In the military, modesty doesn't exist or at least it isn't catered to. They aren't military anymore—probably the only reason that Clay never says a word about this even though it goes on right where he can see it—but old habits die hard.
They don't touch and Cougar doesn't watch as Jensen's hands take the soap from him and lather up on the threadbare washcloth that he packed the last time they were allowed to go home.
This isn't a sex thing.
It's cleansing, purification. They both need it, particularly after they've coated their bodies in mud, blood, and…he's not going to say it, he's going to stop fixating on it right this second. It would be stupid and embarrassing to vomit now after it's been washed away.
Cougar grabs the trial size bottle of shampoo plus conditioner and dumps most of the remaining contents into his hand.
Later on, after they're clean, fresh, new… After Jensen has exhausted his mind doing incomprehensible things on his computer, let his guilt chase itself in circles and burn away; after Jensen finally caves and crawls into bed and clings like a limpet, then it will be about sex. Reaffirming life, laying waste to regret, the sweat between them a clean thing, a sweet thing free of fear, pain, and rage.
Cougar steps out first after Jensen moves so that he can rinse his hair. He walks down the hall with their soiled clothes in his arms and a towel wrapped around his waist. Clay and Aisha are fucking, loud and angry, the sounds unable to be stifled by the thin walls and hollow-core doors. Pooch is nowhere to be seen. He's probably stepped out into the garage.
The dirty fabrics are tossed in a pile near the open closet. Tomorrow, he'll do the laundry and erase the rest of the evidence.
Tonight, he pulls on cut-off sweats and lets his body (he has a body now, is not a machine, but it still feels uncertain like he hasn't quite settled back into his skin yet; Jensen will call him back the rest of the way with clever fingers and demanding tongue, push and mold his soul back into his body where it belongs) collapse on the mattress. He drifts and the sound of the clacking keyboard lulls him into the gray world where he simply exists.
Finally, there is movement next to him and his eyelids flutter open then closed. Sometimes it's better if it is more dream than reality. The day ends as it began, slick and wet, only he doesn't mind it so much anymore. Jensen smells sweet and good, the hands calling forth such warmth from his nerve endings gliding over his muscles are right, and in the final moments where liquid fire pools in his belly and liquid slides down his ass-crack and liquid shoots from his dick? Nothing was ever loved more.