This is the finale. I hope you liked the story. Liked it, hated it? Let me know. Who knows what inspires people to write... but I do know that hearing from others encourages us to do more.
Final Disclaimer: This story is not meant to infringe, contest or otherwise deny WB/DC/Vertigo or any of the rigths holders of the Losers copyright. I just like the characters and want to see them in action.
Thanks again Aislinn and Alex without whom I would have just written the first scene and gone back to bed.
And thanks to those of you who left comments. They really do help and it means our work hasn't been in vain. Originally this ending was about half it's current size but as I was thinking about it, I realized ther was a lot more that needed to be explained so.. you all get the enhanced ending.
Please note: I used to speak Spanish, but it has been a very long time. I've forgotten my tenses and a lot of vocab (and a lot of it has been replaced by Arabic... )so.. apologies in advance... if you need a translation as to what was said (or what I think was said) please let me know. I tried to keep it to a minimum
They ate and slept in shifts- splitting their time between caring for the injured members of their team and guarding their home.
It took them three days before they actually followed Aisha's suggestion that they move Jensen and Cougar into the same room, but that was only after Jensen had managed to slip past Clay as he dozed in the chair next to his bed and literally crawled into Cougar's room.
They found him the next day asleep on the floor under Cougar's bed. No one was surprised that he felt safer with Cougar than anyone else- but what broke their hearts was the fact that he refused to come out. It wasn't until Cougar, with help from Clay and Pooch, had lowered himself to the ground and crawled in after him that they managed to even get through to him.
"Jensen. Diga me!... what is wrong?" He was hurting, but what pained him more was his friend's current state. "Jake... please... you're scaring me..."
His voice was firm yet gentle, and he really didn't care if anyone else heard him. His brother was lost and it was up to him to bring him home.
"Don't... want them ... coming back."
Jensen's voice was soft, almost childlike.
Cougar grimaced at the sound. The others may understand how the drugs that had been used on them worked, stripping them of their self control, leaving them unteathered... unhinged , but those were just words; concepts really. Only he and Jensen really knew what that felt like to have everything that meant anything to them stripped away. He knew what it did to him, and he could see what it had done, was still doing to Jensen.
"They cannot come back," Cougar assured him.
Jensen opened his eyes, uncurling slightly. He looked into Cougar's eyes questioningly, not daring to hope.
Cougar gave him a simple nod. It was done.
Jensen relaxed and then looked around suddenly becoming aware of his surroundings. "I'm never going to live this down am I?"
Cougar chuckled and rolled his eyes as if to say 'of course' but his expression relaxed. The danger had passed for now.
It very quickly became apparent that while the chemicals had left their systems their minds would take longer to heal. Cougar's nightmares had become almost constant, and only Jensen seemed to be able to guide him away from them without waking him up.
Clay knew he'd have to watch these two when he actually caught one of the things Jensen said to get Cougar to stop dreaming: 'Cougs... keep an eye on Clay and let me know if he's coming' to which Cougar simply nodded and rolled over.
Even when they were both dead to the world, they seemed to sleep better in the same room. It was as if the familiar sounds and scents let them know on the subconscious level that everyone was there and everyone was alive.
On the fourth day, Clay set up a heavy bag in the lower level, and he and Pooch had taken turns venting on it. The only one who seemed unaffected by the whole incident was Aisha. It wasn't until the fifth day when she completely destroyed the heavy bag that Clay and Pooch realized just how much it had bothered her.
An out and out fight was one thing- torturing someone to death was something else entirely and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that that was exactly what Roberts' people intended to do- had almost done.
The following few days were a haze as Jensen and Cougar both slept off the after affects of the poison. Their friends made a silent pact not to discuss what either man said in the fits of hallucinations and bad memories... although each was tempted.
Some of them were inane enough, some would get a raised eyebrow, like when Jensen requested a sponge bath, or when Cougar managed to find his sniper rifle and curled up around it. Others broke their hearts.
Clay had known that Cougar still had nightmares about the chopper, but he hadn't realized that Jensen had them too, and while less frequent his were far worse. The first time they hit he was at a loss. Nothing that worked for Cougar seemed to work on Jensen. He just sat there staring into nothingness, a look of abject horror on his face.
Clay had tried rousting him using anything from soothing words to barked orders but Jensen simply sat there staring, his breathing becoming more and more erratic.
He was startled when Cougar called to him. "How long?"
Clay looked at him and realized the man had known about Jensen's nightmares just as Jensen had known about his. "A few minutes. What do I do?"
Cougar gave him a sleepy nod. "Help me up... "
With Clay's help Cougar slipped behind the younger man and held him to his chest. He rocked Jensen slightly and began to sing a lullaby in Spanish. His voice was soft yet rich as he sang, and it seemed to help a little, but Jensen didn't really start relaxing until Cougar began the second verse.
The first verse spoke of longing and peace, it spoke of contentment and the loving arms of family, and Clay found himself drifting off until odd lyrics in the second verse made him sit up and listen. He didn't understand all the words, but he knew something was up when the song spoke of Godzilla 'dancing' to Barry White and the heartbreak of bad code. The second verse had been written specifically for Jensen.
As Jake's expression slackened and he drifted back to sleep, Cougar kissed him on the head. "Estas seguro mi hermano. Estas seguro"
Once he was sure Jake was asleep, Clay offered to help set him back down, but Cougar shook his head. "Let him be..."
Clay nodded, realizing they both needed to know the other was there. As Cougar drifted off, Clay knew his men, his friends... would be all right.
A week later the after affects were fewer and far between. Jensen still couldn't sleep alone and Cougar showed no signs of wanting to move his bed back into his own room, but both of them were improving.
Clay was relieved when Cougar finally put himself back on the roster. Having another person to split shifts between eased the burden on the others.
Still the first night he knew Pooch and Aisha would be watching over him, helping him ease himself back into the routine.
Clay opted to stay with Jensen, who was still a bit rough.
"Clay?" Jenson's voice was stronger but there was something worrisome in the tone.
"What do you remember?" He knew better than to tell Jensen anything, knowing they'd get a better full picture if they gave him time to remember what he could.
"I went in... there was mention of another file. Remote server in the building. Physical access only... I uploaded the information I had, then went to check on the server..."
His eyes widened slightly as he spoke, almost panicking as he looked up at Clay. "They were... they were looking for Max."
"And instead they got us."
"Got me..." Jensen corrected in a glum tone.
Clay nodded solemnly. They'd almost killed two of his men- and they weren't even the intended target.
There was a long silence as Jensen processed what he remembered and what Clay had told him. He ran a hand through his hair, thankful for Clay's hand on his shoulder.
After a few minutes he focused on Clay. "What happened to Cougar? He wasn't in the building when I escaped... and then... He didn't come in after me did he?"
Clay didn't want to do this. This was something he as commander would discuss with Cougar later, Jensen did not need the guilt associated with what had happened.
He closed his eyes for a moment and then met Jensen's questioning gaze. "They picked him up a day later when we were looking for you... "
"They picked... he let them didn't he?"
Clay tried to deny it, but Jensen could see it in his eyes. He winced when he saw Jensen draw a deep breath and yell for Cougar.
Cougar had settled down in front of the monitors after he'd taken a slow stroll through the warehouse. Though he was tired, it felt good to be doing something so... normal.
He smiled and nodded towards the figure sitting in the shadows, watching over him as he took his first shift, his finger tracing the brim of his hat in salute.
He didn't know which of his friends had saved it for him, but he was grateful: grateful for them, for their loyalty; grateful that they'd been able to find him and grateful that somehow beyond all odds, Jensen was safe as well.
He had just started to relax when he heard Jensen's call. He moved without thinking, barging into the room, gun in hand, unsure what he would find.
"I'll let you two work this out," Clay said as he stood, took Cougar's gun and left.
There was no missing the amused smile on their leader's face.
Cougar waited until Clay had closed the door behind him and sat on the edge of his bed. Concern shown in his eyes as he looked his friend over. "Jensen?"
Jensen felt as if his world had been pulled out from under him again. Up until the moment he'd seen Clay's expression he simply thought... what? That Cougar would be in this bad of shape just because he'd been stupid enough to get himself caught and drugged up on truth serum from hell?
He stared at Cougar as he sat down in front of him. He wasn't exactly sure when or how he'd gotten there, but he was glad he was, and he was glad that Clay had vacated his seat. This was... personal.
"Jensen, please... what is wrong?"
"What's wrong?" he asked as he swung his feet over the edge of his bed so he was sitting up, so they could face each other. "What's wrong?"
He could see the moment Cougar realized what was going on- he saw the slight panic in his friend's eyes, the way they shifted to the side as if he was evaluating an escape plan.
"You... you... let them... do this..."
Cougar closed his eyes. "Jensen, you're my best friend... I couldn't just... let them take you from me..."
Jensen shook his head in frustration as Cougar avoided his gaze.
"Cougar... Cougs!" His yells only made the sniper flinch and turn further away. "Carlos..." he called, lowering his voice. "Carlos, mirame... por favor...look at me..."
He watched as Carlos swallowed and finally met his gaze. " Buscabamos para tu , pero no te encontramos..."
He knew by Cougar's response just how stressed he really was. 'We were looking for you, but we couldn't find you...' He bit his lip as he thought about what to say in response, but Cougar continued.
"Encontraron me, Jake. They found me... I... I was going to let them take me... see what I could find... but they moved too fast.."
Jensen shook his head. He was near tears as he reached and embraced his friend. "Promise me... please... Carlos... don't ever do that again... "
He felt Cougar sigh into his shoulder and shake his head. "I will always look for you, mi hermano. Siempre."
Jake sighed. He was both honored by his friend's nobility and scared by it. He wanted more than anything for his friend, his brother to be safe- but the reality was... it was not a safe world, and it was this kind of stupidity that had kept them all alive.
The first night Jensen sat watch, Cougar watched with him. They sat together in comfortable silence until Jensen finally broke.
"Do you know those bastards tainted their data? They actually thought they'd catch me..."
Cougar looked at him and shook his head in disbelief. "They did catch you Jensen..."
"Yeah you're right... but... dammit, they tried to mess with my hardware."
"They did mess with your hardware..." Cougar said tapping the younger man's head.
Jensen thought for a moment and shrugged. "Guess you're right."
Cougar pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to Jensen. "I need to ask you about this..."
Jensen looked at the bracelet and nodded. "I was in the psych ward," he admitted. "Probably saved my life... there was this doctor there... oh, she was smokin' hot... wouldn't give up on me- actually figured out about the implant before it killed me... if she hadn't..."
The look Cougar gave him made Jensen stop in mid sentence. "What?"
Cougar shook his head, pointed to the name on the bracelet and gave Jensen a raised eyebrow.
Jensen blushed. "Man... you know I was stoned right? I vaguely remember them asking me my name... and I told them 'Jake Jensen'... at least I tried to... I just... I think I may have asked about you since you were watching over me... but... I don't know... geeze. How much do you remember from when you were hyped up on that stuff?"
Cougar chuckled at his friend's embarrassment, but at his last question, his expression grew somber. "Everything," he said softly. "Yo requerdo todos."
Cougar was quiet for a long time before he spoke again.
"I killed you..."
Jake saw the loss in his friend's eyes and shook his head. He placed a hand on either of Cougar's shoulders forcing his friend to look into his eyes. "Didn't happen...it wasn't real"
"For me it was... very real..."
Jake closed his eyes and pulled Cougar close. "I thought I'd lost you... lost everyone... but that's the way the drugs worked. They killed us.. but we're still here. We good?"
"Creo que si."
"Bien." Jake said with a final nod as if that said it all.