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The Rabbit Test

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Day 0

Jensen's kisses were rough, needy, beard scratching against Cougar's skin as he worked his way down, tongue lapping long strokes up his neck, breath hot and heavy against Cougar's jawline.

"Christ, Cougs," Jensen muttered against his skin. "You're so fucking hot..." He rested his hand against the burning heart tattoo on his chest, and Cougar's heart leapt in response, his arms pulling Jensen on top of him, pulling Jensen's face back up to kiss him.

Jensen moaned and thrust against him, his rock-hard cock pressing against Cougar's thigh even through two layers of jeans and boxers. He undid the button on Jensen's fly and slowly pulled the zip down, slipping a hand inside.

"Fuck, God, Cougs..." Jensen murmured as his mouth slid down towards a nipple, taking it into his mouth and sucking it into hardness. Cougar moaned at this, a soft breathy moan, and bucked up against Jensen, trying to angle him between his legs, hand sliding against Jensen's cock even as he shifted and writhed underneath him, trying to pull him closer.

Jensen pulled away for an agonizing second, just enough to shove down his boxers and jeans and unzip and yank down Cougar's jeans and boxers as well. Cougar wriggled his way out of them, gasping as Jensen's hands and mouth returned to his chest, then wrapped his legs around Jensen's body, pulling him back to him.

Jensen's right hand slid between them, down Cougar's stomach to between his legs. Cougar was wet and ready for him, clit throbbing, pussy soaked. Jensen's finger slid between his lips, delicately circling around his clit, while he sucked and kissed his breasts. "Do you feel that, Cougs?" Jensen whispered against his tattoo. "Do you feel how wet you are for me? Fuck, it's so hot down here...can't wait to make you come..."

Cougar moaned again and thrust up against his fingers, trying to get something inside, no matter how strange it still felt. "Please..." Cougar whispered, legs pulling Jensen closer.

Jensen moved his fingers and readied his cock, holding it as he slowly pushed it inside. His thumb rested against Cougar's clit, and as he began to move inside, Cougar's hips involuntarily shook, grinding his clit against Jensen's thumb, pulling Jensen in deeper and deeper. It started a slow rolling sensation over him, wave after wave of clenching and shuddering and white-hot pleasure causing Cougar to groan and grab at Jensen's arms, pulling him close for a kiss.

Jensen broke the kiss to moan, breathy and hot, and swore against Cougar's skin as he jerked and thrust into him, coming hard even as Cougar contracted and fluttered around him. He slumped, breathing hard against Cougar's breasts, as Cougar held him tightly.

 

Day -97

The footage was only a minute long. It was grainy, cheap, a discount webcam pointed out towards the skyline so that people all over the Internet could check the weather.

The man lying on top of a roof in the bottom right corner was barely visible — a faint smudge of color against a dull white rooftop. He could be a just a dropcloth or something similar that was left behind, if it wasn't for what happened.

There was a bright flash of light on the rooftop — searing out the camera, all definition and colour lost in a blinding flash of white. When it finally faded, the man was still on the roof, but he was on his back now, writhing in agony as his body...changed.

There was no other way to describe it. He changed. His hips flared, his shirt stretched with sudden development, his body turned, changed, transformed in a way that should never have happened — not to someone against his will, not so quickly.

He laid there on the roof, unconscious, breasts rising and falling with each breath.

 

Day 43

Jensen first blamed it on a hangover, but he'd never seen Cougar get a hangover. Then maybe it was food poisoning, but Cougar had a cast-iron stomach, and, besides, everything he ate, Jensen had been eating, and he was fine.

He could hear the puking and winced, pulling a pillow over his head.

There was a brief pause, where the toilet flushed and the tap ran, then, suddenly, there was a thump as knees hit the bathroom tiles again, and there was more retching.

Jensen lifted the pillow. "You okay?" he said towards the bathroom.

The toilet flushed and the tap ran again, and Cougar appeared in the doorway, pale and shivering.

Jensen sat up in the bed. "Better?"

Cougar shook his head, which made him grab the door frame for support before turning around and leaning over the toilet again.

Jensen frowned and rolled over on the bed, grabbing his jeans. "Man, the last time I saw someone puke that much, it was Becky's morning sickness..." He pulled them on and stretched. "You want anything from the kitchen?"

Cougar swallowed nervously as he carefully lifted himself up and clutched at the sink. "No," he finally said, his voice rough. He rested his head against the cool glass of the bathroom mirror, and breathed slowly.

"You should've seen her," he can hear Jensen say from the hallway. "24-7 nausea, barely holding down crackers and ginger ale..." He came back in the room with a plate of leftover pizza. "I ended up leaving buckets all around the house. Just in case." He leaned in the bathroom doorway and held up a slice. "You want one?"

Cougar looked at the pizza, then rushed for the toilet again.

Jensen crinkled his nose. "I think I need to get some buckets." He looked at the pizza, sighed, and tossed it in the trash.

 

Day 72

Cougar knew something was wrong the second he walked into the kitchen, rifle slung behind his back. He had spent another day at the rifle range, focusing on hitting targets rather than thinking about — no, not that — and had expected to come back to an argument, not this cheerfulness.

Jensen was practically glowing, a huge grin on his face, and everyone else looked like they were about to burst as well. It made Cougar straighten his shoulders, eyes narrowing as he looked at them.

"What?" he said warily.

"We found it," Aisha said. Even she looked like she might actually be happy, a real smile on her face versus the usual slightly sarcastic smirk.

Cougar felt his stomach drop, settling somewhere near his hips, near where he thought — no, he was not thinking about that. "Found what?" he said, his voice low, quiet, gravelly.

"The weapon!" Jensen said, nearly shouting in delight. "The thing that turned you..." He waved his hand towards Cougar's body. "We can get it and turn you back!"

"A little heist, a little laser action, and you'll have little Cougar back," Pooch said, grinning widely.

Cougar looked at all of them, at their hopeful expressions, their smiles, their optimism, and his stomach plummeted further. He turned, not saying a word, and walked out the door.

 

Day 74

The clinic was the kind that took all sorts of people. The doctor didn't even blink when she saw the name "Carlos Alvarez" on the form and the sullen woman sitting on the examining table. A pair of men's jeans, boxers and a t-shirt were neatly folded on the chair, a leather cowboy hat resting on top and a pair of heavy-duty boots underneath. She could see the lines of a sports bra underneath the gown, pressing her breasts down tightly to her body.

"So, Mister Alvarez," she said, and noted the way the woman looked up sharply, then suddenly relaxed. "Are you on any medication?"

She shook her head, hair hanging low in her face.

"Anything? Testosterone injections, patches, creams, anything like that?"

"No," she said, and her voice was soft, quiet, barely audible.

She nodded, debating on asking further questions, then sighed slightly. "Right then." She held up her chart. "The test confirmed it, by the way. You are pregnant."

Alvarez clenched her hands tightly, not saying a word.

"If we do an ultrasound, we can determine how far along you are, which will give us an idea as to your options." She gestured towards the machine. "Is that okay?"

She nodded, once, sharply, and she moved towards the machine.

Her eyes were closed the entire time, and even though the doctor was as gentle as possible, the woman flinched hard when she inserted the wand. She noted her reaction, eyes narrowing, but instead of saying something immediately, looked towards the monitor. "Mm-hmm..." she said, studying it. "Based on the length, we're looking at approximately 10 weeks along..." She removed the wand and turned away to give her a moment for privacy.

When she turned back, Alvarez was looking at the monitor, frowning as it replayed the image. "There are two movements," she said, gesturing towards the shapes.

The doctor nodded. "There are..." She paused for a second, studying her. "There are two embryos."

Alvarez swallowed, closing her eyes, her face suddenly pale.

She looked at the woman critically, noting the scars and the frightened but angry expression on her face. "Mister Alvarez..." she said, her voice soothing but firm. "If this pregnancy was the result of being forced—"

"No," the woman said, eyes snapping open angrily, her voice suddenly fierce. As she took a step back in surprise, Alvarez breathed slowly, calming herself. "No, it wasn't..."

The doctor nodded slowly. "Okay, then," she said. She wrote a few things down on the notes. "If you continue with this pregnancy, twins are at high risk for complications, especially identical twins such as these. You'll need to have a scan and check-up every four weeks until your 32nd week, where it'll be either biweekly or weekly, depending on the situation." She looked up at Alvarez. "And if you want to proceed with a termination, the front office can make an appointment. There is a waiting period in this state, and I'm legally obligated to recommend counselling before making the appointment."

Alvarez nodded, not really paying attention, her focus riveted to the monitor. "Can I..." She trailed off, taking a breath. "Can I have a copy of that?" she asked.

The doctor's eyebrows raised slightly in surprise, and she pressed the 'Print' button on the system. After printing, she handed the sheet of paper to Alvarez, who nodded.

"Thank you," she said to the doctor.

The doctor nodded, then looked back down. "Look," she said, crossing her arms across her chest. "I don't know your situation, but if you said no at any time..." She sighed. "You don't have to go through with this."

Alvarez nodded. "I know," she said, her voice low, quiet, muffled by her hair as she looked down at the print-out.

 

Day 74

Cougar returned to the house later that night, timing it so the team would be distracted, busy, not noticing him slipping back in.

Jensen stood on the front porch, arms crossed angrily, looking at him. "I was this close to sending out a search party," he said, his voice clipped.

Cougar shrugged and tried to push his way past him.

"Oh no you don't," Jensen said, blocking the door with an arm. "We give you the news you've been waiting for, and you just take off like that?"

Cougar glared up at him.

Jensen shook his head. "What the hell is going on in your head?" he said. "I thought you hated being..." His other hand waved towards Cougar's body.

Cougar slapped his hand away.

Jensen recoiled, staring at him, then turned away. "Fuck," he muttered under his breath. "All right, whatever." He sighed, looking out over the street. "You know," he said, still looking over the street. "I thought things had gotten better. Okay, yeah, you still have to wear a sports bra and it can be a bit of a bitch lining up the perfect shot, but I thought..." His voice trailed off and he sighed again. "I thought I had my Cougar back."

He sighed heavily and turned back towards Cougar. "You know none of this matters to me, right?" he said, his voice pained. "I don't care if you have a dick or a pussy or nothing or both or what-fucking-ever, I still fucking love you." He looked down, then up at Cougar's face. "And all this shit I do — all the shit we do — it's to get you back, to make you happy." He looked away again. "And I don't know what that even fucking is anymore."

Cougar closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, then reached into his pocket. He grasped the print-out and held it out to Jensen.

"What..." Jensen trailed off as he opened the print-out, his eyebrows rising as he looked at it. "Is that..." He pulled the print-out closer, stepping more into the light. "Are there..." He looked back at Cougar, eyes wide, mouth open in surprise. "Twins?"

Cougar didn't look up, but nodded once, curtly.

"Jesus..." Jensen looked back down at the print-out. "Did you know? When we told you?"

"Guessed."

"But I thought..." Jensen trailed off again and looked up at Cougar, panicked. "Jesus, Cougs, I'm so sorry. I should have...we shouldn't have..." He swallowed. "If I had thought..."

Cougar shook his head. "I didn't know either," he said.

Jensen nodded dazedly, eyes focused on the small forms on the print-out. "Um..." He swallowed. "Do you want me to go with you? To the clinic?"

Cougar looked up sharply. "You would do that?"

Jensen nodded. "Well, yeah. I mean," he chuckled, attempting for humor, but failing. "I'm the reason you're in this mess, right? And since that weapon's been tested only on you, we can't really subject..." He gestured vaguely towards Cougar's midsection. "...Others to it, so there's not really a choice, is there? Either you go to the clinic, or you're...y'know..."

"Embarazada."

"I don't know that it's anything to be embarrassed about..." At Cougar's exasperated look, Jensen smiled. "There's my Cougar," he said fondly. He paused for a second, looking down at the print-out, then looked back up at Cougar. "Whatever you decide, I'm with you all the way, you know that, right?" His eyes were serious behind his glasses.

Cougar nodded, then took the print-out from his hands. He looked at it for a few seconds, thumb resting along the fold, separating the two faint blobs on the paper, then looked up at Jensen. "I want this," he said, his voice barely louder than a whisper. "I want them."

Jensen's eyes were wide, shining, hopeful. "You do?"

Cougar nodded.

Jensen grinned and grabbed him, pulling him into a tight hug. "Oh Christ, Cougs, we're gonna have twins, we're gonna be parents, we...fuck!" He suddenly stopped and looked towards the door. "We're gonna have to tell Clay."

Cougar clapped him on the back sympathetically, then went inside the house.

 

Day 98

Something was definitely up with Jensen.

Pooch watched him suspiciously, noticing the way he kept on staring at Cougar, the look on his face.

They were obviously doing better, but something was definitely up.

Each time Clay asked "Is there anything else?" Jensen would open his mouth, look at Cougar, then say something random, like "lemurs purr like cats" or "Grover Cleveland was the only president to be married in the White House".

It seemed like typical Jensen, but Pooch kept on seeing that look — soft eyes and a faint smile, occasionally looking down and flat-out grinning.

He remembered doing that when Jo had told him about expecting LJ, but...

They wouldn't be that stupid, would they?

Jensen looked at Cougar, looked away with a faint smile, then said "Did you know that goldfish actually have a memory span of around six months?"

Shit. They would.

 

Day 104

Jensen looked at Cougar, swallowed, looked at the team, then sighed. "Um, okay, so..." He paused again. "You know how Cougs and I..." He waved his hand towards Cougar, and started again. "When a man and a man love each other very much...and I can totally tell you that now, 'cause we're not in the army anymore, are we?"

"Jensen," Clay said, already exasperated. "Just get on with it."

"Cougar's pregnant," Jensen blurted out.

Everyone stared at him.

"Um..." Jensen shrugged. "Sorry?"

Everyone continued to stare at him.

"Okay, seriously, you guys need to say something, because otherwise I'll keep babbling."

"Cougar's pregnant," Pooch repeated. "Actual nine-months morning-sickness baby pregnant."

"Um..." Jensen bit his lip. "Make that babies." He held up two fingers. "Twins."

Pooch gaped at him.

Clay was rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Jensen..." he said, then looked up at Jensen and Cougar. "Explain all this to me."

Jensen blinked. "From the beginning?"

Clay sighed heavily. "I can guess that part," he said, his voice sharp. "But...how?"

"I thought you weren't menstruating," Aisha suddenly said, looking directly at Cougar.

All the men winced. "Yeah, well, he isn't now," Jensen muttered. He straightened and looked at them. "Look, okay, yeah, it's not ideal, but it's happened and in like five months, there's going to be two Jensen-Alvarez children." He smiled. "Hey, Pooch, you should tell LJ he's getting some new friends."

Pooch shook his head and chuckled. "Dumbass," he said. "Should've kept it gloved."

"Never bothered bef—"

"You can't have these babies," Aisha interrupted, her voice sharp.

Everyone stared at her.

"What?" Jensen said, his voice flat and angry.

"We're even closer to finding Max than we were before," she said. "And now you want to drop out for what — months? Years? Letting him get away with even more while you play house?" She looked at them angrily. "You can't have these babies," she repeated.

Jensen flushed. "Like hell we can't!" he replied. "It's none of your fucking busin—"

"Jensen," Clay said, and his eyes were bleak. "Jensen, she's right."

Jensen's back was ramrod straight, and he stared at Clay in disbelief. "Clay?"

Clay looked back at him. "We need you. Both of you."

Jensen's jaw clenched. "Are you ordering us, sir?"

Pooch winced, but Clay stared back at Jensen evenly. "I'm asking you."

Jensen's eyes narrowed, a coldly furious expression on his face, and, for a second, Pooch thought he was going to punch Clay right then and there. When he finally spoke, it was one word.

"No."

Aisha looked at him. "It's not your decision, Jensen," she said, her voice sharp and cutting. "It's his."

Everyone turned to look at Cougar.

If Jensen had been stiff and furious, Cougar was a tightly wound ball of rage, nearly shaking with fury. He didn't speak for a second, then swallowed. "No," he said quietly, barely audible. He cleared his throat. "No," he repeated, stronger, firmer. He looked at Aisha and Clay, eyes fierce and glittering, then walked out of the room.

Jensen lifted his chin and looked right at Clay, eyes defiantly. "There's your answer," he said coldly, before following Cougar out.

Clay exhaled once they left, rubbing his hand over his eyes.

"This is going to end badly," Aisha said, crossing her arms across her chest.

Pooch looked at her. "Aisha, shut up."

She blinked, affronted. "You can't tell me you think this is a good idea!" she said angrily. "Losing two of our team for how long? One year? Five years? Eighteen years?"

Pooch stood up, ignoring her questions, and looked at Clay. "If they leave over this, I'm out," he said. "You can drive your own fucking car."

Clay didn't say a word as Pooch walked out of the kitchen.

 

Day 107

They went to Nashua a couple of days later. Cougar kept the window rolled down, despite the sharp breeze, and tried to not vomit in the car.

Jensen occasionally glanced over sympathetically from the driver's side. "We can stop—"

"No."

"It's totally—"

"No." Cougar swallowed again, breathing through his nose.

They stopped anyway, Jensen muttering something about needing gas. Cougar made a point of not looking at the fuel gauge, but strode behind the minimart, where a battered sign pointed out the toilets.

The ladies' was right by the dumpster, and the smell of rotten food, gasoline, car exhaust and what must have been a leaking sewer pipe was finally too much, and he bent beside the dumpster, heaving the sparse contents of his stomach onto the asphalt.

When the heaves stopped, he pressed one hand against the wall and wiped his mouth with the other, eyes closed tightly. He breathed slowly through his mouth, trying to regain his stability, then, even more slowly, stood up.

"Here," Jensen said, behind him, and Cougar swore under his breath. He should have heard him coming, he should have been aware, but, instead, he was being sick next to a fucking gas station dumpster.

Jensen held out a bottle of water, and Cougar slapped it away, angry.

Jensen sighed and held the bottle out again. "You need to drink some water."

Cougar glared up at him, then took the bottle. It was cool and soothing down his throat, and then he rinsed and spat, narrowly missing Jensen's feet. He grinned sharply at that, taking a vicious pleasure in Jensen stepping back, just a bit.

"Okay, that's good, not good that you almost got my chucks, but good that you're drinking water." Jensen had another bottle in his hand. "I also picked up some ginger ale — Becky always said it helped her during the worst of it."

Cougar's eyes closed again, stomach twisting angrily at the thought.

"Hey..." Jensen was close to him again, putting one hand on his shoulder. "We're totally gonna get through this, okay?" He smiled lopsidedly. "Just think of it as like a really really bad hangover, okay? Not that you ever get hangovers like that, but if you did, it'd be like this, right? And it'll soon go away. Okay?"

Cougar looked at him with a disbelieving expression, then took a deep breath. "Okay," he whispered.

 

Day 108

Jake lived on the edge of Nashua, in what used to be their parents' house. Becky made sure to come over every once in awhile, Emma in tow, to pick up the mail and make sure the lawn was watered, but most of the time it sat there, empty, a snug hideaway no one else knew about. And Jake liked it like that.

When they were declared dead, the deed went to Becky. And despite everyone telling her to sell it, or rent it out, or do something, she kept doing what she had been doing. Picking up the mail, watering the lawn, checking that everything was still in its place. It was mostly rural, and the neighbors never paid attention, so when Jake turned out to not be dead, no one really paid attention to the fact that the house was suddenly lived in again.

Becky pulled up along the curb, noticing the completely unremarkable Honda in the driveway, then got out, keys rattling in her hand. Jake had been evasive on the phone again, talking about everything from Plants vs. Zombies to that cake Mom used to make and how all of his experiments on the recipe had failed, but she knew something was up. The last time he had mentioned Mom's cake recipe, it had been just before he came out to her.

He answered the door, smiling widely, but she could see the nervousness in that smile. But his hug was firm and warm and it was so good to see her baby brother again. So good to see him alive.

They went to the living room, sitting on the sofa, and engaged in mindless chitchat for a few minutes, talking about Emma's soccer stats, Becky's job, how Pooch and Jolene were doing, all the lightweight essentials that could've been shared over a phone call or email.

The second Jake paused, looking down at his jeans, Becky pounced. "So what is it?" she asked, looking at him firmly.

He looked up, surprised, then sighed. "Should've guessed you'd figure something was up," he muttered. He took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, then looked at her. "Um...okay...um..." He took another deep breath. "I'm going to be a father."

She stared at him, disbelieving. "What?"

"Or, if you like, you're going to be an aunt. In a little over five months. Or so. Unless they're early, which could happen, 'cause twins like to arrive earlier, or so the Internet said, and—"

"Wait. Wait. Wait." Becky held up her hand. "Did I hear you right? Did you actually say that you were going to be a father?"

Jake blinked at the words, then smiled, softly, a sort of gentle smile that Becky had only seen on him once or twice, whenever it wasn't about something awesome or hilarious but, instead, about something he loved. "Yeah," he said softly. "I'm gonna be a dad."

Becky shook her head, suddenly furious at him. "And what about Cougs, huh? What's he gotta say about all this? Last time you two were here, it was all..." She waved her hands at him, frowning. "What the hell happened?"

"Um..." Jake's eyes were suddenly distracted by something behind Becky. Becky turned around, and gaped at the woman who stood there.

She had dark hair and sharp brown eyes, and Becky swore she had seen that same sort of Che Guevara shirt on Cougar before, and she turned back to Jake angrily. "What the fuck did you do, Jake?" Her voice was low and furious. "Did you dump Cougar just to shack up with some girl?"

Jake's eyes were wide. "No! God, no! I'd never—"

"Then what the fuck am I looking at, huh?" Becky pointed at the woman, who still stood in the doorway, looking down at the carpet, not saying a word. "Because, right now, I'd say that you decided that, no, you really weren't that cool with being in love with a man and went off and knocked up some female version of who you really love, because you couldn't cope with your fucking homosexual panic. Which, I swear to God, I will punch you into the goddamned ground for, because I told you that if you ever broke his heart, I would kill you. Remember that?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Jake held up his hands. "Seriously, whoa. It's not like that at all."

"Then what? Is she like your surrogate or something? Jesus, Jake, have you been planning this? Because with your life, I don't think—"

"Whoa!" Jake nearly shouted. "Okay, no, it's not like that either." He sighed. "Any time you want to join in, Cougs, feel free," he said towards the woman.

The woman looked up, and — fuck — that really was Cougar, the same hard look in the eyes, the same set to the jaw, just like when she first sized up the man who was her baby brother's goddamned boyfriend.

"Fuck," she whispered. She turned back to Jake. "What the fuck did you guys do?"

 

Cougar thought it said something about the resilience of the Jensen family that Becky took in all the details without protest. Not even when Jensen described finding the machine again, she never questioned what her brother was telling her.

And when he finished, she looked at Jensen, then at him, then nodded, exhaling slowly. "Okay," she said, her voice surprisingly calm.

"Okay?" Jensen asked. "Really okay?"

"I said 'Okay', didn't I?" she snapped back. She looked over Cougar, an eyebrow raised. "You're really going ahead with all this?" she asked him.

Cougar nodded, not needing to say anything. Becky looked at his midsection, her expression softening, then she turned back to Jensen. "You're a fucking idiot, you know that, right? What did I always tell you when it came to contraception?"

"'Never assume protection'..." Jensen said, sighing. "I know, I know. But c'mon..." He gestured towards Cougar. "I never had to worry about it with him before, and I just thought..."

"No, you assumed. Which was stupid of you." She stood up, fishing her keys out of her pocket. "I gotta go get Emma from practice. You okay with me bringing her here?"

Jensen started to answer, but Becky was looking at Cougar, ignoring her brother. He thought about it for a moment, then nodded, slowly.

"Good," she said. She smiled slightly. "She's been missing both of you, y'know." She walked to the door. "And while I get her, you better think of how you're gonna tell her about how Uncle Cougar's carrying her baby cousins..."

 

They sat on the back porch, each holding a beer, half-listening to the conversation going on at the swingset. Cougar was pushing Emma on the swing, the creak and clank of the chains hiding Cougar's responses to Emma's questions.

"This is your rabbit test, bro," Becky finally said, looking at him.

Jensen frowned. "You do know they haven't done rabbit tests since the 60s, right?"

Becky smiled. "It's something Trev's mom said to me, when I told her I was pregnant. She told me that this was our rabbit test — either Trev'd grow up and take responsibility for what we'd done, or he'd just run off like a jackrabbit and never look back."

Jensen snorted. "Yeah, well, we know the answer to that particular question..."

Becky waved it off. "Okay, yeah, he's a shit example, but it's still true." She looked back out at the swingset. "You're gonna have to man up and take responsibility, Jake."

"I know that, Becks," he said. "I mean, Christ, do you think I'm actually going to leave Cougar like this?"

Becky turned back to him. "Of course I don't," she said, calmly. "But I also know that you're all moon-eyed and soppy because you're in love, and there are going to be babies, and you never thought you were gonna get all...this." She waved around at the backyard. "I mean, shit, you were already big on family — I don't even want to think about what you're gonna be like once you and Cougs're pushing your kids on that swingset."

She glanced at him and shook her head at the tender expression on his face as he stared at the swingset. "Jesus..."

He grinned goofily and chuckled. "Yeah, okay, I might be a little...over-enthusiastic." He mock-glared at her when she snorted. "But I know what I gotta do."

She looked at him intently. "Do you? Do you really? Because you know how they say that babies change you? It isn't bullshit. It totally fucks you up, and you find yourself saying things you never thought you'd say, and doing things you never thought you'd ever do, just because there's this little person in front of you, and you want — no, you need — to do whatever it takes to make that person happy, and safe, and loved." She paused, and looked back at her daughter. "And you're gonna need all you've got in that big stupid head of yours."

Jensen nodded, quietly, and looked back out at the swingset. "I'm scared, Becks," he said in a low voice, after a few seconds. "I'm fucking terrified. I've been fucking terrified ever since Cougs came down from that building, and now..." He sighed. "What if it all goes wrong? What if something happens to them — what if something happens to him? What if I'm no good at this fatherhood thing? What if neither of us come home one time? What if he —" His voice broke off and he looked up towards the roof, blinking furiously. "What if he's doing all this just to make me happy?"

Becky stared at him. "You think he'd do that?" she asked.

"You didn't see him after it happened..." Jensen looked out towards the swingset. "He was just so goddamned angry, like every single atom in his body was rebelling against how it was arranged. He couldn't fit into his clothes properly, he couldn't fight the way he used to, and when he tried to use his rifle, unable to properly lie on his stomach because of his breasts..." His voice trailed off again and he sighed. "But all of that rage was nothing compared to how it was when I touched him."

Becky ran her hand up his back in comfort and he pulled off his glasses, polishing them on his t-shirt before putting them back on. "Jesus, Becks, I love him. I love him no matter what his fucking gender is, and once I realized that, I got over my big gay panic — you know that. But just because I had that panic one time, he thought I'd be in fucking heaven. Oh, I could finally love Cougar without all that nasty gay shit going on." He shook his head. "And I'm so absolutely shit-scared that he thinks that being a woman and having babies is the only way he can get me to love him."

Becky pulled her brother in for a hug. "Does he know that?" she said, resting her head on Jensen's shoulder.

Jensen sighed and ran his hand over his face. "Fuck, he better," he said, looking back out towards the swingset.

 

Day 110

Cougar woke up with Jensen's arms around him, one large hand palming the bulge of his stomach. He breathed slowly, quelling the faint flare of nausea, then relaxed deeper into Jensen's arms.

Jensen stirred and nuzzled his neck. "Hey..." he said, voice fuzzed with sleep. His hand flexed against Cougar's stomach as he stretched out, and he froze suddenly. "Wow," he said, suddenly awake. His hand pressed against his stomach, feeling the resistance. "There are babies in there," he said, his voice quiet with awe.

Cougar snorted.

"Yeah, okay, stating the obvious, but come on..." Jensen's breath was warm against his skin. "Babies! Babies who'll have your shooting ability and my smarts..." He rubbed Cougar's stomach again and was obviously grinning. "I bet they have your eyes." He paused. "Your eyes..." He kissed Cougar's neck again. "And your mouth..." He kissed his shoulder. "And your hair..."

Cougar rolled onto his back, turning to face Jensen. "And what would they get from you?" he asked.

Jensen kissed Cougar's collarbone. "My height?" He laughed when Cougar glared and punched his arm. "My freaky toes? My typing speed?" He laughed again and kissed Cougar on the lips, leaning over him, one hand cupping Cougar's cheek and the other still against his stomach. "Christ," he said, grinning widely and looking down at Cougar. "This is so fucking amazing..."

Cougar smiled up at him and leaned up to kiss him again.

 

Day 127

Cougar stormed into the safe house, rifle strapped to his back, ignoring Clay, who followed him furiously. "Cougar!" he said, his voice sharp.

Cougar ignored him and went into the dining room, carefully setting his rifle down on the table. He ran his hand over the case, trying to calm down, but it wasn't happening.

"Cougar," Clay said, walking in the room. He sighed. "What did you expect?" he said, leaning against the door frame. "You're pregnant. You'll just get bigger and bigger and you aren't going to be able to lie on your stomach for nearly six months."

Cougar unzipped his case and pulled out his rifle, carefully emptying it, arranging the bullets on the table in perfect order.

"And I know what this is about."

Cougar finally looked up at Clay, not saying a word, but his eyes narrowed, waiting for Clay's answer.

"You always provide cover," Clay said, gesturing towards the rifle. "You always look out for us, make sure we're safe, even when we're doing fucking stupid things. But now you can't — not the way you're used to." He paused. "Am I right?"

Cougar scowled, grabbing a cloth to furiously polish his sight.

Clay nodded. "I'm right." He paused again. "So let us provide cover. Let us look out for you."

Cougar raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

"We're here for you, Cougar. Even when you don't want us to be. And the sooner you get that through your head, the sooner you can get past this."

Cougar looked at him, then sighed. "All right," he said, his voice quiet.

"Good." Clay clapped him on his shoulder. "Now, I think Jensen's got something for you."

Clay led him towards the room Jensen had commandeered as an office, and Jensen looked up from his monitor.

"Show Cougar what you set up," Clay said, and Jensen brightened, grinning widely.

"Okay, so," Jensen said to Cougar. "I thought about how you always keep an eye on me. And how much smoother missions run when you do." He gestured towards Cougar's body. "But you can't be stuck on some hot-ass roof with no cover, not now. So, instead, you'll be in here." He tapped a few keys on the keyboard. "With this."

The large monitor divided into six separate screens, each showing grainy CCTV footage. Cougar watched the people in white coats walk through the hallways, walking into rooms. He gestured at the screens. "The facility?" he asked.

Jensen nodded. "This way, you can keep track of what I'm doing, and..." He scribbled on a Post-it note. "At the point you would normally start shooting, you can just tap these keys..." He pulled the Post-it off and carefully applied it to the edge of the monitor. "And it'll cause a distraction that'll get me out of a tight spot." He smiled. "So...what do you think?"

Cougar looked at the set-up and Jensen's expectant face and matched his smile, nodding.

 

Day 132

The six screens were fuzzy, blurred, but individuals could still be made out, seen, recognised. Jensen moved smoothly from one screen to the next, blending in with the other lab technicians in their coats and glasses. Cougar watched him intently, keeping his eye on him.

Jensen easily slipped through the security systems, swiping his stolen key card through all the doors, until he reached the vault. "Lights out, kids," Cougar heard over the comms, just as the cameras turned off.

Cougar breathed deeply, eyes closed. The babies twisted inside of him, and he put a hand on his stomach to soothe them.

The cameras clicked back on, with the vault camera showing an open door. Jensen stepped out and waved at the camera, holding something small and metallic in his other hand. "Got it," Jensen said.

"Pooch is waiting round the back," Clay replied.

Jensen quickly moved from the vault to the corridor. The camera faced him from the far end, and Cougar could barely make out his body stiffening, senses becoming alert. "Company," Jensen said, tersely. "Exit?"

"Fuck, hang on," Clay answered. There was a rustling of paper on Clay's end, and Cougar saw three security guards come into the camera's view, moving slowly towards Jensen, guns drawn.

"The sooner the better," Jensen said, holding up his hands after carefully slipping the device into his coat pocket. "Hey, how's it going?" he said to the guards, trying to be calm.

Cougar looked at the camera, then at the keyboard. He swore, then pressed the keys Jensen had mentioned to him.

A loud klaxon rang out from the corridor, echoing through Jensen's comms. The guards tensed, still holding their guns towards Jensen, but when the calm female voice said "Contamination Alert. Please evacuate the area," several of them looked at each other.

Jensen still held up his hands, and looked at the guards.

The voice repeated itself, and two of the guards, shaking their heads, quickly left.

"So this whole contamination alert..." Jensen said to the guard, his voice calm. "Are we talking like 'Outbreak'? Or 'Resident Evil'? Because I definitely could handle myself in a zombie fight, but I don't know if you can. And if it's like 'Outbreak', well, fuck, I don't know if either of us could cope with our internal organs liquefying, could you?"

Cougar couldn't hear the guard, but he could imagine what he was saying. "Shut up," says the voice in Cougar's head. "Don't fucking move."

"You know they say that with ebola, you end up pretty much just shitting out all your intestines? I bet that'd block up your toilet..." Jensen tilted his head and looked at the guard. "Are you still just gonna stand here? I mean, assuming you get out before whatever nasty virus you've been cooking in here hits you and turns you into meat-flavored jello, do you really think I would be able to get out?"

There's another pause, where the guard is talking, and Cougar's mind produces the words again. "You set this up," the guard said.

"Are you sure about that?" Jensen lowered his hands and breathed deeply. "I figure...what? Five minutes? Then it hits you?" He took another deep breath. "I wonder if it starts with a little twitch in the back of the throat, 'cause either I'm getting a cold, or it's already started." He cleared his throat, then began to cough in earnest, bending over.

The guard swore, and, still keeping his gun trained on Jensen, stepped closer to him.

Jensen gave one final cough, then made his move, slamming into the guard with a full-fledged tackle. The guard fell to the ground, sending his gun sliding across the corridor. He wrapped both of his arms around Jensen, trying to pull him down, but Jensen kneed him hard and quickly jumped to his feet. He started to make a run for the exit, when the guard grasped at the tail of his lab coat, yanking it hard.

Cougar leaned forward and watched, as if in slow motion, Jensen trip, stumbling, falling down onto the hard linoleum of the corridor.

There was a bright flash — a flash that made Cougar's stomach clench, made the babies roil within him. The camera went to static, and Cougar stood up, staring at the monitor in terror. He grabbed his comm. "Jensen?" he said, his voice rough. "Jensen, are you...?"

There was a cough, then a long relieved sigh. "Happy to report that my dick is still firmly attached," Jensen said, his voice a bit rough. "But..."

The camera clicked back on and Cougar saw Jensen looking up at it, holding the device in his hands, smashed into several pieces. "We've got a bigger problem."

 

Day 136

Jensen swore under his breath and shoved a piece of the device off of the mat on his workbench. "Son of a bitch," he said to himself. He turned back towards the others. "It's fucked."

Everyone just stared at him. "But fixable fucked, right?" Pooch said, sparing a quick glance at Cougar.

Jensen sighed and picked up a random piece, trying to fit it to the others. "Maybe..." He looked up at Clay. "I have the specs off of their servers, so I could rebuild it..." He glanced at the calendar on the wall and shrugged. "I've got...what? Four months?"

Cougar straightened, and Jensen shook his head. "Sorry, Cougs," he said. "I'll get it sorted, okay?"

Cougar nodded, and Jensen looked back at the device. "Yeah," he said to himself. "I'll get it sorted."

 

Day 148

Cougar might have been watching at Jensen, but everyone else was looking at Cougar.

Jensen frowned and made one final adjustment with his screwdriver, then looked up at the team. "Okay," he said, cheerful but nervous. He took off his welding goggles and wiped them on his t-shirt. "That should do it, I think." He looked towards Cougar. "You want to do the honours?"

Cougar nodded, reaching into a cage and pulling out a large white male rat, pink eyes glittering in the unshielded fluorescent lights of the garage. He set the rat in a box on the table, near the laser.

Jensen nodded, lining up the laser towards the rat, then turned back to the team. "Um, you might want to look away or close your eyes," he said, pushing his goggles back on. He flipped a switch on the laser and it thrummed to life. "And, um...back up? Just in case?"

Everyone took three steps back and looked away. Jensen nodded, took a deep breath, and flipped another switch.

There was a bright flash, a hum, and Cougar shivered unconsciously, the babies twisting inside of him. When the flash faded, everyone looked back at the rat.

It shuddered and looked up angrily at them from its new female body.

Jensen whooped.

Cougar felt something loosen in his chest, something he didn't even know he had been holding. A terror, dark and furious, that he would be the only one, that they wouldn't be able to copy what had happened to him, and that no one would ever be able to change him.

He looked up at Jensen, who grinned at him and held up his thumbs. "Step one, success!" he said cheerfully. He looked back at the rat. "Right, time to try step two!"

Everyone looked away again, the flash and hum less surprising, and even before the flash had fully faded, Cougar was looking at the rat.

It was male again.

Everyone exhaled loudly, chuckling, looking down at the now male rat with relief.

"I think we can call that a succ—"

The rat convulsed on the table, mouth suddenly filling with foam, eyes rolling back. It shuddered, shrieking, then fell limp, lifeless.

Everyone stared at the rat.

Everyone but Jensen and Cougar, who looked at each other in horror.

 

Day 169

For a soon-to-be father of twins, one who came to the ultrasound appointment, he wasn't really paying attention.

The nurse silently rolled her eyes and looked up at the monitor. "Strong heartbeats, good size..." She gestured towards the gentle curve of a spine. "Both around the same size, which is great to see, and definitely identical twins." She looked back up at the father. "We can provide DVD copies of these for viewing later, if you want."

The man looked up from his notes, distractedly. "Huh? No, no, that's fine. Thanks, though." He looked back down at his notes.

She didn't say anything, but she cocked an eyebrow at the mother, who looked back evenly, as if she was daring her to say something. "Okay..." the nurse said, deciding to change tack. "Do you want to know the sex of your babies?" she asked.

"Yes," the woman said, smiling softly. "Please."

The nurse looked at the scan, smiling when one of the babies turned over, providing a perfect view. "Girls," she said, nodding. "Definitely girls."

There was a clattering as the father dropped his pen. "Wait," he said, finally looking at the monitor. "Girls? We're going to have baby girls?"

The nurse nodded, wondering if he had been hoping for boys. Wondering if he was going to cause trouble.

He broke into a wide grin. "Oh my God," he said, reaching over to grab his partner's hand. "We're going to have girls!" His eyes suddenly widened. "Dude, dude, can we name them Kitty and Jubilee?"

She gave him a look and shook her head.

"Jean and Emma? Wait, no, that'd get confusing with Emma. Zoe and Inara? Frederica and Georgina? Amidala and Padme?"

The nurse tried not to chuckle as she kept on shaking her head, smiling widely.

He snapped his fingers. "I've got it!" He grinned even wider. "Luka and Leia."

"Luka is a boy's name," the nurse piped up, unable to help herself.

His shoulders sank a little, then he perked up again. "Ellen and Ripley! Come on. It'd be like if Ripley and Vasquez had babies! Ellen and Ripley Alvarez!"

And she thought the look on his face when his partner started laughing more than made up for the rest of the appointment.

 

Day 197

The garage stank of burnt coffee, ozone and rat piss. It was quiet, dark, with a single light over the workbench, where Jensen sat bent over the device. His glasses were next to it, and he had his face in his hands, fingertips pressed into his eyes.

Cougar sighed and walked behind him, setting down a bottle of water next to him. "Jake..." he said softly.

Jensen sighed and lifted his head, reaching for his glasses. "Hey, Cougs," he said in a gravelly voice, gratefully taking the bottle of water. "How are you feeling?"

Cougar dismissed the question and rested a hand on Jensen's shoulder. "Come to bed," he said.

Jensen rubbed his cheek against Cougar's hand, then shook his head. "I'm sure I've almost got it..." He uncapped the bottle and drank deeply. "I can feel it..." he said as he poured a small amount of water onto his soldering sponge. "I can see where it all goes, I can see what it needs, but I can't get it to do what it's supposed to do." He sighed again and capped the bottle.

Cougar frowned and wrapped his other arm around Jensen's shoulders, pulling him close to his body.

Jensen rested his head against the curve of Cougar's stomach, and gently brushed his lips against it. "Why aren't you asleep?" he asked, looking up at Cougar.

Cougar smiled softly as one of the girls kicked furiously against Jensen's head. "They had other plans," he said as Jensen grinned and tenderly reached up to press against that spot. He reached down and stroked Jensen's hair. "Come to bed, Jake," he repeated. "It can wait."

Jensen pulled away suddenly, the smile gone. "But it can't. The longer I take, the longer you're a woman and what if this happens again?" He gestured towards Cougar and sighed. "I don't..." His voice broke off. "I can't let it go, Carlos. It has to work." He gestured towards the device. "What if it doesn't work at all and you're like this forever? What if it only has a temporary affect? What if you die in front of me?" He sighed again, his hands clenched into fists. "It's just fucking important, okay? I need to do this."

Cougar took a step back, frowning. Jensen looked at him, his mouth open, obviously wanting to say something.

Cougar shook his head, and went back to the house.

Jensen turned back towards the device.

 

Day 232

Pooch occasionally regretted not being there for Jolene before LJ was born, but, over the last few weeks, he was actually mostly grateful. If Jolene had been anything the way Cougar was acting...it would have made for some rather rough times in the Porteous household.

Admittedly, Jolene hadn't had to cope with an entirely new gender on top of all the physical changes. Neither had she had to cope with Jensen. Even during Pooch's most obsessive moments, he never matched Jensen's current behaviour, the insomnia, the shouting, the swearing, the stink of solder and fried wiring from the garage.

It set all of them on edge, made Pooch's shoulders ache from being hunched up against the back of his neck, but Cougar was the worst. He was angrier than usual, unresponsive and sullen, trying to get comfortable with his enormous belly in front of him, t-shirt and sweatpants failing to cover most of the bulge. When they finally settled in Nashua for the long wait, Becky tried to give Cougar some of her old maternity outfits. Cougar hadn't even bothered to look at her. He nearly made Emma cry, which made Cougar cry, and that made him even angrier.

So Cougar was a walking beach ball of hormones and resentment, Jensen was growing closer and closer to the mad scientist stereotype, Clay and Aisha had run off to chase a supposed lead on Max, leaving Pooch to watch Cougar. He had tried to make a babysitting joke, but it had died on his lips at Cougar's glare.

At least Jensen had cable. And Becky came over whenever she had a free moment, to entertain Pooch, keep an eye on Cougar and force Jensen to occasionally eat something.

So when it started, Becky was sitting on the couch with Cougar, watching some random show on the Discovery Channel — something about how tortilla chips and monster trucks were made, Pooch thought — when Cougar suddenly inhaled deeply.

Becky glanced at him. "How often?" she said, her voice calm.

Cougar looked at the clock. "Ten minutes."

She nodded. "Want to go to the hospital?"

Cougar nodded.

Pooch stared at both of them. "Wait. Now? NOW?" he said, his voice rising slightly in panic.

Becky helped Cougar off the couch. "Yep," she said, still calm. She grabbed the small suitcase near the couch. "I'll take Cougar in my car, you go get Jake, okay?"

Pooch gaped at her, mouth open wide, even as she calmly led Cougar out towards her car. She got him safely secured, then pulled out of the driveway, driving as if it was a trip to the grocery store.

Pooch stared at the car as it drove away, eyes still wide. He sat there, not moving, staring at the street.

"I did it, motherfuckers! I am the fucking KING!" Jensen suddenly shouted, running in from the back, making Pooch jump. Jensen held up a very angry-looking rat. "Check it out — balls and a pulse!" He suddenly looked around, and his enthusiasm dropped. "Where is everyone?" he asked.

Pooch gestured towards the couch. "Um..."

Jensen noticed the missing suitcase and dropped the rat, who attempted to cling to Jensen's boxers before falling onto the carpet indignantly and quickly scurrying towards the kitchen. "Oh fuck," he said. "Cougs...Becky...the case..." He pointed at the space the suitcase used to inhabit. "They...oh fuck!" He looked around wildly. "Where are my keys? Fuck, how long ago did they leave? Where are the car seats? Who left the TV on? Oh fuck!"

Pooch shook himself and grabbed Jensen by the shoulders. "Jensen," he said firmly. "Calm the fuck down. They just left, I'll drive you to the hospital, and we'll get the car seats later. Turn off the TV, put some goddamned clothes on, and we'll go!"

Jensen blinked, then nodded, silently. "Okay, yeah, clothes, yeah." He ran into the bedroom, and came out wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt. "Fuck," he said, his voice low and a bit awed. "Fuck." He reached his shoes and pulled them on.

Pooch grabbed his keys and turned off the TV. "C'mon, Daddy," he said, smirking a little at the terrified expression on Jensen's face. "Let's go."

 

Day 233

Clay almost drove past Jensen's house, not recognising it with the lights off. When he realized, he stopped, reversed, and pulled into the driveway, reaching for his gun as he opened the car door.

It was dead quiet, the house a silent dark shape against the night sky. Clay quickly moved towards the front door, gun drawn, and pressed his back against it. He tried the knob, and tensed when it turned easily, already unlocked.

The living room was dark, empty, and the only light was a faint flicker in the dining room. Clay kept his back to the wall, the safety off his gun, and silently stalked towards the dining room.

Jensen was sitting by himself, staring at his laptop, lost in thought. He glanced up when Clay entered, and nodded absently. "Hey boss," he said, looking back down at his laptop.

Clay thumbed the safety back on his gun, tucking it into its holster. "Jesus, Jensen," he said. "I could've shot you. Where is everyone?"

Jensen didn't look up, still looking at his laptop.

"Jensen!" Clay said firmly.

Jensen sat up, blinking. "Huh?" he said, looking up at Clay.

"What happened?" Clay straightened and looked around quickly. "Where's Pooch?"

Jensen's eyes strayed back to the laptop. "Home with Jolene and LJ."

"Becky?"

He tapped once on the keyboard. "Home with Emma."

Clay swallowed. "Cougar?"

He tapped again. "South NH Med."

"Is everything..." Clay trailed off, not quite certain what to say.

Jensen had an unreadable look on his face, and Clay felt his stomach sink. "Yeah, yeah, they're fine," Jensen finally said, his voice soft.

Clay's brows furrowed. "'They'?"

Jensen tapped his keyboard again, then turned the laptop around towards Clay.

The screen was filled with a single photo, Cougar lying in a hospital bed, looking tired but grinning, wearing his hat and holding a bundle of pink-faced sleeping baby in each arm.

"They almost put Jensen on the birth certificates," Jensen said as Clay stared at the photo. "But after all he's gone through, there was no way those girls could be anything but Alvarezes."

"Christ, Jensen," Clay said, leaning over to clap one hand on Jensen's shoulder. "Congratulations."

"Thanks, Clay," Jensen said distractedly.

"What're their names?"

"Margaret Carla and Esperanza Jacobina," Jensen replied, turning the laptop back to him to look at the photo. "God, he didn't even give me a hint that he was gonna name them after Maggie and Hopey, and he knows that's my favorite comic..." He took a deep breath. "They..." He swallowed, blinking, and looked back up at Clay. "They're staying in for a few days, just to make sure everything's fine, but...Jesus, Clay. They're perfect." Jensen's voice broke a little on the last word, and he looked down, trying to hide the tears.

Clay clapped Jensen's shoulder again, not saying a word, even as Jensen took a deep breath to regain his calm. "I've..." Jensen took another deep breath. "I've just been sitting here for..." He looked up at the clock. "Fuck, five hours. I've been sitting here for five hours just looking at these photos, Clay. Looking at photos of my children." Jensen sighed. "Christ, that's...I don't actually have words for this."

Clay nodded, and moved away from Jensen, moving towards the kitchen.

"Colonel?" Jensen said, and Clay instantly stiffened at the use of his rank. When he turned around, Jensen smiled sheepishly. "Thanks," he said.

Clay just nodded again, and went into the kitchen.

 

Day 255

Jensen fidgeted, adjusting the elevation on the device again.

"Jensen..." Clay warned.

Jensen sighed and shifted his feet, looking towards the back door. "Sorry, boss," he said. "It's just..." He swallowed.

Clay was going to respond, when the back door opened, and Cougar walked out, carefully holding one of the babies. Pooch followed, holding the other one, and Jensen swallowed nervously again, his eyes never leaving Cougar. Cougar nodded at him, and held out the baby in his arms.

Jensen took her, carefully, cradling her head in the crook of his arm. "Hey, sweetpea," he said softly to her sleeping form. He looked back up at Cougar. "You don't have to do this," he said, his voice tinged with desperation. "We could wait until you're all healed...or I could run more tests...or..."

Cougar shook his head and cupped Jensen's cheek. Jensen closed his eyes and sighed. "All right," he said. "I've set it to go off one minute after you press the button. If you change your mind, you can always step out of the line of fire."

Cougar just smiled at him, then walked over to where Pooch was standing, holding their daughter. Cougar leaned over to stroke her face delicately, then gently kissed her forehead. She stirred slightly, then stilled.

"You sure about this, man?" Pooch said, looking evenly at Cougar.

Cougar nodded, and Pooch nodded in return. "Vaya con dios, hermano," Pooch said, holding out his free hand. Cougar smiled, and shook it firmly.

The baby in Jensen's arms whimpered, and Jensen adjusted his hold on her, calming her. Cougar turned back to them, and repeated the gesture with their other daughter, stroking her face and kissing her forehead. She opened her eyes and looked at him, briefly, then settled back into sleep. Cougar looked up at Jensen, marvelling at how similar her eyes were to his, then cupped his cheek. "Para siempre," he said softly.

"Forever," Jensen replied, and leaned forward to kiss him, long, deep, thoroughly. They stood there for a few seconds, eyes closed, one of their daughters between them, then Cougar reluctantly pulled away, moving towards the device.

Cougar pressed the button, stood in front of it, and closed his eyes.

 

Day 597

"You got it?" Jensen said over the comm link.

"Si," Cougar replied. "In range." He pulled into the driveway just as Jensen stepped out of the house, looking slightly frazzled.

"Oh thank Christ," Jensen said in relief. He looked at the package in the passenger's seat. "Everyone's waiting...I'm so sorry I totally forgot, it was just with the set-up and the watching and the—"

Cougar silenced him with a long kiss, and Jensen relaxed against him, wrapping his arms around him tightly.

"Okay," Jensen breathed. "That was probably a terrible idea, because now I want to just take you upstairs, and I don't think everyone would be happy with that."

Cougar grinned and pressed his body tighter against Jensen's, his stubble scraping against Jensen's neck. "Later," he whispered. "Right now, they're waiting."

Jensen nodded, sighing, and reached for the package. "Pooch bought them a race car," he said as he carried the package inside. "I think LJ's insanely jealous." He paused for a second. "Hell, I think Clay's jealous."

Cougar grinned and held open the door, following Jensen into the kitchen. The package was carefully opened, revealing a brightly colored birthday cake, with a giant "1" candle in the middle. Jensen grinned at the cake. "You wanna grab them while I light it and take it outside?" he said.

Cougar nodded and went to the back door. Everyone looked up as he entered the backyard, all eyes on him. Especially the two pairs of big brown eyes, partially hidden under fine curls of brown hair.

Maggie and Hopey squealed, holding up their arms as Cougar walked towards them. "Hola, mijas," he said, easily picking up his daughters. He placed one in each arm, and they snuggled up against him.

"Cake time!" Jensen yelled from the back door, and everyone looked up again. Jensen pushed open the back door with his back, and turned to reveal the cake, glasses glinting from the lit candle. "Happy birthday, babies!" he said, standing on the back porch.

Cougar took the girls over to him, and the four of them leaned over the cake. "On one..." Jensen said. "Two...Three!"

Cougar and Jensen blew out the candle, the girls mimicking them, and everyone applauded.