Chapter 1: Slowly falling apart
Jensen is trying to sleep. As he lays in his bed in the room he's sharing with Cougar, he listens to the sounds his team is making.
Pooch is on the balcony shared by the two hotel rooms, talking quietly to Jolene and the baby. He's watching the footage Jensen shot with a hijacked satellite of their day and wishing them well even though they can't hear his words. He's missing his little family so much that sometimes it hurts Jensen to look at him.
Roque is on the other side of the wall, which might be why Pooch is on the balcony, and from the sounds emanating from the room, he has some female company tonight. For as long as they've worked together and for all the tight quarters and situations they've found themselves in, Jensen has never figured Roque out. He can't tell if the big man is trying to drown out the loss of a chopper full of innocent children or if he just doesn't care. Jensen is inclined to believe the former rather than the latter.
Clay is with Aisha again, and Jensen really doesn't want to think about what they're up to. The activities those two consider 'foreplay' would scare normal people. Hell, they scare Jensen, if he's being honest with himself. He's not sure what to make of Aisha or her sudden appearance in their little corner of the world, but she seems to be doing the boss-man a world of good in distractions, so Jensen can tolerate her presence... For a little while, at least. That girl is downright nerve-wracking.
And Cougar? Well, the sniper is still in the room with Jensen. He hasn't left the darkened room for hours, sitting at the lone table with the pieces of one of his prized guns spread out before him. Cougar has become obsessed with making sure he's ready for anything. It's why he's so good at what he does. He shocked a lot of people in command, when he accepted Clay's offer to join the "Losers." It just didn't seem like the kind of team Cougar would be able to work with, but he's actually become a better sniper since he joined the team. Cougar is steadier, like he was just waiting for someplace he could settle into.
So, Jensen is trying to sleep. Normally, he can fall asleep at the drop of a hat (one of the few things army life didn't teach him), but life just hasn't been normal since Max and the chopper. No one has touched him since that day and they shy away from any physical contact he dares try to initiate.
His arms and legs are heavy and it's taking all he has just to get up in the morning and head out to the work at the doll factory with Cougar. His head feels fuzzy, it has for almost two weeks now, and he's finding it harder and harder to concentrate on even the simplest of tasks. Jensen is glad he's taken to wearing sandals, because even the thought of tying up his combat boots makes him ache with exhaustion.
Jensen's physiology is killing him and no one has noticed his steady decline. Maybe, he's just that good at hiding; he's kept this secret for almost twenty years, after all. Or, maybe, no one cares enough to notice. Either way, he won't last much longer if something doesn't change soon.
Chapter 2: It begins...
When Jake Jensen was a month old, his parents hired a full-time caretaker for him. They couldn't handle a baby who screamed whenever he was touched, who had no discernible pulse, and who never seemed to breathe.
Jake had hundreds of caretakers during his first decade of life, he was discreetly taken to a number of doctors who never figured out what was wrong with him, and shrinks who tried to 'fix' him, attempting everything from hypnotism to electro-shock therapy.
Jake Jensen was hidden away for years, barely even acknowledged by his family. He had no contact with the outside world and was taught by tutors who never tried to understand their student.
When he turned ten, everything changed for Jensen. He no longer screamed bloody murder when touched, his hear beat for the very first time as he gasped, drawing oxygen into his lungs for the first time since his birth... But, by then, it was too late.
A visitor came to him that night as he dreamed, telling him that the change had come three years late and that he would not be allowed to join his true family because of it. Huge, gut wrenching sobs shook his body as the first being he'd ever felt akin to, left him.
Jensen woke with these words burnt into his memory.
"You will have to find people who will support and care for you in the years to come, my son. I am sorry."
Chapter 3: ...and Continues
If someone was to ask Jensen why he joined the military, he wouldn't have an answer for them. He didn't know why himself.
For the first couple of years after joining up, he was transferred from one unit to another, never finding a team he fit with. Most of the time, the reason his commanding officer's gave for transferring him out of their units was that his presence unsettled the men. That people couldn't seem to concentrate with him near them. Nothing was ever reported and Jake Jensen was an exemplary soldier, if a little mouthy, he just made people uncomfortable.
The mission where he met the infamous "Clay's Losers" was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. The unit he'd been lent to were all dead and Jensen had been more than positive that he too would die the same horrible death his temporary teammates had died... Screaming and terrified.
Luckily for him, the higher-ups had deemed him talented enough to attempt a rescue and sent in the Losers.
The locals hadn't fed him, had given him just enough water to prolong his suffering, and had beaten him to within an inch of his life. Not that he hadn't provoked their actions, desperately needing human contact, even if it caused him pain in the long run. He'd been waiting for the day that the local guerrilla force decided he was no longer of use and returned to the village to dispose of the U.S. soldier they'd hidden away there.
Clay had thought he was dead as he pulled Jensen from his cobbled-together cage and out to their vehicle as Cougar and Roque provided cover fire for them. Pooch was ready and waiting for a quick exit.
Later, when they returned to base camp, the team gathered around Jensen's bloody body and, with a sense of sorrowful accomplishment at having been to late to retrieve a fellow soldier alive, they reached out to pull him from the truck and prepare him for the long trip home.
It was like touching a live-wire, a shock running through each man as their hands made contact. Jensen jerked and jolted upright, gasping for air like a man starved for it.
He said, "Well, isn't this a typical rescue. Late." And, with that, Jensen passed out, breathing deeply in his sleep.
Clay knew from the moment the young man had opened his mouth that he was going to be a part of the team, no matter what he had to agree to.
A month later, after recovering sufficiently enough from his injuries to be re-assigned, Jake Jensen was met outside his hospital room by a silent Cougar and was ushered away to his new life.
Chapter 4: The Debacle
During what he's dubbed the 'Max Debacle', when they're frantically running across the country in pursuit of a madman, Jensen's team is forced into contact with him. They are all too tired to go it alone and Jensen finds comfort and strength in his teammates. They help each other constantly, are much more lax about personal boundaries and it gives him just enough to continue on. Even three years ago, he would never have understood just how much a pat to the shoulder or one body brushing past another would mean to him; the smallest of touches are sustaining Jensen and he is pathetically grateful for them.
He sleeps like the dead every chance he gets, trying to replenish his reserves, and chugs power drinks when he's conscious, desperate to stay awake as long as can. Jensen has rarely been so weak and he's guiltily pleased that Clay is so focused on one singular point, Max, that he can't see Jensen falling to pieces right before his eyes.
When it seems to be working, Jensen is so grateful he nearly cries; every little touch, all the naps, and the power drinks add up to just enough. He's surviving, might even continue to survive.
Right up until the moment Aisha shoots him, that is. With one well-placed bullet, she's sentenced him to death. Jensen knows, without a doubt, that he will not survive this op. If it wasn't for Pooch and Cougar both reaching out to him when he fell and keeping pressure on the wound, his body would have gone into shutdown... He just didn't have the reserves to deal with the shock of the injury and the blood loss it caused.
He's too tired to be surprised when they're effectively captured in the trap set by one of their own. Roque's betrayal is like lying on a bed of needles while you're too numb to process the pain; he knows it should hurt and that he should be angry, but that would take too much energy, so he placidly allows himself to be led away.
His brain is on auto-pilot as they're led to their own execution, unable to react even when Pooch is shot right in front of him. He just kneels there as Cougar evades the security guard's attempts to grab his hat, which is a stupid thing to do, Jensen thinks, he learned that during his first week with the Losers. This guy didn't stand a chance in hell of getting that hat.
After that, every thing happens so damn fast! Cougar's grinning like a lunatic, there's Aisha with a big-ass rocket launcher, explosions, fighting, gun fire... Jensen's barely managing to keep focused on everything. Jensen has no idea where the sudden strength comes from to fight back, but he's thankful for it as he covers Cougar's back.
The next few moments are filled with Pooch and Cougar, Jensen can't concentrate on anything else as some of his strength returns. And he feels guilty for being so thankful for an excuse to touch someone; Pooch deserves better friends. He's lived for so long with this need for contact that he can't quite feel sorry for the need, but he's always felt like he's using the people around him and it's worse when it's someone he cares about.
There's more fighting, legless-Pooch, a giant vibrating egg from hell, and Clay making a split-second decision to save a city.
They lose Max, but find a canary yellow stretch-hummer and during the drive home, Jensen is (happily) forced to sit between Cougar and Aisha. Clay's driving and Pooch gets a whole bench to himself, back-seat driving for all he's worth until Clay raises the dividing window.
He thinks he just might survive this debacle, as he falls asleep against Cougar's shoulder.
Chapter 5: In conclusion (Jensen is a stubborn ass)
*panicked* Here's hoping you all like the last chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
At the Petunias' soccer gamer, Jensen is just the tiniest bit punch drunk.
In all his life, he'd never once dared to dream he'd be able to have this or even anything close to this.
With an open-mindedness that shocked him, the Losers had not only accepted everything he was, but they also gave him everything he needed to survive and more.
During the days leading up to the big game, Jensen had worked nonstop to expose Max's schemes and to reinstate his team's good standing with country, the military, and the world. He hadn't allowed himself the luxury of sleep and had forgotten to eat a few meals... well, any meals, if he was being honest with himself. He'd only ever been this bad once before, where he was so touch-starved that nothing seemed palatable and he just stopped eating.
He didn't show his face or contact any of his team mates or family during this time, focusing solely on protecting them from the repercussions of Max's actions. He chose to stay hidden away in the motel room he'd rented out for the week. It was better this way, he told himself. After he'd confessed what he truly was, it wasn't fair to ask the Losers to deal with yet another betrayal of their trust.
So, yet again, Jake Jensen was playing the martyr. He didn't know any better and it never even crossed his mind that the Losers, his team, his family would accept him regardless of something in his genetic make-up.
When Jensen finally came out of hiding and joined his team at Pooch's home the night before the game, he looked like death warmed over. Jolene, god bless her, with her nerves of steel, didn't even react to the state he was in, just shepherded him towards the couch in the living room and forced him to sit down on it.
Clay had looked to the rest of the team then; Cougar, Pooch, and their newest member, Aisha. He'd never been more proud of anyone in his life that he was of Jake Jensen in this moment. He nodded once to himself, then turned and walked to his hacker, pushing him down to lay on the couch and pulling his legs into his lap.
Jensen let out a strange, tired, wordless sound of surprise as he was moved into the position his team wanted him in. Cougar rubbed a gentle hand over his forehead before working his way behind Jensen and holding the younger man against the length of his body. He murmured into Jensen's ear, promising the man that they'd take care of him always, to quit being a stubborn idiot and learn to ask for what he needed.
Aisha and Pooch pulled chairs close to the couch, both of them reaching out. Aisha ran her cool fingers across Jensen's brow, brushing through his hair soothingly. Considering that, only a short while ago she had shot this man, she'd been surprised at how quickly she came to enjoy Jensen's presence. Now she felt like he could be the slightly irritating little brother she'd never had.
With an encouraging smile, Jolene let her husband know that she understood what he needed to do, she knew that being a Loser meant being family. She was the very best thing to ever happen to him, he thought, as he took the hacker's hands into his own, massaging them until all traces of tension from too many hours typing madly on a keyboard melted away.
He knew the conversation would happen sooner rather than later and Clay didn't disappoint.
"Actually, this explains some things about you, Corporal."
Jensen's way too tired, but he thinks that he can hear a note of amusement in his CO's voice. He's been having a hard time meeting Clay's eyes since he, well, came out about what he was. Something deep inside of him keeps cringing at this perceived disappointment in his pseudo-father's eyes.
"Jensen? Hey, Jake, look at me, damn it!"
And, hell no is Jensen going to disobey a direct order. He looks up, and wonders if Clay can see him trembling. So what if the man had said it was OK, that he was OK with what Jensen was. The acceptance still hadn't clicked into place inside his head and he was dreading the other shoe dropping any day now.
But, the look on Franklin Clay's face is the exact same one he'd had when that little boy tried to give him his stuffed animal. A sort of fondness and joy in a single person. Jake's a little blown away to see it directed at him.
"Gods damn it, come here you idiot!"
Without even realizing it, Jensen is moving forward, reaching out and accepting the hug Clay is offering him. He burrows into the bigger man and just... breathes.
"You listen to every single word I say to you, do you hear me." And that's not a request, so Jensen only cuddles closer in response.
"If I had a 'conventional' family, I would be absolutely honored to have you as a son, Jake. I am so damned proud of you, of all of my Losers. Don't ever think that I'll turn you away, 'cause I sure as hell never will. I love all of you, damn it! And the sooner you realize that, the sooner I'll quit riding your ass about being an idiot."
Clay doesn't let him go for a good twenty minutes or so and when he does, Jensen thinks he could run laps for hours. He feels like the energizer bunny, but when he actually moves to head downstairs, he wobbles and sways unsteadily.
"Huh, guess I'm more tired than I thought." He mumbles sleepily. He's one hundred percent sure that Clay is rolling his eyes behind his back, but Jensen's far too busy letting Cougar direct him towards the bedroom to come up with any sort of snappy comeback for his CO.
He'll worry about it tomorrow. For now, he's going to let Cougar cuddle him to death, or sleep, whichever comes first.
The Losers had become the family he was denied when his father left him to the humans who couldn't cope with a child that wasn't theirs, wasn't even human.
They hadn't stopped touching him since that day at Pooch's. At each and every moment of the day, someone had a hand on his neck or shoulder, a foot against his, or at times they'd resort to just cuddling him.
For the first time in his life, Jake Jensen was being given so much more than he needed. His team freely gave what he was almost too afraid to ask them for... they were touching him, sustaining him, giving him life and making that life worth living.
So, after a rather long wait to everyone who wanted to read the end, here it is!
I was surprised by how popular this story seems to be and the interest in having this story expanded is exciting to me... We'll just have to wait and see, but I will tell you that my fingers are already itching for more Cambion!Jensen.