"Alpha, you are all clear to enter," Jensen said, typing a few keys on his laptop. He grinned as he took in the views of the security cameras, the hallways almost totally clear of activity. "There's one Tango guarding the package, but other than that you are wiiiide open."
He drew out the 'wide' far longer than was probably appropriate, laughing under his breath when Clay huffed in annoyance, clearly irritated by Jensen's lack of professionalism.
"Roger that, Pinball," Clay said finally. Jensen settled back in his seat, occasionally typing at a few keys to alter the camera view, but mostly just settling back and watching the hallways before him. They were taking a brief hiatus from their normal routine of 'hunt Max, hunt anything to do with Max, hunt anyone that's talked to Max in the last five years' to take care of a gang leader who had been causing some problems in Pooch and Jolene's neighborhood. It was just luck really that the gangster happened to be both wealthy and paranoid, with a cherry security system that Jensen had hacked with ease and a nice stash of money sitting in a vault protected by bullet-proof glass.
Now, he got to sit back and watch Clay and Pooch do their thing, knowing that Cougar was on guard at the front of the building (and Aisha was off…doing whatever it is she did when she wasn't with the team, probably building a bomb or terrorizing innocent people or something). It wasn't the most glamorous of jobs and he was cramped up in the back of Pooch's van, but they needed tech coverage and the tight conditions were pretty par for the course.
Still didn't stop him from getting bored, though.
"Aaaaand Clay takes down the Tango with one fell swoop and moves on to the door! Will it take one kick or two? The audience watches with bated breath-"
"Damn, J, shut up!" Pooch snarled suddenly, and Jensen chuckled to himself.
"Aw Pooch, already tired of these dulcet tones? I'm offended!"
"Sorry to break up this bromance, guys, but we aren't getting into this room," Clay said, exasperation evident in his voice. "The door's coded."
Jensen nodded, all business again. "Okay, I can probably hack it from here, just give me a few minutes," he muttered, peering forward.
"We have company," Cougar's voice said suddenly, and Jensen cursed under his breath.
"How many?" Pooch asked.
"At least half a dozen, looks like more might be coming."
Pooch and Clay both swore abruptly, and Jensen could see them abandoning trying the door, kneeling with their assault rifles raised to their shoulders.
"If you can get that door open, we can toss a few grenades down the hall, get the package, and proceed to rendezvous," Clay said, his tense stance never shifting.
Jensen nodded and barked an affirmative, wholly focused now on the job at hand. The gangsters headed toward his teammate were now visible on the monitor; they weren't militarily trained, but there were a lot of them and they were damn well armed.
"Got it!" Jensen cried, grinning as the electronic key turned green and the door unlatched. He had just enough time to watch Pooch and Clay enter the vault before a blinding pain in the back of his skull rendered him unconscious.
Jensen managed to crack his eyes open a few minutes? seconds? later, immediately wincing and scrunching his eyes closed again.
"Good job, kid. You're okay," a familiar voice rumbled over his head. Jensen frowned, sure now that he was hallucinating, because that voice sounded an awful lot like…
"Roque?" He whispered, cracking his eyes open. Now he could see a man leaning over him, and it was undoubtedly Roque.
"Holy shit," Jensen murmured.
"You're gonna be okay, kid," Roque repeated. Jensen wanted to say more, but darkness beckoned once again and he couldn't deny it.
"Jensen. Hey, J, open your eyes, soldier," a voice said. Someone was patting his cheek. Jensen cracked his eyes open, the concerned face of Clay peering at him. Pooch and Cougar were right behind him.
"Shit kid, what happened?" Pooch asked, leaning down and putting a hand under Jensen's elbow as he gingerly sat up. His head swam and he brought a hand up, surprised when it came back coated in blood.
"I'm- I'm not really sure," he said quietly.
"There's a dead guy by the door of the van, butt of his gun has blood on it," Clay offered as Cougar started rifling through the first-aid kit. "Figured he must have pistol-whipped you. Did you get a shot off after that?"
Jensen screwed his eyes shut and swallowed thickly as a wave of nausea welled up.
"Uh, yeah, I guess I must have. Everything's kinda fuzzy, though." He paused a minute, then licked his lips nervously. "You, uh, you didn't see Roque, did you?"
There was a heavy silence until Pooch laughed nervously.
"How hard did you hit your head, soldier?" Clay asked, his voice clipped and tight.
"Musta been pretty hard," Jensen stammered, suddenly incredibly self-conscious. Damn, his head hurt.
Pooch enthusiastically nodded from his position next to Jensen, clearly nervous.
"Concussions will do that to you, and I'd bet good money you've got one," he said quickly. "Cougs can patch it up on the way back to my place, but it's going to be a long night for you tonight."
"Great," Jensen muttered. "You know how much I love being on Concussion Watch."
"Oh yeah," Clay said under his breath. "It's just as fun for us trying to wake you up, believe me."
Jensen sighed as Pooch and Clay moved to the front and Cougar approached him with a cloth in one hand. Jensen bit one lip to keep himself from hissing in pain as Cougar cleaned the blood from his face.
"You did not shoot that man," Cougar said. It wasn't a question.
"No," Jensen said. "I don't think I did."
He didn't say anything further, and Cougar didn't ask.
Two days later, when his concussion was mostly cleared up until only a hint of headache lingered and he could walk in a straight line again, Jensen took his bike (because Clay still didn't trust him behind a wheel) and just coasted through town. It was getting dark and he didn't know where, exactly, he would find what he was looking for, but he was sure he would see it all the same.
And he did, only a half hour after he started looking, sitting outside a small bar- a nondescript Nissan Altima, early '90s model. Frowning, he dismounted his bike and locked it up in the bike rack, silently thanking that he was spared the humiliation of having to lug it inside, then entered the bar.
It was pretty quiet inside, though not atypically so for a weeknight, but there was one figure that immediately stuck out to Jensen. He walked toward the bar and slipped into the seat next to Roque before ordering a scotch.
"So. How'd you get outta that plane?" He asked without looking at the man next to him.
"How'd you let someone sneak up on you while you were in a van?"
Jensen snorted, accepting his drink from the bartender and taking a long swig.
"I was focused on saving my team," he said, finally turning to look Roque in the eye. "Something I wouldn't expect you to know anything about."
Roque maintained eye contact but didn't say anything for a second before looking away and clearing his throat.
"How'd you find me?"
Jensen laughed out loud at that, finishing off his drink and signaling for another. "You forget who you're messing with, here? Soon as I saw you, I was suspicious. I knew it wasn't just the concussion, so I hacked the security cameras across the street from the motel. You've been watching us for at least four days. How long has it been in total, Roque?"
Roque continued staring at the bar and said nothing.
"Are you Max's hitman, now? Did you come to take us all out, finish what you started?"
"No!" Roque barked abruptly. Jensen fingered the silenced pistol he had pointed at Roque under the bar and took a deep breath.
"Give me one good reason not to kill you right here," he said, low and intense. Roque looked directly at him and shook his head.
"I'll give you three," he said. "First, I saved your ass back there. Second, we're in a public place. Third, you don't have the balls."
Jensen cocked the hammer back on his gun and grinned, his teeth gleaming.
"Oh, I have the balls," he said. "You guys always seem to forget that I'm Black Ops too, and I went through all the training shit you guys did. That's not an issue, here."
Roque half-shrugged his agreement, which Jensen would have once felt excited as hell to receive. Instead, he just felt pissed.
"You did save my ass, though," he said. "And I can't figure why you would do that if you were here to take us out. So, I'm thinking that you probably pissed Max off somehow, and now you're on the outs with him. Probably being hunted by him. Am I close?"
"Yeah," Roque said, gesturing for another drink. "You're close. You don't know how I pissed him off, though."
"No," Jensen allowed, "I don't. Is it relevant?"
"He did want me to take all of you out. I told him to fuck off."
"Oh," Jensen said, unsure what to say. "Finally have a crisis of conscience?"
"Something like that," Roque said. "Guess I finally realized how much I screwed up when I betrayed y'all. You were like family, you know?"
"Yeah," Jensen said quietly. "Yeah, you screwed that up pretty bad."
They both sat in silence for a few minutes before Jensen spoke up again.
"So you've been watching us to have our backs this whole time, not to try to kill us?"
Roque nodded, looking mildly embarrassed.
"So, are you gonna shoot me?" He asked finally, breaking the awkward tension
Jensen chuckled. "No. I'm not going to shoot you. But if the team finds out about you- and we both know they probably will- and decide to take you down, I'm with them, 100 percent."
"I wouldn't expect any less," Roque said. "By the way, how's the head?"
Jensen unconsciously reached up to the small bandage still on his temple and grinned.
"Oh, you know, a few stitches, no big deal," he said.
"Good," Roque said. "Did you need a chew toy this time?"
Jensen laughed and shook his head.
"It's not too late to choose to shoot you, so I'd watch it, Roque," he said.
They both laughed for a second before Roque quickly sobered.
"In all seriousness, I'm sorry kid. And I'm glad that, you know, that Aisha was there to save your asses."
"Yeah," Jensen said, getting up. "I'm glad too. And, uh, apology accepted. From me. But this doesn't change anything if the other guys aren't so forgiving."
"Of course," Roque said. "I understand."
Jensen spent the whole ride home thinking about Roque and how stupid he'd been, and how odd it was to see the other man acting humbled and apologetic. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad trying to convince the others to forgive him too.
"So, guys, hypothetically, what would you do if Roque were still alive?"
The room fell dead quiet, and Jensen regretted asking the question almost immediately.
"You're kinda stuck on Roque, huh?" Pooch laughed nervously.
"I would hunt him down," Cougar said abruptly, looking intently at Jensen. "I would hunt him down and then I would shoot out both of his kneecaps and watch him bleed to death in front of me."
"Oh," Jensen said softly. "Got it."
"I'd help Cougs," Pooch said. "Maybe run him over with the van. Actually, just his legs. And an arm."
"Right," Jensen said. "I'd be in the van, cheering you on. Definitely."
"Max would no longer be top priority," Clay said, then left the room.
And if that didn't say exactly how serious the team leader was, Jensen didn't know what would.
Jensen didn't see Roque again until yet another mission went pear-shaped and he was bleeding out in an abandoned warehouse, hidden behind a bunch of crates and hoping his teammates could get through to him in time.
It was not a fun situation to be in.
Also, the wound in his abdomen, just to the right of his belly button, hurt like a bitch. It was way worse than the bullet to the arm Aisha gifted him with, and it was bleeding. A lot.
He pressed his hands to the wound but they quickly became slick with blood, and he started to feel lightheaded after only a few minutes.
"Jensen? Hang in there kid, we're coming," Clay's voice barked over the comm. "Just hold on."
"'kay," Jensen managed. His eyes slipped closed before he forced them back open.
"J, talk to me," Pooch said, his voice tight with anxiety. "Keep talking."
"'kay," Jensen said again. "How's the- baby doing?"
"He's finally getting teeth, J. Thought it would never happen, but they're showing up."
"N-nice," Jensen managed. "Jo-Jolene gonna stop b-breastfee-ding n-now?"
He realized with a strange sense of detachment that his teeth were chattering pretty severely.
"You would ask that," Pooch said, but he sounded worried. "Yeah, she swore it off after the first time he bit her."
Jensen laughed painfully.
"Can't b-blame her," he said. He was getting really sleepy now, his eyelids drooping shut more and more often.
"Hey kid," a voice said next to him. Jensen looked up, smiling weakly at Roque.
"Hey," he said. His voice was surprisingly raspy. It was getting a tiny bit hard to breathe.
"I'm gonna help get you out of here from the inside," Roque said, producing a wad of gauze. "You just hold this down, okay?"
Jensen nodded and swallowed thickly, lifting his hands to allow Roque to put the gauze on his stomach before pressing them down again.
"Okay kid," Roque said. "Just hang tight."
Jensen nodded, then promptly passed out.
"I say we kill him. Right now."
"He saved Jensen! And J needs help now, or he's not going to make it, Clay, he's losing blood fast."
Jensen pried his eyes open and winced at the pain in his stomach, glancing in confusion at Cougar, who was pressing firmly down on it.
"Ow," he muttered, waving a clumsy hand in Cougar's direction. Someone else, Clay, caught it.
"Easy, kid," Clay said in a low tone. Jensen looked up, noting without surprise that Clay had a gun in the hand not on Jensen, and that it was firmly pointed at Roque.
"Hey," Jensen said. "He's sorry."
Cougar half-smiled, and Clay clenched his jaw.
"It's not that simple," he said. "He betrayed us."
"I know," Jensen said, gasping in pain. "Was there."
"And you just- what, you just forgave him?" Clay whispered. "After all that?"
"Family," Jensen said, as if that answered everything. In a way, it did.
Clay was silent a moment before sighing momentously.
"Fine," he said. "Let's get Jensen loaded up and take him to the hospital. You," he muttered, pointing at Roque, "If I ever see you again, I'll blow your brains out on sight."
As they carried Jensen's weak form out on a makeshift stretcher, the tech caught one of Roque's hands in his own. "He's w-warming up to you al-already," he said quietly.
Roque chuckled softly.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Thanks," Jensen said. "I m-mean it."
"Anytime," Roque said. "And I mean that too."
Jensen smiled weakly, and then his team gently eased him into their van and drove away, leaving Roque standing alone in the warehouse.
"Anytime," Roque repeated to himself. "Anytime."