Franklin Clay used to be a Lt. Colonel in this man's army. Then he found religion or, rather, he found money and a much easier way to get it than to work for it. William Roque was his second (and steady lay, in between crazy ladies and crazier twinks) and Linwood Porteous ("Pooch" by anyone who spoke of him in rumour) was their driver and low-level tech.
But what they needed was a sniper. And they wanted Cougar Alvarez.
The only problem was that Alvarez had a damn tag-a-long and none of them did inter-team relationships (well, aside from Clay and Roque, but the less said about that, the better). It just made things too complicated. And besides, they didn't need a tech. All they needed were guns and a get-away vehicle.
Everyone had heard of Alvarez. Now, Rumour said that Cougar's tag-a-long was pretty kick-ass but Clay wasn't interested and wasn't impressed. The kid was Alvarez's weakness and that's why they targeted Cpl. Jake Jensen. He was their leverage.
The hit was textbook. The mark was slim and easily subdued with Roque's superior body weight. Their knots were solid and they barely even mussed Jensen's long hair when the hood came off. The only thing missing was that worn hat that they were planning on sending to Alvarez as proof of the abduction.
It was then that things started to go wrong. Because the man they'd kidnapped just smirked and said "Biggest mistake of your lives" rather than freaking out. They'd expected fear or pleading (Roque tended to have that effect on people) but this man seemed to be impervious.
In fact, this man was already laughing before they pulled the hood off his head. It was chuckling, really, but still enough to unnerve even the hardest of hard-asses. And they were hard-asses.
Roque had twitched and was reaching for a hair-trigger blade when there was a low thud outside.
"He-l-l-o-o-o in there!" came the sing-song and Clay shivered. There was something unhinged in that voice.
The smirk on their captive's face was bordering on obscene when the door creaked open to reveal an armed-to-the-teeth-and-beyond Alvarez.
"Let him go."
"Hey now," Clay murmured, turning on the charm the way he always did when a gun was pointed at his dick. "Let's not be so hostile."
Ignoring him, the violent blond's attention flickered over the bound man in the chair before settling on Roque and his knives.
On the pop of Cougar's "p," Clay's stomach dropped. He was firing Roque from intel-gathering if they made it through this because Cpl. Jake Jensen was not the slim, dark, hispanic man following silently along behind the tall, muscular, bespeckled-but-with-potential-for-lasik blond.
On the pop of Cougar's "p," the real Jake Jensen stood up and fired off one round each into Clay and Roque. Frank Clay curled around his injured shoulder instinctively and flinched when the taller man leant close to him. There was a blurry cowboy hat turned in his direction just beyond those broad shoulders they'd wanted on the team.
"Don't you ever touch him again."
Clay whimpered, instinctively trying to crawl away from the weapon pressed to his temple.
"I want your pro-o-omise."
Those wide blue eyes were wild and he shuddered before nodding.
There was a long moment of silence after the door slammed shut behind Jensen and Alvarez. Clay sucked in a ragged breath, coughed, and groaned a, "You're fucking fired," at Roque before letting himself pass out.
And if he looked over his shoulder for a deceptively crazy blond whenever he saw a dark man with long hair from that day on, well, that was Clay's business and no one needed to know how it made his palms sweat and his chest tight, each and every time.