Cougar wakes from the nightmare with a jolt. Laying in his bed, he takes a few minutes to get his breathing under control and huffs a small sigh of frustration. He’s so tired his bones ache with exhaustion and he knows that he’s not going to be able to get to sleep on his own tonight. His quarters are too small, too stifling, and he’s too alone with his thoughts.
Scratching his belly through his tank top, he grabs his hat and his gun before easing his way out into the hallway, intent on finding someone to help him forget for at least a couple of hours.
He can hear Jensen puttering in the room next door, and decides to save that option for last. While he has used Jensen as his own personal teddy bear in the past (regularly enough to be slightly embarrassing), he doesn’t want to make Jensen feel obligated to bed down for the night. Jensen is much more pliant and much less talkative when he’s still mostly asleep or at least ready to bed down. From the muttered curses and muted sounds of Jensen fussing with his computers, Cougar doesn’t think Jensen is anywhere close to calling it a night.
Pooch’s door is across the hall from Jensen. While he’s gone to Pooch a few times, he only really when he feels some need to talk about his nightmares. Pooch tends to channel his inner psychiatrist when Cougar has a bad enough night to come to him. He makes up for it by making Cougar feel at ease, but tonight, Cougar just can’t talk about the nightmares. He’s not even sure he can form words tonight.
Aisha is only given a passing consideration. They have shared a bed once, but there is an awkwardness that makes just sleeping with someone difficult. The first time he had approached her she assumed that he was looking for sex, and while he normally wouldn’t turn down a night in the arms of a beautiful woman, sleeping with a former lover of Clay was never a good idea. Clay’s women tended to be violent. So Cougar had apologized, handed her shirt back to her, and told Aisha what he needed. Aisha had blinked a few times and flipped over a corner of the blanket, letting him join her in bed. The awkwardness seemed to hang heavy in the air between them. Neither of them had a good night, each staring at the ceiling, hoping that sleep would eventually magically happen. They parted in silence, each hoping they never had share that type of intimacy ever again.
Roque’s betrayal, and subsequent death, made an already unlikely choice an impossibility. Therefore, Clay was his only real option for tonight. Cougar knocks on Clay’s door and hears movement from inside. Two voices, one definitely female. Shit. Clay must have a date over.
Cougar turns to head back to Jensen’s room, better to be babbled to death than not sleep at all, when Clay’s door opens. He’s not sure what kind of expression he’s wearing, but it stops Clay from saying whatever he had planned. Something akin to sympathy creeps into Clay’s eyes.
Cougar can only nod. He feels ridiculous; standing barefoot in a hallway wearing boxers, a tank top, and his hat. He scratches at his neck and meets Clay’s eyes.
“Get in here before you freeze.”
The door closes behind him, and Cougar takes in the scene in Clay’s room. Clay’s date of choice this evening is a blonde that would probably be more beautiful if she wasn’t so painted up and squeezed into a dress that can barely contain her. At least he hadn’t interrupted Clay in the middle of getting laid. He doesn’t feel so bad about cock-blocking the blonde. Clay inviting him in means he wants Cougar here. Clay isn’t above sending Cougar to Jensen when he’s unable to clear a spot in his bed for him.
Cougar hovers near the door. Clay can handle the blonde. Cougar is too busy trying not to blush at the thought that this stranger, if she was paying attention, would witness him at a weak moment.
Clay looks at the blonde, dress straps slipping off her shoulders. “Get out.”
She looks up at him for a moment, the wine delaying her understanding.
“Now.” Clay tosses her purse into her lap, the visual clue helping her interpret the vocal command.
The look she shoots him is pure hatred.This, Cougar thinks, is why women keep trying to kill Clay.
“Fuck you, Asshole.” She stands, wobbly on her high heels, and staggers toward the door. Cougar catches her when she stumbles and tries to help her stand. “Le’go me, fagg’t.”
Cougar lets her go, surprised at the venom in her tone. Clay grabs her by the arm and ushers her out of his motel room. Cougar can’t hear what Clay says to her, but that dark rumble is almost never good. He enters the room a moment or two later, dress shirt hanging open. For a second, it looks like he’s going to yell at Cougar, but something about his expression must stop him again.
“You ready for sleep or too keyed up?”
Cougar glances to the bed and back at Clay.
“You going to sleep with your hat on?”
That earns a small smirk from Cougar. Reaching up, he gently removes the hat and places it on the bedside table. His handgun joins it.
“I’m not even going to ask where you were packing that.” Clay shakes his head at Cougar’s eyebrow waggle and slides into his own side of the bed.
Cougar slides between the sheets on the left side of the bed, shifts to get comfortable on his side and then shoots a look to Clay.
“Oh for the love of…Get over here.” Clay is laying on his back and lifts an arm for Cougar to roll under.
His head resting on Clay’s chest, he allows the steady thump of heartbeats and the motion of Clay’s fingers carding through is hair to lull him to sleep. His right arm winds its way across Clay’s torso to embrace him, and Cougar nuzzles in closer, releasing a sigh.
“Rest, Coug. I’m right here.”
A deeper sigh breaks free and Cougar can feel his eyes getting heavier. The hand running through his hair moves down to rub soothing circles in his back and Cougar feels tension start to leave his body.
“Shhh…I got you. Go to sleep. No one will hurt you here. I’ll kill the fuckers first.”