Contrary to popular belief Jensen actually liked camping. He bitched about it sure, but he enjoyed your normal, everyday, non-military based camping. He didn't even mind camping in the jungle and okay that was military, but as long as no one was hunting them or shooting at them he didn't mind being in the jungle in a tent. He hated sand though. Sand got everywhere and in everything. Computers didn't like sand. So he guessed he hated camping in the desert. But other than that he liked camping and there wasn't even a computer in sight. It was hiding in his tent.
He really liked it when he and Cougar shared a tent. Wrapped around and in each other. It was perfect. Cougar was a cuddler and that was even more perfect. There would be no in each other tonight. No hot sex under the stars. No gasping for breath or moaning in the light of the fire. Kissing they could do. Lots and lots of kissing. Quiet kissing. And yes, he could be quiet. And cuddling. And there would be no Clay or Roque or Pooch. No mission.
Just camping, and kissing, and cuddling. In their tent.
"Uncle Jake are you listening to me?" A small finger poked him in the chest.
"Yes, Becca," he said, blinking his eyes to bring his niece into focus. "I'm listening to you." And oh, right, eight little girls in the other four tents so it definitely had to be very, very quiet kissing long after the girls had gone to sleep.
Becca gave him the same look his sister did when Jen didn't believe him. It was a little creepy coming from his seven year old niece. She was supposed to be a mini version of him, not his sister. He was going to have to correct that.
She turned her head causing her blonde pigtails to swing. "Uncle Cougar, was he listening to me?"
Cougar smirked. "Let's test him and see."
He gave Cougar a wide grin and then repeated everything back to Becca.
"Mom's right," she said. "You're not normal."
Cougar chuckled softly. "I do not believe that will help you earn your badge."
Becca gave Cougar the same look she had given Jake moments earlier before spinning on her heel and walking back over to the other seven girls.
"I'm feeling outnumbered," Jake muttered under his breath, keeping both eyes on the eight girls who were now whispering to each other.
Cougar didn't say anything but shifted closer to him, a clear sign that Cougar agreed with him. He loved his niece but he was going to have to kill his sister for volunteering him for this in her place. Eight girls that he could easily hand off back to his sister when they were at home was one thing, but this was...well, okay more something he did than Jen did. Jen hated the outdoors. Her idea of camping was a hotel without cable.
He had basically been handed the book for the next level up with the camping page bookmarked and told, "they want to do this but they also needed to finish these." The these came with four sheets of paper all containing checklists. He had to give Jen credit, she was organized.
All the girls were hoping to finish off tasks for four badges: Hiker, First Aid, Snacks, and Bugs. The Bugs and Hiker were done, at least according to the checklists. Cougar was going to help with the First Aid tomorrow and the Snacks badge would be finished up by breakfast.
There would be no Camping badge for this little overnight adventure--that would be from the book he had been handed--but as Jake had discovered Becca's entire troop of eight--also known as half the Petunias--were over-achievers.
Not that he had a problem with that. On his last leave he'd helped them with the Computer Expert and Home Scientist badges. That had been loads of fun. The leave before that, when all the Losers had stayed at Jen's house--and Jake was still trying to figure out how Jen had managed to time that--the troop had used the one badge a year where they could create their own and made an Army badge and Clay had patiently answered questions and explained things for that one. Watching Clay handle eight little girls had been hilarious. But after that one there had been boxes of cookies sent to them at the base. Jake was almost positive there had been another badge involved with the cookies, but the cards and artwork had been nice.
Now though, they were camping and he had this feeling that the girls were up to something. "Save me," he whispered to Cougar.
Cougar snorted but threaded his fingers through Jake's. "It cannot be that bad," Cougar said quietly.
"I'm sorry," Jake said, turning his head to stare Cougar in the eyes. "Have you forgotten she's related to me and Jen? Which I know, makes me sound like a troublemaker and okay, maybe I am...somewhat. Never mind. I'm not helping myself here. Save us."
When Jake looked back toward the group of girls they weren't where he'd last seen them and they had all somehow moved and were now standing in front of them. He gave Cougar a quick look that clearly meant they are not to hang around you any longer and no teaching them sneaking about. Cougar only grinned and did not look repentant at all.
"This isn't going to be something I can say no to, is it?" he asked his niece.
"We will not do the work for your badges," Cougar said quietly.
Eight sets of eyes turned on Cougar and gave him THE look. Cougar scooted even closer. "They have spent too much time with your sister."
"And you didn't want to save us."
Becca leaned in and whispered what they wanted. It felt like a list of demands, okay it was a list of demands made by eight seven year olds,but Jake started nodding. The list ended up not being so bad and he could fill it with the help of Cougar.
"Looks like you're teaching two levels of First Aid in the morning," Jake said, handing the book that had been sitting next to him over to Cougar. "Study up."
Cougar took the book and flipped open to the First Aid section.
"Okay girls," Jensen said, standing. "Let's start with the prep for the fire pit. What do you need to do first?"
"Dig a round hole."
"If possible, ring with stones."
"Place firewood in the center not touching the rocks."
Cougar let Hailey, the quietest of all the girls actually light the fire. There were oohs and ahhs and then sticks with hotdogs being held over the fire. The hotdogs were served with freshly peeled carrot and celery sticks and single serving bags of chips. Jake watched carefully as each girl peeled and cut the carrots and celery. He would have considered the Snacks badge completed but Jen wanted the apple and oranges as part of breakfast to finish off the badge and she was in charge.
After the dinner trash was cleaned up and stowed away and a trip to the bathrooms down the trail was completed, Becca was standing next to him with her hands out. He shrugged and crawled into his and Cougar's tent and returned with a small milk crate filled with supplies and his laptop. He handed over the computer and watched her place the laptop on one of the logs the girls had been sitting on and then all the girls sat down around it. Then there was silence as Despicable Me started playing.
Apparently camping was fun but they wanted movies too and Jake could do that. He handed the campfire popcorn popper to Cougar while he started to work on the ingredients for s’mores and hot cocoa.
"You came prepared?" Cougar asked leaning forward from his own seat so he could put the popper into the heat of the fire.
"For this?" Jake nodded. "Yes. Appease the beasts of little girls with candy and cute movies," he whispered. "If they'd asked about the zombie apocalypse I was going to make you answer."
The girls ate their popcorn, made a sticky mess with the s'mores and drank down their cocoa all while never taking their eyes off the little yellow minions on the screen. He and Cougar sat on the ground, their backs resting against the other log bench while they leaned into each other and watched the fire flicker and the girls watching Agnes, Edith and Margo find a family.
It was a perfect camping evening. The girls cleaned up after themselves and as a unit picked up all their trash. Then turned on the little light that was sitting between each sleeping bag in the four smaller tents, changed into their sleeping clothes, put their shoes back on, and grabbed their flashlights for one more trip down to the bathrooms.
Jake disposed of the trash in one of the wildlife resistant trash cans and quickly took a moment in the men's room while waiting for the girls to finish. He knew Cougar would make his own trip down once the girl's were settled in for the night.
Settling in for the night came with eight hugs for each of them and eight ‘goodnights’ interspersed with a dozen or so yawns and then the girls were climbing into their tents and shutting off their lights and it wasn't even ten o'clock yet.
Jake flipped on the little light in his and Cougar's tent. The little purple and pink lamp was decorated in the Petunias colors and had been a gift to both of them when they'd gotten home yesterday. He crawled out of the tent and walked the few feet back to the log and the campfire. He opted to sit on the ground with his back resting against the log where he could watch the tents and feel the soft heat still coming from the fire.
He kept an eye on the trail for Cougar; not that he actually expected to see the other man until Cougar was there in front of him, but he had always loved how Cougar looked lit by the light of a fire. It just added to the nickname.
He grinned as Cougar appeared out of the darkness and squatted down in front of him. Yep, definitely added to the mystique that was Cougar.
Cougar leaned in and kissed him softly and Jake melted like the chocolate on the s'mores. They broke apart and Cougar settled in next to him.
"Thanks for coming with me," Jake said, his eyes never leaving the fire.
"Where else would I be," Cougar said, inching further so he could use Jake's shoulder as a pillow.
Both men yawned but continued to watch the fire, interlacing their fingers.
Yep, Jake did enjoy camping.