“Got eyes on it?”
Clay looked over at Jensen and Aisha. “Ready?”
“In and out boss, let’s go.” Jensen grinned like a madman. Aisha simply slanted him a cool gaze and hefted her rocket launcher higher.
“Alright, company -“
Cougar’s voice on the comms had the team stopping. The warehouse looked fine, the regular amount of guards, no surprises. Max was supposed to be recouping his loss in Portland - no one expected him to get here to Dallas this fast. “Cougs, what’s up?”
There was dead silence on the comms, Jensen looking up at him in confusion and Aisha’s gaze narrowing. It was Pooch, in a shitty van a block away from the warehouse, who said, “What the fuck you mean, Roque?”
“Cougar, are you sure - ” Clay began, but then he didn’t have to because the Hummer that drove up opened and Roque climbed out of the driver’s seat in battle fatigues.
“Holy shit.” Jensen lifted up his gun, looking through the scope. “Colonel -“
Clay’s jaw tightened, and he made an aborted motion. “Still as planned. Capture him alive, if you can. If you can’t…”
He trailed off, because fuck but Roque was a guy that had had Clay’s back all through basic, all the way to Roque’s status as Captain and Clay’s as Colonel. They’d been closer than most teams ever got, and he couldn’t understand what had made Roque leave them like that.
Hell, he didn’t understand how Roque had survived that blast.
“If you can’t, then you can’t,” he finished.
Aisha rolled her eyes at him and sighted down the rocket launcher. There was a hitch of breath in the comms - Cougar, and Clay knew that Cougar felt as betrayed by Roque as Clay himself. The three of them had been a unit for six years together before Pooch joined, and then Jensen. Roque had put the CO that had ordered Cougar left behind in Afghanistan in traction - even now, that CO could only walk with braces. Both Cougar and Roque were hardened soldiers, and they found comfort in that with one another. Pooch, Jensen, and Clay… they were soft-hearted, not inclined to shoot first and ask questions later like Roque and Cougar.
“You sure about this, Clay?” Pooch asked through the comms.
Clay rubbed the back of his neck, still missing the weight of his dog tags. “I’m sure.”
“You know, it’s statistically impossible that Roque survived, but then again we’re the Losers and we’ve managed to haul our asses out of - “
“Shut up, Jensen,” Aisha snarled before pulling the trigger.
Jensen had been the one to go after Roque, and subdue him. Clay wasn’t certain whether to thank the tech or punch him. On the one hand, if Clay or Aisha had gone after Roque, they’d probably have ended up killing him. On the other hand… they probably would have had killed him.
“He alive?” Pooch asked, leaning against the van.
They were in a barn, in a ranch farmhouse on the outskirts of Dallas. Roque had been propped up in a chair and tied down by Jensen, though Aisha had offered to help. Cougar and Pooch were by the van, just watching, and Clay stood before Roque.
His friend. Fuck, his brother.
“He’s alive,” Jensen said. He stopped talking when he grew nervous, and his answers grew short and to the point. He chattered only when they had the luxury to chatter, when everything was assured and alright. Standing up from securing Roque’s feet, he hesitated, hand lingering against Roque’s shoulder before he stepped back. “Just - bell got rung. Tackled him. Didn’t think he was expecting me.”
“You were supposed to be inside getting the intel off their server.”
“I did, it’s all here, you wanna see? If you know how to do my job, why don’t - “
“Jensen,” Clay said.
Jensen quieted, though he glared in Aisha’s direction. “Yessir.”
“Wake him up.”
Jensen grabbed a bottle of water and splashed some over Roque’s face. Spluttering, Roque came to and stared at Clay for half a second.
“Well, fuck me sideways.”
Clay smirked, eyes hard and bitter. “I’m sure something to that effect could be arranged. Who the hell are you?”
“If you didn’t know who I was, Clay, you wouldn’t have dragged me out here. Where am I, anyway?”
“I’m gonna ask you one more time. Who. Are. You.”
Roque heaved a sigh. “Former Captain William Roque, Colonel Franklin Clay. You and I bet on chickens and lost a shit-ton of money in Bolivia. The question is, why the fuck were you there? Max’s files there are outdated. Surely you could’ve found another one of his warehouses to break into? Not blow my cover?”
“Cover?” Jensen repeated. Clay shot him a glance and he subsided.
Roque let out a sigh, and jerked his head at Aisha. “It was a back-up plan. I didn’t trust that bitch farther than I could throw you, Clay. Women screw with you and you never seem to learn. I told you I was there and I watched those kids burn, and you think I would’ve just let that go?”
“You betrayed us, Roque,” Cougar snarled, and that was more emotion from the sniper than Clay realized Cougar was able to express.
Roque spit on the ground. “Clay betrayed all of us first. Shit, none of you guys even cared! You sat there and just nodded your heads when this piece of tail waltzed in and led Clay around by the nose, and all of you were perfectly willing to stick with it. All of you had plenty of chances to make your way home. Max wouldn’t have you on his radar if Clay and Aisha hadn’t put you there.”
“We’re trying to make things right, Roque,” Clay growled.
Sneering, Roque looked around at them. “You, busted up old colonel, with three guys and a wild card, think you can take down the puppet-master of the CIA?”
“We can try.”
“You can goddamn fail, too,” Roque spat. “My way, at least I was on the inside, learning names, faces, shipment manifests, and other shit like that. I could’ve gone to the media, get everything out in the air. Not some covert, pseudo-black ops shit you guys are delusional with!”
“You DIED.” Jensen shifted nervously. “Look, I don’t care what the reasons were - you died, how the hell are you here in front of us?”
“You think I wouldn’t have an escape route?” Roque growled. “I know goddamn well how good you guys are.”
“You tried to kill me!” Clay snarled.
“You fucking wouldn’t listen to me!” Roque shouted right back. “I told and told you to walk away, to cut a deal with Max, to leave some wiggle room somewhere because goddamn, Clay, we are fucking soldiers and there better be some fucking grey in your world or you’re gonna get people killed with black and white!”
“We ready to go?”
Everyone turned to look at Aisha, who looked bored with the whole process. “What do you mean, go?” Clay asked.
She shrugged a shoulder. “Shoot him. Get in the van. Go. We’re wasting time and this is unnecessary.”
“We’re not gonna shoot him,” Jensen said immediately, followed by a worried glance at Clay.
Clay turned his back, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Clay, you’re not considering leaving him alive, are you?” Aisha asked, voice pointed. “He betrayed you once; he’ll do it again.”
“If you’d all fucking left when I told you and left the Port of LA alone, all of you would’ve been fine. I would’ve had my fucking eye, still,” Roque grumbled.
Cougar leaned forward. “How did you live?”
“Kicked the door of the cabin closed behind me. Crawled out of the wreckage and then was thrown by the secondary explosion.” Roque spat on the floor again. “Third-degree burns all over my legs and abdomen. Wanted to fucking die, but Max needed a second in command once you killed Wade.”
“And there you were, conveniently placed.” Pooch let out an incredulous huff.
“No where else to go,” Roque said, and his voice was stark and empty.
“No, Clay - no, just shoot him, get rid of the liability - “
“Get him in the van,” Clay said roughly. Turning to Aisha, he said baldly, “We gave you a second chance. He damn well deserves one more than you.”
“Does that mean I have to give back his knives?” Jensen asked.