It was the little things that first made Pooch aware that something was up with the tech and the sniper. The two were as different as night and day. Jensen was loud where Cougar was quiet. The sniper liked to go out to bars to pick up women and hustle frat boys at darts. The tech liked to stay in and beat frat boys in Call of Duty. Jensen was domestic and Cougar was not.
And what is meant by Jensen was domestic was that the boy could give Martha Stewart a run for her money. When the Losers had gotten a house on base, it was sparse. Only a few couches, the necessary beds, and the walls were bare. Then Jacob Jensen joined the team and suddenly the house felt like a home. Blankets appeared on the back of the couches while their rooms got repainted.
The driver had gone on leave for a week and had come back to his room repainted blue with the pictures of Jolene he had in a stack on his night table, framed and mounted on the wall. Pooch had walked down the hall to find the tech in Cougar's room in paint covered clothes with a sponge in his hand.
Cougar's room had always been just a place for the sniper to sleep. He always went back to the women's places when he picked them up. The only piece of furniture was the bed with one pillow and the olive Army issue blanket. The blonde had been sponge painting the wall a dark green.
It hadn't stopped there and by the time the end of Cougar's leave approached, the three Losers had camped out in their rooms to see Cougar's reaction. By the time the sniper had gotten back to the house, Jensen managed to acquire a book shelf, a night table, a dresser, and a gun cabinet. There were now several pillows on the bed as well as actual sheets and a black comforter. There were framed pictures on the walls that Jensen had taken while they'd been on mission. And as if to add to it, there was a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies on the night stand.
Pooch watched as Cougar walked into the room and dropped his duffle bag on the floor. It was the first time the driver had ever seen the sniper gape at something. He walked over to the bed and placed a hand on the blankets and pillows.
"Que?" Cougar asked.
"Jensen, man. I guess he spent his leave here and remodeled our rooms. He painted Roque's room in something called 'Cinnamon Bear'," Pooch explained. "And he put a Taser and pepper spray in the Colonel's night stand along with a list of emergency numbers."
The sniper had nodded as he picked up a cookie.
A few days later, Pooch had noticed that Cougar had started to follow Jensen everywhere. If the blonde went on a supply run at the commissary, he had a Spanish shadow. If he was in the kitchen, Cougar sat at the table reading the newspaper. If Jensen stayed in to watch horrible B-movies then Cougar would be next to him on the couch.
"I've never seen Cougar not go out. Usually he drops his bag in his room and we don't see him until the next morning," Pooch commented after Clay had ordered another round. "He didn't even want to come out with us tonight."
"I know!" Clay exclaimed. Although to be fair, he'd been doing shots since they arrived. "It gives me and Roque a better chance with the ladies."
"Ladies or crazy she demons?" Roque had retorted.
When he and Roque had managed to stumble back to the house, Cougar and Jensen were in the middle of a card game. Pooch had leaned in to see what they were playing. It was Magic: The Gathering. Jensen he could see playing it but Cougar, no way. Although the blonde was doing his best to explain it to the shorter man.
Pooch made note to have Jolene corner Jensen to find out what was going on.
The thing that made Clay aware that there was something between his tech and his sniper was the concussion Roque received. He had dismissed Pooch's claims of something odd going on since he had learned a long time ago not to wonder why Cougar did anything. And he would never admit that Cougar being around Jensen kept the tech out of trouble.
It had happened while they were all in the living room of the house they shared. Pooch was on his cell phone with Jolene while Clay sat in the easy chair draped in a quilt Jensen had made for him. Granted the quilt had some sort of odd creature on it but it was the thought that counted. Roque, Cougar, and Jensen sat on the couch. Cougar read while Roque and Jensen played some sort of video game that had zombies in it.
"JUST BECAUSE YOUR BRAINS AREN'T AS TASTY AS MINE, DOESN'T MEAN THEY WON'T COME AFTER YOU EITHER!" Jensen yelled and Clay looked at the television screen.
The avatars that the 2iC and the hacker had chosen ran across the screen as what could be construed as a horde of zombies shambled after them. The hacker's avatar, a blonde man with star shaped glasses, turned and tripped Roque's avatar, a man with a large knife. The gluttonous undead fell on the fallen digital man and proceeded to consume him.
"Jensen! That was unfair!" Roque snarled.
"Zombie food doesn't talk, Roque," Jensen replied with a matter of fact tone.
The 2iC stood and went to grab the hacker. Then he was on the ground. There was a dull thud as Roque's head hit the coffee table then the floor. Clay looked at Cougar and spotted the sniper as he pulled his foot back. Anyone would've looked at Roque first but Clay knew the large man was actually nimble on his feet.
Cougar just kept reading his book as Jensen went to put on his shoes to take Roque to the base hospital.
Roque began to suspect that there was something between the hacker and the sniper when Cougar came home with a practice schedule for the base's junior league soccer team. The Bragg Badgers hadn't had a coach since the previous one had been shipped off to Russia. So when Cougar would leave the house in exercise pants and a white t-shirt without the hat, Jensen wasn't far behind with healthy snacks and a cooler full of Gatorade.
The 2iC just thought that maybe it was something for Cougar to do until Happy Hour at the local bar. Then Cougar stopped going and told them that the first Badgers game was on a Saturday. It wasn't a request and it was also an order not to drink themselves into a hangover or allow Clay to go home with a volatile woman.
The day of the game he, Pooch, and Clay found themselves next to Jensen on the bleachers as the Badgers defeated the premier local pee wee team. After that he vowed to find out what was between the two. He'd seen the sniper exit the hacker's room in the wee hours of the morning while he dragged Clay to his room.
Roque set himself up on the landing with his cell phone and a glass of water. He had a perfect view of Jensen's and Cougar's rooms since they were side by side. His and Pooch's room were across from them while Clay's room was at the end of the hall. Jensen brought him a sandwich and chips when he came upstairs to go to bed.
The blonde left his door open so the glow of the laptop was visible. Roque heard the clicking of the keys and then the deliberate steps on the stairs as Cougar made his way to his room. The sniper raised an eyebrow as he stepped over Roque before he disappeared in his room and closed the door. A few moments later, the door opened, and Cougar exited.
The sniper had dressed in striped pajama pants and a black tank top. The hat was still on his head and Roque could understand that. He felt naked without at least three knives on him. Cougar entered Jensen's room and the 2iC craned his neck to get a better view.
"Hey, Cougs," Jensen greeted as he moved over on the bed. "I downloaded a few classic horror movies."
The sniper nodded as he took his hat off and placed it on Jensen's dresser before he took the spot Jensen had vacated. The hacker placed his movie laptop on the bed between them and settled on his side to watch. Roque knew that the hacker had several laptops. His entertainment laptops had loud stickers on them while his mission laptops were painted black.
He stayed on the landing through three movies. Cougar left after the third movie. He tipped his hat to Roque before he went back to his room and even Jensen powered down his laptop.
It was the lunches that tipped Cougar off that Jensen liked him. It had all started when Jensen had painted his room. The sniper had no idea what to do for a few days. He knew that Jensen wanted him to talk. The blonde had been trying to get Cougar to have a conversation with him since he'd waltzed into the house with his several laptops.
So when grocery day had rolled around, rather than giving Jensen a list, he'd gotten in the car, and went with him. The smile Jensen had plastered on his face made Cougar warm inside. He'd spent most of the trip silently following Jensen.
"So, I like Lucky Charms," Jensen commented when they reached the cereal aisle. "But the odd thing is that every time I buy a box it's empty in like three days."
"Lo siento," Cougar apologized. The sniper grabbed a bowl every morning.
"It's cool. I just need to buy the bigger box," the blonde said as he grabbed the bigger box. "What's your opinion on Pop Tarts?"
"Not a fan," Cougar admitted as Jensen bumped his shoulder.
Then the lunches started.
When they were on base, usually he'd eat in the mess hall. Jensen had been in the kitchen with two plates of spaghetti and meat balls on the table. It smelled homemade. The hacker had reached out and snagged the back of Cougar's jeans.
"I made lunch but made too much. Wanna help me eat it?" Jensen asked with his blue eyes trained on Cougar. "I promise it's edible."
"Si," Cougar had answered and sat down across from the hacker.
It was delicious.
After that the theme had been Cougar's favorite foods and he found out that Jensen had called Sra. Alvarez. The hacker managed to charm Cougar's Madre into giving him Alvarez Family Recipes. It was a welcome taste of home. His mother asked if Jensen wanted to come visit on the next leave.
Jensen realized that Cougar liked him back when he was in the basement as he reupholstered a chair for Mrs. Smith, who lived two doors down. The sniper had crept into the basement and placed his hat on Jensen's head before he'd pulled himself onto the table next to the chair. He smiled at the shorter man as he wiped his hands off on a rag.
He was not a man of action; he was a man of words. Although he could not find the words to ask Cougar if there was something between them. He did not want to know if he had misinterpreted Cougar's actions because he prided himself on being able to 'hear' what the sniper 'said'. At the same time his curiosity prodded at him to stop being a coward.
He tilted the hat up so the sniper could see his eyes before he stepped between Cougar's legs. He took Cougar's face in his hands and kissed him. Cougar's lips were soft and sweet under his chapped ones. He tried to convey what he couldn't put into words. He found himself pressed against the sniper as Cougar gripped his hips. Jensen placed his hands on either side of Cougar's legs.
"Yo se, amor," Cougar said when they broke apart.