Cougar watched Jensen from over the top of his book. Their barracks on this base were small, and Jensen was fidgeting more than usual, and with a slightly expectant air. It was distracting. Cougar suspected shenanigans, but as both he and Pooch were unharmed – at the moment at least – and Jensen's fidgeting was only of the 'something's going down soon' variety and not the 'quick take cover' kind, he figured it was none of his concern. At least not yet. He turned a page in his book and went back to reading, but didn't get far.
"Jensen!" Clay barked as he stormed into the barracks.
"It wasn't me, Cougar did it," Jensen said, pointing at him from across the room. Cougar looked up from his book, but didn't outright deny anything - he wanted to see where this was going. Besides, he'd learned long ago not to jump to denial too soon when Jensen was involved.
Clay stopped in his tracks, whatever else he was about to say dying in the face of Jensen's too quick and obviously false betrayal. He looked from Jensen to Cougar, who looked back with a studiously blank expression (the one he used when he was fleecing them all at poker, the one that said 'nothing to see here, nothing up my sleeve'), then at Pooch, who raised his hands in a 'don't drag me into this' gesture, then back to Jensen. Cougar watched Clay collect his thoughts, settle on the best plan of attack. Jensen, for his part, was uncharacteristically still, like small prey that's scented danger on the wind.
"Cougar," Clay began, voice dripping with disbelief, "replaced all of Roque's identifying information – including his picture – in the Army databanks and on his personal military ID with Ariel from The Little Mermaid?"
Cougar would love to know how Jensen had got his hands on Roque's personal ID without dying or losing a limb. Except not really, because plausible deniability was the better part of valor where things like this were concerned. Pooch made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a laugh poorly disguised as a cough, and Cougar very deliberately did not make eye contact with him.
"No, of course not, why would he?" Jensen scoffed, actually scoffed, and Cougar had never heard anyone do that in real life before.
"Well, you wouldn't happen to know who did, would you? Because now the MPs won't let him back on base because he doesn't match his picture." The side of Clay's mouth twitched in what might have been a smile, but definitely wasn't because they all knew better than to encourage Jensen.
Except Pooch. Pooch cackled with laughter. Cougar maintained his poker face.
And of course the MPs weren't letting Roque back in. They'd all been here long enough that the MPs – hell, half the damn base – had bought into this thing going on between Roque and Jensen. There were scorecards for crying out loud. Not that Cougar would ever admit to actually seeing one (they were pretty sweet, done in color and laminated on one side so they wouldn't tear). He certainly didn't have one tucked into the inside of his hat.
"I would try Evans, sir, from the B Company. He's got those shifty eyes. Plus, I'm pretty sure Roque growled at him last week; he's probably been planning his revenge ever since. Twitchy little guys like that? They hold a grudge, man."
Pooch was having a hard time breathing. Cougar maintained his poker face.
"Right," Clay said flatly, obviously not buying a word of it. "Do me a favor, tell 'Evans' to change it back. We leave at 16:00 hours and need Roque with us. I'm sure he's sorry for whatever it was he did to 'Evans'."
"I'll try, sir, but I heard Evans telling Short and Jaenada that he'd make Roque pay for what he'd done. It can be hard to turn a man from that kind of thinking. Revenge is a blood-thirsty mistress."
Pooch, who'd managed to get his laughter somewhat under control, broke up again. Cougar was all about the poker face. Clay sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose, and Cougar thought he was doing an admirable job of not outright strangling Jensen.
"Just fix it, Jensen, before we have to leave."
"I'll see what I can do, sir."
Clay left, presumably in search of aspirin or alcohol (or both), and Jensen went to work on his computer, humming something with a vaguely Caribbean feel. Pooch opened his email, no doubt to tell Jolene about the latest strike in the Jensen/Roque War. Cougar smirked and went back to his book, wondering how long Jensen would keep Roque from getting back on base, and what this would do the points spread.