Jake stands as still as he can, barely breathing. He's tied to a tree, so that helps, but the ropes are loose. Sloppy work – these assholes are complete amateurs. Why Clay ever thought they were linked to Max, Jake's got no idea – Max'd eat them for breakfast and spit out the pips. He scrapes in a breath and wants to squirm in the ropes, to work his hands free, but he has to stay still.
He tries not to think about the look on Cougar's face when he heard Jake'd made this bet with their guards, but it's an awesome plan – Jake's sure it'll work. It's gotten them both outside, gotten Cougar his rifle back – how can that be bad?
Cougar'd been furious with him, loosing a stream of gutter Spanish in which Jake's pretty sure he was called a shit-eater, a pubic hair, and a masturbating son of a whore. He resents that, as his mother actually was a whore so that was a low blow, not that he's told Cougar anything about her. He thinks he will, after this.
A slight twinge in his calf makes him wince and the apple on his head rocks, then settles. Jake exhales little by little and whimpers softly in frustration, but he can't move, can't speak, has to make it as easy for Cougar as he can. He knows Coug'll take the shot then use the moment to turn on their guards. He just has to wait. It's hard, though, not knowing when Cougar's going to fire.
Coug can totally ace this – he's managed more difficult shots in worse set-ups. Hell, he could probably split the atom at this range. Jake's not worried, he trusts Cougar, but damn, having to keep still and silent is driving him bananas.
He hears Cougar hissing in his ear again: "You don't move, you don't speak. Entiendes?"
Jake had said he understood and he knew Coug could do it, and Cougar had sniffed and waved a hand dismissively, "Si, es facil," he'd said. The guards had dragged Jake away then, Cougar shouting "don't fucking speak, you hear?" until one of the dirtbags backhanded him.
Jake sweats quietly and waits for Cougar to split the apple. He doesn't move and he doesn't speak.
It's a goddam apple again the next time.
They're in London, following the money trail to Max. The hotel's nice enough, complimentary fruit bowl and all, and Jake's made the mistake of assuming their luck's improved, kicking back in his boxers, laptop chewing code as the bank's layers of security fail to give way to his awesome cracker skillz, goddam it.
Cougar's got ears like a bat, so he hears it first - voices, he tells Jake later, out in the hallway. It's not the rest of the Losers - they're downtown, reconning that dill pickle dildo of a building where the CCI bank is.
Jake doesn't hear anything, caught up with eviscerating the third level security protocols, but he senses Cougar freeze. "What? Whassup, man? You're acting kinda weird there." He squints at Cougar, who's slipped silently off the bed and is stalking toward the door, gun in hand. "Something going on, Coug? What is it? Huh?"
As he passes Jake, Cougar grabs an apple from the fruit bowl and jams it into Jake's mouth. "Mmfph!"
Cougar rests a slender finger on his lips, and tilts his head at the door. Glaring, Jake focuses and finally, he can hear them too. Sounds like a couple of guys and they're arguing about which of them'll take point. He grabs his gun.
Cougar and Jake flank the door and Cougar saves the deadshits any further tactical angst by ripping the door open, dragging the lead jackass in by his gun arm and felling him with a vicious neck chop, while Jake holds the other jerk at gunpoint. The guy's eyes are bugged out and Jake figures he's never had a gun pointed at him before by someone in novelty boxers with an apple stuffed in their mouth like the Sunday roast. Probably helped shake him up some.
Still, when they've got the world's most useless intruders gagged, hogtied and stashed behind the couch until Clay or Aisha can shed some light on the whole clusterfuck, Jake turns to Cougar, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "An apple? Seriously? You're still pissed about that William Tell stunt I made you pull, aren't you?"
"Damn right," grunts Cougar, frowning at the trussed up dudes in the corner. "You talk too much sometimes. Need to listen more."
"Yeah, like I haven't heard that one before," Jake snorts. "You mean, I should listen to you, right?"
He's teasing Cougar, and he doesn't expect Coug to pivot and ram him back against the wall, vice-like grip on his upper arms. "Yes, you should listen to me."
And he really isn't expecting how much that's going to turn him on, but he flushes all the way down to his toes and Cougar sees it. Then Cougar's grabbing his neck, pulling him in for a kiss. It's all tongues and teeth and Cougar holds him there and grinds against him, sliding his mouth down Jake's throat and scraping his teeth along the tendon before sucking on his collar bone. Jake can't say anything, he just shudders.
"Yeah," says Cougar with satisfaction. "That shut you up."
The third time's in the Kingdom of Seadonia, an abandoned artillery platform turned duty free store and international banking node, off the UK coast outside territorial waters. The self-styled King Dave and his data-entry dude are trussed up in the next room – well, compartment; it's not like there are doors or shit – and Cougar and Jake are waiting for Clay to get them the access code to the bank's database. They've been waiting a while.
Jake's beginning to think trussing people up turns Cougar on – hell, he knows it turns him on. Cougar's slumped down in a swivel chair, hat pulled down and legs spread, so Jake slides to his knees and spins Cougar to face him.
He stares up, catching a gleam of eyes under the brim of the cowboy hat. Coug doesn't speak, but his mouth pulls up in a smirk and he slides down a little more, spreads his legs wider. Jake licks his lips. Green for go he thinks, grinning in return because Coug's green indeed, in the screen's reflected glow. Now's not the time to let the chance synchronicity of the universe distract him, though – he's on a mission.
"Okay, man, I'm goin' in," Jake mutters, undoing Cougar's pants.
"Wait." Cougar's hand's on his wrist, like a manacle. "We are live? On air?"
"Nah, not yet," Jake reassures him. "Take them a while to get the courier all lined up."
"We could go live any time, though, si?" Cougar's grip is still tight.
"Well, yeah, I guess. Timing's never too precise with these ops," Jake admits.
"So then, silencioso, like a ratón, a lil' mouse, yes?"
Jake never gets why people say that. In his experience mice are noisy fuckers, but maybe Coug never kept one as a pet, goddam wheel rattling away late into the night while a demented rodent hurtled on to nowhere and twelve year old Jake learned to hack. But, okay. "Sure, man, I'll be quiet."
Coug lets go his hand, and Jake runs a finger down Cougar's dick, a hard length in his pants. "Plus, I'm gonna have some help keeping quiet, right? You're gonna make me shut up, no?"
Cougar grips his jaw, tilts his face up, and pushes a finger into Jake's mouth. Jake sucks on it hungrily and Jesus fuck, that's all he needs to be hard and panting, moaning around Cougar's finger.
"Nuh-uh," murmurs Cougar, other hand cradling the back of Jake's head. "Silencioso, si?" Jake's scrabbling with Cougar's pants, and he shakes his head, momentarily confused, then nods frantically when Cougar's fingers tighten in his hair.
Then he has the goddam pants open and he pulls down underwear and gets out Cougar's cock, holding it like it's an ice cream cone, like it's candy. He wants to moan, to whimper, but he can't, so he just opens wide and slides down, filling his throat until he's half choking.
Coug doesn't make a sound, but hey, no surprises there. His breathing kicks up a notch, and he grips the back of Jake's head with both hands. Jake imagines Cougar holding him there and just going for it, fucking up hard into his throat. A stifled groan shudders through him, silent, and he takes his hand off Cougar's dick, pulls his other hand out of his own pants and locks them both behind his back. He's panting harshly, drooling a little as he focuses down on the cock filling his throat, making it all there is, overriding his gag reflex.
Cougar grunts like he's been gutted and his hips jerk up, making Jake's eyes stream. Then Coug's got his head in an iron grip, both hands, and he's rocking carefully forward, bending Jake backwards as he comes up onto the balls of his feet out of the chair, crouching over Jake who's kneeling, hands clasped behind his back, eyes shut, neck arched way back, his throat filled with Cougar's dick.
Jake trusts Cougar to do this right – hell, he trusts him with his life. He knows Coug won't bruise him too badly in the middle of a mission. Sure, his voice'll be a little hoarse when they go on line, but Clay'll just figure it's a crappy connection.
The deck's cold under Jake's knees, but he can't really feel anything except hot pulsing pleasure at the way Cougar's using him, fucking his throat with hard, controlled thrusts. He's in Cougar's hands.
After, he's still coughing and wiping his eyes when Coug pulls him back into the chair so he's straddling his lap, and kisses Jake's swollen mouth while he jerks him off. It only takes a few strokes before he spills, Cougar's mouth fierce on his, swallowing his moans.
Jake's got no words after that, he just slumps there while Cougar gentles him, stroking his back and his hair until eventually, inevitably, the laptop speakers crackle with Clay's voice and it's time to rumble.
They're somewhere in the Persian Gulf, edging toward the exclusion zone in the dark before dawn. Last chance to rest before the mission, even if only in bedrolls on the ship's metal deck. Clay's snoring loudly, but that's okay – they can use the cover. Cougar's zipped their bags together and the Losers are darker humped shapes in the blackness, but Jake's skittish, twitching when Clay moves or the snoring stutters. He doubts Aisha ever sleeps.
It might be the last chance they get, though – who knows what awaits once it's light, whether they'll make it, or push their luck past breaking point one final time.
"C'mere," murmurs Cougar, and slides a hand up Jake's side, under his shirt. Jake starts and almost squeaks, manages to half-swallow it. "Shhhh," whispers Cougar, and he strokes down Jake's back like he's a high-strung filly. Not that a horse'd fit in a sleeping bag, Jake thinks wildly - it's the goddam cowboy hat makes him imagine shit like that, and the way Cougar's horse-whispering him in Spanish, softly sibilant.
Cougar pulls him in and kisses him, slow and careful, and Jake relaxes into it, clinging onto Cougar and opening up, making small noises in his throat. Cougar slides his hand down Jake's waist, under his shirt, rubs the back of his knuckles across Jake's belly until he moans.
"No, querido," whispers Cougar, "No noise, entiendes?" He works Jake's pants open. "Gonna be quiet for me?"
Jake nods emphatically against Cougar's shoulder and Cougar kisses him again, sliding his tongue against Jake's. Then there's hot breath and the tickle of his mustache as he licks down Jake's jaw, kisses below his ear, bites him gently at the join of neck and shoulder.
Cougar's hand closes around Jake's dick and he thumbs slick wetness across the head, mouthing Jake's collarbone. Jake bucks in his grasp, tries to push up, but Cougar rolls them until he's curled behind Jake, spooning him.
It's all nudges and silent urging, and Jake lifts his hips to let Cougar slide his jeans down, feels that Coug's pants are pushed down as well, his cock snugged up in the crack of Jake's ass, nudging in behind his balls.
Jake turns his head and bites the musty bedding to smother his groans. Cougar's hand's stripping his cock fast and hard, and Coug's rutting against him, his cock bumping Jake's balls, making him want to rock further onto his face and pull his leg up, offering himself, mutely trusting. He can't, because Coug's got his dick in hand and there's too much motion as the ship rides the waves, Cougar holding them tight as they roll with the sway, using the ship's surges as he fucks the crack of Jake's ass.
Jake comes, grunting into his mouthful of bedroll as he pulses in Cougar's hand. Cougar clutches him and drives in hard between his legs, jerking against him. Messy, but he figures the bedrolls are a lost cause, anyway.
All that matters now is Cougar, and Jake turns to pull him in under his chin, arms tight around each other, feet tangling as they let themselves drift into a fitful sleep.
Clay's still snoring, Aisha's probably still listening, but Jake doesn't care.
It's a year later. Jake misses Cougar every day – he even misses Clay, sometimes. He doesn't miss Aisha.
He was almost doing okay until that dick Stegler dropped by, trying to drag him and Pooch back into Agency black ops. Should have punched the asshole out, not just told him to fuck off.
So now Jake's all messed up, rolling around in his bed at the villa, pacing the room, bare feet slapping the tiled floor.
He tries all his stand-bys – the latest RPG, some tech blogs he follows. The words on the screen blur, turn meaningless.
Jake flops back on his bed again. He stares up at the shadowy ceiling then looks across at the French doors standing open on the balcony – indigo sky and a bright scatter of stars.
He gets up and goes outside. No breeze and it's warm, typical Antigua weather for this time of year, the villa dark and silent. He listens, but there's no sleeping sounds from Pooch or Jolene, and the kids' room is quiet. Waves hiss and tumble on the beach below, like the ocean's breathing.
Dark of the moon, so there's only starlight and he can't see much – the sea, a darker mass than the sky, black shadows from palm thickets close to the house, a brief gleam of light off Jolene's SUV below.
Jake scrubs a hand through his hair, feeling tired and hollowed out. He turns back into the house. Maybe he'll see if Jenn's on-line; she might still be up.
As his hand touches the doorjamb, there's a faint noise from the balcony. He spins, falling into a crouch. Pooch's been making him brush up his moves lately, practice kata after kata, saying Jake's getting soft. Like he can talk, what with Jolene's cooking.
It's bad, what he sees. Just a black shape against the faintly starlit night, but it means he's finally lost it.
The hat's unmistakable, but then, anyone could pick one up for a dollar at the markets. No, it's the whole shape that's silhouetted there, the way he's slouching, the set of his shoulders. Fucking Cougar.
"Yeah, okay, so I've gotta be seeing things," Jake mutters to himself, rubbing his eyes hard enough to bring on bright flashes. Still there. He raises his voice. "What is this, huh? You think it's a fucking joke? Coming here like that, with the," – he flails at the hat – "and, and all. Who the fuck are you?" His voice rises at the end there, almost breaking, and crap, he's gotta get a grip. "Some fucking Agency bullshit, is it? We sent Stegler packing, so you can just f–"
"Jensen," says the man, and oh god, it even sounds like Coug.
Jake takes a stumbling step back. "No, you do not get to, to dress up and come here to mess with me, you fucker. You're Agency, right? Or maybe the Sheik finally tracked us down, I don't fucking know." One more step and he can dive for his sidearm on the nightstand.
He doesn't get the chance. The guy's fast, he's way too fast, and he's got Jake pinned up against the wall, in a…hug? Okay, that's not any martial arts move Jake's familiar with, and he realizes he could knee the bastard in the balls. His arms are free, he could break his neck…he could…
Jake's arms go around the guy in spite of himself, because he smells like Cougar. The scent slots into some primitive part of Jake's brain like a goddam key and that's it, game over, he's hugging back tightly, his cheeks wet, gasping out Cougar's name.
Jake turns them around so Coug's facing the starlight, and tips up the hat. Cougar's face is wet, too, and he's smiling, touching Jake's cheek. "Right," Jake mutters, "I finally cracked, huh? Or this is a really vivid dream?"
"Not a dream, querido," Cougar whispers, voice hoarse, and he hauls Jake into another crushing hug. Jake can feel their hearts beating together. His is faster.
"But how?" Jake asks, pleading, pushing Cougar back a little to peer at his face. "How can you? How can this? You were–"
Cougar rests a long finger on his lips. His eyes, tipped up to the night sky, are black pools filled with stars. "Don't ask." His arms tighten. Jake's not sure he wants to know, and he's missed this so fucking much, being in Cougar's hands.
Jake pushes his face into Cougar's neck, breathes deep and lets himself be held.
He doesn't ask.
- the end -