merry_gentry: From 'The Losers' (Cougar)
[personal profile] merry_gentry
Title: A Little Small Talk, A Smile (and, Baby, I Was Stuck) 1/1
Author: [personal profile] merry_gentry
Fandom: Film - The Losers
Pairing: Main - Jensen/Cougar. Background - Pooch/Jolene, Clay/Aisha
Rating: 15/R, I guess
Word Count: 4,553 - according to Word.
Disclaimer: Not mine...damnit!
Author's Notes: Written for [community profile] the_losers_2010's LosersFest for the prompt - "Jensen/Cougar, Everyone thinks they're fucking. They don't need to explain the truth." My Spanish is shite and was looked up on babelfish - I apologise if anything's terribly wrong.

Set pre-2010 movie. Comments and con.crit welcomed.

Summary: It gets to the point where Jensen can carry on a whole conversation with the man with Cougar saying less than twenty words and only threatening to shoot Jensen once or twice a week. It’s easy, this slide into possible-friendship – because that’s all this is, no matter which way Jensen looks at it; just friendship – and sometimes Jensen has to wonder why.




The Urban Dictionary defines bromance as describing the ‘complicated love and affection shared by two straight males’ and as being a ‘close relationship between two bros to such a point where they start to seem like a couple’.

Honestly? Jensen thinks that’s a pile of shit. If asked, he’d explain (at length) that the term ‘bromance’ was a cop-out, a way of reconciling your undeniably homoerotic feelings for your straight buddy without having to admit to the gay-gay-so-very-gay-ness of it all.

It’s probably, Jensen sometimes thinks, a government conspiracy, right up there along with Elvis’ disappearance and the cover-ups of alien abduction.

See, now, Jensen loves his team – all of them. He’s not afraid to admit that he loves Clay like the father he never had and that he loves Pooch like a brother – adores Jolene probably a bit more than is strictly appropriate. He even loves Roque, despite the fact that Roque is a scary, scary man with an unhealthy obsession with knives (the bigger the better…which is blatantly over-compensating for something) and a poker face to rival all poker faces. And Jensen adores Pooch’s as-yet-unborn kids – simply because, with Pooch and Jolene as parents and the rest of them as honorary uncles? There’s no way those kids are going to be anything but fucking amazing people and go on to rule the country or save the whales or some shit.

But more than the others, Jensen loves Cougar. He may have even followed the man around like a puppy for the first week after Jensen joined the team – until Jensen got over himself and his worries about Clay deciding he wasn’t good enough and the fact that Cougar was the coolest man alive! Jake Jensen’s never really been friends with the cool kids before. Guys in the math club and the computer geeks, sure – but not with anyone like Cougar. The guy is, like, a fricking legend with that rifle of his and the women swarm him even though he’s got that whole vow of silence schtick going on sometimes (and this is before the whole Bolivia clusterfuck, even. Cougar’s always been a man of few words).

In fact, they probably swarm him because of that. Jensen’s sister is living proof of the fact that most women? Love to talk about themselves.

And, y’know, there’s also that whole tall, dark and handsome thing.

Point is, Cougar’s the best friend Jensen’s had since he was six and spent all his time with Henry – who was totally awesome and played all their games properly instead of trying to twist it into a game of house like Jensen’s sister did. He also thought (like Jensen did at the time) that girls were icky and sissy and gross.

(Henry was, strictly speaking, a figment of Jensen’s six-year-old imagination but what the fuck ever. He was still an awesome friend.)

And after that first week of Jensen trying every which way of ingratiating himself with the man and being assigned to bunk with Cougar courtesy of one Colonel Franklin Clay (so, really? This is totally all Clay’s fault), Cougar actually started to listen to Jensen. Not just the ‘yeah-sure-uh-huh’ thing that most people adopt in self-defence around Jensen (he may be a little socially retarded sometimes, but he’s not a complete idiot and he does notice things like people blocking him out in fear for their sanity) but actual listening-and-responding – albeit in half-nods and mumbled Spanglish.

It gets to the point where Jensen can carry on a whole conversation with the man with Cougar saying less than twenty words and only threatening to shoot Jensen once or twice a week. It’s easy, this slide into possible-friendship – because that’s all this is, no matter which way Jensen looks at it; just friendship – and sometimes Jensen has to wonder why.

***


It’s Roque who points it out.

The thing about Roque is that he’s just plain mean sometimes. Roque has this tendency to pick at people when he’s bored, to wind them up and watch them go just for his own – and Clay’s – amusement. That’s because Roque is, as Jensen’s told Cougar many times, an unmitigated psycho who’s going to probably kill them all one night while they’re sleeping all calm and peaceful and shit like little babies in their beds. He is, however, their psycho, Clay’s XO and as good as an older brother to Pooch, Cougar and Jensen…not to mention that it’s really fucking funny when Roque and Jolene pretend to flirt solely for the pleasure of annoying Pooch, so whatever.

“You’re like an old, married couple,” Roque says with a slam of his hand down on the table to punctuate his point. He says it like it’s perfectly obvious and a normal thing to think and not, you know, completely batshit insane.

They’re stuck in an old, one-room hut – the five of them in this dirt-floor, shot-up walls barely standing deal – in the middle of a mission, and Jensen knows he’s not the only one going a little bit stir crazy, but this is ridiculous. And, really? Is this the time for this shit? Besides, him and Cougar totally haven’t known each other long enough to be an old married couple…

Even if to say otherwise in present company would invite comparisons as to them being a young married couple instead, and that way lies thoughts of newlyweds and sex and…

Heh. Tangent.

“You’re an idiot,” Jensen says – a second too slow, but how do you even respond to that? – and with what he hopes is coming off as dignity instead of petulance. “Like, amoebas have more common sense than you.”

“Nah, man – it totally makes sense,” Pooch chimes in with an evil, vindictive grin plastered all over his face.

Jensen takes it all back – he hates Roque, he hates Pooch, and Jolene’s kids are going to need to extra-help from Jensen and Cougar to turn out awesome if they’re going to be stuck with Pooch as their dad. Poor things. Not yet a glimmer in their daddy’s eye and they’re already doomed.

“Y’know, you’re an idiot too. In fact, I’m gonna email Jolene and tell her she married an idiot. Then we’ll see who’s laughing, won’t we?”

Pooch laughs, totally unconcerned. It’s as annoying as fuck. “She already knows. ‘Sides my girl’d kick your ass for disparagin’ her man.”

Jensen blows a raspberry at him (and closes the email on his laptop because, oh God, Jolene totally would) and reaches for his water canteen. He remembers just as he’s tipping it up that the damn thing’s empty but before he can get up to go and fill it, Cougar’s passing over his – full to the brim with slightly tepid, but still very welcome, water. Jensen drinks and passes it back with the cap still off, because Cougar never drinks enough to keep a mouse hydrated when he’s left to his own devices and Jensen knows from previous experience that this way Cougar’ll automatically take a drink before he caps the canteen. Sure enough, Cougar swallows a couple of mouthfuls and twists the cap back on and places the canteen back on the ground by his side.

The whole time, Cougar hasn’t looked away from the eyepiece of his rifle’s scope and Jensen hasn’t turned around, but they haven’t missed a beat. It’s just because they’ve known each other for so long, great minds thinking in sync and all that. Right?

Right.

Only, then Jensen looks up from his second favourite laptop – his first is safe and sound back at base – to Roque and Pooch and their grins of insanity and weird, screwby theories.

“Go fuck…” is all he manages before the door bangs open and Clay comes in – loaded for bear as per.

“Cougar, you’re up,” the boss says and Cougar hauls himself up and onto his feet and shoulders his rifle, sketches a salute that’s really more a tip of his hat brim, and moves on out for his patrol.

Except…except he has to pass behind Jensen to leave and Cougar’s got this thing he does where he rests a hand on Jensen’s shoulder as he passes and his fingers trail across the back of Jensen’s neck just under his hair as he takes his hand away. It’s just Cougar telling Jensen he’s leaving the way he always does because sometimes Jensen gets so lost in decoding and shit that he can get a little disorientated if he looks up and someone’s vanished without a word. It’s normal and Cougar’s done it countless times in the two-plus years Jensen’s been on this team and so what if Jensen leans a little into the touch every now and then?

Except Cougar’s never done it just after Roque and Pooch have started to expound on their weirdo theories about old married couples.

“Screw you!” Jensen shouts after him, cursing the bastard for leaving him here like that with the rest of their team so he has to face their madness alone – because Cougar did it deliberately this time, and Jensen could swear that he can hear Cougar’s gravely chuckle as the door slams shut behind the other man.

And so he’s left with Roque and Pooch grinning at him with their huge, shit-eating grins and Clay looking like he’s torn between wanting to know and wanting to commit them all to the nearest insane asylum, like, asap.

Bring on the mocking.

***


Now Roque’s brought it up, though, Jensen can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not just the brush of Cougar’s hand against his shoulder and neck when the other man leaves a room, it’s the way Jensen keeps looking up and realising there’s never really more than five foot between the two of them. Which totally isn’t all Jensen’s fault – Cougar’s hardly free from blame what with the way he leans against the wall next to where Jensen’s sitting or the way he’s always sliding into the seat next to Jensen in the Humvee.

And, okay, Jensen’s always been a bit too touchy-feely, but it’s Cougar. Jensen’s mind has a tendency to be a bit hyperactive sometimes and Cougar’s like…He’s like dead space. He’s always calm and it makes Jensen calm down, somehow.

Which is a good thing, ‘cause Roque and Pooch and the Colonel have all threatened bodily harm if Jensen doesn’t stop fidgeting all the damn time.

(Sometimes, Jensen gets the feeling that he amuses Cougar a little too much. Whatever. None of them are totally sane anyway and you’ve got to your kicks where you can.)

So maybe Jensen can see why people would think him and Cougar are fucking. When he actually thinks about it, most people don’t touch as often as they do unless there’s something there. Like, they’ll be in a bar somewhere (America, Australia, where-the-fuck-ever) and Cougar will crowd in close to Jensen to get the bartender’s attention – and his hand will be resting on Jensen’s hip. Or they’ll be in a crowd and Jensen’ll have to lean in closer to catch the (very, very) occasional thing Cougar says and his hand just automatically goes to the small of Cougar’s back for, like, balance or whatever.

He tries to stop – forces himself to back off and keep further away than arm’s distance – but Cougar just looks at him from under the brim of his hat like all of a sudden Jensen’s doing something wrong. And then Cougar crowds in closer like he’s checking to make sure Jensen’s not sick or something.

So…that worked. In a way that totally didn’t.

***


They’re at this bar in Argentina one evening – Roque and Clay and Pooch hustling the locals over by the pool tables and Jensen being his most charming and witty and suave (James Bond who?) to two very lovely señoritas with Cougar by his side. Cougar’s not saying much – as per usual – and what he is saying is in Spanish…and Jensen was never very good at Spanish. Still, the one on the right did her degree in England and so she’s more than passably decent in English and more amused than annoyed by Jensen’s lack of fluency.

Jensen is so scoring tonight.

Then she sits back against the back of the opposite seat and whispers something to her friend and her friend’s eyes go wide with realisation.

“Ah,” she says. “Amantes?”

Aman-what now?” Jensen asks. He doesn’t twig until Cougar, sitting next to him, gently pulls Jensen’s hand off his wrist. Which, apparently, he’d grabbed as he was explaining something? And was stroking at with his thumb, apparently, because Jensen’s always fidgeting, isn’t he?

“You should have said!” the girl Jensen was talking to says. She grins at him. “You make a very, hmm, cute couple, si?”

“No, we’re not…I’m…we’re just really good friends and…”

Next to him, Cougar’s tilted the brim of his hat further down but Jensen can still see him grinning and his shoulders are shaking as he laughs and that? That’s just plain un-fucking-helpful. Bastard.

The other girl beams at the two of them, and the two of them get up and head to the bar, turning and waving at Jensen and Cougar as they go.

“Oh, thanks for all your help!” Jensen moans with as much sarcasm as he can manage. He lets his head fall down to rest on his folded arms on the table just to emphasise his enormous levels of depression.

Cougar shrugs. “Don’ mind.” He tousles Jensen’s hair and slides out of the booth. “C’mon. We’ll get some tequila, hmm?”

“Can we watch TV and mock the badly dubbed American programmes?”

Si,” Cougar says indulgently and he smiles at Jensen as they push their way back onto the street and Jensen finds himself smiling hopelessly back. He leans in close to Cougar as he details all the ways he’s so very, very awesome as they walk down the street and the other man rests his hand flat against the small of Jensen’s back to steer him through the crowds.

“I was this close, y’know? Tonight, man, it was going to be amazing! And don’t give me that look – I would have totally rocked her world.”

“Uh-huh.”

***


The thing is, that’s not even close to the first or last time it happens by, like, a long way. Almost every bar, every time they’re on leave…like clockwork. It starts to get a little ridiculous.

“People just don’t understand,” Jensen says once. They’re in their quarters on base and Cougar’s cleaning his rifle with one of Pooch’s old, threadbare T-shirts while Jensen’s hooking up not entirely legally to the base’s shitty wi-fi and attempting to IM his sister.

Cougar looks up. He’s not wearing his hat for once but all that means is that Jensen gets a full-on view of the ‘my insane team-mate’s off on another tangent’ look on Cougar’s face. Which, to be fair, Jensen had been talking about…something…something else before he remembered libo in Sydney and the girl behind the bar who’d flat out asked what Jensen’s ‘tall, dark and silent boyfriend’ would be having.

Maybe on-base isn’t the best place to be talking about this, even if Jensen is awesome at talking in code.

“Y’know,” he says. “Roque’s Insane Theory.”

It deserves the capital letters, almost. It’s just that insane. Apparently Cougs doesn’t think so ‘cause he wrinkles his nose just a little. Jensen’s gonna choose to interpret that as “Roque’s mental” with a healthy side helping of “I agree with you totally, Jensen” and not even a little bit of “not this shit again”.

“What I’m saying is,” Jensen says, “people just don’t get it. You an’ me, it’s like. The whole team, okay, we’re like one fucked up family. But you an’ me are like brothers, man, y’know. Fuck, closer than that even. And it’s totally understandable. Guys saving each other in the field and stuff. Creates a bond, doesn’t it? Like, it doesn’t matter if we’re close or not, and as for this whole bullshit ‘bromance’ thing…”

Round about this point, Jensen establishes contact with his sister and stops paying attention to the words coming out of his mouth like he almost always does. So, really, it’s kind of understandable that’s he’s what one might call shocked when Cougar, instead of half-listening quietly like he always does, gently places his reassembled rifle down on his bunk and leans forward to press a strangely chaste kiss to Jensen’s still-talking mouth. Then Cougs stands up, towering over Jensen for a moment, and storms out, slamming the door behind him and leaving Jensen sitting with his mouth agape and swallowing flies.

You’re a fucking moron, and I’m disowning you, Jensen’s sister IM’s him when he tells her what happened and maybe – maybe – begs for her advice…and then she logs off and disappears.

Which…what?

…And people say that Jensen’s the weird one. Clearly he has nothing on his sister when it comes to random acts of insanity.

***


So…yeah. Things get a little awkward after that.

***


(Aisha asks Jensen once, a couple of months after the whole Port of LA-slash-Roque being a backstabbing traitor thing, how none of his team have got around to throttling him to death yet just to stop him talking. She’d been looking over at Cougar as she asked because Aisha’s not stupid and she knows that something’s going on there – and that’s one of the few times in his life that Jensen honestly hadn’t been able to find anything to say.)

***


Things don’t stay awkward for more than seven months, though, because Jensen has an awesome team.

(Well, it’s either that or call them fucked up, psychotic motherfuckers to their faces and Jensen would really rather not be shanked in his sleep.)

Clay takes to pairing Jensen and Cougar off even more than usual – Pooch usually has to stay with whatever messed up mode of transport they’re currently using for the mission du jour and Roque has this mother-hen thing going on when it comes to Clay and none of the five of them have had a problem with this arrangement before. And while Jensen knows that Cougar’s still got his back – will always have his back, even if Jensen, like, blows up nine-tenths of a solar system – it doesn’t work, ‘cause Cougar’s refusing to talk to Jensen and Jensen…

…Well, he’s starting to miss all the little things. The brush of Cougar’s hand against his shoulder as the other man leaves the room and the water canteen thing and every one of a hundred other little things that he never even noticed between him and Cougar until they just…stopped.

It’s the silence that’s worse than anything else. It’s not the whole “I’m not talking because I’m preserving my air of a stoic man of mystery” thing, and it’s nothing like the complete shut-down horrible silence post-screwed up Bolivian mission that Jensen doesn’t even have forebodings about yet, let alone actual battle plans drawn up for how to cope with Cougar’s nightmares.

It’s more…hurt-and-embarrassed silence and the funny thing is that Jensen thought Cougar never got embarrassed. About anything.

It’s fucked up and no amount of Jensen’s patented babble can cover the gaps where Cougar should be saying something or, like, nodding his head meaningfully.

***


The next leave they get, Cougar doesn’t go up to New Hampshire with Jensen to visit Jensen’s family before he takes off by himself. Bethany asks somewhat plaintively when ‘Uncle Cougs’ is coming and Jensen would be offended at the thought that maybe Bethie likes Cougar better than him…if he wasn’t missing Cougar just as much as Bethie is.

On the last night he’s there, Nikki pins Jensen to the wall with one outstretched hand and a glare that has Jensen trying to burrow back through the wall with his shoulder blades.

“Fix it,” she hisses. “Whatever you did, make it right, Jake, or I’ll start talking to Clay.”

Which? Clay and Jensen’s sister conspiring together? Is just a scary, scary thing to think about.

***


Thing is, if it was just sex and only sex? Then Jensen thinks that maybe this friendship probably wouldn’t be as tightly knit, as solid, as it is. Was. Fuck.

Or maybe he and Cougar would be closer than ever. Who knows.

There’s just one problem and that’s that Jensen’s seen the way Clay and his women (and the occasional man) end up. And he’s seen how Jolene refused a promotion in the Navy after she married Pooch and how she got her honourable discharge not long after that and how she’d then turned around and accepted an extremely well-paid job in civvie world. Mixing work and sex complicates things and has a high chance of ending in explosions.

Jensen doesn’t want to get exploded – and he doesn’t want to transfer off team if things go sour. He likes this team, this screwed-up bunch of insane and primarily adrenaline-fuelled maniacs that no other branch of the military will touch with a barge pole with a taser duct-taped to the end.

Not that Jensen’s worried about screwing anything up – not more than he already has because Cougar’s not talking to him, Pooch is ready to sic Jolene on him and Roque keeps trying to give Jensen pep talks. That is, if ‘screw this up any further and I shoot you’ and ‘do something before I shoot you’ can be classified as pep talks. Roque is nothing if not consistant.

Roque is, as has already been noted by Jensen many, many times, scary beyond all reason when he wants to be. Which is, y’know, most of the time. He reminds Jensen of Jayne from Firefly – he’s just as well armed and as psychotic and badly tempered and as fixated on his boss’ lovelife…

Clay and Roque…now there’s potential for some terrifying fireworks. Jensen gets the feeling that Roque would be one possessive motherfucker (he’s seen the way the man coos over his damned knives, okay, and he’d probably be worse in a relationship…although it would be a near thing. Roque is weirdly touchy-feely with his sharp, shiny blades of death) and Clay isn’t exactly the monogamous type…

If Jensen has completely fucked his friendship with Cougar, at least he knows Clay and Roque couldn’t have done any better.

Cold comfort, that.

***


It’s two days after the team’s back together from leave that Jensen gets a second alone with Cougar. Their sniper’s been slipping out of rooms like a shadow as soon as Jensen so much as looks at him and he won’t even acknowledge Jensen’s existence. Jensen’s maybe a little bit surprised at how much that hurts.

“Please,” Jensen starts because he honestly doesn’t know what else to say. Cougar stops on his way out yet another fucking room but he doesn’t turn around. “Just…I’m sorry, okay? I don’t…I don’t know what I did to upset you and I know I fucked up but I don’t know how and – Bethany really missed you, y’know? So did Nikki…”

“Did you?” Cougar asks and Jensen swallows against a suddenly dry throat. “You miss me, Jensen?”

“Did I…yeah, man. ‘Course I did. You’re like – shit, Cougs. You’re like my best friend, okay? And I thought – I didn’t know…”

Cougar turns, finally, to lean against the doorframe and look at Jensen from under the brim of his hat and Jensen… Jensen suddenly hates that hat more than anything else on the face of the planet because he has no idea what’s running through Cougar’s mind and the hat means he can’t see Cougar’s face and get clues from the occasional teeny-tiny twitch at the corner of Cougar’s mouth (happy) or his eyebrow (majorly pissed off).

“Didn’t know what?” Cougar asks, voice low and quiet and gravelly and Jensen needs a hug. Like, honest-to-God, tears stinging his eyes, needs a hug. He’s fucking screwed if Roque or Pooch find out but right in this very second he doesn’t care because he’s lost his best friend – had, in fact, lost him over half a year ago – and Jensen just doesn’t know what to do with that.

“That you…I…”

Cougar sighs, rise and fall of his chest, and Jensen jumps up because he just can’t stay still – hesitates for a nanosecond, then pushes himself forward enough that he ends up crowding Cougs against the doorframe. Cougar’s shorter than Jensen is – Jensen knows that but it always manages to surprise him when it’s sprung on him like this.

Cougar looks up, straightening so that they’re almost, but not quite, eye to eye. He leans in and Jensen’s never known anyone braver than Cougar is right this second, not ever…except maybe his sister after the whole Tommy-the-asshole situation. Cougs presses his mouth to Jensen’s in that same strangely chaste kiss from before and this time Jensen’s with the program, he’s there, his hands landing to rest on Cougar’s too-bony hips as Jensen presses back into the kiss.

“Get it now?” Cougar whispers and Jensen swallows a nervous, exhilarated laugh. He reaches, instead, to rub the pad of his thumb over the line of Cougar’s bottom lip.

“I’m an idiot, okay?” he says and grins when that gets a half-smile from Cougar.

“Already knew that, mi corazon,” Cougs says, huffing a little chuckle and moving his head just enough to nuzzle at Jensen’s hand.

“Pet names already? How cute – I think I might cry,” Jensen says, because he’s never been able to not run his mouth, but Cougar just shrugs.

“You mind? Can always call you idiota instead.”

Yeah. Jensen doesn’t even have to think about that one.

Mi corazon, huh? I like it.”

He would say more, words already bubbling up uncontrollably to the front of his mind, but then Cougar rolls his eyes and hauls Jensen in close, pressing their mouths together in another kiss – this one a little more than just chaste.

***


The next time they get leave, Cougar goes with Jensen to New Hampshire. Nikki smacks Jensen on the back of his head and pulls Cougar into a tight hug. She tells him that he doesn’t have to put up with her stupid fucking idiot of a brother if he doesn’t want to and Cougar just smirks at Jensen’s dumbfounded goldfish impression and slips his hand into Jensen’s, their fingers lacing together.

***


Jensen honestly doesn’t know what to say when Aisha asks him why his team haven’t throttled him yet because, really? He honestly doesn’t know. He follows her line of sight over to Cougar and says;

“I don’t know. But I’m glad they haven’t.”

“Well, obviously,” Aisha huffs – but she sees the look Cougar gives Jensen and the way Jensen’s blush spreads down under the neck of his T-shirt (today’s is green with the three steps of zombie killing on the front – Aisha is amused). Also, the way Jensen is slowly but surely inching his way over to the other man is worse than useless in an attempt at being subtle.

She ducks her head to look down at the knife she’s sharpening and bites at her bottom lip to hide her grin. When Clay saunters over later with a half-full bottle of whiskey and failing at trying to look casual, Aisha lets herself give him a little smile and thinks that maybe, maybe it doesn’t have to be kept to just sex. Maybe it can be more than that, if she wants it to be.

Date: 2010-09-06 07:37 pm (UTC)
astoryandasong: (Default)
From: [personal profile] astoryandasong
I love this:-)

A little Small talk...

Date: 2011-03-28 08:34 pm (UTC)
ext_592500: (Default)
From: [identity profile] frkmgnt1.livejournal.com
I love the idea of clueless Jensen in this situation. Most stories seem to portray it in the opposite fashion, and don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like those. It's just nice to see it play this way. Both characters are portrayed very well.

Excellent work and thanks for sharing!

Date: 2011-09-20 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elle-rahen.livejournal.com
I loved this so much!

August 2011

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