Welcom to the Jungle
A/N: So, there was a poll. On my lj. People ticked boxes. This is what won. Have fun and thank you for all the lovely reviews.
+Welcome to the Jungle
In which there is a dead special ops team in Buffy’s living room. At three in the morning. (Or: Congrats, we’ve finally made it past the movie!)
Aisha held herself very still and kept a look-out for anyone that might have followed them while they all waited for Clay to pick the lock. They were crowded together in a quaint little backyard in suburbia after a break-in gone wrong.
They’d had some intel on a firm that supposedly kept some of Max’s dirty laundry packed away in its basement and had tried to get at it. Only their informant hadn’t been quite as informative as they’d thought and shit had blown up in their faces. Par for the course actually, these days.
Still, Aisha was not pleased, especially since their exit strategy had been changed by Clay in mid-flight. Instead of scatter and go to ground
it was now Mom lives an hour from here, let’s go
Aisha had no idea who Mom was, apart from what Pooch had mumbled, which was that she was a former Loser. A retired army woman. Great. Not that Aisha had anything against kickass women, being one herself, but anyone nicknamed Mom
couldn’t be all that helpful when shit got hot.
Right now, shit was very hot.
“Boss,” Jensen muttered out of the corner of his mouth, “With all due respect, I’d really feel better if we could get the fuck out of the open. Sir.”
She snorted quietly. Jensen was a total goof ball and annoyed her to no end most of the time, especially with shit like this, but he’s saved her life tonight by stabbing a guy to death, so she tolerated him. He had his uses.
“Soldier,” Clay snapped, “Shut the fuck up.”
Then he finally managed to move the last tumbler and the glass door slid open. They all crowded into a moderately sized living room. It was dark, but Aisha could make out a stylish mix of modern and old, pictures on the mantle. It looked very quaint.
The men all shuffled around as soon as the door closed behind them, their straight postures fading as they finally relaxed, feeling safe. Aisha, who wasn’t that naïve, quickly and quietly lowered the blinds on the door and the window next to it, providing some additional cover.
By the time she was done, Clay and Pooch were hissing at each other in the middle of the room, apparently trying to figure out their next move. Jensen and Cougar were standing near-by, shoulder to shoulder, waiting.
Aisha was the only one who noticed the slight movement at the far end of the room, where it opened into a hallway and by then it was already too late. She brought her gun up, ready to fire, the same instant someone hit the light switch. Instantly, all weapons in the room were aimed at the figure leaning against the wall, arms crossed under her chest.
“You know, a simple ‘Hey Mom, we’re not dead’ would have been totally enough. There’s absolutely no reason to break into my house at three in the goddamn morning in full gear.”
She was blonde, tiny and wearing a man’s t-shirt and little else. It said I’m a pirate, ask me how
and very obviously did not belong to her. She looked more amused than threatened by all the firepower aimed at her. Clay snorted at her words and Pooch and Jensen laughed outright. Then the colonel did something Aisha hadn’t expected of him. He tucked away his gun, took three steps forward and engulfed the woman in a hug.
She seemed to hug back tightly before shoving him away and socking him in the jaw. He took a step back, grunting in pain, rubbing at his cheek. “You fucking assholes,” she hissed, spitting fire at Clay. “I almost got another star because you can’t be bothered to pick up a fucking phone, Clay!”
Aisha had no idea what stars had to do with anything, but Clay looked contrite. “Sorry,” he apologized, sounding like a boy who got chewed out by his mother, “There was no time. But we’re here now and we… we sort of need help.”
She snorted, crossing her arms again, apparently unconcerned with how the motion made the shirt ride up higher, leaving her half-naked. Clay and Pooch didn’t seem to care, but the rest of the boys was definitely noticing. Men. Mom frowned at Clay and Pooch chuckled.
“Linwood Porteus,” she snapped immediately, rounding on him with a fierce expression. “I’m as pissed at you as I am at Clay. And you better tell me that Jolene knows your ass is alive and in one piece or goddess help me….”
The blonde deflated. “Good. Is she…”
The driver smiled, goofy as always when someone brought up his wife. “She’s fine. Junior’s fine, too. Didn’t you…?”
She shook her head. “Last time we talked was right after… She yelled a lot. Was pissed at the military like you wouldn’t believe and I guess that extended to me. She told me she didn’t want to see my face ever again.” She looked sad, but not like she was angry with Jolene, who Aisha had met and could imagine could be quite vicious if she wanted to be. Lashing out was an understandable reaction for a pregnant woman that had just lost her husband in a hinky black-ops mission that reeked of bullshit.
The blonde seemed to think so too, even as Pooch cringed. “I tried to keep an eye on her from a distance. Made my girls run their patrols past your house. She seemed fine, so I left her alone.”
Pooch rubbed a hand over his head. “You didn’t have to do that.”
All he got in response was a raised eyebrow, so he stepped forward and hugged the blonde, too. She hugged back, let him go and turned to the room at large. “So. Introduction?”
“Right.” Clay took a step backward toward the rest of the team and pointed at them in turns, “Aisha, Jensen, Cougar. Guys, meet Summers. Call her Mom.”
Summers. Aisha filed the name away, flat out refusing to call the woman by her nickname out loud. Jensen waved and grinned like an idiot, Cougar tipped his hat at the blonde. Aisha simply nodded and didn’t take her hand off her gun. Clay was vouching for her, but Clay had vouched for Roque and the informant that had just fucked them over, too.
Speaking of, the blonde looked around the room briefly, then frowned. “Guys, where’s Roque?”
The whole unit stiffened as one, anger and grief stinking up the place like cheap perfume. It was Clay who answered, sounding like someone was dragging the words out of him. “He died very badly.”
From the look the blonde gave the colonel she thought he was lamenting that fact, but his tone and expression clued her in faster than Aisha had expected.
“What happened?” she asked, sounding teary; wretched.
“He went for the money,” Clay said, like that was any sort of explanation at all. He seemed to think so.
Summer shook her head. “Betcha he didn’t,” she contradicted.
Aisha would have liked to say of course he fucking did, but she hadn’t been a Loser then, wasn’t really one now. Roque’s betrayal meant nothing for her except some extra clean-up. To the men, it meant a hell of a lot more.
Clay nodded, accepting her words, which meant something beyond the obvious. Summers closed her eyes, inhaled deeply and then wiped her fingers over one cheek, quick and angry. She was crying for the traitor.
“He was a fucking traitor,” Aisha snapped in a dead voice, unable to help herself. They needed to get the fuck out of here and the girl was having a cryfest for a dead asshole.
Summers’s eyes flew open, narrowed at Aisha. “He was also my fucking friend, so shut it.” She rounded on Clay, demanding, “Now what hell are you doing here? Because I know you, Franklyn Clay, and you’re not here for cake.”
Jensen giggled, but it was a weak sound. He had, out of all of them, taken Roque’s death hardest, or at least he’d been more obvious about it. He sounded edgy. The dangerous kind of edgy.
“Oh, you know,” he said before Clay could, “The usual. Angry security personnel and an insane CIA spook on our asses. Occasionally some police or other alphabet agency thrown in for additional pep and every now and then, we piss off a mob, or Aisha, which is probably worse than a mob because, can you believe it, human ears, she collects human ears and that’s just not sanitary and you can’t tell me it’s sane either because I am a genius and I know shit and I know that that’s not – “
“Breathe,” Summers barked, a bit wide-eyed at the avalanche of rambling BS.
Jensen shut up, gulped and nodded, looking almost grateful at being stopped. Cougar shifted slightly, brushing their shoulders closer together. It was a very good thing they weren’t military anymore because there was just no way to not ask with those two idiots.
“Different question then: Is anyone about to kick down my front door?”
Clay shook his head but it was Pooch who answered. “Got away clean. Just need to lay low for a bit.”
Summers stared at him for a moment, then at Clay, then at the rest of them. “Alright. I got a fold-out couch for one, a guest room for two and a bedroom for two. Two showers. You guys bunk down, I’ll hustle up some info and breakfast. Sound good?”
Clay nodded, looking relieved. Pooch said, very quickly, “Dibs on the couch.”
“Not-?” Summers motioned toward Aisha, who shook her head and nodded toward Clay, who was (honest to God, she hadn’t known he could
) blushing. Summers laughed.
“Dirty old man,” she said. “Then you two take the guest room. Boys, you get my bedroom. Just give me five to put on something I didn’t steal from my sister’s closet and I’ll leave you to it. Everything else we’ll figure out tomorrow.”
With that she spun on her heel and walked back down the hallway she’d come from, Cougar and Jensen hesitantly trailing after her. Pooch dropped his gear by the couch, folded it out and threw himself on it, gun in hand. He was down for the count on five, much to Aisha’s disbelief.
“That’s it?” She asked. They just broke into the woman’s house and let her take over?
Clay hooked a finger into one of her belt loops and started towing her to the back of the house. “That’s it,” he confirmed. “Tonight, we’re safe.”
Aisha didn’t really believe it, but this was better than sleeping in a stolen van, so she kept her mouth shut.