It took Aisha maybe 10 minutes after Clay’s jump and Max’s disappearance to learn one very important rule about the Losers.
Do not piss off Cougar.
They had all hinted at it throughout the whole mission to get Max. Comments and hints at what the sniper was capable of. She thought she’d seen the extent of it. Some amazing shots and decent parkour making up for a pretty impressive and competent picture. But she hadn’t really seen what the others were so afraid of. Or more accurately, what they had told her she should be afraid of.
For one, the man had a human-sized weak spot. There was a reason she’d targeted the hacker when they broke into the hotel room after finding out who she was and it wasn’t just because he didn’t have a weapon trained on her.
She’d seen the way the sniper seemed to focus on him, covering his back a touch more than the others and they were always in each other’s space. It clearly wasn’t enough favoritism to cause a problem as Clay never commented on it.
But in that moment in that room she knew she had to distract Cougar enough for her to make it to the bathroom without a shot between the eyes. She knew that if Jensen went down it would be the only window she could make, and if it was non-lethal the team would focus on getting their wounded techie to safety rather than hunting her down.
Aisha actually liked Jensen. Sure he never shut up and that got grating at times, but he was surprisingly good at what he did and watching him fall on his face trying to flirt had been entertaining. But he was the weak spot and so had been the most logical target.
Cougar was definitely weak when it came to the tech genius. A man who could sit through Jensen’s rambling and not only endure but pay attention had it bad.
Aisha figured if he was that squishy about the hacker, he couldn’t be as scary as the others seemed to think.
Sure he took out his old teammate without hesitation, but she would’ve done the same if someone had stabbed her in the back and nearly gotten her team killed.
It wasn’t until they were all piled into that ridiculous stretch hummer that she got a glimpse of what everyone else already knew.
Clay was driving with Pooch sprawled out in the massive passenger seat while she, Cougar and Jensen were all in the back.
Jensen had been recounting the battle they had just gone through with child-like enthusiasm when he mentioned her.
“And man, the look on their faces when you were just standing there with a bazooka! Priceless!”
Aisha couldn’t resist the chance to make him squirm. Cause she was tired, exhausted, they’d lost Max, and he just wouldn’t shut up.
“Has anyone ever told you, you talk too much?” she said just a touch too casually, before dropping her hand on his shoulder. She had about half a second to enjoy how he flinched before she found herself pinned against the window by a very calm, very armed sniper.
She hadn’t even seen him move let alone pull the knife that was set oh so carefully against her carotid artery with just enough pressure for her to know it would take next to nothing for him to slice through.
“Cougar,” Clay called back in a warning tone, a hint of actual fear lacing his voice. Jensen was watching with wide eyes and Pooch had turned around, tension tight around his eyes and mouth. None of them moved to intervene.
Seems Aisha had really misread this one.
It was his eyes that scared her the most. She would've expected hot anger or barely contained rage. What she saw was a calculated coldness that settled a lead weight in her stomach. That look was a calm and clinical kind of fury that was focused with deadly precision right on her. If he had wanted to, he could have killed her just then and she wouldn’t have even had time to try and counter.
Leaning just ever so slightly closer, Cougar made sure she was looking right at him when he spoke.
“Never… touch him again.” His voice was perfectly calm, his tone promising a myriad of inventive and violent torture if she ever even thought of disregarding this warning. He tilted his head slightly, putting just a touch of extra pressure on the knife. It wasn’t even breaking skin, but Aisha knew it was no idle threat. “Si?”
“Cougs… I think she gets it, man.” Pooch finally spoke up, shooting pointed looks at Jensen.
The blonde seemed to shake himself a little before carefully leaning forward and placing a gentle hand on the sniper's arm. The arm currently holding a knife.
"Cougs, hey," he started his voice quiet and calm, using a tone Aisha had never heard. "Stand down, buddy. I'm fine."
Cougar never took his eyes off of hers, staring at her in his icy fury until ever so carefully, she nodded.
He stared for a few more seconds, really making sure it hit home that he was only pulling back because Jensen asked him to, and finally allowed Jensen to pull him away. The tech and the sniper retreated to the very back of the stretch hummer, sitting close and always with a hand on the other as if to assure them both that the other man was there.
The tension in the hummer didn't disappear, but it relaxed, like a bowstring no longer being held taut.
Aisha resumed her seat, refusing to meet anyone's eyes.
Yeah, she had misjudged that spectacularly. She had assumed Cougar's feelings had made him weak, instead, she realized it made him more dangerous.
And Aisha knew he would be watching her every move from now on.
She had hurt Jensen, and Cougar was clearly far from forgiving that.
Clay looked at her briefly in the mirror and Pooch turned a little to look back. She heard him very quietly reiterate the rule that she definitely knew for sure now.
"Do not piss off Cougar."
And in her head she amended it to what they should have told her.
"Never mess with Jensen."