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Running Out of Time

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Whumptober #4 Running Out Of Time - Caged/Buried Alive/Collapsed Building



For an interminable moment, everything is shockingly, achingly silent. It’s as if the entire world is on pause, having stopped to watch the building collapse. Then everything comes rushing back in a cacophony of noise, heat, wind, thrust.

 

There’s yammering in his comms but it’s not the usual Jensen.

 

In fact, what he’s hearing is “...dead? Is Jensen dead?”

 

“Is Jensen dead?” The words sound unreal as Pooch repeats them, thinking of the manic hacker permanently silenced. He’s their idiot. He’s always there. They can’t lose him. 

 

“He was still in there?”  

 

Clay only groans. “Pooch, take point, get visuals, tell me everything you see. I’m coming.” At least Clay’s orders are the same familiar monotone.

Speeding past him is Cougar, who instantly lays into the debris, flinging it away haphazardly.

 

How had he gotten there so fast from whatever perch he’d been holed up in, watching from above?

 

“...Jensen isn’t dead.” says Jensen, as they groan in collective relief into the comms.

 

“Listen to me,” Pooch says urgently, “we’re gonna get you out. No sudden movements, okay?”

 

“That’s...not going to be a problem.”

 

“Shit man, can you feel your legs?” The Pooch is already plotting how they’ll carry the lanky man to safety when he coughs wetly in his ear.

 

“I don’t know?”

 

“You don’t know?” 

 

“Yeah, kinda...everything hurts and nothing hurts? It should hurt more, right? Is that bad? That’s probably bad. Hope I still have arms and legs...hey, if not, we can be that pirate team finally! Legless Pooch and, uh, Torso Jensen? That doesn’t sound very cool for a pirate name…”

 

“Stop talking man, for once, just shut up.”

 

“If I stop talking, then how will you know where to look?”

 

 “Jensen, we’re on it. Just breathe, and wait.”

 

“Pooch…” The Jensen whine.

 

“No, dude, shut up, you need to listen.”

 

“Pooch, I think the rest of it is coming.”

 

“What?”

 

Static, silence, then, “..the building, the rest of the building, I feel that …”

 

“Clay! Cougar! Are you on this?”

 

Clay’s heavy breath, “Almost there,” runs into Cougar’s gasped “Si, si, estoy en ello.”

 

“Listen man, save your breath, conserve your air. Think.

 

A long pause where all he hears are the sounds of huffing and digging and then, finally, “...what should I think about?”

 

“GodDAMN I am tempted to leave you in there just to get some peace and quiet! You want me to tell you what to think about?”

 

Nothing, he hears nothing in return and is instantly contrite. “Jensen, I didn’t mean that man, lemme know you’re okay.”

 

Heavy breathing suddenly behind him as Clay crashes into the scene. 

 

“What’s the situation?”

 

“He’s not responding.”

 

“Jensen not talking? Shit, he’s dead.” spits Clay, even as he drops to his knees and joins in next to Cougar’s desperate digging. “Pooch! Get him to report!” 

 

The Pooch tries to keep his own voice steady, but the uncharacteristic panic he hears in the COs has him reeling. Clay is really scared that Jensen is already dead. 

 

“Jensen, man, report, Clay and Cougar are there, and I got my eyes on everything. Just let us know we’re not too late.”

 

“Es mejor que no sea demasiado tarde.”

 

Cougar is unusually vocal. Jensen is silent. Everything feels warped, flipped, and that’s without the demolished building smoking. 

 

“Jensen. Talk to the Pooch, now .”

 

Static, the sound of the building crumbling further. Jensen had been right, the rest was coming down.

 

“Jensen, you four-eyed son of a bitch! Are you there!”

 

More static, a deep, metal groan, followed by a more human groan.

 

“....still...alive. Hurts now, though, Pooch.”

 

"Good, that's good man."

 

"It's good it hurts?"

 

"Good you can feel it. Listen. Can you hear them getting closer?  Focus on that and I want you to breathe with me, okay. Just concentrate on my voice.  The team's coming."

 

"'M just gonna rest for a minute, wake me up when they get here."

 

"Fuck, no!" Cougar swears at the same time that Clay yells.

 

“Keep him awake, keep him talking!” 

 

“Hey man, tell me about-” 

 

“...Stop talking...keep talking...wish you'd make up yr'mind. 'M tired.”

 

“Jensen! Do not fall asleep! Tell me something I don't know. Tell me about, about otters.”

 

“...fuck you want to know about otters…”

 

He cannot keep all the emotion out of his voice. “Tell me something I don't know, about otters. Please.”

 

A mumble, but there. 

 

"What? I didn't hear you. "

 

"...said otters hold hands while they sleep so they don't drift away and lose each other…"

 

And that is a ragged sob he hears from the sniper for sure this time. The digging grows more frantic.

 

"Hey Jensen. Jensen, fuck you, answer me."

 

"Jake!"

 

"Why...you call me that?"

 

"Your mama call you that when you’re in trouble? Cuz you're in trouble now, stay with me, man.”

 

"Where...m'I gonna go?"

 

A laugh, barked but brittle, off to his left. Cougar tosses a huge piece of rebar like it's nothing. 

 

"You're doing good man, real good. Keep going.Tell me about your niece, don’t think I know anyone so into their sibling’s kids." 

 

"Doesn’t have a dad, closest is me."

 

"Poor kid, with you as a father figure, she’s toast."

 

No response, he can’t even hear the stuttered breathing anymore.

 

"Jensen! Jake!"

 

“...five more minutes, ma…”

 

Pooch lets out a relieved laugh, there’s the Jensen they know. But his stomach drops when the mumbling continues.

 

“...don’ wan’ go to school, ma…”

 

"Shit, is he hallucinating? Jensen, talk to me. Know where you are? Jensen, Jensen!"

 

"Lo tengo!"

 

He looks up in time to see the back end of Cougar slither into the cleared space. 

 

“Watch him, man, watch him! Somebody man that hole!” 

 

Clay listens, scooting in behind Cougar's disappearing boots, using his shoulders to prop open the gap. "Pass him out when you get him, I'll hold it open."

 

It's good they're such a well oiled unit they're practically psychic, easily slipping into sync to coordinate rescue. 

 

“Esta aqui!”

 

Cougar finally sees him, the spiky blond hair first, and makes a sound of joy. 

 

“Mi amigo, can you look at me?”

 

No movement, he shimmies closer. He can see those full lips now, cracked and bleeding, slack. 

 

The glasses, those stupid, round little things that he’s watched glint through a sniper scope so many times, are shattered on his face. This makes Cougar irrationally angry.

 

He carefully starts to pull his teammate from the rubble. More of Jensen’s face appears, the stupid, endearing goatee is pink with blood. He’s not breathing.

 

Cougar’s heart stops. No, not yet. He descends on the hacker, breathing life into him. “Come on, mi amor.”

 

“Pooch!” Orders Clay, “tell me what you see, dammit!”

 

“Cougar is giving him mouth to mouth and oh shit!”

 

“Oh shit what? I said tell me everything that you see!”

 

“Cougar is giving him mouth to mouth alright, but, boss, they’re making out.”

 

Static, then Clay’s voice, just as flat. “They’re making out?”

 

“They’re making out.”

 

“Jesusfuck.”

 

“You want me to keep telling you what I see?”

 

“Probably not.”

 

“Yeah, that’s definitely Cougar shoving his tongue down Jensen’s throat.” Pooch reports.

 

“I said-”

 

“And now, he’s alright! He’s kissing back! He’s kissing back, everybody! Yeah!”

 

"Cougar, quit fucking tonguing him, and pass him out."

 

"No, I got him. Keep the hole." Cougar refuses to let Jensen go. “Jake, I have you.” he breathes against him.

 

“You...called me Jake.”; he wheezes. “Am I dead?”

 

“Not hardly, carino.” Cougar drags him from the rubble as Clay pulls out behind them.

 

“Where - are - you carrying me?”

 

“Di nada...don’t try to talk.” He places one finger, gently, against his lips. Leaves it there.

 

"Cougs, did I hallucinate or did you kiss me?"

 

"Oh he kissed you, he definitely kissed you. Bout damn time, too." Pooch pipes in from the comms.

 

“Carlos?” he asks, voice full of wonder and hope. 

 

“Si, corazon.” He intones, folding them both gently into the back of Pooch’s running vehicle.

 

“I’m sorry it took this, but, my heart is yours. Do not die.”

 

“How could I, now?” Jensen grins up at him as Cougar strokes his goatee, gently.

 

“I love you, Cougs, in case you didn’t know.”

 

“Love you too, Jake Jensen. Now hush, we will be back at the safehouse soon, and then I will show you how much.”