Fic: (These times they are a-) changing

Title: (These times they are a-) changing
Rating: R/15
Written for: taigbhrigh as part of 2011’s ante_up_losers
Total Word Count: 5,099
Category: Gen
Warnings: torture; mad scientists; shape-shifting; pre-canon; explicit language; hurt/comfort; pre-slash
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters named in this, nor the associated media. The plot however, is mine. No money is being made from this piece of fiction and no harm is meant by it towards anyone.
Summary: Jensen knew it was going to be a bad day when he was captured by the very people that they were hunting whilst the rest of the team were at their furthest points from him. Everyone has a breaking point but Jensen had no wish to meet his, definitely not today and preferably never.

“We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves.”
~ Gerald Hausman

Jensen knew it was going to be a bad day when he was captured by the very people that they were hunting whilst the rest of the team were at their furthest points from him. It wasn’t the being captured part nor the part where the rest of the team was so far away (they’d removed his throat mike but left his weapons, clearly this was the kidnapper’s first time kidnapping someone of Jensen’s size and training), it was the part where he wasn’t being taken to any of the sites the team knew of or suspected of being connected to their target.  That meant that the rest of the Losers might not get to him in time.  Everyone has a breaking point but Jensen had no wish to meet his, definitely not today and preferably never.

When he was finally inside a building, well, a fortified cave that had had basement and sub basement levels added, Jensen was methodically stripped of everything, underwear and dog tags included.  The only thing he could be said to be wearing was a strip of duct tape across his mouth. Who knew consistent talking from a captive would unnerve the captor so much?

That done, Jensen was prodded with the barrel of an AK-47 to walk all the way down an uneven set of hand carved stairs, hands tied behind tight enough that he knew he would start to lose feeling in his fingers pretty soon.  When they reached the bottom of the stairs and Jensen’s eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting, what he could see sent shivers down his spine.  Cages, all that the level contained was cages, both cube-like steel cages and nooks in the cave covered with a steel barred door.  What really set Jensen’s hair on end, so to speak, was the number of occupied cages and just what they contained.

‘Of course, the one time I get captured and not rescued within ten minutes I have to be captured by the screwy mad scientist who wants to create his own army of mutant f*g freaks.  Just great.’  Jensen thought to himself as he was unceremoniously thrown into the cage furthest from the stairs and just as unceremoniously knocked out.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Jensen, are we go for infiltration?”  Clay whispered into his comm unit, hoping that their hacker hadn’t taken the excuse of being alone to do the hacking for this mission in his boxers as was his preference.  When he didn’t get an immediate response, Clay groaned to himself virtually inaudibly as he didn’t want to give his location away, rolled his eyes at Roque and whispered harshly into his comm unit again.

“Repeat, Jensen, are we go for infiltration?”

Having gotten no response for a second time, Clay started to feel uneasy.

“Cougar, have you get eyes on Jensen from your position?”

“No,” Cougar replied tersely, wondering why their hacker wasn’t responding to the radio calls, and thinking that something going bad on the mission this early was surely a sign that the proverbial was going to hit the fan soon, and probably worse than normal even for them.

Goddammit, Clay thought as he rolled up and onto his feet, or as close to as he could get and not break cover.

“Jensen, for the last time, are we go for infiltration?”  When all he could hear was the static over the comms system and the local wildlife, Clay made his decision.

“Abort the mission.  I repeat, mission is aborted.”

You’d better have a damn good reason not to answer me, Jensen.  Clay thought as he and the rest of the team retreated back to base camp.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

When Jensen woke up, he was naked, still in a dark cavern (with the lights still set way to low for his liking), had a blinding headache, and was greeted by the piteous moans and disturbing growls of his fellow inmates.  The thing that annoyed him though, was the loss of his glasses. When he initially realized he wasn’t wearing them, he patted down the parts of his cage that he could reach without moving as movement made his head hurt even more.  After a moment of searching he found them and he could feel that they were cracked and one of the arms twisted beyond repair.

Just as he was getting used to the fuzziness of what he was seeing (and hoping that some of what he was seeing wasn’t actually real but a concussion-induced hallucination), two guards came over to drag him out of the cage and push him forward towards a side room that he hadn’t noticed before.

“No chance for any clothing, guys?  Not even a blanket to hide the family jewels?  Aw, c’mon guys, this silence thing’s gotta get boring after a while.  I mean, sure Coug’s is all silent and shit, but at least he does talk to us once in a while.  You two though, you’ve gotta lighten up, show a smile once in a while.  Hey did you know that smiling uses more muscles than frowning and it’s supposed to be super good for you? Keeps your brain chemistry in balance and puts you in a better mood.  How about a joke?  Oh I know a great one!  Did you hear the one about the nun, the bishop and the – .”  Jensen was cut off before he could finish his joke by being pushed with the muzzle of a gun, into the side room, causing him to stumble and nearly face plant onto the rocky ground.  The tools that he could vaguely make out in the room momentarily left him speechless; so many shiny steel surgical tools mixed in with old and rusty ones and far more syringes than anywhere outside of a major operating theatre should ever have.

Before he could continue with his random babbling speech, the shorter of the guards said something to the three occupants of the room in a dialect that Jensen didn’t understand, whilst gesturing at him and pointing at a metal table.  Without a sound from his guards, he was strapped down onto the metal table s**t, that’s cold!, arms at his sides, legs spread and something put in his mouth to hold it open but not necessarily to stop him making any sound as he discovered when he tried to tell them, again, that they’d messed with the wrong person, that the rest of his team would come for him and then they’d be sorry.

The scientists ignored his muffled rantings and took blood pressure readings and a vial each of his blood, they checked his pupils response to light and tested so many other things that Jensen soon forgot what they were doing and worried about what they were going to do once having what he assumed, was a bench mark to compare further checks to.  His worry kicked up a notch when one of them picked up what looked like a scalpel, a second picked up a tray carrying various vials and syringes whilst the third took a couple of steps back and noted down what they murmured to him.

What freaked him out about them, was that none of them reacted to anything he said or tried to do.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The first session barely lasted more than an hour and they hadn’t asked him anything about the team.  They hadn’t asked him anything, and that worried Jensen more than what they’d pumped him fill of.  It could mean that either they knew where the team was and were already on their way to capturing them too; they didn’t care about the team as they only wanted to torture him with the brightly coloured contents of the syringes, or that they were too well hidden to be found by Clay and the rest of the Losers.

By the time he was back in his cage he was ready to pass out and do his best to forget about the needles.  Unfortunately, whatever they’d pumped him full of prevented him from sleeping; instead he lay on his back, his body wracked with spasms as his muscles contracted violently whilst he was left naked in the cage, writhing in his own filth, getting progressively weaker until the spasms eventually stopped.  He didn’t pass out for another hour after the spasms stopped, not until the drug cocktail had worn off enough to lose its hold on him.

In what felt like no time, the guards returned and woke Jensen up by throwing a bucket of cold water over him, the only form of washing he would experience whilst in their care, stood him up and pushed and prodded him back over to the room with the metal table.  This time was no where near so bad as all they did was insert an IV line connected to a bag of saline into his left arm and inject his right deltoid with a small syringe (from what he could see without his glasses, Jensen could only guess at it being a very small amount) of a slightly milky coloured liquid, and left him alone for a couple of hours.  When the silence got too much for Jensen and he’d recovered enough energy to do anything not related to survival, he talked to himself, though the condition of his vocal cords was such that it came out as more of a growling whisper.

“They will come, they won’t leave me.  Jake Jensen, Corporal, 574 13 9466.  They will come, they won’t leave me.  Jake Jensen, Corporal, 574 13 9466.  They will come, they won’t leave me.  Jake Jensen, Corporal, 574 13 9466.”  He continued in this manner until his voice gave out and the world turned interesting shades of swirling grey.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Jensen woke when he felt someone new walk in to the room.

Just a minute, felt someone walk in?

Felt?

Aw crap.  Something’s not right.  What’ve they done to me? Jensen wondered as his head snapped up and his eyes tracked the movements of the newcomer before he even realised he was doing it. As soon as he realised what he was doing, Jensen froze and ducked his head back down where it had been as if he was still unconscious.

Unfortunately for Jensen, or so he thought, his movement had been noticed and now the scientists were quietly talking excitedly and gesturing at him and he was injected a second time with what he thought was the same dosage as before.  The swirling grey sensation kicked in quicker this time and the next thing he knew, he was being shoved back into his cage which had been hosed down sometime between him being dragged out and thrown back in again.

The cycle of excruciatingly painful experimentation and quiet, almost gentle, re-hydration continued numerous times, the only breaks being when he was left in the cage whilst it was hosed down and the occasions when almost stale bread and tough as old boot strips of jerky were tossed into his cage in lieu of actual food.  As he barely lost any body mass Jensen assumed, when he had moments of lucidity and awareness beyond ‘survive the pain’, that the saline drip had nutritional supplements added to it and that the many hours of full body spasms counted as exercise.

The longer he was kept there, the more drugs they pumped into him and the more ‘experiments’ they conducted on him; the more of a change in himself he noticed, and not in a Stockholm type way. He could smell more than before, he knew when someone entered, not just the experimentation room, but very soon the entire cage-filled plaza. What’s more, if they got within a certain distance of him, he could discern just who it was and after the last cycle, what the last thing they’d eaten was.

It wasn’t just his senses of smell and hearing that had improved either.  His sight had to have gotten better as he could now see as well as he could before when he had his glasses on.  For a short while Jensen joked with himself that other than the excruciating agony, he’d come off better as he would be less of a liability without glasses now.  Then he started to forget what he’d be doing that he’d be a liability if he had glasses.  Shortly after that happened, his memories of before his capture got hazier by the hour.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

When Jensen had just about had enough and given up on the team and had fallen in to despair, the ceiling shook and started crumbling, the air became dustier with each passing moment.  Not too long afterward (though to be fair, it could have been five seconds or five hours to Jensen as his ability to track time had been seriously messed with, what with being kept underground and being kept drugged up in one way or another for almost all of the time that he was awake), he could make out people moving around in the dust filled air; people who weren’t in cages and who definitely weren’t those who had captured him.

They were making sounds, speaking and searching for someone but Jensen couldn’t understand them, so he kept quiet and sat at the back of the cage.  The closer they got the more confused Jensen got as he could pick up familiar scents but couldn’t remember why they were familiar.  Part of him knew that they had to be people he knew from before the metal table and his cage, from before all of the experiments and the pain, but it felt like he’d been there and been in pain for so long that he ‘before’ had lost almost all meaning, but he kept trying to.  He wanted to remember and some part of him told him that if he did remember, he’d have a purpose again, and more importantly, he’d belong.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Jensen’s down here?!”  Pooch exclaimed as soon as he could see the cavern they were walking in to.

“Looks like it.  We need to get him out and back to base asap.”  Clay replied.  “Spread out men, we’ve got a Loser to find.”  As soon as the order was heard it was implemented.

The team spread out over the cavern, quickly losing visual contact of each other, and were all very soon all too aware of what had been going on in there and braced themselves for what was to come.  That at the very least, if they found Jensen he wouldn’t be the same, at the worst they might not find him, only something barely identifiable as their hacker and hopefully wearing his dog tags.

They stayed quiet so as not to give their positions away, you never know where someone may have hidden themselves when they know the layout better than you, and so as not to disturb the beings in the cages.  Time ticked by slowly as they noticed more and more disturbing results of experimentation.

“Clay, over here.”  Roque called out, his voice carrying clearly over the growls and scuffles of the caged beings.

Everyone convened on where Roque’s voice was emanating double time and blanched when they saw the state that Jensen was in.  He was curled up, naked, on the floor of the largest steel cage in the room, eyes vacant but tracking their movements, noting the sudden appearance of numerous armed men, focusing on each in turn before staying on Clay, as if realising that he was their leader.  He cocked his head and scented the air, a puzzled look passing over his face before moving so that he was standing up, staring down Clay.

“Pooch, go and get some blankets or clothes.  The rest of you don’t move or say a word.”  Clay ordered, his eyes never leaving Jensen’s.  Pooch retreated without turning his back on Jensen, just because his team mate was stuck in a cage, didn’t mean that he wasn’t currently dangerous (or more so than normal as the man was black ops trained, even if he did choose to act like he’d barely left college and hadn’t been in a fight more serious than who got the last copy of the latest video game, more often than not).  Roque and Cougar stayed motionless, hands never far from a weapon and eyes not leaving Jensen’s face.

They all knew that something had been done to Jensen, and from the marks on his arms, they were reasonably certain that he’d been drugged to the gills and then some, and from the cut marks across the rest of his body in various stages of healing, that he’d been tortured by someone who knew what they were doing and had been doing it for a very long time.

It wasn’t long before the guards discovered where the intruders were and started firing at them.  Luckily the Losers had the advantage that they weren’t under orders to not shoot the creatures in the cages, and made short work of the guards, putting a few of the moaning creatures out of their misery as well.  As Roque confirmed the last guard as dead, Pooch came back with a pair of boots that he hoped were the right size for Jensen, and a couple of blankets.

“Found the keys.”  Roque said as he walked back to them, bouncing the keys in his hand.  When he got to the cage he passed them over to Clay.

“Roque, Pooch, stand by in case Jensen’s finally lost it and finally decides to attack me.  Cougar, keep a watch for more unfriendlies.”  Clay ordered.  When Clay fitted the correct key to the cage door and opened it, everyone unconsciously braced themselves for an attack.  What they got instead was a confused looking Jensen who took a step forward and breathed deeply, as if smelling them all at once.  He paused for a second and stared hard at Roque, but when no one reacted he stepped back again and bared his neck, an obvious, if animalistic, sign of submission to Clay.

With an eyebrow raised at the hackers non-verbal communication, Clay passed the boots and blanket to Jensen, expecting him to put them on and follow them out of the cave system.  Unfortunately Jensen seemed to have forgotten how to dress himself as he just looked at the clothes and back to Clay with a questioning look on his face.  Clay calmly pointed to his feet, to the boots in Jensen’s hand and then to Jensen’s feet, hoping that he’d get the picture and put them on.  After a long moment, Jensen got dressed, in a sense, and looked to Clay to make sure he’d done everything alright.  Clay nodded his approval and Jensen beamed.

Jensen had only just beamed at Clay at the approval from the leader when Jensen growled really low in his chest and ran straight at the team, bowling Clay and Pooch over with his sudden attack.  Before anyone could exclaim at the sudden change in behaviour, they saw the reason why.  One of the guards from the fight earlier wasn’t as dead as Roque had thought and had snuck up behind the team and had somehow managed to get the drop on Cougar, covering the smaller man with his body.  Jensen picked the guard up by the back of the neck, threw him against the cave wall, walked over to where the guard was lying in a crumpled heap and snapped his neck so ferociously that the man’s head was almost twisted off of his body.

Startled at the sheer ferocity shown by the normally jovial man, Cougar stayed sitting on the ground a moment longer than normal and stared at Jensen.  On anyone else his jaw would have hit the floor and his eyes would have bugged out of his head. Jensen noticed that Cougar was still on the ground and checked him over for injuries, helping him to stand when he was satisfied that Cougar had no more than a couple of minor scrapes and bruises from the incident.

The rest of the team had quickly gathered out of the way of the incident, realising that they weren’t needed as Jensen had it all in hand, a far more brutal and animalistic hand than normal though.  As he coughed lightly to get Jensen and Cougar’s attention, Clay rolled his eyes at the silent concern and berating that Jensen was giving Cougar.  Apparently even when he wasn’t talking, Jensen had a lot to say and said it loudly.

“Hey Losers, it’s time to get the hell outta here.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“What d’ya think they did to him?”  Pooch asked Cougar as the sniper wiped his scope down.

“Nothing nice.”  Came the quiet reply.

The team was hiding out in a cave that was barely big enough for them, let alone the equipment that they’d managed to salvage, waiting for extraction which wouldn’t be for another 36 hours minimum due to weather conditions.  Saying that it was a bit wet out would be like saying that a desert is a little dry.

Jensen was poking through the pile that contained their personal items, the smallest of all of the piles of equipment, and was making quiet animal like noises over his discoveries.  When he had found Cougar’s bag, he made a happy sounding noise, sniffed the bag and put it to one side, as far from the rain as he could get it.  The sound that he made when he found his own bag and discovered the picture of his sister and niece that he took everywhere with him and was folded in half and tucked away was filled with longing.  He put it in his pocket, closed his bag and put everything back into the pile and went to sit with Pooch and Cougar, a frown creasing his brow and mumbling to himself.

“Jenni and Annie, Annie and Jenni.”  Jensen said, wonder in his eyes as he turned to Cougar, proud that he’d remembered something that wasn’t immediately useful.  Cougar couldn’t help but smile gently at Jensen and pointed to each one in turn and telling Jensen that Jenni was the lady on the porch and Annie was the little girl sitting on the steps with a soccer ball between her feet.

“Do you remember who they are to you?”  Cougar said quietly.

“Sister and her daughter, my niece.  I’m her younger brother,” he said, as he pointed Jenni out “and I’m her Uncle.”  Jensen said as he pointed to Annie, body curling in towards Cougars’.

“Si, they are your family.” Cougar replied.

Throughout the next few hours, Jensen rapidly became more talkative, remembering more of his life before and becoming more the Jensen that they knew and less the animalistic shell that they’d found in the caves.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The rain storm had just let up when they got the call telling them that the helo’s ETA was one hour.  Immediately they all grabbed their kits and repacked, checked the equipment over and tied the still usable pieces together in as few bundles as possible whilst still being manoeuvrable.

From the moment that the helo landed and they were with other military personnel, Jensen did his best to act normal but hide from being in the direct line of sight of anyone who wasn’t a Loser.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

After Clay managing to smooth over the aborted mission with the brass and Jensen somehow managing to get through the post-op physicals without anyone catching on to what really happened, the Losers found themselves with a night off and a new mission to leave for at 0900 the next day.

Jensen walked into the main room of the building the Losers were staying in and Roque promptly closed and locked the door behind him, standing in front of it to prevent anyone from entering. The rest of the team were spread across the chairs and sofa in the centre of the room.

“You probably don’t want to tell us and we probably don’t want to know, but we need to know that you’re ok to go back in the field. And don’t try to pull any of the bullshit you have to have fed the Doctor’s to have been cleared for duty.” Clay said to Jensen, his gaze clear and assessing.

“You want to know what? There’s nothing to know. They were bad, you stopped them; we’re all here. What more than that do you need to know, Clay?” Jensen replied, slightly hysterical as he really didn’t want to think about the needles or the searing pain crawling it’s way up his veins.

“Jensen.” The tone that Clay said his name in had Jensen wincing slightly before turning to face Clay straight on and sat down in a clear space on the sofa, pinching the bridge of his nose as snatches of memory flashed through his mind.

“There were scientists of the oh-so-very-mad and calculatingly crazy variety, they injected me with way too many liquids and not one of them knew the first thing about hygiene. I mean, did you see the state I was in when you found me?! Right, yeah, of course you did because you found me. So after the multiple rounds of injections and the complete disregard of my jokes, I started noticing…differences.” Jensen said. As he’d been speaking he’d started shifting around on the sofa, unable to stay still for too long, until Cougar walked behind him and rested his hand on Jensen’s shoulders, thumb absentmindedly stroking along Jensen’s neck.

“Differences? What kind of differences?” Clay asked, frowning as he thought over the multitudes of things that could have happened to the youngest member of his team.

“Uh, yeah, differences. Well would you believe me if I just told you that I’m ready to work, really not keen on confined spaces and might have some extra, probably useful talents?”

“Depends on these talents.”

“I can tell who’s near me by their…scent? It’s not tested out yet though. Uh, I can probably bench-press Roque without much trouble, and I don’t need these glasses any more, but I thought that not wearing them would cause more problems than having them, so I hacked the local opticians ordering system and got a plain, non-prescription pair made up and delivered here. That enough detail for you, Clay?”

Roque stifled a laugh at the mental image of Jensen bench pressing him.

“For the moment.” Clay said wearily. “Work out a way to test these differences when we’ve got a longer down time between missions and how they could help us out, and Jensen, I don’t care if it’s just bullet points on a napkin, just give me something to work with.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Tomorrow, roughly 16:00

They were slogging through yet another goddamned jungle in yet another goddamned drug cartel & terrorist run country, only 1 click to go to the area that would be their base camp for the duration of the mission, when the shit hit the fan again. Since they’d been dropped off a little over two hours ago, each of them at times had felt as if they were being watched, as if they weren’t alone, but whenever they went to check, none of them found anything, not even Jensen and his heightened sense of smell. None of them were surprised but they were all unprepared for an ambush of 20 guys with AKs appearing out of the forest, surrounding them.

As soon as they realised that they were surrounded (Jensen helpfully telling them that he couldn’t smell any more people than they had already seen), they formed a circle, ensuring that everyone’s back was covered and that they’d be able to do the maximum damage in the minimal time.

The first of the ambushers was shot through the head by Pooch, “The Pooch does not appreciate being ambushed this close to the base”, the next by Clay and from then on it was a gun toting free for all (with the occasional knife being thrown courtesy of Roque). Part way through the fire fight, the Loser’s circle was broken when one of the ambushers leapt at Clay, tackling him to the ground. Clay managed to get himself free of him in moments, but not before others in the team garnered bullet grazes.

It was almost over, just 3 left hiding behind the thicker tree trunks and all of the team focussed on their locations, when one of the ambushers who wasn’t as almost dead as had been presumed, grabbed Cougar and held the sniper tight to his body with his left arm, his right hand full with a grenade. Before the ambusher could make any demands or Clay, who was the nearest to Cougar, could try and grab the sniper away from the grenade wielding ambusher, Jensen ran over, disarmed the ambusher – literally – and pulled Cougar away from the corpse.

The only difference between this incident of Jensen defending Cougar and the incident in the caves, was that this time a wolf ripped the arm off of the ambusher and a wolf dragged Cougar over to the rest of the team.

“I thought I told you to tell us all of the ‘differences’ that you’d discovered?” Clay said, eyebrows raised as he took in the sight of the light brown timber wolf who, seconds before, had been a human with glasses and blond hair.

Wolf-Jensen’s face contorted into a look of confusion. When he looked down at his hands, no, paws, he was so startled that he immediately became human again.

“That…what the…how…the fuck?!” Jensen said as he looked at his now-hands and was grateful for the odd shred of clothing that was still attached to his body.

“Don’t worry mi amigo, it’s just another part of you to learn and use as best as you can, si.” Cougar said, looking Jensen straight in the eyes as he brushed himself down and only breaking his gaze to pick up his gun from where it had fallen when he had been grabbed.

“It looks like the Pooch isn’t the only pooch in this pack any more.” Pooch said in an amused tone as he repressed a big grin.

Everyone groaned at Pooch’s joke. When Jensen had fished out a spare set of clothes and Clay and Roque had checked the bodies over for any indicators of who the ambushers had been hired by or were affiliated with, they all carried on to the base camp, the odd jibe about flea collars and vet’s bills being spoken as they made progress to the new temporary base camp.

– The End –

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