If there was one thing the Pooch had never expected to get kicked out of, it was a Little League Soccer game, but he supposed there was a first time for everything.
Not that he was overly upset, since it might just have saved him from losing his bet with Aisha. He was loyal to a fault, but even he had to admit that things had been looking pretty bad for Beth and her team. So, maybe, getting kicked out was a blessing in disguise.
Pooch knew better than to say that to Jensen, though, especially considering the foul mood he was in.
Jensen was still agitated by the time they made it back to Jess's house, fuming over the injustice no matter how many times Beth told him that she was fine. She was doing just that, for the umpteenth time, when Pooch emerged from the bathroom, finally having managed to change his son's diaper.
As much as Pooch liked being a father, he had to admit that diaper changes were something that would take a while to get used to.
Pooch ambled over to Jolene, her smile glowing with happiness. As always, the sight of her took his breath away and he felt the familiar surge of gratefulness and love, mixed together with a fair share of guilt. He knew what had happened in Bolivia hadn't been their fault, but he would forever regret leaving her. He should have been there, especially during the last months of her pregnancy.
He had a wonderful, beautiful wife and he should have been there for her.
Jolene leaned forward, kissing their son's forehead, before giving Pooch a reproachful look.
"You were." Her smile was fond and full of love — the kind that made Pooch a little weak in the knees. "Focus on what's ahead of us, Linwood."
He automatically looked down at his son, knowing she was right. What had happened in Bolivia was a tragedy and Max had still not been brought to justice, but that particular hell was behind them. The fight wasn't over — far from it — but it wouldn't help to dwell on the pain from months ago. It was better to look to the future.
Pooch had managed to reclaim the life he thought he had lost and he was damned well going to treasure it.
It was much later, after he and Jolene had put their son to bed and sat together on Jess's back porch, watching Jensen and Beth finish off a silly, disorganized game of two-man soccer, that Pooch realized he wasn't the only one with a nice future ahead of him. He'd been so wrapped up in his injuries, then his son, to really pay much attention to the others.
Clay and Aisha had both left the house after dinner — in opposite directions — but Cougar had stayed. That in itself wasn't strange since Cougar had visited Jensen's family several times over the years and was probably quite at home in Jess's house, but Pooch could still tell that something was different.
The smile on Cougar's lips was fonder than usual — a little awed, almost — and the way Jensen leaned into Cougar when he went to congratulate Beth on winning seemed just a little bit needy, as if he couldn't quite get close enough. Pooch watched as Jensen carefully, with a hint of shyness, twined his and Cougar's fingers together.
Jolene clearly saw that, too.
"I'm happy for them," she said softly, her feet tucked in under Pooch's thigh where they sat on the patio sofa.
"Yeah," Pooch agreed, trying to decide if he was surprised or not.
In many ways, he wasn't. He had always known that Cougar and Jensen were close, sometimes in ways that reminded Pooch of himself and Jolene, but, at the same time, he'd never been able to tell if Jensen was interested in that kind of relationship. He always went out of his way not to end up with any of the women he flirted with, but, then again, perhaps Jensen had simply been pining away for Cougar all these years.
Pooch wouldn't put it past either of them.
In the end, the only thing that really mattered was that they were happy, and they clearly were. There was no mistaking the devotion on both of their faces and just how easily they seemed to fit together, Cougar smiling as Jensen put his chin on Cougar's shoulder. Their hands were still entwined and Cougar didn't even seem to notice when he raised the other and placed it against the back of Beth's head. It was an instinctive, effortlessly protective gesture that showed just how much time Cougar must have spent with the Jensens.
They were so cute it almost hurt to look at them.
Pooch smiled and reached down to rest his hand on Jolene's ankle.
"I think it was about time," he said, feeling something like relief curl in his chest. Finding love in their line of work wasn't easy, but Cougar and Jensen seemed to have managed.
Pooch wished them nothing but the best.
Jolene hummed in agreement.