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Author's Note: Set between 4.06 and 4.07. Huge thanks to seren-ccd for betaing and general cheerleading!
"Mandatory firearms training?"
Becker looked up from the file he was reading to see a Jessica Parker glaring at him. Today, like most days, she was impeccably—if colourfully—dressed in a dark pink blouse, short aubergine skirt, with her hair pulled back in a messy bun at the nape of her neck. Her arms were crossed, and she tapped her toe as she stared down at him. She wore a pair of ridiculous open-toed shoes and he couldn't stop himself from biting the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling as she had her toenails painted a shade of pink to match her blouse.
In short: girly-girl.
Becker put down the file—a hardcopy of a mission report from one of his men who had supervised the locking and closing of a small anomaly in Surrey that had no accompanying creature incursion—and stood specifically so he could loom over her.
He was good at looming.
"Considering we never know when ARC personnel may have to go out into the field, we've decided it's best for even the support staff to know their way around weapons."
Jess sputtered with indignation. "But I'm not support staff—I'm Field Co-ordinator. I don't go out into the field. I co-ordinate. From my desk. You know, the one with all the screens?"
"Your argument would sound a lot more convincing had you not tagged along on a stakeout and ended up having to disarm a bomb last week."
She poked him in the chest with one manicured nail. "Only because you went in there with no back-up."
"And what if there you'd walked in, and Ethan had been there?"
Jess pushed her fringe out of her eyes, blue eyes narrowed shrewdly. "I'd have shot him with the EMD."
"Have you ever shot an EMD before?"
"I've read all the documentation," she said firmly, and Becker did laugh then—and not entirely kindly.
"That's not the same thing, Jess."
"Well, it all came out alright," she said brightly. "I was brilliant. We survived."
"You got lucky. We got lucky. Just be glad I haven't scheduled you for disarmament training with the bomb squad."
"If it was necessary, don't you think Lester and Phillip would have instituted it a year ago when they hired us all on?"
"Lester and Burton don't always know what's necessary."
"And you do?"
"This time? Yes."
Jess rolled her eyes. "Becker—"
"Jessica. Report to the armoury at 14:00. It's not a request. It's an order."
Jess went storming off back to her desk, and Becker watched her go, the smile still tugging at the corner of his mouth. He couldn't help it. Worrying about Jess getting tetchy was like worrying about being pecked to death by angry baby ducks. Potentially uncomfortable, but not likely to be fatal.
"Do you really think it's a good idea to arm our resident member of Girls Aloud?" Lester asked as he came up to his desk.
"She can't be any more dangerous than Connor."
"Need I remind you how many times Connor has tranquillised, disabled, or nearly maimed members of his own team?"
Becker shrugged. "Anyway, I'm not suggesting actually issuing her a sidearm. I'm just training her down at the range."
"Will you be personally training every member of the ARC support staff, down to the tea lady in the canteen?"
"She'd probably be a better shot than Connor."
Lester appeared to consider this for a moment. "Fair point."
The ARC shooting range was in the bowels of the building. Unlike the rest of the facility, which was shining glass and steel, the range had plain cement walls. The long, wide room was divided into twenty shooting stations, the majority of which were empty when Becker came down. Only Sergeant Tully was there, two stations over from where Becker had set up.
Becker glanced at his watch, the face turned to the inside of his wrist. 14:06. Jess was late. He was about to get on comms to remind her of their appointment when the door swished open.
"Sorry! Sorry. I got turned around a few times on my way down here."
"I thought you knew the ARC inside out? You've read all the files."
"Very funny. Just because I can use the system to track you out in the field, that doesn't mean I can remember if it's two rights and then a left, or two lefts and then a right. Anyway, I'm here now, aren't I?"
"Right. So, I thought we'd start off with some basic safety training. It's not like the EMDs, or playing first-person shooter games."
"What makes you think I play video games?"
"You do all that computer stuff."
Becker handed her a pair of shooting glasses and hearing protectors. Jess made a face as she slipped them on, her hair catching awkwardly beneath the strap. Clipping a new cardboard range target to the chain holding system, he sent it back to the rear wall with the touch of a button.
"Don't worry if you can't hit the target on the first go. This session is mainly so you can get used to how to handle a weapon."
Jess wrinkled her nose. "That sounds like the set-up of a really filthy joke. You know... 'said the actress to the Bishop.'"
Becker's expression, however, remained serious. Possibly even faintly grim. "This isn't a joke, Jess. Working at the ARC isn't exactly the Famous Five. People get hurt here. People die. You've got to start taking this seriously."
"What makes you think I don't?"
"OK. How about the fact that if there were to be a creature incursion, or an intruder, you'd have a hell of a time getting away from them in those ridiculous shoes."
Jess glanced down at her current footwear: purple open-toed Espadrilles wedges with ribbons that tied around her ankles.
"These shoes are not ridiculous. They're adorable."
"If you're waiting for me to say they're ridiculously adorable, forget it."
"They are kinda—" Tully began, and Becker glared at him and the sergeant went back to removing rounds from their cartons.
"So what you're saying is, to be taken seriously, I have to dress... What, like a man? Like a soldier? Like a librarian? And that impacts how well I do my job how, exactly?"
Jess had narrowed her eyes, and her mouth was tight. Becker sensed he was in actual danger of getting injured by angry baby ducks, and backed off.
"I'm just saying, if something does happen—here in the ARC, or out there—I want you to be prepared. I don't want to have to worry about you."
Jess continued to glare at him for a few seconds, and then gave herself a little shake, expelling her breath in a puff of air. "OK, fine. Where do you want me to start?" she asked, for once completely serious and focussed.
"First, always treat the gun as if it is loaded—whether you've inserted the magazine or not. Never, ever, and I cannot stress this enough, ever point it at anything you want to keep. Do you understand?"
"No shooting off my own toes, or using it to gesture. Muzzle always pointed up, or at the range. Got it. Did you give Connor this lecture?"
"Many, many people have given Connor this lecture," he assured her. "Now, never touch the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Just grip the gun in your right hand—right in the V, between the thumb and index finger. This is a SIG p226, and it takes 9mm ammunition. The magazines we use hold 20 rounds. I know that sounds like a lot, but trust me, you still want to count your rounds and carry a second magazine. Now, just push the mag in until it clicks."
When she'd inserted the magazine into the gun and he heard it click into place, Becker came around to stand behind her, and laid his hand over hers to show her how to pull back the slide.
"OK, the first round is now chambered. That means you're almost ready to shoot. You want to stand with your feet shoulders distance apart, and angle your hips so you're at a forty-five degree angle to the target." As he spoke, he slipped one leg between hers and pushed her feet slightly further apart until they were shoulder's width. Jess held herself completely still as grasped her hips gently, and moved her into position with her the right foot back, her brightly-painted toes even with the rope heel of her left shoe.
When Becker stepped back, he realised she was blushing. The nape of her neck above the collar of her blouse was rapidly going pink, as were her cheeks, and she was blinking rapidly.
Swallowing, Becker realised perhaps Abby should have done this. Because Jess wasn't the only one who looked a little too warm in the damp, noisy concrete shooting range.
The sound of Tully chuckling as he loaded rounds into his magazine made the back of Becker's neck feel like it was on fire. Taking a deep breath, he tried to concentrate on what he was doing.
"OK, take your left hand and cup the bottom of the grip, wrapping your fingers around your right hand, for support. Squeeze the grip, and then relax them, for a firmer hold on the weapon."
"Squeeze and Relax. Got it."
Somehow, training the rest of the core ARC team had never involved that many sexual innuendoes and double-entendres, Becker was certain.
"OK, now—check to your left, and then to your right. Is there anyone in range?"
"Just Sgt. Tully. Hi, Tully!" She smiled brightly, and Tully gave her a jaunty salute.
Becker decided it was time to reassign Tully to gamma shift. For a month at least.
"I mean, is there anyone in range of the weapon, Jess."
"Now, raise the muzzle until the target is lined up with the sights on the barrel. You want to see the target centred in the rear site, and looks like it's sitting right on top of the front sight."
Peering over her shoulder to see how she was doing, Becker nodded crisply.
"Good. Good, now think of the weapon as an extension of your arm. Like you're pointing a finger at your target. Move your index finger to the trigger, and take a breath. Hold it, then breathe out."
He watched Jess' shoulders drop as she exhaled, and Becker stepped back. "OK, now, you don't want to pull or jerk the trigger. Just roll your index finger—"
Jess shot off five rounds in quick succession. Becker was so shocked, he yelled "Cease fire," before she had even emptied the clip.
Jess ejected the magazine and opened the action to check to make sure the chamber was clear, and then set them both down on the gun shelf, with the muzzle of the cleared SIG pointed down-range. Becker could only gawp at her as she stepped back and punched the button mounted on the wall. The paper target came forward on its chain.
Three rounds centre mass, two in the head.
"And now you’re laughing at me," Becker said as he unclipped the target.
Jess' lips twitched as she tried to hold back what he was sure was a very smug grin. "If you'd read my file, you might have noticed that I've already certified. Took a two day course when I was on holiday last year."
"You took a tactical course when you were on holiday?"
"Well… as you said. This isn't exactly the Famous Five." She shrugged. "So now that I've proved I can hit the broad side, does this mean you're going to call me 'Parker' and ask me to dress all in black?"
Becker didn't need to turn around to know that behind him, Tully was tuning red in the face and biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. But Jess just kept looking up at him with those guileless blue eyes dancing with merriment, and he sighed in defeat.
"Right. Fine. I'm an idiot."
Jess laughed, and took pity on him. "No, you're not. You're sweet. Misguided, and a bit Neanderthal. But sweet." Getting up on her toes, she gave him a peck on the cheek. "And anyway…" she dropped her voice to a stage-whisper, "you like guns. You really like guns. And you know what else you like?"
"You like my ridiculous shoes." Jess winked, and Tully made a strangled sound like a cough behind them. "Her name's Dorcas, by the way."
"Whose name?" Becker asked, mystified.
"The tea lady. I'll pop up to the canteen and send her down, shall I?"
Becker was rendered completely speechless as Jess sauntered out of the range with a little swing in her hips.
He closed his eyes, and counted to ten, clamping down hard on his desired response, which was to start swearing like a sailor, and possibly throw things before retiring to the nearest pub and attempt to drown his embarrassment in an appalling amount of beer.
Without looking behind him, Becker said, "Shut up, Tully," and then headed back to the armoury.
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