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Author's Note: Set between 5.03 and 5.04. Huge thanks to seren-ccd for betaing and listening to me burble at her constantly!
Unofficial Secrets Act
Jessica Anne Parker was sat in the middle of her living room floor, surrounded by books when her phone chirped to alert her to a new text.
R U awake? -b
She glanced at the clock on her DVR, and realised it was nearly midnight. When she'd started tidying the flat, it had been late afternoon. Her stomach growled ominously, and she texted Becker back as she wandered over to the fridge.
2 wired 2 sleep. A&C r @ Prospero flat 2nite. Come over? xx j
Setting the phone down on the polished marble kitchen counter, she peered at the unlabelled take-away cartons in the fridge, nearly gagging as she opened an ancient carton of lo mein that was fuzzy, green, and on the verge of sentience.
She was expecting another text, so when the doorchime went, she nearly dropped the bin bag she was chucking the remains of what looked like six months of half-eaten Chinese, Thai, and curries from the first two shelves of the fridge.
She padded down the stairs and opened the door to find Becker, hands deep in his pockets.
"Were you texting me from outside?"
"I don't suppose you brought food?" she asked wistfully, despite the fact that his hands were empty.
"Sorry—I came straight from the ARC. They've got most of the systems the beetles chewed through patched, but they're still running at only a third of capacity."
They wandered back upstairs, and Jess' eyes darted around to make sure it wasn't in too much of a state. When Connor and Abby had moved into her spare room, she'd moved all of her books up to the living room, where two sets of shelves had been installed in the exposed brick alcoves that lined one wall. She'd pulled everything off the bottom two shelves of each bookcase that afternoon, in an effort to get some organising done.
Jess sneaked a glimpse at Becker, and his reaction to the mess seemed to be one of concern rather than being appalled at the state of the place.
"I thought you'd be resting. Isn't that always what doctors on telly say, when you've been in a bad way? To get plenty of rest and fluids?"
"It was anaphylactic shock, not flu. All they did at Casualty was give me Paracetamol for the fever, pump me full of steroids and send me home. On the upside: no sign of anaphylaxis. Downside: I am bouncing off the walls."
"I can see that." He nodded his head toward the stacks of paperbacks, hardbacks, and DVDs that littered the floor in front of the telly.
"Oh. I was... it's just, Lester wouldn't let me patch into the Hub while I'm technically on Medical Leave, and I was going out of my mind with boredom."
"So you decided to turn your flat upside down. Clearly, there is logic at work there."
"Not everything. Just, erm... this bit." Jess sank onto the sofa, and tugged the fuzzy blue throw over her legs. "So, did you just come to check up on me?"
"Something like that." Becker shrugged out of his brown leather jacket, and laid it on the floor next to the sofa before joining her. "Seriously though, Jess. You were in a really bad way."
"You were worried about me."
"Of course I was. Not just because we… you know…"
"Snogged the other night?" Jess offered helpfully.
"It doesn’t sound particularly romantic when you put it like that."
"Oh, I dunno. I thought it was lovely. Anyway, today more than made up for it, or so I've been told. Big movie music stuff. I don't remember much after we left Medical."
"How much do you remember?"
"Bits and pieces, but it's all a bit jumbled. For some reason I thought there were tigers in the ARC. Apart from that, not much. Emily said I was hallucinating from the fever, mostly. Was I awful?"
"You said I was very mean, and that you hated me. Also, that I had lovely hair, and you wanted to touch it. So not that different from usual, really."
"Oh my God." Jess buried her face in her hands, horrified.
"Jess, Jess, I'm only joking." Becker laughed and pulled her hands away from her flaming cheeks.
"So I didn't say that?"
"No, you did. But I was joking about you always being positively loopy. You're the very picture of poise and elegance in your... are you wearing Spaceman Snoopy pyjamas?"
Jess glanced down at her lace-trimmed purple camisole and comfy flannel pyjama bottoms festooned with the Charlie Brown's dog, wearing a space suit helmet over his World War I flying ace goggles and scarf.
"They're my favourite. And I didn't know you were outside, or else I'd have put on clothes. You'll just have to take me as you find me."
"Oh, really?" He leaned down to whisper in her ear, "is that an invitation?"
His tone was cheeky, the same one he used to tell her she was brilliant both when she did something daft and when she did something genuinely remarkable. But beneath the teasing, there was something else. Something new since the other night.
"Might be." She licked her lips, leaning in closer, but he pulled back.
"You're wearing Snoopy pyjamas. I'd feel like a complete letch."
Jess rolled her eyes. "Fine—I'll change. Just stay here."
Jess came back up into the front room wearing a pair of grey yoga pants and orange socks. She'd thought about brushing her hair, putting on lip gloss. But considering Becker had just seen her at death's door, she supposed anything was an improvement.
Becker was standing in the centre of the wide circle of books, a paperback copy of A Separate Peace in his hands.
"I had to read it when I was a kid," she offered by way of explanation.
"So did I."
"I never think about what novels you'd read at a military academy."
"Actually, it was my granddad who gave it to me when I was sent to boarding school."
"How old were you?"
"Blimey. Did you like it? Boarding school, I mean."
"Not at first. But you get used to it. I went straight from there to Sandhurst." Becker flipped through the novel, noting where she had turned down corners to mark pages. "Granddad was Regular Army. He made me write a book report on this. I didn't understand it, then, I think."
"Do you now?"
"I haven't read it in years."
"You can borrow it, if you like."
"I would like, actually. Thank you." He laid the book atop his jacket. "C'mon—let's get the rest of these put away."
Jess gawped as he got down on his knees and started pulling stacks of books toward him.
"I didn't invite you over so you could help me clean my flat."
"It'll be half as much work with two of us. And you shouldn't be doing this anyway. You're meant to be convalescing."
"I'm not an invalid," she huffed as she started grabbing books and stacking them willy-nilly on the shelves despite the fact that her original intent had been to alphabetise them. "It was just an allergy attack, really. A really bad, really scary allergy attack."
Becker took a hardcover history book from her, and placed it side-by-side with a paperback romance novel.
"An allergy attack is when your nose runs, and your eyes itch. And maybe, just maybe you get hives. Your heart nearly stopped beating, Jess." He kept his eyes on the floor as he stacked books and put them onto the shelves. Jess kept staring at him, and finally laid her hand on his shoulder.
"You were amazing, today. I mean it." She scooted closer to him, and took a paperback guidebook of Athens from his unresisting fingers. "Abby told me everything you did. You went back out there not knowing if it was safe."
"You needed adrenaline," he said with a shrug, his fingers tightening around hers. "I wasn't about to lose you because of anything so… I didn't want to lose you."
"It's OK. I'm fine. Look at me," she took his face in her hands, and tilted her head so she could look into his eyes. His razor stubble was rough beneath her palms, and she suddenly felt a knot in her throat. "I'm OK."
She leaned forward and kissed him lightly.
"I'm OK, Becker."
She kissed him again, and this time he kissed her back. Like some switch had been flipped inside him, his hands came up to tangle in her hair as he licked into her mouth. Jess could feel his eyelashes brush her cheek, and she sucked on his lower lip gently. His hands were warm as they skimmed her shoulders and forearms before he splayed his fingers against her ribs.
She shivered, her breath catching in her throat as Becker traced the ribbon of exposed skin where her top rode up with one callused thumb. She made a small, needy sound against his mouth, and shifted so she straddled his hips as Becker's hands roamed her back beneath her purple top. She shivered as he kissed a path from her temple to her jaw, and nipped lightly at her throat before he teased the spot where her neck met her collarbone with his tongue. Jess' head fell back and she gulped in air as Becker dipped his head to kiss the gentle rise of her breast above the lace of her top, stubble prickling against the soft, pale skin. His tongue darted out to trace the constellation of small moles over her right breast.
"Jess..." he breathed against her skin. "Lovely, lovely, Jess."
She dug her blunt nails into his shoulders as he sucked a bruise over her pulse.
Jess fisted her fingers in his tee-shirt as he bent her backwards, one arm around her waist as he braced himself with his other hand and gently lowered her to her fuzzy faux-sheepskin area rug, careful not to crush her beneath his weight. A little too careful for Jess' taste. She hooked one leg around his hip, pulling him tight against her, and it was his turn to gasp into her mouth.
"You little minx," he chuckled.
"I'm not made of glass," she said as she arched up into him, rubbing the back of his thigh with her heel.
"Made of much sterner stuff," he agreed. "Fibreglass, at least-ow!"
Jess released his nipple, which she'd pinched through the thin fabric of his tee shirt.
"If that's the way you want to play it—" he threatened, and his teasing touches turned to relentless tickling up and down her sides until she was screaming with laughter and begging him to stop.
"Are you trying to tell me something about your family, Miss Parker?"
She smacked his shoulder, and he dropped a kiss on her forehead.
Jess could feel the spine of a book digging into her back, and she raised her hips just high enough to tug it free. She held the cover up, laughing as she read The Art of War in garish yellow type on the faded dust jacket before she tossed it across the floor. Becker laughed against her skin, the muscles of his stomach clenching against hers and she giggled.
"I think, perhaps, this is not getting your flat neatened up." Becker looked around at the haphazard stacks they'd tipped over to slide in diagonal lines across the oak floor. "In fact, we may be making more of a mess."
"S'OK," she said with a lopsided grin, stretching her arms above her head to snag a purple fuzzy throw pillow from next to the sofa and wedge it under her head. Whatever mad passion had seized them, the spell seemed to have been broken. But instead of feeling bereft, Jess just felt warm, relaxed, and happy.
She reached up and traced the lines of Becker's smile with the pads of her fingertips, and he caught her fingers and kissed them.
"It's good to see colour in your cheeks again."
Jess could only wonder what she looked like. Her lips felt swollen, and a flush was creeping up her breasts, neck, and cheeks—aided by the fact that even as he spoke, he was tracing circles on the inside of her wrist with his thumb.
Jess bit her lip, and reached up to run her fingers through his dark hair.
"You do have lovely hair," she said with a smile, her tongue caught between her teeth. He laughed, eyes crinkling at the corners. "I'm sorry I frightened you."
"Just promise me... promise me that you will never set foot outside this flat without an epi-pen in your bag. And leave one at work. And—I don't know. Wear long sleeves and insect repellent and—"
She cut off his rant with a kiss.
"I promise." She mimed crossing her heart with her finger.
"I've never seen anyone so prone to stumbling into dangerous situations unprepared. And I'm including Temple in that evaluation."
"Can we not talk about Connor when we're having a kiss and a cuddle, please?" She squirmed beneath him. "He's lovely and all, but honestly, I'd rather have only you on my mind."
On cue, her stomach growled loudly, and she buried her face in his neck as he laughed.
"Me and your greedy stomach, you mean." He rocked back on his calves, tugging her up with him. "When was the last time you ate?"
"I had a packet of crisps around lunchtime?"
"Jess..." he growled, scrubbing one hand over his face.
"I wasn't hungry!" she protested as she followed him to the kitchen. "The thought of food made me feel... ugh. But I think everything's wearing off now. I was actually going to rummage around in the cupboard when you rang."
"Here I was thinking you were in the market for a boyfriend, but what you really need is a nanny to make sure you're clean and fed."
He opened the fridge and began rummaging around inside.
"I'm not a child, I just... got busy. And I wasn't."
"In the market for a boyfriend." Jess shrugged. "I was actually perfectly happy living my life and doing my job, and being single in the city. And then you foiled all my plans by being really, really fit. And nice. And smart. And I'd say humble, except for the part where you totally aren't, Mr Smug Bastard."
"You left off 'lovely hair'."
"I take it all back. I don't fancy you even a little bit."
"What are you doing?" she asked as he pulled out eggs, butter, and a box of milk, and pushed the fridge door closed with his hip.
"What does it look like I'm doing?" He turned on the cooker, and threw a chunk of butter into the bottom of a saucepan. "I'm making us scrambled egg. It's one of exactly three things I can cook, and you don't have the ingredients for spaghetti bolognese or beans on toast. Bowls?"
Jess opened the cupboard beneath the counter, and pulled out a red mixing bowl.
"This is so... domestic of you. It's a bit at odds with the whole Special Forces Action Man thing."
"Everyone should know how to feed themselves. Even Special Forces. Especially Special Forces. I can't believe you don't even have a tin of baked beans."
"Connor," she offered by way of explanation.
"Where do you hide your salt?"
Jess handed him the salt cellar, which was sitting in plain sight on the counter. Granted, it was shaped like a penguin—that might have been what confused him. He gave it a look, and then began whisking the eggs and milk together with a fork.
Her stomach growled again as the smell of melted butter filled the kitchen. Becker gave her another dark look and Jess rolled her eyes.
"I know. I know. I'm rubbish."
She waited for him to tell her she wasn't rubbish, was brilliant. But he just kept his lips pursed as he stirred the eggs. Jess jumped down off her white stool and fetched two plates from the cupboard, and laid two places.
"Have you got any beer?"
Jess wrinkled her nose. "Beer with breakfast?"
"It's still breakfast, even if we're having it at gone midnight," she pointed out. "I could make coffee?"
"Perfect. Decaf, though. You're meant to be resting. And I hardly think you need any more stimulants."
Jess stuck out her tongue at him, but obeyed. By the time she returned to the counter with two steaming mugs of decaf coffee, Becker was spooning scrambled egg onto slices of buttered toast.
"Cheers," Becker said as they clinked mugs—hers with milk, his black with sugar.
"A kiss and a cuddle and you made me breakfast. Keep going on like this, and people will start to talk."
"About that..." Becker laid his fork down. "I really like spending time with you. But can we keep ourselves to ourselves for a bit? I just don't want everyone at work knowing our business."
"Keep our private lives private, you mean?"
"Exactly." Becker took a sip of his coffee, frowned, and added another teaspoon of sugar.
"So no more flirting in the Hub, you bringing me chocolate bars and adrenaline, me asking after you and occasionally dismantling bombs then?" Jess couldn't help the grin that spread over her face, thought she tried to hide it behind her mug.
Becker gestured with his fork. "You know what I mean."
"You mean I shouldn't come down to the armoury wearing a raincoat with fancy lacy lingerie beneath and nothing else, and offer to have my wicked way with you up against the racks of semi-automatic weapons?"
She was rewarded by his glazed look, a bit of egg and toast falling off his fork to hit the counter. "That would be... out of the question."
"James Becker, are you blushing?"
He ducked his head, muttering, "just the heat from the cooker."
"You are blushing, oh my God."
"It's just... Jesus, that's a hell of an image, Jess."
"Which part turns you on more? The idea of me in skimpy underthings, or the guns?"
"I think it's the combination," he admitted, tipping his mug back to take another swallow of coffee.
"So we're not even telling Connor and Abby?"
Becker nearly choked on the coffee. "Definitely not. It would be all over the ARC in seconds."
It was just past dawn and Connor and Abby let themselves back into Jess' flat with their key. Connor had a holdall slung over his shoulder which contained all his stuff which had migrated over to the Prospero flat while he'd been working on the prototype anomaly generator. Abby still wore her clothes from the day before, and had insisted they head back to their own digs after a night of talking, planning, and fantastic make-up sex.
"It's good to be home," Connor said as he opened the door to their room, and dumped his gear on the floor.
"Shhh, I don't want to wake Jess," Abby whispered, giving him a quick peck. "I'm going to check on her."
"OK," Connor whispered back.
Creeping across to Jess' room, Abby eased the door open. She expected to find Jess curled up beneath the bright yellow duvet, but the bed was still made—the scattering of orange and red pillows undisturbed. Jess' Snoopy pyjama bottoms were draped over the chair next to the chest of drawers, and Abby frowned.
Slipping her boots off, Abby padded upstairs to the front room, and stopped just shy of the kitchen counter.
She almost didn't recognise Captain Becker in civilian clothes. Also, his usually neat as a pin hair was falling over his forehead, and he was unshaven, his jaw dark with stubble. Lastly, Abby hadn't exactly expected Becker to be on the sofa in front of the telly, with Jess draped over him, her head pillowed on his chest. His arms were wound around her, and both of them appeared to be dead to the world asleep.
However, even if she hadn't expected it, she certainly was pleased by this particular development. She'd suspected something was up when Jess had returned from a late night at the ARC looking like the cat that had got the cream. But as Connor's hard drive had been the only thing Abby had been thinking about that particular evening, she'd never really asked Jess about it.
However, given how cosy the two of them looked, Abby suspected she'd hear all about it as soon as Jess was awake and back at work. Grinning, Abby crept back downstairs as softly as she could, she eased the door to her and Connor's room open slowly.
"Jess is asleep upstairs on the sofa."
"I think she's feeling much better." Abby pulled Connor away from his computer for a kiss that promised more than it delivered. He blinked sleepily at her as she pulled back, but didn't ask her to elaborate.
ljc's fan fiction