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beth writing 30 days without

Fic: Primeval - The Day After (Tangled Web Series) K+

Title:  The Day After
Author:  maddie_amber
Rating: K+
Characters/Pairing: Becker, Jess, Becker/Jess relationship not yet established
Disclaimer:  They're not mine.  Just borrowing them for a bit.  I'll return them when I'm done.  No infringement intended
Summary: Story three in the "Tangled Web" series.  Set after episode 4-4, and after story "You Can't Save Them All"    Jess has spent the night caring for Becker after he was injured during the incursion at the McKinnon School. 



She awoke to the scent of lemon and a sharp pain in her neck from sleeping curled up in an armchair.  Befuddled by sleep, Jess Parker sat up rubbing her eyes, momentarily disoriented and unsure of her surroundings.  On a small table next to her sat a steaming cup of freshly brewed tea, honey and several slices of lemon.  Cautiously, she tipped her head in the opposite direction to relieve the twinge.

“Good Morning.”  Becker stood in the doorway to the kitchen, the barrel of a disassembled  rifle in one hand, polishing cloth in the other, meticulously buffing the metal as he spoke. 

“Becker?” she said questioningly, and then remembered she had come to check on him last evening.  Intending to stay only long enough to assure herself he was alright, she had found him, still suffering from the effects of the Therocephalian bite wound on his thigh, running a high fever.  She had immediately gone into “Dr. Parker” mode, redressing is wound, dosing him with antibiotics and fever reducers, and keeping watch through the night. 

His sleep had been tormented by fevered dreams and pain from his wound.  Crying out, he had called the names of those he had lost, reliving in his nightmares struggles and failures only he perceived as failure.  She had held his hand, though he did not know she was present, woke him enough to force him to take medication, and swore to herself she would never discuss anything he had said in his delirium. Somewhere in the early hours, the fever broke and he finally settled into a restful sleep.  The last thing she remembered was curling up in this armchair. 

Becker looked better than she currently felt.  He had obviously been up long enough to have showered, shaved and changed into fresh clothes.  The clean scent of soap competed with the scent of lemon. 

“You shouldn’t have showered.  You need to keep the bandages dry,” she croaked through a sleep-congested throat.  That sounded horrible, she admonished herself.  Berating him and you’ve barely woken up yourself. 

“I didn’t and I did,” he answered with a slight grin.  “After a tour in Afghanistan you learn to bathe in a teacup.” 

“Sorry,” she said.  “I didn’t mean to – “

“Reprimand me?” Becker finished her sentence. 

She nodded.  “Sorry,” she said again.

“I’m the one who should apologize.  For being a stubborn idiot.” He looked at her steadily, and she felt herself blushing.  She must look a fright after sleeping in an armchair all night.  “Thank you, Jess.  I’m not the best patient.  But things might have gone very badly had you not intervened last night.”

“How is your leg?”

“Better.”

“Pain?”

“It throbs a bit.  I feel like I have a tree trunk attached to my hip, but no worse when I stand on it.”

Jess stretched, reached for her tea, and glanced at her watch.  A thrill of panic went through her.

“Oh my God, I was supposed to be at work an hour ago.”  She jumped to her feet, almost upsetting her cup in the process.  For a moment she just stood stupidly still feeling out of kilter with the world.  Realizing she was barefooted, Jess began searching frantically for the shoes she had kicked off in the middle of the night.

“Jess,” Becker said calmly making no effort to help her search. 

“This is horrible.”  She managed to find one shoe under the chair on which she had fallen asleep and pulled it on her foot. 

“Jess.”

“Lester is going to kill me.”  Bending over she groped, found what she was after and dragged the second shoe from under the couch.  She stood up, one shoe on and one off in a lopsided pose.

“Jess,” Becker repeated again, suppressed laughter in his voice. 

“Worse, Lester is going to fire me.”  Pulling on the second shoe she ran her fingers through her hair wincing as she encountered a tangled mess.

“Jess, calm down.”

“I have to go.  I have never been late or taken an unscheduled day off.  What will Lester think,” Jess breathed out in a huff. 

“Jess, slow down.”  There was the hint of a grin on his face.  He set the gun barrel down and limped closer to where she stood.

“I can’t.  I really have to run.”  She scooped up the book she had begun to read the night before and placed it back on the bookshelf. 

“You should come along with me.  Have the doctors at the ARC check you over.” 

“Jess, listen to me please.”  He reached out and took her by the shoulders, slowing her manic forward momentum.  “There is no need for you to rush.  I’ve spoken with Lester.  He said you can report when you’re ready or take a holiday if you prefer.  You’re covered.” 

“You what?” Jess froze in her tracks.

“I talked to Lester.  Explained what happened.  Told him you were here.”

“You told him I spent the night?”  Jess felt her eyes widen with alarm and her heart began to thump harder in her chest. 

“When your cell rang, I thought about lying and telling him that only your phone had spent the night, but decided truth was the better course.” 

Jess stepped away, turned her back to him then turned around to face him.  How often had she fantasized that one day she might spend the night here, but hearing him say the words, knowing someone else knew, was a step she hadn’t been prepared to take and an interest she wasn’t quite ready to admit.  Her stomach did a wretched flip flop as the thought sunk in. 

“The entire ARC now knows I spent the night at Captain Becker’s flat.”  She hoped her voice didn’t sound like a wail of despair. 

“Nothing happened, Jess.” 

“Nothing had to happen.”  She looked at him and hoped he did not take her words the wrong way.  “You do not know how fertile Connor’s imagination can be.  He will create an entire porn film in his mind.  And probably share it with anyone who will listen.” 

“Nothing happened.”  Becker had stepped closer, standing less than a foot away his eyes locked on hers. 

She blew away a strand of hair that tickled across her nose.  She raised and lowered her hands then brought them both to her forehead, eyes closed.  “It doesn’t matter.  I’ll have the reputation without having done anything.”  She opened her eyes and looked directly into his.

“We could fix that,” he said in a soft whisper.  Becker’s intense gaze, his closeness, the clean scent of soap mingled with gun oil that she had come to think of as distinctly his fragrance, did more to settle her scrambled wits than a good swift slap.  Her jaw dropped, snapped shut again, and once more she felt the heat of embarrassment rising to her cheeks.  “Trust me, Jess.  Neither Connor nor anyone else will make any scathing comments.  I told Lester the truth.  If you hadn’t stopped by last night who knows how sick I might have become.  Give Lester some credit.  He understands.  He will be discrete.” 

She flopped down into the chair again, elbows on knees and her face in her hands.  “Sorry,” she said again, looking up at him.

This time he did grin.  “Stop apologizing.  You had a long night I’m sure.  You’ll feel better after a bit of breakfast.  There’s a lovely cafe a half block from here.  Let me buy you something to eat.  You can think on it, and if you decide to go in to the ARC for the rest of the day, I’m sure Lester will be glad to have you and nothing will be said. ”

Jess ran her fingers through her hair again.  She felt disheveled and out of sorts.  Becker apparently sensed her discomfort. 

“Look, Jess, my kitchen might be sorely short on food, but the bathroom has plenty of hot water, soap, shampoo and clean towels.  Drink your tea.  Get freshened up.  I guarantee you’ll feel better, and then you can decide on the breakfast.”

Thirty five minutes later she emerged from the now steamy bathroom, hair wet, and her face scrubbed clean of make-up.  She did feel better, even though she wore the same crumpled clothes she had worn all night, and was distinctly uncomfortable facing Becker with dripping hair and without her makeup.  He nodded approvingly none-the-less, and she told herself she would not blush when she saw his eyes run up and down her body from wet hair to bare feet.

“Better?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Breakfast?  Or do you want to go straight away to the ARC?”

“I think breakfast would be lovely.  I’m already late. What’s another hour or so? But I don’t think it would be wise for you to walk.  Not even half a block.  You’ve already been up on that leg too long.”

“I’m not going to be able to fit this leg into your car either.  We take my SUV.  But you’ll have to drive.”  He held out the keys to her.  It was only then she noticed he was leaning rather heavily on a sleek black cane.  He acknowledged her curious look with a shrug.  “Souvenir.”  He made no further comment, but held his free arm out to her.  “Shall we.” 

With shoes in one hand she slipped the other through his proffered arm. 

 

# # # #

 

He stood in the shadows, undetected.  He had spent most of his life learning to be obscure, to blend into the background unnoticed and ignored.  A lesson he had learned from them so many years ago.  That was why he had survived.  That was why he was so good at what he did.  Watching, waiting and striking from obscurity.  His victims never knew he was observing them until he chose to reveal his presence.  By then it was too late. 

It had not taken him long to connect with the information underground that pulsed through the city as it did in every city he had ever been in regardless of the age.  Where there was money to be made, revenge to be sought, trades to be bartered, bodies to be exchanged, whether legally or illicitly, the network provided a conduit to connect those who wanted something done with those willing to do, for a price.

It had not taken long for the bounty to be named.  An outraged and grief stricken father possessed with sufficient capital to avenge the tragically inexplicable death of his only daughter had set the price.  His request was a simple - present any information leading to kidnapping and subsequent punishment of those responsible for failing to protect his child. 

Standing in the shadows, the small silver cased box in his hand, he still marveled that photography had come so far.  He waited until they had settled at an outdoor table, heads bend together over steaming mugs.  Their muffled voices were too soft for him to understand the words they exchanged, but words were not important.  Only the pictures were important. 

 

 

Comments

ooh, the plot thickens, I love it =]
Though I can just imagine Lester making some comments to Jess at some point, purely to entertain himself if nothing else.
Love this (currently) mini series <333
Eee! Fantastic update! Jess being flustered while Becker is amusingly calm was wonderful. And I'm desperate to know what's going to happen next!
lol at flustered panicking Jess. Meep for the mysterious watcher!
Ending on a cliffhanger!!! Did you ever write more of this?