This is a Primeval Christmas Exchange story for Svear, who requested a funny story with Jess and Becker that ends with a confession from Becker! It was a bit longer than I anticipated, but it was fun to write!

Jess Parker walked swiftly down the hall towards the armory for the second time this morning. Mohammed Aziz had forgotten to sign the ministry paperwork AGAIN. Unfortunately, with Christmas in less than a week, there was no time to email and hope that the soldier would get the paperwork to her in time so she was forced to walk the two flights of stairs (the lift was being repaired!) down to the soldier personally to procure his signature. As she approached the gym, she stopped to look for the unfortunate man who was definitely going to receive a lecture from her about reviewing all paperwork he submitted to the Lester's office. She glanced down at the sheaf of papers in her arms before she walked up to the hallway window that looked into the gym that was located down the hall from the armory. The workout room was frequently filled with soldiers doing their workouts but this morning it was relatively quiet. In the corner, next to the seated bench, Jess noticed some movement.

Captain Hilary Becker was in the middle of his morning workout. He usually tried to come to the gym in the morning when it was less crowded. Jess watched as he finished replacing a set of weights, took off his now sweaty black shirt, and moved into the plank position on the floor to perform a set of press ups. Glancing around her to make sure no one was watching, she watched as his back glistened with sweat as he completed the first ten. Leaning closer to the window, Jess let her mind wander as she imagined Becker doing his workout in her small flat...perhaps after a breakfast of pancakes and...

Suddenly, her midmorning reverie was interrupted by a hand placed firmly on her shoulder. Screaming shrilly, Jess whirled around as the stack of papers in her hands flew up in the air and floated down around her like the beginnings of a Christmas snowfall.

Emily Merchant's eyes widened as she realized that she'd surprised the unsuspecting field coordinator and threw up her hands apologetically as she leaned down to help her pick up the pieces of white paper fluttering around the two of them.

"I am so terribly sorry, Jess. I didn't realize you weren't aware of me coming down the hall behind you. You must have been distracted by ..."

Her apology was cut off by the door to the gym being quickly pulled open and a shirtless Hilary Becker barreling through the door.

"What's going on? I heard someone scream. Jess! Are you all right? What happened?"

Jess Parker ears were a bright crimson as she hurriedly picked up the piles of papers on the floor and tried to look anywhere except Becker's concerned face.

Emily stood up. "Sorry, Becker, Jess was walking down the hall and I came up behind her and frightened her."

Jess continued to concentrate on picking up the paperwork as she answered Becker.

Becker crouched down and grabbed one of the last stacks of paper as she stood up and looked straight ahead at his bare chest. "Sure you're okay, Jess?" Becker said looking down at her.

"Oh...yeah...no problem...I just...got distracted and didn't hear Emily...you know...loads of paperwork to complete before the holiday...well, better go find Mohammed. I need his signature on this. Thanks!"

She hurried down the hall as Becker turned to watch her go. Emily watched quietly as she observed both the harried field coordinator and the captain. Becker turned back around, gave Emily a small smile and reentered the gym to complete his workout. She stared into space for a few seconds until a small smile appeared on her face and began walking toward the stairs to Matt's office on the upper floor at the ARC.

Matt was busy in his office, completing his assessment of two field reports the B team had made this week. He wanted to make sure that all traces of the creatures were removed and the team had followed protocol to the letter. He glance up as Emily glided into the room and gave her a small smile before he looked back down to the paperwork on the table. Emily stood leaning against the lab table at the side of his desk and busily began watering the plants that filled his office, her dark curls falling over her shoulder. Matt looked up again.

"Hmmm...you're puttering about with my plant collection so I know there's something on your mind...best tell me now...," he muttered with a raised eyebrow.

Emily gave him a sideways glance and continued to tend the greenery. "Matt," she began softly, "when did you know...that you cared for me...that you loved me, " she continued.

Both Matt's eyebrows rose high on his forehead and he stepped around the desk to move closer to her and take her in his arms. "What's this all about," he whispered. "Have I been a bit too busy lately, that I've forgotten to let you know how I feel about you?"

Emily met his eyes with her trademark soft smile and reached up to give him a kiss. "No, Matt, not at all. Truly, you're quite perfect..." She gave him a tiny smirk. "But, I've been watching Becker and Jess dance around each other, never quite connecting, and I feel as though all Becker needs is a tiny push and he could truly express his feelings to Jess. After all, she's an open book as far as he's concerned. He's the one who needs to "seize the day" and let her know his feelings."

Matt gazed warily at her with more than a little trepidation. "Emily Merchant...I'm not sure I like where this conversation is going. Meddling in the love lives of others never ends well as far as I've seen. Don't you remember when Lily in accounting tried to set up William and Tess. That was more than awkward until Will transferred to another department. These things are best left to the participants."

Emily looked at Matt and narrowed her eyes. "The problem here is that modern couples have no idea how to express feelings unless it's texting it into those ridiculous phones or sending an email. It's expressionless and unromantic! Christmas is a time to tell the truth. Isn't that the theme of that Christmas movie we watched the other day? "Love Actually"... In my day, one expressed an interest in another by sending them lovely handwritten letters. One didn't just meet in a bar and set up a "body call."

Matt laughed out loud. "I think you mean a "booty call," Emily, and if you are suggesting what I think you are, I think it's a bad idea!" he said frankly.

Emily looked up at him with a look that one could only describe as pleading. "I actually have a plan that could work. I will write a letter to Becker from Jess that "expresses her feelings" and wondering if he reciprocates them. He will, of course, tell her he feels the exact same way and their relationship will begin in earnest instead of this dancing around one another. I am quite sure of the success of my plan."

Matt held up both hands. "You're on your own with this one. I wash my hands of the mayhem I'm very sure you're going to create with your little scheme."

Emily leaned forward and gave him a quick kiss and she turned to leave his office. "Wait and see, Matt Anderson...my "covert" operation will not only be highly successful, it will make two of our coworkers very happy at Christmas time...perhaps as happy as you've made me," she smirked at him as he rolled his eyes but gazed at her lovingly.

"Good luck...you're going to need it."

Emily went to her small desk and opened a tiny drawer at the bottom where she kept a small wooden box. Opening it, she took out heavy parchment writing paper and a fountain pen. She immediately set to her task and within thirty minutes she had created a missive she felt captured the emotion she was looking for. She had considered signing it but felt Becker might recognize her signature and decided against it. Becker would know...the only person who would send him such a letter was Jess Parker. She sealed the note in an envelope, adding a bit of sealing wax to close it, and leaned back in her chair to figure out a way to deliver the note to an unsuspecting Becker. If she took it to his desk it might be very obvious who the author of the note was, but she knew Matt had a stack of papers on his desk that were from Jess which would be forwarded to Becker. She could slip the note between the papers. Matt would not be observant enough to notice and Becker would find it in the papers from Jess. Grinning at her own ingenuity, Emily picked up the envelope and hurried down to Matt's office to put her plan into action.


Hilary Becker strode into his office. He was tired. It had been an overly long training session and now all he wanted to do was finish the paperwork on his desk and go home. He sighed at the freshly delivered papers and wearily sat in his office chair to go through them. Half way down the stack an envelope appeared with his name on it in a distinctive script. He grabbed a letter opener, opening it with one swipe and began reading. His eyes grew wider with each word and his eyebrows flew up as he continued. This was a love letter. He quickly picked up the envelope to check if he'd gotten someone else's mail. No...there was his name in perfect script on the envelope...but it wasn't signed. Could this be from...no, no this wasn't her handwriting. He felt something he could only guess was disappointment. He quickly shook it off reminding himself that focusing on the job was imperative. Suddenly, he remembered security had recently set up a new camera feed in his office that he could access on his computer. He swiftly turned on the machine and ran the video back until he saw the papers appear on his desk. He nearly fell off his chair.

It...was...Matt...Anderson...What the hell?...What was he playing at? Matt writing him...a...love letter? But he was with Emily right? He had never considered Matt was ...Not that there's anything wrong with that he reminded himself quickly...but he knew Becker wasn't ...

Becker was completely confused. He needed someone to talk to. There was only one person who could help him make sense of this...and if his calculations were correct, she would be getting her things and leaving the building right about now.


Jess checked the feed from her ADD as she put it into standby mode as she waited for the B team coordinator to take over. As she waited, Alvin Miller, a young 16 year old intern entered the Hub and made his way over to the field coordinator.

"Hey, Jess...here's the copy of that report you asked for," he said smiling at her.

"Thanks, Alvin, I really appreciate how quickly you got that copy for me," she said grinning at him. He blushed with pride at her compliment and smiled back as he left the hub.


As Becker walked up the stairs to the hub, he almost ran into Emily as she exited one of the research rooms. Becker almost choked on the large drink he had just taken from his water bottle. Emily immediately grinned up at the Captain as they walked down the hall toward the hub.

"Hello Becker! How has your day been so far," she looked up at him expectantly as if she knew some secret that he didn't.

"Ummmmm...it's been pretty uneventful down here today..." Becker was beginning to sweat. His brain struggled to say something that resembled normal conversation.

"Soooooo...," he continued.."what do you and Matt have planned for this evening...erm...maybe dinner out?"

Becker was rambling now and he knew it. He just needed an escape route. Surely one of his soldiers would be coming down the hall any minute to rescue him from this increasingly awkward conversation.

Emily Merchant had survived in many situations during the year she lived in the past. She was sure Becker's lack of composure was because of the letter. She would just give him a bit of reassurance that now was the time he should act on his feelings given the "letter" that she was sure he thought Jess had written him.

"Becker," she began as she halted their forward movement in the hall with a hand on his arm. "I know you've received some "correspondence" recently and I just want you to know...I think it's time you acted upon it."

She gazed up at him with a sympathetic smile and she hoped, encouraging expression.

Becker had just taken a rather large sip of water from the bottle before she began speaking and proceeded to spit the entire contents out of his mouth as he began coughing and Emily proceeded to pound him heartily on the back.

"...sooooo...ermmm...thanks Emily...really appreciate your..."thoughts"...I'm going to run upstairs and see if I can catch Jess before she leaves..." His voice was barely a whisper as he tried to clear his throat and literally jogged down the hall toward the hub.

Emily let a small satisfied smile appear on her face. Matt obviously underestimated her ability to help her friends make a happy match. Men...they just didn't understand how this was done! She mentally patted herself on the back. Well...perhaps she should look around the ARC and see who else needed her matchmaking skills...


Connor Temple scrubbed his face as he walked out of the lab and toward the building exit. His experiment on anomalies hadn't panned out as he expected, Christmas was fast approaching and he hadn't picked up a gift for Abby yet. What he needed was a pint at the pub across the street and maybe catch the end of the football match on the TV. He almost ran into Becker as he left the Hub.

"Hey Becker...you leaving for the day?" Connor began conversationally.

"Yeah..." Becker began. "I tried to catch Jess but Bobby said she just left to go get some decorations for the Christmas party."

"Hey, I'm gonna grab a drink at Leo's across the street...Wanna grab a pint?"

Becker scrubbed his face wearily. "Yep!" He popped the "p".

They continued across the street and sat down in a booth to order a pint.

Becker needed to talk to SOMEONE about this strange situation and he guessed Temple was as good as anyone.

"Ummm...I received something "odd" today and I need your opinion and Temple...if you tell anyone...I WILL find a painful way to kill you." he began.

Connors eyebrows raised high but he kept quiet as Becker related his story of the "correspondence" he received and his strange conversation with Emily.

"Sooooooo...I don't know what's going on behind Emily Merchant's trademark Mona Lisa smile but I had THAT relationship completely wrong! It's a free country but ...whatever weird stuff THEY'RE into, I'm NOT! I've heard of that "50 Shades of Grey" book and definitely NOT my thing...," Becker finished his story with a large drink from the pint.

Connor's mouth had fallen open after Becker described the contents of the letter and it had not closed till he ended his story.

He finally burst out laughing and could not stop for an entire minute.

"Matt...you...hahahahahahahahahahaha..." Connor continued.

Becker was beginning to feel a little insulted. Certainly he was straight but he considered himself not unattractive. He'd had girlfriends. They had mentioned that he was rather handsome once or twice.

"Hey...Temple...maybe, you know, he's attracted to an "Alpha Male"...I happen to be straight but it's understandable "someone" could be attracted to me.

What was he saying? Becker realized he need another drink. He needed advice.

Connor finally stopped laughing. "Sorry, mate...I just got a picture and I couldn't stop laughing. Look...you've got this all wrong...that letter had to be from someone else. He began giggling again as Becker glared at him and finished his drink. He hoped Connor was right. Work was certainly going to be awkward tomorrow.


That night at dinner, the first thing Connor did was relay Becker's story to Abby who immediately began giggling for a sold three minutes. Gasping for breath, she grasped Connor's forearm as a solution to the problem came to her. "Con...I've got it...that letter HAD to be from Jess...All we need to do is put a letter from Becker on Jess' desk to answer HER letter and that will solve the problem! She'll go to see him...he'll confess his feelings...problem solved!"

"Yeah...but...I promised Becker under pain of death I wouldn't tell anyone...you know he probably knows really painful ways to kill me right?"

"Oh...seriously?!..." Abby smirked at Connor. "He doesn't even need to know...I'll take care of everything. I'll find some of our plain stationary and get to work. You know...women have much better communication skills than men...if we ruled the world, there'd never be all the silly miscommunications that men have!"


The next day there was an early morning anomaly in a small town outside of London that took several hours to secure. Jess immediately dispatched the team to the wooded that it appeared in. No creatures appeared but they team lingered several hours to be sure that none did. When they arrived back at the hub, each team member handed Jess their headsets and walked off to their individual offices. Emily had been stationed in a different part of the woods than Matt and caught up with him as he walked to his office.

"How did the anomaly minding go today? Fairly boring I'm sure," she said conversationally as they walked down the hall.

Matt looked at her with a slightly perplexed expression on his face. "Yeah...it went just fine...it's just...I don't know...Becker was kind of weird today."

Emily looked up at him. "Really? Strange in what way?"

"Well, when I tapped him on the shoulder to ask if Simmons was back, he practically jumped a foot in the air and then he kept mentioning his "girlfriend" like five times...I didn't even know he was dating anyone?"

Emily narrowed her eyes thoughtfully then grinned widely. "I think at the Christmas party tonight we will see the fruits of my labor! I wouldn't be surprised if a certain field coordinator has a new significant other too!"

Matt gazed at her doubtfully. "Hmmm...we'll see..."


Jess completed her reports on the anomaly just as Alvin, the sixteen year old intern arrived at her desk with the Christmas party decorations she had ordered.

She smiled at him broadly. "Thank you sooo much Alvin! I was worried those wouldn't make it. You're the best!"

He grinned at her amiably. "Oh, Miss Parker, by the way, I found this envelope on the floor...looks like your name was on it." He handed her the envelope and walked out of the hub.

Jess opened the envelope. She assumed that Alvin had given her a Christmas card and was embarrassed to give it to her in person. As she began reading, her eyes grew larger and the blush on her face grew more apparent. The card wasn't signed but she knew it had to be from the young intern. Jess had no idea how to handle the sweet yet unwanted card from the young man. She didn't want to hurt his feelings regarding his obvious case of puppy love. She needed to talk to a male friend about how to handle this and she could only think of one man who could help. She got up from her desk and hurried down the stairs to the armory.

Becker had just finished putting all the weapons in their charging stations when Jess strode swiftly into the room. Becker looked up.

"What's up Jess?"

"Ummmm...never mind," she stammered. Becker rolled his eyes and gestured toward the table and chairs in the corner of his office. Jess stared at him for a second then blurted out the entire story to the captain in a rush of words.

Becker stared at her sympathetically. "Wow...sounds like he has it bad.." he said. "Not that I blame him...I mean..." now he began to stutter. "A-

A-Anyway, I'm sure you're worried about hurting his feelings. I think the best way is to just say it straight out. Let him know that you understand how it feels to have a crush, but it's not mutual."

Jess smiled at Becker. He was so wonderful. His advice was sound. He looked incredibly sexy doing press ups shirtless...oh wait...she hoped she hadn't said any of that out loud.

"I'm just concerned...you know when I get nervous I tend to just say anything...I've got it." She snapped her fingers. "You could watch on the video and I'll wear my earpiece. Just tell me what to say...please?"

Becker nodded. How could he resist the adorable Jess Parker when she asked like that. Then, another idea popped in his head.

"Okay. But I have an idea. I'll help you with your little problem if you'll help me with mine!"

Jess eagerly agreed.

An hour later, Jess was seated at her station, earpiece in place, when Alvin made his afternoon delivery. Becker sat in his office watching on the monitor.

"Hey Alvin," Jess said, "Do you have a minute? I just need to talk to you if you have time." This was the perfect moment as the rest of the hub had left early to get ready for the Christmas party. Alvin nodded.

She took a deep breath. "Tell him you think he's a wonderful person and hard working intern. That way you begin on a positive note before you crush his soul..." Becker whispered in her ear. Jess looked up at the camera and narrowed her eyes then turned back to the young intern.

"Alvin, I think you're a wonderful person and an amazing intern...I really look forward to seeing you every day..."

Alvin held up his hand. "Miss Parker let me stop you right there. I know where this is going." Jess looked confused.

"I think you're expressing some feelings that I do not reciprocate. My girlfriend,Claire, she's eighteen and really smart, told me this might happen. She told me sometimes in an office one of the "cougars" might pursue a relationship with me and I should be direct in letting them know I have a girlfriend." Jess sat stunned for a moment. Becker in the control room could not control the unrestrained laughter that escaped from him. He was unable to speak as Jess narrowed her eyes at the boy. "Excuse me, Alvin, but you do know I'm only 21, it's not like I'm a forty year old hitting on you."

Alvin looked at her with sympathy. "I understand Miss Parker. I didn't want to hurt your feelings so we'll just leave it as friends." He held out his hand.

Well this little humiliation was going to be erased from the camera feed as soon as possible thought Jess as she glared up at the camera, threw up her hands, and reached out to shake Alvin's hand. She resisted the temptation to shake her fist at the camera toward Becker who still was gasping for air and shaking with laughter. Alvin gave Jess a quick smile and left the hub as Becker finally made his way down to her.

She crossed her arms and glared at him. "Jess," he smirked "I'm sorry but that was pretty hilarious. C'mon..." She glared a minute more till he could see the edge of her mouth begin to turn up into a smile and knew she forgave him.

"Well we've fixed your little problem...Now let's go fix mine," said Becker determinedly.

Jess looked at him quizzically.


The team sat at the table getting ready to order drinks as the rest of the civilian workers and military members of the ARC streamed into the pub. Matt, Emily, Abby, and Connor sat at the table waiting for the rest of the team.

"Will Lester be back in time for the Christmas party," asked Abby.

"He called about an hour ago and said he'd have his driver bring him directly here. He hates these meetings with the ministry," replied Connor.


Becker sat in the driver's seat in the parking lot at the pub staring as his so-called friend Jess giggled uncontrollably as Becker had finished explaining his predicament.

"Seriously, Jess...stop laughing...it could happen...not that I would welcome that...it's just...you're kind of hurting my ego here..." Becker huffed as she finished laughing. Jess wiped the tears from her eyes.

"I'm sorry Becker...it's just...I'm imagining the two of you together...," she replied. "Now, so that I understand, we are pretending to be together so Matt or whoever wrote the letter will get the idea you're not interested, yeah?" Becker nodded. Jess grinned and grabbed his hand..."Best we start right now, darling!" she said as she smirked at him. Becker grinned back and went to open her door.

Matt and Connor were discussing the anomaly in the forest when Becker and Jess walked in hand in hand. Emily immediately poked Matt with her finger and assumed a look of incredible self satisfaction. As Becker and Jess sat down at the table Abby put her chin on her hand and nodded at Connor whose eyebrows rose in surprise. As Becker sat down next to Jess he laid his arm around her shoulders as she leaned into his side.

"Well..." said Matt. "You two look very "close" tonight. Something you haven't told us?"

Jess glanced over at Becker. "That's very possible!," said Jess cryptically. Emily could no longer contain herself. "I'm so glad," she blurted out. "I know the letter I sent was not very subtle but at least it served it's purpose and brought the two of you together...I hope you're not angry with me for using a bit of subterfuge to bring you two to your senses!"

Becker gaped at Emily. "You! You sent the letter...but...but it wasn't signed!"

She smiled. "Of course! I wanted you to think it was from Jess!"

Becker scrubbed his face with his hands. "I checked the video feed. MATT DROPPED IT OFF! What was I supposed to think!"

Matt Anderson's mouth dropped open. "You thought WHAT? Emily Merchant!? Now do you see why I warned you about this!

Emily blushed furiously. "Oh my goodness...Becker you mean when you were asking me about the letter you thought I was saying...?" She covered her face with her hands.

Abby stood up. "But...but what about the letter I put on Jess' desk?"

Jess stared at Abby. "I thought that was from Alvin, the intern! I practically propositioned him trying to protect his feelings while telling him I wasn't interested in him. He called me a COUGAR!" Jess moaned as she replayed the incident in her head.

Connor leaned forward toward Abby. "Um...Abby...what was it you said about "If women ruled the world?"

Abby's face now matched Emily's.

Becker suddenly stood up. "Jess Parker...I hear a slow song. Would you like to dance?" Jess glared a minute more at their friends and then moved to join Becker on the floor. He pulled her into his arms and wrapped his hands around her waist.

"Jess...our idiot friends have made me realize ...I need to tell you...I'm ...I might as well come out and say I've been in love with you for quite a while and I just couldn't tell you... if you don't feel the same I understand...Jess's eyes were shining as she looked up at him...

"Shhhh...Becker...I understand...and I love you too...BUT..." Becker looked down at her with a worried look. "...I know I'm really just a rebound romance since Matt broke your heart..." Jess began to giggle again as Becker silenced her by pulling her toward him and pressing his lips against hers as Jess smiled and kissed him back as they slowly moved around the dance floor.

Looking on from the table, Emily finally managed to remove her hands from her face to see the couple engaged in a passionate kiss. She looked over at Abby. "Well, certainly, all is well that ends well. Abby do you know, Cecilia in the research department has a rather obvious crush on Reynardo in medical. Maybe we can..." Matt silenced her with a glare softened only by his placing his arm around her shoulders. "Let's just enjoy our Christmas before we start any more matchmaking endeavors shall we Jane Austen." Emily smiled and leaned into Matt's side as she watched the new couple dancing slowly together. It would be a very Merry Christmas indeed...

There you go, Svear! I'm so sorry it ran so terribly long! Frohe Weihnachten!