Author's note: I originally thought of posting this as a separate story, but in order to justify my label of hurt/comfort, I suppose there should actually be some comfort in this story :-)

Thus, here is some sugar. (From Sarah's perspective because she was sort of neglected in the body of the fic-and I like her.) This wasn't meant to be shippy (just 'friendly like'), but doubtless it could be taken that way.


Epilogue

Her body had never been so fatigued, her muscles so sore. Even on the most exhausting of digs, after sixteen hour days of hauling dirt in the direct, scalding sun of the Egyptian desert, Dr. Sarah Page had never felt so completely worn out. She released an immense sigh of relief as she plopped down on her sofa.

"Kettle's on."

"Thanks," Sarah said gratefully, giving the man who appeared out of the kitchen a wide smile.

"I'll be... er...leaving then."

"Becker, you don't have to go," Sarah said, both confused and amused that he seemed so uncomfortable.

"You need your rest, not company," he asserted. Something about his demeanor, the way his eyes lingered upon her face-examining the bruising no doubt still lingering there... He didn't really want to leave her alone.

"Sit." She opted to forego the 'please', knowing an order would be far more effective since it circumvented his forebrain and it was practically instinct for him to obey commands.

He sat in the chair that was the sofa's mate in colour and design, as far away as possible from her as he could get whilst still remaining in the same room. It seemed odd, since the more Sarah considered her fragmentary memory of being in hospital, the more assured she was of his ever-present vigil at her side. However, if it weren't for her sister's not so subtle questions about the cute albeit uptight guy always hanging about, she would never have realized.

Undoubtedly, he had spent his fair share of time as an inpatient before being released to haunt Sarah's room. His left wrist and forearm were in a brace. And there were still discolorations staining his exposed skin-the remnants of combat, and torture. What he had gone through, she could not imagine... He had not said a word about it to anyone, not a complaint, but Abby had told Sarah about the horrible shape the soldier had been at the end of that day, tears welling in her eyes as she described what they had found in that room. The bodies, the gore, the ghastly instruments.

The thought of someone she knew, would even call a friend, suffering so horribly-it made her physically ill. And yet she still studied the man, wondering at how he could hold himself together so well, when she felt like curling up in a ball and crying herself to sleep.

She met his eyes.

Hastily, they both looked away, as if they were strangers catching one another staring across a restaurant or in the tube. It was enough to see the weariness, the sadness in their dark depths, the absence of that good humour he always seemed to possess, and Sarah found she could no longer bear looking in his direction at all. If she did, she just knew that she would bound across the room despite the protestation of her stiff muscles, and wrap her arms around the man in an attempt to soothe him like a child with a scraped knee.

They continued to sit in silence, each staring off in their own little world rather than studying the other. The kettle whistled, and they both jumped.

"I've got it," Becker announced, quicker to rise to his feet than she.

When he returned with a couple steaming mugs of tea, she somehow managed to coax him into sitting beside her.

"Do you mind?" she asked, indicating her intent to stare mindlessly at the television. He shrugged his consent, sipping at the hot beverage.

Ugh! Violence...sex...more violence... Ooh! Drawn by the charming face of Carey Grant in full black and white glory, she paused, and then decided her search was over. Nothing like Philadelphia Story in which to lose your troubles.

She glanced at her guest. Definitely not a film she'd believe to appeal to the soldier, but he made no complaint. He sat beside her, quietly drinking his cup of tea, and long after it was empty.

Surely, she had given him the excuse to relax, to not be alone in his troubled state. And Sarah would not care if he wanted to say he remained to make her feel safe, to protect her.

She must have nodded off, for Katherine Hepburn was promising to be 'yar' before she realized it. And Becker-his breathing had changed. He was fast asleep, his head lolling ever so slightly onto her shoulder. It was not an easy task, but she managed to shift his body so that he lay on the sofa, his head in her lap. And she knew how massively exhausted the man truly was, for he did not stir in the least, an oddity for a highly strung military type. Perhaps, he felt safe with her. She certainly hoped it were the case.

She caught herself absently running fingers through his currently rakish dark hair, hesitating over the intimate, near-motherly action that would doubtless not be well received. When he yet remained dead to the world asleep, she resumed her coddling of the broken soldier, if only because it gave her some measure of comfort.

Noticing the blood crusted about different places of his scalp, denoting wounds not yet healed, she sighed.

The poor man. He took such abuse just to spare others. And lord knew they didn't go out of their way to make his job any easier.

She whispered gently into his ear, hoping he'd heed her advice.

"Let someone else watch over you for once."


A/N: Well, that was fun… now what shall I do?