I've decided that, judging by what they wear in the show, it's late Spring by the end of Series 4. Not that it ever seems to be winter on the show... but whatever.
April was not a fun month at the ARC. The reappearance and then rapid disappearance of Danny, and the revelation that Ethan was actually his brother, had had a profound effect on all the members of the team, even Lester. Matt didn't say anything but he was obviously upset at the loss of Emily. Plus, he was even more... Matt than usual. And Connor was definitely acting weird – weird and jumpy, and closeted in his lab at all hours of the day, usually with Phillip. The anomalies were getting more frequent and stranger, and every single one seemed to have a creature incursion.
So, at the beginning of May, Jess made the decision to not mention the fact that it was her birthday on the 7th. It wasn't a big deal anyway; she wasn't planning anything for it. It had been months since she'd seen any of her friends from outside of work, and her parents were on a cruise on the other side of the world. She didn't need presents and cards and attention – in fact she'd never felt less like celebrating. She didn't know exactly what was going on at work, but she had a bad feeling, like something was going to happen soon – something big.
Still, it would have been nice to not have been woken up at 4am by an anomaly alert. Her phone started ringing, pulling her from a deep sleep, and she was then tasked with waking up Abby and Connor before making her way to the ARC while they went straight to the anomaly site. By the time they got to site there'd been a creature incursion, and it was a sabre-tooth tiger of all things. It was in the basement of an office block, and Jess had to stay glued to her screens for three hours, guiding the team through the offices and looking out for the creature. They managed to get it back through the anomaly, but one of Becker's men got mauled by it – he wasn't killed, thank god, but he was definitely going to be out of the field for a couple of months.
No sooner had they secured the anomaly than did the second one open. It had been happening more and more – two anomalies opening within hours of each other. They didn't know what it meant, except to make their jobs that much harder.
This anomaly was harder to deal with – in a park behind a school playground, at the height of the school run... luckily the creature incursion there was quickly dealt with without any members of the team or the public getting injured. However, it was in a very public place, which brought a whole new mess of problems. Suddenly Jess had stories to spin and local law enforcement to contact... it was times like this that she wished they'd hired a new media consultant after Jenny Lewis left.
Meanwhile, the anomaly in the office closed without too much hassle. The other anomaly was cornered off and Jess was left to pray that it would close soon.
It finally did in the late afternoon, and though there was a lot of clean up still to do, Jess was finally able to relax. She stood up from her desk for the first time in hours, her stomach aching with hunger – she hadn't eaten anything all day.
So yeah, not the best birthday ever.
A little while later, after eating something, Jess was feeling a little better but it was also starting to dawn on her just how much paperwork these two anomalies were going to cost her. She was going to be at the ARC until very late that night.
She sighed and started hacking into certain CCTV systems to erase evidence of the anomalies.
She looked up to see Becker standing next to her desk, looking as tired as she felt. Probably more – she hadn't been running around in the field all day.
She gave him a small smile. "Hi," she said. She sat back in her chair and sighed. "The anomaly is officially closed."
Becker nodded. "Good," he said. "And now for the paperwork..."
Jess gave a humourless chuckle. "My favourite part," she said sarcastically. She and Becker shared a smile before Jess sat up properly. "How's Landon?" She asked him.
Becker's expression darkened. "He's gonna be okay," he said. "It looked worse than it was but..."
Jess nodded. There was silence for a few moments, and Becker came round the desk and leant back against it, next to Jess' chair.
"So..." he said after a moment. "This must be the worst birthday ever."
Jess' head snapped round and she stared at him, her eyes wide. He looked back, one eyebrow raised. Jess shook her head slightly. "How did you..."
Becker smirked. "What? You're allowed to read my file but I'm not allowed to read yours?" He said.
Jess let out a disbelieving half-laugh and shook her head again, but before she could say anything Becker held out his hand. Her eyes widened when she saw he was holding a small, rectangular present wrapped in blue paper. "This is for you," he said.
Jess gaped at him. "You got me a present?" She said. Becker just smiled, and Jess started to smile too. "Is it chocolate?" She asked, taking it from him. It was very light.
Becker grinned. "No, sorry," he said. Jess grinned back and started to rip the blue paper off – she was never one for delicately unwrapping gifts. Becker shifted slightly next to her as the paper parted to reveal a plain white box. "It's nothing much," he said, sounding a bit awkward. "There's a crafts market near my flat and I saw this and thought you might like it..."
Jess glanced at him before she pulled the lid off the box. And gasped.
It was a necklace... and it was beautiful. It had a relatively fine bronze chain, and a small cluster of charms were threaded onto it. They were bronze and peach and light blue, flowers and leaves and beads and, nestled among them, a small bronze 'J'.
Becker cleared his throat. "You don't have to wear it or anything," he said. Jess looked up at him – he looked extremely uncomfortable. "I mean, if you don't like it," he said.
Jess stared at him. "Are you kidding?" She said. "I love it!"
Becker's face was a picture of relief, and Jess had to laugh. A moment later, on impulse, she jumped out of her chair and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. She felt him freeze for a second but then he put his arms around her back and hugged her back. Jess grinned and let the hug go on for as long she dared before pulling back. Becker immediately folded his arms into what Jess thought of as his default 'Becker on alert' pose. She fought back a smirk.
"Thank you," she said firmly. "I'm going to put it on right now." She reached down and pulled the strand of beads she was wearing over her head, and then reached for the necklace. The clasp was a little fiddly, but she got it undone after a few moments. She was just about to put it around her neck when Becker's hands reached out and covered hers, gently taking the necklace off of her.
"Here," he said, standing up properly. He stepped closer to her and reached out to put the necklace on for her. He had to lean forward to look over her shoulder and see what he was doing, and Jess' breath caught in her throat at his proximity. He was so close that the slightest movement would brush her against him. She froze, her heart beating fast. They'd never been this close before. Okay, yes, technically they had been closer when they'd hugged... but this somehow felt so much more intimate.
It must have only taken Becker a couple of seconds to fasten the necklace, but it felt much longer to Jess. She swallowed as she felt the necklace settle against her neck, and then Becker took a small step back – but his hands came to rest on her shoulders. Then – and she really wasn't expecting this – he kissed her on the cheek.
He stepped properly and folded his arms again. "Happy birthday," he said after a moment.
Jess could feel herself blushing, and her hand went to her new necklace, her fingers worrying the charms. Becker was looking at her, waiting for her to say something. She should probably say thank you.
"Did you really read my file?" She blurted out instead.
Becker's eyebrow shot up. "Yep," he said. Jess could see him fighting a smile – Jess assumed he'd found something funny in there... probably the bit about her five years of beginner's tap classes. She loved tap but she really wasn't very good at it.
Becker looked at her seriously. "Don't worry, I didn't read any of the personal bits," he said. "You know, like about husbands or boyfriends... or girlfriends." He gave her a wide-eyed innocent look as his voice took on a teasing edge. "But I guess it would be a boyfriend you had if you had any of those–"
"Oh, go and do your paperwork!" Jess exclaimed, flinging herself back into her chair and turning away from him. Becker started laughing and Jess shook her head, unable to stop herself from grinning along with him.
"See you later," Becker said, still chuckling. He headed for the door and Jess watched him go – he turned in the doorway and gave her one last smile before disappearing.
Jess smiled as well, remembering what he'd said to her minutes before... something that earlier she would have agreed with: so, this must be the worst birthday ever. She put her hand around her necklace again and bit her lip.