I started writing this weeks ago but was trying to come up with a really witty, clever ending for it... yeah, I gave up on that. It's set during the webisodes, or between the webisodes and Series 4.
What had started out as just a quick visit to check everything was okay on his second day at the ARC, had turned into something of a ritual for Becker – he would pop in most days now, and spend anything from ten minutes to an hour there.
Becker sighed and closed his eyes, resting his head back against the wall. This was the one place in the ARC that he felt he could relax. He didn't really want to think about what it said about him, that the only place he felt at peace was in the company of a prehistoric lizard, but it was the truth. He'd come back to work and, for the most part, he'd put the past behind him... as much as someone who dealt with rips in time could, anyway. But still... he so often felt uneasy in the new ARC.
Here, though, he felt more like his old self. And he had a feeling the visits were appreciated by his scaly friend as well.
Becker's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the containment doors opening and closing. He opened his eyes in time to see the jets of air blast whoever was coming through into the menagerie. Becker sat up straight, casting a guilty look at the top of the shelves above him and wondering how he was going to explain his presence here to the unexpected visitor.
The air cleared and the second set of doors opened to reveal Jess. Becker relaxed slightly.
Jess caught sight of him and paused just inside the doorway. He nodded hello.
"Hi..." Jess said after a moment. "I was looking for you, to go over... well I couldn't find you and someone said they saw you..." Her voice trailed off and she frowned. "What are you doing in here?"
Becker hesitated. "Erm –"
Rex chose that moment to leap off the top of the shelves he'd been sitting on, chirruping as he swooped through the air towards Jess. She squeaked in surprise and jumped back, her eyes wide as Rex landed on the table in front of her. He tucked his wings in and cocked his head to one side, chirruping again.
Becker had to fight back a grin. "Jess, meet Rex," he said.
Jess gave Becker a disbelieving look. "Rex?" She repeated.
Becker nodded and stood up. "Yeah. He was one of the first creatures to come through the anomalies," he said. Then he shrugged. "Well... that we knew of."
Jess nodded slowly and shifted her attention back to Rex. He was preening himself on the table, looking for all the world like he knew he was the topic of conversation. Becker guessed that he probably did.
"It's how Abby got involved with the anomalies – the boy who found him phoned the zoo where she worked, and she went to identify him," Becker said. "He was kind of her pet – he lived with her and Connor."
Jess looked surprised again. "Outside the ARC?"
"Uh-huh," Becker said. He smiled. "Protocol was a bit laxer then."
"Clearly," Jess said sardonically.
Becker walked over to the window overlooking the menagerie and gestured for Jess to join him. She hesitated for a moment before walking round the table and joining him by the window. He pointed down at the huge, dark room below them.
"See those two in the corner over there?"
"That's Sid and Nancy – they lived with them too," Becker said. Jess shook her head, staring down at the two of them. They were fighting playfully together, tumbling over each other.
Becker smiled. "They seem okay in the menagerie, but Rex... he's more used to human interaction," he said, still looking at Sid and Nancy. "He misses Abby and Connor."
There was a moment's silence in which Becker refused to look at Jess, even though he could feel her staring at him.
"So you're here to keep him company," she said eventually.
Becker folded his arms, still not looking at her. "It's stupid, I know."
"No, it's really sweet," Jess said immediately. Becker glanced at her reflection in the window and saw she was smiling widely. "Who knew you were such a softie?"
Becker knew he should feel embarrassed, but instead he had the sudden urge to grin. He fought it down, and finally looked at Jess, raising an eyebrow at her. "Don't tell anyone," he said after a moment.
Jess laughed. "Your secret's safe with –" She broke off with a gasp as Rex swooped over to them, landing with a thump on the glass next to Becker.
Becker grinned and held out his arm to Rex – he clambered on and up onto his shoulder, chirruping happily. Jess' eyes were wide again, and Becker shook his head. "He's about as dangerous as a kitten," he told her. Then, on a whim, he reached out and took Jess' hand. She met his eyes and he gave her an encouraging smile before bringing her hand up to his shoulder.
He saw her swallow nervously as he let go of her hand, but she steeled herself and stroked the top of Rex's head. Rex let out a contended purr-like sound and twisted his head round like a cat.
Jess visibly melted. "Aw... he's adorable," she said, stepping closer to pet him properly.
"He's a trouble maker," Becker said, angling himself so that Jess could get to Rex more easily. He watched her pet Rex for a few more moments, smiling at how her nervousness had completely disappeared.
"What did you need me for?" He asked after a while.
Jess looked up at him and shrugged. "It can wait," she said. She stepped back, but Rex didn't seem willing to let her get away – he leapt from Becker's shoulder onto hers. Jess jumped a little but soon melted again when Rex chirruped and rubbed his head against her cheek.
"Aw, see, you're not a trouble maker are you?" She said in a baby voice, starting to stroke him again. "No..."
Becker shook his head, grinning. "Abby's brother lost him in a poker game one time – Connor and I had to go and rescue him," he said.
Jess gave him a shocked look. "That sounds fun," she said sarcastically.
Becker shrugged. "Actually... it was," he said.
It was a good twenty minutes before Becker had run out of Rex, Sid and Nancy stories, and even then he only stopped because an anomaly alert sounded overheard. Jess quickly jumped up from the stool she'd sat on with Rex curled up asleep on her lap, and Becker grabbed him and threw him through the window into the menagerie. Rex glided round in an elegant circle and landed on the glass again, giving Becker a reproachful look.
"Sorry mate," Becker said, making sure that the window was secure. "I'll see you tomorrow."
He wasn't that surprised to find Jess already there sharing her lunch with Rex when he went back the next day. What he was surprised about was that he didn't mind that she'd found his private place.
Maybe he needed the human interaction too.