Author's Note: This is set before Series 4, before Matt joins the team, before the EMDs. Just a teeny fic based on a song I was listening to today.
She finds color in the darkest places,
she finds beauty in the saddest of faces...
It was the first anomaly alert since the ARC's reopening, as Jess thought of it, and Becker's reinstatement as head of security and it hadn't gone very smoothly. Several pterosaurs had come through an anomaly on the edge of a popular campsite, and one of Becker's soldiers, a Lieutenant Jones, was injured before they managed to tranquilize all of the creatures, get them back through the anomaly, and lock it once more. Jones was bitten and scratched by one of the creatures' long, sharp beak and teeth before one of the other soldiers shot it with a tranquilizer.
Jess noticed how angry and tense Becker seemed over the comms. and that impression was reinforced when he walked back into the ARC's Operations room after seeing his injured subordinate. He had a face like thunder as he spoke briefly with Lester, then stalked off down the hall.
As she followed a few minutes later, Jess debated the wisdom of her decision to check on Becker. They had only known each other for about a month, and he still seemed a bit wary of forming friendships at work. After all, he had become friends with the members of the old team, and now they were all missing. Or dead, like Sarah Page. Jess had read the files, and knew that she couldn't even begin to imagine the pain Becker must have gone through. Must still be going through.
Jess found Becker in the armory, as she knew she would. He's such a creature of habit. He had his back to the doorway, leaning over his desk in the corner, the parts of a disassembled gun spread across the surface. His head half-turned at the sound of her heels, but he didn't acknowledge her presence. Taking a steadying breath, she walked over until she was level with him, sitting on a wooden bench a foot or so in front of a long rack of various firearms. She shifted slightly on the bench, her hands tucked, palms down, under each knee, her elbows locked. All those guns made her a bit nervous.
After a moment of silence, she said quietly, "Are you alright?"
Becker nodded, not looking up from his task. All the parts were now clean, and he began to reassemble the gun in sure, practiced movements.
Jess sat there, her brain inventing, and immediately discarding, a million more things to say. Something about this damaged man in front of her appealed to Jess. It wasn't just that he was heroic, cute, and uniformed. She enjoyed spending time with him; she wanted to help him. As a friend, at the very least.
Becker had finished assembling the firearm and stood to return it to its place on the rack behind Jess. That done, he sat beside her on the bench. Close, but not too close.
"I should never have come back here," he muttered suddenly.
Jess sat up straight, looking at him in disbelief. "What are you talking about? They asked you to come back. They needed you." She smiled, trying to get him to smile back. "What would we do without you?"
He looked over at her, an eyebrow arched. "We?"
Jess blushed a little. "Yes, we. The team, I mean. You're a good leader. Your men depend on you."
"And I let them down."
"People get hurt sometimes," she said after a moment. "It's part of the job description. And you can't know how many people you saved by being there. How many people might've gotten hurt if you hadn't been. Besides, I checked with the medics, and Lt. Jones should be fine in a week or two."
Becker's head sank down to his hands, elbows resting on his knees. Jess put a comforting hand on his back, between his shoulder blades. She'd meant to put a friendly arm around his shoulders, but that was about as far as she could reach; there were several inches between them. And he has those broad muscular shoulders... Stop it, Jess! she reproached herself. You're meant to be comforting, not objectifying him!
Becker turned, head still in his hands, to look at her, and Jess could've sworn he knew exactly what she was thinking. His voice, when he spoke was resigned, heavy with exhaustion and a hint of despair.
"What are you doing here?" He sighed. "What do you want from me, Jess?"
"To be your friend," she said simply. "You look like you could use one."
"Being my friend isn't always the safest thing."
Jess leaned towards him a bit, her lips quirked into a lopsided smirk. "I can take care of myself."
Becker smiled, just as she'd been hoping he would. "I'll bet."
After a few minutes, they began to talk again, about everyday things. At least he's stopped feeling sorry for himself, Jess thought. She felt sure she could help Becker forgive himself for the past. She'd always been a hopeless optimist, as well as a hopeless romantic.