"Are you asking me out on a date?" Jess asked, disbelievingly.
Jess leant back slightly, examining Becker's frozen expression. He looked scared and more than a bit hopeful – exactly what her own expression would look like in a mirror. "Then yes," She nodded and smiled brightly.
"Yes?" Becker echoed breathlessly, like he'd stopped breathing for the few seconds it had taken Jess to answer him.
"Yes," Her smiled grew broader. "A million times yes."
"Where do you want to go?" He asked, speaking quickly. "We could go to dinner or a movie. Or a picnic in the park if that's what you like. Whatever you want."
"I want," She paused theatrically, teasing him slightly. "You to relax," She finished, watching his eyes light up with surprise. "We don't have to rush. And I'm rather fond of dancing."
Becker blinked, realising they were still swaying on the dance floor. "Okay," He spun her around, causing her to laugh.
"Becker," She giggled as she was twirled back into his formal dance hold.
"Jessica," He replied, smiling tight tipped.
"Do I get to know your first name now?" She cocked her head innocently, the glint in her eyes anything but innocent.
"You've read my file," Becker evaded the question. "Don't you know it?"
"Yes," She admitted. "But I don't want everything I know about you to be from the files or Connor's stories."
His grip on her waist tightened momentarily. "Connor's been telling stories?"
"Yeah, I kinda asked," She looked down at the ground, embarrassed. "Nothing bad of course."
"Of course," Becker nodded. "So what did Connor tell you?"
"Um," She tried to think. "That you're a good cook?"
Becker chuckled, "Compared to Connor, anyone's a good cook."
"I don't know," She shrugged. "I can't think of anything."
"Is that bad or good?"
"Good," She said definitively. "It means you can tell me everything."
"You want to hear everything?"
"Yep," She nodded.
"Even before we go on our date?" He froze, realising neither of them had said the actual word.
Jess didn't react to the word or his own reaction. "If you want to or you could just tell me on the date."
"Alright," He agreed. "It'll give us something to talk about."
"I never run out of things to talk about."
Becker chuckled fondly, "That doesn't surprise me."
"Hey," She pouted playfully, knowing he didn't mean offense. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of something over Becker's shoulder. "They're staring."
"Who?" Becker tensed immediately, bringing Jess closer, protectively sheltering her with his body.
"Connor and Abby and Matt," She answered, frowning slightly. "And Abby looks like she's about to have an aneurysm. Twirl me then you can see," Jess ordered.
Becker twirled her obediently and looked to the spot her lovely blue eyes had been focused on, his own brown eyes immediately seeing the orange of Abby's dress. She, Connor and Matt were standing in a small huddle on the side of the ballroom making no attempt to hide the fact they were staring at Becker and Jess. "Nosy gits," Becker muttered.
"Pardon?" Jess moved closer to hear him.
"I said nosy gits," He said a little louder. "It's like they never left high school."
"Well, Connor never left university," Jess shrugged. It was all the same in the end.
As Becker glared at them, Connor had the gall to raise his glass in a toast, smirking as he did so. "I've got an idea," Becker leant down and said softly. "Do you wanna get out of here?"
Jess nodded, "That was the plan, wasn't it? Make an appearance then go to a pub where there's real dancing?"
A perfect crease formed in his brow, "What sort of pubs have you been going to?"
"Apparently not the same ones as you," She answered swiftly.
"Connor's not going to shut up all night and Matt's got that annoying smirk,"
"You always say that," Jess rolled her eyes.
"So why don't we have that date now?" He suggested, a little surprise at his own boldness. "There's a chocolate shop around the corner. I saw it when we were coming here."
Jess stared at him, slack jawed for a moment. "Yes!" She said loudly, starting some people around them. "I mean, sure that sounds great." Mentally, she kicked herself for being over eager. Just because her dreams were coming true did not mean that she could act like a star struck teenager on a sugar high. Even if that's what she felt like.
"Come on," His soft hand brushed her arm as it slid down to grab her hand. "We'll make a run for the door and they won't catch us."
"Or we could be subtle about it," She glanced at their friends, doubting her ability to run in her high heels.
"Subtly is not our strong suit," Becker shook his head. "It will be fine Jess. Please?" He looked at her, imploring silently with big brown eyes.
"Fine," She sighed. "But if I break a heel,"
"I'll carry you home," He promised and her eyes widened with happiness just as he started moving quickly through the crowd, almost dragging her along behind him. For every step he took, she had to take two as she hurried to keep up.
She risked a glance back and saw the looks of confusion of Abby's face. "I think they've worked out something's wrong."
"Don't look back," Becker told her. "It only slows you down."
"This isn't a military operation, Captain," Jess reminded him as they dodged the groups of people scattered around the doorway.
"All's fair in love and war," He quipped then realised what he'd implied. "I mean… That…"
Jess squeezed his hand, "I know."
"Ah," Lester's voice boomed nearby. "Just the two I was looking for."
They froze, knowing what that overly polite tone meant. "Lester," Jess greeted him by name as they turned to face him.
"The office just called and apparently there's a situation that has to be dealt with immediately," Lester used the generic words but all of them knew what he meant: there was an anomaly.
"What kind of situation?" Becker abandoned any thought of a work-free night.
"A large, spikey one, if I'm not mistaken," Lester said sourly, going to run his hand through his hand but stopping as he realised it would mess it up. "So Jess, can you gather the other riff raff and organise something?"
"Of course I can," She nodded and picked up her skirt, walking quickly back to the others.
Lester watched Becker's almost completely impassive face as she left. "I trust you won't be distracted, will you Becker?"
"I'm never distracted sir," The soldier replied automatically. "My focus is always on my work."
"I'm not blind, Becker," Lester spoke more amicably than Becker had ever heard him. "And God knows I saw what Shaggy and Daphne got up to. You're smarter than that, I hope." It wasn't a question or a hope – it was an order.
"Yes sir," He nodded, realising quickly what his boss was talking about.
"Good, good," Lester said absently, looking up as Jess returned with the others. "Well?" He said in his normal acerbic tone. "What are you still doing here? Go do your jobs."
No one bothered to reply to him, they just left quickly. Time was of the essence. "Becker, Jess," Matt rattled of their names, organising a plan as they walked out the door. "You go back to the ARC then Becker can bring the equipment to us."
"Where is it anyway?" Connor asked, wanting to get an idea of what they were getting into.
"Essex," Jess said, reading off her phone. "One creature was sighted and described as large, spikey like an echidna and freaky."
Becker flagged down a taxi and held out his hand to help Jess in. "Please don't do anything stupid before I get there," He looked at Matt. "I rather like this suit."
"No promises," The Irishman replied with a small smile. "Don't make any pit stops," He called as the taxi took off.
"Where to?" The taxi driver asked.
Jess gave the address as she settled into the seat, rearranging her large skirt. "Figures there would be one now," She said in an undertone.
"Connor always said there was an anomaly whenever he tried to ask Abby out. I always thought he was joking."
"But now?" She laughed a little.
"He might be right," Becker admitted, shrugging a little. "But don't tell him that. He'll never let me forget that I said it."
"My lips are sealed," Jess mimed locking her lips with a key. They fell into a companionable silence, both staring out vacantly at the city whizzing past their windows as they planned what they would do to close the anomaly. Becker's arm was stretched out along the back of the taxi, occasionally brushing Jess' shoulder.
As they turned into the ARC's street, Jess turned him. "You'll be careful, won't you?" She tried to stop herself from sounding whiny and hoped she'd succeeded.
"I'm always careful," Becker replied calmly. They both knew the risks of his job. "I'll tell you what, I'll even promise to keep warm," His lips quirked as he recalled her earlier statement.
She turned pink and pouted slightly, "Becker…" The taxi pulled up at the ARC and Jess looked at Becker. "I'll see you when you get back." She opened the door and carefully got out.
Becker leant over and closed the door for her. "I've got a good reason to come back."
She smiled at him through the window and waved as the taxi drove off, feeling like Cinderella. But unlike Cinderella, she knew her Prince Charming was coming back for her.
A/N: This is the last chapter for OUAD. I intended to get Jess and Becker from friends into a relationship and that's where they are. I hope you liked the story. I know I loved writing it and reading the reviews. Thank you for your lovely comments :D