This is another one of the many half-written oneshots I have languishing in my Primeval folder... it turned into a bit of a beast, but I'm quite happy with it. I hope you all like it!
Blast from the Past
It seemed like a pretty straight-forward call-out. Since the Convergence the anomalies hadn't been as frequent or weird as they'd been before... it was more like when Becker had first started working at the ARC.
This particular anomaly was in an office block in the suburbs, home to a small computing company. As luck would have it, half the workforce was off on a corporate retreat – the other half seemed to have bought the story of a gas leak and was cooperating with the evacuation. Becker and the rest of the team were heading for the back meeting room to deal with the anomaly when Jess' voice came over their radios.
"There's a second anomaly," she said. "It's in the same building, so it was hidden at first. But I think it's on the other side of the building, upstairs."
Jess sounded frustrated and Becker knew it was because she couldn't give them more information – there were no CCTV cameras in the office building, so she was working blind.
"We'd better go lock it – we don't want another 'spring-heeled Jack' situation," Becker said to Matt.
Matt nodded. "Connor, Becker, you take this device and go deal with that anomaly," he said, handing over the case he was carrying to Connor. "I'll go and get the other one from the truck." He nodded to Abby and Emily. "You two stay here and cover this one."
They all nodded and split up. Becker and Connor quickly made their way along the main corridor of the building and up the stairs – there was a glass-walled conference room at the top of the stairs, and sure enough another anomaly was shimmering inside. Becker went in first, Connor on his heels.
Everything was quiet in the room except for the slight metallic sound of the anomaly. Becker did a sweep anyway, but there was nothing untoward. "Okay Connor, lock it," Becker said.
Connor was already crouched down next to the machine; he opened the case and tapped a few keys on the board. "Done," he said. The locking device engaged and the anomaly snapped shut into a tight ball. Connor stood up and reached into his back pocket for his dating calculator. Becker headed to the doorway, just to make sure the corridor was still empty.
"Hey look, it's a recent one – leads to 2001," Connor said. "We should go back and play the lottery."
Becker looked back at him but his reply was cut off by distant tapping sound down the corridor. Becker raised his EMD in that direction as Connor came to stand next to him. A moment later they heard another noise, like the sound of furniture being knocked over, coming from the other direction.
Becker and Connor exchanged a meaningful look, and Becker knew they were going to have to split up. Becker reminded himself that Connor was perfectly capable of handling himself and that he was carrying an EMD, and nodded to him.
Connor gestured towards the right. "I'll go..."
Becker nodded. "Yeah." He gave Connor a nod and headed to the left.
At the end of the corridor on this side of the building was an open plan office space, with about ten desks in varying states of disarray... Becker wasn't sure if it was result of a creature incursion, or if the people who worked here were just messy.
He heard the tapping sound again and quickly turned to face it, EMD raised and ready. No need, though – the tapping was coming from the window blind getting caught in the breeze and banging against the window frame. Becker rolled his eyes, walked over to the window and pulled it closed.
He stood for a moment looking out over the car park, where he could see two of his men watching the perimeter. He spun on his heel to go and find Connor, when he heard a strange sniffing sound. It was quiet and gone as quickly as it came, but he'd definitely heard it. Becker raised his EMD again and started to make his way deeper into the office.
The office seemed deserted to Becker, and the desks were tall and modern, so he could see there was nothing underneath them. He went very still, listening carefully. After a few moments, he heard the sound again – a quiet intake of breath and an even quieter shuffling sound. It was coming from about halfway up the office.
Becker made his way down the centre of the room, between the two rows of desks. The wall on the right was the outer wall, with nothing but windows, but the other side of the room was a honeycomb of cupboards, closets and alcoves. Anything could be hiding there. Becker kept his eyes trained on the wall, until he saw a shadow shift in one of the alcoves. He held his breath and crept closer, until he could see into the alcove.
He lowered the EMD.
It was a little girl. Becker couldn't really see how old she was, as she had her face buried in her knees which were drawn up to her chest, but by the size of her she was young, probably only about seven or eight.
Becker knew that none of the office workers were unaccounted for, and he very much doubted that any of them would have forgotten that they'd brought their daughter to work with them anyway... which meant only one thing. She must have come through the second anomaly, from 2001. He had to get her back through to her time as quickly as possible, before the anomaly closed... otherwise they'd have the awkward task of returning a missing girl to her parents ten years after she went missing but exactly the same age.
Becker swallowed, wishing there was someone else here to deal with this. He thought about calling for Connor, but it wasn't like he was better equipped to deal with a child. In fact, the more of them there were crowding round her, the more scared she'd probably become. The best thing for her and for them would be to get her home with minimal fuss. He tapped his earpiece to turn off his microphone, steeled himself, and took a cautious step forward. "Hi," he said in as friendly a tone as possible.
The little girl jumped at the sound of his voice and cringed away from him. Becker quickly walked over and crouched down next to her. "It's okay, you don't have to be scared," he said gently. The girl started to raise her head, but the first thing she caught sight of was the large EMD in Becker's hands, and she gasped before burying her head in her knees again.
Becker rolled his eyes at his stupidity and quickly pushed the EMD around so it was hanging by its strap over his back. "I'm not gonna hurt you," he said. He cleared his throat. "My name's Becker, what's yours?"
The girl didn't answer for a long moment. "Jessica," she whispered eventually.
Becker smiled at the coincidence. "I have a friend called Jessica," he said. She didn't respond, and Becker settled down next to her, guessing this was going to take some time. "How did you get here? Did you come through that ball of light?"
Jessica lifted her head slightly, but still didn't look at Becker. "One minute I was in my garden, and the next I was here," she said quietly. "And there was that thing... it didn't see me, so I ran away and hid."
Becker froze. "What thing?" He asked. "What did it look like?"
Jessica's head came up just a little bit more. "Have you ever seen Jurassic Park?" She asked. She finally turned her head and looked at him properly, and time seemed to stop for Becker.
It was Jess. The little girl – Jessica – was Jess. His Jess. Well, not his Jess, Jess wasn't his, but she was... the point was this was Jess Parker, sitting on the floor next to him.
Jess – little Jess – looked away, her lip trembling suddenly. "You think I'm crazy," she said.
Becker realised that he was gaping at her like a slack-jawed idiot, and he snapped his mouth shut. Okay, so this was Jess... as a kid. He could handle this. He was suddenly very glad he hadn't alerted the others to her presence... Connor's reaction especially would be cringe worthy. No, he could definitely handle this himself. He just needed to get her back through the anomaly as quickly as possible.
"No, I don't think you're crazy," he said. "Honestly I don't." He suddenly realised what she'd said while he'd been gaping at her, and leant forward urgently. "What kind of thing from Jurassic Park did it look like?" He asked.
Jess looked back at him, her familiar blue eyes wide with fear. "Like those ones that get in the kitchen," she said quietly.
Becker winced and tapped his earpiece. "Guys, I think we have raptors," he said.
"Did you see one?" Connor replied."I haven't... ah."
Becker swallowed fearfully, and Abby beat him to replying. "Connor?" She said, sounding panicked.
Becker could hear a scuffling sound over the line, and then Connor's falsely cheery tone. "Yep, we have raptors," he said."There's one in the kitchen up here."
Becker quirked an eyebrow at the Jurassic Park symmetry and looked down at Jess – she was watching him curiously.
"They must have come from your anomaly – the one up here leads to ten years ago," Connor was saying.
"I'm coming to meet you," Abby said firmly.
Becker tapped his earpiece to turn off the microphone again and stood up. He held out a hand to Jess. "Come on, Jess, we need to go," he said.
Jess hesitated for a moment before taking his hand and rising shakily to her feet. She barely came up to his chest, she was so small. She was dressed for the summer, wearing a vest top, shorts and a pair of flat sandals. It was obviously pretty different to what he was used to seeing her dressed in, but there were still touches of the present Jess in the ensemble. The top and the sandals were both bright pink, she had a bright blue hair clip pulling back her hair into a ponytail, and her white shorts had a large pink silhouette of Minnie Mouse emblazoned on one leg.
He couldn't believe this was Jess as a kid. She'd come from 2001... so she was ten. Ten. And she'd just come face to face with a raptor. Thank god it hadn't seen her, and that she'd had the presence of mind to hide. He had to get her back to her time as quickly as he could – before they saw another raptor, or before the anomaly closed and she got stuck here. He didn't want the others seeing her and overwhelming her either... he was pretty sure that at least one of them would say something to scar her psychologically. He just hoped that no one asked why he wasn't running to Connor's aid until after the anomalies were closed. Besides, she must be terrified.
Except she didn't look terrified as she stood up. Actually, she looked annoyed. "My name is Jessica," she said firmly. "And where are we going?"
Becker blinked at her, thrown for a moment, before gesturing back the way he'd come. "We're gonna get you home," he said.
"You just go back through the light."
Jess immediately took a step away from him, pressing back into the wall. "I don't want to go through there again!" She said, looking scared again. "And that thing's still out there!"
Becker was torn – he hated seeing Jess scared about anything when she was twenty... her as a scared ten-year-old was excruciating. And he loathed the thought of taking her anywhere near where the raptor was. But if they didn't get moving, she could get stuck here, and then who knew what might happen? What if it changed the timeline or something, and it made his Jess disappear?
Present Jess. Not his Jess. Present Jess.
"My friends are going to deal with the raptor, you don't have to worry about it," he told her, as gently as he could. "And as for the light, it won't hurt you. You walk back through and you're home – I promise."
Jess looked up at him for a few moments, her eyes wide and assessing. Then she frowned. "Are you part of some kind of secret government agency?" She asked suddenly.
Becker let out a surprised laugh. "Excuse me?"
Jess narrowed her eyes at him. "My brother says that there are loads of secret government agencies, controlling what we do and think, and we're all just ignorant puppets of the man," she said.
Becker had to work hard to hide his smirk. "Do you think that's true?" He asked her.
She raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips thoughtfully, and for a moment looked exactly like she did now. "Well I didn't, but I hacked into the M.O.D. server to try and prove him wrong, and these men in uniforms came round to my house..." She rolled her eyes sullenly. "I was grounded for a month."
Becker stared at her, not sure what to say first.
Jess shrugged. "Anyway, you definitely look like you're part of a secret government agency," she said.
Becker grinned and shrugged back at her. "Well, yeah, I am as it happens – but we're good guys, we protect people," he said.
Jess frowned. "From those light things?"
"We call them anomalies." It occurred to Becker that he was probably telling her more than he should, but... well, it was Jess.
"Anomalies?" Jess said scornfully. "That's just a fancy way of saying you don't know what they are."
Becker grinned again – ten-year-old Jess was cheeky. "True," he said. "We don't know exactly what they are – but we do know what they do."
Becker hesitated before answering, but then decided the truth would probably better help her digest the events of today anyway. What the hell. "They're gateways in time – this is 2011."
Jess rolled her eyes. "No it isn't!" She scoffed.
"It is," Becker said.
"Is." Becker looked around the office, and quickly found what he was looking for on the desk behind him – a copy of that morning's Metro. He picked it up and handed it to Jess.
She looked at the date, and he jaw dropped. "That's ten years from now!" She exclaimed.
Becker nodded. "I know."
Jess looked up at him, more shocked than he'd seen her yet. "I'd be like, twenty!"
Becker had to grin again. "Yep." He tossed the paper back onto the desk and twisted his EMD back round his body so he could hold it again. "So come on, we need to get you back through before it closes."
Jess looked fearful again. "Closes?"
"Some anomalies stays open for days, some for only a few minutes," Becker told her. "And there's no way of telling."
Jess stepped up next to him again. "What if I get stuck here?"
Becker gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I don't think that's going to happen," he said. "Come on – keep quiet, and stay close behind me."
He raised his EMD and started to make his way back across the office. He'd been half-listening to the others dealing with the raptor Connor had found in the kitchen – Abby had run to help, and the two of them had taken the raptor out. Matt and Emily were sweeping the downstairs rooms, and Connor and Abby were transporting the knocked out raptor downstairs to its anomaly. From what they were saying to each other, they all assumed he was sweeping the upstairs rooms.
Jess was sticking close to him, like he'd told her to, but she was less obedient to the 'keep quiet' part of his orders. "So did the raptors come through a... an anomaly?" She asked him.
Becker scanned the end of the room. "Um, yeah they did," he answered Jess, keeping his voice low and hoping she'd follow suit.
"So sometimes they open to, like, dinosaur times?" She said. Her voice was a little quieter, but not by much.
Becker peered round the corner to look down the hallway. It was all clear, and so he started to creep towards the room where the anomaly was. "Yeah," he answered Jess quietly. "Actually most of them do – ones like yours, that are to only ten years ago – they're quite rare."
"So when you say that you protect people, you mean from dinosaurs," Jess said.
"That's so cool," Jess said immediately. "Have you ever seen a T-Rex?"
Becker let out a humourless laugh. "Unfortunately... yes."
He heard Jess take a breath to say something else, but she didn't get a chance – at that moment a raptor jumped out from an open doorway and leapt at them. Jess screamed and ducked behind Becker, who began shooting immediately. The raptor dropped at the second shot, landing just inches in front of them.
Becker immediately turned to Jess, who was pressed back against the wall, her eyes wide with terror. "Are you okay?" He asked, grasping her shoulder.
Jess nodded, but she kept staring at the downed raptor. "Is it dead?"
Becker glanced back at the raptor, which had just stopped twitching. "No, it's just stunned," he said. "It will be okay."
Jess looked back up at him then, her eyes suddenly shrewd. "When will it be okay?"
Becker's lips twitched. "Not for a little while."
"Okay." Jess nodded, and pushed off from the wall. She shook her head at the sight of the raptor. "I don't think it's that cool anymore. That was scary."
Becker nodded. "They are scary. That's why we're here."
Jess gave him a thoughtful look. "How do you join a secret government agency? Is it like applying for a regular job?" She asked.
Becker fought down the urge to smile. "No. Secret agencies tend to find you," he said. He nodded down the corridor. "Come on."
But there wasn't another step taken before Jess screamed again. This time the raptor jumped out into the corridor, but from a doorway behind Becker on the other side of the hall, and directly opposite where Jess stood. Becker swung round and shot at it, but missed – he watched in horror as the raptor's talons dug into the wall inches from Jess, who fell to the ground to get away from it. She scrambled backwards along the floor and ended up backing into the unconscious raptor that still lay behind her. She screamed again. Becker shot at the raptor again, but this one was faster and smarter than the other one, and it jumped back into the doorway it had come from. Becker stepped up to the doorway to try and get another shot off, but it had disappeared – too late he realised that the room had two doors, and the raptor was already back in the hallway.
Jess screamed again, and scrambled back into the open doorway the first raptor had come from. The other raptor snapped at her but a shot from Becker's EMD had it backing off – it retreated back into the doorway again. Becker hesitated for a moment before diving through the door after Jess. He had no idea what kind of room she was in or what might be in there with her. As soon as he was through the doorway, Jess slammed the door shut behind him.
Becker span around, taking in their surroundings. They were in a small office with a large window giving them plenty of light to show Becker that they were alone. The office was a mess, signifying its recent invasion by a prehistoric carnivore. Becker quickly turned the lock on the door and pulled Jess away from it. They were safe for now, but they were also trapped in the room. Becker couldn't risk opening the door with the raptor right outside – he wouldn't be able to get a shot off quick enough.
As if to prove his point, the door shuddered as the raptor shoved against it from the other side. Jess yelped and stumbled backwards into one of the chairs in front of the desk. Becker backed up so he was standing between her and the door and trained his EMD, ready for if the door should break.
Suddenly Matt's voice came over the comms. "Becker? We heard screams – where the hell are you?"
Becker sighed and tapped his earpiece. "I'm upstairs in an office off the main corridor." He glanced at Jess and, knowing that her present self was listening to his every word, ploughed on. "I found a kid in the office, she came through the 2001 anomaly. She's in here with me – we had to dive in the office because there were two raptors bearing down on us in the corridor."
"Is she okay?"
Becker glanced at Jess – she'd flopped backwards over the arm of one of the chairs so she was sitting sideways on it. She was staring dumbstruck at the door, but she wasn't shaking or exhibiting any other signs of shock. "She's fine," Becker said. "But we need to get out of here and get her to that anomaly, quickly."
"Right, Abby and I are on our way."
Becker nodded, even though they couldn't see him.
Becker froze at the sound of present Jess' voice, quiet and fraught in his ear. He glanced at her younger self before answering. "Yeah?"
"I... be careful."
She knew – she knew what Becker was talking about when he said 'kid'. He was a little surprised at how relieved he felt – obviously he'd been more worried about messing up the time-space continuum than he'd thought. "I will." Becker told Jess. Then he reached up and turned off his microphone again.
He turned back to young Jess, who was now watching him curiously. He gave her a small smile. "Are you okay?"
She nodded. "I guess," she said. "What now?"
"My friends are going to come upstairs and get the raptors out of the way, and then we'll get you home." Jess nodded, and Becker leant back against the wall, though he kept the EMD ready in his hands. He looked at Jess thoughtfully – she was so little and skinny, it was weird to think that she would grow up to be his Jess.
Not YOUR Jess!
Becker cleared his throat. "You did well out there, Jess," he told her. "You have quick reflexes."
Jess narrowed her eyes at him. "Well it just seemed common sense to get out of its way," she said after a moment.
Becker smiled. "True, but you'd be surprised how many people don't think of it," he said ruefully. "So, seriously Jess, well done."
Jess sighed heavily. "You keep calling me Jess," she said. "My name is Jessica. I hate being called Jess!" She glared at him to emphasise her point.
Becker worked to keep the smile from his face, and to look suitably contrite. "Sorry. I have a friend called Jess, and she hates being called Jessica…" He shrugged. "So I guess it's just a habit."
Jess tilted her head to one side, looking at him thoughtfully. "Is she your girlfriend?" She asked.
"Er, no," Becker said quickly and emphatically. "We're just friends." His eyes widened as he realised that this was Jess, his Jess (no, stop thinking of her like that!)... anyway, he had to tread carefully here, since present Jess would remember this conversation.
"Not that that's, you know… I don't mean 'just' as in it doesn't mean anything," he said awkwardly. "I mean, I care about her, I care about her a lot..." He looked away, cursing himself for his lack of articulation. "No, she's not my girlfriend," he finished lamely.
He looked back at Jess – Jessica – and saw that she was looking at him with a distinctly unimpressed look on her face. "A simple 'no' would have been enough," she said drily.
Becker rolled his eyes. "Yeah," he said, letting his head drop back against the wall behind him.
Jess sat up properly and drew her legs up over the arm of the chair so that she could hug her knees. She gave Becker a sly look. "You sound like my brother does when I tease him about Tracy," Jess said after a moment.
Becker raised his head to look at her again. "What?"
"She's the girl he has a crush on," Jess explained with a shrug. Becker's eyes widened as he saw where this was going.
"Maybe you should ask your Jessica out," Jess said, making Becker squirm uncomfortably. "Especially if you do this kind of thing every day."
Becker forgot his discomfort at her suggestion for a moment as he focused on her other words. "What do you mean?"
Jess shrugged again. "Well, it's pretty dangerous," she said. "So probably better to ask her out sooner rather than later, before you get eaten by a dinosaur."
Becker stared at her. She looked right back at him, calm in her ten-year-old certainty. He could imagine the exact way her present self was going to blush when he saw her later on, but right now he was the one who was on the spot, and he didn't like it. "Right," he said weakly.
There was a muffled thump from the other side of the door, and Becker stood up straight, EMD ready in his hands. He'd never been so glad of an interruption in his life. He turned on the microphone of his earpiece again.
"Two raptors down up here, and no sign of any more," Matt said over the comms – Becker could also hear him moving about on the other side of the door. "Becker, are you in here?" He knocked on the door of the office – Jess jumped at the sound.
"Yep we're in here," Becker said.
"It's safe to come out," Matt told him.
Becker glanced back at Jess, who was clambering uncertainly to her feet. She'd seen enough already, and he really didn't trust the others to not freak her out. "Yeah – could you guys maybe clear the stunned raptors first?" He said. "The girl's scared of them, I don't think she'll come out if they're still there."
He heard a muffled sound that might have been Jess laughing over the comms, and the Jess behind him made an indignant noise in the back of her throat. Becker held up a hand to silence her and quickly turned off his microphone as Matt said over the comms that they would move the raptors.
"Trust me, this will get you home quicker," he said in a low voice.
Jess frowned but didn't say anything. They stood next to each other in the office, listening to the sounds of Abby and Matt moving one of the raptors downstairs, and then Connor and Emily collecting the other one.
Becker waited until the sound of their footsteps had faded down the hall and the chatter of the radios was about negotiating their way down a staircase with an unconscious raptor, and then unlocked the door. He gestured to Jess, who moved immediately to his side, and opened the door.
He led the way down the corridor to the conference room with the anomaly – mercifully there were no incidents, and the anomaly was still hanging in the air.
"What's happened to it?" Jess said fearfully. "Is it closed?"
Becker realised that when she'd last seen it, the anomaly hadn't been locked. "No, it's just locked," he was quick to reassure her. "We locked it so nothing could get through – but I'll open it now." He crouched down next to the locking device and disengaged it.
Jess jumped back as the anomaly expanded, and Becker stood up to face her. She looked scared again, and took another couple of steps back. "I don't... are you sure it leads back home?" She asked fearfully. "What if there are more raptors?"
Becker actually hadn't thought of that. After all, the anomalies had been open together for a while before they'd arrived, and the raptors had spread out over the building. What if one of them had gone through this anomaly, back to 2001? "I'll come with you, just to make sure," he decided.
Jess stared at him silently for a moment, before nodding and moving towards the anomaly. She stopped just in front of it and took a deep breath. Then, with no more hesitation than that, she plunged through the light. Becker followed her.
He stepped out onto a sweeping green lawn. The anomaly had appeared on the edge of it, next to a hedgerow. A large, red brick, three-storey house stood on the other side of the lawn. Jess was a couple of feet away, looking incredibly relieved. Becker quickly studied the ground around them – the lawn was muddier near the hedgerow, but there were no signs of raptor footprints anywhere around them.
Becker relaxed slightly and stepped over to Jess. "Is this your house?" He asked her, though from her look of relief it obviously was.
"Yeah." She grinned up at him, clearly ecstatic to be back safe.
Becker nodded. "Right – well, I –" The shimmering light of the anomaly shifted slightly, and Becker knew his time was short. "I really need to go," he said quickly. "But listen Jess...ica – you shouldn't tell anyone about what happened today."
Jess just grinned wider. "Oh I know that," she said. "The men in uniforms will come round again and I'll probably get grounded for the entire summer!"
Becker had to grin back. "Yeah," he said. "Also... it's a bad idea. It's better if it stays a secret – people would get scared."
Jess' face turned serious, and she nodded. "Okay."
Becker nodded as well. "Okay. Well... it was nice to meet you."
Jess smiled. "You too." She held out her hand. "Thank you for your help, Mr Becker."
Becker grinned and reached out to shake her hand. "It's actually Captain Becker... and you're very welcome, Miss Parker."
Jess' smile faded immediately, and she gripped his hand a little tighter. "How do you know my surname?" She demanded.
Bugger. So close.
Becker struggled to keep a straight face. "Lucky guess," he said. He let go of Jess' hand and tried to ignore the suspicious look she was now giving him. "Bye!"
He practically jumped back through the anomaly, and breathed a sigh of relief of his own to find himself back in the conference room. He immediately crouched down to lock the anomaly again, but it disappeared before he could.
He wasn't quite sure why, but Becker evaded the others' questions about the little girl he'd found on the way back to the ARC. He would tell them who she'd been eventually, but something in him wanted to keep it a secret for now... at least until he'd spoken to the grown-up Jess. He needed to talk to her about it first before the others started hounding the two of them with questions.
Though he wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to say. Meeting Jess' younger self had kind of knocked Becker for a loop – specifically, Jess' younger self implying that he was acting like a lovestruck teenager and should ask her older self out had knocked him for a loop.
It wasn't like he'd never thought of it before. Jess obviously had feelings for him, and he couldn't deny that he felt something for her – something that seemed to grow stronger every day. But he had a job to do, an important job, and he couldn't cloud the issue or distract himself by getting involved in a relationship with Jess. Besides, what he did was so dangerous, and he didn't want to run the risk of hurting her...
That's what he told himself every night when he lay awake, trying to stop thinking about Jess. But now he was thinking... maybe he'd got it the wrong way round. Maybe the very dangerousness of his job should be spurring him to make a move, rather than stopping him. Maybe...
All Becker knew for sure was that he needed to talk to Jess, alone, so he waited a few minutes when they got back to the ARC, knowing that the others tended to head straight for the Hub. He oversaw the storing of the EMDs in the armoury and then had a shower and got changed before making his way there. But when he got there he found, not Jess, but one of the beta Field Coordinators, George, sitting in front of the ADD.
Becker immediately panicked. "Where's Jess?" He demanded, probably a little more forcefully than he should have. George's head snapped up to look at him, his eyes wide with confusion. Oh god, I've changed the timeline, Jess doesn't exist... Becker strode over to the ADD, trying to fight down his rising fears. "Where's Jess?" He exclaimed again.
"I'm behind you."
Becker span around and, sure enough, Jess was standing right behind him, a mug of steaming forthy coffee in her hand. She gave him a wide-eyed incredulous look, and Becker had to fight back the urge to grab her into a hug. Instead, he settled for clearing his throat awkwardly and shooting George an apologetic look.
"Right," he said. "Er, hi."
Jess smiled slightly, like she was trying not to laugh. "Hello," she said. "Can I help you with something, Captain Becker?" One look at her twinkling eyes told him that she knew exactly what he was there to talk to her about.
Becker narrowed his eyes at her, and folded his arms over his chest. "Yes, could I have a word please, Miss Parker?" He said, matching her tone.
Jess' lips twitched again and she headed over to the ADD, brushing past Becker as she went. "Can you give me another minute, George?" She said as she put down her coffee on the desk.
"Er, yeah, but I've got a meeting with Lester and Jennings in five –"
"I'll be really quick, I promise," Jess told him. She glanced at Becker before heading out of the Hub; Becker quickly followed her, his eyes drawn as always to the back of her clacking high heels... today they were bright purple. His gaze followed their familiar path up the back of her legs and over the ridiculously short lemon skirt she was wearing. Having just met her beanpole-skinny ten-year-old self, he had an even greater appreciation for her curves than usual.
Jess opened one of the first doors they came to and Becker followed her into the smallest lab on site, empty at the moment because none of the scientists wanted to be stuck with what they referred to as 'the cupboard'. Becker had actually been thinking of turning it into a more central weapons cache for emergency incursions...
Jess had turned to face him, and was now smirking widely. Becker couldn't help but smile back, and before he knew what was happening the two of them were laughing.
"You know I actually forgot about it?" Jess said after a moment, still laughing a bit.
Becker gave her a mock-wounded look. "Oh that's nice, thanks," he said.
Jess grinned. "I didn't forget... what I mean is, I just haven't thought about it in ages," she said. She leaned back against the stainless steel table behind her. "Obviously when I was first briefed on the anomalies, I was a bit less shocked than most people."
Becker chuckled again.
"And then of course my first month here was spent reading files all day, and I found your file pretty quickly, and it all became a bit surreal," she said. "And I knew that one day soon you were going to meet my younger self... but then more important things were happening and like I said, it slipped my mind."
Becker grinned. "Surreal is a good word for it," he said. "When I realised that it was you... I was this close to freaking out." He shook his head. "So... I'm guessing you didn't run into any raptors in 2001?"
"No," Jess said, grinning back. "And thank you for breaking your rule and taking me back home."
"Of course," Becker said. There was a moment of silence in which they both just looked at each other, but Becker quickly looked away. He cleared his throat. "I didn't know you have a brother," he said, changing the subject.
Jess looked a bit surprised, but smiled. "Yeah… Tom. Have I never mentioned him?" Becker shook his head, and Jess shrugged. "He's twenty-seven, he lives in New Zealand. I haven't seen him for a couple of years."
"Okay," Becker said. "What did he say when you were ten and tried to hack into the M.O.D. server?"
Jess laughed, shaking her head. "I was nine when I hacked the MOD," she said. "And I didn't try to – I actually did." Jess looked at him expectantly, and Becker must have looked suitably impressed, because she ploughed on. "Except I wasn't exactly the most elegant hacker when I was nine and I did nothing to cover my tracks, and they found me pretty quickly. They thought it was my brother at first, because he was sixteen and seemed the type, but they soon realised he was useless at all things technological that weren't to do with Playstation."
Becker laughed. "What happened?"
Jess shrugged. "They sat me down and explained to me that what I did was wrong, and that I could get in serious trouble if I did it again… Then they left and my parents went crazy. Well, my Mum did. My Dad was pretty impressed."
"And you got grounded."
"Yeah." Jess rolled her eyes sullenly, almost the exact way her younger self had done earlier. Becker grinned.
"I'm pretty sure the government kept tabs on me since that day – and that's why I got recruited into the Home Office and then the ARC so quickly," Jess said.
"Well like I said – secret government agencies find you, not the other way round," Becker said.
Jess grinned and then looked at her watch. "I should go and relieve George," she said. She grinned at him, her eyes sparkling. "Thank you for saving me from the raptors."
Becker grinned back. "You're welcome," he said. "Are there any other times you happened to go through an Anomaly and bump into me that I can look forward to?"
Jess laughed. "No, that was the only time."
Becker shrugged. "Shame, ten-year-old you was pretty adorable," he said teasingly.
Jess folded her arms and pouted – actually pouted – at him. "You don't think I'm still adorable?"
Yes. Becker was so surprised by Jess' teasing him that he almost said it out loud. He took a moment to gather himself together and gave her a thoughtful look. "Well... maybe if you bring back the Minnie Mouse shorts," he said.
Jess shook her head. "It's not very nice to make fun of a ten-year-old's dress sense," she said, but she was smiling as she did so. She pushed off from the table and started to walk towards the door.
"I can't believe you never said anything," Becker said as Jess reached the door. She turned to look at him again, and he shrugged. "I mean – that you never told me that it was going to happen."
Jess laughed. "Can you blame me? I had no idea how to start that conversation," she said. "When I got recruited to the ARC and I read your file, and I realised that I must be the Jessica that you were..." Her voice trailed off and her eyes widened, and the blush that Becker had imagined earlier crept its way onto her cheeks. "Anyway let's not talk about that part of the conversation."
Becker literally couldn't stop himself – god help him, he loved making her blush. "Oh, you mean the part where you think I should ask you out?" He asked airily.
Jess gave him a slightly pleading look. "Don't."
Becker raised an eyebrow. "Don't ask you out?" He said.
"Yes," Jess said. "I mean no," she quickly corrected herself. She was squirming with embarrassment, her cheeks a flaming red. Becker fought back a grin. "I mean – I have work to do." She shook her head and started to reach for the door handle again.
What he was about to say was probably be a mistake, Becker was sure, but the day really had knocked him for a loop. It was time to say something. "I think you had a good point," he said.
Jess' head snapped up to look at him again. "What?" She asked, sounding confused... with just the smallest amount of hopeful mixed in. Becker heard it, and tried not to wince. This was definitely a bad idea. But... they needed to talk. She had to understand.
Becker cleared his throat. "About the likelihood of me getting eaten by a dinosaur," he clarified.
Jess frowned. "I said you were going to get eaten by a dinosaur?" She asked.
"You don't remember?"
She rolled her eyes. "It was ten years ago for me – I don't remember every word I said."
"Well, you told me I should ask you out before I get eaten by a dinosaur," Becker said quickly. Jess blushed again, and Becker hesitated for a moment before ploughing on. "The thing is, that's the reason I haven't asked you out."
Jess' eyes widened, and Becker looked back at her intently, willing her to understand. "I know what it's like to lose friends, and I can only imagine how much worse it must be to lose a... partner... and I'd never want to hurt you like that."
There. It was out in the open. He'd said it, for better or for worse.
It certainly seemed like worse, given the look Jess was giving him. She was gaping at him, her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide with shock. She wasn't blushing, though.
After a moment, she closed her mouth and swallowed. "You want to ask me out?" She said eventually.
Becker gave a kind of half shrug, half nod. "I've thought about it," he admitted. "But I –"
He didn't get a chance to say anything else. Jess moved, quicker than he'd ever seen her move before – and before he'd fully processed what was happening she'd covered the space between them, grabbed his shirt in her fists and yanked him down towards her. Then she was kissing him.
Becker's knees buckled, though he was almost positive that was from shock rather than anything else, and so it was only common sense to place his hands on her hips. You know, for balance. And when his hands tightened on her hips and he started to kiss her back, it was only because... because... because he'd been wanting to kiss her for months now.
No, this wasn't how it was supposed to go. This wasn't what the outcome of this conversation was meant to be – he was meant to be explaining why they shouldn't be kissing.
He pulled away slightly. "Jess –" He managed to say before she captured his lips again – or was it the other way round? He didn't even know, and his hands were starting to move around her back. No, this wasn't right!
"Jess," Becker said firmly, wrenching his lips away from hers again and moving his hands up to her shoulders. She was staring at him, wide-eyed, breathing slightly heavier than usual, and her lips were moist and parted. Becker could literally feel himself drifting back towards her, and he had to shake his head to snap out of it. No, she needed to understand. "Jess, I... we..." She needed to understand that they... what? That they couldn't be kissing, that was it. But how was he ever going to not kiss her again?
There was no way.
"Damn it," Becker swore softly. He slid one hand into her hair to cup the back of her head and drew her back to him. Jess wrapped her arms around his neck, and Becker slid his free arm around her back, pulling her as close to him as he could. Her mouth opened under his and without even thinking about it he had her pressed against the wall next to the door. He heard Jess moan slightly and he had to fight back a groan of his own as Jess moved one of her hands to the back of his head and her fingernails raked against his scalp.
Suddenly, a voice sounded in Becker's ear. "Erm, Jess – could you report to the Hub, please?"
Becker and Jess froze, and then Jess sighed against Becker's lips. He pulled back slightly and looked at Jess, who gave him an apologetic look before reaching up to turn the mic on her earpiece on. "Sorry, George, I'm on my way." She sounded slightly breathless – Becker hoped George hadn't noticed.
He stepped back a little more, bracing himself with his hands on the wall either side of Jess' head. She leant back against the wall and looked up at him, and he looked at her, and then they were laughing again.
Jess sobered up enough to speak."I have to go," she said.
Becker nodded and dropped his hands. "Yeah," he said.
Jess reached up to smooth down her slightly-ruffled hair, and then gave him a look that could only be described as coy."Wasn't there something you wanted to ask me?" She asked sweetly.
Becker grinned. "Do you want to go out with me tonight, before I get eaten by a dinosaur?" He asked as solemnly as he could.
Jess smirked. "Sure," she said. She paused for a moment, staring at him silently, before blinking and pushing off from the wall, reaching for the door. Becker had to clench his fists at his sides to stop himself from reaching out to touch her again as she brushed past him. One kiss and he was already a goner.
Jess paused with her hand on the door handle and looked back at him with a sparkle in her eye – Becker immediately sensed danger.
"By the way," she said, smirking again, "they're a slightly more adult style, but I do still have a pair of Minnie Mouse shorts..."
And with that, she opened the door and flounced through it, leaving only the echo of her purple heels and a slightly stunned Becker behind her.
Becker closed his eyes. Yep, definitely a goner.