I started writing this months ago, but it's been languishing in my Primeval folder with the (quick count...) ten other Becker/Jess stories that I've started and have yet to complete. I was trying to work on Just Pretend today but have really bad writer's block, so I turned to this one instead. It's a silly little fluff piece from Matt's POV – I hope you like it!
Matt had a lot of respect for Captain Becker. When he had started working at the ARC, his father had predicted that he would make friends with the team there, had told him that that it was natural and okay. And he was right – in time he'd come to think of all of the team as friends in one way or another, but it was Becker that he had the most in common with. They both had a military background, and a tendency to take things a tad too seriously... and though Becker obviously didn't have a mission quite like Matt's weighing him down, the man definitely carried some burdens of his own.
The thing that Matt really appreciated about Becker, though, was his ability to entertain.
It had started with glances and then furtive looks. The looks had turned longer, more appreciative, but always when he thought no one was looking. Matt always was, though, at first because he'd been brought up to notice everything, and then because it was just hilarious. Because, for all his bravery in the line of fire and calm head in the field, the truth was Captain Hilary Becker was a complete coward when it came to a certain field co-ordinator.
All she had to do was walk by and Becker would lose his train of thought. It was always just for a split second, barely noticeable really, but it was there. He never smiled so much as when she was talking to him, never joked so much – never looked so pleased with himself as when he made her laugh or blush. He went out of his way to do little things for her, like bringing her coffee, or walking her to her car, or buying her chocolate...
It was obvious to everyone at the ARC – everyone – that Jess had feelings for Becker, including him. But he never made a move. In fact, he'd back off as soon as their conversation took on too much of a flirty tone, or if he was worried she'd see what he was really thinking.
Matt saw it all, and found it funny as hell. So, it was just sheer luck for him that he happened to be standing next to Becker in the main control room when he first started to notice something between Jess and Rolands.
Lt. Harry Rolands was new at the ARC, part of a group of half a dozen or so new recruits to Becker's unit. He was young, no more than twenty-one, full of the confidence and swagger of a youthful, good-looking soldier. And right now he was leaning over the ADD and saying something to Jess in a low voice, something that made her gasp and then start laughing.
Becker looked up at the sound of Jess' laughter, and his face immediately darkened when he saw Rolands in her personal space, leaning over her, her hand on his arm as she said something to him which made him laugh in turn. Becker schooled his expression back to neutral very quickly, but not quick enough to escape Matt's notice. He smirked, jumping at the opportunity to have some fun with Becker.
"They seem awfully friendly, don't they?" He said suggestively.
Becker shrugged. "Jess is friendly with everybody," he said. This was the truth, but Matt could see the tension in Becker's shoulders as he tried to concentrate on reading the report he'd handed him a few moments before. He also saw Becker glancing at Jess and Rolands, frowning.
Matt's smirk widened but he didn't say anything else. He didn't need to. He just let the thought fester, and over the next few days he saw it do its work.
Rolands was a very friendly person, a really nice guy, and he got on well with everyone in the ARC. With Jess, though, he definitely had some kind of connection. Matt didn't think they were actually dating, given that Jess clearly had a big thing for Becker, but they were certainly growing quite close.
There was the first name basis for a start – he was never Rolands to Jess, he was Harry. They started eating lunch together quite often. Rolands would visit her at the ADD several times a day, sometimes bringing her coffee but most of the time just sauntering over, whispering something in her ear that would make her burst out laughing, and then sauntering off again.
Becker, Matt noticed, started to spend a lot more time in the main control room than he usually did. Matt also found excuses to be in the control room, purely for the entertainment value of watching the Captain go slowly insane. You could actually see how tense he got whenever Rolands approached Jess – his jaw would clench, his hands turn into fists, and his shoulders would set until Matt started to think he was going to strain something.
But he never said anything. He never did anything. Most men in Becker's situation, if they saw one of their subordinates getting a little too close to the girl they were not-so-secretly pining for, would teach said subordinate a lesson. Matt checked – Becker never treated Rolands any differently than the others under his command. He never so much as made the man do an extra press-up. In some ways this was highly commendable and professional behaviour, but mostly Matt viewed it as further evidence of Becker's laughable self-denial.
Then Jess and Rolands started meeting up outside of the ARC. Becker (and Matt) started to hear them talk about trips to the cinema, coffee mornings at the weekend, plans to go Christmas shopping... it was this particular nugget that had Becker suddenly jumping to his feet and exiting the control room.
Matt sighed and followed him – it was starting to get less fun now.
He caught up with Becker just outside the armoury – Becker was presumably about to grab a gun and rip the hell out of a few targets to alleviate some stress. Matt followed him into the armoury and, after checking that they were alone, got straight to the point.
"You should just ask her if she's going out with him," he said bluntly.
Becker jumped a little, and Matt realised he'd been so lost in his own head that he hadn't even known he'd been following him. He scowled at him once the words had sunk in, and turned to the machine guns racked against the wall. "What are you talking about?" He mumbled.
Matt rolled his eyes. "Oh come on, you know exactly what I'm talking about," he said. "Just ask her."
Becker glared at him for a moment, but then quickly looked away. "I – no," he said. He sounded so forlorn that Matt decided to take pity on him. Just this once.
"Technically, you need to know," he said, folding his arms and leaning back against the stainless steel table behind him.
Becker frowned at him. "Why do I need to know?"
"It could affect the way you place people in the field," Matt said. It was complete crap of course – Jess was never in the field with them, so it wouldn't affect things at all.
Becker, however, latched onto it as Matt had known he would. "That's true," he said earnestly. "I do need to know."
Matt nodded, hiding his smirk. Becker was planning on talking to Jess about Rolands... and just like that, it was fun again.
Matt stuck to Becker like a limpet that day, determined to make Becker follow through and talk to Jess, and determined not to miss it when he did. Happily, an opportunity arose midway through the afternoon as the two of them were heading back to the control room. Matt glanced through the window of the break room as they walked past and saw that Jess was in there making herself a coffee... and that she was alone.
Matt reached out and grabbed Becker's shoulder to stop him.
"Here's your big chance," he said with an excited smirk that he tried to pass off as an encouraging smile.
Becker frowned. "What – oh," he said, his face clearing as he looked through the window and saw what Matt was talking about. "Um."
He seemed to freeze to the spot, just staring at the back of Jess' head, but Matt wasn't going to let this moment pass them by because of the Captain's sudden nervousness.
"Come on," he said cheerily, making for the break room door.
"Matt," Becker hissed urgently as he walked past him – Matt ignored him and stepped into the room.
"Hi Jess," he said before Becker could do anything desperate, like drag him out by his collar. He wouldn't have put it past him.
Jess looked over her shoulder and smiled at him. "Hi Matt," she said. Then her smile widened into what Matt thought of as her 'Becker Smile'. "Hi Becker," she added.
Becker had followed Matt into the room – you could practically feel the resentment rolling off him in waves. "Hey," he said. Matt waited for him to say something else, but he didn't.
Matt turned back to Jess, who was fiddling around with the coffee maker. "Just getting a coffee?" He asked to fill the silence. He looked over at Becker, raising his eyebrows at him – Becker just scowled back.
"Yep," Jess said. She looked round again and frowned when she saw the way they were looking at each other. "Are you two alright?" She asked.
Matt's head snapped round to look at her again, and he smiled. "We're fine," he said. Jess nodded and looked away again, and Matt immediately returned to giving Becker a significant look. Becker was still scowling, but his scowl had taken on a whole new dimension of fear and reluctance.
"What's going on?" Jess demanded, having looked back and seen them again.
"Nothing," Becker said firmly, breaking out his scowl and turning to her. He gave her a very forced smile.
Jess nodded again. "Okay..." She said. She changed the setting on the coffee machine, obviously having decided to ignore their strangeness.
Becker scowled at Matt again and turned to leave.
Matt rolled his eyes. "So... you and Rolands are spending a lot of time together," he said before Becker could take a single step. Becker's scowl turned into a look of utter hatred, and for a brief moment he actually thought he was going to take a swing at him. Instead, he closed his eyes for a brief moment and turned back to face Jess.
Jess was nodding, not looking away from the coffee machine. "Yeah – we have a lot in common," she said absently.
Matt looked at Becker and raised his eyebrows again. His message was clear – he was to take it from here. Becker folded his arms and shifted uncomfortably, looking positively pained, before blurting out: "Are you dating him?"
Jess froze for a moment before turning slowly around to face Becker. She looked genuinely surprised at the question. "What?" She asked.
Matt had never seen Becker look so embarrassed. His folded arms weren't enough to hide the fact he was squirming. "I –"
"You think I'm dating Harry?" Jess said, blinking at him.
"It's okay if you are," Becker said quickly.
Jess folded her own arms and leant back against the counter behind her. She raised an eyebrow at Becker, who literally seemed to shrink a little under her stern look. "I hadn't realised I needed your approval on who I date, but thanks Becker," she said dryly.
Becker's face fell. "So you are dating him," he said.
Jess just looked at him, her eyebrow still up. She pursed her lips and then shrugged. "Why do you want to know?" She asked.
Becker's eyes widened to an almost comical extent – it took everything Matt had in him not to laugh. Then Becker shrugged, trying to look casual. "I just – I need to know these things," he said. "It can have an effect on how I, you know, place people in the field and things like that."
"Ah," Jess said, not sounding or looking in the least bit convinced. She and Becker kept looking at each other for a moment before Jess shook her head and turned around to face the coffee maker again. "Well, I'm not dating him."
A look of profound relief washed over Becker's face, and Matt did smile at that.
"You're not?" Becker said.
Jess was adding some milk to her coffee and stirring it vigorously, and she shook her head again. "No," she said. She looked over her shoulder at Becker and raised an eyebrow. "I'm not his type."
Matt's eyebrows went up as he realised what she meant, but one glance at Becker told him that the soldier hadn't figured it out.
Matt smirked. "Do you want me to put in a good word for you?" He asked Jess, unable to resist.
The look Becker gave Matt would have quelled a lesser man, but Matt just fought the urge to laugh.
Jess turned around and smiled at Matt. "I really don't think that would do much good," she said.
Light dawned for Becker, and he gaped at Jess. "He's gay?"
Jess looked back at Becker and gave him a small smile. "Yep," she said. "I'm surprised you didn't know – all your men do."
Becker's face broke into a huge grin. "Really?"
Jess's smile widened slightly, and Matt could tell that she knew exactly why Becker seemed so happy.
"You seem awfully glad to hear that, Becker," Matt said. He raised an eyebrow. "Something you're not telling us?"
Jess chuckled and Becker blinked, realised what Matt had implied and tried to scowl at him. Tried and failed, because he seemed unable to wipe his stupid smile off his face.
"Matt, come on," said Jess, rolling her eyes. "You never heard of don't ask don't tell?"
They both looked at Becker, who rolled his eyes, still smiling. "Whatever," he said. He looked at Jess and his smile widened. "I just wanted to, you know, know," he said.
Jess reached behind her to pick up her coffee, and quirked an eyebrow at him. "Well when I start dating an ARC soldier, Captain, you'll be the first to know," she said.
Becker held her gaze for a moment before nodding. "Make sure I am," he said.
Jess smirked before brushing past him and leaving the kitchen. Becker turned to watch her go, grinning wider than ever.
Matt shook his head. "You're pathetic," he said.
Becker blinked and looked back at Matt. "What?"
"That girl has you so whipped it's not even funny," Matt said. He paused and then shook his head. "Actually that's not true – it's really funny."
Becker rolled his eyes. "Shut up," he said. Even now, though, he was still smiling.
Matt smirked. "I'll shut up if you stop smiling like a fool," he said, folding his arms.
Becker rolled his eyes again and mimicked Matt's stance, folding his own arms and squaring off against him. Matt watched as he noticeably tried to bring his smile under control, only two give up after a few seconds and turn to walk towards the door, shaking his head.
Matt grinned. "Pathetic," he said again as Becker walked past him.