"Jess that's not your coat." He said as his eyes took her in critically before looking up.
Jess opened her mouth as if to answer but no sound came out so Becker decided to help her out. He took a step forward and cleared his throat.
The reaction was instantaneous.
The man, Matt, looked almost comically surprised when Becker stepped out of the shadows, "Becker?" He asked incredulously. It was strange to be addressed by someone he had never met before but ever since joining the ARC he had quickly grown accustomed to the unexpected.
Emily looked up at him and smiled, "Captain." She greeted demurely. There was something off about her he noted distantly, not maliciously or dangerously so, just something slightly odd.
"You're going to need to introduce yourself." Pointed out Jess quietly. He took a second to look at her and she appeared just as glassy eyed as before though her wide smile betrayed her real emotions.
"Right right." Muttered Matt, "I'm Matt Anderson." He stepped forward and gave Becker a quick but firm handshake.
"Emily Merchant." Said the woman and after an uneasy glance at Matt she too held out her hand. Becker noticed the look and couldn't help the confusion that must have flickered across his face. It did not go unnoticed, "Women in my time did not shake hands." She said in what she must have thought was an explanation but only served to confuse Becker further.
This time he knew he must have looked shocked because Matt smiled and Jess stepped in to explain, "Emily's actually from the… well, she's from the nineteenth century."
Becker decided not to ask and file that one away for later, "Emily Merchant…and is that you're real name?" Emily looked mildly offended at such an accusation but Jess stepped in before any hash words could be thrown. Becker could see her cheeks darkening again.
"Yes, that's her real name," She said to Becker before turning to Emily, "I'm sorry…I might have told them your name when they asked who I was."
Emily just looked confused, "Why?"
Jess muttered unintelligibly but Emily just laughed and wrapped an arm around Jess's shoulder's happy and content to just be near her newly recovered friend.
Matt grinned, "I'm impressed. You managed to keep your wits about you, and if I'm right," he said as he gave the bundle of technology that Jess had left behind a significant look, "you're well on your way to building a way home." Becker felt his chest tighten at the thought of Jess leaving him behind but he dismissed it as ridiculous. He would be where she was going.
There was a lull in the conversation before Jess burst out with a question that he was sure had been on her mind for quite sometime, "What's been happening while I've been gone?"
Emily's joyous expression faded slightly, she looked at Matt and cleared her throat before she began to answer, "In our time you've been gone for nearly six months-"
"But I've only been here for three and a half!" Interjected Jess.
"Time passes differently between anomalies." Said Matt quietly before allowing Emily to continue.
"At first Connor tried everything to fix the device that brought you here. He worked tirelessly but without the notes to building New Dawn he couldn't do it and of course, they had all been destroyed after-"
"New Dawn?" Asked Becker unable to stop himself.
"You didn't tell them about that?" Asked Matt looking at Jess. Although the man couldn't be very old, in that moment he looked unspeakably weary. More so than he could remember Jess looking when she had first stumbled through the anomaly. It made him wonder just what New Dawn had been.
"No," said Jess looking down slightly, "I left out New Dawn."
"What is it?" Questioned Becker again as he looked from face to face, all of which looked as uneasy as the next.
It was Matt who broke the tense silence, "Nothing you have to worry about, now."
Becker cast a suspicious look at them all but none of them volunteered any more information.
"Come on, what happened after I left?" Asked Jess impatiently.
Matt rubbed a tired hand across his face and picked up from where Emily left of, "Like Emily said- Connor couldn't rebuild the machine and eventually Lester made him stop. He was making himself ill, working all the time and the minister started harping on again-" He cast a sorry look at Jess who could feel the lump forming in her throat.
Emily quickly picked up the mantle, "We did not know what time you had travelled through, though we always held out hope you would return with each anomaly. Abby in particular made sure she was at every anomaly site, convinced that you would return."
Jess frowned as something jarred in her mind, "What do you mean, you didn't know where I was?" She said looking at the both of them, "Surely the others could remember me, I've been here the whole time!"
Matt shook his head, "We won't know until we meet the rest of the team." He said as he drew Emily closer to his body with an arm. It was growing noticeably cooler and the Victorian woman was already starting to shiver. Jess drew her borrowed coat around her tighter.
Becker looked around the trio of time travellers and came to a decision. "We need to get back to the hospital." He said, "We're not going to discover anything new here."
Matt nodded, "Good thinking, mate. Did you come here by car?" Becker felt uncomfortable in the way Matt talked to him. He gave of the impression of knowing Becker much better than Becker knew him. Of course he did and Jess had been the same when she had first arrived, but somehow it was different when it was her.
Becker nodded but it was Emily who asked what Matt had forgotten to, "Why are we going to the hospital?"
Matt opened his mouth but closed it looking confused. He turned to Jess looking for answers. The sight that Becker saw when he too turned to look at her made him feel worse than he could ever recall feeling before.
Jess, though naturally small, had curled in on herself in the time since he had glanced away from her, making her appear more diminutive than ever before and when she looked up Becker knew he wasn't the only one to see the tears in her eyes.
"I messed up. I'm so sorry but this is my fault." She managed to say with her voice particularly thick. Emily was there immediately wrapping the smaller woman in comforting embrace whispering reassurances but Matt just stood looking on, his face half wrapped in shadows and a hard glint set in his eyes.
The four of them walked down to the car in silence. The atmosphere was thick an heavy and Becker couldn't exactly pinpoint why. Every since he had mentioned the hospital Matt had gone from amiable to stony. He hadn't uttered another word to any of them since they began their descent to the car.
When Becker asked how they had known about this place it was not Matt who had replied but Emily. She had spoken that this was the place where a man who had been after her (she wouldn't explain why) had once hidden. Becker wondered if it was the same man who had set up the bomb. She said that from the top floor you could see the place where Matt's flat would one day be which was why the man had chosen it.
At the mention of him Becker gave Matt another sidelong glance.
Matt was walked with tension in every line of his body. His face was still so blank that it was impossible to believe that this same man who had expressed joy so freely in finally having found Jess.
Jess herself walked hunched over all of the equipment that she had bundled up to carry with her. Becker offered to the some of it to ease the burden but she wordlessly shook her head and held it tighter to her body. She too walked in silence.
With the oppressive air round them it seemed to take an age to finally reach the car. When they did Becker and Jess automatically went to open the doors and climb in; and they would have to, had Matt not reached out to stop Jess.
"We need to talk before we get to the hospital." He had said in an even voice, "In private." He had added when Becker had made as if to join them. He and Jess had walked a little way off into the car parking lot where Becker could not here them but the sight of them made it clear.
Jess had her head bowed while she listened to Matt. Whatever he was saying it most definitely did not bode well.
Becker was distracted by an icy tendril of wind that snuck in through the gaping holes in the broken windows of the car park and made him shiver involuntarily. When he looked at Jess he could see the bulky outline of his coat still draped around her and was glad that she at least, was warm. Reluctantly, he climbed into the car and turned on the heating.
When he sat down there was silence for all of a moment before the passenger door open and Emily slid gracefully into the seat.
For another beat all was quiet before Becker couldn't hold it back anymore, "What's he saying to her?" He asked Emily tightly.
She didn't answer right away; instead choosing to study him in a away that was more than a little unnerving. When she did eventually speak it was with a quiet cadence that was soothing despite the situation, "He is asking about how she changed the timelines." Becker didn't even bother asking how Emily knew that when not a word about the subject had passed between the pair.
"Why couldn't it wait until later?" He asked, still unhappy with the way that Jess looked so lost and sad yet Matt continued to stand above her talking and asking unrelentingly. "Until we're all back?"
Emily looked at Becker with a serious expression, "Matt has put a lot of effort into the timelines; he only wants the best for everyone-"
"But look at her!" Becker burst out ignoring the implications of Emily's sentence. "She's been through too much! She needs to rest before-"
"Ah." It was a simple sound that Emily made; not even really a word but the second she said it Becker stopped mid rant and narrowed his eyes.
"What?" He asked suspiciously, not liking the knowing light in Emily's eyes.
"I was merely surprised that Jess has managed to…oh, what was the phrase that Abby used… Ah yes, wrap you around her little finger in this time as well."
Becker almost spluttered at the sudden change in conversation, "What- I am not wrapped around her little finger!"
Emily gave him a searching look softened by a sweet smile, "Yes, you are." It was a simple statement told as if it were fact.
Becker almost denied it again before something sparked in his mind, "Hang on, what do you mean 'in this time as well'?"
Emily looked at him, "Well, in my time, you are completely in love with Jessica." She continued on despite the fact that Becker seemed to have gone into mild shock beside her, "I have been told, and assured by many that the only people who are not aware of it are yourself and her. It really is quite sweet and I've been informed that Connor intended to lock you both in a cupboard if you did not tell her soon."
Becker's reflex reaction was to try and deny what Emily had said, but how could he? He could not deny he was in love with Jess in the future (of which he knew none) when he was already almost there in this time. Instead of any words he settled for just gaping silently at what Emily had just told him.
It was she who broke the silence when she looked over at Becker and worry overtook her features.
"I've done it again, haven't I?" She asked looking genuinely flustered, "Abby's always telling me I'm too blunt sometimes and…"
Becker never did find out what else Abby had said because Jess and Matt chose that moment to both enter the back seats silently.
"We need to get to the hospital." Said Matt with a quiet authority. As Becker looked at him in the front mirror he could see more clearly than before how tired and old Matt looked when he sagged minutely against the seat. Becker turned his stare to Jess who also sat in the back but she didn't look up, instead focussing on her folded hands in her lap.
Wordlessly, he started the car and began the short drive to the hospital.
A/N- Thanks for reading and I hoped you enjoyed it! If you did (or didn't) please leave a review to let me know what you think J