Becker lay in his bed with a smile on his face. They had spent two full days doing nothing but sightseeing, although on the second day Jess had arranged to have tours inside different landmarks and cathedrals and even in the Louvre, and Becker would have been bored out of his mind if it wasn't for the fact that he'd been so focused on the way Jess always seemed to magnetically gravitate to his side. Not that he wouldn't done the same with her, and he knew it, but he'd been purposely staying a few steps back from her to see what would happen and the next thing he knew she'd be millimetres away again. He rather liked that fact. The tech girls were probably right after all.
Because of the tour guides' incessant rambling on, admittedly it was their job, Becker hadn't gotten much chance to listen to Jess' rambling, which was far more entertaining he thought, but overall, he'd enjoyed himself.
It was now his turn to decide how to spend the day and he had a little surprise planned for Jess. He wanted to get an early start so they'd have a lot of time, but he couldn't help lying in bed just a little bit longer as he listened to her singing an upbeat song in the room next door and, judging by the thumps, he had a feeling that if he peaked inside he'd find her dancing around the room, probably with her hairbrush as a make-do microphone because that was just her personality. He grinned at the thought and rolled out of bed, heading down to the bathroom to shower and dress.
By the time he was finished, he found Jess in the living room downstairs, uploading her photos from the day before onto her laptop. Becker watched her for a moment before moving to join her on the couch. "Morning, Jessica."
Jess smiled at him and inched closer to him on the couch. "So," she said, "What are we going to do today?"
Becker grinned at her, "Something you'll love, I promise. It's totally a Jess thing to spend the day doing."
"I thought this was supposed to be a Becker day, not a Jess day."
Becker chuckled, "True, but you're gonna be with me, so that makes it a Becker Day."
Jess stared at him, speechless, but Becker saw her flustered blush and felt again the almost magnetic pull towards her. He reached for a strand of her hair and began to fiddle with it as he asked, "So, you really wanna know what we're doing today?"
Jess nodded, still feeling a bit too overwhelmed by the way Becker was acting to trust her voice. Becker grinned at her. "We," he said, dropping her hair and standing up, motioning for her to follow him towards the door, "Are going to Disneyland."
Jess' voice came back in an excited squeal as she jumped up and threw her arms around him. "Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!"
Becker grinned. "I knew you'd approve," he replied, returning her hug, "But just so you know, this is one of those things that never, ever, gets told to any of my men."
Jess giggled, pulling away from him, giving him a fake pout, "So you're saying I can't bring photos of you in Mickey ears, posing with Minnie Mouse to the ARC?"
Becker gave her a look of mock sternness. "I'm not worried about that, Jess, because you aren't getting those photos in the first place."
"Just one? For me? I won't show anyone."
If someone had told Jess a week ago, scratch that, an hour ago, that Becker would be taking her on a surprise trip to Paris Disneyland, she wouldn't have believed them. And yet, they were here, and he was currently standing close to her side in line for the Aerosmith Rock n' Roller Coaster. To be honest, she still wasn't sure she believed it. It could possibly all be a dream after all.
The best part though wasn't the fact that he'd brought her here. It was the fact that he'd seemed to be enjoying her company as much as she did his. She'd never seen him so relaxed as he'd been the past few days and there'd been a couple moments where he'd even said things that had almost given her hope that he might fancy her, but she wasn't about to get her hopes up that high yet.
It was actually the second time in a row on the ride, and it was Jess who had insisted on riding it again. She knew they still had a lot more to do and see, and she wanted to, but the ride had just been so much fun. It had nothing to do with the fact that, in her fun-filled fright the first time around she'd grabbed for Becker's hand and he'd immediately squeezed it and held on tightly for the duration of the ride. Okay, it had everything to do with that if she was being honest, but certainly that was a small detail and completely beside the point.
She smiled to herself as they climbed back into the coaster car, sitting in the very back this time, which Jess found a bit more scary to be honest. To her surprise, Becker didn't wait for her to grab onto him, or even for the ride to start. He immediately reached for her hand and squeezed it tight, giving her a grin. "Ready?" He asked.
She nodded, "You betcha. And I don't think the ride would wait for me if I wasn't now, would it?"
Becker laughed, "Nope, so hold on!"
Jess wasn't sure if he meant to the bar in front of her, or to him, but she rather intended to have a tight grip on both anyway so it didn't really matter.
Becker smiled to himself as he sat at a small metal table across from Jess eating a strawberry gelato from Fantasia Gelati. It was mid-afternoon and he'd been enjoying himself far more than he would ever have thought possible at a theme park that was run by overgrown mice. His main reason for bringing her here had been to watch an exuberant Jess run around all day with a smile on her face, while not having to listen to museum tour guides give lectures. However, he hadn't counted on the bonus of getting to hold her hand during every ride. The first time she'd grabbed onto him in a panic, but after that it'd just become habit. They'd get on a ride, and immediately one of them would reach for the other. Admittedly, there was nothing scary about rides like It's a Small World, but who was he to complain if Jess felt the automatic need to hold on tightly anyway. And it wasn't his fault if he sometimes forgot to let go after the ride, was it? It's wasn't as though she were protesting.
"You know," he said suddenly, as he watched her take a lick of her own chocolate gelato. "You're kind of dressed like Minnie Mouse."
Jess giggled, "Well, when I heard where you were taking me, I couldn't rightly resist." She was wearing a black tank top and a knee-length red skirt and even a pair of Minnie ears that she'd purchased an hour ago at one of the many souvenir shops. She had, however, opted to wear red and white sneakers instead of her normal high heels, because she didn't want to lose a shoe on a ride. She'd tried to talk Becker into getting the Mickey ears, but he'd outright refused. He had, however, finally agreed to get his photo taken with her and every character they'd come across, after informing her that they were for her private souvenir album only and meant to be kept to herself.
"Well, it's cute," Becker said with a smile, "You make an adorable Minnie."
"She always was my favourite character," Jess laughed.
Becker leaned a bit closer to her so that they wouldn't be overheard, and whispered, "As a kid, mine was always Pluto. I liked dogs."
Jess' eyes lit up at the confession. It wasn't often that Becker talked about himself, especially not about his childhood. "But what about now? Why don't you like Pluto anymore?"
Becker shrugged, "I guess I still do, I just… I'm starting to think I prefer Mickey."
Jess laughed, "So you've decided you like mice over dogs now?"
Becker chuckled. "It's not that… it's just that Minnie liked Mickey the best."
Jess blushed. Was he actually flirting with her, now? She opened her mouth to reply, which was probably a bad idea because she had no idea what she was about to say and it was such moments that usually brought out the worst of her rambling, but she was fortunately saved by making a fool of herself by a loud voice blaring over the speakers and announcing the start of the Disney Magic on Parade. She jumped to her feet excitedly, "Oh, please can we watch the parade?"
Becker shrugged and stood, following her to the edge of the street just in time to see the Fairy Godmother and Merlin arrive dancing on a float that looked like a giant book. Jess grabbed onto his arm, jumping with excitement and pointing beyond, "Look, the princesses are coming! Here, hold my ice cream so I can take pictures!"
She thrust her cone into his hands and fished out her camera. Becker missed most of the parade, watching Jess become completely giddy with excitement, but he did see enough to complain about the soldiers that were painted green and dancing.
"They're from Toy Story, not the ARC," Jess said, giving him a look of disbelief.
"It teaches kids that soldiers are just out to have a fun time. They should know that it's a dangerous job."
"You've gotta be joking."
Becker cracked a smile, "Maybe."
Jess gave him a playful shove and went back to taking her photographs.
When the parade ended, they made their way over to the toilets and Becker stood on guard outside the ladies' room waiting for Jess.
It took Jess a good twenty minutes due to the line up inside and when she got back out she found Becker looking annoyed and almost mad. She went over to him at once.
"What's wrong?" she whispered.
"Nothing," he said quickly and grabbed her wrist to pull her away. "Let's go ride the Pirates of the Caribbean, yeah?"
Jess nodded and followed him, but she wasn't about to give up that easily; she knew something had happened. She sidled up close to him once they were in line and whispered so that no one could hear her. "Becker, I know something's bothering you. What happened while I was in the restroom?"
Becker smiled at her, "Nothing, really. Just some stupid lady trying to flirt with me."
Jess' eyes opened wider, "That's what has you all riled up?"
"She was making me uncomfortable, Jess. She was quite pushy. She came up right beside me and when I asked if I could help her she said, "Oh, boy could you ever!" and gave me a wink."
Jess tried not to laugh. "Becker, surely you've had women hitting on you before. I mean, you're a good looking guy."
"I was standing outside the ladies' room in Disneyland, Jess. Did she really think I was single? I mean, do I look the type to come to Disney on my own? Surely I must be here with a girlfriend, or wife, or kids, or something."
"Becker, you are single, and you're not here with any of those things."
"That's not the point, Jess. She shouldn't have assumed it, even if she was right. Anyway, I just didn't like the way she was getting all close to me and standing in my personal space! She was almost as close to me as you are right now!"
He knew instantly he had made a mistake as Jess turned beat red and backed away from him.
"Jess… I didn't mean that."
Jess shrugged and faced forward in the line up, and Becker could see she was really upset.
"Jess, this wasn't about you. You're you. You're allowed. She's just a random stranger. I like having you close to me."
Jess finally turned to him, "You don't have to say that, Becker. It's fine. I just, was excited, is all, and it's crowded here, I didn't pay attention to where I was standing, I guess."
"Jess-ica," Becker protested, "C'mere, back where you were."
Jess took a couple of tiny shuffled steps toward him again, but still stayed clear out of his personal space so Becker moved the couple steps between them and pulled her by her elbow back to him, whispering to her ear, "I said I want you near me, so stay put, why don't you? Otherwise I'm just going to have to hold you here as prisoner."
Jess didn't move away, but she still looked upset, like she didn't really believe him and the closeness between them felt far more awkward than comfortable like it had been before. Becker inwardly cursed his big mouth and wondered how to get past this with her.
Finally after a few moments, he wrapped his arms tightly around her and pulled her so that her back was resting against his chest. He kissed her ear and told her earnestly, "I really, really, like having you in my personal space, Jessica."
Jess rewarded him with another blush and a grin, this time relaxing. "Okay," she said. "I'm not going anywhere."
Becker nodded and let go of her, happy the tension had dropped and knowing that he didn't really have the right to hold her like that because she wasn't actually his. He did, however, keep close behind her and fiddle with her hair the entire time they were in line up and every once in awhile he gave her a little poke in the side, unable to completely keep his hands off her. Jess gave a little giggle and squirm each time. Becker thought he was in trouble once they got back to the ARC, but it didn't stop him from holding her hand again when they got into the ride.
By the time it was dark out, Becker noticed that Jess had come down a bit from her excitement. In fact, she was looking a little bit sad. He frowned. "Jess? If you're not enjoying yourself anymore we can leave."
Jess looked surprised, "I don't want to leave."
"You looked sad."
"I was a little, but just because I know it's going to end soon and it's been such a magical day. I don't want it to end sooner than it has to!"
"The Disney Dreams show starts in twenty minutes, should we go find a good spot to watch?"
Jess nodded, smiling again. "Yes, I'd really like that, but then I suppose we'll have to leave."
"Well, the park does close after that, Jessica. I don't think they'll let us stay."
She sighed and Becker gave her hand a little squeeze. He hadn't even noticed this time that he was still holding it after the last ride, and he wasn't sure it was a good thing that it was becoming so natural. "Jessica, what if I promise we'll come back here again?"
Jess looked at him, "When? What for?"
Becker shrugged, "Just for fun, of course. Maybe next year, or whenever we can get some holiday time next, I'll bring you here and we'll have even more time because we can spend the extra day at the parks instead of going to some Taser gun show."
Jess beamed, "Really?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Maybe," Jess hesitated and then continued, "Maybe we could come back for New Year's? I always wanted to see the Christmas decorations."
Becker nodded, "Okay, New Year's it is. We'll go see our show now, and make an appointment for another viewing six months from now."
Jess pulled her hand free from his in order to fling her arms around his neck excitedly.
The show was better than Becker would have expected. The special effects were amazing and watching the images on the castle and in the sky instead of on a screen just made it seem even more magical. Plus, he always had enjoyed fireworks. They were seated on the street curb watching it, and it wasn't the most comfortable place to sit, but the show itself and made him forget about the hardness of the cement for the time being. That and the fact that a few minutes into it, Jess had hesitantly cuddled herself into his side with an excuse about being too tired to sit straight on her own. Becker had immediately put his arm around her and drawn her closer to him.
The show lasted just over twenty minutes and when it was over they followed the crowd out of the park. Jess grinned up at him as they walked side-by-side. "Did you enjoy the show?"
Becker nodded, "I did, actually. I was surprised to see the Mary Poppins segment though."
Becker shrugged, "I didn't know she was Disney."
"Really? I've always known that."
Becker burst out laughing, "This may come as a shock, Jessica, but I'm not really all that knowledgeable about all things Disney."
Jess shoved him playfully, "So you're saying you don't go home and watch Disney movies every week night and take Disney trivia quizzes online?"
Becker shook his head, "Well, no, but I have to admit, I do love them Pirates."
"You don't like them?"
"Sure I do, but I prefer the animated movies. Disney really does a great job with them."
"What's your favourite one?" Becker asked her, surprised that he cared.
Jess thought about it for a moment and then shrugged, "Maybe Bambi or Beauty and the Beast."
"What's the next one going to be?"
"The next Disney movie?"
Becker nodded and Jess shrugged. "I don't know. I like their films, but I'm not obsessed. I'll know when they start advertising."
"I wonder if it'll be more animated type, or CGI, or actors like Pirates."
"I don't know," Jess laughed, "Possibly it'll be a sequel to something though. They seem to be obsessed with sequels right now."
"They're never as good."
"No, I agree, they're not."
"Well," Becker said casually, "I guess the only way to tell if the next Disney movie is any good will be to go see it. We'll have to do that I think, whatever type it is."
"Yeah," Jess agreed, just as casually, but inside she was dancing for joy because she was pretty sure that Becker had just invited her to go to a movie with him.
They exited the park gate and Jess looked back a bit wistfully. Becker noticed and stopped walking. "It was a good day, eh?"
Jess nodded, "Yeah, but its over."
"We're still in Paris though, Jess. We've got your list of things to see and do that you're looking forward to and we'll come back to Disney in six months."
Jess looked at him, "You haven't changed your mind on that yet then?"
"Jessica! I'm a man of my word; you should know that."
"You better be, because as soon as we get back to the hotel I'm gonna be online booking our flights." Jess laughed. "Gotta figure out what day we're leaving so I can commence my countdown."
Becker rolled his eyes and started walking again. They were halfway back to the hotel when he realised that the major downside of the day was the fact that the theme song from It's a Small World was now stuck in his head.
Becker woke up the next morning with an uneasy feeling in his stomach. As a soldier, he always liked to be prepared. He knew that anything could happen at any time, and that was just part of life, especially life at the ARC, and that while you couldn't prepare yourself for what the situation would be, you could prepare yourself for how you were going to behave, act, and react to what was going on, no matter what it was.
So when he woke up having no idea how he himself was expected to behave or even how he wanted to behave, he felt almost sick. And of course, it was all to do with Jess. She threw him off sometimes. They'd be going to the gun show today. The day before had been, using Jess' own words, magical. He'd spent most of the day holding her hand, and he'd loved it. He'd cuddled up to her during the show, they'd hugged, they'd made a movie date and even booked a vacation together over New Years.
But that'd been Disneyland and everything they'd done had had an excuse involved. He'd held her hand because she'd been scared on the rides and then he'd just pretended to forget. They'd cuddled because she'd been tired. The other stuff, well, they'd just been on the subject and enjoying themselves, so why not make some plans together?
Becker was scared now that the magic of Disney had been left behind in Disney. There would be absolutely no excuse he could make up to walk around holding her hand in a gun show, not even a stupid taser gun show. Was it going to be awkward if he decided to hold her hand for no reason other than he wanted to? Would she pull away? Would it be awkward if he didn't after yesterday? After all, he'd flat out insisted to her that he wanted her to be in his personal space and that had had nothing to do with the rides. If he didn't keep her there today, she'd assume that it was a Disney thing only and possibly avoid being near him too.
He sighed; Maybe if he was really lucky Jess would take the initiative to hold his hand.
Jess was still asleep when Becker got up and ready for the day. He flipped on the television for a bit and watched the local weather before turning it back off when he heard her upstairs using the shower. When she came back down she was wearing a cute pea green dress that looked great with her complexion.
"You look nice," he commented to her casually, sliding a croissant across the kitchen counter toward her and sitting down for breakfast himself.
"Thanks!" Jess told him with a grin, spinning around and then plonking herself down in the chair across from him. "Connor picked this outfit out for me."
Becker coughed and lifted an eyebrow, clearly amused. "Connor picks out your clothes?"
Jess shrugged, not seeming to find anything odd about it at all. "Well, not normally, but if I ask for an opinion he helps, and this one he found on his own and said I should bring it because he thought it'd suit me well."
"And you listened to him?"
Jess frowned, "Yes, of course. Why wouldn't I? You said yourself you liked it."
"I did, and he did good. I guess, I'd have been worried he was wrong."
"Okay, let's just say that if Connor told me an outfit looked nice I'd be running to go change as fast as possible. I'm glad you have more confidence in his fashion sense than I do, because you look fantastic."
"Connor's actually quite smart you know. He usually knows what he's talking about on any subject."
"Jess, if I show you something, will you keep it an absolute secret?"
Jess nodded, eager to share in one of Becker's secrets. Becker got up from the table and retrieved his wallet from the coat that was draped over the back of the sofa.
"Okay," Becker said, "I just don't want it getting out that I have a sentimental side, you know. My soldiers quite like me the way I am, but I do happen to have a photograph in my wallet of the old team. I mean, not the really old team, but it's of myself, Connor, Abby, Danny and Sarah. I want you to take a close look at it, specifically at Connor." He handed her the photograph with a flourish and said, "This, is how Connor Temple used to dress."
Jess took the photo eagerly and burst out laughing when she saw Connor in bright yellow tight jeans, a turquoise t-shirt, a pinstripe vest, red bandana tied around his neck, some fingerless gloves and a fedora. "That's crazy!" she giggled. "I can't believe he wore that! Please tell me it was a costume party."
Becker shook his head. "I wish I could. He dressed like that all the time. I know his style has somewhat matured now, but first impressions mean a lot sometimes and I'm always going to picture Connor like that. So you can see why I'd be a bit hesitant to take any fashion advice from the guy."
Jess nodded, "Yes, I guess I'd have been concerned too. And oh gosh, what on earth is Abby wearing?"
Becker peered over her shoulder scrutinizingly, even though he'd seen the photo many times before, and answered her seriously, "It appears to be camouflage leggins, a grey t-shirt that looks like she pulled it out of the dumpster judging from the holes and stains and the fact that it's three sizes too big, brown work boots, and a multi-coloured plaid skirt."
Jess stared in disbelief and then finally ask, "Maybe Abby had asked pre-mature Connor for fashion advice?"
Becker laughed, "Well, you never know, do you?"
"And what'd she do to her hair?"
Becker shrugged, "Cut it, I guess."
"With a chain saw? Because when I get a hair cut it doesn't look like that…"
Becker frowned suddenly, "Jess…"
"I shouldn't have showed this to you, should I have? You're gonna have a really hard time not telling them you've seen it."
Jess groaned. "Right, I can't tease them on it without giving away your secret. Becker, you're mean, you know that? Do you not have any idea how hard this is going to be for me to not say something?"
"Yep," Becker grinned at her, "You'd better just forget you ever saw it."
"You're joking, right? I'm gonna be having nightmares about those outfits for months!"
"Fine, just don't talk in your sleep."
Jess playfully shoved him and then stood up. "C'mon. We'll be late for your gun show if we don't leave."
Becker nodded, and followed her out the door. As they walked down the street he thought about how relaxed he'd been with her all morning and started to reach to take her hand in his before changing his mind. Thank goodness the soldiers he commanded didn't know he was such a wimp.
"None of this stuff is any good," Becker said, barely glancing over the displays. "The EMD's we have are the best out there."
"That's one of those things I should never repeat to anyone, right?"
"Especially not to Matt," Becker grinned at her.
Jess grinned back. It was his simple little comments that she knew he'd never make to anyone else that made her feel so special.
"Still," she said to him, "We'd best look around. Lester's given me permission to order anything that might be better than the EMD's, you know."
"There won't be."
"Becker, do you remember on the way here I told you I had a secret about this gun show. Something I'd researched online?"
The memory suddenly triggered, Becker looked at her intrigued, "Go on."
"I think there's one you might be interested in," she said confidently. "Follow me."
Becker did so, walking past a couple rooms of gun displays and a theatre where someone was talking to any audience willing to listen about the different features of all the guns. Apparently he was scheduled to repeat himself every half hour all day. Jess seemed to be on a mission though as she turned the corner and led him right to a room with a line up of people and Becker wondered where they'd all been before.
"What's going on, Jess?"
"Everyone is really interested in the same thing, that's all."
The line up went quickly and the stepped through the doors into a gymnasium. And there on the stage, all shiny and new was sitting the star attraction of the gun show. Becker's eyes lit up and a grin spread across his face. "Really? Jess! It's a tank! A taser tank! I didn't know there was a such thing!"
"Brand new invention."
Becker had transformed into the image of a little boy in a toy store and he grabbed Jess' hand, dragging her over to it. It was only when he reached it and dropped her hand that he realised what he had done and scolded himself for letting go of her when he'd had his opportunity. Still, too late to grab her hand again now, that'd be weird and he was too excited about the tank to really let it bother him just at the moment.
"Jess, will Lester let me have this?"
Jess shrugged, "He told me I could order whatever you thought would be good. I don't think he necessarily knew the tank would be here…"
"So you'll get it for me?"
"Jess, I am soooo glad you're not scared of your boss."
"It's not like he can fire me," Jess grinned.
Becker knew he should be embarrassed about the way he was acting, because soldiers definitely did not sing silly little made up songs while they worked, especially not in front of other people, but it was Jess and he felt comfortable enough around her that he didn't care. And that really said something, didn't it?
"I've got a taaannk! A taser tank! I've got a ta-ank! A taser, taser tank!" He continued to sing as he chopped up some vegetables in the suite's kitchen.
Jess giggled and happily joined in, "He's got a ta-ank! A taser, taser tank!"
Becker put down the knife he was using and grabbed at Jess' hand to spin her around in a quick dance as he sung his chorus again. When he let her go, Jess beamed at him. "When you become famous, can I be your backup singer?"
Becker smiled at her, but his tone became threatening and teasing combined, "This song so much as leaves this room and I'm demoting you."
"Demoting me from what?" Jess asked with a chuckle. "Field Co-ordinator or Co-Singer?" She stuck her tongue out at him.
Becker thought for a moment and then smiled, "You tell people my secrets and I'm demoting you from your highly coveted position as Becker's Best Friend. I swear there's a line up of others wanting the job, I'm just that popular."
Jess stared at him in surprise, "Really?"
Becker knew what she was asking, but he couldn't resist teasing her a bit more, "Yes, really, I've been taking CV's by the dozen. Everyone wants to be best friends with the owner of the Taser Tank. The taser, taser tank!"
Jess laughed at his antics and swatted him with a dish towel, "You know what I meant, Becker! Am I really your best friend?"
Becker grinned at her, "Of course, Jess. Who else would be? Anyway, you don't really think I'd let you hear my beautiful singing voice if you weren't?"
"Oh, I just thought that was my reward for buying you tank," Jess replied, and felt rather proud of herself for not squealing with excitement and causing him to actually demote her right then and there.
For a second morning in a row, Becker woke up feeling unsure of himself. This time it was worse, because he'd been a coward the day before. They were going on a long walk today in a place that Jess called Montmartre et Sacre Coeur. She had assured him that it would be an adorable little village with lots of café's and street artists and all things French and Becker knew that if he didn't resume his hand holding with her now, the Disney magic touch would definitely be too far gone to pick back up again. If it wasn't already.
They took a cab to the village in north Paris. They were mostly silent on the ride, but it was a comfortable silence. Jess was staring excitedly out the window of the car and Becker was studying her. She looked young and beautiful in the flirty light orange dress she was wearing. He studied a bit closer and then suddenly spoke in surprise, "Jess! Your dress changed colours! That's the one you wore yesterday."
Jess turned back to him and giggled, "You're too observant. I shouldn't tell you this, but I have fourteen of this dress. Abby and Connor think I'm crazy, but I liked every colour the store had. I had fifteen, but I gave one to Abby."
Becker laughed, "How many did you bring?"
"Just the two. Connor said they were the best colours for my complexion."
"Too bad. I like it. I want to see the other colours."
Jess smiled, "Well, maybe I'll wear the others when we get back home. Not all at once of course, that'd just be weird."
"What colours do you have?" Becker wondered out loud and began picturing her in each one as she listed them until the cab finally stopped.
When they got out, Becker made up his mind. The place was just sooo romantic that it'd be wrong to not hold hands with her. Not when they were walking so close to one another and partially flirting. Besides, if it was going to be awkward either way, he might as well go with the choice he liked best, right?
He glanced around the white stone village and saw a street vendor on the side of the road that he knew they'd have to visit, because that's all he really needed, an excuse. He grabbed her hand in his and tugged on it, pulling her with him and pretending that he'd done it just to get her to follow. "C'mon, Jess! This way."
The lady was selling paintings that were too expensive to consider buying, but beautiful to look at and Jess and Becker stood back and watched as she worked on a new one for a few minutes.
"I wish I could paint like that," Jess commented.
Becker shrugged, "Funny, because I'm actually quite good at it, I just can't be bothered."
Jess looked at him, "Really? You should paint something for me then."
"Like what?" Becker asked her, leading her away and up the street.
Jess couldn't think straight though to answer because Becker was still holding her hand. She wasn't sure that he was aware he hadn't let go of her, but she was walking hand-in-hand with her soldier in a quaint Parisian village and it was almost too good to be true.
"Jess?" Becker pressed again, "What do you want a painting of?"
Jess focused and then smiled at him, "Something colourful and cheerful that'd go good in my flat. Maybe with butterflies."
"Right," Becker said, making a mental memo to himself to paint her a butterfly garden when they got back.
"Are you really going to do it?"
"Sure, why wouldn't I? It probably won't be as good as that lady's were, but I'll do my best."
"Yay!" Jess grinned at him.
Becker smiled as they turned the corner and he noticed another street vendor, this one selling roses. He pulled her toward it immediately.
"I need a rose for my pretty friend here," he told the man at the flower stand. Jess' jaw dropped in amazement as Becker let go of her hand and reached for his wallet.
"Becker, thank-you!" Jess breathed, hugging him tightly. When the red flower was safely in her hands, Jess lifted it to her nose to smell it and Becker realised his mistake. He'd let go of her and there were no more street vendors on this part of the street, so now if he wanted to hold her hand, it was going to have to be a purposeful and obvious gesture.
He took a deep breath and then shrugged to himself, reaching out and entwining their fingers together. Jess stared at him and he gave her a smile, "Ready to go on?"
She nodded, mutely, and he purposefully ignored the way she was biting her lip to hold back her grin because looking at her mouth for too long would be a huge mistake on his part and he was smart enough to know it.
Once again, Jessica was squealing with glee inside and completely unsure how she was containing it. They walked around for a bit until they found a café where Becker wanted to have lunch. They sat down across from each other and Jess laid her rose across the table and listened while Becker asked for a menu and two glasses of white wine.
"This place is so perfect," Jess said when the waiter had gone. Becker nodded his agreement and they both fell silent, their eyes studying the rose on the table intently to avoid looking at each other.
And then suddenly Becker's trip secret dawned on Jess. She didn't know why she hadn't caught on before, but she supposed she'd been distracted by the actual trip itself. But it made sense, it did. She remembered reading it in Becker's file, and she'd seen the way he'd listened to the flight attendant and spoken to the man at the flower shop and now the waiter. "You don't need me!" she blurted out.
Becker stared at her, startled, and wondering what on earth she was talking about. Jess blushed, realising what she'd said, but she continued on in her accusatory fashion. "You don't need me here I mean, not that you don't need me at all, which you probably don't, well maybe in a work related fashion since I am the best field co-ordinator around, but Lester shouldn't have sent me to translate for you… You're fluent in French!"
Becker looked at her, a bit guiltily and more than a little sheepishly. "C'est vrai. But I couldn't exactly tell Lester that could I? He'd already booked you in for the trip. Besides, it would have been dull without you, I probably really would have just chilled in the hotel room all along and I really, really, wanted you along for the trip."
Jess grinned, "Why didn't you tell me then?"
"I didn't want you to feel bad for taking advantage of Lester's pocketbook."
Jess laughed, "Can't be helped, like you said, he'd already booked it before he told us."
"And it's not our fault he didn't bother to ask if I needed a translator," Becker justified.
"Just like it's not our fault he didn't make sure there wouldn't be any tanks at the gun show."
Jess smiled, "Well I suppose I should call him up and tattle on you, but since we are best friends and all, I guess I'll let it slide. You're just lucky he sent me instead of Abby. She speaks French to, you know, and she might have told on you."
"Screw that, Abby and Connor already got their trip!"
Jess looked surprised, "What trip?"
Becker laughed, "Well, it wasn't a real trip, I guess. A couple years ago Becker sent Abby and Connor to some Lord of the Rings convention and Sarah and Danny to a dance."
"What's that have to do with dinosaurs?"
"Nothing," Becker laughed. "It wasn't like this actually, it wasn't work related at all, but he tried to make it sound like it was. I know ours is a business trip so it's not the same thing, but either way, they did still get to go on a trip that they enjoyed."
"Why would Lester buy them non-work related trips though?"
"He was trying to set them up because he was tired of them flirting with each other and not working up the courage to ask each other out. Danny figured it out and got him to admit it. I'm not sure that Abby and Connor ever knew that, though I daresay they guessed at times. He sent them away and made them attend something that was so very vaguely work related as an excuse and then put them up in these fancy hotels together where they'd be able to have a weekend doing whatever they wanted in a romantic setting. He went all out, paying for luxury rooms, meals…"
He stopped suddenly, his eyes widening and stared at Jess as he realised what he was saying and just how similar the situation sounded to the one they were both in now.
"He-he wouldn't do that to us though, right?" Jess asked.
"No! Of course not!" Becker replied quickly. "Guns are important in our business. Much more so than Tolkien and Dances are. Besides, you and I would never fall for something like that."
"Right," Jess nodded a bit too enthusiastically. "Good thing too, because he'd be rather disappointed when we came back and we weren't a couple."
Becker hesitated and then shrugged, "I'm not really bothered about disappointing Lester to be honest. I'd be more concerned if I thought he was trying to set us up, because then if we did come back as a couple, we'd owe him big time. I don't think I want to owe Lester."
Jess stared, "But, is there a chance of that? Us going home as a couple, I mean?"
"I'm a soldier, Jess, I've learned to never say never. Of course there's always a chance. If I said there wasn't and it happened then I'd look stupid, like I did when I said dinosaurs didn't roam England. Never say never, that's the motto. Better to say you don't know than to be wrong."
He was looking out across the street at the view of the village from the top of the hill they were on, avoiding looking at her, but knowing she was staring at him.
"Right," she said finally, "So, umm… what would you say the odds were?"
"Odds?" he turned to her a bit puzzled.
"Of us leaving here as a couple? I'm just curious. What percent chance is there?"
Becker stared at her, "Is this like a math question? Because I never did like math."
"Just a guesstimate," Jess said, not sure why she was pushing it because she was barely handling her glee as it was that Becker wasn't outright opposed to the idea. "One percent? Two? Ten? Fifty?"
Becker heard the hopeful tone that she was trying to hide as her number got higher and he breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that it was so obvious she wanted it to happen as much as he did.
He looked her in the eyes purposefully, "One hundred," he said firmly. "One hundred percent chance we're a couple before this trip is over." Then he swallowed nervously while he watched for her reaction.
Jess did squeal then, she couldn't help it. She jumped from the table and raced around it to throw her arms around his neck. Becker chuckled and pulled her down so she was sitting sideways in his lap. He brushed some hair from her face and grinned, "So, you like those odds then?"
"Definitely," Jess laughed, "Very, very, very good odds."
"And I'm starting to think I like math after all," Becker grinned at her. "Answering math questions properly provides brilliant results for me."
Jess nodded and looked at him eagerly, "Yes, you're very good at math, but it's not time for that. You should be kissing me now, right?"
"Right," Becker agreed, doing just that.
The kiss was gentle and pretty much perfect, Jess decided as she nearly purred in her contentment. Becker definitely understood that Paris was all about romance. She pulled away just enough to speak, letting her lips brush against his as she did. "You're good at geography too."
"What?" Becker blinked, not understanding her train of thought or even how she was thinking because the only thing going through his mind was how good she tasted.
"Geography. We're in Paris, so you're being romantic."
Becker raised his eyebrow, amused. "We're also in France, so maybe it should have been a French Kiss?"
Jess blushed but nodded eager for him to try it. When they finally pulled away the second time they found that the waiter had left their menus and wine on the table without them noticing.
"I guess we owe him a big tip," Becker chuckled as Jess returned to her own seat across from him.
Jess nodded in agreement, too happy to really care. She glanced at her rose on the table and then suddenly pulled out a piece of paper from her purse and started to jot something down.
Becker watched curiously for a moment before asking her what she was writing.
She grinned back at him cheekily, "Itinerary for our New Years trip, because we are sooooo coming here again too."
Becker chuckled and didn't argue, didn't want to argue, as he watched her. Suddenly he thought of something.
"What you said a few minutes ago, before you accused me of knowing French… I just wanted to say that you were wrong."
She looked up from her paper, trying to figure out what he meant, "Wrong about what? Are you sure? I'm very rarely wrong."
Becker laughed, "That's true, because you're brilliant, but you were wrong this time. You said I didn't need you, and I do, Jess. I really, really do."