Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 1515
Summary: Somehow, Stephen wasn’t surprised that Becker turned out to be a cuddler when he was drunk.
AN: Written as a birthday fic for bigtitch. Sorry it's a little late, sodding uncooperative bunnies! Also, this was largely inspired by bigtitch's comment in this week's mansfieldfans Thursday Picture.
Somehow, Stephen wasn’t surprised that Becker turned out to be a cuddler when he was drunk. He watched, amused, as Becker engulfed Abby in yet another huge hug which Abby accepted with yet another eye-roll and a friendly pat on the back. By Stephen’s count, that was the fifth time for Abby that night, but she didn’t seem to mind.
Neither did Connor, apparently, if his constant attempts to sit next to Becker and his hopeful expression were anything to go by. His efforts had been rewarded on more than one occasion, although Becker had also taken to ruffling Connor’s hair while he hugged him, which Connor seemed less pleased about as the night wore on.
Cutter, Stephen noticed, had made a strategic retreat to the seat furthest possible away from the tipsy soldier, and kept glancing around the pub to see if anyone had noticed. He had also surrounded himself with as many bags and coats as he physically could in an obvious attempt to avoid falling prey to Becker’s wandering affection. After being on the receiving end of two and a half hugs, Jenny had joined him.
In fact, Stephen realised after a while, there was only one person who Becker had conspicuously not hugged all evening; him.
It wasn’t as if Stephen had been avoiding it, either, and yet Becker simply hadn’t touched him all night. He had been looking, though. Stephen occasionally caught Becker watching him, sometimes openly, sometimes a little more furtively. Almost every time he realised Stephen had caught him, though, Becker turned away, directing his attention loudly and obviously at someone else.
Stephen had to admit he barely knew the man, and tried to convince himself it was probably just that. Becker had been working with the rest of the team for months while Stephen recovered from his injuries, and he had only been properly back at work a few weeks. Perhaps Becker even thought that he shouldn’t hug Stephen in case he aggravated an injury? There were any number of reasons he could come up with, but the truth was, Stephen was beginning to feel like Becker was deliberately avoiding him, and that hurt.
They may have only known each other for a few weeks, but Stephen knew he had been attracted to the soldier from the moment he saw him. Who wouldn’t be, with that body and those looks, and the confidence and attitude that told the world Becker knew exactly how pretty he was, thank you very much.
Stephen tried to continue to pretend he was amused, but Becker’s odd behaviour was bothering him far more than he wanted to admit, either to himself or to anyone else.
He was dragged back out of his thoughts when he realised that everyone seemed to be getting up. Jenny had apparently decided it was time to go home, and Cutter was following her with a little more speed and enthusiasm than was strictly necessary. Abby was also getting up, Connor in tow, although they both accepted a final hug from Becker before they were allowed to leave.
It was at that point that Stephen realised he and Becker were the last ones there.
Stephen stood up.
“So, are you okay to get home by yourself, or should I call you a taxi?”
Becker gave him an adorable confused look of the type usually reserved only for the extremely drunk or occasionally Connor.
“Why would I want a taxi?”
Stephen rolled his eyes.
Becker attempted to stand up and had almost managed it when he began to wobble, only Stephen’s hand on his arm at the last minute stopped him from tumbling back into the seat.
“Oops!” Becker grinned.
Stephen realised a moment later that he was still holding Becker’s arm, and that Becker was staring at him.
“I might need a teeny bit of a hand,” Becker finally decided, his gaze travelling up Stephen’s arm and meeting his eyes with an expression that didn’t seem to know whether it was embarrassed, hopeful or just a little bit pouty.
Stephen rolled his eyes again, and smiled as he hauled Becker to his feet. The soldier wobbled again, and leaned against Stephen until he was steady, and Stephen tries to ignore the flutter in his stomach.
They stumbled out of the pub together, and set off in the direction that Stephen presumed was the way to Becker’s flat. It seemed to be the direction that Becker wanted to go in, at any rate, and Stephen put his faith in the natural homing instincts of the inebriated mind.
Becker didn’t seem to be avoiding touching him now, Stephen couldn’t help but notice. In fact, Stephen was beginning to think that Becker’s arm around him was not one hundred percent down to the soldier’s need to hang onto something stable in order to stay upright. Now he was really confused.
Never one to run away from confusing situations, Stephen decided to take the bull by the horns.
“Why didn’t you hug me in the pub?”
Becker stopped abruptly, yanking Stephen to a halt along with him. Stephen turned to look at him, and discovered Becker was frowning at him, like it was the maddest question ever.
It possibly was, Stephen had to admit.
“Because I didn’t want to hug you,” Becker finally said, nodding his head to back up the statement.
Stephen felt his stomach churn with disappointment. Well, at least he was being honest, he reflected. Although he hadn’t expected the man to be quiet so brutal and to the point about it.
Becker leaned closer, and added in a conspiratorial whisper, “I only hug friends.”
Stephen jerked back as if he’d been slapped. Becker didn’t even consider him a friend? Shit, he really was wasting his time. He looked away, and tried to start walking again, but Becker didn’t move and didn’t let go of him and Stephen was forced to stop again. When he glanced back, Becker was looking at him with a curious expression.
“Can I kiss you?” Becker suddenly asked.
Becker appeared to be considering it carefully, and then nodded again.
“Can I kiss you?”
Stephen tried to suppress the not so little voice inside him that was jumping up and down and shouting, “Say yes!”
“Why do you want to kiss me if you don’t even want to hug me?”
Becker frowned, his forehead creasing in thought. Stephen suspected thinking was taking rather longer than was normal, due to the excessive amounts of alcohol he’d consumed that evening.
“Because hugs are for friends.”
Stephen hesitated, his stomach doing flip flops again, this time for an entirely different reason.
“And what are kisses for?” he asked in a whisper.
Becker leaned closer and the look in his soft, dark eyes could have given even Connor’s puppy eyes a run for their money.
“More than friends?”
Stephen swallowed hard, his mouth suddenly dry. Nevertheless, he felt himself smiling.
“Well, in that case, yes, you can kiss me.”
Becker’s face lit up in a smile that could have powered the national grid for at least ten minutes. He fumbled to get a grip on Stephen’s jacket, and then tugged him closer until their lips met. Well, nearly met. Becker’s aim was a little off. Stephen chuckled and readjusted their position, and then they were kissing, sloppy and uncoordinated and just damn perfect. After a moment Stephen dared to do what he had wanted to do for a long time, and ran his fingers through Becker’s hair. It felt as soft as it looked, although he quickly became aware that Becker seemed to be pouting even as they continued kissing, and Stephen finally pulled away and chuckled.
“That was nice,” Becker decided, absently straightening his hair with the hand that wasn’t still clinging to Stephen for balance. “Can we do that again?”
“I don’t see why not,” Stephen smirked.
“Can we do that again at my flat?”
“Again, I don’t see any problem with that suggestion.”
Becker leaned close again, and his voice dropped to that theatrical whisper again.
“Can we do other things when we get to my flat as well?”
“That probably depends on whether you’re still entirely conscious by the time we get to your flat.”
Becker looked affronted. Possibly. He was probably aiming for affronted, but it was more like another disgruntled pout.
“I’ll have you know I’m a highly trained Special Forces captain. I have lots of stamina.”
Stephen looped an arm around Becker, and tugged until they started walking again.
“Tell you what. Let’s get you home, get a coffee or two, and if you’re still awake, you can show me just how much stamina you’ve got.”
Becker’s arms sneaked around him, and Stephen found himself engulfed in a stealth hug as they walked.
“I thought you didn’t want to hug me?” he asked, trying not to sound like he was laughing.
“Changed my mind.”
Stephen couldn’t think of a single reason to argue with that, and with the arm that was already around Becker, he hugged a little tighter as well.