Title: Not Exactly Shakespeare
Pairing/characters: Becker/Jess, Abby, Emily, Matt, Lester, Connor
Warnings: Incredibly bad mangling of The Bard
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 3345
Summary: When Becker forgets an important occasion, he realises it’s going to take more than a box of chocolates to make Jess forgive him.
AN: Written for clea2011 for completing all of the weekly drabble challenges on primeval100. Clea asked for Becker/Jess, and the prompt “I’m not giving in that easily.”
Becker had the first hint that something might be wrong when he woke up alone. Especially when he realised that the thing which had woken him was the front door closing. He glanced at the clock. 7.12AM. It was a bit early for Jess to be leaving for work. More to the point, they normally went into work together. Why hadn’t she waited? Why hadn’t she woken him?
He rolled out of bed and headed for the shower, mentally replaying the events of the previous evening.
There had been an anomaly that lasted most of the day, and he hadn’t returned to the ARC until late evening. Jess had already gone home, and he had been wired from adrenaline, and no small amount of fear, as his mind insisted on replaying the moment when one of his men had been thrown twenty feet by a very angry dinosaur. Jones had somehow managed to walk away with only concussion and a fractured arm, but for a few seconds Becker had been gripped by the certainty that yet again he had screwed up. Yet again, someone had been killed because he wasn’t good enough.
So when he got back to the ARC, Becker had shut himself in his office to write the report, ignoring the insistent voices in the corridor outside which all seemed to be discussing going out. And when the reports were done he still didn’t feel quite ready to go home to Jess and her bubbly conversation and well-meaning cuddles, so he went to the armoury and spent a while checking that his Mossberg was properly maintained. Just because Matt insisted on these ridiculous EMDs, there was no excuse to let the proper weapons become neglected. He wondered idly what that said about him, that gun maintenance did more to restore his equilibrium than spending time with his girlfriend. He also decided he should probably not mention that to Jess.
Jess had already gone to bed by the time he had got home. Becker had to admit he had been a little disappointed she hadn’t waited up. He was also faintly suspicious when she didn’t seem to stir when he slipped quietly into bed, and the way she had been turned on her side facing away from him. Jess never slept that way because she liked to cuddle too much.
He had meant to ask her this morning what was wrong, but then she had vanished. Becker was still confused when he wandered out of the shower and through the living room en-route to the coffee machine. That was when he noticed something on the coffee table. Becker went over for a closer look.
An unopened bottle of red wine and two empty glasses stood in the middle of the table. Propped against them was a small gift wrapped box and a card with his name on it. A card with a small, slightly nauseating, pattern of hearts on it.
A Valentine’s Day card.
Becker spent the entire drive to work wondering how to deal with the situation. It wasn’t as if he had completely forgotten about Valentine’s Day; he had a card and box of chocolates for Jess in his locker at work. It was simply that he had forgotten to take them home with him when he left the previous night. Rather more important was the little matter that he hadn’t actually bothered to go home at all until it was so late that Jess had apparently abandoned the possibility of a romantic evening, and gone to bed without him.
While the slightly more rational part of his brain tried to work out how to make it up to Jess, there was another, annoyingly insistent, part of his brain that had decided he was so completely and utterly doomed that he may as well just call the undertaker and give them his measurements right now, to save his friends the bother later.
He swung past his locker to collect the things for Jess, and then headed straight for the hub. He was in luck; Jess was alone at her station. Becker braced himself, and went over to face the music.
“Jess, I’m sorry. I’m an idiot.”
He hadn’t quite intended to blurt it out like that, but best to lead with an apology, right?
Jess deliberately finished what she was doing before she turned round and actually acknowledged him. That wasn’t good. Neither was the look on her face,
“So, did you forget, or could you just not be bothered to come home and spend the evening with me?”
“Um,” Becker hesitated, thrown by her unexpectedly direct challenge. “I sort of forgot. But only because it was a complete shit of an anomaly, and Jones was injured and I needed to deal with the paperwork for that, it’s always hard on the lads when one of them ends up in hospital like that.” He somewhat belatedly held out the card and wrapped box of chocolates. “I did have these for you yesterday, honest. It wasn’t as if I completely forgot.”
Jess was still studying him, her gaze far too cool.
“You know what, Becker? I understand all that. If you had called me last night and told me that, I would have been okay. Well, no I wouldn’t have been okay, but I would have understood. I wouldn’t have spent the entire evening sitting there like a lemon, waiting for you to come home.”
Oh, shit. Why hadn’t he called her?
“I’m sorry. I’m an idiot.”
“You’re also a liar.”
“What?” Becker had no idea what she was talking about.
“I have access to the security camera footage, you know. I know you didn’t spend all night in your office writing reports, or with your men. In fact, I know most of your men left as soon as they possibly could once you all got back from the anomaly. Maybe they actually wanted to spend time with their wives and girlfriends.”
“Do you know what really hurts, Becker?” Jess ignored him and carried on talking. “Ever since I arrived I’ve had to listen to everyone going on about what a great night they had last night. All the posh meals, or romantic nights in that everyone had. Do you know how... how humiliating it is to be sitting here, listening to all that, and knowing that on our very first Valentine’s Day as a couple, you would rather spend the evening with your gun than with me?”
Becker opened his mouth, and then closed it again. He knew he needed to say something, fast, but his mind was a complete blank. He wanted to tell her that it wasn’t like that at all. The problem was, it had been exactly like that.
Jess abruptly turned away from him and started working again, her attention very deliberately focussed on the screen in front of her.
Becker wavered for a moment, and then placed the card and present on the desk next to her.
“Thanks,” Jess said without even looking at it, or at him.
Becker tried to think of something to say to fix this, but he got as far as, “Um...” before he realised he was probably just going to make it worse. He turned and walked out of the hub, vaguely aware that Lester was glaring at him from behind the glass walls of his office.
“You’re an idiot,” Abby said as soon as she walked into his office.
Becker gave up trying to pretend he was actually working on the latest equipment requisition forms, and sat back in his chair as Abby leaned against his desk.
“Do you even care how upset Jess is about this?”
“Of course I care!” Becker shot back, shocked that Abby might even entertain the thought that he didn’t.
“So why aren’t you out there doing everything in your, admittedly small, emotional capability to apologise and make it better?”
Becker let that comment slide, mostly because he couldn’t think of a counter argument that was actually true.
“I already did. It didn’t work.”
“So is that it? You’re just going to give up?”
“Of course not. I’m not giving up that easily. I’m just... trying to decide what to do next.”
“Well if you want some advice, Becker, decide faster, because there’s a growing list of people in the ARC who want to punch you right now.”
Becker scrubbed a hand over his face. “Is that supposed to make me feel bad? Because honestly, I already feel pretty shit about the whole thing.”
“So stop hiding in here and go do something about it, you big numpty.”
Why was it always the tiniest women who were the scariest to deal with?
“Any helpful suggestions? Or are you only here to give me a kicking?”
Abby rolled her eyes. “Becker, if you don’t know how to make up with your own girlfriend you’re even more rubbish at this than I thought.”
“Thanks. That’s helpful,” Becker muttered.
Abby just gave him a disapproving look, and pushed off his desk.
“Seriously, Becker, whatever you decide to do, you should probably do it sooner rather than later. If nothing else, the longer you leave it, the longer the queue of people wanting to punch you gets.”
He really had no response to that.
By late afternoon Becker was getting desperate. His second attempt had involved coffee and an offer to take her out for dinner that evening. He had even tried what he hoped was a winning puppy eyes expression, since it seemed to work so well for Connor, and if Connor could get a girl then surely the rest of the male population should have no problem, right?
Jess had not been impressed.
This probably hadn’t been helped by the fact that two tables behind them in the break room, Connor was loudly telling Matt about the restaurant he had taken Abby to the previous evening. Becker had a suspicion he was doing it on purpose, and if it turned out that Connor was in this supposed queue of people, Becker was going to punch him right back. Although maybe not when Abby could see.
But that was largely beside the point, because Jess still wasn’t talking to him, and Becker was running out of ideas. Not that he’d had many ideas to start with. It occurred to him that he’d never actually been in this situation before. Normally, all he had to do was use his cutest smile, and rely on his natural good looks, and the fact that Jess was besotted with him usually did the rest of the hard work.
The realisation of just how monumentally useless he was at this relationship stuff just made him feel even worse, so he’d gone back to hiding in his office.
The door opened again, and this time it was Emily. Somewhat to Becker’s relief, she didn’t look anywhere near as pissed off with him as Abby had, but he suspected that he wasn’t going to like whatever she had to say.
“Abby implied that you might be open to suggestions as to how to make a proper apology to Jess.”
While Becker generally appreciated that fact that Emily didn’t beat around the bush, he felt that on some occasions a little beating might take the edge off her directness. And that sounded so wrong even in his head that he was never, ever going near that thought again.
“I already have made several apologies to Jess,” he felt the need to point out.
“And has she forgiven you?”
“In that case it was not an adequate apology, and you must try again.”
Becker considered the alternatives, and decided that getting Jess talking to him again outweighed the ignominy of having Emily give him romantic advice. Just. He sighed and leaned back in his chair.
“Fine. What do you suggest?”
“In my time, when a man wanted to win a lady’s affection he might write her a poem.”
“A what? Do I look like the sort of person who writes poetry?”
Emily gave him a rather withering stare. “And that is precisely the point. It would demonstrate that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and do something contrary to your nature for her benefit.”
Becker was still trying to work out if that was just a very long winded way of saying he was a selfish dick, when another thought occurred to him.
“I don’t have to read it out loud, do I? That would be embarrassing.”
“Again, that is the point. Considering how humiliated Jess has been feeling today, I think a little embarrassment on your part wouldn’t go amiss.”
“I think everybody in the ARC knowing I forgot about Valentine’s Day has already achieved that,” Becker muttered. He didn’t want to admit how petulant that sounded the moment he said it.
Emily stood up, and pinned him with a particularly worrying glare.
“Do you actually want to regain Jess’s affection?”
“Of course I do!”
“Then stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about Jess for a change!”
Under the wrath of Emily, Becker could only nod meekly.
“Excellent, I’m glad we’re in agreement.”
“Okay, but Emily, assuming I was considering it, what sort of poem should I write her?”
Emily threw her hands in the air and gave the ceiling a ‘give me strength’ look.
“Becker, if you even have to ask that I’m not sure you deserve to win Jess back. I have suggested a method, it’s up to you to do the rest. And before you even ask, no I will not help you write it.”
With that she walked out, leaving Becker revising his earlier assessment. It wasn’t just the tiny women who were scary.
“What are you doing lurking in the corridor?”
Wonderful. Just what he needed. Like this wasn’t difficult enough, without Matt leaning over his shoulder and watching.
“I’m not lurking,” Becker muttered.
Matt gave him the raised eyebrow look, which Becker attempted to ignore while he scoped out the hub. Jess was at her station, but Abby and Emily were loitering, apparently with intent to commit extreme gossip. Becker was pretty certain that Emily had seen him in the corridor as well, and he half suspected that she was loitering on purpose. He wouldn’t put it past her.
“I don’t think stalking is recommended as a technique for getting back together with pissed off girlfriends,” Matt said, sounding entirely too smug and amused.
Becker resisted the urge to ask Matt how he would know, given his epic lack of girlfriends, boyfriends, or, for that matter, relationships that didn’t involve indoor plants.
“What’s that?” Matt questioned.
Becker glanced down and realised Matt had spotted the crumpled, and increasingly damp and screwed up, piece of paper in his hand. That was the result of half an hour on the internet, followed by more than twice that trying to compose something that might possibly tread the fine line between showing Jess that he really was sorry, and not making him look like a complete twat.
Why weren’t Abby and Emily leaving? Why were they hanging around? Didn’t they have work to do?
“Mate, what the hell are you doing?” Matt said rather too loudly.
Oh, bollocks. The longer he waited the harder it was going to get. Just do it.
Ignoring Matt entirely, Becker strode purposefully into the hub and up to Jess’s station.
“Excuse me, ladies, I’d like to speak to Jess.”
All three of them turned to look at him, Jess’s surprise rapidly turning into annoyance.
“And what if I don’t want to speak to you?”
“Two minutes. Please, Jess, just two minutes. If you still don’t want to talk to me after two minutes, I’ll go away and leave you alone.” Damn, this had better work.
Jess watched him coolly for a moment, and then nodded.
“Fine. Two minutes.”
Abby and Emily had backed off a little, but Becker was certain they were still more than close enough to be within earshot. He was also pretty certain that Matt had followed him into the hub, and Lester was probably watching from his office. What was it Emily had said? A little embarrassment on his part wouldn’t go amiss? Well, here goes my reputation.
Becker dropped to one knee, and began reading out loud.
“Shall I compare thee to a Mossberg 590?
Thou are more beautiful, my Jess.
Thy curves are more lovely and feminine
See, how you have turned me into a mess!”
Somewhere behind him he could hear Matt sniggering, but Becker was only interested in Jess. And Jess looked... surprised.
“Your smile like the eye of heaven shines
Far brighter than the explosion from a 3 inch shell
No gun can compete with your shot through my heart
And thy stiletto heels are more deadly as well.”
He stopped, hardly daring to breathe. Becker was sure his face must be so bright red he could give Rudolf a run for his money, but right then he didn’t care.
Jess had a hand over her mouth and her eyes were wide.
“Becker,” she whispered.
“Jess, I really am sorry,” he said, his eyes never leaving her face. “And for the record, I would far rather spend the evening with you than with my guns. I promise.”
Jess managed to keep a straight face for approximately six more seconds, and then she finally gave in to the smile that Becker had been missing for the entire day.
“You really are an idiot,” she muttered, but the smile and the barely suppressed giggle said something entirely different.
“That does seem to be the general consensus,” Becker admitted.
He was starting to wonder if he could get up yet, because his knee was starting to hurt.
Jess carefully arranged her expression into something more serious.
“Well, since you put it like that, apology accepted.”
This time Becker was the one who couldn’t stop himself from smiling. He’d had no idea how relieved he was going to feel until he heard those words. He caught Emily’s eye over Jess’s shoulder, and Emily rolled her eyes but gave him a very discreet thumbs up. She had clearly been hanging around with Abby far too much.
“Yes, it’s all very romantic, but doesn’t anyone around here have any work to do?”
Wonderful. Even Lester was eavesdropping now.
There were vague murmurings of protest from the various onlookers, but they all began to amble away (far too slowly, and obviously hoping to hear something else interesting Becker suspected).
“So...” Becker realised he had no idea what to say now.
Jess made him squirm for another few moments before she giggled.
“You can get up now, if you want.”
“Oh, thank god for that.”
“You really wrote me a poem to say sorry?” Jess still sounded surprised. But good surprised, not horrified surprised, which he took to be a good sign.
“Well, I more sort of borrowed someone else’s poem, and retrofitted it for purpose.”
Shakespeare would no doubt be turning in his grave.
“It’s still quite sweet.”
Becker sincerely hoped that Matt had buggered off already and hadn’t heard that. He leaned against the edge of Jess’s station.
“So, I think I owe you a romantic meal or something tonight.”
“Not that I’m going to object, but you don’t have to keep apologising. I have forgiven you, you know.”
“I know. But I want to. Late Valentine’s Day thing.”
Jess hesitated a moment, and then stood up and kissed him.
“We can decide what we’re doing on the way home. But right now you should probably go, before Lester decides that you’re making the place look untidy.”
He decided not to point out that was pretty much Lester’s default opinion anyway.
Becker pushed off the desk and got three steps before Jess asked, “Becker? Do you really love me more than your shotgun?”
“Absolutely,” Becker said without hesitation. “One hundred percent.”
He got another three steps before he mentally amended that.
Okay, maybe 99%.
AN: If anyone is even remotely interested, here is Sonnet 18, by William Shakespeare, which Becker so horrendously mangled.