Very, very late happy birthday to celeste9.
Title: Making An Impression
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 2785
Summary: Lester hopes to make a good impression at an important formal dinner. So, of course, all hell breaks loose.
AN: Very late birthday fic for celeste9. Sorry about the lateness, the bunnies have been spectacularly uncooperative the last few months. Also, it's marked as slash due to the pairing, but to be honest it's mostly gen.
Lester was manfully resisting the urge to check his watch again when Becker finally arrived.
“About bloody time,” he muttered.
Despite his irritation, he knew it wasn’t actually Becker’s fault, and that he had actually done pretty well to get here as fast as he had, considering the inconveniently late anomaly that afternoon. But this wasn’t any old party. This was a formal dinner at Audley Hall, the ancestral home of Sir William Harold, and they would be mingling with everyone who was anyone in society, from successful businessmen and select politicians, right through to minor aristocracy. Quite honestly, Lester had been surprised that he was even invited at all, which made it even more important that he create a good impression. He, and his extremely late and fresh from an anomaly partner.
He was fussing with his pocket handkerchief as Becker ran up the wide stone stairs at the front entrance of the house.
“Sorry I’m late. Were you waiting long?”
Lester finally looked up, and a sarcastic remark died on his lips. Oh, dear god.
Becker was wearing a tuxedo, all crisp black lines, and a pristine white shirt, and even the sodding bowtie was as perfect as his hair. Lester hadn’t even known Becker owned a tuxedo. The only slight blemish was a small cut high on his cheek, and the rather larger bruise that was forming around it.
He must have stared in stunned silence for a little too long, because Becker’s brow creased into a worried expression.
“What’s wrong? Do I look okay? I haven’t worn this for ages, I wasn’t even sure it would still fit properly.”
Okay? He looked better than okay. Quite frankly, if they weren’t already late for an exceedingly prestigious formal dinner, Lester would have been hard pressed to resist the temptation to drag him into the nearest available empty room and shag him senseless, possibly whilst still wearing as much of the tux as possible. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t on the cards.
He took a moment to pull himself together, and cast another look over Becker.
“You’ll do, I suppose.”
Becker’s raised eyebrow suggested he had seen straight through that remark, and the corners of his mouth began to tug into a smirk.
“Well, we can’t all be as gorgeous as you in evening wear,” he commented, making a brief show of looking Lester up and down as well.
“I imagine not. We’d better go in.” He started up the rest of the stairway, letting Becker follow a step behind. “And Becker, please try to remember where we are. We need to make a good impression. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that there are several people here tonight whose support, or for that matter animosity, could have a direct impact on the ARC.”
“James, I’m hurt!” Becker said, although the fact that he was still smirking gave the lie to his words. “Besides, Sandhurst educated, remember? I know how to behave at formal dinners.”
Lester threw him a look.
“Yes, and given what I know about the military, it’s precisely that sort of behaviour that has me worried.”
Becker’s smirk just got bigger, which did nothing to reassure Lester in the slightest. On the plus side, perhaps with him looking like that, he could just deploy Becker to be charming at the ladies, and they might be suitably distracted from any social faux pas.
They had made it as far as the main course when Lester felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He was tempted to ignore it, but a moment later he noticed Becker surreptitiously going for his phone as well, and that could only mean one thing.
Lester checked the display on the screen and it was indeed the ARC. He gave a quick apology to the people sitting around him and excused himself, heading quickly into the corridor outside the dining room. As he answered the call, he was aware of Becker a few steps behind doing the same thing.
“This had better be nothing less than a T-Rex somewhere incredibly public,” he snapped.
“Sorry to disturb you, Mr Lester.” It was the young man who did Jess’s job when she wasn’t there. Lester thought his name was John, but really, in contrast with Jess he was barely noticeable. “Um, we have an anomaly alert, and well, there might be a problem.”
“Well, people have been talking about you going to this fancy dinner tonight, and someone mentioned it was at Audley Hall.”
Lester abruptly had a horrible feeling he knew where this was going.
“Um, have you seen anything suspicious, because the ADD puts the anomaly somewhere in Audley Hall.”
Lester briefly closed his eyes. Was one night off too much to ask?
“Can you be a little more specific than, ‘somewhere’, John?”
“It looks from the plan like it might be in the main entrance hall. There’s a team on the way already, but we thought you should know if you’re already on the scene.”
“Yes, thank you.”
He glanced across at Becker, who was unconsciously pacing as he listened to his phone, occasionally asking questions. Lester rather hoped that whoever he was speaking to might have more useful information than the man who wasn’t Jess.
He didn’t get chance to find out, because that was when he heard the first scream.
Becker’s head snapped up at the sound, and he stopped pacing in mid stride. The shout sounded like it had come from the other end of the long corridor they were standing in. He knew the entrance hall was down that way but he hadn’t had chance to take in much of the layout on the way in because they had already been running late.
“Jones. Get here ASAP.”
He ended the call to his second in command and shoved his phone in his pocket. Then he turned to Lester.
“I’m going to take a look.”
“And what makes you think that I’m going to let you go running off into danger by yourself, unarmed, when we both know there is a team already on the way?”
Becker silently quelled the urge to shout at Lester.
“Because they’re at least twenty minutes away, and we’re here right now.”
Lester started off down the corridor, and it took Becker a moment to catch up and grab his arm.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“You thought I was going to let you do it alone?” Lester’s eyebrows conveyed almost as much disdain as his voice.
Becker hesitated for a second. He wasn’t entirely sure whether to be surprised, annoyed, or touched by Lester’s reluctance to let him go off and do his job. But there wasn’t time to argue, and no matter how tough his lover undoubtedly was, there was no way Becker intended to let him anywhere near an anomaly incursion. The only issue was how to achieve that without damaging Lester’s pride.
“James, listen to me. There’s a room full of frightened people in there and the last thing we need is any of them running around getting in the way, and getting themselves killed. I need to know that there’s someone with a brain in charge of keeping them safe.”
Lester looked like he was going to argue, so Becker leaned down and put his hands on Lester’s shoulders and looked him in the eye.
As if on cue, the dining room doors opened, and one of the serving staff stepped cautiously into the corridor, giving the two of them a rather accusatory glare. Behind him, several of the dinner guests were also staring at them, with expressions ranging from the curious to the annoyed.
Lester ignored their audience and held Becker’s gaze for a second longer.
“Be careful,” he said quietly.
Then Lester turned back to the dining room and as Becker ran off down the corridor he heard the familiar sound of Lester taking charge.
Becker paused at the open doorway and peeked round the corner into the entrance hall. It was a large open space with a wide, ostentatious staircase to the first floor dominating most of the room. The anomaly had appeared right on the bottom step of the staircase, and was hanging there, rotating serenely like an oversized chandelier.
Another scream drew Becker’s attention to a second door on the opposite side of the room, and he cursed under his breath.
Raptors. God, he hated bloody raptors. And these bastards were even bigger than the ones they had met before. He could see three dinosaurs gathered around a closed door, and one of the creatures was pushing at the door, rattling it hard. It gave a particularly hard shove and the door opened a little, only to be slammed shut again a second later, the slam accompanied by another terrified shriek.
Bugger, he needed a weapon. If he had a gun he reckoned he could take at least two of them out before they closed the distance, all three if he was having a good day. But the guns were all still en-route with the team, and Becker knew he couldn’t wait. He had to draw their attention away from the civilian before the raptors succeeded in getting through that door.
Aside from a suit of armour in one corner, and a large oak table with what was probably the visitor’s book off to one side, there was very little furniture in the hall, and that didn’t give him a lot to work with.
Then he looked back into the corridor, and his gaze fell on an ornamental display of medieval weaponry. Replicas, undoubtedly, but bloody good replicas. Becker glanced back at the raptors, judged their size, and then chose his weapons. As he hefted the kite shield in his left hand and the broadsword in his right hand, Becker had a momentary flashback to playing at being King Arthur when he was little.
Time to save the damsel in distress.
He closed the door to the corridor behind him to prevent the raptors getting past him to the other guests, and then advanced carefully into the entrance hall. The raptors hadn’t noticed him, so Becker braced himself, and gave a loud, piercing whistle.
Three reptilian heads snapped round and Becker gripped the sword tighter. The two larger raptors immediately broke away from the door and came towards him. Becker knew they were supposed to be intelligent, he had listened to enough lectures from Connor, but he knew immediately that he had already made an error. The two raptors didn’t come straight at him; they fanned out, one going right the other left, so they circled towards him from opposite directions. Becker’s gaze flickered from one to the other. He backed up a little towards the closed door so they couldn’t get behind him, and swung the sword in a wide twirling arc. He hoped the display might make him look bigger, and more threatening.
The one on the right ducked low and hissed at him, swiping the air with its clawed hands but keeping well out of range of the sword. Then the one on the left leapt.
Becker ducked and let the shield take the full force of the impact. He staggered back a couple of steps under the weight, the shield nearly ripped out of his hand. Claws appeared round the edges of the shield, and the raptor’s head snapped at him over the top. Becker used both hands to shove the shield as far away as possible, and then smacked the raptor in the face with the pommel of his sword. It shrieked and backed off, taking the shield with it until the heavy weight clattered to the floor.
Movement on his other side alerted Becker, and he twisted to meet the second attack. The sword swung wide and caught a glancing blow across the raptor’s chest. Momentum carried the creature forwards and Becker barely lunged backwards out of the way. He swung the sword again and this time slashed down onto the raptor’s shoulder. The impact was solid, but it barely seemed to break the skin. Nevertheless, the raptor yelped and backed off, limping a little.
Becker regrouped, caught his breath, and swung the sword in a figure eight in front of himself in an attempt to intimidate and keep the raptors back. They raptors were more hesitant now, hissing at him, but not coming close.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Becker realised the sword was almost certainly blunted. It was a display item, after all. It probably broke several health and safety laws to keep a sharpened sword mounted on the wall. It belatedly occurred to him that he ought to have gone for a bludgeoning weapon, like a mace. Even blunted, the sheer weight of a heavy lump of metal swung with force might have been enough to crack bones and cause concussion. A blunted sword just didn’t have enough weight behind it to do that sort of damage. Which meant he needed a new tactic.
The raptors looked like they were gearing up for another attack. The one with the limp was once again trying to move out wide so they could come at him from different directions. Becker had no intention of letting them outmanoeuvre him again.
He turned and ran. He could hear the raptors chasing him as he reached the large oak table and leapt onto it, slid across it and dropped down on the other side. Becker got one shoulder underneath the edge of the table and upended it onto its side and then braced himself behind his new shield. Too close to stop, the first raptor slammed headfirst into the table and collapsed. The one with the limp was a little slower, and managed to pull up before it hit the tabletop, so Becker grabbed the edge of the table a second time and this time tipped it over upside-down onto the two raptors.
While the one with the limp flailed to free itself, Becker lunged past it and went for the shield, still lying on the floor in the middle of the entrance hall. He looked up in time to see the third, smaller, raptor finally leave the door it had been guarding, and charge towards him. Becker planted himself a few feet from the anomaly, dropped the sword, and grabbed the shield with both hands. He waited until the very last second, and when the smaller raptor was almost on him, Becker neatly sidestepped and swung the shield like a huge unwieldy club. It slammed into the raptor hard enough to knock it off balance right into and through the anomaly.
Becker paused to catch his breath. Mistake.
A sound right behind him reminded him that at least one of the other two was still moving. He spun round, knowing he was off balance, knowing he was out of ideas.
The raptor dropped to the floor and stopped moving. Lester stood right behind it with a heavy spiked mace in his hands, and a rather satisfied expression on his face.
Becker was speechless.
Lester, of course, was not.
“What?” Lester queried, raising his eyebrow as he met Becker’s look. “You didn’t think I was going to let you have all the fun, did you?”
“That was...” Becker gestured at the unconscious raptor, and then rather self-consciously dropped the shield. “Thanks.”
“Yes, well.” Lester looked him up and down, and then reached out and straightened Becker’s jacket. “I have spent all evening thinking about getting you and this tux rather dishevelled. I refuse to let an overgrown lizard get there first.”
Becker felt himself grinning. That was quite funny, because he had been thinking the same thing about Lester’s tux all evening. So much so, that he couldn’t stop himself. Becker reached out and grabbed Lester’s shirt and dragged him closer so that he could kiss him, hard and demanding and with a promise of more later.
When he let go, Lester simply raised his eyebrows, and readjusted his shirt where Becker has grabbed it.
“Really, Becker, I appreciate it must be terribly difficult to keep your hands off me, but we do appear to have an audience.”
His gaze flickered upwards, and Becker looked up to see Sir William and a handful of the guests up on the first floor balcony. They were armed with hunting rifles, a shotgun, and several handguns, all trained on either the anomaly or the unconscious raptors. Typical. Now there were guns. Sir William threw him a salute, and Becker grinned and looked back at Lester.
“So, do you think we made a good impression?”
Lester just rolled his eyes.