Title: All the Trimmings
Spoilers: set between 3.5 and 3.8, with implied mention of non-Denial-friendly events prior to that point.
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 5600
Summary: Becker has an idea for how to avoid another lonely Christmas.
AN: Secret Santa for sallycandace who wanted something ‘utterly fluffy’ with Connor and Becker, with the optional extra of Danny with mistletoe. I’m afraid I couldn’t get the mistletoe to fit, but Danny does make a brief cameo appearance.
AN2: In two parts because lj threw a wobbler when I tried to post it as one.
Becker strolled down the empty corridors of the ARC. It was quiet, deserted, and kind of eerie. But then, it was Christmas Eve. Pretty much everyone except for a skeleton staff had gone home already and wouldn’t be back for the next few days, unless there was an emergency anomaly, of course. Not Becker, though. He couldn’t remember the last time he had taken any holiday over Christmas. He had no one to go home to, no family to visit. The only thing waiting for him at Christmas was the TV, so wherever he was stationed he always volunteered for the Christmas duty. He told himself it was being charitable, that by volunteering himself he was allowing someone else to take the time off, perhaps someone who did have a family and who was getting the opportunity to spend more time with their children because of it. It felt better to think that than to admit the truth.
It wasn’t until he wandered into the Atrium that Becker discovered he wasn’t quite as alone in the ARC as he had thought. Tuneless whistling was coming from somewhere in the vicinity of the ADD, and Becker walked over to find Connor, or rather, Connor’s legs, sticking out from beneath it. Feeling curious, Becker crouched and peered under the machine. Connor was lying on his back, i-pod resting on his chest while his hands were occupied with a tangle of wires and circuit boards and blinking LEDs. There was an expression of deep concentration on Connor’s face, and Becker couldn’t help smiling a little. If there was such a thing as techno-geek heaven, Connor appeared to have found it.
Connor must have felt Becker’s eyes on him because he eventually looked up.
“I didn’t know anyone else was still here,” Becker replied.
Connor tugged the earphones out of his ears. “Taking the opportunity to do some work on the ADD while it’s quiet,” he said. “Lester gets jumpy if he thinks it’s offline for too long, so I was waiting until he’d gone.”
“And is it offline right now?” Becker asked, trying not to sound too worried.
Connor grinned. “Nope. That’s the best bit. I’ve isolated the part of the system that I’m working on and rerouted the signal through the backup so it’s still scanning for anomalies while I’m doing this. It’s easier not to try explaining that to Lester, though. He’ll just look sceptical and give me a ten minute lecture about the dangers of undetected anomalies.” Connor rolled his eyes and grinned again.
Becker couldn’t help smiling back. Connor’s enthusiasm was just too infectious.
“Are you in over Christmas then?” Connor asked.
“Yeah. Drew the short straw,” Becker replied, not quite willing to admit to Connor the real reason why he was in work over Christmas.
“Me too,” Connor said. He hesitated and then added, “Actually, I volunteered. Someone from the main team ought to be in, and everyone else seemed to have something they wanted to get home for.” He shrugged as if it didn’t matter, but Becker wondered if he detected a hint of bitterness in that comment.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. It suddenly occurred to Becker that this might the opportunity he had been waiting for. He had wanted to find an excuse to get to know Connor better for a long time, but it was always so difficult with Danny throwing those sly, knowing looks his way and making smutty comments every time he so much as looked at Connor. And with Sarah around, the ARC gossip network tended to go into overdrive if there was the merest whiff two people having a remotely personal conversation.
“I was just going to get a cup of coffee, do you want one?” Becker finally asked. As opening lines went it was about as crap and clichéd as you could get, but he had to start somewhere.
Connor looked surprised. So surprised that he didn’t actually answer the question, and just stared at Becker with his mouth slightly open. Becker tried not to stare at Connor’s mouth and cleared his throat.
“Oh! Um... yes. No. I mean, I’d love a coffee, but I really need to get this finished before I leave tonight. It can only run on the backup system for a couple hours, I have to have the main system back up and running by then.” Connor’s expression looked bewilderingly conflicted. “Sorry,” he added.
“That’s okay. I can bring you a cup down here, you can drink it while you work. I could keep you company a bit. If you wanted, that is,” Becker added hastily.
“Cool! That’d be great.” Connor grinned, although he still looked rather surprised by the offer.
“Right. One coffee coming up.” Becker stood up and headed out of the Atrium, wondering exactly why his ability to have a sensible conversation went straight out of the window every time he talked to Connor Temple.
The next couple of hours went remarkably well, Becker thought. He sat and talked to Connor, occasionally went to get coffee refills for them both, and mostly listened to Connor as he tended to keep up a running commentary of what he was doing to the ADD while he worked. Despite the fact that Becker only followed about half of what Connor was talking about, he was quite happy to let Connor ramble. It meant there was far less chance of putting his foot in it, and besides, he liked listening to Connor being happy and enthusiastic. There had been too little of that since Cutter died.
“Done,” Connor finally announced, and slid out from under the ADD. He sat down at the keyboard and put the finishing touches to whatever it was that he had just done, and then turned back to Becker looking extremely pleased with himself. Then he seemed to realise something, and gave Becker a slightly apologetic, self-deprecating look.
“Sorry. You must have been really bored listening to me ramble on like that.”
“No, not really,” Becker said, trying to sound nonchalant. “It’s not like I had anything better to do.” Oh, great. That probably made it sound like he was only spending time with Connor because there was nothing else more interesting to do, which really wasn’t what he had meant.
There was another awkward silence. Then Connor glanced at his watch.
“Um, I should probably head home soon,” he said, not looking thrilled at the prospect in the slightest.
Becker suddenly had an idea. Before he could think too hard and talk himself out of it, he asked, “You’re still at Lester’s flat, aren’t you?”
“Yes I... wait, how did you know that? No one’s supposed to know that.”
“I’m head of security, I make it my business to know everything,” Becker said with a knowing smile.
“Oh, right. Well, yeah, I am still there. But Lester’s gone to spend Christmas with his family and Abby’s with her brother so, you know...” he tailed off and shrugged again, finding something immensely interesting about the keyboard.
“So what are you doing for Christmas dinner?”
“Pizza probably. Well, I mean I’ll be here until three in the afternoon anyway, so there’s not much point doing anything fancy.”
“Come to mine for Christmas dinner.”
Connor stared at him looking utterly stunned, and then that conflicted expression returned for a moment. Then he pasted a half-hearted smile on his face.
“No, it’s okay. You probably have plans and stuff, and I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble. I’ll be fine. Besides, I’ve got the DVD player all to myself without Lester complaining.”
“Really, it’s no trouble,” Becker insisted. “I’ve got all the proper Christmas dinner this year and it’s as easy to cook for two as it is for one. In fact, I’d rather have some company, it seems silly to go all that effort just for myself. Really Connor, I’d like it if you came over. The alternative is we both spend Christmas alone, and I know which I’d prefer.”
He held his breath, waiting for Connor’s response. Suddenly Connor’s face lit up with that smile that had been absent so much lately.
“Really? That’d be cool, thanks Becker.”
“Great,” Becker smiled back. “We can go straight to mine after work tomorrow. If we leave here on time we can probably be eating by around six.”
“Brilliant.” Connor paused for a moment. “Should I bring anything? Food, or drink or something?”
“You can bring a bottle of wine if you like, but otherwise I have everything already.” Becker had another thought. “Maybe you should bring a change of clothes. If we’ve both been drinking you shouldn’t go home. You can stay over. I have a spare room,” he added hastily. He hoped to god he hadn’t gone red while he was saying that last bit. If he had, Connor apparently hadn’t noticed.
“Okay,” Connor said, still smiling. “Right, well. See you tomorrow, then.”
Becker watched him leave, and then made one final sweep round the building to make sure everything was in order. He had a suspicious feeling that he had a stupid grin on his face all the way round, but for once he didn’t care. Maybe this Christmas wasn’t going to be just like any other after all.
Connor was in Tesco having a panic. The shop was ten minutes away from closing, and he was faced with an entire isle full of wine to choose from, and he had absolutely no clue what to pick. He wasn’t a wine-connoisseur at the best of times, and the last minute rush on Christmas Eve was hardly the best of times.
He looked around to see if there might be anyone who could help him choose, but all the staff looked harassed and pissed off, and all the other shoppers looked as if they were panic buying like the apocalypse was due.
Connor flipped his phone open and called Danny.
“Don’t tell me there’s an anomaly,” was Danny’s opening greeting. “I’ve just put my feet up and started my third can of beer.”
“No anomaly. But it is an emergency. Kind of. What wine are you supposed to have Christmas dinner?”
“Whatever wine you want. You’re the one who’s drinking it. Never had you for a fancy wine bloke, though.”
“I’m not, that’s the point. I don’t know what goes with anything, and I’m having Christmas dinner with Becker and I’m supposed to be bringing the wine only he didn’t say what type and I have no clue what to buy. Also, I need to pick something before the shop assistants try to bludgeon me to death with the last frozen turkey and hide my body until the New Year rush has died down.” Considering the way that the spotty teenage shelf-stacker was glaring at him, Connor thought it was a distinct possibility.
“You’re having Christmas dinner with Becker?” Danny said with unconcealed amusement.
“Yes.” Connor wasn’t sure why that was a) important, or b) funny.
“You kept that a bit hush-hush.”
“It was a last minute thing. Danny, wine!”
“Okay, okay,” Danny laughed. “It depends exactly what sort of dinner this is. I mean, if it’s just two mates having a meal and watching the footy then any old plonk will do. If it’s dinner and serious conversation and potentially interesting developments then you need a serious wine. If it’s all candlelit and romantic then that’s another matter entirely. Unless, of course, it’s dinner and no-strings-attached shagging, in which case you’re back to any old bottle as long as it gets you pissed.”
Connor spluttered incoherently down the phone, wasting at least another minute of shopping time, while Danny laughed.
“Sorry mate,” Danny eventually said. “Just winding you up a bit.”
“Right, I noticed,” Connor said, trying to sound annoyed and Lester-like, rather than utterly confused and panicking at the thought of several new mental images that he hadn’t expected while shopping in Tesco. “I’m pretty sure it’s just two mates having dinner,” he added, hoping that might bring them back to the increasingly more urgent matter at hand.
“Oh, just get a chardonnay then.”
“Right.” Connor scuttled along the shelves until he found what he was looking for. “Chardonnay, got it. Thanks Danny.”
“Have fun with Becker,” Danny said, still sounding far too amused. “And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
He hung up to the sound of Danny laughing again.
Connor was halfway to the checkout when it suddenly occurred to him that he ought to get Becker a Christmas present. He wheeled round and stared up at the signs above each isle, looking for inspiration. Chocolate was always a good fallback, but rather lacking originality. He had no idea what kind of films or music Becker liked. In fact, he had practically no idea what Becker liked, full stop. Except guns, and it was unlikely he’d be able to get one of those in Tesco on Christmas Eve. He legged it to the books isle and scanned the shelves until he spotted something that looked likely. A new Chris Ryan SAS military adventure novel ought to be right up Becker’s street. And if it wasn’t, he might have fun pulling apart all the factual inaccuracies, at least.
He finally made it out of the shop without meeting death by frozen turkey, and headed home, his mind going over what Danny had said. Sure, it was Danny, so the chances were he was just taking the piss, but at the same time Connor couldn’t help wondering if he knew something that had made him suggest those things in the first place. Becker wouldn’t be interested in him, would he? Sure, they worked well together, but Connor had always rather got the impression that Becker thought he was vaguely amusing rather than interesting or attractive.
No, Danny had been joking, that was all. Becker was just being friendly, he probably felt sorry for him because he was on his own at Christmas. They were just two mates spending Christmas Day together because it was better than spending it alone.
Now all he had to do was get rid of those mental images before tomorrow in case he did anything really embarrassing.