Title: The Outsiders
Characters: Sarah, Becker
Pairing: Pre-ship Becker/Sarah
Spoilers: Set 3x03 immediately after 3x03
Summary: The aftermath of Helen’s attack is just as tough for the new team members...
Beta-ed by the awesome pair of fififolle and fredbassett
Becker had a headache, and it wasn’t just because he’d been in an explosion, was still breathing in too much smoke and had been punched in the face several times.
For a start, there was the fire brigade crawling all over the place, their presence making him increasingly tense. He understood that they had a job to do, but so did he. And it was damn hard to keep tight security at a top secret government facility when there were civilians inside it trying to prevent it from burning down. He’d been co-ordinating closely with the fire chief, insisting that two of his men accompany every crew inside. For their own safety, he’d claimed, reminding the chief that an attack had been the cause of all this. Which was completely true, he just chose not to mention that it was also a measure to prevent them from touching anything they weren’t supposed to. Not that there seemed to be much left to touch.
Helen’s clones were an obvious worry, as well. He had no idea how many she’d had with her, nor what they’d do now without her control. All he did know was that there were potentially armed and dangerous men still inside who needed dealing with. Fortunately, so far, all his teams had found were bodies. It appeared that, without her input, the clones hadn’t had the sense of self-preservation to escape when the building had started coming down around them.
Helen herself clearly had though. As soon as he’d realised what had happened, Becker had posted soldiers at every possible exit, intending to apprehend her. Or shoot her on sight and have done with it. Even so, she must have managed to slip past them, and that was yet another cause for concern. She’d already murdered one person. He certainly didn’t like the notion that a killer with a potential score to settle was on the loose.
He tried not to think about Cutter too much, that issue giving him the biggest headache of all. He hadn’t known the other man that well, nor had the professor really made an effort to be liked. But he’d been a decent enough bloke and he certainly hadn’t deserved what she’d done. Becker wished that he’d been paying better attention. That he hadn’t been so distracted with organising his men and trying to check that everyone had got out. He could have stopped Cutter going back in. He should have realised that it was something the other man might do. The professor had been described to him as a maverick. Becker had known a solider with that kind of reputation once. He’d ended up dead before his time too.
Part of Becker desperately needed a break, just two minutes to clear his head, but he dismissed the idea in an instant, knowing he still had too much to do. And so he made his way back across the car park with grim resolve, trying to listen to the reports coming in on his earpiece whilst at the same time keeping a close eye on what was going on around him – was everyone staying clear and safe, was everyone getting treated, was the area secure, were there any threats...?
He didn’t even notice Sarah until she directly accosted him, stepping right into his path.
“What can I do?” she asked with a clear determination to make herself useful.
This was admirable he supposed, but she was an historian. Not exactly the skill set he was looking for right now.
He shook his head, side stepping her, not wanting to get waylaid.
“Nothing. Go home.”
She looked distinctly wounded at the dismissal, but he didn’t have the time or the patience to play nice right now and so he continued on without a word of apology.
The madness finally died down about an hour later. The explosions in the ARC had stopped and the fire was under control. Apparently they’d have it completely out soon, and then it would be a matter of clearing the smoke and getting professionals in to assess the damage. Lester was already on the phone, liaising with the fire chief and the Minister, wanting to get a structural survey done on the building as soon as possible. Anomalies wouldn’t stop just because they were out of action. They needed to get back up and running without delay or God only knew what else might happen.
For his part, Becker was feeling a bit more at ease, especially now he was certain that everyone was accounted for. Out of their people there’d been few casualties, none very serious, and only one fatality. It could have been a lot worse.
Realising that he at last had nothing needing his immediate attention, he sat down on a low wall, letting out a long breath which almost sounded like relief. He still needed a moment to sort himself out and it was an indulgence he could finally afford now.
Corporal Brown came up almost immediately, placing a package of water bottles on the floor next to him. The youngest and greenest of the unit, and with a face like a twelve year old, the poor lad got the piss ripped out of him something chronic. He’d done well today, though. Becker would have to remember to put that in his report. Not that the paperwork even bore thinking about right now.
Brown smiled reassuringly at the captain, tossing one of the water bottles at Becker who caught it and nodded in gratitude.
“Make sure those get passed around,” he ordered. They were all tired and the heat from the blaze hadn’t helped. They were going to be here for hours yet and needed some refreshment to keep going.
Brown nodded, took as many as he was able to carry, and strode off to hand them out to his colleagues.
Becker looked around once more, taking stock as he poured some of the water down his throat, which he hadn’t realised had become very dry and sore. Most of the ARC’s employees had gone now, a few in ambulances but he’d been reassured that was simply a precaution for those who had taken blows to the head. Lester remained of course, storming around angrily, trying to get things back under his control again as he barked orders and demands down his phone. Becker could understand his frustrations and the need to return things to normal as soon as possible.
This wasn’t supposed to have been able to happen. He liked to think that it wouldn’t have if he’d been at the ARC at the time, but he wasn’t so sure. Even with the tightest security, they hadn’t been prepared for something like this. But, then again, how could they have been? They’d never covered ‘attack by clones’ in basic training. This job really was daily redefining the boundaries of his expectations. He still wasn’t sure whether he liked the uncertainty or not.
Of the others, Connor and Abby were nowhere to be seen. They’d both been understandably upset and he guessed that they’d left together.
Jenny had gone with Cutter’s body. Apparently he had no next of kin and Becker got the impression that she was the one closest to the professor. Becker felt for her. He’d grown to like her, and she was probably going to take this hardest of all.
He frowned a little when he realised that one person was still here; Sarah was at the first aid station they’d set up on the other side of the car park, currently cleaning an arm wound on one member of the science staff.
He’d been too abrupt with her earlier, he berated himself. She’d only wanted to help and obviously was quite capable of doing so. He should’ve thought about asking her to assist with something like basic first aid rather than dismissing her out of hand. She’d just caught him at a bad moment.
He stood, picking up another water bottle as a peace offering. It wasn’t much but still...
She was just finishing reassuring her patient as he arrived, telling the young man that the cut wasn’t deep and that he’d be fine, her smile warm and kind despite the circumstance. She seemed to bristle a little when she saw Becker though, only noticing him as the other man got up to leave.
She was obviously angry at him. Becker somehow imagined that she was the type with a wild temper if provoked, but he had no intention of letting this turn into an argument.
“Here,” he said, holding out the water bottle, before she had a chance to lay into him, hoping to diffuse the situation.
He had some success. She took it with gratitude, but her nod of thanks was still tight.
“I thought I’d told you to go home,” he pointed out, a gentle suggestion this time rather than an order. She’d done more than her part now. She could certainly go without feeling guilty about it.
“And do what?” she responded tautly, either not getting his tone or ignoring it in favour of airing her frustrations. “Have a shower, watch some TV, forget today happened...?”
She had a point and one he hadn’t really considered until now. He’d been so busy since the explosion that he hadn’t even given himself time to really contemplate everything. He’d preferred it that way. He couldn’t blame others for wanting the same escape, for needing something to keep them occupied.
She pinched the bridge of her nose, looking down for a moment as though trying to gather her emotions back together. Then she sighed deeply, almost like letting something go.
“You’re bleeding,” she stated simply when she looked back up, nodding at his face.
He subconsciously ran his thumb over the cut at the corner of his mouth.
“It’s all right.”
“Sit down,” she insisted, “let me sort it out.”
He hesitated just for a moment before he did as she asked. He understood why she made the offer, a white flag of her own, and deep down he was more than happy to accept it. He’d never admit it, but it was nice to have someone looking out for him for a few minutes.
She worked slowly and deliberately, wiping the blood away whilst careful not to re-open the split on his lip. Her touch was gentle. Tender almost. He found himself beginning to like it a little too much and he was glad for the distraction of pain, wincing when her fingers ran lower across his jaw. She hesitated, frowning in concern.
“Just bruised,” he reassured. “Got punched.”
She nodded with a small sympathetic smile.
“And I thought you were supposed to be saving the day single handed, Action Man,” she teased gently. “One little punch and you’re wincing like a girl.”
He said nothing, too busy trying not to look at her because, if he did, he found it increasingly hard to not notice how stunning she was. Which he knew was pretty inappropriate given the circumstances. It was hardly the time or place. He certainly didn’t need the complication either.
Okay, so he’d thought she was gorgeous ever since he’d first laid eyes on her in the museum, but it had only been a peripheral thought up until now. She was indeed a beautiful woman but he was far too much of a professional to let something like that get in the way of his job. Especially his new job where he was trying to impress and had dozens of way more important things to hold his attention. But with all that had happened, with him being so exhausted and drained, with her so close and his attention entirely focused in her direction... well, it was suddenly a lot more difficult to ignore her undoubted charms.
He liked her, he realised that much. She was generally sweet, enthusiastic, intelligent and kind. But he couldn’t pretend that he actually knew her that well. If he did, for a start, he’d have been able to figure out from the all too serious expression on her face what she was thinking right now.
He didn’t like feeling so clueless. He was used to being in control.
“You okay?” he asked quietly, looking for enlightenment, trying to be concerned without it coming across as patronising.
“Yeah...” she said distractedly, as she finished with his cut, throwing the cleaning pad away and pulling off the latex gloves she’d been wearing. “Not a scratch on me.”
“I meant about Cutter and everything.”
She was silent for a long moment, leaning back against the edge of the fold-out table, sipping at the water in order to give herself chance to consider her answer.
“I didn’t really know him that well,” she eventually settled on.
“No,” he said with a nod of agreement. That feeling he could understand all too well.
They were still both relatively new to all this, finding their feet, getting to know their colleagues. Some of the others had been working together for over a year, maybe even longer. They’d become a family of sorts. It was going to be hard for them in a way that he and Sarah would never quite understand.
Cutter had only really been a colleague to both of them, and perhaps they weren’t as affected by his death as those closest to him, but he could have become a friend, given time. Becker suddenly felt an odd guilt that he hadn’t taken the time to get to know the man better.
Along with the deeper realisation that this was more than another job.
“He was...nice,” Sarah said quietly, after a moment. “He just wanted to help.”
Becker smiled a little.
“I always got the impression that he was more in it for the scientific excitement...”
Sarah smiled too, fondness warming her features.
“I mean ‘help’, in an obsessive scientist kind of way...”
They both grinned in unison before it faded, the weight of the situation seeming to fall upon them once more.
Cutter was dead. That’s where his obsession had got him.
“Come on,” Becker insisted, standing up, getting back to business. He was a man of action after all. “You’ve done all you can here. I’ll drive you home.”
“Haven’t you got more important things you should be doing?” she asked softly with a teasing smile.
She looked at him curiously but apparently didn’t have the guts to say anything about it.
That surprised him a little because, from what he could see, Sarah Page was a gutsy woman.
He didn’t know her any better than he had Cutter or the others and he really should make more of an effort to change that, especially as far as Sarah was concerned.
He liked her. And he’d wasted the opportunity to get to know one person better. Something inside told him it’d be somehow even worse to let her slip by. That it was something worth exploring further, even if he was slightly unsettled by the prospect.
After all, deep down he knew there was a danger that he might start to like her more than he probably should.
‘But’, another voice argued, ‘us outsiders should stick together...’