Title: Sweet Escape
Summary: It's a dangerous job and when things turn out for the worst even Becker sometimes needs a place to hide...
Beta read by fififolle
Becker’s men were a more intuitive bunch than most would have given them credit for. They knew when it was okay to laugh at something, when to take the piss and just how far they could go with a wind up. Conversely, they also knew when to be serious and when to shut the hell up and leave a topic alone.
Today was one of those days.
Silence reigned in the locker room as they stowed their field equipment away, no one looking at anyone else, a heaviness hanging in the air. They all understood the risks of this job. Some had paid the ultimate price already and no doubt there’d be more in the future. They also understood that each death affected everyone differently. That, whenever one of the team was lost, there’d always be someone who took it hardest, someone who’d considered that man a friend and a brother above all others and who’d lost more than the rest of them. When that mood was displayed by the captain himself, it seemed to bring them all down too.
Becker was grateful for their silence, certainly not wanting to talk about what had happened just yet, the sickening twist in his gut making him almost too afraid to open his mouth in case he lost his composure. And besides, what was there to say? He’d known Riley since Sandhurst. They’d played rugby together, had drunk together, lived together and had fought at each other’s side on countless occasions. And then a large stampeding dinosaur had burst through today’s anomaly and knocked him flying. The impact had broken his neck and Riley had been gone before he’d even hit the floor, a quick and completely unexpected death. There’d been nothing any of them could have done to stop it. A tragic accident, the medic had said, shaking his head. It’d just hit him the wrong way.
Becker sadly accepted that. Sometimes things just happened and there was no point blaming anyone for them, even himself.
Although in a way he wished he could, so that there’d been some kind of fault that he could rectify in future. Now all he was left with was a niggling fear about just how damn easy it would be for something similar to happen in the future. He liked to be in control and the uncertainty didn’t sit well with him, making him feel worse than he already did.
Leaving the solace of the locker room behind, Becker tried to just get on with the rest of his day, telling himself that he’d have time for grieving later, in private. But, it seemed, everyone expected him to do it now, in full public view.
“Sorry, mate,” said Connor quietly upon seeing him.
“Are you all alright?” asked Abby with soft sympathy.
“It’s never easy,” Danny reasoned sagely.
He didn’t believe they really knew just how good a friend Riley had been to him, so he guessed they must be picking up something in his demeanour or expression. Something that was telling them that this was worse than most. That it was personal.
He hated that. The exposure was too much. Even those he barely knew looked at him with pity or compassion. Few said anything, but their expressions were unmistakable.
He didn’t want it. Not from them. He didn’t want them to see him like this.
So, he did what he was normally so loathed to; he retreated.
Sarah’s lab was quiet and dim, the lights turned right down as she worked diligently on the artefact. She hadn’t come to seek him out on his return and he hadn’t expected her to. She at least knew that he preferred to sort things in his head at his own pace and that he’d find her when he needed her. Like he did right now, if only to give him some place to hide.
She looked up as he entered the room, immediately pushing her work aside in a silent signal when she saw who it was.
‘Come in’, it seemed to imply, ‘talk to me’.
“I heard,” she said simply. “I’m so sorry.”
Wordlessly he closed the door, shutting the rest of the ARC out, before walking around to her side of the table. He leant back against one of the high stools behind her, arms folded across his chest as he tried to decide what he wanted to say. Torn between a facade of weary strength and telling her that he felt like hell.
She swivelled to face him, frowning a little at what he could only imagine was the grimmest expression on his face.
“How are you?” she asked gently, when nothing was forthcoming.
‘Hurting,’ he said inside, but the words wouldn’t come out, stuck deep in his throat.
She seemed to sense it well enough though, a small, sad sigh escaping her lips as she hopped down from her seat and closed the gap between them. Her hands slid up his chest, her large dark eyes filled with sympathy as he stayed stock still, teetering between keeping strong and letting go.
Sometimes it was nice to not have to put on that strong front though.
Making a decision, he wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her tight against him. It felt good and, after a moment, he closed his eyes and pressed his face into her hair, wondering if he could get lost this way. Just breathing her in and trying to think about nothing else but her, concentrating on how her fingers gripped a little at the material of his tee shirt and her breath floated reassuringly across his arm.
He wasn’t a child, and he didn’t need comforting, but it helped.
After a while, Sarah pulled back, looking up at him.
“He was a good friend of yours, wasn’t he?” she said with sympathetic understanding.
“You’d known him a long time.”
“We joined up together,” he replied, trying hard not to remember a thing about that day. Of how he and Riley had bonded over winding up a particularly mouthy bastard from another company, assuring him that their own was going to be the best.
It seemed like more than one lifetime ago now.
Becker was so grateful for the timely distraction of Sarah’s gentle kiss, the soft caress of her lips giving him something else to focus on. He gave in to it, closing his eyes and slowly kissing her back.
It dulled the pain and yet somehow made it all the more obvious. Like he hadn’t really appreciated how awful he felt inside until she’d washed a little of it away, as though cleaning an open wound. It hurt, but he felt oddly better for it.
The relief was too intoxicating to ignore and, barely thinking, his hands slid lower. Cupping her backside, he pulled her hips closer, trying to concentrate solely on the familiar length of her body pressing against his and emptying his mind of all else. The gentle hand that had been running up and down his back hesitated, stilling completely as his lips began to trail the soft skin of her neck, just inviting her to sigh in delight. He wanted good memories now; their first date, first kiss, first time they’d slept together. He didn’t want any of the stabbing memories he’d shared with his friend. He wanted to hide.
Sarah’s voice brought him back.
“Alex...” she said softly, fingertips lightly caressing his cheek. It wasn’t in warning or a denial, more concern. Like she knew exactly what this was and why he was doing it and didn’t necessarily think it was healthy.
But he wasn’t ready to talk. He was ready to forget.
“Please,” he said quietly in return, mouth hot against her ear. “I need you.”
He felt her shiver hard. He’d never asked like that before, with almost raw desperation. Maybe it was that which made her surrender. Maybe it was the realisation that this was the only thing she could really do for him right now, just let him be with her. Either way, when she looked at him there was a mixture of passion and understanding in her eyes and she nodded just a little in affirmation before she closed the gap between them once more.
Her kiss remained tender and understanding, lips brushing gently against his again as though trying to reassure him that it would be okay. But he knew it wouldn’t, not unless he could just stop thinking for a while, and so his mouth moved more insistently, tongue pressing for entrance and gaining it after the slightest hesitation. She tasted of coffee and sugar and something that he’d learnt over time was just her.
There was a comfort in that. No matter what had happened, she was still here.
He had something.
Standing straight, he gripped her arms and pushed her back until she gently collided with the desk behind her. Her gasp of surprise was swallowed by his kiss once more.
He wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, to compliment her and tell her how much he cared for her, like he normally would. But to speak would somehow be to bring this back to reality and that was not a place he wanted to be right now, and so he remained silent.
So did she, making no protest at all as he lifted her, sitting her on the edge of the desk and parting her legs so he could stand between them. He pushed her skirt high up her thighs, concentrating on how gorgeous she was, on how much he adored her and how much her stunning body turned him on. Physical, emotional...whatever this was, it was a thousand times better than anything else he’d been feeling in the last few hours.
He softly moaned as her hands pushed up under his tee shirt, sweeping feather touches across his body. In response, his own hands pulled her ponytail loose so he could run his fingers down the length of her hair, before they slid further down, palming her breasts through the material of her jumper. He tried to conjure a vision of her naked and lying beneath him on his bed, using the image to burn all others from his mind. As his rocked his hips forward a little, her breathless groans seemed to grip at him deep inside. He felt a heady rush of pleasure as he pressed his groin even closer against her, feeling her writhe in anticipation as the evidence of his arousal became clear.
This was wrong, part of his mind protested. Having sex with his girlfriend on a desk in a not so private place really didn’t seem like an appropriate response to his friend’s death. But it felt better and so he didn’t care.
He continued to kiss her deeply as one hand slid up her thigh, skirting momentarily across the soft cotton of her underwear before his fingers slipped inside. Normally he’d have waited, have teased her more, built up the anticipation. Right now though, he just needed to get lost and fast. He could do that in her. He could be himself and not worry about anything or anyone else.
He knew her well enough by now to understand how she liked to be touched, and the pad of his thumb circled expertly over her flesh as he pushed a finger inside her.
Her hands gripped tightly at his arms in response, nails digging into his flesh with a small sting of pain. He welcomed it.
He focused his mind on her alone, resting his forehead against hers and watching the pleasured look on her face as his fingers continued to move. He intimately studied each hitch of her breath and gasp of delight which she desperately seemed to be trying to keep quiet in case someone should walk past and hear them. He fixed his mind on the way her body moved, on how she pushed down against his fingers, gloriously warm and wet.
It wasn’t enough. He still needed a more heady loss of self.
She seemed to read his mind, and his heart was hammering as her fingers worked at his trousers, pushing them down just enough for purpose. The shiver of pleasure he felt as her hand closed around him was almost violent, his hips jerking forward as she stroked him firmly. Under normal circumstances he would have let her continue, would have revelled in the way she slowly increased his pleasure with her hand and then her mouth. He didn’t have time for such luxuries now though. Oblivion couldn’t come soon enough.
Pulling her hands away, he hurriedly positioned himself and pushed inside her, taking it easy for the sake of her comfort, adoring the way her body yielded to his with easy familiarity. Her spine arched and her head lolled back a little and he couldn’t tell which groan was his and which was hers. He started slow, hands caressing her thighs and then up to run across the flat planes of her stomach as he tilted his hips, barely moving in her at all. Just enjoying the sensation of the moment. Of letting go and there being nothing else to concern himself with.
Her ankles wrapped around behind his thighs though, pulling him deeper, encouraging him on. As he began to move properly, her fingernails dug into his backside and her teeth nipped lightly at his neck, small keening noises drawn from her throat with each thrust. In return, he murmured her name over and over like a mantra, becoming increasingly lost in the woman who suddenly and thankfully seemed to drown out everything else. The feel and sound and taste of her was all he had and all he needed. He anchored himself by it, hands holding her hips, mouth kissing her desperately as he moved in a heated rhythm.
And, for a moment, he did forget, exactly as he wanted. There really was just her and nothing else mattered. He found himself caught between wanting it to last and the instinct that drove him to finish. His choice was stolen from him though when he felt her clench tight around him, his name tumbling breathlessly from her lips and her body arching and trembling as she held him tight.
When he came too, slumping forward, pushing them both down to lie across the desk, it felt like blissful peace.
It didn’t last long enough.
As his breath recovered, so did his mind and everything came flooding back to him at once, truly hitting him like a ton of bricks. As though he was just really contemplating it for the first time.
His friend was dead.
It hurt even worse than before.
His head lay across Sarah’s chest for a long moment, eyes squeezed tight shut, his weight pressing down on her as he failed to find the strength to stand up. He desperately tried to grab the feeling of oblivion back but it wouldn’t return. He had to face this whether he wanted to or not.
He almost winced when a hand stroked slowly up his back, curling into the short hair at the nape of his neck. She whispered to him gently, telling him it was all right, the way her body was wrapped so intimately around his seeming to take on a more innocent meaning.
He needed her but her tenderness stung like hell.
When she finally forced him to look at her, his eyes felt like they were burning and they were probably red-rimmed. She reached up and stroked gently through his hair. She didn’t pity him like the others though. She loved him and it pained her to see him upset.
Somehow, that made him feel a little better again. Around his men and with the others he’d felt isolated. Alone in his grief because he was supposed to be the one in charge and he needed to maintain some distance in order to keep that effective. And although Sarah couldn’t really share his grief with him, having not really known Riley at all, Becker felt more free to feel it in her presence.
There was definitely something about her and him. It just worked.
He finally stood up, pulling her carefully into a sitting position.
“Sorry,” he muttered quietly, a sudden guilt striking him.
She frowned. “What for?”
He shook his head, saying nothing as he fussed over smoothing her messy hair and pulled her skirt back down, making sure she was presentable before rearranging his own trousers. He felt like he’d used her just now. It didn’t seem right.
“That,” he reasoned eventually, hoping she understood.
She shook her head, biting her lip coyly, “Really no need to apologise.”
She’d obviously tried to draw a smile from him. It didn’t work.
“It’ll be okay,” she promised gently, turning serious once more. “You’ll be okay.”
She kissed him once and soft, sealing that declaration.
He knew he was lucky to have her.
And he was scared of it too. What if she’d been the unfortunate one at the anomaly today? Who else would he have turned to? It wasn’t good to rely on just one person so much.
The thought made his blood run cold and he mentally shook his head to push the notion away. He couldn’t live like that, certainly couldn’t do his job if he was thinking that way. Yeah, any of them could be killed tomorrow in this job. But they could also get hit crossing the street. All he could do was minimise the risks and make the most of the here and now.
Thinking about it, he was not sure Riley had ever done that. He’d always been the type to put things off until tomorrow. In some ways, that was the saddest part of all. It made Becker determined not to make the same mistakes.
“Come on,” Sarah said, jumping down from the desk. “Let’s go home.”
She held out her hand and Becker took it without a second thought, clinging on to her almost for dear life.
It was an act of weakness, but with her that always seemed okay.