Three years duty in war zones had taught him everything he needed to know about jury-rigged bombs. He'd felt the tripwire catch on the lacing of his boot, heard the distinctive zip of steel aircraft cable paying out through a pulley, caught a glimpse of something falling in his peripheral vision, and dove to catch whatever it was. The shock of impact radiated fiery pain through is still healing leg as his knee hit the floor. The surge of adrenaline as he realized his peril brought everything into sharp focus and he was deeply grateful that Jess had been left behind safe and sound in the car.
He was weighing his options when he heard the distinctive click of Jess heels create a counterpoint to the the metronome. Gratitude and fear warred for a moment as he realized that he could never have handled the bomb alone anyways.
"Jess, Jess! Don't shoot, it's me." He pleaded. "Don't move,this place is rigged with traps."
She took a couple hesitant steps into the room. "Where's Ethan?" she asked.
"Not here," Becker reassured her, "but I think he's left us a little gift. There's a pressure pad under my left foot. It's attached to that metronome. And I think that's a bomb," he nodded in the direction of the canvas covered heap. "I need you," he paused, struck blind by the irony of finally being able to say that to her aloud. "to come over here and tell me if I'm right."
If they didn't make it out alive, she might never know that he'd meant it in every possible way. He needed her. Heaven's above he was terrified of how much he wanted and needed her.
"Oh god!" she gasped as the canvas slid off the cobbled together heap of gas cylinder and machine parts. He turned away hastily to hide the anxiety in his expression. He'd swore not to get involved with a colleague for fear that his emotions would get in the way. He'd taken the loss of his teammates personally before, but this was different; he should never have brought her with him. What had he been thinking? He shouldn't have let his desire to stay in her company cloud his judgement.
"You need to get out of here, NOW," he commanded firmly, hoping she'd follow orders as easily as his men did.
"I'm not leaving you," she replied with hesitation, then more firmly.
Jess did excellently in tense situations during missions, but that was from behind the safety of the ADD console at the ARC. He tried to reassure himself by remembering how well she'd handled the recent inadvertent lockdown caused by Connor's computer maintenance routine.
Becker cursed roundly. "He KNEW we were watching him! You need to leave, now," he urged again, terrified beyond words of having to share his death with someone who should never have been there in the first place.
Jess regained her composure, "Becker you tell me what to do. You can tell me. Come on."
So be it, he thought with resignation. Holy Father in Heaven above, please protect her. "The lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?..."
His voice might have wavered a bit as he shouted commands to the arriving SF company, but he covered it with a tone of irritation. And if any of the men heard the underlying unsteadiness, he expected they'd chalk it up to adrenaline, pain from the still healing bite wound on his thigh, frustration at having missed Ethan yet again. Any of those assumptions were at least partly true. Frankly Becker didn't care a whit what assumptions they made so long as none of them saw the reality.
Jess knelt shaking just a few feet away and all he wanted to do was return to her. In that brief moment when they'd embraced each other, everything had become clear: this attraction had the potential to be deadly beyond his wildest nightmares.
"It is an interesting law of romance that a truly strong woman will chose a strong man who disagrees with her over a weak one who goes along. Strength demands intelligence, intelligence demands stimulation, and weakness is boring. It is better to find a partner you can contend with for a lifetime than one who accommodates you because he doesn't really care."