Danny swore as he started to slip, feet frantically trying to get a grip against the sides of the maintenance duct. He’d taken a wrong turning at the last junction, finding that this way led to a rather steep slope. Unfortunately, he hadn’t noticed until it was too late and when he was crawling along on his stomach it was difficult to stop himself when he began to slide on the smooth surface. The tenuous hold he had on the metal panel with his fingertips failed and he landed at the bottom of the duct seconds later, bruised and annoyed. The torch he was carrying had fallen first, meaning that it was now sticking into his ribs as he lay on it. His face was pressed against the grille at the bottom that lead out into the offices and the rest of him was wedged into the small space at angles that would make a contortionist wince, his feet still up on the slope. And that wasn’t his only problem.
As he was falling, Danny had grabbed onto whatever he could to slow himself down. Maybe that hadn’t been such a good idea, he thought, looking up at the bundle of cables that were now hanging loose. Occasionally, one would crackle and a spark flittered between them. It was the sparks that concerned him most; here he was, stuck in a metal tube, with sparking cables only feet above him. If one of those touched the side…
“Will someone please tell me what happened to the bloody lights?”
No, not one of his better ideas, he decided, realising that the world outside of the grille was pitch black. Time to get out. Lester only ever used that tone when someone was in for a bollocking and, while the shout had been at least a couple of rooms away, Danny had no intention of waiting around for Lester to find him.
Suddenly, a torch shone into the duct, right into his eyes and almost blinding him, before the grille was removed and a hand reached in to grab the back of his jacket collar. Another hand hooked under his armpit and pulled, ignoring his protests to be careful.
“Becker, I swear it was an accident!” he protested as he was dragged out of the duct head first. Becker deposited him in a heap on the ground and quickly put the grille back in place as Danny sat up and started to dust himself off.
Danny frowned, looking at Becker as though he’d lost it, until Becker put a hand on top of his head and shoved him roughly down behind the desk.
Becker kicked him to be quiet just as the door opened and, from under the desk, Danny saw a torch beam and, in it, shiny leather shoes walking toward them.
“Well? That man’s a menace. If he’s crawling around-”
“There was no one in here.”
He couldn’t see Lester’s face but he could almost hear the scowl in his tone. “I know I heard something.”
“The window was open,” Becker informed him calmly. “It must have slammed with the wind. I’ve closed it now.”
“So where the hell is Quinn? Find him.”
Here goes, he thought, just waiting for Becker to hand him over. He never did, though.
“Danny’s not here. He left about half an hour ago, something about his burglar alarm going off at home.”
“So nice of people to keep me informed,” Lester muttered, turning and storming out of the room but not before pausing to yell at Becker. “Get an electrician here and get the sodding power back on!”
Danny heaved a sigh of relief that Becker had covered for him, staying where he was behind the desk until he saw Lester’s torch light leave.
“Well, well, fancy that,” he said. “The good little soldier just lied to his boss.”
“Keep it up, Quinn, and I’ll let you fend for yourself next time.”
Okay, maybe now wasn’t the time to start teasing Becker. “Sorry. It really was an accident; I slipped and I grabbed the cables to stop myself falling,” he said, standing up.
Becker lifted the grille off again, looking up into the duct. “Nice one. You managed to short out the power throughout the entire ARC, by the way.”
“Shouldn’t the backups have come on by now?” he wondered. It seemed strange that the emergency generators hadn’t kicked in yet.
“They did, for about ten seconds. Then the gizmo that Connor was in the middle of fitting to the ADD when the power went off got a power surge when it all came back on and blew up, taking the emergency lights with it.” Becker smiled. “Abby and Sarah have already gone to run interference and give him time to get the offending item removed again, while I came to get you out of Lester’s line of fire.”
Danny smiled. “Thanks. I owe you one.”
As Lester thought he was already out of the building, Danny left quietly, making sure that no one saw him, before walking back in through the front doors as though just arriving.
“Hey, what happened to the lights?” he asked Lester as he passed by. Lester just glared at him.
Becker fell into step with him, looking amused. “You couldn’t just keep your mouth shut?”
Danny shrugged. “If I didn’t ask, it’d look suspicious.”
The power was restored two hours later, just in time for the shift to change and the night team to take over. Becker had agreed to escort the electricians around the ARC; someone had to stay with them for security purposes, he told Lester. It also meant that he could take them straight to the source of the problem whilst warning him that under no circumstances was he to tell Lester exactly what had happened. The man had looked uneasy at the prospect but agreed anyway, eyeing the various military personnel and weapons as Becker walked him back through the ARC toward the emergency generators.
“Looks like you had a rat in one of the wiring ducts,” the man told Lester when the building was once more illuminated. “Couple of the wires had been chewed right through.”
“And the back-ups?”
The electrician cast a sidelong glance at Becker before answering, “Power surge.”
Lester didn’t look particularly bothered about details, dismissing both Becker and the electricians.
Hanging around outside, listening in, Danny made a dash for it as the door opened again and Becker came out but he was too slow. Becker caught up with him seconds later.
“Oh no you don’t,” he said, taking hold of a handful of Danny’s shirt sleeve. “You’re not escaping that easily. You owe me, remember?”
“What do you want from me?” Danny asked, his bravado faltering slightly as he saw the smirk on Becker’s face.
Becker looked him up and down. “I want what every bloke wants after a stressful day at work,” he replied. “Get your coat and meet me in the car park in five minutes.”
“What for?” Danny asked, not moving. “Where are we going?”
Becker rolled his eyes. “The pub, Danny. You can buy me a pint or three.” He looked back at Danny, eyes shining mischievously. “Why? What did you think I meant?”
Hearing Becker’s words, Danny felt a wave of disappointment run through him. If he was being honest, he would have been quite happy to do whatever Becker had been suggesting. Not that going for a drink with him wouldn’t be nice, but he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t been hoping for something else.
His spirits lifted when Becker added, “You’d at least have to buy me dinner first.”
He wandered away, leaving Danny staring after him, trying to work out if Becker had just been teasing him.
Sitting in the pub, hours later, Danny downed the remains of his pint and blinked a couple of times to bring Becker back into focus. He frowned. He knew that the other man had drunk as least as much as he had, yet he still sat calmly, not looking any the worse for it. Then again, he never did. He never looked creased or rumpled, and he didn’t even want to get started on Becker’s hair. It never moved. The man could walk through a hurricane and still look immaculate. Whereas Danny was well aware that, half of the time, even if he put some effort into it, he still looked as though he’d just rolled out of bed.
Becker raised one perfect eyebrow. “What’s not?”
“You.” Impulsively, he reached over and ruffled his fingers through Becker’s hair, leaving it sticking up in all directions. He smiled. “Knew that’d look sexy,” he said, before clapping a hand over his mouth. Had he really just said that out loud?
Luckily, Becker didn’t appear to be getting ready to smack him one for saying it. Instead, he laughed.
“I think you’ve had enough to drink,” he said, draining the last mouthful from his own glass and standing up. “Come on; time to go home.”
As they walked out of the pub, heading for the taxi rank seeing as they’d both had over the legal driving limit, Danny caught Becker’s arm and stopped him. Becker hadn’t objected to his inadvertent advances earlier, had he? Maybe he hadn’t been joking back at the ARC… Now or never, he told himself.
Leaning closer, he curled a hand around the nape of Becker’s neck, smiling when he saw that the other man’s hair was still all over the place. Closing the gap he brushed a light kiss over Becker’s lips.
“Come back to my place.”
For a moment, Becker didn’t react, just stood there watching Danny’s face.
He was starting to get nervous now, wondering if this one stupid move had just cost him their friendship.
“What are the odds that you’ll wake up tomorrow, when you’re sober, and hate me for saying yes?”
Danny heaved a sigh of relief; he wasn’t being rejected. He found himself wanting to do some damage to whoever had put that doubt into the usually calm and confident Becker, though.
“I’m more likely to wake up in the morning and think I’m still dreaming,” he said. “’Cause no way would someone like you want a jaded ex-copper like me in real life.”
Becker smiled. “I hope your house is cleaner than your office,” he said as he flagged down a taxi and climbed in next to Danny.
“Becker, what makes you think you’re going to get the chance to notice? I have other plans for you tonight.”
The following morning, Danny opened his eyes, groaning as the light made his head pound. What had possessed him to drink so bloody much? He felt movement behind him and turned over to see a thoroughly ruffled-looking Becker asleep, his face pressed into the pillow, snoring. As he moved, Becker woke, blinking at him sleepily.
Becker yawned and settled in against Danny to go back to sleep and Danny thought that he could get used to waking up like this.
Then he looked at the clock.
“We’re going to be late,” he said, throwing off the bedcovers and jumping out of bed, dressing in the first things he found on the floor. A quick trip to the bathroom and he looked almost respectable. “I’ll call a taxi while you’re getting ready. We can have breakfast at the ARC.” He paused, grinning at Becker. “My treat, since I never got around to buying you dinner,” he teased, reminding Becker of his remark the previous day.
Forty five minutes later, Danny paid the taxi driver- his car was already here and Becker’s had been left in the pub car park- and hurried into the ARC. Connor glanced up frowned before nudging Abby, who in turn whispered something to Sarah. All three of them shared a smirk.
“Becker?” Abby approached them, the smirk still on her face. “Are you wearing Danny’s shirt?”
Becker glanced down at the red and white checked shirt as though only now remembering that he’d borrowed it. His cheeks pinked and he made a beeline for his office, muttering something about having paperwork to finish, leaving Danny to the trio’s scrutiny.
“Aww, did you see that? He went all red.” Sarah looked across at Danny. “So last night, you and Becker…”
Danny just smiled. “Nice try, but I don’t kiss and tell.” Ignoring their protests, he wandered off, following Becker.
“Are you planning to hide in here all day?” he asked, letting himself into Becker’s office a few minutes later and putting a mug of tea and a plate with a warm croissant on the end of his desk.
Becker took it gratefully. “No. Just until they get bored and find someone else to tease.”
“’Could be here for a while, then,” Danny told him, eating his own breakfast. He thought for a minute. “You know, something occurred to me; I slept with you and I don’t even know your name.”
“Yes you do, it’s Becker.”
Danny smiled. “No, your first name. Come on, tell me…”
“’Bugger Off Becker’- that’s a weird name. You realise that I’m not going to give up, don’t you? I’ll just follow you around and keep asking and asking and eventually, you’ll tell me when you don’t mean to, only I might not be the only one there that time. Of course, if you just told me now-”
Becker sighed. “Alright, but if I tell you will you promise not to tell that lot?” he said with a nod in the direction of the others out in the detector room.
Danny nodded eagerly. Of course he wouldn’t tell the others. He might possibly tease Becker with it if it was something embarrassing, but he wouldn’t tell the others. He frowned as Becker mumbled something too low for Danny to hear, and asked him to repeat it.
Becker sighed. “Hilary,” he said, louder this time. “Well, go on, have a good laugh and get it over with.”
He tried, really he did, but the snigger still escaped Danny’s lips before he could stop it and he immediately felt guilty when he saw the hurt look on Becker’s face. Getting up, he moved closer to Becker and leaned in, hands on the armrests of Becker’s chair.
“Sorry,” he said, leaning in for a kiss.
Becker’s eyed widened. “Danny, someone will see.”
“So? Not ashamed of me, are you?” Danny teased. “Let’s face it, they’ve already guessed that we spent last night shagging so it’s not likely to come as a shock to them if they see this.”
Becker still didn’t look convinced and so Danny backed away, shrugging his shoulders.
“Well, if you’re not going to entertain me, I might as well go. I think I noticed another blind-spot in the surveillance system yesterday and I reckon it can knock thirty seconds off my time getting into this place…”
He heard Becker move moments before he felt a hand on his arm, stopping him. Danny grinned; Becker was just too easy to bait. Wiping the grin off his face, he turned around. Becker still looked indecisive, but, with one final glance to the door to make sure no one was watching, he slid an arm around Danny’s waist and pulled him into a long kiss.
“Now will you please stay out of the maintenance ducts?” Becker asked, pulling back slightly.
Danny smiled. “I don’t know. I might need a bit more convincing than that…” He saw the annoyed expression on Becker’s face and rolled his eyes. “Yes, I promise to be good. Relax, Hilary, I won’t piss Lester off again.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Sorry, Soldier Boy.”
Danny laughed. “Well what am I allowed to call you? Can I call you Hils? How about Babe? Or Sweetie?”
“I’ll agree to Hils as long as you never mention those last two again.”
Leaning in, Danny gave him another kiss. “Deal. So, your place tonight?” he asked, seeing Becker’s nod, and wandered out of Becker’s office, still smiling.
This was going to be fun.