Jess listened as the team swapped stories about the anomaly shout they’d just returned from, laughing over the stupid thing Connor had done. She could laugh along with them but it wasn’t the same; even though they included her, she hadn’t been there. She had been stuck behind a desk here while they were out chasing creatures, being the heroes and saving people. Sometimes, she wished that she could be with them, just to see what it was like.
Becker sank gratefully onto the seat, the pint of beer in his hand, just what he needed after a long day. He was really sick of those stupid creatures blundering about and causing chaos that he then had to clean up after. What he wouldn’t give for a nice desk job, something that didn’t involve chasing a herd of prehistoric whatever-they-weres along a busy shopping street on a Saturday while trying to ensure that no members of the pubic, drawn in by their idiotic curiosity, got themselves trampled in the process.
He saw Jess and Abby talking, Abby looking as shattered as he was, a complete contrast to Jess. It must be nice, he thought, to be able to sit there at the desk all day and just manage things from a distance.
After a couple more drinks, the team began to make their way home from the pub, knowing that they had another early day tomorrow.
Becker opened his eyes slowly, his head protesting as the light met his over-sensitive pupils. Had he really had that much to drink last night? He only remembered having couple of pints. None of this looked familiar, he thought, frowning as he looked around.
This was definitely not his house; no way was his bedroom this… pink. Cautiously, he glanced over his shoulder, making sure he was alone, a sigh of relief escaping his lips as he saw the empty bed. That would have been embarrassing. Then again, he was more likely to wake up in a bloke’s room if he’d got drunk and gone home with a random stranger. Not that he did that, not anymore.
A strand of hair fell across his face, tickling his nose, and he brushed it away without thinking. Becker froze, his hand still held out in front of him. Why the hell was he wearing purple nail varnish? And why was his hair long? A better question, a little voice inside his head corrected moments later, was why the hell was he wearing a bra? He couldn’t remember why and so, slowly, he lifted the covers and looked for himself.
Jess woke up and looked around her, wondering where she was. Ok, this wasn’t her flat, she thought, getting out of bed. And more importantly, why did the floor seem further away than usual? No, hang on, those weren’t her feet, either, and why did she have hair on her chest? Hands frantically patting down her body, she realised what else felt wrong. Very wrong.
Oh, God, she hadn’t had that when she went to sleep last night, she thought, pulling her hands away quickly, her face heating up.
Biting down the urge to panic, she pinched herself hard on the arm, hard enough to probably leave a mark later, but it didn’t wake her up. Maybe she’d been drugged the previous night, someone slipping something into her drink. No, she hadn’t left it unattended, and she’d been fine when she got home. She could remember everything with perfect clarity, just not where she was or what had happened.
Stumbling around the bedroom until she reached the mirror, she was just daring herself to look when the phone rang, making her jump. Instinctively, she answered it, belatedly realising that it wasn’t her mobile.
The voice sounded unfamiliar and she checked the caller id on the mobile: Jess P.
“Why are you calling me from my phone? Is this one yours… whoever this is?”
“Oh, thank fuck for that! It’s me, Becker. I think you’re in my house and that’s my mobile.” He paused. “And you’re me.”
As crazy as it sounded, Jess couldn’t help but look, letting out a surprised squeak as she peered around the mirror to see Becker’s reflection staring back at her. She touched her index finger to her nose, pulled a face, just to prove that it wasn’t some kind of a trick.
“Jess? Are you still there?”
She looked at the phone in her hand- no, in Becker’s hand- and put it back to her ear.
“No. This is just a dream. I’m still asleep, aren’t I? Or I’m hallucinating.”
“Unfortunately, you’re awake, as am I, and I really doubt that we could be having exactly the same hallucination.”
A thought struck her as she remembered her initial hands-on investigating. “Does that mean that you’ve got my body?”
There was a low chuckle. “’Fraid so. Tell me, how do women wear these undies every day, anyway? They’re so uncomfortable.”
As he spoke, Becker absently tugged at the back of the pink lace knickers. They felt as though they were riding up into places they had no business being.
“Well you’re going to have to get used to it, at least until we can figure this out and get back to normal. You are not going out commando.” Jess informed him, making him smile. There was a pause. “Why aren’t you freaked out about this?” she asked. He could hear the slight shake to her voice as she tried her best to keep it steady.
He decided not to tell her about the minor attack of hysterics about ten minutes earlier when he woken up and discovered he had boobs. She was used to him looking out for her; she didn’t need him panicking now.
“Look, we deal with weird shit every day of the week, and so this? We’ll work out what happened and how to fix it,” he told her. “We just need to keep a low profile and, you never know, when we wake up tomorrow morning we might be back to normal.”
Panicking wasn’t going to solve anything but maybe going to work wasn’t the best idea. When he mentioned this to Jess, however she pointed out that they wouldn’t both get away with calling in sick and, since they were going to have to pretend to be each other, they both needed to be in the same place.
As she disconnected, arranging to meet him in his office as soon as she got to the ARC, she looked at the pile of clothes on the chair in the corner of his room. Black. Didn’t he own anything else? A quick scan of his wardrobe turned up a couple of pairs of jeans and a couple of coloured shirts but apparently, the man was pretty happy with black.
Right, well that was the easy bit taken care of. Clothing was nice and impersonal, but the pressure in her bladder was becoming rather insistent.
“Now or never,” she told herself reluctantly. There were some things that women did not want or need to know about men, and that was bathroom habits. Especially from this perspective, she thought, keeping her eyes firmly closed.
Twenty minutes after their conversation, she dialled her mobile number again. “Becker, how do you shave?”
“I’ll trade you, if you’ll tell me how to get tights on without making them run.”
Jess smiled at the absurdity of it all. Of all the ways she’d thought of getting Becker into her bedroom, and her underwear, this was not one she’d anticipated. It seemed to be more like a weird dream now that the initial panic had worn off. Their plan was to just go about their day as normal, keeping this to themselves as much as possible, and hoping that whatever happened last night would happen again tonight and switch them back.
“Are you dressed other than that?” she asked. “Come over and we can sort each other out.”
“Fine. Where are your car keys?”
She told him. “And don’t wake Abby or she’ll know that something is wrong.”
A short time later, Jess heard the back door slam shut, followed by a curse, then footsteps coming through the kitchen. He stumbled into the room, depositing the spare key he’d let himself in with on the cabinet.
“That’s it; I’m not wearing these bloody shoes any longer. I’ve nearly broken my ankle at least four times.”
Jess couldn’t help but stare. It was so strange to see herself standing there, ranting, before kicking off the offending footwear. The look on her face, however, was a very Becker-like expression.
“Why don’t you own any boots, or even trainers? Or jeans, for that matter,” Becker grumbled, tugging down the skirt self-consciously. “These barely cover my arse.”
At least he was wearing something that matched, she thought. “I like my skirts, and you’ll get used to the shoes. It’s just because you’ve never worn them before.” She looked him- herself- over critically. “What on earth have you done to my hair?”
“I had a shower but I couldn’t find your hairdryer.”
“Shower?” Oh god, he’d seen her naked.
He laughed. “Jess, honey, relax. As nice as you look in your birthday suit, you’re really not my type.”
Of course she wasn’t, Jess thought, remembering all of those times she’d seen him with Matt, when she’d teased him about flirting and he’d denied it, looking embarrassed. Even so, her brain was still stuck the fact that that he’d seen her naked.
“We need to get ready,” she said, changing the subject. “Did you at least bring my hair brush with you so I can make you look presentable?”
They managed to get through the morning without incident, up until Lester emerged from his office and glared at them.
“Becker, don’t you have a job to do?” he snapped. “Every time I see you, you’re distracting Miss Parker.”
Becker looked up, giving her a reassuring smile that did nothing to quash the worry she was feeling. Becker had a rough idea of how to work the comms desk by now, thanks to her instruction, but Jess couldn’t do his job. She didn’t know a thing about what he did whilst not out on an anomaly call, she realised. Unless she could include the time he spent on the practice range down in the armoury, but she hadn’t even dared to go in there yet, afraid she’d injure herself or someone else if she picked anything up. She could go to his office- he was always complaining about having paperwork to do- but even then she couldn’t sign off on any of it as the signature wouldn’t match his previous ones.
Glancing up, she saw that Lester was still watching, however, and she had no choice but to leave before he got angry.
“Come and find me in ten minutes,” she whispered, heading for his office in the hope that she could hide there for the rest of the day at least pretending to do some work.
Ten minutes later, Becker was still sitting at the desk. Abby had wandered over a few moments ago and started talking, telling her about something stupid that Connor had done and, he assumed, looking for advice. Eventually, he interrupted.
“Abby, can you watch the monitors for a while? I’ve got to go.”
“Sure.” Abby studied him for a moment, looking concerned. “You look a bit pale; are you feeling alright? I usually find chocolate works if I’ve got PMS-”
“Bloody hell,” he said, as he figured out what she meant. Did women really talk about this stuff? “I just need to take a leak, that’s all.”
She stared at him in surprise before laughing. “Interesting choice of phrase,” she said. “I think you’ve been hanging around Becker and Matt too much. Go on; I’ll cover for you.”
Becker bolted, moving as fast as he could in Jess’s ridiculous shoes. Seriously, if he had to do this for one more day he was buying her some nice, comfortable trainers.
Once out of Abby’s sight, he turned and headed for his office. He missed his office. Hell, he missed having a door that he could close and at least attempt to deter colleagues from annoying him. Jess’s workspace offered no privacy or peace and quiet, being out in the open as it was.
“Right,” he said as he let himself in. “We’ve got about five minutes before Abby gets suspicious and comes looking for you. I mean me.”
He gave her his passwords for his computer and took her through some of the things he was supposed to be finishing off today.
“You should be able to hide out in here for the rest of the day doing this,” he told her. “As long as-”
Right on cue, the anomaly detector sirens started wailing and Becker swore.
“- that doesn’t happen,” he finished. “Oh, this is going to be fun.”
The sirens stopped as quickly as they’d started and he looked to Jess. “Does that mean it’s gone again?
She shook her head. “Could be, or it could be a false alarm, loose wire, glitch in the system… anything.”
He sighed. “I’d better get back; Abby’s probably looking for me by now.”
She stood again, following him out. At least this gave her an excuse to be out by the comms desk.
Jess watched as Connor and Becker ran diagnostics on the detector, trying to work out what had happened. From what she could see, the detector was now saying that there hadn’t been any anomalies in the past two days, even though it had alerted them to one only a few minutes earlier. Connor was already there and he tapped a few keys to get to the alert log which, sure enough, had an alert listed. If she could just get her hands on it, she could probably figure out what was wrong but it would look odd if Becker suddenly became an expert at detector diagnostics.
It took her a moment to realise that Lester was shouting at her, before she turned to him.
“Why are you still standing around here?” When she looked at him, confused, he rolled his eyes. “The anomaly?” he said, sounding irritated.
“But it was a false alarm…”
“Until they can work out whether or not this is a false alarm, we will be treating it as genuine. Well, off you go.” He shook his head, muttering, “Don’t know what I pay you lot for sometimes.”
Becker came over. “Just go, look around and come back,” he said in a low voice. “Even if it was an anomaly, there wasn’t time for anything to come through, and it’s closed now.”
She nodded, quickly saving the coordinates into a hand held unit, mainly so that Becker wouldn’t need to find out how to do it, and headed for the garage, running into Matt on the way.
“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you all day.”
Matt just shrugged his shoulders. “My office. You obviously weren’t looking hard enough,” he teased.
The smile as he said it, and the brief look he gave her- no, Becker- made her give a mental squee. Becker must have noticed that Matt was flirting with him; he couldn’t be that oblivious, could he?
“Here,” she said, throwing the vehicle keys to him. “You’re driving.”
By the time they’d checked the anomaly site and found nothing of interest, Jess had made her mind up. Matt was still flirting, just little touches every now and then, or smiles and looks. She knew that Becker was interested, especially since the body she was in still reacted as Becker would, and it was definitely interested in Matt. They were perfect for each other. Well, if Becker wasn’t going to do anything about it then maybe she could.
“Matt? Would you like to go out for dinner with me sometime?”
Matt looked surprised for a moment before he smiled. “’Took you bloody long enough. I thought I was going to have to strip naked and do a dance before you took the hint.”
Jess smiled, the image flashing through her mind as the words came out, unbidden, “Oh, yes please!”
“Well, play your cards right and I just might,” he told her with a smirk. He closed the space between them in one step, one hand resting on her waist. “I’ve wanted to do this ever since I met you…”
I know exactly how you feel, Jess thought, as Matt pulled her close and kissed her.
The next morning, Jess awoke and looked around, resisting the urge to stick her head under her pillow and cry. Well, stick Becker’s head under his pillow and cry.
Nothing had changed; she was still Becker. She frowned, lifting the duvet to peer underneath before swearing. It appeared that wasn’t her only problem and this one, she was not ringing Becker to ask him about. She could feel herself blush just thinking about having to call him. Suddenly it hit her; she’d been dreaming about Matt, about that kiss because even if it wasn’t her he was kissing, not really, he was a damn good kisser. Apparently, Becker’s body agreed.
No, she’d just ignore this particular problem until it went away, she decided. Or… Jess smiled. It probably would go away on its own, but there was a quicker way. And fair was fair, right? He’d seen her in the shower…
As she stripped off the t-shirt and shorts she’d slept in, Jess felt a moment of guilt. Only a moment, though; the little voice in the back of her mind that was telling her that this was wrong was quickly beaten into submission by her curiosity. After all, how many other opportunities was she going to get, given his lack of interest in her.
“Oh, nice,” she told the reflection staring back at her from the mirror. “Very nice indeed.”
She turned to each side, admiring Becker’s arse while deliberately not thinking about the problem. Not an easy task with it right there, begging for attention. What would she feel if she touched? Her earlier thought flashed back through her mind and curiosity was once more engaged. She stepped into the shower, letting the warm spray fall over her.
Soaping the rest of the body up and washing her hair, she did what she was supposed to be doing first, taking her shower. She still had to wash down there, though, didn’t she? She was just washing; there nothing to feel guilty about with that, was there? Jess’s smile grew wider as she drew one soapy hand along the length of Becker’s erection. That felt good. Better than good, she thought, doing it again.
A short time later, Jess leaned heavily on the shower wall, her knees feeling like jelly.
I can understand why boys spend the majority of their teenage years doing that, she thought with a laugh. How she was going to look Becker in the eye again, however, was a completely different matter.
Becker was late for work. It wasn’t his fault, though; he’d had an urgent errand to run. He looked down at the purple and black trainers on his- or rather, Jess’s- feet and smiled. A whole day without risk of a broken ankle; he might be still stuck in Jess’s body but at least he could walk today. Her slippers, the footwear he’d left her flat in this morning before calling at the sports shop, were in the back of her car. And he thought that Jess would approve since they did match the skirt he was wearing.
He was getting used to the skirts, with the exception of that one incident yesterday when he’d flashed Jess’s knickers to the entire room after he’d bent over to pick up the pen he’d dropped. When one of his security lads whistled, he realised his mistake, cringing inwardly as he blushed.
Other then that, it was just a case of trying to remember the things that Jess wouldn’t do: Don’t swear: Don’t sit with the lads on break: Don’t go in the gents. He’d done that the previous day, too, in a hurry and not thinking. Luckily, no one had noticed, unlike the time Abby had come over to her, laughing about the fact she’d just caught ‘Becker’ in the ladies.
By the time Lester had finished his lecture about being late, Becker wanted nothing more than to go down to the armoury, to the practice range, and shoot something. Unfortunately, people kept giving him jobs to do, jobs he was pretty sure weren’t part of Jess’s job description. Between Lester using her as his own personal computer helpline and the others passing paperwork off to her, he was getting annoyed. How had he ever thought that Jess had it easy, working the comms desk all day? By lunchtime, he’d had enough.
The man in the armoury looked surprised as he strode purposefully past, going straight to the weapons room before remembering that Jess’s ID bracelet didn’t give him access to it.
“Mark, I need a gun.”
His second in command just stared, trying not to laugh. “Honey, it can’t be as bad as that,” he teased.
Grabbing his arm, Becker swiped the other man’s wrist over the lock before he had time to react and went in.
“Jess, what are you doing? These things aren’t toys; you’ll hurt yourself-”
Mark’s words died away as Becker picked up one of the handguns, quickly checking it and inserting a clip, before cocking it.
“How did you know how to do that?” he asked, following as Becker headed for the range. “Jess?”
Becker turned to him and smiled, batting his eyelashes at the other man. “I know what I’m doing; you can supervise me if you want. Please? Just give me five minutes.”
When Mark reluctantly nodded, Becker had to bite his lips to stop himself laughing. He remembered all of the times Jess had used the same technique to get him to do something, the big, pleading eyes that even Lester didn’t seem to be immune to.
The gun felt heavier than usual, Jess’s arms not used to the weight and position of holding a weapon, but he still managed to hit the centre of the paper target with all but one shot. There; that felt better. He’d missed his guns. He was even starting to miss the EMD’s.
“There you are,” he said, flicking the safety on and ejecting the clip, handing both pieces to Mark. “Thank you. Um, I don’t suppose we could keep this between us, could we?”
He didn’t particularly want word getting around that Jess was a crack shot; when they got switched back, it could be difficult to explain why she didn’t even know how to fire the weapon when she’d been able to hit the bull’s-eye only the day before.
Mark nodded, still watching him with a surprised expression on his face.
Becker paused in the doorway, glancing back.
“If you want to come back again another time, I can make sure we’re alone.” His eyes widened in alarmed. “That sounded creepier than it did in my head. I didn’t mean it like that. I just thought you might like- Oh, never mind.”
Now this was interesting, Becker thought with a smile; he’d never seen Mark look so nervous, not even when facing down a group of raptors. If the flutter he felt in his stomach was anything to go by, Jess wouldn’t object if Mark had been making advances.
“You’ll let me use anything? Even the Mossberg?” Mark nodded, though the expression on his face said he was wondering what he’d let himself in for. Becker smiled at him. “I might just do that,” he said.
He’d never realised how much easier it was to get what he wanted when all he had to do was bat his eyes and smile, or look helpless. It worked beautifully on the lads, especially Mark, but he suspected that was a special case. He wondered how long Mark had been daring himself to ask her out.
Of course there was a downside to being Jess, in particular the grabby-hands tech who seemed to think it was acceptable to paw at her as he passed by. The first time, Becker thought he’d imagined it, but no, it happened again, just enough to be a touch, but not enough that anyone nearby would think it anything but accidental. Becker had been Jess for two days and already this man was pissing him off; goodness knows how long Jess had put up with it. It would be so much easier if he could just keep out of the lecherous old bastard’s way but, unfortunately, he had to go in that office again to collect some reports for Lester.
Becker went in quietly, hoping to collect what he needed and get away without being noticed but no, there was Martin, heading her way.
“What can I help you with, sweetheart?”
Ignoring him, Becker went to the desk and collected what he needed, but he wasn’t fast enough. He tensed at the feel of a large hand stoking down his skirt-covered backside and something snapped inside. He’d had enough.
Turning, Becker reached out with one hand and grabbed Martin by the balls, squeezing hard enough to bring tears to the other man’s eyes.
“Now you listen to me, because this is the only warning you’re ever going to get,” he said, loud enough for the female lab assistant at the far side of the room to hear. “If ever touch me again, these,” he said, digging Jess’s long fingernails in as he twisted his hand and making Martin yelp, “will be removed with a rusty knife. Understand?”
“Now,” Becker said. “I think I’d like an apology.”
Martin squeaked out a “Sorry!”, and Becker released him.
“I’ll have you reported for this, you little bitch,” he told Becker angrily, one hand still cupped protectively over his crotch, tears in his eyes. “That was assault!”
“No,” the female assistant informed him, coming over and watching with undisguised glee. “Actually, it’s what nasty little men like you deserve. I only wish I’d had my camera.”
Jess saw Becker heading toward her, an annoyed look his face, and excused herself from Matt.
Becker ushered her into an empty room and closed the door. “Exactly how long has that dickhead Martin been harassing you?”
Jess sighed. “I usually just avoid him-”
“Jess, how long?”
“A while,” she said quietly. She had been meaning to speak to Lester about it but something more important always seemed to come up, such as getting Connor and Abby back, and then Danny’s return, or the whole mess with Ethan, or the bugs in the ARC.
“Why the hell didn’t you say anything to me?” Becker demanded. “I could have done something.”
“You had your own things to worry about, and I didn’t want to keep running to you or Matt whenever anything was wrong,” she told him. “It’s not a big deal.”
Becker’s expression softened. “Jess, you should have told me, or someone else. It’s sexual harassment.”
Jess nodded. She knew that, deep down, but she’d been telling herself that she’d imagined it, or that she’d encouraged him somehow.
“Well, I don’t think you’ll get much trouble out of him for a while,” Becker assured her, smiling. “He just got a slightly painful lesson in how to treat women.”
Jess was just having a laugh at Becker’s story when Lester’s flustered-looking secretary appeared, informing Becker that Lester wanted to see him, or rather, see Jess. It seemed that Martin had followed through on his threat to file a report.
Becker and Jess stood in Lester’s office, Martin glaring at them from the chair in front of the desk, an ice-pack on his groin as he played up the role of victim.
“He grabbed me first,” Becker told Lester calmly. “He’s been pawing at me every time I got near him for months now. I’d say he got off lightly.”
“I did no such thing!”
Lester sighed. “Jess, it’s your word against his.”
Becker smiled. “Not exactly. Becker knows all about him, and if you give me five minutes, I can find the CCTV footage.”
Lester glanced at Jess. “Becker?”
“It’s true. He’s been doing it for a while now but Jess didn’t tell anyone until recently. She didn’t want to cause any bother and so she kept quiet.”
Five minutes later, Lester watched the incident in the lab on the CCTV footage, as well as Becker’s retaliation before turning to Martin. The man had tried to make a joke of it, saying that he was just being friendly, that he was having a laugh, but Lester was having none of it.
“I expect you to be out of the building within the hour. Becker will escort you to collect your belongings and hand over your security passes and keys. Your notice of termination will be in the post this evening. And I wouldn’t advise making a scene; I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the consequences of breaking the confidentiality clause in your contract?”
“The matter is closed. I will not tolerate that kind of behaviour. Becker? Please make sure that he leaves the premises.” As they left, Lester called after them. “Jess, could you wait a moment, please?”
Jess took a vast amount of pleasure in being the one to escort Martin out, especially as word had spread regarding the details of his dismissal. It seemed that he wasn’t a particularly popular man, and she had seen a number of the female employees go to make sure that Becker- Jess- was alright, or even just to congratulate her for standing up to him.
“Figures that you’d stick up for her,” Martin grumbled as he cleared out his locker. “Stupid kid flashes a bit of leg and you roll over for her. Pathetic.”
Jess was tempted to punch him but she resisted, knowing it would only make things worse.
“Just get your belongings; I have better things to do than baby-sit a creep like you all day.”
“Becker, thank you,” she said, hugging him when she got back to the desk after evicting Martin.
He smiled. “It was for my own benefit as well,” he told her.
“Well, I’m still grateful. That reminds me, what did Lester want when he asked you to wait?”
“Exactly what I told you, that you should have spoken to someone earlier. He said he hated the thought of you having to put up with that for so long, and that, if he’d known, he would have dealt with it immediately, no matter what else was happening.”
Jess smiled. “He’s a nice bloke, despite how he acts most of the time.”
It had been three days since the switch, and Becker wanted to talk to someone other than Jess. He’d been avoiding Abby in case she a) started talking about girlie things again, or b) started talking about something that Jess would know, but he didn’t. There were so many subjects that he had to avoid so as not to alert Abby to what had happened. Besides, he missed having another bloke to talk to.
He missed Matt.
It hadn’t really hit him until now how much of his day he spent with Matt, just talking, hanging out. And even though he knew that Jess was just playing her role, being him, he still didn’t like seeing her with Matt all of the time. Jess had been right all those times she’d teased him about Matt; now he might not get the chance to do something about it. He’d be stuck in Jess’s body, forced to watch as Matt continued to flirt with who he thought was Becker, or moved on and found someone else completely.
Great, he thought; not only was he currently female, he was starting to think like a love-struck schoolgirl.
Becker curled up in bed, unable to go to sleep as scenarios ran though his mind. What was he supposed to tell his parents, or his brother? The truth? He doubted they would believe that he and Jess had swapped bodies. Hell, he doubted that even his friends at the ARC would believe that, and they dealt with weirdness every day of their lives.
Eventually tiredness won out and he drifted off.
Jess pulled on the t-shirt and shorts that she had become accustomed to sleeping in and climbed into Becker’s bed. She hadn’t realised just how boring Becker’s day actually was. She’d always envied him slightly, seeing him going out with the team and doing the exciting stuff while she was stuck at the ARC, sitting behind a desk. The past three days had been an eye-opener. She had spent the entire morning sitting in a meeting, listening to Lester and Philip discuss scheduling and budgets, followed by an hour of incredibly tedious inventory in the armoury. Even though she had been dreading an anomaly appearing and having to deal with the resulting creature incursion, she would have welcomed that after a few days of tedium.
And she missed Abby. She sometimes thought how annoying it was, never to get any time on her own; there was always someone in her flat when she got home, arguing over the TV remote. Connor wanted to watch his science fiction shows, Abby usually argued for whatever wildlife documentary was showing, while Jess just went along with one of them to avoid an argument. Becker lived alone; she could do whatever she wanted, and had sole possession of the remote control, but she missed the company.
It took her a while to get to sleep, as it usually did. It was too quiet in his house; she was used to the sounds of other people moving around as well.
The alarm clock woke Becker from an increasingly bizarre dream involving Lester, Connor and a pet Tyrannosaurus Rex that they were playing fetch with.
Something was different, he thought. His feet touched the end of the bed.
Becker opened his eyes and threw back the duvet, a stupidly wide smile spreading across his features as he scrambled out of bed and found his mobile phone.
“Come on, Jess, pick up…”
Jess answered the phone with a squeal of delight.
“I’m me! I’m a girl!”
She heard Becker laugh. “Believe me, Jess, I’m just as glad to get my body back.”
Clutching the phone in one hand, Jess moved to the mirror, looking herself over to make sure that she was really back. A feeling of relief washed over her.
“Is this it? It’s not going to happen again, is it?”
“Why do you assume that I’d know the answer to that? I don’t even know how it happened in the first place,” Becker told her. “We need to have a chat before we run into anyone else, make sure we don’t get caught out with anything from the last few days.”
Agreeing, she arranged to meet him at the ARC before the others arrived.
Becker heard footsteps behind him as he let himself into his office, and turned, wondering who else would be at the ARC this early. He barely had the chance to react before Matt shoved him backwards into his office and kissed him.
“What are you doing?”
Matt shrugged his shoulders. “Saying good morning,” he replied. He sighed. “Don’t tell me, you’ve had second thoughts. Look, just forget it.”
There was a tentative knock on the door and Jess edged in. “I was going to tell you about that…”
Becker glared. “You and him?”
“Nothing happened. Well, just one kiss, but it wasn’t me, really, was it?”
Matt cleared his throat, making them both turn the attention to him. “Would you mind telling me what the hell you’re talking about?”
Jess met Becker’s gaze and he nodded.
“A couple of days ago, we, somehow- we don’t know how- swapped bodies,” Jess told him. “We’ve been posing as each other, hoping that no one would notice until either we could sort it out, or it sorted itself out.”
“It’s true,” Becker told him. “I’ve spent the past three days as Jess.”
Matt just looked between them, shaking his head. “I’ll admit you’ve both been acting a bit odd but do you really expect me to believe that? You’ve both lost it.”
Jess smiled. “Do you remember what you said to me when I asked you out? When Becker asked you out, I mean. You said you thought you’d have to strip naked and do a dance to make him notice you.”
Matt looked to Becker, studying him for a moment. “He really doesn’t know about that, does he?” he asked in amazement. “And so that means when I kissed you just now, that was the first time, wasn’t it? Bloody hell, I’m sorry. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have done it.”
“Matt, he wanted you to; he’s just too chicken to tell you himself,” Jess said. “Right, I think I’ll leave you two to talk about that… or catch up in other ways.”
She waved a hand dismissively. “It’s fine; I’m going to get a cup of tea. Come and find me when you’re finished.”
Later that afternoon, Jess found a large box of chocolates on her desk, tied with a big red bow. Becker was nearby, talking to Matt, a smile on his face and when he saw her pick up the box, he came over.
“Just a little something to say thank you,” he said, glancing back at Matt as he said it.
Jess gave him a hug. “You just needed a bit of a push, that’s all. Anyway, I should be the one thanking you for the whole Martin thing. It’s such a relief not to be constantly on the lookout for him.”
“Well next time-”
“I know; I’ll come to you first.”
Becker moved back far enough to press a kiss to her forehead. “Good.”
Pushing him away, she indicated to where Matt was watching their exchange. “Now, off you go before Matt starts getting jealous,” she joked.
When the Anomaly Detector sounded moments later, Jess put on her headset, fingers flying over the keyboard as she checked the information. Becker had already hurried off with Matt to collect weapons, looking as happy to be back to his old self as she was. This was what she loved: co-ordinating the teams, making sure they had the correct information, getting them there as fast as she could, dealing with the local authorities.
“Jess! Where is it?”
Jess didn’t even turn to look at Lester, her attention focussed on the screens.
“Twelve point five miles south-west of here. There local police have just received a report of a wild animal on the loose but I’ve told them to wait for the teams to arrive to clarify whether it’s a creature incursion or just a stray. ETA six minutes.”
“Very well. Keep me informed.”
Jess smiled. It was good to be back.