"Becker, wait up," Connor called and Becker turned around to wait for him. "Your legs are so long, did you realise?" Connor asked, his breathing a tad faster than normal. "But I wanted to tell you that the rest of us are going to go and have a few drinks. You should come."
"Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll pass. Lester and I were planning on staying in and having dinner together." Becker winced inwardly as soon as the words left his mouth. When had he become the sort of person who turned down a trip to the pub to stay in and make dinner? Fuck, he was getting domestic. Danny would laugh his arse off if he could see Becker now.
"That's sweet. You're like an old married couple already."
"This coming from the man who was married last month."
"So I would know, wouldn't I? Besides, Abby and I still manage to remember what it means to have fun. I'm not so sure about you."
"We have fun," Becker insisted. They just tended to have fun by themselves.
The smirk on Connor's face left no illusions as to what he was thinking. "One night. It'll be good, all of us going out together."
"I'm not sure Lester--"
"What presumptions are you making about me now, Becker?" Lester asked as he suddenly appeared at Becker's shoulder. Becker hated it when he did that.
"That you don't want to come to the pub with us," Connor said before Becker could respond.
"I just thought that you'd be tired, that's all," Becker said. He wasn't quite sure why he felt so defensive about the whole thing. "And that you'd want to eat?"
"As far as I'm aware, they still have food at pubs, correct?"
"Definitely," Connor said, starting to smile as he realised he was winning.
"Then it's settled. Do try to stop acting like a fussy old man and blaming it on me, darling."
Becker opened and closed his mouth, words failing him, while Connor started to laugh.
Connor waved at the others, who Becker noticed were standing off to the side and had probably been eavesdropping the entire time. "They're coming, I told you I could convince them," Connor said, gloating. "They all thought I couldn't," he said to Becker and Lester. "They wanted Jess to talk to you."
"Jess?" Lester said, raising an eyebrow, but when Jess walked over to them, her face lit up in a smile, Lester's face brightened a tiny bit.
Becker bit back a grin. Lester tried very hard to convince everyone otherwise, but in his heart, he was really a soft touch.
"I'm so glad you said yes," Jess told them, bubbly with enthusiasm. "This is going to be great, all of us together."
"Great," Becker said under his breath. Then why did it feel like his stomach was twisting itself up?
"Hey, guys. What's the occasion?"
Becker turned at the new voice to see that Russ had joined them. He reflexively glanced at Lester and felt his stomach knot itself tighter. He wondered how long it would take for him to be able to be in a room with Lester and Russ together and not feel like he was going to explode from guilt.
"We're going out for drinks. Do you want to--" Jess stopped suddenly and looked at Lester, regret plainly visible in every line of her face, and then back at Russell.
Russ smiled at her as if to say he wasn't hurt and said, "No, you have fun. I've got a new puppy at home, don't want him to piss on the carpet if I'm late."
Jess opened her mouth but before she could say anything, Lester said, "Some other time, then." He sounded faintly strained, as if the offer had cost him a good deal of effort.
Becker wasn't sure if he or Russ was more surprised. Russ blinked a few times as though he was attempting to clear his vision and then he said, "Yes, of course. Thank you, sir. Have a good time, everyone."
"See you next week, Ian," Jess called as he walked away.
Redirecting his gaze to Becker, Lester said, "Close your mouth, Becker, you look ridiculous."
Becker complied, his mind a blank as he tried to have some sort of response, some reaction to what had happened, but the only thing he could think of doing was entirely inappropriate. He did it anyway. Becker tangled one hand into Lester's hair, tilting his head back, and kissed him.
Lester put his hands against Becker's chest and pushed him away. "Not in the middle of the ARC, idiot," he hissed.
"Don't care," Becker said and kissed him again.
Lester bit down harshly on Becker's lip but that was about all the resistance he put up. When Becker finally let him go, everyone was pointedly not looking at them. Becker rubbed a thumb across his lip. "You know that when you get violent, I just think it's hot, right?"
"There's something not quite right in your head."
"But you like me anyway, so what does that say about you?"
"That I have appalling taste?"
"Uh, guys?" Connor ventured cautiously. "Not to interrupt or anything, but we'd kind of like to get going. You can meet us there if you want to, you know, keep doing this weird, sarcastic quasi-flirting thing you do."
"Or have a shag," Matt added. "The armoury should be empty."
Lester rolled his eyes. "I'll get my keys."
While the others went to get a couple of tables, Becker, Lester, and Matt stood at the bar to order food and their drinks. Becker got beer and a whisky for himself, but he downed the whisky in one gulp and then had to get another, Lester looking at him askance. He didn't know why he felt so fucking weird, but he was hoping the alcohol would help. He supposed maybe it was only because this was so different-- he and Lester going out with the others. They'd had dinner with Jess once, and then there had been Connor and Abby's wedding, but this was definitely unfamiliar territory.
The three of them managed to juggle all the drinks between them and located their friends. They had settled in a corner booth big enough to seat all of them, if a little snugly. The table quieted as the drinks got passed around, everyone simply sitting and not quite making eye contact with each other. Becker fidgeted and wished he had made his second whisky a double.
"Well, this is nice. Certainly not awkward in the least," Lester said.
And with that, they all seemed to take a breath and relax. "Did you know that Matt and Emily still haven't seen Star Wars?" Connor said.
"What a tragedy that is."
Connor ignored him. "We're going to have to marathon them soon. The originals, I mean, the others don't matter so much."
"That's the one where Darth Vader is Luke's father, right?" Matt asked. "I've watched that bit."
"What? But that's the best part! And now you've ruined it for Emily as well."
"There, there, Connor," Abby said, rubbing his shoulders while she grinned at Jess.
"Leia's his sister," Becker contributed and Connor put his face in his hands.
When the food arrived, Becker was grateful for the distraction. He was finding it hard to concentrate on the conversation while his mind persisted on dwelling on the oddness of Lester being there. He reminded himself that this sort of thing should be normal. Lester wasn't purely their boss anymore (he hadn't been just Becker's boss for a very long time) and it shouldn't be so unsettling to have him come out with them. With Becker. It shouldn't be strange to go out with his friends and his partner at the same time.
This is normal, Becker told himself. Try to behave like a normal person, out with your lover and your mates. I brought him to meet my family, I can certainly do this. Hell, if I can bring Lester to Christmas dinner, I can do anything.
While Lester was preoccupied by talking to Matt, Becker snuck chips off his plate. After a while, Lester shoved the whole plate over to Becker without as much as a sideways glance. Emily giggled and Becker winked at her.
He finished Lester's chips, watching Lester talk. Lester had left his tie and jacket in the car, unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. He looked casually dishevelled and Becker couldn't stop looking at him, at how naturally he had transitioned from work to the pub, while Becker himself felt awkward and discomfited. Lester managed to appear perfectly at ease no matter where he was.
But that was only part of it. Becker found his gaze drawn bizarrely to Lester's wrist as he set down his glass. He thought about kissing Lester's skin, there on the inside of his wrist, and made himself glance away. Of course, after only a moment he was watching Lester's mouth while he spoke, his gaze travelling down Lester's throat to the exposed skin of his chest. Becker's mind filled with images and desires so completely inappropriate to the situation that he was pretty certain he was actually blushing. He got up to go to the bar to cover it. "Want another one?" he said to Lester, gesturing at his empty glass.
"Maybe later, thanks, love," Lester said and then tilted his head. "Are you all right?"
"Of course," Becker said, dropping his eyes and turning around swiftly. He was like a fucking teenager around Lester sometimes, it was humiliating.
Originally, Becker had intended on having just the two whiskies and then switching to beer, but he decided the beer really wasn't strong enough. Whisky was the way to go.
"Sticking to the hard stuff?" Matt asked, nodding at the large whisky Becker returned with.
"Have you got a problem with that?"
"I'd never think of stepping on your fun, mate. You've got a caretaker and everything."
Becker scowled. "You say that like you think I need watching."
Matt raised an eyebrow. "You mean Lester doesn't force you to do what the medics tell you, alter the schedule to make sure you have days off just like everyone else, and let you have a cuddle after he's finished yelling at you for being reckless? I'm so sorry, Becker, I'm afraid I've completely misread your relationship."
"He forgets to eat lunch if I don't make him do it," Becker muttered into his glass, hearing Matt's quiet laughter.
"Matt," Emily said, placing her hand on Matt's wrist. "Are you teasing poor Becker?"
"Teasing Becker? That doesn't sound like me, does it?"
It was a good thing Becker had set down his glass, as he probably would have spilled it otherwise. "Have I mentioned how much I hate you?"
"You might have done, yeah, once or twice," Matt said with a smile in his voice.
"You'd better leave him alone, Matt, look," Emily said, nodding her head at Becker.
Before Becker could puzzle out what she had meant, Lester nudged him in the ribs. "I know I'm irresistible, darling, but please try to control yourself while we're in public. You're nearly in my lap."
Becker felt himself flushing and shifted back over on the bench. He gulped down the rest of his drink and tried to ignore the chorus of laughter that greeted Lester's statement. Hadn't these people respected him once? (Probably they hadn't, Becker acknowledged.)
It was far past time for a refill, he decided.
Matt and Emily were the first to leave, to protestations from Jess.
"We have shifts at the ARC, unfortunately," Emily explained. "I'd much rather stay here. I think things are about to get interesting," she said with a glance at Becker.
What is she singling me out for? Becker couldn't help but wonder. He hadn't done anything odd that he could think of.
"Try and keep the drama to a minimum, won't you? I'd like to enjoy my weekend," Lester said.
"Whatever I can do to make your life easier, James. I think you'll have your work cut out for you in the morning without me adding to it." And now Matt was looking at Becker too, that barely-there smile on his face.
They all said their goodbyes and then Jess stood up as well. "I'm going to get another drink. Anyone else interested?"
Becker contemplated his glass. He was sure it hadn't been empty a moment ago. He gave Jess his best smile, though he was concerned it may have been slightly too reminiscent of the one he used to use when he was trying to get laid. "Jess, sweetheart, be a love and get me another whisky, will you? I seem to have run out." He rummaged in his pocket for some money and pressed it into her hand.
She blushed a little and nodded before leaving for the bar. Becker kept smiling while he watched her leave. Jess was lovely.
"You're drunk," Lester accused.
What? There was no way he was drunk. He could drink anyone here under the table, no question. "I'm not," Becker insisted. "You're not, are you?"
Lester carefully raised one eyebrow, the movement of it distracting Becker for a few seconds. "I don't see how that's relevant."
"Because if you're not drunk, then there's no way I am." It was perfectly clear. Lester was stupid sometimes.
"All right, but it seems you didn't notice that I never had that second pint, as it became clear that you had no intention whatsoever of restraining yourself."
"Oh." Maybe that's what Matt and Emily had meant, they thought he was pissed. Didn't they know he was Special Forces? It took quite a lot to get him drunk and Becker resented Lester's implication that he was being irresponsible. He could have a few drinks if he wanted; he didn't have to work tomorrow.
Then Lester laughed. "Are you sulking?"
He laughed again and Becker felt a little bit like hitting him, but that probably would have been an overreaction. "Hils, my love, please don't turn into a maudlin drunk."
"I'm not, you're just being aggravating."
"I'm always aggravating. If you weren't used to it by now, we wouldn't still be together."
Becker swayed into Lester, closer than he'd meant to and needing to brace himself with a hand on Lester's arm. Okay, maybe he was drunk. A little. "I put up with it because you're fantastic in bed and your co--"
"Too much information!" Connor said suddenly. "Way, way too much information. In the way that if you had kept talking I think I would have had to blow out my eardrums. On purpose."
Becker turned to Connor and blinked. "Oh, I forgot you were there."
Abby laughed while Connor said, "Great, thank you, Becker. It's nice to know how much you're enjoying my company. It's doing wonders for my self-esteem."
"Here you are," Jess said, reclaiming her seat and pushing a glass across the table to Becker.
"Thanks, love," Becker said and took a sip, ignoring the look Lester gave him. He stretched his arm over the back of the booth, tugging Lester in closer.
Lester mumbled something under his breath but if he had really wanted Becker to move, Becker had no doubt that he would have been made to move. Instead, Lester settled in next to him quite willingly, one hand resting on Becker's knee beneath the table.
That was when Jess pulled out the camera. "Oh!" she exclaimed, digging through her purse until she found it. "I completely forgot I'd brought it, I wanted to get a photo of all of us. And now Matt and Emily have left."
"Suppose we'll have to do this again then," Abby said, grinning at the expression on Lester's face.
"Yes, that's all well and good for you, because you don't have this drunken oaf to look after," he said, poking Becker in the side.
"I love you, too, sweetie," Becker said and smacked a kiss on Lester's forehead.
There was a click as Jess snapped a picture and Lester glared.
Jess shrugged her shoulders and smiled disarmingly. "I didn't get the photo I wanted so I've got to make up for it somehow."
"I highly disapprove of that reasoning," Lester told her. "Why don't you point that thing in Connor and Abby's direction instead? I'm sure they'll be happy to be nauseatingly cute for you while I conveniently look in the opposite direction."
"I've already got loads of pictures of them, but I've hardly any of you."
"I fail to see how that's my problem."
Becker leaned forward. "Don't mind him, Jess, he has an irrational fear of anyone seeing him when he isn't perfectly in control. But if you'd really like a picture, I'm very good at convincing James to do things. I'm extremely persuasive."
"I'll bet you are," Connor said, disguising it as a cough when Lester directed his glare in Connor's direction.
"Thank you, Becker," Jess said, giving him a bright smile. "I'll be sure to remember that."
He leaned even further over the table, whispering, "But you know what? You probably don't even need my help, he likes it when you're happy, and--"
"All right," Lester interrupted, using a hand to push Becker back. He let it rest there, warm against Becker's chest. "I would like to maintain at least some measure of respectability, thank you very much."
"I think you lost that when I showed them the photos of you with Sid and Nancy," Becker said and then slapped a hand over his mouth. Oh, shit, he should not have said that.
Lester's eyes had widened and his mouth was hanging slightly open. "I'm sorry, what was that?"
"We're going to have a talk, Hils. Tomorrow, when you're sober."
"Yes, James," Becker said because it was best to agree, but he was already working on a way to get out of it. He reckoned he could think of a few distractions.
"Come on, let's have a game of darts," Connor suggested. "Becker?"
"I'm in," Becker agreed immediately. One look at Connor's sly expression told Becker that Connor thought this was one time he could actually win. Well, let him hope. "No hard feelings when I win?"
"It's nice that you're confident, but I've got a good feeling about this."
Abby and Jess shared a look. "Boys," Abby said as they scooted out of the booth.
"I hope you aren't throwing me in with them," Lester said, giving Becker a little shove to get him to move faster.
Connor went first, two of his darts landing in the outer circle and one slightly closer to centre. He retrieved the darts and stepped out of the way so Becker could have his turn.
"Not bad," Becker said encouragingly and then promptly hit just outside the bull's eye.
"What the hell?" Connor complained. "How can you be this pissed and still have better aim than me?"
"Because I'm brilliant," Becker said and threw his dart. It pinged off the outside edge of the board. Becker stared at the dart, lying forlornly on the ground, and felt betrayed.
Connor was laughing like it was the most hilarious thing he had ever seen but Lester sidled up to him, wrapping an arm around Becker's waist and pressing a kiss to the side of his face. "Don't sulk, pet. It was only one miss."
Becker thought that maybe he should get drunk more often if it got Lester to be like this. Lester was being much freer with his gestures than he ever was in public and more so than even when they were in private sometimes. Hell, it usually took Becker getting himself tossed around by a creature for Lester to be so unthinkingly affectionate. Something about the drinking must have brought out the protective instincts that Lester so fervently liked to deny he had.
"Will you give me a kiss if I win?" Becker asked, lowering his eyelids slightly so he could look at Lester through his lashes.
"If you like," Lester said indulgently.
Oh yes, this was great, Becker reflected as he aimed carefully and tossed a dart. Lester didn't even realise he was being taken advantage of because he assumed Becker was too drunk to be able to do such a thing.
Becker won, obviously. He had needed to concentrate more than he normally did and his aim hadn't been quite up to his usual standards, but even drunk off his arse, Becker could throw a dart better than Connor.
Connor shrugged it off good-naturedly. "Just once I'm going to beat you, Becker, wait and see."
"It's good to have dreams, Connor, as long as you're not too disappointed when they don't come true," Becker said and then turned to Lester. It was time to focus on more important matters. "Do I get my kiss now, honey?"
"I suppose I promised." Lester gave the area a brief scan. "Quickly, before Jess sees us and pulls out that blasted camera again."
The kiss may have been a bit uncoordinated and fairly chaste for them, but it was most certainly an excellent prize. Becker let his head rest against Lester's for a moment afterwards.
"Hils, sweetheart, you'd tell me if something was bothering you, wouldn't you?"
"Yeah, sure. 'm not bothered, promise." He was sort of surprised that Lester had even asked. Hadn't he seemed happy enough?
"It's just that, well, you have drunk quite a lot."
Oh. That was why. "Just wanted to relax."
Becker felt Lester exhale against his skin. "You were nervous."
"I don't get nervous!" Becker protested, offended. "It's just weird, isn't it? You and me with all of them. Thought the drinking would make it less weird."
"Did it work?"
"Dunno. I just don't care if it's weird anymore."
"You're cute when you're drunk," Lester said, that softness in his eyes that always made Becker feel like he must be the luckiest person alive. How many people got to have someone like Lester look at them like that?
But that didn't mean he was going to let that horrendous statement slide. "Am not. That may be the most awful thing you've ever said to me."
"I know. I'm an awful person." Lester sounded disturbingly proud of himself.
"You are. I'll have to think of some way to teach you a lesson."
"Please do. I rather enjoy your lessons."
Becker blinked in surprise because there was no way Lester would have admitted that were Becker sober.
Before he could reply, however, Connor interjected, "There's a loo around back, you know. You guys might want to make use of it before I'm traumatised for life."
That made Lester take a step back, regrettably. He smoothed a hand over his hair. "While I appreciate the information, Connor, I can assure you that I certainly have no plans to ever engage in the sort of activity you're implying in a public bathroom. Just think of what I could catch."
"What are you talking about? I can't even count the number of times we've had sex in a public bathroom," Becker couldn't help but remind him.
The thwap he received to the back of his head wasn't even a surprise. "You seem to be forgetting all the incriminating things I could say about you, precious," Lester said.
Becker leaned in to press his mouth up to Lester's ear, relishing the quiver of Lester's body. "Possibly, but we both know very well that you care much more about people knowing what I could say about you. Especially because I'm drunk and don't really give a shit right now."
"It's strange that I understand your logic better when you're drunk."
"My logic is always impeccable, I'll have you know."
"In your head, I'm sure it is. However, I must say that I'm impressed you not only remember what 'impeccable' means, but you can still pronounce it properly."
"I'm impressive in a lot of ways." Becker waggled his eyebrows.
Seemingly against his better judgment, Lester laughed. "That was terrible. I'm laughing because I'm so embarrassed for you."
It was pretty terrible, Becker had to admit. Still, anything that got Lester to laugh was well worth it, in his opinion.
Lester reached up and stroked his hand through Becker's hair, tugging at the ends. "Your hair's getting quite long, Hils. It isn't like you to forget to get a trim."
"I might keep it like this. What do you think? I know how much you like my hair."
Lester feigned cleaning out his ears. "I may need you to repeat that. Did you actually ask for my input in regards to your hair? And here I was thinking that was the one topic that would be perpetually off-limits."
Lester smiled, that affectionate, indulgent smile that was typically reserved for his son David. "I have complete faith in you making the right decision, pumpkin." Then he tangled his fingers further into the locks of Becker's hair. "But if you must know, yes, I quite like it like this."
Becker kissed Lester's nose, because he could, and because there was no denying that he was pleased. Then he said, "Jess has been taking pictures of us this whole time, you know."
"Yes, I did realise," Lester said, sighing. He pushed Becker away and then held out his hand. "All right, Jess, let me see them. I want to know how silly you've recorded me being so at least it won't be a surprise."
Jess started to hand him the camera but paused. "Only if you promise me you're not going to delete any of them."
"Yes, fine, I promise."
She narrowed her eyes as she regarded him, as if gauging his sincerity. "All right. But remember that I have witnesses, so no going back on your word."
Becker's eyes lingered on Lester as he started to examine the pictures but then he let his gaze wander around the pub. Most of the tables were occupied, a constant buzz of conversation filling the room, but the most exciting thing going on involved the two guys who looked like students playing darts next to them and the clearly intoxicated young lady in a very tiny skirt calling encouragement. Becker was torn between the desire to admire her legs and to cover her up-- imagine Maria going out in something like that.
"It's dull in here," Becker complained to Jess, who appeared to be the only person interested in listening to him.
"And what would liven it up for you, Becker? Some dancing?" She was smirking, like she expected Becker to scoff or respond sarcastically.
Becker, however, gave her words careful consideration. Actually… "I wouldn't object to it."
Her big eyes went even bigger. "You wouldn't? But you don't dance. Do you?"
"I dance very well, thank you. I danced at Connor and Abby's wedding, remember?" He dearly hoped she remembered, as he'd danced with Jess herself. More than once.
"Yes, but that's different. You don't seem like you would-- Never mind, I've a feeling this is one of those times where I'd better stop before I put my foot in it. I'm sure you're a wonderful dancer."
"All right then," Becker said, pride appeased. He supposed he could see where she was coming from, though. Formal events were one thing and even then he often had to be coerced. Otherwise, his dancing tended to be restricted to when he was in clubs, drunk and on the pull. It probably went without saying that he hadn't done that in a while.
"Next time we'll go to a club and I'll dance with you as much as you want. Or, even better, you can convince Lester to dance with you and I'll make use of the video function on my phone." Jess smiled impishly and Becker found himself matching it. Yes, that would be brilliant.
But now she'd put the idea in his head, Becker felt rather single-minded about the whole thing. He was bored and needed some new entertainment, not to mention he was feeling the need to prove once and for all that he really could dance. "Who says we can't dance now?"
"You want me to dance with you? In the pub? To--" Jess stopped and listened for a moment. "To whatever this is that they're playing?"
"Jess." Becker tried out his pout.
"Okay, I'll do it," she said, laughing. "It's a wonder Lester can ever say no to you with a face like that."
As Becker spun her around the room, dodging the other patrons and ignoring the looks broadcast in their direction, he said, "Want to know a secret? Lester never does say no to me."
When they returned to where the others had snagged a table, Jess was breathless and giggling. Becker took her hand and bowed over it. "Thank you for the pleasure of this dance, Miss Parker."
Jess bobbed a curtsey. "Thank you, sir, for asking me."
"You are utterly ridiculous," Lester said when Becker sat down next to him, but he also put his hand on Becker's thigh high enough to be inappropriate.
Connor said, "We would've joined you but this one's a bit of a bore." He nudged Abby in the side and she shoved him hard enough to knock him off-balance, grinning.
"I think you scared them enough with your idea of dancing at our wedding, Connor."
At that point, Becker was content to sit and listen to everyone chatting, contributing to the conversation only infrequently. He couldn't remember now why he had been nervous because this was brilliant. Lester was brilliant, their friends were brilliant, and he wished they'd done this a long time ago.
When Lester came back from a trip to the bathroom, Becker stood up to greet him because drinking this much tended to make him horny and he'd been very good the whole evening when really what he had wanted to do was drag Lester outside and suck him off. Or maybe let Lester fuck him against a wall, he hadn't decided. He put his mouth right up against Lester's ear. "I want to suck your cock." He let his hand drift down the front of Lester's trousers and felt Lester shiver against him.
"We'll come back to that thought if you're still conscious when we get home, shall we?" Lester kept his hands on Becker's shoulders but addressed the others. "I think it's far past time that I got this one home and into bed."
"Probably a good idea," Abby agreed. "I'm really glad you decided to come out with us."
"Well, it wasn't the absolute worst way to spend an evening," Lester allowed. "But I must say that I hope Becker will control himself in the future."
"Hey," Becker protested because he felt it was expected of him. Anyway, he hadn't been that bad.
"I don't know, I think Becker was the highlight of the night. He definitely provided most of the entertainment," Connor said.
"I'm standing right here, you know."
"Yeah, not so great to be talked around, is it, mate?"
"James, Connor's being rude," Becker said, more of a whine creeping into his words than he had intended.
"Boys," Lester said and stopped, a frown creasing his forehead. "Wonderful. Not only has my lover reverted into a pre-pubescent boy, but I was about to scold my employees as if I were their father."
"Really time to go then," Abby said, moving in for a quick hug that was too sneaky for Lester to avoid. She went after Becker next, but he had no desire to avoid it.
He decided he quite liked hugs, actually, and when Abby released him, he voluntarily hugged Connor.
Connor patted him on the back and said, "Okay, Becker, this is nice and everything, but you can let go now, preferably before you bruise my ribs."
"Do I get a hug, too?" Jess asked, spreading her arms wide.
Becker squeezed Jess in a hug, lifting her up off her feet so that she giggled. "Becker!" she exclaimed. "You are possibly the sloppiest, most affectionate drunk I've ever known."
"Thank you," he said seriously. In what he hoped was a discrete whisper, he said, "Don't tell the others, but you're my favourite. After James, I mean, of course."
She kissed his cheek and whispered back, "I won't tell a soul."
"You know," Connor was saying, "next time I think we should try to get Lester drunk."
"I'm afraid I must object. No one wants to see that," Lester claimed.
"The more curious I am, the harder I'm going to work to make this happen."
"He isn't joking," Abby chimed in. "He really isn't."
"You do all remember that I can have any one of you fired?" Lester asked.
"Nah, you wouldn't. You need us. Plus, you like us." Connor's voice was filled with confidence.
"Try me. You wouldn't believe the amount of applications I've been sent since the ARC went public. I've had some highly qualified offers that make you lot look like children."
Connor's eyes went wide for a second before he recovered himself. "If I didn't know you so well, that might have hurt my feelings."
"It's not a very good idea to underestimate me. Although, I would like to know why it is exactly that none of you take me seriously anymore." Lester waited in silence like he genuinely wanted an answer.
Becker took the opportunity to snake his arms around Lester's waist and kiss the back of his neck.
Lester sighed. "Right. Never mind. Good night and I hope not to see any of you until Monday." With that, he took Becker by the hand and brought him through the pub and to his car.
Becker dozed most of the way back to their flat, startled into wakefulness again when Lester opened the car door.
"Come along," he said, wrapping his hands around Becker's arms. "I would appreciate some help as I'm not sure if you've noticed, but you are a fair bit bigger than me."
Becker swung his legs out of the door and then tumbled into Lester's arms, nearly knocking him flat. "Oops," he said. His head was spinning and he had to momentarily close his eyes.
"Yes, oops," Lester said and Becker could practically hear him rolling his eyes. He put a guiding arm around Becker's waist and led him out of the car park.
He was loath to admit it, but Becker was grateful for the support. He had started to really feel the effects of the alcohol, becoming unsteady on his feet and faintly nauseous. They didn't meet anyone on the way to their door, thankfully, as Becker was aware enough to know that he would be rather embarrassed for anyone to see him like this.
Lester brought him wordlessly into their bedroom, switching the light on. "Let's get you out of these clothes and into bed. I think I'll have to take a rain check on that blowjob." He tugged Becker's shirt off over his head, a tiny smile on his face as he ran his hand through Becker's hair. "Look at that. Normally it takes an enthusiastic bout of sex for your hair to look this messy-- and for you not to care that it looks this messy."
Becker made a half-hearted attempt to fix it. "It's your fault. You kept sticking your hands in it." He took a breath and blew it out. "I don't feel so great anymore, James."
"I wonder why," Lester said, sliding his hands down Becker's shoulders. "You are a mess, aren't you?"
And suddenly Becker had to look away from him, something like shame building up inside. "Please don't look at me like that."
"Like you're disappointed."
"Oh, Hils," Lester said, using the tips of his fingers to turn Becker's face towards his again. "I'm not disappointed. I'm only thinking that you'd better make it to the bathroom before you're sick because I don't fancy the bill to get vomit cleaned out of this carpet. I'm also slightly concerned about how you're going to feel in the morning."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, my love, I'm sure."
Becker dropped his head down to Lester's shoulder, breathing in. He still smelled nice, even after spending hours in a pub. Becker had commented once on how Lester always smelled amazing. It's called cologne, Lester had said. You might try it sometime. Of course, Becker knew perfectly well that Lester liked how he smelled, as much as he protested otherwise.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Lester's fingers were running up and down the back of Becker's neck.
Without even thinking about it, Becker answered him. Apparently it wasn't enough that he be pathetically melancholy, he needed to run his mouth off as well. Then again, he'd been running his mouth off all night. "Do you know what I remember most about my father? I remember the way he used to look at me, like I'd let him down. Like I was a disappointment. And I couldn't... I couldn't bear for you to look at me like that."
Lester's response was immediate and firm. "You've never disappointed me."
The quick denial made Becker feel improbably worse. Russ' face popped into Becker's mind and he wondered how Lester could ever have forgiven him when he couldn't even forgive himself. "That's not true. I've--"
"Shush. I'm sorry that you have such poor memories of your father but you don't have to prove yourself to me. I love you, but I'm not your keeper."
But that doesn't mean I don't care what you think. Because I fucking care. There was probably something deeply wrong with the fact that Becker didn't think he had cared so much about having someone's approval since his father had died. He was probably a psychologist's wet dream. It was undoubtedly a good thing that Becker was pretty sure he wouldn't remember this in the morning. "I think I need to go and be sick now."
The worried set of Lester's features softened a bit and he gestured Becker to the bathroom, wherein Becker promptly threw up what felt like the entire contents of his stomach. He hunched miserably in front of the toilet while Lester rubbed his back.
"I knew I shouldn't have let you eat my chips," Lester said.