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the coming storm

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“It’s really coming down out there.”

Lost somewhere in the hell of requisitions forms and incident reports and planning memos, Beck hasn’t been taking too much notice of anything bar the forest of paperwork on his desk. Heather’s quiet voice, though, has a way of breaking through the clutter of his thoughts. Lifting his head, he sees her standing in the doorway of his office, a soft smile curling her lips. Just the sight of her is enough to bring an answering smile to his own face.

They stay there, just like that, for a moment, just smiling at each other. Thus distracted from his paperwork, he notices that, yes, sure enough raindrops are beating a steady tattoo against the roof and windows. Heather is completely dry though, so she hasn’t been out in it, has been here with him, wading through her own paper forest.

“Good job I wasn’t thinking of heading home any time soon,” he says mildly. He’s rewarded - as he knew he would be - by an honest to God pout. “What, you had other plans?” He’s teasing now, in a way he wouldn’t usually do in the office. But it’s late and he knows they’re the only two still left here so he figures he’s safe enough.

Heather crosses her arms over her chest, leans against the doorframe as she lets her eyes flick over him. Even in the dim light of the office, he can see the glint there, wishes he could read her mind and see what she’s thinking.

Then again, he has a pretty good idea.

And when she lifts one shoulder in a shrug, says, “One or two,” he knows his idea was right on the money. “They did not involve paperwork.”

Beck leans back in his chair, casting a rueful eye on the stacks of paper still awaiting him. “They never mentioned this in basic,” he allows. A snicker greets that and he inclines his head, conceding her unspoken point. Since the Attacks, there’s very little that has happened to him that was covered in basic training. “I know, I know... there’s a lot of that going around.”

Heather grins as she takes a step into his office. “And rain? Did they teach you anything about rain?”

“To avoid it, mostly.” He remembers doing training drills in full battle gear in pouring rain; it’s not one of his favourite memories, any more than the real thing had been. “Though lately I’ve learned it’s good for crops.” And goodness knows, with food shortages a real danger, they need all the help with crops that they can get. “Or so they tell me.”

The rain intensifies against the window, a gust of wind coming with it that rattled the panes. Heather actually shudders, crosses to the window and looks out, standing with her back to him. “I think a storm’s coming.”

He knows that the possibility had been forecast, knows too that the prediction was for a mild one, certainly nothing on a par with the worst of the storms that have swept through Jericho in the years he’s been living here. “It’s nothing we can’t handle,” he tells her, even if the rain is currently worse than had been predicted. “We’ve been through worse.”

Heather looks over her shoulder at him, meets his gaze steadily. She doesn’t blink, just lifts one eyebrow. “Have we?”

And just like that, she’s not talking about the weather any more.

He stifles a sigh as he stands. “It’s not three years ago anymore,” he reminds her, thinking back to those first days of his time here, the stares and distrust that had followed him everywhere. “Some people even... and I’ll whisper it...” He stands behind her, lays his hands on her shoulders and leans in close so that his lips are close to her ear. “...like me now.”

She actually giggles at that, reaches up to cover his hands with hers. Leaning back against him, she lets him support her weight and he slides his hands down from her shoulders to her elbows and back up. “And how do you think they’ll react when they hear we’ve been together for almost a year now and we haven’t told anyone?”

That’s an easy one to answer. “You mean when they hear that we’ve kept a secret for that long in this town?” She twists her head back so that she can look up at him and for all that he’s smiling, he’s also completely serious. “Heather, I don’t think they’ll be angry; I think they’ll be asking us for lessons.”

She smiles at that too, chuckles her acknowledgement. “It’s just...” Her voice trails off as she turns her gaze back to the window and the rain outside. He waits for her to gather her thoughts, presses a kiss to the top of her head as he does so. “It’s been pretty good the last little while, when it’s been just us.” He’s not going to disagree with that. “And now we have to let everyone in. I just wish things didn’t have to change.”

He slides his hands down her arms again but this time he doesn’t stop at her elbows. This time, he slides his hands around so that they come to rest over her stomach. At this time of day, as it has for much of the last week, a slight swell has appeared and, as has also happened for most of the last week, his eyes and his hands are drawn there like a magnet. Which Heather takes great delight in teasing him about, but once upon a time, he’d never thought he’d have a chance at happiness like this again and, having lost it once, he knows better than most not to take a single second for granted.

“We’re not going to be able to keep it quiet for much longer,” he says, the fingers of his right hand tracing circles around her navel. “And a good thing too...” She huffs out a breath, like she knows what he’s going to say, and she probably does. “You need to see Kenchy... get you both checked out.”

“I keep telling you... I’m fine.” Despite her words, she doesn’t sound exasperated, is actually smiling.

“I know you are.” He drops his head to her shoulder, places a quick kiss there. “Just... humour me, ok?”

“Ok...” Heather sighs exaggeratedly, like he’s asking the world of her. Then she turns in his arms, reaching up and threading her fingers through the hair at the base of his neck. It makes him shiver. “But we don’t have to tell everyone right this minute, do we?”

Beck doesn’t even pretend to consider it. “No,” he tells her, his fingers finding her hips, kneading gently. “No, I think there are other things we can do tonight...”