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The International Bi-Annual Conference of Strategic Military Security in a Civilian Project Environment

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Becker had objected to attending the International Bi-Annual Conference of Strategic Military Security in a Civilian Project Environment.

Until he found out it was in Hawaii, at which point he conceded that Lester really did have a point and it was vital to the team's protection that he keep thoroughly up to date with developments in the field. Sir.

And now he was spending his lunch break lying by the pool in shades and a black speedo, while pretty boys and girls brought him multi-coloured drinks with fruit salads balanced on top. This was far better than lunch breaks at the ARC which, if they happened at all, generally consisted of whatever he'd grabbed from Tesco on the way in.

He stretched luxuriously and considered diving into the pool for a couple of quick lengths. The thing was, the pool was currently populated by a selection of military personnel at the peak of physical fitness. And the view was so much better from here...

"Anybody sitting here?" an American asked.

Becker looked up, squinting into the sun despite his shades. The man was a little above average height, with dark, gravity-defying hair, dogtags hanging against a slightly furry chest, and a condensation-slicked beer bottle in one hand. He would, Becker decided, have looked even better in something tighter than the brightly coloured, baggy board shorts he was wearing, but even with them, he was distinctly easy on the eyes.

"Help yourself," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Becker."

The man shook his hand before sitting down, and Becker could feel the tell-tale callouses of a man who used a gun a lot. "Sheppard," the man said, and cocked his head with a grin. "I'm guessing you aren't from around here."

"However could you tell?" Becker drawled, playing up his accent just a little. "Are any of us?"

Sheppard nodded in the direction of a wiry, dark-haired man. "McGarrett's Hawaii born and bred. Currently attached to some HPD unit."

"Why the hell did he bother coming if it wasn't just to get a week in Hawaii?" Becker asked. "If the conference was in London, I wouldn't have stepped through the front door."

"London, huh?" Sheppard took a long pull on his beer. "What do you do there?"

And Becker should stick to the official story of security for the MoD but it did get tedious. Especially when nobody would believe the truth. "Hunt dinosaurs."

Sheppard considered it. "Cool," he said, finally. "I hunt aliens."

"Are there a lot of aliens in America?"

"More than you'd think. Do you get a lot of dinosaurs in London?"

"More than you'd think," Becker said. "There are these rifts in time and space and they keep coming through. It gets messy."

Sheppard nodded thoughtfully. "It would."

"How about the aliens?"

"Oh, I mostly deal with the ones in another galaxy. There's a different team for the ones on Earth."

"Makes sense," Becker agreed. "You can't be popping back from another galaxy every time aliens threaten to invade."

"Exactly." Sheppard finished his beer and gestured with his bottle towards Becker's empty glass. "Get you another?"

"Thanks. I'm on the Singapore Slings." He raised an eyebrow in silent challenge.

"I figure," Sheppard said, "that the only men who'd drink something like that in public are the ones who can kill you in nineteen different ways with just their pinkie finger."

Becker made a show of considering it. "The nineteenth involves both pinkie fingers. Does that count?"

"Close enough," Sheppard said, and headed towards the bar. He came back with a Singapore Sling and something pink-ish in a highball glass.

"Sex on the Beach?" Becker asked, nodding towards the second cocktail.

Sheppard tilted his head and didn't quite grin. "Is that an offer?"

No would be a lie. Becker wasn't entirely certain that Yes wouldn't result in a punch in the face. So he just took the Singapore Sling out of Sheppard's hand and took a sip without saying anything.

Which seemed to have been the right response, because Sheppard settled back onto the lounger next to Becker's. "I'm thinking," he said, "of blowing off the afternoon sessions and going surfing instead."

"You mean learning how to give orders to your civilian boss isn't the highlight of the conference for you? I'm shocked."

"I have a scientist who uses long words at my boss until he's confused into obedience," Sheppard said. "It makes things easier."

Becker thought about his surviving scientists and the possibility of any of them giving orders to Lester. Or, in fact, anybody giving orders to Lester. "I think I need to get one of those," he said.

"Sounds like you need this afternoon's session, then," Sheppard said. "Shame. I was going to ask if you wanted to come with me."

Becker knew he should climb back into his uniform, take his uncomfortable seat amongst a pack of other people in uniform, and do his best to stay awake for the next three hours.

"Why attempt the impossible?" he said. "Surfing it is."