Characters: Beck, Heather, OCs
Disclaimer: No, still don't own Jericho...and no matter how hard I wish it, Beck never took off that darn uniform.
They worked for several days, and the team fell into a routine. Heather got her cheap thrills, she told herself ruefully, and worked hard enough to sleep at least part of the night without dreaming. But she had little appetite, although she made an effort to eat the lunches Anita and the others brought out to them. She found herself always eating with Beck as well; he made a point of coming to her when lunch was called, or when they had their breaks. It meant she had to eat; those dark eyes were too observant for her peace of mind. She thanked God that he never asked her direct questions; she wasn't sure she could lie to him a second time.
And as she worked, she planned. Old Mrs. Francis' barn would have to wait until after seeding was completed. The barn was pretty damaged and they might have to build a new one, provided they could find enough supplies. Heather wondered if they could build a sod barn; what did Old Mrs. Francis need it for, anyway? And would a sod barn even be possible? She wondered if she had anything on her bookshelves that would help her figure out what was possible and what wasn't.
Her mind whirling in all different directions, as well as thoughts of Beck below the surface, she didn't hear her name being called until she was knocked off her feet, and hit the ground, stunned and the breath knocked out of her, with a solid body on top of her.
"What - " she gasped, struggling against Beck's body pressing her into the ground. Her hands were trapped beneath her and Beck, and even though a part of her knew it was Beck, another part went into blind panic mode, and she kicked and struggled to free herself.
Beck struggled to calm her. He shifted the two of them and freed her hands then pinned them above her head when she struck out at him. He clamped a hand over her mouth when she let out the first scream. "It's me," he whispered harshly. "It's Beck. Heather - "
Heather's wide-eyed, shocked stare was vacant for a long moment, and then a spark of recognition lit her eyes. She blinked at him, then nodded. He cautiously removed his hand from her mouth.
"Please let my hands go," Heather whispered, her voice pleading. Beck immediately released her hands, and she visibly relaxed and became more controlled, although her breathing was still rapid from her panic attack.
"What's going on?" she asked, sounding more normal.
"Armed men were spotted earlier this morning. We just saw several of them on the hill over there," he moved his head to his right. "I've deployed our guard detail, but we decided to have everyone hit the deck. You didn't hear me yelling at you to get down, so I took you down. Just in time - shots were fired."
Heather stared at him. "Shots were fired?" she repeated, horrified and wondering how she could have missed both his yelling, and the sound of a gunshot. "Do you know the target?"
Beck gave her a long, assessing look. "You know the target as well as I do," he said, his voice dangerously calm. "Were you ever going to tell me?"
The world seemed to shrink to Heather, until there was no one but her, and Beck, and Beck's dark, mesmerizing eyes. She was suddenly very aware of his bare torso pressed against her, and how close his face was to hers. She licked her lips, recognizing the controlled rage in his eyes. "You have enough to worry about," she said, her voice a soft whisper.
Beck glanced over to his left, nodded, and levered himself away from her. "Coast is clear," he said, his voice grim. He stood, and held his hand out to her. He pulled her to her feet, holding her close to him for a moment, looming over her. "We'll discuss this later," he said softly, his voice hard and angry.
Heather watched him walk away, feeling shocked and light-headed. And terrified. She looked around, and saw that each soldier had protected one of the women of Jericho, and Beck was listening to a couple of uniformed soldiers, his legs spread, his hands on his hips. As Heather watched, he nodded once and spoke for a few moments, then saluted them as they went on their way. He turned and met her gaze, his own eyes blazing with anger, and she bit her lip and looked away.
Heather was no coward, but she didn't know if she could face an angry Beck after hardly any sleep, minimal food and still feeling rattled by the close shave and her panic attack. She didn't want to talk about Constantino or New Bern; she wanted to focus on her work, and to work until she fell into an exhausted sleep. She could feel her nerves twanging, and she began to desperately think of ways to avoid Beck. At least until tomorrow, she thought. She could face him tomorrow.
But how to avoid him? Her mind fretted, going to and fro, even as she continued working. She supposed she should be grateful he was letting her work, out here in the open - and something clicked in her mind, and she stopped dead in her tracks. She turned and glared at Beck's naked back as he worked, and for the first time she was not distracted by the smooth flow of well-defined muscles as he worked. It was all she could do not to walk up to him and clock him one.
Beck must have felt the weight of her glaring because he stopped working and turned to look at her. His eyes were as angry as hers, and she knew their next meeting alone would not be pleasant for either of them. She lifted her chin defiantly, then deliberately turned her back to him, made even angrier by the glimmer of amusement that warmed his eyes even as his face remained grim.
She studiously ignored him for the rest of the day. That evening, as the sun was setting, and storm clouds began building to the west, Anita made a special trip to the fields, arriving on horseback. As the rest of the crew started back to town, Anita went up to Heather.
"Old Mrs. Francis asked me to find you," Anita said after greeting Heather.
"Oh?" Heather asked, wondering if it was about the barn.
"She's spending the night in Jericho with her daughter," Anita said, "but it looks like a big storm is brewing." They both looked at the dark clouds building in the west, and moving rapidly closer. "She's not sure she closed the house up properly, and she wanted me to ask you to go out to her place and make sure everything is secure. She said you'd know what to do, and you can stay at her place tonight if you can't make it back into Jericho."
Heather stared at Anita for a long moment, feeling exhaustion creeping up on her. Even in spite of the exhaustion, she knew she would be awake with nightmares soon into the night. The incident earlier in the day would likely make the nightmares worse. But did it really matter if she had nightmares at her place, or at Old Mrs. Francis' place?
Heather sighed, and nodded. "Okay." She started to head away from the rest of the crew, who had already gone a fair distance back to Jericho. She paused. "Could I borrow your horse?" she asked Anita.
"I have to get him back to Jericho. Eric needs him to go out on patrol tonight. Sorry!" Anita said, shrugging.
Heather nodded dispiritedly. "Okay," she sighed. "Could you let Beck know where I've gone?" she said, then paused. "On second thought - never mind. I'm sure he'll find out some other way."
Anita frowned at her, then shrugged.
Heather started off to Old Mrs. Francis'. She wasn't too concerned about another attempt by Constantino's men; Beck had talked about a guard patrol, and after the incident earlier in the day, she was sure they had swept the area very carefully. She also suspected they were still around, keeping an eye on her and the area around her.
She stopped once and looked back. She saw Anita, still with the group, riding beside Beck, and Heather felt jealousy burn through her. Eric obviously wasn't waiting anxiously if Anita could chat with Beck on the way, Heather thought waspishly, angrily turning her back on the sight. She picked up her pace to get to the farm.