Warnings : Spoilers for pretty much everything that's ever happened in the series may lie within. Since this was completed LONG before the comic was released, any similarity to the events in the comics is purely coincidental.
Disclaimer/Claimer: I do not own nor am I affiliated with Jericho or CBS or any of the other PTB in relation to the show (although if anybody has a Major Beck just kickin' around with nothing to do, looking lonely...send him my way!). No infringement is intended. I'm just taking the characters out to play, and will do my best to show them a very, VERY good time. ;)
A/N: The following story has Half-naked!Beck, Interloper!Anita, Drunken!Heather and is really pretty crack-ish when it comes to characterization and situations. I hope you enjoy it anyway!! :D
Another two weeks of backbreaking labour passed. Heather was in great physical shape, but exhausted. She realized that pairs had formed in the harvesters between the soldiers and the townspeople. She had run into Corporal Bernstein and his lady at Bailey's the other night, and had seen Beck and Anita there just the night before. Beck had politely invited her to join them, and she just as politely refused, noticing that Anita barely acknowledged her presence. Heather was shocked at the intensity of the jolt of jealousy that shot through her when she saw the two of them together. When Heather got home that night she looked in her mirror and wondered when her natural appreciation of Beck's looks had turned into this intense attraction that seemed to be burning constantly and what on earth could she possibly do about it.
Tonight, as she headed to Bailey's, she was determined not to care if she saw Beck and Anita there again. She was meeting Jake and Emily for a drink, and then heading for bed; tomorrow was another day of hard work. But they only had one more field after the current one and the harvest would be completed; another three days of work, if the weather held.
The first person she saw was Beck; the second was Anita. Beck nodded a greeting and she nodded back with a shy smile. Mary then called her name and Heather went to her.
“Emily popped in, said she was going to be late. But Jake's here.” Mary nodded to the corner booth where Jake and Eric sat nursing some moonshine and chatting casually.
Heather thanked Mary and made some small talk while Mary made Heather's usual small shot of liquor mixed with lots of water.
Heather then went to the corner booth and slid in beside Eric. “Hey, guys,” she said.
“Hey, Heather,” they greeted and enfolded her into their conversation about the town supplies, crime rate and other issues. Heather listened intelligently, asked appropriate questions and made some helpful suggestions.
“Whoops,” Eric said, “I think Mary needs me.” Heather let him out then slid back into the booth.
“How are you, Heather?” Jake asked, his eyes intent on her tired face.
“Exhausted. But we're almost done. Beck has already said I can have a week off once the harvest is finished. What about you?”
“The same. I'm sorry I haven't been able to help in the fields. All I can say is thank God for Beck's men!”
Heather nodded. “I know. We wouldn't have a hope of getting done if it weren't for them.” Heather took a sip of her drink and grimaced. “My God, I miss beer,” she sighed.
Jake laughed. “Me, too. Maybe that's the next task for you. How can we make beer?”
Heather looked thoughtful. “Or wine?” she said, then grinned. “Anything but this homebrew all the time.”
Jake nodded and raised his glass. “To better booze tomorrow,” he said. Heather laughed and they clinked glasses. Jake glanced around the busy bar and frowned.
“What?” Heather asked.
“Wow, Beck looked really pissed for a second.”
Heather followed his gaze, but Beck looked as calm as always from what she could see.
“At Anita?” she squeaked.
“No – he was glaring at me. I don't think I've done anything wrong.”
“Well, you haven't blown anything up, or shot anything for awhile,” Heather said thoughtfully, “or are you holding out on me?” she teased, a wide grin on her face.
Jake laughed back. “You'd be the first to know if I had!” He glanced over at Beck and Anita. “He's doing it again,” Jake marvelled.
Heather frowned and turned to look at Beck again and met his blazing eyes. She quickly spun back to Jake. “You're right,” she hissed. “He looks...”
“Yes! What on earth -”
Jake was looking thoughtful. “You know,” he said slowly, “I wonder...”
“Wonder what?” Heather prompted when Jake didn't continue.
“Nothing,” Jake said, focusing back on her. “You've heard the town is planning to start restoring all the old equipment out at the museum once the harvest is over?”
“What? No,” Heather said.
“It's Gray's idea – well, now that you've shown him it can really be done. You did most of the work on that thresher you guys were using.”
“Hmmm,” Heather said thoughtfully. “It won't be easy. We may not be able to jerryrig repairs on everything. Has anybody completed an assessment of what's needed?”
Jake looked a little uncomfortable. “Actually, Gray wants your help with that as soon you're finished with the harvest.”
“My help?” Heather repeated, stunned. “Why me?”
“Well, you've proven you can do it, which is more than anybody else in town can say. Plus you're the best organizer we have – you're the one who coordinated the harvesting effort in the first place and got all the farmers to agree. You'd be a whiz at coordinating the work as well as finding or making parts. You're also pretty creative so if anybody can come up with a solution -”
“Enough! You don't need to suck up to me.”
Jake grinned at her. “Thanks. Gray was also kicking around the thought of throwing a party for you guys when you're done. You know, say thanks and maybe use it as a way to really show Beck and his men that we're glad they're here.”
Heather smiled. “That'd be nice. And it's pretty big of you to support the idea,” she cautiously added.
Jake shrugged uncomfortably. “Yeah, well - Beck has done right by us ever since he saw the light. He and Hawkins have kept this town safe – at great risk to themselves.”
Heather reached over and covered Jake's hand with hers. “So have you,” she said softly.
Jake gave a half-hearted smile and squeezed her fingers. “You've always had faith in me,” he said leaning forward, his voice low and husky. “That's -”
“May we join you?”
Both Jake and Heather looked up, startled. Beck and an obviously disgruntled Anita were standing beside the table.
“Sure,” Jake said quickly. Heather slid over and Beck slid beside her, with Anita on the edge of the seat.
“You were looking very intense,” Anit said with a meaningful glance at Beck. “I hope we're not interrupting something.”
Heather frowned and shook her head. “No,” she said slowly. “We were talking, that's all.”
“About how much we miss beer,” Jake added, his smile challenging them to question his statement.
“And wine,” Heather added.
“Wine,” Anita said with a throaty moan. “Oh, I miss that, too. Any chance of getting a supply for me from somewhere, Edward?” she purred, leaning into him seductively and stroking her fingers lightly down his arm.
Both Jake and Heather stared.
Beck looked uncomfortable. “Chances are no,” her replied coolly enough, “but my supply sergeant is a whizz at finding supplies. I'll ask him to see what he can do.”
“Thank you,” Anita smiled coyly, “I'll definitely make it worth your while.” She dropped a light kiss on his cheek. “I have to leave for a moment,” she murmured with another smile, “but I'll be right back.”
She slid out of the booth and sashayed towards the ladies' bathroom.
“Wow,” Jake said after a moment of stunned silence.
“Yes,” Beck said drily.
“Edward?!” Heather squeaked.
“It is my name,” Beck said, “but I prefer to be called Beck.”
“Wow,” Jake said again, staring at Beck with wide eyes. “You poor bastard!”
Heather frowned at Jake. “Hey! She's just...” Heather hesitated.
“Trying way too hard?” Jake asked.
Heather squirmed uncomfortably. “She must really like you,” she said to Beck, trying not to notice that Beck's leg was almost touching hers. If she didn't get out of this booth soon, she would need another drink, she thought.
“I think she just wants a notch on her bedpost,” Beck said drily.
“Beck!” Heather gasped.
“Heather, she's doing everything but stripping down and taking him on the table!”
“Jake!” Heather admonished.
“It's true,” Jake said. “It's not comfortable to be chased that blatantly,” he added.
“Is that how you felt about me?” Heather shot at him.
Both Jake and Beck blinked. “What?” Jake said.
“I kissed you right on Main Street and then you didn't talk to me for a month. Was that why? Because I chased you too blatantly?”
Jake stared at Heather and Beck glared at Jake. Jake slowly shook his head. “No, that's not why,” he said softly.
“Then what was it?” Heather challenged.
“You were sweet and innocent and hopeful and I didn't deserve you. I wasn't the man you thought I was and I knew I would only hurt you in the end. I thought – I hoped - it was better to hurt you a little in the beginning, with the possibility you would forgive me, rather than have you hate me in the end.”
Heather stared at him with her clear, honest blue eyes. “Thank you,” she said as Anita rejoined the table.
“What did I miss?” Anita asked brightly.
“Nothing,” Beck said hastily. “Reminiscing.”
“Oh,” Anita said and proceeded to be extremely charming to both men while reluctantly including Heather. She had toned down her blatant come-ons to Beck and Heather wondered if she had heard part of the conversation as she walked away. Anita was also an intelligent woman; she could read Beck's expressions as well as Heather could.
Heather tried to ignore Beck's presence beside her, but when Emily came and pushed Jake over, Heather had to move even closer to Beck to accommodate her and her leg kept bumping into his under the table. She kept trying to shift away from him but she kept bumping into Jake, who began giving her odd looks the more often it happened. Heather was starting to feel more and more flustered, until after one such bump, Beck turned to her, reached under the table and grasped her knee. She gave a violent start.
“Sorry – cramp,” she said in response to everyone's questioning looks.
Beck leaned over and whispered, “It's okay. I don't bite.”
Heather did her best to relax, even though the feel of Beck's hand on her knee lingered long after his hand was gone.
The group dispersed soon after. Everyone was tired and tomorrow was another day of hard work. Heather wasn't sure how it happened, and she was sure Anita was equally puzzled, but Beck ended up leaving with Heather and Anita was escorted by Jake and Emily.
Jake said good-night to Heather with a gleam of amusement in his eyes, which Heather took to be amusement at Anita's expense.
Beck and Heather ambled along for awhile in silence.
“I can hear you thinking,” Beck said, his voice amused. “Ask me what you want to ask me.”
Heather stared at him, startled. Then she sighed and nodded. “If you're not interested in Anita, why do you take her to dinner every night? You're basically stringing her along. Are you sure you're not the one looking for a notch on the bedpost?”
Beck chuckled slightly. “Well, you always do get straight to the point.” He sighed. “I don't take her to dinner every night. She's obviously paid attention to my schedule and she always happens to arrive at the office just as I'm ready to leave. Then, since we're both going to Bailey's at the same time -”
“You may as well eat together.”
Beck shrugged. “Better than eating alone. Sometimes. To Anita's credit, she's not always like she was earlier tonight. On the other hand, she's also been...” he hesitated, searching for the right term.
“She's also been -?” Heather prompted.
“Even more blatant,” he said slowly. “I honestly think she's very lonely and very afraid, even now when the truce is in place and we've been relatively peaceful.” Beck looked thoughtful. “You know, I think I may introduce her to my supply sergeant. I think they might hit it off.”
Heather chuckled, then pondered the idea. “You know, you might be right,” she nodded.
“Are you holding up okay?” Beck asked, breaking the comfortable silence that had fallen between them for the last few minutes.
Heather nodded. “Of course,” she replied. “You've asked me that every day,” she added with a smile to take any implied sting out of her words.
“I know. But you're so...” Beck paused.
“I'm so what?” Heather asked curiously.
“You seem so fragile,” Beck said slowly, “I'm always worried the fieldwork will be too much.”
“Fragile?” Heather echoed.
“I'm sorry – have I offended you?”
“Fragile?” Heather repeated. “You think I'm fragile?”
“I have offended you,” Beck sighed. “I'm sorry.”
“No, no, I'm not offended,” Heather replied and digested this in silence. “Thank you,” she said finally.
“I'm a tomboy – always have been,” she said, her voice slightly stunned. “No one has ever called me fragile before or worried that the work might be too much for me. I mean, I'm more likely to have grease under my nails than polish on top of them.”
Beck gave her a half smile. “That has nothing to do with it,” he said.
“Thank you,” Heather repeated, and gave him her mega-watt smile.
Beck smiled back, his eyes warm and they finished their walk in silence.
The next three days continued the pattern set by the previous weeks, only now Heather tried to watch Beck as much as possible to memorize the look of his body and the sleek grace of his muscles as they moved beneath his skin. Harvest would soon be over and she wouldn't see Beck out of uniform again until next year – if he was still in Jericho. Heather quickly shut down that thought. It was bad enough that she wouldn't see Beck half-naked anymore, to think about never seeing him at all was too much.
She noticed Anita no longer cornered Beck for private conversations, but instead greeted him pleasantly, served him water and let him go. Heather finally asked him what was going on at the end of the second day and Beck told her he had introduced Anita to his supply sergeant and he'd been right – Anita had turned her attention to the supply sergeant instead. Heather was inordinately relieved at the news since the other possibility – that Anita had gotten her notch on the bedpost and now the novelty had worn off – made her stomach churn.
Heather knew her feelings toward Beck were shifting from pure lust to something more. The lust was powerful, and enjoyable, but it was mixed with a genuine emotional connection to the man within the body. Heather could only hope these new feelings would fade once they were back in their usual roles and Beck was back in uniform.
On the last day of harvest, as the last wagonload of corn headed into Jericho, everyone in the field began to cheer as it drove out of sight. It reminded Heather of New Year's Eve, as everyone whooped and hugged and kissed each other. Beck picked Heather up in a bear hug and spun her around, his face alight with joy. He planted a hard, celebratory kiss on her lips, then hugged her again before Heather was plucked from Beck's arms and, like all the other women who had worked in the fields, she was hugged and kissed by each man on the team and left flushed and laughing.
“Listen!” Heather called, as people began to head off to town, “let's get to Bailey's – the first round's on Major Beck!”
“Hey!” Beck protested as the group laughed and cheered.
Heather laughed up at him. “The second round's on me!” she said and the group cheered louder.
The group walked into town, talking and laughing. The work had been hard, but they had gotten it done and now the town would have enough food for the winter and the harvesters felt justified in celebrating their achievement. And it was something to remember and a story to share with their children.
They trooped into Bailey's, dusty, dirty, half-naked and in high spirits.
“Hey, hey, hey!” Mary called out as they tumbled in the door.
“We're done, Mary!” Heather called, her mega-watt grin lighting up the dim confines of the bar. “Your finest shine for everybody!”
Mary laughed and glanced at Beck, then did a double-take. “Holy crap,” she blurted, her eyes wide, “now I know what put Anita in such a tizzy.”
Heather was amused and pleased to see Beck actually blush. “And now you're blushing,” she whispered to him. He shot her a mock glare but then laughed himself.
“I like to think I put all the women in a tizzy, Mary,” he teased as he swaggered to the bar.
Mary did a mock swoon and then laughed at him. “As enjoyable as this is,” Mary said, “I'm gonna need help from all the muscles in the room.”
Several of the men started forward to join Beck.
“I meant the ladies!” Mary called. The women whooped and laughed, then followed Mary to the cellar where she said, “I have a surprise.” She flung open the storage room door and the women gasped.
“Beer!” Heather sighed almost reverentially.
Mary grinned. “Yes! Arrived last night.”
“But how? Where?” Heather asked, stunned.
“Don't ask – but Beck got it somehow.”
“Beck?” Heather exclaimed.
Mary nodded. “He said something about people missing beer, so he sent his men on a mission. I didn't ask questions, I just kissed him. But he insisted the harvesters got the first crack at it.”
Heather just stared at Mary. “Wow,” she whispered.
“I know! Now grab a couple cases and let's get back upstairs.”
The women quickly did as Mary asked and were greeted by whoops when the men saw what they carried. Beck, now wearing his t-shirt, Heather was sad to see, hastened forward and took the beer from her hands.
“Were you surprised?” he asked, his eyes hopeful, his smile almost shy.
Heather grinned at him and impulsively flung her arms around his neck and gave him a fierce hug. “Thank you,” she said. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”
Beck, his hands full of beer, bent his head into her shoulder. “You're welcome,” he said.
Heather stepped back and grinned at him. “Let's have a beer,” she said.
Beck nodded and moved to put the cases on the bar then picked up the bottles Mary had already opened for the harvesters.
When everyone had a drink in their hands, Beck raised his bottle. “A toast – to a job well done!”
Everyone raised their bottles or glasses and cheered and drank deeply of their first beer in months. Heather closed her eyes in bliss at the taste. When she opened her eyes, she met Beck's serious gaze. She swallowed quickly and asked, “What?”
Beck slowly shook his head. “Nothing,” he said softly. “Let's sit,” he invited and they sat at the tables the others had pulled together.
The night was far advanced when Beck and Heather left Bailey's. Bailey's had quickly filled up when news of the beer got out. The jukebox had blared until the band arrived and people had danced regardless of what song was playing. The hard work of restoring the old equipment was looming on Heather's horizon – but that was something she'd worry about tomorrow. For now, she was happily drunk – very drunk – and being escorted home by a very handsome man.
And a tolerant one, she thought fuzzily as she staggered into him, and he put an arm around her to guide her. She wrapped an arm around his waist to steady herself and was laughing up at him when they bumped into Anita. Heather barely noticed the dismissive glance Anita gave her and she paid no attention to the small talk Anita made with Beck. Heather just leaned more and more heavily against Beck's side, trying to keep her balance and falling asleep.
Beck gently shook her awake. She dimly heard him say, “Sorry, Anita, we have to keep going,” and then they were walking again.
At Heather's place, Beck asked for and got Heather's key and Beck maneuvered her into the house and put her on the couch. Heather smiled at him, sweetly drunk and exhausted and Beck knelt on the floor beside her.
“Will you be okay?” he asked. “You're very drunk.”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, “I'll be fine.” She smiled at him, then clumsily raised her hand to his face and caressed his cheek. She enjoyed the rasp of stubble against her palm and fingertips, her face suddenly serious.
“Thank you,” she said softly. “For everything.”
Beck's eyes seemed darker than ever. “Heather,” he said tightly, “are you going to remember anything in the morning?”
She slowly shook her head. “Probably not,” she said.
“Okay,” Beck sighed, lowered his head and kissed her. The kiss was hard and demanding and shocking to Heather in its intensity. When his tongue demanded entrance to her mouth, she could do nothing – wanted to do nothing – else but grant him entrance. She clung to him and rode the kiss as it became hotter and more devouring, kissing him back as hungrily as he kissed her. She cried out in protest when he abruptly broke the kiss.
She opened glazed eyes to see Beck panting for breath. “Why are you stopping?” Heather asked blurrily.
“Not remembering a kiss is one thing; not remembering sex is another.”
“Oh,” she said, her eyes wide and vulnerable, her lips swollen and red. She heard Beck groan softly.
“I'm going to get you a blanket,” he said. “You'll probably be asleep when I get back.”
“Beck -” Heather said, struggling to sit up.
“Go to sleep,” Beck said brusquely but not unkindly. “If you remember this in the morning, we'll talk.”
“Okay,” Heather said, closed her eyes and went to sleep.