Extract from the diary of Bernice Summerfield
There's something a little bit liberating about finding out you're not the only person in the world who isn't exactly what they seem. Yes-- liberating. That's the word. It's nice to see that the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive in the twenty-sixth century, and actually quite flattering that such a successful and, well, dashing criminal would take an interest in little old me...
Benny peeled the sticky note off the page and crumpled it up, revealing the original entry beneath.
Oh, goddess. I've done it again. I've let a sweet-talking, blue-eyed, pretty-faced man get under my defences, only to discover that he was not in fact a charming rogue, but rather a complete git who only wanted me for my artefacts. And, just between you and me, diary, the very worst part of the whole humiliating episode is that I'm not entirely sure that it wasn't a fair trade-off.
Sometimes I worry that my self-esteem is very broken indeed...
* * *
Draconian Rim Worlds, year 2567
“Clive! Bring me a fine brush and another light, will you?”
Benny hunched over the oblong metal casing as Clive hurried over with the requested items.
“Whatcha got, boss?” he asked, squatting next to her in the dimly lit cavern.
“Our key to renewed funding for this dig, if we're lucky,” she muttered, flicking dust from the carved inscription spidering across the top of the object. “Eureka! An Ikkaban control sphere. I knew they'd been here! Clive, get the team in here right away. We've got five days to excavate this chamber properly, and get the artefacts back to the spaceport for pick up.”
Clive grinned at her and rushed back outside, calling for the others.
In the end, it took only three days. After netting not only the control sphere, but a memory cube and an intact thought projector as well, the archaeological team was ensconced at the largest hotel in the spaceport settlement, happily engaged in the age-old student ritual of drinking themselves silly down in the bar.
All right, Benny allowed as she drained her fourth tankard of ale. So maybe it wasn't only a student ritual.
Her deep thoughts were interrupted by that oldest and most venerable of chat-up lines...
“This seat taken?”
“That depends,” she replied. The newcomer quirked a dark eyebrow, a touch of humour evident in his vidstar-handsome features.
“On whether you intend to buy me a drink. The road to my heart-- and this bar stool-- is paved with liberal amounts of alcohol.” Benny paused to consider for a moment. “And maybe some food. I'm famished.”
The humour erupted into a full-blown grin, revealing even, white teeth and dimples which should probably be outlawed on the grounds that they constituted an unfair advantage during negotiations.
“I love a woman who knows what she wants. Professor Jack Harkness, at your service,” he offered, extending a hand.
Benny took it, returning the firm grip. “Professor Bernice Summerfield. Fancy that. So, as long as we're trading cliches, what's a nice academic like you doing in a place like this?”
“I'm on my way back to human space from the Draconian central worlds. Just off a research grant into the effects of warm fusion technology on atmospheric dynamics, and, well, if you want information about warm fusion, the Draconians are the ones to talk to. You?”
“Archaeological dig. My team and I are in from the field for a couple of days, waiting for a jump-ship to pick up the specimens we've unearthed so far.”
Harkness nodded, looking politely interested. “Before I get distracted,” he said, indicating her empty glass, “what are you having?”
Bernice felt her own smile break free. “I love a man who has his priorities straight. The house ale, and you'd better make it a pitcher.”
She studied him as he flagged down the robarman and placed the order for drinks and a plate of the local speciality dish-- some kind of deep-fried fungus, apparently. Charming, handsome, and just exactly the kind of man she had no business being in the same parsec with. Not with her track record in the romance department.
Still, he was buying... and it would be rude to leave before the drinks and food arrived...
* * *
“... and then before I could get the blaster out of Miriam's bodice, the whole thing just came crashing down around our ears... and there we were, just standing in the middle of the wreckage, half of us naked and the other half in this ridiculous green latex bondage gear, wondering where the Ogron had disappeared to!”
Bernice snorted ale through her nose, spluttering helplessly.
“You're making this up!” she managed eventually. “Goddess, at least I hope you're making it up...”
With the single-minded focus of the extremely inebriated, Bernice found her eyes drawn to Jack's well-defined forearms as he gestured, emphatically maintaining the veracity of the tale.
He was interrupted by that most dreaded of distractions-- the call for last orders. Benny dragged her attention away from the pretty, pretty muscles when she realised that he'd asked her a question.
“Wha--?” she started to ask, intent, apparently, on dazzling him with her brilliance.
“I said, do you want to go some place? The night is young, the company is gorgeous, and I still haven't told you the story about the Quarks and the spray deodorant.”
“I'd love to,” Benny found herself saying, in direct defiance of the little voice in the back of her head which kept repeating bad idea, bad idea, bad idea.
Jack smiled, showing teeth. “Terrific! Your place or mine? Though, I should warn you that mine is one of those economy sleeper units.”
“What, no mini-bar?” she answered, feigning dismay. “Definitely mine, in that case. I do have some standards, you know.”
Benny led him upstairs to her room, acutely aware of his strong, warm presence close behind her. Stopping at the door, she swiped her identicard, listening for the tell-tale snick of the lock disengaging before she turned to face her companion.
“Before we go in, I want to make it perfectly clear that this is a terrible idea, and I'm only doing it because I am very drunk indeed. Just so you know.”
Jack opened his mouth to say something, so she shut him up by grabbing his shirt and gluing her mouth to his as she pulled him backwards through the door and into her room. There followed a brief struggle for dominance, involving much groping and rubbing of bits against other bits, which ended up with Jack pressing up against her from behind, and doing wonderful things to the patch of skin behind her left ear with his tongue as he skilfully divested her of her clothing.
When the last scrap of cloth had disappeared into a random corner of the room, he urged her forward and onto the bed, easing her down to lie on her stomach. The soft cotton of his shirt brushed her shoulder blade as he leaned to whisper in her ear.
“Don't move, Gorgeous. I'll be right back.”
Benny tried hard to ignore the negative little Greek chorus chanting in her head as Jack's footsteps disappeared into the bathroom. A few rustlings and clinkings later, he reappeared by her side, the mattress dipping as he settled. His hand gently prevented her as she tried to roll over.
“Admittedly, I'm no expert,” she offered, “but wouldn't this be more effective if I was turned the other way 'round?”
Jack chuckled, and she shivered at the touch of naked flesh against hers as he straddled her hips. “Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Now, hush.”
Something warm and slick dribbled down her spine, and strong hands followed, sliding down her back and pressing firmly into the knotted muscles. The light floral scent of the hotel's complementary body lotion tickled her nose.
Oh, Goddess, this is SUCH... oomph... a bad... urgh... idea...
As the hands continued to push into tight muscles, the little internal voice mercifully shut up. When Jack flipped her over and started the same treatment on her front, Benny began to think that maybe this hadn't been such a bad plan, after all. By the time he reached the bits in between, she was firmly convinced that it was, in fact, the Best Idea Ever... and she may have even told him that a couple of times. Loudly.
Some considerable time later, she collapsed back against the mattress, panting and exhausted. And sated. It had been a good long while since she'd had an excuse to use a word like “sated.”
“I feel like I could sleep for a week," she told him. "You have quite worn me out-- I think I must be getting old. How embarrassing.”
Jack hitched himself up onto one elbow and brushed her damp fringe away from her forehead with his free hand. “Never,” he answered gallantly. “Besides, I was just about to say the same thing. Do you mind if I stay here tonight?”
It was remarkably easy to stamp on the little cautionary internal voice until it stopped twitching.
“Stay,” she said with a little smile. “I don't have the energy to kick you out, anyway. But I don't want to hear any complaining if I drool on you in my sleep, all right?”
Jack returned the smile with a rogueish grin. “Deal.”
He pulled her close against his side and draped an arm across her protectively. Benny sighed and tried not to think about how good it felt. The warmth of his breath ghosting across her collarbone followed her down into sleep.
* * *
The familiar pounding ache of an incipient hangover dragged her back into consciousness. It was joined by a dawn chorus of other twinges and throbbings from body parts which hadn't seen much use lately.
Benny peeled open one eyelid, and then immediately slammed it shut again.
"Gah... who turned on the sun? Not fair..." She rolled over, intent on waking the person responsible for her aches and pains-- the ones below the waist, anyway. "Jack?"
Her hand landed on the empty mattress next to her. Surprise jerked her the rest of the way into wakefulness. A single red rose lay on the pillow. Benny sighed.
Still, at least it hadn't been as disastrous as some of her liaisons. Really, how stupid was she? For all she knew of him last night, he could have been some murdering criminal, intent on killing her and stealing all of her valuables--
Her gaze settled on the safe next to the clothes rack.
The open safe.
The safe into which she'd put the Ikkaban artefacts, yesterday afternoon when she'd checked into the room.
"Oh, no. Oh... cruk." She stumbled out of bed and collapsed next to the useless-bloody-hunk-of-steel. "Cruk, cruk, crukkity-cruk!"
A sheet of paper lay folded on the top shelf of the not-very-safe. She snatched it out, furious.
Dear Professor Summerfield,
I hope it was as good for you as it was for me, Gorgeous. I've left you a little something to keep the higher-ups happy-- sorry about the rest. Don't bother coming after me, I'll be long gone and out of your reach by the time you read this.
P.S. Did you know that you have the most adorable little mole just above your left shoulderblade?
Growling, Benny crumpled up the letter and threw it away with as much violence as she could muster before diving back into the safe. Sure enough, right at the back of the bottom shelf lay the thin hexagonal shape of the thought projector-- something to send on to the university and, hopefully, keep her job intact.
Suddenly weak with reaction, she slumped against the wall, letting her head fall back with a soft thump.
"Jack-bloody-Harkness," she told the room at large, "you're lucky that you're such a fantastic shag, otherwise I would be chasing you down to the ends of the universe, you sodding bastard. Unfortunately, I really don't think I can even walk straight at the moment, so instead I'm going to take a bath. A very long, very hot bath. And then I'm going back down to the bar.
"And if I ever catch up with you again, I'm going to do very nasty things to your manly bits-- although if you ask nicely I might let you use them on me again, first. As long as there are no valuable items in the vicinity, that is."
She thumped the back of her head against the wall a couple more times for good measure.
"Goddess. This was such a bad idea."