Quite how he'd managed to get himself assigned to UNIT, Benton wasn't sure. He was decent enough at his job but he'd never been top of his class, so it took a lot of work to keep it that way, and he had no experience dealing with whatever strange stuff it was that UNIT reportedly encountered on a daily basis. Still, having been given the position, he was determined to give it his best shot.
Within three weeks of arrival at UNIT HQ, he'd managed to very nearly lose a truck load of expensive equipment while driving said truck around a bend without having checked that the cargo was secure. It took three hours for him and the escort detail to collect every scattered object from the road and ditches, and then they had to return them to base to be checked for damage rather than take them on to their final location.
Unsurprisingly, Benton found himself summoned to the Brigadier's office the minute they got back, where the man was waiting for him with a distinctly annoyed look on his face.
"Corporal Benton," the Brigadier began. "You've been here for a grand total of eighteen days, and already you've managed to avoid destroying sensitive equipment by the skin of your teeth. There's a research team in Southampton who now have to wait for material we promised them delivery of today at the latest, and a team of scientists here who should be working on some rather important material that I personally assigned them but are instead going to be working overtime to make sure you haven't broken anything important. Tell me, are you stupid, incompetent, or simply careless?"
Still internally wincing over the "material that I personally assigned them", Benton remained carefully at attention and hoped that was a rhetorical question.
Ah. Not a rhetorical question. "Careless, sir," he replied, although more by the moment he felt that the other two options could equally well apply.
Judging by the glare that had yet to fade, the Brigadier thought so too.
When he was finally dismissed ten minutes later, following one of the more thorough dressing-downs he'd received in his career, Benton made his way glumly towards the lab they'd left the equipment at. Harris, who'd been with the escort detail earlier, met him half way and gave him a sympathetic look.
"I wouldn't be surprised if I get transferred out of here before the month is up," Benton replied, more than half-serious. He'd kick himself for messing up just because he'd been so eager to do something useful, but at this point it wouldn't do him much good.
"Nah," Harris said. "He'd have told you if tha' were what he intended. If he's ripped you a new one, that's the end of it. The Brig don't tolerate screw-ups all that well, but he's a stand-up guy."
Benton sighed. "I know. That's what makes it worse." It was bad enough letting someone down; worse when that person was someone he actually admired and respected.
"Just don't do it again, eh?" Harris said, clapping him on the back.
Finally managing a smile, Benton shook himself out of his dejection. "No chance of that. Thanks, Harris."
"No problem, mate. C'mon, we're going to the Old Hound; get a couple of beers in you, that'll cheer you right up."
"I'll see you there later. I've got a couple of things to finish up here first."
Squaring his shoulders, Benton stopped by his locker to retrieve the packet of chocolate digestives his mum had sent him last week, and then carried on to the lab where seven overworked scientists were currently stuck working overtime. The least he could do was offer them an apology and some biscuits.
-- -- -- -- --
"I hear Benton got promoted," Roberts remarked to the Brigadier. "I have to say, that one came as a surprise."
"Oh?" The Brigadier raised an eyebrow at his liaison with the Army regular. "Why's that?"
Failing completely to recognise the warning edge to the Brigadier's tone, Roberts replied, "Well, he's not exactly the most reliable person to have around, is he? There was that incident with the new technology for the Southampton lot; he nearly ruined the whole project because he wasn't paying attention when he loaded the truck, and he'd only been here less than a month."
"You're quite correct, of course," the Brigadier replied. "However, you seem to have forgotten that following that incident, Sergeant Benton has yet to get into any more trouble as a result of his own carelessness. In fact, his peers now describe him as one of the more diligent among them. Not only that, but for the entire time that our science team were inconvenienced from his inattentiveness, he supplied them with tea and biscuits paid for out of his own pocket. I'd say that rather indicates that he's learned from his mistakes, wouldn't you?"
"Ah... yes, yes I would." Very carefully, Roberts picked up his file from the Brigadier's desk, not entirely convinced that his fingers were safe from the baton that the Brigadier was currently tapping against his hand. "I do apologise, I meant no slight to your man."
"Glad to hear it," the Brigadier said and watched the man scuttle away with no small amount of satisfaction. Insulting anyone under his command was not something he was prepared to stand for, least of all when it was aimed at someone such as Benton who, for all that trouble did seem to follow him around, was coming along in leaps and strides from the nervous Corporal he'd met a year ago.
-- -- -- -- --
"Benton, when I sent you to advise Major Davis on this operation, I didn't expect him to report back to me with a complaint regarding your insubordinate behaviour. Would you care to explain what happened?"
Having spent fifteen minutes listening to Davis rant about Benton's lack of respect, the Brigadier already had an excellent idea of what had happened, but Benton would never learn if he didn't squirm a little in the retelling first. And thus he gave Benton his best glare, and absolutely did not feel guilty about chewing him out when he was obviously fighting to keep his eyes open and only just managing to stay on his feet.
Staring steadily ahead, Benton replied, "He asked me for my opinion regarding his plan, sir."
"I gave it to him."
The Brigadier looked at him with an expression that said he knew where this was going and didn't like it one bit. Benton resisted the urge to shuffle his feet. "What exactly did you say, Benton?"
"That it was stupid and would never work. Sir."
There was silence as the Brigadier paced around the room. "And you thought that was an appropriate way to address a senior officer?"
In truth, after thirty hours with no sleep, Benton hadn't really been thinking about appropriate ways to address a senior officer, particularly not when that person was going to put them all in danger. That, however, was no excuse, and so he mumbled, "No, sir."
"Speak up, Sergeant!" the Brigadier bellowed from behind him.
Drawing himself upright, Benton forced some strength into the words. "No, sir!"
"'No, sir', is damn well right," the Brigadier said, appearing behind the desk again. "Davis was all for writing you up officially; he only refrained from doing so because I promised him that I'd take care of the matter."
Surprised at the intervention, Benton cautiously replied, "Thank you, sir."
Sighing, the Brigadier took his seat again. "You're a good soldier, Benton, but you must learn some tact if you don't want to end up in hot water. You simply can't tell a superior officer that their plan is idiotic and expect to get away with it."
"Yes, sir." Benton paused, and met the Brigadier's gaze as he added sincerely, "Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to cause you any trouble."
"Just learn to utilise some tact when talking to majors, Benton." A moment later, with a glimmer of a smile, he added, "Even if the major in question quite obviously has no idea what they're doing."
Benton didn't smile back — that would be pushing his luck further than sensible, even if the Brigadier looked to be done with the reprimanding portion of the conversation now — but he did relax a little.
"I trust I've made myself understood, Sergeant?"
"Yes, sir, crystal, sir."
"Good." The Brigadier leaned back in his chair, and waved Benton towards the door. "Now go and get some sleep, Benton. You look exhausted."
"Right away, sir," Benton told him, and left with relief so that he could collapse on a bed and get some shut-eye.
The Brigadier made a note to send Davis back to wherever he came from, request a replacement, and assign Benton to work with whoever that was. They could do with a sensible head around sometimes, even one as blunt as Benton's could be, but dear God did Benton need practice if they were going to avoid a repeat of this incident.
-- -- -- -- --
"Excuse me, sir, " Benton said, slipping into the Brigadier’s office. He nodded at the Doctor, who looked as frustrated as he usually did in the Brigadier's presence, and made his way over to the Brigadier's desk. "Here's that report you asked for."
"Thank you, Benton. How's it coming with getting that weapon working, by the way?"
"Ah... we're almost there, sir. Just a few technical problems to sort out before we can load the ordinance onto it."
His discomfort was written all over his face as he avoided the Brigadier's gaze, who exchanged glances with the Doctor before asking pointedly, "A few technical problems, Sergeant? Such as?"
Reluctantly, Benton admitted, "We're having some difficulties assembling it, sir."
"Difficulties assembling it? Benton, it was only in three pieces when we got it!"
In the corner, the Doctor snorted out a laugh. "I'll never underestimate the competence of UNIT again, Brigadier."
Somewhat hurt by that remark, Benton couldn't let it go undefended. "Yes sir, but those three pieces are rather complicated. It is part alien in design, you know. We managed to get two of them to fit together, but we just can't work out where the third one should go. We've been working all morning -"
"Sergeant Benton," the Brigadier interrupted curtly. "Do you, or do you not have access to a telephone?"
Brow furrowing, Benton replied uncertainly, "Yes, sir."
"Then why on Earth are you in my office giving me a dozen excuses? Damn well get on to the scientists who sent us it and ask them how to assemble it! For goodness' sake, Benton, didn't you learn anything about problem solving in basic training? Stop wasting my time and show some intelligent thought, before I regret putting you in charge of this. Now, Sergeant!" he finished, placing his hands on his desk and half-standing to glare at a now rigid Benton.
With a great deal of satisfaction, the Brigadier watched Benton march out of his office, and reseated himself as the door swung shut behind him.
With a frown, the Doctor took Benton's place in front of the desk. "I say, was it really necessary to be quite so hard on the lad?"
The Brigadier raised an eyebrow at him. "He's hardly a 'lad', Doctor, and I doubt very much that he'd appreciate you referring to him as such. Benton is a capable soldier who could do very well for himself if he was as good at exercising independent thought as he is following orders. All he needs is a push in the right direction."
"Which shouting at him will achieve?"
"Yes, Doctor, it will."
Meeting the Doctor's gaze steadily and silently, the Brigadier waited until he got the message that no elaboration would be forthcoming, at which point the infuriating man swept both himself and his cape out of the office. It was really none of the Doctor's business that despite the general opinion on the matter, Benton was more than able to work out details for himself once someone got him going; he needed a kick up the arse more than someone to hold his hand, which was exactly what the Brigadier supplied when necessary.
Half an hour later, covered in oil and with a spanner behind his ear, Benton returned to inform the Brigadier that the weapon was assembled, armed, linked to HQ and ready to be launched whenever necessary.
Impressed, the Brigadier said, "Excellent, Benton."
Grinning and obviously relieved, Benton replied, "It wasn't that hard after all, sir."
The Brigadier rolled his eyes. "God forbid that I should actually be right about something."
"That's not what I meant, sir," Benton said hastily, such a look of panic on his face at the thought he might have landed himself right back in it that the Brigadier had to hide a smile by shuffling his paperwork for a moment.
"Dismissed, Benton, go and clean yourself up. And do return that spanner to the mechanics before you lose it, won't you?"
"Behind your ear," the Brigadier said, watching as Benton brought both hands up and felt around for the tool, looking at it with great bemusement when he retrieved it. "Right you are, sir." He saluted, nearly knocked himself over the forehead with the spanner, and left with a bashful smile on his face. The Brigadier only just managed to hold back his laughter until the door had shut.
-- -- -- -- --
The robot-creature or whatever-it-was — giant monstrosity in a suit of armour, was how the Brigadier was mentally referring to it — lumbered across the field quicker than it had any right to, scattering the troops left right and centre as it did so. It was heading for the building behind the Brigadier, which was inconvenient for a number of reasons. The first was that they couldn't let it in there given that it intended to destroy the contents of said building. The second was that its weak point was at the back of its skull, so the Brigadier needed it to turn around in order that he could use the weapon the Doctor had given him. Rather difficult when it was facing towards you, really.
Then from behind the creature came a shout of "Hey, you!" in a familiar voice. Slowly, the thing halted, and then began to turn as the voice continued, "Yes, you, you great lumbering machine."
Cursing, knowing full well who that voice belonged to, the Brigadier gritted his teeth and waited impatiently for the creature to finish turning. The second it had its back to him, he fired at the top of it's spine, and watched as it slowly toppled to the ground to reveal Benton standing not ten feet beyond it.
"Benton!" the Brigadier shouted, holstering his gun and striding towards the man. "What the devil do you think you're playing at?" He stopped mere inches from Benton, hands clenched at his sides to stop them shaking, and snapped out, "That was an incredibly dangerous thing to do!"
"Not really, sir," Benton replied. "I knew you'd get it before it got me."
Dammit, how was he supposed to stay angry with him after that? "Yes, well," he replied after a moment. "You're lucky you weren't killed," he added without heat. "Are you alright?"
"Fine, sir. Well, I twisted my ankle earlier, but other than that I'm fine."
For a moment the Brigadier considered pointing out the stupidity of standing in front of a large creature that you couldn't run away from, and then decided it just wasn't worth it. "Come on, let's get you to medical. Arm around my shoulders, Benton."
"I can walk on it," Benton protested, before he saw the look in the Brigadier's eye that said arguing would be very unwise. So he leaned on the Brigadier and they limped slowly towards the ambulances that were just arriving, where Benton was left with strict orders not to do anything that the paramedics didn't explicitly clear him for. If he noticed that the Brigadier's hands were not entirely steady as he handed him into the ambulance, well, it had been an adrenaline-filled half-hour for them all. The Brig probably needed a nice cup of tea and he'd be fine.
In fact, the Brigadier was in his office nursing a mug of industrial strength coffee, which wasn't whisky only because he was still on duty. When the Doctor walked in ten minutes later, he took one look at him and held out his paper bag at once. "You look as if you've seen a ghost," he remarked. "Have a jelly baby; they're very good for shock, you know."
For once accepting the offered sweet, the Brigadier groaned, "Benton's going to be the death of me."
"Oh? What's he done this time?"
"You didn't see?" A rapid shake of a curly head. "He took it upon himself to distract that creature by standing in front of it, shouting and waving his arms, with a twisted ankle no less. Said he knew I'd shoot it before it killed him, the idiot."
"Ah, well, that's Benton for you," the Doctor told him. "Loyal to the core. Once you've got his confidence, he'll quite literally trust you with his life."
"I do wish he wouldn't," the Brigadier muttered, sinking back into his chair.
"Oh, you don't mean that," the Doctor said. "You'd be terribly upset if he didn't trust you, now, wouldn't you?"
"I suppose I would." Hastily, he added, "Not that 'upset' is the word I'd use," but the Doctor, apparently done with his advice-dispensing duties, was already half-way out of the door. Sighing, the Brigadier finished his coffee, and decided he'd better go and find Benton. Just to make sure he was obeying orders and not doing anything he shouldn't, of course. Not because he hadn't quite got over the fright of seeing him unprotected in front of a creature bent on destroying them all. Definitely not.
-- -- -- -- --
"...And another thing, Brigadier," Professor Stricks ranted, striding around his lab and peering at various computer screens, while the Brigadier, Benton and Harris looked on, "I don't appreciate being given a bunch of incompetent soldiers as 'assistance'. Your men have repeatedly failed to appreciate the importance of the work I'm doing, lack the ability to follow basic instructions, and have been a hindrance to me since the day I arrived."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Professor," the Brigadier said, with a cold politeness that the professor was apparently oblivious to.
"As you should be." He rifled through the papers on his desk, and then looked up to glare at them all. "Mister Benton, what have you and your band of trained monkeys done with my lab journal this time?"
"I believe you put it in the cupboard above the lab bench over there," Benton replied, nodding towards the corner.
Behind the Brigadier's back, Harris sent him a panicked look, which Benton returned with a small shake of his head. "I'll deal with it," he mouthed.
"Thank you. See what I have to put up with, Brigadier?" Stricks said as he crossed the room. "If this is the best that UNIT can provide, I fear for us all. I shall be informing the — aaaargh!"
The contents of the cupboard that the Professor had just opened apparently included not only his lab journal, but several precariously balanced flasks which upended themselves over the Professor, covering him in an array of harmless but extremely colourful dyes from head to toe. The Brigadier, Benton and Harris looked on as the Professor stood and dripped on the floor for a few moments, spluttering in rage before he spun around and pointed a brilliantly purple arm at them. "You!" he snarled. "Which one of you is responsible for this?"
"Actually, sir," Benton replied, stepping forwards. "You placed those flasks there last night. You said they were better out of our reach, sir. They must not have been properly on the shelf, and you disturbed them when you opened the door." He was the very image of politely deferent, while Harris was torn between panicking and cracking up, thankfully still out of the Brigadier's sight.
"An unfortunate incident," the Brigadier said, cutting across the professor's incoherent spluttering. "Harris, would you escort Professor Stricks to the nearest shower before he redecorates the entire base?"
"Right you are, sir," Harris replied, just about managing to pull himself together. He mouthed "Good luck" to Benton, and then very carefully guided the professor out of the room, leaving Benton and the Brigadier alone.
Doing his best to put aside the image of the Professor as a vibrant living watercolour paining, Benton watched as the Brigadier walked over to the Professor's desk, and prepared himself for whatever might follow.
"Benton," the Brigadier began, facing the wall in front of him. "I am aware that you and your team have been working under less than ideal conditions with the Professor, and that you've done a remarkable job of keeping them on task."
"Thank you, sir."
"I am also aware that the only people with keys to this lab are myself, the Professor, and you. As disorganised as Professor Stricks is, I find it highly unlikely that he would place flasks of chemicals so close to the edge of a cupboard which he regularly opens. Wouldn't you agree?"
"I am sure that you are aware that it would be highly irresponsible for you and any accomplices to abuse your privileges and sneak into the lab after hours, for the purpose of placing or moving those beakers to a position where they could fall and do serious injury to anyone below them."
The Brigadier turned around and, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards, said, "In that case, shall we assume that I've done the requisite shouting, and move on to the part where I congratulate you on a superbly executed prank?"
It took Benton a moment to realise that the sentence that had just come out of the Brigadier's mouth was remotely close to anything he'd expected to hear, and then a grin slowly spread across his face.
With a chuckle, the Brigadier remarked, "I shouldn't think he'll get those dyes off himself properly for days," and they both had to take a moment to control the laughter that threatened to bubble up.
"Professor Stricks is known for being notoriously difficult to work with," the Brigadier said. "Thankfully, he's only here for another week and a half. With any luck, this little incident will have subdued him a little. If it hasn't, it should provide you all with much-needed amusement until he leaves."
"That was the idea," Benton agreed.
"I thought as much. Just don't let me catch you at it again, is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," Benton replied, as seriously as he could when the Brigadier wasn't even trying to sound intimidating.
"Good. Now get this lab cleared up, see if you can't do something useful today," he instructed with an undeniably fond look, and left Benton to mop up the floor with a cheeriness not usually reserved for such a task.
-- -- -- -- --
Wincing, Benton looked between the detonator in his hand and the several large holes that now marked the empty field that he and a few of the newer recruits now stood at the edge of. "I must say, when I told you lot I'd demonstrate some of the explosives, I didn't realise they'd be quite that... well, explosive," he remarked. He looked around at the wary faces beside him, and slapped the back of the slightly terrified looking lad on his left. "C'mon then, we'd better get hold of some spades and fill this lot back in before anybody notices."
That afternoon, after an exhausting but ultimately worthwhile few hours of refilling small craters in the ground — there was nothing like hard manual labour to enforce bonding — Benton was enjoying a cup of tea when Yates found him and told him that the Brigadier wanted to see him in his office right away. Sighing, Benton downed the rest of the mug, squared his shoulders, and set off to face the music.
"Ah, Benton, do come in," the Brigadier told him. "Shut the door, would you." He didn't look particularly annoyed, but over the years Benton had learned not to be fooled by that.
Straight backed, perfectly composed, Benton stood in front of the Brigadier's desk, and frowned in confusion when the Brigadier gave him a folder instead of a telling-off. "What's this?" he asked, taking the folder and flipping it open.
"Your new orders," the Brigadier said. "You're being reassigned to the new base in the Midlands. They need someone with experience and a level-head to lead their first-response unit, a position I had no reservations recommending you for."
Benton blinked in shock. He'd heard about the new base, of course, but had never once dreamed that he'd end up there. There it was though in black and white on the pages in front of him, confirmation that sent pride welling up inside him. "I... I don't know what to say, sir."
"'Thank you' usually does the trick," the Brigadier said dryly, with a highly amused look.
"Thank you, sir," Benton said dazedly. He pulled himself together and met the Brigadier's eyes as he added, "Really, sir, thank you." He hesitated as it started to dawn on him what he'd be leaving behind. "I'll miss working here, but I'm very grateful for the opportunity."
Actually what he'd miss the most was working with the Brigadier, but he couldn't exactly come out and say that.
"Oh, you'll still see us on a regular basis," the Brigadier told him. "The plan isn't so much for the new base to be an entirely separate unit as to be a second branch of this one, so there will be plenty of communication between them."
Benton did his best not to look more pleased about that than about the reassignment. Eventually, somewhat awkwardly, he said, "I'm glad."
There was a moment of silence as they both just looked at each other, an unusually warm smile on the Brigadier's face, a slightly subdued on on Benton's, before the Brigadier coughed and composed himself. "Go on with you. Oh, and Benton?"
"Do I need to mention that this morning's incident was an entirely unacceptable use of explosives, and that any repeats of the incident would be inadvisable?"
They both tried not to smile as Benton replied sheepishly, "Ah... no, sir."
"Good. You leave at the end of the month. Do try not to blow anything else up in the meantime, hmm?"
-- -- -- -- --
In the first month following Benton's departure, the Brigadier was subjected to various questions and entirely unneeded advice from the Doctor, Miss Smith and his mother, all of whom seemed to be under the impression that he was moping now that Benton was gone. It was a ridiculous assumption to make — he might occasionally wish for Benton's cheery 'good mornings', miss having him at his side in the field, feel a little off-balance without Benton's steadiness, but all that was to be expected when getting used to the absence of someone who'd been around the place as long as Benton had. That was all. Nothing else to it.
By the time two months had passed, the Brigadier was prepared to admit that maybe he was moping. Just a little bit. And he certainly wasn't going to let anyone else know.
At three months, the Brigadier was acutely aware of the full meaning of the phrase 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder', and knew there were some things he needed to say the next time he saw Benton. Which, dammit, had better be soon. His mother's inquiries were growing intolerable.
-- -- -- -- --
When Benton did finally turn up again, it was with a shiny new promotion to Lieutenant, an obvious confidence in the way he directed his men, and a bright smile that the Brigadier had sorely missed.
"Morning, sir," Benton said, saluting. "Miss me, sir?"
"Not at all," the Brigadier returned, even though his lips were curving upwards of their own volition. Giving in, he said, "It's good to have you back, Benton."
"Thank you, sir. It's good to be back."
"Glad to hear it. Shall we get to work?"
They spent the day working out how best to distribute and transport the new equipment that the government had issued them, while occasionally dealing with the occasional solider who decided that peeking into the crates full of experimental technology was a good idea. Predictably, by the end of the day there had been the requisite near-miss when one of them was foolish enough to actually try to work a fancy-looking weapon. Shortly afterwards, he found himself in the Brigadier's office where he was instructed as to the error of his ways, while Benton looked on and recalled the many occasions on which he'd been subjected to similar.
"Dismissed, Corporal!" the Brigadier finished sharply, and waited until the thoroughly chastised man closed the door behind him before allowing his glare to disappear. "Good solider, but has an unfortunate habit of letting his peers persuade him into things he shouldn't do," he remarked to Benton, who was still standing at the side of his desk.
"Not any more, I shouldn't think," Benton remarked.
"Quite," the Brigadier agreed, before pressing the intercom button. "Captain Yates, I'm done for the day. If there's anyone else who requires my attention, inform them that I'm off duty and to come back tomorrow. Send everyone else in the office home early, would you?" Sighing, he leaned back in his chair and loosened his tie just fractionally, then looked up to find that Benton was looking at him thoughtfully. "Something the matter, Benton?"
"No, sir," Benton replied. "It's just..."
"I've just realised why you shouted at me so often when I worked here. Other than because I'd done something I shouldn't've, I mean. It was for my own good, wasn't it?"
The Brigadier raised an eyebrow, and couldn't hold back his smile. "Really, Benton? It's taken you this long to work that out?"
Abashedly, Benton shrugged. "I've always been slow on the uptake, sir."
"You think things through when they're relevant, Benton; not necessarily a bad trait," the Brigadier said. "That being the case, however, let me mention a few more things that you may have yet to work out. I've been in charge of plenty of men who have got higher marks than you, advanced through the ranks far quicker, are infinitely more careful when addressing superior officers, and manage to keep themselves out of harm's way far better than you ever did." Standing, the Brigadier continued, "I'd much rather have one man like you than a dozen like them," and watched as honest surprise crossed Benton's face.
"You, Benton. You're loyal, careful, not afraid to admit when you've made mistakes, and not too proud to accept correction. You look out for the people under your command who, by all accounts, think the world of you and quite rightly so. For all the trouble you caused when you worked here, it was a genuine pleasure working with you." The Brigadier paused for a moment to let that sink in, and then added, "I've never been more pleased to have someone leave my chain of command than you."
Blinking, Benton's features contorted themselves into a very confused expression. Trying not to let his nerves show, the Brigadier looked on and waited for Benton to work it out.
"You... wanted me to leave?"
"Oh, most assuredly."
"Why on Earth did you want to me to leave if you thought...." Benton paused, and the Brigadier watched as a somewhat stunned — and oh, thank goodness, far from appalled — realisation dawned on him. "...all of those things about me?" he finished slowly. His eyes went to the Brigadier's loosened tie, then to the closed door, and back to the Brigadier as he asked, "Really? Me?"
He looked so honestly unsure, half-convinced this was some practical joke or misunderstanding, that the Brigadier just couldn't keep him in suspense any longer. "Really, Benton, you."
His affection, so long held under wraps, coloured his tone now and brought a beaming smile to Benton's face. Before the Brigadier could say anything else, Benton had taken two long strides towards him, and the Brigadier found himself being kissed thoroughly and sloppily with far more enthusiasm than thought which, really, was Benton all over.
When their noses smashed together for the umpteenth time, Benton drew back and mumbled an apology which the Brigadier silenced by pressing a thumb against slick lips. "No apologies necessary," he assured Benton, and took advantage of the pause to regain control of the situation, walking Benton backwards until they hit his desk. At this point, Benton's eyes went very wide, and the Brigadier couldn't help but smirk before he leaned forward and kissed him again, slow and deep and very much in charge this time.
With the Brigadier's body pressing him back against the desk, moustache tickling against his upper lip while their mouths slid together, Benton couldn't help but wonder exactly what the Brigadier had planned. He had very little experience doing this sort of thing up against a desk, but more than one idea of what it might entail, and it was almost certain that it'd be better with the Brig that whatever he could imagine.
"Why, Benton, what on earth could you be imagining?" the Brigadier murmured when he pulled back and Benton made a disappointed sound.
"I really not sure I should tell you," Benton replied, more than a little breathless, and really, how could he not have noticed sooner how superbly the man managed to pull off 'sly'?
"I'm sure I can guess," the Brigadier said. "Maybe next time," he added, patting the desk firmly with one hand. Before Benton had finished processing that, the Brigadier dropped to his knees in front of him, and had both hands on his belt before Benton was able to get out a shocked, "What are you doing, sir?"
"Undoing your belt so that I can suck you off, Benton," the Brigadier said, looking entirely unrepentant when Benton flushed at the crude words. "And I warn you now, if you call me 'sir' while I'm down here, I shall stop at once. Is that understood?"
"Understood," Benton got out, deciding that the issue of what exactly he should call the man could wait until later, when he wasn't half hard in his trousers and didn't have the Brigadier unzipping his trousers and pushing them half way down his thighs.
"See? Not slow on the uptake after all," the Brigadier said, which drew a smile from Benton right before the Brigadier leaned forward to press his lips to the inside of his thigh, moustache tickling the sensitive skin there and sending some rather nice shivers up his spine. Then he licked his way upwards, while Benton gripped the edge of the desk so that he didn't give in to the urge to grab hold of the dark head whose progress he couldn't stop watching. When the Brigadier's mouth finally closed around his cock, tongue swirling slick and hot along his length , Benton spared a moment to hope that Yates really had gone home early, because he definitely wasn't going to be able to keep quiet.
"You're... You're very good at that," he got out and let loose a groan as the Brigadier 'hmmmed' his acknowledgement, which felt bloody fantastic.
In the end, Benton didn't manage not to keep his hands on the desk, unable to resist sliding his fingers through that perfectly groomed hair, displacing strands from their resting place as he cupped his hand around the back of the Brigadier's head. An annoyed sound came from the Brigadier, who tightened his hands on Benton's hips in retaliation and held him firmly in place, which really wasn't all that much of a hardship because he was doing a bloody marvellous job of getting Benton off all by himself.
Benton didn't quite manage to gasp out a warning before he came, but the Brig didn't seem to mind his lack of courtesy, apparently disinclined to release Benton until he'd collapsed shakily against the desk. Then he helpfully tucked Benton back into his trouser before standing, hair dishevelled and looking undeniably smug as he licked his lips and asked "Well? Do I pass muster?"
"I'm tingling all over," Benton said dazedly, and then collected himself when he remember that wasn't usually what one said after these things. "I mean -"
"Exactly what you said," the Brigadier interrupted affectionately, one hand finding Benton's and squeezing briefly. "As you always do."
Relieved, Benton let himself slide back into the warm afterglow, and looped his hands loosely around the Brigadier's waist to pull him closer. "If I'm not allowed to call you 'sir'," he said, as the Brigadier settled against him, "what do you want me to call you?"
"I do have a name, Benton. You might try that."
"You're still calling me 'Benton'," he pointed out and grinned as a frown crossed the Brigadier's face.
"Yes, well." They shared a look. "We'll work on it," the Brigadier decided with a rueful smile.
"Alright by me."
When the Brigadier's hands reached out to slide across his cheeks, tugging his face towards his own, Benton happily let himself be kissed slow and careful and gentle, until his breathing had evened out and his legs had stopped shaking. Sitting on the edge of a desk wasn't the most comfortable position ever, but he could put up with a lot if it meant the Brigadier would carry on kissing him like this for a while.
Eventually, Benton regained the energy to move, and realised that the Brigadier was hard against him where there hips were pressed together, which he should probably do something about. More to the point, he rather wanted to do something about it.
"Do you want me to take care of that for you?" he asked — and really, it was a very good thing he wasn't going to be working with the Brigadier any more, because there were a number of phrases he would never be able to ask in a working environment again.
"If you'd be so kind," the Brigadier responded, with a twinkle in his eye that said he was thinking along the same lines as Benton.
"Not at all," Benton replied, and had to practically bite his tongue to hold back the 'sir' that wanted to escape. To distract them both, he set about undoing the Brigadier's belt, fingers fumbling with the buckle and then the zip of his trousers, until he could push his boxers down and wrap his hand around the Brigadier's cock.
Entirely straight faced, the Brigadier remarked, "My, what big hands you have," winking at Benton a few seconds later.
"They've always made me feel a little clumsy," Benton admitted.
A soft kiss pressed to his jaw drew his eyes up, and he found the Brigadier looking at him with silent understanding. "You wouldn't be my Benton if you weren't at least a little clumsy." Benton smiled, and then laughed the Brigadier added, "In any case, I'm sure you'll pick it up quickly."
"I'll do my best," Benton assured him and carefully rubbed his thumb across the head of the Brigadier's cock before stroking along his length, which made the Brigadier let loose a cut-off groan.
"Just like that," the Brigadier gasped. "Carry on," he instructed, before his hands cupped Benton's face again and he pressed their mouths together in a kiss that got wetter and messier the longer Benton stroked him. His other hand resting on the Brigadier's back, running along the length of his spine, Benton could feel him arch into the touch, muscles tensing, almost pleading sounds escaping if Benton slowed for even a moment. When he came it was hard and fast, which would have been Benton's cue to be smug if it wasn't for the fact that he was far too busy taking in the Brigadier's wide eyes, slack lips, dark strands of hair falling over his forehead, the red flush high on his cheeks as his hips bucked and he spilled himself over Benton's hand.
For a moment they were still, the Brigadier's head tipped forwards to rest on Benton's shoulder, Benton's arm firm around his back to stop him slipping. Then, slowly, the Brigadier braced his hands either side of Benton on the desk, and pushed himself semi-upright with a groan. With a twinkle in his eye, he remarked, "I rather think I shan't be going to my usual dry cleaners tomorrow."
"I don't suppose you have a handkerchief to spare, by any chance?" Benton asked with a grin, looking down at his own sticky hand.
"Honestly," the Brigadier said, with an entirely unconvincing tone of disapproval, and produced a pristine white square from his pocket. If it wasn't for the fact that the mess was entirely the Brigadier's own fault, Benton would feel rather bad about what he was about to do to it.
When they'd cleaned and zipped themselves back up, they sat side-by-side on the Brigadier's desk and looked at the wall for a while.
"Did you know you have a ridiculous smile on your face?" the Brigadier asked after the comfortable silence had stretched out for a few minutes.
"I happen to be very happy right at the moment," Benton replied, and then nudged the Brigadier as he added, "Besides, it's not as if you're doing much better."
The Brigadier 'hmph'ed, while his hand slid to rest on Benton's knee.
"We should get going," the Brigadier said eventually. "I would invite you over tonight, but we both have to work tomorrow."
"It's alright. I understand," Benton said. Fully aware that Benton couldn't hide an emotion to save his life, and the Brigadier looked over at him to check, and found a content, confident look on his face.
"So you do," he replied. "Are you doing anything this weekend?"
"Telling you what I want you to do to me on this desk?" Benton suggested with a grin, which widened when the Brigadier laughed and slung his arm around Benton's shoulder.
"Perfect," he agreed. "I'll see you at my house, eighteen hundred hours on Friday evening?"
"On the dot," Benton confirmed. He slid his arm around the Brigadier's waist, pressed a sloppy kiss to his cheek, squeezed his arse and slipped away and out of the door, whistling all the way. The Brigadier listened to him go, and wondered what his reaction would be when he told him exactly what he wanted Benton to do to him on the desk.
Of course, they probably shouldn't use this desk. Not with Benton's penchant for breaking things.
Luckily, that wouldn't be a problem, seeing as the Brigadier had another in his office at home that would suit their purposes perfectly.
Maybe he'd put a first-aid kit in the drawer, just to be on the safe side.