Characters: Ben, Juliet, Alex
Warning: Spoilers for the S4 finale.
Summary: For Queen astra2104, who asked for ice and Ben went to fetch it for her.
x x x
“What? No ice?” Juliet jokes. She puts down the file folder she had been fanning herself with and picks up the glass of ice tea he poured. Ben clutches his thermos to his chest and watches a bead of sweat trail down her throat and disappear between her breasts as she swallows.
“I’ll be right back.”
It’s day seven of the heat wave and five days since they lost power. It’s the kind heavy humid heat that can drive a man insane. Ben realizes he must be close to crazy for even contemplating doing what’s he doing. Of course, the heat has little to do with his quest and everything to do with his feelings for her.
Ben drops by his house to pick up some supplies and leaves a note for Alex telling her he’ll be back later. He disappears into the jungle, where the dense cover from the trees traps the heat. He arrives at The Orchid hours later with the heady sensation that he’s a ham that just been roasted. Without power, the elevator is useless and the descent down the narrow almost airless staircase feels as long as his trip through the jungle.
Inside the station’s musty inter sanctum, Ben cranks the generator, and the subterranean floor is flooded with light. He sits for a moment, catching his breath, enjoying the small movement of stale air as the ventilation system kicks in. When his heart rate has returned to something close to normal, he begins to move any metal objects he can find into the vault. He flips a switch and the entire station crackles with energy as the tunnel shifts into view. When there’s enough space for a man to crawl through, Ben turns off the machine, grabs a parka and descends into the cavern.
Such intense cold after such intense heat almost hurts. His teeth rattle in his mouth and the sweat coating his body feels like it turns to frost. Once he reaches the bottom, Ben works quickly. He removes the ice pick from his pack and carefully chips chucks off the wheel, making sure not to move it. He fills three thermoses full and places two large pieces of ice in plastic bags, hoping something will remain by the time he returns to the barracks.
When Ben surfaces, the stars are out and the temperature has dropped a few degrees. Even though the ice weighs him down, the image of Juliet pursing her lips and raising an eyebrow at his casual presentation of this bountry fuels his journey home. The barracks are quiet when he returns. Even the crickets must find it too hot to chirp, he muses. He contemplates a quick shower, but makes do with dipping his bandana into water from the well and wiping down his face, chest and arms. Inside the thermoses, the ice clinks reassuringly.
It takes Juliet a while to come to her door when he knocks. He imagines her sliding out of bed, skin flushed and sticky; her hair pulled off her neck in a messy bun. She’ll gasp at the sight of the ice and invite him in. As she adds the ice to two glasses of water, he envisions her holding one chunk to the back of her neck. As it melts, he would—
“Ben? What are you doing here?” Juliet appears at the door, hair hanging loose, one hand holding the neck of her robe closed. She looks more flustered than flushed, and that is when he spies an unlaced steel toed boot on its side, peaking out from the living room. Of course, he thinks. Of course.
“I was walking passed and heard a noise. Is everything alright?” he asked pleasantly, pleased that his question brings out a guilty look.
“No, everything’s fine.”
“Boy, this heat can make you hear and see things that aren’t really there. Sorry to bother you.” He gives her a little nod as he trots down her steps.
“Where did you disappear to this morning?” she calls after him.
“Oh, nowhere in particular. Good night, Juliet. Sleep tight.”
Between her house and his, Ben’s head is filled with anger and shame at his own ridiculous behaviour and a renewed disappoint in Juliet’s continued dalliance with Goodwin. He leaves his dark mood at the door, and enters his sweltering house feeling renewed. Ben drops his backpack on the kitchen counter and removes the two plastic bags full of melted ice. He leaves them in the sink and gets two glasses from the cupboard. He fills one with the ice from a thermos and the other with ice and fruit juice and carries both to Alex’s bedroom.
His daughter lies asleep, flung across her bed in a t-shirt, her hair fanned out across the pillow, with the covers bunched in a pile at the foot. He places the glasses on her night table and kisses her hot forehead.
“I brought my best girl a present.”
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