Summary: Today is different for her. Today she does something more, but for them it's the same as usual, nothing new.
Spoilers: Vaguely for S2, but nothing specific and not the finale.
A/N: Betaread by fififolle. For the ARC OC's challenge.
Tricia works in accounting and has never seen an anomaly in her life. She's seen pictures on the database, heard the buzz of the new scientists they get every now and then, but from their descriptions she's certain the pictures don't do it justice.
Of course, she's mostly glad she's never seen one because that would require being present at an incursion, physically there, meaning being in the line of fire. Honestly, she's not a good runner, she'd be doomed, red shirt or no, and she does wear red shirts a lot. Connor Temple must be rubbing off on me, she thinks. She would never have thought of herself as that geeky six months ago, but after half a year of him hogging the rec room TV every second he can – using his laptop at the same time, claiming to be the first male capable of multi-tasking – she's seen far too much Star Trek. Riker is sort of handsome, but she still curses what this job does to her.
She spends her days holed up in a stark white room, surrounded by grey filing cabinets and desks full of drones. They have such an amazingly high turnover for ARC accounting that she barely knows anyone in her department other than their name and hot drinks preferences, and she's pretty surprised they haven't had a OSA leak yet with the amount of people signing themselves to secrecy and soon leaving.
Except today is different. Today her name is Laura Niles, a city slicker with heels as high as Ms. Lewis, and she's ostensibly from the Inland Revenue – all lies that Jenny would flat out deny should she be caught. The thought causes a quiver in her stomach and she hopes to dear god that she succeeds.
Jenny's skirt pinches her thighs and Abby's top is also too tight, but she supposes they did their best in the rather rushed disguise, ill-fitting as it is. The ID Connor faked looks legitimate enough to her eyes and she wouldn't be surprised if he'd hacked the appropriate government department to get the real files used to create these things. The “costume” makes a considerable change to her usual slacks and conservative jumper, and as uncomfortable as it is, she likes the way Mr. Myers is looking at her. To say with respect would go too far, no one likes their taxes investigating after all, but there's a certain amount of admiration as she takes control of the situation, mixed with a healthy dose of fear. He'd definitely respond well to Jenny Lewis if this behaviour marks his taste in women, just a shame that Jenny is off busy battling with local reporters and values plausible deniability regarding the ruse.
As she sits down to discuss what she needs with - call me Daniel - Myers she thanks her flatmate for convincing her that unit at university on taxes would be useful somewhere in her future. At the time she'd thought it would be of no use unless she gave in to greed and took a job to help rich clients evade the Inland Revenue, or she worked for them, yet here she is, proved wrong. Daniel takes her seriously as she calmly goes over how this investigation will work – she keeps it simple in case he's had this happen before and might catch her out, but so far, no sign of suspicion. Not even a single question when she asks him to be present as she goes over the files he fetches for her from the other side of the porta-cabin.
Glancing over line after line of accounts, watchful eyes of Daniel Myers on her activity, she wonders if she's doomed to getting stuck in the basement for the rest of her career. The only way she knows any of the team or anything about what the organisation does is when she goes out of her way to speak to anyone upstairs. Stephen had commented on her state of dress when they'd dropped her off round the front, causing her to blush a little at the unexpected flattery from the handsome fellow, but those are the first words he has uttered to her ever and she only knows Jenny because she regularly drops off the ever-inflated expense reports.
Will they remember her when they are done? Quite literally, will they pick her up after they've finished snooping round the waterlogged junk yard. She's to keep Myers occupied until at least 3pm under Cutter's instructions but if they finish early she can't be sure she won't have to ring for a taxi. She imagines it'll be shrugged off as looking less suspect than the alternative, should she bother to mention it.
Four hours later she announces she's done. She's kept him by her side far longer than what Cutter had asked for and it's time to go home and pray that neither Margret, Head of Accounting, nor Lester, hear of this stunt. Daniel escorts her to the gates, and bids her farewell with some relief evident and a grateful handshake. Then he locks up and leaves her staring at the road back to the village.
As she starts walking she gets to thinking, Will I ever see an anomaly? It almost doesn't matter that she's had nightmares about that reality, it's the principle of it. She wants to be worth something in the grand scheme of things – they're involved in ground breaking scientific study and providing a vital public service, but she sits at a desk all day and cleans up records, making sense of the cost of it. They're the valuable ones and she... she's the disposable income on the budget, when funds get tight she'll be the first to go, despite loyal service.
Half a mile along and she spots the boys wrestling a large animal equivalent of a body-bag into the back of their SUV – except there's a small amount of movement coming from it indicating whatever's inside ain't dead. Abby stands to one side, rolling her eyes before checking her watch.
“Hi...Trish, is it?”
“Yeah.” No one's called her that since uni, somehow it had never fitted well in the professional image she'd been so concerned with cultivating but she doesn't bother correcting the girl because it seems trivial compared to what she'd just done – risking her career by impersonating a government official. It wasn't like they would let her off with that just because she was one in another capacity.
“We'll be driving back to the ARC soon enough, can give you a lift. Might be longer than they were hoping,” Abby says, pointing to the three men struggling to rearrange limbs of the creature without opening the restraining bag and risking getting injured, “They didn't want to wait until the sedative was fully working, as if it's easy to get a dozy Nothosaurus in your boot, baby or not.” There was a kick from the bag and a slosh as a small amount of water spilled out of an airhole at the top.
“I really wouldn't know, to be honest. I haven't seen any dinosaurs before, let alone drugged any.” Tricia laughs, mainly because of her nerves, suddenly coming down from the adrenaline high of the the decoy exercise and Abby turns to look at her, a strange indecipherable look on her face for a moment. Then the tension breaks and a convivial smile returns to Abby's face.
“Yeah, of course. I forgot this is your first time 'in the field'.”
A cynical eyebrow raise accompanies the last part, like Abby finds the phrase amusing, just as if it's something Connor insists on to make it sound more glamorous, but Tricia knows full well the scientists like the term too, probably for the exact same reason Connor would.
The small talk dies off shortly after that, just a few comments exchanged about why men never seem to follow instructions and how they'd chased the thing about a mile up this road before catching it. Fifteen minutes later the creature is asleep and adequately loaded into the back. They finally clamber into the vehicle, setting off back to their headquarters. Tricia keeps quiet, not feeling certain enough about half the topics flung between the team members to join in any conversation. She picks up on an argument about what era they are dealing with, some theorising on the latest pattern to the anomalies and the accuracy of Connor's detector, because they still don't know where the blasted anomaly is this time. Connor's spouting off maths and computer jargon that the others barely acknowledge, let alone understand.
Was this what life was really like for them? Mostly it surprises her how easily they deal with doing this – how average it is for them, like any other job. Abby's keen to get back and clock off for the night, leave the ARC scientists to do their thing along with Cutter, who is possibly the facility's worst (or should it be best?) workaholic, next to Connor, who evidently has all-night coding on his mind. That and a plan to wheedle Chinese takeaway out of the government as a supposedly justified expense, despite the available cafeteria vending machines, prompting Stephen to take a renewed interest in working late.
Where was the awe inspiring element to field work that she had heard about? No, here she was doing her bit and all she'd experienced was deception and risk, and bloody hard work, more than she is used to. Let them do the dirty work, face the danger. Tricia doesn't love her job, doesn't like where she is in life, but someone has to support the heroes and she hopes this settles the restless feeling she's had. Sure, her world is colourless, mindless compared to their action and quick reaction, but perhaps her life is better for it. Theirs is just another job, albeit unlike any other, and she'll stick to hers gladly, warm and safe at her desk in the ARC offices.
They don't know her and she doesn't mean anything to anyone really, apart from her family and a few friends, but she'll always remember them, what they do. They do it so she doesn't have to, so she never has to stare something from her nightmares in the face, faceless and cold as it appears to her, spilling over, invading her space instead of theirs. Perhaps it will help stem the recurring dream she has, knowing they're out here, leading a colourful life juxtaposing her grey day to day existence. They truly live, like her imagination tells her she should be doing, but only because they risk dying every other minute.