|The only one that never noticed
Author: NShadows PM
Eh, it's a Max and Alec story, revolves around how Max is the only one that never notices.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Alec & Max - Words: 5,373 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 49 - Follows: 6 - Published: 04-09-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4980839
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I'm not sure this is my best work, but it wouldn't get out of my head. Meh.
As always, I don't own Dark Angel, though I am slightly obsessed enough that I should own stock.
Max knew the moment she saw Alec that morning that something was different. He was acting normal enough, but it was a sense of offness that nagged at her as she watched him goofing off by leaning back in his chair. She collected everyones progress reports and talked about repairs going on throughout TC. What was needed, what they could only wish for, etc. She stood after everyone but Alec had left, and looked up to find him watching her. "What?"
Alec frowned. "You've been staring at me the whole morning. What's up?"
"Nothing." She stared him down for a moment, then looked away, pretending to have heard something from behind her. Alec snorted. "Have you always been a sore loser?"
"I didn't lose," Max said challengingly, giving him a quick glare.
"Sure, Maxie." He rushed on before Max could berate him for the nickname. "Logan giving you trouble?"
"Trying to figure out why you were watching me, remember?"
"Something about you is off today."
Alec frowned, and looked down at himself dramatically. "What? Something on my face?"
Max rolled her eyes at his ego. "I'll figure it out, you know. I like a challenge. You coming to the bar later?"
"Might make an appearance. Helping Mole do some repairs."
"You're doing repairs?"
For a moment, Alec looked hurt. "Yes, Max, I do stuff around here besides look good."
Max snorted and pushed past him. "I know that. You always have my back, Alec. I wasn't trying to be mean. I just figured you'd be out swiping stuff for TC before you'd do repairs."
Alec was still a moment, then grinned. "Logan and you gonna show up?"
"Yep." Max nodded once.
"So...." Alec watched her out of the corner of his eye as they made their way to her office. "All cured, and still not getting busy. I'm shocked."
Max glared at him. "It's complicated."
"It always is." Alec gave her a small smile and headed towards his office. Max had the feeling she'd missed something again.
The bar was a couple of blocks from headquarters, and was one of the best morale boosters TC had.
Max handed Logan his beer and smiled. "Drink up."
Logan smiled back and put his hand over hers. "Listen, I've been thinking. I've got some friends down the coast. They've offered me their cabin, it's in the mountains, secluded. Beautiful. Thought you might like to go up there this weekend."
Max stared at him for a moment, then shook her head, smiling gently. "Logan, I can't leave TC. There's a lot of work to be done."
"Max, I think it's be okay for us to have a weekend by ourselves, just once." Logan tried to grin. "It would be nice, you know?"
Max stared at him for a moment, then slowly pulled her hand back from his. "Logan, I'm sorry, but no."
Logan leaned back, and scoffed, glaring in the general direction of the pool tables. "So that's that. You won't leave to spend time with me, and I can't stay here with you because of the toxins. I guess a year was too long to hold onto something."
"Logan," Max shook her head. "It's not like that."
"Don't, Max. Please." Logan sighed and took a deep breath. "I see how they look at me, even the nice ones."
"Hey, guys," Alec said, suddenly appearing with a wad of cash. "I made out good at pool. Want me to buy you a round?"
"Not really, Alec," Logan said coolly.
Alec glanced between them, and nodded once. "Sorry." He walked towards the bar.
Max stared after him, frowning. "He's been acting so weird today. You know, normally he would have forced himself in our business."
"Can we not talk about Alec, please?" Logan cleared his throat at the glances several nearby transgenics gave them, or rather him.
"Hey, Maxie, take it outside," Alec said softly, her hearing picking it up across the room. She met his eyes once in the mirror and nodded.
"Let's go, Logan."
"What? Am I embarrassing you?" Logan hissed it quietly at least as he followed her out. Max glanced towards the bar as she hit the door, and caught Alec watching her, a small frown on his face.
"Please don't be like this," Max said quietly as they made their way on the streets.
"I'm sorry, I can't help it. I keep thinking, all we do is miss each other. Two ships and the old cliche." Logan huffed. "Neither of us would step up when we could have, and the virus hurt us so much, I don't know if we're fixable." She pretended not to notice him watching her as they walked. "The worst part is, we aren't stepping up now either." He stopped, and faced her, forcing her to stop just ahead of him and look back. "So like I said, all we do is miss each other."
"I've got too much going on, Logan. I'm sorry. There's no excuse. I didn't mean for it to happen, but..."
"I know." They stared at each other for a minute. Then Logan smiled nastily. "At least you're being honest this time, instead of dragging Alec into it."
Max bristled, but it was as close to an insult as he would go. The lie of her dating Alec had remained a sore spot, as had Alec in general whenever his name came up. "Want me to walk you to the gate?"
"You already did, Max." Logan gave her a suddenly sad smile. "And you didn't even realize it." Then he turned and walked away, and sure enough, they were only 20 ft from the gate to Seattle.
Max watched him go, and waited for the heartbreak to set in, and waited. Finally, she sighed and walked towards her apartment. It was the tallest building in TC, which she had known when she picked it, to everyones amusement. She was halfway there when she heard it, the scrape of a boot on gravel above her. She looked up and rolled away just as someone slammed into the ground where she had been standing moments before. "What the-" hell are you doing is how she would have finished that, but mid-sentence she felt something smash into her skull, and the last thought she had was that she was gonna beat the hell out of the sentry guard on duty.
For a moment she awoke, to yelling. Some of the voices sounded familiar, but distant, like the gunfire right after. "Max!" That voice she recognized instantly. "Max, we'll come for you!"
She tried to sit up. "Alec!" Someone moved and she didn't even feel the blow that sent her back under.
The next time she woke up, she was in a cage. She didn't even look around, her head was pounding. "White, you out there?"
"Yes, 452. How are you feeling?"
"How do you think?"
"I don't really care, just so we're clear." White chuckled. "I found out my father wants you alive. Of course, I plan to keep you alive just long enough to dump your bleeding corpse at his feet." He was silent a moment. "And looky here."
Max tilted her head and saw him holding a vial of blood in his hand. "What? You needing a tune-up?"
White sneered at her. "Hardly. Just letting you know I got what I needed from you. Dad's big plans for you to save the world? Pretty sure I'm going to figure out his master plan, and end it."
"Yay," Max said dryly, and laid her head back down.
"Keep being so optimistic," White laughed. "I'm going for dinner."
"Oh, go eat a snake," Max muttered, and faded away again.
"Max? Max?! Wake up, Maxie." She opened her eyes and found herself outside of the cage. "Am I dreaming?"
"Yes," Alec panted to her left. "Dream us up a getaway car."
Max blinked, because her dreams never had snarky Alec. "Why are you moody? You're usually nicer in my dreams."
Alec stilled, and looked over at her, surprise on his face. He grinned cockily. "You have dreams about me?"
Max blinked again, and realized this was real. "Alec?"
"Hey, Maxie." His grin faded as he put his finger to his lips. "Incoming," he whispered.
Max shook her head, and fought a wave of nausea. Alec put his hand on her shoulder to steady her, watching in concern. She motioned to her head, and signed concussion.
Alec nodded once, frowning. Two on outside, extraction in five minutes.
Max nodded slightly, and swayed slightly. Alec caught her easily, easing her to the ground. "Stay with me, Maxie. I didn't figure he'd have left you to die."
Max smiled slightly. "It happens."
Gunshots sounded and the thwump of bullets hitting the wall they were leaning against helped wake her up. "I can't stand up, and I can't see straight. Leave me here, get reinforcements, and make the extraction."
"No," Alec said easily. "I'm not playing that game."
He rolled his eyes, leaned around and fired back, then leaned back and shook his head at her. "You're the only one that doesn't know. Even I thought you'd have figured it out by now."
"Figured what out?"
Footsteps behind them made Alec twirl around and fire wildly. Maybe not wildly, as one soldier fell down and the other had to dive for cover. "Now isn't the time, Maxie."
"Surrender," a voice bellowed. "I won't tell you twice."
Alec frowned. "That's not White."
"He went out for dinner. Took my blood with him, snake-worshipping freak."
Alec grinned, and grabbed her arm, "Come on, move." He pulled her behind a stack of crates for cover, then peaked out, pulled back down, and sighed. "Time to stall." He yelled loudly. "Okay, I'm throwing down my gun. I want your promise not to harm her."
"Throw it out, and come out slowly."
"Trust me, Max?" Alec asked quietly as he slipped a fresh magazine into his gun.
Max blinked, wondering if she'd lost her mind as she nodded. "Always."
Alec grinned. "Good." He threw the gun out, towards the soldiers. Max frowned, confused, but Alec was already standing slowly, grinning. "Hey, guys."
"Tell 452 to stand slowly."
"Not gonna happen. You guys gave her a concussion. She can't even see straight, let alone stand."
The soldiers conferred for a moment. "Pull her to her feet."
"No way. I don't trust you guys."
"Imagine that. What were you thinking, coming after her by yourself?"
"I'm in love with her, had to try something," Alec laughed, as Max stared up at him. "Figured I could take White out at least. That's my best gun."
There was a shuffle of movement, and one of the soldiers must have scooped up the gun, because Alec winced. "Was my favorite gun." Then he was dropping to the ground, covering Max with his body as an explosion ripped through the building. He scrambled off of her, looking her over. "Anything hit you?"
"No," she said slowly, staring at him. "You're in love with me?"
Alec stared back at her, and chuckled uneasily. "Had to buy us time Maxie. 15 seconds once I activated the explosive in the magazine. Had to time it just right."
Before Max could respond, there was a cacophony of voices and two X-6's and an X-5 ran up, helping Max to her feet. Max stood on her own for maybe five seconds, and then felt her body go lax. She should have hit the ground, but her last feeling was of someone catching her.
Max opened her eyes. "Hey, you."
Logan smiled back, the worried expression on his face fading. "I heard about the kidnapping and came back. You looked like hell when they brought you in."
"I feel like hell," Max sighed, and pushed herself to a sitting position. "Where's Alec?"
Logan winced slightly. "Outside. He wouldn't agree to go home until you woke up."
"And since you're awake, I'm heading to bed for a year," Alec said smoothly from the doorway.
Max grinned at him. "You came for me. Thanks."
"I got your back, you know that." Something was off though, in the way he was talking. Too smooth.
"Alec?" Max frowned.
Alec glanced at Logan, then at her. "I'll talk to you later." He walked away quickly and silently.
Logan was silent several moments, then smiled at her. "You should let him know."
"That you and I are done."
Max was silent a moment, letting the words work through her, still waiting on the heartbreak to sink in. Still nothing. Finally she looked at him, frowning. "Why should I tell him?"
Logan grinned, stood, and kissed her on her cheek chastely. "You just should."
Max was going to scream from all the hints she kept getting at whatever she was missing.
Max went home that night, not so much because Medical said it was okay, but because she wanted to go home. She was barely out of the building before Alec was at her side.
"Why are we walking around?"
Max frowned at him. "I don't know where you're going. I'm going home."
Alec was quiet a moment. "Logan's not coming?"
Max gave a short laugh. "He was just checking on me. He's been gone since just after you left."
"I figured he'd stay."
Max turned on him, smirking. "Alec, if you're digging, just ask." She turned and started walking again. "Besides, we broke up, yesterday."
Alec caught up to her quickly. "Really? You don't look broken up to me. Shouldn't you be more…depressed, or mopey?"
"I know. I keep waiting on some sort of shock to hit me and then maybe I'll break down or something. Hasn't happened yet." She shrugged.
"It's probably just another phase for you two," Alec muttered.
"I don't think so. Not this time." Max looked over at him, and grinned. "And I didn't even drag your name into it."
"I'm proud of you, Maxie," he said, but he sounded distant.
"Nothing," he said quickly. Then he smiled at her look of concern. "Just got a plan in the works. Sorry, about you and Logie-bear."
Max swatted his arm lightly, and he walked her home in silence, and she didn't ask why he seemed a million miles away.
Two days later Max walked into Alec's office after knocking only once. She glared at him when he barely acknowledged her. "What the Hell is going on?"
"What do you mean?"
"Don't." Max huffed when he looked up at her. "I know you, better than you think. You've been acting differently for a while, and ever since the kidnapping happened, you've been even worse. Now, I just overheard Mole muttering about you leaving him in charge." She smiled at his frown. "So where are you going? And why haven't you told me about it?"
"I got a lead on White. He and his goons are moving their headquarters. I think I'm gonna haunt him for a little while."
Max stared at him. "Haunt him? Or hunt him?"
Alec grinned dangerously. "Either works for me."
"You can't go alone. How long are you going to be gone?"
Alec looked down to his paperwork. "A little while, a few weeks maybe."
Max felt a rush of anger. "So why am I the last to know?"
"I know you too, Max. You'll throw a fit no matter what. Maybe I wanted you happy with me until the last minute."
"When's the last minute?"
Max hesitated, biting her tongue. "All right."
Alec looked back up at her, shock on his face. "What?"
"I'll be in a good mood around you, until the last minute."
"I want you to come back. Pissing you off before you go won't really help that."
They stared at each other a moment, then Alec started to grin and Max rolled her eyes. "I'll talk to you later."
The next two days were spent easily. Work went smoothly, and transition of Alec's duties to Mole went off without a hitch, although Max cursed Alec, swearing he'd picked the one person that would argue everything with her. Alec had grinned and nodded, saying he let her get away with too much.
The final night was spent at the bar, where real beer was served, to everyone's surprise, except for Alec. Laughter and jokes sounded, and finally came the goodbyes. Max and Alec left together, after making sure everyone else got home. They walked in silence back to Alec's apartment.
"Gonna move someone in the second I leave in the morning?"
Max shook her head. "It'll still be yours when you get back. No matter how long you take."
They stopped at his door, and stood there awkwardly for several seconds. "What time are you heading out?"
"Dawn. Seems like a good idea."
Max nodded. "Sounds good."
Alec frowned. "You okay?"
Max grinned. "Trying to resist the urge to kick your ass and prove you right about me throwing a fit."
Alec laughed. "You'll be fine, Maxie."
Max huffed and shrugged. "I know that. I'm worried about you."
"Really?" Alec grinned. "So you do care?"
Max punched him in the arm as hard as she could. He actually hissed in pain. "Don't be an ass."
Alec nodded, rubbing his arm. "My mistake. Of course you care. Pain is often used to communicate care."
Max raised her eyebrows at him, and then sighed. "Let's get this goodbye thing over with. I hate goodbyes."
Alec grinned and held his arms out. "Can I get a hug?"
Max stepped into his arms easily, and marveled at how well they fit together. "You'll be careful right?"
"Of course." He moved back, and leaned down, kissing her on the cheek. He seemed to hesitate a moment, then brushed his lips across hers so quickly she wasn't sure it had happened. He let her go quickly, moving back. "So, I'll keep in touch."
Max stood frozen, confused, and wondering why he wouldn't look her in the face. "Yeah."
Alec looked at her then, watched her a moment, then smiled. "See you later, Max." He let himself in his apartment and shut the door all before Max had recovered enough to even say goodbye.
Max slept for maybe an hour, finally heading down to wait in the garage of Alec's building. His bike was fueled and ready to go, an extra gas can tethered to the back. Somehow he'd managed to update any parts that might go bad anytime soon. All part of a checklist that meant he was going to be gone for a long while.
"Thought you hated goodbyes," Alec said softly from behind her.
"Thought you weren't leaving until dawn. 'Sides, I didn't really have a chance to say goodbye," Max said easily and turned to face him, recognizing the guarded look on his face, the Manticore mask partially in place. Max took a deep breath, making her decision. "I'm not in love with Logan anymore. You knew that."
Alec blinked, somthing coming alive in his face. "And?"
Max smiled at him, almost sadly. "I'm not in love with you either."
Alec nodded, unable to hide his disappointment before she saw it. "I guess that's my cue to leave." He stepped up beside her, his face turned away from her as he readied his pack.
"I need you, though," Max said quietly, and watched him freeze. "I could fall in love with you." She started to reach out to him, then stopped, unsure if it was right to touch him. "I figure I'm why you're leaving."
Alec shook his head. "I'm not leaving just because of you, Max. I want White gone, for good."
"Once you eliminated him, you weren't coming back," Max accused gently.
"What makes you think that?"
"You kissed me." She grinned. "I know a little about kissing someone when you don't think you're ever going to see them again." Max took a deep breath. "That's when I figured out that you were already in love with me. And yeah, I'm the only one that never noticed." She fidgeted. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. Not your fault." He seemed to reconsider. "Well, maybe it is, but you didn't know. You never led me on, you always had my back, and were straight up with me. To be honest, that might have made it worse." He chuckled dryly. "I really was going to keep in touch. But I couldn't stay around here, watching you and him, and knowing you would never notice." He took a deep breath and laughed uneasily. "Wow, I'm chatty this morning."
Max grinned at his back. "So you're coming back. I mean, Logan and I are done, and like I said I don't know, but maybe..." She trailed off and sighed.
"You and Logan will be back together by the end of the week. I know how you two work. It's like a bad soap opera." He finally turned to grin at her. "But I will keep in touch, and maybe, if White doesn't kill me first, I might show up every now and then."
Max frowned. "I'm going to kick your ass, you know that? I don't want to hear that crap. You're gonna kick White's ass, hands behind your back."
Alec grinned. "You really believe in me, Maxie?" He was joking, trying to bring them back to familiar territory.
So Max did the only thing she could. She relished the look of surprise in his eyes as she pulled him down to her, pressing her lips to his. The kiss began chaste, with him not reacting at first. That lasted less than a second, and then his arms clamped around her, pulling her so close to him they almost merged. His kisses turned hungry, and Max felt her whole body tingling. She moaned as his left hand stroked her side, while his right tangled in her hair.
Then he was pulling back, gasping, even though she knew he could hold his breath much longer, and staring at her. Max grinned, and ran her hand through her hair, once. "So..."
Alec grinned suddenly. "You dream about me."
Max blinked, then scoffed. "You wish."
Alec shook his head. "You already told me you did. At the time you thought I was an illusion instead of really being there to rescue you, but it still counts."
Max rolled her eyes, then glared as he smirked. "Shut up."
He leaned towards her again. "What do you dream about me, Maxie?"
"I dream that you're not an annoying, twittering idiot," she said sweetly.
Alec just grinned bigger. "So they're sexy dreams, then."
Max laughed, suddenly nervous as he got closer and closer. "Keep your dreams to yourself, mister, and so will I."
"I don't dream about you, Maxie. I fantasize." Then he kissed her again, slower this time, controlling it completely, not letting her rush it. It was sweet, almost, like he just wanted to kiss her forever. He kissed slowly from her lips, along her jaw, to her ear, then stopped, and she wanted to scream. "I've gotta go, Maxie. Before I can't go."
Strangely enough, she understood, even in the midst of her currently fuzzy brain. White was the objective. "Okay."
He leaned back, looking pained, then smiled. "I'll come back, Max, I promise."
Max nodded once, watching him, wondering why she felt like her heart was breaking. "You'd better, or I'll hunt you down."
Alec nodded quickly, and gave her a mocking salute. "Yes, ma'am." He slipped his backpack on, then hesitated a moment and leaned down to kiss her again, quickly this time. He groaned as he stood straight again. "I think I could get used to doing that for the rest of my life."
Max laughed. "Get out of here, pretty boy."
Alec grinned and started his bike, then smiled at her. "I'm gonna freak you out."
Max frowned. "How?"
He gunned his engine, and for a moment, looked at her seriously. "I love you." Then he smiled at her, and was gone, his engine roaring away in to the dark early morning.
Max stared after him, and smiled, not freaked out in the slightest.
He didn't keep his word. He didn't keep in touch. It was a week before she got a hurried progress report from a pay phone. "Catching up to him, he doesn't know he has a tail. I'll call again when I can."
No 'I love yous.' Not even an 'I miss you.'
Max fell into her routine with Mole easily enough, although they had their rough days. Logan stopped coming to TC, period. They still spoke regularly on the phone, but there was only friendship now.
A few weeks later another phone call came into HQ. He said he was still heading east, and asked if everyone was all right. Then he said to tell everyone hi, and hung up. She'd been asleep, and furious for a week that no one had roused her.
A month later Logan called about a shootout that had happened in Old Chicago. Someone who matched the description of a transgenic, but other than that no details. No bodies either. Max was quiet for a few moments, knowing it had to be him, even though she couldn't understand how she knew. He wasn't dead, she'd know that, somehow.
Eyes Only made a broadcast without her advance knowledge, stating simply that old friends could always ask each other for help, and were not forgotten.
A week later, a man stepped up to the Terminal City gates, asking for her. She knew him before he said his name, or even before Joshua's bellowed reaction of "Father!" His hair had gone white, but Ames White could claim some of his looks. He smiled at her, and said he'd been asked to come by one of his children, who had been carrying around a picture of her. She knew before she took the envelope that it had to have been Alec. Sure enough, from the envelope fell a piece of paper that said simply: I miss you too.
After that time began to pass more swiftly, with Sandeman helping decode the mystery of her DNA, which literally had a code written into it. The code held the cure to the cult's prophesied plague.
It was six month's after Sandeman had joined them that she walked into a very quiet HQ. "What's going on?" She asked Mole.
Mole turned the TV on for her. A major shootout in the state of Virginia had left several dead, and connections to some sort of doomsday cult were being investigated by local authorities. "Did he get White?"
"Yes," Sandeman said softly. "He did."
Max hesitated only a moment over possibly hurting Sandeman's feelings. "Did they get him?"
"Nobody knows," Mole said quietly.
"They didn't," Max said confidently.
"How do you know?"
"I just do."
No one argued with her.
Max waited next to the fence her every spare moment, waiting to be the first to see him, hold him. Finally she went back to work, then home to bed.
It was three-thirty in the morning when she woke up to silence. She waited for what had woken her, but there was no sound. She sighed and closed her eyes, when she heard it again, a breath. She reached for her light quickly, ready to battle.
"It's me." His voice echoed in her room.
The light came on, and she saw him just a few feet away, leaning against the wall, looking exhausted, but smiling. "I'm sorry, I just wanted to watch you sleep for a few minutes."
Max stared at him, torn between yelling in anger and rushing over to embrace him. Finally she cleared her throat. "You didn't keep in touch."
Alec winced. "I'm sorry. I would have if I could have, but I didn't think it was safe."
"Bullshit." Max huffed and shook her head. "I know better than that. It's been almost a year!"
"I know that."
"Yeah? Could have fooled me!" Max pulled her pants on, and glared at him. "I was- Everyone was so worried! And you had to be the macho man, just like always!" Max shook her head. "I was the only one that still thought you were alive. The looks they gave me, full of pity! Over you! I can't believe I was so stupid!"
Alec just stared at her, slowly starting to smile. "You waited?"
"Waited?" Max stared at him, then groaned. "You're serious?!"
"Did you?" Suddenly he was serious. "Max?"
Max looked away from him, then sighed. "Yes, I waited." She pulled her knees up to set her chin on them, still not looking at him.
Alec stood slowly, and walked to her, sitting next to her and staring at her. "Your hair got longer." He played with the ends of her hair for a moment.
Max rolled her eyes. "It happens."
"I got shot," he said suddenly.
Max stared at him. "What?!"
He nodded absently. "Twice. First in Old Chicago, then in Virginia last month. Thought I was going to die the second time."
"Hospital fixed me up, then I broke out before they asked too many questions. Took my time getting back. Didn't want to pull anything."
Max frowned and almost slapped him. He must have seen it in her face because he held his hands up defensively. "Hey, I didn't plan on getting shot!"
"No, but you never should have gone," Max shot back. She sighed, shaking her head.
Alec nodded, serious again. "I had to. I have a lot to make up for, Maxie, I know."
"Yeah, you're gonna be in a heap of trouble once the others get ahold of you."
"I meant with you." Alec laid his hand on her cheek. "I think I'm going to make you fall in love with me. It'll make us even."
"Yeah. You kept me alive, Max. I owe you." Then he kissed her softly. Max responded in kind. "So that's the plan," he said softly when he pulled back. "You fall in love with me, and I get to kiss you forever. Fair trade."
"Only kissing?" Max grinned at his briefly shocked look. "I thought you had fantasies we need to work out," she teased.
Alec grinned. "I love you." He kissed her again. "I love you."
"I think I love you, too," Max said softly. "I mean I missed you, and I needed you."
Alec nodded, his eyes bright. "I'm not leaving again. No matter how much you hate me some days."
Max nodded. "Good. Cuz I really am gonna kick your ass for being gone so long."
Alec said nothing and kissed her. Max had to agree with him. She could get used to kissing him for the rest of her life too.