A/N: Warning, character death. If you want a happy, fluffy story, turn around now and do not look back. Although, if you've read my other stuff, you probably didn't expect a Cinderella story. Dark themes ahead, so consider yourself warned.


Disclaimed: Surprisingly, I still don't own Dark Angel. Even more surprisingly, Dark Angel still belongs to James Cameron, Charles Eglee, and Fox. (If you were actually surprised by this little revelation, I advise you to seek help now.)





The Killer Inside



Streets
Seattle, WA., October 8th, 2020



Present


She felt the rain, its chill, snaking to kiss exposed flesh, grasping with covetous
fingers for her gasping figure. The sweetness of fresh precipitation perfumed the air, its
scent writhing within keen nostrils.

But something darker, more sinister, lurked beneath the rain's scent.

Blood.

She tasted its bitterness on her tongue, the cold dark liquid lying stagnant against
the warmth of her mouth. Her gore streamed between cupped fingers, the ragged wound
in her shoulder bleeding slowly through leather.

The pain screamed through every nerve, brutal in its travel, thrusting her insides
to violent fire. She trembled beneath its furious touch, legs buckling slightly beneath this
cruel onslaught.

Not the agony of the gunshot wound; that in itself had retreated somewhere deep
within her. It lingered only in the deepest recesses of her mind, already shoved aside,
forgotten. This pain stemmed from something worse. Betrayal. Fear. And the longing
to forgive him, despite what he had just done, what he was about to do.

Emotions coiled in her stomach, surging bile up her throat, churning stomach
acids until she felt physically ill. The bile thrust at her lips, demanding to be released.
She swallowed hard, raising dark eyes to his own.

Rainwater danced across steel, the metallic thrum taunting her hypersensitive
hearing.

The gun never wavered as it travelled slowly from one shoulder to her chest, its
sights accompanied by a pair of cold and emotionless hazel eyes.

"Alec." Max whispered, swallowing again. "What the hell are you doing? Put
the gun down."

"Sorry 452. It ain't happening."

"I said, put it down. You don't know what the hell you're doing."

"I know your termination has been ordered. And I'm a good little soldier; I
follow my orders. It's too bad the same can't be said for you. Maybe Manticore
wouldn't be so hasty to have me put a bullet between your eyes."

"Manticore doesn't exist anymore, Alec!" she hissed, desperate. "This is White.
This is all White. Don't you remember anything? Manticore burning down? Jam Pony?
Normal? Original Cindy? Sketchy?" She searched his eyes for sign of recognition.
"Me?"

His finger slipped from the trigger guard to the trigger, and tightened minutely.

"Alec, it's Max!"

"I heard the 09 escapees named themselves." He shrugged.

"Alec! Listen to me; you don't want to do this. You don't want to kill me. This
isn't you. You're not a killer anymore. Remember Rachel? Remember what Manticore
did to you after that?"

His face flickered briefly before tightening once again.

"They killed her, Alec, and then tortured you so that you'd forget about her. They
killed the girl you loved."

"Manticore didn't order me to make small talk." he replied, voice steady. She
glimpsed something flash within his eyes, before the cold soldier's mask dropped once
more.

"Alec."

"My designation is 494, not Alec."

"Your name is Alec. Not 494. You have a job delivering packages at Jam Pony
Xpress-the boss, Normal. You're his Golden Boy. You've slept with practically every
woman in the place." She perused his face through frantic eyes. "White did this to you.
I don't know how, but he made you forget. This is White, not Manticore. Manticore's
dead, Alec. I torched the place a year ago."

"White, or Manticore, I've got orders." He shrugged indifferently.

His finger tightened across the trigger.

Max blurred.

The gun exploded.

She was on him before he had time to aim again, thrusting him back with a
powerful hit, whirling in a spinning kick and knocking the weapon flying.

But she'd been shot, injured, her internal fluids slowly pooling to the rain-slick
pavement, and he had ten years of training on her.

His arm snapped out, flinging her backward, features dead-calm as he lashed out
with a vicious backfist that snapped her head up. The thud of flesh on flesh shattered the
stillness, the noise sickeningly loud in Max's sensitive ears.

She grasped his wrist, twisted it up and around, to jerk his arm behind his back.

He kneed her in the stomach.

She fell back, gasping, clutching with trembling fingers for her abdomen as he
advanced.

The rain streamed down his beautiful face, caressing flesh beneath its icy touch,
blurring his features before her. Through the wetness, the dark night, they shimmered
ethereally, this face she knew so well terrifyingly strange.

He lunged with a fist.

Max side-stepped, and grasped his head fiercely in both hands, thrusting it to her
own, her lips darting in to ravage his. She parted his full mouth with her tongue,
plundering his mouth, tasting him with nipping teeth. He stiffened, his fighting stance
deteriorating in shock.

She clung desperately to him, moving her lips hard against her own, cupping his
damp cheeks in her hands. *Please, Alec. Come on.*

She felt a presence at her stomach; not the warmth of his body, not the hardness
of his muscles, but cold steel. Ripping through sinew, spilling blood as it carved a
torturous path through her insides.

"Shit!" Max gasped against him, stumbling back.

The world swayed before her. His strong figure blurred, then rippled back
together.

She blinked up at him through streaming water, one hand surging to the knife hilt
protruding from her abdomen.

"Alec." His name parted full lips in a stunned whisper.

He reached for the weapon's handle, grim purpose darkening hazel eyes to murky
emerald, intending to finish her off.

She jerked the knife free of her body as he lunged, and turned it in her hand, blade
out.

He stumbled right onto it, gleaming steel parting the threads of his T-shirt, tearing
material and flesh as it plunged through his solar plexus. His eyes widened; she saw the
hardened soldier flee his gaze, the pain and shock thrusting him back to the man he'd
been.

And 494 dissipated into the surrounding chill of night with the lightness of a
passing spirit, leaving a trembling Alec to collapse in Max's arms.



Joshua's
Seattle, WA., September 28th, 2020


His scent lingered in the old house, drifting tantalisingly near her nostrils, the
pleasant smell interspersed with Joshua's distinct canine odor.

She pocketed both hands within supple leather and inhaled, taking in this slight
presence of him.

Her eyes fluttered closed, and the memories took her with a ferocity that left her
weak-kneed.

*Flashback*

"Max, I'm sorry." he whispered.

She felt the warmth of his arm descend to her waist, pulling her against his side
as his lips sought her hair. The heat of his body curled to slowly envelop her, lending
comfort to her torn and bleeding spirit. She turned her face into his chest, the sobs
trembling her shoulders.

He offered no wisecracks, instead drawing her lightly into him, gently stroking
the back of her head.

She cried for a long time, until gradually the grief faded somewhat and she stood
still and silent within his arms, breathing his scent as he held her.

He kissed the top of her head once more, then drew slightly back, bending down
to catch her eyes.

She darted her gaze away, feeling slightly awkward that he had witnessed this
moment of weakness.

"Hey." he said softly, jostling her ever-so-slightly. "I understand why you did it.
You had to, Max."

"Wow, that's so wonderful that you understand, 'cause I was just waiting for your
approval." she returned sarcastically.

He looked hurt.

She slipped her eyes closed and sighed, shaking her head, feeling a fresh wave of
agony welling deep inside at the look on his face. "Alec...I'm sorry. I'm such a bitch. I
didn't mean it...like that."

He shrugged. "S'ok. I know you've got some kind of obsession with bustin' my
chops. Though I'd rather you squeeze my ass instead of kick it all the time."

That curved her full lips in a slight smile, as he'd hoped it would. She thrust him
away, to send him stumbling against the counter. "Bastard."

"Bitch." he returned almost gleefully, and they shared a knowing, almost tender
smile.

She wasn't aware how it happened. Only that one moment, he stood facing her a
few feet away, and the next he was right before her, his 6' frame bent to her own as their
faces lifted to one another. Their lips touched, sampled, and she felt his arms gather her
close, holding her tightly against his firm chest.

His lips moved soft and slow against her own, his taste, his smell, the sensation of
his hard body pressed all along hers intoxicating. She thrust her fingers up to tangle
them in the strands of hair at the nape of his neck, lightly fingering the barcode tattooed
there as he traced the outline of her full lips with his tongue.

She shivered and clutched him harder, opening her mouth against his, darting her
tongue out to his own.

He pulled back abruptly, eyes fluttering, throat constricting in a hard swallow.

"Max." Alec whispered, and tentatively cupped her cheek in his hand.

Somewhere deep within, she began to question what the hell she was doing,
kissing Alec when she was supposed to still be in love with Logan. Kissing Alec-and
even worse, enjoying it. Enjoying it immensely.

Her name thrummed his vocal cords huskily, his voice softer and deeper than
usual. His lips descended to her cheekbone, gently kissing it, fingertips grazing her satin
flesh in a featherlight caress.

He stooped to lean his forehead against hers, and took her lips with his own once
more, the heat of his body rippling all throughout her.

*I can't do this. I'm supposed to be in love with Logan.*

But Max was not the first to pull away. Alec stiffened, and she knew that the
question of what the hell he was doing had just crossed his own mind.

His eyes flew open, to seek her own.

He backed away, the color bleeding from his perfect face, hazel orbs luminous
and wide beneath buzzing overhead lights.

She swallowed hard, without taking her eyes from his, trying to think of
something to bring him back. Her throat hardened, and his name died on her lips.

*End flashback*

The front door slammed, and Max felt herself thrust back to reality. She opened
frightened eyes in time to see him step inside, balancing a pizza box on one hand, hair
wind-tossed in a manner she found irritatingly sexy. He appeared damp; his clothes slick
beneath a thick sheen of rainwater. The jeans already worn tightly to call attention to the
very ass she saw fit to always threaten clung to his athletic body.

"Hey, Josh! I picked up a pizza, pal. Figured I'd give you a break from the
cooking for one night."

He glanced up, and noticed her.

She felt his tongue at her mouth once more, his hands stroking her face, the taste
of him lingering on her lips long after he'd pulled away.

"Hey Max." he said, sounding slightly wary. Three weeks she avoids me, just to
show up now, when all I want to do is kick back and relax and forget about things for a
few hours?

She moistened her lips with the same tongue that had probed his own, explored
the depths of his mouth. He swallowed and looked away, heart taking up a thundering
beat within his chest.

"Hey." she returned quietly, hands trembling in cold perspiration beneath the
leather gloves she wore.

"So," he began with much more ease than he felt, "Is this a social call, or do you
have news on the latest freak sendin' the fair town of Seattle into a tranny-killin' panic?"
He tossed the pizza box onto a nearby armchair.

"No. I came to talk."

*Shit. Of course.*

"Alec, what happened the other night, at my apartment-"

"The other night? You mean almost a month ago, right? Because that's about
how long you've been ignoring me. Leavin' Crash as soon as I show up, delivering all
your packages one right after another without any breaks in between. Hell, I think
Normal's about ready to have a heartattack."

She shifted her gaze from the intensity of his eyes.

"So tell me Max." His tone rang deceptively amicable. "Logan find the virus,
and you've been off fucking Wonderboy into the late hours of the morning? And you
couldn't be bothered to explain to me that whatever temporary insanity possessed you
that night in your apartment is now completely gone and you're with the man you love?"

Her beautiful face flared in anger. "What?"

He smiled without humor. "I don't need your pity, and I don't need any
explanations. I know what happened between us was just a one-time deal. You wanted
someone to paw, that's it."

"No, dammit!" she hissed. "That's more your style, taking some girl home for
the night so you can screw her brains out until your heart's content."

*My heart isn't content. It never has been. It never will be, unless a certain bitchy
brunette suddenly realises Logan isn't so great and comes running to me with open arms.
And we both know there's no way in hell that will ever happen.*

He almost voiced the worlds aloud, but swallowed them aside, instead coaching
his face to the hard, emotionless mask he'd learned to perfect over the years.

"What do you want, Max? Why are you here?"

Would he consider her screaming "I want you!" and leaping into his arms a bit
too hasty of an answer?

The words lingered at the tip of her tongue. She longed to say them, knew that he
needed to hear them, that he wanted to be loved and wanted, just as they all did. He
could hide it behind his tough-man soldier act all he wanted, but underneath
pain-in-the-ass, sex-obsessed, conceited bastard Alec, lurked another, darker layer. A
layer of insecurities and doubts, and the agony of the horrors he'd endured during twenty
three years of life. Beneath superficial Alec lay in wait a man who wanted someone to
love him, to forgive him of past sins.

He eyed her expectantly, crossing both arms over his chest.

"You're a jerk."

He quirked both eyebrows. "That's why you're here? Because I'm a jerk? Max,
I thought we'd established that a long time ago."

"Because you're a jerk, and I still have...I don't know. Feelings, I guess, for you.
I guess I came to figure out how you felt." Her pulse thudded rapidly in her throat; she
felt anxiety hollow the pit of her stomach.

The mask dissipated into nothingness as he stood staring at her. Her eyes traced
the line of his throat as he swallowed hard. After a long, suspended moment, he parted
full lips to speak. "Well, now, that'll boost a man's self esteem, huh? 'You're a jerk, but
I guess I still have feelings for you.'" He smirked and looked down at his feet,
uncrossing both arms to scratch at the back of his neck.

"You think I'm lying?" she demanded, voice rising.

He closed his eyes briefly before replying. "I think you're confused. Now why
the hell you had to drag me into it is beyond me."

Her hands clenched to lie as hard fists along both sides. "What the hell is your
problem? I came here to you that night in my apartment wasn't a 'one time deal.' At
least, I don't want it to be."

"Oh gee, Max, I feel so privileged. You leave me danglin' on a string for three
weeks, then decide, 'Oh hey, what the hell? Can't have Logan, might as well take
Alec-he's always up for a little action.' Excuse me if I'm not exactly giddy with
enthusiasm."

"Who the hell are you to try and make me guilty for leaving you 'dangling on a
string'?" You're the asshole who takes a girl you've known for a grand total of three
minutes home to screw her three brain cells out. I mean, it's not like you're ever going to
call her again, right Alec? A girl gets a night of pleasure with you and that's it. No
taking her out to dinner, no meeting her parents. Sex. That's all it's about. And you're
whining about me leaving you hanging? How about all those girls you've slept with and
then just ignored, like nothing ever happened?"

"Just about sex, huh, Max? Is that why you're here, then? Because you know
I've got a libido the size of this state and you can get a little action for a few hours
without having to worry about me following you around like a lost little puppy begging
for more? You finally decide you've been sexually deprived for too long?"

"No! I'm not here for sex. I said I had feelings for you. I didn't say I wanted to
hump you for an hour and then leave." she ground out between clenched teeth.

He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, hard, between thumb and
forefinger. "Max, you don't want me. You want a replacement for not being able to
touch Logan, and you'll take the nearest three-legged member of the species you can
find." he said quietly, glancing up at her through dark lashes.

"Alec, dammit you stubborn bastard! Quit being an obnoxious asshole for one
second and listen to me. I am not looking for a replacement for Logan. Logan's the past.
The virus isn't going anywhere, and I can't do anything about it." She shuffled closer to
him. "But that's not why I'm here." Her fingers settled tentatively on his forearm,
trembling against the sodden material of his jacket.

His gaze traversed to the leather gloved palm cupping his limb. He felt a
hardening lump crusting his throat, and swallowed with difficulty as she tightened her
hold.

"Alec, do you want to be with me?"

She'd posed the question, and it lingered heavily between them.

He raised his eyes to her own, looking stunned. His full lips parted, closed, and
parted again. She touched her fingertips lightly to them, tracing their contour as he
peered down at her.

His eyes fluttered, and her full lips curved in a slight smile. *The cocky bastard
isn't always so sure of himself, I guess.*

His breath rippled lightly across her hand as she brought it up to caress the side of
his face. He nuzzled his face into her palm, sighing softly. His lips stroked her fingers in
a featherlight kiss as she brushed them across his jaw.

"Is that an answer?" she asked, smiling as he opened his eyes.

"Max, I love you." he said quietly. "I don't want to be your fuck-at-leisure boy
toy until Logan's available."

She grasped his face in both hands and thrust it down to her own for a brief kiss.
"I don't want you to be."

He smiled then, widely and happily, a completely genuine expression that set her
heart to thundering against her ribcage. "Well then, does this mean I finally get to touch
your ass without fear of castration?"

"If you're a good boy and get me a piece of pizza before it goes cold, then we'll
talk privileges."


* * *


A smile crossed thin lips as his eyes fell on the scene before him.

They'd fallen asleep together, both cuddled into the armchair Alec had positioned
close to the TV. The flickering monitor cast pacing shadows across their entwined
figures, lingering over smooth flesh and the dark waterfall of Max's hair.

Joshua reached with gentle fingers for the blanket Alec had tossed over them,
resettling the coarse wool across his slumbering friends.

Alec stirred, snuggling his face farther into the crook of Max's neck. His arms
tightened reflexively around her, pulling them closer even in sleep.

She smiled slightly in response, his touch crossing the realms of unconsciousness
and undulating pleasantly throughout her sleeping body.

"Max and Alec happy now." Joshua whispered, cocking his head as he brushed
hair from Alec's forehead.



Beneath the moonlight they gathered, edged in silver brilliance as they converged
on the sagging old house.

The carmine illumination of their laser sights darted nimbly across grimy
windows, sweeping the interior, dancing on peeling walls for a moment before surging
onward.

They tread cautiously, hyperaware of the inhabitants of the dilapidated shack and
their incredible abilities. Boots thrummed softly, almost noiselessly against soggy earth
as the dark-garbed figures closed in.

"Don't kill anyone." their hard-faced leader ordered.

And they began to ascend the porch, guns lifted in preparation.



Alec felt something wrong deep within his bones, and jerked awake to the
pounding drumbeat of his own heart. His nostrils flared wide, inhaling her scent, the
faintest whiff of roses and watermelon expanding to fill his nose.

He drew back from the warmth of her body, flinging aside the blanket enveloping
their tangled figures.

Max moaned and stirred, protesting the absence of his body.

"Shh." he whispered, reaching to stroke aside the hair falling loosely across her
face. His fingertips lingered against her skin as he listened, thumb absently circling the
soft curve of her cheekbone.

From outside, beneath the light patter of falling rain, his sensitive ears perceived
the lightest thunk of footsteps.

Alec stiffened.

Their lasers flickered as tiny pinpricks of crimson within the old house.

"Shit."

He cupped his hands against her shoulders, rocking her body with all the urgency
roiling within his stomach. "Max. Max, wake up."

"Hmm?" she murmured, inhaling deeply and blinking sleepily up at him.
"What?" Her voice rang husky with sleep.

"Wake up. Someone's out there."

"What do you mean?" she whispered, sitting up, the blanket slipping down to
pool in her lap. The grimness of his face awakened a sudden fear in the pit of her
stomach. She felt the slick of bile rise to glaze her throat.

The lights thrust through the window nearest them once again.

And she heard the footsteps, drawing nearer.

"Oh shit. Joshua...someone must have spotted him." Her frightened gaze surged
to Alec's own. "They called the cops."

Alec jerked his head in the direction of Joshua's room. "Quick. Go get him. We
have to get the hell out of here."

She nodded and quickly extricated her limbs from his, leaping nimbly to her feet.
He rose beside her, eyes fixed on the door as the scrape of boots on wood permeated the
house. "Go, Max." Alec whispered, sparing a brief glance over at her as she hesitated.

"You can't hold them off all by yourself."

He shrugged. "I can hold them long enough. Just get Joshua out of here. I'll
meet you guys at Logan's."

But he wouldn't. And they both knew it. If he stayed, the cops would show no
mercy for a transgenic; their bullets would tear through his body, thrust the life from
those shimmering hazel eyes.

"Alec-" Max whispered, eyes luminous in the darkness.

The door buckled inward, bowing in acquiescence to the heavy blow of a
well-aimed kick. Wood snapped and cracked; a second kick flung the door completely
from its hinges.

They dropped automatically into fighting stance, blurring to greet the first
intruder before he had a chance to raise his weapon.

Alec's fist broke the man's jaw. He opened his mouth to cry out, and Max shut it
again with a vicious spinning kick. She grasped the bullet-proof vest of the cop, and
chucked his body unceremoniously into the wall at their backs.

Two fists lashed out in unison, sprawling the second man to the floor, his helmet
mangled from the force of their hits. His blood spread as a crimson oil slick at Max's
feet.

A shot punctured the night, the bullet thunking into the wall a few inches from
where she stood.

A second crack of gunfire transcended the echoing remnants of the last, and a
man went down, blood foaming to his mouth with an agitated gurgle. "Watch where you
point those things!" a man screamed. "I told you I didn't want them killed!"

Max froze as recognition spread within her.

*White. Oh shit. Oh my God.*

She grasped for Alec, jerking him out of the fighting, catching him as he
stumbled.

"Max, what the hell?"

"Run." she hissed into his ear, and shoved him in the direction of Joshua's
bedroom. "Now, dammit!"

The force of her push flung him into a nearby wall; his bones jarred with the
impact. He perused her face through stunned eyes, and found nothing but fierce
determination.

"Dammit, I mean it, Alec! I don't want him here for White to play with."

The intruders, met with no more resistance, flooded the living room, gun barrels
surging to target both transgenics.

And from somewhere within the house, Joshua's voice rang out, as small and
uncertain as a frightened child's. "Max? Alec?"

Max, buoyed by the terror in his tone, blurred to meet them, fists raised.

But Alec reached them first, his body shielding her own as he waded into their
midst. He struck ferociously, fighting with the desperation of a cornered animal, fists
and feet flying almost simultaneously.

"Max!" Joshua called.

"Max!" Alec yelled, his voice high and ragged. "Get him out of here."

She lingered for a single moment, torn, heart constricting painfully within her
chest.

Then, hearing Joshua cry her name once more, Max turned, and ran.


* * *


September 28th-October 7th


The pain screamed through every nerve, its torture never-ending. Each day he
prayed to a God he didn't believe in for the agony to stop, for his body to just quit and
die.

But White was too skilled for that. He wielded the laser artfully, piercing the
depths of Alec's dilated eyes with its searing intensity, watching silently as the young
transgenic screamed and arched against his restraints.

Gnashing teeth punctured the delicate flesh of a tongue; Alec felt the corrosive
touch of blood within his mouth, its taste overwhelmed by the dense fog of pain. The
liquid dribbled down his chin, unhampered as it traversed the slope of his jaw. Dimly he
heard it patter to the cold cement floor, and then the world flashed crimson before him,
and his body arched in another violent spasm.

The pleasure he got out of watching one of these animal scum suffer aside, this
torment had at first been an unsuccessful attempt to rend information on the whereabouts
of the oh-so-elusive 452 from Alec. 494, however, had proven to be much more loyal
than expected, and White had learned nothing.

Now, he prolonged this filthy beast's pain for his own enjoyment. 494's screams
reverberated throughout the small room, piercing, guttural noises of pure animalistic
nature.

When unconsciousness finally, mercifully took him, and Alec slumped limply in
his binds, White felt disappointment and realisation spread within him.

The X-5's, however beastly and worthless he considered them, had been
manufactured too defiant, too strong. 494 would not break and reveal 452's location.
452, he suspected, would prove equally uncooperative if interrogated on the whereabouts
of his son.

Which meant he had no reason to want her alive any longer.


* * *


The coma that claimed Alec following his torture held him captive for four days.
He woke to bright lights and violent nausea on the fourth day, every muscle weak and
trembling.

He slipped a tongue out to traverse dry and cracked lips, tasting his own vomit.

He remembered nothing. How he had ended up in this place, why he wasn't in
his cell at Manticore, the events following the torching of Manticore. These memories
eluded him completely, flickering before him for a brief moment before dissipating into
nothingness.

White nearly kissed the man when he discovered his new-found amnesia. What
better way to kill that bitch, then to send her very own fucking partner on a mission to
destroy her? It would be much more painful than anything he could ever make her
endure.



Present


"Oh my God." she whispered, feeling violently sick as he sagged against her.
"Oh my God. Alec."

His eyes sought her own, wide and frosted in pain as he clung to her.

Her fingers slipped down to quiver against the knife handle; she braced herself
and yanked it free of his body. The blade shimmered crimson beneath the moonlight,
thick with his gore.

"Alec!" Max whispered again, cupping his cheek in her hand, hot tears
dampening her lashes. "I didn't mean to! I'm sorry!" Her face crumpled in a sob.

His knees buckled, and she lowered him carefully to glistening pavement, the
knife clattering from her fingers. He gasped convulsively, chest struggling with each
breath.

"Max." he said, fumbling for her hand. His fingertips trembled violently within
her own.

She raised his palm to her lips, placing a fierce kiss against his blood-stained
flesh.

"Why didn't you come after me?" he asked, sounding broken, his voice raspy and
halting.

"I tried to, baby!" Max sobbed, stroking hair from his forehead. "I tried to. But
White wasn't holding you with his Familiars, and I didn't know where else to look. I
came after you, Alec. I didn't want to just leave you."

"I didn't want to kill you. But after he tortured me, I didn't remember..." he
explained quietly, desperation thick in his voice. "I swear I didn't want to, Max."

"I know."

The tears twined the length of her face, gently caressing the curves of her
cheekbones. Another strangled sob exploded from her lips as she peered down at him.
She bent to kiss his mouth, burying her face in his neck and crying quietly.

"Don't cry, Maxie." he whispered close to her ear. His lips touched her temple
lightly, lingering for a long moment as he nuzzled his face against hers. "You didn't
mean to. Guess that's what I get, tryin' to take on a bitch like you." His mouth curved in
a soft smile, and she broke away to kiss him again.

"I'll get you help. My bike's just around the corner. We can make it."

He shook his head. "Max, you know we can't. I'm losin' too much blood. An
ordinary would be dead already."

"No, you're not, dammit! What the hell kind of talk is that, anyway? You're not
going to die."

"Do you love me?" he asked, reaching a hand up to stroke the back of her head.

"Yes, dammit! Yes! That's why I'm not just going to let you lay here and bleed
to dea-"

"See? I must have some kind of record going. Now that I've got you, that must
be every heterosexual female in Seattle who loves me." He smiled as his fingertips
combed the sodden strands of her hair.

She slipped her fingers through his, kissing their tips, squeezing her eyes shut as
the fierce ache within thrust more tears down her slick face.

"I love you too, Max. Told you I'm about more than just sex." he whispered.

And she felt him leave, as surely as though he'd climbed to his feet and walked
off into the raging tempest.


A/N 2: I'm a sick puppy. I even depressed myself with this one.