title: Gift Bag

author: Nev


Rating: G; Disclaimer: all things Dark Angel belong to James Cameron, Charles Eglee, etc.

Archive: if you want it, just ask.

Author's note: I've actually written something! These moments come few and far between for me now :p So hopefully this isn't too bad (and, yes, I know that if I write anything, it should be a continuation of any one of the many wips I've got going right now. Sorry! I am at the mercy of my Muse, and this is all she would give me.) Please tell me what you think of it.

(Author's note 2: Yes, I've changed my pen name, but I will continue to use pari as my username at Fanfiction.Net to avoid confusion :p )


The building had aged rather well, for having been built just before the Pulse.

In any case, it had been well-maintained. Its white stone face was clean, and its windows hadn't been broken. It looked impressive sitting in a neighborhood of otherwise dilapidated old apartment buildings and utilitarian-looking office buildings. The woman standing outside its perimeter, looking up, knew the inside of the building would be equally impressive. All pristine, white walls, marble staircases, and arched walkways. But she wasn't interested in the building. She was after what was inside it.

Dressed all in sleek, black leather, the woman adjusted the length of nylon rope looped over her right shoulder and smiled softly. She approached the building from the back.

She was totally unaware of the man watching her from the shadows. He smiled as well, and followed behind her at a safe distance.


Max made relatively short work of getting inside the museum. She'd decided to go in through the skylight. It really was the only option, since the entirety of the museum was armed with motion detectors along the floor.

She lowered her rope into the room where her prize lay, then repelled down it.

There it was before her: a baseball. A baseball on a gold-plated stand, covered in glass; Sammy Sosa's 756th homerun ball. Max's soft smile became a grin as she pulled small tools out of her belt and began opening the ball's case. It was almost too easy.

Max had learned long before then that anything that seems too easy, generally turns out to be incredibly complicated.


"Alec? What the hell are you doing here?"

Max said the oddly familiar words without thinking about them. She was a little bit...guilty? Perhaps? And startled. She hadn't known she was unalone in the room until a rope had lowered next to her and a man had dropped behind her, his hands going to her hips. He had pulled her gently against him, and she had felt his breath, warm and soft, against her ear.

She'd instinctually tensed up, ready to fight. Then her other senses had kicked in, and Max knew the identity of her sudden, unintended partner-in-crime.

"Stealing a baseball," Alec replied, almost as if he were reading lines from a cue card. Or from memory. Which Max supposed he was, remembering the moment in their history so much like this one.

Max knew Alec was grinning at her, although she wasn't turned so that she could see. His breath now was at the back of her neck, and she had the strong suspicion that he was smelling her hair. Max resisted the urge to squirm, Alec's hands resting with his fingers splayed out around her hips; the warmth of their bodies mingling.

"Why? What are you doing, Max?" Alec asked.

Max fought to keep her own lips in a neat, neutral line.

And she attempted to pull away from him, half-heartedly; even went so far as to try and elbow him in the ribs, which he - of course- anticipated, letting her go and grabbing his rope once more.

"Trying to pay back a friend," Max said, putting as much false indignation into her voice as she could muster. "This is an extreme situation that is entirely your fault."

The words were the same as those spoken years before, although the meaning behind them had changed.

Alec's lips twitched into a grin again, but he managed to play along. He grabbed Max's rope before she could react, twirling Max around.

"Well, why don't you let me make things right," he suggested. "You go on home. I'll swipe the ball and get it back to you."

He playfully shoved into her, just enough to make them both sway, knocking Max's hand away from the baseball's glass case. She pushed him away with her foot.

"Yeah. Nice try, pretty boy." As soon as she was steady enough, Max reached for the ball again. She opened the case. "But I don't believe you."

Max knew from experience not to trust Alec's sense of fair play in instances like this, and so knew to work quickly. She grabbed the priceless bit of memorabilia she'd come to steal before Alec could snatch it, dropping her facade and smiling as she did.

Alec looked unconcerned. He had crossed his arms over his chest and laughed at Max's triumphant expression. The next time he pulled Max to him, she didn't pull away. Alec positioned his hands on Max's waist and his strong thighs on either side of hers. He sighed as Max brandished the ball between them with a raised brow.

"Now who's sorry he decided we should exchange gifts this year?" she asked.

Alec shook his head, but he was still chuckling. The look in his eyes and the sincerity of his smile gave Max pause and she softened somewhat in his embrace. She loved these moments of tenderness from him as much as she loved their moments of passion and even their heated arguments.

"Alright, alright," Alec conceded. "The ball is a very thoughtful gift." The first time they had tried to steal it, together though apart, had been only a few short months before they'd begun to acknowledge their feelings for one another. Max had decided that giving it to Alec would be a statement; the type of statement neither of them made often enough. Apparently Alec had made the same decision. He took the ball from her, leaning over to brush his lips over her gloved fingertips as he did.

Max's smile froze as he spoke. "Too bad you forgot to wrap it, or you could have given it to me."

Max was so shocked, that Alec had drawn back and started to repel towards the skylight before she'd even registered that she'd been had.

"Alec!" Max narrowed her eyes, and put her hands on her hips. In her angry frustration, she wasn't entirely careful with her movements, and had lashed out at the pedestal beneath her before she could think about it. As in in slow motion, the pedestal fell, the baseball's glass case on its top shattering on the marble floor. Alarms rang out all over the building.

"Alec!" Max screamed again.

Alec grinned down at her through the skylight.

"I love you, sweetheart!" he said, in a sweet voice. "Now come on or we'll end up spending our anniversary in lockdown."

[the end.]