Incommunicado

Disclaimer: "Dark Angel" isn't mine.

This takes place in the first season, relatively early, I think. Or maybe towards the end. Dunno. Sorry . . .

***

He's silent, mostly; she can hear his breathing and maybe even his heartbeat, pounding against the turning of the wheels and the humming of the engine. He's not happy, but she already knew that. She doesn't know what to say; she should apologize for something, or maybe he just wants to let it go. She doesn't know, and maybe it doesn't really matter, except the silence is suffocating, cold and bitter with oncoming day. It shouldn't bother her; after all, she's designed to withstand so many types of torture - but maybe this is something the scientists never thought to consider.

Anyway, whatever she would say would probably be the wrong thing, and so she doesn't risk it. It's not worth the potential consequences, how he'll answer or how he'll look away. He won't want to talk about it, which is fine, because neither does she. Instead, he'll just drive them back to his apartment, ignore her as he pulls himself out of the car, and then she'll take her bike home, and she'll stop by later with the pretense of a nearby delivery. It's simple, it's what they always do.

So she's surprised when he pulls off the road and cuts the engine.

She looks around, wondering what's wrong. There's nothing around, not really. Just the pier, the benches, the grass-choked pavement. It used to be a tourist site, or maybe just a place to sit, but it's abandoned. She wonders if he's hurt - physically, or to a greater degree than usual, because she's seen the bottles of pills neatly lined up on the bathroom shelves - but she doesn't think so.

Which means that he wants to think, or talk, or something. She waits. Maybe he's going to kick her out, make her walk home, but she doubts it. He's too much of a gentleman, and maybe that's the problem. He's refined, repressed, whatever. Chivalrous, too, though that doesn't really bother her, and maybe it would be stereotyping. She glances over at him, and he's staring out the window, at the water. When he doesn't do anything, doesn't say anything, doesn't make a move - though that sounds so wrong in this context, because it won't happen, not now - she shrugs and unlocks her door, swinging her legs out onto the asphalt and stretching. The air is cool, rich with the scent of the water and of very early morning, and she breathes deeply. She doesn't close her door; the action would be too loud, too symbolic.

Too loud, even though she can hear the cars and the people and the water. Too loud, anyway.

She wanders over to the railing supposedly separating the lot from the rocks and the ocean. It's metal, sturdy; she pushes herself onto it, entwining her feet as she balances. There's no chance of falling, but she pretends that there is, just because. The wind's nice in her hair, almost threatening to push her backwards, and she wonders how long he'll be. She doesn't mind waiting, but she doesn't want to spend the entire day here because of his moods, his whimsies, his image.

She didn't mean to offend him, to hurt him, to imply anything. She was trying to save his life, that's all, even though that makes it sound all heroic and it was really just a reaction. She would have done the same if he'd been walking - even though then she wouldn't have been there at all. Shoving him out of the way and going to help him back up, and then asking - and she hadn't really asked, just thought out loud. He'd taken it personally, of course, the only way, and then they were in the car, and now they are here. Waiting.

She's good at waiting. She's spent a lot of time practicing. It comes in handy when she has to hide.

Except when she's hiding, she knows why she's waiting. She knows what will happen if she makes a move too soon, if she throws a shadow or rustles the fabric of her jacket, if she shifts. This waiting is different; she's not hiding, not even hiding in plain sight, a concept that's come in handy more than once. She's waiting on him, waiting for him to act, and she's not used to that, to not having that control. She could go first, but that wouldn't be right, and so she has to wait for him to get over whatever he thought she meant so that they can go on. Not go home, because she can do that perfectly fine by herself, but go on. Continue.

She wonders if he believes that she didn't mean anything, that she was just trying to help. He's weird like that, so naive in some ways and so incredibly jaded in others. Mostly just with his family, his friends. Except she's not sure he has friends. He'd have to, but she hasn't seen them. People close to him, anyway. He doesn't trust them, trust their motives. Maybe paranoia came with money, with people always trying to get a piece. She can understand that.

She hears him open his door, but she doesn't turn around. If she did, he might just nod and tell her to get in, time to go, and she wants an explanation. She wants him to tell her why it bothered him, why he does this. Maybe she just wants him to appreciate life, being alive at dawn on a foggy Saturday morning, because she knows what could have been and what could be, but maybe he already does, because he chose to stop and wait. He could have just gone home and brooded in his darkened apartment for awhile before giving up and going to bed.

She listens as he sets the wheelchair on the pavement, as he slides out from the car. She hears the wheels on the asphalt, the guiding movements of his hands. He stops behind the rail, almost behind her but close enough that she can see him without turning her head. But then, she's got enhanced vision, so that doesn't necessarily mean much.

She hears him take a deep breath, swallow; he's nervous, he's going to apologize or yell at her. She's prepared for both. She waits.

"About what happened," he says. "How I reacted . . . it was uncalled for. I'm sorry. I know you were just trying to help."

It's not what she wants, not really. It's not enough. She doesn't want his apologies - though she knows how much they cost him, he has his pride - or his attempts at closure, which are empty and bland. He's used them so many times.

So she waits for him to continue, but he doesn't. She's almost ready to speak, almost going to give in - because she's really, really not good at this kind of waiting - and then he reaches forward and grasps the rail. She frowns, knowing what he's going to do and wondering why, and he pulls – hauls, but with more grace - himself up so that he's leaning on the metal support, bracing himself. Almost like standing, but at the same time, not close at all.

He's warm, his shoulder almost touching hers as they watch the water caressing the rocks. If she ignored the reason, the situation, the cause, she could pretend it was a date. But she doesn't want to, and so she sighs. He was hurt enough to stop, to wait, to be here. That needs more than a simple apology, but maybe she'll be content with this, with waiting. "Yeah," she says, "It's cool," and for a little while she's just a normal girl wasting time at the pier, and he's all he thinks he wants to be, and their illusions make them safe.

And then the sun rises, light and shadows over the city, the towers, and he shifts - drops - back into his wheelchair, and she slides off the rail, and they go back to the car. She'll want to know, later, and maybe he won't want to tell her, and they'll fight, but for now, it's okay.

For now, they're good.

***

Feedback would be most wonderful.