Title: Between Love and Hate
Author: sue Rating: PG13 (for the moment at least) Show: DA Pairing: M/A? we'll see.. Genre: Major Angst (considered yourself warned) Type: Work in Progress
Rating: PG13 (for the moment at least)
Pairing: M/A? we'll see..
Genre: Major Angst (considered yourself warned)
Type: Work in Progress
Summary: Anything and Everything's sequel. Will Alec finally remember who Max was to him?
A/N – After much delay, God knows how I managed to put together this chapter. Anyway, the title for this sequel, if you noticed it comes from an old DA video. Yup, Orphou's Between Love and Hate. It must've been the first DA vid I saw and it was among my favourite, even to this day. But as much as I love Orphou's stuff, I'm more obsessed with Miroslava's The Life video. That gotta be my all time favourite. I was watching it like five seconds before I type this.
Lesson for the day: Dark Angel videos rule. And Miro, you're a god.
Have fun with this new chapter and if you stumble across some song snippets, it was from 3 Doors Down: Here Without You.
Just for the record, Alexis is a savior. I doubt it there's a better beta around. Thank you sweetie!
A quick recap: (and I do mean quick) Logan turned the tables around and infected Max with the virus, so instead of the usual Logan-is-dying-and-Max-to-the-rescue, it was Max who was facing certain death. Sir Alec found a doctor for the cure but there was a catch. It'll cost him a cool million but he'll only have less than twenty four hours to pull some tricky heists for the money. After he got what he needed, Dr Carr delivered another blow. Max's frail condition means that even with the cure, she might not make it because her immune system was practically gone. Alec suggested stem cells implant to help her weak immune system and he would be the donor... at his life's expense.
After the procedure was completed, all seemed well. Max looks to be better and Alec was beyond exhausted, but with rest, he will be fine. But Logan's untimely interference brought White into the picture. Alec sensed something was wrong and went after the crooked agent before the Familiars could get to Max. After one furious fight White was no more and Alec was hovering an inch from his own death. But the good doctors at Harbor Light pulled him back to the world of the living. Somehow, since the extent of his injury was so severe, his mind propelled him back to the state just after his Reindroc session at Manticore. In other words, he was back as 494 with a deep distaste for the ex-escapees. He saw Max as another traitor, not as his mate. Before Max can come to grips with what was going on, he left without warning.
A/N 2 - Sounds simple right? But somehow I need 23 chapters to write that out. And here comes the beginning of another 23 chaps heh
Chapter 1: The Life... his and hers
The night was coming to an end. The pale streaks of light crisscrossing over the tainted sky shimmered as if it was indeed a living being. The colourful rays that started from the foot of the heaven spread slowly; nature's daily welcome for a new day. In spite of the pale splashes of colour, dawn that day did not feel like any other day. The sun was hovering beneath a stubborn layer of clouds, defiantly denying its daily entry. The soft glow adorning the early sky was more forlorn than cheery. The day ahead was heavy with the promise of tears as the wind sang sadly around the dejected trees. This particular day was heavy with the promise of depressingly dismal hours ahead. Today looked to be teary, sad, forlorn... melancholic.
A still figure stood at the edge of a hill overlooking a forgotten battlefield. The eyes that were watching the scene turned hard as glass... and as brittle. Without a word, those blank hazel eyes swept over the scattered remains, seeing the burnt rubble and swirling ashes. A small part of him that was still untouched by the numbness cloaking his soul was speechless.
Manticore was gone. The only place he knew, a place that had offered some sort of sense had truly ceased to exist. In a bizarre sort of way, however much Manticore had tormented him, had tortured him to the brink of insanity, it had been home. In a way.
He could barely stop the short burst of insulting sneer. So this was what Manticore had come to. With all of its great power and force, this was what it had been reduced to. A pile of worthless ashes.
His expression smoothed to a slight frown as his train of thought shifted direction. If so, how in hell could he explain about that sudden flicker of emotion at the sight of the demolished base? The wind tugged at his dark locks as the current swirled around him but his stiff posture remained, his eyes were gazing unemotionally ahead. Deep within him, a foreign battle was raging ruthlessly, triggered by the sight before him. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to fill his burning lungs. His atypical response to this place confused him; he had no idea he was still capable of any emotion after the good people at Psy-Ops were done with him.
Again, he took another measured breath before opening his eyes. He stood there for a few more minutes, as still as the stout trees behind him. He pushed the scenario in front of him away and tried to analyze what had happened to him in the last few days. Recalling what had taken place after he regained consciousness, the smooth brow marred into a light frown. His restless hands clasped themselves loosely over his chest while his stance shifted a bit.
That girl was a mystery... and a damn nuisance considering how she managed to hover at the edge of his consciousness, pouncing on him every time he had his defenses down. Much like now.
He sighed, a deep infuriated burst of air. That night at the tower, when he was turning around to leave, something tugged mercilessly at his soiled core and he almost give in without knowing what he was surrendering to. Sweat broke out, staining the black sweater on his back and he almost faltered. He had no idea why it was so hard to break free from this invisible shackle chaining him to this place. But he did it, somehow. After one last glance at the broken girl slumped at the edge of the tower, he took that arduous first step and was gone.
He remembered his unpredictably heavy heart as he descended the stairs but at that time, he put it aside as the future fixation of facing the people of Manticore. But now... he was as confused as he was back then. Maybe even more so.
The soft rays of light felt heavenly on his chilled skin while he filled his chest with the clean air and his thoughts wandered on. He recalled on how he had looked around the foot of the tower, contemplating on his next move. To get himself back to base as quickly as possible he would need a vehicle. He shrugged. No big deal then, he'd just take one and use it to get himself there.
His eyes scanned the dim area, looking around for prospective target. Not much of a choice here, he whispered to himself, eyeing the almost deserted area. Sliding his hands into the pocket of his jacket to keep them warm, he started to walk.
And now here he was. Back to the root of his beginning.
He wished he knew what he needed to do next.
A few months later
'Bip bip bip! Do I have to repeat the same thing everyday?' A red-faced man stood in the middle of a bustling room and in his hand were a couple of packages. He waved them around for emphasis as he hollered, 'Grab a few of these and go! Bip bip!'
The area erupted into the usual groans and half-hearted objections but most of the Jam Pony employees heeded Normal's call and trudged outside with their packages.
At the end of the room, half hidden from view by the open locker, a brunette was seen rummaging through the content of the small compartment. As if seeing her for the first time, Normal burst into a jubilant greeting, walking towards her with a huge grin. 'Here's our Employee of the Month! Talk about turning over a new leaf, eh Missy Miss?'
Max didn't even bother to turn. 'Yeah, whatever. Gotta go deliver these, so if you'll excuse me.' Without another word, she closed her locker and brushed past him; her face was set in its daily unreadable look.
'That's the spirit, girl.' Normal nodded in agreement before turning to face his still lingering workers. 'What are you all waiting for? Bip!'
She marched quickly, trying hard not to notice the sympathy swimming in most of her co-worker's eyes. Hard as it was, she had a lot of practice by now. Max knew, or thought she knew, what everyone was thinking. They knew Alec's absence had made a huge impact on her life, but what they didn't know was just how huge it was. Or how painfully she had picked up the shattered pieces of her life and continued living after he left. Or how much effort it took just to close her eyes every night, in fear of reliving the heart-wrenching scenes again.
None of them had any idea.
She unlocked her bike swiftly, eager to escape, but someone grabbed her by the hand and pulled her aside.
'What's up?' she asked impassively.
'The day you become the 'Employee of the Month' is the day I know for sure you've gotten that ticket to hell. Girl, what do you think you're doing?' OC asked slowly, her eyes shining with worry.
'What? I'm just busy. I have a life, I have great friends, I have a job, a roof over my head and enough food. What else does a girl want?'
'What about love? What about Alec?'
Max clenched her jaw, 'If I let myself think about him, I... I can't do that. Not right now.'
'So you're gonna do an Alec and forget everything? Deny the fact that he meant something to you? That he still means something to you?'
'Dammit Cindy!' She slammed a fist into the nearby wall. 'I'm handling this the only way I know. I open up my heart to him only to have it stomped on and thrown back to my face. I cannot go through that again. I...'
'He didn't remember that he loves you,' her friend said softly.
'So that makes it all right, is that it?' she asked defiantly.
'I did not say that,' OC shook her head hard. 'If he can't recall anything about your past, then it's up to you to remind him of everything, girl. Go find him and tell that to his face. Stop living in denial. The last couple of months of agony are enough to last both of us a lifetime.'
'How can I? How can I remind him if I don't even know where he is right now? He could be anywhere Cindy. I can't help him if he's not around.'
'People used to say this is one small world we're living in. You'll find him,' OC smiled assuredly.
'Then you're more optimistic than I am.' A second later she hopped onto her waiting bike and left.
Original Cindy just looked on sadly.
Max braked suddenly and her bike lurched to a sharp stop. She jumped to the ground before pushing the bike away as OC's words rang loudly in her mind.
So you're gonna forget everything? Deny the fact that he meant something to you? That he still means something to you?
The bike clattered noisily to the ground and she moaned, collapsed in a depressed bundle of misery. 'Damn you,' she whispered, tears sliding down her pale cheeks, 'damn you to hell wherever you are.'
Her brave front shattered, the armor she had put up for the world cracking into a hundred pieces as thousands of images of him rushed through her mind. Her small frame shook from the torrent of emotions that surged through her, feelings that she had denied herself to feel from the moment he was taken from her. Suddenly she saw him in her mind; the way his cold clipped tone had slashed her bleeding heart to tatters and she froze. She remembered how cold his green eyes had been, the warmth that had always been there replaced by icy dismissal and pure undiluted hatred.
Her dark eyes glazed before they sharpened into focus. No, she would not allow him to hurt her again. Even though memories were all she had left of him, she had to let them go if the pain they brought along was too much to bear. Original Cindy was wrong. She knew what she was doing. Forgetting him was the right thing to do.
By the time she arrived at the first house with her deliveries, the cool mask was already on and she went through her routine automatically. She gave the recipient their package, waited for the customary signature, and left for the next package. No stray thoughts were permitted to flash through her mind; work was all she had in her brain and that was how she wanted to keep it. As she stood by her bike, she took out her last package for the day and studied its address. Ten minutes later, she stood in front of the apartment waiting for someone to claim the box in her hand. After the door creaked open, she forced a stiff smile and pushed the package forward. 'Jam Pony Messenger. I have a package for you, ma'am. Can you please sign over here?'
The moment she was relieved of her parcel and the door closed, the smile disappeared. Max shoved the papers into her bag and trudged towards the stairway. As she was about to descend, her eyes turned towards the small window beside her and gave the view a quick glance but a split second later her eyes widened in shock. Her breath came up in a rapid burst of air as her eyes were trained on one thing in particular. A few moments later she had no idea how she managed to take herself from that building to this one, she wondered a little hysterically, as she stood on shaking legs in front of a rundown building.
Alec's former residence.
Max debated furiously with herself over the merits of doing this to herself but her own body refused what her panic-stricken mind was telling her to do. Step by step, her trembling legs took her to one place she did not want to be at more than anything right then. She gulped a desperate breath; her glassy eyes stared at the closed door with something akin to terror. Max stood rooted to the spot, unable to do anything else but stare at the peeling paint of Alec's door.
She knew for a fact that the apartment would be empty but she couldn't help the way her body reacted. The muscles in her jaw worked furiously, clenching and unclenching while her mind tortured her with visions of him. Images of a smiling Alec as he waited for her across the room, his hand lifted towards her... waiting for her to slide hers in. A second later it was the picture of his freezing eyes that greeted her in his hospital room.
She trembled, the weight of his hooded gaze pulling her down. Even though it was only a piece of her memory, her knees still quaked as a sliver of his revulsion slashed through. The door shimmered as her eyes clouded over and she almost turned around and ran. But something kept her rooted there. Something unfamiliar held her fettered to this last existing proof of his existence.
Unconsciously, her hand lifted towards the door, her shaking fingers stretched out towards the hard wood; aching for the feel of him. A loud gasp broke the trance and she took a step back, her wide eyes shining with horror at what had almost taken place. She shook her head hard, all the while muttering under her breath, 'No no no.'
Her hand flew to her mouth and she pressed it hard against her trembling lips, suffocating the sob that almost broke free from her constricted throat. One lone tear leaked from her red brimmed eyes, sliding down her face and then she was off. Max tore herself from the unseen chain of her mate and rushed from the building. With the tears blinding her, she had no idea where she was going. The only thing she knew was that she had to get out of there. Fast.
She ran the back of her hand over her watery eyes as her legs carried her. Max turned the corner and was about to push the door before it was opened from the other side. She froze, taken aback by the unforeseen maneuver. But before she could blurred off to safety, a voice called out.
That kinda nailed her feet to the ground. She lifted her eyes and felt her breath coming out in a startled flow.
'What are you doing here, young lady?'
She could sense how his speculation grew at her sodden face.
'What happen to you? Are you all right?'
'I'm fine,' she managed to wave it aside.
I'm always all right.
Alec had been right to use it as his mantra.
'I... I have to go,' she muttered half heartedly as she tried to slip past him.
He put a detaining hand on her arm. ''Wait a minute.' He saw her flinch at his gesture and he frowned.
'I really have to go,' she said, her tone teetering on desperation as her wild eyes devoured the scene behind him.
Dr Fowler's frown grew a little deeper. 'I need your help, Max. You should know where he lives, am I right? Since he's not around at the moment, I thought I'll just drop it off at his apartment.'
Cold tendrils of fear crawled up and down her spine. 'Whose apartment?'
'Why... Alec's of course. He gave me more than we had agreed on,' the old scientist sighed, 'and as much as I love to accept the extra money, I can't. It would be unethical to do so.'
'What are you talking about? Agreement? And... what money? Money for what?'
'For the cure of course.'
Her head was whirling with what he had told her and she shuddered for the ones to come. 'How... how much did it cost him for my... for the cure?'
Fowler shrugged. 'A million.'
Max gasped. 'Where did he get that kind of money?'
Again the old doctor moved his shoulder uninterestedly, 'I didn't ask and he didn't tell me. He gave me my money and I gave him the cure. And right now there's over two hundred thousand reasons why I can't accept more than what he and I had agreed upon. So please, can you direct me to his place?'
'I... No, I can't,' she shook her head frantically, inching towards the door.
But the old doctor just fixed her with his persistent stare and that was it.
It was dark. Too dark, even though the sun set hours ago. The night sky was heavily blanketed under layers of clouds, concealing the faraway source of light from view. Both the night's routine duelists for dominance over the sprawling heaven, the stars and the moon, were pushed aside when the leaden clouds decided to join in the game. Then suddenly a streak of fire burst over the black inky sky, showering the inky sky with its brilliance for a few precious seconds
The lone figure atop the high tower did not even flicker an eyelash at nature's sudden wonder. The stiff form of the unmoving girl kept her vigil, staring at the bustling city under her feet detachedly. The vacant eyes didn't even waver although the impromptu display continued for a few more minutes.
That phrase kept on repeating itself over and over again until her head felt like it was milliseconds away from the bursting point.
No, she shook her leaden-like head somewhat feebly, it did not. Alec had taught her that. With him, love was anything but that. For once, it did not matter that she had to face the repercussions of her actions in letting her so-called brothers and sisters out into this unforgiving world.
A thousand lies have made me colder
And I don't think I can look at this the same
But all these miles that separate
Disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face
It didn't matter that she had no knowledge of her immediate family; their whereabouts, what they were doing, or even the simple fact of whether they were still alive. With him beside her, having him in her arms, hearing the satisfying sound of his heartbeat, drowning herself in the scent of him and most importantly, the knowledge that his heart belonged to her. That was what mattered to her.
Alec was hers as she belonged to him. That alone had make her life complete. But now…
I'm here without you baby
But you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
And I dream about you all the time
Max's lips trembled slightly and tears started prickling at the dark glassy eyes. Instinctively her hand tightened its hold around her raised knees. He had gone through so much for her, Max thought tenderly as Fowler's version wafted over her mind.
The soft winds whispered around her, caressing her pale pallid face, dancing futilely through her limp raven locks but she was in too deep in her own thoughts to give it any notice.
Which part? The part where I said I'll never let myself do a weak thing like fall in love, or the part when I said I don't want to lay my eyes on you again? On the contrary, I meant every word.
Quickly, she bit on the shaking lip hard, an automatic response to steer her attention away from the injury his words had brought forth. A sob fought hard to surface and her constricted throat finally relented.
No! He didn't mean that.
That tiny crack in the illusion of composure was enough to break the dam of her emotions, and then finally everything started rushing forward. Within seconds, she drowned.
Drowned in her own treacherous memories.
Max gasped, her throat practically on fire as it begged for air, tears were spilling down her face. Her chest heaved as she curled herself tightly in a small ball. She didn't care that her cheek was pressed against the bitingly cold surface of the tower; the chilling wind was enough to render anyone senseless and yet she didn't move… couldn't move, while her bottled up feelings broke free from its confinement.
And the wind continued with its furious storm.
I'm here without you baby
But you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight it's only you and me..
The morning sun rose slowly, and tendrils of heat started spreading. A subtle hint for a new day. Among the jungle of concrete buildings, a lone tree stood proudly, untouched by the chaos around it. Hidden amid its tangle of branches, a twisted mass of small twigs and dried leaves made up a small nest.
The closely woven ensemble trembled slightly before a feathered head appeared; its beady eyes were looking around with interest. Satisfied, the small bird hopped free from its nest, resting on the nearest branch as it looked down upon the soft bundle of feathers inside it. The baby birds stirred, feeling the loss of their mother but she just cocked her head to one side as if contemplating on her next move. A second later, with a rustle of feathers, she was off, spreading her wings wide to catch the soft morning wind. It was time for breakfast for the little ones.
She flew higher and higher, the bright eyes sharp as they scourged the visible land for an edible source of food. She headed towards a tall tower, intent on heading to the other side of the town. Maybe her luck was there today. The small bird saw a crumpled figure of a human sprayed atop the tower but she kept on gliding through the air, with only one thought in her mind. Feed her young ones.
On top of the Space Needle, Max stirred and her eyes were slowly opened. She didn't move a muscle, still stretched out on the cold tower even though the icy wind had started whispering its morning greeting. The small girl shivered as her genetically engineered body lost its battle with the force of nature. At the moment, Mother Nature was in a brutally scornful mood and her chilly breath covered the earth.
Max closed her eyes, before raising her knees to her chin, making a small protective shell with her battered body. Inside her head images from a half forgotten dream whirled erratically, bouncing and jousting each other. The quick flashes were too swift for her to grab onto and ponder. But she tried anyway.
And slowly, the hazy dream started to become clearer. She almost gasped when the misty visions merged into a crystal clear sequence.
As if right now, the wind was vicious, tearing mercilessly into everything in its path. And yet, she still kept on walking. Something told her that what she was looking for was within grasp. What was it exactly, she had no idea. All she knew was that if she kept on walking, she will find it... or find him.
The terrain was harsh. Hot cracked ground ran endlessly, as far as the eye can see. Dead trees littered the land; their skinny lifeless branches were reaching hopelessly towards the sky, as if praying for something. She shivered, looking around with her wide fearful eyes while the shadows of the ghostly looking trees danced eerily around. Her fingers trembled, but she pushed them hard into her jacket, and then she kept on plodding ahead.
I am lost.
She shook her head hard, pushing the thought out of sight. He's here somewhere. I know he is. He has to be. He just has to.
With renewed desire, she pulled the jacket tighter and marched purposely ahead. The walk seemed infinite, and again, she almost lost her newly found hope... but then she caught sight of something.
Silhouette against the angry red sky was a severe looking cage and it was sitting on a crumbly piece of land, the same piece of ground that was jutting out from a fragile cliff. She felt her breath almost stop as she stared with terror at the scene in front of her.
One of her hands whipped out, an unconscious reaction as she started running towards the crudely intertwined metal. As she got closer to the cliff, she gasped, horror clearly written in her huge eyes when the cage trembled and the brittle soil started to crack.
The fracture began to grow, slowly at first but then she saw that someone was in that cage and then her fear escalated. But that feeling could not be compared to what she felt when she realized that he was the one being locked in, helpless to what fate had in store for him.
One idle second passed before she ran, faster than she had ever run in her life, not caring just how many times she stumbled over loose stones or just how bad the gashes were on her gravely scraped hand and knees. And then she was a mere step away from him. That was what it took to close the gap between them. One measly step. She took that one stride hurriedly, her hand already in front of her, eagerly reaching out towards him.
His warm eyes urged her on and she almost laughed out loud in the joy of finding him. However, the metal enclosure around him trembled, and with a lightning speed she did not know they possessed, the rusty shafts began to close rank. In front of her horrified gaze, they started binding themselves tightly together and she can do nothing except cry out as he disappeared from view.
The rupture widened and with a loud crack, the end of the cliff gave way and slowly the intertwined cage slid off. The last thing she heard as it hurtled downward was a faint echo of his familiar voice.
'Max... help me.'
Max gasped, her lungs on fire while she dragged in huge amount of air to compensate for the last few minutes when she was too engrossed to even breathe. She ground her teeth hard, still panting from what she had gone through. Drops of sweat ran slowly down her pale skin and she pushed her wet hair off her face. Even though her head was still spinning, she managed to somehow scramble to her feet and there she stood, tall and straight. No one would know just by looking that most of her limbs were still wobbly and she was seconds away from passing out.
The inner fire within her was rekindled, and that flame was enough to fuel her lost hope once again. Alec was out there and he needed her. Contrary to what he had said, he still needed her. She knew that for a fact.
And now it would be up to her to remind him of that. Even if it killed her.
The small bird circled the tower; a number of small insects were firmly clutched in her beak, the testament of a successful hunt. She flapped her wings once and glided gracefully, riding the morning breeze without much effort. Her beady eyes turned towards the human standing at the edge of the tower who remain motionless and was staring at nothing in particular.
However, the iron straight spine and the tilt of the head suggested that this human had made some serious decisions and nothing could sway this person from acting on it. And in her experience, much like a hunter who had decided on a prey.
The thought of a hunter quickly pushed forward the image of her helpless chicks and hastily, she flapped her wings harder. Within minutes, the small bird was swallowed by the lightening horizon.
In a faraway land where the grass still sparkled with early morning dew, a figure was seen leaning against a tall robust tree, his arms clasped over his chest as he watched the sun shrugging itself out of the night's embrace. The eyes that were studying the scene never lost its sharp edge, even while witnessing a scene as moving as a sunrise.
Behind his detached mask, his mind was busy inspecting the road he had taken with his life. After his last visit to Manticore, he had drifted from one place to another with no clear purpose as to how he wanted to steer his life. And after a few months, he was tired of it all. He wanted some sort of anchor, an aim in life; something he knew he had before.
Some part of his life just did not make any sense. He had flashes of dreams... or memories of an unfamiliar life. Not surprising – that came along with being a covert operative – but a few had even been about the dark haired girl. Those restless voices in his mind had to be stopped or eventually he would be driven to madness with their insistent chatter.
He had been toying with the idea for a while now, weighing the pros and cons in his mind. But this decision he was about to make had nothing to do with that girl... the girl with her wide gleaming brown eyes. For a hardened ex-convict, she had looked almost fragile. But that must've been a trick of his abused mind. No, this had nothing to do with her. The reason for this was because he wanted to know more about his blurry past. That was the main purpose of doing this.
He was going back to Seattle.
To be continued..