Disclaimer: Dark Angel and its characters do not belong to me. This fan-fiction had been written purely for entertainment purposes. No infringement intended and no profit had been made out of this.
Title: Rules Can Be Broken (For once I managed to find a title with more than one word, lol!)
Show: Dark Angel
Summary: Set at the end of '411 on the DL' (Season 1). Max decided that after searching for so long for her siblings, she had no intention of just standing back and letting Zack walk away.
A/N: For those of you who are familiar with my work, you would know that this is my first Max and Zack centric fic. Since Season 1 seemed like such a long time ago, this first chapter is just to set the scene so that everyone knows where we are in the timeline. I need to thank angelofdarkness78 for asking me for this fic, or else it wouldn't be here. And X5898 for helping me understand Zack's complicated character!
Rules Can be Broken - Chapter 1
He did not bother to turn back even once.
Max watched with mixed feelings as he walked away, torn between letting him go and running after him to stop his flight. Her face scrunched up as she mulled over her choice of words. Flight; because Zack had given her the impression that he was still running.
Then she realised that all of them were, but he was the one who had no intention of stopping. Not that she knew what the rest of her siblings thought. She just could not imagine the rest of them doing what Zack was doing.
As she continued to stare at him, their last words to each echoed in her head.
He had told her, his voice hard, "If you stay here, you risk tactical exposure. Or have you forgotten everything that they taught us?"
Annoyed, she had tried to make him understand her point, "No, but I'm trying real hard at it. You're still back at Manticore. Maybe I'm chasing a sentimental lie, but at least I'm trying to get away from it."
His face set in stone, he had replied with a tone of finality, "I can't be responsible for you if you won't listen."
She hated it when he looked like that. Careful not to show her irritation, she had pleaded with him, "Zack, don't go. Please."
But it had not achieved the result she had wanted. He had steadfastly insisted, "I have to," then he paused. He had reached out a hand to trace her cheek, giving her a somewhat wistful look, "They did a good job on you, Max. Turned out okay."
That was when he had walked away. She had wanted to call out to him but she had known that it was pointless. When Zack made up his mind about something, he would stick to it, no matter what anyone says. He had always been like that. It must be something they had taught all the COs when they had been back in Manticore.
When he had told her that he had wanted to bring her to San Francisco, her heart had given a small jump of excitement. Until she thought of the friends she would be leaving behind if she went. Then he had said something about them splitting up. At that moment, she had made her decision. However reluctant she was to leave her friends, she might have considered it if he had agreed to remain with her, and allowed her access to her other siblings. Uprooting herself to go stay in some unknown place where she did not know a soul was another matter.
It had taken more than ten years for her to get this close to one of her siblings, and she felt cheated that Zack was just going to walk away. She understood what he meant by tactical exposure and the need to keep them all apart. It was one of these rules which Manticore had drummed into them when they were kids, so it was kind of hard to erase. But that did not mean that she agreed with it. Zack on the other hand, seemed to be taking that rule a hundred percent to heart.
She had heard this saying sometime ago; Rules are meant to be broken.
An idea presented itself to her, causing her to break into a grin. Suddenly, things seemed a bit better. If rules were meant to be broken, then that's exactly what she would do.
Don't look back; that was what Zack kept telling himself as he forced his legs to take one step after another away from Max. He wanted to just drag her along with him and bodily move her to San Francisco where it would be safer for her. But he knew that she would not do it if she did not want to.
This trip had meant to be like the rest where he just stops by in Seattle to check if she was alright. But she had not been alright. The girl had managed to get her barcode published on the newspapers for everyone to see, for god's sakes. The minute he saw the advertisement, he had dropped everything and came rushing. How could she be so careless as to trust Vogelsang? The man could have led Lydecker directly to her if Zack had not interfered.
He had been surprised when Vogelsang had somehow found out about the tattoo parlour where he had his barcode removed, leading her to him. The fact that she had succeeded in tracking him down had been a bit of a surprise, but it gave him a sense of pride at her ability.
When she had broken into his apartment and found out who he was, the last thing he had expected was for her to hug him. It had been a shock because Manticore had never been big on all these affection stuff. Their usual form of contact with each other, well, his usual form of contact with another person had been in the form of fist-fighting during sparring. Max, on the other hand, had been physically quite close to Ben, but never with him. He supposed that his status as a CO was kind of an invisible barrier which prevented others from getting too close. For which he was glad for as he had never hankered for such pointless stuff.
Zack could see the outline of his apartment building now. The area around it looked clear; Lydecker's people appeared to have moved on. But appearance could be deceiving, as Manticore had taught them long ago. Lull your opponents into a false sense of security. Then attack. Those words he had heard countless times before back in Manticore echoed in his head. Lydecker probably had posted a few of them around the building to see if he returned. Zack would have done that himself if he had been in that position.
He smiled slightly as he crept stealthily towards the building, noting an ill-concealed soldier by the dumpster on the left side, which confirmed his suspicions. They did not make him a CO for no reason; he could spot these sorts of thing from a mile away.
His eyes darted quickly to the right, spotting a shiny barrel pointing from a window in the building opposite his. A few minutes more of reconnaissance told him that there were three more of them scattered around. Zack shook his head. Hopeless soldiers, he thought. Lydecker must have sent the rest to comb the city, seeing that there were not that many of them here.
Moving back into the shadows, he wondered if he should come back another day for his bike. He had stupidly done something he had always told his siblings not to do; forming an attachment to something. It was a weakness they could not afford to have. But his Ducati had been the only constant in his life and he wanted to keep it that way.
The question was; was it worth the risk?
It took him only a few seconds to come to a decision.
Max could not believe what her eyes were telling her.
The last thing she had expected was for Zack to return to his apartment. She had thought he would have just left without risking further exposure to Lydecker, but obviously she was wrong.
He was well-hidden behind some trees. If she had not followed him all the way from the railway tracks, she would never have spotted him. That was not surprising seeing that he was, after all, the best of their lot. Her eyes followed him as he moved stealthily towards the adjacent apartment building, wondering what he was planning to do. The only way to find out was for her to go along.
As the familiar rush of adrenaline coursed through her, she blurred silently towards the spot occupied by Zack a second ago. A quick scan around told her that it was safe for her to continue. Crouching low, she made her way to the building he had just entered and proceeded to do the same.
The abandoned building was pitch black, but with her enhanced vision, she could see everything as clearly as most people would have done in broad daylight. She could guess what Zack was trying to do. He must be attempting to enter his apartment through this one. Moving swiftly up the stairs, she hoped that she would not lose track of Zack.
She was at the fourth floor when suddenly, she was grabbed from behind. It took her a couple of second after she tensed reflexively for a fight before she realized that it was Zack behind her. She had not thought that it was possible but she actually recognized his scent.
"Max! What the hell do you think you are doing?" She heard him hiss in her ear, loosening his grip on her as he became conscious of her identity.
Max turned around to give him a cheeky grin. "Watching your back, sir."
Not amused, his lips compressed in a tight line. "You know that Lydecker would love to catch us both all at once, right? You need to leave now."
She shrugged. "Well, I'm not going anywhere. Thought I should hang around you to brush up on my Escape and Evade. Hope you don't mind," she said flippantly.
Zack frowned as he looked at her. "Max, listen to me. It's not safe for you to come along. You're taking an unnecessary risk."
"It's my risk to take, Zack," she said stubbornly. Zack was not the only bull-headed one here.
"It's my responsibility to look after you, but I can't do it if you insist on ignoring orders," he hissed.
"You can keep a better lookout for me if I'm closer, don't you think?" Max asked, blinking not so innocently.
His irritation was evident as he snapped, "Fine. Do what you want."
Without waiting for her reply, he went towards a hole in the wall which used to accommodate a window. She was beginning to get an inkling of what he planned to do. He stood to one side as he peered out carefully at the opposite building, paying particular attention to the window one floor below theirs. It was not far, only about twenty feet or so away. Apparently satisfied with what he saw, he backed up and took off towards the window at a run.
Max watched as he leapt gracefully across the gap between the two buildings, landing precisely on the windowsill. His arms were splayed wide to steady himself against the sides of the open window, allowing him to haul himself safely into the other building.
Cautiously sticking her head out of the window, she checked to see if Zack had been spotted. Satisfied that he had not, she followed his example and leapt across.
The air whizzed past her face as she flew straight at the open window. Then, mid-flight, she suddenly realized with a feeling of dread that she was too low. Shit, not good, she cursed in her head. Just as she was about to smack into the wall, she reached her hands out and managed to just grab hold of the windowsill.
She tried to not to think of the fact that her fingertips were the only thing that stopped her from plunging three storeys down.
Great, now Zack have yet another thing to reprimand me about, she thought grumpily.
A/N: (Fidgets nervously) So what do you think? Should I continue this? Or should I stop the torture on the readers? Please review and let me know! I need to know what you think especially since this is my first Zack fic.