Summary : Alec visits O.C. for advice

Disclaimer: I own nothing from Dark Angel and profit not from this endeavour, but if Alec is going spare I am more than willing to give him a home.

Growing and Learning

O.C. heard the tentative knock at the door. 'Now who's that knockin' at the door, disturbing me?' she said in a voice he heard through the door before she opened it. 'What ya doin' here, Boo?'

'Um,' now she'd opened the door, he was committed to talk to her, but he didn't know what to say.

'If you're looking for Max, she ain't here. How come you started knockin' anyways? You barge on in here like this place is yours normally. '

'I'm not looking for Max.' he said which to him, in some respects, seemed an answer to everything she said. Max was Manticore, there was no knocking on cell or barrack doors in Manticore. O.C. wasn't, so he knocked.

'Well, you ain't shedding any light on your visit either Boo? If you stayin', you better come on in and close the door.'

He did as she said, but then remained standing by the closed door. He didn't know what to say, he didn't want to look stupid. He didn't want to sound jealous either; there was more to it than that.

O.C. looked at the slightly panicked look on his face. 'You in trouble?' she said, 'I don't know what I can do to help? I don't know when Max will be back, she's...'

'Round at Logan's, I know. It's why I came now. I waited until she'd gone out. I wanted to talk to you.'

'Well for someone who wants to talk you're being mighty quiet, you also waited a long time. Max has been gone an hour. Take the weight off,' she said pointing to the only clear chair, then moved to pick up the clothes she had been sorting from the other. Having dropped them onto her bed, she returned and moved into the kitchen where she put the kettle on. 'You want coffee, or something stronger?'

'Whatever. I wasn't sure I should come. I want to talk to you about Max. I'm worried about her.'

'Alec, sugar. What's not to worry about? The girl's always running around taking on White and Lydecker, it's the whole Manticore deal, you know that but I know you got her back now, right?'

'No, I mean yes I've got her back, but that's not it.'

'Well, boy, you gonna have to tell me more 'cos I sure don't know what you're thinking in that pretty head of yours.'

'Logan.'

'What Boo? Logan? He's no match for Max. If he tried anything she didn't want, she'd soon beat his ass. Anyway, my girl loves him and he loves her.'

'Are you sure?' he knew it sounded stupid. Max did love Logan but he wasn't convinced of Logan's intentions and Max, well she was like him, not a whole lot of experience when it came to love not something they'd even seen in others as kids.

'Of what? That she loves him, yeah. That he loves her, I suppose'

'Only,' he could hear the words rushing out of his mouth, as if the quicker they were out, this particular torture would be over. 'I don't think he loves her. I think he's using her.'

Now he'd said it, two things could happen. O.C. could tell him how stupid he was and put him right. Manticore had taught him how to recognise and read signs in people, but now he also knew Manticore was twisted. He'd been discovering that a lot lately, things they'd taught him weren't real anymore, not out here. Of course, the other thing that could happen is that O.C. could say he was right and then what was he going to do about it. She'd just said it; he had Max's back so…

'Ok' came the reply slowly, 'Run that one by me again. Tell me what you think is going on?'

'When does he do anything just for Max and not to talk her into running an errand or risking her life? She's like his own private super-soldier. He clicks his fingers and off she goes to do his bidding. It's like he's got her on a leash. The way he talks down to her, she doesn't stand up for herself – no-one else treats her that way, she wouldn't stand for it. When things go wrong, he's not interested in whether she's ok, just in when she's going to sort it out and get it done properly.'

'She don't mind helping him bro. and what do you mean about when things wrong?'

'Like with Mia. Do you remember how down Max was? She went off to do his thing and Mia worked her whole Psy-ops gig and all Logan could do was rant at her for letting him down. It's not like there's anything in it for her.'

'Hmm, I know what you saying boy but see it ain't like that when you're in love. You've maybe got a point about him not loving her so much but see they say 'love is blind' and so maybe Max is blind to his little faults.'

'He doesn't hesitate to risk her life Cindy, and does he look worried, only marginally – it strikes me he's more worried about losing what she does for him, than actually what harm she might come to. When she was in hospital, why didn't he contact one of us to go help her – instead he has her climbing up onto a roof, fighting White to escape. He only wants me around when it's a two-man job but even then he doesn't like it.

'No he doesn't like you, but you two have a chequered history - you tried to kill him.'

'I tried to kill Max and Joshua – they can deal with it. Logan was a mission and I didn't do it to any of them and I wouldn't do it now whatever.'

'You see and Max thinks you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I told her she underestimates you, Boo, you're growing and learning about this world you're living in now all the time. And now what you need to learn is that some things ain't made for meddling. Sometimes a friend has to sit back and wait for things to go wrong without saying anything, particularly when it comes to relationships. See you meddle and she'll run to Logan and shut you out. You leave be, wait and watch her back, you keep her safe when you can on these missions and you leave her heart free to love who she chooses. You do that and you be there if it all goes wrong with Logan, she'll respect you; she'll know you're her friend. If it goes wrong, she'll be hurt but she'll heal and she'll heal with the help of her friends, wait and you'll be one of them, barge in and you won't.'

'So I should just sit back and leave her to it.'

'More or less, Boo.'

With that their conversation moved onto the more mundane, interspersed with jokes and tales from both of them. Their friendship was growing. Alec felt better about the world, understood it a little bit better. O.C. was looking at him with new eyes, the boy was growing up, he was less self-centred and it was all good.

Finishing his coffee, he made to go. 'Thanks, O.C.'

'Sure. Remember, Boo, friends stand by to catch you when you fall. That way you don't fall so far or hurt so much. Friends got your back.'