Disclaimer: Dark Angel and its characters do not belong to me, but the plot is mine. This fan-fiction had been written purely for entertainment purposes. No infringement was intended and no profit had been made out of this.
Title: Irresistible Rivals
Show: Dark Angel
Summary: Max and Alec have a series of encounters, and as expected sparks fly between them. But how long will they deny the attraction? And what do her siblings think of him?
Status: WIP Series
A/N: I was going to say that this is an AU story, but then all M/A fics are! There will be many unanswered questions, especially in the first couple of chapters, but the past will reveal itself as the story unfolds. This is meant to be a light-hearted action, so I hope that you will enjoy reading it.
Irresistible Rivals - Chapter 1
The setting sun cast orangey red rays down onto the bustling marketplace, subtly signifying the approach of dusk. The place was still packed, even at that late hour, but that was what everyone expected of the biggest trading centres in post-Pulse Seattle.
The jostling from the throng of human traffic did not bother the dark haired girl standing motionless in the middle of the dusty path. Her attention was fixed on one particular object, the expression on her face made it clear that she was reliving a bittersweet memory.
The words 'Happy Birthday' on the red balloon brought a smile to her face. She remembered the time when she had seen a balloon for the first time. It had been during one of their training sessions when she and the rest of her siblings caught sight of the round object with its string tangled in a tree. She could not remember who, Seth of Ben, but later, one of them had taken it down and released it into the air.
She remembered the feeling of being awed, so amazed at the thing which she had not known was a thing completely normal for children her age. The balloon drifted so peacefully, and in turn, it had conveyed a sense of hope to her at that time.
Ironically, it was that very day that her life and those of her siblings took a drastic turn.
Ten years had passed since then.
Max turned away from the stall which was selling those balloons, at the same time tearing herself away from her memories. This was not the time to mull over the past.
She has a mission to complete tonight and she needed to get geared up.
A quick glance at his watch told 494 that he had better hurry, or else he would miss his schedule. He was already decked in his disguise, a very uncomfortable set of tailored suit, and his left pocket contained some of the other gadgets he would require for his mission.
But he was missing his gun.
Damn it, he swore as he skidded to a halt in front of the locked door labelled 'Armaments' in big block letters. Irritated, he stabbed his index finger on the black comms button in the side panel which he knew would link him to the control room.
"Yes?" a crackling voice came through the speaker in the panel.
"X5-494 requesting access to weapons," he said calmly, sounding completely at odds with how he was actually feeling. Come on, come on. Just let me in.
"State your purpose, 494," the voice replied.
494 rolled his eyes. "Mission reference R226-494. My clearance is in the file," he gritted out, unable to prevent his impatience from seeping into his voice.
The comms panel went silent. Thirty seconds later, it crackled back on. "You may proceed."
The metal grille shutter which was preventing his entrance to the room began to retract sideways, exposing the contents of the room to his view. The walls were lined with rows of weapons, all arranged by technical specifications and sizes. The respective accessories were placed close to the main arms.
494 headed to the far end of the room, to the shelf where his favourite semiautomatic handgun, the Heckler-Koch Mk23, was housed. The weapon was stored together with its quick-detachable silencer and a supply of .45ACP cartridges. It was more than adequate for his mission tonight.
If he made it in time, of course.
At that reminder, 494 grabbed the gun and its accessories. After he attached the silencer to the end of the threaded barrel, he tucked it into his waist and made his way out of the room. As he blurred pass the door, he slammed the control button to the metal shutters to close it.
494 was already out of the building when the two sides of the metal shutters met in the middle.
Max groaned helplessly as she surveyed the mess on her bed. Clothes, predominantly black, were strewn all over haphazardly on top of one another but still she could not find something appropriate.
A sharp rap on her door startled her.
"Yeah?" she yelled without looking at the door. Instead, she continued to rummage through the pile on her bed. "Let yourself in." Max heard the door open, followed by the sounds of footsteps belonging to two people.
She turned around to find Zane and Eva shaking their heads at the state her room was in. "What?" Max snapped defensively. "I'm running late, alright?"
"I can see that," Zane said with a snigger. He was dressed in a black tuxedo, looking every inch the son of a rich investor. Walking towards her bed, he lifted up a lacy red bra with his forefinger and thumb, eyeing it with interest. "Is this really necessary for the mission?"
"Give me that!" Max snapped, snatching her underwear back from Zane. "If you can't make yourself useful, then just leave me to finish this by myself, okay?"
Zane held up his hands, palms out. "Hey, really sunny today as usual, aren't we?" he commented sarcastically.
With a weary groan, Eva yanked Zane by his sleeves and pushed him towards the door. "Leave her alone before she decides to kick your ass in," she advised helpfully.
When the door closed behind Zane, Eva turned to face Max in concern. "Alright, what's bugging you?"
Max took a deep breath and exhaled. "I hate these missions, you know, the undercover ones. It's a pain having to pretend to be someone else. Especially when it's this kind of ditzy bimbo role," she confessed irritably.
"You know we have no choice right now. Normally, these will be covered by Jondy or Syl, but they're not available. Syl's with Krit and Zack. And Jondy's going to be away for who knows how long," Eva explained for the hundredth time.
Max sank on her bed on top of her clothes. "I hope Zack, Syl and Krit find the cure for Brin soon," she said with concern.
"Me too. The room the doctors have been keeping Brin in is at sub-zero temperature, but that's the only way to keep her from overheating. Her Progeria is getting worse," Eva said with a sad sigh.
"It just doesn't seem fair, you know. We've already lost Ben and Jace, and now Brin's so sick," Max complained as she picked up a slinky black top and after studying it for a second, tossed it aside.
Eva laid a comforting hand on Max's shoulders. "All of us are sad that Ben and Jace didn't make it. They would have loved the way things are going now. But we were too young then, and we didn't know what was going on. Brin's different. We're actually doing something to try to help her now. Listen, let's not think about it now, okay. We need to get you ready. You got your mission equipments?"
Max nodded, then she grimaced. "Yeah, I got the usual kit." Then she pointed at her bed. "This, however, is a different story. Like it's so easy to find something formal to wear that at the same time will let me run and fight," she said dejectedly.
Eva laughed as she pulled Max to her feet. "Come on, Maxie, let's see what you have here."
Max sighed in resignation.
Samuel Davies's mansion and its sprawling ground was a testament to the profitability of his profession; Weapons Engineering.
As he got out of his chauffeur driven limousine, 494 noted with detached professional interest that the party was already in full swing.
Good, he thought. That way he would attract less attention.
494 handed the invitation which identified him as Daniel Page, a well-known investor in new post-Pulse technology, to the attendant at the reception. Manticore had 'taken care' of the real Daniel Page yesterday. At the attendant's nod, 494 walked through the archway leading him inside the mansion.
The main congregation area was brightly lit under the fountain of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The occupants of the room paid no attention to the lavish décor, obviously used to these sorts of luxury.
Those in the weapons industry must be making lots of money, not just the engineers, 494 thought, somewhat amused.
His trained eyes automatically scanned the room for possible exit points and the positions of the guards. The guards were being discreet, watchful without being obvious, but to 494's eyes, they stood out like red flags.
He accepted a flute of champagne from a passing waitress, returning her shy smile with one of his own. His senses told him that her eyes were on him even after he had turned to look in the other direction, but he ignored it, used to these sorts of female attention. Then he continued his survey for a few more minutes before he decided that he should make his way closer to his target.
The curving main staircase was located at the other end of the room. 494 gave it a cursory glance before he dismissed it. Instead, he moved around the fringe of the crowd, occasionally nodding to a few people to make it look as if he belonged.
And then a flash of white out of the corner of his eyes caught his attention.
He paused, slowly turning around to find himself looking at one of the most extraordinary looking woman he had ever laid eyes on.
She was facing sideways, talking to an older lady. Tendrils of dark hair which escaped the pile at the back of her head framed her face, teasing the exposed back of her elegant neck. Her caramel coloured skin stood out in the white halter-neck dress she was wearing. She was petite, but every time she moved, the high slit on the sides of her dress hinted at the very long legs underneath.
494 smiled inwardly. He knew how to appreciate beauty, especially considering where he grew up. If he was not on a mission, maybe he would have made his way to her. Then, realising what he was thinking of, he grimaced.
Since when was he ever not on a mission?
Those were the only time he came into contact with the outside world. But hey, who wanted to be outside when they could call Manticore home, huh? He suppressed the urge to roll his eyes.
Pushing all thoughts of the woman to the back of his mind, he continued towards the entrance which led to a darker hallway. As he stepped away from the crowd into the hallway, he noticed that only the catering staff used it.
He walked pass two waiters before he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Forcing himself to appear relaxed when in reality he was as tense as a coiled spring, 494 turned around.
"Can I help you?" the waitress who handed him the champagne earlier asked, pushing her blonde hair behind her ears.
494 smiled, relieved that it was not one of the guards. It would have been really awkward it was. This mission was meant to be covert. Well, as covert as his sorts of missions could be. It would just be messier if he had to waste a couple of guards right in the middle of the hallway.
"I'm just looking for the washroom," he explained. Then he flashed a charming smile at her, letting his eyes tell her that he found her very attractive.
It worked, because when the waitress smiled, it was a bold smile, a confident one. "You're heading the wrong way," she said.
He pretended to be surprised. "Oh? Bad sense of direction, I guess."
"I can show you where it is, if you want," she said, her eyes inviting him to something completely out of the scope of his mission. Her hand on his chest confirmed it.
494 gave her a promising smile as he folded his hand over hers. "Not just yet. I may need some… assistance a little later," he said suggestively. And then, lifting up her hand, he planted a kiss on it.
Just then, the brunette in white brushed past them, sending a subtle trail of fragrance behind her. 494 could not help but inhale. Her scent was refreshing, unlike what most of the women in the place was wearing. A unique mix of citrus and flowers, and something else completely individual, he noted with more interest than he ought to feel.
Watching her retreating back, he wondered curiously where she was heading.
The waitress touched his arm, bringing his attention back to her. "So, maybe later, huh?" the waitress said, sounding hopeful.
494 nodded encouragingly and then watched her walk away.
When he turned back to where he last saw the brunette, she was gone.
Max rolled her eyes after she had passed the couple in the hallway.
These rich men have nothing to do but to attend parties and pick up waitresses, she thought in amusement as she slipped past a large sculpture. Though she could not quite understand why this particular one felt the need to hook up with someone in a dark hallway. The way he looked, she would bet that he has no trouble catching the attention of the general female population.
Well, she had better things to do than to think about him, however attractive he was.
With a quick backward glance to check that no one spotted her, she went up a flight of stairs and then immediately turned the corner into a shadowy alcove. As expected, a door came into view. A small panel was attached to it.
Max smiled. She was on the right track.
"I'm at the door," she murmured softly, knowing that Eva could hear her.
Eva's voice came into her ears. "Good. It should lead you to another section of the house."
Max peered at the panel, her transgenic eyesight letting her see the different numbers on the touchpad even in the dim light. "There's panel here. I'm going to try to break in."
Leaning closer, she was able to see the fingerprints on the touchpad. 3, 5, 1, 8, she noted. Studying it carefully, she tracked the directions the smudge marks from the numbers. The smudge from went from 1 to 5, then 8 to 3, 3 to 1 but no trace of anything from 5 to 8.
Max grinned. "I got it," she said softly. "8315," she told Eva as she tapped in the code.
"Good work," Eva said just as the door swung open silently in front of Max.
"I'm in," she whispered.
Then Max heard Zane's voice. "Why does she always get to do the fun bits?" he grumbled.
"Because I'm less clumsy, you big oaf," Max replied, suppressing her laughter. She could almost imagine Zane's scowl at her words.
He shot back. "No, I'm back here just better at making small talk to nice people. You're useless at it. No people skills at all."
"Can we get back to the mission?" Eva snapped, obviously tired of their childishness.
Max grinned as she heard Zane mutter something indescribable under his breath.
She walked in to a room which was obviously used as a lab of some sort. A few computer terminals lined the wall on one side. As she made her way to the one which looked like the main terminal, Max fingered her hair and found what she was looking for; the pen drive she had clipped on earlier, slotted into the barrette holding up her hair.
Crouching, she inserted the pen-drive a slot at the back and nodded in satisfaction when the green light on the drive started blinking. "I'm downloading the information now."
"Jack said that it took just a couple of minutes when he last tested it on a 1.5 terabyte hard-disk. Normally these things take a bit longer, but Jack somehow managed to bump up the download rate. Something to do with the adapter, he said," Eva explained.
Max groaned. "Spare me the details. All I want is the data right now and I'm out of here."
"You still got Phase 2 to complete before we can go," Eva pointed out patiently.
"Gee, I'm all excited now," Max said sarcastically. Over her comms, she heard Eva expel a long-suffering sigh.
When the indicator on the pen-drive stopped blinking, Max quickly pulled it out and slotted it back into the barrette. Tapping her hair into place, she made her way to the door.
Her exit from the room was unhindered, but when she reached the base of the stairs she barely took a step before a figure materialised from the dark hallway.
She froze; her defences automatically went on the alert as she slowly turned around.
A/N: Thanks for reading! This is only the first chapter, and I know that there are more questions than answers. Hopefully it did not put you off. I'd really appreciate it if you could review and let me know if you think it's worth a continuation.