In the Company of Real Friend
Disclaimer: nothing from Dark Angel is mine, but if Alec was available I wouldn't mind looking out for him.
Summary: Max is finding life difficult and following problems with Logan, she seeks comfort from Alec.
Author's Note: Please read and review, let me know what you think.
She watched him, all swagger and attitude. Flashy grin and smooth talk. Alec, Smart Alec, she'd barely known him when she gave him that name but at times like this it still seemed so appropriate.
'So, will you do it on your own? Max? Max, are you listening?'
'Sorry,' her attention drawn back to the man sitting in front of her, 'I didn't catch that. What was the question?' She hadn't been listening at all. She looked at Logan and wondered where they were heading. She almost turned back to watching Alec but instead forced herself to give all her attention to Logan.
'I asked you if you will do it on your own.'
She had no idea what the job was so how was she supposed to answer that. It had been a bad idea to meet at Crash too many distractions. Thinking quickly, she replied, 'Let me take away the details and look them over again, then I'll decide.'
If her luck had been in, the conversation would have ended there, but it was Logan sat there and luck could be over-ruled by his persistence. 'If you take someone, it won't be Alec, will it? You know maybe, Cece could do it with you or even that other guy, Biggs isn't his name?'
'Depends on the skills needed, but it's easier with Alec, we've worked together often enough that most things are quite straightforward.'
'He's reckless, Max. Careless and thoughtless. He'll get you hurt.'
Thoughts of how Logan really didn't know Alec at all crossed her mind, but all she said was 'I'll see Logan. Look I'm tired, I'm going home now. I'll catch up with you in a couple of days.'
'Max, this job's important. I can't wait for long…'
'Fine I'll be in touch.' She turned away, taking his papers, gritting her teeth before she said something she would regret, tension across her shoulders. He immediately turned his attention to the other papers in front of him, oblivious to her feelings.
Logan may not have watched her leave but Alec did. Alec saw the tension and barely contained frustration in her posture. Turning to his companion, he made his excuses and followed after Max.
With his longer stride, it didn't take long to catch up with her, 'Hey Max, wait up.'
'Not now, Alec. I'm busy.'
'Sure thing, but hey I'm here now and you can't ignore someone with my sparkling personality and dynamic good looks can you?'
He saw the slight shake of her head, the cautious edge towards relaxing the tension in her body, the ghost of a smile momentarily crossing her lips. 'What is it Alec? What do you want?'
'Want? Max, you make it sound like such an ugly word. Anyway who says I want anything?'
'You always want something Alec. Even if it's just a slap upside the head.'
'Oh that hurts, Maxie,' she looked round at the pained expression on his face as he answered and the last of the tension went from her shoulders as she laughed at the man standing before her. 'There see, now you feel better, don't you? And you know what Max, you didn't even have to hit me to get there.'
Seeing his self-satisfied grin, she slapped him round the head.
'Hey, what was that for?'
'Just to keep in practise.'
He laughed and resting an arm across her shoulders, he pulled her close. 'So what's up with you? Something wrong?'
'Sure Maxie and I'm the Amazon Queen.' He stopped and gave her a gentle shake and she looked round at him, 'I'm here. I can listen. I can help. You've done it for me often enough, let me…'
'Thanks Alec, but it's okay.'
'No. It's not. What does Logan want you to do now?'
'It's just a job Alec.'
'Is it? So if it's just a job, why do you feel like this?'
She looked at him in shock, was it that obvious? She'd thought she'd been masking how she felt. She looked up into his eyes, looking for… she wasn't sure what but not what she found anyway. Concern, he meant it, he wasn't fooling around.
'Alec…' she didn't really know what she wanted to say.
'Come on; let's go somewhere quiet where we can talk.' She nodded at his suggestion, bizarrely grateful that he kept his arm round her shoulder as they began walking again.
Reaching the top of the Space Needle, they'd sat down, the distance back between them. Alec watched her, waited…
She fidgeted with the cuff of her jacket, looked out over the city and wondered what she was doing. Was it really wise to tell Alec anything? Her eyes travelled round and came to rest on him. He was still quiet, no sign of his usual impatience and the constant activity she normally associated with him. Hell, normally he was the poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder but now he just waited. For her.
She sighed and looked back out to the city. Still he didn't move or say anything.
'Alec…' her voice was quiet, barely more than a whisper, '…I…I feel…lost.' The last word came out as a sob and before it had finished, he held her in his arms, encompassing her, shielding her, allowing her to crumble with an unspoken but understood promise that he would be there; he would help her put the pieces back together again.
He held her, remaining quiet and still and waited. He could wait as long as she needed.
Gradually she quietened and with one more squeeze, he eased the hold he had on her and said, 'Tell me.'
'I don't know Alec. It's everything with Logan.' She looked up at his open expression. He wasn't judging her; he was just waiting so she carried on. 'Sometimes I look at him and I just wonder what we're doing, like it's a game we're playing, seeing how far we can push one another. I don't think I love him, not anymore, not properly anyway, he's just…' she went quiet again, thinking. Alec held her gently, it was soothing, and she felt calmer, warmer inside than she had in… forever.
'He's just Logan.' There was a tone of defeat in those words.
'I'm sorry, Max.'
She looked at him and smiled sadly. 'I thought it was going to be good between us but it just doesn't seem to be working out that way and sometimes I feel like he wants to control everything I do and I don't want that.'
'Max, you don't have to do anything you don't want to. What's the job?'
'It's not just this job, Alex. It's everything. It's who I see, what I do, he wants to know it all, all the time.'
'And what do you want, Max?'
'To make those choices myself. Not to be dictated to. To spend time with friends like you, if I want to.'
'Like me? Are you sure? You're always telling me I'm a pain in the ass. Why would you want to spend time with me?'
'There's no accounting for taste is there? Anyway, who else can I keep in line with a slap round the head?'
'I knew I had my uses.'
'You're becoming a good friend, Alec,' her voice serious as she looked at him.
'And you've always been one, I just hadn't realised it before.'
'Logan doesn't like me spending time with you.'
'Really? You do surprise me! No doubt he thinks I'm irresponsible and wayward.'
'Not quite, I think his exact words were thoughtless and careless.'
'We should make a mutual appreciation group, 'cos I think he's boring and ordinary.' There was a hint of petulance in his voice.
'Oh Alec,' she smirked at him, 'You're not really too bothered by that are you?'
'I'll get by.'
'Do you ever wish we could be normal?'
'If by normal, you mean ordinary, no I'm happy with my assets – genetically empowered suits me. On the other hand, if you mean living a good life with friends and not having to worry about White and his cronies or what's going to go wrong next with this Manticore-hyped body of mine or who else is going to try hunting us down, yes I do wish I was normal. But as it goes my life is better than it was before. I've got friends, I've got a job, my own place and some days I think things are looking up.'
'You know, I wish I could be more like you sometimes.'
'Maxie, shucks, you're okay looking yourself.'
The slap round the head was accompanied by a laughed 'Asshole'. Then she settled back against him and continued, 'I meant always looking on the bright side.'
'There was a song about that,' he replied absently.
'What are you on about now?'
'Looking on the bright side. A song it was in some old movie I saw.'
'These guys were being crucified and were singing about always looking on the bright side of life.'
'Why would they be doing that if they were being crucified?'
'It was supposed to be a comedy film, but you have to see the film to get it, I suppose.'
'So Logan, He doesn't want me corrupting you then?'
'I don't know that he really likes any of the guys who were at Manticore really, but no he actually dislikes you specifically. I don't know if he likes me or if it's just that I'm useful to him.'
'In honesty, Max?'
'I think he does like you for you, but maybe he likes the X5 in you more for the things you can do for him and because… yeah well, that's what I think anyway.'
'You didn't finish. What else were you going to say?'
'Nothing, you can see my thinking, but it has to be your decision. Anyway I thought you'd finished with him after that whole virus and the hospital thing and me ending up in jail. What a week that was!'
'I still think you were going to say something else.'
'Max, you know well enough my mouth blathers on long after I've actually run out of things to say. You have to decide what you want from your life and then act on it. I'm your friend and I've got your back. I owe you big time but even if I didn't, I'd still be here for you. If you want me to talk to Logan for you, I will, if you want me to clear off and leave you alone, I'll do that. I won't like it but it's your decision.
'No. I don't want you to do that.'
'Good. Now let's go home before it starts raining.'