DISCLAIMER: The Dark Angel world is like a playground. I play in it, but I don't own it.

A/N or Disclaimer 2: This fic is based on Rhasa aka Sarah's fic called A Dressing Down. She was kind enough to let me borrow the plotline and play with it. But she's not like a playground.


"MOLE!" called Max in a tone that could only be described as a bellow. She stormed through headquarters in Terminal City, throwing a rucksack filled with stolen goodies onto a table. "Get your scaly ass over here!"

Mole sauntered over to her, his gait casual, but the look in his eyes indicated his wariness. Max was practically spitting fire. Her eyes were glowing angrily at him and her fists were clenched at her sides.

As soon as he stood in front of her, a small but powerful fist caught him in an uppercut. His jaw snapped shut, causing him to bite down hard on his cigar. He staggered back with a barely audible "Ooompf!"

Damn. She really was pissed.

Before he could recover, he caught her small foot with his solar plexus. This time the blow knocked the wind out of him, causing him to gasp and drop his cigar on the ground. Shit.

"That's enough!" he roared from his position on the ground.

The silence in HQ was deafening. Everyone had stopped what they were doing as soon as Max had landed the first punch to Mole. X5's were quick, and before Mole could even formulate a thought, she had kicked him to the ground.

But everyone knew that the Special Ops transhumans were far stronger than the X-series. So, with wary, watchful eyes, all the occupants of HQ tried to determine what Mole was going to do to Max.

"Oh, yeah, well I haven't had enough." countered Max, her eyes glazed with anger. She obviously wasn't thinking straight, because she tried to kick Mole again. This time, he caught her foot and twisted it, so that she had to spin into the air to avoid having her leg broken. She fell to the ground with a thud, but her eyes never left Mole.

"Sweetcheeks, you must be fucking crazy to try to take me on." Said Mole gruffly, scuffling to his feet. Max jumped lightly onto hers and they circled each other.

"So, who sent those X6's on the supply run?" she asked just before blurring and catching Mole squarely in the jaw, and blurring back away from his reach. She was a smart fighter, using her speed and agility to her advantage.

"Who sent them out in the middle of the day?" she demanded, blurring around behind him and kicking the back of his knees until he buckled.

"Whose fucking fault is it that two of our X6's are dead!" she cried, dropkicking Mole both of her feet landing squarely on his chest, making both of them to fall on the ground. She straddled him and started punching him in the face repeatedly.

Mole had had enough with the bitch. Of course it was his fault! But not entirely. He had miscalculated. The kids weren't ready. The guard shift change schedule they had wasn't up-to-date. He reached past Max's barrage of punches and knocked her with one of his own. She fell back, her full lips bleeding.

Before either of them could recover, Alec had jumped in between them. "Okay, you two, play time's over." he said, his lighthearted words belying the angry concern in his eyes. He grabbed Mole by his jacket and pulled him close. "Don't you ever hit her again. You hear?" he hissed. His voice was pitched so low that only Mole could hear. "Next time, just call for me."

Then, he pulled Max up by her upper arm. "You and I need to have a talk." He said angrily, half-pulling, half-dragging her along with him.

Max tried to wrench her arm free from Alec, but his grip was tight. Bruising, even. "Alec! What the fuck are you doing?" she cried, jogging along behind him, trying to keep up with his long strides.

He took her to his apartment and all but threw her inside. He didn't slam his door shut, but closed it with a softly ominous click.

Max turned her back to him and wiped at the blood on her lips. She didn't know what the hell had gotten to her. When she had heard that Chris and Leena had been gunned down, well…she had lost it. It was like she had snapped and she just wanted a release from all the tension and anger that had been building up inside of her since the Siege.

God, it had been three months already. And they were still struggling everyday just to get things in TC running. It was frustrating. Everything was still going so wrong. It made her angry and want to lash out at everyone. In fact, that's what she'd been doing recently. She almost felt ashamed of herself.

"Max." said Alec flatly. He was watching her closely. The tension between her shoulder blades, the clench of her jaw, even the way she furiously wiped at the blood on her lips with shaking hands indicated that she was still a coiled spring, just ready to explode.

She finally turned around and looked at him warily. "What?" she asked, hostility dripping from that one word.

"This has to stop." He continued in that flat, placating voice.

She snorted. "Whatever," she shrugged. "I'll just go and apologize to him. It's Mole. He gets it."

Alec shook his head. "Nobody gets it, Max. You fly into a rage at every little thing. Granted, today's fiasco with Chris and Leena isn't 'a little thing', but it wasn't all Mole's fault. And we're all upset about it. But no one else is picking fights like you."

He was right. She had just picked a scapegoat for the moment to throw her anger at. Max sagged into herself, her spine curving outward, her head lowered in defeat. "I don't know what's wrong with me, Alec."

Alec swallowed briefly and hesitated. He took a deep breath and said, "I do."

She looked up at him and cocked her brow in question. "Well, what's up, Doc? What's cookin' with me?" she asked sarcastically, impatiently crossing her arms over her chest.

"You need to get laid." He said simply with little inflection.


"You're too wound up. You need to relax. I mean, c'mon, Max, when was the last time you hit it with someone?" he asked, a smirk playing on his lips. At the same time he shrugged off his light gray leather jacket and tossed it onto the back of a chair

"None of your damned business." she mumbled. "And your theory's wrong anyway, so it doesn't bear further consideration." But her eyes were wide, following the progress of the leather jacket as it came off of his body and fell haphazardly onto the back of a chair.

She tried to push past him to leave, but he caught her and pulled her close, her back against his chest. "Let me guess, Maxie…A year?" he whispered into her ear his tone silky. He teased her, blowing softly into the sensitive areas just below her ear.

Max thought her knees had turned to jelly. It felt good. Damn him. Damn, damn, damn, damn! She closed her eyes and sagged into him, and he held her, his arms wrapping around her waist. Then his lips were on her neck, dropping little kisses.

Max took a shaky breath and was about to turn around to kiss him, when she realized that she was with… "Alec!" she cried, immediately pushing away from him.

"C'mon, Max. Tell me I'm wrong."

"You're wrong." She said hotly, her cheeks burning in embarrassment at how much she had enjoyed being held by him.

"So, it's more than a year…been between a year or two?" he asked smiling wolfishly at her.

"I'm not sharing that information with you." She bit out, getting even more embarrassed. The last guy she'd been with was…Rafer. Ages ago.

He crossed his arms over his chest and regarded her cockily. "Let's see, Manticore fixed your heat cycles, so you haven't had one since leaving. And Logan and the virus hasn't exactly been a match made in heaven…unless I'm missing something, it's gotta be at least a year. No wonder you're such a bitch."

"And you're an ass, Alec."

"No, just straightforward and honest." He said with a small smirk. "C'mon, to even the playing field, I'll even tell you that it's been a good month since I've had sex."

Max did a double take. "A month?" she gaped. "We've been here three months! Who?" she demanded.

"None of your damned business." He said silkily, using her words against her. "Besides, what do you care who I'm with."

"I don't, except for the fact that you're supposed to be with me!" she hissed. But she was strangely disturbed at the thought of Alec being with another Transgenic. Him being with human girls had been okay, because she had known he would never see past the fact that they were 'ordinary'. But being with another Transgenic could mean…she angrily stamped out the thought.

Alec waved his hand dismissively in the air. "Oh that," he shrugged. "Aside from you and me, no one else in TC even knows. So, really, seeing as how it's all just a whopping lie, it doesn't really count."

She narrowed her eyes at him. Of course he had a point there. She pursed her lips and smirked at him. "Which means, Pretty Boy, that you're not in any position to be telling me to get laid. Not especially with you."

He smirked right back. "You need it, Max. If only to release all that built-up tension in you. Unless…you've forgotten how good it is…"

"I remember just fine, Alec. Manticore took care of that. Eidetic memory and all." She drawled sarcastically tapping her head lightly with her index finger. She was desperately trying to keep from losing ground in this strange argument. Even if she could recall every sexual episode she'd ever had…she had to admit that it didn't even come close to the real thing.

But it was like Alec could read her mind. He sauntered closer to her, and she refused to budge, so that he was standing directly in front of her. "Even if you could remember…or even," he chuckled lightly, "…even recreate the sensations, Maxie, it's nothing like the real thing, is it?" he asked huskily.

Max clenched her jaw and focused on a spot over his shoulder. "I told you. I don't need it." She said flatly. "And I don't need you to be doing me any favors in this matter."

Alec took a step back and shrugged. "Who says I'm doing you a favor?"

"Please. It's not like you don't already see yourself as Manticore's gift to women. A real Cassanova." she said, rolling her eyes at him.

"Fine. But my point is, Max, your head ain't in the game anymore. You're somewhere else half the time. You're not focused. You're more irritable than normal. You're even bitchier than you used to be—and God, I didn't think that was possible. You're not acting like a good leader. Hell, you're not acting like any damned kind of leader at all."

Max remained silent, knowing full-well that all the things Alec had enumerated for her were all true. She couldn't focus. She couldn't relax. She was always frustrated. And she didn't just take it out on Alec anymore, but on everyone who crossed her warpath. But sex wasn't the answer. At least, not for her.

She sighed heavily. "This is crazy. You're crazy."

He shrugged. "I think I must be." He agreed. Then in one smooth motion, he pulled his shirt off over his head and tossed it to where his jacket lay.

Max's mouth went dry. The moment was reminiscent of their first meeting at Manticore, when he had just as casually drawn his shirt over his head. Only then, she had been too caught up about how he looked like Ben. And revolted at the idea of a Breeding Program.

Now, all she could see was Alec. Alec and the lean muscles of his chest and abdomen. Alec and his hot kisses. Alec and those green gold eyes looking at her like she was the only one in the world who existed.

She groaned in frustration because she could feel her blood vessels expanding to accommodate the rush of the blood caused by her increased heart rate. She was already starting to heat up just by looking at him. "Alec, stop this. I told you, I don't need any favors from you!"

He just smirked. "Max…it's necessary. Think of it…as a job benefit, hmm?" He stepped towards her, his arm reaching out for her.

"More like occupational hazard," she bit out, this time having no qualms in stepping back. She would have pushed him away, but that would mean she'd have to touch his chest. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

Big mistake.

Suddenly, her nostrils were filled with the scent of Alec. Aroused heat was rising from his body as well, warming the clean, masculine scent that was uniquely his. He smelled so good.

He reached out and took a lock of her hair. He twisted it between his fingers, tugging gently. He let his rough knuckles, with her hair still held tightly in his fist, caress her smooth cheek. He inhaled her scent and recognized the slight smell of her pheromones. She was aroused, and the thought brought him a great deal of masculine pleasure. And something more. It made him feel an excited anticipation—something he had never felt before.

Alec leaned in closer, letting his breath caress her hairline, his lips barely touching her forehead. His body was so tense, humming with contained passion. He hadn't expected this heated, almost painful reaction to her. "Max, I want you…" he whispered roughly. "And I know you want me, too…"

Max's eyes fluttered close as the touch of his warm breath made her nerves tingle in awareness. He was only holding on to strands of her hair, and the slight pressure of his little tugs made her want to lean forward into him. She could feel desire running through her blood, making her want to touch all of him. But she couldn't.

She wouldn't.

Gathering all of her willpower and strength, she pushed him away from her. He stumbled back, obviously caught by surprise. "I don't want your pity sex, Alec!" she cried. "I don't want you!"

Alec's eyes were shuttered, his face blank. "Okay. Fair enough. I mean, we've never looked at each other civilly, much less sexually. But who else would you rather be with, Max?" he asked cockily. He spread his arms wide as if displaying himself to her. "How 'bout Logan? I mean, I'm sure he'll be more than happy to ease your tension. And I've always thought pockmarks and lesions looked good on him anyway."

Max gritted her teeth. "That's not fair. Leave Logan out of this!"

"All right. Then, who?"

"Anyone but you!" she growled, incensed at his arrogance. "If your theory was even worth a grain of salt, I'm sure there are other X5's I'd get along with better…civilly and sexually than with you!" she spat out. But even as she said those words, she was already feeling a little cold without Alec close to her. Her body was a traitor which seemed to be answering to Alec's demands instead of hers.

"You would have done it by now." He said cynically. "You would have found someone to screw by now if that were true. Admit it, Max. You don't know that many people in TC. You aren't in any way friendly with any other X's in TC. You're barely civil to me, and I actually care about you!"

Max spun around, turning her back towards him. His words stung because they were true. Not very many of the X's were going out of their way to get to know her. They respected her as their leader, but never saw her as anything else. She couldn't be their comrade, their friend, somebody's girlfriend…no, she would always be different. She was someone who had made their lives just a little bit worse everyday that she had lived outside of Manticore. Someone who had made their lives harder by burning down the only home and sense of constancy they had. Someone who had destroyed their sense of family by scattering them to the wind like ash. And despite bringing them together here in Terminal City, they weren't likely to forget what she had done.

Alec saw the rigid way she was holding herself. Her head was high, her shoulders were straight, and her spine was stiff, but there was a vulnerability to her stance. Like she was made of glass. If he didn't hold her right, she would shatter in his hands.

He gently reached out and laid a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. "Max, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it." He whispered softly.

"Yes, you did. Because it's all true." She replied, her voice no more than a sigh. She shrugged off his hand from her shoulder and walked towards the window. She leaned her head against the pane, not caring if it was caked with dirt.

Alec looked at Max's profile. There was a soft sadness to it that tugged at his heart. He was so used to Max fighting everyone and everything that to see her so resigned to her fate…well, it confused him. He actually thought he could feel her pain, could feel the sadness that radiated from her.

The loneliness.

She was right. She didn't need sex. She just needed someone to be there for her. It was so simple, it was mind blowing. Heartbreaking.

He picked up his shirt, suddenly feeling acutely embarrassed at his own behavior towards her. He slipped the shirt back on and padded softly over to her. Without any more words left in him, he pulled her back against him.

Max felt Alec envelope her in a warm hug from behind. He fitted her closely to his body, the left side of his face coming to rest lightly just over her right temple. The warmth that radiated from him was no longer sexual in nature, but rather comforting. She leaned back onto his strength, letting him hold her.

She didn't even realize she was crying until a droplet splashed hotly onto her hand. She took a shaky breath as she acknowledged the emotions that were now raging through her. "I've never felt more alone. I no longer belong out there with everyone else. But I don't belong in here, either."

"Max, I didn't understand." Whispered Alec, laying a small kiss on her temple. He wanted to ask her to stop crying, because it made him feel so helpless. But he knew that she needed it. So he held her and let her cry.

Suddenly, Max turned around in his arms and sobbed onto his chest, leaning into him completely. He was vaguely surprised. He had only seen Max cry one other time—when she had told him about Ben—and she hadn't even faced him then. He felt humbled by the trust that it required to really cry on someone's shoulder.

His heart ached for her and he wanted nothing more than to wipe away the reason for her tears. A hundred different emotions were coursing through him as if her tears had broken a dam around his own heart.

And suddenly, he just knew.

He smiled into her hair as he pressed a kiss onto her head. He tilted her chin with his thumb and forefinger.

Her brown eyes were swimming in tears, shimmering softly. He felt something akin to tenderness unfold within him. It was an emotion utterly foreign to him until this very moment. Holding Max like this, comforting her—it just felt absolutely right. "Max, you belong with me."

Max's pupils widened in surprise, but before she could say anything, Alec's lips rested gently on hers. She could only close her eyes and lean even closer to him as his lips slanted over hers with fierce tenderness. His hand came around her nape, angling her head so he could taste more of her. The salty taste of her tears only added to his desire to be closer to her. His other hand rested on the small of her back, pulling her to him.

Max wrapped her arms around his neck, standing on tiptoe pressing her entire length against him. It felt so right. It felt like belonging.

She pulled back from him slowly and he lifted his head. There was a tremulous smile on his face. It was vulnerable and open. "Alec," she whispered. "You're shaking."

He breathed out slowly, as if to calm himself. "Am I?"

"Are you all right?" she asked, her fingers reaching up and splaying lovingly over his jaw, touching his lips.

He smirked, and Max was almost afraid he was going to brush her question off with his trademark reply of being always alright. But instead, his smirk slowly melted into a small grin. He hugged her close to him, burying his face in the crook of her neck. "I am now."


"Hmmm…?" he asked, nibbling softly on her neck.

"I think your theory was a little bit flawed…but it could still work." She sighed, arching her neck so he could have better access.

"Are you sure? I thought you said anyone but me?"

"I thought you said I belonged with you?"

He stopped kissing her and looked into her eyes. "Do you?" he asked, his eyes looking intently into hers.

Max knew there was only one answer for that question. She had known it and fought it for so long that finally giving in to it was a relief. It felt like freedom. "Well, put it this way, I'm willing to say that Manticore got one thing right when they sent you to my cell. And you know how I feel about Manticore."

He chuckled. "Just can't say it can you, Maxie?" he whispered.

"Say what?" she asked, a small frown marring her brow. There was a smidgen of dirt on it that Alec wiped away with his thumb.

"You want me. I'm Manticore's gift to women. I'm a real Cassanova." He grinned down at her.

She swatted him on the shoulder. "You ass!" she cried, but there was a smile in her voice.

"Well, my ass is yours…but only if you say you want me."

Max rolled her eyes at him. "Alec, I want you." She said her tone more amused than passionate. But as she framed his face with her hands and pulled him to her, desire began to simmer in her blood. "Now, let's put your theory to work and make me all better."

"With pleasure, Max." he said, capturing her lips in his.


A/N2: I was gonna make it NC-17 when I first started writing this because the emotions were so fiery. But as I typed away, the thing mellowed itself, so I decided not to, because the fic was too sappy for it. LOL!