Disclaimer: Are you kidding? But just to clarify, no I do not own Dark Angel.
Summary: Max finds her answers in the unlikeliest of places.
Author's Note: The ideafor this came to me out of nowhere and then wouldn't let me get a wink of sleep until I wrote it. So please read and review to validate my lack of sleep! Lol! Enjoy!
Goodness knew what had driven her here.
Here she was pounding on an old battered wooden door. She could easily have kicked it in, but her unreasonable brain rationalized against it. Besides she was too damn tired to exert more energy than was actually required of her.
"Open the damn door, Alec!" she screamed, pounding her fist on a panel of rotten wood.
She finally heard the sliding of a chain and the turning of the door knob in a far too cautionary manner for her liking. Losing grip of her waning patience, Max finding her chance barrelled through the door.
"Well it's about time too," she yelled, pointedly ignoring Alec's looks of indignation as he'd been flung against the wall.
There she stood in the middle of his small apartment, wild curls falling out from her loose and careless ponytail, two hands on her hips, her eyes scouring the place with a look of unwavering intent.
"What the hell are you doing here at 2 in the morning?" Alec momentarily had to look down at his watch, "And what's with all the yelling? Couldn't you wait at least until the morning to bust my chops about whatever the hell I've done wrong now?"
Max wasn't listening and Alec finally realised, "What are you looking for?"
"Alcohol," Max stated, "And substantial quantities of it too."
Alec shook his head, "What?"
"You know whisky, rum, scotch, etc. etc."
Alec frowned. Normally he would have loved watching Max making herself drunk, but for some reason he pegged that something must have gone dreadfully and deeply wrong for Max to turn up at his place in the middle of the night looking for a drink.
"Take a seat," he motioned to the tattered sofa, "I'll get you a glass."
The fact that Max did just that unsettled him further. Walking over to the tiny kitchen, he grabbed a glass of colourless liquid and handed it to her. Max grabbed it from him hungrily, gulped it down in one go and then promptly spat it out, "It's water!" she hissed.
Alec shrugged, "It's all I have left."
Max tossed the empty glass clumsily aside onto the sofa before standing up.
"Where are you going?" Alec asked innocently and then proceeded to gently shove her into sitting back down.
"To find a drink."
"I got a better idea, why don't you tell me what's wrong?"
"Ha!" Max scoffed.
Clearly the fact that she'd seen the ludicrousness in such a suggestion proved that Max wasn't drunk. Not yet. Impossibly tired, emotionally exhausted, maybe, but not quite drunk.
Alec raked a hand through his already dishevelled bed hair, sighing he sat his ass down on the cold floor in front of her.
Max looked down at him, confusion marring her perfect features, "What are you doing?"
"Waiting for you to talk."
"I don't want to talk."
"Fine I'll start talking then." Unfolding his long legs, Alec made himself as comfortable as possible and then gave Max his most charming smile. Max rolled her eyes. Alec smirked.
"I went to Crash today."
The he went silent.
Max raised both her eyebrows, "Is that it?"
"No that's just my prelude."
Max shook her head, a wry smile on her face, "You are such an ass."
Alec feigned offence at the comment but his twinkling hazel-green eyes told a different story. The muscles in her mouth were twitching; half wanted her to widen her smile, the other half wanted her to frown. In the end she settled on another sigh as she fell back against the sofa. The brevity of the light hearted moment plunged them back into an atmosphere of despair and uncertainty.
Finally Alec spoke with a softness he didn't know himself capable of, "I may talk incessantly but I'm a pretty good listener too."
Max stared down at him, positive he could see the cogs turning in her own brain as she decided whether to take him up on such an absurd offer. Mind made up, she asked, "Do you ever feel like jumping off a cliff? That the tasks you take on are so insurmountable that maybe it would be best if you didn't try at all?"
Alec looked positively horrified.
Max, noticing his expression, smiled, "Don't worry I'm not gonna go jumping off space needle, I'm not crazy."
Alec was placated enough to smile, but his concern never faded.
Max sighed again, "I've just had a really lousy day, what with White and his Familiars trying to make life hell for us all. Sometimes, I just feel like I've got no one to talk to about it."
Genuinely surprised Alec asked, "What about OC?"
"Oh don't get me wrong," Max said springing on the defence, "OC's my rock. She gets me, she's always got my back and I love her, but, it's just . . ."
"It's just what?"
"She's not Logan."
Alec wandered if it were too late to retract that offer of lending his ear. Logan wasn't the top of his list of things to discuss with Max, but then he couldn't really turn her away. It was disconcerting to see Max so ruffled and disorientated, she was so decidedly unlike herself, and Alec couldn't help but be anxious. Somewhere along the line, Alec had lost his sense for going it alone. He'd come to depend on Max, Sketchy, Joshua and now he was always seeking company, and finally understanding what it meant to be in the presence of friends. The fact was Max needed someone to listen to her this time, and as strange as it was, Alec didn't have the heart not to be that person.
"Well a hypothetical Logan, anyway," Max continued.
Alec looked blank, "I think you've lost me."
"I think I see Logan as something he's not. I've put him on a pedestal, where I can't reach him, both literally and figuratively," she added smiling, the retrovirus always somewhere swimming in the back of her mind. "I think I love the idea of Logan, which only means that I've been living a lie."
The comment was said with such openness and candidness that Alec found no reply but, "That sucks."
Max laughed, "Yes it does."
"So let me get this right," Alec said sitting up straighter, "You're not in love with Logan, and that's why you're upset?"
"I do love Logan."
"You do?" Alec was exhausted, he felt like a damned ping pong ball being batted back and forth against a brick wall.
Max groaned. Grabbing a cushion she slid to the floor. She sat cross legged, cushion in arms and her knees touching Alec's.
"I do love him. I'll always love him, but he's not home."
"Home?" Alec asked bewildered. Reaching forward he placed the back of his hand against Max's forehead. Eyes narrowing she swatted the hand away, "What are you doing?"
"I think you may be delirious."
"I am not delirious," Max punctuated each word with a prod at his chest, "I'm seeing things very clearly."
He didn't believe a word of it, but said nothing.
"Home's the person who loves you unconditionally no matter what," she explained focussing on some invisible spot above and beyond his left shoulder.
"Like Logan does."
Max shrugged, "It's not just that though. Home's someone who knows you better than they know themselves."
"He could if you let him try."
"I don't want him to though."
Alec studied her face. She was so heartbreakingly serious that his heart nearly broke for her. He didn't see what Max saw in the man, but Max had so desperately wanted it to work, had been so sure that it would, that he had wanted it too. For her sake. A year ago the selfish jerk that he had existed as would have delighted in the news, but all he really wanted was for her to be happy. And looking at her now, he could clearly see that she wasn't.
"Is it so silly?" she whispered, still not looking at him as she remained enraptured by some phantom object in the room.
"Is what so silly?" Alec asked.
"To be pining for your soul mate in the midst of the crazy chaos that epitomises our lives. Is it so silly not to want to feel so goddamn alone all the time? Is it so silly to want to find him, the one that makes you laugh and cry at the same time, the one who knows what you're thinking with a single look? Are we so far from human that we don't deserve at least that? Is it so silly?"
Almost as if someone else was pulling the strings, Alec lifted his hand and placed a finger under her chin and turned her face gently towards him. Shocked, brown eyes stared straight back at him. "No," he whispered, his voice hoarse, "No it's not."
A solitary tear ran down her cheek spilling from her water glazed eyes. Alec brushed it aside with his thumb, caressing the soft skin of her cheek as he did. With his other hand he tenderly tucked away a stray curl behind her ear, his eyes thirstily taking in every stretch of the skin on her face. Max watched him in wonder, a dangerous spark erupting in the pit of her stomach that warmed her entirely and lulled her into a state of false security. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing, and the relief of the skin on her arms was now disrupted with the presence of goosebumps. His eyes returned to her, leading her to make a startling discovery. She'd never realised just how expressive his eyes were, or in fact how beautiful. There was a peace in them that she'd never felt before, sitting here on his floor and facing each other, it felt like . . . home.
The realisation scared her senseless, and her eyes instantly dropped to the floor scorched. She mentally scolded herself for thinking such a ridiculous notion. 'This is Alec,' she reasoned, and that apparently was explanation enough. He was the cocky, self-assured, self-centred X5 she'd met at Manticore, nothing had changed that, and the idea that it had was preposterous. She refused to believe it had.
Alec realised with a startle what a colossal mistake he'd made. She had only begun to open up to him and he'd forced her to retreat further into herself. He needed to restore the balance, but searching through his brain for the appropriate response was proving to be futile.
"I should go," Max said suddenly, her hands placed on the floor as she attempted to push herself up, "It's late."
"Not that late," Alec said, feeling like a right bastard for taking advantage of her vulnerability.
"Hey you were complaining not ten minutes ago," Max said dusting herself off and surreptitiously avoiding his eyes.
Alec standing up too, desperate to get her to stay, simply because he believed she was far too fragile in her current mental state to be riding anywhere, quite unexpectedly blurted, "Stay. Don't go."
Max looked up unwillingly but was glad she had only seconds later. He looked so unbelievably guilty and worried, that she couldn't help but feel culpable too. He had only ever tried to comfort her and now she was running like a scared five year old from what she had initially sought.
Against all better judgement, she answered him, "Okay."
The effect was immediate; the relief that washed over him was palpable. But that unknown miasma of feelings that had clouded the air what felt like a lifetime ago still lingered stubbornly around them. Max determinedly thought of it no longer, forcing her mind to find a way to bring back that friendly ease between them.
"Are you sure you don't have any drinks lying around?" she walked over to the kitchen. Alec followed behind her, keeping to a safe distance.
Alec shook his head, "Completely out."
"Not even a secret stash?" Max asked hopefully.
Alec laughed, "Nope, sorry."
"Well I'm sorely disappointed Alec. There goes your rep."
"Not really," Alec shrugged.
Max raised her brows, inviting him to elaborate.
"I mean I did drink it all."
Max shook her head, "Pig."
"I have ice cream though," he said brightly.
Max turned around to face him, a disbelieving smile on her face. He reddened slightly realising his admission. Max laughed. He looked like such a little lost boy just then; she could do nothing but laugh.
"Chocolate?" Max asked, since nothing else would do.
Now Alec rolled his eyes, "What else?"
Opening the freezer, he fished out a tub of ice cream and left it on the counter. Turning away he raided the cupboard for two clean bowls and the practically empty drawers for two spoons. Once in possession of all suitable utensils he turned around to find the tub, and incriminatingly Max, missing.
He chuckled when he found her sat on the floor, tub in lap, and her finger in the ice cream scooping it out.
"That's so unhygienic." Alec said sitting himself down beside her.
"As opposed to the rest of this place?" Max teased. She then went on to put her chocolate ice cream covered finger in her mouth, and lick the remains off. For two people who were so hyper sensitively aware of each other's gender and the near disastrous situation of only a moment ago, Max was acting rather recklessly and she wasn't even conscious of it. Alec had to look away instantly, and refocus his wandering mind as he handed her a spoon, "Here."
Max snatched it, and dug it into the chocolate haven. Alec waved the bowls in front of her face but she ignored them, deciding she'd much rather eat out of the tub. Acknowledging the futility in trying to persuade Max into eating like a lady, when he really wasn't much of a gentleman himself, Alec set the bowls down on the floor, and plunged his spoon into the ice cream as well. Max looked up briefly and grinned. Feeling rather mischievous, she watched as the spoon neared Alec's mouth and then not quite so accidentally proceeded to knock the ice cream off his spoon.
A laugh bubbled its way out of her mouth at the despondency on Alec's face as he looked down at his empty spoon.
"Now that's hardly fair is it? It's my ice cream."
"Not anymore," Max illustrated her point by taking in a large mouthful.
Alec briefly considered fighting her for it, but then he realised that probably wouldn't be very wise. Try as they might ignore it, the atmosphere was highly charged as it was, and a scuffle over chocolate ice cream would probably increase the voltage quite significantly.
"Fine," he snapped, "I have another tub anyway."
Satisfied, Max continued to indulge herself.
An oddly comfortable silence fell around them before Alec barely managed to stifle a long coming yawn. Turning her head, Max frowned. He looked terribly tired. Turning her wrist she observed with some alarm that it was nearly half three. "You should go to bed."
Alec looked across at her, "Mmm," he covered his mouth as he yawned again, "Yeah."
Max watched as he reached over and grabbed another cushion from the sofa, laid it on the floor and then shuffled down and placed his head perfectly onto the centre of the cushion. He then stretched out the rest of his legs, folded his arms across his chest and then shut his eyes.
Max was sure her mouth was open wide enough for houseflies to enter at their leisure, "What are you doing?"
"Getting some sleep."
"On the floor?"
"What are you offering to sleep on the floor?"
"Don't you have a bed?"
"No, otherwise I would have offered it to you. You're gonna have to make do with the sofa. It's not that bad."
Alec missed the look of incredulity that passed over Max's facial features, "You know instead of wasting money on beer, maybe you should invest in a mattress."
"Yeah, that's a waste of money," Alec immediately dismissed the idea.
Max scoffed, trust him to think alcohol was more valuable than a decent night's rest. His rather selfless act didn't go unnoticed however, and she felt her heart swell with something she didn't want to identify. Feeling rather guilty for not only chewing on his ear, eating his ice cream and kicking him out of his bed, or rather the sofa, Max decided to join him in his discomfort. Seizing the cushion she had already put on the floor she positioned it at a chaste distance away from Alec, and then laid down.
Alec opened an eye, and smirked, which quickly descended into a frown when Max commented on his ceiling,
"That's the most disgusting ceiling I've ever seen," she muttered, "Its damp and has mouldy growth on it."
"It keeps the rain out."
"Not for long it won't."
"Won't need to shower then," Alec said.
Max screw her face up in disgust, "That's foul."
Turning her head Max caught sight of him, and smiled with a genuine sense of relief. Things seemed to have got back to normal.
The normalcy that Max had revelled in as she had drifted to sleep in the dark, after about an hour of tossing and turning on the hard cold floor whilst listening to the even breathing of Alec somewhere beside her, shattered only moments after she opened her eyes to greet the morning. The easy banter between the two before she'd fallen asleep had created a mere false impression.
Surprisingly, Max found herself unexpectedly comfortable as her eyes fluttered open, except for the morning sunlight shining through the window and momentarily blinding her. Taking her cushion with her, Max shuffled to the side to remove herself from the direct path of the rays of sunlight. It wasn't until she felt the warmth heating up her entire right side that she realised which direction she'd decided to move in. Losing the battle against the voice telling her to turn her head, Max did so ever so slightly. Her breath hitched in her throat when she finally relented, and that was when the illusion shattered.
He was facing her, so impossibly close without touching yet Max could still feel his light breath wash over her own face. His eyes were closed, his lips only slightly parted, and his hair was sticking out in the oddest angles, highlighted in the sun as an almost sandy blond. His skin was deliciously unmarred, and Max thought quite unabashedly that he was the most beautiful man she'd ever laid eyes on.
Her mind reeled her back to the events of last night; her rather uncharacteristic display of a weakening grip on control, her staggering comprehension that Logan wasn't her sanctuary and that for a moment she thought that maybe Alec was. Still not entirely convinced that he was, Max stared at him some more. And the only thing that stared back at her was the possibility that he could be.
The invisible forces were at work again, as Max found her fingers inexplicably drawn towards his face. They landed with the utmost care at the bottom of his ear. Gently her fingers traced their way down his strong jaw and against the newly growing stubble until her thumb rested on his lower lip. He didn't stir under her touch.
She couldn't explain any of it. In her muddled brain, her pull towards Alec made no sense at all and she didn't know what to do with herself. Self preservation mandated her to take a deep breath, roll back the other way and then get the hell out. Her rather more adventurous side told her she'd be a fool if she didn't take this chance to find out once and for all what Alec meant to her. She would have groaned out loud at her dilemma if it weren't for the risk of waking him, not when he looked so blindingly angelic.
But then she just couldn't stand it anymore. She had to know. It was as simple as that. Positioning herself so that one hand was flat against the floor on the other side of him, Max leant down closer to him, her hair splaying out on his cheek, and with no more effort than was necessary, Max pressed her lips to his. Regardless of the fact that Alec was fast asleep, and he wasn't responding, it was by far the most invigorating kiss she'd ever experienced, for the sheer fact it was so agonisingly clandestine. He would never know.
Max very almost never wanted to move away, but she knew she had to, and so very carefully she peeled herself away. And that was when she felt it. She hadn't even been aware how it got there but somehow Alec's fingers had entwined themselves in her curls and held her head very firmly exactly where it was; a meagre centimetre or two away from his face.
His eyes opened, sparkling, as he grinned up at her. "Good morning," he whispered.
He'd bloody played her for a fool with his fake sleeping routine. She wanted to snap at him for deceiving her as he had, but she couldn't quite get her mouth and her brain to start working at the same time.
"You were supposed to be asleep," she said not so intelligently.
"I'm not," he observed.
"Yeah . . . I just . . . well. . . I . . ."
Alec quirked an eyebrow, silently challenging her to get out of this unscathed.
"I wanted to thank you for last night; you know listening to me ramble on."
"So that was what that was."
"What was?" Max immediately regretted asking, as she saw him smile up at her with mischief sparkling in his now strangely darker eyes.
Lifting his head, his lips collided with hers. Max's head went fuzzy, her legs feeling like jelly, her entire body tingling with the sensation of him kissing her. All at once and too soon, Alec pulled away, "That."
Max couldn't suppress the smile that lit up her entire face as she stared down at him, "I should go."
"But you won't," he said with a brashness that triggered somersaults in her stomach.
"And why's that?"
"Because you're already home."
And as she let him kiss her again, she really started to believe that it might just be true.
A/N 2: Hehe! Very fluffy I know, but I couldn't help it! Thanks for reading and please leave me a review telling me what you thought.