Author's Note: This is a Challenge by CandyCentric, a nun just like me (from Nuns with Pens!). The challenge goes like this: When Alec gets caught under the mistletoe with Max, he decides to take full advantage of a situation that will probably never happen again. But what happens when he finds out Max was the one who strung the plant up, knowing full well there was a good chance he would be walking by? I know it's kind of late for a Christmas fic, but, whatever! Enjoy and Review!
Under the Mistletoe
Alec walked his way to HQ while appreciating the festive decorations around him. The citizens of Terminal City had done what they could to bring the so called "Christmas Spirit" to the ten-block ratio that now belonged to the transgenics. Alec didn't think much of such Christian holidays, mainly because he doubted that there was a God, in the first place, but there was also that hypocritical sense about the entire season- the spirit of fellowship between people who otherwise hated, couldn't stand, and took advantage of each other.
A happy couple walked past Alec while he gathered his thoughts. They were holding hands and laughing about something. Two X5s, soldiers trained since birth in the fine art of assassination, yet Alec couldn't help thinking that they looked just right for each other in their simple act of intimacy. He sighed and shook his head in irritation, that must be the corniest thing I've ever thought.
Yep, he couldn't stand Christmas but apparently, not all of the transgenics agreed with him. They were holding a Christmas party in the main hall to celebrate not the birth of some little dude, like the rest of the world, but the freedom of their people. After three years of fighting and struggling, their voice had finally been heard by the government. Only two weeks ago, the government officials had come to a decision regarding the Transgenic situation, and they had voted in favor of the little freaks. So, naturally, Josh thought it would be nice to throw a little party to celebrate. Just great.
Max paced around her office, waiting for Alec's return. This had to be the craziest thing she had ever done… Max knew that if she thought about it any more, she'd end up wanting to bolt the hell out of there.
There comes a time in every woman's life when she has to decide what she really wants. Years of moping and brooding over her relationship with Logan had finally worn her out, and she realized she didn't want that anymore. She wanted to have fun again, and she wanted to laugh and fool around with her friends. She wanted to do so many things that her broken heart wouldn't allow her to while it was still attached to a relationship that only weighed her down.
And then they were free. There was no more running from the law because of what they were, no more hiding who she really was.
But there was still Logan and their handholding with a layer of latex coming between the intimate contact. It had seemed like a good solution at the time, but after a while, Max had realized it was the stupidest thing ever. 'How the hell are we supposed to build a relationship with a latex glove between us?' she thought in despair, frustration taking over her emotions. Logan seemed to think it wasn't so bad, but Max couldn't take it any longer. Every time he walked to her with a latex glove covering his hand, ready to hold hers, all she wanted to do was rip his arm out of its socket and hit him with it. He just didn't get it. How could pasta and handholding be enough for him? Talking and working… was that all he wanted from her? Well, it wasn't all she wanted from him. And what she wanted, Max soon discovered he couldn't give to her. She realized that their relationship had died some time ago.
Max wasn't sure at what point in time she and Logan had really been over, whether it was when she started spending more time than necessary with her SIC, or whether it was when these violent tendencies towards Logan's anatomy had started. She really didn't know.
She'd broken up with Logan a few months ago, but no one could really tell. Logan was still around to help out, and Max still disappeared to "Logan's place"- her excuse to escape from it all, spend a few hours on the Space Needle, and then head back home again.
She didn't feel guilty. She felt… liberated, like a burden had been lifted from her heart. She could breathe again, she could smile again. And lately, Alec was looking rather kissable in her eyes, a fact that she completely hated. Alec was a lady's man, and she hated Lady's Men. But she couldn't fight the draw that she had to him.
Max sighed. Ok, so, yeah, he's a lady's man, but he's been my SIC for the last three years, and even though he's messed up from time to time, he's always there for me, let's me rely on him more than I should. She also realized that he was one of the few people who made her laugh. She didn't like that either, but what can you do when your body, brain and soul want to laugh at something Alec says? Stupid body, brain and soul!
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone entering her office.
"Hey, Maxie," Alec greeted as he made his way to her desk. Instead of sitting on one of the chairs available for visitors, Alec plopped right onto the desk itself.
"Hey," she greeted back. She had stopped scowling at him for calling her Maxie a long time ago. He was the only one who still dared call her that, and he was now the only one allowed to call her that.
"Dix said you needed something?"
She sat on her chair and looked at him. "Yeah, you going tonight?"
He knew exactly what she was referring to- the transgenic Christmas party. "Do I have to?" he whined in small protest.
She rolled her eyes. "I told you already: you have to go! If I have to go, you have to go. End of discussion."
"If that's the end of the discussion, then why'd you ask me if I'm gonna go?" he teased.
"Well, I was hoping that you'd just say yes so I wouldn't have to whoop your ass into coming."
He laughed suddenly. "Well, you do like to whoop my ass around, so I thought that would be my Christmas present for you."
"I thought you didn't like Christmas."
"I don't, I'm just saying..."
Max sighed in annoyance. "Ok, what if I told you Krit got a hold of a pretty big stash of booze for the party?"
"I'm so there," he said without hesitation.
Max smiled. She knew him quite well. "I'm off to find Ginny- there are some problems with the medical supplies apparently, so I'll see you later," she told Alec. She then took her jacket, and they both made their way out of the office.
"Hey, Max, what're you gonna wear?" he asked suddenly after she closed her office door.
"None of your business," she scowled.
"Get your mind out of the gutter, I was just wondering 'cuz I don't know what to wear," he explained.
"Oh," she uttered, feeling a little more than just embarrassed. "Just throw on a pair of clean jeans and a t-shirt, you'll be fine," she answered casually.
He nodded, "Ok, I'll get pretty for you," he teased as he winked his eye to her, and left to talk to Ron, a red-haired X5 in charge of surveillance.
Max left HQ in a rush. Her head was spinning with thoughts of Alec. His last statement left her in high anticipation of the night. He's going to 'get pretty' for me! she thought anxiously, her heart fluttering as the words rang in her mind. She passed by the infirmary but didn't stop by. It wasn't Ginny, the City's Head Doctor, who she needed to speak with. Max was looking for Biggs.
Ok, black t-shirt or gray? sigh I think the black looks better with these Jeans… Or, maybe, I should wear a nice button down shirt. I think I have one, somewhere. I can put on the black t-shirt, and the shirt on top.
Alec stopped for a moment as he assessed the situation. Practically all of the garments he owned were sprawled across his bed, some next to his Jeans, to see if they would match. What's wrong with me?! He felt like a nervous girl right before the first date. And it wasn't like he was going on a date, or anything. He was going to a celebration party where he might see Max, along with many other friends and colleagues. Even Cindy and Sketchy were going to be there. Normal couldn't make it, he'd apologized for having other arrangements- something about a promise to accompany his girlfriend to her parents' house. No one had ever seen this girlfriend of his, and Cindy doubted she was even real, but he declined the invitation more than once.
Everyone was going to be there, the same people he charmed on a daily basis. So, why in the world was he nervous? It wasn't like him to be so nervous, even less so when he thought about Max. Some of her death looks had really hit home a few times, sending a fear throughout him for getting his ass kicked. But nervousness? He thought a moment.
Maybe this was what many authors had written about. He knew he liked Max. A lot. More than he should, really, considering that she was someone else's girl. She was his friend and opponent, and everything in between. There had always been something compelling about Max that made him want to get closer and closer to her, even though he knew that would leave him open and vulnerable to be hurt. She wasn't like the other female transgenics, something he'd always known. He was afraid of her, not because she thought she could really take him on and hand him his ass, but because she made him feel things he had never imagined he could, things he'd only read or heard about in novels. He hadn't been burned yet, but he knew it was only a matter of time, just like a fly attracted by a dazzling light.
Alec dismissed his self-conscious thoughts that could only come about because of Max by making a decision. The shirt will be ok.
Cindy was ready; she knew what she had to do.
"Remember," Max said, "be subtle."
"Boo, I got it. Don't worry, girl!"
They were chatting in a dark corner, getting ready for Max's plan. She wanted to do this, and she didn't really care if Alec wanted this or not; she was done thinking of others, at least for tonight. If he liked it, the better for her. If not, well, it was Christmas, and he would just have to deal with a Christmas tradition!
Max wasn't wearing anything particularly sexy, but she had chosen an outfit that she knew Alec liked, although she wasn't quite sure why he liked that particular set of clothes. Her dark Jeans and long sleeve, grey t-shirt were anything but sexy; still, he stared at her every time she wore them. He didn't know she'd noticed, but she did. He would be in the middle of something, and suddenly stop to stare at her for a few minutes, until Dix, Luke, or someone else interrupted his reverie. She wasn't sure what was going through his mind when he did that, whether they were good thoughts or bad, though either would be of great benefit to her, Max thought with a wicked grin. All she knew was that he stared, and she'd never seen his eyes pour into any other woman like that.
Alec entered the room slowly, making his way through the crowd of happy transgenics and friends.
As he scanned the room, Alec's sights fell onto Sketchy, who was already quite hammered and flirting with Jondy, one of Max's sisters. Jondy was definitely one of the coolest girls he had ever met. Her natural blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes were breathtaking, and her sassy personality was very much appealing. Alec once thought that the reason Max was so different to the other female X5s was because she was an 09er, she had been in the outside world longer than them. But when he met Jondy and Syl, it didn't matter how beautiful and amazing they were, they just were not like Max.
Alec hadn't seen the brunette yet. He had heard only rumors of Logan's presence at the party, nothing concrete, and the utter pussy that the man was, he didn't dare ask; but Alec figured he was probably somewhere around, occupying Max's complete attention.
"Hey, boo," he heard the greeting as Cindy came into view. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Nothing, enjoying the party. You?" he answered with pleasure from over the music.
"Dancin' like crazy with the honeys!" Alec laughed at his friend's response before she continued, "What's Sketchy doin'? That fool!"
"Well, he thinks he's got a shot."
"A shot, my ass! He's so wasted he can't tell a hot girl from Doggy-dog."
"Hey, let the guy enjoy his drunken confidence! He's having fun!"
As Alec stared again at his goofy friend, his eye caught sight of Biggs. His friend was talking to a group of X6s and a few X5s, no doubt trying to impress Evanna, a gorgeous, fiery blonde who used to be CO, just like Alec. Although Biggs had pretty much always been a player, he'd found himself completely obsessed about the female transgenic during the last 6 months; probably because she didn't pay Biggs as much attention as the rest. He had been going around the city with a mistletoe since the start of the Christmas season, kissing all the females he could, but Evanna had been rather hard to get, so his friend had soon realized that a tradition involving a plant hanging above their heads would not do the trick.
Cindy broke Alec's stare with a question. "Right. Have ya seen my girl?" she asked suddenly, forcing Alec to look at her instead of his old friend.
"Uhm, no, not really. She's probably somewhere with Logan… you know, doing things couples with retro-viruses do," he answered, his calm tone not letting on the tinge of bitterness that he couldn't help feeling.
"Logan? Logan's not here, boy," she answered casually, careful to keep the conversation headed in a direction that would lead to Max's plan coming true.
"What d'ya mean?" Alec asked. His green eyes flickered with a golden light of curiosity as she sparked his interests.
"Roller-boy ain't here. He wasn't invited," she repeated as she took the last sip from her drink.
Alec was thrown with confusion for a moment. Why would Logan not be invited? Come to think about it, Alec hadn't seen the older man in quite a while. He had seen him on the computer screen a few times, but Alec was certain Max had been going to his place at least once a week or every ten days.
"Why not? Had to save the world or something?" he enquired, thinking it could be possible Logan wasn't here because he preferred to stay home and go over his 'bring-down-the-bad-cops' plans.
"OC knows nothing 'bout saving the world, but my girl hasn't been with him for a while now." Having said this, Cindy then stared down into her glass. "My glass's empty. 'Scuse a sista while I go get anotha drink."
Alec stood there a few moments after Cindy retreated to the bar, frozen in complete confusion. When he snapped out of it, he went after his friend.
"Cindy. So… what? Max and Logan are over?" he asked not sure if he really believed it.
His friend didn't slow her pace, and kept walking through the sea of dancing transgenics. She nodded at the question. "Mhmm. That right, pretty," she offered simply before turning her focus into getting a refill on her drink. "A beer, please," she told Manuel, the cat-looking transgenic in charge of the bar.
"But, when? She didn't… say anything." At least, Alec thought she hadn't said anything. Maybe she'd only implied it, not wanting to admit that Alec had been right. Alec had told her point blank one time that she didn't belong with Logan, an ordinary whose attachment would only hurt them both.
"A few months ago," came the casual reply from Cindy.
Months?! Alec barely had time to think about her answer, as Cindy opened her mouth again. "Hey," she said, looking up to notice Max leaning her left side on the frame of a door just up the stairs, close to where they were standing, "There's my girl. Why dontcha ask her, 'stead a playin' twenty questions wit Original Cindy?"
Alec turned, finally taking in more of his surroundings as he noticed the crowd of Transgenics and the fun they were all having. As his eyes found Max, though, he noted the frown held on her face. She must not have been thinking about the party, with a look like that.
By the time Alec withdrew his eyes from Max, Cindy had disappeared into the crowd. Alec considered going up there to greet Max, but he wondered if her chosen location was out of a desire to be alone right then.
But as he looked further, Alec noticed that the floor Max was standing on wasn't completely deserted. It had a perfect view of the entire dancing floor, and was scattered with groups of X6s. The transgenics were walking around and talking; there were a few couples kissing; X8s going up and down the stairs. Seeing this, Alec decided he wouldn't be disturbing her too much to go up and greet her.
Max held a drink in her hands that was half empty. She had chopped her mane of brown hair some time ago, claiming long hair was just too much responsibility for her at the moment. Alec remembered laughing at the statement, and then admiring how her once straight hair became curly when it was wet. Its shoulder length framed her face to perfection. He saw she was wearing the tight, grey, long sleeve t-shirt he loved. It was an old t-shirt but he loved the way it just fitted her torso as if they were meant to be together. He knew he paid way too much attention to those little details, but he couldn't help it. He had been trained his entire life to pick up the little things, and such habits die hard.
"Hey," he greeted, stopping right beside her.
Max looked up to him, looking rather surprised to see him there.
Well, that was fast. Max had thought it would take Cindy a more time to find him- time she'd been planning on using to figure out exactly how she was going to break this to him. But now that he was there, Max didn't know how to do it.
"Hey," she greeted back, with a nervous smile adorning her face.
"Whatcha doing up here by yourself? Why don't you come down?" he asked.
"In a minute… I was just thinking," she answered.
He nodded at her reply, and after a moment, he said, "Are you ok? I heard 'bout Logan."
"I'm- I'm fine. Who told you?" she asked, knowing it had been Cindy. Her homegirl was the only one who knew. But she wasn't supposed to say anything!
"Uhm, Cindy? Don't get mad at her, I just thought you were with Logan instead of here at the party and she told me you're not with him anymore."
"You thought I was going to blow you off? I said I was coming!" she teased him, feigning annoyance.
He smiled at her, knowing this was part of their thing. Bickering always found its way into their conversations. "I didn't think you were blowing me off. No girl has ever blown me off. I just thought: here I am, all pretty for Max, and she ditches me to hang out with Logan."
"Well, I didn't. And, you did clean up well," she answered, admiring the white button down shirt he was wearing. He did look good in button down shirts… and in t-shirts, and turtle necks, and, well, almost anything he threw on.
"So… Cindy said this happened a few months ago," he stated somewhat hesitantly. "How come you didn't say anything?"
Alec honestly thought he would get the Bitch-Max answer: Me and Logan are none of you business, but, oddly enough, she answered his question truthfully, without any hostility.
"I don't know. I just had some things to figure out before I could move on."
She leaned her back on the inner frame of the door, and he moved as well, so he could lock his eyes with hers, something he loved to do.
"So you've figured them out already?" he asked curiously.
"Actually, I did," she told him matter-of-factly.
"So, what-" he tried to say, but was interrupted by Cindy.
"Hey, you guys, you're under the mistletoe. Ya know what that means, aiight?" their friend said, and quickly left with satisfaction.
Max's eyes became enormous at Cindy's words. Way to be subtle!
She looked up at him and her body tensed; she was worried about his reaction. He looked as uncomfortable as she was. What she didn't know was that he was uncomfortable because he really wanted to go through with the traditional kiss but he didn't think she wanted to.
He smiled politely. "It's—you know, a stupid tradition. We don't—you know," he managed to say.
"Yeah," she said with a smile quite like his. They both nodded, not at their lack of words, but at what the few words really meant. She had to be brave. Do this, or you'll regret it forever. If he doesn't want to, you move on. There are plenty of cool, funny, gorgeous guys in here! But before she could speak the perfect excuse to kiss Alec, he stole her words.
Don't be stupid! You have the perfect chance right here! Just do it!! One kiss won't hurt anybody, dude! Unless she totally freaks out… but it'll still be worth it!
"Then again, it is a tradition," he went on, completely serious. "There's nothing wrong with… kissing. I mean, we're both adults, we're friends, so what's the deal if we kiss under a mistletoe?"
Good, use logic! Although, I'm not sure Max's the most logical person...
Max was a bit surprised at his sudden change of heart; though, she really liked it, it made things easier for her and he had a point. They were friends; they were adults; what was the deal??
"You're right. It's not a big deal," she agreed, as she looked into his eyes.
"Ok," he uttered. Now he was the one to be surprised by her sudden change of heart. Max was agreeing on kissing him. Huh… weird. A Christmas miracle, maybe?
He took a deep breath and leaned forward. Her eyes were closed and her head tilted up as his lips approached hers.
He had beautiful lips. On any other man, they would've looked rather feminine, but on him they looked rough and manly. They were soft. That was the first thing she confirmed the second his mouth met hers. The kiss had been short and chaste, but it sent her head spinning, leaving her feeling light headed. She'd never been kissed like this before. Max had experienced a few first kisses before, all of them lustful, coming into existence for the sole purpose of subduing her desire. Even her first kiss with Logan hadn't been quite like this. It had been quick and dramatic at the thought of never seeing him again. Maybe when she kissed him again about three and a half years ago, during their twelve-hour window break, she had felt something close to this, but it certainly wasn't as intense.
Alec opened his eyes to see hers still closed as she took a deep breath. Her lips were slightly parted, and when she finally opened her magnificent dark orbs, he found something he really had not been expecting. Desire.
His hand found her cheek and he caressed her, afraid she wasn't real after all.
"Indeed," she said with a small, husky voice. "No big deal," she finished with a slight smirk.
Alec felt her arms move slowly towards his shoulders.
"Yeah," was the only thing he managed to produce.
She encircled his neck a few moments later, and he did the only thing he could- follow his instincts. His arms were around her back, one on her lower back, enclosing the space between them.
He was inches away from her mouth when they were interrupted again.
"Sorry, guys," said Biggs, "Max, you done with the mistletoe? 'Cuz I think Evanna is about to crack and I'm gonna need it."
Alec frowned at his friend, not sure what he was talking about. He looked up to see the mistletoe hanging above their heads, and realized that was the exact same mistletoe Biggs had been carrying around the entire city for a couple of weeks, placing it on strategic places to get the kisses he wanted.
Max scowled at Biggs, and, tightly said: "Just take it."
The black haired man did so at transgenic speed and left; he really didn't want to see this, he just wanted to kiss Evanna!
"What—?" Alec started, his voice full of indignation and amusement at the realization that Max had planned the whole thing; Cindy, the mistletoe, the kiss. But, unfortunately, he was not able to continue his enquiry as he was interrupted by Max's lips. He immediately gave her tongue access to his mouth, and as they deepened the kiss, and closed all the space remaining between them, he forgot what had just happened, because it really didn't matter how it had happened. He was kissing Max and nothing else mattered.
Review!! If you wish to see the cover for this story, go to my LJ; you'll find the link on my profile.