Disclaimer: I don't own Dark Angel or these characters!

Setting: before the Berrisford Agenda

Pairing: MA, no doubt!

Genre: Humor, Romance? …perchance!

A simple search in Alec's room becomes much more complicated and intense than Max ever intended…

a/n: we have here a Season 1 Max with the full Alec denial of... well, the whole show I guess!

Chapter 1: It was Behind the Sofa the Whole Time

Max had the sneaking suspicion that whatever she was about to find would only reaffirm her original assumptions that he was nothing more than a cocky, sarcastic, opportunistic show-off. The fact that what she was about to discover might change her opinion of him or make her re-think anything never even came close to crossing her mind. No, this was routine, nothing more. She wasn't checking for some kind of reassurance that she was right about him- she didn't need that. She was checking to one-up him, find out before he screwed up yet again. And whatever self-serving scheme he was planning to come clean off of this time, she was determined to undermine, not only so she could shove it in his annoying, cocky, Pretty Boy face, but so that she could prove to him that anything he thought he was so clever at, she could do better.

Why what Alec thought of her mattered wasn't a detail she was concerned with focusing on now or ever. All that mattered now was to figure it out before he knew what hit him.

She quickly glanced from side to side one more time, as if someone could have somehow surprised her. She had transgenic hearing, and she was focused and sure of herself. There was no way that anyone else was in the apartment.

Why was she so nervous then?

The truth was, there was more at stake this time. The humiliation of Alec somehow catching her as she rummaged through his apartment was enough to make her more cautious than normal. Not to mention, as a transgenic just like herself, he was more likely to catch her than your average, everyday prey.

She opened his dresser drawers with caution. Part of her certainly didn't want to know what was hidden away in there.

Her lips curled upward in a surprised and amused smile. She hadn't expected him to be so neat and tidy, right down to the careful folding of his boxers.

Max felt a rush of warmth come over her cheeks. Now what am I doing blushing over Alec's underwear?! she thought, embarrassed even though no one could see her.

The moment of embarrassment only increased her determination to get what she'd come for. And apparently, it wasn't hiding in his underwear drawer.

Where the hell is it? she thought with frustration as her heartbeat began to pick up. She'd heard him at work, going on about some ingenious plan of his to show up tomorrow with something 'she' couldn't resist. Whichever 'she' he was planning on manipulating this time, Max didn't care about. She just wanted to beat him to the punch. Nothing would satisfy her more than beating Alec at his own game.

She didn't waste any thought considering why her satisfaction was so controlled by Alec these days. Instead, she focused on her memory of what he'd said earlier, daring to hope that there was some clue she'd overlooked so far that might help her find it sooner.

Normally, she had a way of tuning out every annoying word that came out of his smirking mouth. But her ears couldn't help perking up earlier that day when she'd heard him mumbling something about 'doing whatever it takes' to 'get my prize'.

It had to be a bet. With Alec and the other guys at Jam Pony, it always was. And Alec had an uncanny way of always winning. His unchallenged, constant victories were almost more annoying than making the bets at the expense of others in the first place. Max was determined to watch him lose this one- even if it meant she had to stoop a bit to his level to do it.

Max didn't have to think hard to connect the dots about what was going this time. Obviously, as usual, he'd made some bet out of his ever expanding ego. Probably about stealing some expensive gift in hopes of nailing whoever the flavor of the week was. Which meant he was going to do the other usual- pull a heist.

Max eyed the table with one brow raised in dangerous curiosity. She really didn't have time to be wasting on pure snooping. There was a goal here, and being distracted with the unexpected was only hindering her plan.

Nonetheless, she couldn't help taking a moment to enjoy the luxury of being in his room completely alone. Her eyes scanned the place, a sudden burning curiosity coursing through her that wouldn't be denied.

Why of all times, now, she suddenly found Alec interesting enough to pry into was beyond her. Must be the DNA, she reasoned. Curious like a cat.

Resting atop the table was some sort of scribbling- a note. Max immediately ripped it off the table to inspect it further.

What the hell is this? she wondered, hoping it was something revealing- which meant embarrassing- that she could bring up later.

As she eyed it further, she realized it was a list of some… tips on getting girls? she guessed, scanning a few of the lines scrawled on it. She noticed his writing was careful and cautious- so unlike his cocky, blunt personality at work. The words were written in an almost neat fashion- thin, and precise. She almost laughed, picturing Alec's true personality. He was far from under the radar, the way this writing was. His ego was so enormous, sometimes she wondered how it fit in the room he was standing in.

She read some of it in spite of the fact that she ought to be hurrying to find what she was looking for. Oh, please! she thought with a tight frown, picturing all the guys at work worshiping his 'skills' with women. Was this his way of 'spreading the wealth'?

Get to know her friends, help her out,… Max's eyebrow raised at one in particular. Family. That one word to Max meant the world.

But to Alec…

Clearly, it was just one more thing on his 'to-do' list for getting a girl. What an ass, she thought before the sound of her cell phone beeping brought her thoughts back to the plan.

Logan, she read the name of the caller as her eyes rolled. Now is not the time. She quickly withdrew from the table and got back to scanning the place for what she had come for.

After a brief search of the main room, she let out a sigh of frustration. Her eyes fell upon his bedroom again. She had to have missed something in there. It only made sense that he'd keep it there.

She re-entered the room to do a more thorough search this time. He had to have blueprints around the room somewhere. The trick was finding his personal hiding place. For a fleeting moment, Max wished she'd paid more attention to him so she'd know where he might put an item that meant something to him, until her eyes rested upon a shadow looming on the wall in a dark corner of the room, partway underneath his bed.

Bingo! she thought with satisfaction as she crept closer to the spot. She brushed a dirty blanket aside to uncover the object she'd first noticed. Her eyes rolled in a twisted mixture of amusement and annoyance as she realized what she'd just found- a wooden box just underneath a crumpled picture of a girl.

Typical, Alec! she chided him in her head, glancing at the predictable sight of his prized possessions laying right beneath a photo of some hot girl. He was such an accomplished flirt, it was a wonder why Manticore hadn't used him in high profile espionage. Surely, he would've been great at betraying the hearts of normally frugal women.

"I took Common Verbal Usage when I got cleared for my solo missions," he had told her.

"Oh, you mean assassinations," she'd smartly replied.

He'd made some comment about it just being a job. The memory made Max again roll her eyes. As usual, he held no responsibility for hurting anyone in his actions. Which only made her wonder the lengths he would go to, doing 'whatever it would take' to get his 'prize'.

Either money for winning the bet, or some hot chick's devotion, Max thought with disgust. Probably both, she added with annoyance. Could he be any more predictable? she wondered, eyeing the photo again. Bet his 'prize''ll be cuter than you, she thought sarcastically as she stared at the snapshot.

Something about the picture struck Max as she took a second glance at it. Max knew she ought to be moving as fast as possible, open the box up and go. But a betraying curiosity froze her in place, and she couldn't help studying the photo.

It was her innocence. The girl looked beautiful, but young. And her brown eyes held a purity that Max couldn't help pouring into for a moment before the shock wore off.

A traitorous thought to her entire purpose of being there crept into the corners of her mind but wouldn't be ignored. Why does Alec have a picture of an innocent girl in his bedroom?

For a moment, she wondered if he was even more twisted than she'd originally thought- having some fantasy she didn't even want to think about that dealt with young, innocent girls.

But as she studied the picture further and took in its odd placement, she found herself doing the unthinkable as she stood in the middle of Alec's bedroom. She couldn't help second-guessing him as she tried to come up with a logical explanation as to why he would carry around a girl's picture like that.

Just forget it, Max! she told herself. She could worry about this later, or better yet, not at all. What did it matter that Alec had some girl's photo in such a treasured spot?

She eyed the box cautiously, wondering how she could open it without him ever noticing later. If he was so particular with his boxers, even the slightest misplacement would give away that someone had been messing with his stuff. Then again, this was tucked away under his bed. Which made her realize this couldn't be where the blueprints for tonight were.

Max couldn't believe she was hesitating about whether or not she should open the box. Earlier that day, she would have had no qualms about ripping it open and using whatever secrets were hidden there against him.

But for some reason, she was holding back.

It was respect. She didn't want to disrespect his privacy. Somehow, seeing that photo had caused her to have a change of heart. She felt like she was being too invasive all of a sudden.

And she was quickly losing the dedication to continue her search. She'd come up with nothing so far. She was losing interest and doubting her original assumption.

Maybe he's not doing anything worse than beating them in a game of pool at Crash, she thought with a sigh. It wasn't one of frustration this time, but of exhaustion.

She carefully placed the unopened box and photo back in their original places and prepared to leave.

Damn. He wins again, she thought, the annoyance sparking her determination again, but not enough to continue. So now he could smirk at her without even being in front of her!

Geez, Max, she scolded herself. She had to put some distance between herself and Alec after devoting her entire evening to him. She wondered if he had a phone around somewhere so she could call Logan back.

As she looked for a phone, her eyes lit up with success as she noticed a set of plans- blueprints- laying right in the middle of his apartment, on top of the TV.

You have got to be kidding me! She couldn't believe that for a moment she had allowed herself to give up.

Of course! she thought as she picked them up. She'd been looking all this time for them to be in a hidden spot. It made more sense that he'd be confident enough, make that foolish enough, to just leave them out in the open.

Guess he wasn't expecting any visitors, she thought with a satisfied grin as she quickly scanned the papers. She shook her head in disappointment as she saw the location. Where is your originality, Alec? she thought with a sigh.

He was planning on hitting up a warehouse that was well-known to be the notorious location where more of the 'dirty' business that went on in Seattle took place. To be more specific, it was where all the black market items were stored- stolen human organs, usually. Sadly, they sold for a hefty profit.

Looking to take off with the loot! she guessed before folding the papers back up and placing them on the table.

Max walked confidently to his door. Guess this didn't turn out to be a waste of time after all! she thought with a happy grin.

Just as she was about to turn the knob, she froze in place as she watched it turn by itself… from the other side.

Oh shit! was the only thought that came to her as she realized that the bad situation she was really hoping to avoid was coming to catch her red-handed.

She watched in horror as the knob turned in what seemed like slow-motion, her thoughts racing as she tried to decide what she ought to do.

She leaned against the wall without thinking, hoping to hide in the shadows until he was distracted enough for her to sneak out.

The door opened and a whistling Alec entered the apartment while Max held her body tightly against the wall.

He tossed the keys to his bike carelessly on the table, the action causing the blueprints to fall to the floor.

Max rolled her eyes and tried not to let out an annoyed sigh in spite of her attempts to remain hidden. He's such an idiot! she thought to herself, eyeing the blueprints on the floor.

His whistling continued as he took off his jacket, tossing it not far from where Max was standing.

She swallowed cautiously, hoping he wasn't headed there next.

His scent was surrounding her now, with his jacket laying at her feet. The rugged scent made a flush creep over her cheeks, and she scowled in her mind that he had such an effect on her.

Max groaned inwardly at her circumstance. I have got to get out of here!

Alec took off his shirt next before departing to his bedroom. It was clear he was about to take a shower.

Thank God! Max thought to herself with relief as she moved quickly to leave.

Just as she touched the knob, however, the sound of Alec's feet coming back into the main room made her flinch, and she stood still, frozen in place.

She could feel his eyes on her, and she cringed as her fears were realized.

"Well, what do we have here?" Alec asked her, a satisfied smirk lighting up his features with the same intensity as the golden twinkle of amusement that sparkled in his hazel eyes. He'd caught her, and he knew it.

Max turned around slowly, preparing her face to be unreadable as she faced him. Her eyes widened at the sight of him standing there so naturally without a shirt on. The dim lighting of the room caused his muscles to gleam in all the right places.

Max wasn't sure if her face was flushed out of embarrassment at being caught or the surprise that the sight of his chest could bring her such satisfaction.

"Alec," she said lamely, unable to come up with anything else as she tried to think of an explanation that he would believe.

"What happened to all that talk of breaking and entering, Max?" he asked her, rubbing it in. As if she'd been expecting anything less, given the situation.

"About how it's wrong and immoral?" He paused to allow a dramatic smirk to slide across his face. "Have a change of heart?" he continued to tease her.

He turned toward his cupboard to pour himself a glass of scotch in the most normal fashion, as though having Max unexpectedly standing in his apartment while he was half naked wasn't even worth reacting to other than his usual minor teasing of her.

"What are you talking about?" she asked him in an annoyed voice.

Alec looked up to meet her stare again. His face read something along the lines of 'duh'. "Max, correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't hear a knock." He gave her a cocky grin as he finished, "And I have pretty damn good hearing, if you didn't know. Something to do with my genetics."

"I just got here," she lied. "So I didn't feel like requesting entry. Big deal."

His stare questioned her for a moment before he shrugged in acceptance. "Whatever. I guess you could say I wasn't expecting this. Want a drink?" he offered with an encouraging grin.

Max eyed his stomach and arms awkwardly. "Can't you put a shirt on?" she snapped at him, wanting the uncomfortable feeling settling over her to leave immediately. It was distracting her from coming up with a good reason to explain her presence.

"So… no drink," he replied, completely ignoring her comment. He made a shrug before finishing his glass and pouring himself another.

"No thanks!" she snapped.

Alec laughed at her reactions. "Excuse me for not wearing a shirt in my own apartment! If you just walked in, I guess you didn't realize I was just about to hop in the shower."

"Well, don't stop on my account," she replied rudely, making a gesture that indicated he needed to anyway.

"Why'd you say you dropped in again?" he asked, fully aware that she hadn't mentioned it.

"I came by to talk to you," she lied to him.

Alec nodded before sighing in slight resistance. "Great. So what do you need?"

Max's lips parted in shock before she could think to not let on so much emotion. What exactly is he implying? she thought with a frown. Then she recalled his note, how it mentioned 'helping her out'. Was this some poor attempt at winning her devotion?

"Where are we going this time?" he continued. "Just please tell me it's not the sewers! Why is that always the hideout for them? Why can't they be layin' it low in a nice 5 star hotel?"

She felt momentary relief as she realized he'd assumed she needed some help tracking down another freed transgenic. "No…" she trailed, trying to think of what more she could say.

"I was just wondering if you knew any other places that they might be hiding out in."

Alec gave her a strange look.

"I mean," she continued, "you were there longer than me. I figured you might have a better idea where they would go. The transgenics."

Alec nodded. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "But I'm working on it."

Max's eyes widened in surprise. "You are?" she asked in disbelief.

"Yeah," he answered. "In between stealing the hearts of women and winning boxing matches!"

Her eyes narrowed at him.

"It's a joke, Max!" he told her, amazed by how uptight she was. It was normal for her to walk around like she had a stick up her butt, but she was even more tense than normal for some reason.

"Loses a lot of the effect if you have to announce it," she blurted at him, again speaking without thinking. He had a way of unnerving her that irked her to no end. That her thoughts somehow slipped beyond her control irritated her, and she blamed him entirely.

He laughed slightly at the remark. "You sure you don't want a drink? You really sound like you could use one!"

"Thank goodness you offered again, Alec! Cuz it's not like I could go to Crash if all I wanted was a drink!" she snapped at him.

"You're in rare form tonight with that pleasant attitude," he commented.

"It's called sarcasm," she replied coldly with a rolling of her eyes.

"Loses a lot of the effect if you have to announce it," he smartly came back at her.

She nodded as her irritation increased. He was using her own words against her. It deepened her desire to show him up that night.

"I guess I should probably get going, then," she told him. "Since you don't know anything."

Alec made a dramatic gesture of her acknowledging his presence. "Oh, well, don't stop whatever you were planning on my account!" he told her, again thrusting her own words in her face. "It's not like you need to announce leaving."

Max frowned before turning to the door. "Fine!" she snapped before taking the opportunity to leave before he got suspicious again.

She made a point to frown as she left, but as soon as the door shut, a smile spread across her face again. Enjoy your drink and relaxing shower, Alec! she thought to herself mischievously. Cuz when tonight's over, you won't have anything more to celebrate!

a/n: So what do you think? I know it's ridiculous, and knowing me, that will only increase! but I'm hoping... in a good way? anyway, just let me know your thoughts, thanks!