A Berrisford Goodbye
Max and Alec have a talk post the Berrisford Agenda.
Max got to say goodbye to her pain for Ben with the comfort of Alec surrounding her. What if she'd done the same for him following the pain of Rachel?
This is what should have happened at the end of The Berrisford Agenda. Max reaches out to Alec.
setting: right after the Berrisford Agenda. But the final scene, with Max and Logan, and then Alec and Max at Jam Pony, never took place
a/n: the chapter titles are songs that I thought were appropriate for the mood.
Chapter 1: The One I Love
The One I Love by the Rasmus
Haven't slept in a week
My bed has become my coffin
Cannot breathe, cannot speak
My head's like a bomb, still waiting
Take my heart and take my soul
I don't need them anymore
The one I love
Is striking me down on my knees
The one I love
Drowning me in my dreams
The one I love
Over and over again
Dragging me under
Alec slumped onto his crappy bed in his crappy apartment feeling nothing but his crappy guilt. Part of him actually wanted a session of Psy-Ops right now. It could serve as some sort of punishment, take the guilt off of him for a moment. Maybe even erase the horrible memory of responsibility.
But a distant voice in the back of his mind, the light burning in the dark corners of his heart, told him he had to remember. So that she would live on, if only in his tortured mind. Her innocence and gift wouldn't be forgotten; it wasn't all for nothing.
No more tears would be spilled, though it would have been great to just let it all out. That was the problem, though. There was no way he could just let it go- cry out some tears and leave his pain to water the earth and leave him forever. It didn't work that way. Not especially when you are a transgenic with all things enhanced, including his vivid mind, leaving him with such lively memories of his darkest hour, so that he could relive it over and over.
"I love you."
How could such lovely words hurt so much?
When the words had escaped her lips, he hadn't known what to think. His heart had felt lighter than he thought possible. And yet… it was all a lie. She didn't love him. She loved Simon Lehane, a man that didn't even exist. And never would.
Even though he knew it wasn't really meant for him, Alec was touched by her heart's confession. And although he'd never admit it to any of the guys at work, he knew that just hearing that phrase meant for him would have been enough to fill him with happiness for as long as he lived.
Too bad he would never live to see the day where someone said that to 494, the Manticore assassin.
Who would love a genetically engineered killing machine? he thought to himself miserably. Who could possibly love a man who's done the things that I have?
Hewas disgusted with himself.
I didn't deserve her. Rachel was too good for him. He'd been a poison to her life.
His memory was back. Every single blessed piece of it, for what torturous self-guilt it was worth. Psy-Ops had done a good job of hiding it from him for two years. But it had finally come back in full. He was well aware of every horrible detail to the Berrisford mission.
And now I have to live with myself, he thought disgustedly.
He closed his eyes to the world, hoping that he would at least find some peace from his guilt in his sleep.
A quiet knocking on the door interrupted Alec's plan of being dead to the world for the evening.
His eyelids flipped open with irritation before he reluctantly prodded to the door.
His head was low as he opened it. Although he was hit with surprise to find who was standing in his doorway, he didn't express it at all. No smirking or smart-ass replies tonight. He didn't have it in him.
Not to mention, she was frankly the last person he wanted to see right now. Heck, he'd even take Logan at the moment. Anyone but her. She was probably going to bitch him out for something stupid, like always, and he really wasn't in the mood.
"Alec," she said softly to him.
"I told you to leave me alone," he told her, his voice void of emotion and his stare empty. It was the 3rd time he'd made the request for her to keep away from him that night. Couldn't she just listen for once? He rolled with her punches every day. But not this time. She'd have to find someone else to beat on. 'Cuz right now, all he was interested in was taking a much needed break from it all.
Alec turned his back to her but didn't shut the door. He plopped onto one of his barstools and let out an irritated sigh, sounding close to a protesting growl. This better be quick, he thought to himself. He couldn't put up with Max tonight on top of everything else.
He didn't look up, but the sound of his door shutting followed by her quiet footsteps coming into the kitchen told him that she hadn't listened… again.
"Alec," she repeated as she sat next to him.
Alec rolled his eyes in annoyance. Normally, he couldn't get her to give him the time of day. Now when he actually wanted her to leave him be, she wouldn't go away.
"I wonder…" he said aloud before finally turning his face toward hers. "…If I begged, would you listen to me? Or do I have to my own informant net and alter-ego to get you to give a damn about my wishes?"
"Don't change the subject to Logan," she shot back at him, her voice finally letting on some of her usual regard for him- irritation and fury.
"I'm sorry," he replied with cold sarcasm, "I didn't realize that we had a subject to stray from. Now that I think of it…I said 'leave me alone' and… you… followed me into the kitchen."
Max folded her arms at him. "I could slap you," she told him, the look in her eyes indicating that she really wanted to.
"So what's holding you back?" he asked her. "You've never hesitated before."
"Quit it!" she demanded.
"I asked you first," he responded. He then turned to his cupboard. Another drink wouldn't hurt. Dealing with Max practically demanded one. And maybe it would actually affect him this time, seeing as he'd already had quite a few.
"I'm not going to let you change the subject again, Alec," she insisted.
Alec rolled his eyes. Fine! he thought to himself. "Suit yourself, Maxie. But I hope it doesn't bother you for me to have a drink in my own apartment. Wouldn't want to go against whatever your plan for me is tonight, but I could really use one."
"You don't think you've had enough already?" she questioned him with that judgmental look of hers.
Her typical disapproval of his decisions sealed it. He definitely needed a drink. With a simple smirk as his only reply, he ignored her concerns and pulled out a bottle of his usual- scotch, as well as two glasses.
"Well, at least you have the decency to share," Max commented.
Funny. He was expecting an answer with less appreciation and far more irritation. Alec shrugged before filling both glasses. "Hey, I was trained in these things. I learned my manners while preparing for one of my first missions. Apparently, a little politeness and a pretty face will fool people into thinking you're actually a decent guy."
"You didn't fool me," she argued his comment.
Alec laughed lightly. Gah! Leave it to Max to piss on a guy when he's down. Nothing like salt in the wound from Manticore's finest. "Of course not!" he told her while grasping onto his glass. "You had me figured out from day one, didn't ya, Maxie?"
Instead of answering his comment, she changed the subject. "Look, I didn't come here to discuss first impressions."
Alec wasn't the least bit surprised that she took the safe, and typical Max route, of changing the subject. But he did find some surprise in her statement. He was hoping to spur enough anger to royally piss her off. He figured if she got worked up enough, maybe she'd finally take the hint and go away.
But instead, she shrugged, her voice soft as she continued. "But hey, you're right. I think we both could use a drink first."
Another surprise, and this one a double-whammy. Max wanting to share a drink with him. And if that weren't enough, she had just told him he was right. In Max's world, Alec was always wrong. And normally, she didn't even want to share the same city with him. If he were in any better spirits, he'd surely use her actions tonight against her. At least he could always hold onto them for later when he was feeling more himself.
"What are you doing here, Max?" he asked, suddenly serious. His voice was just as low as his mood, and as he finished the question, he downed the double-shot all at once. Alec was almost grateful for the burn that traveled down his throat as the amber liquid flew down his pipes. The pained sensation followed by the numbing feeling as he inhaled told him that he still had some feeling left in him.
Max didn't answer right away, and instead took her own glass down in one swift movement.
At her silence, he continued. "And what made you knock as opposed to breaking in for once? Because it's pretty clear that you're not here to ask if I mind your company."
"Maybe… I just wanted to talk to you," she told him. "Is that so hard to believe?"
Alec almost laughed. "Yeah," he answered simply before downing another glass.
"I know that I'm not always easy on you," she began.
"That's an understatement," he interrupted her. "Boy, you're full of those tonight, aren't you?"
"Well maybe I'm not the only one," she challenged him, her voice a bit stronger and more to her usual spirit.
Alec frowned as he considered the statement. The woman was right. He was taking out some of his frustration on her. But hey, if she'd just listened to him and stayed the hell away, he could have dealt with this all on his own, bottled it up nice and carefully, and been back to being a chauvinistic smart-ass for the next time she saw him.
That was what she wanted, right? Her Pretty Boy, self-serving, Manticore screw-up. The one she could blame when everything was wrong with her own life.
"If I answer whatever you're wanting to know, will you leave?" he asked her coldly.
"For the record, Alec, I did leave you alone when you asked me to," she defended herself against his accusations.
"Oh… is that why you popped out of nowhere in that house? Because you were so busy leaving me alone? 'Cuz I coulda sworn that you followed me there and had to butt in."
As he sensed her arm about to thrust forward, he couldn't help smirking sarcastically. Here it was, she was going to slap him, spit some insult at him, and storm off in the usual Max-like fashion; and he'd be rid of her until when he was ready to face the world again.
But instead, her hand reached out to grab the bottle just in front of him, and she poured herself another glass.
"Okay," she said out loud. "That one was my bad. You get a freebie. I got distracted. I won't let it happen again."
"What are you talking about?" Alec snapped at her.
"That was your free jab at me. I hope you enjoyed it, 'cuz I'm not here to be your punching bag."
"Riiight…" he replied. "'Cuz that job's reserved for me, right?"
"You're welcome, by the way," she told him, her eyes narrowing in a glare.
"For what? Ruining my night just when I thought I was finally free from you?"
"For saving your ass… again."
"Is this what you wanted to talk about?" he asked her, letting out a laugh. "Fine. I guess I'm up for a rant from you. Even if I wasn't, it's not like I could beg you to shut up. I already tried that."
"Shut up!" she snapped at him.
He clicked his tongue to his teeth, making a 'tsk tsk' sound. "And here I thought you wanted to talk."
"It must be real easy for you," she told him. "Spouting all your smart-ass bullshit, all behind your smart-ass grin."
"Oh yeah. Life's a cake, Max."
"…While some of us," she continued as though he hadn't spoken, "actually try to do something about the shit we've been dealt."
Alec groaned, and didn't bother to keep it inward. Finally, she'd told him enough to discover her true purpose in being there – he had a front row seat to one of those rare Max lectures about kindness, morality, and the meaning of life.
"Did it ever occur to you, Max," he replied to her, "that I really don't care?"
"Yeah," she admitted to him, more easily than he'd anticipated. "Quite a few times, now that you mention it. The fact that you couldn't care less about anything other than yourself has crossed my mind, on average… a hundred times a day."
Alec shook his head amusingly before pouring another glass. "Like that's a surprise," he remarked. She made no attempt to keep it a secret, her disapproval of his every action or even existence.
Part of him couldn't believe that she was goading him. He wanted just what he'd said- nothing, to be left alone. But her presence called for his usual comments, even if they were colder than normal.
Of course, he couldn't help that she was especially annoying tonight. The whole day had been a complete nightmare for him. Being assaulted with horrifying memories of the worst experience of his life. And finding out the truth of what happened to his first and only love – all of it, his fault.
And here Max was, coming into his apartment, turning his attentions and focus onto her. She couldn't possibly understand what he was going through.
It didn't matter that she understood Manticore, at least part of it. Like he'd told her earlier, she had taken off at the young age of 9. And at least her first love was still alive and doing fine. Sure, there was always that chance that she could hold the responsibility for killing him, but she actually had a choice. And for the time being, the man was safe and sound. And in some twisted way, she'd managed to still hold onto a relationship with him, which was completely beyond Alec. They couldn't even hold hands, but somehow they were holding on just fine to their relationship.
"What else am I supposed to think, Alec?" Max defended herself. "I don't have to point out how many times you've screwed up."
"But you do, Max! Don't you get that?" he admitted his frustrations to her. Fine, why not tell her the truth? He'd completely fucked up already with the only other girl that had been a part of life. Why not add Max to the list? And hell, after that, he could go for a hat trick with Cindy just for kicks.
"Somebody's gotta keep you on your toes," she continued to try and justify her regard toward him.
"Oh, am I supposed to thank you?" he asked sarcastically.
Max shrugged. "Like I said, I saved your ass again."
"I didn't ask you to," he dismissed the responsibility.
"No," she admitted. "But you didn't have to. I've got your back."
Alec almost laughed. If Max having his back meant also having his head in a lock and his every action under constant scrutiny, he'd rather take his chances alone.
"I think you know that I've had a hell of a day, Max," he tried one more time to get her to see things from his prospective. "And I really just want to be left alone."
When his response was only the refilling of her glass, he continued. "I'm really tired, Max. See, it's great that you have all that shark DNA swimming around in there, but I actually need sleep. Desperately. And now."
"I'm sick of your excuses, Alec," she finally said to him. "You wouldn't leave me alone when I practically begged you," she pointed out before downing the glass. She then shrugged before finishing, "I'm just returning the favor."
Alec laughed at her selective memory. "Was it begging? That whole 'stay the hell out of my life' bit?"
Max shrugged nonchalantly. "What does it matter how I sent the point home? Obviously, you didn't give a rat's ass. Why'd you do it anyway, Alec?"
Alec was finding it more and more difficult to remain civil with each passing second. There was only so much irritation he could handle in one night. What he wanted was to punch his fist through the wall. But instead, she was asking him to do a little self-reflection- now. Like he wasn't already beating himself up over Rachel.
"It must have been the sunshine that comes with every glare you give me. Or maybe those treasured conversations where you tell me what an asshole I am."
"You are an asshole," she defended her comments. "And once again, ya failed to answer the question."
"I'm not the only one!" Alec shot back at her. "Tell me again why you're here? I must have missed it the first time."
Max narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm here because I wanted to talk. Like I said."
"No, you wanted me to talk," he corrected her. "And not about what I want to talk about- 'cuz that's easy- nothing."
"It's just something that's been bugging me lately," she tried to explain.
"Can't the world wait to revolve around you until tomorrow?" he complained.
"Why'd you stick around?" she prodded him again, ignoring the protest.
Alec couldn't believe the nerve she had! "I really didn't think about it, Max," he told her honestly. "But I'm suddenly wishing I had."
As he finished the comment, he noted something unfamiliar, at least previously, shining in her eyes. She'd never looked at him like that before… It served to calm him somewhat for a moment, as he focused on figuring out what her stare meant as opposed to the pain he was in.
"I thought I saw something today," she confessed to him, her voice open and vulnerable.
Alec tried to quit taking out his frustration on her. He took a moment to gather himself with a final sigh, and when he turned to face her again, his face was calm, a Manticore mask firmly in place. "Can we please just talk about this tomorrow, Max? This day's just been too long."
Instead of returning his calm demeanor, the comment seemed to elicit more of her fury. "Explain to me again why today sucked," she demanded, hoping to encourage some openness.
The gravesite burned into Alec's mind for a split second, the image and the memories it sparked sending a sharp pain to his heart, until he shook his thoughts away with another shot of the scotch.
"Well, for starters, you're here," he said rudely, deliberately keeping the subject as far away from Rachel as possible. Not to mention, it was an easy opportunity to upset her more. Maybe she'd finally get irked enough to back off.
Max glared at him, as predicted, but unfortunately, didn't leave, as hoped.
"Max, what do you want from me?" he asked more seriously. "I've never felt more worthless in my entire life. Is that what you want to hear?" He turned away from her coldly. Damnit, Max! A burning feeling flooded his mind, threatening to spill out in the form of tears.
Alec focused to keep it together. He refused to cry in front of her. Rachel was gone. She wasn't here. This was just Max. The same Max who insulted him right and left and didn't give a damn about him.
His mind was being traitorous again, filling with images of his shattered heart. Her long brown hair as he held her in his arms. Her blinding smile as she found happiness in being near him. The look of desire coming from her beautiful brown eyes as they poured into his. The innocent taste of her soft lips against his.
The warm feeling coming from Max's hand as she rested it on his shoulder brought his focus and attention back to his apartment and the moment in front of him. Max was here, in his kitchen, sharing a drink with him.
Why was he so angry with her?
Alec finally took in the full sight of her, resting so comfortably on the barstool beside his. One elbow propped on the counter just beside her now empty glass; one arm reaching out to him, offering comfort.
As his hazel eyes met hers, relief came over him. He wasn't staring into the eyes of someone with pity. She didn't regard him as helpless- or worthless. The stare that met his brought surprise again to him. The brown orbs held understanding- or at least, the desire to.
She'd never ask him out loud. He wasn't sure if he could accept it if she did. But her eyes were almost pleading him, calling him to let her in.
"Tell me about her," she asked him.
a/n: so what do ya all think? I know, this is a bit more angst than I normally put out. Not to mention, it's Alec angst. But I'm shooting for a lighter ending.
ps, anyone waiting for my other stuff, I'm working on it! I promise... I know, bip bip!