Title: Culpability

Pairing: M/A, but revolves around M/L

Rating: M

Setting: After Hello, Goodbye. AU contemporary to Love Among the Runes, and continues into a future where Max stepped up to be 'Savior of the World', where Logan's 'war hero' status brought him back into the Cale fold, and where Alec is thought to have the title of 'President of the United States of America' in the bag.

Disclaimer: Dark Angel and its characters do not belong to me.

AN: Keep in mind that I enjoy angst amidst my romanticism.

Part One:

She woke to the green numbers of an alarm clock that wasn't hers. An arm was wrapped around her waist; warm and heavy and male. It kept her anchored to a body that was also warm and male. She slid quickly from the bed, holding her breath and hoping he wouldn't wake. He didn't, simply murmured and turned on his stomach, and she breathed a little sigh of relief.

The walk from his room to the bathroom felt like forever, and she could feel panic bubbling within her. She should pick up her clothes, she thought. Her tank top had been hanging on the TV antenna she recalled, and her jeans were somewhere behind the couch. From what she could remember, her bra and panties would be unsalvageable. A sob caught in her throat, the clothes didn't matter, he'd seen it all anyway.

She looked into the mirror and stared at her reflection. Her long hair was tangled, her eyelids felt heavy, her brown eyes wide beneath them, and she could see the guilt and distress she was feeling beginning to war with anger.

"You can't blame me for this." His voice was harsh through the phone.

"I won't, I promise." Her voice was pleading, begging. It made a part of her wince, but she needed him so badly.

She pushed the anger away. It wasn't his fault, and she had promised. She knew what it would do to him once she got within smelling distance, but it hadn't stopped her from calling him. If he had said no…She shook her head, ashamed. She would've marched into his apartment anyway and threw herself at him until he gave in. She had wanted him so badly she had thought she'd jump out of her skin if he didn't touch her.

"We can't do this," his voice was desperate through the door, "You don't-"

"Yes," she cut him off, pushing to be let in, "Yes we can. Yes I do." She was practically purring with need.

He'd been so tentative before the pheromones overwhelmed him. His touch had been light, his lips hesitant. Her own lips were still swollen she saw, their redness testimony to the animal passion that had overtaken them both. She remembered the way his pupils had dilated, the black expanding so that only the tiniest ring of green-gold remained, as he locked the door and stalked toward her.

Excitement left her trembling as he approached, so slowly, the look in his eyes predatory. His hand skimmed her ear, tracing her jaw line, tilted her head upward to accept the soft, almost chaste, kiss he bestowed upon her…And then his hand grasped her neck, fingers caressing the barcode, and his mouth was devouring her.

She turned from the mirror, and the action shifted her hair. She stilled, glancing back at the glass and held the dark mass away from her neck. Runes danced up her spine like freshly-inked tattoos leading to her genetic brand, a mark of military ownership. The skin around it was bruised from his mouth, the memory of his teeth made her shiver, and she knew the mark of his possession would never fully fade.

Her back felt hot against his chest and she strained against him, panting, pushing back into his thrusts. He growled and the puff of air across her ear made her moan in response, reaching back to pull him tighter to her…A warning rumble emanated from his chest, and her body vibrated as he grabbed her hands, holding them above her head, and pressing her closer to the wall. He wanted her submission.


His mouth had been warm and wet upon her neck, the bite unexpected, and her body had gone limp with pleasure, pliant to his claim. "Yours," she sighed raggedly, "All yours. Only yours."

Her cheeks burned at the memory. She left the mirror for the temptation of the shower, for the beat of hot, blessedly hot against her now cool skin, water. The bathroom held sanctuary, he had not taken her here, and the water rained purification, she let it wash him off her skin and out of her body.

He was innocent in this. She had been in the wrong to demand it of him, and part of her still wondered at why it had been him, of all people.

Heat raced through her veins. She ignored the looks the males sent her, stalking out of Terminal City, intent on finding him. She'd ignored the beeping of her pager and O.C.'s concerned questions. Instead she grabbed the payphone, punching numbers she hadn't known she knew by heart. His voice had simultaneously soothed and excited her…

"I'm in heat."

The towel was almost threadbare, but the blue was calming and the fabric comforting. She draped it around her body, folding it shut tightly, and went to gather her clothes. Her jeans felt rough against her exposed skin, her shirt clung as the water dripped from her hair, and there was her bra lying on the floor. He hadn't bothered with the clasp, had simply seized and pulled, and she remembered thinking how erotic the sound of tearing satin was and if he'd do the same to her panties. He had.

He was finally in her. She writhed in his lap, clutching his body closer, legs binding him to her. One hand gripped her waist, setting her hips to pace, the other cupped her chin, forcing her to look at him. "Don't you think of him," he ordered fiercely, "Don't you dare think of him."

"No," she gasped, shaking her head in denial, "Only you, I-" His lips cut off her promise.

His eyes had been wide with lust and wonderment and something she shied away from naming when she came apart in his arms. She knew because she had kept her eyes open until she couldn't anymore, determined to watch him watching her, to let him know he was the only man she was thinking of tonight.

Why did it matter? She wondered now, as she poured a bowl of sugary cereal for him and set it on a cluttered table. Why? To him and to her…it shouldn't have. He shouldn't have been the only man in her thoughts. That wasn't how heat worked.

Two glasses of milk. She downed one and left the other by the bowl. He needed orange juice too, something to combat all that sugar he didn't need. She straightened and there he was, watching her, eyes unreadable. He stood in the bedroom doorway and she stayed where she was, a table and an apartment between them. It felt like all the distance in the world and yet not enough space.

His eyes were wary, his shoulders tense and hunched, waiting for the burden of blame and the weight of her accusations. It made her heart hammer with remorse and she frowned at the sudden realization of how much power she had over him.

"Max." His voice had been soft and sleepy.

"Alec." Her voice had been slurred and satisfied and she had drifted off without recognizing the words he spoke.

He was gearing up for a fight. She saw the sparkle start in his eyes and his entire body loosened, a cocky smirk tugged at his mouth as he opened it for a typical smart-aleck remark, but she beat him to the punch.

"Thank you."

He stilled, instantly on guard, unsure of her. "What?" His tone was neutral.

"Thank you," she repeated, smiling gently, "for taking care of me."

He blinked, tongue slipping out to wet his lips. He was still uncertain, but she saw his eyes lighten. "You're welcome."

"I'm gonna blaze, see you at Jam Pony?"

He shook his head, "Weekend off. Crash?"

She nodded and walked toward the door. "Later." He echoed the good-bye and she shut the door behind her, moving quietly down the hallway and out into the daylight.

"I love you, Maxie."