Title: Scars

Author: Shay (jracklesfan77)

Show: DA; Pairing: M/A

Genre: Angst

Rating: PG/PG13; Warnings: Sensitive, mature content.

Type: Standalone, Complete; Written: 03/10/09

AN: My muse offered up something new. Go with it J Comments always welcome – they feed my muse to offer other wonderful things…

Summary: Scars remind us that the past was real.

Scars
by Shay

Alec absentmindedly slapped the steel switchblade open and shut agains his thigh as he contemplated the words he'd just read out of one of 'Father's' old books.

Scars remind us that the past was real.

Scars.

He'd heard the Ordinary soldiers swap stories and compare scars. Blemishes, gouges, cuts, ghastly knitted skin that documented failures and accomplishments throughout their service in the armed forces. Funny how regardless of the clouded, faraway gazes upon recounting their experiences they always looked proud; proud to be serving their country, protecting their fellow man. Even those of them who'd had to kill in the line of duty, they still retained that sense of pride in themselves, guilt or no guilt.

How he wished he could say the same.

He might not have any physical markings to show what he'd been through - though he had more than enough psychological ones to make up for it - but he found that he had absolutely no pride to speak of. What pride could he have, knowing what he knew now? That the very things he thought were done in service of his country were in reality just the machinations of the Committee's sick minds and warped views? That each life he had taken, each mission he'd completed with precision and skill had been for the wrong reasons, the wrong people? Where he once prided himself in a job well done, he now only held loathing for his handlers. his superiors, Manticore...but above all, for himself.

Alec opened the blade again with an audible click and stared at it in silent contemplation. Pressing the knife to his skin, he considered the depth and calculated the healing times. He did not intend to kill himself but he wanted a visible reminder of his pain. Something, anything other than the vague yet constant pangs he felt in his heart whenever he remembered his past. His first incision was shallow, a long thin line on the underside of his left arm.

He carried scars unlike Ordinary servicemen. The other men saw blank gazes and smelled the phantom scent of death and decay when reliving their nightmares or recalling the strangers who'd died at their hands. He remembered solo missions and saw laughing eyes that turned frightened and horrified, looks of betrayal on the faces of fellow soldiers his superiors had considered 'threats' or who'd been compromised and were deemed 'expendable'. He recalled the faces of terrified men and women, unarmed and unprepared for death.

Soldiers go into war knowing they may kill or be killed. Yeah, the occasional civilians get caught in the crossfire, but it's not normally planned that way. In his case, however, his entire career was spent tracking down specific individuals, sometimes groups, and almost always non-combatants.

Solo missions? He'd once believed his job description to be 'solo operative, deep cover'. He'd told Max that, once upon a time, and she'd thrown it back in his face with a contempt he'd rarely seen before.

"You mean assassinations."

The blade sliced into his skin a second time, much like the memory of her words and the truth he now realized they held.

He'd dismissed her attitude as that of a traitor who abhorred everything Manticore represented...and because she'd been caught. Little had he known how right she was, how wrong he'd been, how much damage was perpetrated by his own hands while he remained blind to the truth.

"They're using you."

"No one's using me."

He was the best in his field. Using him? The very idea haf been ludicrous and her views were a joke not to be taken seriously. And he hadn't; not until the very people he'd looked to for guidance and orders tried to fry his fellow soldiers' asses to avoid exposing their true nature. Now, that was an eye-opening experience.

He made a third cut lower down and watched the blood flow past his wrist and into his palm, pooling there in warm, sticky red.

There was so much blood on his conscience; so many lives, so many deaths.

So pointless!

He rose from the couch and walked to the sink, quickly turning on the taps and washing away the evidence of his moment of weakness. Max would freak if she knew he'd sunk into that pit of regret again. She said she'd forgiven him and that it was time to forgive himself. That he'd made amends as best he could. He wished he could do that - purge the memories and the deep-seated emotional scars he carried at all times. Instead, he swept it under the rug for another day.

Because despite all his mistakes, Max had chosen him. That fiery, feisty, hard-headed brunette with eyes that flashed both fire and ice. The only woman who made his blood boil with passion and his body burn with lust and longing was now his. God knew he didn't feel he deserved it, deserved her, but she was his and he would do right by her if it killed him.

Alec dried himself off, the cuts already closing until only thin, pink lines remained, and returned to his place on the couch.

Max entered the room silently and took note of her sleeping mate, book bent on the floor, body hanging half-off the battered couch and his chest rising and falling rhythmically.

She smiled before glancing around and then frowned upon seeing the slight pink tinge to the kitchen towel near the sink.

She sighed. Alec had been at it again, waiting as usual for privacy to release the demons of his past so he wouldn't forget. She knew he had reasons to remember and she respected his need for a tangible, visible reminder. She just wished he could find something to hold on to in the present so that he could look forward rather than back.

Creeping to his side, Max lifted the faded blanket off the back of the couch and draped it softly over his slumbering form.

Tomorrow, she thought with a hopeful smile, maybe he'll find that something. She headed off to bed casting a last, loving glance at Alec.

Tomorrow I'll tell him he's gonna be daddy.

- Fin -