Author's Note: Hey all! I know it's a little late, but this is a response to a V-Day challenge over at Raising Hell and thought I'd post it here as well. Nevertheless, this is a treat, of sorts, to get away from (as well as appease) all my chapter-long fics that I'm trying (yet failing) to post on a more regular basis. And as for some of the music, I'm on an 80s kick. Enjoy!
Music Selections: 'Hey love' by 12 stones, 'Separate ways (world's apart)' by Journey, 'Oh Sherrie' by Steve Perry.
Disclaimer: Dark Angel is not mine, nor will it ever be.
A little goes a long way
"Flowers?" Max said flatly, looking at Alec dubiously.
"Yeah, Max. Every girl deserves flowers for Valentine's Day. And since there's no certain someone in your life right now, I figured I'd step up to the challenge. I'd have brought you one of those hearts with chocolate inside too...but you're not my girlfriend. I ain't gonna spend that much money on you." Alec replied, standing far enough away so that there would be no risk of violence from said female.
Max rolled her eyes at the comment. Looking back at the flowers, she gazed at them speculatively, staring at them with something akin to delight stealing across her features.
"Why daisies?" Max asked, returning her gaze to his.
Alec shrugged. "You just don't strike me as the mainstream type of girl. I thought you'd like something a little different."
"Thank you, Alec." Max said earnestly, a genuine smile gracing her lips.
"You're welcome." Alec replied, smiling back in return.
He saw her fall. He watched from the rafters of the building as the familiars ganged up on Max, cornering her against the short railing that dropped off to the concrete of the factory floor twenty feet down. She'd jumped up onto the railing, attempting to jump up to the pipe above her head and swing out of reach. But she'd misjudged the familiars' speed. One of them caught her ankle as she jumped.
He heard her mutter a curse as she just missed the pipe and started to fall in the opposite direction. Kicking into the railing, she brought the familiar that was holding on to her down with her.
With the familiar still attached to her ankle, all she could do was maneuver him so that she landed on top of him. But she still fell hard. And as luck would have it, the factory encouraged everyone to chuck their beer bottles into a heap at the exact point where they landed.
The familiar had absorbed most of the impact, but one knee landed right in the debris. Detaching herself from the unconscious familiar, she began to limp away as the other two familiars jumped and landed soundly right behind her.
Neither even glanced at their fallen comrade as they came after her.
And Alec took advantage of that. Making sure the rope was properly anchored, he secured the pulley and lowered himself down quickly. Landing right inbetween them, he cut the line and aimed the semi-automatic at one of the familiars.
"Don't blink." he stated as he fired quickly, dispatching the two familiars before anyone else could react.
"Now, Max. I know you don't like firearms, but..." Alec began to explain as he strode forward and shot the unconscious familiar between the eyes, but was cut off when he heard a dull thud behind him. Spinning around quickly, he discovered that Max had fainted.
Tucking the gun away, he checked her vitals and for serious injuries before he picked her up and cradled her against his chest. Carrying her out of the building, he positioned her on the motorcycle in front of him, climbed on, and gunned the engine. He already knew her ninja would be safely hidden until she was able to retrieve it at a later date.
Driving as fast as possible without further injuring Max or himself, he made his way back to his apartment, which was the closer of the two. Parking and shutting off the bike, he retrieved Max and carried her up the steps as she began to regain consciousness.
"Alec?" she grumbled out as he put his key in the lock and opened the door. "What's going on? Where are we?"
"You passed out. I brought you to my place." Alec answered as stepped through the doorway, kicked the door shut behind them, and carried her to the couch.
He would have taken her further and placed her on the bed, but she began to squirm as she became fully conscious.
"Alec. Put me down right this instant." Max commanded, pushing against his chest.
"Alright." Alec replied with a mischievous grin, releasing her.
A look of surprise graced her features as she thought he'd dropped her on the floor until she landed on something soft and lumpy. Then she just looked pissed.
But, he had to admit that that one look had definitely been worth it.
"Now don't move. I'll be right back." Alec said before she could start ranting. Leaving the room, he retrieved the rubbing alcohol, tweezers, band-aids, and a pair of his pajama pants from his bathroom and bedroom.
Returning to the couch, he held the pants out to her.
"Here. Put these on. I won't peek, I promise." he said, winking at her at the end. Turning his back to her, he whistled and rocked on the balls of his feet as he waited for her to change.
She glared at his back, but still wasn't feeling quite right from the numerous blows she'd received from the familiar attack to put up any real fight. So, she pulled off her pants without standing up and pulled the too large pajama pants on. Tying the string and rolling the pants up past her knees, she leaned back into the couch and told Alec there was nothing left to see.
"Now, Max. I know you have a penchant for attracting trouble and stepping headlong into it, but did you really have to antagonize four familiars by yourself without backup? What if I hadn't been there?" Alec chastised as he picked up the tweezers and began to pull the numerous glass shards from her knee.
"First off...ow!" Max yelped and promptly smacked Alec as he yanked the largest, albeit nastiest looking, piece from her knee. "I didn't know there were going to be familiars there, obviously, when I went to scout the place. Second, you were supposed to be busy and...I didn't trust anyone else well enough to take with me. And third...why were you there? You were supposed to be out on a supply run with Biggs and a few other transgenics." Max finished questioningly, her head tilting to one side and eyes narrowing, waiting for an explanation.
"Max, Biggs knows how to pull off a supply run without my help. As did the rest of the crew. It was you that I was worried about. You didn't even tell anyone where you were going. And I didn't like the idea from the start. I knew you'd argue if I tried talking to you, so instead, I tailed you." Alec explained, pulling the last shard from her knee.
Putting the tweezers down, he uncapped the alcohol and poured some onto a paper towel, dabbing it onto the various cuts. When she hissed in pain, he rolled his eyes and leaned down to blow air across it for a few seconds before leaning back and looking up at her.
"Better?" he asked, waiting for her answer before continuing.
Max nodded mutely, surprised that he'd even bothered. Manticore never exactly taught them how to be gentle.
"Now I know that you've realized that love isn't all sunshine and rainbows. It isn't always perfect." Alec stated, inching forward towards her slowly.
"Sometimes, it's the little things that keep a relationship strong and true. And I'm not talking about gifts like jewelry and dozens of roses. It's the actions a man takes for the woman he loves. Like being there for your girl when she had a rough night due to her DNA and standing there behind her watching the sunrise even though you're tired off your ass. It's standing out in the pouring rain for hours, even though you detest the stuff, to make sure the heist that you have no other part in except for having someone you love involved doesn't get hurt. It's standing there in front of you as you rant and rave about something I've screwed up, telling you that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."
At this point, Alec was standing directly in front of Max, his face unguarded as he fought for her love. It was something he thought he would never have to do, something he never thought he'd want to do.
But now that he'd discovered he did, he was going to fight like hell for hers in return.
"Now, Max. I'm not trying to force you into an argument or a decision you don't want to make. I'm just telling you that I could be that man, and more, if you'll have me." Alec finished, bringing his hand up to her face and stroking it gently once, lingering for a moment and then letting go at the end of his statement.
All Max could do was stand there and stare up at Alec silently, indecision and turmoil plainly visible in her eyes. She wasn't ready. He'd told her what he came to tell her. Now all he could do was give her time. It wasn't even close to being enough after what he'd unloaded on her. So, even though it hurt him more than anything he'd ever done in his short existence, he turned and walked away from her, giving her what Logan relentlessly refused to give to her: time and space.
Nine days. It had been nine days, four hours, and twenty-six minutes since Max hadn't said so much as "Hi" to him. Alec had always been fairly confident in nature, but as he sat there at the bar at Crash nursing a scotch, he was beginning to doubt his confessing to Max. He knew he felt something between them, and he thought for sure that perhaps their friendship had evolved into something more. Not due to any help from either one of them. It wasn't as if either one of them had nurtured the notion, but when the epiphany had struck him, he'd thought for certain that Max would have come to a similar revelation by now. And he'd removed any doubt of his feelings for her.
But perhaps it had been too soon. Hell, perhaps anytime would have been too soon. What would happen if they actually got together? For all he knew, the world would stop on its axis and start revolving in the other direction, the sky would turn neon orange, and it would start snowing in August. Some things were just an impossibility.
Suddenly, the music changed and he felt a frigid breeze sweep past him, carrying a familiar scent deep into his nostrils. Max.
Turning around in his seat, he felt his heart speed up at the sight of her. She had yet to notice him, but as she pulled off her coat while descending the steps, she revealed a beautiful red halter top that complimented her dark complexion perfectly. He also noticed that she had a gold halo resting a few inches from the top of her head and she had a tattoo of a heart with an arrow piercing it on her left shoulder.
As he took in the rest of his surroundings, he realized that he was surrounded by paper heart cut-outs dangling from the ceiling, pink and red streamers tacked up on the walls, and various other sentimental love-ridden decorations spread out all throughout the bar.
How had he forgotten that today was Valentine's Day?
"Hey, suga. What're you doing over here all by your lonesome?" a voice asked from behind him some time later.
Turning around, he saw OC leaning against the bar on her elbows, staring at him curiously.
"Didn't want to intrude." he replied simply, turning back to his drink and finishing it off.
"Look, I know what been goin' down with you and my Boo over there. And I respect what you doin' for her. So, I'll give you a little heads up. She dumped Logan. For good this time. Now, I'm not sure what she intends to do with you, but whatever you recently said to her made an impact. She been miserable this past week, trying to figure out what to do. But, I think she's finally chosen a direction. So, just keep doing what you doing." OC said, waiting for the pitcher of beer she'd ordered.
Picking up the pitcher, she began to walk away. Pausing, she looked back over her shoulder and said, "You're welcome to come on over any time you want."
Looking over his shoulder, he smiled slightly and said, "Thanks."
OC nodded curtly and turned back in the direction of her table.
As Alec waited for his next drink to arrive, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. Swiveling around, his eyes widened when he saw Max standing there, her arm extending out a rectangular-shaped red box and an unreadable expression on her face.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Alec." Max said cheerfully, her eyes bright with excitement, if not with a slight bit of mischief. It was the only part of her face that gave away what she was currently feeling.
Accepting the gift, he stared at Max strangely for a few moments before looking back down and opening up the box. Pulling back the tissue paper, he choked on his own saliva when the actual present was revealed.
Looking up at Max with a shocked expression, he quickly glanced around furtively to make sure no one else had seen the tiny lacy black negligee as he replaced the lid.
"Max! What does this..." Alec started to ask until Max cut him off with a shake of her head.
"It means that I chose you. Now, I'm not exactly sure where this is gonna go, but I want to find out. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. But," she paused and leaned in next to his ear. "I can't wait to find out how good the sex will be."
Leaning back, the corner of Max's mouth quirked up at his stunned silence. Touching her fingers lightly in a caress against the hand holding the box, she asked in a mock-petulant tone, "Don't you want to leave and let me try this on?"
The question broke the spell that had fallen over him, snapping him out of a trance. Digging money out of his pocket and throwing it on the counter, Alec grabbed his jacket and pulled her away from the bar.
He started in the direction of the door, but Max called out in a laughing tone, "Alec, my coat." Turning in the direction of the table she'd been sitting at, he quickly made his way over, weaving himself and Max through the crowd.
Reaching the table, Max quickly scooped up her coat. She barely even had time to pull it on, before Alec started for the door. She threw an apologetic wave in OC's direction, but the happiness radiating from her face gave OC all the information she needed.
"Have fun, Boo! And I don't want any of the details." OC called out as Max and Alec disappeared in the crowd.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little V-Day story. And let me know what you think, if something doesn't make sense, or if you catch an error somewhere. WBL.