The First Kiss
by pari106

pari106@hotmail.com
http://www.geocities.com/pari106/damain.html

Disclaimer: None of Dark Angel belongs to me. Rating: PG? Code: M/B

A/N: Hi! This is just kind of a brief glimpse into the relationship between Max and Ben that I established
in my story "Watched Pots". It's not necessary to read that one to read this one. That was the first and
only time I've written Max/Ben and it just kind of stuck with me. So I decided to explore their relationship
a little more, one little piece at a time, as I have time (God knows, I have enough projects to finish as it is.)
Please let me know what you think, but be nice!

The First Kiss
by pari106

It was one of those rare, beautiful days outside. One where the sun was shining a little brighter ant the sky
looked a little more blue. The park was filled with the sounds of birds, and of kids playing, a little ways
away, and of the downtown traffic far in the distance.

And then one more sound joined the others.

The sound of a body hitting asphalt.

"Ow!"

Without looking back, Max continued her lay up, smiling wide as the basketball swished neatly through the
hoop and her feet again touched ground.

Then she turned to her downed opponent, reveling in her victory.

"Yeah!" she exclaimed.

From his spot on the ground, Ben rolled his eyes. But he couldn't deny that his lips were starting to twitch
as he tried not to smile. Max thought she wasn't competitive. Well, he had some bruises in unfortunate
places that would say different.

He slowly pulled his body into a sitting position and raised his hands in defeat, but he didn't rise.

"Okay, okay, so you won," he told her, trying to affect an innocent expression.

"So what?"

Max raised a brow. Then she put her hands on her hips, walking over until her shadow fell across her
brother.

"So what?" she repeated. "Does that medication of yours effect memory loss?" she quipped.

A year ago, she probably wouldn't have dared make such a comment, but she and Ben were more
comfortable together now. They were coming to terms with Ben's past and his recovery. They were
coming to terms with each other.

When Ben first came to Seattle, after the incident with Father Destry, and after Max, Logan, and Sebastian
had helped Ben start therapy, Max hadn't been sure that she wanted anything to do with him. There was no
use in rehashing now who he'd been then – he'd been dangerous, to make an understatement. He'd grown
up with Max as a sibling, and Max had loved him in that way. But she'd also feared him. And after he'd
once convinced her that she had made him see reason, only to turn and go after Father Destry, anyhow,
Max hadn't trusted him.

At first, Max agreed to help him seek treatment for the chemical imbalance that had made him into the
killer that he'd been. That was all she'd agreed to.

It was all she wanted. Max now knew how hard Ben had been trying, from the very beginning, to
overcome his difficulties, but the obstacles to his recovery had once seemed overwhelming. And Ben
hadn't had anyone then to help him with those obstacles emotionally. They weren't ready to bring in a
psychiatrist just then, and Max set him up in a safe, isolated located procured by Sebastian. So Ben had
keepers, doctors. A sister who did her part from a distance. But he hadn't any friends. And in the times
when his guilt and self-hatred were at their peak, he hadn't felt like he'd deserved them.

So he hid all of his pain and fear and endless regret beneath cockiness and defensiveness and disinterest.

It had taken Max's confronting him about his attitude to catalyze the breakthrough Ben had needed.
They'd fought, and he'd broken down. Then she'd spent the next two weeks hardly leaving his side as she
comforted him and helped him regain himself.

Those two weeks changed everything.

That was when helping Ben recover became something more to Max than a simple mission of mercy for
the sake of a family member. That was when Max finally began to believe that maybe, just maybe, Ben
could actually make it through this. That he might actually want to. And that was when Max finally
realized how badly she wanted to be there when he did.

She wanted to be there, and not just for the boy he'd been eleven or so years ago. Not just for a family
member. But for Ben. For the man he'd become, despite the mistakes he'd made and the problems he'd
had.

During those two weeks, Ben had bared his soul to Max. He was a little uncomfortable about it at first. He
hadn't known how she'd react. And he'd never had anyone to confide in before. He didn't know, really,
why he started then. But he couldn't help himself. He'd needed a confidant; he'd never realized how
badly. And once he also realized that Max was willing to accept his confidences, he became more
comfortable speaking.

He became comfortable listening, as well. Because watching Ben open up opened something up inside of
Max, too.

The only other X5, the only other person who might truly understand what it is to be X5, that Max had ever
spent real time with was Zack. And Zack never opened up. Max didn't think he knew how, nor that he
wanted such knowledge. If there really were soft emotions in the world, Zack didn't want to hear about
them from anyone. Including Max.

But there was Ben *wanting* to talk to her. And wanting to listen, apparently. Max couldn't help herself,
either. Those two weeks, she bared a little of her own soul, as well. And it had felt good. It felt good to
have someone to talk to now. And it felt good that she no longer considered herself crazy for wanting that
someone to be Ben. Because during those two weeks, she and Ben had won back that bond that they'd had
as children.

And when it was over – when Ben was finally ready to start seeing a therapist, and Max went back to her
own apartment, and her own job, that bond had lasted. They didn't know what to do with it at first, but it
was there.

And suddenly…Ben was there. And she was there for him. They hadn't ever really talked about it, but
they were just there for one another all of a sudden. They had to be. Ben had regained his humanity, and
Max had regained a part of her past; a part of her family. That was too spectacular to just forget about.

So suddenly they were there for one another. After Ben's first appointment with his shrink, Max was there.
And, sometimes, when Max went on break for lunch at work, Ben was there. They'd eat together or just
talk, even if they'd talked just yesterday.

And then lunch turned into dinner. Or a night at Crash. Or a trip to the movies. One day Ben swore he
was going to get Max to a beach. Fat chance, Max thought, but that was his plan.

And then there were nights when Ben would show up at her window at 2 or 3 a.m., when the ghosts were
really on his back and those skeletons in his closet were particularly loud. He'd just show up and crash,
just to be near someone safe and familiar. Or he'd show up next to her bed, and Max would wake up to see
Ben standing there, crying. So she'd lay there and hold him; sometimes she'd rock him in her arms. And
she'd do what he'd done for her all those years ago at Manticore, on the nights when her seizures would
keep her up, and she was all alone and in pain. He'd entertain her. Or he'd comfort her. Max did the same
now. She'd hold Ben, stroke his hair, comfort him. Or if he wanted, she'd talk. Or listen. And he'd drift
off to sleep in her arms. Sometimes they'd drift off together. Then Ben would return the favor anytime
Max had a bad seizure and Logan wasn't there, which was becoming quite often. And he just always
seemed to know when she was having one. He'd just be there.

They'd come to expect that – to expect each other. The occasional game of basketball became a routine
part of Max's day. Ben loved basketball. With a passion. This was just one of the things Max had learned
about her brother over the last year. He also liked abstract art, so they'd gone to a gallery once. Now that
was quite the fiasco. And they'd seen dozens of professional games. During which, Max learned, the
usually quiet Ben suddenly became embarrassingly vocal about his views of the game. Particularly, about
his views of the referees' calls during the game.

Max had even introduced Ben to all her Jam Pony friends, who he got along with well. Except for Original
Cindy, who'd heard his story before he and Max were friends. Cindy had yet to gain the perspective on
Ben's recovery that Max had.

Which was a fairly popular opinion, Max thought, thinking about Logan. She'd invited Ben over to dinner
at Foggle Towers once, too, but that had gone decidedly bad. Then Max pushed the irritating thoughts
away. She didn't want to think about Logan right now. He was being so difficult these days.

Instead she snapped back to reality. She looked down at Ben, who was still sitting there.

"We had a bet," she reminded him. "You owe me a twenty, buddy, so pay up."

Ben had gotten a job with a taxi service a few months back. It paid like shit (what didn't?) but Max had
little sympathy. The boy should have known better than to bet her on basketball.

"You sure you wanna do that?" Original Cindy had asked that morning, when Ben had come to pick Max
up. She'd overheard their wager, and was in one of those rare moods when she actually felt like talking to
Ben. "My girl got game, you know," she'd cautioned.

Max stuck a hand out now. It wasn't her fault if Ben didn't listen.

But, alas, the situation didn't seem as though it would resolve itself that simply.

Ben was still sitting there, smiling. He crossed his arms and leaned forward.

"Come down here and get it," he challenged. He'd been tricked into that bet. He'd swear on his own
empty grave, waiting patiently back at Manticore.

Max laughed.

"Yeah, right."

Ben just raised an eyebrow. And Max rolled her eyes.

"Oh, come on! Ben, you lost fair and square. So give me my goddamned money already!"

Ben had to stifle a laugh. She was so cute when she was angry. Max just glared down at him, her hands
back on her hips.

Ben leaned back on his elbows and crossed his ankles, getting comfortable.

"You can have it…if you can take it."

Had Max just been thinking how there they were for one another? If her brother didn't stop fooling around
she'd be there, alright. At his funeral.

"This is childish," she insisted.

"No it's not," he insisted back, as though that helped.

"Ben!"

Max sighed and looked around. She shook her head.

"I'm not going to fight you here."

Ben gave her an oh-so-innocent look. "Who said anything about fighting? I just don't want to get up."

He pretended to wince, and rubbed at his hip.

"I think you broke something with that last lay-up," he whined.

Uh-huh. Ben could get hit by a car and *that* probably wouldn't break anything.

'I'll show him broken bones,' Max thought.

"Okay…just don't forget I warned you," she said.

Then she made a lunge for him. Ben parried. The next thing she knew, Max was lying flat on her back on
the asphalt, and Ben was lying beside her, on his side, head propped up on one hand, shaking his head.

He made a little tsk-tsk noise. And Max looked around her, incredulous. No one had seen. Good, then no
one would see Ben die. She was furious!

"Is that the best you can do, Maxie?" Ben teased, his eyes laughing.

Somehow, seeing Ben's eyes up this close, seeing him smiling, deflated Max just a bit. But whatever the
reason for the peculiar sensation, she couldn't let it stand in the way of revenge, could she?

"You a…" she began the heated curse, but she never got to finish it.

Because suddenly Ben leaned over and did something Max would never have expected.

He kissed her.
























A/N: What do you think? I might cover the aftermath of the kiss in another story. Please review!