A Little Birdie Told Me
Disclaimer : I don't own Dark Angel. I'm pretty sure I'd have taken better care of Alec if I did.
I know I've shouted it from the rooftops, but for those of you I haven't told, my first novel is up at Amazon(dot)com. It's called Stone Pillow and if you like my style, I'd love for you to take a look. It's an adventure and a romance, spunky heroine and wounded hero included, of course.
But to more important matters. Max and Alec! I've had Alec knowing he liked Max first in the other stories and I thought just for a lark, I'd change that around. 'Cause I was watching Freak Nation and I'd forgotten just how much that episode ticks me off… Speaking from an Alec-lovin' point of view, of course… With the hand holding on top of Alec getting his butt handed to him and then LOGAN saving him (snort- yeah, right), I just get a wee bit annoyed…
Summary: Supply runs keep going wrong and Max needs to figure out why… MA.
Sometimes the truth was just ugly. Max knew that more than most people. And the truth was that she needed Alec.
Max needed him and, at the moment, she didn't like it one little bit. She didn't like having to rely on anybody but herself. Running their little transgenic haven, however, required more time than she had in a day. It also took more diplomatic skill than she was even capable of. And that was where Alec came in. Others instinctively fell in line when he asked them to do things and if they didn't, he somehow managed to talk them into it anyway. As a result, Alec was in charge of supplies, among other things. He was just better at it than she was. He was easier to get along with, was a smoother talker, and he drove a hard bargain. She needed him for business to run smoothly.
The problem was that it wasn't just business anymore. The realization had been slowly creeping up on her, try as she might to ignore it, but she couldn't ignore it, not now that Alec was in trouble.
Two days ago, Alec and his team had been cut off while out on a supply run. She hadn't been able to breathe until they'd finally managed to radio that they were having to hole up for a bit before they could risk going back out. Alec had been all military efficiency on the radio and she'd wanted to reach through the equipment and strangle him for scaring her so badly.
That was two days ago. For two days she'd been on edge, prowling around command until everyone was avoiding even making eye contact, let alone getting in her path. She'd felt incomplete, indecisive without him at her side to discuss things, a feeling she was really unaccustomed to.
"Max, maybe you should sit down," Logan said.
"What?" She was pacing behind her desk, half-listening as Logan went over the conversation he'd had with the city council members about setting up another meet.
Logan sighed. "Max, please. I'm getting a crick in my neck from trying to talk to you."
"Sorry." Max grimaced. "What were you saying?" She sat down in her chair, unable to stop when she immediately started bouncing her leg up and down. She just couldn't sit still. Alec had asked for radio silence and they hadn't heard anything in two whole freaking days.
"Are you all right?" he asked carefully.
"I'm fine," she answered tightly.
"You and Alec are… ok?" He shifted awkwardly in his chair, still uncomfortable with the idea of Alec being her boyfriend.
"We're fine," Max said automatically. After a couple of unfortunate incidents, Alec had been willing to maintain the pretense of a relationship to keep Logan at bay. Max got the feeling Alec enjoyed it a little too much. Whenever she slipped up, he got to hold it over her for a day or two. As a bonus he got to glare at Logan again and reassert his status as the Alpha male. They were pretty helpless and locked in these days, and Alec, no doubt appreciated the opportunity for a little control. Plus he just liked jerking Logan's chain. Always had.
"Where is good old Alec, anyway?" Logan asked, looking like he'd just swallowed something particularly foul tasting.
"His team got in some trouble. They couldn't get back right away," Max said, unable to stop the frown that appeared. She got back to her feet and started pacing again. "What were you saying?"
"I'll deal with the council members," he said with a sigh, giving up on keeping her attention with that conversation, for which Max was grateful. "White's been seen here and here." He pointed to a couple of places on the map spread across Max's desk. "I'm not sure what he's after, but I'm watching him. As soon as I have an idea, I'll let you know."
"And you couldn't tell me this on the phone?" Max asked. Her own people had already told her about the White sightings. They were far more motivated to keep tabs on the guy than Logan was. "You know it's dangerous for you to be here."
Logan sat back, his expression wounded. "I just haven't had a chance to see you much lately. I thought maybe…"
The door to the office flew open and Mole stuck his head inside. "They're coming in. They've got one wounded."
Max was around the desk and out the door before Logan had even started to get up. She hurried to stand beside the others who were gathered around the radio equipment and video monitors. "Who's hurt?"
"Don't know," Mole said, his cigar chewing more pronounced than usual. He'd been almost as uptight as her for the past two days. Alec was the one who kept him in cigars, after all. No Alec, no more Cubans.
"They're already past the checkpoint," Dix answered.
"Any time now. They were headed for medical first."
Max nodded and began to tap her foot impatiently. She felt more than saw Logan come out of the office to stand with them. She was attuned to his physical presence, if for no other reason than if she ran into him she'd kill him. It was a great motivator to know where he was at all times.
Giving up on the radio, Max moved down the steps to the ground floor where a large group was now gathered waiting to see what was going on. The team had been gone for too long and more than Max had been worried. They made space for her, the same vibes she'd been giving off for the past two days once again making sure that she had room to pace. If Alec was hurt, she was going to kill him.
Finally, Max heard a flurry of movement and she turned to look. Like a wave the people in front of her parted and Alec appeared in the doorway. He was dirty and exhausted, but he looked whole. She saw him glance up and notice that Logan was standing on the platform above. Alec smirked, a bare twitch of his lips, and strode toward her. He wrapped one arm around her waist and pulled her tight against him. With his free hand, he threaded his fingers through her hair, pushing it back so that he could place a kiss on her cheek.
When Alec drew back, he didn't bother to look up. They both knew Logan was still watching.
"You'd better do more than that, pretty boy," Mole grunted. "She's been biting people's heads off since you went radio silent. We'd all appreciate it if you'd… loosen her up."
Max shot Mole a look that promised long hours of sentry duty. Alec's smirk, however, turned into a full grin.
"Been worrying about me?" he asked casually, amusement and something else she couldn't quite place dancing in his eyes.
"You wanna explain what happened out there?" Max snapped rather than answer. "We needed those supplies two days before you went on that run."
Alec's grin faded and he scratched a hand through his hair, stepping back from her and sighing. "The sector police nearly had us. We managed to get away and then of all things they set up their temporary command post on the ground floor of the building we were hiding in. We had to wait for them to clear out before we could run."
"Blink caught a stray round. He should be all right in a few," Alec answered.
"And the supplies?"
"Had to leave them." Alec pulled his phone from his pocket. "And before you yell at me, I already made a couple of calls. Someone who owes me a favor is gonna bring the stuff to the tunnel entrances on the south side. I'll get a team to meet him there and bring it all in."
Alec moved away, already speaking into his phone. Max noticed he was limping and wondered what else he wasn't telling her.
Logan appeared at her side and Max felt a hint of irritation, though she quickly did her best to tamp it down. Logan was a good man and he was doing his best to help them. She couldn't deny she still had feelings for him either. The physical distance still remained, however, and the longer it went on the more aware she was of their other differences. Eyes Only was still fighting injustice in all its shapes and forms. She and Alec were fighting just to stay alive. She didn't have time for philosophy or worrying about lost love when there were babies who needed formula and supply teams pinned down by the sector police.
"I'll let you know if there's another White sighting," Logan said, sensing her withdrawal.
"Thanks. He's up to something. We just have to figure out what it is before he springs it on us."
"Before who springs what?" Alec asked as he walked back to them.
He wrapped his arm around Max's waist. She had a tiny moment of hesitation at him touching her while Logan was looking on, then she leaned into Alec, fitting him naturally as if they were made for each other. Max had been more worried than she wanted to admit and now Alec was standing beside her, safe and mostly sound. She felt like she'd been holding her breath for too long, felt a little light-headed with relief, but Alec's arm around her was an anchor, reminding her that everything was all right now. Except it wasn't all right. Not really. As much as she might like Alec's warm, protective arm around her to be something more, it was just an act for Logan's benefit and for those watching them.
Standing between the two men in her life, Max had never felt so alone.
How had it come to this?
Just a teaser… More soon…