Hi. So I know it has been awhile. Like two years? I'll just say life got in the way but I never forgot about finishing these up. I actually had a completely different idea for this one…but when I sat down to work on "Promise" and polish it up for posting I found I wanted that story to be something else. So, a little discussion with the muse and this is the end result. I do not own Dark Angel—no profit is being made. As always, I would happily take Alec.
"I'll never understand it Cindy."
"Hmmm?" OC glances at her, in the process of stuffing her Jam Pony bag for the last run of the day.
"Normal. Why he can't see through Alec's bullshit." Max scowls and throws her shoulders back into her own locker. "I mean, look at him!" She gestures at their boss fawning over the thorn in her side.
OC humors her and leans back a little to peer around Max's skulking figure to see Alec smiling charmingly at Normal. "Seems fine to me."
"What do you mean fine?"
"It means," Cindy huffs a big sigh before turning to face her- "that whether or not Normal chooses to be suckered into Hot Boy's charms is no business of yours."
Max snorts. "Charms, what charms? And what do you mean it isn't my business?"
"It means that the boy could charm the spots off a leopard and it ain't your business what Normal thinks of that." OC placed her bag across her body and turns to leave. "Besides Max, Alec ain't half bad. If he wasn't you wouldn't let him be here."
Max's mouth drops open. "What? No, that idiot won't leave! That's why he's still here. I don't have anything to do with it!" Max shouts at her best friend's back.
"Mmmmhmmmm. Sure thing, Boo."
Cindy sashays toward the exit, hooking her arm through Alec's. "Come on Pretty Boy; accompany OC outside like a gentleman." Alec blinks at her, opening his mouth to protest when he notices Max's nuclear expression.
"Alright, OC. Whatever my lovely lady wants." Alec pivots on his toes to more securely tuck her hand in his elbow. He flashes her a cheeky smile that causes OC to roll her eyes in response.
Max starts stomping after them not quite done with their conversation, thank you very much when Normal pulls his gaze away from Alec's retreating back long enough to notice her.
"You! Missy-Miss! Hot run Sector 8!" He tosses a package at her that she reflexively catches.
"Why didn't you give it to Alec? He was just here!" Max sputters.
"He is doing his gentlemanly duty and—"
"As if! He just got out of the last run of the day!"
Normal's cheeks pinken and he shakes a finger at her. "No, he'll be right back. You however are here and we have customer's waiting so bip!"
"I can't believe you fell for whatever line of BS he fed you –"Max can feel her own face heating up to match Normal's.
"Alec isn't feeding me anything. Just because he has the potential, the promise, to be something more with his life doesn't mean that you should stomp all over it!"
"Ha! Alec? Potential? Are you crazy?"
"Golden boy understands a growing enterprise when he sees one, which is more than I can say for you."
"You two deserve each other!"
Normal continues to sputter before spitting out "I believe I said hot run, Missy. That means you should be burning rubber!" He spins and stomps back over to the dispatch desk.
"Whatever." Max mumbles irritatingly and strides for the exit ramp.
Max has mostly calmed down by the time she makes her delivery. Her mood marginally improved because the last delivery tipped her. She decides to stop by to see Joshua on her way home. Big Fella's house is on her way back to her apartment and Max finds she wants to spend some time in his comforting presence.
She brakes suddenly at the end of his block and mutters an annoyed "You've got to be kidding me!" at the sight of Alec's bright green motorcycle sitting out front. Before she can decide if she'll head in to confront Alec or not he takes the decision away from her by vaulting over the porch and into her view.
"Thanks Big Guy! I owe you one!" Alec calls out walking backwards and waving towards the boarded windows.
"Idiot!" She mutters. He's probably suckered Josh into one of his scams and Max's irritation is back into full force. She's pressing her feet into the pedals, ready to shoot down the block and intercept Alec when he hops, literally hops over to his bike. She doesn't know why he's always so damn cheerful.
"Later Maxie!" He calls giving her a devious mock salute before kicking his bike into gear and tearing off into the growing darkness.
"Damnit." She growls then shouts after him. "Don't call me Maxie!" She flies down the rest of the block and hoists her bike onto her shoulder to carry it up to the porch. She's annoyed yes, but not stupid enough to leave it outside in this neighborhood.
"Joshua!" Max calls as she pushes through the front door. "Where are ya, big guy?"
"Little Fella!" Joshua happily barks. "You come for dinner? I have little, little hot dogs!"
"Hey Josh." She wheezes out as Joshua picks her up for a big hug. "What did Alec want?"
"To ask Joshua for a favor."
"I thought we talked about not doing Alec anymore favors after the last time."
Joshua shakes his big shaggy head at her. "No, not going outside. Alec ask Joshua to do something for him, later if he needs favor."
"I told him to leave you out of his scams! I'm gonna bust his head in!" Max spins to leave and find Alec, he's probably headed for Crash and—
"No, Alec not ask for anything bad."
"How do you know Josh? Alec's irresponsible and—"
"Alec is Joshua's friend."
"Alec doesn't know how to have friends, Josh." Max adjusts her knit cap over her dark hair. She's almost to the door again when Josh reaches out a hand and grips her shoulder gently.
"Alec and Joshua friends. Just like Max and Joshua friends."
"No, Max listen. Medium fella is learning. Friends help each other. Joshua help Alec, Alec help Joshua." Josh's eyes are so earnest, that Max almost wants to believe him. Alec's backed her up before. She wishes she could believe that she can always count on him. But memories of him almost killing her and taking her barcode permeate her mind.
"Alec hasn't always been our friend." At her words Josh's eyes get a little dark but he just firms his mouth.
"Alec lost, but his heart is good. Alec chose to help Max and Joshua in the end, that's what is important."
And Max can't crush that hope in Joshua's eyes. He likes Alec and wants to call them friends even after everything Alec's done. So she manages to twitch her lips in the ghost of a smile.
"Yeah. Guess so."
"And no one else seems to care!" Max knows she's boarding on shouting but can't quite seem to bring her voice down into the normal range. Alec is just so aggravating.
Logan sighs, like she's the one being unreasonable and taxing. He pushes his glasses back up his nose and turns to face her fully. "Max, I don't know what you want me to say. Alec's a little obnoxious, sure…but he's not a bad guy."
"What?" She pauses in her pacing of Logan's high rise apartment.
"I said- he's not a bad guy."
"You do know he steals from people, right?"
"As I recall, that was how we met."
"Max,-" Logan starts but Max just slaps the file they are supposed to be reviewing down on the table.
"He runs scams, steals from people, two times all over Jam Pony and Normal, Cindy, Josh and now, apparently you, are all singing his praises!"
"Well, I wouldn't say singing his praises-"
"Did you or did you not just say that Alec, the same guy who cost us the chance at a cure for the virus a good guy?"
"No," Logan stresses frustration sparking in his gaze "I said he's not a bad guy. There's a difference, Max."
"Ha! And what's that?"
"Alec's screwed up a lot—"
"But he's also done a lot to help us out too." He holds up a hand to stall her tirade. "He paid back the money lost when you had the doctor remove the bomb from his head and he is the one who let us know about the transgenic at the Blowfish Tavern, right?"
Max huffs out a sigh and rolls her eyes. "Yeah, so?"
"So I think Alec is trying to live up to his potential and we should encourage that. He's making an effort Max and I think that it's only fair to acknowledge it."
"What is this potential everyone keeps talking about?" She throws her gloved hands up in the air.
"It's the promise of being a better man than you were yesterday." Logan's got an amused expression on his face. "Or woman as it were." He gets up and walks over towards his kitchen the soft whir of his exoskeleton following. "Think about it Max. You've done a lot of personal growing since I've known you." His eyes flick to the artwork that adorns the apartment. "Everyone can change. Why not Alec?"
Alec is sitting at the bar, just where she thought she would find him.
"Hey!" She tugs on his shoulder to swing him around to face her.
"Max, what a lovely surprise." Alec drawls sarcastically dark amusement in his eyes.
"You wanna tell me what you're up to now and save us both the trouble of bailing your ass out later?"
Alec rolls his eyes and shrugs his shoulders in his grey leather jacket. "I'll have another!" He calls to the bartender flicking his fingers towards his half empty glass.
Once the bartender nods Alec turns back to her.
"Max, I'm not up to anything. What makes you think I am?"
She crosses her arms across her chest and tosses her hair back from her face. "Because I know you Alec. You're always up to something." When he just continues to smirk at her she scowls and spits at him. "I talked to Joshua and you're pulling him into one of your scams again."
"Is that what Josh said? Really?" Alec swigs the remainder of his original drink down.
"It was implied."
"Ah, so you're reading subtext now are we Maxie? I didn't think that was your strong suit." He glances meaningfully at her. Her cheeks flush with anger and he ignores her glare to toss down some bills for his fresh drink. He gulps it down in one go and steps around her headed for the exit.
She turns to follow him out dogging his heels.
"Yeah, well when Joshua tells me you asked for a favor it doesn't take a genius to figure it out."
Alec lets out a short, sharp laugh. "Guess it does take a genius because you're wrong Maxie."
"Don't call me that." She mutters and steps with him through the doorway into the light rain beyond.
"Don't you ever get tired of casting me in the role of villain?" Alec stops short and faces her. "Hate to break it to you Max, but I don't sit in my apartment at night twisting my hands with malevolent intent and cackling about taking over the world." He grins slyly at her. "Pretty sure that's White's dealio."
The rain is damping his hair, turning it darker and making it stick to his temples. It's getting longer—his concession to her to help hide his barcode. And it's this realization—not any of the words everyone's been saying to her all day that breaks through to her.
Alec listens to her. He does what he wants in the end…but he listens to her. Get a job, get some friends. It hits her then, really hits her. What she says to him matters. It makes her stomach feel all squirrelly. She shifts back and forth on her feet, contemplating just leaving. But before she can make a move either way he's speaking again—boy can't stand a vacuum of silence when he's around to fill it.
"Geez, Max. I was just joking around. I know White's a serious deal. I wouldn't put Josh in danger." And his gaze is a little hurt, a little reproachful.
Max clears her throat. "Okay. So what do you need from Josh?"
"You really want to know?" His green eyes are a little distrustful—but there's something else lurking there. She would almost call it hope. She thinks of Joshua and nods curtly.
"Well, an old buddy of mine back from…school—"he glances around and she notes that there's a homeless guy lurking on the corner. She steps in a little closer to him. "Got in contact. Told him how much I liked Seattle. He's thinking of joining me here. Thought Josh might consider putting him up for a couple of nights until he gets his own place."
Max can't help it she makes a face. "Wait, you want Josh to host a sleepover? Are you 5?"
"What's a sleepover? Is it as fun as it sounds?" Alec strokes his thumb under his full lower lip.
"When a group of friends spend the night together in one place. So, what were you chatting with Normal about today then?"
"Ooo, definitely sounds fun. Why don't we have sleepovers Max? Would OC like to join us?" His eyes gleam wickedly at her.
She reaches over and thumps him soundly on the shoulder, ignoring his protest of pain. "What were you and Normal talking about?"
"God, you can be a bitch, you know that right?"
Max just arches her own eyebrows back at him loving the look of irritation he gives her in return. Maybe that's why he's always tossing his own eyebrows about. She notices he scrunches up his nose when he's annoyed. It's almost…adorable. She shakes her head to clear it. Maybe she needs to try and catch a few hours of sleep because there's no way she just thought Alec's nose was adorable. Gross.
"Fine, I was just asking if Normal would be interested in hiring a few more…motivated employees, alright? Just in case my buddy decides to come to town." Alec's rubbing his arm and she's pretty sure he's pouting.
"Okay? That's it? You're not going to integrate me some more?" He stills suddenly looking bewildered.
"Nope. Got better things to do than check up on every little thing you're doing these days."
"Really? Since when? Aren't you worried I'm gonna screw up?"
"No! Contrary to belief Max I did manage just fine without you for twenty some years." Alec's planted his feet and crossed his arms over his chest. She tilts her head to the side and studies him for a moment.
Sure, he says he'd been fine before they met but Max knows that's not exactly true. She knows a few things about him now, she's seen under that veneer of armor he wears around him like a mask. It makes Max realize she likes him better now than when he'd first started backing her up. Because he listens to her. Logan's right. He's making an effort.
"Sure you were." Max shakes her head and waves her hand goodbye. "Next time though, you could always just ask me for help instead of sneaking around. Makes it look like you're trying to get away with something."
Alec snorts. "Sneak? I wasn't sneaking! Besides, like you let me get away with anything."
She turns and smirks at him while she continues to walk backwards. "Maybe there's hope for you yet."
Phew! It's been awhile and I'm feeling pretty rusty. I really struggled with Max and Normal's interaction. Anything besides a "bip" or two seems to be hard for me to write. I feel like I have a much better grasp of Max/Alec hell, even Max/Logan interactions better. Hopefully you all enjoy it either way though. Hopefully it won't be as long before the next update. Bye!