Title: From A to Z II
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Dark Angel, if I was (as I have mentioned before), there would be Max and Alec-together, all the time, doing things like snarking and then having hot sex. P
Rating: It'll change from prompt to prompt, I'm going to take a page from Seamagik's book and post it with the prompt title.
AN: Yay! I totally goaded Seamagik into making up new prompts for the Game! (she probably hates me, evil genius that I am…) I hope you readers have just as much fun this time around.
AN2: I was in a fluff mood…
Sunshine beat down on their heads. It was an unusual occurrence in Seattle, to have an afternoon free of rain in the summertime, but it made this hit so much easier. 494 glanced behind him and raised his eyebrow. His partner nodded, hazel eyes serious, and took point.
He quirked a small smile at her back and touched his headset. "Surveillance Charlie, this is Alpha Team. Gold Leader speaking. Over."
A harsh sigh met his call. "Charlie here, Gold Leader, over."
"What is the target's position? Over."
Another annoyed sigh. "The same as it was five minutes ago. Over."
"Let's hear a little more respect there, Charlie. Over."
"Same as it was five minutes ago, sir. Backyard. Sunbathing. Over."
494 grinned when his partner turned to give him an impatient look. "Thanks Charlie, relay the information to Beta Team. Gold Leader out, over."
Surveillance Charlie did not respond, and 494 shrugged, looking at Gold Two to see if she was ready. She was, practically vibrating with anticipation, and he cocked his head to indicate she should back him up. Her face crumpled and she sent him pleading eyes, but he held firm. It was her first mission, precautions needed to be taken.
Their target was a Seattle city councilman's wife. The councilman and family lived in the suburbs of Seattle among the hoity-toity, and it had just been pure chance that the target would be outside, in the open, on the day of their mission. It was for the best, he mused, glancing again at Gold Two as he signaled a forward march. 494 was stuck with three newbies, all young and fresh-faced, with no idea how hard even a team mission could go.
Gold Two was small, whipcord thin with too big eyes. She kept flicking her head to get her dark brown bangs out of them. She looked like a gust of wind might blow her over, but the delicacy was belied by the fact that two pistols were resting easily in the palms of her tiny hands. They were top of the line pistols, designed for quick hits, an in an out job.
494 preferred his own weapon, and he hoisted it up as inconspicuously as possible. It was long and heavy, double-barreled fist-pumping action and it had maximum range and firepower. Red Leader and Red Two had chosen similar weapons, only in a more compact size.
Static crackled over his headset and he held up a hand to halt their progress. "Alpha Team, this is Beta Team, Red Leader speaking. Over."
"Red Leader, this is Gold Leader, over."
"Beta Team in position, Gold Leader, awaiting orders, over."
"Hold position, Beta Team, over."
"Holding, sir. Red Leader out, over."
494 started forward again, sensing Gold Two at his back. They were creeping stealthily through the well-manicured flora, trying not to call attention to themselves. Not that it was likely they would be spotted, he thought, the property was huge, the councilman had limited staff, and practically no security. It was like he was begging for someone to take his wife off his hands. 494 snorted and stopped when Gold Two tugged on his shirt.
She gave him a death glare and pointed with a pistol to where he had almost stepped into the clear cut backyard where their target was waiting. 494 gave an innocent smile and a helpless shrug and she pushed him out of the way to peer around the final bush. She turned back and nodded. 494 gave his weapon a pump, finger ready on the trigger, and hit his headset with his other hand.
"Alpha Team in position, Beta Team. Over."
And then there were whooping war cries and 494 and Gold Two exchanged alarmed looks. Beta Team had jumped the gun. "Go," he muttered, and Gold Two sprinted forward, 494 hot on her heels.
They met up with a stumped Beta Team in the middle of the yard and lowered their weapons as they stared down at the empty lawn chair, blue towel flapping gently in the breeze. 494 huffed and tapped his headset. "Surveillance Charlie, come in, this is Gold Leader, over."
"Charlie, do you copy? Over."
Nothing answered but static.
He looked over his soldiers and shook his head. "We've been compromised, troops, time to make a tactical retreat and form a new plan of attack." Never mind that they were standing in the open, they just had to hope the target hadn't spotted them.
"Um…Gold Leader?" Red Two piped up, "I think it's too late."
494 followed Red Two's line of sight to see the target bearing down on them in a tiny white bikini, eyes flashing. "Fire!" he shouted, but it was futile. The ambush came unexpectedly, and they were barraged from all sides.
Gold Two shrieked, falling first. Red Leader and Red Two were taken out almost as quickly. 494 held his ground, feeling the hits coming, the liquid trickling down his body, soaking through his clothing, but he was determined to finish this mission.
She was smirking in triumph, but he was prepared. He aimed and fired, even as he slipped backward, and the last sight he saw was her shock as she glanced down at her chest.
Then there was nothing but silence.
Until Gold Two giggled.
Alec cracked open an eyelid. "Gold Two," he scolded, you are behaving unprofessionally."
That just made her giggle harder, Beta Team joining in with their own laughs. Alec huffed and propped himself up on his elbows. Max was still glaring at him, hands on her hips, looking all kinds of delectable through the rainbow-dewy haze the sprinklers formed. He smiled at her, and she cocked one eyebrow.
"How'd you know?" he asked, as the kids scrambled up to go play, abandoning their water guns. He stood, wiping blades of newly cut grass off his hands.
"Councilwoman Miller called to let me know the meeting had ended earlier and those hellions you call children were being way too quiet." She dropped her hands as he came closer and backed away a little. "I called Eve to see what they were up to and she was surprisingly helpful." She looked over her shoulder and Alec looked as well, finding Eve sitting on the patio, feet propped up as she painted her toenails.
"Traitor," he growled. He was never recruiting a surly teenager to be Surveillance Charlie ever again. Her head bobbed up like she'd heard him and she gave him a smile and a wave. He waved back and sighed, stepping closer to his wife. "So, do I get a welcome home kiss?"
She wrinkled her nose. "You're wet."
That was true, he was drenched, and the blast from his vintage 1990's SuperSoaker had already disappeared in the sun, leaving her completely dry. Alec smiled innocently and called over his shoulder, "Gold Two, Beta Team!"
Mina bounded up instantly, shaking the water out of her short hair. "Yes, sir?" she inquired, kicking at her brothers. The twins gave up wrestling and stood beside her, "Yes, sir?" they echoed in unison. Their smiles were identical to their father's.
Max started backing up, expression wary. "Alec," she warned.
And the kids attacked.
After Max was sopping with water, from her children's hugs and their persistence in dragging her to play in the sprinklers with them, Alec wrapped his arms around her himself. "So," he murmured, the sun beating down on their heads, "How about that kiss?"
Max rolled her eyes and squeezed the front of his shirt with pruny hands. Then she smiled and leaned up, just a bit, and he met her halfway. "Welcome home," she whispered against his lips and then finished the kiss.
"Mom, Dad! Stop it!"
The first one was in her desk drawer. It was pink.
She squeezed it too hard and then Alec walked in and she told him to clean up the mess.
The second one was in the medicine cabinet. It was blue.
She chucked it at Alec's head, but he ducked and it hit the TV and knocked it over. She made him clean it up.
The third one was in the fridge, right next to her milk. It was yellow.
She broke it open, mixed the filling into the coffee pot and smiled sweetly when Alec took a sip and said it tasted like mud. She made him wash out the pot and make a new one.
The fourth one was on her pillow. It was green.
She poked a hole in it and drizzled all the sand onto Alec's sheets. It was his week for laundry.
The fifth one he handed to her, eyes serious. It was orange.
"Max," he said, "Don't break this one, okay? Every time you do I have to make a new one, and Josh is getting pretty sick of me using up all his balloons and sand. They're supposed to be for the kids."
"I don't need a stress ball, Alec."
Watching Alec clean up all the messes was cathartic enough for her.
He raised both eyebrows. "Take it from me, Max, you really, really do."
She really didn't. When she refused to take the offering, he tucked it into her pocket and left. She let out a breath, feeling the phantom touch of his fingers against her skin through the tight denim. She tugged the stress ball out and glared at it, and then at the door.
She wasn't even stressed really, she thought, unconsciously kneading the squishy ball. So what if they were low on food supplies? So what if there were alpha fights breaking out amongst the males? So what if that tarty little blonde had been flirting with Alec last night? So what if she hadn't gotten laid in, like, forever? She wasn't stressed.
The ball broke, sand streaming through her fingers, and Max watched it puddle on the floor.
He popped his head in, expression curious, and then scowled when he saw the mess. "Not again, Max!"
"Clean it up," she ordered.
"You're the one who broke it," he protested.
"You're the one who made it," she replied testily, and flounced behind her desk to slump into her chair.
Alec gave a long-suffering sigh, and whatever, like he had any reason to be annoyed. She was the one with the exasperating second who couldn't mind his own business and who didn't have the decency not to wear those jeans. Max sighed and relaxed into her uncomfortable desk chair, watching the muscles play in his arms as he swept and the way his ass filled out his pants as he bent to sweep the pile into the dustpan.
He straightened and looked at her, eyes wide, and then he grinned. "Maxie, are you checking me out?"
"Tck, you wish." Her shoulders tensed and she blanked her expression.
She didn't find any new stress balls the next day. No red or purple or black or white.
When she came back to the apartment they shared that night, Alec steered her straight into the bathroom where the tub was filled with warm water and bubbles. There were candles lit and music playing and she didn't even ask where he had gotten it all, she just whimpered.
The sound of cloth hitting the floor made her turn and she found her face centimeters from his collarbone, candlelight playing in the hollow and down his bare chest. Max whimpered again and looked up into eyes that were almost black.
"Josh banned me from the craft room," he informed her, fingers playing at the waistband of her leather pants. "I had to come up with something else to work the frustration out."
Those fingers slid up the back of her shirt and she curved into the warmth radiating from him.
So maybe she could use a little de-stressing…
Rated: M for language
The tumbler landed on the bar top with a thump and another two fingers of aged scotch were poured into it. Alec gave a little smirk at the amber liquid, cursed his metabolism, and knocked it down. The burn in the back of his throat was his body's only acknowledgment to the alcohol he had just gulped. "Doesn't mean I can't give it the old college try."
Max huffed and slid onto the bar stool beside him. Kate placed a mug of frosty brew in front of her without asking, and Max gave the other X-5 a smile. "What are you doing here, Alec?"
He shrugged, a ripple of movement that started in his shoulders and continued down his back. "Trying to find the meaning of life, Maxie." He turned his head, green eyes flicking over her ensemble. "Hot date?"
The skirt of the little black dress had flared as she sat, settling high on her thighs, and she didn't give him the satisfaction of twitching it back into place. "Not so hot," she said nonchalantly, sipping at her beer.
Sev had been nice, very nice, but there had been no passion between them and the night had ended with a chaste kiss at the door to her apartment and Max had slipped out as soon as she was sure he was clear of the building.
It was odd…dating. Before, her boyfriends had always been the result of trying to make more of her Heat than animal instinct. Then there had been Logan and all the ups and downs and yes and no until they were both so dried up and empty there was nothing but remembered emotion and false hope. Now…now there was a city full of transgenics and she was dating.
And Alec…Alec was settled. Alec was thriving in his City Council position, happy in his marriage, and, she could only assume, thrilled about his impending fatherhood. The latter news had spread like wildfire throughout Terminal City in just a few hours. She had made a note to offer her congratulations right before Sev knocked on her door.
Alec sitting alone in the Applewood Bar was unexpected.
"Don't get discouraged, Maxie, there's plenty of fish in the sea." He smiled, and there was something dark in his eyes that she hadn't seen in awhile. "Or, in our case, plenty of cats to scratch that itch." Her eyes rolled of their own accord, a hazard of being in Alec's presence for too long. "'Cept you haven't got that itch, d'ya, Maxie?"
Her eyes zoomed in on his, still dark and serious. His smile was twisted and ugly and Max felt a flutter of panic. Felt like prey to his predator. "What are you talking about?"
"Didn't you notice?" he asked, affecting surprise.
"Notice what?" she demanded, but she knew. She knew what he was talking about because it had been praying on her mind for months.
"Notice how all the other females are going into Heat, marking their mates, breeding," he spat, "and you're sitting all cold and alone in your office?"
"They did something, at Manticore, to regulate it." She said it swiftly because she knew it was true. It had to be true. She'd thought, at first, that it was just stress throwing off her cycle, but it had been over a year and not once had her blood boiled. Not once had she wanted a man just to want, to have, to fuck.
"Regulate?" he repeated, "It was regulated, three times a year, like clockwork." He regarded his glass again, empty, bottle empty as well, and he gestured for Kate to bring him another. He looked at Max, at the wide set to her eyes, whites showing, and hated himself for telling her. For telling her in anger and betrayal. For telling her now and not before. For having to tell her at all. "Oh, Manticore was all about the birth control. Couldn't have a soldier out of commission for little less than nine months out of a year, not when there were missions to be done, but they never fixed it. Not until later."
"Fixed?" Max echoed faintly, not having missed that bitter emphasis.
"Spayed. Neutered. Or would you prefer the human terminology? Hysterectomy. Vasectomy. Sterilization. They weeded out the defective genes, didn't want to risk us bad seeds having offspring."
"You're lying." But he wasn't, she knew he wasn't, knew him well enough to know that the detached, informative tone was a cover-up. Alec was furious.
"Wish to hell I was, Max. Wish to hell I was."
He hunched over his glass. He'd said 'us'. "Alec…" She touched his back softly, a gesture once rejected, but now he looked at her, cheek resting on one arm, eyes stormy.
"I wanted to kill Renfro when she told me. It was right before they assigned me to you, I'd been out of Psy Ops a few months…She laughed, Max, right in my face. And I wanted to kill her. I'd never…I'd never been that angry." He leaned his head down, until his forehead rested on grimy, sticky wood. "Not until now," he whispered, trying to muffle the words, but he knew she heard them.
Not until he came home to his wife beaming, a fancy meal set up and a smile on her face. Pregnant, she'd told him. He was going to be a daddy. Lied right to his face. He'd gone out to get drunk even though he knew he couldn't.
He sat back up and looked at Max, and hated her a little for the pity in her eyes. "Don't look at me like that, Max."
She blinked and the pity vanished into the spark he was used to. Fiery, bitchy, righteously ignorant. That was the Max he needed to see, not one trying to sympathize. "I think you've had enough," she told him, and he smirked at the sneer in her voice and thought for a moment about pretending they were twenty and the only thing to worry about was who was buying the next round and whether White was going to rain on their parade.
A lot could change in two years. Could and would and did. Alec took one last sip and set his tumbler down gently. "Yeah, well, I doubt the meaning of life is at the bottom of a whiskey glass anyway," he snarked, just for old times sake, and stood. She copied the movement, skirt swishing around her thighs and Alec tracked the silky fabric with his eyes.
He followed her out of the bar as he'd followed her so many places, with one eye on her lithe figure and the other trained on their surroundings. He nodded good-bye to their friends and the people they considered family, and stepped outside into the chill Seattle air. The wind had the bite of rain to it and the clouds loomed threateningly in the dark sky.
They stood on the corner of Applewood and Peach and Alec stared in the direction of his apartment. "I can't go back there right now," he murmured, hands grasping at the air between his fingers. "I don't…I don't know if she fucked him there. I don't know who he is. I want…I want-"
"Alec." She cut him off with a finger to his lips, body close to his, and he looked down into those dark brown eyes and he felt like crying.
"I just don't know what to do, Maxie."
She shivered at the admission, at the broken, lost, note in his voice, barely audible as the wind picked up speed. Max wrapped her hands in his, anything to stop that awful clenching and unclenching, and leaned into him, crating a little haven of warmth.
Max knew betrayal. Knew it from him and because of him. Max knew anger. Knew it and used it. But this…this was sadness and a destruction that she had never known. Would never know more than half of.
They couldn't have children. She would never see a little girl with brown eyes and dark hair and an attitude that wouldn't quit. He would never have a little boy with green eyes and blonde hair and a smirk that made a girl confused on whether to kiss it off or knee him in the balls.
They had been the defective ones. A traitor, and the twin of a psychotic traitor. They were imperfect, faulty, substandard, inferior…and Manticore had fixed them. Of the others who had fled and been recaptured, there was only Brin and Zack. Brin was dead, gone forever, and Zack was just as lost, his family a forgotten memory. She was the only one who could know what he was feeling. He was the only one who could know how she was coping.
Barren inside, but she wanted…She wanted him. "Come home with me." The words left her lips as they brushed over the skin of his jaw and he looked down at her, pupils expanding as the rain started coming down. A light drizzle that hit their skin and made them quiver against one another. "Come home with me," she said it again, firmer, louder, and she slipped out of the shelter of his body and started walking toward her apartment, in the opposite direction of his, and the rain pelted harder, plastering her dress to her legs.
She didn't look back.
She didn't have to.
TBC in EFG…