Title: Movie Magic

Summary: Max and Alec go undercover on a movie set, and things get…complicated. MA.

Spoilers: Takes place sometime after "Love Among The Runes," but before "Freak Nation."

Disclaimer: Dark Angel isn't mine, but I'm claiming Alec and I'm not giving him back! ;)

A/N: This started out as a little bunny and I figured, a few pages maybe, and I'd be done, but I should have known better, lol. This bunny grew by leaps and bounds, and considering the fact that acting and Dark Angel are two of my favorite things…I wound up with a lot to play with. :D

This fic is already complete, so Lord willing, updates won't be a problem. I'm hoping to post a new chapter every few days or so.

A/N2: This story was originally inspired by two prompts on RH last October. The first prompt, and the one you'll find in this chapter, was the Stocking Stuffer Prompt: Begin a story with this: '"I have to do what?" he/she asked, incredulously.'

As always, I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the source of all inspiration, and without Him, this story would never have been finished. He's blessed me beyond measure, and I can never praise Him enough for all He's done.

I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think!

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My humble apologies to anyone who tried to read this first chapter and found it the same as the second one. I honestly have no idea what happened. I looked at both chapters after uploading the second, and they were both in the right place. Either FF.N did something really odd *gives the site a strange look* or somehow editing went wrong and it didn't show up before I signed off. Thank you to the reviewers who told me about the problem. :)

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Movie Magic

"I have to do what?" Max asked incredulously.

Logan couldn't help wincing as her voice rang through the room. He'd known it wouldn't be easy convincing her to do this, but there wasn't any other choice.

"Max-" he started.

"No, Logan."

He opened his mouth to try again but she cut him off.

"No."

"Aw, come on, Maxie, I think it could be fun."

Max tuned around to glare at Alec, who was sitting on the couch watching the whole scene, an amused grin spread across his features. He didn't seem to be the least bit affected by Max's scathing look.

Logan tried not to be irritated. Like it or not, he needed Alec for this mission too, and Logan knew, no matter what, Alec would just tag along anyway. Wherever Max went, he would follow, the constant pain in -- and at -- Max's side.

"Well, fun or not," Logan felt obligated to add, drawing their attention once more, "five people have disappeared so far."

Max sighed, her shoulders slumping a little. "Okay. I'm listening."

She still didn't sound convinced, but at least she was willing to hear him out. Not wanting to take the chance that she would change her mind, Logan spun in his chair, tapping a few keys on his computer to bring up the information he wanted.

"Eddy Malone," Logan began, picking up his explanation from where he'd been interrupted. "He's a movie producer who has ties to the mob here in Seattle. Rumor has it, he's putting out hits on rival producers. A producer gets a job Eddy wants, he calls his mob friends, the hit goes down, that producer disappears, and Eddy swoops in to take over."

"If you know so much about him," Alec interjected, "why exactly do you need us again?"

"Well, right now, the rumors are just rumors. He's done a good job covering his tracks, and nobody wants to come forward against this guy. He's either paid them off, or they're too scared to talk."

"And so you want to snoop around the set, see if you can dig up some proof?"

Logan nodded.

"The only problem is that it's a closed set, nobody in or out, unless they're part of the cast or crew. Pretty strict security for a movie filming in the middle of nowhere."

"Which is where we'd come in," Max supplied.

Logan nodded again.

"Eddy fired the last two actors they'd picked for the leads, claiming 'they didn't have enough charisma.' Now they're scrambling to find replacements. Max, I know you don't like it, but someone with your movie-star looks-"

"Hey, what am I, chopped liver?" Alec interrupted.

Logan ignored him.

"Someone with your movie-star looks wouldn't have any problem being cast for a role."

Max looked at his computer and frowned, crossing her arms in front of her.

"Can't you just hack into their files?"

"All their records are on paper." Logan sighed, rubbing his eyes and readjusting his glasses. "You've done undercover work for me before, I don't see how this is any different."

"It's different because people know about us! White's out there right now, trying to hunt us down. Pretending to be actors, filming a movie, that's way too much exposure. If White caught on, he'd be all over it."

"Max, I know it's a risk, but the movie's being filmed in Canada, at a pretty remote location. I wouldn't be asking if I thought it would put you in danger."

Now it was Max's turn to sigh.

"I know that, Logan," she answered more quietly. She glanced away, biting her lip, and Logan could tell she was close to saying yes.

"Come on, Max," Alec coaxed, apparently sensing it too, "this'll be a lot easier than most of the other jobs we've pulled."

Max's eyes narrowed suspiciously as she turned around to look at Alec again.

"Since when are you all for going on Eyes Only missions?"

"Since I saw who's on the supporting-cast." He grinned, nodding at the computer screen listing the movie's stats. "Teresa Matthews. I've watched some of her movies. She's not very well known, but she's been in a few things. Good actress. Hot too."

This time both Max and Logan glared at him.

"What?" Alec asked innocently. "Can't a guy appreciate a beautiful member of the female species? From a distance, of course," he added at Max's glare. "Then again," he said quickly when her glare only intensified, "why would I want to appreciate anyone else when the most beautiful woman in the world is standing right next to me?"

Max rolled her eyes, but her scowl softened a little, and Logan tried once more to ignore the pang of jealousy he felt. Max had made her choice, and he had to accept that. Even if he didn't understand it.

Pushing those thoughts aside, Logan cleared his throat.

"So, will you do it?"

There was a long pause.

"Yeah," Max said finally. "Yeah. We'll do it."

Logan let out a breath, relieved.

"I'll get the IDs set up, and we can leave in a few days."

Max nodded, looking back to Alec again. "Can you square that with Normal?"

Alec shrugged. "Sure, I think I can come up with something. Hey, maybe I can tell him that I've been discovered and I'm starting my Hollywood career."

Max snorted. "Like he'd believe that."

"Why wouldn't he believe that? A lot of people have told me I should be in Hollywood," Alec defended.

"Right," Max deadpanned. "you'd be a perfect comedian. Nobody takes you seriously anyway."

"Nah, I've always thought of myself as more the action-hero type. You know, kicking down doors, beating bad guys, saving damsels in distress…"

Logan watched silently as the banter continued and they moved for the door, side by side, like always. They looked…comfortable. More comfortable than he and Max had ever been.

And that hurt, because he couldn't help but notice the way even Max had automatically said we when it came to her and Alec. Yes, he'd asked them both come, needed them both to pull it off, and Alec had obviously already been on-board…but it still stung.

He had a feeling it always would.

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There'd been a reason Max hadn't wanted to go on this mission. A very good reason. Yeah, potential exposure was part of it -- after all, it wasn't just her. She had everybody else in TC to worry about too, on top of the evil cult who wanted them dead. But that wasn't why she'd said no. She'd said no because of the hours she knew they'd have to spend driving up to the set.

It wouldn't have been a problem before…before the virus, before she'd gotten careless and Logan had almost died, before she'd told Logan that she was with Alec. But that was then and this was now, and now was just as uncomfortable and tense as she'd expected.

The last few hours had been spent mostly in uneasy silence, Logan casting furtive glances in the review-mirror at her and Alec sitting in the back seat. Every look made Max feel more guilty, a guilt she tried to tell herself she didn't have a reason to feel.

She'd done the right thing.

She knew Logan, and unless he thought she was with someone else, he wouldn't have given up on her. He would've chased after her and promised to keep his distance until, eventually, she would have let her guard down again.

But she couldn't let that happen, because one touch was all it took. One touch and he'd be dead, and it'd be her fault. She didn't want to live with that anymore than she wanted Logan to get hurt.

She'd hurt him enough already.

Alec, at least, seemed to understand that, and though there'd been a few slipups -- like his comment about that actress, Max thought, annoyed -- he was actually handling it pretty well. He'd even been doing small stuff for her that a boyfriend would, like opening doors, and getting something for her to eat from the Kwick-E-Mart they'd stopped at earlier that morning. He'd tried to fill the silence in the car too at first, but either he'd run out of things to say -- which Max seriously doubted -- or he'd just given up.

She kind of wished he hadn't, though, because even Alec droning on and on was better than nothing. And if his voice just happened to calm her frazzled nerves a little, well…so what? It just meant that Manticore knew how to make 'em sound pretty, too.

Not that she'd thought about it before or anything.

Thankfully, the feeling of the car slowing down broke Max out of her reverie, and she turned away from the window to see the entrance to the set up ahead. Relieved that they'd finally made it, she sat up straighter and tried to look a little more enthused about being here than she actually was, just in case anyone was watching.

Logan rolled down the driver's side window, greeting the guard who had walked up.

"Gary Sherwood, from the Sherwood Acting Agency," Logan introduced himself. "I spoke to Mr. Malone a few days ago."

Max tuned out the rest, causally scanning the woods around them. She felt Alec shift next to her, probably doing the same.

Logan had been right about the tight security. There were four guards at the gate, and a few others lining the road. And those were just the ones at the main entrance. The IDs Logan had gotten for them seemed to work though, and after a few questions, they were waved through.

It didn't take them long to reach the small, dirt parking area not far from the gate, and soon they were out of the car and headed for the set itself. Logan stopped a crew person who was passing by, telling them who they were, and the guy pointed them to a man wearing an orange windbreaker and a baseball-cap.

Max let her eyes wander around the set as they walked.

According to Logan, the Pulse had really taken a toll on the film industry, and their once-multi-million dollar budgets had dropped to only a few thousand when most of Hollywood had moved to Europe.

It showed.

The few buildings on the set looked like they were made out of plywood covered in the cheapest paint you could find. The windows were plastic instead of glass, and fake flowers and a weathered bench made up a what she figured was supposed to be a garden. It looked worse than some of the shanty towns outside of Seattle.

Alec seemed just as unimpressed as she was, and snorted when they had to pause for a crew-guy who was carrying a giant, Styrofoam rock. They caught up to Logan a minute later, just as he reached the man in the orange windbreaker and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Excuse me," Logan started, "I'm Gary Sherwood, from Sherwood Acting Agency. This is Melissa Reynolds and Brian Whitman, the two best actors my agency has. Like I told your producer over the phone, I think they might be a good fit for the leads."

"Skip Kowalski," the man told them, exchanging a quick handshake with Logan. "I'm the director." His gaze shifted to Max and Alec. "Hmm…" he said thoughtfully, looking them up and down, and moving to circle around them slowly. Max tried not to fidget.

"Yeah," Skip continued at last, "yeah, I think these two'll be perfect!"

"That's what I thought you'd say," Logan smiled, playing the part of their agent, "Now, about their contracts-"

"You can straighten out the details when they're cleared with Mr. Malone. He has final say-so. He's in his trailer, over there," Skip responded, pointing to the one trailer on set that didn't look like it was falling apart. The Mr. Malone wasn't lost on Max either, and she eyed the director suspiciously, wondering whether he fit into the paid-off or the too-scared-to-talk category.

"Actually, Skip," a voice came from behind them, "I got the call when they came through the gate."

Max turned around, a little annoyed that she hadn't heard somebody walk up, but on a set like this, people moved around so much that it was probably gonna be hard to keep track of anyone.

Malone -- it had to be Malone -- stood a few feet a way. He was tall, with cold, blue eyes and brown hair, and he was dressed just like the Mafia-wannabe he was, all the way down to the slicked-back ponytail and tailored suit. He would've fit in better on the set of The Godfather, but Max figured that no one had felt like pointing that out to him. Cheesy fashion sense or not, if Logan was right, this guy was more dangerous than he looked.

"I think you're right. Those two are perfect for the parts. Good catch, Kowalski."

Skip swallowed.

"Thanks, Mr. Malone."

"Get them caught up. I've gotta talk contracts with Mr. Sherwood, here."

The director nodded, and Max watched as Logan followed Malone to his trailer

"So," Skip asked a moment later, "have you two worked together before?"

Alec blinked, his eyes focused on something across the set.

"What?" he asked.

"Have you worked together before?" Skip repeated, waving a hand at Max.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, we have," Alec responded absently.

Max frowned at his answer, then turned to see just what exactly Alec found so distracting…and scowled. It wasn't a what it was a who, a tall woman with long, wavy blonde hair and blue eyes.

Max was about to snap him out of it when Skip caught his stare and looked up

"Oh, good, Teresa!" Skip called, motioning the woman over. "Teresa," he started when she reached them, "this is Melissa Reynolds and Brian Whitman. They'll be replacing Jake and Olivia for the leads, Megan and James." Skip turned back to Max and Alec. "Melissa, Brian, this is Teresa Matthews. She's playing Kristen, Megan's romantic rival."

"It's nice to meet you," Teresa said, offering her hand.

So this is the "hot" actress, huh? Max scoffed silently, remembering Alec's words from earlier and trying not to let her irritation show as she returned the gesture. "It's nice to meet you too," she said out loud, forcing her expression into something close to a smile.

Teresa turned to offer her hand to Alec next, but he beat her to it. "Oh, the pleasure's all mine," Alec murmured, taking her hand and pulling her towards him a little. Teresa blushed, but didn't seem in a hurry to move.

A growl started low in Max's throat, but she managed to stop it before anyone noticed. Alec was her pretend-boyfriend, wasn't he? He could at least have the decency to act like one. It was just lucky that Logan wasn't here to see this. But for some reason, that didn't make her feel any better.

Thankfully, before she could think too much about why that was, Skip clapped his hands together enthusiastically, and Alec released his hold on Teresa.

Took him long enough, Max thought darkly.

"Okay, people," Skip began loudly, drawing the attention of the rest of the crew. When the set finally quieted down, he continued. "We've got our new leads, but we're way behind schedule, and we've got a lot of work to do. Let's do a quick run-through, and then Melissa and Brian," he nodded at Max and Alec, "can have a couple hours to memorize their lines." He turned to look at Max appraisingly. "We're starting with the scene when you two meet. You're real antagonistic. Think you can manage that?"

Alec stifled a laugh, and Max had to resist the urge to smack him.

"I'll give it a shot," she managed through gritted teeth.

"Good," Skip nodded. "Amy!" he shouted after a beat, "Amy, we need some scripts over here!"

"Got it, Boss!" someone shouted back. A stressed-out looking woman appeared a moment later, papers in hand. "Here's the script for the scene you'll be shooting this afternoon. Read it, memorize it," she ordered, shoving the scripts at them.

Frowning, Max scanned first page, her eyes automatically coming to rest on the title written at the top:

Love Hurts.

"Perfect," she muttered.

It was gonna be a long week.

TBC…

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A/N: I know actors can't usually waltz onto sets and be automatically cast in lead roles, but this is post-Pulse Hollywood, lol. They're not nearly as picky, and Max and Alec just for their looks would be great finds. Especially Alec… ;)

Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think! The next chapter, should, Lord willing, be up in a few days.

Take care and God bless!

Ani-maniac494 :)