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 still isn't mine.
A/N: I wasn't planning to post this last chapter on the Fourth Of July originally, but I think it's kind of cool that it worked out that way, lol. :) I hope that everyone had a fantastic day with family and friends!
Praise God for freedom, and men and women brave enough to fight for it.
To my anonymous reviewers:
Alec's Angel: Lol, well, Mole doesn't think like a lizard even if he looks like one…except for the whole cold-blooded thing. ;) And you're right, lol, Tiger might claim Alec if Max isn't careful. It's hard for me to believe it's almost over too. I can't say when it will be up, but I am working on the quick sequel I mentioned.
Mona: Thank you! I'm sad to see it over too. I promise I did my best to tie all the loose ends together, and the one thing that isn't mentioned will play a part in the sequel I'm working on. :)
I hope you'll enjoy this last chapter, and please let me know what you think!
They'd been back in Seattle for a week.
Somehow, that week seemed just as long as the week on the set had.
Max sighed, and hit the brakes on her bike as the car in front of her slowed down for the sector check-point.
Logan had asked her to drop by, saying he had some info for her on the movie. "Love Hurts," was about to go into post-production, and they really didn't want a movie floating around with them in it. The plan was for her and Alec to steal the film before any copies could be made.
It wasn't a mission Max was looking forward to. She'd been avoiding Alec as much as she could since they'd gotten back. So far, anytime he showed up, she'd managed to find a reason to be somewhere else. OC had noticed, but she hadn't pushed. Max was grateful for that. She already knew what her friend would tell her, that she should stop running and talk to Alec already. But she just…didn't know what to say to him.
It would have been easier if she could pretend like nothing had changed. Maybe then she would've been able forget about what had happened on the set. But no, Alec had to go and get all noble and self-sacrificing, and almost get himself killed.
He'd almost died because of her. For her.
Max swallowed hard.
She knew she hadn't exactly reacted well, but she'd just been so angry, so absolutely furious with him.
How could he do that to her?! How could he just risk his life like that?!
People she cared about had died for her before, and she was sick of it. Zack, Brain…she didn't want to add Alec's name to the list.
The idea of him not being there at Jam Pony, or in TC -- not being there at all, ever, doing anything…
There wasn't a lot that scared Max, but that did. She hadn't realized…hadn't realized just how much he really meant to her, how hard it was to picture her life without him in it.
But, now that she actually did realize how much he meant to her, it was too late. She'd missed her chance, if she'd ever really had a chance to begin with. Alec didn't feel about her the way she felt about him.
If he felt about her like that, he wouldn't have told her that the kiss hadn't meant anything.
And it hadn't, she reminded herself. It couldn't.
But she wanted it to. She wanted it to mean something.
A car behind her beeped impatiently, and Max jumped. It was her turn at the check-point. She shook herself roughly from her thoughts and rode forward, holding her sector pass up to one of the guards. He squinted at it, and waved her through.
It didn't take her long to get to Logan's from there. She pulled to a stop in front of the house, and swung her leg over the seat, then walked up the steps.
The clicking of keys told her where to find him, and she moved for the living room. She paused in the doorway, watching him for a minute.
They'd left him on the set to smooth things over, and explain their sudden disappearing act. He'd come up with some story about her and Alec being called for another project, and they'd had to leave right away. That hadn't stopped Max from worrying though. If Rodriguez had found out that the two lead actors had conveniently vanished from the set, he would have had an easy time putting two and two together. And if Logan had gotten caught, they would have been too far away by then to do anything to help.
But, thankfully, everything had worked out alright, and Logan had gotten back to Seattle a day behind them.
Max cleared her throat.
Logan looked up from his computer.
"Oh, hey, Max."
"You said you had something for me?"
"Yeah. I found out where the studio sent the film. Turns out their using a Seattle-based company."
"That will make things easier. Got an address?"
"Even better. I managed to track down some blueprints of the building."
He reached down to open his desk drawer, and pulled out the plans, handing them to her carefully. Max grabbed them by the edges and moved for a near-by table, spreading them out across the surface. She let her eyes sweep the layout, cataloguing entrances, exits, and windows.
"Doesn't look too bad," she commented. "Should be simple enough. Alec and I can do it in a couple days."
"How is Alec, anyway?"
"He's fine," Max answered automatically.
His leg was healing at least, that much she knew. He was still limping a little, but that would go away soon. She'd gotten funny looks from Luke and Dix when she'd asked them to tell her how Alec was, but avoiding Alec made it hard to ask him questions.
And, it wasn't like he'd gone out of his way to talk to her, either.
Max pushed that thought aside uneasily, and straightened up from the table.
"So," she asked, wanting to change the subject, "stealing the film won't keep everyone from getting paid, right?"
She remembered Malone's threat to Skip, that if the movie was scrapped his pay would go with it to cover costs. She didn't want that to happen to everyone who'd worked on the set. And that included her and Alec's salaries too. TC could definitely use the money.
"Right. The way the contracts were written, the studio is obligated to pay everyone as long as filming was finished."
"Good. At least Skip will have something to show for putting up with Malone."
"I don't think we have to worry about him, actually. I checked up on him. Apparently, the whole thing gave him an idea. He managed to sell the studio on it, and so far, it's getting a lot of good buzz."
"What was his idea?"
"It's a mystery that takes place on a movie set. The producer turns out to be the villain."
"Wonder who inspired that?" Max asked wryly.
"Not a clue."
Max snorted softly, and reached for the blueprints.
"Well, thanks for this," she said, holding up the plans.
She turned to go, but hesitated, wondering if she should say something else. The sound of the front door opening stopped her.
Light footsteps echoed down the hall a moment later, and a familiar voice called, "Hey, Logan, the S1W decided to move on that sector cop, and we-" Asha appeared in the living room and paused. "Oh, hey, Max."
Asha looked between her and Logan for a minute, glancing at the blueprints in Max's hand.
"I can come back later if you're busy," she offered.
Max shook her head.
"Nah, that's okay. I was just leaving, anyway."
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure."
Max nodded her thanks at Logan again, and he nodded back. She walked to the door then, but paused once more, turning around. She didn't say anything, just watched Asha and Logan together.
They were already so absorbed in their conversation they didn't even notice.
It was strange, Max thought, being the one on the outside, looking in. She'd always known Asha was interested in Logan -- Asha had been interested in Alec too, Max remembered -- but Asha had never really pushed, just sort of sat on the sidelines, waiting. That had annoyed Max, because what exactly was Asha waiting for?
Now…now, maybe she thought she knew. She wondered if this was what Logan felt when he looked at her and Alec…if they seemed to fit together the way Logan and Asha seemed to.
Max sighed, and pushed herself from the doorway. She walked outside and down the steps, headed for her Ninja. She swung her leg over the seat, pulled up the kickstand with her foot, and started the engine.
She wasn't jealous.
The thought hit her suddenly, and Max froze on her bike, just listening to the engine run, staring blankly at the street in front of her.
She wasn't jealous.
She should be. But she wasn't.
It was strange after everything, to realize that. It was freeing somehow.
Maybe, Logan could be happy. Max hoped so. Then, at least, one of them could be.
Alec shifted in his seat and winced. He'd been sitting in the same place for the last two hours, checking over the inventory lists for their next supply run, and his leg was getting stiff. The words were blurring together in front of him too, and he just couldn't seem to concentrate.
Giving up, Alec tossed his pen at the table he'd been using and pushed himself out of his chair. His leg protested again, but it would loosen up as he walked. He just needed to stretch his muscles and clear his head.
Alec snorted softly.
Right, 'cause clearing his head had been so easy lately.
His eyes unconsciously drifted to the door of Max's office. He knew she was avoiding him, but he was okay with that. Then he didn't have to figure out what to say to her, or pretend that everything was fine.
Because it wasn't.
He could admit that…to himself at least.
It felt like he'd had everything he'd ever wanted dangled in front of him, and then yanked out of his grasp. And now, what he wanted most was sitting just out of his reach.
Yep, clearing his head was workin' real well so far.
Sighing, Alec let his feet carry him towards the door and outside to the street. He walked for a few minutes, no real destination in mind, but eventually he wound up headed towards the small brick building not far from HQ.
Tiger's new place.
The lab had seen better days, but it had enough space for her to move around, and the roof didn't leak too much, which was about the best you could hope for in Terminal City. He kind of wished they had more to offer her, though, like a preserve or something, but the closest TC got to a preserve was that patch of weeds down on 3rd, so they'd gone with the lab instead.
Alec pushed the door open and stepped inside, letting his eyes wander as he went. They'd cleaned it up as much as they could, clearing out what had been left of the equipment, but cabinets and counters still lined most of the walls, making it pretty easy to see what the building had originally been used for.
Tiger was lying on some cement steps near one of the windows, looking like a big cat sunning itself on a rock, only without the sun. This was Seattle, after all.
"Hey, Tiger," he greeted.
The transhuman raised her head, a soft, almost-purr coming from her throat. Alec figured that was her version of "hi." He walked over to one of the counters and jumped up to sit on it, letting his feet swing back and forth absently.
Tiger watched him from the steps, one of her hands twitching a little, but otherwise, she didn't move.
"So," Alec asked eventually, trying to fill the silence, "how do you like the place? Thinking of redecorating? You know, a few pillows, some throw-rugs…maybe a TV?"
Tiger just blinked at him, then laid back down, resting her head on the cement again.
Obviously, that was a 'yes' on the redecorating.
He couldn't really say why he'd come here -- it definitely wasn't for the conversation. And it wasn't that he'd wanted to check up on her. He didn't need to. She was settling in pretty well, all things considered. There'd been a few tense moments when the sedative had first worn off, but then she'd seen Joshua. Apparently the big guy had helped take care of her down in the basement when Manticore had forgotten about the little things -- like food. She'd seemed to decide everybody in TC was friendly then, or at least, not a threat.
Maybe…maybe he'd come here because her life was simple.
Yeah, she was a genetically-engineered part-human, part-tiger, but as long as her basic needs were met, and no one was trying to kill her, torture her, or force her into an impromptu Hollywood career, she didn't really have much to worry about.
Eat, sleep, survive.
Alec had tried to tell himself that once, that survival was enough, but then he'd met Max, and she'd made him want more. Made him want to be more.
The problem with wanting more, though, was that when you didn't get it -- which was most of the time -- you just wound up miserable. Not that survival alone was all that great, but it made it easier to live for the moment, and not get your hopes up.
Because hope was what really got to you in the end.
It wouldn't leave.
You could get kicked a hundred times, and just before kick number one-hundred-and-one landed, some part of you would think, "Maybe, this time, it will be different."
Then, inevitably, you got kicked again, and the whole thing started over.
That lesson had been drilled into Alec early on at Manticore, and eventually, he'd learned to just stop hoping. Or at least, he'd learned to bury his hopes deep enough that he could almost make himself believe he didn't have any.
Max did the opposite. She hung on to hope, focused on it, no matter what. It was one of the things he'd rolled his eyes at her for when they'd first met…like the way she'd been so determined to escape. Yeah, she'd made it out, he'd thought at the time, but that was just because Renfro had let her go. Whether or not his mission succeeded -- he really hadn't cared either way -- Manticore would still get what it wanted. They always did.
But somehow, Max had done it. She'd beaten them. She'd escaped, and gotten everyone else out, too. That was when he'd started to wonder if maybe hope wasn't totally worthless after all.
Then, as time had passed, he'd started to hope that Max could be more than a friend, could someday feel the way about him that he felt about her.
He'd known how impossible it was. He had a better chance of winning the lottery, and that had gone out with the Pulse.
But he'd still hoped anyway.
And look how that turned out.
Alec ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, then let his hands drop into his lap. That was when he noticed his watch.
He was supposed meet with Max in a few minutes to talk about their plan for getting the film.
Resisting the urge to sigh again, Alec jumped down from the counter. The sound of his shoes hitting the cement echoed in the silence, and Tiger looked up at him.
"Well," Alec said, "I know you're busy, so I'll let you get back to…"
The transhuman yawned.
Shaking his head resignedly, Alec started walking back towards Command.
Max realized she was tapping her hand on the desk, and forced herself to stop. She wasn't nervous, exactly, just…on edge. The idea of being in the same room with Alec sent a weird kind of tension spiraling through her.
It felt overwhelming somehow, complicated and uncomfortable…and she hated that, because it had never really felt that way before. He'd just barged into her life and made himself at home, and she'd gotten used to having him there.
The sound of footsteps outside made her look up, and a second later the door opened.
"Hey," Max said.
Her voice didn't exactly come out sounding normal…more neutral than anything, but then, Alec's sounded just as flat.
He waited in the doorway for a minute, his hands in his pockets. Was it her imagination, or did he seem as tense as she was?
"So," he asked, finally walking further into the room, "find out what we can do about the film?"
"They're using a company here in Seattle. Building's in sector 4. Logan got the blueprints."
"Good old Logan," Alec muttered.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," he said quickly. "When do we leave?"
"We've got a couple days, but I thought we could do some recon later."
"Just what I wanted to do with my night."
Max looked up sharply.
"What's the matter? You have a date or something?"
She resisted the urge to flinch as soon as the words left her mouth. It was just to close to…everything.
"Why," Alec asked, "Logan making pasta again, and you want to double up?"
Max's jaw clenched.
"Logan and I aren't together anymore, you know that."
"We're not," Max insisted. And this time…maybe for the first time, she meant it. But Alec didn't believe her.
"Uh-huh, and that's why you two stare longingly at each other all the time."
"At least we don't make the people around us sick because we can't stop flirting for more than five minutes!" she growled back, bristling.
"You got something against having fun? Oh, right, sorry, forgot who I was talking to."
"You never take things seriously!"
"You'd be surprised. I take a lot of things seriously."
"Like what? Chasing anything in a skirt?"
"I seem to remember you wearing a skirt, Max. I didn't chase you."
Alec's voice was cold, and Max felt something inside her snap.
"No, you were already busy with Teresa! 'Oh, Alec, you're such a big, strong man!'" she mocked.
"What does Teresa have to do with this?!" he demanded. Then his eyes narrowed. "Or are you jealous?"
It was too close to the truth, and Max clenched her fists at her sides.
"Jealous?" she scoffed. "Of what?! That kiss?! Please! We kissed, too, remember?! And trust me, there's nothing to be jealous of!"
Alec moved forward suddenly, his hands slamming on the desk, his face inches from hers.
"Yeah, Max, you and I kissed! But 'we were following a script,' remember?!" he sneered.
"You're the one who said it didn't mean anything!" she yelled back.
"You said it first!"
They both froze, staring at each other.
Max's own words replayed in her mind.
"We were following a script, Alec. That was all. It didn't mean anything."
Alec was right…she had said it first. But…but Teresa had… and Alec didn't…he couldn't…
Max watched as Alec sighed, and pushed himself away from the desk -- away from her. He ran a hand through his hair, his shoulders slumping, the last of his anger fading.
"Look," he started, his voice soft, almost weary, "it…it did mean something, okay? To me, anyway. But I know you don't want it to mean anything…so we can just forget it. I'll meet you tonight for the recon, and-"
Max finally managed to force something past the lump her throat.
Alec blinked, frowning.
Max swallowed hard.
"I don't want to forget it."
Alec froze again, his body suddenly, utterly still, his eyes wide. Any other time, it might have been funny.
Max shook her head.
Silence fell, and Max waited, her heart pounding in her ears. She almost thought she could hear Alec's too.
"What about Logan?" he asked finally, hoarsely.
Max looked away, biting her lip.
"I'll always care about him, but…I don't think I love him, not like that. Not like he wants me to. Maybe I did once…or could have, but things are different now."
"So, where…where does that leave us?"
Max forced herself to meet his eyes.
"Is there an us?"
Alec held her gaze.
"Do you want there to be?"
Max couldn't answer.
"What about Teresa?" she asked instead.
Alec smirked faintly.
"She didn't even give me her phone number. Seemed to think I was interested in someone else."
Max swallowed hard, and her gaze fell on his mouth.
She thought of missed opportunities, possibilities, and a chance for happiness. And just before her brain caught up with the rest of her, she walked from behind her desk and closed the distance between them, letting her lips brush his.
The kiss was hesitant at first, but then Alec seemed to realize what was happening and pulled her closer. Max wrapped her arms around his neck, and felt the world fall away, like it had on the set.
Warmth ran from her head to her toes, racing along her nerves, and she let her hands tangle in his hair, her fingers unconsciously brushing his barcode.
When they finally pulled apart, Max opened her eyes to find herself staring into his, a mix of hazel and gold that reflected the light.
"So," Alec said finally, still a little breathless, "does this mean if I ask you out, you'll say yes?"
Max pretended to think for a minute.
"Depends. Where would we go?"
"How 'bout a movie?"
A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who's been reading and especially the reviewers. There are so many of you who've reviewed every chapter, and your reviews have made me smile and really encouraged me!
A/N2: I am working on a one-shot sequel, though I'm not quite sure when it will be up yet. The story will be set a couple months after Movie Magic. :)
I also have another DA multi-chapter fic in the works, and a few other DA pieces I'm hoping to post soon. If you enjoyed this one, I hope you'll check those out too. :)
Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think!
Take care and God bless!