Walking Wounded

Disclaimer: I claim no rights to Dark Angel, or any of the characters you find here.

Spoilers: Set one month after the events of Exit Strategy, which included spoilers for the entire series.

For those just joining us, here's a quickie synopsis of Exit Strategy. (Though I strongly recommend reading the story itself.)

Two weeks into the siege, Sketchy got a nosebleed, attributed to the toxins in TC. He, along with Logan and OC, decided to leave, or risk further exposure. Everyone and their mother got involved, including Alec, who just so happened to have a super secret exit strategy, Code Name "Operation Doggy Door", ready and waiting for such an occasion. Unfortunately, Alec had been suffering from mysterious seizures since being shot at Jam Pony, and really wasn't up for secret ops. He insisted on leading the entourage anyway, and then surprised everyone by rendezvousing with Special Agent Otto Gottlieb once outside TC. Alec and Otto admitted to buddying up weeks ago to conspire against White. After sending the ordinaries on their way and heading back to TC, Alec began hallucinating. He doubled back to take out Otto, who he believed to be in league with White. Meanwhile, Luke and Dix found the reason for Alec's seizures in his old Manticore file, and freaked out accordingly. Luke and Dalton left TC to track Alec down, via a GPS chip he was carrying. They reached him just as Alec was attacking Otto. Still hallucinating and delusional, Alec then shot Dalton, thinking he was White. From there the ordinaries fled, and Gem and Joshua carried an injured Dalton back to TC. While trying to access another outside entrance, Max, Mole, Luke and Alec were attacked by White, whom Alec antagonized to the point of almost being beaten to death. Right as he was preparing to shoot Alec, the Seattle PD showed up and killed White. The transgenics carried Alec back into TC, as his symptoms were rapidly degenerating. Luke explained that Manticore had outfitted Alec with an implant after the Berrisford mission. When triggered, it would release a toxin into Alec's blood stream that would slowly kill him, and for which there is no known cure. Alec knew about the implant and, knowing he was dying, purposefully staged the confrontation with White to create good press for the transgenics. He also built a relationship with Detective Clemente, and a reporter, Melissa Bycroft, who would run unbiased reports on the transgenics. Overwhelmed by the sudden downturn in Alec's illness, Max fled the infirmary for Command, where she had a confrontation with Mole. The story ended with the two sadly coming to terms with Alec's imminent death, when Colonel Lydecker made an appearance in TC, claiming to have the cure.

Chapter 1: Back in the Fray

One month after White's attack on Alec, Sketchy got a nosebleed. It was his first since leaving Terminal City.

Of course, he wasn't dying from exposure to lethal toxins this time around. This nosebleed was the result of a fist to the face, just as God intended. He may even have deserved it. Not that he would ever tell Original Cindy that.

"Okay, I deserved that."

Or maybe he would.

"Damn right you did! You think you can drag your scraggly ass into my home, in the middle of the damn night, and interrupt my sleep, just to pitch me some crack pot scheme of yours?" Cindy asked, eyes fixed on his bloody face.

"Is this feeling like déjà vu to either of you?"

Sketchy watched as Cindy jumped back and scrambled for the edges of her robe. He hopped through the doorway into the apartment and headed into the small kitchen, Logan following behind him.

"Hey OC." Logan greeted Cindy quietly. Sketchy caught them hugging out of the corner of his eye as he turned away from the fridge, carrying a handful of ice and small towel.

"Hey now, why'd he get to cuddle, and I get the violent outbursts?" Sketchy asked, as he wiped the last remnants of blood away and held the wrapped ice to his face. Cindy advanced on him threateningly, while Logan shook his head in amusement.

"You better be glad that little love tap is all you got! You know Original Cindy don't suffer no fools, and this little stunt you're planning has fool written all over it."

"So, I take it you told her our plan?" Logan asked, still looking amused. Sketchy caught a small gasp in his throat, and watched as OC pivoted in Logan's direction, her lip curling in anger.

Though Logan had known both Sketchy and Original Cindy for several years now, their relationships had mostly revolved around one common denominator, Max. Then came the siege, and the flight from Terminal City and, well, you know what they say about bonding over shared trauma. Now, the three of them were building friendships of their own, independent of Max. But two years of shared history didn't translate into knowing someone, and Logan and Cindy still managed to get their wires crossed from time to time. Like now. Sketchy settled back against the fridge, and tried to hide a growing smirk behind his hand, still holding the ice.

"Our plan? You mean to tell me you two fools are working together on this?!"

Sketchy watched as the color slowly crept off Logan's face, could almost hear his mind scrambling for a suitable explanation. He managed one stuttered sigh before Cindy continued.

"'Rise and Shine, OC!' he says 'We're gonna sneak back into Terminal City!' Like the damn place isn't surrounded by half the city's police, and the National Guard! Like we can just walk past the barricade, easy as lying. "

"Now OC…" Logan tried to regain some control, causing Sketchy to emit a small, but audible, laugh. Cindy took a step back, so she could glare at the pair of them equally.

"Oh you laugh it up, boo. You forgetting the last time the three of us shacked up in TC? Ended with us fleeing for our lives?"

"A visit." Sketchy replied, sliding into the gap in OC's tirade, like a game of Double Dutch. "Just a visit. The barricade clears out in two days, and we figured our transgenic brethren could use a little moral support."

"I've been talking to Luke and Dix, I know they could use the help." Logan added. "And Melissa Bycroft is going into the city for a press exclusive tomorrow. I'm sure she'd like a few more familiar faces around."

Sketchy nodded his agreement, trying his best to look innocent and encouraging. He could tell OC's resistance was starting to crumble. Either that, or she was planning on which eye she wanted to blacken, to go with his tender nose.

"Fine," Cindy replied after several long moments, "and what does Max have to say about this little 'visit'?"

"Nothing," Logan answered, "as far as I know, she doesn't know anything about it."

"Mole cleared it." Sketchy added quickly. "And he said they're trying another treatment, so we could be there, for that…"

The three friends took a moment to avoid eye contact and shift uncomfortably at his mention of Alec. One month had passed and, even with Lydecker and his creepy government contacts, Alec slept. The doctors claimed the poison that had been released into his system was long gone, claimed they could find no reason for the coma he had fallen into. Nonetheless, they continued to pump his latent body with drugs, hoping for some response. Like hope would wake him up, make him well. Sketchy shuddered at the memory of Alec's seizing body, tried to picture him quiet and still. Unfortunately, that image was just as frightening. Then Cindy spoke, and snapped him from his reverie.

"What kind of plan are we talking about here?"

"No sneaking," Logan replied, looking from Cindy to Sketchy and back again, "we just won't be going through the main entrance."

"The sewers?" Cindy asked, mouth curling up slightly in disgust. Sketchy nodded.

"Agent Otto will help us to the entrance, then the big dog will take us from there."

Cindy's face softened, no doubt thinking of Joshua, just as Sketchy intended. He could see the moment they'd won her over, and wasn't surprised when she barked out orders to him and Logan to stay put while she changed out of her bedclothes for more sewer appropriate clothing. Logan met his eyes as she slid out of the room.

"Well, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be."

Sketchy laughed, and reached out to tap the man on the back.

"Looks like it's back into the breach, my friend."

So, here's the first chapter. I know it's a tiny one, but the rest will be longer. I'm planning on about one a week. Let me know what you think.

And a Happy Belated Birthday to XgreeneyedelfX. Thanks for the encouragement.