Blood Brothers

by Jessie

Summary: Alec contemplates his connection to Ben and what it all might mean.

Rating: R (for occasional language)

Spoilers: General spoilers up until "Dawg Day Afternoon," though more specifically for "Designate This" and "The Berrisford Agenda."

Disclaimer: "Dark Angel," its characters and situations do not belong to me. No copyright infringement is intended. No money is being made from this story.

Author's Note: Just wanted to mention that I really did not mean to write this story. And that's not to say that I was walking along, tripped over a keyboard, and out this thing came. What I mean is that I've only seen a few episodes of "Dark Angel" and I had promised myself that I would, under no circumstances, write fanfic for it. Except the idea for this story wouldn't leave me alone. And, really, who can say no to Alec?

Anyway, I hope every one enjoys the story, despite my hesitation over it. And feedback would mean the world to me.

***

"Ben?"

"What?"

"You look like someone I used to know."

"Well, my designation's 494."

"His was 493. You must be twinned."

"493...Your fellow traitor. Went psycho."

"What do you know about it?"

"I know that because of him I had to spend six months in psy-ops. They wanted to make sure it wasn't genetic. Looks like ten years in the world finally got to him."

"It was this place that got to him."

-'Designate This'

*

"You're all right?"

"I'm always all right."

-'The Berrisford Agenda'

*

They'd been afraid that it was genetic. Some imperfection in all of that supposedly perfect DNA. Made-in-America, and all that, so of course they had to check. Had to make sure that it wasn't any sort of mistake on their part. A flaw in the design they'd worked so hard to create. It had to have been a fluke. Just the one case. Just the one. But they had checked him out anyway.

He still wondered about it. Still worried and paced and couldn't help thinking about the remote possibility that they'd missed something. That whatever genetic code it was that made a man kill in cold blood had managed to elude them for those six months when they'd poked and prodded him until absolutely certain.

Because what if it had eluded them? What if there really was some part of him that they hadn't been able to map out? Some part of him that was just itching to break free, wreak some havoc, make the rest of the world pay for his own raw deal.

What if they'd been wrong? Or worse, what if they'd been right? And there was nothing he could do about it but sit and wait for the moment when DNA would assert itself. When the world- this obscene place that he knew he had no right to live in- would finally be just a little too much to bear.

It had been too much for the others. What could possibly make him any different?

So of course he still worried. But he'd be damned if he was ever going to admit it. Always all right, that was him. Forever all right. Never anything but "all right." He'd been trained and he'd been engineered and it absolutely scared the shit out of him to think that they had made a mistake. So much room for error and there he'd been, cocky enough to think that whatever happened he'd still be that perfect man-made machine.

But then they'd sent for him. And he'd spent half a year in a cell that wasn't his, the back of his mind full of panic over what they might find in all of their testing. And what they might do to him afterwards.

And now, here he was. Out in the real world. That same place that had sent his alter ego over the edge. Some kid that he'd never met except in a test tube. Some kid that had decided his fate, because if not for him than where would he be? Who would he be?

What effect had that killer had on everything he'd done?

He lived, and he breathed, and he slept that fear that they were linked by more than just their looks. Maybe there was something more to it. Some inexplicable urge for bloodshed and masochism that had been passed between them just like everything else: their identities, and their friends, and their adversaries. And damn, but his hands were shaking now.

Fuck. He was losing himself in his thoughts again. Pull it together, man. Just... get a grip. Chill. Or any one of those other sayings that he'd been taught in a classroom instead of on the street like everyone else. He wondered if Ben had ever learned such insignificant things as slang and small talk. And yes, he could say his name. Ben. He could crack jokes and do the detached, I'll-only-ever-care-about-myself thing. He could play the part into the ground. But underneath it all he was practically trembling.

What if it *was* genetic? What if the real world really was just a little too much for him to cope with and sooner or later he'd snap?

His hands continued to shake and he thought, suddenly, of Rachel. Hadn't that given him the perfect excuse to break down? And if there was some part of his DNA that wanted him to crack, wouldn't it have made its debut in that moment?

He tried to think of something else. Anything but that explosion of memory that always came to him at the thought of her. Light hands on his skin. Soft lips. The sound of laughter, even softer. As if it might fade away from his memory completely at the smallest shake of his head.

Fire. Death. Pain. What she must have thought in those final seconds of consciousness, and oh, how he had wondered about that one. Wondered if she'd thought of him at all. If she'd thought of her father, and of music, and of all the little things that she'd miss out on. The things that he would get a second chance at, no matter how undeserving he thought himself.

And now that he was in this dark place anyway. Now that the memories were all there despite his protests, and his hands only stopped shaking when holding a glass, he might as well admit to the fact. He might as well just say it now- that if he was ever going to go crazy than why hadn't Rachel's supposed death been large enough a wound to make him do it?- and get it over with.

But maybe his genes were playing at a far more complicated game than that. And maybe Max had been wrong when she'd said that it wasn't the outside world that had destroyed his brother. She'd claimed that it was that place, with its cells and its rules and its unchanging four walls, but he'd never really believed her. It had to have been the outside world that did it. All that raw emotion and suffering, everywhere a person looked. Enough to send any one over the edge. But it hadn't just been any one, had it? It had been Ben.

He began to pace, not liking that so much of him was determined to keep moving when nervous. He wondered if, before death, Ben had been the same way. Always on his feet. Always ready for a fight. Hands stuck down into his coat pockets because otherwise they'd have free reign of the air around him and might never stay still.

He wondered if those scientists that had made him had discovered the gene for this. Or if it had slipped by their sensors like so many other traits.

And he wondered if he'd ever really know for sure whether or not the taste for murder was genetic. If brother's could share more than just a birthday and a face. If little fears, as well as larger ones, were what being on the outside was all about anyway. And so maybe it wasn't just if genes could decide that their time had come, and DNA was allowed to dictate exactly who a person became. What kind of category they'd fall into: Those who made it and Those who didn't.

Maybe he could still decide these things for himself. Maybe he could be "all right" for a little while longer.



End.