Spoilers:  Everything's fair game.  Timeline is somewhere in Season 3, which, as it looks right now, will air only in our imaginations.

Summary:  What's harder than losing someone you care about to a casualty of war?  How about losing them to the other side.  M/A

Disclaimer:  Don't own Dark Angel or any familiar characters.

A/N:  Okay, here it is, my second major M/A project.  It's a bit dark… and by a bit, I actually mean a lot.  Anywho, don't expect an update until I finish "Friction".  I just got the idea and felt too inspired to put it off until then.

Opening Cages


He supposed if he'd thought about it—really, really thought about it—he wouldn't have been surprised that this was how it would end.  After all, searching back through his mind for the memory of their first encounter, he realized that from the very beginning, she had caused him pain.  Back then, both with the well placed kick to his abdomen, and the blow to his ego as she described the very thought of copulation with him as "sick".

Sick?!  If ever he'd had a reason to doubt her sanity—that was it.

But ego-humbling aside, it was another, altogether different, strike to the stomach that finally brought him down, after his two decades—plus some—of nitty-gritty, tooth-and-nail fight for survival.  And not a kick this time, but a bullet.  And damn if a bullet didn't hurt more than Max's foot.

But it was a bullet that would never have struck its target had he never gotten involved with her and her cursed crusade in the first place.  A bullet that never even would have been directed at him if it weren't for her and his insane desire to please her, to do "right" by her.

Not for the first time in the past nine months, Alec wished that night when Manticore burned down he'd just counted his blessings and walked away.  Left the state, left the country—left the rogue X5-452.  But no, like the fucking moron that he was, he had to come back.  Again, and again, just like the bloody stupid cat from the bloody stupid song, never taking the hint that he wasn't even wanted.

And not for the first time in the past nine months, Alec blamed her for his less than ideal situation.  She had to be the one to instill a conscience in him.  Like he couldn't have lived his life—well, not happy, but definitely content, alive and content—in ignorance without one.  She had to teach him, not only what it meant to "do the right thing", but what it felt like to live with the knowledge that he had failed to do so.  She had to keep him coming back for more, like some masochistic lovesick fool—which he wasn't, and don't you even consider thinking that he was.

Masochistic: maybe.

A fool: almost definitely.

But never lovesick.  Never, on your fucking life, lovesick.

Oh for Christ's sake, when had his life become so wrapped up in Max that even at a moment like this, she was all he could think about?

The road to hell was paved with good intentions… her good intentions, and his hell.

What would become of her without him?  Who would look after her, protect her from White and his breeding cult cronies?  Who would make those smart little comments that managed to irritate her while also making her smile, and always achieved their goal of pulling her out of her dark mood when things started getting a little too heavy?

Would she miss him?  Would she cry at the funeral?  Would there be a funeral?

If there was, he hoped she wouldn't wear black.  She already spent too much time in that color, it'd be nice for her to be in something else for a change.  Red, maybe.  God, he bet she'd look good in red.  Especially tight, little, and red—with a short skirt.

They were inane thoughts, one might have thought, even inappropriate, considering the circumstances.  But what would have been better?  The realization of how cold the pavement felt at his back?  And knowing that maybe it wasn't the pavement; maybe it was just him, as his body slipped into numbness, and the inevitable blackness loomed ahead.

Or the fact that the sticky substance that coated his grasping hands, soaked his shirt and gathered in a puddle on the ground around him, was his blood, the essence of his life, slipping away from him faster than he'd care to comprehend.

Or maybe not that at all, but instead his failed mission, and the five lives lost under his command, due to his own deficient leadership.  Two of them only X6's—just kids.  And those that did make it, and thus—by some cruel twist of fate—landed in White's eager clutches, would probably shortly come to envy their fallen comrades.

Those, he had failed more than anyone else.

No, it was better just to think of her—her, the uberbitch, with her tough-as-nails cover-up act.  And hypocritical too, her being a thief and then criticizing him for his on-off involvement in the less than upstanding activities of the seedier underbelly of the already seedy city of Seattle.  The way she expected him to live up to the level of humanity she had achieved over eleven years on the outside—and he only a few months into his own emancipation.  And the way she looked so disappointed whenever he didn't.  The way it pained him to see that expression when he did fall short of her expectations.  The way she'd smile at him when he did good, and how he always strove so hard to do so, because he wanted those smiles.  He needed those smiles.  They were addictive, like a drug, and once he'd had one, he couldn't help but keep coming back, again and again, in hopes of finding more…

Oh shit.  He was a fool.




And now he knew, and now it was too late.

Here he was, a fallen soldier in the midst of the battlefield.  Alone, cold and—if he really dug down deep enough, through the layers of protective indifference and beyond—afraid.  God, so fucking afraid.

This was not how he'd wanted to die.

But he supposed if he'd thought about it—really, really thought about it—it was exactly how he'd expected to.

-end prologue-

A/A/N:  Now, before you all go forming a mob, gathering your pitchforks and torches, and coming after me for "killing off" Alec, let me just say this—reread the description in the summary!  There can be no M/A if the A is dead.  Well, there can, but that'd just be nasty…