Spoilers: 'The Berrisford Agenda' – Everything Alec recalled from that mission did happen.
A/N: This is not so much AU as a splitting of the timeline following the first few episodes of season 1. The M/L relationship is still pretty much platonic, and it's not going to go any further.
494 was anxious, in a way that he hadn't felt for a mission – well, ever before. Every pulse of bass of the music that played through the crowded club seemed to strike the very wrong chord with him. His gaze flitted about far too often, searching the ranks of faces within the room, something he should not have been doing if he wanted to remain inconspicuous – which he did, for the sake of his mission. His heart pounded just a little too fast and he could feel the blood that rushed furiously through his veins.
He was – distracted. And being from Manticore, there was one thing he knew about distractions – they got you killed. Or worse. At the thought of that 'worse', a deep ache claimed his chest, and he was filled with the near overwhelming urge to order something harder than the club soda he was currently nursing.
But he fought them off – the feelings, the thoughts, the distracting sensations within himself – and forced his focus back to the task at hand. He could not afford alcohol and its effects right now. His mind had to remain sharp, and his reflexes at their peak.
The anxiety, he told himself, was just due to the importance of this mission in terms of his future. After all, this was his first assignment since… His first assignment in a year. The first one since his extended visit to Psy Ops, and they were watching him, evaluating him, trying to decide whether he was still 'salvageable'. Not right now, of course, there was no observing during an away mission – but he provided regular, detailed reports, when plausible for him to deliver them, and upon his return he would be thoroughly debriefed. The last report was two days ago; they knew he was in Seattle, that he had tracked the subject down to this location. But they didn't know the rest just yet – where she worked, who were her acquaintances, whether she had contact with any of the other escapees. Well actually, he didn't know that last part yet either, though from everything he'd seen, he was led to believe she did not.
But that didn't matter, not really. His mission was to bring her in, and everything else, superfluous. This would be the last day of observation, he'd decided, and the first opportunity he got to catch her alone and off-guard, he'd sedate her with the tranquilizer gun he'd been provided, and then take her back to Manticore. And then they'd put a nice big checkmark by his name, a good-to-go clearance, so he could be put back on regular rotation and not have to worry about sneezing too hard and being dragged back to Psy Ops for 'further evaluation'. Whatever happened, he was not going back there – not if he could help it.
He raised his glass, sipping the bland liquid, as his idle eyes skimmed over the scene. Then he spotted her, just as she came through the entrance. She had two of her friends with her, a beautiful black woman named Original Cindy – the oddest name he had ever encountered during his limited experiences on the 'outside' – and a blond he had heard referred to as Kendra.
She was stunning, the rogue, 452, but that was no surprise. After all, she was Manticore-made, had the seal of manufacture stamped on the back of her neck, just like him. Thus, when it came to X5's of the opposite gender – and usually, just women in general – that wouldn't even been enough to earn a second look from him.
So why was he looking now?
Because you're doing surveillance, you moron, he told himself. Try that without looking, and you'll figure it out.
But that wasn't entirely true. In fact, if it were for the sake of surveillance, he would have managed to at least be a little more discreet about it. What he was doing was openly staring. Gawking, even.
Fortunately, he wasn't the only one doing so as the lovely brunette sauntered past the entrance and further into the establishment.
Unfortunately – that didn't seem to make him feel any better.
Curly dark hair that flipped about her shoulders with every slight turn of her head; eyes that sparkled with mischief and promises unspoken; thick, lush lips that curved into the most tantalizing smile he'd ever seen, one that hinted at secrets known only to her – secrets he swore he would have been more than willing to kill to get at, though that might not have been saying much, coming from someone who'd been born and bred to such behavior. And that body… He was mesmerized by the sway of her hips, by how unconscious that provocative motion seemed.
Why had he just noticed this all now? Why hadn't he realized the irresistible temptation before him earlier? He'd always known she was beautiful – sexy, even – but he'd never allowed himself to venture any further down that trail of thought.
Those legs, that ass, those –
Before he knew it, he was standing, abandoning both his drink and his discrete post – and only still discrete because there was another, more distracting sight occupying approximately half the patrons' attention in the club at the moment.
What the fuck are you doing?! the voice of reason within his head demanded. Get your ass back into that chair before you're made!
But his legs knew nothing of reason, and they continued to carry him forth to his target, who stood by some brave, but misguided, male who had snagged her in conversation before 494 could make his own arrival. The poor boy didn't have a chance, as the siren before him perused the scene, her disinterest with this potential suitor evident in those magnetic eyes.
Now, was it just 494's imagination, his obviously malfunctioning brain reordering the information processed by his senses to produce distorted observations, or was she searching for something – for someone? And when that russet gaze connected with his, caressed his figure in careful appraisal, and those crimson lips curved into a smile so enticing, he knew there was no way he could turn away now, even if he'd wanted to – didn't she look like she'd found it?
She was facing him fully by the time he reached her, neither having glanced away from the other's face the entire time. The other man had stopped speaking, coming to the realization that he didn't – nor ever did – have the attention of the voluptuous beauty that had consumed his own.
He was crazy, abso-fucking-lutely insane for doing this, for not sticking within the parameters of the mission. And he was going to earn himself another trip to Psy Ops, only this time he probably wouldn't be coming back out.
494 joined the pair, and never once looking away from his target – although he was beginning to think of the word in entirely different terms now – growled a "Beat it."
"Who…?" There was surprise and annoyance in the unwelcome individual's voice, but all it took was one glance in the man's direction to send him scampering away, stumbling over his own feet in his haste.
When 494 turned back to the goddess, he found her regarding him silently, head tilted slightly to one side, a certain sense of expectancy about her.
A name, he realized. She was probably waiting for him to give her a name – as was custom on the outside.
For a furious second, he wracked his brain, before he offered, "David." David Warner, that's what the I.D. in his wallet read. An identity established in the remote possibility that circumstances would require he make contact – which certainly wasn't the case now, he realized, while he also realized that he would have no adequate answer to give his superiors when they questioned him on this break of protocol.
Her response, he knew before she even replied. Or rather, the verbal part he already knew; he did not know she was going to wrap a hand around the back of his neck and pull him down for the most utterly, torturously tantalizing kiss of his life.
Her breathy voice wrapped around his senses, the sweet, honey taste of her lingering on his lips as she pulled away. But it was her scent – that heady aroma she exuded, the one that became more overwhelming when she closed that little distance between them – on which his attention lingered.
And then he knew what was happening to him – to them.
Oh no, not insanity at all. Not a malfunction in his brain. In fact, his brain was functioning and responding perfectly, according to present circumstances. Because he'd placed that scent – not recognized it, but placed it.
452 was in heat.
He'd heard of this, learned about it back at Manticore, but never had he had any personal experience with the phenomenon. In fact, very few male X's had ever been around a female while she was heat. Their cycles were carefully tracked and recorded, and the affected individual was removed and placed in solitary until she resumed control.
They – at Manticore – had feared the effect the females' pheromones would have on the males, and thus adopted very careful procedures for such situations. Most of the males – 494 included – had tended to regard the prospect with great skepticism. After all, what sort of genetically engineered soldier designed and trained to maintain the ultimate sense of self-restraint at all times could let himself suddenly be led astray by his dick and a few measly strands of DNA?
494 raised a hand to rest in 452's dark locks, bringing her forward for a long, thoroughly exploratory kiss that left both X5's breathless when they separated. 452 licked her lower lip in careful deliberation. One hand came up to his chest, lingering just over his pounding heart, and as their heated gazes locked, he resisted the urge to push her onto the nearest table – empty or otherwise – and take her right there.
Apparently, this sort of genetically engineered soldier.
"Yours…" she inquired in a husky voice, drawing up closer against him, "or mine?"
He wrapped his free arm around her waist, pulling her in that last remaining fraction of an inch so both her legs straddled one of his, "Yours."
They shared one more heated kiss, their display drawing the gazes of many, before she pulled away, grabbing his hand while guiding him along as they headed toward the exit. On the way out, they passed her friends, both of whom stared openly at the pair. The blond, Kendra, was the picture of envy as she gaped at the scene before her, while the other woman, Original Cindy, was a little more restrained. She stood, arms crossed over her chest, shaking her head faintly as her friend passed by with the slightest acknowledgement through a sly little smile.
"Two of a kind," the woman muttered, and if it weren't for his enhanced hearing, 494 never would have heard it.
Of course, he thought, with the last remaining portion of his mind not clouded over by desire, she had no idea how right she was.
Nor did 452.
For those of you still waiting on the next part of 'Friction' – it is forthcoming! In fact, it would have been up today, but then I was distracted. Blame me not; blame the muse.