?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
14 April 2008 @ 03:10 pm
Take These Lies (And Make Them True Somehow) [Dark Angel; Max/Alec]  
title: Take These Lies (And Make Them True Somehow)
author: victoria p. [musesfool]
summary: It's probably not the healthiest relationship ever, but it works for them.
fandom: Dark Angel
pairing: Max/Alec
rating: R
notes: Thanks to the merryish and laurificus for betaing.
original story: meredevachon's Love in Question drabble series.
word count: 3,470 words

~*~

Take These Lies (And Make Them True Somehow)

Alec is rarely surprised--he doesn't like surprises; surprises get you killed--but even he doesn't expect the voice on the other end of the line when he answers the phone.

"494, I have a mission for you."

Part of him wants to snap to attention, bark out, "Sir, yes, sir," take the orders, and let someone else sweat the details. Sometimes, he misses the black and white morality of Manticore, the knowledge that it was above his pay grade to question whether the mission was right or wrong--if the idea ever even occurred to him at all. They pointed him at a target and let him loose and, before Rachel, he'd done the job, with no more qualms about it than the gun or the knife he'd used to get it done. But he pushes that down, keeps his voice low and reasonably polite. "My name is Alec," he says, "and I don't do that anymore." He bites down on the "sir" before it can escape.

"Alec." Lydecker sounds amused. "Did you pick that out yourself?" There's a long pause, but Alec doesn't give him the satisfaction of an answer. Lydecker sighs and moves on. "This is an acquisition, not wetworks."

"Acquisition?"

"I understand you're in the business of procuring things for people."

Alec laughs, something he never would have done in his Manticore days, and it feels oddly good. "That's one way of putting it, yeah."

"Well, there's some information I need retrieved. I'm willing to pay handsomely for it."

As intriguing as that sounds, Alec says, "I don't think there's enough money in the world for this to be a good idea."

"I can give you the cure for Max's virus."

Alec takes a deep, silent breath, holds it for a few seconds, and lets the silence stretch long past awkward. He can hear Lydecker breathing at the other end, knows Lydecker knows he's still there, though neither of them speaks for what feels like forever.

Alec doesn't make promises--not to other people, and not to himself. That way, he doesn't have to worry about breaking them. Max makes him want to make promises, and that scares him more than anything Lydecker or White or Manticore could throw at him. And with Max, he doesn't mind the fear so much, knows she's just as scared as he is, and of all the same things--the Familiars, the government, failure. Commitment.

He can eliminate at least two of those fears with the cure. She'll leave him and he'll leave Terminal City, a free man at last. When he looks at it like that, he can almost convince himself it's not going to hurt (much).

He's always had a gift for self-deception.

Finally, he says, "I'm listening."

*

Two nights later, Lydecker's mission goes off without a hitch--a rare occurrence in Alec's world these days, and it should be a welcome one. He wishes the satisfaction at getting the job done (and done well) was enough. He remembers when it would have been. He won't admit, even to himself, that he was kind of hoping things would go sideways. That he could tell Max he'd tried, but it hadn't worked out, and the cure was lost. He's pretty sure he could live with the guilt, since he's been living with it the past couple of years anyway. Sometimes, he still feels bad about how that went down, especially when he catches Max with that sad look in her eyes.

But instead of coming home empty-handed, he's got the cure in his pocket, the happy new beginning for Max's fairy tale romance, and the sad ending for his.

He delays going home for as long as he can, goes to the command center instead, helps Mole deal with the latest breach in security, and hangs around making a nuisance of himself until Mole starts asking awkward questions about Max. He laughs when Alec won't answer.

Alec doesn't sneak into the small apartment he and Max share; if she's there, she won't ask where he's been, and if she's not, well, he won't ask either. He doesn't ask about Logan and she doesn't ask where the money comes from when Terminal City needs an emergency cash infusion.

"Hey," she says, looking up from the laptop. There are shadows under her eyes these days, her face tight with worry and frustration--for the world, for her family, for him. She must see some of it reflected in his face, because she says, "Rough night?"

He shrugs, tells her as much of the truth as he can. "Couple of protesters jumped the fence, nothing we couldn't handle. Mole wanted to set them on fire--"

"Alec--"

"--but Dix and I talked him down. We handed them back over to the National Guard, safe and sound, if a little bruised around the edges."

"Alec." Less a warning this time than a plea for reassurance, and he wishes there was something he could do to make this better, easier, for her that didn't include making himself miserable in the process.

He runs a hand through his hair, decides he doesn't want to have this argument again, mostly because they both know he's right, and they both know it doesn't mean a damn thing in the end--they'll be as guilty in the eyes of the world for defending their own as they would be if they'd launched the attack themselves.

Instead, he puts his hands on her shoulders, squeezes tight, thumbs tracing over the smooth skin bared by her tank top. She relaxes into the touch, but it'll take a lot more than a quick massage to loosen the knots in her shoulders--she's carrying the world on them, and she won't let him take some of the weight.

He leans forward, nuzzles the curve of her skull, breathes in the scent of cheap shampoo and sweat. He presses a kiss to the nape of her neck, opens his mouth to lick at the dark lines of her barcode, tasting salt and soap.

She twists in the chair, twines her arms around his neck and kisses him, open-mouthed and hungry. He can taste stale coffee and teriyaki sauce on her tongue. He straightens and she rises with him, wraps her legs around his hips and lets him carry her into the bedroom.

This is the one place--the one way--he knows how to make her happy. Their relationship might have repeatedly gotten off on the wrong foot (might be nothing but a series of wrong feet, which is an image that makes him laugh when he thinks of it), and it might be based on a lie she told Logan, but when she went into heat during the second month of the siege, she'd come to him to scratch the itch, and then just never left. (The fact that he's got one of the few working water heaters in Terminal City is probably more responsible for that than the sex--though the sex is pretty awesome, if he does say so himself, and he does, quite often--but he ignores that. He's always been good at shaping reality to his needs.) When he's moving inside her, it's as honest as he ever gets, and he likes to think she's being honest here, too, telling the truth in the clench of her cunt around him, the scrape of her nails down his back, the soft moans she makes as she comes.

He kisses her gently, tenderly, when they're done, and lets himself slide into sleep with her curled up at his side. He tries not to think of it as saying goodbye.

*

Max is gone when Alec wakes up, but that's expected, doesn't mean anything. He's never believed in signs and omens, never looked for some kind of deeper meaning (maybe that's why he's still sane and Ben...wasn't), and he's not going to start now.

He tracks her down at the command center, pulls her into the converted closet she calls an office, and shuts the door behind them.

She looks up at him with an amused quirk of her mouth, swats his chest half-heartedly, no real force behind it. "I have work to do, and so do you. If you wait an hour, I can take an early lunch." Her mouth curves into a full smile now, flirtatious, promising good things to those who wait, temptation as ripe as any apple Eve ever offered Adam.

He wants to give in, lean in and kiss her, but he doesn't, just reaches into his pocket and pulls out the box containing the vial.

"Happy birthday." He holds the box out to her, afraid she won't take it, and even more afraid she will.

"What?" She blinks in confusion, smile fading fast.

He offers the box again. "I got you a present." He shrugs a shoulder. "Do you have a birthday picked out already? 'Cause if not, today might be a good choice." He nods at the box, puts it in her hand and closes her fingers around it when she won't take it.

She looks up at him, puzzled, and he does kiss her now, tenderly, the soft heat of her mouth waking an answering heat inside him he forces himself to ignore.

"Goodbye, Max."

It sounds real, final, when he says it out loud. He leaves before he takes it back, feeling the heavy weight of her shocked stare between his shoulders as he walks away.

*

Alec is sorting through the dirty laundry when Max storms into the building and up the stairs; she makes no effort to hide how angry she is, and he has to bite back a laugh that's more bewildered than bitter.

"What the hell are you doing?" she asks, slamming him back against the wall, hands fisted in his shirt, nothing gentle or joking about it now.

"Laundry?" He doesn't mean to make it a question, but that's how it comes out.

"I mean this." She shoves the box at his face. "And saying goodbye? Seriously?"

"Oh, that."

"Goddammit, Alec, where did this come from?"

"Got a call from our old buddy Lydecker. He had a job that needed doing, and he offered the cure as payment."

"A job?" He's surprised she latches onto that rather than the cure. He doesn't like that this scene isn't going the way he expected. That it's happening at all, really. "Alec, what did you do?" She holds his gaze. "Whatever it was, it wasn't worth it."

"You need to stop freaking out, Max. I didn't--whatever you think I did, I didn't." His mouth twists, because of course she's jumping to the wrong conclusions. He should have expected that. Same old Alec. Same old Max. "It was just a smash and grab job, some data he needed from one of the biomedical firms out in sector ten. I made a copy for our files. Dix is sorting through it."

"You could have been hurt, captured, killed." She shakes her head, hits him again, and her fingers are trembling. He resists the urge to grab them and hold on until the shaking stops. "You didn't tell anyone where you were going. Anything could have happened and I'd--we'd never have known."

"I wanted to surprise you."

"I hate surprises."

He gives a short bark of laughter. "I know."

She steps back, stands down, confusion and disbelief on her face chasing away the anger. "This is really the cure?"

"So the good colonel assures me," he answers, keeping his voice light, casual. "I'd still have it tested first, 'cause I wouldn't trust Lydecker as far as I could throw him--which would be pretty far, actually, with the right motivation--but then you're home free. You and Logan can finally live the dream."

"Me and Logan are none of your business."

"Yeah," he says, shouldering his bag of dirty laundry. "I know."

"Alec, I--" She bites her lip, looks stricken. "I--"

He thinks about letting her twist in the wind, apology unspoken on her tongue, but he can't do it. "Look," he says, "test it, and if it's the real deal, take it."

"Alec--"

He cuts her off with a kiss, fierce this time, desperate, his hands coming up to cup the soft, smooth skin of her face as his tongue pushes past her lips. She opens to him easily, melts against him and sighs into his mouth, as if he's stolen all the angry words from her tongue. He feels a brief thrill of triumph that he can do this to her (he ignores that she does the same to him, every time), cut short when she shoves him away.

"Do it, or I'm leaving for real." He doesn't wait for an answer.

*

It's a little early in the day to start drinking, but Alec's going to need a lot of liquor to ease this pain--self-inflicted though it is. It's a good thing he knows all the best hole-in-the-wall bars where no one asks any questions and there are always two or three men--old and worn before their time--hunched over the scarred wood bar, smudged glasses of cheap whiskey in hand. He's not reckless--he keeps his collar up and his head down--and once he puts his money down on the bar, the bartender keeps his glass full. He just needs to get away for a little while, figure out what to do next.

He doesn't stay in any one place too long, doesn't want to be recognized when he doesn't get drunk, doesn't sway and slur after his fifth glass of scotch; he moves from bar to bar and thinks about how not following that plan, how staying in Seattle, staying with Max, is what got him into this mess in the first place.

He meanders from bar to bar, stumbling out into the misty afternoon and squinting up at the overcast, one hand shielding his eyes from the brightness, moving closer and closer to his destination.

Original Cindy isn't home when he arrives, but the locks on her door wouldn't keep him out even if he didn't have a key.

He finds a bottle of red wine in the cabinet over the stove, drinks it straight from the bottle, grimacing at the acidic taste, more vinegar than wine at this point, not one of Logan's expensive pre-pulse vintages. He still drinks it, though, trying to hang onto the low-level buzz that mutes the pain. He's down to the last few sips and contemplating running out for more when Cindy finally gets home.

"What'd you do now?" she asks, taking one look at him and shaking her head in exasperation mixed with sympathy.

He takes a long swig of wine, licks the last sour drops of it off his lips. "Gave Max the cure."

"And she gave you the boot for Logan?" Cindy raises a skeptical eyebrow. "I don't believe it."

He shrugs. "I kind of didn't give her the choice."

Cindy reaches out, plucks the nearly empty bottle from his hand, and gives him a smack to the back of the head. "Your fine transgenic ass has had enough to drink today. What made you think that was a good plan?"

Another shrug. "Was gonna happen anyway. At least this way, I had some control over it."

She hits him again. If he hadn't figured it out before, he'd know now why she and Max are best friends. "I swear, for someone who's supposedly a genius, you are too stupid to live."

Her phone rings before he can do more than nod in agreement. "Hey, boo, what's wrong?" she says, and he stiffens, ready to flee. She glares him back down into his seat, making comforting noises into the phone at the same time, and he thinks the drill instructors at Manticore could have learned a thing or two from Original Cindy. She goes into the bedroom, and he can hear the hum of Max's voice but can't make out the words--she's talking fast and low, and things are still a little fuzzy from the wine.

"Well," Cindy says finally, "maybe Alec needs to know you're with him for him, not 'cause you can't be with Logan." He looks up at that, stupidly hopeful, and strains to hear what Max is saying, but she must be whispering, because he can't. "Yeah, oh," Cindy says, and even though he can't see her, he can hear the epic eye-roll in her voice. She comes back into the kitchen and points the slim phone at him, exasperated look on her face. "Boy, you best get your ass home to my boo, you hear?"

"Yes, ma'am." He tosses off a salute that's only mostly sarcastic, and pretends not to be pleased when she gives him a tight hug before sending him on his way.

He doesn't go home, though. Not yet.

*

His phone rings a few times, but it's not Max, so he doesn't answer. He goes to Sketchy's, and they spend the night watching bad porn from Sketchy's extensive collection.

In the morning, he checks his messages: an increasingly-irritated Mole curses him out because Max is in a bad mood and nobody wants to deal with her; Cindy sucks her teeth and repeats that he's too stupid to live and she's gonna have to kick his ass if he doesn't go home; and finally, Joshua asks why he's not happy the virus bitch is gone.

He sighs and wonders when he turned into that guy, the one who has friends and responsibilities, the one who sends his girlfriend back to her ex because it'll make her happy, instead of trying to make her happy himself. He remembers telling Max once that they weren't designed to be chumps, and he thinks maybe they were, after all, if he's anything to go by.

*

Max is sitting in the living room, poring over a set of blueprints, when he comes home.

"We're running out of antibiotics," she says, "and we're dangerously low on tryptophan."

"Okay." He shoves his hands in his pockets, curls his fingers around his keys, waiting to see where she's going with this.

"This is the Glaxo warehouse." She taps the blueprints on the table in front of her. "They deliver supplies to Northwest and Harbor Lights every Tuesday."

He takes off his jacket and sits down next to her, breathing in the scent of her hair, her skin. His mouth is a little dry and his voice is a little hoarse when he says, "I thought we only stole from bad guys."

"Until we can arrange to legally purchase what we need, we're occasionally going to have to get our hands dirty." She looks at him then, her eyes wide and wary. "And the drug companies are wealthy enough to restock pretty quickly." She tucks her hair behind her ear. "It cuts out the middle-man, and doesn't cost us anything."

Except a few nights' sleep and a guilty conscience, but she doesn't have to say that; it's a price they're both willing to pay.

"Okay." He looks at the blueprints. "So we're gonna hit the warehouse instead of the delivery truck?"

She nods. "Less chance of civilian casualties." She puts a hand on his arm. "It's a two-man job."

He studies the blueprints, even though he's already got a good idea of what the best plan of attack will be. "Yeah."

"Alec--" She moves her hand from his arm to his cheek. Possibly it's the most gentle she's ever been with him. "You're gonna make me say it, aren't you?"

His mouth curves in a half-smile. "Yeah, I think I am."

"I don't want anyone but you watching my back. Dumbass."

He gives her a full-on grin at the insult, then gets serious again. "Logan?"

She sighs. "It's never not gonna be complicated with Logan, but--" she huffs a small laugh "--we're not like that. I mean, I'm glad that I don't have to worry anymore about killing him if I get too close--and thank you for that, by the way, even if you better not ever do anything that stupid again, or I'll kick your ass--but me and Logan, we're really not like that anymore." Another shrug, and then she's sliding a leg over to straddle him, knees sinking into the threadbare cushions beside his thighs. "And you and me? We are."

She sounds a little hesitant, though, like she's checking to make sure, so he puts a hand on her hip, uses the other to brush the hair off her face and pull her close for a kiss. "Yeah," he says, mouth so close to hers that they're breathing the same air. He relaxes for the first time since Lydecker called. "We are."

end

~*~
 
 
 
The Teasemastertinylegacies on April 20th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
Now see, you had to go and make me kind of like the idea of Max/Alec when I've always considered myself a Max/Logan gal.

I love your Alec voice though; I can totally see him doing that.
peeps wanna see peeps boink: sow a little tendernessmusesfool on April 28th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it, even if -- especially if -- you're not generally into Max/Alec.
autumn: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!failing_light on April 21st, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
Loved this! I like that Alec's trying to give Max what she wants, even though it's not what he wants (and without checking to make sure that it actually *is* what she wants), while Max avoids actually saying what she wants until she's practically forced into it. That seems to very accurately reflect the dysfunction of their relationship :)

A great expansion/interpretation of the original!
peeps wanna see peeps boink: give me a reason to love youmusesfool on April 28th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And yeah, I think the two of them are never going to be much for talking about their feelings unless forced into it, and even then, they'll sort of do it in code.
(Deleted comment)
peeps wanna see peeps boink: give me a reason to love youmusesfool on April 28th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so happy you liked it, and thought it fit with your original drabbles.
tigerpinkytigerpinky on April 21st, 2008 09:05 am (UTC)
Was meant to be :)
peeps wanna see peeps boink: give me a reason to love youmusesfool on April 28th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
Hee! I think so. *g* Thanks.
soundingsea: da - alec - scotchsoundingsea on April 26th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Oh, do I ever adore this. Fabulous.
peeps wanna see peeps boink: come correctmusesfool on April 28th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
giandujakissgiandujakiss on April 26th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is wonderful! Thank you!
peeps wanna see peeps boink: sow a little tendernessmusesfool on April 28th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
rkrosekay on May 2nd, 2008 07:38 am (UTC)
Wow, just SOLD on this as a legitimate, happy pairing in the first few sentences. I love how this develops, Alec's own meandering thoughts and Max's presence. So sweet.
peeps wanna see peeps boink: give me a reason to love youmusesfool on May 5th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so happy it worked for you, and felt true to both Max and Alec.
cathexys: alec1 (by jadeblood)cathexys on May 8th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
That was really lovely, totally in character and voice, and just great tension that comes from the characters without artificially making them behave stupidly just for drama's sake...

peeps wanna see peeps boink: give me a reason to love youmusesfool on May 8th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so happy you liked it and thought it was true to both of them.
Jamie: Dean|Serious/Sexy Facejensenlover89 on January 23rd, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
Aww this was so great! I LOVED IT! Too bad the show didn't end this way!!
peeps wanna see peeps boink: give me a reason to love youmusesfool on January 23rd, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Thank you!