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Title: Take you where you want to go
Author: shallowness
Rating: Teen
Show: Dark Angel
Genre: Angst
Pairing: Max/Alec, Max/Logan (both of sorts)
Type: Stand-alone
Summary: “She’d told herself that she wouldn’t, however bad things got, she wouldn’t run back here again. He could return, look for memories, but she would bury them.”

Disclaimer: Don’t own, only playing. (Except for the walk-on original characters, whom I made up.)
Notes: Takes place following ‘After the Dark’. Thanks to izabelevans and Lusmeitli for originally beta-reading this. All idiocies as mine. 1,648 words. First posted online as ‘Sordid’ in May 2005, revised a decade later.


Take you where you want to go


The post-Pulse economy was a mess, they said - the analysts and the theorists who clung to the old way of doing things. The ones who thought that Wall Street still meant something. But the people on the streets in the cities and the shantytowns hadn’t waited for anyone’s approval to keep alive. They were the ones who had to hustle for their supper, and hustle they did.

So there were still businesses running, the day-businesses that the economists acknowledged and night-businesses that offered a little something extra. People power was what really drove the post-Pulse economy. At night, people were looking for an escape, bodies to watch and something neat to drink and keep their hands busy. All over the ravaged country, cops turned blind eyes or reddened ones, at least. They could afford to.

And in Seattle, Washington, life was no different.

* * *


The two bouncers, former sector cops who’d been lured by a pay rise, stood up straighter as she walked in. No shivering in a long winter coat for her. They hadn’t forgotten her from before, leather jacket, wavy long hair and a no-messing glare that would’ve got her in, even if her petite curvaceous form hadn’t. Yeah, they remembered her. But she paid them no heed, and Joe was left dreaming of the perfect pick-up line to snag a girl like that, while Richie shrugged, philosophical.

Very few people walked in with their heads so high - the club had no pretensions to being a classy establishment. Most of its clientele entered in groups, huddled together for some warmth. They might not leave with the same people, or even in the same dimension, propped up by whatever chemical high they’d grabbed inside. The customers rarely noticed the bouncers as more than part of the furniture either. Unless if there was trouble.

Trouble that that little girl-woman knew only too well. It was in her eyes, and her walk.

Richie shook his head, knowing she hadn’t come into this club for a guy like him. He understood what ‘Look, don’t touch’ meant.

* * *


When he’d walked in, the bar staff had engaged in their usual battle to serve a hot guy. Sissie knew that Granger and Toots were calling her a bitch at least, but she’d made the most of her proximity as the most delicious thing she’d seen all shift slid onto one of the bar-stools. She wondered if he’d been here before, or had just heard rumors about the place. She thought she was on a winning streak when he looked at her cleavage, like he was meant to, but there was nothing in his eyes as he looked a little higher to order a beer, and she felt chilled.

“Wonder how long he’ll be alone there,” Granger whispered as he passed with a cloth to wipe down a part of the bar that needed no attention. Sissie ignored her co-worker and filled the glass. She didn’t want to play the usual games with this customer. Didn’t want to spend the night serving him drinks any more, either. As she put down the glass and left him his change, she decided she was gonna go on her break.

The man didn’t respond to the coins on the bar. All his attention was on the glass in front of him. Reaching out slowly, with much more grace than the action warranted, he clenched his right hand around it, and raised it up, so that the rim caressed his lips. Granger and Toots’ jaws dropped, as their eyes were captured by his Adam’s apple, swallowing the liquid. When they would realize that Sis had abandoned her post, it would be a catfight to serve this guy his next drink. Other customers could wait.

* * *


Some patrons took their time to let their eyes adjust from the orange reception hall to the weird neon lights that left for plenty of dark places inside ‘Club Tropicana’. Then they would look around, finding the suppliers for their particular needs for the night: dancers, bartenders or dealers. She went straight for the bar. Objective alpha acquired.

Granger noticed her coming with an art-appreciator’s eye. Mocha skin, out-of-condition hair, lips that would make his straight brethren beg. Less than three minutes gone and the book about Handsome was closed. Still, Granger was glad he’d spilled the bitter over Tootsie. You never knew...

She pointed at Handsome’s drink assertively. He hadn’t said a word, nor shifted his posture, and yet the atmosphere around Handsome had changed. He hadn’t been relaxed before, but now he was almost pulsating. Granger gave up a hope named curiosity. He’d been tending bars long enough to know when there was a thing developing in front of him that had to work itself out. He gave her a pitcher and a glass, and got a distracted smile. The guy slid forward his change. It covered the bill, plus a tip. Granger retreated towards the shouts of other customers.

“Finally, man!”

* * *


So, here they were again, sitting shoulder to shoulder, in front of posters for cocktails that were no longer available. She’d told herself that she wouldn’t, however bad things got, she wouldn’t run back here again. He could return, look for memories, but she would bury them. When the demands of her position, the relentless giving – of orders, of hope, of lies and missions - battered her, she told herself she would climb to a high place, and breathe under the stars until the tears came and washed out the grind. She’d made promises like that to herself, ignoring the way the stresses of her life shook her like seizures as if that would make their effects go away. This week had been a constant stream. Decisions were asked of her, decisions she’d thought she’d delegated already, opinions were flung at her, with former soldiers relishing in their freedom to say what they thought, still surrounded by the safety net she provided. She made the calls. Over and over, until her voice was hoarse, and her sobs silent.

She’d cried herself to sleep, hours after laying herself down with the man who shared her bed. Awoke before him too, and washed her face before dragging herself to breakfast and another day of pretending. Putting on her act. Living up to speeches she’d made before she’d known what it was like to lose your people because of orders and plans issued by you, to kill for them over and over, to find a family a hundred strong and fear that they would be felled. Living up to expectations that she wasn’t sure she deserved.

Only one person looked her in the eye now and saw past the pretense. And she did not need to look at him now. She knew his profile too well. The man who’d made sure he was by her side in missions of their own making. The man she’d shared a wall with once, desperate, his body pressing hers back, hands on her wrists, kisses hard, until they’d found their release, and she’d pushed him away.

She’d said she’d never come back, but here she was, drinking a beer, waiting for him to untie the knot of tension that she carried way down inside.

Still, she was not looking into his eyes.

* * *


She finally began drinking her beer, he noticed, sensing the movement as much as seeing it in his peripheral vision. He’d chosen the bar-stool with intent, knowing that if she didn’t turn up, someone else would come to fill the empty place by his side. Someone who would offer to be whatever he wanted for tonight. It was that kind of joint. He wanted to smile, to show his cynical side, so that he could tell himself he was all right about what he was contemplating doing.

Again.

Before, it had been unknown, and that in itself had quickened his pulse. Her presence, the scent of her arousal, had made him feral. Their recklessness had been muffled by the base-line. But he heard her, them, over and over in dreams and flashbacks.

He had tried to erase it, had used every trick Manticore had ever taught him to shut out the memory of the taste of her lips, the feeling of her shuddering against him. But he knew better now. Weeks and months had gone by, and if he’d watched her before, telling himself someone hadta have her back, he’d watched her more intently since. He’d seen lines of tension return to her stance and her face, surrounding the emptiness in her eyes. So he’d done what he was allowed to, provoking her so that she could let out her invective at her one safe target. It had meant fighting instinct when another man slipped his arms around her, casual, loving gestures that she reciprocated shyly. But with no heat.

So here he’d come here tonight, waiting for her. Knowing that she wouldn’t turn to her high places now, for she never mentioned the blue lady any more, and only went up “for fresh air, or the closest you can get in this city” with Joshua. Joshua who believed in her so. Joshua and the others who still thought she was their talisman...

His thoughts were darker. But clearer, too.

* * *


When he turned to her roughly, she knew it was time, but tried to hide the jump in her heart-rate with a challenging,

“Thought you were thirsty.”

“Oh, I am,” he answered, grinning to let her know that he could hear her, smell her and that he wanted her. Now.

She grabbed his arm and they left their drinks, heading with no discussion to one of the few corners left secluded. Nobody would see or hear them in their dark corner. Nobody would know, only them.



-End-

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