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Title: Snow-wrought
Fandom: Dark Angel
Rating: G
Characters: Joshua, Max, Mole.
Genre: General, friendship, fluff.
Word count: 1,240.
First posted: June 2005.

Summary: It's been snowing in Terminal City, Max asks Joshua to sculpt her something.

Notes: For henrika_amanda and her kitten eyes. Based on the generated drabble The Oblivious Terror of the Snow. This takes place after the tie-in novels, but contains no major spoilers. With big thanks to lusmeilti and izabelevans for betaing, all the idiocies are my fault.

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine and I make no profit from their use.


Snow-wrought: shallowness


"Hey, big fella, what's up?" Max's soft voice brought Joshua out of his reverie. He side-stepped to turn and look at her, standing in the door-frame of one of the old plants that made up Terminal City. He was just outside.

"Watching," he said, smiling a little nervously.

"Why aren't you out there?" He'd known she'd ask that, and he wanted to roll his eyes and sigh a little, but this was Max and he should explain. Try to.

"Not for me." It was settling, not explaining, and Max was crossing her arms and pouting a little, which meant that his explanation wasn't good enough.

"Why not, Joshua?" 'Out there' was a yard, ringed by buildings, usually their drill-area, where the snow of January 2022 had stuck, to be scooped up by Arctics and X-6s and 8s for a snow-fight that was faster and more accurate than any other taking place that day in Seattle. There was also the slight difference that every snowball thrown in this fight was probably toxic. But all these white flurries hitting their mark were shrugged off by the transgenics.

"The snow-fight looks like fun. We could—"

"No, Max. Not for Joshua, Max go, Joshua too—" he sighed.

"What? Too what?" she probed.

"Big. Strong. Get excited, forget." Max's face wasn't going along with it; she knew that everyone in the snow-fight was well able to take care of themselves. She trusted Joshua.

But his memory was taking him further back, to the basement, to seeing white stuff, a little like salt, but wet, for the first time, clinging to the bottom of Father's pants and his shoes. Father had answered his questions, had taught him and Isaac that it was snow, and asked if they wanted to see more.

Father had taken them out, past the usual armed guards, out and up, and the ground and the trees had been covered with heavy whiteness. Snow.

Not waiting for instruction, Joshua and Isaac had bounded out, not caring that they were barefoot, or that there were watchful eyes and ready guns surrounding them, when what mattered was getting white and wet. Snowy. Isaac had grabbed some, Joshua had followed, and as he'd weighed the cold snow in his hand, packing it tight, Isaac had turned his handful into a missile…

"Whump," Max thought Joshua was copying the present-day snowballs. Wanting him out there, having fun, she decided to go for the sneaky approach.

"Okay, you don't have to go and do the snow-fight thing, but snow doesn't fall often in this city. I want you to make the most of it," she stepped to face him, so used to giving orders now. “Why don't you go make a sculpture?"

"Sculpture."

"Yeah, out of the snow."

Joshua did sigh at her then. He'd got that.

"Joshua paint, not sculpt."

Max grabbed his paw, and began leading him to a corner of the yard where the snow-fight hadn't yet reached, and there was an untouched drift.

"Well you can think of it as—as expanding your artistic horizons, Joshua. Working with a new material, finding where it takes you. Could lead to a whole new period."

"Max talk like Alec. Like Rita." Joshua's tone didn't make it sound like a good thing.

Having got her temperamental artist to his new studio, Max stood still, but didn't let his hand go, as she looked up into his eyes.

"Think of it as a favor for me. Sculpt something - surprise me. I'm sure it'll be great," and her smile was warm, and he knew it would be even wider, stunning, if he made her something, so Joshua nodded.

"Surprise," he said, letting the last syllable hang, a magician talking up his act.

Max nodded, let his hand go, to pick up her own scoop of snow, aiming at and getting Dalton, who she'd noticed had been dodging a lot of snowballs. Before the X-6 could retaliate, she blurred for the nearest entry point back inside.

* * *

Joshua had worked steadily, concentrating hard and fierce on what he was doing. The snow-fighters’ shouts and energy was so much background static as he crouched and packed the snow, building up the sculpture. He was letting what he wanted flow out through his hands. It wasn't paint and an easel, but Max had been right, it was fun.

"Hey, icicles. Doughnuts and coffee at Gem's place!" The yell broke up the snow-fight - which, after all the tactical gains, the payback and the payback for the payback, was getting boring, even for the most enthusiastic X-8. The offer of a hot drink and sugary food was a good out.

Mole watched them stream past him, the kids and the pale Arctics who were the happiest he'd ever seen them. Weirdos. Jamming his cigar in his mouth, he went over to see Joshua, who'd ignored the news about food. Didn't happen often, so Mole was curious.

"Hey dog-boy, you go deaf when you're being creative or something?" The question got Joshua to look up at Mole.

"Not deaf. Just nearly done." Joshua took his hands away from the sculpture, "I'll get snacks later."

"Yeah, you're nearly done," Mole's voice was rough, and months of working with him, letting the lizard guy in to become one of his closest friends made Joshua look more closely at him. The cigar wasn't being rolled around, and Mole stood as if he was at a drill.

"Mole not like snow cat? Think Max won't like it?"

"Uh, that's what you're calling her, huh? 'Snow cat'? Not ‘Joshua number nine million and one’?"

"Different material. Answer the question."

"She—it looks like someone I knew is all. Real life-like." Both guys stared at the sculpture, a statue really. Joshua had based his snow cat on memories of the panther-like X-2s because he had thought Max would like it. He hadn't thought that the likeness would haunt others.

When Mole talked next, it was as gruffly as ever,

"If you're nearly done, I can go get Max. She's at Command, needs someone to relieve her."

"Alec, Dix and Luke not—"

"Nah, thought they'd get first in on the doughnuts," Mole did that impersonation of a grin of his. "Alec led the charge."

Joshua nodded,

"Yes, get Max."

* * *

He had been mostly done, and one or two little tweaks later, he was shuffling about the empty yard, following footsteps, waiting, listening. He had turned his back on his sculpture, done with it now, wanting Max's approval. Her reaction, anyway. And he was hoping for more than 'real life-like.' He wanted to see her smile.

He heard her brisk tread, and stood watching her come out into the yard, sunlit now - the sculpture would probably melt a little out of shape. Max's eyes adjusted quickly, she didn't squint like OC would have done, just looked.

And then the smile came, the one that he tried to replicate in his paintings but couldn't quite. Ever. She walked slowly towards his gift to her and he hovered behind her.

"This is beautiful," she said. "Joshua- when Mole said 'snow cat', I didn't really imagine—"

"Max like it?"

"I love it. It's a shame she'll melt. Thank you.” And Max hugged him, stretching her strong arms around him. Looking over her head to the sculpture, Joshua didn't care that the snow would melt.

END

Notes (part 2): The extrapolation of Mole being the lizard guy referred to in 'Proof of Purchase' was borrowed from Valjean, because it seemed to fit here.

Feedback: Oh yes, do, please.
There's an Alec-centric epilogue Still freeze capture.

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