shallowness: Five panels featuring pictures of different female characters based on my interests at the time. (Default)
[personal profile] shallowness
Full Title: And you will know me by the trail of my asskicking
Fandom: Dark Angel
Rating: R (for language and mature themes)
Pairing: Max/Alec
Word Count: 2,385
First posted: November 2005 (lightly edited August 2016)
Summary: Alec is still haunted by Max. Bitch.


Disclaimer: They are James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s and possibly other people’s. Not mine.

Author’s Notes: Post the books, no huge spoilers though. I tried to get this ready for 2004’s The Day of the Dead challenge and got unglued. I think I managed to get it together for 2005. Thanks are due to Friday Angel and izabelevans for beta reading this. All idiocies are mine.

And you will know me by the trail of my asskicking: shallowness


Nov 1st 2022. 0400 hrs.


“It’s November,” the young man shouted at thin air, the near desperation in his eyes matching the intensity of the pitch of his voice. Considering that he’d been up all night exchanging bitter words with a recently departed, uh, comrade, and had the beginnings of stubble on his chin to prove it, he still looked far from ugly. But he was far from other things, too. “The clock says it’s November. See—“ and he stormed to a wall, to a calendar with a nice picture of a Harley Davidson and ripped off the page, displaying a not quite so fancy Yamaha underneath.

“Know what that means? Halloween over, Maxie go bye-bye.” He paused still, staying silent for a few seconds, then added, “Face it, your time on this earth really is over.”

The ghost crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head as he scrunched up the picture and let it drop to the floor.

“No.”

“We established that for once it wasn’t my fault. Your call, your stubbornness. I was out of town, and you can’t blame me,” he growled. “So, go away.” He even made the flapping hand movement, as if it had secret vanquishing powers.

“God, I need another scotch,” he added, doubting his sanity once again. (Arguing with a ghost did that to you.)

“You’ve dried out sectors four through ten,” his conversational partner observed.

He glared at her.

“I’m not going ‘till we’re done,” she added.

“Done. With what?”

“This – us.”

“Us? Huh?” Forgetting the scotch, he leaned back to the wall and sunk down to the floor, legs out-stretched, the calendar lined up directly above him. Once comfortable, he looked up at her. No luminescent ghost shit for her. She looked eerily like the last time he’d seen her in the flesh. Down to the irritating tilt of her head and the hand on the hip thing. When she’d been the one lecturing him to stay away from trouble. “Explain it to me, Max. Use simple terms so that a livin’ breathin’ not-so-sober idiot like me gets it, because far as I knew there was no ‘us.’”

“And that,” she retorted, “is definitely your fault.”

“I knew it,” he rolled his eyes. “I knew you were back to blame me for something.” Then his brain caught up with his mouth. “That isn’t my fault! I was sexy and charming and you threw it in my face. Unlike more discerning women,” he mumbled.

“You’re delusional. Sexy and charming? Not even in Manticore is pulling off your shirt and insisting that our mission is to copulate until I get pregnant considered sexy or charming,” Max sniped, still looking down at him, dead straight in his line of vision, which made the glaring all the easier for him. He should be grateful for small kindnesses.

“Blah, blah, so we got off on the wrong foot,” he dismissed it. “Besides, there was Logan. You were with Logan, remember? Why aren’t you haunting him with your charming presence?”

One of her hands came out to wave the suggestion aside, repeating his move. “No unfinished business there.”

“Well, if you don’t want an update on all the good that Eyes Only’s up to these days, Joshua’d love to see you. Everyone in Terminal City’d love to see you more than me right now,” he grouched. “You know, people who you treated civilly. Until you died on them.”

She knelt down then, her insubstantial form appearing to meet the resistance of the floorboards. He watched, fascinated. She’d been all snug and tight in her favorite leather outfit on her death-day.

“If you don’t put your heart out there on the line, then you’re never really living at all,” she mimicked. His eyes widened.

“They give you access to other people’s personal stuff in the afterlife?”

“Only when it’s relevant to us,” she said primly, the way she tilted her head giving away that she thought she’d scored a point.

“And who decides that, Maxie?”

“Shut up,” she retorted. Just like old times, just like it had been for the past surreal five hours. “And quit stalling, we’re gonna talk it out.”

“And then you go,” he said hopefully, his chin jutting out.

“Maybe,” she allowed. “They weren’t clear on the point.”

They both looked away.

“I wasn’t talking about you back then,” he said quietly.

“You weren’t free-style philosophizing either.”

“Nah, just trying to get Asha to go to bed to me. Which worked out well,” he added in a completely different inflexion, something like a smile forming on his lips.

“Bull.”

The smile dissipated, “Max, seriously, Asha and I – never did it.”

“I know, and I don’t want to hear that it was all because you were honorable or whatever.” Her thoughts were flitting over her face, subtly transforming it. Her voice hardened as she came to her conclusion. “No, that little speech you made, it meant something to you, but you never acted on it.”

“Being dead really isn’t lessening the Max is - always - right attitude, is it?”

He recognized the expression in her eyes, the tension in her shoulders for what it was: she was gonna punch him. But the memory of her demise stopped her. Every time she’d tried to hit him already that night had been deeply unfulfilling for her and been followed by five minutes of hyper - ventilating from him and a demand that she quit doing that because it was freaky.

“You never let me know,” she said coolly.

“Well, we’re not all like Zack,” he replied, equally frosty.

She shook her head,

“Isn’t about Zack, or Logan, or Asha. It’s about you and me. Us.”

“There is no us, Maxie,” he spat out. “Never was, never will be.”

“Don’t blame me for that,” she said steadily.

“Well, you kinda hated me, made sure I knew it, so actually I’m pretty happy to put the blame on you for that.”

“You never made a move on me!” she choked out.

“Why would I? You made sure I knew how you felt, all that punching and sniping.”

“Quit exaggerating, like you weren’t built or trained to take punches!” She flushed right up. Casper never flushed, he thought. Neither did the ghosts on Scooby-Doo, but then they were always a big ugly man dressed up in a costume. Dismissing that line of thought, he moved right on, asking,

“Do you blame me for having some sense of self-preservation, Max?”

“Is that what you’re saying it was?” she asked. Instead of answering, he scuttled up to crawl through her, aiming for a half-empty bottle of scotch on the floor next to the table.

“Alec!”

“I’m not drunk,” he said, not turning back to look at her, concentrating on controlling the tremors that going right through Max had caused in him. “But I really think I need to be for this.”

“You’ve been sozzled for the past month and a half,” she snorted.

“Well, you’ve been dead for just as long, so don’t pick on me.” His voice was airy, distant, as he concentrated on his quest, not the reason for it.

“What does that even mean? It’s not an argument, s’not even up to your usual lame standards.” He gave her no answer, kept right on heading towards the bottle, so she added for herself, “Ugh, you’re impossible.”

“Yeah, fine, feel free to leave if the company disgusts you,” he replied.

“I can’t,” she said, as if they were the most difficult words in the English language.

“No manners, Max, none at all. Knocking at a guy’s window, It’s me, Heathcliff, it’s me, it’s Maxie, I’ve come home!”

“I didn’t knock at your window!”

“Whatever.” He gave up looking for a glass on the floor, turned around, propped himself up against the table leg and drank straight from the bottle, enjoying the little shudder in her eyes.

“You drink too much.”

“My liver - my genetically enhanced liver. My business.” he retorted, snidely. “Can’t save us all.”

“You have responsibilities.”

“So did you, fucking remember? Remember the protocol? Nobody leaves Terminal City alone. Nobody. Me? I get on my bike with Dalton behind me for my job. Something comes up, do you stop to ask one of the plenty of highly trained supersoldiers hanging around you for help? Fuck, no. Because Max can do everything all by her practically perfect self. Never mind that you’d seen the reports, knew the threat, you just thought you’d swing out without even telling whoever was on duty. Thirty minute job. Easy, because, hey, it’s four a.m., I’m bored, I’ll just clamber outside and—.”

“Could we leave the way I died out of it?”

“No, actually, we can’t. What kind of a leader pulls ‘do as I say not do as I do’ on her people? Oh yeah, the one who fucking got killed by— it wasn’t even a sniper, Max. It was some crazy vigilante who’d been living on caffeine and got real lucky.”

“Well, fine, so it wasn’t a hero’s death—”

“It was stupid. Fucking moronic. An X6 would be humiliated by pullingl something so dumb in his first training session.”

“—shut up. So I’m dead and you and I need to move on.”

He took another long swig.

“Don’t you mean ‘let go’? From what, Maxie?” he asked thickly. “You and I weren’t ‘like that,’ whatever being ‘like that’ ever meant to you, in any case.” She flushed again. He could see it clearly, even though the room was haphazardly lit by candles, all burning low now.

She let her gaze drop, “I didn’t know you wanted it.”

“I didn’t.”

And she was staring right back at him, challenging him again, “Yeah, you did.”

He looked her over. He was up for this.

“I’ve had prettier,” he said. “I could walk out now and have women who could do things to me, with me, that you never thought of,” he paused. “Like not beat my ass for being no good even when they’re dead.”

“You wanted me,” she said steadily.

He stared at her directly, with his clear Manticore eyes. The eyes that Ben had wanted back.

“No, it was worse than that, Max, I needed you,” he said carefully. “And that scared the shit out of me, and I didn’t even realize until it was way too late how much. Thanks for getting shot up like that. I got a fucking useless epiphany when I saw your body.”

She blinked.

“Th—that’s why you moved in here. They were right.”

He merely stared at her, letting his eyes interrogate her.

“I asked what was going on with you guys, and they said I wouldn’t like it. Logan throwing himself into Eyes Only work, cutting himself off from…. Joshua and Mole marching around T.C. to make sure that nobody relieved themselves without their buddy knowing about it. O.C.—“ her voice broke, but now she was looking right at him, working it out, speaking for both of them. “And you, you moved in here, into my room, and I didn’t get it. Didn’t want to get it. So they showed me stuff, the past, showed it through and said—“

“It was your smell,” he said, his gaze still locked with hers. “Your fucking smell. Your clothes. The bike,” he nodded to the ninja, leaning against a wall – some traditions died hard. “I just.… Nobody else wanted the room.”

“So you moved in, you and your scotch, and it’s nearly two months, Alec, and you have to let it go.”

“I’m not the one who has to let anything go.”

She started raising her hands up in a sign of frustration, but his answer had been too quick, and he was retreating from the admissions, so she pulled her hands back down slowly, licked her lips, then whispered, “I didn’t know...because you didn’t say, we never—”

“You didn’t want to know,” he replied. “Didn’t want to admit the possibility that I—“

“We were friends though, eventually,” she rushed out angrily.

“When you lowered yourself to trust me, yeah.” His eyes were angry, bitter, and a lot more besides.

“It wasn’t easy for me, and you never made it easy. I was reaching out—“

He snickered.

“Trying to,” she muttered, her rant halted.

“Whatever, Maxie.”

“Shut up, jerk,” she said feebly.

“Figures, I get haunted by the one person who feels the need to insult me forever and ever,” he sighed.

“I wish I could,” she murmured softly. “Ok? I– I do.”

Sardonically, he tilted the bottle towards her in a toast and drank it dry.

“But you got killed, Max. Bang bang. You died on me, on us, so what are we gonna do?”

“You’re going to stop fucking drinking yourself to death, because it’s pathetic,” she snapped.

“Well, it’s not like I wanted a hero’s death.”

“And while I appreciate the sentiment, lame as it is, you’re going to move back next to Joshua and listen to him when he tells you to get out and do something except intimidate the council members. You might even help Eyes Only someday.”

He made a grunt that wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. She could have carried on issuing orders, but she hadn’t come here for that, and she found herself speaking softly again,

“You need to do it, Alec, and you know why?”

“Nope.”

“Cause if you don’t, I’ll never get to kick your ass again,” she said sadly, getting up. Dead people didn’t have to worry about dead legs. “So, I need you to do it.”

“Did your Blue Lady tell you that?” he asked, a touch of boyishness passing over his face, an expression that hadn’t been there for months.

She shook her head.

“It’s somethin’ I figured out on my own.”

“Yeah, I totally fell for your brains, y’know,” he said conversationally.

“Yeah, figured that one out too.” Her smile was relaxed as she nodded at his words.

“Why, Max, you smart aleck, you,” he said, almost smiling as she faded from view. His eyes still pinned on where she’d been, Alec put the bottle down next to the wall, as close to behind him as it could get, though it took him a while to move.


END


As ever, feedback is welcomed.

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