shallowness: Five panels featuring pictures of different female characters based on my interests at the time. (Default)
[personal profile] shallowness
Title: Be Careful. . .Always
Author: shallowness
Rating: PG-13
Show: Dark Angel
First posted: July 2004

Pairings: Max/Alec, Biggs/CeCe, The Curvaceous Killer/Monty Cora
Summary: Two phrases. Two speakers. Different universes.

Disclaimer: Don’t own or profit from these characters, only playing with them.
Notes: Spoilers for all the episodes and, indirectly, 'Before The Dawn'. The subtitles for each part come from the Season 2 DVD disc 5 scene selections. (I hadn’t read a Five Things That Never Happened fic when I began writing this.)

Be Careful. . .Always: shallowness

- Getting the Picture -

Logan watches them from his distant position, can’t help but doing so, but as they walk in his direction, he instinctively steps back, as if they would turn upon him for intruding. They are so at ease. Intimate. Casually so, like he always thought it would play out.

Logan freezes, only his eyes moving now, watching the other man so close to her, arm around her neck whispering words that only she can catch, and she lets it happen. Not passively, but with acceptance. When she does push the speaker away, it is with affection, and lacks the usual hostility. Even from where he stands, Logan can read the look in her eyes. Her lover stayed the night.

She calls to him, not quite having said her all, when she walked him down from her apartment.

“Be careful.”

“Always,” he says lightly.

Two men turn away from the woman that they love; only one has a smile in his eyes.

* * *

- Little Freak -

Max is glowering, but likely staying quiet because she’s close to nausea. Alec tries to smile at her before she takes it out on designated-driver Mole anyway. Any censure from any direction is likely to set off the transhuman, who’s putting enough pressure on the integrity of the van and the roads of Seattle as it is. Besides, she told Alec off for cussing in front of their daughter the other day, it’s “no fair” if she doesn’t keep to the same rules as she sets for him. And in her present mood, Max probably would let the blues rip.

As he thinks of Hannah, one of his hands go to pat the kid’s brown curls. She is ensconced in his lap, facing her mother, protected somewhat like this from the jolts and judders that come the van’s way as Mole “takes some corners.”

His foot hasn’t left the accelerator.

White is not literally on their tail ... yet. But he is coming; Alec can almost smell his enemy’s bloodlust. Has done for days, since McKinley was brought down.

Once he knows his children, his mate and her precious blood are out of the country, across a border, every drop guarded by the Big Fella up front ... Then – a primal grin spreads across his face.

“Alec,” Max says sharply, with her years of experience at reading his face coming into play. He looks over their daughter’s head to her brown eyes. I love you, they tell him, as they have every day since he found her again. Worried, all she says out loud is,

“Be careful,” and sighs because she can’t cuss for emphasis in front of their girl. But he’d better freaking be.

The trademark smirk washes over his face, even as something more tender is to be found in his eyes.

“Always,” he promises her, and for once he isn’t lying. She can tell.

The van rattles on.

* * *

- A new roommate -

She rolls her eyes, playfully, even as she swats his ass. He’s making such a production of walking out of her door, as if her neck, her lips are polarized and his lips a magnet. Her skin has been flushed since she woke.

She could remind him that it was his choice to take on the extra day’s work Normal offered his Golden Boy. It must have seemed a good deal when he negotiated the terms for the pay. He just didn’t take into consideration that Max had a day off. A day she will soon be spending without him. She almost moans as his tongue complicates their latest attempt at a kiss goodbye, her hands roaming through his hair.

She can’t go back to bed, where his scent will tease her. Revenge in her eyes she nips at his neck.

“Ow,” he whines, hand coming up in a boyish gesture. She growls, seeing the answering response in his eyes. Maybe there’s some fun to be had by her in making it difficult for him to leave.

There is nothing boyish about the way he returns his attention to her mouth for more minutes than he can afford. Charmer though he is. They aren’t children playing here.

She exhales shakily as his lips leave hers, not caring that the heat of her breath on his chin teases him more, makes him regret pulling back. Eyes closed, she begins their ritual, telling herself the sooner he leaves, the sooner he’ll be back.

“Be careful.”

His voice is husky. Does he have to make it worse? Bastard.


* * *

- Friendly Freaks -

The noise is as loud as it always is in Crash, shouts barging over the music and the clash of glasses and the sloshing of beer. At first, CeCe found it too overwhelming and couldn’t understand what drew her colleagues here. Yet the most enthusiastic suggestions to “hit Crash” tonight came from the two transgenics she can’t help watching right now. The short, dark haired spitfire defiantly lecturing the taller male, who is looking down at her, amused, his posture relaxed. He gives no sign that he could switch to a fighting stance instantly using anything that came to hand as a weapon if need be. You could never tell either that his companion could take on three of your toughest street fighters and be the one walking away.

Not that either would initiate such a bar-brawl. These are the days of laying low, of passing. Days CeCe begins to wish were over. This heady brew of normality, of friendship and other bonds, of earning your own pay packet to spend on luxuries you never knew you wanted is having its effect on her.

She wants it for herself, for the two fighters she’s watching and for --

“Here y’are - Crash’s finest,” and Biggs gracefully eases into the seat next to her, pushing the pitcher down between their two glasses. She grins at him mischievously, looking around the now empty table, OC having found a honey and everyone else being caught up in the nightly ritual beating of Sketchy over the felt. She’d chosen to stay here and sit waiting.

“All for us,” she says breathily, enjoying the change in his pupils, even as she wonders where did that came from, soldier? Her blonde head turns back to gaze at the others as she hears him clear his throat. She’s going to need a girl-conference soon...

She then hears him pour beer into their glasses. He’s not running away. That’s good. Very good, if she factors in the alcohol.

“So Alec and you are going to be able to manage this raid on your own?” she asks, turning her body so that she’s facing the glass, but is still able to watch Sketchy ignore the heated and one-sided argument next to him to take his shot. “He’s going to miss that if he doesn’t radically alter his trajectory.”

“S’nothing compared to what we did back there.” There is no boasting to his tone, as Max might claim, only the matter-of-factness of a soldier who has taken his own measure.

Suddenly a deep chuckle erupts from the pool table as Alec notices what his competitor left for him. He puts one hand on Max’s shoulder and deftly moves her out of his way, probably with enough strength to shut her up, but to make her eyes burn as she glares at him in response.

“Those two!” CeCe exclaims with exasperation, affection and less envy than there once would have been in her voice.

“They love it,” Biggs says confidently, his few weeks of experience of working with both in his voice, and a wealth of knowledge about 4- Alec.

“Then why do they --“ CeCe freezes, her arm still up in the air as she stops using it to express herself, her momentum distracted by the way Biggs is just looking at her.

“Forced together as breeding partners, one with the face of the crazy Niner Max considered a brother, ordinary ex still in her life, both stubborn enough to make you wonder if there’s mule DNA in their cocktail? Give ‘em time.”

“What if they don’t have that time? Seems to me there’s always someone around who wants to kill us trannies.”

“Alec and I’ll be fine on the mission,” he replies quietly, adding weight to every word.

“I know,” she says, pink tongue nervously wetting her lips, not the sort of gesture to be made by a soldier trained to be aware of every move of her lethal body and confident in them too. “But – be careful.”

He leans forward.

“Always,” he tells her as his lips graze hers.

* * *

- Sticking Around –

Alec lets his feet find the way through the sewers back to Terminal City for him, distracting himself from the empty space between him and the tunnels by replaying the end of Logan’s mission brief in his mind.

“. . .The doctor’s under guard, but they’re waiting for the Senator to come to interrogate him personally. No idea why this personal attention isn’t ringing warning bells in the authorities’ minds.”

“That’d be cold cash,” Alec says irrepressibly. Eyes Only’s a little too used to making pronouncements and nobody talking back to him, and now that the details are lodged in his brain, Alec can manage some back talk. It’s the closest thing he’s getting to R-n-R. “Offer enough of a bribe and you’ll get all the quiet time you need.”

“Yeah, but the Senator must have access to an impressive amount, the number of cover-ups he’s been involved in lately,” Logan replies, the way his eyes briefly shift to Alec giving away how annoyed he is that the younger man’s babble has broken his stride. Alec smirks a little, playing out his part of their routine. “Carr is under the strongest possible guard, so you'll have to be careful."

”We will,” the team leader says, smirk pushed aside, but, in a radical turn of events, Logan ignores him to stare at Max, who is standing right in front of the camera lens. Center place for the boss lady, especially for dealing with her ex-squeeze-whatever.

“You need to send the best for this,” he tells her, ignoring the other listeners. “I owe Carr. We both do.”

Max must have put aside whatever doubts she had ‘bout Alec’s loyalty or team-spirit and everything else she’s bitched him out for in the past, because she says, her voice brooking no disagreement,

“I know. That’s why we are sending the best. Alec handpicked his team. They’ll bring Carr out safe.”

Yeah, sure, that’s how it went down, just like Max said, Alec didn’t screw up, there wasn’t an unexpected armory facing them, overwhelming them, and he’s on his way to a debriefing over a drink in the Rec Room.

He continues walking, remembering.

The relief the second the vid-link connection is broken is palpable. Even Dix gives it away by leaving his console open to possible tainting from Max and Alec, to join the others milling below. Max takes half a step back, though she is looking thoughtfully at the now blank screen. But Alec is unable to let the fact that his C.O. and biggest critic spoke up for him rest, can’t just shut up and go do the mission. He steps up to her, and what slips from his mouth is:-

“Tell me, why am I always, always a pain in the ass as far as you’re concerned, but you never call out Mr. High and Mighty?”

Turning to look at him, and tilting her head slightly upwards, she replies,

“Cuz you’re such an exceptional pain in the ass, Alec,” her sass total front, but he isn’t ready to thank her for taking his part either. It’s about time she did. And maybe it isn’t quite enough for him. But fighting Max about Logan deserves his undivided attention, anyway, and he has a team, armed and booted up, waiting for him, so he lets it drop, shrugs a goodbye to her and lets her have the last word as he walks down the ramp.

Now he's stumbling back alone to base, knowing his duty is basically to report a figure – that of the number of casualties.

His sense of smell hones in on the coppery residue of blood, some of it his, but mainly his comrades’ and the acrid memory of gunfire on his clothes and body.

He concentrates to block these reminders away, barely registers that the sewers have ended and he is in Terminal City proper. He’s too focussed on holding himself together in a facsimile of a soldier’s posture to let himself notice the transhumans and X6s he passes, and their big eyes trailing him, wondering where the rest of his team is.

She is all he’s searching for.

Max is standing on the usual platform, with her back to him. He takes another step forward, and hears the measured voice over the vid-link.

“They knew. There’s a mole in the ranks, Max. Carr wasn’t even being kept in the high security wing - it was an ambush.

“They’ve got five bodies.”

“Five? Confirm their status.”

“Five dead. Left behind – they have five X-series for their autopsies now.”

He shouldn’t be the one telling her this, the soldier thinks, as his knees buckle.

Her head turns at the thump of a body hitting the floor.

“Alec!” she shrieks, all numbness in her voice gone.

* * *

- A Deadly Memory -

The prisoner marches down the corridor, her hair still damp from the shower, but not dripping. No one will comb it out for her. She does not care or remember to do it for herself. She only put on the dry uniform because it was hanging waiting for her outside the cubicle. Grey on white walls.

And all she has are her fingers. So her hair never glistens, the warder thinks, holding the tazer carefully. The barcode has taught her to respect ones like this. Even if their skin is dull under the fatigues and their eyes even duller.

Their strength is legendary. There have been enough stories from officer to officer to make her believe that these bogeymen are as bad as they say. Once, she saw a news clip where a real freak, who barely needed his barcode with those ridges and terrible eyes, threw off about a dozen cops with ease before he was brought down. So she grasps her weapon tighter, as the trannie prisoner in front of her enters her cell. The officer relieves some of the stress of the past few seconds by slamming the button for the bars to move into place. Maintenance has finally oiled them for they don’t make their usual creak.

So today she sees something new. The other woman is mesmerized by something invisible inside the cell as she turns to her empty cot and addresses a phantom on the mattress. Her voice is cajoling, if hoarse from rare usage.

“We have to escape, Alec, don’t you see? Manticore will kill us if we stay and I won’t let them. You have to do this.”

The warder wants to step forward, wants to check the prisoner’s eyes, but the curtain of hair and the direction in which she’s looking hides her face. She vows to review the tapes for subject Y6 – 563, ask around some more about these freaks. Alec is a name, but Manticore? What does that mean? Why should a hallucination mean anything, though?

Then there is silence, but tension too. The woman in the cell sighs.

“Be careful.”

Officer Renfro is only ordinary, she never senses the other woman’s tears form as she hears her companion rumble,


* * *

- Touching Experiences -


“Yeah, well, you deserved it, punk!” she scoffs, exhilarated by the fact that she both frightened the groping jerk and vacated his wallet from his pocket with the solicitousness of a really discreet valet. And the fool won’t even be sure it was her when he actually notices the loss. “See, I don’t think it’s ok to get all inappropriate on a woman’s ass.”

She is enjoying watching him run, which is her only excuse for being surprised when a low voice assaults her ear.

“And The Curvaceous Killer strikes again. Quite a rep you’re building”

“Aw, you upset cuz I beat someone else up?” she taunts, spinning to face him, still hyped up by her success. The new arrival’s face is wry, as, in the middle of the day-lit L.A. street, he reaches for her wrist and glances at the wallet in her stilled hand.

“I’m not the jealous type. Never needed to be,” he shrugs.

She tosses back her curls, knowing she can’t release herself without a scene and this is no cage surrounded by amped up drunks, gamblers and gangsters. No one would believe a small thing like her could throw down a muscle-clad six foot specimen like himself. Although she so could.

Still, no scenes allowed in public; so she sets aside the temptation to struggle and kick his ass.

She goes for the diplomatic route, telling herself that she is not becoming hyper-aware of his grasp on her wrist the longer he holds it,

“Let me go.”

“How much is in there, do you think?” he challenges conversationally.

“Thirty dollars,” she says.

“Looks thicker.”

“Receipts mainly – oh, you wouldn’t know about those,” she retorts, standing her ground. She’s the best pickpocket in this whole city. Able to judge how much her mark is worth and how to get it to a nicety. Only he seems to have a problem admitting that.

“While you’ve got a receipt for everything you own, dontcha?” he comments, drawling out each word as he shoots her that grin that he thinks makes the female population of the city melt. Except for her. She always stands up straighter.

He lets her hand go, and raising her eyebrows, she opens the wallet, trying not to wrinkle her nose at its sweaty odor. Cash is cash after all.

“Forty dollars.”

“Pizza can be your treat tonight, I’ll need the energy for the fight – and the victory party,” he smiles cockily. She rolls her eyes and makes a rumbling sound of dissent in the back of her throat. His smile widens and he is about to walk away, then he swings back, his face wiped of emotion.

“Still, TCK, be careful,” he says, invading her personal space, his face so close that all she finds herself doing is tracing the outline of his lips.

“Always,” she gasps out, bemused at the warning.

* * *

- Departure Time –

Max glares nastily at the gun her man is handing Joshua, continuing to glare even as it is hidden from direct view, stuck in a holster she never wanted the Big Fella to have. But Alec gave it to him anyway, just like he’s arming him with his own semi-automatic now. They have had the argument over firearms repeatedly and neither has changed the other’s mind, even if they understand each other better because of it.

Despite herself, she affectionately studies the familiar silhouette. Jeans and a t-shirt covered by a leather jacket. She’s long given up on figuring how he finds clothes that hug his body so tightly, suspecting it might lead to the ‘accidental’ strangulation of some shop assistants.

Sensing her watching him, he steps towards her and her heart swoops. They do not need to repeat the murmured promises they made to each other in bed earlier. She stares at him intently, wanting every second she can get of him.

He kisses her forehead first, as she closes her eyes, “seeing” with her other senses now, absorbing his scent and sounds. Taking comfort. She knows he hates being left behind for this one, but the new runes on his body have confirmed it, he’s too vital. Whatever Sandeman’s plan for the Familiar Cult was, X5-494 is the lynch-pin. His warm lips nuzzle her cheek next. They argued about her going for this, but in the end, he knew neither one of them could let the Big Fella down, so eventually Alec took her in his arms and agreed she had to do this, even if he really didn’t like it. She suspects their leader has been given orders to keep her safe. Alec’s lips reach hers, and she responds, more hungrily than she meant to.

This time White has pushed them around too much. No animal likes being cornered. The Familiar bastard’s going to learn that the transgenics are no mere animals is her last thought as he deepens the kiss purposefully.

It hurts, like it always does when his lips leave hers. She hates this, they should be fighting by each other’s side, but Josh and Mole and others have reminded them that TC’s X-5 population is too low already, they cannot both be compromised. And his runes make him the non-expendable one. Except that’s not what his eyes tell her, and knowing she is loved like this, she promises herself she will make it back.

Her eyes dart to the Big Fella, dressed in urban camouflage as she is, but bobbing nervously. It’s time to leave, she knows, and she has to stop being the lover, drop the reluctance to take up the soldier’s part.

Alec encompasses them both in his only words.

“Be careful.”

“Always,” she says confidently, before nodding at Joshua. They can join the rest of the strike team now.

- FIN –

Feedback – including concrit – would be really welcomed.


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