I rarely feel any need to explain anything about a fic before I post it but I suppose this one has a lot to do with a certain aspect to DA that was only really mentioned in S1. Do not click on the MYSTERIOUS LINK below if you wanna read this fic in an unspoiled kinda way. Dunno, maybe you can click it after you read? :D On a funny side note, Dark Angel is actually listed in the aforementioned linked article under "Fictional References".... The Mysterious Link That Will Spoil
Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: DA & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Despite the lengths which he painstakingly took to explain the details, a girl would think the gist of his master plan would be crystal by the time he was through. That never seemed to be the case.
Cindy didn’t do what she considered traveling very often.
With the way the city had been neatly compartmentalized, there weren’t extremely huge reasons to go any further than your next door sectors unless your job required you to do so. But tidy lines stretched and bulged haphazardly along the patrolled borders. If she really wanted some Chinese takeout from over the fence she knew the delivery guy usually just came up over the roof at no extra charge. If she wanted to watch some pool and catch a buzz she went to the same row of bars that sometimes changed streets and names. No matter what new basement the place took shape in, they offered the same dark smoked filled dens that let a girl while away the hours. Knowing just the right holes that wouldn’t get you robbed or stabbed was just as important as knowing which establishments foamed your pitchers of beer.
Once you found your perfect pizza, the cheapest fruit stand and the most reasonable dope dealer there wasn’t a whole lot of point sitting around in a check point line. Unless you wanted to kill a few hours in mindless frustration while your precious gasoline burned off into the atmosphere.
With a small squeeze of the throttle, Cindy leaned the motorcycle forward to the lit booth with bored armed men watching the process semi-vigilantly. The cop scanned his flashlight over her Pony pass with the efficiency of a machine. He had waved her on before she had even gotten it back into her jean pocket. She thought about how she’d have to thank her roommate again for allowing her access to some transportation that didn’t involve her very own horse power. The souped up engine startled her every time she misjudged how powerful the fuel injection system was. With every stop and start she gripped the handles harder, but she was liking the wind on her face a little more than a lot.
Turning down the first cross street she had to think back to when she’d been in this part of the city last. Even her bike runs didn’t bring her around these streets very frequently. The building she parked in front of looked like every other one on the bustling block. A few crowded noodle houses were crammed up on the sidewalk before the entrance. Late night rush hour pushers and prostitutes tried to get her attention as she slipped through the open lobby door and hoped there was an elevator.
Finding one that didn’t work, she found the stairs instead. It wasn’t a long climb to the fourth floor but the stairwell smelled like a urinal. The hallway beyond was slightly better. It took two passes before she figured out the correct door. A few years of delivering packages had taught her how to discern missing apartment numbers. The general disorder of the makeshift address system that had created itself out of the ashes of the Pulse wasn’t too hard to figure out if you knew how.
The green door looked pleasant enough.
For a second she was tempted to just walk right in to see what would happen. Her hand hovered over the doorknob while she quickly reconsidered the idea. While being scared shitless by the random appearances of transgenics was becoming one of her full time hobbies, she wasn’t sure the opposite effect would be as charming. Surprising an X5 wasn’t high on her priority list of things to try. She liked her face intact, thanks.
She knocked and didn’t have to wait long to be received.
“You wanna maybe put some clothes on?”
“Oh, sure, sorry.”
Cindy used the television to divert her eyes as Alec shrugged on a shirt and some sweatpants that were tossed on his sofa. Her curiosity overcoming the desire to avoid any nudity, she glanced around the apartment. She wasn’t sure what exactly she had been expecting but it all seemed just about right if someone had made her guess. A ridiculously huge plasma screen, a few pieces of functional furniture that didn’t look very comfortable and a precisely made bed that sat off to the side. The kitchen didn’t look like it was used for much besides counter storage for booze. The random ornamental knick knacks were a little unusual but from what she’d heard Alec had kind of taken over the place after the previous owner passed away.
It made a certain regimental sense to recycle everything left behind, including the personal effects of a stranger. Alec assumed it all like he did anything else. Without much thought of its significance outside of utility and market value, everything else was just for show. This apartment was like a jacket or a brand of scotch. It was an appearance to maintain out here in the world. However, upon closer inspection there seemed to be one or two things around that looked like Alec had put them there himself.
He fidgeted when he saw her pick up the novelty Hawaii snow globe.
“Been to Hawaii?” She asked doubtfully.
Cindy didn’t know anybody that could afford a trip anywhere let alone one of the fanciest islands around. But what did she know? For all she knew about his previous career he’d seen all seven seas and every beach in between.
“No,” He looked a little embarrassed. “I just miss it sometimes.”
Confused, she tossed her backpack on a chair and shook the plastic pieces to flutter down softly around a hula girl and a miniature volcano.
“How you go missin’ a place you never even been?”
“Not the island,” Alec corrected her absently as he noticed his shirt was on inside out. “The snow.”
Looking out the dark window at the first splatter of steady year round tepid rain, she shook her head. If you liked snow this town wasn’t the place to be. Cindy put the smooth sphere down and thought of the landscape out east that had comprised Alec’s up bringing. Some nowhere patch out on the map that didn’t get much besides some blistering summers and then nothing but blizzards that buried entire sections of interstate. It never occurred to her that there might be something to miss from that place and time in his life. With all of Alec’s wordless conformity to be a viable percentage of the population, it had never occurred to her that he might have any fondness for anything specifically at all.
“So when the guy knocks just tell him we got married last week,” Alec told her. “Want something to drink?”
Cindy was still working past the word ‘married’ when Alec open his refrigerator and pulled out a few bottles of unlabeled mystery soda. She liked syrupy as much as the next guy but that was another trait Alec shared with her other transgenic friend. They were like humming birds when it came to sugar content of all things. She guessed chronic diabetes was tidily sliced out of the list of health worries on their plotted DNA plan.
“By the way, if you’re going to buy root beer just get the real stuff and forget the diet crap because it's full of potassium salt of 6-methyl-1,2,3- oxathiazine-4(3H)-one 2,2-dioxide which has proven to cause cancer in certain lab animals but I think they give those rats 100 gallons of the stuff a day. But if you ask me, all that flesh eating cancer aside I say it just tastes like shit—“
Cindy held up her hand.
“Hold up. Did you say married?”
“Yeah,” Alec confirmed seamlessly. “You want ice? I don’t actually have any but—”
Cindy briskly took the proffered cup with the faded flower decals on it. For some reason as her hand brushed against his she noticed that his skin was kind of warm. Warmer than the usual excessive radiation she had come to know from Max’s familiar proximity. Looking up at his face, Cindy noticed that the transgenic seemed to look a little on the pale side. She was about to ask him if he was feeling okay when he stopped her with a reassuring hand.
“It’s okay,” He said. “We aren’t really married.”
“Thanks honey,” Cindy mumbled into her glass. “That’s real good to know.”
Alec tiredly grinned as he took a swig of warm soda right from the bottle.
The details as usual were not very clear.
Despite the lengths which Alec painstakingly took to explain them, a girl would think the gist of his master plan would be crystal by the time he was through. That never seemed to be the case. By the end of the second epic tale of stripping a police cruiser down for parts downtown she was thoroughly confounded. The protagonist of this yarn was some one armed guy named Hector whom had absolutely nothing much to do with her being the current residing Mrs. X5-494. When a femme branch of the mafia started to take up much of the deteriorating plot line she had to make him stop talking.
If she had gotten what he had been trying to say somewhere in there correctly, there was some building supervisor that gave cohabiting couples in the high rise a break on the limited cramped storage space in the basement. If you didn’t have a smiling special someone at your side, you had to hand over some extra cash for the same privileges. And while no, Alec didn’t have any prized family heirlooms and nostalgic school memorabilia to pack away he did know a guy looking for a quiet place to set up a desoxyephedrine lab. Alec didn’t quite approve of the street drug’s devastating addictive qualities but he wasn’t selling the stuff, just his piece of basement to some dealer who wanted to.
The disjointed flow of the transgenic’s morality usually made Cindy have to think twice before she could see where he’d snipped himself clear of any responsibility. Although, she was certain he probably knew how often those labs caught fire and incinerated just about everything around it. Looking around the place, she figured it probably wouldn’t be the first fire the joint had seen. Wanting to get comfortable she eyed the lopsided sofa. One side of its wooden legs had collapsed, sending the entire seat on an awkward slant.
“What the hell happened to your couch?”
“Uh,” Avoiding her eyes, Alec attempted to casually shrug. “I dropped it. “
Cindy took a cautious seat and decided not to probe any further into that.
Alec’s building was a lot like hers. A co-op that a bunch of squatters had converted into their own system of rent and pilfered cable. Speaking of cable, Cindy couldn’t quite believe how many stations and networks this tricked out plasma was able to get. Cycling through the hundreds of channels for a good while she hadn’t even restarted from the very bottom yet.
“I rigged a dish up on the roof,” Alec had taken the chair opposite her and stifled a yawn. “I installed a signal on it so any bounces the company gets on its satellite thinks its just some stray noise you know, like just left over garbage from their feed filters. I put in a boost last week and now I can even get some weird Arabic porn channels. At least I think its porn. There’s a lot of singing and ankles—“
“So when's this guy showing up?”
Alec checked the clock on the wall even though he had a better clock lodged in his own head.
“He should have been here about 17 minutes ago—waitwaitwait, where are you going?”
Cindy already had her back pack and as soon as she found her jacket, she was history. There was no way she was getting stuck in that pile up at the point when midnight rolled around and the patrol changed shifts.
“Just wait one more hour—“
“Good night, Alec—“
Cindy chewed her lip and let her bag drop back down to the floor.
“Your guy don’t show in 5? I’m taking my ass home.”
The immediate shift of sincere dismay to genuine happiness made Cindy sigh. What got this man to the point of real joy tended to be based on some really bizarre achievements. His fake wife was staying an extra five minutes so he could make a few hundred bucks burning his apartment down. What was there not to be ecstatic about?
Cindy yawned, eyeing the clock. This was getting way past her bedtime.
For some reason, she knew his bed wasn’t some questionable place that she would be afraid to touch. Alec was a lot of things but one thing the boy had was a case of the cleanliness. Cindy had seen ample evidence of this when he had been exposed and subsequently horrified by the usual dressed down state of her own digs. When left to his own devices, Alec had on more than one occasion arranged her dishes and bleached her bathroom back into shape.
So when she laid down on freshly laundered sheets and a nice white pillow case, it didn’t come as a huge shock. The mattress was even decent. Soft but firm without any rogue springs sticking up along your back. Alec was watching her in semi-fascination. Like seeing someone pull out your unwrapped cappuccino frappe machine right out of the box and start using it in all sorts of ways you weren’t sure were possible.
The unused bed suddenly made her pause in her elaborate stretching all over its surface. She knew Max’s habits well enough but Cindy wasn’t completely sure what Alec’s deal might be regarding the same. She propped herself up on her elbow.
“Ever get any sleep?”
“Sometimes.” He stood uncertainly a measured distance away.
She noted the slightly off cast to his skin again. It was hard to find a ton of sun in the city but the look in his eyes wasn’t from not getting any rays. Alec’s arms kept crossing and uncrossing over his chest. His gaze was lingering for strange lulls on nothing at all until he caught up with whatever lack of conversation he was trying hard to participate in. Her earlier question that got lost found its way back again.
“You feelin’ all right?”
Alec’s weary expression turned to annoyance.
“You positive?” Cindy rolled over and hugged the pillow down under her face. “You don’t look so hot.”
Not thinking much on his abnormally curt reply, she resettled her hips and used her feet to kick her shoes off onto the floor. Whenever that building supervisor showed up Alec could just point and refer to her as anything he wanted. As she drifted agreeably towards sleep she wondered if she should ask for at least a twenty spot for her trouble. Maybe a fifty considering she was allowing the suggestion of their holy matrimony to be believed by a person that could possibly tell others.
Before Cindy could start thinking about counting sheep, she was already gone.
When she next opened her eyes she realized she had fallen to sleep for more than a few minutes. With a tired dazed stretch she knew it had been something closer to an hour.
The television was still on but quiet. All the dim lamps had been extinguished.
She groggily wondered if this was the natural state of Alec’s domain. No lights to see by and a television that never went off with the sound down where only he could hear it. The frantic silent images of the simulcast lit up the walls and ceiling with chaotic flashes of a high speed car commercial. The room had gotten cold with the onset of the early morning hours. Turning slightly to see if she could pull the blanket edge up she stopped when she saw she wasn’t alone. With a small yawn she didn’t really see what the large problem might be. It was after all, his bed no matter how little mileage he put on it. Rolling over onto her side she quickly realized that the blanket she had been hopefully yanking on was no better than the measly thin sheet right underneath it. She looked blearily over at Alec who appeared to be getting some of that infamous slumber that so often evaded his kind. But much more importantly, the guy was putting off heat like an electric space furnace.
Remembering her healthy reluctance to shock any transgenics, she speculated on who exactly she was kidding. Alec knew she was there. He wasn’t going to start garroting her in self defense if she moved around a little too much on the small mattress. Shivering, her thoughts turned to the freezing bike ride out across the sectors and the good hour it would take to ever see her own room. Shaking off that horrible idea, she decided that everything was fair game when you were trying to sleep and the ambient air temperature was close to the inside of an ice box. If Alec didn’t like it he could write her a formal letter of complaint in the morning.
Sliding closer, she unceremoniously worked her chin into his shoulder. Adjusting her position she wasn’t sure how to get any closer or find a comfortable spot. It had been quite a while but she had forgotten just why men felt so misaligned. They were all hard angles and flat plains. The smooth rise of a curved hip and slope of chest much more easily conformed to her like limbs, her leg feeling too soft and pliant when she pulled her thigh up over his. Using him like an unyielding body pillow, she hooked her hand under his arm and used it to cover her chest.
Alec surfaced out of his sleep, opening his eyes for a moment before shutting them again. Turning towards her, his rigid body suddenly became accommodating, closing and sealing all the small distances with a subtle shift of his own compliant limbs. His chin fit over her head and the span of his bicep rested carefully over the flesh of her collarbone. Closing her eyes, Cindy felt her exhaustion begin to tug her under again. The warmth that wasn’t too much or too little letting her fall back down without another thought.
She blinked her eyes open.
Something had jolted her right back into wakefulness but she had no idea what it had been. Her gaze went automatically to the plasma screen that was flashing all its colors and hushed pandemonium. Wondering if that jackass with the storage place for sale had maybe knocked on the door, her attention wavered to just listening instead.
Without any warning, Alec’s body heat was abruptly missing. His smooth unexpected disengage from their slotted limbs made her sit up in alarm. Even though it was dark she knew the transgenics didn’t move like they wanted to when they were around other people. She never thought of them as mimicking the motions of a human being, but she did watch them struggle to reign in everything unchecked that waited a few centimeters beneath their plausibly average exterior. Before she could even figure out where he’d gone, she heard the bathroom door slam closed.
Her voice was soft and unused.
Swaying on her feet, she walked hesitantly towards the closed door. The rectangle of bright light from the other side cut around the uneven seal of the frame. Cindy was never shy to start knocking on a locked door but for some reason she didn’t feel quite as convinced about the need for her presence at the moment. People usually fled into the sanctity of a closed room for a reason. Glancing back at the quiet television, she wondered if it was her presence that had forced Alec to use a door that probably very rarely was used at all.
She heard the water running.
Maybe this was the regular hour that Alec woke up and took a shower? Looking at the odd time on the clock she sincerely prayed that it wasn’t. Yawning again she looked dismally at the bed with nothing to burrow into but a couple of no good sheets. Spotting Alec’s jacket hanging on the back of a chair she decided that would make a perfect blanket in lieu of more substantial—
It was quite distinctly the sound of glass striking and shattering on a tile floor. Without knocking first, Cindy found her hand twisting the doorknob. For a moment all she saw was the sink brimming with the overflow of water. The faucet was stuck on and the drain wasn’t working fast enough to keep it from rising over the edge. Sheer thin curtains of water were splashing down onto the floor that was covered in the remains of a drinking glass.
Alec was sitting on the edge of the bathtub just opposite the sink. Hunched over, his elbows were on his knees and his face was in his hands. Cindy saw the flesh of his arms were raised in goose bumps, the cast of his pigment almost as white as the stark paint on the walls. He was trembling slightly, his jaw working as he attempted to speak.
“I-I’m fine,” His voice was strained. “Go to bed.”
“I’m cool, sugar,” Cindy said carefully. “In fact, I’m wide awake.”
Alec breathlessly laughed a little but she didn’t know what was so funny.
Cindy was about to ask him if he wanted another glass to replace the one that had ended up on the floor when she hesitated. For a second she thought he was leaning over to throw up but he didn’t stop the descent downwards. In a slow slump, he landed hard on his knees and then with one last conscious motion collapsed toward her. Stunned, she saw one of his hands had slid through the glass, a small pool of red growing under his palm in the collecting water. Faltering down to her own knees, the feel of the cold water quickly soaked into the fabric of her jeans.
“H-Hey?” Cindy hands touched his shoulders, startled at the damp feel of sweat through the thin cotton. The heat she had been using as a replacement for a down comforter was now off the charts. “What the hell—“
Alec suddenly shuddered under her touch, his muscles tightening spasmodically in an uncontrolled pattern that passed down through length of his body. Stunned, she held her hands back unsure of what exactly was happening. The weird pale cast to his features. The yawning. The shivering even though he was burning up. The look on his face when she had asked him if he had been getting any sleep. Cindy blinked down at the transgenic as his limbs settled down into the full grip of a grand mal seizure. She’d seen this before. It had been a while but another transgenic she knew used to do it all the time.
Just like that it all completely clicked into place.
Pulling her sleeve up around her fist, she used her arm to sweep back the shards of glass behind her on the tile. Getting a good grip on Alec’s opposite arm she heaved him over, easing him onto his back. His eyes were half closed allowing her to see that they had rolled back, his fluttering lids showing slits of white. Another wave roiled through him, the strongest of it peaking into the arch of his back. It ebbed slightly every few moments releasing back into mild tremors that opened and shut his hands. Cindy slid her body between him and the iron cast standing bathtub and pulled her sweater off over her head. Shoving it under his neck and head she gasped when a flung arm caught her across the jaw. His muscles constricted and shook under her hands, the rapid misfire of synapses firing and flaring in a jumbled cascade down through billions of nerves. Cindy watched his throat work and heard no air being drawn in and out. Given a moment to permit the panic to start overflowing like the sink, Cindy frantically wondered just how well the makers had made these bodies when it came to oxygen deprivation—
To her dazed disbelief, Alec wheezed in a breath.
After a few more seconds, his entire body stiffened into motionlessness. It violently threw his head back, thudding sickeningly on the tile despite the wadded up sweater. Cindy stared as every muscle abruptly and mercifully went completely slack. One hand that had dropped down over his hip twitched into a fist and then slowly released. Waiting tensely for another wave of aftershocks she gradually recognized that it was over. His chest rose raggedly again.
Cindy let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding onto.
Alec blinked rapidly as his eyes slid back into place. It took him faster than it should have to focus on her face and quickly begin to wonder why he was laying on his bathroom floor. Cindy slowly eased herself up and sat on the tub edge. One foot in a sopping wet sock pressed firmly to his shoulder was surprisingly all she needed to keep him from sitting up like he wanted to.
“Wha ‘appened?” Alec croaked.
“Lemme guess,” She panted. “Never happened before, right?”
Alec positively answered the question by staring up at her in bewilderment.
“Did-did someone kick my ass?”
She stood up and stepped over him. Twisting off the hiss of the faucet, she avoided the broken glass as best she could to get out of the room. The small flood had seeped over the worn wood of the living room, staining it black in a meandering path that reached all the way to the soundless images on the television. The fridge was filled with mostly things that girls liked to make their alcohol go down a little sweeter. Noting that Alec had at least mastered the real world skill of how to get a date lubricated, she felt a wash of relief at the sight of the red and white milk carton sitting in the door. Swishing the magical contents inside, she breathed a sigh.
It wasn’t pharmaceutical grade capsules of tryptophan but it would do in a pinch. She’d get on the phone with Max and get some of the good stuff over before the sun even came up. The evening may even include an insightful and detailed power point presentation on just how those transgenic brains short circuited when their serotonin levels bottomed out. While they were at it, maybe she’d buy him some comfy fleece blankets and an ocean wave sound machine so he’d get some goddamn sleep.
Alec hadn’t listened to her about not moving.
Taking a seat next to him on the wet tile, she shook the container one more time before thinking about checking the expiration date. Her brow rising in approval, she silently scored another one for the retentive lingering habits of Manticore’s finest. Folding out the spout, she turned to consider how to go about getting any of it into Alec. He wasn’t quite sitting up, his head and shoulders resting up against the bath and his elbows giving him some unsteady leverage off the floor. His voice was subdued, his confusion faded into the weak shock of understanding.
"Back at the barn, they used to cut our dosage as a penalty.”
As she suspected, he had put it together even without any of the blanks filled in. There had been only one blank anyway and Alec was excellent in regards to the dynamics of his faulty chemistry. From how he had been behaving maybe he had even caught a glimmer of what might be in store for him right on his own floor. Judging from the look on his face Cindy knew that this had had happened to him before. Just not out here in his brand new life. This pain was something he thought he’d left behind back somewhere on those snowy plains he told her he'd missed so much.
“They had one guy strung out so bad, we couldn't even turn the lights on without him going off."
Cindy shook her head.
"After all that, what made you think being out here would be any different?" She asked. "When you people don't snooze, you gotta make up for that."
"I guess I kinda… forgot," he mumbled.
Alec seemed very young with that response which frustrated her even more. She had a lot more she wanted to say but she wasn't about to do it in the middle of the night on a cold flooded bathroom floor. Cindy pushed the carton up against his lower lip and tipped it back, holding it steady for him when his hands started shaking again.
There was a loud knock on the door.
Glancing up at the hour hand on the clock, she speculated what kind of schedule Alec kept that visitors didn’t find this depth of the AM to be all that intrusive. Wrapping Alec’s grip around the milk, she got resignedly up on her feet again. Shutting the door behind her, her hands went automatically to adjust whatever her hair might be doing before she was forced to confront company. A glance into a small mirror told her that there wasn’t much point to even try. Casting her inherent sense of respectability aside, she swung the front door wide open, ready to face the ill timed annoying music.
The man waiting out in the hallway didn’t seem very concerned with having woken anyone up. He looked her up and down in a way that made Cindy want to slam the door so it would catch the guy hard in the chin. Lucky for him, she wasn’t in a very caustic mood at the moment. Forcing a smile, she pretended that her damp shirt wasn’t clinging quite so perfectly to her boobs. She was pretty sure that it appeared as if she had just been working a wet T-shirt contest like the rent depended on it. Trying to get a look over her shoulder, the man’s voice held a vague but warranted suspicion.
“Are you Mrs. Cora?”
Leaning in the doorway she did what she usually did when she didn’t have much of a choice.
“That’d be me.”
Cross posted to jam_pony_fic
Cross posted to darkangelfic
Cross posted to x5_darkangel_x5