spending 10 minutes on google trying to figure out what sector Logan lives in is 10 minutes too long...
Title: Side Effects
Rating: PG - Gen - Alec & Cindy
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: DA & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Tossing back the 80 proof she wondered why the transgenic bothered with flimsy embellishments. It was like decorating a shot of diesel fuel with a maraschino cherry.
The narrow staircase went straight down like a ladder.
Someone thought the descent’s ambiance would be enhanced by coating the bare brick walls on either side of the concrete steps with bright scarlet paint. It hadn’t been touched up in a while. With the absence of railings she kept both hands on either side as she carefully climbed down. Her fingertips passed over chipped patches where the paint had peeled away to other various shades of red that had been layered one on top of the other. The scuffed cement under her feet was worn down to a polished gray.
Wishing she hadn’t worn such excessive heels, Cindy took each step one at a time, leaving the heavy salt air of the harbor and descending into the unventilated confines of the passageway. It got warmer the closer she got to the bottom. The scent of stale cigarette smoke seeped up through the tunnel along with the warmth of concentrated body heat.
The cave below was nothing but a stutter of strobes that vibrated harshly to the pounding bass line of grinding music. Every year or so the industry rehashed some tried and true tracks from the last century and called it the next best thing. The same three chords had been resurrected so many times that retro no longer retained any trace of its novelty. It wasn’t until she got to the bottom of the vertical set of steps that she could really see the place. Glad no one was crowding her on the claustrophobic journey down, she saw that the basement venue was an even bigger dump than she had already anticipated. The ceiling was too low to make it feel wide open but it was a whole lot more spacious than its deceptively tiny entrance in the alleyway above.
A flushed faced girl emerged from out of the packed throng.
Feigning some shyness, the stranger brushed back the bleached blond hair that was clinging to her face and shoulders with sweat. Most of the place was dancing, the hammer of synchronized feet thumping against the floor in manic time. The churning sea of arms and hands were briefly ignited whenever the antiquated laser lights skimmed the top of the crowd.
The club kid shifted hopefully in her baby doll shoes.
Any conversation by the thrumming amplifiers would have to be shouted directly into the ear. Instead of trying, the girl drew closer bringing the smolder of her humidity and backbeat of faded perfume. Cindy could smell the tang of gin and limes as her damp cheek brushed hers.
Cindy did in fact have some pills in her pocket but they weren’t for sale.
“Sorry baby.” She replied. “Try the bathrooms.”
As she pushed her way to the back bar, her thoughts drifted to another joint like this one that had been just a few streets down the same block. It had closed only a few days earlier because there had been a fire in the submerged cellar turned club. Only six people had made it out of the packed dive alive and everyone said it should have been less considering it only had one exit. The bar turned a corner and Cindy followed it to a slightly less noisy dead end. Searching for a vacant seat, she imagined a panicked surge of stoned and wasted humanity trying to claw back up the narrow red stairs all at the same time.
She tried to catch the attention of one of the bartenders by pretending to tip an empty over onto the floor. Looking around behind the bar she was surprised to see a familiar face digging beers out of the cooler and tipping the bottles.
A familiar back anyway.
When she reached out to nudge Alec’s elbow she didn’t expect him to jerk back into the counter in surprise. The nervous reaction startled her just about as much as it had him.
“Sorry.” Alec looked uneasily over his shoulder before turning back around. “Can’t hear jack in here.”
Cindy looked him doubtfully up and down.
“Since when you work here?”
Alec slid a foaming pitcher towards a waiting patron and gave Cindy a lopsided smile.
“I’m not officially on the payroll.” He explained. “I’m just filling in for a dear sick friend of mine.”
Cindy watched him pocket some money from another club goer that had nothing do with the exchange of watered down alcohol. She had to admit, it was a good spot to get some work done. Unloading some dope was a breeze with a convenient location, a cash register for change and the handy marketing device of word of mouth. He rubbed tiredly at his eyes and forced a smile to the next impatient customer. Even with the violet and blue lights flashing she could tell he was looking a tad on the pale side. The usual annoyingly spry energy was completely absent and he didn’t appear to be in a very good mood.
“Everything okay?” She ventured.
“Huh?” Alec leaned closer in irritation as the roaring music shifted upwards in volume. “What?”
It was comforting to know that the chaos made him just as sensory deprived as she was. She almost told him that what made him so uncomfortable was exactly what he was always trying so hard to imitate all the time.
“I said I need a Castillo!”
Cindy slid her cash over for the most economical plastic cup of rum they had. It figured that Alec would be the last bartender alive clinging to the dead art of cocktails. Instead of simply dumping a raw hit like she’d paid for, he had added pineapple syrup right from the can and a few ice cubes. Tossing back the 80 proof she wondered why the transgenic bothered with flimsy embellishments. It was like decorating a shot of diesel fuel with a maraschino cherry.
“Hear about the fire down the street?” Alec offered conversationally.
“Was just not thinkin’ about it actually.”
Cindy noticed he had completely ignored her money. That was one nice thing about knowing someone behind the register. Your night always got a hell of a lot cheaper. When an incoherent DJ announcement drew the bustle away to the dance floor, Alec took the advantage of the lull to abandon his post. Ducking under the bar, he came around the side and sagged into a seat next to her.
“Wanna dance?” She asked just to see the look on his face.
Now that he was closer she could see that she was correct in her earlier observation. There was no color to the transgenic’s cheeks and his movements were strangely sluggish. Frowning a little, she thought she’d give it another try.
“You been doin’ some of that dust you dealing?”
“Nah.” Alec’s gaze flickered in distraction over the crowd. “I’m here for the free booze.”
“You can get better rotgut elsewhere.” Cindy said with a shrug. “Better lookin’ ladies too.”
“They’re not so bad.” Alec was looking behind her.
Cindy followed the direction of his gaze. She had to admit, the person Alec had spotted wasn’t too shabby. She wasn’t too shabby at all. A lot of the girls that danced until their feet bled had the looks of a tweaker. All chemicals and no sustenance. Spending days and nights strung out did a lot for weight loss but it didn’t do much for anything else. It was hard to find anyone in their prime these days, but it was even harder to find someone down in one of these pits that didn’t look like they belonged there.
Catching the girl’s attention, Cindy fixed the hem clinging on the precarious borders of her cleavage.
“What are you doing?” Alec asked in alarm.
“I’m doin’ what I do.” She replied, easing back on the barstool with one elbow and tilting her chin in the pretty direction.
“Nah uh.” Alec shook his head. “I saw her first, I was here first and besides she’s not into chicks—“
“How do you know?”
“Well, I actually have no idea but she looks like a girl that could really appreciate a good—“
“Yes! I mean no. I mean yes?”
Alec watched in annoyance as Cindy artfully stroked back her hair and assumed a pose.
“It’s not fair.”
“Don’t you read?” She asked. “All is fair in love and war, sugar.”
“But you look better.”
That was true.
She appreciated his realistic approach to the odds. No woman she knew would declare the facts so pragmatically. At the moment she did look a hell of lot better but that was no accident. Her prep work for a late night tour of the bars usually took a two hour minimum and that didn’t include nails and hair. Alec typically rolled off his muddy wheels and into the nearest bar directly after 12 hours on a shift. Some of those geniuses back at that Manticore lab went out of their way to build their kids unobjectionable, but that would only get a guy so far. Nobody in their right mind was going to be paying attention to the fine genetic craftsmanship once the potent smell of used bike messenger hit.
She tore her attention away from the target long enough to notice the odd glass Alec had in his hand.
“What the heck is that?”
Alec wasn’t sipping from a small glass of amber whiskey as usual. Instead, he had one of those tall high ball glasses filled with something vaguely pinkish with a bizarre tint of orange. He grimaced around another gulp of the beverage colored like a nuclear sunset.
“Dunno.” Alec shrugged. “Some guy kept buying them for a lady down there but she left over an hour ago so I just started drinking them myself. I mean they’re paid for and everything so I figure why let them go to waste—“
“You been drinkin’ freebies from some loser lookin’ to get laid?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess so, but its cool, I even passed him a phone number so if Sketchy starts getting erotic voice mail from some old dude you’ll know who to thank—“
Cindy removed the glass from his hand and cautiously sniffed at it.
“Honey, you never drink a freebie offered by a desperate man.” She said. “This shit is loaded with roofies.”
“Did I stutter?”
“Wait. You mean Rohypnol? The sedative, anxiolytic, and skeletal muscle relaxant commonly used for kidnapping and sexual assault?”
“None other.” Cindy chucked the glass’s tainted contents onto the concrete floor. “How many of these things did you have?”
“Fourteen.” Alec looked worriedly at his appropriated glass. “And one half.”
“But how do you know it’s in there?” Alec’s skepticism was tinged with genuine curiosity. “That compound is virtually undetectable—“
“Let’s say this girl has been around the block a few times.”
“But-But how do you know that it’s—“
“I got a better question.” Cindy took his chin in hand to examine his dilated eyes. “How the hell you still standing?”
Alec shirked back, aggravated by the contact, but too dazed to do much else. However, he did manage to appear a little proud of his uncanny tolerance to date rape drugs.
“Well, to be honest, I do feel a little weird. I thought maybe it was because I’ve been up for a few days and I haven’t really been eating right but you know how hard it is to.. to…uh…um…”
The transgenic’s glazed eyes wandered for a moment before coming back sharply into focus.
“What-what was I saying?” He blinked rapidly as though the sparking camera flash of the lights pained him. "Man, its cold in here."
Though the room was nearly stifling with the heat of over a hundred crammed bodies, Alec's flesh was cool to the touch. A fine sweat had darkened his hair against his forehead. Whatever natural immunity he had, his body had passed the saturation point and was now swiftly headed for a crash.
Her fingers lingered on his clammy wrist to feel the hectic heartbeat.
She looked regretfully at the piece of ass that was aggressively pretending not to be staring back in their direction. It was impossible to tell whether the chick was checking out her or Alec, but it didn’t matter much now.
It had almost begun to feel like a promising night too.
“Okay.” She sighed. “Let’s go.”
She grabbed him under the arm and thanks to the drugs, encountered only minor resistance when she made to haul him onto his feet. His weight reeled a little against her before he managed to steady himself, nearly throwing her and her platform wedges off kilter.
“W-Where are we going? I’m not done, I have five more ounces to unload before last call—“
“Your ass is leaving before some guy offers you a ride home to take a look at his stamp collection.”
“W-Why …. would….I…” Alec stumbled along behind her, his voice beginning to slur. “…would I want to see some guy’s stamp collection?”
“Benzodiazepines can make a boy do funny things.”
His unsure footing nearly toppled several dancers as she dragged him towards the glare of the red stairs. They had to stop several times on the climb up. Alec was starting to get heavier and Cindy was getting glad she’d made the snap decision to make a speedy exit. The innate imperviousness the X5’s body had employed to plough through untold milligrams of tranquilizers was quickly breaking down. So were his powers of speech.
“…w-what’s the rush… slow it down…”
The bite of fresh air made her anxiety ease off a little bit. The sight of an unoccupied taxicab idling at the curb brought a smile of relief. Yanking open the passenger door, she sent a heartfelt thanks to the powers above that never seemed to mind doing her small favors. Pushing Alec in the backseat first, she slid in after him with another prayer that his stomach kept down all fourteen doses during the bumpy car ride ahead. The bored man behind the wheel didn’t appear to be disturbed by Alec’s losing battle with consciousness. Cindy supposed that sitting outside of nightclubs for a living didn’t lead one to be shocked by crippling displays of intoxication.
“Sector 20.” Cindy ordered.
The cabbie regarded her suspiciously.
“That’s three check points worth of fees.” He warned. “You can pay for all that?”
It was a brief dig through her purse to find the cell phone, and another few seconds to scroll to the right number. She listened impatiently to the sound of the incessant ring.
A drowsy voice finally broke through the static of the signal.
“Hey, Logan! Glad yer awake.”
She cleared her throat and tried to sound cordial.
“Sorry to bother you but I gotta situation of the grim kind.”
Cindy looked resignedly at the near comatose transgenic that had slumped over and was drooling on her shoulder.
“You mind meetin’ me in front of your building?”
The moment of confused silence on the line was followed by exactly what she wanted to hear.
“Great! Oh, and bring some cash.” She hastily added. “Couple hundred oughta cover it.”
It seemed prudent to end the call there even if Logan was in the middle of a pertinent sentence. Clutching the phone in her lap, Cindy squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath.
“…I ‘ink I’m ‘onna puke…” Alec mumbled into her neck.
It was a good thing she never wore anything to the clubs that she didn’t mind getting a little dirty.
cross posted to: jam_pony_fic