Rating: PG - Gen - Alec & Cindy
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: DA & characters are owned by their various creators.
Beta: Thank you Kat!
Summary: Alec is at work on his day off and Cindy wants to know what's up with that.
Rolling down the ramp and into the bustle of Jam Pony was a welcome relief.
If a storm was hanging over the city then the place offered some shelter out of the rain. If it was a sweltering summer day the half submerged basement was always 10 degrees cooler than the baked pavement above. But no matter the condition of the weather, returning back to base also meant only one of two things, another run or the sight of an empty dispatch counter.
Cindy was always up for making more money, but she liked going home even more.
“Hey!” Normal had more employees than stars in the sky and he called them all by one name. “You! Hustle it over here. Double time!”
She had been headed for her locker but decided to grant the flustered man an audience. Feeling charitable after a fruitful morning along the wealthy waterfront, she was still riding the high of having two months rent in her pocket. One more run today wouldn't kill her. Besides, all the jobs that came in this late had the bonus of being extremely urgent and ridiculously expensive.
However, when she arrived at the counter, Normal had nothing ready for her but a question.
“What's going on?” he attempted to whisper over the shrill ring of phones. “Speak quickly.”
Cindy glanced around at the other bikers milling around the room. With the broken vending machine asking repeatedly for assistance (in Japanese) and the scent of backed up toilets everything appeared to be business as usual. Well, the channel hack on the break TV was a new one. Disney themed porn set to classic rock wasn't really her thing, but it was at least keeping everyone awake.
Normal didn't seem very worried about the adult entertainment blaring overhead where the news was supposed to be. In fact, he was so distracted that he didn't even notice The Little Mermaid nor her shells popping up on all the dispatch monitors.
“Try bein' a tad specific,” she suggested. “What's goin' on wit what?”
There weren't an overabundance of 'hims' in Cindy's life. And truth be told, she'd been wondering about Alec too. She'd noticed him when she had pedaled down the ramp and was surprised to see him still hanging around. When she'd left the dispatch early in the AM he'd been in the exact same chair doing the exact same thing.
She pointed across the room at the transgenic and waved her finger back and forth for some added emphasis.
“That is not mine,” Cindy flipped her bangs from her eyes. “If that boy ain't doin' his job that don't ever even begin to become my problem--”
“He took the day off.”
Cindy blinked in confusion.
“If you kids get sick, you have to fill out a form.” Normal slid a pink piece of paper over to her. “And then you gotta go home.”
She turned to study Alec again. He didn't look sick. With a big stack of books sitting next to him on the floor, all he looked like was real comfy.
“Make sure he signs it,” Normal told her. “In triplicate.”
“Sure thing,” she snatched it from his hand. “I'll get right on it.”
By the time she'd changed out of her gear and into something vaguely clean, she was feeling better than good. She felt sprightly enough to consider doing her boss a favor and delivering his paperwork. Cindy crumpled up the pink form and aimed it right for Alec's head. To her disappointment he caught it before it made satisfying contact with his face. Still absorbed in his reading, he turned it into a perfect shot at the garbage can. She tried to kick his knapsack aside and realized it was stuffed with even more books. Ignoring her stubbed toe, she raised an eyebrow at Alec's clothing. If she was not mistaken he was wearing the exact same get up he'd had on the previous day.
“You uh, you been here all night?”
Alec nodded without looking up from the large text spread out over his lap.
“They have places for this kind of thing you know,” she said. “They're called park benches.” Cindy stole a peek at what it was that could keep the transgenic engaged for a 24 hour span of time. “I think this town might even have a library or two left over somewhere--”
“Power's out downtown,” Alec informed her. “”Sides, way too quiet in there. I can hear everyone breathing. It's gross.”
Cindy frowned at the elaborate drawings on the over sized pages. There actually wasn't much to read amongst the cross sections and mystifying diagrams. After staring at it a bit longer she abruptly realized she was looking at a dissected cathedral. The next page was a suspension bridge. The one after that was that new Channel 5 space station they launched last year. Some extremely precise artist had taken each construction apart piece by piece and turned it all inside out.
She never figured Alec for picture books but fun was fun. However, she still wasn't real clear on why he was spending precious off hours within shouting distance of Normal.
“You should do this at home,” she fell into the chair opposite him. “You know that place that isn't where you work?”
“Power's down there too.”
“Since when you need the lights on?”
“Despite my awesomeness,” Alec flicked a page back in annoyance. “I can't read in the dark.”
Cindy considered the statement with a strong dose of doubt. On more than one occasion she'd witnessed Alec perform some extraordinary feats in near darkness. From spotting fake twenty dollar bills in a dim bar, to helpful warnings about dead cats in pitch black alleyways. It was like he was equipped with his own set of headlights.
“Whatever you say,” she shrugged. “But I bet you can read blindfolded. In a cave even.”
“Maybe I don't want to.”
Normal's regular shouting rose to a piercing shriek somewhere behind them. There was a collective groan of disappointment around the room when the porn under the sea clicked off.
Alec tried to stare harder at his book but Cindy knew her own questioning stare would win.
“I... I can't... ya see I come here because I...”
“Spit it out, sugar.”
Alec chewed at his lip for a second before finally looking her in the eyes.
“Technology is all about give and take,” he let the large book sag in his lap. “When you increase the value of one thing you gotta decrease the value of another.”
“Okay, forget this,” Cindy got ready to leave. “You and your cryptic ass can sit here all day and be obtuse all by yourselves--”
“My eyes.” Alec mumbled. “Manticore gave me acuity but they had to trade it for something else.”
“Trade?” she frowned. “What do ya mean trade?”
Cindy suddenly had an uncomfortable reminder of how much animal DNA had been used in the X5 construction. She glanced uncertainly back at the pages of intricate vivisection under Alec's hands.
“Y-You sayin yer color blind or somethin'?”
“Not exactly,” Alec laughed a little and tried at a smile. “I can shoot a rat off a fence at 50 yards but I couldn't describe the hue of its guts. Hell, I couldn't even tell you much about the fence.”
It was strangely easy to envision a crystal clear world filled to the brim with details but completely washed out. The same pale blue sky every day of the year. Every tree a uniform green. The sun always an identical orange glow on the horizon.
She reached out and took the book with all the various shades and pigments blended on its paper. The stain glass windows of a century old cathedral ablaze with every color she'd ever heard of and then every other one in between. Looking up she realized Alec had situated himself beneath the brightest collection of overhead fluorescents that Jam Pony had.
Alec noticed her squinting up into the obnoxious glare.
“I can see a lot more when the gradient of light is high,” his hands worked on the armrests. “I think sometimes I can see as much as anyone else.”
The text under the photo of the church caught her eye. It said Cobalt blue. Her thoughts lingered over the mosaic of angels and heavens before she smiled.
“Ya know what that looks like?” she tapped it. “It looks like the ocean. But when its real late, right before the sun goes down and all the water gets dark but light at the same time.”
“Yeah,” Alec nodded. “When it looks really blue?”
“And that one, it looks like those lights they flash down at Crash, the red ones? They look like--”
Alec considered the picture for a moment before flipping the pages back to the front.
“Start on the first one,” he ordered. “And don't skimp on the adjectives.”
cross posted jam_pony_fic