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[personal profile] tanaquiljall
Written for [community profile] fic_promptly prompts. Thanks to [personal profile] scribblesinink, who betaed all the pieces. Lengths are 260, 320, 360, 395 and 310 words.

Prompt: Dark Angel, Alec, fear of being confined

A Prison Life

At Manticore, they were taught to fear nothing. If they demonstrated a phobia—a fear of heights or water or spiders—it was drilled out of them. With exposure, with confrontation, with mental techniques to dissociate body and mind. And so Alec is fearless—to the point of stupidity, as Max often reminds him.

Yet there's one fear he's never been able to quite shake. Where it takes every ounce of mental discipline to push past it and ignore it. He's never understood why this fear grips him the way it does: why it catches up with him abruptly in elevators and sewers and crawl spaces. Not until he begins to remember what they forced him to forget: Simon Lehane and Robert Berrisford and Rachel—.

And remembers, too, what they did to him to make him forget: the cramped space and the flashing images and whatever drugs they were pushing into him, until he walled off a part of his mind to be safe. But still it bleeds through, each time there's enough of an echo in the world out here to remind him of the world back there. Just as seeing the gates of Berrisford's place dredged up a few notes of the Chopin he'd been working on with Rachel.

As the net closes in around them—from the ordinaries and the cult and whoever the hell else thinks they own him—he knows more and more clearly that his one great fear is to be confined again in another prison of his own making, where he can't even tell the bars are there.


Prompt: Dark Angel, any, cooking

Hidden Depths

"Well, I'm sure there's something you could do for us to say thank you." Max smirks at Alec as if she can't imagine there's anything he could do that would make up for her saving his ass. Again.

Alec's about to blow her off—he doesn't need to take her crap—when his gaze falls on the kitchen. It's only a domestic set-up, but there's nothing shabby about anything in Logan's place. He turns back to Max. "I could cook you guys dinner. Assuming there's anything to cook." There's no evidence of food, but that big-ass refrigerator must surely have something in it other than beer.

Max splutters. "You?"

It's Alec's turn to smirk. "Manticore had me undercover as a private chef one time. Guy I was pretending to be? Had a Michelin star somewhere over in Europe." He pushes away the memory that it was yet another assassination mission and focuses on how much fun it was to create art on a plate.

Logan raises his eyebrows. "You're a world-class chef?"

"Near enough." There was the small matter of having grown up eating the crap Manticore had served its soldiers while having super-sensitive tastebuds, which meant it had taken him a dangerously long while to figure out how to season things properly. He crosses to the kitchen and opens a few cupboards. The contents may not be as good as he'd like but they're better than he'd expected.

Logan laughs and gestures, granting Alec the permission he didn't wait for. "Be my guest. If you can cater for four—" Alec nods at him to confirm it. "–I'll invite Asha over. We've a few things to discuss and it'll beat getting lousy takeout again."

Max is still looking irritated. "Don't think this means we're even," she warns Alec.

"Oh, I'd never think that," he murmurs to himself as he starts to lay out knives and bowls and saucepans on the countertop.


Prompt: Author's choice, author's choice, Somebody to Love

Ships in the Night

"See you home safe?"

Asha's about to refuse. She's not in the mood for company, after watching Logan and Max make googly eyes at each other over dinner, and then ending up arguing with both of them when Logan finally spares the time to discuss the stuff he invited her over for. Logan's so insulated, in his little penthouse bubble, from what life is really like, and Max doesn't fully understand how City politics works. And there'll be another row later if she sticks to her guns and does what she's sure is right.

But turning to face Alec after he helps her into her jacket, she can see he knows all that and understands. Her That's not necessary dies on her lips, and instead she says, "Sure. Thanks."

They're down on the street before either of them speaks again, Asha shoving her hands deep into her pockets and hunching her shoulders against the wind that's picked up in the last couple of hours.

"He's not coming back to you, you know," Alec says, very gently.

"I know." She's not even sure she wants Logan back, not like that. What she wants back is the way they used to work together on the things she cared about—they cared about—before he got mixed up in all this transgenic stuff. She slides a sideways glance at Alec. "She's not coming back to you, either."

Alec laughs, though there's a slight catch in it. "Never was mine in the first place. I just wish—." He takes Asha's elbow to guide her as they cross the street and holds on to it once they're back on the sidewalk. "That she'd take me seriously. Stop being so surprised—."

"That you can cook?" she teases, before adding more seriously, "It was a great meal, by the way. Thank you. I'm only sorry I wasn't in a better mood to appreciate it."

"I'll cook you another one," he promises. His hand is still on her elbow and she likes the feel of it there, remembering an evening when they got close and might have gotten closer still.

Throwing caution to the wind, she asks, "Do you do breakfasts?"


Prompt: Dark Angel, any, towel

Safe Haven

Asha's woken by the sound of the shower running. She stretches languidly, still a little tired, even though she's been asleep for—she checks the alarm clock—a good four hours. But her body is pleasantly worn out by Alec's lovemaking, tingling again at the mere memory of his hands and his lips on her, making her whimper and beg for more and finally cry out. Three times before they were finally done.

She knows that the whole time he was a little smug about the power he had over her, that he was getting off on it, but she doesn't care, because the sex was so damn good. And the one time she tensed and said "Don't—." he stopped and moved his hand to another place with a murmured, "Is this okay?"

The shower shuts off. Dragging herself away from the memories, she rolls over to see Alec coming out of the bathroom, hair only half dry and a towel wrapped around his hips. His body is muscled like the Greek statues she studied in college and she idly wonders how hard he has to work out or whether his transgenic genes help him stay that way.

Raising her gaze from that near-perfect body to his face, she sees he's grinning at her. "Hey, you're awake. Hope you don't mind...?" He tilts his head in the direction of the bathroom.

She shakes her head. She's suddenly a little shy, and when she sits up, she clutches the sheet to cover herself, even though he's seen and touched—and tasted!—every inch of her.

He sits on the edge of the bed and cups her cheek in his hand. "Are we okay?"

She nods. "So is that another of the skills Manticore taught you? For getting close to any female targets you need to assassinate?"

He tilts his head, considering his reply. "Would it matter if it was?"

She thinks about it for a moment. They're both products of their upbringing, and they neither of them can be blamed for that. What matters is the choices they make here and now, and Alec's shown he can make good choices—even if he sometimes needs a little push in the right direction.

She laughs and lets the sheet slip, while she rests her hand around his waist, sliding her fingertips under the edge of the towel as she pulls him toward her. "Nope."


Prompt: Dark Angel, Alec & any, useless talent number 66

Useless Talent #66

Alec caught the sound of someone cautiously following him from the bar when the guy was still fifty yards away. Plenty of time for Alec to finish counting the cash in his hands, divide it into two stacks, and tuck it into separate pockets, before he turned to face whoever was trying to sneak up on him.

"Max!" He'd expected it to be one of the dimwits he'd just hustled out of their money, come to try and get it back. Though he realized now that she'd been moving far too lightly and quietly to be some half-drunk ordinary.

"Nice trick." She tilted her head back in the direction of the bar.

He shrugged. "Useless talent number sixty six." It wasn't difficult to win any bar bet when you had genetically enhanced strength, reflexes and intelligence. And there were times when winning bar bets seemed like the only thing he could do with some of the skills he had.

"You know, we could use those talents back at TC." Max had crossed her arms and was tapping the fingers of her right hand irritably on her sleeve. "Instead of making a quick buck so you can—what are you going to spend it on?"

Alec sighed heavily. Always with the suspicion, even now. He pulled out the larger of the two wedges of bills and held it out to her. "We also need food. Medicine. Gas. I mean, I could steal that shit directly if you'd rather, but this seemed... easier. Cleaner. Less likely to lead back to TC."

Max's expression turned rueful as she accepted the money with a muttered thanks and slipped it inside her jacket. After a moment, she looked back up at him, her eyes dancing. "So, how many bars are there in this city and just how many more useless talents do you have?"
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May 2016


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