[personal profile] trinityday
Title: Alphabits: Cold
Fandom: Dark Angel
Characters: Max/Alec
Word Count: 831
Written for: nickeldime17's alphabet challenge for Max and Alec lovers.

“X5-452,” she rattles off.

There are more numbers than that. 332960073452. A series of bars on the back of her neck that she learned how to decipher about the same time that she learned the letters of the English alphabet.

She’s rarely asked for the rest of it, however, since most of them can’t read the codes without some external assistance.

A tech explained it to her once. Those twelve numbers are the sum of her existence.

33 is her series, another way of saying that she is an X5, thirty-third in the line of prototypes to make the ultimate American soldier.

296 is her classification. She is a combat model, like the rest of the X5s. She is a night model, able to function on even fewer hours of sleep than most others. She is an infiltrator, ideal for solo operations.

0073 are DNA markers, a key to who and what donated genetic material to her cocktail. The tech supposes that somewhere in the facility, there are files that explain these numbers further, but he hasn’t seen it and he doesn’t care.

452 are junk numbers. Originally, they described the sequence in which embryos were cooked up in the labs, but as more and more transgenics survived infancy and their handlers realized just how much of a mouthful it was to call them by their full barcode each and every time, the scientists started taking shortcuts.

The first to share her DNA markers died before reaching its first birthday, complications of Myelodysplasia (common in earlier transgenics, but eradicated by the time the X4s were rolled out).

The second had been identified as an anomaly very early on, but had survived until its sixth year, at which point it lost a fight with another anomaly and had to be put down.

Neither of them had been Xs.

“State your designation,” they order.

She recites it perfectly.

Inside, she screams, “Max! Max! My name is Max!”

She doesn’t say this out loud, not anymore.

She wonders if that’s the beginning.

~*~


Alec liked to talk. It didn’t take people long to realize this when they first met him.

He was always going on about something, often how great he was or how many girls he’d slept with, even how easy life was for him. Others might have hated him for it if it weren’t for his undeniable charm and the silver tongue that was able to talk him out of almost as many scrapes as it talked him into. She might have hated him for it, except she knew what it was like to have a voice for the first time in your life.

Not that it ever stopped her from kicking his ass when his gabbing brought guards down on them because everyone else in the world knew that heists work better when you’re quiet.

But one thing he never talked about was his time in psy-ops. Aside from a few pithy remarks about how she couldn’t understand, he shut her out completely, tried to act as if the experience had never happened.

She doubts he ever knew just how much that gave away.

~*~


She wonders why Manticore put her with him. They knew the history. There were reports, collected confessions from everyone involved. Everyone knew how close they’d been while working together in pursuit of that impossible dream. They even brought them back together, kicking and clawing and bleeding, Max collapsing seconds after Alec did, the tasers too much for her body.

~*~


“Alec,” she tries calling him once. That bemused expression, even though they were alone, without Manticore, without cameras, without even strangers on the street around to hear them, was so unlike him that it shut her down.

That bemused, foreign expression, not the fear of getting caught, not the fear of punishment and reprisal, that expression was the reason she never tried calling him that again.

~*~


“Mandy,” he croons, his tongue taking especial pleasure in the second syllable, a promise of things to come. The intonation is so much like the way he used to say her name. “Maxie.” She wonders why she ever resented him for doing so.

She melts a bit and she knows that the marks have fallen for the idea that they’re young and in love and without a care in the world.

“Mandy,” he calls her later, when they’re alone, using that same inflection, staring at her so intensely that even she might believe they truly are that love-sick couple their cover calls for.

She’s too grateful of the way he thrusts into her, even if the technique is nothing like the way she used to hear his conquests boast about.

She’s too willing to respond to a name that is not her own, even as she refuses to call him anything at all.

~*~


Transgenics have a core temperature of 101.8 degrees, but when she lies there, listening to him snore softly beside her, it’s all she can do to stop from shivering.
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October 2013

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