Categories > TV > Dark Angel > Flower Child

Chapter 2

by AmandaK 2 Reviews

Alec experiences moments of temporary insanity. Are his genetics finally catching up with him and is he doomed to follow in Ben's footsteps? Or is something else the matter? Dr. Carr has his suspic...

Category: Dark Angel - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst - Characters: Alec, Joshua, Max - Published: 2006/02/20 - Updated: 2006/02/20 - 2252 words

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FLOWER CHILD

Max found him, hours later, at the second place she looked, the first being Crash. He was sitting on the rim of the Needle's plateau, legs dangling dangerously over the edge. He stared at his toes. Far below, advancing dusk wrapped Seattle in long shadows.

"Alec?" she asked softly, approaching him cautiously, though he must have heard her come up the stairs.

"Go away, Max." She could barely recognize his voice.

"Alec, what happened?"

"What happened?" His tone was bitter. "Max, you were there. What happened is, I attacked you."

"Why?"

Alec raised his head and twisted around to stare at her. He wasn't always easy to read, but she had learned how to detect the deeper emotions lurking beneath the happy-go-lucky facade. The hazel-green eyes that held her transfixed were dark with fright.

"I don't know why, all right?" he spat. "Maybe--" His voice broke. He swallowed hard and turned away to gaze out across the sprawling city.

Max nodded, though his back was to her. It was as she thought. At first, she had been too furious with him to really consider what he'd done, but once she calmed down she had remembered the perplexed look on his face after she kicked him. That's when she had gone looking for him. "Alec, whatever it is, we'll figure it out." She put a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off.

"No, you don't understand. Today wasn't the first time it happened."

It was Max's turn to shrink away, fear growing in her heart. What if he--no. She would not think about it. Not yet. "You attacked other women?"

Alec barked a humorless laugh. "No. Joshua."

Max's mind reeled. "You tried to force yourself on /Joshua/?"

"Yeh." He got to his feet, stood at the edge, hands dangling at his side. She tensed as he peered over the side at the darkening streets below.

Alec turned toward her. The expression on his face was so forlorn, so lost and scared, that she could not help forgive him no matter what. The man in her apartment had not been Alec. Her big-hearted, self-centered, pain-in-the butt, smart Alec, upon whom she could always count to have her back, even when he disagreed with her, would not have assaulted her--or Joshua. Whatever was going on with him, there had to be a rational explanation.

"Max..." He hesitated. For long moments she thought he wasn't going to continue. Then, hardly audible, he whispered, "What if... Is this what happened to my twin? To Ben? Am I going insane? Because if I am..." He glanced over his shoulder, where hundreds of feet below the lights of Seattle stretched out.

"No," Max said firmly, denying his fears even though they echoed her own. "You are /not /Ben. Alec, for all its faults, Manticore was thorough. They poked and prodded you for six months after Ben died."

"Don't remind me," he said wryly.

"If there was even the slightest chance you had Ben's mental flaw, they'd have discovered it." She reached out, took his hand. His fingers were cool between hers. "Come on. It has to be something else. We'll find out what, and then we'll fix it." She tugged gently, and he reluctantly took a step forward, away from the edge.

"Where we going?"

"To see Dr. Carr.

o0o

Alec followed her mutely up the driveway to Sam Carr's private residence, a single-story bungalow in sector eleven. He waited at her side, shoulders slumped, while she rang the bell.

"Let's go," he said lowly after a minute had passed and Carr hadn't answered the door. "Nothin' he can do, anyway."

"You don't know that," Max said. She rang the bell again, keeping her finger on the buzzer for half a minute.

A few moments later the door opened. Dr. Carr stood in the doorway, looking oddly young without his white coat. Small, round reading glasses perched on his nose. "Max? I'm sorry. I was--" He caught a good look of their faces. "Something I can help you with?"

"Yes," Max said.

"I doubt it," Alec said.

Carr's eyes shifted from one transgenic to the other. He swung the door wider and stepped aside. "Come in."

He preceded them down a hallway and into a small, warmly lit study. It was cramped with bookcases, and untidy piles of books and medical magazines covered every flat surface. "Sorry for the mess. My wife is visiting her family in Denver." He cleared a few books off the couch and gestured for them to take a seat. Max did, but Alec, seemingly too tense to remain still, hovered by the door.

"So, what's wrong?" Carr asked, studying them both over the rim of his glasses.

"It's Alec," Max said. "He's been experiencing--" She hesitated. How to phrase it? "Episodes."

Near the door, Alec made a sound, but he did not speak.

"Episodes," Carr repeated. "Of what kind?"

"Of the attacking Max and trying to force myself on her, kind," Alec snarled.

Max sighed and shrugged at Carr's wide-eyed questioning look. "He assaulted me earlier today. I kicked his ass. And he forgets to mention he went after Joshua a while ago."

"/Joshua?/" Dr. Carr echoed dumbly. He sounded as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. Max couldn't blame him; she'd used pretty much that same tone of voice an hour ago.

"Yeah. Rather an insane thing to do, wouldn't you say?" Alec said sourly.

"Alec's afraid he's going crazy," Max explained. "Like Ben."

Dr. Carr's brows rose with incomprehension. "Ben?"

Max realized she had never told the doctor about her brother. There had never been any need. "Ben was Alec's genetic twin," she explained in a soft voice. "X5-493. He went psychotic. Killed a bunch of people." She didn't dare look at Alec; he must know how much it cost her to tell Carr about her brother. But Ben was in the past, and it was Alec who needed her now.

"Ah." Carr took off his glasses and started polishing them furiously. "When, exactly, do these spells happen?" he asked. "And what are the symptoms you exhibit?"

"Symptoms?" Alec exploded in anger. In a fraction of a second he stood towering over Carr. "I assaulted Max! Rubbed myself all over her! What more do you need? A demonstration? A blow-by-blow account?"

Carr flinched before the furious X5 but to his credit, he held his ground. "As a matter of fact, yes. Anything you can remember about these 'episodes', as you call them, could be important. When did they happen, under what circumstances did they occur, how long did they last."

Alec let out a breath and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He flopped down tiredly beside Max. She wanted to reach out, take his hand in support but feared he would not let her. He wasn't very good at allowing people in.

"With Joshua," Alec said, "it happened about two weeks ago. I went up to the roof garden to talk to him about something. You know how proud he is of that," he added to Max.

"Yes." Max smiled. Joshua kept her abreast of each bud and sprout that appeared. Proud didn't begin to cover it. She told Carr, "Some of our people have started growing herbs and vegetables. And Joshua is amazing with those plants. Looks like Sandeman not only used a dash of Picasso, but also a touch of P. Allen Smith when he made Joshua."

Carr nodded. "I see. So, what happened?"

"Josh was pottering around with some shrub. He called it field balm. Next thing I know, I'm all over the poor guy." Alec frowned. "I do remember it was warm that day, and that I didn't like the way those flowers smelled. They made me dizzy." He shrugged. "Anyway, I told Josh not to tell anyone, and tried very hard to forget it ever happened. Until today."

"When the same thing happened with Max," Carr said. "Where was this? Also in the garden?"

"No, in my apartment," Max answered. "In Terminal City." She was quiet for a moment, remembering. Something had been odd. "Alec looked... confused, right before it happened. A bit out of it. Like he'd had one Scotch too many, or something."

"I hadn't," Alec snapped. "Haven't had a drink in three days. Besides, I don't get drunk. High metabolism, remember?"

"I didn't say you did," Max countered, "I said you looked like it."

"What else?" Carr prodded.

She took a minute to collect her thoughts, her mind running through the events of that morning, looking for more details that she could give the doctor. Though Alec's unexpected charge had shaken her to her core, she realized she had not felt frightened for a single moment. To the contrary. "It wasn't sexual," she said.

"What? Max, I was /all over you/!" Alec protested.

"Yes, I know. But not... You didn't try to kiss me or anything. You were just..." She stammered while she searched for the right words to explain. She could feel her face heat up as she spoke but forced herself to keep meeting his eye. Alec felt bad enough already; there was no need to add her embarrassment to his burden of guilt. Still, though she spoke the truth about his intentions, her body's response had been something else. She recollected the feel of his hands on her arms, how his fingers burned her skin; his weight holding her down... She shivered, then mentally kicked herself. From the pained look in Alec's eyes, he'd caught the shiver and misinterpreted it. "You were rubbing against me. Almost like..." She hesitated. "Like a cat in heat."

"That's the second time someone uses the word 'rub'," Carr muttered. "An odd choice of words. I wonder..." His voice trailed off a moment before he sat forward, eyes gleaming. "Max may be on to something. You got cat in your DNA, like she does?" he asked Alec.

Alec shrugged. "Yeah. Most of the X-series do. What's that got to do with any of it? I don't see Max--"

Carr cut him short. "Max," he said, almost breathless, "do you have any plants at home?"

She stared at him. "Yes, I do. Matter of fact, I remember Alec looking at it, right before--"

Carr didn't wait for her to finish. He jumped up, startling them both, and hurried to a bookcase. He returned a moment later with a thick volume. Max cocked her head to read the title. New Encyclopedia of Herbs And Their Uses. Her brow furrowed. What was Carr thinking about?

He browsed through the book quickly, the pages rustling. "Ah, there." He turned the book upside down and showed Max a picture of a plant. It had heart-shaped leaves and pink and white flowers.

"That's the one," she said, surprised. "How'd you figure?"

Dr. Carr chortled. Alec glared at him, clearly failing to see anything humorous in the situation, but Max felt relief. She trusted Carr. If he thought it was amusing, whatever was wrong with Alec couldn't be too serious.

"Look at the description," Carr said, laughter in his voice.

Alec's shoulder brushed hers when he scooted nearer to peer at the book in her hand.

"Field balm is a herbal medicine that is used for restlessness, nervousness, and insomnia," he read out loud. "It is also known as catwort or catnip... /Catnip/?"

If she hadn't heard it for herself, Max would never have believed Alec capable of producing a squeak. He fell against the couch, the look on his face one of such flabbergasted comprehension that she felt like laughing out loud.

"So," he said in a faint voice, "I'm not headed for the loony bin?"

Max gave in to the urge to laugh. She hadn't known how worried she'd been until Carr solved the mystery. "No, pretty boy. No more than any house cat."

He grimaced at her, for once at a loss for a witty comeback.

Max turned to Carr. "Why am I not affected?" she asked. "Like Alec said, I have cat in my cocktail too."

Carr shrugged. "It's a hereditary condition," he explained. "Not all cats react to it." He turned to Alec. "I suppose your DNA comes from a catnip-sensitive animal. Max's doesn't."

Alec rolled his eyes. "Great. So I'm the only one who gets to go nuts whenever I get near that damn weed," he groused, but Max could see his immense relief in the way he held himself, the way tense muscles had uncoiled when understanding sank in. She sympathized; she felt the same way.

o0o

A few minutes later they strolled down the path to where her bike was parked. Alec was quiet until they reached the end of the driveway.

"Max?"

She looked up at him. The expression in his eyes was intense, sincere.

"I'm sorry. You know I'd never--"

"Shh." She reached up and placed a finger against his lips. "No apology necessary. You were intoxicated. I know you never think of me /that way/."

She swung a leg over the saddle of her Ninja and chuckled. "Just remind me to never give you/ /flowers on your birthday. Hop on, pretty boy."

Alec's reply was lost in the sound of the bike's engine roaring to life. Likely, Max thought while she raced them down the street, enjoying the wind in her hair and pleased with the knowledge that disaster had been staved off yet again, that was for the best.

--END--
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