denyce: (DA: 494 as Simon)
[personal profile] denyce
Title: Tangled Weave
Author: Denyce
Fandom: Dark Angel
Pairing: Max-Alec (gen/het/friendship you can take your pick)
Rating: PG
Summary: Written for [livejournal.com profile] comment_fic, prompt: Max was surprised that she actually enjoyed Alec braiding her hair
Warnings: None
Word Count: 1501
Disclaimer: Not Mine! I don’t own nor make any monetary value! Borrowing characters strictly for fanfiction to share with other obsessive fans intended for harmless enjoyment.
Notes: Again a mega thank you goes out to [livejournal.com profile] snarkgoddess with lots of *hugs* And a very special shoutout of thanks to T & A for sparking my memory, and to Nicky for the practical experience/memory. Though you’ll never read this, still sending you *lots* of ♥ your way



The first time it happened, Alec did it out of annoyance.

It was windy to where Max’s hair kept whipping around and hitting Alec in the face. For Max personally, not having it in a braid was only slightly inconvenient at the worst of times, and that particular day was even less of a problem since the wind was blowing it behind her. Max couldn’t stop grinning when she remembered right where Alec had been standing. Alec initially tried to ignore it, but she could tell at the time that it was pissing him off.

Generally, it just wasn’t something she had a problem with. While Max would have to concede that for the last year, due to the length of her hair, whenever she went out on assignment, Max resorted to braiding her hair for convenience. Until she injured her hand. It was a severe burn that was healing- but slowly, and Max had to keep it wrapped.

With her hand bandaged, stiff and sore, braiding her hair was nearly impossible. A few times she asked Cindy to give it a shot. The end result was disastrous. Too loose with stray strands coming undone, an hour later the braid was a mess.

That first time, they were on the job. When Alec had finally had enough, she had been too stunned to stop him. Even without a comb or brush, Alec deftly gathered her hair. Quickly Alec raked his fingers through her hair and pulled it tight from the top. Fingers glided through, separating her hair into locks then weaving them into a tight single braid. Pinching to hold the end, he carefully transferred it to her hold. He ripped a small piece of fabric from his shirt and fashioned a tie to hold the braid together.

Utterly shocked, Max couldn’t stop herself from caressing her bandaged hand over the thick braid and marveling at the tight firmness of the braid. She didn’t have time to respond - never mind asking Alec how or when questions - before White’s goons discovered them and fighting commenced.

The second time, Max brought a brush. Nervously, she stalked Alec and waited until he was alone. She didn’t actually want to ask and was thankful when she didn’t have to - just showing Alec the brush was enough. She wasn’t sure what surprised her more: that Alec didn’t make any sarcastic remarks or how quickly he moved. He turned her around, the brush sweeping through her hair. His hand guided several strokes from underneath… Alec’s hand, his fingers ghosting over her barcode as he gathered her hair. It sent a shiver down her spine. His other hand reached up and added pressure tilting her head back toward him, commanding that she hold that position. The fingers of each hand moved, pulling, gathering strands on both sides of her head. He was half way done before she realized he was creating a French braid.

Max wanted to pull away and ask: how the hell did he even know what a French braid was or how to create one? Did Manticore assign X5’s to some kind of beautician class after she escaped, or was it just him? Did he also know how to give a manicure, a pedicure? She wanted to tease him. As Alec’s fingers moved though, sweeping through her hair, the soft gentleness, his skilled movements, quieted her mind. Enjoying the gentle pull from his fingers as he continued to gather her hair and weave the strands together, she noted the steady, slow, practiced rhythm and the tenderness, the dexterity that Alec displayed.

Though Alec was an X5, someone who could adapt to any given situation, Max was pretty damn sure Zack wouldn’t know how to braid hair, or Ben, for that matter … Why did Alec? He was done quicker than she wanted, leaving her with a desire for more and unanswered questions.

It shouldn’t bother her; she shouldn’t care, but Max couldn’t stop thinking about it. she never asked though, afraid that voicing a question and breaking the tentative silence they had fallen into from the beginning would destroy the luxurious tranquility of Alec’s fingers in her hair. It was like a spell - one she didn’t want to break.

It was quickly becoming a habit, as each day started, to quietly seek Alec out. Though she wouldn’t ask, Alec never refused nor even complained. In fact, neither of them talked. Max would turn, holding the brush ready for him to take it. Alec would quickly undo her braid from the day before then commence threading his fingers through her hair. He would take the offered brush to sort out any tangles before working on the new braid.

During the time in-between, they were the same with their usual bickering, snide remarks and quips. It was easy, natural, something they had always done since the day they met. The difference now was that any underlying hostility between them was gone.

It was awkward trying to find time and some privacy so others wouldn’t find out and ask questions, - questions she had no answer for. What they were doing was something more than Alec helping her out. That Alec brushed her hair and created a braid when she couldn’t wasn’t the problem. There was a but, though, a big one that Max couldn’t deny. Their reactions, how they kept it a secret from everyone else and didn’t talk—it was strange and would garner questions. Whatever this was that they did, were doing, though, Max didn’t want it to end.

At week’s end, instead of trying to find privacy, Max found herself at Alec’s doorstep, knocking. That day they had no assignment to rush off to, no one around who might interrupt or misunderstand. By the look on his face, Alec was surprised to see her standing there, when he answered the door, but it was routine enough that she didn’t even have to show him the brush. Alec nodded and moved aside, allowing her to come in.

Though today felt different, they quickly fell into their routine and didn’t talk.

Inside, Alec’s arm swept toward the couch, silently beckoning Max to take a seat. As she moved, Alec’s hand brushed her shoulder to stop her before she sat down. He nodded to indicate the floor before the seat he took on the couch. She almost snickered and had to bite back a sarcastic remark.

Kneeling, with her back to Alec, Max sat down between his legs. She immediately understood that it would be easier for him to braid her hair. Alec pulled the tie away and fingered through the braid, pulling her hair loose from the weave. It was obvious again that today was different; there was no need to rush, and Alec took full advantage of their time. Using both hands, he continued threading his fingers through her hair. The padded tips of Alec’s fingers raked and massaged over Max’s scalp as they moved.

At some point Alec, picked up the brush and moved it through her untangled hair stroke after stroke without stopping.

There were no overt or even subtle passes. There were only Alec’s fingers gently carding through her hair after the brush, his movements almost rhythmic-hypnotic. The gentle serenity of Alec’s brush strokes lulled Max in to a state of easy relaxation. Still, Alec never slowed or wavered from his task; he continued to brush Max’s untangled hair to a shimmering shine.

Max started to count, but after three hundred, she lost track and found herself floating, anchorless. Relaxing further, her body released built up tension and stress that she normally carried around every moment of every day.

How long they stayed like that, Max couldn’t say, but her mind wandered as Alec tirelessly brushed her hair; his fingers combing through, braiding, then undoing the braid only to re-braid it again… Alec’s fingers busily brushed over her neck, gently directing hair behind her ears. If she had seen any other couple doing what they’ve been doing, she’d say it was intimate, and it was. It was different, though, something more that Max couldn’t put her finger on. The intimacy, the tender care Alec took, it was… it was all non-sexual. Suddenly it dawned on Max: it was innocent. Alec, the Alec she knew, and innocence were things Max had a difficult time equating together - except she had seen a glimpse of it before.

Then she remembered… Rachel.

Whether it was her sigh when she realized the truth or that Alec felt her tense didn’t matter; Alec recognized that something had changed. He didn’t ask or question in any way. Instead, just like the first time, Alec’s fingers skillfully worked the braid, and tied it off. He dropped the brush into Max’s hand before he stood and walked out of the room.

Dazed, Max sat there, too stunned to move… suddenly hurting for Alec, for herself. With startling clarity, Max realized that she had broken the spell.

FiN~

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