They've got this arrangement. In Terminal City, it's Max and Alec together. When Max can sneak out, she goes to Original Cindy, and Original Cindy has no idea where Alec goes. Certainly he's not supposed to show up at her door with Max, looking sheepish and smug and hopeful all at once.
"Sorry, boo," Max says, "but we had some business get a little complicated, and now access into TC is shut down for the night. Is it okay if we crash here?"
"Well, she was expecting you, Max," Alec says, grinning in that way that always makes Original Cindy want to roll her eyes. "No reason to change your plans on my account, unless you want to include me. I just want to be a good guest."
"Sure you do, hot boy. You can have the couch."
She expects a smart comeback, but Alec just shrugs, letting it go. She and her new roommate, Ida, have enough overnight visitors that the couch now has its own permanent blanket and pillow. Alec starts arranging the whole configuration to his liking while Max kisses Original Cindy hello. It's been a few weeks, so it's a very warm kiss, and Original Cindy can feel anticipation for the evening building, even with the damper of Alec in the living room and the walls of Original Cindy's room being mostly fabric hung over wire screwed to the ceiling.
Then Max pulls back, says, "Give me a second," and goes to say something softly to Alec. He nods and winks at whatever it is, which makes her laugh, flick him on the arm, then lean over to kiss him good night. Original Cindy thinks she should probably turn away and head for her own room at that point, but she's caught by how...hot Alec kissing her girl looks. She knows he's pretty in the abstract, she can see why Max wants him, but she's never felt the want herself. She's pretty sure she wouldn't be feeling it now, except that her girl is involved, but even that doesn't explain why she's kind of wondering how it would feel to kiss Alec herself, to see what those full lips could do for her.
It's food for thought.
Everything That I Am Not
When Original Cindy gets up in the middle of the night to get a drink from the kitchen, she sees Alec sitting in front of the shrine she's made for Diamond. She doubts the bastards who killed Diamond bothered with any kind of memorial, so she's constructed one of her own. It's in a corner of the living room, near the wall of windows, a shaky little table with that photo of her and Diamond together, the first bracelet Diamond ever stole for her, and a fake daffodil, which was Diamond's favorite flower.
She almost snaps at Alec for even being near it, but he's not doing anything, just looking. Then he reaches out, very slowly, very carefully, and barely touches the edge of the picture where she and Diamond are hugging each other, smiling and so clearly in love.
He draws his hand back and bows his head, and she doesn't think transgenics pray, so she wonders if he's crying over this woman he never knew. But then she remembers Max telling her something, about a girl named Rachel and a mission gone wrong, and Max's first major evidence that under the cheerfully offensive armor, Alec is just as damaged as everybody else who came out of Manticore.
She must make a noise, because he looks up, then uses that transgenic speed to move from her shrine back to the couch before she can do more than blink. She can see him better this close to the kitchen light, and she can see the telltale wetness on his cheeks.
"Sorry," he starts, but something moves her to cut him off.
"Her name was Diamond, and she'd have liked a fine boy like you looking at her so close. Vain as anything, but justified in it, my girl."
"Well, you do have good taste in chicks," Alec says, sounding much less shaky, which was the whole point. She gives him a smile as she fills a glass from the jug of water Ida'd boiled earlier in the day.
"We appear to have very similar taste in chicks."
"I'd wonder if we have similar taste in guys, but I don't think you're into guys."
Original Cindy raises an eyebrow at that. "Didn't know you were, either. And if it's Normal, you can keep it to yourself."
Alec actually laughs, though it's small and a little rueful. "He's not bad, but not who I was thinking of. Of course, who I was thinking of should have a shrine of his own, so...."
Original Cindy thinks of Max asleep in her bed, but that won't last very long, and it's not like Max won't be able to find her out here. She has to admit, she's curious, and she likes that Alec isn't pulling his usual asshole bullshit to keep anyone from getting too close. So she pours a second glass of water, and hands it to Alec when she sits down beside him on the couch.
"Well, you can still tell Original Cindy about him if you want, and next time you're over, bring something suitable to his memory to leave on the shrine."
Rev Up the Crowd
By the time Max joins them, Original Cindy has decided what the hell, and kissed Alec. His lips are just as plush and full as they look, which is a thing for her, though the roughness of his cheek against hers is definitely an example of one of the issues with guys. She doesn't say anything, because shaving is probably way low on the priority list of living in TC, and anyway, she can handle it for a kisser as good as hot boy. She's never not gotten what Max sees in him -- it's just different applying those qualities to herself.
She did expect him to be a little more aggressive, maybe push for faster, maybe try to take control. He probably does that with Max, who definitely likes a challenge in the bedroom. But it seems he's internalized the lesson that nobody pushes Original Cindy without her express permission, so while he's responding enthusiastically to her kisses, her exploring hands, he hasn't touched her at all.
"I think I like where this is going," Max drawls from the dark doorway of the bedroom, startling Original Cindy. Her automatic reaction is to snatch her hands back, get some distance between her and Alec, but she waits it out. Max sounds interested, she can tell Alec is interested, and she's pleased to find she still is, too. Alec's got a good mouth, and his hands look agile. Original Cindy can work with that.
"You know where this is going?" Alec quips breathlessly, but Original Cindy sees the uncertainty in his eyes. She grins in answer, and leans in for another kiss. She feels Max settle down on the couch behind her, press a kiss to the back of her neck, and then her boo's wrapping one arm around her waist and sliding the other hand along her own on Alec's cheek, back to tangle in his hair. There's a moment of warmth and petting and kissing, and then Max speaks again.
"This might work better in a bed. Then we could all reach each other."
Alec starts laughing, which breaks the kiss, but pleasantly. "We should listen to her," he tells Original Cindy. "She is a genetically engineered master strategist."
Original Cindy grins again, lets them pull her up off the couch. "Can't wait to see what she's got planned for the rest of the night."
A Love That Won't Sit Still
Of course, they don't get the whole night. Seattle PD have a pre-dawn shift change, and anyone who wants in or out of TC for the day does best sneaking across the barricade at that time. Since Max can be completely silent when she wants, Original Cindy told her straight up that a goodbye kiss was always worth some lost sleep.
It's not a kiss that wakes her this time, though. Her bed's crowded with three people, even pressed as close as they are, so she never really manages to do anything but doze. She certainly can't sleep through it when Alec whispers, "So, did that work out the way you expected?"
"I didn't expect anything, Alec," Max says, and she sounds frustrated, like they've had this conversation a hundred times already, but she also sounds fond. Original Cindy's glad for that, glad that Alec's around to remind Max what fun is when Cindy herself can't be there. "But yeah, I did hope for something like this. Everybody seemed to have a good time."
"That doesn't guarantee a next time." And Alec pulls one of those freaky transgenic moves, going from lying down in Cindy's bed, crowded against the far wall, to standing at her window and checking for watchers before her brain's even processed that he moved. He even managed to grab some clothes on the way, so he's got undershorts on and he's pulling a tee-shirt up his arms. She actually finds herself sad that the view of his long, lean back is about to go away, and not just because she appreciates beautiful things.
Original Cindy has always allowed for the possibility that the right guy might tempt her to give bi a shot. It's just that she's pretty sure Alec MacDowell has never immediately leaped to anybody's mind as "the right guy" for anything legal, let alone non-destructive. If what they're doing here can be described as non-destructive. Original Cindy's withholding judgment for now.
Max drops a kiss on her shoulder, but doesn't look surprised when Original Cindy raises her head to show she's already awake. "Time to blaze, boo," Max says, then gives her a longer kiss on the mouth, hot and sweet, before getting up from the bed and collecting her own clothes to put on.
"Hey, hot boy," Original Cindy says to get Alec's attention. He steps away from the window, and when she reaches up, he bends down to let her cup his face and scratch lightly at his jaw with her nails. "Do a girl a favor and shave before you come over next time."
He grins at that, and goes willingly enough when she pulls him down for his goodbye kiss. His mouth is actually sweeter than Max's, thanks to an addiction to flavored lip balm and processed sugar that Max complains is kind of a plague on the transgenic population of TC. Original Cindy suspects Max was probably just as addicted in the first few years after her own escape from Manticore, then got burned out on the stuff. Alec seems to favor chocolate, which is Original Cindy's own vice of choice. Maybe she'll have to break a bar out, next time he and Max come over. But only if he shaves, because beard burn really will be a dealbreaker.