DISCLAIMER: Dark Angel and its characters are the property of James Cameron.
CHALLENGE: Written for the Dead of Winter ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Speed of Light
By onyx_regret


Max walked up the stairs of her building. She couldn't believe she'd left that one wrench behind. It was the exact one she'd needed to finish the job. And she was pressed enough for time, so she decided that soon, she'd have to buy Logan a toolkit that held regular tools, not just the kind that fix high-tech electronic crap. Shuddering briefly from the cold she walked back into her apartment and poked around the living room until she found what she was looking for. Hearing Cindy moving about down the hall she tucked it into the back of her jeans and quietly made her way to the door, hoping to make it out before her best friend saw her. Speed of light.

"Hey girl, what's the dealio?" came the sleepy question. Cindy's unruly afro was slightly dishevelled, but not enough to signal that the woman had been up to anything particularly rough the night before.

"Nothing, Cin. There's coffee. I gotta bounce. Logan. You know how it is. Beer later, though?" Cindy nodded, far more interested in the coffee at this point in time. Max walked to the door, but at the last minute, bounded back into the kitchen.

"Cindy? Happy birthday." She kissed her friend on the cheek and hugged her before making her exit.

Max crouched low down next to the motorbike, and twisted the wrench hard. It turned, and pieces slid into place. She exhaled, triumph marked across her face like a thick smear of grease, only the grease was actually visible.

"How's your little project going?" Logan asked.

"It's going good," Max said, "And it's not a 'little project'. It's Cindy's birthday present."

"You stole your best friend a motorbike for her birthday?"

"No, I salvaged and rebuilt a motorbike for her birthday. She has a thing for bikes. This one wasn't going anywhere. Figured the owner wouldn't miss it. He even gave me the damn keys," she said pointedly. She slung her body over the machine and put the key in the ignition. Then she kicked down and laughed loudly as the bike coughed once, and then reared into noisy life.

"Good job, Max," Logan said.

"Man, I am the best best friend in the world," she said. "Even I am astounded by my own awesomeness." She killed the engine and wiped her hair from her face with still greasy hands. "Logan, I need to borrow your shower. There's more grease on me than there is in the engine. You mind?" He shook his head and gestured for her to lead the way.

Max arrived at the bar later that evening, not surprised to Cindy holding court, talking patrons into buying her drinks and generally making sure everyone was aware that this was her day. And it was.

"Hey, birthday girl," Max said, pulling Cindy to her feet.

"Hey, yourself. How'd that thing go with Logan?"

"It went great, we got the problem sorted out. Now I just need your opinion. So move that ass." She led Cindy by the hand out into the car park.

"What you needin' my opinion on, supergirl?" Max just ushered her out to the bike and gestured to it grandly.

"Happy birthday!" Cindy's mouth dropped as Max handed her the keys.

"You crazy, crazy woman. You went and got me a bike for real?" Max nodded. "Oh damn, you're the coolest person alive, right after me of course." She walked around the bike. "Get on girl, me and you are gonna smack these tyres." She got on and gunned the engine, closing her eyes and relishing the guttural sound it made as it roared at her beck and call. Max casually sat behind her friend and clung to her only when Cindy took off at the speed of light. Or it seemed that fast anyway.

Before long, the low hum of the city had given way to sparser groupings of buildings and the thick permeating fog that hung overhead gave way in patches to clusters of tiny stars, dotted at random points throughout the sky. Max simply held tight, feeling her friend's smile all the way through the back. When Cindy had had enough of a first ride, she pulled over and cut the engine, and both of them got off the bike.

"Max, you my girl," Cindy said. "I love motorbikes."

"I know," Max said. "But I want to hear you tell me why." Cindy smiled, and leaned against a tall stone wall.

"Because I feel like I can fly. I am faster than everything around me, everything that traps me and keeps me from being everywhere at once. There is no limit, to the opportunity, to the freedom, to the power. I am really, truly, unbeatable." They both smiled. "So I guess I feel like you." Max thought a moment.

"Now, now, Original Cindy. This stupid barcode, the genetics, all of it, that's not what makes me a supergirl, as you like to call me. The opportunity, the freedom, the power, got nothing to do with what a bunch of whacked up evil army geeks did to me. It's you," she said. "Most important thing to me in the whole damn world, you are."

Cindy turned to Max, to protest, surely. Instead, Max cut her off by pressing her lips softly to Cindy's. Cindy was slightly startled, and before it had even begun the kiss was over.

"I, uh, what?" Cindy managed to sputter out. Max smiled, a little girl smile, so unlike the manufactured confidence that had been programmed into her.

"You matter to me, Cin. Anything ever happens to you, I got your back all the way, I don't care. Bullets with your name on them? I'll take them. You're the one thing I got that has me connected to this world, the one thing that makes me feel like it's worth it. Not chasing Manticore shadows, not finding whoever is after me."

"I get that. But why are you kissing me all of a sudden?"

"Because I love you, stupid. And that's what people who love each other do."

"Oh. Well, I love you too, you know. You my girl." Cindy leaned in and smiled. Max kissed her again, harder and longer, and this time she felt herself falling faster than the speed of light.

The End

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