Thanks for the reviews! I'm glad you enjoyed the last chapter of Family Matters. Hope you enjoy this one! It's all playful banter and aimless chatter. No real plot line. I apologize for all grammatical errors that may be found in this chapter. unfortunately, I don't have a beta reader. Please read and review!

Partners in Crime

Pitter. Pitter. Max sat up from her bed, immediately putting her book down. Pitter. A third pebble hit her window. She rolled her eyes in silent annoyance as she stood to her feet, pushing open her window. Glancing down, she spotted Alec searching for tiny rocks under her window. She rolled her eyes, placing hands on her hips.

"What the hell are you doing?"she demanded. Alec's head popped up, giving her a crooked smile. Pools of green stared up at her, dirty blonde hair disheveled. He was dressed for the summer. He scuffed his sneakered foot. His white socks with the red stripes were pulled up to his shins with a light dusting of dirt coloring the once white socks, a sandy brown.

"Hey, Maxie,"He called back with a wave of his hand.

"What are you doing here?" she repeated, hunching over. Lucy and Sami had gone to the mall this morning and had yet returned from their shopping endeavors. Even though they invited her, she absolutely despised the mall, quickly declining the offer. A good book and boredom was more tolerable than being stuck at a mall for hours.

"Ben's doin' Ben stuff,"Alec explained with an annoyed shake of the head. Max rolled her eyes, knowing that Alec was referring to Ben's enjoyment of reading the day away or exercising his creative mind and storytelling abilities on paper. "I was bored." He threw his head back in exasperation, an infectious grin on his lips. His freckled nose crinkled as Alec squinted against the sun. "Do you wanna ride bikes with me?"

Max scoffed, crossing her arms. She glanced at the book she was previously reading before answering his question with a shrug. "Sure,"she responded. "Why not." She had nothing better to do and it beat sitting around the house, bored out of her mind. She received a megawatt beam for her answer. She attempted to hold back her own smile, but found it difficult against his charming grin. "I'll be down in a minute."

"I'll be waiting,"he promised. She rolled her eyes fondly, closing her bedroom window.

She thrust open the apartment complex doors, spotting her friend sitting on the apartment steps. He was jabbing a stick into the cement steps, completely absorbed in his imagination.

"You know-" Alec's head popped up, hearing Max's voice. "a normal person would have just knocked on the door." Alec shrugged, dusting his pants. He took in the appearance of the feisty brunette who had become one of his closest friends.

"Now, Maxie, where's the fun in that?" He threw up his arms, gesticulating wildly. Only Alec could make wild movements appear elegant and planned. "Besides, I'm not normal,"he, immediately, answered. She snorted, hopping the couple of steps down, brown eyes meeting Alec's green. His megawatt grin got larger, if that was even a possibility."And it's far more fun to reenact cliche movie scenes anyways." He winked, happily.

"By throwing pebbles at the girl's window in order to receive attention,"Max quipped, marching towards the shed that housed her bicycle. Alec grabbed his own black bike, following her as she unlocked the shed.

"It worked didn't it,"Alec replied with a grin. "I managed to gain your attention." Max scoffed before entering the shed. She grabbed her red bicycle, wheeling it out.

"By annoying me,"she ribbed. She sent him an accusatory glare. "You could have broken my window. Joann wouldn't have been happy."

"But, I didn't,"Alec answered. He shrug, palms upward. "So, no harm done."

Max grunted. She swung her leg over, sitting on the padded seat as her feet worked the pedals. She rode around Alec, playing with the breaks until she was satisfied by the gear shift. Alec boarded his own bike, following Max as she shot off down the sidewalk. "Maybe, next time you should try a bit of serenading-" Alec chuckled, darting across the road after Max.

"Maybe, I will,"he teased. "Sing some Metallica outside your window at night while playing the ukulele." Max snorted, amused by the mental image of ten-year-old Alec, strumming a ukulele and singing Metallica.

"You really know your way to a girl's heart,"Max ribbed. She swerved in front of Alec, causing him to lose balance for a brief second. "I don't believe Joann, Lucy, or me would appreciate your off-tune singing though."

"Off-tune?"Alec squawked, outraged by the accusation. "My singing is hardly off-tune. I was told that I had a future career as a vocalist. I can prove it to you right now, if you like?" He gave her a challenging look and Max just smirked.

"Now, who told you that?" She challenged, swerving left and then right. "Because I definitely know Sami wasn't impressed by your musical talents." Alec snorted at the memory of his playful singing with Sami, Max's twin sister. They were bored out of their minds and had a karaoke set at their disposal. "She told me, you screeched like a goddamn chimpanzee."

"That's called fake singing for your information,"Alec retorted with a flip of his short hair and an indignant scoff. "And as for my future musical career, an online quiz said I was a rising star. A bonafide superstar." Alec grinned mischievously. "Look out world, here I come."

"Do you honestly believe everything the internet tells you?"Max ribbed, nose wrinkling and a disappointed tsk on her tongue.

"I have reason to believe the internet never lies,"Alec deadpanned. Max rolled her eyes at Alec's forced stupidity. Her friend was a weirdo.

"And what reason is that?" Max asked, breaking and hitting the crosswalk button.

"It tells me what I want to hear,"Alec answered, puffing out his chest. "Especially, those personality quizzes." Max laughed, immediately peddling across the crosswalk.

"That's because you only click on the answers that will give you the most desirable personality summary," Max accused, swerving around a corner. "You don't answer the questions honestly."

"Why would I be honest with a personality quiz,"Alec scoffed at the preposterous statement. "I want the results to gleam on my awesomeness."

"Oh look, two more personality traits discovered," Max quipped, cocking a brow. "And you didn't even need the quiz summary to tell you."

"What's that?" Alec questioned, lifting a brow. Max's mouth quirked mischievously as she rolled to a stop just before they hit the hill.

"Dishonest and narcissistic,"She ribbed with a playful smirk. Alec paused, smile twisting into a sneer.

"Ha, ha, ha,"Alec answered with a roll of his eyes. "Very funny, Maxie. Way to cut a man down." He clasped his his heart with a dramatic flare of hurt. "Your cynicism hurts me."

"Man?"Max exclaimed. Tapping her chin, she wrinkled her nose and quirked her head, taking in Alec's ten-year-old appearance. "Boy,"she decided upon. Her face lit up into a sassy smirk. "Definitely, drama queen."

"I prefer the term king,"he answered, balancing on his bike.

"You would,"she responded. "Mr. drama king-" She emphasized king before pedaling down the hill. The wind whipped around her, pulling at her brown locks. Alec was close behind, gaining speed. Her dark hair flapped in the wind like the sails to a boat. They slowed at the bottom, cheeks flushed and laughing.

They pedaled leisurely, allowing the comfort of nature to pad the silence between two friends. They watched two robins fly past, landing on the grassy field of Sioux Fall's park.

They cruised through the town park. She spotted Jody off duty with Cece, Bullet, Ralph, and Dalton. The three younger kids were playing on the playground while Cece rode her bike with two other girls. Dalton was talking animatedly to another tot on the playground.

"Hi, Jody,"Alec shouted, waving his hand. The sheriff waved back at the two kids as they rode through the park.

"Bye, Jody,"Max farewelled before picking up speed to catch up with Alec, who was currently leaving her in his dust. That wasn't allowed to happen. "Where to next?"

"I'm thinkin' the creek,"Alec replied, happily as he swerved back and forth. "There's tons of tadpools right now. I left a bucket down there last time. I'm sure it's still there." His brows knitted in worry, thinking about the misplaced bucket. Hopefully, nobody had taken his yellow bucket. That would be a real bummer.

"I'm sure it is,"Max agreed. She was pedaling beside Alec now, dodging pedestrians as they enjoyed leisurely summer walks. "Sounds fun."

"Really?"Alec stressed, surprised by how agreeable she was being. Max rolled her eyes. She wasn't obstinate all the time. At least she tried not to be.

"Yeah, dummy, it does,"she answered, attempting to punch his shoulder playfully, but swerving to the side a little too much. She managed to balance herself before the embarrassing fall.

"Now, now,"Alec goaded. "No hitting while pedaling, Maxie. Don't want an unfortunate accident to occur."

"Smart-aleck,"she quipped. Alec beamed at her lame retort.

"That's what you named me." He looked ahead, spotting a dip into the forest along the waterway. "Don't wear it out-" His smile turned thoughtful as he watched life ahead, noting the trees overhead and the talkative bird community above them. He glanced at Max, who shared the same comfortable smile. "Last one to the creek is a rotten egg!" He pedaled harder, gaining speed as he hit the dirt pathway and bounced along the sticks and pebbles.

"In your dreams!"Max shouted back, competitive streak ignited. She couldn't let Alec win by making it down to the creek first. She could hear him hooting and hollering as he dodged trees and logs. Shrubs and Ivy. Her own hoots and hollers carried through the forest as well.

Unfortunately, Alec won. Though his triumph was completely unfair since he had a head start, but that didn't stop the gloating. He hit the brakes, sliding along the dirt path. "I won,"he gloated with his obnoxious laugh. He pointed his finger, purposely riling her up. "I beat the almighty Max!"

"Did not,"she snapped as she climbed off her bike and leaned it against a tree. "You had a head start, Dumbass." Alec laughed, dancing around her.

"But, I still won,"he sang. He paused. Eyes widening mischievously. "That means I'm better than you." He threw a fist in the air, punching upwards.

"No,"she protested, crossing her arms. "It means you cheated." She definitely didn't like losing even over a silly, stupid bicycle race. Alec just loved rubbing it in her face as he danced around her, singing his triumphant. "I'm still way better than you!"

Alec paused, mirth in his green gaze. A sly smile curved his lips. "That's not what the bicycle race told us." He strutted around her, cocky like the tomcat in his DNA cocktail. "Who won, I did. Who lost, you did."

"I didn't lose,"she growled, brown eyes flaring. She huffed in annoyance. "I never lose." She smacked him upside the head and Alec winced, surprised by the sudden attack. He rubbed the back of his head, mouth hanging open at the vicious attack. "See, I won."

"Sore loser,"Alec quipped, leaving his bike against the tree in favor of searching for his yellow bucket. Maybe, he'd catch a few minnows too. Tadpools and minnows were a fantastic combination for observation purposes. He loved observing the differences between tadpool metamorphic stages. Some had legs, some didn't. He loved observing the developing legs and noting the detailed webbed toes that would one day be frog legs.

"Am not,"Max huffed, stomping behind him.

"Are too,"Alec sang as he slid down the embankment to the tiny beach along the creek. She repeated her previous statement, while he argued his own. The 'Am nots' and 'Are toos' continued for way longer than it should have been allowed between two friends. Alec laughed, the moment he spotted his yellow bucket, completely forgetting the childish argument. He ran forward, swooping up his yellow bucket, and held it up, triumphantly. "I found it,"he crowed.

"Congratulations,"Max quipped, tone dripping with sarcasm.

"Wow, Maxie,"Alec answered, holding his right hand over his heart. The bucket hung from his left wrist. "I can really feel the love. The absolute admiration and approval of a search well done." She glared and he smiled. "Really, I mean it. Your encouraging tone of voice actually made me believe in myself. I can do just about anything now." He fluttered his eyelashes. Max snorted. "Thank you."

"Oh, shut-up,"Max responded with a smirk. Alec beamed as she pushed past him. "Don't get too cocky now. I know I'm amazing, but I definitely can't stop idiocy." She gave him a pointed glance before stomping towards the creek and ripping off her shoes to wade in the cool water.

"I was planning to jump off a cliff later, wanna join?" Max's head swerved and her eyes darted to the cheeky grin on Alec's face. She rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

"No,"she quipped.

Alec chuckled, racing after her. He pulled off his own socks and shoes, tossing his footwear onto the sandy beach. He splashed into the creek, purposefully getting Max wet. Max held up her hands, blocking her eyes from the tidal wave of water that enveloped her. She hacked a coughing laugh, drooling out gobs of creek water after the unexpected attack.

"Beautiful, Max,"Alec quipped. "Very ladylike." Alec fell into the creek's current, completely disregarding his clothes. He floated on his back, sighing contently. Max rolled her eyes, kicking creek water into his face. He spluttered, quickly clearing the water from his green eyes. She smirked, enjoying the results of her petty revenge.

"You're gonna scare away the fish,"Max accused, crossing her arms. Alec sat up, murky water surrounding him in muddy clumps. He pulled off his t-shirt tossing it next to his shoes and socks.

"I think you already did that with your huffy, puffy big bad wolf attitude,"Alec responded. His response earned him another mouthful of creek water. He spat out the water in disgust as he wiped at his mouth. Max laughed at his misery.

They sat on the edge, waiting for the water to clear. Max patted the water surface with delicate fingers. She watched a water bug skim across the top, nearly bumping into a second water bug. She blew on it and the big skittered away, quickly across the surface.

Alec sat on his knees, slightly bent over as he watched a school of minnows swim past. Quickly, he brought his bucket down on the traveling fish. He pulled the bucket up, immediately checking if he caught any fish. He grinned happily.

"Look-" He held the bucket over to Max, who peeked into the bucket. "caught four of 'em." He gazed, cheerfully, into the bucket. "A big one too. Hey, little guy-" He swirled his finger in the bucket satisfied by the little minnow nibbling on his extended finger.

"Talking to fish now, I see,"Max teased, scooting closer to get a better view of the captured fishes.

"I'm a fish-talker,"Alec answered. "I specialize in speaking minnow and whale." Max rolled her eyes, knowing the whale bit came from Alec's obsession with the movie, Free Willy. No matter how many times they watched it, Alec always got worked up during the climax when Jesse and his friends attempt to free Willy from his imprisonment. Max always found it amusing when Alec jumped from his seat out of sudden anxiety for the whale. Sometimes he would even yell at the characters to move faster, shouting that the whale would die if they didn't get it to the ocean fast enough. Max chuckled to herself. Even though he knew how the movie ended, he still reacted the same way as if he was watching Free Willy for the first time.

"Whales aren't fish, they're mammals,"Max quipped, unable to keep the know-it-all out of her voice.

"I know that,"Alec replied, placing the bucket between them. "But, I still speak whale." He said the last statement as if it were factual. Even though both transgenics knew Alec was incapable of speaking whale. She rolled her eyes, deciding to let her friend live in his fantasy world as a whale whisperer. She giggled, thinking the idea would make a great reality television series: Alec Winchester: Whale Whisperer.

"What's so funny?"Alec asked, curious by her sudden giddiness. Max shrugged, grinning at her friend.

"Nothin',"she replied. Alec frowned. He hated being left out of the loop. Especially if an inside joke was involved. She relented, telling him about her brilliant idea. Alec laughed, immediately loving the television series idea. He promised to look into finding a reliable agent and producing team for this up and coming original series. He spoke animatedly, confident that he could spin the idea to their liking. He was pretty damn sure they could make millions on the idea. Max shook her head, giggling at the enthusiasm. After awhile, she sobered and the two friends immediately fell back into a comfortable silence.

Her eyes flitted towards the minnows in the bucket, before settling her gaze on Alec. beads of water rolled down his cheek. Hair still sopping wet from his free falling dive into the creek. "Are you gonna let them go?" Her head nodded towards the bucket full of minnows. Alec shrugged, lifting the bucket.

"Yeah,"he decided. He was here to catch tadpools. Maybe, a few crawdads that lived up the creek under the shade of the maple tree. "I guess I will. They need to be free, after all." He held the bucket up close, peering at the four fishes that circled the bucket's wall. "Bye, my friends. Be free." He brought the bucket down, allowing it to float in the creek. The fishes swam out of the bucket and Alec lifted it back up, a sad, distraught frown on his face. "Miss you already, little buddies."

Max snorted. The snort quickly turned into hysterical laughter as she clutched her stomach, wiping the tears from her eyes. Alec glanced at her with a crooked smirk. "You're so weird." She poked him in the side and he batted her hands away.

"I befriend easily,"he defended, fighting off Max's poking fingers. "I love and I lose love hard."

"But, they're fish,"Max exclaimed, giggling louder. She shook her head, bemused by her crazy friend's antics.

"Doesn't matter,"Alec replied. "Fish have feelings too." He shoved Max a little, but she shoved him back twice as hard. "You'd understand that if you spoke fish." That caused a fresh melody of giggles as she fell over clutching her side. Alec fell backwards, laughing next to her. He gazed up at the sky, watching the dragonflies flitting back and forth.

The snorts and giggles quieted. Max's eyes drifted shut as the sun tickled her skin and warmed her flesh. She was comfortable and happy with just the presence of her best friend. She could tell Alec felt the same way too by the pleasant smile on his face. His feet were burrowing into the sand, digging a small trench. Alec glanced over at her. One of her eyes popped open.

"How's your parent trap plan going?"Alec asked, rolling onto his side to face her. She sighed in exasperation, eyes nearly rolling back into her skull. She knew he had been curious about that. In fact, he had offered assistance in planning the next trap. Joann and Brian were just stubborn and preferred to dance around each other, instead of facing their feelings or doing what their girls wanted them to do. Find love in each other and get married already.

"Dreadful,"she exclaimed, sitting up slightly. "They just don't get it at all. Our efforts are completely futile. Sami and Lucy are getting really frustrated after all the failed attempts."

"That's a shame,"Alec said, digging his fingers in the sand. "Maybe, you should lock them in a closet together. That might do it." Max snorted at Alec's statement, shaking her head. She stroke brunette locks behind her ear.

"Remember, we're tryin' to get them out of the closet in regard to their feelings,"Max retorted, lifting a brow. "Not put them back in." Alec laughed, sitting up.

"Funny, Maxie,"he said, appreciatively. He stood up, stretching his limbs. He considered wading back into the water and checking out the crawdad cove. Max lifted a brow, sitting up. "If it's meant to happen, it will happen."

"Wise words, Yoda,"Max quipped. Alec grinned.

"I thought so too." He quirked his head towards the other side of the creek. "Do you wanna catch a crawdad before it gets dark?" mischievous sparks crackled in his green orbs. "Maybe, we can stick it in ol' man Tucker's mailbox as a revenge prank." Max giggled at the scheme.

Ol' Tucker was a crotchety old man that lived a couple blocks away from Bobby. He hated kids and the other day, Alec had witnessed the old man chasing a group of six year-olds off his lawn, while swinging his cane threateningly at the children. The kids had done nothing wrong. They were just waiting for the ice-cream truck. Plus, it didn't help the old man's case after he insulted Alec a few days back. Alec wasn't the type to forget, until his form of justice was served.

"That's kinda mean," Max protested. Alec's face fell. "For the crawdad that is." She didn't want to hurt an innocent creature for the sake of a prank. "For ol' Tucker, I don't give a flying hoot what you do to him." She grinned, widely, taking pleasure in the plotting of future childhood misdemeanors. "Count me in."

"Really?"Alec exclaimed happily, ecstatic about the opportunity to have a scheming partner.

"I want to get back at the old coot too,"Max stated, seriously. Alec spun happily, grabbing his shoes and socks.

"Well, my dear partner in crime,"he responded. He arched a brow, leaning forward with brimmed excitement. "Do you have any brilliant prank ideas that don't involve crawdads? I personally like the crawdad plan." Max rolled her eyes. Of course Alec liked that plan. It was his plan.

"I may have a few,"Max teased, a skip to her step. This was what she loved to do. She loved to scheme, plot, and set forth her own form of justice. And so did Alec which made them a very dangerous duo.

"Do tell." Her eyes twinkled as both her and Alec put their shoes back on. Alec hung the sandy shirt over his shoulder as they headed towards their bikes.

Max, immediately, delved into her plan with Alec soaking up the new prank scheme with delight. It was late afternoon, when they started leaving the buzz of creek life behind.

While she and Alec bounced ideas off of one another, she realized this was what she valued the most. These moments were what she fought against Manticore for. Why she ran away from the strict regime Manticore enforced. She had wanted a life. She had wanted future opportunity. She had wanted freedom. She glanced at Alec's beaming grin. But, most of all, she wanted a good friend that would agree to help her in every crazy scheme she came up with. A friend that could shoot the breeze and talk about absolute nonsense, yet enjoy the silence of comfortable company. She wanted a friend that could banter and insult without taking offense. She wanted a partner in crime. She had her partner in crime.

Max released a satisfied sigh as she mounted her bike, pedaling behind Alec. His yellow bucket hanging from his wrist. Life wasn't looking too bad for a ten-year-old transgenic girl.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this snippet of Max and Alec bonding. Please review!