Chapter 7 - Hope Is For Losers

After searching the whole of Terminal City Max had a good idea of where Raven might be. Max went there a lot to think and it was the only place Max knew anyone like her would go. If Seattle had been safe Max would have gone to the Space Needle but the highest place in Terminal City where no one would think to bother someone who wanted to be alone was on the roof beside Joshua's flag that hung proudly on a pole.

"I thought you might be here, I come here a lot when I need to think," Max said coming to sit behind Raven who turned to her, a forlorn look upon her face and a blank look in her eyes.

"The first boy I ever kissed died five minutes later, his name was Cai, Cai Reynolds a boy genius who had discovered all of Manticore's dirty secrets, Manticore had assigned me to keep tabs on the guy so I did, he was eighteen and I was sixteen. They must have expected me to fall for him because when Falcon told me Manticore knew I had been fraternising with my target I expected to be taken from the mission, but I wasn't, I was kinda suspicious but I thought nothing of it. One night they sent me out dressed to perfection and they told me that my mission was to kiss Cai. I couldn't believe my luck! At that time I had no idea what my secret weapon was, I wasn't like the others, I wasn't very fighting inclined but I didn't worry about it because my head was full of romantic notions Cai would want to marry me and he would help me escape from Manticore so we could live happily ever after. I knocked on Cai's door and he opened it and his face brightened with a smile. I remember thinking how good he smelled, like he had just come out of the shower because his auburn hair was wet and curly. All I had to do was smile at him and I heard my mission director tell me to blow air in his face then tell him to kiss me. Of course I did as I was told, I blew air into his face and I noticed that the air I was blowing was a pink colour and the minute Cai breathed it in, his eyes glazed over and he smiled at me totally relaxed. I asked him to kiss me and he leaned over and we kissed. It was my first kiss, I was innocent and naïve believing this would be the best moment in my life, I hoped it would be memorable…it was but not in the way I hoped. Cai pulled away and for a moment we were looking into each other's eyes soulfully. The next thing I knew he was pawing at his throat, like something was choking him. He reached out towards me as he fell to the ground and I caught him in my arms and his body starting having spasms. After a few moments he stopped moving and his wide blue eyes were staring blankly at the sky. I knew he was dead but I didn't want to believe it. I kept begging for him to wake up but he didn't and soon the mission director was beside me dragging me to my feet. I struck out at him not wanting to leave Cai so one of the agents struck me with the butt of his gun. I remember hearing as I sunk to the ground the mission director telling Manticore that my weapon was in full working order. By the time I woke up I realised what had happened and cried for a week. I was put back in training where they finally told me what they had done to me. I could expel a gas, which would make anyone who breathed it in do anything I said kinda like the transgenics from psi-ops. It was therefore easy for me to get them to kiss me. I thought for a while it was strange that everyone I kissed died minutes later. That's when I realised, my secret weapon that Manticore had given me was the ability to kill my target by one kiss, the saliva in my mouth is laced with poisonous chemicals only I am immune to, if anyone shares anything that has come from my mouth, and especially if they kissed me they wouldn't survive another day, I was the kiss of death," Raven explained her sad predicament and Max gasped not knowing what to say.

"No wonder you didn't kiss Alec," Max said lamely not knowing what to say to make it better and Raven turned her gaze back onto Seattle before resting her head on her knees that she pulled up to her chest.

"One kiss from me would be his death," she murmured as though she didn't want to believe it and Max could sympathise with Raven's feelings. After all, one kiss from her would kill Logan; one touch would end his life. They weren't so different after all in Max's opinion.

"I see," Max, said placing an arm around Raven's shoulders and Raven threw it off her eyes blazing with fire at the pity and understanding she heard in Max's voice.

"No Max, you don't see, there is no hope for me and Alec, not like there is for you and Logan, your kiss of death can be cured, mine cannot, you have hope and I have none," Raven said and Max pursed her lips considering Raven might be right but Max didn't want her to be. She didn't want to see the one good thing that has happened to Alec give up hope on him and herself. He didn't deserve that anymore than Raven did.

"Raven, there is always hope," Max said and Raven gave a harsh laugh.

"Hope is for losers, its time I left this place for somewhere new, I've been in Seattle way too long," Raven decided and Max could remember a time when she had been a bitter young girl angry at the world, angry at Manticore for making her what she was. Raven sounded just like Max had back then, before meeting Logan and she was acting like Max too; ready to bail at the first sign of trouble. Well Max wasn't going to let that happen if she could help it.

"Raven no," Max said trying to dissuade her but Raven shook her head adamantly.

"I have already made up my mind, I leave tonight," Raven said standing up and Max stood up as well getting angry at Raven for her stubborn ways.

"So when the going gets tough you pick up and leave? Is that it?" Max said grabbing Raven by the arm and turning Raven to face her and Raven looked at her coldly.

"This is my only option, I can't keep hurting Alec," Raven told her and Max didn't let her arms go and her grip tightened urgently.

"Are you going to tell Alec?" Max asked and Raven wrenched her arm from Max's grasp her expression icy, her eyes unfeeling.

"No," she said turning away and Max didn't want it to end like this, not like this.

"Raven you can't leave, not now when he is so confused, you have to tell him," Max said and Raven turned around and her tone was cold and uncaring.

"I don't have to do anything," was her reply and Max shook her head at Raven knowing exactly what Raven was doing.

"Raven I tried the uncaring act, one day it will fail you," Max assured her and Raven smirked at her.

"But not today," Raven said and Max decided to give one more go at getting Raven to change her mind. Max knew that she couldn't make Raven do what she wanted, and there was no way Max was going to betray her trust but for Alec Max wished Raven to stay and try to work things out.

"Raven you have to tell him," Max said but Raven was already disappearing into the darkness and shaking her head Max followed her.

"I don't get it Logan, am I so repulsive?" Alec burst into Logan's room where he was dozing peacefully and he woke up with a start. Alec didn't even seem to care he had woken Logan up as he started pacing the floor. Dove had cleaned Logan up; slightly. His face was a mass of bruises and there were lumps and bumps all over his head. Even a cut lip and a few scratches here and there.

"We must be talking about Raven," Logan sighed sitting up painfully getting ready to advise the desperate X5. It was the least he could do really since Alec came with Max to rescue him and Raven.

"I overhear her telling Falcon that she loves me, that she loves everything about me yet she can't even bring herself to kiss me, have I done something wrong? Am I losing my touch?" Alec asked seriously and Logan was tempted to laugh but at the lost look on Alec's face he held back his laughter and tried to sympathise with the unlucky young man.

"There must be an explanation," Logan tried to reassure Alec frowning as he tried to think of a believable reason. In reality Logan couldn't really think of any reason why any woman wouldn't want to kiss Alec. Any other girl Logan had seen with Alec didn't seem to mind pleasing him at all. In fact only Max and Original Cindy seemed to be immune to his charms of persuasion but even Original Cindy had once admitted to Max that Alec sure was pretty.

"Yeah like I repulse her, she'd rather kiss White and that skinny Italian guy than me," Alec said frustrated with himself, with Raven, with everyone in the entire world. He was starting to think maybe his mojo wasn't working anymore.

"Yeah but both died a few minutes after being kissed by her," Logan chuckled more to himself than to Alec seeing the irony of the situation and Alec stared at Logan blinking a few times as things started falling into place.

"What did you say Logan?" Alec asked needing that sentence to be repeated and Logan thought it a strange request but decided to oblige him anyway.

"That they both died after…kissing…her…my God, that's her special ability, no wonder she didn't kiss you," Logan said understanding what Alec was going on about and he fell back onto the pillows in shock and amazement that Manticore had managed to create something like that, a weapon to kill as it seduces. 

"And I've driven her away, the one person who truly loved me, she was only trying to protect me," Alec said slowly his voice full of remorse and Max walked into the room.

"It's not too late, she's leaving now," Max said and Alec's eyes widened before he rushed passed her to the gates of Terminal City. Max walked to sit beside Logan and took his waiting hand in her gloved one.

"I hope those two kids work it out," Logan said wistfully looking at Max as he said it and Max heard the meaning behind the words and she rested her head on his chest again.

"Yeah me too," she said longingly and they both sat there in silence listening to the sound of each other's heart beating. Maybe they weren't so different after all.

In a run down old car borrowed for a long trip to Canada Raven sat in the passenger side looking out of the window dully noticing with little enthusiasm that it was snowing lightly. Falcon sat at the wheel trying not to look pityingly at Raven while the twins Talon and Hawk sat in the back waving goodbye through the back window to Dove. Dove was standing with Joshua, his arms wrapped around her and she was waving goodbye. She had decided to stay, see this thing through with Joshua and Raven admired her for it. At Raven's signal Falcon started the car and it began rolling away. Alec arrived in time to see the car pull away and he ran up to Raven's window and starting rapping on it. Raven turned with shock and her tearful face broke into a smile at the sight of him.

"Raven I'm sorry," Alec was yelling and Raven smiled at him hating fate and what Manticore had made her.

"I know, smile for me Alec, remember me," Raven called back to him and Alec smiled just as she asked and wondered in his head how he would ever forget Raven. She had opened his eyes to the well of emotions in his chest that he had never before used.

Raven brushed away the tear that was rolling down her cheek and pressed her fingers firmly to her lips then pressed them against the window as she drove away and out of Alec's life probably forever. Alec gave up running knowing he couldn't make her stay because her mind was made up that this was the best way to handle the situation he raised his fingers to his lips and blew her a kiss goodbye, that one air kiss, the first and last kiss the lovers ever shared.

A.N. Sad? Da, I know, but I am thinking of writing a sequel where everything will be better. Raven will return, cure for Max's virus to be found, you know all that sort of jazz but I can't be bothered writing it yet. But if it helps just keep thinking, it is not the end.