3 Days, SIC, 18 Weeks, 3.5, 100, 1st Date
WHERE WE LEFT OFF…
"So when did you bet?" Cece asked.
"Eleven days. So if Max comes back tomorrow, the pot's mine!"
"So, uh, who bet on ten days?"
"Max? Max!" Cece was currently the only one with the ability to speak.
"Hey guys, it's me." Max smiled sheepishly and shrugged.
"Max!" Original Cindy, apparently having regained her voice, flung herself at her friend.
"You're back!" Sketchy's exclamation was a fraction of a second later than OC's, and his actions were the same; joining OC in a three-way hug.
"Yeah, I'm back, but uh, breathing room would be greatly appreciated because if you two keep squishing me I'll be dead before we can all celebrate." Max smiled brightly at her friends and detached herself from Sketchy.
OC released her gently, leaving her free to greet the others.
"Cece," Max purposely ignored Cece's other half, who had recently joined the group. "Hey big sister." She said softly, bumping Syl's shoulder.
"Maxie." Syl said simply, hugging her with one arm, "there's two types of real worlds; the escape-and-evade real world and the stay-and-talk-about-it real world."
Biggs, Cece and Hart coughed simultaneously and Syl stopped talking and folded her hands.
Sketchy looked at their somber faces. "Wait, am I missing something here?"
"Fool, you missing a lot of things around here. And that includes most of the gray squishy thing s'posed to be between your ears."
"'A one-night-stand that keeps repeating'. Syl!" Max sounded a tad hysterical.
"It doesn't matter how you define the relationship, Maxie. Krit 'n' I've talked, when problems arise." At Max's skeptical look Syl conceded, "So most of the time we fight it out and have great makeup sex afterwards, but the point is; these problems aren't getting ghost by you running."
"It's not like we can find an abandoned warehouse and duke it out." Max replied .
"So talk. Tell him how you feel, tell him you're confused, tell him your fears and troubles or you'll never last in a long-term relationship, with an ordinary or otherwise." Syl continued, unruffled by Max's interruption. "And here there are way too many ears that shouldn't be hearing this conversation, so let's go somewhere more private." Syl turned to OC, who nodded, then pulled Max out of Jam Pony.
Normal noticed the two of them leave and called after Max, "Don't think you can just come back tomorrow Missy Miss! You can't just up and leave for two weeks and expect your job to still be here when you get back!"
"First of all Normal," OC went to bat for her boo, Cece, Biggs and Sketchy behind her as backup, "She was gone ten days, not two weeks, which technic'ly means she's missed seven working days. Second of all, she had to leave, she had a medical emergency."
"Oh yeah? And what kind of emergency was it this time? Another transplant? An operation? Or – here's a good one – she's pregnant with some other ingrate's child?"
All four were quiet; the girls because Normal had unwittingly hit the nail on the head and the boys because they couldn't think of another argument.
"What's going on guys?" Syl's voice broke through the silence.
OC and Cece looked confused to see Syl standing there alone. "Where's my boo? Thought you guys were gonna talk."
Syl shrugged, "Bailed on me as soon as we got outta the building. Don't think she's ready to talk yet. Makes you wonder why she came back if she ain't figured out all her issues yet."
Today Original Cindy was Officially Bored.
Not that work wasn't always boring, but her friends had always made things a little less monotonous.
But now Max was fully occupied with the confusion of Longterm Relationships.
This in itself was not necessarily a Bad Thing but it made her best friend a lot less interesting. Sure, the place had become a little quieter during the past three days, and Alec had a lot fewer bruises to show for it, BUT Logan's temporary blindness to Max's mental state was becoming a bit of a worry. Not that she usually cared one whit or the other about the man, or the male species in general, but her boo did, and that meant something to her. As Max's best friend, she took her role very seriously (much more seriously that she ever took her job), and Max's stubbornness was getting on even her nerves.
"You love him, Max. He's the father of your child. Remember it? B.A.B.Y. He loves you! Pick up the phone and talk to him already!"
Max's relationship with Logan was also doing horrible things to OC's social life. Not only did Max refuse to accompany her to Crash, her concern for her friend was bleeding into her love life; honeys didn't want to hear about heterosexual problems. And every time Max caught Alec with yet another random girl her eyes grew dimmer. It didn't help the fact that Alec had apparently gone through the entire blonde population of Seattle, and was now moving onto the brunettes.
And things were boring. OC had never thought she might actually miss Alec's teasing and taunting, but now that Max didn't respond to anyone with a y-chromosome he had given up trying to get her attention, and she was starting to miss the familiar insults the pair used to exchange on a daily basis. The lack of interesting/challenging/slightly-more-than-completely-dull verbal sparring matches was getting to OC, and the rest of the Jam Pony crew.
In fact, if OC didn't know that Max was mooning over a boy, she would have been sure her friend had switched teams.
The days had been getting increasingly more boring, the honeys had been getting increasingly more scarce, and her best friend had been getting increasingly less interested in anything other than sulking.
A few days after Max had run away from that unfinished conversation with her sister, she found herself sitting in a café a few blocks away from Jam Pony on her break.
"Just because you fell behind on that run when you were four doesn't mean you give up." Syl said as she and Max sipping their overpriced coffees.
"It's just…I'm not great at the talking thing, as you know, and especially with not being able to touch him either…it's hard to show him how I feel about him. I can't help being scared that everytime I see him it could be the last time…I have people looking to kill me, and a single touch means instant death for him, not to mention all his enemies on account of him being…you know." Max abruptly cut off the end of her sentence when she realised where she was.
"It's always true – the seeing him for the last time thing – even if you guys weren't who you were. You never know, the world could end tomorrow and we'd all be dead."
"Thanks Syl, you're really helping cheer a girl up." Max rolled her mug in between her hands, enjoying the warmth that seeped through the chipped ceramic.
"I know it's hard to tell him what you feel, we weren't exactly encouraged to express our emotions while growing up – verbally or otherwise." Syl chose her words carefully to avoid ordinaries hearing things they shouldn't.
"'The perfect soldier is unemotional and unaffected by the emotions of others'." Max quoted Lydecker in the same impassive tone he had always used.
"We're not soldiers, and we're far from perfect." Syl answered, speaking as if the man himself was sitting at the table with them. "Men are even further from perfect. Never put the toilet seat down, never make the bed, never hang their towels up…" She trailed off her rant at the sight of Max's upset face, realising that her baby sister had never experienced the trials and tribulations of living with a member of the opposite sex. "Anyway, the point is; you gotta keep reminding them how you feel. Cindy told me you've only told him that you love him once."
"I tell him everytime he tells me!" Max retorted.
"Do you?" Was Syl's reply, and Max had to think. "When was the last time you actually said the words 'I love you'?" Max couldn't reply. "Exactly. I know it's easy to say the not-touching thing doesn't matter, especially when you can touch, but it ain't so easy in practice. So you gotta show him in other ways – especially verbally. And now this baby thing…you're absolutely positive you're pregnant?"
"Um…pretty sure. Alec listed off the symptoms, and added to the symptoms that only I knew about, it's a pretty positive conclusion."
"But you haven't taken a test or seen a doctor?"
"I took a test while I was…away. Positive."
"Kay, then now you need to find a doctor you can trust to know about your…special needs. Despite our medical training even we can't deliver our own children, nor can we monitor them without the right equipment."
Max stared at Syl, a strange look on her face. "And how do you know all about this?"
Syl shrugged, "I was there when Case was born." Max continued staring. "OK! I'm pregnant."
"Hey Cal." Alec said to the X5 as he walked through the gates of Terminal City.
"Sir." Cal nodded.
"What's the good word?"
"Officially, sixty percent of all controlled structures have been connected to generators but only thirty percent have a sufficient supply of gas to power internal appliances through the night."
"More gas. Next."
"On the latest census, thirty percent of all residents are specific operational units. The X-series is still expanding at a rapid rate while their cold shoulder towards the X7s has turned into cold fists. The population of X7s is on the decline."
"Separate X7s from other Xs. Next."
"What about food?"
"Exactly. There isn't enough, people aren't pulling their weight. We need to get more Xs working in paid jobs."
"Bread. That's it?"
"Yeah. Unofficially, 157 is back."
"I want you two to meet." To Alec's back he called out. "I think you'll like her."
"I don't like the tone of your voice, 4." The feisty blonde X5 replied at Alec's command.
"And I don't like you calling me that, 251." She just glared at him. "What's the situation with our medical supplies?" He asked in a much nicer tone as the two walked toward the infirmary.
CeCe and Biggs came up beside Cal. "I don't remember 494 being so…" Cal trailed off.
"Uptight?" Biggs asked and all three X5s nodded in unison.
"Alec's become unbearable lately. He's all about work work work." Cece commented.
"Cause otherwise it'd all be about sex sex sex." Biggs replied.
CeCe rolled her eyes, "I'm beginning to think that might be an improvement."
"You're pregnant? For real?"
"'S what I said. I'm not speaking Swedish, am I? I certainly hope not, because I never learned it."
"It's Krit's baby, right?"
"Yeah. You should have seen him when I took the test,"
When the second hand on Syl's watch hit the minute mark Krit jumped up jubilantly, "My turn, my turn!" He took one of the test sticks from the cup they sat in on the edge of the sink. Syl put her hand over her eyes and shook her head.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into letting you use one of those for yourself." She said and rubbed her eyes stifling a laugh.
"Hey! I said I wanted to do this together…both of us feeling the same anticipation?" Syl just looked at him, "…okay I just felt left out." He admitted, slowly picking up his stick and matching it to the box.
Syl shook her head again, but decided to humor him and play along. She watched him swing his eyes back and forth between the box and the stick.
"Well, honey, what's it say?" She asked, rolling her eyes and glancing at her watch to note that she still had another minute before HER test was done.
Krit slumped his shoulders sadly. He threw the test in the trash dramatically and turned to face Syl, wiping his eyes playfully. "I thought it took this time…I guess it was too much to hope for." He said, coming to sit next to her on the tub edge. He laid his head on her shoulder. She patted it gently then smacked him once hard.
"Ow! What was that for?" He whined, sitting up and rubbing his head.
"For being a drama queen." She replied simply, getting up to check her test.
"I don't need to be a queen, I've already got mine." He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and leaned his chin on her shoulder.
Despite the over sappiness of his statement she smiled and leaned back against him, "Then be ready, Good Sir, we're going to bring a prince or princess into this world in about eight months."
Max chuckled at Krit's hijinks, but Syl could see the sadness in her eyes; she couldn't celebrate the moment with Logan, at least not in the same way.
"You guys are gonna get through this." Syl said, covering Max's hand. "You need to forgive him, and you need to let him know that you've forgiven him and that you love him."
Max smiled slowly. "Yeah…I guess. So how far along are you? You can't be that much ahead of me, if no-one can tell you're pregnant." She looked down at Syl's abdomen.
"Eighteen weeks. As for people not being able to tell; Logan and Biggs figured it out. I am showing, just not much." She pulled her t-shirt tight around her waist and Max was able to see the slight paunch in her sister's normally flat stomach.
Original Cindy opened the door to find Logan standing behind it. She gave him a sympathetic look, knowing that he had been trying to call Max for the past four days, and had received nothing but hang-ups on the rare occasions Max actually answered the phone. Ushering him inside, OC pointed to the couch, where Max was sitting, staring off into space.
Logan walked toward her, and OC slipped quietly into her room to give the two some privacy.
"Max." Logan spoke softly, almost as if he were afraid of disturbing the silence.
"She won't answer you." Came OC's voice from behind her curtain. "She ain't responding to any of the three-legged gender, so it ain't just that she's still pissed as hell 'bout what you said. I'm pretty sure she'll at least listen to you though."
Logan nodded, then realised OC couldn't see him, "Thanks Cindy." He turned back to Max, whose eyes had moved from the wall and were now looking straight through him. Pulling up a chair from the kitchen counter, Logan took a deep breath and began his apology. "Max I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I hurt you, and I'm sorry I made you cry. It makes me sick to think that I'm the reason you were crying. I know there's no excuse for what I said or did, but I have got a couple of reasons that at least partially explain my thinking at the time." Pausing to think about what to say next, Logan snuck a look into Max's eyes. They were a little less vacant than they had been 5 minutes prior, and he filled with hope that maybe his words were getting through to her.
"Max, I know that the only thing between you and Alec is friendship. Alec explained everything to me, and I now understand where Asha got the misguided notion that you two were together." At the mention of Asha's name Max's eyes cleared and narrowed. Logan saw the change and hastened to continue before Max went on a murderous mission. "She had somehow convinced herself that I'd want her if I thought you and Alec were together – I corrected her on that by the way – and was twisting yours and Alec's friendship into something it wasn't. When she showed up – unannounced – the day after you left I lost it; I told her that I wanted nothing but friendship and a business partnership with her, and that if she couldn't deal with that then I could just as easily live without her. It's you I can't live without. I love you so much Max, and I'm so sorry for everything." Logan stopped for breath, watching Max's reaction closely, surprised that there actually was one after what OC had told him.
Max exhaled loudly and blinked, her eyes softening slightly though Logan could still see the hurt in them. He opened his mouth to continue, but was stopped by Max's voice, so soft he could barley understand the words.
"What was the second reason?" She asked, looking into his eyes for a brief moment, before going back to staring over his shoulder.
"The chair." He admitted. "I know I'm currently walking around most of the time, but that's dure to the exo, not because my spine miraculously fixed itself. And I know you know that, but…Max, did you know that only 1 in 10 paralysed men ejaculate during sex? I'm part of that 10, but an even smaller percentage are able to conceive naturally. When I first got shot Sam told me that I'd probably never be able to father children naturally. With your blood transfusion the percentage went up slightly, but it's still not high; about 3.5." Logan's voice was clinical during this explanation, and Max could see how painful it was to share this kind of information with anyone, her especially.
"Logan." Max said, her voice at normal volume now. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"Can you ever forgive me?" Logan asked, looking at her with pleading eyes. "I know it was stupid to think that you'd do something like that, and if I'd been thinking rationally I know that you wouldn't see anyone behind my back, but it was just…Asha with her conclusions…and Sam and his diagnosis…"
"Logan. It's OK." Max said, getting up from the couch. She went over to him and laid her hands on his gloved ones, careful not to touch the band of skin between his glove and his shirt. "I forgive you. And I love you." Her words were carefully chosen, and Logan cursed himself for putting this measure of caution into her communication with him.
"I'm sorry I ever doubted you."
"I know when this kid makes his or her appearance, we're going to know it's yours because I bet you that he or she will have your blue eyes."
He chuckled, but shook his head. "No, he or she will have your gorgeous deep brown eyes." They leaned closer to one another, foreheads almost touching.
"Doncha know that almost all babies are born with blue eyes Roller Boy?" OC commented, breaking Max and Logan out of their romantic moment.
They hastily pulled away from one another, remembering that even though they had created a child together, they still couldn't touch.
"Congratulations both of you. And Logan," Logan looked up at OC, who was giving him her most threatening glare, "If you ever hurt my boo in any way I'll put the smackdown on your ass." She wasn't happy to see that Logan was amused by her comment. "I mean it!"
Putting his hands up in surrender, Logan explained his amusement, "I know you would, and I would deserve it, but if I ever hurt Max I'd have half the population of transgenics gunning for me, not to mention that Max would probably beat me up before anyone else got the chance to." OC thought about his words for a second, before nodding her ascent. "But then again, we don't really have to worry about that, because I don't plan on hurting Max in any way, shape or form."
"You two do realise that I am standing right here." Max commented, "But if you'd like to continue this conversation I could step outside for a while." She motioned to the door.
"Nah, you can stay boo, we're done."
"C'mon Logan," Alec asked, standing by the pool table at Crash later that night. "I'll bet you 100 bucks you can't beat me again."
Max grinned, "You really wanna lose 100 bucks?"
Alec smirked back, "Who said I'm gonna lose?"
A female voice came from behind Alec, "I'll play…"
Alec cut her off before she finished, "Great. Lemme rack 'em."
"…against him." The girl pointed at Logan and Alec's grin dropped. "So what do ya say, cutie?" She asked him coyly.
Logan shrugged, "Why not?" He got up from his seat beside Max, stroking her denim-covered arm as he moved away from the table. "What's your name?" He asked as he approached the young woman.
"Simone." She replied, "What's yours?"
"Logan." Max coughed loudly. "This is Max." Logan finished, indicating the X5.
Simone barely glanced at Max, too busy looking Logan up and down. "I only needed to know your name." She replied flirtatiously.
Why didn't he say I was his girlfriend? Pregnant girlfriend, too. Max made a growling noise deep in her throat and stood up, intent on going over to the pool table and staking her claim, but Original Cindy held her back as Logan made his first shot, sinking two balls.
"Calm down girl. You can see your boy ain't interested." The two of them looked back toward the table, where Logan was surveying balls, completely ignoring Simone, who was openly checking him out.
"Yeah, but she's interested. She's practically undressing him with her eyes. Nobody hits on my man and gets away with it." Max replied possessively.
"Just wait 'til he whips her…" OC trailed off when she noticed Max's glare, "…wait 'til he beats her, then you can let her know who's boss."
Max nodded and settled back into her seat. They looked at this new arrival; she was quite short, only about 5'3", but the sheer power projected in her stance seemed to make up for it. Light brown/blonde hair was swept up into a short pony tail. Her eyes were a pale blue colour, and her skin was flawless, almost too flawless for Max's liking. Her clothing was similar to Max's – a long sleeved royal purple top with faded blue hipster jeans and black boots.
Alec sat in his seat beside Biggs and checked out the stranger. "Why do all the hot ones go after Logan?" He lamented to Biggs and Cece, "Max, Asha, now this one. What is it about that guy?"
"The glasses." Biggs returned deadpan. "Or maybe it's the scruffy beard."
"It's the cute butt." Cece said decisively with too straight a face for either of the guy's liking.
"Hey!" Biggs retorted.
Cece smiled and pinched Biggs' buttocks. "But not as cute as yours."
"You're going to pay for that tonight," he warned.
"Looking forward to it."
Meanwhile Logan was cleaning up the table. He had two balls plus the eight ball left. Aiming, he looked up to reassure Max, but lost his concentration and missed the shot. Simone got her cue ready, then aimed and shot, sinking three balls.
"Hey, she's good." Max was surprised. Simone took another shot with her back to Max and OC. As she leaned over the table her hair that previously covered her neck shifted to the side and both women glimpsed a few broken lines that were beginning to form on the back of her neck – a barcode. Max's eyes narrowed, "Too good for an ordinary."
OC snorted, "And what's your boy then, an alien?"
Max grinned at OC, "He practically went to college on a pool scholarship. But her…" Max looked around to make sure no-one was listening that shouldn't have been, "she's X5."
The two women watched as Simone performed the 'jump shot' that Logan had performed against Alec, sinking her last ball, then sank the eight ball easily.
"I believe that's game." Simone said, giving the cue to a stunned Logan. "Keep the cash. I don't need it. Maybe we can play again sometime." She added.
Max intercepted the blonde woman's escape. "Hey, let's take a walk this way." They moved away, from the back room and towards the bar. "Your barcode's showing again."
"Damn, I knew it was shoddy job. Thanks Max."
"You know I'm an oh-niner then. Good." If Max's voice had been any colder she would have been breathing frost. "So get this: Logan's mine. So don't even think…"
Simone cut Max off with a wave of her hand, "Don't worry. I'm only trying to make the cute one over there jealous." She pointed at Alec. "X5-494. The ultimate prize. Do you know how many girls were upset that he got paired with you for the breeding program? Anyway, I've found that jealousy works sooo much better than playing hard-to-get."
Max blinked. "You don't think Logan's cute?"
Simone smiled, "Oh he's cute. But he's your flavour, this one's mine."
Alec appeared behind Max, looking through her to Simone. "Max." He spoke to Max without looking away from the new object of his desire.
"Yeah?" Max replied, not looking at him either.
"Fine." Max smiled apologetically at Simone and turned to leave, patting Alec on the head like one would with a small child. "All yours."
"Hmm." Alec finally tore his eyes away to watch Max's ass as she walking away. He turned back to Simone when someone blocked his view. "Hi." He leaned on the bar in an attempt to appear casual.
"I meant your name."
"Thank you too."
"Meet you at the door."
The young couple received stares from many people as they walked down the street. The few working girls who had not yet found a bed mate watched with disdain, while the men attempting to get home before curfew looked at Alec enviously.
"I had a really nice time tonight, Alec." Simone said as they walked toward her front door. Alec had insisted on escorting her all the way up to her apartment.
Alec grinned. "So did I do good?"
"Is this your first date?"
"Did I disappoint you?"
"That remains to be seen. This is me." She said as they reached number 19. She turned to face him, her keys jingling as she played with them.
"Goodnight." Alec said simply, leaning in slowly until their lips touched gently. He could feel her smile on his lips. He broke the kiss, and turned to walk away.
"You're disappointing me." Came the voice from behind him.
He turned his head, "I'll call you," and continued to walk away with a smile.
Simone watched him go, waiting until he was out of hearing range – even for a transgenic – before commenting, "You did disappoint me." She entered her apartment and leaned against the closed door. "I thought you were a playa."
"It this line ever gonna move?" Max peered ahead, counting ten people in line before her. "I really need gas." She fumbled with her hands, dropping the gas can to the ground with a clang.
"Max! Will you quit fidgeting for five seconds?" Alec asked exasperatedly, lazily opening one eye to peer at her.
"It's not normal to stand so still."
"I'm not normal." Though he still had his eyes closed, he could feel the heat of Max's glare through his eyelids, "Patience is a virtue, Maxie."
"Shut up and move forward." Max retorted, only to find that he had already moved forward; with her gas can in hand, no less. She stalked forward and attempted to snatch it off him but he twisted away from her and held the can above her head. "Hey! Gimme my gas can!" She moved to punch his chest, but her fist came in contact with his shoulder. "Wha…Alec!"
"Get down!" Alec's warning came just in time for Max to duck; she felt bullets whizzing through the air above her head and heard the distinctive sound of bullets impacting flesh.
She turned to look at Alec, and her eyes immediately focused on the patch of blood spreading over the shoulder of his green t-shirt. "You're bleeding."
"Thank you, Captain Obvious. It's kinda what happens when you step in front of a bullet."
"So you enjoy being shot?"
"No, of course not," He picked up the fallen cans with his good hand and walked away.
Max rose from the ground more cautiously, checking to see that the car holding the shooters had in fact left before moving to catch up with Alec.
"I was protecting you. It's not a crime." Alec muttered as he walked, and Max had to strain to hear him.
Max spun him around and glared at him. "I don't need your protection, you son of a bitch!"
"Actually that would be son of a test tube if you wanted to be politically correct."
She shoved him away from her, and he grabbed his shoulder.
"Shut up, jerk. You are so insensitive! How about you think about my feelings the next time you feel like heroically jumping in front of a bullet for me? So what do you have to say for yourself?" She tapped her foot impatiently, but Alec stayed silent. "Huh? Huh? Huh!"
He shifted awkwardly, "You told me to shut up."
"Since when did you start obeying? And since when do I require protection from you of all people?"
"Call it self preservation, I don't think Logan would let me live if I didn't try to protect his pregnant girlfriend."
"I'm calling your bluff. The real reason this time?"
"Alec, answer me." He was still silent. "Now!"
"Since I fell in love with you dammit!"
TO BE CONTINUED…
So didja like our cliffhanger? We're expecting heaps of reviews to give us ideas as to how Max should react – do you think she already knows? Practically everyone else does, but does Max? And sorry about making Syl pregnant, but we actually had that idea before we decided that we'd make Max pregnant too, and we weren't gonna cut it just coz there was another baby on the way to DA land... Again, sorry for the LONG wait, despite the hype holidays are not all stress-free, and are especially not easy on computers and internet connections. Again thanks to MissBehaving for the random title. And yes, we borrowed the one-word conversation from 'How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days'.
Roll Call (by SA):
Alexandra Bruderlin: Not much S/K in this chappie, but I 'specially put in the pregnancy test thing in just for you. Promise there will be more in the next one, but probably not so much happy banter…
Babyangel86: Yeah, Max is back, and everything's alright in M/L land again…but now Max's got Alec's love to deal with too…
SuzyQ: Thanks for the praise about our writing. As for the comment about Alec…too bad you don't like his parts, coz they ain't slowing. Alec is our fav character and we want to give him his own storyline…we're also trying not to be like the early DA fics which were entirely M/L and had absolutely nothing else – gets kinda boring. This is our attempt to make a somewhat convincing real DA ep and if you don't like it, tough luck.
maggieann452, M/L Only, Black Rose: Thanks for the praise! We're only writing for you readers, so keep the reviews coming, they inspire us!