Chapter Two: Long Day—Part Six

"I didn't realize it was so bad out here," Dawn muttered somberly as her head swiveled to and fro, taking in the poverty laden streets. Out of every six people that she saw four of them were either unwashed, malnourished, showed signs of chronic illness, but most often some combination of all three. They trudged along with their entire life stuffed worn down shopping carriages, rusted wheels squeaking as they splashed through puddles.

It wasn't as bad around the hospital, but Dawn suspected that had more to do with the heavy police presence moving people along; ensuring that the doctors and nurses who worked inside remained unmolested by the poor and the weak and the downtrodden.

"They always say things are getting better." She felt Julian's strong hand on her shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly as he pulled her to him. Trying—like he always did, but without much noticeable success—to shelter her from some of lives' harsher realities. "If this is better, I don't think I want to know what worse was like."

Dawn's right about that. Buffy thought as she took in the stark poverty. Just with the money she had on her, Buffy suspected she could set herself up like a queen. The news always makes it sound like their just a couple years away getting back on their feet.

While her job never took her west of the American Rockies, quite often she was forced into Central America; El Salvador, Nicaragua, and a few other unsavory little hotbeds of criminal fortitude. Seattle wasn't that bad, but it still fell far short of the standards the rest of America enjoyed. Only New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Bayou, has suffered more devastation then Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

One was nature unleashed; the other, one man's hatred towards another. The results were pretty much the same. Vermin would starve on the difference.

Methos agreed with Dawn. He wished he didn't know what worse was like, only he's seen it first hand. He's seen it so much that for the last two centuries he's kept wide of anyplace that wasn't Europe, North America, or industrialized Japan. He avoided anything that resembled third world like it was the plague.

Ice plunged in his veins; his entire body felt as if he had just been plugged directly into a lightening bolt. In that single instant he felt more alive then he's ever felt before; it was being born without ever knowing death, it was the first breath, it was being plunged into artic water and molten lava at the same time. Nobody else could ever feel that one of kind sensation, not even pre-immortals. It was LoJack for immortals.

He tried to maintain his facial expression; a bland sort of neutrality, much like Switzerland, but it was hard when every fiber of his being felt like a lightening bolt had just seared the flesh from his bones. The frown that carved shallow gullies in Buffy's brow told Methos that he failed miserably. She was ultra observant; even when not paying particular attention, Buffy seemed notice everything.

She picked Nick Wolfe out of crowd at almost the same moment he did. Methos cursed himself for not remembering the man had moved to Seattle. Worse yet he forgot to mention it to Duncan. He hoped the two didn't accidentally pick a fight with each other before he got a chance to straighten this little blunder out. Duncan's safety wasn't much of a concern, the Scotsman had proved time and time again he was the equal of even the oldest of their kind. Methos could only wonder how he got stuck acting as the man's guardian angel, then remembered how vicious Amanda could be when it suited her purpose. She would go out of her way to make his life a living hell if Wolfe died while he was in the area.

Wolfe though wasn't the presence he felt… at least he wasn't the only presence he felt; to his knowledge the youngster had never taken a head. Overwhelming Nick was someone else. Someone old and powerful. Someone with the age and experience to be a threat to him.

His gaze scaled the side of the concrete and glass hospital. Somewhere inside was a person looking down upon the square wondering where he was, who he might be? If he was a head hunter or not?

It took Buffy a moment to wipe the frown from her face. She didn't want Julian to notice her noticing the sudden change in his posture. It wasn't much, a slight tensing in his shoulders and back; standing a bit straighter, not so much slouch. For Julian though, with his impenetrable poker face and exceedingly dry wit, it was like somebody else screaming fire in a crowded movie theatre and watching the panicked multitude stampede.

His posture now reminded her of a predator entering another's territory; one it didn't want to enter but was otherwise unable to avoid. Buffy didn't have a hard time picking out the threat. The man looked just like Julian, head swiveling this way and that, only Julian's movement had been more refined; as was his—I'm the one—stance both men had adopted.

The stranger actually didn't look anything Julian; about the same height, a little shorter… Maybe? It was hard to judge without an actual side by side comparison. Darker, more unkempt hair. To Buffy's eye it barely looked like he raked his fingers through it after getting out of the shower. His face was fuller, nowhere near as narrow as Julian's, but still with a cut jaw line and a square chin; the rest of his body followed suit; broader shoulders, heavier chest, thicker waistline.

Like Julian, he also kept a sword tucked away inside his short coat. It was well hidden and Buffy doubted she would have come close to catching a whiff of the blade if not for her honed slayer powers. Back in Sunnydale she would have missed it. Years spent honing her natural aptitude made spotting the weapon as effortless as breathing.

A handful of heartbeats passed before Buffy realized Julian hadn't picked the man out of the thin stream of people doggedly trudging their way towards the hospital from the other end of the road. That or Julian had already dismissed the man. His gaze was skimming the hospital as if what he was looking for was within the building.

They had made the trek to Seattle's only functioning hospital despite both hers and Dawn's rather strenuous objections. It was unlikely that Christian or Bella Donna would end up here; neither had ever been sick a day their lives, and as far as somebody putting them in a hospital…

It was doubtful, to say the least.

Julian wanted to be thorough though. There were a few teenagers recuperating that matched the description of her children. Buffy suspected that if Bella Donna and Christian were going to be that easy to find, it would be because they were locked up in a prison cell, not a hospital.

Not that she was overly pleased to be heading there next.

In the space of a heartbeat, the man's gaze settled squarely on Julian. For a moment his gray eyes were startled to see him, but his expression quickly firmed before he resolutely ignored Julian. With a quick stride he marched on the hospital and vanished through the sliding doors.

"Let's get inside… Do what we came here to do," Methos said steering Dawn toward the door. "There's nothing we can do right now. Not here at any rate. Once we get back home, we'll be able to expose what's going on."

Dawn frowned at Julian's statement, but allowed herself to be guided. Julian was right, with everything else they had on their plate at the moment, there was nothing they could do right this moment, but once they returned to New York, devised a plan of action. Then they would be able to make a difference…

Or they would forget everything?

Immerse themselves back in the dreary, mundane existence and never think about Seattle or what they saw here ever again.

Never. I'll never forget what I saw here! I don't care if I have to sear what I've seen here into my brain with a laser torch. Dawn vowed silently as the doors opened before them and she whispered, "Why would they lie to us?"

If not for the essence of a demon, one of the last old ones to roam the earth eons before the rise of human civilization, blended with the core of her being the moment the previous slayer died, supercharging everything about her, Buffy never would have heard her sister's question. Buffy was tempted to answer, explain how the world worked to Dawn.

Governments were only intent on serving their own best interest. And since the Government was made up of a president, a vice president, senators, congressmen, supreme court justices, and about a million other petty little bureaucrats, not to mention all the state Governments, and every single one of them had their own best interest to look after.

She didn't though. She bit her tongue and managed to keep her mouth shut. Despite all the years Dawn had somehow managed to remain innocent. Maybe not as naive as she once was, but she had stayed innocent and Buffy loved her sister far too much to deliberately destroy that. So she remained silent and followed Dawn and Julian through the sliding doors.

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Logan frowned as he looked up from the powered exo-frame as the soft, yet insistent knocking came again. Blue eyes furrowed together as he tried to remember any appointments he might have forgotten about. Whenever he worked on the exo-frame it was even odds he would lose track of several hours, maybe even an entire day, as he tried to optimize the powered exo-frame's capabilities.

The same could be said whenever he sunk his teeth into anything, whether an Eyes Only story or some little tidbit that would help Max and her Manticore created family. Days could slip away from him if he was in deep enough.

"Just a minute," He called out as he rolled his wheelchair across the hardwood floor to retrieve the nine millimeter pistol from his work station. He tucked the powerful handgun into an easy to reach niche he had installed on the chair, and then rolled his way back to the apartment's foyer.

The insistent rap of knuckles against wood came again, harder. Logan wondered who it might be? Lydecker was a possibility, the man knew who he was and if he wanted to get back in the good graces of Manticore, his head on a silver platter would be a good place to start.

Logan wasn't sure if Manticore knew who he was. The virus Max carried was keyed to his genetics, a rather complicated way to kill him, especially if they knew who he was.

There was always Max's brother, Alec. Or maybe he was a cousin, Logan wasn't really sure. In either case he doubted if Alec or anybody from Manticore would knock. The one generally came in through the skylight and the other simple would have kicked his front door in.

"Who is it?" He called out as he approached the door.

"Special delivery for Logan Cale," The voice answered from the other side of the door.

Logan smiled to himself. It had been better then eighteen months since he last heard that voice, twelve years since he first heard it. He rushed to the door, cursing the chair for its slowness. Pulling open the door he said, "Duncan," in an enthusiastic greeting.

Duncan stepped forward, hand extended, a robust smile carving his rugged face and stopped dead. His smile fell away so quickly Logan thought he had imagined it being there at all. Deep concern filled his brown eyes.

Logan however didn't pause, and only cursed himself a little for having picked today to perform standard maintenance on the exo-frame. He fond the best way to avoid long awkward moments, was to never give them a chance to establish a foothold. He grabbed hold of Duncan's outstretched hand and said, "It's good to see you."

His voiced dimmed only a little, but the sentiment was real. It was good to see Duncan again. He had first meant the transplanted Scotsman about a year before the Pulse, when his mother had dragged him along to some high brow art auction when he was seventeen. She had greeted Duncan like an old friend despite the man being a good ten years her junior.

Logan swallowed the words sitting on the tip of his tongue. In twelve years Duncan hadn't changed; he still looked to be in his late twenties; trim and fit with dark hair that was once again tied back in a long ponytail. His brown eyes seemed too old for such a youthful face… the were the only thing about him that had changed. They looked older, sadder. Like the last few years had been particularly hard for him.

As Logan recalled his mother had commented on the fact Duncan didn't look like he aged a day since the last time she saw him. Duncan had accepted the remark with skill, flattering his mother with lavish praise about her unblemished beauty and then quickly steered the conversation around to other topics.

"What brings you to Seattle?"

Duncan recomposed himself quickly, quicker then most. He extended his left hand saying, "I come bearing gifts."

Logan eyed the ancient bottle with wonder as he gentle cupped it with both hands, almost as reverently as a new mother cradling her babe for the first time. It was three hundred years old, unopened, and filled with scotch. It was a fortune, easily worth as much as the lease on his apartment for the next ten years.

Duncan constantly surprised Logan. The man was generous to a fault while never coming across as being ostentatious. It was a hard combination to pull off, yet he did it flawlessly.

"Come in," Logan said moving out of Duncan's way.

Duncan stepped through and swung the door shut behind him. "Expecting company?"

Logan winced at the question. For a history buff and antique collector slash dealer, Duncan was one of the most observant people he has ever meant. He wasn't even sure if Max saw as much as Duncan. "Lot of people out there who don't like it when somebody voices an opinion contrary to what's en vogue," he answered. His voice sounded harsh to his own ears.

He wasn't angry at Duncan.

Fact was Duncan was the first person he ever trusted with his secret… He hadn't had much choice in the matter. Eighteen hours after his first Streaming Video broadcast aired Duncan burst through his front door and demanded to know just what the hell he thought he was doing. That his mother would skin him alive if she ever found out what he was up to.

That had been the first time he'd seen Duncan since the auction nearly a decade earlier. It was the first time he had any idea of Duncan's uncanny retention of detail. That after only one meeting, nine years prior, Duncan had recognized him from nothing more then his eyes.

Nobody else did. Nobody else ever has.

He's seen other instances of over the last three years, but that was the first, the one that stuck with him.

He had scoffed at Duncan's claim, told the man he was imagining things; that he must have left his senses behind when he took off for parts insane. Duncan's gaze never wavered. Never faltered as he let into him about the danger he was stepping in front of.

It hadn't taken a great deal of battering before Duncan smashed his way through Logan's flimsy evasions. In less then an hour he had confessed everything to Duncan, and a few hours later, after he convinced Duncan it wasn't just some lark, Duncan was on board, becoming a member of his underground railroad. The man was exceedingly good at making people disappear, and his forged papers were always top of the line.

He rolled himself away from Duncan, his footsteps ghosting after him. Logan had never realized just how quietly Duncan walked, but being around Max and the other Transgenic made him more aware of things he had previously overlooked.

"Get you a beer?" He asked heading for the kitchen.

"Thanks," Duncan answered slipping out of his duster. He draped the brown coat over the back of the black ergonomic chair. The place was pretty much how he remembered it.

"How was the trip up?" The refrigerator door opened and closed around the question.

"Quite, relaxing. Generally peaceful."

Logan shook his head as he rolled back into the dining room. Duncan was about the only man he knew that would describe multiple checkpoints, invasion of privacy, and armed violation of civil rights as generally peaceful or relaxing.

He handed Duncan a beer and asked, "How've you been?"

"From the look of things," Duncan started and tipped his beer towards Logan, "better then you," he finished, then took a pull off his beer.

And the other great thing about Duncan, is you can always count on him being blunt when there's something to be handled gingerly. "Was a real bad day," Logan spat out.

"Sorry," Duncan said. He sat down cockeyed on the chair, left forearm resting on the table, legs splayed slightly, with his right elbow pressed into his thigh. "What happened?"

"Zigged when I should've zagged," Logan answered with casual flippancy.

Duncan nodded at the answer. "This is me you're talking to," he gently reminded Logan.

"I got in over my head," Logan answered. He took a swallow from his beer and seemed to visibly relax. "A woman had evidence and was willing to testify against Edgar Sonrisa—"

"He was gunned down by his own body guard?"

Logan nodded as he took another pull from his bottle. Lowering it he said, "Apparently they had something of a falling out."

"And you didn't happen to be the inspiration behind this falling out?" Duncan inquired as politely as possible.

Logan gave Duncan a small shake of his head before saying, "A friend of mine decided to take matters into her own hands."

Duncan's gaze was like the sweltering heat of a forge. Logan felt like a slab of steel being hammered into whatever Duncan desired. "Must be a real good friend if she's willing to put her neck on the line like that?" Duncan hinted speculatively.

"And that's all she is," Logan told him.

"Ah," Duncan returned sagely.

Logan could feel the irritation build as he asked, "And what's that suppose to mean?"

"Nothing," Duncan answered standing up, gazing around the apartment. "I mean, you've got a nice place here, some truly exquisite artwork—"

"But," Logan prompted. He wasn't in the mood to hear Duncan critique his décor. Especially not when he already knew what Duncan was going to say.

"It could use a woman's touch," Duncan said as if on cue, "add a bit of color here and there. Spruce the place up." There was a deep, abiding concern filling his dark eyes as he added, "Spruce you up a bit."

"So, not gonna happen." Logan mumbled. He didn't need Max's superhuman hearing to pick up on the disappointment in his voice.

"Why not?" Duncan asked. The more Logan said the more Duncan's curiosity was piqued. He was saying one thing, but Duncan kept hearing the opposite. "She obviously knows about…" He glanced toward Logan's workstation hidden behind screen partitions. "She must know how to take care of herself—"

"It's complicated," Logan cut in sharply.

Duncan smirked lightly as he said, "Women usually are."

Logan scowled at him, a dark withering glare. "Not like that," he said, then backed off a little as he continued, "Oh, so, like that as well. It's just…" He blew out a deep breath. Explaining his and Max's relationship was a difficult proposition. He trusted Duncan with his life, but he couldn't bring himself to trust him with Max's.

Maybe after he talked to Max, but until he got her okay Duncan was going to be stuck in the outside.

"Listen, can we just drop the subject for now?"

"Sure," he agreed placing his beer on the table. "There is something I could use your help with?"

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Max slipped from one shadow cloaked rafter to another as she stalked Summers' stalker. Twice now she has had to hold back or risk being spotted. The girl was that good.

There was no way somebody her age should be able to do that, not without receiving a decade's worth of Special Forces training, which meant there was a good possibility she wasn't exactly normal. She hadn't display any special Transgenic abilities yet, but that might mean she was being careful which is more then she could say for most of her genetically engineered siblings.

Max wished she could get a look at the back of her neck, it would likely confirm what Max already suspected; that the girl wasn't a Transgenic. In a way it would be so much simpler if she were transgenic. If she isn't one of them, it opened up a whole host of other things she might be. Thanks to Christian, it had become an expanded list.

Another type of genetically engineered soldier was at the top of her list, closely followed by a mutant. Those were the simple options… now she had to add in things like slayer, vampire, human looking demon, werewolves and other were creatures. Max wasn't quite sure, but she thought they all sort of fell under the same heading.

The only other option Max could think of was the girl has been alive thirty plus years, yet was trapped in the body of an eighteen year old.

Max gave her head a rueful shake. You've been listening to too many fairy tales girl. Be nice though, reach a certain age and then just stop aging. Think I'd go twenty-two, twenty-five? Eighteen can still be a bit of a hassle sometimes.

Up ahead Scott Summers slid smoothly between creates of ill gotten booty. Max spotted Summers' objective; a black military style Hummer, and suppressed the urge to whistle appreciatively. The vehicle would garner top dollar, fifteen to twenty thousand sold piecemeal. Sixty thousand as is easily.

If they had been a smart tribe of enterprising thugs they would have unloaded it already, even if it meant only getting half, or a third of its fair black market value. Like most criminal organizations, at least the unsuccessful ones, brains flew right out the window when greed was involved.

Scott sidled up to his jeep in a low crouch. He was almost giddy that the thugs who had stolen it were so confident in their untouchable status that they had become lax and arrogant. They hadn't even started unloading his luggage out of the back.

As quiet as any field mouse that didn't want to be spotted he eased the driver door open. He pressed an inner panel. It slid open smoothly revealing a hidden niche. Reaching inside Scott removed his combat visor and gloves, while he could operate the visor manually the micro controls embedded in each thumb pad gave him a greater degree.

Now, like every time he changed eyewear he had to be extremely careful, if his eyelids were to flicker, even the slightest, he would latterly obliterate whatever he happened to be looking at. The last time he blew the roof off Grand Central Station before he was able to regain control.

Max was intrigued by Scott's deliberate actions, the care with which he took off his sunglasses. Focusing in she was able to pick up his reflection in the Hummers window. It was a ghostly image but she could easily make out his face, his eyelids were screwed together so tight they might as well be glued shut for all he'd be able to see.

A heavy click-clack filled her ears as a hammer was set. Max cursed herself as she refocused her eyes, being able to zoom in was great, but her field of vision was almost microscopic in scope.

Standing a scant yard behind Scott was one of the numerous low lives that had been milling about like the rest of them he was fairly non-descript, put him with a bunch of other maggots and she wouldn't be able to pick him out of the group.

His head was shaved bold, and his goatee was neatly trimmed. Surrounding his left ear was a spider-web tattoo, it stretched three quarters of the way up his skull, past the middle of his spine, wrapped around his trapezoid, and ended at the tip of his shoulder. He wore a dark, military style vest—that obscured part of his tattoo—and black cargo pants.

"What do we have here?" His voice was coarse, like two slabs of sandstone being ground together. The gun was aimed directly at the back of Scott's head. He twisted it sideways, but his arm remained steady.

Max patted herself down with a sever hint of desperation as she searched for something, anything to use as a weapon. There was nothing. The only things she had were her pager and cell phone. She plucked the pager from her shoulder and made ready to throw.

"On your feet rich boy," he ordered Scott.

Scott ground his teeth, but began to stand up. He went slowly, keeping his hands visible, sunglasses in one hand, combat visor in the other.

"Hey, look at what I found," he called out loudly to the rest of the crew.

"Well, lookee here."

The voice was smooth, with a note of command and Scott wished he could see the person speaking to know if it was the one who got away. It would be so simple, just open his eyes. He had perfect vision, better then perfect, only his optic blast would destroy everything in his field of vision. Nobody was quite certain how, but his eyes either generated or tapped into this irresistible force; no heat, no energy other then kinetic energy.

There were only two known substances that could contain his optic blast. His flesh was one and the other was the ruby quartz that laced his glasses.

"If it isn't—"

"Nobody move!" Michelle shouted making her presence known.

Scott winced recognizing the voice. He didn't know what the cop was doing here but he doubted it was a coincident.

Max cursed herself again. She had lost track of the girl and didn't even realize it, Don't have to worry about that now, the sarcastic thought bubbled noisily through her mind. Somehow she had skittered away like a cockroach in the dark.

Michelle had maneuvered herself into a defendable position. A pair of stacked crates provided her cover, and several options she could fall back to once the bullets started flying.

And they would fly.

The pair of automatic pistols in her hands looked out of place to Max. Her hands were so small that the guns seemed twice as large.

"Sector Police," she announced boldly.

"No," Max swore softly.

"Is this some kind of joke?"

"Everybody is under arrest." One gun was aimed at the leader, the other at the man holding Scott at gun point.

Scott turned toward the man; his eyes were still squeezed shut.

A dozen guns appeared, as if summoned by magic. "I don't think so."

"Everybody drop your weapons."

"Really don't think so."

None of the thugs were taking cover, trusting their superior fire power to provide all the protection they would need.

"Open your eyes rich boy,"

"You really wouldn't like it if I did that," Scott warned him.

"Hands behind your head, on the floor."

Max tensed, getting ready to move.

"I wanna see your eyes before I blow your brains out Rich boy," the thug growled.

Scott lifted his head a small fraction. His lips twisted slightly as he said, "I did warn you."

"Would somebody kill her!"

The slimmest crease opened as Scott lifted his eyelids. A stream of red force lashed out, it was wild and erratic like a bolt of lightening streaking across the sky. The beam connected the two men for the barest fraction of an instant. The next heartbeat he flew backwards as his body was swathed in a sheet of crimson force.

By the time the man's battered body slammed into a large stack of crates and limply dropped to the floor like a discarded rag doll, the warehouse had erupted. Scott had dropped to a knee, snapping his eyes shut, and slipping his combat visor in place. Michelle opened fire, one bullet taking a tall thug in the chest—she hoped he was wearing some sort of body armor under his heavy sweatshirt, but she wasn't going to lose any sleep if he wasn't—the second round missed its mark as the leader dove for cover.

Between both her guns, she was able to fire off five more shots in the span of a heartbeat; they were fired much too quickly for her to aim properly, but two of the rounds still hit their mark and the other three were close enough to make finding cover a priority.

Max couldn't believe she was caught flat footed, but she hadn't expected Summers to open negotiations with such a volatile offer either, it didn't fit with his profile. When somebody has a gun to your head profiles can be chucked out a window. His actions did lend credence to the speculation that he couldn't control the energy his eyes generate.

The cop moved almost as fast as a transgenic as she shifted from target to target. The image of this small waif of a girl in the uniform of sector cop didn't fly for Max. With guns blazing she didn't look like such a waif; a ruthlessly efficient waif that drove thugs for cover, maybe, but definitely not a garden variety waif.

In the span of two beats, Max launched herself into action. Ten feet away and five feet lower she grabbed hold of one of many support beams connecting the floor to the roof. Gripping the rough ridges Max flung herself another twenty feet closer to her objective.

What the hell you doing girl?

Everybody was so busy keeping their head down that Max raced up the narrow alley completely unnoticed. Almost unnoticed. The single red eye, it was straight out of a pre-pulse sci-fi show. She found it unnerving, like a human hating machine.

This ain't no business of yours. Max sprinted forward, surging ahead of Scott's gaze. Shoulda just left things like this alone. So gonna kick Logan's ass for doing this to me.

A quartet of thugs took refugee behind flimsy cover; it was enough to give them a little courage to return fire. Automatic weapons spit out round after round far faster then Michelle's pair of automatic pistols and forced her to take cover.

Ducking down low she darted from her cover, moving into the open for half a second as she raced up the aisle; taking half a dozen quick strides before diving for cover.

A thin, controlled stream of red force smashed one gun man. He flew back as if hurled from a speeding car. He hit the hood of a late model sadden and careened over it, disappearing from view.

The beam swept from the left, driving everybody to the floor before it. Scott was careful to regulate its strength, despite everything he's been through in the past twenty-four hours; the last thing he wanted was to seriously injure anybody. He wanted was to get his jeep back.

The beam he maintained didn't even have the strength to splinter wood. That could change in a split second. All it would take is a thought.

Max landed in the midst of a sea of the street gang to startled gasps. Before they knew what hit them, three were on the floor, either unconscious or wishing they were. The other five reacted quickly, attacking the girl with the rabid ferocity of wild dogs.

They looked like clumsy automatons as Max danced among them. She moved with a lithe, fluid grace; not a ballerina, she was too in tune with the world, with its hectic, helter-skelter rhythm. Each movement, each punch or kick, elbow, knee, or head butt flowing from the one before to the one that followed. Every blow landed like a mule kick.

A dozen seconds later it was over.

Max had been aware of other people falling during her private little battle. Summers had been busy popping people as they stuck their heads up. Sometime during the fight she had lost track of the cop. Scott walked up to her, opened his mouth but stayed silent as Max held up her hand. Concentrating, Max focused in on the last spot she had been aware of the cop. Blood was in the air and she could hear soft whimpers, muttered curses and the occasional thud of flesh striking concrete.

"This way," she said with a quick hand motion. She easily burst ahead of Scott.

He wasn't overly amazed with her display of superhuman power having spent half his life living in a mansion dedicated to training and educating mutants.

"Shit." He heard her whisper rather loudly as she landed on top of a crate.

Michelle looked up at Max. "Fuck," she groaned painfully seeing her.

"She's been shot," Max shouted dropping to the floor. "Twice. Losing a lot of blood. I need some rags, anything to—"

"Hate getting shot," Michelle hissed.

"Me to," Max agreed as she grabbed hold of the blouse.

Bloody fingers wrapped themselves around Max's wrist. "Hey, this is my favorite blouse. A little Oxi Clean'll fix it right up."

She was stronger then Max thought possible, especially for someone with a bullet in their shoulder as well as their gut. Still Max was able to power her way through tearing the blouse in half.

"No needle and thread is going to fix that now," Michelle grumbled. "I was only shot, wasn't like I lost my head or anything."

"You're going into shock," Max told her. It was the only thing that explained her words. She was acting as if this was nothing; as if being shot was a ho-hum every day experience. "Focus on me," she ordered the girl.

"You are kind of cute," Michelle replied, more to see what kind of reaction she could get out of her would be savior.

A rueful smile slipped across Max's lips. Great, she's lying here, bleeding out… yet she can find the strength to hit on me. Max applied pressure to the wound. "Once we get you patched up I'll introduce you to my roommate. You two'll get along great."

Michelle closed her eyes, a soft groan escaping her lips. Great, good going Michelle. Set yourself up on a blind date while you're at it. Probably some fat, haffer dy— "Oww!"

The hard slap filled the warehouse. "Stay with me," Max ordered.

"I'm gonna be fine," Michelle snapped.

"Su—ow!" Max gasped as a small jolt bit into her palm. Pulling her hand back, Max looked down in amazement as tiny, blue sparks of electricity cascaded vibrantly around the bullet hole. In a matter of seconds it was gone. The only thing that was left was unblemished skin. It was like she had never been shot.

Max looked back up at Michelle's face, shock in her eyes. She could heal from massive injuries, even gunshots, but it would take hours and be days before the scar vanished completely. "How?" The word finally slipped out of her mouth.

"That's a long story," Michelle answered pushing herself to her feet.

"Healing factor," Scott said from behind Max. "Or some sort of accelerated regenerative power."

"Maybe not so long," Michelle corrected herself.

Max looked from one to the other, "What the… I heal fast, but not that fast."

Michelle stripped off the remnants of her blouse and began to wipe away blood. "I work with a man whose body heals at an accelerated rate. Small cuts, burns, abrasions. They're normally gone in seconds, gunshots a bit longer. Here, put this on," he said handing Michelle a T-shirt.

"Thanks," she mumbled taking the offered clothing. Slipping it over her head she started saying, "We really should get out of here. Its even odds as to whether anybody called the police—"

"Thought you are the police?"

Her head popped through the dark material. "I'm a cop doing something I'm not suppose to be doing," Michelle answered.

Max snorted before saying, "Like that's so out of the ordinary. No cop in Seattle does what their not suppose to."

A deep sadness filled Michelle's eyes. She didn't move but to Max it looked as if her shoulders slumped, like she suddenly felt a greater burden.

"Can we just go?" Michelle finally demanded.