Blue eyes focused on them, lips twitched trying to contain a smirk that had come after his annoyance and anger had passed. They were oblivious to him, any noises she might have heard covered up by the soft music, her attention already distracted by Logan. She was on her back on the sofa, her legs draped over him, he was leaning over her switching between whispering to her and kissing her. Her hand now wearing his rings occasionally raising up to the back of his neck, running her hands along the back of his hair, small smiles were passing her lips.
He took in the scene outside of them, noting the obvious differences since the last time he'd been here. An empty white cradle rested next to the sofa, a baby monitor rested before them on the coffee table and not to mention the new addition underneath the top of Max's black tank, which openly he admired while he could.
"Looks like I'm a little late in interrupting. So what do I have a niece or nephew?"
They'd both started to shoot up the moment he'd started to speak, Logan was speechless and Max whispered, "Zack" as she raised a hand to her chest, where the scar of his gift had once resided.
He smiled as he watched her eyes in those first few seconds, the joy and the fear fighting each other, he'd chastise her later about letting her guard down, for not reacting like a soldier would have. "It's me baby sister."
Everything Manticore had ever taught her flew out of the open skylight he'd come in from; she ran to him and wrapped her arms around him, "Zack" she cried as he returned the rib crushing hug. He couldn't hide his smile in that moment, she may not love him like she loved Logan, but she did love him.
He looked over Max's shoulder to see Logan now standing, different emotions running through his eyes, distrust being the most obvious, followed by confusion.
"Tell your hubby I'm not Manticore Maxie"
She separated from Zack to turn back to Logan and then she looked back up at Zack again. Looked deep into her brother's eyes and saw his love for her, he was Zack, "How'd you…"
"Played the prodigal son for awhile. Finally let me out on a mission. No Logan" he said to look back over at his new brother-in-law and sure enough Logan's mouth was open, "They're not tracking me and as far as I can tell while I'm mostly machine underneath this, they didn't include any tracking devices…Too easy detect if anyone knows what to look for."
Logan let out a sigh, but it wasn't one of relief, at least not fully. "I'm gonna call Sebastian. Tell him we're coming over. I'm not taking any chances." as he was picking up the phone he looked back, "It's good to see you Zack" he nodded.
Max laughed, "Come meet your nephew big brother."
"Wow Maxie" he said looking down at the crib and stroking the infant's blue terry cloth covered back.
"I know" she beamed.
"How old is he?"
"13 weeks" she said brushing up against him, leaning over to lift up her son who slightly fussed at being awakened, her shark DNA having definitely skipped him. "According to Lydecker though he's at least 6 months developmentally." She made a face as she looked away from Alex and to Zack, "I think he might be on the Logan train of thought though." They wanted her son to be a genius, she just wanted him to be a regular kid.
"You let Lydecker near your kid?" All of Zack's protectiveness kicked in.
Max laughed, he was worried Lydecker would sell them out, she'd worried about that too from time to time, but who besides him knew everything she and her sibs, not to mention their kids were up against. "He's not too bad nowadays. He randomly shows up to check up on us."
She laughed again, "Don't worry, I'll watch my back. Hold your nephew" she said and started transferring him over before Zack could refuse. He awkwardly took the baby, feeling out of place holding something so small and delicate.
"So does he have a name or what?"
Max smiled as her son clutched her finger and she looked up to Zack, "Alexander Zachary. Figured since none of this…" She couldn't finish the words and instead took her brother's hand and completed the circle between them.
"I couldn't let you go Maxie" he said roughly and he kissed the top of her head. When he looked up again he saw Logan standing in the doorway, "So can your friend see us?"
"Yea" he nodded.
"Thank you" Logan said as the two men sat in silence alone in a room awaiting Sebastian's final results, Max was outside pushing Alex in his stroller trying to get him back to sleep.
Zack looked over confused, Logan was definitely not the man who would ever thank him for turning up and interrupting his perfect little life.
"For Max, if I could have…" If he could have given his own life, he would have.
Zack nodded, not allowing any words to pass his lips, not trusting his emotions. Logan loved her like he loved her, in those few short moments when he thought he'd lost her…Finally he gruffly said, "You ever hurt her or my nephew, I'll kill you."
"You'd be too late, I'd already be dead." Logan wasn't lying, if he ever did anything to hurt them…He would never allow it to come to that though, he would put a bullet to his own head before allowing that to happen.
"So how goes the job?" she asked unaware of the hazel eyes watching them.
Zack sighed and pushed his bike as she walked along with the stroller.
"Come on Sammy, weren't you once his golden boy?"
"How long do I have to suck up to Normal?"
She laughed, "You're calling him Sir for at least another month."
He groaned, he'd already been at this for 3 weeks…He couldn't take anymore. He wasn't ready to leave them yet though.
He needed the time with his family, not just Max and Alex or Xander as others called him, Max and Logan had wanted to give him a timeless, yet modern name. If he'd come just a few months earlier he would have met Jace again for the first time in 13 years and her son, Max's namesake. But as it was Krit, Syl, and Zane along with Shep, his faithful four-legged companion had arrived in Seattle to welcome him back from the dead, he was sure at least a few others would eventually follow given time, after all it had only been 3 weeks. Lydecker had come too and said 'I'm proud of you son.' It had taken Zack a few moments to remember to remind Lydecker he wasn't his son and he pushed away how good it felt to be praised by him, he wasn't ten anymore.
"I don't think so."
"I do…Do you have any idea how hard I groveled to get your job back? Me grovel and to Normal of all people" she groaned as she laughed.
He wrapped an arm around her "And that's why I love you little sister"
Max smiled and walked with him like that for a few, her dying had definitely been good in convincing the two main men of her previous life to not take her for granted.
She went flying back into the wall and Zack turned to go after Logan. Who hadn't left like she'd screamed at him to when Zack had lost it. Something had been wrong for this past week, the brother who had returned to her 3 months ago had been disappearing, but she never expected this. She'd barely managed to pry Zack off of Logan, his strength almost greater than hers because of his anger. Logan had stumbled trying to stand back up after being choked, but he wouldn't leave. He wouldn't leave her or their son, who had started crying from the nursery as the noise had started. He didn't want to lead Zack to Alex so he stopped in the office and made a frantic grab at the drawer for his gun.
He heard the shot softened by the silencer just as his hand was covering the gun. He turned, gun in hand to see Alec standing in his living room, Zack lying on the floor, a pool of blood starting to surround him and Max still sitting on the floor where she'd landed in shock.
Alec shook his head as he turned to look at Max, "I'm sorry. I really didn't think…" he hadn't thought the reprogramming he heard of before being assigned to his mission had worked, he'd watched her just to be on the safe side. ..If he hadn't been…
Max's mouth was open in shock as she looked from Alec to Zack, her brother lying dead on the floor…He had been trying to kill Logan though…She couldn't understand it, how could her brother…
Alec didn't fully understand himself, he didn't know why Zack had gone after Logan and not Max. He knew Manticore was after everyone involved in the explosion in the DNA lab…Then again how Zack looked at Max…There would be no amount of reprogramming possible for him to kill her. Logan though… "Someone should probably go quiet the kid before your neighbors turn up."
Logan nodded as he walked out of the room still in a daze. Alec had let Max go over two years ago, given her back to him and now he'd saved Logan's life, Logan wasn't really sure how or why either event had happened, but they had.
Logan walked out into the room with his now calm son his arms, making sure to shield his eyes from his uncle's dead body. "Max" he said walking over to his still wife, no emotions visible in her eyes or on her face, she was just staring at Zack's body.
"Logan we should get this cleaned up" Alec said from behind him.
Logan nodded, squatting down before Max, "Max that wasn't him. That was Manticore."
She nodded, bit her lip a little and tried to focus up on Logan and not Zack's body.
"Take Alex and go to the nursery."
"But Zack…" she whimpered softly
"That's not Zack Max," he touched her breast where Zack's heart lay beneath, "This is Zack."
Her eyes looked up at him, tears starting to fill them and then back over to Zack.
"Take Alex Max" he shifted the baby over to her arms and she looked down at their son, alert and bright at six and a half months, blonde hair, his eyes long since made the change from newborn blue to green, so focused on her face. She looked back up at Logan, "That's not Zack Max" he said shaking his head. He placed a hand under her arm and helped her up and placed his body in between hers and Zack's, limiting her view as he walked them out of the room.
Alec gave them one final look before he left the apartment, Max still so eerily still and silent with the sleeping baby in her arms, curled into Logan's side on the daybed. Zack's body now resting in the trunk of his car with instructions from Logan on where to take it. He hadn't wanted Alec to dump it, "I owe too much to him" he'd said, "I owe too much to you too." he'd added. So Logan would give a funeral to the man who had tried to kill him, but was also the man who had given him back a reason to live, either a place for Max to visit or ashes to scatter in the wind, but he wouldn't dump him like garbage.
He knew they'd get over this. He knew she wouldn't allow this to mar the memory of her brother. One day she would be happy that they'd had these final months, she wouldn't give them so much power over her. She wouldn't allow them to destroy her happiness, no matter how many times they tried.
As he walked away from the doorway he thought about just leaving now. Starting over, getting another chance like Max. That would have to wait for another mission though, he wouldn't bring Manticore to Seattle, he wouldn't risk them finding out about her. He'd just leave them wondering if their mission was completed or not.
He finally heard Max's sobs emerge as he reached the door and Logan's comforting words that he knew didn't effect her. It was his presence that would bring her relief, the sound of his voice, no words could make her understand this loss. She would be okay though, she had too much to lose if she gave into the grief and Logan would never let her go, never let her give into the pain. They would be okay. She would stay safe this time.
Damn it people that hadn't been my plea for reviews in the last chapter (though that did get this chapter written ridiculously quick), don't you guys know what my pleading looks like by now? I was saving that for this chapter, the final chapter, I know better than to expect you people to review this frequently.
Oh well I hoped you enjoyed and if you didn't please blame huntress k, not me. Oh and what's this whole book club thing about fanfics? Can someone pass back to me what gets said? Come on, I'm a big girl, I can handle it. I'm okay with nitpicking (good eye btw Babyangel) and I can handle hearing what people don't like (which I'm sure I'm going to hear about now).
Okay well anyway, that's the end of the story this time, if you wanna be great you can review again. Thanks for reading and all the reviews from the last chapter.