A/N: Thanks everyone for the reviews!*hugs*

A/N 2: The song snippet is from Brandy - Have You Ever. Lovely song. Beautifully sad, hauntingly melancholic. I thought it works well with this chapter :)

Randomness: You know what, I just watched Yellow Fever a couple of days ago and hell, Jensen sure can scream like a girl mwahahah! I was all taken aback, blinking at the screen as he screams like a freakin' girl LOL Which I totally didn't expect. That was awesome. He was awesome. And then the Eye of the Tiger thing. Totally cool. I'm all happy now :)

Cold Fire

Two men climbed down their nondescript car and stood silently by their vehicle, a twin frown marring their bland faces. They took in the burnt building, a hint of smoke still wafting upwards in the slight breeze.

Their faces remained closed as they surveyed the large trout, still standing firmly beside the ruin. A small movement indicated a shrug from one of them before they strode towards the building.

Burnt down or not, they still had a trail to follow.

-*-

Max pulled his arms tighter around her, snuggling deeper into him. Despite the hazy warm glow of their lovemaking, she was cold. She could feel her Heat slowly burning out and the consequences were terrifying. The words she had whispered during their frantic mating came flooding back.

I want you. I need you. Stay with me. Stay…

He had mumbled something back against her throat before she ground her hips against his. But now, inside the cocoon of his warmth, she shivered and pushed herself closer to him. She didn't know and she didn't dare hazard a guess about his reaction if she pushed the question out in the open again.

Have you ever loved somebody so much

It makes you cry

Now with her rapidly cooling skin pressed against his, her lips pressed against the side of his arms and waited agonizingly for his next move. The moment she knew her Heat was over, she could feel him stiffen and her hold on his arms tighten in retaliation.

No, please… Stay with me Alec…

'What… what happened?'

The confusion in his voice left bleeding welts in its wake. She forced herself to look up to him. 'You're mine. You have to remember that.' Her fingers hovered uncertainly over the mark she made earlier. His eyes were cloudy, a haze floating over the golden specks of green.

Have you ever been in love

Been in love so bad

You'd do anything to make them understand

'Oh god, no. Rachel…'

Her muscles stiffened at the last whispered word as his hold on her slackened. That one word robbed her of any reaction as she squeezed her eyes shut in defeat. He'd chosen and it wasn't her.

Have you ever had someone steal your heart away

You'd give anything to make them feel the same

Have you ever searched for words to get you in their heart

That fact stopped her from stopping him from leaving, from screaming to his face that he had made the worst possible mistake ever.

But you don't know what to say

And you don't know where to start

She knew when he left, had felt it the second he lifted himself from her. The cold rushed in, freezing her to the bone and she shivered.

She realized she had lost him the instant his feet touched the cold floor. The sound of his footsteps was a nail in her coffin. The swish of clothes against skin was a shovel full of dirt thrown over her limp form. But when his steps faltered, she held her breath, hope blooming frantically within. She couldn't make herself turn and look at whatever was swimming in his eyes. She was frozen in her fear and hope.

When his footstep stopped right behind her, she braced herself as she waited for his move. A second later, something landed on her. Instead of his skin, it was something heavy and somewhat scratchy. Max's bruised heart dropped. It was a blanket. She squeezed her eyes tighter as again, his footsteps moved away from her. She had forgotten that she was naked, lying alone on a cold dusty floor. Abandoned and discarded.

She understood that he was gone from her life the moment the door slammed behind him.

Have you ever found the one

You've dreamed of all of your life

You'd do just about anything to look into their eyes

Have you finally found the one you've given your heart to

Only to find that one won't give their heart to you

At some point she knew he was starting to regain his lost memory. That he had remembered Rachel first and not her was painful but the fact that Rachel came to his life first was probably the reason. But she couldn't push away the little voice that kept on whispering insistently that there was more to it than that.

Maybe… just maybe he only remembered that girl because he genuinely love Rachel more than he loved her.

Suddenly, she saw that he was smiling; his beautiful full lips were quirked into a full smile. Her lips were trembling and she lowered her lids a bit, trying hard to get herself under control and then she saw it. He was holding out his hand towards her. 'Glad you're finally here,' he grinned down at her, closing his long fingers over hers tightly. 'It sure took you long enough.'

Painful… but it was possible.

Even across the room, she could feel his sorrow. It was coming from him in waves that struck a chord in her cynical heart. 'I should've tried harder, Rachel. I should've fought them. I didn't understand. I didn't understand how much I loved you.'

Terrifying… but it could be true.

They had screwed each other's brains out and he still couldn't get passed her name? What did that mean? That she meant less to him than Rachel, that's what.

His preciously beautiful, innocently fragile girl.

If she was still around, still alive… there was a huge possibility that Max would strangle her, kill that girl with her own hands. She may be furious, but the fury was only skin deep. Too shallow to even touched her cold core. She was frozen, layers of ice had bound her and she didn't even care what happened next.

People said that revenge wais best served cold, but Max had no desire to do anything anymore. She didn't want to move. She didn't want to think. She didn't want to breathe.

She didn't even want to live.

-*-

Under the wavering shadows of trees, a black car blazed by, streaking across the deserted road, leaving a trail of dust and smoke in its wake. Two rabbits huddled close, startled to stillness at the foreign noise that pierced through the customary silence. Their eyes were large and unblinking when as quickly as the huge black snake-like thing slithered through, it disappeared. Their whiskers twitched once, sniffing the air, testing for their safety. A few seconds later, they hopped towards their burrow, satisfied that the danger was gone.

Up ahead, two men stared dead ahead, occasionally their eyes flicked to the side to reassure that they were on the right track. Their features were sharp, all planes and sharp angles and with identical clothing, they almost resembled each other, down to the blank expression.

However, as the driver tilted his head, a long jagged scar shone faintly as it ran from the corner of his eye to his jaw line. He narrowed his eyes and turned towards his partner. Without a word, the other Familiar nodded. They stopped the car and studied the trail silently.

'They're on a bike,' Long Scar spoke, his tone flat and almost bored. As if hunting down transgenics was as mundane as walking down the street. 'They're together. One of them must be wounded.'

The other nodded, squinting into the trees. 'We're close, let's go.'

Their car plowed over the bushes and the undergrowth, following the trail Max had left behind. The trail she was too preoccupied to hide. They stopped the car and started on foot when they deemed they were close enough, picking their way carefully across the bushes. Long Scar crouched and signaled to the other to be still as he studied the trampled bush, pushing it slowly aside. He turned to his partner and gestured with satisfaction at the shack.

Anyone with half a brain could track them, he sniffed disdainfully. It just proved that those transgenics, animals that they are, were inferior creatures. And like trapped animals, they were gonna die soon enough.

They both crouched, eyes trained on the target as they scrutinized the area for any type of activity. Their eyes skittered to each other when total silence hit like a bucket of ice. A sliver of something much like dread started chewing on the edge of their confidence.

There was no way they couldn't detect anything from the house. Even if they were real quiet, they'd still make some noise. Footsteps, voices, furniture moving, whispers… something. They turned to each other again. Something was not right.

But the motorbike was there, parked just beside the front door, not even hidden. How stupid was that? The insipid creatures must still be inside.

The Familiars crept forward slowly, eyes hard and muscles ready for battle. One of them put his hand on the door, nodded to his partner. He had detected some movement from the inside. Slight but there. And from the sound, they were just beyond the door.

-*-

Just a few miles down the road, a car stopped by the side of the street, the driver smiling at the disheveled young man. 'Do you need a lift?'

He nodded and slipped into the passenger's seat. I'm coming Rachel, I'm coming.

-*-

One by one, they slipped their guns from the holster and after that, it was an explosion of sound and movement as they burst into the room, guns aimed directly at her back.

'Don't move! Don't you dare move a muscle!'

The figure under the blanket didn't budge. Long Scar stepped forward and without hesitation gave her a swift kick in the arm, just below her shoulder. She flipped to her back and the two guns automatically trained to her head, their trigger happy fingers twitching.

'Don't even think of doing anything stupid or we'll blow a hole in your head,' he snarled, gun held steady. Then it happened. In his long illustrious history of being part of an elite breeding cult, he never experienced anything like that. Shock… surprise.

So much that it robbed him of speech and thought for a moment. Then again, he had never seen anything like that in his life. She was breathing because he could see small movement under the blanket, but her eyes were dead. They were open, but there was nothing in it.

He actually felt a sharp sliver of fear for a second. His breath rushed out uncertainly and he turned to his partner. His first time too for a spot of reassurance. It relieved him greatly to see that his partner was spooked as well, it was clear in his eyes.

'Move, you stupid bitch,' he lashed out, his boot connected with her ribs but she didn't react. He crouched before pulling her up, pushing her into the only chair around.

'Where is he?' he growled into her slumped form. 'Where is 494?'

Something flickered briefly in her eyes before it quivered and die. No, she can't think of him. It hurt too much. She pushed everything aside; she was too tired to do anything. She just wanted to close her eyes and never wake up. She didn't feel the sting of the slap on her face, she was in a place where she couldn't feel anything anymore.

'Where is he? Tell us where he is!'

In her mutilated mind, she huddled in a bleak corner. And when the dark approached, she embraced it.

Have you ever found the one
You've dreamed of all of your life
You'd do just about anything to look into their eyes
Have you finally found the one you've given your heart to
Only to find that one won't give their heart to you
Have you ever closed your eyes and
Dreamed that they were there
And all you can do is wait for the day when they will care

-*-

The clouds hung low in the sky, gray and moody. He stepped over a loose stone, trudging forward, focusing on putting one step in front of the other.

Rachel.

His closed his eyes in defeat. How could he let that happen to her? She was the sweetest little innocent he had ever met; always smiling, always happy. But he had robbed her of that smile, that happiness… he even stole her life. He knew he never deserved her, but to have something that pure, that sweet, that happy, even for a fraction of time was worth it.

The closer he got, the slower his steps became. He had been running before, driven by something distant, pushed by a half buried memory. But now that he was almost there, the steps were harder to take. He stopped in his tracks, frowning as he stared blindly ahead.

Max.

Where did that girl fit into the jagged pieces of his life? There was something about her… something that beckoned stealthily but when he drifted closer, it dissipated from his view. He had pushed it aside as something irrelevant in the past but he didn't know what to make of it now.

Who was she? Who was she to him? Someone he knew? A friend? But she was one of the 09ers, so that should be impossible. Maybe she was recaptured, and they got to know each other while in Manticore? Were they in a mission together? They were still a lot on unanswered questions, issues that she was to clarify but all inquiry went out the window after one whiff of her pheromones.

He was not… happy with the way he had jumped her, how he had practically forced her at first, the way the animal streak in him took over. He was human dammit, and humans never tossed aside their intelligence and let instinct rule their every move. After the Heat, leaving her was hard, almost impossible. In a way it was like gnawing off a limb and leaving it behind to rot but it was something he had to do. Something he needed to do. But never in his wildest dreams would Manticore disappear, burnt to the ground so hell, nothing was impossible now. There was nothing he can't do now.

He pulled his coat closer, suddenly cold. Just beyond the trees, in that little clearing was his destination. He forced himself to walk towards the stone erected in her honour. Standing silently in front of her grave, his eyes read the inscription.

Rachel

Beloved daughter

Jan 15 2002

Oct 21 2020

His head hung low, and he mourned for his lost love.

-*-

They were both pacing, angry at the turn of events. They had thought they had the cat in the bag, so to speak, but it turned out that their cat had lost its tongue. Their eyes skittered to her sprawled figure, shadows of bruises started to appear, darkening her ashen form. The clothes hanged crazily from her small frame, ripped and dirty with splashes of blood giving it a spray of colour. Her head rolled to one side as it rested on the back of the chair, black eyes trained to a faraway place, blank and empty.

The Familiar with the scar grabbed her by the hair, forcing her head to tilt to him. 'Where the hell is he? Start talking before I kill you!' His fingers tightened on her scalp, but her expression never changed. Not even when a stream of blood trickled down her face when his nails had sliced open skin. He pushed her away in disgust and pulled out his cell phone.

He continued to pace as he waited for his call to go through. 'We got one of them, sir.'

'One? What about the other?'

'We're trying to get 494's location out of 452 but,' he swallowed hard, 'she's not cooperating.'

'I'm disappointed in you, Stefan. I put you on this because you're the best, but it seems I misjudged you.'

Stefan's scar seemed to have a life of its own as he gritted his teeth.

'Bring her in. We'll make her talk.'

'Yes sir. Fen'os tol.' He stared at his cell phone, breathing hard as he tried to collect himself. He turned to his partner and snapped, 'We go back to base. Prepare her.'

-*-

A small breeze danced over the ground, lifting dry leaves from where it had fallen, much like a curious child's fingers poking at the unknown. His hair wavered softly, a tentative quiver against his pale face as he took a step towards her tombstone. He dropped his head and stared at the lone wildflower he had picked, the one he wanted to put on her grave.

The fragile blue petals seemed to whisper its secret to the wind as the breeze caressed its soft fingers across the velvety petals. He let out a heavy sigh, eyes shadowed with pain and placed the flower on the stone. His fingers graced the cold surface and suddenly the glassy sheen in his eyes sharpened as he gasped in pain at the surge of memories bombarding his brain.

'She's critical,' Carr answered bluntly, 'I don't think she will make it past 24 hours.' He closed his eyes as quick slashes of pain surged through him, tearing him apart. Hot and painful.

'Max had been looking for the cure for almost a year,' she purposely left out Logan's name, 'what makes you think you're gonna find it in less than 24 hours. What exactly are you gonna do, Alec?' 'Anything, Cindy. Anything… and everything.'

'You should have a name too,' that stubborn female voice called out. 'I told you, my designation's 494,' he replied matter-of-factly. The fiery brunette shook her head slowly, 'Doesn't suit you. I'm gonna call you Alec.'

'What about half a million? Does the cure means that much to you?' asked Fowler, obviously trying to gauge just how far should he push Alec. 'Wait a second. No, that doesn't sound right. I think I'd prefer a round figure. One million dollars, that's my price and it's not negotiable. Take it or leave it.'

The flower dropped on the top of the headstone, dropping from his numb fingers before landing on the ground. One of the petals came free from the impact and fluttered softly, riding the easy breeze. His blood raced eerily to his feet and he fell to his knees.

'Oh god, Alec.' She started running her trembling hands over his body and her tears raced faster down her cheeks when her shaking fingers encountered the deep cuts and wounds. Her agitation and fear rose a couple of notches after she felt the long gash and broken bones. 'I'm fine, baby,' he managed to whisper even as another wave of pain crashed over him. 'It's just a scratch.'

This time Max did growl in frustration and her eyes were alive in anger. 'For the last time, Alec, I'm not saying this under any influence of drugs or something. YES, I have feelings for you. Is that blunt enough for you?' Alec gulped; his eyes were wide as he stared her way. Damn, she's serious.

'I love you, Alec, I really do,' she replied in a small voice as her hand tightened protectively around him. Even though he was having some major difficulties in concentrating on what she was saying, Alec heard that last sentence and smiled. 'Those words are already deeply engraved on my heart, Maxie. I don't think forgetting them would even be possible.'

'You love me. Those words are already deeply engraved in your heart, forgetting them was not possible... that's what you said to me. Don't you remember? You love me!' 'I love her. Rachel. I love her and she paid for it.'

'Oh god.' The golden flecks swimming in his green eyes shined with pain. Agony at what he had inflicted on her. Unknowingly or not, he had hurt her, had made her cry. He had used her and tossed her aside. If he didn't have to find her and explain everything, he'd kill himself first. 'God, Maxie,' his head dropped to the cold stone. 'What have I done to you?


to be continued