AU - Manticore's been destroyed, the Familiars are out of the picture, Terminal City has become the permanent home for most transgenics, and Freak Nation as a whole is now an accepted part of Seattle society.

Family Game Night, X5 style

A/N: A little ficlet just for the hell of it. Max and her siblings get together in Terminal City for a little family reunion. M/A implied, but the focus is on normal family interaction.

It was Friday night in Terminal City and Max and Alec were rushing around their apartment, frantically trying to clean up. Max had gotten a call about an hour before from some of her siblings saying that they would be passing through Seattle that evening and asking if they could drop by for a visit. Naturally, Max said "yes". Manticore was history and Terminal City was no longer under siege so she got to see her family a lot more often now, but it still seemed like it was never enough. After all, they had 10 years of lost time to make up for.

"Hey Max honey, have we got anything to eat? All this cleaning is making me hungry." Alec yelled from the bedroom.

Max opened the fridge and stuck her head in. "Nope. We eat in the mess hall so often, I forgot to go to the market. Guess we'll have to order pizzas again."

Alec wandered out and flopped down on the sofa. "Pizza's fine by me, but I feel sorry for the delivery guy. The last time we ordered in he nearly had a heart attack trying to lug all the food up the stairs, not to mention being met by Joshua at the door."

Max laughed as she remembered the look on the poor guy's face. "Maybe we should just pick it up ourselves this time. With everyone coming I figure we're going to need at least 20 pizzas, plus breadsticks, hot wings, drinks…"

"Yum! I'm getting hungrier by the minute. So exactly how many of your family members are coming? You never told me."

Max ran down the list, counting on her finger as she went. "Well, Syl and Krit are the ones I talked to, but they said Brin and Zane were with them. Zack and Jondy are supposed to meet here too, so there will be 8 of us all total. Yeah, 20 pizzas ought to do it."

Alec jumped up from the sofa and grabbed his leather jacket and keys. "Yay, Jondy's coming! You know, of all your siblings, she's always been my favorite."

Max grinned. "That's just because she always makes her famous extra-strong margaritas."

Alec sputtered indignantly, "It is not!" Max raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at him. Alec stared at the floor, "Ok maybe it is, but there are other reasons I like her too. Speaking of which, I'd better stop at the liquor store and pick up a couple bottles of tequila and some ice."

"Better get a couple cases of beer too. You know Zack isn't a big fan of tequila." Max grabbed a pen and notepad and started making a list.

"Beer, tequila, ice, sodas, hot wings, breadsticks, and pizza. Got it. You go call it in and tell them I'll be by to pick it up in a half hour or so. When's everyone supposed to arrive?" A knock at the door answered Alec's question.

It was Syl and Brin. "Hello ladies, welcome to our humble abode. Where are your men?" Alec said as he ushered them in.

The girls gave him a quick hug. "Hey Alec! Good to see ya'! The boys are downstairs drooling all over your new motorcycles."

Alec grinned. He and Max had bought matching bikes for their anniversary a few months ago and he was always eager to show them off. "Cool! I'll run down and say 'Hi!' Maybe I can con them into helping carry the food." He closed the door behind him and the visitors promptly pounced on Max, smothering her in a big group hug.

When they were finished, Max called in the food order and they all went in to the living room to finish setting things up. Brin and Syl set up a couple of small card tables and chairs, while Max ransacked the hall closet looking for the decks of cards and other games.

"So Baby Sister, how's life in Terminal City?" Syl asked.

"Pretty good, actually. I think people are finally getting used to the idea of transgenics living among them. We've only had two small incidents in the last 6 months or so, mainly people from out of state trying to stir up trouble. The MPs took them down pretty quick and turned them over to the Seattle PD for processing. Commerce is really starting to pick up now too. A lot of businesses around town have started hiring transgenics because of our special skills, not just messenger services like JamPony, but all kinds of places: hospitals, computer companies, pharmaceutical companies, private investigators, city utility offices. We've even had a few transgenics hired by the police department. Things are really starting to look up. Gem opened a school for all the neighborhood kids, transgenic and ordinary. She's such a great teacher! Even Joshua's got his own place now. He has an art studio and gives painting classes." Max finished laying out the cards and the girls sat down on the sofa to finish their chat.

"That's great! I never thought we'd see the day when we could all just live like normal people."

"Yeah. Now if we could just get Zack to let us be normal, life would be all good." Brin said with a small smile.

"Ha! Good luck! Zack's not just the CO; he's our big brother, always was and always will be." Max laughed.

"Oh I don't know about that. He seems to have lightened up a lot since he and Jondy got together. I think she's a good influence on him, or maybe it's that she's a bad influence but that's ok too." Syl grinned and winked at them both.

"It's true, Maxie. Zack's lightened up a lot. You'll never believe how he reacted when Zane told him I'm pregnant. He actually hugged us and said 'Congratulations!' Then of course, he warned us to be extra careful and threatened Zane's life if anything happened to me or the baby."

"What!" "You're pregnant!" "Oh my gosh!" "Congratulations!" Max and Syl both started talking at once, then Max stopped. "Hold on a minute, Zack actually said 'Congratulations'? Our Zack? The same Zack that used to lecture me 'Emotions make you weak, Maxie. We're soldiers, we can't afford to be weak.'"?

"So I was wrong, sue me." The girls turned around to find Zack and Jondy walking through the front door.

Syl and Brin each gave Jondy a hug. "Did I just hear what I think I heard? Zack admitting he was wrong? Watch out everyone, the world is coming to an end." Jondy smiled at her boyfriend and gave me a peck on the cheek.

Max walked over to Zack and poked him a couple of times. "Who are you and what have you done with my brother?" She asked teasingly.

Zack smiled down at her and pulled her into a big bear hug. "I'll always be your big brother, Maxie, but times change. We're not soldiers anymore; it's time for us to get on with our lives. "

"I'll drink to that." Alec, Zane, and Krit came through the door loaded down with food and drinks. Max and the others all grabbed something out of their arms and helped carry it into the kitchen.

Jondy grinned when she saw the quantity of alcohol Alec had purchased. "Guess I should get started on those margaritas. We've got a lot to celebrate tonight. Wanna' help, Alec? I could use a taste tester."

Alec smiled, "I'm your man!" He went over to the sink to wash up while everyone else grabbed a plate and dug into the food. "So, other than getting on with our lives, what are we celebrating?"

Max answered him through a mouthful of food, "Zane and Brin are expecting a baby."

"Wow! That's great. Congrats, guys!" Alec reached over and slapped Zane on the back before handing him a beer. "Brin, no alcohol for you tonight, but can I get you a coke or something? This calls for a toast."

"A coke would be great, thanks!" Alec passed one over to her and then looked around at their little group. He may not have been an '09er, but at times like this Alec really felt like part of the family. Speaking of which… "I'd like to propose a toast. 'To Zane and Brin, may you both be very happy and have a large litter of little x-series tugging at your combat boots.'" Alec was too far away for Max to smack, so Jondy did it for him. "Ow! Ok, ok, I'm sorry. I'll try to be serious." Alec raised his beer again and said. "To Life and Family, everyone!"

"Life and Family" they echoed.

Max looked around at her siblings: Krit had his arm around Syl's waist, Zane had his hand on Brin's belly and they were stealing a quick kiss, and Zack was standing in the kitchen with his hands on Jondy's shoulders. "How is it that all of you ended up with each other?" Max asked. "We grew up thinking of each other as family, when did that change? And am I the only one who thinks that's kind of weird.?"

The others looked around at each other and shrugged. Jondy answered. "I think maybe it's because after the escape we didn't really get to see each other all that much, at least not until we were all grown up. Deep down we always knew we weren't really blood related, except for you and Krit of course. I guess for some of us, that feeling of closeness we all had just kind of blossomed into a deeper kind of closeness." The rest of the group nodded in agreement.

"Guess we're just the odd couple out, Max." Alec said.

"Oh, I don't know about that," Krit said mischieviously. "After all Maxie, you are sleeping with your brother's twin."

"Ew!" Max and Alec yelled simultaneously. "When you put it like that…" "Yeah, sorry babe, I can never sleep with you again." Alec threw a dish towel at Krit "Thanks a lot, man. You've just ruined my sex life."

The rest of the group laughed at them and headed into the living room to sit down. Max and Alec followed, but they kept a safe distance between them. Until they sat down that is, then Alec gave up the charade and pulled Max down into his lap. "So what do ya'll want to play tonight?"

"I was thinking about poker." Jondy said as she grabbed the cards and began to shuffle.

All four of the boys sat up straight. "Strip poker?" they asked eagerly and in unison.

The girls groaned. "Absolutely not." Brin responded emphatically, "Not in my condition."

Zane looked over at her with puppy dog eyes. "But baby, you're condition just makes you that much more beautiful."

Brin laughed at his effort to turn on the charm. "Aw honey, that's so sweet, but it's not going to work this time. Remember that answer though, it might come in handy over the next few months."

Jondy finished dealing then got up and walked over to where she'd tossed her duffle bag. "Actually, I was thinking it would be more fun if we could play Poker – X5 style." With that she whipped out a hand grenade and set it on the table. "Anyone else want in?" she asked.

Max watched in amazement as the rest of her family stood up and grabbed their bags too. Within a couple of minutes, the table was covered with hand grenades and the game had begun. "Max, Alec, are ya'll in or not?" Brin asked.

Alec walked into their bedroom and came out with a large box of weapons and ammunition. He added two hand grenades and a clip of ammunition to the pile and asked Jondy for three new cards.

Max just stared at the table and shook her head, "So much for a normal life."

Alec put an arm around her and kissed her cheek. "True, but would you really want it any other way?"

Max looked around the room again as she thought about Alec's question. Here she was, surrounded by her family and the man she loved, the transgenics were finally free and living like real citizens of Seattle, Manticore and the Familiars were gone, and life was good. Max smiled and glanced down at the cards in her hand. Would she change anything? "Absolutely not!"

THE END