Alec uncovers the truth behind Max's Secret Gift.

Title: Deceptions - sequel to The Secret Gift
Author: jracklesfan77
Rating: R
Pairing: M/A
Genre: Angst/Romance
Type: Don't be discouraged. WIP, but not a long one.
Setting: About a year after LAtR without the insanity of FN. It's my AU, deal with it.

Summary: Sequel to The Secret Gift. After Max's dreams crumbled, she pushed Alec away so that he could have the one thing he always wanted - a family. But she never told him why. When deceptions that neither transgenic was aware of are unearthed, how will things play out?

A/N1: A huge shout out of thanks to izabelevans for allowing me the use of the character 'Axel' from her stories 'Everyone's Got Secrets' and 'No More Secrets'.

A/N2: Just a quick note: This story is dedicated to all my loyal fans who have begged, pleaded, niggled, nudged, cajoled and annoyed me into writing a follow-up to the first story. It took a while, but the idea stewed in my mind until I couldn't let it simmer without burning. Hope it 'tastes' alright! Thank you guys for your support. I LOVE YOU!

Disclaimer: Dark Angel and all related elements belong to Cameron Eglee Productions and FOX. No copyright infringement intended. Only original characters and ideas are mine. All use of Dark Angel themes, etc., is purely for entertainment purposes and I am in no way receiving benefit of any kind (aside from the satisfaction of writing things as I see fit!)

Chapter One

Axel strolled down the street, eyes sparkling brightly and whistling a happy tune. One hand held bags of supplies Joshua had requested from the market, the other kept wandering down to pat his right pocket. It was there; the hard, square plastic box wherein nestled the reason for his excitement. Tonight was the night. He'd prepared himself for weeks, finally having gotten over his fear of rejection, knowing deep down that the object of his affections returned his feelings. Last night she had proven that many times over. Tonight he was going to pop the question.

He was lost in pleasant thoughts, his mind drifting his girlfriend. Imagining Mena, squealing in delight as he slipped the ring on her finger, her pushing him back down on the couch, the promise of a night of passion unlike any other... So engrossed was he, that he failed to notice the two men in front of him until he collided with one of them. Looking up quickly, he smiled apologetically.

"My bad, man. I wasn't looking where I was going." The two thugs glared at him and he shuffled uneasily from one foot to the other, the smile on his face faltering slightly.

"Uh, guys? No harm, no foul, right?" They refused to budge and their faces pinched and creased with every moment that passed. Axel didn't want to fight. Instead, he turned on his heel and prepared to walk away only to be met by a further three men, well built and holding bats and heavy scrap metal. He took a deep breath and raised his hands in surrender.

"Maybe you've mistaken me for someone. I've never seen you before. I ain't got no beef with you."

A gruff voice from his right startled the edgy transgenic. "But we got beef with you, tranny scum," he snarled, lurching forward, tapping his bat against the palm of his beefy hand. Axel swallowed, hard. Sliding his hand further into his pocket, he quickly entered Alec's phone number and hit 'send', desperately hoping his friend would answer and that the call wouldn't be diverted to his voice mail.

"Hands where we can see them, filth!" another voice thundered from his right.

Shit, I'm surrounded. Axel knew he could handle himself in a fight, but not with these odds. He was unarmed and the men closing in on him from all sides carried weapons that could cause more than a little damage. Goddamn it, Alec! Tell me you're hearing this!

"Really, I think you mixed me up with someone else. I'm not lookin' for trouble." Axel turned to face the man he'd first run into.

Standing at six foot and a fair amount of change, with the physique of a weight lifter and the body art of a biker, the mammoth man stepped forward, brandishing a jagged knife and tossing it from hand to hand. "Maybe you're not, but we are." Nodding to his partners in crime, he signaled them to advance.

Axel tossed his bags at one of the thickset bullies, temporarily distracting him. Axel then made a run for it, blurring past him and out of the circle of threat. But his relief was short-lived when he noted that more than a few spectators had taken up clubs, shards of glass, broken bottles and other sharp objects. A chant rose from the mob.

"Kill the tranny! Kill the scum!"

Trapped, Axel spun wildly, thoughts running a mile a minute, his heart thumping painfully in his chest, pulse skyrocketing. He felt the trickle of sweat as beads made trails down his forehead and into his eyes, stinging him as he blinked to clear his vision and seek a miracle exit from this nightmare. His hands were clammy, his t-shirt now stuck to his back and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Hold it together, soldier. Alec's got your back. He always does.

But the fact of the matter was, he knew he was screwed. Even if Alec did figure it out, by the time they sent a rescue team he'd be as good as dead. Axel closed his eyes to blink back the tears that burned like acid. Is this what Biggs felt before they beat him to death? Taking in a shaky breath, his heart ached for his friends; for Biggs who suffered what could only have been the most frightening experience of his short life, and for Alec, who'd had to witness the resulting carnage and loss of his best friend and Second in Command. I'm sorry Alec. I swore I'd never let anyone hurt you again. Who'da thought I'd be the one inflicting the pain?

Seconds where he stood in wait of the impending and inevitable attack only served to increase his sense of helplessness. After all the years of torture at the hands of Manticore, of missions where he'd returned more dead than alive, Axel had never felt so powerless. I've never been weak, he fumed inwardly. I'm a soldier. If I have to die today, I'm gonna go down fighting.

Axel struck out at the man closest to him, his fist connecting with the brute's nose, bone crunching loudly on contact. A feral smile curved his lips. One for the home team. His kicks were wild, and at the same time, calculated and precise. He closed off his mind to block out the pain as best he could, for with each crack of his fist or snap of his leg, his attackers got their blows in too. His chest was heaving with strained breath, thanks to a double stab wound to his stomach. He was favoring his left leg after receiving a thorough pummeling to his right courtesy of a metal baseball bat. Axel grit his teeth and fought on.

But his strength was failing him, repeated blows to the head caused his vision to blur and the ringing in his ears rose to a deafening crescendo. It took everything he had to keep fending off his assailants, but the angry mob was getting the better of him. He was, after all, one man. Transgenic or not, he couldn't fight them all.

From the corner of his eye he saw a flash of metal swinging toward his temple. I should have told you before. Mena, I love you. I'll always lo-


Max paced the small room with furious and uneven steps. She was feverish and aching. It had been three days and she was nearing the end of her self-imposed lock-down. She hated having to isolate herself, but it was a necessary evil. It all came down to her despised heat cycle. Her inability to act on her urges was frustrating, but she knew that giving in wasn't an option.

Max would never admit it, but sharing her heat with Logan was something she couldn't bring herself to do. The explanation she gave him was true but it wasn't the main reason. She'd told Logan that there was a great possibility that in her animalistic state she might hurt his already weakened body. He'd argued with her, that she'd been with other Ordinaries while in heat and that they'd come out of it fine. But she'd countered, pretending to worry that she would put too much pressure on his damaged spine, and where would that leave them then? That the men she'd been with in the past were fully functional and healthy males. Max knew she'd hurt him, but it was the only way to make him accept her decision.

The real reason, though, was far more personal. Heat was a side effect of her feline DNA, something all X5 females suffered from. It was an intense, emotional and physical act; it's purpose not to pleasure but to procreate. It was the joining of two people who, in many cases, were bound to each other for life and were trying to create life between them.

Despite Max and Logan's current living status, she found that she couldn't tolerate his attentions when in heat the way she could in normal situations. No matter how great the physical need for sexual gratification, her body rebelled against the thought of sharing this time with anyone other than her chosen mate, Alec. And the heart-wrenching knowledge that she couldn't be with him made the thought of sharing her heat with someone else unbearable.

And so she found herself in an isolation room in Terminal City, sweating it out.

Dropping down to the floor to start another set of push ups, her mind wandered. Memories of a handsome, blonde transgenic male bombarded her as they were wont to do. During her heat the images replayed were sharper, more detailed. And more...undressed.

Walking into his apartment late at night to ask for help in finding the Gossamer that was terrorizing Seattle.

Watching as he exited the steam-filled bathroom clad in a small, blue towel that left little to the imagination.

The golden skin of his beautifully sculpted chest still dripping wet from his shower.

The droplet that trickled down past his nipple, barely bypassing his navel and disappearing...

Max shook her head, trying to drive away the erotic images that plagued her. What use was there in dwelling on the could have beens, the should have beens, the if onlys? Biting back a sob, she thought back to those first few weeks after she'd pushed Alec away for good.

To others it seemed that her on-again, off-again relationship with Logan was once again in play. Max had spent the ensuing weeks after her vehement outburst on the Needle avoiding Alec. They hadn't spoken more than two words at any given time and their interaction had pretty much died out. So she'd pretended things were back to normal; she was back brooding over her non-relationship with the older man and supposedly pining for his touch. It got the job done. No one questioned the downhill spiral her friendship with Alec had taken; everyone assumed they'd fought - again. The rumors going around only cemented the lies. Some said she'd hit Alec one time too many and he'd finally told her where she could go. Others said that they'd slept together and that she'd found herself to be just another in a long line of conquests. So she'd let idle tongues wag and swallowed her pain, never letting on to anyone just how their hurtful words affected her.

Not long after receiving the devastating news that brought her dreams crashing down, Logan had found the cure to the virus. She'd never seen him so happy. And when he'd looked at her with eyes full of hope and longing, she'd forced a smile and faked excitement. The truth was, she no longer cared either way. It wasn't Logan she wanted. The man she ached to be with, dreamt about, she'd had to push away. For his own good. Knowing she could never give him what his heart longed for meant she had to deny her feelings. She knew she was selfish at times, but loving Alec had opened her eyes, made her really see things, understand things. She couldn't put him in a position where he had to choose between her and his greatest, long-standing desire.

Max thought she'd have built up a resistance to it by now, that by having loved Logan for almost a year without being able to touch him she should have been immune to the pain. Especially now, having survived over a year of separation from Alec. But she wasn't; not by a long shot.

Max was jolted from her reverie by the jangling of her cell phone. Snapping to her feet, she crossed the room and retrieved her phone from the pocket of her leather jacket. Staring at the caller I.D. display, she froze.


Max raised a shaky hand to her forehead and wiped the sweat from her face. She tucked her hair behind her ear and flipped her phone open.

"Go for Max."

"Max, It's Alec. We have an emergency near South Market. Axel's surrounded by a crazed mob and needs back-up, fast." His voice was strained and fraught with worry. Axel was one of Alec's best friends, more so since Biggs had been killed the previous year. He was the closest thing Alec had to a brother.

The situation must have brought many a bad memory to mind for Alec. Biggs had been killed - lynched - by a mob of transgenic-hating Ordinaries and the current situation with Axel was hitting very close to home.

Max squeezed her eyes shut tightly. The one time Alec needed her she couldn't be there for him. He'd always had her back, yet now she was unable to return the favor. She felt sick.

"Alec, I can't," she finally let out.

"Logan keeping you busy with Eyes Only bullshit again?" he snapped curtly.

She hurried to explain herself. "You know I'd be there in a heartbeat if I could, but I can't." She paused and took a deep breath. Her voice lowered considerably as she added softly, "I'm in heat, Alec."

Max caught the faint gasp, followed by shallow breathing before it was quickly muffled. She hadn't been meant to hear it, of that she was certain. Max closed her eyes and sighed. She had wondered over time if he still loved her as he'd told her all that time ago. Was it wishful thinking? Hoping that what she'd heard was an indication that he did? Not that it mattered. She'd made her choice and let him go. And now he belonged to someone else.

"Let me know as soon as he's safe," she said quietly. "I'm sorry," she added lamely at the silence that followed.

Alec cleared his throat. "I will, and I know. Catch ya later, Max."

Max stared at the phone in her hand, a sad smile gracing her lips. He never calls me Maxie anymore.

- TBC -