"Alec?" Max pounded on his door, then pressed her ear against it. The apartment remained deadly silent, not even the sound of a television could be heard. She frowned, concerned. Could the seizures already have grown so bad as to render him unconscious? She hadn't thought him that far progressed yet, and the pills and chocolate should have taken the edge off until she could get him the tryptophan.
She still couldn't believe he hadn't known. Then again, Manticore had always been strictly 'need to know'; as long as they'd had their soldiers in their grip and could provide them with serotonin supplements on a regular basis, telling the X5s about their genetic defect hadn't been necessary.
She blamed herself, really. She should have remembered it, realized Alec might have no clue of the pitfall that came with his extra strength and speed. But she had dealt with it on her own for so long, it never crossed her mind that the Manticore escapees might not even be aware they had a condition. Alec's penchant for peanut-filled snacks and chocolate, both practical sources for tryptophan although milk was better, must have kept his serotonin levels within acceptable parameters even as the effect of Manticore's highly efficient supplements wore off. Until now.
She got out her tools and quickly set to work. The lock on Alec's apartment really was barely worth the name; within seconds the door clicked open and she stepped inside. It was dark, cold, with the sparse illumination flooding in from a miraculously unbroken streetlamp revealing it was also very, very deserted.
Alec was not there.
Dammit. Had it really been too much to ask that for once he'd do what she told him?
She rushed outside, in search of a pay phone. She had to find him soon; Alec didn't know he was bargaining with his life. She found a booth a few blocks over and quickly dialed his cell. It rang. And rang—and rang. She pressed down the receiver and thought for a moment. Making up her mind, she punched in Logan's number.
He answered on the third ring, and she couldn't help but sigh with relief when she heard his voice.
"Hey. It's me."
"Max." He sounded a bit surprised. "What's up?"
"I need your help. Alec's missing."
Logan gave a dry laugh. "And that's worrisome how? He's probably got some scheme going he doesn't want you to know about. Max, Alec can take care of himself."
"Not today, he can't," she said. "I saw him this morning. His serotonin levels are dropping. I was going to get him some trypto. Logan, he doesn't even know what's happening to him."
"Oh." There was a brief pause. "That's bad."
"Yeah. I tried his cell, but he's not answering. Can you—"
"—trace it? Yes. Hang on."
Dimly, she heard the click-clack of computer keys coming over the line. She pressed deeper into the booth, attempting to avoid the rain. A few minutes later, Logan came back.
"Sector nine. Elliot Avenue, near pier sixty-nine."
"Thanks, Logan. I owe you one."
"Don't mention it. Just find Alec, before anyone else does."
She hung up and ran back to her bike. A moment later, she roared down the slick, gleaming streets.
Pier sixty-nine wasn't far from Alec's place, but it was one sector over. A rookie cop manned the check-point, enjoying his newly acquired authority to the fullest and taking his own sweet little time to double check her Jam Pony pass. Max bit the inside of her cheek to keep her grievances to herself. Complaints would gain her nothing, except perhaps a disgruntled sector cop who might delay her even more just to spite her. And if her suspicions were right, Alec did not have time to waste. Those two pills wouldn't have lasted him this long. Not in his condition.
The docks were dark and deserted except for a couple of all-night nude bars, where light spilled through cracks, and the occasional burst of laughter or shouts drifted out. She slowed the bike to a crawl. Alec should be here somewhere and she hoped it wasn't in one of those bars. She might have a difficult time getting to him if he was. She stopped, cut the engine and concentrated on her senses. She tried to shut out the muted laughter, the lapping of waves against the quay walls, the distant barking of a stray dog.
It was the soft but unmistakable sound of slow, labored breathing she'd heard. And it came from an alley just off of Elliot. She parked the bike, grabbed her backpack and hurried down the dim street. With her night vision it wasn't difficult to detect the slumped form behind the dumpster, half hidden beneath a soggy cardboard box.
She knelt at his side, grimacing when her hand brushed against something soft and slimy, and tore the carton away. Alec was unconscious, his body seizing with tremors that grew in strength before they faded to mere shivers and the process started all over again.
"You big idiot." There was no fire in her voice and she cradled him in her arms. He was so cold. "Don't you dare die on me now."
With one hand, the other snuggling Alec close so he could benefit from her body heat, she searched her pack until she found the plastic bottle of water. She dug around some more and pulled out a small bottle of brown glass, filled with white pills. For a moment she was at a loss. How was she going to get those in him? He was out cold and couldn't very well chew and swallow them.
She leaned back against the wall, hoisting Alec up until he lay against her and she no longer needed to hold on to him. She shook a couple of pills into her palm. Using the bottle for leverage, she ground them against her gloved hand. It wasn't easy; the pills threatened to slip away from her grip, and perspiration beaded her forehead. Yet, after a few minutes of concentrated effort, she managed to break the pills up in smaller pieces. These, she dropped into the water bottle. She swirled the liquid around, holding it up against the meager light. Even with the pills broken into crumbs, it took longer than she liked but finally the tryptophan dissolved in the liquid. She brought the bottle to Alec's mouth.
"C'mon, Alec, drink up. Show me some of that X5 toughness. You can fight this. Now, drink!" He remained limp in her arms, eyes closed, dark blond hair plastered against his face, looking very fragile. Tears of frustration burned in her eyes.
"Damn you, Alec! I swear, if you die, I'll kick your ass so hard you won't know what hit you. Drink." Desperate, she wrenched his jaw open and cautiously poured some liquid into his mouth. Much to her relief, his natural reflexes were still working, and he swallowed instinctively. She repeated the process, again and again, until the bottle was empty.
Okay, she'd finished step one. Now, she had to get him out of the cold and the rain to where it was warm and he could rest. Once he woke up, she'd get the rest of the pills in him. And then rag on him for not doing as she'd said, the dork.
But how was she going to get him to safety? He was still comatose, and likely would be out for a few more hours before the tryptophan she'd managed to get into him could be processed. She couldn't put him on the bike, and his apartment, though closest, was too far away for her to carry him. She looked around in despair. Perhaps she could get him into one of the warehouses somewhere. At least, it'd be dry.
The sound of an approaching car caught her ear. She tensed, waiting and listening while the car stopped beside her bike at the mouth of the alley and a door opened. "Max?"
Thank God. "Logan! Here!" The whir of the exoskeleton seemed loud in the narrow alley.
"Figured you might need some help getting him home." He smiled.
Grateful, she smiled back. "You figured right. Move back, I'll get him to the car." She staggered beneath the dead weight over her shoulder—even an X5 had her limits—while she carried Alec to Logan's car. She dumped him into the backseat and crawled in beside him.
Logan climbed back behind the wheel and put the car into drive."How is he?" he asked over his shoulder.
"He'll live," Max said. "No doubt so that he can make my life miserable one more day."
Alec woke up in his own bed, his head throbbing worse than it ever had, even after several bottles of good Scotch. He shifted, surprised at the stiffness in his limbs. It was as if he'd gone several rounds against his Krav Maga teacher—and got his ass beaten each time.
"Look who's decided to wake up?" Though the words might be scathing, they were said in a suspiciously mild tone. Alec turned his head into her direction, peering blearily at her face. What was she doing in his bedroom? What had he missed?
"Max?" Grinning, he added with a snicker, "why are you sitting all the way over there? Don't you wanna join me, over here?" He patted the bed beside him.
She snorted. "In your dreams, pretty boy." Her brow drew down, her expression growing serious, and she got up anyway. She handed him a couple more pills from a small bottle, and a glass of water. "Take these."
Obediently, he swallowed. Breakfast in bed. From Max. He could get used to this.
"How're you feeling?" she asked once he gave her the glass back.
He let himself fall against the pillow. "Like three day old road kill."
She nodded and returned to the chair. "Makes sense. You suffered a pretty bad spell. I never realized..." Her voice trailed off.
Alec pushed himself into a sitting position. "What the hell happened, Max?"
She shrugged. "Manticore. What else. They apparently neglected to tell you that that perfect body of yours comes with a serious defect. A flaw in our brain chemistry that results in a serotonin deficiency. The tryptophan helps."
"Huh." Alec considered for a moment. Then, with a typical Alec-grin he asked, "Perfect body?" He wiggled his eyebrows at her. "I can't help but notice my jeans are off. You haven't been sneaking a peek, have you, Maxie?"
Annoyance flared up in her face, and she flung the pill bottle at him. He only missed being hit because his lightning quick reflexes made him duck just in time. It landed with a dull thud against the pillow.
"The next time you get yourself in a jam," Max snarled, towering over his bed like an avenging fury, "you can save your own hide. I'm done with you." She stormed from the room and he winced in anticipation of the apartment door being slammed shut behind her.
"Max? Thanks for saving my ass!" he called.
She didn't reply. But the door closed with a soft click. Alec smiled.
Disclaimer: this story is based on the Cameron/Eglee Productions/20th Century Fox Television series Dark Angel. All characters belong to their original creators. The story was written for entertainment only and no copyright infringement was intended.