Disclaimer: Dark Angel and its characters do not belong to me, but the plot is mine. This fan-fiction had been written purely for entertainment purposes. No infringement was intended and no profit had been made out of this.
A/N:- Thank you for your reviews on the last chapter. Okay…I know you all are probably cursing at me for taking so long with this. I was having problems concentrating on this story, but I finally managed to squeeze something out. This is the final chapter of Irresistible Rivals. I hope that you will enjoy it!
Irresistible Rivals - Chapter 21
"Hey, man…" he started nervously.
Seth stared at him unblinkingly.
Alec kept his eyes pinned on the knife, but he felt Max shifting awake next to him. His entire body was coiled as tight as a spring. This was not exactly what he had hoped to wake up to. He had been anticipating teasing Max, and maybe persuading her into admitting that she felt something for him.
"What do you think you're doing?" Seth hissed, pressing the knife closer against Alec's neck.
"Uh…It's not what you think," Alec quickly said, and then wondered why he bothered justifying himself to someone who had no business butting into his sleeping habits. Even if his sleeping habit involved an ex-girlfriend.
"So what is it, soldier?" Seth barked.
Awake at last, Max sat up. A quick glance out of the corner of his eyes told Alec that she was just as stunned as he was. "What are you doing, Seth? Drop the gun!" she snapped.
Seth's gaze landed on Max. "Slept well, Max?"
"Seth…" her voice came out as a warning. "You're overreacting."
Seth shrugged, but much to Alec's chagrin, he did not lower the gun. "Maybe."
Max bristled. "What do you mean, maybe? You're holding a gun, Seth!"
Alec watched as the corner of Seth's lips twitched before he lowered the gun. Standing there with the gun propped over one shoulder, Seth just smirked at them.
Alec's eyes widened in open disbelief, and then they instantly narrowed in comprehension. Seth played them. A growl of irritation threatened to escape his lips. For a moment, he considered beating Seth to an inch of his life, but decided that that was definitely not the way to gain Max's trust.
He settled for a glaring at Seth coldly instead.
Seth raised an eyebrow. "You have something to say, Alec?"
"That's not funny, Seth," Max interjected grumpily.
Seth raised an eyebrow. "Oh? My mistake then."
Alec gaped at him. Was this the same Seth or was this the nice alter-ego? A quick glance out of the corner of his eyes told him that Max seemed to be thinking the same thing as well.
The look on her face was nothing short of suspicious. "Seth, are you…um… okay?" she asked carefully.
Seth shrugged, and then stood up. Without answering her question, he said, "I came to tell you that we're all set."
Alec frowned. All set? For what?
He saw Max giving Seth a questioning look before she said, "Hang on. I'll walk you out."
Then she tossed a stern look in his direction. "Don't go anywhere."
Widening his eyes innocently, Alec retorted, "Who, me? Where would I go?"
Max rolled her eyes and followed Seth out.
After the door had shut behind the two, Alec waited for a few seconds before he bounced to his feet. Pressing his ear against the door, he detected no sounds of footsteps. Smirking, he opened the door and sneaked out soundlessly.
A silent Seth led her along the dimly lit corridor until they reached a room. Once there, he gestured for her to enter, pushing the door shut behind them.
Max sneaked a peek at Seth out of the corner of her eyes. Seth seemed different, almost relaxed, in fact. It was strange to see him this way after so long. He reminded her of how he had been years ago when they were still teenagers.
The talk must have done him good, Max mused. He no longer has to carry the burden of the secret on his own shoulders. Now, the rest could help. Somehow. She frowned. But how?
She saw the corner of his lips tilt, as if he was thinking of something particularly amusing.
"What?" she asked curiously.
He broke out into a rare grin, making her melt, reminding her of why she had found him attractive in the first place. A part of her mourned that what they had was over, but she had to admit that her attention was now somewhere else.
"Alec's face," Seth said in reply to her question. "It was priceless." Then he laughed.
Max's lips twitched. "That was just mean, Seth."
"Well, he DID steal my girl." Although he sounded a little indignant, she did not detect any real anger or malice in his voice.
"It's not like that, Seth," she muttered uncomfortably.
"Oh? You seem comfortable enough all snuggled in his arms," he pointed out, and this time, she could hear a slight tinge of resentment in his tone.
Feeling a little guilty, she averted her gaze. It had seemed so right last night. She did not remember feeling so safe, and so warm. Alec was gentle and understanding, something which she did not expect, but nevertheless, welcomed.
They did not have a chance to react to the sudden development of their odd relationship before Seth appeared. Now that she had thought about it, she just could imagine the teasing she was going to be subjected to. Especially from Alec. No doubt the cocky transgenic would never let her forget that she had fallen asleep on her watch.
Not that he seemed to mind when it had happened. His arms were curled tightly around her like he did not want to let go. A small smile crossed her lips. Almost possessive, in fact.
Yes, she was comfortable enough snuggled in Alec's arms. But she guessed Seth could not help but feel slightly rejected, considering that they relationship had only dissolved recently.
Max rolled her eyes. Men. "So what is happening? We're moving out?" she asked, changing the subject.
Seth nodded. "Mack is dealing with the logistics at the moment. Most of the stuffs are on the way to Terminal City. Some of the Ordinaries are cleaning up, basically trying to erase our presence."
"What about Alec?" she ventured cautiously. Were they planning to continue with their original plan of abandoning him somewhere? But considering the latest developments, she was not sure if she would agree to the plan. And she wondered how the rest would take it when she told them so.
Her eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
"We've been talking about it. And we don't think it's a good idea to just dump him somewhere, however far it is from here. Especially not when Manticore is after him."
Max closed her eyes in relief at his words. "Manticore's always going to be after him, however far he runs."
The corner of Seth's lips lifted. "Zack thinks he should join us."
Max's eyebrows shot up. "Really?"
Seth nodded. "Lydecker also thinks it's a good idea."
Maybe Lydecker could help. After all, he was the one with all the Manticore contacts, Max thought. "But we need to find a way to make sure Manticore doesn't find out where he is, otherwise, all of us will be exposed."
"Jack already worked something out."
"What is it?" she asked curiously.
"He'll tell you when you bring Alec along to the Command Centre after this."
Max hesitated for a second, and then nodded. "I'll go back to get him."
"I don't think that's necessary," Seth said meaningfully.
Confused, she just stared at him.
Nudging towards the door, Seth said, "Alec's right behind that door."
As if on cue, the door swung open, revealing a smirking Alec.
Max stared incredulously as he strolled up to them like he had every right to be there. Like he had every right to be eavesdropping on their conversation, because she knew that that was exactly what he had been doing.
"Spying, Alec?" she asked dryly.
Alec raised a brow. "Hey, what you're discussing affects my wellbeing. Can you blame me for being interested?"
"What made you think we're talking about you?"
"Because you can't keep me out of your mind for long," he replied, deadpanned.
She reddened. "Why, you…"
He grinned, draping a casual arm around her shoulders. "Aw, come on, Max. After last night, you don't need to be shy around me."
She glowered at him. And then she turned her attention to an amused Seth. "What's so funny?"
Seth sobered up. "Nothing."
Alec brightened. "So, I guess I don't need to stay in that room anymore, huh?"
Seth gestured at Alec. "You need to get him to the Command Centre."
"We're running out of time," Seth said as he began to walk away.
"Where are you going, Seth?" she asked. Surely he was not going to just leave her there to deal with Alec.
"I need to go check on something."
Max expelled a resigned sigh. When Seth took that tone, she knew that he would not tell her anything no matter how much she prodded him. So, she just stood there, watching him leave.
To her surprise, Seth paused and then turned to look over his shoulders. "Max? When he drives you up the wall, you can take your complaint to Zack, because he's the one who gave the nod for Alec to join us."
After being confined for so long in the dimly lit room, Alec blinked against the glare of the bright sunlight as he took the first step out of the building. They were in a run down area, where most of the buildings seemed abandoned. There were a few stragglers around, but otherwise, they had the place to themselves.
Seth had taken off soon after he had joined them, and now, he was left trailing behind a silent Max who seemed to be bent on losing him. At least, that was the impression she gave, considering the speed at which she was walking ahead of him.
"Hey, Max!" he called out.
Her entire body went rigid, but she continued to walk without turning around.
After the comfortable time they had spent together the night before, her attitude baffled him. Rolling his eyes, he dashed forward and grabbed her by the arm. "What's the problem?"
She finally stopped and turned around. "Who said there's a problem?"
"You're running off. Like you're trying to get rid of me."
Right before his eyes, she seemed to relax. "What? Can't keep up, Alec? You're gonna have to do better than that if you're joining us," she taunted.
He looked at her suspiciously, wondering what had caused the sudden turnaround in her behaviour. "Um…Max?"
"A second ago, you were ignoring me. And now you're back to being yourself. What's going on?"
She quickly turned away, further cementing his suspicions. "It's your imagination," she muttered.
"Aww, come on, Max. You can tell me," he cajoled. "Surely after sleeping together, you trust me a little more than this."
She immediately swivelled around to face him. "We did not sleep together!"
Noticing her heightened colour, he grinned. "Funny. It sure felt like it to me. You stomach under my hands, your head on my chest, your little cute snores…"
He eyes flashed. "I do not snore."
He quirked an eyebrow. "Sorry, it must have been someone else then."
She glowered at him and began to walk away again.
Catching up, he slung an arm around her rigid shoulders, fully expecting to be told off. To his surprise, she did not push him away. Instead, she continued walking.
Alec grinned. With his charms, who could resist, anyway?
The second they entered the almost bare Command Centre, everyone halted what they were doing and looked up. Max glanced up sideways at Alec. He was returning their curious looks, but without any expression on his face.
She quickly nudged him, breaking the spell.
"Alec's joining us," she told them. "Say hi, Alec."
Rolling his eyes at her, Alec directed them into the room, his arm still clamped tightly around her shoulders. If she had not known better, she would have thought that he was nervous and therefore wanted her as an anchor.
"I guess you all already know who I am," he said casually.
"Your reputation precedes you," Zane said with a grin.
Then Max saw Zane's eyes travel from Alec's face to his arm around her shoulders, his eyebrows gradually rising.
"I have to say that I'm quite surprised at THAT, though," Zane added cheekily. "I'm surprised that your arm's still stuck to your body."
"Quit teasing them, Zane," Eva admonished as she sealed the last box in front of her. "And get these last boxes out.
Zane grumbled under his breath. "Is this how you treat a genetically enhanced supersoldier?"
Laden with boxes himself, Zack narrowed his eyes. "We're hardly soldiers anymore, Zane. Now, the boxes, if you don't' mind."
Eva stepped up to them, giving Alec an assessing look. "I need you to come with me."
Max felt the arm around he shoulders tighten. Alec's tone was even, but she could tell that he was a little wary of Eva's request. "What for?"
Eva levelled a pointed look at him. "If you want us to trust you, you're going to have to do the same for us."
Alec recoiled, looking a little embarrassed. Max grinned, knowing fully well how Eva could make someone feel small when she put her mind to it. Her gentle appearance could be deceiving.
However, Max was also curious about it. "Eva? What are you going to do to him?"
"We need to process him."
Max gaped. "Process him?" Since when did Unitech start processing anyone?
Alec rubbed the back of his neck, clearly discomfited. "Say, this is not like one of Manticore's Psy-Ops session, is it?"
Returning just in time to catch Alec's words, Zack snorted in disgust. "Of course not. We just need to collect life samples off you so that we can get you off Manticore's radar."
"WHAT? How?" Alec asked, surprised.
Zack smirked. "We have our own resources."
Max frowned. They must have just come up with something recently. After all, when she had left them to go to Alec, they were still nowhere close to solving the problem. "What's the plan, Zack?"
"It's really simple. Jack came up with it." Zack shot a questioning at Jack. "Jack?"
Jack walked up to them. "We need to process Alec so that we can get enough information to duplicate parts of him."
Stunned, Alec gaped. "Duplicate?" he echoed weakly.
Wearing an equally stunned look, Max tried to guess what Jack had planned but nothing came to her. "Is this something new from HQ?"
Jack nodded. "It's one of Deck's old ideas. We have done it on a smaller scale before, but now we're trying it on a bigger scale."
Comprehension dawned in her eyes. "You don't mean…"
"Yes. Synthesise part of a limb or two and his teeth. That's all we need. Infuse it with enough of his DNA and Alec's going to look like he's been in a car wreck," Jack explained.
"How long is this going to take?" Alec asked curiously.
"A day or two, I would guess."
"Any ideas on Manticore's movements?" Max asked. "Won't they be searching for Alec already?"
Zack replied, "Seth's looking into that as we speak."
Max frowned. "Hang on! If we can make Alec disappear, why can't we do the same for Seth?"
Zane snorted, his entire face displaying his disapproval. "That idiot wants to remain in there as a spy."
Max's eye widened. "What? Why?" Seth must realise how dangerous it was to do something like that. Granted, he was one of the best. But still, how long could he keep it up before he cracked?
Shaking his head slowly, Zack said, "I don't know, Max. You've got to ask him."
Max rolled her eyes. Yeah, sure.
Eva called out. "Come on, Alec. We're running out of time."
Max caught his glance, and for a moment, their eyes locked in silent understanding. He wanted her to be there when he got back. She gave him a reassuring nod. Then he left with Eva.
She turned around to face Zack. "Yeah?"
"Keep an eye on him and show him the ropes, will you? And before you protest, just remember that he's more likely to listen to you than the rest of us."
Max gaped. "But-"
Zane grinned. "We're not blind, Max. We can see that he has a thing for you."
Glowering at Zane, Max snapped, "Shut up!"
Unperturbed, Zane just waggled his brows.
Alec laid down on the couch with his arms linked behind his head. The television was on, drawing his attention like magnet. But his mind was far from the flickering images.
His introduction to the Unitech team had been interesting. He had been wrong when he thought only Max, Zane, Zack, Jack and Seth were transgenics. It turned out that there were quite a few more. Zack had finally explained to him that they used to be Unit 2 back in Wyoming. The details of how they had managed to get away, however, remained a mystery to Alec. He guessed that they did not trust him that much. Not just yet.
Not that he blamed them. It was good enough that he had been allowed to join them. Not to mention he even managed to secure living arrangement with a reluctant Max.
So this was where she really lived. Alec smirked as he thought of the empty apartment he had ransacked less than a week ago in his attempt to find her. He should have known better. This place, with its comfortable couch and the homey feeling, was more like Max than the other sterile apartment.
He could really get used to this, he thought as he blinked at the white ceiling. A comfortable couch, the air filled with a scent which was uniquely Max and a television right where he wanted it.
"Hey, get your feet off the couch!"
Or maybe not, he thought with a groan. Swinging his feet off, he sat up to find himself staring at Max's midsection. He deliberately let his eyes travel up slowly, pausing at the curve of her breast before he reached her face.
To his satisfaction, a faint blush was covering her cheeks.
But the indignant fire in her eyes was the thing which broke the proverbial camel's back. His arms snaked out and snagged her waist. Ignoring her surprised gasp, he pulled her down onto him.
A pair of shocked chocolate brown eyes locked onto his.
Grinning, he said, "You missed me, I see."
"Alec…" she warned. "Let me go."
She could easily escape if she had wanted to, Alec thought in amusement. But she was still in his arms.
"So, what were you thinking back when you were touching my face?" he asked in a teasing tone.
She visibly reddened. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"This," he said softly, trailing a finger across her forehead and down the side of her cheek, imitating what she had done to him a few days ago.
She sucked in a sharp breath, and her eyes glazed when she looked at him.
Alec felt his breath hitch in his throat. He was behaving like a lovesick puppy, but he could not help it. She had an odd effect on him. With a heartfelt groan, he snaked his hand behind her neck and pulled her close. His entire body thrummed with anticipation.
"You're not in heat this time," he whispered against her lips.
A strangled sound escaped her, but she did not pull away. Instead, she seemed just as entranced as he was. Gently, he brushed her lips with his. Her mouth opened in a soft gasp. Encouraged, he licked those lips and caught the lower one in his teeth.
"Alec…" she whispered. "What are we doing?"
He replied between nibbles, "What I wanted to do for a long time."
Then he kissed her fully, delving his tongue in her mouth. Vaguely, he felt her arms circling his neck, pulling him closer as she responded to his kisses. His body heated up, and he strained to maintain control.
Alec groaned deeply. The fingers caressing the sensitive nape of his neck were not helping either. He felt goosebumps explode all over his body. Grasping the base of her neck, he pulled her closer and deepened the kiss.
Caught up in the pleasant sensations, Alec almost missed the sound of a door being unlocked. When it finally registered, he let out a silent groan of defeat and loosened his hold.
Max shot up into a sitting position just as the door opened. Quickly, she scrambled away from Alec's lap. Unfortunately, in her hurry, she had managed to trip and tumbled down into a heap on the floor.
Groaning in irritation, she cracked open her eyes to see Zane's dusty boots right in front of her face. The idiot just had to come home at the most unfortunate times.
"Max?" Zane queried gingerly. "What are you doing on the floor?"
Before she could reply, Alec butted in, "Oh, she just didn't want you to see her sitting in my lap."
"ALEC!" She was going to kill him, however good his kisses might make her feel. Heck, she was going to kill BOTH of them, she thought murderously as she got to her feet.
Zane grinned. "I see." Turning to Max, he said, "The couch, Max? I didn't know you had it in you."
"Stop it, the two of you," Eva interjected firmly.
Max tossed her a grateful look, and then glared at the two smirking males.
"Has everything been moved out?" she asked tightly, trying to divert their attention to something else.
Eva nodded. "It's all done. Jack and the rest are setting up the new Command Centre in Terminal City as we speak."
"It's just as well," Zane remarked.
"Why?" Alec asked.
"Because this sector's the next on Manticore's checklist," Eva explained as she poured herself a glass of water from a jug. "We wouldn't be able to move so freely once they're here."
Alec stiffened visibly. "Where are they?" he asked tightly.
"About a day away. They are still sweeping the northern sectors," Zane tossed over his shoulders.
Worried, Max asked. "What if they turn up sooner?"
"Seth's on his way to intercept them."
Max gasped. "WHAT? He's going to blow his cover."
Zane shook his head. "No. He will intercept them, and point them in the wrong direction."
Alec groaned. "They're not going to buy it."
"They will when they find your charred remains in the wreckage of a car."
"If this doesn't work, they will begin to suspect Seth. I mean, what are the chances of him being in the same place as Alec?" Max asked worriedly.
"We sent a couple of Ordinaries to plant Alec's bits-" Zane began.
"Bits?" Alec interjected incredulously.
Zane tossed a smirk at Alec. "Yeah, your bits, pretty boy. Anyway, your bits will be planted the place where Seth is working undercover for Manticore. Apparently Manticore had warned all field personnel to look out for Alec, so it won't seem to strange when Seth reports in with a sighting."
Alec threw his arms up, looking uncharacteristically flustered. "How do you guys know all this?"
Zane smirked. "Because we have eyes and ears everywhere. And because we're the good guys."
Alec just glared at Zane.
Max shook her head in resignation. She could just see Alec and Zane locking horns in the future. And it was not going to be pretty.
"Come on. Let's get a bit of shut-eye before we continue," Eva called out tiredly to Zane.
"Ah, I get it. And leave these two lovebirds alone, right?" Zane teased. "Um…careful with the couch. The rest of us still want to use it."
"Zane…" Max warned through gritted teeth. She was going to kill him some day.
Holding his arms out in a gesture of surrender, Zane quickly left the living room.
They had done one last check on the old place before they finally headed for Terminal City. Each of them had turned back for a last glance at what was previously their Command Centre. In a way, Alec knew how they felt. After all, by joining them, he was also starting anew.
The excitement which had buzzed through Terminal City for the last half a day gradually died down as the transgenics congregated in their new Command Centre. They huddled close to the screen, watching the flickering satellite imagery. Thick, black smoke billowed up into the air, making it even harder for them to see what was going on.
"They're there," Alec said in a strained voice.
Max sneaked a glance at him, noting how tense he looked. She did not blame him for reacting this way. After all, he had just seen himself 'die'. The staged explosion had occurred about half an hour ago, and by now, most of 'Alec's remains should be charred beyond recognition, leaving just enough for Manticore to identify him.
Suddenly feeling the urge to comfort him, Max touched his wrist lightly.
To her surprise, he visibly relaxed. Before she could retract her hand, he threaded his fingers with hers and grasped her hand firmly in his.
Max's eyes shot up. Putting an arm around her shoulders was one thing. But holding hands? The guy was moving fast. But was he really? After all, they had been flirting, in their own weird way, for months now.
Max flushed as she remembered their kiss back in the apartment. Maybe he was not moving that fast after all. Anyway, whatever it was, she was not complaining.
They continued to watch as Manticore retrieved the remains of the wreckage. It was only after Manticore had left the area that Max allowed herself to breathe freely.
Eva broke the silence. "I guess that's it."
"Yeah," Alec said quietly.
Zack gave him a reassuring look. "There shouldn't be any problem, Alec. Jack knows what he's doing."
"Seth's going to let us know if it works."
"Let's go," Alec said gruffly, tugging her hand.
She eyed him with concern, and then she nodded.
Two month had passed since they had moved into Terminal City. Things had since gone back to normal, with the exception of Alec as an additional team member.
Seth was now spending more time in Manticore and less time with Unitech. The information he collected from Manticore were valuable. He was the one who informed them that the plan with Alec had worked, and he was now listed as deceased in Manticore's database. But Max hoped that someday, he would decide to come back. Even though they were no longer a couple, she still missed him.
Tinga had given birth to a beautiful baby boy and had named him Chase. It had taken her a while before she managed to persuade Unitech to allow Charlie, Chase's father, to join them. But in the end, Lydecker had relented and the small family was now living in a small apartment not far from Terminal City.
Brin was practically cured from her Progeria, but had been advised not to go on long-term missions just in case she suffered a relapse.
Jondy, Krit and Syl had returned from their long undercover mission and were now taking a well-deserved break. Krit and Syl had immediate flew off to some resort, wanting some private time to themselves, leaving a disgruntled Jondy to complete the paperwork for their mission.
Max smiled as she thought of the last talk she had with Jondy. Apparently, Zane had been annoying her practically on a daily basis ever since she had returned. It was not hard for Max to guess what was on the male transgenic's mind. After all, anyone just had to mention Jondy's name in relation to heat and Zane would immediately become flustered.
To Zane's annoyance, Max and Alec had been paired up as partners. She and Alec used to be rivals and now they were partners. Max grinned at the irony of it. It was funny how things turned around.
Said rival-turned-partner was now sitting beside her on top of the Space Needle, gazing out into the sunset. This time, he was the one who insisted that she accompanied him there. And that he had something to say to her. That had been a while ago, and they had been sitting in silence ever since they arrived at the top.
She looked out of the corner of her eyes to find Alec looking at her strangely. "Yeah?"
He gestured in the space between them. "Do you think we might have something here?" he asked, looking uncharacteristically serious.
Could he be saying what she thought he was saying? She wanted to laugh. Alec was really something when he was like this. Both of them had not actually said anything to each other about their ever-growing relationship, but words were not needed when they were so busy using their mouth for something else.
"Something? Like what?" she prompted teasingly.
He levelled a pointed look at her. "Do you really need me to spell it out?"
Feigning ignorance, she plastered a frown on her face. "You don't strike me as someone with a problem talking."
He grinned and then a mischievous glint appeared in his eyes. "You're fishing, Max."
She arched an eyebrow. "Oh? Why is that?"
He took a step forward, closing the gap between them, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "I think actions speak louder than words this time."
She grinned. "Now, that's something new."
He lowered his head and captured her lips in his.
Suddenly feeling lighter than she had ever felt in a long time, Max closed her eyes and with a small smile, surrendered herself to the moment.
- THE END -
A/N: That's it. I have to say I'm relieved that it's finally done. I hope you've enjoyed the story. Thanks for staying with it through all this time. Please leave me a last review to tell me what you thought about the whole story.