A/N: I'm going all Indigo Girls on this one. That's just the way it's working out. I have no real explanation for it.

Three months post-Berrisford Agenda, mid-Pilot. Things go a little differently for Max at the beginning of Season One. Alternate Universe.

(The Basement Chapter Six)

Are you on fire
From the years?
--Kid Fears, Indigo Girls

She woke up abruptly, a sheen of sweat across her skin and a groan half formed in her throat. Oh, no.

"Max?" Alec's voice carried from the other cell. "You okay?"

Since Alec had mistaken her for a Psy-Ops plant three weeks ago, she'd been studiously ignoring him, congratulating herself on turning away every offhand comment, every snarky remark, even every concerned inquiry. She'd turned the silent treatment into an art form. She was not going to be buddy-buddy with some idiot who thought she would be willing to pull a mind-fuck for Manticore.

Now, though, his soft baritone was washing over her, pulling at her, and her heightened senses could smell him even from here, the smell of a young, fit, healthy man… on the other side of two feet of concrete.

God, life sucked.

"Okay, seriously, I know you're still pissed at me, but let it go for thirty seconds. Did they inject you with something upstairs? Maybe I can help."

Max rolled over and buried her face in the mattress. "No. Headache. That's all. Don't talk. Hurts my head."

A short pause. "You're lying."

How did he know that? "Shut up."

"No." She imagined a faceless blond shadow crossing his arms petulantly. "Tell me what's wrong."

There was absolutely no reason that his voice should feel like a caress along her arm, a kiss to the back of her neck. Stupid hormones. "No."

"Fine. Then I'll just keep talking, and talking, and talking—"

"You wouldn't," Max said, horrified.

"Try me," he replied levelly.

Ignoring him, Max closed her eyes and seriously considered suffocating herself in the foam mattress.

"Fine. You missed out on advanced military history, anyway. Seriously boring stuff. The Athenians had these generals they called strategos, and under them were the taxiarhos—"

She wouldn't mind being under him

"—but in Sparta they had polemarchos, which were essentially the same position, but since Sparta and Athens could never agree on anything they had to have separate names, and under those were the syntagmatarkhis—"

She lapped up the way he formed the Greek words, the flawless pronunciation, the way his tongue must be moving against his teeth…

"—which are kind of like colonels, and the cavalry was commanded by hipparchia, although the Spartan cavalry could always lick the Athenians without too much effort—"

A heated moan escaped from Max before she could smother it, and Alec stopped speaking abruptly. An awkward silence reigned. Oh, please, she begged some unseen deity, please let him not recognize—


"Yes?" Casual.

"What was that?"

"What was what?"

"That noise you made."

Shit. "What noise?" she said, trying for innocence.

A brief pause… and then, the worst possible thing happened. Alec started laughing. A delighted, amused, belly-deep laugh.

Suicide was clearly the only option. "Fuck off," she snapped. Death by mattress smothering wasn't as honorable as falling on your sword, but infinitely better than this.

"Sorry," he said, still chuckling and obviously not sorry, the bastard. "But… seriously, just tell me next time you're having a wet dream! I'll leave you alone. I swear."

Max felt her face heat up about three hundred degrees – which matched certain other parts of her body.

When she didn't respond, Alec sighed. "Okay, okay. Really, I'm sorry. I'm a jerk. Truce?"

"I was not having a wet dream," she said stiffly – and truthfully, for that matter.

"Whatever you say," he responded, a smile in his voice.

One day, the two of them would meet without concrete walls between them. She and Alec would stand face to face. And on that day, Max promised herself, she would grab him by the throat and throttle him until he was dead. Then she'd commit suicide.

Of course, she'd have to touch him to accomplish that. Touching him met with approval from certain quarters.

"So…" Alec said, in the tones of one casting around for a safe subject. "I wonder if Joshua's ever going to come back. You know, for your Great Escape."

"Seriously, shut up." She tried to keep the desperation out of her voice, then tried to convince herself she was succeeding. "Just… shut up."

He was silent for a minute, and she could tell she'd hurt his feelings. "Fine," he snapped. "Be bitchy. You're not the only one hard up, you know. I've been down here a lot longer than you have. But you don't hear me complaining—"

"Are you clinically incapable of being silent?" Max exploded. Forget Psy-Ops, Alec was going to drive her to the brink of insanity. "If you can't do something useful with your mouth, than fucking shut it!"

Breathing heavily, it took her a full thirty seconds to realize what she'd just said.

"Something useful?" Alec's voice had dropped an octave. "Like what?"

Oh, hell. "I… uh…"

"No, what? What were you thinking, Max?"

She cast around for something snarky to say. "It's not nice to tease a girl in heat, you know."

A beat, then… "Huh?"

"What you're doing. It's mean. Very, very mean," Max elaborated. "So don't. What part of that are you not getting?"

"Uh… the part with the you being in 'heat'. You're in heat?"

Max sighed, resigned. "Yeah."

"You… go into heat?" Alec seemed to be having a hard time with this new piece of information.

"Yeah." Great. Even in Manticore I'm the freaky one. "I guess no one else here does?"

"Uh… no."

Of course. "Figures."

"Is there anything I can do?" She could almost hear the wince that followed that statement. "I mean, uh…"

Max groaned. "I'm not going to die, okay?" Even if it felt like it sometimes. "I'm just going to be really, really horny for a couple of days, and then it'll be over. So just… don't bug me, and don't ever bring any of this up again. Ever."

"Oh. Um… okay."

"Okay." She rolled onto her side, faced the cold concrete blocks, and tried to think about anything except the man on the other side of them.

A/N: Oh my God, I suck. There is no excuse for my neglect, none… all I can offer in my defense is, 19 credits in six months kind of sucked my brain out. Nonetheless, I've got a bit of a space before the next semester starts, and I am going to finish this fic by the end of August. If I don't, feel free to do horrible, horrible things to me.

Most heat fics tend to assume that the heat event is common to all X-5 females, or at least not uncommon (I took this position in The Carpe Felis Series, for example). In retrospect, however, I think that this may actually be incorrect. Specifically, here, I refer to Alec and Max's canon meeting – wherein they're supposed to, for the good of the program, have sex every night until she gets pregnant. Now, if it was common knowledge that even some X-5s go into heat (and presumably, become fertile), why not wait until that time, rather than force Max and Alec to have continually fruitless (if awesome) sex? It could be played as a mindfuck, I suppose, away to take away Max's dignity… but I think that was just a side bonus (especially if they could have induced heat for her, probably not something outside Manticore's capabilities). We do know that not all X-5s have the exact same DNA mix, so I think it's therefore safe to presume that Max is the only one who goes into heat, and Manticore doesn't know about it. And, of course, is Max is the only one who goes into heat, it's entirely possible that X-5 males don't react with reciprocal biological drives. So… it would be entirely possible that Alec would have no idea what was going on, and thus behave like a complete ass.

If there's anyone still reading this (and I wouldn't blame you if you've moved on to greener pastures), please review!