Chapter 3

Alec laughed at Max once the cameras weren't around, using her own words against her. "An Alec exclusive! I like the sounds of that. Should I give you the Alec Exclusive, Maxie? You know, it might help us work as more of a team!"

Max rolled her eyes. "How can it be an exclusive with all of your conquests?"

Alec nodded, "Okay. I see your point. How about I give you an alec exclusive that no one's gotten before?" He winked as if she didn't already catch his slight innuendo.

Max shoved him out of her way, "Please! Quit while you're ahead. If you use that phrase one more time, I'll have to permanently remove you from your position, if you catch my drift."

Alec beamed at Max, grinning his trademark. "But I thought we'd already agreed on working a different position." He again winked.

Max shook her head. Where were the cameras when this Alec was around? "Nice way to play the cameras, Alec." Max complimented him. "You managed to come across as a decent, hardworking guy!"

"Well, thanks, Maxie! You didn't really sound that articulate, but you sure looked hot! Might help remove that whole image of "Freak"…unless of course they want a freak in bed!"

Max ignored his comments. "I said you might be decent. If only they really knew you, the way that I do!" Max said, retracting her compliment.

Alec blocked Max's path, grabbing her hands in his own. "And in what way exactly does Max know me?"

Max threw his hands away from her. "Cut it out! It's easy for you to be all happy go-lucky! You didn't just lose it in front of the cameras!"

Alec nodded, finally being slightly serious. "Yea, seriously, Max, what was up with that? I've seen you hold your own against people like Renfro and Lydecker- even White! But you sort of lost it back there, what happened? Is something bugging you?"

Max finally allowed herself to return his gaze. She stared at him with frustration, but she didn't know why. "I don't know," She admitted, "That girl, just… with her whole 'Alec is amazing' routine. I just wanted a chance to show everyone how great Terminal City is! And instead, I find I'm a 3rd wheel on…"

"An Alec Exclusive!" he couldn't help saying.

Max rolled her eyes again. She shoved him playfully. "Seriously! This is an amazing city! No one will ever know if we're all too distracted by how stunningly gorgeous you are!" She laughed inside, finally considering the stupid question. What kind of an idiot asks that! She no longer regretted just walking out of the interview.

Alec looked around at the city. "You're right, Max. It is amazing! If you want, I'll talk to Darla, smooth things over, get the camera guys to get some good clips. Maybe you could even put on your happy face for a couple quotes. We'll end up with a really good documentary."

Max raised a brow at him, but decided she'd give him a chance. He was her 2nd in command, after all. She did trust him to some degree. "Okay, fine! You go ahead and do your thing, I think I'm gonna go check out the competition."

Alec stared at her, confused.

"I'm gonna watch the news," She explained, "See what vicious murders I'm being blamed for this week! I'm sure they'll have an amazing quote from me, notice how they always pick the ones where I'm addressing my own people, so I'm not all professional?"

Alec nodded, "Yea, I caught a glimpse of that, earlier. Nice one, Maxie! Way to represent!"

"Yea, thanks! Let's just hope your little 'Alec exclusive' is enough to get Darla on our side! This documentary needs to be amazing if it's going up against the coverage we've been getting already."

Alec smiled, "Never question my skills with women, Max!"

"Yea. I'll remember that, just as I'm sure Marina and Little Suki will."

Alec frowned, remembering the time he'd been caught as a player. "Ouch. Okay, don't worry, I won't ham it up too much."

He finally turned around, heading in the opposite direction.

Max sighed, realizing she still had a lot of work to do as Terminal City's leader before she could sit down and watch the evening news. She turned to watch Alec walking away, hoping he wouldn't screw this up. If there was one thing Max really could count on concerning Alec, it was his ways with women. As annoying as it was for Max to watch, maybe this time she could use that "skill" to her advantage. She almost cringed referring to it as a "skill", but in this case, maybe it was. She remembered times in her past where she'd used her looks to her own advantage.

She was surprised to find Alec turn around, just as he was almost out of hearing range. "No worries, Max!" he called, as if he had read her thoughts. "And I'm saving my real Alec Exclusive for you!"

Max frowned as he then was out of hearing range. She wanted to have the last word! She shrugged. Whatever. She'd let it go. He would probably do something later to irk her anyway and this moment would already be forgotten.

Max smiled as she kicked back awaiting the evening news. She was prepared for the worst. That of course meant she'd managed to boil enough water to start a bath. She sunk underneath the bubbles briefly, enjoying the last moments before she would have to hit "mute" and go back to the real world.

She heard a knock on the door, much to her annoyance. Didn't I tell them to leave me alone? She thought. She'd just finished a meeting where she informed everyone to leave her alone for the next hour. Can't I just have one hour? She thought desperately, frowning in spite of how amazing her bath felt.

"What?" she asked as the knocking continued, "I'm about to watch the news, so hurry up, what do you want?"

As the door opened, she protested, "Hey, I didn't say come in!"

Alec, upon the sight of Max, faked a surprised look, though Max knew he wasn't being serious. "Max, I've been working for the better of Terminal City while you've been enjoying a bubble bath?"

Max glared at him, "You don't even know the half of it. While you've been no doubt charming up Darla, I've been running around going to meetings. You're interrupting my only moment of peace, if you don't mind."

"I just wanted to report-"

"Later!" she insisted, noticing a few suds were starting to fade.

"I'm not leaving," Alec refused. "You've got yourself the only television set, and as the 2nd in command, I think it's best if I watch this broadcast as well."

Max stopped frowning, and instead shrugged, not letting Alec ruin what remained of her bubble bath. "Whatever. But if you are still here by the time just one inch of my skin is exposed because you didn't leave sooner, I swear, I'm gonna kick your ass!"

She unmuted the television just in time to get the start of the broadcast.

"Thanks for tuning in to channel 9 evening news. I'm Linda Burns. With no recent sightings or official statement from the Freak Nation, we've turned to police reports to see what is really going on as the citizens of Seattle search for answers. Earlier channel 9 got the opportunity to speak with someone else who might have insight into the transgenic situation. Here is a clip of an interview we had with Mr. Reagan Ronald. He worked with the 2 leaders of Freak Nation before they were exposed. Here is what Mr. Ronald had to say-

"Mr. Ronald, were you aware that you were supporting 2 transgenics at JamPony?"

"Please, call me Reagan. And no, I was completely unaware. I would never have supported those freaks if I'd have known the truth. They managed to fake the background information on their applications, and I never knew."

"Reagan, please share with us what it was like, being the boss of transgenics. Did you ever suspect they were not who they claimed to be?"

"Certainly, Max. She was constantly missing work for vague reasons. I knew that girl was trouble. Scares me, to see she's leading those freaks. She's always had a problem with her temper."

"What?" Max couldn't help but interject, as if the broadcast would pause for her to defend herself. "Problem with my temper? I'll show him I've got a problem with my temper! Just who the hell does he think he's talking about! I could've kicked his ass so many times, I could've killed that stupid waste of human life, but I managed to restrain myself. Temper… please!"

Alec snorted at Max's defense, but didn't say anything. He continued to focus on the broadcast.

"Well, Alec.." Normal took a moment to think of what he would say. "I don't think I am ready to comment on Alec."

"What?" Max said again. "And why not?"

"But you're sure about Max?"

Normal nodded, looking proud as if his 2 cents meant something. "That girl is full of excuses. She was always late, you know- doctor appointments, funerals, visiting some uncle, therapist sessions. She isn't willing to work up to our standards as a good American citizen."

Max wanted to throw something at the set. She had to focus not to start thrashing the water. She needed the suds to last while Alec was there.

"She's not hardworking"

Normal laughed. "No, definitely not."

"Yet, she held up to your standards, at least enough to keep her job for 3 years, correct?"

Normal kept nodding for a moment, until he realized what she'd just said. "Oh, well. There was a long time there were she didn't work there. It wasn't 3 years straight."

Linda nodded, "Thank you, Mr. Ronald."

Linda continued with her live broadcast, "And there you have it. The leader of the Freak Nation's old boss clearly does not hold a high opinion on her abilities as a good leader."

Linda smiled, "Of course, one of Jam Pony's employees had this to say about Max. Quote: "Max is one of my best friends, probably ever. She's put up with a lot of my stupid moves over the years, and has gotten me out of a number of various illegal scamming when I was backed into a corner, even though I didn't deserve it. If that isn't a good friend, I don't know what is." End quote."

Max rolled her eyes. Sketchy really was just a lovable idiot. You'd have to be his friend to understand what a big compliment he'd really given Max.

"Meanwhile, Max still hasn't…"

Max smiled as she saw an unexpected turn of the broadcast.

"This is a Streaming Freedom Video bulletin. The cable hack will last exactly 60 seconds. It cannot be traced, it cannot be stopped and it is the only free voice left in the city. The man known as Reagan Ronald owes his life to Max. While Mr. Ronald enjoyed the carefree life of the ignorant.."

Max found the suds disappearing. She noticed Alec was no longer paying attention to the broadcast. "Alec!" She said in a fury, "Get out!"

Alec laughed, tossing Max a towel while turning around. "Well, maybe if you hadn't decided to "relax" by the only tv…"

Max tapped him on the shoulder as he turned back to face her. She stood glaring with one hand on her hip and her head cocked slightly. "This discussion can't wait, say, for me to get dressed?"

"Well…" Alec paused for a moment. Max did not look pleased with the look on his face. Oh, great, she thought, just what has he done this time?

"Out with it," Max demanded. "What are you trying not to tell me."

"Well, in order to present a more fair view of Terminal City…"

"What did you do, Alec?" Max demanded, getting slightly worried. Did he really go on a date with that freak? She wondered.

"So that there is absolutely no bias…"

"Get to the point, Alec!" Max ordered impatiently.

"I authorized the temporary installation of cameras in virtually any area of interest in Terminal City."

Max blinked at him, gathering her surroundings. "What?" She asked in disbelief.

"Video cameras, to pick up random unbiased clips of what it's like to live in Terminal City."

Max stared in slight horror, "Effective as of when? How long do I have to tell them to forget it!"

Alec swallowed slightly. "Well, immediately."

"What!" Max asked, changing her worry to anger like she hadn't experienced in a while.

"Smile, Maxie," Alec said with a grin, "Say hi to your fans, you're on camera."