Title: Reflections
Author: Swanseajill
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst, Romance
Pairing: MA
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters nor am I making any money from them.

Summary: A series of snapshots showing how Max and Alec's relationship develops over the course of time.
Told from Max's POV. (MA)

Notes: I really think Max and Alec should end up together, but judging from Max's attitude and behavior in the show, I don't see it happening overnight. This story is an attempt to show their relationship developing realistically over a period of time.

Thanks to Angela, as always, for an insightful beta read.

Part One: Smart Alec
(Set sometime between Designate This and The Berrisford Agenda)

Even asleep, that arrogant, self-satisfied smirk is firmly plastered over his face.


Smart Alec. Huh. She'd named him well.

Knowing she would need help to complete the mission for Eyes Only, Max had reluctantly recruited Alec and they had arrived in the basement of the abandoned warehouse an hour before their contact was due to show. When Max announced that she would take first watch, Alec simply shrugged, settled down with his back against some crates, and went to sleep.

She glances across at him from her position to one side of the basement steps and snorts. It irritates her that he seems to need more sleep than she does. Although, there is one good thing about him sleeping. Even he can't sleep and talk at the same time. Yappity yap yap – he never stops, and it isn't as if he ever has anything particularly useful or intelligent to say.

She huffs a breath of frustration. It isn't that he's done anything in particular to annoy her tonight. Not so far, anyway. It's just that his very presence pushes all her buttons.

She'll never forgive him for his part in aiding her escape from Manticore only to stand by and watch while she unwittingly infected Logan with the virus. And she won't forgive him for forcing her into a corner where she had to pay off that underground doctor to neutralize the time bomb in his head. In that one act of charity – or lunacy – she lost what might have been her only chance to find a cure for the virus. And for what? To keep alive a stupid jackass who was already becoming the biggest pain in the ass she'd ever known.

He's a smug, self-centered, womanizing screwup who thinks only of himself, and to make matters worse, he personifies Manticore and everything it represents. He's proud to be different, he looks down on Ordinaries as inferior and he uses his abilities in every way he can to give himself an advantage. She hates him for this arrogance.

Then there's the 'small' issue of him being Ben's identical clone. Ben, her beautiful brother who still haunts her dreams. It's a nightmare to have a living reminder of him walking around, and Alec isn't worthy to be compared to Ben, despite the way things turned out.

She checks her watch. Almost time to leave for the rendezvous. She walks over to her companion and kicks him roughly in the ankle. He's instantly awake, and she watches his reactions shift from a tense, instinctive awareness of another presence in the room to the recognition of her identity, and then to relaxation as he accepts that there's no threat. All this takes no more than a second or two. A classic example of transgenic reflexes in action.

"Wakey, wakey, Pretty Boy," she says as he gazes up at her with those perpetually amused hazel eyes.

"Hey, Maxie."

She growls inwardly. She hates it when he calls her Maxie.

He grimaces as he springs to his feet in one athletic move. "That floor's way too hard and cold." He smirks and waggles an eyebrow. "'Course, it could've been so much more comfortable if I'd had something soft and warm to hold on to."

Always the crude comments and wiseass remarks. "In your dreams. Okay, let's move out. Remember the plan and try not to screw everything up like you usually do."

"Your faith in me is touching."

She rolls her eyes at his sarcastic tone. "Facts speak for themselves, Pretty Boy."

"You know what?" he says, and now there's a touch of irritation in his tone. "You may not have noticed, but I've been trying to make it up to you for what I did. Just what exactly do you expect?"

She stares at him coldly. "Well, for one thing, I expect you to think of someone else from time to time, instead of always assuming the world revolves around you."

"So, what d'you think I'm doing here, Max?" he huffs. "'Cause I'm sure as Hell not here for the pleasure of your company."

Max opens her mouth to give a tart reply, and then closes it again, biting back the comment. Surprisingly, he has a point. There is no reward for this job, other than the satisfaction of helping a group of strangers he doesn't even know, and he'd known this when he agreed to go with her.

He holds her eyes for a long moment.

"Just tell me one thing, Max," he asks finally. "Will I ever be able to do anything to make you change your mind about me?"

The question, and his suddenly intense expression, take her by surprise. She doesn't answer because it's never occurred to her that she would ever change her mind about him. He is who he is, and she has no time for him. To be truthful, she isn't sure she even wants to give him a chance to make up for his mistakes. She really doesn't care that much.

Her silence apparently gives him his answer and his lips tighten into a thin line. "That's what I thought."

For a split second she thinks maybe she's hurt him and that confuses her, because this is Alec and Alec doesn't have enough heart to feel pain. And this makes her wonder if she really knows him at all. "Alec…" She stops, not knowing how to go on.

He turns away, reaching for his backpack, and when he faces her again the smirk is back in place.

"Let's go and get this job done," he says. "Then how about we head back to my place and - how does Joshua put it? 'Get busy', yeah, that's... ow!"

He yelps and grins as she slaps him upside the head and stalks out of the building ahead of him, the momentary feeling of sympathy lost. She was right the first time. The guy's a jerk and always will be.