The Friggin' Cure

by Inzane

Disclaimer: sigh This is the last time I am going to disclaim in this story. sniff I do not own Dark Angel. I do not own Max and Alec. I am only owner to the crazy plot that has been running round in my head for the past two months.

Summary: Alec is critically injured while on a mission to get the cure. Max comes to realize her true feelings for Alec, but is it too late?

A/N: This chapter exists because of one line. There is one line that I felt I just had to include in this fic, I just couldn't live without it, but it just didn't fit right in the previous chapter. There's other stuff that I like in here, but I could've lived without it, but that one line... it made me do it. You get a shiny gold star if you can figure out which line it is. I'm not telling.

Warning: Warm fuzzy alert. Also, this chapter is rated a soft Mfor adult situations. There is nothing graphic, nothing that you wouldn't see on prime time TV I don't think. (It's a lot tamer then Sammy gettin' busy on Supernatural in the ep Heart, that's for sure. Inzane fans herself. You SPN fans know what I'm talkin' about.) I'm just rating it a soft M to play it safe. Skip it if you feel you need to, but I think you'll regret it.

Chapter 12: Worth It

"Hey, Logan, you have any more boxes? These are all full."

Logan came out from under his desk, where he had been methodically unhooking computer cables. He turned to see Asha peeking her blonde head around the corner.

Asha wasn't drop-dead gorgeous like Max, but she had a unique, almost elfin-like quality that made her beautiful in a different way. She had always been there to help him, had always stuck by his side, and he couldn't really understand why, as he had never seemed to give her much of a reason. He realized sadly that he had always taken her for granted. Maybe, given time, something more might develop between them. That, however, was a concern for the future. A month had passed since the night he had walked out of Terminal City, but the wounds caused by Max's absence from his life were still too raw, too deep. Maybe someday he and Asha could be more. But right now, he really just needed a friend.

He gave her a charming smile, pushing his glasses back up from where they had slid down to the end of his nose. "There should be a bunch downstairs."

"Right," Asha replied, and she began to turn to search for more boxes.

"Hey, Asha," Logan called out, stopping her in her tracks. She turned back around, a questioning look on her face.

Logan hung his head for a second. When he looked back up, his eyes were full of sincerity.

"Thanks." Silently, he added, for everything.

Asha somehow knew that the single word had much more import than her just helping to pack some boxes. "Don't mention it," she said softly, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, a flutter of hope in her heart.

Logan ducked back under his desk to get back to work, and Asha turned to go down to the basement, her head not turning until the last moment as she took one more wistful look at Logan. When her head finally turned around, she let out a small, startled scream.

At the sound Asha's cry, Logan jerked, smacking his head hard on the underside of the desk. His exoskeleton whirred as he scurried out from under it, one hand going to his aching head while the other reached out to snag the Browning 9 mm that was sitting on the desk. Alec's run in with White had reminded Logan that the Familiar had a score to settle with them all, and he had kept the gun close at hand ever since.

"What is it?" he asked, slightly alarmed. He looked past Asha to see what had startled her. There, in the doorway between rooms, stood a man, still as a statue, silent and imposing. It was if he had materialized out of nowhere.

"Alec," Asha whispered. A blush rose to her cheeks as she remembered the time she had almost gone to bed with this man. She couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if she had.

"Alec," Logan said, repeating Asha's words with wary puzzlement. The X-5 was the last person, aside from Max, that he ever expected to show up on his doorstep. He let go of the gun, and slowly dropped both hands to his sides.

"Hey," Alec replied, ignoring Asha as he fixed Logan with a stare. The tension in the room suddenly skyrocketed.

Sensing the strained atmosphere, Asha did the smart thing and planned to make herself scarce. She hiked a thumb over her shoulder and slowly began to back away.

"I'll, um, just go see if I can't find those boxes. I'll be downstairs if you need me." With that, she turned and made a quick exit.

The two men were locked in a standoff. It seemed that neither wanted to be the first to break the tension. Logan noticed that Alec looked much as he always had. There was little to hint that a month ago he had balanced on the precipice of death, save for the small, barely perceptible line of a scar gracing his left cheekbone. What scars were hidden by his clothes, Logan didn't want to think about. His carelessness had caused those scars.

The silence had reached the point of being awkward when Alec finally spoke, turning his head only slightly as he glanced around at the boxes.

"So. You're leaving."

Logan was unnerved more by Alec's abbreviated words and unnatural stillness than his unexpected presence. The transgenic had always had so much to say, and had always been so animated when saying it, that his clipped comments disturbed Logan. It made him unsure of Alec's intentions, and a chill ran down his spine as he vividly remembered Alec picking him up by the neck and slamming him into the wall. He had to clear his throat before he could answer.

"Yeah. It's time to move on," he replied, shoving his hands into his pockets. He shrugged his shoulders. "Doesn't feel right to stay. Found a new place, a bit outside of Seattle. Thought I could start over, you know, in a place without so many memories. I'll still be close enough to help you guys, though, if you need me..." He trailed off, realizing that he couldn't continue to pretend that everything was okay between them. "Frankly, I'm kind of shocked to see you here."

A change seemed to come over Alec, and in an instant, he was once again the Alec that Logan knew. He sauntered into the room with casual grace, smirk in place, picking up random objects to look at and then discard.

"Yeah, Max'll skin me alive if she finds out I'm here. This is the first time I've been out of Terminal City in a month. Had to sneak out." He turned back to Logan, fully intending to make some smart-ass comment, when the look on the cyber-journalist's face made him decide against it.

"I think you know that's not what I meant," Logan said, his voice subdued.

Alec ducked his head, placing his own hands in his pockets so that his stance mirrored Logan's. He could see that Logan felt guilty about what had happened. Luke had told him that Logan had called to check on him every day when he had been in a coma. But Alec had guilt of his own.

He remembered his anger at Max, months and months ago, when she had lied to Logan and said that they were a couple so she could protect Logan. Yeah, so blame Alec, 'cause he's just the kind of jerk that'd steal another guy's girl. Now he felt that he was that kind of jerk, that he had stolen Max away. He knew it was illogical. Max had told him that she and Logan had been over for a while, even if they hadn't admitted it at the time. She wasn't property to be bartered between men; she wasn't a thing that could be stolen. All the same, Alec felt that in falling for Max, he had, in some way, done Logan a great wrong, and was overcome with the need to explain himself. He knew what it felt like to want Max but not have her.

He looked up suddenly, meeting Logan's blue eyes with his own hazel.

"I love her, Logan," The words poured out of him; they weighed too heavily on his chest. "I'm not gonna apologize for it. I can't be sorry for how I feel. You probably don't give a damn, but I didn't plan this. I didn't mean for it to happen, it just did." He ducked his head again, uncomfortable discussing something so personal with another man. But he felt these things needed to be said.

"I guess you and I have a lot more in common than we thought, huh? Both in love with the same girl." He looked up slightly at this, raising his eyes to meet Logan's once more. "Too bad it took two bullets for me to finally get it."

He had really known before that, from the moment Logan had told him about the cure, but he was not about to tell the other man that. There were some things he planned to keep to himself.

Logan had been shocked that Alec had come to square things with him, as if it had been Alec in the wrong. At the mention of the ordeal the transgenic had managed to survive; however, Logan took a halting step forward, arms waving slightly as he reached for an explanation, tried to think of what words could possibly express his regret without belittling what Alec had gone through.

"Look, I'm sorry, Alec. I never meant..." he began earnestly, but Alec cut him off, holding up a hand to stop him.

"I'm not here looking for an apology, Logan. I know why you did it, and I don't blame you. Might've done the same thing myself, if the situation had been reversed."

At these words, Logan looked closely at the X-5. He didn't know the man that Alec had become, and he was honestly not sure that he had ever really known him at all. Maybe Alec had changed, or maybe Logan had always just seen what he wanted to see. Looking at him now, he realized just how much he had misjudged this man over the time that he had known him.

The first time he had thought Max was with Alec, he had never been able to let go, not really. He had hung on to the hope that someday he and Max would be together. Now Max and Alec were together, and it was no lie. Logan's heart ached as he realized a bitter truth. Max was with Alec not because he was a transgenic, one of her own kind, but maybe because Alec was the better man. Logan had always wanted to be happy with Max. Alec had only wanted Max to be happy, and that made all the difference in the world. The smile that came to his face was strained.

"No," he said, shaking his head slightly, "I don't think you would have."

Alec looked down at this, a bit embarrassed. "Yeah, well, just wanted you to know." The transgenic had said his peace and started to leave, but Logan stopped him.

"Hey," Logan said, standing a bit taller as he straightened his shoulders. Alec turned back and raised his eyebrows in question.

"Take care of her, Alec." Logan remembered when he'd had a similar discussion with him. He had been full of bitterness and anger then. This time, he truly meant what he said.

Alec nodded, acknowledging more than Logan's words, but also the intentions behind them. He gave the older man a slight smile.

"Always." With that final word, he was gone in a blur.

Dalton had been sitting on the roof of the house, taking the high ground for tactical advantage while Alec was in talking to Logan. He'd thought the whole idea was stupid, but had been unable to dissuade his friend, who threatened to go it alone. Dalton realized that Alec asking him to come along was a concession to the fact that he was not functioning at one-hundred percent yet. Alec was mostly healed, and at a glance, nothing appeared to be wrong with him. He could have taken on any ordinary without a problem, but Familiars were another matter. Alec didn't think they would run into any trouble, but trouble always had a way of finding Alec, hence the request for backup. So Dalton had come along, grumbling the entire time.

As he saw Alec exit the building, Dalton jumped from the roof to land in a crouch beside his friend with a barely audible thud. He stood and gave Alec an assessing look. As the man's fists were not covered in blood, he was pretty sure what had gone on inside. He tried to hold it in--it was none of his business really--but as they began to walk back to TC, Dalton was afraid he would explode if he didn't say something.

"I can't believe you forgave him," the X-6 said angrily.

Alec raised an eyebrow at the venom in Dalton's voice. "Logan's not a bad guy. He did what he thought he had too. I can't hold it against him."

Dalton harrumphed at this. "Yeah, well I can." He had been there, had lived through what happened, and he figured that night just might haunt him for the rest of his life.

Alec smiled and shook his head, touched by Dalton's loyalty.

"Let it go, kid. Life's too short." They continued walking, heading for the nearest sewer entrance. Dalton was stubbornly silent, a frown on his face. Alec reached over to ruffle the kid's hair, causing the X-6 to swat at Alec's hand and pull his head away in irritation. Alec couldn't help but grin.

"Come on, I'll buy you a nice greasy burger before we head back. Red meat, buddy, is the cure for everything."

At Alec's words, Dalton's face was transformed, and the frown was replaced by a faraway, yearning look.

"Red meat…" the adolescent said reverently. Alec was pretty sure there was drool.

The X-5 laughed and punched the kid on the shoulder, causing him to stumble sideways a bit under the force. Dalton retaliated with a roundhouse swing at Alec's head, which the older man easily ducked. Status quo re-established, they walked away in companionable silence, in search of red meat.

Alec was lucky that Max never found out about his little trip outside Terminal City, because he was right in his assessment--Max would have skinned him alive. After coming so close to losing him, she had become a bit obsessive about his health and safety. The simple trip to Logan's place had involved an elaborate set of lies combined with favorable circumstances, as well as a bit of blackmail to ensure Oscar's help in slipping past the Border Patrol. Alec hoped he wouldn't need to lie to Max again, but honestly, he knew that it wasn't the first time and probably wouldn't be the last. Especially if she continued to hover over him like he was as fragile as spun glass.

After the night of their big confessions, Alec had returned to Medical, and had stayed another week under Vash's strict supervision. Thanks to Max's interference, he was able to avoid the threatened catheter, but was restricted to practically bread and water as a lesser form of punishment. And damn if Vash didn't sniff out every attempt to sneak him in some real food.

Max visited him every day, often several times a day. During her visits, they just talked. They had spent so much of the time they had known each other hiding behind a facade, that they needed to learn how to talk to each other without all the pretense.

Max was very hesitant when she touched Alec. There were some chaste kisses, a casual touch here and there, but nothing like the passionate kiss they had shared that night. Alec knew that Max was afraid of hurting him, but dammit, he was getting stronger every day and was seriously tired of being treated like an invalid. As soon as Vash sprung him from Medical, he immediately set about remedying that situation.

He began slowly, a caress here, a light touch there, a slide of his tongue over her bottom lip when he kissed her. He would pull her against him, to prove that he could take the weight of her pressed against him without wincing in pain. He could tell when he aroused her, and it pleased him to no end. Now all he needed to do was heal up a bit more, and he would show her what it was like to be truly aroused.

About a month after he and Max had stopped denying their feelings, and a day after he went to see Logan, Alec felt strong enough to make his move.

Max was in one of the storage rooms going over an inventory list, and she was all by her lonesome. Perfect. He slowly slid in behind her, knowing that she was aware of him, that she sensed him enter the room. He molded his body to the back of hers, wrapping an arm around her waist as his free hand brushed aside the hair from her neck. He leaned in, nuzzling her barcode, and whispered a deep and husky Maaaax against her skin.

Max's head fell to the side, and her body melted against his. She reveled in the feel of his hard body against hers, in his roaming hands. God, she wanted him. She wanted him so badly. No, she mentally shook herself, reminding herself that he was not ready, that she couldn't risk hurting him.

"Alec," she pleaded, wanting him to stop but deep down hoping that he wouldn't.

Max's buried hopes were fulfilled, for Alec spun her around and shoved her up against the shelves, pressing the length of his body against hers as he kissed her like he would devour her. Her whole body was suddenly aflame. She could smell his arousal, and it almost drove her mad. She knew she should stop him, but her mind was losing the battle to her body's needs. Only when her hands, suddenly wandering under Alec's shirt, ran over the slightly rough skin of the scars on his chest did she come to her senses and shove him back.

"We can't," she said breathlessly, chest heaving and cheeks flushed.

Alec made a little noise of frustration, which Max found so incredibly sexy. No! Down, Max. Behave!

"Maaaxieeee..." Alec pleaded, reaching for her, but she stepped aside, holding a hand up.

"No," she shook her head, backing away from him. "Not until you're completely healed."

Alec reached for her again, causing her to evade once more. "I am completely healed, Max," he insisted, putting on his best I'm-being-totally-honest-here look.

Max crossed her arms and cocked out a hip, and she looked so damn hot that Alec was sure he was just going to burst into a ball of flame on the spot.

"Oh yeah?" Max replied in a don't-you-tell-me-how-it-is voice. "Then why is your breath hitching?"

Shit, Alec thought. Fucking scar tissue in my lung is still fucking up my day!

"Is not," he said sullenly, sounding like a little boy trying to lie about being in the cookie jar.

"Bullshit," Max countered succinctly. Then, a wicked thought popped into her head. Hmmm… payback.

With a crooked, sultry smile, she stalked over to Alec, watching his eyes widen and dilate at the sway of her hips. She stopped inches in front of him, and traced a slow line down the center of his chest with her index finger. The action had an immediate response, and yes, his breath was definitely still hitching.

"Alec," she purred. "When we do this thing, I want you to be at one-hundred percent. I've got a whole lot of pent up needs, and they're gonna take quite some time to fulfill." She leaned forward and tilted her face up, her lips mere inches from his own. "I promise I'll make it worth the wait."

Alec actually growled at this. She's going to kill me. I survived two bullets to the chest, a coma, and here I'm gonna die from sexual frustration, goddammit.

Max's body involuntarily arched toward his at the sound of his growl, and she had to step back to compose herself. She tilted her head at him, giving him a clearly fake apologetic look.

"Sorry, Alec. I imagine we won't be moving any of your furniture for quite some time yet."

"Sonofabitch! I knew you were gonna hold that shit against me!"

Alec spent the next month trying to find ways to prove to Max that he was completely healed. The direct approach wasn't working, and she wouldn't let him go on any missions, so he began to take up more physical jobs around TC, making damn sure he was conspicuous as he did it.

Every once in a while, he would catch her watching him. It always brought smug smile to his face to feel her eyes on him. He figured it wouldn't be long before she cracked.

But time wore on, and she didn't crack. He knew that she was just concerned about him, but he was fine, dammit! He'd tried talking to her a couple of times, but it was like talking to a stubborn, infuriatingly sexy brick wall. He was starting to get frustrated, and frankly, a little bit angry. She didn't trust him? She didn't believe him? Fine. He wasn't gonna beg. Let her stew in her own damn juices. He wasn't gonna make the first move. She'd have to come to him.

Once he'd made up his mind to quit pressuring Max, he felt a lot better. A lot of cold showers didn't hurt, either.

He and Max spent a lot of their free time together. They often found themselves bumming around Alec's apartment, crashing on his couch as they watched a movie. They often bickered over the choice of the movie, who got the bigger pillow, Alec's frequent running commentary as he talked over the dialogue… They still bickered about a lot of things, only now there was a more playful, teasing quality to it that they no longer needed to feel uncomfortable about.

While he played the waiting game with Maxie, he decided it wouldn't hurt to get back in top condition. He began working out twice a day, improving on his already well-defined muscles. He made a point to run the stairs of TC's highest building every day, to try to work that stubborn hitch out of his breathing. He took over the martial arts training for the X-6 and younger series. He had always been at the top of all of the unarmed combat classes back at Manticore; it would be good to pass on his expertise, and honestly, he felt a little rusty. He was sure that these classes would whip him back into fighting form. He became so involved that he didn't even notice when the hitch in his breath disappeared. But Max did.

It was early afternoon, and Alec was teaching the advanced level of his martial arts class, mostly X-6s and a few of the silent X-7s. It was exactly two months and four days since the night Alec had been shot. He stood barefoot, in sweatpants and a t-shirt, as he watched the class. His hair was back to normal, for which he was eternally grateful. The small scar on his cheekbone had completely faded to the human eye, though transgenic eyesight would be able to pick up a slight imperfection in the skin. The scars on his chest remained, though if he had been human, one would have thought that he had gotten them years ago instead of just two months ago.

Dalton and Oscar, his two best students among the class, were engaged in a flurry of kicks and punches. They seemed to be locked in a stalemate, neither able to gain the upper hand long enough to hold it. One moment, Oscar would have Dalton pinned, another, Dalton would send Oscar flying through the air.

Alec finally halted the fight. These two were getting nowhere. They knew each other's moves too well.

"All right, fellas, that's enough." Dalton and Oscar both straightened, breathing hard and looking a bit worse for the wear. Both looked perfectly happy to call the fight a draw.

Alec turned back to the class. "You see, guys, what happens when two opponents become used to each other's fighting styles? They end up deadlocked. It becomes a matter of stamina instead of a matter of skill. And trust me, you do not want it to come to that. If it does come to that, what you need to be able to do is improvise. Do something your opponent won't expect."

He waved over Wil, an X-5 he had known back at Manticore, who he had asked to sit in on the class to help him demonstrate. He explained that he had fought Wil plenty of times back in the day, and they knew each other's style pretty well. He didn't notice Max standing in the shadows, watching him. He never heard her sharply indrawn breath when he grabbed the hem of his t-shirt and pulled it over his head, tossing it carelessly aside. As he began to explain some further points to the class, Max found his voice faded into the background as the sight of him overloaded her senses.

"Damn," she whispered quietly to herself. She knew he had been working out, but this was the first time she had actually gotten such a close look at the results. He had put on some muscle--enough to increase his strength, but not so much that it would slow him down. His sweatpants hung low on his hips, and she had a full view of his rippling chest and his six-pack abs. She had to admit the sight of him was quite… spectacular. The light scars on his chest did nothing to detract from the perfection of his form, and for the first time, Max found that she didn't cringe when she looked at them. A slow smile spread across her face.

This man is mine. All mine.

Max felt a sudden irresistible urge to mark him, to lay her claim on him, to make it so that any transgenic female would know at a glance that Alec belonged to her, and no other. And she knew that she would instantly lay out any bitch that dared to try to come between them.

She watched Alec's graceful movements as he fought Wil. He was always so fluid when he fought. Unlike the heavy combat models like her brother Zach, Alec was built for stealth and speed. As the fight went on, she felt herself getting warmer and warmer as she watched him move. She couldn't help but imagine how fluid he would be in the bedroom.

Max gasped slightly as Alec failed to block, causing Wil to land a punishing hit. It became obvious that Alec had planned it, because he used Wil's motion against him to get inside his guard and latch onto his arm. He went with the hit, which allowed him to duck under Wil's outstretched arm. As he passed, he latched his other hand around Wil's neck and let his weight drop to the floor, sending Wil crashing face first into the mat. Alec had never let go of his hold on the other transgenic's neck, and now had the man in a choke hold, a knee resting in the center of Wil's back.

"See?" Alec said, panting as he looked up at the class. "Unexpected."

He let Wil up and stood, a sheen of sweat causing his golden skin to glisten. Wil stood, rubbing the back of his neck.

"When did you learn a move like that?" he asked Alec, a little irritated he had been beaten. He should have known. Alec had always beaten him before, but never so quickly.

Alec smirked. "A certain badass transgenic female taught me the fine art of fighting dirty." His head turned as he suddenly heard clapping coming from a shadowy corner. He raised his eyebrows as Max sauntered out of the darkness, face flushed and looking terribly aroused.

"Nice," she said, her voice deep as she stopped a few feet from him.

Alec swallowed hard. He turned his head back to his students. "Class dismissed," he said, his voice hoarse. Damn, the effect this woman has on me!

The other transgenics grabbed up their various clothes and filed out of the room. Dalton was the last to leave, giving Alec a knowing smirk and a wink before he exited the room. Once they were all gone, he turned back to Max, his heart suddenly pounding against his ribs as if it were seeking escape.

She closed the distance between them, leaning her body up against his. His eyes rolled up in his head as the heady scent of her assaulted him. She stood on tiptoe, her right hand going up to rest over his barcode and pull him down a bit. Her lips brushed his ear, and her voice was low and sultry.

"I think you're all healed now, Alec."

Before he could react, Max slowly backed away, allowing her fingertips to trail down over the droplets of sweat on his chest.

"Gotta blaze," she said, her lips pursed as she continued to back away. She brought up the same hand that she had trailed down his chest, the same hand that held a few droplets of his sweat, and ran the hand down her own neck to the hemline of her shirt, marking herself with his scent. His whole body was suddenly hard as a rock.

"I'm due in Command for my shift. See you tonight." With that parting shot, she was gone, nothing but a blur.

Alec just stared at the place where she had stood.

"Ugh." He couldn't manage anything more coherent. His knees were suddenly weak, and he sat down hard on the mat. The implications of what she said had his head buzzing. After a minute, when he had come back to his senses, he flopped backward onto the mat, hands burying themselves in his hair.

"How the hell am I gonna get through the day after a comment like that!"

He had tried to keep himself busy, tried not to think about it. He had gone back to his place and taken a very long, very cold shower. It didn't help. He tried helping out with various jobs around TC, but he couldn't pay attention to what he was doing, and each time he was booted from the job because of his preoccupation. He couldn't stop thinking about her. He was going insane. And he was damn well sure that she knew he was.

He may love her, but sometimes, she was still a bitch. Somehow, that made him love her even more.

He was eternally grateful that he wasn't due for a shift in Command, because he wasn't sure if he could look at her without dragging her bodily into her office and taking her right there on her desk. That would sure give the rest of the Command staff an earful.

He made sure to avoid Mole, Dalton, Joshua--dear God, especially Joshua--anyone that would be able to look at him and see what was going on. If he had to face Joshua asking him if Max and Alec gettin' busy, he was gonna self destruct.

He went to Max's high place, sat on the edge of the building, looking in instead of out at the skyline. His leg kept jittering up and down, and he would slam a fist down on it to stop it, but it would just start up again in a minute.

This was ridiculous. He had been with countless women. He in no way doubted his ability to pleasure one. But those women before, they all been just a way to fulfill a basic need. He had never before been with a woman that he cared about, that he loved. She was his match in every way. The other half of his soul. It was ridiculous, but the prospect that he might somehow... disappoint her scared the shit out of him.

He wondered where this sudden self-doubt came from. Maybe his injuries, being so vulnerable and weak for all that time, had been a major blow to his self esteem. Or maybe it was just that it had never mattered so much before what a woman thought of him. But then again, he realized that it had always mattered what she thought. He had hung around, changed his ways, got a job, tried to be a better man... all because he cared what she thought of him.

He sighed and stood. Turning to take a glance out at the skyline, he took in a deep, cleansing breath. And smiled. It was so good to be able to draw in a lung full of wonderful, slightly toxic, smoggy air. He would never take such a simple act for granted again.

He turned and headed for the stairs. He figured he might as well go back to his apartment. Max's shift wasn't over for about another hour yet. Maybe he could kill time by watching a video or something. Or maybe he could just stare at the walls and imagine the sight of Max's naked body. Hmmmm... Either way, the time wasn't going to pass any faster.

When Alec stepped into his apartment, he figured that he had finally lost it. He was so preoccupied thinking about Max that he had even conjured up the memory of her scent. It seemed to surround him, and he stopped in the center of his living room and closed his eyes, reveling in the memory of it.

When he opened his eyes, for a moment he thought he was seeing things as well, because there, across the room, was the woman that had taken over his every thought for the past several hours. He blinked twice, but the vision didn't change. She was there, and what a vision she was.

She was slinking out of his bathroom, steam following her. Alec had heard from OC of Max's near miss with hypothermia in his shower, and had managed to score a working water heater for his place just a week ago. He hadn't told her. He wanted to surprise her, but apparently, she had figured it out for herself.

As he took in the sight of her, he was frozen in place, dumbstruck. She was wearing one of those tight, little black tank tops that exposed her belly, a swath of black, lacy underwear, and nothing else. She was leaning to the side, brushing out a wave of glossy, dark hair.

Max tossed the brush aside and straightened. "Hope you don't mind if I used your shower. Love the hot water," she said in a sultry voice that promised of pleasures yet to come.

Alec was speechless. His mouth hung slightly open as she stalked toward him, all swinging hips and curves and flowing dark hair. He tried hard to keep a grip on himself, because he was afraid that if he didn't, he would lose control and it would all be over in minutes.

Max stopped directly in front of him, her breasts practically brushing his chest, and tilted her head back to smile up at him.

"Oh, look. Another way to shut you up." The smile turned into a smirk, and when she bit her bottom lip, a wicked look in her eyes, she had him.

He grabbed her around the waist and pulled to close the distance between them. He paused for a brief moment to look in her eyes, sharing all he felt for her with that look, before he bent down and plundered her mouth.

He wasn't sure how long they kissed, standing there in his living room. Time no longer had meaning. The world outside no longer existed. At some point, he realized that he had lost his shirt somehow, Max was in his arms, legs wrapped around his waist, and he had her back pressed up against the wall outside his bedroom door. Bedroom. Bed. Right. That's what we need.

He rolled them so that Max came away from the wall and they rolled into the open doorway. He found himself backing toward the bed, still plundering her mouth as if the mysteries of the universe where concealed inside. He came to an abrupt halt as the back of his knees hit the edge of the bed, and he sat down hard, Max bouncing in his arms. He planned to flip her over onto the bed, but suddenly her arms were on his shoulders, pushing him back. He looked up at her in confusion, eyes glazed with passion. He desperately hoped that she hadn't changed her mind about the state of his health. Or about him in general. All the blood had flowed to another part of his anatomy, so he wasn't thinking very clearly at the moment.

Max saw the confused look in his beautiful eyes, now a mesmerizing deep green. But she had to stop him before things went too far. This man had become everything to her. He was part of her. He was her life. And she couldn't do this, be with him, without telling him.

"Alec," she said breathlessly, eyes boring into his. When he tried to close his eyes and duck his head, she knew he was afraid of what she might say, but she needed to see his eyes when she said this. She grabbed his head and forced it to her, forced him to look at her. When he opened his eyes, her hands no longer held him in place but caressed his strong jaw. She took a deep breath, and then took the plunge.

"I love you."

His reaction was everything that she hoped it would be and more. His entire face lit up. His smile was heart-rending and pure, holding nothing back, and it shone through to his eyes. She could read every emotion in his face and was almost overcome by the strength of her own. The moment was perfect. And then, she caught a sudden twinkle in his eye, and Alec couldn't help but be Alec.

The smile transformed itself into the smirk that she had come to love, and his eyes filled with mischief.

"Of course you do," was his reply to her heartfelt declaration of love.

Some women might have been pissed, but Max knew the man she had fallen in love with, and his response made her love him all the more. Still, she couldn't let him think that he could get away with it.

Her smirk matched his own, and she leaned back in his arms so she could take a swing at his head. He ducked, and they tumbled onto the bed. They began to tussle in earnest, each seeking to dominate the other, the occasional laugh or squeal punctuating the mock fight. They were a little too overzealous, and found themselves tumbling right off the edge of the bed to land with a thud on the floor.

Alec rolled until he was on top, and pinned Max's arms above her head to end the fight. Her face was flushed and her eyes were bright with exertion. The smile on her face made him want to lay his heart at her feet. He let go of one arm to softly brush a strand of hair away from her face.

"I love you back, Maxie," he said quietly, letting his eyes tell the truth of his words.

He saw her melt, and in that moment, he knew that Max's fears about him, about what he would risk for her, had been right. He would gladly lay down his life for this woman. He would do anything, go through hell, just to see that smile on her face.

He scooped her up from the floor, cradling her in his arms for a moment before gently laying her back down on the bed. He didn't want their first time together to be on the hard floor. Not that he had anything against doing it on the floor, but not the first time. He wanted the first time to be special. Something neither one of them would forget. As Alec lay down next to Max on the bed, together they proceeded to make the memory of a lifetime. And, when, in the height of their passion, Max cried out his name--his name--he knew, for the first time in his life, what it was to experience true bliss.

Max called out his name many times that night, and he called out hers. Their passion knew no bounds, and their energy seemed endless. They couldn't get enough of each other. After an especially energetic round on the couch, Alec had fallen into a light sleep due to what seemed now an unfortunate lack of shark DNA. But he soon woke to soft lips and roaming hands, and he had to admit that if you had to wake up, that was definitely the way to go.

They finally found themselves back in Alec's bed, spent, sheets in a tangle at the bottom. Alec lay on his back, an arm flung over his head, while Max lay beside him on her stomach, an arm flung over him. They stayed that way for a while until their hearts slowed, their bodies stilled. Alec heard a soft, contented sigh from Max.

"I didn't know it could be like that," she said wistfully.

Alec barked out a laugh. "I hope that's a compliment."

Max rolled her eyes. Men. "No, I just had sex with you six times..."

Alec interrupted her at this. "Ahem. Seven."

" times," she corrected, propping herself up on an elbow so she could look down at him, "because you are a horrible lover." She smacked him on the shoulder. "Dumbass."

Alec's response to the blow was a fake wince and a crooked grin. "Glad to know that some things haven't changed."

Max's face fell, suddenly serious. "You know, I've... I've never been with another transgenic before. It was nice..."

"Just nice?" Alec interrupted again, a pretend hurt look on his face.

Max leaned over him, slapping a hand over his mouth to shut him up. "…nice to not have to pretend that I'm something I'm not, to completely give in to what I wanted without being afraid of scaring you or hurting you." She slowly drew her hand away, and then found she had done so prematurely.

Alec moved around as if his body was stiff and aching. "I don't know, Max, I'm feelin' pretty sore…"

Max made a frustrated noise. He was going to drive her crazy. Here she was trying to be serious, to tell him something important, and he was screwing around. She went to get up, but Alec snagged her around the waist and pulled her back down to the bed, laughing.

"No, wait. Wait! I'm sorry! I'll stop, okay? Honest."

Max eyed him suspiciously. That was the trouble with getting involved with someone that lying came as naturally to as breathing. You never knew when they were serious. If she was going to try to make this thing work with him, she was going to have to afford him a degree of trust. She settled back down with him, lying on her side facing him, tucking her hands under her chin.

Alec was silent for a minute, debating whether he should confess. If he wanted her to trust him, he was going to have to trust her as well. He took a breath and held it, then let go.

"I haven't either." He saw Max wrinkle her brow in confusion, so he made himself perfectly clear. "Been with another transgenic, that is."

Max propped herself back up on her elbow again, completely incredulous. She figured trust just went out the window. "Come on..." she said in disbelief.

"No, really." The look on his face was dead serious.

Max raised her eyebrows and drew her head back in shock. "Seriously?" His eyes told her he was being completely honest with her. She paused, thinking about it for a minute, and then the realization came to her. "But that would mean..." she trailed off, hardly able to believe it.

Alec rolled on his side and propped himself up on his elbow, mirroring her. "...that before tonight I haven't been with a girl in over eight months? 'Fraid so."

He let his words sink in, and laughed at the look on Max's face. "Guess we were kinda both virgins, in a way, before tonight."

Max's mouth dropped open in shock. She thought back to all the times since the transgenics had been trapped in TC that she had thought he'd been out making time with some other X series girl. But that had never happened. She smiled a small, pleased smile that she was his first. Her boy was full of surprises.

Alec felt the need to explain it to her, afraid she still might not believe him. "I've been with plenty of regular girls," he smirked at this, "a whole lot really, but I've never been with another of my own kind. Those girls, they were just a way to forget about what I really wanted. I knew I could never have anything real with them anyway." His eyes fell at this, a bit embarrassed by his own words. But he continued on.

"When we were suddenly locked here in TC, and all those transgenic girls were available, and hell, they were interested, I found I didn't want any of them. I didn't know why at first. Just thought I was being picky." He paused, taking in a quick short breath and blowing it out before his next words.

"I think I've always known who I wanted… just took a while for my head to accept what my heart was telling me." On his last word, his eyes slowly came back up to meet her face and he bit his bottom lip, unused to expressing such sentiment openly.

Max found herself blinking back tears. That had to be the most romantic thing anyone had ever said to her. All of Logan's romantic candlelight dinners and pre-pulse wine couldn't even compare.

Seeing that Max looked like she was about to cry, Alec did what any typical male would do. He tried to stop it all costs. He grabbed her around the waist, causing her to squeak in surprise as he rolled her over his body to his other side, then rolled on top of her, pinning her with his weight.

"Now if you don't mind," he told her, lightly kissing the tip of her nose, "I'd like to get some sleep before all this serious talk makes hearts and flowers start flying out my ass."

A smile broke across Max's face as she laughed and reached up to hug him tight. Pleased he had averted the waterworks, Alec leaned back, pulling her with him until she was curled up next to his side. Where she belonged. They snuggled in to each other and closed their eyes, satisfied smiles on both their faces, as they finally succumbed to sleep.

There was a soft glow on the horizon, signaling dawn. Alec leaned against the window, watching the sunrise. He was tired, and to be honest, a bit sore, but he found that he couldn't sleep. He glanced down at the plastic container in his hand. Inside, rolling around the bottom, were two bullets--the ones that Vash had removed from his chest. He'd insisted on keeping them. He had hid them from Max, figuring that it would be too harsh a reminder for her. But he found that he needed the reminder. He needed to remember how close he had come to losing it all.

He raised the container, holding it up so he could better contemplate its contents. Funny, really. They were so small. Hard to believe that such little things could do so much damage. But they had done something else. They had finally made things happen between him and Max. Alec realized that this was completely wack, that getting two bullets to the chest was a completely messed up way to start a relationship. But, hey, what could you expect from a pair like him and Max?

He heard a rustle from the bed, and quickly lowered the container.

"Alec..." Max murmured sleepily.

He turned his head and smiled at the sight of a sleepy Max in his bed. Her hair was tousled, and her eyes were heavy lidded as she stretched out a hand along the mattress, reaching for him.

"Mmmmm... thought I was the one with the shark DNA. Come back to bed."

Smile still on his face, Alec crawled back into bed, sliding in beside her. She burrowed in next to his side and sighed, eyes drifting closed again, too worn out for anything else.

Alec placed a soft kiss on the top of Max's head, then pulled her tighter to him and sighed happily. Facing White… two bullets to the chest... a coma? It was worth it.

The End

Inzane March 2007

A/N: It is finished! (Cue Ode to Joy in the background, please.) Hours and hours of lost sleep has finally come to fruition. I can breathe a sigh of relief now that I've finally gotten this story out of my head. Thanks to everyone who came along for the ride. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did. Please, please, please hit that review button and let me know.

Some funny things you might not know about this story:

First, it was meant to be a oneshot. I know, I know, over 84,000 thousand words, twelvechapters plus a prologue, and it was supposed to be a oneshot?!

(I will pause while you pick yourself up off the floor after falling out of your chair from laughter.)

Well, what can I say? I've always been an overachiever. It was all based on the part where Max kisses Alec in Endings and Beginnings and says if she knew it was that easy to shut him up, she would have done it a long time ago. Then I thought about why she would kiss him, what would make her realize her feelings, then I had to figure out how Alec got hurt in order to force her to realize her feelings, and then it just snowballed out of control.

And another thing…I was never going to write FUBAR. The prospect was too scary. Could I really write believable action? I didn't know. I was just going to have Alec show up shot and infer what happened, but then I thought, well, if I were reading this story, I'd be pissed that the writer left out the action. There's just not enough action stories out there. So I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did, because it's one of my favorite chapters.

In case you didn't notice, tried really, really hard not to make Logan the bad guy, or a complete ass. I did not want to turn this story into a Logan hatefest. I think he was in love with Max, and love can make you do strange, stupid things sometimes, especially when you think you're about to lose the person you love. I couldn't make Max hate him, either. This man was basically the first real love of her life, even if it was more of a warm fuzzy kind of love instead of blazing fireworks (I don't think Logan is capable of blazing fireworks…just my personal opinion). You can't just forget someone like that.

You know, I've become ridiculously attached to my boys, Dalton and Oscar. Since I'm not ready to cut the strings just yet, I am actually planning a short (and I mean it this time…I think) fic revolving around them before I try moving on to anything else. After I catch up on some sleep that is. Watch for it, or put me on your author alerts. ahem... shameless plug

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go collapse on my bed and pass out. For a month.