AN: Hey everyone, I know you all hate right now for not updating and I have no excuse. I've admit I've been getting lazy with updating but I have to blame studying for Surgical Tech for that. It's getting intense. Anyway, this is a four year time skip and Max is 13 and Alec is 14. In this chapter I wanted to show the bonding between Alec and Max and still have their childish side still in them. Alec has finally opened up and be himself in this chapter but he is still holding back. So with that said, I hope you guys will love what I have done and will continue to read it.

Enjoy


Four years later….

Max studied the thin and thick lines on the back of the sleeping figure's neck next to her. They sat just below the hair line of short dirty blonde that grew out from the military hair cut four years ago to a full grown mop of hair. A smile formed on Max's face as her eyes adverted to his head, remembering the times Alec would keep cutting his hair every time it would grow out, trying to keep the buzz cut. But it was her who got him to put down the scissor and let the blonde mane grow. It was her who got him to do a lot of things. So when her eyes went back to his barcode, her smile dropped.

331845739494

Also known as 494, X5, solider. It was forever engraved in her mind, along with the memories it carried with it. It was a number. He was a number, a product of Manticore to be trained and molded into an engineered soldier for the sake of war and a man's vision.

Whoever that was.

He was nothing there but a thing to be used and handled as such. And what Max thought hurt the most was that Lydecker was involved, still involved in Manticore.

It hurt to know that he was involved in a place that would take away a child, Alec, his brothers and sisters' innocence for their personal gain. It hurt and scared her that she was born to have that life and if it wasn't for her Father, she could have had the life Alec lived in, if only for ten years. He saved her from that life. And now, now that Alec had escape from Manticore and came into their, her life, she could save him too.

The smile on her face returned.

Her Father always said that she was the one who's suppose to save and protect people and others like herself, Joshua, and Issac. By saving Alec then she knows she is capable of doing what she was trained to do. Giving him his innocence, a life, would save Alec from his corrupted one. Max would be giving him back Alec, a name, a person, a human being. Someone, who after four years getting to know would be getting his personality back… and after four years, she successfully brought out Alec, at least as much as him as she could. And after knowing what she knows about him, his name and personality perceives him.

She thought of this every time she would look at his barcode. A reminder of what happened in his life and what it stood for. No more will he be 494 but Alec. He deserved that much. And Max was happy with his progress, returning him into Alec.

The sound of him moaning, slowly waking up, pulled her out of her musing. He was lying on his stomach, his hands tucked under his head like a pillow, facing away from her. He moved a little, his hands and forearms moving under the pillow as he buried his face in the blue cloth taking in a deep breath. Max let out a small laugh as he returned to the way he was before but with his arms still under the pillow.

She loved to watch him sleep. The way he's at peace within him self, comfortable in his bed, sleeping as if he has never slept a day in his life. And what he had told her about his early and late hours schedule back at Manticore she could believe that statement could be true. Making up for the extra hours missed. Watching him wake up was another story. Just being here, next to him, hearing the sounds he made as he slowly got him self up was always a joy to watch. What made it even better was when she closely leaned over him, her mouth over his ear and say:

"Good morning solider."

Seeing the smile formed on his face was pleasing and welcoming. It was real and true. And if his eyes were opened, he would be smiling with them as well. Max leaned back as he started to turn his head toward her with his smile still on and opened his eyes lightly, revealing his green eyes. And if one looked hard enough and if the sun's rays shined at the right moment, one could see the speck of gold in his lovely greens.

"Good morning Max," he said through a lazy smile.

All Max could do in return was smile as she watched him push him self up and stretch like the cat he was and sat up on his knees. He wiped the rest of the sleep from his eyes and turned his attention to the window of his room.

"Morning already," he simply stated before turning his head towards Max again. "And you're still here, in my room. Don't you have your own room," he asked teasingly.

"What can I say," Max shrugged. "Su cuarto es mi cuarto." (Translate into your room is my room)

"Oh really…well in that case you can have my room and I can just have yours, so then I won't have to put up with the sun early in the morning."

"Or next time when you fall asleep on me, I could just move your body on this side," she said referring to her side of the bed. "And I could take your side so you won't have to put up with the sun early in the morning."

Alec nodded before crawling up the head of the bed to sit shoulder to shoulder next to Max, both leaning against the bed post. Max looked up at Alec's face seeing the change in expression there. He looked serious, thinking of the right words to say as he bit down on his lower lip.

"Listen Max, about last night…I didn't mean to fall asleep on you. I know how much you wanted to…."

"Alec, it's okay, really. I'm use to it," she interrupted. "Don't worry about it."

He was referring to their routinely bedroom talks. Started that night they decided to form a friendship. Every other night, Max would sneak into his room and they would talk for hours about anything. Books, training, life, Manticore, just about anything they could think of. Of course it would be Max to start the conversation unless something was on Alec's mind then he would start but typically it was her. And it would be her at the end because Alec would fall asleep, but she couldn't hold a grudge for every time he fell asleep on her. Besides, they shared enough for Max to get use to him sleeping on her and her watching him sleep. So it's no big deal.

"I mean no one's blessed with your unique shark DNA," Alec added and also, behind it, trying to break the awkwardness.

"True…but there is Jondy."

Alec nod in agreement and they both let out a laugh. Soon silence fell between them after their laughter died out.

"So, what do you have plan for us today coach," Max asked breaking the silent.

"I don't know. I mean you're pretty much doing well in your training. What do you want to do?"

"You're asking me," Max asked in disbelief.

"Yeah," he shrugged. "Why not. You get to pick what we have to do today. Say it's like I'm making you trainer for the day," he smiled.

"Trainer for the day…wow I'm honored. What's the catch," Max asked, squinting her eyes and eyeing Alec suspiciously.

"No catch…just a simple role switch between trainer and trainee. Like I said, you're catching on quick and doing great. Why not give you the chance to show your trainer what you got. Besides, I wouldn't mind returning back to a soldier in training just this once. I'm sure it'll be entertaining," he said biting his bottom lips again to keep the smile on his face from spreading even further.

Max's eyes squinted deeper. Reading all too well what Alec was trying to hold back through his smile…cockiness.

"You don't think I can do it?"

"No, I'm sure you can. It's just…it'll be fun to see what you'll come up with is all."

"You don't think I can do it," Max asked again but this time stating the question. "I can, you'll see."

"Yeah," Alec nodded with a frown but his smile returned.

"I'll be the best trainer you ever had, just you wait. You won't be smiling once I'm done with you."

Alec kept on nodding and smiling as Max glared and frowned at him. Their eyes adverted from each other hearing a noise outside the door and they both got out of the bed to go investigate what was the cause of it. Their childish teasing forgotten as they put on a serious face and stepped out Alec's bedroom only to step back in once they almost got ran over by a stack of boxes with legs. Once the stack turned the corner, Max and Alec could see the legs had belonged to Issac and he was carrying the boxes outside to one of the cabin/ made shift garage. Alec frowned at the young dog boy rudeness but he was pulled from looking at Issac once he felt Max pulled him back against the wall once another stack of boxes with legs came walking by.

"Out of the way," Joshua voiced said behind a set of boxes.

"Hey Joshua hold up," Alec said stopping Joshua before he passed. "Let me help you out there." Alec removed one of the boxes Joshua was carrying to reveal the eighteen year old before placing the box on the floor. "What's going on?"

"Recruiting day, Father issued one," Joshua said putting his box on the floor as well.

"Recruiting day," Alec asked.

"It's where Father hires someone for his cause," Max answered.

"Yeah and he's having me and Issac remove boxes into the garage from his study to make room. Meanwhile, we're supposed to stay in the garage until his meeting is over with. I was thinking about cleaning it up anyways," Joshua said indifferently.

"I might give you a hand. I was planning on fixing up that old bike in there after training with Max," Alec stated.

"Suit yourself, but Max, Father wants you around when the new guy shows up. Said something about getting new clothes, I don't know."

"New clothes, what's wrong with the ones I got now," Max frowned.

"Like I said I don't know," Joshua said irritated.

He let out a sigh and picked up the boxes from the floor.

"Now if you two don't mind, I would like to get an early start before the new guy shows up."

With that said Joshua turned the corner and walked out the door.

……….

Max and Alec were on the porch of the cabin waiting for the new guy. They had already eaten breakfast, bathed, and got dress but now they waited. Sandeman didn't say anything about the guy coming to meet them other then to say he was a cop. Also to say that there was someone else coming with him and that's why Sandeman wanted Max around. For what, they didn't know but Max had to be around for the other guest joining the cop. He didn't say what Alec's role was when their guests arrive but Alec already said he had planned on fixing up a bike and cleaning up in the garage, so they really didn't question him on that or anything else.

So they waited, with Alec breaking a twig in sections leaning against the porch's rail beside Max, whose back was up against the rail and scuffing her right foot on the wooden floor.

It wasn't long before their ears picked up on foot steps heading their way and Jeff and Tom coming out to greet and direct the cop and the other entry. Looking towards the path where it split the surrounding forest in half, a man, look to be in his late forties, and a girl, in her teens, appeared from the woods. Like a cop, he wore his uniform. Nicely pressed brown t-shirt with a badge and the town's name on the sleeve, with brown pants with a belt carrying his gun, pepper spray, and notepad, a traditional officer of the law before the Post. The teen with him wore a blue jean skirt, down to mid-thigh and a pink t-shirt. Her brunette hair was pulled in a pony tail with a bang slanted to the side behind her ear. She had sunglasses on and carried a bag with her as they neared the cabin.

Alec studied the cop as he made his way up the porch. His walk, the way he carried himself, his entire profile before the cop was stopped by Tom and Jeff to be padded down and searched. His eyes zoomed in on his name tag to read Tatum on it and then looking over at Max to see she was doing the same. He really didn't pay the teen any attention. She wasn't considered a threat in his book. The cop, Officer Tatum, with his thumbs tucked in his fists, shoulders squared, and chest popped out, would be considered a threat, at least that's what his instinct was telling him until he was deemed otherwise.

The door of the cabin opened and Alec was pulled out of his studying to see Sandeman standing in the doorway.

"Officer Tatum, it's so nice to finally meet you in person. I'm sure you could understand why I had you searched. A man could never be too safe."

"No I completely understand. I have a family of my own to protect too. I sure hoped it was okay that I brought my daughter along. I'm stuck with her until her mother gets home," Tatum said looking at his daughter. "She's been in some trouble lately so we have to watch her."

"No it's no problem. I too have teens of my own," Sandeman also looked to Max and then to Alec.

"I have the clothes here for you to give to Max," he pointed to his daughter who gave the big trash bag to her father. "I hope they fit."

"I'm sure they will. Now if you don't mind I would like to get down to business."

"Of course," Tatum said making his way up the porch's stairs.

Jeff and Tom followed behind him as they followed Sandeman in. Before Tatum could get any further in, he was stopped by Alec.

"What branch of the military were you in," Alec asked.

"Excuse me," Tatum frowned.

"What part of the military were you in?"

There was a pause before the officer answered. "The Marines."

Tatum was going to asked how the teen knew he was military but Sandeman interrupted him.

"Peter please, come in."

Still a little puzzled on the question asked by the teenage boy, he shook his head from it for later and looked to his daughter.

"Jesse," he turned. "Stay out here with Max and don't be any trouble, you hear me?"

"Yeah, whatever dad," Jesse said crossing her arms over her chest.

As the grown ups went inside it was left with the three teens outside. Max and Alec looked at Jesse as she settled herself down on the stairs.

"Finally," she said lifting her sunglasses on top of her head, revealing her brown eyes.

It was quiet between them as Jesse looked to be sun bathing on the stairs while Max and Alec went back to their original position on the rail. After awhile Alec stood up from the rail and jumped over it.

"Well, see you later Max, have fun."

"Wait, you're leaving me?"

"Yeah, I have other things to tend to remember. Besides I wasn't needed. I'll see you later okay."

He mouthed the words good luck before running to the cabin/garage and going inside. Max scoffed before turning to look at Jesse who was looking at her. She put up a welcoming smile before leaning back on the rail again letting another silence setting between them.

"So you're name is Max, right."

"Yeah," Max said. Glad it was Jesse who initiated the conversation between them.

To be honest, Max didn't know what to say to Jesse. Normally she would be the one initiating conversation, but with Jesse it was different. She wasn't like her or others her Father recruits. No military background, no Manticore connection, no science connection, not anything to bring up a conversation starter. Plus she wasn't sure how much Jesse knew about what's been going on here. Why her father was here to be recruited in her Father's crusade, as Joshua would put it. Jesse was…well, she was normal and such a girl. Max thought as she watched as Jesse pulled out a mirror from her purse and lip gloss. Not even Dr. Karen was this much of a girl, she thought.

She guessed this was probably why it was hard to start a conversation with her. Granted she's not much of a girl herself. She lives in a cabin full of guys for crying out loud, nothing girly around here. Dr. Karen was an exception because when ever she comes for routine check-ups she would bring a magazine or book or two for her to have that would have some mention of girly things but that was about it.

There was that one time when Karen brought me cherry flavored lip bum with a journal as a present for my tenth birthday. I liked that and that's the only girl-like item I have and uses, she thought again.

Besides, they had nothing in common.

Even down to the clothes they wore. Like everything around here, Max clothes were more on the boy's side. Baggy pants, sneakers, sort of girly shirts, again thanks to Karen, but that was about it. Looking at Jesse, with her mini skirt and tight shirt, Max doesn't think she could ever wear something like that. Though she did take a peek inside the bag she was given and it looked to be "Jesse's wear". Maybe this was why her Father wanted her to stick around and stay with Jesse, looked to her as a guide to be more like a girl. It seems like something her Father would do. It would be interesting.

Learn from her like she does everybody else. Like a book with new information for her to learn. Everyone, to her, was like a book. Her Father, Joshua, and Issac gave her the information she would need to know about family, sibling-ship, and parent-children relationship. Dr. Karen, though she wasn't here all the time, gave her the sense of how a mother would be like, caring and gentle. Also the information she needed about medicine. A little she could get science from both her Father and Karen. Both Lydecker and Alec gave her the military information and tactics. Though Alec seemed to be a book of his own, still being written as she learn from him and having their friendship grow.

But Max felt as if there is something more she could learn from him.

Anyway, that aside, she learned from everybody, more so then books alone. So Max guess she could figure something out to say to Jesse that would spark a conversation between them. So with that in mind she turned to the said girl and asked:

"So what flavor lip bum is that?"

……….

Alec stood back from his work, so far, to look at the skeleton of the bike he's been working on since last year. Granted it took him some time to find parts to go to it since the motorcycle was in rubbles when he found it, but now it was actually looking decent. Most of the bike's pieces were still missing but that was beside the point. He finally had something to call his own here. He built it from scratch and now…now he's anticipating the final product, if he could find any exoskeleton for his baby. He smiled thinking about the bike as a whole. A Kawasaki Ninja 650R with metallic diablo black high-tensile steel frames, 120/70-17 tires, and nothing but the sound of it purring as it came to life. At least that's how it looked in a motorcycle magazine he saw one of Sandeman's men reading.

Seeing that there was nothing else he could do for the bike until he could get more parts, he stopped to see Joshua and Issac working diligently on the garage.

"You guys need any help," Alec asked looking inside a box.

"No," Issac snapped.

Alec just ignored the seventeen year old and pulled out an old book from one of the boxes in front of him. He blew off the dust collected on it and fanned it away from his face. As the dust cleared, he read the title.

"Hypnosis for the Unconscious Mind…what kind of study is your Father into," Alec asked no one in particular.

"Nothing you should be worrying your pretty little head about. Besides, shouldn't you be hanging out with your own kind," Issac retorted again.

"You know that's nice of you to say Issac. I'm not sure if I should thank you or scratch you behind your ears," he said sarcastically.

Issac scoffed as he went back to work on emptying boxes and cleaning the garage. They all did. Working silently together even though Issac was a little more stand-offish when Alec was around. Joshua was in his own little world, not really paying any attention to his work or surrounding. Alec noticed this from the guy the moment he stepped into the room. He wasn't acting like himself not even when Max and he talked to Joshua this morning. Something was wrong.

Joshua went to remove an empty box when he hit another one and it was plummeting towards sheet covered furniture below it. If Alec hadn't gotten there in time then everything in the box would have fallen out and have gone everywhere. Not to mention what was under the sheet could have sustain damage as well.

"You're alright there Joshua, you seem quiet. Also a little tense this morning," Alec asked putting the box on the floor and reading into the tall man's demeanor.

"Yeah. I just got a lot on my mind."

"Like what," Alec inquired with a raised eyebrow.

"People…about what they think and how they react when they see me, us," he said pointing to Issac, who was still cleaning up but was listening with perked up ears.

Alec frowned at the statement.

"People are afraid of what they don't understand Alec, and Issac and I are living proof of that," Joshua voiced. "I've been dealing with this for nine years and it doesn't get old. Father hires someone and we have to deal with the shock, the fright in their eyes, the side glances, everything. I, for once, would like to meet someone without the fear of what they'll think of me or have to be kicked out of my own house until Father explain the situation to them. I would like to be the one they first meet and don't have to worry about the fear. That's all I want."

"Have you told Sandeman about this," Alec asked, not knowing what else to ask.

"Why bother, it's not going to change anything. No I just have to deal with it as always."

Alec looked away from the brooding teen, picking up the box he put on the floor and opening it to empty out its contents.

Sorry he said in his head. He wanted to say it out load but his voice wouldn't work. It seemed to always happen to him when the time called for him to say what he truly felt.

It gets stuck in his throat. He cleared his throat as if to force the words to come up and slip pass his lips but it wasn't working. So he continued what he was doing.

"You and Max have it easy. You look normal, you look like them."

"Yeah," Alec half laughed. "Well looks can be misleading. I don't feel normal nor do I want to be normal. I'm okay being a transhuman. I'll take being an engineered soldier over normal any day."

"You're just trying to make me feel better," Joshua said rubbing his hands over his face.

"Is it working?"

Joshua tsked then let out a laugh. Alec laughed with him, glad to be out of the awkward conversation in the first place but still couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. He was one of the people Joshua was referring to as being afraid of him. And he's right; you don't understand until you lived with him for four years and get to know the guy. But that's only him, a friend and a former Manticore's resident. People still won't understand the dog boy or his brother. They would only be monsters or anomalies.

Pushing the thought aside, Alec continued to empty out his box he was working on. Once it was emptied, he placed the box on the sheet covered furniture and was surprised when the furniture made a sound. Curious and confused at this, he removed the box and then the sheet to reveal an old wooden piano. His hand glided over the keys, listening to the sound go from low to high.

"Its father's old piano. He doesn't use it anymore, not since before Max arrived," Joshua answered the frowning teen playing with the keys.

He admit it, it was new to him. Manticore never had any kind of form of instruments on the premises unless you call an assault rifle one, since it did make sounds. He remembered when he and his unit were younger; they were put into a room and watched pictures of people on the screen from the projector. There were some pictures of people playing different types of instruments, enjoying themselves, some focusing on the next note to play, some just holding the instruments. Never had he heard or touched one up close.

Again his hand went across the keys. Looking away from the keys his eyes moved up to see two booklets standing on the piano's own personal, built in music sheet stand. Alec grabbed both and pulled out the stool from under the piano and sat down. The first book was a book for beginners. Showing the individual keys with their appropriate note and further into the book, easy music to play. He eyed through the pages of the first book, looking through it thoroughly until he was through with it and placed it on the stool beside him. He then looked through the second one; this one with more advanced music, and placed it on the stool as well.

He processed the notes to each keys in his head, remembering their position on the keyboard and on the music scale. He also remembered each individual sound as he played the keys down the keyboard. It was interesting to him. Something he could learn more about while he played around with it. It could be another little project for him for when he was not doing anything after training with Max or fixing the bike. Something to keep him preoccupied.

Joshua smiled at the younger teen engrossed into the piano instead of helping cleaning up the garage, too far gone to realize that there was work to be done.

…………

Jesse stopped mid-sentence to hear the noises coming out of the cabin beside them. She frowned hearing the sound of music and several movements going on inside that she couldn't help but stop to listen. Max was now sited next to the brunette also listening to the sounds.

"Who is that," Jesse asked, frown deepening.

Max's eyes zoomed in through the window of the cabin to see Alec playing with the old piano inside while Issac and Joshua still cleaned up.

"It's just Alec with my brothers, Joshua and Issac," Max answered.

Jesse looked to seem like she was going to say something else but a ringing in her purse stopped her. Holding that note, she dug inside her purse to pull out her cell phone. Max looked on with Jesse as she flipped the phone open and a picture of a blonde head girl with numbers at the bottom was displayed. Jesse pressed the "Talk" button and answered.

"Hello"

Max listened in on the conversation.

"Jesse where are you? I stopped by your house and you weren't there."

Jesse tsked and rolled her eyes as she stood up. "I'm with my dad over some guy's cabin. Something for his work, I don't know, why?"

"You won't believe whose throwing a party tonight," said the blonde on the other end, excitedly.

"By the sound of your voice I think I have an idea. Is it Dylan Warren?"

A loud squeal came from the phone which had Max and Jesse flinching from the sound. After it had died out, Jesse put on a smile and put her ear back on the phone.

"OMG he is so cute."

"I know and I got the coordinates of where it's going to be held. It's at the pond by Roger's Lane."

"Oh man, I bet it's going to be sweet, but I can't go."

"Why not?"

"I'm grounded, can't you believe that?"

"So, sneak out like you did last time. You have to be there. Now that Dylan available you know Lynn is going to be all over him."

"I know…I'll think of something."

As the conversation went to a dramatic turn of fashion and "slut" in turn from the conversation starting off about how to sneak out and meeting somewhere, Max tuned out of the conversation. This "party" seemed like a big thing to them. It was the "party of the year" of some sort and every young people in town were going to try to get entry in. Max really didn't get what's the big deal was about but her curiosity was buzzing.

Curious of what the fuss was about this party and who were all the young people they were talking about. Plus, this new topic in their conversation about the type of guys they like and this Dylan Warren being one of them.

I didn't know guys come in types Max thought. Granted she have guys in her life as family members and friends, if that was what they meant by types of guys then this Dylan Warren sound likes a friend to her. Either way, the conversation and the talk about the party and young people had Max thinking she would like to go to Dylan's "party of the year" party.

Her ears went back to listening just when Jesse and her friend were ending their conversation. Jesse hung up her phone and put it back in her purse and walked back to the sitting Max who put a smile on her face as a sign of welcoming the sixteen year old back.

"Sorry about that," Jesse said sitting back down next to Max. "So where were we?"

"We were talking about our friends," Max offered.

"Oh right…that. Well like I was saying…"

Max was listening and half listening, thinking about that party again. She has never really been to someone else's party before. Besides her family and friends' annual birthday celebration but that didn't seem like "the party". This one sounded exciting and, like Jesse said, every young people in town would want to try to get in. It'll be fun to see how the other half, her human half at least, socialized like. She could learn to blend in the crowd instead wonder what it's like from stories or Real Life in the magazines.

Her Father wanted her to learn from Jesse, right? And what's a great way to do that then to go to the party and learn the girly ways of things, learn how to interact with these people she's suppose to protect, and well…blend in. It'll be a great learning experiences and she bet Alec would like to learn from it as well.

"Jesse," Max voiced interrupting the brunette. "If you mind me asking, I didn't mean to eavesdrop but this party you're planning on going to. Is it open for anyone to come?'

Jesse seemed to frown from the question until she replaced it with a smile.

"You're interested in going."

Max nodded.

"I could see what I can do."

And there it was her opportunity… a chance to see for her self the outside world, and hopefully Alec too. All there was left to do was to persuade Alec into coming with her…and the part about getting there.

Tbc….


AN: Do you like? Please read and review.