A/N: Well this is it everyone... I had originally written one last chapter but it was sooo long I ended up splitting it. Here is the conclusion. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read and review the story. Thank you for supporting me and encouraging me. I really appreciate every word and attention you've given to the fic. I love you guys!!
Alec made it to Logan's place in shortly less than twenty minutes, running the entire way. He was barely winded when he finally got there. Unfortunately his worry had plenty of time to take root. He just hoped he wasn't too late, for both Logan and Max.
Walking in, he headed straight for the living room. He had half expected to find Logan on the floor. Convulsing from the pain, his entire body covered in contusions from the deadly retrovirus, but the room was empty. Walking further into the house, he called out, "Max?" No one answered and he started to panic.
There was a small sniffle from further down the hallway and he approached the sound. He noticed Max sitting by a door to what could only be Logan's bedroom. Her face was buried in her arms and she hugged her legs trying to make herself as small as possible.
Reaching her, he kneeled on the floor beside her. "Max…" he said her name softly. He touched her shoulder and she finally raised her head to look at him.
When she finally realized who it was, she threw her arms around his neck desperately holding on to him. "Alec…" she moaned mournfully, and he braced himself for the desperation in her embrace. "Shhh…" he hugged her burying his hand in her soft hair.
"I didn't know what to do," she started weakly through her sobs. "I tried calling Dr Carr and then…but…" she moved back and looked into his eyes. His eyes reflected the worry she felt.
"Logan kept telling me to stop! I tried but all I could think of was you," she started to sob again and buried her face in his neck. She felt so weak from the heavy emotions that wracked her body. Now that Alec was there holding her, she felt like she could let go.
The guilt she felt deep down was so unbearable it was like she was falling apart. She finally told Logan to let her go and he had tried to reach out to her out of need. Now he was going to die all because of her.
She reached for his neck again and was clinging so hard Alec could barely move. He kissed the top of her head. Slipping his arm under her legs, he picked her up off the floor and brought her to the couch.
Now that Alec was seeing her in this state she was worried that he would get it all wrong. That he wouldn't understand why she was crying so much and think she was in love with Logan.
She just hated the situation Manticore put her in once again. She wanted to be free of the virus, not because she wanted to be with Logan but because she didn't want to hurt anyone anymore. All because of who she was. "I'm sorry Alec," she finally apologized and he sighed sadly at her apology.
"Max…You have nothing to be sorry for, least of all to me," he tried consoling her knowing how devastated she was. The last thing on his mind was the fact she was crying abundantly for another man she had claimed to have feelings for.
Looking towards the room, he noticed that Logan was lying on his bed. Logan was her friend and confidant long before he came into her life and he understood that. He never wanted her to feel like she had to choose one or the other. She had chosen him as her lover the one she wanted to be with. He never really figured she would stop being friends with Logan unless she chose to.
It was true there wasn't much friendship between him and Logan but no matter what he never wished this for him. To die in such a cruel fashion simply for touching the woman he loved.
"Maxie..." He looked back to her, "is he?" He was about to rise from the couch with her. "No…please I can't," she begged when she realized his intention. She shook her head and buried it deeper in his neck, tightening her arms around him. He felt her pain and respected her wishes. She averted her gaze from the open doorway. "I can't go to him…I'm too scared to see," she started to sob again and he cupped her face.
"I'll go…" he assured her. Getting up, he walked into the room.
Logan was lying on his bed waiting for the inevitable. When he heard Alec call for Max, he closed his eyes in misery. He waited with jealousy as Alec finally made it down the hall to kneel beside her. Logan truly despised him at that very moment. Alec was touching her and he was dying for doing so.
It was his own fault, in his blinding distressed anger he had reached out to her. It would now be the last time. How he figured it would have made a difference he would never know. She was in love with Alec and as much as he hated that it wasn't him, he couldn't hate her for making her choice.
He watched from the room as Alec picked Max up in his arms. The tenderness he extended towards her made Logan realize, he truly did love her after all. She clung to him for comfort, and he was astonished at how perfect they looked together. He had expected some curt words from Alec, especially after the way he had talked to him the day before. To his amazement there were no harsh words concerning him. Alec simply tried to consol her and shockingly extended concern for him.
Closing his eyes again Logan swallowed around the lump in his throat. He had been here before – Looking at them thinking they were an item. He had dealt with that fact already. Now that it was true, it was like he had to deal with it all over again, only something was different this time. A shroud of acceptance settled over him. After hearing how she truly felt for him, he knew he really had to let her go.
If he were to live now, he would swallow his pride and let her find happiness where he know knew she would be able to find it – With her kind. With Alec, the one and only man Logan had ever felt jealousy towards. No matter how much of an irresponsible rogue he seemed to be at times, he was always there for her. He realized it now. Deep down, he had always known Alec matched her in every way. That was why he had been scared into believing her lie in the first place. Now he found he didn't really hate either of them, he was just sad.
"Hey pal, how are you feeling?" Alec's deep voice asked with concern, taking him out of his epiphanous thought. When Logan looked at him his green eyes shone with worry and his face was sad.
Strangely, Logan didn't feel that bad. He had gone to his bed, thinking that was where he would rather be than to be strewn unceremoniously on the floor. Now that he was there, nothing had really changed.
"I don't know," he finally said and Alec frowned at him. Sitting beside him he reached to touch Logan's neck and felt his pulse. Alec was no medic but he had enough training to know what to look for. He raised his eyelids to examine his pupils and felt his forehead for a change in basal temperature. Finally he pulled his arm back and bit his lip looking back towards Max.
"How long ago you touch her?" he asked softly, for their ears alone. He didn't want to upset Max anymore than she already was.
"I don't know about a half hour ago," Logan said and then frowned himself. Usually he would have been convulsing within the first ten minutes from touching her. Something was wrong or more accurately something was off.
"Something weird is going on here," Alec pursed his lip and looked back towards the doorway where Max was sitting, still sniffling. Logan saw his eyes fill with concern for her but it passed through quickly as he turned back to face him. "Stay here…" he started then added. "It's not like you're really going anywhere are ya buddy?" he joked lightly and Logan simply stared back. "Right," he said crisply.
Alec walked out of the room and kneeled down in front of Max. "Max…you have to see this."
She stopped sniffling, stared into his unwavering gaze and shook her head.
"I don't know what's going on but he looks fine," he told her, looking back towards Logan. "It's like you guys never touched."
"What do you mean he's fine? He touched me Alec." She lifted her hand to show him, to prove it to him.
"Look Maxie I don't doubt what you're saying. What I mean is there's nothing wrong with him that I can see." She took a chance and finally looked back towards the bedroom where Logan was lying on his bed. "I don't understand…What does that mean?" she asked tentatively.
"I don't know what to tell you. Go look for yourself," he coaxed and she bit her lip. Rising, he reached out. She took his hand and he lifted her from the couch.
"I'm right here Max," he reassured, letting her know she wasn't dealing with it alone.
Walking timidly into the room with Alec's presence behind her, she stopped with a sigh of relief. Logan did look fine. He looked the same as this morning. Her heart leaped with joy and she finally smiled, "oh thank God Logan."
She walked closer to the bed. "I thought…" she started but didn't finish her thought and this time it was her turn to frown. "I don't get it Alec." She looked at him quizzically. "Why isn't he sick?"
Alec simply shrugged his shoulders and gave her an 'I don't know' look. He approached her and she hugged him. Instantly her anxiousness washed away. "I was so scared that…"
"It's okay," he soothed. Kissing her forehead, he brushed his hand through her long hair. "I know you were scared but there's nothing to worry about ok?" he said quietly and remembered Logan was sitting there watching them.
He cautiously watched Logan, expecting a demeaning remark for holding her or a full blown livid explosion. Instead his face was surprisingly devoid of emotions.
Logan watched the exchange of expressions and words in silence. He didn't even know what to make of it himself. He finally sat up in bed feeling completely embarrassed not to mention stupid for expecting his last moment to hit him and it didn't. Instead he was still there, very much alive, watching Alec comfort Max for almost losing him. That in itself spoke volumes about the kind of person he was and again Logan found Alec strangely fascinating in this new role.
Max looked up into Alec's face and asked him the question that hovered quietly in the air. "Am I cured?"
Alec didn't really know what to tell her. He was scared by this new revelation because it did open up a lot of possibilities. He just didn't want to jump to conclusions. Trying to keep any emotion from showing on his face he shrugged. "I don't know," he whispered and gave her a fierce hug. He was unsure about the entire incident and what it meant for her and Logan. What he did know was that he didn't want to lose her now that they just found each other.
"I'll call Sam," Logan finally spoke and Max drew away from Alec's embrace. She turned to look at Logan who was still speaking, "if this means what we all think it does then he'll need some of your blood just to make sure."
Max nodded her head in quiet agreement and walked away. She didn't know when she had taken Alec's hand but as she moved away, she waited until the last possible second to let go. Their fingertips touched lightly and she gave him one long glance. In silence, she walked out of the room.
Alec was left standing there with Logan. Looking at him quietly Alec tried to discern Logan's intentions and after a few moments left the room without a word.
Logan tried calling Dr. Carr but like Max had said he was unavailable. So instead he got a hold of Dr. Shankar, she was also aware of the virus. It was almost an hour before she came to the house and brought with her all the required equipment. The entire hour was filled with heavy tension. Neither of them dared say anything out of fear of saying the wrong thing and upsetting the other.
Max waited on the couch. Her eyes kept glancing between Alec who sat beside her to Logan who was slowly pacing the room.
Alec had tried reaching for her hand several times, to give her comfort, but then the fear that she would move away played around in his head. Instead he just sat there watching her.
Logan glanced between the two lovers on the couch and just kept pacing. He tried several times to say something but what could he possibly say at a time like this? Instead he watched the two of them pull away from each other and against his will felt a small bit of satisfaction.
When the Doctor arrived they all breathed a sigh of relief. Finally glad to have someone break the tension between them.
Logan and Alec watched quietly while the doctor drew Max's blood. She began working on her laptop and informed them it would be some time before she would get a definite answer. Slowly the tension in the room grew again and Max just couldn't take it anymore. Without a word she left through the back door.
Making it out in the bright sunlight she walked on the springy grass and finally sat on the ground crossing her legs. Using every ounce of willpower she kept herself from going back inside. This was it, she would either get what she had wanted for so long. – Peace of mind. Or she would simply continue with the every day fear of killing Logan if she touched him. The wait was killing her.
She sniffed and wiped the tears from her cheeks again. She didn't know when she started to cry anew and she didn't even know why.
Was it because everything was going to change? There would no longer be that barrier between her and Logan? Was it because of that hopeful trusting look he kept giving her? Or was it because Alec had slowly detached himself from her in the last hour and every time she looked at him she could see the unasked question in his eyes? Did he all of a sudden think she would take back her words and walk away from him? Did he have so little faith in her? She was worried and scared of what this could mean for everyone.
Everything had finally started to work out and fall into place. It had been so brief, now she suddenly wondered if it was too good to be true. Now she didn't know what to expect. She loved Alec with her entire being and there were no doubts in her emotions. She wanted to be with him and only him. As for Logan she knew now that all she would ever feel for him was friendship.
Logan had watched Max give her blood with a small amount of hope. Finally there would be something to look forward to. He wouldn't be with her but at least he would be able to touch her without worrying about dying. He watched quietly as Max then retreated outside. Without a sound Alec went to the basement. There were no outbursts of emotions, everything had simply gone silent. It was like feeling the calm before the storm. Sitting in the eye of the hurricane where everything was absolutely still and you knew something big was going to happen.
Alec had watched everything with uncertainty. Then seeing Max leave he wanted to go after her but he really didn't know what to say. With sadness he headed towards the basement and sat on the stairs, waiting.
He knew Max had wanted this for so long. Hell, he had even wanted it for her. Only now that they were together the absence of the virus would change so many things. He knew she loved him, he had felt the deep emotion himself. Deep down it was this insecurity that she had fallen for him because she couldn't be with Logan. Was he chosen out of default? This would answer his question. He didn't think he would be able to look either of them in the eye if she changed her mind now.
Still in deep thought, he sensed her before the creak of the stairs announced her presence. It was like smelling her unique scent, only instead he felt her. He didn't even have to look to confirm it, he just knew. Like he knew, if he was in a room full of people, he could probably close his eyes and point directly at her. He figured it had something to do with being intimate with her.
He had completely and utterly surrendered himself to her. She was now an imprint on his heart. She would forever be a part of his soul, an ethereal piece of him.
Max watched him from the doorway. She waited for a few moments and made her way down the stairs. Sitting beside him, she watched his profile and he turned slowly to look at her.
His eyes seemed tight and she slipped her hand in his. "This doesn't change anything…" she informed with a smile but to her disappointment he didn't return it.
There were no emotions on his face that she could read. He had completely reverted back behind the facade of a well trained soldier. Then his gaze returned to the empty space. It was where the piano used to be. The only indication he gave that he even heard her words was the tightening of his fingers around hers.
"Do you remember when I played that musical piece?" he finally asked in a low voice, avoiding the comment she just made.
She remembered. "Yes…" she nodded, "it was beautiful," she breathed the words softly. Turning, he looked at her and the green in his eyes was now overpowered by the gold in them.
"Do you know why I played it?" he asked softly and brought her hand closer, holding it in both of his.
She didn't know what to say and shook her head in answer. He looked back into her face and the mask completely withdrew. In its place was a look reserved only for her, love.
"Because… it's you," he said reverently and she felt her throat tighten from the passion in his voice. "It's always been you," he added and his hand reached for the side of her cheek. His fingertips lightly traced the contour of her face. "No matter what choices you make… or whatever happens in our lives Max it will always be you," he promised and leaned in. He kissed her delicately. At first his mouth brushed hers, then embraced her lips passionately as if for the last time and a tear slid on her cheek. She felt like he was letting her go.
His hand cupped her face and his thumb brushed her tear away. When he pulled back from her, she watched him, breathless. He examined her face with a calm yet intense gaze as if imprinting it to memory.
"I would stand time itself just to be with you," his whisper was low, but the emotions behind it made it powerful. At his words, more tears escaped, because she had asked herself that very same question. Now she knew when he played the piano that day it had been for her. Now that she truly understood the meaning, it was the most romantic thing she could have imagined anyone doing for her.
She was living her very own love story with him and she never wanted it to end. She wrapped her arms around his neck "Alec," she breathed his name in fear. He welcomed her and with need held her back.
"I'm not going anywhere," she whispered. "Nothing will change that, not even this virus." He didn't say anything in response to her words. He simply looked back to the ground.
Logan called out to them from the doorway. "Guys it's time." Hearing him they broke the embrace. Max looked back into his face one last time before getting up. She didn't say anything she couldn't because her throat was too tight. There was still too much doubt in his eyes and it hurt.
Finally the results were in and they all gathered around the Dr's laptop. She looked at each of them in turn and finally spoke up. "I tested it several times and the result is the same every time. There isn't a trace of the virus left, it's completely clean. It's like it was never there to begin with." She smiled and the three people facing her didn't even move, let alone smile and she frowned.
"You're cured Max," she said again hoping someone would move and show some type of life sign. Max turned to look first at Alec who watched her with a flat gaze and then Logan who was smiling. "I can't believe it!" she said excitedly and she hugged Logan out of happiness, finally she was able to touch him.
Logan caught off guard hugged her back in shock. He was truly touching her again. He didn't know why or how it happened but he wasn't going to question it. "It's finally happening," he heard himself say.
Alec watched them hugging and closed his eyes at the image. When he opened them again they were still holding each other. "I'm happy for you Max," he finally managed around the lump in his throat and turned around to leave them. He couldn't stand to look anymore it hurt too much.
Max heard him and let go of Logan. "Alec…" she said his name softly and he turned to face her. She approached him slowly and wrapped her arms around his waist. She looked up into his eyes, noticing they were shining with emotion. She didn't even have the words to convey what she wanted to say.
Instead she slid her arms up towards his shoulders and wrapped them around his neck, kissing him fiercely. Without a care that the Doctor and Logan were both staring at them, her lips gently caressed his and she whispered into the kiss, "I'm in love with you and only you." The doubt on his face slowly ebbed away and she smiled. "Because… it's you," she repeated his words and he closed his eyes with relief. Leaning his forehead against hers, he smiled that gorgeous smile, the one meant for her and only her.
She turned one last time to look at Logan. "I'll see you later… Thank you Doctor," she smiled swiftly and took Alec's hand. "Let's go home."
Alec started walking out of the room still holding Max's hand but Logan's voice stopped him, "Alec…"
When Alec turned to face him there was a quick flash in his eyes reflecting uncertainty but it was gone so quickly Logan believed he imagined it. There was a moment where blue eyes stared into green and they slowly both came to an understanding.
"Just take care of her," Logan said the same words he first told Alec, only this time he truly meant them.
"Always have," Alec grinned slowly but it wasn't superior it was simply in agreement.
That night Max and Alec escaped to their own little haven. They sat at the top of the space needle quietly watching the stars. Max sat between Alec's legs, leaning on his chest. His arms were wrapped around her, his body heat keeping her warm. She snuggled into him and sighed happily.
"I still don't know how I was cured," she thought out loud.
He remained silent for a moment and coming to a conclusion, finally spoke up, "I think it was the artifact. Remember when he said the Emperor was ill and that once he completed his journey his body was cleansed of all toxins?"
"You're right," she said in awe remembering. "I still can't believe how incredible everything is. I mean a small thing like that could do that?" she breathed in astonishment.
"Actually I'd believe that before I would believe the entire body swap," he laughed lightly and shook his head at the craziness of it all.
She paused trying to decide which she would believe first and stopped. If she hadn't experienced both she wouldn't have believed any of it. "I'm just happy it happened," she finally admitted. "It wasn't easy but it was worth it."
He tightened his arms around her and smiled at her words. "That's an understatement," he laughed lightly and wondered. "Would you do it again?"
She thought about it for a minute and laughed. "Only if you promise to give me a lap dance this time."
He rolled his eyes at her and groaned. "Only if you promise to give one back," he gave her a coy grin.
"That all depends," she purred and he laughed. "On what?" he asked with amusement.
"If you're a good boy or not," she teased and he chuckled. "I'm always good."
He seemed to wait for a reply but she was silent. After a moment of making him wait for her comment she finally agreed with a smile. "Yeah, I'll give you that one."
She looked up to see his eyes shining in the darkness. He shared her smile and she leaned back again. She looked up towards the sky and marveled. "Oh look at that," she pointed to a shooting star. "Make a wish," she said softly.
Leaning his head on hers he inhaled her scent and kissed her temple. "I already have everything I need," he whispered with a smile.
"Mr. McDowell I believe you've become a hopeless romantic," she remarked with a grin. "Cheesiness and all," she laughed and he rocked her. "No, I was already there. It's you Miss Guevara who's joined the ranks." This time he kissed the side of her neck and she giggled. Sliding her hands into his, he entwined them together.
It was a few moments and then they both looked up in unison. What had started as one shooting star suddenly filled the sky. Several began to move across the sky in a myriad of lights. "You think that means something?" she asked over her shoulder in concern.
"I don't know. I've never seen anything like it," he admitted and held her closer. "Maybe someone is looking out for us after all." She turned around to look at him and he kissed her lips softly. "I love you Max…forever"
Her heart fluttered again at how complete he made her feel. "I love you too Alec."
They were so completely mesmerized by each other they both failed to notice the small rune that slowly formed on her hand, followed slowly by several others…
A/N: Please review me it's your last chance! )
I hope you enjoyed it, I had a wonderful time writing it! So much that I already have a sequel ( Bound and Broken ) in the works so keep an eye out. :)
big hugs to all my faithful readers and reviewers!!