Author's Note: Okay, kiddos, this is it… Last chapter :) It's been fun. And thanks for
sticking around for the end of this (I knew it took me too long). Your positive feedback
has really meant a lot. Now before I get all misty-eyed ;) … Let me also say, that I heard
the disturbing news about DA's future. And when I haven't been busy ranting about
FOX and planning to boycott any new show it plans to put in DA's place, I've been
vowing not to let a little thing like there not being a show anymore :p to interfere with my
interest in the fandom. I still plan to write DA fanfic…and I hope you all will still
continue to read.

A/A/N: Oh…and as you may have guessed, I decided not to go with the Syl/Logan
storyline I had originally planned for this story. Just couldn't find anywhere to fit it in.
But don't worry, they'll be back in a sequel :) As will the other X5s. I actually have
quite a few ideas for them. Just make sure you review so I know whether or not to bother

Yet A/A/N: Thanks for betaing this Kiki! :)

**** ****

An Emergency Change of Command, Chapter 20
by pari106

[Disclaimer, etc, found in chapter one.]

Jondy had just left little Max, fully diapered, with her mother when Krit stormed through
the front door, complete with a sad little puppy-dog look on his face.

Krit was the only X5 male who could ever successfully pull off the sad little puppy-dog

Jondy smiled. "Let me guess…he with the super-fast reflexes has just been thwarted, in
his quest for revenge, by he with the slightly faster super-fast reflexes." At the dark
look thrown her way, Jondy only smiled more brightly.

And Krit sighed, standing his rifle up by the door. "Zane cheats," he whined, hobbling
into the kitchen. Jondy eyed the weapon, bit her lip, and followed. "Uh…yeah."

Then she became more serious, however. "Come on, Krit, let it go. I bet you can't even
remember why you were mad at him in the first place," she said.

But Krit gave her a look, and didn't respond, although (if possible) he scowled even
more. Then he pulled his t-shirt off, wadding it into a ball, and tossing it into the trash.
Jondy got an eyeful of perfectly tanned, perfectly toned, upper torso before the stench of
the discarded shirt hit her, taking her mind off her eyes and onto her nose. Which
scrunched in displeasure.

"Oh, I remember," Krit deadpanned.

Then he hobbled towards the stairway and the upstairs bathroom. Those stairs were
gonna be a bitch. Krit grimaced.

"I need a shower," he said.

Jondy couldn't argue with that. And she realized that it was perverse, taking so much
pleasure in what she said next…

But she took pleasure in it anyhow.

"Oh, you might want to hold off on that," she told Krit. "I think Jace is giving Max a
bath. But I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you helped…"

Oh, what fun.

But then a look of such horror crossed Krit's face (at the mention of little Max) that
Jondy took pity on the poor soul.

Her grin widened yet again.

Then she grabbed his arm and threw it over her shoulders, helping Krit towards the door.

"Come on, you can bathe in the lake out back."

"Thanks, sis."

**** ****

"So that's the little secret everybody's been keeping."

Brin turned the thought over in her head a few times… And decided that she liked it.

Then she smiled. "Zack and Max…wow."

"Are you okay with that?" Zane asked.

He hadn't been sure how everyone would react to the idea when he first presented it. Not
that it would change his own mind if anyone disapproved. So far no one did. Syl didn't
seem too happy about it… And Zane had to wonder why. But other than that, everyone
seemed good to go with his plan to get Max and Zack together. Now they only had to put
that plan into action. A few hints here…a little sisterly and/or brotherly advice there…
And then a sudden, surprise trip into town for everyone but the couple in question,
leaving them alone in the cabin, with only a bottle of wine, the fireplace, and a view of
the sunset for company. Perfect.

If only Krit would stop being an ass and let Zane do his job.

Brin spoke, bringing Zane out of his thoughts.

"Of course not. I think it's awesome! Who'd have thought, huh?"

Zane threw a grin over his shoulder. "Yeah."

"But do we really have to creep in through the woods like this?" he heard Brin ask.

Zane pushed through some brush, holding back some limbs so that Brin could crawl
through as he followed.

"You can never tell how long it'll take for Krit to cool off once he's really pissed," Zane
explained. "And he won't be expecting us this way."

Zane caught Brin shaking her head. "You babies," she scorned.

"Hey…the walk will do us good, anyhow," he insisted. "What better way to catch up
than by taking a nice stroll through the countryside."

Zane's excuse was punctuated by the sound of his boot coming down on an unpleasant-
looking snake's head, just as it was about to strike.

A "nice stroll through the countryside" indeed.

Brin rolled her eyes.

**** ****

"We're almost there," Zane, taking the lead once again, told Brin. He'd left his truck on
a narrow dirt road only he knew about, about a click west of the cabin. The path he and
Brin had chosen to take home ended behind the cabin, slightly before and to the
side of the lake.

"How do you know?" Brin teased. "Do you make a habit of crawling around in
the…Zane, watch out!"

But his sister's warning came too late, and Zane cleared the woods…running straight into

Krit smiled. "Did you misplace your truck, Zane?" he asked, clamping a hand down on
his brother's shoulder.

Zane swallowed. "Krit…uh…" He saw Brin, peripherally, come out of the woods
behind him, and thought quickly. Then he smiled, as well.

"Actually, Brin and I were just looking for Flu…"

But he hadn't thought quickly enough.

There, standing behind Krit, was Jondy. And Fluffy. Wagging happily, damn it.
(Fluffy…not Jondy). Jondy was smiling like the cat that ate the canary. Or that was
watching the canary about to be eaten, rather.

'Traitors,' Zane thought grumpily, for not the first time.

"You mean this Fluffy," Krit asked, motioning to the dog with a raised eyebrow.

Then all hell began to break loose.

Zane, Krit, and Jondy all spoke at once.

"You and I have some unfinished bu…"

"Listen, man, I really didn't mean to…"

"Oh, come on, Krit let it…"

And all three stopped speaking at once, as Brin suddenly cried out behind them.

"Oh…my…God," she said. Which made the other X5s stop, turn, and stare in the same
direction as she was. For a moment…they all just blinked. And then:

Jondy's hands flew over her mouth as she grinned.

Zane flinched, looking suddenly away. "My eyes!" he exclaimed.

And Krit's jaw dropped. "Is that…"

Jondy laughed, shaking her head in disbelief even as she confirmed what they were
seeing as true. "Yep."

"Are they…"

"Oh, yeah. Definitely."

Then they and Brin all burst into laughter.

Zane, still facing the other direction, shook his head and grinned a wide grin. "And to
think, we didn't even have to do anything," he wondered aloud.

"Thank the Blue Lady for that," Jondy mumbled, taking her eyes off of her brother and
sister's… "activities" …to kneel down and pat Fluffy. She threw a look at Brin and the
men, then turned to head back for the cabin, leaving Max and Zack in relative privacy.

Krit slapped Zane on the back, companionably, and Zane glanced at him in surprise.

"Good job, bro," Krit said with a laugh.

"Does that mean we're okay now?" Zane asked.

Krit threw an arm over his shoulder and shrugged. "Eh…" Then he fingered something
in his pocket. Zane suddenly jumped as something, something just loud enough for an
X5 to hear at their distance, went "boom".

"Now we're okay," Krit informed him merrily.

"You blew up my truck!" Zane exclaimed.

Brin's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She looked at Krit. "You blew up his truck?"

"Nah…" Krit's eyes gleamed. "Just half of it." The cab of the truck was probably still
intact. Not that he'd ever intended, when he'd put that explosive on there – before going
after his rifle – of detonating it while anyone was nearby. But just to have been safe…

Then Krit noticed there was something not *quite* right about Zane's reaction to his

He didn't look mad.

Well, yeah, there for a moment he had. But now… Zane and Brin exchanged a look.
And Krit got a bad feeling about that look.

"What?" he asked.

Zane bit his lip. 'Oh, boy…' "Well, remember how I told all you guys you could leave
your bedrolls in the back of my trunk until I cleaned a space out in the upstairs closet?"
he asked in response. 'Remember how I was supposed to take those bedrolls out…but
didn't,' remained unspoken but understood.

There was silence. During which Krit blinked.

And then...

"Zane!" he yelled, eyes angry yet again.

But before Krit could do anything, Brin swooped in to Zane's rescue once more.

"Zane, go!" she ordered, and Zane didn't have to be told twice. He took off for the cabin.

Meanwhile, Brin grabbed Krit by the arm when he would have taken pursuit. She turned
him to face her.

"Brin, stay out of…"

But Krit never finished his sentence. Because Brin, at a loss at how to stall him, did the
only thing – under the circumstances – that she could think to do. Inspired by Max and
Zack, she reached up, grabbed Krit by the head…and kissed him.

When they pulled apart, there was absolute silence.

Krit was, in a word, stunned. He actually stuttered.


But Brin, if possible, was even more stunned than he was. And, wide-eyed, she stood
there for just a moment. And then she bolted, like a nervous squirrel hot on the trail of
one huge acorn.

Krit just stood there, floored.

And, finally, he touched his lips as if he didn't know what had hit him.

**** ****

Max stood by her bike, strapping down her gear. What little of it there was left, anyhow.
Inside the cabin, her brothers and sisters were having one last breakfast together, ready to
head back home, wherever home was for each of them. U

Max had already said her good-byes to everyone. Or mostly everyone. But she had one
last thing to do first.

Walking up the porch, she met Zack as he was coming out the front door.

"You about to head out?" he asked, placing his hands on her hips. Max leaned into him
and wrapped her arms around his neck. She smiled.

"Yeah. I won't be long."

Zack nodded. Then he grinned.

"I'd tell you to tell him hello for me…"

Max rolled her eyes. "But you don't wanna ruin that tough guy image of yours, huh?"
she teased.

"What very little of it I have left."

Zack looked back over his shoulder. Krit, Jondy, and Jace were sitting on the couch in
front of the window directly behind Max and Zack. They were each sitting suspiciously
still, eyes forward. As if they hadn't been spying on their brother and sister. The only
other person on the couch, and the only one who didn't know better than to cover up for
said spying, was little Max. Jace had her over her shoulder, and Max pressed her baby
face against the windowpane. When she saw Zack and her Aunt Max looking at her, she
giggled happily and babbled loudly.

Max, and even Zack, laughed.

"I've lost all authority," Zack moaned, with such a serious and somber expressed that
Max laughed all the more.

"That's because you gave it all to Zane," Max played.

"Yeah, I'll have to do something about that."

Max kissed Zack to take a little bit of his scowl away, and was successful.

"Be right back," she promised.

The look on Zack's face, as they parted, was all the motivation Max needed to hurry.
Even if they did have an audience during the kiss. Which was all too reminiscent of the
fiasco with the lake. Max was still just as mortified as she'd been the moment she
learned that Zane, Brin, Jondy, and Krit had caught her and Zack out there.

"Zane!" Max heard Zack calling as he re-entered the cabin and she reached her bike. She

**** ****

He picked up on the third ring.

And Max, using the phone that Krit had used days ago to call Zane, and that Zane had
used days before that to call Krit, heard Logan's "Yeah" with a grin.

"Miss me?" she asked.

On the other end of the line, Logan stilled, having been in the middle of shuffling through
the file in his hands. He was standing in his computer room.


"Were you expecting someone else?"

Max's upbeat mood was apparent, even over the phone, and Logan felt as though a
weight had lifted – one he hadn't even realized had been on his shoulders, though he had
been worried about Max. It had been days, after all, since she, Krit, and Syl had left for
Zane's, looking miserable.

"I wasn't expecting you," he said. "But I'm glad you called. I take it everything's

"Copesetic," Max replied.

"And Zack?"

Max grinned. And her answer made Logan grin, as well. "We're just fine."

*We're just fine*. Not 'Zack is just fine.' The message, subtle as it was, was clear.

'Well, what do you know?' Logan thought. He was happy for Max, but his smile was just the slightest bit wistful.

"Except for one thing," Max suddenly continued.


"There's just this one little problem…think you could help out?"

Logan's affirmative came immediately. "Of course," he said.

Max's grin widened.

"It's about Syl…"

**** ****

When Krit heard the sound of Max's motorcycle fade in the distance, and when he grew
tired of watching Zack act…well, like Zack, trying to regain a little bit of the authority he
thought he had lost, getting caught…well, the way he and Max had been caught…Krit
went looking for Syl.

She was by the lake.

'Clever,' Krit thought. 'An all-purpose lake…serving all your X5 needs. Reflection,
reproduction…' Krit smirked. He'd add swimming to the list, but as much as he loved
Big Brother Zack and Maxie… He didn't feel that he shared *that* much love with
them. A lake's a lake, he realized, but this lake had been the setting of their very un-lake-
like activity and, to just come out and say it, it creeped the hell out of him.

Luckily, he hadn't come out to the lake to swim. He'd come out, ironically, to be a creep
to Syl. Which, sadly enough, was the only way he knew to comfort her. He'd be a creep,
she'd beat him a little…and thereby he'd provide much needed therapy to his beloved

It wasn't the perfect solution to what was going on in Syl's head. But it was something.
And Krit had to do something. He hated seeing Syl sad and felt just the slightest bit
guilty for it also.

"Fascinating, isn't it?" Krit asked, as if in awe, dropping down beside her in the grass.
He stared out over the lake with a rapt expression, and Syl turned to look at him.

"What is?" she asked, frowning.

Krit didn't move, and his expression didn't change, but he shook his head slowly. "I
have no idea. But whatever it is, *you* seem fascinated by it," he said softly. Then he
grinned slowly…and winked at her.

Syl rolled her eyes and punched Krit in the shoulder. But she did smile.

And all thoughts of general mischief Krit had had in mind before disappeared.

Maybe the be-a-creep plan wasn't such a good idea after all. Krit had just realized how
long it had been since he'd seen Syl smile. Really smile.

"How're you doing?" he asked suddenly.

Syl looked at him peculiarly. "How am I?" Was this Krit she was talking to? It was, but
he didn't seem to be joking and he just looked at her, so Syl shrugged.

"Okay, I guess."


Syl shrugged again. Silence.

Then: "Listen, Syl, about Max and Logan…"

"Oh, God!" Syl suddenly moaned and buried her face in her hands, surprising Krit. She
looked up with a disgusted look on her face. "Am I *that* obvious?"

Krit had to laugh. "You, obvious?" Syl smiled again. And this time it was Krit who
shrugged, with one shoulder. "Nah… You are to me, though." They knew each other so
well. Which is what made them such good friends. And such a bad idea as anything
more than that.

Syl sighed. "Pathetic, isn't it? I just… I just can't figure Maxie out, you know? This
whole thing's not like her. At least, I thought it wasn't. And I'm…"

"Worried about Logan?" Krit offered, nodding as if in agreement.

Syl gave him a look out of the corner of her eye. "I'm worried about Max," she said.

"And Logan," Krit insisted, nodding again, this time with exaggeration.

Syl made a little sound of frustration and glared at him.

"Why don't you just try and talk to her?" Krit asked then, to diffuse the situation. And
out of general curiosity. Syl wasn't usually the type to keep quiet when she had a thought
or opinion on something that she felt strongly about.

'And apparently she feels strongly about Logan,' Krit thought, guiltily, as he
acknowledged the other reason he felt inclined to encourage conversation between Max
and Syl. He didn't want to be the one to tell Syl he'd known that Max and Logan weren't
together and hadn't told her. She would kill him, he was certain of it. Especially since,
looking back now, he really couldn't say why he hadn't told her.

Except maybe to pick on her. And because he hadn't really thought she was seriously
interested in the guy. Although, how Krit could have been mistaken Syl's interest for
anything else was now a mystery to himself. He should have known she was really
caught up on Logan. Krit didn't know a lot about Syl's lovelife or even if she had one –
nor did he want to know – but he was pretty sure she didn't have a lot of relationships
under her belt. No really important ones, anyhow. Yet in all the time that had passed
since she'd found out about Max and Zack having feelings for one another, all she'd been
able to think about was Logan. Krit could tell. That level of preoccupation – for Syl –
had to denote some sort of importance in her feelings for the man.

'You should have just told her, instead of messing around,' Krit thought to himself. And
then: 'You should just tell her now, lamebrain. What are you…scared?' Well…yeah,
and Krit shifted, uncomfortable where he sat. But there wasn't anything Krit took more
offense to than being told that he was scared, of anything. Even if it was he himself
doing the telling.

"No…" Syl was saying. "I mean, she and Zack are happy…I mean *happy*. I've never
seen Zack like that." Syl got quiet. Then asked: "Have you seen them together?"

Krit nearly choked. Oh yeah, he'd seen them alright. Too much of them both. "Yeah,"
is all he said. And he hadn't realized that he'd slipped into silence until Syl called him on

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"What? Oh. Oh, yeah." 'Come on, man, just do it.' "Actually… Syl, have you ever
considered that maybe Max and Logan aren't really…I mean, weren't really…"

"Weren't really what?" The voice that responded did not belong to Syl. Both she and
Krit turned to see Max walking up behind them, smiling. "What are you guys talking

Krit looked at Syl, and the tight expression on her face. Then he looked at Max. Then he
looked to the Heavens. 'Thank you,' he mouthed. And quickly got to his feet. Syl
looked at him in surprise, but Krit wasn't looking back. He wasn't really fleeing, he
insisted to himself…he was just taking advantage of a good thing. Namely, the chance at
saving himself from some unnecessary, though nonetheless deserved, bodily harm.

"You, actually," he told Max, slapping her on the shoulder. Max raised an eyebrow, but
Krit didn't explain. He looked back to Syl's dropped jaw and smiled. "Why don't you
girls take over from here."

"Krit!" he heard Syl call behind him as he left, but didn't stop.

Syl, meanwhile, looked from Krit's retreating form…to Max…and back. And back

'Okay…so, now what?' Syl saw that Max was watching her, oddly, and Syl stood up.

"Max, I…" Syl began, at the same time as Max was saying "Actually, I…"

Syl tried to contain the sigh of relief that arose within her.

"You first," she told Max, putting on a smile. That disappeared when she saw the serious
expression on her troublesome, yet still beloved, little sister's face.

"Max, what is it?" she asked, placing a hand on Max's shoulder, genuinely concerned.

"Syl, I need a favor…I was hoping you could help me."

"Of course," Syl replied instantly.

It took Max everything she had not to smile. Everything was going exactly as
planned…and she had Zane to thank for that, she knew. He'd helped show her that
sometimes you have to let go of your fears and insecurities and take command of your
own destiny.

And sometimes – when you're just too stubborn to too blind to do that – someone,
someone who really loves you (or a variety of someones) - has to take charge for you.

Zane had been willing to do that for Max and Zack. And now Max was willing to do that
for Syl. And for Logan.

Max began, in the most somber tone she could manage:

"It's about Logan…"

The End.

(for now ;)