A to M and Beyond


A/N: Response to nickeldime's challenge to play the alphabet game; use her prompts to create a series of M/A one-shots… Only hope I can live up to her standards, because she's so ridiculously talented I'd throw cookies at her in loving tribute if only I knew in which direction to throw… (mental image- ow, my eye! Ermm… sorry nic, you know I love you?) This is just for a bit of fun and because I was kinda curious what my brain would come up for someone else's prompts... it's a waaaaay different process than writing off your own prompts (in which you can change the title if the imagery doesn't fit. :) )

Ratings

A- Gratuitous, cliché, hard M. Nothing classy about this one. Hee.

B- K+

C – K

D- K


Anything


"Strip."

"No way in hell," She scowled.

Alec sighed, rubbing tired eyes. "Okay… let's go over this one more time. Good buddy Alec has agreed, graciously, to help you out with your Ordinary infestation." Max glared, and Alec looked up, frowning. "Though why he did, after you brought it on yourself with that little handholding up on the roof, is beyond him, but hey, he's still a good guy and is willing to help out a friend."

"Good guy, ha!"

Alec talked over her, ignoring her exclamation of disbelief. "So when you came to said good guy Alec, and told him he had to keep up with this charade, tell me what you said you were willing to do."

She mumbled something.

He cupped a hand to his ear, blinking innocently. "Sorry, what was that?"

"Anything." She repeated, scowling at him.

"That's right," He snapped his fingers in amazement, as if he'd just been reminded of her promise. "Anything, you said…" His gaze narrowed. "So strip."

Max's jaw firmed. But she reminded herself that this was for Logan's own good. And for T.C.'s as well.

Logan, clinging to the hope that Max's little handholding stunt had inspired, had yet to move out of T.C… And that was just not working for Max. The bagged blood that he was becoming increasingly dependant on, the blood that kept him immune from T.C.'s toxins, should be stockpiled in case of emergency. The space that he used for his new Eyes Only mission control room could house another family of transgenics. The time that he didn't demand, but that she gave to him anyway, was time that she could be focusing upon the hundreds under her command… And that wasn't even going into all the fear of touching and heartbreak that seeing him evoked within her.

Alec, for his own part, was positive that Logan knew his and Max's 'relationship' was a sham. Sooo… the guy needed a show. A definitive one. And Alec was gonna give him one… And then as soon as the poor bastard was gone, he'd find the nearest willing X-5 and fuck her senseless, because pretending to be Max's boyfriend these last few weeks had taken a real toll on his sex life. No matter that the only girl he really wanted to fuck was-

He shifted uncomfortably. "So, are we going to do this thing, or what?"

Max glared at him, the moonlight filtering through the high, grimy windows doing nothing to soften her features. "Turn around."

Obligingly, he turned. When the sound of fabric moving against skin became too much, he pulled his own shirt from his head, attempting to block out the noise that was borderline erotic. He kicked off his boots and his jeans, ignoring the feel of the cold tile beneath his feet. Their clothes were strewn together in a messy pile and he toed her bra to the top of the pile, thinking it was a nice touch. Max had already turned on the shower, and was huddling in a corner, glaring, by the time that he stepped in, his boxers still securely on his hips.

He leaned against the shower stall, eyes falling shut as he let the warm water coat his skin. Working up the nerve to touch her. Max watched droplets collect on his thick lashes for only a moment before looking away.

"What time does Logan usually show up?" He sounded tired.

"'Round midnight." Her hands had yet to drop away from her naked breasts. She wondered, again, how he'd talked her into this. Was she really so desperate that she hadn't really considered all the looking and the touching that was gonna be involved? Well, she wasn't gonna let this turn into a peep show. As it was, she thanked God she'd chosen the black panties instead of the white this morning, or Alec'd be seeing way more than she was willing to share. Not that Alec had even looked at her, yet.

"How do you know he'll be here?"

"We've never officially talked about it or anything." She admitted, frowning. "But I heard him mention he'd be here to Luke… loudly." She made a face.

Alec glanced sharply at her, but his gaze very noticeably didn't waver from her eyes. "Does he know you heard him?"

"Yeah," She hissed in sarcasm. "He was okay with it though, 'cuz I told me how I needed to fake having sex with you to get him out of my hair. He promised he'd show up on time, after that."

Alec didn't have the patience or the energy to snark back. Just kept looking at her, face expressionless through the cascade of water.

"Of course he didn't know," Max shifted uncomfortably, unnerved by Alec's silence. "He thought I was still with the X-6's." God, she wasn't stupid.

Well, she must be, 'cuz she'd agreed to Alec's little stunt. But still…

T.C. didn't have a lot of water hook ups, thanks to the state of neglect it'd been left in for such a very long time. Only a blessed few had running water. Most didn't, and were forced to use whatever they could find. The denizens of Oak Street often fell back on this abandoned gym's communal showers. There was some semblance of privacy, thanks to the chest high tile dividers between each showerhead, so it was a relatively popular place.

Which is maybe why the showers were also a notorious place to stumble upon lovers in the middle of a midnight rendezvous… (That and Max suspected a lot of X-5's were closet exhibitionists, based upon a few veiled complaints she got, mostly from Logan; hence, why he'd proclaimed his desire to shower that night in a loud voice in the middle of command) Her exhibitionist theory was only further backed up by the fact that she only rarely got complaints from other X's. In any given week, the transgenics that were the targets of ribald comments and knowing smirks were more often than not the ones Logan would drop disapproving hints about.

Max and Alec were currently in the furthest stall from the door, wedged in the corner, draped in shadows. The darkness would work to their advantage. Only the most rudimentary movements would be needed to back up her vocal performance.

"Well, let's get this party started." He pushed away from the wall, advancing on her. He didn't look down, couldn't look down and remain a detached participant in this charade. As it was, watching the water cascade around her shoulders, her dark hair plastered to her head, was bad enough.

"What?" she squeaked, backing away from him, wedging herself further in the corner, escaping the spray of the water. "It's not midnight, yet."

"Right, because starting after he walks in is so much more believable." His eyes flicked over her face in something akin to distaste. She didn't know that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the situation, so mockingly close to something that he really wanted. Her jaw firmed, but her arms remained locked around her torso.

"Fine," She hissed. "But I'm kicking your ass later."

He rolled his eyes, crowding into her personal space. She swallowed, her confidence falling away as she let her arms drop slowly. Alec didn't even look down, just let his arms brace on the wall around her. Looking at the water running in rivulets down his chest stirred something within her that she'd prefer to ignore, so she glanced up, caught his flashing green eyes, a testament that he wasn't as comfortable about this as he'd pretended when he'd first suggested the idea.

Don't look down, he reminded himself, right before he leaned into her, pressing a hard, punishing kiss just to the corner of her mouth, even though she'd specifically told him no kissing. He pulled away, only slightly, arms still braced next to her head, close enough that his breath washed across her face. "The things I do for you," He whispered in disgust.

"This was your idea," She hissed back, feeling a little bit small and a bit disgusted and a bit… unattractive.

His reaction was confusing her. Was she ugly or something? He might as well have been made out of stone for all the interest he seemed to be taking in her near nakedness.

She forgot what she'd been thinking as he pressed another bruising kiss against her mouth. And then another, one hand fisting in her wet hair, angling her head to accept his punishment, the probing of his soft, silken tongue in direct contrast to the hard force of his lips. When he pulled away, her mouth would trail after in disappointment before she'd realize it and make her head stay put.

When her gaze had refocused and her shuddering gasps had calmed, she looked up to see Alec's narrowed eyes, gleaming cat-like in the soft darkness, watching her in interest. She wondered how her hands had ended up clutching at the wet skin of his sides. She snatched the traitorous appendages away from him. He was still leaning into his arm, pressed against the wall next to her head, but suddenly there was something decidedly more lazy about his stance… something almost predatory.

For the first time, he let his eyes dip down and she felt her entire body warm in response to his gaze.

"Weeell, Max." He drawled, his eyes taking their time in their path back to her face. "Look what you've been hiding under all that sado-masochistic leather."

Her eyes narrowed in loathing and she yanked her head from his grasp, ignoring the tug of her hair through his fingers. "I hate you."

"I know."

She paused, unsure what to make of the angry defeat in his statement… Then all thought was silenced as he lifted her against his body, slamming her back into the tile divider. She gasped as her back protested in pain, but her legs wrapped around his waist. She scowled when the sharp ache had faded and her nails raked deep in retaliation, leaving trails of fire across his back, making him hiss. He reared away from the divider, turning to shove her into the opposite wall and she'd grunt as all the air was forced from her lungs.

Later, she wouldn't be able to say exactly when things had gotten out of hand. Probably had never really been in hand to begin with… But it could have been when he tried to press another punishing kiss against her mouth, but she turned her head away, sinking her teeth into his ear instead, because she'd told him no kissing. Could have been when he'd clenched his teeth in agony, grasping at her breast in painful retaliation to get her to let the fuck go. She'd released his ear, whimpering, and he'd loosened his hold, stroking tenderly, just for a moment. Immediately, her heels had dug into the small of his back and he'd arched against her in pain. She took the opportunity to clamp her teeth into the skin of his neck. He'd changed tactics after that, hitching her higher on his waist, grasping her ass, pressing hard into her, began making the movements that hopefully would make Logan think he was seeing something vastly different than two transgenics trying to bloody each other.

It only took a few seconds of Alec's taut, slick stomach rubbing rhythmically against her for her teeth to loosen a bit as she sucked in a shaky breath through her nostrils. It'd been a mistake, too, because then he was in her nose, he was all around her, and she didn't know how to escape him; to escape this surreal mockery of lovemaking. She'd finally released his flesh altogether, biting her lip and leaning away from him, trying to escape the feel of him through the too thin cotton, her hands searching desperately for purchase in the wall overhead. The first cry she'd made hadn't been as fake as she'd originally planned.

"Fuck, Max, don't do that." His voice was pained as his fingers tightened on her ass and he paused, trembling slightly.

"Sorry," She said hoarsely, her eyes still shut, her arms overhead… and then wondered why she was apologizing. This was his damn idea.

"You good now?"

Her tongue was thick in her mouth and it was all she could do to nod. Still couldn't lift her heavy eyelids. Couldn't bear to look at him.

"Time?"

Her eyes snapped open, her arms falling back around his shoulders, as her gaze swept over the far wall above the doorway. "Clock says 11:59." They'd only been at it a minute? Felt like an eternity…

"I hate you," He said, wishing it were true.

"Likewise." She hissed, wondering why it hurt.

"Good."

She tried to grit her teeth against the rhythmic sensation, but her whole body was happily ignoring her, heating up and igniting and burning despite the water falling around them. Her skin was tight… too tight for her body, which is maybe why she clutched at him a bit harder, pressed herself closer to him, why she made another one of those whimpers that threatened to bring him to his knees.

Alec hadn't lost the use of his legs, but he did lose his powers of sophisticated speech. "Fuck, Max. God…" As he buried his face into her wet hair and his movements became more jerking, less controlled.

She made a huge mistake… She said his name. In that breathy, hitched whisper, she said his name. His mouth crashed against hers and she'd let it and part of her had been happy for it. His hand had shoved the sodden panties to the side and she'd been glad for it. And the gasp that escaped her lips when he encountered the slick heat that had nothing to do with the water cascading around them would bite off into frenetic moans as he'd probed, and prodded, and his fingers had slipped inside easily.

To this day, remembering the way her head had lolled back against the tile and the side of his face had pressed into her collarbone… how he'd clenched his eyes shut at her throaty cries, his body jerking, mimicking the movements of his hand… well… it was still enough of a reason to call him to her office and have him lock the door behind him.

Orgasm had been a sudden, unexpected explosion of white behind her eyes, an event two years in the making. Alec had bitten his lip so hard he drew blood as her body went rigid, clenching around his fingers. Afterwards, the look of awe in his eyes had been a hard thing to ignore.

And Max never would be entirely sure whether or not Logan had walked in on them. All she knew was that a day later, Logan couldn't look her in the eye as he told her he'd be moving back into the city.

Well, she said she'd do anything to push Logan away. She just never thought 'anything' would have included something that'd earn her knowing smirks from so many X-5's.


Brick


His name was Brick, and Alec believed that his head was probably about as thick as his namesake's. And probably just as porous.

Coincidentally, a brick is also kind of what Alec wanted to hit the guy with.

"How many times do I gotta tell you, I didn't sleep with her." Alec rolled his eyes. "I wasn't even here that night."

"Yeah, well, Jessie sez it wuz you."

Jessie pouted in the background, a picture of wounded innocence. Oh… now he remembered her. She'd come on to him the night before and he'd brushed her off. Blonde hair wasn't really his thing anymore. Guess this was her less than subtle attempt at retribution, siccing her muscle-bound boyfriend on him. But why the guy would be pissed at him and not at her was something Alec didn't completely comprehend. Ugh. Ordinaries.

"What's going on?" Max plopped on the stool next to Cindy.

"Hot Boy been scouring the field again and snagged hisself a chickee that already had a coop." O.C. turned back to her beer, shaking her head in disgust.

"He did what?" Max's head whipped back round to glare at the unfolding drama. The guy was in Alec's face now, poking him in the chest. Alec was just staring blandly back, but she could almost feel the waves of his ire beginning to rise.

"Last Saturday, took her home or sumptin'… That's what he gets for-"

"That's impossible." Max interrupted, ignoring the relief welling within her.

"What?" Cindy looked up from her beer.

"He couldn't have been with her last Saturday."

"And how would you know that?" Cindy turned bodily to face her friend, an eyebrow lifting. But Max had already gotten out of the chair, making her way to the bar.

"'Scuse me." Max said loudly.

The two men turned to look at her.

"You're blocking the bar," She said sweetly. Alec rolled his eyes.

"Stay outta dis, girlie." Muscle-bound oaf turned back to Alec, dismissing her. Okay. That's it. Boot to the head for this guy… Then Max took a calming breath. People were too jumpy lately. Couldn't blow her cover over some retard with too much testosterone.

Max turned wide, unblinking eyes on Alec. "What's going on, honey bun?" Alec almost choked as Brick looked again at her in suspicion.

"You know dis chump?"

Max giggled, wrapping her arms around Alec's. "Course I do! He's my boyfriend." She looked up at him, pouting into his flabbergasted expression. "Hoooney, this is why I don't like coming here on Saturdays. It's too crowded. We shoulda just stayed at home, like last week."

Brick's eyes narrowed in suspicion, glancing back at his girl. By the time the larger man had turned back, Alec was looking at Max, his face fixed in a syrupy expression. "Youse twos was together last Saturday?" He asked.

"A lady doesn't kiss and tell," Max sniffed, squeezing Alec's arm between hers. He pretended like he couldn't feel her breasts moving against him.

"Yeah… yeah." Brick was nodding, glancing again at Jessie, whose face was draining of color. "Scuse me." He turned his back on them.

"Jeez, Jess, what did I tell youse last time? You want me to go back to prison?"

Alec slumped in relief as the two moved away, arguing heatedly.

Max ignored them, shaking her head as she released his arm. "What is it with you and trouble?"

"I dunno, honey bun." Alec snarked. He leaned over the bar. "Mitch! Two, straight up."

Her eyes caressed his back. "You're getting started early." Her face fell into neutrality as he turned to look at her.

"Long week." He grunted. Max shrugged, moving away. She stopped as she felt his warm fingers close around her wrist. "Max," he started, softly. "About last Saturday-"

"I told you," She interrupted firmly, pulling her hand from his. "It was a one time thing."

He picked up the shots, holding on to one and offering her the other. "Well, to no repeats then." He raised his glass in a toast and downed the liquid. She stared at him for a long moment before throwing back her own.

Brick was the type of wall he'd have her pressed against half an hour later. The hard surface at her back was almost as much of a turn on as his hard body, melding so intimately with hers.

At least it was until-

"Max, is that you?"

Alec pulled lazily away from her mouth, ignoring the way her hands were shoving desperately at his shoulders as she tried to push him away. He didn't budge.

"Oh, hey, Logan. Slumming it again, I see."

A brick is kind of what Max wanted to hit Alec upside the head with.


Cold


"Ummm… Max?" He blinked in confusion.

"Hey, Alec." She cranked up the heat.

Rather than go for the more obvious questions, like, what the hell are you doing in my apartment, he started with something a little more pressing. "You realize, that unlike you, I actually pay bills?" He frowned, watching the little temperature gauge start to climb.

"That's the biggest load of crap I've ever heard." A liiiiiittle more to the right. Yes. She leaned back into her heels, beaming. Perfect.

"Got a set up with Rocko, the slumlord of this particular slice of heaven. He doesn't report me to the cops, I pay rent and utility bills. Which includes heat. Which if isn't on 90, probably will be soon." He frowned again, shaking his head in bewilderment at the thermostat before turning to look at her. "Seriously, why are you here again?"

"Heating's down in our building. So we figured we'd stop by."

"We?"

"Hey, Alec."

"Oh, hey Cindy… hey, what? Cindy?"

"And, we're gonna be staying with you for a bit." Max talked over them both. Yeesss. Heat. It'd been sooooo long. No more breaking out the sweaters on her way home. No more hunching against the icy air as she walked in to the apartment. Max wondered why she hadn't thought of crashing Alec's sooner.

"Can't… can't you go to Joshua's… or Logan's?" Max ignored the tinge of desperation in his voice. Really, after all she'd done for him…

"Joshua's place is negative three on a good day." O.C. snarked. Okay, so it wasn't really that bad, but it was still far from comfortable.

"Well… what about Logan? Eh, good ole' Logan, he'd probably love some bonding time!"

"Yeah… Max." O.C. stressed. Why were they in this dump when they could be in a penthouse?

Max sniffed, flouncing away from them both. Cindy and Alec exchanged a glance. Guess that meant she must be trying to avoid Logan again.

Must be a Tuesday.

"But… But I have plans." Alec realized he sounded a bit whiny, but he just didn't care.

"Don't let us stop you." Max threw herself on his couch. Turning on the TV. His TV.

"But I have plans here." He watched in annoyance as O.C. made herself similarly comfortable.

Two pairs of eyes turned on him, unblinking. Max sneered as O.C. let out an "Ugh," of disgust.

"Well, cancel 'em." Max finally said. "Unless you want to romance your gal pal on the couch."

"You can't just come into my home and kick me out of my own bed!"

"Too late." They turned back to the TV, leaning against each other. His heat, his bed, and now his couch! All stolen most horrendously!

"Scoot over." He scowled at Max.

"Sit on the floor." She snarked.

O.C., ever the peacekeeper, rolled her eyes, scooting closer to Max, making room for Alec on her other side. She patted the worn green felt. "C'mon, boo, plenty of room for you over here."

Alec sniffed, sitting with as much dignity as he could muster. Max scowled at Cindy. Alec tried to lean over and grab the remote but Max held it far from his grasp. He added his TV to his list of things most unjustly usurped. He shoved himself back into the cushion, scowling.

An hour later, Alec was sprawled in the corner of the couch, taking up space as much as possible, arm across the length of the back, Cindy leaning into his chest. Max was as far from the two as she could get, scowling as dourly as a dowager.

"She kinda reminds me of Asha. Short, blonde hair. Kinda pixie like-" O.C. and Alec had been comparing notes on the female cast for the better part of the hour, and it was starting to grate on Max's nerves.

"No one cares, Alec." Max snapped.

O.C. and Alec turned to look at her. "What?" She asked, hunching into herself.

"Mmhmmm." Cindy fixed her with a knowing smirk.

"And since when were you two all chummy?" Max muttered, feeling suddenly conspicuous, huddled alone on her far cushion.

"Cindy and I share an appreciation of the female form." Alec sniffed.

O.C. rolled her eyes, sitting up. It was like babysittin'. "You got any snacks in this place, Hot Boy?"

He gestured at the kitchen, oblivious, as always, to any mention of his prettiness. O.C. pursed her lips, pushing away from the couch, wondering how smart it was to leave the two of 'em alone for even a moment. "Play nice," She warned them both as she headed towards the kitchen.

The room descended into silence, only the sound of the TV to distract them from the sudden absence of their peace keeper.

Max scooted over, took O.C.'s spot. But only because she didn't want to have to deal with the gag-worthy vision of them leaning into each other again. O.C. was supposed to be her friend. It's not because she'd felt left out or anything. Alec didn't take his arm from the back of the couch because he'd been here first. It's not because he liked close proximity to Max or anything.

Max's elbow dug into his ribs.

"Knock it off." He hissed.

"Move your arm." She retaliated, leaning into her elbow.

"Go back to your side, loner. It'd be easier on all of us."

Max frowned.

"Boy, all you got is pork rinds and whis-" O.C. stopped, staring at Max.

"What?" She asked, removing her joint from Alec's ribs. He breathed a sigh of relief, rubbing the sore spot.

O.C. shook her head, sitting next to her friend. "If you'd felt left out, all you had to do was lean on me, sugah."

"What? No! I just…" She glanced between Alec and Cindy, watching her. She huffed in annoyance, "Forget it." She made to stand, but came crashing back down as Alec yanked her wrist. She fell back into the couch, crashing against his chest.

"You were just cold. We know."

She pursed her lips, but finally figured it'd be easier to just stay where she was, relaxing into Alec's side, her head pillowing against his shoulder. O.C. scooted closer, lifted Max's legs into her lap, and the three turned back to the movie.

The thermostat remained at 80 for most of the week. Alec had to pay out the nose when Rocko came to collect his money at the end of the month.

But it was worth it.


Daughter


Max had been married at the tender age of 21. It had only been a few short months after they'd raised their flag… The cult's high priestess took a shotgun shell to the head and the war seemed to have deflated overnight. They'd finished off White, shortly after. Everything just seemed to… fall into place. Just like she'd always told herself she wanted.

He'd proposed, not with a ring, but with a cure. And the enthusiasm with which she'd accepted had silenced most of the doubters… most of them.

Almost nine months to the day, she gave birth to a little girl. She'd asked Alec to be the girl's godfather.

He'd accepted.

And he'd left town, shortly after.

She'd been surprised. Hurt. Months earlier, on her wedding day, he'd told her he loved her. But she'd blown him off. "You don't know what love is." He'd been hurt and she'd known it, but she told herself she was making the right decision. The safe decision. The wise decision, because Logan's child was already growing within her womb.

Still, part of her thought he'd never leave…

"I'm not a dog to be fed your scraps. You have a husband. You have a daughter. Why do you want me to stay?"

"You're… you're my friend."

"No, I'm your pet. And it's old, Max. Real old."

The girl took after her mother. Dark hair. Tan skin. She'd almost been scouted by a childhood talent agency, because her liquid blue eyes were so striking in her exotic features. She was an only child. Logan didn't see the point of having any more. Truthfully, Max didn't much either.

Alec visited occasionally. He always brought gifts for Marissa, along with stories of exotic locales and unbelievable adventures and beautiful women that left the girl on the edge of her seat. He never brought anything to Max, except maybe for a "Hey, how are ya?" and a few minutes of small talk before he unveiled his latest gift for the girl. And he absolutely never talked to Logan. After the first couple of visits, Logan found ways to make himself scarce when Alec was around.

Time never faded his beauty, only tempered it. It was weird for her to admit that he was beautiful… but Max was older and wiser and her youth seemed like a frivolity wasted. She was in her 30's, almost 40, still young, really, but not nearly as young as she'd used to be. Still gorgeous, as Alec would occasionally wink, before he relegated her back to his past and Max ignored the aching disappointment.

Logan was in his 50's, pushing the middle mark, if they were completely honest. The age gap that had seemed negligible when she was younger was getting harder to ignore. It was no big deal though. They'd accepted a long time ago that they didn't have a great love, it wasn't the passion that people wrote songs about. It was gentle and it was friendly and it was warm and the kind of fiery passionate love that people wrote romance novels about didn't exist anyway. Besides, just because they weren't passionate was no reason to get a divorce. Really, for most of the year, Max was quite happy with Logan. It was just… always a little bit harder in springtime.

Alec was a bit of warmth, too, with his unannounced visits… sunshine on her doorstep. The only time she could be absolutely certain of seeing him, though, was in the spring. He always visited in the springtime. And Marissa always brightened when it came time for the visits that Alec actually called ahead for.

Really, Max should have expected it.

"Mom, how old were you when you and dad got married?"

"I was twenty one." Max would say, then glance sharply at her daughter. "Young. Too young to be married."

Should have known because the questions always came with the March winds, the winds that brought Alec to their door. "And how old was dad?"

"Young enough… why do you ask?"

"Mom, how old is too old do you think?"

"Why, did you meet a new boy?"

"No, just curious, I guess."

Max's eyes would widen in understanding the year that Marissa turned sixteen. The year she kept hounding her mother, asking when Alec would be coming. When he finally made his appearance, his newest gift for Marissa wrapped in tissue, hidden behind his back, she'd launch herself at him, hugging him a little bit longer than strictly appropriate. Alec didn't notice. Dense as always. But Marissa listened to his stories and batted her eyelashes and exclaimed over the beautiful Parisian dress and Max watched on.

She'd catch his arm as he was leaving. "Maybe… maybe you shouldn't visit for a while…"

"I'm only in the States for a few more weeks." He'd blink in confusion. "Won't be back until the fall, this time."

"I think… I think Marissa might have a bit of a crush on you."

Alec paused, staring at her for a moment in confusion before his eyes would widen in understanding. He laughed softly, glancing down. "Figures. The mother has no use for me, but the daughter…"

Max's eyes would narrow. "Don't even think about it."

He recoiled from her. "Don't be gross, Max. She's like my niece. And unlike some men in their 30's, I don't a have a thing for teenagers."

She ignored the dig at Logan, holding open the door. "Goodbye, Alec."

He'd pause at the doorway, his lips pursing, and Max was reminded that he really did care for the girl. "Tell Marissa… Ah hell, don't tell her anything." And he'd close the door behind him.

Breaking the news hadn't been pleasant.

"But when will he be back…"

"We think… that maybe… he shouldn't be around for awhile."

Marissa's liquid blue eyes had frozen to ice as understanding had hit. "You mean you think."

"Honey, he's much too old for you!"

"The age difference isn't that much different from yours and dads!"

"You're only 16!"

"That's old enough!"

"It's just a crush, Marissa!"

"No it's not, it's love!" She'd exclaimed, in that dramatic way of teenagers.

"You don't know what love is." Max shook her head sadly.

"Well, neither do you," Her daughter would hiss, turning away from her mother. Max didn't know what to say to that so she'd just grounded the girl instead. Marissa didn't speak to her mother for days. Then Jimmy Cartwright asked her to a dance and in her euphoria everything was finally forgiven. Max had breathed a sigh of relief.

Alec resumed his visits the following year. Everything seemed fine once more. He hadn't forgotten the previous year, though, and he pulled away from the hug before it could linger too long. Max hadn't forgotten either, because she was in the room for the entire visit. The only one that seemed to have forgotten about the crush was Marissa, who must have put Alec back into his 'coolest godfather ever' category. She spent a lot of his visit exclaiming over the hand-made Japanese fan and telling Alec all about Joe Petrelli, the school's quarterback, and her current boyfriend.

On second thought, maybe Marissa wasn't really over him, because she almost seemed to be trying to make Alec jealous. He was a good sport about it, though, letting her know that he'd bust some heads at the first sign of funny business. Max had rolled her eyes because the statement had reminded her of the old Alec, her Alec, the one who'd run around in jeans and leather jackets and was always ready with a cocky grin… not the well-traveled, Armani wearing stranger that wore Alec's face. But Marissa had giggled after he'd said it, solidifying in Max's mind that the girl was still very much enamored of the older man.

He'd pause at the doorway as he was leaving. "Will you ever trust me?"

"What do you mean?" Max asked.

"I'm not going to ravish your daughter. You don't have to babysit."

"Is that what you think I'm doing?"

Alec fixed her with a knowing look.

She snorted, and felt like she was twenty, again. "Well, ya always were a ladies man."

"Emphasis in that statement being on ladies. Not on little girls." He shook his head in disgust. "Jesus, Max, don't you trust me?"

"No." It was supposed to be a joke, but they both stopped to stare at each other at the honesty that shone through.

"Maybe… maybe I shouldn't come by anymore." He'd reach for the doorknob, but her hand over his would make him pause.

"And that's exactly why I don't trust you. Romantically or no, Marissa cares about you, Alec… I don't want her to be hurt when you leave."

"I always come back."

"Not always you don't."

"What are you talking about? I'm back on your doorstep every year." His eyes bore into hers, his voice thick with exasperation.

Max bit her lip, glancing away. Yeah, he was back on her doorstep, but he never came back for her. He'd left her behind a long time ago. Alec's eyes softened as her gaze turned back to him.

"Max… what… what are you trying to say?"

"Hey, mom…" Marissa would stop in the doorway, her eyes glued onto her mother's hand over Alec's. Max told herself she had no reason to feel guilty, she hadn't been doing anything wrong, but she snatched her hand away anyway.

"Is that why Dad hates him?" Marissa had sneered, later that night.

"Alec and I have been friends for a very long time, Marissa." Max didn't even look up from the vegetables she was chopping. "Longer than you've been alive. I wouldn't expect you to understand."

"You never look at Dad like that," Her daughter had sniffed, flouncing away. She hadn't been grounded, because Max wasn't sure what cause she would give Logan for doing so. But the knife had lowered and Max had stared hard at the countertop for a long time after her daughter had left.

Max loved her daughter. Desperately. Totally. Completely.

But sometimes… sometimes she wished the girl had been born with hazel eyes.

Alec came again in the winter and he smiled a bit sadly at her. Then he turned back into a stranger, and stepped aside so he could introduce his fiancée. And Marissa's wasn't the only heart in the room that broke.