So I haven't dabbled in the DA fandom in a while but I kept coming back to this piece of fic and finally decided to clean it up and see what you think of it. Please read and enjoy this alternate take on 'Designate This'. I own nothing and mean no harm.
Three nights in a row the door to her cell had opened and 494, Alec, had entered, less amused each time he saw her.
Max steeled herself, her internal clock told her that he would be here soon, and she would have to endure another hour of the softly spoken questions and the overwhelming scent of him.
After their first few disastrous encounters they had called a truce. Their time together had been filled with stories, from both, and with it a greater understanding, on her part, as to who he was. Perhaps it was his sincerity or the fact that she couldn't understand why he wouldn't complete his mission, but she was begrudgingly starting to maybe like him a little bit. With his training he could have taken what 'they' wanted from her and he didn't, hadn't and she wouldn't forget that.
A killer, a soldier, she corrected, an important distinction to him and she understood why, but not a rapist. Lost in her thoughts it came to her suddenly that an hour had passed, their hour. Concerned she considering banging on the door, but realized the futility. Unless she was willing to put out, she would have to put up with their cold shoulder.
Frowning she flopped down helplessly on her bunk.
One question overriding all others. Where exactly was Alec?
By dinner the following day Max had seen nor heard anything relating to Alec. Frustrated she glared at her fellow diners, its true she wasn't exactly Miss Popular and they hadn't been very forthcoming at her inquiries but you'd think they would be a little more concerned by his absence. Dumping her untouched food she left the mess, sending her shadow a glare before disappearing into the showers.
If she had put as much concentration into the training exercises as she had into the missing X5 she would not be as sore as she was now. The bruises on her ribs would be gone by tomorrow but they ached like a bitch at the present time. Beneath the streaming spray of water she closed her eyes, allowing herself a moment to enjoy, relax, until her ninety seconds would end.
Tucked safely back into her cell Max began her pacing.
If he didn't show tonight she would have to do something.
Not knowing was something she would be able to handle well. Fully aware that the truth may be worse, isolation or God forbid psy-ops, she couldn't deny that fact that they might have simply given up on her and reassigned him.
The thought stopped her feet short. Would it bother her? Alec and another X5? It shouldn't, it didn't, she corrected; but she had just gotten sorta used to him. That was all it was, he was, for all his smart ass ways, familiar.
"Right," a weak excuse even to herself she refocused her thoughts moving from the uncomfortable to the obsessing; counting the minutes that passed into the, that, hour.
Her counts had not gotten far when the metal began to grind and she turned towards the door. Eager to see him, she frowned at the three guards who entered.
"452 you are to come with us."
The safeties were off, her eyebrow arching, these boys were all business. Raising her hands slowly she turned, allowing them to pat her down and restrain her with the reinforced handcuffs. At a particularly excitable pat, she glared over her shoulder, "Alright boys, there's no need to get testy."
Taken by the elbow she was led from the room without further incident. In silence the quartet walked the maze of halls until they stopped outside a set of double doors. She knew this room. Knew what lay across the threshold and she fought back the panic.
Not allowing herself to be dragged she entered Renfro's lab with her head high. Automatically sweeping the room she saw nothing and nobody other than the bitch herself.
"At ease gentlemen." The goons behind her obeyed instantly and Max rolled her eyes.
"Un-cuff her please," their eyes met and Max wasn't sure there was anyone as capable as projecting evil, "then leave us."
Surprised, Max arched an eyebrow, noting the smug look and the .45, neither of which would be of much help if Max decided to do something.
Alone now, the gloves were off, pleasantries dismissed, Max was being sized up, scrutinized and she returned in kind.
"452 so far all attempts at breeding have been unsuccessful."
Renfro rose, neatly stacking the papers she had held. Thinking it wise to see what hand the good doctor would play, Max literally bit her tongue.
"After an extensive examination," not liking the smile Max readjusted her stance prepared to defend if needed, "we have determined that there is nothing physically hindering 494 from completing his objective."
Wait what? Frowning, a sense of dread began to fill her as the conversation swung sharply towards Alec.
"Where is he?" Max took a step forward. "Where is Alec?" Unable to keep the menace from her voice, her nails dug painfully into her palms as she waited.
"Alec." Renfro raised an amused eyebrow, "You named him. How cute."
Their eyes held Max not blinking until the older woman turned, walking towards one of the metal doors that lined the back wall of the lab. Horrified Max watched a key being pulled from a pocket. No, no, no, she didn't want the door to open; she didn't want to see.
"We've taken what will be of use," the door slid open silently, but Max could not see through Renfro and into the small cell, "termination is scheduled for 0600 hours." The bitch peered over her shoulder, smiling nastily. Max nearly vomited. "Then we will salvage what other parts may be of use."
Termination? Alec. Oh, God. It was her fault. She had been stubborn and defiant and...
All thoughts of her guilt evaporated the second Renfro moved from the doorway leaving an unobstructed view into the too white room.
Disbelieving, Max took a step forward. Her mind a blank, she could see or think of nothing but the crumpled form on the floor, "Alec," she called again, but he didn't stir.
Closer to the door than Renfro thought safe, Max heard the safety disengage on the handgun, but all she could see was Alec.
"I thought you might want to say goodbye," thoughts crashed in on themselves and Max gasped.
Coming alive, she strode into the room without hesitation, hardly aware that a gate clanged shut behind her, she dropped to her knees.
"Oh. God." Max choked on the words, glaring up at the bitch who looked down on them through the now barred entry. "What did you do?"
Renfro shrugged, unrepentant, "What needed doing. He was uncooperative and non remorseful."
Max blinked back tears, fiercely proud of the broken man whose head she gently lifted into her lap.
"Alec." Not caring if all of Manticore was watching she let the tears roll down her cheeks as her hands ran over the damage done to his face.
Stripped to his underwear, standard issue grays, his body bore the marks of their brutality. The bruises were ugly purplish mars that covered most of his torso, but they would heal quickly. The dried blood on his chin and neck made her stomach roll, but it would wash. It was the absolute stillness of him in her arms that concerned her. That and his hair.
They had shaved his head, she couldn't believe it. He looked so different. The shorn scalp was a faint tickle on her bare arms, her palm cradling his head she forced her eyes away and down the length of him. There were abrasions on both wrists and both ankles which explained the the puncture marks on both arms.
Chemical, physical, and she knew, knew they would have dug into his head. Pressing a kiss to his forehead, to the tender skin around his swollen left eye, her lips settled over his split and cracked ones.
Whispering against the marks made by teeth biting through the excruciating, the pain in her chest swelled unbearably. "I'm so sorry, Alec."
This was her fault. She had taunted and he had been punished.
"I'm gonna fix this Alec."
Laying his head down as gently as she could manage, she stared down at him, still not believing they had shaved his head. Had he despaired then? Knowing they would never do that, give him the most brutal of military appearances, if they intended for him to be active in the field again.
Swallowing back the emotion, she rose; she steeled herself, tears disappearing into the skin of her arm.
"Renfro," turning she gripped the bars. The bitch was close, playing with her vials, no doubt loving every moment of this scene. "I'll do it."
Nothing. She didn't even turn around. Max tried again, "I'll breed with him. I'll do it." Given name to it she pushed further on, desperate, "I promise. Look."
Yanking off her tank top she dropped it without further thought; unzipping her fatigues, "The second he can get it up, I'll get on, I swear."
Crude, but it got the bitch's attention finally. In her underwear, standard issue blacks, she held her chin out as Renfro approached. Max's eyes flicked briefly to the small vial being waved at her.
"A nice offer, but irrelevant at this point," realizing what was in the vial Max swallowed back the anger and disgust. What had they done to coax that out of him?
If they had his sperm than no, they wouldn't need him, but God, she did. It struck her, a blown to the heart, the soul, that she needed him to live she pleaded, "Please."
The bars shook under her grip when the bitch doctor turned away. "Please. I'll do anything. Just don't kill him."
It was dangerous, showing her weakness, making an offer like that. But every part of her knew that Renfro meant business. Having got her attention Max waited as Renfro turned and considered.
"Anything?" So, it was probably going to be as bad as she thought but she had made her move and she had to stick with it.
"A child?" Max's heart constricted at the thought but she couldn't think about that now.
"Yes, but with him."
Renfro laughed, "Conditions, 452?"
Max deflated slightly, "he has to live." She knew the plea would fall on deaf ears, but there had to be something the bitch wanted.
"It's not enough."
Frustrated Max wished she got just reach through the bars and smack a bitch, "What?!" she hated this, being manipulated, toyed with. Oh, how she wanted to tell Renfro to go to hell, would have done it, but Alec needed her.
Without warning Renfro began to speak, "There have been some revelations concerning the X5 series. The feline DNA is manifesting itself in certain ways. The heat as you know is one, which can be controlled, and even used to our advantage. But now some in the units are exhibiting a tendency to want to mate."
Max's train of thought that had been following cautiously along, tripped and fell.
"Now we can suppress the desire chemically. We can't have the boys and girls trying to play exclusive." Max grimaced, she needed no reminder what her bothers and sisters were sometimes forced to do in the field.
"What does that have to do with us?" so she had some idea, genius level i.q. and all that, but she had to ask, had to hear. She couldn't assume this. It was too huge.
There was too much pleasure in the smile. Max cringed.
"A successful mating between breeding X5's." It was all so very clinical, Max translated in her head: Max and Alec expecting after getting married, "would feed extremely useful data into the program."
Using every ounce of strength in her reserves Max considered the very real possibility that this may have to happen.
"Useful enough to let him live?" she stared through the bars into eyes so cold, so hard she simply knew that one day she would have to end all that Renfro was.
Max released the breath she had been holding. She had no idea what would come of tying herself into Alec's life, but at least he would alive to help her sort it out. And that would be enough for now.
"Fine, yes, I'll, we'll, do it." he would just have to deal with the decision when the time came for him to question it; she really didn't have a lot of options.
Pleased as punch Renfro began to move through her lab, "You two will stay here for the duration, once he is functional," Max's jaw clenched as the woman eyed his body, "we will begin."
Alec was in no condition to proceed with anything other than hopefully waking up. The thought sprung Max into action, "Hey!" she called out, Renfro was heading for the exit.
"He needs medical attention. Food, water, clothes."
They stared each other down from across the room. Something she had said must have been to the doctor's liking because Max earned a smile she knew she didn't want.
"Of course. You two are my guests. I will see that you have everything you need."
Left alone in the lab Max quickly realized she was still undressed and remedied the situation; one concerned eye stayed on Alec. There was absolutely nothing in the cell. No bunk, no toilet, nada. Bare white walls and harsh fluorescent lights were not going to help Alec. She needed a plan.
There was no telling when Renfro would be back and Max simply couldn't leave him there on the floor. Not that there was anyplace better, she just couldn't, besides the cold floor was probably not helping.
Weighing her options she noticed for the first time just how big he was; all wide shoulders and long legs, it was a jarring sight.
Dropping to her knees she ran a light hand down his arm. Beneath her palm the discolored skin along his ribcage was cool. Shit, he needed warmth and meds, and "dammit."
Frustrated, she looked around, hoping the nothing had turned into something, but all she saw was white.
Sitting cross legged she considered her options, she had clothes and he had none. Disregarding the pants outright, slender hips not with standing, he was not fitting into her pants; the black tank top she had on wold be a tight fit, yes, but the movement might do more harm than good.
"So much for options," mumbling, her gaze once again traveled up to his face than back down, settling on his feet.
"Stupid, stupid," she immediately began to untie her boots, tossing them in a corner, she stripped off her socks. It wasn't much, but it made her feel not so very useless.
Lifting one pale foot, she eyed the slender toes, he had pretty feet. Glancing up at his too still face, "Sexy feet Alec?" she sent him a watery smile, "You should have shown them off sooner."
At the silence that followed, her smile faded; it wasn't fun if the other person wasn't playing.
Gnawing on her lip she sat back on her knees, she wanted him off the floor. A plan forming she eyed the bars, there was still no one in the lab, but she knew they were watching; having counted no less than five cameras in the tiny cell.
They knew he needed help, but they were playing with her, their, lives.
"Assholes," muttering she hoped low enough they wouldn't hear, she returned her focus to Alec.
'Now or never, boo.' OC's voice was calming, encouraging, and Max made her move. Firmly, but gently she took a hold of him, slipping her hands under his arms, she lifted slowly.
Three, four, five steps back and her butt hit the wall; grateful she let herself slide to the floor. Even with her enhanced strength he was heavy.
"Come on Alec," she arranged him carefully in her arms, "You know you wouldn't want to miss this."
Rubbing palms up and down the cool arms, she smiled, imagining what exactly he wold be saying had he been awake.
His breath, warm and steady, on her neck, was soothing; her body began to relax as a result. Her body curling more protectively around his. Panted legs cover bare ones; tan arms covered pale ones.
Absently her hand drifted to his head, startled by the short softness, she sighed Her fingers began exploring, shape and texture, fingertips traced his ear, a thumb brushed his neck; she paused, hand frozen, she cut her eyes down, his profile revealing nothing. Again her thumb moved, slower this time, much more careful. 'What the hell?'
But she knew, it wasn't hard to figure out, didn't need to see what she felt. Stitches; a thin line running left to right just above his bar code.
They had cut him.
Swallowing, the anger rolled of her in waves, the grip she had on him tightening. The fucking monsters had cut into his head!
Pressing and holding a kiss to his forehead, her eyes closed as she struggled for control. Worried, terrible blazing worry, as the possibility that the Alec that she had known, however briefly, might be gone.
"Wake up Alec." The whisper, the murmur, spoken discreetly into his ear, the words were for him alone.
An hour passed, maybe two, and she finally heard movement in the lab.
Looking up, she eyed the figure in the doorway, not bothering to stand at attention.
Max knew, she knew, that she should play nice, but it had been a long day.
"Why won't he wake up?" Her scent, her touch, her words, something should have gotten through to him by now, but he was still out and it bothered her more than she was ready to admit.
The doctor man was speaking again and she snapped to attention.
"494, let me see," she watched him flip through a red file, Alec's file, and boy was it thick, much thicker than made her comfortable.
"Precursory examination showed slight trauma to the head, major bruising to the abdomen," he trailed on about the superficial wounds, and she wondered about the incision, knowing he wouldn't mention it even if she asked, "it does appear that there was a rather large and varied dose of medication administered this morning. It's more than likely that it may have been more than even a Transgenic could handle."
Not liking the condescension in his voice, her finger's slipped down and laced through Alec's.
"The drugs will flush of his system or they won't, either way you'll know in six hours, give or take an hour." No care, no concern, her eyes flashed at the 'doctor's' indifference.
Pleased when his gaze broke first, he stepped aside and an assistant, a young thin girl, began slipping items through the slatted bars.
Water bottles rolled onto the floor, a first aid kit, some clothes, and finally, most wonderfully, a blanket.
Wasn't much, but it was better than the nothing they'd had. All attention had turned back to the lab and she turned hers back to Alec.
Drugs, powerful and dangerous cocktails designed to invoke pain, pleasure, or obedience, she knew what their needles could do. The damage a half cc could inflict on the strongest male; and Alex was one of the strongest.
Instinct told her, fed her the information; male, Alpha male and she shuddered. Not, repulsed as she once would have, that she knew this, but that they had leveled him so low.
The unexpected laugh startled her from her thoughts. Wishing for some privacy, she listened as the three bodies, Renfro was still absent, shuffled around the lab.
The least they could do was close the damn door. The bars bothered her, as they were designed to; caged, animals, everything meant something else here.
Sighing, she hoped Alec would understand, but she wasn't about to move from this spot until they were alone. Well as alone as they could be with the cameras.
Ten annoying minutes later and the lab fell silent.
Tricky maneuvering, yes, but she managed to extricate herself from behind Alec and laid him gently on the floor.
Snatching up the matching pairs of thin gray sweats and white tee shirts, she dropped hers back onto the floor, and moved to dress him as quickly and carefully as she could.
"Much better," switching into the fresher and much more comfortable clothes she picked up the water bottles and first aid kit. First aid was next, kneeling, she used her discard tank top to wash away the dried blood from his face and neck. Finding her self staring at him, her hand paused. Really, he was good looking.
Banged and bruised as he was she finally found herself appreciating his looks. So much like Ben, she frowned, but this was so very much Alec.
The nose, his nose, was slightly slanted to the right, the mark of a break not set as quickly as it should. Yes, this was Alec, and she would never mistake him for anyone else again.
Surprised and pleased by her revelation she resumed her ministrations, paying special attention to his damaged lips, knowing the ointment might sting when he woke, but it would help. The sooner he woke, the sooner she would see that smile, that smirk and while it might irritate her, she found the alternative much worse.
Care given, she rearranged all that they had been given within arms length; she assumed the position.
"Miss me?" pressing the cool cloth to his swollen eye, she pulled the blanket further over their bodies with her other hand.
Settling back, his breath once again warm and calming on her neck, she began the waiting game again.
At the first whimper, she was fully awake, alert and tightening her hold on him.
Eyes adjusting, the lights had gone off some hours ago, she used what illumination cast from the equipment left running in the lab to look at him.
"Alec," she heard the whimper, more of a groan, and her adrenaline was beginning to surge. He was waking up.
"Alec." Running her hands over his face, she hoped her touch, while unfamiliar, would soothe.
"Max." Raspy and broken; she was certain it was one of the most beautiful sounds she had ever heard.
"Yes, Alec, it's Max," cradling his head into her neck, she felt his breath, deep and searching and she warmed at the thought that she was filling him, teaching him.
"Max," still raspy, but stronger, she laughed. More grateful than he would ever know she reached for the water bottle.
"Here," Tilting the bottle towards his lips, "but not too much o.k.?"
He drank slowly, coughing up some, but he dutifully swallowed and in the dimmest light she made out his grimace. His throat had to be sore, aching, that's what the screams did. Ripped and tore at your throat until nothing else would come out of them. God, how she hated them.
"You had me worried," the light in the room was negligible but with the enhanced night vision Manticore had been kind enough to bless most X5's with, she was able to make out his profile, jaw tense, eyes closed against the pain.
"Miss me?" His chuckle turned into another bout of coughing and she helped him sit up, rubbing circles on his back until he calmed.
A part of her shied away from the care and concern. After all, twenty-four hours ago she kinda sorta hated him. Those kinds of feelings were hard to turn off, but Alec needed her and she pushed aside her doubts.
Ignoring his curious one-eyed star she pulled him back into the circle of her arms. Silent, calm, they simply sat, laid, together in the dark.
Hours later Max fought the tears. Overwhelmed, angry, and so, so scared. Her limit had come and gone and all she wanted to do was cry.
But she didn't, couldn't, this wasn't about her now. Holding tighter to Alec's thrashing body, she whispered what she could formulate against his sweaty brow.
Alec had slept, dammit, she had slept. Thinking the worst had passed; she should have known better.
First it been the moans, low and painful.
Then the sweats had come and she knew.
Withdrawal, brutal, Manticore induced withdrawal. The Transgenic in him was expunging the drugs, rebooting his system faster than the human part of him could manage and it was tearing him apart.
She knew, she remembered, she held onto him tighter.
No one had come into the lab since the lights had come on. The water was nearly gone and she was so angry, so frustrated, she wanted to scream or cry or just something.
"Come on Alec."
The reassurance was as much for her as it was for him.
Stripped once again down to his black underwear, the chills had led into a fever, and now, the worst of them all. The cramping, tearing, pulling of every muscle in his body.
There were ways to ease a withdrawal of this magnitude, buffers, compresses, but no, the bastards had just left them. So many things could go wrong. Too high a fever, too chilled a body temperature, and he could be lost to her.
"I'm so sorry Alec, so sorry," her apologies were of little help, but she could hear him, straining to speak.
"Not. Your. Fault."
Oh, she had been so wrong about him. Tears freely falling now, she dropped her head onto his bare shoulder, and wished she could, for a second, share, take, end, his pain.
Kissing the curve of his neck, the salty skin sent her senses into overdrive. The taste of him, the scent of him would never, ever leave her now.
"Shhh...Alec." she rubbed his cheek.
"You're doing great."
The harsh bark of laughter made her cringe.
Her heart tightened painfully (not painfully enough) not as painfully as she deserved.
"I know. I know." Rocking, she soothed as best she could, whispers and touches her only tools.
"God," a particularly savage tremor ripped through him, her, "You should have let them kill me."
Appalled, she couldn't speak, she sat staring at their entwined hands. What had they told him? Had they dangled her choice in his face? Taunted him with her options before the last of the drugs took effect.
"Useless. Useless. It hurts."
Snapping back to Alec she shushed him.
"No, Alec. No, you won't die. Can't die. Not now. Not later." She pressed kiss after kiss to whatever her lips could reach. "No one is going to take you from me."
Cupping his cheek, turning him until he could see what she spoke, "You are mine."
With all that she was, she spoke the words, clutching at him, pressing her lips to his. She gave him her words, her honesty, her strength.
"You can't die Alec. No. I won't have it."
Words mumbled against his lips.
The question. The uncertainty tore at her. But the answer was clear.
Skin pulled and cracks began to bleed but his lips continued to curve into a smile. A smile for her.
Something shifted in her. Tangible, physical, mental. The sound of his heartbeat grew until she heard it as clearly as her own. His scent filled her head and she felt her body warm as it never had before.
A small part of her sent out an alarm. This moment was important, crucial, to everyone and everything.
Now was not the time though, not when Alec was still in pain, such pain. No, she would think about him, it was right. It was what she wanted.
Startled, she swallowed the unfamiliar surge of pure want, need. Although wholly inappropriate and at the worst possible time she couldn't ignore that she suddenly and fiercely wanted him.
Shocked and appalled, Alec chose that moment to begin a fresh bout of dry heaving. For the next hour she had no time to think of anything but Alec.