A/N: Short one shot, sometime after S2.

Its funny how many S2 fics I've done comparatively to the S1 ones, seeing as how I like the latter better.

R & R !!


Max was tougher than all of them. As much as the newly escaped Manticore refugees hated to admit it, the 09'er who had gone rogue was probably the strongest of them all. The Terminal City situation had managed to reduce even the best of them to a state of utter hopelessness, but not Max. Max ploughed on with her 'cause', side by side with the ordinary she couldn't touch, with Joshua faithfully hanging after her every word, with Alec pointing out every flaw in her plan.

It was only a matter of time, they told themselves begrudgingly, until Max too would start losing hope. The authorities camped outside Terminal City would win, and they would be forced to surrender, and then who knew what would happen to them. The government's mistakes; the freaks.

But as the days wore on, and Max showed no signs of slowing down, even those with the strongest doubts started to change their mind. The X7s were pulling together to fix the communication systems, the X6s, with their brute strength started working on the perimeter defenses. The X5s and the not so aesthetically pleasing rallied the others together in preparation for the confrontation they all knew would happen one day. Not even the worst threats back in Manticore could have instigated such teamwork.

Max had singlehandedly done it. And soon, almost all the residents of Terminal City held her in their highest regards. She was the Manticore rogue who had bested them at their own game. She had been the only one who hadn't doubted their abilities in surviving, fighting, living. Max, they decided, was the true Manticore warrior.

But there were a scattered few, those who patrolled the perimeters at night and at day break, who managed to catch a glimpse of a Max very few of them got a chance to. Max, who would huddle close to the ordinary, poring over paperwork as night turned to day, working out equations and protein strands, conversing in hopeful whispers to the man she had given her heart to. Max, who would grasp his latex gloved hands tightly as they both went back to their respective quarters before the sun rose again.

Late one evening, two months into the Siege with small, hopeful signs of the government relenting, the patrol guards watched through dirt stained windows into the make shift laboratory where three people stood among the mess of medical equipment. Words were exchanged, and with a little surprise, they realized their leader had a tear running down her cheek. They recognized the flash of disappointment in her eyes, the clenched jaw and the trembling hands, as yet again, her hopes of a cure for the virus was thwarted. It was then that they realized, as strong as she portrayed herself to be on a daily basis, Max wasn't the perfect soldier they thought she was.

They turned away from the window as the doctor apologized, blocking out the voices from within the room. Max's quiet acknowledgment of the latest failure as she blinked back more tears burned through them like fire through oil.

She was just like the rest of them after all. Created by Manticore to be powerful and fearless, only really, amplified by her early escape and her second stint in captivation, it had left her more cracked and broken than many of them.


Reviews are very, very welcome :D

And no, I haven't forgotten my Xmas in July (August) fic. . . . It's coming, I PROMISE!