Author's Note: I kind of feel like I'm letting you all down with an ending like this, but it's all I've got. I guess I always thought I'd add more, or something. Don't worry...no one dies. Oh, and for one scene, I was thinking of Nathan Fillion in Serenity and that scene where they're on Haven and preparing to fly through Reaver space. Perhaps you'll know what I'm talking about. If not, well...just a fun useless factoid. Now read and (hopefully) enjoy.

Music Selections: 'This is my life' by Fefe Dobson, 'Leave out all the rest' by Linkin Park, 'Living on borrowed time' by Puddle of Mudd, 'Believe' by Staind.

Disclaimer: I own nothing involving Dark Angel. It's that simple.

Chapter 5: Believe

It had been weeks since the "underwear incident" as Max had come to term it, and a warm shiver went up her spine every time she thought about it. That was the only way she could describe it. Because while shivers were usually associated with being cold, Max felt anything but when Alec was involved.

Things had been moving along rather swimmingly, nothing much of anything happening on any front. The military was being relatively standoffish. The Familiars...well, she hadn't so much as heard nor seen a peep from them for months now. In the back of her mind, she knew this could only result in pain and destruction – mostly on their part – for they could only be so quiet when planning something. But, as usual, Alec was distracting her from what needed to be done. Even if nothing necessarily needed to be done at the present.

For once, it wasn't actually him physically harassing her. In fact, he was overall behaving. He was well-mannered. He backed off on the teasing. He didn't complain much at all when she asked him to do something. There were times when she caught him looking at her in a way that her mind wasn't ready to accept. But he didn't say anything about what had changed between them.

And that was something she couldn't understand.

While she was trying to figure all this out, the proverbial shit hit the fan. And who else but Alec would be the one to disappear when it did? She didn't know how or why or even when he'd disappeared, all she knew was that he was bound to end up right in the center of the storm. She had no idea as to where to look. But apparently, the boy could learn from his mistakes.

Alec called her the day after he'd gone missing with what could only be bad news.

"Alec!" Max called out urgently into the phone. "Where are you now?"

"The docks." Alec replied in a hushed tone, a hesitating hitch in his voice. He was hesitating about telling her something. He knew something was up and he didn't want her to know. "The factory behind pier six."

Max paused to think, fury pulsing through her veins. What did he think he was doing? Did he think he could actually leave on some random impulse at a time like this for no reason, or was he doing it just to piss her off?

She had to get him back so she could kick his ass to kingdom come for leaving in the first place.

"Max, no." Alec bit out commandingly, almost as if he could hear the thoughts swirling through her mind. "There are familiars everywhere. It's a trap. I can feel it."

"Which you're already in." Max retorted levelly. "See you in a few." Max finished in an overly cheerful tone, otherwise ignoring his warning. Snapping the phone shut, she turned to Mole with an unreadable expression on her face.

The look kind of scared him, to be honest.

"I'm gonna need a gun. A really big gun. And ammunition. Lots of ammunition." Max listed flatly, almost in a musing tone. Tapping her finger against her chin, she turned away and continued to muse aloud, rattling off all the things she'd require for the most likely impossible task of getting Alec back.

"Max, this isn't a good idea." Mole pointed out carefully as she continued to check off the weapons she'd need. Honestly, he thought she didn't even like guns. "Hell, even I want the pretty boy back safe and sound, but this...isn't safe. It's suicide."

"Did I ask for your opinion?" Max asked monotonously, glaring at him. Before he could answer, she continued. "No. I asked for your weapons. Get them for me." She then turned away and addressed another X5. "I need every available X ready to mobilize in twenty. Suit 'em up, load 'em up, and make sure they're ready to leave when I am. Because whether or not they are, I'm heading out in twenty."

ooomoaoo*ooovooooo*ooxooozoo*

Alec knew that it was a bad idea from the start. He should have known that the virus no longer had a cure. Not without the scientists and science that created it, in any case. Or at least that guy that had dug that bomb out of his brain and then vanished. But he had to find a way. He'd promised Max. This was something he had to do. If making her better made her happy, then he'd move heaven and earth to do so.

It would seem, though, that finding the cure here wasn't going to happen and he may actually have to move heaven and earth to find it. Once he got out of this mess, that is.

"Find 494 and bring him to me. And when you do, rough him up some. That should really irritate her and bring her to us even faster." Ames White ordered the group of familiars following his command. "But don't kill him. We need him alive to lure 452 out. She will come for him. She always does. When we have her secured...kill the transgenic filth."

Alec ducked back into the air duct he was hiding in after the conversation below ended and the group dispersed in all directions. He hoped they wouldn't grow a brain and search the high places. He knew he couldn't hide forever, but he also knew Max would be raging in anytime now, guns ablaze. Well, figuratively speaking, of course. Because like White mentioned, Max was never that far behind Alec. She'd show up eventually.

He just hoped she played it cool and didn't get them both killed.

ooowooo*ooocoooo*oooeoo*oooaoooo

"Give me back my Alec. Now." Max commanded, her tone frigid. So much for subtle.

"I don't believe you're in any position for requests, 452." White responded in an equally cold tone, gesturing around to the other Familiars that were beginning to surround her. He knew she'd come for him. For reasons he couldn't understand, they were particular about who they mated with. Most animals didn't have such decision making capabilities. It was take what you can get. These genetically designed soldiers weren't that far off from being such. And yet, it was noted time and again how they appeared to form bonds. It was strange.

And now he was using this particular bond to get rid of the most important one. And two for the price of one was always good. He had the upper hand. She'd acted too rashly. He didn't even have the other transgenic in his custody yet. They had yet to find him. But then again, he didn't need him here physically to bend 452 to his will. She was also adverse to guns. Did she really expect to leave here alive with 494?

Max raised an eyebrow and whistled three shrill, lilting blasts. Weapons being cocked and aimed echoed throughout the complex. White circled around slowly, mild amusement tweaking his features. He finished turning to find an automatic aimed at his forehead and a detached transgenic female on the trigger.

Apparently she was willing to forego her dislike of firearms when pushed to a certain extent.

"I believe I am." Max stated stoically. "Now bring him to me."

"Since when did this particular defector achieve such sentimentality? He doesn't belong to you. He is owned by Manticore. Meaning he is ours to terminate." White responded, stepping forward into the barrel of her gun, challenging her. It pressed coolly into his temple, his eyes devoid of fear. Like many times before, just because she was carrying one and threating to use it, didn't mean she would. He knew she wouldn't actually kill anyone.

"Fine then." Max said nonchalantly, shaking her gun from side to side a few times slightly. "Have it your way."

Leveling the gun away from him, she fired three times: hitting the familiar to his right, the one just over his left shoulder, and the one to his far left. All between the eyes and without removing her own unremorseful gaze from White's.

"Well done, 452." Ames White congratulated flatly, slightly amused. "I..."

"I'm finished talking." Max said, cutting him off. She then shot him four times – one in each bicep and one in each shin. His expression didn't change, but he sank to his knees in response, unable to hold himself up.

"Do whatever you want with the rest. I don't care." Max said in passing to the nearest transgenic. The transgenic nodded and hand-signaled to the rest of the group. Max continued walking further into the cavernous building towards the cluster of offices in the rear of the building.

"Have you found him yet?" Max asked as she neared the transhuman feline at the opposite end of the hallway she'd entered. She shook her head in the negative. Max closed her eyes for a moment, turning away and back in the opposite direction to continue the search.

"You seriously underestimate me sometimes." Alec said from above and behind her head. Swiveling around, Max watched as Alec kicked through the air vent from ten feet up. "I mean, come on Max. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's hiding." Alec finished, dropping down into a crouch at floor level in front of her, his head bent. Standing up, he dusted himself off and sauntered up to her.

Grinning cheekily, he asked, "So I'm your Alec now? Does that mean I get special perks?" He finished by wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Shaking her head at his ridiculousness, she couldn't fight back the grin that tugged at her lips as she pushed past him. If he played his cards right, he just might. He knew which buttons to push after all.

"Only in your dreams." Max retorted lightly, continuing towards the exit, the gun in her hand clattering to the floor forgotten.

"So that means OC will be there, too?" Alec continued in a eager tone, jogging after her.

Max looked heavenward for patience and didn't reply. Whatever did she see in him? It didn't matter.

He was simply her Prince Charming in her own twisted version of a fairy tale ending.

ooonoooooo*oooooxoooo*ooozoomooo

Ha! There. It is finally finished and you all don't have to hate me anymore. Well, I guess that depends on whether or not you liked the ending, that is. But what can I say? That's all I've got. It took me for absolute ever to proofread this chapter. Word of advice: don't watch Robin Williams on Broadway while trying to do something remotely constructive such as proofread. Umm...yeah. Confusing at all? And yes, Max and the whole "guns" spin-off is a tad bit off-kilter. However, I believe she'd abandon her dislike of using guns for a loved one. So much to do...so much to write... WBL.