Loose the Hounds
Disclaimer: Not mine. At all. And, yes, a little sad about it.
Summary: A deadly riot is the catalyst for all kinds of change in Terminal City. MA.
So the muse has struck again… And apparently it was in a mood.
Alec stood in front of the gate, his arms crossed, refusing to so much as move a muscle until Max came through it. Alec knew that if he moved before then, he'd do something he'd probably regret. The most likely was beat Logan until he was unrecognizable.
Logan was standing behind him, or more like pacing. And if he so much as said a word, Alec would go ballistic.
The news had very kindly been giving them live, on-the-scene updates from the riot downtown. Max had managed to get away. She had. And she was going to come through the gate any second now. She was.
The mayor had agreed to a meeting, but had refused to let any of his people enter Terminal City on the grounds that their safety could not be guaranteed. Logan had brokered the agreement for a delegation of transgenics to meet with the mayor at city hall. Due to the volatile situation in the community, no one was to be aware of the meeting until after it had already taken place and the transgenics were safely back in TC.
Alec had been dead set against it. He'd warned them that it was too dangerous. Trusting the ordinaries when the town was ready to hang every last one of them was reckless and stupid. Alec knew all about reckless and stupid, when it was a good idea and when it would just get a person killed.
Once the delegation had arrived at city hall, the meeting had, of course, been leaked to the press. The newshounds had shown up and along with them the anti-freak brigade. While the meeting was going on, the group outside had swollen, growing from a loud, obnoxious crowd into a full-blown, angry lynch mob.
Max and the four others who'd been chosen to go with her hadn't had a chance. The sector police hadn't exactly been working to ensure their safety either. From the looks of the footage the news had been showing over and over, the sector police had basically set up a perimeter and let the mob do whatever they wanted. Max and the others had been caught off guard. It looked like they'd been forced outside the government building and locked out, fed to the wolves.
The others had formed a square around Max, protecting her as best they could, fighting desperately to get to the perimeter. They'd fought to the last man to get Max out. From the news, it looked like one second she was there and the next she was gone. Alec's best guess was that they'd found a sewer entrance and closed the manhole cover behind her. The TV people were warning viewers not to let children see the next few minutes of video. Its gruesome nature hadn't stopped them, however, from showing it over and over again.
The four transgenics who'd gone with Max had been torn to shreds. It was worse than Biggs. Worse than CeCe. And it had almost been Max.
"Where is she?" Logan asked anxiously, not for the first time.
Alec didn't bother to answer, focusing on not hitting Logan. Max would be mad if Alec beat the crap out of him. Max was on her way back. She had to be, or Alec was going to scour every last inch of sewer in the city to find her and drag her back to TC where he was going to lock her up and refuse to let her out ever again. Especially not the next time Eyes Only had one of his brilliant ideas for bettering the transgenic cause.
A hint of movement caught his eyes, but the door didn't open and Alec thought he must have imagined it. Then he realized what he was seeing. Fingers curled around the door trying to push it open. All of TC's exterior doors were purposely heavy. Ordinaries couldn't just barge through, but a transgenic's strength could easily open them.
The guard who'd been on duty and waiting with them also realized what was happening, peered through the crack and then pulled the door open wide.
Max didn't release the door fast enough and stumbled forward as it pulled her inside. Alec tried to move to help her. He really did. His mind was screaming at him to go to her, but he couldn't get his body to obey.
"Max?" he managed hoarsely.
"Max, are you all right?" Logan moved toward her, stopping just outside virus-approved distance.
All right wasn't even close to what Max was. She was bleeding from some sort of head wound, bruised, scratched, nicked, cut, hunks of her hair had been torn out, and that was just what Alec took in at a glance.
"Alec?" Her barely audible whisper was all it took to break him free from the paralyzing inertia.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the surprise on Logan's face that he wasn't who she'd asked for, but Alec ignored it. Max needed someone who could actually help her and didn't have the energy to placate her on-again, off-again boyfriend.
Alec stopped in front of her, not sure where to touch her that wouldn't hurt her further, although he doubted she was feeling much of anything. Max looked shell-shocked, eyes wide and staring.
"They trashed my bike," she said blankly.
Logan shook his head. "Max, we're worried about you. It doesn't matter about your b-"
Alec made an abrupt slashing motion to silence him. Logan might be Mr. Touchy-Feely, but he was severely lacking in experience with someone in this state.
"They trashed my bike, Alec." She looked up at him, eyes freshly troubled. "Why would they do that?"
"I'm sorry about your bike, Max. It's gonna be ok." Alec grabbed his phone and dialed Command. "Mole?"
"Max is back. You have a status?"
"The mob was moving this way, but the sector cops are finally trying to break it up."
"You got the guard doubled?"
"You think I'm an idiot?"
"I can always depend on you to protect your scaly hide."
"Only way I could depend on you to do it was if I was made of scotch."
Alec almost smiled, but the sight of Max stopped him. "I'm gonna take care of Max. Let me know if anything changes."
Alec could tell Mole wanted to ask about Max, but couldn't without looking soft. Alec thought about giving the guy a break, but the truth was that Alec didn't know what to tell him. He ended the call, put his phone in his pocket and once again gave all his attention to the woman standing in front of him. "Max, can you walk to your apartment?"
"What?" she asked, confusion on her face. Her eyes weren't quite focused and Alec stepped closer still. "Alec?"
"It's me, Max. I'm right here."
"Ok, good," she whispered. Max's eyes closed and she fell forward into him. Without missing a beat Alec swept her up in his arms. Her head was resting against his chest and he was newly furious to see where her magnificent hair had been torn out in hunks. The blood from the head wound somehow seemed less offensive than the loss of her hair.
Alec turned and gently carried her toward her apartment building. He felt rather than saw Logan following, and had to fight not to snap at the other man to go away. This was Logan's fault. Max was in this state because she had listened to him instead of to Alec. Alec had told her it was too dangerous. He'd told her the situation outside TC was too volatile to trust the ordinaries with her safety. He'd begged her to demand the meeting be held on neutral ground, close to TC where she could run if she needed to.
It was barely a week since the Jam Pony incident. If news that the mayor was meeting with them leaked, it would result in disaster. Logan had blocked him at every turn. He had assured Max that the mayor's staff was trustworthy, that it would all work out, that brokering a peace with the ordinaries was worth the risk.
Alec had furiously fought it, begged for a different meeting place than the ordinaries' territory, anything, but Max had agreed with Logan. Alec had then insisted on going with her as security, but once again Logan had blocked him. He'd come up with all sorts of reasons that Alec should stay behind, all because the jealous jerk didn't want Max's second around her any more than necessary, especially since Alec had been ousted as her fake boyfriend and Logan was getting his hopes up again. Max had agreed to that too, saying it was too dangerous to risk them both at once. She would go and Alec would stay behind. The only thing Alec had been able to talk her into was the security team. Alec had handpicked four transgenics whose specialty had been personal security. They'd been trained as deadly weapons to be used to bodyguard whatever military type or dignitary might need them.
And now they were dead. They'd been torn apart, protecting Max to the bitter end.
FUBAR didn't even begin to describe this mess.
Logan hurried in front of them and opened the door to Max's apartment. Alec carried her inside, ignoring the jealousy plain on the other man's face. Max opened her eyes groggily as he set her down on the sofa. He tried to get her to lie down, but Max protested, suddenly more alert.
"Back," she said roughly.
"What's wrong with your back?"
Alec sighed and helped her to sit forward so that she could at least rest her arms on her knees for some support. He then went to the bathroom, gathered a few first aid supplies and returned, sitting on the coffee table facing her. Max was barely conscious. Alec very efficiently washed her face and examined the wound on her head, which he saw was already closing on its own. He'd brought a comb from the bathroom and very quickly parted her hair farther to one side to disguise the worst of the damage. She'd just have to live with a different style until her hair grew back. Alec then began to wash the scrapes and nicks that covered every other bit of exposed skin.
"My bike," she said once again.
"I'm sorry about your bike," Alec replied softly. "We'll get you a new one. I promise."
"No reason for them to do that." She looked up at him, sorrow plain on her face.
"No." He set the cloth he'd been using to wash her hands aside, and took her chilled fingers in his. "There was no reason."
Abruptly, Max stood and moved away from him. Alec stood, too, not knowing what she intended. He doubted Max knew either.
"They… they're dead? The team?"
Alec simply nodded. He knew she'd been trying to keep the truth at bay. She'd focused on a different loss, something personal, but more acceptable. Her bike. But Max took too much responsibility to allow herself to ignore the true loss for long. She knew the other transgenics had died to protect her.
Tears, huge droplets, began to fall down her cheeks. Alec watched her face crumble and without even thinking he pulled her into his arms. Her knees gave way and Alec sank with her to the floor, holding her while she silently wept.
Alec wanted to tell her that it was all right, or at least that it would be all right, but the words stuck in his throat. Instead, he simply pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her trembling form. This wasn't Max, not his Max. This was a tired, battered, traumatized woman who had to be protected until she could be the Max he knew again.
Alec caught movement in his peripheral vision and looked up. Logan was shifting from foot to foot, pain, anger and resentment all plain on his face. Alec just didn't understand how a person could live with their emotions so close to the surface. If he wore his like Logan did, he doubted Logan would still be in the room. He'd have already run for his life.
"I got this, Logan," Alec said quietly.
Logan's face clouded with fury. "If you think I'm leaving-"
"If you think I was giving you an option…" Alec's voice was hard, unflinching. Max wasn't herself because of Logan's insistence that the plan would work and Alec wasn't in the mood to be the affable, easygoing guy Logan knew.
"Max needs someone here who actually cares about her," Logan snapped.
"She has someone here," Alec replied, his tone icy. "I'm the one who told her not to go."
"It shouldn't have happened like that," Logan said, deflating visibly.
"Go away, Logan. Max will call you when she's ready."
"I don't think-"
Alec felt a smile begin to form, a malicious predator's smile. "If you want me to hit you, just keep talking. Cause there's nothing I'd like more than to hit something right now."
Logan must have finally caught on to just how angry Alec really was because he took a step toward the door.
"In case you're still wondering, that was absolutely a threat," Alec said plainly. "Now go away."
Logan glared and Alec almost felt a twinge of respect that the man still didn't back down when many a lesser man would have. "Tell Max I'll call," he said, his gaze falling to her and the worry and guilt immediately returned along with the jealousy that he wasn't the one holding her.
Alec didn't bother to respond. Instead, he let his eyes fall to the woman still crying quietly in his arms. He heard the door close behind Logan and felt the tension drain away, leaving sorrow and exhaustion behind in its wake.
Alec gently smoothed a hand over Max's hair. "It's ok, Max," he lied. "It'll be ok."
You were warned… A definite mood. More soon…