This chapter takes place during Love Among the Runes. Don't know if this has been done before. With the amount of Max/Alec fanfiction that is out there, I suppose it has been. This story is only two chapters long. It's already completed on my computer.

Don't own anything.

"'Cause you're right. I mean, you had to say something. Only, you didn't push him away. I'm not sure what could. He let go, because he wanted you to be happy. Now, don't start crying on me, 'cause he said I had to take care of you."

Max said nothing to that. Truth was she had been feeling guilty about the lie after Alec's reaction. Alec was right. She had used him. The opportunity had presented itself and she had taken it.

She had been stunned that Logan would believe that at the time. It wasn't like he'd seen her kissing Alec. It had hurt, too. It had hurt that Logan thought that of her. It had hurt that he thought that her feelings for him were not as strong as his for her, that she could get over him so easily.

In the past month or so, that hurt had faded and she and Alec had actually become friends. That made the guilt worse. She looked up and leaned forward, intending to do something she had never really done before when it came to Alec. The apology was on the tip of her tongue when she noticed something. Something on his hand. Reaching out she took his hand.

"What the hell is this?" She pushed up the sleeve of his jacket. "You get a tattoo since the last time I saw you?" When she looked up at his face, he was staring at them, in shock.

"What are they?" Alec simply shook his head.

"Would you hold still?" Max faught the urge give Alec's head a slap. He had been fidgeting and quiet since they had discovered the writing on his wrist and uncomfortable at the attention. She turned to the monitor. "Well?" She asked Logan.


"'Huh'" as in, "'Strange, but I know exactly what it is, huh,'" or "'Huh, what the hell is going on?'"

"Closer to the second one," he turned his gaze to Alec, "So they just popped up? You didn't do anything...come into contact with anyone...drink anything?"

"Yeah. You didn't happen to drink a bottle of something that said "Tattoos From Within", did you?" Max cut in before Alec could answer, her voice filled with irritation and her gaze still on Logan.

"Hey, take it easy." Logan said.

"Sorry," she sighed. She wasn't sure why she was so irritated by this. It wasn't like Alec had gotten shot or taken by White again. It was just a bunch of symbols.

"They look a little like the symbol on Joshua's medallion. Maybe they're like your barcode-some sort of genetically-encoded imprint, designed to appear on his skin at a given time." Logan continued after a moment.

"Why me?" Alec spoke up finally, his gaze on Logan. "I'm just another one of the mass of transgenics that escaped when Max burned the place to the ground. Hell, I'm not even an original copy. Just another clone, remember?" This time, Max did reach up and slap Alec.

"What the hell was that for?" He rubbed the spot that she had hit, pouting just a little bit.

"For being an idiot." He frowned for a moment before he turned it into a blinding smile.

"You think I'm being an idiot?" He asked. Max smiled back at him.

"You're always being an idiot, Alec." Truth was, she did sort of hate it when he talked about himself like that even if she had been insulting him since she'd met him.

"It could be a message," Logan spoke up, looking a little irritated himself. "Maybe it's a message for someone else. Or maybe it's because you're just another one of the masses that he used you?" Max glared at him. She didn't like the way he said it, didn't like that some guy they'd never met was messing with Alec like this.

"So, who sent this message?"

"Father." Joshua spoke up from the side.

"You're freaked, aren't you?" Alec looked up at her, slinging his bag over his shoulder. He frowned after a moment.

"You think this Sandeman guy made a mistake?" His voice was light. "I mean, maybe Logan's right. Or maybe all this was meant for Ben. He was the first one, right?"

"I don't think so. It would have been coded to you specifically and probably after you guys were born." Alec shrugged.



"I'm fine, Maxie," he grinned at her and started past, patting her on the shoulder as he went, "but it's nice to know you do actually care." His grin widened before he disappeared out the door.

"Kinda freaky, huh?" Biggs asked, studying Alec's expression. Alec shrugged.

"You mean freakier than our normal, day to day lives?"

"Yes." Biggs said with a worried frown. Outside threats were easy enough to deal with. He wasn't really afraid of White or his agents. This was something different, something unexplained. They didn't even know if whoever was sending this message was on their side or not. Alec, however, simply rolled his eyes.

"It'll be fine. We'll figure it out."

"Alec?" Max walked over to where he sat, to where he'd been sitting since after they had found the snake the fake X-5 had left with them. She was planning on tracking him down but she needed to stop first, needed to make sure he was alright.

"I'm fine," he didn't try to smile, didn't joke. When he looked up at her, he let her know that he was lying without saying anything. She reached out, squeezed his hand.

"I'll be back later." He nodded. She hesitated before she left, hating to leave him alone now but she needed to find this guy. She wanted answers, especially about the writing that had appeared on Alec's wrist. She hated that they didn't know anything about what was going on. She needed to know.

"So, they're not here," White ripped her shirt.

"Hey!" White ignored her.

"I've got to say I am surprised. You are the one who's supposed to end this, aren't you?" He lifted her jacket and pulled out the pictures she had of the symbols on Alec's skin.

"Tell me, 452. Who's wrist is this?" Max shrugged as best she could tied up the way she was.

"You know, I'm not really sure. A lot of people coming and going now days..."

"What do they say?" C.J. interrupted them both.

"White got to you?" Alec asked incredulously, ignoring the party going on behind them.

"I'm fine," she rolled her eyes, "he didn't even get a chance to touch me." Alec scowled at her.

"You shouldn't have gone there alone." Max crossed her arms.

"It's not like C.J. was a great threat. I didn't know he was related to White."

"Exactly, you didn't know. But you decided to trust this guy to lead you to Sandeman, who by the way we don't even know is one of the good guys or not, and ended up in White's hands." Max glared.

"You are making a bigger deal out of this than it is. I'm not hurt. Besides, we did learn something."

"What's that?" Logan spoke for the first time. Max pulled out the pictures that they had taken of the symbols. "Did he tell you what they said?"

"No, but they sure as hell freaked him out. I mean, he made it sound like I was the Second Coming, here to foil his big, evil plan. Like I even know what it is."

"So, wait. The message is meant for you?" Alec asked, forgetting his anger for the moment. Max shrugged.

"Don't know. Maybe. Maybe he knew that we'd meet up someday..." Alec shook his head.

"How? Come on, Max. What if I hadn't been made your breeding partner? What if I had left town when you told me to a year ago? What if Renfro decided to do what every other one of my CO's back at Manticore wanted to do and had me put down? It's too many risks. If this is a message for you, why isn't it showing up on your skin? It would make more sense." Max frowned for a moment and then she stood abruptly.

"Renfro." She said, her eyes wide. She grabbed Alec's arm. "Alec, you said they wanted to kill you. Why didn't they?" He shrugged and his eyes darkened.

"Lydecker and Sandoval, all of them, thought that I was too much of a risk after I failed my first long term mission." Max winced slightly at the flat tone but she had to know.

"So, why didn't they kill you? Why did they let you live? Renfro overruled them, didn't she? Why would she do that?" Alec shrugged and she saw the anger flare in his eyes.

"I don't know, Max. Maybe she just liked torturing people." Max ignored the anger.

"Well, she was a bitch. But she also stepped in front of a bullet for me before she told me to find Sandeman." Alec glared at her again.

"That's great. So you went searching for a guy who was in tight with Renfro? So, what? She made me your breeding partner because she knew this would happen?" Max frowned.

"Maybe. Or maybe the message isn't for me. Maybe it's for you." Alec scoffed.

"Max, you're the one with the perfect DNA. At the risk of getting slapped again," he grinned at her briefly, "I am just another clone. So, let's say that you're right. Why me? Why not Ben? He was in your unit after all. She also sent me on a mission to betray you and kill Logan. She had to know that you would hate me after that if you didn't kill me yourself." He and Max glared at each other for a moment.

"Maybe there is a way to find out." Logan said. They both turned to him and Max noticed how uncomfortable he looked. She felt a sudden surge of guilt for the lie she had told.

"How?" Logan locked his gaze on Alec.

"We could test your blood again."

Next chapter's Freak Nation.