Wake Me Up When September Ends
Summary: The sequel to Just Another 48 Hours. Things in Terminal City come to a boiling point when old secrets are revealed and new threats emerge, causing Max to examine her relationships with everyone she holds dear.
Chapter 1: Hit the Ground Running
The only thing Max could hear was the sound of her heart pounding against her ears. All she could feel was the ground against her feet as she ran through the empty, dimly-lit streets of Terminal City. Most of the buildings were gutted and lifeless, acting as a shield against the outside world. The streetlights still worked in some parts, not allowing the darkness to completely consume the abandoned sector.
She knew he was gaining on her and she had no intention of letting him catch up. And if he did? Well, it wasn't like she didn't enjoy kicking his ass.
Too bad he didn't care. The adrenaline was rushing through him as he made that final stride to break the distance between them. He needed to stop her somehow. He pushed in her direction, hoping to find a way to overtake her. Their legs entwined together and both tumbled onto the concrete sidewalk. Who landed on top and who was on the bottom was unclear as they both struggled against one another, he was holding on and she was pulling away.
He knew he was going to stay in control of this situation. She wasn't going to get the best of him this time. As they rolled on the ground, each wrestling to win the battle, he remembered his former training and for the first time in a long time decided to utilize it. He flipped them both over and managed to trap her beneath him. His legs held hers in place against the pavement, while his arms secured her hands above her head.
"Get off me!"
Her voice was half-strangled, half-ferocious as she tried to break from his grasp. He was lying on top of her, pressing her into the hard and haggard concrete floor. This isn't happening, she thought as she bit down in frustration. She had beaten him how many times before?
He wasn't going to give her an easy time about it. Not like all those other times when he had underestimated her. This time the stakes were too high.
"Uh uh uh," Alec said with a wry grin plastered across his face. "You said not to go easy on you. And this is hardly my roughest."
This was not what Max had in mind when she asked Alec to help her train to fight with the Familiars. She didn't really want to train, she just wanted to have an excuse to kick someone's ass for yet another failed attempt at negotiating with the mayor that they were not a threat and only wanted their rights as citizens. The mayor had always been a tool. Senator McKinley's tool, as Max had come to learn when he refused to bargain with "freaks." City Council had taken a different route when they realized that they were diverting limited resources into the transgenic stand-off. They overruled Mayor Brooks and made a poor peace offering of listening to the transgenics' demands without actually doing anything about them.
It had been a difficult two weeks since Logan, Original Cindy, and Sketchy had left Terminal City. They had used an old closed off sewer junction to slip through. When they ran into sector police patrolling the area, Logan's excuse was that they were journalists looking for the latest scoop on the transgenic situation. It had gotten all three of them a night in jail for trespassing, but there were worse things in the world.
Being trapped underneath Alec was on that list. The problem wasn't that he had beaten her, she could make up for that easily when it was all over by smacking him around. No, the real problem was the compromising physical entanglement they found themselves in. He was on top of her, straddling her, and their faces weren't inches but centimeters away from each other. Her eyes immediately drifted to his full lips. She could almost taste his breath that was noxious mix of scotch and pork rinds. She could also feel the rise and fall of his chest against her. Alec's eyes were still unreadable except for the determination in his stare. Though his body was extremely tense in its efforts to hold her down, she could tell from the ease of his heartbeat that it was a game to him.
When was the last time she had gotten up close and personal with another man? Played and flirted and had fun? She didn't even want to think about the last time she'd seen any action, which was the intense, heat-induced evening with Rafer when she really thought about it. Had it been that long? No wonder being under Alec was making her skin crawl and burn with shame.
Great, add extreme sexual frustration to my list of problems, Max thought. No, she could not have those kinds of thoughts with Alec on top of her. She needed him off. Now. This was not going the way she planned at all. Well, if nothing else, she had managed to momentarily forget that they were stuck in the middle of Terminal City with a police barricade and an uncooperative government waiting to herd them back to Manticore v2.0.
"Off. This isn't sparring. I'm going to kick your ass!" Max gritted out as she struggled under his weight. Her angry glare was unwavering.
"Say the magic words," Alec replied sweetly.
The stupid cocky grin on his face only made her want to smash it in more. He was enjoying this.
"Kinky," Alec said, and then he was distracted with the thought. His grip loosened a little bit.
Max should have known. It gave her just enough leverage to push her head much closer to his. He'd let his guard down. They both realized what was going on at the same moment. This was only going to go one of two ways. She slammed her head against his, causing him to break his hold over her. While he was still reeling from the attack, she rolled him off of her.
In a split second she was back on her feet, and a swift kick to the chest let Alec know it.
"What the hell was that?" he demanded, clutching his ribs as he sat up.
"Fighting dirty," she replied smugly.
"Nice to see you putting that hard head of yours to good use. White doesn't stand a chance."
An evil grin spread across his face as he dodged the angry foot coming his way. Rolling further away from her, he finally got the chance to stand up.
"We're done for the night," Max said. "You're going to show me that move again later."
"Clothes on or off?" asked Alec, prepared to take another hit. He received two – one smack upside the head and a punch in the stomach.
Max just rolled her eyes as she walked back to the apartment she shared with Alec and Joshua to change her clothes. His scent was all over her. The last thing she needed was to walk around Terminal City smelling like she had been rolling around with him.
Her shift at Command was about to begin for the evening, and the last thing she wanted was to hear Mole bellyache about the transhumans doing all of the work in Terminal City. She had been hoping to blow off some steam before the next talk with Mayor Brooks, instead she was now more riled up than before.
Stupid Alec. With his nice body and nice lips and complete lack of good moral fiber, he made her remember that she still had those kinds of needs. No matter what she told herself about being a better person, she was still human with a little bit of cat thrown in for good measure. The human in her wanted to rip the clothes off the next available male X5, while the cat wanted to scratch Alec's eyes out for making her so damn edgy before she had to start the night shift.
He watched her walking away, her hips swayed in frustration. She was sexy as hell when she did that. He would have seriously pitched the 'friends with benefits' idea to her ages ago if he didn't think she'd kill him. But at the rate things were going with City Council, he was starting to reconsider it.
Alec decided to go to the abandoned gym on Kite Street before starting on his nightly activities, which wouldn't be including much sleep. The gym was the only place to get a decent shower, or running water in general. They didn't have much working by way of utilities in most of the buildings, and they had to conserve water in case the city did decide to cut them off. Alec was sure that he had taken cleaner showers in third world countries than in the gym. It was probably a hazmat team's worst nightmare, between the unmoving grime and mutated bio-warfare agents. Still, he just needed to get the bittersweet scent of Max off his skin before it sunk in. Damn his enhanced senses.
As he made his way over to Kite Street, he couldn't believe that he let his imagination distract him again. Being out in the real world was screwing with his concentration. And being around Max was screwing with the rest of him. Wrong choice of words. His mind instantly proliferated several different ways having Max underneath him could have gone. Her slender, lithe body had been writhing beneath his and he had done nothing with it? Of course he hadn't. She was someone else's girl, and even he drew the line somewhere.
A nice cold shower would fix him right up. Stupid Max. Alec should have just said no. No training, no chasing, no wrapping his legs around hers and… He pushed away the memories of how he got that hot and sweaty and breathless, because if he thought about it anymore not even the northern end of the Pacific Ocean would be able to cool his nerves.
It had only been two weeks since they were held up in Terminal City and it was already taking its toll on him.
The cold spray of the gym shower wasn't enough to wash away all of the pent up frustration and anxiety that had taken refuge inside of him. The pelting water was enough to quell the sexual frustration though. For the moment at least. He would probably wake up in the middle of the night wanting to rip the sheets apart with his skin blazing with desire. But he would end up sitting next to Max in Command, channel-surfing on one of the TVs in the corner.
Things had calmed down for the night shift once the flag had been raised, but he was sure that would change when they got the supply runs started. Negotiations with the government were in a deadlock. A series of back and forth's had resulted in them ending up right back where they started. No one tried storming the gates, knowing fully well that the casualty rate would be high and it wouldn't be worth the drop in public approval ratings that still held some sway over elections. In the meantime, Renfro's little breeding program was coming into fruition, meaning there were more mouths to feed with less of pretty much everything needed to survive.
Detective Sung had hopped on the transgenic bandwagon when Logan explained the situation, which seemed to be enough to convince Clemente to play a blind eye to the escapes of several transgenics and the lack of recent arrests. Of course, neither of the officers knew about the S1W playing courier service for the transgenics or that they had become involved in the cause. The less their supporters knew about each other, the better chances were of things going off without a hitch. It was easy to get caught up in personal agendas and forget that the transgenics needed help.
Arrangements for the supply runs were primarily handled by Logan at this point. He had found an old unfinished train tunnel leftover from long before the Pulse that the military had overlooked. The problem however was that though one end was open in Terminal City, it didn't have any exits until past city limits. That was why Alec would be spending this evening leading a scouting party out to secure the area for activity. He knew Max was counting on him, along with the rest of Terminal City, not to screw this up.
"Hey Alec!" a teenaged voice called after him when he walked out of the gym.
He didn't need to turn around to know that it was Dalton. Looking at his watch, he realized that it had been twelve hours since he last saw the kid. Well, this had to be a new record. His handlers at Manticore had given him more breathing room than Dalton did. Alec would have told him to hit the bricks long ago, but he came in handy every so often.
"Kid, shouldn't you be in bed or something?"
"What are you, my handler?" Dalton asked in an annoyed tone. He tried to appear less tense, and said, "Anyway, I was going to lift some weights while no one was around to bug me."
"She's not here," Alec informed him, impatiently glancing at his watch again.
"What are you talking about?" Dalton was pretending that he wasn't following Max around like a lovesick puppy, but the disappointed pout on his face told a different story.
"Oh, I don't know. A sexy brunette about yay tall," Alec said, making a hand gesture just above Dalton's head. "Attitude to spare an entire girl hip-hop group."
"You just described a third of the females on Oak Street," Dalton pointed out smugly.
Alec decided not to elaborate on the fact that he had been sparring with her to put the boy in his place. Or that Logan was probably the only man she would have eyes for. Usually Alec was all for telling it like it was, but sometimes people needed a little false hope to get them through the day. Dalton would probably catch on soon enough, no need to be the bearer of bad news. He hated bad news, let alone having to be the one to dish it out.
"Whatever. I'd love to stick around and chat, but I've got to scout the new tunnel," Alec said. The only highlight of this endeavor was that it wasn't a sewer. But instead of a light at the end of the tunnel, there would be Logan and a box of medical supplies courtesy of Rafer, some EMT friend of Max's.
"Can I go with you?" Dalton asked, stiffening himself a little in preparation for hard work.
"Sorry buddy, but the team is already assembled. We don't want too many people out there before we can assess the stability of the tunnel and secure the exit," Alec said. Luke and Nico, another X5, were enough trouble as it was. He gave the boy a reassuring pat on the back. "Next time?"
Dalton's disappointed pout mad a return. He let out a sigh. "Yeah, sure."
"Don't look at me like that. The whole wounded puppy look is only for the ordinaries and ladies. You need to man up," Alec told him. Then he sighed. "We'll work on it when I get back."
The younger boy nodded vigorously.
Oh what fun that's going to be, Alec thought to himself. As he walked by the younger boy, he tousled his hair.
What a way to start a night. First, he was tangled up with Max and reminded that he hadn't had sex in two months. Then he made some obscure promise to Dalton to teach him how to be a man. And something told him that Logan was not going greet him with a smile and a bottle of scotch.
After walking down a block and a half, then making a sharp left, Alec found himself at the old subway terminal entrance. It was housed in a medium-sized brick building that had all of its windows boarded up. It matched the surrounding dilapidated neighborhood, which appeared to be a center of nightlife in its heyday. Broken neon signs with bar names and empty outdoor restaurant sitting areas lined the deserted street, not a soul nor man nor beast lingered by them.
Ten clicks, just ten clicks stood between him and freedom. It would have been easy to tell them all that he had enough when he finally set foot outside of the perimeter, then walk off into the sunset without a care in the world. The funny thing was, it wasn't the kind of freedom he wanted. Not anymore. Max had shown him that.
A smirk pulled at his lips when he remembered Max had once asked him if he thought Manticore took care of him out of the goodness of its heart. She told him that it was just using him. He hadn't quite understood the difference until now. Looking at the sealed metal door to the tunnel, he grabbed the handle and pulled it. With a screech and shudder, the door didn't give much of a fight as it opened up into a black abyss.
So what if it was going to be a long night? It was his.
A/N: It's February 2009. A little astounding, isn't it?