Authors' Note: The evil plot bunnies have mated again. I got Everfaithful addicted to Dark Angel, and this is what came out. We're totally screwing with canon on both shows, but it's all in good fun! We're also addicted to reviews, so help us out!

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Sam stayed close to his brother as they walked through the streets of Seattle. They had been to Seattle once before, and this was nothing like he remembered it. Nothing was like Sam remembered it, but he didn't say it out loud. Dean knew. How could he not?

They were shooed away from most of the city, because they didn't have the right papers to get past the gates, and now it was getting late and Sam was hungry and tired. He didn't complain about the empty tummy, and pointedly ignored its growling. But tired was much harder to let go of and he found himself leaning against his brother as they walked, very nearly asleep on his feet.

"Okay." Dean said. He was hungry and tired too. And confused. This wasn't the world he remembered, where you needed basically a passport to cross certain streets. Maybe into Mexico, but not a street. A lot of people with guns walking around, driving home the fact that he was defenseless right now. But he found an old apartment building. "Should be some place in here. Come on, Sammy, let's find somewhere to sleep." Food would have to wait until tomorrow.

Sam nodded. "Okay." He said and looked around them. Everyone looked like the sort of person their father warned them to stay away from. He was doing his best to be brave in the face of this strange new world but 10 wasn't a particularly brave age. But he had his pride, he wasn't a little kid after all. He wasn't going to embarrass his brother like that. He didn't even fuss when Dean opened an apartment door that looked like it had been kicked in recently and followed him inside. It made all the cheap hotels they had lived in look good, but it was someplace inside, where they could try and figure things out...some place that meant he didn't have to keep walking.

Dean sat on the floor. There was a lot to figure out, and he wasn't sure how. First, they had to find their father. Okay, second, they had to find their father. First, they'd have to eventually eat. He got up and started to pace, running across an old worn newspaper. "Sam...." He said, before he thought better of it. The date was completely wrong.

Sam went to his brother's side "What is it?" He asked. And glanced at the news paper. "That can't be right." He said, going to pick it up. "Can it?" He asked looking up at his brother for confirmation.

"No, it can't be right." Dean said, shaking his head. "That's impossible." A lot of things were impossible. He shook his head again. "Maybe it will all make sense in the morning."

"Maybe it's someone's old joke newspaper. They make them look like old time newspapers. Kevin Gilbert had one in my class that he got from the fair. Had a picture of him as a wanted bank robber and everything. Maybe this was just one that made up to look like it was from the future or something." Sam suggested and started to walk around the apartment. There was one bedroom, and it had a mattress on the floor. It looked terrible but it was a mattress at least. He wanted to cry but didn't. Dean would be upset if he cried. "How are we gonna find Dad?" He asked instead. "Maybe we could find a phone somewhere tomorrow and call Pastor Jim, he always knows how to find Dad."

"Good plan." Dean said as he found a tattered thin blanket. "We'll do that in the morning. He'll take collect calls from us." He was so tired. "Come on, we've slept on worse mattresses. Remember the one in the motel that we got lice from? This one already looks better."

"Dad was so mad about that too." Sam said. "Then he took us training for a week since the school said we couldn't come back until they were gone. I hated that place." He said, getting onto the mattress. "We don't have any salt, do we?" He said, suddenly feeling very much vulnerable. There was no salt, no weapons. Nothing to keep them safe if something came to get them, and something had already been to this place once to kick the door in.

"It was funny seeing Dad have it out with the motel manager though." Dean said. "No salt." They weren't even in their own clothes. They were basically in hospital scrubs. "But we gotta sleep."

Sammy nodded and lay back on the mattress, using his arm for a pillow. "We're gonna be okay though. I know we will." Because he had faith in his brother. Dean always knew what to do. He was in high school now. That meant he knew lots of stuff and how to do things. Their dad would be looking for them too. He'd find them, and he would be proud of them for getting away on their own.

"Yeah, we will be." Dean said. He'd always make sure his kid brother was safe. This was no different. "Night Sammy." He'd sleep, he was exhausted, but he would try to keep one eye open. Just in case.

"Night, Dean." Sammy said and closed his eyes. Morning came early, and he wakened to the sounds of people out in the halls. Noisy people, arguing, laughing coughing. Just going about their every day morning lives, as though this place was perfectly normal, as though it were all they had ever known. He sat up in the bed and wiped the sleep out of his eyes.

"Morning, Sammy." Dean said as he handed his brother some bread. "People next door have some food. They might miss it, might not." He said with a shrug. His brother needed it more than they did.

"Thanks." He said and took half of the bread, leaving the rest for his brother. "It will be good to see Pastor Jim again." Sam said. "He'll come get us. And then we'll find Dad. All we have to do is find a phone and hope we can get to a place he can get into."

"Eat it all, Sam. Believe me, I already had my share." Dean said. He wasn't lying either, had to make sure it was alright and safe for his brother. Then he realized he was hungry and ate half the loaf, bringing the other half back for Sam.

Sam made short work of the bread. It was the first thing he had been given to eat since their abduction. It was nothing but bread but it tasted so good right then. It had been two days since they had escaped. It was all still confused in his young mind. Fires, alarms going off, people running past them in military uniforms, children in military uniforms. Everyone yelling or screaming. Smoke filling the air. They had escaped in the confusion but it had been like a dream really. They had been walking for what seemed hours before his mind had stopped feeling hazy. "So where do we go now?" He asked, having finished off the bread.

Dean remembered slightly more, but not much. He remembered ripping the IV out of his arm and staggering until he found Sam and ripping his out. Slapping Sam's face until he woke up, then taking off running. Away from the smoke, into the woods, until they at last found civilization, with a sign saying Seattle, ten miles.

"We go find a phone." Dean said. "And find out the real date."

"They kept us asleep for a long time." Sam said as he got up and pulled on the shoes they had been able to find the next morning. "But it couldn't have been that long... could it? I mean... more than a few days or something."

"No way." Dean said. "We'll figure this out." He said as they headed out. Dean kept himself between his brother and everyone else until he found a pay phone. And dialed Pastor Jim's number.

"The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected. No further information is available."

Dean hung up the phone and stared at it. He was out of ideas now.

Sam looked at Dean, worried now. "He wasn't there?" He asked. That wasn't good. In fact, that was beyond not good. He looked up at his brother, wondering what they were going to do now, but he didn't ask because he didn't want to hear Dean say he didn't know. He would just stand there waiting until Dean told him what came next.

"The number's been disconnected." Dean said and took a breath. Then another. Then another. Thinking rapidly. "Okay, let's go find the date at least."

"I saw a news stand a couple blocks back." He said and started to walk that way. "That's kinda weird since it's the church's number and all that." He said aloud, and wished he hadn't. It just made it even more clear how messed up things were. Which made him more afraid. Not that he was going to say that to his brother. He didn't want Dean to think he was chicken. Being scared wasn't something that their father would ever have allowed. At least not without something trying to hurt you.

Dean just gave his brother a tight smile as they got to the news stand. And he went through each newspaper, even as the guy barked at him. "Oh fuck." He said. They all said the same date. June 15, 2020.

They should have said around the last date that he remembered. August 19, 1993.

He put the papers back and grabbed Sam's hand. Not knowing anything else but to just keep walking.

Sam held tight to his brother. He was in shock. Nothing made sense. It wasn't possible that they could have slept for 27 years. That was beyond impossible. He swallowed deeply and let his brother lead him along. Was anyone they knew alive? Bobby wouldn't be, he was old in the 10 year old's estimation. Was that why Pastor Jim's number was disconnected? He wiped his eyes and tried not to think about it as they headed back up the stairs into the apartment building.

Dean led his brother back to the apartment they'd stayed in. In complete shock. It took a lot to make Dean speechless, but he was completely without words now.

Sixty six. Their father would be sixty six this year. Would be, should be, could he be? He sat down on the middle of the floor and held his brother. "I'll figure this out, Sam." He said as he heard people coming into the building. Dammit, in his shock he'd left the door open.

Max, having just gotten her job back at Jam Pony (not that THAT was a big life accomplishment) was walking with Original Cindy when she stopped in front of what (last she knew) was an empty apartment. Still looked empty, except for the kids inside. "New neighbors?" She asked. Maybe OC knew something.

Original Cindy shrugged her shoulders. "Let's find out." She said, pushing the door open the rest of the way. "Hey, welcome to the building." She said, although the kids looked like they had been through 10 miles of bad road... in a hospital no less.

"Thanks." Dean said, making sure his brother was slightly behind him. Even if they were just girls.

"New in town?" Max asked, eyeing their scrubs.

"Yeah." Dean said. Why wouldn't they leave? He couldn't figure this out and talk at the same time.

"What hospital did you escape from?" Max asked with a grin. And that one threw Dean off.

"Um....well.....uh....."

Sam gasped when she asked that question, how could she know? "We didn't really. Just... it was what we could find." He said, it was a little lie, hopefully it was one his brother could back him up on. In this strange world he would rather someone thought they were thieves, than know where they had gotten away from. He didn't want to go back there.

"Kid, chill." OC said. "Ain't no one here gonna get all up in your face. You got parents?" She asked. "Are they with you, I mean?"
"Our mom is dead." Dean said. "We don't know where our father is. We got separated." Another white lie. They were separated. Twenty seven years ago. "We just got here."

"Looks like it." Max said, looking around the apartment. She remembered how scared she was when she was separated from her unit when she'd first ran. "You know, I think the Solomans vacated. They leave their stuff behind?" She asked her friend.

"Yeah I think so. I know the door over there at least closes and you two are definitely going to want a better door." She said. "Why don't we all go take a look over there and see what we can figure out. " Cindy said.

Sam looked at his older brother, waiting for him to give a yay or a nay to the offer. It would be nice to have something to sit on while they sorted it out.

"Once a month they come through here and pretend to do a sweep to get rid of all the squatters. But one of the guys is on the take, so we all pay our part and life goes on." She warned the kids. It wasn't going to be easy for them but there were ways, and she figured between her and Max, they could keep them from finding out the quick and easy money was often deadly or worse.

Dean nodded at Sam and followed the two women to an apartment up the stairs and to the left. The door actually closed. And there was actual furniture. "Thanks." He said.

Max couldn't help it. When she'd taken down Manticore, she'd released everyone from the infirmary. And she supposed all scrubs looked alike....but the older boy had shorter hair. She checked out the back of his neck for a bar code.

And somehow felt disappointed when she didn't find one.

"Don't mention it. So what are you two doing for food and money?" She asked.

"We don't know yet. We're still working on that." Dean said. He didn't want to admit in front of Sam that he was completely lost and had no idea what he was going to do.

"Okay I'm Original Cindy, and this is Max." She told them where their apartment was. "You come see us if anyone gives you any trouble."

"I'm Sam." He piped up, then moved instinctively behind his older brother. He probably shouldn't have said that. But it couldn't really hurt, could it?

Dean nodded at Sam. First names couldn't hurt. "I'm Dean."

"Sam and Dean." Max repeated. "Any questions, you come see us." These poor kids looked lost. Absolutely lost, and on top of that, confused.
"You two have anything to eat today?" Cindy asked. She had the feeling there was more to their story than having just gotten separate from their father. They were cautious, closed mouthed about things that most kids, even in this neighborhood would have been blurting out right away, in the hopes of getting help and life back to normal. She looked over at Max for a moment then back at Sam, who was the more open of the two.

Sam nodded. But he wasn't about to say what or where Dean had gotten it. What if it had been their bread? That would be bad.

Dean had the same thought as he shared a glance with his brother. "Yeah, we had breakfast." He said carefully.

Max nodded, watching the two. "Oh shoot. Come on, OC, we're late for work." She said.

She rolled her eyes and started for the door. "You two stay out of trouble, cause there is allotta it to be had around here." She said and waited for Max in the hall way. This had all the ear marks of trouble on the hoof. She didn't know what had happened to those boys but something had them spooked and whatever that was, it was gonna come knocking on Max's door, which just happened to be her door.

"Relax." Max said when they were outside the building. "They're not Manticore. No bar code." She said. "Probably just two scared kids running from a bad situation."

"Yeah, cause all trouble that comes to town is Medicare." Cindy pointed out. "Still, those hospital clothes. That ain't normal... speaking of Normal, we gotta speed this whole walking and talking thing up. "

"All my trouble links right back to Manticore. And I shut the bitch down, remember?" Max said with a grin as they walked faster.

"And brought it home with you too." Cindy pointed out as they entered Jam Pony. "Still, can't hurt to keep an eye out for honest work for the older of the two." She said carefully within hearing range of Normal.

"That's right, look for more messengers for me." Normal said, coming by with packages. "I'll need someone to replace you. You're late. Hot run over in sector seven." He said, handing her package. "And you, heart transplant only get sympathy for so long. Bip, bip, bip!"

Max rolled her eyes. "And here I thought Manticore was bad." She whispered to OC.

"I said honest work, Normal." Cindy said heading for the door. "Not slave labor."

Sam looked over at his brother after having explored the apartment carefully. It was another one bedroom, but that wasn't so bad. They were used to living in a single room most of the time shared with their father."It's not so bad. Better than the last hotel we were in." He said as he walked over to a window. "Do you think Dad is... you know...gone?" He asked, closing his arms across his chest, willing it not to ache at the thought.

"I don't know." Dean said honestly. Twenty seven years. Damn. "I hope not. But I haven't figured out how to find him yet. I will though." He assured his brother. He had no clue, but he'd figure it out.

"What happened out there... do you think it was an apocalypse or something?" He asked his brother. Tears were forming in his eyes at the thought of his father, now an old man. John was a hunter, hunters didn't live to be old men. Not really old like their dad would be now. Some monster would have gotten him and Dean wouldn't have been there to patch him up, or drive him away from the fight. Who would he have come back to after a fight? "He's gonna be pissed when we find him." The tears fell now, silent tears, but tears none the less. He wasn't really thinking about how mad their father would be, he was thinking about how scared and sad their father would have been over the last 27 years.

"Yeah, I know." Dean said, looking out the window with his brother. This wasn't the world he knew or remembered. "Come on, let's go see if they left any clothes behind we can wear. Obviously we can't wear scrubs." Besides, their scrubs were dirty and torn in places now anyway, from their travels.

They found a few things left behind on the floor of the closet, and in the drawers of one broken down dresser. They were too big for Sam and were a little small on Dean but not too small to be worn. They found that the water was still running in the bathroom and the previous tenants had neglected to turn off the hot water heater. Next thing Sam knew, he was in a tub of hot water and ordered to scrub himself clean.

Dean sat on the cracked toilet seat and played with a towel. "Okay, so first I have to figure out a way to get money. And even better, that paperwork to move in the city. Because we can't look for Dad if we can't cross the street." Dean said. "That's all I've figured out so far. Money, food, papers."

"Okay" Sam said as he scrubbed the last of the road dirt off of his body. He frowned, looking at the bruise that had formed where the IV had been."What can I do to help?" He asked as he got out of the tub and reached for the towel in Dean's hand.

"We just gotta stay low for now." Dean said. "I'll figure out dinner. I'll think of something." Every other time he'd been left in charge of Sammy, he knew his father would be back in a couple of days. Two, three weeks at most. Now, he didn't even know if his father was out there. And if he was, what kind of shape he was in.

"You're not gonna go out there alone, are you?" He asked, looking worriedly at his brother as he dried off and dressed in the too big clothes. He could handle this strange new world, he could handle being without their father but the thought of losing his brother, that he couldn't handle. "What if the people that took us are still out there?"
"I'm not going alone. You're not leaving my sight, not until we figure this out." He said as he pulled the drain on the tub and started to scrub the ring Sam had left behind. He still needed a shower after all. "So what should we find for dinner?"

"Not bread." Sam said rolling up his pants then attempted to roll up the sleeves of the too big tee shirt but failed, leaving him with sleeves down to his elbows. He did manage to tuck it in so that it wouldn't hang to his knees.

"Agreed, no bread." Dean said as he refilled the tub to clean himself off. "But hey, I checked out the mattress, it doesn't smell. So there's some hope, right?"

"We're not prisoners any more. I can be happy with a non stinky bed." Sam said, taking Dean's place on the toilet lid to wait. "But not with another loaf of bread." He said with a laugh. But if that was all that could be found it would be enough and he would eat without complaining. "It'll be okay, Dean." He said, seeing the worried expression in his brother's eyes. Dean always took care of him, and he rarely ever complained. Sam wanted to do more, wanted to help, but he didn't know what to do.

Dean scrubbed quickly, though the hot water felt good. He dressed in the loosest clothes he could find, he'd have to figure something out soon. If he ate a full meal, he was convinced that he wouldn't be able to get these pants back on. "Okay, I have an idea." He said. "We'll get some money, we'll get some food, and that's what we'll do tonight."

Sam nodded. "This is going to be one of those times that I just stand there and keep my mouth shut, isn't it?" He said as he tied his shoes. "And salt. We need to get some salt tonight."

"We definitely need salt." Dean agreed. Brick wouldn't hard to come by, they'd just have to break it up themselves. "And yeah, just stand by quietly." But his little brother was hungry. And he needed clothes that fit properly. And they had to find their dad. So if it was illegal, Dean was going to ignore that and just get the job done. Wasn't going to be his fault if people fell for his schemes, now was it?

"Okay... " Sam said. He had absolute faith in his brother. They would have dinner tonight and they would be safe. The rest would happen because Dean said it would. And if it didn't, it would be because... well he didn't want to think about the because to that, but it wouldn't be Dean's fault, what ever it was.

A couple of days later, Max was settled in. As if none of it had ever happened. The scar on her chest was completely gone, had to love the way transgenics healed. She had her job back, she was back at her apartment, even her bike was nicely tuned.

Whoever was pulling the strings on Manticore had been shut down, for a bit. She'd convinced Logan to help shuttle as many transgenics as she could find up to Canada, where there wasn't martial law. She'd thought of it once or twice herself, but she liked her life. She'd fought hard for her life. It was just when the past kept cropping up to bite you in the ass that it seemed to suck.

OC came in with a small net bag of groceries. "So what plan's you got for the big day off?" She asked. "A whole day without Normal." She said. "Does it get any better than that?"

"Don't jinx it." Max said with a laugh. "Thought I'd take a long bath. Then go see what kinda trouble I can get into. You know, the kind that doesn't end up with me on a wanted list. We meeting up at Crash tonight or do you have a date?"

"Nah, Original Cindy is on her own tonight. Crash sounds like a plan. Catch up to you there at seven. You think your boy can stay out of trouble today?" She asked.

Max rolled her eyes. "He's not my boy." She said. Again. She was often saying that to Original Cindy. "And I don't care. He's a grown up, or thinks he is."

Cindy scoffed. "Yeah a'aight, you don't care. How come you're always saving his dumb ass?" She countered as she put away the food she had brought home.

"Because he's a dumb ass." Max said, as if that was obvious. "Because he's one of the transgenics that I let loose on the world. Maybe I'm saving the world from him."

OC laughed at that. "At least the female population." She said. "That boy is a menace. So have you seen the kids lately? Ya think they're okay?" She didn't want to be the one to go check on them.

"I saw them heading in when I was headed out." Max said. "They looked healthy enough. Cleaned up, fed, that sorta thing. I tell you though, something about the older one bugs me. I know, he's just a kid, but he just bugs me!"

Cindy laughed. "He's a teenaged boy that is already looking down every blouse in town, what's not to bug you?" She said. "Good. Glad they are settled in. We should warn them about when the rent is due. Anyway, I don't have the day off so I am off to work. See you at Crash tonight."

"See ya." Max said and took her bath. Then went to where the boys were living. Rent was coming due after all.

Dean opened the door. "Hey." He said, and she took a quick look around the apartment. Both boys were in clothes that fit. Food was present. And even a second mattress. Well, the last part, and possibly the first part could be had if you knew where to get them. The kid was a fast worker.

"Hey." She said. "Pay off's due next week."

"How much is it?" Sam asked, hoping it wasn't too much. Dean had worked hard to get them the things they had. He also hoped they wouldn't ask about parents. His father's words still ran deep. Strangers finding them alone would take them away from each other and put them in foster care. Foster care was worse than anything else they had been through in Sam's mind, it was the great black monster lurking over the horizon, watching for the worst possible moment to swoop down on them.

She named the amount and Dean nodded. He had it on hand. So they were set. "So any luck finding your dad yet?" She asked and noticed right away both boys shut down.

"We've got it." Dean said. "It's all under control." Of course it wasn't. But he wasn't going to tell her that.

"Yeah, nothing to worry about. Thanks for telling us though." He said. He liked Max, but she had that way of looking at them that made him wonder. She was searching. Not the nosy neighbor kind of searching, but the way his dad used to look at things when they would enter a new place. Caution, curiosity, watchfulness.

"All right." Max said and headed out. Dean shut the door and sighed.

"Okay, so I think I know a bit about where we were being held. Apparently some VA hospital of all things." Dean said. "Explains the military uniforms, I don't know why they were recruiting kids. Some terrorist group blew it up. Think it has anything to do with Dad being a Marine back in the day?" His brother was only ten. 'Only' ten. But he felt better when Dean bounced ideas off him.

"But why would a VA hospital be holding kids hostage? We weren't sick. Maybe it wasn't really a VA hospital. You know, how people make up stories to cover up the demon stuff when it happens so that no one asks too many questions."

"I know." Dean said., Unknown to either boy, Max was right outside the door. She'd stopped short and started to listen when they were talking about a VA hospital that got blown up. There was no VA hospital. It was Manticore, and a terrorist group hadn't blown it up. She had. "I don't even know who took us, that's the part I hate the most. There's no one to get payback from."

"What if they took Dad too?" Sam asked. "You don't think..." the kid swallowed hard, "you don't think Dad was in there when the place blew up, do you?" The chances of his survival was good, after all they had survived, and their dad was even better at stuff than Dean. But that would mean he had been caught coming after them, and had probably been hurt too. It would take a lot to be able to capture their dad.

"If he was, then all we gotta do is hold tight." Dean said with a bit of a grin. "No one tracks better than John Winchester. And if we got out, he definitely got out."

Max leaned against the door and nodded. Okay, the father's name was John Winchester. She might be able to look that up....but they didn't seem like Manticore kids. Now she was confused, which made her groan in aggravation. Because now she'd have to get the answer.
Alec had spent the day doing what he loved best. Making money with very little work involved. Although if anyone had told him how much work was involved in his schemes he would have laughed at them. It didn't feel like work to him. He flashed a smile and sold them what they wanted. Everyone wanted to believe they were an honest man. They also wanted to believe they were getting the better of someone else. So Alec just let them believe they were getting what they wanted. In the right circumstances, he could sell someone a piece of glass and convince them it was a diamond. It was a skill, it was a joy. And in Alec's were there weren't too many joys, so you took the ones you could get and you didn't think twice.

He was enjoying a drink at Crash, relaxing, shooting pool, laughing. It was a good day.

Max did not enjoy talking to Alec. She was never sure when he was honest, and when he was running a con. And he just got under her skin. For probably many reasons. But she came into the bar and headed straight for the pool table. "We need to talk." She said. "Now."

"Nice to see you too, Max." Alec said. "I'm doing fine, thank you, yourself?" He said taking his next shot, having no intention of jumping just cause she decided she wanted his attention right then.

"Great! Small talk's over. I'm serious." She said. "It's important. It's, about, you know, sharing childhood memories?" She offered. She couldn't exactly come out and say it, not here.

Alec took a deep breath and tossed money on the table. Walking away was the same as losing. "Fine, but the drinks are on you." He said. "Maybe next time, boys." He said, setting down the pool cue and walking away. "Okay so what's the deal?" He asked.

Max brought over a pitcher of beer and took him to an isolated table, where they wouldn't be overheard. "Fine, you were there longer. And last time I was there, I was locked up." She said. "But I've got two kids in my building, without bar codes, and they were there. They said they were taken. Do you know anything about that?"

Alec looked thoughtful for a moment, searching through his memories at manticore the way others would sort through files. "No... no I don't. How old are they? Could they be the kids of some of your unit?" He asked, figuring that would be the only reason Manticore would abduct children.

"The oldest, Dean, he's 15 tops. No younger than 13 though." Max said. "The youngest, Sam, he's around ten I think. I heard them say their last name is Winchester, and that their father might have been taken too. So you don't know anything then?"

He shook his head. "You're sure they were at the facility? I mean... yeah, I wasn't in on all the top secret experiments or anything but, it doesn't sound like Manticore. Then again... Manticore did a lot that didn't sound like Manticore."

"I was listening outside the door. They said they were in a facility, they didn't know how long. Then they woke up, and there was fire, and smoke, and kids in military uniforms. People shooting all over the place. Sounds like the last night at Manticore to me."
He shrugged. "Yep, sounds like home to me. So you talk to them about it yet?" He said as he filled his glass again. "Did you ever notice this stuff has no effect? Yet still it satisfies." He figured she hadn't because that would mean answering questions herself. Max hated answering questions.

"No, I don't know what to tell them. They're weird. Not Manticore weird, but just plain weird. Like they have no idea what's going on at all. And they're trying to fake their way through."

"Weird. How weird can they be? They're kids. Lost, no family, just escaped from the big bad evil Manticore." He said, more than a little sarcasm in his tone. "Yeah cause that's gonna make for a normal kid."

"That's not what I meant." Max snapped. "It's like they're out of place. You know what, never mind. I should have known you'd be absolutely no help."

"You know...You are a negative person." He said. "Or maybe you are just spoiled, cause, damn." He said finishing his beer. "Guy doesn't give you exactly what you want on a silver platter and suddenly they are useless. You want me to talk to these kids for you? Is that it? Or maybe you want me to hold your hand and say it's okay to be weirded out by a couple of kids. Or maybe I'm just a convenient sharpening stone for that tongue of yours." He said and then smiled. "But you know what? I don't care." He got to his feet.

"Fine, you go talk to them, and then I'll mock you for being weirded out by them." Max said, watching him get up. Alec tended to bring out the worst in her, and she knew that. She just didn't know why.

"Fine, I will. " He said. "Let's go. So they are a couple of kids from Manticore. So are we. What are they gonna do? Out run us?" He asked with a grin. "Come on, lighten up, Max. "

She gave him a look. Lighten up? Did he have to treat everything as a joke? "Fine." She said, getting up. Though now she had their father's name. She'd have to swing by Logan's and have him run the name for her.

Alec wasn't exactly taking it as a joke. He didn't like the idea of innocent kids trapped in Manticore any more than he liked the idea of transgenic kids being there. But any time he took things seriously in front of Max, she made it pretty plain that she figured he was lying anyway. So why bother? Besides, it was more fun to get under her skin than let her get under his.

He followed her not saying anything else.

She led him back to the building and jimmied the lock open on the apartment. "They're not here." She said as she walked around the apartment. It was a normal apartment, and had come fully furnished, so there wasn't much in the way of personal touches from the boys yet. "Sector passes?" She asked, picking up a couple. "They've got enough for a dozen people."
"These are good too." Alec said as he looked them over. "Damn good. Okay... so your boys are either making or stealing sector passes... at what 13 -15 was the age span you said the oldest was at? No bar codes you say, could they have just not reappeared yet?"

"It's possible." Max said with a shrug. "Wonder if salt keeps out bugs?" She asked, looking around. The whole place was lined with salt. The floors, above door frames, on window sills.

"Not that I know of... we all get taught some freaky rituals... " Alec said, frowning trying to figure out what was going on. "Or.. these kids belong to some master forger, but why would Manticore take them? That's the part I can't make sense out of. If they aren't transgenics, why were they there? Manticore isn't big on the whole hostage taking thing. Too many ways it can go wrong. Usually they have a problem they send one of us to take care of it." He said, jaw twitching a little as he walked around the apartment.

"Maybe they were leverage?" Max asked. She was running out of ideas as she circled the apartment. "Wow. They've been here a week, and they've scored clothes that fit, food.....and music." She said with a chuckle, finding a ramshackled CD player that still worked. And CDs in fairly good shape. "Metallica? Motorhead?"

"Not a clue." Said Alec as he looked around. "Who ever they are, they work fast. They might not be transgenics but they aren't normal either. Okay... so you get to be weirded out." Alec wasn't sure he wasn't a little weirded out himself. "And they are definitely wasting their talent if they are making copy like this and living here. Kid could be making a couple grand each off of these things."

"All you ever think about is money." Max said shaking her head. "But thanks. Glad I'm not the only one weirded out. Okay, we better go see Logan." Dealing with Logan most of the time was much easier with a buffer. And she was perfectly willing to use Alec as that buffer.

"What do you think Logan is going to be able to find out?" He asked as he exited the apartment. "And I didn't say I was weirded out, I said it was okay for you to be." He knew he was along to play chaperone. Bugged him a little, but at the same time it bugged him less than her going there alone. Although what bugged him most about the entire situation was that it bugged him in the first place.

"You're weirded out." She said. "And Logan can run their names, their father's name, see if there's anything on file for these kids. With a whole mess of stuff being declassified, maybe something will turn up. Other than sector passes and salt, this apartment is a total bust."

"Let's go then. A perfectly good day off is being wasted standing here waiting on you." He said with a quick smile. "Or are you stalling?"

"I'm not stalling." She said with a scowl. "Why would I stall? No reason to stall. Let's go." She said, moving past him. "Waiting on you now."

"I don't know... wouldn't blame you really." He said as he walked along with her "What with that whole touch him and he dies thing. I could see where you would want to totally avoid that. Besides...what exactly is it you see in him anyway. Let me guess... it's the eyes."

"You wouldn't understand." Max said, shaking her head and picking up the pace. "Alec, someone like you can't understand someone like Logan. It's impossible."

"What does that mean? Someone like me?" He asked, shaking his head. "You know what... the real question is, does someone like him understand someone like Us?" He said, giving her a look. He didn't think Max actually understood someone like them. In fact, he was sure of it.

"Someone like us?" She asked. "What does that one mean, huh? Someone like us. You and I, once you get passed the mix and match DNA, we're nothing alike, Alec."

"And you and Logan are?" He countered. "And I got news for you, Max, you have more in common with your dog faced pal, than you do with Logan Cale." He said bluntly. "But hey, whatever moves your furniture. His funeral." He shrugged.

"We're obviously not moving furniture." She said. "You know, the whole virus thing. Remember? You were to make sure I delivered it in the first place. You know what? Forget it. Let's just see what's going on with these kids."

"Yeah... I was." He said. "You're right. We're *nothing* alike." He added and fell silent the rest of the way to Logan's fancy high-rise. He didn't understand Max. She spent all her time worried about every other transgenic on the planet but him. He was the great walking evil that somehow exemplified everything Manticore was. She didn't know what it was to be prepared for a mission, not a real mission. She didn't know what it was to fail at a mission. She thought Manticore play school was hell on earth. Poor little Maxie and her so called family. They deserted, they made it harder for the rest of them, and she had the nerve to stand there and judge him? What ever.

They got up to the penthouse and Max let herself in, as she always did. "Logan?" She called out.

"In here." The computer room. Where he always was. "Hey." He said with a smile as Max rounded the corner, and forced it to stay on his face when he saw Alec right behind her.

"Logan I need a favor." She said, keeping careful distance as always. "I need you to run a name for me. John Winchester."

"Might be a popular name." He said, turning back to his keyboard, where he could let the smile drop off his face. "Any parameters?"

"Two sons, Dean and Sam. Samuel maybe." Max said.

Alec stood back and watched as Logan worked. Okay, he watched the dynamic between Logan and Max while Logan worked. It was enough make him want to puke. Saccharine. He was glad they couldn't touch. If they could, he probably would.
"I'm not finding anything recent." Logan said. "How far do you want me to go back ?" He asked, not sure what Max was looking for.

"Keep going back." She said on a hunch. And not one she liked. "They said their mother was dead, but didn't give me a name."

Logan shrugged and kept looking back, scanning old newspapers that were online. Going back until he got a series of hits. "I think I'm off base." He said. "Birth announcement for Dean Winchester, born in Lawrence, Kansas. January 24....I know this isn't what you're looking for."

"Why?" Max asked.

"Because he was born in 1979. Son of John and Mary Winchester." Logan said as he scrolled through the listings. "Samuel Winchester, son of John and Mary Winchester, joins proud brother Dean in Lawrence, Kansas on May 2, 1983. Obituary for Mary Winchester November 2, 1983. House fire."

"This can't be right." Max said. "1979? He'd be in his forties."

"Missing persons report filed here in Seattle. Dean and Sam Winchester last seen in Seattle, Washington, at a motel that doesn't exist any more." Logan said as he turned the screen around.

Max's jaw dropped. "That's them." She said, seeing the pictures. "Alec, that's definitely them."

Alec looked at the screen. "The older ones... familiar some how... cute kids though. Okay, look you say you heard these kids talking about what sounds like the night you two blew Manticore. " He said. "What's to say that an organization that can splice DNA and grow armies in test tubes can't put a couple kids on ice for a few years?" He said. "The question is why. That would be costly, and they wouldn't waste the money or time on hostages."

"Looks like we have to track them down and talk to them." Max said. "Thanks, Logan."

"You made it sound like these kids don't know what's going on." Logan pointed out. "If they've been on 'ice' for a few years, like Alec said, you need to be careful in how you approach them."

"Are you implying that our girl Max is lacking in sensitivity? I'm shocked." Alec said with a grin. "Don't worry. We'll handle it. Kid gloves and all."

"Maybe you're the one that should sit this out." Logan said. "Kid gloves on your hands still isn't very comforting."

"Stop it. Both of you." Max said. "This is a Manticore problem. Alec and I will handle this. Let's go."

Alec was surprised at that one. He waggled his eyebrows briefly and followed Max out the door. "Okay, so what's the plan of approach on this one? Start with the fire and work back?"

"Kill 'em with kindness." Max said. "Maybe we need some candy." She said thoughtfully. "I don't know anything about kids. And neither of us can compare. At their age, I was on the run, and you were living the Manticore dream."

"At that age I was in and out of Psy-ops. I wouldn't call that the Manticore dream." Alec said. "Okay so you know lots of normal people, ask them about kids. Your roommate should know what to do with one. I don't know."

"Let's play this by ear." She said with a sigh. "Okay, if you were peddling sector passes, which I know you do, where would you go?"

"Come on." Alec said and started to head down a side street. There were places where people were desperate to get out of town. Judging by what the kids had in that apartment, it wasn't the places he would normally peddle his wares. The reason they weren't making as much money as they could be because kids -normal kids anyway- had soft hearts and would take less from people they identified with. Desperate, scared people, without a whole lot to lose.

The trouble with that sector was that it was dangerous.

"You're kidding me. You think they're at the 5-6 border?" Max asked. "Kids today." She followed him to the border. "Okay, maybe an alley? You remember the picture from Logan's computer? They look exactly like that."

"They aren't making money for a reason." Alec said. "And this is where the people are desperate enough to take a sector pass off a kid." He looked up and down the road focusing in the distance on the people milling about the streets. He pointed at what looked like the pictures he had seen and looked to Max for confirmation.

"That's them." Max confirmed. "Remember, nice and easy. You promised kid gloves."

Dean had pocketed the money someone had just handed him when he saw Max and a guy. "Crap. Sammy, maybe we should try another corner...." he said to his little brother, who was busy reading a book that Dean had gotten for him.

Sammy got to his feet and put his book mark in place. "Okay." He said looking around and saw the others approaching "Too late... here she comes. He doesn't look like a social worker. Maybe he's her boyfriend."

Alec approached casually. "Hey." He said. "I'm Alec, Max here tells me you're new to her building. " He said, offering his hand to Dean. There really was something familiar about this kid. It kinda made his skin crawl cause he couldn't figure out what it was.

"Yeah, we got there about a week ago." Dean said cautiously, shaking his hand. "This is my brother Sam, I'm Dean."

"Really tough corner you've got here." Max said, looking around.

"Yeah, well, supply's meeting demand." Dean said, shoving the rest of the passes in his jacket. "We're just gonna head home now, so, you know, see you around?"

"What's your rush? I was just gonna take Max to get something to eat, why don't you come with?" He said, figuring anything blunt and direct would scare the kid off. So would an immediate offer to buy.

Dean glanced at Sam. Okay, it was around meal time. And maybe they could convince this guy to pay for it, save their own money. "Okay." Dean said.

Max smiled. "Great. I know a wonderful little restaurant around here. Quiet, food's great. And Alec is paying!" She said with a bright smile. "Right, Alec?"

"Sure, " he said, doing his best to cover his initial reaction. "Hey, what kind of man takes his girl out and doesn't pay, huh? So, lead on." He said. "She has been dying to show me this place." He said, grinning at Max, two could play at that game and it would be worth spending a little money to make her keep up the act.

"That's right." Max said. "He spoils me." Maybe if she took the kids shopping later, she'd con Alec into buying something she could hock later. Worth a try. They got to the restaurant, and Max couldn't wait to see the look on Alec's face when he was handed a menu. "Order anything you want."

Sam looked at the menu, the looked over at Dean. He barely kept from laughing out loud when he saw Alec's face. He thought the guy's eyes were going to bug out. It reminded him of the look his brother would get sometimes.

"Yeah. Whatever you want." Alec said. "You didn't tell me how incredible this menu was, honey." He said to Max. Oh, she was going to owe him big time for this one. Not even other people's money grew on trees, this was going to be more than a little money. But the mission was the important thing right now, and that was finding out more about these kids, without spooking them.

"I was saving it for a special occasion." Max said with a grin.

Dean looked between the two of them. "What? Is it your anniversary or something? Are we crashing something?"

"No, no crashing." Said Alec, giving Max a look. "Not a real anniversary, that's next week. 4 months... isn't that right, honey? Four months since we met." And she kicked him in the balls. Now she was trying to kick him in the wallet. The girl was a terror. "But no...we just happened to be over this way and she knows I came in to money today. Nothing unusual."
Sam studiously studied his menu. "Hey Dean, they have meat...real meat here...You okay Alec?" He asked. "You looked like you were about to throw up." They were up to something but as long as Dean didn't blow the whistle, he wouldn't either.

"He's fine, aren't you, sugar bear?" Max said, sweetly. "He's just getting over a little bug, big baby." His revenge was going to be a bitch, but the instant gratification of this moment was worth it.

"Ooh...meat." Dean said, momentarily distracted as the waitress came over. "I'm definitely going to have the steak. With mushrooms. And potatoes. Sam?"

Sam nodded. "Me too." He said, he didn't know when they would see meat next. It was rare these days. Besides, he was hungry, and it would be good to be completely full again.

Alec nodded. "Yeah... I'm alright." He said. "But I think I'm gonna keep it light." Mostly because he knew Max would order big as well, because that was how the game was played. Their own special version of cat and mouse. Or in their case, cat and tom cat. "But that's okay, Maxie takes care of me when I'm sick. She's such a sweetheart. Always worrying about me." He placed an order for something made of chicken. He wasn't even sure what it was having ordered it by number. He looked at the menu and the numbers swam around in front of him. So much for that TV he wanted to get with this week's earnings.

Okay, she had a twinge of conscience. And tried to beat it down. But with the waitress looking at her expectantly, she didn't have quite enough time. She didn't order as big as the boys. But she didn't get a salad either. She wasn't that conscientious. More midrange with veal. "He's easy to worry about." She said to the boys with a smile.

"Yeah." Dean said. "You two are bad at this. This whole winning us over with kindness. Are there cops outside waiting for us to finish dessert?"

Sam looked up at them and looked back at his brother, ready to run at a moment's notice.

"Nah, nothing like that." Alec said. "We just wanted to talk to you about some hard subjects and didn't want to scare you off in the first five minutes." He told the kid honestly. He gave Max a look. They were smart, and they were street wise to some degree.

"Good. Because we're having dessert." Dean said. If they were going to freak out Sammy (and him) they'd have to pay for dessert.

Max nodded at Alec. Might as well. "I had a friend looking for your father...." Max said. "And well....."

"Did you find him?" Dean asked before he could help himself.

"We don't know who we're looking for." Max said. "Dean, when were you born?"
"I'll be 15 in January." He said. That was more or less the truth. He certainly wouldn't be 42.

"Okay, but what year were you born?" Max asked again, differently.

"Dean's 14 and I'm 10." Sam piped up, hoping to diver that particular question. That was usually what grownups wanted to know if they asked your birthday. "I just turned 10 last May."

Alec took a deep breath. "Okay... let's try this another way... how old is your father?" He asked. "Because if we're looking for a man in his late 30s and he's actually say... 60 something, that makes it harder to find him."

"Sixty six." Dean admitted. They had to find their father. "He's sixty six."

"Had you two kinda late, didn't he?" Max said as the waitress laid down their plates, and walked away. "So where are you from?"

"Around. Dad's a salesman. We moved around a lot." Dean said as he started cutting his steak.

Sam stayed carefully quiet and ate his food. Dean would better know how to handle this than he would. He wouldn't pipe up until needed. He knew this game. They played it with every adult they encountered when getting to a new school. Sam missed school.

Alec could just imagine what the man sold, since the kid had picked up forgery damned quick. "Okay. who did he work for? I know some people, place called Manticore. They had salesmen, liked to travel a lot." The kid might be too slick to bolt, but the eyes would give them away if they knew anything about it. "A couple other companies out there too. We need all the information we can get if we're going to find him, or sort any of this out."

The name Manticore meant nothing to Dean as he shook his head, his wide green eyes showing that. "No, he worked independently. He doesn't like to have a boss." He said with a shrug as he ate.

Max looked at Alec. Kids sucked. They weren't getting any of the answers they needed. Could they play hardball with kids? But Dean obviously knew nothing about Manticore.

"Okay... how about this... how did you get separate from your father? Look, we're only trying to help. I'm not with the government, I'm not a cop or a social worker. I'm just trying to help." He told them. Something about this kid... both of them...it bugged him, he felt like he should know their faces.

Dean looked down at his food. "We don't know." He said. "We were in a motel. We went to sleep. Dad wasn't back yet. And then....the room filled with smoke, and it knocked us out. Next thing we knew the room was filling up with smoke again, except we weren't in the motel room, we were in some sort of lab, and I had to take an IV out to get out, and I grabbed Sam and we started running."
"That lab was down the road from Seattle, wasn't it?" Alec said. "The news was calling it a VA hospital, right? Look, I'm gonna be honest with you... we did some checking, or that friend of ours did and he found your pictures, attached to a missing persons' report, but it doesn't match up with your ages. I'm not gonna think you're crazy or call the tabloids or anything... so you can tell me the truth... did you go to bed in 1993 and wake up in 2020?" He asked quietly and with a gentleness that wasn't expected with Alec.

Max gave him another look. She was surprised, and maybe a little impressed.

Then rolled her eyes a bit to herself. He'd probably been well versed in interrogation techniques.

Dean exchanged a nervous look with his brother and took a couple breaths. "Yes." He said. "That's pretty much what happened." He looked at Alec and Max. "It wasn't a VA hospital, was it?"

"No. It was a lab for a secret government operation called Manticore." He said, still gentle. "They weren't very nice people. But the good news is Max here and her buddy, the one we have looking for your dad, took it down that night." Well okay, Manticore took itself down, but Logan had started that chain reaction because of Max. "There could be stragglers so we have to be careful still, but I don't think you have to worry about them coming after you."

Dean shook his head. "Secret government operation? Why would they take us?" He asked. "We're just kids."

"We're going to find out." Max promised. "And we'll find out about your dad."

"Okay." Dean said. "What's for dessert?" No matter what they said, Dean was wondering if it was time to move on.

"What ever you want." Alec said, no begrudging thoughts in his head, especially as the younger boy looked like he was about to cry, and was desperate to hold it back. "Look, I know this is all scary. I do... and I know that if I were in your shoes I would be planning to get the hell out of dodge on the next train. But I can't help you if you take off."

"Why are you helping us, anyway?" Sam asked. Looking up from his now empty plate, and fixing Alec with a steady gaze and a very nearly firmly set jaw.

Alec could make out a little quivering there. He thought that he would have been proud to have these two in his unit when he was that age, and instantly felt guilty about it. He wouldn't really wish that on anyone. Least of all someone he figured he could like if he got to know them.

He took a deep breath. "At first because Max asked." He said honestly. "Now, because ... because Manticore is a... thorn in my side, and I think you two deserve to know what happened and why."

"Why do you hate Manticore?" Dean asked.
"Because we used to live there." Max said. "We were....created there."

"Like clones?"

"Exactly like clones." Max said. "More or less."

And here Dean thought he'd spent way too much time watching late night sci fi movies. The B movies that barely were in theaters because they were so laughable. Now he figured he hadn't spent enough time watching them.

"We're not clones." Dean said. "I remember Sam being born. There were pictures of me in the hospital when I was born."

"No... you aren't clones. They would have been training you like they did Max and me if you were clones. I don't know why they took you." Alec said. "But we'll try and find out, and try and find your dad. " He told them. "In the mean time... there are much better and safer places to sell your wares. Who taught you to forge like that? I saw some of your work. It's good."

"My dad." Dean said with a grin. "He could do pretty much anything."

"Yeah, well, this isn't the place to be selling them. Sector police come through every once in a while and clear it out." Max said. "Not to mention the natives get restless. A cute face only gets you so far.'

Dean grinned even more, and smirked at Alec. "Watch out, dude. She thinks I'm cute."

Alec laughed. "Oh believe me, I can handle the competition." He said, eyes twinkling merrily as he looked over at Max. "I got the day off tomorrow. I'll show you a better location. Introduce you to a few people." He said.

"He laughs like you, Dean." Sam said and looked up at the waitress who had come over to see if they wanted anything else. He ordered the chocolate cake that came with chocolate frosting, chocolate ice cream and fudge sauce.

Dean ordered a large sundae for himself, then took Sam to the bathroom. Max turned to Alec. "So what do you think? Total waste of time that I brought you here?"

"No... but if they don't come back in five minutes, we're hightailing it back to their apartment. " He said. "They need help, but I don't know what we can do other than help them adjust."

"Alec, you're still adjusting." Max pointed out. "But I knew they were out of place." She felt vindicated on that point now. And he had scoffed at it too.

"They have to adjust to a whole new world, not having a father, and growing up. I just have to adjust to not ... being there any more." He said. She didn't need to know all the details of that. Right now they weren't friends, they were... distant relatives that you had to put up with. That didn't put her on the need to know list for Alec's world. "I think I can handle helping out here."

"They're just kids, Alec. You're not getting a side kick out of this situation, got it?" She said as the boys came back and she put her adoring smile back on.

"I wasn't-" he started, then stopped short. Yeah finishing that sentence would work so well. "Hey, just in time for dessert." He said, putting the smile back on.

Sam wasn't sure what to make of all of this. Part of him was waiting to wake up from the dream so he could tell Dean all about it. Part of him knew that things were always going to be this scary for him. But Dean was there, he could make it through if Dean was there.

"Chocolate. I really like chocolate. Dean would rather have peanut M&Ms than anything else but I just like chocolate in general."

"Man after my own heart." Max said with a grin, and Dean chuckled.

"Thatta boy, Sammy." Dean said, patting his little brother on the back.

"I can take Sam back to the apartment while Alec shows you around?" Max offered. Big meal like this, kid was bound to get sleepy. But Dean automatically got defensive and scooted closer to his brother.

"No." He said firmly. "He's fine with me."

"It's all good, they can both go with me." Alec said. "Where I'm going, it's fine. Safer than where they were anyway." He said it off handedly as he finished his own meal. He couldn't help but wonder what it must have been like to grow up like a normal kid. Most of his unit envied Max's unit their escape, if they were being honest. Except the twins. They tended to be a bit resentful. Alec envied the brothers sitting there in front of them. Their life sucked as much as his and Max's, but they had each other. They weren't alone. Even if they probably felt that way without their father around.

Sam watched Alec, catching the far away look in the eyes, even if it flashed quickly. "Are there schools here?" He asked. "We're not gonna be in trouble for not being at school, are we?"

Max shrugged. Public schools had gone by the wayside when the US was turned into a third world country. There were still private schools though. But Dean would have to do a lot of hustling to afford that, and that wouldn't leave him time for school anyway. "Not really." She said. "Welcome to 2020." She explained about the pulse, in a way kids could understand it.

So no school. Dean wasn't sure if that was upsetting or not. But he knew his brother. His brother, for some reason, loved school. Even when they were switching schools every month. He may have hated being the new kid, but he liked school itself. "I'll figure out something, Sam."

"Are there still libraries?" Sam asked, suddenly not very sure that the year 2020 was a good place to be. No school, if there were no libraries, how was he supposed to learn anything? He would be stupid by the time he was an adult. He was smart for a 5th grader but Dean knew way more because he was older and had gone to school longer. "I don't want to be stupid."

"Sam, you're not stupid." Dean said quickly.

"I know some guys with a lot of books." Max said, thinking of Joshua and Logan specifically. "And I'll get you into a library. No worries."

"Okay." He said, relaxing a little, but it didn't last long. "I just ... I don't wanna be a grown up who didn't graduate the 5th grade... " he took a deep breath and swallowed hard. "I'm gonna be a drop out...we gotta find Dad... I don't like this place... I want to go home." Home meant the Impala and a sleazy motel. It meant the smell of gun oil and leather, and salt in all your clothes. It wasn't here in this strange place where you couldn't cross the street without a pass, or buy chicken nuggets made of real chicken.

"There's lots of ways to learn, kid." Alec said. "Not all of them sitting in a desk and reading what's on the black board. Give us a chance to work something out."

"Sam, it's okay." Dean said, putting an arm around his kid brother. "I'll figure something out, I promise. You're not going to be a fifth grade drop out." Though he wished they could just go back to sleep and wake up and it was 1993. That would be great.

Max watched. The younger kid seemed on the verge of a full on freak out. And the older kid took it in hand, like he'd had to do that a lot. She wondered how normal they really were. "How about we get you two home? Alec can show you around tomorrow." This was a lot for one day.

"Actually, yeah, that would work better for me anyway. That okay with you two?" He asked, looking between them. The younger boy seemed to calm down when his brother reassured him. He was so young and had been through so much, and yet he was freaking out about school. Not being kidnapped by an evil government agency. But the fact that there would be no school. He definitely did not understand that one. Logan probably would. Yeah, Mr Perfect strikes again and he wasn't even there.

"That's fine." Dean said, working on consoling Sam. He'd figure out something. For Sam, he'd figure out anything. "Yeah, we're ready to go back to the apartment now." It wasn't home. It wasn't even really theirs yet. It was filled with other people's stuff. And, dammit, it wasn't 1993.

"You guys go on." Alec said. "I'm gonna take care of the bill and head home myself." He said. He wanted to look into a few things, and he didn't want Max along for the ride. She would freak if she knew he was headed back out to the base. There wouldn't be anything there, but he had to look any way. He was stubborn like that.
"Thanks, sweetie." Max said as she stood up. "Come on." She said to the boys.

"If you need us to turn around so you can make out, we can." Dean offered. He was fourteen. He knew about girls. And he knew a hot one when he saw one. If he were an adult, he'd be making out with one.

Alec's eyes twinkled. He was thinking about it. He was thinking about it hard core. He grinned at Max. It would serve her right for the restaurant and everything else, but then he would have to live with her afterwards. Or at least see her on a regular basis. "No... Max isn't into PDA." He said instead. "We don't make out in public, even with backs turned."

Max exhaled. Alec didn't take the bait to humiliate her. Okay, so Alec got a point in her book. Not that it touched the negative points or anything. "Come on." She said to the boys again. "I'll see you later, Alec." That was a given. They hung out at the same place, they worked at the same place....

"I'll be around." He said and carefully didn't look at the check until everyone else had left the building, and then he very nearly choked. He lay down the money and left the restaurant, heading back to Logan's high-rise. He wasn't going in to even a dead Manticore installation without back up. Even if that back up was Logan Cale.

He let himself into the condo and strode into the computer room. "Don't you ever get out of this room?" He asked.

Logan half turned and saw Alec and raised an eyebrow. "Don't you ever knock?" He responded dryly. "I'm working on tracking down John Winchester, remember? I've only found three hundred of them. What do you want, Alec?" It was strange for him to come around and not be tagging along after Max.

"Max and I talked to the kids. They 'fessed up about being from the past." Alec rolled his eyes at the look from Logan. "We let them have dessert before pulling out the rubber hoses, don't worry. They'll be out of the hospital in a week, tops." He said in his usual off handed way. "I'm going back to Manticore, to check what I can find in the remains. Oh yeah, they said their father would be 66 right now. They are the kids from missing persons report by the way, so there's your John Winchester for you. So anyway... how about a little back up?" He asked. "Max is taking the kids home."

"Which means you didn't tell her about this part." Logan said. Figures. Alec was nothing but trouble on two genetically engineered legs. "What are you hoping to find there? You know the government already went through the place with a comb and took out anything that could possibly be of use."

"Yeah... well no one is perfect, not even the government. You never know what you can find out there. Especially when it involves some project that no one knew about in the first place."

Alec had a point. So Logan got up, his legs were good for a few more hours before they needed recharging. "All right then. Let's go." He said, grabbing his jacket and a camera. "I'll drive."

Less than an hour later, they were at the remains of Manticore. Just a shell of a large building, barely patrolled. Even Logan could get past the guards as they made their way into the wrecked building. "Okay, you talked to them. And you know your way around, where to?"

He paused to think for a momen

, then turned to follow a corridor. "It was in the furthest lab back." He said as he made his way there. "So you know anything about ... schools?" He asked, as he paused to move a fallen beam out of the way and pulled his head back as more debris fell downward.

"Schools?" Logan asked as he carefully made his way through the debris. "Thought Manticore injected everything you'd need to know into your head through hazing and subliminal brainwashing?"

"It's not me." Alec said. "When we were talking to the kids, the only thing that seemed to freak out the youngest one was the fact that there were no longer public schools. Was weirded out saying he didn't want to be a fifth grade drop out and get stupid. " He shrugged, moving on to another blockage of debris. "Figured you would know what to do about that."

"Well, the public school system fell with everything else." Logan said, moving some of the lighter stuff as they went along. "There are underground schools, private schools, that sort of thing. I'll see what I can find." A kid that wanted to go to school. That was weird on its own, especially today. Then again, the kid wasn't exactly from today.

"Max said she would look into it but, we both know she'll just come back to you anyway." Alec said as he moved aside the last of the debris and then began work on getting the lab door open. "They got out of here just in time. The door closed and fused shut. "

"Which means whatever was in there with them is still in there." Logan said as he found a warped piece of metal to try and wedge the door open. "You hate that, don't you? That Max talks to me."

"No. I don't hate that she talks to you." He said and was mostly honest about it. "I don't think you would understand exactly what bothers me about the situation, so let's just leave it." He said as Logan managed to shove the metal in enough to give Alec enough space to get fingers through and start pulling at the door.

Logan chose to leave it. Would hate to be told by Alec that he was genetically inferior. Or more Manticore propaganda about how he wasn't part of a unit. Couldn't blame the younger man, he'd been brainwashed since he was in the uterus of the surrogate. "There we go." He said, when the doors separate enough to let them squeeze through. He coughed and grimaced, the place hadn't been cracked open since the fire, and there were one or two or more bodies in there. "Looks like this was part lab, part morgue." He said, looking around.

"Failed transgenics." Alec said. "The ones put down because of imperfections." His jaw ticked and his eyes deadened. He didn't let himself think about it. It didn't change anything to think about it or dwell on it. It was what it was. "The computer looks completely fried, but there might be some thing salvageable from the drives. It'll be sketchy at best though." He said as he opened up the side of a blackened panel.

Logan moved over to a couple of mocked up, tricked out beds. As smoke and heat damaged as they were, they were still impressive. "Must be where they held them." He said and undid a panel. "Maybe monitored their vitals, or kept them in stasis somehow. I just don't see why Manticore would hold two kids as long as they did. They're not transgenics, they were born long before that. But the fact that they held them for so long....Manticore was a lot more advanced than we originally thought. It didn't stop with gene splicing. Or start there for that matter."

"Cloning, biowarfare, espionage, psionics, anything that could be used to control, dominate, or subvert, they were into it." He said, crawling half inside the control panel to find the Manticore equivalent of a black box. It took a bit to get it loose. "I don't know why they would take the kids at all, although they were lying about what their father did for a living. They said he was a salesman." He slid back out from under the blackened metal and got to his feet.

"You think he worked for Manticore?" Logan said. "I can concentrate my work on government workers. I know, I know, it would say ATF, or CDC or something, not Manticore, but if he was receiving government benefits, like a pay check, it would show up."

"It's possible. It's also possible he was a reporter that got too close and they went after his kids instead." He said, handing the box over to Logan. "Let's see if we can't find the right cables so you can get a look at what's in this bad boy."

"But why leave the kids in stasis for nearly thirty years? Seems like a waste of money to me." Logan said as he looked around for cables. "Even if we find the cables, the power in this place is fried."

"Yeah, but it isn't at your place." Alec pointed out. "That's the part that bugs me too. It doesn't make sense. There has to be something about them that is different. Something they would need from them in order to keep them like this. "

"Possibly they have some genetic condition, they needed to be put in stasis. They could have been the ones that helped crack the human genome for the crack pots in the lab." Logan suggested.

"Hopefully that drive isn't too damaged. It's probably the only clue we have. The only reason its still in here is they weren't able to get in here before the cave in. " He said as he searched out connective cables. Manticore had some proprietary hardware. Only useable with their cables etc., but it all eventually had to be plugged into the wall, and power was universal and only came in two forms in the US.

"Got some chips out of some of the monitoring equipment, in case they were monitoring for something other than blood pressure." Logan said. "But I gotta say, you're being really helpful about this all. How much is Max paying you?"
"She isn't." He said bluntly. "It's a Manticore problem." He covered quickly. "Can't risk anything getting out. So the sooner they are taken care of and settled, the better." That should do it. A nice selfish reason. It's what they wanted to see, so why not give it to them?

"Taken care of? Well, if it comes to that, how about letting me get them to Canada before you do anything?" He suggested. "How about this cable? Will it work?"

"I'm not gonna kill the kids. If I was going to do that, do you think I would be here trying to sort out who they were? Or asking you about schools?" Alec said defensively. "You know, just 'cause I'm a selfish bastard, doesn't mean I'm some sort of monster." He said, handing over the cabling he had found. "Then again that's probably what you think, isn't it? Some freak with military training. All I am is a killing machine. Whatever." He turned to walk away.

"Don't play that card, Alec." Logan warned. "What do I think about you? I just keep flash backing to the first time I met you. What I can remember of it. Since I was burning up with fever and breaking out in boils and all. Oh, then there was the part you were going to shoot me. Twenty years of indoctrination, I just have hard time believing that in a few weeks you've grown a conscience."

"What you know about me, or any of us, wouldn't fill the head of a pin." He said, turning to look at Logan again. "You think you understand, but you don't. You can't begin to understand, sitting up there in your penthouse with your fine art and your wine, feeling like a real hero with your Eyes Only broadcasts. Pushing buttons and using people like Max to get your job done. So get off your freaking high horse and deal." He really did want to hate Logan. It would have been so easy. "I was a soldier. You were an objective. That's all there was to it. Not some biological or psychological imperative to kill."

"And what are you now, Alec?" Logan asked. "You were a soldier. You followed orders. What are you now?"

There was a vulnerable look that crossed his features, so briefly that it was easy to convince yourself it wasn't there. He didn't know. That was the problem. He didn't know what he was or where he belonged, or even if he belonged. His reality had shifted as surely and completely as those two boys' had. "I'm not a monster that goes around killing people. Especially not children. That's all you need to know." He said simply and blandly.

He wasn't going to explain something to Logan that he couldn't explain to himself. He wasn't going to sign up to be used like Max had. Eyes Only didn't solve half the problems he thought he did. Sometimes he created them. The sideline work, the stuff that didn't go out over the airwaves, was good work. Logan's broadcast had give him freedom, yes, but it had also given him chaos. It had taken everything he had known away from him, and even though he didn't miss Manticore, he was very much set adrift to find his own way in the world. He had to wonder how many others were in the same boat because of Logan Cale.

"And I resent the implication that I'm using Max." Logan said. "You obviously don't know Max well if you think she lets herself get used by anyone." That one hurt. It did.

"You use her." He said. "Now don't get me wrong, I can't blame you. Not every one gets to call on a multimillion dollar piece of genetically engineered perfection. You get her to do what you can't for a scratch behind the ears and an atta girl. Well not so much scratching now I guess."

"And whose fault is that?" Logan snapped. "Is that how you really see it? You're so off base. In fact, I think you're jealous. That Max prefers the company of us unaltered, substandard humans to the utter perfection that is you."

"I wasn't the one the created and infected Max with that disease." He said matter of factly. "Those were scientists, employed by the people you chose to piss off, and now you can't handle the consequences. You and Max... you're all about consequences so long as they aren't yours. What did you think would happen? No one would ever find out who you were? Did you think you could go around stirring the pot and mixing up everyone else's lives without splattering yourself a little? Everything has a price, even for poor little rich boys in their ivory towers."

"Max knows all about consequences." Logan said blandly. "And if you can't see that every choice she's ever made is eating her up inside, then you're not looking. Instead of living her life, she's worried about setting people like you loose in the world. If she could get an ulcer, she'd have a dozen."

"People like me?" He asked, shaking his head. "Yeah maybe she should have left us in here to die. Right? Nothing but a bunch of lab rats anyway, right? " Alec growled. "Let's get out of here. We've found all there is to find." He left the lab, far too angry in that moment to even look at Logan. He wouldn't kill him, but he wanted nothing more than to put the man in the hospital.

"I didn't say that." Logan said. "I meant people that don't know exactly how to handle this world. Why is it every time I speak, you find the worst interpretation?"

"Yeah, cause you don't do that." Alec countered sarcastically. "And for the record, I handle this world just fine. It's just not up to Max's double standards. Wonder where she got those from."

Logan scowled. "This is going to be a fun ride back to Seattle. I can tell already."

"Seriously, she rides my ass for being a cat burglar, and what happens not a month later? We're pulling the same heist. Tell me that isn't a double standard."

"I didn't say she didn't have double standards. She's one big walking contradiction." Logan said appeasingly. "But okay, that's a good example. It is. Complete double standard. I haven't quite figured out what her personal code is, every time I think I'm almost there, she turns around and does something like that. Then again, I met her when she was ripping me off, so you'd think I'd learn."

"Yeah, you'd think." Alec says. "But then she does something crazy, like bail you out of a jam, and it's hard to stay mad at her. I really hate that about her, you know. I would love to be able to just... stay mad... "
"See, sometimes I'd love to stay frustrated at her." Logan said. "When she drives me up the freaking wall....." he chuckled. "Think they whipped something up in her test tube? The complete inability for anyone to stay mad or frustrated with her?"

"Yeah I wouldn't put it past the bastards. They put together some strange stuff. There's this one chick..." He grinned, then shook his head. "Never mind. Some things are better left unsaid. You wouldn't believe it anyway." He chuckled, apparently pleased with what ever memory it was that was playing in his head.

Logan laughed. "Let me guess....transgenic all cartilage, no bones." He said. He could just imagine what a transgenic like that could do....

"Pretty much. I swear this chick could slide through the opening for the food tray on the barracks cell doors." He said with fond memories. "I think there was a lot of snake in her DNA... had this ability to mesmerize if you looked her in the eyes. Something in the way she moved..." he shook it off, literally. "That and the fact that those with bird DNA really didn't like being around her."

Logan laughed. "I dated a ballet dancer once." He said and gave Alec an amused look. "Hey, it's the closest I came to no cartilage. And believe me, it was close enough!"

"Hey, dancers are hot." Alec said, glad to have the conversation onto something that they could agree on. Women and sex were fun. "And flexible.... flexible is good. " The conversation continued along those lines until they got back to the penthouse. "I'm gonna leave you to your computer happiness...I have an early day tomorrow."

"Have fun." Logan said. "How do we explain this to Max?" He asked. "She'll kick your ass for sure. And nothing's really stopping her from hitting me with a gloved hand you know, if she finds out where we got this stuff."

"Just tell her I got it. I can handle Max." He said with a smile. "She's been looking for an excuse anyway." Alec figured if she noticed stuff like this she wouldn't pay as much attention to everything else he was up to, and that made so much easier. Quieter any way.

Max was in a mood by the time she got to Crash. She'd gone to the old Manticore facility, and someone had been there before her. That worried her. Either it was the government, White, or someone else. Possibly wanting information on the Winchester brothers. It had been recent, which meant she might not be able to keep them under wraps.

The door had been fused shut, apparently Manticore was hoping whatever was in that lab would be lost along with the facility. Which meant whatever was in that lab was beyond top secret. Which meant the Winchesters were beyond top secret. Even Original Cindy had abandoned her in her borderline surly mood, going to chat up a girl at the pool table.

She was sketching on a napkin the likely suspects. Of course, neither Alec nor Logan made that list.
Sam followed his brother into the bar. He was surprised that he and Dean could get in so easily. He supposed there were some good things about being in 2020. "What are we gonna play first?" Sam asked, looking from the pool table to the dart board.

"Let's do darts, less crowded." Dean said as he stopped by the bar and ordered them sodas. As much as Alec said Dean wasn't making good money, he'd cleaned up at that border. He had the rent money, clothes, and food. The rest was just gravy. Right now, he loved not having a curfew, even if part of him twinged to be home waiting for his father to call.

Sam smiled brightly. "Okay." He said. He liked darts better. He didn't have to worry about whether or not he was tall enough to make the shots. And he was better at it anyway. Dean was getting more relaxed with the time they were in, he could tell. They weren't rushing home and hiding all the time now. They were starting to explore things, and get to know their surroundings. The strange thing was other than the one tabloid having a picture of a guy with a dog like face there wasn't any signs of monsters in the news. That seemed strange to Sam.

"I don't get how a city the size of Seattle can have nothing going on." Dean said as he handed the darts to his brother. "I mean, you really think the sector police know how to deal with a poltergeist?" He shook his head as he drank his soda. "Maybe all the creepy crawly going bump in the night freakazoids went out with the whole system." Though he doubted it.

"I think no one notices because no one notices people anymore." Sam said as he threw his first dart. Darts had been one of the first things he had been trained in really. Darts, throwing knives, and other such things, something John Winchester had been confident that little hands could handle without hurting themselves.

Dean frowned. "You've got a point." Dean said. "What do you think about the tabloid?" If they couldn't find something in the newspaper, it wasn't unusual to resort to tabloids. "Didn't look too much like a mock up to me. Demon?"

"Maybe, but it could also be someone like the elephant man or the kid that movie Eric was made about. It didn't look too scary to me... actually it looked kinda scared when I think about it. We could check it out, but wouldn't we need to have well... weapons?"

"Yeah, I'm working on that." Dean said. "For all we know, there's a truce between everything supernatural and everything else. I mean, the world's gone to hell and all, but there are still humans and stuff. So what do you think about that clone thing?"

"I don't know... sounds kinda weird...but then we are in the future, so who knows what's possible now? I guess we find out about the monsters before we go killing them. If there's a truce, we don't want to break it. That could go all kinds of wrong... and who knows. maybe they decided this place sucks and went back to hell." Sam said, taking his second shot.

"At this point, not sure I would blame them." Dean said with a shrug as he watched his brother shoot darts. "We'll put out feelers for hunters tomorrow. I really don't expect that Alec guy to show up. Oh he might show up later to pay us off to not tell Max he didn't show up, but he probably just promised that to get in tight with his girl. Wait a few years, you'll understand." He said knowingly. Even if his relationship experience was limited, and what he knew, a majority of it came from late night cable.

Sam shrugged. "I don't know... couldn't have gotten in too tight." Sam said, not knowing what Dean was talking about but it sounded good anyway. "She's sitting over there at that table alone." He said tossing another dart. "And you never know... he might show up. Stranger things have happened."

"Yeah, like waking up from a twenty seven year coma, haven't aged a bit, unable to make a serious play for girls." Dean joked. Because it was easier to joke about than deal with it. "You'd think they'd let me get to at least sixteen." He said, shaking his head.

Sam laughed. "You'll get there. Don't know where you'll meet girls your own age since they don't have school anymore." Dean had reminded him earlier that it was summer here anyway, so he didn't have to worry so much about school right then. That had made it easier.

"There's lots of places to meet girls. I just have to find them." Dean said. "It's just weird here, you know? Everyone kinda does their own thing, I thought we were isolated before. But here we are, unsupervised, in a bar, and I bet if I went to order a beer, they'd give me one."

"I know. I don't know that I like it." Sam said. "But it'll be okay, I guess. I mean we don't have to stay in the city forever. If we don't find Dad by the time you're all grown up we could leave and maybe things are better somewhere else."

"I don't know." Dean said. "We'll see. It's just....I kinda wish Dad was here to tell me what to do." He was used to that. Even when their father left for a couple weeks at a time, Dean had instructions to follow. Structure. Expectations.

"I know. " Sam said. "I feel lost sometimes when you can't be there. But its okay Dean. You always figure things out. You're smart."

"Thanks, Sammy." Dean said with a grin. "We'll be fine. We've got the necessities, right? I was thinking we should get a TV though, so we can catch up on the world."

"I'd like that." He said returning his brother's smile. "Hopefully they have like cartoons or something. I hope it isn't all boring stuff."

"Great, we'll do that tomorrow." Dean said with a nod as he took the darts for his turn, even as a dark pair of broody eyes watched them through heavy, floppy bangs.

The stranger's jaw twitched, wondering if he should tell his father about this. Or just do away with them. He didn't like competition. It paid to have inside information. He was able to intercept this before it went any further. But before he could make any move, the two boys were joined by a few other people looking to share the dartboard.

Exposure. It was all about avoiding exposure.

Alec entered Crash and almost turned around and left again. There was Max and she was in a mood. He could tell it from across the room. "Crap." He said softly and rolled his eyes. He might as well take his lumps. Who else would they be for? He went to the bar, and ordered a pitcher of beer to take over to her table. "What's eating you?" He asked taking the seat Cindy had been occupying some time ago.

She should tell him. But he'd probably question the wisdom of her going there alone. So she changed the subject. "What did you do?" She asked. "You brought me beer, you did something." She said, and even had a hint of a smile at that.

"I brought you beer because you looked like someone kicked your dog." He said. "And you were planning to hunt them down and break every bone in their body. I was hoping it wasn't me this time." He added with a grin. "Looks like the kids are having a good time. How's the baby sitting biz treating you?"

"What?" Max said and looked over at the dart board. "Wow. I didn't even know they were here." She said, shaking her head. "I was thinking, the med lab was a pretty secure area, right? So when all hell broke loose that night, it should have locked down, right?"

"Yeah, it did. Completely locked down." He said. "Everything did until you unlocked what you could."

"I never got to that part of the facility." She said. "So if we go back tomorrow, it should still be locked down, right?"

"No, I went out there earlier tonight. I dropped off a black box with your boyfriend. Pulled it out of the consol in the back of med lab." He told her. He had a feeling she already knew. So why lie about it? But he wasn't buying beer to make up for it because he hadn't done anything wrong.

Max's eyes widened. "Are you crazy?" She hissed. "Alone? I should knock some sense into you. White would love to hang your bar code on his wall you know."

"Yours too, I might add." Alec said, but smiled. "Thanks for the concern but I was careful. It's all good. " He told her. "I can't hide the way Joshua does. I would go insane, and that's what it would take to be anything even vaguely safe from White."

He had a point. "Fine, whatever." She said. "So besides the black box, anything interesting? Was it still sealed up tight?" She wanted to know if anyone had been there before him. She knew someone (him) had been there before her, but she wasn't going to mention that.

"Oh yeah. There was a lot of debris I had to get past. I think they figured it was unreachable enough that it would keep until they bulldoze the place. The doors were fused shut. They didn't want anything getting in or out of that lab. Found a couple of beds where I think they were kept. No clue on how they managed the stasis, but I'm not a scientist."

She watched the kids from across the bar. "So Manticore didn't want them getting out." She said. "Any clue on when Logan can decipher the black box?" He had said he'd dropped it off. "And he's not my boyfriend, we're not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter."

"I didn't say lover." He told her. "And you can't tell me you two aren't into each other. I have eyes, and they work perfectly well. Besides, you wouldn't be so anxious to touch someone who was just... someone you know."

"You're someone I know. And most of the time I'm very anxious to touch you. Anxious to put my foot to your ass." She said. "It's complicated, all right. Very complicated." Half the time she wasn't sure if she wanted the cure for the frigging virus because she COULDN'T touch him. Not necessarily that she wanted to. It was complicated.

"Yeah well, life's complicated all over. I didn't stick around to find out how long it would take. I dropped off the box and some cables and went to clean up. " He told her, and turned his attention back to the kids. "I did ask him to check out something for Sam. The kid took being in a coma for 27 years just fine, but is freaked about school." He had to chuckle at that.

"Yeah, that was a little weird. But apparently school was something kids might have looked forward to in his day." She said. She certainly hadn't looked forward to class at Manticore. That was for sure! "They're two normal kids caught up in a whole government conspiracy. I've got odds on the older one taking an assault rifle to a bell tower."

"Dean? Nah. He's a good kid. Not a homicidal gene in there. Unless you mess with his brother." He frowned then. "They can't be normal kids, Maxie. As much as I want them to be too, they can't. They aren't transgenic. Doesn't mean they are normal. The protectiveness, the ability to survive on their own in our world, when they went to sleep in a completely different one, the kid has mad skills with forgery. Normal kids don't have that."

"Maybe it was a hobby. Neither of know anything about kids. And we really don't know anything about kids twenty seven years ago. That was before we were even mixed up in a petri dish." She said. "Well, I'm not sure we can interrogate them any further. They're just going to have to let things slip."

"Yeah well maybe there's something in the black box, if it wasn't roasted in the fire. " He said. "Logan is checking out government records to see if their father worked for Manticore. It might say CIA or postman on his pay stubs but it could still be Manticore."

"You know something?" Max said in a rare moment of complete candor. "I thought that by taking down Manticore, the nightmare would be over for everyone. How freaking short sighted was that?" She said, shaking her head.
"There are a lot of kids out there that have a chance now. Don't kick yourself too hard over this. White is a nightmare, yeah. But we'll deal with him. Just like you dealt with Manticore. So life isn't perfect. At least it's our own."

"So you're saying I might just be able to blow White up?" She asked with a grin. "You just made my night. Beer and hopes for tomorrow!"

"Now that's a woman after my own heart." He said, grinning right back at her. "I really like that idea...blowing him up. Preferably his head. Does that make me petty?" He teased.

"Oh that makes you completely petty. But it's all right. It'll be fun to watch." Max said. "Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Probably lives in a dungeon, and reads all sorts of torture manuals on his days off."

"Well it's not like he has any friends." Alec said. "We'd be doing him a favor really. He's miserable. Absolutely miserable. No one should have to continue through life with a mug like that."

"He's definitely a mouth breather." Max said. "Nothing annoys me more than a mouth breather. We'd be doing the world a favor. We're totally exercising our philanthropy."

"Absolutely." He said enthusiastically. "See, it's not such a bad world after all." He glanced back over at the kids to make sure they were okay. They weren't soldiers. They weren't trained to watch out for the world around them. Or at least that was what Alec thought.

Max laughed. "Okay, you cheered me up. Next round's on me." She said.

At the end of the bar, the dark haired man took out his phone. "I've got the two in my sights. Do you want me to grab them now?" And hopefully exterminate.

"No... make sure they are the ones. Who knows how many clones Sandeman made? We don't want to screw this up. Your father wouldn't take kindly to any mistakes." White told him. "Report back when you have made positive ID."

"Yes sir." He said, and made another phone call, watching the kids getting ready to depart.

"They're leaving. Should we follow them?" Max asked Alec. "It's late. At least for their age."

"I was about to suggest the same thing." Alec said as he finished off his beer. "Not like they will think it strange we are walking the same direction. You live in the same building. Guy has to walk his girl home after all." He said, eyes twinkling merrily. It was a joke between them now. As far as the kids knew they were seeing each other. He figured they argued enough that they could 'break up' at some point for the kids.

Max laughed. "Ah, chivalry. And here I thought it was dead." She said. The boys were far ahead of them, but with Alec and Max, distance was never a problem.
But they still didn't see it coming. The boys were jumped by what looked to be a street gang. "Alec!" Max said as she took off.

"Don't you touch my brother, asshole!" Dean said and started fighting. By the time Alec and Max got there, the three grown men were on the ground groaning. Dean had fought hard, dirty, and well.

Sam had stayed out of the way, turning on Max and Alec, prepared for a fight from them too, then relaxed seeing who it was.

"Not bad, kid." Alec said, looking Dean over again. "Where'd you learn to bust a move like that?" He asked.

"Around." Dean said. "Gotta know how to defend yourself." He said. "Come on, Sammy, it's late." He grabbed his brother's hand and wiped his face with the other one.

"We're walking the same way, want company?" He asked and motioned for them to move away from the men on the ground as people started coming their direction to check it all out.

"Fine." Dean said as he led Sam away.

"Okay. They're not normal kids." Max whispered to Alec. "I think the younger one was ready to join in too."

"Looked that way to me too." He said also softly. Didn't have to speak very loud for Max to hear him, after all. "But they don't smell transgenic."

"Sam, you okay?" Dean asked. The man had grabbed at Sam, and that's what set Dean off. No one touched Sam. That was the rule. Dean knew, he'd written it.

"Maybe an early model? Prototypes? Before they started adding in Fido and Whiskers?" Max guessed.

"Yeah, I'm okay, Dean. Sorry you had to get into a fight." He told his brother. It was a hold over from before, with their dad. Anything that drew attention, anything that caused trouble was to be avoided. He was beginning to think that maybe their dad was right. That they did need to lay low and keep from being seen, even in this world.

"But why the father figure, the missing persons reports? It doesn't add up. Every time we think we have a handle on this, more questions show up. "

"I don't know. That black box better tell us something." Max said, frustrated by all of this. Why couldn't they just be normal kids?

"It's all right, Sam. I was a little tense anyway." Dean said with a grin. "I'll sleep well tonight."
"Okay." Sam said, taking his brother's word for it. "I'm tired. It wasn't a bad day though, not really. At least we know we aren't going crazy or something."

"There are worse things to be." Dean said with a grin.

The man came upon the crumple of bodies on the street and got back on the phone. "It's them. Your three men are moaning on the ground."

"Fine. I'll report back to your father and we take it from there. Keep track of them. Very precious cargo there. Don't let anything happen to them until I call you back."

"I can take care of this problem right now. There's no need to involve my father." He said. "He's come along way, this could make him backslide."

"He won't back slide. The younger boy is important. You of all people know how important. The older of the two is...potentially useful. Just watch and keep them safe for now. You can't afford to screw up. Remember that."

The man growled. "I remember." He said. "They're still young. Maybe we can arrange for another coma. It's not time yet. You know that too."

"And they have to grow up too." Ames said in a placating, yet impatient tone. They never should have given this one over to the man it called father. Shallow imitation of a blessed chosen being. At least they didn't mix up its DNA in a blender. "You have to let go of your ... issues... with this. It's gonna bite you in the ass if you don't."

"I don't have issues. I have doubts." He said. "He's a short runt. The stasis might have damaged him, making him useless. You want to start a tornado on the basis of a breeze!"

"You weren't so tall at 10 either. That's why we watch and wait. Your father will expect the same. To watch and wait."

"The men haven't gotten up yet." He said. "Your men. Which meant half of it might be right, the older one," he couldn't bear to say their names, "is the protector. You might need to send in reinforcements when you grab the younger one."

"We will take them as they did originally. In their sleep." He said. "And they will wake up looking into the eyes of their father and brother."