Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me, they're all Cameron's etc.
Authors Note: New story, lots of angst, possible romance, bit of action and more angst. My usual kind of story.
Chapter 1 - Past Pain, Present Pain.
Max tried to waken but there were strong arms holding her down. Struggling more she found herself restrained tighter. A voice was speaking, words that seemed to have lost all meaning and Max moved more frantically, thrashing against the person holding her. She tried to scream but no anguished cry sounded from her lips that would have betrayed her panic.
Alec fought to hold onto Max fearing for her sanity as she battled against his hold. It had been over three weeks since he had taken her out of Seattle. 22 days with Max alternating between a mute living breathing doll while awake and a fighting, traumatised woman at night. "Its okay Max. Shhh. Your okay." Alec tried to soothe her but his words didn't seem to reach her ears as she simple intensified her efforts to escape him. Alec sighed. Before this whole mess had started he would probably be smashed into a wall by now and Max would be out the door. Now though, as he looked down at the slight women he held against his body, he saw the thin arms and wasted muscles. Her face was fragile and her once soft cheeks now hollowed, the bones prominent. Max's skin was an unnatural shade of pale, standing out in stark contrast against her long raven dark hair.
Alec bit his lip, his heart wrenching to see the strong woman he knew reduced to this tiny frightened child. It hurt so much to see her try to scream, her mouth opened and her chest heaving with the effort to make her pain and fear heard. No sound had left her lips since he had found her, not a word, sob or scream. Alec transferred her delicate wrists to hold in just one of his large strong hands and ran the other comfortingly down the side of her face. Every night, since he had got her out of that place where White had been holding her, had been the same. She might not need to sleep but he was feeling the effects badly. Stroking Max's face seemed to be the one action that calmed her down. Alec couldn't help but wonder why this was. Could it be something Logan had done for her once? Before the virus that had forced their separation. Before Logan had been murdered in front of her by White's men. Alec shut down that train of thought as quickly as it occurred. The past was gone and there was no regret or guilt strong enough to bring the dead back to life.
Alec noticed dimly that Max had stilled in his arms, her muted body wrenching sobs tapered off into small shudders, though the tears still leaked silently from her tightly shut eyes. Yes, this seemed to comfort her. The minutes he had to wait to restrain her enough to do it were painful, her fear, seeing her fight an invisible enemy… My fault… Alec acknowledged to himself, staring down at Max's features, still beautiful even after everything she had been through. My fault I couldn't stop it. My fault Logan is dead. My fault White got Max and did - did what he did to her. Even in his own mind Alec could not bring himself to remember the sight he had seen when he had found Max in that room. The knowledge of what she had suffered was a different kind of torture altogether and one that he had forcibly repressed to the deepest depths of his mind. It had taken Alec 8 days to find her, 8 days that he cursed his own helplessness and learned of a new level in his soul. Alec leaned down and pressed a tender kiss against Max's forehead. Her face creased for a moment in distress before the gentle motion of his fingers against her skin calmed her. It was almost unconscious how he was rocking her gently, as though she were a baby that he could soothe to sleep with a lullaby.
His eyes tired Alec looked around the room he currently called home. It was cheap and even the wallpaper looked dirty. They had to keep on the move and Alec hadn't had the time or means to get any more money since he had rescued Max. Taking care of her took most of his time. Max was by no means useless. It wasn't like she was a total vegetable or anything, once set in motion she could do most anything pretty much by herself. If you handed her clothes, she would dress herself. Give her food and she would eat, water or milk and she would drink. She was fully capable of going to the bathroom and attending her own personal hygiene. But Max wasn't present, the spirit and heart that made her who she was, was gone. She didn't speak. If she wasn't given food or drink she simply went without. If Alec didn't take her arm and start her walking with him she would just sit or lie wherever she last was. Alec didn't know where Max was or if she would ever come out of this, but he clung to the hope that the nights gave him. Even if the attempted screams and fighting was bad, it showed that somewhere, deep down and lost, Max had survived. Alec wasn't going to give up on her and he wasn't going to leave her, even if she never found her way back, he was never going to let her go.
Sitting on the old creaky bed, Alec never stopped his soft caress of Max's face. They needed money and as scared as Alec was to leave Max by herself he was going to have to in order to get it. Alec tried to reason that she never did anything unless he prompted it, but his main fear was that White would find her. They had only been at this place for two nights now and White shouldn't have been able to track them yet. Odds were he was still looking for them in sunny California, where they had been over a week ago. Still… If he should find them and Max was alone, defenceless… Alec shuddered at the thought of Max back in that monsters hands. Without money though they couldn't move on, they couldn't eat or crash or most importantly - run if White got to close. Alec shut his eyes against the spinning thoughts that were making his weary head hurt. His eyes were bloodshot from constant adrenaline and the lack of rest. Shit I need to sleep. He thought pointlessly. Alec looked down at the silent Max and a wry smile crossed his lips.
"Why did you have to make me care?" He brushed a random lock of hair back from her face. "I was doing just fine without anyone and then you -" Alec stopped and swallowed the lump in his throat. He rubbed his hand over his tired face and pulled Max closer in his embrace. "Its alright Max. We're gonna be okay, you just gotta hang in there." Max's brow furrowed slightly at his action, her face now pressed against his bare chest and Alec felt the dampness of her still falling tears. He cupped the vulnerable base of her head, silky with hair, as he held her tightly.
"Your going to be fine Maxie. We both are."
Alec closed his eyes against his own tears as the grey of morning seeped through the broken windows of the room. How could they have ended up like this? Alone, desperate and tormented. Against his better judgement Alec allowed his mind to take him back to the day before this had all started…
"Give it back!" Max demanded angrily. Alec smirked at the sight of the incensed woman.
"Give what back?" He asked casually feigning innocence. Max wasn't buying it for an instant and she slammed his locker door shut, narrowly missing his hand. Alec yelped as he jumped back, attracting attention from their annoying boss.
Normal yelled across the main room of Jam Pony. "Hey! What'd I tell you about company property?!" Max ignored him with practised ease, turning her glare on to her dead brothers twin.
"You know damn well what! What were you thinking, stealing something from Logan's place? Did you think I wouldn't know it was you?" Max was furious with him and Alec started to regret the impulse that had caused him to swipe that trinket the last time he was there.
Edging away from Max he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Hey, if Logan's place got ripped off then I'm very sorry but I had nothing to do with it." Right now Alec figured his best bet on surviving the next 5 minutes would be plausible denial.
"Right." The sarcastic statement was out of Max's mouth at the same instant as Alec found his back smashed into the locker wall. He winced at the pain, Max had a hell of a lot of force in that small body of hers.
"Company property!" Came the yell again.
"Now," Max said, her capable hand wrapped around his throat, still ignoring Normal. "You have two choices. One, I beat on your ass until you give up the statue, or two you hand it over now, give a sincere apology to Logan along with an assurance that it will never happen again and you get to keep the ability to breath without pain." Max delivered her threats in a sweet voice with an angelic smile that convinced Alec far more quickly then the angry tone of minutes before.
Alec cleared his throat around the pressure of Max's grip and offered a weak smile, moving his lips to indicate he wanted to speak. Max reluctantly released him, moving her hand to rest beside his head against the lockers, ready to grab him again if he tried anything.
"I was wrong, I see that now and I would be more than happy to apologise to Logan." Alec could see the suspicion growing on Max's face at his sudden aquience. "But you see the problem with the statue is…" Alec was genuinely reluctant to say the next thing, "I kinda already fenced it." The explosion was immediate. Max slammed her fist against the metal.
"You what!" Alec had the grace to look sorry.
"Take it outside or your fired!" The usual holler came.
"Look I needed the cash, I owed some guys and they were starting to get a little tetchy so…Well you're the one who's always saying we gotta keep a low profile and I figured paying them back would work better than beating them up or killing them. Besides in the long run it makes more business sense." Alec offered.
Max closed her eyes in an effort to control her temper. In truth she was thrown by the news that Alec had already fenced Bast. That was the statue Logan had tried to give her twice. The first time she had fenced it and the second time she had straight up refused. So since then it had sat in Logan's apartment, without a clear owner. In a way it was both of theirs, something that had brought them together and linked them. With the virus now keeping them physically apart, Max now thought of Bast as symbolic in their emotional relationship at least. Max took a few deep breaths. Alec was watching Max in concern. Why is she freaking out so much? This wasn't the first time he had screwed her and Logan.
"Tell me you didn't."
"I'm sorry Max…" Alec tried to apologise again, sincerely this time, spurred by his involuntary concern at her reaction.
"Don't!" Max held up a hand, her brown eyes filled with something he couldn't identify. "Just, don't alright." With that Max turned and walked away, silently picking up a package from the front desk and leaving Jam Pony.
Alec sighed and leaned his head back against the lockers, wondering why he even cared. Why he was feeling guilty now? She knew he was a thief, hell she was one herself. Yeah but she doesn't rip off her friends… A voice in his head whispered. Despite the fact that Logan wasn't his friend, Max was something to him. He didn't know exactly what, but she was defiantly something. How hard would it be to get that statue back? Alec considered. It would mean going through his fence, who would probably be reluctant to give up the info, finding the buyer and then either buying or stealing it back. A lot of trouble in other words and he would probably lose his fence in the process.
"Shit." Alec muttered to himself, knowing that in just thinking about how to do it, the decision was already made. In the relatively short time that he had come to know Max she was defiantly ruining his every man for himself policy.
Alec opened his eyes again, the grim reality of the present making itself known in the rising dawn of the sun. Nothing seemed right anymore, the colours all seemed to be tinged in grey, peoples voices sounded faint. Only the past was real, bright and open. Only Max mattered, even broken as she was, she was all he had. Alec looked down at Max. She was limp in his arms, her eyes open now, blank and emotionless. There was no trace of the distressed woman of only a little while ago. Alec moved her so that she was sitting upright, reaching a hand to straighten the oversize t shirt she slept in. Max stared straight ahead, not reacting to his touch. Only over a month ago she would have kicked his ass for trying to straighten her clothing.
Alec stood, pulling Max into a standing position with him. Walking over to the duffel back on the floor he pulled out some clean clothes for her and put them gently in her arms. Alec watched as she lifelessly held them and he pushed her to the bathroom. "Get ready Max." He told her. She didn't respond to his words, he spoke more for himself. With the push prompting her though, Max obediently walked over to the bathroom, entering, not bothering to shut the door as she stripped and climbed into the shower stall.
Alec clenched his jaw at just another sign that Max wasn't really here with him. He couldn't watch her though. A while ago the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Max naked would have been enough for him to be smiling for a week. Not now. Not like this. Alec shook his head and proceeded to get ready for the day himself.
To be continued… but only if there are a lot of reviews! : )