Alright gang, here's the next and newest addition in the Tyler world of Dark Angel. I will do my best with this story to bridge the gap between Freak Nation and the McDowell books, but it's mainly centered around the coming together of Max and Alec. Enjoy and review as always!
Post- Freak Nation
Dark Angel and all its characters are the property of James Cameron.
Max sat atop her treasured haven – Seattle's derelict space needle – knees hugged to her chest and the city's lights glaring at her as though betrayed by the recent turn of events.
It had been one month since the incident at Jam Pony. One month since she and her fellow transgenics had taken a stand against the fallacy that their past was to doom their future.
It had been a month of harrowing near-misses with the relentless throngs of mobsters flocking from across the country, eager to add to the vigilante packdogs chomping at the bit to lay siege on Terminal City – and its residents.
And, though surrounded by the growing number of her transgenic brethren-in-arms who worked as tirelessly as she did, it had been loneliest month of Max's life.
Sure, it wasn't as though she had been confined to TC's walls for the entirety of the four weeks – not with all the conferences and negotiation meetings she'd been attending. And Max had even managed a clandestine visit to her apartment to pack her belongings – what little she owned, at any rate.
But the truth was; Max missed her old life terribly. She missed Original Cindy and Sketchy and heck, she even missed Normal. She missed showing up late for work and leaving early for Crash. She missed the cheap beer and the squeaking bikes and the packages without a ZIP code on them.
Max missed Logan.
Sure, they talked online – but a video conference just wasn't the same as a good old face-to-face conversation. Of course, she wondered if she shouldn't be thankful for that. After all, the separation only solidified the fact that things were well and truly over between her and Logan.
Max suddenly felt a grating buzz against her hip and rolled her eyes as she fingered the device clipped to her belt – the only constant in her life…
Her stupid fucking pager.
The number was unmistakable – Terminal City Central headquarters. It had become the primary caller ID on her pager after four weeks of warring for first place with Logan's landline and Alec's cell phone.
Max sighed heavily as she stood up and turned to head back down to where her bike was waiting in the shadow of the space needle. As usual, she'd forgotten to take the cell phone Mole had scored her a few weeks back (after one too many frustrated efforts on the lizard nomalie's part to hound Max down).
Max sometimes intentionally forgot the stupid thing. She hated the way Mole attempted to perpetuate further animosity in the current conflict by feeding Max continuous newsreels about every tiny fragment of hostility from the Ordinaries circle.
It was as though Mole was under the impression that Max hadn't sat through hours of lecturing on subliminal coercion back in her Manticore days.
Whatever he wants, it can damn well wait the four hours it's gonna take for the sun to show its face on the horizon. Max thought determinedly as she swung her legs over the leather seat of her Ninja and flipped the key in the ignition. I've got other stuff to work on.
"There you are!"
Max felt her mouth tighten and resisted the urge to snap viciously at the scaled transgenic who had taken up vigilante duty directly beside her token parking space.
"Miss me, Mole?" She responded noncommittally as she killed the engine on her bike and slid off it without sparing the nomalie a glance.
"You need to start learnin' to leave your phone on." Mole drawled reprimandingly, keeping step with Max as she strode up a run-down set of steps which opened onto the ground floor of TC Central (a whirlwind of perpetual activity – even at three AM).
"Was it turned off? I hadn't noticed." Max nodded at Dix as he passed by her with a stack of something she just really didn't want to ask about right then.
"Oh really? Might be cuz it's been sittin' on the counter here for the last hour 'n a half!" Mole snapped as he extended the offending cell phone in her direction.
Max took it dutifully and stuffed it in the pocket of her jacket, keeping her eyes trained on the suspicious number of people crowded around the computer screens atop the second floor and off Mole's disapproving glare as he continued.
"Max, you can't just go incommunicado whenever you get the freakin' urge. We got a lot goin' here, in case…"
"In case, what, Mole?" Max finally turned to smile laboriously in his direction, "In case you haven't been rubbing my nose in it 24-7? I kinda got the memo." Her eyes narrowed into slits as her smile faded and she shoved past him, "What's going on?"
The question was directed at Luke, Joshua and Tanker (an X5 male who had crossed oceans and more then just a few continents to stand beside his fellow transgenics holed up in Terminal City…well, chiefly Alec, who had apparently been his mission partner on more then one occasion and had evidently left an impression even bigger then his ego).
"Max, 'bout time! We've been tryin' to get ahold of you for the last hour and a half!" Luke grumbled, and Max felt a sudden compulsion for strangulation creeping up inside of her.
"I was busy."
"You were AWOL." Tank reminded her acidly as he steered her towards the computer screen and shoved Joshua aside in the process.
"What's got your panties in a knot?" Max glared at the hands clamping her jacket's shoulders before her attention was drawn to the surveillance footage before her.
She squinted and leant over Luke's shoulder at the feed from TC's backdoor cameras. The grubby, multi-layered metal fencing (which had since been fortified by extra barricading and a great deal of electric wiring) were smarting with ricocheting bullets, sending a smatter of sparks raining in every direction.
"What the hell are they thinking?" Max tone would have sounded bored if it wasn't dripping with irritation. She pushed off from the desk, "I can't believe you guys are actually tripping over this. It's just a rage blackout – it'll blow over."
"No it won't." Tank stated forcefully, and Max raised an eyebrow at him cynically, "Not until we get'em inside."
"Get who inside?" Max queried, completely lost, and her fellow X5 sidestepped her to drag another image onto the screen.
Max titled her head to make out the two small figures huddled behind a pile of burnt wood and rubble – the only thing (besides a good few meters) between them and the crowd of vigilantes lambasting their hideaway with gunfire.
"Transgenics?" She turned to gaze at Tanker, who nodded grimly.
"Kids, to boot. X6's, by the look of'em. We didn't know they were trying for entry till the gunshots started goin' off."
"And now they're stuck." Max sighed and glanced down at Luke, "What's the plan then?"
The nomalie flashed a nervous smile at his screen, "Well from what we can make out, there's about six Ordinaries out there, all totting ammo."
"Yeah plus a lotta bad attitude." Max commented dryly as the angry vigilantes began adding bottles and rocks to the mix, "Someone needs to tell these people they've got way too much time on their hands."
"Great idea, Max." Tank's lips pressed into an annoyed smile as he raised his eyebrows at the screen, "Hey why don't you just march on out there and give'em all a stirring speech? That is what you do best, apparently."
She returned the expression with one of her own, "No, what I do best is kick smart-asses like you and Alec halfway to Venus and back."
"Men are from Mars, Max." Tank stated knowingly, and she shrugged.
"Men are from Mars. You 'n Alec are from…"
"Guys this is totally irrelevant!" Luke snapped in complete frustration as he threw his headset onto the desk in front of him with a clatter, "How exactly are we gonna get these kids outta the line of fire before…"
"What the hell?" Max's exclamation alerted Tanker and Joshua's attention to the computer screen as a loud roaring crackled through the speakers.
"Switch cameras, quickly!" Tank nudged Luke, and the transgenic's fingers flew to comply as the feed changed to view the assaulting mobster crowd.
The glaring light of a motorbike accompanied the intimidating growl of its engine as it revved to maximum speed and charged the rear of the vigilantes. Its driver pumped the bike at a slant ('pulling a Max' as it had now officially been dubbed amongst the transgenic hierarchy), taking out three of the thugs on the spot before it spun its wheels and knocked a fourth to the ground.
"Who is it?" Joshua prodded Max, and she shook her head as the remaining two Ordinaries turned their attack moments too late to avoid the boot and elbow they simultaneously received.
"I got nothin'. Wait." Max leant forward and rested her hand on the top of the monitor as the mystery figure stopped moving at their ridiculous pace long enough to skid their bike to a halt in front of the X6's makeshift trench.
"Come on, get on!"
Max squinted at the familiar voice yelling through the static in the speakers before her shoulders slipped slightly, "Typical."
"Hey is that Alec?" A broad smile spread across Luke's face as he watched the transgenic kids hastily climb aboard the seat of Alec's bike before he swung it around the bend.
"Who else would be stupid enough to charge headlong into a crowd full of armed vigilantes riding a Triumph of all the piss-poor bike brands out there?" Max straightened with a roll of her eyes, ignoring the smirk Tank flashed her before he yelled for the side gates to be opened.
"Man, you really got it in for the guy, huh?"
Max scrunched her face up at the smug remark from Tank as she turned to head down the steps, "Whatever feeds your drama-meter."
She'd barely reached the bottom when Alec's bike pulled into the center, wheels spinning and exhaust pipe spitting in protest from the brakes as they hauled the bike to a halt.
Max would've cried abuse if anybody had so much as attempted to pull a stunt like that with her baby.
"'Kay, off you get, c'mon." Alec's fingers still clenched the handles of his bike as he twisted to address the youngsters huddled on the seat behind him. They glanced hesitantly at the crowd gathered to size them up, and he rolled his eyes, "Oh come on, they don't bite."
"Where have you been?" Max stalked to the front of the throng with a contemptuous look for the X5, who raised his eyebrows at the little boy behind him conspiratorially.
"Uh, well that one does."
"You've been gone for three days. Mind tellin' us what went down with the arms run you were supposed to be sorting out?" Max ignored the jab as she crossed her arms and Alec hopped off his bike with a sly grin.
"Aw Maxie, you weren't worried 'bout me, were you?"
"Finally!" Mole's angry snarl wiped the cocky smirk off Alec's face (and painted it on Max's) as the nomalie stormed to stand beside her, "Please tell me you got me my grenades!"
"Relax, man, it's all in the pipeline." Alec reassured him benignly as he patted his shoulder bag and then raised his eyebrows at Max, "Whoa."
She returned the gesture with a great deal more cool, "What?"
"Nothin', just…" He scratched the back of his neck as he pocketed his keys and appraised her from the corner of his eyes, "When was the last time you got some sleep?"
Max narrowed her eyes at him, "You got somethin' to say, Alec, why don't you just spit it out?"
"You look like crap." He smiled and patted her shoulder as he brushed past her, "Delivery tomorrow night, people. Back gate run, 3 AM – we'll get it in three shots."
"How'd that take you three days to coordinate?" Mole snapped as the X5 threw himself into a random chair and tossed his shoulder bag onto the table.
"What, you think I was havin' a vacation or something?" Alec laughed at the insinuation before nodding at the surveillance screens, "Yep, they're gonna feel that one in the morning."
"Alec, seriously," Max rested her hands on the stair railing and threw him a frustrated look (likely because she assumed the word 'seriously' didn't exist in his vocabulary), "Where have you been? You can't just take off and expect…"
"Take off? Max." Alec's exaggerated expression of disapproval caused her to roll her eyes, "You really are strung-out, aren't ya – hey don't why you take the rest of the night off and catch some shut-eye." He flashed her an irritating wink, "Couldn't hurt."
"You know what could?" Max stepped forward only to be yelled at by Mole, who was standing aways off impatiently bellowing for her attention.
"You got Logan on line 4! Says it's urgent."
"Be there in a sec." Max called over her shoulder and then noted the sudden sobriety which had overtaken Alec's features, "What's with you?"
"Nothin'. Say hi to Logan for me." He clapped a hand on her arm before heading out of a side door, "Hey Josh, Dix, drinks on me in an hour."
Max sighed and allowed herself a fleeting moment of brooding as she hiked the steps to the computers where Logan's digital image awaited her. Things had been increasingly awkward between her and the cyberhero since the invention of her and Alec's relationship. The floating tag cloud of uncomfortable subjects between Max and her fellow X5 had also swelled by several topics due to the fact that Logan had let slip at a press release that the two were an item.
It had become an added strain on Max and Alec's already overloaded shoulders to keep the relationship up for appearances' sake. The media had of course gobbled up the concept of an Alpha couple spearheading the transgenic stand of independence – creating an inferno of tabloid slurs now featuring not only Max but also Alec as the new threat terrorizing the nation.
Max sucked at her cheeks briefly as she threw herself into the hard-backed chair and smiled warmly at her long-time friend. Logan looked about as exhausted as she was feeling right about then – his hair was growing out and creeping in loose strands over the rims of his glasses.
"How you doing?" Max couldn't help the concern which overrode her voice as she rested her arms on the desk in front of her and fiddled with a fraying edge of her biker glove.
"Alright, I guess – considering the FBI are hounding me at all hours of the day and night." Logan nodded at her, "What about you?"
Max shrugged with a wan smile, "We're hangin' in."
Logan blinked heavily, "I meant how are you? You don't look too hot."
"Hey," Max admonished with a forced smirk in his direction, "Gimme a little black dress and watch me go."
He wasn't buying it – that much was obvious. Nevertheless, much to Max's relief, Logan didn't press the subject further. Instead he glanced down at one of the papers cluttering his desk and raised his eyebrows.
"So what's going on?" Max queried, clearing the tense silence pervading in the air and shifting in her seat as Logan's eyes returned to the screen.
"Well, seems like the Secretary of Defense has got it in for you guys. Friend of mine who works down at the White House said he's in secret meetings to have Terminal City sectioned off as a conflict zone, wants to bring in a bunch of troops and storm the place."
"So much for their negotiations." Max rolled her eyes and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, "So what's the plan? Middle-of-the-night siege, barrage of air-strikes, what?"
"I don't have that intel for you yet." Logan sounded apologetic as he rifled through the catastrophe that was his intray, "Soon as I can, I'm gonna get it though. In the meantime, lay low and stock up – that's the best advice I can give you right about now."
Max's lips tugged upwards briefly, "S'what we do."
The silence again. That rigid, unyielding tension thick enough to cut with a bread-slicer.
And then the inevitable question which always shattered it.
"Fine, he's uh..." Max inhaled deeply and then blew out her breath before raising an eyebrow, "off wreaking havoc somewhere, I dunno. Anyway I'll tell him…."
"Well tell him I said hi."
The sentences were spoken at the same time, prompting both Max and Logan to squirm uncomfortably.
"Okay, well – I'll see you when I see you." Max finally offered, and he nodded in response.
Max glanced at the desk in front of her awkwardly for a moment before she looked back up at Logan.
The call terminated. The screen went dead. Max wasn't sure whether that was the result of a malfunction or whether she should take it as a sign. Max didn't really buy into signs, though, so she pushed away from the desk and told Luke that he should really take a look at his computer.
The sun's first rays peaked over the bleak horizon skirting Terminal City, gleaming off the jagged tiers of derelict buildings and the hostile barbed wiring.
The view from Max's makeshift apartment wasn't exactly Hallmark material – but it beat prison bars and White's ugly mug hands-down.
Max jumped as she rounded the corner leading into the front room and caught sight of Alec standing behind the counter of her kitchen.
"Coffee?" He raised his eyebrows at the boiling pot of water on the stove, and Max struggled to remain calm (and to wake up) as she huddled tighter into her bathrobe and walked towards the open circuit panel on her wall.
"What are you doing here?"
"Ah Mole's on the way to give you the cussing out of a century." Alec responded nonchalantly as he filled two large mugs with steaming water, "Thought I'd swing by and give you a little heads-up, you know in case you were uh…" He glanced up at her briefly and waved a teaspoon, "walking around in your panties or something."
She gave him a blank stare.
He shrugged as his eyes returned to the coffee, "I dunno, I hear chicks do that. Anyway…"
"God, Mole's stance on privacy or lack thereof is really starting to spread around here." Max growled as she attempted to re-wire the heating system into life. A sudden spark jumped out at her, and Max yanked her hand away reflexively before rubbing at a burnt fingertip, "Damn it!"
"Yeah sorry 'bout that." Alec cringed briefly at the wall panel, "Got some techies workin' the circuiting in this joint. Should be up and running soon enough once the generator guy comes through."
"Yeah well," Max opened a cupboard and handed Alec a cardboard box full of sugar just as he turned around to begin rummaging, "all I want is to be able to turn my freaking light on at night without havin' to get electrocuted every time I touch the switch."
He grunted in acknowledgement of her plight before he paused and sniffed briefly at the air, "Smell somethin' funny?"
Max rolled her eyes as she snatched her coffee mug from the counter, "Nope."
"Huh." Alec lifted his head and glanced around the apartment, "Smells like…damp."
"It's probably just your upper lip." Max responded tartly as she took a large gulp of her coffee and moved to sit on the faded sofa in the corner of the room, pausing by the window as she did so, "Oh my god."
"What?" Alec queried as he walked quickly around the counter to join her.
Both X5s stared in disbelief at the gangly, shaggy-haired male who was ambling cautiously towards the apartment building, hands tucked into his pockets and trepidation plastered to his features.
Alec's eyes narrowed incredulously, "Is that Sketchy?"
"What is he thinking?" Max was already heading for the door, mug of coffee forgotten on the counter, Alec on her heels.
"Well, knowing the man as I do, nothing that doesn't spell trouble." Alec offered with complete bewilderment in his voice that matched the expression on Max's face as the latter pulled open the front door…and came face-to-face with Mole.
"Hey Max." He drawled between the grit of his teeth around yet another cigar.
She glared virulently at the nomalie before shoving past him, much to his indignation.
"We gotta talk!"
"Yeah well save it for a time I don't feel like smashing your face in." Max retorted briskly as she strode hurriedly down the staircase, and Mole turned to Alec, exasperation etched across his face.
"What did you do now?"
Alec seemed greatly amused at the insinuation and smirked smugly as he folded his arms across his chest, "Oh this has nothing to do with me, Molie-boy."
"For once." Mole grunted, and Alec bobbed his eyebrows before side-stepping the nomalie and jogging down the steps, "Hey!"
Max reached the trashed-out lobby of the apartment just as Sketchy appeared through the main entrance.
"Hey yourself, what the hell are you doing here?" Max demanded with enough bite to her tone to wipe off the grin which had briefly appeared on the bike messenger's face. Fortunately for Sketchy, his hide was salvaged by Alec's presence behind Max at that precise moment – although the look on the X5's face was no less reassuring.
"Sketch man, you know the deal with the biohazards, not to mention all the freaking guns trained on this joint." Alec's lecture was short-lived as he tucked his hands into the pockets of his sweater and narrowed his eyebrows with a judicious pout, "What're you doin' here?"
"Look you guys, I know I'm not supposed to prowl around, but uh…" Sketchy suddenly swallowed whatever words he had been about to emit at the sight of Mole at the foot of the staircase. "Uh you know…maybe we should do this another time."
"What was so damn important that you couldn't just pick up a phone and call us?" Max had no intention of letting this one fly, and her eyes widened with the promise of ill-will as she took a step closer to the lanky Jam Pony employee.
"I tried! Your phone was switched off." Sketchy protested, and Max's eye roll was in sync with the vindicated snort that left Mole' slips at the statement, "And dude, I dunno where you been," Sketch nodded at Alec, "But apparently your number no longer exists."
"Yeah, little safety precaution thing I have when I'm arms dealing – I get like that sometimes." Alec's acidic smile had Sketchy's eyes narrowing.
"Arms dealing? You…" He glanced at Max and then back at Alec who was shrugging nonchalantly, "You guys gotta do something. Normal got a visit from some suits last night – apparently they're threatening to shut Jam Pony down and throw everyone in the can until he talks."
"Talks about what? He already told the cops everything that happened." Max furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.
"Yeah well they're not satisfied. Max, these guys want smear, they want angst, they want…" Sketchy sighed for a moment before continuing, "They say they want official statements from the staff who were holed up durin' the hostage situation on the abuse we suffered at the hands of our transgenic kidnappers."
Alec's tongue flicked across his lips and then a disbelieving grin crept up one side of his mouth, "That's the media for you. Never satisfied with the facts – all they want is fiction, it sells better."
"And in this case, it adds credence to the digs at our humanity." Max fingered the collar of her bathrobe as she glanced down at the floor, "God this is just typical. All their talk about a peaceful and diplomatic resolving process and this is the crap they pull behind our backs."
"You're surprised?" Alec seemed taken aback by the concept, and Max rubbed her neck as she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
"No, just pissed off. I mean, don't they get that we're not going anywhere?"
"You may not be, but uh…" Sketchy raised his eyebrows, "me 'n the rest of the gang are if you guys don't grab this one by the balls ASAP."
Alec nodded and his gaze switched to Max for some teller regarding her thoughts on the subject.
"Max, any bright ideas?"
Her face was a tapestry of emotions, with determination being the predominant thread as she remained silent for a minute, then glanced back at Alec.
"I dunno. What're you thinking?"
The question caught him off guard. She had never solicited his opinion so directly on any matter of importance before. Not with that tone riding her voice at any rate – the one that said 'I have no freaking clue'.
Alec pursed his lips for a minute as he considered his answer. "I'm thinking Sketch should hit the road before he keels over or gets himself shot."
"Yeah well that's a no-brainer." Sketchy agreed, his eyes falling to the phone tucked into his shoulder bag's front pocket as it began to throb, "It's Normal. He's pissed, I'm totally AWOL right now."
"Yeah, just get going, man." Alec clapped a hand on his shoulder, "We got your back, alright?"
"Sure, just…thought you guys should know." Sketch nodded at his ex-colleagues, "Mean, just in case there was anythin' you could do. Some of the guys were thinkin' of talking but most of'em are sticking with you on this one."
"Tell'em thanks." Max forced a glimmer of a smile, "And…" She shrugged, "Tell Cindy we'll think o' something."
"Right." Sketch clapped his hands together with a swing as he backed away, "Cool. So uh, I'll see y'all later, huh?" He cast a nervou8s glance at Mole's imposing form before turning to leave.
"Hey you need a hand clearing the area, man?" Alec called after him, and he pause din his tracks, "It's not rocket science gettin' past the watch dogs if you're transgenic, but…"
"Nah I got it." Sketch grinned broadly as he waved a folded slip of paper at them, "Sewers, man. Got a map and everything."
Max broke into a broad smile at the statement and waved a hand at Sketchy, "Get going."
"I'm gone, I'm gone!" He held up both hands defensively before ambling through the exit door and out of sight.
"Please tell me you're not thinkin' of making this one our problem." Mole's curt dialogue had Max and Alec both turning to face him at the foot of the staircase.
"It already is our problem." Max responded quietly, her face set with the iron of her will.
"No, our problem is keepin' the world at bay for the amount o' time it takes us to stock up on ammo and launch an attack!" The lizard informed her coolly as he shouldered his rifle and unscrewed the cap on his whiskey flask.
"Where exactly did you come up with that one again?' Alec queried in genuine bewilderment after the silence that had followed.
Max rolled her eyes as she brushed past Mole and began trudging up the stairs, "Nobody's attacking anybody – not if we can help it."
"We can't." Mole replied brusquely as he placed a hand on her arm and halted her in her tracks. She turned around to face him stonily as he rested an arm on the railing, blocking her path and leaning forward.
"This is a war, Max. Has been for a long time, only now it's out in the open, and we don't have to hide anymore. Isn't that what you said when all this started, that we wouldn't have to run?"
"We are not running." Max's eyes shot daggers which glanced off the metal barricade of Mole's own.
"Not yet." He snapped, "Just hiding. That's phase one of running with you, isn't it?"
"Hey guys, let's take a second to chill, okay?" Alec's remonstrance interrupted what could have escalated into a physical conflict as he hiked the step beside Mole and raised an eyebrow at the nomalie, "Cool it."
Mole sneered but released his grip on the rail at his friend's behest, eyes trained coldly on Max as she returned the challenging glare.
"Look we can talk about this later, okay?" Alec continued, directing his words at the pair of transgenics with a calm raise of his eyebrows as he tapped Max's back, "Why don't you go on upstairs and get dressed? We can hash this out at Central."
Max seemed eager to beat the scene and headed up the stairs with a final scowl in Mole's direction.
"Might wanna put on some common sense along with those clothes there, Maxie!" The nomalie called after her, and fortunately for him (because Max was running on a very short fuse just then), she ignored the jibe as she hiked the stairs around the corner and disappeared from sight.
Alec's eyes lidded slightly as Mole turned to shake his head at the man, "Quit winding her up, Mole."
"Ain't my fault Missy's livin' in a dream world." The nomalie retorted icily, prompting something akin to a glare from Alec as he widened his eyes unapologetically, "While we're all dealin' with the fall-out here, Max's good intentions are pavin' the road to all kinds o' hell…"
"Just give it a rest, would ya?" Alec snapped so suddenly that Mole actually shut his trap for more then the moment it took the X5 to finish his statement, "Max is runnin' on empty right now and if you keep this up with her, she's gonna break."
"She already has." Mole informed him tersely, "You 'n the rest o' the gang are going on business as usual pretending everything's fine, but the truth is Max just ain't cut out for this kinda shit."
"Maybe she is, maybe she isn't." Alec shrugged, "Tell you two things for sure though; one – Max is the only transgenic we've got in the barracks with ten years experience in surviving outside Manticore, which has gotta count for something."
"And two?" Mole crossed his arms.
"If you don't back off from her?" Alec leant forward and lowered his voice as his face darkened momentarily, "You and me are gonna have a problem."
Mole scoffed, "Well I'll be. Who dubbed you Lord Protector in the land?"
"Doesn't matter, just lay off of Max." Was Alec's indifferent response as he sniffed before ambling down the stairs.
Mole digested the less-then-veiled threat from his otherwise amiable compadre and shook his head in wonder.
"Women," He sucked at his cigar, "Damn bitches ruin every good thing in this world."