Dog Will Have His Day
Summary: Alec is trying to catch the man who made him hurt Max, but he has to save her first...
Well… here you have it. The wrap-up turned a bit overly long. Hope you enjoy. Thank you very, very much for the kind reviews.
Max's eyes flew open. She was in her bed, alone. The light coming in through the blinds was too bright, albeit not as bright as it could have been. Compared to the last time she'd been capable of conscious thought it was bearable. Alec must have come through for her.
Her skin felt raw, as if she had been scraped, or dragged across gravel or pavement. She hurt from the soles of her feet to the roots of her hair. Everything just felt badly over-stimulated, but still... it was better.
Max looked down and realized she was lying on her own bed, completely naked. She had a vague memory of someone else being in the room, followed by more pain than she had ever thought possible. Mole... Mole had been there.
Mole had seen her naked. She was going to kill Alec.
There was a knock at the door and Max quickly scrambled for a sheet. She wrapped it around herself and moved to the side of the bed to face whoever was there. "Who is it?" she called, then coughed when her voice came out a dry rasp.
"It's maid service," Mole growled. "Who do you think it is?"
Max braced herself for company. "Come in."
The door opened immediately and Mole stepped inside, closing the door again behind him. "You good?" he asked, which Max supposed was as close as he could come to asking about her welfare.
"Better. What happened?"
"Alec made a deal with Kincaid. Alec got his hands on a file Kincaid wanted and Kincaid handed over the anti-viral for you."
"He gave him the file?" Max frowned fiercely. "He shouldn't have. Now we'll have to send a crew to retrieve it."
Mole huffed. "Kincaid didn't get the file. We have it, and Secretary Gordon already tasked us with figuring out why Kincaid was so hot to get it."
"Was?" Max picked up on the past tense.
"Alec," was all Mole answered.
Max pursed her lips and forced her mouth to form the questions she was afraid to ask. "Where is he? Why isn't he here? Is he all right?"
Mole looked down and away, his expression grim, and Max's heart dropped to the floor. She'd known it as soon as she opened her eyes and Alec wasn't beside her. Alec never would have left her alone in the state she was in. If he had found the cure for her, he should have been the one to come back with it. She should have awakened in his arms, safe and secure.
"Is..." She had to clear the constriction from her throat. "Is he alive?"
Mole met her gaze. "Barely."
She stood, wobbled badly and fell back on the bed. "You wanna help me out, here?" she demanded testily.
"Nothin' personal, but I been more up close and personal with you than I ever want to be again."
Max's eyes narrowed. "Just so we're clear... If you ever tell anyone you saw me naked I will make sure you spend the rest of your time here in charge of the day care."
Mole looked her up and down. "You got nothing I ain't seen before, Princess. Although the only reason I'm the one delivering the message is so nobody else gets scarred for life."
Max struggled to her feet and used the bedpost to keep herself upright on her shaky legs. "How is he?" Max asked quietly. She'd wanted to put off the question, but a few seconds were all she'd been able to bear. She had to know.
"Bad. He was already a mess, then he ran himself into the ground to get the cure for you, then..."
"What?" Max managed to squeak out.
"Kincaid shot him."
"Where is he?"
"Outside DC. He wasn't safe to move. It's a military hospital. Gordon has it on information lockdown, so at least the reporters don't know."
Max started frantically looking around the room for something clean to wear. She needed a quick shower, some clothes and a plane.
"I'll have them ready to fly in half an hour," Mole said, as if reading her mind. "One thing, though."
Max groaned. "What else can there be?"
"What about him?" Max snapped.
Mole grinned broadly. "You'll see. You need to talk to him before you go."
Mole let himself out and Max hurried to get herself together. After a quick shower, she felt better, if still a bit shaky, but those few minutes had also given her time to think.
Alec was in such bad shape he wasn't even safe to move. For a transgenic to be that bad off, it had to be catastrophic. She knew how little he'd slept after she was shot. The programming had sent him running back to their old base, and by the time Max had caught up, he'd been suffering from hunger and dehydration. On top of the guilt he was already carrying from shooting her, the deprogramming sessions had weakened him further to the point of near collapse, both physical and mental. Then the hit on Gordon had forced him back into the field where he'd been stabbed. Kincaid had caught him in the hospital and Alec had run to try to protect her, further injuring himself. Now, he'd been running himself ragged trying to save her and he'd been shot.
Max felt years older after the seemingly never ending barrage of events. Alec was in even worse shape. Had it only been a week?
Max finished dressing and headed for the door. She jerked it open and was surprised to see not only Fred and Barney standing guard, but also Sig and one of his crew. Her first instinct was to back up into the apartment. She didn't have time for a pissing contest with Sig. There was no telling what kind of damage he'd caused while she was down, and although she had every intention of fixing it, right now, Alec was top priority.
Max stepped out so that she was flanked by Fred and Barney who had snapped to attention at her appearance. "Guys? Is there a problem?"
"No, Ma'am," Fred said, despite, or more probably because, he knew how much it annoyed her to be called ma'am. She didn't feel like correcting him, however, in front of Sig.
Max waited for Fred to continue, but he didn't say anything else. She had the distinct feeling he was enjoying the situation for some reason. Max frowned and finally decided to just go ahead and ask. "Sig, why are you here?"
"We're here to replace your guard and walk you to the plane," Sig said without a trace of hostility or sarcasm.
"Sig, I wouldn't trust you to walk me to the bathroom."
Fred let out an honest to goodness chortle and Sig's eyes narrowed dangerously. After a second, however, his expression smoothed into its former openness and he looked back at Max. "Ma'am, you are my CO and I will protect you with my life."
Once again, he seemed totally sincere, grave even. Max knew what it was to have someone die for her. Almost an entire security team had died protecting her in the riot outside city hall. She never took it lightly when someone said they would die for her.
"What happened?" she demanded. "I expected to have to come out here and kick your ass for trying to take over."
"He already had his wings clipped," Fred growled. Max glanced toward him and saw a flash of Fred's wolfish teeth.
"I may have accepted them," Sig snapped. "That doesn't mean I'll take crap from you, cub."
"Call me a cub again and you'll get to see just what these teeth can do," Fred snarled.
"Cut it out," Max ordered angrily. "I don't have time for this. I have a plane to catch."
"That's why we're here," Sig said huffily, some of the old Sig showing through.
Max hesitated for only a second and then stepped forward, heading toward the stairs leading out of the apartment building. "Fred, Barney, with me," she ordered, and immediately heard the two trusted guards fall in behind her. "If either of these two idiots tries anything, shoot them."
Sig she noticed acknowledged the order with an approving nod. He moved out of the building ahead of her, his eyes watchful. It wasn't exactly necessary since they were inside TC, but Max had to appreciate the effort. Fred and Barney had only been on duty because of the threat of Sig himself. If he really had decided to back off, then this was a very unnecessary escort, at least until they got underway outside the gates.
"What's with the change of heart?" Max couldn't help asking.
"Alec," was all Sig answered.
"What about him?"
"He..." Sig paused as if trying to figure out how to say it. "He earned my respect."
Fred snorted. "He kicked your ass."
"You picked a fight with Alec?" Max said, a heavy warning in her tone. "He was fresh out of the hospital and you-"
"Yes," Sig cut her off. "He was injured and he still put me down before I knew what happened." He sounded almost embarrassed. "Anyone who can do that deserves to be in charge."
"So that takes care of Alec. What about me?" Max queried.
Sig smirked. "You two? You might as well be one person. You move as a team and you think as a team. You're a package deal."
"Whatever," Max said. "You ever touch Alec again, this half of the package deal will tear your arms off and beat you with them. We clear?"
"Very." Sig laughed and it was a noise Max had never heard, low and dangerous. It reminded her that even if Sig had decided he was on their team, he was still a very risky part of the team. She made a mental note to keep him busy so he'd stay out of trouble, not to mention out of her way. Nevertheless, Max set all that aside for the time being. Business was one thing, but first things first. She had to get to Alec.
Max walked down the hallway as fast as her feet would carry her without blurring. It was a military hospital and she knew better than to spook a bunch of trained soldiers. That, however, was not going to stop her from getting to her husband.
At the end of the hall, she saw two guards standing outside a room, and she recognized them as members of Alec's team. Unlike the idiot hospital in Seattle, this one apparently had no problem with allowing them to properly secure the area.
Both guards noticed her approach at the same time, as well as Fred and Barney about two steps behind her. They all met in a heavily armed traffic jam at the door to Alec's room.
"How is he?" Max asked.
Rather than answer, both men looked at each other, and if she had to guess, they were silently arguing over who got the job of telling her the bad news.
"Get out of my way," she finally snapped, and the two stepped aside. "And somebody better go find his doctor. I want him here now since you two won't give me a straight answer."
Barney, who was far more diplomatic than Fred, trotted off toward the nearest nurse's station. "I got it."
"Fred, wait out here," Max ordered. She braced herself and walked into the hospital room.
There were no windows and Max supposed that was best since they were definite security risks. It didn't, however, make the room any warmer. It was like a jail cell, but with medical equipment. It was like something at Manticore and Alec was trapped here.
For a moment her vision swam. The smells were too much, the overhead lights were too bright, the sounds of the medical equipment whirring and beeping were too loud. The worst part was that she knew it wasn't the remains of the virus. It was her mind trying to keep her from really seeing what was in front of her.
"Alec?" she whispered.
Max's head snapped to one side and she realized Slick was sitting in a chair by the wall. She supposed he'd been in charge since Alec was down for the count. He looked exhausted, and far too young to have that kind of burden placed on him. "You ok?" she asked.
"Just tired," he said. "He's doing better though."
For the first time, she didn't allow herself to be distracted by the room, or the machinery, or the guards. She looked directly at Alec.
She wanted to fall to her knees. She wanted to sob. She wanted to do anything but face the situation. Instead, she walked forward to the bed, lowered the bedrail and gently sat down at his hip.
Alec was gray. That was the only thing she could think. His lips were nearly blue and his skin was gray. His breathing didn't sound right either.
"They took him off the vent a little while ago," Slick explained. "He wasn't healing right because of the interference, or he was instinctively fighting it too much, so they decided taking him off was the lesser of two evils."
"Has he woken up?" She brushed a hand over his cheek, mindful of the nasal cannula giving him extra oxygen.
"He can't. He's too heavily sedated."
At that, Max looked toward Slick in surprise. "He's been out the whole time? How did they manage that?"
"You're not gonna believe it." He shook his head as if he didn't believe it himself.
Two doctors were hustled into the room, looking half-annoyed and half-frightened. Fred was pushing them toward Max, and if she had to guess, she suspected he'd snarled and flashed his teeth to get them to move faster. He just loved scaring ordinaries.
"Fred, let them go," Max ordered. When he obeyed, she added, "Wait outside."
Fred cast a worried glance toward the bed where Alec lay, but then walked outside to stand with the others.
"Sorry about that," Max said, and the two men nodded. One was a tall, balding, middle-aged man who looked like the Pulse hadn't cut into his meal rations, while the second was a shorter man in his twenties who looked a little scruffy.
"Max, this is Dr. Myers." Slick gestured to the taller man. "He has been taking care of Alec since he got out of surgery. And this," he pointed to the younger man, "is Dr. Peterson. Alec's veterinarian."
Max's first reaction was to laugh, but neither Slick nor the doctors appeared amused. She faced Slick. "Are you serious?"
"Yes," he answered, frowning worriedly, not knowing how she would take it.
Max cleared her throat. "A veterinarian."
"Yes," the tall doctor said. "Once your friend here explained that some of the problems we were having were due to animal DNA, we thought it best to consult with someone qualified to assist us."
She physically took a step back toward Alec, infuriated, and hurting for him, that he had been subjected to such a thing. It was bad enough that they had spent their entire lives as lab rats, but for them to literally treat them like that... It was beyond insulting.
"You're treating my husband like an animal?" Max demanded, her voice turning strident.
"No, of course not," the veterinarian said, shifting nervously on his feet. "We wouldn't dream of it."
"Then why are you here?"
"Many medications used for animals are the same things used for humans. They're just called by different names," Peterson explained. "But some are different, and some are more effective on certain animals than others, and some have very adverse effects on an animal's system. I'm just here to make sure we don't hurt him unknowingly."
She whipped around to see that Alec's eyes were open just a tiny bit. "Alec?"
"Don't hurt him," he said weakly. "Vet's an ok guy. Better'n the other one."
"You were awake?"
"Been in and out since the surgery."
"That's not possible," Dr. Myers said, stepping closer. "We used a combination of human and veterinary techniques to keep him sedated." He sounded very pompous and sure of himself and Max wanted to kick his ass.
Alec lifted his hand and put it around her wrist to stop her. She met his gaze and Alec winked. "Dr. Myers?" he asked.
"Do you want to tell your wife or should I?"
Dr. Myers frowned in confusion. "I don't understand."
"Then don't talk about your mistress around a transgenic. Odds are, we're not as unconscious as you think we are."
The man turned fire engine red and looked almost like a cornered animal himself. "You wouldn't dare."
Alec looked barely strong enough to sit up, but his voice was hard. "I have rules about how a man should treat his wife. I take them very seriously."
"Alec," Max said gently, but in a tone that would brook no opposition, "you need to rest. Stop baiting the ordinaries."
"Guy's a jerk," Alec murmured. "Don't trust him."
"I won't," she promised.
Alec's eyes slowly, too slowly for Max's comfort, tracked her as she sat down on the bed beside him. "You ok?" he asked.
"I'm fine now," she assured him. "Thanks to you."
"Doctor check you out?"
"No time." She leaned forward and kissed him lightly. "Had to get to you."
"Stupid," he mumbled, his words increasingly slurred, his breathing labored.
"We gonna compare stupid now?"
"Got the job done," he replied, his eyes closing. "Got the cure."
"Yeah, you did," she said, her heart so full it felt like it would burst. "Thank you." She brushed his hair from his brow, then set her hand against his cheek. He sighed contentedly at the gesture and turned his head more toward her hand.
"Love you," he said, drifting to sleep again.
"Always," she answered.
Max stood and turned to Slick. "One, I want arrangements made to move him out of here as soon as possible."
"You can't do that," Dr. Myers cried.
She ignored the interruption. "Two, you will tell me how this happened, and I mean down to the very last second. Mole didn't have all the details."
"Of course," Slick said, resigned to his fate of facing the pissed off boss. "Give me a few minutes to call Command and get everything ready, then I'll come back to explain." Max nodded and Slick hurried out of the room. She almost felt bad since the guy looked ready to fall down himself, but one look at Alec was all the reminder she needed that the others had allowed him to put himself in harm's way to the point of lunacy.
"You can't take him out of here," the doctor said again more forcefully.
Max turned around to face him. "There is one very big problem with that."
"And what would that be?" he asked haughtily.
"My husband doesn't trust you."
"I assure you I have done everything I can to-"
Max resisted the urge to growl. "Since you're enjoying thinking of us as animals, then consider that you have one of the most dangerous animals alive right here in your hospital. He's injured and the drugs you're using won't keep him down much longer. Unless I can get him someplace where he feels safe, this could go very badly for everyone involved."
The doctor looked horrified and scared. "Are you suggesting-"
"He doesn't trust you, which means, if he's still groggy, he will fight his way out of here. Or… if you are very lucky, he'll just sneak out of here on his own even if it kills him to do it. That is, unless I move him first."
"I will not allow you people to come in here and-"
Once again she stopped him. "Thank you for your assistance. We'll take it from here."
"We'll see about that," the man huffed and stomped out of the room.
That left only Dr. Peterson in the room with her. "You can go, too."
"I can't actually," the scruffy young man said. "Not in good conscience."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that… if you're willing," he qualified quickly, "I will accompany you wherever you're going. Back to Seattle, I assume."
Max frowned. "Why?"
"Your husband is in very poor shape. I understand why you want him out of here and, knowing what Myers is up to, I actually agree that you should take him. But I can't let him go without someone there to help if he gets in trouble."
"What's Myers up to?" she asked warily.
"He's been running tests that have no medical reason as far as I can tell. I overheard him talking to someone on the phone and I think they're… taking notes on you."
Max was so furious she could barely see straight. She walked to the door, trying to keep her temper in check. The guards all looked at her worriedly, no doubt having heard her conversation with the vet. "Don't let Myers back in here," she ordered through clenched teeth.
"Our pleasure." Fred gave her a little salute.
Max walked back into the room to see the veterinarian standing over Alec, checking the monitors. "Is he doing all right?"
"The bullet used to shoot him was a hollow point. It made an unbelievable mess. From what I understand, the surgeon nearly lost him on the table."
"Is it really safe to move him?" she asked. "I won't if…"
Dr. Peterson glanced at her, then back at Alec. "It isn't safe not to, if you ask me."
Max nodded and walked back to the door. "I need someone to call Gordon's office and get the paperwork necessary to take this guy back to Seattle with us."
"Will do." Barney pulled his cell phone out and started dialing as Max walked back into the room.
Peterson was moving around Alec starting to remove the medical equipment attached to him. "From what I've seen, he'll survive without the rest. It's just the oxygen he'll absolutely need. I'll make sure to get equipment more suitable to move him."
"Why are you willing to do this?"
"Honestly?" He turned to face her. "I'm fascinated. That, and I think you guys need help. I've read some articles about you and… frankly…" He grinned. "I could use a little excitement."
"Are you applying for a job?" Max asked in some astonishment.
"If you'll have me," he said eagerly.
Max shook her head. They would think she was absolutely nuts if she brought a veterinarian back with her. Except, the more she thought about it, the less angry she was. Transgenics were a weird bunch with a little too much of the animal kingdom built in. A vet might be just what the doctor ordered. Plus, if he really was willing, that would give them a pseudo-physician on staff. People who worked for Freak, Inc. were almost always coming in with everything from scrapes to bullet wounds.
"You realize we'll run a full background check, right? If you don't pass, we'll have to kill you," she said straight-faced.
Peterson gulped nervously, but he still nodded. "That's ok."
Max let out a faint laugh. "First thing to know about us," she said. "Nearly everybody's going to threaten to kill you at some point. We almost never mean it."
Peterson let out a shaky breath. "Good to know."
"We're the good guys. We're just a little… high strung."
Max held out her hand. "Welcome to Freak, Inc. Your first job is to get your boss back to Seattle alive."
Max awoke feeling warm and safe for the first time in days. Alec was beside her and, for the moment, that was all she needed to know.
The trip from Washington had been a nerve-wracking experience to say the least. Alec had really had no business being moved, but thanks to the military types starting to run tests, and Alec's own tendency to leave hospitals when the notion took him, it had been necessary.
Dr. Peterson had already proven himself to be a very useful guy to have around. He was used to working on four-legged animals, but he was good at improvisation and using what he knew to make things work. In short, he thought a lot like they did and did what was needed to get the job done.
Peterson had kept Alec as comfortable as he could on the plane ride, despite Alec's rising pain levels. Once they arrived, the vet didn't scream and run when he saw the myriad oddities waiting for him inside the gates, and better yet, he took no guff from anyone, including Mole.
The trip, however, had been exhausting for everyone involved. Despite how much better Max was feeling, her illness and the subsequent adrenaline-filled rush to the east coast had been too much too soon. Almost as soon as Alec was made comfortable, she had curled up beside him and fallen into a deep, deep sleep.
Now that she was awake again, she could tell the difference in his breathing and knew his lungs were beginning to repair themselves. Despite their accelerated healing, his recovery would be slower because of the repeated injuries with no real time to heal in between. Frankly, that was all right with her. She could keep him all to herself for a little while.
"Why are you grinning?"
Max jumped at the sound of the gravelly voice and looked up to see Alec staring down at her. He still looked ill and worn out, but his color was better. At least his lips weren't blue. "I was planning on having my way with you."
Alec's eyebrows rose. "Is that so?"
"I'm a woman, right?"
Alec's lips twitched in amusement. "Yes."
"And you're a man, right?"
"And you're stuck in this bed until further notice, right?"
"So says my veterinarian." Alec raised his hand and brushed it over her hair, sighing contentedly. "What exactly did you have in mind?"
"I plan to stay right here and make sure you do the same until we're both healthy as horses and ready to face the world."
"Doesn't sound very exciting," he said, a definite glint in his eye.
"Exactly. Be grateful for boring."
"With you here," he whispered, "I might never want to leave."
The look in his eyes was more than Max had ever hoped to find. She had spent her youth being trained by coldhearted military men, finding a bit of friendship and tenderness where she could. She'd spent her teen years on the run, only occasionally sticking around long enough to get to know anyone. But now... with Alec. Alec was home.
"Thank you for saving me," she said softly.
Alec smiled. "I was being selfish. You know how much I hate paperwork. If you died they were going to make me do it. It was self-preservation."
"And that's why you called in all of your favors with Gordon and his people? Why you let Kincaid shoot you just so you could blow up his insides? You don't like paperwork?"
Alec shrugged, jostling her a bit. "Seemed like a good idea at the time."
"You're a terrible liar. You know that?"
Alec's expression turned affronted. "Hey, I passed my verbal and non-verbal deception classes with flying colors."
Max stretched so that she could kiss him. "They didn't know you like I do," she breathed against his lips.
"No hanky-panky." Alec lips trailed from her mouth to her neck. "Doctor's orders."
"What does he know?" Max turned slightly so that Alec's wandering hands could roam at will, sending her temperature soaring. "He's a veterinarian."
"Better than that cheating, pompous ass doctor. Wanted to kick his ass, but I couldn't get out of the bed," Alec growled.
"Are we really going to keep talking about doctors right now?" Max asked.
Alec chuckled, the low rumble in his chest reverberating through her. Alec's breathing hitched suddenly and he coughed. It sounded painful and from the way he quickly released her and settled back against the mattress, it was worse than that. He set his hands on his chest, his fingers splayed wide as if trying to keep himself from flying apart. The coughing aggravated his other injuries, and Alec's color drained away.
"Are you all right?" she asked worriedly.
"Fine." He looked embarrassed and frustrated.
"It's ok," she tried to reassure him. "Just relax."
"Should… should've… stayed with… Logan," he gasped. "At least… he's healthy."
"Not funny," Max said sternly.
Alec fell silent, all of his concentration going into his troubled breathing until finally Max was ready to get Peterson. Alec knew what she was thinking, however, and wrapped a hand around her wrist, keeping her where she was.
"Just… give me… a minute," he wheezed and Max remained silent, afraid any response would make him feel like he had to answer.
After a few minutes, his color began to seep back and his breathing eased. "Better?" she asked and he nodded. "Good. Cause I'm going to hit you for that crack about Logan."
Alec didn't even smile. He just looked at her for a moment, his expression inscrutable. "You know…" He paused, visibly gathering his thoughts, and whatever they were, they were painful to him. "With the virus gone… I would understand…"
Max stopped him with a hand over his mouth. "Do you really think that's why I chose you?" she asked. "Just because you were hanging around and I couldn't kill you?" When he didn't answer she glared at him. "How shallow do you think I am?"
"That's not gonna work, smart guy. I'm not a reporter."
Alec's expression became very serious. This wasn't the brash, devil-may-care, nothing-fazes-him Alec. This was the real Alec, the Alec she loved, the man she married. It was for moments like this when it was just the two of them and the bravado went away, and they could just talk without the weight of who they had to be to the outside world bearing down on them.
"I just don't want you to feel… stuck," he said softly.
"I am." She nearly stopped when his face went very purposely blank, but she pressed on. "I'm stuck running this place, and I'm stuck fighting these stupid Familiars, and I'm stuck with you."
"You don't have to be," he told her.
"I want to be," she replied. "I want to be stuck in this mess, and I want to be stuck here with you."
Alec's exhausted smile was almost bashful. "Careful. My ego's already pretty big."
Max could see he was fading. He'd been talking too long and the coughing fit had sapped what little energy he'd managed to muster.
"You wanna know something sad?" she asked.
"I kinda like your ego."
Alec grinned sleepily. "That so?"
"S'good. Cause my ego is still gonna kick Logan's ass for kissing you."
Max laughed and snuggled close again. Alec wrapped his arm around her and pulled her tight against him. It was quiet in the apartment, peaceful. She knew it wouldn't last, but for the moment, it was enough.
"I'm glad you're ok, Maxie."
"I'm glad we're both ok."
"Yeah." Alec placed a kiss on the top of her head before settling more comfortably on his pillow. "It was a pretty good day."
Well, I think this is it for me. Best of luck to you all. Been a pleasure.