This story is set before Freak Nation but after Love Among the Runes. So, transgenics are exposed but not Max and Alec. I'm back fully into writing. Yay! Title comes from a song by Third Eye Blind.

I don't own anything.

"Alec!" Max banged on his door, anger coursing through her veins, as seemed too often do with Alec. "Alec! Open the door!"

She wouldn't admit to the worry that had started to creep up on her when Alec hadn't shown for work or at Joshua's. She didn't want to admit to herself that, while it wasn't so strange for him to skip out on work every now and then, it wasn't like him to bail on Joshua.

She let out a frustrated breath and tried opening the door. She couldn't help the heightened worry when she found it unlocked.

Max stopped inside his door. Her gaze swept the room, noted the broken glass on the floor in the small kitchen. She crept towards his bedroom and stopped short once again in the doorway.

He was lying on the floor beside his bed. He was on his back. His cell phone was lying next to one hand and the covers to his bed were pulled to the floor. His eyes were open.

"Alec." Max ran over, dropped to her knees beside him. She put her hands on the sides of his face, turned his head towards her, stared into his blank eyes.

"Oh, God." Max sat back and a sense of overwhelming, unexpected despair caught her. She bent forward with it. The pain that sprang up in her gut spread throughout her. Without thinking, she pulled him toward her. She didn't even notice when she started the rocking.

"Hello?" Logan answered his phone. He'd been sitting in front of his computer for a while now but not really doing anything.

"Hello?" He asked again when nobody answered.

"Logan." Max's voice came through finally.

"Max? Something wrong?" He stood worriedly.

Her voice was flat, emotionless when she answered. "I need your car."

"Max, what happened? Where are you?"

"Alec's. I need your car. I have to take him back." She hung up before he could respond.

Logan stared at his phone a moment. He and Max hadn't really talked since she'd told him about her and Alec. He cringed at the idea of going over to Alec's place but grabbed his keys anyway. Max's voice…it had sounded so…dead.

Alec's door was open when he made it over there and he went inside. "Max?" He called, walking towards the bedroom, forgetting everything that he hated about Alec in favor of actual worry. He stopped in the bedroom doorway.

Max was sitting on the floor beside the bed. She'd pulled Alec into her arms but for once the thought of them like that didn't insight jealousy because Alec wasn't moving. His eyes were open but fixed.

"Max…" Logan walked over and knelt on the other side of Alec. Max still hadn't looked up at him. When he reached out, she pulled Alec closer to herself and her head snapped up. Logan almost backed up at the look in her eyes.

When he withdrew, Max turned back to Alec. She reached up with one hand and closed his eyes.

"I need to take him to TC," Max stated after a moment.


Max carried Alec inside Terminal City. She refused to let him go. She couldn't let him go. She was barely aware of Joshua, Mole and Dix as she laid him out on the table in command. She thought she heard Logan talking to Joshua, thought she heard Joshua howling the same way he had for his brother.

She'd laid him down but she hadn't let him go. She didn't stop Joshua when he came over the way she had Logan. It had seemed a disservice to him…to let Logan touch him but Joshua…Alec and Joshua had become friends.

There were too many people in the room suddenly. Several just to see…too many that didn't care.

"I'm going to take care of him," she told Joshua. "You can come with me." She didn't leave any question in her tone. She and Joshua would be the only ones there for this.

Joshua watched Max dig. She had refused any kind of help at all. She dug furiously and kept going…past the point that they had for any others that had been killed. She had finally relinquished Alec to Joshua when they'd made it there.

It was her job, she'd said.

Max focused solely on digging. They were in the woods on the outskirts of Seattle. In the woods. It was the only place she could think of…the only place she could leave him. She couldn't leave him to stay in Terminal City forever. He hated the place…hated the thought of Joshua and possibly them someday being stuck in there like they had been in Manticore.

He liked the freedom, of course. They all did. She had to leave him outside. Still in Seattle because he'd admitted to her one time, just a month previously after she'd spilled her guts about Ben, that, finally, after so long, Seattle actually felt like home to him. He'd stopped thinking of home as Manticore.

Alec had always been a fan of the comforts they were allowed now that they were outside of Manticore. Junk food, scotch, television, the basic allowance of sleeping in if he wanted…sex.

That was all very simple. Simple stuff, straightforward. Alec had always been pretty straightforward. At least with his wants, needs, beliefs.

There was another level, though. One she'd rarely seen. She'd seen it after Rachel Berrisford. She'd seen it after Biggs death. One horribly damaged layer that was very much courtesy of Manticore.

But most of the time, he lived up to the name she'd given him...and, most of the time, it wasn't really an act.

The guy who couldn't seem to worry about his own safety until he was in a jam he couldn't get himself out of. The guy who could never seem to see two days ahead. The guy who said whatever sprang to mind, who called her on it when she was being too much of a bitch.

Telling him about Ben, letting go of Ben really, had released most of her anger towards him and she was surprised to find that she actually kind of liked that about him. She liked that he was straightforward.

Now it was gone. He was gone.

She finished digging. Now all she had to do was put him inside and cover the hole. Joshua remained silent while she finished. She remained silent. She'd been trying not to think about what it meant.

She couldn't avoid it, though. The hole was filled but she felt hollowed out. She didn't cry or scream. She just felt numb.

"What now?" Joshua asked her.

"Now, we find out who did this," Max answered. She shouldered the shovel. She couldn't even leave a marker. She couldn't risk someone finding the grave, finding him. "And we kill them."

She didn't have to wait long for Max to leave. Max marched off almost immediately after burying Alec. She grinned. It had worked.

She watched Max. She didn't feel any guilt for the pain she'd so obviously caused Max. Max deserved it…after what she'd done. They were supposed to look out for each other. That was what they'd promised as kids. Max hadn't done that. Max had taken him.

She ran to the fresh grave and began digging herself as soon as she was sure Max was out of hearing range. She went as fast as she could.

"Max…" Logan started when she and Joshua made it back to TC. She was covered in dirt and her eyes…he'd never seen them look quite like it…

"Find me White," Max ordered Dix, ignoring Logan.

"You think it was him?" Dix asked with a wary expression.

"Who else?"

"Max," Logan tried, keeping his voice low and gentle. "It could have been someone else. There a lot of people in the city who would want-"

"White first," Max interrupted. "I'm gonna find out if it was him."

"You think he'd just tell you?" Logan asked.

Max shook her head and gave him a smile. There was absolutely no humor in it. "No but if he doesn't want to, I'm gonna see how high his pain tolerance is."

"Max, don't you think we should know how Alec was…" He trailed off when Max turned fully to him, took a step towards him, either forgetting for a moment about the virus or not caring.

"What? You want to go dig him up, Logan? Want to run a bunch of tests?" She took another step, forcing him backwards. "No, I'm gonna find out who did this without degrading him that way. I'm gonna find out who did this and I'm gonna make them pay."

She watched him. It would happen soon. She'd already given him the shot. She was just waiting. She'd taken a risk. A risk with his brain, a risk he wouldn't ever wake up but she was getting rewarded. She could feel his heartbeat in his wrist, see his chest rising and falling with his breath.

It would be any time. She'd wait.

His head was pounding. His whole body ached and he felt like he was going to lose everything in his stomach and he was cold. Freezing. Those were the sensations he woke up to.

It took him a minute, trying to breathe through the nausea and the pain in his head, to realize that he wasn't alone in the room.

"Max?" Of course, she was the first person that popped into his head. He heard a sharp intake of breath and felt the mattress he was lying on shift. He opened his eyes but could barely see anything.

"Don't worry. Your vision should return in a little bit. Sorry, it's one of the side effects but I had to get you away. I know what she did to you last time you were with her. You don't have to worry. She won't find you here."

He tried to move his hands but couldn't. They were held in place, over his head. He could feel them. He was cuffed to the bed. He tried to focus on the girl when she leaned over him but he couldn't make out her features.

"Don't worry, I'm going to fix everything. I know what she did to you. I've been looking for you for so long. I'm going to take care of you, Ben."

What the hell? "I'm not-" She clamped a hand over his mouth, cut him off.

"I know what she did, I know. Once you recover, I'll make it better. I'll make you forget everything she did."

His vision cleared further with each minute and he was finally able to make out the look in her eyes. She grinned at him and turned, walked out of the room.

Alec pulled at the cuffs a little desperately but couldn't break them, still too weak from whatever she'd drugged him with before. He closed his eyes tightly when the movement made the nausea reappear.

Max, I could really use one of those last minute rescues.