A/N: The long awaited prequel for Crossing Paths. You don't need to read it to understand what's going on here. Hence why it's a prequel. It's the rather large backstory to how Dean ended up with Max.


Finding Family


LasVegas
January 1998

Dean growled as the phone rang, pulling the pillow over his head to block the sound (and the light) out. After a few moments the sound stopped and he sighed in relief moments before it rang again. For the fifth time.

He gave up, snatching the damn thing up. "WHAT?"

He winced at his own voice as it set off his hangover and, looking up at the amount of bottles of the hard stuff that he had consumed a few hours before, he felt a little bit nauseous.

"Good to know you're still alive," a voice remarked down the line.

"Sammy?"

"And now you remember your brother."

Dean scowled. How the hell was it that his brother could get the puppy dog look in his voice and down the phone line? "Come on Sammy, I said I was going to call."

"That was three weeks ago."

"You sound like a girl."

"Dean!"

"Oh come on. I sent you texts."

"And how was I supposed to know that it was you and not some demon?"

Dean would have replied to that seriously (or at least given his brother crap about trying to start a touchy, feely, chick flick moment) if it hadn't had been for his brother managing to cover three octaves in the same amount of words. He snorted, before laughing his head off.

"Dean, I'm serious." His brother's voice broke again.

"Dude, I know. I know. How the hell am I supposed to enjoy your voice breaking if I don't phone." Dean smiled smugly as he heard his little brother growling under his breath. For the last few years it had gotten harder and harder to get a decent rise out of Sam but puberty had brought a world of opportunities. After riling his brother up for a few more minutes, Dean decided to take pity on him. "Look, I'm fine. I've only been gone a month. Getting a little practice in solo hunting for a few months isn't going to hurt anyone and its not like I'm going after demons, mostly just your average salt and burn."

"Well I don't know that. You don't tell me anything about what hunts you're on."

"Yes, because I'm going to send written evidence via text or email that I'm desecrating graves."

"Well it wouldn't be a problem if you just phoned."

"And phoning wouldn't be a problem if it didn't ring."

There was a pause down the line. "Are you hung-over?"

"Yes."

"But you never get hung-over, or drunk for that matter."

"Well I've never been in a drinking contest with two very attractive Russian girls before now."

"I thought you were on a case."

"In Vegas. I had to keep cover somehow."

"Normally in Vegas that would mean gambling."

"I tried that. I got kicked out when I started winning too much. Half the time it wasn't even my fault."

"So you cheated."

"If using what you have is cheating."

"How much did you win?"

Dean shrugged, before remembering Sam couldn't see. "It doesn't matter. I spent it on the alcohol."

"You won enough to get kicked out of a casino and managed to blow it all on alcohol?"

"No. That would be stupid. I got myself a penthouse suite and a bath full of champagne."

There was a pause down the line. "I actually cannot tell if you're being serious or not."

Dean laughed. "I'll let you melt your brain over that one Sammy. I'll talk to you later. I've got to finish this case before the spirit kills again."

"Bye Dean," he heard before he hung up.

Dean sighed, before rolling back over and pulling a small notebook out of his belongings, one that he had started keeping when he had split from his father and brother a month before so he could do some solo hunting. He just wasn't hunting in the sense that they knew and if he could help it then they were never going to find out. He'd keep the secret, just like his mum asked him too.

"This is our little secret, Dean. You must never tell anyone. No one can know. Not your father. Not Sam. No one"

Dean shook his head, trying clear it. He had to focus. He had a job to do. He looked back at the notebook, grabbing a pencil and drawing a new link between two sentences. The notebook was full of small scraps of information like that and other larger pieces he had managed to gather from his mother's things after returning to his childhood home and from other sources he had managed to locate. All of it related to Project Manticore.

"Once upon a time there was a woman who hunted monsters. Her whole family had been hunting them for generations, keeping everyone safe without them even realising it," Mary said, tucking her oldest under the covers. Sam was asleep and had been for hours and John was helping out a friend and was staying the night away.

Dean looked up at his mother, the four-year-old understanding more than any his age would. He knew this story well. It was part of their routine whenever his father wasn't around.

"Now this woman, she swore to give up hunting when the man she loved got hurt badly. She knew that hunting monsters would put his life in danger. So she gave it all up. And years went by where she didn't hunt a thing. Then one day, her dad told her that a group of people may be experimenting with the monsters."

"Project Manticore," murmured Dean, shaking a little.

Mary nodded. "That's right. Now this woman, she was the only one that was able to get in there. But she didn't want the man she loved to be involved in anyway so she pretended to be someone else, someone she could pretend to be without it being discovered that she wasn't. And there was only one person she could pretend to be."

"Grandma Deanna."

"Yes. Now because the woman's mother had been killed by nasty monsters, the woman had to have her go on the missing persons list. It was easy to pretend to be Deanna. So she went to Manticore and did what they asked her as she tried to find out what they were doing. So when they asked for the DNA of people Deanna was supposed to know, even the man she loved, she gave it to them, hoping to find out Manticore's secret.

"Then finally she discovered that they weren't using the monsters but it was something worse than she imagined. Manticore was trying to make the perfect soldier, using human and animal DNA. But they did was horrible because these soldiers were just children. She would have left then and tried to find another way to stop it but they had already used the DNA of the man she loved as the base to make a new solider. She had to stay to find out what happened to it.

"Now the DNA was twinned to make two embryos in the hopes that at least one would survive when it was inserted into a volunteer to carry to full term. However before the first embryo was inserted, one of the volunteers died and there wasn't anyone to carry it. So woman volunteered instead and they accepted her. And so she became pregnant with one of the soldiers."

"And you ran away with it," Dean finished.

"Yes. And I am so lucky to have you baby. So, so lucky. But the things you do, the ones other people can't, you must never do them in front of people because they'll find you and take you away." Mary held her son's hand, fiddling with the small leather bracelet around his wrist, the one that she had her cousin (as her midwife and the only other person to know the whole truth) put on the boy as soon as he was born. "That's why you can never take this off."

"Because it hides my barcode."

Mary nodded. "This is our little secret, Dean. You must never tell anyone. No one can know. Not your father. Not Sam. No one. Promise me," she asked like every time they had the chance to do this.

"I promise."

"Good boy," she smiled. "One day we'll find your twin. And we'll protect him from Manticore too."

"And from the monsters," Dean added. "I'll protect Sammy too."

"I know you will. Just let me protect both of you first," she said, before handing him a glass of milk and a couple of tablets. "Now drink up and go to sleep. Daddy will be back in the morning."

The pencil snapped Dean's hand, bringing him back to the present. He looked back at the notebook. All of it he had used to find his brother to find X5-493. He didn't even have a real name for his twin, only his designation and a few snippets of knowledge that he had managed to find about him and the rest of the twelve who had escaped in '88.

He had been trying to find his twin for years and now he was so close to being reunited with him for the fist time since they were made in a glass dish. Once upon a time Dean had wondered why he already felt so close to someone that he had never met, then he figured that this person was like him and more importantly he was his brother so why should he care?

Taking the time to clear up after himself he left the hotel, before heading off to find a casino he hadn't visited the night before. He had been telling the truth when he told Sam that half the time it wasn't his fault that he had been chucked out. His twin had been there and recently. Now all that was left was finding him in a city of roughly nineteen and a half million people.

"Shouldn't be too hard at all," Dean mused to himself.

Seven hours, an exorcised demon, and a bottle of holy water down later and Dean was beginning to think he had jinxed himself. Covered in several cuts from where the demon he accidentally ran into threw him through a window, he returned to the Impala to tidy up and restock. Opening the trunk of the Impala, he chucked the empty bottle in.

"Oh come on," he moaned, realising he was out of holy water. He needed to find his brother - not restock on holy water. He briefly considered leaving it and continuing his search before he imagined his dad's reaction if he learnt he decided to go unarmed.

"Holy water it is," he murmured.

If Dean had been normal and not some genetic cocktail cooked up in a lab then he would have been exhausted by the time he arrived at the fourteenth chapel/church he could find. If he had known how hard it would be to find a genuine priest who could actually bless water and make it holy water he would have second guessed his decision and blessed his own, despite it being slightly weaker and gone looking for his twin instead.

Looking at the sign for the St Mary Romanian Orthodox Church he had a little hope he may actually find the real deal in the place. If anything it didn't have Elvis look-alike marrying people who were drunk off their faces in the afternoon, hell he could even hear choir boys singing inside.

Just as Dean was about to step into the building, he stepped out. Or rather his twin did. There was a moment's pause, where they both registered their shock. The moment ended, his brother's eyes widened with pure unadulterated fear, and then he bolted, Dean close behind him.

Dean had been expecting this since the moment he had first thought about confronting his twin. To the transgenic he was going to look like Manticore. What else could he be when they carried the same face. And Dean had been willing to bet that his brother was not going to return lightly to that place, which left him in the position where he had to pin him long enough to explain the situation.

"Hey, just wait a moment!" he shouted, following his twin into the back alleys, where unseen they could unleash the extent of their limits. They ran as blurs, leaping over eight foot gates with ease and after a few minutes Dean became aware of a problem. They had the same genetics, the same limits, and he wasn't going to be able to catch up with his twin much like his twin wasn't going to be able to loose him, unless something else happened.

His twin obviously had the same thought as his path suddenly became more erratic, less predictable, and harder to follow. Dean swore to himself as he leapt off the rails of an emergency escape and down three floors, landing with a jolt. His breath was heavy and, despite the situation a small laugh escaped him. Nobody had ever been able to push him to his limits like this before, simply for the reason he couldn't let anyone know them. This was what it was like to be with someone like him. He hadn't realised how much he had needed someone like that before.

Dean ran faster, jumping over the garbage cans his twin had knocked into his path. As he turned the corner, he had a split second to register the dead-end before he found a fist in his face. Dean swore, managing to tackle his brother before he could run back in the same direction they came from. Another fist came at him, then a kick. Dean blocked them both before returning the favour in kind around the same time he found a knee in his side. Manticore may have trained soldiers but so had his father.

"God damn it. Quit it. I'm not Manticore."

Another punch and another block. "You look like it." His twin sent another kick at him, catching Dean a little.

"So do you." There was a momentary pause, where the words had an impact before his twin lashed out again, unwilling to trust him just in case he really was Manticore. "Nineteen-eighty-eight you and eleven others got free but in nineteen-seventy-eight mymother, one of the surrogates there, escaped with me. I'm not Manticore. I never have been and never will be."

"Then what do you want with me?" his twin demanded, angry, confused, and scared but the punches had lessened and the power behind them minimal.

"You're my clone. That means that we're twins, brothers … family. And family is the most important thing in the world. I had to find you if I was going to protect you."

His twin stilled. "Protect me?"

Dean grinned. "Of course. Big brothers have to protect their little brothers." Of course, Dean had no idea which one of them was the older brother but he had been playing that role for years, thinking about looking after his twin for years. It didn't matter if it turned out he was the younger of the two, he was always going to be the older brother.

Finally his twin looked him in the eyes and Dean knew he had gotten through to him. A second later and he had collapsed against him, tears about everything bad that had ever happened to him coming out. If it had been Sammy then Dean would have teased him for the chick flick moment. But this wasn't Sammy and he certainly wasn't ready for teasing. Not after it had been him against the world for ten years without anyone but himself.

Dean patted him awkwardly on the back. "It's going to be okay now."

"I didn't know what to do. Everything's do different out here. I hurt people, like they taught us to."

"I know." And Dean did. It had been how he tracked his brother, by the brutal murders he cause, all fitting the same pattern fit for a demon. He wasn't a demon though, just a lost, abused child pushed too far. "You don't have to anymore. It's going to be okay."

They stayed like that a long moment before Dean's twin finally let him go. "My name's Dean. Dean Winchester."

"My name's Ben."

"Ben Winchester. Sounds good right?"

Ben smiled for the first time. It wasn't one of Dean's smiles. It was small and uncertain but most of all it was gentle and it was Ben's.

"Good," Dean said, removing his leather bracelet, feeling Ben's eyes take in the way his barcode suddenly appeared on his neck as his did so. "As my first act as older brother to you," he said, taking Ben's hand and tying the leather strap around his wrist, "I'm giving you a way to hide from the ordinaries."

Ben felt a small tingle crawl over his skin and, looking at his reflection in some broken glass on the ground, found that his own barcode had vanished. In a moment he felt safe and hidden, while he was sure that Dean felt the opposite.

"It's just an illusion but not even cameras can see past that."

"Why?"

"My mother, she wanted to save both of us, all of us. But she could only save me. Before she died, she always planned on going back. She couldn't help you then but this way she can help you now."

"What was her name?"

"Mary."

So softly, enough so that if Dean wasn't a transgenic he wouldn't have heard, he heard Ben murmur, "The Blue Lady." Then the last of Ben's defences lowered and he looked back at Dean with complete trust in his eyes. He opened his mouth to ask something, when Dean suddenly shoved him, a small whoosh filled the air, and the ground became embedded with tranquilliser darts.

"Run," Dean hissed.

Ben didn't need telling twice. They ran the route they had come from, this time together as they both fought and avoided true Manticore agents whenever the opportunities presented themselves. They rounded another corner, into a pair of agents. Dean knocked one out while Ben took the other. They paused for breath long enough to hear a voice blare down one of the radios attached to the agent.

"Target X5-493 has been confirmed. Four Nine Three is in the presence of a second male X5."

"They don't know it's me," Dean realised, looking back at Ben. "Okay, they're looking for you, or at least someone who looks like you and I think I'm pretty damn close enough. So what we're going to do is you're going to walk out of here. Your face down and your neck, you very tattoo free neck up. Walk casual and in plain sight and they'll never realise that's its you because I'm going to be going the other way making a very big distraction."

"But -"

"No buts! I told you already. I'm the older brother. That means it's my job to protect you." Dean pulled a business card out of his and the Impala's keys out of his pocket. "You're going to go to that hotel and out back you'll find my car, an Impala. You're going to wait half an hour and if I'm not back by then there's a notebook under the drivers seat, you'll it's the right one when you see it."

Ben was shaking his head but Dean continued. He had everything all planned out, including what they would do if Manticore found them and they were separated. "Find the address for Father Jimmy in the back and drive there, show him that notebook and explain everything. Everything. And tell him if he tells dad I will haunt his ass."

"Dean."

Dean smirked at the way Ben protested in a way similar to the way Sammy had on the phone that morning. Little brothers. "It's fine dude. Because you won't need to do any of that. I'll be at that car." He pushed Ben towards one exit of the alley. "Remember face down, neck up and I'll see you in a bit."

"Thank you."

Dean shifted uncomfortably. Screw Ben not being ready for teasing. He hated chick flick moments. "Jeez, don't say that. Winchesters don't do the girly crap. We insult each other to get our manly feelings across."

Ben paused, before, sounding a little uncertain. "See y' pussy?"

Dean laughed. An attack on his manhood and his cat genes in one. "I knew there was more to that handsome face than just the looks. See you at the car, choir boy."

As he ran down the alley, Dean made sure to bring enough attention to himself without making it look deliberate and soon was sure that he had Manticore focused on him rather than Ben. His brother had to be in the clear with the amount of people he had after himself.

Dean leapt up a fire escape and onto the roof, going over it rather than around it and avoiding the blockade that had been set up. It was only when he got to the main road he noticed the traffic had stopped and the area had been cleared and the military presence. He made a break across the road, tackling to armed soldiers, knocking them out and taking one of their guns.

He made his way around the corner, using the gun to take out three, whether with live ammo or tranquilisers he wasn't one hundred percent certain. Taking in two snipers on top of opposite buildings, he aimed, getting a direct shot at one before the other noticed him, lining the gun up again. He pulled the trigger, only for his heart to sink when the gun made that empty noise that told him he was out of ammo. He blurred to the side in time for a shot to hit the floor behind where he had been standing.

Dean swallowed. That had been live ammo. He blurred to avoid the next couple of shots, only to feel a sharp sting in his left side as a shot came from another direction. He swore, pulling the tranquilliser out of his arm. He tried to run but it was too late, the world span and he collapsed to the floor. In moments several Manticore soldiers had him bound and in cuffs.

Soon after the imposing figure of General Lydecker, one of the main heads of Project Manticore and the man in charge of tracking down the twelve escapees, approach him and push his head down, taking in the barcode.

"Four Nine Four," he managed to hear Lydecker say in surprise before darkness took him.


Six Months Later
Seattle
August 1998

"Come on Maxie," Alec asked, bordering on begging as he looked at the dark haired transgenic across their usual table at Crash.

"I think that I said "No" already but do correct me if I'm wrong."

"Just think about what you'll do with all that money."

"All that dirty money you mean?" the brunette asked, turning to her enemy/Manticore breeding partner turned constant annoyance/best friend.

"It's not like we'll doing the part that made it dirty, just relinquishing those that did of it. Hell you could give you share to needy orphans or something. Maybe a charity for cats, our cousins would appreciate it and you'd be like a modern day Robin Hood."

Max shook her head, taking a sip from her drink. "Alec, I said no. Or have you already forgotten what happened with the Metal Heads."

Alec's mouth opened and closed for a moment as he struggled to find an argument. "Oh, please. This isn't anything like that. Besides those guys were freaks."

"You know that doesn't mean anything coming from a guy who just referenced our cat cousins. Besides I don't get involved in that stuff."

"You know that doesn't mean anything coming from a girl who moonlights as a cat burglar," Alec mimicked.

"That's so mature of you. And stop with the cat remarks."

"But you're so feisty. Like a kitty cat. Ow! You just hit me."

"Keep it up and I'll hit you again, jerk."

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

"Alec? Alec! You okay there?" Though Max sounded more annoyed than anything, Alec knew her well enough by now to pick out the hints of concern in her posture when it wasn't in her voice.

"I'm fine. It's nothing. Deja vu or something."

Max nodded. "Whatever. Just quit whatever stupid plans you have. Your money making schemes never work, Monty Cora."

"A guy screws up once and you're going to hold it over his head forever?"

"Metal Heads."

"Twice."

"How about the virus flowing through my veins that will kill Logan the moment I touch him?"

Alec winced. That was a harsh one. Max looked at him with apologetic eyes. She honestly didn't mean to hold it against them, considering he was with Manticore and just out of Psy-ops at the time and that would screw with anybody's mind, literally. She wouldn't even have brought it up if Alec hadn't been planning something so stupid.

"I'm sorry."

"I know."

"Okay," Max said at the moment, "How about this, instead of you screwing over some big mafia type group and earning yourself a death sentence, you and me find some two man theft job."

"Thought you hated working with me."

"Well I wasn't too fond of you at the time. Anyway, I finally got that reply about my acceptance at college and I have to pay for my course some way."

"Still wanting to learn Minoan?"

"When you have Minoan symbols randomly appearing on your skin as some sort of prophecy that's been entered into your genetic code, you tend to want to know what it means."

Alec laughed. Sarcasm was definitely one of Max's fortes. "So when did you get an acceptance."

"Last night in the mail."

"Which one?"

"The University of Rhode island. I think I told you about this one. The course a really in-depth segment about the Minoan Civilisation and there's a man at the local museum who can actually read this stuff and is willing to teach me."

Despite knowing that Max had been planning on this for a while, Alec still felt something catch in his throat. Rhode Island was a long way from Seattle.

"So you're not staying here then."

"No."

"Oh."

There was a moment of awkward silence between them. Awkward silences were new to them. There were angry, sad, understanding, and annoyed silences between the all the time, filling the spaces when they weren't petty arguing but there had never been awkward silences, not even when they first met and Alec introduced himself as Max's breeding partner.

Max cleared her throat and refilled both their cups using the jug of beer on the table. "So have you any idea what you want to do. I mean, Jam Pony isn't exactly a lifelong career choice."

"Maybe I could travel for a bit. Get a nice car. A classic. A -"

"It's not just a Car, Sam. It's a classic. A 1967 Chevrolet Impala."

"Alec?" This time he could hear the concern in the girl's voice, which meant Max was pretty worried about him. He shook his head, trying to clear it. "You sure you're alright?"

"Awe, Maxie. Are worried about me?"

"In your dreams. And no, you're not allowed to respond to that."

"Wasn't gonna."

Max shot him a look.

"Okay I was but it was a good one. Honest."

"You've never been honest in your life."

"Have too. Sometimes." He shot Max a grin and she laughed.

"You know," Max said after a moment, "this feels a little odd sometimes. Being here with you and knowing that, somewhere out there one of my brothers has your face."

It wasn't the fist time that Alec's twin, Max's brother had been mentioned but Alec felt slightly warm as he noticed that it was however the first time she compared Ben to Alec rather than Alec to Ben like before. He didn't feel so much like somebody's replacement. Not that he would admit it out loud.

"I doubt that he has the exact same face, Maxie. I mean perfection is hard enough to accomplish once, let alone twice."

"Egoistic bastard."

"You know you love me."

Max snorted but there was no denial, which with her was pretty much a confirmation. "I should just take you with me when I go to college. It'd be too boring without you." The way Max looked up and met his eyes, holding his gaze he realised that it wasn't just friendly banter but an actual offer.

Alec smiled. "You could smuggle me in in your suitcase."

Max smiled back at him. Hearing the acceptance in his words. "You'd probably be too fat to fit in a suitcase."

"This," Alec replied, pointing at his arm, "his not fat. It's muscle, baby. Pure muscle."

"Say that to the amount of fast-food you eat."

"Pot. Kettle. Not that it matters anyway. I'm simply awesome."

"Modest too."

"Maxie, we don't have to be modest. We're genetically empowered."

"Genetically empowered? You been working on that one or does this stuff just come out of your mouth on its own?"

"A bit of both I guess." Max groaned as her pager began to bleep. "Normal?" he guessed.

"Man's a bastard," she agreed, finishing off her drink and grabbing her things.

"He's not that bad." She shot him a look. "Okay so he is."

"Even his golden boy agrees then."

"I'll see you later."

"Yeh. Catch you later."

She brushed past him on the way out. "Hey Max!"

"What?"

"There's a new horror movie out, 'bout some sort of monster science experiment cooked up by the government gone bad, fancy laughing at it with me?"

Alec held his breath, as he finally crossed that line they had been dancing around. Max paused before nodding, a smile in her eyes. "'kay. See you at seven." Then she was gone.

A quick glance around to make sure no one was looking and Alec broke out in a small (and admittedly dorky) victory dance. He turned around with a comment on his lips only to stop in confusion, wondering who it was he expected to be there and why he felt like an empty space was swallowing him up inside.


One Month Later
Rhode Island
September 1998

The apartment was small but had two bedrooms, a decent sized living area, and most importantly air-conditioning for the summer months. Alec smiled as he dumped his suitcase on the bed in his room and started unpacking, only for Max to slam the bag shut on his hands. She stood hands on hips, slightly pink in the face.

"What was that for?"

"I thought we agreed that this would be my room."

Alec shrugged, a cocky grin on his face. "Well it's not like you won't be spending most of your time in here anyway." That first date had gone well and was soon followed by a second, a third, and countless others. And soon dates led to more.

Max rolled her eyes. "I still called it."

"But I want it."

"Why?"

Alec opened his mouth to comment on how it was bigger and how the window actually let light into the room but the words came out completely different. "It's closer to the door."

There was a moment of silence as he both processed what he said. "This another one of those feelings?" Max asked eventually.

Alec nodded. All the jumbled fragments of memory and strange feelings that he should have been doing something else or had done something else before finally overwhelmed him and he had gone to Max for help. Eventually they figured it was something Manticore had done to him. It wouldn't have been the first time they made one of their soldiers forget something.

"Have the room. Maybe it'll help. Any idea why you want the room closer to the door?"

Alec closed his eyes, trying to draw on the strange feeling again. "So that I can … I can …"

"Don't sweat it, Alec. We'll figure this bitch out."

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

He let out a small cry of frustration. "Why do I keep remembering that? I call someone a bitch and they call me a jerk in reply. What's so important about it?"

"It'll come do you."

"I'm sick of waiting."

"Well there's not much we can do, unless you want to talk to a psychiatrist about how the people who engineered you may have stolen your memories."

"Yeh, that'd go down well," he agreed. "I just need to do something."

"How 'bout dinner. I'm starved."

"Come on Maxie. I don't cook. Tinned food is the extent of my culinary skills."

"I guess Manticore failed both of us on that account."

"Please, if Manticore taught us to cook we'd be living off military rations."

"I guess that means we're eating out again."

"At least you can never say I don't take you places."

"Macky D's doesn't count as places."

"I took you to the museum."

A burst of laughter escaped Max before their eyes met and neither of them could stop. They had gone to the museum together, only after hours and leaving with several thousand of pounds worth of artefacts.

"Come on Max, lets leave the packing and go find somewhere to eat around this place. I think we passed a diner somewhere along the way. I smelt pie. Apple pie. I love pie."

A nod was all he needed to wrap his arm around her and lead her out, locking the door behind them.

"And ice-cream. It's kind of hot today."

"Max, it's like the coldest day of the month." However he was concerned. The pink hue in her face that he had thought came from her anger had only worsened and her breathing was slightly heavier. "Max, are you feeling okay?" A hundred thoughts went through his mind at what it could be, seeing as Manticore had

made them immune to just about everything.

"I'm Alec. Just a little … hot." Her eyes widened and she swore and ignored his questions about what was wrong. A second later the wind direction changed and he got a face full of pheromones.

"Oh," Alec murmured in understanding as his eyes dilated. It was rather uncommon for any of the X-series to inherit the genes for heat so it never even crossed his mind that Max had been one of them, especially with how in control and collected she usually was. It took him a second longer to work out why she was so upset about it.

When in heat, the female would loose any control she had, not only that but the pheromones attracted any and all males in the vicinity. He swallowed as he realised what that must have meant for her outside of the safety of Manticore, where she could go into isolation. And with what he knew of Max's time outside of Manticore, living on the streets where there was all sorts of scum …

"Oh Max," he murmured, wrapping an arm around her whilst holding his breath. "It's okay. Lets get you home. Pie can wait."

Max gave a small grateful smile and for the first time in her life she had someone who understood. Not even OC, when she explained what heat was, truly understood. How could she? OC hadn't been made with faulty genes that messed everything up. Alec had.

"Pie can wait," Max agreed.

Alec smiled, taking the door key back out of his pocket. He may love pie but he loved Max more. Besides, the pheromones were getting to him and if he wanted to prove to her that heat-sex could be loving too then it'd be better if they weren't in the middle of the street when they finally lost control.


Two Weeks Later
Rhode Island
September 1998

"No."

"It'll just be for a few months. It's not like you've never gone solo."

"I said no."

Alec shifted, agitated, glancing out the window at the snow instead of looking at his father. His mind drifting back to the promise he made to his mother. He was almost nineteen and had yet to even make a decent start of fulfilling it and he would never be able to do that if he wasn't alone because of the other promise he made to his mother. She had risked everything for him and he wasn't going to let it be in vain.

"Come on dad. I'm eighteen. In just under a month I'll be nineteen. Most guys my age have already left home. It's part of growing up."

"You're not hunting alone."

"You do it all the time."

The man Alec was arguing with looked down at him. He was every bit as imposing as he had been in his childhood and Alec still admired him as much as he had back then. It was because of that he could register his father's shock at the fact that Alec wasn't accepting what his father said as he always did.

"Look, I'm not having any son of mine off out who knows where fighting who knows what on his own." Alec bit his tongue, holding back the comment that he already had a son, Sam and Dean had a brother who had been doing just that for around the last ten years, running from the government who'd do terrible things to him if he were ever caught. Alec couldn't say that though, he'd promised he wouldn't.

"Dad, I have to do this." He stood his ground, until his father broke eye contact first knowing that for the first time his eldest would do what he planned to do despite whatever protests he had.

His father nodded. "If you're going to do this then take the Impala. If you're going to be hunting solo then you have to at least have a reliable car. Your brother and I will have to borrow something off of Bobby."

"You're going?"

The voice, four years younger than his own, interrupted them. Alec spun on his heel, meeting brown eyes.

Alec woke with jolt, the memory the clearest yet. Max stirred at his side at his sudden tenseness, whether he actually woke her or just disturbed her from thoughts he didn't know.

"Alec?"

"I was never with Manticore," he whispered in surprise.

"What?" Max leaned in closer to him, her hand finding his and holding it tightly.

"I … why is it so blurry? I think my mother … she freed me from that place before I was born."

"Was that what you remembered?"

Alec shook his head. "No, I was older. There was snow. I think it was winter. I was arguing."

"With who?"

Alec shut his eyes. The memory was slipping away already. "My father. I wanted to … leave. No. It wasn't that. I had to find something … what did I have to find?" Frustration filled him, the answer was on the tip of his tongue. "It was something no one could know, not even family."

"Manticore?" Max hazarded a guess.

Alec nodded. "What did I have to find? Not something. Someone. A brother, no a twin." A sharp inhale of breath. "Max. I found Ben."

"My Ben?" her voice was small and childlike, like it always was when given hope of finding her brothers and sisters.

Alec nodded. "I think we were in Vegas. I'd been searching for him. I found him and then Manticore found us. They had only recognised Ben, and since we're identical I drew their attention away so he could make his escape. They got me but not him. Oh god Max, I have a family. That happened in January. I've been missing for eight months."

Alec looked down at her, wondering what she was thinking. The hard edges of her face had softened but aside from that he had no clue as to what was going on inside her head.

"I'm so happy for you," she said at last, burying her head on his chest. "You have a real family, waiting out there for you."

Alec would have believed her if it wasn't for the crack in her voice and the fact her could feel the dampness of her tears against his chest. "Hey, Maxie. What's wrong?"

"Don't you get it? You have a family. You have a home. You have to go back."

Alec was sure he didn't have a home. The word brought up memories of motel rooms and a black Chevy Impala. But aside from that, she was right. He did have to go back. He tightened his grip on her and mushy, touchy feely crap came out his mouth. "You know I'll always return, right?"

"But your family," she stressed. Max always put such importance on family. When he first met her that had both annoyed him and made him envy her. Because no matter how broken, ramshackle, and far away her little family was, she still had one. And now he could remember how his made him feel it was no wonder he had been just the slightest bit jealous.

"You're important to me too. Just as important as they are. Besides it's not like I'm going to leave right away, I need to get the rest of my memories in order. There's still things I'm pretty certain I haven't remembered yet. Like for starters, where my family actually is."

Max relaxed slightly in his arms. "Guess that you have a real name then." The way she said it left him the option of not answering. Not that he wouldn't. He wanted Max to know everything about him.

"It's Dean. Dean Winchester."

Max repeated it, sounding the name out on her tongue. "Nope. Doesn't sound right. You'll always be an Alec to me."

Dean was glad of it because the part of him that was Alec was something he had been unable to share with anyone in his life and it was kind of nice sharing it with her.

"So," he remarked after a moment, "if Ben is my twin and your older brother, does that mean I'm screwing my baby sister?"

Max squawked, hitting him over the head and laying into him for even suggesting that.

Dean smiled. All was good.