Mini for a Day
Author's Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal for the Jam Pony Fic Comment-fic meme back in January.
x X X x
Nope," said Alec, arms defiantly crossed. "No way. I am not doing this."
"You're the only one who knows how to play the piano," Max pointed out.
"Oh come on, are you an X5 or not? It'll take me like an hour to teach you." Alec was not pouting. No he was not.
"It has to be a boy," said Max. "I already explained this to you."
"Yeah," said Alec. "And you made it sound like you wanted to set me up as bait for a paedophile."
"Think of the children," said Max. "Do you want one of them to suffer through a traumatic kidnapping and ransom attempt?"
"You'll have to catch me, first," said Alec, taking off.
Later, when he was lying on his bed being injected with the de-aging serum, he wondered two things: why he hadn't thought Max would cheat, and why the transgenics had ever thought it was a good idea to join forces with Manticore's mad scientists.
x x x
"I'm not wearing that," said Alec, throwing the shirt away. He'd put on the teeny-tiny boxer shorts, and the teeny-tiny khaki pants, and the teeny-tiny socks and loafers. But there was no way he was going to wear a t-shirt that said 'I Wuv Hugz'.
Max could admit that the only reason why she'd given him the shirt was to further irritate him. Alec had annoyed her so often over the years that it was only fair she take every opportunity to embarrass him. But now, looking at teeny-tiny Alec, there was nothing she wanted more than to get him into the t-shirt. She was absolutely certain that the resulting adorable-ness level would be enough to win him the competition alone.
The only problem was that Alec, with his big green eyes and his rosy cheeks and his so much blonder, so much softer, floppy hair was already a twelve on the adorable-ness scale. Max couldn't force herself to make him do anything he didn't want to do. She just wanted to see him smile at her and show her those tiny little teeth and those tiny dimpled cheeks. Max wanted to just eat him up and if the very thought that she was behaving like a toothless granny didn't terrify her, nothing would.
It wasn't fair. Max remembered what Ben had looked like at the same age. He was not nearly so cute. Sure, Manticore had made them have regulation buzz cuts and grown up Alec's hairstyle was too much for him now and therefore much too cute. Sure, Ben at that age had spent a lot more time indoors so he had fewer freckles dotting his nose. Sure, Max had been the same age, so she probably didn't really know what cute meant. Sure, Manticore had only fed them just enough to survive so there was no chance of any of them carrying any baby fat. Ben had not been this adorable. Alec had no right to be more so.
"Aw, don't cry," she said, reaching for him to give him a hug. Not quite used to his body yet, Alec couldn't get away before Max was hugging him.
Alec actually had to struggle to push her away. "What the hell, Max? I was not going to cry."
"Of course you weren't," she said, pretending to disbelieve him. "I'll find you another shirt," she said, and left him alone.
Or so Alec thought. The door opened and in came Joshua. Alec craned his neck to look up at the guy. Alec was used to Joshua being bigger than him. But he'd never actually been intimidated by his size before. Dimly Alec remembered the first time he'd realised Joshua was stronger than him, and wondered how many orders of magnitude stronger he was now.
"Hey there, big fella," he said. He did not gulp.
"Hey there, littlest fella," said Joshua with a grin.
Alec forgot to be scared. "This is temporary," he said. "I am still bigger than Max."
Joshua smiled at Alec, and Alec remembered how to be afraid. "Want to go for a ride?" Joshua asked.
Alec figured Joshua was teasing him, since there was no way he was going to be able to get these tiny little legs over his motorcycle.
"Crap!" Alec yelled as Joshua picked him up around his middle and tossed him into the air. Joshua caught him and repeated the process. "Josh! Put me down!"
"Sure?" asked Joshua, switching it up by grabbing Alec's hands and swinging him around, making plane noises.
If Alec weren't an X5, he was pretty sure he would have thrown up by now. "Josh!" And god help him, his tiny scream came out sounding like he was actually enjoying it. He was not four years old. He was not enjoying himself, damnit!
"Joshua!" Mole interrupted. "What are you doing? Put him down."
Alec wasn't sure if it was just that he was a little dizzy, but Mole sounded funny.
There were scaly hands on his arms and the world was blessedly still.
"Mole," said Alec, when he didn't immediately find his feet back on solid ground. "Put me down."
"Sure thing, princess," said Mole, as he did so.
Alec knew why Mole sounded funny. He wasn't talking around a cigar. "Where's your cigar?" asked Alec.
Mole slid the half-smoked cigar from his shirt pocket.
"And why aren't you smoking it?" Alec had a feeling his suspicious glare didn't work so well when he was in this smaller body.
"Didn't want to ruin your delicate lungs," said Mole.
"That's never stopped you before," said Alec.
"You were bigger before."
Max returned with a plain blue button up shirt, defusing what might have turned into the world's weirdest cage fight. It was a little big on Alec, but it was much better than one that declared a love of hugs and incorrect spelling. Alec put it on quickly. "Come on," said Max. "We need to get you registered before the competition."
x x x
The entire operation: winning the music competition and foiling the creepy man's attempt to kidnap him, took Alec less than five hours to complete. Leaving him with nineteen more hours as a child for no good reason, while he waited for the serum to wear off.
"Damn boy," said O.C., after the competition was over. "You sure know how to play that thing."
"I can't believe Max told you I were here," said Alec.
O.C. looked down at him. "Do I know you?" she asked him.
Alec's eyes widened as he realised that Original Cindy hadn't known who he was. That she was simply congratulating the winner of the competition. "No, sorry," he said. "I must have confused you with someone else."
O.C. continued to stare at him suspiciously. "You know, you look a lot like this guy I know. Are you transgenic?"
Alec blinked as a camera flashed in his eyes. No. No one was allowed to take photos of this humiliating moment. Alec was not surprised when he located the paparazzo. It was Sketchy with official press credentials around his neck. "Calvin Theodore," he said. "New World Weekly. Mind if I interview you about your win?"
Alec did mind. He minded a lot. So he did what he did best: he sweet-talked his way out of it. "Stranger!" he shouted, pointing at Sketchy. Then he grabbed the guy's camera and got the hell out of there as fast as he could without blurring.
Where the hell was Max? he wondered as deleted the photo from the camera. She was supposed to be giving him a ride back to Terminal City.
"Finally," said Alec when he spotted Max walking away from the concession stand.
"Hey, don't give me that look," she said.
"What look?" asked Alec with a raise of his eyebrow.
"You look so cute when you do that," she said, as though she couldn't help herself. "Oh come on, Alec, don't pout."
"I am not pouting," said Alec. He was far too manly to pout, regardless of current physiology.
"Here," she said, handing him a bag filled with miscellaneous candy and chocolate. "I got you a snack."
Alec reached for it eagerly, in case Max decided to take it away. He opened the bag and looked inside. "What is this?" he asked, the array of jellies unfamiliar to him.
Max shrugged. "I just got one of everything."
"Can we go now?" asked Alec, through a mouthful of candy. "Too many people have already seen me like this."
"What do you mean?" asked Max, looking at him carefully. "Is that Sketchy's camera?"
"He took a picture of me! I wasn't about to let that go."
"Aw," said Max. "Let me see it."
"Too late," said Alec. "It's gone. Like we should be."
"Fine," said Max. Then she was the one who wasn't pouting.
x x x
The car broke down somewhere between the exhibition centre and Terminal City. It was a junker that was communally owned by the transgenics at T.C. Alec guessed he should have realised that meant no one was actually bothering to maintain it.
"I think it's the radiator," said Alec, leaning against a wheel like a miniature catalogue model while Max peered under the hood. She'd refused to hold him up so that he could take a look and insisted that she could figure it out.
"Need some help there, miss?" some random guy walking down the street asked. Alec couldn't see, since was too damn short, but he'd swear the guy was checking Max out anyway.
"I've got it," she said. "It's the radiator."
"What'd I tell ya?" said Alec.
The stranger stepped over and got a good look at Alec. "Cute kid. Is he yours?" the man asked.
"Yup," said Alec, stepping toward him. "You're being real helpful, mister. What do you want with my mommy?"
Max almost choked, not sure how to react to Alec pretending to be a child. It should have been easy, since he was so adorable, but she didn't know whether to laugh or get angry.
"Well," said the man. "I think I'll find some fluid to put in her radiator."
"No thank you," said Max. "We're fine."
"Are you sure, because I'm sure I've got some back at my place." He actually winked at her.
Was this guy for real? Alec pulled the remainder of the candy from his pocket and settled in to watch the show. Max taking down a guy was always a fun spectator sport. One he rarely enjoyed, as he was often the guy she was taking down. For no good reason.
The guy ran away before Max even laid a finger on him. Pity.
Max shut the hood of the car and locked it up. "Logan's isn't far," she said.
"I'm not letting Logan see me like this," said Alec.
"You're right," said Max, licking her thumb and pressing the spit-covered digit to his cheek. "You're covered in chocolate. That's hardly presentable."
Alec wiped his face off with his shirt, frowning at Max. "I can't believe you just did that."
"Come on, kiddo. We can have ice cream when we get to Logan's."
"Don't call me that," said Alec. "I'm older than you are."
"I bet he's got chocolate syrup and whipped cream," said Max.
"I don't want to know how you know that." Alec made a disgusted face. It was so cute Max didn't resist the urge to pinch his cheeks. Which of course pissed him off even more.
"Let's go," said Max, taking his slightly chubby hand in hers and marching him along.
x x x
Max had actually rung the doorbell. That was Logan's first clue that something strange was going on. He'd been pretty sure that he could have a live-in lover and she would still never ring, or knock, or in any way announce her presence before she made her way inside his apartment. But here she was, standing on his doormat with a smile on her face that was too wide.
"Hey Max," said Logan. "What brings you here?"
"Oh just ignore me, why don't you?" said a small voice. Logan looked down. He hadn't looked down before and now he could see that beside Max was probably the most adorable little boy he'd ever seen. There was a smear of chocolate on his cheek right next to the smattering of freckles over his nose.
"Hey there, little guy," said Logan, flashing his pearly whites.
"I'm not little," said the kid. "I'm tired of people saying that."
"Sorry," said Logan.
"We had a little car trouble," said Max. "I need some radiator fluid and the kid here needs an ice cream sundae."
The kid had a weird expression on his face, like he was trying to smile even though he didn't want to.
"Does the kid have a name?" asked Logan.
"He does," said Max. "But he doesn't want you to know it." Max looked at him conspiratorially. "You already know it."
"Oh," said Logan, eyes widening. He stepped back and let them into his apartment. Mentally, he started going through the list of transgenic children. Most of the ones he could remember were girls. This kid would have to be one of the oldest of the next generation. "Chucky?" he asked. Chucky was the kid of one of the X4s. There weren't many of them, and few people actually thought they were capable of reproducing, but one of them had managed it.
"Chucky moved out last winter," said the kid. "Strike one."
The kid really did look familiar, though. Those eyes in particular made Logan stare. The colour and shape of them were unique, and yet Logan couldn't help thinking he'd seen them before.
The kid made his way to the kitchen as though he'd been there before, then stared up at the freezer as he realised he wouldn't be able to get into it because it was too high.
Logan went over to get the ice cream out. "Chocolate or vanilla?" Logan asked.
"Both, of course." The kid looked at him as though he was an idiot. Logan figured they must have met before and the kid was put out that Logan didn't remember him.
Logan got out two cartons of ice cream, then got chocolate topping and whipped cream out of the fridge. He thought about what else could go in the sundae. Maraschino cherries had gone out with the Pulse and he didn't have any sprinkles or nuts. "Chocolate chips?" he asked.
"Absolutely," said the kid.
Meanwhile, Max had retrieved bowls and spoons and sat down on one of the bar stools at his counter-top. The kid wasn't quite tall enough to manoeuvre himself onto the stool beside her. Logan reached for his armpits and pulled him up onto the seat. "Handsy," said the kid. "We haven't even been on a date yet."
Logan stared. How old was this kid? Who had he been raised by? Alec? "Alec?"
Max and the kid both stared at him.
Logan kept staring at the kid. Those were Alec's eyes. And maybe when he grew up the blond would darken into Alec's colour. "You're Alec's kid?"
The kid frowned, and Max laughed. "He's Alec's something, alright," said Max.
The kid helped himself to ice cream and enough toppings to feed a rhinoceros. But then, Logan didn't know much about transgenic kids. They probably needed to eat a lot to become transgenic adults.
The kid scowled when he realised Logan was staring at him. "I know I'm adorable but you don't need to stare," he said.
"Sorry," said Logan. He stood. "I'll go get that radiator fluid."
x x x
When Logan returned, Max and kid were staring at each other, seemingly involved in some silent battle of wills. Then the kid yawned.
"I told you you were sleepy," said Max with a triumphant smirk on her face.
"It's not even nine o'clock yet," said the kid. "I can't be ti-ired." A yawn broke up the word.
"You can take a nap here if you want," offered Logan. "While Max fixes the car."
"I don't need a nap," said the kid. "And I don't need a baby-sitter, either."
"Never said you did," said Logan.
"Thanks for having us," said Max, taking the radiator fluid from him.
"You're always welcome," said Logan. "And the kid's not so bad."
Max laughed. "Come on, kid," she said, offering him her hand.
He stared at it as though it might bite. "Bye, roller-boy."
Roller-boy? No one called Logan roller-boy anymore. He hadn't used his wheelchair in years. Something wasn't right about this whole situation.
As they made their way toward the door, the kid started lagging behind.
"Hurry up, Alec," said Max in exasperation.
Logan's jaw literally dropped. "Alec?"
"Now look what you did," said the kid, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Bye Logan," said Max, and they left Logan slack-jawed and staring after them.
x x x
Alec was not tired, thank you very much. The only reason why he was lagging behind Max at the moment was because he was checking out her ass. That was the only good thing about being this short. And if she was starting to get a little farther away than he might like, it was only because her legs were temporarily longer than his. That was all. It had nothing to do with him being even the littlest bit fatigued. That was not a yawn that just came out of his mouth. That was just a big gulp of that fresh Seattle air. There was no hint of smog in it at all. How could you think that?
"Alec," Max groaned, and picked Alec up, settling him against her chest. She was surprised he didn't try to fight her off. "You really must be tired," she said.
"Nuh-uh," said Alec, burrowing his head into Max's shoulder. One hand was around Max's neck, balancing them, but the other slipped down to caress her breast. "Mmm."
Max dropped him, but apparently Alec was still strong enough to hold on around her neck with one arm. "You said you weren't tired," she said. "So you can walk." She detached him from her neck, yet somehow he remained clinging to her arm like he was doing a pull-up. "Alec!"
He grinned at her and she melted. There were those adorable dimpled cheeks and those tiny teeth. Max lifted him back up to give him a piggy-back ride instead. When he grabbed her breast again, Max considered blurring back toward the car. Instead, she grabbed the offending hand and squeezed it until he let go.
Somehow they managed to get to the car, and Max told Alec to wait inside. By the time she was finished changing the radiator fluid, Alec was asleep. Thank the Blue Lady.
x x x
When Max parked the car back at Terminal City, Alec woke up as soon as the rumble of the engine cut out. "Max, I'm hungry," he said.
"You just ate an entire carton of ice cream," she said.
"That was hours ago," said Alec.
He was exaggerating. It hadn't taken her that long to top up the radiator fluid.
"Why don't you make your own dinner?" asked Max as they made their way toward Alec's apartment.
"Well," said Alec. "I'm so small and delicate and you wouldn't want me to hurt myself, would you?"
"Here's an idea," said Max. "Why don't you invite Gem over?"
"Gem?" said Alec. "Haven't enough people seen me like this?"
"You know I can't cook nearly as well as she does," said Max.
"But Max, you're the light of my life. How could I even think of dismissing you for someone else?"
"Eve's at Gem's place," said Max. "You could have a playmate."
"The only playmates I'm interested in," said Alec. "Are the Playboy kind."
x x x
Max regretted following Alec to his apartment. Apparently he'd been intending to grill some steaks that night and despite no longer having the capacity to do such, wouldn't think of anything else. Max found herself the willing slave of a chibi-Alec just because he'd smiled at her and she couldn't resist. Alec had some nag or other about everything she did and the second she snapped at him to stop it, he turned big green eyes on her and she forgot how to be mad.
Alec, on the other hand, had the time of his life that night. He'd realised Max was not immune to his boyish charm the way she was when he was when he was bigger. And he was milking it for all he was worth.
He got his way right up until the point where Max decided that it was time for her to go.
"I wasn't tired before, and I'm not tired now," he said.
"Either way," said Max. "I'm leaving. For all that you're pretending you're five years old, I know you're not."
The freckles and the pout were far less effective when Max wasn't looking at him.
x x x
When Alec woke up the next morning, nothing felt right at all. The t-shirt he was wearing was far too loose. It was only after he'd fallen out of bed that he remembered that he was a much smaller person than usual. This put him in a Very Bad Mood. Anyone who knew him would have noticed the capital letters. When Alec was in a Very Bad Mood, alcohol tended to disappear from the vicinity and things were likely to be shattered. But since it was only six-thirty in the morning, Alec decided to be the bigger man and fix himself some coffee.
It was easier said than done, but with the manoeuvring of one of his kitchen chairs, Alec managed to get everything without falling over or burning himself.
Max found him sitting on the counter, drowning in his t-shirt and downing coffee as though it was alcohol. She wasn't sure whether to find it endearing or incredibly disturbing. "Maybe you should slow down a little," she said.
"Why?" asked Alec. "I made it myself. I can damn well drink it myself."
Max now saw that Alec was in a Very Bad Mood. Usually, this would just irritate Max into her own Very Bad Mood, but little Alec looked so sad in his gigantic t-shirt, like the lost Manticorean soul he was trying really hard not to be any more. The problem was, even though she wanted to help, she didn't know how. "Why don't we watch some cartoons, instead?"
"Why? Because I'm a child?"
"No," said Max. "Because you like them." That was usually where she would stop, but his eyes were so big they looked like they were going to fill with tears in a second. "Then let's watch one of your many, many movies full of violence and sex and alcohol."
"I've got a better idea," said Alec. "Let's spar."
"Spar?" said Max, literally looking down on him.
"I just drank a pot full of coffee and I am all of three feet tall," said Alec, raising a hand to make his point. "I need to burn off the energy somehow."
Max didn't know how she could possibly bring herself to attack the little guy, even if only to practise. "Really? You want to go and spar where everyone can see you?"
"We could spar here," he said. "I'm little; I don't take up much space. And you're not that much bigger than me."
She was, but she wasn't about to bring that up. "It's your furniture," she said.
Alec smirked. "And it's your funeral," he said, already psyching himself up for the fight.
He didn't bother to get changed, and all Max did was take off her jacket and her shoes. Her jeans were tight, but flexible. Years of running away from the law and Lydecker had taught Max the value of dressing practically in most situations. She couldn't remember the last time she'd had to play dress up for an Eyes Only mission.
Okay, Max thought to herself. She didn't actually have to fight Alec. He just needed to blow off some steam, so she could just defend against his attacks. She wouldn't actually have to hit him, just wait until he was worn out.
But nothing was ever that easy when Alec was involved. He realised what she was doing about two seconds into the fight, when no one made the first move.
"I'm not the one who wanted this fight," she said. "I'm happy to stand here if that's all you want to do."
He attacked, she defended. And then he kicked her leg hard enough to break it if she'd been an ordinary. Max got pissed, and before Alec had the opportunity to burn off his energy, Max had pinned him to the ground. He really wasn't nearly so graceful in his smaller form. "Had enough?" she asked.
"No." He scowled. "We haven't even started yet."
Max lost count of how many rounds they fought. All she knew was that she was bruised all over, and so was Alec. The bottom dropped out of her stomach when she saw the bruises peppering his arms. She'd stayed away from his face, and he'd done the same (though Max suspected that was merely because he couldn't reach), but if child services was going to come around, they'd have every right to take him away. Except, of course, for the part where he wasn't a child, and she was pretty sure her legs bore more than their fair share of bruises.
x x x
Alec went to take a bath (with the help of the same chair because he realised he kept his shampoo way too high), and while he did that, Max had time for a shower and to order them some pizzas for lunch. They actually delivered to Terminal City now, though even with the bio-hazard zone lifted, no ordinary wanted to spend more than a minute in the place.
Wearing yesterday's clothes, Alec dug into the pizza as though he'd never eaten before in his life. Alec never had the most exceptional table manners, but somehow seeing them when his chin was so close to the table seemed that much worse. Or perhaps it was a coordination issue, because four slices in, Alec reached for his glass of soda and spilled it all over himself.
Alec's first reaction was to take his soaked shirt off, wipe the remaining soda from his chest, then soak up the rest of the spill with the shirt. And the man wondered why he didn't have a long term girlfriend.
"That's a borrowed shirt," said Max. "You have to get it into the laundry before it stains."
"Me?" said Alec. "Why can't you do it? You borrowed the shirt."
"You're the one who made the mess," said Max.
In the end, Alec ended up picking up the shirt, and the remainder of his dirty laundry. He then realised that the remainder of his dirty laundry was actually the entirety of his wardrobe. And he'd thought doing laundry was a chore when he was man-sized. Groaning, he pulled on the only t-shirt that would actually fit him. He used his gigantic bag of laundry to shield his chest.
"Don't even think about it," he said to Max, when he saw her still waiting in his living room.
"What?" she asked with a smile. "I figured you'd need some help putting the laundry in the machine." She'd grabbed Sketchy's camera and turned off the flash and quietly took a couple of pictures while Alec was occupied with carrying a bag of clothing bigger than himself.
"If you really wanted to help you'd be carrying this bag."
"Okay," said Max with a grin, taking the bag from him entirely.
x x x
Alec endured the humiliating journey downstairs to the laundry room with his trademark tolerance. Luckily they only passed two people and one of them was not old enough to realise that Alec was Alec. She smiled a toothless grin at him, and he smiled back, barely. "I love your t-shirt," her mother said.
Alec answered that with a glare.
The laundry room itself was almost full. Had every transgenic in T.C. decided it was laundry day? It was the whispers, more than the staring and outright laughing that got to him. It was as though they didn't think he could hear them. Hello, he was a transgenic, too.
"So," said Dix, a laundry basket full of dry clothes in his arms. "I hear you love hugs."
Alec kicked him. Dix would later say that it was worth it. Having his clean clothes spill across the floor and having to rewash them meant more time spent watching Alec attempt to complete the same task.
"What's the time?" Alec asked Max feeling his insides twist the way his clothes were in the washing machine. His watch had been too big for his newly resized wrist.
"It's one-oh-" Max stared at Alec as he began to change.
He tried to make his way from the room, but his lengthening limbs and sudden increase in mass simply sent him to the floor between a washer and someone's basket. His pants tore and his shoes popped off. The t-shirt remained stretched around his chest, though his shoulders had burst the sleeves. It still proudly proclaimed that he loved hugs and improper spelling.
"Never speak of this again," said Alec, using the shreds of his small clothes to protect his modesty. He eyed every transgenic in the room until he or she understood the silent threat. He blurred from the room.
Max didn't have to. The pictures she'd just taken would speak for themselves.
x X X x
A/N: And that's it.