A/N: Thanks for all the wonderful reviews! Sorry this took a bit longer than the last chapter, I had trouble figuring out exactly how I wanted it to go. This is the last chapter of this story and I wanted to let you all know I have had fun playing in the DA world for a while!
Enjoy and please let me know what you think!
Alec glanced around the unused office, unwilling to let his pain prevent him from doing his job. It certainly wasn't an ideal place to plan a defense; there were windows surrounding almost the entire upper portion of the room on the hallway wall and the only cover was in the form of an overturned desk and a bookcase...not exactly the safest place to be in during a fight. Knowing it was the best he had to work with, Alec motioned for Dalton to come over.
Silently climbing over the legs of the Jam Pony workers, Dalton crouched down next to Alec, "Yeah?"
"I need you to get everybody up against that wall," Alec ordered, falling into the role of the leader he had been trained to be. "Tell them all to be quiet and we will get through this. Come back when they are settled."
Alec checked the clip of his gun while Dalton followed his orders. "Wow, Max," Alec mumbled as he counted three bullets, "I feel so much better now that I have this."
When he glanced up, he noticed that Dalton had gotten everyone in place and was making his way back over.
"Okay," Alec said softly as Dalton got back down. "You're X6 right? How good are you with guns?"
Dalton let out a small, self-satisfied grin, "Best in my unit."
"Good," Alec replied, thankful that something was finally going in their favor. Flipping the gun around, he handed it to Dalton butt first. "Take cover behind the desk, if anyone makes it passed me, take them out."
Dalton fought the urge to confirm with a 'yes, sir!' and settled for nodding. But it didn't take long for his thoughts to catch up with his instinct to obey orders. "But, what about you?"
"Just be ready," Alec told him, ignoring the X6's question.
He couldn't let it drop though, "Alec, you should have the gun."
"I'll be fine," Alec assured him. "Now, get into position and keep quiet."
The air was heavy. Suffocating like a blanket of humidity on a hot summer's night. It felt wrong to even breathe in the silence that permeated the room.
Alec took the time to stretch out his muscles the best he could, preparing himself in case they (whoever they were) made it in. He was mid-stretch when he could tell that the building had been breached; the hairs on the back of his neck rose and every fight instinct in his body fired to life. He forced himself to take deep, quiet breaths. A soldier who held his breath before attacking was a slow soldier. His muscles needed oxygen, freezing would not help anyone and as he glanced over at the nine or so remaining Jam Pony workers, he knew that he wanted to get them out alive, no matter the cost.
Using his transgenic hearing, Alec heard the whisper-soft footfalls of the enemy; so quiet they would have gone unnoticed if he hadn't been waiting for it. He sent a hand signal to Dalton, informing him of the arrival, just in case he missed it.
He counted to eight before the sounds of a fight broke out. Every instinct in his body urged him to join the fight, told him to ignore his aching body. He wanted to be out there, needed to be out there protecting his friends. But, he had his orders, knew his friends in here needed his protection. That didn't stop his body from getting the surge of adrenaline that accompanied a fight. As the adrenaline coursed through his body, Alec felt some of the pain disappear. He knew it wasn't gone, he was still injured and he would feel worse come tomorrow, but for now it would do. And, even though the pain was in the background now, Alec remained in his spot on the ground, in plain sight of the door.
Smashes and grunts, yells and punches...the sound effects of the fight made their way into the office. With every noise, the Jam Pony workers would flinch, some even letting out small gasps or stifled yells., quieting when Gem hushed them or sent a glare their way.
All of the transgenics in the office could tell that the fight was leaning towards one faction, but they couldn't figure out which side was coming out on top. They didn't need to wait for long because no longer trying to be sneaky, Alec clearly heard the loud clomp of boot-clad feet making their way down the small hallway.
Alec was prepared to see the face of an unknown soldier come around the corner. However, the soldier was not prepared to see Alec sitting on the ground in front of him, completely weaponless.
"Well, 494," the soldier drawled, "this is a pleasant surprise. I thought you were already dead. However, killing you is going to be fun."
"I'm glad I can provide some entertainment. Although, I really think you should consider changing your meaning of fun. I mean, you could go to a bar, get a hooker, better yet, go to a strip club and have both." Alec informed with a light smile, the dangerous glint in his eyes giving his true nature away. He didn't show it, but it was unnerving that the soldier was comfortable enough with how the fight was going to stand around and make small talk. "Listen, I don't want to hurt you, you should really consider walking back on out of here."
The soldier bit out a laugh, "They said you were a talker. I would have thought a man like you would have his own best-interests in mind, but here you are, about to die for some pathetic bike messengers," the soldier sounded disgusted as he walked into the room.
"Friends," Alec correct firmly, watching for his best chance. "I'm here because they are my friends."
Larry, Alec's nickname for the soldier, scoffed, "They hate you. You will never be their friend." He was about four feet from Alec and had leveled his gun on him when Gem's baby let out a whimper, causing just a second of distraction...more than enough for Alec.
Alec didn't hesitate as he swept his leg around, knocking Larry onto the ground. Lunging forward, Alec swung a tightly clenched first at the soldier, feeling a sense of satisfaction as it met his face with a sickening crunch. Blood began pouring from Larry's nose, but he was not some shmuck in a bar fight, he was a well-trained soldier and he brought up his knee and rammed it into Alec's ribs.
Alec grunted as his momentum from his punch was used against him and he was knocked to the ground.
Dalton gripped the gun tighter, wanting to end the fight, but unable to get a clean shot. Meanwhile, Sketchy scrambled out of the way as Alec rolled through the fall and pulled Larry underneath him. He slammed another fist into his face and lifted his head up, only to slam it back into the ground.
Alec was about to knock Larry unconscious when the loud bang of a gun stopped him. As his head whipped around, Alec saw a new soldier charging towards a startled looking Dalton. The new soldier's nickname? Worm-food.
Dalton scrambled to aim the gun again. His first shot had missed the newcomer by a mile. Shooting a moving person was far different than anything he had done at Manticore. The adrenaline, the fear...it had made his aim off. He couldn't think as the soldier rushed him, but he didn't have to worry about him because suddenly the soldier was tackled off course in a blur of bodies.
Once Alec noticed the trouble the kid was in, he quickly abandoned his mission to beat Larry into unconsciousness, shoved him to the ground, and ran headlong into Worm-food. He took no heed of his own state, just focused on keeping the soldier away from the young X6. The tangled duo crashed into the opposite walls and with a splintering sound, cracked some of the wooden panels.
After the tackle, Worm-food got the upper-hand first and began to repeatedly slam his fist into Alec's face. Blindly fumbling around, Alec's fingers searched until they found a loose board. Swinging it, Alec caught Worm-food upside the head and pushed him off. Before he had the chance to push his advantage, a blinding pain shot through his arm.
Worm-food was gripping Alec's shoulder tightly, his thumb digging into the still open bullet wound.
"Ah!" Alec involuntarily cried out as the thumb went passed Dalton's earlier bandage.
Speaking of Dalton, the boy was still frozen. He couldn't remember what to do. He was still in training when Manticore was taken down, he'd never been field tested before, and he was entirely out of his depth.
Teeth grinding together, Alec focused on prying Worm-food's hand away. Once he got it far enough off of him, Alec pulled his legs to his chest and kicked the soldier off of him.
"Dalton!" He shouted, trying to catch the attention of the X6. "Gun!"
Dalton shook his head to clear it and wordlessly tossed the weapon to Alec.
Unlike Dalton, Alec wasn't going to hesitate to pull the trigger. It took him less than a second to aim the gun at Worm-food when a shout stopped him.
"494! I wouldn't do that if I were you!" Larry had gotten up from the ground while Alec had been preoccupied with Worm-food. Alec immediately adjusted his aim to Larry.
"I think you should probably drop that," Larry suggested, pressing his gun against the side of O.C.'s head. "Drop it and we'll just kill you. We'll leave them alive."
"Now, why don't I believe you?" Alec questioned, his gun not wavering.
"Doesn't matter if you believe me or not," Larry told him, the sounds of the fighting still echoing down the hallway. "Put it down or I decorate the walls with her brain."
Alec blinked, aware that Worm-food was getting back to his feet. "She isn't involved in this, let her go," he negotiated.
"She's your friend," Larry mocked, pressing the gun tighter against her head. "You made her involved. Now, put down the gun!"
Alec bit the inside of his cheek in anger, knowing he didn't have very many options and that these soldiers would not hesitate to kill civilians. Sighing, Alec began to lower his gun, waiting until a smirk appeared on Larry's face before suddenly throwing his gun at Larry with a, "think fast!"
Surprised by the sudden move, Larry didn't react fast enough as Alec blurred towards him and simultaneously yanked Larry into an arm-bar and pushed O.C. out of the line of fire. Spinning him around, Alec held onto Larry's body as it was peppered with bullets from Worm-food's gun.
The moment after Larry's body jerked with the last bullet, Worm-food dropped to the ground, a bullet hole between his eyes, before he really registered that he had just shot his brother in arms.
Silence. After all the symphony of noises that had been going on for the past five minutes, there was nothing. Nothing, but the sound of Alec letting Larry's body drop to the ground. "O.C.? Dalton? You guys good?" Alec asked, his eyes scanning for any threats.
Both of them nodded, and then realized he wasn't looking at them and chimed in with, "Yeah" and "Uh huh."
Meanwhile, Normal blinked in confusion. Theoretically, he knew that Alec was a soldier, knew he was a fighter. Hell, he had seen him fight in the ring at least a dozen times. He had been talking for months about how transgenics were dangerous, how Manticore had trained them to be weapons. But this...this calculated machine, that he hadn't been counting on. However, as Alec used the first soldier as a human shield, only to rip the gun he had threatened Original Cindy with out of his hands and calmly send a single bullet through the second soldier's head, Normal was forced to honestly face what Alec was, what they all were.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Alec could feel them all staring at him, judging him for what he just did. Did he regret it? Well, he regretted that it had to happen, but if he had to do it over again, the only thing he would change would be to kill Larry sooner. No one threatened his friends. But, at the moment, he had more important matters, like the fight that was going on outside of the room.
The noise hadn't just stopped in the office, it had stopped everywhere, with no indication about who had won. Judging by the fact that a bunch of soldiers hadn't burst in and shot up the place, Alec was betting on a win for his team, but he didn't want to be mistaken. So, when a body suddenly appeared in the doorway, Larry's former gun was instantly trained on it.
"Alec, it's me," Max's voice immediately called out.
Alec lowered the weapon as Max stepped into the room. "We won?" He asked, even though he knew the answer.
"Yeah," Max informed him as Mole, Joshua and CeCe joined them. "We still have to get out of here, but I have an idea."
"Good," Alec nodded. "That's good."
"Okay, so the plan is..." Max began, but was interrupted.
"Uh...Max...I think I need to sit down," Alec informed her, halfway to the ground before she slowed his descent.
"Alec?" Max questioned worriedly as she made sure he could sit up on his own, her hand staying on his back for a second longer than was probably necessary.
"I'm fine," he breathed out. Now that the fighting was done, his body had seen no need for that whole standing business, but he didn't think he was going to pass out any time soon. "I just like the view from down here better."
"Geez, Princess," Mole taunted, "Can't keep you on your feet for ten minutes these days. What do you expect us to do, carry you?"
"I'd rather sit around here and wait for White than be in your arms, Mole," Alec replied with a shudder.
"We should leave," Joshua reminded them.
"Yeah, Big Fella, I know," Max assured him. "So, here's my plan."
"Okay, seriously!?" Max could clearly hear the indignation in Alec's voice. As she glanced over to see what had caused it, she couldn't help the slight chuckled that escaped.
"This isn't funny!" Alec claimed as he struggled against Joshua's hold on him. "Joshua, put me down!"
"Alec needs rest," Joshua argued, not releasing his hold on the squirming X5.
"Alec needs you to put him down," Alec countered. "I can walk just fine."
Max wasn't so sure about that, the police had just vacated Terminal City. Her plan to get them out of Jam Pony had required Alec to get himself down to the vehicles, a feat which he barely managed. She didn't know if he would be able to make it all the way to the Terminal City's command center on his own. However, she could empathize with Alec at the moment; he had spent the previous night in the clutches of seizures, he had been put at the kid's table during the big fight, he had been unable to remain standing once the fight was done, and now he had Joshua carrying him around like he was completely incapacitated. It was too many blows to his pride and to his armor than he could take in a twenty-four hour period.
"Hey, Big Fella, set him down, he'll be alright," Max told the large transhuman.
"But," Joshua started.
"I'll make sure he gets up there and gets looked at by one of the doctors," Max promised. Terminal City had become a large hodgepodge of former Manticorians. Thankfully, some of them had worked in the medical division. She had a feeling that they were going to need them even more now.
Alec nearly sighed in relief as Joshua set him down. When his feet touched the ground, Alec forced himself to remain upright, not wanting to give Josh any more ideas about carrying him around.
"Max and Alec good?" Joshua asked them.
"Yeah, we're good, Big Fella," Max answered for them, afraid that in his agitated state, Alec would say something rude. "Why don't you head on up and we will be there soon."
Joshua glanced between the two of them, finally turning around when he was sure that they would be okay.
Once Joshua turned the corner, Max and Alec were alone. Max snuck a peek over at Alec, trying to judge how he was doing, knowing that she would get nothing but, "I'm fine" out of him. He was pale and a little shaky, but considering everything, he looked like he was doing better than most would be.
"Come on," Max said briskly, "let's get you settled before you fall asleep here."
"I dunno," Alec joked, "doesn't look half bad, I'm sure I've slept in worse places."
Max's lips involuntarily quirked before she remembered to tighten them. "Any day now," she motioned in front of her for Alec to start walking.
Alec rolled his eyes as Max almost let her guard down, but slammed the door shut at the last moment. He was not the best at letting people in, he knew that. However, the quips and humor...they weren't all a mask, they were also a part of his personality. Max on the other hand, could rival a top secret military base for how much information she let slip about herself. "Yes, ma'am."
They made it about one block before Alec began to slow down. His breathing becoming shallower, his movements looking more like he had just left a bar. Finally, after a block and a half, he leaned against the wall of an old pharmacy and shook his head miserably. "Go on without me, I am just going to curl up and die here."
"You're not going to die," Max said in exasperation. "I'm not that lucky."
It was a joke...a tasteless joke, but a joke nonetheless. They both knew that Max had thrown it out there because she was always saying stuff like that. This time though, Alec didn't counter it with one of his own, but just tilted his head to the side and examined her.
For a solid thirty seconds, neither spoke. Max shifted under the scrutiny that was coming from Alec and was relieved when he finally spoke...well, she thought she was going to be relieved. "You almost were," he said softly.
He was planning on judging her reaction, seeing what she thought about the fact that he really did come close to kicking the bucket...and then he chickened out. "Just think of it, Maxie," he said, pushing himself off of the wall and starting to walk down the street again, "a world without Alec. Bet it sounds wonderful, huh?"
Emotionally stunted, Alec thought. Good ol'Manticore. An army of super soldiers who couldn't handle the day to day emotions of ordinary humans. An army who hid behind sharp barbs and innuendos, carefully selected words and faked derision.
"Sounds quiet," Max gave as her answer.
Alec made it another half a block before he stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk. He was expecting to face-plant it when he was caught around the middle by Max's deceptively strong arms. "Thanks," he told her, thinking she would move away now that he wasn't falling over. She surprised him when she directed his right arm around her shoulders and kept her left wrapped around his waist.
"I'm tired of catching you, this is just easier," she explained and began walking again.
Nodding his understanding, Alec tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and not on the fact that Max was once again willingly touching him. It was odd...not unpleasant, just odd.
As they neared the command center, Max broke the fairly comfortable silence that had grown between them. "I think it would probably be too quiet."
Not wanting to give Alec a chance to question her further on what she meant, Max slid out from underneath his arm, made sure he was standing on his own and then flew into the command center, leaving Alec to make his own way in.
Alec stared blankly at the door that Max had just disappeared behind before his lips quirked upward. "She'd totally miss me," he gleefully revealed to thin air.
As he made his way to see one of the medical staff, Alec couldn't stop the weird feeling in the pit of his stomach, the one that made him want to just keep smiling like an insane person. He knew that Max was still Max and he was still Alec...but he couldn't help thinking that something had changed in the past twenty-four hours, something that felt right.
"Monsters? No, no more than you and me," Normal answered the reporter honestly. When he had realized that he needed to face what Alec and the others were, he knew that the answer had been clear all along. They were people, friends, family, coworkers...some were good, some were bad, some had an incredibly large moral grey area. But, wasn't that the same for full-blooded humans? It wasn't their fault they were born the way they were; they had no choice in the matter. However, their decisions afterwards, those were the important things. They had to fight against years of training, brainwashing, and god knows what else. Alec, Max, and all the others like them had shown, at least to him, that having a barcode didn't make them evil, it made it that much more special when they truly put themselves out there to care.
...And god protect you if you threaten someone they care about.