A/N: Well, here it is! Sorry this update was so long in coming - I've been busy posting my enormous Supernatural Dean/Cas fic over the last couple of days.
Thank you again to absolutely everyone who read and reviewed, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how much I appreciate it! There's nothing better for a writer than to know your work is enjoyed =]
Also, if there's anything you guys particularly want to see, or any suggestions you have, feel free to leave them in a review or PM me. I'm totally open to ideas!
Max ran. Feet slapping against the ground, heart pumping, blood rushing in her ears, hair whipping against her face; she ran. Across the road and to her motorbike, on it and gone in a second, speeding away, leaving only the sound of an engine in her wake.
She had been at Manticore for ten years, nothing compared to how long some had been trapped there, but that had been plenty enough time for them to drill into her their most basic rules: don't die, don't get caught, don't break under pressure, don't disobey orders, don't abandon the mission. You never abandoned the mission. You put it before everything else; even if the entire rest of your unit was dead, you picked yourself up, made your way through the wreckage, and continued, until either the mission was complete or you were killed. The mission was everything.
Her mission right now was to save Logan.
Save Logan, save Logan, save Logan. He'd die without her. He had to come first.
She couldn't have stayed, anyway. She couldn't have fought that big X5. There was no way she could go up against a combat model - even if he hadn't had ten years' training on her, and even though she wasn't exactly shabby herself, the 700s were mean fighting machines, big, imposing, strongly muscled, and well-versed in just about every form of hand-to-hand combat known to man.
With Alec's help, she might have stood a chance. But right now Alec was in no position to be helping anyone.
She swerved, narrowly avoiding a passing car which jammed its horn at her, the sound loud, strident, blaring - and then she hit the throttle again, bombing down the road. She needed speed. She needed to get away from that apartment as quickly as possible, but, more than that, she needed to get to the hospital, find Sam Carr, find Logan. She needed to do something, but until then, she needed speed, because although her favorite place to think was high up on the Needle, the next best place was going too fast to be safe on her motorbike.
Alec used to race her. Dammit, he was such a pain. Quite apart from the fact that he was a cocky, narcissistic, rude, smart-aleck of a tomcat, he was a trouble magnet to boot. She was always the one having to save his ass, always having to swoop in and help him, and this was no different. Except this time, it wasn't just his life on the line. Logan could die too.
Logan was top priority. He had to be. Alec was X5. He could take care of himself.
That's what she kept telling herself, as she got farther and farther away.
She'd save Logan first. Logan came first. Then she'd go after Alec. It was always saving Alec; it was Logan's turn now. Patient Logan, kind Logan, generous Logan, who always came second and never complained, as opposed to Alec who took the spotlight and ran with it, moaned and groaned and flirted and screwed up and generally just drove her up the damn wall. All the damn time.
He'd be fine. He'd probably turn up in half an hour with a grin and a tall tale of daring adventure and derring-do.
He'd be fine.
She wasn't abandoning him, not really.
She was going to go back for him.
She just had to sort out Logan first, because Logan couldn'thelp himself. He was stuck, and he would definitely die without her help.
Whereas Alec would be okay. He'd be just fine.
And anyway, it wasn't her job to run after him all the time.
He'd be fine.
She rode the rest of the way to the hospital in silence, alone with her thoughts, focusing everything on her need to see Logan, check he was okay. Everything else would come after. If she thought about everything else now, she might fall apart.
She drove like a demon.
'Where is he?' she asked the moment she arrived, stopping her bike in the middle of the parking lot and springing off the seat, pushing past Dr. Carr in her impatience to find Logan. He was in his usual state of perpetual worry, or maybe she only saw him when he was worried. Either way, she didn't care. Nothing mattered right now apart from saving people.
She rounded on him angrily. 'Where is he?'
Carr held out his hands in a calming gesture, speaking gently, almost as if she was a wild animal. 'Max, I need the cure-'
She threw up her hands in exasperation. 'I don't have it!'
'I don't have it,' she growled. 'Now take me to Logan.' She could try and find him herself, but it would be so easy to get lost in these identical hallways, and the smell of disinfectant masked Logan's scent, and she was a transgenic out of water so if anyone recognized her...
'Max, without the cure-'
'Take me to him!'
Carr shook his head, put his foot down. 'No. I'm sorry, Max, I really am, but you're going to have to just sit tight and wait. He's in intensive care right now, no visitors, and even if he was allowed them, I wouldn't let you in the same room as him. I'm sorry, but it's a risk we just can't afford to take. Just about anything could exacerbate his condition right now, and I don't want him to get any worse because you were too impatient to wait to see him.'
Max swallowed, telling herself to breathe. Logan was okay. For now. But she couldn't see him.
She understood. That was fine. Okay. She could do this. What was she going to do, anyway? Hold his hand and cry? Oh wait no, that would kill him.
She wasn't any use to him here. She'd failed, she didn't have the cure. She didn't have any way to save him.
'Did Alec's blood work?' she asked finally, biting her lip.
The doc sighed. 'It's slowed down the virus, bought us some time - but not long, Max. 48 hours maybe.'
'And when that time runs out?' She didn't need to ask the question, not really. She already knew the answer.
'I don't know. I've never seen anything like this virus before. But I've run a couple of tests, and it seems to me... One those 48 hours are up, his condition will decline drastically and quickly. I'd give him another 4 hours before irreversible damage occurs, 9 hours before he dies. Possibly even less.'
'Well then. I'll just have to find the cure before that time runs out.' She was pleased with how level her voice sounded. It betrayed none of the emotions raging inside her.
He felt like he was floating on a cloud of nothingness, a myriad of different colors blurring beneath his eyelids, dreaming.
He couldn't feel. Feel his... him. Feel him.
Body. Couldn't feel his body.
Heavy eyes, lead lids, weight.
He was awake in a second, breathing coming fast, eyes snapping open, disorientated, dizzy, head full of smoke.
They'd drugged him.
The voice sounded like it came from a very long way away, and Alec frowned in an attempt to see through the shadows.
He felt lethargic, sluggish.
Who was 'they'?
His skull throbbed, his muscles weak. Of course. Half his blood was currently pumping through Logan's veins, trying to keep him alive.
Logan. The cure. Dr Carlson. Manticore.
Ugh. Max was gonna kick his ass.
Although first he had to get out of this.
'So glad you've decided to join the land of the living. I was starting to worry I'd given you too much.'
That was Dr Carlson. Alec shook his head in an attempt to clear it, blinked, and looked around, gauging his surroundings. He was in the back of a car, lying across the seats and with his wrists and ankles cuffed. His head pounded; they must've given him enough sedatives to knock out a rhinoceros.
The car juddered along the road, Dr Carlson's knuckles white on the steering wheel. Alec eyed the door suspiciously. The car was going fast, too fast, but if he could somehow make it out the door, there was a chance he'd survive. He was X5, after all, even if he was admittedly not in his best state. It didn't take a genius to work out that staying in the car was a very bad idea indeed. If he didn't die, he'd sure as hell wish he had by the time they were through with him.
'Don't even think about it, Tiger,' Dr Carlson said, pleasantly enough, but Alec knew she'd give the order to shoot him without batting an eyelid.
So escaping was out of the picture. For now, at least.
'So, what, you're just going to sell me to the highest bidder?' he said, trying a different tactic. If he could get her to talk, then maybe he'd be able to work out what the hell was going on.
'You have an elevated idea of your own worth, soldier,' she replied. 'We're not interested in money.'
We? So she wasn't working alone, then. But he could've worked that out for himself - there's no way an ex-Manticore doctor could pull off a stunt like this without some help. Just getting an X5 alone would have taken some doing.
'How'd you get Cuddles over there?' he asked jerking his chin in the direction of the hulking transgenic in the passenger seat. The guy was nearly doubled over, his knees pulled up high like an adult on a tricycle, and the comedy of the discomfort on the guy's face wasn't lost on Alec, even in his own less-than-ideal situation.
Dr Carlson didn't even move her eyes from the road. 'X5-786 was a gift from a mutual friend of ours.'
Alec cocked an eyebrow. 'Friend, huh? Who, Lydecker? Renfro? Santa Claus?'
Dr Carlson smiled slightly. 'Ahh, I remember now. You use humor when you feel threatened.'
'I read your file. I should know.'
She read his... Why? How could she know so much about him, and he not the first thing about her.
The answer came to him pretty quickly.
She'd been a Manticore doctor. He'd been at Manticore. They had ways of making you forget.
They'd made him forget her, and whatever it was she had done to him. She had worked on him, studied him, hell, maybe even dissected him, and he couldn't even remember her face.
The thought of Manticore and it's cold, sterile, white corridors had always plauged his dreams, a waking nightmare, and the memory of its doctors, of PsyOps, of the horrors held within more than anything. But nothing frightened him as much as this doctor.
He was totally powerless, and the secrets, whatever they were, were locked up in his own brain. Manticore hadn't only owned his body and soul, they'd owned his mind, they'd turned it inside out, changed it, shaped it, moulded it, and plucked out anything they didn't like. He'd never felt so lost in his entire life. Not even when Rachel died. He'd had purpose then; he'd used his anger and hatred and pain, turned it against them.
But now he just felt empty.
A/N: A shorter chapter for today. Again, I'm sorry it took so long coming, but I have a great idea for how I'm going to continue this. It's moving quite slowly right now, which I apologise for, but I do promise it'll speed up. Hopefully the next update will be up soon =]