Chapter Thirty-Eight

"You're looking tired Max."

"I'm fine Alec. Stop fussing. I'm pregnant not invalided," Max snapped. Impatiently she batted him aside her attention already back on the screaming baby she was trying to pacify as she searched the hospital ward for Shane. It was so crowded with injured females, babies and transgenic males that it was a good minute before she could see for certain that he wasn't there.

"Where the hell is Shane anyway," she snapped as she manoeuvred her way out of the room into the crowded hall bordered on both sides by rows of stretchers. The bulky bodies of transgenic soldiers as they hovered over the injured females only added to the crowded chaos.

Alec used his shoulder to plough a path for her through the press of bodies. "His babies mother is Susie, and she's Julia's second. She's in the ICU unit at the end of the hall. Shane was there as well the last time I saw him," Alec said, tuning into the fact that this baby also had Shane's scent. Fuck two of them. That means two females. The poor prick.

Looking down the hall she snorted impatiently. It was so packed with males that she couldn't even see to the end of it. I've got to find Kat. I haven't time for this.

"You take her to him Alec. " He'll have to get better at this she thought with amusement as he made a second attempt to position his hands under the baby in preparation for taking her.

She sighed in frustrated impatience as once again she was jostled from behind. "I've got to try and get some of these females out of the halls." Even as she said it she knew it wasn't feasible. There was really nothing any of them could do to speed up the treatment process. The simple reality was that they just didn't have the medics to cope with this number of injured. Even with Cass's emergency paediatric team there was still a backlog of females and babies waiting to be treated.

"Now that we have control of the facility surely we don't need all these extra soldiers clogging up the halls. Can't you get them out of here Alec?" Fewer bodies would at least make moving around easier.

"No. They're not here to keep ordinary soldiers out. They're here to maintain discipline. Transgenic males aren't big on waiting patiently if their packs are under threat. Every male here thinks his baby and its mother is the highest priority and consequently there is a hellva lot of testosterone being dumped. I don't want males deciding that they've waited long enough and using their alpha rank to do their own prioritising."

The pervasive smell of testosterone was so strong that Max's nose had become desensitised. Looking around her, she suddenly became aware of not just the smell but also the pent up tension in the packed hallway. Just like at the alpha fight.

"How much fucking longer does she have to wait Alec?" Mezo demanded, gesturing at the female on the stretcher he was hovering over.

"She's next in line Mezo." Alec shot back his tone as hard as Mezo's was aggressive as.

She'd never seen calm, likeable Mezo exhibit any form of hostility before and it brought Max's memory back to what Kat had said about Alec being the male alpha because he could and would use the force required to keep them in line.

"I know that. But how fucking long is that going to be then? That's fucking useless." Mezo gestured in disgust at the oozing tourniquet attached to the leg of the battered dark haired female, whose stretcher he was standing over. She's lost too much blood. She doesn't have much time left."

"She's next Mezo," Alec repeated his eyes going to the restless baby nestled in the crook of Mezo's arm. "Has the baby been examined yet?"

"Yeah," Mezo answered his focus on the little girl whose face was now puckering as she started to grizzle. "Shh, shh," he soothed shifting her awkwardly to his shoulder.

"The ordinary female doctor said she's fine. But she still keeps on crying," he added helplessly, as he patted the babies back in an attempt to soothe her.

Max hearing the concern and worry in his voice suddenly felt overwhelmed by the frustrating, absurdness that could leave this baby without a mother simply because they couldn't get her into surgery in time. No wonder Mezo was dumping testosterone. It was also understandable Alec would be worried about having to deal with a horde of aggressive transgenic males, sick of waiting and prepared to fight to decide who was treated next. I sure as hell wouldn't find it easy to wait in line for medical treatment if this was Alec or my baby either.

"If Cass says she's fine then she will be Mezo. She's probably just crying because she's hungry. If you take her along to the hospital Mess one of the uninjured females will feed her."

This was why she needed Kat. At the moment Julia's females were rationing their breast milk so they could feed the babies whose mothers were either dead or injured but that was only a short-term solution. They needed to organise a supplementary milk supply urgently.

"Her names Kathy," Mezo replied absently, his conflicted gaze moving from the now quiet baby to the stretcher holding her mother. "No we'll wait here until she goes into surgery," he decided zeroing in on Dex as he burst out of the doors leading to the OR . Lunging for Dex he hauled him over by his arm.

"She's next," he demanded gesturing at Kathy.

"Get the fuck of me." Dex bit out. Wrenching free of Mezo's grip, his other hand was already manoeuvring Kathy's stretcher towards the OR.

"Take her to the other females in her pack and they'll feed her. There's no point in you standing here blocking traffic when the baby needs to be fed," Max said briskly hoping to move him on.

Mezo didn't react. He stood rooted to the spot absently patting the baby's back his eyes riveted on the OR door that has just swung closed behind Dex and the stretcher.

"Mezo?" Alec's authoritative, straightforward demand for attention brought Mezo's eyes instantly to him. "You'll be taking command for Dale until his baby's off the critical list. Julia has agreed to evacing her females and their babies as soon as they're fit to travel. The children who belong to males still back in TC are going to be air lifted out first. I need you to sort out who they are and start the evac ASAP."

Getting the babies to the units they rightfully belonged to was his number one priority. There wasn't a male in TC who wouldn't know by now what was happening at Quintella. It was imperative to get these babies to the packs they belonged to before the Units took matters into their own hands and decided to come looking for them.

The only way to control transgenic males was to mitigate to alleviate any risk of ever putting them in a situation where they had to choose between discipline or the safety and well being of their packs. He knew he had to have detailed and correct information about every infant they'd found here on its way back to TC before nightfall or else he could kiss goodbye to any semblance of control of TC. The units would be on their way to Quintella by morning regardless of their orders. Their instinct to protect their own always prevailed.

"The return flights can bring back any males who have babies here that can't travel yet," Alec added. It had to be done, he really had no choice, but that was no compensation for the fact that every extra male they bought here would weaken TC's defence at a time they could least afford it.

No matter what the hell Anderson had to say about it there was no way any of these fuckers were walking away from this horror house. All of these fuckers were headed for the same brand of summary justice they'd been dispensing themselves. Unfortunately you couldn't kill this many American soldiers in their home country and not expect to have to explain yourselves. Not unless you were killing transgenic soldiers Alec thought humourlessly.

"Yes Sir," Mezo agreed automatically snapping to attention and interrupting Alec's thoughts.

"I'll need to take her with me, though, Sir," he added gesturing at the baby.

Despite the tension around her the look on Alec's face still sent a flash of amusement through Max.

"Right," Alec agreed for want of anything else he could say.

Mezo turned and started to push his way along the hall, the baby's little features visible above the wide width of his shoulder. Max's eyes followed Alec's as they tracked firstly to the baby he was holding and then slowly down the hall full of his fully kitted out soldiers, many of whom, just like Mezo had their M16's slung over one shoulder and a baby perched on the other.

Shearched her spine and unconsciously started to rub her aching back

"How long have you been on your feet today anyway, Max?" Alec asked sharply. He hadn't meant to snap but his mind had still been half contemplating the decidedly unmilitary appearance of his fighting force when he'd noticed her weary movements

She frowned in grumpy exasperation. "I'm fine Alec. I've told you to stop fussing. I know what I'm doing. When I'm tired I'll sit down." Anyone would think I was a dribbling idiot incapable of looking after myself.

That irritating pain she'd been having for the last couple of hours niggled through her again. She knew they were only the Braxton Hicks contractions she'd read all about in her multitude of pregnancy books. At any other time she would have welcomed them as another sign that the baby's birth was advancing. Right now though, with all that was happening, they were just another annoying physical discomfit that she had neither the time nor the energy for.

"I don't like to leave here when it's like this but I've got to help Tav with something. He hated leaving males who were as tense and stressed as this lot were but he had no choice. His own unit needed him to help extract Steve's child from the rubble of the collapsed building.

"I'll be back in an hour," he continued. Only military personnel are to leave the hospital. I haven't had time to organise a through sweep of every building, so there could still be the odd ordinary renegade still on the loose." Fuck it was pain in the ass trying to get everything done without Steve and Tanner.

Thinking this was his oblique way of telling her not to leave the hospital Max snapped in irritation. "I'm a transgenic too Alec. I'm perfectly capable of looking after myself." The dull ache in her back was getting worse and she didn't have any patience for this over protective shit.

"This is a military operation Max and I've just issued a general order applicable to everyone. I wasn't just talking to you. I'll leave Zab in charge and if there's any trouble Dale's close by in the IC unit as well."

"Whatever Alec. Just make sure you follow your own advice and be careful yourself," she snapped. If anyone needed to be warned not to take risks it was Alec not her.

"Always Max," he replied absently as he turned to go his mind already on getting to Tav and the rest of his Unit.

The ache in her back was a continuing throb now and the last thing she wanted to do was argue. Alec was thorough. If he'd declared the facility safe then she knew there wouldn't be as much as a coach roach left unaccounted for. She'd just seen Kat duck outside and she needed to talk to her about organising the baby supplies they needed until they could get all the babies back to TC.

Fuck it really is worse than having jailers Max thought in irritation as she sidled out of the doorway she'd taken refuge in to avoid Tyler and his patrolling unit. Angrily Max stomped back towards the hospital. Kat had managed to just stroll across the parade ground without any trouble, while Tyler had pulled military rank on her and ordered her back to the hospital. Who the hell did he think he was anyway?

So what if she wasn't wearing her kit. Alec had said they had control of the facility. What the hell was all the fuss about? Let Tyler try being pregnant and see how easy it was carrying the extra weight of a Kevlar as well as a baby. Head down thinking what an arrogant bastard Tyler was she didn't get the scent of ordinary until it was to late.

"Don't move slut or I'll just slice it out of your belly."

His arm around her throat the ordinary pulled her backwards. The knife he was holding against her stomach was digging into her flesh so hard she knew he'd already drawn blood. She could feel his presence behind her. Big. Sizing up where his stomach would be she drove her elbow backwards into his gut and then smashed the flat of her hand downward into his groin as she spun sideways. His grunt of pain was and in her ear as she swung away from the knife.

She'd already scented the other one and knew she was in his path but the momentum of her body kept her moving into the hunk of wood he was swinging. Her jaw exploded with pain and her body hit the concrete. As she lost consciousness her body instinctively curled into a protective foetal hunch.

"Leave her alone Mitch. If we're going to use her as a hostage she has to be able to walk."

"Fucking bitch," Mitch spat in disgust kicking her again. The sound of his boot contacting the sluts back didn't alleviate the pain in his balls but it did afford him some small pleasure.

"Taking a hostage is a fucking stupid idea anyway. Why would anyone care what happened to this trannie slut? I say lets just kill her. Conscious she'll be a fucking liability anyway."

"She won't be much use unless you get out of the fucking way and let me put these restraints on her. Put your gun to her gut in case she wakes up," he hissed as he cautiously snapped the metal restraint around Max's wrist.

Feeling someone yank her arm snapped Max to consciousness. The smooth metallic click of a bullet being chambered was the first thing she registered the second was the cold metal of a gun barrel pressed hard into her belly. That's got to be where the baby's head is. One of the ordinary's tried to yank her leg down. Her eyes locked in panic with the other bastard who was holding the gun on her baby. He'll do it. He's itching to do it. She let the ordinary attach the ankle restraints.

As the one with the gun straightened up she saw his intention to kick her and rolled sideways so his boot connected with her back. The pain was instant and excruciating and it drew her attention to the other pain and the cold wetness she'd just noticed between her legs. NO. I can't loose him now. Not when he's so big, so close to being born. I won't loose him. I fucking won't.

My baby's coming. It's too soon. I've got to get back to the hospital," she said urgently as she tried to roll to her knees the chains in her way.

"Who the fuck cares?" Mitch spat kicking her over onto her side again.

"You better start to fucking care. My baby's father is the Commander here. Help me and you just might get out of here alive. If our baby dies because of you …"

"Why you fucking…"

"Leave her Mitch. We need her for fucks sake." Blocking Mitch's kick with his own foot he grabbed Max by her shirt and hauled her to her feet.

Hunched with the pain and worry for the baby Max fought to stay upright.

"Oh for fuck sake you don't buy that shit do you? These sluts were all artificially impregnated with god knows whose spunk. No one gives a fuck about her or her god-forsaken brat. If we take her to the hospital they'll just kill us.

"No they won't. Not if I tell them you helped me," Max whispered her panic receding as the pain started to subside. Just like the pain of a normal contraction would. I'm not miscarrying I'm in labour. My waters must have broken while I was unconscious. I'm not bleeding

"Oh come on. You know they can't let us go free even if this mouthy slut does belong to someone who gives a fuck about her. You've seen what happened here. These are some serious fuckers. They aren't going to let any of us go."

"They haven't killed everybody."

"They've already killed enough to tell us that they aren't interested in taking any prisoners. Once they've debriefed everybody still alive they'll kill the rest of us as well."

"They're American soldiers why would they kill their own side."

"We outnumbered them fifty to one. You saw how they fought. It ain't fucking natural. They aren't soldiers they're trannies just like this bitch and as far as they're concerned we're the enemy. They're going to kill us alright," he spat. "Its just a question of how many of them we can take with us."

"Well if according to you we're dead anyway, what the hell have we got to loose by using her?"

Grabbing hold of her chains he yanked Max forward. "Come on then lets get you to the hospital."

"Just so's you know bitch," Mitch ground out slamming his shoulder so hard into Max that she staggered. "If your boyfriend don't come through for us then you and baby trannie here are dead meat."

In the grip of another powerful contraction, Max only had the strength to push the gun barrel he'd jabbed into her side away as she righted herself and restricted by the chains continued to shuffle along behind the other ordinary.

Tyler saw them the minute they broke cover into the yard. Falling to a crouch he gestured the rest of his unit to cover. Fuck no. Not Max. Not on my watch.

Distracted with trying to walk and cope with the contraction she was having Max didn't see them but all her senses told her they were there. The contractions were stronger and closer now. If the baby was going to be born six weeks early, to give him the best chance she had to get to Cass quickly. Hurry Alec.

"Clear the channel code red, over," Tyler hissed quietly into his mouthpiece.

"Sit rep, Tyler," " Alec bit back immediately.

"Two armed enemy hostage takers. We all have beads on them but they both have handguns on pregnant hostages stomach. If we take them out there's a good chance they'll kill her and the baby, over."

"ETA under 60 sec, over." He was already blurring to the hospital.

On his feet now shouldering his gun and manoeuvring to keep the fucker who'd just slammed into Max in his sights Tyler broke cover so they could see him. You're dead meat asshole.

"Roger that Alec we're in north west corner of the hospital parade ground. Hostage takers and hostage headed towards us. Hostage is Max, over."

Alec already knew that. The sinking feeling of dread he'd had the minute Tyler had asked for a clean channel had sent him running instinctively for Max. He made it in less than sixty seconds. Slowing to a run so the ordinaries could see him he pelted into the open. Just as he hoped, taken by surprise both ordinaries guns instinctively moved off Max and onto him. The barrage of gunfire from Tyler and his Unit chopped their bodies to pieces spraying blood and flesh over a five-metre radius.

His heart beating so hard he could literally hear an ocean swell of blood roaring in his ears kicking what was left of the ordinary's aside he dropped to his knees beside Max's blood-covered body. It's not Max's blood. It can't be. Their guns weren't on her. None of his soldiers would have hit her. It just wasn't possible. It's not her blood.

"Max," he whispered thickly his hand gently brushing the hair off her blood splattered cheek the other hand instinctively traversing her stomach checking to see the baby was alright.

"I'm in labour. Take me to Cass," she panted. The contractions were really close now. She knew she didn't have much time.

"No you're not Max. It's too early." Alec returned idiotically. She was injured there was warm blood on her stomach. But it's not a big enough injury to be causing this much pain. Panic stricken he continued to run his hands over her body searching for the injury he was afraid to find. When they needed me I wasn't fucking here again.

"I'm not injured Alec. I'm in labour. Get these chains of me so I can walk or take me to Cass. Now."

"Not until I know where you're injured. I might make it worse…" he broke off staring at her in wide eyed shock as she shoved his hand between her legs and he felt the cold dampness. Blood was his first thought.

"My waters have broken and I'm in labour," she repeated a lot more patiently than she was feeling.

"Right. We need to get you to the hospital then," he snapped decisively, his head finally catching up with what she'd been trying to tell him. "He's alright then isn't he Max?" he asked as he bent to pick her up. His wide apprehensive eyes locked with hers.

"He's fine Alec. It's just labour. It started before those assholes grabbed me. I just didn't realize it until my waters broke. He's fine," she assured him more forcefully when his eyes never wavered from hers.

Relieved he'd finally got a grip on what was happening she put her arm around his neck and settled back against his chest. Her baby was coming. Soon she'd be able to hold him. It was finally happening.


Five Hours Later

"Are you sure its alright to do this now that your waters have broken?" Alec asked as he hovered in the doorway of the bathroom.

Sighing Max rolled her eyes. He'd already asked her the same thing twice. If he'd had his way she'd be lying flat on her back like a beached whale.

Her contractions had stopped and she was definitely taking the opportunity to get properly clean. Who knows how soon she'd get the chance again.

"Positive Alec. You heard what Cass said. Just go about my normal business and the labour will start again when the baby's ready. Its better like this anyway. It gives Cass a chance to finish up all the emergency surgery as well as have a rest. Labour can take a long time once it starts. I could do with a bit of a rest as well. He's a very considerate baby," she added smiling as she rubbed her stomach.

Now she knew she was finally in labour, the urgent impatience she'd felt the whole time she'd been pregnant had disappeared. In its place was a patient calmness. The baby's vitals were all stable and he was in good shape. He'd just decided he was coming early, evidently, not an uncommon occurrence for transgenic babies. She was in no hurry. When he was ready she'd be ready. In the meantime she was going to savour this breathing space.

"I'll do it Max," he said when she bent awkwardly to turn off the taps. Sitting down on the side of the bath he tested the warmth of the water. "It does feel good."

Max smiled at his wistful expression. "You can get in with me."

"What? Would that be hygienic, now your waters have broken," he asked doubtfully.

"Yes Alec. Far more hygienic than having you swanning around the labour room covered in soot and dirt. You can hardly help with the birth if you're filthy. Cass said for us both to relax and enjoy the respite. What better way to do it than in the bath."

"Has it started again?" he asked jumping to his feet when she grimaced in pain.

"No it's just my back. The labour pains made me forget it hurts as well," gingerly she pulled her tee shirt over her head.

"I'll rub it for you," he offered thinking she was referring to the ache carrying the baby's weight sometimes gave her in her lower back.

"What the fuck!" Grabbing her arm as she tried to twist out of his sight he turned her around again.

The black haze of rage he felt when he saw the mass of purple and blue bruises on her back was blinding. None of these fuckers are leaving here alive.

She turned back around and he looked at her slight frame and the huge bulge that was his son. They both looked so vulnerable. He didn't realize there were tears on his face until she brushed his cheek with her fingers. He'd felt bad enough when Cass had put the dressing on the cut those fuckers had made on her stomach. But this…

He splayed his hand across her stomach. "Did they…did they?" he tried again, he was so fucking angry he couldn't even ask.

"No they didn't. He wasn't in any danger. They never even got close."

His tortured groan as he sat down on the side of the bath brought her eyes back to his. "They shouldn't have got close to you either," he mumbled. "I should have been there. I…"

"You were there Alec. As soon as you knew you were there," she interrupted. "So were Tyler and his Unit. That's the best thing about being transgenic, there's always going to be someone there. It will be the same when he's born. He won't just have us to protect him he'll have everybody else as well. Being a transgenic baby is safer than being an ordinary baby."

She ignored his bitter derisive snort of laughter. Her hand in his hair she pulled his head back until his eyes were locked with hers.

"It is Alec and we're going to make it even safer. This baby and all the babies we've found here are going to grow up in our own world, a transgenic world. Not an ordinary world. They're going to have our culture and live by our rules. They're going to be as safe in their wider environments as they are in their packs."

Intently he scanned her face. It was as if she'd reached into his heart and pulled out everything he'd ever dreamed of for his own kind.

"Not in Seattle they won't be."

"No," she agreed holding his gaze. "It won't be in Seattle."

Pulling her into him his chin on her shoulder, content to let it lie he smiled quietly to himself. He had Max and before the night was out he would have his son. That itself was more reward than he'd ever imagined life held for him. Moreover she'd just told him she was prepared to leave Seattle. In front of him stretched the golden possibility of the dream he'd shared with Tav since they were children. Their own safe world where their instincts dictated everything just like it was supposed to be for them.

"Get your gear off before the water gets cold," she giggled pushing his filthy tee-shirt up his body and tickling his ribs at the same time.

Max leaned deliciously back against his solid chest. She was so relaxed she didn't have the strength to get out of the water. I could just go to sleep here.

"Max the waters getting cold. Its time to get out," Alec whispered softly against her neck as he leaned forward and hooked the plug free.

"Hmm," she agreed not moving.

Sometimes he can read my mind Max thought as he stood her on her feet just long enough to wrap her in a towel before he picked her up and carried her to the bed.

Patiently she sat between his legs as he inexpertly dried her hair.

"It's dry enough Alec," she yawned climbing over his thigh to lie down.

Sighing contentedly she settled back against him and was almost instantly asleep.

Alec lay behind her his hand gently stoking the round the swell of the baby. When he'd first got them back to the hospital Max had still been in labour. When Cass's nurse had rigged her up to the foetal monitor it had registered alarmingly high. He knew it was because the baby had sensed Max's distress. He could only hope that babies couldn't detect pain like they could sense their mother's stress.

I could have lost him today. Lost both of them. His face grim he moved her closer into the curve of his body. They were never going to be that vulnerable again. Whatever he had to do to keep them safe he'd do it. No ordinary was ever going to be in a position to endanger either of them ever again. Once again he felt a surge of rage when he thought about the ugly painful bruises on Max's back. The gutless bastards.

It didn't matter how much protection he put in place around them as long as they lived in an ordinary world they would always be at risk. There would always be some honourless ordinary low life who considered transgenic women and children fair game. He wanted his son and every other transgenic baby to be raised safely without fear. That was never going to happen in Seattle. The only way to provide a safe environment for their children was to build their own world free of ordinary influence and control.


Max awoke to pain and with it came the momentary fear and panic of believing she was back in Manticore.

"Its okay Max," Alec said soothingly from behind her. He'd been awake for hours his mind occupied with his plans for the future.

"Have the pains started again?"

"Yeah, not badly though," she added hastily when he started to get up. "Its to early to go to the hospital yet. They have to be stronger and more frequent than this," she added her hand going to his leg to keep him there.

"I'd rather go now just in case something goes wrong." Hurriedly he got up and started to pull his pants on. "It'll be safer to wait there," he repeated anxiously scanning her face for signs of increased discomfit. Since her labour had started their roles seem to have been reversed. Where previously he'd been relaxed and willing to let things take their course, he now couldn't wait for it to be over. Watching her in pain and not being able to do anything to help had proved to be a lot harder than he'd anticipated.

Resigned Max sat up and started to get dressed. It was far too early to go anywhere yet. She just wanted to stay here in the quiet with him and wait it out. However since he'd been like a cat on hot bricks before her pains had stopped, it was probably going to be less stressful for the both of them if they waited at the hospital. She wanted to see how her females whose mates had found babies at Quintella were coping anyway.


"How many centimetres now," Alec asked the ordinary nurse again.

In the grip of another powerful contraction Max didn't find it irritating like she had the other four times he'd asked within the last half an hour. The pain was strong and almost continuous now. Surely I must be dilated enough.

"Six centimetres I think it's time to get Cass," the ordinary nurse said to Max's relief.

"Not long now Maxie." Alec stroked her hair off her damp temple with the thumb of the hand he had curved around her head. "Soon you'll be able to hold him," he reassured her again. He hated the powerlessness of not being able to do anything but whisper meaningless assurances.

Racked with another nauseating wave of excruciating pain all she had the strength for was to breathe through the contraction. Oh god this is worse than all the times I've been shot or injured put together.

"That's it just keep breathing like that. You're doing really well. There can't be long to go now." He'd been telling her the same thing for the last five hours and he was starting to hear the desperation in his own voice. He'd thought that after all the books he'd read that he was prepared for this but the reality was so much more harrowing than he could ever have anticipated. She'd been in what seemed like continuous pain for nearly five hours and despite his angry demands for her to get Cass the ordinary nurse had kept insisting it was still to early.

The already crushing grip Max had on his hand tightened and she moaned softly as an exhausted looking Cass came through the door.

"Where the hell have you been?" Alec snapped completely disregarding that for the last twenty-four hours she'd been occupied with non-stop surgery to clear the backlog of injured.

Well used to him now Cass just ignored him. "Hey Max," she said as she checked the foetal monitor. "Everything's fine. His vitals are good and he's engaged in the proper position. You're doing great," she continued peering between Max's legs to check her level of dilation

"She's not getting any time to recover between contractions now. The pain is so bad it's making her sick. You're going to have to give her something for it." Because his anxious eyes had never left her face he already knew Max didn't want that even before she squeezed his hand in impatient rejection.

"A little pain killer won't hurt the baby and it will help you…" he trailed of when the angry shake of her head turned into a moan as another contraction peaked.

"Help her up Alec?" Cass asked her hand already under Max's elbow as she assisted her to sit up. "She'll be better off upright from now on. Gravity will assist both the baby and dilation."

"Fuck off," Max panted pushing Cass off her as she tried to lie back down again as another wave of pain hit her.

"No Max." One hand on her arm and the other around her waist, taking advantage of her inability to do anything but ride out the contraction Alec lifted her onto her knees until she was kneeling on the bed. Guiding her unresisting arms around his neck he positioned himself until he was supporting most of her weight.

"You're doing well. It won't be long now," he soothed. She'd told him in the early stages of her pregnancy that this position was the one she wanted to give birth in because it was easiest for both mother and baby. If this was the easiest and quickest way then this was the way she was doing it. The quicker the better. She can't take much more of this.

Feeling a lot calmer now he was at least able to do something to help he stroked her spine as she leaned heavily down on his shoulders and panted through another contraction.

"I feel like I want to push," she gasped.

"Not yet. Wait." Cass ordered sharply. "I need to check how dilated you are."

"What the fuck are you doing Cass," Max demanded irritably.

Her cheek was resting on his shoulder and he stroked her hair as he she strain against him. The one disadvantage to this position was that he couldn't see what Cass was doing.

"I'm just checking everything's okay with him before you start to push. We don't want the cord twisted around his neck," Cass replied calmly.

Max bit back the urge to tell her to fuck off. Cass was the best and she knew what she was doing. but who knew it was going to hurt as much as this. Oh god it feels like her hands are fucking inside me.

"Is everything all right?" Alec asked, anxiously peering along Max's back to see what Cass was doing.

"Everything's fine the baby's in position and just itching to be born. It's just a matter of waiting until he's just a bit further along the birth canal before Max can push.

Alec's eyes went to Max's flushed and intent face as she concentrated on getting through another wave of pain. Thank god it'll soon be over.

"I just want to get him out,"Max snapped. Fuck waiting. If my instincts are telling me to push then that's what I should be doing.

When the next overpowering wave of pain hit her Max started to push.

"That's good Max. His head is crowing now. Look?" Cass said as the nurse angled a mirror so that if Max had the strength to look over her shoulder she could see what was happening. She didn't.

Alec watched in fascination. "He's got dark hair Max," he said unable to keep the excitement form his voice as the reality of it suddenly hit him. My son has dark hair. I'm really going to be a father.

"I don't care what colour his hair is. I just want to get him out," Max moaned between pushes.

"There he is," Alec whispered in awe as she felt the baby slide out. Max twisted sideways so she could see what was happening.

"He's all right isn't he?" she asked all her anxiety returning. What if those bastards had injured him when she was unconscious and she just hadn't felt it?

"He's fine." Cass assured them both as she detached the cord.

"Max sat back her avid gaze on the baby as Cass lifted him onto her stomach. Her hand immediately went to the damp little head and her eyes moved from Alec's hand already stroking the baby's still bloody back and up to his face.

Alec's eyes locked with her's. He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. Max knew how he was feeling because she felt the same way. Overcome with emotion she moved under the arm he'd just put around her shoulders and leaned against his chest.

"He's beautiful Max."

"Yeah he is, isn't he," she said the tears streaming down her cheeks. We did it. He's here and he's alive.

Alec's hand instinctively fended Cass's off when she tried to touch the baby again. Max smiled to herself as she moved Alec's hand out of the way so Cass could work.

"I'm just going to check his lungs and nasal passages are clear of fluid," Cass explained. "It won't take a minute. He'll be fine. You'll have him back in no time," she said soothingly.

She was well used to the protectiveness of new mothers. With transgenic parents she was as likely to be dealing with an over protective father as a mother. She certainly had no problems with that. Fathers, who bonded with their children as early and as strongly as transgenic males appeared to, had to be well on their way to being good parents.

Max could feel the tension in the arm Alec had around her shoulders as Cass lifted the baby.

"Be careful," he snapped when the baby made that instinctive frightened grab with his little arms that very young baby's sometimes made when you picked them up. Ignoring him Cass negotiated her way around where he was now hovering over the baby and continued her examination.

"Because he's an early baby we'll keep a close eye on him over the next week, but he's a good weight and everything seems to be fine," she said wrapping him up and handing him back to Max.

Along time after Cass and the nurse had left the room they were both still staring silently at him. It was Alec's turn to hold him and he was sitting behind Max with his chin on her shoulder holding the baby in front of them so they could see him properly. The amazing thing was that he was looking at them with the same curious scrutiny.

"He knows us Max?" Alec said finally into the silence. "It's incredible how alert he is."

"Yeah Max," agreed her eyes fixed on his little face as he continued to gaze with alert interest at them.

He's so beautiful. He's definitely the most beautiful baby I've ever seen.

"He looks like you," she said with conviction.

"Does he?"

"Yeah absolutely," she said with assurance hearing the doubt in his voice.

"His hair's dark and that probably won't change but his eyes will definitely go green as he gets older."

"Right," Alec agreed thinking he liked his blue eyes. In fact he liked everything about him. He has to be the smartest baby I've ever seen. He was less than two hours old and already he knew what was going on around him.

"Do you think he looks hungry? Should I try and feed him yet?"

"It can't hurt to try."

"I love you Alec"

"I love you to Max."

"Everything's going to be all right isn't it?"

She'd never in her life been happier. Nor had she ever felt so sure and positive about the future but she needed to hear he felt the same.

"Yeah everything will be all right," he said as she leaned back against him and settled the baby against her breast."

"After you've fed him. I'll show him to Tav and the others."




I have been writing this story for over a year and it had to end somewhere so this was the last chapter. I really was only joking when I called it the never-ending story although some of you had probably come to doubt that. hee.

I 'd always intended to finish it when the baby was born as the stories original intent was to explore instinct as it pertained to biology and breeding and to have a bit of fun by reversing or extravagating it, which I have done. It really has been more than fun.

Thankyou so much for your stupendous support and encouragement over the time I have been writing this. You all rock.

I have a lot of other material that I have written while trying to finish this chapter. It's about Tav and Steve and I will be positing it at Agora Cradle of our Imagination.

So while HSH has finished I will still be writing about Tanner and Tav and Steve and possible Todd at Agora. Thanks again for your support.