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The fourth continuation story in "The Best Laid Plans" universe. (rated R for language, sexuality) -- author's note
Their romance was the stuff fairy tales are made of, the handsome knight and his beautiful princess. All of the mutants in New Manticore, transhumans and transgenics alike, knew about Max and Alec, their story, the odds they'd overcome to be together, the baby that was on the way. Max might be the heart of their cause, but Alec was the center of her soul. And though it was Max who was their symbol of freedom ... their leader ... it was Alec who was the warrior, the protector, and the one who carried out orders in her name. They were a perfect team, a couple, living proof that the dark past of Manticore could be overcome.
Which is why their very public break-up horrified so many.
"Max, I'm sorry!" Alec pleaded, running after her as she hurried across the main hall. He caught up, grabbed her shoulder, and spun her around. "It's not what you think! You have to let me explain!"
"Oh, you mean explain why you were in bed naked with that whore? Explain why you've been sneaking out here nearly every night to have sex just because I haven't been feeling very well lately. Or maybe it's because I'm getting fat with this baby. You think I'm ugly. Well, you got yourself caught this time, you pig."
"Max, of course you're not ugly," Alec pleaded. "You've got to let me explain. She doesn't mean anything to me. I never meant for this to happen. It's just that--"
Max hit him in the jaw.
"Bitch," he said, his voice suddenly low and dangerous, his mood changing in an instant from contrite to furious. He lashed out at her with his fist, catching her in the shoulder and knocking her into the wall.
"Alec!" Joshua grabbed him by the arms. "That's enough! I think you'd better go now." He started to pull him toward the main door.
"Why should I go?" Alec said, jerking away. He sniffed and wiped his bloody lip on his sleeve. "I've got someplace to be." He looked to the back of the room where a beautiful blonde X5 female was standing. "If Max doesn't want me, there are plenty of others who do."
Max glared, first at him, then at the woman. "We're through," she hissed through clenched teeth. "I don't ever want to see you again. Oh, and in case you're wondering. I don't love you any more." She turned and walked away.
"Been nice fuckin' ya, sweetheart," Alec shouted after her retreating back. "Say 'hi' to Logan for me."
"Alec ..." Joshua said, obviously horrified, but still putting a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Leave me the fuck alone," Alec growled, jerking away. "Just leave me the fuck alone."
He went to Crash and sat alone at the end of the bar, downing Scotch almost as fast as the bartender could refill his glass. After awhile, he ran his hand through his hair, put his head down on his arms, and closed his eyes.
"We're not designed to be monogamous, you know."
Alec didn't need to look to see who the speaker was. Rain was an X5 who'd only recently come into the compound. She'd been living on her own since Manticore went down, but after hearing about the Terminal City uprising had decided to come in and rejoin her brethren. She was petite, with coppery skin and long dark hair. In a way, she looked a bit like Max. Slowly, he turned around.
"No," Alec agreed. "We weren't. I thought I could be a one woman man, but I was wrong. Max should have understood."
Rain slid into the empty seat beside him. "Max didn't understand a lot of things about you."
"Oh really," Alec said, signaling the bartender for another Scotch. "And get the lady a drink, too," he added. He turned to her, giving her his full attention, and said, "Now just what sorts of things might those be?"
She tilted her head playfully, wrapping a strand of hair around her finger, and regarded him with eyes that were almost as green as his. She really was quite beautiful. "Max never understood that you are, and always will be a soldier along with everything that implies. She never understood that you didn't run away from Manticore like she did, that you fulfilled your destiny, doing what you were created to do. She never understood that you're capable of many things she isn't. She never understood the darkness in your soul."
"My, my," Alec said, downing the Scotch. "How profound. I bet you're a poet and didn't know it." He sniffed and leaned toward her. "But you're right about one thing. Max never understood that Manticore is still inside me, and that it always will be. She wanted me to forget all about what I'd really been trained to do, forget the things that made me a man, gave me my dignity, my purpose in life. Max wanted me to be some kind of saint like her precious Logan Cale, using my skills only for what she considered good. Well, I'm not a saint, thank God. Saints are boring. I'm a sinner, and not lookin' to change."
"She's carrying your child," Rain said.
Alec shrugged. "So far as I know, a few other X5's females are too. Hell, most of 'em have probably dropped the kids. Remember that breeding program they had back before Manticore burned? Max was only the last in a long line of bitches."
"You went through a lot to win her, though," Rain said. "Why would you be willing to give her up so easily? Are you sure you aren't making a mistake, Alec?"
"My only mistake was thinkin' I wanted to stay with that whiny little brat," Alec said. "I tried to tell myself I loved her, but it was really just the sex. I wanted her for a long time, and when I had a chance to take her, I did. End of story."
Rain smiled seductively. "You really like the females, don't you, Alec?"
"Heterosexual all the way," he said. "Manticore didn't give me any of that bisexual DNA like they did some of the deep cover X5's. You know, the ones they wanted to be able to fit in anywhere, or should I say fit in anyone."
She laughed in a way that made him shiver, or maybe it was the fact her hand was kneading his thigh. "You know, Alec. I've had my eye on you from the moment I first came in from the cold. You're gorgeous."
"Not so bad yourself," he said.
"But everyone said you were off limits, that you were taken. Now, if Max is really out of your life ..."
"She's gone, baby."
Rain leaned forward. "Come home with me," she whispered in his ear.
Alec didn't need to be asked twice. He downed the last of his Scotch, grabbed her hand, and together they headed for the door.
Her place wasn't far from Crash, in the same row of buildings where Asha's apartment had been. By the time they'd reached the third floor landing he had his shirt off and she was topless. She opened the door with her key, grabbed him by the waistband of his pants, and dragged him inside. He heard a click, and a light came on. "I want to see you," she said, working on the button of his jeans. Her breasts were beautiful, and the feel of them pressing against his naked chest, not to mention what she was doing with her fingers, was affecting him in more ways than one.
He grabbed her busy hands, pulled her to him, and kissed her hard. "Bedroom," he murmured in her ear.
"Floor," Rain said, dragging him down on top of her.
Alec didn't argue. Her hand was down his pants now. He made a little noise in the back of his throat when she touched him. He fondled her breasts again, and once more his mouth sought hers.
Which is when his cell phone rang.
"Don't," she said, when he reached for his pocket. "Ignore it."
"Can't," Alec said, running his tongue down her cheek. "It's a soldier thing. Duty calls."
She pouted as he sat up and pressed receive.
"Now?" he said. "Why does it have to be now? I'm fifty miles away for cryin' out loud. Can't someone else do it?"
He listened some more.
"All right," he said with a big sigh. "I suppose if there's no one else."
He hung up and looked apologetically at Rain. "Gotta go back to the compound. Dix needs the code to upload on the new Manticore communication satellite, and I can't give it to him over the phone -- protocol."
"Doesn't anyone else have it?" Rain said, her disappointment obvious.
"Only Lydecker and I have the whole sequence," Alec said. "And I'm the only one they could get hold of tonight. Sometimes I think this whole damn mutant uprising was a mistake, not to mention this so-called New Manticore. I mean, it's not like there's any money in it, at least not for me."
"I know how you could make a lot of money," Rain said. "Especially since you know that code."
Alec looked at her suspiciously. "What're you talkin' about?"
She looked around the room, almost as if afraid they'd be overheard. "You say you don't care about the New Manticore."
"Not really, but I care a lot about myself and I'm not doin' anything that'll get me killed. And I don't want to see my friends hurt either."
"What if I told you I know a way for you to make a hundred thousand dollars? No one would be hurt. And no one would ever know that you just gave out one itty bitty piece of information."
"The code." Alec said. "Someone wants the code so they can eavesdrop on Manticore."
"The ordinaries are paranoid about Manticore, Alec. They want to know what we're doing. They can't really hurt us. After all, the government has sanctioned the New Manticore. But a lot of people want to keep tabs on us. With that code they could. But it wouldn't really mean anything because they're not the enemy. It's not like Ames White and his Familiars would be learning our secrets."
"Just Uncle Sam and a bunch of politicians," Alec said. "And what harm can they do?"
"And you say you know someone who'll pay me for this?"
"As soon as you deliver." While they talked Rain had finished buttoning her blouse and Alec had retrieved his t-shirt from the landing. "Alec, this time tomorrow you could be on a South Sea island, sipping a pina colada and set for a very long time."
"How about making that we," Alec said, grabbing Rain and pulling her to him for another kiss.
"Mmmm," she said. "No wonder Max kept you around for so long." She nibbled his ear. "I bet you taste real good." She looked up at him, pouting again. "Are you sure we have to go right away? We don't even have time for ..." Her hand was working its way into his pants again.
"Baby," Alec said, grabbing her wayward fingers. "Show me how to get this little job done and I'll let you just lap me up."
"Take me with you back to the compound," Rain said, her teeth now nipping his neck. "We can upload the code from there into the government data base and no one will be the wiser."
One last kiss for good measure, and they headed for where his motorcycle was parked on the first floor.
"Your fearless leader is back," Alec said, announcing his arrival to Dix who was seated at one of the computer terminals.
"Our fearless leader is Max, not you," Dix said.
"Whatever," Alec said, yawning. His arm was around Rain's waist and he was keeping her close. "So move over and let me put in this code you need."
"Just tell me the numbers and I'll do it," Dix said.
Alec smiled tolerantly. "Sorry. You know the rules. Daddy can't give the info to the children."
"Arrogant X5's," Dix muttered under his breath as he slid out of the seat.
"Shoo," Alec said, motioning for him to leave the otherwise empty room. "Don't need you lookin' over my shoulder with those creepy little gray eyes of yours."
When they were alone, he pulled Rain into his lap. Her hips grinding against his groin made it a little bit hard to concentrate. "All right, baby," he said. "Tell me the interface I need to enter, then I'll input our code. Oh, and just where is it I'm supposed to collect all this money tomorrow?"
"I'll get the drop point after the data is complete," she said. She reached for the keyboard and began to type a series of internet addresses and passwords words. It took awhile. The procedure was really quite complex. At last, however, she was done. "Your turn," she said. "Just type in the Manticore code in that box and you've earned yourself your night's pay," she kissed him, "and me."
Alec licked his lips, concentrating on the computer screen. It looked like a standard trap door entry point to what must be a much larger system. Smiling cockily, he said, "This is for you, Max. I'm fuckin' you one last time." And then he was typing in the numbers that would reveal all of New Manticore's secrets. A few seconds later the computer beeped, and the screen changed to show a series of symbols running fast and furious across the background.
"What's that?" Alec asked. "That doesn't look right."
"No," Rain said. "That looks exactly right."
She stood. He swiveled around in the chair and looked up at her. "What do you mean? That isn't government data. That isn't anything I've ever seen before. Except, it looks kind of like that rune language Max had on her skin."
"What's going on?" a new voice said from the shadows of the room.
Rain spun around, a small gun suddenly in her hand. Alec, for the life of him, couldn't figure out where on earth she'd had it stashed. After all, he'd pretty well strip searched her already.
"Max," Rain said, seeming to relish the name. "I'm actually glad you showed up." Alec slowly stood. Rain reached up and ran her hand possessively through his hair, then let her fingers drift lower to touch him. "I've been enjoying your boyfriend."
"Enjoy him all you want," Max said with a big shrug. "I don't give a damn. And he's not my boyfriend. At least not any more." Max looked at Alec. "What are you doing, Alec? What's going on?"
"Nothin' you need to worry about, Max. Why don't you just get outta here before you see somethin' you don't wanna see."
"Like Little Miss T and A here giving you a blow job? I've got to admit it, Alec. You sure do work fast. Break up with the love of your life in the morning and have a whore in your pants by that night."
Max looked more closely at the computer screen. "You're selling us out, aren't you? That's our information being uploaded." She turned angry eyes on him. "I knew you were a jerk, but I didn't think you were a traitor too."
"What can I say, Max. I decided to work for the highest bidder."
"I'll stop you."
"No, you won't. You always were gettin' in the way of me makin' money and I'm not gonna let you ruin this for me now."
"Alec!" Max's tone of voice had changed. "You're really betraying us?"
"Betrayal is such an ugly word, Max."
"Guess I shouldn't be surprised," she said bitterly. "It's not the first time you've turned on your own kind."
Alec glared at her.
Rain was smiling. She glanced at the screen where the program was finishing, a bar indicating the loading was almost complete. Then the monitor beeped and the screen went blank.
"All done, love," Rain said, taking hold of Alec's hand. "Time for us to collect our cash." She waved the gun in Max's direction. "You don't mind if I get rid of our witness, do you?"
Alec was still staring at Max.
"One question," Max said quickly to Rain. "You've been helping us here for weeks. You've fooled a lot of people. How'd you do it? Worming your way into the very heart of the New Manticore operations, not to mention into Alec's pants? Usually they're more careful about personnel around here."
"Let's just say I'm the best actor in the world," Rain said with a laugh. "And if you knew the rest of what's just happened you'd die. In fact, that's what you're going to do anyway -- die." She cuddled into Alec's arms as they went around her, still pointing the gun at Max.
Alec nuzzled her hair, breathing in her scent. "You've got competition in the acting department, baby," he said, his voice deep and low in her ear. "In fact, you might say I just beat you for the role." His hand closed around her wrist like a coil of steel.
"Did we get it all, Dix?" Alec said more loudly. "Oh, and thanks for bein' on cue with the phone call. I think you may have saved my virtue."
Dix stepped out from behind a large console, a big grin on his face. "Every bit of it. White's data base is now ours for perusing. And you lost your virtue a long time ago, Alec."
Max was smiling broadly.
"You bastard!" Rain shrieked. "You tricked me! That was a download instead of an upload!" She looked from Alec to Max and back again. "You filthy liar!" With an inhuman twist, she was free, the gun this time pointed at Alec. "One step and he's dead," she said to Max.
Alec was watching her warily, making certain her attention stayed on him.
Rain snickered. "You two may have outsmarted me, Max, but I still had your boy. He really did fuck me, acting or not. And he enjoyed every minute of it. The things we did ..."
"He does taste real good, by the way," Max said, not looking upset at all. Then she looked at Alec and made a wry face. "Show me how to get this little job done and I'll let you just lap me up? Couldn't you come up with a more sophisticated line than that?"
Alec shrugged. "So, it's not Shakespeare."
"No. It's gross."
Rain was looking confused.
Alec reached into his pocket and pulled out a small transceiver. "And Max, I still don't know how I'm gonna live down the fact I let you put a wire in my pants. I mean, talk about keepin a tight leash on your man. This was worse than a chastity belt."
"You were listening all the time?" Rain said. She shook her head in admiration. "But no one can't act that good," she said. "You wanted me."
"Hey," Alec said, still warily watching the gun. "What can I say? My body's a weapon in more ways than one. I trained all my life for this kind of thing, sweetheart. You didn't have a chance. Maxie, honey, are you gonna just stand there and let her shoot me?"
"I don't know," Max said. "Should I? Sounds like maybe you had too good of a time on this assignment. Get yourself out of this one."
Alec shot her a pained look. Then he blurred and Rain's pistol was his.
"How did you know?" Rain asked as Lydecker led her away. "How did you know I wasn't an X5? I had the right basal body temperature, the bar code, the strength, everything."
"The thermal scans were fooled by the virus you're carrying that's giving you a fever," Lydecker said. He looked at Alec. "How did you know for sure she was one of White's people? Or did you? We suspected, which is why we put on this little show. But we couldn't prove anything without a DNA workup, and there wasn't time for that. We knew she was going to be making her move soon and our window for getting White's information was closing."
Alec looked at Rain and pointed to his own eyes. "You had to turn the light on in your apartment to see."
"Shit," Rain muttered.
Lydecker nodded. "Your kind don't have my kids' night vision." He turned to Alec. "Good work, 494. Mission accomplished."
"Gee, do I get a gold star?" Alec drawled.
"You get to live free another day."
Even without Max telling him to, Alec decided to shut up.
Joshua was looking greatly relieved. "Everything okay with Alec now, Little Fella?"
"Everything's fine, Big Fella," Max said with a glance at Alec who was sitting across the table from them, arms behind his head and feet propped on an extra chair. They'd gone to the common room after the debriefing, wanting to check in with their friend before heading home.
"I do have one question, though," Max said, taking a sip of tea.
"Just one?" Alec said.
"About that whole 'Max was only the last in a long line of bitches'?"
"Oh, that." Alec caught his lower lip in his teeth, then looked sheepishly at her out of the corner of his eye.
"Just how many breeding partners did you have back at Manticore that summer?
"Oh, dozens," Alec said. "Lost count really. They didn't call me 'first time every time' for nothin'."
Joshua was looking bewildered. Max just looked pissed. But then Alec saw a flicker of hurt in her eyes.
"Hey," he said quickly. "I'm jokin'. I was in psi-ops for six months, remember? Because of Ben? They'd just let me out a couple weeks before pairin' me up with you. You were the only one Max. The only X5." He took hold of her hand. "And you still are."
"No little Alec's running around?"
"Not to my knowledge," Alec said. He held up his other hand. "I swear. 'Course there was the gene bank. You had X6 and X7 clones. I probably do too."
"Those aren't our children," Max said quietly.
Alec looked across the room where the X7 boy named Dalton was practicing on a piano. "Aren't they?"
"You know, Normal expects you in this morning."
Alec groaned. They'd gone back to his apartment, but he was actually debating not even going to bed. Dawn was only a couple hours away.
"And don't ask me to work your shift."
"I wouldn't," Alec said honestly. "You need your rest more than I do."
Max was making coffee for him in the kitchen. Alec supposed if he wasn't going to go to bed he might as well try and wake completely up. Suddenly she paused, and her hand went to her stomach.
"What's wrong?" he said, sitting up straighter on the couch. "Max? Are you okay?"
She was smiling. "I felt something."
"Something like what?"
"Like something fluttering. Dr. Shankar said that would happen."
"The baby?" Alec said. "You felt the baby? Are you sure it's not like ... gas?"
"It's the baby," Max said firmly.
"Come here," Alec said, moving over on the couch and holding out his arm. Max came and curled up beside him. "I know you wanna ask me more about what happened tonight," he whispered in her ear.
"No, I don't. Except maybe that part about me being a whiny little brat."
"Max. Ask. I only went as far with her as I had to. And I didn't enjoy it. Well, most of me didn't enjoy it."
Max rolled her eyes at him. "She was very beautiful."
"She wanted me dead."
"She wanted to have you first."
"She wasn't my type Max."
"You don't go in for the dominatrix kind of girl?"
Alec thought about that a moment. "Actually, I kinda do. After all, I'm sittin' here with Max, Mistress of Pain." He paused. "And now my mind's gone to this really scary fantasy."
Max kicked him.
"Ow. See what I mean."
"Max, she didn't get my pants off if that's what you're gettin' at."
"What did she get off?"
"She didn't get off. Neither did I."
"That's not what I meant."
"Can we change the subject now."
Max was looking at his neck. "You've got a hicky."
"Hazard of the profession, Max. And I'll take a hicky over a bullet hole any day."
"And what's with this whole 'My body's a weapon in more ways than one'?" Where did you come up with macho egotistical crap like that?"
Alec leaned over and kissed the top of her head. "Believe it or not, I thought that one up all by myself. Figured it was appropriate at the time."
Max sighed, giving up. "What do you suppose they'll do with Rain?"
"Take her someplace real private and put a bullet in her head."
"I don't think so. I think Lydecker will let her go. Send her back to White and let him punish her so the mutants don't get the bad rap for her death."
Alec closed his eyes. "Great. Just what I need. Give the guy yet another reason to want my head, not to mention yours."
Max hugged him then, and Alec grew quiet. When dawn broke they were still fast asleep in each others' arms.
"Well, well, agent 'Rain' is it?" Ames White was pacing up and down in front of his agent who'd just returned from a failed mission. "Because of you," he said. "Our entire data base is now compromised."
"I apologize sir," she said, standing at attention.
"The mutants have access to our files!" White roared. "It was supposed to be the other way around!"
"They're very clever, sir. I thought I had a good candidate, someone who wouldn't mind betraying their cause."
"Who might that have been, agent?"
White made an odd strangled sound and buried his face in his hands. "And he, of course, tricked you," he said, not looking up.
"Yes, sir. I thought he'd broken up with X5-452. I remembered you said those two were key to the mutant rebellion. He seemed very susceptible to my sexual advances, sir. I thought I could turn him."
"I thought I could turn him, too," White said. "Once upon a time." He looked again at the woman. How far did you get with him?"
"How far did 494 go to trick you?"
"I did not copulate with the animal, if that's what you mean sir."
"It was," White said. "And therefore you're still pure, and I'll allow you to live. Although your punishment for losing our data will have to be severe."
"Thank you, sir."
He turned to Otto. "I suppose you're wondering why I don't simply send out a squad to have 452 and 494 eliminated?"
"Because you don't know where they are, sir?" Otto said tentatively.
White gave him a withering look. "Besides that."
"Because ... I don't know, sir."
"Because I see an opportunity approaching, Otto. An opportunity to inflict far more pain on both of them than merely killing them could ever accomplish." White grinned, his expression pure evil. "After all, they took away my son. Why shouldn't I take away theirs?"