He's always felt most comfortable with a gun in his hand. Doesn't matter that he knows for a fact he can kill a man with his bare hands, the gun just makes him feel safe.
Which is why he can't figure out why his hand is shaking; why there's a tear slipping down his cheek.
It wasn't supposed to happen like this. The senator was supposed to be alone. No one had bothered to mention his twelve-year-old son would be visiting.
Reflex had made 494 fire the second round.
And all he knows now is that Manticore can make it go away. Make it all just be a dream.
Mission accomplished: collateral damage minimal.
He's out the door without a second thought.
He'd screwed up. He was well aware of that fact. But it wasn't like he knew what the hell he was doing...what the hell they were doing.
Once Alec and Max had moved past being strictly "friends", he'd tried very hard not to deny who he was or who he'd been. The problem, however, was that more often than not, Max made him feel the need to be defensive. She hadn't been around when the real shit had happened and she had no clue that what she was saying hit every single one of his buttons.
So when he'd lashed out and called her and her unit cowards for ducking out early, he'd been aware it was one of the worst things he could say to her, but it hadn't stopped him from speaking. A part of him knew he'd said it just because he knew it'd hurt her.
Alec had moped around the city for hours before finally heading for the Space Needle, knowing she'd be there, thinking the worst of him. She didn't move when he stepped out and paused at the sight of her.
"I'm sorry," he said softly. She turned her head slightly toward him and he took it as invitation to move forward.
"Feel better?" she asked, just as softly. He met her eyes before lowering his.
Rachel had been the only thing Manticore had made him forget, he was sure. So he had no explanation for the nightmares that suddenly plagued him.
There was always water: dark and deep and freezing. And as he struggled to keep his head above the waves, he could hear the screams of the others. Young men and women he'd known since birth.
He'd woken with a strangled gasp for six nights in a row when he finally decided sleep was overrated.
He found Biggs at Crash a week after the nightmares had started. After greeting the man with a friendly clap on the shoulder, he ordered a pitcher of beer and sat on the stool next to his.
"You look like hell," the other X5 commented. Alec sighed and scratched the back of his head before pouring himself a glass of alcohol.
"I've been having some pretty fucked up dreams. Floating in an ocean, people screaming." Alec had been trained to be observant, but even without the training he wouldn't have missed the way his friend's face paled. "What?"
"None of you guys ever talked about it. We just assumed it'd never really happened..." Alec frowned, confused.
"What are you talking about?" It was Biggs' turn to frown as he took a sip of his own beer.
"That mission off the coast of Newfoundland...half your unit didn't come back..." Alec's face lost all color and he suddenly couldn't be where he was anymore.
"Did you ever dream?" Max asked him softly. Alec frowned in the dark. After she'd finished crying in the kitchen, they'd moved to the sofa where she sat, tucked against him. She'd been silent for nearly an hour under the arm he had around her and it was confusing when she began to speak again.
"Huh?" he questioned dumbly. His night vision showed her tilt her head up to look at his face, eyes wide in what he figured was probably curiosity.
"At Manticore. Did you dream? Think about who you wanted to be?" Alec's frown deepened and he pulled his arm away from her, tucking it around himself as he crossed his arms uncomfortably across his chest.
"What are you talking about? I was a soldier. Born and bred. Soldiers only dream what they're told to dream." Max looked away as she sat up from him.
"Do you dream now?" Alec stared at the floor, not honestly certain what his answer was. She was waiting, though, so he looked at her, finding her face open for once.
"I'm still working on it," he whispered.
"How do you do it?" Asha asked as she watched Alec assemble another handgun.
"Do what?" he asked without looking up from his task. She took a deep breath as she leaned against the table he was using.
"You just saw about ninety percent of your friends get blown up," she said softly, still in disbelief herself. Logan was all she could really think about. "We're gonna die, probably soon, and you're still in here, getting shit together for a pathetic attempt to fight back.
"We've got nothing to even fight for anymore. And you're just standing here, acting like we really have a chance of making a difference today. I just wondered why the hell you're still optimistic."
He looked up at her and she saw the dark look flicker in his eyes and thought maybe he'd say something she didn't want to hear. But then he just shook his head and grinned.
"Still got my boots."
Alec had never felt so alone in his life.
Sure, most of his missions for Manticore had been solo operations, and he was currently living in an apartment without a roommate. But he'd never really realized he was alone before.
Rachel was gone. He'd known when he'd left the mansion that she only had a matter of days left, but hearing the news still hurt.
Alec had never once been suicidal before. But sitting in his apartment, alone, he couldn't help but stare in the direction of the kitchen, staring at the oh-so-convenient knife block.
Who'd notice, anyway?
His whole life, people had seen Alec as a tool to use at their discretion. Max was no different. He followed her a little more willingly than he'd followed the others, but it didn't mean he didn't know when he was being used.
It was for the cure, again, and Alec just hoped this time it actually worked so he could stop having to hear Max bitch about it like she was the only one who ever suffered.
For some reason, neither of the transgenics heard the guard when he snuck up behind them. Alec had no warning before he found the floor rushing up to meet him, pain blasting through his side.
Max was next to him an instant later, turning him over with a grim expression on her face. "Ow," he said lamely as he felt her hand press against something painful in his side.
"Red is so not a good color on you," she muttered.
He'd left her to go for a walk to clear his head. That'd been two months previously, and his thoughts were still jumbled.
She'd told him she loved him and he'd had no idea how to react and had therefore reacted very badly.
So now he was back in the streets of Seattle, wondering if she'd even still be in the city. She certainly wouldn't be in his apartment, sitting on that sofa, still waiting.
With a deep breath, he slipped past the sector checkpoint and made his way to her street. He was a fool to even think she'd want to see him after he'd left, but he had to see her. He had to tell her he loved her too.
Her roommate glared at him when she opened the door, but she let him pass.
"Don't screw her up again, Alec," she warned.
Alec stood over the grave and wept. Grief was too hard an emotion to master, and so he let it run its course. Even if it meant standing in the middle of a cemetery in October over the grave of possibly the only person who'd ever loved him, bawling his eyes out.
Okay, so he wasn't bawling. There was a tear. But it was certainly more emotion than he normally allowed himself. Ever.
Since being freed from Manticore, Alec had spent many of his days asking questions, and this day was no different. He wondered why she'd loved him; whether she really loved him or just who he pretended to be and, if maybe, he was just always pretending.
But for the most part he just wondered: why?
He hadn't made up his mind on the whole "god" thing yet, but standing over that grave, wiping at his single tear, he leaned even more heavily toward it all being wishful thinking.
He has no clue how long he's been here and even less clue about the reason why.
PsyOps, for sure. Probable re-indoctrination, judging from the long sessions in that fucking chair. But why? To his knowledge, you were only sent for re-indoctrination when something went horribly wrong. Or if you pissed them off. From his scattered memory, it was highly possible he was here for both reasons.
Had he killed a man? Considering he's trained for assassination it's unlikely that's the cause for his current quarters. So maybe he failed to kill a man?
The transgenic shivers and struggles to wrap shaking arms around himself. Did they really need to take his clothes? It wouldn't matter if the floor wasn't fucking freezing.
With the shivers come the aches and he closes his eyes, still telling himself it would all be bearable if he could only remember. Maybe at least then this misery would make sense.
It doesn't matter. They'll come for him in another hour and he won't even remember his conversation with himself.