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Weird Science (Or: Isn't It Always the Way; Just When You Find a Cure for One Specific Gene Targeted Pathogen another One Comes Along)

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“I would say that it was nice to see you again, 494, but that would be a lie.”

Alec turned his head towards the voice and swallowed a groan as his headache made itself known in a rather loud fashion. He tried to press his hand to his forehead but couldn’t. The fact that it took him a few moments to realise that his wrists had been tied down to the table he was laying on was testament to just how hard he’d been knocked out.

Opening his eyes to look at the owner of the voice, Alec forced his face into its customary smirk. “Ames, buddy. Long time, no see. You look good, been working out?”

His answer was a backhand across the face, his head smacking painfully against the metal table as White glared down at him.

“What the hell is it with you X5s? Did Manticore give you lessons in smartass comments?”

“Yep,” Alec was surreptitiously checking out the room as he replied, “Right after Embroidery 101 and ‘How to kick a snake cult loon’s ass in 5 easy steps’.” He got another smack for that and gritted his teeth to stop from making any sound of pain.

He was being held in a lab of some kind. There was some pretty sophisticated equipment lined up around the walls making a stark contrast to the peeling paint and general rundown appearance of the room. Alec himself was restrained on a surgical table in the centre of the room and some careful tugging against the cuffs around his wrists and ankles had already told him that there was no way he was getting free by himself. He hoped that Max had managed to get away after they’d been jumped. Alec had no doubts that if she had, she’d come back to bust him out. He just needed to hold on long enough.

Terminal City had been running low on medical supplies, especially considering the alarming number of pregnant female transgenics that had managed to make their way to Seattle – and one pregnant male, although Alec was trying really hard not to think too much about that one. He swore that the first thing everyone did when Manticore burned was to jump into bed with the nearest person.

The stocks of bandages, penicillin and the ever important Tryptophan for the X5 series were dwindling so Max had decided a raid was in order. The problem was that they didn’t want to deprive the genuinely sick people outside of TC of the medicine they needed so Max and Alec had come up with a plan to hit several hospitals at once, taking a little of the supplies from each rather than the entire stock of one hospital. The two of them were out on reconnaissance scoping out hospital layouts when White and his goons had attacked. Alec could remember that he’d been fighting three of them off when something had hit him from behind and then he’d woken up here.

“You know, I was all for just killing you and leaving you out there on the street.” White’s voice dragged Alec back to the room. “But then I realised that even a lowly rat like you could have some uses. Like luring 452 to rescue you, for instance. I know that she lives by that ‘leave no soldier behind’ bullshit that they taught you.” He stopped prowling around the bed and grinned down at Alec, which managed to unnerve him far more than the constant circling had. “Of course, all those tiny little clues we’ve left won’t actually lead her here.”

Alec closed his eyes. They’d used him to set a trap for Max in another location; it looked like White had finally wised up somewhat. These things were always a trap to some extent but the person being held would actually be there and could help pitch in with the escape. This time Max would be looking in the wrong place entirely and, knowing her, would keep looking until she was sure Alec wasn’t there, giving them more time to wear her down and capture her.

White was still talking in that insufferably smug way. “In the meantime, the agency geeks have been begging for an X-series to play with and who better than an X5 that should already be dead.” He reached out and flicked the back of Alec’s neck where the explosive had been planted.

Alec jerked away and glared at White. “I hope I’m there when Max kills you.”

The strength of the punch White gave him left Alec’s head reeling. His ears were ringing and he could just make out, through the blurring in his vision, the shapes of three people in white coats entering the room. He tried to pull away when someone gripped him but the cuffs were still holding him down and he couldn’t prevent a needle from being slid into his arm.

Immediately a warm feeling flowed over him and, no matter how hard he fought in his mind, his body offered no resistance against the fingers opening his mouth and pushing a gag in place.

“See you around, 494.” White’s voice was moving towards the door but Alec couldn’t even roll his head to look. “Who knows, maybe I’ll bring you a playmate...after we’ve gotten rid of 452, of course.”

***

“It’s too easy. It’s got to be a trap.”

Logan pushed his fingers under his glasses and rubbed at his eyes tiredly as he listened to the argument still going on around him.

“Of course it’s a trap!” Max snapped, “But this is Alec we’re talking about. I’m not leaving him in White’s hands.”

Mole growled , “Well you’re not going to be much use to him dead. As much as I want to bust in there, all guns blazing, we need a plan.”

“Alec back home. That’s the plan.” Joshua thumped the table, visibly shaken by the loss of his friend.

Max walked over to Joshua and wrapped her arms around him. “It’s okay, big fella. We’ll bring him home, I promise.”

Logan shook his head. Who else could cause this much trouble and worry but Alec the happy-go-lucky sociopath?

Almost as soon as he had the thought Logan began to feel guilty. He’d seen how much Alec had changed over the course of the past 18 months and how he’d stepped up to the plate when he realised the danger his fellow transgenics were in. He was turning out to be a very good 2IC for Max when it came to running Terminal City and the fact that he was so approachable in that role, always taking other people’s ideas into account, had made him popular among the transgenics even outside of the X-series. He still joked a lot but the others realised pretty quickly that he could take it as well as dish it out so no one seemed to mind too much.

Logan, however, was still having trouble shaking his dislike of the guy. He’d figured out that whatever Max and Alec had wasn’t as strong as Max had led him to believe, probably nothing more than ‘friends with benefits’ – after all, it hadn’t been Alec’s hand she’d been clutching so tightly that day they’d first raised Joshua’s flag – but the fact remained that Alec had more of Max than Logan ever had or probably ever will.

Logan started, realising that he’d missed part of the fighting when Mole suddenly jumped to his feet, bellowing “Fine! Let’s do it your way! After all, what’s a few more dead freaks?”

“Glad you’re on board.” Max shot back before her tactical training kicked in and she started giving out orders to those who wanted to join the mission, ignoring Mole’s mutterings as he checked over his rifle.

Half an hour later Max, Logan and a five man team headed out in a van towards the building they believed Alec was being held in. The two black vans that had left the hospital where Max and Alec had been attacked had split up and Luke had tracked one to an old building in the industrial sector which was using up a lot of energy for a seemingly abandoned warehouse.
Parking in a darkened area of the next block over, Logan set up his makeshift command centre and began to hack into the nearby surveillance.

“Okay, you’re good to go,” he told Max as the pictures popped up on his screens, “Keep the comms open. I’ll try to get into the building’s security mainframe and lead you through.”

Max nodded at him soberly as she jumped out of the back of the van, followed by the rest of the team.

Trace patted Logan’s shoulder as he squeezed past, his abnormally large nostrils already twitching to seek out Alec’s scent. “You sure you don’t want to come and join the fun?”

Logan huffed out an amused breath. “As much as I’d love to sneak around cold, damp places in the pitch black, I’ll be more use to you here.”

Trace chuckled and then closed the vans doors behind him. Logan watched on the screens as the six transgenics stealthily made their way through the darkened streets, while he quickly worked his way through the firewalls of the warehouse security system. He grinned widely as he managed to pull up the schematics and in-house cameras.

“I’m in,” he said over the comms, “It looks like there are four guards covering each entrance but there is a door on the building blueprints that they seemed to have missed. Get up to the roof and you should find it behind the water tank.”

“They always forget about the roof entrance.” Max’s voice sounded in his ear. Logan didn’t need to see her to know that she was shaking her head ruefully.

While he waited for them to make it to the door, Logan checked over the cameras inside the building. There was no sign of Alec but it wasn’t as if there was a camera in every room, just the main assembly area, an office and a couple of stairwells. There was a larger contingent of soldiers prowling around inside but nothing that six genetically enhanced supersoldiers couldn’t handle.

Logan tilted his head, studying one of the camera feeds closely. There was something bugging him about it but he couldn’t place his finger on what it was. He didn’t have much time to worry about it though as Max announced that the team was inside. Turning to the other screens he led them down a stairwell, warning them about the two soldiers half way down and watching as Crow and Mole effectively disabled them.

Something caught the corner of his eye. It was on the feed that had concerned him earlier, the one of the assembly area that Max and the others were about to enter. He kept his eyes trained on that one particular spot as he listened to the others moving into position at the bottom of the stairs.

There! There was a small glitch in the very edge of the screen and it kept repeating every few minutes.

“It’s on a loop.” He murmured to himself.

“What?” Max whispered over the comm, “Did you say something?”

“It’s on a loop,” he repeated louder, “The camera feed is looping.”

“So they were reeling us in?” Crow said, “They must know we’re here.”

“And I don’t think Alec is.” That was Trace’s voice. “I haven’t picked up any of his scent and I should’ve by now.”

“We need to retreat.” Mole hissed.

“But, Alec...Shit!” Max broke off and Logan heard the sound of distant shouting and gunfire instead.

“Max, what’s happening?” Logan was frantically trying to pull up the real images from the cameras instead of what he was being fed. “Max?”

There was a loud bang behind him and Logan spun in his seat to face a team of soldiers standing outside the now open doors of the van, all with their guns trained on him.

Ames White stood behind them. “Well...if it isn’t Eyes Only. I think you and me need to have a little chat.” He turned to the soldiers. “Take him. Alive.”

Logan moved his eyes to two of the soldiers who obediently dropped their guns and pulled out tazers instead.

***

Alec wasn’t sure how long he’d been stuck in the lab. It felt like weeks but it could’ve been as little as a day for all he knew. It was as if there was a fog in his brain and although he managed to fight his way through it again and again, he would inevitably be given another injection and fall back under.

They seemed to be taking a lot of blood from him and running it through their machines with the pretty lights and he caught snippets of conversations now and again but the words kept slipping away like water.

At one point he’d been left alone, the room completely still, and he could see through the window into another lab. There was someone else tied to a table just like his. Alec felt like maybe he knew them but the haze in his head was preventing him from remembering properly. Whoever it was they were staring back at him, blinking slowly and obviously as drugged as Alec was. He struggled to place them, pushing through the fog, trying to find a memory that would help him but the darkness was rushing towards him again.

Logan.

The thought appeared just as the darkness managed to wash over him, pushing the name away again.
The next time he surfaced he felt more alert and he opened his eyes to find a moustachioed doctor watching him carefully while talking aloud to himself.

“Careful, careful. Can’t have too much sedative in his system but can’t let him wake up enough to get strong. Have to time it perfectly.”

Too weak to do much more than wiggle his fingers, Alec could only study the doctor as the doctor studied him.

Finally the man apparently deemed him ready and placed a syringe of bright orange liquid against Alec’s arm. This time there was no flowing warmth. Whatever was in this syringe burned like hell and Alec struggled against the restraints, arching his body as the fire spread through his veins, screams muffled by the gag in his mouth as the pain grew and grew.

He started shaking uncontrollably, the chains leading from his cuffs clanging against the table. He kept clenching and unclenching his fists as the waves of fire and pain shot through him. His jaw was aching from the force with which he was biting at the gag but he couldn’t stop. The pain wouldn’t stop. Alec’s head was jerking back and forth, and he started up a litany inside his head begging for all this to end.

The suffocating dry heat had closed up his throat and, judging from the way his lungs were beginning to scream for air, it had already been closed for several minutes. Even with his training and abilities Alec couldn’t hold his breath indefinitely and he started to panic. He turned his head and looked through the window, desperate to find help. But all he found were a pair of familiar eyes widened and full of terror as they watched Alec struggle.

It was with a sense of relief that Alec finally passed out.

***

Logan had killed men before. It hadn’t been by choice; he’d done it to defend himself and other innocent people and he’d agonised over what he’d been forced to do. At this moment in time, however, Logan would happily end the lives of every scientist in this house of horrors he’d been brought to. He would enjoy every single second of killing the people responsible for what Alec was currently going through.

The sight of the young transgenic in so much pain was almost more than Logan could bear. He would give anything to hear Alec give another joke at his expense or snap off some wiseass remark, hell, he’d even gladly sit and watch Alec making out with Max if it meant that this insanity would stop. But as it was he could only lie on that table and watch.

The first few days after Logan had been captured had passed in a blur of pain interspersed with White demanding to know where Logan and Max had taken his son. By the time that White had finally given up and had Logan moved to the rundown lab instead, all his fingers had been broken and he guessed that a few of his ribs had been cracked too. One of his eyes had been swollen almost shut and his body felt like one massive bruise.

He had been injected with some kind of sedative almost immediately upon his arrival and it had taken a while to realise that there was another person being held in the room next to his. Even longer to realise that that person was Alec, although the latter had probably only happened because the chief scientist had eased up on the drugs enough to question Logan.

It had appeared that they were very excited by what they’d found in Logan’s blood workup.

“I’ve seen your blood before, you know.” A big fat man with a walrus moustache had been seated beside Logan’s table, clipboard in hand. “Back at Manticore. I helped work on that virus they put into X5-452.”

“So you’re who I have to thank.” Logan’s words were still slightly slurred from the drugs they had given him.

The man had nodded excitedly. “Oh yes, I could even inoculate you against it. In fact I probably should...can’t have two viruses working against each other...” The man had muttered the last part to himself and made a note on his clipboard.

“What are you talking about?” Logan had asked but the doctor ignored him as he wrote for several minutes.

Eventually he’d looked up at Logan again. “Now you had some plurapotents in your blood even back then but they were nothing compared to the amount in your blood right now. You had another transfusion from a transgenic, I take it.” He’d paused for Logan to answer but when he didn’t the man shrugged and carried on. “The transfusion wasn’t from an X-series this time though. It was from an older transgenic, one from back before they started messing about with the stem cells. You, my friend, managed to find yourself a pure batch from somewhere. Which is why your antibodies aren’t attacking the way they must’ve before and why those nasty injuries to your spine have stayed healed over.”

At this the man had given Logan a conspiratorial look, as if Logan had been deliberately having transfusions with transgenics for just that reason and not because he’d have died without it thanks to that damned virus. Logan didn’t comment though, his mind was too busy going over what the man had told him.

It made sense. Joshua had been the first so of course his blood would be less sullied than the others that came later. No wonder the results had been so immediate this time and had yet to fade.

“How many transgenics have you had transfusions from in total?” The man had then asked.

Logan glared at him. “Why should I tell you anything?”

The doctor had then smiled. “Because otherwise I’ll just have to guess and who knows what that will do to you and your friend over there.”

Logan had turned his head in the direction the man had indicated and finally seen that it was Alec laying on a table in the other room. He was tied down in the same manner as Logan but was unconscious, his skin pale and clammy. Logan’s stomach clenched.

“What are you doing to him?” Logan had demanded, turning back to the man.

The doctor was still smiling. “Just a little experiment that I’m sure Manticore will be interested in.”

Logan frowned. “Manticore’s gone.”

The man had chuckled at that, his moustache dancing. “Oh come now. Do you really believe that? That the government would throw away all those years of research and development? Why do you think the agency has people like me set up in new labs? They’ll just wait for a year or so and then start up again somewhere else under a new name and new management. The country still needs stronger soldiers after all. Actually we probably need new stronger soldiers to go after the old stronger soldiers.”

Logan had stared at him in horror. Manticore couldn’t just start up again, not after everything that had happened.

The doctor had laughed again. “They’ll be back, just you watch. Stronger than ever and I’ll be waiting for them. With my new ideas and results I’ll probably get my own department this time.” His eyes had gleamed at the thought. “Now, how many transgenic transfusions do I need to account for in my formula or do you want me to just guess and end up maybe hurting X5-494?”

When Logan had gritted out the answers to the man’s questions. He’d become very excited, talking to himself as he made his notes.

“An X5 and an older model...always just upgraded, never thought of mixing the blood types, especially not with a normal human...”

Logan had turned away during all that rambling and occasional giggling, his heart sinking as he realised how crazy the man was, and he'd instead stared at the still form of Alec in the next room.

“...may cause a slight reaction with the feline DNA but if I splice it with...oh, that could work...”

Logan remembered praying that Max and the others would reach them before things got even worse but they hadn’t and now Alec was paying the price. Thankfully the X5 had finally passed out. He looked even worse than he had when Logan first saw him in that room but the monitors set up around him showed that his heart was still beating. He was still alive and that was pretty much all that Logan could hope for right then.

There was the sound of someone entering the room to Logan’s right and he dragged his eyes away from Alec and instead looked at the fat man with a walrus moustache walking towards him, a big grin on his fat face and a syringe of bright orange liquid in his hand.

***

Distantly he heard a bang and the noises of a struggle.

“...the hell have you done to them?...”

If he could just open his eyes he could see what was going on.

“...sensitive experiment. You’re destroying it all...”

But his eyes felt so heavy and his body hurt all over. He just wanted to sleep.

“...don’t touch the subject. No! Get away from him...”

There was tugging at his wrists. Someone was untying him.

“...s’okay, Alec. We’re getting you out of here...”

He knew that voice but Crow wouldn’t be here. Why was Crow here?

“...Logan, no!...”

Max’s voice this time. Logan. Logan was here. Alec had seen him.

“..hey!...”

Crow again. Then there was a hand on his cheek, another brushing the hair from his forehead.

“Alec, come on. You need to wake up.”

Alec forced his eyes to open and blinked up at Logan who was peering down at him with a worried look on his face.

“You’ve got a black eye.” Alec’s voice was raspy, his throat painful but, hey, his gag had gone. When had that happened?

Logan’s lips twitched but his eyes stayed concerned. “I suppose I do.” His voice sounded as wrung out as Alec’s.

“Think you can stand?” Crow asked as he moved into view too.

Alec nodded even though he wasn’t really sure. Crow helped him off the table to his feet and Alec’s legs buckled right away. Crow grabbed him before he could hit the ground, pulling him upright again. This time his legs took the weight, albeit shakily. With his arm thrown over Crow’s shoulder and Crow’s arm around his waist they slowly made their way out of the room with Logan hovering nearby.

Out in the corridor Alec spotted Max. “Hey, pretty lady.” He tried to wave at her but his hand felt funny, like it was too heavy for his arm.

Max didn’t react to him - she seemed to be too busy staring at Logan with a shocked expression on her face - but Crow chuckled. Alec could feel it reverberating through him and he turned to grin at his friend while at the same time flapping his hand to test this strange new heaviness in it.

“You’re really out of it, handsome.” Crow laughed and Alec laughed too because it seemed like the thing to do.

Trace came barrelling down the corridor. “We need to move. Now!” He grabbed hold of Alec from the other side and between him and Crow Alec was fairly flying through the maze of hallways. Maybe he was flying.

He kind of felt lightheaded.

Max was in front of them, checking around corners and leading them on when she saw it was all clear. Mole was bringing up the rear, his arm around Logan who was looking pretty much beaten to hell and was holding his side, wincing a lot. Jazz was driving and wait, when had they got in a van? Alec thought he should probably be worried that he couldn’t remember doing that but then Jazz glanced over her shoulder and smiled at him. Pretty, pretty Jazz with her pretty, pretty smiles.

When everyone started laughing, Alec realised that he had said that last bit aloud. Oops.

“Aww...I think you’re pretty too, Alec ,” Jazz said with a wink at him in the rear view mirror.

“Why aren’t you as drugged up as pretty boy there?” Crow asked Logan, who Alec was currently sprawled against. He thought that maybe he should move but Logan was rubbing his hand up and down Alec’s back and that felt nice. Soothing.

“I think they had eased back on the sedatives because they were getting ready to run some more tests on me,” Logan answered, “They seemed to work on us one at a time.”

Trace tilted his head to one side. “What kind of tests?”

Logan shook his head. “I don’t know. They were running some sort of experiment on the two of us. The last thing I remember before you guys arrived was...”

“Pain.” Alec said with a shudder.

“Yeah.” Logan said quietly, the hand stroking Alec’s back faltering for a moment as the memories rushed over the both of them.

The van grew quiet at that until Max broke the silence several minutes later. “Here’s a question...not that I’m not grateful for it, but why aren’t you sick right now?”

Logan met her gaze. “I think they made me immune. Something about not having two viruses working against each other.” His arm tightened almost imperceptibly around Alec as he spoke.

“They gave you another virus?”

“You two can touch now?”

“Are you going to infect us?”

“Do you know exactly what they did?”

Everyone spoke at once, their voices overlapping each other until they became one loud noise battering against Alec’s already aching head. He rubbed at his temples and swallowed the moan that rose in his throat but Logan, whose free hand was pressed against his forehead, wasn’t so successful.

“Everyone shut up.” Max’s voice was quiet yet forceful. She nodded towards Alec and Logan. “I think they’ve both been through enough without us giving them migraines on top of everything else. We’ll figure things out back at TC.”

Alec should probably have thanked her for the quiet that followed but instead he snuggled closer to Logan and fell asleep.

When he woke up again he was in a bed in the Terminal City infirmary, or at least an old office canteen that had been turned into the Terminal City infirmary. He pulled himself up to a sitting position, drawing the attention of Happ, an X3 field medic who’d taken on the mantle of TC’s resident doctor.

“Remind me not to send you out for some aspirin again. I had to wait almost two weeks for you to come back and you didn’t even bring any with you.” Happ immediately wandered over to him and started checking Alec’s vitals.

“Sorry, doc. Traffic was a bitch.” Alec said around the thermometer in his mouth.

Happ chuckled. “Well you sound as if you’re back to your old self. I heard you were sprouting out all kinds of nonsense in the van. Telling Jazz she was pretty, making a pass at Mole...”

“Fuck off! I did not!” Alec protested, “I mean, I did tell Jazz she was pretty but Mole?” He mock shuddered.

“Just telling it like I heard it.” Happ pressed his fingers against Alec’s wrist to check his pulse. “Apparently you were stroking his ridges and whispering sweet nothings. Aww, don’t be embarrassed. Mole’s a fine figure of a gun-toting man if you like that kind of thing.”

“You know, if I didn’t already know you were sweet on Violet,” Alec nodded his head towards the girl who’d taken on the role of Happ’s assistant, “I’d think you were after Mole yourself.”

Happ paused. “Yeah, okay. Let’s just stop that conversation right there shall we?”

Violet giggled from behind her desk and Alec was struck once again at how a completely purple girl could be so lovely to look at. She was like a sculpture in an art gallery, all delicate features and flowing lines.

“Hey, stop checking out my girl and pay attention to the doctor who’s trying to make you feel better.” Happ pulled the stethoscope from around his neck.

Alec hissed at the cold touch of the metal on his chest. “She’s nicer to look at than you. Besides, I’m just letting her know that she’s appreciated by other men and could do far better for herself.” He winked at Violet over Happ’s shoulder.

“Like you for instance?” Happ asked dryly.

Alec smirked. “Well I’m not one to brag...”

Two people snorting at the same time was a curious noise Alec decided as he momentarily pretended to take offense.

He looked across at the bed opposite where Logan was still fast asleep. “How is he?”

Happ followed Alec’s eye line. “Alright considering. He took one hell of a beating from White.”

Alec growled. “White did that?”

Happ nodded. “Broke all his fingers and cracked four of his ribs. Fractured his cheekbone and left some serious deep tissue bruising over most of his body. And that’s before the lab started their little experiments.”

The strength of Alec’s anger upon hearing that surprised him. He and Logan had never exactly been friends, what with Alec trying to kill him that one time and then ruining a chance to get a cure for the virus that other time. Logan’s general disapproval of Alec trying to earn some maybe not quite so honest money, and now, of course, he thought that Alec had stolen Max away from him. Those kinds of things would put a spanner in the works of friendship attempts with anyone, let alone someone with Logan’s superior attitude. Still, the guy had been captured and hurt while trying to rescue Alec so he guessed that’s what the protective surge he was feeling right now was all about.

“We’re still not exactly sure what they did to you both there. Max managed to grab a few pages of notes from the room they were holding Logan in, but Dix says that they’re mostly unintelligible. He’s still working on them though.” Happ had finished his check-up for now and sat in the chair next to Alec’s bed. “I’ve established that neither of you are contagious so whatever this new virus is it’s not for mass effect; if it’s even a virus at all. At least the original virus isn’t a problem anymore, I was worried about how I was going to treat that when Logan got infected again; which he would if he was going to keep hanging around Max all the time.”

Alec raised an eyebrow at him. “So I did hear that bit right? They made Logan immune?”

He wondered how long it would be before Max got rid of her ‘new boyfriend’ and hooked up with Logan. The thought should have amused him, but he just felt angry again; which was weird because he didn’t think about Max like that. Sure she was gorgeous but Alec wasn’t really into women who liked to kick his ass as much as Max seemed to.

“I’ve run a couple of tests and he’s got some new antibodies that fight off the infection. Good thing too, I don’t know if he’d have lasted long enough to make the journey back here if he’d gotten sick at the lab,” Happ mused, “From what I’ve heard its fast acting little bug.”

“How did they even touch? Surely Max knows better than to rush in and give Logan a hug no matter how relieved she is to see him alive.” Alec couldn’t help his gaze from straying over to the sleeping man again.

“Actually, from what I heard, he touched her.” Violet had come over to join them, perching herself on the end of Alec’s bed. “Mole unstrapped him from the table while Max kind of paced about anxiously in that way she does. Then when he was free she stepped forward to talk to him but Logan pushed her out of the way as he ran to check on you. Crow said Logan was really worried about you. Pushed him out of the way too, but Crowe didn’t mind as much.”

“Really?” Alec was shocked, but now that he really thought about it he could remember the slightly desperate edge to Logan’s voice when he was coaxing Alec to wake up and the soothing touches in the van.

What the hell was that all about?

***

With a slight grimace Logan dry swallowed a couple of aspirin to get rid of the headache brewing behind his eyes. He’d finally been let out of the infirmary an hour earlier on orders not to leave TC until he was completely recovered. Happ didn’t like the idea of Logan alone in Joshua’s house with no one to help him and Logan silently agreed. If he accidentally hit his ribs against something and made them worse it could be days before someone came to check on him and get him further medical attention.

That was the worst thing about living at Joshua’s; the loneliness of it. Logan didn’t mind the peeling wallpaper or the shabby furniture, it was all comfortable no matter what it looked liked, but the house was so big which just emphasised the emptiness. No one knew Logan was living there so he couldn’t expect any random visits from Asha, or Bling when he was in town. Max was too busy trying to run TC and Original Cindy had never been a close enough friend for social visits. He was starting to see exactly why Joshua had tried to sneak outside so often.

So the idea of a couple of weeks in Terminal City definitely wasn’t a bad thing in Logan’s mind. He had Joshua’s blood in him so the air didn’t affect him and he was surrounded by people, a lot of whom were actually beginning to warm to him despite the fact he wasn’t one of them. He’d been surprised by the amount of visitors he’d had when in the infirmary. Even Mole had stopped by for a couple of seconds; just long enough to ask how Logan was and clap him on the shoulder.

He looked around at the sparseness of the room he usually stayed in when he was in TC and quickly decided to head out to the main building to see what was going on.

Luke was the only one in the control room when Logan got there and seemed pleased to have some company. Logan smiled to himself as Luke launched into a description of his day so far, the guy really did love to talk, but Logan supposed when all you did your entire life was dig ditches, you had to do something to stop from going crazy.

He was about to interrupt and ask where Max was when Luke placed a cup of hot coffee on the table in front of Logan and gestured for him to sit down, still talking all the while. Logan shrugged. He had some time to kill and he could look for Max later. Besides that headache was still there and Luke had gone to all the trouble of pouring the coffee for him, it would be rude to just leave.

It took Logan a few attempts to get a solid grip on the cup. He had to hold it in both hands between his palms because he still had splints holding his fingers straight but he finally managed it and had his first sip of coffee since before the whole nightmare started. He gave a sigh of satisfaction, even the sludge that passed for coffee in Terminal City tasted good to him by this point. He leaned back in the chair, cradling the cup, and listened to Luke’s chattering.

“...and then Sofie said that she could fix up the heating over there but Alec didn’t want her wandering about over there by herself and sent Dug and Nova with her which kind of pissed her off, but I think he was right, some of these buildings are falling apart and anything could happen...”

“Alec’s back at work already?” Logan asked.

Alec had been released from the infirmary two days earlier and those two days had dragged by. He’d been surprisingly good entertainment while he’d been there what with all his bantering back and fore with Happ. Definitely less annoying than usual.

Luke nodded. “Oh yeah, he was here as soon as Happ let him loose which was probably a good thing because the way Max has been snapping at everyone there probably would’ve been a revolt or something. Mole was about ready to snap her neck I think, but then that’s pretty much his default setting so it’s hard to tell but Alec told her to take a break while he held down the fort and saved a lot of bloodshed.”

It was good to know that Max’s mood hadn’t just been confined to Logan. She’d only visited the infirmary a couple of times and on both occasions had been snappish before leaving as soon as possible. She’d made sure she stood as far away from Logan as she could as if the virus was still in play; just like she used to when Logan first got sick. He supposed that she was making some sort of point to Alec but, as far as Logan could tell, Alec was as unhappy with her behaviour as Logan was.

He guessed that she was feeling guilty about giving up on the cure and on her relationship with Logan, maybe even wishing that she’d made a different decision but, Max being Max, she wasn’t going to admit that she was wrong. She also wasn’t going to hurt Alec by dropping him at the first indication that she could be with Logan, that wasn’t the type of person she was.

There was, as well, the disturbing news that Manticore may get set back up. She probably hadn’t taken that well.

Logan raised the cup to his mouth to take another sip and frowned as he noticed that his hands were shaking. In fact he felt pretty shaky all over and he guessed that he wasn’t looking that good because Luke had stopped talking and was looking at him in concern.

“You feeling alright, Logan?”

Forcing a smile, Logan put the coffee back onto the desk. “Too much excitement so soon after getting free of our good doctor’s clutches,” he joked, “I think I’d better go take a lie down.”

Luke nodded and watched Logan leave, still looking worried.

Once outside, Logan took a few deep breaths which seemed to help. The air in TC wasn’t exactly fresh and clean but it was so much cooler than inside the main building, which had suddenly grown far too warm. The shakes returned about half way back to his room so he decided that it may be a better idea to go and see Happ instead. He changed direction and walked straight into Max.

“Hey, I’ve been looking for you.” Her face was carefully blank, only her eyes giving away a small measure of sadness and determination. “I thought that we should talk about...you know...everything.”

Logan knew what was coming. “I was just going to check something with Happ. Do you want to walk with me or prefer to find somewhere more private later?”

“I think it would be best to get this over with.” Max said and fell into step beside him as they walked towards the infirmary.

She was silent for a moment before turning to look at him. “Nothing’s changed, Logan. The virus is gone but I can’t be with you other than as your friend.”

“Well, you’re with Alec now. I wasn’t really expecting us to suddenly jump into bed together.” Logan pointed out but she shook her head at him.

“Me and Alec, we’re not...I mean it isn’t what you think.”

Logan stopped walking and put his hand on her arm, urging her to duck into an alleyway. This really wasn’t a conversation they should be having in the middle of the street, no matter how ill he was beginning to feel. “I know you’re not exactly the perfect couple but there is something between you and...”

“No, Logan ,” She interrupted him , “You’re about to say something incredibly noble and Logan-ish, all standing aside for Alec and ‘as long as your happy’, but there is no me and Alec. There never has been. He’s a friend and a pain in my ass and he’s helped me out loads with things in TC but there’s nothing more than that.”

Logan stared at her for a minute in confusion before his shaking legs demanded that he lean some of his weight against the wall and his head demanded some answers from Max. “You told me you were together. That’s what you said. Did you lie to me? Have you been lying to me this whole time?”

“It was for your own good, Logan. It was only a matter of time before we tempted fate and got too close again. How many times could you end up with that infection before it finally killed you? You saw me and Alec that morning and jumped to your own conclusion. I just didn’t correct you.” She shrugged a little.

It was getting hot again and Logan wiped the perspiration from his forehead with a shaky hand. “Who else knew?”

“Logan are you...?”

“Who else knew, Max? Was it everyone? Were they all laughing at me and how stupid I was, huh?” Logan was starting to get a little dizzy but pushed it away.

“No one knew. Just Alec and Original Cindy and they were both pretty pissed at me.” Max told him quietly, looking ashamed. “When Alec found out he went to see you, to tell you the truth because he was fed up with being the bad guy. But I guess you said something or did something because he ended up keeping quiet after all.”

Logan leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes to stop the spinning. He mentally shoved the whole lying thing to one side to deal with later. He knew that he had to finish this conversation now before Max started on her normal avoidance tactics and he still had another question that he needed answered. “So you’re telling me that you and Alec aren’t really a couple but that, even though the virus is gone, we can’t be a couple either. Why?”

“Logan I think we should get to the infirmary. You really don’t look so hot.”

He opened his eyes again. “Just tell me why, Max.” His voice sounded defeated to his own ears.

She looked at him, her eyes shining with tears.

“It’s just too late.” She whispered.

He let out a laugh, the sound harsh and bitter, before his legs gave up on him and he crashed to the ground.

“Oh God, Logan!” Max cried and dropped to her knees in front of him, her hands outstretched but not quite touching. She turned her head and yelled over her shoulder. “Help! Someone get me some help over here!”

Logan curled up into a ball on the hard ground. He couldn’t stop shivering but he felt like he was burning up.

Crow was sprinting down the street and stopped when he saw Max. “You’ve got to come quick. Alec just collapsed and...” He trailed off as he spotted Logan’s condition. “Oh, now this isn’t good.”

***

Alec wasn’t quite sure what had happened. He hadn’t been feeling right all day but he figured that he was still feeling the effects of all those drugs that had been pumping through his system for almost two weeks. It wasn’t until he was inspecting a building with Crow and Jazz ; to see if they were suitable to be turned into apartments ; that he started to get shaky. He’d suddenly felt feverish and blindly pushed his way outside to the cold air before falling to the ground.

The weird thing was that it had stopped as soon as he got to the infirmary. Even weirder was the fact that the exact same thing happened to Logan at the exact same time.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this.” Happ frowned as he checked Alec over.

Alec waggled his eyebrows at him. “What can I say, Happ? It must be your animal magnetism.”

Happ snorted. “So first you hit on my girlfriend and now you’re hitting on me? Are you trying to angle for a threesome there, Bucko?”

Alec spread his arms wide. “You know me, I’ll take whatever I can get and did you honestly just call me ‘Bucko’?”

“It’s a new thing I’m trying out.” Happ shrugged.

“It’s good, I like it. Very old country doctor.” Alec told him, “Now, about that threesome...will there be whipped cream involved?”

“Guys give it a rest!” Max snapped.

Alec looked at her. She hadn’t moved from her position next to the door and every line of her was tense. Her fists clenched at her sides as if she was spoiling for a fight.

He shared a look with Happ who immediately took on a more professional manner. “It’s the same as Logan. There’s nothing wrong with either of you as far as I can tell. I’ll have to take some blood to be sure but you both seem as healthy as you were when I released you.”

“It’s not the virus? You’re sure?” Max asked.

Happ nodded at her. “I’m positive. Not that virus at least.”

So that’s what was wrong; Alec should’ve guessed. He’d seen Logan when he’d been infected and could understand why Max would jump to that conclusion, it must’ve looked the same to her.

She stared at Logan for a moment longer then turned on her heels and left.

“I guess you gave her quite a scare.” Alec said to Logan who nodded but was resolutely not looking at anything except the blanket covering him. Alec chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Probably scared the crap out of you too.”

Logan didn’t answer, instead turning onto his side so that his back was towards Alec. Alec raised his eyebrows in surprise and looked at Happ who just shrugged and shook his head.

“You should probably stay here tonight, just to be on the safe side.” Happ told them.

Alec made a face but nodded. Logan didn’t do anything.

***

Punching his pillow in a vain attempt to make it fluff up more, Alec turned onto his other side. He hated being forced into inactivity and he really hated having to lie in bed when he didn’t feel the slightest bit sleepy.

It was the middle of the night and, as there wasn’t really anything wrong with either of their patients, Happ and Violet had left to go grab some sleep in Happ’s room next door to the infirmary. Logan had fallen asleep hours ago, although Alec had only been able to tell by the change in his breathing. The other man hadn’t moved from his position all evening, refusing to answer Alec’s questions or acknowledge he was even there. Alec hoped that Logan snapped out of his funk soon because the possum act was getting old quickly.

Eventually, Alec snuck out of bed in desperation and began to look for something to read. Anything would do. He’d even read the back of pill bottles if they would keep him entertained for long enough.

He was on his hands and knees underneath Violet’s desk, trying to switch out a wad of paper towels for the book she was using to level out one of the legs when he heard a soft moan. He pulled his head out and scanned the room, but there was still only him and Logan.

Getting to his feet he walked over to Logan’s bed in time to see him flail one of his hands weakly as he moaned again. The moonlight shining through the window fell across Logan’s bed and Alec could see that he was still fast asleep but his face was pulled tight as if in pain.

“Logan?” He whispered and reached out to shake Logan’s arm.

Immediately the lines on Logan’s face smoothed out and his breathing settled back into the regular pattern it had been before. Alec stood watching him for a moment, unsure whether he should still wake Logan or not, but he didn’t seem to be in distress any longer so Alec shrugged and walked back to the desk.

He’d just reached it when Logan made another noise, more of a whimper, and his legs kicked out.

“No,” he croaked, his voice barely loud enough to be a whisper, “Get off me.”

Definitely a nightmare then Alec decided and he headed to Logan’s bed to try and wake him this time. The same thing happened as before, as soon as Alec touched Logan’s arm the nightmare seemed to stop and Logan relaxed.

Curious, Alec stepped back and leaned against the wall next to Logan’s bed, watching the man intently. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before Logan began to shift around in the bed, his face full of pain as he struck out with his hands.

“Stop it! Leave us alone!” He whimpered so quietly that Alec had to strain to hear him.

That was enough. Alec shook Logan by the shoulder to try and wake him but it didn’t work. Instead Logan began to swing wildly, trying to hit whoever he was seeing in his dream. Alec grabbed his fists and held them down but that just caused Logan to start kicking at him instead, his breath coming in sharp gasps as he began panicking.

“Logan! Logan, stop it! It’s just a dream!” Alec said loudly but Logan still didn’t wake up.

By this point, Logan was fighting against him so hard that Alec climbed onto the bed to bodily hold him down. That seemed to do the trick. Logan didn’t wake up but he stopped fighting and relaxed back into the bed. He was obviously soothed by Alec’s presence and it was helping him fight off the nightmare.

Alec thought back, once again, to the way Logan had been in the van after they had both been rescued. He had let Alec lean on him, rubbing a comforting hand over his back, basically making him feel like he was safe again. Perhaps that could work for Logan now.

He climbed back off the bed, careful to keep one hand stroking Logan’s arm, and pulled back the covers. Sliding into the bed, Alec manoeuvred Logan so that he was leaning against him with his face tucked into Alec’s shoulder. That way Alec could run his hand up and down Logan’s back, mimicking what Logan had done to him. Logan made a sleepy noise and shuffled closer causing Alec to smile at the fact that it had worked.

Suddenly Logan stiffened and Alec froze, his hand pressed halfway down Logan’s back. He hadn’t really thought about what would happen if Logan woke up while Alec was still in his bed.

Logan blinked his eyes opened and raised his head. “Alec?” He whispered his confusion evident.

“Yes, Logan?” Alec whispered back. Bad idea. This had been a very bad idea.

“What are you doing?”

“Umm...helping?” Alec tried.

Logan squinted at him. “What?”

“You were having a nightmare,” Alec told him quietly, “I couldn’t wake you so I thought this might help.”

Logan didn’t say anything for a long moment, examining Alec’s face closely. Alec had begun to shift uncomfortably, desperately trying to think of a way to get out of this with his dignity still intact when Logan said, “Thank you.”

“Huh?” That wasn’t what he’d been expecting.

“Thank you,” Logan repeated, “It was a pretty nasty dream.”

Alec relaxed again now that he knew Logan wasn’t mad. “I’ll say. You almost punched me in the face. Lucky for you I have such fast reflexes.”

Logan chuckled sleepily and dropped his head back onto Alec’s shoulder.

“Do you want...Should I go?” Alec asked.

Logan was quiet for so long that Alec thought maybe he hadn’t heard the question, but then said, “Would you mind staying? Just until I fall asleep again?” Logan’s voice was very small as if he was embarrassed for asking.

Alec smiled at him. “Just don’t drool on me, I like this t-shirt.”

Logan laughed quietly again and then settled down as Alec resumed stroking his back gently.

There was silence in the room for a long time as each man got lost in his own thoughts until Logan whispered, “I dreamed we were back in the lab.”

Alec didn’t know what to say to that but it didn’t matter as Logan had already fallen back to sleep, trusting Alec to watch over him.

***

It had been a fortnight since Happ had let Logan and Alec leave the infirmary for the second time and Logan’s fingers had healed enough for the splints to be taken off causing him to once again thank the advanced healing that Joshua’s blood had given him. He could type and use a computer again which meant that he could finally help out around the place instead of watching everyone else work while he felt guilty.

He’d barely seen Max since he’d collapsed, just a couple of perfunctory conversations about what still needed to be done in TC. They’d both fallen into a routine of mutual avoidance that hadn’t gone unnoticed by the others but they were sensible enough not to comment on it; apart from Alec of course. He’d quickly figured out what was wrong but even he had only told Logan, “She was just doing what she thought was right.” before staying quiet on the matter.

Logan wasn’t really angry about it anymore. He just felt embarrassed. Max was right, she hadn’t had to do anything, Logan had just jumped to his own conclusions and it had spiralled from there. He remembered how drunk he’d been that night after he’d seen her and Alec, how he’d deliberately provoked a fight with her and then, after she’d left, toasted the end of LoganandMax before passing out on his couch.

He was starting to wonder about his actions that day. Logan trusted Max, had trusted her since the beginning so that wasn’t a logical jump for him to have taken. Normally he would’ve guessed that Alec had just crashed at her place, it wasn’t as if she had ever shown any signs of being attracted to the guy. In fact she was normally supremely irritated by him. But Logan remembered being so tired of it all. Tired of the way her face shut down when the virus raised its ugly head again and tired of the idea that he had to wait yet again until she relaxed enough to spend time with him.

Maybe he’d subconsciously pushed her into the lie because that gave him an out too and one that he could blame on someone else at that. He just knew that he needed to sort it all out in his head before he talked with her again.

Actually he needed to sort out a lot of things. Not least of them being Alec.

Logan was beginning to feel as though he’d had the guy all wrong and he didn’t like that feeling. He’d pigeonholed Alec from the start and Max’s frustrated complaining about all of Alec’s schemes and womanising had just added to the image he’d built up. But, in hindsight, Logan started to see it all as the actions of an outsider trying to fit into an already broken world. A soldier assimilating to his surroundings by copying what he saw the locals doing.

Logan only had to think back to the look on Alec’s face that night in the infirmary to remember that in some ways Alec and the other transgenics were still learning how to act. Something as simple as comforting someone when they were hurting was completely alien to them. Manticore would never have trained them to do it as it would never come up on a mission. But the fact that Alec had done it anyway, taking what Logan had done for him and repeating it, said a lot about the type of person he was becoming. The person he had maybe already become when Logan was still busy shooting him down.

Neither man had mentioned the nightmare since. Alec was already back in his own bed by the time Logan woke up the next day and was busy leering at Violet and dodging the wads of paper that Happ was shooting at him in retaliation. When he’d spotted that Logan was awake, Alec had grabbed up a handful of the scrunched paper littering his bed and started throwing them at him with a mischievous gleam in his eye that Logan refused to back down from. Thus started the Great Paper War of Terminal City; which caused Violet to throw her hands above her head and declare that they were all crazy before running out of the room under a barrage of paper missiles aimed in her direction.

It had been the beginning of a tentative friendship and since then Logan had begun to hang out with Alec quite a bit.

Someone had managed to scrounge up a pack of playing cards from somewhere and Alec had decided to set up a regular poker game. That had lasted about five days before everyone got fed up of losing their rations to him and Luke. After that Logan had taught them all how to play Go Fish and somehow still ended up losing rations but this time to Joshua who had very quickly become TC’s reigning Go Fish champion. The set up had then turned into a hodge podge of different card games every night – including an incredibly intense game of Snap between Crow and Nova that had lasted over six hours and almost ended in fisticuffs.

During the last couple of evenings the entertainment had been put on hold as the raid for medical supplies finally happened, followed the next night by a food run. Logan had stayed out of the way, it wasn’t as though he could be any help to anyone and Luke had promised to call him if anything went wrong.

Stuck in his room with nothing to do Logan had missed the lively atmosphere of the game nights. He was beginning to dread the day that Happ would give him the all clear to go back to Joshua’s, he wasn’t sure that he’d be able to stand the quiet there.

He didn’t have to think about that right now though. Right now he was back in the control room, gleefully pulling up files and hacking into databases while humming some old pre-Pulse tune under his breath. He was so caught up in the enjoyment of being back at work that it wasn’t until a coffee mug slipped right out of his hands that he realised the shakes were back. Of course once he did realise it all the other symptoms hit him like a truck. His head was pounding, everything was too warm and he was feeling a little dizzy.

“Luke?” He managed to get out. “I think I need to see Happ again.”

Luke practically ran down the stairs slung an arm around Logan and helped him out of the building, keeping up a running commentary of how Logan would be fine when Happ finished with him.

Once out on the street, the pair ran into Joshua who was holding up a similarly afflicted Alec. Logan opened his mouth to say something then suddenly realised that he felt fine again.

“Is it just me or is this new virus beginning to put a serious cramp in our day?” Alec was also looking a lot better as he straightened up from where he’d been leaning against Joshua and smoothed down the front of his shirt. He patted Joshua on the arm. “Its okay, Josh. I think I can take it from here, buddy.”

“Alec still going to see Happ?” Joshua asked with a raised eyebrow and at Alec’s nod, slapped him on the shoulder and went back the way he came.

Laughing at the way Alec rubbed his shoulder where Joshua had hit him, Logan thanked Luke for his help before he and Alec made their way to what was fast becoming their second home. Once again, Happ couldn’t find anything wrong with either of them and, at a loss, told them both to write down exactly what they had been doing in the week previous to each ‘episode’. That way if it happened again they could check for common elements.

The third time it happened Logan was asleep in his room. By the time he woke up the shaking was already too bad for him to stand let alone get help. Luckily, Alec had been helping Max and a few others clear out another office canteen which was big enough to use as a mess hall for the TC residents, rather than each person grabbing what food they could from the general supplies. When Alec started to get sick, Max had immediately taken him to Happ and sent Jazz to check on Logan. Logan hated to think of what could’ve happened if both he and Alec had been alone when it hit.

By the fourth time, Happ had a theory.

***

“What the hell are you talking about?” Alec demanded, looking back and forth between Happ and Violet.

He and Logan were sitting on one of the beds while Happ explained what he thought was going on with them.

“Whatever that nut job injected you with has somehow linked the pair of you,” Happ repeated, “I don’t know how, my best guess is that it’s altered your pheromones in some way. However it works, the fact remains that if you two are apart for more than a couple of days you get sick.”

Violet nodded, she had the lists that Logan and Alec had scribbled down in her hands. “The first couple of times we weren’t really paying attention but we do know that Alec was released two days before Logan, just before the first episode happened.”

“Can we stop calling them episodes?” Logan interrupted, “It just sounds so...” He flapped his hand as he searched for the right word.

“Girly.” Alec supplied.

Violet huffed, “Fine. Now according to what you wrote down for us the third ‘attack’ happened just after Mole and Logan had spent a couple of days bringing his equipment and other supplies here from Joshua’s house. And Alec had been working on the canteen non-stop. Did you see each other at all? Even for a moment to say hi?”

Alec rolled his eyes. “We don’t say ‘hi’.”

“Oh? Is it too girly for you?” Violet shot back.

“I don’t think we did see each other ,” Logan said, wearing what Alec personally called ‘Logan’s thoughtful face #8’. “At least I don’t remember it.”

Violet nodded and made a note on her clipboard. “And have you seen each other in the past two days?”

Alec sighed and then gave it some thought. He’d mostly spent the week sneaking out to have meetings with Sketchy and Normal. They’d been trying to see if they could organise some of the more sympathetic Seattle citizens to donate things to the Terminal City residents, which Jam Pony could then deliver. It would help a lot if they could pull it off. TC needed everything from food and the utensils to cook it with, to clothing and blankets, to building supplies. He’d usually been exhausted when he returned and just collapsed into bed.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you since I made you that fake sector pass.” Logan said to him.

Alec nodded. That had been roughly two days ago.

“But it’s just ridiculous!” He announced to the room at large, “How can a virus link us together? What would even be the point of making something like that?”

“Who knows?” Happ shrugged.

Alec looked at him incredulously. “You’re the suckiest doctor ever!”

Happ shrugged again. “That’s just it. I’m not a doctor; I’m a field medic. You get shot in the gut? I can fix you right up. A nasty bout of flu? Not a problem. This is way above my pay grade.”

Happ had a point; they had been expecting a lot from him.

“It’s times like this that I wish Sam Carr hadn’t listened to Max’s evil clone and skipped town,” Logan muttered and then scrubbed his hand over his face, “But it’s probably above his pay grade too.”

“You can try to see if anyone in TC used to assist the med techs back at Manticore ?” Happ offered. “They could have picked up some stuff, maybe know what to look for. Failing that we just play it by ear, I guess.”

Logan nodded then got to his feet. “Ok, thanks Happ. You too, Violet.”

Alec started to follow him out of the room then stopped and turned back. “That whole ‘sucky doctor’ comment won’t count me out of the threesome will it?”

“Get out!” Happ shouted.

Alec ducked the clipboard Violet threw at his head with a laugh and then ran to catch Logan up.
“So...who gets to tell Max?”

Logan looked at him. “I don’t think it would sound very good coming from me. What with the whole not talking to each other thing we’ve got going on right now.”

“You both should really get over yourselves, you know.” Alec shook his head. “If I tell her she’ll get all mad.”

“She’ll get mad either way,” Logan pointed out, “She always does when she realises that she can’t solve every problem.”

“True,” Alec agreed, “But she won’t punch you in the head.”

“Then there’s only one thing for it,” Logan said seriously, “Rock, paper, scissors.”

“Best out of three?”

Alec enjoyed it when Logan got all playful like this. It wasn’t something he showed too often as he tended to get all caught up in his one man mission to save the world.

“Dammit!” Alec cursed as he watched Logan’s hand cover his clenched fist. “Stupid rock! Fine, I’ll go and talk to her.”

Logan smirked and patted Alec on the shoulder sympathetically. “I’m going to check in with Dix. See if he managed to decipher anything from those notes after all.” Then the smile dimmed a bit. “That’s where I’ll be if Max decides that she does want to talk to me.”

After Logan wandered off Alec headed to the canteen to find Max, wondering when her and Logan were going to get past this fight.

“Hey, Dug. Have you seen our great and fearless leader?” Alec called out to the girl painting the walls a shocking shade of yellow.

“I think I preferred it when you called me ‘pretty lady’.” Max said dryly from above him.

Alec looked up at where Max stood balanced on a ladder, paintbrush in her hand. “I thought we agreed never to speak of that again. Where the hell did you find this colour paint?”

“There’s a stock room full of out of date paint cans back by the genome labs. Joshua picked this colour for in here.” Max told him as she climbed down.

“Because he’s trying to blind us all?” Alec asked.

“Because it’s bright and happy,” Dug said, “I like it.”

“Well, it’s definitely bright.” Alec muttered looking around the room before turning to Max. “Can I have a word?”

Max nodded and, after telling Dug she’d be back soon, led Alec to the empty kitchens.

“Is this about what’s going on with you and Logan?” She asked once they’d both perched themselves on the countertops. “Why you keep getting sick?”

“It’s just a theory that Happ and Violet have cooked up, but it’s the only thing we’ve got right now.”

Max nodded and gestured for him to keep going.

“They think that we get ill whenever we’re separated for too long.”

“What?” Max frowned at him.

Alec picked up a rusty spatula and started fiddling with it. “It looks like whatever they did to us means that we’re linked together somehow. Out of the four times we’ve become ill, three of them were after we didn’t see each other for more than two days.”

“And the other time?”

Alec shrugged. “It was before Happ had us writing stuff down but I think it was when we were doing those raids and Logan was sulking in his room because he couldn’t join in. In which case, it probably was about two days before I saw him.”

“That’s just stupid.” Max was shaking her head.

“That’s what I said!” Alec agreed, “But it does seem a hell of coincidence now that I think about it. Plus we do seem to get better as soon as we’re close to each other again.”

“So you’re saying that you and Logan have to be with each other all the time or you both collapse?”

“Not all the time...” Alec started, but she’d stopped listening to him.

“I mean, have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? It could only be cooked up by someone from Manticore. When are they going to stop fucking up my life?” Max was on a roll.

Alec raised an eyebrow at her. “Your life?”

“First they make it so that I had to stay away from him in case I killed him and now that we’re finally over and both have to move on; I can’t stay away from him because making him leave may kill him and you!” She gave a bitter laugh. “And isn’t that just the icing on the cake? My ex-sort of boyfriend and my ex-fake boyfriend can’t be separated.”

“Wow!” Alec blinked at her. “You and Logan really need to talk.”

He held his hand up when she tried to protest. “I’m not saying that you get back together but you need to sort this out. You’re right, Logan has to stay here until this crazy link thing is sorted out and you can’t run this place the way you need to if you’re hiding out so as not to run into him.”

“I’m not ‘hiding out'.” Max said petulantly.

“Max, you’re painting right now. Are you honestly telling me that there is nothing else you should be doing?” He tugged on a paint splattered section of her hair.

She crossed her arms. “Maybe I like painting.”

Alec just stared at her.

“Okay, fine, I hate painting,” she huffed, “I’ll talk to Logan. Happy now?”

“Very.” He bumped her shoulder with his own. “It kills you when I’m the more reasonable one, right?”

“Shut up, Alec.”

"That's what i thought."

***

“Hey.”

Logan looked up from the notes Dix had given him earlier.

“Hey you.” He returned Max’s tentative smile and nodded towards the seat opposite him. “Did Alec talk to you?”

She dropped into the chair and nodded. “And he actually made some sense.”

“What?” Logan frowned, wondering if they were talking about the same thing. He thought that Alec had gone to tell her Happ’s theory.

“I was shocked too.” She smirked, deliberately misunderstanding him. “He did tell me about the freaky link thing but he also said that we needed talk. That we couldn’t keep avoiding each other now that you’re staying indefinitely.”

“Wow that does make sense.” Logan deadpanned.

The two of them smiled at each other again, the tension of the past few weeks finally starting to ease. He reached across the table to take Max’s hand, enjoying the fact that he could do that now.

“Logan...” She started but he shook his head.

“I know. We can’t be together; I get it .” He smiled ruefully . “Maybe if we’d actually done something that first year...”

Max squeezed his hand. “And maybe if I hadn’t been recaptured by Manticore...”

“And maybe if they didn’t give you that retrovirus...”

“And maybe if that one cure had worked for more than twelve hours...”

“And maybe if you hadn’t started dating Alec...oh no, wait...” Logan chuckled ruefully when Max smacked his arm.

“I am sorry that I lied to you.” she said sadly.

He shrugged. “I think I was lying to myself, actually. That way I had a bad guy to blame for it being over.”

“Alec does make a good bad guy,” she agreed, “Although not so much these days. I think our little boy’s all grown up.”

Logan barked out a laugh. “Oh god. Please don’t talk about him like that. I don’t want to claim responsibility for Alec.”

Max giggled. “Aww, are you saying that you don’t want to ask Normal what his intentions are towards him?”

It took several minutes before their laughter died down and Logan felt a weight lift from his shoulders. As much as he’d been in love with Max they had always been friends first and even though they had both agreed that it was over between them he was glad that they’d get to keep that first essential part.

Things felt a lot more normal for them after that and Max helped him look over the notes on the table, pointing out any formulas she recognised from her research into their own virus. Basically it looked like Dix had been right. Nothing made sense; it was a random mix of formulas and equations jumbled together with no foundation. Or, in Dix’s words, the crazed scribblings of a mad man; which fit with what Logan remembered of the guy.

“Hey Logan, Luke needs you to help him with something,” Alec called, walking into the room. He stopped and raised his eyebrows when he saw Logan and Max together. “I’ll tell him you’re busy.”

“It’s okay; I think we’ve hit a dead end here anyway.” Logan gestured the scattered papers.

Max stood up. “And I should probably check in with the control room so I’ll walk with you.”

Alec eyed them both. “So...you two are okay again? It’s about damn time!”

Max pushed past him, smacking the back of his head as she went. Logan chuckled and followed behind the bickering pair.

Once they reached the control room, Logan quickly found himself immersed in Luke’s latest project; setting up additional cameras around Terminal City’s perimeters, specifically ones that looked out over the barricades. Luke, Crow and Jazz went to hook up the new cameras while Logan, Alec and Max checked over the screens and told the others what adjustments in placement were needed.

The six of them were so caught up in an argument over the comms about whether one of the cameras should point directly at the Sector Police’s camp or take a more general view, that nobody noticed Sofie enter the room behind them. Not until she placed her hands on the top of Logan’s arms and pressed up behind him.

“Umm...Sofie...?” Logan said, unsure of what was going on.

At his voice the other two stopped arguing and turned to look at Sofie who was now beginning to rub up against Logan’s back, murmuring to him about how good he looked.

“Oh shit! She’s in heat!” Max said and quickly moved behind Sofie to pull her off Logan.

“No!” Sofie cried and struggled to get free of Max’s grip her arms reaching for Logan again.

As Logan turned Alec moved to block Sofie from reaching Logan again, his face like thunder. “You should’ve gone to Violet as soon as this started.” He growled and then stepped back as Sofie started reaching for him instead.

“I’ll get her to the infirmary.” Max told them.

The single X5 females had set up a system where Violet watched over and helped them through their heat without letting them do anything they’d regret.

Max winced as Sofie jabbed an elbow into her. “Don’t think I won’t knock you out to get you to Violet, Sofie.”

“Just get her the hell out of here, Max.” Alec batted Sofie’s hands away from him.

Logan was watching the proceedings wide-eyed. He obviously knew that the female X5s went through this but he’d never actually seen it for himself. They usually either locked themselves up in the room Violet had set up next to the infirmary or they stayed indoors with their boyfriends. It must’ve taken Sofie by surprise this time for her to wandering through TC in that uncontrolled state.

Eventually Max managed to wrestle Sofie out of the room and Logan could hear her pleading with Max to let her go back as they walked away. Alec stayed where he was, facing the door with his back to Logan. He seemed to be breathing harder than normal and Logan began to get concerned.

“Alec, are you okay?” Logan put his hand on one of Alec’s shoulders.

Alec immediately spun around and stepped closer to Logan with a dangerous look in his eye. “She can’t have you.”

“What? Alec?” asked Logan as he took an uneasy step backwards for every step that Alec took towards him.

Alec didn’t answer, just kept advancing until Logan’s back hit the wall.

“Alec, what’s going...” Logan trailed off in surprise as Alec pressed bodily against him and pushed his face into Logan’s neck.

“Smell so good .” Alec whispered as he started to nuzzle that spot.

Logan tried to push Alec away but Alec just grabbed his hands and pinned them to the wall above his head.

“Snap out of it, Alec. Let me go!” Logan said loudly, struggling to get free from Alec’s grip.

Alec raised his head and glared at Logan. “You’re mine, understand? She can’t have you.”

Logan had no idea what was going on. “Who? Sofie?”

Alec growled and moved his face closer to Logan’s. “You’re mine.”

“Okay, fine. I’m yours.” Logan tried playing along. “Now why don’t you let me go and we can talk about...oh god!” He broke off with a moan as Alec began to suck a particularly sensitive spot at the juncture of Logan’s neck and shoulder.

Logan frantically shook his head trying to clear it . He shouldn’t be starting to enjoy this. Alec was obviously under the influence of something; maybe Sofie’s increased pheromones had triggered some sort of reaction. But as Alec continued to lick and suck at that spot on Logan’s neck he was forgetting why they shouldn’t be doing this and had started rocking up against Alec instead.

“Alec!” Logan gasped loudly as the other man suddenly bit down hard, sending a wave of pleasurepain shooting through Logan’s body.

Alec raised his head with a slightly bloodstained grin and surged forward to cover Logan’s mouth with his own.

Logan’s head was spinning; nothing else mattered but Alec’s lips moving against his, his tongue rubbing so sensually against Logan’s, the feel of Alec’s body pressed against his own. Logan gave himself over to the feeling completely, happy to let Alec take whatever he wanted.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

He dimly heard a voice in the background but didn’t care, just continued kissing Alec back as if he was starving for it until all of a sudden Alec was gone.

Logan blinked. The haze lifted and he looked at the sight of Alec unconscious on the floor with Max standing over him, her fist still clenched.

“What the hell was that?” She demanded angrily.

Logan looked from Alec to her and back again. “I have absolutely no idea.”

***

Alec groaned as he woke up. His head and jaw hurt and, from look of the ceiling above him, he was back in the infirmary again.

“Morning, Sunshine.” Happ’s overly chirpy voice interrupted Alec’s struggle to remember what had happened this time.

He turned his head towards the voice and saw Happ and Logan rushing towards him while Max leant against Violet’s desk with a dark look on her face.

“How are you feeling?” Logan asked him with ‘Logan’s concerned face #3’.

Alec opened his mouth to answer but a rush of want washed over him.

“Logan.” He hissed instead then reached for the other man, pulling him onto the bed and rolling him so that he was pinned underneath Alec's body.

When had Logan started to smell so good? Alec felt like he couldn’t get enough of it or the way Logan’s tongue twined with his own when Alec crushed their mouths together. He groaned as he felt Logan’s hand clutching the back of Alec’s shirt, pulling him closer.

“They’re doing it again!”

“I can see that thank you, Max.”

He ignored the voices, they weren’t important, and started to mouth across Logan’s jaw and down his neck finally reaching his mark and giving it a possessive lick. Logan gave a delicious whimper at that which had Alec returning to his mouth for another mind blowing kiss. Who knew that Logan was so good at this?

The next thing he knew there were hands on him, pulling him back while another set of hands were moving Logan off the bed. Alec struggled against the hold on him, wanting to follow after Logan but just as quickly as the want had descended it lifted again leaving Alec lying limply in Max’s arms.

“What was that?” He asked, completely confused as to what was happening.

“We were hoping you could tell us.” Max shoved Alec off her and went back to her spot by Violet’s desk to glower at him.

Alec looked over to Logan who’d been moved across the room by Happ. He looked just as puzzled as Alec felt.

“Oh god. Did I...in the control room, was I...?” Alec stammered as the memories came flooding back.

He’d held Logan against the wall and kissed him. Bitten him.

“Alec it’s alright ,” Logan told him , “You weren’t in control. I know that.”

“You knocked me out?” He asked Max who nodded shortly. He nodded back in thanks, who knew how far he would’ve gone if she hadn’t stepped in. The thought of forcing anyone like that made him feel nauseous.

“So, is this some sort of male heat thing?” Max asked Happ. “Can I expect a load of X5 males prowling the streets now?”

“Well, apart from the fact that male cats don’t go into heat; we would’ve noticed by now if it was something like that,” Happ told her, “I’m guessing that it’s got something to do with this virus that’s in Alec and Logan but I really don’t know for sure.”

Alec dropped his head into his hands. This was just getting better and better.

“It’s obviously triggered when Logan gets near to Alec so if we keep them apart...” Violet tried.

“And what happens in two days?” Max was still sounding royally pissed off but at least she wasn’t glaring at Alec anymore so he guessed she’d focused her anger on the virus instead.

“I’ve no idea!” Happ practically yelled, “I haven’t seen anything like this before. I doubt anyone has seen anything like this before. All I know is that Alec’s somehow claimed Logan. I don’t know why, I don’t know how and I don’t know what we can do about it!”

“Wait, what?” Alec yelped, “Claimed him?”

“Of course you’ve claimed him!” Happ was at the most agitated that anyone had seen him. “You were sexually aggressive, you marked him by biting him and Logan said you kept telling him that he was yours! It’s basic animal instinct, Alec. Probably something cooked up in your DN...A...”

Happ stopped talking and stared into the distance.

“Umm...Happ, baby?” Violet was looking at him with some concern.

“I need to talk to Dix!” Happ suddenly announced and ran out of the room.

Violet shrugged when everyone turned to her. “Don’t look at me. He doesn’t normally do that.”

“Great, so now everyone’s acting weird,” Max muttered, “I’m going to check how things are going with the cameras. Someone should make sure that Crow hasn’t scratched Luke’s eyes out yet.” She turned to leave.

“Max?” She paused as Alec spoke. “I’m sorry.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him. “I know.” She said quietly then pushed out of the doors.

Silence reigned for a few uncomfortable moments before Alec forced himself to meet Logan’s eyes. He expected to find some sort of recrimination there, after all he had tried to force himself on the man – twice – but all he saw was understanding.

They were in this together.

“So...nice weather we’ve been having.” Logan said and Alec began to laugh.

***

Settled on a bed at the opposite end of the room from Alec, Logan was regaling him with stories of his wayward college years while Alec laughed and teased him. And if Alec’s eyes sometimes darkened as they strayed to where he knew his bite mark was hidden under Logan’s shirt or if Logan occasionally shifted on the bed after the material of his shirt brushed over that bite mark and sent a spark through him, then neither of them commented on it.

Violet was busying herself by doing an inventory of the medical supplies, telling Alec and Logan not to mind her and that she was only staying to make sure they kept a respectful distance...or to watch two hot guys getting it on if they didn’t. The salacious wink she’d given Logan had made him blush furiously much to Alec’s amusement.

Happ eventually returned with Dix hot on his heels. Max entered a couple of moments later, obviously having been summoned by the first two. Logan was pleased to note that she perched herself at the end of Alec’s bed silently showing him that she didn’t blame him for what was going on despite how she’d initially reacted.

“We have a theory.” Happ announced.

Logan couldn’t help giving a small smile at Alec’s overdramatic groan.

“Hey, you can moan all you like but theories are the best we can do at this point.” Happ pointed out while Max smacked Alec’s leg.

“Sorry doc,” Alec said in a very unapologetic way, “Please do continue.”

Happ rolled his eyes. “Okay, firstly we think that whatever the experiment was, it probably went wrong. You know, because the scientist in charge was mad as a hatter.”

“Well that’s a good start.” Logan muttered then held up his hands apologetically when Happ and Dix glared at him.

“The notes that we’ve both read over mention targeting specific gene sequences a few times,” Dix reminded Logan, “Now the times that it’s mentioned the formulas in question are for completely different gene strands and get vastly different results but it’s the only thing mentioned more than once so it’s probably safe to assume that’s what he was trying to do. Happ has previously mentioned the possibility of altered pheromones as an answer for why you suddenly needed to be around each other and I agree with him on that.”

“Okay, let’s say that’s correct,” Max nodded, “How the hell would that work?”

“If a specific gene strand got mutated then it would cause the people with that mutated strand to emit a unique pheromone. They would then be subconsciously attracted to each other’s presence,” Happ answered, “If the pheromone was strong enough then it could actually be addictive, which would explain the withdrawal when they’re separated for a certain length of time.”

“So you’re saying that I’m...addicted...to Alec?” Logan asked.

Happ gave a mirthless laugh. “Oh that’s just the beginning.”

“We think that the pheromone then reacted with something in Alec’s DNA cocktail. Possibly wolf or coyote DNA.” Dix said.

“Coyote? Let’s go with wolf, that’s far cooler.” Alec said, earning himself another smack from Max.

“I said possibly,” Dix reminded Alec, “But it would have to be one of the more aggressive of the animals that choose their mate by scent.”

Logan closed his eyes briefly; he could see where this was going. “So whatever it is in Alec’s DNA it smelled this new pheromone we have and decided that I was his mate.”

Happ nodded. “And considering that you have so much transgenic blood in you ‘fixing’ things then something there has responded to his signals. Or, you know, his blatant jumping of you.”

Alec threw his pillow at Happ’s head. “Why didn’t this happen from the start then?”

“It probably has been happening but in small ways because these particular parts of your make up aren’t as overt as say, the X5s feline DNA or Joshua’s canine DNA. It’s in the background to be used for achieving a smaller task, like the shark helping Max stay awake for long missions,” Dix answered, “The reason it came to the forefront in such an aggressive manner was because your hold on your mate was threatened by Sofie. That’s when you had to claim Logan for everyone to see.”

Logan unconsciously touched a finger to the bite as Max said, “That actually kind of makes sense. For us anyway.”

“So how do we stop it?” Alec asked, folding his arms across his chest.

Dix and Happ looked at each other helplessly.

“We can’t.” Happ said.

Logan dropped his head back against the wall behind his bed with a thunk. How the hell did this stuff keep happening to him?

“We don’t have the facilities to study it let alone the experience with genetic research.” Dix shook his head apologetically. “The only man who could maybe create an antidote is, well, crazy. He probably doesn’t even know what his formula did, so I highly doubt he could fix it.”

“Are you saying that we’re stuck not being able to get close to each other yet having to get close to each other at least every other day?” Alec demanded.

“Until the mating is completed.” Happ said quietly.

“Completed?” Max’s voice sounded strangled.

They may have come to some sort of peace about their breakup but it had been less than a day since that had happened. Being faced with the prospect of seeing Logan with someone else so soon and in these circumstances had to be hurting her. Not to mention the fact that, knowing Max, she was still feeling that self imposed guilt about letting Alec and Logan get captured in the first place; agonising over the decisions she’d made as a leader that had led to this.

Logan wanted to walk over and comfort her but considering her current proximity to Alec that probably wasn’t the best urge to indulge in.

“Like I said earlier, it’s basic animal instinct. Alec’s made his claim and they both need to see that claim through to its conclusion.” Happ explained.

“Okay...so theoretically me and Logan have sex and then all of this is over.” Alec refused to look in Logan’s direction as he spoke, barely raising his head at all.

“I think that most animals of this kind mate for life, Alec.” Logan said, struggling to keep his voice steady.

Alec’s head shot up and he looked at Logan wide eyed. “Well, fuck!” He swore.

Logan sighed. He couldn’t agree more.

***

“Godammit!” Alec cursed, punching his hand straight through the wall of the room. He pulled his hand free and stared at the hole it had left behind. He guessed that’s where his new bedroom door was going to go.

Max had pulled Alec off active duty until the situation with Logan had been resolved so he figured that it was as good a time as any to move into the newly designated apartment block. Alec had claimed two corner offices on the top floor to make his own. Both of the offices had luxury sofas which Alec could adapt to make one large bed and even better they both had washrooms. With a bit of work he could get a decent sized bathroom out of them. And there was nothing like good, honest work to take your mind off the fact that you had to have sex with a guy who wouldn’t have chosen to be with you if you were the last person on earth and then, once you’d done that, be permanently bonded to that guy, hurting a good friend in the process.

Alec dropped onto one of the sofas and put his head in his hands. He’d be lucky to get out of this with Max still talking to him; she’d barely been able to look him in the eye since that meeting in the infirmary. Sure, she claimed that she knew it wasn’t Alec’s fault and that she and Logan were over anyway but Logan was her first love; this had to be killing her. As for Logan...well, thinking about Logan made Alec start putting his fists through walls. Hadn’t the poor guy already been through enough because of them?

“It’s an interesting technique but I still think a sledgehammer might be more effective.”

Alec lifted his head to see Crow leaning in the office doorway - or Alec’s apartment doorway as it was now - and staring at the hole in the wall. Alec shrugged and turned away, slouching back into the sofa.

“Wow, no quick quips? No indiscriminate flirting? That’s got to be a first.” Crow raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“Not in the mood, Crow.” Alec muttered. “Did I invite you in?” He asked as Crow pulled a chair around to face him.

“Nope,” Crow acknowledged as he sat down, “Now talk.”

Alec huffed. “You mean you haven’t heard?”

“This is TC, handsome.” Crow laughed. “Of course I’ve heard. You’d think that people trained in covert ops would gossip less but...”

Alec had to agree with that, they were worse than Sketchy. “So if you already know then what do you want me to talk about?”

Crow pulled a bottle from his coat pocket took a long drink and passed it over. “Why you’re acting like the world is about to end. I would’ve thought that the prospect of some hot sex and the knowledge there will be more of that sex in the future would actually be a good thing. I mean, I know that it’s because of that whatever the hell it is of yours but still...there could be worse outcomes.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Alec took a sip from the bottle, coughing as it burned going down his throat. “What is this? Paint thinner? Christ!”

Crow took on a superior air, the light glinting off the black scales covering his head which most people mistook for some kind of feathery haircut at first but could actually be pulled in to make a helmet of sorts. “I’ll have you know that that is from the inaugural batch of TC’s very first still. Me, Trace and Mole set it up in one of the labs. Too strong for your delicate palate?” His dark eyes glinted with amusement.

“No ,” Alec rasped , “It just needs to be aged a bit. Like fifty years or so.” He sniffed at the liquid and then took another sip. It was no smoother going down this time either.

Crow chuckled. “It’ll grow on you. Now stop changing the subject. Why so blue, green eyes?”

Alec sighed. “It’s Logan. If it was anyone else but him...”

“You don’t like him?” Crow frowned. “I thought you were getting on better these days.”

“Since we were captured, right? It’s the stuff they injected us with. He doesn’t really like me; he’s just been made to.” Alec took another drink. The stuff was still awful but maybe he’d feel better if he was drunk.

“So your problem isn’t that you don’t like him. It’s that he doesn’t like you.” Crow looked thoughtful. “And now you think that he’s being forced into mating with you against his will?”

“Exactly.” Alec pointed at him. “And he’s going to be stuck with me and stuck living in this shithole when he wants to be out there saving the world and rescuing damsels in distress.”

Alec jumped to his feet and stalked over to the window, staring out of it unseeingly. “He deserves so much better than all this crap.”

“Have you asked him?”

Alec spun around and fixed Crow with an incredulous look.

Crow held his hands up. “You can talk if you don’t get too close or, at least, that’s what I heard. So ask him what he wants.”

“I know he doesn’t want this!” Alec insisted.

How do you know?” Crow asked, “Listen, nowhere in what you’ve been saying to me did you mention that you didn’t want this and you should be. I know I was joking about the hot sex earlier but...” he sighed. “This is a shitty thing to happen Alec. We all think so. The end of Manticore was supposed to mean that we got to make our own choices about everything. That’s why we’re making this stand here; because we chose to. This is taking one of those choices away from you and you should be pissed off about that but you’re not.

“I came in here to get you drunk, all prepared to listen to you bitch and moan about how unfair it all was on you. How you don’t deserve it; because you really don’t, Alec. So don’t you think that it may mean something that you’re more concerned about Logan? That you’re worried about him not wanting you? I hate to say this but your choice is already gone, cupcake, you’ve got to make the best of a bad situation and maybe Logan’s thinking the same way as you.” With that Crow walked over, snatched the bottle out of Alec’s hand and took a large mouthful.

Alec was too busy gaping at Crow to protest at the loss of alcohol. He’d never heard him talk like that. Crow cracked jokes and camped it up, flirting with anything vaguely male shaped - unless they were on mission and then all he loved to do was kick ass and take names. He wasn’t the type of person to get all deep and meaningful.

Could he be right though? It hadn’t even occurred to Alec to think that he may not want this. Maybe because he did want this. He wanted to feel Logan’s body under his again, he wanted to lick over his mark and know that the other man belonged to him, he wanted...Logan.

“Oh god!” Alec sagged back against the window as the realisation hit him. “No, it’s just the...stuff. It’s not really me.”

“At this point does it matter? Either you want Logan or the whatever it is...” Crow made a vague shape in the air, still holding the bottle. “Is making you want Logan. Either way, you want him and it’s not going to go away. So if he wants you too, you could have a real chance to be happy.”

“But it’s not real.” Alec whispered.

Crow pinned him with a piercing look. “It’s as real as you want it to be, sweetheart. However you got there.”

Alec felt his heart trip at that. A chance to be happy. To be happy with Logan.

“I could kiss you on the mouth.” He smiled for the first time since he’d heard Happ and Dix’s theory.

Crow laughed loudly. “I don’t really think Logan is the sharing type but thanks for the thought.” He winked. “What are you still doing here? Go find your man.”

Go find Logan. Right. Alec nodded to himself. But what if he didn’t feel the same way? What if he did?

“I think I need a decent drink first. But failing that...” Alec sat down on the sofa next to Crow and grabbed the bottle. He winced at the burning sensation as he drank. “This stuff needs a name.”

“I was just going to stick with ‘moonshine',” Crow said, “It is a classic.”

“How about Transgenic Catpiss? Wait, that sounds like some X5s took a whizz in a bottle.” Alec grimaced.

Crow nodded. “But it does have the whole ‘TC’ initials thing going for it. Maybe something like Totally Craptastic...”

Alec snorted in amusement and then was quiet for a moment. “What do I do about Max, Crow?”

“Alec, if anyone understands about the fucked up stuff Manticore scientists put us through its Max,” Crow told him, “She’ll get past it. She might not get completely over it but this day was going to come sooner or later if they weren’t together. Besides, I could always play matchmaker again, I seem to be good at it. What do you think of her and Nova?”

Alec chuckled. “She’d eat him alive.”

“Hmm, but what a way to go.”

***

A lot of years had passed since Logan last read ‘Wuthering Heights’ and he’d forgotten how boring it was. He sighed, or maybe it was the fact that he was having trouble concentrating and kept having to read the same page over and over again. If that was the case then he should probably be glad that Joshua hadn’t brought any Tolkien to TC, some treasured memories should be kept intact.

He dropped the book onto his chest and stared at the ceiling above his bed, his thoughts drifting to Alec again. The X5 had looked so defeated when Happ had let them go that it had pulled at Logan’s heartstrings, reminding him of when he had seen Alec in so much pain at the labs. He’d decided then that he’d be willing to put up with anything to make it stop; was he willing to do the same now?

Yes, he was.

Logan was through lying to himself; that had only caused him more pain. He wanted Alec, had wanted him since that first kiss. Maybe even before then - since he’d woken from that nightmare to find Alec taking care of him - he just hadn’t recognised it for what it was. Realistically he knew that what he was feeling was a by product of the experiment he’d been subjected to but he couldn’t bring himself to care. It had opened his eyes to the man Alec really was and Logan couldn’t regret that.

He did regret that it was hurting Max and he wished that there was something he could do to alleviate that for her but there wasn’t; the only thing that would do that was time. But she wouldn’t be alone forever; she’d finally let her ever-present guard down when she let all these new people into her life and Logan believed that meant her heart was more open to new people too.

So his main concern right now was Alec.

Alec had never made any bones about living his life to the fullest, experiencing everything and everyone that he could. But that was the old Alec; he’d changed a lot since then, since taking on so many new responsibilities. Logan knew that Alec still flirted with everyone he met but how much of that was just talk nowadays?

The main question was had Alec changed enough to want a relationship that lasted beyond one night or was the thought of being tied down to one person for the rest of his life the reason for the depression Logan had witnessed earlier?

If it was the latter then Logan was willing to work with some sort of plan. Maybe they could meet up in the infirmary every other day with people around them to make sure they didn’t get close enough for the claim to exert its hold on them - or pull them apart if it did. It would certainly make life a lot more difficult but Logan had already decided that he would do what it took to help Alec.

If it was the former, of course, that led to more questions. If Alec did want a relationship, would he want that with Logan? Did Logan want that with Alec? Again Logan thought back to the night Alec had been in his infirmary bed and decided that the answer was yes. He wanted to keep falling asleep in Alec’s arms; he wanted to teach him all the things that Manticore hadn’t about comfort and companionship and see the same pleased look in Alec’s eyes as he learned those lessons.

Of course all of these questions meant nothing if he didn’t have any concrete answers and they couldn’t just wait until the two days were up. Any decisions made then would be made under the influence of the claim. They needed to have a game plan set into place before that happened.
Logan got out of bed and grabbed his jacket. He and Alec needed to talk.

The cold night air caused Logan to walk quickly to the new apartment building where Joshua said Alec had moved to. Outside the building he ran into Crow who was just leaving.

“Hey there, hot stuff. Going to see Alec?” Crow asked, with a smug grin on his face for some reason. Logan guessed it was probably because everyone in TC must’ve heard about what was going on with him and Alec by now.

He nodded. “I figured we needed to talk.”

“Brave man,” Crow replied, looking him up and down, “You probably need some dutch courage first.”

Crow pulled a bottle from his pocket and passed it to Logan who gratefully took a swig from it. He immediately spat most of it back out. “Good god, what is that?”

“Totally Craptastic.” Crow laughed, taking the bottle back.

“You can say that again.” Logan spluttered, the little he’d swallowed burning the back of his throat.

“It’s the first Terminal City brewed alcohol,” Crow told him tartly, “Pretty soon you’ll all be lining up to get your hands on some.”

Logan shook his head. “I wouldn’t count on it, Crow.”

“We’ll see.”Crow gave him an imperious look. “Anyway, your boy is on the top floor. Turn right out of the stairwell, last door at the end. Oh and don’t worry, I’ll take care of Max.”

Crow was already around the corner and gone before Logan could ask what that meant. He looked up the side of the building. Top floor, huh? Logan wished he’d brought his exo-skeleton with him; it would’ve made the climb a little easier.

He was almost halfway up the stairwell when he recognised someone singing above him, headed down the steps.

“Alec?”

The singing stopped. “Logan? What are you doing here?”

Logan shuffled his feet; he probably shouldn’t have just shown up like this. “I was on my way to talk to you actually but if you’re headed out somewhere...”

“No!” Alec exclaimed quickly, “I was coming to see you. You know, to talk.”

“Ahh,” Logan said, then after a bit of awkward silence, “We probably shouldn’t talk here, why don’t you head back to your apartment and I’ll wait a few minutes and follow?”

“Okay, good idea.” There was the sound of Alec’s footsteps running back the way he came.

When Logan finally reached Alec’s new apartment the door was open and Logan could see Alec standing on the opposite side of the room.

“There should be enough space between us that you can come in, as long as you stay close to the wall on that side.” Alec told him.

Logan walked in and closed the door behind him, leaning on the wall next to it. “Hi.”

“Hey.” Alec smiled then tilted his head as he studied Logan. “Have you been crying?”

Logan’s eyes widened. “What? No! I ran into Crow outside and...”

“Let me guess, Totally Craptastic?” Alec chuckled.

Logan nodded. “It really is. I almost licked the wall to get rid of the taste in my mouth.”

“Here.” Alec chucked him a pack of mints. “I’m way ahead of you.”

“Thank you.” Said Logan reverently, pushing a piece into his mouth and chewing as fast as he could.

Alec leaned on the wall behind him, mirroring Logan’s pose. “So...you wanted to talk?”

“I thought that we should figure out what we’re going to do,” Logan told him, “We can’t just wait the two days out and hope it goes away.”

“Okay.” Alec was keeping his face blank so Logan couldn’t tell what he was thinking. “What do you suggest?”

Logan opened his mouth to speak in the same businesslike manner that Alec had taken but then decided to change tack. “Did you know that I saw you? Back at that lab. They’d lowered the amount of sedatives in me and I watched them inject you with that crap.”

Alec lowered his eyes and his shoulders slumped a little. “I remember seeing you looking at me just as I blacked out but I wasn’t sure...I hoped that it had been like before when you hadn’t really seen me, you know? Just some vague person in the next room.”

“Yeah,” Logan’s voice was quiet as he thought back, “It killed me watching them do that to you. I thought to myself that I would do anything to make it end.” He gave a small laugh. “I even thought that I would watch you and Max kissing and be fine about it as long as it got them to stop, but I guess I didn’t really need to worry about that so much.”

Alec was staring at him, shock written on his face. “You thought that? Really? But you didn’t even like me back then.”

“But that’s just my point, Alec. I was so blinded by Max and what I’d lost that I made you into this bad guy who stole her away from me and even then I couldn’t stand to watch you in pain. Now that we’re friends and I know just what type of guy you really are that’s doubly so.” Logan’s face was earnest, trying to get Alec to understand. “So whatever it takes to keep that from happening is fine with me. If we need to meet a few times a week with people holding us back, I’ll do it. Or if you need to complete the mating, I can do that too. Just don’t make me watch you hurting like that again; it takes me right back there.”

Alec didn’t say anything, just stared at Logan with that unreadable expression back on his face. Logan held his gaze as long as he could but felt his emotions breaking through so dropped his head and looked at the carpet instead.

“And what type of guy am I really?” Alec finally asked in a toneless voice.

Logan looked back up, searching Alec’s face to no avail. “The type who cares about everyone in this place; you listen to them and their ideas, you joke with them and make them feel like they belong. You’re the type that puts up with months of snarky comments and evil looks from an idiot because a friend asked you to pretend to be the type who would steal another guy’s girl.”
Logan raised an eyebrow at Alec who gave an amused huff.

“You’re the type of guy who would comfort someone else even when you thought they didn’t like you. You stand up for what’s right and fight to keep everyone safe, Alec.” Logan smirked slightly. “Of course, you’re also the type of guy who cheats at poker, teaches Joshua swear words and has tried to persuade every pregnant person in TC that they should name their baby ‘hat stand’ in order to win a bet with Sketchy. But you can’t have everything.”

Alec started to laugh. “Were you there when Joshua told Mole to watch out for those sneaky motherfuckers?”

Logan nodded and laughed too. “I thought Max was going to kill you.”

Alec‘s chuckling tapered off and he looked at Logan intently. “You really think all that stuff about me?”

He sounded so surprised that it made Logan’s heart break a little. He could only nod and let his face show Alec how much he meant it.

“You said that you’d do whatever I chose to do but I need to know that if it was up to you - without any this whole stopping me from being in pain nobility crap you’ve suddenly come up with - if it was your choice, which option would you want?” Alec asked.

“I’d want you. For as long as I can have you.” Logan replied instantly.

***

Alec’s first thought was Oh god, Crow was right. He’s going to hold this over me for months. Then he thought Oh my god, Crow was right. Logan wants to have sex with me. Followed by, He doesn’t just want to have sex with me; Logan wants to be with me.

Alec stood there in silence blinking at Logan for so long that doubt began to creep into the other man’s eyes and Alec could almost see the backpedalling that was about to come stammering out of his mouth. Alec didn’t want that to happen; he couldn’t let that happen so he blurred, running the short distance across the room so that he was standing millimetres from Logan’s face.

He felt the want start but pushed it back long enough for a huge grin steal over his face as he said, “Me too. I want that too.”

“Thank god for that.” Logan muttered but he had an answering smile on his own face as he slid his hand to the back of Alec’s neck and pulled him in.

It had been just over half a day since Alec had pulled Logan into his bed in the infirmary but it felt like weeks since he had felt Logan’s lips against his. He sucked and nipped at Logan’s lower lip swallowing the tiny gasps that produced before sliding his tongue into the luscious wet warmth of Logan’s mouth.

Alec placed his hands flat on Logan’s chest pushing them up until they were on his shoulders. He brushed his thumb deliberately over the bite mark on Logan’s neck before pushing his jacket off. Logan whimpered into his mouth at the touch on his neck; he’d been passively accepting Alec’s kisses until that point but he suddenly pushed forward, hungrily exploring Alec’s mouth and, there, that was the Logan that Alec needed to see.

Placing one hand on the small of Logan’s back, Alec pulled him tighter against him while his other hand tangled itself in Logan’s hair, forcing his head back and baring his throat. He placed open mouthed kisses along Logan’s jaw, dropping to suck and bite gently at his Adam’s apple. Logan’s groan reverberated through him and Alec’s hips twitched forward at the sound. Alec’s fingers began undoing the buttons on Logan’s shirt as his mouth moved to cover his mark. The mark that let everyone know that Logan was his, now and always. He licked and sucked at it, feeling a rush of possessiveness, as Logan’s head fell back against the wall.

“Alec...god...” Logan moaned.

Once he had the mark to his liking, Alec returned to Logan’s mouth but paused to catch Logan’s eye first. “Who do you belong to?”

Logan eyes glazed over slightly at the hint of growl in Alec’s voice. “You, Alec.”

“Damn right.” Alec moved to close the gap but Logan stopped him with a hand on his chest.

“Who do you belong to?”

Alec smirked and raised an eyebrow, liking the fact that the other man wasn’t the type to just lay back and take it; that would be far less fun. “You.”

Logan smirked back. “Just so long as we understand each other.”

“Less talking.” Alec murmured against Logan’s lips before he dove back in for another soul searing kiss.

His fingers still fumbled trying to get those buttons out of the way but before he could Logan pushed Alec’s t-shirt up, forcing Alec to let go long enough to remove it.

“So not fair,” he complained, returning instantly to the job in hand, “I’ve got buttons to deal with.”

“Less talking.” Logan flung back at him before leaning forward and catching one of Alec’s nipples in his mouth.

Alec gasped loudly, his hand coming up to clutch at the back of Logan’s head as Logan rolled the nipple in his mouth, alternatively biting then soothing it with his tongue. Alec’s breath was coming in short gasps by the time Logan kissed across to the other nipple to subject it to the same treatment. Then he began kissing down Alec’s chest, dropping to his knees as his fingers worked at opening Alec’s jeans. Logan lapped at Alec’s belly button as he pushed the jeans and boxers down and out of the way and then took a detour to suck at Alec’s inner thigh, leaving his own mark where no one could see it; a private thing for the two of them alone and the very idea of that had Alec groaning and leaning forward onto the wall to keep his balance.

Logan chuckled against Alec’s skin and Alec was about to make a sarcastic remark when Logan suddenly moved and licked a stripe along the underside of his cock.

“Logan! Fuck!” Alec cried, his legs threatening to buckle.

Logan looked up at him through his eyelashes, smirk firmly in place, before letting Alec’s cock slip into his mouth with almost excruciating slowness. Alec could only stare transfixed at the sight, ruthlessly tamping down on the urge to move as his mate continued to tease him, until finally it got to be too much and Alec reached down hauling Logan to his feet.

Alec kicked away his remaining clothing from his feet and ankles and then propelled Logan over to the sofa, pushing him down onto it and straddling him.

“My turn.” He purred as he gazed hungrily down at the thoroughly debauched looking Logan.

He pulled apart the remainder of Logan’s shirt, buttons pinging softly as they hit the wall, and smiled at Logan’s laughter. Logan decided to help at that point, probably to save the rest of his clothes from the same treatment, and soon he was deliciously naked and all laid out for Alec to play with.

Alec had expected this first mating to be quick, expected that the need would overwhelm him and demand that Alec take his mate ‘now!’ but it wasn’t like that at all. He didn’t know if it was because Logan was so obviously on board or because there were no immediate threats to the mating nearby but that want from before was just thrumming under Alec’s skin instead of taking over.

So Alec decided to take advantage of this by taking the time to learn his mate’s body, teasing Logan and marking him with playful bites as he went. Discovering what made Logan shudder, what made him moan so hard that Alec had to return to his mouth just to taste it and what made him clutch desperately at Alec’s back. Alec also discovered just how ticklish Logan was at one certain spot along the side of his ribcage when Logan squirmed so violently that he spilled Alec onto the floor.

Chuckling breathlessly, Alec climbed back to his feet and then felt the laughter catch in his throat as he took in the sight before him. Logan looked beautiful; his lips swollen and red, his pupils blown and glinting with amusement as he laughed freely. That gorgeous body, so much more toned than he’d ever revealed with those baggy clothes he wore.

And he was all Alec’s.

The want suddenly stopped thrumming and flared brightly in him.

Logan gasped as he felt it too. “Lube. In my jeans back pocket.”

Alec grabbed Logan’s jeans off the floor and fished out the small tube before falling on Logan, possessing his mouth while Logan grabbed at every part of Alec he could reach, as if he could pull him into his very being.

Reaching down with one slicked hand Alec kept his other hand stroking up and down Logan’s side to soothe him. “Relax, sweetheart.”

“Sweetheart?” Logan questioned, forcing his body to do as Alec said.

“What? You prefer cupcake?” Alec asked.

“Only if I can call you honeypie.” Logan gasped as Alec worked him open.

Alec dropped his forehead to press against Logan’s, their hair soaked hair sticking together. “You’re far too coherent for my liking.”

“So...shut me up then.” Logan told him with a dazed grin.

Not one to back down from a challenge like that Alec quirked his fingers, searching until...

“Jesus fuck!” Logan yelled and his body arched up in Logan’s as Alec’s fingers found the right spot.

Alec smiled. “Hmm...still talking. I’ll have to do something about that.”

He added a third finger, making sure to brush over Logan’s prostate with every other pass until Logan was moaning and shifting desperately beneath him.

Alec removed his fingers, eliciting a whine from Logan which changed to a groan as Alec slowly pushed in.

“You feel...so good...” Alec gritted out as he paused, waiting for Logan to adjust to him.

A few moments passed and finally Logan rocked up into him and rasped out, “Move.”

Smoothly Alec pressed forward, keeping his movement slow.

“Oh god, Logan.” He moaned as he pressed his forehead back against Logan’s, his eyes clenched shut.

He stayed like that as long as he could, savouring the feeling, but that want continued to grow consuming him with the need to claim what was his.

Alec set a hard pace with Logan eagerly meeting his every thrust, shuddering and pleading. Alec had never felt anything like this before, the world completely faded away and all he knew was the man writhing beneath him and the wantneedwant Alec felt for him. He had to own him completely and be owned in return.

He felt the coiling tension at the base of his spine and his movements began to grow faster and more erratic. Alec was almost there. He slipped one of his hands between their bodies and gripped Logan, working his hand in time with his movements; Logan almost sobbing with the overload of sensation.

“More...please, Alec...I need...”

Then as the want reached breaking point Alec leaned forward and sank his teeth into his spot on Logan’s shoulder finally completing the claim and feeling the bond snap into place.

Logan screamed and spilled hot and sticky over Alec’s hand. The feel of Logan’s body clenching around him pushed Alec over the edge, shouting Logan’s name as his vision whited out and he slumped forward onto Logan’s chest.

Everything seeped back in slowly. Logan had appeared to have moved Alec so that he was curled on top of him, his face buried in Logan’s neck as his breathing slowed. Logan stroked a hand up and down his spine.

“Are you back with me?” Logan asked gently.

“I think so,” Alec chuckled tiredly. He shifted his head so that he could look at the smile he heard in Logan’s voice. “That was...”

“Incredible,” Logan supplied, “I’ve never...it’s never been like that.”

Alec nodded, his cheek rubbing against Logan’s shoulder. “I think the whole mating aspect made it more intense.”

“True but it wasn’t just that,” Logan said, “It was the fact that it was you and you made it fun.”

“You don’t normally have fun? I think you’ve been doing it wrong, Logan.” Alec snarked but he couldn’t stop the pleased smile on his face; he understood exactly what Logan meant.

Logan rolled his eyes. “Shut up, honeypie.”

“Make me, cupcake.” Alec laughed.

With a smirk Logan replied, “Give me a couple of hours and I definitely will.”

“A couple of hours?” Alec pretended to look horrified. “That’s what I get for mating with an old man.”

There was a moment of disorientation before Alec found himself on the floor for the second time that night.

Logan’s face peered over the side of the sofa, grinning down at him but Alec’s arm quickly shot out and pulled Logan down with him. Logan let out a grunt as he hit the floor, blinking in surprise until Alec grabbed him with a smile and manhandled him until Logan was tucked against his side with his head on Alec’s shoulder.

“We really need a bed for this snazzy new apartment of yours.” Logan commented after a few minutes of contemplating the ceiling.

Alec nodded. The floor was definitely not comfortable. “Of course, if it’s our bed then it probably should be our snazzy new apartment.”

Logan smiled. “You’ve decided to keep me then?”

“I think I might,” Alec replied, “But only for the hot sex, you understand.” Alec leered at Logan knowing that his words were a complete contrast to the smug possessiveness Logan would be able to feel through the bond.

Logan laughed. “I knew it was all a ploy to get your hands on me.” Projecting the same feelings right back at Alec.

Alec’s eyes brightened. That was a particularly good suggestion and he immediately started to stroke his hands over every part of Logan he could reach.

Logan gasped, his body obviously still sensitive, and grabbed at Alec’s wandering hands. “Nuh uh. A couple of hours, remember?” Logan told him although, from the way he was reacting to Alec’s touch, it looked like he might have overestimated that. “Besides I have an actual bed in my room that’s going unused.”

“That is a shame. It shouldn’t be left all lonely like that.” Alec stood up and reached down to pull Logan up after him. The quicker they got to that bed, the quicker he would get to test Logan’s refractory time.

He grabbed a lingering kiss before letting Logan go. “Mine.” He muttered against Logan’s lips and got a pleased smile and another kiss in return.

Soon they were dressed, with Logan in one of Alec’s t-shirts and holding the tattered remains of his own shirt, and headed down the street to Logan’s room.

They walked in companionable silence down the street, arms brushing against each other with each step.

“Hey, do you know what Crow meant when he told me he’d take care of Max?” Logan asked suddenly.

Alec grinned. “He’s going to set Max up with a new man. He was thinking about Nova.”

“Nova?” Logan stopped and blinked. “She’d eat him alive.”

Alec burst out laughing and grabbed Logan’s hand to pull him along. They had a bed to get to and a brand new bond to explore. They could worry about everything else in the morning.