Fandom: Dark Angel
Summary: Max/Alec, set post transgenic conflict - Manticore left one last little present.
“Enzymes?” Alec repeated. Scott nodded.
Scott had been another of the X5’s involved in the ‘breeding programme’. He’d also been messing around with one of the lab techs, so if Alec wanted information on the crap Manticore had pulled, Scott would probably know. He wasn’t wrong.
“Enzymes,” he confirmed, rinsing off his face and drying it, glancing over to where Alec was lounging on his bed in his Terminal City apartment. “You remember they started upping our meds? One of those new pills contained a DNA sequence that was fitted on to ours when the cells replicated – kinda like genetic engineering with bacteria, where they’d cut the DNA, slip the new bit in, then seal it all up again and bam! The bacteria started to produce whatever the DNA told them to do – Insulin, mainly. And when the cell replicated, more cells were able to do it, so more was produced.”
“And these DNA codes…included the information for these new enzymes?”
“Yep. Protein synthesis of a genetically-engineered enzyme created by our Manticore mommies and daddies.” Scott pulled his shirt on and moved over to the bed, pushing Alec’s feet out of the way so he could sit and pull on his boots. “Produced by the skin cells and complementary to the DNA of our assigned breeding partners. Particularly, the pheromones released during sex, their sweat, which activated them.”
“Oh gross.” Alec wrinkled his nose in distaste.
“Once they were activated,” Scott continued, grinning. “They’d continue to synthesise those pheromones until the girl got knocked up. You would start producing their pheromones, and vice versa, so you’d be encouraged to keep going until we got a pregnancy.”
“The cells in your partner would react to the consistent levels of progesterone that occur when pregnancy happens, and secrete an inhibitor, which would stop her enzymes from producing your pheromones, and yours from producing hers, taking effect after they’d been passed onto you during your final copulation.”
“So to get this to stop, I’ve got to knock her up?” Alec grimaced.
Scott grinned at him.
“Or you could just keep having sex,” he suggested. “It’s not exactly a tough gig.”
“You don’t know who my breeding partner was,” Alec said grimly. “If I keep going like this I could end up dead. She’s rough.”
“What’s wrong, Boo?” Cindy asked eventually, as she and Max rode through South Market. “I ain’t seen you lookin’ this miserable since yo’ sugar daddy moved to Canada.”
“Logan wasn’t my sugar daddy,” Max muttered automatically. “Am I a psycho?”
“No!” Cindy cried, as if the very idea was offensive to her. “Why? Did someone say you were? Who? Gimme a name, Boo, an’ I’ll go lay the smackdown on that bitch.”
“Alec,” Max said miserably. Cindy paused.
“Oh,” she said. “Well, then he’s tellin’ the truth.”
“What?” Max braked and stared at Cindy, who stopped beside her. “I thought you said I wasn’t!”
“When it comes to yo’ boy, girl, you don’t think straight,” Cindy told her flatly. “You been raggin’ on him since he got here.”
“But,” Max protested, “he was my second-in-command during…”
“Yeah, Boo, an’ the minute things got right again, what did you do? Start bullyin’ him all over again.”
“What’re you trying to say?”
“You had issues with him before this mess even started, Boo,” Cindy told her. “You just din’t notice them.”
“Normal, have you seen Alec?” Max asked, slouching over to the dispatch desk. Normal shot her a look of distaste.
“Why do you always assume that I keep tabs on you delinquents?” he demanded.
“Not us delinquents,” Cindy said. “Just Alec.”
“Well, no, for your information, I have no idea where he is,” Normal said, and unearthed a large envelope from under the pile on the counter. “But he left this for you.”
Max squinted at the package shoved under her nose and snatched it.
“What is it?” Cindy asked. Max shrugged and tore it open, pulling out the sheaf of papers inside. On the top of the pile was a piece of notepaper, with the word ‘Enzymes’ scrawled on it in Alec’s handwriting.
“Well?” Cindy prompted.
“I think,” Max said, flicking through the sheets, “he found the problem.”
“It certainly sounds sensible enough,” Logan mused, the tone in his voice suggesting that the problem was tricky and he was looking forward to it. “A lot like the genetic engineering they used to do with bacteria, years ago.”
“But can you stop it?” Max asked insistently.
“It’s possible,” Logan mused. There was a shuffling of paper, as he looked through the files that Max faxed him from Terminal City headquarters (from which, she had noticed irritably, Alec was conspicuously absent). “Yeah, here it is. They were designed to stop being produced after pregnancy occurred. Seems like this wasn’t a permanent solution – just a trial run. You’re lucky,” he said, a little amused. “If you hadn’t been the first lot, this could’ve happened every time.”
“That’s great news,” Max drawled. “First time I’ve ever been ‘lucky’ when it comes to something Manticore shot into me. So what do I do?”
“Progesterone supplements,” Logan said. “Every day for a couple of weeks should be enough.”
“And that’s it?”
“No.” Logan paused. “You’ll have to sleep with Alec again too, to deactivate his enzymes.”
Max sighed, and scrubbed a hand over her face.
“Great,” she muttered.
“Are you upset because you don’t like him,” Logan asked finally, “or because you’re worried you do?”
Max was sitting on top of the Space Needle when he arrived. Well, he hadn’t expected to be the first there.
“You rang?” Alec drawled. Max inclined her head slightly. “Is it safe for me to be here?” he asked, moving closer.
“Yep,” Max said. “All camphor oiled up.”
“Actually,” Alec said with a small grin, standing beside her, “I was more worried that you were gonna throw me off.”
Max glanced up at him and felt an answering grin start on her face. His widened and he sat, leaning back on his hands.
“So, Maxie.” He took a deep breath of the cool air and let it out with a satisfied noise. “To what do I owe this summons?”
Max reached into her jacket and passed him a small plastic bottle. The tablets inside rattled as he turned it so he could read the label.
“You got my message then,” he said, passing the bottle back to her.
“Logan confirmed it,” she told him. “Said progesterone supplements should do it.”
“Good ol’ Logan,” Alec chuckled. “Saving the day even when he’s legally dead.” He glanced at her. “That what you wanted to tell me?”
“No.” Max rested her chin on her knees. “I’ve thought about it a bit and…You were right.”
Alec raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I seem to have forgotten my dictaphone. You couldn’t repeat that back where I’ve got some recording equipment? Or maybe sign a statement to the same effect? ‘Cause I know you’re never gonna say it again, and I wanna cherish it in the future.”
“Blame the drugs,” Max snorted. “They do call progesterone ‘the Happy Hormone’.” She frowned out across the city. “But you’ve got a point. Logan and Original Cindy said so too. I’ve been raggin’ on you a while and, well, I’m sorry.”
“Stop press!” Alec called out at the Seattle skyline. “Max admits Alec is right and apologises! Apocalypse due any day now!”
Max thumped him in the arm.
“I can change my mind, y’know,” she warned. Then she leaned back on her elbows and studied him. “Talk to me.”
“If you keep pulling crap like this, Maxie, I’m gonna have a heart attack. Don’t you normally want me to stop talking?” He eyed her suspiciously. “Who are you, and what’ve you done with the real Max?”
“You talk a whole lotta bullshit,” Max told him with a slight sneer. “But you never actually say anything. Say something. I don’t know anything about you, and you’ve screwed me in every way imaginable. I think I deserve a little info.”
Alec frowned at her.
“I dunno.” She shrugged. “What’s your favourite song?”
“Linus and Lucy,” Alec said, looking back out at the city.
Max waited for further clarification.
“What’s that?” she asked, when more information didn’t come. “Some rap song?”
“No,” he said, somewhat gruffly. “It’s…A Jazz piece. For piano.”
“Oh.” Max licked her lips guiltily. “Did…Did she play it?”
“Yeah.” Alec dropped his head, studying his hands. “It was the first piece of music I actually liked, y’know? I could play anything they put in front of me, but they only gave me classical stuff at Manticore. Bach, Vivaldi, Chopin, you know. And…I mean, I knew it was good. It had to be, didn’t it, if it had lasted this long. But I didn’t…like it. It didn’t make me want to smile.”
“And Linus and Lucy did,” Max finished.
“Yeah,” Alec gave a small smile. “First time I smiled in that damn house. Felt like the first time ever.”
That was something to thank Rachel Berrisford for then, Max thought. She didn’t like the idea of an Alec that didn’t smile. It seemed…wrong.
“What about you?” Alec asked.
“What about me?”
“You can’t expect me to tell you all this without getting something out of it.”
“You get me being nice to you,” Max said.
Alec studied her for a moment.
“Sorry Maxie,” he said finally, standing. “That’s not good enough.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Max demanded, sitting up.
“I’m not just gonna give you everything you wanna hear just because you ask,” he said. “Not if I’m not getting anything back. I need more of an incentive than you just being nice to me. I shouldn’t have to earn your respect Max – especially not after everything I’ve done for you!”
“Like what? Tried to kill me? Oh yeah, fills me with confidence that does.”
“You see that? That’s why I’m not giving you any more, ‘cause you throw every little thing back at me. I know why you wanna do this – you think if we get all buddy-buddy, it won’t be so bad when we have sex.”
“That’s not - ”
“You’re a crappy liar, Maxie,” Alec told her coldly. “If this is just so you can live with yourself and what we did, then don’t bother. It’ll just make it more awkward next time. Let’s leave feelings out of this, alright? Otherwise it’ll just get awkward.”
“Alec - ”
“Leave your good intentions at home,” he advised her, heading back into the needle. “I’d rather just have the ulterior motive than fake sympathy.”