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All the King's Horses and All the King's Men by alyse [Reviews - 28]
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Category: Dark Angel > Slash
Characters: Alec, Logan
Rating: R
Genres: Angst, Challenge, First Time, Hurt Comfort
Warnings: None

Summary: Logan had grown used to the quiet in the evenings, but that was before he took a sharp left into Surrealsville, population two.

Pairing: Alec/Logan



Story Notes:
Written for feline_feral for the Summer jam_pony_fic Ficathon. Prompt used was Alec having seizures and Logan helping him through it.. The brief lyric extracts quoted are either from Downfall or Unwell, both by Matchbox Twenty.

Author's Chapter Notes:
Spoilers: Set post Season 2

Thanks to davechicken for the quick and dirty beta that enabled me to - just - slip it under the wire.



All day
Staring at the ceiling
Making friends with shadows on my wall


---

By now Logan had grown used to the silence in the evenings. During those first few wretched weeks after he'd had to leave Terminal City - the tainted air finally proving too much for his ordinary blood - it had been the evenings that had been the worst. During the day, he managed to keep busy - although 'keeping busy' wasn't the description he'd have picked to describe his work as Eyes Only - but the evenings had stretched out into an eternity, the void left by Max's absence looming large and empty.

It was understandable - before the Jam Pony siege, she'd been a more or less constant presence in his life, whether she was physically with him or not. Even when she'd been avoiding him, there had still been the possibility that she'd shown up unannounced - lured by the promise of free food as much as the need for his help and always with a smile for him, one that lit up the night.

Those visits were long past, with her barricaded from the city that they'd both lived in and with a city of her own to run instead, and it was the absence of that hope that had been the hardest thing to bear. There were times when he wondered whether he'd ever see more of her than the grainy feed from his webcam, when the distance between them shadowed her eyes and muted her smile. Recently, he'd cut down even those small, brief contacts, too worried about the connections being spotted and cut off, isolating the transgenics even further from an outside world that didn't care about them. Or so he told himself, his heart aching in his chest every time he had to cut the connection and watch her face fade. But Logan was, at heart, a pragmatist. So he kept busy during the day, and in the evenings he grew used to the silence.

This time she wasn't dead. After that, almost anything was bearable.

He established a routine, one that was easy to fall into simply because it was so familiar. The equipment here, in what he still thought of as Joshua's place, had been salvaged from scrap yards and abandoned offices by transgenics getting used to making do rather than purchased cash in hand, which couldn't be traced back to Logan Cale, playboy playing at journalist. It might be a little less robust than the set up he'd had back at his apartment - a little slower to deliver and with a host of quirks that he'd had to get used to - but the search strings were the same. And if he couldn't have as many windows open or multitask the way he could before White had tracked him down, well, he could always supplement them with some old fashioned paper and pencil. It beat sitting around, waiting for the CPU to finally deliver. That only gave him time to think.

He could do pragmatic and he could be adaptable. He'd learnt from the best.

He'd learnt caution from the same source, so when his silent evening was interrupted by a noise from the basement, it only took him a second to reach for the gun in his desk drawer. His grip on it was steady and while he didn't manage to be completely silent as he moved towards the stairs, it was close enough for Government work. Providing, of course, that the Government work wasn't genetically enhanced. There was some small part of him that hoped, still hoped, that maybe, just maybe...

He kept close to the wall, not wanting to be outlined against the upstairs lights as he moved down into the basement. No point in making himself more of a target than he needed to be - something else he'd picked up from hanging around genetically empowered super-soldiers. He had to assume that the noise he'd heard hadn't simply been the wind.

The wind was at least part of it. The basement window was swinging open, clattering with each bitter gust that blew in. But that window had been shut earlier and the wind outside, while cold, wasn't strong enough to break the lock and blow it open, not even when the window's wooden frame was rotten and warped with damp.

He stayed cautious, every sense straining for some hint of what waited for him below and keeping his footsteps as quiet as he could on the concrete floor as he edged forwards. His grip tightened around the handle of his weapon, but he kept it low, hidden in the folds of his pants' leg while his eyes adjusted to the dim light.

There was a form huddled up against the wall beneath the window, and his heart tripped, skipping a beat; he was already hurrying forward before he realised that it was too big to be Max and Max had surely never slumped so gracelessly.

It could be a bum, simply looking for shelter. It was plausible - there were too many homeless in Seattle, remnants of the meltdown after the pulse - but nothing in Logan's life was ever simple, and plausible was several zip codes away from most of the things that happened to him.

He stopped a few feet away, still keeping his weapon hidden. He was reluctant to use it, even if that proved necessary. Last thing he needed was to draw the attention of the sector police - or anyone else - with a gunshot, and this wasn't the kind of neighbourhood where gunshots were simply background noise. And if this was just some poor, homeless bastard, the last thing that Logan wanted to do was scare him.

The figure was male. Had to be, given the bulk and the shape of the limbs he could now see in the dim autumn light. There was nothing in that shape that spoke of femininity.

"Hey." The word came out hoarsely, more because he hadn't spoken in hours than from any fear. He cleared his throat, tried again when there was no response. "Hey, buddy. You need to find somewhere else to bed down for the night."

The figure finally moved, one foot scraping awkwardly along the floor as it - he - curled up into something approaching a foetal position. The noise set Logan's teeth on edge and his fingers tightened instinctively around the grip of his gun. There was a soft sound - not quite pain, but not far removed from it - and Logan found himself moving forward, also instinctively. He wasn't quite stupid enough to drop his guard entirely but he couldn't just stand by idle while someone -

Alec. It was Alec. Alec curled up on his basement floor, his face shadowed by the hood of his top. Even with that, even with the ambient light as dim as it was, Logan could see that Alec's eyes were closed, his face unusually pale.

"Alec? Damn it."

There was no sign of blood, nothing to indicate why the hell Alec would be crawling through his window instead of walking in through the door. Logan wasn't being watched, as far as he knew, and he'd grown triply paranoid with White on his tail. Which could only mean that whatever trouble had Alec sneaking in the back, it was something that Alec had brought with him.

He put the safety back on, shoving the gun into his pocket, but stayed just out of Alec's reach, instead edging around him to peer out through the window. The back alley outside was quiet and still; after watching for any movement for a few moments and seeing nothing, he dropped back down inside, out of view of anyone who might be hidden.

"Alec?"

He still kept his distance. He'd experienced enough of Manticore's tricks firsthand not to trust that Alec wasn't another one, at least not until he knew that Alec was Alec - maybe not even then. But it was difficult not to rush in when his mind was racing, coming up with one scenario after another and none of them good.

If Alec was here, where the hell was Max?

Alec was still non-responsive, although he was breathing steadily, his chest rising and falling. It might have been Logan's imagination, but the rhythm seemed a little fast, even for a transgenic. He risked edging closer, one hand reaching out and hovering over Alec's form, fingers curling into his palm when he forced himself to stop, go no further just in case.

Alec finally stirred, pulling his legs up further towards his chest. He was shivering now, Logan noticed, and small droplets of sweat had formed on his upper lip as though he was in the grip of a fever, although that couldn't be right. Transgenics didn't get sick, not that Logan knew. Alec's breathing caught, and Logan leant closer still, a small spike of concern going through him.

"Alec?"

Alec's eyes opened fractionally, thin slivers of green showing beneath lids that were worryingly translucent. His head turned slightly, as he met Logan's gaze.

"Hey. You okay? Alec?"

The sudden jerking of Alec's body took him by surprise, and he reared back automatically, toppling and falling onto the palms of his splayed hands. Alec's body had gone rigid, neck arched and corded as his heels drummed against the concrete floor.

"Shit!"

He scrabbled forward, too late to stop Alec's head impacting with the concrete the first time but managed to get one hand underneath before it could hit the floor again. Alec's head jerked back a third time, breath now whistling painfully between his teeth, and Logan hissed as the move scraped his knuckles against the concrete, the pain sharp and stinging.

"Alec. Hey."

He was lost, had no idea what the hell to do with someone in the midst of a seizure - he'd never seen Max like this. The one night he'd seen her suffering, she'd said something about hitting a rough patch that tryptophan took the edge off, but he'd no idea that it could get this bad. Were you supposed to put something in their mouth to prevent them biting their tongue, or was the risk of choking too great? He couldn't remember - it was one or the other and he had no idea which, not with Alec's body twitching underneath him, and Alec's eyes, open and panicked and aware staring into Logan's like, for once, he believed that Logan might actually have the answers.

All he could do - all he could think to do - was hold Alec as still as he could, using the weight of his body to pin him down, prevent him from injuring himself. And from injuring Logan - he was under no illusions that Alec's strength was greater than his by several factors and even an accidental swipe would pack a punch. For that reason he concentrated on keeping Alec from braining himself or snapping his spine, positioning himself near Alec's head and keeping out of the way of his thrashing legs. His transgenic enhanced healing would take care of any minor injuries, unlike Logan who wouldn't be that lucky.

It also meant that he could make sure that he held Alec's gaze as much as he could, keeping up a steady litany of soothing nonsense. It was nothing useful, nothing that would help because nothing could help, not really, but it couldn't hurt. If nothing else, it would remind Alec that he was there, that he wasn't going anywhere and it would all be okay if he - they - could just ride it out. Everything else would have to wait until the seizure was over - and that included figuring out what the hell Alec was doing here.

"Just... easy, Alec. Just ride it out. That's it. Be over soon..."

It was a lot of crap, but the spasms seemed to be easing slightly. It might have been Logan's imagination, primed by desperation, but he hoped to hell that they were easing - his arms and the backs of his thighs were aching and trembling with exhaustion, and he'd taken an elbow in the ribs that would bruise and be tender for days. Seemed that dealing with a seizing transgenics was a hell of a work out. Maybe he should suggest it to his old gym, the one he'd used back when he'd still moved in the circles he'd grown up in and before he was shot. After that he'd kept to his home gym - fewer questions and fewer pitying looks.

He squashed the giggles that rose up at the thought of a transgenic themed workout, knowing that they were the product of this whole nightmarish scenario, and tried to focus on the here and now instead. Alec's struggles were slowing, his eyes drifting shut while the shudders that racked his body grew less intense. Finally, they settled into tremors, the same tremors that Logan had mistaken for shivering at first.

He risked loosening his grip slightly, keeping Alec's head cradled in one palm, cushioned from the floor, just in case.

"Hey," he tried again, unable to completely mask the shakiness of his own voice, adrenaline and fear and exhaustion turning his limbs to water. "You with me now, buddy?"

Alec's eyes opened a fraction again, blinking several times before he seemed able to focus on Logan. "Fuck," he slurred, stretching out his still trembling limbs. The movement was sluggish, lacking any of Alec's normal grace, but he was there and conscious and at least partly coherent, which was more than Logan had been hopeful for.

The relief Logan felt at that surprised him. "You can say that again. Were you followed?" He hated to ask, not when Alec was still shivering and breathing in soft, painful gasps.

Alec blinked at him again, licking his lips as his gaze wandered away from Logan's face. "Um..." Maybe 'coherent' had been too much to ask for. "No..." It sounded tentative - too tentative for Logan's peace of mind. Maybe Alec got that somehow - revved up senses or something else - because his eyes snapped back to Logan's face and he swallowed, focused and said again, more definitely this time, "No."

Okay, one question down and several to go. Logan didn't bother to ask again - he wasn't a cruel man and no matter what bad blood there was between him and Alec, he wasn't going to hit the man when he was down.

"You got any tryptophan?"

"No. Left 'em wi' Max." Alec drew out Max's name, slurring that too, as he forced his wandering gaze back to Logan again. His face was still too pale, now shiny with sweat, and his hair - longer than Logan remembered, and curling around the ears and at the nape of his neck - was matted and tangled, darkened to brown from dirty blond.

"Okay, why would you do that?" Logan fought to keep the impatience from his voice - impatience and irritation both. "And where is Max? Alec?"

Again, Alec struggled to focus. "S'e needed 'em. S'ark... shark DNA. 'S a bitch."

"In TC? Max's in TC?"

"...s."

Christ. He'd let things slip, avoiding contacting TC. What he'd told himself was common sense, avoiding compromising the transgenics' only lines of communication in for personal reasons, had rebounded to bite him on the ass.

He'd been lying to himself. He could admit that now. He'd been avoiding Max. And Alec, not wanting to see the two of them happy. And because of that cowardice, he hadn't been there when they needed him.

How bad must it be in TC now that Alec felt he had to leave Max his tryptophan - leave it and venture out without it when he was seizing himself?

He was about to ask that very question when Alec's eyes rolled back up in his head. The spasms that shook his body this time were less violent, and were over more quickly, but Alec was still limp and wrung out at the end of them and Logan wasn't as convinced this time that the dampness on his face was all down to sweat.

"Alec? Alec, we need to get you upstairs. Can you move?"

It was painful to watch Alec trying to roll over, push himself up on arms that were visibly shaking, with exhaustion this time rather than tremors, or at least that was Logan's guess. He was torn between helping and not making things worse for Alec. He ended up with his hands hovering helplessly around Alec's body, waiting for Alec to finally give up and fall flat on his face again, ready to catch him if he did.

Somehow, Alec managed to make it upright, resting against the wall in a sitting position. It didn't look like he'd be able to make it all the way up, not yet.

"Wait here." He caught Alec's face in between his hands, forced Alec's eyes back to meet his, wanting to make sure that the message got through Alec's confusion - or maybe single mindedness. "I've got a few pills upstairs, I think. Kept a stash for Max in case she needed them. Alec, focus."

Alec's gaze snapped back to him, and for once what Alec felt wasn't hidden behind his normal mask of 'happy-go-lucky-sociopath'.

"...k."

"You going to fall flat on your face again if I leave you?"

A ghost of a smile crossed Alec's face, somehow more painful than the shuddering that had preceded it. "Thick... head..." he answered and Logan felt his own mouth curve in an answering smile. There was a graze on Alec's cheek where Logan hadn't been able to catch him fast enough - or maybe he'd got it crawling through the window - and it made him seem absurdly young, like a kid fallen off his bike.

But then Alec was young. He forgot that sometimes, taken in by the swagger Alec surrounded himself with.

"Stay here. I'll be back in a few, okay?"

Alec flapped a hand at him, the universal 'shooing' gesture, but it was uncoordinated and his eyes were already drifting shut again as he slumped back against the wall. Logan hesitated just long enough to make sure that he wasn't going to keel over before he headed up the stairs.

He did have some tryptophan, at the back of his medicine cabinet, behind the black market Tylenol. The container was only part full, and he counted the tablets out into his hand.

Sixteen. He had no idea how many Alec needed, but working on the principle that two of anything was usually the recommended dose, he put fourteen back, reluctant to give them all to Alec just in case. Just in case what, he didn't examine too closely - it felt selfish, and there was something twisting in his stomach that could have been the after effects of adrenaline or it could have been shame. He stared at the two in the palm of his hand for a moment, then shook out another two and shoved the bottle into the pocket of his sweats, where it rattled against the gun.

He swung by the kitchen, pouring half of the remaining milk into a glass, and headed back downstairs, taking them two at a time despite his aching legs.

Alec hadn't moved from where Logan had left him, still shaking and with his eyes still closed. He opened them as Logan approached; his expression was wary but his eyes were exhausted and pained. Logan didn't bother with any civilities this time, just held out his hand, the pills gleaming whitely in his palm.

Several painful and embarrassing seconds passed as he watched Alec try to pick them up with fingers that were still trembling. They were getting nowhere fast; he was too slow on the uptake, Alec's head slowly dipping down lower and lower after each attempt until Logan couldn't see his face and it finally dawned on him that Alec was humiliated, dignity gone out of the window. When it clicked, flooding him with shame again, he knelt back down next to Alec, his spine protesting, and held his hand up to Alec's mouth, pressing the tablets against the curve of Alec's lips so that he could swallow. It was a strangely intimate feeling, edging into embarrassment, and Logan ended up staring at the damp brick wall behind Alec's head, trying to spare him some of his remaining dignity at least.

Alec didn't seem to care - maybe to him this wasn't weird, or maybe it was weird but no weirder than anything else that he'd experienced since Manticore had burnt down. Maybe he just felt too shitty to worry about something as ephemeral as pride - it wasn't like Manticore had encouraged that feeling in the transgenics it had created. Logan had no idea - for all that Alec never stopped talking, he said very little, all smoke, mirrors and attitude. Most of the time Logan had very little idea about what was actually going on in Alec's head.

He had to help Alec wash them down with the milk too, misjudging the angle at first so that some escaped from the sides of the glass, running down Alec's chin as he gulped it down desperately. Logan ended up having to steady Alec's face as well as the glass, and this time he couldn't look away, not without risking choking the other man. The whole thing didn't make Alec seem any older; if anything he seemed even younger, almost fragile, although that was a word that Logan would never have dreamed of applying to Alec before.

Alec's cheek was warm against Logan's fingertips, and there were dark smudges under his eyes, shadowed by the long sweep of his eyelashes. Logan had to check the impulse to press his hand against Alec's forehead, get some idea of his temperature in the same way that Logan's own mother had done when he'd been a child. It wouldn't help - transgenics always ran hot and he'd have no idea what was normal for Alec and what was running a fever.

When Alec had emptied the glass, he pulled back and wiped his palm across his mouth messily, wetting the edge of his sleeve. Logan waited for him to finish, watching him carefully. His colour was a little better, but he still looked like a strong breeze would knock him over. Again, there was that frisson of dissidence; if Alec was anything, it was solid. Far from dependable, but solid nonetheless.

"Okay?" he asked eventually.

Alec met his gaze steadily, which was an improvement at least, before nodding once. The movement was unusually economical for Alec, who never kept still, always fidgeting, scratching his neck, bouncing on his feet. It worried Logan in spite of himself.

"Think you can make it upstairs now?" Logan kept his voice steady, neutral in spite of the mingled concern and irritation thrumming through him. There was impatience in the mix too, but he had to at least make Alec as comfortable as possible before he started interrogating.

Alec's eyes flicked past him, assessing the stairs and the distance to them. Then they moved back to Logan's face, Alec's own face expressionless. That was also disturbing to see. Again he nodded, just once, and began to rise awkwardly to his feet.

Logan didn't hesitate to help him this time, Alec's pride be damned. They'd passed the point where it mattered and the sooner he could get Alec upstairs, the sooner he could start asking the questions he needed to.

Alec was heavier than he looked, probably a result of more compact muscle mass or maybe denser bones, something that made him faster and stronger and less likely to break. Logan had never thought about it before, but it made sense even if it also made navigating the pair of them upstairs more difficult. He'd never noticed it with Max, but then he'd never tried picking her up, or even borne her weight - held her, yes but...

Alec slipped, went down heavily, his knee hitting the step and his free hand flailing for the rail. Logan couldn't help but wince, even though he knew that the bruise would heal quickly. "Sorry," he gasped out, pulling Alec's arm more firmly around his shoulder and tightening his own grip around Alec's waist.

Alec didn't answer - all of his concentration seemed to be focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

By the time they reached the main room, upstairs, Logan was sweating heavily and Alec's clothes were damp and clammy under his hands. Now that he could see clearly, there was no blood so the shivers still wracking Alec's frame weren't due to shock. It was one worry to cross off the list but Alec still didn't look good.

He lowered Alec onto the sofa, where he settled back into the cushions with a groan. After a second's hesitation, Logan eased him upright again, ignoring Alec's confused frown, and began to ease Alec's hooded jacket off.

The t-shirt underneath was drier than his jacket, meaning that it was raining outside, or had been when Alec had made his way through the streets to Logan's. He could smell Alec's sweat though, musky and sharp, and Alec's skin was a little clammy to the touch too. He left the t-shirt on, pulling the throw down from the back of the couch to wrap around Alec.

Alec was still watching him, tired and wary. He seemed more focused, though. More with it, his eyes tracking all of Logan's moves even if he stayed quiet. Logan rocked back on his heels, rested his hands on his knees, as non-threatening as he knew how to be - and given Alec's background, he had to be pretty non-threatening.

He kept it simple.

"Start talking."

Alec raised an eyebrow at him, but it lacked the normal mocking edge. Maybe he'd kept it too simple.

"Why are you here, Alec? What's going on at TC? Max..." He paused, looked away and swallowed. "What are you up to?"

"Max... She's okay." Alec wasn't slurring his words anymore, but they came out disjointed anyway, exhaustion written in every line of his body and in his face. He was coherent enough to immediately hone in on Logan's main concern. "Seizures, yeah, but... it's not quite that bad yet."

Yet.

"And you left her your tryptophan?"

Alec looked away, rolled one shoulder in an awkward shrug.

"Why...? Alec, what the hell are you doing outside TC? I thought the blockade was in effect?"

Alec had apparently pulled himself together enough to aim a rather pointed look in his direction. There was no weight behind it, though, and Logan shrugged it off, not at all distracted from what he wanted to know.

"Yes. 'S why we're low on tryptophan." Alec closed his eyes again, obviously calling on his reserves. "Food's okay. But tryptophan? Not many sources."

Logan was already putting it together. "And that's what you're doing, trying to get tryptophan?"

"'s." Alec cleared his throat, tried again. "Yes."

Logan's mind was already racing, making plans. "When's the meet?"

It took him a second to realise that the sound Alec was making was supposed to be a laugh, not a cough.

"Today. Place... was crawling with sector cops. Bastard sold us out."

Logan was hyperaware of the tryptophan burning a hole in his pocket. If TC was running out...

"S'okay, Logan. Wasn't followed." That was the least of Logan's concerns now. "If they'd been military... but they were jus' sector cops. Blew 'em off. Got over the fence, into this sector before the seizures hit. So you don't need to worry about -"

"How long?" he asked abruptly.

As shaken as Alec was - as sick as Alec was - he still managed to keep up with Logan's train of thought. "Few days. Week maybe."

"And then?"

Alec mustered up enough energy to smirk, but again there was no heat in it, none of his usual arrogance. "Then things are really gonna suck."

That was an understatement. He remembered the research that he'd done when he first realised that Max had a problem. He also remembered what he'd told Original Cindy back then - without tryptophan, Max could slip into a coma and die.

They all could - at least the ones based on the X-5 genetic template. That meant the X-5s, the X-6s, maybe even the X-8s if they'd been created before Manticore had identified the genetic flaw in the earlier models, and some of the later transhumans.

All of them. Dead from a side effect.

Logan didn't think of himself as a particularly selfish man, but he couldn't help picturing Max's face in his mind rather than those not always nameless or faceless other transgenics. Max.

"You said you left your tryptophan for Max." His voice was tight, stressed, and he didn't care if Alec picked up on it. Alec's eyes were drifting shut again, small tremors starting up in his hands. Logan felt like a shit, pushing, but even the small sense of shame that burned, deep in his chest, didn't stop him. "How long?"

"Little longer." Alec slowly toppled sideways, trying to make the move look planned. It didn't fool Logan; Alec was moving like an old man rather than someone who was twenty, maybe. Twenty two at most. "S'e's gonna kick m' ass."

The tremors were more marked now, getting worse along with Alec's speech, and Logan was torn between giving Alec some of his remaining tryptophan and letting him ride it out. He had twelve tablets left. Twelve. That was all. He had no idea whether that would be enough for Alec - how long it would give Alec - let alone Max with her bitch shark DNA.

"Why?" He didn't even know he was going to ask the question until it was out there, hanging unfairly in the air.

"S'e's our leader," Alec slurred. His fingers were wound tightly in the fabric of the throw, jerking with each shudder that now shook his body. "'Sides. You tol' me to take care of her, treat her right."

Crap.

The shudders were building up to another full blown seizure, Alec's fingers now locked into claws, his spine bending and his lips curling back from his teeth. Logan swore, scrambling for the bottle in his pocket. The gun fell out with a clatter and he kicked it to one side, busy wrestling with the lid. It resisted, his fingers, slick with sweat, slipping time after time. He swore again, about to resort to using his teeth, when it finally gave, coming open with a soft pop.

He eased Alec's head back, holding it steady through the spasms that wracked his body. Alec's eyes were still open, pupils blown wide, ringed with thin circles of green. Logan didn't bother with platitudes this time, simply pressing another couple of tryptophan tablets between Alec's parted lips. He made sure that Alec swallowed them, stroking the other man's throat until he was sure they were gone. They'd passed weird, were well into surreal territory, so when Alec turned his head, pressing his face into Logan's shoulder, Logan didn't flinch. He doubted Alec was seeking anything like comfort. It was probably simply a combination of exhaustion and the fact that the position gave Alec a way to brace himself when the seizures were worst. And a way to hide his face - his vulnerability - from Logan, who had no reason to love him.

It took a little longer for the tremors to subside this time, several minutes passing before Alec finally stirred sluggishly. Logan let go of him, easing him back down onto the sofa and covering him with the throw again. It was pragmatic rather than tender, but it was strange to have it pass without a smart aleck comment.

"Alec?" Alec's eyes slowly opened again, but his gaze was unfocused. He blinked several times before he finally managed to meet Logan's gaze. "How long will these last? I mean, how long before the tryptophan kicks in?"

A small frown creased Alec's brow. "Don' know. Not ha' seizures before." The frown deepened. "Not that I 'member. They really suck."

"Okay." Logan kept his voice calm, soothing. He doubted it would have much of an effect on Alec, but it helped Logan at least. "Look, Alec. Does Max know what happened?"

"Phoned Luke. Tol' him what went down."

"Before or after the seizures hit."

"'Fore."

"Okay." He sat back on his heels, thinking furiously. Too many variables and too little information to go on. He needed to do what he always did: get as much information as possible and as soon as possible, form his conclusions from that.

"I'm going to try TC, see if I can't get a hold of Luke or Dix, maybe Max if I'm lucky. Let them know what happened, see where we go from here. Okay? Alec, you still with me?"

Alec was just watching him, his face unreadable. Whether that was because Alec was wrung dry and feeling nothing, or because he'd recovered enough to mask what he was really thinking and feeling, Logan couldn't tell.

"What is it?"

This time, Alec made sure to enunciate each word clearly.

"Max is going to kick my ass."

Logan couldn't help his sudden grin. "Probably, but, hey. She's your girlfriend. I think it's a little late to run now. Not to mention, she'd probably just hunt you down."

It didn't hurt as much as he thought it would to say it out loud. There was still an ache where Max wasn't, but whether she was with Alec or not, she was still a part of his life and he still cared about her. He should have remembered that before he started avoiding her.

He ignored Alec's frown. Even sick, Alec deserved to be taken down a peg or two. He hadn't forgotten all of the mockery Alec had aimed in his direction, even if it had grown more good-natured the longer their lives had intersected. Instead, he tapped Alec's arm and rose to his feet. "You need anything?"

"Sleep," Alec groaned, frown smoothing out as he burrowed down into the shapeless sofa cushions.

Logan smirked. "I'll ask Max to keep the yelling to a reasonable level then."

Alec flipped him the bird before curling both hands underneath his chin, eyes already closed and his breathing evening out.

Logan shook his head, exasperated, as he headed over to the corner and his less than state of the art computer set up. It was already running, and he clicked through the windows automatically, closing some, minimising others before logging onto a secure server. From there, it was several hops, skips and jumps to different servers and secure pages until he finally accessed the hidden TC connection. He'd already fired off a message via an untraceable webmail account on one of his many stops en route, and it was only a matter of moments before the black screen was replaced by Luke's rodent like face and pleasant smile.

"Hey, Logan. Long time no see. What can we do for you?"

"It's more what I can do for you. Max there?"

Luke glanced back over his shoulder, obviously torn between his normal desire to be helpful and risking the wrath of Max. "Well..."

He forced a smile onto his face, fighting down the impatience and the bitterness that went along with it. "It won't take long."

Luke - never one to hide his feelings - looked wretched. "She's kind of pissed at the moment, if you wanna know the truth. But still..." He gave Logan a sudden, sunny smile. "You're probably the only person whose head she isn't going to bite off. 'Course, that might be because you're at the other end of a vid stream, but, hey. Smart move if you ask me. Hey, Max!"

Logan winced as the bellow through the speakers, casting a quick look back towards the sofa.

Alec didn't even twitch.

When he turned back, Max's frowning face filled the screen. When she saw Logan, that frowned faded, became a pleased if tired smile.

"Hey, you," she said.

"Hey, yourself," he answered, eyes already tracking over her face, taking in the shadows under her eyes, the way her hair was limp, tucked back behind her ears. Even with that, she looked good and he had to clench his fingers so that he didn't embarrass himself by reaching out and touching the screen. "I think I have something of yours."

The frown was back, wrinkling her brow adorably. It was confused rather than pissed this time, although that changed as soon as it clicked and she realised what he was talking about.

"Alec? He's there with you?"

"The one and only."

"Tell him I'm going to kick his ass!"

"Yeah. He thought you'd say that."

She huffed, hesitated. "He's okay?" The question sounded grudging, but he knew Max well enough to know what it masked. Her expression was tense, and he put her out of her misery.

"He's okay. He's seizing, but I had some tryptophan. It seems to be easing."

She didn't ask why he'd had tryptophan - he suspected that he was far more transparent than she'd ever be. Instead, she frowned again, picking up on what he wasn't saying.

"Why would Alec need tryptophan from you?"

He didn't know why he hesitated. It wasn't as though he owed Alec anything, and surely Max would figure it out sooner or later. When he did finally answer, he kept his voice as neutral as possible. "He said he left his with you. That you were... more at risk than he was."

Max's eyes widened, outraged. "He said what?" The word was almost as loud as Luke's bellow, and Logan winced again. "Why the hell would he...?" She trailed off, her face thunderous.

"Is it true?" he asked evenly, not wanting to get pulled into an argument about Alec.

She dropped her eyes, avoiding his gaze, and gave a half shrug that was painfully familiar. He'd seen it once tonight already. "What can I say? Shark DNA's -"

"A bitch." He rubbed tiredly at the bridge of his nose. "So I hear."

There was an awkward silence before she finally admitted, "We're running low. Rationing what we've got."

"I heard that too."

"We'll be fine." And there was the bravado she always showed, that whole 'girls kick ass' attitude that he still loved. He chose his next words with care.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You mean, why didn't we ask you for help?" Her chin was up, her head cocked to the side and he recognised the warning signs. He didn't backtrack - he could be almost as stubborn as she was. Almost. The figure asleep on the sofa was the only indication he needed that maybe when it came down to it, he just wasn't stubborn enough.

"You could have done," he said softly. "I'd have been here for you. All of you." Alec included, it seemed.

It also seemed pointless to add that, so he cleared his throat and focused on the matter in hand instead. "Alec... he told you that the cops were there? Waiting?"

He watched on his monitor as Max folded her arms. She looked even more tired, as drained as he'd ever seen her. "He told you about the blockade?"

Logan nodded, not bothering to tell her that he'd kept abreast of what was happening outside TC, even if he hadn't been in touch with those he cared about inside in too long.

"The only route for tryptophan was some low life dealer Alec knew. He went to set up the buy. Way we figure it, the bastard must have sold us out. Figured out who the hell would want tryptophan, or figured out what a revved up guy Alec really is." She shrugged again, this time the move more like her own than Alec's. "It's either that or someone here sold us out, and you know that's not going to happen."

"Yeah." He tapped his fingers against his desk, thinking. "Alec also said it was the sector police, not the military."

"Figures," she replied. "I hear they're getting all territorial over who gets to kick our asses." The smile she flashed him held no amusement, just a bitter acknowledgement of the follies of those in power. It was a feeling that Logan could get behind.

"I'll call Matt Sung. See if he can cast any light on things."

"What good would that do?"

It wasn't an outright rejection, but he could understand why she'd be dubious.

"Maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe the bastard didn't sell you out until after he got your tryptophan."

She was still dubious. "It's a long shot."

"So were all of you."

She smirked, acknowledging the point. "Okay, shake Sung, see what falls out. Meanwhile, we'll go back to looking for low life dealers who don't mind supplying those of us who have a barcode on the backs of our necks. At a premium of course. Alec there?"

He glanced to his left, where Alec was still a vague shape under the throw. "Yeah. He's asleep." She snorted, and once again he found himself defending Alec, although he had no idea why. "The seizures took a lot out of him." The only acknowledgement she gave to that was a twist of her lips. He hesitated for a moment before asking, "What about you?"

"I'm fine. Seizures are a bitch, but they've been worse. 'Course, it's going to get worse if we don't get our meds but..."

"Talking about meds, how many should I be giving Alec?"

She shrugged. "Ask Alec. He'll know best how many he needs to get him through a seizure. It kind of varies, depending on your cocktail. And when he wakes up, you can tell him I'm definitely going to kick his ass for being stupid enough to go on a mission and not take his meds with him."

He swallowed a smile; for all of Max's tough, don't care attitude, she couldn't completely mask the concern underneath.

"He was worried about you, Max. I can't blame him for that." Her eyes flicked away from his for a second. It made him contrary, pushing, for once, instead of pulling back. "He cares about you." She still didn't say anything, just shifting uncomfortably. "Just like you care about him."

"Yeah, sure." Her eyes flicked away again, and a piece of the jigsaw he hadn't even known was missing suddenly fit into place. "Look, Logan, if the cop's come calling, looking for Alec..."

"They won't. Alec thinks he lost them, and I trust him on this one. They've got no reason to be looking for him in this sector anyway."

"Like I said, they're getting territorial. It's possible they might sweep areas on principle, use those nifty little heat detectors they've got a hard on for and that they've wrestled from the Feds. Wouldn't be the first time since they locked us down tight in here. Or what they think is tight. Make sure that the fine neighbourhoods of Seattle are still free of freaks."

He didn't know if her concern was for him or for Alec. Knowing Max, it would be for both of them, but he couldn't resist needling her a little, not now certain things had clicked. "If that happens, I'll just tell them he's my boyfriend and I'm nursing him through the flu. That will account for his higher body temperature, and he looks sick enough for them to buy it. Cute enough too."

She gave him a long-suffering and sour 'you think you're so funny' look, one he'd seen her give Alec several times. "If you're finished with the stories of domestic bliss, I gotta blaze -"

"Has Alec ever had seizures before?" He didn't know why he asked - maybe it was because he was still trying to be fair to Alec in spite of everything, or maybe because he just wanted to keep on hearing her voice. "That you know of?"

"If he has, I wouldn't know about it. Not like he talks about anything important." She bit her lip, looked away again, obviously realising she'd said more than she'd intended. "Why?"

"He doesn't think so."

"Doesn't think...?" The frown was back as she thought it through. "It's possible he hasn't. Like I said, shark DNA's a bitch. Me, I don't sleep as much - that's my brand of messed up cocktail. Makes me more prone to seizures, like the other night combat models. Like Jack." Her mouth twitched at the mention of her dead brother. "Alec's DNA is different. It's possible they figured the glitch out before the seizures ever got around to visiting his particular model. He certainly sleeps more, but that could be 'cause he's a lazy bum. If he's been on meds his whole life..." She shrugged, seeming more comfortable now that they'd moved away from the topic of 'Max and Alec' and were firmly into just 'Alec' territory.

"So, how much do I give him?"

Another shrug. "I don't think you can overdose on them. Least, I don't think we can. But I normally take between six and eight - maybe as many as twelve if it gets real bad. And lots of milk, chicken. Chocolate if you've got it, although the good stuff would be wasted on Mr Pork Rinds." She treated him to a smile. "How long has he been seizing?"

"I... I'm not sure. When did he check in?"

"'Bout six hours ago."

"Some time after that. He said he got over the sector fence before they hit."

"So, maybe three, four hours ago if he was being careful and not an ass like he usually is. He's in for a rough few hours. If he seizes again, give him some more. It won't hurt. Seizures'll probably get worse before they get better. They usually peak around hour six, but the tryptophan should have kicked in by then. Ease him through them and down over the other side."

"Okay. I'll bear that in mind. I'd better..." He made vague gestures towards Alec, even though Max couldn't see him.

"Yeah. Logan?" She stopped him before he could disconnect. "Look... I know I've got no right to ask..."

"You've every right, Max." He gave her a small smile. "I told you. No matter what happened between us, I've still got your back."

"Yeah, well... I need you to have Alec's. If this is the first time... Logan, they can be scary as hell. Alec may be an ass on occasion, but he doesn't deserve this."

"None of you do," he said softly.

She gave him another one of those smiles, the small ones that showed more than she intended. It was cracked around the edges but she'd pull it together - she always did.

"Still going to kick his ass." She reached out, touched the screen on the other side briefly, before her fingers moved off screen, ready to cut the connection. "Let me know what Sung says."

He nodded.

"Be careful," she added and then she was gone.

He watched as the picture dwindled to a small white dot in the centre of the screen. After a few seconds, even that had disappeared. Only then did he let his fingers touch where hers had been.

Alec was awake when he checked, shivering and pale. Logan had to swallow down a small surge of irritation. "How much did you catch?"

"You're going to talk to someone called Sung and Max is still going to kick my ass. Oh, and apparently I'm your cute boyfriend. So, I figure that's all the important stuff, right?" He sounded better, voice a little raspy, and it figured that he'd perk up enough to pick up on the embarrassing things and give Logan a hard time about them.

"Pretty much." He sat down on the arm of the sofa, which creaked a little under his weight, and tried not to react to Alec's needling. "Matt Sung is a detective who's done a few favours for Eyes Only over the years. He's a good man. I'm going to see what I can find out about what went down today."

"Why?"

Alec's eyes were closed again, so he couldn't tell if Alec was genuinely curious or was needling him again.

"You think your drug dealing friend sold you out?"

"He's not my friend and it makes sense."

"You think he sold you out before he got what he was selling you?"

That got Alec's attention, Alec's eyes snapping open. He twisted his neck, trying to look up at Logan, but the angle was wrong and he ended up squinting. His face was creased where it had been resting on the pillow and his hair was sticking up. He looked ridiculous. Still cute but that was Manticore genetics for you.

"I think Dmitri's scum but he's scum that likes to turn a profit. If he sold us out to the cops, it would have been to save his own skin. He's also risk averse. Doesn't keep his merchandise around for long, at least not his normal merchandise. But far as I know, tryptophan's legal. Less risk for him but a tidy profit."

"Meaning?"

Alec gave it some thought, a crease between his eyebrows to match those in his cheeks.

"I think he probably got his hands on as much tryptophan as he could once I set up the meet - he wouldn't want to meet more than once, he'd want to be ready to go ahead with the deal as soon as we'd set a price. Less risk for him that way. And I think that the cops caught up with him between then and when he was supposed to meet me."

"And he then had a bargaining chip."

"Yeah." Alec's tone was sour. "Me. I hate being a bargaining chip."

"So there's a good chance the tryptophan's in the City."

"Probably some police compound somewhere, yeah. All nicely locked up and ready to steal."

"That's one way of looking at it." Alec was still frowning. "What?"

"Headache."

Oh. "You want something for it?"

"Not unless you got morphine."

Logan froze, eyeing Alec carefully. Shivering, yes, and now that he looked carefully, there were lines of pain around Alec's eyes, a tightness around his mouth that wasn't usual. "It's that bad?"

"It's a bigger bitch than Max, but it's not that. We metabolise over the counter painkillers too quickly. They're no use."

Logan fished the bottle of tryptophan out of his pocket and put it on what passed for a coffee table. He thought that at one point it had been a packing case, but he hadn't wanted to press Joshua about the décor, just grateful for somewhere to crash out of White's reach. After another second's thought, he picked the gun up off the floor and placed it carefully next to the tryptophan.

"There's some Tylenol in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom if you change your mind," he said. "There's a little more milk - I'll get it, just in case. Think you can eat something?"

"I think I'd just throw it back up, all over your nice blanket."

"It's a throw," Logan corrected automatically, then coloured, waiting for Alec's smart comeback. There wasn't one. Alec didn't even smirk at him and his eyebrows remained resolutely lowered. His body was still wracked with shivers, and he pulled the blanket more firmly around himself, tucking it under his chin, where his hands had, once again, come to rest. "If you change your mind about that, I think I've got some tinned chicken soup somewhere."

"I hear... 's good for the flu."

Logan eyed him carefully again before giving into temptation and pushing Alec's hair back from his forehead, placing his hand there. Alec was hot to the touch, but only normally hot.

Alec didn't even twitch. Instead he settled down further into the cushions and his breathing began to even out again.

"I'll be back soon. Try to get some sleep."

It was a stupidly obvious piece of advice to give, particularly as by the looks of things Alec had already managed to follow it.

---

I wonder how you sleep
I wonder what you think of me


---

Over the years, Logan had cultivated many sources for Eyes Only, some reliable, some not. Some of them lived their lives in the grey, existing just below the radar, scraping by day by day in ways that sometimes pushed the boundaries of what was legal and sometimes crossed them completely. Some - the rarer ones, like Matt Sung - spent their lives trying to uphold the laws of the land.

Matt had helped Eyes Only out innumerable times as he'd grown from a raw novice cop on the streets, burning at the injustices he saw around him, to a seasoned detective, one who had finally come to terms with the fact that what was legal was not always just, and what was just was not always legal.

Logan owed him more than the man would ever suspect. Matt had never made the connection that Logan Cale and Eyes Only were one and the same, treating Logan as a fellow informant/member of the Eyes Only network, so Matt would never get that, and somehow thanks expressed as 'I'm sure Eyes Only will be grateful' never seemed to be enough.

After tonight Logan owed him even more. Matt would never get to know that either. Even so, Logan was considerably more optimistic as he headed up the porch steps into the house. That would have to be thanks enough.

Alec wasn't where he'd left him. The sofa was empty and the throw was lying discarded on the floor in a crumpled heap. The bottle of tryptophan lay on its side on the table, empty. The gun was next to it, where Logan had left it. He wanted to take that as a good sign, but he still picked it up on his way past, checking to make sure that it was still loaded as he moved through to the kitchen.

Alec had been in there at some point. The carton of milk Logan had left for him was empty on the table, a dirty glass in the sink. There was a bowl too - it seemed that Alec had found the chicken soup. Logan had picked up another carton of milk on his way back; he put it on the table next to the empty one and kept moving. There was no sign of a struggle, but he supposed that it was possible that Alec was feeling better and had left the same way that he'd arrived. He couldn't shake the nagging feeling that that was too easy. Apart from the fact that Max had suggested that there was worse to come, Alec had picked up enough of the social niceties by now to have at least left Logan a note. He thought.

As he continued through the house - checking out the hall, bedroom, study methodically and in order - the nagging feeling grew until even Logan was willing to admit that it was now full blown worry. He couldn't help but picture Alec the way he'd been in the basement - shaking and uncoordinated, face drawn and eyes scared. It was the fear that stayed with him now. He'd never seen Alec scared before and he knew now that he never wanted to see it again. Not even Alec deserved that.

He picked up the pace, his heart beginning to race. Second bedroom, bathroom...

Alec was curled up on the bathroom floor, shivering uncontrollably. He was still conscious, eyes focusing on Logan desperately as another spasm shook his body.

"Oh, Jesus, Alec."

He fell to his knees on the floor next to Alec's head, hands once again hovering ineffectually. He still had the gun in his hand; Alec's gaze switched from his face to it, watching it with the same desperation. Again, Logan had no idea what was going through Alec's head, but the fear was still clear in Alec's eyes and it turned Logan's stomach, brought acid up into his throat.

He put the gun down on the floor, Alec's eyes tracking it all the way, and pushed it across the linoleum, hoping that out of sight, out of mind would apply.

There was a sour smell in the air, vomit and something riper, more unpleasant. It didn't take him long to realise that Alec had made it to the bathroom just in time to throw up, and his nose crinkled with a mixture of pity and distaste. He made sure that was the only reaction he showed, not wanting to make things any worse for Alec than he needed to. If Alec was anything like Max - and they were more alike than he'd wanted to admit at first - he'd never ever want Logan, or anyone else for that matter, to see him weak, vulnerable.

Not pride, not for transgenics. Survival instinct. He got that now.

He caught Alec's head before it impacted with the toilet pedestal, pulling him forward so that it wouldn't happen again. It was easy to slide him over the linoleum; he seemed a hell of a lot lighter now, less solid. And still his eyes were locked on Logan.

"Hey, you." The words came to him automatically, and the irony of it being the same way he and Max greeted each other wasn't lost on him. He kept his voice soft, soothing, as he eased Alec up to rest against the side of the bath. "Guess the chicken soup didn't agree with you, huh?" Alec made a soft sound, agreement, disagreement or telling him to go to hell. He couldn't make out which. "You going to be sick again?"

This time it seemed to be disagreement, which was something at least. Alec's body was starting to judder again, sliding down the stained side of the bath. Logan grabbed him, pulling him in close, holding him steady. He smoothed his thumbs down gently over Alec's cheeks; they were starting to roughen with stubble and the skin under Alec's eyes looked paper thin. "Well that's something. I got some more milk. Think you can keep it down?"

"Took... took th' rest of tryp... tryptophan. S... sorry."

"Hey, don't worry about it, okay? Alec?" He wouldn't look at Logan, staring at the wall, the faded linoleum, anything but meeting Logan's eyes. It was quite impressive given how hard he was still shaking. "Alec? Alec, honey, that's what it was there for, okay?" The endearment tripped off his tongue without thought, and Alec didn't even twitch at it. He did, however, finally stop avoiding Logan's eyes.

"Is it kicking in, yet?" Alec looked blankly at him; it was an improvement on avoiding looking at him, but Logan could still feel the shudders running through him, all through his body, the skin under Logan's hands almost seeming to vibrate. "Alec, are the seizures getting any better?"

He watched Alec's lips form the word - 'better' - as he thought about it. It took longer for Alec to consider it than Logan was comfortable with, but Alec got there eventually.

"Still... sucks."

"Okay." He didn't smile this time, despite his relief at Alec sounding more like himself. "Sucking less or sucking more?"

Alec didn't even have a chance to answer before he was caught up in another seizure, jittering in Logan's grip. Logan pulled him closer, bracing Alec's body with his own, hands smoothing up and down Alec's back, catching in the damp fabric of his t-shirt.

When it finally eased, Alec didn't pull away. Instead he stayed slumped against Logan, chest heaving with effort. "Hey." Logan stroked his back again. "It's going to get better, okay?"

"Better?" Alec's voice cracked and maybe it wasn't effort that had had his chest heaving. "I fucking p...pissed myself."

That explained the other smell.

"Okay." Logan kept his voice even, tightening his grip on Alec as he tried to pull away, twisting with shame. It was probably a sign of just how bad things had got that Alec, with his supposedly perfect genes, didn't make it. "It's perfectly understandable, Alec. It's a natural side effect of losing control of your muscles. It happens. It's nothing to be ashamed of."

"Nothing -" Alec's voice cracked again, and this time he managed to pull away, falling back against the side of the metal tub with a thud that made Logan wince. "You don't... know... jack... shit."

"Hey. Hey!" He followed, grabbing Alec's face in his hands and this time not letting him pull away again. He'd been right about one thing, even if he'd managed to fuck up the other. Alec's eyes were wet, and he refused to look at Logan, staring straight up at the ceiling so that they wouldn't spill over and humiliate him further. Logan refused to let him get away with it.

"After I got shot, I spent six months with a colostomy bag and a tube up my dick, reliant on other people to tell me when to piss. I know, okay? I get it. I get what it's like when your body lets you down. You're right. It fucking sucks."

Maybe it was the shock of Logan swearing out loud that got Alec looking at him. Maybe what Logan was saying finally got through to him. Logan didn't know, didn't care. He held Alec's gaze, his own unwavering, and didn't let go even when Alec finally did, just used his thumb to matter-of-factly wipe the wetness from Alec's cheek.

"You want to see if the power's stayed on long enough to get the water temp in this dump above freezing? Bath's right there. Got some sweats in the back that should fit you and a quart of milk on the table with your name on it, okay?" After some hesitation, Alec nodded slowly, eyes blinking rapidly as he sniffed, trying so hard to hold it all together that Logan felt that strange, awkward twisting feeling in his chest.

"All right. Stay here. I'll be right back."

He let go slowly, making sure that Alec could stay upright. He did, twisting around to watch Logan get up, his face back to that unreadable mask again. His cheeks were still damp, though, and his eyelashes were clumped together. He didn't speak until Logan was almost out of the door.

"Why...? Why are you...?"

That was the sixty four million dollar question. Logan wasn't sure that he had an answer.

He didn't need one. Alec had already bounced back as far as self-deprecation, probably because he didn't want any more pity. They never did, transgenics.

"Cute boyfriend, right?"

The smile that went along with the joke was shaky but it held a ghost of Alec's normal grin. Give him five more minutes and he'd be making cracks about how he couldn't blame Logan because he was cute as hell. It was amazing, how resilient they all were - Alec and Max in particular.

He snorted, throwing back over his shoulder as he left, "You wish."

It must have been his imagination, but as he left he could have sworn that he heard a softly spoken, "Yeah," following in his wake.

---

I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired
I know, right now you don't care


---

The water was not much more than tepid but Alec didn't complain. Logan suspected that he would have done if he'd been well, but then if he'd been well, Logan wouldn't be sitting next to the bath, running a cloth gently over his back.

They were obviously well into the land of surreal, and most surreal of all, Alec wasn't protesting, cracking jokes or smirking. He also wasn't seizing and for that alone Logan would be grateful.

It was strange, missing Smart Alec and his smart mouth. Until today, Logan wouldn't have thought that was possible.

"Tryptophan seems to have kicked in."

"Yeah." Alec didn't say anything else, just staring down at his hands as he dribbled water through the gaps between his fingers.

"How are you feeling?"

Alec shrugged, not looking at him. "Like something the cat dragged in."

"Funny guy." He lifted the cloth again, letting water trail down over Alec's shoulder, along his arm. "Looks like Max was right." At Alec's look, he added, "About it taking six hours or so to hit the worst."

"Yeah." Alec stirred the bubbles with his fingers again, seeming fascinated. "Tell you something."

"What's that?" Across Alec's back and over the other shoulder; there was a soothing rhythm to it, almost as soothing as Alec's chattering, which might not have been approaching its usual level but was making Logan feel better anyway.

"Not giving Max my meds anymore. She can get her own."

"You don't mean that." Down over the back, following the curve of Alec's spine.

"Yes, I do. This sucks and I don't love Max that much."

Now that was the usual Alec, letting his mouth run away with him and getting into trouble. Logan froze, water running down his fingers and arm. He wasn't the only one - it took a second for Alec to realise what he'd said but when he did this time the look he gave Logan was one of mingled misery and shame.

After a beat, Logan forced his hand to move again. He couldn't meet Alec's eyes, didn't want to see the apology in them. There would be one, he knew, and it would be genuine - for Alec. Alec had been able to say 'sorry' from the first, and mean it, while Max still struggled with the word. But then Max learnt from her mistakes and didn't repeat them. Alec seemed to spend his life flinging himself from one disaster to another. Today was just another case in point.

"Yes, you do," he said quietly. "We both know that."

Alec shrugged, looking uncomfortable. It was weird, that he could sit in this bath, naked and totally unselfconscious, but be embarrassed and wrong-footed by the turn the conversation had taken, like he was comfortable in his own skin but not comfortable in his own head. Logan could spend his whole life trying to figure Alec out and, he suspected, fail. He hadn't managed to figure Max out, after all.

He could watch Alec now that Alec had turned away, clearing his throat as he did so. Still awkward, and that wasn't a good look for Alec, probably because it wasn't one he wore very often. All Logan could see now was the curve of Alec's cheek, the gleam of one eye, half hidden by those long eyelashes that curled down. Alec's mouth was pulled tight, crooked at the edges. He was chewing on his lip, the way that he always did when he was lost in thought or worried, and Logan wondered when he'd learnt that much about Alec and his tells. He'd say his interest was purely down to self-preservation, but he was beginning to realise that it would be yet another lie, and he was sick of little white lies told to make everything easier.

"I'd give her half," Alec admitted finally. He shrugged again, but glanced back over his shoulder at Logan as he did so, adding, "Guess I should be grateful that Joshua doesn't get seizures if I'm going to have to share with all of my friends."

'Friends.' Alec's face was carefully blank and his eyes - far too large to be anything but pretty - were watching Logan carefully. He held Logan's gaze for long moments then gave him another fleeting smile before turning his attention back to the bubbles, pushing them around the tub like he hadn't a care in the world.

Logan wasn't fooled. He watched, soundlessly, as Alec occupied himself with making the same kind of shapes that Logan remembered making as a child.

"You don't have to stay with me, you know," Alec said suddenly. His face stayed turned away, watching what his hands were doing. "Not that I'm not grateful." He finally gave up the act and let his hands fall back into the water, sending another one of those awkward smiles in Logan's direction.

Logan sat back on his heels, caught out. He watched what little he could see of Alec's face for a moment, searching for something to say that wouldn't sound trite or cruel. He settled on a cautious, "What if you have another seizure?"

He got another one of Alec's meaningless shrugs in reply. "I'm transgenic, remember? I can hold my breath underwater for seventeen minutes and forty three seconds."

"That's... a lot."

Alec smiled again, one of those quick quirks of the mouth of his that were as much of a mask as anything else. "There are ordinaries - ordinary humans," he corrected himself quickly, "who can hold it for ten."

"You don't say," Logan said dryly. He folded the cloth, hanging it over the side of the tub and made himself comfortable on the floor next to it.

"Free divers," Alec elaborated, as though he'd been fooled into thinking that Logan gave a damn. "We genetically empowered have to be able to hold it for fifteen."

"And if you can't?" The question was an idle one, a way to mark time while he tried to figure out what else was going on in Alec's head, what this conversation was supposed to hide. He should have known better.

"We drown." It was said flatly, without any inflection. "Want to know how I got to seventeen minutes and forty three seconds?"

He didn't. He really didn't but found himself nodding numbly anyway.

Alec's smile held no amusement and his eyes held Logan's, wouldn't let him look away. His voice was gentle, and that just made what came next so much worse. "There was a problem and they couldn't get me out of the tank any earlier."

Logan didn't back down, meeting Alec's gaze steadily. Once again it was Alec who looked away first, his shoulders slumping and his attitude slipping away.

"Sorry." It sounded as genuine as it always did. "It's just..." Alec gestured with his hands, a lost little move that somehow managed to convey what he meant anyway. "When the serotonin levels drop, it's not just the seizures, you know? I'm a little emo." He wiped his hands tiredly over his face and back through his hair, leaving bubbles in their wake. It should have looked ridiculous. It didn't, not with the emptiness in Alec's eyes underneath.

"It's understandable that you'd be a little... under the weather." The words were neutral, but Alec's face twisted anyway.

"Everything's understandable with you, isn't it, Logan?"

"Would you rather I didn't understand?"

"Honestly? I don't have a fucking clue."

Logan waited for a moment to see if Alec would volunteer anything else. He didn't, just sat there, looking wretched, until Logan couldn't take it anymore. He leant forward and placed his hand on the back of Alec's neck, stroking his thumb lightly over the nape.

"I understand that too."

It took a second for Alec to catch on, to look sideways and catch the small smile that Logan wasn't trying very hard to hide, and then he scowled, pulling up his shoulders in an attempt to dislodge Logan's hand. It didn't work - Logan had learned 'stubborn' along with everything else, although he'd already had a firm foundation to build that on.

"Funny guy," Alec muttered, splashing at the bubbles still left. His bottom lip was sticking out, petulant, another sudden mood swing.

"I learnt from the best." Logan kept it light, backing away from the things he didn't want to talk about, like the other myriad ways that Alec had suffered while Logan himself had had the luxury of a wealthy, playboy lifestyle before the pulse had finally rubbed his face in those things he simply hadn't seen before. "Come on. You might not drown but you'll probably shrink."

"Ha. Ha."

He shook Alec's neck gently, aiming for a 'buddy' vibe. He missed it, his concern for the transgenic confusing everything; when he pulled his hand away, his fingers trailed over Alec's skin, tingling where they touched.

Alec didn't say anything; he was still staring down into the water, more subdued now. The shadows under his eyes spoke volume and, if Logan had had his wits about him, he might have realised just how drained Alec was before the mood swings - hyper to morose and back again - finally clued him in. Even now, Alec wasn't making an effort to get out of the bath, his head drooping and strands of damp hair sticking to his pale cheeks.

Finally, Logan decided that it would be easiest to simply pull out the plug and let the water drain out first instead of trying to wrestle a slick and naked Alec out of the water. Even then, his hands seemed to have a mind of his own, sliding over Alec's ankle bone as he pulled back.

He sat back on his heels, flushing, and pushed his glasses back up his nose, fighting the sudden urge to flee. This time he lost, stubbornness no match for this level of surreal.

"I'll get you something to wear. Be right back, okay?"

It took a second for Alec to drag his eyes back up, nod. Logan paused for a moment wanting... something. Nothing. To get away from Alec and that dead look and everything that it caused to twist in Logan's chest and low in his belly.

He gave up, staging a strategic retreat, knowing that for the moment he was beaten, even if he still hadn't figured out by what.

---

But soon enough you're gonna think of me
And how I used to be


---

Alec had made it out of the tub when he got back; he'd put the seat down on the toilet and was sitting there, a towel wrapped around his waist, but that seemed to have been as much progress as he'd been able to make. He hadn't managed to dry off properly; there were still water droplets on his chest and his hair curled damply around his ears.

"Hey." Alec turned his head to look at him, looking dog tired and beaten himself. "I got you clothes." He held them out awkwardly, for some reason reluctant to close those last few inches. "The pants might be a little long in the leg."

It was a stupid thing to say. He had a couple of inches on Alec but it wasn't that noticeable. He had the feeling, though, that at the moment he could tell Alec that the moon was populated by bright blue singing fishes and get that selfsame nod in reply.

He looked away as Alec dressed, figuring he owed Alec that nod to dignity at least. He doubted it mattered to Alec - he seemed as unselfconscious about nudity out of the tub as he'd been in it - but Logan needed that anyway, too worried... about what, he didn't want to examine too closely. So he waited until he was sure Alec was fully dressed before he turned around again.

The pants were a little loose, Alec being narrower around the hips and waist. They hung low on his hips, and the length meant that Alec's toes poked out of the bottom, looking oddly vulnerable, not a word that Logan had ever connected to the transgenic. Alec was broader in the shoulders too, the fabric stretching to accommodate his different body shape, clinging where Alec's skin was still damp. Logan had to force himself not to stare, no longer able to fool himself that it was concern that had him reluctant to take his eyes off the transgenic.

Manticore had made them pretty and Logan was only human. All too human. It was just a blessing that Alec was too spaced out to notice. He was sitting back down on the toilet lid, staring down at where his hands hung between his knees.

"Bed?"

It came out sounding like an offer and he cringed. Perhaps he was just being hypersensitive - he hoped - and Alec wouldn't pick up on it. Not that it was like Alec to let a double entendre pass by without comment.

"What did your friend Sung have to say?"

Except today.

Logan started to frown, the protest coming automatically. "I don't really think we need to talk about this now -"

"I do." Alec didn't look up. "It's kind of important."

He opened his mouth, arguments already tripping through his brain, and then closed it with a snap. Alec was right - this was important, and not just for Alec. That was another thing that had changed when he hadn't been looking, Alec's newfound sense of responsibility, and Logan couldn't - wouldn't - deny him it.

"He came through. We were right - the sector police caught up with your friend, Dmitri. Apparently, he was peddling drugs - the really illegal kind. Coke, heroin. Andy." Alec didn't even twitch, and after a second, Logan went on. "Offered them a deal. Said he knew where they could catch a real, live transgenic."

"Well, that's Dmitri. Stand up kind of guy. I'm sure that the cops were suitably grateful for his publicly spirited gesture." That was rich, given how Alec had probably made Dmitri's acquaintance. Logan let it slide without comment.

"Full immunity from prosecution if he came through."

"Of course." Now Alec did look up from his fingernails, giving him a rueful smile. "Our friendly, neighbourhood law enforcement agencies need to focus their efforts on the real criminals."

Logan couldn't resist a moment of smugness, putting his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels. "You'll be pleased to know that the cops don't consider that Dmitri came through for them. At the moment, he's cooling his heels in a lock up downtown."

Alec snorted. "So much for being a fine upstanding citizen. And the tryptophan?"

"He had it and the police seized it."

That got Alec's attention, the tension in his body easing. He kept his eyes focused on Logan's face as he asked tersely, "And?"

"This is the best part. You were right - selling tryptophan hasn't been illegal since the turn of the century. The FDA banned in for a while back in the 1990s - there was some research that suggested it was responsible for users developing an auto-immune condition." Alec rolled his eyes and Logan, for once more amused than irritated by his attitude, cut to the chase. "Importing it, however, is still a big no no."

"And Dmitri imported it?"

"He did."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning Customs currently have it. More precisely, Customs have it in a warehouse by the docks. And since it's not considered an illegal substance..."

Alec perked up. "They're not storing it in a high security depot?"

"They're storing it with tractor parts." Logan watched as Alec's face grew slack with relief, before adding, "God bless sector cops and their short-sightedness. Once Dmitri started talking, they were so keen at the chance of putting one over on the military and capturing a transgenic, they stopped asking salient questions. Apparently it never occurred to them to wonder why Dmitri was importing it, or why you would want it."

Alec sagged back, hands lax on his knees. "I doubt the military clued them into that particular genetic quirk of ours."

"You're probably right," Logan conceded, watching him carefully. "God bless interagency rivalry then. Matt said there's some bad blood - the sector cops don't appreciate the military coming in and imposing the blockade when it just creates more work for them and they're already overstretched as it is. And somehow it's always the cops who pick up the can when people complain about why the situation with TC hasn't been resolved yet. The chance to get one over on the military, score a publicity coup, must have been too tempting to pass up and they got careless. Here's hoping that they'll never change."

Alec snorted again. His face was grey, drained, and once again Logan found himself announcing, "Bed." This time it came out better, he thought. More friendly than... whatever it had been before. He added, for good measure, "I'll call TC. Let them know what info I've got, okay? It'll be okay, Alec. You're all resourceful enough to figure something out." The words were more patronising than he intended, and he cringed internally, still expecting Alec to pick that up and rip him a new one - or at least, do so in Alec's unique way, which involved a few pointed remarks and a healthy amount of mocking.

Alec stayed quiet, his eyes watching Logan closely. In the end, Logan had to hold out his hand, Alec eyeing it, confused for a second, until it clicked and he let Logan pull him to his feet. He staggered slightly, and Logan ended up catching him, pulling him close so that he could steady the both of them.

"Sorry," Alec mumbled. He didn't pull away, and what little colour there had been in his face faded away.

"It's okay. Just... let me..." He didn't elaborate, not even sure what he was trying to say.

"Tired," Alec admitted. It was a hell of a big admission for a transgenic, even if it was also obvious. They never showed any weakness, not if they could help it, which was something it had taken Logan some time to figure it out. That reluctance wasn't down to any misplaced sense of bravado - he hadn't needed Alec's story about drowning to figure out just how fucked up their upbringing had been, even if that revelation had underlined and bolded it. Any weakness, any flaw, was potentially a death warrant.

"Okay, let's get you to bed then."

"Gonna tuck me in?" It was probably intended to be a standard Alec smart remark, but it sounded more like a plea to Logan. Maybe that was wishful thinking, but Alec didn't protest as Logan steered him into the spare room, settling him down on the bed.

"Are you going to be okay?" he asked, peering into Alec's face to make damned sure that there could be no prevarication, no bravado. "Alec? Honey?" Again the endearment tripped easily across his tongue. It was something that Eyes Only usually reserved for the young and the vulnerable, and God knew Alec currently fit both of those criteria.

Alec met his gaze steadily. "When did you figure it out?"

The question threw Logan; he genuinely had no idea what Alec was asking about, failing to keep up with the twists and turns of that genetically engineered and more than a little devious brain.

"Huh?"

Alec glanced away for a split second before looking back, the look in his eyes even more intense. "Me and Max. When did you figure it out? You have figured it out, right?"

He didn't answer at first, still caught off guard at the question and struggling to keep up, wondering why the hell Alec brought this up now - what had made him bring it up at all. By the time he finally came up with something to say, Alec was back to biting his lip, and the look in his eyes had changed to nervous, a little lost.

"I... It took me a while, but, yes. I figured it out. Why didn't you say something?"

Alec shrugged, looked away again, still chewing on his lip. "Wouldn't help, would it?" His voice was gravelled, rough with exhaustion and something else. "I tried, but you were being so noble, talking about what Max needed and how it wasn't you." It stung and Logan felt his face freeze. Alec didn't seem to notice. He huffed out, but there was no amusement in it; just exasperation and maybe a little pain. "If I'd told you then, I'd still have been the bad guy, just for a whole different reason."

There was nothing for Logan to say except, "I'm sorry." Sorry for what, he wasn't quite sure yet.

"I told Max I wasn't going to be the bad guy, the jerk who stole another guy's girl."

Ouch. Logan winced again. "If it's any consolation, that wasn't what she told me. She didn't tell me at all. I saw you leaving that morning, jumped to the wrong conclusion and she just... didn't correct me. We... we'd been growing apart for a while and she'd already ended it. I just didn't want to let go."

Alec nodded seriously, still watching his face. It was an uncomfortable feeling, being this honest with Alec of all people.

"She was scared," Alec explained, as if Logan needed any more explanation. "She was right to be. After what happened to Annie, with the virus... No one wants to see you die, Logan. Not Max. Not anybody."

Not Alec went without saying. Logan had got that now.

"I know." He hesitated. Maybe it was because they were being honest, or maybe it was as petty as not wanting to be the only one who felt off-balance, but he added, "Can I ask you something?"

Alec didn't nod, but he didn't shake his head either. Instead he just kept on watching Logan steadily, eyes tracking between Logan's.

"Did you know? When you helped Max escape? About the virus?"

Alec still held his gaze and he was grateful for that, that Alec was taking this seriously enough to either be honest or lie looking him straight in the eye. "No." He shrugged one shoulder, still not looking away. "Manticore wasn't exactly big on keeping us in the picture. I was told to help Max escape and then I was told to go and bring her back. That was the first time Renfro filled me in about the virus. There was no need to tell me before then."

"Would it have made any difference?" Logan asked softly. "If she'd told you before?"

Alec didn't hesitate, just shook his head, eyes never leaving Logan's face. "Not then, no." His tone was that awful gentle one, the one that said this was the way life was and it sucked. "I couldn't go back to Psy-Ops, Logan."

It had to be masochism that had Logan pushing it, asking, "And now?"

This time Alec looked away. He kept his voice gentle, but somehow it stung worse than if he'd been harsh. "They'd have killed me. They would have taken me apart to figure out what went wrong, why I disobeyed orders again, but they wouldn't have put me back together. They couldn't have risked putting me back in the field, not a fourth time. My life, or you and Max being able to touch. Go back to having a 'not like that' relationship where you waste a year and don't even..."

He bit off the last few words, fingers twisting tightly in the sheet he was sitting on. After a few seconds, he relaxed his grip, smoothing out the creases rather than looking up at Logan.

"I don't know," he admitted. "But I don't think so. I'm sorry if that's not what you want to hear."

It wasn't but he'd asked. Now he just had to bear it. And put like that - Alec's life balanced against being able to touch Max, hold her... he wasn't sure that he'd decide any differently.

Max hadn't. Given a choice between a cure or watching Alec's head explode, she'd chosen Alec. For the first time, Logan didn't blame her. Or Alec.

"You should get some sleep," he said. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't... I shouldn't have asked." It was hard, but he managed to muster up a smile for Alec, trying to be gracious even now, or maybe really trying to apologise rather than smoothing things over.

"Can I ask you something now? Since we're in a sharing mood and all." There was something diffident in Alec's tone, and that caught his attention. Alec and diffident weren't two words that went together.

After a moment's thought, he settled on a cautious, "Sure."

"Is that why you made the 'cute boyfriend' comment to Max? Because you'd already figured out that I'm not? Her boyfriend, I mean?"

Okay, that question had come out of left field. Logan shut his mouth with a snap, ignoring the gleam that had appeared in Alec's eye. "Um... I guess," he finally admitted.

"Huh."

He wasn't going to ask. He wasn't.

"Huh? Why else...?"

That gleam in Alec's eye broadened. "I thought maybe you just thought I was cute," he deadpanned.

"Funny."

Alec tilted his head to one side, watching him. "You don't think I'm cute?" He pouted. Only a little pout but a pout nonetheless.

"I see you're feeling better," Logan answered dryly, trying to steer the conversation back from Surrealsville. "Bed."

That probably wasn't the way to do it. Alec cracked a grin, one that edged into delighted, and Logan had to close his eyes, embarrassed.

"Well, if you insist, Logan..."

He sighed, at a loss as to how to deal with Alec's mercurial mood swings, although he'd never had any idea that they would swing in this direction. He was reduced to scrubbing tiredly at his eyes, his glasses bumping up against his forehead, before saying, "Alec..."

Alec's fingers were back to twisting in the sheets, and his head was bowed. When he spoke again, it was muffled and soft, almost tentative, if Alec could ever be tentative.

"You know... if you wanted to... we could. Not like I'd be stealing Max's guy, right? Not now you've called it a day."

His expression, when he looked up, peering at Logan from beneath the hair that fell across his forehead, was half-hopeful and half fearful, at least under the normal bravado that this time couldn't quite mask it. Logan could only stare at him, his mind blank, and Alec's smile faded a little, the bravado not carrying him through. "I mean, if you want. No big."

No big. Jesus. This was an Alec that he had no idea how to deal with.

"I... I thought you liked girls."

Smooth. Very, very smooth.

Alec was looking at him like he was crazy and Logan wasn't convinced that he was wrong. "I do like girls, Logan." He spoke very slowly, as though that would somehow help. "I like... people."

"People?"

"People."

"Okay." People. Jesus. "Alec... Look, it's been a long night, and given what you've been through I can understand that you might be feeling a little..." He couldn't even think of the word, not when Alec was just sitting there, in a too tight t-shirt, looking wan and washed out, any hope evaporated from his face leaving nothing but blankness behind. Logan persevered. "A little overemotional. And I've been here for you, and it's understandable that under those circumstanced you'd end up feeling a little..."

"You think I'm asking if you want to fuck me because I'm grateful? Because I owe you?" Alec's voice was flat; hard and empty. "Is that how you think I settle my debts? Because I don't settle them on my back." When he put it like that, Logan couldn't blame him for being pissed. "I'll say it again, Logan. You understand jack shit."

"Alec..."

"If you're not into guys, just say so. If you're not into me, just say so. I'm a big boy. I can take it." His voice cracked - exhaustion, emotion or both. "But don't tell me that I don't get to make my own decisions about who I fuck. Or that I'm doing it because... I don't know. You've got some whacked out ideas about me and how I view the world. Manticore's gone and I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. Not anymore."

Logan stared at him, speechless, until Alec finally shut up, slumping back and glaring at him petulantly.

"Okay..."

Alec's scowl deepened.

"I wasn't trying to imply..."

Oh, this just wasn't fair. Alec had gone from glaring at him to folding his arms and watching him over them, raising one eyebrow when Logan stuttered to a stop, his hands flapping helplessly. A smirk couldn't be very far behind, although so far Alec was resisting, probably because that made it just that little bit worse for Logan, rubbing it in just a bit harder by keeping the moral high ground.

But it also meant that Alec was segueing back to playful. His black moods - the ones that Logan had seen - never seemed to last long before his outward sunny demeanour reasserted itself, and after this evening Logan couldn't really complain about it, whether it was an act or not. The sheer relief of Alec not dying on his couch was making him playful too.

"I just prefer my partners conscious," he deadpanned. "It's a thing."

Alec spluttered with laughter and, God, Logan was glad to see it. His own mouth turned up in an involuntary answering smile. "Hey, look," he said, intending to suggest again that Alec get some sleep. He didn't get a chance. Alec's hands came up to cup his face, thumbs stroking over his cheekbones the way that Logan's had stroked over Alec's face earlier.

He expected Alec to be rough, forceful. He couldn't have been more wrong. Alec's mouth on his was soft, questioning, giving him every opportunity to pull back. Or to push forward.

Alec's lips parted for him, Alec pressing forward and making a soft sound deep in his throat. He tasted faintly of mint; at some point he must have used Logan's toothbrush. Logan couldn't complain about that, not really. Not when Alec's mouth was wet and warm and Alec's lips moved perfectly under his.

Alec might have been able to hold his breath for seventeen minutes, but Logan couldn't, especially not when his heart was pounding like this, rushing the blood around his body. He pulled back before he grew light-headed, panting for breath. His hands were gripping Alec's biceps, the muscles hard under his palm, and Alec's eyes were blown wide, pupils dilated and surrounded by that thin sliver of green. He was shaking again, but this time Logan didn't think that it had anything to do with brain chemistry. Just chemistry.

He swallowed, his throat dry and his lips tingling. "I think..." Alec was still watching him, his gaze tracking back and forth between Logan's mouth and eyes. Logan squeezed his eyes tightly shut, told his libido to take a hike.

For once it listened.

"I think you should get some sleep. I'll..." He swallowed, forcing himself to ease his hold on Alec's arms but letting his hands slide up and down Alec's skin, trying to keep it soothing and reassuring. "I'll wake you up in the morning, okay?"

He didn't get an answer, Alec simply watching him, his face settled back into that opaque mask. After a second or two, he moved up the bed, pulling the covers up and sliding underneath them.

Logan backed out of the room, switching off the light. Alec's eyes gleamed back at him, reflecting the light from the hallway outside, before they slid shut, and Logan was finally able to leave.

He let his head fall against the wall outside, his palms sweaty until he rubbed them on his pants' legs. He had no idea what the hell had just happened. Had no idea whether he wanted it to happen again.

It took him several minutes to pull himself together. When he headed back into the main room and the comfort of his terminal, he couldn't resist looking back in on Alec.

The covers were rising and falling steadily, Alec already lost to sleep.

Logan envied him that.

---

If I could go back
Would you have ever been with me


---

He wasn't surprised when something woke him in the early hours of the morning. It was still dark outside, but at some point Alec had switched the hall light on, left it on and left the door open. It was a concession to him, he knew. Alec was perfectly capable of seeing in the dark.

The light was enough to see Alec, perched on his bed, watching him. It should have been creepy, but he'd experienced enough of Max's quirks by now not to be phased by it. Not that Max had been in the habit of sneaking into his bedroom in the middle of the night. Into his apartment, yes, but she'd skirted around his bedroom like entering it meant crossing a line she hadn't been ready to.

He sat up, scrabbling on the bedside table for his glasses. He could see Alec a little better with them on, although he couldn't make out Alec's expression, just the gleam of his eye where it caught the light.

"Everything okay?"

Alec nodded, head tilted towards him, watching him.

Logan ran his hands through his hair, pushing it back from his face, and sat up with a soft groan. The muscles of his back tended to stiffen up when he slept - transgenic blood wasn't a cure all, but a little stiffness now and then beat not walking at all.

Alec waited until he was sitting upright before offering, "I used your computer, called TC." Of course he had, and it wouldn't have occurred to Alec to ask first. Something of that must have shown on his face, because Alec added, "I didn't look at anything else in case you were wondering. Just wanted to check in, see whether we had a plan yet." Alec probably thought that was another concession, not to snoop.

"And do you?"

Alec nodded again, his head ducking and one hand coming up to scratch at the back of his neck. It was another trademark move of Alec's and Logan wondered whether he realised that his hand automatically came to rest across his barcode when he did so.

"I'm going to leave when it starts getting light. Mingle with the six a.m. crowd on the way to work. There's a checkpoint not far from here where they're not exactly hot on checking IDs, and they don't have thermal imagers yet." He shrugged, outlined by the light behind him. His face was still half turned towards Logan, and his teeth caught the light when he smiled. "Beats climbing fences, I guess, although that's always an option if things go south."

"It's not light yet," Logan said evenly.

"No." Alec's head tilted back in his direction and Logan didn't have to see his face to be able to picture the searching look that would be there. "Dawn's another hour or so away."

"Okay. How are you doing?"

In answer, Alec held up his hand, holding it straight out, palm down. It stayed rock steady.

"Well, that's an improvement. I'm glad to see you're doing okay."

"I drank the rest of your milk."

Logan frowned, pushing his glasses up his nose with his fingers and struggling to focus on Alec through them. "You started to seize again?"

"No," said Alec. "I was just thirsty."

Logan let out a snort of laughter. "I'm glad to see you've got your sense of humour back," he said.

"Never lost it," Alec replied lightly. "Want to fool around?"

"Well... that's straight to the point."

"You can fuck me if you want."

He choked, coughing while Alec grinned at him, head to the side and eyes gleaming with amusement.

"Too much to the point, huh?"

"You... you are incorrigible."

"Incorrigible. I like the sound of that. Is that a yes?"

"That's a 'you're going to be the death of me'."

"But what a way to go."

This was the Alec he knew and... well, he guessed he liked well enough, although he didn't know whether that was because he'd caught a glimpse of the Alec underneath, colouring his perceptions, and his usual irritation would reassert itself when he had to go back do dealing with Alec's normal, annoying smart ass persona. At the moment, though, it was beyond good to see him back to his regular 'incorrigible' self. Life without Alec would be boring indeed, he was beginning to realise, no matter how he categorised his feelings towards the transgenic.

Alec was obviously tired of waiting for him to make up his mind.

"Look, Logan. You and Max are over - you've both told me that. I don't think you're seeing anyone else -"

"What makes you think that?" He intended to throw Alec off-balance, but Alec didn't even pause.

"One toothbrush in the bathroom, you have nothing that passes for a social life and Asha is now seeing Sketchy." Logan couldn't decide what was worse - Alec counting the reasons off one by one on his fingers or the fact that he gave Logan what was supposed to be a winning smile when he finished. It might even have been the fact that he was right, on all counts. Except...

"Sketchy?"

"Yeah, I know. Way I figure it, she knew that nothing would ever compare with me so didn't even try."

"You. And Asha?"

"Not quite," said Alec mournfully. "But almost. She fell asleep. That isn't, by the way, an indictment of my skills in the sack. She'd had a bit to drink and you ordinaries, you just can't handle your booze." He paused thoughtfully, scratching at the back of his neck again. "Although I suppose that could be seen as an indictment of my pulling skills."

"Incorrigible," muttered Logan, enthralled in spite of himself.

"I could be incorrigible and naked," Alec tempted. He gave another one of those supposedly winning smiles. Logan - God help him - was starting to warm to them.

He shouldn't succumb. He shouldn't. It was a bad idea on so many counts, not least of which was Alec himself and the havoc he wrecked in his wake.

"Alec..."

"Naked, Logan."

He laughed. He couldn't help it. He'd taken up permanent residence in Surrealsville, population two - three if he counted his dick, which was now reminding him of the fact that Alec had been bang on target about his lack of social life.

"Incorrigible," he murmured again and Alec, sensing victory, smiled.

"Incorrigible and naked." He cocked his head temptingly but now that Logan's eyes had adjusted to the lack of light, he could see that Alec's eyes were as watchful as always, anticipating rejection, his brow lightly furrowed as he calculated the odds, worked out which scenario got him out, skin - and heart - intact.

It was that, not Alec's attempts at sweet talk, that clinched the deal. He said nothing, but slid sideways in the bed, leaving a space for Alec next to him.

Alec didn't need to be invited twice, whether that invitation was wordless or not.

He was warm and solid and still kissed like an angel, surprisingly sweet and non-aggressive. His skin was smooth under Logan's fingers when they slid underneath Alec's shirt and mapped out the contours of his body. There were no scars - not with his stem cells and ability to heal - nothing to show the road he'd travelled.

His scent was a little muskier than the few men that Logan had experimented with in college, and his sweat a little sweeter when Logan lapped it from the hollow of his throat, but the sounds he made when Logan bit at his Adam's apple were just as pleasured and his fingers just as strong as they stroked over Logan's dick.

It didn't surprise him that Alec was a tease, bringing him to the edge and easing him back down again before he could come. It also didn't surprise him that Alec was focused, watching and cataloguing all of Logan's reactions - what he liked and what did nothing for him - with fascination. It would all be filed somewhere in that extraordinary brain, accessible with perfect recall, and later he'd worry about it. Later, when Alec's hand had stopped jerking him off, when Alec finally let him come.

He couldn't bring himself to fuck Alec, not this time and when he had the luxury later he knew that he'd worry about thinking of this brief fling with madness as 'this time'. It was too personal, too intense, more than he thought he could cope with. Didn't want to give Alec something he'd never given Max, no matter how selfish that was. Instead, he used his hands, touching Alec, learning Alec and Alec loved it, arching into each stroke, each feather light touch, like an affection starved cat.

It was probably an apt comparison, but Logan didn't want to think about that either.

When Alec came, his eyes were wide and green and open, no masks, not this time. He was beautiful and defenceless and - for one brief, perfect moment - Logan's. Logan could only look away, burying his face in Alec's hair so that he couldn't see it any longer and pretending that he'd intended to kiss Alec there the whole time.

It turned out that there was a practical use for being able to hold your breath for seventeen minutes, even out of Manticore. But he still wasn't surprised when he woke from a doze and Alec was gone and hadn't left a note.

---

We're getting off track
And I want to get you back again


---

There was no note three days later, when he came home with a meet from an informant to find a fresh quart of milk in the fridge and a small brown bottle on the table, filled with white pills. Logan wasn't stupid - he got the message.

Debt repaid in full.

He poured the milk down the sink but kept the pill bottle, shoving it to the back of the medicine cabinet where it was out of sight, out of mind.

Just in case.

---

Be my savior
And I'll be your downfall


---

The End






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