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Chapter Four



“Hmmm,” Logan said, and Alec pulled a face as Logan reached for his camera and snapped a photo of the new glyphs.

“Is it bad?” Max asked, craning her neck to see the black tattoo running along the length of her spine.

“Too soon to say,” Logan said absently.

“Well I reckon it looks mighty fine,” Alec drawled, innuendo dripping off his voice. He smirked at her, from behind Logan’s back, as she struggled not to shoot back with a put down.

“Why, thank you, honey,” she eventually purred, overly sweet, as pulled up her shirt and buttoned it. “Remind me to repay the compliment later.” Alec smothered the urge to wince, as he heard the promise of suffering and pain in her voice. When was he ever going to learn when to keep his big mouth shut?

Asha coughed uncomfortably as she edged her way into the kitchen. “I have to make a move,” she murmured, as she grabbed her coat from one of the chairs. “I’ll contact you later about that…thing.”

Logan nodded. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “And be—”

“Careful,” she finished for him, grinning as she headed for the door. “See ya, Max, you too, Alec. Try not to get shot again.”

Alec smirked as the door closed behind her “Thing?” he asked lightly. “Something you’re not telling us?”

Just a little problem with the S.1.W.,” he said, dismissively. “Asha thinks they might have another mole in the ranks. She wants Eyes Only to do a few background checks on some of the new cell members.”

“Again?” Max sniped, rising to her feet. “Maybe they should tighten up their admissions policy.”

Logan shrugged and ignored the edge to her voice. “She’s a friend, Max,” he said. “I’m helping her out.” Alec sighed as she saw the conflict on Max’s face and wished she’d just come clean with him. He was getting tired of watching this game play out every time they came here.

Hearing the sigh, Max glared at him. “Time to jet,” she said brusquely, and Logan blinked in surprise.

“Already?” he asked. “But I thought we’d go over what you found out a Freeman’s place?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Max said, zipping up her jacket. “It’s our problem, we’ll take care of it.”

“But, Max, if there really are adolescent X5s—”

“I said we’ll take care of it,” she snapped as she brushed passed Alec and stormed through the door.

Alec caught Logan’s eye and shrugged as he straightened up. “Sorry, man,” he said. “You know how it goes.” Logan threw him a piercing look, and Alec shifted uncomfortably. Sometimes, he wished Logan would just punch him and get it over with; hell, he’d even stand still for it. If the situation had been reversed… yeah, well, he’d be a lot more vocal about the subject, that’s for sure.

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” Logan said eventually, and Alec nodded.

“Sure thing,” he said, then paused before he turned to go. “One thing,” he said. “Could you send some copies of those photos to Dix? You know what they say, two heads—”

Max’s voice carried through the hallway. “Alec! You coming?”

Logan sighed. “I’ll email them over,” he said. “Make sure she doesn’t get herself killed, would you?”

The smirk reappeared on Alec’s face. “ We’ve got each other’s back,” he said, and mentally kicked himself as Logan flinched. Damn it, as if things weren’t tense enough as it was. Deciding not the make the situation worse, he limped outside and ignored the glower on Max’s face as he made a beeline for his bike.

“Forget it,” she told him. “You’re riding with me, we’ll get someone to pick up your bike later.”

“No,” he said tersely, as he eased himself onto the saddle.

“That wasn’t a suggestion, Alec,” she said. “You’re in no state to drive.”

“I said no, Max,” he snapped. “Something wrong with your hearing?”

“What the hell crawled up your ass,” she asked sharply, jumping off her baby.

“Oh, I don’t know, Max,” he drawled. “I’ve got so many options to choose from. Firstly, there’s the small little matter of being shot; then there’s the fact I seemed to be stuck in my own little re-enactment of Othello – you choose!” Snarling under his breath, he revved the engine. “It’s after midnight, Max, and we’ve still got a museum to hit.”

Max frowned. “Don’t be stupid, Alec, you in no condition to pull off a burglary!”

“We need the money, Max,” he said. “You know it, I know it, our suppliers sure as hell know it, and I’m not letting you go in alone.”

Max shot him a venomous look and shot forward. “You’re not going in with me!” she said, poking him in the leg to prove her point.

“Ow!” Alec yelped as the pain shot through him. “Do me a favour, Max, could you take the sadistic tendencies down a notch or two? I’m starting to get ideas.”

“Pig!”

“Sticks and stones, Maxie,” he said, pulling the bike out onto the road. “See you on the roof!” Grinning, he looked over his shoulder and watched as Max raced back to her bike. She was going to be furious by the time she caught up, but it was a small price to pay for the look of outrage on her face. Served her right; if she wanted him to play the part of the cuckolding bastard, he was more than happy to oblige.

An engine revved behind him, and he looked in his rear view mirror. Sure enough, it was Max, her face still fixed in a grim scowl. For a moment, sanity reared its ugly head, and Alec wondered what he was doing. The last time he’d seen her this annoyed, he’d ended up spending the night at Normal’s.

Alec winced at the memory. If there was one thing Max Guevara knew how to do well, it was how to hit below the belt. Hell, maybe he was a masochist, it would explain a lot.

The roof of the museum came into view, and Alec pulled the bike into a side alley and killed the engine. Grimacing at the ache that ran down his leg, he got off the bike and pulled the backpack out from under the seat, shrugging it onto his shoulders as Max turned into the alley.

“What the hell was that about?” she demanded, before she even turned off the engine.

“Well, you see, Max, sadism is when a—”

“Not that, you jerk!” she cut in. “I mean that whole thing about Othello.”

Alec sighed; he’d been kind of hoping that had slipped past her radar, some hope. “Shakespeare?” he drawled. “You know, the British guy who wrote all those plays? Jeeze, Max, crack open a book some day.” For a moment, Max clenched her fist, and Alec watched with amusement as she took a deep breath and uncurled it slowly. It seemed his jibe about the sadism had hit home after all.

“Stop trying to get a rise out of me,” she eventually said, her voice even. “I want to know what you meant.”

Alec felt his temper rise, despite himself. “Do I really need to draw you a diagram, Max?” he snapped. “You know exactly what I meant, so stop pretending you don’t!”

“Listen, Alec, I thought we already went over this.”

“Yeah, well, excuse me for feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing,” he muttered.

Max smiled hesitantly “Is it Asha?” she asked. “I didn’t know she’d be there, Alec, I swear. I know you have a thing for her and—”

“Damn it, Max, this isn’t about Asha. It never was….” Alec sighed and wondered how they’d ever got onto this subject. “You know what? Never mind, let’s just drop it, shall we? We’ve still got a priceless painting to ‘liberate’, and I’d like to get this over and done with before dawn.”

“Alec? What is it you’re not telling me?” Max asked softly, laying a hand on his shoulder. Damn it, she was actually worried about him. She never did the touch feely thing…not with him, anyway.

“I told you, it’s nothing,” he muttered, shrugging the warmth of her hand away. “I’m just tired, that’s all.” He noticed the small, hurt expression on her face, and immediately felt like a heel. “Really, Max, it’s all good,” he offered reassuringly. “You know me, I always get cranky when I get shot.”

A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, but he could still see the doubt in her eyes. “You sure?”

Alec smirked and threw an arm over her shoulder. “Yeah, Max, I’m sure,” he drawled. “Now let’s get my cranky ass up onto that roof.”

“Jerk,” she muttered, nudging him in the stomach as they strolled down the alleyway.



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