Title: Stuff of Legends
Disclaimer: I have never owned a television show in my life.
Characters/Ships: Alec centric, light Max/Logan
Summary: The day the transgenics finally outmatch the familiars and win their independence is the day Max Guevara and Logan Cale drop off the face of the earth. Alec tries to pick up the pieces.
Author’s note: I’d like to think this would appeal to both sides of the tracks, but knowing me, it’ll just piss everyone off.
The day the transgenics finally outmatch the familiars and win their independence, is the day Max Guevara and Logan Cale drop off the face of the earth. Alec spends the day combing the wreckage of Terminal City for either or both of them.
But nothing shows up. No Max, no Logan and no bodies.
Alec can’t decide whether to feel relieved or terrified.
In Max’s absence Alec is expected to step up be the leader. After all, he is the only transgenic still around who could be considered her inner circle. For the first two weeks, the only questions he got are: Where’s Max? and What are we going to do?
“She’ll come back,” Alec tells them, again and again. “She’ll come back and we’ll figure this mess out.”
He isn’t built to be a leader. He’d never held command position in Manticore; he’s always been the one in back, disreputable, rebellious, sarcastic. And now those same people who’d loathed him at Manticore, who’d despised him for no other reason than the fact that he was the clone of an 09er look towards him for leadership.
Somewhere along the way, he notices, 09ers have ceased being demons and started being standards, symbols of freedom.
Alec doesn’t share the popular view. He knows Max for what she was; proud, aloof, arrogant and, above all selfish.
He can’t help thinking that she’d run away. Bolted when things got to tough. That she’d left Alec behind to pick up the pieces just like her group had left the rest of them behind at Manticore all those years ago. He clings to that that anger, clings stubbornly to that belief.
After all, it’s easier to picture Max as a coward then dead.
Things get easier.
Alec learns the language of command slowly, he makes choices, some of them mistakes, some of them risky, some of them genius. He faces his first major crisis when some angry ordinaries got their hand one of the desert breed transgenics and have themselves a good old fashion lynching. He runs damage control, by some miracle manages to avoid another war. His anger at Max fades each day she’s gone. When he makes a hard decision he asks himself What would Max do? And when he makes a moral one he asks What would Logan do?
And he makes the right decision.
The weeks turn into months. He picks a last name, breaks his wrist in three places, learns how to play basketball, falls in love.
He hardly notices as the months pass and accumulate until abruptly, it’s a year since he’s last seen Max and Logan. He catches Original Cindy trying to enlist Joshua in planning a memorial service for them.
“Memorial means dead,” Joshua says. “Gone, not coming back. Max is coming back. Max and Logan coming back. That’s the plan.”
“They’re gone,” Original Cindy says softly. “I love my boo more than you can know, but she and roller boy, they disappeared a year ago. They’re not coming back.”
“Disappeared,” Joshua said stubbornly like he doesn’t realize that it’s a euphemism for dead. “Max and Logan coming back. That’s the plan.”
Alec turns away.
In a locked draw in Alec’s room there is a list. A dozen or so names and dates. It’s not everyone who’s died since he left Manticore, not by a long shot, but it’s his list, his friends, his heroes.
He stares at it for a long time, traces the names, recalls the faces and then as if he had been planning to do it all along, he pulls out his pen and etches Max and Logan Cale into the paper.
Hands shaking, he replaces the paper in his drawer and locks it shut. And for the first time he can recall, Alec cries.
He comes up with a thousand reasons why the two of them might have left. How maybe they fount they’re mythical cure and ran away to Iowa or how they are both suffering chronic amnesia and living in blissful ignorance in this very city. He concocts lives for them in the darkness, elaborate stories where they get their happily ever after.
Because if those two don’t deserve to be happy, Alec doesn’t know who does.
“Who were they?”
Alec looks up. A young girl is staring at him, young enough to be a transgenic born into freedom. Young enough not to know Max as anything but hearsay. Young enough so the name Logan Cale would be completely foreign. He doesn’t answer immediately.
“Mr. McCale!” she implores.
“Call me Alec,” he says quickly. He’d picked the name so he would remember; his own private homage to Logan who he’d admired more than he’ll ever admit. Still, he’s never been quite comfortable responding to the name. He thinks maybe that’s why he chose it: a constant reminder of the people who shaped him.
“Who are they?”
Alec gently takes the picture from the girl, examines it. It’s from before he knew them. Logan’s sitting in his wheelchair, Max perched above him, arm draped around his shoulder. They’re smiling, laughing, happier than Alec has ever seen them. He hands the photo back. “Max and Logan,” he says and watches as the girl’s eyes widen. “Old friends of mine.”
“You were friends with them?”
Alec hesitates. In retrospect, friends may be too kind a word. He was an annoyance to Max, and a rival to Logan. But they had tolerated him, laughed with him, at him…
“They made me better,” Alec says quietly and that at least is true.
One night when he’s collapsed in from of the TV with a bag of popcorn he sees a ghost. Logan’s eyes suddenly appear on the television screen accompanied by an all too familiar mantra.
This is a streaming freedom video bulletin. The cable hack will last exactly sixty seconds. It cannot be traced. Cannot be stopped. And it is the only free voice left in this city.
His mouth goes dry. He drops his bag of popcorn and it spills its buttery kernels all over his bed. It’s a voice he hasn’t heard in five years and yet the face is inherently recognizable, the eyes unmistakable. His phone rings. He knows who it is before he picks it up. “OC?”
“You seeing what I’m seeing?”
He doesn’t quite process Eyes Only’s messages, just takes comfort in the familiar voice, the familiar cause. “Eyes Only up and running,” he says, maniac grin tearing across his features. “They made if after all.”
He isn’t assailed by the doubts until hours later when Original Cindy tears into Terminal City intent of finding them both. And then it hits him. If Logan and Max really were out there, they would have contacted them by now. He doubts Max would readily leave and he knows that as long Logan was breathing, Eyes Only would be too. The five year gap is too long to face without suspicion.
A few years ago, he would have plunged into the mystery headfirst, he wouldn’t have stopped until he found Logan and Max or whoever has the gull to imitate either one. He’s more cautious now. He tells Original Cindy to keep quiet and he waits for the next broadcast.
It comes in about a week’s time. He’s near his computer when it hits and he quickly turns to it and pulls up a tracking program and goes to work.
He knows almost immediately that it’s not Logan. He slides through firewalls and security far too easily for it to be Logan. He has an address before the hack is over.
And if Alec can find the address, it’s only a matter of time before the bad guys find them. He sighs and grabs his jacket. It’s time to go save another self-righteous do-gooder.
He calls Original Cindy with the news, but in the wake of the initial excitement, she’s realized that it was too good to be true. He hangs up and quashes the tears in his eyes.
Only then does he look to see the address.
Alec hasn’t been to this place in years. No one has. It’s abandoned, a relic, preserved by Max and Logan’s phantom presence. Walking up the creaking stairs and into the old house he has the disquieting sense of déjà vu.
The broken exoskeleton’s propped up against the dust coated couch. There’s a wheelchair with a twisted rim tucked discreetly into the corner. A pair of plastic gloves are lying disregarded on the floor. Something of Max’s shampoo still lingers in the air.
He rounds the corner and finds the computer set up. Wires and computer parts cobbled together into a haphazard broadcast device. There’s someone in the middle of it all. He can’t be more than eighteen with dusty brown hair, freckles and wire frames circling bright green eyes—not Logan’s eyes, not by a long shot. The kid doesn’t look like much of a fighter, but then again, Logan never had and he’d proved them all wrong.
“Eyes Only,” Alec says tentatively.
The kid’s eyes shoot up in a panic.
“Obviously not the original,” Alec continues. “You were what, six when Eyes Only first hit the air?”
“How did’ja find me?” he asks. He holds none of Logan’s confidence, none of his swagger. He’s too new at this.
“You need to buff up your security perimeter,” Alec says. “I slipped right through without even tripping a wire.”
“How the hell did’ja manage that?” the kid asks. Alec watches his eye, sees how they keep flickering out to the next room.
“I’m not going to kill you,” Alec says. “And I’m certainly not going to turn you in if that’s what you think. So you might as well invite your friend out.”
She comes when he says that, slinking into the room and eyeing him with suspicion. She’s slender, graceful with big dark eyes and long red hair and Alec gives the kid a nod of approval.
“Suppose one of us should get talking,” the kid says. “I’m looking to know how you managed to slip my security set up.”
“Eyes Only gave me the decoder ring a while back.” Alec’s voice hardens even though he’s desperate to keep it light. “And you’re not him. You’re not even close to his league.”
Their eyes both light up together, amazed to find some direct connection to the real Eyes Only. That’s something he’s going to have to teach them: Suspicion, how to watch their backs, because it’s already clear to him; he can’t leave these two on their own. They’re young, naive, and reckless. They’ll get themselves killed if they’re not careful.
Alec can’t let that happen, because looking at the two of them; he can’t help but see the next generation’s Max and Logan.
“First thing’s first,” he says. “Name’s Alec.”
“Reed,” the kid says and nods to his companion. “This here’s Lex.”
“Reed and Lex,” Alec says turning it over in his head. “I’m going to have to suggest you two grabbing some aliases you know, for the leg work. But first thing’s first, let’s see what kind of security you’ve got.”
Even as he leans over Reed’s computer, he wonders if he’s doing the right thing. Wonders if Max and Logan would approve of him dragging two innocents, bright and sharp, but still kids, into the world of the corrupt and dangerous.
Then again, that’s where they were headed if he helped them or not. And if there’s going to be another Eyes Only in this life, what’s the harm in making sure he’s long lived?
Life slows down.
Running Terminal City becomes less like running an army and more like being a member of a club. Reed and Lex are moving more or less autonomously now, but they still call him for back up on occasion and he’s happy to help.
Max and Logan get pushed to the back of his mind, filed away with all the bad memories of fighting and Manticore. It makes him more than a little guilty because, the two of them, they’re not bad memories, bittersweet maybe, but not bad. It’s just a part of his life that’s over now. He was a different person then, guarded, caustic, even dangerous.
But sometimes, he still wonders… He sees a girl on the street with curly brown hair and striking blue-green eyes and quicker than human motion and he thinks of the two of them, vanished without of trace. He sees Reed bend over the computer and thinks of Logan doing the same thing. He sees Terminal City’s flag soaring high and remembers how Max made it possible.
He likes to think they’re still out there, even if it means they’d abandoned their fight, their calling, he likes to think they’re alive. He likes to think they’re happy.
The names become legend in Terminal City, but then again, that’s what they’ve always deserved. Sometime, nearly a decade after they disappeared, Alec finds himself surrounded by a crowd of kids clamoring for stories because he’s the only one around who still knows enough to tell them.
The kids call them heroes and despite all evidence to the contrary that never sounds quite right to Alec. Probably because it never would would have sounded right to them. Despite everything, Max had always been reluctant to fill the hero’s role and Logan always had the notion that he was just doing his part to help the world and nothing more.
But they’d both been so much bigger than that.
So he tells the kids stories, everything he remembers, the good, the bad, the ugly. He casts himself as the sidekick, the annoyance and more than once, the villain, but it doesn’t change the kids’ enthralled expressions one bit.
After all, Max and Logan are the stuff of legend. Heroism, danger, love and a hopelessly enigmatic ending. Alec’s had his brush with greatness and he doesn’t mind being left behind. They had made him better.
“Tell us another,” the smallest one begs. “Just one more.”
Alec smiles and the kids bend close as he weaves his tale, all too happy to keep the legend alive.