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It was a simple stone slab. A simple piece of rock with a name and a few extra words chiselled into it in a surprisingly childish hand. Joshua's work of course.

And Alec couldn't go near it.

He had tried. Everyone in T.C., all of his nearest and dearest knew that. They'd seen it over and over again. Seen him, all decked out in black, at the entrance to the courtyard where a sad number of those slabs now sat. But he never went in. Just stood there by the rusted gates, staring in at a stone he was terrified to approach. Then he'd retreat, as always, to the safety of his apartment. To the solace that only solitude and a bottle of brown liquid could bring.

They left him to it.

No one wanted to say what they were all thinking. What he knew they were all thinking. No one wanted to say it, because they were family, and family sticks together. Family forgives and forgets. Family help each other through grief, through pain, through heartbreak and terror and anguish.

But it was hard, because no one could say anything that would help him. No one would say anything. Because another rule of family, is that they don't lie to each other. And the only way to alleviate Alec's grief, Alec's pain, his heartbreak and terror and anguish, would be to lie to him. To tell him that it wasn't his fault. That the stone, and the body buried in the wet Seattle ground beneath it, existed for any other reason than him failing in his duty.

He had failed. And though they had all forgiven him, no one would forget.

Especially Alec.

Mole told himself that Logan was the one to blame. That the damn cyber-journalist had no business calling on them – again and again – to help him and his damn vigilante crusades. It was obvious that they had more pressing problems at hand. Like providing food and shelter for two hundred transgenics and transhumans. But even Mole, in the darkest recesses of his heart, knew Alec was at fault as well. That if the X5 had just pushed away his goddamn pride and gone with her, she would still be alive.

And that was what it came down to. Everyone knew Alec would have given his own life to save Max's, but one ridiculous argument had led to her storming off on her own. To Alec letting her do it. To her having absolutely no backup or protection. To her being gunned down by a mafia henchman over Logan's idealistic vision of a Seattle without drugs.

So yeah, it was a simple stone slab. A monument with a few words chiselled in Josh's childish hand. A way to commemorate Max; their leader, their friend, their reluctant mother protecting them against the big bad world. And Alec couldn't go near it. Because he knew, that he above everything else, was a walking memory of Max. Because he had failed her. He didn't need to go near that damned stone. It wouldn't make anything better for him.

Alec would never forget Max, and while he still walked the rundown streets of the home she had helped create for their family, no one else would forget her either.