AN: I don't own SM. I own the plot.
Serena closed the door behind her and paused before she started the short walk to her apartment. She would change and then go to the police station; of course she would have to stop for coffee. "No," she said softly, trying to work up courage. She would have to tell them the truth, the whole truth. A thought struck and she stopped in horror. What would happen if she told them the truth? What if they took Sammy?
She turned to walk back to Max's apartment and bumped into a strange man. "I'm sorry," she said as she moved past him, still staring at the ground. If she had been looking up, she would have seen the grin he was wearing as he turned and walked softly behind her.
He grabbed her and stifled her scream with a cloth he had in his hand. Her last conscious thoughts before she blacked out were of Sammy.
Hours later, Serena opened her eyes and winced as bright light flooded her senses. "Serena," said a ghostly voice from somewhere beyond the light. She brought her hands, bound by rope, up to cover her eyes.
"Who are you? What do you want?" she called into the darkness. There was a clicking noise and suddenly the cold barrel of a gun pressed into her temple. "If I were you, I would keep quiet." Serena whimpered when he spoke into her ear and closed her eyes tightly.
"Please don't kill me, please. I have a child," her voice was shaky with emotion. "Don't worry, Serena. Soon enough and you won't have to worry about him ruining our lives."
Serena felt the gun barrel leave her forehead and she looked around wildly. "Where are you?" she shouted. She felt rage boil up inside of her when there was no answer. "You bastard! If you hurt my son, I'll kill you."
A door slammed and Serena's bravado collapsed. Her heart raced and her thoughts sped as she tried to find a way out. This couldn't be the last time she would ever see her family.
Max leaned back against the couch with his eyes closed as Artie and Sammy seemed to bounce of the walls. There were pillows on the floor, and one of them had mysteriously ripped open, spilling goose down feathers all over the floor. It was times like these that made him glad that he wasn't a father.
"Sammy," he called, his eyes still closed. The reply was muffled, but still audible. "What?" Max sat up and groaned. "Where is your mother?" his voice was husky with pain. Sammy's head popped out from under a pillow and he shrugged. "How am I supposed to know? She left a few hours ago."
He disappeared back under the pillow and the sound of scuffling and pre-adolescent laughs. The doorbell rang and Max groaned, a hand at his back as he walked toward the door. He opened it with a pleasant smile, but his smile faded when he saw the woman standing there.
"Mina?" he asked, not believing his eyes. The woman in question gasped. "Max, how are you?" she asked nonchalantly. A small blonde blur sped by and Max watched Artie throw himself into Mina's arms, shouting. She turned to leave and Max grabbed her arm. "Artie is your son?" his voice was rough, accusing.
Mina knelt at eye level with Artie and pulled a five-dollar bill out of her purse. "Artie, baby, why don't you and Sammy go down to the café and get a milkshake." Her eyes softened as she watched him run and she turned back to the man in front of her.
"It's been a long time," she said, fingering the strap of her purse nervously. "How have you been?"
Max was watching Artie climb into the elevator. "He's my son, isn't he?" he asked softly. Mina's lower lip trembled. "Yes, he is," she replied, her voice equally soft.
Max whirled around and walked into the apartment, slamming the door behind him, Mina sat there for a moment, her eyes filling with tears. Finally she came to her senses and wiped her eyes, she turned and walked toward the elevator. As the doors closed, Max stepped out of the apartment and sighed when he saw that she was gone.
Mina held her head in her hands, still inside the elevator. She didn't want her son to see her cry. It upset him. She wiped her eyes on her sleeves as she stepped from the elevator, bumping into a man. "Sorry," she said softly as she walked by.
The arcade was next to the apartment building, so it didn't take long for Mina to walk there. Sammy and Artie were sitting at the counter, each with one of Andrew's signature chocolate shakes in front of them, and all over them.
"Look at these messy boys. Who could they belong to?" she asked as she came up and kissed their cheeks, coming away with chocolate covered lips. "Hey, Andrew. How's it going?"
He was grinning like a fool, his eyes alight with joy and Mina's jaw dropped. "Is Lita…" she let the question trail and Andrew nodded. Mina screamed and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. "Congratulations," she whispered.
Lita came out of the kitchen to see what the ruckus was and Mina grabbed her, doing a crazy jig. "Congrats." She hugged her tightly before stepping back. "How far along?" Her voice was light and teasing and Lita couldn't help but smile.
"We don't know yet." She was practically jumping with joy and Andrew rushed over. "Sweetheart, shouldn't you be sitting down?" he asked, taking her elbow and leading her to a stool. Mina only laughed.
"I'd better get Sammy back to Serena's place. She worries." She took the boys hands and led them from the restaurant. "You boys are filthy." She pulled a pack of baby wipes from her purse and wiped their faces while they tried to wriggle away.
"Mom, cut it out," Artie said, moving out from under her hands. They took the elevator up to Serena's floor and the boys ran ahead, Sammy unlocked the door and they rushed in. Mina was walking slowly behind them when she smelled it.
It was a sickly sweet smell and she stopped, looking around. She saw the rag lying in the corner by the stairwell. There was a red smudge on the bag and her gut tightened and roiled. She hesitantly reached for the rag and tugged. It opened, lying flat on the ground and she brought her hand to her mouth. There was a red lipstick print on the bag.
Mina stood quickly and, in the heat of the moment, did the only thing she could think of. She ran and pounded on Max's door.
When he answered and saw Mina there, he opened his mouth to say something, but the retort died on his lips when he saw how pale and shaken she was.
"What happened?" he asked, reaching for her arm. She licked her lips and pointed to the rag. He came out and crouched down next to it, lifting it slightly and recoiling at the smell.
"I recognize that smell. It's chloroform." When he didn't answer, didn't look at her she felt a greasy hysteria rising. The emotion was only heightened when Sammy and Artie came out of Serena's apartment.
"My mom isn't home yet. Can I stay with you Max?" he asked. Not waiting for Max's answer, he walked right in and Mina reached for her cell phone.
"I'd like to report a kidnapping," she said quietly, not wanting the boys to hear her.