Author: lisa316 PM
A present for Shywr1ter, in response to Mia’s Christmas in July challenge. ML Shippiness.Rated: Fiction T - English - Max & Logan C./Eyes Only - Words: 3,689 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-19-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3667565
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story is for Shywriter, who wanted a secret confession; Max experiencing her first Christmas in July, some Bling; a happy, romantic, funny, hopeful ending; nobody dying; no excessively weird/bad/stupid Season 2 stuff; no fortunes lost; some previously unknown information about Max's DNA; and no split infinitives.
I got everything but that last part.
Merry Christmas, Shy!
It had started out as a simple reconnaissance mission. Logan had asked Max to go with him to the warehouse district to scout out a weapon dealer's base of operations. He wanted to make sure the blueprint that his informant had given him was accurate and assure that it was safe before sending Max in to liberate the pertinent files. But after circling the perimeter twice, Max had decided that their skimpy security was no match for a transgenic cat burglar armed with a lock pick and determination, and she announced that she was going in. Logan reminded her that it was better to be safe than sorry, and she countered by explaining to him that she was bored and had better things to do than sit in a car all night casing a joint that wasn't that well guarded. She then flounced off and disappeared into the darkness. Max had no problem sneaking in and recovering the file that contained a list of buyers, as well as all the policemen who had taken money to look the other way. Eyes Only would be able to hack into tomorrow's prime time lineup, shutting the guy's operation down once and for all and busting a half dozen corrupt policemen as a bonus. It was a good night's work.
They drove back to Logan's place feeling a great sense of accomplishment. Max had even forgotten to remind herself that she didn't give a damn. She actually felt good about herself as they recounted their victory and he applauded her success at getting in and out unnoticed. Their luck held out until they reached Logan's building and he pulled his car into the underground parking structure. Just as they pulled into the garage, the lights began to flicker. After two feeble attempts to hold on, the overhead lamps slowly dimmed to black. The air grew still as the generator noise died down, starved of power until they went silent. The car's headlights were the only source of illumination as Logan pulled the car into his parking space.
"Looks like another brownout," Max said, feeling decidedly foolish for stating the obvious.
"Looks like," he agreed. Logan let out a resigned sigh as he shut off the ignition. They sat for the briefest moment in complete darkness before Logan switched on the car's cabin light, illuminating the interior of his car to a soft, dim yellow. He adjusted his seat and leaned back, as though he expected to be there for awhile and was trying to get comfortable.
As Max watched him settling into his seat, she realized what Logan must have already known. The power was out, which meant the elevators weren't working, and Logan couldn't exactly make his way up twenty-seven flights of stairs. Max stared at him for a moment, realizing that he was calmly preparing to stay in his car until the power was restored.
"So if there's a brownout, you just wait it out?" she asked. She couldn't explain why, but that thought made her a little sad. She tried not to dwell on it, but there were probably some occasions when Logan's life really did suck because of the chair.
"Afraid so," he confirmed lightly, not terrible unfazed by the situation. At least it was a warm summer night. Logan had been trapped in a similar situation a few months prior, and he had been forced to sit in total darkness to conserve the car's battery enough to provide sporadic blasts from the car's heater. He gave her a reassuring smile to convince her that he wasn't traumatized by the thought of sitting in a car for a little while.
"You can go, Max. It's alright," he said, indicating towards her motorcycle. She had left it in the spot she had unofficially designated as her private parking space next to the building's underground entrance. "I don't need a babysitter. After all, I'm sitting in my car, what could happen to me?" he reasoned.
Max didn't bother answering that question. She wondered if Logan was being macho or naïve or just plain stupid. A brownout was like Mardi Gras for the criminal element of Seattle. Vandalism and robbery and assault were rampant when the lights went out. The few Sector Police that actually tried to keep the mayhem in check were rendered helpless during a brownout, and everyone knew it. Max could imagine a wide assortment of nasty scenarios that could befall Logan as he sat alone in the dark. She couldn't just leave him there.
Max imitated Logan's actions by shifting her seat back as well and settling into a relaxing pose, resting her feet on the car's dashboard. "Nah. I might as well just kick it here with you," she said nonchalantly. "All the clubs go dead when there's no power; I got nothing better to do."
"Gee, thanks," Logan answered dryly. Although he appreciated her motives, he didn't want to make it too obvious. He shifted again, getting more comfortable as he resigned himself to what could become a very well turn into along wait.
Max tried to mirror his Zen attitude of acceptance. She made it almost a full minute before she began to fidget restlessly. "These brownouts seriously bite!" she spat.
"Oh, it's not that bad,' Logan said, giving her a soft, mirthless smile. "I can remember a time in my life where I didn't mind sitting in a dark car with a pretty girl."
Max took that as an opening to begin a potentially interesting conversation. "Logan Cale: All American Boy Scout and future savior of the downtrodden; trying to get to second base with a girl in the back of a parked car? I find myself shocked! Who was she and when did all this parking take place, anyway?"
"Hmmm. Summer of 2005. Her name was Jane. She was on the debate team, and she had freckles," Logan said with a quirk of his eyebrow and a slight smirk as he remembered.
"Jane with freckles?" Max asked, her voice laced with skepticism.
"Well, she wasn't a turkey egg or anything. She just had this little spray of freckles across her nose and another one across the top of her…" he stopped, feeling that to say anything more would be indiscreet. "Let's just say her freckles were memorable."
"I see!" Max couldn't help but grin as she gave Logan an appraising look. It was a rare occurrence for him to confide such personal details about himself, especially about his love life, even if it had been so long ago. He talked so little about anything outside of Eyes Only, and she enjoyed the moments when he let his guard down more than she liked to admit.
"What about you?" he quizzed, turning to face her. "Who was the first boy lucky enough to get you into a dark backseat?"
Max didn't want to tell him about being fifteen and attacking her foster father in her first heat induced frenzy. That unfortunate occurrence had caused her to pack her few belongings and hit the road, never to stay with a family again. Her romantic encounters that followed during her teen years were just as unsavory, and they lacked the youthful innocence of 'Jane with freckles,' so she smiled and changed the subject.
"We got good stuff tonight, didn't we?" she asked.
"Are you kidding? A weapon dealer out of business and seven dirty cops off the street all in one swipe? It's like Christmas in July."
Max took a moment to ponder that new expression, since it was her distinct impression that Christmas was celebrated in December. Her curiosity was piqued. "What's 'Christmas in July'?"
"Just a thinly veiled excuse to celebrate in the summertime and get something special when you weren't expecting it," Logan explained. As an afterthought, he added, "Come to think of it, I haven't heard that phrase much since the Pulse. I suppose these days folks have a hard enough time making Christmas happen once a year; they don't get to overindulge like they used to."
"So if I sign up for this 'Christmas in July' thing, do I get a present?" Max asked with a calculating arch of her eyebrow.
"Only if you've been a good girl," Logan answered levelly. "I believe the standard rules still apply in the summer months."
"Oh," she said, knowing that her behavior was generally more naughty than nice and would probably never get her into Santa's good graces. "Well, maybe next year."
He chuckled softly and agreed, "Maybe." They continued talking about nothing in particular, reminiscing and exchanging quips back and forth, until the conversation slowed and they lapsed into a comfortable, peaceful silence. There was something tranquil about sitting in the dark, silent, still garage. They relaxed in the car's dim light, lost with their own thoughts as the time passed slowly by.
After a while, Max got tired of sitting in one position and stretched, arching her back and rolling her shoulders back and forth. Logan was reminded of a cat stretching out in preparation for a nap. He simultaneously loved and hated it when she did things like that. Seeing her feline side so obviously displayed made his mind dart in all sorts of unpredictable, uncontrollable, dangerous directions. His thoughts drifted to images of Max bumping her head against his shoulder and running her nails across his chest. He was assaulted with a mental image of her looking at him with those dark, sultry eyes while lapping thick cream out of a saucer and licking the corners of her lips while a stray drop traveled down her chin. He pictured himself trailing firm, slow kisses across the back of her neck while he listened to her purring deep in her throat, feeling the vibration on his lips. An onslaught of forbidden ideas instantly overtook his imagination in a warm rush and quickly spiraled out of control.
A moment later he realized what he was doing. Logan pushed the images out of his head, giving himself a virtual slap across the face and forcing himself to take a mental cold shower to clear his mind. He wondered for the millionth time exactly when Max had gotten so deep under his skin. How did she manage to arouse him and intrigue him and occupy his mind with the only most everyday actions? He reminded himself yet again that it was impossible. It was no use expending energy on something that would never be in the cards. If he hadn't been so busy chastising himself for his inappropriate mental detour, he might have noticed Max shifting uncomfortably in the seat next to him.
Max sat uneasily next to Logan, wondering if she should tell him. It was something she just hated talking about, and it would be so mortifying to have to admit it to the only man whose high esteem she valued. Still, it felt all bent, like she was invading his privacy or something. He was the only person who knew about her deep, dark, secret life, and he was always encouraging her to try out this new "honesty" thing with him. Despite her better judgment, she decided to let him know.
"Logan, there's something I should probably tell you," she began. She took a deep, steadying breath. She never thought she would share this information with anyone outside of Manticore. She actually squirmed in her seat as she tried to decide on the best way to explain. "You know how my DNA is all screwy?"
"I know you've been enhanced," he said carefully, his gentle, understanding voice letting her know it was safe to confide any secret with him. He could see her anxiety and tried to make this easier for her, even as he wondered what she could possibly be so upset about telling him.
"Well, you know I'm transgenic; they tossed a bunch of weird crap into my genetic stew when they cooked me up."
"Yes?" He continued to wait patiently for Max to tell him what was on her mind.
"I have termite DNA," she quickly confessed with a rush of breath as her face began to burn with embarrassment.
"Huh?" was his brilliant response.
"I have…Oh God, Logan, please don't make me say that out loud again," she pleaded.
He was quiet for a moment while he digested this new information, wondering why she had chosen to share this detail about herself with him. He also wondered if this explained her insatiable appetite or her propensity to chew gum all the time. He sorted through all the questions that raced through his mind and settled on the most obvious, asking, "Why would they give you termite DNA?"
"They put termite DNA into all the female x-5s," she explained. "Termite queens have this special ability to communicate psychically with the workers and the scouts, so she can tell them where to build and stuff. I guess they thought it would make soldiers in the field follow our orders without question or something…I don't know.
"Well…interesting little side effect: sometimes I can pick up on a person's thoughts. Not telepathy or anything like that; I just pick up on strong feelings sometimes. It only really works when it's quiet, and dark, and still…like now…and the emotions are really intense. For example…um…I could feel what you were thinking about me just then," she finished in another quick rush.
Now it was Logan's turn to be mortified as he remembered the ignoble direction his thoughts had been traveling in moments before. He silently prayed for quick death as he realized Max was aware of the erotic fantasies that featured her in the starring role. Even if she didn't know exactly what he was thinking, she had felt the strong desire he had for her. He felt like a little boy that had just been caught with a dirty magazine. Logan actually blushed, a reaction he hadn't experienced in many years and thought he was immune from. "Max, I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean," he stammered.
"No, Logan," she cut him off. "It's OK, really. It's not your fault. It's not like you could have known I've been revved up with bug ESP. I don't believe it myself some days."
The sat in silence that had changed from companionable to extremely, painfully awkward, each staring straight ahead and trying to think of something to say that would ease the agonizing tension and didn't seem too idiotic.
Max was still stinging from the humiliation of confessing that she was part wood-gnawing insect; it definitely wasn't her finest moment. Still, she found some unexpected solace in the notion that Logan could feel such hot emotions towards her. There was no denying that she had feelings for him, and she always suspected that he felt strongly for her as well. But since they were both completely chicken and neither of them were ever willing to cross that fine line and shed their emotional barriers, Max never really knew where she stood. There was something gratifying about knowing for sure that Logan's attitude about her wasn't strictly platonic, even if he was just fantasizing about sex. Yet somehow, with Logan, she doubted that was all there was to it.
Logan continued to stare ahead, still too appalled to meet her gaze. She was touched that he would be so flustered about being caught out like this. In Max's experience, men usually had kinky sexual fantasies about her and any other woman in the room, and they weren't terribly ashamed about it. But Logan had been thinking about only her, and the heat he had given off had been intense and focused and so passionate.
Max wasn't sure why she did what she did next. She didn't know if it was impulse or instinct or her tendency to fly by the seat of her pants when making crucial, life-altering decisions. Maybe his feelings of desire had affected her, or maybe it was the best way she could think of to break the awkward silence, or maybe sitting alone in a dark car on a hot summer night triggers a basic human impulse that she was previously unaware of. She didn't know why, she just kissed him.
"Merry Christmas in July, Logan," she said as she dove onto his lap.
Logan was jolted from his self-recrimination by a dream come true climbing up against him and pressing her lips onto his. His first impulse was to stop her, to tell her that she didn't need to feel obligated because of some stray, inappropriate ideas he couldn't control. But as she continued to kiss him, invading his senses and wrapping his brain in a warm fog, his objections died, and he decided that if this is the way dirty thoughts were rewarded, he would let his mind float down the gutter more often.
They had kissed once before, so many months ago; a kiss full of desperation and finality and aching sadness. They kissed because they had nothing left to lose and they thought it was the end, and it had left them both feeling emotionally exhausted and old beyond their years. This kiss was nothing like their first. Instead of being a bittersweet seal of closure, it was new and fresh and inquisitive. Her lips brushed softly over his, pulling away with quiet hesitation and then returning to linger, testing and exploring. This time their kiss felt like a beginning.
Tentative caresses became more intense as they continued to kiss in the dark front seat of the car. Any tricks or technique that they may have acquired over the years were forgotten as they focused only on the sensation. Logan felt like he was kissing a girl for the first time; everything felt so electric and not-quite-allowed as the soft, sleek curls of her hair slipping through his fingers. He was sure it was a dream that he would wake from any minute, but he prayed he would stay asleep a little while longer as his hands dared to wander further down her back.
They swapped precious kisses and groped with hot, eager hands while foggy condensation began to form on the car's windows. The gear shift was displaced when Max tried to climb across his lap and Logan accidentally hit the button that turned on the hazard lights when he leaned forward to pull her closer, but they neither noticed nor cared. When the power came back on, Logan wasn't sure if he was hearing the generators or the blood roaring in his ears, and they continued to kissing as though it had just been invented.
They were blissfully aware of each other but oblivious to everything else, so they jumped in shock when they heard the tapping at the car window. Max immediately shimmied off of Logan's lap and back into her own seat, as Logan looked up to see Bling tapping on the glass with a metal flashlight. He opened the car door, still breathless and befuddled, and demanded, "What?"
"Hey," Bling answered. "Just came to check on you; I thought you might have gotten stuck down here with the brownout. I didn't know Max was with you. What's wrong with your windows?" he asked as an afterthought.
Logan simply stared at his physical therapist, wondering if the man would have grounds to sue him after being fired for really bad timing.
Max felt another embarrassment-induced heat wave hit her cheeks as she tried to discretely smooth out her disheveled hair. She hoped that Logan would have the common sense not to draw attention to his shirt by tucking it in again, which would be a dead giveaway to the activities that had caused it to relocate in the first place. When she saw a smirk of realization start to play across Bling's face, her temperature went up a few more degrees and she knew she was done.
"Well, powers back up…I gotta blaze."
She made to quickly exit the car, but Logan grasped her hand, stopping her before she could run off. He was still flushed and out of breath as he pulled her back closer to him and softly said, "Max, wait. Please." His eyes pleaded with her, unable to find the words that would adequately communicate everything he wanted to say.
She stared back at him, shutting out everyone and everything else and forgetting her warm cheeks. She knew exactly what he was feeling, and it had nothing to do with insect communication. She leaned in and whispered in his ear, "Don't worry, Logan. It's only the nineteenth; still twelve days until August." And with a mischievous wink and a burst of agile haste, she ducked out of the car, hopping on her motorcycle and revving the engine. With another embarrassed, private smile just for him, she zoomed off into the night, too distracted to remember to turn on her headlight as she sped off into the night.
Author's note: Extra special thanks to Brigitte, who helped to inspire this story by sending me the article about termite telepathy. It's a fact, you know.
(Shy loves 'em!)