Carpe Diem by Star24
Disclaimer: Don't own them don't profit from them….you know the drill.
A/N:This is a response to a fic challenge on the Cape Haven writers list to write an M/L ghost story in 1500 words or less.
Max yawned and stretched out, catlike, in her bed. The night before, her body had suddenly demanded sleep and she had crashed hard, into a dreamless oblivion. Good thing it was a Sunday because she had definitely overslept. Original Cindy hadn't come home; probably spent the night with the hot lickety-boo she had been hanging with at Crash when Max had left to go home.
Max made her way to the kitchen and, out of habit, poured herself a glass of milk, even though her seizures hadn't reappeared since her "vacation" at Manticore. She was debating whether to fix some food, when there was a knock on the door. She opened it and her mouth dropped as Valerie, Logan's ex, brushed by her with a whiff of cool, damp air.
"Excuse me, but I don't exactly remember inviting you in," 'bitch' remained unsaid but was very much evident in Max's tone.
"So there's the door. Use it." Max was in no mood for dealing with Logan's spoiled ex-wife. Instead of leaving, Valerie floated over to the sofa and, after a disdainful glance at its worn condition, delicately perched herself on the edge.
"Do I have to throw you out? Not that I'd mind."
Valerie laughed, a light, affected sound. "I think you better listen to what I have to say."
"What could you possibly have to say to me?" Max's disdain for Valerie was evident in her tone.
"Drop the holier than thou act," Valerie's voice was suddenly hard. "I know you hate me because of Logan. But you're in no position to throw stones."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean? You lied and cheated on him when you were married, and then, when he was down and hurting from being in the chair, you came back to play him. You knew he was vulnerable, and you tried to take advantage of him, while you were kickin' it with that low-life you hooked up with." Max was furious, and started towards Valerie, intending to physically evict her, and maybe inflict a few bruises on that perfectly made up face while she was at it.
"I did all of that, and more. I had my reasons at the time, and I won't say they were the right ones, but that's not why I'm here. Logan is a good man, one of the best. He saw things in me I never saw in myself, and his mistake was in thinking that he could bring them out. Logan never believes in the bad in people he cares for, he only sees the good, and that's why it's so easy to hurt him. I did hurt him and I'm sorry."
"So what, you want me to plead your case with him now? Get you some more money? News flash, Logan's broke. Cale Industries is gone. So why don't you go find some other golden goose and let me fix my breakfast. I get cranky when I'm hungry, and right now I'm starving." Max glared at Valerie.
"I don't want anything from Logan. I want something from you."
"Yeah right," Max sneered. "Like one of the pieces of designer jewelry that you think Logan gave me? Sorry to disappoint, but I don't have any jewelry, and I don't believe black leather is your taste in clothes. I won't say it's been fun, but I gotta blaze, so let yourself out." Max started toward the door, confident if she left, that her unwelcome visitor would do the same.
She tried to open the door but it was stuck and refused to open, even with her enhanced strength. "What the hell?" she muttered.
"Max, you need to hear me out, and then I'll leave." Valerie was standing behind her, even though Max hadn't heard her walk over from the other room.
Max sighed in frustration, "I'll give you two minutes. Only because my girl just did my nails, and for once I'd like them to last for more than a couple hours. After that, the manicure loses out. Got it?"
"I've got it." Valerie was somehow back on the sofa. Max shook her head to clear it, and perched on one of the stools at the counter between the kitchen and living area.
"Max, you're a two faced bitch."
"Wh…what the hell..." Max started to rise.
"I never loved Logan. That was my excuse but you don't have one. You do love him and yet you're still killing him."
"Killing him? I'm NOT killing him, that's why I'm staying away from him, you dumb bitch." Max was furious.
"Oh right, the 'virus'." Valerie laughed mockingly.
"How the hell do you know about that?" Max rose and stalked towards Valerie threateningly.
"I have my means. Max, stop being stupid. I didn't mean you were killing Logan physically, although I suppose it could come to that. He does still have that gun…"
"Who are you working for?" Max demanded, taken further aback by Valerie's apparent knowledge of Logan's contemplated suicide, something he had never even discussed with her, even after that frightening day when she had thought she had lost him.
"No one. You could say this is my penance for some of the rotten things I've done. I need to make up to Logan for some of the hurt I caused him. I figure the best way to do that is to talk some sense into that thick head of yours." Valerie's tone had softened and Max sensed that she was sincere. Relaxing a bit, she sat back down and listened.
"Max, it's never been about the physical between you two. There's always been more to it. I saw that last year, even when I was wrapped up in my own selfish little world. Why are you really letting the virus come between you?"
"Because I could kill him if I'm around him…"
"Haven't you heard of gloves? For a genetically engineered genius you can be pretty dumb sometimes. Seems to me that two people as smart as you and Logan could figure out something, at least until you can find a cure. And speaking of cures, I don't exactly see you going full steam ahead looking for one. Playing Mommy to the transgenics is all well and good but, Max, Logan needs you more than they do right now. He loves you. He never loved me the way he loves you. I wish he had, maybe it would have made a difference."
Max sat speechless, stunned at Valerie's words. As she tried to gather her thoughts, Valerie rose and glided toward the door.
"That's pretty much it. Think about what you're doing. Don't throw away something that not too many people even have a chance for. Don't be standing at Logan's grave someday, wishing you'd done things differently. Carpe Diem, Max. It may not be exactly the day you wanted, but any day with Logan should make you damn happy."
The door opened easily, even though it seemed to Max's dazed eyes that Valerie hadn't touched it, and Valerie was gone. Max sat there for a few moments, and then she rose and walked over to her bike.
* * * *
Logan was sitting in his chair, staring out the window when she let herself into his apartment. She didn't attempt to hide her approach, but he didn't turn to look at her.
"Hey," she said softly, standing beside him. Looking down, she saw traces of tears on his face.
"Hey, Max." His voice was hoarse. "I probably won't be good company today. I just had some...news."
"What happened?" Max asked gently, concerned.
"Valerie died of an overdose last night. Her sister thought I should know…"
Max sucked in her breath. "Last night? Are you sure?"
"Renee has no reason to lie to me. I know I shouldn't care after the way Val treated me, but I can't help feeling I should have done…something. She was so young and lost when I met her and I thought I could save her, help her. Instead maybe I helped destroy her…"
Max knelt on the floor next to him and reached out, taking his hand. Logan looked at her startled and tried to pull his hand back.
" s'okay. Gloves. See?" Max held up their joined hands. She had donned a pair of latex gloves and covered them with her black leather bike gloves. The latex peeped out of the bottom of the black gloves. "Even if we can't do more, there's no reason we can't at least hold hands. Tomorrow I plan on following some leads I found for some renegade Manticore gene docs. We're gonna beat this thing Logan." She smiled mistily at him.
Logan smiled back as he squeezed her hand. His eyes still reflected his pain, but behind it there was a flash of hope. The first hope Max had seen there in weeks.
Together they shared the silence, hands clasped, as they stared out at the broken world below.