I want to thank everyone for the outstanding response to this repost! I really appreciate all of the support everyone has given me, both on the board and via email. You guys are the best!

Now I should get off my butt and work on B&P!

Darwin

Epilogue: Reflash

SIX MONTHS LATER:

Max moved through the apartment slowly, contemplating the last few months she had been back in society, and with Logan. She sighed, thinking about how they had been through a few rough spots, as would be expected with a long separation. There were times when her guilt or his would surface again, and they found themselves fighting. The specters of both their pasts would rise up and make their current situation miserable. Once or twice they had both considered taking time out from each other, unsure that the problems they were experiencing could be worked out. They could never stay away from each other long, the record being three days, they would get back together and work even harder to solve their problems.

The last month and a half had actually been smooth and they had finally settled into a comfortable routine. They had actually allowed themselves to believe that the happiness they were experiencing was in fact real.

They had added to their usual mundane routine a twice-daily regime of sparring, which seemed to clear them both of any frustrations of the day. Max and Logan both enjoyed the sessions, which more often than not led to passionate lovemaking right there on the sparring mat. Max had regained a lot of her muscle tone and weight, and her ability was about back up to where it had been prior to her internment. Logan had shown himself to be a more than worthy opponent, his skill nearly as good as hers had been when she had been in peak condition. She also was proud of the fact that she never had to worry about him taking it "easy" on her, he fought as if he was fighting for his life, and she matched him in his fervor.

Many days there was one or another of the Logan Cale Brigade over to visit, including Kito. Max had apologized to him for her reaction to him. Logan had been right, as he often was about people. Kito could very easily have betrayed Logan, Zach, Tinga, and Tima while they had been searching for her. He could have turned them over to Lydecker easily saving his reputation and probably putting him back in his bosses good graces. But he hadn't, he had led them to her and even fought his own brethren to do so.

Max's brow furrowed at the thought of the young Manticore soldier, she was worried about him. He did not seem to be able to adjust to living on the outside and she wondered if he was past a point where he could readjust to accept the new and freer lifestyle of being on the outside. Anytime that she had seen him he seemed depressed and it was affecting him in other ways as well. Logan had set him up with two jobs well suited for his talents only to have Kito lose them due to "Attitude Problems". Kito was staying with Tima in her apartment near the tower where they lived. Because without a job he could not get a place of his own, and Max wondered if he was going to make it.

Last she had heard Tima and Zach were actually dating, though Max was pretty certain that sooner or later Tima would get tired of Zach's "good little soldier" attitude and move on to a nice normal guy. Eh it remained to be seen. At least she had gotten over her infatuation with Logan, which had begun to get annoying. Max could see where it came from, Logan was the first one to help her out, for no other reason than he was a nice guy. She had never experienced that kind of selfless giving in her life and had fell in love with the idea of it. She never said as much and Logan wouldn't admit to knowing of her adoration. But she knew that it was there.

Max stopped in the doorway and watched Logan as he sat in front of his computer. He was talking via IM to two contacts at the same time he was reading compressed files that whizzed by at an incredible speed, a speed that would have allowed no normal human being to understand what they were seeing. Logan took it in comprehending all of it, but he was no longer a normal human being, he was altered by his mutated DNA giving him extraordinary abilities. And not just enhanced speed or strength that she had expected and seen coming out in him but enhanced mental capabilities as well. They were put to good use during his interviews with prospective contacts, his research and his ability to do at least five separate tasks at the once in less time than it took most to do one. He had gotten too fast for his "state of the art" system in less than six months after the appearance of his initial abilities. He turned the preternatural Manticore abilities to different uses than Max had or any Manticore she had ever known, being that he was not inherently a fighter.

That all still amazed Max, she remembered now about how he would get frustrated at the "snails pace" of his old computer. But she had never correlated it with his emerging abilities… until now. She watched him for a while longer, wondering when would be a good time to interrupt him with her news. He seemed engrossed in what he was doing, and she had seen him this submerged before, it usually took him awhile if he was interrupted to redirect his concentration to what was being said. She had sworn that she could see the information flowing across his pupils one time when she had interrupted him midstream. So she waited a while longer until he looked as if he was surfacing from the information flow.

"What is it?" He said suddenly, sensing her presence there, turning to face her. He smiled at her disconcerted look. That still drove her absolutely nuts that he could tell exactly when she was there or exactly her route through the place. It was impossible to sneak up on him. He stretched a long time before standing up and walking over to her. He laid light hands on her arms and kissed her lovingly, "You look like you got something on your mind," He said softly.

She smiled, "You becoming psychic too?" She teased him, then turned away and walked into the kitchen seating herself at one of the barstools.

He followed her looking curious, "So do I get to know what's going on inside that lovely head of yours or do I get to guess?"

"Oh I don't think that you could guess this one," Max said softly.

"What? You're pregnant?" Logan said jokingly.

"Are you sure you're not becoming a psychic?" She said sarcastically squinting at him as she laid her hand on her hip.

Logan's eyes widened, "You mean… You're really…."

"Whoa… the great Logan Cale at a loss for words," she chided him, "I am impressed…. Yes, Sam confirmed it today."

Before she knew what had happened he was embracing her and kissing her forehead, "Max that's wonderful!" He said enthusiastically looking down into her eyes happy and very much in love, "How far along?" He asked.

"About six to eight weeks," She said sounding happy and uncertain at the same time. Suddenly she was trembling.

"Max… what's wrong?"

She looked into his face with watery eyes, "I'm scared, Logan. What if I don't carry it to term… what if I lose it… just like the others?"

"You'll be fine Max," Logan reassured her squashing down hard on his own doubts about the ability of his wife to give birth to this child. Right behind that was the thought of his own age and his ability to be there when his child was growing up in this rough and tumble world, "Everything will be alright, you'll see," he said sounding strong even if he didn't necessarily feel that way.

Logan's head came up and his gaze moved the direction of the front door, "Kito's here," Logan said softly, releasing Max and moving toward the door. Max followed close behind him as he reached the door. He was about to open it when he said, "Jesus, no," backing away quickly, "Max! Get down!" He yelled pushing her into the side hall as he hit what she recognized as the panic button on his computer and grabbed the nine millimeter he still kept in arms reach at all time just as the door exploded inward.

Max watched helplessly as Logan was knocked back ten feet by the concussion of the blast. Before the smoke had even cleared Logan was firing into it from his back. She heard someone behind the smokescreen grunt and go down. As the smoke thinned six armed soldiers filed into the apartment training guns on Logan. He raised his hands and let the pistol fall. Still in a state of mental shock Max watched as if in slow motion as the beaten and bloody form of Kito was ushered into the hall. His hands were shackled behind him held at what looked to be a painful angle. His feet did not seem to stay under him dragging and stumbling as he was compelled to move forward. His captor walked in with all the air and authority of someone who knew they had won. She was flanked by two younger Manticore soldiers barcodes standing out like beacons on their foreheads. The one on the left was a short stout black girl with only a skullcap of hair and her barcode stood out like a negative before exposure stark white against her dark skin. The one to the right of the leader was a tall red headed burly looking young man. Each of the younger ones signaled the men nearest them whom moved off to search the rest of the apartment. Two of the soldiers trained guns on Logan and ordered him to lay flat on his stomach as one of them roughly put manacles on his wrists. They then forced him up onto his knees where they left him guns trained on his temples.

The woman in the lead dropped Kito on the ground, he was unable to catch himself and he landed heavily on his face. There he remained unmoving and Max noticed that he was barely breathing, beaten within an inch of his life. One arm looked dislocated or broken, as did his nose. His face was barely recognizable, covered in bruises and his left brow lip and right ear were split from repeated hits with something blunt.

The woman took one step forward straddling Kito's broken form as she moved her surly gaze about the visible portion of the apartment.

"Orders ma'am?" The short black woman asked calmly as the remaining soldier returned, adding their firepower to ensure that Logan and Max did not move. The woman's eyes stopped when she encountered Max crouched where she was stunned to be seeing the face again after all these years. She began to wonder why she had allowed Manticore to take her back even if she had been dying.

"Bryn," Max breathed, she was waking up from her dream again…. Into a nightmare.

"Kill her, Him…Lydecker wants him alive," She said evenly.

"NO!" Max screamed.

"No!" Max burst, starting awake, breathing heavy and drenched in sweat. The room was dark and silent, there was no smoke, no soldiers looming over her, no broken body of Kito lying before her. Bryn was not standing in her hallway waiting to take Logan away from her, giving him over into slavery. The grip of it was still strong in her head though, "God," She whispered finding herself crying.

"M…Max?" She heard Logan say sleepily beside her, "Is everything OK?" Slowly he sat up as well hearing her crying and wrapped an arm around her, "Max?" he asked again.

"A nightmare," she muttered through her tears, "It was just a nightmare." She said quietly, somehow she wasn't so sure.

The End?