Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I swear, I don't. At least nothing from the DA Universe. James Cameron is the guy who does.
Spoilers: Well, you're gonna find out when you start reading, but for those who won't: this starts where "Haven" should have taken place.
A/N: Yepp, I'm back. Hope you're not too scared. If you're expecting M/A or a lot of action: leave right now. All you're gonna get is pure M/L fluff. Everything your shipper heart needs (well, I hope), but nothing more.
Thanks to Kasman for betaing and saving you reader from the alpha version of this :-) And, btw, the notes so far haven't been betaed.
---------------------------------------------------------1. Hiking in the Cascades
"Hey," Max grinned at him, as he turned away from his computer.
"Hey. Where you going?" he asked, wondering about the gas container and the travel bag in her hands.
"We, remember?" she replied, putting down what she had been carrying. "The dizzying heights...fresh country air...hiking in the Cascades...We talked about it last week!"
Max followed Logan as he rolled over to the table that was piled high with files and papers. "You might've noticed there've been some changes since then," he said. "Unless you're planning to roll me off of Mount Rainier, you might want to reconsider."
"What? You're back in the chair so you can't have a life anymore?" she asked, frustrated at his attitude.
Logan's voice stayed calm, but he couldn't hide all of his emotions. "No, but I can't exactly scale mountains, now, can I?" he gave back.
"Forget about the dizzying heights," Max said, understanding. "What about the country air? Campfires...S'mores?" she added, pleadingly, trying to calm him down.
Logan removed his earpiece and made up another argument, knowing Max wouldn't allow him to use the chair as his only one. "I got work to do."
Now he had gotten her angry. "And I spent the entire morning waiting in line for gas. I did that, after I had called the agent to make sure the cabin is accessible. Turned out it isn't, but there's another one we can have."
She turned away, knowing he was going to follow her. And he did, trying something else. He had learned by now that Max wouldn't let any of his arguments count.
"You can't get out of the city anyway. Not without-" He was interrupted by Max, who had turned around and was showing him two cards.
"- Sector passes," he finished his sentence, trying to take them, but Max was faster.
"Class One, VIP, no-questions-asked sector passes. I had to hang upside-down outside the window for an hour to swipe these from police headquarters. I almost horked, I got so nauseous, and I hate horking. You're not bailing on me."
Logan knew he had lost and smiled, conceding defeat. "Who said anything about bailing?"
Max looked at him and at his smile. It wasn't genuine, but she knew she had won.
"So, go and get your stuff ready," she ordered, a grin on her face.
Logan grimaced and wheeled over to his bedroom, hearing Max's footsteps behind him. He pulled out a travel bag and threw it on his bed, then pulling clothes out of his closet. Max sat down on the bed beside him, watching.
"Don't forget to pack warm clothes," she warned him. "It will be cold in the mountains."
Logan sighed and held up a thick pullover. "This okay, Mom?" he asked. "I promise I'll wear my thick jacket every time I leave the house."
Max laughed and threw a pillow at him. "Don't call me 'Mom'," she reprimanded him.
"Don't behave as if you were," he answered, throwing back the pillow. "You could check the fridge. Might be good to take some stuff with us," Logan suggested, more to get rid of Max than to make sure they had enough food with them. He hadn't eaten much lately.
When she'd disappeared, he finished packing his clothes and went to the bathroom to put everything he'd need in his wash bag. After he'd packed his toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel and even a razor, he sighed and grabbed another bag from its place in the cabinet under the sink. It contained the catheterizing supplies he hadn't needed for the last two weeks.
Great. I could really do without that, he thought to himself.
Both bags in his lap, he returned to the bedroom, where he found Max, who was obviously checking his luggage.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "I packed my thick pullover, I promise."
"I'm not worried about your choice of clothes. Just wanted to make sure you didn't pack your laptop. This is supposed to be a vacation and no kind of electronic equipment is allowed," she told him.
"Oh, great," Logan sighed. "Back to the last century. Am I allowed to take my phone, if I promise not to use it for business calls? I don't like leaving the house without it, just in case..."
Max pretended to think about it for a second, then she nodded. "Okay, take your phone. Are you ready then?"
"Just my jacket and I'm done," he answered, putting his wash bags in the travel bag and pulling the zipper. He looked around in his bedroom, then took the bag and placed it on his lap. "You got everything from the kitchen you need?" he asked.
"Yep," she nodded and led him to the hallway, where she'd put a large cardboard box. "In there."
Logan smiled at the size of the box, but didn't comment. "We should load the car then," he told her, and wheeled towards the elevator.
Down in the basement carpark he opened the trunk of his car. Max put in the two travel bags and the box, while Logan transferred to the driver's seat.
He watched her pull out a map, while he started the engine and drove out of the garage.
"Where are we heading?" he asked.
"East," she told him. "Just drive, I'm gonna direct you."
Logan nodded, his eyes on the street, but his mind spinning in circles. The Cascades, he thought to himself. I must be crazy to go there with her. These are going to be the most humiliating days of my life. Wheelchairs and mountains don't go well with each other, and if you can't change the first, you should rather avoid the second. This is going to be so embarrassing. I'll probably roll backward down some cliff and kill myself in the process. Great. Would have been easier to just have finished the job last week.
Max stared out of the window, watching the dirty streets of Seattle pass by. Their sector passes were checked every once in a while, but they never had to stop for long. Soon the dirty streets disappeared and the landscape changed to open fields, the Cascades already showing on the horizon.
I wonder what he's thinking about, she asked herself. He hasn't spoken a word since we left. Maybe it was unfair to assume that we'd still go. Well, I didn't simply assume it, did I? I talked it over and over with OC. I think that even if he doesn't want to, he needs to get out of Seattle. Away from his work, away from his apartment. He's been so happy, the last weeks. I thought we'd come so far, but now, since I told him that Lydecker had killed Vertes, it's back to the beginning...Honestly, at first I was just happy that I had gotten there in time to save Jace. But on my way back to Logan I realized what the news meant for him. I never meant to put him through this. But I had never considered that he'd just end his life. Not Logan. But he'd almost done it. Thank God he didn't, but maybe I should think about what I say more carefully. Maybe he's thinking about that right now? Maybe it's the first time he's really thought about it. Or maybe I just freaked him out with my "Hiking in the Cascades". How stupid could I have been? I'll better keep my mouth shut.
"Take the next right," were Max's first spoken words since Seattle.
Logan nodded and turned the car from the highway to a smaller road that led up to the mountains. What they saw outside the car made Max smile and Logan shiver. Snow.
Neither of them had thought about the possibility that there could still be snow in the Cascades. Winter in Seattle was wet rather than white, so neither of them was used to seeing the landscape covered with a white blanket. Max's smile grew wider. Despite her bad experiences with snow during her childhood, she'd come to like it. In her mind they were already building snowmen and enjoying long walks in the winter-wonderland.
Logan, instead, was even more frustrated by the snow. He didn't show it, but it scared him. Mountains weren't good for wheelchairs, snow wasn't good for wheelchairs, but snowy mountains were more like Sodom and Gomorra than just 'not good'. Silently cursing Max for her idea he continued driving. This must be the end of the world we're going to, he thought. Maybe I'll be lucky and we'll just fall over the edge on the next corner.
When they finally came to stop, they had reached a small town. Logan parked the car where Max told him to and watched her jump out and walk into a building. A minute later she was back, waving the keys in her hand.
"Our cabin is further up the mountain. Right at the end of this street. Shouldn't be a problem to find it."
"What are all these people doing here, in a town as small as this?" Logan asked, irritated.
Max shrugged. "Holidays are over today. Most of them are tourists, leaving today. The agent told me that a lot of people come here to go skiing. His secretary, who handed me the keys, told me that they're expecting a really quiet week. Tonight this town will be deserted."
Logan nodded, glad to have at least the possibility of being alone. During the trip he'd finally gotten used to the idea of humiliating himself in front of Max's eyes, but more people? He drove back to the street, following it to the end, then turning right. The road that went up the mountain was narrow and he hoped that no car would come down right now. He was in luck and parked the car a few minutes later. The cabin seemed to be the last one belonging to the town. It stood there alone, no nextdoor neighbors, but everything was in good shape. The front porch at the front had a few stairs, but there was a wheelchair ramp on the left-hand side.
Max jumped out of the car and went inside, leaving the cabin door open for Logan to follow. The interior was incredibly romantic. She felt like she was in an old movie, pre-Pulse of course. The wooden cabin had only one floor, with a small kitchen, a huge living room with a fireplace, two bedrooms on the other side of the room and a big bathroom. She came back to the car, only giving a short smile to Logan who sat in the living room, checking everything out. A minute later she was back with all their luggage and put the cardboard box in the kitchen.
"Which bedroom do you want?" she asked.
Logan shrugged and wheeled towards the rooms. One was the master bedroom with a huge double bed in the middle of it; the other one was smaller, with just a single bed under the window.
"I don't care," he told Max. "They're both fine."
"Take the big bedroom then," she suggested. "It's got a separate door to the bathroom."
Logan nodded and stayed in the master bedroom. Max threw his bag on the bed and went to her room. She now thinks I can't even handle the way from the small bedroom to the bathroom. Great. He sighed and put his clothes in the cupboard, then went to the bathroom. When he came back, he found Max waiting for him in the living room.
"What do you want to do?" he asked her, sure that she actually wanted to do something, now they were here.
She shrugged. "I'd like to go outside. Enjoy the snow, you know?"
"Sure," Logan shrugged back. Might as well start the with the horror right away. "Let me just get my jacket."
Max nodded, went to her room and was back at the front door only seconds later. When Logan came back to her, she had to smile. He was wearing the heavy, dark blue jacket, she'd sometimes seen him in during the winter, and his hands were hidden in black leather gloves. On his head he wore a blue cap, the color a few shades brighter than that of his jacket. He'd have looked like a teenage schoolboy, ready to start the snow fight against the girls, if there hadn't been the always present and oh-so-sexy stubble on his cheeks. Only the look on his face made her stop smiling. Obviously he wasn't very thrilled by the idea of fun in the snow. Well, he wasn't thrilled by this whole trip, Max thought to herself and decided to ignore him. I'm gonna show him, how much fun we're gonna have. Let me just find something.
Max opened the door and went out, seemingly not caring if Logan was having problems with it. When she turned to face him, he was wheeling next to her.
"Isn't it wonderful?" she asked.
Logan raised an eyebrow, unsure what to answer. Wonderful? Wouldn't it be much more wonderful to be back in my penthouse in front of my computer? Yeah. It would.
"The sun, the snow, the mountains.." Max tried to explain.
He nodded, but stared to the ground, obviously not enjoying the view but struggling with the snow on the path they were traversing. Max watched him from the corner of her eye, trying to find out if he just had to push a little harder, or if he was really having a hard time. She decided on the first alternative and walked a little more slowly.
Neither of them spoke a word and Max wondered when they had last been this silent. She could understand that there were still things on his mind he didn't wanna talk about, but she couldn't understand why he was still so depressed. Yeah, of course she couldn't understand what it meant to be back in a wheelchair, but was life so bad? She enjoyed being here with him, enjoyed the landscape and the fact that they were going to have dinner together, that she would sleep only a room away from him. In her eyes, Logan had had an easy life. She'd swap their childhoods without thinking a second about it. But maybe this was payback? That now he had to pay for his easy former life? Damn Logan, why can't you just be the nice uncomplicated guy next door? She smiled, knowing the answer herself. 'Cause then you wouldn't be my friend and I couldn't be yours. That simple.
She saw that his face war red, not only from the cold but also from exertion. Looking back she realized that the path had gotten steeper and that it wasn't the easy walk for him that it was for her. Only a few yards in front of them she saw a bench where she sat down wordlessly, giving them time to relax.
Logan stopped next to her and for the first time since they'd left the cabin, he was truly able to see what Max had been enjoying. The landscape was wonderful. He could see the Cascades, still covered with snow, he could see the trees, their branches full of the white powder, and he could see a few slopes, with a couple of skiers going downhill.
He took off his cap and tousled his hair, allowing the cold winter air to cool his head. Max was still quiet, only a small smile on her face showed that she was content with herself and the world around her. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold and there was this special glow in her eyes that made him smile. She was wearing all black, as usual. How beautiful she is, he thought with wonder. I wonder what she's doing here with me. She seems really happy, not something she seems to be very often. But it's definitely not me who's making her happy. I'm no good company. Maybe I should change that? I could at least try.
"I used to go downhill skiing," he said, trying to smile at her.
Surprised, not only about the news, but also about the fact, that he'd actually said something, she looked at him. "Really?"
"Yeah. My parents always took me skiing in the winter," he told her. "It was always a lot of fun. I continued when I was living with Jonas and Margo. It wasn't the same, but it was fun. I remember how my Dad taught me to ski. After two days he had a hard time following me, I wasn't scared of anything and just went down every hill. It's a wonderful feeling."
"I believe that," Max nodded. "And it looks as if it was a lot of fun."
"You should try it," Logan suggested. "You could rent a pair of skis tomorrow."
Max looked at him, trying to figure out if he was just trying to get rid of her. "Maybe I will."
She checked her watch. "I hate to spoil the mood, but it's already getting dark. We should hurry back."
Logan nodded and put his cap back on his head. His arms hurt and his hands were burning, but he wouldn't tell her. No way. He was going to wheel back to the cabin if it was the last thing he did. No giving up. Not with this beautiful woman walking next to him.
The way back was easier, 'cause they'd finally broken the silence. He was still fighting with the chair on the snowy path, but listening to Max's stories and adding an anecdote of his winter holidays made him feel better. Nonetheless, he was exhausted when they reached the cabin.
"You wanna take a shower?" Max asked. "I could light the fire before I take one myself. It's cold in here."
"Sure. There was wood outside, on the right side of the cabin, I think."
"I'm gonna get some," she nodded, walking back outside.
Logan wheeled to the bedroom and grabbed a pair of boxers and a T-shirt before he went to the bathroom. After a shower he put on the boxer-shorts and T-shirt, before he went back to his room to finish dressing. Wearing a pair of sweatpants and a thick white pullover, he returned to the living room, where Max was putting wood in the fireplace and lighting it with practiced ease.
"Before the Pulse, people hardly knew how to make a fire without special lighters," Logan commented.
"Yeah, thanks to the Pulse we all know how to make fire. Welcome to my cave," she grinned, her eyes resting for a moment on his muscular chest that showed through the pullover.
"The bathroom is free, if you still want your shower," he said.
"Oh, yeah, great. Could you make sure the fire's burning?" Max asked him, her eyes meeting his again. "The wood is a little wet."
"No problem. If you can stand to wait for dinner a little longer."
"I think I can manage," she laughed and headed for the bathroom.
A little time later Logan saw her leaving the bathroom only wearing a towel. Her hair was still wet and she was leaving damp footprints on the hardwood floor. Logan stared at her, sure that he'd never seen anyone more beautiful. Max blushed when she realized that she was being watched, and fled to her room.
A minute later she was back by the fireside, now wearing sweatpants and a pullover, both black.
"So are you gonna feed me?" Max asked, smiling a winning smile. "You're my meal ticket after all."
Her meal ticket? Yeah, right. That's all I'll ever be for her. And maybe that's why she brought you here. To have someone cook for her. Logan released the brakes. "Sure. What else am I here for?" he said coldly.
Max grimaced, but didn't say anything. She only watched him wheel away. You gotta hate men, she thought. What was that for? Does he really not know why I'm here with him? Or was he just trying to be funny? I'll never understand them. Especially not Logan.
She stayed in the living room a little longer, then stood up to go and help Logan in the kitchen.