This story is my response to a challenge made by Anna on Dark Angel Archives. The challege itself isn't addressed much in this chapter but will be in the ones to come.

Challenge #9
Submitted By: Anna

Challenge:
Someone decides they can get rich kidnapping and exporting poor or homeless
women and children from the US. Think of a modern slavery ring or of kids shipped
off to be adopted in richer countries. Does Max see one of her friends kidnapped or a
child taken? Does she stop the entire operation or only get it moved from Seattle?
Does she let herself get taken?

Disclamers-I don't own Max or Logan and owe the people who do my undying gratitude for giving me worthy daydream material.

Author's Note: Now I'll just bet that you thought that I wasn't ever gonna finish this? Right? Well it's not done yet but it's still alive and kicking. Not graphic on violence or sex, a few four letter words but nothing worse than the series. Doesn't contain any big spoilers I don't think, although the plots sorta similar to Out. But I started writing first so...I'm not gonna disclaim it. Now without further ado.

Stronger Together Than We Are Apart

Chapter 2

by

Teris Xenite

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When Bling came in the next morning he didn't find Logan asleep at his computer the way he normally did. Could it be that he's finally listening to what I've been saying about taking better care of himself? He walked very quietly into Logan's bedroom and smiled when he saw the two nestled in each others arms. So that's it, about damn time too. Sometime in the night Max had shifted so that her head was pillowed on Logan's chest and her arms were wrapped around his waist. His chin rested lightly atop of her head and as he held her close to him he was smiling in his sleep.

Now this is interesting. Should I wake him now and save him the embarrassment of realizing I've been here for a few hours when he wakes up or let him sleep in. He took another look at the sleeping couple and chuckled to himself. Nope morning will come soon enough for those two, and besides if I wake them up now Max is gonna kick my ass. Just then Logan started to stir, he looked down at his sleeping angel, rubbed his eyes, reached over to the night stand for his glasses, put them on, looked down at her again, and finally cautiously smiled. "Wow, it wasn't a dream. How cool is that?" He looked over at his clock and grimaced. "10:30, but that means that Bling is…"

"Right over here lover boy." The man smiled as Logan's face turned an embarrassed shade of maroon. "Relax Logan, you're both legal adults. I for one think that it's a good thing. After all you can't save the whole world by yourself, you've been needing something in your life my friend and I think that you've just found it."

Logan squirmed at the knowing look Bling gave him. The slight movement roused Max from her peaceful slumber. "Mhhh my pillow's moving. This is not a good way to start the day." She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked at Logan. "Hi." Seeing the flustered, slightly embarrassed look she asked. "Logan what's a matter? Is something wrong?" She followed his gaze to where Bling stood. "Hi Bling, Logan's kinda busy being my pillow at the moment, he'll be out in a little while ok."

Bling smiled and nodded and then laughed at the shock that registered on Logan's face as she nestled her head back onto his chest and muttered. "I'll help you with your therapy later. Sleep now." Her breathing soon evened into peaceful rhythms signaling that she was once again in dreamland.

He looked at Bling in helpless appeal but he just raised his hands and backed away. "Nope Logan my man the queen has spoken. See you in a few hours." Logan looked down at the sleeping woman in his arms. It was rare that she ever slept this soundly so he hated to disturb her, plus the worry and emotional toll of last night was more than he'd realized so he yawned and lay his head back down to sleep.

A few hours later he woke again and Max was still sound asleep, so deeply so in fact that even when he slid from beneath her she barely stirred. He rolled himself into the shower and proceeded with his morning routine, then went to the kitchen to enlist Bling's help in bringing Max breakfast in bed. They were just finishing up when they heard moaning coming from the other room. The moaning grew louder and sound climaxed with a piercing scream.

Logan rushed in to see Max trapped in the throes of a vicious nightmare. He went to her side and tried to wake her, and when simple statements like "Max wake up" didn't work he crawled in beside her and pulled her into his lap. He smoothed his hand over her hair and holding her close mummered nonsense words of comfort. Almost as soon as he touched her the trashing and moans ceased and slowly she woke.

She looked at him with sleep darken frightened eyes. "Logan?? Thank God," She pulled him tight against her and cried in relief. "I had the most terrible dream, Lydecker had you. I thought I lost you." She trembled against him and he tightened his arms around her holding her close enough that she could hear the steady rhythm of his heartbeat.

"Suh, baby it's all right, I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." He placed soft kisses in her hair and wiped away her tears with a gentle hand. "It was just a dream baby. I promise I'm not going anywhere it's all right." Max relaxed into his embrace for once allowing her self to believe another's promises and to hope for a better tomorrow.

She nestled closer to him drawing comfort in his gentle affection and his quiet strength. After a time she'd absorbed enough reassurance from him to recharge herself and she pulled away from him. "As much as I wish we could do this all day we've got dirt bags to bust remember?" Logan's questioning gaze warmed her down to her very soul, it let her know that while he wanted to bust the dirt bags he didn't want to leave her feeling uncomfortable or insecure.

"Relax, I'm okay." He shot her a look that said there was no way that he was believing that she went from being terrified to perfectly fine with in a few short minutes. He nodded though, understanding that he couldn't slay all her demons in one night. He knew that she wasn't ready to talk though her fears yet but resolved to sit down with her for a heart to heart as soon as all this was over.

"We aren't done with this yet, but if you want to talk about it later we will. Since you're going to be the one doing the ass kicking how would you like to go about it? Do you want to get them all together or go after them individually?"

Max breathed a sigh of relief thankful that he wasn't going to make her confront her feelings just yet. She took a moment to look at this amazing man, hers she realized after she processed all the events of the last twenty-four hours. He was looking over some printouts, attempting no doubt to give her the chance to recompose herself after her earlier display. She walked over to him and touched his shoulder to draw his gaze to hers. "Thanks."

"For what?" He asked, genuinely puzzled.

"Well lets see…saving me from the bad guys, loving me, not pushing me."

He pulled her to him gently and planted soft kisses in her hair. "Forever and always, Max." The stayed in their embrace for what could have been a moment or a life time, silently taking in the feelings of safety, joy, reassurance, and love that flowed between them. Finally he kissed her gently, tightened his arms around her momentarily, and then reluctantly pulled away. "As much as I hate to let you go, you really need to eat something to help make sure all of those damned drugs are out of your system."

The thought that Max had been at the mercy of those animals made Logan both sick with fear, and hot with rage. True she hadn't been hurt this time, but she could have been. He was glad that she couldn't remember what gone on, but he still paled when he thought of how close he'd come to losing her. He'd been lucky, he'd been able to arrange a private 'auction'. The only people who'd had access to Max were the people who'd originally brought her in and the ones that transported her from her cell to the room he found her in. Even that small number was still far too many for his tastes.

Max saw Logan stiffen, and noted the grim set of his jaw after he fell silent. His hands shook, and his face was the picture of rage and bloodlust. She knew that neither of these emotions were directed at her, but as she thought about what he had said she realized that they could very well be on her behalf. "Logan?" She reached up and touched his cheek gently, smiling slightly as his scuff tickled her fingers. "Logan? What's wrong?"

Logan was pulled out of his thoughts by her gentle touch, and her voice incited a softening of his features. "Sorry, what was the question?" He took her hand in his and placed a soft kiss on her knuckles, needing the reassuring contact of his skin on hers. Her eyes were so beautiful, their gaze so filled with love and concern that it almost moved him to tears.

"Where were you Logan? From the look on your face it wasn't somewhere good? What's wrong?" She stroked the back of his hand comfortingly, hoping that he would tell her what was on his mind. She hated that look she'd just seen, and wanted to make it so that it would never have cause to grace his face again. "Tell me, please?"

It was the please and the pleading look in her eyes as she said it that did him in. He should have known that he would never be able to keep secrets from this woman. "I was just thinking about what I wanted to do to the bastards that grabbed you." He pulled her close and rest his chin on the top of her head. "I could have lost you Max. I could have lost you and that terrifies me."

"Logan, it's alright. I'm fine, back where I belong safe and sound."

"This time…but what about next time Max? I don't think I could deal with losing you." He pulled her close again and buried his face in her hair. "Scratch that, I know I couldn't deal with losing you…" He paused a moment as if struggling with something internally then said, "You're going to go after these guys whether I help you or not, because they made it personal right?" She nodded. "Alright…but after this, no more Eyes Only missions, no more cat burglaries. It's just too dangerous."

"Careful Logan, you're sounding too much like Zack for my liking."

"I mean it Max…I'll find someone else to do the sneaking around for Eyes Only, and if you need anything I'll help you get it."

"Making me a kept woman and completely ignoring my protests and decisions now are we?"

"That's not what I meant."

"Well it's sure as hell what it sounded like!"

Logan looked at her and found her ready to do battle. Her eyes were wild, her breathing fast, her movements sharp and abrupt. All of this lent her a primal air, that he found both arousing and upsetting. He extended his hands to her in a gesture of peace. "I'm sorry…I just want to keep you safe." He rolled up to her, thankful that she didn't back away, and circled her waist with his arms, placing a kiss on her stomach, and resting his forehead gently against her.

No more words were spoken, but she ran her fingers over his hair. The silent communication continued and the messages of 'I love you, I'm sorry' and 'I love you too I forgive you' were expressed and heard loud and clear. The remained that way happily until Bling became disturbed at the silence and came into the room with one hand over his eyes and the other extend in front of him as if to say, don't kill me I was just worried if I'm interrupting I'll leave. "Everything ok in here?"

"Everything's fine Bling." Logan said without bothering to move. He was too comfortable and too happy to move. Not to mention really enjoying the way Max was touching him. Max has feline DNA, I wonder if she'll purr if I do this to her?

Finally Max took pity on Bling who was then trying to back out of the room without moving his hand from his eyes. "Bling…It's ok. You can open your eyes, we're decent." Bling slowly moved his hand and squinted to make sure it was safe before opening his eyes all the way.

Logan looked up at her words and almost laughed at the comical expression on Bling's face. "What's wrong Bling?"

"Logan, don't take this the wrong way. You're pretty fly for a white guy, but that don't mean I'm jonsin to see ya naked ok?"

"Gottcha."

The moment was broken, and Logan looked up at her and smiled silently promising to continue their cuddle session later. I really wanna see if I can make Max purr, but now I have to save the weak and helpless. Right…Come on Logan…you can do it. "As much as I hate to say it: we still need to get you fed, and figure out what we're gonna do with the bad guys. Can we do this some more later?"

"No, I'm gonna become a nun and renounce all earthly pleasures. Hell yeah we're gonna do this more later." Logan smiled even with the gentle thump on the head she gave him with her last comment. The look of abject terror on his face when she'd said she was going to become a nun was hilarious.

"Well in that case, lets kick some ass!"

"Mighty excited about this aren't ya?"

"Well yeah, the sooner we're done with the bad guys the sooner we can celebrate." The rakish smile reminded her of the man she'd met the first time. Slightly arrogant, wicked sense of humor, great smile. You know I think my life just got a whole lot more interesting.

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