By Rach L.

Rate: PG
Category: M/L. A vignette.
Spoilers: Up to Blah, Blah, Woof, Woof.
Summary: 'Twas two nights before Christmas...
Disclaimer: Not mine. I don't gain anything from writing this except feedback (which I love, I admit. *g*). The lyrics used here are from Loreena McKennitt's "Full Circle".

Warning--here's something a little different again, but this time without a theme or head-splitting metaphors. A pure pointless fluff. ;)

Dedication: Sandra, my saving grace, for her wonderfully heart-wrenching story "Appropriate" and for her complaints over my writing frenzy period. And Vigil, for her broken heart over "the Ice Palace". ;)

Stars were falling deep in the darkness
as prayers rose softly, petals at dawn,
And as I listened, your voice seemed so clear
so calmly you were calling your god...

"Do you believe in the Spirit of Christmas?"

Okay, let me think. There has to be a reason I came to Logan's today, even though I was perfectly aware he was gonna babble about crap like 'the Spirit of Christmas'. There has to be a *very* good reason why I'm sitting here listening to this.

He watches me from behind his very fine antique dinner table, well decorated with candles and the usual works. With a small--and yet another antique--fork, he plays around his share of strawberry cheesecake, his everyday run-of-the-mill culinary miracle at its best, and pretends as if he's not waiting for my answer.

And just a second ago, I was digging in the same cheesecake with an eager appetite until his yet another question stopped me dead.

Yeah, free food. The reason I'm here. Almost forgot.

"Let see, the Spirit of Christmas..." I pretend to give it some thought since he's feeding me. Almost everything is forgivable when his food is present. "Well, if ever I find the three ghosts hanging out in my room on Christmas Eve, I'll report."

He opens his mouth as if to give me an elaborate reply with the all too often used 'that wasn't what I meant' statement, but he soon closes it with an 'ah' look. Good, he's learning fast.

And we're back to eating in silence. Hopefully for more than one minute this time.

Christmas. The day after tomorrow. Big freakin' deal.

I think humans invent the most interesting ways to waste their time. I mean, even after the Pulse and all the poverty that's going on, everyone's so damn excited about this holiday-- it's driving me nuts. I just had three separate conversations with Kendra to uninvite me from this supposedly big party her on-and-off boyfriend is having. Original Cindy finally scored with what's-her-name, and although I'm very happy for her, I refuse to be the third wheel in the group. And even Jam Pony is going to have a party, but with Normal's sense of 'fun', I'd have more fun sinking into the sewers for the night.

So no plan. My tradition is to spend Christmas alone, to see how pathetic and miserable life can get. Why not?

"What are you doing this Christmas?" Exactly 20 seconds of tormenting his poor cake later, Logan asks again.

I try not to clinch my teeth, for the sake of my unfinished cheesecake and the chocolate fudge that I know he's hiding in the freezer to surprise me later. Before I even think about it, a word rolls out from the tip of my tongue, "Work."

Oh, did I just lie? Oops.

Guess I really don't want to admit to him about my traditions. He probably has a list of things to do. Maybe visiting people on the streets or something, playing Santa. Knowing Logan, it's highly plausible. And I'm not really planning to join him as his field officer or as one of the elves.

A *bad* image of me in a green elf costume pops up in my mind. Yikes.

"Work," he looks at me as if I've grown a third eye, "You work on Christmas?"

"There're deliveries to be done even on Christmas." I shrug.

"Well," he puts down the fork, "Even so, it's Christmas! We're supposed to celebrate the day the Son of God was born."

He's in a good mood today. Gee, this's gonna be fun. Not. "You're asking me, a genetically enhanced human being, to actually believe in mumbo-jumbo like that?"

That was supposed to shut him up, but now he has a look of intrigue on his face. Great. "You don't believe in God?"

He just has this incredible ability to irritate me with his seemingly innocent questions and statements, like "When's your birthday?" or, "He cares about you a lot. And I don't mean like a brother," or, "Do you believe in *freaking* God?"

Of course not. What's the definition of God, anyway? If I'm to believe that God is someone who made you, then my personal anti-Christ would have too much power, and I'll drop dead from the roof of Logan's very high penthouse before I start believing in *Lydecker*.

But I know Logan's asking something more profound--as usual--and for some reason, I always answer him one way or the other. "Oh, I do believe in God. I talk to him--her, whatever--on a daily basis, didn't you know? I yell at him a few times, and he yells back by kicking my butt with more troubles. Think we have a very respectable relationship."

He instantly closes his mouth again. That should really shut him up for a while. Now, back to my cheesecake...

"Well, then how did the Manticore folks spend Christmas?"

...he *just* doesn't give up, does he?

I'm fairly certain that he knows any Manticore related questions bring out flinches from me, but I think he's doing it so I can 'get over' those darkly-dark memories. Thank Freud for psychoanalysis.

"The first time I saw the bad imitation of the supposedly fat-guy in a ridiculous red suit with a mountain belly and little annoying green fellas, I was thirteen, and I almost attacked him out of pure fright, believing this guy had to be one of the mutilation works by Lydecker. Does that answer your question?"

His head quietly drops and he again starts to torture his cake. "...Yes."

Was I a little too strong? ...For cryin' out loud, I almost feel sorry for him now. I know he's asking all these because he genuinely wants to know more about me. Since he knows painfully well just how cooperative I am with revealing personal information, if he really wanted to know more about Manticore, he could've worked his miracle over the keyboard and get the info rather than going through me. Actually, I bet he knows more about the details of the Manticore Project more than I do by now.

But he has a thing about having a decent conversation with me. Which is, when I think about it, kinda nice; to my best recollection, there hasn't been a single man who wanted to have an actual *conversation* with me. But then again, Logan isn't just any man. And with him, chatting about 'what's for dinner' right away becomes a complicated issue equivalent of the food shortage crisis. Today's topic is Christmas, no less, and it's already showing a tendency to become a philosophical discussion about the existence of God.

I sigh.

Putting down the fork, I ask, "Okay, what's with these twenty questions? Wanna know what I think of Christmas? Honestly? What's the big deal? Do we really need another false hope that some savior's gonna appear and salvage us from damnation? I think personally you're more close to being a savior than a little baby born 2020 years ago."

He looks up, apparently glad that I started to talk, but as soon as the word 'savior' comes out from my mouth, he's suddenly uncomfortable.

Geez, modesty. Sometimes I wish he wasn't so saint-ish all the time. He doesn't think he's doing lots of people great favors by risking his neck with his Eyes Only thing. He doesn't even *think* he's really insanely brave to do the work he's doing. And it's not even false modesty. Such a Mr. Do-Right. Unlike his first impression of the manipulative rich boy with nothing to do, he *is* really into this whole saving thing. He cares, too.

God, he's the embodiment of everything I'm annoyed by.

"Christmas doesn't necessarily have to be about Christ," he says, leaning on the table, "It could be--"

"--about 'in this short brutal life, you have to seize any opportunity you can to celebrate'-- yadda, yadda, yadda. Got it, Logan."

He grins. But the look on his face tips me off that there's something on his mind, and a battle's going on inside him whether to tell me.

"What?" I ask. For some reason, I think he's gonna say something I don't wanna hear.

He looks up, decided. "You can always spend it with me."


'Kay, so I'm dense. Should've known that was coming. Actually, I knew the whole Christmas related question bombardment had something to do with 'what's your schedule for Christmas', but...

I just wanted to avoid dealing with it.

He's smiling the smile that always makes me want to give in to his requests. And there's that little glint in his eyes that makes me realize he's incredibly insecure. I'm always amazed whenever I'm able to refuse his offer when he's looking at me with the combination of the two.

"Busy." I managed to surprise myself by sounding sincere. "Sorry, work to do."

For a second, a look of disappointment passes through his face, but with a slight 'knew you'd say that' grin, he tries again. "Well, it's the magical time of the year. Any chance you'll change your mind later?"

The neediness of his eyes... An unreasonable anger bubbles inside me. "Do I look like I'm selling matches here? Light a match, then comes a family having a wonderful meal, the second one, then comes a beautiful Christmas tree with cute little ornaments and *gifts*? Sorry, Logan. I don't do tragedies."

And any person in their right mind knows that this's gonna end up either like a Shakespearean play--where everyone ends up totally dead--or non-Disney-ized fairy tales.

I don't do tragedies, really.

I stand up, flinging the napkin on the table.

"Max?" He looks up, thoroughly confused and startled by my decidedly abrupt behavior. "What's wrong?"

"Gotta go," I say, walking--more like running--out from the dinner room.

I need to get out. I can't do this. Can't stay in the same room with him.

I can't meet his expectant glances anymore.

"Wait," his soft voice calls out from behind me, and my hand that's been reaching to grab the doorknob stops in the midair. How did he get here so quick? Got a new wheelchair with a jet-thruster or something? He never lets his crippledness stop him from doing anything.

At least not from trying to save me.

"I'm sorry," he says softly, almost inaudible.

That almost breaks my heart. I have to grab the doorknob so damn tightly just to stop myself from turning to him.

It's not you, Logan. It's always me.

I can't tell him.

As I open the door and walk out, I don't look back.

Elsewhere a snowfall, the first in the winter
covered the ground as the bells filled the air
You in your robes sang, calling, calling, calling him
in your heart, in your soul, did you find peace there?

A simple walk on the streets isn't like what it used to be anymore.

Granted, it's close to Christmas, and with the prospect of a "White Christmas" hinted from the snow that's been crazily falling for days now, even the poorest sector of the city seems to be decorated with bunches of lagged green and red stuffs. Some gold, if people got enough time to scavenge for holiday-ish materials. So the street gives vibes that are a bit different from the usual depressing ones, but depressing is depressing and people are just the same as before.

They pass by, going about their own businesses, not minding the crap that's going on in this world, not even thinking twice about how incredibly absurd things are in this country. Powerful bastards get more powerful, the meek and weak ones get even more pathetic. But still, people are still blissfully unaware of the things that're happening. Actually, wait, maybe it's the purposeful and voluntary amnesia that they suffer from. Denial also works wonders, because they see nothing and hear nothing, fighting never an option to them, because, well, that'd be pretty dumb of you to try to fight the world.

Those people never bothered me before, because I was one of them.

They do now.

He's awakened me from the idyllic sleep called ignorance.

Not that I didn't *know* how crappy things were, but to actually *see* and be able to do something about it now is a strange excitement and joy which I really, really don't like. I gotta curse him for waking me up, since all I want is to go back to the damn sleep so badly. To be unaware again, to not give a damn about anything but the search for my siblings....

But I know. He couldn't have 'awakened' me if I didn't have that soft spot to actually care in me.

If it weren't for him, though, I'd have lived my merry life, going about my business, not minding anything else. I sorely blame the change of my mind on Logan.

And once awakened, I can't go back to being one of the zombies, walking and moving, but never really *knowing* the truth.

He...saved me.

Damn him for that.

The heavy snow slowly becomes light flurries now, but the snow's still inches thick on the ground. I like smashing snow. All so fluffy, and all so...white. Gives me this tremendous sense of self-satisfaction just like throwing punches does, but there's no punching bag, so this gotta do.

The word 'coward' comes circling back to my head, so I flatten the snow a bit more. Bouncing up and down to flatten the snow becomes smashing, and smashing becomes kicking.

Damn him.

He *saved* me.

Not that I have problems with that. He's up for saving *everybody*, and I'm just a dot in the huge picture.

But here's the thing; he wants me to be something more.

Logan. He trusts me with his life. If it's his life that needs saving, all right, I'll gladly do it. I confess that much. I'm so far gone now that I won't even blink to jump into trouble if it could help Logan. Don't know just how it happened and don't as hell expect myself to understand it. It just happened and I gave up fighting after it's become glaringly obvious when his back landed him in the hospital. I had to come back like a boomerang. Think I'm conditioned to him like that Pavlov's dog. Hear a bell and the dog salivates. In my case, an image of Logan, then boom, gotta be at his side. It's done. I'm totally done for.

There once were the good days with no attachments, no regrets, no worries, no responsibilities, no anything. Now they're stuck on me like sticky rice.

...Never come up with food metaphors because--the chocolate fudge. Damn. Completely forgot about that one.

He...he's like that. The chocolate fudge. Once taste its bittersweet flavor, then you're addicted for lifetime. The trust, the neediness, all those emotions showing through his eyes are incredibly addictive. As much as I'm treacherously glad for his needs of me, I'm all too aware of the truth that cuts me like a knife.

He wants me to be the savior of mankind, his angel, his saving grace.

I can't save anyone when I can't even save myself.

...Okay, I'm officially pathetic. What am I doing? I'm brooding, which ticks off the warning mark on my little notebook. Guess I need my session again, a snowy day on top of Space Needle. It's a beautiful place to be. Alone, lonely, solitary. I used to go there to watch if my bros and sis were there somewhere in between the cobwebs of the lights, searching for me as I am for them. Nowadays, though, the only thing I feel is that I'm just a blob on a canvas, so little, so powerless to protect...


I can't save him when I'm this scared.

Even knowing all that, I still want to be with him.

And that scares me even more.

...All right. *Definitely* in need of the session now. Can't take this emotional crap a sec longer.

I stop making a fit out of the ground with all the smashing and kicking, and begin to make a step forward to the 'Needle.

"Hey, you," someone calls out from behind me.

I know that voice, don't I?


Oh, crap.

I have to close my eyes briefly. What the *hell* is he doing here? Why is he here on the streets after the curfew?

Of course; he followed me.

Yeah, forgot again. He just doesn't give up.

I'm not ready to turn to him just yet. I can imagine him at the end of the street, standing, uh, no, sitting on the wheelchair beside the streetlight, the snowflakes slowly falling on his brown coat and on his dark blond hair. He'd be staring at me with his always serious blue eyes, unsure how I'd react. If just imagining him leaves me out of breath, then what would actually *seeing* him do to me?

Only after I muster up the courage to face him, I turn around.

...only to be greeted with a ball of snow squarely on my face.

"Oops." He's exactly how I imagined him to be a few seconds second ago, except the smirk on his face. "Sorry."

Sooooorrrrrrrrry? Did he just say SOOOOORRRRRRRY?

"You know." I tilt my head, and try to wipe the half-melted snow away with some grace, which, in this situation, I have less than what Sketchy usually has. "This just means war."

He shrugs with a grin, his gloved hands holding two apple-sized snowballs. He's a fine picture of causality.

...Which is enough to make me lunge forward to gather as much snow as I can, and start to discharge the hurriedly produced snowballs.

"Hey, no use of superpowers against the wee little mortals, remember?" he complains, at the same time maneuvering through the thick blanket of snow with his specially equipped wheelchair and hiding behind the pole rapidly. What did do? Chained the wheels or something?

"Newsflash. Life ain't fair."

There's no answer. Suddenly everything seems so quiet without any movement behind the streetlight pole. I see the edge of his wheelchair, and his immobile legs, but nothing more.

I panic, the image of Logan in the hospital suddenly popping up in my mind. "Log--"

...and a few more snowballs meet their unfortunate end on my jacket, on my new pants, and on my face again.

Now, seriously, this means war.

I can hear his low pleasant chuckle, and I can also very well imagine his eyes glittering with amusement, with his lips curled at the corners. And as much as I'm mad and incredulous at him, I'm also relieved, and his soft laughter sounds like angel's singing to my ears.

"That's real mature, Logan. Real mature." Sarcasm and irritation drip from my voice.

He quips, "Who says anything about being mature?"

And there come a few more large snowballs my way.

This time, I quickly hide behind a scanty tree beside me. Not much of a cover, but something's better than nothin'. Gotta admit, he has a good aim, able to throw the 'balls at me from the awkward hiding position with alarming precision. All those muscle trainings are for some use, I see.

And... I *cannot* believe this. I can jump from the top of the building without a blink and disable about ten men in a second, but hitting Logan in the wheelchair with a snowball is suddenly the hardest task I've ever encountered. I think Lydecker would be seriously pissed if he found out. Not that I care, but for a second, I can picture myself telling him, "Think your genetically enhanced killing machine's totally malfunctioning, Don. Its heart grew ten times its size like that Grinch dude."

No kidding.

After a few exchanges of all missed snow cannons, Logan shouts, "You know, this could go on forever."

Ah-ha. Negotiation and relaxation tactic. I think he's forgetting he's dealing with a military mastermind here. "Whatcha suggesting?"

"Don't know. A truce, maybe?"

Like I'm gonna believe *that*. "Sounds good to me."

After a short pause his husky voice yells out, "How about I count to three, and we both come out, hands up?"

I'm sure this is the most idiotic thing I've ever done (C'mon, a truce for snow fighting?), but it's still oddly exciting, and my heart beats faster than it has in any crunch situations. "Sure."


Get ready. Since he'd have one or two tricks up his sleeve, I better take the initiative. Attack first without letting down my defense.


As soon as I rush out from my hiding place, I slide toward him with an enormous snowball I managed to sculpt, and throw it like it's a smoke bomb we used to use in training.

It flies straight into his face, steady and fast, and it's definitely unavoidable.

And scores, of course. Ha, ha, ha.

The wheelchair that's been moving toward me stops dead in its track. Logan shakes his head wildly, and the snow tumbles from his face. And the expression on his face is beyond comical.

I feel ridiculously happy, a definitely rare emotion in this town.

He takes off his glasses and wipes them with his sleeve. "Well, that's a very interesting version of 'truce'."

"Come on, Logan. There're no rules in a snow fight! Only the winner makes the rules!" I walk to him and tease him in a childlike frivolity, my hands on the wheelchair's handles and leaning dangerously close to him. I'm so proud of myself at this point, I don't care how silly this whole thing is.

"Oh, is that so?" he questions solemnly, looking at me with a grave look. Then suddenly, a snowball appears from nowhere--actually, from behind his wheelchair, damn--and smashes against my face.


I've had enough.

So I do what any self-respecting girl would do. I proceed to tackle him to the ground.

And a second later, he's under me, blinking behind his glasses clouded with white fog and breathing heavily.

Under me. My annoying brain notices--under me.


"Surrender?" I ask breathlessly. It's good to know even when I'm at this close proximity with him, I'm still in control of my voice. Certainly the other parts of me are spinning out of control, too aware of his body that's beneath mine.

"Guess I should," he says, his voice shaky and face red from the cold.

"Good." I should move, but not a single function of my body is listening to me at this moment. Just like the last time we ended up in this position.

I can smell him. A faint scent of musk, soft and subtle, and even through the cold air we're breathing, it lingers in my mind, spreading like a drop of perfume in the bathtub until all I breathe is him.

Oh, get a grip, Max.

He looks up, half hesitantly meeting up my gaze. The playfulness in his eyes is gone now as he asks softly, "You okay?"

And that breaks the spell.

"Yeah." The sudden rush I felt from the snow fight disappears as quickly as it appeared, and my body calms down immediately. "Couldn't be better."

I try to straighten up, remembering the reason I was wandering around the street on a very cold snowy day--to avoid situations precisely like this one.

He doesn't move. He only watches me. "You're still angry," he says in his matter-of-fact tone that I hate.

"Don't be ridiculous," I snap. My face becomes rigid, and I can even feel my jaw clenching. "Better get you back to the 'chair before you get frostbite."

"If you don't explain it to me, I won't be able to fix it."

I sit up, refusing to meet his gaze. "Fix what?"

His voice is calm, almost serene. "Whatever it is that made you angry."

God. I suddenly remember asking him once if he always comes on strong with expensive gifts, surprise late-night visits, over-the-top flatteries....but really, those things I can handle. It's his eyes that I can't. His so damn hopeful eyes that need me too much.

"What do you expect of me?" I'm just too damn wary to be careful with words anymore. "I don't do emotional comfort stuff. That's not me. It's like when Lydecker made us, he turned on the switch for a gene called Emotional Unavailability or something. So I can't."

If I could, I'd've comforted Zack when I read that particularly unwelcome emotion in his eyes, the way he touched my hair, and the way he caressed it. If I was good with the emotional saving thing, I'd've said something to make him feel better.

But I just...flinched.

Even with the sacrifice he made for me, that's all Zack's getting from me. A flinch. I'm sorry, but that's all I can give. Damn him for asking for more.

Damn Logan for asking for more.

And it doesn't matter that this time, I *want* to give more to him. Because, I can't.

His eyes are confused, and lost. "Can't what?"

"--I can't, alright?! I can't be all the things you want me to be. I'm not an angel. Not like you." I look away. "I'm no one's savior."


The truth is, I'm afraid.

The last time in the hospital, it was so close--I almost lost him. Things never scared me when I had nothing to lose, and therefore nothing to be afraid of. Now I have something to lose, and that scares the hell out of me.

I'm afraid I can't protect him, and be all the things he wants me to be.

All I can hear is his soft breath. There's an inscrutable expression on his face. A rare one, because by now I know almost always what he's thinking.

Okkkay. This is turning out to be just about the worst night yet. Think 'Gotta blaze' is in order. I try to stand up, unable to bear his gaze upon my face.

But then, his hand abruptly reaches out to grab my arm, and I lose my momentum, the vain attempt to stand up only making me lose my footing in the snow.

Therefore, according to the laws of gravity, I fall flat on my face, ending up on his chest.

...This just *had* to end up like this, didn't it? *Seriously* resembling the past 'Logan is under me' episode here.

Suddenly I realize I'm feeling his chin tucked under my hair, that he's inhaling my scent over and over, just like I am his. I can feel his breaths blowing softly on my ear, both a tickle and a caress. He wraps his arms around me then, tightly embracing me just as hard just as softly.

And I'm totally paralyzed.

"But Max," he whispers, "you already saved me. You already did."


And there's something hot welling up in my eyes.

"I'm just..." Nothing more comes out from my mouth except my ragged breath.

Scared, I want to say. I'm so scared out of my wits that I might lose him somehow. If I just...stop caring, maybe, if my heart stops beating, then maybe, maybe this will stop.

Tried, but didn't work. Came back like a boomerang, remember?

"Me too," he answers, somehow reading my mind. His voice's rattled from cold, his body dangerously trembling. But in his voice, there's the truth. "But that won't stop me from trying."

Logan, my saving grace. And my powerful weakness. Just why exactly did I let this happen?

I didn't let it happen. I fought hard and ferociously, but I ended up here.

My arms are around him, clinging to him, hard. The snow melts around us as the warmth we radiate touch it. But I'm not cold.

His voice is husky, "Want some chocolate fudge?"

Unexpected laughter breaks out in me, and I giggle like a teenage girl. "Yeah...chocolate fudge sounds...yum."

And at least for this moment, when he's murmuring my name over and over into my hair so softly, I know that all is right with the world.

Because as long as I'm with him, I am saved.

"Merry Christmas," I whisper, "Merry Christmas, Logan."

In your heart, in your soul,
did you find peace there?


Yay! Merry Christmas, everybody! ;)