Rewriting the Past
By: All Grown Up
Spoilers: Designate This
Disclaimer: Dark Angel belongs to people richer and more important than me. *Sniff* I've asked nicely, but Fox just doesn't know how to share.
Summary: The way Season 2 should have started, according to me. M/L
A/N the first: Thanks to the people at DarkAngelFan.com for the awesome and accurate transcripts!! Where would I be without you...
A/N the second: If I could go back and change "Designate This," this would have been my top priority. The second season was by no stretch of the imagination great. But I could have handled the TOW's and Sandeman and even the Familiars a lot better if only they hadn't screwed up the Max/Logan relationship with this stupid virus. So I decided to go back and fix it myself. Not because I plan to rewrite the whole season, or continue this piece in any way, because I don't. It's just something that I felt I needed to do. However, since this is merely a stand-alone written for my own indulgence and peace of mind, I made some compromises and addressed only the issue of the virus and not the transgenics or the cult. But it made me feel much better writing it, and hopefully will do the same for all my fellow M/L shippers out there.
So here it is: the way it should have been all along.
Logan Cale sat back in his computer chair and sighed. It was late. But he didn't care. He didn't care about anything - his shaggy hair, his unshaven face, his rumpled clothes, his desk buried in files, the bags under his eyes, or the dull ache radiating throughout his back and neck and into his stiff limbs. His body was protesting, demanding more sleep, more food, and proper care, but all he could do was smile a bitter, triumphant smile. After 3 months of sleepless nights and relentless journalism, pumping sources for information, putting himself in harm's way, and piecing together the facts, it was time. Manticore was going down tonight. And he would get his revenge.
Nothing could bring her back - that much he had managed to pound into his brain. As it was, three months later, he still had trouble grasping the fact that she was gone. He felt this constant connection with her, as if she were merely across town in her own apartment, or perhaps in another state for a while. But he wasn't naive enough to think that she was still alive. It wasn't possible for anyone - even an X5 - to survive such a wound. And he had been there.
He had seen the gaping hole in her chest, listened to her breathe her dying words and finally lapse into a state of unconsciousness. The memory was always with him, as if he were sitting in a movie theater watching that scene play a million times over. He felt an inexplicable detachment to the events and yet he knew he had been there; he could feel her limp body in his arms, slowly growing cold, and see her eyes, full of fear, staring up at him.
It had taken him weeks to pull it together again. It hadn't been easy, and it never would be. But the one way he had found to go on was to not rest until Manticore had paid for all the lives it had ruined - and for what it had taken from him. Logan had once told Bling that he had to attack the disease, not the symptom. Well, Manticore was a malignancy that had been allowed to fester for too long. Max had given her life trying to rid the world of this evil. He had to continue the crusade. And maybe, just maybe, he would finally get some relief.
This is for Max, he reminded himself silently. As if he needed reminding.
Max stood outside the solid brown door. She had run full speed, non-stop from the fence at Manticore right to this door, and now she could feel her sore muscles beginning to cramp up. Slowly letting her shoulders fall, she allowed her tense body to relax and felt the tired smile she had been holding in blossom on her face. She was home.
Logan hit a few keys on his keyboard to hack into the satellite feed and then turned to his tv monitors. He had recorded the message earlier and was playing it back for the final time before all of America would see it. Pressing a button, he found himself staring into his own steely blue gaze and heard the same opening line that he had used for years now. "Do not attempt to adjust your set. This is a streaming freedom video. Your location has been revealed..."
A wave of sadness and nostalgia washed over Max as she picked the lock on the door and slipped silently into the apartment. How many times had she entered this penthouse under different circumstances, for dinner, for a quick briefing, or just to pop in and say hi. What will he say? What will he do? Max couldn't help wondering what his reaction would be. He thinks I'm dead. He's all I've thought about for the past three months, and he doesn't even know I'm alive. But before she got carried away by worry or began reminiscing about past shared moments, she reminded herself that he was in danger, and it was her fault. Any thoughts of a romantic reunion would have to wait until he was somewhere safe. As much as she hated doing it, Max would have to rely on her training now. Emotions would get them no where but dead or back at Manticore. Peering around corners for signs of the supposed X-5 assassin lurking in the shadows, she made her way to where she knew he would be - in front of his computer.
Suddenly, the computer beeped loudly at him. Logan stopped the Eyes Only hack and frowned as he turned to the screen. The error message read, 'Satellite link failed.' He grunted in exasperation and typed away, attempting to reconnect. Come on, damnit, he pleaded silently. Not now. I don't need this now. Satisfied that the computer was back on task, he was about to press play on the monitor again when he sensed a presence at his back. Logan froze for a moment. His thoughts raced through all the enemies he had made who might have tracked him down, but he quickly gave up. What's the use? Then he smirked. Could even be Manticore. Logan took a second to laugh silently at his cynical thoughts. A small part of him was even hoping that it was someone who was there to end his miserable existence. But he wasn't afraid. He was past the point of caring what happened to him - 3 months ago he had lost his reason for staying alive. And more than that, the presence behind him was comforting and... almost familiar.
Creeping quietly around the office area, she rounded the end of the screened wall and saw him, hunched over in his chair, intent and focused on what he was doing. Logan. That was the only thought that surfaced as she stared at his back, a mere few feet away from him. All at once she was bombarded with a thousand different impulses. She wanted to laugh; she wanted to cry; she wanted to run to him and feel his arms wrap around her; she wanted to kiss him; she wanted to tell him how sorry she was; she wanted to tell him she loved him. But she couldn't. Not now. Think like a soldier, she reminded herself. What's the objective? Getting Logan to safety. But her resolve wavered as she continued to watch him. All she could do was stand there, uncertain and afraid, when she saw his body tense and freeze.
Unable to resist any longer, Logan had to turn around. Slowly swiveling his chair, his eyes widened in shock and he stood up on impulse. His mind was blank, and all he could do was stare. This can't be real... Can it? Finally, he managed to utter one word.
Max tried to speak but couldn't. All she could was stare at him. Get a grip, soldier! He's in danger and it's your fault, she reminded herself sternly. First priority is to get him out of here. "We gotta get you out of here. They're coming to get you."
Her words barely registered in Logan's mind as he did what he had been longing to do for the past three months. Crossing the short distance between them as fast as he could, he captured her in a deep kiss. Max's determination completely broke and she couldn't help but return the kiss. After a minute they drew apart and held each other, desperately seeking the contact they had been denied for so long. The urgency of the situation returned to Max like a jolt, forcefully destroying the bliss of the moment.
"We gotta go. They're coming to get you."
Finally beginning to recover from his shock, Logan's eyes registered total confusion as a million questions all surfaced in his brain at once. "Who? What's going on? How did you..."
"I'll explain later. Come on." Max was growing impatient as well as worried. She would rather escape than have to fight another X5 who might be able to call in back up. Logan was about to do what she said when he remembered the hack.
"No, I have to finish my broadcast."
God damnit Logan! Why do you have to be so stubborn now?"Forget it. It's not important." She tugged on his hand to incite him to move.
It's taken me three months,he thought. This is as important to her as it is to me. "But Manticore..."
"We have to leave now!"
Both of them turned to where the voice had originated, and there in the doorway to the office stood Alec, gun pointed directly at Logan and his usual cocky smile on his face. "Hey 452. Miss me?"
"What the hell is going on?" Max couldn't help glancing at the gun in Alec's hand and began ever so slightly edging in front of Logan.
Alec ignored her question and eyed Logan up and down. "So, this is the great and powerful Eyes Only. Not exactly what I was expecting." He looked at Max. "No wonder I didn't turn you on. I can see I'm not your type. You gonna introduce us?" Not receiving an answer, he chuckled and sidestepped his way to the desk, gun never wavering. "Never mind, I'll do it myself. So... Logan Cale," he read the name off of a paper on the desk. "Nice crib you got here, Logan."
"Alec, what the hell is going on?" Max asked again. Logan glanced from Alec to Max. She knows this guy?
"Haven't you figured it out by now? I tracked you from Manticore. Renfro knew you'd get out of there as fast as you could if you thought your boyfriend was in trouble, so we set you up. You made it too easy."
"You son of a bitch!" Max lunged at Alec but he raised the gun and she backed off quickly, remembering Logan behind her.
"Whoa, whoa, hey. Just following orders. Make another move, and I shoot him." Alec gestured with the gun at Logan, who squeezed her hand reassuringly. "You're both going back to Manticore. Renfro said he stays alive as long as he tells her what he knows and who he's been working with."
"So what if I don't tell her anything?" Logan finally spoke up. He was trying to size up this X5, and so far Alec seemed dead serious.
"Your girlfriend gets solitary. No food, no water. Maybe even worse. God knows what else they'll do to her in Psy Ops." Max glanced at Logan sternly, but he just shook his head in response. "Now come on. I'm not gettin any younger."
Renfro's head jerked up expectantly as a doctor entered her office, carrying a flat computer and what she hoped would be good news.
"Results of the DNA workup you ordered on 452."
"Did you find anything to explain why there's no progeria?" Something in the doctor's voice worried her.
"Maybe you better take a look."
The director took the offered computer and skimmed its contents. Sitting back in her chair, she couldn't conceal her shock.
"I've never seen anything like it. Just to be sure, I'll run another series as soon as 494 gets her back here."
Her mind barely registered the doctor's words as she tried to grasp what she was seeing. "Does anyone else know about this?"
"Let's keep it that way." Reaching into an open drawer, she pulled out a handgun and shot him. Ignoring the dying man on her floor, she turned to the phone and dialed as fast as she could. After all these years... And 452, no less.
A "Bonjour" on the other end of the line brought her out of her thoughts. (*) "C'est Renfro. Je pense que j'ai trouvé ce qu'on cherchait... Non, personne ne le sait à Manticore. Ah oui... je te l'emmene." She hung the phone up in a daze, wishing 494 would get back to Manticore quickly. Glancing at the gun on her desk, she decided to first deal with the body on her floor, thinking that it was a good thing the floors weren't carpeted. Blood was so difficult to get out.
(*Translation: "It's Renfro. I think I've found what we've been looking for... No, no one at Manticore knows. Yes... I'll bring her to you.")
Max was desperately trying to think of some way to buy time. Alec hadn't taken his eyes off of her, and when he said he'd shoot Logan, she believed him. Whether Eyes Only was at Manticore or dead, it didn't matter - the threat was neutralized. She had to come up with something and fast.
Suddenly the computer beeped. Distracted, Alec turned away and Max took the chance. She sent a hard kick to his chest and knocked the gun out of his hand. Alec leapt at her and they crashed through the thin screened walls, kicking and struggling on the floor. Unsure of whether he should get involved, Logan looked on helplessly, wishing he hadn't left his pistol in the bag on the wheelchair. Tearing his eyes away from the fighting X5s for a split second, he saw the message displayed on the computer monitor: 'Satellite link established. Press enter to transmit.' Max was trying to fend off her opponent's ferocious attempts to get the upper hand when she spotted Alec's discarded gun and kicked it across the floor.
Picking up the gun, Logan aimed it at Alec, who held up his hands in defeat. Max backed off.
"Fine, 452. Have it your way. But, just so you know, Manticore will find us eventually. They'll track us right to this penthouse, bust down the door, and drag us all back there anyway. You can't win. Sooner or later, you're going home."
Max took a breath, saw what she had to do, and strode over to the computer. "It's not gonna be there."
Alec eyed her, suddenly suspicious and worried. "What are you doing?"
"Ending this thing once and for all."
Leaning over the desk, she hit the Enter key, and Logan's prerecorded message began playing. All three stared at the screen as the familiar words echoed throughout the room.
"Do not attempt to adjust your set. This is a streaming freedom video bulletin."
All the people in the main control room at Manticore, Renfro included, stopped what they were doing and turned to watch as Eyes Only appeared on the screen. The director could hardly contain her anger.
"Your location has been revealed."
A cell phone rang and the man sitting in the desk in front of her answered it. Renfro remained focused on the tv, already anticipating who it would be.
"Your secret is out. And now Manticore will be held accountable for its crimes."
The man turned and handed the phone to her. "It's them," he said simply, his eyes betraying his fear.
"Manticore's facility is located an hour southwest of..."
"Renfro," she snapped into the phone, blocking out the relentless computerized voice.
"Understood." She closed the phone with a snap and turned to the man at the desk. "Lock down the barracks. We're cauterizing the site." Time to take things into my own hands.
Max was finishing tying up an unconscious Alec as Logan sat at his computer trying to hack into Manticore's database. After several attempts, he turned to Max and let out a sigh.
"It's no use. They're blocking me out."
"Guess I'll just have to go myself then." She headed into the hall with Logan close behind her.
"Wait a minute. What exactly do you plan to do?"
She turned at the door to face him, experiencing a sense of deja vu as she remembered a similar conversation between them the night she had left to rescue Zack.
"Logan, they're going to burn the place with everyone inside and Renfro will walk away with all the information she needs to start over again. I can't let that happen." She saw the fear in his eyes. This is the attack on Manticore all over again for him, she realized. They both heard the groans of the recovering X5 in the office.
"Stay here. Don't take your eyes off Alec." Turning to go, she felt Logan's hand on her arm and looked up at him.
"Max..." He didn't know what else to stay. Last time he had asked her to come back, she had been fatally wounded.
"I'll come back this time," she whispered. "I promise." Kissing him briefly, she opened the door and left the penthouse. Logan stared at the door until Alec's moans reminded him of the tethered X5 and he reluctantly returned to the office.
Max arrived at the top of the hill that sloped down to reach the maximum security fence, momentarily puzzled at the lack of activity. As she watched, a few parts of the building quickly burst into flame. All of a sudden, alarms were blaring and smoke began to fill the sky.
Murdering bitch,Max thought bitterly.
Jumping the fence and crossing the grounds with ease, she entered one of the buildings and began navigating the hallways, recalling all her memories of the sterile, twisting passages. Stopping at one door, she could hear the sounds of soldiers yelling and banging on the walls over the noise of the fire alarm. Attempting to pry open the door, Max found it locked. Thinking quickly, she broke into the nearest control room and began typing on the computer. Flipping a switch, she waited. The hall doors opened. Soldiers of varying ages spilled into the hallway, making their way through the smoke and flame to the nearest exit.
In the main control room, Renfro was looking over the shoulder of the head of security, her hand gripping the back of his chair and her knuckles turning white as she watched Max on the monitors. 494 is in deep trouble, she thought furiously.
"We've got a security breach. Someone's unlocking the cell doors," the guard informed her.
Damn. "Well, override the system. Lock down those doors."
"Can't," he replied. "Control conduits must be burned out."
One of the other screens, a satellite feed of the compound, showed the escaping transgenics as blips moving jerkily across the grounds.
"They're in the yard, heading for the fence."
"Well, stop them," she ordered, in the tone that warned the guards not to screw up. "No one gets past the perimeters." Turning quickly to two soldiers who were about to leave the room, she looked at them sternly. "Bring me 452 - alive."
Logan was sitting in his desk chair, eyes and gun still trained on Alec, who was sitting on the floor, ankles tied and wrists tied behind his back. The X5 was doing his best to look bored. For the most part, he was. But he desperately wanted to return to Manticore. He figured they'd be moving out quickly and needed to get back as fast as he could.
Moving his wrists around ever so slightly, Alec realized that he had just enough room for his hands to get to the knot. Whoever tied this gets an E for effort. Working quickly, he decided to distract Eyes Only by starting a conversation.
"So...," he began, "It's Logan, right?"
Logan eyed the X5 suspiciously, unsure of whether he was trying something.
"Shut up," he said, raising the gun slightly for emphasis.
"Alright, alright. Just trying to have a little conversation. It's not fun being tied up." Damn it, just a little more...
"I can imagine," Logan replied dryly. His thoughts were on Max, but he tried his best to focus on Alec and be prepared for any sudden movements he might make. Logan had had enough experiences with X5s to know to be on his toes.
Finally, Alec felt the rope slip off his wrists. Springing forward, he knocked the gun out of Logan's hands and landed a hard punch to the face that knocked him out before he could react. Quickly freeing his ankles, he retrieved his gun and paused, torn. Should he bring in Eyes Only anyway?
"Don't move. Put it on the floor."
The voice behind his head was female and stern. Alec slowly placed his weapon on the floor. Turning to face her, he smiled easily. Please. Reaching out with blurring speed, he turned the tables, grabbing her gun and pointing it at her. He chuckled. The sudden fear was evident in the blonde's eyes. Alec made a quick decision. The damage had been done- Eyes Only was no longer the objective. As for this civilian... she was hardly a threat. Cute, though. Admiring the gun, he looked at the woman again before heading for the door. "Nice piece."
Asha let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. Glancing at Logan's unconscious form on the floor of the office, she went to the kitchen to get a glass of water to revive him.
The basement hallways were a mass of confusion as transgenics of all kinds left their cells and milled about, unsure of what was going on. The unthinkable had happened; their cages were open. Joshua made his way through the smoke, gesturing with his large hands and raising his voice to get everyone's attention.
"Move. Move. Go! Free! Free! Move!"
They began to follow him as he made his way towards the nearest stairwell that would take them all to the outside - a place few of them had ever been. Joshua only knew one thing. This was Max's doing. She had come back and freed them all. He smiled as the other transgenics emptied out of the building into the hot, smoky night. Thanks, little fella.
Alec raced through the woods as fast as his genetically-enhanced body could, a blur among the trees, his stomach tight with a sense of dread. He slowed when he reached the top of the hill and couldn't believe the sight that lay before his eyes. Manticore's crumbling buildings stood out in stark relief against the blazing fire that was devouring everything it touched. In the yard, he could see soldiers of all kinds milling about, confused and scared, most of them with at least enough sense to head towards the fence.
452 couldn't have done this... Could she?
Alec stood in a daze, watching his home burn to the ground. The sound of gunfire nearby snapped him out of his daze, and he gave one last long look at Manticore before disappearing into the woods again.
Max looked up sharply as she heard two soldiers approaching the control room. She glanced around, nodded, and, satisfied that her work here was complete, ducked out of the room, heading for her next target.
Joshua emerged from the cellar, followed by billows of smoke. Everyone was out - he was certain of that. He began climbing the hill in front of him, the tantalizing smell of freedom urging him on. When he reached the top, he looked back briefly. It wasn't his home - it was his cage. No longer. Turning, he ran into the woods without another look back. The big man smiled like he had never smiled before as he entered the unknown of the outside world.
Joshua blaze. That's the plan.
In her office, Renfro was hurriedly throwing things into her briefcase when a soldier entered.
"Ma'am we need to evacuate."
Renfro turned to him. "Where's 452?"
"Now, ma'am," the soldier said impatiently. Renfro fixed him with her deadliest look and he gulped, remembering that he was talking to the director.
"I'm not leaving without her." Suddenly, Max rushed in the door, a fast kick making short work of the soldier. Marching over to Renfro, she grabbed the older woman by the neck. The X5 was not in the mood to play games or trade barbs.
"What a coincidence, cause I'm not leavin without you. Where's the disk?" Max demanded.
The director struggled to face Max, but gave up after she felt the soldier tighten her grip. "We've got to get out of here now, 452."
Unable to control months of pent-up anger, Max slammed the director face-first against a wall. "My name's Max! I'm not letting you bounce with all the information to set up again and torture the next generation. Now where is it?"
Renfro was desperate as she felt the hand tighten around her neck even more. "Okay, okay." She took the briefcase off the desk and Max grabbed it. Manticore doesn't matter, she reminded herself. Only 452...
At that moment, another soldier ran into the room, sized up the situation quickly and aimed a shot at Max. Time seemed to slow down as his finger pulled the trigger back and the bullet flew from the barrel.
Max saw a body blur as it dove past and accepted the bullet meant for her. Reacting quickly, she shoved a table into the soldier's stomach, and he promptly doubled over. Both of them seemed to realize at the same time who had taken the shot and the man's eyes widened in terror. Max looked at him gravely. "I won't tell if you don't."
The soldier turned as fast as he could and fled the room. Max knelt next to Renfro, who was bleeding profusely from one side and gasping for air.
"You just ate a bullet for me. Why?"
Renfro slowly reached up and touched Max's face, an act which would have made the X5 recoil if not for the director's sudden sacrifice. "You... you are the one we've been looking for. Sandeman..."
Max's first encounter with Joshua sprung to her mind immediately. "Father... Sandman."
She was brought back to the present by Renfro's words, barely audible. "Find... Sandeman." The director passed out and the X5 slowly got up and left the room.
Max ran full speed up the hill among waves of soldiers still pouring out of the compound and into the surrounding forest. Stopping for a moment at the crest of the hill, she turned and admired her handiwork. Manticore was quickly being consumed by fire, the hungry orange flames licking up the sides of buildings and into the starry night sky. Every barrack and mess hall, every instrument of torture in the Psy Ops department, every dank cell lining the basement hallways, every computer that held years of priceless research and information... they would all be ash by morning. Max smiled, her face glowing from the light of the fire. Swinging the briefcase around, she turned and ran into the woods.
Logan heard the door open and immediately rushed from the living room into the entry hall. He skidded to a halt and smiled in relief when he saw Max, safe and sound, setting down a briefcase by the door. She smiled in response, and both stood for a moment, lost in private thoughts. The silence was broken by Asha appearing from the living room behind Logan.
"I'm Asha. You must be Max," she said by way of introduction, stepping forward and offering her hand. Max shook it, a little surprised and unsure of what to say. Logan watched the two women warily. Max turned to Logan.
"Gone. He got the jump on me. I've got the bump to prove it." He pointed to a slightly raised spot on his temple that was beginning to turn purple.
Max nodded her head.
Asha looked from Logan to Max, then back to Logan, and decided to make her retreat. "Well, I have to go. Gotta make curfew. Bye, Logan." She stopped by Max on her way to the door. "Welcome back."
Once the door had clicked shut, Max raised her eyebrow at Logan in an obvious question. He smirked. "Just a friend."
"Uh huh. Let me see this bruise you got." Max led him into the living room and sat down on the couch. He did the same, and she gently brushed aside his long hair to get a good look at his temple. "This isn't so bad," she said, his new style not escaping her notice.
"So Manticore is gone for good?"
"Yup. I got there just in time."
"You know, things are different now. Back when you first got out, it was just the twelve of you. Now there's a lot more."
She shrugged, her mind elsewhere. "If they're smart, they'll lay low."
"You don't want it getting around that you and yours are out in the world. People tend to get scared of things that are different. Keep your head down." His eyes betrayed his concern.
"I always do," she reassured him. There was a brief pause.
"Thanks for coming back," he said softly, taking her hand. Max smiled at him, then looked away towards the nighttime Seattle skyline. Logan saw the troubled look that crossed her face. "What is it?"
"Nothing. Just a lot more questions that need answers."
Logan grinned in reply. "I've got a few of those myself."
"I'll explain everything later."
"Promise." They sat for a few more moments before Max took a breath and turned to him again. "The whole time I was at Manticore, there was one thought that kept me going. When I got shot, in the woods, I said that I had something to tell you, and I was so afraid that I'd lost my chance. That's what made me keep fighting. And I promised myself that, if I got a second chance, I wouldn't waste it." She paused for a moment, looking directly up into his eyes. "I love you, Logan."
His smile was warm and went all the way up to his eyes as he reached out a hand and brushed the hair away from her face. "I love you too, Max."
Leaning forward, their lips met, softly at first, but slowly gaining in intensity as all the emotions of the past year finally found release in each other's embrace. Leading Max to the bedroom, Logan quietly closed the door, shutting them off from the outside world, together.
Max woke up a few hours later to a room that was still enveloped in early morning darkness. She could feel Logan's arms wrapped around her and the heat radiating from his body behind her. Turning her head to look at him, a soft smile crossed her face as she watched him sleep peacefully. After a few minutes, she carefully wriggled out of his embrace. Slipping back into her clothes, she quietly left the apartment.
It took her much longer than normal to reach the Space Needle, due to the fact that her motorcycle was still back at her apartment, but she enjoyed the walk, relishing the familiar sights and sounds of Seattle and trying to grasp the fact that she was really home. The landmark was deserted like usual, and she made her way to the top with practiced ease.
The wind whipped her hair around as she slowly walked to the edge of the metal surface, surveying the still-broken city. A city that was now full of transgenics of all kinds, bringing with them new dangers, new friends, and maybe even new enemies. She hoped Joshua had gotten out, and even wondered briefly where Alec was. She would go back to Logan's penthouse in a little while, and later in the day pay Original Cindy a visit. But for now, she needed some time to think by herself.
Funny how from up here, it looks like nothing's changed. Only everything's changed. The whole time I was at Manticore, all I wanted was my strange little life back. Never figured it could get any stranger. But I guess it's gonna. And I guess I'm just gonna have to deal with it.Max smiled. Lucky thing I have Logan. It feels good to have someone who understands and will always be there for me. To have someone who loves me. Because no matter what happens, I know I won't have to face it alone.
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it!