Disclaimer: I don't own 'Dark Angel' or any of the characters, and if I did the show would still be generating episodes.

Title: The Morning After

Author: lilmouse

Rating: PG-13

Episode Reference: Inspired by VDAS3 Episode 3.19: 'Come Together', and set, oddly enough, the morning after the events of that episode. A very talent group of writers and fans created DAVS3, and should be lauded for their efforts. If you haven't been to the VS3 site, you should treat yourself and enjoy!

Many thanks must go to catherder and Alaidh for being the most amazing Betas for this story!

A/N: This short story was inspired by the episode mentioned above and encouraged to be posted here by some of the wild and wonderful folks I have met through Virtual Haven – yet another site you should visit, Dear Reader, if you haven't already. Thank you for your support, gang!

I should mention that many of the people I have met through a mutual enthusiasm for 'Dark Angel' know me as 'Mouse', a nickname and moniker I have used since I was quite young. Unfortunately, an author already established on FFN has chosen that name, so I am 'lilmouse' when I'm here, as it were. I have been writing fiction for years, but this is my first 'Dark Angel' story. Constructive (and positive) feedback is always welcome. However, if you don't care for the concept of Max and Logan becoming a couple, you might want to bolt right about... now...

The Morning After

By lilmouse

Monday, February 7, 2022, 5:00 AM

Max lay on her right side, arms hugging the pillow beneath her head, gaze set lovingly on the man sleeping beside her.
By the dim glow of pre-dawn light, she watched his chest rise and fall. Not needing her exceptional night vision to see him clearly, she memorized the moment so she could recall it again and again. His dark blonde hair was tousled; she decided it was almost due for a trim. His face wore the usual stubble that she found so endearing: save the world, forget to shave. Her eyes moved lower to his muscular torso and the fine blonde chest hairs there, his strong arms flung out in sleep. One had embraced her a few moments before but she had extricated herself, wanting to savor her first morning as an official resident of the penthouse at Fogle Towers.
The sheet barely covered his hips, so his belly button and the hair around and below it was visible. Max resisted the urge to run her fingers over his abdomen, reluctant to wake him. She longed for him to open his eyes and look at her again with that expression of undeniable love.

Sunday, February 6, 2022, 7:17 PM

The kiss in the wheelchair escalated to a frantic fumbling with clothing. The last box of Max's belongings sat on the floor near the dresser, forgotten, as two people struggled with passion and a state of partial undress. She was in his lap, straddling the wheelchair, and he held her so close she briefly wondered if their activities might send them toppling backwards. They pulled away sufficiently to speak, lips still touching.
"This is quite the welcome," Max said, breathless despite her ability to go without air for an extended period. Her t-shirt was inside-out on the dresser and her tank top had been pulled down, squeezing her breasts over the top without quite releasing them.
Taking deep breaths himself, Logan gazed at her with more love than she thought possible, the lust of moments ago still there but softened. Max felt overwhelmed by what she saw in his eyes.
"You've always been welcome here, Max," he murmured, gently rubbing the tip of his nose against hers. One hand caressed her dark hair, fingers splayed, as if he were combing it. His other hand was unable to move due to Max's attempt to drag his shirt off, trapping his left arm in the sleeve. He had no idea where the buttons had fallen.
"I did keep letting myself in."
"Like I minded." He grinned. "Besides, you knew how to pick the lock, so what choice did I have?"
Max smiled. "You could've changed the lock," she responded, playing with his hair.
"You'd just've picked that one, too."
"Hired a body guard?" she teased.
"Didn't want to," he said, kissing her chin and moving down her throat with his lips. "Never want to," he continued, placing light kisses along her collarbone. He released her hair and fumbled in the pocket of his pants. "Which reminds me. "He pressed something small and cool into the palm of her left hand, never straying from his attentions to her skin. "This is for you."
There was enough time for Max to register the key he had given her, then his mouth moved lower and she became distracted.
"Logan?" Her voice was straining to remain controlled. The key reached the top of the dresser by sheer luck.
"Mm-hmm?"
"Are we gonna do it in the chair for variety or can we move this to the bed?"
His chuckle reverberated against her chest. He lifted his face to hers and kissed her tenderly on the lips.
"Not in the chair," he said, smiling his lopsided smile. "Not yet," he added with a whisper and his face darkened as he was reminded of his decreasing mobility. Max noticed the direction of his thoughts and wriggled in his lap.
"Hey," she said sharply and pulled him into a fierce kiss, one hand firmly grabbing the hair on the back of his head, and the other digging her nails into his back. His body responded and, lips thoroughly occupied, she stood and dragged him from the wheelchair. The rest of his shirt was removed and dropped to the floor, followed shortly by his pants and her jeans. They disengaged long enough for Logan to remove her tank top the rest of the way and for Max to pull his undershirt over his head. Then they tumbled together onto the bed, not caring that the light was on and the window was open to the night.

Monday, February 7, 2022, 5:16 AM

Love, joy, lust, desire, trust, faith, hope... So much embodied in one person.
Max had never considered Logan Cale perfect. His imperfections were loved as much as the rest of him; without them, and his ability to frequently overcome them, he wouldn't be the same man. He was perfect for her, and that was what mattered. In a way, though, he was her savior. In two years, she'd gone from only looking out for her own skin to caring about complete strangers who were unable to protect themselves from an often cruel, post-Pulse world. She was connected, making a difference. Staring at his profile, she considered one important change that had happened within her - letting herself love was definitely not part of the Manticore initiative. Max knew she cared about her siblings, loved them as best she could despite all the harsh techniques Lydecker had utilized to eliminate their emotions. She had friends like Cindy who cared about her, despite her unusual past. It was different with Logan. She didn't know she could love someone so much, to want to be with him at the end of the day, to want to spend the rest of her life with him –
Max tensed at the thought and hugged her pillow more tightly. Was that really happening? Was she so committed to this man that if he were to do something so mind-bogglingly traditional as to propose...
There was a gentle puff of air. Distracted, she had squeezed her pillow a bit too hard. She watched as some feathers floated over Logan and despite her gentle blowing, she was unable to divert them. Most drifted to settle on his chest but one landed on his cheek. Max held her breath, hoping he'd continue to sleep: he'd earned it.
They had made love then dozed, then made love again and indulged in a late night snack a lá Cale of bruschetta and grilled mushrooms with linguine, which had led to a round of playful exploration. They had finally switched off the light at one in the morning, deciding they needed some proper sleep. She Who Did Not Sleep had been awakened just after three to Logan's pleasurable ministrations and they'd made love again, rejuvenated by only a few hours rest. Where he had found the energy, Max could only guess. She wondered sadly if his concern over his mobility was the inspiration. Max glanced at the clock: 5:24 AM. Logan stirred in his sleep, drawing her gaze back to his face. The feather had dislodged itself and fallen to the pillow as he turned his head toward her. His left arm flexed and, missing her weight, he opened his eyes.
"Max?" Logan focused as best he could on the dim figure lying beside him. In the darkness and without his glasses, it wasn't easy to see, but he sighed, knowing it was her and relieved she was still there; knowing her shape, her smile, and the scent of cherries.
"Hey," she said, shifting closer. His arm wrapped around her again and she abandoned her pillow to place her head on his shoulder.
"Hey," he whispered back, enjoying the feel of her skin against his. "Uh, did you sleep well?"
Max snorted. "Sleep is for sissies."
He chuckled. "I guess we didn't get much of it, anyway."
She gently ran her left hand over his abdomen and tugged lightly at the hairs. He wondered how much longer he'd be able to feel her touch there. He swallowed and pushed the thought away. Don't get maudlin, Cale. They lay together for a while, warm and comfortable, gently touching one another as if confirming that the moment was real.
"I like waking up and having you here," he said quietly, reaching over with his free hand to caress her arm. "Thank you."
"For what?"
"For agreeing to move in with me."
"Twist my rubber arm. I like being here with you, too." She sighed. "Unfortunately, I do have to go to work today."
"Like some breakfast?"
"Love some. Gotta shower first." She inhaled deeply and rubbed his chest, surreptitiously removing the feathers. "And so do you."
"We could be economical," he suggested casually. "Save water and shower together."
Max laughed and propped herself up on her elbow. Logan looked up at her and felt a wave of love for her crash against him.
My angel, dark angel, help me fly...
"Not this morning," she said, rolling away and dragging the sheet with her. She let it crumple to a heap on the floor as she walked naked to the door. "Gotta make it quick. I'd never get to work if you were there."
"You're right." He grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "Let's do it anyway."
Max eyed him blatantly, lingering over his handsome face and muscular body, right down to his toes. Her eyes returned to his face as she said, "My regrets."
"I'll make it worth your while."
"Sorry, Charlie."
"Chicken."
Max saucily stuck out her tongue and darted into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. She knows me too well, Logan thought, reminded of the times he'd surprised her in the shower before. He frowned at the feathers he found on the mattress, puzzled by their presence. He looked down at his legs, exposed when Max had left the bed: sensation still, but not a lot of support. Gotta work on the exo today, he decided. The shower started and he took a few minutes to assess his mobility. With some concentration he was able to wiggle his toes then move his legs over to the edge of the bed. It took more effort than he liked. He glanced around the room and was relieved to see that the wheelchair was within reach. Shifting his position, he found he'd been lying on his boxers and slid them on, along with the pants he was able to retrieve from where they'd been unceremoniously deposited on the floor. After transferring to the wheelchair, he pulled a t-shirt from one of his remaining dresser drawers and dragged it over his head just as the water stopped. Figuring he'd grab a shower after Max had gone to work, Logan slid on his glasses and rolled down the hall and into the kitchen.
The usually tidy counter held clutter from their midnight snack, and there were even traces of last night's dinner, and the brunch they'd shared with her siblings. All the food was stored in the 'fridge, what little remained after Krit and Zane had been designated to raid his leftovers, but the sink had been filled with dishes. Zack had wanted to get moving and Jondy had seemed torn between agreeing with Zack and extending her visit with Max. They had compromised and stayed long enough for Syl and Jondy to neatly stack the plates and put the cutlery in to soak, but the pan used for the mushrooms cooked later that evening and the pasta bowl were still on the stove, and various utensils lay where they'd been abandoned when the consumption of linguine had become a distractingly erotic experience. Who had time to clean when there were more important things to do?
Logan smiled, remembering how he'd tried to explain 'Lady and the Tramp' to Max and where the demonstration of a particular scene had led. It made his current task of cleaning up less arduous. After putting most of the dishes in to soak in fresh hot water, he rummaged in the 'fridge for breakfast and made a mental note of the groceries he'd need to purchase for the next few days. With a grunt of satisfaction, he removed some items, grabbed a pan, and started cooking.
Max emerged from the bathroom after one of her fastest showers ever, feeling refreshed. Holding a comb between her teeth, she kicked yesterday's jeans to one side and pulled a fresh pair from a drawer, one of three that held her clothes. She had managed to score the third drawer after some playful negotiations with Logan the previous evening. Fresh underwear, jeans, tank top and t-shirt were quickly donned. She also found a pair of warm socks and a sweater to take. The socks weren't hers, and she liked the idea of wearing something Logan owned. A pair of boxers tempted her, too, but she passed on the opportunity. She wouldn't put the sweater on until she was heading out; layers were important for Seattle in February, even for someone with a souped-up metabolism, but hardly necessary for the penthouse. She checked the time again: 6:00 AM. Before she left the bedroom, Max snagged her dirty clothes and pitched them in the laundry basket. Content, she returned for her key and an elastic, and headed toward the kitchen, combing her hair.
"Ahh," she said, sniffing appreciatively. "Bacon!"
"Crispy," Logan said, glancing over his shoulder to give her one of his brilliant smiles. "Just the way you like it."
"And toast," she said, taking note of the meal in progress as she tucked the key into a front pocket of her jeans and pulled her hair back into a ponytail.
"Almost ready." He used a pair of tongs to remove the bacon from the pan and place it on a plate with paper towel to absorb some of the fat.
"And sliced tomato, lettuce..."
"And homemade mayonnaise."
Max rolled her eyes and leaned over to bite his right earlobe.
"You know how to please your woman," she murmured.
Logan turned his wheelchair to face her and moved it subtly from side to side. "A BLT to start your day off right."
"Yummy." She admired how the t-shirt fit him and how sexy he looked in the mornings. Another benefit of moving in, she thought.
"I hope you like it," he said, oblivious to his affect on her.
Max found herself sighing again, wishing she didn't have to go to work, but the load would just shift to her friends at Jam Pony, and Normal, who had been an unexpected ally throughout the siege at Terminal City, deserved better than to have a slacker for an employee. He'd be on her back, choking on his "Bip, bip, bips". She perched on one of the stools and pulled on her socks – his socks. Tossing her sweater in the direction of the sofa, she placed her comb on the counter and decided to help assemble breakfast. Max came to stand behind the wheelchair and gently massaged his shoulders while he finished cooking. She loved the feel of his muscles under her fingers. Focus, focus, she thought. She buttered the toast – where did Logan find unsalted butter all the time? – and sampled the Cale mayonnaise by dipping the tip of her finger in the mason jar and licking it with approval before spreading a generous amount on each sandwich.
"I saw that," Logan observed quietly, placing the lettuce and tomato on the toast.
"But it's so good," she said, and offered him a finger covered in mayonnaise. Watching her face carefully, thoroughly enjoying her playful morning mood, he took the finger in his mouth and sucked it clean. Max's resolve wavered for a moment, her eyes fixed on his beautiful green ones, a quiet whimper in her throat.
"We should have breakfast," he said huskily, his expression telling her he was aware of his effect on her this time. They shared a mutual sigh. Reluctantly, he returned to the task at hand and used the tongs to place the bacon on the tomato. She smiled and finished assembling the sandwiches, put them on one plate and carried it to the table. Logan followed with a jug of orange juice and two glasses. He filled both glasses and passed one to her. Offering each other a salute, they took a sip and began their breakfast in companionable silence.
Max looked outside the big living room windows at the Seattle skyline as the sun tried to penetrate the February gloom. The sky seemed to be considering what type of precipitation it would provide for the city's inhabitants: misty rain, light rain or heavy rain. She took another bite of her sandwich. If she was lucky, there wouldn't be a storm. It would be chilly though, regardless, and the wind would fight her, and she was tired just thinking about it. What's wrong with me? I'm a genetically engineered super messenger. I can handle anything Mother Nature throws at me. Her workday hadn't even started and she already couldn't wait to come home. Home to warmth and food and someone who wanted to take care of her, who loved her: home to Logan.
Home. The word resonated on her lips as she repeated it softly out loud. Logan was chewing the last piece of crust and paused when she spoke. She was looking across the room at the view out the windows, but her eyes were far away and her expression could best be described as surprised. Logan swallowed and took a sip of juice.
"Max?" She turned her head and focused on him. "Are you okay?"
She smiled her trademark mega-watt smile and sent his heart pounding at the joy he saw on her face. It had obviously replaced the thoughts that had held her moments before.
"I'm great," she assured him, reaching across the table to take his hand. "I'm home."
"You've had homes before," he said, delighted she was so happy to be here with him. He smiled uncertainly. "Don't they count?"
Max shook her head. "Not like this."
She was rewarded with Logan gazing at her with an expression of undeniable love. Terrified and thrilled at the same time, Max realized she could finally throw the boxes away. Her bike had a guaranteed parking spot, along with her heart. She wouldn't have to move ever again.

~Fin