January 27, 2005: A moment of explanation, if you will indulge me, please…
This story possessed my mind while I was at work today. It forced me to stay at the computer on my breaks and type. I have no idea where it came from, and no idea where it might lead. Despite my protests - "I haven't finished the camping story yet!" - I was ignored.
When it was done, I decided to check with the protagonists. I showed it to Max, who skimmed it and snorted before giving it back and going on a hot run to Sector 7.
I think it's still unread in Logan's virtual pile of e-mail…
If this story goes any further, it will be due to encouragement from the readers that I have not completely lost my mind. Set in Season One, but specific timeline unknown, even to me - yet.
There hasn't been a Beta, but I knew the job was dangerous when I accepted it… ;)
I wish to express my thanks to those of you who have shown an interest in my writing, both publicly and privately. It means a lot… :)
Thoughts in the Dark
She waits on the roof, as still as a gargoyle, ignoring the sound of the vent as it clicks with every completed rotation beside her. The bulk of it and the air conditioning unit help to conceal her from any potential observer. She crouches in the early evening and scans the road three stories below her with eyes only science messing with God could produce.
Not that anyone should be out at this time of night, scouring the roof with binoculars, expecting to find her there. Normal people are home, having dinner, swapping office stories over sashimi and steamed rice: the post-Pulse equivalent of a pot roast.
Max is beginning to suspect that Eyes Only doesn't know any normal people.
She glances at her watch for the third time, wondering why she is so impatient to get this thing done. Nothing hurts in this position and her muscles won't cramp for hours if she has to stay here that long. Seattle is experiencing an unusual cold snap thanks to something the weather guy thought was very interesting on the news that morning, but at least it isn't windy. It isn't even looking like rain. Not that the weather bothers her at all.
The job isn't complicated. Wait until someone parks their car outside the building on which she is perched. Make note of the license plate and other vehicle information and get a good look at the guy to confirm his identity matches with the description they've been given. Wait while he goes inside. Wait until he comes out and leaves. Break in and get whatever he just dropped off. Take the item to Logan so Eyes Only can do his thing and knock down a group of corrupt city officials like bowling pins.
Simple. She can do that, sit here, and wait.
She acknowledges how distracted she is when the voice nearly makes her jump out of her perfect skin.
"You okay up there, Max?"
She puts her hand to the headset and cups it gently, as if it were his cheek. She takes a breath to steady herself before speaking.
"I'm fine," she says evenly. "Just bored."
He chuckles and she can hear the light tapping of his fingertips on the laptop keys. She can't hear the engine running and wonders if he's cold yet. Wonders if he's wearing an extra pair of socks.
Wonders if he's thinking of her.
"Well, we can't have that now, can we?"
She knows this drop off is the last piece of information he needs to get the broadcast done and he's letting some of his joy spill over for a change. Max allows herself a small smile. Maybe that's it. I'm looking forward to watching him send the broadcast, live, and all of our hard work finally paying off. She sighs. Or it could be the pasta he promised to cook her once the case was closed, even though it would be at least eleven o'clock at night before they'd be eating. Good thing she'd consumed some of his leftovers earlier.
She can picture him sitting in the Aztek a few blocks away, double-checking all his information as he scans the computer for updates that might suddenly appear in his inbox, calling the whole thing off. Gotta love wireless technology.
Or maybe he's playing video games…
She shakes her head. Nah…
"Comes with the job," she says. "Hurry up and wait, right?"
"It's not very exciting down here, either." She can hear him clap his hands together and rub them vigorously. He's not wearing his gloves? Is he crazy? Unless he has some mixed-up, genetic background she doesn't know about, this weather is a concern for him.
A concern for her.
"Hey, unless you're part polar bear, you'd better put your gloves back on."
She keeps it light, so he knows she cares but won't feel nagged. To her delight, he laughs.
God, I wish I was in the car, next to him, right now, to feel the laugh fill the interior and wash over me. He laughs so rarely…
"Why do I keep forgetting about your heightened abilities?" She can picture him raising an eyebrow as they enjoy a few moments of casual banter, trying to dispel the boredom and prevent any tension or worry from creeping through a chink in their mutual armour.
"I have no idea," she says, scanning the intersection just north of her for any sign of movement. The streets are deserted. "You'd think it'd be somethin' you couldn't forget, what with the way I sneak up on you all the time."
"Sometimes I know you're there," he replies, and she can hear him shift his jacket, the sound of a zipper being pulled closer to his neck. She suddenly wants to hold him, warm his hands against the heat of her body. Heat…
She frowns. No, that isn't it, either. She'd know without a doubt if her cycle had arrived.
She'd be running for the hills.
She'd be begging for him to touch her and ripping off his clothes.
She shudders at the pleasurable and frightening thought, realizes she's smiling. What is the matter with her?
Maybe it's the dark.
Sitting up here is like a mini-moment on the Space Needle and her thoughts are rambling through the night, hoping for some cohesion. She's thinking about Logan - again - and what their friendship means to her, and what she feels it could become if one of them took a step in the wrong direction. She frowns again. Why would that direction be wrong?
Logan doesn't give her time to think about it. "We could play 'I,Spy'."
She rolls her eyes. "We did that last time we had a B & E, and I kicked your ass."
"So? Maybe I like getting my ass kicked."
Max starts. He sounds a bit distracted, like he's not thinking too hard about what he's saying or who he's speaking with, and that's fine with her. It tells her he's relaxing. Treating both of them like normal people, chatting while they eat sashimi.
Feeling frisky tonight, are we Mr. Cale? Okay…
"Hmmm," she says, her voice pretending to contemplate that sentence. "You like getting beaten by a girl?"
"I don't recall saying that… exactly."
"So, you forfeit your position as 'I,Spy' Champion?"
"I didn't say that, either." She can hear him shift his jacket again, as if he were getting comfortable in the seat. "I'll admit you're good at it, and I'll agree that you… kicked my ass last time, but forfeiting my… position is not an option."
Are we negotiating the ground rules for flirting with one another? She refrains from laughing. Why is it easier for them to communicate like this when they're several city blocks apart than when they're in the same room?
Maybe the dark is working for him, too.
"I can imagine your… position on this," she says, allowing a certain amount of innuendo to escape. "Just curious how you felt about being beaten by a girl?"
There is a pause and she wonders if she's misinterpreted his mood, taken the banter someplace he doesn't want to go.
"I like being with a beautiful, strong, intelligent woman," he says, and she can envision his poker face. His voice isn't betraying much, either. It's quiet, gentle and stating a fact but not connecting it directly to her.
Max realizes that he's leaving it open. If she wants to step over that line they silently drew in the sand when they started working together, she is welcome. She can imagine him peering at her over the rims of his glasses with those incredible eyes that all Seattle knows, but only a few are acquainted with the body and soul that are part of the package.
"Is she anyone I know?" She's still joking, playing along and trying to keep the tone of her voice in that 'I'm not serious, of course' mode. That 'I know we're not like that' stance that both of them use as they emotionally circle one another. She doesn't know how successful she is; her voice has matched his in volume and a part of her winces at the breathy quality she couldn't quite squish in time. She waits, wondering what will happen next. Wondering if he'll slip and put into words something that she's been picking up from his body language and eyes for months now.
"Might be." He clears his throat. "Max, I –" A hitch in his breathing. "I've got a car coming towards me." Her headset crackles. He has obviously flung himself down on the seat beside him, waiting for the other vehicle to pass. Max looks north and seconds later, there it is, an ancient Honda Civic turning the corner and coming towards the building.
The vent beats beside her like a pulse. Logan was about to tell me something, she thinks, noticing her own pulse has increased in anticipation of what he might have said. Crap. Why couldn't the guy have waited a few minutes longer? This better be it. This better be the guy we've been waiting for…
And if he isn't the perp, Max thinks darkly, I just might have to kill him.
To Be Continued…?