Disclaimer: They're not mine, but the hell I put them through is.
Notes: Mushy gushy lovey stuff ahead. Consider yourself warned.
After hell, after she had been returned to him, they stood together at the waterfront. The evening light crept slowly away beyond the horizon, sucking back the tide. The shore was littered with broken glass.
His fingers tightened around her arm, "Don't cut your feet."
She smiled, a softer pull of muscle, not the smirk he was expecting. Her fingers brushed his away absently.
"I missed the ocean," she said stepping away from him, her bare feet making a soft sucking noise in the wet sand.
"I missed—" her voice faded into the lapping waves and Logan slipped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her back against his chest. He breathed in deeply the scent of her hair.
"I missed you," he whispered, and his loose hand fumbled for hers. He held on to her tightly, even as the breeze blew cold against their bare legs and their feet began to go numb in the wet sand. He held onto her tightly as if the sea might pull her from his arms, pull her away.
He finds his insomnia both a blessing and a curse. He is able to watch her now all night, which is about the only form of protection he feels is safe enough. The numerous additions to his security system haven't dissipated his unease. Fear of her disappearing, which has set up permanent residence in his chest, keeps his eyes open each night. It's as if he blinks, the world might end. It did once, he remembers, but that seems like a lifetime ago. In retrospect, the pulse was really just a catalyst helping things along. Before it came humanity was already on the road to disaster, with our sheer and utter dependence on our fallible technology. It was a catastrophe at the time, but Logan realizes now that he has lived through worse. He battles each night with his need to watch her and protect her knowing full well how much it hurts to do so. How his guilt and anger seize up in a rush of emotions when he looks down on her sleeping form and sees the evidences of their torture. She is marred with Manticore, and not just beneath the skin. "The scars don't heal like they used to," she laughed brokenly when he first touched the long swollen line that ran from her collarbone to her shoulder. He has them all mapped out now, each mark they've made on her; each small pucker of the skin from the tip of a syringe, each bruise that fades at a snail's pace from black to blue to purple and yellow, the intricate map of red lines criss-crossing the smooth expanse of white. He can see them against his lids even with his eyes closed. But seeing them with his eyes open, knowing its not just a bad dream he will awake from to find her lying in his arms, makes it worse. She's worried about him, he knows this, but he can't let on about so many things. For her sake, he tells himself. For her.
She has just come in from an outing with her friends, her face flushed and happy. Logan grins as she laughs at her own inability to remove her running shoes. He will not say anything to Cindy though, about getting her drunk. Not when she is laughing and he feels an enormous weight temporarily lifted from his shoulders.
"I think-" she slurs, and Logan jumps up from his chair to steady her. "I think I'm a little bit tipsy."
He supports her weight with one arm around her back and brushes her damp hair back from her face, smiling down at her.
"Tipsy, huh? You might want to come up with a stronger synonym."
He half carries her to the couch where they collapse in a heap of tangled limbs. Between childish giggles and gasps, she manages to ask what he is implying exactly.
Extricating himself from the mess is made almost impossible as Max makes no effort in moving a muscle, content to lie like a wet rag wrapped around his body. He gives up and instead tries to shift into a more comfortable position. He grunts as he pulls Max away from him long enough to position himself horizontally on the cushions. He glances down to find Max stifling her laughter in his shirt, apparently finding utmost hilarity in the whole situation.
"And what, might I ask, is so funny?"
She raises her head, wiping tears from her face. Her laughter subsides abruptly and her body stills on his. She looks intently into his face.
"Remember," she says, and is then interrupted by a hiccup. She closes her eyes, pushing a palm against her mouth, regaining composure.
"Remember," she tries again, "Once you were in a wheelchair?"
He sighs, gently running a hand up and down her back.
"As I recall it wasn't the funniest of situations."
"No," she whispers soberly, head bent. "Seems like yesterday."
It does for him too, mostly because he relives it everyday. Every moment he wonders how things might have turned out had he not been so selfish, had he not asked her to do the impossible. He relives it again and again, piecing together everything he did not see until she came back. He imagines changing the past, erasing all the bruises, cuts and broken bones, erasing everything that he, in a way, inflicted on her. He relives it and hates himself.
He shushes her with a finger to her lips and replaces her head on his chest. He doesn't think they should be talking about it, not when she's liable to say exactly what is on her mind and not when the close proximity of their bodies makes it almost impossible to think.
She will sleep soundly tonight, he knows. Her breathing is deep and slow, her heart beats firmly against his chest.
The walls still quiver from the force at which the door slammed into its frame. And that was two hours ago. Logan tries to wait patiently for her fit to subside, for her to return and accept a peaceable compromise, but he knows he shouldn't hold his breath. He also knows he shouldn't have been so damned patronizing, and regrets it, but she was being impossible. Logic, he still believes, motivated his decision. Max, on the other hand, has chosen to ignore logic.
He has begun pacing back and forth across his apartment, trying to release the stockpile of nervous energy. He feels ridiculous for worrying so much about her, knowing that if anyone can take of herself, its Max. But threads of guilt are mixed up in there somewhere, because she left his place angry. Angry at him.
It was a simple request actually. And she hadn't even asked him for money. If she had, he would have been completely justified in saying no. But he had said no not only to her question, but also to her. He said she wasn't allowed. He had no right to, this he admits, but he did try to explain himself. He did try to show her reason and logic, but she refused to listen.
Her poking her head into his office and saying all too sweetly "I'm going to look at motorcycles. Wanna come?" is what had initiated this whole thing. Or maybe it was his overreaction.
"Woah there. Back up. Motorcycle? I don't think so."
So maybe he should have thought before he spoke, but it's not like he didn't have cause to say what he did. Firstly, the police are stingier than ever with their distribution of license plates, and secondly, Max's seizures are still pretty frequent, what if?
But he's one to know that Max will do whatever she wants to do, with or without his support. She's the superhero, the super-charged super-human. He images her walking the city streets, chatting up all the motorist dealers in town, trying to strike a bargain. He images her breaking into the ATM down the street, cautiously, of course. And then he images her riding her spanking new ninja down the highway and out of Seattle, out of his life.
He overreacts, but it's only because he worries.
"What I want," she says slowly over the phone, picking her words and diction, "is peace of mind."
"Revenge," he supplies.
"No. Just-" she sighs.
"Max, where are you?" There is a trace of panic in his voice despite his conscientious effort to remain calm.
Several painstaking moments pass before she speaks.
"Logan I don't need you to come out here and rescue me."
"I never implied you needed to be rescued."
"You do, Logan, you do it all the time. You treat me like I'm broken. I can't be a piece of fragile china that needs to be hovered over and put behind glass."
"Max, I don't" he is at a loss for words.
"You do, Logan. Look, I'm trying to be all reasonable-"
"Reasonable?!" He spits, emotion roaring suddenly, "You call leaving town without so much as a clue to where you've gone leaving the rest of us thinking the absolute worst reasonable?!"
"Don't fly of the handle, Logan," she says, her tone matching his, "I'm trying my best to explain to you and if you don't want to hear me out that's fine."
"What are you accusing me of?" He says, ignoring her previous remark.
"I'm not accusing, I'm pointing out-"
"That you left because of me."
"No, I did not leave because of you." Her voice drops, softens. "I left because of me. Because I can't deal with the concept of co-dependence okay? It scares me to think that I don't function properly when you're not around."
Her words close the seemingly bottomless chasm between them.
He feels relief first. Later, when he hangs up the phone, his limbs feel lighter. There is an infinite amount of solace in knowing his sentiments are requited.
They are hesitant at first; words too raw to be spoken cling in their throats. Their fingers brush and she starts to pull away. He smiles and she bows her head then resolutely closes her fingers into his hand.
They polish off a bottle of red wine on the couch, laughter bubbling and resonating down the hall. He tells her of his pre-pulse yacht, of country clubs and the antics of the rich and bored. She tells him of the rack of gold medals she accumulated in her first year of public school, of the bewilderment of the saggy teachers and the faces of her shocked peers.
"Cheater," he teases.
Candles replace lightbulbs and the conversation dims. She watches him watching her and feels nothing of the once heavy and oppressive weight. He is not demanding, not asking, just waiting. She thinks of the ocean, of the gentle waves lapping at the shore, of his gaze. He asks her to take him for a ride on her motorcycle and she smiles, but he is looking at her sideways.
His lips brush against the skin of her neck, her fingers grip handfuls of his shirt.
"I missed you," he whispers. She falls into his touch.
He will sleep soundly tonight, she knows. His breathing is deep and slow, his heart beats firmly against her own.