Disclaimer: Don't own them, don't profit from them. Just like to play with them.
A/N: Logan's thoughts during Meow.
How did things go so wrong again? Was I that badly mistaken about Max and her feelings for me? I thought I had it all planned. Last night was the anniversary of when we met. I remembered the date (How could I ever forget the day the most beautiful woman I've ever met literally dropped into my apartment and my life?) and she agreed to come over for dinner. Not just one of our usual dinners either. I made a point of reminding her that it was our "anniversary" and she agreed to come. I thought it was special to her too.
I had it all arranged. The perfect dinner, music playing, candlelight, and, at the end, my surprise for her. I got the exoskeleton working and I was going to stand and ask her to dance with me. I imagined her face looking up at me, surprise and happiness in her beautiful brown eyes. I imagined taking her in my arms and dancing with her held close against me. I imagined finishing the dance but continuing to hold her and leaning down and kissing her. I imagined telling her all the things I've wanted to tell her but have been afraid to. Charlie's words gave me the hope and courage to do it and in my heart I knew it was time.
I must have been wrong though. Wrong about her feelings for me. She's been acting strange the last few days. Maybe she sensed what was going on in my head and was trying to avoid confronting it. She's always said we were just friends and I guess she truly meant that. She's afraid of what I might say and how it would affect our friendship. I can understand that.
I've never seen her so jumpy as she was the other night in the car. It was like she was afraid I was going to make a pass at her or something. God knows I easily could have. Sitting there next to her, smelling that soap she uses, seeing her tangle of curls (the kind a guy just wants to plunge his hands into and play with), and looking at those lips of hers was tough. Reminded me of high school and going "parking" with the girl of the moment. The fogged up windows creating a little cocoon hidden from the rest of the world, the close quarters, the sense of being the only two people in the world…I was on the verge of forgetting our mission objective when I leaned over to look for my phone in the glove compartment and felt her legs beneath my arm. Max must have sensed it because she got out of there like a scalded cat. Good thing she did.
She cancelled the dinner plans. Called and said she couldn't make it. She was probably smart. If she only thinks of me as a friend it would be awkward to come to this romantic dinner and have to turn me down gently. It's better she stopped me before I made a fool of myself. I can live with what we have. I'd rather have her in my life as a friend than not at all. Maybe someday she'll feel differently about me. Until then….
Hearing a noise I wheel out into my hallway and see the rope dangling from the skylight. Looking around I spot her standing there in her black catsuit. I can't figure out what she's up to.
"Got your nights confused?" I throw at her. It comes out harsher than I intend from my effort to hide my hurt and disappointment. Why is she doing this to me?
"I broke in here around midnight the first time so I figure it's still our anniversary."her voice is hesitant, worried about her reception. I start to feel some faint stirring of hope.
"In that case I still have some cheap champagne in the refrigerator." I tell her. She nods and soon we are settled in the living room, me in my chair, she on the couch.
"About last night…" she starts. I don't want her to give me some awkward explanation so I cut her off.
"Doesn't matter." There, that should do it, back to our normal relationship. But something is different. Max isn't stopping.
"I owe you an explanation." She then proceeds to go into some tangled explanation of something Manticore did to her. I'm not getting it and she is getting embarrassed until she finally says "Cats. Mating cycles." Suddenly the light dawns. I didn't think I could be surprised by anything about her anymore but I am.
"You mean…Wow." I am literally speechless. Now her behavior of the last few days makes sense to me. "No big deal, you missed dinner." I tell her. There is a sudden silence and she turns away from me. My stomach drops and I feel sick. Her back is to me and she can't face me. Cats, mating cycles…I feel bitterness welling up inside of me. Why would she come here last night? She needed a man, a complete and whole man all macho and testosterone charged, not some cripple in a wheelchair. I am about to descend into my whirlpool of self-hate when I become aware that she is speaking.
Her voice is low and full of pain as she says "I should have stayed home but I went out and I ran into this guy.." she pauses and I fill in the blanks in my head. But then her voice breaks and she blurts out "I hate this part of me. I hate what Manticore put in me. It makes me feel that no matter what I do or where I go I can never get away from them."
Is she crying? I forget about myself. I can't stand to see Max cry. I rise and walk over to stand behind her. I touch her lightly and tell her.
"It's okay." Inadequate but I'm at a loss for words in the face of her emotions. Max turns and stares at me realizing I'm standing. I lift my cuff to show her the servomotor and smile at her wanting to make her feel better. "A present from our friend, Phil. I was going to surprise you last night. Kind of an anniversary present."
"I'm sorry," she says sadly, understanding in her eyes. She knows what last night meant to me, I can tell. I don't want to cause her any more sorrow or pain and so I rush to reassure her.
"You have nothing to be sorry for or ashamed of. I know who you are." I gaze into her eyes willing her to understand what I'm saying; to believe what I'm saying.
She starts to smile and I feel myself leaning towards her but there is a sudden grinding and the servo motor malfunctions. Before I can do anything I find myself on the floor. I manage to turn off the damn thing and drag myself to a sitting position. No wonder she didn't come here last night I think. Look at yourself.
"I'm sorry." I say to her. Sorry for I am what I am, sorry I can't be what you need, is what I'm thinking. But then a miracle happens. Max is on the floor next to me. Her eyes are locked on mine and she repeats my words of moments before back to me.
"You have nothing to be sorry for or ashamed of. It was never about you walking. At least not for me." I look into her beautiful brown eyes and I believe her. She really doesn't care about my walking, she cares about…me?
"Look at us." I manage, referring to the emotional idiots we both seem to be as well as to our ridiculous position sitting on the floor.
"Pathetic" she agrees smiling back at me.
"Hopeless," tossing the ball her way.
"Good thing we hooked up together." she says daring me to go on. I'm tired of this game though. We've played enough games this past year. Before my courage fails I lean forward and whisper "Happy Anniversary" just before I kiss her. When our lips touch I swear I feel a jolt all the way to my toes. She doesn't pull away so I lift my hands and run them over her face on the way to her hair. God the times I have wanted to run my hands through her hair. It feels like heavy silk and I love the feel of it tangled in my fingers. I am drowning in this kiss. My heart is pounding and a certain part of me is making itself known. Suddenly I remember what she said earlier about cats and mating cycles. I don't want to take advantage of Max's screwed up DNA. Much as I want her, I want it to be mutual not some hormonal insanity on her part. I pull back from the kiss and ask her,
"Maybe we should let this wait until you're yourself again?" I'll die if she says yes but if I don't ask I'll hate myself forever for being no better than that faceless stranger she met up with last night. Max looks at me for a moment, her eyes unreadable. Then they clear and I can't believe what I'm seeing there.
"This isn't Manticore," she pauses. "This is me." There is a world of emotions showing in her eyes as she pulls me back into the kiss. Passion is there and understanding and something more, something I'm afraid to put a name to. I stop thinking about that as I go under again. I am lost in her, lost as I've never been lost in a woman before in my life. I want to make love to her for the rest of my life. I want to bury myself in her and never emerge. I want to protect her and cherish her and keep her safe. Her mouth opens and our tongues meet. I pull her closer as I explore her mouth, learn her taste. As much as I give her she is giving back to me and we are both going under. I realize that at this moment neither one of us is capable of stopping and I don't give a damn. But then it comes. The bucket of cold water thrown over both of us.
"Did I come at a bad time?" The voice of her "brother" Zack. Does the guy have a surveillance setup on her? His timing is incredible. If I could I think I would kill him at this moment. Instead I settle for giving him a look. His eyes meet mine and he knows what I'm saying. I can almost feel the air crackling as we face each other with pure primitive male hostility.
The mood is shot so Max and I wait to hear why he is here. (Other than spoiling another night between us. I'm counting and Zack is definitely gonna pay one day.) Turns out he has news of Tinga and wants to go tonight to get her out. Max gives him a look and he has the decency to leave us alone. I know what she's going to say and I don't try to dissuade her. I met Charlie and Tinga too and I know what this means to Max.
I can't go along but I can try to make it a little safer for her. I open a drawer and pull out two COM units. I can probably hack into some spy satellite and do surveillance for them; the COMS will keep us in touch. It isn't enough for me but it's the best I can do. I offer her the COMS and our hands touch and for a moment cling.
"This can wait can't it?" Her eyes are anxious, I know she is thinking that we've been this close before only to back off. She's afraid that later I'll change my mind and deny what happened here tonight. Fat chance of that. Not this time. I smile at her reassuringly,
"We have all the time in the world." I want to say more but the time isn't right. She knows. I see it in her eyes and I think she sees it in mine. We'll finish this up, get her sister back and then will be the time to talk. Talk about us; talk about… love. My love for her and hers for me. I release her hand and get to work as she leaves to save her sister.