They sat facing one another, squaring off. Between them sat the geometrics of the chess board over which their arms and hands occasionally swept in graceful arcs. There were rules and boundaries and Logan felt safe.
"So, Max." Logan placed his bishop in challenge to Max's queen: take my clergy I'll take your crown.
"You and Cindy seemed to be having a pretty heated discussion when I-"
Max was contemplating the as yet untouched can of cream in Logan's fridge and puzzling over the Valentine's card stuffed in her jacket pocket. She felt confused and not a little frustrated. Action had to be taken.
"Yes?" Figuring Max was going to pre-empt his question or tell him to drop it, he let her interrupt.
"Logan, we're friends right? I mean, we're close and everything?"
"Er, yes." How did she always manage to perplex him so easily? He cleared his throat. "Yes, of course."
"But it's special, right? I mean, you don't have loads of other women hanging out in your apartment at all hours of the night and day. Do you?" Max tried not to cringe; desperation seemed to have smothered any hint of rhetoric in her voice.
"Wha-? Max! No. I-" Logan felt like a cartoon character, paused mid-air as the ground is suddenly rubbed out beneath his feet.
"So if there was something to celebrate like a special day we'd most likely do that with each other. Together. As friends. Right?"
"I mean, no need for it to be anything more or less than two friends hanging out. And no need for lengthy analyses into what it means or doesn't mean or could mean. It could just be simple, right? An unspoken agreement?"
"What are you talking about Max?"
"You Logan. And me. And," not knowing how to continue that sentence without actually saying the V-word, Max floundered and sighed. Suddenly she was very keen to change topics. "What were you saying before?"
Logan was officially lost. She was talking about their relationship? About him and her and… and what he was saying before… what he had heard her saying to Cindy? His jaw dropped open. Was Max trying to tell him that she l-
Logan sat dumbfounded, feeling as though he was loosing his grip on his emotions and the conversation and everything he had convinced himself was impossible, his hands gripped his wheels, knuckles turning white.
"Logan…" The spaced-out look did not suit Logan Cale.
"You mean you," he couldn't say it, he couldn't breathe "what I heard- what you said- do you-"
"Logan! What are you mumbling about?"
"Yes, 'what' Logan. What were you talking about?"
"About? I uh, I was talking about what you said. To Original Cindy. In Jam Pony."
"Oh. That." Uh-oh. Max bit her lip and shrugged. Out of the frying pan (of her own making) into the fire (also of her own making). "Well I was talking about something else."
"What were you talking about?" Logan could feel his heart beating as though he had just been on a run.
"Our friendship, you know, and unspoken agreements." Logan still looked puzzled and slightly flushed. "How great it is that we don't need to ask each other a whole bunch of questions about stuff all the time. We can just… be. Sign of true friendship, comfortable silence."
"Oh." Logan felt flummoxed as Max calmly reached over the board and moved her Queen. An evil grin shot towards him.
The red numbers of the alarm clock glared angrily at Max. She sighed. It was no good. She couldn't sleep and she had no idea what to do with Logan for Valentine's Day. Or rather she had plenty of ideas of what to do with Logan or to Logan or for Logan just no idea if he wanted to do them with her. Focus Max! Get your mind out of bed with Logan and concentrate. Valentine's Day. A celebration of friendship.
Not thinking about Logan, not thinking about Logan. She ran her hands along the cool sheets beside her. Cool sheets. They felt a little bobbly. There was a hole further along as well. Maybe she should try to find some new sheets. Maybe she'd luck out and find some new, smooth cotton sheets. Or silk. Silk sheets would be nice.
Of course, if Logan has silk sheets on his bed he may not want whipped cream near them. Max contemplated this future complication before cursing herself. She sprung from her bed muttering, "stupid trying to sleep when I don't sleep and have better things to be doing than thinking about linen and stupid, obtuse men." Quickly dressing she glided through the apartment to her bike. With a quick caress to the sleek black body she kicked back the stand and wheeled her baby out to the elevator.
He could hear banging. It sounded like someone at his front door. A delivery man maybe, which seemed odd to him. Delivery men still knocked on doors didn't they? Or delivery-women. Delivery-people, he supposed. They still knocked on doors anyway, so why was it odd that one was one knocking on his door? When the knocking stopped and the door opened he remembered. He lived in a penthouse. With doormen and mailboxes downstairs in the lobby. So who was-
"Logan. Logan!" Oh. Max. Of course. Well, she was a delivery person. He had barely enough time to sit up in his bed when she appeared at his bedroom door.
"Max?" Through sleep bleary, unfocused eyes, she looked beautiful. An impressionist's vision of beauty standing at his bedroom door. Beautiful.
"Max." He blinked owlishly and she moved towards the bed, handing him his glasses.
"Do you know what day tomorrow is Logan?" Conditioned through years of male:female interaction, Logan's brain became frantic.
"Tomorrow. Tomorrow is our… anniversary?" Max shook her head and Logan rubbed his fingers across his stubble. "My birthday? No. Sorry. Late night. Your birthday? You should have told me what day you picked Max." At Max's insistent head shaking he tried again. "Um… it's February… the… the… thirteen, fourteenth… oh!" Logan managed to extend the exclamation over several long seconds as realisation dawned. Growing impatient at his gormless expression Max jumped in.
"It's Valentine's Day Logan and having been lectured by both Original Cindy and Bling on the matter, who by the way has a 'very special' lady friend called Maria who adores chocolate so you should show him how to make that delicious chocolate thingy you made for me last week, anyway having been educated by both of them in the finer subtleties of what St Valentine's day should mean and can mean and having never done this before I was thinking that if you're not doing anything tomorrow night maybewecouldperhapsspendittogetherifyouwant."
Max was looking at him with such anticipation and hope and vulnerability Logan felt himself freeze. She can't be asking an old, self-involved paraplegic to spend Valentine's night with her, can she?
"Um," he cringed at his own ineptitude. He could have sworn he used to be suave and dashing. Was it Max making his brain stutter or was it one more thing damaged by the bullet?
"If you got plans that's cool. I was just wondering…" Max's voice fell away as much from the embarrassment of rejection as the embarrassment of just what exactly she had been wondering about Logan recently.
"No! I mean, no. I don't have any plans. You," Logan licked his lips and swallowed, "you want to spend Valentine's night with me?"
The night. She wanted to spend Valentine's night with him. Logan's mind couldn't compute the possibilities and began to run in safe mode. Valentine's Day meant roses, red roses. He needed red roses. His whole mind focused in on the thorny flower. How difficult was it to get red roses in post-pulse Seattle? When was the last time he had bought red roses? More to the point, did Max even want red roses? What was he thinking! Definitely Max messing with his brain, not the bullet. He didn't know whether to sigh with relief or frustration.
"Yeah. Okay. Good. Are you sure?" She must have tons of better things to do on Friday night.
"Would I have asked you if I wasn't sure?" Max felt slightly irritated. What was up with him today? She melted a bit though, taking in Logan's fluffy, tousled hair and the sheet pulled up high over his naked chest. The bewilderment clear on his face. His face just above his naked chest. "I haven't figured out what we should do yet but-
"Leave that up to me."
"Really?" Max's unruly mind flittered to the second shelf in his fridge to pick up the can of whipped cream and returned to the four inches of flesh peeking above the bedcovers.
"Yeah. It's the least I can do considering I didn't even realise what the date was and," Logan realised he was acting like a guiltily forgetful boyfriend. What was his role here? "Well, you asked me so I, I'll, I don't mind organising the evening." What was he letting himself in for? He didn't even know to what extent they were celebrating Valentine's Day. "Any ideas on what we should do?" His eyes settled onto Max as she slowly licked her lips, staring someway below Logan's eyes.
"Oh I have some ideas." No one ever said Max wasn't a focused girl. "About Valentine's night, of course. I mean on what we can do. Together. Dinner?"
"We always have dinner." Maybe that's all she wanted? Maybe this isn't such a big thing for her.
"Right." Breath Max, breath. "Shall we go out?"
"Yeah, to a restaurant or bowling or something."
"Out." Logan's mind was whirring with ideas. His lips formed into a wide smile as a plan formulated in his head. "Right, out." He grinned, his fingers itching to get to the keyboard and make arrangements, to check his e-mails and ensure everything was ship-tight so he could focus on Friday night.
"So." Max couldn't help but be excited by Logan's sudden enthusiasm.
"Yeah. Dinner tonight?" (Logan).
"Right. Later." (Logan).
Max sat still for a moment smiling at Logan smiling at her. Then she rose slowly from his bed and walked out of the room. Once outside his room she felt her legs tremble slightly and her stomach whoop. As she had risen from the bed her senses kicked in and realisation had suddenly hit her. She was sitting on Logan's bed. While Logan was in it, very much not wearing a shirt. And possibly not wearing a whole host of other clothing items. But best of all - he had cotton sheets.