Enlightenment pt. 3
disclaimer: as before
What does Bling say to Max and what happens next?
Previously on Enlightenment:
... Since everything seems to be weighing in her favor, I'm going to bet on Max. If she had wanted to hurt me she would have done it already ... She mentioned a neurochemical imbalance in her brain – wonder what that is and how she's managing. Maybe that's why she steals things; medicine can't be cheap. I'd better write down what I want to ask her. I feel less agitated now.
Bling jots a few notes down and then does some Tai Chi to settle himself before bedtime. Between Max's revelation and Maria's offer to spend the night, he was not his usual calm, cool and collected self. Logan would never let me live it down, he thought. And Maria - she is something else too . I would love to stay with her, I'm glad that she made the decision and I'm looking forward to making love with her, but tonight really wasn't the time. She deserves my full attention and that wasn't going to happen today. Bling made a mental note to plan another night for them ... and soon.
Max really couldn't control how she was raised, but she can and does control how she has lived her life since and she has done well considering she's had no guidance whatsoever. And she had to do all this while looking over her shoulder the whole time. It's a wonder she's made it as well as she has. Poor kid. Well I won't say that to her. To me, she's done an admirable job.
Enough about that for now. I'll talk to her tomorrow and figure out the rest.
Next day at Logan's apartment, Bling comes to do his workout.
"Hey Bling. There are cheese blintzes in the oven and the sauce is keeping warm on the double boiler if you're interested."
"Maybe after your workout. Thanks though."
"Well don't blame me if Max gets to them first and you don't get any."
"I'll risk it. I need to make sure you get done you're workout, else you'll stall and try to get out of it."
"Not me." Bling rolls his eyes and gets Logan going through his paces. Just as they are finishing up Max walks in.
"Hey kids, what's up?" She tosses her bag on the counter and grabs a pear from the bowl.
"Hey Max. We're almost done here. I made cheese blintzes if you want some while we finish up," Logan offers.
"I don't know what they are but I'll never turn down food from Chez Cale," she says with a smile.
"They're in the oven and the sauce for them is on the stove. If you can save one for Bling."
Max laughs. "I'm not making any promises, but I would hurry if I were you Bling." She goes into the kitchen.
Logan and Bling continue working when they hear an excited yell, "Cherry sauce! Definitely better hurry up in there". The guys laugh as they finish the workout, then Logan follows Bling into the kitchen to get a glass of water.
"Just in time – I hadn't got to the last two blintzes yet," Max said around a mouthful of food. "Want me to get you a plate?"
"Sure, Max. Appreciate it," Bling replies as he washes his hands. He takes the plate she offers and dishes up the blintzes and sauce, then sits with them at the table.
"So, is it time for the Inquisition?" Max asks dryly.
"I wouldn't call it that, Max," Bling replies gently. "I wanted to ask about your health first. You mentioned a neurochemical problem – how does it affect you? Are you alright?"
Max looks at Logan before answering. She was wondering how much to tell Bling; she's trying to cooperate but she doesn't want to freak him out more than necessary. Logan nods his head and she takes a deep breath before starting. "I have a serotonin deficiency which causes seizures. I take tryptophan to try to keep it under control, but sometimes I hit a rough spot when it doesn't help much and sometimes I can't get enough to keep the seizures under control."
"That can't be good, especially with driving a bike for a living."
"No; makes it harder to jump ten stories and land on my feet too, but I avoid that if I'm having a particularly bad time of it. Fortunately, that's not too often. It makes it hard to keep a low profile if it messes with my job or my roommate sees me."
"Does anyone besides us know any of this?"
Max shakes her head quickly. "Not even my roommate or my best friend. We met shortly after the Pulse, so it wasn't uncommon for people to play things close to the vest. We look out for each other and they will cover for me if I'm 'sick', but they don't know the details. I couldn't bear it if they were disgusted by me or worse, turned me in."
Bling pauses a moment, taking it all in. "Well, I can't think of a polite way to put this so I'm just going to put it out there. What did they do to you and what can you do?"
Max's eyes get big, and she inhales sharply. I guess blunt is easier to deal with. Now I just have to figure out what to say without totally creeping him out. "The folks at Manticore decided to build a better mousetrap, or soldier. They figured if they could take the genes for different specialized skill that were unique to different species, say, cats landing on their feet, or eagles sharp vision, or shark's not sleeping, and mix them with some superior human DNA, like Einstein's intelligence or Churchill's diplomacy , they could get a better human out of it. Or mostly human, as the case may be. The idea was that if they had a smarter, faster, stronger soldier, there would be less casualties. What they didn't count on was the fact that they weren't God. So they didn't make perfect creations. They didn't plan on side effects of not getting the gene sequences precisely right – they didn't think about the fact that sleeping is when your body regulates a lot of things, like serotonin production, or that while landing on your feet may be a plus, there are other quirks about cats that you may not want reproduced – who needs a soldier cleaning himself when there is a battle going on?" No need to tell him about heat yet.
(totally OT, but did anyone notice that in the first heat episode, when M is in the bar she is kinda panting over every male there, but when she gets to the PH with B and L she is only focused on L?)
"Fortunately that was fixed before they were going to inflict us on the world. Didn't want to draw more attention to the secret ops than needed. Anyway, I can run really fast, jump extremely high and still land on my feet, I have superior vision and hearing, am stronger than most men, and I have a high pain threshold. I also have superior brain function: memory, reaction times and coordination, reflexes, learning and communication skills. I'm a real hoot at parties," she finished wryly.
A lot of things were going on in Bling's mind, most of them unable to be voiced in mixed company. Inhuman monsters – the creators, not the kids. No wonder she always has that tense, guarded look most of the time. She probably has some extremely heinous people after her.
Looking at both Max and Logan, Bling asked, "Are we taking enough precautions for everyone's safety? Ourselves, the other informants, our families? I don't mean to sound selfish, but I have my family and Maria to be concerned about."
Max looked at Logan and Bling noticed the frown that crossed her face. "That's one thing I can't control or figure out. I worry about my friends, but so far nothing has happened. I take every precaution possible, and take care to avoid the other operatives to limit their exposure. But nothing is 100 safe."
"Continue to take the usual precautions, especially when dealing with your family and Maria," Logan added. "I'll be cautious on my end as well, but I don't think that it will be any more dangerous with Max than it already was before. One plus about Max's background is that she is very highly trained, which makes her an asset to us, and the people hunting her trained her so she knows how they think and work, so she can protect herself and us."
"Plus, if it were to get really hot around here, I would just leave for parts unknown. That's the other reason why I haven't let my friends in on this – if someone were to ask them they truthfully don't know the answers; the government is big on plausible deniability."
Logan wasn't too happy to hear about Max's plans to run even though he could understand why. I guess the mature thing to do would be to help her and make it easier and safer for her. I could at least give her some emergency money and some addresses to safe houses and some convincing papers in case she wanted to go to Canada or Mexico. Logan was relieved that Bling seemed to be okay with what he had learned about Max. I hope Max feels relieved. Bling is a great man. "Bling, I would also add that you may want to be prepared to evacuate if the need arises, you and Maria both. I can get an ID and papers made for her as well."
"I appreciate it man," Bling replies. "I will only tell her the minimum about my involvement in Eyes Only and I won't tell her about you, Max. Unless you want me to some time later. She worked as an EMT to put herself through midwife training so she could be helpful in a crisis."
"Let's hold off for now – I've done enough exposing my soul for one week." Max perched on the chair with her feet in the seat. She felt completely whipped; physical combat was way easier than the emotional. At least Bling took it well; I didn't get 'the look' and he seems okay so far. I wish I could figure out something for him and Maria. Maybe I'll 'visit' the gourmet shop after hours - someone should get to have some fun; after all 'we don't have that kind of relationship'. Every other straight, unattached [and frankly even some that are attached male takes notice when I'm around, but this one, unless it's EO business – nothing. I hope Maria and Bling appreciate one another.
"Max?" Logan is looking at her expectantly, apparently waiting for a reply.
Fine time to ignore the parallel processing. He said something about new ID? "I'm sorry I zoned out a minute - could you repeat please?"
"I said did you want me to have new ID made for you when I get the papers for Bling?"
"Sure thing. Thanks for thinking of it. I'm gonna jet now, but I can pick up the papers tomorrow or whenever they are ready."
"I'll page you, " Logan calls as she heads for the door.
Bling was still in the kitchen, finishing his coffee. Logan notes the thoughtful look on his face. "What's on your mind Bling?"
"Just processing," Bling replies. "I don't know why I'm surprised at what the government does behind the people's back. But it is hard to believe that they would create them and then torture and try to kill them, if only for the financial investment alone. It's also amazing that they didn't fight back. The kids were way stronger than their trainers."
"The advantage the government had was that the kids didn't know what was out there and didn't know what they were missing. If Max hadn't gotten sick and the others become worried about her safety, they would probably still be there. In a way Manticore caused it; if they hadn't drilled into them that they were brothers and sisters and to look out for each other, they might not have escaped."
"Very ironic." Bling walks to the foyer and grabs his duffel bag. "I'm gonna head out man. I'll see you tomorrow."
"See you Bling."
When Bling reaches his car, he notices what looks like a large bag on his hood from a distance. When he gets closer, he sees that it is a wrapped basket filled with very expensive gourmet foods. He read the attached note "Take your girl on a picnic. M" He got a big smile on his face. I guess this means I'll be planning that evening with Maria sooner than I thought. Bling dials his cell phone. "May I speak with Maria Cabrera please? Yes I'll hold."
"Maria Cabrera speaking."
Maria gets a big grin on her face when she hears Bling's voice. "Hey Handsome. How's it going? Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, I'm better."
"Glad to hear it. I hate to rush you but I have a baby due anytime – did you call for a reason or did you just want to say 'Hey'?"
"I had a reason. Are you free after work?"
"Absolutely. What's the plan?"
"Dress for a picnic."
"Are you forgetting where we live Babe? Are you providing an Ark or some other rain-proof shelter?"
"Trust me Precious, you will be fine. The only place you will get wet is my shower, if you so desire." Bling hears Maria gasp. "Plan for overnight, please. You can have my room and I'll take the den." He didn't want to pressure her.
"... I wouldn't put you out of your room ... we could share ..."
God I love this woman. "We'll play it by ear – you don't need to decide now. Love you Precious."
"Love you too Bling. I'll see you tonight."
Things are definitely better.
A/N: Sorry for the delay – a bit harder to get a reliable Internet connection now that I'm in the Last Frontier. If you enjoyed, review; if you didn't, lie to me :-)