Disclaimer: I don't own em'

Title: Cale Diaries

Author: a fan

Rating: PG

Episode Reference: AJBAC

1 Spoilers: All first season episodes

Fic Reference: Mourning

Feed back: Always welcome! Email me at afanofda@yahoo.com

Acknowledgements: To my awesome beta Zanna whose contributions go much further than finding my lost commas, of which I may add there are many. Zanna your insights are invaluable to me.

This acknowledgment has been up for a while, but it's as true now as it ever was. I would never have made it through this fic without Zanna's insights. She kept me true to my vision of Logan and never once let me get lazy. I'll never be able to repay the hundreds of hours she has put into this story.

Chapter 93 – April 2020 – Not Really Gone (AJBAC)

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April 2020

I thought I knew hurt. I thought I knew grief. I thought I knew what it felt like not to be able to move. I thought I knew what it felt like to be paralyzed by pain.

KIA, he said. We drove the twelve hours back to Seattle, the cold floor of the van easier to accept than even a hint of consciousness. For a few minutes, the floor stopped moving and rough hands stitched a wound at my temple. Then I was back on the moving floor, missing the piercing pain of the needle. Anything was better than remembering those words, KIA, and the look in his eyes. He wants her dead or in a cage. He doesn't care about her. He doesn't feel compassion. It's false sorrow. It can't be true.

The van door slammed, men were talking. "Destroyed the DNA database. Zack was wounded and captured." Then the words I couldn't bear to hear. "Max is dead." Reminding me that I was there. I saw her die. I saw the hole in her chest. I saw the blood pouring out of the wound, soaking us both.

"He has a concussion, wouldn't leave her." He flung me over his shoulder and dumped me in the car. Then his hand was on my shoulder and his face changed. I shouldn't have opened my eyes. I didn't need to see his face. I didn't need to see his eyes, confirming beyond a doubt what I didn't want to know. I closed my eyes again, but it was too late.

"I'm so sorry, son," he said. I couldn't move. Max was dead. Mercifully, oblivion reclaimed me. I wish it were that easy now.

A car door opened and closed, then footsteps and another door opened, letting in the familiar gas tinged odor of the parking lot.

"We're here," he said. Bling.

Strong arms began to pull me up, but a harsh voice stopped them.

"I can walk."

We walked to the elevator, rode it silently, unlocked the apartment door, and walked into the living room. I steady hand at my elbow led me to the sofa.

Then I sat.

The sun goes up. The sun goes down. The world is passing me by. I don't know how many days have gone by, but it doesn't matter. I'm not in the world anymore. I'm someplace in hell. Max is dead.

I remember watching sunsets and sunrises, thinking I had never seen so many colors in my life. But what did I care. They were all black. Sunrises have no meaning anymore. I hate the sun. I hate the new day when I am still in the nightmare of the previous night.

I didn't lie down. It hurt too much to lie down. I remember a full glass of water on the table. Looking at it for hours. I must have reached for it because the gut wrenching pain returned. Max was dead. I looked again and the glass was empty. Later, it was replaced by another glass. That one stayed full.

I must have slept. The sun glaring through the window forced me back into consciousness. I squeezed my eyes closed against the light that only intensified the throbbing in my head, but I didn't dare turn away from it. I didn't dare move. Eventually, the unyielding light forced me to raise my arm and shield my eyes. I discovered the caused of the throbbing, stitches at my temple, bringing everything back as sharp as a needle.

"She's gone."

Bling had cleaned the wound, but I could still feel the blood matted in my hair. I was lying in bed, covered by a blanket. He must have gotten sick of me sitting on the couch and moved me to my bed after I fell asleep. He'd left my chair beside the bed where I could easily reach it. Typical Bling thoughtfulness. Without the exo, he knew I would need it if I wanted to get up. He'd also left the exo propped up against the wall. And of course, he'd stripped off my filthy clothes. No way he would have put me to bed covered with dirt and blood.

I sat up with a start. The world spun into fast forward. I was in the chair and out of the bedroom in a minute. I found Bling at the kitchen table, his head in his hands.

"Bling, where are my clothes?" That harsh voice was back again. This time, it was filled with frantic urgency.

"Laundry hamper." Bling looked up. I didn't need to see his red swollen eyes. Don't cry in front of me. Don't grieve in front of me. I don't have room for grief. I can't begin to grieve.

Then I was in the bathroom, tossing the lid off the hamper and yanking out the bloodied heap of clothes.

I remember a man doubled over with grief, hugging a bloodied shirt to his chest, the blood darkened and dried, Max's blood. An indescribable ache resonated through his body and escaped involuntarily through his mouth. "Oh god oh god oh god." The man's friend placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, hoping to offer a little comfort. But there was no comfort. There was no possibility of comfort.

I turned to Bling and handed him the clothes.

"Please, don't wash them." That voice again. This time it was barely a whisper.

I looked at the clock. 11:00 am.

Get back in the routine. Focus on the details. Hope to somehow survive.

Take a shower. Transfer to the shower chair, strip off the shorts, roll into the shower and shut the door. Don't vary anything. Stick with the routine. Stay in auto-pilot. Don't make any decisions. Don't give yourself time to think.

I turned on the water and focused on the warm steady stream as it drummed onto my back. I watched the soap wash away the blood and grime and sweat. It pooled in small puddles by the drain, before pouring over the edge and into the pipes. I closed my eyes as I washed my hair, focusing on the feel of the shampoo as I worked it through my hair. Then I just sat there, letting the water pour over me, listening once more to its drumbeat. Eventually, I opened the shower door and reached for the towel that always hung on the hook just outside the door. I dried myself thoroughly, gave my hair a final toweling, then as I'd done a thousand times before, I finished by leaning forward and wrapping the towel around my waist. I pushed myself to the sink and pulled out my shaving kit. Might as well shave, it will fill some time. I changed the blades and adjusted the razor. I worked up a lather with an old fashioned brush Dad had given me even before I started shaving. I carefully shaved over a week's worth of growth from my face. Had it been over a week?

Don't ask.

Just wash the brush and razor and put them away. Rinse the sink. Watch the shavings wash down the drain. Dry your face. Brush your teeth. Spit. Floss. Follow up with mouthwash. Focus on the burning liquid. Drive it between your teeth. Rinse the sink again and use the facecloth to wipe away any residue. Toss all the towels in the hamper. Put everything away. Leave everything pristine, no traces of anything. Nothing to think about.

Then I just sat and stared at myself in the mirror.

Not good enough. Do it again.

Get back into the shower and start the water again. Wash faster, more aggressively. Scrub the last few days off your skin. Stay under the water longer. Get lost in the driving beat of the spray. Shave a second time. Brush again, take longer, be more thorough, feel every stroke. Floss again. Take another swig of mouthwash. Repeat the cleanup.

I wheeled back into the bedroom and slipped on a clean pair of shorts. I retrieved the exoskeleton from its post against the wall and strapped it on. I turned it on, then stood up and walked to the closet. I threw on a t- shirt and sweater. My skin felt raw under the clothes. This was good. It was something I could focus on. I found a pair of jeans and pulled them on, glad that they fit over the exo. Don't have to buy new pants. I checked the clock as I walked out of the bedroom. 1:00 pm. It took me two hours to get dressed. Two hours survived and an eternity to go.

I found Bling at the computer, checking for communication from Syl or Krit or even Lydecker.

"Nothing yet." Bling turned towards me. His eyes were still red. There were fresh tearstains on his cheeks, which he hadn't bothered to wipe away. He had been crying again.

"You hungry?"

Nothing affects me. Nothing can touch me. I see only what I want to see.

I walked into the kitchen and checked the supplies, bread, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes. I pulled out the loaf of bread and cut several slices. I found the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard and spread it on the bread. I sliced the cheese and the tomatoes, focusing on the rhythm of the knife on the cutting board. I tore off a few lettuce leaves and washed them in the sink. I assembled two sandwiches, placed them on plates, walked back over to Bling and handed him a plate.

We ate in silence.

I took the dishes back to the sink and washed them up. I put away the food and wiped down the counters. I rinsed out the dishcloth, wrung it out and folded it over a rack to dry. I dried the dishes and placed them back in the cupboard. 1:45pm.

I walked over to the window and stared down at the city below. Watch the traffic, count the cars. Don't think. An hour later, I walked into the bedroom and stripped down to my t-shirt and shorts. I left the exo on, walked back to the training room and picked up a couple of dumbbells to warm up with.

Bling and I don't really function as therapist and client any more. I know enough about fitness, and what my body can or can't do, that I can design any type of program that I want for myself. We still work out together, but more as training partners, working side by side, and occasionally spotting for one another. Yesterday, though, I didn't even bother to ask if he wanted to work out.

I started with the bench press, then moved through several exercises, military press, triceps kickbacks, lat pulldowns, and bicep curls, doing one set of fifteen reps each. I selected a heavier weight and completed another round of fifteen. With my muscles sufficiently warmed up, I doubled the weights and started a set of pyramids. Been focusing on muscular strength lately. I completed 10 reps of each exercise, then progressed up the pyramid, completing sets of 8, 6, and 4 reps, increasing the weight each time until I reached 100% of max for the final 2 reps. As I worked my way back down, I decreased the weights and increased the reps. I stopped for a drink of water, then started a second round. I could feel fatigue begin to affect my muscles, so I focused more intently on technique as I completed each repetition. Abs engaged, elbows slightly bent, posture relaxed, exhale on exertion and repeat. As I worked through a third set, I could feel my muscles shaking with exertion and my breathing get heavier. I stopped for some more water and started on a fourth round, pushing through each repetition and forcing my muscles to do the work. I counted out each set as I worked, focusing on the rhythm of the numbers in my head. By the end of the round, I was barely able to complete the reps. My heart was pounding and my breathing was labored. I drank some more water. I could feel my arms shaking as I reached for the water bottle, thinking I would be sore tomorrow. This was good, another thing to focus on. I waited a few minutes to allow my muscles to recover, then picked up the weights again. As I moved towards the bench to start a fifth round, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"That's enough." Bling's voice was quiet.

I looked at the clock again. 5:00 pm. I put down the weights and walked back into the bedroom. I sat in the chair, took off the exo, and headed to the bathroom for another shower. Six hours filled and an eternity to go.

I prepared dinner for Bling, grateful for the familiar routine of cooking, recipes, ingredients, preparation techniques. A thousand and one things to focus on. I set the table, pulling out the china, linens, silverware and crystal. A complete place setting takes longer to assemble and creates more dishes to clean. More to focus on. We sat down to eat once again.

"Logan?" My name pierced the silence of the apartment. I looked up to meet Bling's gaze.

"If you want to talk..." His tears had been replaced by an intense look of concern.

I nodded by head in acknowledgement of his offer, but I had nothing to say. There was nothing to talk about. I cleaned up the dishes and the kitchen, then returned to the window. I watched as the sun set and counted the lights as the city wound down for the night. There was nothing else to do. Max was dead.

At 2:00 am, I grabbed my keys, walked out the door, and drove to the Needle. Thirty minutes later, I pulled over at the front gate and climbed out of the car. I slipped through the hole in the chain link fence that Max and I had cut. She had never bothered to cut a hole in the fence before, but for me, she had brought a pair of wire cutters. The ends of the wire were still fresh, jagged, like an open wound.

I remember taking my first trip to the Needle when I was a kid, the overly cheerful tour guide rattling off interesting facts about Seattle's most famous landmark.

"At 605 feet in height, the Space Needle is a spectacular addition to Seattle's skyline. It was built in 1962 for the World's Fair. The observation deck is 520 feet high and has an amazing view of Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Cascade and Olympic mountains and, of course, downtown Seattle. The high speed elevators will get us to the observation deck in 45 seconds." I can still remember her words. I can also remember her next sentence, which left me frozen in terror.

"Are we ready to go up now?" She smiled as she pushed the elevator button. Our group enthusiastically filed into the elevator, everyone except for me that is. That was the only time that I openly defied what I knew my parents wanted. I didn't say anything. I just didn't move. And it was the only day that Dad didn't try to push or cajole me into overcoming my weaknesses. He took one look at me and handed our tickets back to the guide.

"We won't be going up today," he said simply. Then he took my hand and we walked away. It took me thirty-one years to make it to the top, but it doesn't matter any more.

The Needle was meant to be the symbol of the 21st Century, of a new more prosperous world. Its builders didn't understand a thing. The elevators stopped the day the Pulse hit and The Space Needle Corporation went bankrupt six months later. The prosperity is gone. Even the elevator boxes are missing. Someone probably claimed them to build a shelter somewhere. There is nothing left but a hollow shell. That is how I feel. Hollow.

I climbed the 848 steps to the top of the observation deck. I was grateful for the trip to the top, for the time it took, the work involved and the concentration it required. I was in no hurry. I had so much time to fill. I counted every step, one stair at a time, five stairs per flight, three flights per storey, fifty-two storeys in all. I didn't want to lose count. I didn't want to lose focus. I didn't want to give myself a second to think about anything but the stairs. At the top, I pushed open the roof maintenance hatch and climbed out onto the roof. I walked to the edge and casually peered down at the city below. When I watched Max do the exact same thing all those days ago, I could barely control the panic that welled up inside me, but now the height doesn't frighten me in the least. Every other fear diminishes when your greatest fear has already come to pass. Max was dead. The scar on my temple and my bloody clothes are a constant reminder of that fact. I was soaked in Max's blood, the blood that had streamed out of her chest and onto my shirt, my pants and my hands. She was dead. I knew it.

I sat down near the ledge, at the same spot where we sat together an eternity ago, and hugged my knees to my chest. Up there, none of this seemed real. It was more like a story I heard. Like it happened to someone else. I waited, looking for her, half expecting her to sit down beside me, to start talking about her family, about our plans to take down Manticore, about the future we would have. But she wasn't there. I shouldn't have gone there. I shouldn't have moved. It hurts so much to move.

I watched as the sleeping city below began to awake. The sky changed from black to navy to gray as the light began to come over the horizon. With the light came a stream of people heading to the downtown core. It began as a trickle, a few headlights here, a pedestrian there, then continued to grow into a river of people. When the sun was full in the sky, I stood up, climbed through the roof hatch and began the long walk down the stairs. I stopped at the halfway point to rest a few minutes, then got up and continued. I counted the steps to each landing. The numbers in my head accompanied each footfall as I worked my way down. I slid through the hole in the fence and climbed into the car to join the stream of people heading into the city. The drive home was slow as I worked my way through the morning traffic. I was just another cog in the wheels of the city, moving in slow motion, watching the world go by. When I got home, Bling had already made breakfast. I sat down to eat it, then went to bed for a few hours. One day survived and an eternity to go.

All day, I watched myself pretend to live. Get up, shower, get dressed, work out, eat, establish a routine, go through the motions, focus on the details, pretend to be engaged, get through the day. How do I survive an eternity without her? No matter how much I do or how much I focus on the trivial, I will never be able to get through all the days. I will never be able to fill all the minutes, all the seconds.

I remember a man holding a dead woman in his arms. A man crying from the depths of his soul, sobbing with a grief so intense that he thought he would die too.

Even though I know what happened, sometimes I can't help feeling that she's not really gone, that she's still out there.

And I just hope she's okay.



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A/N: Wow you made it to the end! I want to thank and congratulate every one of you that has stuck with this story. I have appreciated all your reviews, from the simple 'I liked it' that let me know you enjoyed a chapter to the in depth commentary that helped me see my own work with new eyes. I know how much effort it takes to review every chapter or even to leave a thoughtful review for one chapter and I truly thank you for it. Your feedback has definitely kept me writing through this long and often intense project.

If you haven't had a chance to review before, I'd really appreciate it if you dropped your initials in the box below just to let me know you made it to the end

A/N: Will there be a Season 2? Yes!

I'll be doing a collaboration with Zanna and Catherder. Hopefully between the three of us we'll be able to get the chapters out in a timely manner. Look for Season 2 in about a month. In the meantime I highly recommend Zanna and Catherder's fics. Here are the links to their profiles:

Zanna: http://www.fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=68087

Catherder: http://www.fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=108540