"The Gift of Darkness"
by pari106

Code: M/L
Rating: PG-13, just in case, for language.

Summary: At the hands of Lydeker, Logan undergoes a startling transformation. Is this "gift" a blessing?
Or a curse?

Author's Note: This takes place after "Meow" in an AU where Max was not captured. Continued from the

Chapter One

It had been a week since Lydeker and his men had taken Logan. Now Max sat where she had remained for
the last several hours: in Logan's wheel chair, next to the window, staring out at Seattle. They hadn't
bothered to take it with them when they'd grabbed him – the wheel chair, that is. Now Max sat there,
staring, wheeling back and forth just an inch, over and over, as if in a trance.

Bling and Zack were there in the room with her.

"The more I think about it…," Zack was saying. "I don't think Manticore was in this at all."

Bling was sitting on the couch and Zack was perched on the other edge of it. Bling had made it out of the
shoot-out with Manticore okay. Okay except for a cast around his arm and some nasty flesh wounds, but
he had made it out.

"Why do you say that?" he asked now.

"Well, Lydeker and Manticore aren't exactly friendly right now. And I bet the old man didn't even know
about Tinga."

"Now why do you say *that*?" Max suddenly asked, startling her companions. She hadn't been very
talkative since waking up back here, where Zack had taken her after Lydeker'd knocked her out. And her
tone was disbelieving, but Zack smiled. Happy, at least, that she was talking to him again. Not moping,
like usual, over wonderboy. He'd told her that Cale was trouble. Was she really surprised that the guy had
gotten himself caught? Hell, Zack would have been surprised if he hadn't.

"I watched that place a long time before we made our move. I never saw Lydeker there. Not once. That
lady they got running things over at Manticore was there an awful lot, though. And she and Lydeker aren't
friendly either. I think she's trying to get rid of him, and he's taken it upon himself to get back in the good
graces of his superiors."

"By capturing some guy off the street?" Bling asked.

And Max swore. "No. By capturing *Eyes Only* off the street. Damn it, they must have found out who
he is."

Zack just nodded.

"You think they've blown Logan's cover?" Bling asked.

And this time Zack laughed. "Don't sound so surprised. It wasn't like Cale had a great secret identity or
something. Everyone and their dog knows he's a cyber journalist. It was bound to happen. Hell, I'm just
surprised it didn't happen sooner."

Zack walked over to Max. "I told you you were risking yourself by staying here. Lydeker could have had
you that day. And all because some damned fool altruist in a wheel chair decided he wants to save the
world in his free time."


Max' blood began to boil. She didn't need this right now – Zack's criticisms. She didn't need it. She
needed Logan and, damn it, he wasn't here and she was feeling *really* not in the mood for Zack's shit.
She knew what her brother thought of Logan. The two had always clashed. Zack was moody and bitter
and Logan had never approved of his life on the streets. And as far as Zack was concerned, Logan was
arrogant and spoiled. Just some rich kid with a death wish. The informant net was a waste of time if you
asked Zack. And Max figured she wasn't the best person to defend Logan's work. Hadn't she felt the
same way when she'd first met Logan? Hadn't she told him often enough that he was crazy for doing the
things he did? Like turning in his uncle's business and losing the family fortune? But it wasn't a waste of
time. It was Logan's life. And it had become hers. He had believed in what he was doing and, somewhere
along the way, she had begun to believe in him, too.

Then Max' became even angrier at herself. 'What the fuck are you doing? Thinking in the past tense?
"He had believed…" What's that crap?' She took out her frustration on Zack

Or she would have. But Bling managed to get in the way.

"We have to destroy the files on the informant net," he was saying.


"Max, you know the order. If something happens to Logan, we destroy the files. Otherwise we put the
informants in danger of being found out, too."

"But we need the net. Logan's got a lot of people on the inside, right? Surely one of them can help us get
him out of there," Max said. "We're not going to let anything happen to Logan."

Bling sighed. They'd been through this before, when a smuggler'd grabbed Logan and Sung. As it turned
out, Max had been right then. Bling would have liked to believe that she was right now. But he wasn't
stupid. Logan hadn't just been his boss, he'd been a friend. And he hated to admit it, but Logan was gone.
They wouldn't be able to save him from himself this time.

"Something already has, Max," Bling told her. "You know the kind of shit Logan had going down. And
Lydeker knew he was helping the X5s. You think they'd have gone after him in the first place if they had
any intention of letting him live?"

"We're not destroying the files," Max insisted. And Bling didn't like the look on her face. He suddenly
realized he was in the middle of arguing with an X5. Who'd just lost her boyfriend. And who looked very
unhappy. That wasn't a good combination.

"We're going after him," Max said. Zack shook his head.


And then everyone stilled as the sound of a thump at the door suddenly reached their ears. Max tensed in
her seat.

"What the…"

But Zack silenced her. He pulled out a gun and Bling, taking his cue from the younger man, pulled one
from his back pocket with his good hand. They slowly began to approach the door. Logan hadn't had a
single caller since the abduction. They weren't expecting anyone and callers knock - they don't "thump".
It was better to be safe than sorry, they'd decided, and so the two men took up positions on either side of
the door, and Zack reached forward and pulled it open.

And then a body suddenly tumbled forward into his arms.


Bling automatically recognized the man, and helped Zack turn him over gently. His coat looked normal
enough, but beneath it his shirt was totally soaked with blood. There had to be at least six gun shot wounds
gaping in the man's side and stomach. And he was as pale as the floor tile on which he lay bleeding.

Zack had set aside his weapon, and was now feeling around for the guy's pulse.

"You know him?"

"Uh-huh," Bling stared down at the man, shocked. Jack Critchlow was in his late thirties; wiry with short,
curly brown hair. He was an engineer that Bling and Logan had met at a charity benefit about three years
ago. He was also an employee of Manticore who'd come to Logan with information for a case they'd been
working on at the time. And he'd been an informant ever since. Bling told Zack all of this.

"Well, he's no informant now." Zack said, giving up and sitting back. Distancing himself from the now
lifeless body between them. "He's dead."

Bling shook his head, cursing. He hadn't seen Jack in at least a year and a half. Logan had been trying to
keep him out of the action as much as possible. When his wife had died under mysterious circumstances
he'd become somewhat of a loose canon. And Logan hadn't wanted him getting himself or them into any
unnecessary trouble. Bling figured it was only a matter of time before that trouble caught up with them,
anyhow. But, still, why Critchlow would show up here, now, like this was a question he didn't have the
answer to.

Or so he thought. As it turned out, the answer was sitting right in front of them.

Zack and Bling were so intent on the body that had tumbled through the door that they hadn't yet bothered
to look out at the hallway from whence it had come. Max, however, did. And as soon as she did, she
gasped, drawing Zack and Bling's attentions. The two men were at her side in a moment. And then they
saw exactly what she saw: sitting there, slumped against the wall, unconscious, was…


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