A/N: Okay, yes, I know, it's totally unfair of me to start a new story when ALT isn't done yet. I agreee with you. I swore to myself I wasn't even going to write this until I finished the last chap on that, but this son of a B just kept pushing at the back of my brain and it would not leave me alone. I'm sorry, it was getting really annoying. If it makes you feel any better the final chap of At Least This is almost done (I swear).
Disclaimer: I own nothing but your soul! Mwhahahaha!
He wearily pushed through the entrance of the old building. The neon "Katie's Dinner" sign had shone through the night like a beacon and the disappointed traveler, along with his concerned personal trainer/guru had agreed that the shabby looking establishment would have to do. After a long day of chasing dead ends and begrudgingly admitting defeat, they were famished. And although Logan generally ate less then he had in the glory days when genetically engineered angels dropped in regularly demanding fine dining, the grumblings of his stomach had grown too loud to ignore.
His eyes stung a little as he took a minute to let them adjust to the harsh lighting. It was sickeningly bright inside. He damned florescent bulbs and lighting in general, and for a moment he pined for the comforting cover of darkness. Bling was talking to a skinny, older woman with a weathered face, short gray hair, and a pale yellow uniform (complete with a small apron), when his power of sight finally returned to him. The place was fairly deserted, but a few older men sat on stools at the counter. One was staring morosely at an empty beer bottle, while another was scrapping the last bit of what looked like cherry pie from his plate.
Patsy Cline's mournful voice sang out from an ancient looking radio at the end of the counter (next to the man with the pie).
Logan felt as if he had entered some sort of bizarre time warp. He had been sure places like "Katie's" didn't exist anymore, except in movies. Apparently, however, if one drove far enough to be disappointed one could find a surreal eating establishment from the fifties (or earlier, he honestly had no idea what time period this place belonged).
He sighed and followed Bling and the aged waitress to a table by the windows. The woman smiled at him as she grabbed a chair and pulled it out of the way so he could fit at the table. He smiled with gratitude as he rolled into place. A small, cracked name plate read "Maggie," and he wondered just how long Maggie had been pulling chairs out of the way for the handicapped.
"I'll go get you boys some coffee." He decided he loved Maggie.
He yawned and rubbed his eyes before gazing, unseeingly out a large dark window. Involuntarily his thought drifted to Max, and what she would think of such a place. He could picture her initial incredulous look, then her smirk of mischief (preceding a clever comment). What would she say? He never knew that part. He memorized her facial expressions long before she slipped out of his life forever, but the source of her witty rejoinders forever remained a mystery to him. He had never known what she was going to say next… but then he had preferred it that way, he always had something to look forward to… until she was gone.
He knew that he was one of the lucky few, that not many people had such blissful memories to comfort and torture them on rainy afternoons. He knew he should be grateful that he had at least at a few stolen pictures on his computer and the memory of her smile to get him out of bed in the morning. But still… he missed her…
He sighed and ran a hand over his face. She'd been gone from him longer than she had been with him. It had been almost a year since she pulled at his lips with her own and then ran up the steps into his family's cabin. He hadn't heard from her, hadn't found any reports on the net about black helicopters picking up fugitives in Canada, hadn't received any cryptic phone messages. She was gone. Safe, hopefully, but gone.
His gaze shifted to the table in front of him and he realized that there were no menus.
"Are we going to order?" he asked, confused.
"I already did."
"Oh," he replied tiredly. It had been a long year.
Bling had been a little surprised when Logan decided, with very little provocation, to stop their trek back to Seattle. Not often would the single minded Eyes Only condescend to acknowledge such a petty weakness as hunger. It usually took a battle (or at least a very stern lecture) to force his stubborn patient to pause his crusade long enough for a meal or some sleep.
He surveyed his charge with a concerned and clinical eye. It was clear that Logan was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. For the past month Logan had chased lead after lead, only to be led out to tiny dead end town in the middle of nowhere. The case was a typical unsolvable post-pulse sob story, the kind Logan had passed over in the past. However, these days Logan took on just about every case he could get his hands on. Broadcasts were occurring at an all time high. At least once a week (sometimes twice) the red, white and blue banner would take over all active television sets in Seattle and a worn but seemingly victorious Eyes Only would report the truth and save the day.
Good for Seattle, the American public, and justice in general. Not so good for Logan Cale. He barely slept, hardly ate, and only left the house to meet informants. The man was a machine… and was slowly killing himself.
He'd never really fully recovered from the near fatal, emergency surgery he'd endured nearly a year ago. He would have died had it not been for a nurse with the same blood type, who'd volunteered at the last minute to give a transfusion. Any normal person would have taken it easy after such an ordeal. But Logan hated hospitals, inactivity, and being forced to nothing but stare into space and think about her. So he had started working before he should have, and pushed himself harder than was healthy.
Add to all that a broken heart and Logan was pretty much a mess.
Not that he would ever acknowledge any of this to anyone, least of all he's most trusted friend. Logan was forever "fine" and refused to admit otherwise, but Bling knew better. Her absence had taken a severe toll on him. Bling had seen the occasional far-off looks, heard him mumble her name after falling asleep at the computer, and caught him staring at pictures of her he had gotten from the building's security cameras.
"It's ok to miss her." He'd told his friend after one such instance. He had been ignored.
"I'm fine. I was just-"
"Missing the woman you love." He was done playing along with Logan's games by this point. The time for subtlety was over as far as Bling was concerned. He's given the man space and he'd nearly destroyed himself.
"She wasn't… I mean, we weren't…" He'd stared at his computer screen for a moment. "We weren't like that, she was a friend, and yeah I miss her but it wasn't like…" he'd hit the table in frustration suddenly, surprising both Bling and himself, before a rare moment of honesty and clarity, "she wasn't here that long… she wasn't even here really… why does it feel like this, she was never… we weren't like that."
"Except you were. Both of you-"
"Well it doesn't matter anymore does it?" He'd yelled, "What we were, whatever it was, is over now. Done. I'm never going to see her again. She's gone…" the look of controlled despair, had tore at Bling and he'd felt an intense sense of sadness for his friend and all he had lost, all he had never had.
"Logan… You have to let yourself-"
"You know what, I have work to do. No prep talks today ok? Good."
And just like that the subject was closed. Bling would try to broach the subject every now and then, but Logan refused to ever discuss it again. He'd suffer in silence and save the world and that was that.
Logan ignored Bling's constant concerned gaze and glanced over to the door Maggie had disappeared behind. God, he wanted coffee. He wanted to be back in Seattle, back in his apartment, back in front of computer working on some new case that would actually have some result and impact, he wanted the comfort of his keyboard and his informants, and he wanted-
But then all thoughts of what he thought he wanted disappeared, because there she was.
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