Disclaimer: I still don't own Dark Angel.
A/N: Monster apple-sized thanks to Shywr1ter for the thorough betaing, suggestions and letting me borrow from her Bling story'Still Waters' where he and Logan's bodyguard from the Pilot, Peter, were friends. All remaining mistakes are mine.
Once he told Logan to scream.
It was an early evening, chilly and wet outside and, coming from an afternoon of running errands all over the city, Bling felt himself relax in the dry warmth of the penthouse.
The apartment was quiet, the dim, sparse light adding to the atmosphere of calm, undisturbed concentration that was so characteristic of the many hours Eyes Only spent with dull research.
Finding the kitchen and the living room empty, Bling approached the office with careful steps, just in case Logan was just preparing another Eyes Only broadcast. And there he was, with his back to Bling, gazing up into the flickering lights of his little TV set, fingers tight around the remote control.
The monotone whirring of the video recorder was the only sound filling the room, letting Bling assume that the tape was a private one, maybe a happy memory of Logan with his parents, those two people of whom he hardly ever talked, of whom there wasn't a single photo anywhere in the penthouse. In the doorframe Bling stopped, not wanting to startle Logan from his complete oblivion of his surroundings.
Then, there on the screen Peter was hit by a staccato of bullets, collapsing onto the pavement – dead immediately as Bling had learned later from the medical reports, which coolly listed the damage done by the impacting metal. He had forced himself to read them, just as he had forced himself to go down to the mortuary and see the body of his friend, cold and still on the metal surface. He had needed the harsh confirmation that Peter's death wasn't just a TV show, that he really wouldn't come over tomorrow for their morning run, a good-tempered grin on his lips despite the early hour.
The instant he'd recognized the video, Bling had instinctively closed his eyes, reacting in
an subconscious attempt to block out those pictures. It didn't help. He didn't need to rewatch them, just seeing the beginning sequence had been enough for his brain to start an automatic replay of this sequence of death and terror. He didn't need the tape to relive that day. It had been in his dreams ever since he had seen the news report for the first time: Logan and Peter trying to run into safety while already the guns were aimed at them in inevitable precision, making Bling wish that he had been there to stop them, to throw himself in front of Peter, of Logan, to save Sophie from the trauma of being kidnapped.
But there was Peter going down and Sophie being pried forcefully from the deceiving safety of Logan's arms, leaving him helpless on the ground, his mind not yet able to grasp his new reality of pain and numbness.
For a moment Bling considered giving in to his sudden urge to be alone now, to just turn around and walk away as silently as he had come. But then there was Logan, seemingly unable to break the morbid fascination, reliving that moment over and over again.
Bling suspected that Logan dreamed about that day too, that Eyes Only's never ending work and responsibility wasn't the only motive keeping him up long past midnight or had him already at his computers early in the morning, looking like he had given up the idea of restful sleep in the middle of the night.
Bling could only guess why Logan had decided to drag those moments into broad daylight. Possibly he was trying to watch the tape so often that the pictures lost their cruel meaning and became a movie sequence like any other, as meaningless and impersonal as every other news report.
With Logan, however, Bling suspected it was some kind of punishment, a way of torturing himself with the day of his failure as if he'd deserved it. Whatever it was though, Bling couldn't just stand there and watch calmly how Peter's death was repeated over and over again. Taking a deep calming breath, he forced himself to move forward, another sharp stab of sadness reminding him that this was the past, gone and over. Peter was dead, Logan had survived and he was the one who quite obviously lived against his eternal mantra of 'I'm fine' right now. It was Logan who needed him now.
Finally feeling composed enough to start conversation without showing how much it affected him, Bling voiced his earlier thoughts with calm concern. "Most people watch home videos to remember the good times."
Logan's answer came, trance-like, in his morbid fascination not even averting his eyes from the screen to acknowledge the other man's presence. "It's like it happened to someone else...That is definitely me."
And even though having wished only moments ago that Logan had never gotten the video, something in his voice made Bling think that maybe this wasn't only the self-destroying act it seemed to be on first sight. Perhaps Logan was trying to grasp the immense changes which that day had brought, needed to see his old self once more to remind him, as painful as it was, that this part of his life was irrecoverably over. Maybe his inability to identify with the person on the screen signaled something like acceptance of his new reality, meant that he had moved on, leaving the traumatizing experience of the shooting behind.
Yet even with his new possibilities Bling couldn't help but question Logan's motives, fearing it might be too early for him to relieve those events without being pulled down. It was this sentiment that colored his voice with mild reproach. "Do you really need to put yourself through this?"
And for a moment their conversation seemed to be moving in the right direction as Logan's voice took a musing tone, still fixing the screen. "And the shooter was Bruno Anselmo."
Outwardly unfazed, Bling nevertheless felt a strange relief upon hearing Logan mentioning Anselmo's name, breaking the disinterested nonchalance Logan had displayed ever since learning that the man responsible for his paralysis was alive. As he sat down heavily in the desk chair, Bling thought that anything was better than this inappropriate placidity. That strange calm had been there ever since Anselmo had invaded Logan's privacy as if the shooting had never happened, without showing any sign of real regret expecting to be under Logan's private protection. "You're a better man than me. Sticking your neck out for the man who did this to you."
"We have a situation in the here and now. That's all that matters." Logan's voice had become neutral and distant, showing how he'd managed to label Bruno to be just another case.
Feeling that he'd lost whatever opportunity there had been to touch the taboo topics of the shooting and Eyes Only's self-neglecting altruism, Bling slightly changed his approach. "How'd you get this videotape, anyway?"
It wasn't so much the tape's origin in which Bling was interested, much more he wanted to know how much effort Logan had put into getting it, whether he'd actively searched for it or just stumbled upon it accidentally when researching something else.
Logan's answer came without thinking, carrying a disillusioned bitterness that was new. "Money. What else have I got?"
It was the first time Bling heard him refer to his privileged financial status not with a certain gratitude, but with the resigned bitterness of someone who had given up. Now seriously concerned, Bling took the remote control from Logan's hand, his voice intensifying in the hope to get through. "Man, you gotta scream a little or you're going to explode."
Screaming, a temper tantrum or even a little explosion, anything would be better than this tightly controlled nonchalance. But it wouldn't happen. Logan's answer was exactly the one Bling expected, dismissing the idea of personal revenge as ineffective for reaching the higher goal of saving the world. Retreating to the impersonal level of his alter ego, he lectured on the unimportance of Bruno's past actions, sounding as if he needed to convince himself as much as Bling.
Sometimes, Bling thought as Logan claimed the remote back with the coolly irritated voice of someone dismissing a younger sibling, he feared losing Logan to Eyes Only, the artificial identity still offering the control and validation that seemed to be impossible now as Logan Cale.
Bling could do nothing but stand up to leave, even though he just wanted to take Logan by the shoulders, drive him to the safe house and make him scream out all his pent-up anger and frustration at Bruno.
Standing in the door frame again, Bling looked back at his friend, sitting in the same position as before, just as if their conversation hadn't happened. Logan's expression was grimly blank, focused as if he could continue watching for hours, becoming more and more numb with every time Peter died anew, with each time he saw himself going down.
Calm, never screaming, never crying.
But who knew whether Logan didn't scream, didn't cry when he was alone at night, when there was nobody to witness his weakness...
xxxxxxxxx to be continued… xxxxxxx