Ramblings from me: Hmm, I suppose I should start off with 'Bah Humbug.' I started one story about a month before Christmas, then I started this a few days before Christmas. Then they both just decided to hate me (actually I think that's a theme behind all my stories). So I decided to post this for now, it's half-finished and will either get a longer ending (if you guys like it) or a briefer one (if you don't). If I don't post it then it'll never be finished and I will never be able to read Mari and Shy's xmas stories (I've realized since Logan's bday I simply cannot read other stories before I post my own bc then I talk myself out of my stories bc they're simply unnecessary…I'm odd I'm aware…And I did read the end of Shy's story and really want to read the rest…Once more I'm odd, I read the big stuff first and then go back).

And everyone stopped reading three lines in, so I'm shutting up. Here's part one, hope you don't hate (and yea no I'm never doing a cheesy holiday story…Just wouldn't be me :-P).

Probably the only thing you need to read: Hope the back and forth motion of the story isn't confusing or if it is and you want to tell me how I should fix it, feel free to. "This is present" and 'this is past' if you need/want italics, let me know. The opening scene is the scene they're in, everything else is Max remembering.

Thanks for reading.


Deliverance

He watched from the porch as she pulled up.

Watched with crossed arms.

Crossed plaid flannel arms.

First Eyes Only had gone softly into that good night, if that wasn't as unexpected as could be, turned out it could be trumped by that 'good night' involving plaid.

He had gone softly; she had gone in the middle of a screaming match.

Over two years after the virus had taken its ugly hold. Over a year since his identity had been out-ed to more than a few. Less than three months after they'd taken out the threat of the Familiars.

All of that and no cure.

And then suddenly as everything else started to resolve, they started to remember that ugly fact. Before it had just been a nagging thought in the back of their minds, put off by more pressing matters, but that was no longer the case.

Tensions flared.

Arguments abounded as they were left with nothing else to distract their focus.

There was a desperation that started to accompany their actions. Logan started looking into riskier possible cures. Started pushing the limit with what they could get away with on a daily basis.

She couldn't even remember the specifics of their last fight.

There had been talk of trying to make a vaccine from her blood, of exposing Logan to it through her weakened cells. The data was still inconclusive and they'd been offered no guarantees it wouldn't kill him. Nothing to tell them that the virus wouldn't somehow adapt and make it so not even Joshua's blood would save him.

She remembered how his hand felt attached to her arm as she'd gone to storm out when he stopped listening to reason.

She remembered the long look down. The black glove around the bare skin. She remembered looking up and seeing the hard look in his eyes, unwavering in his determination.

Her arm yanked free, but his expression remained the same.

Her head shook, 'I'm done,' was all she said before she swiftly moved for the door.

He'd called her name, but he hadn't gone chasing after her.

They'd fought before, she always came back or he always found her, hidden away in Terminal City, being consoled at Original Cindy's, off with Alec ignoring jibes and drinking enough to try to forget her name and especially his…

She kept riding that day though.

By that night her beeper had filled.

A call had been placed late that night to Original Cindy as she told her best friend she just needed some space.

She expected to turn around that next day, when that passed she knew she'd head back tomorrow.

And then it was next week.

And then another.

Her pager was lost in a bar fight with some stupid chicken heads thinking she was going after their men.

It was easier to forget going back without the constant vibrations against her hip.

Still though, she was going back.

There just always seemed to be a reason to put it off another day.

She picked up the phone for last Christmas, finally after long months away.

Cindy had informed her Logan had just bailed.

Told everyone he was going and was packed up in a matter of days.

Eyes Only didn't just pack up.

Eyes Only didn't sneak off in the middle of the night, though according to Original Cindy it was more likely at first light.

Eyes Only went out in a blaze of glory.

At least that's what had always kept her up at nights, well that and her screwy DNA.

Eyes Only certainly didn't retreat to a sleepy island along the frigid coast of Maine. From protecting a city with over a half a million to a reclusive author in a town of less than a thousand.

She'd only learned that though in the past week, a short story tucked deep in a magazine, a different name, but she knew his words, his style. The first sign that he was still out there.

From December to May she kept telling herself that she was glad he moved on. She tried to imagine him living some happy little white picket fence life. Imagine him dating, falling in love again, getting married...

It turned her stomach every time.

In June she started to worry. No one had heard from him, even Sebastian and Bling informed her he'd said his good-byes and told them it was time to move on.

No one specifically on his tail, no new death threats, not even a crisis arisen somewhere else in the country for him to tend to.

The brief conversation she had over the phone with a sympathetic Bling informed her of his final words as he'd been asked about Eyes Only, 'He lived his life years longer than should have been possible, I think maybe Logan Cale deserves a chance.' There was a bitter laugh, Bling told her before Logan went on, 'That is once I figure out who he is.'

She'd sat down and wondered about that for awhile. She sat down and realized he had spent his entire adult life living it for others. From the day the Pulse hit and he was pulling people out of wrecked cars as he made his way home, to the months that followed handing out water and supplies.

He had been ripped from childhood and thrust into adulthood and there he remained living only to serve others. The person he originally would have been changed that day.

Occasionally she had wondered about herself, tried to let herself imagine who she would have been if she had been created the old-fashioned way. Would it really have been soccer practice and swimming lessons?

Would she have been able to handle a job where she had to sit still?

She always meant to live a life that wasn't a reaction to Manticore, she always began that way. Each city there had been a new something. A new job, a new boyfriend, something that would make her feel 'normal' for a brief second and then the realization of how screwed up she was because she couldn't be happy, she couldn't make it last.

She had really believed though...

Really believed as they sat on the floor together for just seconds before Zack dropped in. She believed it when she busted in on the party with ultimate crasher in Lydecker and saw the relief, joy and love on his face. Dying in his arms, she realized she'd been foolish believing it could ever happen for her at the same time realizing that she was the only one to blame, not Manticore, all those years hating them and it had been her.

When she saw him again, she swore she'd be different, but she did the opposite.

She'd run to him, then run away, run to him, then run away again until finally she ran farther than he could find her.

For over a month she swore she'd respect his wishes to figure out who he was and let him be.

Then she started to think about him with someone else, forever.

Someone else being the person who finally got him to open up, someone else to listen to his dreams, someone else to plan his future with and suddenly that little ol' virus didn't seem like that big of a deal.

Tracking down the man behind Eyes Only was a feat though. She hit dead end after dead end. Sometimes she'd stop and decide it was a sign, but then she'd remember, she'd remember everything, and try again.

He still filled his taxes, but no permanent address…

She'd run down every contact she could come up with, scoured every major city for a sign of him and then one day she was in San Diego watching the sail boats in Mission Bay and smiled remembering Jonas' yacht running aground that infamous June day.

She started to remember him telling her of how they were supposed to be on vacation, it was supposed to be his final summer vacation with his parents before he set off into the adult world.

His father had a business emergency, so they pushed it back rather than go on without him. He'd gone on about how he couldn't imagine what they would have gone through on the opposite side of the coast on a small island, just starting to bustle with summer tourists. Then he'd smiled, 'Hell knowing my father he would have sailed us down to somewhere in the Caribbean before heading back up to Seattle on his own.'

She didn't know why, just the thought of it stuck in her head.

That had been the next step for 'Logan Cale.' Logan Cale, when he was only Logan Cale, a boy becoming a man and nothing else.

She remembered Maine on her own and crossed the country in just under a week, an accomplishment considering all the detours and checkpoints she had to make her way through and riding at night tended to bring a little more attention than she wanted, so she skipped it. It took her hours sitting in a cheap motel room in Illinois staring at various maps she'd picked up as she traveled east to convince herself that Islesboro was the little island she was looking for. 2 miles across and 14 miles long and of course only accessible by air or sea, it was the best chance she had of finding him.

Of course in Camden, Maine she had wished for skis instead of her baby as she skidded off the road after not having the common sense to stop when it began to snow.

So close yet so far. She thought sitting on the side of the road as the snow continued to fall all around her and judging by the snow she was sitting on, it fell rather regularly, since her pile was nearly knee high.

She had been about to scream up to the heaven's, to the blue lady, who was probably laughing her ass off, that she gave up, they were right, everything that could go wrong between her and Logan had and she was done with it.

Then a pickup pulled up. Told her she was close to Lincolnville, where she'd catch the ferry and that he was heading that way and would drop her and her bike off. She started to believe again, until of course he told her the ferry ran four times a day and she had missed it. He dropped her off at a motel close by and with a laugh told her she should probably just put her bike in storage until April.

The people at the terminal the next morning had given her a few odd looks, but didn't bother harassing her too in depth about her plans while in Islesboro, after all who would be stupid enough to think a small town in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by water in the dead of winter was a smart place to be.

She limped her way onto the ferry with her bike before collapsing into a seat for the short ride.

She realized just how exhausted she was once she made her way off and into a new terminal, deciding the most logical thing to do was figure out a game plan for her bike since her ankle and the roads pretty much guaranteed she wouldn't be making it anywhere on it.

There were a couple of people engaged in conversation and she decided to be patient and wait, all while keeping a watchful eye on her bike now abandoned outdoors. A wall of pictures caught her eye, immediately recognizing more than a few as actors from late in the last century and early in this one. Their 'Wall of Fame' she was guessing, slightly more impressive than the ones she'd previously seen at pizzerias.

The eyes that had originally been focused on the guy from the talking baby movie traveled through a few more famous faces and then some more familiar ones. Familiar from only one picture though, tucked nearly out of sight in Logan's old living room. His parents and his youthful face, nine or ten she was guessing from his height. She started to realize the other faces she hadn't been able to recognize probably meant they had been successful in fields other than acting, unless Logan had been keeping other information hidden from her.

Marjorie part owner in the business made her way towards the young girl with an apprehensive look. They'd radioed ahead about her and her bike and she saw now why they were worried, she wasn't your everyday traveler, hell she didn't know how the young girl wasn't shivering right out, especially since she'd unzipped her leather jacket upon entering the building, exposing a lightweight shirt underneath.

Then as she grew closer and realized the girl was lost in the picture she noticed she wasn't staring longingly at any of the celebrities that people arrived hoping to encounter, many of whom had given plenty to keep this place running after the Pulse and restore it to its former idyllic glory. There was a small smile on her face too as she focused. Interesting, Marjorie thought to herself.

'You might be more interested in the town bulletin board,' the older woman said startling the girl.

The girl's head tilted and she stared at Marjorie for a moment before daring to open her mouth in a whisper, 'Is he here?' She realized now that if Logan truly was here then there would be no new identity to take care of, she realized now that this had been a vacation home, not a one time never happened trip, he'd left Seattle seeking comfort, seeking familiar things, he'd been looking for Logan Cale, not a stranger.

'All depends sweetheart, who you looking for?'

Her face fell as she realized it was for naught. She'd lost him for good because of five seconds of anger. Her eyes closed as tears were about to fall. 'So he's not,' was all she could say.

'Well hun, that all depends on who you're talking about, because Johnny boy hasn't been here in years, don't get me wrong though, he still loves this little island, he's helped us out on more than a few occasions, and more than a few on that wall are dead-'

The girl's eyes snapped open, ' Logan,' she asked, 'is Logan here?'

' Logan…?' Marjorie's head bobbed aimlessness.

'Is that a yes?' the girl's eyes darkened and focused in on her.

'We may be small, but we're not that small. Got at least three Logan's here, maybe more I've got to be honest at 607 people, I lose a few names.'

'Maybe you should take his picture off your wall if you can't take the time to know his name,' she snapped.

'I see two Logan's on that wall,' Marjorie returned the attitude.

Her eyes closed again and she let out the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding in, 'He's here,' she said as she found herself believing again.

'Actually I didn't say that.'

Max's eyes opened and she gave the woman a disbelieving look, but without her earlier attitude, she was so close, he was here. 'Yea well considering one's been in the family mausoleum for the past eight years.'

Marjorie's interest was beyond piqued at this point, 'And how do you know Logan?'

'We're…' her head shook, 'we were…' her eyes closed, 'we had a fight,' she said in a low incredulous voice, an everyday common fight.

'He's been here for almost a year.'

Her eyes opened to reveal a soft brown, 'And I was gone months before that…I didn't mean for it, for this…' her head shook some more. 'I still don't know what happened,' she said with a trembling voice.

Marjorie's heart, which moments before had been hard, instantly softened, 'Sometimes it happens like that.'

Max's eyes rolled up, diverting her gaze trying to hide the pain.

'Gonna break more than a few of the girls' hearts and a few of the boys had been starting to get their hopes up.'

The girl's eyes lowered to give the other woman an disbelieving look.

'A single man that looks like that and a year of no dating…'

'He's not…'

'My guess is he's been looking for answers too.' The man was a lone figure. He hung out with the boys, fished, drank, whatever the situation called for, played nice with the ladies, always made polite conversation, Mary from the grocery store was completely in love with him and was known for keeping him company throughout his shopping trips in her store. As nice as he was, his past was kept to himself. She was pretty sure Sherriff Mike had found out something about him, after all she had known Mike since they were in diapers and could tell when he was keeping something to himself, but she trusted him enough to let it drop after his insistence on finding out the truth about the newcomer suddenly vanished with a shrug of his shoulders and an, 'turns out the boy is alright.'

'Do you know where he…'

'Couple miles from here,' Marjorie nodded, knowing what the girl couldn't find the words to ask, 'hope you realize it was pretty foolish to even bother bringing the bike this time of year.'

Max looked down at her ankle and rolled her eyes before dryly responding, 'I noticed.'

'Hey Teddy,' Marjorie called out across the way to her former companion now talking to her husband.

'Yea Margie?' he turned quickly ripped from speculating about the new girl with his friend, eager for answers.

'You heading home now?'

'In a few,' he smiled, 'trying to get rid of me?'

'Always,' she smiled back, 'mind giving,' she turned back to Max with a frown, 'I think I missed your name.'

'Max,' she supplied, if he wasn't lying then neither was she.

'Max here, a ride out to Logan's since it's on your way?'

'Not a problem, I'll be ready to go in five, just need to grab something from the back with Jerry.'

ooOoo

A brief conversation followed, once the men returned and they made their way outside. It was regarding her bike, which all three of the town's residents had decided was completely foolish as the two men longingly stroked her highly polished beauty (since she'd needed something to do to pass the previous seemingly never-ending night) and it was left behind with promises from Marjorie and Jerry to be cared for. She realized as she climbed into the pickup that she wasn't worried about its safety and it wasn't because she innately trusted Marjorie, since that was something she doubted she'd ever do with anyone she just met.

It was that it didn't matter.

Nothing mattered more than Logan and getting to him as fast as possible, hell she probably would have outed herself if it had proven necessary, leaving her bike didn't even require a moment's hesitation.

The ride out to Logan's was one of those long rides than seemed to drag on forever as they slowly made their way in the snow that had yet to be cleared. Yet she was surprised as she turned up at the house and it was announced they were there and she turned in shock to see Logan exiting his front door, a chocolate lab with white paws and a white chest bounding down the stairs in front of him, letting out a few barks, before Logan's firm command of, "Jack quiet," reached her through the glass.

The dog immediately lost interest and began sniffing through the fresh snow.

"Nice meeting you, Max," Teddy smiled, ignoring the interesting situation Marjorie had put him in the middle of, "I'll see you tonight at the potluck."

She turned and looked blankly at him before nodding, "Thanks for the ride."

"No problem, we all help each other out here," warm blue eyes smiled at her, hoping he wasn't sending her into the lion's den, he turned once more to see Logan still just standing on the porch, fully dressed, yet making no move, he'd seen the guy give up coats, walk blocks out of his way to escort someone to their car, drive clear across the island when someone was in need. Yet there he stood now doing nothing.

Teddy cranked down his window as Max climbed out, "Hey Logan," he offered with a wave of his hand and a smile.

Logan remembered his manners and smiled, "Hey," he waved back, "thanks for giving her a ride."

"No problem," he waved back before going to turn around as Max stood on the freshly cleared path. Now that she was here, she had no idea what to do.

The dog that came sniffing offered her an escape, "Hey boy," she said squatting down, dropping the pack she'd been carrying down next to her as she tried to win over the dog's affections.

"Girl," Logan corrected her.

She looked at Logan with bemused lips, "Jack?" she questioned.

"I was talked into her after more than a few shots of JD. Her waking me up at 5am the next day to be walked while I was still drunk," he shrugged, "the name made sense. Wouldn't think you'd have an issue with it."

"I ever say that I did?" she asked standing to look at him once more.

He was a wall.

"You're a hard person to find."

"You're one to speak."

" Logan," her head shook, "I'm sorry."

He continued looking at her.

"I didn't mean to," her eyes closed for a moment. "One minute I was clearing my head and the next I was ducking past a checkpoint. I thought if I could just get some fresh air then…" her head shook.

"A year and a half of fresh air?"

"I didn't mean to," she repeated. "It was just easier to stay away…And then you were gone." She wanted to run to him, to bury her head against his chest, to feel his arms wrap around her. How had she forgotten the pain of not being able to do that?

She shivered.

"There's a fire going inside."

She didn't bother mentioning it wasn't the cold that was making her quiver.

"JD," Logan called out and the dog went scampering towards her master and into the door he opened.

Instead of following he waited for her, against the backdrop of the grayed cedar shingles, upon the porch the stretched across the entire front of the house. No this is not where Eyes Only was to have ended up.

She refused to limp as she made her way up to him, her eyes locking with his as she took the final step. "I thought I'd never see you again," she said in a small voice as she weakened once more. Please don't screw this up, her heart pleaded with her.

He moved faster than she could react to in her mentally depleted state.

Before she realized it she was being pinned against a white pillar, his mouth crushing into hers. It was all too fast, she was too caught up in feelings and emotions to remember anything.

It wasn't until he pulled away as harshly and as quickly as he'd come to her that she even remembered the virus.

He didn't look scared or panicked though, instead he looked angry. Angrier than she'd ever seen him.

"A year and three months," was all he said.

"You cured it," she said in shock.

"Yea interesting how that worked out, though I guess it says a lot about our relationship."

"When?" she asked even though she already knew the answer.

"Odd thing when the reason behind our fight…You don't really need a cure when you're no longer exposed to something."

"You should have," she looked at him with pained eyes.

"I should have what Max?" he asked angrier than he had been when he'd accused her of being with Alec. "Told Original Cindy? Alec? Bling?"

She would have come, she would have come running.

"You made your choice," he nearly spat out.

"I was trying to keep you safe," her voice raised, finding strength in that. They'd fought because they loved each other. O. Henry would be proud.

"Yea that worked out well," he bitterly laughed.

"If you just told someone," she began to defend.

"I would have told you Max, if you called. Just once." If she'd called before he'd gone through with it, before he finally gave up waiting and went to NY for treatment, he would have scrapped any plans regarding it, sworn to never even think about another treatment ever again, if she'd only come back to him.

"I did. Forget you canceled your phone and didn't leave anyone a forwarding?"

"I chucked it into the water in June Max, June's a long way off from September." June 1st. Anniversary of when his life had taken a 180 along with everyone else's and one too many beers at the town barbeque had convinced him that sending it flying into the water would be a good thing, a new world, just as the Pulse had brought. He regretted it almost instantly, yet never sought to replace it.

She didn't say anything.

"It's cold out," was all he said before he turned and headed inside.


So short or long?