Disclaimer: I don't own Dark Angel and nobody has ever offered to pay me for any of this.

Terminal City

Chapter I

Woulda-Couda-Shoulda

Logan absentmindedly stared at the smoldering bonfires and scarce lights that were scattered over the sleeping city. He tried to concentrate on his work, but his gaze kept going towards the window. It was late and he was tired, so his mind wandered and refused to focus on the task at hand. The old, familiar doubts crept into his head, and he couldn't help but wonder yet again what would have been if they had never tried to take down Manticore.

He let out a soft sigh. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time.

That night was meant to destroy the one thing that threatened Max's safety and security, to eliminate the need for her to run anymore. Once Manticore was gone, she was supposed to be free to have a normal life. Maybe even a life with him.

It didn't exactly go over like it was supposed to, though, did it?

Logan couldn't stop himself from making a mental list of all the what ifs and could've beens had they not tried to take down Manticore. If they had left it alone, Max would never have been captured. She would never have been infected with a virus that was targeted to kill him with the slightest touch. The Manticore anomalies would never have been set free into the city and she would never have become the de facto leader of a transgenic army.

The last year had been pure hell because of that ill conceived plan. He had watched Max die, and for awhile, he would have been content to join her. For days he didn't eat or sleep or move; he would have stopped breathing and having a heartbeat as well if involuntary muscles hadn't taken over. Only a manic desire for revenge and an inexplicable certainty that she couldn't really be gone had eventually become enough to make him get up and carry on, but it wasn't really living. It had just kept him going long enough to deliver the final blow, exposing Manticore and destroying them once and for all. It really had seemed like the right thing to do…at the time.

When she reappeared, the world suddenly came into focus again, and he was filled with the precious certainty that life was wondrously beautiful and he would never let her go again. That feeling lasted for about forty-five seconds, before it was replaced by the feeling of fire in his lungs as he struggled to breath and a nauseating dizziness that had him falling to the floor, as Manticore took their own parting shot back at him through an unsuspecting Max.

He should have just left it alone.

Logan had watched her grow farther and farther away from him, terrified to get to close because of the damned virus and overwhelmed by so many new responsibilities. Every escaped nomaly, every displaced soldier…by taking out Manticore, they had assumed responsibility for all of them.

If they had just left it alone, the nightmare that was the last year of their lives might never have happened. They might still have their old lives, she might still be his, and he most certainly wouldn't be hiding out in a gutted conference room in an abandoned biotech office building in Terminal City, helping the transgenics reestablish their communications network to defend themselves against the military that had begun to surround the perimeter.

They had been trapped in Terminal City for a little over twenty-four hours. It had only taken a day for the police to barricade them in and call in the military for reinforcements. At first, rioters and news crews surged against the fence, but they had been forced back a few hours ago in preparation for a strategic assault, and it was eerily quiet as they waited for the attack to begin.

He wouldn't leave, even though he knew the raid might come at any time. He wouldn't leave her.

He tried to keep the tired clichés from invading his thoughts, but phrases like 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' and 'Better the devil you know' and still ran through his mind sometimes. Especially when he was tired.

He shook himself and pulled his gaze away from the window and back to the circuit board he was repairing. He didn't have time to feel sorry for himself, he had work to do and lives were on the line. There was no point wishing for what could have been. It was what it was, and he needed to deal with it. Besides, Manticore was evil and needed to end; the transgenics needed to be set free. It had been the right thing to do.

But there were times when Logan was sick to death of doing the right thing, and times when he kicked himself for it, and times when he wished he could go back and do things differently. Would the world really end if he were selfish once in awhile?

He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to refocus, and let out a mirthless chuckle as he realized that the era of Manticore hunting Max down had been the good ol' days. He supposed there was nothing like being trapped in a biohazardous waste dump surrounded by rioting masses and trigger happy militia to make you appreciate the golden years.

He replaced the circuit board and tested the connection. Logan had to acknowledge that the transgenics had done quite well, considering the waste and junk piles they had to work with. They had put together an elaborate computer network entirely out of scavenged parts, but there was no back up to their communication system, and with a confrontation eminent, a fallback system would be essential. It was all they had, and he hoped it would be enough.

"Hey, Logan," Alec called to him from the doorway, interrupting Logan's musings. "Come downstairs. We've got a situation."

"Where's Max?" Logan asked, apprehensive at Alec's terse summon. He had learned that when Alec was concise, something was definitely wrong.

"Still underground," Alec answered. "You know how that girl loves her sewers. Of course, she's never here when it hits the fan, is she? We've gotta go; they're waiting on us."

Logan quickly gathered his computer components and followed Alec downstairs, wondering exactly how many straws it took before the camel's back finally snapped.

xxXXxx

Long, rambling author's note: This story originally bloomed from a snippet challenge response I wrote for BBWW (Grapefruit Diet thread, 20th response down if you're interested). A couple of people casually mentioned that I should continue the idea, which got me to thinking about everything I would have done had I been in charge of Season 3. Next thing I knew, I had an outline and a story and, well, you know how it goes…

So here's the fun part-- As I was mapping the plot out, I realized that there is a lot of flexibility in this tale, so I've decided to take requests. If there's anything you would have liked to have seen in S3 (characters, plot twists, sexy death and violence, whatever) drop it in a review and I'll try to work it in for you. This way we can all finally have Dark Angel closure together!

If you like it, please let me know. If you hate it, blame Mia and Mari…it's really all their fault for putting the idea in my head in the first place.

Thanks for reading. More to come soon.