No ownership was claimed and no profits were realized during the writing of this story.

The author would like to acknowledge Shywriter, the truly almighty beta who keeps the ML fandom both inspired and grammatical. Thanks, Shy!

Point of Origin

Chapter 1: Coffee

"I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart,
but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee." Flash Rosenberg

Part I

Friday Morning

February, 2020

It was a grey and misty morning in Seattle, and Logan Cale was busy at his desk. While computer fans whirred and monitors blinked to get his attention, Logan surfed through the Informant Net. He scanned the public posts, trying to discern between the general complaints of an unhappy population and the legitimate injustices that could be righted, and he couldn't help but notice that there were still far too many legitimate injustices occurring in the city. Before he had a chance to become too thoughtful about that, he was distracted by the phone.

"Yeah?"

"Logan, it's Matt. You're not going to believe this. Victor Crohn; he's out."

At the mention of that name, Logan sat up a little straighter, giving all of his attention to the call. "How?"

"'Inconclusive evidence'. Apparently they found a new witness a mere two and a half years after the fact. Do you believe it? The first guy Eyes Only ever put away, and he beats a murder rap by getting the DA to reopen the case. Word on the street is that the DA who got him out just bought a vacation house out on Orcas Island," the detective added with disgust.

"He's guilty, Matt. I know he is," Logan was emphatic. "He killed Charles Thompson."

"I believe you, Logan. But it's done. We can try to put a tail on him, but I don't think he's going to be getting his hands dirty again anytime soon. At least he won't be careless enough to get caught again. Unless you've got anything better?"

"I'll put word out on the Informant Net to see if we can come up with anything. In the meantime, I have some other ideas."

Logan hung up and stared at the phone for a few minutes, thinking. Then he picked up the receiver again and dialed a familiar number.

It was a grey and misty morning in Seattle, and Max rode her bike down the ramp into Jam Pony. Amid the lounging riders trying to get out of work by staying as inconspicuous as possible, she found her crew hiding out in the back.

"Max!" Sketchy called her over. Everyone was grouped around a hot plate that was precariously balanced on the edge of a table while Original Cindy stirred the contents of a saucepan. "Max, can you front me fifty bucks?"

"What for?" she demanded.

"We got a bet going that I can't do a Stoppie all the way across that bench," Sketchy explained. "Come on, easy money. I need financial backing."

"Find another sucker," she told Sketchy, who then went off to locate a new sponsor. Max turned her attention to the pot and wrinkled her nose as she caught a whiff. "What is that?" she asked.

"Chicory," Cindy answered with a sad shake of her head. "Some fool said it was just like coffee, but Original Cindy just ain't buying it."

"Don't tell me there's no coffee again," Max groaned.

"No lie, no lie, Seattle is dry. Original Cindy don't play when her morning coffee is at stake, Boo. Some things are sacred."

Before Max could offer her sympathies and commiserate about the Post-Pulse economy, she was distracted by the beeping from her pager. She glanced at it long enough to recognize a familiar number.

"Little early for a booty call, ain't it?" asked Cindy. "Richie sure don't waste much time trackin' you down these days."

Max was about to indignantly correct her friend when she was interrupted by Normal, who had noticed a distinct lack of production coming from their general area and had come over to investigate. "What are you cooking back here?" he demanded. "It smells like mud. No doing your laundry on company time!"

"Good morning, Normal. Want a nice cup of chicory?" Max offered sweetly.

"Trying to poison me, huh? And if I'm dead, who's going to sign your paycheck? Huh? Ever think about that? I employ you miscreants to deliver packages, not to play Martha Stewart. On second thought, you're not that well organized. Or sanitary. Get back to work!"

"Relax, Normal, we're just trying to get through the day."

"Oh, you mean the work day? The one where you deliver packages and I pay you money for it? Get out and earn your keep! Deliver something!" He yelled out to the crowd, "I've got three hot runs going to Sector Nine! Bip! Bip! Bip!"

"I'll take 'em," Max volunteered.

"Like Original Cindy don't know why you're so fired up to take that run." Cindy chided with a knowing smirk. "Sista girl is ready to go deliver some booty!"

"Throw that stuff away," Max said, rolling her eyes at Cindy's not-so-subtle innuendo and giving her best 'as-if' scoff. "Normal's right, it smells like mud. I'll bring you back some real coffee."

Part II

Thursday Evening

April, 2017

Logan sat in his brand new living room amid piles of boxes. He was surrounded by half empty packing cartons, wardrobe boxes, file boxes, and crates that held his art collection which was finally allowed out in the open now that he was no longer married to a woman who thought the pictures on the walls should match the couch. There was also a beautifully wrapped gift box sitting on the table in front of him.

Sitting across from the gift box sat its benefactor, Logan's cousin Charlie, or at least as close as could be claimed in the world of modern marriage. Charlie's mother had married Logan's father's brother when both boys were twelve. The marriage had lasted four years, a considerable length of time considering "Aunt" Nicole's track record. She had gone off after those four years to marry somebody much wealthier, and after his death she was free to marry someone much younger. They say the fourth one is the charm.

Charlie, however, had remained part of the family. He and Logan were much alike, brilliant and handsome golden children, and the family assumed they would go far. Charlie had gone to medical school and, upon graduation, began working for a pharmaceutical company, earning an enormous salary, making the family proud and securing his place at Uncle Jonas's table forever.

Although they had been close in their youth, Logan and Charlie had drifted apart as their lives progressed in different directions. They saw each other at the occasional event, always promising to make time for lunch but never really succeeding, so it was with some amazement that Logan answered the door of his recently purchased apartment to find his cousin bearing gifts.

"So this is the new bachelor pad, huh?" Charlie asked after giving the place a cursory once over and nodding his approval. "Well chosen. The ladies are going to go crazy over this layout."

"I prefer to think of it as my fortress of solitude," Logan said with a rueful smile.

"Come on, Logan, the penthouse?"

"I liked the view," Logan answered somewhat defensively

"Well, either way, it suits you" his cousin conceded, realizing some wounds were still fresh. "Open that," Charlie prompted, indicating towards the box that sat between them.

Logan opened the beautifully wrapped box to reveal a blue Luca Trazzi Francis Espresso Machine. A top of the line piece of equipment, it was an expensive luxury item before the Pulse. In the current economy, it was nearly impossible to obtain. Logan nodded in appreciation and thanked his cousin.

"You really like it?" Charles asked.

"I do," Logan assured him. "it's very impressive; you have good taste."

"Good," Charles answered with a beatific smile. "It's from your Aunt Margo. She said to tell you 'Happy Housewarming'."

"Well, that explains how you found me; I'm sure she's telling everyone." Logan forced his smile to remain polite and he tried not to think about how blue was a ridiculous color for a kitchen appliance. "That was nice of her," he answered stiffly. "Please thank her for me."

Charles let out a laugh at Logan's response and obvious discomfort. "Open up a bottle of something and I won't even make you tell her yourself. Honestly, I think it was originally your wedding gift, but she didn't want Valerie getting her hands on anything nice. I was sure I heard her muttering something about giving gold-diggers ideas under her breath."

"That doesn't surprise me," Logan answered quietly as he went to dig glasses out of the sea of cardboard in his kitchen.

Once they were comfortably situated with drinks, Charles decided Logan had no intention of bringing it up, so he decided to just ask. "So, Logan…your marriage ended since I saw you last. What happened there?"

"Long story," dismissed Logan.

"Well, now that we've got coffee, I've got all night."