Haha oh man. My original gift decided it wanted to be a snippet. Tried brainstorming with Griever and all I kept going was, 'but I already did that…did that too…did both of those in both of my last challenge fics.' So sad. So now I'm going to recycle the start of my fic for last year (which yea I used as the basis for my time snippet). Man I need new inspiration, all I'm getting from the dvds is 'man I wanna jump Michael Weatherly.' :-P

I'm gonna set this in an AU Season Two. It would/does work with my last Christmas Challenge of 'Like That,' but all that happened in that story is we find out survived the attack on Manticore, Tinga did not. Max and Logan are together. So basically it's just continuing S1 without Max dying.


She wondered how many hours…days…years…lives…had been spent staring at a clock.

Staring and wishing for every minute back.

It kept going forward though.

12:10, 12:13, 12:20….

It was 1:10 now, another hour of her life had past that she wished to reclaim.

Lives spent searching, praying for something to turn back the hands of time.

She curled tighter into the comforter ignoring the fact that it was making her overheat and crushed her face into the pillow.

She remembered Christmas last year.

Remembered sitting in her window staring out into the city blanketed in white. A sudden storm had blanketed the area. 6 inches of snow had been waiting for the city's children, for most their only gift.

For her though it had been a curse.

She sat with her legs tucked up against the shivering cold as she looked out, a rolled up towel wadded against the crack in her door, trying to avoid freezing out Kendra. Taking her bike out, even for her, would be risky on the fresh powder. She shouldn't have left Logan's, but Bling had been there hustling her out the door swearing their newly released patient would remain under his watchful care.

She tried to nonchalantly offer to stay with him for the night, family and whatnot. Bling thanked her, but reminded her that his family was on the opposite side of the country and everyone else would understand. Then his voice had come across low when she repeated her offer, he looked at her with tender eyes, 'Why don't you stay as well, plenty of room, I know Logan would welcome the company.'

'No, I don't want to stay. I mean I have Kendra waiting for me back at our place. I just thought, I mean…'

He put her out of her misery, 'He's not fully recovered yet, despite what he thinks,'

'I know which is why I-'

He silenced her with a look, 'Who do you think he'll accept help from?'

Awareness dawned within her, 'Neither,' she answered truthfully.

'Who has a shot in hell?' he asked with lips twitching up in a smile.

She nodded, 'You know how to reach me.'

She'd spent the day in hell worrying about him, missing him and trying not to show it since she'd given up actually not worrying some time ago. She tried to ignore how within a few short months one man had become her whole world. One man had filled the void left by a missing family. One man had given her a purpose aside from surviving. A reason for being that filled her instead of leaving her drained as her hunt for her family did.

She kept staring at the clock though.

1:12. 1:13

That first year she had wanted to turn back time to save him from the line of fire. Wanted to shake her past self and tell her what a selfish bitch she was. That the world didn't revolve around her pain. That just because bad things happened to her, didn't mean she shouldn't do everything her power to make sure they didn't happen to others.

Maybe that in itself was pathetic. That her main wish that year had been to give Logan back what a bullet had taken away. She hadn't let herself think about the others in the car. That maybe Logan would have been able to save Theo somehow, if only she'd asked. All of the other lives she could have saved if only she were a second faster or someone else a second slower.

There had been a clear solution to it. It made it easy to focus upon. One decision, numerous consequences.

She'd wanted to save Ben, Brin and Tinga. She had barely been able to get her mind around what had happened with Zack when she thought they'd lost him. Saving Zack or saving Logan. It wasn't something she even knew how to begin thinking about.

Maybe she hadn't even had time to wrap her head around Tinga. Maybe she was so grateful to be alive, to have Logan. Too busy regretting the wasted time or not kicking ass first, making polite conversation second.

Still busy being selfish.

She regretting going after Manticore. About getting herself shot. About cluing them in to Seattle. Giving them another reason to chase her.

So many stupid decisions.

Vogelsang led to Zack.

Led to Zack being locked up in Manticore and them finding out about Tinga.

Why hadn't Tinga told her about Charlie and Case?

Why hadn't she trusted her enough?

Logan could have relocated them somewhere safe until she could get back to them.

Still though. No Vogelsang. No leaving Logan alone to deal with Sonrisa…

She was really hot.

She ignored it and left the covers on.

She wanted to be home.

She wanted Logan to be home.

She wanted Case and Charlie home with Penny…Their Penny. The woman Tinga had been happy being for years.

She remembered Logan with snowflakes on his eyelashes. That joyous smile at the simple act. Nearly bleeding to death was a good reminder of how much beauty existed in simple things. Nearly losing him had proven even more powerful.

Remembered the lil' bit nailing her with more than a few snowballs.

Remembered Kendra tackling her into the snow.

Remembered smuggling in a snowball when the roads had finally cleared enough for her to make it over to Logan's and nailing him smack in the middle of his head. It had been worth the fact that she'd had to mop it up.

She wanted to go home.

She curled tighter into that ball and clutched the blankets a little harder, ignoring the slight trickle of sweat on her brow.

She wanted to see Bling smirk at her for something positively girly and therefore Logan related.

She wanted to see Kendra and Original Cindy roll their eyes at her over something 'everyone knew,' everyone apparently but her.

Wanted to watch Sketch light up over some get rich quick scheme or the latest conspiracy he'd been turned on to.

Wanted to hear Herbal preach the word, though what that word was, she wasn't always sure.

She even wanted to her that damn three letter non-existent word repeated three times because apparently it was so fun, it had to be said thrice, bip bip bip.

She wanted to feel her nose get cold again aside from standing in front of a freezer.

She wanted to take it back!

Her eyes squeezed shut trying to block it all out.

'That angel looks like Mommy.'

Tinga's little boy was forgetting her. She was a smiling face in a handful of pictures. A story of a princess. Everything else was fading, her laughter, her voice, occasionally off-key pitch as she sang…Her little boy would forget her, no amount of stories could make up for the simple fact that she wasn't there.

And she couldn't take it back.


Kept going forward.

It was over. It was done. And she couldn't do anything about it.

"Max," the tentative voice followed the opening of the door.

She tried to feign sleep.

"Max we've been on the run for almost four months…"

"I know," she whispered back.

"We had to stop eventually. I figured with Case and Charlie."

"John," she corrected him.

"Right John," he nodded. "I thought it made sense-"

"It does," she nodded roughly against the pillow. She heard the wheels turn slightly not even completing one full rotation.

"So you're not mad about the job?"

"You were right, we could use the money. We shouldn't be draining your accounts."

"We can drain them for awhile Max," another slight turn of the wheels, "we don't need to stop here. We can try making it further south…I can see if any of my contacts can get us across the ocean."

"We're lucky we made it this far," luck and a lot of money.

" Panama's a good place Max, there are a lot of us here." Americans.

"We'll blend in," she nodded without enthusiasm, still not looking at him.

"It's what we have to do to keep them off our tail."

"I know," she'd always known. She just ignored it and paid that double crosser Vogelsang to look for her sibs, but Tinga paid the price for it.

"Aren't you hot?" he suddenly changed the subject, the question unable to be put off any longer.

"Not really," she lied.

"It's 76 degrees out," he pointed out.

"I'm good," she cut down any argument.


She quickly sat up and turned for that. "It's over Logan. I get that. Our lives. Max and Logan, they're done. Never see our families. Our friends. The snow. There won't even be the unlikely chance of a White Christmas. It's all over, it's all done."

He shook his head gently as his eyes closed, the pale green orbs emerged slowly and connected with hers, "Maybe one day Max…"

"No Logan," she shook her head, "one day is never going to happen, no phone calls, no postcards…I get that. It just kinda sucks to have to get that on Christmas."

"I thought you'd want to stay by Case," he tried to explain his actions. Actions he thought she'd be pleased by.

"I do. He's my sister's son," she frowned, "even though I never get to say that."

"Max," he once more tried to explain himself.

"No…" she shook her head, "I get it. You and Ch-John. It's different, it works."


"No," she cut him off, "it's fine." She sighed and looked down at the yellow band around her ring finger; she turned it with her thumb. "Guess I just got used to not everything being a lie," she pulled her knees up to her chest.

He sighed and looked down at the matching band on his finger.

"Little weird being married, but not married if you think about it," she rested her head on her knees.

He smirked trying to lighten the mood, "Gotta tell you, it's going a lot better for me than the everything by the book marriage."

"Oh you mean vows and a priest?"

"Yea those," his brows lowered and he leaned forward to rest his arms on his legs. "You know we could do that. Buy a suit and a dress. Throw a party."

"We're already married," she reminded him.

"Tell everyone we're renewing our vows," he shook his head.

She wiggled hers on her knees. "Just paperwork that we already have."

He rolled forward till his legs were touching the bed, "It's a promise to love each other forever."

"We al…" she paused and looked at him, "are you really going to?"

"Love you forever?" he frowned, "Of course," he nodded.

"Even when this gets old? When you're broke? When you miss your family-"

He smirked at the un-likeliness of that.

"When you realize that you're never going to walk again because of me-"

"The exo was just a machine, one that didn't even work very well at that."

"But you loved it."

"Not as much as I love you."

"You can bail still. Try to hit up Japan and get your legs and your life back."

"My life is with you," he said leaning forward and tugging on her hands.

"This isn't an adventure, this isn't play time. This is real life. Lose your identity-"

"It's just a name Max."

"Your name. Your family's name. Their history."

"You can't live in the past. We'll make new memories."

"You say that now," she sighed.

"And I'm going to say it tomorrow and the day after that, next week, next year…"

She shook her head and tugged away her hands, "I'm gonna go hit the shower."

"You're not getting rid of me," he told her as she went to grab clean pajamas.

She turned back with a feigned confusion.

"You're not going to push me away. You're not going to convince me you don't want me here. That you don't love me. That you don't want us to have what Charlie and Tinga had."

"Tinga's dead," she bluntly replied and turned back around.

"Yea I know," he harshly nodded and wheeled around the bed, "which is exactly why I'm in Panama City having an 80 degree Christmas. Why my name is suddenly Lucas Todd. Why I don't talk to friends, contacts, informants. Why I took a job teaching American History to a bunch of kids who can't even begin to understand the country we lost."

She shut the drawer, but didn't turn back to him.

"I am not leaving. You are not leaving. And I will die before I ever let anyone take you from me. So just give it up now because if you haven't noticed, I can be a little stubborn."

She smirked.

"Speaking of which, I have the bicycle from hell to get back to working on. If you feel like being useful, feel free to join," he abruptly turned.

Her smirk turned into a smile as she heard him peel out.


"Aunt Kenzie," the little voice whispered.

She groaned, "What?"

"Santa found us," he shook her this time.

"Told ya he would," she replied in typical know-it-all fashion. "What time is it?" she asked with still closed eyes.

"4," he looked over his shoulder, "15."

"Go back to sleep," she rolled over.

"But it's Christmas."

"Few more hours," she grumbled.

"But Santa already came," he said leaning over her, not allowing her escape.

She groaned again, yea an hour ago. "Sun isn't even up."

"But," he once more leaned over her.

"Ugh," she covered her nose, "and you haven't brushed your teeth."

"If I brush my teeth can I open up my gifts?"

"Maybe," she mumbled just hoping to get rid of him.

He dashed out of the room.


"Aunt Mackenzie," he shook her again.

"Go away Case," she pitifully burrowed into her pillow.

"But I brushed my teeth, see, haaa," he let out a breath into her face.

She flinched regardless of the minty smell.

"Go wake someone else up," she whined.

"Daddy told me to come back at 7. And Uncle Lucas has his head under the pillow."

She opened an eye and sure enough there was that dear sweet compassionate man of hers hiding.

She grumbled and rolled to her nephew.

"Please Aunt Kenz," his lower lip trembled and he looked at her with large soulful hazel eyes.

She whimpered.

"Aunt Kenz," he whined and climbed into bed with her.

Nose to nose, his arms went around her neck.


"Aunt Kenz," his lip trembled again, threatening tears.

"One gift," she nodded, his bobbed along with hers, "then you help me make breakfast."

"Okay," he nodded as he scrambled out of the bed.


"Uncle Luke," the little boy enthusiastically spoke, "it's gonna be sooo cool. Travis down the street can do wheelies," he announced standing behind his bike and lifting the front up.

"Good for Travis, but don't even think about it," Charlie nodded with a smile pushing down the front of the bike as he walked past it.

"You should probably work out the basics first buddy," Logan shot his nephew his patented charming smile.

"Well yea, but after that," his head tilted and he left his mouth open as if it were obvious to all.

His father sighed, "How about we discuss this after church?"

"Can't I practice now?" Case sighed.

"No," was the quick reply his father shot him.

"But I-"

"Come on," Charlie said placing a hand on his son's back.

"Oooh," Case said suddenly stopping at the door, "I forgot the present for Sister Mary Beth in my room," he said referring to the woman who taught him Sunday School that no one had remembered to buy a gift for on the actual last day of class before the holidays.

"Go to the car," Max said shaking her head, "I got it."


She stopped and smiled at the top of the artificial Christmas tree they had put up a few weeks earlier.

Up at the angel that Case was right that did have an eerie resemblance to her departed sister.

"Aunt Mac," Case said running back into the house.

"You make a break for it?" she smiled.

"Uncle Luke forgot his wallet," he told her.

"Uncle Luke forgot his wallet?" she said scooping him up into her arms, "Or you picked his pocket when he wasn't paying attention and hid it?" she teased.

"It's really unfair that we have to go to church on Christmas," he groaned and fell back in her arms and would have toppled if not for her firm grasp.

She made a face despite her amusement, "I think your dad needs to have a little talk with Sister Mary Beth," she told him as they walked into the room she was sharing with Logan.

"I know, I know," he shook his head, "its Jesus' birthday."

"Hmm maybe you didn't steal his wallet," she said plucking it from the nightstand.

"Told ya."

"One thing kid," she conceded.

"I was right about how much milk to put in the pancakes," he reminded.

"Okay two things," she sighed in feigned exasperation.

"And about-"

"Hey," she stopped and looked at him, "I ever tell you how 'in' I am with Santa?"

He viewed her skeptically.

"If I were to mention to him that someone was being a wise…A smart alec."

"What's that?"

"A know-it-all,' she explained as they walked back into the living room, her nephew still on her hip, holding a wallet in one hand as he held onto her with the other, his teacher's gift pressing against his back in Max's hands.

"You mean like Uncle Luke calls you?"

"That's three," she told him with a quick nod.

He smirked.

"You happen to notice how many more gifts you got compared to me?"

That smile fell.

"That's what I thought," she smirked as she went to grab the small purse she was bringing to church from the side-table by the door.

"Wait," he said as she started heading out the door.

She looked down.

"We never said Merry Christmas to Mommy."

"We'll tell her in church," a hand easily came free to stroke her nephew's soft cheeks.

"No," he shook his head and looked up at the tree.

"Case that's not…" she nodded, "okay let's tell Mommy's Angel Merry Christmas."

He frowned looking up as she stopped in front of the tree, still in Max's arms. "What am I supposed to tell her?" he turned to ask Max.

"Merry Christmas is a pretty good place to start," she offered.

He turned back, "Merry Christmas Mommy." He frowned again.

"Want to tell a story?"

His lips fell into a pout, but then he determinedly nodded.

"Once upon a time," she prompted.

"There was a princess who lived in a castle with her brothers and sisters. An evil king kept them there, but one day they got out. Princess Tinga lost her family, but fell in love with a prince and they had their baby. The king found her and took her away again and she didn't get to leave this time," his lip trembled.

"But her baby got to be safe," Max told him as she stroked his cheek.

He nodded, but a few tears began to trickle down his cheeks, "He still missed her though, but he had his daddy." He nodded and looked back up at the tree. "When the Princess couldn't come back, Princess Max came, so her baby wouldn't have to be alone and so the evil king could never find him again."

"He's not going to," she promised her nephew with tears in her eyes.

He nodded, "I know."

"Anything else?" she asked with a sweet smile at her sister's little boy.

"They lived happily ever after," he nodded.

"Do they?"

He burrowed into her shoulder and nodded, he tilted sideways once he'd dried his tears on her dress, "Case, Daddy, Aunt Kenzie and Uncle Luke."

"I think that story made your mommy very happy," she said placing a kiss on his head.

"She's watching us right?"

"Always," Max promised.

He looked back up at the tree, "I love you Mommy. I wish you were here."

"Me too," Max added.

The car horn honked.

"And Daddy wishes we were in the car," she laughed.

"Ugh," Case groaned and burrowed into her neck, "it's still not fair we have to go to church on Christmas. Betcha Jesus didn't have to go to church on his birthday."

There was a lesson learned by the princesses who ran, who hoped that their brothers and sisters would one day understand.

The evil king could bellow and scream, he could hunt and chase, until he was blue in the face.

He could take and take, until they met their fate.

Yet with the single act of love. They could always rise above.

They would always be for they had chosen to actually be.

The single act of being missed, meant you would always exist.

Haha, it wasn't my fault. There was supposed to be a happy ending which I don't know how led to rhyming. :-P

Hey did anyone else know that the little boy who played Case, play little Kal-El on Smallville? I thought that was interesting. So I'm forcing you guys to know it as well.

I hope you had a kick ass Christmas BlueAngel. I'm so sorry I couldn't think up anything more creative or with naked Logan. Hopefully the other girls did. :-P