This story is meant to be after the first season style. It faithfully aheres to the storylines of the previous episodes until half-way through Meow, when Max told Logan about her "problem." Although I love that ending, my theory on the show is that it traveled over too much ground in that particular episode, I'm skeptical of the whole Max coming clean then. I would have liked to see the dance, and style of the first season, carried over into the second. In particular, the secret of Max's heat could have provided fodder for so many humorous and not so humorous storylines. This story originated out of a desire to write one of those potential stories.
So be warned, this story will shamelessly use the overused tropes of previous fanfiction, including heat, it will contain many sexual references, and it will most definitely be a Max/Logan storyline. If any of these things offend you, now is the time to bail. Reviews are welcome.
The atmosphere in Logan Cale's apartment was tenser than usual. Gathered for the Eyes Only mission briefing was not only Max, but Bling, Matt Sung, and a man named Arnold Kennedy.
It was a little crowded for Logan's liking, especially with Max involved. However, Kennedy had brought in some disturbing information that required immediate and extreme action, as well as the help of a certain genetically-engineered brunette. It was risky to let Sung and Kennedy into his apartment, especially with his extensive and incriminating computer equipment so close at hand, but even with everyone gathered in his living room, Logan considered it necessary.
Arnold, a short, thick-necked blond man, who spent an overabundance of time working out his arm and pecks, had been filling them in on a Peter Gregson. For the past fifteen minutes, the briefing had focused on how the current intelligence had been acquired info on Gregson's past transgressions and future crimes. Soon in, Max began to realize that this situation was slightly different from other Eyes Only missions, and far more dangerous.
Max stated: "So the man's trafficking bio-hazard war agents. That's some serious shit, what's he doing is Seattle?"
Kennedy elaborated: "My guess, he's planning to test one of his new proto-types somewhere in the Northwest. There have been rumors stemming back ten-years linking a mysterious company with large-scale human-testing, usually as a proof of purchase for the prospective buyer. It's possible Gregson is behind this company and is thinking of performing a test in the area."
"I don't get it, why would the U.S. government let them do tests in home-territory. Seems to be a waste of resources."
Logan stepped in to answer Max's question: "Our sources are indicating that this weapon is for the South-Pacific coalition, and is a highly potent air-based compound. In the past, the company has been linked to demonstrations on small-town, rural communities, of between 3 to 5 thousand people. The deaths are always isolated and a generally hushed up quickly to prevent panic, the chemicals always non-traceable and quickly biodegradable. We suspect this guy's company is responsible for the obliteration of small towns in Russia, Brazil, and even a small town in Canada. These guys don't just go for the weak nations."
Max asked: "So why not just leak this information to the federal government? It's not like they're my favorite people, but surely they'd be interested in preventing a mass-scale public massacre."
Shaking his head, Logan responded: "The problem is the supposed "company" keeps changing; it's impossible to nail down them down since their front changes with each new weapon. All of the dummy corporations have been registered under the African-union standards, which of course prevents any foreign government for obtaining company records, and refuses to link personal names to private corporations. The modern day equivalent of the Swiss bank account."
Kennedy interrupted: "That's why this new info is so important. It links Gregson, and/or his family, with the organization."
As he spoke, Kennedy had moved from his place in the arm chair to a space on the couch beside Max. Keeping eye-contact with her, he continued: "It's confusing I know, but quite exciting."
Catching Logan's gaze, Max raised her eye-brows slightly before performing a barely perceptible eye-roll. One corner of Logan's mouth briefly tugged upwards, before he continued:
"The problem is the Gregson family is so well connected that the government wouldn't risk a full scale investigation into the charges. While they might be willing to act on solid information, they're not going to put the Gregsons to any inconvenience to sniff out leads."
"Or prevent the deaths of thousands of innocent people," piped up Bling.
"Exactly," Logan added. "We need this information and we need to get it fast, so we can make the military take action. Eyes Only is aware of the situation and he has authorized us to use whatever resources the informant net has to stop these guys before they simply wipe out a small town."
Sung asked, "So what do you want us to do Logan?"
"Well, for one Matt, we need you to find a way to get us some first-rate sector passes, so we can come and go as the need arises. We also need you to keep yourself on call to act as an intermediary once we find the information we need."
"Bling, I need you to act in my stead as a go between with Eyes Only." Bling nodded, he knew what Logan was really asking him to do was man the Informant Net and use the Voice-Clone for any cable hacks that needed performed while he was away.
"Arnold, you need to keep up your front in Gregson's company, while I take a Cale vacation to the Gregson family casino, which is about 40 miles outside the city." Seeing the Max's curiosity Logan explained: "I happen to know the Gregsons from family circles, as you might have guessed Jonas wasn't exactly discriminating in who we socialized with as long as they had the right pedigree. While they might not welcome me into their business meeting, I might be able to attend some less formal functions and get a good idea of who their working with. They are still huddle up there, Arnold?"
"Yeah, and from what I can glean it seems like the testing won't be all that far from home."
"Good." There was a short pause before Max interceded.
"So what do you need me to do? Smuggle some files, stake out some surveillance?" Max sensed a slight discomfort in Logan and was trying to ease the situation. She figured he was trying to keep her "abilities" on the DL and didn't want to let on to Sung and Arnold the level of her involvement in previous missions.
It was Arnold who answered, apparently already somewhat aware of the plan: "Sort of, we need you to use your god-given talents to get close to Gregson." He smiled at her, leaning in just ever so slightly while dangling an arm behind the couch.
Max didn't bother to hide her sardonic look this time, slightly annoyed with both his patronizing tone and level of involvement.
Logan cleared his throat to get her attention: "Apparently, Gregson has a slight weakness.." Logan's eyes were firmly locked with Max's, she guessed in an effort to mitigate her reaction to his point. "...for attractive brunettes."
"That right?" Max asked, not sure whether to be amused or annoyed, but definitely not liking where this conversation was headed.
"Seems he's quite a 'collector'" Logan was hoping that casual tone would make Max more willing to comply. "He also has a tendency to keep his companions close at hand. Generally wining and dining them, bringing them on business trips for the few weeks they're together."
"So let me get this straight…" Max's eyes clashing with Logan's as her voice took on its best sarcastic tilt. "You want me to shake my ass at some billionaire psychopath, who's probably eighty-years old with a saggy ass, so he'll make me his love-toy for a few weeks in the hopes I might hear a few words dropped on this case?"
For his part, Logan didn't let his eyes waver. He knew any sign of weakness on his part would further incense Max. "Actually, Peter is under forty and I believe he's considered by those in my family's circle to have quite a nice ass."
Max gave a slight huff of amusement at his joke, but she didn't back down. "I hate to break this to you Logan, but you can tell Eyes Only I'm not going to spread my legs for him, nice ass or no."
Although the double meaning was lost on Sung and Kennedy, the men were unsettled enough by the blunt words and confrontational tone to look away from the conversation. Bling, who was probably the only person in the room able to pick up on the levels of meaning in the exchange, was attempting to bore holes in the side of Logan's head, willing him to reassure Max on the person level neither of them seemed to realize they were dancing around.
Besides for a slight clenching of his jaw, Logan's face remained impassive and focused, he answered: "For all his despicable attributes, one fault that Gregson doesn't possess is a love of working-girl population. Our sources indicate that Gregson tends to invest heavily into his relationships where the subject remains a bit of a 'challenge.' All you need to do is get and keep his attention long enough to get the information, if he tries anything you'll have back-up."
The last comment was a covert reminder to Max that Logan knew she was perfectly able to handle herself if the situation arose. For some reason, that annoyed Max all the more.
"Well suppose I agree to this arrangement. How am I suppose to grab this guy's attention, not to mention get Normal to let me off work long enough to take a honeymoon with him?"
Acknowledging the concession he knew she had just given, Logan turned his eyes briefly to Kennedy: "Actually, what I want to do is use your position at Jam Pony to gain access to him. Arnold sometimes handles the packages that come through security. If we can send a signature-requested package to Gregson that you personally deliver that will provide you with a meeting time, and a credible identity."
"Yeah, my own." Max huffed, obviously unhappy on a number of levels.
This time Logan responded to her mood by softening his voice and leaning toward her. "I know Max, I hate using your real identity too, but I'm going to be there the whole time, accessing the files, removing your name and pictures from the surveillance pictures. You're also going to the last in the long-string of girlfriends. Your position won't attract unusual attention. "
Finally gaining eye contact with her, Logan further soften his voice, once again making the other men in the room feel like they were intruding in a personal discussion… "Max, thousands of people's lives are on the line, you're the only one I trust to do this."
Max had once told Logan that the one thing she wasn't was a chump, however, at this moment she distinctly felt like one.
Knowing that she had already acquiesced, Max stated: "Okay, suppose I agree to this. What's to say boy-wonder decides he wants to kick it with me? I mean bike-shorts and backwards hats don't exactly make for seductive gear."
Despite her Manticore training, it was only Logan's smile that Max registered, though the three other men all smiled at her question.
"We'll come to that bridge if it comes to it, and Max… thanks."
Deciding it was time to rejoin the conversation, Kennedy piped up: "Max, sweetheart, I don't think you'll have any trouble with anything you wear. You're sexier in flannels than most women in swimsuits."
Taking a moment to give her what he considered his "winning" smile and stretch his shoulders above his head, Kennedy continued: "with you on our team we're bound to get him. And don't worry, I'll be there to get your… back."
Realizing that Max was seconds away from laying Kennedy out, both Bling and Logan rose.
"Hmm… we'd better get going; give Logan time to put any information together." Bling said.
"Yeah, thanks for stopping over. I'll be in touch."
Despite his earlier comment, Bling lingered behind after Sung and Kennedy left. He wanted a chance to address Logan, but he waited respectfully in the other room as Max and Logan went over logistics regarding her role.
Finally finished with details, Logan returned to the previous conversation: "I meant what I said Max. I'm not going to let this be exposure for you. It's just this is probably the most important case Eyes Only has ever had and I need you to be the one to do this."
Although Max nodded at him, Logan felt the need to break through her aloofness, make her interact with him rather than just responding with placid indifference. "Besides, how many stunning brunettes does Eyes Only have working for him that could entice Peter Gregson?" He punctuated his statement with a half-smile that reached his eyes.
Giving him a slight smile and full eye-roll in response, Max responded: "Whatever… but let me just be clear about one thing. If this guy Gregson gives me any jewelry, I'm keeping it."
A full smile spread across Logan's face: "Fair-enough. And Max, be careful, he's a dangerous man."
Closing the door behind her, Logan let out a small sigh before heading back into the living room to talk with Bling.
As he began picking up everyone's wine glass, he asked. "Hey. You have any questions about maintaining the informant net?"
"Not really, just felt the need to drop a few observations at your doorstep."
"Yeah? I haven't had any of your pearls of wisdom in a while. What's on your mind?"
"Well I guess I wanted to ask you whether or not you're really okay with Max doing this?"
Logan frowned, as he met Bling's gaze. "I'm not thrilled about putting her identity out there, but it's a calculated risk."
"That's not what I meant."
"Oh?... Then what did you mean?"
Growing a little sterner at Logan's obtuseness, Bling pressed: "I mean about putting her in a position where she might feel pressured to sleep with some guy in order to gather information for Eyes Only."
"And let me repeat Bling, using Max is a calculated risk. But she can hold her own, she won't be forced into doing something physical with any guy"
"Maybe not physically Logan, but what do you think is going to happen if it takes longer than expected to get the information? It's not something that we usually acknowledge, but Max is an incredibly sexy woman; how many wealthy, playboys do you know that are going to wait weeks to sleep with her? If we're close to getting the information we need, and it becomes put out or get out situation, with thousands of lives in the balance, don't you think Max might feel a bit of pressure?"
"It won't take weeks; besides, Max is smart. She'll figure it out."
"You say that calmly now Logan; how are you going to feel three weeks into the project?"
"I don't like the situation Bling, but what else am I going to do?"
"Well for starters, you can let her know that you don't want her to sleep with him."
Logan began to feel his temper rise: "I did tell her that."
"No, you told her that it won't be necessary, you even implied that "Eyes Only" doesn't want her sleep with anyone for information, but did you let her know that you, Logan Cale, don't want her to sleep with Gregson or anyone else for that matter?"
"Bling! That's hardly relevant or…."
"Or what? Now I'm going to do you a favor before you begin with your 'we're not like that' bull. I'm going to let you know what you didn't see in this room when you told Max what you wanted her to do, and I'm going to tell you no matter how pissed off you get. That woman heard you, Logan, put her in a position where it seems like you didn't care whether or not some other guy took a run at her; in fact, she heard that you'd willingly convince her to be with someone else if the situation benefitted others. She saw a man who sees her as a weapon, not as a woman. Part of her knows that's you being you, but the other part, the part that's an unsure young woman with a lot of emotional baggage, can't figure out what's up, and she will protect herself from you if she needs to."
"Are you done?"
"No. Logan, you think you can give everything you are to the cause. And maybe you're right, you can. But just for a moment, I want you to consider what it's going to feel like to give Max to the cause. Picture another man touching her, and see how rational you can be."
Meeting Logan's clenched jaw and piercing gaze, Bling ventured on.
"One last point, and then I'll go. If that girl trades her body for the lives of three-thousand strangers I want you to acknowledge your own culpability in it, and don't you dare ever think of using it against her."
Logan didn't answer, and Bling didn't expect him to. He simply let himself out, remembering sometimes doing the right thing wasn't easy. The man left behind was his best living example of that.
Bling's words were still unpleasantly ringing in his ears when Logan met up with Max three days later to report on her progress. In fact, as she walked in still wearing her Jam pony gear, Logan had a difficult time banning the image of Peter Gregson pulling Max against him, to press against her lush lips.
It took a moment for him to register what she meant when she stated: "Phase one of mission accomplished, sir!" mock saluting him.
"Hmm… it went well with Gregson?"
"Yeah, well not at first. I thought when he signed for the package he didn't even notice me, and to be honest I didn't really have time to flirt before I was led back to the exit. But apparently he did, because he showed up at Jam Pony the next day."
"Well I have to ask Logan, do you rich guys get pulled aside at a certain age in school and taught how to come on to a woman? Cuz he took a few moves right out of your play book." Max's tone was light and teasing, but Logan found himself struggling a little for his usual deadpan.
"Why? He asked you to work for an under-ground cyber journalist?"
"No, but he did pay Normal off for my name and address and showed up to Crash later. I even got to recycle my 'And a guy walks into a bar line'. I had to say, I did get a little creeped out when he said I had the most beautiful face he'd ever seen, I mean he didn't use the word 'singularly' and their wasn't a neo-classic, gold-leafed mirror, but it definitely had that cocky, good-looking rich guy edge." Max smiled widely, enjoying herself.
It was the first time either of them had broached the subject of Logan's early seduction, followed by his revelation that he knew Max was a transgenic. Somehow, it had seemed taboo: as if both had exposed too much of their hand during that early encounter.
For Logan, the memory was tied with his lost ability to walk. He had felt that coming on to Max was a privilege one lost when one couldn't stand upright. Now, post-exo, post-regaining the ability to walk, the memory was buried under the guilt of having been cavalier with her feelings. He had wanted her when he had stood before that mirror; he had just wanted her as Sophie's protector more.
Remembering the way her face had turned to his, the heat radiating from her body, the confidence that she would let him touch her, Logan felt irrationally angry and territorial. Suppressing the feeling, his voice came out low and calm: "Did you ask him if he always came on that strong?"
Something about the way he said it made Max shiver; it reminded her of how exposed she felt when he'd turned away. Matching his tone, but adding the slightest bit of innuendo behind it, Max responded: "No, I already knew the answer to that, after all it wasn't my barcode he was trying to get a peek at."
Shaking herself mentally, Max reminded herself of the trillionth time that Logan and her weren't like that. It hadn't always been easy, but since her hook up with the pizza delivery boy, which she had hidden from Logan along with the realities of heat, Max had maintained more of a distance. It was either that or have her head explode.
The past few weeks, however, had become more difficult. More dinners, less Eyes Only missions, had led to some serious dancing around the issue. It had taken this latest event to remind her that Logan, obviously, didn't care if she hooked up with another guy.
So smiling slyly at him, Max continued in a more upbeat voice, "You know, I should get a cut of what I bring Normal. He really has nothing to complain about if I slack a little."
He smiled back, trying to play along. "You're quite the money maker for him."
Their eyes met and locked as feelings attempted to bubble through that one outlet.
Finally finding his voice, Logan spoke, more gently this time: "You know Max, I know that I asked you to do this, and I am grateful that you are, but…"
"But?" she gently pushed him.
"but.. I don't like the idea of this guy coming on to you. You know that right? I don't want you to feel uncomfortable or feel like you need to let him… to let him... I don't want you to feel pressured…that's all."
Perhaps it wasn't the most coherent confession, but for them it was a lot. It also contained enough ambiguity to not have to deal with any far reaching consequences.
For her part, Max gave him the reassurance he wanted: "Well you know, I think he has a thing for bitchiness, he was totally into it when I told I wasn't into self-centered, rich boys."
"Hmm… he's in for a treat then."
They were both fully smiling now.
"Since you owe me a favor, there is one thing I need you to do…."