Title: I Finally Understand

Author: Dark Roswellian Angel

Elizabeth McDowell

Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. If I did, "Dark Angel" would still be airing, and good times would be had for all. Well... almost all ;P

Copying/Downloading/Posting: Please let me know first, and let me know where my work will be posted as I would love to come visit it. Make sure that it is put under my name, as I would love to hear how others feel about it. Thanks ;)

Rating: K+.

Synopsis: It's taken him a long time, but Logan has finally realized something.

A/N: Those of you who know my writing know that I am not one who has difficulty with the concept of bashing Logan, which means that this fic is a little out of character for me. However, I was reading fe'nos tol's "Alphabet" G-Girl chapter and it got me to thinking. So, I guess you can credit that for this fic. Hope you like :)

I finally understand. I don't think I ever did before. Not really. I mean, I thought I did, but I guess I was... wrong. "Wrong." Now, there's an unfamiliar feeling. I usually make such a point of avoiding putting myself out there- I hide behind all sorts of things, just so that I never have to deal with that kind of blow. But now I know that I was. I was completely and totally wrong about her. And I never realized it until I saw her last night. I think that might have been the first time I ever really saw her. The real her.

I can remember perfectly the first time I saw her- the person she lets people see. Even with how quick it was, I saw a little piece of her. And she was beautiful. And flawed. And I couldn't wait to help her become a better person. And I guess maybe I did. But I ignored the person she was to begin with. I told myself that she was young and didn't know any better- that she'd been forced to grow up on her own, scavenging for food and shelter, hunting for a place to belong. That she needed me. And I guess, in some ways, she did.

I know that I helped her. Or at least I gave her an excuse to start facing life, to stop running away, to focus on other people and what they were going through. And I think she was more surprised than anyone else when she discovered that she actually cared. I can only imagine just how shocked, and then probably pissed, she was when she realized that she actually wanted to help other people. When she stopped focusing on the few people who had managed to make it into her "family," and started realizing that the world outside needed her. She would have considered it so inconvenient. I mean, how could she continue searching for her family if she had to stop and help every Joe Blow along the way? But now I wonder if she would have made all those changes even without me there. Because now I've seen the real her.

I told Alec that I had come to the conclusion that maybe I had been selfish, but I didn't really mean it. I think I only said it because I was trying to make him see how selfish he was being by taking her away from the person she counted on, who helped her be her best, who had become her rock and her foundation. But now I wonder if maybe I was right; because now I know that she's her own rock. She's strong without me. In fact, she's stronger than I am. Is it possible that she's my rock?

I had honestly thought that she needed me. When I looked at her, I couldn't help seeing the scared little girl who had lost her family one night over ten years ago. The naïve and excited child that she probably was until Manticore had taught her what it meant to be a soldier. I saw the beautiful young woman sitting on my couch as she tried to hide her pain and fear while her brain twisted and turned her body. I heard her ask me to stay with her, and every time I remembered those words, I promised again that I would. I wouldn't let her down. I'd be there and support her and help her.

But I didn't understand that she didn't need me to make her change. That she just needed someone to guard the door while she changed all on her own, while she learned to let the woman inside come out. Somehow I had missed that woman. I'd never noticed her. Maybe I had ignored her. Or maybe I'd been too scared of losing the lonely, needy, beautiful young woman that I'd grown accustomed to, and instead of admitting that she was no longer her, I simply pretended that she was. Maybe it was me who needed her. More than she ever needed me.

And I admit it- I needed her. I needed someone to help me forget what was going on in my life. And she helped me forget what I'd lost. My legs. My strength. The ability to claim that I could take care of myself and all the people I believed I was helping. The ability to claim that I didn't need anyone else. Until those shots shattered my spine, I had always felt a little invulnerable. And on the heels of finding out that I wasn't, Fate gave me a person who practically was. It was as though there were some strange sort of balance to the universe. I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I felt and looked on her as though she were merely an extension of me- of my body. An extension that I could do whatever I felt was best with. It was as though the universe had realized my physical limitations and had given me her so that I could accomplish more than I ever could have on my own. But there were still moments when I saw more than that.

It's not like she was ever just a tool for me to use in whatever manner I saw fit. She was also a beautiful young woman. And it was hard to overlook the respect, the admiration, and I'll even admit, the adoration she felt towards me. It was a heady feeling being put up so much higher than every other man she'd ever known. And I tried to fight how right it felt to be esteemed like that. But eventually, knowing that such an amazing creature practically reverenced me became an addiction. And I had to make sure that she knew just how wonderful and magnanimous I truly was- even though I'm not really. I just couldn't give up that feeling. I even went so far as to demand that she help me rescue Bruno Anselmo, the guy that shot me in the first place and tried to kill her, so that she could see just how important doing the right thing is to me. Kind of screwed up, I know, but there you have it. My ego suffered a major blow when I wasn't able to do all the things I had before, and she was there puffing it up for me again. I was willing to do just about anything to keep it like that.

So I guess I did. While I was telling both of us that I was helping her become a better person, the truth of the matter was that I was becoming a worse one. I was mistreating a wonderful person. I was criticizing her because she didn't want to put her neck out and save some nameless, faceless stranger. I was beating her down with the idea that she wasn't human and therefore, though I never actually said it, she wasn't as good as us. I was subconsciously trying to keep her the same person that she was when we first met because I knew how to deal with that person. I knew how to get what I wanted from her. But even with all that, she still changed. Or maybe she just let the real her out more. She became a loving, generous, supportive, strong, brilliant, colorful woman who is capable of taking on the world and winning. I wish I'd been open enough to watch that transformation- it must have been breathtaking.

I guess maybe that's a part of why I hate Alec. Because he was there for a lot of her changes- maybe even guarding the door. And his eyes were open. He saw all of them. Heck. Sometimes I wonder if he ever looked anywhere but straight at her. Not that I blame him. It's just really irritating to have to admit that your competition may be so much better suited for the prize. Anyway, I think he started watching her from some sense of self preservation- he needed to know how to act as a free man, and she was the closest thing to a role model that he could find. But some time soon after that, he began realizing, on some subconscious level of course, just how amazing she was. And that was it. She hooked him. Just like she hooked me. Except… with him it's a much truer hook. Because with him, it's based on who she really is, not just who he wants her to be. But I really don't want to get into that right now. Not that I really want to get back into me being wrong either, but that is a little more comfortable for me. At least for now.

So while I'm baring my soul, I suppose I should go more in depth on what happened last night. Because last night is what really changed everything. You see, last night she finally chose a side- her side. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The day started out pretty much the same as every other day. At least every other day since I'd lost almost all my money, been found out as Eyes Only by the government, and lost my home when a trained group of White's men destroyed it. I was working on some files dealing with the runes that had been appearing on Max's skin- predicting some sort of worldwide calamity, when I was interrupted by an urgent news bulletin. In amazement, I watched her soar over police officers' heads on a hover drone into a besieged Jam Pony. After the initial shock had worn off, I'd had two thoughts. The first was that things must be really, really bad for her to out herself to the whole world like that and I'd better get down there just as soon as I possibly could to help. The second was that she had just taken a stand on the side of the transgenics and was no longer pretending to be human- instead of taking a moment to consider the ramifications of her decision (like I probably should have) I immediately grabbed what protection I could and headed down there. I suppose I was still determined to show that I could be her Great Protector from all the big bads in the world. I really had no idea what I was getting into.

When I got down there, it was a war zone, to borrow Alec's verbiage. News crews from all over the place were determined to get their first shot of real live transgenics (as opposed to the edited footage from hover drones that they'd gotten from the police). A crowd had assembled- you'd swear they were being paid by White and his Familiars considering how excited they were at the idea of "killing themselves a bunch of transgenic scum." Sector police were doing what they could to keep the crowd under control; although from some of the looks they were shooting the building, some of them would have preferred to have joined them in ransacking the place. I saw one guy, I think his name was Ramon Clemente, who seemed to be taking charge of everything- I even saw him stand up to White. Quite impressively, actually. And, as I said, of course White was there- loving every single moment of the chaos. I wonder if he was imagining it as a preview of what it will be like when The Coming actually, well… comes. And there in the middle of it, taking control as though it were expected, keeping her people calm and protecting everyone was Max.

For a while I was able to pretend that it was still my Max- the girl who needed help and guidance, the girl who felt everything though she shared next to nothing, the girl who doubtless had gotten herself into this mess because she felt responsible for every single stupid mistake one of the transgenics or transhumans ever made because she was the one that had set them free. You know, if I'd been paying more attention, I probably would have realized just how important that responsibility is, and how it sets her apart from all the others, and how it makes her stronger than I ever gave her credit for. I don't know if I'd be able to survive the weight of all that responsibility. But I was still shutting my eyes to the real her at that point, so I didn't put all that together. Not yet anyway.

When White betrayed them and Cece was killed, I noticed a difference in how she was acting. She was leading these people, the genetically-engineered as well as the humans, and they were letting her. It was as though it were coming naturally to all of them. But I thought I could still see behind the mask she was showing them. I could see how scared she was and how vulnerable she felt. I could see how much she needed my support. I could see how she was really just pretending at being a leader and how she really had no idea what she was doing. I could see that she didn't really have control over any of it, which is why she needed me stepping in when Sketchy was threatened and why I had to be the one to tell Mole that she wasn't going to risk herself. Because I could see that she didn't have enough strength to do it on her own. What I couldn't see was that what I was seeing- that was the real mask.

Now I'm left wondering which one of us had created that mask. Did I create it because I wasn't ready to deal with the real her? Her strength, her power, her ability to make it on her own? The fact that she didn't really need me anymore? If she ever really did in the first place. Or did she make it because she was able to see into me more than I had ever been able to see into her? Could she have seen that I needed to be needed and created the person who would help me feel that way?

No, I don't believe that. I think that perhaps she started out as the person that I saw, and then when she realized that she was changing, she became scared of her own changes. She became scared of admitting that she wasn't the same person anymore because that would mean that our relationship would have to change too. Maybe she wasn't ready for that anymore than I was. And so she hid who she really was so that she wouldn't have to lose our… whatever we were… for as long as she could. Until something more important than me, than us, needed her. Until her people needed her.

I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that they automatically took her as their leader. From what I've been told during the past few hours, she's been running Terminal City for months now. She's been going out and getting supplies, organizing supply runs when she couldn't be there. She's been seeing to their needs and giving them their duties. From what I understand, between her going out and rescuing some of them herself and strategizing rescue attempts, she's responsible for half of them even making it there in the first place. And of course, Alec has been there for every second of it, dropping whatever else he might have been doing so that he could help her, becoming her Second in Command, as naturally as she became the CO. I'd almost say that he's become to her what she used to be to me, only it isn't quite like that. They're a team- a perfect, seamless, superhuman team.

One of the transgenics, I don't remember the name- Luke, maybe?- told me that it's almost like they communicate without talking. Like they were made on the same brain wave. Like they're part of each other. I don't know- I guess I didn't like what I was hearing, so I dismissed it. That was about a month ago. But now when people talk about them as though they're one person, I'm paying more attention. Now when Gem suggests the possibility that the reason they were put together as breeding partners was because they were designed to be together, I wonder if maybe she's right.

Not that Max would admit that- not yet anyway. Though I have to wonder how much longer it's going to take- I haven't missed the way she looks at him, or the way she defers to him when she finds out that he's already started dealing with a situation, or the way she says she needs to think something through while giving him a conspiratorial look and then they walk away together. No, I haven't missed how much their minds seem to turn to and work with each other. Not anymore than I've missed how much their bodies have increasingly seemed to turn to each other over the past year. The first night I met him, he got more physical contact from her than I've had ever since. Even if it was negative, even if she was trying to protect me, I couldn't help the jealousy that I felt even then. Because part of me realized that he had a part of her that I never would. He had the Manticore part of her- the part that she could never put into words to share, and even if she could she could never explain it to someone who hadn't lived it. He had her past and her secrets. He had her pain and her loneliness. He had her schemes and her… But over the past year, their arguments have turned playful, their punches have become caresses, their irritation has become affection. Not even I could have missed it, no matter how much I've tried to. But I'm digressing again.

Last night, while I was arguing with Mole on the merits of treating all people like people, ignoring our differences so that we could come together to affect a common good, Max was changing. Only this time was much faster, and nobody noticed it until she was suddenly standing taller and exuding this incredible self-confidence. And then she was ordering everyone to ignore what they could see and follow her- and the amazing thing was that they were doing it. Even the logic-first, listen-to-your-senses, go-by-the-book, follow-your-training group was following her with hardly an argument. And she saved their lives. For half a second, when I saw them following her lead, I felt like a proud papa watching his child succeed- I know it's sick, arrogant, conceited, pompous, condescending, and even a little incestuous, but there it is. And it really was only a split second, and then my mind was elsewhere. But I guess it kind of sums up the negative aspects of our relationship- I've considered myself her leader for so long that when she succeeds, I congratulate myself. Again, I just didn't see what was going on around me.

But now we come to the part where the blinders were ripped from my eyes. Finally. When we were in the room, and she was barking out orders, and she was watching with desperation in her eyes until she saw that Alec and Mole had made it upstairs safely, she turned to them and didn't even look at me. Well, her eyes went to me, but not for agreement or support or ideas on what to do. And that's when it happened and I finally saw it.

She took over- the real her. And she was magnificent. She was blaze and fury and speed and brutality. She was power and strategy and beauty and grace. She was the heat of anger mixed with the strength of love. She was the leader- she gave her orders, expected her lieutenants to follow through on them, and because she was a true leader, she had chosen capable men to count on. She knew they'd do their jobs because that was what she expected of them. And they knew they'd succeed because she believed in them. She was the true embodiment of a hero- the one person in all the world who will one day find a way to save all of our people.

And when I wasn't trying to deal with my own fight, I was watching them- the way they all worked together, as though they had always fought alongside each other, as though they'd been made for it. Which I guess they were, though it's hard to believe that even Manticore's upbringing could have brought them that degree of cohesion. No, unity like that requires a strong leader. It requires Max. So it didn't really surprise me later when they stood with her. I don't think they could have done any differently. Following her is a part of them now.

Two men almost died last night. The first was White, who deserved it. I was silently cheering Joshua on as he physically dismantled the man for what he had done to a pure and accepting girl. It was Max who had seen the bigger picture, who had stopped the dogman from exacting his revenge. Silently she promised him that one day he would be able to kill the man and begged him to forgive her for stopping him now. Audibly she explained why the human couldn't be discarded right then and there, and because she has become such an amazing strategist and has built up the trust of her followers, Joshua stopped. After witnessing his brute strength, I know that only Max's relationship with him was enough to make him listen to her. Her foresight may have made all the difference in the long run.

The second man who almost died was Alec. I was the only one who saw how close he was to losing, and I was surprised by his weakness. The girl who was attacking him shouldn't have been able to gain the upperhand. It took me two minutes that almost cost him his life to realize that his weakness was due to his earlier injury. He had stiff-upper-lipped it for Max's sake to the point where none of us had even given it a second thought. But we should have- he had been shot and he had been losing blood for hours. Now transgenics are capable of reproducing amazing amounts of blood within just a few hours, and their strength is remarkable, and the stem cells that they produce are skilled at rejuvenating damaged body parts, but that's all based on the idea that the hybrid gets a chance at some downtime. So after several hours of standing guard, obviously attempting to keep from letting Max down, his wound was taking a toll. Like I said, we all should have realized the trauma his body was experiencing. I'm almost grateful to know that I'm not the only blind one of the bunch. So, it made sense that he was faltering, and after finally realizing what dire straits he was falling into, I made my way over to him and helped out- rather impressively if I do say so myself. Especially for a human. (Hey, I still have an ego to support.)

And now as I think on it, I realize that though I didn't want to see him die, and I know that our side needs as many people on it as possible, and I know that he's an invaluable asset to our side, none of those reasons are why I saved him. I saved him for her- because she needs him. Because he has become her support and her rock. He understands her and calls to her logic when she begins to be overwhelmed or go overboard or doubt herself or when she simply needs to hear a voice other than her own in her head. He speaks to her heart when she's hurting or worrying or lonely or needs peace. He speaks to her body when she's tired and needs to find the strength to fight one more battle, to make one more stand, to hold the mantle of her leadership. And it's the real her that he talks to- to all sides of her, the human, the shark, the feline, and anything else that they mixed up in her cocktail- because he can speak all of their languages, because he has all the same parts mixed up in him. And all of those parts in him are in love with all of those parts in her. And not just the puppy-dog, romance-novel, exciting kind of love, but the real stuff. The through-thick-and-thin, up-times-and-down-times, to-the-end-of-the-world, supporting-even-when-you-don't-realize-you-need-it, follow-you-through-hell-and-back, forever type of stuff. The kind of stuff that I thought I'd had with Max. The kind of stuff that puts what I actually had with her to shame. Again, I wonder how long it's going to take for her to notice it.

And it's a hard realization to swallow, so even though I understand why he was having a hard time, I've made a point of ragging him on it several times now. Especially when Max was around. Petty, I know. But I never said that I'm not human, just that I usually keep myself in situations where I'll be right about something. And I'm still adjusting to the idea that she's not who I thought she was, which means that we're not quite as perfect a couple as I'd thought. Or at least wanted to think. And it means that she probably is, or will be, a perfect couple with someone else- someone like her. Who gets her. Completely. Which I don't.

There were two fatalities last night. One was Cece, who will be missed by her people and those who had gotten to know her at Jam Pony. I'm sorry to say that I never spent more than five minutes with the girl- she was part of Max's other life. A life that I didn't have any interest in getting to know because I was so busy pretending it didn't exist.

The other fatality was me. The me who had believed that we would be together. The me who had believed that we could get through anything. The me who had believed that we were meant to be. The me who had believed that the differences didn't make any difference. I had actually believed that all the things that were keeping us apart, all the things that made her different from any other girl I'd ever met, from any other person in the world, from me- that they all didn't matter. That we could overcome them. I had told myself that her DNA didn't matter, that her upbringing didn't matter, that her past didn't matter, that her family didn't matter. What I didn't get was that those differences all came together to make her who she was- the real her. So of course they mattered.

Her differences mattered when we met and she was a not-so-naturally-gifted catburglar. They mattered when she was working miracles for Eyes Only, and when she was standing up to me so that she could help her family. They mattered when she was stolen from me, and even more so when she was returned to me. They mattered as she realized that her world had just become larger and stranger. They mattered as she found her companion, her helpmate in a young man with soul-piercing hazel eyes that twinkle just a little bit more when they look at her. They mattered as she began taking on responsibility for her loved ones, him included. And they matter now as she begins her path towards taking the world to a brighter tomorrow.

And so as I feel a small hand sneak into mine and watch their flag raise to blow in the wind, I smile a bittersweet smile for what might have been. And as I comment, "Now look what you've done," to the girl who is changing the world for the better, I appreciate her strength- the strength that will leave her victorious. And as I feel her gently squeeze my hand through her leather and my latex, I feel our differences- the ones that I've tried to ignore. And as I feel her hand leave mine and watch her walk over to Alec with a smile on her face, one that matches the one he's wearing, I finally understand.