Disclaimer: Don't own Dark Angel.
A/N: Originally written for as a birthday story for Griever, who wished for 'Logan in various states of undress'… and got this.
Young-Logan sized thanks to Shywr1ter for still having patience and time to weed out my mistakes and mis-writings after surviving the accent and all. Much appreciated:-)
He just has time to open the door and take off his cap before his father's glassy gaze hits him. An icy stream of winter air follows him, a chilling breeze over his hair which is trimmed to military shortness now that his mother is too ill to take care of these things.
Logan knows something is wrong with one look at his father, standing there lost and hesitant in the dim, grey afternoon light, so disturbingly unlike his usually energetic, confident self. It's not necessary for his dad to find words for their loss, his blank, helpless stare marking the terminal absence of his wife better than any empty terms.
Digging his fingers into the cap's soft, warm wool that always reminds Logan of his mother's sweaters, one thought is singing in his head even before the unbelieving sadness sets in.
If only he hadn't insisted on playing in the park today, the first snow luring him away from the gloomy tension that had taken over their house. If only he had come back an hour earlier, keeping his promise to help his dad with taking down the Christmas lights.
Now his mother is gone and there's no way to ever make up for his mistake.
When his dad dies, Logan is wearing his new, crimson-red swimming trunks with the Spiderman design, a trickle of water trailing down his back like an icy finger.
It's one of these glaringly bright summer days spent at the pool with his cousins, allowing him to forget everything around him with the burning sun on his skin and the neighbor girl's admiring smile at his perfect head-first dive.
But something about the disturbing softness of Uncle Jonas' voice, sneaking up on him from behind, unlike his habit of simply ignoring his nephew, has him on the edge. "Junior…"
Heart attack. Nothing they could do.
Before he can control himself, Logan's shoulders jerk in a sudden shiver, short and violent and coming from deep down where he grieves instinctively, even before really understanding Jonas' words.
It remains his only sign of weakness. The sobs which threaten to surface in choking gasps are strangled in the big, fluffy towel, tugging and hugging his almost-teenage body in a faint memory of his mother's bedtime ritual.
He is alone.
His first kiss feels like crazy sparks, electrifying him down to his feet, which are standing on the pier's wooden planks, warm and dry from days and days of summer sun. Their romance is over by the next month, just like it often is with a first summer fling, but that feeling of drunken elation will linger with Logan long into the rainy decay of autumn.
It's something he misses in Daphne's look years after, different from other girls before even though genuinely affectionate, something he would only learn to decipher almost a decade later. But she's a good friend, understands all of his family's snooty craziness and that is all he needs, all he dares to expect.
When a nurse comes in with a set of his own clothes some weeks after the shooting, it feels like getting back a part of his dignity. Logan never would have thought that he could be so relieved to see his old sweats, but after weeks and weeks of only the thin tissue of those sickly-blue hospital gowns protecting him from their prodding, it seems like the first step back to normalcy.
For a while he takes comfort in the worn familiarity and homely scent of his shirts and pants and sweaters, putting them on like layers of his old self that allow him to hide from the world.
He's oddly embarrassed when Bling, still in lecturing mode after one of their sessions, off-handedly remarks that he really doesn't need to hide in those wide sweaters. And even though he just shrugs it off, Logan still has enough grip on reality to note the changes too, how his shirts have a tighter fit now, how his initial hospital paleness has long been replaced by a healthy tan and stamina from all the hours over at the basketball court.
But he can't yet trust his own tentative impressions, can't yet find himself in that strong, charismatic man Bling seems to see.
He just needs time.
Sometimes, though, he catches something in Max's face that seems to be more than just amusement at their banter, almost like a glint of appreciation, that is gone before he can be sure. Then he tells himself that he must be crazy and deluded, that it would be foolish to believe that his stupid little fantasies could ever come true. And still, as much as he tries to be sensible and realistic, he can't quite wipe out that weakly tingling hope which is stubbornly pulsing up every time she smiles at him.
Waking up after his emergency surgery, Logan is insanely relieved to still be able to feel the stuffy hospital air on his bare arms, the faint breeze when Max stands up to leave after her first visit. She's taking with her the kiss and the dream and everything that happened, everything that urged him to wake up from his nearly fatal coma.
But then she starts to hum that bittersweet melody, her eyes suddenly far-away and puzzled… and Logan knows that things are going to be alright.
His feet, tingling in their new-won freedom, are bare when Max squeezes them, her stunned smile showing that she's as thrilled as him about this miraculous development.
Not hesitating a second, she shares her blood, delighted that her wacky genetics aren't all about killing. There, on the darkened wood of his table, it's her olive skin against his mild tan, their arms touching, their gaze hopeful and expectant about more than just his legs.
Shivering in the moist cold of Vertes's office in nothing but a pair of boxers, the doctor's coldly probing eyes remind him of how she acquired her expertise on nerve injury. Yet he's willing to take it, together with the whole hated hospital atmosphere of cables, monitors and antiseptic smell, if only it means being able to walk. Only a few minutes later his legs fail miserably to move the bike's pedals and he's losing hope, laughing at himself for daring to believe that life could ever be normal again.
On the day he tries to shoot himself he's wearing one of those old, comfortably worn pullovers, warm and scratching, as if trying to remind himself how the world feels like. And while his body is hungrily soaking up every tickle of sensation, Logan tries to think of all the reasons why he deserves to live, why Eyes Only needs to go on, why he can't do this to people… but in the end it's not enough. In the end, nothing seems better than what he has left.
There comes the time when every bit of bare skin around Max could mean his death. He becomes obsessed with wearing long-sleeves and turtlenecks, gloves and high-shafted boots, knowing it's the only way Max will keep seeing him. But even though he maintains a safe distance, tries his best to make her laugh she is drifting away in her horror of killing him and being left behind with all the guilt.
She used to smile and relax at the sight of him… now all Logan can make out is fear and sadness.
But then, after 473 days and the joined effort of a dozen transgenic super-brains, it's over and there, in one of Terminal City's few private rooms, they stand face to face, muted in awed happiness.
When Logan kisses Max for the first time after the virus, he's still protected by his old, run-down armor of clothes, but the glint in her eyes tells him that now they'll move on.
xxxx The End xxxx