Max looked up from where her head rested on Logan's shoulder as they danced. "I was thinking..."

Logan spun her out and back to him. "You were thinking?" he asked in the same soft voice.

"You know how we never rush things. With us." Her large eyes were wide with the expression she got when she forced herself to say something she didn't want to talk about.

"Yeah." Logan waited for the cold feet, waited for her to say "I can't do this anymore," their mantra when things got too emotional too fast. Having a ticking clock in the background of this, their only opportunity to touch, had them moving at lightspeed.

"It always seems to bite us in the ass."

Logan wasn't expecting that, and he pulled her closer to him before she could change her mind. He could feel the lithe lines of her muscles through their clothes, an inhuman heat to her body. "We're smart people, wouldn't you say?" he asked lightly.

"Genius," she shrugged, a shy smile starting to bloom on her lips.

He picked her up, then. "We don't make the same mistakes twice." Max thought that, all things considered, it would be easier and more efficient if she were to carry him toward the bedroom, but the part of her that wasn't transgenic loved every impractical moment of being in his very human, very straining arms.

She bounced when he dropped her onto his mattress, and he left with an order forbidding her to move as he went to retrieve their wine glasses. When he came back, he sat opposite her, taking a foot into his hand. The gesture was at once innocent and intimate, and it shattered her in a way she hadn't expected. In her world of brokenness and revved-up healing factor, it was probably the last thing she needed. But in her one night of happiness and normalcy, the casual touch from this man she cared so much about was delicious. Perfect. That is what she had asked him for, the perfect night, not to be wasted on a quickie.

They chatted idly, sharing whatever random anecdotes came to mind. She blushed as she told him about her first belt test at Manticore. She couldn't have been much older than 3 or 4, and she got nervous doing her forms in front of all the scary adults in suits before her, all of them dissecting her with a hypercritical eye. She turned the wrong way and her classmates giggled, so she kept turning, trying to find the right spot. She turned so much she made herself dizzy and fell down. Logan countered by recounting how he almost failed his freshman speech class in his fancy-pants college, nerves turning his carefully constructed argument into a Dr. Seuss story. A bad Dr. Seuss story.

Max grinned. "The great Eyes Only, reduced to pedantics."

Logan smiled back good-naturedly. "I don't do so well in front of a live audience." He tossed back the rest of his glass of wine. "Remember my cousin's wedding?"

"You pulled out of that one ok. You just needed the right inspiration." She paused and frowned. Sitting up--and pulling her foot back--she gulped what was left of her wine. "I have a confession."

Logan hated her confessions because they always had to do with some part of the vast government conspiracy that created her that he really didn't want to know about. The ill-tempered and homicidal siblings. The seizures. The heat. One step forward, two steps back, their mating dance. "Shoot," was all he said.

"When I was Manticore..." she trailed off, eyes wide and vulnerable again, and he knew she was forcing the story for his benefit. She held out her empty glass, and he refilled it, emptying their celebratory bottle. The silence stretched as she drained the glass. "That bitch put me in a box," she said softly, eyes distant. "And the only thing that kept me going was this." She produced a battered piece of paper from her pocket and unfolded it reverently. She handed it to Logan, watching as his eyebrows pulled together in confusion. "I stole it from you. I don't even know if you can read it anymore, but it's that poem you wrote about me. 'Forever eyes,' and all that." The quirk in her lips was back, and her dark eyes met his when he looked up. "Every day I was in that box, every day they tortured me for answers, I would say those words in my mind. Toward the end, there, I actually think I wore the words out."

"Wore them out?"

"Somebody's angel," she quoted. "I'm not."

"Not what?"

"Not an angel, for one," she said forcefully. "And I don't belong to 'somebody.' I have a home, now."

"Are you saying my poetry sucks?" he asked lightly. "Because that really doesn't make me want to get naked."

"I'm saying you owe me a new one," she teased right back. "And I can force you into nakedness if it comes to that, Mr. Cale."

His lips were on hers in an instant, and had she been human, she might have been caught off-guard. Instead she opened her mouth and leaned into the long-awaited kiss. Logan pulled her closer to him, and she straddled his lap. As he deepened the kiss, she had to grin; for once, she was in control of her urges. The hormonal need was still there, and the heady anticipation awakened, but for the first time in years, she could take her time and enjoy it.

And enjoy it she did, as Logan's tongue left her mouth and moved down to her neck and collar bone, teasing it under the neck of her shirt. Max let the shudder of pleasure trickle through her body and she found herself making a pleased humming noise. Slightly embarrassed by her outburst, she decided to regain a modicum of control, stripping Logan of his shirt. As soon as his head cleared the fabric, her lips were back to his, and she pulled him down on top of her to take advantage of his naked torso and her temporary ability to touch said torso.

Logan emitted a growl of pleasure as he settled atop Max, surprising her with the gutteral sound. She didn't imagine Eyes Only as the vocal kind, thinking instead that he would be as stoic and polite as ever. As his hands simultaneously wandered North and South, she realized she had a great deal to learn about this man, and only one night to do so. And with that thought spurring her ahead, she removed her top for him and wrapped her legs around his hips as a pointed suggestion.

If they had learned anything from their relationship, it was the art of self-denial, and their hands began some sort of perverse game with the goal to send the other over the edge first. It ended as a draw, though, both of them giving in to desires cultivated over the nearly two years they'd known each other.

They lay in each other's arms afterwards, giggling again as they told meaningless stories, gearing up for round two. This time, liberal pauses were taken for kisses, and Max would frequently shift her legs or brush her hand along Logan's belly button to assure herself that they were still touching along the entire length of their bodies. She couldn't remember ever having stayed naked in a man's bed for this long and was pleased at the way it made her feel so decadent. Logan couldn't remember ever feeling quite as deeply connected to another person, even when he thought he loved his ex-wife. He didn't need to be a millionaire playboy, or a vision of morality for Max. He didn't even need to be able to walk.

"I wanted to tell you something," she began, searching his eyes for encouragement.

"Me too."

Joshua took that exact, magical moment to let himself in and tell them about a transgenic emergency they just had to clean up. From his frantic tone of voice, it was urgent. The words would have to wait.

By dawn, their clock had run down, and it felt like an ocean had come between them again. The words of love they had saved all night were angrily hurled at one another in lieu of blame for a perfect night gone so horribly wrong. One step forward, two steps back.

Max finally made it to work around midmorning, and one scathing look toward Alec invited him not to say anything. Ignoring Normal's trite adage about timeliness, she stalked to her locker, slamming it open to advertise her chosen mood for the day. A piece of paper fluttered to the floor, and she bent to pick it up. It was folded once, neatly and simply, down the center, with a man's handwriting hidden within.

Forever heart


my angel will always fly home to me