A/N: Thanks for bearing with me. This story remains in progress, it's just slow going. Hopefully, I'll find the inspiration to finish sooner rather than later.
Within minutes she'd made up her mind. Tires screeching, she whipped the bike around and rocketed back to Sector 9. While it took her about 90 minutes to make it through checkpoints, she didn't worry about the hour. Logan barely slept, even less frequently at night. He was bent over the computer, completely engaged on the data streaming on the screen when she slid onto the back of his chair. He leaned his head back against her.
"I was hoping you'd come back tonight. Done already?"
She ruffled his hair slightly. "Yeah, I guess so. For tonight anyway."
He motioned toward the screen. "I'm almost done here. Do you want to take a bath?"
Max stood. "Yeah,"
"Hey," Logan sighed, grabbing for her hand. "I meant with me."
"Oh, right." She grinned. "That would be better. I'll get things ready while you finish." She walked back the hall into the bathroom and absently began drawing the bath in the humungous tub. Zack's earlier revelation about Logan's father shook her. Even now, as she reached out her hand to retrieve a towel from the closet, the slight tremor in her hand gave her away. Or it would have if Logan had been in the room. She clenched the offending hand into a tight fist. That wouldn't do at all. He was far too observant. He would start asking questions and she still hadn't decided what, if anything, she was going to tell him. Why was she always in this position – keeping secrets from Logan?
Before she could reconcile things in her own mind, he was heading down the hall toward her. "All set?"
"Yeah." She was smiling again now. "The water's not too hot, just right." She moved onto his lap as he pulled the shirt over his head, wrapping her arms around his neck. He slipped his hands under her shirt. She shrugged out of it as she leaned into his torso.
"Why is it that all we do is eat and take baths?" He inquired as her slid the two of them onto the ledge of the tub. She slinked out of her pants as she tugged on the bottoms of his. She shrugged but trained her eyes on him as she pushed him back into the warm suds.
"Well. I'm usually hungry and dirty, and you like to spend time with me."
"It's true that I don't mind the company," he affirmed as she sat back on his lap.
She tried to hold herself in the moment but felt her mind wandering – to Zack's folder and the small container she had tucked safely into her messenger bag. She walked herself back through the halls of Manticore. Had she seen Jonas before? No. She was sure of it. But his father? She didn't think so, but she'd never expected to, never thought of him in that context.
And how much would Logan need to know? She wouldn't actually have to tell him the entire story. She could even give him the sample for analysis, and they might not even need to endanger her brothers and sisters if Zack's research proved valid. And really, as long as it worked, why would he ever have to know? And if the issue ever came up, he'd understand why she'd kept this under her belt. Wouldn't he?
"…Bennett and Marianne are excited about the trip. Marianne hasn't been back since she graduated from USC more than 10 years ago. She wants to show you all the sights, well, what's left of them anyway. She gave me a whole list of things we 'just have to do' while we're there. I've never talked to her for more that about five minutes, but apparently all I had to do was mention Los Angeles."
Max blinked. The water was cooler and only wisps of bubble bath floated by her hand. Logan's hand reached up to slowly massage circles between her shoulder blades, working to bring her back to him. He knew where she'd been, it was where she always went. His hand traveled down her back. His arm wrapped firmly, protectively around her waist. He was offering security, a home. Max wanted that more than anything. She wanted it with him. How could she build their house on lies?
She pulled his hand to her lips and kissed it as she slipped off his lap to a seated position beside him. "Sorry. I was…" she started.
"I know. It's okay. You're safe here, Max."
She leaned her head against his shoulder. "Mmm," was all she could bring herself to give as an answer. She reached forward and added more hot water to the tub, giving them another ten or fifteen minutes of soaking before they moved into the bedroom.
Once he was sleeping soundly, she detangled her limbs from his and tiptoed down the hall. The boiler's sibilant hisses and the moaning of the floorboard in front of the living room window held even her catlike reflexes on edge. She hadn't charged herself with keeping secrets from Logan for months, and she didn't enjoy the feel of it now.
She reached into her bag to retrieve the small plastic container containing Zack's DNA. Turning it in her hands in the glow of the city's lights, she again weighed her options. She'd racked her brain to think of a way to have the sample analyzed without Logan finding out that she'd gone behind his back. No luck. She'd have to give it to him. But she'd tell him nothing else. Zack's rant may have been nothing more than jealousy, although she doubted it. She needed more information before she implicated Logan's father as a Manticore contrubitor and conspirator. There were other sources of information out there, like Sebastian, who could help her achieve verification. But it would take time. And by then, maybe Logan could meet her eye to eye and the blow of betrayal wouldn't sting quite so much.