Full Moon and Empty Arms
Disclaimer: I am the owner of nothing related to Dark Angel, just the thoughts inside my head.
Archiving: Please ask first.
Summary: Max and Logan brood over the turn their lives have taken
Spoilers: Post-Designate This
Author's Notes: O.K, here we go again, another musical piece. I promised myself after putting together "Unfinished" I wouldn't do it again. But here it is. I was a little perturbed by the lack of emotion in Designate This so I felt compelled to fill in the blanks. I realize it's a little late, but anyone who's ever tried to keep up with one of my stories knows all too well how long it takes me to write anything. So much for being timely. I hope you still enjoy it.
Anyway, this time I've set it up so the story matches up with Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 in E Minor's 3rd movement, the slow movement. It's about 15 ½ minutes long. If you read at a moderately slow pace and speed up a little when the music does, it should match up. Don't rush. It helps to swallow between paragraphs, especially at the beginning and the end. There's a break in the music where I switch points of view. There, I think those are enough instructions. The title is actually that of a song based on the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor by the same composer and although the music didn't fit, I liked the name.
For all of you following my other epic of a story "New World, Old Ghosts" I appreciate your patience. I realise it's taking forever, but chapter four is with my trusty betas and since they are as busy as I am, things take a while, especially if you want it to be good. So as Bling says, "Patience in all things."
Thanks to Chris, Joy and Danae for your edits, your support and for just being there.
The sun bathed Puget Sound in a crimson wash as it disappeared behind the Olympic Mountains, its last rays painting the rippled water with a dazzling array of sparkles. The full moon had already appeared behind Mount Rainier, hanging like a silent beacon in the east. A lone figure perched atop the Space Needle, basking in the last precious rays of sunlight before the broken city below her was again shrouded in darkness.
The sounds of everyday life below slowly diminished as very few people dared brave the streets of Seattle after dark. As the din faded, another sound wound its way up to her ears, reaffirming that some people still tried to take back the night. It was music. Max inhaled deeply as the soft strains of a lone clarinet, complimented by whispering strings, brushed at her senses.
It had felt like an eternity since she had heard music. Not a single note was allowed within the walls of Manticore; especially not in her own private hell they had created for her since she had been taken back. The COs and other higher ups had realized over the years that music was an especially dangerous weapon that could undermine everything they had worked to build. It spoke directly to the soul, something their creations weren't supposed to have.
Max stood and walked to the edge of the roof. As she peered over the side, a small smile found its way to the corner of her lips. It was an open-air concert, an extreme rarity in these times when everyone was so focussed on survival that few took the time to enjoy life's simple pleasures. The long-since neglected stage at the base of The Needle had been repaired and was now occupied by an entire orchestra. The twinkling lights in the trees and the people huddled on the grass made for a magical scene, as if for this brief moment one could forget all the turmoil in the world outside the confines of this place.
Max focussed in on the conductor at the head of the stage and her smile broadened. She found herself enthralled by the rhythmic sway of his baton as it traced regular patterns in the air, as if drawing the music. The melody floated around her as her eyes slid shut, drawing her deep into her memories. As all but the music faded, she was met once again with the stark grey walls of Manticore. Her heart clenched as she remembered the despair that had threatened to consume her when she had realized she was back in her own little corner of hell.
Her smile had long-since faded and a lone tear escaped her lashes as the memories of the months of torture came rushing back in full force, flooding her senses with the pain, frustration, humiliation and fear that had been her life for what had felt like years. Absently, she traced the line of the scar that ran through the valley of her breasts and a new warmth seeped into her tired bones. They may have replaced her heart, but they could never replace her soul. She would never let them drag her back into the sea of oblivion her siblings shared. Her anchor to this world was too strong. She had something her siblings never had…someone who cared about her.
Even after everything, she was still afraid to use that one particular four-letter word to describe the feelings that welled up inside of her whenever she remembered the deep cerulean eyes that had kept her sane in her darkest moments.
Logan. She had filled the endless hours with memories of his eyes, so deep she could lose herself in them completely, ignoring the ever-present pain. At night she surrendered herself to memories of his gentle touch as he brushed a stray strand of hair from her face and his soft voice whispering in her ear 'I'm not going anywhere.'
It was those simple words that drove her escape, a desperate need to feel his strong arms around her and know he was indeed still there.
Seeing him again last night was like every fantasy come true. The world around her ground to a halt and she was lost in his gaze, his eyes shining with barely contained emotion a he regarded her as if she were a ghost. She couldn't breathe until his soft lips found hers. She was home.
Then it all came crashing down around her.
Max had never felt so helpless as she had watching Logan writhing violently on the floor in front of her as waves of pain coursed through him, literally dying from her touch. Watching, that's all she could do. As the hot knife of despair slashed through her heart at the realization of what she had become, Max also realized that virus or no virus, she would do anything to keep Logan safe… anything. Hell, she'd brought down Manticore as much for his sake as for her own.
Now, he was safe and she planned to keep it that way, regardless of the cost. But as she glanced up at the full moon, a thin veil of clouds passed over its calm face like the shadow that now shrouded her heart. Nagging questions ate at her mind, tormenting her with their possible answers. Were they really safe? Was just being safe enough for Logan? Was it enough for her? Logan's virus was cured, but Max was still the carrier of his death. How could they build a relationship when she could potentially kill him? Could they make this work without the simple comfort of a touch? Did she want to make this work?
Did she want to make this work? Those words swirled in her head, forcing her to face fears she thought she had successfully buried. With all the men in her life, she had managed to keep everyone at arms length, never letting them past the solid wall she had built around her heart.
But with Logan, it was different. He just kept pushing closer, finding the smallest crack in her armour and catching glimpses of her soul and soon, almost without realizing it, she found herself wanting him to see it.
Whether she was willing to admit it or not, he held her heart in the palm of his hand and the idea of letting anyone that close scared the hell out of her. Could she show him all her faults and demons and still expect him not to walk away? Logan thought he knew her, all of her, but did he really? How could he when she didn't even know herself?
'Know your enemy.' The mantra of her so-called childhood rode the surging wave of her emotions like the music surging around her, as she realised that of Lydecker, Renfro and all the other monsters under the bed, she was, in fact, her own worst enemy. Not even God knew what was hiding in this genetic stew that was her body. How could she know her body wouldn't betray her like it did Brin and leave her to waste away to nothing? How did she know her mind wouldn't betray her like it did Ben, making her a threat to all she held dear.
She sighed resignedly as the music continued to build. She already was a threat to all she held dear. She was Logan's death. He deserved better than this… better than her. Agitatedly, she began to pace across the roof of The Needle as the music continued to swirl around her in the gathering maritime breeze, her mind whirling with possibilities. Without her, Logan had been free to start a new life… a normal life, with a wife and two point five kids and a dog. A life where he wouldn't be constantly looking over his shoulder, wondering when the next shoe would drop. Her heart clenched painfully in her chest as she finally faced the fact that she could never give him that life. No matter how hard she tried to fight it, or run from it, the truth was always there. She wasn't a normal girl. She was just someone's flawed idea of perfection, a chimera… not even human.
'Don't you see, 452? You're poison. You destroy everyone that you love.' Max shook her heard violently as Renfro's words echoed across her mind, tormenting her with their inherent truths. Logan really would be better off if she just walked out his life for good.
As the music swelled to a dramatic climax, her heart screamed through the analytical detachment of her mind. With a cry of frustration, she sat back down dejectedly as two glistening tears escaped her lashes, tracing hot trails down her smudged cheeks, and a strangled sob tore from her throat. Her heart knew she couldn't leave. Phoney sentimentality or not, she could never walk away from him. He was the reason she had fought so hard to survive. He had found her soul and touched her heart. Without him, she truly was all they had tried to make her… a machine. She would find a way to fix this. Fix them.
Forever Eyes. Logan's poem, which had brought her such comfort in her dark hours, now rang with foreboding. That was all she could be with Logan right now, eyes, watching over him until they could see their way out of the dark.
As the orchestra slowly returned to life with the soft strains of a single French horn, a tall figure stood apart from the crowd, leaning heavily against a tree on the edge of the grassy clearing at the base of The Needle. Despite the support of the exoskeleton, his legs, weakened from the effects of the virus and the turmoil of the last few days, threatened to give out from beneath him. Sighing heavily, he slid down the rough trunk and settled himself on the dew-tinged grass at the base of the tree.
In the space of what had felt like a heartbeat, Logan Cale's entire world had changed. Max was back.
As the flute picked up the theme yet again, Logan's eyes slid shut as the painful memories of those last moments with her in the forest surrounding Manticore washed over his senses. The sorrow tore at his heart still as he remembered the feel of her last breaths on his face, warming his tear-stained cheeks.
Never had he felt so alone than in those days following her death. He remembered his gun, lying in the drawer next to his computer, waiting for him, calling to him to join her. But he couldn't. He had a job to finish… for her. In time he'd called on the help of an old friend, Asha to provide the legwork to finish his job. She had sensed his loneliness and tried to fill the void, but she never would. She wasn't Max.
Then, last night, the unimaginable happened. Max had returned… to him. He didn't know how it happened and he didn't care. Seeing her standing there, holding her in his arms, feeling his lips again against hers, it had been his wildest dream come true.
All too quickly, that dream became a nightmare. Yes Max had returned, only be wrenched from his arms yet again by the cruellest of tortures. Now they stood, so close yet a million miles away.
Gazing out over the crowd before him, Logan's heart ached for what he couldn't have. Couples leaned into each other, seeking comfort in each other's warmth. As he looked on from his perch beneath the tree, Logan felt a deep chill wrap around his body like the shadows of the night, doubt lapping at his heart as the music continued its melancholic strains.
What was to become of them? They had spent a little over a year dancing circles around each other. With every step forward came a leap back as if singed by the fire that burned between them. It was an enigma that fire, burning from antagonism to frustration to desire to passion and now into love. Yes, he loved Max. Logan was sure of it now. Somewhere deep in his heart, behind all the insecurities, it had always been there. He would regret forever that it took losing Max for that love to break out of its hiding place and now that she was back, just within reach, all the insecurities came flooding back. Would it be enough?
Would just loving her be enough? Could they be safe here in Seattle? Could they be safe anywhere? Could he give her the life she wanted? The life she deserved? Here he was the masked crusader, fighting for justice and constantly looking over his shoulder, waiting for someone to find him out. Max deserved better than that. She deserved the normal life she'd never been allowed to have, with a family and security. Logan wasn't sure he could ever give that to her. Especially now with this virus hanging over their heads. What he wouldn't give to be able to wrap his arms around her and just hold her until all the fear and uncertainty subsided, to let her know that no matter what fate threw at them, he wouldn't leave her.
But as the orchestra echoed the warmth that grew in his heart as his mind filled with the vision of Max in his arms, one more icy finger of doubt grazed his senses and stopped his heart with the two questions he was afraid to ask. Was he really what she wanted? Did she love him too?
Did she love him too? For one shining moment all those months ago, he'd allowed himself to believe that she did. Now his doubts threatened to overcome him. Sure, she'd come back to him… to warn him. What if things had changed? She had just been through hell and back again. Was she still his Max?
Then, as if in answer to his desperate query, the memory of last night's kiss came surging over his senses as the wave of music built to another heart-wrenching crescendo. He sighed involuntarily, remembering the softness of her lips on his, the silky strands of her hair tangled in his fingers. He drew in a breath and could've sworn he could smell her on the gentle breeze that coaxed the leaves overhead into a tender dance.
For one delicious moment, he lost himself in the feel of Max around him, drugging his senses as the symphony carried him on. But in the haze of desire that clouded his mind, one memory stood out from all the rest.
She did love him, whether she was willing to admit it or not. He'd felt it, in all the fervour and tightly reigned emotion behind that kiss. He was sure of it now. It had been fleeting, but he'd felt it and his heart swelled at the realization. Even now, as he remembered watching her retreat again behind the walls she had painstakingly rebuilt around her heart, Logan knew all wasn't lost. Her eyes belied the truth. It was still there deep in her heart. She was his Max and he'd fight to get her back.
Patience in all things. Bling's words echoed in his mind, bringing a wry smile to his lips. Logan had never been known for his patience, but for Max he would wait, until they found a way around this virus… until they found a way through their fears. After having lost her once, he was damned if he would lose her again… ever.
Logan paused in his thoughts and turned his attention to the music for the first time that evening, which had calmed to a soothing air. It was Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. The Russian composer was often considered the 'Last of the Great Romantics'. Everything he wrote was imbued with such passion and longing. Suddenly amazed at how well it mimicked all the emotions broiling within him, Logan wished he could share this moment with Max. He tipped his gaze skyward as the orchestra provided the soundtrack for the twinkling stars dancing behind the hulking shadow of The Needle.
Studying the tower silhouetted against the night sky, he strained to see the top, wondering if she was up there, watching over the city, sharing the night with him. He'd been coming here for months, seeking refuge from the pain that had haunted him since that horrific night when his world had come crashing down around him. He remembered many a night sitting on the roof of the Needle, despite his fear of heights, watching over Seattle, seeing life as Max had seen it for the first time. He had always felt closest to her here, but tonight he didn't go up. Tonight and from now on it again belonged to Max. His smile spread into a grin at the thought. Knowing that she could be there suddenly made everything that much brighter.
As the last strains of Rachmaninov's opus drifted their way up to her ears, Max felt a strange new sensation creep into her soul, a sudden feeling that she wasn't alone in the darkness. Soothing warmth wrapped around her, like the arms of a lover and she settled back into it relishing in its comforting embrace. Glancing up at the full moon, raining its light over the broken city, she could feel his presence and she welcomed it. And so they sat, together, yet so far apart as the moon and the stars watched over them both, blinking out, one by one and the final notes faded into the night.