Mari's Christmas in July story... I managed to include everything except Logan fixing things... I hope you like. :D Merry Christmas.
She feels the first signs of the seizures half an hour before the end of her shift and goes straight to her locker to get her pills. Only, the bottle is empty and she desperately tries not to panic as she asks OC to cover for her.
''You okay, boo? You're trembling.'' OC isn't one to be fooled easily, but Max plasters a smile on her face, and does her best to dismiss her friend's worry. She knows that OC would gladly help, but she needs her to keep Normal from firing her for dissin' work again.
Her smile dies as soon as she turns away and starts for the door because she knows she'll never reach her place in time. She's not sure if Logan's still got a stash of her pills, but she hopes he can get some if he doesn't.
She hates this, hates her faulty brain chemistry and how helpless it makes her feel at times.
By the time she turns onto 1st Avenue, the seizures are bad enough to make her trip over her own feet every few steps, and she's so afraid she won't make it but keeps going because there's nothing else left to do.
She thinks of Jack, dead on the floor of their barrack and it hurts deep inside. The only thing she's ever been afraid of is dying alone, shaking uncontrollably until the very last.
Suddenly, she's down in Logan's garage and it's such a relief to step into the elevator that she might even cry. She punches the PH button and leans heavily against the wall, telling herself that she can't pass out now, just a few minutes away from safety.
The elevator door finally opens and she stumbles outside. Her vision fills with black spots and her ears are ringing, and when she finds herself on the floor, she's not sure how she got there, and the right side of her forehead is screaming in pain.
She just lays there, in the hallway in front of Logan's door, trying to figure out what just happened. Did she faint and hit her head or was it the pain that made her black out? She brings her hand up and feels a lump just under the hearline, and her fingers come away wet with blood. Her thoughts are jumbled but she's certain that X5s don't get concussions.
Still, she doesn't feel all that hot and her head really hurts, so she slowly sits up against the doorframe and knocks on Logan's door. At least the seizure stopped. It appears that the shock of a blow to the head actually made her brain work like it should.
She hears Logan pausing on the other side of the door and calls softly: ''It's me'', wincing as the pain intensifies for a moment, then goes back to dull pounding in her skull.
The door finally opens and she doesn't have to turn her head to the side to know that Logan's looking at her with a bewildered expression on his face.
''Hey'', she says as gently as possible because she knows by now that even that hurts.
''What happened?'' He asks, rolling out in the hallway and facing her. His eyes instantly focus on her forehead and when he stretches a hand toward her head, she doesn't move an inch, even though her first instinct is to pull away. His fingers slide in her hair as he cups her face and leans toward her to peer closely at her wound, and suddenly, all she can think about is that one kiss she stole from him and never forgot about.
''Max?'' He murmurs and she looks up at his eyes, realizing too late that it's the last thing she should do in her state, and when he's this close to her.
Logan's eyes aren't like any other she ever saw before, she knows that, but she's not certain they've ever been quite this close, just looking at each other. She often thinks about their color, though, debating with herself, sometimes thinking that they must be green, sometimes certain that they're blue, and sometimes, like right now, it's like they're changing color as she watches, completely spell-bound, reduced to a romanticized version of herself.
''Did someone attack you?'' Logan asks and the spell is broken, and Max looks away with immense relief. She tells herself it's all from the head injury, but a part of her knows it's just a catalyst.
''I think I hit my head on your doorframe'', she finally speaks, careful not to meet his questioning gaze.
''I got the shivers and must've fainted or something. It's no big dealio'', she finishes meekly, trying to play everything that happened down because his concern is making her feel funny inside.
Logan finally releases her and leans back in his chair, loooking at her a bit pensively.
She raises her eyebrows and winces.
''What?'' She asks cautiously, this time careful not to move any part of her face.
''Just trying to figure out the mehanics of getting you inside without having to call Bling'', he tells her, and although he looks unphased, Max knows that he's probably completely unhinged because he can't just scoop her up and carry her into his apartment. That image alone is almost enough to make her blush but she knows it's not meant to be and does her best to steer him away from those kind of thoughts.
''Hold your horses just yet, okay? I'm good where I am for now, and I doubt either of you could get me inside without making it hurt.''
''I thought you had a high tolerance for pain'', he says and she's sure he's just teasing, but she feels slightly offended.
''Maybe I spent too long outside of Manticore'', she tells him with a pointed look.
''I'm fine here, promise. At least as long as I don't move my head. Or smile, or raise my eyebrows'', she ads, chuckling involuntarily. ''Ouch.''
''Can I at least get you anything?'' He asks, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and looking at her forehead again. ''That may need stitches.''
''Not likely. Just let me sit here for a while and then you can clean me up.''
''Okay. I'll get you your pills and a glass of water'', he tells her and she mumbles her agreement, closing her eyes and sighing deeply.
When she opens them again, he's already back and she takes a few pills from his hand, the rush of his skin shifting something deep inside of her. She keeps telling herself that it's just the head injury, but every time she allows herself to look his way she sees colored kisses.
Logan sits with her in the hallway patiently and as time ticks away the pain subsides enough to make her wanna get up from the floor and stop being such a baby. Zack would be so dissapointed in her if he could see her now.
''I think I'm ready'', she says and looks at him sheepishly. ''I might need a hand though.''
She sees a brief flash of self-doubt in his eyes but then he shakes it off and comes as close to her as possible, locking the brakes and waiting for her to make the next move.
Max shifts slowly to her knees and braces herself against his without asking for permission or checking his reaction, trying not to move her head as she gets on her feet. She wavers only slightly, but his hands are instantly on her waist, steadying her so effortlessly as she braces herself against his shoulders because her head is spinning and she's suddenly breathless.
She's not sure if it's from his proximity or not, but she doesn't want to move away, she wants to be just like this, for as long as possible.
''Do you wanna sit down?'' He asks and her mind goes straight to the gutter. She's sure she's not in heat and knows that he doesn't mean his lap, but she's got a head injury and she can blaim everything on it tomorrow.
''Yes'', she answers, and to her immense surprise, he takes her hands from his shoulders and gently guides her to sit down into his lap, and she gets a strong urge to ask him who the hell is he and what did he do with Logan.
''Almost good as new'', she says a bit dazedly, because it's hard to concentrate when you have Logan Cale's strong arms around you and his lips are about 4.67 inches away from your own.
''One culinary miracle and I bet you will be'', he says and she smiles, forgetting that she's not supposed to if she wants to avoid the pain.
He rolls them both inside and she thinks: what pain?
She can tell that she won't be gettin' her miracle tonight two seconds after Logan picks up the phone. He's in his office and she's lying on the couch, nestled comfortably under the thick conforter with a fluffy pillow under her head, the pain gone as long as she doesn't make any sudden movements. She watches the emotions play across his face: first surprise, than concern and a little bit of fear followed with hurried determination.
''Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can'', he says and hangs up the phone, staring at it for a while before meeting her eyes across the room.
She refuses to ask but she knows that the evening is ruined.
''My uncle had a heart attack'', he says flatly, and Max is surprised that under the false bravado, he really cares.
''And you're going to the hospital? Right now?'' She asks, looking away. Any other night and she'd say ''whatever'' and storm out of there, but things have changed and she slowly sits up and watches him come closer.
''I have to.''
''Look… I know I said he's a bastard, but he's also family, and Bennett's freaking out because Margo already caused a scene and Marianne isn't there yet.''
''Fine. Go. But I'm coming with you and you still owe me my miracle'', she tells him and he's not even trying to argue, his eyes shining only with relief.
''You sure your head is okay?'' Logan asks as he pulls out from the garage and Max rolls her eyes even though she's secretly enjoying the attention.
''I'm not eight years old, Logan.''
''Fine'', he mutters and shifts the gears forcefully, and Max realizes for the first time that he's freaking out because the uncle who couldn't care less about him is probably gonna die.
There's silence for a while and then Logan apologizes and tells her that he's just worried, and that maybe she should've gone home instead of coming with him.
''I'm not letting you face the music alone, not after what happened last time'', she tells him, remembering the talk behind his back when he took her to his cousin's wedding.
''What about last time?''
Max just looks at him and he shrugs.
''That's just family stuff.''
''You didn't even hear all of it'', she argues and wonders how did they get here, fighting over his family.
''What did they say?'' He asks softly, and Max can't bring herself to tell him.
''It doesn't matter. I just think you should've stayed home too.''
''Whatever it was, they're family and you should understand why I'm going better than most people'', he raises his voice a little and she narrows her eyes angrily, gritting her teeth when her forehead protests.
''What's that supposed to mean?''
''You throw the word 'family' at me everytime there's a crisis with your siblings and I tell you to wait instead of going in without even considering the consequences'', he exclaims, clearly exasperated with her double standards. ''And it's not even dangerous what I'm doing'', he adds, his voice a little softer, but for same reason, Max just can't stop arguing with him over this.
''My family would do the same thing for me if I needed help, risking their lives without a second though, and yours didn't care enough to even come to visit you when you got shot and spent two months in a hospital!'' All this shouting is giving her a headache all over again and it's amazing how fast things can go from bliss to horror when the two of them are involved.
Logan pulls into the garage of Metro Medical and kills the engine, looking at her for a moment before speaking.
''How do you know they never came?''
Max rolls her eyes, trying to look nonchalant, realizing she slipped and revealed what she never intended to. ''You told me.''
''No, actually, I didn't.''
Max huffs and tries to think of a way out, and Logan's not taking his eyes off her.
''I kept an eye on you'', she finally admits softly, darting a look at him before going back to staring through the windshield. He just looks surprised.
''And I never saw you because?''
''Because I didn't want you to think that I felt guilty for what I've done. Or haven't done. It wasn't about that.''
She can't look at him. Of all the secrets she's kept from him, this one hurts the most because she's lying to him again. She feels guilty and she's not certain she'll ever get over it.
She thinks it's her fault he got shot, and she can't tell him that because she's deathly afraid he'll agree.
The silence gets to her and she finally looks at him, and there's a private half-smile on his face that breaks her heart. She watches him open the door and she can't believe he'll just let everything slide like this, but she's not gonna argue this time, so she quickly gets out from the car and waits for him to join her, a part of her knowing she's not in the clear yet.
Logan goes straight to the waiting room to talk with Margo and Bennett and Max stands just inside the door for a while like a silent guard, but no one seems to be rude with Logan so she goes down the hall, spotting Marianne next to a coffee machine. She looks annoyed and tired, but still smiles when she sees Max.
''Hey. You came with Logan?'' Marianne asks for the sake of asking and Max shrugs, leaning against the wall next to the machine.
''We were about to have dinner when Bennett called, and I had nothing better to do.''
''Nothing better to do than hang around a hospital?'' Marianne raises her well-groomed eyebrows and chuckles.
''I don't mind being here.''
And it's the absolute truth. She's not a fan of hospitals, but she doesn't hate them either. Compared to Manticore, they're heaven; a place where you can usually get better when there's something wrong with you, instead of getting worse for the sake of some bent experiment.
''I hate being here'', Marianne says, shivering a little and taking a sip of her coffee.
''How come you're not in there with Bennett?'' Max asks her, tilting her head toward the waiting room.
''I'm gathering the strenght to face Margo'', Marianne answers miserably, downing her coffee like a shot of whiskey and throwing the cup in the trash.
''Does Bennett even know you're here?''
''No'', Marianne says sheepishly and crosses her arms in front of her chest.
''Come on. I got your back'', Max starts back and Marianne follows, but Max is pretty sure she's holding her breath.
Logan looks astoundingly out of place in the waiting room. Max knows he's more used to coming to the hospital as a patient then as a visitor, at least lately, and it seems he just doesn't know what to do with himself. She sits in a chair next to him and nudges him with her shoulder.
''Yeah'', he replays, sitting up a little straighter.
''Do they know anything yet?''
''He's still in surgery.''
Max slumps lower in her seat because he's obviously not in the mood to talk to her, and wonders how much time are they going to spend here doing nothing.
Margo and Marianne are asleep, one on each of Bennett's shoulders, and Max catches Logan staring at them with strange longing written on his face.
She doesn't think she'll ever figure him out.
The doctor finally arrives about an hour later and tells them that ''Mr. Cale will be alright''. Margo demands to see her husband immediately and won't take no for an answer. The doctor looks genuinely frightened and lets her come with him, and Bennett chuckles as soon as she's out of the door.
''Leave it to mum to boss around even the hospital staff.''
Max glances at her watch and sees that it's already past 11 o'clock. Logan spends a few more minutes talking to Bennett and then they're finally out of there, and Max casts one last look at Logan's cousin, smiling to herself because Marianne is still sleeping on his shoulder.
''So… about you lurking around the hospital'', Logan starts as soon as they're back on the street. Max frowns, feeling stupid that she actually thought he'd let it slide.
''I was just watching your back'', she says defensively, staring at his profile and hoping to bully him into giving up his questioning. He meets her eyes steadily and she has to look away.
Max sighs and says nothing. What can she possibly tell him other than the truth she can't make herself form into words?
''Because I wanted to.''
She can see that it's not the kind of answer he expected, but it seems like he's satisfied with it, at least for now.
Neither of them speaks for the rest of the ride and Max wonders briefly if she should just tell him to leave her off on Seneca because it's almost midnight and he looks drained, but she still remembers the wild hope from the evening's start and can't make herself let it go yet.
''How's your head?'' Logan asks her and she smiles in the dark because it's so good to know that he cares.
She sits on the couch and waits for him to warm up their dinner, staring out at the city sky. It's dark blue tonight, not unlike Logan's eyes when he's angry or sad, or just very tired. Even though she probably looks lost in thought, Max is alert, ready to spring into action. She wants those feelings from a few hours ago back, wants to create that atmosphere of anticipation and endless opportunities again, and yet, she doesn't know how.
Half-way through their late-night dinner, she realizes that they've let other people's problems get between them again, and that there's no going back. Some other couple could probably get close again in a second, both phisically and mentally, but they're Max and Logan, and she knows that even if she reaches across the table and takes his hand in hers he'll just pull it away and pretend nothing's happened.
They're stuck where they are, not friends anymore and not something else yet, and she can't push it in either diraction. The only thing she can do is wait, and if she's patient enough, she's sure that they'll find their way to each other again.
Logan looks up from his plate and smiles at her, and as she smiles back, she knows that it will all be totally worth the wait.