Free will ... Maybe I am relying too much on the fact that Max was able to be herself while she was back at Manticore. But Logan's here more like Zack was in S1, fighting them back, but eventually broken and failing to what he defended.
I do think, however, Manticore can do way more to turn Logan to their side. At the same time, I do believe human mind is as complex as fascinating... So I think someone, maybe very special, can come up victorious in a battle like this. And Logan is, certainly, not just some ordinary guy.
After months surviving tortures that still tormented him, he had no idea what to expect anymore. The woman had been right about one thing, though; maybe Max and he had never talked about it, but working for Manticore was definitely out of the question. So, why did she insist?
Fighting hard against his own weakness, his body was only strong enough to let him sit at the edge of the so-called bed. He craved sleep, natural, not drug inducted sleep, but he needed to think a bit before allowing himself such freedom. Why did she insist, if she knew that there was nothing that could convince him? It didn't matter how much he thought about it, he was certain they couldn't offer anything appealing to him, someone who'd had everything in his life.
Pondering all his options, which weren't many, he realized two things. One, that he was beyond any suicidal thought, and dying, even in the worst of circumstances, was not an attractive idea anymore. Two, surrendering was not an option, which collided with One, since he considered impossible to live much longer if he didn't provide the desired support to Manticore's cause.
It was only a matter of time, he knew, before they grew bored and started to break into him again. All he had was the hope it would happen in a far away future.
It was not the first time a quid pro quo went that way for him. Before, with Max, he had received more before he could give something in return. This time, however, as he stretched his not-really-used-for-a-while legs, he was more than ready to enjoy whatever Manticore would give to him, because, no matter what happened next, a) he was not working for them, and b) he was not fucking working for them.
He had no price and, for the first time in months, he felt powerful, like he could defeat them.
For three weeks he was treated so kindly that, even when he saw it coming, he had trouble accepting that they would return to the routine of his early days in the facilities. People had been fired, he guessed at seeing the doctors' faces, which weren't even vaguely familiar. The game returned at its best, and he started losing as soon as they penetrated the first layer of his mind.
Eventually, he lost track of time. Every day they tore him into pieces, only to pull him back together and follow the same procedure the morning after. It hurt him in ways he never thought possible, sometimes the simple task of remembering who the hell he was could give him a splitting headache.
Logan Cale. Eyes Only. Eyes...
He shut his green orbs in silent agony, and the only thing that would bring him peace was nothing but the biggest one that would bring him the pain. Right there, in his loneliness, he relived every moment with her, both the sweet and the bitter ones, repeating the three letters of her name until it settled back in the depths of his mind, in those places which he thought, rather hoped, that would be untouchable.
Sometimes, in the soothing darkness of the night, he could hear her soft voice, repeating her very last words. Don't leave me. He didn't want to, they obliged him to, and now his only moment of genuine happiness was an old dream that no one ever spoke about. In the orange world in which they were, the only possible thing to do was to dance, endlessly, any sound drowned out by Sibelius' tune. He knew it was a dream; still, he didn't try to break the blissful spell in which he was because it was beautiful and perfect and everything he really wanted was there.
He knew it was a dream; he just didn't care.
Other times, when drugs were not strong enough to knock him out, he would be midly awake and her voice would fill the air in the form of shivery screams. She was not alone anymore, and his tormentors stopped being just Manticore doctors, but his previous informants. The names of his victims danced in front of his eyes, each person his folly had betrayed, every piece of information shared unintentionally - the damages he'd caused. Did Hannah notice they were after her and run away in time? Were Matt Sung's wife and child still alive? Truth to be told, he honestly doubted someone was going to come out clean of his crap.
And he thought saying he was Eyes Only would help them to decide to kill him faster, given the fact he had already been a pain in the ass for Manticore.
Eyes Only had only taken things away from him, his legs being the major example. It was bad enough, then, to also hurt people who trusted him, blindly, for good. If anything, the person he cared the most was the only one that would not be affected by anything he could say.
Max was dead already.
He weighted between his betrayal and the sense of loss. There was not really that much left for him in the world and, once again, he hated being alive. It was not fair for those losing everything on his count; it was not fair for someone that died fighting her own war. It was unfair for everybody, and he was still breathing.
They were winning.
Or so they thought.
His second task was as insignificant as the first one; he had to hack the security system of the same millionaire who was sticking his nose right where he should not. Except, this time, he put the right codes and the soldier he'd guided had come and gone undetected.
He hadn't liked the idea, to inflict more damage by actually helping them, but it made a lot of sense when he thought about it. How had he been so stupid? If he worked for them, he had the open door to their entire universe; he could just use his own magic and defeat them from within their walls.
It would not be easy, he knew it beforehand, but now, he finally had a plan, a mission, and it was certainly not one assigned by Manticore.
One day, sadly, he was discovered. He didn't know how (perhaps he let out something between dreams), but they foiled his plan by getting him out of their headquarters for another month or so. Once again, he'd forgotten what it felt to be destroyed, and once again, he remembered how it was.
They exceeded their intrusions, reaching a point where he no longer felt any pain. He waited patiently for them to get tired, to find something more important to do, if possible, than convince him to do something he refused. But saying yes would be easier...
But giving up is not an option, a voice said, the line between reality and fantasy so blurred that he could not tell if the words were his or hers. However, he obeyed his gut, and said no until his voice wasn't audible anymore.
"I've had enough of your shit," said the blonde in one of her visits, visibly annoyed. "Anything," she hissed, serpent-like, "I can give you anything you want in return."
There it was, her highest point of despair. He grinned to himself, remembering, as he always did, that there was nothing that she could give him. He had never asked for anything in return, and yet there he was, walking with the fluidity of a teenager, looking at the world with the acuity of an eagle. Even in the adversity he was submerged, he had more than many of those living in the outside, but there was nothing that could fill the emptiness inside him. He just wanted her.
So, for the first time, his only real request was not left as unspoken words. "I have an idea," and her eyes shone with an opportunity that had never been granted.
"Why don't you bring her back to me? Max, I mean. She comes right here all breathing and functional, and I'll do whatever you want."
And there, in the soberness of the moment, despite being devastated by the imminent truth of his perpetual loneliness, he wanted to laugh at the ridiculous look in her face. If that didn't say You can go to hell, I ain't working with you, he had no idea what did.
Less than five minutes later, however, his plan went straight to hell. Was he contemplating his obvious success, when a very live, surprised Max crossed the door. Jaw dropped to the ground, the excitement of her resurrection was only overcome by a single thought.
And if it doesn't make a lot of sense... Feel free to say so, since you're probably right. Almost each part between the lines was part of a previous attempt of this chapter, but none of them fully convinced me. This felt more like a character study, but it goes all plot-driven in the next instalment. So, see you there!