AN: I don't own Dark Angel, or any of the character.
This is just a one shot, set after the episode 'Pollo Loco' in season one. I haven't written anything for quite a while, so be gentle. I've recently converted my boyfriend into a fan, which wasn't hard to be honest. All i had to say was Jessica Alba's in it, and we got through the first season in a week :P It gave me an excuse to watch it again, and I've been constructing what I think could be a really good fic in my head that I'm dying to write. So i decided to do a quick one shot first, and see how bad I've gotten. It's a bit clumsy, but I'm quite happy with it. Reviews and criticism are very welcome :)
I know who you are
Logan looked down at the photographs in his hands, his heart sinking as the images registered and seared themselves into his brain. The young X5's, blood smeared and empty eyed. The lifeless corpse, bent and broken, his left arm dislocated and jutting out at an awkward angle. His face was fixed in a horrified stare, his eyes were glazed over, and his slack mouth was still open in preparation for a final scream that was never vocalized. His head was lulled back unnaturally to expose his brutally torn out jugular. And Max, almost unrecognizable to him, her full lips dripping with blood after delivering that fatal animalistic injury.
He stared at the last image, trying to catch any glimpse of the girl he knew, but her eyes were dead. There was nothing behind them. Lydecker's words echoed in his head. She was a killer, genetically bred and nurtured that way. All it took was a trigger.
Logan clenched his jaw and stuffed the photographs back into the envelope, trying to dispel the wave of nausea and betrayal that seized his stomach as he forced himself to look at her.
Max was gazing out of the window, through the drizzle of rain and the depressing dullness of the early evening. He took in her tiny form, wrapped in his oversized red robe, and clutching an untouched cup of tea that had long since cooled to an undrinkable temperature. His eyes met hers in the reflection, and he found himself caught somewhere between sympathy and revulsion.
Her face was ashen and her huge dark eyes were resigned. The sorrow there was unmistakable. The steady flow of tears shook her entire body as she sobbed silently. She held his gaze, as if trying to predict the reaction he was yet to give. Logan swallowed the lump in his throat, and sympathy won.
"Do you want some more tea?" he asked, not recognizing the sound of his own voice.
It came out harsher than he intended, betraying the raw confusion and disgust the photographs had instilled in him.
"No thanks." Max murmured, pretending not to notice his tone.
She slowly turned around and placed the cold cup on the table, the quiet clink emphasizing the uneasy silence between them. The only other sound was the gentle creak as the wooden floorboards moved underneath Logan's wheelchair, while he uneasily paced back and forth.
"Are you sure?" he asked half-heartedly, at a complete loss for what to say. "It might make you feel better."
Max's lips twisted into a non-smile.
"Logan, I just murdered my brother. I really doubt a good dose of caffeine is gonna make all that much difference."
He opened his mouth and then closed it again, fixing his gaze on the floor.
"I'm sorry." She breathed, exhaling shakily.
"Can I do anything?" Logan asked genuinely.
He was used to feeling more than slightly redundant since being refined to the wheelchair. Watching Max take out 12 armed guys without breaking a sweat while he sat tight twiddling his thumbs was emasculating to say the least. But he wasn't used to feeling so completely helpless. He couldn't find the words to even try to understand, let alone help her.
Max met his eyes, and gazed at him hard.
"Can you make me normal?" she choked. "… Can you take away the first 9 years of my life? Can you wash the blood from my hands?"
She broke into a fresh wave of tears, and Logan instinctively moved closer.
"Don't!" she yelped as he moved his hand to cover hers.
He pulled away.
"I get it. You can't understand this… me… and I can't expect you to."
Logan closed his eyes, and sighed, feeling the guilt wash over him. Of course she'd figured him out within seconds. She knew exactly what was in his head. The fear, the disgust, the misplaced feeling of betrayal. And of course she was strong enough to voice them.
"So help me understand." He said returning her stare defiantly.
"I'm poison." She stated almost matter of factly. "The best thing you can do is stay away from me. And you know it."
"That's not going to happen." He said assertively, unwilling to entertain the idea of losing her. Just the thought terrified him, and he wasn't prepared to linger on it.
"You don't know what I'm capable of." She whispered, echoing Lydecker's words. "What I've done."
"You do what you have to do Max." Logan said, realizing it himself as he said it.
She looked down at her hands that were aggressively pulling stray threads from the robe. He noticed that she was shaking.
"And I had to kill my brother."
She tore at another thread, and it slowly unravelled. Logan realized that it was a perfect metaphor for her life. No matter how hard she tried to keep it together, she wasn't the one pulling the threads. She wasn't in control. Any number of people could tear apart the strange little life she had worked so hard to build without a moment's notice. Without a head-start.
"And in my fucked up existence; because of what I am, that's supposed to be ok. Just another day right?"
"Ben didn't want to go back to Manticore." Logan said gently. "You did the right thing."
"Maybe." She breathed. "But I shouldn't have been able to. How could I bring myself to do that to him?"
She raised her hands and inspected them, obviously seeing something that he couldn't. The blood that had dried there only hours before. The memory of a human neck snapping between them, with the ease of a brittle twig.
"This is what they wanted me to be." She spat. "It's in my genes, and I can't do anything about it. No matter how far I run, it's always gonna be there."
"Yes it will." Logan admitted his voice breaking.
"I'm poison." She repeated, not lifting her frustrated gaze from her shaking hands. "What makes me any better than the bad guys you hunt down? You can't right me Logan. I'm always gonna be wrong. I'm always-"
Logan reached forward and grabbed her hand, ripping it from her self-loathing stare, and forcing her to meet his eyes. He brought her tiny hand to his chest and held it there tightly, not able to bear her talking like this anymore.
"You're not like them." He choked. His voice was thick with emotion, but he had to get the words out. "Max… you had a choice. And you made the right one."
She made an attempt to pull her hand from his grip, but she allowed him to overpower her, and keep it in his.
"Anybody is capable of murder, given the right circumstances. We all have it in us. We don't all have the excuse of purpose built genetics and military training. But you chose to be someone else. You chose to be stronger."
His words were as much for him as they were for her. Those photographs, as grotesque as they were, were of somebody else. The girl Max could have been. She was brainwashed to think like a solider. A genetically perfect killing machine. And she had the strength of mind to rewire herself at aged nine. To teach herself everything she needed to know about the world, and leave that girl behind.
"What if I'm not strong enough?" she asked him weakly, her haunted eyes burning into his, pleading for him to give her the answers.
Logan sighed. Having Max in his life challenged his perceptions on almost everything. His opinions were clean cut, and he didn't like grey areas. But her entire existence was a grey area. And he was learning that more often than not, black and white blurred together under closer inspection, and it was getting harder and harder to categorize.
He placed his other hand on the side of her face, and gently brushed away the loose curls. Her eyes bore into his, and he was convinced that she could see right through his eyes and into his thoughts. He felt the familiar heat that always came with being close to her, and was suddenly aware that her hand was still clutched to his chest, and she could probably feel how fast his heart was beating.
"Then there's no hope for the rest of us." He told her, his voice barely above a whisper.
He became conscious of how close her face was to his, but neither made any attempt to move. He could feel her breath on his cheek, and knew her breathing was accelerated. He could see every pigment in those eyes, the honey tones swirled into the impossibly deep mahogany, and the little flecks of green that almost weren't there. He cupped her cheek gently, and slowly brought his lips to meet hers in a soft lingering kiss.
"Max I know exactly who you are," he told her tenderly, his eyes still closed. "And I'm not going anywhere."