Disclaimer: Characters courtesy of Dark Angel; no profits made.

A/N: It's November 11th, and Logan Cale's birthday – and tradition demands a birthday fic. Bowing to schedule, this is a quickly written, stream-of-consciousness S1 birthday fic, but it is as always heartfelt. Happy birthday, Loogie – we will always love you!

The Next Project

A review of the past three decades of Charles Brewer's financial dealings reveals a pattern of questionable conduct. With each succeeding purchase, Brewer bought out yet another small, struggling company and brought it into his corporation, killing the competition while making his ...

For several hours over the afternoon, the quiet of Logan's dusky domain had been disturbed only by the soft clatter of his keyboard as he focused on an article he was developing for the Pacific Free Press. So the thin beeping of his security code tapped into his system quickly caught his attention, as did the bubbling of feminine voices, the shifting sounds of market bags, and the energetic enthusiasm that followed immediately.

7 PM, already?

"Hey Logan!"

"Hey, Logan – "

He'd not even had a chance to stretch the kinks out of his neck before one, then two, grinning faces appeared around the partition from the hall, and in spite of himself he found their exuberance infectious. "Ladies," he leaned back, expectant.

"Happy birthday!" Kendra bubbled. "Are you ready for Max's amazing dinner she's going to make for you?"

He couldn't help himself; his eyes slid from Kendra's to Max and he saw the expected trepidation there, making it even harder not to chuckle his affection at the thought that this revved-up, designer ninja hadn't yet discovered how easy it was to make a great meal. "I am. And I can't think of anything Max does that isn't amazing."

"See?" Kendra giggled, bumping Max's hip conspiratorially as Max shot him a defensive look, clearly assessing if he were mocking her or not – and, from her next expression, apparently deciding he was not.

Logan relaxed a little and his smile broadened for them.

"I made you guys a little something – you know, for when you're out here creating," Logan backed up to move past them and on to the kitchen. Following him, the women found a plate of cheese and crackers and hummus waiting for them, with a carafe of wine and two glasses standing by.

"Oh, Logan, that's so sweet! Max, isn't that sweet?" Back still to them as he reached for the carafe and poured the first glass of wine, Logan grinned to himself as he imagined the looks they shot each other, and he suddenly realized he'd stumbled onto one of the oldest tricks in the book – one way to melt a hard-sell heart is to melt her girlfriend's...

He turned to them quickly enough to see Kendra still elbowing Max, grinning at this development and Max – Max, no less! – actually blushing slightly. He thought he gained extra points when he waved it away, handing a glass of wine to Kendra. "I figured you guys would be hungry, after work," he turned to pour a glass for Max, "so you should have something to take the edge off."

Just as he thought he saw Max's expression morph into an "I'm on to you, Logan Cale" look as she took the wine he offered, Kendra again filled the void. "Well, it's still awfully nice of you. So c'mon – Max, we have a dinner to make. Logan – shoo. Go make yourself comfortable, or work, or whatever, but shoo – it's going to be a surprise."

He grinned. "Okay. I'll just be in there..." he waved vaguely behind him, back toward his computer room. "Yell if you need anything."

"We will," Kendra said confidently.

He turned to go, and made it only a couple feet when he heard Max add, softly, "thanks, Logan."

He stopped and cast a glance over his shoulder to see Max looking at him with a warm, hopeful look, and that tug pulled in his chest to see it, that thing he had for Max, and he barely registered the beam brightening Kendra's face, behind Max, as his own grin widened. "Can't wait," he managed.

Three decades of Charles Brewer's financial dealings contributed to his questionable conduct. Purchase after purchase, Brewer bought out small, struggling companies to bring them into his corporation, killing the competition while making his hold on the trucking business even firmer.

Such a monopoly would have been dramatic enough without the financial crisis of the past decade, but given the events following the Pulse, with shortages in nearly all commodities and commercial transport falling victim to gasoline shortages, it has become apparent that virtually all goods...

Logan heard the sounds of pots and lids from his kitchen, drawers opening and shutting, and knives put to work. And hushed voices ... giggling ... voices less and less hushed, and more giggling, more quickly than he'd have imagined...

"Logan?" Kendra's head popped around his divider. "Do you have a steamer?"

"Yeah." As he started to back up, Kendra threw up her hands in alarm.

"No! You can't go in, or you'll see! Can you just tell me where?"

Stifling a grin, he nodded. "The cabinet under the island – far right, hall side of the island."

"Thanks!" She popped back out toward the kitchen.

Decades of Charles Brewer's financial dealings contributed to his questionable empire. With purchase after purchase, Brewer brought small, struggling companies into his corporation, killing the competition while making his hold on national trucking even firmer.

Bad enough without the financial crisis of the past decade, post-Pulse shortages in nearly all commodities and gasoline shortages have added to...


Max appeared in his doorway, her cheeks flushed warm, a spatter of white on her sleeve and a smudge of red-something on her cheek. He grinned to see it, helpless to prevent it.


"Should I just use your usual plates?"

He considered her less-than-typically-assured stance, and was again touched that she was worried what he would think of her efforts. "You could – or, if you want, you could get out my mom's china, over there..." He started back to the hallway but Max stepped in front of him.

"Kendra said you're not supposed to see." She looked apologetic, as if the whole girly-surprise thing was a bit beyond her but she'd been convinced that it was just the thing for her mission that evening.

"I promise I won't look – see, it's just over there, in the buffet," he gestured across the hall to his dining room. When she considered, then relented, he smiled as she stepped out of his way and he crossed into the dining room. Reaching in and pulling out one of the quilted china chests, he opened it and gazed at the milky, delicate china within. "I don't know if you want to use them – and they may need washing; I haven't used them for a while. But they're nice if you feel like a special occasion..."

He looked up to see Max's gaze on them as she reached over to brush her fingertips across the gleaming bone china. "They're beautiful." She said softly. "Would you like to have dinner on them?"

In her waiting expression, Logan could see Max recognized that memories had been raised by his mother's china, and that she wondered what the connection might mean for him. She was asking if such reminders would be a good or a bad thing for this day.

Another tug in his chest. Bigger, this time.

"Sure," he smiled easily. "She'd be glad to know we were using it, especially for a birthday."

Max's smile warmed the room as she let him show her the different pieces and sizes from which she could choose her table settings. And for the moment, his piece for the Free Press was the last thing on Logan's mind...

Charles Brewer's financial dealings ...

Small, struggling companies turned into a national monopoly on the trucking industry...

The perfect storm of post-Pulse shortages, gasoline shortages and his hold on trucking made it happen that virtually all goods are provided at the whim of Brewer and his companies...

Logan had scrapped his first draft and sat back to think about what he really wanted to say about Brewer. The current economic depression would have been bad regardless, but the man's lock on transportation for most consumer goods made things so much worse than they had to be, and, as far as anyone could tell, had all been done entirely legally.

Legal – but legitimate? If it could be shown that ...

That ...

Ah, what was that? Something smelled delicious...

Logan shook himself back to his work. Brewer. Right. If his purchases had been shady, if there was any way to attack...

Giggles. Again. And more giggles, certainly aided by the wine...

"Logan, we didn't mean to leave you out..." Kendra's head again popped around the partition, and Max came up behind her to hold out a glass of wine to him.

As he took it from her, his fingertips brushed hers, and he said, "thanks. Something smells amazing out there.."

Max smiled, almost shyly – and definitely relieved.

"It's all Max," Kendra lied enthusiastically.

Max blushed and rolled her eyes, but smiled wider, nonetheless.

"It won't be long now," Kendra added. "Twenty minutes, tops."

"I'm still willing to help," Logan offered. As Kendra noisily declined his assistance, Max just shrugged, and her quiet amid all the activity intrigued and touched him even more. He wondered momentarily if he'd left the candles out in an obvious enough place that they'd be found, as he'd hoped...

"Do you want some of the cheese or hummus? It's really good," Max piped up, suddenly.

He shook his head. "Saving my appetite for dinner," he grinned, to Kendra's squeal of delight and Max's reappearing, pleased blush.

"Then come on," Kendra demanded toward Max who stood rooted, still smiling haplessly at Logan, even grabbing her arm to pull Max back to the kitchen. "The sooner dinner is ready, the sooner you eat," Kendra's wine-fueled whisper carried easily to him as they disappeared, "and the sooner you get on with things..."

Logan blinked at that, wine glass frozen in space an inch from his lips. 'Get on with things?' He and Max? Was that just Kendra's idea – or Max's?

He took a fortifying gulp of wine too expensive to gulp as he did, wanting to catch up to them as soon as possible, hoping that he just might have need of the liquid courage it provided.

'Get on with things?'

It explained a lot – Kendra's enthusiasm ... Max's hopeful anticipation...

He took another gulp, and closed his files.

Brewer was on his own for the night, because, after all, it was his birthday... and at least for the evening, things were definitely looking up...

Happy Birthday, Logan Cale!