Banner by the lovely EMI.
Title: Dream Within
Author: Restive Nature (aka Bavite)
Disclaimer: All characters within this fiction are the property of Cameron/ Eglee. I just like to play with them.
Timeline: Six weeks after FN.
Summary: An unexpected accident causes Max to think about the future in a new way.
What Do I Know Of Love?
"Ugh, Logan," Max whispered as she pedaled through the slick streets on her way to the Sandeman house. "This had better be good," she sighed to herself. She glanced up at the black clouds hanging low in the sky. It had rained earlier, and Logan had called then, asking her to come over. She’d tried to put it off, claiming that she was busy with TC business. But then Joshua had appeared beside her at the video link-up and told her that everyone had reported in and his or her tasks were done. Then she’d tried to use the excuse that she didn’t want to run the risk of getting caught by the sector cops. They would just draw unnecessary attention to one of the few boltholes they had.
Logan had cajoled and pleaded with her. She’d tried to say no one more time, claiming her intense hatred of wetness that wasn’t confined to her bathtub. But Logan had quickly pointed out that the rain had stopped and she could be quick enough to get there before it started up again. And then Mole, with his big mouth, had agreed with him. Max had finally given in, but not before shooting Mole the death glare usually reserved for people that well, were about to die. He just laughed and stuck his stinky cigar back in his mouth. She might have convinced him to stay put and fight, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. And he let her know every day that he had a beef with her.
So now she was riding one of the bicycles they had stashed close to their little exit point, puddles splashing up about her feet as she pedaled and not liking it one bit. She was even slowing down a little bit more; the closer she got to Joshua’s old place. The new home of Eyes Only. Or the old home. After the siege at Terminal City began, one of their first priorities was getting all the humans out. The homeless who’d been holed up were mostly cleared out. But it was also important to get Original Cindy, Sketchy and Logan to safety, simply because they could not handle the bio-toxins there. O.C. and Sketchy were not eager by any means to leave, but understood the reasoning behind it. Only Logan had argued. His only defense, Joshua’s blood transfusion. But when one of the medics was checking him over, it was discovered that Joshua’s blood, while protecting him for now, also wasn’t replicating itself. Eventually, it would be what all other dead blood cells were, waste matter. And Max informed Logan in no uncertain terms that Joshua wasn’t there to be his personal blood bag.
So a week after the siege, they’d got Logan out. And Max had felt a great relief fall off her shoulders. It puzzled her at first and she kept telling herself that it was just relief that Logan was safer now. He wasn’t constantly at risk to being exposed to the virus. She’d been happy when he’d come up with the latex gloves idea, but had quickly realized that one minute hole in the material could cause instant heartache. But as her days continued to move past, as they prepared for a long-term holdout, finding supplies and saving more transgenics that were still making their way to TC, she found herself thinking of him less. So that when she actually did think of him, it was usually because he’d called, wanting to check in, or ask for her help.
She had to look deep inside herself and think about what this meant. And it slowly came to her. How every time she’d felt romantic with Logan it had been on the heels of a very dramatic moment. And realizing this, she was starting to wonder if her feelings weren’t love, but the mishmash of adrenaline. It was true, she’d always gotten a rush when she pulled off a good heist, or pulled the wool over someone’s eyes. And thinking back further, to before she knew Logan, she’d always been a little more affectionate with her friends after said adrenaline rushes. It stood to reason she’d feel the same with Logan. Maybe she’d just mistaken it for more, because she didn’t really think of Logan as a friend.
But in her life, there were few categories that people fit into. Strangers, obviously were the majority of the people in the world. There were her enemies. Manticore, sector cops and then White and his breeding cult. There were the people she worked with, or knew through work. There were her friends, the few that she cultivated and actually liked, namely O.C. and Sketchy. And then there were her boyfriends. And with very few exceptions, they’d been heat-induced nightmares that she’d tried to extricate herself from as quickly as possible.
So Logan wasn’t a stranger, as she obviously knew him. It was what he’d been in the beginning, until he’d forced his way into her life. He’d proven himself not to be her enemy by coming up with the quid pro quo arrangement. So at first he’d been one of the people she worked with. But she tried to make the distinction between her day job and the things she did to find her family. So he wasn’t a work acquaintance. And again, with his forcing himself into her life, he couldn’t be labeled a friend. To Max, friends were people that she had things in common with to an extent, that she liked and enjoyed spending time with. She grimaced ruefully at what that left. Boyfriend. And since he wasn’t some random guy she’d picked up, that meant she’d chosen him. But had she really?
She sighed softly as she realized again what this meant. It was no wonder that for over a year she’d denied ‘being like that’. They honestly weren’t. But she’d had long enough to brainwash herself that since he didn’t fit any of the other categories in her life, he had to be the one. Just as she’d drifted into settling into a life in Seattle, one thing she knew was overly dangerous, given the people constantly hunting her; she’d drifted into romance with Logan. And of course the stupid virus had to come along and make things as simple as shaking hands forbidden. All that jazz about fruit and such. It was no wonder she stuck in there so long with him. After all, she’d escaped in ’09 from Manticore because she’d been tempted by something that was denied her. Freedom and love.
But what did she know of love? Sure, she’d had the love of her Chimera siblings. So she knew about that. She shared a platonic love with her friends. So she knew that as well. And thanks to those damnable heat cycles, she knew the thrill of physical attraction. At least the initial stages of it. When the clear cold light of day hit, the attraction was lost. But at least she had something to go on. She supposed that if she were pressed to admit it, real love was the culmination of all three of those things. The trusting love that you had from family, where you knew that someone always had your back. The platonic love between friends that allowed you to relax and just be yourself without being judged. And the thrill of passion that burned in you day after day.
And she had to admit that honestly, she and Logan didn’t have any of those three things anymore. Logan as much as he might like to, just wasn’t able to protect her the way her siblings had. And while Logan professed to accept her, there were things buried so deep inside herself that she didn’t want to ever examine that Logan could never relate to. Not like someone could who had come from where she had. O.C. was a different matter. As an affirmed lesbian, Cindy had had to come to terms with things about herself, making her more receptive to understanding how the mind could go against the body. Need versus want. And lastly, the passion. Sure, at one time she’d thought Logan’s scruffy look had been cute. She wondered sometimes if he’d overheard her say that and deliberately cultivated it later.
She shuddered again to think that someone would be willing to change him or herself just to please another. The bike skidded to a stop as Max realized that that was exactly what she’d been doing. She’d been denying who she was, what she was, just to please Logan. Just to make things easier for him to look the other way. Right from day one she’d been doing that. She always went away from him to do her thing. When he was around, she restrained herself, trying to rely on her wits to deal with things. Once he left her vicinity, then things got physical, in one sense or another.
Max balanced herself carefully on the bike, leaning on her right foot as she chewed on her lower lip. For the last few months, she had had to face up to the reality that she and hers weren’t going to ever be accepted in the way she’d first tried. They would never be normal. They would always be a breed apart. But that didn’t lessen their right to live at all. And Max knew that because of the deepest sense of herself that she wouldn’t abandon them. It was a responsibility she’d been embracing for a long time. And it was the right thing to do. Not just to assuage her guilt for having caused this mess in the first place. But because her place was among them. What she’d told them all those weeks ago was true. She was tired of running and hiding. From others. From herself.
And as soon as she admitted it, she felt the last mantle of the burden of her dual life fall away. It was time to finish cutting the ties that were binding her. It was time to let Logan go. She smiled to herself ruefully. This time it felt good. Unlike the previous times when she declared that she’d told him it was over. Using tired old ploys to get away from him. This time she felt like she could fly. But first, she had to tell him. It was only fair. She lifted her foot from the road and propelled herself forward again. Freedom was a good thing. Now, if she just had someone she could share it with.
She shook her head. Here she was getting out of one relationship, just to want to jump into another. But this thing between her and Logan had been long dead and she was tired of the empty nights. She needed someone who could be there for her when she was strong, when she was vulnerable. When she needed a shoulder to cry on and when she needed to be the soldier she’d been bred to be. Someone like Alec. She braked hard again, nearly unseating herself.
‘Oh my God," she whispered. "Did I really just think that?" She rolled her eyes. Sure, Alec was cute. But then, all the X-series were. He was funny, if you liked his cocky humor. And Max did. Though she was loath to admit it. He’d already proven to her that despite what she’d first thought, there was a real person lurking under the surface. She’d seen glimpses of it ever since they’d talked, truly talked about Ben. And he’d been reliable. Once she started understanding the reason why he did things, she could see that he wasn’t as bad as all that. With determination, she realized that she was less than a block from Logan’s place. "Okay girl," she muttered under her breath as she hurried along. "Logan first, then we’ll think about Alec."
She never saw what hit her.