“It’s my strong stance that he’s feeling very much alone right now,” Bling said honestly. “Wouldn’t hurt for someone to let him know he isn’t.”
Max averted her eyes, unconsciously biting on her lower lip as she mulled over her next choice of action and how best to put it.
“I’ll go over there and read him a bedtime story,” she said, her lips curving into a knowing smile.
Bling smiled reflecting her sentiments as he took pleasure in what he’d accomplished. He watched Logan helping long enough and now that he was the one needing the extended hand of friendship, Bling was pleased he’d been able to find something that’d make him feel better.
“Hey bartender,” she said turning to the bar behind her. The man looked up. “Give this gentleman anything he wants.”
That said she turned back and headed out of the bar.
Another peel of thunder echoed aloud and a brief flash of lightening illuminated Logan’s sullen features. He stared out aimlessly, his eyes cast upward while his mind drifted through all the things that had happened both in the distant past and the recent.
“Doorbell’s broken,” a voice said casually as he listened to the confident footsteps crossing the hardwood floor approaching him. The slightest of smiles tugged at the corner of his lips and was lost on Max.
“No,” he finally answered. “I was just ignoring it.”
Wheeling himself around to face Max he finally drew his eyes round to meet hers. For brief seconds Max stood, arms cast down by her sides as she stared down at some point below his eye-line before speaking and raising her head to look him in the eye. She was concerned at what her earlier actions may have done to them. The fact that Logan could blame her for what happened, while knowing it was unjustified, upset her more than she’d like. Had she been the one to possibly erect a wall between their growing relationship this early on?
“So, do you hate me now?”
“No I was pissed of at you for ten minutes maybe. Y’know, kill the messenger.”
Taking some more strength from his words Max moved slowly to sit by him, taking up a place in the chair in front of him. She figured talking about it with someone would help him as much as anything else.
“Or in this case the nosy messenger rooting around in stuff that’s none of her business,” she corrected him.
Another flash of lightening burst into the room banishing the shadows, but neither one of them lost their focus, their eyes undeterred by the strong light and refusing to break contact with each other.
“The first time Val played me, it ended our marriage and it was shame on her. This time it’s shame on me,” he admitted frankly. “Well, at least she’s sober.”
“Now she’s really gotta live with herself,” Max shrugged.
Logan’s gaze faltered and his focus came to rest at some meaningless spot, the back of the chair Max’s left arm hung over casually.
“Truth is it’s more embarrassing than anything else. Finding out that I keep wanting to believe in something that was never there in the first place.”
The last few words were pushed past his lips on a slight gasp. An action that clearly betrayed how deeply he berated himself to Max. It wasn’t a feeling she’d have him go through alone. Truth be known she felt it too, just like him and probably more tonight than any other. Her encounter with her long lost brother had pointed that out plainly for her.
“I know the feeling,” she said quietly, her eyes staring off just as distant as his. Seeking a little of the comfort she always felt in his gaze her eyes wasted no more time in seeking it out. “Hooked up with Zack.”
Logan waited, expecting the rest of her story to follow, but when that didn’t happen he took the initiative. “Sounds like it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.”
“After all these years of waiting and wondering I guess I expected, I don’t know,” she broke off on a short sigh, looking for the right words. “That finding Zack would change everything, my life would finally make sense.”
She searched Logan’s eyes momentarily, finding nothing but the understanding he never ceased to surprise her with, his simple, slight nod speaking volumes. They got each other.
“Stupid of me huh?” The briefest of embittered smiles crossed her features and Logan’s mirrored it as he listened intently. “I just wanted somebody that was like me. Someone I could connect with,”
Her voice trailed off as she held Logan’s gaze, all the while the recognition setting in that the very person she’d been looking for in her idea of Zack was sitting right in front of her, both more connected now than they’d ever realize.
“Basic human impulse, not wanting to be alone.”
“According to Zack it’s ‘phony sentimentality’, we’re soldiers, this is enemy territory. We’re constantly on the move.”
“That’s one way to live your life,” Logan said in a half supposing tone. He may have been willing to concede that it was a possible way to live, but he never wanted that for Max. She deserved much more and he wanted nothing more than reassurance that she’d never want that in her life. He didn’t want her to be in danger, but at the same time he desperately didn’t want to lose her. Safe or not, he couldn’t stand the thought of her leaving him behind when she ran.
“I just don’t know if I wanna do that anymore.” Max replied, confirming Logan’s need. “But maybe he’s right, maybe I don’t have a choice.”
Her voice stopped there, another double peel of thunder discharging it’s powerful energy in the distance. Logan stared at Max, Max stared at Logan. Both of them examining their lives in the other’s reflection, unwilling to break the contact they could sense with the other.
Somewhere amidst all the misplaced belief and search for someone to connect with, they’d come at least to a partial conclusion. Perhaps they weren’t really alone after all. Just look at what the night had brought them. Here they were, with all the problems of the world pushing them down and making them feel lonely and isolated, but dealing. Facing up to their lives and taking comfort in being together. Maybe they just had to stop looking long enough to see what was already there.
“There’s some food in the kitchen if you’re hungry,” Logan said nodding a gesture over Max’s head towards the darkened kitchen.
“Not really,” she replied.
“Logan’s lips parted on a lopsided smile. “What time is it?” he asked feeling bolder by the second. He wasn’t lost to the situation any at all. Max was at his apartment, it was late. And he didn’t feel like being alone.
“Late,” Max replied on cue.
“You could crash here if you want,” he said while banishing the images that had begun to play over in his mind. Images of Max in his bed, both of them in his bed together, neither one of them alone and eagerly showing it in tender touches and caresses. But that’d be too much too soon he decided. “In the guest room,” he amended quickly.
Max’s eyes almost teased his as she pictured a similar play for the night. Her words may have sounded like a rejection to an outsider, but Max knew Logan understood her apparent refusal. “Not tired.”
“Me neither,” Logan’s voice took on a similarly playful tone as his head tilted to one side in his response. The smile once again began to tug on his lips as he continued. “Feel like a spin in the park?”
Max held his gaze steadily with great comfort, her eyes never leaving his. “It’s raining.”
“I don’t mind,” Logan’s playful facade fell away briefly in his last few uttered words as he made how he felt at that moment perfectly clear to her. To spend time with Max he’d walk through fire, even if he was given back the gift of his legs for that reason alone. He wanted her.
Max looked thoughtful for all of two seconds as she processed his gesture fully. It was a sentiment she shared completely.
“Me neither,” she replied smiling brightly as she stood up preparing to lead them out of the penthouse. Logan’s eyes followed her movements intently as his hands found the rims of the wheels by his sides. Gently making even strokes he propelled himself out toward the elevator by her side. Away from some version of an old half truth with Val, Logan know deep down that by Max’s side was a place he truly belonged.