Title: Fear of Falling
Disclaimer: I have never owned a television show in my life.
Ships: Light Max/Logan
Summary: The trick is not to look down. [Logan]
Author’s note Written for the jam_pony_fic winter fication for enigmaatic. The prompt used was: “Max bringing Logan up on the space needle in a scene that was not seen in the series.” And yeah, it started out being that, but evolved more into “Logan’s fear of heights.” Hope it's still all right.
Fear of Falling
The only way to go is down.
And like they always say; the higher you are, the harder you fall. Start out high enough and jumping in to water just like jumping onto concrete.
(Dead on impact. They don’t suffer.)
The worst part, Logan thinks, is the falling.
When Logan Cale is eight, he jumps off the roof of his family’s summer house.
Two seconds after he launches his body from the edge, he knows it’s a bad idea. But for that blissful second before the panic sets in, he enjoys the wind whipping past his cheeks, enjoys that fleeting moment where he’s sure he’s defying gravity.
And then he realizes he’s undershot the pool.
He can see Bennett’s widened eyes and open mouthed scream, but he can’t hear anything but the sharp crack as his legs hit the ground.
When she asks the question, reality comes crashing back:
“Have you ever been up on the Space Needle?”
And Logan’s smile becomes suddenly strained, the moment broken beyond repair.
“No,” he says, and keeps his voice casual, casual, casual, “and it’s not on my list of this to do.”
This time, there’s no moment of bliss and not a single second where he thinks he might be flying. The wind stings as it screams past his cheeks but he can’t scream, can’t flail his arms, can’t do anything but wait for the impact and recall how it feels like to have his legs snapped like twigs.
And then he remembers that he won’t be able to feel the impact: that everything lower than his waist is dead to him like he’ll soon be dead to the world.
“How did it feel?” Bling asks him the next morning. “Did you see you life flash before your eyes?”
It feels like nothing.
But Max’s hand, out of nowhere, grasping his, that felt like salvation.
The first time is that night on the motorcycle, Max pressed against his back as they fly through the empty streets of Seattle. The night’s perfect, he’s got his legs and maybe, just maybe, Logan Cale, the nerdy, recluse, cyber-journalist has finally got the girl.
There's something I've been wanting to do with you ever since we first met.
She instructs him to pull the motorcycle off the road. He does what she says, unable to disobey, unable to even think straight. “Hope you’re up for it,” she whispers into his ear. “It’s a bit of a climb.”
Logan’s mind skids to a screeching halt.
The Space Needle.
“C’mon on, Logan,” Max pleads. “The view’s worth it. Promise.”
Fifteen suicides from the Space Needle in the last year alone.
Seven Eyes Only informants executed here; high profile messages meant only for him.
Half way to the observation deck, Logan’s legs give out.
He can’t say he’s disappointed.
When Logan Cale is twelve, his life quite literally crashes and burns. It starts with his parents, both of them, dead as their plane plummets the twenty-eight thousand feet from the cruising altitude straight to the ground.
To outsiders he looks like little more than a ghost, a wisp etched into his uncle’s shadow. He doesn’t say a word, not when his cousins try to tease him out of his shell and not when his teachers offer him small words of sympathy.
At the funeral, Logan’s eyes devoid of tears. The priest drones on and on over a pair of closed caskets but he can’t hear a word. He just presses his eyes closed and tries to calculate terminal velocity and just how fast the plane was going when it hit the ground.
She looks at him with barely concealed laughter. “Really?”
He doesn’t think it’s funny. “Really.”
“Oh, we're going to have to do something about that.”
When Logan Cale is thirteen Jonas puts him on a plane bound for boarding school, unwilling to deal with the broody, silent teen. Logan doesn’t protest, doesn’t even grace his uncle with eye contact.
In fact, he shuts the whole thing out of his mind right up until they take off and he feels his ears start to pop. He unconsciously digs his fingernails the arm rest and tries to even his breathing.
And he’s fine, really, he is, right up until the captain’s voice says, “We have now reached our cruising altitude of thirty five thousand feet, feel free to unfasten your seatbelts and move around the cabin,” and he makes the mistake of glancing out the window.
It’s a long, long way down.
The next thing he remembers is the black creeping into his vision.
When Logan Cale is fourteen, he keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground.
The second time would have been perfect if he hadn’t been so terrified. But when Max asks, Logan can’t say no, especially not now.
She asks if he’s okay.
He tells her this is fun.
He’s lying through his teeth, his hands digging into the metal of the space needle just to make sure he doesn’t fall.
He doesn’t dare attempt to stand up. He’s still unsure of the exo and if the thing shorts out at this height, it will be yesterday’s debacle all over again.
Only the ground is a hell of a lot farther off.
He’s terrified of falling, of failing, of losing her.
She’s psyching herself up for what may well be a suicide mission. She knows it. He knows it. The closest either can get to verbalizing it is “deathwatch” which, when he thinks about it, is close enough.
She calls him her family. He tells her everything will be all right.
They sit there for a long time and Logan forgets how far he is from the ground every time her shoulder brushes against his.
“We should get back,” Max says finally. “We’re doing this thing tonight and if we leave Zack and Lydecker alone long enough, someone is going to wind up dead.”
Logan nods and Max helps him to his feet.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Max whispers into his ears. “I told you I wouldn’t let you fall.”
When Logan Cale is twenty four, he moves into the penthouse and doesn’t sleep for two months straight. There are huge glass widows at the end of his living room and he wonders what possessed him to buy an apartment more than thirty stories from the ground.
Behind him, the television drones on about protesters shot down in the streets and Logan remembers, yeah, that’s why.
He can practically feel her around him. The Space Needle always was her favorite place.
He steps back from the edge, sits down shakily and stares out at the Seattle skyline, completely numb to the world because sometimes it seemed like it happened to someone else…
“I told you I could handle this one by myself,” Alec says. “You didn’t have to tag along. Eyes Only’s new hands on policy isn’t exactly his smartest move.”
“I thought this one was an easy,” Logan snaps. “In and out in ten minutes. Restrict it to the ground floor.”
“Informant didn’t mention there was pyromaniac waiting to torch the place? That bastard.” He smirks. “We’ve got the goods so at least the hard part’s over. There’s always another way out.”
“From the roof?” Logan asks. “When the place is on fire? There’s only so long the building can stand. It’s going to collapse soon. The only way to go is down.”
Falling. Burning. Accelerating downwards at nine-point-eight-one meters per seconds squared.
Were they up high enough to die on impact?
Alec scans the surroundings and suddenly smiles. “We’re going to have to jump.”
“Jump,” Logan repeats, but Alec is as serious as Logan has ever seen him. “Shouldn’t we just wait for Max?”
Something unrecognizable crosses Alec’s face. “Max isn’t coming.”
Of course she isn’t coming. Max skipped town two months ago after Logan’s last near-fatal brush with the virus. She hasn’t looked back, hasn’t called back…
And the transgenics had moved on, and Eyes Only had moved on, and the world had moved on, but Logan Cale hasn’t moved an inch.
“You can do this, Logan.” Alec says in that same dead serious voice.
The next rooftop is fifteen feet away. But Logan’s still on a bit of a high from the last transfusion and the exoskeleton is strapped firmly to his legs.
Alec stares him down, nods once. “It’s going to be fine, man. The trick is not to look down.”
She’s been gone for two whole years and Logan still can’t shake the haunting feeling that she’ll step in to catch him if he starts to fall. He may start the descent, but even two years removed, Max will make sure he doesn’t splatter himself over the pavement.
A hand slips into his, breaking him from his daze. “I thought you hated heights.”
The voice brings buried feelings surging back up to the forefront. The motorcycle, the penthouse, the heartbreak, the joy and above all, Max, Max, Max.
“I'm getting over it. I thought you skipped town.”
Her voice sounds oddly strangled. “I did. I had to find… I couldn’t do that to you again.”
Their hands clasp together; skin on skin and the heat Logan feels is not from the deadly fever. “You found it.”
“Yeah, I did.”
They stand in silence.
“It’s a long way down,” Max says quietly. “I’m not sure if I’m ready to take the plunge.”
He wishes she’d never left. He’d take the virus back if it meant he could have had the last two years with her.
“Don’t worry,” he whispers. “I’ll make sure you don’t hit the ground.”
Together, they sit on the edge of the Space Needle, the city spread out beneath them.
Logan is not afraid.