last01standing: (DA--Checkmate [ML])
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Phantom Limb Sensation
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don’t look a thing like James Cameron
Summary: On the second Tuesday in December, Max is abducted by aliens. It is not the strangest thing that happens that day.
Author’s note:  For Mari83 in the Secret Santa fic exchange who asked for s1 based, Logan doing something unusual and Max saying something she didn't mean to say and got this. And it does fit requirement but… well it’s one of my fics, that should be enough for you to get the picture…

Still, happy Christmas, Mari!



Phantom Limb Sensation



On the second Tuesday in December, Max is abducted by aliens.

(It is not the strangest thing that happens that day and that is saying quite a lot.)


________________________________________________________________________________________________




Amputees often experience something known as phantom limb sensation. See, when a limb is amputated, there are still many nerve endings at the end of the stump and sometimes they get inflamed, shooting nonsense signals up to the brain like there is still something there.

Logan Cale can’t feel anything. He starts at his unresponsive feet and commands his toes to move because they were moving only two weeks before and he was walking. He was walking.

And now he’s not. He’s sitting in his chair and looking up at the world around him and the memory of walking is fading fast into the past. And like the phantom limb, it might as well not be there at all.



________________________________________________________________________________________________



 


There is a businessman in Jam Pony. He is wearing a dark blue suit with lighter blue pinstripes. His hair is impeccably neat. His shoes are polished. In the dusty mess that is Jam Pony, he looks out of place. A relic of the time before the Pulse.

“What’s a player-player like that doing in a place like this,” Original Cindy says eyeing him suspiciously.

Max is leaning on the locker next to her watching the businessman speculatively. He doesn’t belong in this world. He doesn’t fit the profile of a bike messenger or a Manticore soldier. The closest approximation she has for him is someone from Bennett Cale’s wedding but even that falls short.

Sonreisa. She thinks suddenly. He reminds her of Edgar Sonreisa’s crew back from The Time Before She Cared. The same people who had shot Logan--here in Jam Pony.

Or she could be overreacting.

“What’s with the suit?” Sketchy asks, approaching the two women.

The businessman is talking to Normal now in even measured tones something about… Max tries to focus enough to hear, something about business routes and investors. Normal doesn’t look particularly happy. Then again Normal never looks particularly happy.

The businessman makes a mildly violent gesture with his left arm. His suit is cut oddly, too long in the sleeves and the black flap seems to swallow his hand. Normal says something else. The businessman turns and runs head on into Herbal.

(Herbal will disappear sometime in the three months Max will spend at Manticore. Nobody asks questions.)

“He’s probably lost,” Max says as the businessman starts to leave. “Sorry guys, gotta blaze.”



________________________________________________________________________________________________




Max wakes up sprawled across the pavement. This is not only disturbing because she doesn’t know how she came to be here, but also because she doesn’t even sleep.

She has a headache throbbing in her skull like she’s been run over by a truck and she’s missing her jacket and her ninja. It’s like something out of a horror story, or maybe when she thinks about it, it’s more like the way Kendra described a hangover.

But Max doesn’t get hangovers. Max has a superior metabolism, a superior genome. Max would have to drink her own weight in vodka to even get the slightest bit tipsy. So, a bad night at the bar is out of the question.

She tries to remember what happened last night. There had been some sort of suit at Jam Pony—the type that tends to run with the scum Logan takes down.

There had been a warehouse, she thinks, a gun.

And then shadowy fingers emerging from a blindingly white light.

She pushes herself to her feet and stumbles. The world is tilted off kilter, her balance is all wrong. Then she sees today’s newspaper.

Or more accurately, she sees the headline on New World Weekly:

Alien Invaders Abducting Locals! Exclusive photos, page 10!

Max picks up the magazine and flips to the article. The page is chillingly familiar. White light, men walking out of the haze. A puncture mark at the nape of their neck.

Even though it’s clearly a load of shit, Max finds herself pushing her hair back from her neck and bending down next to a parked car to see her reflection in the rims.

She has a mark, a puncture wound just like the article says at the nape of her neck. She sits down heavily next to the curb.

And as if that weren’t enough in itself, she catches the date on the newspaper.

She’s missing more than a day.



________________________________________________________________________________________________




A cell phone rings.

It’s me. Leave a message.

(beep)

“Max, it’s Logan. Call me.”

(beep)

“Normal’s going to be all over you ass if you don’t get in. There’s only so long Original Cindy can cover for a girl.”

(beep)

“Max. Logan again. Original Cindy just gave me a call. Where the hell are you?”

(beep)


“Max, please call back. We’re getting worried.”

(beep)

“Max. I don’t know where you are, if you’re in trouble or not. Please just give me a call. I need to know you’re all right.”

In that abandoned warehouse, the phone rings again and again.

“The fuck is that noise?” an alien says.

“Some girl’s cellular,” the second alien says.

“Turn it off already,” the first alien says.

Max’s cell phone rings. The alien brings down a polished black dress shoe down on top of it and Max’s cell phone dies.



________________________________________________________________________________________________




There is a knocking at Logan’s door.

It is four in the afternoon and he is on the phone, calling around to the hospitals trying to see if anyone has been admitted due to severe seizures. His is coming up empty, empty, empty.

The knocking continues and Logan sighs in exasperation. If it were Max, she would just pick the lock and waltz in here herself.

“Mr. Cale?” the receptionist from the hospital says.  “No one fitting your description has been admitted to our hospital.”

“Oh,” says Logan.

The knocking grows in volume. Logan sighs as he puts down the phone. “Coming,” he says, wheeling himself towards the door. “I’m coming.”

Lightning flashes outside, accompanied almost immediately by a clash of thunder.

Logan is not sure who he expects to find at the door. Maybe Bling coming to harass him about missing P.T. or maybe Mrs. Moreno on the wrong floor again, but he is definitely not expecting to find Max standing outside his door, drenched to the bone and shivering violently.

“Max,” he says. “Max, what the hell happened to you?”

She doesn’t say anything, just bends down and hugs him tightly. Logan’s bewildered for a second and then he wraps his own arms around her, pulling her closer, reveling in the human contact. “Max,” he says lightly. “It’s okay. I’m here. You’re safe.”

She’s dripping wet and after a while, he starts to feel the moisture seeping through to her skin. “What happens, Max?” Logan says. “You can tell me.”

Still shaking, she pulls away and takes a newspaper out of her jacket. The paper is damp and the ink is smudging but Logan can read the bold black headline.

Alien Invaders Abducting Locals! Exclusive photos page ten!

“Max,” Logan says.

“I was tailing this guy after work,” Max says listlessly. “And then all I remember are shadowy men and bright light. I woke up more than a day later.”


________________________________________________________________________________________________


The horrible thing about it is Logan is just a little bit excited by the prospect. He remembers long hours in the basement of his Uncle’s House curled up on the couch with Scully and Mulder on the screen in front of him. He remembers looking up to the night sky hoping for some sign that there were visitors from the unknown.

And he’d looked. It had always been a habit of his when he was a young reporter. Chasing after UFOs had been his guilty pleasure. Somewhere in the depths of his penthouse, there are four separate notebooks filled with cramped handwriting transcribing eyewitness accounts of abductions, research into famous hoaxes, Roswell. When his co-workers had asked about his interest, he had responded that he was working on a book.

Sitting perched on the edge of his wheelchair, listening to Max talk, he wants nothing more than to pull out the old notebooks and start jotting down her story.

The white light, the strange men, the missing time; it all fits the circumstances of a normal abduction scenario, right down to the puncture wound from the hypodermic needle at the base of her neck.

If it were anyone else, he would ask for a blood sample to test for illegal drugs in the system, to test for a heavy sedative.

But it is Max. Max who had been build in a secret government facility and to whom a blood test could easily be deadly.

“Tell me about the men,” Logan says.

“There were two of them,” Max says. He’d let her uses the shower and borrow a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt from her closet. She has a mug of hot chocolate clenched between her hands. “I couldn’t see their faces. They looked—“ she takes a sip from her mug and coughs. “They looked human, but I didn’t have time to adjust to the light, super-sight or no.”

“You don’t remember any details.”

Max frowns. “One was taller than the other. And this is going to sound crazy, but I swear the shorter one only had one hand.”

“Yeah?” Logan says.

“And I could have sworn I heard a gunshot,” Max continues, “but before I could figure out where it was coming from, I felt the needle. Must have been someone sneaking up behind him.” She lets out a puff of air. “Logan, they got the drop on me. Aliens or no, no one gets the drop on me.”

“But you’re okay?”

“I’m missing more than a day,” Max says. “Of course I’m not okay. Logan, I need you to tell me I’m not crazy.”

“I’ll look into it,” Logan says.

“And I guess that means I’ve got to find something to tell Normal.”

“What’s wrong with the truth?”

“Other than the fact Sketchy won’t ever leave me alone again?”


________________________________________________________________________________________________

When Max leaves, Logan gets on the phone and talks to Matt Sung, asking him to forward any cases of alien abductions in the recent months.

“Eyes Only is investigating aliens now?” Sung asks skeptically.

“There’s no such thing as aliens,” Logan says with all the certainty of a cynic. “If there was I would have ran across something substantial way before now.”

“You’re interested in alien abductions?” Sung asks with something like laughter in his voice.

“No,” Logan says. “Just one in particular. Send me the files?”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Sung says.

________________________________________________________________________________________________


Normal doesn’t hassle Max when she comes in late that morning and that’s about the strangest part of this whole affair. “Max,” he says, relieved. “You’re all right.”

“Why wouldn’t I be all right?” Max asks.

“Nothing—no reason. Just glad to see you up and at ‘em. I’ve got a hot run, sector 11, bip, bip, bip!”

“What’s his dealio?” Max asks, approaching Original Cindy.

“One of the Jam Pony investors got whacked few nights back execution style,” Original Cindy says. “Ain’t no one safe anymore. You getting abducted by aliens, Jam Pony investors mixed up in the mob.”

“Hold on, how’d you hear about the first part?”

“Logan called second he got you squared away. For being part of the lesser species, you found yourself a good one, boo. Then again, Original Cindy did threaten to give him a cranium crack if he didn’t dial her up with the 411.”

“You do realize this story does not get out, right?”

“You have Original Cindy’s word on that.”

There is a notice next to the front desk. Jam Pony no longer delivers to sectors one, three or twelve

________________________________________________________________________________________________


In the past two weeks, there has been a four hundred percent increase in people claiming to have been abducted by aliens. Logan plots them all on a map of the city, red Xs where they were abducted, blue ones where they woke up, looking for a pattern.

And he finds one.

Not only have there been six alien abductions in the last two weeks, but they have all originated in essentially the same place, a street in sector 5. The abductees had been freed in a more haphazard manner, to all different corners of sector five.

The street is the warehouse district.  Last Logan heard, aliens were nowhere near that predictable that they picked out their target and tracked them mercilessly, perusing the same person through their entire lives.

Incidentally, there have also been eight murders in the same two mile radius; shot execution style in the head.

Logan puts his hand on his phone, intending to call Max, get her back up while he starts to track down this lead. But then he thinks of her shaking hands and how cold she had felt pressed up against him and he steels his resolve, grabs his coat and heads out on his own.

He looks down at his feet and tries to wiggle his toes in his shoes, but he can’t feel anything.

He used to do this on his own all the time.

________________________________________________________________________________________________


Logan knows which warehouse houses the aliens abductees almost immediately. The place looks vaguely alien; huge and expansive and oddly metallic. There are industrial strength spotlights mounted on the roof. There are spots on the metal siding that resemble stains from blood. Logan should tell Matt--should get the guys from forensics out there and let the police.

But he doesn’t. He pats the gun in his jacket and wheels himself over to the door, raising his hand and rapping twice.

The door opens immediately and there stands a man in a neat black suit that is far too expensive for the neighborhood. He has dark neatly parted hair, brown eyes, circled with dark smudges and a hooked nose. When he speaks, he sounds ever so vaguely Italian. “The hell are you?”

“Agent Fox Mulder,” Logan says, feeling ridiculous. This almost definitely isn’t a good idea. “FBI.”

The guy stares at him for a long moment and then his face splits into a wide grin and he steps aside to let him into the warehouse. “Boss didn’t tell me you was supposed to be a smart ass. Been a long time since I thought about that show. Pre-Pulse classic.”

“Yeah,” says Logan, playing along. “Seemed appropriate considering all the abductions going around.”

“You like that, yeah?” the guy says. He reaches up his left hand as if to brush a strand of hair from his eyes, only the hand is not there. All that remains is the folds of his suit jacket flapping over the missing limb. “Some of our finest work if I don’t say so myself. Apologies that Mr. Morelli can’t see you himself. He’s away on business. My name is Tony.”

“The alien business was sloppy,” Logan says, settling into his assumed role. “Too much publicity.”

“Freak rags don’t count,” Tony chides. “No one takes stories of abductees for anything but false nowadays. And it gets the job down. Ronald’s conceded. Jam Pony lost three sectors yesterday. They’ll be down four more by the end of the week. Which, Mr. Carmichael, if I’m not mistaken is great news for Wheel About Bike Messengers.”

“Never better,” Logan says. “The murders are a bit disquieting, but business is good.”

“Don’t tell me you’re close to flaking out, Carmichael. Because this is a mutually beneficial partnership for the both of us. And Mr. Carmichael, I realize there have been a few unfortunate accidents to some of your key investors, stock in your company has become free. I’m have you know the Morelli family not owns a full fifty-two percent making us the ruling party in Wheel About. I thought you were willing to make sacrifices.”

“You killed them,” Logan says. “All my investors.”

“I did what I was hired to do,” Tony says gruffly. “Guy’s got to get paid.”

There is a pregnant pause that is only interrupted by a rapping at the door. Logan raises an eyebrow. “You expecting company?”

“No one except you,” he says in confusion. 

“Morelli! Open up! It’s Carmichael.”

A frown crosses the man’s face as he turns to Logan in suspicion. Logan greets him with a gun to the face.

“Let me guess,” Tony says. “You’re not Harold Carmichael.”

“Right in one,” Logan says. “Sounds like you’re not in such good shape yourself. You screwed up”

“I lost a hand,” the guy says. “How the hell am I going to pay for that kind of medical bill without work like this?”

“So offing the average Joe is just part of a job to you,” Logan says, but the heat is starting to die from his voice as he looks to his own broke limbs. He wonders what it would be like to look down and know that they were never coming back. Logan has hope even if it nearly kills him. Tony has a stump where his hand should be, thousands in medical bills and a phantom limb.

“Tell you what, Tony,” Logan says. “You go get rid of Carmichael and if you’re willing to talk, I’ll get you a better deal with the police than you can hope of any other way.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I work for Eyes Only,” Logan says. “Tell me about he Morelli family and I can get you your deal.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Max gets a page from Logan halfway through her day at Jam Pony. It displays his name, his number and 411. She calls him only a second after.

“Logan,” she says. “What’s happening?”

“The one armed alien is named Tony Morelli,” Logan says with a smile in his voice. “The missing time was due to a neuro-suppressor. The abduction? Flood lights and a couple masks.”

“Logan?” Max says again.

“Broadcast’s in twenty,” he says.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Three hours after Logan finishes his talk with Antonio Morelli, Eyes Only his the air.

“Do not attempt to adjust your set. This is a Streaming Freedom video bulletin. This cable hack will last exactly sixty seconds. It cannot be traced, cannot be stopped and it is the only free voice left in this city. For the past year, the Morelli family has developed overarching ties in the bike messenger industry. Recently, they have become heavily invested in the company called Wheel About Bike Messengers. By performing executioner style murders on the leading investors and Wheel About, the mob managed to supplant prior investors with their own. These murders were covered with the fabrication of abductions scenarios designed to discredit any possible witnesses. But now the story is out. And the Morelli family will be held accountable for their crimes.  This has been a streaming freedom bulletin via the Eyes Only informant net. Peace out.”

Thirty minutes after that, Max picks the lock to Logan’s penthouse door and lets herself inside. “Sounds like you’ve figured the thing out without me. Not really aliens?”

“There’s no such thing as aliens,” Logan says. “Just a bad cover for a mob hit.”

“You sound disappointed.”

“I am disappointed,” Logan says. “You know how cool it would have been to get actual proof confirming alien presence? I just killed the dreams of millions of space nuts.”

“You found, the bad guy,” Max says, “saved the day. Damn near took out the mob. Sounds like a good day for Eyes Only to me.”

“You know I kind of feel bad for Tony Morelli,” Logan says. “He wouldn’t have been doing any of this if he hadn’t lost a hand.”

“So become an amputee and it’s a-okay to start blowing people away,” Max shoots back. “Gee, what happens to the old idealistic Logan?”

“That’s not what I meant,” Logan says. “It’s just—” He swallows audibly. “Sometimes I think sometimes about what would happen if I hadn’t been shot. How much easier it would be. How we could—”

“If you hadn’t been shot,” Max says. “I wouldn’t have come back.”

He’s suspected that much for a while, but hearing it said aloud brings it all home for Logan. Sure, the bullet had shattered his spine, but it had also brought him Max and she’s not something he’d trade to get his legs back.

Max misreads his silences as irritation and backpedals. “Look, Logan, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I just get worried about you when you go tackling the bad guys on your own. We’re supposed to be a team.”

“I did fine before you came along.”

“I’ve seen some of the crazy stunts you used to pull without the benefits of superpowers,” Max replies. “It’s a miracle you didn’t get your ass shot off way before this.” She swallows. “Look, this is way too much excitement for a ex-fake abductee today. I just want to kick back and relax with my best friend.”

“If you’re heading to crash with OC, don’t let me hold you up.”

“I meant you, Logan.” Max says.

Logan feels his eyes widen and it’s a scramble to play it cool. “In that case, if got some leftovers in the fridge and I just dug out my old X-files DVDs.”

Max graces him with a breathtaking smile. “I’m game if you are.”

They’re midway through their second episode when Max finally speaks again. “I didn’t say thanks before. You know, for tracking down those aliens and saving my job from the mobsters. So, well. Thanks.”

“I’ve got you back,” Logan says. “Anytime.”

“Right back at you,” Max mumbles.

On screen, Mulder’s hand lingers on Scully’s shoulder and he starts bending lower as if for a kiss, but then sometime interrupts and they’re off again, always moving, always doing something more important and the moment is forgotten, lingering…

Unfinished.

(the end)

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Again, a very happy Christmas to Mari and everyone else!

(no subject)

25/12/07 23:37 (UTC)
ext_2557: (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] syrenslure.livejournal.com
I like the X-Files tie-in and the plot of the story. It's a good read. thanks for sharing.

(no subject)

27/12/07 04:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! Glad you liked it.

(no subject)

17/1/08 04:51 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] osteogirl.livejournal.com
Wow, this is so different than what I expected from the description! Funny in the right amount and amazingly touching and sweet ... thank you for sharing!

(no subject)

17/1/08 20:17 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Oddly enough, a lot of people seemed to think there would really be aliens in this... which don't get me wrong, would have been awesome as well, but it makes me laugh. Glad to hear it struck your fancy. I had a ball writing it.