last01standing: ([NCIS] freakout)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Objects in Motion

Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not James Cameron

Summary: External forces are at work.
Author’s note: Written for [livejournal.com profile] grievingmess for the Christmas in July challenge over on ff.net who asked for a season one style fic with chocolate, ML, Mrs. Moreno’s secret apartment and a mission gone wrong. I hope I got them all.



OBJECTS IN MOTION


Stop.

There are two people on the street corner. Do you see them? Not many do. Not at first at least. It takes a lot to get a second look in Post-Pulse Seattle and these two don’t quite merit one and that’s the way they like it.

Look.

There’s something off about this pair. Something different. Something people should notice, but they don’t.

The girl is beautiful, but you won’t see it first glance. No, all you see is the bike messenger’s outfit, the hat spun backwards, the biker shorts, the punked out gloves.

The girl’s lips are red. Her hair is brown. She has arching cheekbones, full lips, flawless skin. In another world she could be a beauty queen, she could be a model, she could be—

It doesn’t matter what she could be, because she’s not that anymore. She’s a bike messenger. Blue collar and nothing more.

The guy’s different. He is unkempt, unshaven, peering out at the world through smudged glasses from the vantage point of a wheelchair. You might dismiss him as a vet, a bum, an unfortunate victim of the riots following the Pulse. Or you might take an extra second and notice that this wheelchair is top of the line, the best money can buy, that the clothes are clean like he might have regular access to a washer.

If you’re one of the few who get very lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a tattoo on the back of the girl’s neck, peaking out through a tangle of curls. You might look a second longer and become absolutely sure you’ve seen the guy’s face before. You might notice the haunting familiarity around the eyes that you just can’t place. You might feel a prickle on your skin like this is something important, like they are something important.

Or you might move on, just like all the others.

________________________________________________________________________


Newton’s First Law of Motion:

Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.

Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

(unless, of course, when acted upon by an external force)

________________________________________________________________________


Logan Cale is an object in motion. Eyes Only is at the top of his game. It’s been one year since the first broadcast and he is still alive. Eyes Only is an object in motion. The mission is gaining speed, gaining momentum. Logan does the work himself: does the leg work, does the grunt work, does the repetitive work. He designs the security system. He finds the information. He makes the broadcasts. He takes all the risks.

No one can stop him. Sonrisa is next on his list. He might be the biggest fish Logan has ever decided to fry, but he is not afraid. He is picking up speed, picking up momentum. He is untouchable, invincible. A superhero. Saving the post Pulse world from the scumbags who run it.

He is making a difference. He can see it after every broadcast. The name Eyes Only is the biggest one in the city right now. People in Seattle are more likely to be able to name him then the president. He goes after his goals with the singular drive the aftershock of his parent’s death had gifted him all those years ago.

Everything happens for a reason.

The universe is right on schedule.

He believes it with every fiber of his being. There is no uncertainty in the life of Logan Cale. He is ridding the world of evil and he needs Max to do it. He’s willing to pursue her with the same single-minded intensity he’d used to pursue Eyes Only. A genetically engineered superhero could be the final piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t matter if she says no the first time. Logan is nothing if not persistent. He is unstoppable.

(or so he thinks)

Cue the external force.

Bang.

Logan lies in the middle of dirty street, Sophie tucked under his arm. His eyes are glazed. His glasses are smudged. He feels like he should be in pain, but he isn’t and that scares him more then anything else. His eyes are blurring out of focus and it’s getting harder and harder to breath. He feels someone tug the girl from his arms, flipping him over and onto his back. He stares at the sun, hidden by Seattle’s fog. This isn’t supposed to happen, he thinks, this can’t happen.

(all he can see is white)

Logan Cale is an object at rest.

________________________________________________________________________


Max is an object at rest. She got out of Manticore. The whole freaking point was to stop running. And she has stopped. She has stopped completely. The job at Jam Pony requires little to no thought. None of her friends know who she really is. She has what she needs and what she wants she steals. It’s an easy life. She doesn’t want to use any of her special gifts. She just wants to forget. She has an IQ of 214 and she is at Jam Pony—not exactly happy, but satisfied.

And then she robs the penthouse.

She wouldn’t have gone back if it wasn’t for the shooting. She doesn’t give a shit about Logan Cale or Eyes Only or anyone outside her siblings scattered into the world back when they were just nine years old. She’s settled because it’s easier. She can move if she has to. It’s just a matter of tossing her things into a duffle bag and getting onto her bike. Original Cindy and Kendra might miss her, but they’d get over it just like she would. She doesn’t want to leave but she could. No one knows who she is.

But external forces are at work.

________________________________________________________________________


In a box under his bed, Logan has a collection of mementos, pieces left over from his life. There is the shirt he was wearing when they told him about the plane crash. (a police officer with a hand on his shoulder, Uncle Jonas standing firm) There’s his high school diploma, his college degree and the first story he ever published. The story is a simple one. He was a sports reporter before the Pulse hit. The Seahawks defeated the Lakers by fifteen. He’d lost his job when the Pulse came, just like all the others and when he’d latched onto the Pacific Free Press, he was a different person with different goals.

The next series of items in the box is far less ordinary. There is the surveillance tape footage of the shooting, already starting to wear out from his viewings, a small vial with the bullet fragments that had almost killed him when Zach was there. There is, unopened, the last candy bar he’d bought before the pulse hit. Hershey’s dark chocolate. They don’t make this kind anymore. He’s always told himself he’s saving it for a special occasion but years later he hasn’t found the right one.

This box is his life outside Eyes Only, the highs, the lows. Well, mostly just the lows. Logan hasn’t had the easiest life. But he makes the most of it, tumbling forward because he doesn’t really like looking back.

________________________________________________________________________


The day after the escape, Max burns all of her clothes in a dumpster outside the first city she’s ever seen. She would have burned the tattoo off as well, but that mark is etched into her skin, her past carried with her wherever she goes.

________________________________________________________________________


The skeleton of any hypothesis: If A happens then B occurs due to element C. This can be applied to almost anything. The hypothesis can be used as a basis for an experiment. Changing one single variable can skew all the results.

Say for example the following occurs:

Max swings over to the Fogle Towers penthouse from the building next door in hopes of stealing the statue of the goddess Bast and supplementing her meager income. She climbs down the skylight and looks for the statue only it’s nowhere to be found. Max purses her lips, moving silently through the apartment wondering what happened to the damned statue.

The bedroom door opens and a bewildered old lady shuffles out. “Who are you?”

She doesn’t feel compelled to run because the old woman can’t pose much threat. “This is the Penthouse apartment?” she asks.

“Of course it is!” the old lady says, her fast wrinkling in confusion. “How did you get it?”

Max doesn’t really think that’s a question she can answer with any certainty and the last think she wants to do is make a sudden move and have the old woman drop dead of a heart attack. “This is just a dream, ma’am,” she says. “Go back to sleep.”

The lady is more aware then Max gives her credit for, she blinks the sleep out of her eyes and says, “I’m calling security.”

In her head, Lydecker is screaming about anonymity. This lady could recognize her face and that means—

Max dives out the window.

She doesn’t realize this apartment complex has two penthouse apartments.

(because seriously, what kind of apartment complex has two penthouses?)

She doesn’t meet Logan Cale.

She doesn’t discover the identity of Eyes Only.

She doesn’t blink when she sees the footage of the shooting a day later.

She doesn’t save Logan’s life when Bruno Anselmo comes to finish the job.

There are a thousand billion variables that could have changed the equation. A thousand ways everything could have gone wrong.

But she does meet Logan Cale so all this is irrelevant.

________________________________________________________________________


For Christmas that first year, Logan digs that chocolate bar out of his box and gives it to Max as a gift along with a carton of gasoline. He watches as her face lights up, revels in the way her teeth sink in for the smooth dark chocolate, grins at the way her eyes roll back in ecstasy at the taste.

This was an occasion worth waiting for.

________________________________________________________________________


Stop.

There are two people in the Penthouse talking in low voices under the whine of computers. They don’t need to talk quietly. There is no one around, no one to overhear any of the conversations. They do it because it’s an excuse to lean closer to one another under the guise of listening closely. Confronted with this fact, neither would ever admit it.

The meanings of words are precise. The cadence of speech is measured. Each syllable is planned, following neatly into the one before it. There are no stammered sentences. They are both masters of lying--or more specifically dodging the truth. He’s been broken since the bullet shattered his spine. She’s been broken since before she can remember (and she can remember almost everything). Both are willing to lay all their cards down on the table, but neither will make that first move.

So they talk in measured tones about the most mundane things never really giving an inch, never dropping their guard, but they write volumes in the pauses, the spaces between sentences, between words.

Listen.

“You compromised the mission,” Logan grits, voice tense but never loud. “You let him get away. People could die.”

You could have died.

“I’m a big girl, Logan,” Max hisses back. “You know, the whole faster and stronger than your average girl thing? I was having a bad day. You’ve certainly had your share.”

Like when you got half your ass blown off, you idiot.

“You were being careless. No one’s invincible. This is important.”

I don’t know what I’d do without you.

“Hey, I stay out of the goodness of my heart. I don’t have to do any of this shit for you.”

I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t love you.

________________________________________________________________________


They get in fights more often then you might think. It’s balanced out with a quiet dinner or a chess game, but more often then not, they drive each other crazy. Max has these moments when she thinks Logan is an absolute condescending, arrogant prick. Logan thinks Max is selfish, crass and unbelievably bull-headed.

They catalogue each other’s faults more often then they do the virtues. Compile lists upon list of why they can never be together without sparing a thought as to why they should give it a try. Logan doesn’t feel like he’s worthy, doesn’t feel like he’s whole. He’s still getting used to his new handicap and the wheelchair stands out bigger and brighter then all the other parts of his life. Max can’t dream of saddling anyone with her full load of emotional baggage. They screwed her up good at Manticore and she can still hear Lydecker’s voice in her head anytime she starts to open up. Sometimes, Max is afraid that if anyone cracked her shell they’d find nothing real underneath. Nothing but a jumble of programmed human responses and fast twitch muscles like a robot programmed to replicate human life. He’s not whole. She’s not real. It’s no surprise they are objects at rest.

________________________________________________________________________


Key in any experiment is repeatability. If there are the same factors present with the same variables, the same results should be produced.

(Max is leaving. Logan is watching. Conditions are right. Lips meet...)

Real life doesn’t work that way.

________________________________________________________________________


There is always talk of the fairy tale ending. Prince meets a pauper, they defeat a dark forces, they hold hands riding into the sunset.

This is nothing like that.

Max is bleeding, blossoming flowers of red spurting up from her stomach. Logan hands are covered in blood. His glasses are fogging up in the haze. He tries to remember how to breathe.

(getting shot feels like dying, but he’d survived and if he could, she sure as hell can)

“There's something I've got to tell you. I should've said something a long time ago.”

“It can wait.”

This is not a fairy tale.

Fortunately, this is not an ending either.

________________________________________________________________________


Max is in hell. The heart monitor’s steady rhythm is the worst thing she’s ever heard. She closes her eyes and thinks about shutting herself down. She thinks of how she can’t stay here. She can’t be a soldier again. Maybe she’ll just stop, stop eating, stop breathing, stop everything.

Logan is in hell. Krit and Syl want to know what happened. Logan doesn’t say anything. He just listens to Lydecker’s gruff voice laying down the facts. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever move again. He doesn’t know if he can ever make himself speak again.

And they might have stayed that way, might have frozen in their places forever as the world screamed by all around them.

But external forces are at work.

Logan boots up his computer and opens the file reading Manticore.

Max grabs a file and slowly starts on her escape.

The universe is right on schedule.

(end)

(no subject)

12/7/08 18:48 (UTC)
newredshoes: radio tower on top of the world (I'll call you right back.)
Posted by [personal profile] newredshoes
This is fantastic. I love the cadence of it.

(no subject)

22/7/08 00:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks! It was fun to put together!

(no subject)

19/7/08 20:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] big-edna.livejournal.com
Nice.

And we scientists can simply draw the conclusions ourselves, right?

This was all sorts of awesome!

(no subject)

22/7/08 00:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Of course. It's all basic logic after all. =)

Thanks for reading.

(p. Is that a wanted icon? If so, I FREAKING LOVE THAT MOVIE)

(no subject)

22/7/08 19:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] big-edna.livejournal.com
It IS James McAvoy (*applauds*) but it's from Children of Dune. I've kind of messed up my layout, but it is supposed to be CoD themed.

Just wanted to say

10/8/08 15:04 (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
I agreed with you

Re: Just wanted to say

14/8/08 01:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Not exactly sure what you're agreeing with me about, but thanks.

thank you

28/9/08 20:40 (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
well done, bro

Re: thank you

30/9/08 13:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
you're quite welcome.