Title- Pocketful of Lies
Part- 2 of ?
Summary- After hearing a news report on the disappearance of Eyes Only, Max is slowly drawn into the mystery of what really happened to Logan Cale…[ML]
Disclaimer- I do not own Dark Angel
Parts- 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12
“You hungry?” Logan asked, apparently oblivious to the wreckage of his penthouse. “I might have some leftover in the fridge if you’re interested.”
“What are you doing?” Max asked, anger welling up in her. “Are you insane?”
Logan rolled himself back, cornering the wheelchair with a practice ease and heading for the kitchen. “Insane? I’m just trying to feed my favorite transgenic cat-burglar. Come on, Max. We do this all the time.”
“No,” Max said slowly, “we don’t.” The scene felt slightly surreal. Cale had familiar air about him he’d complete lacked the first time they’d met. Back then it was obvious he’d had an agenda. This was something different. Something genuine. If Max let herself drift, she could picture the penthouse completely intact, the two of them sitting down for dinner. Candles…
She blinked herself back into reality. Only…
She was alone in the penthouse. Logan was nowhere to be seen.
“Logan,” she called, moving towards the kitchen. Her feet crunched on broken glass. “Logan, seriously, I’m not in the mood for hide and seek.”
Shadows played against the wall of the kitchen. The fridge was upturned, all appliances had been destroyed. Max shivered as fragments of distant memories echoed tales of happier times.
She must have been hallucinating. A quick once over of the ruined penthouse had revealed nothing and no one. A thick coat of dust told her the place hadn’t been touched in months, much less occupied. But she knew what she’d seen: Logan Cale sitting in the wreckage and smiling like nothing was wrong.
But something was definitely wrong. For one, Max shouldn’t be spending this much thought on a guy she’d ever only seen three times. Once when she’d broken into his apartment, once at crash and once when he’d lure her back to his place and…
She paused, blinked. Those were the three times. She hadn’t seen him after that. But… for a moment she’d had a hazy picture in her mind of sitting at the foot of a hospital bed next to a battered and unconscious Cale. The more she tried to conjuror up the details of the encounter, the less she could actually see.
Frustration mounting, she started making her way to Terminal City.
Although things had died down significantly as the initial wave of anti-transgenic sentiment faded, a large number of the city’s transgenics had still elected to remain inside Terminal City. The place was for all intents and purposes a fully functional community. There was always something to do. Whether it was weapons detailing or sorting out fights or working at the computers, Max would be able to make herself useful and get her mind off of the Penthouse.
Today, she ended up cleaning handguns with Alec. It only took him a few minutes to notice something was off. “What did I do this time?” he asked, snatching up another gun. “Come on Maxie, at least tell a guy his crime.”
“It’s nothing,” Max said quickly.
Alec shrugged. “Whatever you say.”
They worked in silence for a few minutes. Before Alec finally blurted, “If you’ve told another guy we’re dating, can you at least let me know so I can at least explain to Asha before it becomes a big thing.”
“It’s nothing like that,” Max mumbled. She stared at the gun in her hands. She hated guns, hated the feel of the cold hard metal, hated the loud bang of the trigger. Yet here she was, mechanically cleaning weapons with the clone of her dead brother. She can’t help thinking of a bullet slamming into someone’s back, tearing through a spinal chord until there’s nothing left but shredded misfiring synapses. “You ever head of a guy named Logan Cale?”
Something flashed in Alec’s eyes. Max wanted to think it was a flicker of recognition but then he blinked and it was gone. “Don’t think so. Why? Is he transgenic? Another one of our Manticore brethren in dire need of rescuing?”
Max allowed herself to smile. “Nothing like that.”
“Is he another guy you want me to scare off? You do know you could just show him your barcode and have him screaming in the other direction without bringing me into the equation.”
“We’re not like that,” Max said quickly, almost automatically. “It’s just--there’s something weird about him.”
“So get someone to look him up for you. That Dalton kid’s not bad at the computers and I think he’d getting kind of bored.” Alec shook his head and laughed. “Things were a lot more interesting around here when we were under siege.”
She got the shakes halfway back to the apartment. Nothing serious at first, just slight tremors in her left hand, no worse than what an average human got when they were nervous or upset. But by the time she was back to her apartment, the shakes had progressed to full out spasms.
Which was impossible.
The shots of liquid tryptophan usually kept her seizure free for about a week, but the last shot hadn’t lasted more than two days. Something must be seriously wrong.
It felt like the old days, back when she was still rooming with Kendra. When she would grab her bottle of pills, curl up in the bathroom and succumb to the tremors. Scenes of Manticore played in her head in all of their cold hard grandeur, Lydecker’s gruff voice whispering in her ear, the rhythmic beat of a heart monitor.
And under it, something different, something softer lying just out of reach.
Even Normal noticed Max’s exhaustion the next morning. He’d taken in her gaunt frame and sunken eyes and actually had the gall to tell her to go back home. Original Cindy knew better than to say anything to her but Sketchy took a double take and said, “Max, you look like shit.”
“I always look like this,” she spat through clenched teeth. “I didn’t put on my make-up this morning. Where’s the law saying a girl can’t have an off day?”
It wasn’t just an off day. Save the occasional rough patch with her seizures, Max didn’t get sick. Unfortunately someone had neglected to inform her body of that little fact. Her first run took her twice as long as normal as she had to pull her bike over to throw up twice on the way to drop and on the way back she decided to swing by Sam Carr’s office.
By some twist of fate, she’d met Sam Carr when she’d been shot last year. Someone had brought her to Harbor Lights and the CDC had been brought in after they’d found one of Manticore’s designer viruses in her system. Max had escaped--not without difficulties--and Sam, hearing whispers about a young lady with a barcode had quickly and quietly removed her records from the system. When she’d pressed him for his reasons, he’d muttered something indistinct about a patient asking for a favor and never mentioned it again. He’d demanded nothing from her and offered her any help he could give.
Since then he’d been smuggling regular shipments of tryptophan out to Terminal City. He’d become one of the very few people Max actually trusted.
He made time to see her between a few patients, calling out her name as Linda Eastman. Max slipped quietly into the back room and Sam closed the door behind her. “Max,” he said. “Wasn’t expecting to see you again so soon. Any problem?”
“Yeah,” Max snapped, sound harsher then she intended. “I’ve had the shakes all week. Thought the tryptophan should have taken care of it.”
“Max,” Sam folded his arms and stared at her. “I didn’t give you any tryptophan the last time you were here. I gave you the vaccine to that virus of yours, remember? The one that got the CDC so interested.”
“This vaccine have anything to do with why I’m feeling punk?”
“Probably. It was one of the possible side-effects. Vomiting, nausea… I explained this all to you before I gave you the injection. You were the one who wanted to go ahead with it.”
“If it keeps the CDC off my back, it’s worth it,” Max said distantly. Her brain was lagging four steps behind the conversation. There was something important about the virus, something she’d forgotten. “Is there any way we can sort out the seizures?”
“Sure thing. Your normal shot of tryptophan should do it. And if you’re people are running low on it, I can get some more to send to Terminal City.”
“You’re a saint, Sam,” she said and meant it. “Not many people are willing to help out me and mine.”
“I’m a doctor, Max,” he said, swabbing a spot on her arm. “I help people. Your friends may be a little unusual, but…”
He gave her the shot of tryptophan. “Take care, Max. Stay out of the news.”
She rolled the sleeve of her shirt back down and offered him a quick smile. “I try.”
The faint hints of nausea faded as the day wore on. When work was over, Max was feeling good enough to head for Crash and unwind. A band was actually playing tonight and there were more than a few new faces. Alec was taking advantage of that fact. The clueless newcomers paraded up to the pool table one by one only to leave in disgrace a few minutes later. Sketchy was hovering by Alec’s shoulder and Original Cindy was at her girl’s crib so and Max had claimed a table for herself and watched Alec work.
A few years ago, she would have probably told him off for taking money from the mere mortals. But the mortals had done a lot to make her life hell in the past year and this bunch seemed like they deserved it.
“Max,” a voice said from the side and there was so much emotion laced in the single word a chill ran down her spine. Déjà vu.
“You know, I pushed the chair away because I didn’t want company.” Max said without looking at him.
Cale let out a short, humorless laugh. “Haven’t needed a seat of my own for a while now.” Alec banked the two ball into the corner pocket. Sketchy cheered.“You left before I could tell you,” his voice lowered. “White’s back in town.”
Max blanched. She only just managing to keep from spitting out her beer out onto the table. “White’s dead,” she croaked. “He fell off the space needle.”
“You know those cult-types.” Cale’s voice was infuriatingly even. “Can’t count on them actually staying dead.”
She would have loved to write off her shaking hands as a seizure, but a wave of terror had her in its grips. “How’s a girl supposed to win a fight when the other guy won’t stay dead?” Her voice sounded foreign to her own ears, too calm, too smooth.
“You’ll beat this,” he said and there was too much intimacy in his voice. “You always to.”
“You don’t know me,” she spat, turning to face him. But when she actually saw him, the anger flushed out of her. His glasses were cracked and there was a large, fresh bruise on his left cheekbone. “What happened to you?” she asked, trying to keep the surprise from her voice. “Did you pick a fight or something? Stupid thing for a guy on wheels to do.”
He started at her intently through the cracked glasses, expression not changing. “Alec’s going to need back-up.”
“What?” She glanced over her shoulder and sure enough, a fight had broken out around the pool table, two of the guys advancing on Alec menacingly.
“I think they saw his barcode,” Cale commented dryly. “You might want to give him a hand.”
“And risk exposure for myself?”
Cale’s eyes bored into her own. The left one was threatening to swell shut. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Max let out a snort of laughter. “And if you’re any indication of where the right thing gets you, I think I’ll pass.”
It wasn’t like Alec couldn’t take the two guys down without breaking a sweat.
“He’s not going to do it,” Cale commented as if reading her mind. “Somewhere in the midst of all those peaceful protest talks of yours something got through.”
Alec blocked several blows in rapid succession.
“How the hell would you know what I said?”
“Max, I was there.” His battered face was so sincere that, for a second, she believed him.
But he hadn’t been there. He’d never been there. She’d cut him out of her life before he had the chance…
Alec and company had somehow ended up directly in front of her. She could hear the grunts of the attackers and see the transgenic’s cocky grin as he blocked blow after blow. “Gonna give me a hand, Maxie?”
She shook her head and smiled. “Just enjoying the show here, Alec.”
It was a good show. Alec moved like a dancer, blocking left and slipping between the two of them, grinning like it was a grand old time. If she didn’t know better she might think Alec enjoyed dodging blows just as much as throwing them himself. The second guy lunged at him, but Alec nimbly eluded his grasp. His momentum carried him forward and he crashed into the table where Max had sat sending her beer to the ground and the table along with it.
“OK,” she grumbled, “now it’s on.”
Alec rolled his eyes in her direction but before Max could throw herself into the fray, the club’s manager was in the middle of the fight, breaking up the fight and sending the two instigators out the door.
“I like this non-violence stuff,” Alec commented wryly. “Keeps you quick.”
“The whole point of it is supposed to be lying low,” Max hissed, “you know, not letting your barcode get seen by a couple of punks with something to prove.”
“Cool it, Max. It’s all good. No harm, no foul. The only one who got hurt was that table. Poor, poor table.”
Belatedly, Max remembered Logan, but a quick glance around the club told her that he had gone and disappeared.
| 3 |