Borrowed Time
by Karen

Certainty and self assurance are an aspect of his personality that Logan Cale has carefully developed over the years, even more so in the aftermath of the global disaster the Pulse, an electro magnetic surge that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Not one to let a personal tragedy slow him down, he followed his rehab the way a monk in seclusion followed his personal path of enlighten. Logan wished he could walk on his own two feet, but it was useless for something he obviously could never have back again. The wheel chair is enough to provided him with mobility, and his own resources, resolve, and technical acumen has allowed himself to rebuild his life and contact with the outside world even if medical science cannot rebuild his legs.

On bad days the pain of stressed neurons flash like fire throughout his nerve endings, and its difficult to remain upright, and these are the times he wants to rail against the powers that be.

When the bout passes, Logan realizes he really should count his blessings, he has built his business, his secret service, as his friend and partner, Max comes to think of it, Eyes Only, literally from the ground up. That's no mean accomplishment.

Eyes Only, his business is flourishing, and now that Max Guevarra is in his life, he has the courier and operative he has always wanted. It's necessary considering Max's background. Logan winds over to a stack of plastic bins where he stores his documents, newspaper clippings, and all other field reports necessary to keep Eyes Only a thriving concern. Logan is not na´ve, he knows that Max is wanted by a genetic research facility, along with the other members of her cell, the X5's, and even if Manticore never gets its clutches onto her and siblings, there will be plenty of other interested factions who would like to see Eyes Only shut down. He worries about Max and wonders if she feels more for him than friendship and respect for a business colleague. Its hard to tell sometimes.

 

Elsewhere, on the edge of Seattle's shipyards Max bike cycle brakes screech to a halt, and she pauses to remove her helmet and shake out the long sweaty strands of dark brown hair. The sky had opened up hours ago and let loose a torrential downpour of rain. Her leather jacket sticks to her lanky frame like a second skin and she has not been comfortable since she left Logan's office last night on her latest Eyes Only case.

She has a portable radio secured and dangling from the handle bars of the bike, the storm once in a while interfering with the reception of the news reports. The storm did not take her by surprised, just its intensity. Weather in Seattle usually ranged from mild temperatures, drizzle most days, and sometimes sun. Her eyes narrowed, trying to pierce through the misty haze in order to find the distinctive markings of a power boat that was supposed to be moored out in the harbor.

According to the intelligence gathered by Logan the boat had triangular markings on the aft side and the legend on it indicating it was owned and managed by Milagro Industries. Max had passing familiarly with several languages, including English, and she recognized the word as miracle in Spanish. It would be a miracle if I make contact with the people I was sent to find," Max muttered under her breath.

Max pulled out the leather satchel that she carried underneath her jacket, shaking the worst of the wet from it and took out a sheaf of papers. She really did not need to look at the information, her photographic memory had already stored all the information into its own compartment, but she just needed visual confirmation that she was in the right place.

Right when she was about to call Logan on her cell phone the boat pulls up at the edge of the pier and she scrambles down the worn wooden steps to met those crewing it. Their appearance is nondescript.

A few muttered words an nod, the non verbal are more important than the verbal, and Max is aboard the tug that will take her out to the waiting barge moored in mid harbor. She stands on the port edge hands in the pockets of her jeans, refusing to make eye contact with anyone else on board. Not because she is nervous, self conscious or trying to conveying that she's better than them, it's common sense and training, never make idle chit chat with the bad guys holding some one for ransom. It's bad for business not to mention it might just end up getting you and the person that you have come to rescue killed. A little voice in the back of her mind is rambling some inane comment about Logan having her skin if she screws this up, and Max nods, "About right," she thinks and tells the little voice to kindly 'shut up.' The little tug wobbles along, the whir and chug of its engines leaving a tiny bit white foam in its wake. The water level in the harbor has been steadily rising since this afternoon and by nightfall it is at least three times higher than it should be at this time of year.

 

Max transfers from the tug to the barge, satchel this time slung over a shoulder by a leather strap to free up her hands. Running high on adrenaline she will almost welcome a fight, but common sense and the fact that on most Eyes Only cases she is simply a courier wins over more dangerous emotions.

 

The leader takes the satchel from her opens the folder holding the ransom money, and glares at her as if the money would ever come up short. She's way too good to make a mistake like that. To one side and behind the leader one of his cronies fidgets and plays with the safety on his gun; not a good sign.

"Count it, if you like."

"It's all there, as agreed."

"You got what you wanted, now let me see the hostage."

The leader nods and gestures for the henchman with the itchy trigger figure to lead the way below decks. If Max is startled by the dimly lit interior or the cramped grungy surrounding it does not show on her face.

Its cramped in here with the six of them, counting the hostage. Max waits for her impromptu escort to remove the hood covering the hostage's face and take the gag out of his mouth.

The henchman looks up from where he is crouched beside the hostage, his eyes narrowed, thinking that he's got here in a compromising position. Max gets a good look at the hostage's face in the poor lighting, and realizes with a flash that she knows those features, its Alec. Either one of his get rich quick scams went awry or its something more serious, like a few secrets have gotten out into the wrong hands.

Behind her she hears the others in the group fidgeting, when the sound of a revolver leaving a holster causes Max to spin around to come up facing the business end of five .38 caliber pistols. "It was a setup the entire time, wasn't it?" Max demands, her hand going to her jeans pocket for her own weapon.

"Of course of it was, doll-face, the leader snarls. Turning her attention to his henchmen, he issues hard to mistake orders, "Get her! I don't care if you have to kill them both."

"Uh, boss, If we call the hostage,"

"Do I pay you to think?"

"No."

"Then do as you're told."

"This will be fun." Max fires off several consecutive shots, instinct and training taking over her mind and body flowing as one and before they can blink, the henchmen are lying spread-eagled on the floor, wincing with pain from split lips and bruised ribs.

 

Max has to admit she didn't think a bunch of crooks would take off at the first sign of the boat going down into the drink, but there it is. She chases them up the ladder to the deck and watches as they jump from the barge to another waiting power boat and motor away. "Lovely," she mutters under her breath. "They get the money and leave me in the lurch. How very not considerate of them."

Max goes back below decks and where Alec is still waiting tied to the plastic chair.

"Aren't you going after them?" Alec during the brief scuffle has managed to wriggle off the hood and his hair is wet and matted.

"I don't fancy a swim in that cold water," Max replied, trying not to laugh at the soggy image of wet rat that Alec presents at this moment.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Alec demanded.

"Saving your cute skinny hide," Max replied.

"I should be flattered?" What you think I'm not capable of saving my own hide," Alec sounds a bit perturbed.

"After everything we've been through, " Max tilted her head to one side, considering and discarding all possible responses to that last question. Alec had a reputation of late of getting himself into more trouble than he could possibly handle alone. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

"On second that, probably not. " Alec wriggled around in the plastic folding chair where he had been tied and bobbed his head like the buoys that Max had seen on her way here. It would have been comical, with Alec's dish water blond hair wet and smeared across his sweaty forehead, except for the fact that water had steadily gushing inside for the past ten minutes and showed no sign of abating.

"Why did he send you. I had the situation well in hand before you showed up."

"I saw. I supposed being tied up and gagged on an abandoned power boat while the river was in flood was all part of some master plan, am I right?"

"Does it really matter. Will you just stop flapping your yap and cut me free already, " Alec demanded. "I really don't fancy a swim in cold harbor water any more than you do."

"Whatever happened to that old say to have the captain go down with the ship?"

"Ain't gonna happen," Alec flashed her a grim ironic smile." The flood is getting worse, sooner or later it

"Maybe we should profit by example."

"What?" Max asked, combing her fingers through her hair.

Alec tried to clarify his last statement: "The bad guys already jumped ship."

"All right, I'll untie you, but before I do you have to promise one thing. Max held up her right hand, "Help me get the boat back to shore safe and sound. I don't want to swim. " Max removes a knife from the satchel over her shoulder, its leather a little worse for wear from the scuffle with the bad guys, and cuts through the leather straps holding Alec to the chair. Once free, he nods and limbers up by doing a few deep knee bends.

"Come on, we can't possibly get any wetter than we already are."

"Don't have to tell me twice," Alec grins and leads the way up onto the main deck and over to the steering mechanism, swearing as he realizes that it's jammed. "I guess we will have to swim" Alec shrugs, "Sorry."

"About what?"

"About before, about getting you into this mess." Alec thought for a minute. "Do you think our hosts wired this boat to explode."

"Don't know, but I would rather not find out the hard way."

"I never expected you to actually show up," Alec added.

"I chose to get involved and you know Logan," Max replied.

"I haven't been making stellar decisions of late, and as usual you're there to pick up the pieces."

"Don't worry about. It's not the last one that you'll owe me."

"Didn't know we were keeping a running tally, but if you want to ask about owing, how much of a tab have you racked up at the Pony." Max asked, winking at him.

"Oh please, I'm a big boy, I can hold my liquor, and I get an employee discount," Alec muttered.

"That isn't what I mean, but we will discuss this later."

 

Once more back at Logan's apartment Max emerges from a hot shower, more for the warmth than from getting clean, but that is a plus as well. In all the years she has been living in Seattle she can count on the fingers of one hand how many times there have been nights like the one just passed. The news that Logan runs in the background, appears to tune out, but in reality he's aware of everything around him, is calling last night's immense amount of precipitation, the flood of 2205. Max has one blue terry cloth towel wrapped around her abdomen, another wrapped in an intricate tower atop her head, hoping it will aid in getting her long brown hair dry quickly. Logan looks up from his computer monitor and looks at her.

"My insurance will cover the flood damage, I just wish you had let me know you ran into trouble, " Logan shook his head. "As it things stand right now, it is going to be quite tricky to cover our tracks on this one."

"Knowing you as well as I do, you will manage to find a way. You always do."

"I appreciate the vote of confidence, Max. Thank you." Logan replied, giving her a reassuring smile.

 

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