Thanks to catherder for the beta.Pairing:
This story also appears in the rerun fanfiction section of VS3 as a sequel to episode 17.Requiem
Early August 2022
Max lit the candle and stared into the flame. She rested her chin on her folded hands, which in turn, were placed on the smooth surface of the wooden dinner table. She watched as the candle flickered and glowed with a yellow incandescence, lighting a small circle around it, casting her face into sharp relief. Her eyes were deep shadows, save for the twin images of the simple flame they reflected in their depths.
She breathed slowly and evenly, releasing tension like the metered ticking of a metronome…completely absorbed in the moment…holding in her thoughts, because if she let them out…
"Are you okay?" Logan spoke quietly into her ear, making her jump. His breath caused the flame to bend and flicker. She hadn't heard his soft approach, the wheels of the chair almost silent on the polished wooden floor. "Max, are you okay?" he asked again, more firmly, concern evident in his voice.
Max straightened and turned her head to face him, her eyes starting to glisten. "No. No, I'm not all right, Logan."
Logan reached out a tentative hand, cupping the side of her face, gently wiping away a tear with his thumb.
"They take everything from me…" She sucked in a deep breath, struggling for control, seeing his frown and the depth of understanding on his face. "They took my mother, my childhood, my brother, my sister…" She trailed off, unable to continue, her voice shaking. Anger and grief vied for supremacy. Max wrapped her arms around her belly, holding herself tight. She rocked slightly in her seat. Logan drew her toward him, wrapping his arms around her shoulders, pulling her close. Sobs wracked her body, shaking her very core.
Logan held her tight, letting her grief work its way out. "She'll never have a birthday party or go to school, have a first date, boyfriend, best friend…" Max continued. "…never know the love of a mother or father, sister or brother…"
Max pushed back from Logan's grip. Holding his shoulders fiercely, she looked him in the eyes. "She would…could…should have been born today." Max cast a glance at the candle, still burning on the table. "I-I didn't get a cake…but I thought…wherever…whatever…she is…"
"You thought you could give her a birthday candle," Logan finished for her, as her voice trailed off, unable to continue. Logan pulled her onto his lap. He held her there until the candle burned low and eventually guttered, and the first weak rays of the new day's dawning shed their light over the Seattle skyline. Staring out the window, they shared a common grief for what might have been.