Title: Alchemical Currents
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, X-Men
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Slash
Relationship(s): Logan Howlett/Steve Rogers
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Explicit Sex, Violence-Canon-Level, Medical Procedures
Author Notes: Set after X-Men: The Last Stand and Marvel’s The Avengers
Beta: Terry Smith, Jlencre
Word Count: 52,815
Summary: After the Battle of New York, Steve Rogers went on a journey to figure out where he might fit in a strange and uncertain world. He didn’t just find a place for himself in the future, he also discovered a face from his past. Now he just had to figure out how to keep both.
Steve rubbed his cold hands together as he entered the warmth of the bar he’d stopped at for dinner. He’d been on the road with the bike SHEILD had set him up with for a couple months now, but it was approaching autumn and there was just enough chill in the air that he was thinking about figuring out if he wanted to find a home base for the winter, or head further south and keep traveling.
The travel had been good for him. Being on the road and making his own decisions about where to eat and sleep made him feel more like himself than he had in years. It may sound a little backward, because Steve felt out of place almost everywhere he went, but he also felt like he had more control over his life. He figured that he would get called back to SHIELD and the Avengers Initiative eventually, but for now, he was enjoying what freedom he had.
Steve scanned the place briefly, taking in the light evening crowd. There was a small group at the bar closest to one of the TVs watching a football game, and a few other lone patrons seated along the length of the bar. The rest of the room was filled with tables and booths that were mostly empty, save for a middle-aged couple eating together and another small group that looked like they were drinking together after work.
The place didn’t look like anything special, which was perfectly fine with him. The clerk at the gas station a couple miles back had said this was the place for a great burger, and that’s all the persuasion Steve needed. He stepped up to the bar to order and only had to wait a moment for the bartender to make her way over.
“What can I get you?”
Steve smiled. “I’ve heard you have great burgers.”
“That we do! How would you like it?” The bartender pulled out an order pad and a pen.
“Just a classic cheeseburger and fries is good. I’ll take a Coke too.”
The bartender nodded and Steve gave his thanks before turning to find a booth. He didn’t have to wait long for his food, and the burger was indeed tasty. Steve enjoyed just sitting and taking in the atmosphere while he ate. This was normal. Just people living their lives. He enjoyed moments like this. This is the kind of experience he wanted to have when he set out on the road after New York.
Steve had finished his meal and was contemplating heading out to find a place to sleep for the night when raised voices at the bar caught his attention. The commotion was coming from the group that had been watching the football game.
“Come on, boys. It’s just a game. No hard feelings, eh?”
Steve had to take a moment to shake the sense of déjà vu that the voice behind that comment brought. It was so like a voice he knew from another time. It was still disorienting, feeling just months away from fighting in the war.
It was clear the attempt to placate the inebriated group of men had failed and they were itching for a fight. Steve approached as they jeered and stood from their barstools. The four men blocked Steve’s view of the other man that had apparently offended them.
Steve approached. “Now, fellas. There wouldn’t be a problem here, would there?”
The group turned to him and parted, giving Steve a view of someone who shouldn’t be here and now, but somehow was. He felt the blood drain from his face and froze for a moment with the shock of it all.
“It’s none of your business, buddy! We’ll deal with this asshole how we see fit!” came the loud and slightly slurred bark from one of the men.
Steve ignored them and finally pulled himself together enough to clear his throat.
“Who’s askin’?” the man practically growled.
Steve knew logically that neither he, nor the man he knew as Logan Howlett, had any real right to be alive. A lot of time had passed since he had last seen the man. They had fought side by side in Europe for a while.
Still, it made sense, in a way. Steve knew Logan was more than human. He’d seen the man’s healing factor in action more than once, and even witnessed the lethal claws when they’d been fighting their way out of close quarters a time or two. It would follow that Logan’s healing abilities extended his lifespan. Stranger things had happened. Steve was here, after all.
“It’s me, Steve. From the Army. We were overseas together, remember?”
Steve hoped that would be enough to help Logan remember him without revealing the true circumstances of their meeting.
“Hey, man. Stay out of this,” one from the group surrounding them interrupted.
Steve stepped closer to Logan, ignoring the unruly knot of football fans.
“Come on, Logan. Do you remember we fought together?”
The use of his name seemed to spark something small in the man standing before him, so Steve carried on, standing firm despite a couple of guys trying to elbow their way closer.
“Remember the old team? Dugan and Morita? Jones? Sawyer?” Steve tried. He paused and swallowed back his grief. “Barnes?”
Either Logan was starting to remember, or he was realizing that Steve was offering him an out from the fight he was facing.
“Yeah. Yeah, I remember those guys. Good people,” came the rough voice.
“They sure were,” Steve replied quietly, then louder to address the group, “I think my buddy here is just having a little episode of PTSD. No hard feelings, okay? I’ll just get him out of your hair.”
Steve was not above throwing around a few modern terms he had learned to get them out of a scrap. Not that he liked running from a fight, but he knew when to stand up for what was right and when to avoid what the suits at S.H.I.E.L.D. called a PR nightmare. He wanted to keep his anonymity, and find out what Logan was doing here.
“That’s no excuse for talkin’ shit!” one of the men tried again.
Fortunately, the tallest one had some false ideal of patriotism he needed to uphold, because he immediately cuffed the guy around the head.
“Show some respect for a veteran, you idiot!”
Steve slung an arm around Logan’s shoulders and started walking with him toward the exit.
“Thanks for the understanding, gentlemen! Have a good night!” he called over his shoulder.
Thankfully Logan moved with him easily, because Steve knew the man was an immovable force when he wanted to be. When they got outside, Logan brushed off the contact and turned to Steve.
“Thanks for backing me up, but I’m good from here.”
Logan turned to walk away, but Steve’s next words stopped him.
“You really don’t remember me?”
Logan barked a short bitter laugh. “There are a lot of things I don’t remember these days. Nothing personal, bub.”
“We met a long time ago,” Steve started as he took a step closer to him. “A really long time ago. Long enough that it doesn’t make sense that either of us are here right now.”
Logan was silent for a moment, then arched an eyebrow. “I’m thinking maybe this is a conversation we should have somewhere less public.”
“Got any ideas?”
“I’m in the motel up the road,” Logan gestured by sticking his thumb over his shoulder as he spoke.
Steve knew he could trust him. He knew that even if he never remembered him, Logan Howlett was a good man. What he couldn’t figure out is why Logan would trust him. Steve knew enough of the man’s history that if their roles were reversed, he’d be awfully wary of being in a vulnerable position with strangers. Then again, Logan hadn’t really been all that discrete when getting into an argument with some bruisers in a bar either.
“You okay with inviting a stranger in? Just like that?” Steve couldn’t help but ask.
“I can handle myself, and my people know where I am if there’s any funny business. You obviously ain’t afraid of me, so I think you’re probably being honest.”
Steve nodded back toward his bike. “I’ll follow you?”
Steve followed Logan’s nondescript sedan a few blocks to what appeared to be the small town’s only motel. After they parked, he led Steve to one of the first-floor rooms and unlocked the door. When they were both inside, Logan closed the door and turned to Steve, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Let’s not waste time with the niceties. When you say you know me from a long time ago, I’m guessing you mean more than a couple years.”
Steve stood awkwardly near the small table set in the front half of the room. He didn’t know a good way to ease into discussing their past time together, so he plowed forward, like he did with so many other things in life.
“We fought together in World War II.”
Logan made a curious face, clearly wondering how Steve was still walking the earth in 2012, before his expression turned to a small frown.
“Unfortunately, all I remember from that time is the Japanese POW camp, and I don’t remember you being there.”
“Damn,” Steve murmured, then replied louder, “I’m sorry. That must have been after we were together.”
There was so much meaning for Steve behind the word “together” that he felt it like a physical presence in the room. In that moment, Steve realized that he had a lot of hope riding on this man being the Logan he knew and remembering what they had been. Here was the anchor he had been searching for the last few months. One he didn’t think he’d ever have again. And now, walking on this ledge, not knowing the outcome, he couldn’t see a way out except to jump and hope someone caught him.
“We had almost a year together. I was hitting Hydra bases with the Commandos, and we ran into you and Victor. It seemed like command knew what you could do because you went to fight where you pleased. You fit right in with our rag-tag group and no one blinked an eye at your strength and resilience because they’d seen it from me too.”
Steve bowed his head for a moment before looking up again to meet Logan’s curious and intent gaze.
“No one blinked an eye when we fell into bed together either. It started out as quiet comfort in the midst of everything we were seeing day in and day out, but I think I was always drawn to your animalistic passion.”
Logan interrupted him with a snort.
Immediately feeling his hackles rise, Steve retorted, “What? You forgot you like the fellas too? That shouldn’t be as shocking in this day and age, from what I’ve been told.”
“No,” Logan shook his head, smiling. “It’s just that my codename is Wolverine now.”
Now it was Steve’s turn to smile. “Yeah, that’s fitting.”
They were both quiet for a moment. It was clear Logan hadn’t remembered him yet, but he hadn’t kicked him out either.
“So, you don’t have any memory of me at all?” Steve couldn’t help but ask.
Logan let out a long sigh and ran his hands through his hair, making it stick up in that ridiculous way that always seemed to defy the laws of physics.
“Look, kid. A lot of messed up shit has happened to me in the past few decades. Bottom line is that I’ve been around a lot longer than you, even if your story is true and you’re a relic from the 40s. My memory is full of holes. Sometimes something will trigger a memory I thought was lost, but most of the time I never even know what’s missing.”
Steve was ready to admit that being in Logan’s presence for even this short time already had him desperate for the man to remember him. He wasn’t going to give up just yet. He shifted his weight and thought a moment. Maybe if he came at it from a different angle.
“Why’d you end up in Japan? Last I knew you were in Europe.”
Logan shook his head. “I don’t really know. I just remember feeling desperate to fight. Like I had nothing left to lose, so I might as well take a few of the bad guys down with me, ya know? I heard rumors about the intense battles in the Pacific, and I got myself there. I don’t think my head was in the right place, because someone got the drop on me and I ended up a prisoner for a while.”
It wasn’t hard for Steve to guess the event that was the turning point for Logan.
“You thought I died, didn’t you?” Steve looked down at the floor as the memories of that day washed over him. “We went into the Hydra base together. We fought our way through and chased Schmidt to his plane. You kissed me in that car in front of Colonel Phillips.”
“What a pompous asshole,” Logan snapped suddenly, then looked shocked at the words that had just come from his mouth as if he wasn’t quite sure why he was saying them.
“Yeah, he really was. I was so stunned at your reckless stupidity in exposing yourself like that, it didn’t even occur to me it might be our last kiss until I had turned the plane down and the ice was rushing up at me and it was too late to truly appreciate the grand romantic gesture.”
Steve took a moment and breathed through the myriad of emotions reliving those moments brought. He watched Logan carefully. The other man was frowning and staring intently at the generic abstract print hung on the wall above the bed. It was obvious he was working through something in his head.
“I was angry at you for pushing me back at the last second. I wanted to be on that plane with you.” Logan’ quiet low voice cut through the moment of silence.
Steve met Logan’s steady gaze and finally allowed that seed of hope to start blooming.
“Is that why you didn’t talk to me over the radio? Peggy was there, but… you were the person I really wanted to say goodbye to.”
“Peggy…she was never your girl.” Logan stepped closer to Steve until he was standing right in front of him. He slowly brought his hands up to hold Steve’s face and swept his thumbs over his cheekbones.
Steve let out a shuddering breath at the contact and closed his eyes. “No, never.”
“It was Peggy. She was the one who kept me out once she knew what was going to happen. We all flirted and joked, but she knew what we were to each other. I think that’s why she didn’t let me on the radio. She was trying to protect us,” Logan answered softly.
“You remember,” Steve said, just barely above a whisper. “Do you remember?”
“Yeah, Steve. I remember you. I remember us.”
As he spoke, Logan pulled Steve into an embrace. Steve sank into it with relief and bent his head down to rest on Logan’ shoulder while his hands came up to grip the back of his jacket. They stood that way for long seconds as their hearts beat fast with the relief and happiness and intensity of the moment.
“Damnit,” Logan cursed.
Steve lifted his head. “What?”
“We have half a century to catch up on, and I should probably be questioning how you’re really here and if you’re really you and a hundred other things, but all I want to do is kiss you.”
Steve didn’t have a thought of hesitation as he pressed his lips to Logan’s. There was only the briefest moment of awkward tension before the familiar lust sparked and their kiss turned heated. Steve opened his mouth to Logan and they traded intimate caresses of tongue and lips. Steve pressed himself against Logan and let out a short moan at the familiar strength of the man’s muscled body.
After a few drugging minutes of contact, Steve pulled away. “It’s only been a few months for me.”
“Well, I ain’t exactly been celibate either, but I don’t need to know all the details of your sexual history,” Logan replied with an amused quirk of his eyebrows.
Steve gently slapped his hand on Logan’s chest with a huff. “No, I mean I remember being with you just a few months ago. I crashed Schmidt’s plane into the arctic, and the ice and freezing temperatures kept me unconscious and in a stasis of sorts. I only woke up shortly before the Battle of New York.”
“Oh,” Logan murmured with a frown. Then he embraced Steve tightly again. “Shit, Steve.”
Steve’s responding laugh was thick with emotion. “Yeah, my life is crazy, right?”
“I think I can give you a run for your money in that department, but we can compare notes later,” Logan said as he pulled back enough to look at Steve again. “I’m on board with whatever you want. I’m here with you.”
Steve shrugged. “It feels like I’ve just been handed a part of my old life back, and I probably shouldn’t want it as badly as I do. Maybe I should be moving on and living in the present, but I don’t think I even really had time to stop loving you, much less move on.”
Logan was silent a beat too long, and Steve could practically see in his eyes the years the man had lived in the time they’d been apart.
“I’m afraid I’m a different man from the one you knew,” Logan countered.
“We all change,” Steve acknowledged, “but that drive inside you for justice and good in the world isn’t something you could ever really lose. That’s the man I knew then, and I know it will be part of you now.”
Logan chuckled and shook his head. Steve gave him a challenging look.
“You always had the wisdom of an eighty-year-old man, even before you were actually an eighty-year-old man.”
Steve laughed even as he leaned in to kiss Logan again. His amusement was almost immediately put aside for the drive to be closer to him. They kissed hard and almost wild. Steve didn’t realize Logan had been pushing his leather jacket off his arms, until it was hitting the floor behind him.
After that, they stripped each other quickly between messy kisses and climbed on the bed to lay naked together. Steve eagerly bent his head to kiss and nip down Logan’s chest. His senses were flooded with textures, sights, and smells that were so familiar it made him feel like no time had passed between them.
As he reached Logan’s cock, he paused and looked up to find the other man’s hungry gaze focused on him. Steve didn’t break eye contact as he slowly licked up its length with the flat of his tongue.
“Fuck, yes,” Logan rumbled.
Steve watched Logan’s eyes close and head tip back with satisfaction as he brought his lips over the head and slowly took the entire length into his mouth. He loved doing this. Feeling the weight on his tongue and the shudders of pleasure coming from his partner built his own arousal. Any other thoughts dropped out of his field of consciousness as he concentrated on his task.
Steve kept a regular rhythm for a while, but then relaxed his throat to take Logan in as deep as possible. Logan’s growl of approval was all the incentive Steve needed to increase his pace until Logan was spilling down his throat with a shout.
He took a moment to lean his head on Logan’s thigh and catch his breath, but Logan was pulling him up and into his arms after just a few moments.
“Come-on, sweetheart. Let me touch you.”
Steve’s breath left him in a rush as Logan wrapped a hand around his erection. He always loved the feel of those hands on him. Strong and dangerous hands gently hitting all the spots that Logan had long ago discovered were the most sensitive.
Logan wrapped his hand so his fingers could tease the underside of Steve’s cock with every stroke. Steve’s arousal was already coiling in his core, but he leaned in to messily kiss Logan again. His sheer pleasure at being with this man again pushing him over the edge into what was the most intense orgasm he’d had in months.
Logan let go and wiped his hand on the sheets next to them before bringing it up to cradle Steve’s head where it was laid on his chest. Steve just drifted in the moment, panting as he caught his breath. The intensity of the relief and satisfaction had a few tears leaking from his closed eyes. After a few minutes Logan started combing his fingers through Steve’s short hair.
“Thank you,” Steve said softly.
Logan chuckled. “For that quick romp? I can do so much better than that.”
“No,” Steve hesitated only a moment before admitting, “for holding me. I think you’re honestly the last person to make me feel cared for in such a way, and I’m just so grateful to have that back.”
“Ah, hell, sweetheart,” Logan said. “It’s okay to put down the shield and take care of yourself sometimes.”
Steve sighed. “Yeah. I think that’s what I thought I was doing when I stepped away after New York, but then you came along and made me realize I was still just playing the part. We always…I don’t know if it’s the right way to describe it, but we always took care of each other. Fought together and then held each other together when it was over.”
Logan made a humming noise and pulled the covers over them. “Well, despite all odds, we found each other, so maybe we can figure out how to do this again fifty years later.”
“Yeah, I’d like that,” Steve murmured before leaning in for a quick kiss.
They moved until they had settled comfortably with Logan wrapped around Steve from behind, and Steve quickly fell into a contented sleep.
Steve had been awake for a few minutes. The early dawn light was just seeping through the edges of the blinds. He had always been an early riser, and that hadn’t changed during his travels. After a few minutes of staring at the ceiling, wondering what he should do about Logan, he heard the other man’s breathing change as he began to wake.
They had stayed close during the night, used to sharing a cot or whatever they could find when they had the opportunity during the war. It was almost too easy to fall back into habits they had developed decades before. It was both comforting and unsettling at the same time, but Steve figured they would eventually figure out what worked for them in their lives now.
That was his hope, anyway. He was probably being reckless with his heart in all the assumptions he was making about Logan wanting to continue where they had left off. That was a problem for another day though, because right now he had Logan’s fingers stroking through his hair.
“Good morning,” Steve rumbled, voice still rough from sleep.
Logan didn’t stop the motion of his hand through Steve’s hair as he replied. “Good is a bit of an understatement.”
Steve’s answering chuckle was interrupted by a soft scratching sound at the lock on the door. They both froze for a moment, listening. It was clearly the sound of someone picking the lock, and Steve didn’t think they would have heard it if they weren’t both a little more than human. He quickly and quietly reached for his shield where it lay next to the bed and held it ready.
After only a few seconds the knob turned and the door was thrust open, a figure stepped inside, gun raised. Steve and Logan abruptly sat up, and Logan unsheathed his claws on the hand that wasn’t hidden behind Steve’s torso. Steve had raised his shield, ready to deflect a shot if it came.
“Agent Romanoff?” Steve questioned, when he realized who was standing in the door to their room with weapon aimed.
Natasha lowered her gun slightly. “You okay, Rogers?”
“Who the fuck are you?” Logan practically growled.
“Uh, she-she’s with S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Steve stammered distractedly, dropping his shield to the bed. He was busy inspecting the knife-like metal claws that Logan displayed where Steve had only known bone before. “So… are those new?”
Logan spared Steve a brief glance, and smirked. “We haven’t really had much time for talking, have we? I’d forgotten you haven’t had a chance to see my shiny new toys in action yet.”
Agent Romanoff cleared her throat. Steve turned back to her.
“What are you doing breaking into our room? How did you even know I was here?”
“Months you’re on the road alone and suddenly you end up in a guys’ motel room? A guy who happens to be a known mutant with powers? Of course we’d come looking for you,” Natasha replied without lowering her gun.
“Okay,” Steve took a beat to process the loss of what little privacy he naively thought he had. “Well, I’m clearly not in danger here, so can you lower your weapon?”
“Only if he puts his away and keeps them there.” Natasha said tersely.
Logan neatly sheathed his claws, but Steve could feel that the man hadn’t lost any of the tension in his body and would surely respond quickly to any threat. Thankfully, Natasha holstered her gun in turn.
“You’ve verified my wellbeing. Was there anything else?” Steve said to break the ensuing awkward moment where it appeared none of them knew what to say next.
Steve watched as Natasha calculatingly shifted her weight to make her body language more relaxed, though it was clear she was still wary of Logan.
“Yes, actually. We could use your help on a mission I think you’d be personally interested in. I can debrief you now and you can liaise with a S.H.I.E.L.D. team at the drop site.”
Before Steve could respond, Logan threw back the covers that had been hiding his nakedness and stood.
“I don’t know about you Steve, but I could use a shower before anything else.”
Steve watched with amusement as Natasha worked to hide her discomfort. He figured he was rearranging a few assumptions she had made about him. Everyone seemed to think they’d all been repressed virgins in the 1940s. Years in the army had done away with any shame Steve had left, and he gracefully swept back the remaining covers and stood to follow Logan into the bathroom.
“There’s a diner down the road with great hash browns. We can meet you there in 20,” Logan called over his shoulder as he stepped into their en suite.
“Better make it an hour. I plan on getting distracted in the shower,” Steve smiled at Natasha as he closed the bathroom door behind him.
Steve listened to Natasha step out of their room and close the door behind her before heading into the shower. Logan already had the water going, and Steve stepped in to find him wetting his hair under the spray.
“I’m sorry. I thought we’d have more time before anything came up,” Steve murmured as he stepped into Logan’ s space and slid both hands around his waist to pull him closer.
Logan snorted. “I personally find it entirely too convenient that S.H.I.E.L.D. would find you a mission to pull you away the first time you connect with someone that isn’t one of theirs.”
Steve couldn’t deny that, but he’d trusted his dealings with the organization so far. “You think the mission isn’t real?”
“Oh, my guess would be that it’s real,” Logan replied while reaching for the shampoo, “but I bet some other grunt could do the work when it comes down to it.”
Steve sighed in thought and took his turn under the water, while Logan lathered.
“I fought with Natasha in the Battle of New York. We’re on the same side,” Steve offered after a few moments.
“I know. I saw a lot of footage of the incursion during and after.”
“You saw me fighting in New York?” Steve asked, wondering if Logan had seen him before.
“Well, yeah. It was on the news, and we had geared up to help if needed, but I didn’t think it was the real Captain America. I didn’t remember you as my Steve then, but I knew the propaganda history of Captain America like everyone else. I thought those assholes at S.H.I.E.L.D. just put someone else in the costume. They seem to like to use people like that.”
“Who’s we?” Steve asked as they continued to wash themselves. “We never got around to that last night.”
Logan’s responding smile was downright lustful. “Yeah, well, I had other things on my mind.”
Steve snorted, but smiled back at Logan and leaned in for a quick kiss.
“I work as a teacher at a school for mutant kids. Genetically enhanced humans that have a range of different powers and abilities. The man who runs the school, Charles Xavier, is a mutant himself and assembled a team of us that are able to respond to unique threats. They call us the X-men.”
“Threats?” Steve questioned.
“Ya know, mad scientist of the week type stuff, with the occasional threat to Earth thrown in.”
Steve took one of Logan’s hands and gently ran his thumb across the knuckles. “Did they give you the new hardware?”
“No, that’s another long story you don’t want to hear right now, but the end result is that I have adamantium metal coating my bones and these instead of the claws,” Logan raise his other hand and extended his metal claws for Steve to inspect.
Steve ran his finger along the blade edge of one and pulled back when it cut him, and a small bead of blood began to form.
Logan hissed. “Shit. Don’t do that, Rogers.”
He retracted his claws and took Steve’s hand in both of his, first rinsing away the blood under the shower spray and then pressing gently on the wound. Steve watched, relaxed and sort of mesmerized.
“It’s fine. I heal fast, remember?”
Logan grunted his displeasure. “Yes, I damn well remember, Steve. Doesn’t mean you should hurt yourself for no reason.”
Steve just shrugged. He had a high pain tolerance, and he couldn’t stop himself from being curious about the weapons that were now part of Logan’s body.
“You’re one to talk, you know,” Steve pointed to the newly healed scars where the blades had cut through the surface of Logan’s skin.
“Yeah, well, let’s not get into an argument about who’s the bigger masochist. We already know we’ll go in circles with that one.”
Steve couldn’t help but laugh. He had always counted on Logan to lighten the mood with less than tactful comments. It was good to see that hadn’t changed.
Logan interrupted Steve’s amusement with a kiss. Kissing Logan was so easy when so much else in his current life was not.
They kissed in the steamy shower stall for what was probably only a few minutes, but Steve wasn’t really aware of time while being so thoroughly immersed in physical contact with Logan. He loved roaming his hands over the planes of strong muscle, and moaned shamelessly into the kiss when Logan did the same.
As had usually been the case with them, their kissing and touching turned fast and passionate as the lust between them flared brightly from where it had been simmering in the background. Steve brought his hands around from where they’d been exploring Logan’s back and slid them down between their bodies. He gripped Logan’s cock in one hand and teased the sensitive skin around his balls with the other.
Logan let out a low grunt at the contact and gently thrust into Steve’s grip as he played. Steve wasn’t holding himself back and they were both letting out noises of pleasure now. Just when Steve was starting to wonder where Logan wanted to go next, he pulled Steve closer and moved them so he could join Steve in stroking both their cocks together.
Their kissing got sloppy as they panted and moaned into each other’s mouths. Steve’s whole body shuddered when Logan swept a thumb under the head of his already leaking cock.
“More. Come on,” Steve murmured between kisses.
Logan kissed along Steve’s jawline until he reached his ear. “I wish we had time for a real fuck. Do you have any idea how much I want to be stretched around you right now?”
Logan’s words were punctuated with the motion of his hand over their erections. Steve dropped his head onto Logan’s shoulder and moaned as the combination of words and touch brought him closer to the edge.
“I’ve missed this beautiful cock. No one fills me up as good as you. I can’t wait for you to pound into me until we’re both so far gone we can’t think.”
Logan increased the pace of his strokes and Steve cried out as his orgasm washed over him. As his warm come spread over their hands and cocks, Logan tensed momentarily and then joined him in release with a low groan.
They stood still together for a few seconds afterward and then moved, a little clumsy in the afterglow, to rinse off under the spray. Steve would have loved to crawl back into bed and explore some of the things Logan had described, but his sense of duty was too strong to allow him to do that. Logan seemed to sense Steve had transitioned to concentrate on his responsibilities because he started getting dressed quietly and efficiently.
Just as Steve was about to pull on his jacket, Logan broke the silence.
“Do you trust Romanoff?”
Steve shrugged. “I do as much as anyone else from SHIELD, but I know anyone that has worked intelligence type operations is probably very good at manipulation and deceit. We’ve fought together though, and I like to think that counts for something.”
“Okay, that’s smart,” Logan agreed. “Do you want me to come along?”
Steve crossed the room to wear Logan stood next to the bed packing a small duffel. He stepped in close and pulled him into a loose embrace with hands around his waist.
“I know we’ve sort of rushed through this so far, but I was hoping that we could take some time to reconnect and maybe see where that goes?”
Steve couldn’t help but be a little nervous about what Logan’s response would be. The reality was that he had no idea what had happened in Logan’s life for the last half a century. He didn’t honestly know what kind of response he was going to get.
Steve shouldn’t have worried. Without a moment of hesitation Logan leaned down and gave Steve a gentle peck on the lips.
“I fully intend on spending time with you now that I have you back, but that doesn’t have to mean you walk away from anything else you want to do,” Logan said with a sincerity Steve could feel.
Steve let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Thanks. I still don’t know what I’m doing here, but I know I don’t want to let you go again.”
Logan just pulled Steve in for a tight hug. They lingered in the embrace before Steve finally pulled back.
“So, want to come see what Agent Romanoff wants?”
Logan smiled mischievously. “Lead the way, Captain.”
Steve flipped Logan his middle finger as he strode out the door.
They found Agent Romanoff seated at a booth at the only diner in town and joined her. Steve noticed how she watched Logan carefully. He grabbed a menu off the table and began looking it over, suddenly starving. Natasha looked like she was just about to say something when the waiter interrupted her.
“Coffee this morning, gentlemen?”
Steve smiled at the young man who was their server. “I’ll just have some orange juice, but he’ll want black coffee.”
Steve didn’t miss the way Natasha’s brow pinched at his obvious familiarity with Logan. They waited in awkward silence at the waiter got their drinks and then placed their breakfast order when he returned.
That settled, Steve gestured for Natasha to get started. “So, what had you breaking down our door this morning?”
“Aside from making sure a SHIELD asset was accounted for, he means,” Logan said brusquely before Natasha could reply.
Steve took his hand under the table, grateful that Logan was here to have his back. He wanted to trust SHIELD and Natasha, but the whole situation was uncomfortable.
“We just wanted to make sure Steve was safe,” she responded coolly.
Steve laughed incredulously. “Safe from what? Logan?”
Natasha raised a perfectly groomed eyebrow. “The Wolverine is a mutant with a powerful healing factor, enhanced strength and metal claws. You were seen going into a motel room with him alone.”
Steve looked at Logan. “Should we have invited someone else? It’s been a while since we’ve done that, but it might be fun.”
Logan just smiled sweetly back at him. “Nah, I’d like to keep you to myself for now.”
Steve turned back to Natasha to find her actually frowning at him.
“Captain, we’d like your help with a mission,” Romanoff started. “I can give you an initial briefing now before you travel to the rendezvous point where a support team will meet you, but that briefing doesn’t include him.”
It was Logan’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “If you know who I am, then you know as a member of the X-men I’ve probably got the same level of government clearance Steve does. Working with not-so-secret pseudo-government agencies is something we have in common, Agent Romanoff.”
Steve watched Natasha process Logan’s challenge and make her decision before giving her pitch.
“We have reason to believe we’ve found a base of operations for an anti-government terrorist cell. From what we can tell, it’s an underground facility with some sort of lab or possibly metal fabrication facility. Maybe both. They’ve been smart about it, and it took us a long time to connect the dots between a combination of intel, paper trail and confirmation of location.”
Logan didn’t comment, but Steve could tell he wanted to.
“Are any of the other Avengers involved?” Steve asked. “You or Agent Barton maybe?”
Natasha shook her head. “No one else is available. Barton is on an assignment out of the country, and I’m about to be as well. We were hoping you’d step in to the lead the team.”
“What about Tony? Seems like he’d be the guy with the tools to blow his way into a bunker.”
This time Natasha rolled her eyes. “He’s off in Malibu doing whatever it is a rich guy does. He’s been too busy to even check in.”
Steve knew Tony Stark was a busy guy, but that didn’t seem like the man with whom he’d recently become acquainted. Steve had come to learn in the short time he’d gotten to know him that Tony had as much of a sense of duty and hero complex as any of them.
“I thought Doctor Banner was working with him now,” Steve replied.
“Not last I heard.”
Natasha didn’t offer any more information than that. Steve knew that when the Avengers were brought together they weren’t meant to be a permanent strike team, but he had been hoping he wouldn’t have to take his first SHIELD mission with a team he didn’t know. Still, he’d been on the road a long time, and was starting to feel like he should get back to work.
Steve nodded decisively. “I’d like to get back to doing something useful. I’ll take the mission.”
“Great,” Natasha said, looking a fraction more relaxed. “You and your bike can catch a ride back with me on the jet.”
“When is the mission actually scheduled?” Steve said, raising his hand in a gesture for her to wait. “I’m assuming it’s not immediately or you would have said as much.”
Natasha seemed to hesitate a moment, but then replied.
“You’d need to report to DC by Thursday at 1200.”
“Okay,” Steve nodded his acceptance. That was three days from now. “I’ll report to SHIELD at that time.”
Natasha didn’t necessarily seem happy with his choice, but she didn’t seem to appear to be willing to make him report early either, so Steve took that for acceptance.
Natasha stood, and held out her hand. “Nice seeing you again Steve. I’m sure we’ll run into each other again soon.”
“Hopefully you’ll wait until I have all my clothes on next time,” Steve replied while accepting the handshake.
“Mr. Howlett,” Natasha nodded in Logan’s direction.
“Ms. Romanoff,” Logan returned with a less than sincere smile.
With that, she strode out of the diner and Steve watched through the window as she got into a black sedan and drove away.
“You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. SHIELD isn’t a small organization, and they can surely find someone else for this job,” Logan said quietly.
Steve got up and moved to the opposite side of the booth, pushing away Natasha’s abandoned coffee.
“I still want to do something useful with my life and fight for what’s right. If SHIELD wants me to help take down small-time terrorists, I think I’m okay with that for now.”
Steve smiled when Logan tangled their feet together under the table.
“Okay,” Logan said with a shrug. “Just don’t ever think you owe SHIELD anything.”
Steve wanted to ask more about that, but just then their food was brought to the table. They didn’t waste any time in digging into the meal.
“What did I tell you?” Logan broke into their silent eating. “Fantastic hash browns. Am I right?”
Steve’s smile came easily. “Yeah, you picked the right place for our first date this century.”
Logan chuckled. “Damn, I guess you’re right. Now you’re making me feel like I should have made it more special.”
Steve reached across the table and laid his hand out for Logan to take. The other man did without hesitation.
“Finding you again? That’s more than I ever thought would happen when I woke up here. I’d be happy eating rations in a foxhole with you.”
Logan’s responding smile was sweet and genuine. “So, what would you like to do with your couple last days on the road?”
“Actually, would you want to head to Malibu? It doesn’t sit right with me that Tony hasn’t been in contact. We didn’t exactly get along well from the start, but he doesn’t really strike me as the kind of guy to just stop being involved. Not with the kind of drive he has.
“I thought he was on board with the Avengers Initiative, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it seems like it’s worth a conversation. That plus the fact that we could take my bike down the coast together, and I think it sounds like a worthwhile detour.”
Logan leaned in a bit and spoke his reply lowly. “Hours pressed up against you on a motorcycle? That’s not even a question, bub.”
“Thanks,” Steve said as he ran a hand over his hair and sat back in the booth. “I’ve come to realize over the last couple months that I really don’t know all that much about the world these days, and I might put on a good front, but all that is just bravado. I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing for the right people.”
“Hey, you think I have all this figured out? I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered, but if talking to Stark will help, let’s do it.”
They finished their breakfast and then Steve followed Logan to return his rental car. When they had that settled, Logan stowed his small duffel in one of the saddle bags and straddled the bike behind Steve. Logan seemed to mold perfectly into Steve’s back, and he smiled as Logan’s arms came around to gently embrace him from behind. They set off toward the coast and California.
Steve got off the bike and stretched. Even with his superior healing factor, an entire day on a motorcycle left him a bit stiff. Logan seemed to have faired the same. They had made good time, only stopping for gas and meals, though they did have one memorable break on an abandoned stretch of beach in northern California where they’d quickly snuck out of sight of the highway and sucked each other off. All that close contact and vibration had been driving them crazy.
The long trip together had been nice. They’d talked some when they stopped to refuel and grab food, and just quietly enjoyed the scenery other times. Steve had been interested to learn all about Logan’s life now as a teacher and one of the X-men. They hadn’t covered everything by half, but he was already feeling like he knew a lot more about the years they’d been apart.
They had traveled for over fourteen hours and it was now approaching midnight. Steve had parked in the street at the end of a gated drive that led to Tony Stark’s Malibu home. He looked over at Logan.
“It’s late, maybe we should wait until morning?”
Logan looked up at what they could see of the mansion. “I’m sure he has room for us and staff that could let us in. Let’s just give it a try. We can always go find a hotel if no one is around.”
“Yeah, okay,” Steve agreed as he stepped up to the box that seemed to hold a speaker.
“Excuse me,” Steve started politely.
Without even a crackle, a polite voice Steve recognized came over the speaker. “Good evening, Captain Rogers and Mr. Howlett. How can I be of assistance?”
Logan gave Steve a quizzical look at being identified. Steve had a little experience with Jarvis, so he wasn’t too surprised, but he was pretty sure Logan hadn’t met Tony’s artificial intelligence before.
“Uh, I’d like to see Tony if he’s around. Not if he’s asleep, obviously, but in the morning if possible,” Steve answered, a little unsure of himself and late hour.
“Mr. Stark is currently awake. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
After a moment of waiting in awkward silence, Jarvis’ voice returned. “Mr. Stark will meet you in the living room. Please park your vehicle in front of the house.”
The gate opened and Steve and Logan rode the bike slowly up the long drive. The front door of the house opened for them as they approached, and they stepped in to a dimly lit foyer.
“Change of plans!” Tony’s voice echoed in a yell from the hallway that stretched in front of them. “Come on down to the kitchen for coffee!”
Steve and Logan walked in the direction Tony’s voice had come from and passed through a wide doorway at the end of the hall to a brightly lit kitchen. They found Tony doing something to a contraption that must be the coffee machine. He was fully dressed, so Steve figured they hadn’t actually woken him with their late arrival.
Tony glanced back at them over his shoulder. “Hey, Rogers. What brings you and Professor X’s Wolverine here? You guys want some coffee? This thing’s almost done. You must be hungry too. You want some food? We probably have stuff for sandwiches around here somewhere. Jarvis?”
Tony’s tone was clearly attempting to be casual, but the frenetic speech seemed a little off. Steve didn’t know him well enough to know if it was just Tony or something more. He was fully dressed, but in worn looking jeans and a t-shirt that seemed to be covered in spots of oil and other unidentifiable smudges as if he’d been working on a project. When he knew his father, Howard, Steve had seen him get going on an idea and be almost frantic in pursuit of getting it done. This didn’t really seem the same though.
“Sorry to show up on your doorstep so late. I wanted to touch base with you, but we can just crash for the night and catch up tomorrow,” Steve offered.
Tony turned around to face them, wielding a pot of coffee. “No, no. That’s fine. I was up anyway. Jarvis, do we have some turkey or something?”
“Yes, sir. Cold cuts and cheese are in the fridge. Bread is in the pantry,” Jarvis’ calm voice came over the room’s hidden speakers.
Tony set down the coffee and moved around the kitchen pulling out plates and all the fixings for sandwiches. Steve shared a look with Logan that seemed to express their mutual confusion but willingness to go with Tony’s whims.
“Food and coffee sound great after our long drive here, so thanks,” Logan spoke up.
“Oh. Yeah. Why are you guys here anyway?” Tony asked as he brought a loaf of bread to the kitchen island and gestured for them to sit at the stools set up there. “And how do you guys even know each other? And what’s the mighty Wolverine I’ve heard so many tall tales about doing in California?”
“You’ve heard tales about me?” Logan returned a question.
Tony gestured vaguely with the hand that wasn’t piling meat onto a slice of bread. “Oh, your patron Chuck and I go back. We’ve met a few times over the years.”
Logan chuckled. “You smart rich types have a super-secret club or something?”
Steve wasn’t sure how Tony would take that, but when he looked up at them, Tony burst out laughing.
“Shit, Steve. How’d you get wrapped up with a bad influence like this guy?”
Steve shifted on his stool and leaned close enough to put an arm around Logan’s shoulders. “We fought together in the war. Did a lot more than that, really. It was a happy accident that we ran into each other again yesterday.”
Logan met Steve’s affectionate gaze and leaned in to place a quick kiss on his temple.
“I see,” Tony replied, one eyebrow arched high. “A very happy accident then. It’s seems I’m too late to corrupt you.”
Tony paused in his sandwich making and stood there a moment. Then he seemed to restart, waving both his hands in front of him.
“Wait, wait, wait. So, you’re telling me that Mr. Wolverine over here–”
“Logan,” Steve interrupted.
“–Logan, nice to officially meet you, by the way,” Tony continued. “Logan has been around as long as you have, and you fought in World War II together and had a secret gay love affair at the same time? Damn, Capsicle, that’s a lot for a guy to take in. You’ve been holding out on us.”
Steve looked down sheepishly. “I know we got off on the wrong foot, Tony, but I wasn’t trying to hide who I was.”
Steve took a deep breath and a moment to think.
“Well, let me rephrase that. I wasn’t trying to hide any more than I normally would. Logan and I were a well-known secret among those we trusted, but we still tried to be discrete. I didn’t know that any of that would have changed when I woke up. By the time I learned the law and military policies had changed and I could be open about whoever I loved, I didn’t really see the point, because I didn’t have Logan anymore.”
Tony stood with hands on hips taking in Steve’s explanation. When he was finished, Tony held up a hand.
“No worries, Cap. We’re good. We’re all on the same team, right?”
Steve nodded. “Yeah. Thanks, Tony.”
Tony finished up the third sandwich and passed out plates to all of them before sitting down himself.
“Okay, so I definitely want to hear the story of how on a cross country road trip you just so happened to run into your long-lost love. First though, why did you come knocking on my door at such an hour?”
“I’m going to start taking missions with SHIELD. I’m due to report for one the day after tomorrow,” Steve explained.
Tony’s expression seemed to close off a bit. “Congrats, Spangles. I’m sure it will feel good to get back up on the horse.”
“Agent Romanoff tracked me down and asked me to come in.”
“It was really more breaking and entering our hotel room after stalking you across the country,” Logan interrupted with a grumble.
Tony raised his eyebrows. “That’s a lot of cynicism coming from someone who works for a guy that can read his mind.”
Logan shrugged. “I know it’s a bit of a double standard, but Xavier earned my trust. If SHIELD and what’s-her-face had really been worried instead of just stalking Steve, she’d have confronted us last night, not picked the lock this morning. If I’d been a threat, Steve would’ve already been dead, and I’d have been long gone.”
Steve couldn’t hide his surprise at Logan’s statement. The honest assessment was shaking up his perspective on SHIELD a bit.
“Fair point,” Tony admitted. “So, the question still remains, why come here?”
“None of the other Avengers are involved. Natasha didn’t seem to even know where everyone was, or care. It just sits a little wrong with me to work together as a team, and then go our separate ways like that. I thought it might help me feel better about taking this mission to touch base with you first. See how you were doing.”
Tony actually seemed to pause and reflect on Steve’s explanation.
“Look, SHIELD has been sort of spying on me in various ways for years,” Tony eventually offered. “I go along with it because I think Fury probably has good intentions despite his methods, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to fully trust them.”
“I appreciate your honesty, Tony,” Steve said sincerely. “Spying though? I thought SHIELD only spies on potential threats?”
Logan snorted. Tony looked up at him.
“Got something to say on the matter, Edward Scissorhands?” Tony asked.
“Who?” Steve interrupted with a confused look.
“Movie. Guy had knives for fingers,” Tony said while waggling his fingers in the air. “He eventually became a barber.”
“I’m not great with hair, bub. Sorry to let you down,” Logan shot back with a chuckle.
“So, SHIELD?” Steve attempted to get them back on track.
“Oh, yeah. They totally planted Romanoff as an employee in my company to keep an eye on me. They wanted to bring me into the fold for a long time. It took a serious threat to the world for me to put myself within Fury’s reach, and I’m still not happy about it.”
“So, this keeping tabs on potential assets is nothing new?” Steve asked with a frown.
“Nah,” Logan jumped in. “They track mutants too. We try to contact young mutants that might need help with their gifts, and nine times out of ten we run into SHIELD along the way.”
“Yeah, they like to stick their noses all up in everyone’s business. Now, enough work talk at the dinner table.” Tony said clapping and rubbing his hands together, “If you ladies are done stuffing your faces, you want to see the new suit? I think Mark 42 is ready for testing.”
“Sir, I don’t think testing at this time is wise. I’d like some more time to run diagnostics and you haven’t slept in over 72 hours.”
Steve raised his eyebrows at hearing that. That long without sleep couldn’t be healthy. They’d all pushed themselves when there was work to be done or a fight to be fought, but this didn’t seem like such extreme circumstances. He had to wonder if insomnia was a problem for Tony.
“Are you sure you should be flying a tin can while drowsy?” Logan spoke up.
Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s not a tin can.” He sighed and then continued, “Okay, let’s call it a night then, Mom. I’ll get you guys hooked up with a room.”
Steve didn’t want Tony to feel pressured to put them up. “We can find somewhere to spend the night. Don’t feel like you need to let us stay.”
“Nonsense,” Tony said over his shoulder as he started walking out of the kitchen and back through the house. “I have a perfectly good guest room with your name on it. It’s no sweat.”
Tony led them back out to the motorcycle and showed Steve where to park it in the large garage. Then they grabbed their bags and headed back inside. Tony took them up to a room that was more than large enough with a king size bed, a full en suite bathroom and a view of the ocean out the large windows. It looked very comfortable, and Steve told Tony as much.
“Enjoy, guys. We’ll catch up tomorrow, okay?” Tony said as he walked out.
“Goodnight, and thanks again,” Steve returned as he closed the bedroom door.
Logan was already pulling off his jeans and shirt in preparation for sleep. Steve did the same and soon they were both settled in bed. He lay on his back for a few minutes, tired but not yet able to sleep.
Logan broke the silence. “You feeling different about your decision to take this mission?”
Steve sighed and made a humming noise to indicate his indecision.
“Hopefully you can talk things through with Tony more tomorrow,” Logan replied softly. “You know, I know what it’s like to learn to trust people, a team, again. Don’t feel like you need to rush into this. Captain America doesn’t owe SHIELD anything, and neither does Steve Rogers.”
Steve rolled toward Logan and settled with his head on Logan’s chest and their legs tangled together.
“Since when did you get so eloquent?” Steve said with a quiet chuckle.
He could hear Logan’s smile in his reply. “Shut up. You’re just some kid from Brooklyn. What do you know?”
Logan inhaled deeply as he woke. He was pressed up against Steve’s back and the smell and feel of the other man was all around him. He loved being pressed up against such a warm body with acres of hard muscle under warm skin at his fingertips.
He nuzzled the skin just behind Steve’s ear and started kissing what he could reach of Steve’s neck. Steve grunted and rolled to face Logan, pulling him close.
“Morning, darlin’,” Logan practically purred in Steve’s ear before capturing his lips in a kiss.
Steve’s kisses were the closest to drunk Logan could feel, and he relaxed into the sensations, giving back in equal measure. He wasn’t satisfied with just kissing for long though, so Logan broke for breath long enough to take off the boxers and undershirt he’d slept in and encourage Steve to do the same.
“Fuck me,” Steve panted as they came back together in an embrace.
Logan met Steve’s gaze with a questioning one of his own. “You sure that’s what you want right now?”
Steve rolled his eyes at the slightly overprotective display. They hadn’t actually had penetrative sex more than a few times back in the war. Logan couldn’t speak for Steve, but it had made him feel too vulnerable and dangerous, no matter which of them topped. But now, a lot of the baggage and the circumstances that made it complicated for them in the past wasn’t even a factor. The world had changed in a thousand ways since they’d last done this, and it was apparent that Steve wanted to enjoy the freedoms they now had.
“Look, I know this was complicated before, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. We don’t have to sneak around or wait until we have a safe place to lay our heads.”
Logan leaned in and kissed him again, sucking lightly at Steve’s lower lip as he pulled back.
“It will never not be amazing to me that we found each other like this,” Logan remarked softly.
“Yeah,” Steve breathed out, “now stop thinking so much about it and fuck me.”
Logan laughed lowly as he leaned over to rummage around in the nightstand drawer. He came back holding a sealed tube of lubricant.
“Bless Tony Stark for being a great host.”
Steve laughed. “Stop talking about another man in bed.”
Logan playfully rolled on top of him. “Oh, but Stevie, sometimes that can be fun.”
Steve rolled his hips up against Logan’s groin. The groan that pulled out of Logan gave away the game.
“Come on. Fuck me, Logan.”
“Yeah,” Logan panted as he slicked a couple fingers and slid them down to circle Steve’s hole.
Steve arched into the intimate sensation, and then relaxed back into the bed, watching Logan through half-lidded eyes. Logan wasn’t rough but didn’t prolong it either, and Steve clearly loved it. By the time he was easily taking the two fingers thrusting steadily, he was eager for more.
“Logan, now!” Steve demanded.
“Damn, I love how bossy you are,” Logan growled back.
Steve groaned at the loss of Logan’s fingers, but let out a relieved sigh when the blunt head of his cock pressed up against his hole. Logan pressed forward steadily, only pausing a couple of times to let Steve adjust. When Logan’s balls press against Steve’s skin, he pulled his knees open further, pulling Logan as deep as possible.
“Shit. You’re so tight,” Logan panted against Steve’s chest before leaning up to kiss him sloppily.
Steve ended the kiss, breathing heavily himself. “Please, move.”
“Don’t have to ask me twice, sweetheart.”
With that, Logan pulled back slowly. He immediately thrust forward and started up a good pace. Steve wrapped his legs around Logan’s waist and moaned loudly as Logan brushed against his prostate. That spurred Logan on and they were soon shaking the bed with the force of their movement.
Logan couldn’t get enough. He loved the feeling of losing himself in a base physical act. It was beautiful and rough and dirty all at the same time. The relentless thrusts, tight heat and stimulation pushed him closer to the edge and he felt the muscles in his core tense as his body took over. Steve didn’t hold back and cried out as he came untouched over his stomach.
Logan’s movement stuttered and he pushed forward into the heat of Steve’s contracting muscles. He stilled and pumped his release into Steve. They’d never bothered with barriers between them because of their unique physiology, and Logan loved the intimate feeling that brought.
Logan dropped his weight to lay on Steve’s chest, breathing hard. Steve kissed the top of his head, and moved his legs to a more comfortable position when Logan’s cock slipped out of his ass. They lay together, a sweaty mess, just enjoying the moment and each other.
When the sweat started to cool and feel itchy, Steve grunted and shifted, which encouraged Logan to get up. He rolled away and off the bed and Steve followed and stood.
“You’re a really incredible lay, you know that? A little bossy, but I like it.” Logan said stepping close and planting a quick kiss on Steve’s lips.
Steve laughed. “You better like it. Come on, let’s get cleaned up.”
Steve took Logan’s hand and led him to the shower.
They didn’t linger long and wandered down to the kitchen when they were dressed. Logan should have expected Ms. Potts to be there, but he hadn’t really thought about it being caught up in their own issues the previous night. She didn’t seem surprised to see them, however, so Tony or Jarvis must have informed her of their guests.
“Good morning, Steve. Good to see you again,” she said extending her hand.
Steve shook it and returned the greeting. “Good morning, Ms. Potts. Sorry to impose on your home unexpectedly.”
She waved away his concern. “Nonsense, you’re more than welcome here, and please, call me Pepper.”
“Thank you, Pepper,” Steve smiled in reply. “This is Logan Howlett.”
Pepper held out her hand to Logan as well. “Yes, it’s so nice to meet you, Logan. I hear you and Steve go way back?”
Logan chuckled. “You could say that.”
“You work at Charles Xavier’s school?” Pepper inquired.
“Yep. History teacher, if you’d believe that.”
After sipping her coffee, Pepper leaned back against the counter she was standing near.
“I’ve met Charles a couple of times. I appreciate what you’re all doing for young mutants. Everyone deserves to find a place in this world no matter how unique they are.”
Logan nodded. “That’s very kind of you Ms. Potts. Not everyone shares your view.”
“That’s my Pep. Always seeing the good in people.”
Tony swept into the kitchen, giving Pepper a kiss on the cheek on his way to the coffee maker.
“Good morning, Tony,” Steve greeted.
Tony spoke as he poured some into a mug. “Morning, Cap. You guys sleep okay?”
“Yeah, thanks,” Steve replied.
“How ‘bout you? You get any sleep, Tony?” Logan asked directly.
Steve elbowed Logan in the ribs lightly at his prying question. Tony seemed to tense up a bit, and glanced over at Pepper, who looked away. The interaction didn’t go unnoticed by either of them.
“I crashed for a few hours,” Tony said dismissively. “Who wants an omelet? I make awesome omelets.”
“I’m off to work, but I’ll see you later, Tony,” Pepper said as she set her mug in the sink.
“Bye, Pepper. Thanks again for letting us stay here,” Steve offered.
Tony leaned back from where he’d been digging ingredients out of the fridge. “Bye, babe.”
Tony piled veggies, eggs, cheese and bacon on the counter and began pulling out pans and bowls.
“Can I help with anything?” Steve asked. Logan knew Steve well enough to imagine he was feeling a little bad that Tony was feeding them again during their unexpected visit. Steve was nothing if not considerate.
Tony passed over a pepper and onion. “Dice these?”
Steve nodded and got to work at the kitchen island. While he did that, Logan got them both a mug of coffee and placed Steve’s within reach before sitting on a stool on the other side of the island.
“So, you owe me story time while we cook. How did you guys manage to run into each other again?” Tony requested. “You didn’t give me the details last night.”
Logan laughed. “Would you believe a bar fight?”
“The stories I heard about Rogers back in the day? Yes, yes I would.”
Steve sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. “I was just trying to help.”
Logan shook his head and gave Steve an affectionate smile. “More like stick your nose in when you saw someone outnumbered, but sure.”
Tony pointed the tongs he was using to flip the bacon at Logan. “So, it was you in the bar fight? I knew you were a bad influence!”
“Hey,” Steve said indignantly, “Logan has a temper sometimes, but he’d never set out to hurt someone who didn’t have it coming.”
“Okay, okay, Rogers. I’m not trying to insult your man,” Tony said laughing.
Logan continued the story. “I was arguing with some boneheads over a football game; they were drunk and things were getting heated before Steve stepped in. I didn’t recognize him, but he played the veteran with PTSD card on me and I went along with it. Worked like a charm to diffuse the situation and we got out of there.”
“I couldn’t believe it was you,” Steve paused in his chopping and met Logan’s eyes. “I thought I was going crazy and seeing things when you didn’t remember me.”
Logan reached across the island to give Steve’s arm a reassuring squeeze. “I’m sorry It took me a while to remember. My head is pretty messed up after a couple lifetimes worth of shit that’s been thrown at me.”
“Yeah, I hacked into the files the government has on you last night,” Tony said turning back to the bacon, “and you got the short end of a stick full of splinters, my friend.”
Logan grunted. Stark wasn’t wrong.
They all were silent for a moment while Tony and Steve worked and Logan sipped his coffee. Logan had given Steve a short summary of the life he remembered since the 1940s. A lot of very bad and very good had happened in that time. Hopefully, Steve now understood how it had brought Logan to a point where he was so loyal to Xavier for the good he’d brought to his life.
“Why were you in rural Oregon anyway? Also, how did grandpa over here even know what PTSD is?” Tony interrupted Logan’s contemplation.
“I might be stubborn, but I realized pretty quickly after leaving New York that there is a lot I just don’t know about life in this century. I may have sulked for a few days, but then I got myself a tablet and figured out how to research stuff online. I also started watching the local news wherever I went just to get a feel for life in different parts of America,” Steve explained.
Tony barked a laugh. “Oh, to see the look on that Best Buy employee’s face when you walked up!”
Steve rolled his eyes but smiled.
“I was looking up a former student of mine. Just a visit to make sure things were working out. Guy has an amazing range of hearing and some mild sonic projection powers, but he struggled to control it. He decided a quiet life was what he wanted and found a small town to settle down. I was just enjoying a beer and a game and was planning to fly back east the next day.” Logan paused and then gestured to Steve. “This guy threw a wrench in my plans.”
“I’ll just bet,” Tony agreed. “So, you all were having a big sexy reunion when Natashalie broke down your door?”
“Natashalie?” Steve asked.
He’d just finished with the veggies and passed them over to Tony, who was whisking the eggs.
“She went by Natalie when she was planted in SI.”
“Yeah, well, she picked the lock. I don’t know what shocked her more, the fact that I had clearly just had sex with a man, or the fact that I have zero body shame and gave her a good show. It’s like she doesn’t know anything about the Army at all. It hasn’t changed that much, right?”
Both Tony and Logan laughed.
“Huh,” Tony said when he’d regained his composure, “I guess you can fluster a former Russian spy and assassin.”
Logan grunted his agreement.
“So,” Steve changed tacks, “I get the feeling that neither of you really trust SHIELD and I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t either.”
Tony flipped the omelet he was working on and turned to face them, leaning against the counter.
“I might be a little biased because I tend to buck most authority. They’ve pulled some shady shit on me, but I’ve done the same to them, so I’ve probably let it slide more than I should.”
Steve looked at Logan expectantly.
“I honestly haven’t dealt too much with them, but I know Xavier doesn’t trust them and I know they’ve taken on some mutants that haven’t really been heard from again. Our guess is that they get used up as ‘assets’ in that system.”
That might not be what Steve wanted to hear, but it was true. Steve seemed to feel beholden to an organization that worked so hard to find him. It appeared they were fighting on the right side, because they’d put together the Avengers to save the Earth from an alien invasion. Combine that with the fact that Logan knew good people who Steve respected had laid the foundations for SHIELD with the SSR, and he figured Steve was coming to grips with the reality behind some assumptions he’d made.
“Look,” Tony broke into Logan’s reflections, “I’m not saying they’re all bad. I’m just not ready to claim they’re all good either. In my experience, Nick Fury isn’t above using manipulation to get what he wants, and he loves operating in such an opaque behind-the-scenes manner, that no one really knows the full scope of SHIELD’s operations.”
“Why do you feel like you need to do this?” Logan asked quietly.
Steve looked down at the counter and shrugged. “Because I need to do something? I’ve spent my whole life fighting for what’s right. The players are different now, but if there’s a threat out there that I’m uniquely qualified to neutralize, I’m more than willing to do that.”
Logan nodded his acknowledgment, but Tony didn’t immediately say anything as he served them all large omelets and toast.
“You know, I get it, Steve,” Tony said quietly. “That drive to fix things, to do good in a truly messed up world. No one here is going to judge you for that.”
Leave it to Tony Stark to analyze a situation until he found the precise piece of the puzzle that was needed. They all sat around the large kitchen island and ate for a few seconds in contemplative silence.
“Damn, Stark,” Logan said with mouth half full, “I need to visit you more often. You’re one hell of a cook.”
Tony tossed a napkin at Logan. “Not with those table manners, wolf breath.”
Steve pushed his clean plate away and sat back on his stool. “I’m going to take the mission.”
“Okay,” Tony replied.
“Okay? Nothing else to say about it?”
Tony shrugged. “Not really. I think your motivations are good. Just because I don’t completely trust SHIELD, doesn’t mean I necessarily think this mission is a bad idea. I just don’t know. As long as you’re not going into this with blind faith, I think it’s your decision to make.”
Tony got up and started clearing their plates before continuing. “I am, however, a little curious what the boyfriend thinks.”
“Considering we haven’t even had a chance to talk about labels like boyfriend, I don’t think I can tell Steve what to do,” Logan said simply. “All I can promise is a safe place to land when you’re done.”
Logan had directed the latter to Steve. Steve reached out and took his hand. It was clear that Steve’s duty to serve was still driving him, but Logan hoped that finding each other again had given Steve a different part of himself back. A part that would find a place to call home in this new century, and Logan would try his hardest to be that home.
Steve looked out the window of the plane Tony had set him up with. He would have flown commercial, but Tony had made horrified exclamations when he’d mentioned it and insisted on chartering him a flight right after omelets. Tony had also offered to store Steve’s bike or transport it back to DC if he wanted.
He could admit to himself that he was feeling a little listless after saying goodbye to Logan. Steve knew he’d see him again in a few days when the mission was done, but that hadn’t made parting after such a sweet reunion any easier. Logan was headed back to Westchester on a fancy jet Xavier had sent to retrieve him. He’d be back to teaching class tomorrow. Steve was already anticipating the stories of the trouble Logan’s kids got up to with the substitute he’d had.
Logan becoming a teacher didn’t really surprise Steve. For all his gruff bluster, Logan was a softie. During the war he’d always had chocolate saved to hand out to the kids they’d meet in the streets moving from town to town. Logan also had a way of talking to people without talking down to them. Yeah, he was blunt and brash, but he never made anyone feel low unless they had it coming.
When they landed in DC, a black SUV was waiting on the tarmac, and Natasha was there to greet him.
“Ready to head to your mission briefing?” she asked Steve as he approached.
Steve nodded and shook her hand in greeting. “I’m ready to get to work.”
He slid into the back seat of the SUV behind Natasha and the driver steered them away from the airport and toward the Triskelion. Natasha handed him a tablet with a map displayed on the screen.
“We’ve identified a bunker not far over the Canadian border north of Vermont. We think its proximity to major cities on the east coast is no accident. You’ll go in with a small team and subdue and capture anyone you find.”
Steve looked at the map. It looked like a pretty rural area with a mix of farm and forest land. It didn’t seem to scream “terrorist hideout” to him, but Hydra had built themselves facilities in some very innocuous looking places during the war.
Natasha continued. “We believe there are fewer than ten people working and living there based on what we can observe of the comings and goings. We aren’t really sure what they are working on, but based on the amount of mechanical parts and various chemical deliveries we’ve been able to trace; it can’t be anything legal.
“Bring back anyone you capture, and we’ll hold them until we can figure out the extent of their operation.”
Steve was still looking down at the map of what looked like idyllic countryside.
“What will you do with them after that?”
Natasha cocked her head to the side. “After what?”
“You want to question these people, but what happens to them after that? Will they get a trial or be released to the justice system?”
“Steve,” Natasha said with a dismissive huff, “America doesn’t treat potential terrorists the same as other criminals. We contain the threat. Leave those details to someone else.”
“But we won’t be in America when we take these people into custody. Is the Canadian government aware of this operation?” Steve asked.
“The mission is SHIELD-approved.”
Steve sat back and hummed his assent. He knew a non-answer when he heard one, but he wasn’t sure it was his place to push the issue. He didn’t know enough about the modern criminal justice system yet. He looked out the window as the buildings of Washington, D.C. passed by. Soon enough they were entering an underground parking structure and passing through an overhead door which opened to a large parking area filled with similar black SHIELD vehicles.
Steve followed Natasha through a maze of hallways and elevators into SHIELD headquarters. He was impressed with the number of people working in the office areas he passed. Steve assumed they were technicians and analysts of some sort, though some might be agents like Natasha. They stopped at a conference room door.
Natasha gestured into the room where Steve could see six agents seated around a large table. “This is the team you’ll be working with. You guys can get introduced and then someone will show you to your quarters here for the night.”
“Okay, then. Ah, thanks Agent Romanoff,” Steve said when he realized Natasha was planning to leave.
Natasha nodded. “Captain Rogers.”
She walked away without so much as a glace backward, and Steve was left standing awkwardly in the doorway. He took a deep breath and stepped in, setting aside his bag and shield and taking an open seat at the table.
One of the agents took pity on him and started the introductions.
“Good afternoon, Captain. This is Agent Daniels, Agent McKinney, Technical Specialist Santiago, Agent Rutledge, Anderson, our pilot, and I’m Senior Agent Bartlett,” Bartlett said gesturing around the table in turn as she spoke.
Steve cleared his throat. “Nice to meet you all. I look forward to working together.”
“Agent Romanoff briefed you on the mission?” Bartlett asked.
“Yes,” Steve nodded. “It seems fairly straightforward as long as the intel is good.”
“Our analysts are top notch,” Agent Daniels piped up.
“I’m sure,” Steve agreed.
“Okay,” Senior Agent Bartlett clapped her hands on her thighs and stood. “They feed you yet?”
Steve shook his head. “We came straight from the airport.”
“No problem. We were just about to grab supper in the cafeteria. Come with us, and then Rutledge can show you where you’ll be bunking tonight. We’ll gear up at 0400 and be wheels up by 0500, so you’ll want to get some good rest.”
“Thanks, that sounds great,” Steve said sincerely.
The group seemed competent and professional and he was feeling a little better about working with people he didn’t know. Steve followed the team to a spacious mess hall, and they all sat around a large table after grabbing trays of good-smelling food.
Conversation was casual while they ate, and though Steve didn’t participate much, he appreciated being included. Maybe he had misjudged SHIELD and he would enjoy this kind of work. They didn’t linger too long after the food was eaten, and all began saying their goodbyes for the night. Agent Rutledge offered to show Steve the armory where he could get his tactical gear and then to his quarters.
“So, Agent Rutledge,” Steve said as they walked, “has your team been together long?”
“It’s Jedd, and not all that long. This group has been together maybe three months now?”
“Oh. It seems like you all know each other pretty well.”
Jedd nodded. “Yeah, we work well together. We’ve had some good missions so far too.”
“Well, I’m glad to be a part of the team,” Steve offered.
“To be perfectly honest, we’re all pretty excited to be working with you, Captain.”
That sentiment always rubbed Steve a little wrong, but he knew there weren’t ill intentions behind it. Steve knew he hadn’t worked his way to his rank the same as others did, and he was very aware of the persona the Army had liked him to portray and how that bled into everyone’s perception of him. In some ways he was used to it, and in some ways, it was still odd. Jedd turned and smiled at him and gestured to a pair of double doors they’d stopped in front of.
“Here we are. We’ll get you all suited up.”
They walked in to find a gangly fellow hunched over a computer that was set up on a long counter.
“Hey, Todd. We need to get Captain Rogers here set up for our mission tomorrow,” Jedd said.
“Oh,” the man replied glancing up at them before continuing to type on his keyboard for a few moments.
Steve stood there in awkward silence with Jedd for a moment, wondering if he should be doing something. Jedd just shrugged his shoulders when Steve looked over at him, so he figured they’d just wait. Less than a minute passed before Todd stepped away from his computer.
“Standard tac suit and kit. Any preference on weapons?” Todd said very matter-of-fact.
That one caught Steve off-guard. He wasn’t a stranger to guns by any means, but he did find he preferred working primarily with the shield and improvising as needed.
“Am I required to carry any specifically?” he asked.
Todd shook his head. “Not really, but you’d be expected to be able to perform the mission parameters.”
“In that case I’ll stick with my shield. I wouldn’t mind a good field knife though. Never know when it might come in handy.”
Todd turned and pulled a duffel off a shelf behind him. “That’s standard issue gear. If you need anything else, we will do our best to accommodate.”
Steve took the duffel when Todd slid it across the counter to him, and followed Jedd back into the hall. The complex was a maze of hallways and floors featuring only the best in nondescript government décor. Eventually they entered what was obviously a dormitory-like wing and stopped in front of a door.
“Here we are,” Jedd said brightly and handed him a key card.
Steve opened the door and looked in. It was adequately appointed with a bed, desk and attached bathroom.
“Thanks for showing me around,” Steve said to Jedd as he set down his bags and shield.
“No problem. Glad to have you with us,” Jedd replied. He gave a wave as he grabbed for the doorknob. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
With that, Agent Rutledge was gone, and Steve was left alone. He began by unpacking his tactical suit and kit to see what he’d been issued. His suit and boots were similar to the new Captain America one they’d issued him when he’d woken and fought in New York. The suit still had the protective plating integrated into it, which he appreciated, but it was all black. The color was a little bit of a relief to Steve because he didn’t know how he felt about going into an unknown terrorist cell in another country dressed as America’s war hero. He usually kept a cover over his shield on the road, and he thought he would keep using it on the mission as well. A knife, multi-tool, and flashlight rounded out the supplies in the utility belt.
Steve set it all aside for use the next day and sat on the bed. He pulled out the Stark phone Tony had given him before he’d left and thumbed it on. Knowing Tony, it was equipped with some sort of special tracking device. He’d seemed like he was concerned but trying not to show it. At least Steve had a number where he could reach Logan, but after all the spy talk and his own insecurity of his position at SHIELD, he didn’t want to be so naïve to think they couldn’t or wouldn’t listen in on him here.
He sighed and stood, laying the phone aside. Logan was waiting for him, and he would be Steve’s first call when he was back. Until then, he’d content himself with a hot shower and some sleep.
Steve had woken before the alarm he’d set, not really having been able to sleep deeply in a strange place. The team had been efficient and they wereall in a quinjet headed to the drop site at the appointed time. Santiago had outfitted them with communication devices that fit in their ears, and Bartlett was going over last details.
“Okay, we’re going to land the jet here,” she pointed to an open field about a half mile from the bunker on a large printed map of the immediate area. “Santiago is going to coordinate from here while the rest of us head in on foot. We’ll blast the entrance with a small charge and hopefully catch them by surprise. Who expects a raid early on a Tuesday morning?”
A smattering of laughter went around the group.
“Any questions?” Bartlett concluded.
“Any particular place you want me, ma’am?” Steve asked.
Bartlett looked up from the map. “Anywhere we can use some extra speed, strength and wits to get these guys in custody with minimal casualties, Captain.”
“Understood,” Steve nodded.
They were landing soon enough, and they all stepped out into the early morning sun slanting across the dew-laden field. Bartlett waved to Santiago as the back of the quinjet closed and they went through their protocol to secure and cloak it. Steve absently listened to the team chatter over the comms while he looked around the landscape.
It wasn’t particularly hilly terrain, and wooded land bordered the field on two sides. They’d need to travel through the woods to reach the bunker. All the research said there wasn’t heavy outside surveillance, so Steve hoped their approach wouldn’t be noticed until they were making their grand entrance. Perhaps the rural environment had lulled this group into thinking they were well hidden.
Bartlett signaled them to move out, and all the chatter dropped as the team began their trek. They moved quietly and quickly through the trees until they could see a clearing of land ahead. Bartlett stopped them with a hand signal while the trees still provided them with cover.
Bartlett signaled Agents McKinney and Daniels to move forward first. They all could see a cement-block construction shed in the clearing with a dirt track road leading to a heavy metal double door on the front of it. Steve watched as McKinney ran up to the door with Daniels right behind providing cover, weapon aimed and ready.
She planted four small charges, and then ran back to the tree line again with Daniels, holding a remote at the ready. Bartlett signaled almost immediately, and McKinney activated the remote. They all flinched a bit as the explosion rang out over the quiet landscape, but Steve didn’t hesitate to run toward the now mangled door.
He was the first one to reach it, and easily wrenched it out of the way. The others were right on his heels and they hugged the walls of the hallway the door opened into, listening for what might be waiting for them. The short hall was empty, but there was an elevator and stairwell at the end of it.
Steve stopped in front of the closed elevator doors and leaned in the listen. He could hear shouts echoing up the shaft from floors below, but couldn’t discern any words. He turned back to the team.
“They definitely know we’re here,” he said quietly, their comms carrying it to the team spread along the hallway behind him.
“Stairs. Slowly,” came Bartlett’s command.
They all began moving forward, Rutledge moving forward to descend beside Steve. They went quietly and carefully down until they reached the first level. Looking down the stairwell, Steve figured there were at least two floors still below them.
They paused to listen at the door. Steve heard nothing and indicated as much. He could hear some sort of commotion coming from below, so he continued down, leaving the first level to others.
Rutledge was still with him and they stopped with their backs to the wall on either side of the second level door. Steve could now hear frantic conversation inside. There were several voices and they seemed to be arguing about what to do.
Steve looked over at Jedd and started counting down from three on his fingers. When he reached one, Steve turned and kicked in the door and entered the room, shield up and ready. He was greeted by the surprised screams and shouts of a few people in lab coats huddled in one corner of the room.
The room seemed to be some sort of lab, with several work benches in the center and sinks and cabinets along the outside walls.
“SHIELD! Hands up!” Rutledge shouted as he crowded through the doorway behind Steve.
The three people looked like scared civilians, so Steve wasn’t surprised when they complied immediately. He approached with Rutledge and helped him secure their hands behind their backs with zip ties.
“Who are you? What are you going to do with us?” the one woman of the group asked.
“We’re with SHIELD ma’am,” Steve answered. “We’re taking you in for questioning regarding the suspicious activities going on here.”
“But-” the woman seemed ready to say something else, when the shorter of the two men nudged her with his shoe. She kept quiet after that.
Steve could hear over the comms that the others had reached the third level and were readying to enter.
“How many others are here?” Steve asked.
The three looked at each other, but none responded.
“What’s on the third level? More labs? Storage? Manufacturing?” Steve tried.
They got nothing again. Rutledge was shifting impatiently, his rifle trained on the group.
“We’ve got three secured in a lab of some sort. They aren’t talking,” Steve relayed over the comm.
He heard Bartlett’s acknowledgement and preparation to breach their door. It occurred to Steve that no one had cleared the first level they’d passed. They hadn’t seen or heard any signs of anyone, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. He’d wrongly assumed that the team would split and do that but didn’t really think about it until now. It didn’t sit right with him that they hadn’t adequately covered themselves, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it at the moment.
Steve made his way back to the door to maintain their cover while they waited. Moments after he heard the door breached, he heard a short volley of gunshots. He looked back at Rutledge, who was alert and ready. Their charges looked even more nervous but hadn’t moved.
“Shit! Take cover! We’ve got five down here. Two armed that I can tell,” Daniels’ tense voice came over the comm.
Steve wanted to make his way down to them, but wasn’t sure about leaving an agent alone with three suspects, even if they were contained. He hesitated in the doorway.
“We’re in some sort of lab too. Looks like civilians and a couple security guards,” Bartlett filled them in quietly.
“Come out with your hands up!” Steve heard her call.
There was a pause and then he distinctly heard the crash of glass breaking.
“It’s some kind of gas!” came Anderson’s panicked yell. “Get back!”
Steve turned back to Rutledge. “You okay to get them out?”
Jedd nodded and began herding their three captives toward the door with his rifle.
“Santiago, we’re coming back hot! Be ready for us!” Bartlett yelled over the comm.
Steve ran to the stairs and jumped over the rail, landing on the floor below just as Anderson and McKinney came spilling out of the doorway, a cloud of some kind of smoke or vapor following them.
“Daniels is down,” McKinney said in between coughs. “He was closest to whatever they threw at us.”
“I’ll go after him. You guys get out,” Steve directed, the gas starting to sting his nostrils.
Steve ran into the lower lab and crouched behind an overturned workbench. He looked over the top to see the remaining group of suspects in gas masks trying to make their way around the outside of the room to the exit. The room was rapidly filling with acrid smoke, but Steve could see they had reached the elevator. He immediately threw his shield and watched it slice through the control panel before ricocheting back to him.
When Steve reached up to catch it, one of the security guards started firing in his direction. The gas mask must have been impeding his vision, because his aim wasn’t very good. Steve threw his shield again toward the group and leapt over the workbench to follow it. The shield knocked the handgun from the guard’s hand before embedding in the wall behind him.
In the moment of surprise, Steve took a running jump and kicked the man in the chest before retrieving his shield. Swinging it around as he landed, he hit the other security guard over the head before he could get off a shot and he too crumpled to the ground.
Steve bent and grabbed the gun where it had clattered to the floor and stood to aim it at the remaining scientists.
“Don’t move!” Steve shouted and then coughed when the action pulled more of the gas into his lungs.
“Agent Daniels?” Steve called out into the smoke behind him.
He heard coughing from the other side of the room before he heard a response.
“I’ve got him!” Agent Bartlett shouted.
Steve could just see her half dragging a coughing and woozy looking Daniels toward the door.
“Hands up, and come with me,” he commanded the scientists in front of him.
Steve began backing toward the door, weapon still raised, gesturing the small group to follow. The gas was still stinging his throat, but he figured his increased healing ability was helping him resist the effects longer than the others. He could hear the others talking to each other over the comms as they made their way out of the building.
When he reached the door, he stopped and glanced back into the stairwell. The gas must have been impairing his awareness more than he thought, because in that moment, a gunshot rang out. He felt the impact between the armored plates on his abdomen and stumbled back a step. Shit. He hadn’t secured the other gun—an amateur mistake that was probably going to cost him.
He looked up to see one of the people in a mask and lab coat aiming the handgun toward him. He tried to react, but he was suddenly feeling very sluggish. Before he could bring up his shield another round hit his shoulder just under his collar bone. He immediately felt his suit soak with blood. Steve had a sort of disjointed thought that they might have hit an artery. His arm went numb and the gun he’d been holding clattered to the floor.
Steve stumbled a few more steps backward and leaned on the stair railing. Taking a breath, he summoned his strength and turned to ascend the stairs. He jogged up a few before listing into the railing again and having to stop to support himself. Usually he handled bullet wounds better than this. His body felt sluggish and uncontrolled.
Another shot rang out behind him but missed. He summoned his remaining strength and made it up the stairs to the first level, only needing to catch his balance a couple times. He hadn’t met anyone else from the team, so he assumed they were already out. Steve stopped a moment to catch his breath and took note of the significant trail of blood dripping from the arm hanging by his side. There wasn’t as much pain as there should be either but considering the state his head was in from the gas, Steve figured that might be a side effect.
He shivered and swayed on his feet. He had to get out and back to the jet. Just as he was about to force his legs to move again, the door on the first level burst open. Several armed men in full tactical gear stormed out. Steve braced to fight back, but felt his legs give out. He slid to the floor and tried to blink away the blackness that was crowding the edges of his vision. His eyes felt heavy, and he had a moment to wish he were still in a bed somewhere with Logan, before the darkness overwhelmed his consciousness.
Steve blinked and grunted in pain as he woke. He tried to let his eyes adjust to the fluorescent lights of the room as he figured out where he was. He was lying on a concrete floor in what appeared to be a large garage. He tried to turn his head to look around but had to stop and breathe through the pain that radiated through his torso when he moved.
When the pain subsided enough that he could regain his composure, Steve could see that there were a few vehicles parked nearby. A couple SUVs and a cargo van. The floor sloped gently up to an overhead door beyond that with outside light seeping through the crack under the bottom. An alternate exit large enough for vehicles was a big detail SHIELD missed. Steve wasn’t feeling nearly so impressed with their analysts. Or maybe he just hadn’t been given all the details. Either way, Steve was starting to suspect something was wrong with how this mission had played out.
Turning his head carefully the other way, Steve realized he was only a handful of feet from a door with a window in the top half of it. From what he could guess, it led to the first level of the bunker. He took a deep breath and tried moving his limbs. Pain burned like fire through him with every motion. Usually bullet wounds didn’t knock him out. If they did, then they didn’t keep him down this long. Steve moved his legs, and realized he’d regained a bit of movement in his arm below his injured shoulder. Steve tried to move his uninjured arm and realized it was hampered by something.
He carefully lifted his head and almost laughed. They’d handcuffed him to a pipe running along the wall. Either they had no idea who he was, or they figured he was in a pretty bad way. Steve felt terrible, but now that he was awake, he was determined to find a way out. He breathed in and grabbed the pipe for support, and he pulled himself to a seated position.
The pain was intense, and Steve clenched his teeth as he waited for the worst of it to pass. He blinked to clear his vision and looked around again. He couldn’t see much more of the room beyond through the window but realized he could hear voices in there. It was quiet enough to most likely be casual conversation and he couldn’t make out anything useful, other than that there were three or four distinct voices.
The sensation of his stiff and sticky tac suit registered, and he looked down, shocked at the mess of congealed and drying blood on the floor around him. It was enough that it would have probably killed him had he not had enhanced healing abilities. Add that to the hard and sensitive areas of his abdomen, and he figured he’d suffered some internal bleeding as well. No wonder he felt like shit.
Knowledge of bullet wounds he’d gained in the field during the war flitted through his thoughts as he sat and caught his breath. It must have been several hours since he’d been captured. It was still daylight, and he was reasonably sure it was the same day. Any longer and SHIELD would have already brought reinforcements to retrieve him. Right?
With that unsettling doubt creeping in, Steve decided he should try to get himself out of this if he could. He briefly considered waiting longer for his body to heal further, but that seemed too risky. If his guards figured out what he was capable of, they might actually find a way to contain him or worse.
The first order of business was getting himself free from the pipe. Steve figured the easiest way to do that in his current state would be to break the chain connecting the cuffs. He braced himself against the wall and took a deep breath before jerking his arm hard. He couldn’t completely stifle the moan that followed as pain burned through his midsection again at the sharp movements, but at least the chain had broken.
The noise of the metal handcuffs clanking against the pipe might have aroused suspicion from the guards in the other room, so Steve didn’t waste much time in attempting to get to his feet. He focused on scanning around him to distract himself from the pain, so he didn’t black out, and managed to make it to standing without support.
A few stumbling steps brought him to a workbench along the wall. Steve braced his weight on it and laughed to himself. They’d left his covered shield sitting right there. Steve knew there were many times in his life he’d gotten extremely lucky. He didn’t think this was one of them. These guys were just too dumb to know what they had.
The bunker spoke of money and organization, but the people he’d encountered hadn’t seemed well trained. Whatever this group was, Steve figured they’d have them disbanded rather quickly if this was the caliber they were dealing with. Grabbing his shield, he started toward the overhead door at the rear of the garage. He briefly considered conscripting a vehicle but wanted to keep quiet in case the guards hadn’t yet been alerted to his escape attempt.
He took slow shuffling steps along the wall, making his way toward the small control panel that would open the door. He was still several feet away, when the door to the other room burst open and a security guard ran in.
Steve ignored him and kept moving, lunging to hit the button that started the door opening.
The men must have wanted him alive, because they didn’t shoot as they came toward him.
“Give it up! There’s nowhere to go!” One of them stopped and shouted from a few feet away, rifle raised.
“Sorry, boys. Thanks for the hospitality, but I really should be on my way,” Steve shot back, trying to buy time for the door to open so he could make a run for it.
In his current state, he didn’t think he could slide under it, and he needed the room to make a break for the trees. He figured that was his best chance of making it out alive if they started shooting.
The other men had caught up and were now standing together, weapons raised and aimed at Steve. The door was almost to Steve’s shoulders, so he turned and ducked through it. He was slow though, and in seconds, the men were on him. Steve swung his shield the best he could toward the man trying to tackle him to the ground, but after knocking him back, two more jumped at him and brought him to his knees.
The pain of moving and fighting against them was blinding, and Steve didn’t think he had much more in him. Then suddenly there was a cry of surprise and Steve looked up to see Logan jumping down onto the ramp they were on that led from ground level down to the garage.
One of the guards got off a shot at him, but the shot went wide, and Logan took him down easily. His arrival was enough of a distraction that Steve pushed to his feet and hit one of the guards that had tackled him with his shield, knocking him out cold. He threw his shield, knocking another guard that had taken aim at Logan to the ground, and punched another that was lunging at him.
Logan dispatched the remaining guard, and they both stood for a second breathing heavily, taking in the damage. Steve didn’t know if there was anyone else in the bunker that would come after them, so he tried to turn to walk up the ramp. As soon as he took his first step, his leg gave out and he stumbled forward only to be caught against a familiar strong body.
“Logan,” Steve managed between labored breaths.
“Yeah, Steve. Just take a minute. Breathe. I’ll watch your back. I’ve got you.”
They stood for a moment, Steve trying to catch his breath.
“You think you can walk outta here?” Logan asked. “Our ride is just past those trees.”
“Ride?” Steve questioned. He didn’t know how Logan was even here.
“One foot in front of the other, bub. Come on, now.” Logan encouraged.
They started making slow progress away from the bunker. Before they made it too far, Steve heard the distinctive sound of repulsors, and looked up to see Iron Man landing in front of them.
“You kids, okay?” came Tony’s tinny voice.
“I’m good,” Logan answered. “Steve’s not doing so hot.”
“But I thought he had magical healing powers?” Tony asked.
Steve mustered up a glare at Tony. How was Tony here too for that matter? He was so tired and cold again, but at least he wasn’t in as much pain.
Tony opened his faceplate. “Shit, that’s not good. Those are signs of shock, Cap.”
Oh, had he said that out loud? His legs decided now was a good time to stop holding him upright, but Tony moved in on his other side and caught him. Steve didn’t really know how Logan and Tony got him there, but in no time, they were coming around a copse of trees and getting into a helicopter.
“How’d this get here?” Steve asked.
Logan chuckled. “Our buddy, Tony, made it happen.”
“Get in boys.” Tony interrupted. “I want to get out of here before someone spots Iron Man over the wilds of Canada and it causes an international incident.”
Logan helped Steve into a seat and sat next to him. Steve sighed in relief as they took off. He closed his eyes and leaned into Logan, letting himself rest now that he was safe.
Steve woke with a start. He sat up and looked around, throwing his feet over the side of the bed.
“Slow down, killer,” Tony said from where he was seated in a chair nearby. He leaned his head back and yelled, “Hey, Teen Wolf, your boyfriend is up.”
Logan walked in with a phone to his ear. “Thanks, Prof. I’ll be in touch.”
He hung up and walked right up to Steve, enveloping him in a tight hug.
“Hey,” Logan murmured.
“Hey, yourself,” Steve replied. He pulled back to look at Logan. “So, uh, where are we?”
“Stark Tower,” another voice answered.
Steve looked up to see Dr. Bruce Banner entering the room. “Jarvis informed me you were awake. Mind if I check you over?”
“Yeah, sure,” Steve acquiesced. “Nice to see you again, Dr. Banner.”
“I thought we agreed you’d call me Bruce,” he replied pulling out a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope from a drawer under the counter on one side of the room. The space was appointed like a homey version of a hospital room. Steve had to admit he appreciated being among friends instead of in SHIELD medical.
Steve allowed Bruce to go about taking his vitals, but wasn’t going to wait with the seemingly hundreds of questions he had.
“How did you find me? And why didn’t SHIELD for that matter?”
“Ginsu Knives over here called me yesterday, concerned about you,” Tony provided.
Steve rolled his eyes but smiled at yet another nickname reference he didn’t understand. He looked to Logan.
Logan shrugged. “Call it a gut feeling, I guess. The way they pulled you in just didn’t sit right with me.”
“Yeah, and it was a good thing too” Tony added, “because the whole thing was a mess and a half by the time we figured out what was going on.”
“Blood pressure is still a little low,” Bruce interrupted, “but otherwise, I think you’ll recover just fine. Your body has mostly healed itself at this point.”
Steve realized he hadn’t even thought about the injuries. He was used to things sort of just healing over time, so waking up feeling nothing but the lingering soreness of a hard fight the day before was nothing new. He did still feel quite tired though, which was odd for him.
“What happened to my team? How long was I out?”
“Which time?” Bruce asked. “From what I understand you were unconscious for some time while you were captured and then lost consciousness again on the flight here.”
Steve shrugged and winced when pain twinged in his abdomen.
“We think you were out for several hours at the bunker,” Tony supplied. “We didn’t get to you until pretty late in the day and I’m guessing you hadn’t been up and about much before that judging by the state we found you in. As for your team, Jarvis confirmed through the SHIELD servers that they all checked back in with only a few minor injuries.”
“I checked you over when you got here, but there wasn’t really much I could do for you that your body wasn’t already doing. You’d lost a lot of blood, but your blood pressure was steady enough that I decided rest was adequate treatment. You slept all night, and it’s now,” Bruce paused to look at his watch, “10:20 am.”
Steve frowned. “Why wasn’t I healing faster? I’ve taken bullets in the field before and it hasn’t put me down for the better part of twenty-four hours.”
Bruce leaned back against the counter and took off his glasses to clean them on his shirt before starting his explanation.
“My best guess is that it was a really unlucky coincidence that both wounds caused a lot of blood loss, and your healing factor couldn’t keep up like it normally would. One shot was a through and through but hit the major artery in your shoulder. That’s likely what caused most of the mess of blood soaked into your suit.
“The other shot tore a hole in a small section of your liver and bounced of your ribs. Tony called in a trusted surgeon to remove the bullet. You had a lot of internal bleeding associated with that, and it was apparent your body was spending energy rebuilding that tissue right away.
“The injury to your liver probably also hampered your general healing ability, and because we were already concerned about that, we didn’t give you any pain medication for your compromised liver to have to process. Either of these injuries likely would have killed an average person without immediate medical attention.”
“What about the gas?” Steve asked. “It didn’t seem to be impacting me as much as the others on the team, but I breathed a fair amount of it in during the altercation.”
“We didn’t see any evidence of whatever gas they used when we were there. I made sure SHIELD came to clean up their mess and check through that facility before I left to catch up with you two,” Tony said grimly, nodding toward Steve and Logan. “The guards were the only personnel at the site at the time. Anyone else had already left and destroyed the chemicals there on their way out.”
“It’s possible it could have slowed your healing ability, but I think the rapid blood loss was a larger factor,” Bruce summarized. “If there were any foreign chemicals in your bloodstream, they must have reached their half-life and dissipated quickly, because we didn’t find any trace of them.”
“Okay,” Steve acknowledged.
He pulled up the scrub top he was wearing and looked at the where the bullet had entered his abdomen. It was just an area of pink skin now, and Steve could tell it would probably be completely gone in a few hours. Logan seemed a little unsettled by it and came to sit down on the bed next to Steve, putting an arm around him. Steve leaned into Logan’s body, still feeling a little tired and relieved to have the support.
“It was an unlucky shot that snuck under the armored plating,” Tony said seriously. “I’m working on making you a new suit already. Mine is going to kick the ass of your old one.”
“Wow. thanks, Tony. That means a lot.” Steve knew Tony would come up with something better than anyone had even conceived of before. He was like his father that way.
“So, what happened with SHIELD?” Steve inquired. “I thought my team got out, but why were you guys the first to get to me after that?”
Tony shook his head. “I honestly don’t know. Someone broke protocol and left without you. Maybe it was miscommunication on how they were coordinating backup, but the ultimate result was that they ended up leaving you there on your own until I got on the phone with Fury and yelled at him about it.”
Logan snorted and aimed a look full of respect and feral amusement at Tony. “Yell is an understatement. Verbally eviscerated both him personally and his entire organization is probably more accurate.”
Steve raised his eyebrows. He hadn’t thought Tony cared that much.
“When I called Stark, I asked him to hack into your mission file,” Logan confessed.
Steve gave him a disapproving look.
Logan held up his hand in defense. “Hey, I just wanted to know exactly what you’d gotten yourself into in case anything went wrong.”
“Which it did,” Tony supplied helpfully. “You didn’t take the phone I so generously gave you, so we had to have some way to track you down.”
“The whole thing seemed like it was built on more assumptions than facts, and it didn’t seem like there were enough of those to warrant sending a team into another country, especially a close country in terms of location and allies, for an unsanctioned operation,” Logan continued. “Fury seems to like to play fast and loose with international law.”
“I was monitoring the SHIELD systems when we figured out your team had returned without you,” Tony picked up the story. “Naturally, we felt like we had to go rescue our blond beauty of a princess. Not that you needed rescuing in the end, but Logan here helped you clean those guys up faster. SHIELD would have probably retrieved you eventually—and honestly, I’m starting to wonder if they left you there on purpose—but a large organization is less agile in mobilizing than a couple of vigilante super dudes.”
Steve gave a small smile, but he couldn’t keep the frown from coming back to his face. “This just doesn’t make sense.”
“Yeah,” Tony said, drawing out the vowels. “It’s concerning, to say the least. It seems like key pieces of information were left out of the mission brief.”
“Like the back entrance?” Steve speculated.
Tony nodded. “Like the back entrance that we could see from the sky as soon as we were within range. Other details were almost too vague as well. Either SHIELD is terrible at gathering actionable intel or someone steered the mission forward while deliberately withholding or obscuring information.”
“It smells a little like a mole to me,” Bruce offered.
“Not so subtle sabotage of a mission like that? Yeah, I came to the same conclusion. In fact, I have Jarvis looking through SHIELD’s databases for similar patterns.”
Bruce pushed off from the counter. “Rest is the best thing for you right now, Steve. I’d like to check your blood pressure again this afternoon, but I think you’ll be fine with more rest.”
“Thanks,” Steve replied.
When Bruce had left the room, Steve looked over at Tony who was still seated and tapping at his tablet.
“Thank you for everything, Tony. I mean it. You definitely went above and beyond for me when you had no obligation,” Steve commended.
Tony turned off his tablet and stood.
“Well, I hate it when SHIELD meddles in the lives of good people, and despite being a hard-headed self-sacrificing idiot, you’re good people.”
“Throwing stones at glass houses, are we Stark?” Logan countered.
Tony laughed. “Dude, I quite literally built a skyscraper made of glass. No one said I’m denying it.”
With that Tony left, calling back something about lunch later that Steve didn’t really pay attention to, because right now he was occupied with enjoying one of those grand toe-tingling life-affirming kisses that he and Logan had become really good at during the war. They drank each other in with caresses of lips and tongues and didn’t stop until they had to breathe.
Logan rested his forehead against Steve’s while they both caught their breath. “Damn, Steve. You actually scared me back there.”
“No, don’t apologize,” Logan interrupted. “I know who you are, I wouldn’t have you any other way. I just-”
Logan trailed off and seemed to be thinking of how to say what he wanted to say. Steve took the opportunity to give him a quick kiss on the lips that was eagerly returned before Logan pulled back once more.
“We just got this back. I know the world will come crashing in at some point. It always seems to eventually, but I found this whole big piece of me that was missing, and I selfishly want time to enjoy it.”
Steve sighed and wrapped Logan in a tight hug. They just held each other in silence for a few moments before Steve’s thoughts drifted back to the mess he’d just come out of.
“Do you ever feel like you understand things now?” Steve asked quietly.
“How do you mean?”
Steve sat back and gestured vaguely with his hands. “You’ve been around longer than I have. Do you ever feel like you understand how things are now? I mean, I try. I put on a good face and fake it, but even after months, I’m still aware of how little I understand about people and life now.”
“It gets better,” Logan shrugged. “Or maybe I just get better at adapting. The thing I always remind myself is that fundamentally people and their motivations don’t really change. Power, money, purpose, love, family, friends. It’s all the same as it ever was, just with different trappings.”
Steve was surprised when he actually yawned.
“You should rest,” Logan said rubbing his hand up and down Steve’s back.
Steve hummed his agreement. “It’s just so odd that I actually feel tired. I mean, I can operate on a lot less sleep than the average person usually.”
“Yeah, but your body isn’t normally trying to reproduce a couple liters of blood and heal organs,” Logan said dryly.
Steve chuckled. “I guess you’re right.”
“Take a nap. I’ll wake you up for lunch.”
Steve hesitated. He didn’t like feeling like an invalid. He was more than willing to just push through this. He didn’t want to seem lazy. Logan cut off that train of thought though.
“Just rest if you can’t sleep. We have nothing else to do right now. You can take the time.”
Steve nodded. “Okay, yeah. It would feel good to lie down for a bit.”
Logan stood, but leaned in for a last kiss. “I’m going to call Xavier back and update him, and then I’ll be back.”
With that, Logan left the room and Steve lay down on the surprisingly comfortable bed.
Logan stepped out into the hall outside Steve’s room to find Tony waiting for him.
“You and I need to have a little chat,” Tony said as he pushed off from the wall he’d been leaning against.
Logan raised his eyebrows. “That sounds serious.”
“Unfortunately, it is, but I’m already working on how to fix it,” Tony answered with a note of sympathy in his voice.
Logan hadn’t known him long, but what he did know of Tony Stark was that the man was unrepentantly honest.
“Should we wait until Steve is awake?”
Tony shrugged. “This is actually pretty personal, so I’ll leave that up to you.”
Well, now Logan didn’t know what to think. He figured just finding out what Stark had to say was best.
“Okay, lead on,” Logan acquiesced.
Tony took him down to his lab. They went to one of the workstations, and Tony started pulling up some files on a large screen. Tony sat on a stool and gestured for Logan to do the same.
“So, I probably crossed a line with this, but it was partly accidental,” Tony started. He paused for a moment and ran a hand through his already messy hair.
Tony took a breath and started again. “Let me back up. Story time. So, you know anything about this?”
Tony tapped the arc reactor glowing through his shirt.
“Yeah, I guess I’ve heard what’s been in the news and stuff,” Logan answered.
“Well, the first version ran on a palladium core. It was the only element at the time that lasted long enough to be reasonable for use,” Tony spun back and forth on his stool a bit as he spoke. “The only problem was that it was slowly poisoning me. The degradation of the core was slowly but steadily releasing toxic substances into my bloodstream.
“So, the reactor was keeping shrapnel from tearing into my heart, and at the same time it was increasing my blood toxicity. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t see a way out for a while.”
Tony trailed off and spun fully around on his stool before stopping.
“Eventually, I discovered a new element and developed a version of the arc reactor fueled by it that wouldn’t poison me. I’m still bitter they wouldn’t let me call it badassium.”
Logan snorted a surprised laugh. “Badassium would have been a great name.”
“Right? Well, like many other things in my life I’m now paranoid about, I had Jarvis create a protocol to scan for potentially dangerous metals in the building.”
“Ah, and here’s where I cause some trouble.” Logan still wasn’t sure where this was headed, but he could now see why he was involved.
“Yes. Well, not on purpose, but yes.”
Tony turned back to the screen and pulled up what looked like recorded footage from a security camera. It looked like the medical bay they had first brought Steve into when they’d arrived back from the mission. Tony started it playing and Logan watched as he saw himself walk into the room. The footage paused with him in the frame and then the image changed to something like an x-ray showing his bone structure. After a few seconds it changed again to display a readout of chemicals.
Adamantium was the most prevalent in the amounts listed, which didn’t surprise Logan.
“My entire skeleton is adamantium. I know that already,” he stated.
Tony sighed and his attitude seemed to sober. “That’s very true, but this isn’t a scan of your entire body. This is a readout from the version of a spectrograph I invented that can detect certain elements in the blood. Well, really it’s detecting them in blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, but I worked out an algorithm to account for the layers of dermis. It doesn’t read deep enough into the body to reach the bones.”
Logan started at the screen for a moment, processing what Tony was telling him.
“So, you’re saying I have adamantium in my blood?” he asked quietly.
“Yes,” Tony said directly. “I don’t know how much of a problem it is yet, because it will take doing some actual bloodwork to come up with toxicity levels, but I do know it will slowly poison you. Maybe not as fast as the palladium did with me, but it’s most certainly happening despite your remarkable healing ability.”
Logan took that in, but didn’t know what to say. The concept that something was actually killing him was sort of revolutionary after all these decades.
“We don’t have to rush to any decisions. If you’ll allow it, let’s gauge your blood toxicity and go from there. I already have a couple ideas I think are promising in terms of a solution, but that, of course, will be completely up to you as well. I’ll respect whatever you choose. Just say the word.”
Logan didn’t really know what to say. He’d never really had the luxury of choice when it had come to his body and abilities. That in and of itself was a novel concept. He figured getting more information was the best course of action for now, and decisions could come later.
“Do you need a blood sample?”
Tony nodded. “Yep, but I’ll keep it secure here, and no one else will work with it without your express permission. I can guarantee its destruction when we’re done.”
Logan appreciated the precautions Tony was willing to take.
“Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s see what we’re really dealing with before we do anything else,” Logan agreed.
“You got it, Chief,” Tony replied, then turned to yell behind him. “Dum-E, bring that kit over!”
Logan held up his hands. “Whoa, there, bub. You’re not letting a robot poke me with a needle, are you?”
“No, I’m just too lazy to go get it my—Careful! Don’t drop it!” Tony admonished when Dum-E raced toward them in his usual overenthusiastic way.
Dummy set the tray down on the workbench with a clatter, but nothing spilled over its edges. The small tray contained a sterile blood collection kit, and Tony set about getting it ready.
“You a doctor now?” Logan quipped.
Tony shook his head. “Nah, but I’ve done this plenty on myself, so I’m confident in my abilities.”
Logan snorted. “Sure, says the guys with a masochistic streak so wide he built himself a super suit so he could get beat up more often.”
“Ouch. I resemble that remark, White Fang,” Tony quipped with an amused smirk.
The procedure was quick and relatively painless, and Tony did indeed know what he was doing.
“Now,” Tony said when he was done. “Go snuggle with your boyfriend and whisper sweet nothings to each other while we wait on these results. We can have another little chat once we know more.”
“Thanks, Tony,” Logan said as he stood.
Being close to Steve sounded like a great idea. Logan needed some time to think about what this might mean for him.
“You two are surprisingly skilled at fitting two large bodies in one small bed, you know that?”
Logan hadn’t been sleeping but came to full alertness at Tony’s words. Logan had come and wrapped himself around Steve a while ago, and they’d been dozing together.
“Watching us sleep, Stark?” Logan snarked. “Creepy.”
“I’m not creepy, I’m eccentric,” Tony mock protested with a hand to his heart. “But really, it’s lunch time and then I figured you boys might like a more comfortable room.”
Steve stretched and he and Logan got up to follow Tony out of the medical area and up a couple floors to what seemed to be a personal residence level of the tower. A prepared meal was sitting out on a buffet off to the side of an open kitchen and living space with a large dining table between. Steve realized he was starving and loaded up two plates right away. Logan did similar.
“You super people and your super metabolisms,” Tony griped as he grabbed a much more modest portion.
Their conversation over lunch was surprisingly amicable. Logan asked Tony a lot of questions about Stark Tower and Steve listened, just as curious. He was already feeling more like himself, and Steve figured that by tomorrow he’d be back in fighting shape.
After they ate, Tony took them down a hall off the living room that appeared to have doors to several suites of rooms. They stopped at the third one and Tony gestured them inside.
“You guys are welcome to stay here as long as you’d like,” Tony offered. “I had a courier retrieve your belongings from SHIELD and Logan’s were brought up as well. I figured you guys might want to hang around at least a couple days while Steve heals up and we figure out the fallout of his mission.”
Tony gave Logan a look that Steve couldn’t interpret, but Logan must have understood the implied meaning, because he just nodded.
“Thanks, Tony. For everything,” Steve said sincerely.
“No problem. Bruce wants to come check on you again, so I expect he’ll be up in a few. Keep your pants on until then, you two. Or don’t. I won’t judge. We’ll catch up after Grandpa has another nap.” Tony said as he ducked out and closed the door behind him.
Logan and Steve walked further into the suite. A living area that was plenty large extended out to a wall of exterior windows. The view of New York was absolutely beautiful despite the areas where reconstruction was still taking place. The country had rallied around New York as strongly as ever, and Steve was surprised with how fast progress was being made to restore the city.
When Steve turned back to the room, he found Logan a few steps behind him, staring out the windows as well. He seemed a little quieter and more reserved. Steve knew that would sound ridiculous to anyone else, but he thought he knew Logan well enough to know when he was wrapped up in something.
Steve crossed to Logan and pulled him into an embrace. “You all right?”
Logan wrapped his arms around Steve in turn and buried his face in Steve’s neck.
“Yeah, just taking it all in, ya know?”
Maybe the whirlwind of events that had happened since they’d found each other was getting to Logan. Hell, it was a lot for Steve too. They stood holding each other for a few more moments until Jarvis interrupted them.
“Captain Rogers, Dr. Banner is here and would like to check your blood pressure if it is a convenient time.”
Steve took a deep breath and stepped back from Logan. “Sure, I’ll get the door.”
Steve walked to the door to their suite and opened it to reveal Bruce standing with a tablet and an armful of medical equipment.
“Hey, Steve. Mind if we do this one more time?” Bruce asked politely.
“Sure,” Steve agreed as he gestured Bruce in through the door. “I am feeling almost like myself again anyway. Still pretty tired though. I sleep and then wake up feeling like I haven’t slept at all.”
Bruce nodded. “That makes sense. Your body has had to work pretty hard to both rebuild your blood supply and regenerate muscle and tissue, including a major organ, at the same time.”
Logan had sprawled on the couch while Steve and Bruce were talking, so he went and sat near him. Bruce sat on the edge of the coffee table and took Steve’s blood pressure and oxygen levels.
“Hm, I’d say you’re pretty much back to normal,” Bruce said thoughtfully, making some notes on his tablet. “My best advice is if you’re feeling tired, then sleep. You’ve mostly recovered at this point and your body will do the rest.”
“Thanks, Bruce,” Steve said. “Are you staying in the tower too? I realized we haven’t caught up much since Thor took Loki back to Asgard.”
Bruce nodded as he gathered his things. “Yup, Tony gave me a lab to work in and lots of projects to keep me busy. I really appreciate it considering how my other half became an even more public persona after the invasion.”
“Stark seems to be a good guy like that,” Logan noted, “fixing everything and everyone.”
“Yeah,” Bruce shrugged. “I think he feels it’s his duty to the world for being part of the weapons industry in the past. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I try to accept it gracefully and not take advantage.”
Steve took that piece of insight in thoughtfully. He was starting to realize the significant degree to which the manipulation by SHIELD and Loki had influenced their team dynamic during the Battle of New York. He was suddenly very grateful that he’d met up with Logan and had that small push of an outside perspective to start to see through it all.
Steve stood to walk Bruce to the door.
“Thanks again, Bruce. I really appreciate getting help from friends instead of some infirmary somewhere. I had enough of that before.”
Steve closed the door behind him and made his way back to Logan on the couch. Steve was already exhausted again just from being up and about for a couple hours. The couch looked comfortable but lying flat in a bed sounded more appealing. He walked over to Logan and held out his hand.
“I’m beat. Going to hit the hay, want to join me?”
Logan took his hand and levered up from the couch.
“An afternoon nap? Stark’s right to call you grandpa.”
Steve chuckled. “Yeah, yeah. You love all the cuddling. Don’t deny it.”
Logan stopped walking and reeled Steve in for a kiss. “I really, really do.”
Steve felt a rush of love at the bare truth in Logan’s words and expression. They hadn’t always easily said the words, but Steve didn’t hold back now.
“I love you, Logan.”
Logan leaned in for another kiss. “I love you too.”
They made their way to the bedroom, and Steve took a look around. Stark had placed both of their bags on the bed. He was still wearing the scrubs he had woken in, so Steve dug through his duffel to find a set of SHIELD issued sweats. He changed into them, enjoying the extra warmth.
Logan was already settled on the bed, seated against the headboard with his long legs straight in front of him. He had pulled out his phone and was slowly typing something on it.
“Do you need to check in at the school or anything?” Steve asked. “I don’t want to keep you away from your work.”
Logan looked up and shook his head. “No. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than with you right now. They’re used to unexpected substitutes over there. It goes with the territory.”
“Okay,” Steve accepted as he crawled in the other side of the bed. “Not tired?”
Logan chuckled. “Nope. But I’m not recovering from multiple bullet wounds either.”
The yawn that caught Steve off guard right at that moment was evidence enough of his need to rest.
“Come on,” Logan beckoned. “I’ll sit with you.”
Steve smiled and settled in close to Logan. He closed his eyes, and soon felt Logan begin stroking his fingers through his hair. The motion quickly lulled Steve to a deep state of restfulness, and he let himself drift over the boundary of consciousness to sleep.
Logan sat running his fingers through Steve’s hair until Steve’s breaths evened out into those of deep sleep. Steve’s hair was longer than he usually kept it, but maybe that was because of his time traveling. He set his phone down, and leaned his head back against the headboard, closing his eyes.
Logan truly didn’t know what he wanted to do about the adamantium poisoning his blood. They hadn’t gotten the toxicity levels back yet, but that wasn’t actually relevant to the choice to be made. It was just a metric of how much time he would have.
If he was being honest with himself, the idea of actually having an end date for his life was somewhat appealing. Maybe that was morbid or unhealthy, but he figured he was entitled to think that way after so many lifetimes. Logan hoped he wasn’t on the Doc’s radar at the moment, because he was sure Xavier would have an opinion on his thoughts.
Though, Logan couldn’t deny that some advice from his friend and mentor might be helpful right now. He sighed and opened his eyes to look down at Steve, sleeping peacefully. That was the other problem. Could he leave Steve again? They knew the dangers inherent when being called on to use their powers, but this was different. This was making a conscious choice to put an end date on his life and their relationship.
The fact that they’d come together again after all these years wasn’t something to just toss away. If Logan did succumb to the adamantium, he’d be leaving Steve behind. Howard Stark had speculated and later proven through testing that Steve’s healing abilities would extend his life virtually indefinitely. They had each other in this life, and they could keep each other sane and weather whatever was thrown their way.
It sounded like an ideal future, but Logan was just so damn tired. Was it so selfish to want to just stop at some point? It probably was. Logan sighed and picked up his phone again, going back to answering a few emails, decision postponed for the time being.
Logan wandered the dim hall on their floor, making his way to the large communal kitchen. He had spent the afternoon sitting with Steve, and they’d had supper together when he’d woken. After they spent some time just sitting together talking about the old days like the old men they were, Steve had gotten tired again and gone to bed. Logan had dozed with him for a little while before waking up restless in the wee hours of the morning.
When he reached the open living room, he stopped at the bank of windows to watch the glittering lights of the city below for a few moments. When he turned to go back to the kitchen, Logan saw Tony was lying on the couch doing something on his tablet. He had been hidden from view from the other side when Logan had first walked in.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Logan asked.
“Too much to do, my man,” Tony said without looking away from his screen.
“Didn’t want to stay in your rooms? I figured you had at least an entire floor dedicated or your penthouse or something.”
“Wow, aren’t you Mr. Nosey tonight,” Tony quipped. “I took a walk and ended up here. Does that satisfy your curiosity, Howlett?”
Logan raised his hands in a gesture to ward off Tony’s ire. “No sweat, bub. Just noticing you don’t seem to sleep a lot is all.”
“Yeah, well. Like I said, lots to do,” Tony replied stiffly and continued to tap away at his screen.
Logan was silent for a few moments and he contemplated how he wanted to approach what he was thinking. He figured Tony was the kind of person that didn’t necessarily keep normal hours, but he’d also noticed other little things. Hyper-alertness, aversion to certain people in his space, that quirk where he didn’t like to be handed things. Logan decided his usual directness would be best.
“You know, therapy will help with the PTSD.”
Tony let out a derisive noise. “A guy who is known for both his stoic nature and his outbursts of temper is telling me to go to therapy? Yeah, that makes sense.”
Logan shrugged. “How do you think I kept most of my sanity after all these years? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with a guy like Xavier that’s always in people’s heads, it’s that everyone needs some goddamned therapy. Like it or not, I’m including you in that statement.”
Tony finally turned off his tablet and sat up, turning to place his feet on the floor.
“I’ll put it on my to do list.”
“I’m serious, Tony,” Logan pushed. “I know we don’t know each other that well, and I haven’t always been a paragon of mental health, but you don’t seem like you’re in a good place right now. It’s easy to make it look that way on the surface, but we’ve been together now for a few days, and I can see the cracks.”
Logan sighed and ran a hand through his hair and let out a breath.
“Look. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but I’m saying it’s okay if you’ve got some shit going on in your head after New York. I would too. Just don’t ignore taking care of yourself while you’re busy taking care of everyone else,” Logan finished.
Tony huffed and stood, making his way to the kitchen. Logan followed. He could always eat. His body seemed to always need the calories. Before Tony could start pulling things out of the fridge, Logan interrupted him.
“How about I cook for you this time?”
Tony stepped back and gave Logan an assessing look. “Are you any good?”
“I’ve made do with very little at certain times in my life. You learn to really appreciate cooking after that.”
Tony nodded and gestured to the open fridge, then found a spot of counter to lean on and watch. Logan found some smoked gouda cheese and butter.
“Bread?” he asked Tony.
Tony turned to the pantry and found a loaf of sourdough. He handed it over, and Logan set to work making grilled cheese sandwiches. Logan was quiet while he worked. Tony had wandered back to the kitchen island and sat poking at his tablet again.
“You want to talk about your issues now?” Tony asked. “I think you owe me after that.”
Logan sighed. “Don’t know if there’s much to talk about, really.”
“Sure there is. Jarvis got your results in a little while ago, and I’ve been working up a plan. I’d like to consult with Bruce on a few things though, if that’s okay with you.”
Logan didn’t answer while he moodily flipped the sandwiches.
“What’s to debate here? I’m telling you we can fix this,” Tony persisted.
Logan thought about what he wanted to say to Stark while he plated their food and sat down next to him. There weren’t many people that could truly understand his position, but Stark was smart. He would get it in an intellectual sense, at the very least. Logan took a bite and chewed slowly before responding.
“I’m not actually sure if it’s a problem I want you to fix. Knowing there is a time limit on all of this? It’s hard to just brush that aside after all these years,” Logan admitted quietly.
Tony didn’t respond right away, and Logan hoped he hadn’t taken that badly. Maybe it wasn’t smart to reveal the depth of his issues to a man who he didn’t know that well, but he figured he could trust Tony with this. The fact was that none of them had gotten to their positions today without an entire luggage set worth of baggage. The world could be a pretty fucked up place, and most people Logan knew these days had experienced that hard truth in one way or another.
Tony hummed thoughtfully and took a couple bites of his own sandwich before responding.
“Okay, I actually think you have a point there. I mean, it’s a valid choice that someone in your position should be allowed to make,” Tony agreed.
Logan nodded. “Thanks.”
Tony seemed to get absorbed in something on his tablet for a few minutes and Logan finished his sandwich in amicable silence.
“So,” Tony said as he pushed his tablet aside in favor of eating more. “Do you want my opinion? Or are you going to make this choice yourself without considering outside counsel?”
“Sure,” Logan shrugged. “I can’t promise I’m going to go along with it, but I’ll listen.”
Tony sat back and crossed his arms over his chest. “A, I think you should talk to Steve about it. If anything, he knows where you’re coming from better than almost anyone. He also probably has some stake in the game, so he’ll be influenced by that, but from what I know of Steve, he’ll be honest with you.
“And second, I think you’re in a unique position to be a positive influence in the universe, and that’s something to consider. I’m not saying you should feel obligated, but I’m saying your value to humanity is significant and you shouldn’t feel like you’re not worth saving. Not just because you’re a badass with claws, but because you’re a person with real thoughts and feelings just like the rest of us.”
Logan took that in with all the stoic grace he could muster, but it felt like a little bit of a punch to the gut. He’d been used plenty in his life, but very few people had actually told him he had real value. Not that he could remember, at least. Steve was definitely one of those people, and now Tony had affirmed that as well.
“Why haven’t you told Steve yet, by the way?” Tony asked, making Logan feel like he was reading his mind.
“I don’t know,” Logan said, then let out a breath and scrubbed his hands over his face. “I want him to ask me to stay, but I know he won’t because he’s Steve and he’ll always sacrifice his own happiness for whatever cause presents itself.”
“Hm, I see your predicament. Though I have to disagree with you, buddy.”
Logan gave Tony a skeptical look.
“Steve might be willing to be more selfish this time around. He’s been given back a life with someone he loves after you both going through a lot of shit to get here. If I were him, I’d hang on to that with both hands and never let go,” Tony elaborated.
Tony grabbed his plate and stood to take it to the dishwasher. He turned back to Logan when he was done.
“I don’t know Steve as well as you do, but it’s obvious he’s pretty damn stubborn. I’d be surprised if he didn’t try to convince you to go through with treatment.”
Tony grabbed his tablet and headed toward the elevator. He stopped when he’d almost reached it and turned back.
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but…” Tony trailed off before starting again. “I haven’t gotten my hands on all the research they did on the serum they used on Steve, but considering he survived being frozen for decades, I think you might want to consider his life span in this equation too.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Logan agreed softly. That was something he hadn’t thought of. Could he really leave Steve behind like that?
After Tony left, Logan let himself brood silently for a few minutes before finally getting up and putting his dishes away. He walked back to the room they shared and found Steve still deeply asleep. It was unusual during the war for either of them to be able to have a true restful and deep sleep. They were always on alert, even while at rest. Logan was glad Steve felt safe enough here to rest and heal.
When Logan crawled into bed, Steve rolled toward him and hummed in satisfaction.
“Hey there,” Steve rumbled in a sleep roughened voice.
Logan shifted so Steve could comfortably use his chest as a pillow.
Logan began rubbing his hand up and down the naked skin of Steve’s back, enjoying the warmth of his body and texture of his skin.
“Sorry I’ve been sleeping so much,” came Steve’s partially muffled voice.
“Don’t sweat it. You needed the rest.”
“Makes me feel lazy,” Steve replied as he shifted and propped himself up on one elbow to look at Logan.
Logan smiled. Steve looked rumpled and relaxed. It reminded Logan of the time they’d had together on the coast of Spain.
“Remember that three days of leave we got after that mission in France? Everyone else was at the beach and in town looking for a good time, but we disappeared into the hotel. Buck wouldn’t stop giving us a hard time.”
Steve chuckled. “Little did he know all we did was sleep and eat.”
Logan rolled them so he was mostly on top of Steve.
“Well, we did do a little bit more than that.”
Steve smiled wide and easy up at him. “I wouldn’t exactly call it little.”
Logan couldn’t resist that playful mouth and swept forward for a kiss that turned passionate before taking on an air of desperation. Logan suddenly knew what he needed.
“Fuck me,” he practically growled into Steve’s ear.
Steve moaned and arched up under him.
“Yes. Hell, yes!”
They were all movement then. A surge of energy and strength organizing itself into two naked bodies tangled together as they removed what little clothes remained between them. Steve took the lead then and covered Logan’s body with his own as they kissed for long minutes.
Finally, Steve shifted and sat back on his heels. Steve grabbed the lube and Logan allowed him to position his legs wide to expose the intimate place where Steve would soon be overwhelming him with pleasure. Logan didn’t do this often, and he wasn’t sure he even remembered the last time he’d indulged in allowing himself to feel so vulnerable with someone.
Steve leaned forward and put his mouth over Logan’s cock while he pressed a finger just inside his hole. The dual sensation was fantastic and Logan cried out his pleasure. He tried not to move too much so as not to interrupt a moment of Steve’s ministrations, but he could feel himself fast losing control.
Steve teased with mouth and fingers and quickly had Logan relaxed enough to take him. Steve sat back again and Logan struggled to open his eyes as he panted in the wake of the loss of Steve’s touch. When he did, he found Steve looking down at him with an expression so full of awe and love that Logan’s eyes immediately dampened with emotion.
“Come on, darlin’. Get back here,” Logan demanded with a smile he knew was just as besotted as Steve’s.
Steve didn’t answer with words. He just moved in for a kiss which Logan returned enthusiastically. After a moment he felt Steve lining himself up and then he was pushing forward. Filling Logan up exactly the way he needed right now.
Steve didn’t wait long after bottoming out to pull back and begin thrusting steadily. It was a little painful after so long without, but Logan liked it that way. It reminded him he was alive, and it was so different from the pain brought by all the violence he’d experienced in his life.
They moved together in rhythm, in sync in every way in that moment. Logan could tell Steve was already close by the way his breathing and rhythm were changing. He’d been so focused on Steve and the sensations of their movement together that his own orgasm caught him by surprise. He shouted his release and clenched the sheets beneath his hands as he rode the wave of overwhelming pleasure.
Steve only gave a couple stuttering thrusts before he was pulled over the crest and filled Logan with his release. Logan lay with eyes closed, panting as he caught his breath. After a few moments, he slowly unclenched his fists and moved his legs down a bit from where he’d had his knees pulled back. Steve sighed in contentment and rolled off Logan and onto his back.
Steve turned his head to look at Logan. “That was better than Spain.”
Logan barked out a surprised laugh. “Yeah, it sure is a hell of a lot more fun not to have to sneak around and pretend we weren’t fucking like rabbits every chance we got.”
Logan grabbed a corner of the sheet to clean himself off, and then rolled to curl into Steve’s side.
“It’s definitely way more fun this way where you can make all the sexy noises you want,” Logan said with a smile.
He thought he actually caught Steve blushing a little. The man was shameless in bed, but still struggled to accept compliments sometimes. They lay there in comfortable silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the warmth of their bodies and the afterglow of truly great sex. Steve was aimlessly tracing his fingers up and down Logan’s back.
“I’m not gonna make you talk about it now, but I know something’s on your mind,” Steve murmured, interrupting their quiet moment.
“You’re too damn smart, Rogers.”
“Yeah, well. It’s your fault for getting involved with me. With your body, you could have had pretty airheaded bimbos lined up out the door.”
Logan laughed. “I’ll take both the beauty and the brains you’ve got, thanks.”
Steve shifted under him and stretched.
“I’m feeling pretty good. Want to get in an early morning workout? Tony has to have some kind of home gym in here somewhere,” Steve proposed.
“Excuse me sirs, but there is a gym available for your use one floor down from this one,” Jarvis’ calm voice came through the room.
Logan snorted. “Well that’s very helpful, but a bit unsettling naked in bed after sex.”
“I have the ability to monitor the entire building, but my privacy protocols prevent me from monitoring or recording intimate activities. Unless there is a sign of medical distress that alerts my attention, of course. Should you wish to engage the privacy protocols at any time, merely make the request of me.”
“Thanks, Jarvis. Should have expected as much after what I already know of your capabilities,” Logan said by way of apology.
Steve raised his eyebrows at that, and Logan shrugged. It was obvious Steve wasn’t going to let him get away with anything, so Logan expected they’d be having that talk sooner rather than later.
They got dressed and headed downstairs to find a large gym with all the basics plus a lot of stuff Logan didn’t even recognize. Logan didn’t really need to exercise to maintain his strength, but it did help expend some excess energy and keep him in top fighting form mentally. He suspected Steve was the same way, and he knew Steve favored a good heavy bag when he needed to work out some aggression.
There was a sparring ring and boxing equipment on one side of the room, but Steve headed for the treadmills.
“I tried one of these at SHIELD. They aren’t bad for a quick run,” Steve commented.
Logan followed Steve over to them and started setting a treadmill up for himself. “Just don’t push yourself.”
Steve rolled his eyes but smiled. “I really am feeling much better, but since you’re concerned, we can keep the pace slow enough that you can tell me what’s been going on with you.”
Logan just smiled and shook his head. Yeah, he hadn’t really been planning to drop this on Steve so soon after the disaster of a mission he just came out of, but if there was one word that described Steve Rogers, it was stubborn. It was best to just give in to what he wanted gracefully.
Logan waited until they’d both settled into a steady jog before he started.
“So, Tony has some incredible technology in this building.”
“Yeah,” Steve agreed. “I feel like I only understand a small fraction of the possibilities nowadays.”
“I give you a helluva lot of respect for not going crazy jumping into all this,” Logan praised.
Steve shrugged without breaking his stride. “It’s not like I had a choice. Besides, it’s pretty incredible stuff. You know, cool, as people say.”
Logan smiled over at Steve. “Don’t go picking up all that slang the kids use these days. Pretty soon you’ll start sounding like one of my students.”
He took a few beats to gather himself to tell Steve what Tony had figured out.
“So, Tony has this technology that scans people for metal. It’s a security thing for the building.”
Steve nodded. “And I’m guessing you set off every alarm there was?”
“Yup,” Logan confirmed. He had told Steve what he remembered about how he’d gotten his shiny skeleton a couple weeks back when they had first reunited.
“So, Jarvis did some further scans with some other equipment when I was in the medical wing with you after your mission. He alerted Tony to an issue, and Tony explained it all to me while you were doing your Sleeping Beauty impression.”
Steve gave him a concerned look. “What kind of issue?”
“The metal that makes up my skeleton is adamantium. Apparently, it’s slowly increasing the toxicity of my blood,” Logan explained. “It will eventually kill me.”
Steve smacked the stop button on his treadmill and stepped off the back. He put his hands on his hips as he stood catching his breath. Logan stopped his machine too and stood waiting for Steve to say whatever it was he was working up to.
Steve’s brow was furrowed in concern, and Logan watched him open his mouth to start to say something a couple times. Before he could apparently decide what to say, Steve stepped forward to grip Logan in a bruising hug.
“We just got this back,” Steve whispered, emotion heavy in his voice.
Logan swallowed back his own emotion. “I know.”
Logan sighed before he answered. “I don’t actually know. I think Tony’s trying to figure it out. Maybe months, maybe years.”
Steve finally let go and stepped back, folding his arms over his chest.
“Let me guess, Tony is working on a way to fix it?”
“More like he already has a plan to do so,” Logan replied.
Steve nodded. “It’s exactly what Howard would do. You and I both know Howard wasn’t perfect, but the more time I spend with Tony, the more I realize he got all the best of him and more.”
“So,” Steve continued. “Tony can fix this, and you’ll be okay? Then what’s got you all tied up?”
Logan rubbed his hand over the back of his neck.
“That’s the thing. I’m not sure I want him to.”
Logan held up his hands to ward off the retort he could see Steve was working up.
“Hear me out first. As far as I know, I’ve been walking this earth for over 100 years. All signs point to my continual ability to heal myself prolonging my life indefinitely. This is the first thing that’s come along that shows any signs of stopping that.”
Logan paused to take a deep breath and blow it out. “I’m not sure I want another hundred years, Steve.”
Logan watched Steve process his confession. Steve just stood in silence, for once not jumping in with a plan or argument. Logan’s heart broke when he saw Steve’s expression shift to a deep sadness.
He knew what it had been like for Steve. Knew the people he’d lost. Watched him lose his best friend and brother when Barnes fell. Here he was telling Steve he might willingly cause him the same pain. It didn’t invalidate any reasons Logan might have for making the choice, but he couldn’t ignore it either.
Steve took a deep breath and finally spoke. His voice came out low and rough with emotion.
“You deserve the right to choose. I won’t tell you what to do. Just know I love you, no matter what happens.”
Logan stepped forward and reached out, but Steve brushed him off and headed toward the heavy bag that hung near the boxing equipment. Logan knew he wanted time alone when he was like this, but he stayed long enough to make sure Steve wrapped his hands. There was no reason for Steve to hurt any more than Logan just caused. As soon as Steve landed the first punch, Logan turned and left, leaving the other man to work through this in the best way he knew how.