There was something about Logan’s voice – something versatile and… shape-shifting about it. Usually it was even-keeled and authoritative, like he meant serious business which he did all the fucking time. But now and then, his voice would dip lower into a pit of hesitation and insecurity, very out of character for the Logan Alec knew. At least, the Logan he thought he knew.
Of course, he’d also heard that voice all desperate and wanton like a bitch in heat. Alec smirked, that was going to be his favorite Logan-voice forever. Even if last night was the only time he ever heard it.
“Alright, let’s get to work!” Caleb announced, after finishing this third cup of Jo. Then he turned to Alec. “You’re welcome to join, of course.”
Alec shook his head. He planned to keep his eye on the cronies, still not trusting anyone in this house, “I’m good, thanks, never learned to balance a balance sheet anyway.”
He looked around, spotting a cozy corner in the living area with a bookshelf, a fifty-inch plasma and an Xbox. “I’ll just hang out here, if you don’t mind.”
Logan didn’t comment; he wasn’t even looking at Alec anymore. Alec tried not to feel hurt and viciously stabbed his fourth helping of bacon with a silver fork.
“Okay then!” Caleb said and stood up. “Here nephew, let me get you.”
Before Logan could protest, Caleb took the handles and started to wheel him into the library. Alec knew (Max mentioned in passing months ago) how Logan hated being ushered anywhere without his express permission. But right then he bit his lip and just held on to his laptop, looking at the library door anxiously. Clearly he didn’t trust anyone here either.
“Logan,” Alec called out. God help him, he just couldn’t resist.
Logan turned toward Alec after pausing for a second.
“I’m right here.”
The vigilante swallowed and quickly nodded, before looking away. Alec got up and held the library door open for the Cales to go through. Caleb thanked him for his manners, and neither man noticed the X5 stealthily dropping his fork to the carpeted floor, using it to wedge the door open by just a slit.
Alec had chosen the perfect spot to set up a lookout. He could watch all entrances to the living area and the library from his spot. He played Call of Duty for a while (it reminded him of one of the battle simulations they ran in Manticore – except that was with real guns and real human targets), but kept it on mute, his superhuman ears focused keenly on the voices floating out from the library.
“Well, son, I’m impressed. A solid business plan you’ve put together here.”
“Thank you, Uncle. That means a lot to me.”
Alec smirked. Only a perfectionist like Logan would put in so much effort into a ‘front’ charity foundation. Another few minutes went by with Caleb asking more questions and Logan answering them like a total pro.
“Looks good. But I have one more condition before I sign.”
“What’s that?” Logan’s voice was still all business, but just a little tense.
“I want to see you more often, LJ. I want you to promise me you and Alec will come visit us at least once a month. Please don’t disappear after I sign this?”
Oh boy. Alec swiped a hand across his face. The last thing Logan wanted to do was spend another night, hell, another minute with Alec in the same bedroom. Having to do it once a month would be pure torture (even though, personally, Alec wouldn’t mind it too much).
“You know I’d love to, Uncle, but –”
“You could use the downtime now and then, can’t you? Sure looks like Alec might. Your caregiver looks a little rundown today, doesn’t he?”
Alec pouted. Maybe he should have shaved too…
“How did you two meet anyway? You never told me.”
Logan sighed audibly. “Uh, my doctor recommended him. Look, Uncle, we’ll stay this weekend. And I’ll try to visit you more often, I know I should. But I just want you to know that… Alec and I, well…”
“What is it, nephew?”
Logan stammered. “I don’t want you to… get used to seeing him around, that’s all.”
“But you two look so happy together?”
Alec rolled his eyes. Caleb the clairvoyant.
“It’s just… uh,” Logan tried. “It won’t last, it’s not meant to.”
“Why’s that?” Caleb continued to intrude, and Logan had no choice but to answer.
“Because Alec is young… and carefree and there is so much of this world he hasn’t had a chance to see yet. In a lot of ways, he… hasn’t really lived at all.”
“So? You can give him a good life, I can see that you want to.”
“But I can’t, Uncle… I come with way too much baggage. Not to mention a wheelchair, and hospital trips and therapy sessions and physical limitations and… indignities I can barely stand myself. He’s not ready for all of that. H-he shouldn’t have to either.”
Alec strained to hear Logan’s husk of a voice as it kept dropping in volume while Caleb incessantly tapped a pen on a muted surface, like a felt-covered diary or something.
“I’ll admit he does seem young and kinda cocky…”
“… and fickle, and reckless, and he gets bored easily and that’s all fine, really! Who isn’t like that at his age? But I’m old, and jaded and cynical and in his own words, way more serious than I need to be and…”
Logan sighed again. It physically hurt Alec to hear that pained exhale of breath. “I need something that lasts forever, like you and Aunt Jenny. But I don’t think he’ll be happy being tied down to me for too long. It just won’t work.”
Alec couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up forcefully, for once not policing his unnatural strength. The antique settee shifted out of its place, alerting a suit to his position.
“Are you okay, Sir?”
Alec ignored the man and stalked out through the side doors into the grassy lawns beyond. He paced back and forth, processing the words.
Why was Logan talking like he really was paraplegic? Had he forgotten he was only pretending? And by the way, just because Alec did a good job of staying stocked up on Tryptophan didn’t mean he didn’t know what a handicap was, or what it felt like to live with fucking indignities.
And what did he mean by being old? Barely thirty and Logan thought himself old?
Of course, it was possible Logan was only lying to get his uncle off his back. But Alec knew that voice like he knew the beating of his own heart. The words could be false but Logan couldn’t possibly fake that voice. And something in it had shifted again, like it was back in that dark place of uncertainty and insecurities Alec seldom ever associated with the vigilante.
“You’re wrong, Logan,” he whispered to no one, letting his eternal optimism wash away all his bitterness from earlier that morning.
“I’ll make it last, if you let me… I’ll make it last forever.”
Call it a weird kink, a freaky fetish or whatever, but Alec had a thing for knees… the bonier the better.
He loved how the skin stretched over the cap of the joint, the sensitivity of the soft underside that, when tickled, produced the most delicious sounds ever. He loved how he could wrap his long hands all the way around each knee, pull them apart and open his lovers wide, exposed to his eyes and his ministrations…
Huh? Alec recovered from his daydream and turned to Caleb. “Sorry, did you say something?”
The old man smiled. “I asked you if you enjoyed the trout, caught them fresh from the lake myself. It’s so beautiful down there, especially at sunrise. I tried teaching LJ how to fish, but he never took to it. He doesn’t like to see them struggle for breath out of water.”
“Always the bleeding heart, our LJ,” Mrs. Nolan supplied as she poured coffee for the three men, right after lunch. “Just like Logan Senior.”
Alec squinted while Logan just crossed his arms and tried not to roll his eyes.
“My younger brother,” Caleb was kind enough to explain. “Logan was named after him.”
Lunch had been organized outside on the grandiose porch. It was the perfect weather for it – not too hot and not too cold. The sun peeked out from beyond a thin cover of rainclouds. Alec could smell the oncoming storm on the breeze that swept over his face and neck, but he wasn’t worried. He planned to have Logan safely out of here and back home before then.
“This is nice, huh, Mrs. Nolan?” Caleb said cheerfully to their housekeeper. “A full house! Usually it’s just you and me around here…”
“Oh yes,” she agreed, “It’s always good to have you back, LJ.”
Logan smiled tightly and fidgeted a little but didn’t respond. He was obviously past his socializing capacity for one day. Alec needed to get him away from these two and out of that wheelchair too. At least for a bit, before he got really grumpy and impossible to sleep next to at night.
He cleared his throat. “Hey Caleb, do you mind if I take a stroll? Looks like a nice day for a walk, maybe see this lake you were bragging about.”
“Absolutely! You haven’t seen the grounds behind the house yet, have you? If you go through the forest there’s a short-cut that goes all the way down to the lake. Logan can take you there.”
Logan winced until he realized Alec was looking right at him. The X5 in contrast grinned happily. “Oh, I’d love that so much! Can we, Logan? Please?”
Everyone turned their expectant eyes at Logan, who just glowered at Alec, hardly left with a choice after that display of over-excitement now, was he?
They walked for a bit. Well, Alec walked; Logan struggled with his wheelchair that wouldn’t glide as smoothly over natural ground as it did across the expensive Italian marble inside the mansion.
“Want me to push?”
“I got it!” Logan snapped, and Alec backed off.
At the edge of the little forest adjacent to the manicured grounds, Logan finally came to a stop, sweating, exhausted, and ceding defeat.
“Do you really want to go in there?” He asked, half-pleading with Alec not to make him wheelchair through the forest. He’d probably had enough of an upper body workout to last him a year.
Alec chuckled, then without waiting for permission he got behind Logan and started to push him into the thick tree cover.
“Hey!” Logan protested, though he didn’t have the energy to use any more words.
“Relax,” Alec bent down to whisper into Logan’s ear. “No surveillance beyond the trees. I checked.”
Logan looked up at Alec after a second, and smiled.
Ten minutes later, Alec sat himself in the wheelchair and watched Logan stride and jump and hop and skip around a small clearing in the middle of the forest, making happy and hugely relieved sounds all the while.
“Thank you, man. I was cramping up like crazy!”
“You’re very welcome,” Alec responded brightly. “Can I ask you a question?”
“When you’re sitting in this thing, it’s like you forget you’re only pretending to need it.”
The smile on Logan’s face dimmed a little. He dug his hands in his jeans pockets. “What’s the question?”
Alec huffed, ready to give up on getting any straight answers from the man today.
But Logan seemed to acquiesce just then. “Sorry,” he ran a hand through his already messy hair. “The transfusion will fail again, you know. It always does.”
“Doctors tell you that?”
Logan nodded. “I can feel my body fighting it already. Sooner or later, my stupid immunity will kick in and I’ll be back in the wheelchair, for real. I just don’t want to spend any more time in it than I have to.”
That explained a lot of things he’d heard Logan say earlier in the library. Alec bit his lip and watched Logan rotate his feet and flex his calves, trying to shake off the cramps that were obviously still bothering him.
“Come here, let me look at that.”
“What?” Logan frowned at Alec, “No, it’s fine. I just need to stretch a bit.”
He started to jump up and down on the spot. Alec laughed and got out of the wheelchair, pulling a blanket from its back-pocket that he’d tucked in there before they left the mansion, along with a few other supplies.
“Stop being an idiot and get over here,” he said, after spreading the blanket on the ground.
Logan stood frozen in his spot, a slightly panicked look in his eyes. He couldn’t move even when Alec approached him, but he did try protesting verbally. “Whatever you think you can do, it’s really not necessary. Wh-what are you going to do?”
“Just come,” Alec whispered, taking Logan by a forearm and tugging him towards the blanket.
He made Logan sit on the soft woolen covering and kneeled before him to take off his shoes and socks. He then stretched the long slender legs out and started with massaging the feet first. Logan flinched, holding himself stiffly, awkwardly.
“Relax, this will help. You gotta sit in that thing for another day if you want the money, remember?”
Logan groaned, “I feel like I’m whoring myself.”
Alec smirked. “The things you do for love…”
He meant it to be sarcastic and just went back to rubbing Logan’s feet. He worked the muscles on the left one first, then the right, before moving in closer to get to Logan’s calves.
“Do you really believe that? You think I’m doing this just for Max?”
Alec looked up at Logan, and swallowed softly. “No, no, I don’t,” and he meant it.
A moment or an eternity passed as the two men gazed into each other’s eyes – looking for answers and maybe assurances. Logan was the first to look away, wincing a little as Alec hit a pressure point just under his right knee. Alec moved in even closer, folding Logan’s right leg and working the knotted muscles slowly and firmly. His hands lingered around the joint, squeezing and rotating it lightly, before starting to make their way down the inside of Logan’s thigh.
Logan pulled back a little. “A-Alec, I think that’s enough…”
He looked into Logan’s eyes again, stilling his hands but not removing them, resolved not to make a move until he got a sign to do so. God knew he could wait forever for – something… anything…
He didn’t have to wait long. As if on sudden impulse, Logan grabbed Alec by his jacket collar and pulled him into a crushing kiss.
Fireworks exploded behind Alec’s eyelids. For a second he just sat there and let Logan taste his lips before forcing them open to slide his tongue within. Logan wrapped his arms around Alec and pulled him closer, not letting him escape. Not like Alec wanted to. When he recovered from his shock, Alec brought his own arms up, placing one hand around Logan’s waist and the other at the back of his head. He took control of the kiss, tongues dueling, teeth biting, and fingernails clawing whatever they could reach until Logan surrendered, letting Alec plunder his mouth completely.
Gradually, Alec pushed and Logan went until he was flat on his back with the X5 on top of him. They couldn’t stop kissing – it was like Logan had completely abandoned whatever code of morality or loyalty had been holding him back all day. Gods, even when he tried to pull back, Alec wouldn’t let him.
His superhuman lungs meant the X5 didn’t need to pause for breath and if it weren’t for Logan’s desperate gasping he wouldn’t have let him up for air at all.
“You’re gonna kill me, aren’t you?” Logan panted, letting his head fall back while Alec took his glasses off and mouthed his jaw, his forehead, his nose, every inch of his throat.
“Right now, I’m gonna fuck you into the ground,” Alec whispered roughly in Logan’s ear, enjoying the tremors rack the fragile spine. “I’ll fuck you so hard you won’t be able to pretend it didn’t happen again.”
A quiet whimper escaped Logan’s lips but his eyes glazed over with what could only be unbridled lust. He grimaced as Alec roughly pulled Logan’s sweater off his head, then undid his belt and jeans.
“For the record, I gave up pretending soon after breakfast…”
“How could I, when I had to sit in that goddamned wheelchair on a sore ass all day?”
Alec chuckled loudly before pulling back to look into Logan’s face. He was smiling too.
Quickly he stripped Logan of his pants and boxers and threw them aside next to his shoes and socks. Alec was glad he’d thought of grabbing the lube along with the blanket, which he now used to prepare Logan. The recipient of his attentions felt some discomfort at first but his face melted with blatant pleasure as Alec added more fingers and more lube to work his sweet spot.
“You’re so hot like this, Logan, so beautiful when you’re…”
Alec paused, choosing to wrap his lips around Logan’s left nipple instead.
Logan moaned but managed to form words somehow. “When I’m what… being a slut?”
Alec tugged at his right nipple, making Logan yelp before looking up into his dilated eyes. “When you let yourself be free…”
Logan fixed him with a strangely blank expression. “Just fuck me already,” he hissed.
And Alec complied.
He palmed Logan’s knees lovingly before hoisting them up over his shoulder and sheathing himself inside the hot, tight channel with an enormous groan of relief. He buried his face in Logan’s neck, and started thrusting, in and out, surrendering to the mind-blowing sensations for the next twenty odd minutes.
He listened carefully throughout – every time his partner’s breath hitched, every curse, every grunt, every whimper that escaped the proud and indomitable cyber-hero’s mouth against his will. And when they came, they came together – spurring each other’s long-teased and well-earned releases until they were both reduced to boneless messes of quivering, over-sensitized flesh.
Spent, Alec collapsed to the ground beside Logan. Immediately Logan reached for him, pulling him into his arms and holding him possessively, burying his face in Alec’s neck and even locking his teeth around a chunk of flesh like he really, really, wanted to keep Alec there.
“Hey,” Alec smiled, kissing Logan’s hair. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Logan stilled, as if he realized he’d given something important away.
“Logan, you think this is all just a one-off sex thing to me, but it’s not. This means more to me than… you know. I’ve wanted you for months…”
Logan looked up at him, “You have?”
Alec smiled sheepishly. “Since the pool game.”
Logan’s eyes went wide before he turned away to lie on his back. He brought his hands up to hide his face, pretending to rub his brows. Alec panicked, not liking that Logan was pulling away from him already.
“Does that bother you?”
“Logan, I-I am not asking for much, just… i-it can be like you and Bling!” he blurted desperately.
Logan spun towards him. “What?”
“Look, I-I won’t come in the way of you and… and Max whenever you guys can… you know. In the meantime, Logan, please…”
The vigilante laughed miserably and sat up before pulling his pants back on. “That’s what you think Bling and I were? A stopgap arrangement until I could be with Max?”
Alec sat up too, and shrugged softly. But he didn’t answer, and that was answer enough.
“Alec, I wasn’t with… shit. The truth is – Bling was abusing me.”
It was Alec’s turn to spin around in complete outraged shock. “WHAT?”
Logan was fully clothed again by now, yet he was shivering like he was totally naked. “I trusted him. He was one of the few who knew I was Eyes Only. The first time we hooked up, I was drunk and depressed and Max wasn’t in the picture yet. But after, I turned him down and he didn’t take it so well. Don’t know why, he just got increasingly obsessed and then… he started blackmailing me. Threatened to expose everyone in the Eyes Only network, expose Max to Lydecker…”
Alec could feel his temper rising with every word that left Logan’s mouth, until he had to stand up. He zipped himself up and started to pace to try and work off the agitation and rage building inside him.
“What my uncle saw between me and him, what happened here – Alec, it wasn’t real!”
That would explain why Logan got so uncomfortable at the very mention of that bastard’s name. Coming to this place with another ‘Bling’ had obviously brought up some painful memories for Logan. Goddamnit! Alec wanted to shoot something, better yet fly to New York and shoot Bling.
“How long did he –?” he couldn’t complete the question.
“Couple months, maybe? As soon as I found something to hold over his head and secure my network, I kicked him out. Shouldn’t have let him have any power over me in the first place but, I don’t know, was in kind of a dark place back then.”
“I’m going to kill him,” he muttered under his breath, but Logan heard him loud and clear.
The older man looked away and put his glasses back on, then pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them. Alec was so busy pacing his anger off he didn’t notice Logan watching him carefully, hesitantly.
“Thank you,” he whispered, the words soft but carrying far enough to make Alec halt.
“For setting me free,” Logan replied. “I-I haven’t been with anyone since Bling and… I wasn’t sure I ever could again. I mean, I kind of wanted to, b-but I was scared… u-until you.”
Alec felt a sting behind his eyes but he brushed it aside and came to kneel before Logan once more. He hesitated for a second; then brought his hands up to Logan’s face. If the man wanted to pull away, now would be the time. Logan just leaned forward instead.
Alec kissed the man tenderly, not wanting to let him go ever again. But there was still one big question that needed an answer. “You still love Max though, right?”
He tried to make it sound as brave and nonchalant as he could, and failed miserably.
Logan smiled and brushed a couple strands of stray hair back from Alec’s face. “Part of me will always love her, but the truth is, Max and I… it’ll never work for the same reason that… that you and I will never work, McDowell.”
Alec frowned and pulled back to rest on his haunches. “What’s that?”
Logan sighed and looked down at his knees. He didn’t need to say anything else. Proud man like Logan, obviously he’d hate being treated like an invalid, least of all by the people closest to him.
Alec bit his lip and took a deep breath. “I know I don’t have a track record of being very trustworthy. But that was then, this is now. And you don’t have to make up your mind right away. Take your time if that’s what it takes for you to trust me. I will say this though, Logan – there are only two things you need to know about the man that I am now.”
Logan looked up at him curiously.
“First – every X5 has a dominant animal personality too, it’s not as obvious as Josh and Mole, but it’s there. So, like Max is feline – you might’ve noticed that, maybe,” he smirked a little sardonically to which Logan on purpose didn’t react at all, and Alec carried on. “Well, I’m sort of a… a wolf.”
He shrugged, even threw up his hands with flair, as if that should say it all. Too bad Logan didn’t catch on as fast as he’d hoped. Alec cleared his throat to try again.
“What I’m saying is… I never knew what family was, until Max burned Manticore down and set me free. And I spent a year on my own, trying to figure out who I was supposed to be without Manticore… and I was miserable, until I found you guys. You’re… all of you… you made me realize that I-I’m – the kind of guy who needs a pack to belong to. I need something, someone, to be forever loyal to. Like a family. And so you see, I’m not gonna just take off because I-I just can’t… I’m physically incapable… of… goddamnit. Do you… do you know what I’m saying?”
Somewhere in the middle of his rant, Logan had narrowed his eyes and now he was smiling softly. “You were eavesdropping on my conversation with Caleb, weren’t you?”
Alec bit his lip. “No.”
Logan chuckled and shook his head, but there was a light in his eyes that told Alec he understood, and hell, might even approve. “What’s the second?”
“What’s the other thing I need to know about you?”
“Oh, yeah…” Alec leaned in, close enough that he could whisper in Logan’s ear even though there was no danger of anyone overhearing them in this place. “The second thing you need to know, Logan Cale, is that I don’t care if you’re back in the wheelchair. I’m still gonna fuck you just as hard and just as long, no matter what.”
And that was about as ‘sentimental’ and honest as he could possibly get. But something told him, with Logan, it was going to be enough.
He felt the trembling return to his beautiful lover’s body, and smiled. Alec planted a quick kiss on Logan’s dumbfounded lips, the softness of it belying the intensity of his words. And then he stood up.
“We should head back. Or the suits might come looking for us.”
Alec turned away to get the wheelchair, using the brief moment to grin widely. He’d actually rendered the almighty Eyes Only completely speechless, not to mention weak in the knees.
Who woulda thought?
In the end, it always came down to the heart, didn’t it?
Bleeding heart, they called him. But Alec knew there was more to it than that. He might be the wolf, and Max might be the alpha cat in these parts, but Logan Cale had the heart of a lion. A heart that was genuinely fearless and majestic, and just good to a fault.
Alec didn’t understand how he could be so selfless and generous all the time. How could he have let Bling abuse him for months to protect Max and his contacts? Even now, sitting in that wheelchair was torture but he was doing it for the transgenics, for what he believed was the right thing to do. Hell, he’d shaved.
Alec didn’t think he’d love Logan any less if he didn’t do these things, and even wished he didn’t have to. At the same time, Alec knew he would love Logan all the more precisely because of it.
They spent the rest of the day lounging about. In the evening, they decided to escape for a bit again and visited the ruins of an old chapel that still stood on the other end of the endless property grounds. Where, surrounded by broken stained glass windows and a moss-covered altar, they may or may not have used the blanket and lube again. And Logan may or may not have pleaded mercy from a God he didn’t entirely believe in as Alec sucked his brains out through his dick.
Dinner was a reasonably pleasant affair. Caleb rambled on, sharing more of the Cales’ glorious family history. Once again it fell to Alec to act impressed and chat up the old man like he was genuinely interested in how the Cales discovered oil in Texas back in the early 1900s.
Logan just squirmed in his seat, probably getting sorer by the minute. It was hot – watching him squirm – so much that Alec had to take his jacket off and place it over his lap. It was also fucking hilarious. Alec grinned at him and Logan just glared, shooting daggers with his eyes.
“Logan? You asleep?” Alec whispered to the man spooned around him in bed later that night.
Logan sighed deeply and kissed the back of Alec’s head, “Not anymore. What’s up?”
Alec picked at the purposely frayed edges of the blanket. There was so much he wanted to say, but didn’t know how. He still didn’t quite know his place in Logan’s life, where it’d be once they returned to Terminal City. All he knew was… he wouldn’t be able to take it if, come morning, Logan went back to pretending like all of this hadn’t just happened.
“Uh, can I borrow a clean shirt for tomorrow?”
Logan snorted, and tightened his arms around Alec. “Sleep, Alec. I’ll be here in the morning, promise.”
Alec let out a short, embarrassed laugh, then closed his eyes and let himself be pulled under.
Logan kept his promise. Next morning he kissed the soldier awake, in ways more than one, then coyly turned to lie on his stomach and spread his legs for Alec. They showered together, taking longer than usual, and finally emerged from their bedroom just as Mrs. Nolan was getting ready to start hollering at them about breakfast.
“Oh Alec, you look so charming!” She exclaimed, taking in the silver turtleneck pullover and pressed blue jeans that fit him perfectly. They were Logan’s clothes – luckily the men were about the same size.
“Thank you, Mrs. Nolan,” Alec responded with a smile.
“You should let Logan dress you all the time! He does have great taste.”
Logan snorted and Alec pursed his lips sheepishly.
“Where is Uncle Caleb?” Logan asked as he rolled himself to the dining table at his usual spot.
“He had a few calls to make. Work never stops with him, you know, not even on a Sunday.”
By the time the old man emerged from his office, Alec and Logan were almost done. Alec noticed his heartbeat was a little elevated, but Logan beat him to the punch.
“Something wrong, Uncle?”
Caleb sighed and came over to sit beside Logan. He put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “I’m just a little sad that you will be leaving soon, son. I know you live in Seattle now, and you have a life there and everything. But damn, how I wish I could keep you here forever.”
Logan swallowed and looked a little uncomfortable. “I’m sorry. I know things have been… strained between us but, I’ll try and make up for it. Alec and I will visit you as much as we can.”
Alec nodded his agreement, pleased at how easily the words “Alec and I” came to Logan today.
An hour later, they were packed and loaded in their SUV, ready to bid farewell to Puget Sound, crazy old Uncle Caleb and his equally eccentric staff. Caleb hugged Logan warmly, and shook Alec’s hand. They gave Mrs. Nolan a kiss each and soon were on their way, a signed copy of the agreement and a big fat check in hand.
“Mission accomplished?” Alec dared to ask, fifteen minutes after they’d exited the last security checkpoint.
“Mission accomplished!!” Logan echoed loudly, and they high-fived each other.
“I should call Max, let her know we’re on our way back.”
He took his cellphone out and made the call. It was picked up after two rings, and even though Logan didn’t put it on speaker, Alec could hear Max on the other end clear as crystal.
“Hey, we got it.”
“Of course you did!” Max replied, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Why, did Caleb give you any trouble?”
Alec smirked and Logan hiked up his eyebrows in amusement. “I’ll fill you in on the details when we get there.”
“Okay. You sound different.”
Alec’s smile disappeared.
“What do you mean?”
A long, uncomfortable pause followed. “Nothing, I guess. I’m… happy for you, Logan.”
The two men looked at each other again.
“I-I mean, for getting the funds. So, I’ll… see you soon then?”
“Yep, on our way back now.”
Logan hung up soon after. An uncomfortable silence made the air inside the SUV hard to breathe in. Alec wondered what was going through the other man’s mind. Until a minute ago, Alec was sure he was on his way to become the cyber-hero’s dirty little secret. Now, after talking to Max, the idea seemed kind of… moot.
“Just so you know – I’m okay with whatever you decide.”
Alec bit his lip. “I meant what I said, before. Take all the time you need. Whatever you wanna do, I’m with you.”
It was several minutes before Logan replied. Even then his voice was barely a whisper, “Thanks.”
Alec looked sideways at him and nodded as reassuringly as he could. Logan did look anxious, and the last thing Alec wanted to do was add to it. He started to reach for Logan’s hand resting casually on the seat by his side.
He never made it.
They must have used a launcher of some kind because Alec didn’t see the spikes strewn in the middle of the road until it was too late. He braked and swerved simultaneously but knew it was a lost cause.
“Hang on!” He ordered and hoped Logan obeyed.
Alec lost control and for a few harrowing seconds the SUV tilted to the right until it was careening on just two tires, on its way to crash into a nearby tree. In the split-second before full impact, he reached down to his boot and pulled out the knife he was going to need seconds later. The collision finally brought the car to a full stop, thrown over on its side with Alec suspended on top, Logan’s side resting on the ground.
Then the air bags engaged.
“Logan!” Alec screamed, not being able to see his partner through the bags, not hearing a peep.
He used the knife to slash through the air bags, both his and Logan’s… and only then did he notice that Logan had been knocked unconscious.
“Logan? Talk to me, buddy… Logan!” Alec whispered in escalating panic, not just because he was worried how hard Logan might have hit his head but also because he’d noticed the flurry of activity behind the trees on the side of the road. Things were about to get much, much worse. He started to reach for the gun tucked behind in his jeans.
“HANDS IN THE AIR!!!”
There were about a dozen of them – outfitted in SWAT gear like the team of super-bred freaks back at Jam Pony a few days ago. A cold tremor crawled up his spine at the memories. If these were Familiars, then he and Logan did not stand a chance against them.
“Take it easy, we’re not going anywhere, even if we wanted to…”
Before he could finish, a bunch of them assembled around the SUV and pushed it back upright on all four wheels. Alec winced at the impact; the men now had direct access to Logan as well. That could be both good and bad.
“Out of the car,” the one who looked like the ring leader ordered. “Drop your weapon out of the window, NOW!”
Alec did as he was told, pausing to safety his weapon before letting it drop. Satisfied, two SWAT guys began to approach him to take him in custody. He didn’t have time to strategize, he needed to act now.
Suddenly he exploded into action, swatting away his car door like a bug until it flew off and landed twenty feet away, carrying a gun-toting SWAT man away with it. Before another could open fire, Alec threw his entire body weight at him, knocking him unconscious. He fought every man that came within combat-range, evaded at least nine different bullets flying his way.
It could only have been a few minutes, but to Alec the fight felt like it stretched on for hours. Especially because he didn’t know how Logan was, if he was even alive or… no, the thought threatened to stop him close in his tracks. He couldn’t go there, not right now.
But that split-second of worried distraction was all the four men standing needed. Alec had snatched and disabled all the guns, but he didn’t notice the high-powered tazer one of them was carrying. Two million volts hit him squarely in the chest, forcing him down on his knees, temporarily paralyzed by the electricity scorching through his nerves.
“Stay down or I will blow your brains out! And your boyfriend’s too!”
Alec desperately gasped for breath but slowly raised his hands over his head. He looked up into the face of the masked man, and squinted coldly. “No, you won’t.”
They were human, and government, that much was clear by now, which meant they would have orders to capture the transgenic alive. They must have been tipped off to the presence of a genuine X5 in Puget Sound, of all places, and had come to collect.
Alec had a feeling he already knew who the tipster was.
“Logan?” Alec struggled through the haze of pain and the ringing in his ears to turn towards the totaled car. Two men towered over the unconscious man hanging half out of the wreckage.
A black Hummer drove up to them then, and out jumped a familiar face – Caleb Cale.
“How’s my nephew? Is he hurt?” Caleb shrieked.
Alec resolved to kill the hypocritical bastard next chance he got.
The ring leader walked up to Alec, looking mighty pleased with himself. “X5-494. The Department of Defense will be very happy to see you.”
Alec ignored the guy and glared at Caleb instead. “How’d you know?”
Caleb scoffed self-righteously. “You shouldn’t have taken off your jacket at dinner last night. My cameras caught a glimpse of your bar code. I ran face recognition on you all night and found a match this morning. Not only are you a freak, you’re a psychotic serial killer, wanted for murder in twelve states!”
Alec rolled his eyes. “Wrong, asshole. That was another freak. Actually, funny story, I’m a genetic clone!”
The look on Caleb’s face was one he’d remember with immense satisfaction for the rest of his life. But he quickly forgot it for the moment when two men lifted Logan out of the wrecked SUV and carried him towards the Humvee.
“Is he okay?” Alec asked no one in particular.
Caleb rushed to his nephew’s side. “He’ll live, no thanks to you.”
“No thanks to me? You poisoned him! You flipped his goddamn car, you fucking madman!”
And it occurred to him then how he could buy himself some time to let the paralysis wear off. “Hey, DoD guy! I’ll come with you willingly man, but you gotta promise me you won’t let this lunatic take my friend. Besides, y-you do know who that is, don’t you?”
DoD guy hesitated for a second and Alec realized he had absolutely no idea, but now his curiosity was piqued. Alec opened his mouth and then closed it abruptly, as if he’d spoken too much and was now regretting it.
“Uh, never mind, forget I said anything,” he scrunched up his nose for effect and added a flash of his patented smart-assed smile, just in case.
The DoD guy was now visibly considering reneging on whatever deal he’d made with Caleb, and Caleb saw it too. “No, wait a minute, Kaminsky. You promised me you will not touch my nephew. He’s an innocent in all of this. These monsters are obviously manipulating him somehow!”
Alec smirked, even though it hurt to do so, as the agent got sucked into a long-winded conversation with the very verbose Caleb Cale.
“Enough of this!” Kaminsky finally shut Caleb down and gestured to his men. “Restrain the asset, now!”
Alec sighed in resignation and lowered his head. To think that this mission was supposed to be an easy one… all he had to do was keep Logan safe. That was all…
The hair on the back of his neck tingled, and instinctively Alec knew that hope was not lost yet. He looked up surreptitiously from under his eyelashes and found a pair of steel grey eyes slid open ever so slightly, fixed right at him. Logan was laid out on a backseat in the Humvee with only one man left to guard him.
He winked, to which Alec nodded and braced himself. The moment two SWATs reached down for Alec, Logan sat up, head-butted the man leaning over him and grabbed his gun. Then he took aim and fired.
Alec followed with his enhanced senses the bullet’s trajectory as if in slow motion. And he knew exactly which way to duck to let the missile embed itself in one of his attackers’ shoulders. Before anyone realized what was happening, Logan fired again. This time was even easier. All Alec had to do was elbow the second attacker holding his wrists and slide out of the way. Logan shot the guy squarely in his chest – the bullet catching in the Kevlar so it wouldn’t kill but the point-blank range impact was enough to drop him like a sack of meat.
Logan jumped out of the vehicle on his own two feet, and suddenly yelled at Alec. “Look out!”
Alec turned just in time to avoid another hit of the tazer from Kaminsky. Now fully recovered (or fully rejuvenated seeing Logan okay), the X5 had no problem getting him with his own weapon. Minutes later, all public and private sector assailants lay scattered on the ground, some unconscious, others writhing in too much pain to be any use. Only three remained standing – the X5, the cyber-journalist, and crazy old Uncle Caleb, who was livid. The glint in his eyes intensified as he trained his own gun at Alec’s head.
“Drop it!” Logan commanded, holding a gun of his own as he strode past Caleb to stand next to Alec.
Alec slid closer to his lover, a smug expression on his face. “My hero,” he drawled, loud enough for Caleb to hear.
Caleb stared at Logan for the longest time. “You… you’re…”
“Yes, I can walk, Uncle. I lied.”
“But how –?”
Logan shrugged indifferently. “Manticore stuff. You don’t wanna know.”
All the blood drained out of the octogenarian’s face at the cursed name. His nostrils flared and he wheezed for a couple seconds, the gun in his hand shaking as he tried to aim it at Alec again.
“I-Is that why you’re helping this freak, LJ? You’re stealing from your own family just so you can be one of them!?!”
Logan moved to stand in front of Alec, shielding him with his own body. “This freak is my family. They all are, like you never were, like you never will be.”
He pulled the check out from the inside of his jacket pocket and flung it in Caleb’s face.
“I’m done whoring myself,” he rasped painfully. “Not for you, not for Bling, not for anyone.”
The X5 put a hand on Logan’s trembling shoulder and squeezed, feeling his slender frame sway a little. A nasty gash on his right temple was still bleeding, and his right spectacle lens was cracked in three places.
“Let’s go, Logan,” Alec whispered. “Let me take you home.”
They took the Hummer, and left Caleb Cale standing alone and embittered in the middle of the road. Logan watched his uncle get smaller and smaller until he was but a speck of dust on the side-view mirror.
“That was one hell of a check you tore up.” Alec commented after a few minutes.
“Yeah well,” Logan shrugged. “It’s only money. We’ll figure something else out.” But before Alec could make a suggestion Logan knew he wouldn’t like, he raised a finger and shut him up. “Something legit.”
Alec rolled his eyes, and tried to let it go. But he didn’t succeed. “I am so sorry, Logan. You went through all of that for nothing.”
“Well, I wouldn’t call the trip a complete loss.”
Alec turned towards his companion and caught Logan smiling right back at him. The look on his face spoke volumes, more than the big strong brave-hearted vigilante would ever be able to say with words.
His left hand rested on the seat beside him, long, slender digits and pale white knuckles with fresh red bruises around a couple of them. Alec chuckled bitterly, wanting to reach out for that hand but turning away to concentrate on the road instead.
Logan frowned at him curiously. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I just…”
Alec licked his lips, struggling to find the words. “It’s just… I’ve never seen you not bruised, Logan. Not once since I met you. Just when I start to believe you’re safe, that we are safe, something goes wrong. Is it always going to be like this? Are we always gonna be fighting for our lives, our right to exist? No, wait – don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.”
The cyber-hero chuckled and then sighed deeply, like he didn’t have a clue what to say anyway. But a second later, he gave Alec all the response he would ever need.
Logan put his hand over Alec’s on the gear stick between them, stroking and caressing the equally long fingers gently. Alec smiled; then turned his hand over so they could entwine their fingers.
The human vigilante and the transgenic soldier held on to each other all the way back to Terminal City.
*** END ***
A/N: Please let me know what you think!