The sign at the single pump proclaims Last Chance with a hangman's certainty. A dull clank sounds from the bell above the door as the screen creaks open. Tiny puffs of dirt rise up to settle on Logan's boots. His eyes are flat, black as staring down the barrel of a gun.
"Going my way?" Tony asks, crossing his ankles and knocking his shades down a notch.
Logan's lip peels back. "No."
"Funny, 'cause I'm going yours. You dropped off the radar, Logan," Tony says, cutting through the growl pushing up the back of Logan's throat. Shutting up isn't the first thing he thinks about anymore when Logan starts snarling at him. "People die when that happens. Lots of them."
"Only fixin' on one this time. Move."
"Sure." Nudging his shades back into place, Tony slaps a hand on the tank of Logan's bike and slides a leg over, settling onto the bitch seat with an eyebrow cocked. "How's that work for you?"
Miles of speeding along twisting asphalt and no helmet leave Tony's hair a tangled mess. Near sundown Logan turns in to the dusty lot of an abandoned roadside motel. The desert stretches out in a long craggy line behind it, bleak as the bottom of a bottle dotted with scraggy patches of scrub brush, an anorexic moon and not much else. Broken windows gape like blank eyesockets. The door to the office clings to its hinges, the tattered screen twitching in the dirt. Logan tilts his face to the cool wind tumbling down off the mountains.
"I hope you're about to tell me it looked better on the brochure," Tony says.
With a grunt, Logan swings off the bike and disappears into the black. A chill sweeps in to take his place against Tony's chest, wriggling clever frozen fingers under his shirt to send a shiver prickling along his skin. Glancing at the nothing pressing in on all sides, Tony nabs his duffle off the back and follows.
Inside smells of musty wood and ash. He waits for his eyes to adjust before moving too far from the door, straining for the heavy tread of Logan's boots on the bare wood. A thin sliver of the last of the day's light stretches in through one of the boarded-up windows in the hall, flickering over his hands in red-gold stripes as he moves through it. He finds Logan in the third room down, as dusty and dim as the rest. The dark outline of a seven lingers on the door like a ghost.
"Here and gone," Logan says, crouched over a handful of candle stubs stuck in a melted puddle of wax. "Couple days at least."
Logan looks good out here with his scarred boots and low-slung jeans, road dirt filling in all his rough edges, smoothing him down to something warm and solid like a rock baked in the sun. Tony wants to know what he tastes like out here, if he's sharp as the whiskey he sometimes drinks or gritty like the wind, last-chance bittersweet.
Wan light glints off the snap of his lighter, candle flames guttering before catching and burning steady, bright in the blacks of Logan's eyes. "I can smell what you're thinkin'."
"If you're going to make me sleep in this hovel, consider it the least you can do," Tony says, dropping the bag and giving it a kick inside the room. It won't change a thing, but he wants his hands free for this.
Teeth show in Logan's smile. "Don't remember inviting you."
"But you didn't stop me."
Logan straightens up without a sound. The air goes slowly thick, clinging to the insides of Tony's lungs. This guy that Logan's after, the chase is driving him too far out. He's one wrong choice from leaving the person he carved out of a past piled with corpses sprawled in the dirt by the highway.
"You didn't stop me, Logan," he repeats.
The flare of Logan's nostrils as he scents the air drives a shivering spike up through Tony's gut. This has been on his mind for too long now. He's gotten glimpses of it, flashes like shards of a broken mirror, jagged and fascinating, a strip-tease where it's Logan's control he's watching slip through the fingers of a clenched fist. It looks a lot like the glint of fresh ice tumbled into a glass for one last drink.
"Take the bed if ya want it," Logan says, kicking a chair with its upholstery ripped up the back around. He sinks into it and drops his heels on the footboard, chin dipped towards his chest. His hat tips low over his eyes.
Disappointment tastes stale on Tony's tongue. He gives the musty bed a long look. "Wonderful."
Morning dawns bright and hot. Bare floorboards creak as Tony rolls stiffly onto his back, the dust kicked up from the cracks in the wood still hanging in the air when a hand clamps around his throat. He sucks in quick breath and throws an arm up, but instead of a crack across the jaw he gets a fist pressed tight into his gut. A warning snarl trickles from the shadow crouched above him and he drops his hand. "Morning, sweetheart."
Logan leans down into the shade behind the bed and sniffs the air above his face. A little more and whiskers tickle his cheek. He holds his breath as Logan's pushes hot against his ear. "You sleep in the bed?"
Fingers twitch against Tony's throat as he swallows. "No."
"You smell different," Logan says, the words softly stirring his hair. Blunt knuckles dig harder into his belly. His insides do a strange little dance anticipating the slice of body-warm steel through flesh.
"Blanket," Tony grits out, tugging on Logan's wrist, "under my coat."
Logan rocks back onto his heels with a grunt. He flexes his fingers, a small ripple beneath the skin giving away how close he was to patenting a Stark pincushion. Tony elbows the makeshift pillow aside and drops flat onto the floor, arms flung out as his crippled heart eases back down into his chest where it belongs. "I'd hate to see what you'd have done if I woke up in that bed."
"Wouldn't've woken up," Logan says, apparently comfortable enough straddling Tony's thighs, arms folded across his chest. His gaze hops from the bed to the burnt out candles. "Didn't smell him last night. Your fault."
Tucking an arm beneath his head, Tony says, "If you'd taken me up on my offer, I'd smell like you right now."
"That all you think about?"
"So says the guy in my lap."
"Christ," Logan rumbles. "You gonna leave me the fuck alone if I stick you?"
"You know I love it when you talk dirty to me."
A scowl creases Logan's brow. He uncrosses his arms, his hands curling into fists on his thighs, sitting at the perfect angle to punch six neat little holes into Tony's sides. "You're not so slow you think you're gonna stop me."
"The thought might've crossed my mind."
Logan's mouth slips into a slant a few miles shy of a smile. "You're not that good a lay."
"Oh yes I am."
The corner of Logan's mouth hitches a little higher. He flows up onto his feet, soundless. "Gotta take a leak."
"Give it up, Logan," Tony says, stopping Logan in his tracks. "Nothing ever comes of it."
"You find that out at the bottom of a bottle?" Logan asks, and when Tony doesn't answer, he grunts, "Thought so."
Staring at the pockmarked ceiling, Tony wonders what the hell he thinks he's doing.
The sun beats down on Tony's shoulders. The scrap of shade he found hunkered down between a rock and the bike is long gone and a tiny pinprick of black perched on the edge of a cliff in the endless stretch of brown is all that's left of Logan. Not much point in lying to himself out here: he knows exactly what he thinks he's doing, but it's not going that way. Working up a bit of spit, he says, "Jarvis." Sand crunches in his teeth.
"I'm afraid not, sir."
Dropping his head back, he lets his eyes slide shut. "Try oscillating at a different rate." Thin silvers of blood red blaze through his eyelids above the slip of his sunglasses. "A hundred billion dollars of tech and none of it's worth a fucking penny."
Wisely, Jarvis doesn't say a word.
An hour later the crunch of gravel brings with it the cool fall of Logan's shadow. The iron tang of fresh blood rouses Tony from the heat-heavy doze he'd succumbed to, his eyes gummy and his mouth dry. He coughs dust out of his throat. "Find him?"
"Found lunch," Logan grunts, dropping a skinned jackrabbit onto the boulder.
Tony watches him gather an armful of crackling leaves and twigs into a shallow dip in the dirt a good dozen feet off. "You really know how to show a guy a good time."
"I was thinkin' about leavin' you there," Logan says, big hands coaxing a tiny tongue of flame to life, "but figured you wouldn't get the hint."
"Oh, I got it." Hooking one of the saddlebags closer, Tony digs out a canteen. They're going to need to find fresh water soon. Three months in a desert hadn't taught him much about how to survive in one when the most he'd seen were the same blank cave walls and one panicked blur of sun-washed brown. "Lucky for you, I don't give up that easily."
Logan snorts a laugh and skins the brittle bark off a branch, whittling it down to the tender wood. Tony's carved a hole through his own chest and welded metal to his naked ribs, but that rabbit's macabre dance above the flames as Logan wriggles it onto the spit says more about his own mortality than the poisoned heart limping along in his chest. It gives a hard thump at the thought, and Logan's gaze flickers up, quick like catching the dart of a deer between the trees.
The back of Tony's neck prickles. "What're you going to do when you find him?"
"What d'ya think I'm gonna do?" Logan counters, sticking out his cupped hands for a splash of water.
Tony's gaze slides to the spitted rabbit. The flash of Logan's teeth isn't a no, but it isn't quite a yes, either. A cool shiver creeps under his skin, tightens up his belly. He'd be safer sleeping with a loaded gun, finger on the trigger, than playing this game with Logan. "Give me a kiss," he says. "Maybe I'll shut up."
"Didn't work last time."
"Fun trying though."
Logan's hand comes up, shining wet in the firelight. Fingers curl under his chin to tilt his face up, warm and rough, strong enough to crush his bones, but Logan's thumb is light on the edge of his lip. He grins, cocks his head to the side and waits. He knows Logan can hear the rush of blood beneath his skin, knows it's driving his scent into the air from the subtle twitch of Logan's facial muscles. He makes for the world's worst prey. That jackrabbit didn't jump up and beg Logan to bite it.
"Look at that," Logan says, eyes shimmering in the sun.
Tony squints at the horizon. "How far off is he?"
Perched on a pile of shale crooked as broken teeth, Logan looks to the waning light. "'Bout ten miles."
"Tell me you realise how insane this is. It's not the fucking OK Corral out here. Even I've got better shit to do with my time."
"Jesus Christ." Slumping against a rock, Tony scrubs gritty hands over his face. His mouth is burning and the water's not helping. "Do you even know why anymore, or are you just that bored?"
Logan swings down off the rocks to land with a quiet thump in the dirt. "Stay here."
Not for the first time, Tony wonders if Logan can smell it on him through the stink of booze-soaked desperation. He'd be worse than useless in a fight. Naked and vulnerable, human or less than without layers of metal between him and the world. His chest aches all the time now, in the suit or not, and that urge slinking through Logan's blood isn't interested in something not worth the chase. "Why didn't you stop me?"
Logan doesn't turn around this time, doesn't stop. "Same reason you're not gonna stop me now."
There's a flask of Johnnie Walker in the pack Logan left behind. For the first hour, Tony just holds it. By the second, it's gone. Before the sun slips into the third, Logan's come prowling back, blood in his teeth and hell in his eyes.
Tony aims a smile up at him. "Now you want to fuck me."
Logan's growl at the offer of his throat wraps up warm around the alcohol buzzing through his veins. He slumps down lower against the heat-soaked rock, head as hazy as the sky, his pulse kicking up a notch for every step closer Logan takes until his heart's thundering against his ribs and Logan is on his knees between the spread of his thighs. One wide hand, streaked rusty red and caked with dirt, thumps to the rock beside his head. The other seizes his chin, forces it up to keep his throat exposed. Logan's short snuffling breaths cool the sweat beaded in the hollow. "You don't smell worried this time," he says.
"You got what you wanted," Tony says, groping blind for the buckle of Logan's belt. He finds the leather torn through, barely hanging on through the loops, and yanks it free. "My turn now."
He chokes on a breath as Logan's hand goes tight on his throat. One good heave has him sprawled on his belly in the dirt, Logan's teeth clamping down on his neck to keep him there. Grit digs into his elbows as he pushes up into it, scrambling to get his knees under him in time for the shove of Logan's hand down the back of his jeans. The button pops and the zip wrenches open with one hard tug, metal teeth grating over his knuckles, splitting skin.
Logan's jaw slowly unclenches. "This all you wanted, a hard fuck in the dirt?' The flat of his hand drags down to press hard to the quiver in Tony's belly. He noses at the hair curled damply above Tony's ear. "Fight me some, Tony. I like you better when you're squirmin."
Flashfire heat sweeps up from Tony's stomach and leaves his insides brittle ashy twigs. He twists up and back, straining to catch the hem of his shirt and yank it off over his head. Whiskers scratch down his spine in kisses made of chapped lips and scraping teeth. The whole damn desert swims.
"Tell ya what you do smell like," Logan says, rough knuckles scraping the curve of Tony's ass as he curls both hands into the back of his jeans and hauls them down so fast he skids through the dirt, knees knocked out from under him. "Somethin' desperate. Sure my dick's what ya want me to stick you with?"
Rolling halfway onto his side, Tony looks out over the brown nothing to the figure hunched on a cliff in front of the setting sun. "Same question."
Logan slaps him onto his back, a parade of rocks marching new bruises across his spine. The grate of knuckles against his cheekbone forces his head to the side. He meets Logan's gaze from the corners of his eyes and bares his teeth in something like a smile. "Usually I'd like a finger or two," he says, spitting dust, "but since you're wearing half the godforsaken desert, I'll take some spit, your cock, and call it a day."
Face twisted in a soundless snarl, Logan drives his face harder into the dirt for a split-second before letting up entirely. "Back on your knees," he growls, and jerks his chin at the boulder. "There."
"Fucking finally," Tony says, wiping his face off on his arm as he shuffles over. It doesn't help much. Giving up on any attempt to get rid of the dirt clinging to him until the next shower pops up on the horizon, he slaps both hands to the rock and spreads his legs as wide as they'll go with his jeans caught around his knees. The sound of Logan's zip tugged open ratchets up his spine. He bows his head, braced for the gritty push, eager for it like that first smooth burn of scotch down his throat.
Instead it's Logan's tongue dragging roughly up his spine, whiskers scratching at his skin and the catch of teeth on bone. He sucks in a hissing breath and Logan's up, a hand slapped between his shoulder blades to keep him down before he can move an inch. "Stay down."
Tony's gaze travels back up to the cliff. He got from the start that this was a show, but he'd been wrong about what kind. "You're gonna need more than that if you want to make me howl." He hears Logan spit twice before saliva hits skin. One thick finger pushes roughly up through it and into him straight to the knuckle, easy as one of those claws through flesh, and he aims a grin back over his shoulder at Logan's surprised grunt. "I think I said a couple."
"Said none," Logan says, but a second follows, slicked with spit. His mouth drags across Tony's back, lips almost as rough as his whiskers, lighting nerves on fire with a twist of his fingers and a flick of his tongue. "There some reason you're lookin' for hurt?"
"Do we really need the heart to heart before you fuck me? Because while I'm all for pillow talk, I like mine trashy. Kinda like that cowboy hat of yours."
Logan's teeth graze his ear. "I know what you're aiming to do here," is a hot slither against the back of his neck.
"Clearly not, since you still haven't-- Jesus fucking Christ, yes." Bracing his forearm against the rock, Tony reaches back, slides his fingers along Logan's cock up to where the head is nestled snugly against his hole. "All of it, c'mon. You can't break me any worse, Logan, you know it, come the fuck on."
The harsh sound of Logan spitting again, then the bright blaze of red on the backs of his eyelids that has nothing to do with the setting sun wrenches a low noise straight up from the pit of Tony's gut. He lets another spill free as he squirms back onto Logan's cock, fingers digging into the dirt when the steady push in becomes a sluggish drag out. Hot desert air burns the back of his throat, sweet anticipation coiling his insides up tight as Logan slicks him up a little more and shoves right back in.
Logan sucks in a breath like he means to say something more, but Tony's had enough soul-searching bullshit for one day. There's one thing Logan can always be counted on to do, and Tony rolls to the side, just enough time to kick free of his boots and jeans and toss off a saucy wink before Logan's on him again, shoving his knees up and sliding home smooth as a gear slipping into place. He moans his shameless approval, body clamped down tight to really get a feel for Logan's dick splitting him wide.
Sunset flashes white hot in the darkness of Logan's eyes. His lips peel back in a territorial snarl, almost as much of a thrill as his hands digging bruises into Tony's flesh as he holds him down and fucks like he's the one who's been waiting the better part of a week for this to happen. Grit scores Tony's back as he kicks one of his legs free, hitching it up over Logan's shoulder. His nails dig brief crescent moons into the meat of Logan's arm.
A groan rips free from the tight clench of Logan's teeth. He drives in harder, forcing the breath from Tony's lungs on a sharp gasp. His hands drag down to hook on the jut of Tony's hipbones, thick fingers curling around to dig in above Tony's kidneys and haul him straight onto Logan's dick, not style to it at all, no care for anything except getting off.
Grabbing up a fistful of Logan's hair, Tony yanks his head down and falls about a mile short of the kiss he's been wanting since the last time he managed to crawl deep enough under Logan's skin to get a fuck out of him. The best he gets this time around is another thin-lipped not-smile and a promise from the banked rage in Logan's eyes that if he doesn't let the hell up right now, he's going to get a mouthful of dirt for his trouble. But if he liked to play it smart, or even safe, he wouldn't already be drowning on dry land, so he offers up a crooked grin as an excuse and says, "Worried I'm gonna suck the taste of him off your tongue?"
Logan's answer is a wordless snarl. The flat of one hand slams into the dirt beside Tony's head, the other clamping tight to Tony's ankle and shoving it up, bending him close to double beneath too much of Logan's weight. The ache in his chest flares up and spreads out in a slow molten burn, blurring his vision and eating up all the air in his lungs. His fingers scrabble through the sweat slicking Logan's skin, nothing more than a man's desperate reaction to what feels like dying.
Something like words rumble in Tony's ear. He turns his head to find the scratch of Logan's whiskers against his open mouth and keeps going until he finds the softer give of Logan's lips, the wet heat of his tongue. It's awkward and messy, not a real kiss at all when Logan won't quit, but it's something other than his flagging heart to focus on, enough to bring him around in time to watch Logan rear back, face twisted up and honestly vulnerable for a few rare seconds as orgasm takes over. He gets a hand on his own cock while it happens, usually smooth strokes hitched and ragged. It's enough to get the job done though, and he misses the moment before Logan shakes it off to drop back down, nuzzle up under his neck to find and fit teeth to the raw mark throbbing in time to his pulse. The haze is barely hanging on when Logan digs in harder, worries at flesh like he means for it to scar.
It takes a long handful of seconds before Tony gets the breath to wheeze, "Ease up, Cujo," and another few dozen more before Logan lets go, runs his tongue over his teeth and turns to spit watery red-grey blood into the dirt. Tony stares at it for a long moment, Logan's gaze on him almost as heavy as the adamantium grafted to his bones, and when a hand clamps to his jaw to turn his eyes forward, for once he's got nothing to say.
"Only the good die young," Logan says, rough all around the edges. "Some of us just ain't that fuckin' lucky."
One of those half-smiles Logan's so fond of finds its way onto Tony's mouth. Ruined blood trickles warmly down his neck. "Sweetest thing you've said all week."