Logan finished checking over the comms equipment quickly. After so many years scrounging parts, he knew what he was looking for, and Kent had delivered: no corrosion, no missing parts, tested out fine. He headed back to the small office where Alec was waiting for his say-so to pay.
He couldn't hear exactly what Alec said, but the note of protest was clear, so he hurried, only to be brought short in front of the door by Kent's chuckle. "They said you were friendly."
"I'm friendly to my friends," Alec said, and he wasn't angry any more. He sounded—almost inviting. All Logan could see through the frosted glass was two outlines, only a couple of feet apart. Not really thinking about why, he pressed himself back against the wall so that they wouldn't be able to see him while he listened in the darkened hallway.
"Yeah? What does it take to be your friend?" Kent's arm reached out, his hand somewhere in the vicinity of Alec's chest.
"Throw in a case of those antibiotics I saw sitting out front," Alec said. He sounded completely relaxed, near to bored.
Kent chuffed. "You're an expensive friend."
Alec did something that involved bringing Kent's hand to his face. Kent made a soft sound. "But I'm very, very good at it." Something twisted in Logan's stomach. He should interrupt. Max would want him to interrupt, and Alec would—
Then Alec would know that Logan had heard.
Kent got over his indecision first and pulled away. "What the hell. You only live once, right?"
Alec nodded. "So I've been told. Just let me get rid of Logan."
"He your friend too?" Kent's tone was mocking.
"Logan?" Alec asked, and there was an echo of Kent's dismissal in his own voice. "He's just a guy."
Logan figured that was his cue to step forward and knock. "It's all there," he told Alec, unable to look directly at Kent.
"Great," Alec said. "We'll load up the van, and then I've got some stuff to talk about with Kent here."
Logan knew how he was supposed to react to that. He was only a couple of seconds slow, not enough that Alec should notice. "Another side business, Alec? You know Max's not going to be happy—" Jesus, Max.
Alec grinned, wide and fake. "And if Max was the boss of me, I might care."
Before, Logan would've pushed it, nagged Alec towards doing the right thing, putting all his effort towards looking after the residents of Terminal City instead of lining his own pockets. Now, he had to wonder how many of Alec's schemes had really been schemes at all. Logan was no prude. He knew everybody needed to pay the rent. But the way Kent was watching Alec, just standing next to him, too close, like he had the right—
He turned away before he could say anything too offensive. They needed the equipment, and God only knew they needed the antibiotics too.
Logan couldn't stop thinking about it, long after they'd unloaded the supplies and long after Alec had returned to Terminal City, looking as untroubled as ever.
Logan could've done it himself, at least he thought he could've, if it had come down to that. If he'd absolutely needed to.
And it wasn't like the X5s weren't trained for that. Max and her cohort had escaped before any such demands had been placed on them, small favors, but they all knew Alec hadn't, even if Alec didn't talk about himself. The X5s were beautiful and brainwashed into obedience; Logan could only imagine what advantage had been taken. Negotiating a price might've seemed a step up.
He didn't even think that Alec was putting Max in any danger, even assuming X5s were vulnerable to STDs. Whatever rebound they'd had after she'd broken up with Logan didn't seem to have gone very far. As far as Logan could tell, Max was putting relationships of every kind on hold while she tried to establish TC as a viable commune, or whatever you called a quasi-democracy run by transgenics. Yes, he probably needed to talk to Alec, warn him that he couldn't ever be with Max as long as he was selling himself elsewhere, but Logan was not ready to be the guy who had that conversation.
It was just that Logan couldn't shake the image of Kent's hand touching Alec, proprietary.
"Logan, man," Alec said, catching his arm. "Can I talk to you?"
Logan stiffened but didn't pull away, allowing Alec to let go on his own when Logan turned to face him. "Sure," he said, pleasant, only as much tension as you'd expect with the guy who moved in on your girl because you couldn't be with her. Just because it had been over a week since he'd managed to speak to Alec didn't mean there was anything out of the ordinary.
Alec dragged them to an empty room—it contained some of the equipment they'd bought off of Kent, Logan noted—and closed the door. Then Alec stepped back and rubbed the back of his neck where the bar code was, suddenly awkward.
"What is it?" Logan asked. He sounded angry in his own ears.
"Did I—whatever it is, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't—" Alec floundered, looking as young as he was.
Logan folded his arms over his chest and sighed. "You don't have anything to apologize for. I'm just—dealing with some stuff."
Alec nodded, not as if he believed Logan. "Okay. If there's anything I can do—I guess, you know, I'd like us to be friends."
Logan couldn't stop his incredulous laugh.
"What?" Alec actually had the gall to look offended.
"Really?" Logan shook his head. "You want to be my friend."
Comprehension dawned on Alec's face. "Listen, about Max—"
Apparently Logan wasn't as over the whole thing as he'd thought, because he was up in Alec's face, shoving him back. "You think Max likes you having friends?"
Alec had his hands up, Mr. Nice X5, but his frown suggested that he was going to start getting physical right back in a moment. "Why would she even—?" And then he stopped. This time the comprehension was a little more cynical. "You heard Kent."
Logan was silent.
After a long, strained moment, Alec dropped his eyes and stepped back. "Max and me, we're not like that."
"I know," Logan said, because right then, he did: Alec wouldn't lie about that, and it confirmed what he'd observed. "But do you think she'd want you doing this?"
Alec shrugged, rolled his neck on his shoulders. "I think she likes eating. Anyway, it's not important."
"It is," Logan insisted. "You have to be careful."
Alec raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm immune to the nasty stuff, and believe me what I do isn't gonna be making any little hybrid babies, so you don't need to worry."
Logan shook his head. "Alec. You have to be careful about what it can do to your head."
Alec's face went through several contortions, landing on an incredulous grin. "I graduated Manticore. I killed people on command. I seduced—" He cut himself off, no longer anywhere near smiling.
"Yeah," Logan said. Max had given him more than enough detail about that episode, and about how Alec must have been reeducated to regret his mistaken attempt at humanity. "That's my point. Sharing your body with another person—it can mess with you."
Alec's face had taken on that mulish cast Logan associated with Max and her deliberate amorality, back in the beginning. "Maybe if you're normal. But I'm not and I might as well take advantage, right?"
"You're not so different," Logan told him.
"Really?" Alec hesitated, like he was about to give up on discussion and storm out. "Why don't you find out for yourself?" He dropped to his knees and reached for Logan's belt.
Okay, misread that one, Logan thought distantly as he flailed backwards, nearly knocking over a crate.
Alec's hands settled on his hips, steadying him as he backed into a wall. Alec's breath was hot and wet through the layers of fabric covering his dick. Logan would have had more success trying to hold off a bear.
"Wait!" Logan gasped, even though the sensation was a lot better than anything else he'd felt in recent memory.
Alec gazed up at him, mouth parted, lower lip shiny. The bastard knew how he looked, and he knew Logan was noticing.
"Listen," Logan gulped, breathing harder than he wanted to be. "I don't want you to try to prove anything to me."
Alec's face betrayed the tiniest flicker of uncertainty. "You've got to want something."
And maybe this was just Alec playing the jaded mercenary, but Logan couldn't plausibly deny that the whole gorgeous, reluctant hero thing did it for him. "I," he said and swallowed. "I only want it if you want it too. For yourself."
He might as well have been speaking Latin for all the comprehension on Alec's face. This was almost certainly a terrible idea.
"I like sex," Alec said, perking up as if he'd come up with an unbeatable argument. "You're hot, and you're not taken, so why not?"
And maybe that was enough. Logan's dick certainly found it persuasive.
He banged the back of his head against the wall. No, that didn't make the idea seem any smarter, but he was still apparently going to do it. "I need someplace to lie down," he admitted, because as inspiring as he found Alec's position, mouth inches from Logan's dick, the exoskeleton complicated matters.
Alec looked thoughtful. "My place is closer."
Which was how Logan found himself stripping in Alec's crash pad, an old utility closet dominated by the stereo/TV combination, nearly as large as the bed. Alec had a couple of changes of clothes piled on the stereo, a few books whose titles Logan couldn't see, and a straight razor; that and the shotgun in the corner seemed to be the sum total of his possessions.
They had about six inches of free space to work with, and Logan gave up early and let Alec tug his shirts off. He was weirdly hesitant to let Alec see his legs, still too scrawny despite his attempts to be consistent with the PT. The exoskeleton had left him with strange calluses.
"Once I get these off," he warned, "I won't really be able to move my legs."
Alec touched the black metal consideringly. "Not a problem. Any parts I need to avoid?"
Logan shook his head. The requirement of careful negotiation was part of why he'd avoided ... well, anything, even once it had become clear that Max was a missed opportunity. But Alec already knew him, and wasn't going to be any less impressed once the reality of Logan's situation had been made concrete to him.
When both of them were naked, Logan ended up in the center of the bed, Alec with his knees bracketing Logan's hips as he ran his hands over Logan's chest and arms. "Nice," he commented, fondling Logan's bicep.
"Thanks," Logan said. "I work out."
Alec snorted. He wasn't filled out all the way into his frame yet, but with his shirt off Logan could see the strength there. His uncircumcised dick bumped against Logan's thigh as he leaned down to bite at Logan's chest.
Alec stroked his hands down Logan's sides as his mouth moved unerringly downwards, where Logan really wanted it. "Can you feel this?" he asked, rubbing up and down the muscle of Logan's outer thighs, his breath hot against Logan's abs.
Logan closed his eyes. "Some."
Alec slid his fingers around until his thumbs met, just behind Logan's balls. He was gentle, but not hesitant. He ran warmer than a regular human, and the touch was electrifying. "What about this?"
"That," Logan gasped, his hips moving without conscious instruction, "I feel."
Alec nodded and then immediately licked Logan's shaft, quick, like he was tasting it. Then he put his fingers around the base of Logan's cock and swallowed Logan down, spit-sloppy.
Logan's thrashing couldn't have thrown off a regular human, much less an X5, so he let it happen, groaning and clenching his fingers in Alec's messy hair, just long enough for a good grip. He was close already, muscles tensing, and just before he passed the point of no return Alec tightened his fingers. Logan yelled out a protest, but Alec only smiled as he pulled off and stared at Logan up the expanse of his stomach.
"What do you like?" Alec asked, almost casual.
Logan panted a couple of times before he found his voice. "I'm flexible."
Alec's eyes darkened. "Trying to make a point?"
"No!" Alec squeezed him, just to the point of pain. "Well, yes," Logan ground out, closing his eyes for a second against the overload of sensation. "But also—I'll like anything if you get on with it."
Alec bit his lip—Logan clenched his fists and tried to avoid making the issue moot—and before Logan could figure out where he'd gone he was blurring back, smoothing a condom down over Logan's aching dick. "Like this?" he said, raised on his haunches, so Logan could just feel the heat of him through the thin barrier on his cockhead.
"God, yes," Logan assented, and Alec sank down with a slow, steady motion, the muscles in his thighs bunching with effort.
He was so hot, Logan thought dazedly, burning up. Alec's half-hard dick was right there, so he reached for it, stroking in time with the rhythm Alec was setting as he raised and lowered himself. Alec swelled quickly, his head peeking out from his foreskin all shiny and pink while Logan teased the ridge below the head with his thumb. Alec grunted, tilting his head back so that Logan could see the line of his throat, and sped up, bringing one hand forward to wrap around Logan's. Alec squeezed harder than Logan would've thought advisable on his own, but he took the guidance as Alec rocked up and down.
"Really close," he warned, hips surging as violently as he could manage. Alec leaned forward, changing the angle completely, and braced his free hand on Logan's chest, just in time to shoot all over him. It was hot and messy and Logan came as soon as Alec's body shuddered around him, pleasure rocketing through him.
When he could see again, the condom was gone, but Alec was beside him, propped up on one elbow, watching him with a wariness Logan could only hope was as paper-thin as Alec's other subterfuges.
"That was great," Logan told him, "but next time I get to suck you off first."
Alec shifted his hips at that, eyes dilating again. "Give me ten minutes."
Logan had to laugh, pillowing his arms behind his head. "Can you wait half an hour?"
They lay in comfortable silence for a while. Logan's belly was drying cool and sticky, but the discomfort wasn't enough to make him want to move. After a while, Alec reached out and put a hand on Logan's chest, over his heart, only the lightest pressure.
"I'm not going to stop," Alec said. "You know that, right?"
Logan nodded. He hadn't been able to stop Max from stealing—had taken advantage of it, still was—and this couldn't be different. Not right now.
Alec could live with a lot, he knew—was living with it. "Just don't do anything you couldn't tell me about," he said.
Alec was quiet long enough that Logan hoped he understood the limits Logan was asking for. "Okay," he said at last.
Logan brought his hand up to ruffle Alec's hair. "Thank you."
Alec's expression was baffled enough that Logan could tell he didn't get the why, even if he was okay with the what.
Logan could work with that.