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A Ghost Should Be So Practical

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1943

“Who’s the lug in the tights?”

It’s raining again and his cigar is starting to taste like mildew. It’s not really lit so much as smoldering and he’d give up the ghost if the damn thing were singed down to the nub. But he’s barely gotten one decent smoke out of it. Might be salvageable if he can find a place to dry it out in this mud-soaked shithole of a camp.

“What’d you say?” Victor takes off his helmet and shakes his head violently, droplets of water flying all over his already dirty and moth-eaten cot.

“Three o’clock. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice the fuckin’ stars and stripes,” Logan mutters, nodding his head toward the general’s command post.

“Oh, him.” Victor rolls his eyes as if that’s old news and carelessly tosses his helmet to the ground. The rusted metal of his bed creaks horribly as he sinks his considerable weight onto the edge of the mattress and starts the arduous task of unlacing his muddy boots. He offers Logan a snarl of a grin, sarcastic joy lifting and then dropping his words. “That’s ‘Captain America’, didn’t you hear?”

“Captain America?” That seems more ludicrous with every syllable. He spits on the ground, trying to get the bad taste out of his mouth. “If they think I’m saluting that guy-“

“You don’t salute anyone.” Victor half-smiles, more to himself than anyone else. “Doesn’t matter, he’s no captain. Just some actor, playing war hero.”

This rings a faint bell somewhere in his recent memory. A vague recollection of a few conversations in the mess, some whisperings while out in the trenches, about some “star spangled man” who saved the day, all-American hero from the blonde hair and square jaw all the way down to the tips of his perfect toes.

“Wait, the guy who rescued the 107th – that’s him?” He looks again, eyes narrowing in judgment. He’d figured the whole tale for some starry-eyed schmucks buying into propaganda manufactured to keep their spirits up but it’s hard to deny the reality of this supposed Captain standing a stone’s throw away.

He figures the costume says it all, though. He’s been through enough war to know the lines they’ll feed you to keep you dying for the cause. In wartime – hell, at all times – cowards outweigh the heroes; bad men outnumber the good. That’s just how it is and how it’ll always be. The few good men he’s known are never the ones who get the glory. And they certainly didn’t dress up like Superman from those stupid comic books. “I don’t think that boy’s seen a day of war in his life.”

“Dunno.” Victor shrugs. A boot finally comes off, hits the ground with a thud. Victor strips off his sock and flexes his dirt-caked toes with a satisfied sigh. Logan can tell he really couldn’t care less about Captain America or anyone else. “I think I’m just gonna fight barefoot from now on.”

“You do that.” Logan grunts, teeth grinding the end of his cigar as he sets his jaw and stands up.

“Where are you going?”

He doesn’t spare his brother a glance as he ducks back out into the rain. Every step sinks deeply into inches of mud but it barely slows his pace.

“My men and I can certainly take that on, it’s only a matter of-“

“Colonel.” Logan interrupts the Captain brusquely as he enters the tent.

“Well, Logan, c’mon in. No need to stand on ceremony,” Phillips sighs, waving him forward even though Logan’s already well where he wants to be. “Or even decent manners.”

“Who’s the new guy.”

“Steve Rogers.” A steady hand is outstretched immediately. Rogers smiles at him, waiting for a response, and his offered hand does not waver when Logan lets it hang there, untaken. Logan eyes him up and down, taking him in up close. He sniffs the air slightly, trying to pick up some kind of scent that might explain what this kid’s about.

Cause he is just a kid, god damn young enough that there’s still hope and innocence and other such nonsense shining blindingly within his blue eyes.

“What are you, seventeen, eighteen?” Probably some high school football star who shipped on out to show Hitler who’s boss. Give him a good punch on the nose.

“Twenty-five, sir.”

“Doesn’t make much difference.”

“How old are you, sir?” Rogers' jaw tightens ever-so-slightly. It’s not impertinence, but Logan can tell with the right push, the right reason, it could be. The guy’s ready and willing to fight.

He somehow doubts the kid’s got the goods to back up the spirit, no matter how broad his shoulders are.

“Older than you think. And don’t call me sir.”

Having seen all he needs to see, Logan turns on his heel and walks out.

*******

Turns out, the kid’s not so bad in a fight.

There’s blood in the air, along with sweat and smoke and phosphorous. Men are burning miles away, but it’s a scent that carries. In every war death smells slightly different and looks the same.

He and Victor are in the midst of the battle but warring it out on their own, just as they always do, when he senses that they’re in too deep and they’re outnumbered in a way that’s not a welcome challenge but an unwelcome problem.

“Shit.”

Victor nods. It’s that simple and that complicated.

They barely have a moment to consider a way out before a huge chunk of flying metal goes whizzing past his ear, fast enough that he hadn’t heard it coming. The disc takes out three men like dominoes and then makes an impossible turn back from where it came.

“The fuck.” Logan snaps his head to follow its path, and sees a flash of red, white and blue. It’s a shield, Logan realizes. Rogers races past him at remarkable speed, targeting the enemy with breathtaking precision.

It’s been said that he and his brother fight like perfect animals, all ferocious rage and base instinct, but that’s not how Rogers does it. He’s a graceful danger, otherworldly and powerful. Beautiful.

He remembers to blink and realizes it’s the three of them now, alone in a clearing save for the dead or dying Jerries lying at their feet. It’s not the only time he’s found himself in this situation, but it’s the first he’s sure he didn’t do it.

“Come on, we’ve got them on the run,” Rogers shouts, waving them forward. He’s already moving. Up ahead a few more men fall in behind him, coming in from the right flank. Logan recognizes some of them as the Cap’s Howling Commandos and for a second he hesitates. Following them would be like joining.

Victor shoots him a look.

“We’re seriously gonna go with the guy in the mask?”

“What the hell,” he shrugs, and breaks into a run.

*******

“Thanks for coming with us today, it was a great help,” Steve sits down next to him without waiting for an invitation. He holds out a brand new cigar with a faint smile on his face.

Logan angles his head toward him.

He doesn’t have anything to say so he just looks. Discerns. Studies. Captain America is a ridiculous thing, really. He wonders if the guy knows it. He wonders if Rogers thinks this war is worth it, that they’re honestly doing something good by being here.

Except he doesn’t actually wonder. He knows. He knows this kid thinks he’s making a difference. It’s all over him, that stink of blind faith in his country and his mission.

He grabs the cigar roughly and doesn’t say thank you before he lights it up.

“Would you and your brother consider joining us permanently?”

“Nope,” Logan grunts. He picks up a skin mag from Victor’s stack of things and leans back on his cot, idly flipping through it. Rogers glances toward it and quickly brings his gaze back up to Logan’s face. The kid blushes in an amusing way that makes Logan take a moment to consider.

He looks the good Captain up and down, eyebrow raised. Rogers does fill out those skin tight rags they’ve got him in, that much can be said for the guy.

“You ever take that stupid costume off or do they make you wear it all the time?”

Rogers starts, a bit embarrassed, and crosses his arms over his chest.

“I went right into a briefing when we got back, I haven’t had time to-“ He stops, rubbing the back of his neck as the rest of his sentence stammers off. He takes a pause and a deep breath, then puts his hands firmly on his own knees and gets back on track. “I’ve seen the way you fight. You’re quick. You’re smart. You would be a valuable addition to the team. You both would be.”

“Do I look like I want to be scouted for your All-American Squad?” Logan takes the cigar from his mouth and taps ash to the ground. “I don’t give two shits about the good ol’ U.S. of A. Hell, I’m Canadian.”

“Canada’s a grand place,” Rogers states and Logan has to chuckle.

“Kid, are you for real?”

“I told you, I’m not a kid.” There’s a frown, and that, that’s real. Logan doesn’t need this. He doesn’t need to be bogged down with some guy that’s got something to prove.

“And I’m not joining your team, so I think we’re done here.” He tosses the tattered magazine aside and sits up. He gestures to the flap in the tent, signaling Rogers to make his way out.

He doesn’t move.

“We’re taking down HYDRA one piece at a time. It’s important work.”

“It always seems important at the time. Twenty years from now, folks won’t even remember what we were fightin’ for.” Logan scratches his beard with his thumb. Rogers bristles, clearly riled but trying to keep a lid on it.

“I don’t believe that.”

“I don’t care what you believe. Lemme tell you what else - I don’t care about HYDRA. Don’t care about Nazis or Mussolini and I sure as hell don’t care about the damn Japs.”

“Then why are you here? Why fight at all?” Rogers demands, anger flashing in his eyes. Logan coldly stares him down.

“I fight because I like to fight. I fight because it’s how I get paid.”

Rogers stands up and maybe it’s just the righteous rage but he seems taller.

“I fight because it’s the right thing to do.”

Logan doesn’t flinch.

“Well that’s your problem, isn’t it.”

Rogers clenches his fists by his sides, whole body tense. Finally he shakes his head and pushes out of the tent and back out into the endless rain.

“I’ll talk to Victor myself,” he tosses back over his shoulder and Logan outright laughs. He’d like to be there to see that. Super solider or not, Victor’s gonna squash his hopes like a bug.

*******

They’re in some dirty godforsaken town close to the German border when Logan runs into Steve again.

It’s a big goddamn war and if Rogers hadn’t been there first, Logan may have thought the guy had followed him. It seems like too big a coincidence.

But as coincidences go, this once seems to serve a purpose. He’s just not clear what it is until he happens across the Captain as they’re setting up camp in their newly won position. There are vacant houses and taverns and other bombed out shells of buildings, but the Germans like to leave gifts behind. Men are sweeping for mines and other fun things that explode before anyone gets to move anywhere more comfortable.

A medic truck thunders by and when the blur of red and white and military green clears his line of sight, that’s when Logan sees him. His uniform is slashed and burnt and there’s a swath of dried blood caked across his cheek.

He doesn’t know why he goes over, but he does. He might’ve been a little glad to see Rogers still alive.

“Cap’n,” Logan greets him with a small nod and Rogers smiles. He looks tired, beat up, and surely has no reason to do so, yet he still smiles.

“Logan, good to see you.”

Logan can’t decide if Rogers is just that stubborn or that affable. Maybe a bit of both. Or a lot of both.

“Still prancing around in that getup, huh.” He pushes a finger at one of the torn flaps and Steve half-laughs, half-winces.

“Speaking of which, you’ll need to take that off, Captain Rogers, so I can clean this up,” the pretty slip of a nurse standing beside him gestures to his shirt. Logan doubts the other men get such immediate and personal attention. Rogers shakes his head and nods toward the medic tent where the more gravely injured men are being loaded in as the cots are set up. It’s the usual gory spectacle that Logan as a rule takes pains to avoid.

“Thank you, but I’ll be fine.” The woman looks at him with fondness in her eyes and makes to protest. Steve drops his voice a little, sounding even kinder and more patient than is typical. “Really, I’m perfectly okay. Go on and help the others.”

She reluctantly leaves and Logan steps closer, taking her place.

“She only wanted to get you half-naked while you were still woozy,” Logan states, winking and flashing a grin that’s all teeth. “You just lost yourself tonight’s date.” Rogers ducks his head, blushing, but his voice comes out steady.

“I don’t get woozy.”

“Can’t blame a gal for trying though, I suppose. There’s gotta be some perks to being a nurse in this hellish place, you-“ Logan’s train of thought comes to a grinding halt, his words falling sideways. He reaches out to touch the side of Steve’s face. When he’d walked over, there had been a large gash striking across Steve’s cheekbone and now it’s diminished by at least half its size.

“What?” Steve asks, clearly alarmed by both the touch and the disbelieving look on Logan’s face. He wrenches his face away from Logan’s grasp and brings his own hand to his cheek. The table he’s sitting on creaks as he shifts his weight. “What is it?”

Logan pulls at the tear in the fabric at Steve’s shoulder, ripping it further and taking a look at the skin underneath.

“You’re healing.”

Steve moves to stand, carefully pulling away.

“I wasn’t that badly injured, I’m hardly-“

“No, no, I got eyes, Rogers, quit the shit.” Not deterred, Logan reaches for the bottom of the Captain’s heavy shirt, yanking it upward and trying to see how his burns are faring. The other man pulls back sharply, shoving him away.

“I heal more quickly than normal. It’s not a big deal.” He’s trying to downplay it, Logan’s attention unwanted.

But Logan continues to stare; he knows he must look like some kind of startled, terrified animal, but he can’t help it.

“What else can you do?” He demands, and Steve takes a step back from him, bumping against the table. Steve’s bright blue eyes are wide with alarm.

“Logan…”

That’s when he realizes he has drawn his claws, the sharp bones protruding from between his knuckles. He’d barely felt the sting of breaking skin that time. He looks down at his own hands and then takes a darting glance around them. No one else is close by, and no one seems to have noticed.

Logan shoves up his sleeve and extends a bare forearm into the small space between his body and Steve’s. Slowly, he drags one of his claws across his skin, gritting his teeth as it slices through and blood pools to the surface. He retracts his claws with a wince and waits for Steve’s reaction.

“Logan, what are you…” Steve trails off as Logan’s skin reseals itself almost immediately, leaving a streak of blood behind and nothing more. He grabs Logan’s arm, fingers a hot press against Logan’s undamaged flesh. Steve’s touch makes something in his gut clench, a warm twist of want shooting through his veins. He doesn’t have time to decipher that and he doesn’t want to. It screams of a complication he does not need.

Before Rogers says anything else, Logan tugs his arm back and shoves his sleeve down.

“Now you can see why I might be interested in your little magic trick,” he explains. “So. What else can you do.”

Steve nods downward to Logan’s hands.

“Not that.”

“What else, Rogers.” He advances forward, not in the mood for games. Rogers holds up his hands to stop him.

“It was a serum,” he says quickly. “An experiment.”

“An experiment.”

“To create a stronger, better soldier. This time last year I was a ninety-pound weakling with asthma.”

The fact that Logan has to look up at him in order to scowl makes his explanation even harder to believe.

“It’s true.” Rogers assures him. “Only reason it’s not common knowledge is that the formula’s gone, they can’t repeat the experiment. I’m the only one.”

“The only one?”

“Only one that didn’t turn into a crazed red-skinned homicidal maniac.”

Logan narrows his eyes, trying to look at Steve with these new parameters in mind.

“Becoming a homicidal maniac was a possibility? You certainly rolled the dice on that one, pal.”

“Dr. Erskine…he…well, he thought that my chances were good.” Steve shuffles his feet and averts his face, something about the memory obviously bothersome. Logan doesn’t particularly care what the story is there; he only needs the bare bones facts.

“This Dr. Erskine, he still around?”

“No. He was killed. Assassinated.” He bites his lip and Logan shifts his stance with a small grunt. He hopes Rogers isn’t about to cry.

“So, what…you can run faster, longer, harder? That’s about it?” The man’s physique is impressive, but if all the serum did was make him into a better athlete, it doesn’t really explain the whole Captain America bullshit, with the costume and the Commandos and the indestructible shield.

“That’s about it.” Rogers repeats. It’s clearly not, but Logan senses that it’s wrapped up in that longer story and not of much real use to him. He lets out a long sigh and stares down the cobblestone road that cuts through the center of town. He’s debating whether or not he should tell Victor about Rogers, deciding that he shouldn’t and then wondering why not, when he feels Steve move closer. Their shoulders bump and then Steve is lifting Logan’s hand.

Logan turns to face him slowly. His usual instinct when someone touches him is to snap back and fight, but the tension in his body as Steve rubs a thumb over his knuckles isn’t that kind of tension. It’s warm and it’s liquid and it’s melting him into the ground where he stands.

“What happened to you? To make you this way?” Steve inquires gently. Logan watches Steve’s thumb moving back and forth against his skin and it occurs to him that they’re practically holding hands, right out in the open.

To his credit he manages not to draw more attention to it, instead disentangling his hand from Steve’s hold and taking a small step back.

“Born this way, kid.” He thumps Rogers on the shoulder and his face screws up in puzzlement over the swift change in Logan’s demeanor.

There’s a leggy brunette walking toward them, her uniform fiercely polished and her ruby red lips set in a firm frown. He’s heard the talk – she’s Cap’s girl or something like that and that seems reason enough to avoid her. Two steps behind her is Captain America’s second-in-command, a Sergeant Barnes who Logan can’t help but think of merely as Steve’s shadow. Barnes’ gaze is trained on him, questions clearly forming behind his eyes.

Logan moves away before they’re close enough to engage him in conversation. Rogers calls after him but he calmly ignores it.

“Still no luck with drafting Private Logan to the Commandos then,” Agent Carter’s clipped British accent is the last bit of conversation he hears before he’s safely away.

So what if his hands are trembling.

*******

He doesn’t say no the next time he’s asked.

Granted, he doesn’t say yes either.

He just kinda shows up and falls into line between the dope in the bowler hat and the Frenchie. Captain America catches his eye and nods a little in understanding. He glares in response but it’s just for show. Logan can see a smile playing at the Cap’s lips as he turns to march forward.

Victor doesn’t join the attack on the HYDRA base. Logan thought he’d be acutely aware of his brother’s absence, but strangely he finds that he manages just fine.

He can read Rogers’ cues before he actually makes the order and whenever he turns around, expecting to find himself exposed, Steve’s at his back. It’s easy – far more easy than he ever imagined it could be.

Through smoke and gunfire and the mess of confusion he senses where Steve is at all times and it’s like they’ve been a team their whole lives.

It’s an adrenaline rush he hasn’t felt since the first battle he’d ever fought. As Steve drives his shield through the hatch door of one of HYDRA’s battle tanks, dropping the grenade inside and jumping clear of the rocking explosion, Logan wants to believe in what they’re doing. Captain America is fighting for something and Logan can feel himself being swept up alongside him.

When it’s all over and Colonel Phillips is sweeping another HYDRA installation off their big map, it occurs to Logan that he should be scared of what it all means.

Steve grins at him across the table, dotted now with fewer black bases and red flags, and something like panic seizes and grabs at his heart. He winks back and leaves the room before he does something worse.

Bucky corners him later, fists the lapels of his uniform and slams him against a wall. He’s angry enough that he’s able to do it.

“He doesn’t run away. Not from a god damned thing.” Barnes’ hands push at his chest, his voice laced with barely contained rage. “He doesn’t back down. So I don’t know what you’re playing at, but if you let him down I’m gonna have your head. You got that?”

“Yes, sir.” Logan growls, prying Bucky’s hands from his jacket and shoving them down to his side.

Logan could take him down as easy as breathing, but he doesn’t. There’s something admirable in Barnes’ protectiveness, as if it’s his job to keep Steve out of harm’s way, like the invincible super soldier needs protecting.

And he has to admit, as far as instincts go, Bucky is pretty on target.

He remains still, breathing in deep through his nose to control his own temper, as the other man storms away.

Agent Carter saunters around the corner, eyebrow raised. A smirk tugs at the corner of her full red lips and she looks from him, leaning against the wall, to Bucky’s departing figure. Even in her silence, he can sense her amusement.

“What?” He snaps at her. Her smirk settles into a deep frown and she steps into his personal space, meeting his glare head on.

“What Sergeant Barnes told you? It goes double for me. You step out of line, Private Logan, I’ll have more than just your head.”

From the look on her face, he doesn’t doubt it.

He doesn’t stick around to see if they’ll follow through on their threats. Somehow they were under the impression that he thought this was all worth it.

They clearly don’t know much about him.

He doesn’t bother saying good-bye and he’d like to think Steve expected him to be a disappointment, but he knows better. Steve’s not the kind to expect that of anyone.

*******

“I’m sorry about your friend.”

Steve is sitting on the floor beside the bed. It’s not his bed, or his room, because Captain America obviously refused to bunk up in one of the last remaining and stable buildings around, but tonight he hadn’t been given a choice. Logan doubted Steve had it in him to fight when Agent Carter had kicked out the officer who had the billet and put Steve there in his place.

He’d seen Agent Carter struggling beneath Steve’s weight as she’d helped him from the remnants of the bar and across the square to officer’s HQ. Steve had been clutching a bottle then, like he’s clutching a bottle now, and Logan can smell the liquor coming off of him even from where he stands in the doorway.

Steve tilts his head back, a tiny amount of surprise registers through the dense anguish that covers his face.

“I didn’t know you were here.”

“Passing through. Heard about what happened. I wanted to see if you were okay.”

Steve snorts a little at that.

“You drunk?” Logan asks, lowering himself to sit on the hard wooden floor beside Steve. Steve hands him the bottle.

“Sadly, no. Doesn’t do a thing. Help yourself.” Steve lets his head hang down, his shoulders slumping.

“Thanks, don’t mind if I do.” Logan knocks it back and it’s like fire on his tongue and acid down his throat. It’s not the worst he’s tasted but it’s pretty damn bad. If this stuff can’t get Steve drunk, he’s sure nothing else can. He sets the bottle on the ground, not bothering to give it back to Steve. He doubts the other man really wants it anyway.

He’s probably only drinking because he has to do something.

“I’m surprised you’re alone up here.” He’s really not surprised. Logan had waited until Carter had left before coming up. He’d watched her look sadly up at Steve’s window before leaving, brushing away tears as she did so. He should care that the girl’s obviously in love, but he doesn’t.

Steve’s head snaps up, eyebrows lifting.

“Who, Peggy?” He gets Logan’s meaning immediately, blushing even through his pallor of grief. “She’s not that kind of girl.”

“And you’re not that kind of guy.” Logan adds. “Times like these, I tell you, it helps to be that kind of guy.”

Steve draws his legs up close to his body, folding his hands on top of his knees.

“Don’t see how that would help.”

“At least it would take your mind off of it. Y’know, since liquor ain’t gonna work.”

Steve gives him a helpless little shrug and Logan looks toward the window, wishing Steve would be something else other than so obviously devastated. But losing Barnes is not a wound that’s gonna heal quickly. Or ever. Logan wants to think that he’s pitiful, that a grown man shouldn’t be broken like this, but he can’t throw up that wall like usual. He feels badly for the guy.

Fuck, he just feels.

“Look, Rogers-“ He wants to say something right but when he turns back to face him and finds the other man’s gaze trained intently on his face, his mind empties of everything except Steve. The plea is right there in his eyes, speaking so much louder than words.

Logan swallows hard and offers a perfunctory denial.

“You don’t want that. Not with me.”

“I know I don’t want to feel like this,” he replies and he’s shifting closer. Logan remembers Bucky’s words to him, coming back as clear as day. He’s not an idiot; he knows what this is. It’s Steve finally turning tail. This is what Steve running looks like. Of all the terrors in the world, losing his best friend is the one he can’t face.

Steve puts a hand on his knee and Logan knows he should pull back, but he doesn’t want to. In fact, he’s the one that bridges the small space left between them and presses his mouth to Steve’s.

If he’s being honest with himself, and he usually is, he came here for this. He might as well take it.

Steve makes a small noise of assent and lets himself be kissed. At first it seems like that’s all it will be, him doing the kissing and Steve letting it happen, but then Steve lets his mouth fall slack and easy and his hand moves to the side of Logan’s face, fingers gentle against his rough beard. After a moment that hand drops down, tugging and twining at the silver chain of his dog tags where they lay against his white t-shirt. Steve’s trying to pull him closer, but they can’t be much closer without one of them climbing on top of the other.

Logan pulls back slightly, a bit more breathless than he’d like.

“You won’t be able to forget,” he warns Steve, and even he’s not sure if he means this careless encounter won’t clear his mind of Bucky’s loss, or if he means this careless encounter will be forever lodged in memory, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

“I know,” Steve nods and moves forward with no hesitation. Steve’s lips are soft but bruising as he begins to kiss with the same fire with which he does everything else. Logan wants it, wants that focus on every inch of his body.

It’s selfish and he’s taking advantage. But what little conscience he has left is drowned out by the base need to have Steve’s large, capable hands on him.

Steve’s too put together, too pressed and neat for someone falling apart on the inside. Logan slides the tie off, slips those shining buttons loose and pushes the heavy jacket from Steve’s shoulders. He gets Steve down to his undershirt, the jacket and button down still tangled around his elbows, before setting to work on his belt.

“What do you want?” Logan asks as he slides one hand down to touch Steve, half-hard and too hot beneath the confines of his wool uniform and cotton underwear. His other hand cradles the back of Steve’s head, pulling him back to his mouth.

“Do anything,” Steve breathes out and Logan tries to tamp down on the shudder that wracks his body. “Do something.”

“Shouldn’t say that.” It’s a useless warning. Steve really would let him do anything at this point and he knows it. Logan tries not to imagine where that could lead and instead gives Steve’s cock a firm stroke before pausing to push Steve’s clothes past his hips so he can move his hand more freely.

“Close your eyes,” Logan mumbles against Steve’s cheek, the faint brush of stubble against his lips. “Fuck,” he curses to himself. He shouldn’t be doing this. But Steve’s falling apart in his hands and this somehow seems better than any possible alternative.

He should stop, get the rest of Steve’s clothes off, maybe move this to the bed, but it’s moving faster than he can think. Despite the booze, Steve still smells too damn good and his mind is swimming from the rush of blood to his own cock. His hand tightens on Steve, twisting as he pulls upward.

He feels the answering groan all the way to his bones.

Steve’s watching, eyes open but heavy-lidded and hazy as Logan works him toward completion. He’s half in Logan’s embrace, head lolling against his shoulder, and whenever he shifts into Logan’s touch, it sets every inch of Logan’s body on fire.

He’s going to come just from this. He doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to come at all – as if giving Steve this and not taking anything for himself might make it all right.

“Logan…” Steve’s hand tightens around his dog tags, pulling hard enough to snap the chain. His body tenses and Logan damns himself for not getting Steve undressed as waves of pleasure send those tightly packed muscles rippling. He comes with a small, pained groan, coating Logan’s hand and wrist with most of it, the rest splattering over his formerly pristine tee. Logan’s going to smell Steve on his skin for days.

He bites his lip hard enough to draw blood, steeling himself against his own orgasm. It rips through him despite his best efforts to hold it back.

Steve sags against him, breathing hard and ragged. He slowly uncurls his fist and Logan sees he was clutching the tags so hard that his name and number are imprinted on Steve’s palm. Steve lets the dog tags fall from his grasp in some kind of slow motion. The tin clinks against the floor at Logan’s side.

Logan doesn’t know what to say now. He disentangles himself from around Steve’s body, giving the man a minute to collect himself. He wipes his hand clean on the inside of his own shirt while Steve adjusts his pants back around his hips. Then Steve inches away slightly, putting space between them, and puts his head in his hands for a moment.

“Feel better?” Logan’s voice sounds pleasantly rough. Steve chuffs out a laugh.

“I did, for a minute there,” he admits, a flush creeping back up his neck.

“I’d be happy to fuck you the rest of the night if it’d help.” It’s half a joke and completely the truth. Reality is already setting back in though, if it ever left at all. He should go before the weight of what just happened comes down on Steve’s shoulders.

He’s at the door when Steve speaks.

“I’m going after Schmidt. I’d really like it if you came with me. With us.”

Logan looks at Steve, still sitting on the floor, and he can practically see Steve picking up the pieces and putting himself back together.

“Yeah.” He says. It’s not an agreement, just an acknowledgment that he knows exactly what Steve’s going to do.

Logan shuts the door carefully behind him.

It’s not until he’s halfway to Japan, sitting cramped and cold in the belly of a C-47, that he realizes he left his tags on Steve’s floor.

******

He doesn’t hear what happened to Steve until they find him in the ice 70 years later.

By then, Steve’s just Captain America to him, and Captain America doesn’t mean a thing to Wolverine.