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Before and After

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It's before Alaska and before Tokyo (the second time). After Palestine, after Syria. After Weapon X.

After the X-Men.

Before and after, that’s what their relationship is defined by -- before this fight and after that one, leaving them to catch their breath and whatever else they can scrape up in the middle somewhere. Two survivors finding each other huddled in the wreckage, a routine of a kind. At least that’s what comes to mind as Flamingeaux looks down on the sprawled and bloodied body of Logan lying across his couch, wondering what he’s missed this time.

He thinks about ignoring him. Just working around him in the dirty closet that the club owner generously calls a dressing room. Lolo can take care of himself after all, he’s proved that enough, and Flamingeaux has a midnight curtain call as well as a legion of loyal fans to get ready for. It’s not as if he owes Logan anything any more. Not after the way they parted.

He lets himself consider the idea for maybe thirty whole seconds, then shakes his head and sighs to the gods and fetches a washcloth and the bucket of half-melted ice sitting out on the table, long since done cooling his wine. Hitching up his skirt and petticoats, he kneels down beside the couch. He briefly considers dropping the wet cloth onto Logan’s face to wake him up. But Logan does look so sweet and peaceful, even if his face is a mess of blood and half-healed cuts, and Flamingeaux does love a Snow White moment and maybe Logan owes him, a little --

Logan snorts and surges up as Flamingeaux kisses him, but mercifully seems to realise where he is before any claws get involved, and subsides with a groan. Flamingeaux follows him down, indulging himself a little. Logan’s lips are soft and warm as always -- it always amused Flamingeaux, a guy who looked like Logan having a mouth like that -- and taste of blood and bitter metals; he reaches up to put heavy hand around the back of Flamingeaux’s neck, digging his fingertips into tight curls, encouraging.

At that, Flamingeaux pulls away.

“Mind the wig, Lolo. This thing cost more than your motorcycle.”

Logan blinks up at him, his eyes shockingly blue in the red-streaked mess of his face. Flamingeaux offers him the dripping washcloth. Logan takes it automatically, looks at it in his hand for a moment, then scrubs it over his eyes and jowls.

“Thanks.” His voice is a low rumble, all gravel and growl. It goes straight to a place somewhere inside Flamingeaux’s heart; reminds him of warm nights in Hebron, sharing bitter black coffee and long, slow blowjobs.

“De rein, cher.” Flamingeaux leans back, raises a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “How much of that blood is yours? I’m billing you for the upholstery by the way, I like this job and don’t care to lose it.”

Logan hauls himself into a sitting position, groaning and panting a little. He presses a hand against his side, wincing. “Some of it. I think. Son of a bitch emptied his shotgun into my guts a couple times. Felt about as bad as it looked.”

Flamingeaux tugs his hand away, lifting the shredded remains of Logan’s t-shirt aside to see his stomach. Logan lets him, and this, too, is part of their routine. They joked about it years ago, in their other lives: the only guy on the field who didn’t need a medic and they kept running into each other, over and over, saving each other's lives.

He slides palm over Logan’s side, across the muscled curves of his belly. Warm skin and dense, wiry hair. Logan catches his breath as Flamingeaux stops just below his navel, thumb skimming across his belt. Somewhere in the club behind them a heavy baseline thuds and rattles across the walls.

“I don’t feel any shot under the skin.” Flamingeaux doesn’t move his hand. He clears his throat, very aware of the fact that he’s still on his knees. “Probably worked itself out on your way here. No sign of fever.”

Logan puts his hand over Flamingeaux’s and holds him there. Flamingeaux feels the rise and fall of his breath, his body heat. Logan tries to catch his eye; Flamingeaux looks away.

“Does Maureen know you’re here, Lolo?” It’s a coward’s way out. Logan flinches, as Flamingeaux knew he would, and lets him go. The tension between them splinters and falls away.

“It was her idea. Threw me outta the apartment for a few days, said I was drivin’ her nuts. Said to go work it out before I came back.” He scrubs his hands through his hair. Flamingeaux gets up and walks over to the mini fridge, stiletto heels clicking on the floorboards. Fetches himself a bottle of sparkling water but doesn't offer Logan one -- the smallest, pettiest of rebukes.

“I don't blame her. You've been itching for something since you two got here. I'm not sure you're going to find it trawling for fights in dive bars, sweetheart.” Flamingeaux sits himself down at his mirror, sipping his water and assessing the damage to his makeup. “At least not the kind of dive bars you go to.”

“It was a robbery, Flamingeaux. Some asshole held up a bodega, this little old Creole lady behind the counter, takin’ too long, getting him impatient. I was in there buyin’ smokes and some beer. Should have walked out. But I couldn't --” Flamingeaux glances back at him in the mirror; Logan has his hands fisted on his knees, staring into space, reliving the memory. “I couldn't leave her there.”

Flamingeaux lets out a small breath. He looks up at the clock on the wall.

He leaves the mirror and the water and squeezes in beside Logan on the couch in a flutter of silk and pink artificial feathers. Slowly, carefully, he puts a hand on top of Logan's, stroking the place between his knuckles with his thumb -- a reminder, a gesture of their old bond of trust. That he knows what Logan is, deep down, buried under muscle and blood, and doesn't care.

Logan looks at him, his expression full of dumb, animal pain. The kind of pain that doesn't ever go away; you just learn to live with it and work around it and hope it doesn't get worse, like building a house on a cracked foundation. Part of you waiting every day for the earthquake which will send it all crashing down.

“Okay, Lolo,” Flamingeaux gently pets Logan's hair, deft movements grooming it back into some sort of order; strokes down the fuzz of his sideburns. “You can stay here through my set, then I'm going to take you back to my place and get you as drunk as your damn healing factor will let me. You might as well ruin my bed instead of my couch.”

“Thanks,” Logan says, meaning it, gratitude softening the hard lines of his face and that at least is a new thing, his heart riding so close to the surface. Something to do with Maureen, maybe, or maybe just passing time wearing him down.

Flamingeaux brushes Logan's cheek with the backs of his fingers, then settles his hand on the heavy slope of his shoulder.

“Rest, mon cher. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

Logan touches his wrist, briefly, just the tips of his fingers. “Lock the door,” he says, not a request.

As he gathers his things and makes his way to the stage, Flamingeaux does what he’s told. He still can’t say no to Logan.