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New Fic: Animal Research

Animal Research
Fandom: Avengers, X-Men
Rated: PG
Category: Humor, Gen, Friendship. Avengers/X-Men crossover in character appearances only.
Spoilers: None per se. General X-Men and Avengers knowledge helpful.
Summary: Tony has a proposition for Logan. There’s liquor involved. And fighting. A lot of both, actually, and maybe some science, too.
Word Count: 2119.
Note: This fic has been sitting, nearly complete, on my computer for literally years. It’s finally time to post it. Why? Because I recently rediscovered it, because it makes me laugh, and because its last two words are appropriate. For read if you will, dear friends, my 500th fic, and understand that those two words are true because of you. For as Rowling said, “no story lives unless someone wants to listen.” You are treasured, dear readers and especially reviewers. Oftentimes so much more than you know. You make my life better, and this one’s for you. Also, Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

xxx

The Stagecoach Bar had rarely hosted such an incongruous pair.

Sure, the one guy seemed to fit right in. With his gruff manner, leather jacket, and lived-in look, he could almost be a regular.

But the other one – the one with the starched pants, cufflinks, and designer shoes – he looked like he’d be more at home in a swanky hotel than a backwater bar in the sticks.

Still, the Stagecoach had seen stranger things, so the bartender wandered over to the duo and asked for their order.

The wannabe regular nodded to him. “Whatever special’s on tap,” he said, and the bartender nodded back before turning to the other man.

“Best scotch you’ve got,” he said. “On the rocks.”

The bartender raised an eyebrow, but said nothing and turned to get the drinks. Inwardly, he chuckled at the orders. He’d pegged the first man as a beer guy from the second he walked in, but the other surprised him. He’d assumed Mister GQ would order something at least a little bit fancy. Straight whiskey somehow made him respect the guy more. Maybe he fit in here more than it seemed.

A moment later, the bartender slid the drinks to their recipients.

“Thanks,” said the posh one, “and open a tab, will ya?”

The bartender started to nod when the gruff one interrupted. “Don’t bother,” he said. “We won’t be long.”

His companion scowled at him. “Now, Logan, is that any way to treat an offer of hospitality?” Then he turned back to the bartender again. “Open a tab,” he repeated.

Logan shrugged. “Fine. Whatever, man. It’s his money.”

The bartender nodded and left them to their drinks.

When he was gone, Logan turned and stared blankly at the man next to him for a moment, then slowly spoke.

“Look, I’m just here because the Professor wanted me here.”

Tony Stark seemed amused. “And you couldn’t tell him no?”

“He can be very persuasive,” grumbled Logan.

“I bet,” murmured Tony, with a chuckle.

Logan ignored Tony’s response and  got right to the point. “So, what’d’ya want?”

“Adamantium,” said Tony, as plainly as if he were asking for another drink.

Logan laughed. “You’re barkin’ up the wrong tree, bub.”

“Really?” asked Tony. “My understanding is you’re full of the stuff.”

“Yeah, I suppose I am,” answered Logan, shrugging. “But that doesn’t mean I know a damn thing about it.”

Tony grimaced. “Oh, right. I heard about your, um, memory issues.”

“So you know I can’t help you,” said Logan.

“I wouldn’t say that.”

Tony’s voice took on a mischievous quality, and Logan sat up straighter.

“Oh?” he said.

“Yeah,” said Tony. “If you let me scan you… run a few tests…”

Logan shook his head. “No way.”

“But…”

“I said no,” reiterated Logan. “Besides, the Professor’s already run every test in the book.”

Tony outright laughed. “Oh, please. I’ve got equipment that makes his stuff look like bloodletting.”

Logan raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. After a moment, Tony spoke again.

“So, you’re interested, then?”

“Didn’t say that,” growled Logan.

Tony smirked. “No. No, you didn’t. But you didn’t say no, either.”

Logan practically snarled and rolled his eyes. After a moment of silence, he nodded to Tony.

“What’s in it for me?”

“You know who I am,” stated Tony, as if this answered everything.

“And?” asked Logan, clearly not following.

Tony grinned. “Did I mention these would be fight simulation tests?”

Logan’s eyes went wide. “You mean…”

Tony’s eyes gleamed. “Oh, yeah.”

“Seriously?” asked Logan. “You… me…”

He gestured in the air between them, and Tony nodded enthusiastically.

“Oh, yeah,” he repeated.

Logan laughed. “You’re insane!”

“Yeah, well, that’s the common theory,” said Tony, shrugging. “If you’re not interested…”

He trailed off, and Logan chuckled.

“Oh, I didn’t say that…” His expression mirrored a cat about to pounce.

“Another round, then?” asked Tony.

Logan shrugged. “Why not?”

Tony grinned and waved a hand to the bartender. This time around, Tony insisted on the best whiskey in the house for both men, and Logan sipped it appreciatively.

“Not bad,” he muttered.

Tony made a noncommittal noise and gestured around the bar as he took a drink. “Agreed. Not bad at all. Given the circumstances.”

Logan snorted. “Yeah, probably  not what you’re used to, eh?”

“Gee, what gave it away?” scoffed Tony.

Before Logan could answer his rhetorical question, Tony plowed on.

“Still, though, it has its appeal. Nobody knows me here.”

“This from ‘Mister-Hey-Look-At-Me-I’m-Iron-Man’?” said Logan, voice laced with sarcasm.

Tony shushed him. “Yeah, well, even I’ve got to get away sometimes, right?”

“Isn’t that why you’ve got a private jet?”

“Which I used to meet you here.”

Logan inclined his glass toward Tony. “Point taken.”

Silence fell over the two men then. Tony noticed Logan’s glass was nearing empty and signaled to the bartender for a third round. The barkeep filled their glasses silently and went on his way.

Tony took a long pull from his glass and Logan did the same. Then they both spoke simultaneously.

“So, about these tests…” said Logan.

“Think of it this way…” said Tony.

Both men stopped and gestured for the other to speak, and eventually, Tony took the lead.

“Think of it this way,” he repeated. “It’s a way to get out from under Xavier’s thumb for a bit.”

Logan’s eyebrows rose, but he stayed silent.

“Oh, come on,” said Tony. “You can’t tell me you don’t want to get out of there sometimes. Living with that group has got to be a drag.”

Logan made a face of reluctant agreement and nodded. “Yeah, they’re not exactly fun.”

“Tell me about it,” agreed Tony.

Logan gave him a confused look, so Tony continued.

“You’ve got a goody-two-shoes with one eye, the teacher’s pet, and mother nature. All hanging out with a guy who can read your mind. Oh, yeah. Sounds like a barrel of laughs.”

“You know Scott actually has two eyes, right?”

Tony waved him off, but noticed that Logan didn’t correct any other parts of his statement. “And I’ve got the star-spangled wonderboy, a guy who likes to hang out alone on rooftops, a Russian with no sense of humor, and a dude who turns Godzilla if I piss him off.”

“And since you’ve been known to have that effect on people…” interrupted Logan.

Tony just took that in stride. “Exactly!” he raved. “I mean, the only fun one is either off in outer space or with his girlfriend all the time! A man could go crazy with only those folks for company!”

Tony finished off his drink and slammed the glass down on the bar, and this time, it was Logan who signaled for another round.

Tony raised an eyebrow at him, and Logan just shrugged back.

“What can I say? You have a point.”

“Taking it when you can get it, huh?”

Logan grinned. “Something like that.”

“Well, there’s plenty more back at my place,” said Tony.

“Sorry, bub,” said Logan. “Don’t swing that way.” He gave Tony a deadly serious look.

Tony realized what he said and started to backpedal. “No. Me neither. I meant, um…”

Logan laughed. “Relax, Tin Man. I know what you meant.”

“So, you in, then?” asked Tony.

“Free liquor?”

Tony nodded.

“And I get to actually fight?”

“To your heart’s content.”

Logan shrugged. “Why not?”

Tony clapped him on the back. “Knew you’d see it my way.”

Logan gave Tony’s hand a look, then scowled.

Tony pulled his hand away. “Sorry.”

Logan shrugged again. “Whatever, man,” he said, clearly just drunk enough to not care much.

“So, one more to seal the deal?” said Tony, raising his now empty glass.

Logan nodded. “Why not?”

Tony ordered a fifth round. The bartender hesitated a moment, but when Tony flashed a bill at him, he filled the glasses right away.

Tony grinned and raised his glass to Logan.

No words were said, but Logan returned the gesture and downed his drink in one gulp. Tony did likewise, then settled the tab.

A short time later, Tony poured another drink – this time in the privacy of his plane, which was parked on the runway of a nearby private airport. He admired the amber liquid for a moment, then turned to Logan, who was nursing a glass of his own.

“Okay,  most annoying villain. Go,” said Tony.

Logan snorted. “Don’t even have to think about that one.”

“Well?”

“Sabretooth.”

“Oh, yeah. He’s a good one.”

“So, Mandarin for you, then?”

Tony shook his head. “Nah.”

Logan tilted his head and gave Tony a funny look. “No?”

“Nah,” said Tony again, with a dismissive wave of his hand. “He’s a pain in my ass, sure, but I can handle him. At least he fights fair. Well, mostly. Know who drives me nuts, though?”

“Who?”

“He’s from your neck of the woods, actually.”

“And?”

“Well, contrary to popular belief, my suit’s not iron.”

“And?”

“And gold isn’t magnetic. Neither is titanium. But…”

“But?”

“But I can’t quite get rid of some steel here and there and…”

He trailed off, and Logan chuckled.

“Magneto.”

Tony nodded. “I hate that guy.”

Logan nodded slowly as he and Tony both seemed to reach a low energy point. After a moment of silence, he spoke slowly.

“Know what?”

Tony opened his half-closed eyes. “Huh?”

“Me too.”

Tony laughed.

“No, really. You’re right. I’ll take a straight fight with Victor any day over that lunatic. At least I’ve got a shot against Victor. With Eric, I can’t even move.”

“I know, right?” said Tony. “Bad form!”

“Yeah,” slurred Logan, slowly falling asleep. “Bad form!” He made a sword fighting motion with one hand, which Tony apparently thought was hilarious.

When he stopped laughing, Tony suddenly grew thoughtful.

“Know what we need?” he said.

“What?”

Tony hiccupped. “Non-magnetic… stuff.”

Logan’s eyebrows drew together. He was clearly confused. “What?”

Suddenly, Tony’s eyes cleared and he stared off into the distance. Logan looked over his shoulder, wondering what had captured Tony’s attention.

When he saw nothing of note there, he turned back to Tony.

“What?” he asked.

Tony blinked, but didn’t answer. Instead, he started mumbling under his breath. Logan leaned in close enough to hear the words coming out of his mouth, but he couldn’t make sense of them.

“…super accelerate the electrons…might reduce the gravimetric and magnetic pull…but not sure it’d be malleable enough…no, there’s no way around it…maybe a shield…yeah, like a forcefield…and…”

Logan leaned back again and sighed. After a moment, he tried to get Tony’s attention again.

“Stark!” he called.

Tony snapped back to Logan and gave him a puzzled look. “What?”

“You were talking to yourself,” said Logan.

“I was?”

Logan nodded.

“What’d I say?” asked Tony.

“Something about magnets.”

Tony beamed. “Right! Because that’s what we need.”

“Magnets?”

“No,” said Tony, slinging an arm around Logan. “Anti-magnets.”

“Anti-magnets?”

“Or rather, an anti-magnetic shield. Something that will soak up his power so we can move.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Magneto. Remember?”

Logan blinked. “Oh, right. Him. Asshole.”

“Exactly. And I’ve got an idea…”

Tony trailed off into a mumbled litany of technobabble again, and Logan sighed, giving up all pretense of the conversation he never wanted to have anyway.

He slid down in his chair until his head rested on the back of it and promptly passed out.

Tony would be up much longer, mumbling and jotting down notes and coming up with ideas that even Reed Richards would have to think about for a bit before comprehending.

But eventually, he too would sleep.

His plane would take off as scheduled, after his crew made sure both men were accounted for, and he’d wake up in New York, along with his temporary mutant ally.

Over the next two weeks, they’d drive Pepper to the brink of insanity and to the other coast, take down seventeen walls, destroy three cars and two motorcycles, and  nearly kill each other six times.

And before Logan walked out on day fifteen, seven Iron Man suits would have come and gone. Their wreckage would be scattered in every nook and cranny of Stark Tower, compliments of wins, losses, and mostly truly epic draws.

Logan wouldn’t have the scars to prove that, but Tony would.

Of course, he’d also have a ton of data regarding adamantium and how to defend against it and use it to his advantage. And somewhere in the back of his mind, he’d have an idea about anti-magnetic forcefields. It’d take a long, long time before any of that made sense to him, but eventually it would.

And on the day it did, Tony Stark looked down at the three long scars across his arm and had only one thought.

Worth it.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
lemonpiefirefly
Mar. 18th, 2015 06:33 am (UTC)
My, what a long fic you have!
;)
Awesome, cap.
Well and carefully crafted, indeed, the interaction to get these two in cahoots. Tony is just charismatic, manipulative, and frankly in-fucking-sane enough to both pull it off and want to do it in the first place.
And Logan is ... well, Logan.

Nice pairing there. They do have some shared woes, after all. And Tony, I think, marvels at the sheer animal that Logan can be sometimes.

Plus, it's nice to see Tony again.
Because reasons, you know.

~Worth it.~, indeed.
jackwabbit
Mar. 18th, 2015 06:39 am (UTC)
I wrote this over two years ago.

I wrote it quickly, in one of those strike-while-the-iron-is-hot moments.

And I hated it.

I came back to it several times through the years (last in April 2013, apparently), and still hated it/thought it didn't work. Then, in, like, November, I read it and was all, like, this does not suck.

So I fixed the recurrent typo of "Magento" and put it in the "post later" pile on the desktop. And here we are. It's later.

Thanks. Glad it works after all.
lemonpiefirefly
Mar. 18th, 2015 07:05 am (UTC)
Yeah - this is one of those "NJN" moments.

Glad it made it out of Purgatory, because I quite enjoyed it.

Now I totally need to come up with a low-level villain (maybe an ELE inductee) named "Magento." It sounds like a flamboyant magician with a penchant for fuchsia.
jackwabbit
Mar. 18th, 2015 07:42 am (UTC)
Yeah, Magento is awesome.

And for the record? I did it every time. Every. Time.

And it did used to suck a little... ;)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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