Back of the room, looking at you
Counting the steps between us
A hundred and five
Little blades in a line
From your skin to mine
And I feel it
Eyes on the ground, but I can’t look up now
Don’t wanna give it away
In another life, my teeth and tongue
Would speak aloud what until now
I’ve only sung
Cause I would die to make you mine
Bleed me dry each and every time
I don’t mind, no I don’t mind it
I would come back 1000 times
You can make me wait forever
Push me away and tell me never
I don’t mind, no I don’t mind it
I would come back 1000 times
Kiss me goodnight
Like a good friend might
I’ll do the same, but won’t mean it
Cause love is a cage
These words on a page
Carry the pain – they don’t free it
In another life, I wouldn’t need to
Console myself as I resign to release you
Can I, Can I let it go, let it go
Cover my mouth
Don’t let a single word slip out
Wouldn’t wanna tell you, no, tell you, no
Nothing could be worse than the risk of
Losing what I don’t have now
I’m weaker by the minute, though
Is it so bad if I wanna cry out
That I would die to make you mine
Bleed me dry almost every time
But I don’t mind, no I don’t mind it
I would come back 1000 times
Make me wait forever
Push me away and tell me never
I don’t mind, no I don’t mind it
I would come back 1000 times
~ 1000 Times (Sara Bareilles)
Victor wasn’t surprised at how easy it was to get into the bustling Park Hyatt hotel with the VIP badge hanging around his neck. No one around the doors even batted an eye as a black Versace double-breasted number helped him blend into the sea of designer suits. A few people in the lobby took in his fangs and stared, but if he looked at them, they quickly turned away. Most of them seemed to only see the badge.
Arriving inside the first exclusive gathering in a matter of minutes, he couldn’t immediately pin-point Stark, but the excited crowd noise soon told him where the man had to be. It was always the same, but it turned out to be far more distracting without the distance of a stalker’s vantage point between them.
The crowd parted almost without warning and Victor spotted a heavier man in a less fancy suit trying to protect his boss as everyone began to move like a flock of chittering sparrows from one room to the next. When he finally saw Stark, he froze on the edge of the human sea and stared as the man’s scent struck his senses.
Want bloomed and clogged in his veins in an instant. Magazine photos, scopes, and trailing behind from rooftops had not prepared him for in person, close up, and larger than life.
In moments, Stark was gone again with the others and Victor gasped as if the man had taken all the air in the room with him.
Get a grip, asshole – this ain’t tha time fer woolgatherin’ or moonin’. Since Danelek opted t’ die over sayin’ if he sent any-fuckin’-body else after Stark, this stalker game just got upgraded back t’ a mission. Moon an’ play when ya got ‘im in sight an’ can jump in if he needs ya.
Victor belatedly followed the crowd, slipping into the private VIP cocktail lounge without a fuss after security at the doors saw the badge. He found a corner to lurk in and snagged a champagne flute as it went by on a tray to avoid looking too suspicious. Setting his back against a wall, he watched as the ring of skimpily-dressed model types and assorted sycophants re-formed around the man.
Anthony ‘Tony’ Stark, in tha flesh an’ just across tha room – be still my beatin’ loins…
It wasn’t difficult to isolate his scent, but Victor had to stifle a growl at the frustration of all the other scents intruding. Most of them were sharpened into heat, but it wasn’t returned. To his surprise, they didn’t affect him, either – he couldn’t care about any of them, even if they were dripping with it.
He was prepared to disappear if he was about to be spotted, but Stark didn’t look beyond his ring of admirers. They kept putting different glasses in his hand: whiskey, vodka, champagne. He downed them all without a wince as that bright fast-talking voice continued, sharp and sure.
Man’s gotta serious tolerance built up. Victor flagged a waiter down and slapped a considerable amount of cash on his tray folded into the empty flute glass. “That’s fer ya, got it? Ya got any fifty-year-old Glenfiddich at tha bar?”
Eyeing the amount of hundreds in the flute, he answered, “If we don’t, we will, sir – but I’m sure we do.”
“Bring me two highball glasses o’ it, topped off t’ tha twelve ounce mark.”
“Right away, sir.”
While he waited, he took in the sculpted beauty of his mark. The suit was black, its perfect lines obviously bespoke, with a black shirt and red silk tie. When he turned to take another glass, the curve of the tailored jacket showed off the curve of his lower back. He was wearing one of the Bvlgari watches, the blue face with gold; it created a charming color scheme clash. His dark hair was perfectly done – slightly intentionally messy – and the facial hair was a work of art. He was standing barely forty feet away.
“Here you are, sir.”
Victor smirked at the waiter. “From a bottle ‘bout $26 grand, right?”
“It is, yes.”
“Yer gonna go int’ that fray over there an’ give one o’ these t’ Mr. Stark. Don’t tell ‘im who it’s from, kid, or I’ll eat ya. It’s a surprise.”
Victor took both glasses from the tray, and then put one back. “After he takes it, go bring me tha rest o’ that bottle. Off ya go.”
He watched avidly as the waiter approached his target through the crowd. When Stark flashed that white smile and took the highball glass, he leaned in to listen to the kid. Victor stepped behind the column while Stark glanced around. Watching again, he lifted his glass to his lips and drank when Stark did. The vibrant and zesty whiskey held a note of vanilla toffee and gentle smoke. Seeing the delight on the man’s face and scenting his own smell on the glass under Stark’s hand began to sharpen Victor’s low thrumming lust.
By the time he had traded his empty glass for the bottle and gave the waiter thirty grand for it, he held it loosely by the neck between his fingers and drank from it whenever the restlessness surged.
When a new addition to the pack of admirers changed Stark’s scent, Victor did growl – he knew the boy as a member of the paparazzi. The photographer was a pretty blonde twink, maybe twenty-two, and poured into a tux that might have been far too tight in the slacks on purpose. Trying to ignore him, Victor breathed deep to catch the alluring scent of growing heat from Stark’s body whenever he looked at the boy.
So much fer ‘is claims o’ bein’ straight – guess that sycophant Danelek wasn’t makin’ up their tryst after all. Natch, he’s int’ wastin’ ‘is time with fuckin’ twinks.
Stark lifted the highball glass and drained the last of the expensive gift. His throat worked beautifully as he swallowed it before handing it off to the woman in red who had been trying to catch his eye since Victor arrived. He made his apologies about needing facilities and the moment he headed for the men’s room, the twink followed.
Victor had to reach down and adjust his dick before he could move. If this level of stimulus continued without release, it was going to start leaking pre-cum. It was rarely a big enough problem to make him regret his dedication to going commando, but this time he wasn’t, technically.
An extra layer makes it tougher to shift tha thing, though.
Gripping the bottle and growling softly, he shadowed his marks. Stark’s suit made a great frame for his perfect ass, and actually following it in real time began to literally make it difficult to walk. Thoughts of blowing his cover, hitting his knees and gripping the hips with his hands to possess it made his dick throb and his breath catch.
Focus, moron. It ain’t too far-fetched tha twink coulda made a deal with Danelek, or have some other plot underway. Better safe than sorry. If he managed t’ kill tha man, that’d end yer li’l game real quick.
His lust-saturated brain tried to distract him with the idea that he’d still take Stark cold, but that wasn’t anything like what he wanted.
Victor would have followed them in, but the bodyguard intercepted Stark with questions, so he hung back. The man sounded urgent and concerned as he mentioned the suite. Stark had mastered the art of the classy blow-off and disappeared into the men’s room. When the twink tailed him in there, Victor scented him with care.
No weapons, drugs, or poisons on ‘im. Odds are, ‘Iron Man’ can take tha shrimp if he tries anythin’ else. Can’t risk attemptin’ t’ go in past ‘is watch dog an’ get on tha radar.
Neither of them reappeared for a while, and they both looked a little disheveled as they came back out. They parted ways quickly, each of them wearing the smell of the other.
Victor sniffed the air and knew they hadn’t fucked, but he’d bet a fortune they were about to. Grinning, he headed to the elevator before Stark could arrive there.
It was ridiculously simple to use Danelek’s card key and enter his room. He replaced the Do Not Disturb notice before closing the door. Odds are, a maid would bring new bedding, remake the bed, and tidy up without bothering to notice or wonder why if she did, that the mattress was upside down.
Still, better safe than sorry – can’t risk anybody tamperin’ with my ace in tha hole. He went through the room and bathroom quickly, but no scents were present over his own, his prey’s, and the porter’s from before. It was easy to ignore older scents. He yanked at the blankets and pillows over the bare top mattress to make them look fixed up. Tha card key an’ security cameras in tha halls can prove Danelek ain’t been comin’ or goin’ all day, but I don’t plan t’ be here ‘nuff fer that t’ matter.
Once his was open, he operated the device on the remaining connecting door and found himself standing inside number 1803 – Stark’s spacious and opulent suite – in a matter of moments.
Propping the door open with one of Danelek’s shoes just in case, he took another swig from the bottle and then set it on the coffee table in the sitting area. Scenting the place as he went, he headed for the bedroom with his ears pricked up to listen for the doors.
Open suitcases were a temptation, but he only allowed himself to skim over the contents with his palms. He unlocked and opened the windows on both sides of the wide bench seats in the bedroom and the dining area. A diamond-shaped hinge connected to the lock only allowed the window to open five inches.
Leaving Stark’s windows intact, he went back into Danelek’s room and approached one of those. He popped a claw and cut the hinge works from the window closest to the connecting doors. The top hinge would allow it to open enough to be called an escape route, and while it was closed, it appeared to be intact and secure. He had the run of that room to come and go as he pleased, but a window and roof were always a useful way out if anything went wrong, and few things could follow him that way.
Humming the James Bond theme song as he dropped the lanyard on the bed to begin the pile, he took off his dress shoes and socks and carefully shed the Versace suit until he was standing in the jeans and Black Sabbath t-shirt he’d put on under it. With a smirk, he left his phone in the suit jacket and returned barefoot to the connecting door. Glancing down at the shoe to be sure it was in place, he wandered into the kitchen of Stark’s suite and beyond, sniffing and exploring as he went.
He was about to head back to the bedroom when the elevator dinged at a distance and he heard Stark’s voice down the hall.
As they entered the suite, he knew that Stark was drunk and the photographer was only pretending to be. Moving around the large rectangular wood-paneled column to keep out of sight, he smirked at the sound of Stark picking up the bottle of Glenfiddich and drinking from it without a thought.
“We have to hurry,” he told his companion.
“You have to take a moment and relax.”
Stark’s bubbling laugh sounded as they moved to the bedroom; he had carried the bottle with him. Desire clawed at Victor to move, to find a way to watch them. He remained where he was a little longer. Not even five minutes later, the twink came out of the bedroom alone. When he moved to one of the open windows, he lit a cigarette and began to dial on a phone he’d pulled out of his pocket.
Victor could hear Stark drinking in the other room. He went quiet soon after, but he was breathing evenly.
“Hey, I’m in the suite,” the photographer spoke quietly into the phone. “I can get it all, man. I got partial nudes already, and I’ll have the rest in minutes. Action, are you kidding me? How about a few of him sucking me off, maybe even me fucking him, it’s going to be the motherlode – I can just see the headlines now. Yeah, it’s cool. Okay. I’ll call when I’m out. The dude’s wasted. If you want some shots of my jizz dripping out of him, I’ll take one for the team, man. Yeah. Bye.”
Victor’s upper lip lifted in a silent snarl as he began to move. Stalking up behind the fool, he punched him in the side of the head. Catching the phone before it fell, he stuffed it into his jeans pocket as the twink hit hard onto the silver carpet. Grinning, he picked him up and carried him through the connecting door.
Moments after tossing the twink’s phone onto his suit on the bed, he was climbing up the side of the skyscraper in the wind with one arm around the waist of his prey. He dropped the idiot onto the roof at his feet. Razor claws on his toes cut a thigh through the tuxedo slacks. The pain shocked the twink awake. He looked up, saw Victor and screamed. The wind tore the sound away as Victor crouched over him, straddling his legs.
“How do you know me? Who are you? What the fuck!”
“I know yer in tha habit o’ sellin’ photos t’ tha rag mags – but ya picked tha wrong mark t’night, asshole, an’ yer gonna die fer it. Stark’s mine.”
Concerned about Stark’s condition, he didn’t waste any time. The claws of one hand shredded the front of the tuxedo into strips. When the other hand came up and cut into flesh, the screaming resumed, but no one heard him.
Victor yanked out his favorite morsels just in case anyone started shooting at him later, staring down at the life flying away from the shell as he sheared the organs up and swallowed them down. Just because it had Stark’s scent on it, he slashed off the dick and gulped that into his maw, too.
When he rose, he left the body where it was. He half climbed and half slid back to the modified window. Returning to the suite, he straightened, listened, and sniffed. No one had come in. Stark was likely in the same spot and still breathing steadily, but Victor would lay good odds that he’d passed out. Intending to merely make sure he wouldn’t drown if he got sick, he moved quietly into the bedroom.
Victor froze at the sight of Stark sprawled out at the center of the foot of the bed. His feet were dangling over the floor, still in dress shoes, and his pants and boxer briefs were bunched at his ankles. Slowly looking up, he stared at the man who lay nude from the waist down, his hips propped up by pillows, reeking of booze and out solid, at least for the moment. The red tie he’d worn going to the elevator was knotted around Stark’s head as a blindfold. His gaze lingered, drinking in the sight, even though he had seen it all before – from a distance, through a rifle scope.
He’d been paid to kill the man and had shadowed him for weeks out of curiosity, trying to convince himself that he was only finding out all he could about him to learn his habits for a more efficient kill of such a high-profile target. Then came the night on the roof, when he watched through the scope as Tony Stark and a rather limber woman had stumbled through a drunken night of entertaining debauchery. His finger had left the trigger halfway through the slow desecration of the hotel suite and in the morning, he had killed and eaten the new client who had wanted Stark dead. He’d left and moved on, and months later, Stark had disappeared in Afghanistan.
Victor crept closer, retracting his claws as he reached the bed. He went to his knees at Stark’s feet before he knew what he meant to do. Sliding the shoes and socks off, he took the pants and underwear too, and set it all aside. His tongue licked behind one knee and the man stirred and groaned, and then giggled like a kid. The legs spread as the cock lay against the trail of dark hairs running from the navel to its root.
“Come on,” Stark whispered.
Rising up on his knees, Victor moved between his legs. He saw the bottle of lube at the man’s hip and his mouth stretched in a wicked smirk. Scenting him, he was amazed to smell his heat. The cock was growing stiff in defiance of the amount of alcohol he had consumed. The bottle of Glenfiddich was up by the headboard, bone dry.
Slicking his fingers one-handed, he let the cap close with a snap, but Stark didn’t lift his head or try to remove the tie from his eyes. The moment Victor’s broad smooth fingertip touched his body, Stark spread his legs more, trying to shift his hips up. Gently pushing the beautiful thighs wider, Victor got his tongue on him and used it and the finger to begin to work him open. Leaning over him with his thick finger buried, Victor grasped the pretty cock and sucked at the head. It was circumcised as so many were in this modern age, but it was all he wanted – short of simply taking everything else.
Stark was falling in and out of consciousness, but apparently the blindfolding had been his idea. His hands remained limp at the sides of his head as the sounds he made drove Victor’s body mercilessly into a need he could barely control. When Stark gasped, his body lurching, the warm cum filled Victor’s mouth and coated his long tongue. Opening his mouth the moment he released the cock, he licked a smear of Stark’s cum over the back of his wrist. His fingers rubbed it into his furry skin as he watched the man deflate and settle.
An impatient whine sounded from Stark’s lips in the moments after as Victor hesitated. He knew others might arrive to check on their golden goose, especially after the betrayal of Stane. The risk was high, unless he was prepared to kill them. He rose in one smooth motion and gently propped Stark’s body higher up with another pillow to get his feet on the bed. The bent knees had lifted without assistance.
“Hurry, I need it…”
Between one breath and the next, Victor held his rigid and aching cock in his hand. He hadn’t opened that sweet hole enough, and he might not have time. The elevators were all moving; people were walking and talking in the halls. Scowling at the door, he let his dripping cock bob and worked fingers in again, watching that pretty mouth while wishing he could see his eyes.
“Just shove it in,” Stark muttered, half out of his head.
It was almost there. He set his cock in the cleft of Stark’s ass and let it rub what they both wanted, smearing thick pre-cum over the hole. He set the head and began to push in, pulling back slightly to test how loose he was. He bit back a groan as he pushed in again, the snug sweet warmth drawing his retracted foreskin forward and then dragging it back again.
“Hey,” Stark muttered, “we agreed we were both Durex fans – no glove, no love. Wait – did that grow back?” His hips shifted slightly. “You were cut in the men’s room … and half the size… Holy shit…”
His hands began to move fast for the tie but Victor grabbed the wrists. Holding back a growl nearly choked him.
Stark’s fear stink burst around them as his body froze. “Don’t…”
A sharp knock on the door made Victor glare down at the man under him – he was terrified, but trying to hide it. The reaction was familiar – a PTSD trigger swiftly overtaking a strong will.
Voices behind the suite door called his name as they knocked again.
“Tony? We just need to know if you’re all right,” a woman spoke.
Then a man, confident, with an authoritative voice, threatened, “You gave her your other key, Tony – give us an affirmative or we’re going to risk embarrassing you.”
Without releasing his wrists, Victor slid a claw out and pricked the tip against the corner of Stark’s mouth as both permission and warning.
“I … I’m okay, Rhodey. I’m not decent, Pepper, don’t come in here…”
“Okay, but you have to give a speech in twenty minutes.”
“Shake it off,” the man added. “We’ll wait out here.”
Victor lifted the claw when they moved away from the door, but they didn’t go far. For the span of a few thundering heartbeats, he pushed a little more of his aching cockhead into Stark’s trembling body. Teasing himself, he rocked the tip in and out, making the man feel the foreskin move, letting him get a sense of the girth and strength that coiled behind what he could already feel.
“Oh God,” he whispered, “I’m going to be sick. Don’t do this, please…”
The arms pulled against his grip, impressively strong, but still helpless against him. The fingers flexed and fisted, the pretty throat swallowing repeatedly. He wanted to shred the suit to see all of the man, to see the glowing thing he could hear spinning in his chest – but trusting him to not rip off the tie if he let him go was out of the question.
Victor stopped, driven at once by the urge to steal him or to just fuck in deep and use him right here, but he didn’t want to kill the man and if he did either of those things, he knew he could lose control.
Moving the claw to the hollow of the throat, he held it there and carefully backed his cockhead out. It came away with a thin slick pre-cum thread still attached before it broke.
Lifting the claw, he released the wrists but then pricked one of them enough to draw blood. If he didn’t get the warning to freeze, he’d have to knock him out with a fist just like the other man – though perhaps with a bit less force.
Victor let one denim-covered leg press against an inner thigh so he’d know he was right there. He shoved his cock back in the jeans one-handed without fastening the buttonfly and then popped the rest of the claws on fingers and toes. He needed to retrieve the bottle.
Moving to one side without touching him anywhere else and mindful of the lower fangs, Victor leaned over his face, groped for and grabbed the bottle by the neck, and then gently kissed the forehead under the brush of soft dark brunette hair. Stark flinched and nearly cried out.
“Shhhh…” Victor admonished as he backed away and out of the bedroom.
He heard the man grunt and the air moved. When footsteps pelted across the floor, he risked a peek around the corner and saw Stark wrapped in the bedspread as he bolted for the bathroom. That door was slammed and locked seconds before he heard him fall to his knees and throw up.
Moving through the suite, he carried the empty bottle to Danelek’s room, pulling the shoe out of the way of the door with a toe to allow it to shut securely. Holding the bottle in two fingers, he went out through the window. He clung to the wall outside with two feet and one hand. Grinning, he practiced his slider pitch and hurled the empty bottle down into traffic two streets away. Just as he closed the window, he heard the suite door beyond opening from the hall and two people going in.
Good, they’ll see that he’s cared fer. I wonder if he’ll get t’ that speech or blow it off…
Victor raced back up to the roof and returned to his last kill. Standing over it in the wind and looking down on the old Water Tower and then out to the lake beyond, he retracted the claws on one hand and yanked his cock out to jack it hard. He lifted the other wrist up to his face and breathed deep, taking the intoxicating scent of Stark’s cum into his lungs.
He caught his spunk in his palm and licked it clean. Leaving Stark’s to dry on his wrist, he stared at the human offal at his feet – this thing that had dared to touch and threaten what he wanted for himself.
Growling, he picked the corpse up and turned away from Stark’s suite below. He carried it to the front where he held it over the edge of the roof. Aiming for the glass and metal curved awning, he tossed the remains down, satisfied when the near-empty husk still managed to make an Art Deco mess as it hit and damaged the structure over the lobby doors on East Chicago Street.
To a chorus of screams, he went back to the other side of the roof and climbed down the side of the skyscraper fast to get back into Danelek’s room. He went into the bathroom and ran the shower, wetting a few towels slightly and then dropping them at the side of the toilet. Turning off the shower, he took a piss and flushed, just in case anyone in the next room over was paying attention. In addition to the towels, he left a couple of drawers open and pulled a random shirt half out of one and let it hang there.
Slipping the suit back on over his other clothes and donning the lanyard, he tucked the twink’s phone away with his into an inner breast pocket of the jacket. Can’t do much ‘bout tha lack o’ a suitcase, but these inventor types are eccentric, so who gives a fuck?
He wanted to leave the device on the connecting door, but if Stark reported his mysterious visitor when the cops started investigating the corpse tossed from the roof, that would be the first thing they checked. He could always use a claw to get back into the suite later. Danelek had this room until the day after the conference was over, but by then Stark would be gone anyway.
“Come on, sweetheart,” he whispered to the device, “yer comin’ with me.” Disengaging and collapsing it, he slipped it into a pants pocket of his suit and made sure the door was securely locked.
Yanking the Do Not Disturb sign off the door, he tossed it onto the bed. It was time to let the maid tidy up. Pocketing the card key, he went through the hotel at a languid pace, affecting boredom, and headed to the valet stand outside. Retrieving his car, he drove off for home with the scent of his exquisite muse drying on his skin.
~ ~ ~
By the time he reached home, showered, and pulled both phones from the jacket pocket, his began to ring. He stared with narrowing eyes at Stark’s contact photo when he checked the screen.
Ain’t no way he knows who… He took a breath and aimed for a breezy tone. “It’s yer nickel – shoot, flyboy.”
“I need your unique professional advice.” He sounded badly shaken, but anger was beginning to color his tone, too.
“What, ya wanna know how t’ fillet scum?”
“Close. I’m in Chicago. We have a serial killer on our hands, according to the police, and I want advice on how to find him. I’ve had a lot more practice on terrorists and I figure it takes one to know one, so I’m asking the only serial murderer I know.”
“How’d ya know it’s a male?”
“I think … he was in my room. I was with a friend, who disappeared, only to show up as a red smear on the awning of the hotel. Trust me when I say, this mad I’m building is getting very personal.”
“Ain’t really yer scene, hero. Serious overkill: ya don’t use a flyin’ tank t’ find a needle in a haystack, or shoot roaches with missiles.”
“I plan to use just enough kill, and I did mention being accostumed to an entirely different sort of adversary. He uses a knife: short, curved blade. Advice, right this minute, or I’m hanging up. I have to stop this killer – somehow.”
“Well, ya could just ask nicely.”
“Explain that, right the hell now – where are you?”
“New York, if ya must know, but willin’ t’ help ya out. Tha news went national on it, but I didn’t know ya were in tha Windy City. I can go out there an’ hunt down yer killer, catch an’ stop ‘im fer ya. Right down my alley.”
“I wanted advice, not a team-up. Most of the victims were missing organs, by the way – I’d better not find out you had something to do with this.”
“My arms ain’t that long an’ I kill fer money, remember? Pretty high-dollar too, if I do say so myself. What’s yer victim pool, Joe Blow an’ Crackhead Jim? No profit in it, boy. Now if ya want real help, take my generous offer – if ya don’t, feel free t’ waste yer own time diggin’ in that haystack. All ya gotta do fer me is tell me where I can catch tha bastard’s scent – tha prob’ll be over in one fuckin’ night. So am I flyin’ there, or am I leavin’ ya t’ fig it out an’ goin’ off t’ Europe on schedule like I planned?”
“Why would you bother?”
Victor sighed and let him hear it. “Cuz it’s lucrative havin’ ya owe me one? Never know when I might need my toaster fixed.”
“Ha ha. Owing you isn’t something I enjoy.”
“Is hoofin’ ‘round tha concrete jungle playin’ gumshoe fer weeks or months in yer iron union suit somethin’ ya enjoy? Ya been awful busy doin’ tha Yank military’s jobs fer ‘em lately. I can cram one night’s hunt int’ my schedule, but I gotta pull up chocks here damn quick, so make a fuckin’ decision.”
“Okay, you’re on, I’ll owe you one, but I am not going to meet with you anywhere. The trail starts on the roof of the Park Hyatt hotel. How will I know you actually got the killer?”
“Unless ya want me t’ bring ya a severed head, guess yer gonna hafta take no more murders as proof. No more like tha current batch, anyhow. Chicago’s not exactly a peaceful burg.”
“Fine, fine … and Creed?”
“Make it painful.”
“Ooo, I’m impressed, Stark – but I always do.”
“Wait – if he has a phone, camera phone, I need it. It … belonged to my … friend.”
Victor smiled and deliberately spoke as if he’d misunderstood him, just to get him flustered and off-track. “Subtle ya ain’t, flyboy – ya must be crap at poker. Why would yer ‘serial killer’ want compromisin’ snapshots o’ ya? Not tha usual slobberin’ stab-happy motive, ya know. I’ve heard o’ Tucker before he turned up dead in tha newspapers, one o’ Chicago’s worst paps. Did ‘im an’ a buddy run a scam on ya or what? Sure yer not just after me cleanin’ up a mess ya made cuz ya fucked a guy who turned out t’ be paparazzi? Gotta admit, tha roof is a clever touch.”
“That is not … no – no to all of the above. The murders, all over this city, are real. You might have seen it on the actual TV news if you weren’t out creating your own. Newspapers, as in print news? Seriously?”
Victor bristled at the tone and hostility. “Look, I don’t care, just doin’ ya a solid cuz I like tha toys ya make fer me. Whether he’s a chum o’ Tucker’s playin’ ya or a real-live Jack tha Ripper – if he has a phone, I’ll see that ya get it.”
“Okay… Thanks – the sooner the better.”
“No prob, hero. On my way. Yer lucky I hadn’t already left JFK fer Edinburgh. Ya can hang up on me now.”
Victor grinned when the call was severed. He went into the study and set both phones down on his desk next to his laptop. It only took a few minutes to copy the nude photos of Stark’s bottom half to the laptop and then send them to his own phone. He put them in the album marked STARK, where they were the latest, but not the only, deliciously explicit images.
He thumbed through the others for a moment and stopped on one of the man’s bare chest – whole and undamaged. He assumed the fetching T-pattern of lightly dusted dark chest hair was now marred by the device that he’d only clearly seen in photos of the suit.
Growling over not having more time in that hotel room, he leaned back in the chair and brought his wrist up to his nose again. Even after licking it off and showering, he could still smell it – and it made him want more.
On impulse, he hit Google and looked the man up again. Anthony Edward Stark, born May 29, 1970 in Long Island, New York – shit, yer just a damn baby. Went t’ MIT at fifteen, graduated at nineteen with two master’s degrees… Fuck. No wonder yer always hangin’ up on me. Switching over to images, he opened and zoomed in on a close-up of the man’s face. Ain’t never gonna give tha likes o’ me tha time o’ day, are ya, pretty boy? Sure wanted a dick in yer ass, though, even after ya got yers sucked off. So much fer tha theory that ya only bottom t’ get a guy t’ suck ya. A slow grin stretched his lips over his teeth. I owe Perrin twenty bucks.
~ ~ ~
Victor woke in a cold sweat before dawn and lay panting in tangled and torn sheets. He reached for his phone on the nightstand, but stopped before calling anyone, realizing he had nothing to say to any of them. Snarling, he hit one number. It had been more than enough time to pretend he’d arrived from New York. As the ringtone sounded, he wondered if Stark would even answer it, especially if he saw it was him. When it did pick up, Victor laid back and tried to relax.
“Creed? Do you have any idea what time it isn’t?”
“Landed, just got t’ my digs. Ya sure ‘bout that ‘no meetin’ up’ bullshit? A man does ‘nother man a favor…”
“Can’t be seen hobnobbing with you,” Stark answered, half whisper, half mutter.
“Still in bed, huh? Gotta woman there?”
“No. Was there a point to this?”
Victor frowned, stifling a sigh. “Just tellin’ ya I got here – call it a professional heads-up, assassin t’ hero. I’ll do yer dirty work fer ya t’night an’ then head out. If yer lucky, it’ll be months before ya hear from me again.”
“Let’s hope.” He didn’t immediately hang up. Victor remained silent and listened to the man’s breathing. “Do you know why …” he started to ask, and then added, “uh, never mind.”
“Do I know what, flyboy?”
“Are you ever cruel for the hell of it, to people you’re going to kill?”
“That’s a longer answer than yer gonna be awake fer. Meet me fer breakfast an’ I’ll tell ya.” He lifted his wrist to his face again and breathed in the delicious scent.
“I can’t. The conference has a few more days, but the reason I came won’t come out to play…”
A strange little twist of jealousy rippled through him, but he ignored it. “Who’s tha lucky hermit? Ollre?” When he didn’t answer, Victor added, “My intel says he ain’t a joiner like ya are.” He expected Stark to rise to the bait and ask questions, but he didn’t.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to stay here… I might change hotels.”
“Probly be less secure if ya did.”
Stark was silent. Victor could hear him opening a bottle and drinking a lot from it. “The motive, the things he did – they don’t match the rest of the crimes. Maybe the man in my suite wasn’t the same one that killed all of those people. He could have been after … tech.”
“Ya mean yer light-up toy? Seems he’d go right fer it, huh? If he didn’t, what did he do?” He heard Stark drinking again. Surprised tha man can speak clearly. When he realized he could hear him swallow it, his body shivered with fresh lust. “Stark … do ya want me t’ go out there an’ start trackin’ ‘im now?”
“Yes, I do. You’ll know if it’s the right man – I imagine you’ll be able to smell me on him, with the animal senses. Make sure.”
“Tell me what he did.”
“Tell me when it’s done,” Stark countered. “I need … to know it’s done.” The bottle was lifted again, but then the call was severed.
Victor sighed and got up, scrubbing his palms over his face around the fangs. If he made it quick, he could circle the Park Hyatt before it got too light and maybe even go back in for coffee.
Leaves zip time fer a shower an’ scrape. Semi-scruffy it is… All this playactin’ could get annoyin’ if there ain’t no more pay-off. He growled as he went to grab clothes, his coat, and fancy sunglasses.
On his way out, he heard the pitter-patter of Lenusya’s little girl feet at the top of the stairs. “It’s after four in the morning – Victor, where are you going?”
“‘Parently, I just made a promise t’ go out an’ hunt myself.” Glancing up to see her in pink flannel and pig-tails, he winked at her. “Shouldn’t take too long, huh? Go back t’ bed, yer a growin’ girl.”
She shook her head but smiled at his amusement. “Heaven save us from nocturnal restless ferals.”
~ ~ ~
Glad he’d remembered to snag his VIP badge, he entered the Park Hyatt without any trouble, even though he was routed to a side entrance. He had to work on not grinning over the bustle at the front of the main lobby, where all of the yellow crime scene tape hung down like party streamers.
Security was largely an illusion in big fancy hotels, especially with a convention of any sort going on – there were too many people in and out all day and most of the night, with no way to account for them, let alone determine whether they all had a legitimate reason to be there.
Sammy Tucker shoulda never been able t’ get int’ that hoity-toity cocktail party last night, but he’d gotten right next t’ Stark an’ then managed t’ talk ‘im upstairs alone. So much fer tha thick bodyguard an’ whoever tha fuck that military voice belonged t’ that went with tha assistant t’ check on ‘im. Fer that matter, any one o’ those drinks he accepted coulda been poisoned or drugged fer an easier kill. Never scented any o’ that shit, but he was drunk before I got there. Victor shook his head. No wonder these fuckin’ humans are slidin’ down tha evolutionary food chain.
The badge seemed to include an escort up to NoMI on the seventh floor, as if the conference volunteers and hotel staff wanted to protect their honored guests from seeing anything upsetting. Victor didn’t mind, since he had tracked Stark’s scent all the way through to the rooftop bar and restaurant.
“That wooden corner table outside, by tha edge away from tha umbrellas,” he told his volunteer escort. “Tell tha waitress t’ bring me a pot o’ coffee, ton o’ cream, an’ ‘nuff real sugar t’ uncover fuckin’ Tut’s tomb in.”
“Yes, sir, right away.”
He pulled out the backless wooden stool that gave him a clear line of sight on Stark’s profile across the roof under one of the white umbrellas. He was having black coffee and sitting with the pretty ginger assistant.
“Coffee, sir?” the waitress asked. “Is that enough cream and sugar?”
“It’ll do fer a start.”
“I brought a bigger mug, just in case?”
Impressed, he looked at her. She held a huge white ceramic mug that was almost a stein in dark fingers and was actually wearing a little metal Iron Man pin on the lapel of her uniform. She wore her hair in those pretty dreads and had them tied back with a green ribbon. The uniform could have been too big for her, if she wasn’t about halfway through a pregnancy. Her smile was bright and warm and her scent didn’t carry a hint of fear, even after she’d witnessed his pupils turning to black slits in the morning sun.
Victor pulled the metal case from his coat pocket and slipped on the expensive sunglasses, noticing that she paid the show of wealth no attention, either. “Yer a life saver, darlin’. ‘Preciate it.”
She poured the coffee for him with plenty of room for fixings and left him the pot. “Did you want to see a menu? The kitchen can handle just about anything.”
“If they can bring me a plate o’ sushi sans tha rice an’ seaweed, I’ll call it breakfast.”
“I’m sure they can – coming right up.”
“I like yer pin.”
“Aren’t they fun? I’ll bring you one.”
Across the room, the girl finished her breakfast and had coaxed Stark into eating a few morsels from her plate. The man sighed, sipped coffee, and put his chin on his palm to look up at her. Victor could hear them easily through the clinks of silverware on plates and the sounds of the city around the patio.
“Do you know the worst part about hangover mornings?” Stark asked her.
The assistant smiled and Victor could see the man bask in it like a ray of warm sun.
“Someday, your life will flash before your eyes and it’ll be ninety percent static?” Her tone managed an impressive sweet sarcasm.
“No. The worst part is having to do all that work to get a new buzz while people are pestering me and trying to hand me things.”
“It was a menu, they’re supposed to hand you those.”
Victor smirked. The twink’s phone was tucked with his in his coat, but how to get it safely delivered?
A nervous and giggling girl, likely not twenty-one yet, came up to their table and gushed a good morning to Stark with more giggles. He was gracious and then his assistant tactfully hurried her off.
The scent of seafood distracted him and he smiled as his waitress set the heavy plate down. He had forgotten to tell her he could eat a lot, but the plate held quite a pile and variety.
“Here you go,” she told him, brandishing a pin. “Do you want to wear it?”
“Tag me,” he answered, and let her put it in his coat lapel. The little red and gold robot head flashed in the sun. “What’s yer name, darlin’?”
“Bet people give ‘im presents, huh?”
She looked in Stark’s direction. “Some have. His assistant accepts them.”
“This place gotta gift shop?”
“An’ ya get off yer shift when?”
Yvette smiled. “I could go now – if you need more sugar.”
“Suddenly gotta burnin’ need fer it. In a box ‘bout yea big,” he gestured a size for the phone. “Gift bag, too – frilliest an’ girliest thing they got.”
“I’ll be right back. Enjoy the sushi.”
With a sigh, but wanting to avoid excess attention, he ignored the knife and fork on the top of the cloth napkin and dug in, awkward and slow, with the chopsticks she’d brought. He was halfway through it when Yvette returned holding a plastic bag.
Victor gestured with the chopsticks. “Have a sit. Want some coffee?”
“No, I’m good, thanks. How’s the sushi?” She perched on the chair opposite.
“It’s good, but usin’ my claws is easier. Is it girly an’ frilly?”
Smiling, she pulled out the gift bag a little. It was pink and yellow with glitter and gauzy ribbons. “The girliest they had.”
“Hand me tha box.” He put the chopsticks down and fished out the little gray phone, popping it into it. “I’ll let ya do tha rest – it needs a woman’s touch.”
She had sat where her back was to Stark’s table. Putting the box in the gaudy gift bag, she wrapped one of the ribbons around the handles and tied it in a bow. “There’s a card – or is this anonymous?”
“Naw, need t’ sign it. Gotta pen?” He took the pen she handed him from her apron belt, and scrawled ‘CREED’ on the small folded white card. “That’ll do. Thanks, Yvette. Can ya chat a bit? Hate t’ eat alone.”
“Let me make the rounds with the decaf, and then I can come back for a little while.” She swooped in to take his empty plate on one pass and then returned, pouring him more coffee before she sat. “If you want me to take it over to him, I don’t mind.”
“After I leave, that’d be perfect. Congrats on yer condition, huh? Is it yer first?”
“Second, and thank you. Do you have kids?”
Victor smiled. “Just one – month or so.”
“Oh, you poor thing – it can be so hard to travel when they’re that age, especially if you have to leave them at home.”
“Do ya like bein’ a waitress? Or is there somethin’ else ya always wanted t’ do?”
“I like it, but I’d rather have more time with my family. Wouldn’t we all?”
“Hmm…” He fished his wallet out and handed her a business card. “If ya ever wanna talk career opportunities, call that number an’ give my name: Victor Creed.”
She took it. “Ryu Foundation. That’s those huge banks springing up all over.” She took in his coat, jeans, boots, and the yellow t-shirt he wore. It had a swords and antlers coat of arms on it, with a caption in black letters: The Knights Who Say Ni. Smiling, she added, “I would not have guessed a banker would be a Monty Python fan.”
“Takes all kinds,” he responded and smirked. “Ain’t ya glad I didn’t ask ya fer a shrubbery?”
Grinning, she chuckled as she slipped the card into her apron pocket. “I’ll hold onto that. Thank you, Mr. Creed.”
“Call me Victor, darlin’.” He fished out an even grand in cash and stuffed the wallet back in his jeans. “Fer tha bill, an’ tha rest is fer gift delivery. Make sure he sees tha card.”
“Oh my, but – that’s too much…”
“Not at all – yer savin’ me considerable trouble an’ bein’ good comp’ny. Glad t’ meet ya, Yvette. Maybe I’ll see ya ‘round, gonna be in an’ out – don’t be a stranger.”
He got up and headed out quickly while Stark had his head down in folded arms on the table. Out on the street at the front of the hotel, he smirked at the sight of workers as they cleaned the glass of the Armani store windows. The hotel’s janitorial staff was hurrying to strip away the yellow crime scene tape in the wake of the police investigation. The awning was still damaged, but the remains of Sammy Tucker had been taken away and the glass cleaned up.
On impulse, he walked off across the street to one of the benches that faced the Old Water Tower and sat. It took about an hour, but then his phone finally rang.
“How did you manage it that fast?”
“Maybe I don’t want to hear the details…”
“Not gonna give ya none unless ya meet me somewhere.”
“Did you … look at the photos on that phone?”
“Nope. Don’t much care ‘bout yer illicit shenanigans. I’m in it fer tha toys.”
Stark was quiet for a few moments. “Thanks for doing that. Let me know when your toaster needs to be fixed.”
“Will do.” Victor grinned when the phone clicked.
Author’s Note: Due to Tony being born in May 29, 1970 (comicverse info), and this story being based in September 2003, Tony should be thirty-three at this time in my story. I’m ignoring the fact that the first Iron Man movie happened in 2008. For my timeline, that movie’s events happened in 2002 and I’m fudging the rest to blend comicverse Sabretooth and movieverse Tony Stark. I’m also going to be using movieverse details such as brown eyes and Tony being five feet nine inches tall, rather than the blue-eyed and six feet one inches comicverse version. Tony in the Iron Man suit will still be six feet six, the same as Victor. Your brain may hurt less if you don’t think about it too much – it works for me. LOL.
James Bond was created by Ian Fleming. The theme was written by Monty Norman and arranged for soundtracks by John Barry. The joke that is amusing Victor here is from the Bond film Goldfinger, where Bond takes off his scuba suit and he’s wearing a tuxedo underneath it. A bit of trivia knowledge for fellow Bond fans: this switch can be accomplished if a dry-suit is used, not the usual wet-suit. I always wondered about that.
“The Knights Who Say Ni” are characters from Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie. They kept telling King Arthur to get them a shrubbery. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)