Time, time, time, see what’s become of me
while I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around
leaves are brown
and the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Oh hang on to your hopes, my friend
That’s an easy thing to say but if your hopes should pass away
simply pretend that you can build them again
The grass is high, the fields are ripe
It’s the springtime of my life
Oh … seasons change with the scenery
weaving time in a tapestry
won’t you stop and remember me?
~ Hazy Shade of Winter (Simon and Garfunkel)
Tony woke at the sound of a low and growling voice cursing right next to him in a devastated mess of a camp bed. His predicted hangover swooped in, the headache pounding at his temples and forehead. The glass of the empty bottle was warm at his hip. On the other side of him, the furry fanged monster he’d been copulating with was still very disturbingly real.
For some reason, he had a few of his fingers in his mouth, digging at his jaw with claws out. Another curse and growl, and blood ran down cut fingers.
Well, statistically, the blondes I’ve picked up do tend to be the most trouble…
Tony wanted to roll over and cover his aching head with a pillow, but he couldn’t. The monster wasn’t so scary anymore and seeing him in distress was upsetting.
Huh, social bonding. Son of a bitch. “What are you doing and can I help?” When he got ignored, he decided he wasn’t going to put up with that. He sat up and got growled at for touching the man’s shoulder and loose hair, but he touched anyway. “Victor, stop; talk to me. What are you doing, besides cutting your fingers up?”
One of the amber cat eyes slanted to look at him, the fingers paused. Tony sighed, grasped a wrist gently and gave it a tug. The eye narrowed, but allowed it. Folding like a playing card house a moment later, he slumped where he sat and let Tony bring his hands down to his lap. The mouth and fingers dripped blood a moment until the cuts healed and only the spilled blood on skin and lip remained.
Social bonding experiment, mark 1: it’s bound to work both ways. Okay. Healing factor, so I bet he can’t carry a disease. Good thing, glass half full, since I broke my no barebacking vow already. Here goes…
Tony rose up on his knees, brought his face in close and ignored the growl. When he licked at the blood on the lip, the growl changed. It sounded like an engine switching gears. Lifting the large hand in his, he ran his tongue over the thick fingers and licked the blood drops away.
Looking up at the feral’s face, he refused to allow his body to shudder. He was reasonably sure he wouldn’t hurt him, not intentionally. The fang scratch last night had proven that accidents would have to be watched out for, but still. Holding the hand in his, he pulled it to his chest. The fingers shifted immediately to touch the reactor.
“Tell me what you’re doing, Victor. Let me help.”
“Gotta get tha broken one out.” His voice was barely a whisper. Tony was surprised to hear fear in his tone.
“Why do you need to? Won’t it just heal?”
“A broken fang takes too long t’ fix. Tear it out, let a new one grow in, it’ll be back t’ normal pretty quick.”
“Okay. I’m going to ask a possibly odd question, humor me?” When he got a nod, he asked, “Is it a ‘form and function’ need, or a personal ‘I can’t go out like this’ need? Either is perfectly fine.”
“All right, here’s the thing: I need to apologize to you.”
“What tha fuck fer?”
“For freaking out and not being able to look at you much when you were hurt. I’m not a medical type, trained to deal, none of that. I can fix a lot of stuff, but I couldn’t help you and it made me feel like shit because you’d just saved my life for the second time. So, I’m sorry for that.” Tony took a deep breath. “You broke that off taking bullets for me. I’m not used to people doing that, caring about me. There’s maybe … three people … that do.”
“Harold ‘Happy’ Hogan, my chauffeur/bodyguard, is my number two. Last but not least, there is a very game for adventure colonel, James Rhodes, who puts up with a lot of crap from me and still comes through for me. Three is a depressingly short list.”
“Damn. Even I gotta longer list than that.”
“Don’t rub that in and we’ll get along just fine. What’s the problem and how can I help? I thought those claws could cut anything.”
“Can’t cut it, gotta pull it. I got … issues with pullin’ teeth. It’s too short t’ grab an’ pull an’ I can’t –”
“It’s okay, we’ll figure it out,” Tony broke in. His upset was strange to see. It turned into anger to cover fear so fast that he might have missed it and just recoiled. How many people do that? Most of them, I bet. “So you have issues with this, but I know some of your tools can do the trick, if I help you.”
“If it comes t’ puttin’ pliers in my mouth, ya shouldn’t be within fifty feet o’ me.”
“No pliers, got it. Have you ever had to do this before, alone?”
“How did you do it then?”
“It was long ‘nuff t’ grab. Roughed it up t’ loosen, an’ then yanked.”
“Hmm. The root goes pretty deep, right?”
“Idea. Tools are easier, but this way, you can just use a claw and if it happens again, you can do this, even if you’re alone. May I touch it?”
Tony leaned in to look. He studied the other fang to see what was what and noticed they were serrated on the inside curve.
Ouch. I can’t believe I let him stick my dick in here – can’t believe I’d let him again, either.
Fingertips on the intact fang, he pushed the bottom lip out of his way to feel the root through the gumline. The broken side was the same; the shafts of the roots were housed in their own sockets at a heavier part of the jawbone. Tony felt the jaw move slightly as a shudder struck through the powerful muscles attached to it, but he decided it might be safer not to mention it.
It couldn’t just be a thorn in his paw, had to be one of these nightmarish brute fangs… Well, the thorn pulls always turn the beast into a pet, so here goes. “Do you have any metal wire, strong, maybe a foot of it?”
“Got steel barb wire. Don’t ask.”
“Wasn’t going to. You can cut the barbs off, so good, that’ll work. Fetch me that and if you have any aspirin, I’d bomb a hundred Hydra bases for you.”
“Med kit’s in Tucker’s tent.”
“I could grab that, quick nip over in shoes and fur coat –”
“Tucker’s in there, too, with tha rest o’ ‘em.”
“You can grab that, quick nip over…”
Smiling, the mutant leaned in and kissed him. Tony responded to it without a thought. He gingerly touched one or two of the teeth with the tip of his tongue before Victor pulled away.
“Careful doin’ that – could end up with a forked tongue. Stay warm, I’ll be quick.”
Tony did flop over and drag a pillow onto his head when his companion left the tent. He wasn’t gone long enough for a nap. Victor sat beside him and a hand stroked down his back. Tony winced and grunted when the pads of two fingers slid down his crack and touched his sore sphincter.
Possessively, he thought. “Off-limits please,” he muttered under the pillow.
“Got yer pills, pretty boy.”
That got him up. A bottle of aspirin and a canteen – heaven. “Thanks, honey.”
Victor grunted. “Takin’ off barbs, what else?”
“We only need one.” Tony gulped pills with salted water and watched Victor settle in the chair, naked and unselfconscious, with a coil of barb wire. One shiny claw popped and began to ready the wire. “How did the metal get onto your bones?”
“Weapon X Program, among other freaks. Not a fun experience, any method they’ve used. No idea how they did it, science shit; ya’d probly understand it better’n me. Wasn’t coherent – or sane – fer most o’ it though. Pretty brutal level o’ non-elective surgery from what I’ve gathered.”
“Not a favorite topic?”
“Nope. Foot long?”
“Are ya hungry? Ya gotta get bundled up if ya want tha latrine. Brought in some extra gear o’ Gorman’s, still got tha tags on it. Dunno if ya’d fit ‘is boots.”
“Hungry isn’t the issue.”
“Head splittin’ from booze ain’t never been a prob o’ mine.”
“Jealous, like I said.”
“Ya wouldn’t like it much – can’t get drunk. ‘Spose if I applied myself an’ brought ‘nuff hard sauce, I could try. Never really saw tha point, I guess. Wouldn’t last an’ it don’t fix nothin’.”
“Why do you travel with a case of single malt whiskey, then?”
Victor shrugged. “I like tha taste. Here’s yer wire, whatever tha fuck we’re doin’ with it. Almost afraid t’ ask.”
“Feel free to call me crazy, but you’re going to use your claw to make a hole in the tooth – as close to the jawline as you can get, under the gumline, if you can cope with that. String the wire through, and then you have a handle you can use to loosen and pull it out.”
“Not as crazy as my next idea. I was ‘bout t’ go outside an’ shoot it off.”
“Uh, no, we’re not doing that. This will work; all you need is a way to grip it to pull.”
“Awright, then. Ain’t gotta watch, since yer squeamish.”
“I really appreciate that.” Lying back down, he closed his eyes. His hand brushed Victor’s lower back and on impulse, he stroked the line of longer fur there.
“This is still gonna suck,” Victor muttered. “Talk, huh? Tell me somethin’. Don’t care what.”
“Talk.” Tony rested a forearm over his brow to block the light of heaters, lamp, and reactor. Thoughts on a few ugly revelations concerning Chicago immediately swamped his aching head. Not smart to bring that mess up without the suit on and weapons at the ready… My kingdom for a safer topic? “Oh, I found that leak in corporate sales, as you called it. Fixed that.”
He worked on ignoring the noises going on beside him. The play of the muscles under the fur he was petting reminded him of the bulk of the man he was in bed with, his weight dipping the cot mattress down and making Tony list over a bit.
“I actually do appreciate the whistle-blowing on my stuff,” he added, aware he was starting to babble. “I sleep easier knowing the bad guys don’t have my weapons – when I do manage to sleep, that is.”
They’d slept curled up together after he had gotten blissfully smashed. He’d giggled drunkenly when he realized Victor purred when he fell asleep, woke the man, and grinned as he was groused at and threatened – he could tell the words held no anger.
The ugly truth is, I’m not still in his bed just because I have to be anymore. Also, without the suit on, I can’t do much if I piss him off. Start chunking under-the-bed skeletons at his head and risk getting eaten, or drop it and discuss from a safe distance later. Lost the moral high ground anyway – I knew it was him before I wanted him to suck my toenails off the hard way. The only reason to bring up Chicago now is to ask why. Why he did it, and … why he stopped.
He winced at the sound of the claw boring a hole in the base of the tooth. One of those claws had pricked at the corner of his mouth and dug a shallow puncture into his wrist; he had thought it was a short curved knife. The memory of describing the weapon to the mutant over the phone, asking him to hunt his assailant – it made him angry in the same instant that it made his guts flip.
Do I really need to hear why he did it? Classic stalking escalation. Maybe he stopped because of Pepper and Rhodey? Tony sighed. Fact: I intensely wanted sex with him last night and if honesty matters at all … I know I want more.
The anger faded under a vague feeling of shame and confusion. Yet shame was rare for him and confusion was usually reserved for trying to figure out regular people.
Victor Creed is a far cry from ‘regular’, and there’s still that pesky ‘no armor or weapons’ problem at the moment…
Frowning, not wanting to deal with any of it, he pushed it all away. The next words were out of his mouth before he could marvel at how insane they were.
“If you’re ever in Malibu, you should see my house. As ‘things I’ve dragged home’ goes, you’d take the cake. Of course, if you’ve been stalking me, you’ve probably already seen it…”
He could hear the wire being threaded through the fang stump and the sound made him shudder. He kept his eyes closed and continued to pet the odd but soothingly soft fur. A sickening crack sounded and the muscles under his fingers clenched and shifted as Victor snarled.
“Did you get it?”
Opening his eyes and struggling to sit up, he stared at the broken tooth as it was held out, hanging on the wire like a necklace. The root of it was almost as long as the fangs were and it must have hurt like mad.
“Problem solved. Want some of the aspirin? I guess there isn’t anything really good in there, like codeine; if there is, you have to share with me,” he said, studying the face as the mutant turned to him. Victor looked weirdly lopsided with one bottom fang.
“‘Preciate tha assist,” he muttered. He slung the tooth on the wire into the sled. “Drugs don’t work on me, neither.” They were both quiet a while as the mutant watched him drink from the canteen. When he spoke again, the gruff low voice had softened. “Why’d ya lick my blood?”
“Taking a stab at social bonding?”
“Most folks wouldn’t start there.”
“I’m a ‘take the lion by the horns’ kind of guy.”
“Guess a man willin’ t’ strap homemade rockets t’ ‘is feet would hafta be. Pills workin’ yet?”
“Here, sit in front o’ me.” Victor moved behind him as Tony knee-walked out of his way. He sat with his huge muscled legs on either side of Tony’s hips. “Sit back, ass against my crotch, lean forward.”
“Trust games are so fun with a hangover.”
“Not tryin’ t’ fuck ya. Friend o’ mine used t’ get migraines when she was younger. Taught me how t’ help ‘er.” When Tony leaned forward, the thick fingers came up around his throat, shoulders, and the base of his skull, the broad smooth pads working into his taut muscles.
“Okay, thank her for me later. That feels good.” He set his hands on his thighs and breathed deeply. “Tell me about her.”
“I call ‘er Momma; she’s an old woman now, but known ‘er since she was a kid. She was in a Japanese brothel when we met, a trick baby, lived there all ‘er life. She’d been in trouble fer disobeyin’, got caned fer it often, an’ was ‘sposed t’ wash tha customers an’ make sure they didn’t have no diseases.”
“Um, what? Can I shoot these people?”
“World ain’t got just yer own brand o’ militant baddies, ya know. I’d remind ya this was a long time ago, but fact is that shit is always goin’ on in some dank corner o’ tha globe. Sometimes it’s goin’ on right under folk’s noses in sleepy li’l Yank towns, too. Trick babies been treated like that fer millennia, probly.”
“Geez. This story needs dead creeps. Go on, sorry.”
“Place was jumpin’ that night, but they had no clue what t’ do with me, so they decided t’ feed ‘er t’ me. I don’t do kids. It pissed me off. By tha time I was done with tha assholes that ran tha joint, she became tha new madam. I bought it, my tab eventually made ‘er tha owner, an’ we’re still friends. Ended up lovers, but she was grown by then. So ya got yer dead creeps.”
“I like happy endings. You keep in touch?”
“Yup. She taught me a lot, in bed an’ out.” With a chuckle in Tony’s ear, he added, “She calls me ‘Baby Sweets’. Anybody else tried t’, I’d be wearin’ their guts fer a tie.”
“I’ll stick with ‘honey’.” Tony moved his hands over to the legs that bracketed his. Below the knee, they were covered with more soft blonde fur; the thighs had fur that followed the muscle groups.
“This Pepper – do ya fuck ‘er?”
“Uh, no… It’s complicated.”
“One o’ those, huh? Yeah, I’ve slipped outta tha noose o’ one or two o’ those.”
Breathing in deeply and letting it out slow, Tony felt the tension leaking away under those strong fingers.
My head might have a shot at unclenching after all. “That’s so much better, thanks.”
Victor’s hands dropped down. One slid around to press lightly on his stomach, the other over the arc reactor. He laid his chin on Tony’s shoulder and sighed.
Tony waited for the confining embrace to disturb him, but the feeling faded quickly. The horror of the arc reactor, and himself, being so weak haunted him. The terror of Gorman holding his life in his hands was all too fresh. On the other side of that, what Victor had endured and done to save him, again, abruptly left him feeling weirdly safe.
Wow. I feel safe with the mutant cannibalistic necrophiliac assassin who sexually assaulted me, lied about it to me, and promised to hunt and kill … himself – to help me feel ‘safe’. If JARVIS were hearing this, he’d be all British about it – and Pepper would freak. I’d like to freak – but being close to someone after all that … feels good. Except for my pounding skull – that doesn’t feel good, even if it is less now, but my neck is going to knot up again from the odd cuddle angle…
After a moment, Tony nudged Victor back so he could lean more comfortably against his chest, his head tucked under the mutant’s jaw. His furry couch seemed to think that meant hands off, but Tony took his wrists and put the hands back. He had no idea why the mutant liked to touch the arc reactor so much, but it abruptly bothered him less.
“I hate headaches; hey, if drugs are useless on you, then when they bonded the Adamantium to your bones … oh, God… It has to be heated to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit to melt it to a liquid state for casting… No wonder you can take the punishment that you do and just … deal.”
“Ain’t nothin’ ya need t’ worry ‘bout.”
“I’m still going to say I’m sorry they did that. I had to carry a car battery around in a cave, attached to a magnet in my chest. I still have nightmares, but … I may … pass out on you.”
“I still get ‘em too … just means we’re tough sonsabitches. Plenty folks in tha same sitch gave up an’ took a dirt nap; we’re still here. Sleep it off – I’ll keep watch.”
~ ~ ~
The tongue licking up the side of his throat didn’t bother him as much anymore, either. Taking stock, he noted that the headache was almost gone. Warm breath over his cheek was the only warning he got before soft lips pressed against his. The purr kicked in when he smiled under the kiss. Tony opened his mouth and let the mutant kiss him, deep and soft. When the lips moved to his jaw, he felt the brush of only one thick fang on his skin. He opened his eyes cautiously, happy to discover that the light in the tent didn’t hurt his head.
“I don’t usually do ‘morning after’, did I mention that? It’s actually weird to wake up with the same person I fell asleep with.”
A large hand covered the reactor, dimming the tent until only the orange light of the heaters remained. When it moved, the light was bisected on the tent ceiling by the lips as he kissed the face of it and then licked it.
“That’s new; nobody ever licked it before you came along.” The mutant turned his head and laid it over the reactor. The weight of him pressing his chest down felt confining and comforting at once. Clearly, I’ve gone insane – need to stick to the agenda… “What are we going to do about the alleged Hydra ‘science tech’ base?”
“Gotta figure out where it is, first.” The blonde’s head lifted and he continued his migration down Tony’s body, licking his abdomen along each of the muscles. Fingers kneaded his hip and then worked under him to squeeze his ass.
Tony hissed when a thick finger nudged and pushed inside his body. “That is … okay, ouch … way too tender.”
“Wouldn’t be if ya’d lemme open ya up proper in tha first place.”
“It was so much fun, though.” Tony smiled at the pleased-sounding growl that won him. “Those noises … that really is ridiculously hot. I’m going to end up jerking off to nature shows about lions, now. Your fault.”
“Ain’t gotta jerk nothin’ with me ‘round.”
He was about to answer but yelped instead as he was batted onto his stomach by one huge hand. Fingers spread him and the tongue worked inside.
“Does ‘too tender’ mean ‘go ahead’ where you’re from?”
The tongue withdrew. “Yer dick ain’t gripin’. Get up on all-fours.”
“Hands an’ knees.”
Hesitation got him manhandled into the requested position. “Do I have Mattel tattooed on the back of my neck?”
“Quit yer bitchin’.” The tongue buried itself deep again as a large hand reached around and gripped his hardening dick.
“Crap … that really feels good. Uh … shouldn’t I fly a recon and see if I can spot the base? It’s the fastest way … to find it, oh man…”
His head dropped and he watched the hand working his dick. Silvery metal needles, the points of the claws, peeked out abruptly from fast-healing cuts in those broad blank and smooth fingertips. He didn’t want to think about Chicago. The mission to recover the Hydra tech was better – the mere thought of the claw that had cut the metal cylinder to free the device made him harder.
The mutant’s weight shifted and Tony knew what was about to happen. He tried to care, but it fell apart in his thoughts. Lube-slick fingers joined the tongue and then the tongue licked up his spine. The stretch began and he wondered if it would hurt less than before or more.
“Tony?” The low voice was gruff again, hungry – but at least he was being given the ghost of a choice.
The worry that Victor might ignore it if told no turned into an utterly new hunger, a phenomenon he didn’t want to analyze one bit. Black and white facts were better – no gray area, no problem. Blonde hair covered his back. If the tent was Hell, then the Devil was amazing in bed.
“Do it, I want it … but, go easy, okay?”
His only answer was the thick cock piercing his body. It hurt a little, the burn was there, but he’d taken the time to open him more. Under other circumstances, he’d have been annoyed at the excess of lube, but now he was grateful for it.
“Recon after,” Victor whispered over his back. “Once ya get that shell on, I’m bettin’ that’ll be tha end o’ our date.”
“Don’t talk, honey – just growl at me. That sexy ‘you’re mine, you pretty thing’ growl really gets me there.”
A momentary regret for lost chances, wishing he could have mounted this pretty piece immediately, was quick to fade. Willing was better for a toy like this – safer in the long run, too.
Victor thrust shallow and slow, lazily working the man’s body into a lust to match his. Possessive growls made Stark shiver, as did his tongue on the man’s back and his hand on that luscious cock between trembling legs.
“Could you really do this until I fell dead on my face?”
“Yup. Wanna try fer it?”
“Uh, no, just enjoying the insane thought of it. God, yes, okay, harder…”
Victor snapped his hips and immediately moved his free hand to the reactor to hold the man upright. After a moment, he hauled him up and pinned him against his chest. Instinct sent his open mouth right to the join of shoulder and neck, the tongue licking it.
“Ain’t felt nothin’ like my bite, I bet.” Victor smiled against his skin at the expected fear scent that abruptly mixed with the man’s heat. “We got tha med kit right there an’ I know what I’m doin’.”
Victor chuckled low in his ear and loved the lustful shudder that ran through his bedmate. “Just a love nip – only gonna make three holes right now, be four again soon ‘nuff…”
“Points for grasping the concept of asking first, but…”
“Don’t gotta ask, ya know. Could just take – could breed ya raw an’ bite ya in choice places, drink ya down…” His hand moved from the reactor and his fingers traced the man’s sweating body. “If I didn’t care if ya woke up ever, I’d pop claws an’ start diggin’ fer tha best bits, make ya a fuck an’ a meal at once. Not a fuckin’ thing ya could do t’ stop it.”
The man’s hands fell onto Victor’s thighs, the fingers kneading the muscles as he gasped and trembled.
“Bit o’ a danger whore, ain’t ya, pretty boy?”
“After the jet and Gorman, what you did for me … I may be insane, but I – I trust you…”
“Maybe ya shouldn’t.”
“Do it. When I come, bite… Oh, shit…”
Victor gauged their responses and began to thrust up into him harder, deeper. He set his fangs over the right shoulder and actually felt the man stretch his torso to make them prick his skin. The moment he shouted out and his cum spurted over Victor’s fingers, the fangs sank in. Blood rushed into his mouth and he sucked at it. When he swallowed, he began to cum. Pulling back a fraction, he sliced the bite in again and sucked the blood harder.
Trapped in his embrace, Tony let out a strangled scream, his body writhing against him. Victor withdrew his fangs and set his tongue to the punctures as his hips slowed. All too soon, it was over.
He lifted the man’s body off of his spent cock, heedless of the mess, and laid him down on his side. Curling up against his back and ass, he began to lick gently at the bite wound to clean it. One arm slipped around Tony, the hand pressing to the reactor in his chest. They were both a slick disaster and it would all cool into a tacky glue, but Victor didn’t care. He’d bitten deep enough to scar the man and the wounds had to be tended.
“Any minute now,” Tony whispered, “some stodgy British guy is going to start narrating this. ‘Then the male lion grooms his mate as they’ – uh, something I said?”
Victor reluctantly stopped holding him so tight, the involuntary purr stuttering out in confusion. “Nothin’,” he muttered and went back to licking until the punctures stopped bleeding.
He got up and fetched the medical kit, sitting up away from him to treat and bandage the bite. As soon as it was done, he started to get up, intending to head for the chair.
“Thanks. Hey – sit.” Staring down at the hand that gripped his wrist to prevent him from getting up, Victor sat. The hand tugged lightly. “Come on, relax. I can’t fly after all that without a breather, unless you have a sling in that kit for my ass. I may not be much of a cuddler, but pillow talk is cool. Pillow strategic planning is even better.”
Victor allowed himself to be coaxed into lying next to him on his back. “Ya wanna call yer Girl Friday?”
“I’d have to get up and dig for my phone, hope it’s still where I put it…”
“I put it with mine; it’s in tha lockbox on tha sled. Ya thought o’ everythin’ with that suit, didn’t ya?”
“It pays to be prepared. Can I talk you into fetching it for me?”
With a grunt, Victor got up. He found his keys in the mess on the table and went to the front of the sled. Fishing out both phones, he tossed the keys back on the table. Handing over Tony’s, he sat back down and checked his messages.
“Wow, we have a signal out here?”
“I gotta fancy box out in tha rig that gets me a signal any-damn-where.” After a beat, he glanced over at Tony’s suspicious frown and smirked. “Meant t’ call ya ‘bout it, was gonna blow a whistle an’ everythin’ – then I ended up comin’ out here an’ it became practical t’ wait.”
“Uh-huh. So you went to my suite after I left and caught the thief’s trail?”
“Nope. It cropped up on tha black market like ya said it would. I found tha seller an’ retrieved it. He wouldn’t give up where he got it, though – not fer lack o’ bein’ inspired t’ spill ‘is guts.”
“You are a piece of work.”
“Didn’t mess with yer weird-ass phone – oughta get points fer that.”
As he turned the phone on, Tony tipped a dubious look at him. “Incorrect, but thanks for playing. I have an alert that someone tried to get into it around the time I was unconscious in a seal tunnel. At least we know it wasn’t the seal.”
“Can’t blame a fellow fer tryin’. However tha fuck ya encrypted an’ boobytrapped it impressed tha shit outta me. I gotta laptop that can zap tha unauthorized. We should compare notes sometime.”
“That is highly unlikely.” He twisted the top screen up to reveal silver buttons that Victor hadn’t been able to get to. Holding the now T-shaped device, he hit a speed dial key and put it up to his ear. “Avoiding a video chat, for now…”
“Video chat? What else does it do, fly?”
“I’m not sure that would be practical. Let’s not let her know I have company?”
Victor frowned. “Shuttin’ up.”
“I hope it isn’t three in the morning in Malibu.”
“Ain’t gotta clock on that thing? Bet ya can do tha math fer tha time zones.”
“Funny. Didn’t look, doesn’t matter – she worries.”
“I bet she does.”
“Don’t be jealous, honey.” Tony winked at him, holding up a finger against his lips.
Victor snorted. He scrolled through texts from his banker, replied to one, and then sighed. At the bottom was a text consisting of a typically brief scrawl in German: ‘Kommen wir zurück zu Berlin?’ A week old, he may not even be there by now. This is tha price o’ assumin’ Obinata’s tha only one who texts me. He tapped out with the edge of one finger that he’d be another week and asked where he was.
“Hi,” Tony spoke beside him, his tone turning brighter. “No, not in Greenland now, yes, I left my stuff. They shipped it back there? Okay… Not wild about the vote of confidence, but it is what it is. I’m fine … I promise, I’m … with a friend. Actually, soon, I hope, but there’s something we need to do here first. Ah … Arctic Circle. I’m in a tent. No, we have industrial military heaters, it’s like Shangri-La. Hey, what time is it there? Oh, ouch, sorry… Listen, I got to go, you need way more sleep, I’ll be careful. Um … no one you know? Right. You got it.” He clicked the call off, twisted the screen back down over the buttons one-handed, and tossed the phone onto his stomach.
“If ya wanna be covert ‘bout tha unsavory comp’ny yer keepin’ an’ not make tha skirt worry, cut out tha ‘um’ – dead giveaway.”
“‘Skirt’? Nice misogyny you have there. So recon flights – I’m not keen on running afoul of another power-zapping device. Is my new toy an only child? It sounded like you had some stolen intel before.”
“All that’s in Gorman’s tent next door. Should be tha only one.”
“It’s dark all the time anyway, so I’ll have that for cover.” Picking up the phone again, he sat up with a grunt and fiddled with it.
“Gonna be darker soon. Polar twilight is ‘bout t’ turn int’ polar night.”
“I’m stocked up on munitions, just couldn’t use them on the power I had left. You’re out of Grinch missiles.”
“Stashed others here with a backup launcher, just didn’t have ‘em out there. Got bigger toys in camp – hell, I gotta tank killer mounted on tha rig.”
“So ‘be prepared’ could be our team motto.” Tony was watching him as Victor stared at the blank screen of his phone. “Turn your head that way.”
Victor did, eyebrow arched up, and then growled when the man snapped a photo, wincing from the flash. “What tha fuck are ya doin’?”
“I wanted a picture to put on your contact. The one I got from INTERPOL was grainy.” He checked it. “Ooo, spooky by arc reactor light. I got your fang side.”
“Yer secretly a toddler, ain’t ya?”
“Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, grumpy. You can take one of me. Then you’d have a real photo instead of just cutting my face out of magazines to add to your creepy collage on the wall somewhere, right? Did I make the creepy stalker-killer wall? That would be so much cooler than People’s Sexiest Man Alive.”
“Ain’t gotta wall collage.” Smirking at him, Victor turned on his phone again and found the photo album marked STARK. Holding it up, he scrolled through the images and chuckled as the man fell silent. “Do ya remember any o’ those moments? Ya were drunk fer most o’ ‘em.”
“How did you get that one of me with Pepper?”
“Yer kiddin’, right? Limos, hotels, casinos, red carpets … yer easy t’ catch. Hellfire, yer lucky tha rag mags can’t afford me. Gotta few o’ Girl Friday – usually handin’ ya somethin’ ya wouldn’t take from somebody else.”
“I told you, it’s a … quirk…”
“I sure got ya trained in a hurry t’ lemme hand ya stuff.”
“A survival situation is no place for quirks.”
He fell silent again as Victor fiddled with the phone, held it up, and then gripped his chin in finger and thumb.The long curling metal-coated claws grew right under his nose.
“Say cheese, pretty boy.” The camera snapped and Victor chuckled. “Now that’s a nice one. Tha light glints offa my claws under yer mug just perfect.”
“If I help you destroy this base –”
“Since we started plottin’ strategy, yer technically already agreein’ t’ help, hero. It’s what ya do.”
“You need to promise me you won’t ever hurt Pepper, or anyone else on my list.”
“Awright, done – I promise. Wasn’t plannin’ t’ though. She’s cute, ‘specially in that li’l blue backless frock, all breathless after ya left ‘er unsmooched on that balcony. Don’t blame ya fer it bein’ complicated.”
“That promise better include a ‘paws off’ clause and a ‘claws off’, too.”
“Mmm… Ya staked a claim an’ all, huh? Does she know that?”
“Victor, don’t push me.”
With a grin stretching over his teeth, Victor sidled up close and pulled the man into his chest. “There’s tha iron in yer moniker… I like that, flyboy – like it a lot. Maybe she’s int’ cat tongues an’ danger scenarios … just like ya are.” He licked the side of the man’s face and then pressed his against it. Tony flinched as the camera clicked. Victor laughed when he got backhanded in the chest.
“Most creepy selfie award goes to… Ugh. You psycho killers are all the same.”
Tossing the phone down, Victor moved in closer and kissed him, chuckling when he responded with heat. Pressing his forehead against the smaller man’s, Victor smiled to feel those gifted hands petting the fur on his chest.
“I won’t hurt yer gal, Tony – won’t lick ‘er neither or anythin’ else ya care ‘bout. Matter o’ fact, if I ever catch ‘er in trouble, I’ll fish ‘er outta it fer ya. How’s that?”
“It’s a deal. Uh, listen, this has been a top notch kinky date, but…” He pulled away at the touch of Victor’s hands sliding down his arms. “I really can’t do it again. I don’t need to be able to walk in order to fly, but it helps, you know, later when I do need to walk. You have a schedule to keep, remember? So do I.”
Victor sighed. “Best get outta this wreck o’ a bed, then, or I’m gonna need it too bad.”
“Duty calls? Yeah, okay. I guess I’ll put on the arctic gear of the man who was going to shoot me in the head and go find this frozen latrine.”
Victor got up, opened the trunk, and rooted around for jeans, shirt, and a fresh set of arctic clothing for himself. “Clean clothes over sticky fur, it’s like a dream come true. Lemme scout ‘round tha camp a minute first, then ya can go.”
~ ~ ~
They met up in Gorman’s tent after finishing off the cooked seal in Victor’s. The arctic clothing and boots fit Tony, but he’d have to shed them to wear his metal suit. Victor spread out the map and stolen plans on the table in the nearly empty tent.
“We set up tha base here cuz at tha time it was as good a place as any, havin’ no clue. ‘Spose it was my fault they were too sick an’ tired t’ break camp an’ move later, but fact is, we’re too remote here. I can tear down my tent an’ gear, it all fits on tha sled an’ tha Ugly Pumpkin can pull tha sled behind. Ya salvage what ya want o’ tha rest an’ then I make it look like Hydra hit what’s left. That covers my tracks, since I still ain’t gotta clue who Gorman was workin’ fer.”
“We can use some of the heaters to blow the remains of the camp, save the ordinance for the attack on the Hydra base. I want a couple of the heaters to cannibalize for parts and maybe a few of the other supplies and gear too, especially those pipes by the core boxes.”
“Whatever ya need. Sure ya wanna take tha power zapper int’ tha fray?”
“Oh, we’re taking it. They need a taste of what they did to me.”
Victor growled with lust. “Ya got ‘sexiest man alive’ fer that steely vigilante revenge streak, didn’t ya?”
“No, they cited my playboy aplomb and boyish charms … and my money – not one mention of all the good I’ve done.”
“It’s one step up from a rag mag, ya know. Gonna need ya in tha air, so if ya wanna mount tha thing next t’ tha big gun on my rig, I can work both. Just show me what t’ press or pull.”
Tony nodded. “I can’t carry that thing home … but I do want it. I don’t suppose I could invite you for dinner and have you deliver it?”
“Depends. Are ya a sure thing?”
“I’m often late and told I’m unreliable, but … you tell me.” He reached for Victor’s wrist and put his hand on his crotch.
“Mmm… We could bug out t’morrow, ya know.” His fingers squeezed the erection and pulled a groan out of the man.
“Not going to work. If I let you at me again now, I’ll need crutches. Save it for our second date, honey.”
Victor purred and leaned down. “Kiss me.” He was surprised when he did. It was a kiss that made him want to tear their clothes off, but Tony broke it and wagged a finger at him.
“Behave, Mufasa. We have work to do and a third of a camp to strike and move. Where are we moving it to? This is the spot of the last coordinates I got from JARVIS, right before we were shot down.” He pointed on the map.
“AI in the suit – JARVIS.”
“Oh, that – an’ ya call me creepy. If Skynet happens, I’m blamin’ ya. I think we should try this way, but we don’t wanna be too close.”
“I could do a recon before we move, but if I’m spotted, we lose surprise.”
“They tagged ya flyin’ out from Greenland. Where were ya when they first got ont’ yer six?”
“Then I vote we move no closer than this; unless yer math brain can figure better than my as-tha-crow-flies instincts?”
Tony moved his hand to cover over Victor’s and gripped it. “My math brain agrees with your crow.”
“Ya smell like ya want that dick sucked, ya know that?”
“Do I?” Tony asked, smirking up at him. “We have to break camp … but I bet you’d look amazing on your knees with my balls on your chin.”
“Sweet-talker…” Victor held his gaze when he stepped back and sank to his knees with slow grace. He watched those clever fingers open the white pants and his jeans and pull the pretty cock free. “Fuck my throat like ya did – loved that.”
“You’re going to ruin me for other large predators.” Tony leaned against the table, his hands gripping its edge. “This counts as extreme oral. We should take this show on Fear Factor.”
Victor didn’t answer; he just took the sweet hot flesh into his mouth and began to suck. He used a few tongue tricks to move things along and then flattened his tongue and relaxed his throat. They stared at each other as Tony’s fingers gripped his hair and pushed his hips forward, lodging his dick in Victor’s throat. He gasped and closed his eyes when the rumbling purr began to vibrate it, the deliberate swallows coaxing it deeper.
“Holy … oh, crap… Okay, I am not going to last long here, sorry…”
Hooking a finger into the waistband of the pants, Victor tugged, prompting the man to move. He began to thrust and Victor watched him do it, taking in every detail, every scent, sound, sight and feel of it. When the warm cum spouted, most of it slid right down his throat; Victor kept swallowing, ignoring his need to breathe until it was wrung dry. He couldn’t sit back in the cleated boots, so he just waited for Tony to recover enough to pull out.
The moment he could, Victor stood in one smooth motion, picked the man up to sit him on the table and kissed him. He purred with pleasure when Tony didn’t hesitate over tasting himself in his mouth.
“Hey, your new fang is coming in,” Tony said as soon as Victor let him talk.
Moving his tongue over it cautiously, a pleased gruff purr thrummed in his throat. “‘Bout damn time – hate bein’ lopsided.”
“That doesn’t really hinder your sexy, killer.”
“It don’t, huh?” Victor ducked his head to nuzzle the soft dark hair.
Tony leaned back to refasten his clothes. “Do you know what would make you even sexier?”
“Strikin’ camp an’ gettin’ some actual work done ‘round here?”
Victor fished in his pocket and handed the man a pair of hair ties. “Ponytail an’ braid tha mop, then.” He turned and the purr started up again when Tony finger-combed his hair and started to braid it.
“Beaded bits in it or not in it?”
“Not. So when’s our second date gonna be? Might be hard t’ reach me t’ make plans, dependin’ on where I am.”
“I’ll call; we’ll sort it out. You can probably keep my cell signal box.”
Tony clapped his hands together once and announced, “Okay, we’ll have to just hum the Rocky training montage music for inspiration, but off we go, time to work. After you help the sexual invalid off of the table…” Once he was on his feet, Tony gathered up the map and plans and rolled them back into their tube.
“If ya ain’t suitin’ up right off an’ ya don’t want yer robot packed at tha bottom o’ tha sled, ya want me t’ move it in here fer now?”
“Sounds good; I should get started on building our new pulse weapon while you pack.” Tony picked up his gloves and headgear from the table and started putting them on. He grabbed the tube and faced Victor. “How about helping me gather supplies and tools for that first, out by your rig?”
“Ya point, an’ I’ll haul.”
Once they got sufficient lighting set up around the very aptly named Ugly Pumpkin, Tony got to work. He decided not to ask why Victor had traveled to the Arctic Circle with barb wire, welding tools, and a grab bag of pipes, and simply made good use of them. Heater parts and even hardware from the third tent all got drafted to be welded or bolted in.
Tony had watched the mutant slash the extra tent’s white insulated material away from the framework he’d asked him for, fascinated with the claws and the power of the man wielding them. Then he had quickly looked away from the sight of body parts and wide smears of blood being folded up inside the tent like a padded giant communal shroud. It was an image that might prove difficult to get out of his head. The whole mess had been left where it was after the mutant dismantled the frame and carried the parts to him, and Tony had put some effort into not looking over there again.
Victor’s expression never once changed from that ‘taking care of business’ mild boredom once the chores began. Hell of a dinner date to bring home. Clearly, Rhodey was right – I am certifiable. Focus, build, get it done. Okay…
For vehicle balance and ease of operation, he had matched the pulse weapon to the anti-tank gun mounted over the cab, with the barrels of both sticking through the exo-cage like a pair of horns. By the time only Gorman’s tent was left standing and still intact, the stolen prototype was ready to be used against its creators.
Tony finished up the electrical wiring as Victor dropped his tent case onto the sled and lashed it in.
“I tinkered with your anti-tank gun – made a few improvements – it’s more maneuverable around the exo-cage now.”
Victor looked up at both weapons and grunted. “Bet ya don’t never hafta jiggle tha handle on yer john t’ get tha water t’ quit runnin’, huh?”
Smiling down at him, Tony shook his head. “One, I’m not a plumber, and two, my toilets don’t have handles.”
“Space boy – what a surprise.”
“I need to show you how to operate the pulse weapon. Is that flatbed truck behind Gorman’s tent operational, or did you sabotage everything around here?”
“Naw, it should be. Gonna hafta hotwire it.”
“You didn’t procure the keys?”
“They’re probly inside a corpse by now. Doubt ya wanna go lookin’ fer ‘em in tha tent quesadilla.”
“Ah, no. I don’t.”
“Gimme a minute.”
“Excellent. Crank it up and then hop up here.”
He lost sight of the mutant until the flatbed rumbled to life, and then watched him move to the back of the orange truck where the exo-cage was open, its door fixed to the side by what appeared to be a clip from a dog leash.
Tony gripped the anti-tank gun for balance when his companion’s weight jostled the vehicle. As he expected, Victor hesitated before entering the cage, even though his claws could shred it.
“Are you going to have any issues with being back here? Why have the exo-cage added at all? It’s hardly a standard feature.”
Victor growled. “Neither is tha weapon. Ain’t usually me firin’ tha thing – cage protects personnel I don’t wanna risk.”
“Fair enough. I’m not impugning your courage, manhood, or whatever, cranky. Shelve the growling and let’s get this done.”
The expression on the mutant’s face was caught between surprise and some sort of odd enjoyment. It made Tony chuckle.
If he isn’t used to being snarked at or talked back to, this could be interesting. Warning: learning curves ahead. “Here goes – the basics aren’t much different from your tank killer, and way less involved than that, or the Grinch. This lever moves the barrel, I set it up like a cyclic control stick on a helicopter – do you fly those?”
Tony gripped it. “So aiming at the flatbed … and then one switch flick, a button mash, and presto!”
The pulse weapon fired an invisible burst at the hood and the other truck instantly stalled out and died.
“It don’t fry tha engine or any o’ tha works or wires?”
“No, it causes instant battery drain. Sucks up gigawatts like a Hoover. I can’t wait to take it apart and find out how they did it. Now once it gets unzapped, the battery will be recharged and ready to go, though you would have to go start the truck again.”
“Don’t need it unzapped, just gonna blow it up. Save the juice.”
“Fine, yes – but show me what the reverse sequence should be. Humor me,” he added when Victor raised an eyebrow at him.
“That, this, thumb tha switch up, then press this one t’ unzap.”
“Wow. That’s right.”
Victor smirked at him. “Weapons expert. I may not invent ‘em, but if they shoot fuck-all, I can probly figure out how t’ work ‘em.”
Tony moved out of his way as he looked over both weapons with a critical eye, fingers touching them like a man trying to decide whether or not to buy something he didn’t really need. By the time he stopped, he was purring.
“I take it you approve?”
“Not too shabby.”
Tony rolled his eyes at him. “Destruction of base camp: imminent. Scoot.”
Grinning, Victor jumped down with a speed and grace that defied his bulk. Staring back up at him, he asked, “Does yer sore ass wanna hand down from there, too?”
“Will it malign my image as a heroic badass if I say yes?”
“Yer rep’s safe with me. I was goin’ easy on ya, by tha by – broke a few pelvis bones in my day.”
“It is important to get to know more about a person on successive dates, but in your case, less may be more.”
Tony handed him the welding mask and tools first, and then took his offered hands. He wasn’t surprised when being helped down involved being crushed in a possessive bear hug. Victor used a gloved finger to pull Tony’s mask down more and bent his head to kiss him as the other hand reached to grope his asscheek in the artic pants.
When he could get his mouth back, Tony sighed up at the smirk on the mutant’s face. “It’s official – you’re worse than me in the one-track-mind department.”
“That’s part o’ yer prob; ya got too damn many tracks goin’ at once. I’m relentless, yer distractable.”
“Guilty as charged – but the less you treat me like your new girlfriend, the better we’ll get along.”
“Feel free t’ strap on yer moxie an’ make me yer bitch, flyboy – if ya got tha stones fer it.”
“My stones are hanging out with my kidneys, where it’s warm.”
“Let’s hit it, then; gotta hitch tha sled up. Ya gettin’ gussied in yer tin suit, or packin’ it?”
Tony frowned. He’d wanted back in the suit intensely, but now… “We’re just driving to get safely closer and not risking a reconnaissance flight, so it seems like overkill … for a road trip.”
The smirk stretched wide. “Yes, Tony.” He turned and went back toward Gorman’s tent.
“I can put the heaters in place to blow up the rest of the camp,” he called after Victor.
“Already done. If ya want my coat, it’s on the seat in the cab.”
“I’ll just use your rearview mirror to fix my lipstick, then.”
“Yer pretty ‘nuff without it, but suit yerself.”
“Pretty ‘enough’?” Tony laughed outright when the mutant winked at him before he disappeared into the last tent.
Walking over to the sled, he saw a bit of wire at the bottom of a gap in the man’s thorough packing job. Fishing it out, he pulled up the broken yanked fang that was still strung on it. He slid it off of the wire and tucked it into a pocket of the arctic jacket he wore.
Victor gave him an odd look when he returned with a trunk of Gorman’s, but he didn’t comment on what he could probably smell and Tony didn’t offer any explanations.
“It’s all in here, latched, but not locked.”
“Thanks.” Tony watched as he found a place for it on the sled and then hauled the whole thing around to hitch it up at the back. “How strong are you, just curious?”
When he finished with it, Victor moved to the front of the vehicle and handed Tony the Grinch with a fresh missile loaded in it that he’d leaned against the driver’s door. He put one hand under the bumper and lifted it – and the front of the vehicle, weaponry and all – about three feet into the air. Tossing another wink at him, the mutant let it back down slowly to the snowy ice. As Tony stared, he took the Grinch back and moved off to take aim at the heater inside Gorman’s tent.
“Keys are in tha ignition – move ‘er off a ways, huh? Yer mathematic discretion on how far, I ain’t afraid o’ a li’l walkin’.”
Tony huffed out a breath before he pulled his mask back up over his mouth and headed for the driver’s door. He hung the fur coat over the back of the seat. When he started the Land Rover, the powerful V8 rumbled and set a plastic hula girl dancing on the dashboard. Chuckling, he drove it off to a safe distance. He got out and leaned against it, engine running, to watch the fireworks show.
The tall white figure holding the Grinch got him smiling under the face mask. It’s ‘Revenge of the Yeti’ in 3D. The ice under it cracked as the remains of the camp were blown to ash and bits of shrapnel. Victor had apparently rigged it to go up as a chain reaction started by one hit. I’d like to make tracks before the latrine catches on fire…
He watched the mutant walking toward him with the weapon propped against his broad shoulder, and sighed.
My ass is sore because I’ve been vigorously bonding with my mutant stalker, a contract murderer who gets off on biting me and sucking my blood. A guy who saved my life, twice, and who probably is going to want to do more bonding long before we attack a Hydra base together for a lark. My life is so weird.
As he headed around to the passenger side, his eye caught the corner of the trunk that now held his armor.
If I really wanted to avoid extensive bonding, the suit would be on me, not in there. I guess ‘danger whore’ fits.
Tony was buckled up and ready to go before Victor climbed up to the cab. He stood on the floor of it and half of him disappeared outside as he fiddled with something. He twisted at one point, and Tony found himself staring at the curve of his ass.
He’s no twink, or slinky underwear model – but the man has one damn fine ass. Tony frowned as his thoughts got away from him and nudged his dick awake. Give it up. There may as well be an ‘exit only’ sign tattooed on his tailbone. If trying to make me his new girlfriend is any clue, I’m betting being the boss doesn’t include getting to fuck that NFL-level glorious thing – moxie or not.
As Victor settled behind the wheel and sat on his temptation, Tony glanced at his crotch.
Down, boy. He poisoned and decapitated the last guys who pissed him off. Stay alive, count your blessings, and don’t look a god-like blowjob in the mouth.
His companion took a deep breath as he gripped the wheel. “Somethin’ on yer mind?”
Startled, Tony shook his head. “No, nothing – just cold.”
He got frowned at, but then those thick fingers cranked the heat on. “She’ll warm up fast.”
Victor hadn’t driven off very far, when Tony grabbed the massive fur coat and draped it over him. As the cab finally started to warm up, he took off the goggles and facemask, but kept the fur coat on his lap. A zipper sound caught his attention and he looked over to see Victor opening his arctic jacket. His headgear had been in the cab all day. Tony smiled when he noticed the mutant was wearing a black Motörhead t-shirt that was almost a mirror image of his face.
“Good taste in tunes,” Tony commented. “Did you model for their logo?”
“And the monosyllabic nature resets.” Trying again, he asked, “Favorite tune is Ace of Spades, right?”
“Always preferred Limb from Limb.”
“I wish I could be surprised. I guess the camp destruction will be very authentic, what with the human remains.”
“I don’t do nothin’ halfway.”
Tony watched the orange hood and the insane contrast of the dark snowy world revealed by the lights on the vehicle, and smiled. “All this care to have the white arctic gear and you drive around in a screaming-orange truck with basically a turret, now a pair of them, sticking out of it. You got a D- in stealth, right?”
“Why’d ya paint yer suit red an’ gold no matter what terrain yer in, steath boy?”
Tony smiled. “I like those hotrod colors.”
“Does the hula girl have a name?” All he got for that was a low growl. “Since you don’t seem in the mood to chat, do you have tunes in this rig?”
“Case o’ CDs under yer seat; bet ya can figure out how t’ work a radio. Knock yerself out.”
Tony grabbed the case, popped what turned out to be the Beatles White Album from the impressively modern player and set it on the fur coat draped over his lap. Smiling appreciatively, he thumbed through one of the most eclectic CD collections he’d ever seen.
“I presume when you get past a hundred years old, your taste in tunes can stretch to quite a span. Duke Ellington? Cool.”
“Saw ‘im live at tha Cotton Club in 1930.”
“Definitely cool.” Tony slid it out of the case and popped it into the player. “Will I get growled at again if I put the Beatles in the wrong spot?”
“Ain’t no ‘wrong spot’.”
Smiling again as he put the CD where Ellington’s had been, Tony settled more comfortably with the case beside him and tugged the fur up higher as the notes of It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) added to the general weirdness of the trip. Within four more songs, he was asleep.
Author’s Note: Mufasa is the original Lion King of Disney’s film. The name means “King”. Skynet is the genocidal AI from the Terminator movies, and of course Tony’s quip about “Rocky training montage music” refers to the Rocky boxing movies. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)