Crowded streets are cleared away
One by one
Hollow heroes separate
As they run
You’re so cold
Keep your hand in mine
Wise men wonder while strong men die
Show me how it ends, it’s all right
Show me how defenseless you really are
Satisfied and empty inside
Well that’s all right
Let’s give this another try
If you find your family
Don’t you cry
In this land of make believe
Dead and dry
You’re so cold
but you feel alive
Lay your hand on me
One last time
Show me how it ends, it’s all right
Show me how defenseless you really are
Satisfied and empty inside
Well that’s all right
Let’s give this another try
It’s all right
It’s all right
It’s all right
~ So Cold (Breaking Benjamin)
Victor crouched on top of the concrete buttress at the southern end of the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, California and watched the sun setting over the Pacific. The wind was warm as it tangled his ponytail and made the beads tied into the hair sway around his face.
He’d stashed his sniper rifle behind the lone tree on the side of the hill behind him at the start of the bridge, but several cars still honked as they passed him. Whether they were startled over seeing him there or alarmed he might jump (or hoping he would) he didn’t know and didn’t care.
The job at the Point Sur Naval Facility, which had been derelict for almost twenty years, had been easy and boring, and on impulse, he’d just started walking along Pacific Coast Highway 1. The bridge had been a target to aim at but the farther away from both his Hummer and Malibu he went, he had to face the fact that he was stalling.
Should probly just get tha hell back t’ LAX an’ forget this fucked up idea. What’re ya waitin’ fer, some neon sign in tha sky that says ‘go fer it’?
He turned to look when he heard a car slowing down. It was a new silver Maserati Spyder convertible, driven by a stunning carrot-top redhead. She had a blue headscarf around her hair. He knew her, though he’d never met her.
“Hello! Are … you okay? Do you need help?” she called out.
Well, fuck me runnin’ – that is Pepper Potts. Victor growled as the sound of a Detroit iron missile came up fast behind her in the dimming twilight. “Step on tha gas or get crunched!” he yelled back, but it was already about to be too late.
Snarling, he jumped without a thought in his head but to protect the woman – just as he’d promised to.
Leaping behind her car, he got there just in time for the speeding blue muscle car to slam his body between the two vehicles. He dug in with his boots to stop the thing from hitting her hard enough to either tumble her off the bridge through the rail or smash her into it with an engine in her lap.
His weight crushed her trunk in and popped the front of her car into the air as the impact shoved all of them forward. Pepper screamed, abruptly finding herself staring at too much of the darkening Pacific as her Maserati was perched on the concrete rail of the bridge.
Victor roared in pain and rage, glaring at the other driver. The Oldsmobile Cutlass was damaged but it was operational enough to be thrown into reverse. He caught the driver’s scent – male, twenty-something, drunk – just before the car turned to get around them and drove off back the way it had come in a cloud of white, sweet-smelling smoke.
Leaning his upper body weight onto the back of Pepper’s Maserati, he managed to keep himself from falling forward or her from toppling down nearly 300 feet. The real challenge was hanging on: without the Adamantium skeleton, he might have been cut in two.
“Get outta tha seat an’ crawl back here, feet on tha bridge!”
“Oh my God, you’re alive?”
“Fuckin’ do it! Rather not find out if tha car’s ‘bout t’ nosedive with ya in it!”
His body was healing fast but it still hurt like shit. By the time she managed to obey, he didn’t look nearly as gory as he had.
“I thought you were sitting there to jump off the bridge… Oh, God, I’m so sorry! My purse, my phone, I can call 911 – it’s still in the car!” Looking at his injuries through the ripped up shirt, she gasped when she saw them healing in front of her eyes. “What is…? How are you doing that?”
“Talent.” He licked the blood off his lips that had burst from his mouth on impact. “See that cut in tha buttress, under where I was? Tha bench? Stand there, outta tha road.”
When he felt he could handle it, he lifted his weight a little to see if the car would topple. It didn’t move.
“Gonna get yer car down.” He didn’t blame her for looking confused.
“But you’re hurt, you’re … crushed in the … middle…”
She started forward again with ‘I have to help’ face, until he growled at her, showing teeth.
“Put those pretty legs against that bench an’ don’t move ‘til I say ya can.”
Victor turned his body and eased his full weight back onto his boots. Walking to the rail with a slight limp that disappeared by the time he got there, he put his arms under the car and lifted it, pushing to roll it back away from the edge. He gritted his teeth over the pain, not wanting to inspire her Good Samaritan shtick any further.
Ignoring her stare, he sniffed and saw that the moron had parked his Cutlass on the opposite side of the bridge, where tourists could stop to take photos. Odds were, his plan for a hit-and-run had been vetoed by the damage to his muscle car.
“Oh, my…” Pepper whispered, as he put her car down.
“Now ya can move. Get in, drive over there where he is an’ wait fer me – before ‘nother car hits us.”
The Maserati didn’t sound too bad when she drove off the bridge, even though the bloody back end was a goner. Feeling the buzz of healing fade, he dropped into a crouch and loped on all-fours across the highway to retrieve his rifle. Letting a few cars pass, he rushed back to the infamous Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s number one.
Her eyes were wide with shock as he approached and swung the rifle off his back from its strap to lean it upright in her passenger seat next to her purse.
The Cutlass driver had been about to get out of his car, saw Victor, and got back in it.
Smirking, Victor looked down at Pepper. Her blue power suit was only a little rumpled. The headscarf had been blown off her hair to hang around her neck but she didn’t look or smell injured.
“All in one piece, darlin’?”
“I’m okay. My airbags and I now have trust issues…”
“Rear hit an’ mostly hit by me ain’t gonna deploy ‘em. Headrest did its job.”
“You shouldn’t be okay…”
“Never better. Gotta bone t’ pick, though.” He turned to see the other driver’s hand on his ignition key. “Yeah, ya might wanna rethink that, asshole.” The man cowered in the seat with blood from a broken nose running down his face. “Yer radiator’s toast, ya know – I can tell by tha smell o’ that smoke. Guess’n ya thought airbags are fer pussies?”
“Is he hurt?” Pepper called.
Victor sighed, his ears pinning. Witnesses I can’t slash are a real buzzkill. “Now I’m bettin’ tha lady won’t want me t’ kill ya, but ya done pissed me tha fuck off, so get outta tha car.”
He obeyed, shaky drunk, and backed away from Victor. “I’m so sorry, man.” He glanced at Pepper. “Are you okay?”
“She’s fine an’ ya don’t get t’ talk t’ ‘er.” He strode over to the back of the dark blue 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass hardtop. It wasn’t concours or a 1970 442 convertible – cream of the crop – so no real loss. “Yer drunker’n Cooter Brown, though, so yer walkin’ home.”
“It’s probably a loose hose – my car can drive just fine.”
“Sure ‘bout that?”
Growling, he grabbed it by the back end and picked it up. With a twist of his arms and upper body, he threw it. Spinning in a neat barrel roll over the boulders marking the edge, the car flew off the cliff as both of them cried out in shock. Around 280 feet down and quite a distance out, it crashed and rolled some more before coming to a crumpled splashing stop on its collapsed roof, with half of it in the surf.
“Hollywood lies, ya know,” he told them as he watched the waves swamp the wreckage. “They hardly ever explode.” Victor turned, letting his claws slide out. “Get walkin’, Cooter – that way.” He pointed back across the bridge, the direction the idiot had been driving when he hit them.
The man paled, looking like he might fall over and barf, but he wisely ran off instead.
Pepper sank down low in her driver’s seat backwards as he walked back to her car. She was on her knees in the red leather seat to watch him talk to the man and as he took in her figure, he smiled.
Nope, can’t blame ya a bit, Tony. He picked up his rifle and slung it to his back by the strap again. “Are ya sure yer okay t’ drive home?”
“I’m … going to my … boss’s house but – can’t I drop you off somewhere? I mean, you saved my life and I … um…”
Victor smirked at her. “Guess that means yer not mad I crushed yer trunk? I ain’t fittin’ in that li’l Matchbox two-seater, an’ ya probly shouldn’t be seen with me, darlin’. ‘Sides, I was enjoyin’ a breath o’ fresh air an’ view – gonna get back t’ that. Drive safe.”
“Can I ask … who you are?”
“Ya just did.”
Winking at her, he stepped up onto the top of the concrete railing and walked along it back over the bridge. When her car passed him, she waved and drove off toward Malibu. She looked pale and spooked but otherwise no worse for wear. He stopped on the rail ahead of the buttress as the light faded away and stared down at the scarred concrete where her car had landed.
Well, does a flashy redhead count as a sign? Did ya accept that borin’ job an’ haul yer ass all tha way out t’ tha Land o’ Fruits an’ Nuts fer nothin’ or what? Still gotta delivery t’ make – if he ain’t home or won’t answer tha door, just ship tha damn thing t’ tha man an’ call it a done deal.
His clothes were torn and soaked with blood, but he could clean up and change in his room – once he got back to his vehicle. The thought that Stark might have decided he regretted the offer to see him again upon delivery, made him hesitate until he growled.
Pull yer head outta yer ass. Make a fuckin’ choice an’ do it, don’t pussyfoot ‘round like a bloody moonstruck idiot.
Looking back over his shoulder to where he’d thrown the Cutlass, he sighed.
Coulda taken that an’ driven back t’ tha H1; my impulsive nature is gonna ruin ‘nother pair o’ good boots. Then he remembered the moron and licked his lips. Healin’ factor could use a toppin’ off after all that – bet that marinated steak ain’t got too far…
~ ~ ~
No one asked any questions when he walked back up to the Ventana Inn and Spa in the dark from their narrow parking lot off the highway with blood staining his scruffy face and drying on his clothes. He stripped in the suite, showered, shaved around the sideburns, and then stood over his duffel bag with his long hair rolled into the towel on his shoulders to help it dry faster.
Grabbing a new pair of black jeans and setting aside a black Rammstein t-shirt, he started to dress, sitting to put on socks and boots. The treads on them had proven impressively tough after all.
He checked his phone – happy he’d left it in the car, all things considered – but there were no messages, texts, or missed calls from Stark. He’d left plenty for the inventor, spanning over four months since November in New York. It was now March – without a peep of a response.
Time fer wishful mouthwashin’, gettin’ tha mop dry, an’ hittin’ tha road, he thought as he tossed the phone onto the shirt. Figure out where yer goin’ by what exits ya blow past on tha way.
~ ~ ~
Malibu won, but he didn’t get as far as the mansion on the promontory. Not sure if it was habit or melancholy, he ended up at the safe house – the one he had given to Tabitha. From the beachside porch, Stark’s weird UFO house perched on Malibu Point could be seen clearly.
Tabitha’s big black truck wasn’t there, but he didn’t know if she had already left to see their son or if she’d be back soon.
Just to be safe, in case of visiting X-friends, he drove back down the street and parked behind a flower shop. On impulse, he went in and got her white roses in a crystal vase. He stopped back at the truck to pull one out and leave it behind in the cab. Pausing, he set the vase on the seat and unhooked the choker of finger bones and teeth from his neck. Shoving it under the CD case, he carried the roses back to the house.
If she left fer up north, they’ll be dead by tha time she gets back, but it’s ‘sposed t’ be tha thought that counts.
His key was still hidden where he’d left it – under one of the huge boulders at the side of the driveway. He found out she had never changed the locks, and left the vase on the coffee table in the living room.
Resisting the impulse to snoop, he went out back, found his old favorite stout wooden beach chair on the porch, and stared up at the weird structure that capped Malibu Point.
Long before she knew he was there, he heard the truck approaching. He got up out of the chair and waited in front of it, half tempted to just escape along the beach and return to his vehicle.
Her gasp sounded moments after the front door was opened. “Victor? Are you still here?”
She didn’t sound or smell afraid of him – that was something, at least. He listened as she searched the house for him, still tempted to bail, but his boots wouldn’t move. When she burst through the back door and saw him, a bright smile on her face and arms opened wide, the sight of her pierced him and made his heart rate speed up.
“Victor! Oh my God, I’m so glad you waited. I’ve missed you!”
He held her close after she flung herself against him, leaning his head down to scent her golden curls. She wore the type of sundress she’d begun to like in Mexico, with leather sandals. The dress was chiffon, white with yellow marigolds and string straps, almost a miniskirt in front with a flowy length to her knees in back. It clung to her tan figure and gave her that California hippie look – without the flowers in the hair. The diamond earring studs he’d sent for Christmas nearly covered her earlobes. She didn’t fuss to be let go, but he released her before her scent and touch could spark his heat any worse than it already had.
“I’m about to go visit Silas again, leaving tomorrow. I am so happy to see you. Have a seat? Can you stay for a little bit?”
“Was headed back t’ LAX, just sorta … ended up here. Gotta make a delivery but…” His gaze flicked up to Stark’s house. “Maybe I’ll just ship it. Does yer post office let ya mail black market superweapons?” He winked and smirked to lighten his odd statement. Reclaiming the chair, he watched her as she sat in the one next to it.
“Probably not.” She glanced over her shoulder up at Malibu Point. “Something for Iron Man?” When he didn’t reply, she added with a smile, “I figured out this was another safe house on the second day I was here, and one look up there told me why you picked it.”
“Can’t beat tha view.”
“I bet he can top it. I joke about borrowing a cup of sugar just to see what it looks like inside. Have you been in there?”
“I was surprised you gave this house up – even though I read in the fine print that ‘Victoria Sévenat’ gets first dibs to buy it back if I ever want to sell it.” She leaned forward slightly, maybe unaware it showed off her cleavage – which was also tanned. So she had found the sun room… “I don’t mind hearing about him; did you finally get to meet?”
“Saved ‘is ass in tha Arctic Circle – he helped me pull down a Hydra base ‘round their ears in return. Delivery’s a Hydra weapon, experimental I hope, that I said he could have. He said he wanted it.” Victor shrugged. “I was in town on a job.”
“So maybe just head up the hill and ring the doorbell? Or is that crush passé?”
“No, it ain’t – also dead in tha water. Rather not jaw ‘bout it.”
“No problem. Can I get you a drink? The bar came pre-stocked, and I barely touch the stuff.”
“Don’t need nothin’ – can’t stay long.”
Tabitha studied him in silence a moment and then stood up and shucked off the sandals. “Humor me? Ditch the boots. I need sand in my toes.”
He did as she asked and let her lace their fingers for a stroll down the beach. He’d forgotten how short and slender she was.
“How is Silas doing?”
“Fine … but ya know that already – yer up there often ‘nuff.”
“Does it bother you?”
“It ain’t a prob, darlin’.”
“Which means it bothers you…” she whispered.
He stopped and turned to face her. “Only cuz not much changes fer me.”
“Victor, I still –”
“Hush now, babe… Can’t change it, lessen ya change how ya wanna live. If ya wanted that, ya woulda done it by now.”
Tears glittered in her eyes as the world began to darken. “This is so unfair – to you, I mean. I understand why you avoid seeing me. I’m sorry… I wish I knew how it could work.”
“Ya made tha choice ya needed t’ – fer yerself.”
“I miss … having you, being with you. I’m missing out on seeing you with our son…”
“Not sure what diff’rence that makes, long as ya get t’ see ‘im yerself – but if’n it means that much t’ ya … I guess I could meet ya up there sometimes.”
She grabbed him in a tight embrace and laid her cheek against him. “It means the world to me.”
After a moment, he shifted and she let him go. “Can’t do that, darlin’ – just makes me … want stuff I can’t have. Seen too much o’ that lately.”
Tabitha wiped at tears and tried to smile. “I’m sorry.” Lacing her fingers in his again, she turned them to face both the sunset and the house on top of Malibu Point. “Want some friendly unsolicited advice?”
“Rumors are stacked up around the Tin Man up there. I’d bet good money – your money, technically – that he likes girls and boys. Maybe you should give it a try.”
“Kinda hamstrung in tha usual approach – ain’t gonna impress ‘im with my money, that’s fer damn sure.”
“You have a lot more to offer than that, and rich guys never have everything they want – you know that. Use your delivery as an excuse and see how it goes? Try flirting a bit – you are one hell of a sexy devil.”
Smiling down at her, the purr sparked up. She tried not to melt over it, but the fact that she wanted to melt helped him to feel a little better.
“Might could try that, I guess.”
“That’s the spirit.”
They began to walk back to her porch steps. She went up them when he sat on the bottom step, and then she handed him the boots and socks with a little towel to wipe sand off his feet. While he got them back on, she sat on the porch behind him and played with his ponytail.
Victor slumped forward with forearms on his thighs, hands hanging between his knees. Tabitha leaned against his back, her forehead on his hair. The heat between them was banked, but it still burned.
“Sooner or later, I’m going to fall…”
“If’n ya want me t’ catch ya, I will – but it ain’t gonna change nothin’.”
“Tell those boys I’ll see ‘em later – kiss our cub fer me, huh?”
“Ya want tha key I used t’ get in?”
“No. I want you to be able to be here if you want that – anytime. The others don’t come here, I won’t allow it. I haven’t even told them where it is.”
Surprised a little, even though he hadn’t scented any of them in or near the house, he nodded.
“Victor, can I ask you something – about Victoria Sévenat?”
“It’s an alias o’ mine.”
“Your … mother?”
“Yup. That was tha name she gave up t’ become a Creed. Funny ol’ world, ain’t it? If’n she’d picked someone else, whole lotta other folks woulda lived t’ grow old.”
Her little hand gripped his bicep. “I don’t always know how to feel about all that, but I know I’m glad to see you – here and now, as you are. As for them, if they had loved you…”
“Can’t…” he whispered.
“It’s all right, Victor. It’s all right. Just … be okay, please? I try to imagine that you could be happy.”
Victor took her fingers from his arm and held them gently, his thumb rubbing over the knuckles.
“Gotta go, Tabs.”
She moved off his back and stood. “I love the white roses. I counted them, too.”
He stood and leaned down to kiss her curls. “Ya ever change yer mind, ya know where I most often hang my hat.”
“I’ve never seen you in a hat,” she teased, with tears rising in her eyes again. “I’ll see you with Silas – sometime?”
He nodded. “Be safe, Tabitha.”
She watched him as he turned away. He took the beachside path to walk around to the front and replaced the key under the boulder. Hands fisting at his sides, he began to walk away back to his vehicle. Inside it, the single white rose waited. He’d plucked it out of the dozen in order to tell her what he couldn’t say.
He let it sit on the passenger seat as he got in and slammed the door. Just down the street was a crossroad where one path lead to LAX and the other climbed up to Malibu Point. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he stared at the hulk of the crate covered in the black cloth from the Hydra airship. Nestled next to it was the locked case for his sniper rifle.
Tabitha’s encouraging advice, while unaware of all that had happened between him and the inventor, made perfect sense the longer he stared at both hidden weapons.
Facin’ tha man should be easy – just slap a brash rogue mask over tha soft bitch bullshit an’ push all tha buttons ya can reach. Ain’t never had no rep fer bein’ a quitter…
Calling it ‘finding the silver lining’ while Pepper had sighed and frowned, Tony had turned the accidental hole he’d put in his home into a newly-designed and high-powered Stark lift. Finding a better spot for his piano hadn’t been as challenging as finding a replacement piano but it had all worked out for the best.
The moment he landed on the target of the red and gold swirl pattern painted on the lift pad, motion sensors in the suit lit up seconds before a bullet whizzed in front of his faceplate and knocked a chunk out of the corner of the house.
Tony whirled, targeted the threat, and fired a repulsor shot, only to spot his attacker dodging it impossibly fast as the clearly insane fool laughed a very familiar laugh. Adrenaline burst into annoyance.
“Great idea, let’s play ‘shot by accident’ for fun.”
Victor Creed strode out of the dark onto the spotlighted driveway and patted the scope of a sniper rifle with silencer that he held in his giant paw.
“Felt like havin’ me a reminisce; ‘sides, ya need t’ be kept on yer toes.”
“I won’t pretend to be surprised you already know where I live.”
“Yer digs ain’t exactly covert, flyboy. Couldn’t get ya t’ return my calls, again, so I thought I’d ask in person – when are we havin’ that second date? Was it ‘sposed t’ be dinner or a sure thing? Been so long, I plum forgot.”
Tony smiled at the mutant’s arrogant smirk. “I did warn you how unreliable everyone tells me I am. Do you have my pulse device?”
“Not on me. Got it, though. My jet’s at LAX.”
“Well, in that case, there is no time like the present. Want a lift? This is a lift.”
“Long as there’s a bed at tha other end.” Victor walked up to stand in front of him.
“Can I haggle you down to a couch? It’s a really great couch.”
His guest growled when the opaque walls of energy formed a tube around them for the trip down. He had a trapped look about him as he watched the holes seal in the floors above them as they went. It gave Tony a wicked idea.
As soon as they stepped off the lift, the mutant walked away from it to lean the rifle against the wall by the driveway ramp before turning to face him.
Popping the faceplate up and grinning at him, Tony grabbed his wrists, pulled them over his head, and used the suit to push his powerful body against the wall beside his weapon. With the repulsor rockets on his boots, he was a match in height to the growling and glaring assassin.
Studying the feral features of the wild thing he’d caught, Tony leaned in to whisper in the twitching pointed ear, “I thought having a tiger by the tail was just an expression.” The thrum of the purr began as Tony moved in and kissed him. The suit started to feel alarmingly too tight downstairs with impressive speed.
“Ain’t got in my tail yet,” Victor answered with that low rasp. “Gotta trap door fer that fuckin’ sweet cock?”
“Such a mouth on you,” Tony admonished. He shifted the wrists to pin both in one armored hand and used the other to palm the straining stiff monster in the mutant’s jeans. “While I’m as tall as and heavier than, maybe I should just keep you pinned right here.” He squeezed the thick cock and wrung a groan out of his captive. “What if I just want to kiss and grope you until you come in your pants?”
“Do whatever tha hell ya want t’ me, Stark.” The purr modulated lower, vibrating in Tony’s groin.
Pressing closer into him, Tony gave him the suit for friction to rub himself against. Lifting his free hand, he held two of the armored fingers up to the soft lips. He couldn’t help a little moan as Victor’s mouth opened, allowing him to press the fingers in. The mouth and tongue began to do things that would have felt amazing on his skin, on his dick – but denying himself that sensation was almost as hot as receiving it would be.
He’s skittish about the suit – but he’s letting me do this. We need to be naked, yesterday.
When the suit’s sensors detected the mutant’s desperate rubbing as an attack and sounded a warning in his ears, Tony chuckled. The softly glowing amber cat eyes were watching him. JARVIS spoke inside the helmet and he knew Victor could hear it.
“Sir, shall we contain this threat? This person is a felon, wanted internationally for –”
“Not now, JARVIS – this felon is wanted right here.” Deliberately getting too close to the serrated inner edge of a lower fang as he removed his fingers, he shifted the hand to press against and grip the mutant’s throat. “What should I do with you, Victor?”
“Came here t’ fuck – an’ get fucked.”
He moved fast for the fun of it, released him as he stepped back, and then grabbed him bodily and threw him to the couch a tidy bunch of yards away. When he landed, it was an afterthought to wonder if the couch could take it but it managed just fine.
Victor had growled in surprise but it turned into hunger in short order.
“Strip, I’ll be right there.” He moved to stand on his mark so that the machines could get him out of the suit.
They watched each other as the mutant pulled off clothes and the machines removed metal. When it all sank into the floor and he had escaped the ballistic mesh jumpsuit, he toed off his tennis shoes, hopped to get out of socks, and stopped to stare at the smirking furry behemoth lying naked on his couch.
“Honey, I’m home,” he murmured as he approached.
Victor sat up as Tony sank down beside him and he gasped as the mutant held his face and kissed him, gentle and slow. When he broke it, he lowered his forehead to Tony’s shoulder.
Not sure how to proceed from there, Tony let just let him do it.
“Ain’t been sleepin’ much,” the low voice whispered. “Feels good t’ slow down now an’ then.”
“Can you bunk over? I have the world’s most awesome bed upstairs, downright womb-like.”
“Didn’t even think ya’d lemme in.”
“I don’t usually bring home strays, not furry ones, anyway – but I’ll make an exception for you, Mufasa.”
That got him a light snort of amusement but it was clear that his guest had had a hard time of it lately. He laid a hand over the sideburn, his thumb carefully taking the liberty of stroking the smooth front edge of a wickedly long fang – the one that had been shot off saving Tony’s life, the second time. The low purr sparked by the touch made him ache for more. The mutant’s body was tense, as if he’d held it that way for days.
Tony leaned in to whisper in his ear, “Get on your belly for me, Victor.”
When he picked up his head and flashed that smirk, Tony knew it had been the right call.
He stood to get clear and the frame of the couch shuddered as the man turned and fell on it on his stomach.
Letting the vision inspire him of Victor trying to be patient as he lay there, exposed and observed, Tony began to strip out of his t-shirt slowly. A breath later, he yanked the jeans and underwear off at once. Patience was about to be defeated by pure lust.
Fetching the bottle of lube he’d left on the counter the night before, he stuffed his knee between Victor’s hip and the back of the couch and straddled him.
“Try not to claw the furniture.”
“Don’t need that goop.”
“I need it. Be good.”
Victor chuckled. “Ya know I’m good, that’s why ya lemme in.”
Tony didn’t answer. Slicking up his cock, he snapped the top closed and set the bottle on the coffee table. Fingers spread him to expose what he wanted. He knew this man didn’t need him to be careful or even to take the time to open him up – a lesson in futility, since it wouldn’t stay that way.
One foot on the floor, he pushed in and didn’t stop as the body under him reacted like he’d been hit by a mild electrical shock. Moving the blonde winding ponytail out of his way, Tony lay stretched out over the broad back bisected by fur and began to thrust, strong and smooth.
“You’re probably going to make my Durex stock plummet,” he told the mutant.
“Don’t need that neither – I’m on tha pill.” His claws were out but he was gamely trying not to put them in the couch.
Tony lost himself in just taking his pleasure, having learned it was what Victor liked. It wasn’t generally his style to be rough – another thing Victor liked – but his guest was so keyed up that he doubted it would be necessary.
“Give me a head’s up if Pepper comes down – before she actually does it,” he told JARVIS.
“I’ll keep a nostril open but I’m a little busy right now,” Victor replied.
He snarled and jerked his head up when the AI voice answered from the air. It was almost an eight-second ride.
“Of course, sir – Miss Potts is in the library at present. She did say she would like to speak with you.”
“Later, okay? Pass it on? I’m … ah … working.” Tony kissed Victor’s muscular back and tried to stroke smooth the raised hackles running down his spine. “That’s JARVIS again – he runs the house.”
“That’s nuts. Why’d ya need a talkin’ house?”
“I don’t get out much? My child therapist said I have trouble bonding with humans and prefer machines for company. If only he could see me now.” Tony pulled back and out, smiling at the growl he knew he’d get. “Four on the floor, honey, let’s go. I don’t need a pregnant couch. Just push the coffee table over, out of the way.”
The mutant’s growl changed gears again as he moved to obey. Tony rescued the lube but couldn’t save the coffee table before Victor flipped it over so hard that it slid out of the way upside down, scraping the thing up, no doubt.
“Oops,” Victor said and chuckled.
With a sigh, Tony tossed the lube onto the couch.
When Victor assumed the position, the ponytail swung down and pooled on the floor. Wasting no time, Tony got on his knees and pushed back inside. When he reached around the hip and gripped the hard thick cock in his hand, Victor almost buckled and growled lower with hunger.
“I forgot how big you are.” Grinning at the snort he got, he amended, “All of you, I mean. I can barely reach all the toys at once.”
“More challenge than yer latest skivvies model, I bet – ‘Cristiano Torres’, gimme a break.”
“Don’t be jealous, honey – everybody loves Brazil.”
Afraid he might lose it too soon, he slowed his thrusts and jacked Victor harder.
“I’m a ‘danger whore’, remember? You are the ultimate good time.” Taking a peek around at him, he watched the heavy lower jaw extend open as his elbows started to bend. “That’s a great idea – head down on the floor for me, kitty. Open wide…”
The hiss sounding under him didn’t surprise him as Victor obeyed; it was part of the thrill that he fought being dominated at every step, no matter how much his body craved it. The change in posture nearly did Tony in, too.
When he’d realized months ago that the healing factor would always make the sweet spot as tight as the first time, he had to get quietly drunk because the mutant had been in the wind and slender pretty Brazilian models just didn’t measure up.
“Can’t…” Victor said, his huge body starting to tremble. “Need…”
Tony kissed the ribs he could reach and felt his balls go tight. The man’s habit of asking for permission to come was going to make him lose it.
“Do it,” Tony whispered over his skin. “Ah damn, you feel so good…”
He squeezed the cock in his hand tighter and when it began to come, the thing almost tore itself out of his grip.
Tony thrust harder, letting the insane pleasure heat his skin. He wasn’t admonished to do this or be careful of that – Victor meant it when he told him to do whatever he wanted to him.
The moment Victor snarled and cursed as his orgasm ended, Tony’s hit him hard.
“Don’t move,” he spoke between panting breaths, “be still and let it happen. Oh, God…”
It pulsed through him, turning his muscles to water in its wake. When it was over, he felt a little dizzy.
Pulling out with some effort, abruptly aware of bruising knees, he struggled up and collapsed onto the couch. As Victor started to move, Tony grinned.
“Stay there.” Predictably, he was growled at. “Head on the floor, ass up and sticky, just like that. I may want to go again. I can’t recover as fast as you but still.” Watching for it, he saw him about to speak and chastised him. “No talking, Victor – but feel free to growl.”
In the end, he couldn’t just sit on the couch and do nothing. Rising to his feet, he began to walk around the feral creature where he crouched with head bowed. Hands stroked skin and fur at random.
Picking up the long ponytail, he wrapped it around his forearm and gave it a yank to make the snarl burst free. Moving behind him, he bent down and stroked the furry balls between the legs.
Underneath, he saw the heavy cock twitch. An unbroken line of pre-cum had dripped, refreshed and ready, and connected the uncut head to the mess beneath him.
Knowing it would both annoy and excite the man, Tony left him there to go to the fridge and get a beer. He leaned on a counter, drank, and waited. The mutant’s obedient and submissive posture, growls and all, was helping him along nicely. He tossed the empty bottle in the recycle bin and returned to stand behind Victor.
“I like you this way,” he told him, his tone casual. “Do you want me to do it again?” He smiled when Victor didn’t answer; he’d remembered the no talking rule, no matter how much the waiting was irritating him. “I guess that’s a no. I could leave you like this and go see what Pepper wanted.”
There was the growl. Leaning down, Tony pushed his index finger inside the mutant’s body, curled it, and stroked it over the prostate.
“You aren’t allowed to come yet.”
Grinning, he worked the powerful body into breaking a sweat. He was hard again and aching to sink in but he waited. Victor could scent his need, his heat as he called it, and Tony knew the smell would add to his torment.
What else? I have to show him a good time…
Looking around, Tony saw his leather belt still in the loops of his jeans. When he went to get it and came back, Victor snarled at him. Hanging it down from his hand, he let the leather brush the skin. He made a loop by sticking the tail through the buckle and got a serious growl when he slipped it over the mutant’s head.
“Don’t move and don’t come.”
He slid the belt tight around the throat, above the choker he still wore. Wrapping the excess around his arm, he gave it a yank. The noises the creature at Victor’s core made had Tony’s dick bobbing in seconds. Unwrapping the leather from his arm, he paid it out over the back and held it as he moved into place.
“Not one muscle. You’re mine as long as you’re in my home, Victor.”
His hand fisted, pulling the leather tight. The bunched muscles of a trembling shoulder that partially trapped the belt was as effective as a come along winch, allowing him to hold the tension steady before he could pull again to tighten it more. When the head thrashed in a short and probably utterly involuntary protest, Tony was fairly sure he could achieve a controllable form of breathplay – aided by basic physics.
Standing behind him, Tony gave Victor a hard slap on his hip. “Lift up a bit – my knees are sore.”
He lined up while fisting his hand with the belt wrapped once around his wrist. Taking a deep breath, he yanked it tighter and shoved his cock deep, all at once.
In an instant, he understood why bullriding was such a dangerous sport. Victor was trying to obey the no movement rule but his instincts had to be shouting at him to fight. No growls told him that the belt was working just fine.
Victor shivered, his muscles trembling as the belt pinched his airway too tight to breathe much at all. The release before helped him to remain where he’d been told to stay, but the cock shoving in and the belt pulling tight had nearly driven him out of his head.
The beast within wanted blood instantly; it didn’t care that this was wanted, that the male proving dominance over him was a rare and prized lover.
His claws punctured the floor as if the concrete was warm butter. It was all he could do to concentrate on so many sensations and primal instincts at once and try to obey. The thick scent of heat and excitement from his lover was greedily sucked into his lungs, along with the smell of sweat and cum from before making it harder to hold back.
The belt tightened again and he thrashed a second time, unable to stop himself, as his airway was shut off. He couldn’t snarl and it drove him mad, yet his own heat was threatening to tear him to pieces. It went on and on, as the hard cock kept punching in and out of his body. The beast would be ready if it got the chance. Claws gouged, his fangs opened and snapped – but nothing under them would bleed.
His ears were pricked back to listen to Tony’s breathing as the need for air and the burning urge to come twisted in his fevered brain.
The gall of Stark was almost shocking – nothing was holding the beast at all except the thinnest thread of desire felt by his inhuman heart to obey, to please this man.
Victor stared out at the floor where the odd machines had removed and stored the metal suit. The beast knew the male thrusting deep, violating them and shaming their power, was just a human – smooth-skinned, soft … helpless. This thing was mere food. He thrashed his head and tried to fight, the claws scoring deep cuts in the floor. The edges of his vision were starting to blur.
Finally, he heard it – the hitch of breath, the deep groan. The cock that had fucked him into a submissive and beaten thing began to shudder as it spouted to fill him again. A hand touched his back, petting the stiff hackles.
“I’m going to let you breathe … when I do, I want you to come.”
Pain in his body, the ache of the need as the cock still thrust inside him, became part of the pain in his mind, far beyond the need for air. Denial of release hurt, driving him deeper into bloodlust. Fear scent, his own, exploded in his nostrils. His jaw dropped and snapped up viciously on air he was still denied.
Skin stopped slapping against skin and the cock drove deep and was held there. The tension on the thing around his neck was released with a rough tug and he sucked in air frantically. It came out as a bloodthirsty snarl. The hands gripped his hips, the body moving the cock inside him.
“Come for me now,” the voice ordered.
Conditioned to obey in these games before this male was born, his cock ignored the hunger for blood as his hips bucked. The pleasure tore its way through him to spit hot on the floor under him as he dropped his head and gasped. Every exhale was a warning growl.
The cock left his body but the hands did not. He snarled at the touch at first but then to his shock, he found that he craved it.
“Shift over, lie down.” The voice was softer, a balm.
“Come on, honey…”
He drew his knees in under him and stalked one bestial gait over before tipping and crashing to his side on the cool concrete floor.
The man sat next to his heaving ribcage with his legs crossed at Victor’s back, the hands still gently stroking him. When they reached to loosen the belt, he growled. The warning ignored, the hands loosened and removed it, tossing it away from them.
“Just breathe, honey – we’re done for now.”
Victor’s fingers slowly curled, the claws on them and on his toes retracting. When he could talk, he had to cough first.
“Yer a fuckin’ danger whore awright… Fuck…”
One of the hands petted over his chest, a fingertip rubbing a nipple. “You love it when I nudge your limits over a bit.”
“A bit? Wanted t’ eat ya near tha end.”
The man clicked his tongue at him. “You trust me.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t.”
Tony chuckled. “Can you walk? I did promise you a womb-like bed.”
“Dunno ‘til we try.”
“Give it a whirl, killer. This floor is hard.”
Victor went still. “I figured … ya’d want me t’ stay down here.”
“What, you’re my dirty little secret? A stray left in the basement with a pile of Little Friskies and some newspaper?”
Tony’s hand covered over Victor’s heightened heart rate as he caught his reluctant gaze.
“I’m not ashamed of you. This is a second date, right? Are you hungry? We probably don’t have any polar bear but there’s always something in the kitchen. They think I never eat. Or was the brief desire to eat me more metaphoric in nature?”
Victor balked for a moment, unsure what to make of that. The man had no idea what he had just survived messing with. Tony had also been outraged – disgusted – over what he’d seen in that restaurant freezer in West Hollywood.
Is he makin’ a … joke? Yer too ragged an’ raw fer this, ya moron, an’ lettin’ ‘im do that was stupid. If ya’d lost control…
As Tony’s slight smile faded, Victor looked away from those mischievous pretty eyes, not even caring if it meant losing some odd sort of challenge he didn’t understand.
“Maybe I should have stopped at, ‘are you hungry’?” His fingers brushed hair out of Victor’s eyes. “Hey, whatever’s going on in there – if it’s an endorphin crash thing or anything… You can tell me.”
Victor glanced back up at him, pupils narrowing in the blue light from his chest. “Not hungry,” he muttered.
A thumb smoothed over his eyebrow. “Bed, then.”
He found he could walk after a few more minutes. They were going to go upstairs to Tony’s bedroom, which wasn’t the back door and being kicked out. He was too nervous to hope but it crept in anyway.
Tony had stood and headed for the door and the stairs beyond the glass wall. Victor managed to come up behind him in time to see him touch the window in a specific pattern and the glass door beside it unlocked and opened. It was too strange to worry about, so he didn’t bother.
Turning two steps up to face him, Tony grabbed the base of his ponytail and hauled him in for a kiss.
“If you’re still a little whoozy, watch your step – I’m addicted to open staircases. There are some upstairs that don’t have handrails. It’s surprising how often people get vertigo on them, even the sober ones.”
Victor couldn’t care about stairs in that moment. The man’s heat was growing strong again and it layered over his grab bag of emotions like fog rolling in to hide a jagged cliff in front of him. Tony turned away to go up the stairs – the perfect lure to make him jump without a thought.
Hoping blindly that Pepper wouldn’t walk out and see them, Tony didn’t pause to show off the house along the way.
He had meant what he said about not being ashamed of the mutant but that didn’t equate to being ready to face Pepper about his latest paramour, what he did for a living, or his lethal factor – least of all his hard-to-ignore gender. She was old hat at cleaning up after his one night stands here at home … but they had all been women. Alas, he was after more than one night. Sooner or later, unless he did hide Victor like a dirty secret, the jig would be up.
The few glances he stole behind him as he led his feral guest through the house showed him a man who was not having the usual ‘in awe’ reaction to their surroundings.
He looks trapped … or waiting to be. He regretted his panic at the Halloween carnival all over again. That SHIELD threat sank in and latched on. Here I am trying to put him at ease with me, while my house, usually quite the babe lair/workaholic sanctuary, is actually giving off a ‘trap’ vibe. Great. Odds were good that he hadn’t heard the last of the ‘why didn’t you call’ cracks, either. Understandable. My grand plan to keep in touch got derailed spectacularly.
Life and work had both been insane since he’d parted company with Victor in November. The trip to see Hank in Westchester to get answers about the feral had been the last slice of free time he had found in the months that followed – not counting one Brazilian. How it had become March was a blur of missions, work, and press.
Not to mention my stellar talent at forgetting to reply to people. Speaking of, I haven’t called Hank back … damn. Now here I am doing my best ‘cool knit hat dangling from a stick’ impression, in the hopes of getting this lion to want to learn the value of consent. Meanwhile, he’s probably wondering if a helicarrier will fit in my driveway. My life is so weird. Sheesh, he’s quiet… It’s downright creepy that someone as big as he is can move that stealthy.
Tony entered his bedroom and made a beeline for the bed, while Victor headed for the window like a man who felt he couldn’t breathe.
There’s that statue pose that first got me curious, in a tent out in a frozen wasteland. Scared to death of you, to be honest, but still all about it – mutant horse cock and all.
That perfect NFL ass he’d once gotten in trouble for lying about coveting was dusted with golden hairs that were soft like fur – because it was fur. Even the long blonde curly mane was the softest hair he had ever dug his fingers into.
With a start, he realized the … hackles … were at half-mast along his spine and forearms.
That means a warning – fear, wary … or anger? My money’s on wary. Hank said he would just ask you things to learn about you but that can wait. First order of business is getting those hackles to relax.
Things he had read in Hank’s medical file on Victor crowded into his thoughts as he admired the exotic creature, but then he pushed scientific curiosity aside and let lust creep back in.
Victor, you are not my type – but maybe I don’t know my type as well as I thought. Damn, that body … that mouth. Here, kitty, kitty…
Author’s Note: Research leads me in odd directions sometimes. For this chapter, I learned what sort of smoke Victor would smell and see from the hit-and-tried-to-run driver’s car and what sort of damage both cars could take and still drive. Most of the locations here are real, as usual. “Tin Man” is yet another Wizard of Oz reference. If you haven’t yet read Redemption in this series, that is where Victor and Tabitha’s story plays out. The car term “concours” refers to the Number 1 condition/value of a car. After that, it’s 2: Excellent, 3: Good, etc.
I’m still playing in the gray area between Iron Man 1 and Iron Man 2 but pretending for timeline purposes that it is a few years prior to 2008. Also, there may be longer delays between chapter updates now due to me being a bit late on updating my other WIP fics. I want to start editing and posting my completed fics as well. They range all over the fandom map. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)