Sabretooth: The Hunt – Flipside – Chapter 1 – The Devil Within

I will keep quiet
You won’t even know I’m here
You won’t suspect a thing
You won’t see me in the mirror
But I crept into your heart
You can’t make me disappear
‘Til I make you

I made myself at home
In the cobwebs and the lies
I’m learning all your tricks
I can hurt you from inside
I made myself a promise
You would never see me cry
‘Til I make you

You’ll never know what hit you
Won’t see me closing in
I’m gonna make you suffer
This hell you put me in
I’m underneath your skin
The devil within
You’ll never know what hit you

I will be here
When you think you’re all alone
Seeping through the cracks
I’m the poison in your bones
My love is your disease
I won’t let it set you free
‘Til I break you

You’ll never know what hit you
Won’t see me closing in
I’m gonna make you suffer
This hell you put me in
I’m underneath your skin
The devil within
You’ll never know what hit you

I tried to be the lover to your nightmare
Look what you made of me
Now I’m a heavy burden that you can’t bear
Look what you made of me
I’ll make you see

You’ll never know what hit you
Won’t see me closing in
I’m gonna make you suffer
This hell you put me in
I’m underneath your skin
The devil within
You’ll never know what hit you
The devil within

~ The Devil Within (Digital Daggers, piano version)

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Nightmares of the tank run by two different incarnations of the Weapon X freaks plagued his sleep. A loud noise woke him with a start only to realize it had been his voice screaming. He sat up in shredded and sweat-soaked bedding and couldn’t remember for a moment where he was. Hyper-senses were little help as vestiges of scents from the tank and the nameless men around it clogged his head as compressing time and the nightmare tried to drag him back in.

Trying to calm huffing breaths, he used his eyes since his nose couldn’t tell up from down.

A relatively quiet split-level and expensive suite surrounded him. The Art Deco décor was reduced to a mere clue, far too common in his private spaces.

He could hear an elevator humming at a distance and a multitude of city sounds beyond that, but a considerable effort had been made to mute noise in the place.

Rising from the wreck of the bed, he ignored his jumbled senses and walked to the floor-to-ceiling windows along one side of the bedroom.

New York, New York.

The view from the Ryu Bank penthouse level topped most other buildings around it, and the expanse of Central Park stretched out beyond the glass. The sun was setting.

No recent scents ‘sides cleanin’ staff, an’ Obinata hasn’t been in this buildin’ in weeks.

He breathed in deeply to catch older scents, but the alluring musk of Tony was too faded to soothe him.

Scraps of recent itinerary slowly filtered in. He’d left Tony last in Hawaii before heading for London, Oslo, Istanbul, and New Delhi. The schedule had been stretched to include a quick visit to his favorite village in Nepal, and then the whirlwind had started again with Lhasa, Chongqing, Hanoi, Bangkok, Riyadh, and finally Madrid, before flying to JFK.

The contracts had been fulfilled quickly without trouble and New York had been no exception. He had told Obinata to load him up, and the man had done a bang-up job of it, although the point – keeping his mind off Tony – hadn’t really worked.

Roughly two months ago was the last time he had seen the inventor, after safely delivering rescued mini damsels to Hawaii. Iron Man had shown up on the news in various places, but Tony had only called him once. He had answered a few of Victor’s calls, sometimes drunk, and usually turned them into phone sex.

Was a time, when all I had was mags in a beans box an’ stalkin’ trips, that woulda been more’n I ever expected could happen. Since Malibu, an’ Hawaii, it ain’t ‘nuff.

His hands curled into fists as he remembered talking on the phone with Obinata about the leg of his schedule that was now coming up – while sitting on Tony’s desk. The memory of Tony inside him on it should have burned and filled him with lust. Shaking his head, he pushed the memory away when it didn’t move him.

Quit moonin’ like a li’l bitch. Work, tha schedule, what’s next? Phoenix, Arizona is next, maybe – maybe not. Don’t like tha man much, an’ it’s nothin’ but a favor, ain’t even got it on tha books. Still not keen t’ go from here down there, an’ all tha way back up t’ catch Vermont an’ Montreal. Obinata pushed Montreal back, so I can still stretch my legs in tha Appalachians in-between if’n I want. Won’t be ‘nuff o’ a break after dealin’ with Paganucci.

He growled at the thought of the favor. That particular client was as obnoxious as he was rich.

Meanwhile, I gotta day or few here – oh, goodie. Could leave t’night, pick up that other unscheduled job in Nashville on tha way down south, but I already cut Zane loose t’ go play, an’ he’s bloody earned it. Used t’ have a blast tearin’ up this burg. What tha fuck, asshole.

An insidious restlessness took root whenever he was in the Big Apple now. It wasn’t a mystery, but he preferred to pretend to others that it was. Having to be mindful of running into the likes of Chuck Xavier or his flying monkeys didn’t improve his mood, either.

Had t’ sell that li’l apartment I had after tha Boy Scout an’ tha icicle found it. Can’t never get tha stench o’ X-freaks outta tha carpets.

The contents of that safe house had been moved here – because he didn’t want anyone to go into the brownstone.

Victor stepped closer to the window and frowned at his reflection. His insomnia had gotten worse and when he did sleep, the nightmares tried to tear his tenuous sanity apart.

Last decent sleep I got was Hanoi – that tiny Vietnamese woman, Lien, she rang my bell but good, with skills that woulda put a blush on a high-dollar prostitute’s painted cheeks. Still got no idea if’n she was even fer hire – not that it matters.

She had kept calling him Kim-ly, which meant ‘Golden Lion’. He tried to smile; the pretty young thing had been fun and utterly fearless. Lien was also the first person to effectively take his mind off Tony since he’d left Malibu. He had wasted no time in getting her placed as the caretaker of his new home in Vietnam.

Told Tabitha I wasn’t in tha habit o’ stockin’ my safe houses with tasties t’ fuck – so much fer that. Since Malibu, can’t seem t’ get ‘nuff, an’ if’n it ain’t tha quality o’ Tony, it seems quantity is all that works.

Victor looked through his reflection and out to the park. He didn’t want to see or acknowledge the growing apathy in his eyes. He didn’t want to face the truth: somewhere between Bangkok and Riyadh, he had lost all interest in sex, in hunting, even in killing. The hit in Riyadh – he had been going on instinct alone. When he arrived here, he had rushed to the target to get it done, but he couldn’t care about it.

I could learn t’ hate this city. At least Michel was never here. Is Tabitha in Westchester again? She still owns tha Malibu house I gave ‘er, but ain’t been there fer a bit, or been up t’ tha Yukon house, fer at least two weeks now.

It had been a good while since he had seen her. Being with her was too much, despite what he had promised her.

Gotta face facts – sooner or later, she might could join tha mutant X-militia again. What tha fuck am I gonna do if’n we cross paths in a nasty dust-up with ‘er teammates?

Frowning, he glared out at the city beyond Central Park. He knew what he wouldn’t be doing. He’d already hurt her enough.

If I hadn’t, maybe she wouldn’t have left me. Had no clue how we were gonna end up … an’ dunno how t’ be a ‘good man’. Don’t even know how t’ be a man at all.

Seeing Tabitha at the beach safe house before he took a gamble on going up to Malibu Point had hurt more than he was prepared to cope with.

At least in tha Yukon with ‘er tha once, I had Perrin t’ keep me sane – more or less.

Tabitha still wanted him, but she didn’t want to be his. She was the second woman capable of bearing his cubs to make that choice.

Tony’s always busy. After that row we had in ‘is workshop, an’ tha one on tha fishin’ boat, maybe I know now what he really thinks o’ me, an’ it ain’t good. So he’s too busy fer a reason. Add in tha fact he still wants Pepper – if’n he ever gets ‘er, he’s gonna want me ‘round even less.

His gaze turned to his left. Off to the southwest out of sight, far from the bustle surrounding Central Park, his old brownstone near the Chelsea piers and the Cadillac stored there waited – the apartment upstairs repaired and ready. He had done the repairs to the building himself, early on, when he still thought caring about the girl’s fate would fade. Her scent had lingered there, even after the rain had gotten in through the broken windows. He hadn’t been able to tolerate it for long, and had not returned since.

Bonnie… I couldn’t let ya die in fear an’ pain. Had no idea we didn’t have time. Spent so much o’ it jackin’ with those crazy scientist-soldier dicks – thought I’d fig out how t’ kill ‘em an’ then we’d have tha time t’ see what we coulda become. When ya were gone … wish sometimes those undead assholes coulda beaten me. Woulda spared me a shit-ton o’ grief. He growled again. Wish in one hand, shit in tha other, see which one gets full tha first.

Victor had avoided the brothel he owned upstate for the same reason – Bonnie’s scent would still be there. He’d had his room sealed to make sure of that. While in Istanbul, via phone sex afterglow, Tony had promised to do better about answering his calls and texts; for the last month, his track record was about the same as it often was – radio silence.

Returnin’ t’ Malibu t’ find ‘im like a pathetic whipped cur is flat outta tha question. Got stuck behind tha eight-ball on that. I’m just an exotic toy. A weak-ass bitch toy, t’ boot, if’n he so much as whistles… He don’t want me, though – just scratchin’ an itch. Lotta that goin’ ‘round.

Telling himself it was only for a moment, he let the despair in – knowing it might not leave. It was his first friend, his oldest lover, and at times his closest companion. Giving in to it felt almost good.

Who says ya can’t go home again?

Emotions he’d hoped to tear out of his chest persisted. He was surrounded by places he couldn’t cope with returning to, haunted by those who were beyond his reach. It didn’t really matter in the end whether they were dead or had just walked away.

Claws curled out of his fingers and sliced into his hands as the fists clenched tighter. Blood dripped before it spilled. Retracting the claws, he pressed his hands to the glass to mark it with bloody dripping prints, but even the buzz of the healing felt dull, weak.

Chased away by ghosts … ladies an’ gent, ya gutted me – a man who can’t fuckin’ die. The thought swept in with the crushing loss: I could try…

Victor looked straight down through the glass, imagining the plummet from that height. With a hiss, he let his forehead touch the glass.

Don’t bother, ya fuckin’ idiot; ya can’t even break bones.

He’d been thrown out of a plane over the ocean before. He knew he could drown, but his body always fought. Even injured – if he was bleeding, the sharks would come. They provided protein and he lived to swim to shore, or to claw his way up the side of a ship.

Tha inner beastie wants t’ live. Wish ya’d teach that trick t’ me, ya fuzzy asshole.

He didn’t feel hungry, couldn’t feel the urge to hunt, and even the instinct to rut had left him. It wasn’t a problem of not knowing what he wanted – it was a problem of not wanting anything.

Growling, he went to snatch his phone from the nightstand, wiping blood from healed hands onto the sheets before he picked it up. Work, focus on that. Maybe somethin’ new came in. I can do more…

He wandered back to the window and sank down to sit in front of it under the scarlet handprints as he checked messages. There weren’t many … and none of them were from Tony.

Should drop it, but dunno how. Keep comin’ back t’ tha fact that one day he’ll be gone, but right now … even if he don’t care ‘bout me, if’n he never did … he’s still out there.

Before he could talk himself out of it, he tapped out a text with the side of one finger, growling when it sent before he was ready.

With a grunt, he stretched out to lie on his side and watched the sun get swallowed up. The night, never truly dark to him, tried to distract him and lure him out. Yet thoughts of running in the park and finding things to slaughter didn’t entice him.

What real prey is there, homeless an’ helpless? Drug addicts? Victor sneered. May as well see what mindless shit is on TV. I’d settle fer porn but who cares? Can’t smell tha pussy in tha tube an’ they don’t bleed ‘em.

His phone beeped, and he startled and snarled. He hadn’t expected an answer. It was likely Obinata, checking to see if he had landed in New York. He looked at the screen, intending to ignore the banker’s message.

Tony’s name was there.

Victor hadn’t even remembered what he was trying to send to the man until he saw Tony’s reply, starting off by asking if he had finally managed to get drunk.

Closing his eyes tight, he worked to control his breathing as it quickened. Managing a deep breath, he tried to force his lips into a smile as a tentative relief washed over him. Leave it t’ that bastard t’ make fun o’ my typin’. He knows I got fat fingers on a tiny fuckin’ phone. Then the last line made him hold his breath: ‘Can you talk?’

Victor didn’t bother to reply. Rolling onto his back, he switched out of texts and hit his favorite speed dial. The breezy nothing-is-wrong mask fit right into place – he was getting used to it.

“Where ya at?”

“Somewhere in Pakistan … I think. I’d hate to pronounce the place behind a podium with people staring at me. God, I’m tired. Where are you?”

Victor hesitated as he sank into the bright and fast-talking voice of Tony Stark – but he didn’t care if needing it made him weak; the voice, speaking to him alone, was a lifeline.

“Big Apple. Pakistan ain’t near as much fun. Fly over here.”

“Is this a booty call?” His tone was amused, but there was another note in it Victor couldn’t define.

“Maybe… Would that work?”

“You are adorable. It might, but I can’t. You own a jet – several, I imagine.”

“Can’t, gotta go t’ Brazil in a coupla days, by way o’ Montreal; Middle East detours can really monkey wrench my schedule.”

He couldn’t run over there because Tony Stark whistled for him … even if he wanted to – or needed to.

“Montreal isn’t on the way to Brazil, you realize. Itinerary from Hell, worse than mine. Well … so much for that.” There was a pause but he couldn’t sort out the sounds around the man. “I’d ask what you’re wearing and coax you into purring and growling into the phone for me, but I have to go, killer. People to help, bad guys to stop, you know the drill – my drill, anyway.”

Victor rumbled a purr at him just to keep him on the call longer.

“You are cruel and utterly unfair.”

He knew what Tony wanted – what he kept wanting. He only talked to him to move things in that direction – but he wouldn’t meet. He’d probably only offered knowing Victor couldn’t agree.

“Ain’t wearin’ zip. Just slide yer hand in an’ touch yer dick fer me, Tony.”

“Can’t slide, in the suit. Listen, honey, I have to bail – where are you after Brazil? Europe?”

Swallowing his pride, he rolled the dice. “Where do ya want me t’ be?”

“Damn it – Victor, I’m sorry, time to fly. Beat that thing to my picture and text me later to tell me how good I was, okay?”

Victor started to answer but the call was disconnected. He growled and switched over to the photo album titled STARK. His current favorite picture was of the man asleep on his back in their rumpled resort bed in Hawaii, with the sweat-damp sheet barely covering his hips. Scooting the phone closer, he curled around it and closed his eyes. Exhaustion pulled him down.

For the second time, not even half an hour later, he woke in a sweat from another horrid nightmare. With a hiss, he scooped up his phone, tossed it on the bed and headed to the bathroom to shower. After washing away the grime of travel, he thought of Tony and tried to jack his cock, but Tony wasn’t there and ghosts weren’t enough.

Go out, idiot – make somethin’ either bleed or come. Ya don’t want shit? Who cares.

Traveling light never mattered when he landed in a safe house or one of these penthouses – he always had his own space and kept plenty of clothes and such in each of them.

Hardly looking at what he grabbed to wear, he contained the slightly damp mop in a thick braid and sat to stomp into his boots.

On his way out, he snagged the black satchel he’d packed with half of his pay from the last job. As he left the Ryu Bank skyscraper, he ignored the armed security guards who nodded to him. Using his thumbprint on the door scanner, he stepped out into the muggy and sweltering August night.

Hot summer night, storm clouds in tha air, he recited to himself, calling up the old rock song by the Canadian band Honeymoon Suite. My eyes are a li’l heavy, I’m feelin’ in tha past tense, I’m hardly aware. I don’t want ya on tha phone, don’t ya play good girl with me. Why must I always say it again? I gotta new girl now, an’ she’s a lot like ya…

~ ~ ~

Madam Barassi’s place was still where he had left it. That was a feat in a city that was always changing. It had been a long time, but he had confidence that he was a memorable customer.

The moment he opened the door, an Italian woman now older than he remembered in a stylish yellow dress approached him. The knowing smile on her lips hadn’t changed a bit. Her fingers poised on the marble top of a side table in the foyer.

“How many of my girls do you want, Mr. Creed?”

Victor tossed the satchel he carried down onto the narrow table with the zipper open. Several bricks of formerly neatly stacked and wrapped cash peeked out of it. “All o’ ‘em, ‘til I’m done. Better be at least four t’ start with. Anybody needs t’ tap out, she can send me a fresh replacement.”

Madam Barassi stared at the bag and then met his gaze. “Girls?” she addressed the ones who were waiting in the parlor. “You heard the gentleman. The red room – and please do make me proud.”

He ended up with six to start with and intended to waste no time on bullshit like talking or taking it slow.

They were smart enough to strip as they entered the garishly decorated suite, or he would have ripped the foolish costumes of enticement off them. He hadn’t come here to seduce or to make them like him; men who sought to have a whore like them were pathetic and weak. He’d come to fuck and they were paid very well to shut up and be fucked.

Yet the miasma of apathy hadn’t left him, and watching the naked flesh around him as they moved to the bed did not spark his heat. The beast within was restless – he wanted his mate, not these females who were not ready to breed.

Fuck ya, Puss in Boots, he told his feral side. This ain’t tha savanna, Stark ain’t yer damn mate, an’ these rented cunts’re mine, ready t’ breed or not.

Growling, he pulled his shirt off and opened his belt and buttonfly. Sitting in a large armchair to kick off his boots and socks, he left his long hair bound in its braid. Standing and dropping the jeans, he stepped out of them.

“C’mere,” he ordered the pretty olive-skinned one, the one with black hair. She moved to obey, somewhere between swift and lithe, and stood in front of him. “Get down there an’ suck it.”

She did so without comment and showed no fear, even though he’d never seen her before. All of them were new to him; he hadn’t been back here in almost a decade. A few on the bed were nervous, their anxiety spiking when he’d dropped his jeans.

Wake up, ya bleedin’ tool, he thought to his dick, his pointed ears pinning down. Gonna make ya care in a minute.

He gripped her wrist in one hand and set his golden furry balls on her palm. His other hand fisted in her hair and pulled it slightly.

“Squeeze,” he told her. “Harder.” He hissed when she got the idea and really went for it. The pain crawled up his nerves and began to fire his lust. His cock hardened in her mouth and she had to back off and readjust her technique.

Victor pulled her head up off it and smirked down at her. When he released her, he reached down and hoisted her by the waist to cart her off to the rest of them on the bed like a ragdoll.

He fell over the redhead first, claws retracting just as he reached for her heavy breasts. The moment he entered her, he knew it would take more.

The first girl reached for his balls again and squeezed and that was better. Another one got inventive and scratched her nails down his back as he began to thrust.

They inspired his heat at last as the others moved in and when he reached for the next and fucked into her, he stopped looking at their faces.

Powders and perfumes were soon overwhelmed by sweat. As the cloying smell of sex and cum began to be layered around him, he didn’t concern himself with their pleasure at first. The urge to suck pussy, denied, became almost as strong as the ache in his fingers to let his claws taste their flesh.

“Here,” a blonde offered, “teeth like that, you must love to bite.”

“Love t’ kill, li’l girl,” he told her in a low rasping voice.

The look she gave him, staring into his eyes, reminded him of his reflection in the glass.

“Do what you want,” she shot back, her blue eyes shining with the challenge.

“Angel…” another woman warned her, fear riding the word.

It was just the thing that was missing: the fear … and the blood.

He wanted to tear her throat out instantly. The thought that he could probably claim to have paid the madam more than enough for the loss knocked around in his blood-soaked brain.

A brunette moved in. “Right here,” she said, fingers stroking the blonde’s white flesh at the join of neck and shoulder. “You look like a man who knows what he wants.”

Victor didn’t hesitate to drop his jaw; he set the fangs and allowed them to slide in. His tongue caught the blood and the explosion of the smell and taste of it made his body buck. He wasn’t sure which one of them he was fucking as his thrusts grew rough.

A dual cry from two throats sounded: the blonde, getting off on his bite, and who turned out to be an exotic dark-skinned beauty under him coming hard around his cock. He pulled his fangs free and closed his mouth on the bleeding flesh, sucking at it, swallowing the blood, and then licking at the wounds until the bleeding stopped.

Flesh touched him and he turned his head to see a firm, round ass. He withdrew and sank into it, not thinking to open the way – only to find it ready for him. He didn’t look up to see which one it was attached to as he began to thrust and when he came again, he groaned.

The next one had his cum smeared over her stomach and he flattened his tongue to lick it up. Moving higher, he made her cry out with pleasure when the little barbs on his tongue stroked over her breasts.

One of them straddled the back of his thigh and began to rub herself against him, trying to make herself come. He didn’t care what they did soon enough. His fur was damp in places and sticky in others as he fucked each one, barely noticing when they changed. Any hole within reach, he needed to see it dripping with cum.

The first new one he did notice was pulled in and impaled. When he filled her with seed, he picked her up, shifted and rolled, and set her on his face.

“Don’t move,” he said, a growl chasing the words. “Ya move an’ tha fangs’ll slice ya up.”

His long tongue shoved up and in and his lips suckled. Two others helped hold her still when she began to writhe and tried not to buck her hips. Beyond them, another one had stuffed his cock in her mouth and easily got it hard again. A hot, tight sheath enveloped it, and his growl modulated back into lust.

Victor began to drown in it and as soon as the pussy left his face, another straddled it. When he finally threw them off to rise and turn, he found the black-haired one with olive skin and sank into her. Fingers pinched his scrotum and then the bent knuckle of a finger kneaded into the skin of his taint, making the balls tighten. Tongues touched – they were licking the salty sweat from his skin and fur. A snap of plastic and burst of lube scent readied the next human toy before he was finished with the last; in time, even the scents blurred.

For the scant trio of minutes his body needed to be ready again, he buried his face in the next snatch and licked and sucked until they writhed and moaned. They were excited now and eager to please, their scents more or less proof they weren’t faking, but he didn’t care if they were or not – as long as they held still and submitted when required to.

Unable to get him talking further, they spoke to each other, urging on the ones who began to tire to try and stay a little longer.

He lost count of them eventually, vaguely aware that there were nine at one point. With so many hands touching him at once and any orifice they had his for the taking, it became a fog of sensory overload.

Sinking into another hole, unsure at first what sort of hole it was, he smelled an expensive lube and something large made of rubber on the huge bed beside him. Turning his head to look, he realized they were using dildos on each other to open them up before he got there.

Victor snarled and snatched the wrist of the girl who was holding a foot of bobbing green rubber. “In me, now,” he ordered.

Expecting to be obeyed, he went back to fucking the one underneath him. Slick fingers touched his hole first, pressing in gentle and slow.

“Ain’t made o’ glass, girl, an’ it won’t open much – just get t’ it.”

He snarled when she pushed it in, instinct tearing at him to kill, to throw off what sought to dominate him. It was delicious to fight that, to still claws and dripping fangs. He leaned down, his forehead on the chest of the girl beneath him, and drowned in the sensations of filling, of being filled.

When he felt a tug on his hair, he lifted his head and the scent of rubber flared under his nose as a toy was pressed to his lips. Smirking, he opened his mouth and allowed her to slide it in.

“Oh my God,” a voice over his shoulder spoke. “I think I’m in love. Look at him … those claws… Fuck, I’m next, move.”

Going by scent, the speaker was soon lying beside his current one – it was the blonde, who bore his raw marks. Gripping the dildo fucking his mouth with the front teeth, the few blunt ones he had, he took it with him when he withdrew, shifted, and sank into her slick cunt. He’d fucked her already, a few times, and feeling his dick thrust in the mess of his seed inside her ramped his pulse up another notch.

The dildo twins got back to work when he did. The one behind removed hers and he snarled at her, but then a bigger one began to shove in with some decent force behind it. The smell of a leather harness told him why. He growled around the rubber shaft to chase away memories he didn’t want.

Allowing himself to drift out of conscious thought to avoid ghosts, he sucked on the rubber toy, keeping his teeth from shredding it. His last real thought was of a vague disappointment that the dildos couldn’t fill his throat and ass with warm urgent cum.

~ ~ ~

The scent and sound of hot running water woke him. The large Jacuzzi tub set into the floor on the other side of the open room was in sight when he cracked one eye open. The brunette who had encouraged him to bite was in the tub with the black-haired girl who had first sucked him off. He turned his head to watch them kiss and caress each other. The only person in the bed with him woke under his arm. He had pulled her in close and fallen asleep with his face in her blonde hair.

Glancing down, he winced to see blue eyes staring up at him. Shifting his weight, he moved to lick the bite marks in her flesh.

“You can do it again, if you want,” she whispered.

Victor growled over her punctured skin and let the fangs slice into the same wounds, slow and easy. Biting in a little deeper, he lapped and sucked at her blood again. Her arms held him, her pelvis nudging at his thigh.

He removed his fangs. One large hand rolled her to her back and he entered her, cock and fangs at once. When he came, he fell still but stayed inside. He sucked and swallowed her blood, aware the two in the tub were watching. As soon as he could, he began to thrust again, his mouth and tongue pressing against the wounds.

Shuddering to a stop, he withdrew, moved down, and began to suck and lick her pussy clean as she gasped and writhed.

He heard the other two as their breath came short, and his ears pinned in irritation. He was no longer in a sharing mood. Looking up at them, he growled.

“Out,” he ordered.

As they began to obey, not bothering to pick up any of the clothing on the floor or even grabbing towels, they gave the blonde one last long look before heading for the door.

“Tell Madam Barassi that this one’s mine.”

“Angel…?” the black-haired girl whispered, the scent of fear growing strong from her.

Victor snarled at them, one clawed hand settling over the blonde’s hip. For a brief moment, he wanted to rise and kill the watchers before going back to the caught prey.

“Hush,” the brunette admonished her friend as she ushered her out first. “Yes, Mr. Creed, I’ll tell her. We love you, Angel…”

When the door shut, Victor got up and picked her up. He carried her pressed against his chest and stepped down into the tub. Sitting her on the ledge with her legs in the water, his hands held her face as he kissed her. Blood burst in his mouth when her exploring tongue was cut on the serrated inside edge of a lower fang.

“Gotta be careful in there.” He watched her, scenting her. Living breathing prey, she sparked a predatory excitement that had been missing for far too long.

He knew his brain was a mess of crossed wires, wanting to mate what he also wanted to kill – willing to risk death for some, eager to eat others. He didn’t care. She was marked and full of his spunk. She had made him want, and that was all that mattered. Her blood in his mouth, throat, and belly curled into hunger – and she wanted to die.

Victor broke the bloody kiss and licked his tongue up her throat. It slowly grew more difficult to hold the beast in check. The man he tried to be had fucked her, but she wasn’t his mate. To the beast, she was food.

He tried to push it back, but the bright lure of want – any sort of want – was too strong.

“Angel…” he murmured over the jugular vein that pulsed beneath his lips.

“M-Marie,” she whispered. Her hands were pressed to his chest, her thumbs stroking the fur there. “Would you? End it? I’ve tried, but…”

“Tell me why,” he urged her, “or I’ll leave ya here t’ keep on with this.”

“This … is all I knew to do. I can’t live this way, as I am. The nightmares, the pain…”

“Who was it?”

“My brother, and … my father…” She began to cry.

Victor lifted his head and kissed the tears away. “When?”

“I was little…”

“They still breathin’?”

“My father lives in Brooklyn. I don’t know where my brother is.”

“Names.”

“Gary Dearman. Louis Dearman. Please, the moment I saw you… Please…”

“Hush, now…” Kissing her, he let the taste of her bloody tongue spark his heat fresh. “How’d ya want it?” he asked, as he pulled her hips forward. He pushed inside before she could answer and fucked her with a lazy pace.

“Here, with you. Can you do it … without pain?”

“Every way I kill is pain. It can be quick.”

He nuzzled into her hair against the smooth, unbroken skin on that side of her neck. His thrusts remained easy. She would expect him to wait until after he came. He didn’t need to wait.

Fast – without tha chance fer fear or too much pain. Just like ‘er… Her golden hair and blue eyes full of tears hurt him. Ain’t ‘er an’ ya need t’ rip that outta yer damn head. That one is dead – an’ so’s this one.

She clung to him harder. “You feel so good.”

“Marie … I’m hungry, but I feel … empty. Be what I need…”

She drew in a deep breath as his jaw began to drop. “Yes…”

Darting his head down, the fangs stabbed into her neck, shoulder, and back. She tried to scream but only choked on her own blood as the bite severed the trachea, carotid, and jugular at once. The body convulsed in his grip.

Growling into the bite as the water turned red, he felt the blood run over his hand at her back. His other hand squeezed her breasts, smearing more blood as his body thrust harder inside her.

She was still as he drank the blood that ran down his throat. When it stopped flowing, he gently lowered her body to the tiles around the sunken tub and gripped the legs. His hips slapped against her as he watched the light fade from those wide blue eyes. Each stroke began to move the unresistant body.

He slowed again, leaning in to lap at the blood that had spilled down between the breasts onto the flat stomach. Reaching up, he pressed his palm against her chest between the breasts, though he could hear that the heart had stopped. The stillness of her chest made his balls draw up tight until he came, his back arching as he roared with the release.

The high of it was exquisite, but he knew he couldn’t linger. Breathing slowing down, he pulled out. Kneeling on the floor of the tub, his mouth went to work to lick and lap at her folds and suck his seed from the body. When he rose, he lifted his hands as the claws slid out.

Practiced at where to cut the torso to get what he wanted, Victor’s claws severed the selected sweetmeats quickly. Piercing each of them in turn, he brought them up one by one to shear them into small pieces behind his fangs before swallowing the rich meat.

A single claw sliced through the sterum. Fingers pulling, he cracked it open enough to get at her battered heart.

No more pain, darlin’. No more ghosts or nightmares. I envy ya.

He consumed it as he watched the stillness of death compose her limbs.

When he was sated, he climbed out of the tub onto his knees at the side of the corpse. Clawed fingers were careful not to cut the pretty face as he brushed the hair away.

Leaning down, he pressed a gentle bloody kiss to her cooling lips. It gave the semblance of rich scarlet life there as the skin grew pale on the surface and livid underneath where the remaining blood gathered, pulled down without a living heart to give it purpose.

She was even more beautiful this way: all lines of grief smoothed from her face, the shadows of pain driven from slowly clouding eyes.

As he watched her, transformed by his gift, her gift to him quickened in his veins and beat with fierce life in his chest.

“I guess that was exactly what we both needed. Ya sleep now, darlin’…”

With a gentle push, he slid her into the tub. The pink-tinged water slopped over the edge onto the tiles.

The body floated briefly until the air in the lungs was replaced with water. Her hair moved, giving a last illusion of life as she began to sink.

Wonder if’n she picked tha name Angel or ended up called that cuz o’ ‘er sweet face? Don’t matter now. Marie Dearman becomes my own Ophelia…

Victor rose and turned all the towels red. He dressed slowly, sitting to put on his boots. He hadn’t noticed much of the intense red velvet décor in the suite the night before. Even the carpet was red before it was broken by the white tiles of the open bathroom.

That’s a bit much. At least now tha bathroom matches it better. He took a piss in the toilet, which was also exposed to the whole room, and shook his head. Humans an’ their li’l potty games… T’ each their own, I ‘spose.

He pulled his Misfits t-shirt on, patted his jeans pockets for wallet and phone, and left the suite.

Not a soul was in sight downstairs until Madam Barassi appeared from her study and leaned in the doorway. He had made no effort to hide anything – she knew what she would find and knew how to handle it.

“We square?” he asked her.

“Yes, Mr. Creed.”

He nodded, opened her front door, and squinted in the early morning sunlight. Walking down the street, he stopped a man with one hand on his shoulder and took his Ray-Ban sunglasses right off his face. One look at him, and the man said nothing. He stumbled away when he was released, and hurried off.

Ain’t gotta leave yet. I wonder if that Thai massage place is still down here.

The temptation to go see if the runt was around up in Westchester came and went. Odds were, he wouldn’t be but the rest would.

Massage it is, if’n it’s there.

~ ~ ~

Victor had the Ryu Bank’s transport service send him a car and driver during his massage. Then he had called Shaul Yahalom, his lawyer – the telepathic one. He gave the man some homework, and by the time he got into the back of the silver Bentley, his driver had the address of one Mr. Gary Dearman in Brooklyn. When brother Louis was found, Shaul would text him the information.

“Are you ready to start, sir?” the driver asked.

Small and wiry with dark hair, Raul Velasco wasn’t much to look at, but he was one of the best drivers they had. No tacked-on family hindered the hours he was willing to work, and being on call almost constantly for the New York bank brass earned him a pretty bit of coin.

“I am. Question is – is Dearman ready?”

Raul smiled at the rearview mirror at him and got going. “I’d bet not.”

Victor watched the Brooklyn Bridge go by in the sunlight for once. They were both quiet on the drive, and he spent the time replaying in his head every word Tony had said to him on that last text and call.

Guess goin’ from near zero, he’s probly callin’ this progress on answerin’ me. Maybe it won’t be months before he does it again – if he does.

The house on Hudson Avenue in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn was old. The sloping Belgian-block street in front of it nearly made Victor purr. He was sick of modern concrete and asphalt everywhere he went.

His target destination was one of a row of diminutive pre-Civil War brick and frame houses. The ground floors sported old storefronts, but they all appeared to be curtained for privacy and used as part of the residences. The street and buildings looked like a drowsy slice of time left behind by the modern world.

Before he got out of the car, he texted Obinata and asked him to see about buying the place – he had a hunch it was about to be on the market. Then he met the patient gaze of the driver in the rearview mirror.

“Head out t’ tha Brooklyn Navy Yard; I’ll find ya there. If’n I don’t show by dark, go home.”

“Yes, sir.”

Climbing out, he walked away down the street until the car disappeared, driving east. Circling back, he went up to his future new safe house and knocked.

It nearly always surprised him how normal they looked. The man who opened the door could have been anyone, but he wasn’t; he was Victor’s favorite flavor of chew toy.

One look at him, and the skinny aging bastard tried to slam the door.

Victor snarled and slashed the security chain, shoving the door open. He caught the man by the throat and forced him back as he entered the house, shutting the door quietly behind him.

“Hiya, Gary. Yer daughter Marie says ‘fuck off’.”

His hand squeezed as the claws pierced flesh. Without a thought, as if he were crushing a bug, he increased the pressure until the prey quit wiggling. He carried it, dangling from his hand, and dropped it in the nearest bathtub. It made a satisfying clanging thump.

“One down, one t’ go.”

About to explore the place, he paused as a wicked thought crept into his head.

“Louis might could find out he’s owed some o’ pop’s money. Nothin’ like a li’l ol’ fashioned greed t’ get tha family t’gether.” Chuckling, he took his phone out and called the lawyer. “Lure ‘im in with news that ‘is daddy dropped dead – technically, he just did. There’s a prob with tha inheritance, what a shame. Play Mad Libs with tha rest. If’n either o’ these rot kiddy-diddlers has got any cash, I want it t’ go t’ tha usual fund fer survivors. Between ya an’ Obinata, oughta be cake. Got it?”

“I do. Is this one you wish to deal with yourself?”

“Yeah, but have tha bastard collected an’ shipped – he can be my entertainment when I land in Vermont.”

“Are we still on for dinner in Montreal, on the new date and time?”

“Make it Toqué an’ I’m there with bells on.”

“Consider it done, Mr. Creed.”

It wouldn’t take long until the baited hook was found by the fish. He indulged himself and explored the house before locking up and leaving to get to the car in time. Obinata would send a team in for the usual body discovery and police calling game – it was one of their most common ways of acquiring his properties.

As he was driven back over the bridge, he sucked the sheen of blood from the claws that had pierced the pedophile’s neck.

Impulse swayed him as they left the bridge behind. Vinegar Hill had woken up his taste for things that were older than he was.

“Raul, drop me at tha Guggenheim Museum, then ya can go. Won’t need ya after that. I’m in town fer a coupla days, though, so keep yer ears peeled.”

He spun the wheel and changed course so skillfully that the car didn’t rock and nobody honked at them. “Of course, sir.”

On the sidewalk in front of the giant white Franklin Lloyd Wright coffee cup that everyone else thought was a marvel of modern architecture, Victor frowned and headed in. He was given a wide berth as he made his way up the spiral building.

A Picasso had captured his attention when he felt the air move beside him. Obinata’s subtle cologne made him smile, but he didn’t turn to face his short Japanese partner.

“T’ what do I owe tha honor?”

With hands behind his back, the other mutant stood still in an impeccable navy bespoke suit and admired the painting with him.

“I have heard a rumor and discovered it to be fact.”

“Clooney really is an alien? Nobody’s that suave naturally.”

“The Fixer is in town, with a group of Hydra operatives along for the outing.”

“Yer shittin’ me.” Victor turned to face him with a grin stretching wide. “I been sniffin’ fer that jackass all over tha fuckin’ globe, an’ he just shows up here like free candy?”

“It appears so. No word yet on why they are here.”

“Obvs, it’s cuz I’m livin’ right. Just rewards an’ all.”

“He does not seem to have ordered any more assassins to target Stark.” Obinata held up a hand to halt Victor’s retort. “Yet his new post as Head of the Science Division of Hydra certainly warrants your attention.”

“How many troops has he got?”

“Unknown. He was spotted with ten.”

“‘Nuff t’ mean he’s got biz in town. Well, don’t gotta get me nothin’ fer Christmas – yer real early but this works. Told Tony I’d slit that useless twat. Were any sneaky fuckers like tha late Osiris spotted with ‘im, or just tha usual grunt stormtroopers?”

“Only troopers, thus far. They were spotted on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan this afternoon, along 42nd Street, in plainclothes – but their uniforms could have been hidden underneath. I must go.” He turned to face Victor and bowed. Victor returned it. “Good hunting, Creed-san. I am sure of your success.”

He popped out before Victor could reply. Grabbing his phone from his pocket, he fired off a short text to Tony: ‘Gotta line on tha Fixer here in NYC.’ Heading out to return to his suite at the bank, he wasn’t surprised when he didn’t get a reply.

~ ~ ~

Despite his flippant confidence with Obinata, Victor knew taking on Hydra could be a dirty business. They were like roaches – heavily armed roaches. Paul Norbert Ebersol a.k.a. the Fixer had been spotted with ten troopers, but that didn’t mean there weren’t more around.

He had room service send up a platter of nearly raw steaks from the fancy steakhouse they kept on the ground floor. Since he had others of the Misfits t-shirt he was wearing, he kept it on, but left the boots on the floor. After eating the meat, he placed his wallet and phone in the suite’s safe.

The long braid was wound into a bun at the back of his head and secured. None of the bits and beads currently in the loose hair around his face mattered much, in case they got shot off.

Pausing to look around, he stared at the dried blood handprints on the window. Sneering at them and the weakness they represented, he left them to confound the cleaning woman, wondering how long she would fret over whether or not he wanted them wiped off.

When he was ready, he went up to the roof access door and stalked out across the helipad. The heat reminded him of jungles he had prowled. The concrete jungle around him now wasn’t all that different.

This is gonna be sweet.

With that thought, he jumped from the edge of his building and caught the next one in his claws. Before long, the bank was in the distance and the hunt had begun.

~ ~ ~

At the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in the Turtle Bay neighborhood, the Art Deco-style Chrysler Building loomed over the skyline. Climbing it to straddle one of the gargoyles at its corners was practically a hobby of his. He could see, hear, and smell for quite a ways. Nothing much was going on, until the sun began to set; Victor wasn’t surprised – roaches crept out after dark.

His head swerved the moment they popped and found the spray of fireworks bursting out down Lexington Avenue.

Well, that counts as weird. August’s damn late fer that shit, an’ tha city wouldn’t authorize it willy-nilly. Then the breeze shifted and a few new scents surprised him. A grin stretched wide as he crouched to jump. Looks like my roaches are after a special bit o’ prey. This just gets better an’ better.

Lining up as the prey came closer, he leaped from the gargoyle and plummeted to a lower level of the skyscraper, landing without a sound.

As luck would have it, the agile prey leaped up by grabbing a lamppost and swung onto the building’s overhang that protected the entrance. Just as she shot off more explosive plasmoids at the Hydra troopers, Victor crashed down behind her, denting the overhang. Snagging her up with an arm around her waist, he jumped higher again in a heartbeat, hauling her with him. The scream hurt his pinned ears and the fireworks momentarily blinded him, but he just shut his eyes and climbed by smell and hearing alone.

Gaining the lower level roof again, he loped around the first corner before jumping up to climb the next building. By the time he dropped her onto another rooftop in front of him, he had eluded her pursuers – for a time.

She had hit on her hands and knees, but twisted to her back fast. Glaring down at her as her hands lifted to fight, her scent laden with thick shock and fear, he snarled at her.

“Throw one more bloody paff at me, ya li’l shit, an’ I’ll be pickin’ my teeth with yer broken femur, capiche?”

Jubilation Lee gulped as her hands, still raised, fisted. “Yes, sir.”

“Why’re they after ya?”

“No clue! I was just out window shopping –”

“Alone? No X-babysitters?”

“Uh…”

Victor flashed claws at her.

“No, alone! I can get out of your hair, get on home … sorry to bother –”

“Shut it.”

“Shutting it.”

“They’re comin’. We gotta go t’ ground.”

“Um, we?”

Victor grinned down at her as a plan formed in his head and made him chuckle. “Yup – we.” He lunged down at her as she threw her arms up to protect her face.

“Wait!”

He didn’t wait.

 

*****************************************************************

Author’s Note: I borrowed the name “Dearman” from someone who irritated the crap out of me in real life – having Victor kill him was good therapy. Back in my story Redemption, Tabitha said Jubilee was kind to her and called her the only X-man she would miss. Because of that, Victor decides to save her even though her closeness to Logan makes him want to kill her. As readers of my series already know, Bonnie is from the Sabretooth limited series comic book story, Mary Shelley Overdrive. Michel is Victor’s male French mate from his teen days in Canada and my original invention. Someday, I plan to write their story and the tale of Victor’s origins.

“Lien” means “lotus”. Kim-ly means “Golden Lion”, and is technically a female name, but as there is a male actor with this name, I figure Lien can get away with calling Victor this. Ophelia is of course from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Hamlet’s would-be lady love goes mad after Hamlet kills her father, and drowns herself. Her brother mourns for her. Victor told Tabitha that he “only reads MacBeth”, but clearly he likes all of the plays, since he also uses Romeo and Juliet as a reference when talking to Tabitha. Mad Libs are game on a paper tablet where funny stories were created by filling in blanks with the requested type of word: noun, verb, adjective, etc. The actor George Clooney belongs to himself. Jubilee has sort of been a teen forever, but in this timeline, she’s still a teen with mutant powers.

I decided to go ahead and post this, but I really need to update my other WIP fics before I finish chapter two. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading! The sequel to this one will go back to hands-on IronTooth, my unrepentant OTP. – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)

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