What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 30bypsyche_b_mused©
Not as much of a wait this time. :) I've had some of these scenes is my head for months; it was good to finally get them onto the page.
Thank you all so much for reading and a special thank you to those who take time to comment. Knowing people are so into this story keeps me writing.
I hope you all enjoy!
30. The Lady and the Sabretooth
Creed guided the rusty brown van down the highway with one hand and held a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich with the other. The things were fucking awful. The eggs tasted like chemicals and the plastic bottle they came out of. The thin, half-dollar sized sausage patty might as well have been a fucking cinder. Still, he'd eaten worse shit. He shoved the last few bites into his mouth. Next time he had to leave at such a ridiculous hour, he'd let the frail cook for him.
He scanned through tinny radio stations until he found some news, then he ignored it in favor of reviewing his itinerary. He figured that about eighty-five percent of what he did was logistics. Get to the right place at the right time with the right equipment and the rest is easy. Hell, sometimes the rest was even fun. Figuring all that shit out was still a pain in the ass though. The more conditions that had to be met, the bigger the pain in the ass.
This one was easily the biggest mess he'd ever been involved in and if it wasn't personal he wouldn't have even thought of wading into the middle of it. Multiple locations, multiple teams, multiple targets, tightest fucking window he'd ever used and a double transport just to finish out the fun. He figured the best way to do it was treat the whole fucking thing like an onion and start from the outside and work his way in.
Paulie C's organization was the outside of the onion. His minions didn't give a shit personally, but whoever avenged the sick fucker's death would make him a shoe-in for the top spot. There were three realistic successors. Four more who liked to think of themselves as being in the running. They were the outermost layers. The first ones to go. The rest were low level thugs, not smart enough or organized enough to be dangerous in the near future.
Cavallo had managed to either sever or avoid all the usual emotional entanglements and that made things easier. There were a couple whores on the payroll, but that was business. Still, no one would miss a couple of whores. His parents were dead. His fine, upstanding siblings had disowned him years ago. The daughter was a wild card. Chances are she wouldn't give a shit. He hadn't come this far to do a half-ass job. She was another layer.
Stan had some paid protection around him. He'd take them out when he grabbed Stan. On the personal side, he had two brothers. Both solid citizens with jobs and community ties. Nothing more than a parking ticket between them. He'd keep up the observations, but he doubted either one would make retaliatory trouble. The CoH was too big and too well-defended to take apart. Shit would crop up eventually. When it did, he would deal with it.
They were all clean kills, but even clean kills took time.
He stepped on the gas.
Kelly tossed the pencil down and pushed the notebook away. "This is ridiculous!" She rubbed her eyes. "We're never gonna get this one."
"It's only our fourth time through it." Cassie said, the sarcasm clear in her voice. "We've got all night, who needs sleep or sanity?" She rubbed the side of her head again. She'd rubbed it so much that some of her hair was pulled out of her ponytail and sticking up in an angry-looking nest.
"And what I want to know is, why do we need to prove it anyway? Is the author of this textbook a pathological liar? If they tell me that one thing equals another why do I have to spend twenty minutes of my life trying to prove that it's true?"
"Twenty minutes if you get it right the first time."
"And what if the author is a liar, why are we using his textbook in the first place? That's just rewarding bad behavior."
Cassie laughed. "God I've missed studying with you."
Kelly giggled. "Because I go off on wild rants when I get upset?"
She grinned. "Better than anyone I know."
"Great. Maybe I should try it during class sometime. If I get kicked out I can take my act on the road." Kelly smiled.
"Sabe- I mean Victor, would love that."
Kelly sighed and pulled her feet up onto the chair so that her legs were crossed Indian style. "His name is really hard for you to say, isn't it."
Cassie shrugged and pulled the band out of her hair. "It's just weird. I mean before, it was like he was just some monster and that was really easy because I didn't have to think about it anymore than that. He was bad-dangerous guy and everybody knew it. Now..." She took a deep breath. "I see you every day and your eyes light up when you talk about him. It made everything really complicated." She blushed. "Can...can he hear me?"
Kelly laughed. "No. He's not here right now."
"He's not?" She sat forward.
Kelly cursed herself and tried not to squirm. "Not at the moment. Where are Sophie and Lucy tonight?"
"Sophie is tutoring chem in the library and Lucy had Danger Room training. We need to talk-"
Kelly looked up at the rafters and groaned. "Oh Cassie! Why is it every time we're alone together for a minute and a half you start reading from Professor Xavier's script."
"What? No! I mean, usually yes, but not this time."
Kelly heard a different kind of tension in Cassie's voice. She looked at the screen again. Cassie was up pacing. That was different too. "Okay. What's up?"
Cassie sat down again and stared into the screen. "Okay, you know I told you about this guy I've been seeing?"
Kelly tried not to laugh. "Gee, I don't know. Is that perhaps the same guy you've been showing me different pictures of every night for the past few weeks?"
Cassie smiled and blushed and looked away. "You've noticed."
Kelly tapped her lip. "What was his name again? Brian? Bill?"
Cassie laughed. "Brady. As if you didn't know."
Kelly smiled. "So what's the deal with Brady?"
"Next weekend is his birthday and his parents bought him tickets to see Godsmack-"
Cassie sat back in her chair and stared at Kelly. "Who?" The question was flavored with shocked disbelief.
Kelly waved. "Excuse me. I've been a bit removed from pop culture recently."
She rolled her eyes. "Okay. They're a heavy metal band."
"You listen to heavy metal?"
Cassie shrugged and looked away. "Well, you know, it's good to try new things."
"Meaning Brady likes it."
"Well, yeah." She sat up straighter and tried to look indignant. "So? Tell me you don't listen to something or watch some show because Victor likes it."
Kelly smiled and shrugged. "He just has good taste."
Cassie groaned. "Oh please."
"So...Brady's birthday...concert tickets?" Kelly smiled sweetly.
"Yeah. He's from Cranford too. So he asked me to go and I told him yes, of course. Then I had to set it up with my parents so that I could stay there and we went through this whole thing with Professor Xavier and he finally said yes. So now the whole thing is all set up with everybody's parents and when you and Victor...you know...for the first time it wasn't any big deal right?" The words came out in a breathless rush.
Kelly stared at the screen for a long moment, processing everything Cassie said. "That kinda took a turn at the end there."
"Come on, I know you don't really talk about the more personal side of your life and I'm not asking for details." Cassie's face was bright red; her fingers drummed the top of the desk. Her eyes were turned away. "It's just that Brady says it's nothing and if I cared about him I would. Lucy treats it like shaking hands and will do it with anybody who shows half an interest. Sophie just giggles and literally turns fifteen shades of red all at once whenever I try to talk about it. If I tell anyone else God knows what'll be all around school in the morning." Cassie looked at the screen again. "So it was no big thing, right?" Her tone was hopeful. A little too hopeful.
Kelly watched her for a long moment. "Sounds like you don't really want to."
Cassie shrugged. "It's not that. I don't know. Brady is great-looking and all the girls are falling all over themselves to be with him. And he wants to be with me. I should want to, shouldn't I?"
Kelly shifted in her chair. "I don't know that the concept of 'should' really enters into this."
"Victor didn't...push the issue?"
Kelly felt a blush heating up her cheeks. She smiled a little. "He definitely got things started, because I didn't really know how to. Just kissing him...I don't know, I knew I needed him even though I didn't really know everything that entailed."
Cassie bit her lip for a second. "Did you like it?"
Kelly felt her blush deepen. "Most of it. What wasn't so great got a lot better after the first time."
Cassie hugged her knees and looked sidelong at the monitor. "When Brady kisses me it's nice."
"Just nice?" This was when the distance between them was almost painful. Seeing and hearing her friend was not the same as being able to sit next to her.
She shrugged with one shoulder. "It's kind of weird sometimes. If he just kisses me it's nice and kind of exciting. He always gets so grabby though. Then it just gets really weird and uncomfortable."
"And you think you should let him do more than kiss you?"
Cassie sighed. "He'll break up with me."
"So what if he does? You'll find someone better."
She sighed. "And in the meantime he's going tell all his stupid friends that we did anyway."
"Um again, so what?"
Cassie smiled a little and looked at the monitor. "You really don't care what other people think, do you?"
Kelly smiled and shrugged a little. "You're the one who has to live your life. It doesn't matter what you do or don't do, someone isn't going to like it. You can try and please everyone and make yourself really unhappy, or you can do what's right for you."
Cassie took a deep breath and sat up straighter. "I can do that." She tried to sound confident. "I think." The confidence of a moment before retreated again.
"I think we need to try this proof once more." Kelly said.
"Isn't four times enough?"
"It's the last one. There has to be something we're missing."
"Yeah, and we're probably going to keep missing it." Cassie sighed and pulled her notebook closer again.
"If we miss it this time, we call it a night." She wrote down the problem on a new page.
"Fine." The word had a tortured ring to it. "I picked where to start the last time. It's your turn."
Kelly sighed and tapped the eraser end of her pencil against the page. "Let's try an old favorite, factor cosine out of the denominator on the left."
"Is it hard to sleep when he's not there?"
"I'm just curious. I mean you must get used to him being there."
Kelly sighed and smiled a little. "Yeah. I miss him when he's not here. But I was trying not to think about it." She looked at the screen meaningfully.
She held up her hands in submission. "I get the hint. Factoring out cosine."
"So Raymond," Creed stood in a brightly lit walk-in closet and looked at clothes neatly arrayed before him. Padded hangers were evenly spaced. Colors shifted from white on the left to black on the right. There was a rack for suits and they were arranged by color as well. Ties were rolled and stored in cubbies. Belts were stored in a similar way. "You got OCD or some shit like that?" He glanced at the man on the bathroom floor, his neck was at an unnatural angle; his eyes twitched. Breath came at irregular intervals, but it still came. Creed was fairly certain Raymond Alfonse could still hear.
Creed turned his eyes back to the closet again. "Probably not. You smell like you ain't had a fucking shower in at least three days and I know you got a maid. Ugly old crone too from what my sources tell me. In on Tuesdays and Fridays just like clockwork. Don't know why you didn't get one you could fuck, but I guess that's your deal." He started opening cabinet doors. "Question is, where does the maid keep your travel bag?"
Raymond moaned weakly from the floor. Yup, he could still hear.
"What's that Raymond?" Creed cupped his hand around his ear.
The man was silent.
"No problem. I'll find it myself." He opened another cabinet. The faint scent of blood came from a black nylon bag. "There we go."
"Guess you're wondering why you. Most people do, like it makes the dying easier somehow. Since you're still conscious, I figure I might as well tell you. 'Specially why I did such a fucked up job on your neck." He found socks and underwear out of the drawers and put four pair of each in the bag. "Honestly, that part bothers the professional in me, Raymond."
Another moan. Creed walked over and looked down, appraising the man's condition. He'd be around awhile longer. Fucking annoying. He walked back to the closet. "Fucking unprofessional way to break a neck. Too far down. Fucks up the brain stem, but doesn't really sever it. Everything just kinda swells and compresses and eventually you die but it takes awhile. Fucking it up can lead to all kinds of complications, 'specially if you don't wait around long enough to make sure the job is finished. Right now, if I called paramedics, you'd probably live. Your life would suck, but you'd still be on the right side of the dirt. What you really want is internal decapitation. Do that and it's lights out. Course your boy Mickey don't know shit about that. Probably hasn't even heard the term before. Where'd he learn how to break a neck anyways? TV? Give the head a good twist and there you go?" Creed studied the clothing and selected a couple of dark track suits that had the taint of old blood on them, as well as a pair of dark gray slacks and a maroon shirt.
"Jesus Christ, what'd you do? Order the whole fucking Tony Soprano collection? Anyways, I know you know who I am because I saw it in your eyes when you were still twitching. 'Less I'm mistaken; you know why I'm going after your boss." He started opening cabinets by the bathroom sink. "Where the fuck do you keep your shaving kit?" He looked down at the man again.
There was still awareness in his eyes.
"You had to know I'd be comin' for your boss and you been in this business long enough to know that leaving loose ends is just fucking stupid." He found the bag of toiletries under the sink. "I know you got ambitions. You're small time and you know it and it doesn't sit well with you. Only natural. Cavallo made sure you stayed hungry too. You and the others handle all the bloody parts of the business. You get slightly better than average money and promises." He walked over to the man on the floor again. Fear and desperation were rolling off of him in waves. His eyes were still animated. "Course I take him out, you and your cronies try and move up and it's a big fucking mess. Not to mention the fact that all of you are gonna wanna prove you got the balls to be in charge by coming after me or my frail. I ain't about to let that happen. Which brings me to why you're laying on the bathroom floor of your own McMansion dying a slow death."
He walked away and started searching nightstands. "See, you got two things I need. First of all, you got a signature. You killed five for Cavallo and every time it's the same. Blow to the back of the head knocks 'em unconscious, then you sit 'em up in a chair and shoot 'em twice. Left eye first, then the right. Why you gotta make such a fucking show of it I don't know, but it must do something for you. I figure when your boss disappears there's gonna be a little internal power struggle. You're gonna win. Sort of. It's gonna look like you took out the competition anyway. Then, tragedy strikes and Mickey the Toady comes in and takes you out with his own signature move, shitty as it is."
He moved on to a tall chest of drawers. "So you're a pretty important player in this whole thing. Without you and Mickey, I'd have to get creative and frankly I ain't got time for that." Creed made sure the drawers didn't look rifled, but he still hadn't found the gun. He stood in the middle of the neat room and looked around. Guy like Raymond wouldn't be far away from his gun. He was sure of that. He ran a hand under the slept-in side of the bed, then under the mattress, and finally under the pillow. He pulled out a Glock nine millimeter handgun. He gave a derisive snort. "Haven't got an ounce of flair in you, have you Raymond."
He stuck it in the back of his waistband and checked on Raymond again. This time, his eyes were empty. The smell of death was creeping into the room. Creed wiped down the surfaces in the bedroom, bathroom and closet. Then he carried the bag down to the van. The next order of business would be to get Raymond into cold storage for a few weeks.
Then he could get to work.
It took Creed all of thirty seconds to realize that Lou's Taproom was a hemorrhoid on the asshole of the world. The place stank of stale booze, old puke, rancid sex and desperation. Those were just the comforting smells. The bartender stood in front of him, a look of boredom laced with hostility on his lined face.
The man sighed and set a bottle in front of him. He walked away, ignoring the sticky-looking places on the bar. If it hadn't been for the frail, he would have figured out another way. Who was he trying to kid, if it hadn't been for the frail, he might have gotten an ounce of pleasure out of the last twenty-four hours.
Killing machine. Forged in the fire of rage and cooled with his own blood. Schooled in pain. Dead inside. Maiming and killing were power and pleasure. The way he got his fucking rocks off. Because that's the monster he was. Fucking frail. She just walked right in all wrapped in vulnerability and soft skin and showed him a different, headier kind of power. Showed him the man inside the monster. Showed him what peace was.
Didn't make a goddamn bit of difference now. He drained half the beer.
Didn't mean he was going to stop either, not this time. He reviewed the high points of what his sources had told him about Giada Bellafiore. Conlon told him she was tall, blond, high maintenance and liked to think of herself as the life of the party. His sources told him that Giada was a jaded slut who liked to drink as long as someone else was buying, was open to damn near any drug she saw someone else take first, and had developed a taste for slumming with mutants. She rationalized the danger with her belief that her general infamy would somehow protect her.
He took another swallow of the beer.
His sensitive ears picked up the squeak of the door hinge. Giada came in alone in a tight denim dress and a short jacket that showed off an emaciated waist, the generous upper slopes of silicone enhanced breasts, and leg up to her fucking crotch. She was only a little older than the frail. She looked like an aging whore. The breeze from the door carried her scent through to him. Under all the perfume and make-up and all that shit she smelled like one too.
From the minute she walked in, Creed watched her work the room. His sources were right. She gravitated to the four mutants who were there. Moving between them, teasing, assessing keenness and delicious danger. Even he could tell that Giada liked it dangerous and dirty.
He waited in the shadows at the end of the bar, watching. Eventually, the weight of his stare drew her eyes in his direction. He held her eyes, flashed a fang, drained the beer and walked out, making sure to brush past her on the way to the door.
It wasn't much, but he could smell her getting wetter as he passed her. Creed melted into the shadows of an alley across the deserted street from the bar. Twenty minutes later Giada came out with a pockmarked mutant in a beat-up biker jacket. He wore a look of surprise at his good fortune and walked with a swagger. The quick exit was a surprise, but it did make things easier on him. Giada giggled as her companion dragged her behind a dumpster. Creed didn't need extra sensitive hearing to pick up the moan she let out and he didn't need to see what was going on to know that Giada had her back against the wall and her pussy wrapped around the stranger's cock.