Ok I know I did this once – sort of – but well it just has to be redone. The idea is just too good NOT to play with it – and this time gets more of the goodness that is Marvel involved. So all the usual I don't own them – except any OC's I create. Yes it is loosely based on the song by the Eagles.
Summary: It was just another job – but it ended up changing his life. Now he's faced with a difficult choice, can he pull himself out of the darkness and blood that consumes his life, or will he drag her down with him.
Prologue – Don't
your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
It's hard to tell the night time from the day
He was leaned back in his recliner, feet up, and remote in his hand watching hockey. He had no plans for the day, and his answering machine was set to pick up on the first ring. He didn't want to talk to anyone – it was the damned playoffs. He tried to tune his hearing to ignore the whine of the tape as another call hit the answering machine, and concentrate on the play. The puck hit the goalie right in the face mask and he knocked his beer over screaming at the damned ref for calling it a goal. So what if the force of the damned puck knocked him into the net – he blocked the damned puck.
"Creed – I need to talk to you. It's urgent." He tried to ignore the call, and concentrate on the game, but something was seriously wrong. It was one of his clients, and a good one, paid well, and never asked questions after the job was done. He frowned, and with another curse at the damned ref, he grabbed the handset.
"I'm here – just watchin' the playoffs."
"I…need something done."
"No – this is personal."
"Personal costs more, you know that."
"I know – one hundred grand, no witnesses."
"What's the target?"
"I'll meet you – the usual spot, tonight with the particulars and half up front."
"No – for you, pay me when it's done. What the fuck is with the frail in the background? That high pitched crap hurts my ears."
"That's my wife. Our son died this morning."
"Oh – well in that case, can ya move to another room or something, or just meet me later. I can't handle that wailing."
"I'll just meet you – we're still in the emergency room." He could hear the strain in the man's voice.
"Alright." He glanced at the television but the stupid call by the ref put his team out of the damned championship. He suddenly didn't have anything better to do tonight. He got up out of the recliner and turned off the television. He wasn't certain what he would need for the job tonight. Personal's could get messy – and not in a good way. The last personal job he did ended up costing him six months of laying low. He didn't like the idea, one bit.
His gear was in the closet behind his recliner. He never spent much money, never saw the use. As long as he had a bed to crash on, his comfortable chair and his TV, he could just drop anywhere. He just hoped he wasn't going to have to up and leave everything again. He'd just gotten that chair broken in.
He opened the closet door and pulled out the old duffle bag. Inside were two sets of hand made leather pants and shirts, and his deerskin cape. He had a feeling he would need the cape tonight, the weather was cold, and Lake Michigan had a sheet of ice as far as the eye could see. He hated Chicago, hated it especially in winter. Give him a deep freeze that coated everything white, dry hard snow to his ass, and none of this slush and crap and hovering around the freezing point. He hated working in the cold; he hated working in the wet, and he hated the wet and cold combined worst of all.
He considered ending this run with this job tonight, head for warmer climates tomorrow and let the skin on his toes thaw out. Healing factors didn't do much when the skin just kept freezing again – of course if he'd wear socks and fix the damned hole in his shoe they wouldn't keep freezing, but he just wasn't in the mood. The other side of that, he was certainly ready for a little blood and mayhem, he needed to warm up, and hoped whatever this 'personal' job was involved a good workout – maybe even a frail to enjoy before he ended it – now THAT would make his night.
He changed into his hunting clothes and climbed out the window of the room. He never bothered with anyplace that he would be recognized, and this was just a room in the top of an old building that no one ever used. Hell he didn't even think the other people in the building knew he was there – which was fine with him. He kept to the roof tops as long as he could, before dropping to the streets and heading for the park near the lake. He found his usual tree and climbed up, waiting on his client to show. It was warmer up here, at least, with the cape wrapped around him and he didn't get any of that damned wet snow in his shoes.
He watched until sunset, the temperature dropping with the setting sun, driving even him down from the branches as the wind picked up, that and he'd seen his client heading this way.
The man just handed him an envelope, and a photograph. The envelope contained the remnants of some kind of powder, and he took one sniff and knew it was contaminated cocaine.
"That what killed your boy?"
"Yes. I want the bastard that sold it to him, I want him dead."
"No need to state the obvious. This him?"
"Got an address?"
"On the back, they were friends in high school, but you don't do this to friends."
"I thought you kept your kids off the product."
"I do – he was doing this behind my back – and not using my dealers. I would have at least kept him alive."
"It's bad business."
"I know. Just end this."
He just nodded and waited for the client to leave first. He looked at the address on the back of the picture. It was a run down part of town, and he groaned. No witnesses would probably be easy – but then again, with all the homeless and vagrants that tried to make a living there, there were no guarantees. He took to the rooftops again, but he STILL ended up with cold slushy mushy water in his shoes. He cursed under his breath as he worked his way to the building in question.
"I swear to God – when this one is done, I'm heading for warmer climates." He muttered as she worked his way down the side of the building, carefully watching for any eyes prying into the overcast darkness. He was lucky, the kid had a fire escape landing outside his window – and the damned window was unlocked. Of course the kid wasn't home so he had to perch like a bird, waiting for the mark. He hated people who wouldn't be where they were supposed to be when he needed them to be there. It made his job rough, and rough was usually what they got when they finally showed up. He kept the grin off his face, the last thing he needed was anyone spotting him because he smiled.
He heard the kid's key in the lock and he held his breath, waiting for him to come in. The kid was alone, something Creed almost regretted. It would have been better – at least for Creed – if the kid had brought a frail home. Oh well – so much for getting laid tonight. He waited for the kid to drop off his groceries on the counter in the dumpy kitchen, and kick of his shoes, and then Creed slipped in the window, and grabbed the kid by the shoulder.
"Who the fuck…" The kid turned fist raised to strike and just stopped. Creed couldn't suppress the chuckle; he loved that reaction, when some frail thought he was tough, until he got a look at just what exactly had come to collect for the piper.
"You been sellin bad stuff, kid. Not a good idea." He said it softly, one thing most people didn't realize, a soft word could be so much more threatening.
"I don't know what you are talkin' about. Get the fuck out before I…"
"Before you what – call the cops, you won't make it to the phone. Scream – please it ain't like anyone in this neighborhood's gonna care – until you are dead and the apartment's available. You gonna try to play tough man and pull a knife or a gun – not a good idea, it will just make it that much more difficult – for you. Personally – I wish you would, I could use the workout."
He watched the blood drain from the kid's face and suddenly wasn't in the mood to play. He just reached out and snapped his neck like a match. He glanced through the groceries in the bag and grabbed a frozen dinner and popped it into the microwave oven. He was hungry. He looked at the body on the floor and tried to decide if he was just going to leave him there, or clean up the mess. He decided a nice accident was in order, spilled a little water on the floor and slammed the kid's head against the counter. In this neighborhood – no one would look twice. He crumpled up the container for the microwave dinner and the plastic fork he'd used to eat and slipped back out the window. He'd dump them in a dumpster away from the building. Easy job, almost too easy, but then again, he was due.
He worked his way up to the roofline, and then dropped back to the streets a few buildings down. The streets were deserted, and he wasn't in the mood for acrobatics. He was trying to navigate an alley opening – avoiding the worst piles of slush and water when he heard it. It sounded like something down the alley. He noticed a dumpster halfway down and decided to dump his trash while checking out the noise. The noise was faint, low, and yet it caught his attention – like something struggling to breath. As he got closer to the dumpster he caught a second sound – a tiny heart beating. He dropped his trash into the open dumpster and then the smell caught him. Blood – a lot of blood, and amniotic fluids. He looked around, trying to spot the cause. He almost missed the foot sticking out of the box. He ripped the cardboard with his claws and found her.
She was stiff and cold, pale from blood loss. She couldn't have been more than fifteen years old, and he almost turned away when the noise hit him again…that struggling sound, and the tiny heart – as it stuttered. He moved the body – and found it, a tiny blood soaked bundle, its nose and mouth still clogged with the mucus. He almost left it, but something about the cold night, and its continued struggles to survive made him reach down and pick it up. It was still connected to the mother's body, and he ripped the cord, separating them forever. He used a corner of his cape to wipe the eyes and nose, and he heard the first breath hiss into the tiny lungs, he was wiping the mouth when the first sound came out, a tiny whimper and he knew he had to get it warm or it would die, just like the mother. He wrapped it inside his cape, against his body, and hurried back to the main street.
He had no idea why he'd picked it up, but now that he had it, he had no idea what to do with it. The first thought he had was to get it warm, and then find it some food. He walked several more blocks trying to decide what to do, and then he saw the grocery. He slipped into the poorly lighted entry and looked around. He saw the aisle with baby goods and slipped down it. The tiny heart was still stuttering, and he looked around before slipping the baby under his shirt, against his skin under the cape. He found newborn formula, and bottles and newborn diapers and headed for the register. The tired woman didn't even look at him, just rang it up and waited for him to pay the amount on the register. She didn't even hear the tiny thing, and something stopped him from asking her for help. He just took the bag and hurried back to his tiny room.
He had a small sink and hot plate and he read the instructions on how to mix the formula. He had no clue if it was right or not, but he needed to get something into it – before he even considered cleaning it up. He didn't even know if it was a boy or a girl. He slipped the baby out into the relative warmth of the room and was actually pleased to hear a high pitched wail of protest. It had the strength to cry.
He tried to get the thing to take the bottle but it just screamed. He ran warm water in the sink – tepid actually to his touch and slipped the blood soaked thing into it. He remembered hearing something somewhere about needing to support a baby's head so he held it above the water as he washed the blood and dried birth fluids from its skin. He figured out pretty quickly that it was a girl.
It seemed livelier – and more responsive to the bottle nipple after the bath, and he curled up in his chair, baby resting against his chest as he tried to get some nourishment into it. He had no idea WHY he was doing this, what made him do it, but something inside him wouldn't let him smother it – her - and wouldn't let him just leave it alone.
He dozed fitfully through the night as he tried to get her to take the bottle, finally sometime in the morning hours, she figured out what to do with it, and took a couple ounces. He really looked at her then – she was small, probably no more than four or five pounds, and maybe fifteen inches long. Her skin still had a blue cast and he kept rubbing her hands and feet to keep her warm. She seemed to get better after she took some formula, and he laid her on his chest to sleep, both of them wrapped in his cape. IF she survived, he was going to have to decide what to do with her.
He was startled awake by a feeling of warm fluid on his chest…the damned thing had pissed on him. He snarled and then laughed at himself. He'd forgotten to put a diaper on her. He took three tries to figure the damned things out – and even then they were too big, but he made do. He took off the ruined shirt and cut the back out to use as a blanket. It was soft buckskin, and should help keep her warm. He wrapped her up, and turned to grab a clean shirt when he felt eyes on him. He looked over at his chair, where he'd laid her down and her tiny eyes were open, staring at him. They were black, pitch black and she quickly closed them, her breathing settling into a regular rhythm, as she drifted back to sleep. He quickly put on some civilian clothes. He couldn't stay here – not with her, and he loaded his duffle quickly. He rigged a carrier and loaded her up against his chest, under fleece lined jacket, and took off.
He stopped at a pay phone and called his client, letting him know the job was done, and where to send the money, and then he took off.
He made it to his truck. He was heading south. She needed to be warm, and this winter was a killer. He drove out of the city, stopping to feed her and change her but not for much else. He was about to drop when he found a motel with a fast food place and grabbed himself something from the drive through before getting a room. He remembered a small general store and as soon as he had the key he climbed back into the truck and drove back to the store. He found baby clothes, and blankets and more diapers. He still wasn't sure what exactly that black stuff was, but he hoped it was normal. She seemed to be eating, and sleeping and filling diapers and that was what he'd heard was normal for the damned things.
He drove back to the motel and carried the bags from the store into the room. She was curled up against his chest asleep and he was afraid if he took his jacket off she would wake up. The room had a sink – and a coffee pot that he could use to warm the bottles. He managed to figure out how to get her into the one piece outfit that he'd bought, but even it was too big. He wrapped her in several of the blankets and bundled the rest around her on the bed. Her eyes were open but she didn't seem to focus on anything unless he moved close to her.
"I got ta call ya something, kid, but I have no clue what." He said.
He didn't expect an answer. "I don't know what I'm gonna do with ya either. I can't keep ya and I can't leave ya. If you keep quiet – later I can make some calls, see if anyone I know knows what ta do with ya." She just closed her eyes, and drifted off to sleep. He was exhausted and curled up in the chair. Let the kid have the bed – it really wasn't big enough for him anyway.
The next morning he loaded her into the carrier he'd bought, and he had to admit it was more comfortable than the one he'd rigged up. He loaded them into the truck and drove to a pay phone. He had a friend that – every once in a while – paid him to pick up a kid or two. He never really asked questions about where they went, or why those particular kids, but now he wanted to know.
"Paul…those kids – what happens to them?" He asked as soon as the phone picked up on the other end.
"They're usually either run away kids that their parents hire me to find them – or kids who need families, you know."
"I got one – a kid. I can't keep it with me, and it needs a home."
"I can't just take ANY kid."
"She's only a couple days old. I found the mother's body; the baby was almost dead…"
"Yeah. I've kept it alive this long, but…"
"A GIRL, is she…"
"Normal – no obvious birth defects, no sign of addictive withdrawal?"
"Nope, she's as normal as any baby I've ever seen."
"Bring her to my office."
"I got a couple, woman's unable to have kids, they can't adopt through normal channels due to some DUI's the husband had in the past. They are paying fifty grand for a baby."
"And you are SURE they are...?"
"Desperate to have a baby – the kid will be spoiled rotten. The husband's a programmer and makes good money."
"I want to know who they are – and where they are. This kid – I'm gonna keep my eyes on her."
"Fair enough, Creed."
He drove to St. Louis, and pulled into the parking lot of the office building where Paul had his office. He almost didn't want to give her up, but he just couldn't keep this up, not with her. She needed a family…but if these people gave him any reason, he was turning around and walking away, kid still attached to his chest.
"Here he is now." He heard Paul say as he opened the door. The couple was young, mid twenties. The woman was pretty, in a normal way, and the man was geeky looking. He wanted to turn and walk out but he didn't. He unzipped the jacket, and she let out a little mew of protest.
"Oh, Rick…" The woman said, and suddenly she was beautiful. She wanted to be a mother, he could see it, smell it, and as soon as she set eyes on his bundle, a bond was formed. He knew she was the right woman, and had little regret unfastening the carrier and handing the little bundle over.
"Thank you. Paul said her mother is dead?"
"Yeah – I found her; she couldn't have been more than an hour old. The mother's body was already cold when I got there, so I just…picked her up."
"In an alley in Chicago – the mother looked about fifteen, I didn't notice any sign of drug use on the mother, and I've had her two days."
"I want her."
"Alright. I have the money with me…"
"Wait." Victor said. "I got it."
"WHAT?!" Paul looked at him strangely.
"Naa – they're gonna need the money for the kid."
"Thank you." The woman – Marge said. He grabbed a piece of paper from the desk and wrote down a number.
"If you need anything – call this number, tell them you are looking for Creed, they'll get me a message."
He handed Paul the money he'd pulled from his bank account, and turned and walked for the door.
"Here's our address and phone – if you want to check on her, please…don't hesitate." Marge said, holding the baby bundled against her chest. He nodded, and tucked the paper in his pocket. He walked away, without looking back. He'd done his good deed – now he could get on with his life.