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>>the cards — chapter two: gambling addictions::

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Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.

Author's Note: Sequel to Poker Night. This is the second part in a continuing series, so don't worry… there will be follow-up. Special thanks to Ignorant One, for tracking me down and helping me continue the insanity.


Wolf tossed awake, sitting up wearily and staring at the flashing light on the wall, the low whoop of the alarm filling the ship and rattling the glass of water he'd left on the bedstand. A call to battle stations, now? He groaned and held his head in his hands, closing his eyes, and tried to remember the last time he got some decent sleep. Even if a night on this ship went without interruption, the dreams would land on him, hot restless dreams of his encounter on a station not long ago.

There was a tap at the door, and then it eased open, Leon looking at him and not surprised at how spent Wolf looked. "Sorry, boss. Looks like its mildly serious this time, they want us in uniform and sorting for launch."

He groaned and nodded, staggering to his feet and pulling a shirt on. He'd slept mostly dressed, boots still laced. Leon watched him move across the room, pulling a uniform shirt on and shrugging into the jacket, picking up his eyepatch and sliding it into place. His BlackSky jacket hung over the chair in the room, but he didn't wear it on duty here, wearing the uniform issued.


"Yeah? What is it, Powalski?"

Leon stared at him for a long moment, leaning a shoulder on the door frame. "Are you ok for this?"

"Fought in worse shape then this before, and I have no doubt I'll have to do so again." Wolf shook his head. "Let's go get ready to meet the maker, already."

Andrew met them in the bay, fidgeting and pacing, looking relieved when they arrived. "What took so long?"

Wolf ignored him, walking by him and climbing the ladder into his ship, nodding to the crewmember who took it away and closing the cockpit. With that done, he rubbed his eyes, slouching into the surprisingly comfortable seat and waiting for instruction. He saw Leon speak briefly to Andrew, then they did the same, both glancing at him. He shook his head, putting on a radio headset, not surprised when almost immediately his current boss' voice came on.

"Looks like Corneria caught wind of what's going on, because they've sent a team to check it out. It's the Star Fox team."

He startled fully awake, sitting up and buckling into the harness, tapping the headset. "Star Fox is coming?"

"They're already here, breaking atmosphere on Venom as we speak. Take them out with extreme prejudice." There was a pause. "One of the pilots on the team is under our contract, though his copilots are unaware of the fact, so expect one to form up with you."

"Oh ho HO! A turncoat!" Leon sounded entertained.

"Mercenaries don't turncoat, Powalski. They just take different assignments. You are go for launch."

Wolf brought his ship to power and launched, waiting for his copilots to fall in with him then opening the throttle, switching to their battle frequency. The Star Fox team? That was definitely a sign that the Cornerian government was really worried, and probably a sign that the shit would hit the fan very soon. Wolf had heard plenty about them; BlackSky was immediately abuzz if they heard that the Star Fox team was deployed, no matter the reason. They were a very small group, only a trio, but their razorsharp precision and flight skills had earned them more then enough respect around the mercenary groups and military crews of Lylat. They didn't come cheap, but expertise never did.

Wolf had always wanted to meet them, and now it seemed he would, even if it was on the far side of his gun sights.

This will prove interesting…

"We've got incoming."

James twisted in his seat, looking toward Peppy, who had oriented on the incoming ships automatically. Another trio, in fighter planes he hadn't seen before. "That was inevitable, hell, I was getting bored! Do we still have data stream going?"

"Yeah, we've got more then enough to prove there's military production going on. Andross is definitely getting ready to start shit, but how did he get all of this together?"

"He's resourceful." James' voice was quiet, falling into formation with Peppy and Pigma, doing a wide circle and seeing their adversaries do the same thing. "Looks like they want us to make the first move…"

"I think I'll do that for them." Pigma opened the throttle and broke formation, charging right at the unknown trio, which turned to face him. James opened his mouth to cry out, but then gaped when no shots were fired, the Arwing pulling a u-turn and falling into formation.

"What the fuck?" Peppy demanded, pulling back on the throttle as James did. The odds had just shifted, and he cast a look at his leader, who said nothing.

"Sorry, boss. You know how it is." Pigma replied with a cackle.

"Who are your friends?" James replied coolly. "Since they're apparently accommodating enough to pay you enough to swap sides, I'm curious."

A silence, then another voice came on. "Wolf O’Donnell, Star Wolf team. Nothing personal, you understand. Just business."

James startled hard enough his plane jolted in midair, lifting a hand to rub his chin. "Speak for yourself. Kid."

"Kid?" Leon snorted, looking toward Wolf.


Oh my god! J? Star Fox, fuck, that's James McCloud!

…James McCloud spent a weekend fucking my brains out at a station?

Oh my fucking god!

… ok so we fucked each others brains out.

How did I not figure this out?!

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

The silence stretched on the battlefield, Wolf not moving his group forward, James and Peppy staying back. Wolf bit his lower lip, mind racing, forcing his hands to stay steady on the controls. Finally he cleared his throat, speaking as clearly as he could. "Two on four isn't the best odds, old man."

"That all depends on your perspective." James' voice had changed, he was speaking only to Wolf, hell with the others and their inquisitive noises.

"Spare me the entendres. You know what I mean. I'm supposed to wipe you and your friend there out."

"War is fucking hell."

"Bolt. Go on. I'll take the heat for it."

"Retreat ain't in my dictionary, kid. We gunna do this, or are you not as tough as I figured?"

Wolf was silent, then sighed, smiling. "Show me what you got, old man."

"Oh you already know that."

"Excuse me, what the fuck?" Pigma's voice demanded, and wasn't answered as Wolf's fighter suddenly dove forward, and the fight was on.

Even four on two, the fight lasted a while. Star Wolf may have had more people, but James and Peppy had been fighting together so long they didn't have to talk. They knew where the other was going to be, dodging through the four and paying out destruction as fast they could. Even with that much skill, though, there was only so much they could do when outnumbered two to one.

"Peppy, get the fuck out of here." James' voice held no room for argument, chasing Pigma off Peppy's tail even as he said that.

"I'm not going to leave you here!"

"And I'm not going to die without my son being able to hear an explanation! GO! That's an order! Save yourself, I'll deal with these assholes as best I can."

Peppy managed to get out of the furball of a fight, and after a long hesitation cut away, flying nearly straight up as he boosted away from the fight, not wanting to leave, but unable to argue the orders given.

"Let him go." Wolf watched the limping Arwing leave, and then turned his eyes to James' plane, which had separated from the fight. It was beat up bad, but so were his groups' wolvens. Had it been three on three, James would have won hands-down, as it was Andrew had been forced to retreat, and everyone else didn't have much left. "Cease fire."

"What?!" Leon demanded.

"I said hold your guns." Wolf barked, flying forward and doing a circle of James' Arwing then flipping around, pacing him upside down so he could look through the cockpit glass down into the Arwing. "Hey there old man."

"Hey there yourself kid." James replied, looking back. He was sprawled in the worn pilot's seat, hands settled comfortably on the controls. He could have been driving down some street, cruising for girls, he'd have looked the same.

Wolf swallowed hard, looking at him and wondering how he made a uniform just as sexy as leather. "I'd feel a little strange if I killed you."

"Then let me do it!" Pigma sniveled.

"Shut the fuck up and let the adults talk, asshole." James replied acridly to his former wingmate.

"Hey, I'm older then he is!"

Wolf shook his head, already able to tell Pigma was going to drive him mad. "I suppose your little plan is useless here."

"The best-laid plans always find a way to go wrong." James replied dryly. "And I don't particularly want you dead either, though I have differing opinions about your wingmates. That said, in this condition, three on one is pushing it, even for me."

Wolf snorted, unable to help it.

"So what do we do, eh kid?"

"Excuse me for interrupting this beautiful Kodak moment, but we have standing orders, boss." Leon's voice was calm, quelling his questions for now-he'd pry the answers free from Wolf later. The banter between the two was comfortable, but their voice tones were odd. Clearly, something interesting was going on here…

"I'm changing the orders." Wolf turned his attention back to James, who hadn't tried to bolt, just staring up at him with half-lidded eyes. Wolf suppressed a shudder. "White flag?"

"You mean let myself be captured?" His voice was sour. "You know Andross won't honor a white flag from me."

"You got a better idea?"

There was a long silence, then James shook his head. "Not really." Die here, or die captured? At least the latter left some fidget room. It was hard to put him in a room he couldn't eventually get out of, it was just a matter of whether his captors gave him enough time to do so.

"Then get into formation, old man." Wolf tapped the accelerator, dropping down in front of James and leading him back to Pigma and Leon, which hung in the air, shocked stupid.

"You've got to be kidding me, Wolf." Leon finally said.

"It look like I'm kidding?"

"O’Donnell, what the fuck is wrong with you?" Pigma wanted to know, casting looks at his former leader, who flew at Wolf's right wing, nearly close enough to be in his pocket. Clearly, James knew Pigma would have no issue taking him out of the sky.

Wolf sent a rude gesture his way through the cockpit glass, leading the three battered fighters out of the atmosphere, returning to the carrier they'd launched from.

Wolf wasn't surprised when Andross, in uniform and looking irritated, was waiting for them in the docking bay. He was sure he'd catch hell for what he did, but Andross just kind of shrugged, turning his attention to the Arwing which had been parked in a corner of the cruiser's large docking bay. James was leaning against it, looking at a pair of security guards, who were looking back with the expressions of those who believed they were not stupid enough to fuck with him.

"Actually O’Donnell, this isn't a bad idea you had." Andross finally said thoughtfully, and then walked across the docking bay, brushing the guards aside. "Hey there, McCloud."

"Doctor Andross. I was told you were in charge of this horde of insanity." James replied, not moving from where he was. "I figured I had a better chance here then a three on one dogfight in a damaged craft."

"Of course, if you'd had a fresh plane, you'd have taken them out." Andross replied, tone conversational.

James grinned. "Well, the irritating ones at least."

"Right. Well, I imagine you know the routine."

"Cuffs and horrible food?" He rolled his eyes and offered both wrists forward. "Come on you cowards, I'm not going to try to be a hero." This was directed at the guards, who came forward and cuffed him.

"Why'd you spare him? You could have taken him out of the sky." Pigma looked toward Wolf, who was watching this happen with a sort of agony slowly filling him.

"Like you give a shit about my reasons." Wolf replied, watching James get escorted by, who looked quite comfortable in handcuffs. "Get arrested often, old man?"

James grinned at him over his shoulder. "Only on the really good nights." Then he was gone down the hallway, whistling as he walked, the two guards looking soundly freaked out. Classically, nothing made guards edgier then a confident hero.

"That man needs to write a biography." Wolf muttered to himself, rubbing his eyes and trying to calm down.

"You know him too, hm?" Andross walked over to Wolf, hands in his pockets and looking amused. "I have for years."

"I haven't known him that long, but yeah… I've met him before." Wolf replied finally. Leon looked at Wolf, looked at the Arwing, and lifted what counted on a reptilian as eyebrows.

"Don't worry too much about him. I already know that throwing him to interrogators would be a useless act that would mostly get me broken interrogators." Andross shrugged. "I'll decide what to do with him later." That said, the scientist-cum-emperor moved on, leaving the bay for some other point of the ship.

Once he was gone, Leon grabbed Wolf by the scruff and tugged him away from the others, who looked at this in confusion but decided against asking. "Yes, I know you're going to beat the shit out of me for doing that, but I figure you don't want them to hear this. That was J, wasn't it? From the station?"

Wolf rubbed his neck and looked at Leon for a long moment, then sighed. "I was hoping you didn't remember."

"I try to remember choice eye candy. So that IS him? You met James McCloud on a station, didn't realize, and got advice off him?" Leon set his hands on his hips. "I find that hard to believe, so I have to guess you're either dense as hell or lied to me."

He crossed his arms. "First, people tend to look a bit different out of uniform, especially when they're wearing outfits meant for metal concerts. Second, yeah I am a bit dense for not figuring it out, but can you really blame me?"

"So you didn't lie to me?"

"No, but I sure as hell didn't tell you the whole truth." Wolf grinned and left the docking bay, leaving Leon sputtering behind him.

Once inside his own quarters, Wolf leaned on the locked door and howled in frustration, fingers curling helplessly in the air then letting his hands fall. So the evasive, sexy, knowledgeable "J" of the station was James McCloud, known ace, long-time Mercenary and largely hailed as some sort of hero (what sort was dependent on who you asked). To think, this widely known man had casually invited him to bed, and he'd been none the wiser. He'd probably seen more of James then the news crews of Corneria ever had, and knew him better. Knew what he liked to eat, what he liked to wear, what made him twitch, how he liked to sleep.

Wolf had been reading reports of Star Fox's activities for years, damn near as long as he'd been a combat pilot. Of the three, it was recognized that James was the best. And now he was on the ship that Wolf was, locked down, and Wolf knew that the chances of him getting off this ship alive were slim.

Wolf staggered away from the door and sat down heavily on the edge of the bed, cradling his head and shoulders jerking once. Why the hell did this hurt so bad? This wasn't someone he'd even dated. This was someone he'd sport fucked, for god's sake. And yet, the older vulpine had been in and out of his dreams since it had happened, haunted him, and just catching his scent in passing as James had been escorted away had sent Wolf's sex drive into madness.

One thing was for certain. The system was winding up for war, he was going to be busy, and the last thing he needed was this level of distraction. But what could he do about it? Not a damn thing. Ask his current boss to spare the prisoner's life, maybe, which was sure to be laughed at. McCloud was a threat to Andross' motives.

He sighed, lacing his fingers together and setting his muzzle on top of them, staring blankly at the steel wall across from the bed. His copilots would just have to deal with him being a cranky asshole, he decided. Unless he suddenly found someone who outsexied James, he doubted he was going to get rid of this level of frustration for some time.

James paced the length and width of the cell, thinking. He'd seen some pretty heavy monitoring systems on his way here. The cell itself wasn't the problem, it was not getting caught again on the way out.

He was assuming they weren't going to destroy his still-flyable plane. Even if they did, he could hijack one of theirs. There weren't many spaceships out there that James couldn't fly. They'd probably monkey around with his Arwing of course, but there was no reason to destroy it or cripple it.

He'd need a distraction and he'd need it fast. Andross knew him, and knew he'd be trying to find a way out of this. The only fate here was some sort of death, probably by execution.

I doubt you planned it that way kid. You just didn't want to kill me or watch me die. Isn't it funny that we ended up on different sides of this damn conflict.

He'd read Wolf's name plates in passing, on that different uniform Venomian, guessed, the colors were right. Wolf O’Donnell. The name was familiar, especially when in conjunction with BlackSky Mercenaries. He'd heard of this kid before, in passing. That figured. And from the slightly boggled look on Wolf's face, he was having trouble believing he'd had sexual relations with the lead of Star Fox. Oh well.

The kid was a distraction and one he'd have to put well out of his mind to get out of here. After all, he wasn't going to be able to get said kid back into bed while trapped in a cell, and wouldn't want to anyways. Some environments were just too oppressive to bother with.

For Wolf, the war seemed to drag by at an agonizing pace. Even when he was fighting, he had to struggle to keep focused. Even if J hadn't been trapped on one of the Venomian cruisers, he'd have had issues with it. The BlackSky mercenaries were getting the short end of the stick on this war, they had fighters on both sides of the conflict and were losing them in droves. He'd gotten multiple messages from his real employers, telling him just to make it through the war alive and to ditch the contract if necessary for survival.

But it didn't seem like an option. Even if he left, he doubted he could survive running from this massive fleet. So he suffered in silence, that was until Corneria decided to pay off some more mercenaries and things got all the more interesting for the laughably named Star Wolf team.

Apparently, even though Pigma was working the other side and J was locked up, the Star Fox team still stood. Wolf watched their first fights on satellite imagery, and for the first time since this had started, his interest was peaked. Apparently flying planes ran in J's blood, because now in charge of Star Fox was his son, Fox McCloud. Speaking of laughable names…

Well, laughable names or not, the two groups practically crashed head-on over the skies of Fortuna. Wolf had chosen the deploy time because the Star Fox team was distracted by what was going on planetside, a good time to come in from above and mix things up, see if these new pilots had anything going for them.

What shocked him was that in the end he was driven away, the Wolfen fighter limping out of the atmosphere for repairs. He had a new and reluctant respect for Fox McCloud, who as far as he was concerned was a fucking greenhorn, and had no real right to pull off what he just had. It was a startling thing for Wolf, who went from sulky to angry, watching his group's fightercam videos of the fights repeatedly as he stewed on the upset. Fox McCloud, newbie, young, too goddamn pretty for his own good. The vulpine brat had huge eyes, surprisingly huge eyes. The effect was like dressing a Precious Moments figurine in a basic deployment uniform and it suddenly having the talents of Rambo.

Pigma Dengar was able to give Wolf some information about the younger McCloud. Apparently James had raised him nearly by himself, and to that end Fox was a daddy's boy to the extreme, flying planes before he touched a car. Couldn't command well, though, and was clearly not a natural leader.

So what to do about it?

Wolf had been up a very long time, surrounded by battle footage, when he shoved away from the screen and left the room, pacing through the cruiser and showing his ID badge to the guard stationed outside the brig. The guard was skeptical of his motives but let him in, seeing the lupine was not in the mood for any sort of argument. Through the security door the brig was empty, except for one figure.

James McCloud was shirtless, on the floor. He was doing one-armed pushups, other arm resting across the small of his back. Wolf felt his hackles go up, swallowing slowly and willing his voice to life. It did so in the form of a very soft sultry growl, and James startled, somehow on his toes immediately, crouched and hands raised in a fighting stance until he saw who it was.

"You scared the shit out of me, kid." He stood fully, walking over and leaning on the bars. "Well, come on over, I don't bite."

"Yes you do." Wolf replied, walking over slowly, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I'm sorry. For getting you into this, I mean."

James shrugged. "It isn't your fault. Your only other option you had was to turn on your contract and side with me, and we both know that would have made you unemployable in the mercenary business. I know how it is. I'm not mad."

"That takes a load off my mind." Wolf replied sourly. "I need to ask you about something."

"Ask it. You look exhausted, kid." James hesitated, then reached between the bars and brushed his fingertips over Wolf's cheekbone, fingers going through thick fur and thumb tracing along his lower eyelid. "When did you last sleep?"

"Yesterday." Wolf's good eye closed, sucking in air to steel his willpower. "It's about your son."

James pulled back his arm, frowning. "Alright, you have my attention."

"The reason I've been up since yesterday is because he nearly shot me down. He and his friends did however shoot down my copilots, who are alive but unfortunately lost their craft. Bringing me to this question: is he good, or is he lucky?"

The older man sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "In my opinion? He's good. He never beat me in a dogfight, but he's a quick learner. He figures things out. Sees holes in other people's strategies."

"But not in his own strategies."

"Bingo." James nodded once. "That'll come with experience, though."

"He's getting plenty of that in this war." Wolf huffed. "Thanks."

"I can't say I wish I could do more, but…"

"I know what you mean."

"Entertain me with who's winning?"

"Honestly, old man? I have no idea." That said, Wolf staggered from the brig and back to his own quarters, fingers rubbing over where James had touched him briefly. It had done nothing to clear his conscience, but sleep eventually came, unbidden.

Wolf was too busy to visit after that, trying to help with deployment and defense as Venom's forces were slowly but surely driven back. The younger McCloud and his teammates were working closely with what was left of Corneria's military, and Venom seemed to have spent itself all at once. Wolf could tell this contract wasn't going to end well.

Yet, somewhere along the line he'd gotten to be friends with Leon, who in spite of being a sadistic asshole had an offbeat and quirky sense of humor that made the reptile likable. Pigma and Andrew were mostly irritating, both leading with their mouths and depending far too much on the quality of their aircraft, but Wolf thought he could work these issues out if given time. He doubted he had that time though, at the rate Venom was being pushed back.

The last conflict for his group of misfit mercenaries came in the skies of Venom itself. The cruiser they had launched from lay crippled in the Venom Air Defense zone, having just been razed by the Star Fox team, which apparently did more damage when they were just seemingly passing through. Wolf tried not to think about the fact that James was jailed on that cruiser, because with nothing in their way Star Fox went straight for Venom.

And Wolf was slapped in the face yet again, by what he thought would be impossible. Fox had improved tremendously over the course of the conflict, gaining the ability to work and coordinate with his copilots. It wasn't long before the dogfight dissolved into chaos as Pigma and Andrew split off from formation, and were quickly picked out of the air by the invading Arwings. Leon stuck with him, but they were powerless to stop the sudden shift in odds.

Somewhere along the way, Wolf stopped thinking about who he was fighting and started hammering on his weapons controls, a red haze on his vision and rage itching under his skin. He refused to believe a greenhorn was going to send him down, and in the end that was exactly what happened. High-powered laserfire from the pursuing Arwings sent the already damaged Wolfen into a flatspin through Venom's heavy atmosphere, eventually clipping into the packed earth and skidding to a halt, wings gone and engines offline.

Wolf popped the cockpit glass open and stood on what was left of his plane. The lupine's eyes narrowed as he stood watching the four on one dogfight above him. A brief flash of light and another smoke cloud in the distance suggested Leon had suffered a similar fate. The Star Fox team was all worse for wear; his group had done some damage to the Arwings but not enough to force any one of them on the retreat.

Wolf picked Fox's plane out of the group, which abruptly broke off and dove inside the nearby base. "Someone needs to put you in your place, McCloud." Even as he said that, the other three Arwings broke off and left the area, and a slow grin crossed his features as he broke into a sprint across the packed dry ground. It may as well be me.

Fox's plane shot out of the base, panting and looking over his shoulder at it. Sure enough, the corridor he'd just come out of had collapsed behind him. Damn that was TOO close… he twisted around in his seat and scanned the sky, then looked at his radar, and frowned when he saw it was empty. He knew what he had seen, but his instrumentation didn't confirm it and the other plane was gone. It may as well have been a ghost…

He was just about to key his radio and contact his teammates when his Arwing started screaming alarms, and he had just enough time to see a warning about anti-air weaponry flash across his screens before it started slamming into his plane. He yelped in surprise and fought the controls, but the damage was done before he could take any sort of action. The chaff rounds blew holes through the left wing of his Arwing, which promptly malfunctioned. His attempts to control his flight on engine power alone failed miserably, and he had a bleak flash of spinning ground before the g-force sent him under.

Fox wasn't sure how long it was later that he woke up. The cockpit of the Arwing still opened alright, and he released the flight harness, climbing out and ending up falling to the hard, cracked ground next to the plane. He shook his head dazedly, looking at his craft and pleasantly surprised. It was whole with the exception of the ruined wing, and he could hear the engines ticking down from overheating. Sure, it was noseplanted into the ground, but he could hear the cockpit-glass-open chime distantly so he assumed the damn thing was flyable once it cooled off.

He was so absorbed in examining his Arwing that he didn't notice the approaching footsteps until they were very close, and he turned his head slowly, looking up with sudden dread at a figure that was a good bit larger then he was. Frozen, he looked up at the lupine, eyes focusing on the eyepatch, then the fact that the figure had a broad enough chest to iron on.

Wolf heard his knuckles crack as he stared down at the younger man, who was goggling up at him. The headsup display had been surprisingly accurate, the brat couldn't have been more then twenty, if that, and his large eyes looked even bigger from the brat's expression. Now that Wolf could see all of Fox, his good eye trailed along the younger man's lighter, wiry build and lack of battlescars.

"Welcome to Venom." That said, Wolf kicked forward viciously. His boot caught the bottom edge of Fox's jaw, who cried out in pain and surprise, flipped from laying on his stomach to sitting up, leaning on his arms and spitting out blood. "Did you really think I was going to let you get away?"

Fox wiped at the blood dripping from his mouth, tongue prodding where his teeth had cut into the inside of cheek as a result of the kick. "What the FUCK?"

"Get up." Wolf suggested, taking a step forward slowly. Fox scrambled backwards across the ground, lurching to his feet and wiping at the blood again. "Much better, I'd hate to have to beat the shit out of you without getting a peep of a fight back…"

Fox took another step backwards, feet finding a stance remembered from self-defense lessons and hands coming up. "Wolf O’Donnell? What the hell do you want?" He finally asked, ears folding back nervously. He knew it was a stupid question, simply because guys who were willing to kick you when you're down generally didn't have complicated motives.

"You. Humiliated."

Wolf led with his fists, hard hammerblows that Fox didn't have a chance in hell at deflecting. He felt ribs give under the impacts of his fists, confirmed by sharp barks of pain as Fox tried to fight back. Wolf wasn't surprised at the lack of decent resistance, and it didn't take long for him to take Fox's feet out from under him, pinning him on his back to the ground, holding Fox's wrists above his head.

He stared down at the younger man, snarling furiously, and was almost disgusted by what he saw. McCloud struggled underneath him, but he could hear weak muffled sobs of pain and panic, the vulpine's tail curled between his legs. "What the fuck, McCloud?" He released Fox's arms and sat back, staring down at the pathetic sight. "You aren't a soldier. You aren't anything close." He grabbed the front of Fox's uniform and drug Fox into a sitting position, their faces inches apart. "What gives you the right to beat me, greenhorn?"

Fox stared at him, blinking tears away, and in a sudden move slammed a fist forward, nailing a cinderblock hit into Wolf's solar plexus. Wolf fell back, gasping in surprise, clambering to his feet as Fox did. "And what the fuck," Fox turned his head and spat out blood again, rubbing his ribs and wincing, "Gives you the right to do this when I've already won, you asshole?"

Wolf stared at him, and snarled. "Oh, big mistake, whelp." He lunged back into the fight, pleased when he actually got a decent struggle, having to block and return blows, McCloud still scrambling backwards but now volleying out some hard kicks and punches. Wolf could feel that he'd have bruises, but he didn't pretend to care, speaking in a snarl around his strikes. "You haven't won, McCloud. Not.. even… close!" To punctuate this he lashed forward in a roundhouse, which sent Fox to the ground again, spitting out more blood and whining. "You seem to think that all you need to know how to do is fly a plane. You are wrong."

Fox tried to push himself to his feet and failed, Wolf's punch had hit just above his eyesocket and now the world was spinning and bleary, vision washing red as blood ran into one of his eyes. He blinked painfully, trying to get up again and snarling weakly when his shoulder was grabbed, flipped roughly onto his back and pinned again, staring up at his enemy and shuddering. Wolf's expression was maniacal, and Fox swallowed roughly, catching himself waiting for a killing blow.

Wolf stared down at the trembling figure, kneeling straddling Fox's chest and holding Fox's arms to the ground. The vulpine looked terrible; he was bleeding and battered, gasping for air. But still, Wolf was stunned to find that yes, this young man did seem to look like a much younger James McCloud. Built a lot different though, he doubted that Fox could ever be built like his old man.

Wolf's next move was without thought, muzzle swooping down. Fox stiffened, sure his throat was about to be brutally torn out, and gasped in surprise when his muzzle was caught in a bruising liplock, Wolf hungrily biting at him until the vulpine's mouth opened, then diving a long hungry tongue into Fox's mouth. Fox whined and struggled as best he could, confused, but couldn't get away from the strange embrace until he was released.

Fox pushed himself back across the ground, Wolf stayed crouched on the ground staring at him, hackles up and licking his lips slowly. Fox had tasted of his own blood, and it had sent a rush of instinct through Wolf's body. Wolf let himself growl, watching Fox's confused expression.

"Why. The FUCK. Did you just kiss me?" Fox finally spat out, wiping at the blood dripping from the cut above his eye, breathing coming in hard gasps.

Wolf crawled forward languidly, tail up in a curl behind him, leaning in and putting himself nose-to-nose with the younger McCloud again. Fox winced, staring back at him, then whined when Wolf's tongue scrubbed over the cut above Fox's eye once. Fox had never seen a Lylatian go so feral, so animal, and was very very alarmed to feel his body start responding to the attention. "Because you're a bitch." Wolf's voice was a low growl, making Fox jitter. "Even if you can fly planes, and well, you're nothing but a bitch on the ground." He pounced forward, taking Fox back to the ground, hands pinning Fox's shoulders to the ground and lower body grinding into Fox.

"Get off…!" Fox protested, trailing sharply into a yelp as jaws encircled his throat. His body stiffened automatically, tail trying to curl between his legs and only knocking into one of Wolf's hips in the process. Wolf laughed, running a long lick across Fox's throat then forcing another hungry kiss, Fox's shoves unable to dislodge him. Fox's hands ended up splayed helplessly on Wolf's chest, he'd tried shoving upward and it did nothing to move the heavier canine. Feeling helpless, he whined and squirmed, unable to believe what was happening. Getting beat up was easier then this, and that point was driven home when one of Wolf's knees nudged purposefully into his groin, rubbing in a way he found alarming, then panic worthy when his hips pushed upwards into the attention unbidden. He jerked his head to one side, breaking the embrace and gasping for air. "STOP!"

"No." Wolf stared down at him, eyes half-open, listening to Fox's ragged breathing. He had felt the brief thrust, and when he rubbed his knee against Fox again he could feel the start of a bulge, watching a tangle of emotions pass over Fox's face. "Why should I?" He leaned down and sucked on the smaller male's neck, slow deep pulls that drew soft outcries from the subject of his attention. "You don't want me to…" He whispered this, a hint of tenderness sneaking into his voice.

Fox jerked and fought against the pin again, snarling. Wolf let him escape, watching the vulpine stagger unsteadily this feet and wobble to his plane, leaning on it for balance, panting. Wolf stood and followed with a grin, putting Fox against his plane and lacing his arms over Fox's, trapping him. Fox cried out and struggled weakly, barking once when very strong jaws wrapped around the back of his neck and put pressure on. "Let go of me, you fucking freak." He snarled this, trying to turn but trapped, chest against the still-warm metal of his Arwing.

"Mm. No. But that is a wonderful idea…" Wolf had let his neck go, sharp teeth toying with one of Fox's sensitive ears, grinding his hips into Fox. "I think I'll fuck your brains out."

That drew a faint whine from his subject's throat, Fox's body jerking once but unable to break the awkward pin. "Wolf… I'm not gay…"

"Funny…" One of Wolf's hands moved, sliding between Fox's body and the hull of the Arwing, palming over the bulge in Fox's pants. "Your body seems to disagree…" Fox whimpered, a pathetic puppy noise, warmth pulsing and shoving against Wolf's palm. "I want you, McCloud. I want to dominate you. I want to hear you call out."

"For fuck's sake… ngh.." Fox squirmed, unable to stop a noticeable shudder that passed through him when Wolf said that. "But…"

Wolf snorted, then let a low growl rumble in his throat. "But what, Fox? I shouldn't have to point this out, but you aren't in a position to argue anything, McCloud." Wolf's hand rubbed against Fox's clothed hardon, grinning to himself when Fox's tail shifted position automatically, lifted, submissive. "I promise that you will enjoy it." He shifted his attention back to Fox's neck and ground into him to punctuate his every word. "Every… last… thrust. I will make… you… scream."

Fox hissed, shaking in his arms. "Go fuck yourself, O’Donnell. I am not your toy."

"If that attitude of yours keeps up, no more foreplay for you." He bit into one of Fox's shoulders, yanking on and managing to undo the younger man's belt. The uniform pants were loose enough to allow easy movement normally, not cargos but certainly not a typical flight jumpsuit, which made it easy for him to get the buttons undone, hand wrapping around Fox's unwanted arousal. Wolf was surprised at Fox's lack of any sort of underwear, but shrugged, one less obstacle. "I'd go down on you to loosen you up, but I don't trust you not to do something stupid." He whispered this too, smiling when Fox thrust without thought into his hand, whining. "Maybe if we meet again after this, hmm?"

"O’Donnell…" This was said in a faint, pleading voice, enough so that Wolf stilled his ministrations. "Why are you doing this?"

Wolf licked one of Fox's ears. "Because I'm the alpha and you are beautiful. Even beat up and bleeding, you are still beautiful."

Fox closed his eyes, unable to believe what he had just heard. The start of it sounded like what Wolf had said only moments ago, dominance play, but a weird soft tone came into Wolf's voice toward the end. It didn't matter much though, he was being shoved into this and he couldn't even claim it was rape. He had been horny before this whole ordeal had even started; fighting did that to him, flight did that to him, and now here was a rough unwelcome solution.

I'm straight, dammit! Never considered even kissing a guy- oh my god that feels good…Fox's head fell back, lolling on Wolf's shoulder, growling faintly as Wolf sucked on his neck, his hips moving by instinct into Wolf's teasing touch. Wolf snickered into his neck, whispering again that he was just a bitch, and Fox didn't bother trying to argue the namecalling. He let himself get lost in the sensations, arching into the roaming hands that were yanking at the flightsuit again, leaning against his plane with Wolf's larger body still pinning him there.

Wolf grinned to himself when Fox suddenly submitted, nearly inaudible growls escaping Fox when Wolf started getting some of his clothes off. Fox was clearly torn, liking what he felt and hating himself for it. Wolf hadn't planned this, he'd just wanted to pick a fight, beat the crap out of him, but he couldn't stop himself. Mine. He knew he didn't have a lot of time, so settled on the minimum state of undress that would still allow movement, grinding against Fox and growling impatiently. My bitch, all mine.

Fox yipped in surprise when the weight pressing into him was briefly gone, one of his shoulders was grabbed and he was flipped around, his back slamming back into the Arwing, Wolf leaned over him and captured him in another bruising kiss. Fox whined into it, groaning when Wolf's hips ground into his, thrusting back slightly before he caught himself doing it. Wolf chuckled into the kiss, hands brushing gently through the fur on Fox's cheeks then coming to rest on the sides of the radio headset. There was a pause, during which he broke the kiss and leaned back, claws tapping the radio thoughtfully.

"McCloud, you just went through a fight, not to mention me coming onto you hard, and were still wearing your headset. It still has power." Wolf lifted an eyebrow, Fox blinked and looked stupefied. "Forgot to use it? Well, too bad, we don't need your screams accidentally broadcast across Corneria's military bands." That said, he pulled it off and dropped it aside. "Those screams are going to be just for me." He leaned back in, jaws at Fox's throat again. Fox moaned softly, squirming again, then stilling when one of Wolf's hands wrapped back around his length, caressing it gently.

Wolf's other hand was rummaging through his heavy cargo pockets. Before he'd launched for Venom not so very long ago, he'd emptied his flight locker on the cruiser. His pants managed to cling to his hips somehow, despite weighted down heavily by clips of cash and personal possessions, and at least two handguns by his count. That said it took a few minutes to find what he was looking for, hand closing triumphantly around the tube. Getting the cap off one-handed was easy enough, but he pulled the other hand away from the teasing handjob he'd been giving McCloud, figuring it was time to stop the teasing. Fucking him was one thing, hurting McCloud bad while doing so was quite another.

Fox meanwhile had seemed to give up resisting, hands scratching Wolf's shoulders when Wolf bit one of his ears, crying out weakly. Wolf growled into his ear and caught him for another kiss, murmuring when this time Fox kissed back weakly, jittering. Still, it wasn't enough of a distraction when one of Wolf's fingers invaded his tail hole; Fox startled and dug his claws into Wolf's back hard enough to remove layers of skin. The lupine broke the kiss long enough to whisper for him to relax, which didn't help much.

Fox whimpered, uncomfortable with what was happening on a mental level, unhappy that his body rocked into it. Wolf's eyes were nearly closed, trailing gentle nibbles along Fox's jaw and neck, growling softly to himself in a very impatient way. Fox's erection was rubbing along Wolf's toned stomach, nestled in fur, the feel of soft friction was delightful. He let himself go nearly limp again, dazed in a storm of alien feelings and sensations, leaning his weight back into his plane and staring at Wolf with hooded eyes.

Wolf's fingers moved after a few minutes, hissing to himself as he slicked lube over his arousal then pressing back against Fox's body, biting Fox's throat again as he rubbed against Fox urgently. Fox growled at him, a hungry sounding noise, and that was all the permission Wolf needed to shove his way inside the smaller man.

Fox's cry echoed in the empty land, claws raking Wolf's back again, panting and gasping. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting; regardless the jolt of pain caught him off guard. Muscles protested as they moved, and little-used nerves burned to life. He keened weakly, burying his face into Wolf's shoulder, claws digging into the larger man's shoulder blades desperately. Wolf stilled and held him, chest heaving and nuzzling his neck, waiting for the pain to ebb away. Fox shifted after a second and looked at him in surprise, trying to shift his weight and ending up hissing when that shifted Wolf as well. He shifted again, and had to muffle a gasp; there was no way to position himself where he didn't feel the low invasive throb inside him.

Wolf only smiled a bit, nibbling on one of the vulpine's ears, then licking across the bleeding cut above one of Fox's eyes. "This… is a much more enjoyable way to solve conflicts…" He growled throatily at the end of this statement, stance shifting and backing off, enjoying the startled growl that escaped his subject. "In fact, I suggest we just do this instead from now on…!" His hips rammed forward, drawing a pleased feral yip that mingled nicely with his own growl.

"Ah… yeah right…" Fox had the dignity to snort at the idea, one hand tangling into the thick fur on the back of Wolf's neck, panting. Pinned against his own plane, being banged by his rival, oh how the mighty have fallen, he thought to himself. That dark thought wasn't enough to stop him from moaning in pleasure when Wolf thrust again, pressing his eyes shut.

The lupine snickered, drawing him into another kiss, which muffled Fox's kitten-like mewls once Wolf started steadily moving. Wolf could only growl, he liked the noises, and they did nothing to hold him back. The lupine released the kiss and leaned his muzzle against Fox's, panting softly as he let himself go, moving with every intent to leave Fox ravaged and sore.

Fox growled and whined into his captor's ear, fingers grasping at his back. He was furious with himself, part of his brain screaming for him to fight goddammit, even if he'd lost the fight he shouldn't have let himself be so roughly mounted, he was straight for fuck's sake! Though that fact was at the very least debatable, he thought hazily, feeling conscious thought rapidly leaving him.

Wolf licked along the length of the younger man's muzzle, watching emotion flicker over his expression. Seeing that not all of it was incoherency, he nudged Fox's muzzle back and licked at Fox's throat, nibbling with a growl, hands gripping Fox's hips to steady him. "Gods you're tight." He finally whispered, teeth fiddling with one of Fox's ears again, gasping raggedly for air as he tried to keep his fanatic pace. The war had been a horrible work contract to take, getting his ass kicked by a green pilot had pissed him off even worse, but this was a slice of paradise and he was going to pound it for all he was worth. He growled like a chainsaw, pausing to just grind against Fox, and had to grin when Fox muffled a scream into his shoulder at the feel of the lupine's knot nudging against him.

"Unholy fuck!" Fox hissed this out, eyes flying open, his claws tearing into Wolf's flightjacket.

Wolf stilled briefly, again grooming the cut he'd inflicted on his sub, sighing. "If we had time, I would, we don't."

Fox didn't reply, gnawing on his lower lip and shivering. If he got out of here, he was going to be hearing about it from his copilots and everyone else for his time off the radar. Before he could pursue this serious chain of thought though, Wolf rumbled in his ear and wrapped a hand around his near-painful arousal, startling a yip out of him.

"Stop thinking so much." Wolf whispered, slowly grinding, hand now stroking in earnest. Fox whined, prompting a snort as Wolf started moving again, slower this time, shifting his stance carefully until Fox shook in his arms and groaned. Wolf smiled and let his eyes close, leaning their muzzles together once more and muffling his own moan as he continued on the slower rhythm, hand moving in time to it. Fox clung to him, not trying to muffle his cries anymore.

In the end it was Fox that finished first, yelling out Wolf's name in surprise, gasping as he came in streaks across the other man's shirt. Wolf growled and held him tight, coming with a howl a few thrusts later as the vulpine's body tightened around him, head tossing back as pleasure rolled through him. It took him a few minutes to hear that Fox was making the kitten mewl noise again, and he shook his head, holding the smaller man gently for a few moments.

"I'm glad that we could spend some quality time together." Wolf snickered into Fox's ear and abruptly backed off. Fox yelped when the wolf pulled out and nearly collapsed to the ground, leaning heavily against his plane to keep from doing so. The lupine sighed and fixed his uniform, then pulled Fox back to a standing position, fixing his clothes for him and helping him back into his plane with a grunt, then retrieving and passing up the headset radio.

"What the fuck, O’Donnell?" Fox finally asked, leaning on the outer edge of the cockpit and looking at him, shuddering at the feeling of Wolf's cum leaking down his thighs. There were few parts of him that weren't hurting somehow, his ribs were screaming among other things, but he didn't find himself caring. He was too busy trying not to freak out, staring down at the man who had just given him the hardest, most mindblowing orgasm he'd had by his count, and now just felt plundered and empty.

Wolf propped an arm on one of the Arwing's battered wings and grinned, the expression had a primal edge to it. "Even if you won in the air today, McCloud, you'll have a hard time forgetting whose name you screamed at the end of the day. That said, your Arwing has cooled down and looks like it can get in the air: get the fuck off Venom. Go home. And don't come looking for me until you've learned how to fight." When he didn't get an immediate reaction, he made a shooing motion with one hand. "Go on, get out of here. Or I will climb up there and fly you home, and your comrades would probably not be pleased about it."

Fox blinked at him, then his brain seemed to jumpstart and he went through the motions of trying furiously to start the craft's engines. Wolf smiled a bit and shoved away, turning his back and walking back toward his speeder bike. The blast of wind from the Arwing taking off for space nearly knocked him down, but he didn't let it faze him. If nothing else, he was willing to bet Fox would be a greater challenge when they next met, and he'd probably have more then enough time to brush up his piloting skills.

The trip back to the Venomian ground base was uneventful; the base itself was half-collapsed from the air siege, and Wolf knew that full-bore Cornerian occupation couldn't be that far off. He'd already ditched the torn jacket and the uniform shirt, now it was just finding a way off planet that wouldn't be immediately shot out of the sky. He abandoned the speeder bike in front of the ruined base and circled it on foot, eventually ending up in an open hanger door, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

It took him a few minutes to notice Leon, who was lying on the ground of the base, only half in uniform and his skin changed to match his surroundings. And only when Leon saw that Wolf had noticed him did the chameleon move, skin tinting back toward green and sitting up lazily, tail flicking the ground behind him.

"I knew you'd show up eventually." Leon said simply, staying where he was as Wolf walked up to him. "Pigma and Andrew took off. Those two didn't want to wait around."

"Why did you stay, then?" Wolf asked, crouching on his toes in front of Leon, who had recently-stitched wounds across his right shoulder. Probably gained when he got shot down, Wolf figured.

Leon shrugged and didn't offer an explanation.

"Alright, then I'm guessing you're tagging along with me."

"You guess right."

Wolf stood back up and helped Leon to his feet. "Well, if we can get off this rock, I'm heading for that rim station we were on before the war started. I'll be stopping in the former air defense zone first though."

"That's practically suicide; Cornerian forces are all over the place now."

"I know, which means we'll have to pick our transportation very, very carefully. I'm guessing we're shit outa luck for more Wolfens."

"If there were any in this hanger, they're under the roof collapse." Leon nodded toward the back half of the hanger, which had indeed fallen in on itself. "But, there are some planes of interest in here."

"Did some scoping out, eh? Show me."

Leon led him off to the side, to where most of the planes were covered with thick black tarp. "I didn't see a reason to mention these to Pigma and Andrew, since they both decided on grabbing the faster scout ships for scampering away…" He grunted and yanked the covers off, dropping them to the ground and brushing off his hands.

Wolf lifted an eyebrow at the two small black fighter craft, parked nose to tail in front of him. They seemed to have basic armor and armament, nothing flashy or attention getting. "I remember hearing about these; Andross was playing around with a stealth fighter design right? Decided it wasn't worth it during such a large scale conflict or some shit?"

"Good memory." Leon nodded. "Exactly. With all the debris out there, we should go totally unnoticed as long as we're careful and keep radio transmissions to a minimum."

"Good enough for me, let's see if these things run."

The Venom Air Defense zone lay in ruins.

Wolf and Leon circled cautiously around the edge of the wreckage. They had already known what had happened, but in person it was all the more shocking. Cruisers and carriers floated aimlessly, derelict, being patrolled on the outskirts by fresh-looking Cornerian vessels. On the far side of the massacred ships, the remaining functional ships of the Venomian military had gathered in a tight-knit group. In the middle of it all, a half-gutted but still flying battleship, the one they had launched from.

Leon looked toward Wolf's craft, and after a long hesitation activated the radio. "Looks like she survived. Took some bad hits though."

"Star Fox's cruiser was tearing shit up, apparently, and their employers were on their heels with more firepower." Wolf replied. "Changing back to the Venomian radio bands, so be on your toes. If this gets caught we're in for some interesting times real fast." Leon didn't bother acknowledging, which made Wolf shake his head wearily before grabbing and spinning the radio dial. "Venomian forces, do you copy?"

There was a long silence but then someone answered. "Former Venomian forces here, we're all under white flag right now. Who is this?"

"O’Donnell, Star Wolf."

"You might want to make this transmission as short as possible then, before they figure out where you're broadcasting from."

"I know. I just want to know the status of the prisoner you had on board."

There was a long pause, then the voice came back on, sounding distracted. "McCloud? We put him to execution when we saw the attack coming, already incinerated the remains."

Wolf slowly inhaled, making himself not react in front of the heads-up display camera. Oh, J. I am so sorry…

"Anything else?"

Leon looked at his commander's silent ship, and spoke up. "No. That's all. Thank you." He switched radio channels back, following Wolf's ship as it led the way out of the zone. "O’Donnell?"

"We head for the rim. I don't know how you have your personal accounts set up, but I've already been paid, and I can access my money easily from there. We should probably lie low for a while."

"Agreed." Leon brought up the coordinates, pressing the stealth fighter into sublight as Wolf did the same.

Only then did Wolf switch off the radio and howl, loud enough that the cabin of the craft rattled, half from sorrow and half from rage. It wasn't supposed to be like this, dammit! But even as he thought that, he slumped back and sighed brokenly, staring out at the blur of stars. Then again, he'd practically asked for it, sleeping with another soldier. No one ever had a timely death.

Rest in peace, J.