If you could have anything you desire, anything at all…
What would it be?
The man stared down at his phone, his hand shaking slightly as he hesitated, the limb hovering over the receiver as his blonde secretary watched him from the side, biting her lip nervously as his hand neared the white plastic surface of the receiver.
“Cool down, Gwyneth,” the man chuckled nervously, causing the woman to jolt in alarm. “Just a phone call, okay?”
The blonde woman glared at him.
“Just get it over with. I don’t want to wait any longer.” She snapped, frowning, and the man sighed, before curling his hand around the receiver and putting the phone to his ear.
He was greeted with the dial tone in his ear, and he typed down five numbers, five all-too-famous numbers running around in the underworld, one he just caught wind of in some sleazy party some organization held, one he desperately needed if he was going to have what he needed back.
“Club Holic.” A crisp, Irish-accented voice replied.
“U-um, hi.” The man said, and his secretary glared at him, mouthing out, ‘smooth. Way to go, RDJ.’ He stuck his tongue out at her, before turning his attention to the phone. “I am in need of your club’s services.”
“Isn’t everyone who calls this number, Mr. Downey, Jr.?” the voice chuckled, and the man’s heart leapt to his throat.
“H-hey, wait, I didn’t—”
“We’ll take it, whatever it is. Open up an appointment at ten in the morning, sharp, tomorrow. No other time than that, or whatever you need is, you won’t get it.”
“Thank you. Have a good day, then.”
“H-hey, wait, what name should I wait—” he stopped talking, when the line suddenly went dead. He looked at his secretary, who was looking at him expectantly. “… He didn’t leave me a name. Open up my schedule tomorrow at 10. I want nothing happening and every man asking to be let in welcomed, and brought straight here to my office.”
“Yes, sir.” The woman nodded. “You seem shaken.”
“He already knew who I was before I even told him anything.” He sighed, “They’re good.”
“But will they be good enough?” the woman asked, tapping away at the tablet gadget in her hands.
“We’ll find out tomorrow.” The man sighed, looking down at the phone, putting the receiver back into its holder. “Let’s see if this Club Holic lives up to its name in underworld.”
The woman cast him a worried glance, but said nothing and nodded.
Tomorrow, they would find out.
The Club Holic.
A group of experts in various fields, they offer their services for a certain price, usually costing thousands of cold, hard cash—no credit—but they brought results.
With frighteningly spot-on accuracy, they will do whatever their clients need them to do—anything from smuggling drugs, to laundering money, to getting rid of something, or someone, to finding missing persons and recovering lost objects.
It’s safe to say the Club Holic bats for both teams, taking on both very legal and illegal dealings since its name started circling in both the underworld and the day market of the world, though no one was really sure how wide the mysterious organization’s scope was.
Robert Downey Jr. looked down at the computer screen at his desk, frowning slightly as he wrung his hands on his lap together, chewing his bottom lip nervously as he waited for some sign of his expected visitor’s arrival.
Brandon Sullivan. That was the name going around the underworld, tied to the mysterious Club Holic. It was said that he was the face of the Club, but some times it would be Loki Lafeyson who would face potential clients. Robert swallowed. Most definitely, either of the two men would be intimidating; being the face of one of the most powerful organizations running under the world.
The ping of the arrival of a message alarmed Robert, making him jolt in his seat in surprise. His hand darted to the touch screen and poked it in a hurry to see what the message said.
[From: Security 1F]
Two words, from the security department, and a shiver ran down Robert’s spine.
[To: Security 1F]
Who is it? Ask him who he is.
Quickly he sent back a reply, and sat back, twiddling with his neck tie to keep his nervous hands occupied, distracting himself from the tremors racking his bones.
The reply wouldn’t come fast enough, and soon Robert began tapping his foot impatiently as he waited.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, and he straightened up in his seat, the mail he was impatiently waiting from the security department now far from his mind as he held his breath in anticipation.
“Come in.” he called out, forcing himself to breathe steadily, keeping his tone flat as possible, to prevent giving his nervousness away.
The door swung open to reveal a tall man, much taller than he was, with dark, neatly slicked-back hair and the slightest hint of stubble on his chin. Icy blue-green-grey eyes stared him down as he stepped into the room.
He was dressed sharply—an expensive 3-piece suit, no doubt, Robert had one of those in his own closet, from the same collection. He held himself with an air of grace, striding in the room with long, wide steps, his long legs stretched out elegantly as he closed the door behind him without his icy gaze leaving Robert. They held each other’s gaze as he stepped closer to his desk, before sitting down in front of it on one of the chairs there, leaning back, leg coming up to cross over him, as long, elegant fingers laced together on his knee.
There was silence for a long moment, before Robert finally regained control of his mouth.
“Who do I owe the pleasure of meeting?” he asked, his voice strangely level in spite of the rush of his blood in his ears as he tensed up in his seat.
The man’s expressionless face finally cracked, thin lips curling up into a smile, his mouth opening slightly to show Robert the hint of teeth, far too many white, shiny threatening teeth; looking more like a shark bearing its rows and rows of teeth instead of a smile.
“Brandon Sullivan.” He said, extending a hand out for Robert to shake. “You were in need of the Club Holic’s services…?”
“A-ah, right,” Robert nodded, shaking Sullivan’s hand (he winced slightly, the man had a very hard grip), retracting his hand as soon as possible, before turning his attention to the touch screen of his desk computer. “I have something important I need you to retrieve for me.” he said, pulling up a folder from the side of the screen, before flicking it up so it became a hologram between them. Sullivan looked on expressionlessly as Robert opened it and chose one of the files inside. The image of a syringe filled with some liquid appeared between them. Robert opened his mouth to speak, hesitant, and he glanced at the syringe as Sullivan leant forward to inspect the holographic image.
“… Wait a sec, just before I explain anything, can I trust you to keep quiet about this?” Robert asked, and Sullivan’s thin eyebrow lifted, blue-green-gray-he really wasn’t sure what colour they were, really-fiery ice-eyes narrowing slightly. “Just come on, please.”
“Of course,” Sullivan nodded, his grin widening. Robert caught sight of more perfect white teeth, and he shuddered. “Your wish is our command, Mr. Downey.”
“R-right. This is an experimental serum this company is developing in secret.” He said, making a small gesture at the controls and it began to slowly turn to give Sullivan the full view. “I need it back; ASAP.”
Sullivan peered at him over the syringe.
“What is it for?”
“Well,” Robert sighed, rubbing the back of his neck, “It’s completely experimental, really, it’s just—”
“The purpose of the serum, please, Mr. Downey.” Sullivan cut him off, staring him down with his intimidating molten-metal eyes.
“…” Robert bit his lip. “You’ll keep quiet about this, okay?”
Sullivan merely grinned at him, leaning back, lacing his fingers again like he did before.
“It’s to create a super-solider. The CIA had it commissioned.” Robert confessed, “I had my best men working on it, but two days it was stolen, right under our nose.”
“What makes you so sure it was not Club Holic who took it from you?” Sullivan’s grin was frighteningly similar to a shark’s, Robert found himself swallowing. “We have, after all, two excellent espionage professionals in our Club. You may or may not know them,” Sullivan casually waved his hand dismissively, “Loki Lafeyson and Sherlock Holmes?”
“I know them.” Robert nodded. Of course he knew. He did his homework on them before they called, of course.
Loki Lafeyson, thief extraordinaire. He could break into any bank, no matter how tight the security and he can, and will, always get away with it—he was known to leave even the safest safety deposit box in any bank empty like the day it was opened, with nothing more than a small note of mockery: ‘LOKI’D!’
And of course, Sherlock Holmes. Not a far cry from his namesake, he was known to be extremely observant of everything, and he could deduce behaviours that allow him take the persona of anyone he would ever have to meet—the perfect disguise to anyone breaking into security departments, taking on some faceless employee and blending in perfectly in the background, without a single person ever noticing him; truly a master of disguise: hiding in plain sight.
Sullivan chuckled. “Of course, it would then be only too easy to return it to you if we did.” He said, “Fortunately—or is it unfortunately?—for you, dear sir, we have yet to lay our hands on this serum.”
Robert let out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding and blinked at Sullivan.
“I would like to encourage you to refrain from doing something silly, though,” he spoke up, and Robert jolted, his hand freezing in midair as it was about to head to the button he uses to call his secretary. “I don’t like having other people listening in on my negotiations. My dear Nicholas has a bit of an itchy trigger finger.” A small, private smile showed on the man’s lips. “Not the same can be said for our muscle man, however.”
“Nicholas? Nicholas Garrigan? The Sniper?” Robert gaped at him.
“Oh, so you know him. I’m assured you know of Thor Odinson and John Watson, too, then?” Sullivan’s grin was patronising, and it drove Robert up the wall.
Nicholas Garrigan, commonly known as The Sniper in the underworld, he was infamous for his unbelievable skill in assassination with a sniper rifle from hundreds of yards away from his target with startling accuracy. Rumour has it his rifle was one-of-a-kind, shooting specialized bullets that ‘disappear’ in the victim’s body after it hits home.
Thor Odinson was equally feared, too—an ex-CIA agent that had gotten burned off their system, but before he was terminated, he entered the world of the underworld under the wing of the Club Holic as its muscle man. It was rumoured he was a super-soldier on his own, with seemingly endless stamina and inextinguishable strength, as well as an odd affinity with thunder—very much like his namesake.
John Watson was just as well-known, and although he was just a programmer, he was just as dangerous as the roster of the Club Holic. The only man known to have been able to hack into the most secure places in the world—the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA and the MI6 back in his home country—without getting detected, exposing thousands and thousands of classified information to his person.
Sullivan was smirking, a strange twinkle in his eyes. “You’ve done your homework on us.”
And then there was Brandon Sullivan himself. No one knew him much, but it was said he was involved in the death of some high-ranked banker and his employer, but that was all people could know about the mysterious man. He himself didn’t broadcast anything relating to him, shrouding him in more mystery than all his members in the Club combined.
“Had to.” Robert replied quickly, and Sullivan only quietly scoffed. The man bit his lip. “So, uh, you’re doing it, right?”
“Yes,” Sullivan nodded gracefully. “Now, let’s discuss your fee—”
“Wait a minute,” Robert spoke, holding up his hand. “You have to do something for me first.”
“Anything, sir.” Sullivan smirked, and Robert had the sinking feeling the man already knew what he was going to ask for.
“I want you to prove yourself to me. Just how good enough is the legendary Club Holic?”
Sullivan was outright smiling now, and his smile was more teeth than actual smile.
“My, my, Mr. Downey, what little faith you have,” he grinned, standing up, and Robert tensed up, bracing himself for whatever will come hurtling at him. “But to be honest with you,” Sullivan leant close, like as if to tell him a secret. “I was hoping you would say that.”
3:56 PM, Geneva, Switzerland
Approximately fifteen minutes before Brandon Sullivan’s fingers touched Robert Downey, Jr.’s gleaming, spotless mahogany desk, several thousand miles away in Geneva, Switzerland, Loki Lafeyson smiled to himself secretly as he stepped into an elevator, smart black shoes making not a single sound as he stepped onto the plush green carpet inside the elevator. Behind him the small crowd of customers followed him in, and he stood tall at the back of the elevator, towering over the other people in there with him.
His long, elegant fingers twitched as he eyed the digital display of floors that they have gone by, neon green stark against black as the numbers counted down, lower and lower as they descended into the depths of the bank. He lowered his head, the fedora resting atop his head casting a long shadow over his face.
A small sleight of hand—and he lifted his left hand—his free hand, his other just pulling out of the back pocket of an unsuspecting man—to check the time on his softly glimmering Rolex, his eyes following the ticking second hand, slightly distracted by the tiny diamonds glimmering on the face of the watch.
His grin widened slightly. Fifteen minutes before anyone notices a thing. His hand gripped the key he just stole and slipped it into his coat pocket. He raised his head to look up at the numbers being displayed on the small digital display.
“Floor twenty-six,” he spoke up, an American accent completing his guise (he himself came from the British Isles, but could pull off an American accent like a naturalized citizen) and the attendant at the controls nodded, pressing a few buttons. The elevator slowed to a stop, the doors sliding to the side without a sound, and Loki stepped outside, as soundlessly as before. Behind him, he could feel the door close, and suddenly he was left all on his own. Smirking, he began to walk towards his destination—safe number 55, owner: Robert Downey, Jr.
“For being one of the most secure banks in the world, they sure are lenient towards their customers.” He muttered to himself, and in his ear, he could hear the crackle of laughter all the way back in New York. He himself chuckled, and soon he came to a stop in front of a room marked 2655. “Right,” he exhaled, “Time for some magic.”
He pulled out a key from his pocket—it looked different from all the standard-issue keys that were being given out at the bank.
Looking around, he made sure no-one was watching (although he was extremely aware of the CCTV cameras that point in his direction every once in a while—there was one right behind him, actually, and another one at the corner of the corridor, their almost-invisible but tell-tale red lights the only evidence they were actually there.)
He fiddled with the key’s body, discreetly inspecting the keyhole in the door, next to the hand-iris scanner, before slotting it in place, the key snugly fitting in there like it was what it was impersonating.
A small smirk crossed Loki’s face when he saw the blue screen turn green.
“Good job, little hedgehog.” He smirked, before resting his hand on the panel. It bleeped in affirmation, and he leant down to have his iris scanned.
“I heard that,” John Watson’s voice crackled in his ear. Loki laughed.
“But it suits you,” he said, standing back after the scan. As soon as he did, there was a loud unlocking sound and the door swung open for him with a small hiss. He pulled out the key—actually a storage device that John had him bring along so he could hack into the lock on the door—before entering the safe-room, stowing the key back into his pocket.
Inside the safe-room, there were no security cameras; to respect the customers’ privacy, they had said, but in Loki’s opinion, it was just another excuse to provide some place where the customers could avail the bank’s other service—should they possess the need to have a round of well-done shagging right where they could see their money. Loki eyed the clear wall separating him from the piles of bright green dollar bills and gold bars, the occasional jewellery—a golden diadem sitting on top of a velvet pillow (who has those? Loki thought to himself, shaking his head. Eccentric billionaires indeed) and whatnot, and the thief found his hands getting twitchier.
“Keep yourself in line, Loki,” John’s voice cut him out of his reverie. “Fifty thousand only, and only that, got it?”
Sometimes he hated the part of him that made him listen to authority.
“I know what you’re thinking, Loki. If you don’t take just what he asks you to, I’ll have him disable the hack and have your ass hauled out of there by security.” The voice of his regular partner washed over him waves of calm, and he felt his twitching hands slow down.
“Yes, Mo-Thor.” Loki snickered, and he could hear the others’ voices snickering as well. “Fifty thousand bucks, got it.” He stepped forward towards the glass door, where there was another lock there waiting for him. This one was normal now, no digital encryption—just a good old-fashioned lock?
Loki smirked, looking down at the key he pulled out from his other pocket—the one that had belonged to Robert Downey, Jr.
“It’s not a normal lock,” John spoke up, “Inside’s been programmed to accept only the key that has the same magnetic configuration in it. Looks like there’s a magnetic strip in there. It’ll take too long for me to come up with something—”
“My dear John Watson, has it ever occurred to you that you are talking to the greatest thief in the underworld?” Loki smirked, and he heard Thor scoff in his ear. His smirk grew wider. “I have this part covered.”
He held up the key he snagged from the Downey estate (he broke into it the night before the operation, he knew how this kind of bank worked, after all) like as if he could show it to John, and inserted it into the keyhole confidently, hearing it click into place before turning it, unlocking the door.
“… You opened it.” John’s tone of disbelief brought a bemused smile to Loki’s face.
“I try,” he smirked, before walking through the threshold. He bent down and began to collect the money.
6:29 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
Nicholas Garrigan was not having a good day.
He had been dropped off at the roof of some skyscraper exactly a block from Downey’s office block, right on top of just-warming boiler tanks arranged in a 3x3 criss-crossing grid. Wind blew past him, loud, cold and fast, whistling in his ears as his brown locks flew wildly around him, disorienting him for a moment, almost throwing him off the boiler tanks. Shivering in the cold of the winter wind blowing around him, he checked his watch. 6:30 AM. Not a good start to the day.
Grumbling, he lowered himself down into a gap between two boiler tanks that just began to turn cosy warm; a welcome change to the biting cold wind that howled around him. Quietly, he reached to the ground (bending forward not down to reach it, pressing his chest flush to the warm surface of the boiler tank to reach due to the tiny space he had between the two tanks) and pulled up the cello case he brought with him. He unzipped it and opened it as much as he could between the tanks, before pulling out the cello inside. He then felt around the curve of it at the right, and his fingers brushed against a clasp along the side. A grin spread across his face.
“Come on, Anne, darling, time to play,” he muttered sweetly, his voice a Scottish lilt as he unclasped the lock and pulled it open as far as the space would allow—revealing to him a beautiful, ornately-designed rifle in pieces. He affectionately gave it a name—Anne-Marie.
Carefully, he pulled it out piece by piece, lovingly running his fingers along the length of each one, soft fingers whispering softly promises of success, of blood, of—
“The perimeter is secure?” the gruff voice of a man asked, snapping him out of his trance. Nicholas’ eyes widened and he strained to turn his head to look at the direction of the voice as his fingers tightened around Anne-Marie’s still-unassembled barrel.
“Yes, sir.” Another voice replied, and Nicholas cursed under his breath as the sound of heavy footprints reached his field of hearing.
Shit. Downey must have put sentries on every skyscraper within a mile radius.
Bad day? Nope, it’s worse now.
Nicholas squeezed further down in the maze of boilers, his body temperature steadily rising now, as the boilers heated up. The heat was nothing but distracting—his body began to sweat like he was in a sauna and briefly he thought about what may happen to him if he stayed there for too long.
Too late for that, though, he thought to himself bitterly as he began to wordlessly and soundlessly put Anne-Marie together in the tiny space he had between the two boilers. Shimmying backwards until his back hit the wall of the other boiler, he lowered himself so he was sitting on his hip. He pulled her bipod to 180°, forming a straight line, setting her up upside-down between the curved walls of the boilers, the trigger handle pointing upwards, the scope downwards, towards his head. He let it go, resting the handle-end on his shoulder as he dug out a phone from his pocket as his other hand reached awkwardly for the cello case and put it back into the case.
Set-up complete. Sentries about, he quickly sent to John, before settling back against the warm boiler at his back, silently thanking the cold winter wind for keeping them just toasty warm in stead of their usual piping hot. He shifted around to make himself comfortable; alleviating some pressure he was laying on his hip by settling his behind on the adjacent wall. He checked his watch.
7:02 AM. He sighed quietly. This was going to take a while.
9:45 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
Thor Odinson brought the limousine to a stop behind Downey’s office block, parking it in some inconspicuous alleyway where no one could see it. The blonde man looked over his shoulder to look at the back of the limousine, where Brandon Sullivan sat, a contemplative look on his face, staring out the window at nothing in particular, a contrast to the look on John Watson’s face, who was grinning down at the phone in his hands, sitting in the very back with his partner, Sherlock Holmes, currently in the process of pulling out a laptop from a bag he had at his feet.
“So, we’re here,” Thor spoke up, catching Sullivan’s attention, and the man curtly nodded.
“So we are.” He said, turning to look at the two men sitting at the very back. “Sherlock?”
“Give me a minute,” the black-haired man said, before handing the laptop to John, who immediately booted it up. “Just have to… okay, got it.” He straightened up, tying up a necktie around his neck. “Ready?” he looked up at Thor, who only smirked.
“Only if you are.” He nodded, and the three men stepped out of the car, leaving John inside, already busily tapping away at his laptop. The familiar crackle of their earpieces buzzing to life met their ears. Thor stretched as he got outside, Sherlock following after him, straightening out his tie. Sullivan was the last to come out, pristine-looking as ever, pressing an ear to his own earpiece.
“Fucking finally!” Nicholas’ heavily-Scottish-accented voice rang in their ears. “I thought I was going to die of boredom here!”
Thor chuckled, Sherlock shook his head and Sullivan smiled fondly.
“We’re sorry, darling,” he spoke up, “You know how hard it is to get into the city.”
“Bullshit,” Nicholas laughed quietly in his ear. “You live just a few blocks away from the building.”
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Nicholas.” Sherlock spoke up, “And stop flirting already, we all can hear you.”
“I’m fucking bored, damn it, hurry up and finish off already. I’ve been here for almost three hours!”
“Yes, dear.” Sullivan chuckled, before gesturing at Thor to follow him. “Let’s get going then.”
Thor nodded, following after him out of the alley, picking at his clothes—an expensive suit, he was very, very careful not to wrinkle it too much, but he knew it still paled in comparison to Sullivan’s sharp greyish Armani 3-piece, so he allowed himself to relax slightly—slightly, because what he was wearing was still so damned expensive.
“To the client, then.” Sullivan smiled at him.
“Lead the way,” Thor nodded, smirking slightly. “Sir.”
9:50 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
Sherlock Holmes spotted his target—a man standing at the back door to the office block, smoking. A quick glance told him all he needed to know:
Body leaning to right side—bad shoulder—hands trembling, pills tucked into his jacket—suffering from Essential Tremor, but nothing too bad—hairs on right pant leg—three small dogs, possibly Shih Tzu—lean, tall, too thin, scars on his hands—ex-factory worker—new, shiny shoes and ill-fitting cheap uniform—security department, a newbie, most likely, since he was out here getting a smoke, he’s probably trying to handle something stressful—unarmed, and there’s an ID hanging around his neck, a few flash drives dangling from them—security department, but probably more in the monitoring section, handling the computers and such—fat, picture-laden wallet in front pocket, lighter in back pocket—family man, doesn’t want to show his family his smoking habit, probably, judging how low the lighter is in his back pocket—there are bags under his eyes, his skin rather pale—tired out from work, most likely from the night shift.
Sherlock smirked. Perfect.
“Hey there,” he smiled at the man, approaching him, tipping his hat in greeting as the man turned his attention away from his cigarette to acknowledge Sherlock’s presence.
“Hey.” The man nodded at him in acknowledgement, smiling brightly—friendly man, he’d have to make sure he was convincing. “Saw you with the limo. You with the guy Downey’s meeting up with at 10?”
Sherlock didn’t answer his question. “Oh, is he that popular?”
“No kidding,” the man scoffed, snickering slightly. “Mr. Downey had all his appointments at 10 cancelled immediately; clients had one hell of a hissy fit.” He shook his head. “Bosses. Weird as fuck, aren’t they?” he grinned at Sherlock, who mirrored his grin. “Especially when they’re filthy rich.”
“No kidding. My employer has his eccentricities from time to time. You new around here?” He asked, and the man nodded.
“Oh, I’m pretty new myself.” He said, leaning on the wall beside the man, pulling out a cigarette stick from his pants pocket. “Can I have a light?”
The man nodded, leaning away from the wall to pull out his lighter in his back pocket. “Here—”
He didn’t get to light Sherlock’s cigarette, crumpling to the ground in an unconscious heap. Sherlock pulled away his hand wrapped around the man’s nape and pulled the tiny syringe out from between his fingers, tossing it aside into a dumpster, before pulling the unconscious man to sit next to it. Sherlock pulled the man’s jacket off him and pulled it on, taking the man’s ID and looping it over his neck. He sniffed the jacket he had on—it smelled of cigarettes. Good.
He walked over to the backdoor and swiped the man’s card on the card reader next to it. It unlocked with a small clack and he entered, a small smirk on his face as he read the man’s ID. The man worked at cubicle number 36. He approached the security checkpoint and smiled at the security guard there, and was thoroughly searched for weapons and whatnot—definitely this man was a newbie—and when he checked clean, he was allowed to move on.
He looked around for it, and a smile broke out on his face when he saw where it was—right next to a window. Excellent, he thought, pleased, walking over to it and sitting heavily down. He pulled out his phone.
In position. I’m in the cubicle right next to the window.
“No shit,” he heard Nicholas chuckling in his ear. “I can actually see you from here. You’re good at this, Sherly.”
I try, he sent Nicholas the message, smiling at a passing janitor, who nodded at him, mirroring his smile.
“Good. Keep your hands away from the window, alright? I’m sending it in. You guys were right about the security checkpoints.”
Sherlock nodded, and leant away from the window.
9:51 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
Nicholas let out a sigh of relief. Finally, something happening.
He peered into Anne-Marie’s upside down scope, pointing her at the window where Sherlock was, who was looking up at him expectantly from where he was sitting at the cubicle, fingers tapping over the keyboard like as if he was working on something.
He smirked. All or nothing now.
He sat up, raising his hand and curling it around the handle of the sniper rifle, his index finger slipping in to rest on the trigger as his thumb brushed over the safety, clicking it quietly off. His other hand slid down the barrel, caressing the fine metal tendrils that were along it lovingly, absently tracing the fine loops and curls of the metal as he reached under it and held it steady—firmly gripping her to keep her in place.
Amusedly, he felt like he was more of shooting an arrow than firing a gun, really, since his arm was raised and in a slightly awkward position, as compared to the usual one, where he held the trigger and handle close to himself. He pushed Anne-Marie forward slightly so that her tip just jutted out from between the boilers, still escaping the sights of the sentries there watching out for him.
“Fire.” He whispered to himself.
He pulled her trigger, and the sharp sound of a gun firing cut through the air as the recoil pressed into his shoulder supporting Anne-Marie. Quickly, he pulled back, pressing a button on her side to unlock her bipod. It fell into his hand in two pieces, and quickly, he gathered himself up, just as the alarmed voices of the sentries floated to him, telling him they had heard the gunshot.
Frowning, he turned Anne-Marie so he was now holding her properly, before pointing her upwards with one hand, resting her on his shoulder to alleviate the weight, resting her slightly on one of the walls as he hurriedly picked up the case that had Anne-Marie’s cello case in it, and he pressed his legs against both walls, before propelling himself upwards, climbing up the wall with his knees, his full hands pressing against them as well to help him get up and out of there.
Anne-Marie was up first. He put her on top of the boilers, followed by the case, before he pushed himself up. He stood up to see the sentries running around in alarm, looking for the source of the gunshot.
“Where is he?!” the commander demanded.
He smirked, dropping a card into the space between the two boilers he previously occupied. One soldier had found it, picking it up, confused.
Nicholas pointed Anne-Marie at the card and fired, leaving a gunshot hole through it, catching the attention of all the men gathered around the man holding the card, his hands visibly shaking.
“Good day,” he smiled down at them, and one of them gasped in realization.
Nicholas laughed, winking at them, giving them a mock-salute, before moving backwards.
“The Club Holic, at your service. Have a nice day!” he crowed, before jumping down from the building.
“G-go! After him!”
Nicholas smirked to himself.
No one went after Nicholas Garrigan, and no one has ever caught him.
9:59 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
“Caught the little sparrow.” John’s voice spoke into Thor’s ear, and the man nodded, even though he knew John wouldn’t be able to see it.
“Good job, the both of you,” Sullivan said, after the elevator’s doors closed in front of them, shutting them off from potential onlookers.
“Thor, don’t move around too much, and you too, Brandon,” Nicholas’ voice in their ears said, “There are fucking cameras everywhere.”
“Duly noted, dear.” Sullivan smirked, and Thor rolled his eyes. “I’m glad you’re safe.”
“Save it for later.” John cut in. “Loki’s on the move.”
“Good.” Sullivan said. “Time to get this show on the road.”
The doors opened.
9:54 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
The sound of glass shattering quietly caught Sherlock’s attention, and he turned his head to find a perfect bullet hole at the corner of the window. He looked around—and found the bullet he was looking for embedded in the carpet right next to the dustbin. Smiling slightly, he pulled it out and unscrewed it to reveal a thin USB port with a memory chip attached.
“Brilliant.” He murmured, before plugging it into the computer he was on, looking around discreetly if anyone was watching. He looked at the screen and watched a loading bar appear. “Come on, come on, come on…”
He watched on expectantly, getting twitchy as he watched the little bar fill bit by bit, reaching to hit 100%—
“Hey, Simms, you not going home yet?” someone spoke up behind him and Sherlock’s eyes widened. He turned around, readying himself for whatever might happen—ohgoddidsomeonenotice running through his mind as he looked up at an officemate standing behind his cubicle, jacket slung over his shoulder. The man pulled a face. “Man, you look paler than usual. Maybe you should really get and go.”
Relieved he wasn’t found out, Sherlock shook his head. “Just got to finish this off first,” he replied, mimicking the man’s voice and accent flawlessly, and the officemate nodded, slightly wary.
“Okay, if you say so, man.” He shrugged. “But your voice sounds kind of funny. I think you’re sick.”
“I-I am feeling pretty bad,” Sherlock forced himself to avoid figures of speech—a very Brit force of habit—and made a sick-looking face. “Don’t worry, I’ll get out of here as soon as I’m done.”
“Okay.” The man smiled. “I’ll be going off now. See you Monday.”
“See you.” Sherlock nodded, and the man walked away. He let out a sigh of relief and looked at the screen, where a welcome sight greeted him.
“Very, very good…” he muttered, “John. Do you have your connection?”
“Strong like a boat’s mast,” John’s voice chuckled in his ear. “Great job, Sherl. Almost got yourself fried back there.”
“At least I didn’t get caught.” Sherlock scoffed, leaning back in his chair. “I guess it’s time to send that message.”
[To: CEO office]
After sending the message, he watched the screen emotionlessly as he watched John’s program hack into the mainframe of the security department’s network, spreading through the connections like sap in a tree, worming its way through bytes and bytes of information, searching for the one they needed. Sherlock’s eyebrow lifted when he received a reply.
[From: CEO office]
Who is it? Ask him who he is.
Sherlock ignored it to listen to John talking to him.
“Got a hold of it. I think you can go away now.”
“Not yet. I have an idea.” Sullivan’s voice spoke up. “We’re entering the elevator now. Come up here when you’re done, Sherlock.”
“Roger that.” Sherlock replied under his breath, looking around if anyone was watching—and when there was no one, he stood up, whistling absently, twirling his apartment’s keys around one finger as he walked out of the office, bidding people goodbye as he went.
4:09 PM, Geneva, Switzerland
“Delicious,” Loki smirked, looking down at the pile of money he had amassed, pulling out a black silk bag from his coat. He unfurled it and opened its mouth, before putting the money inside, humming delightedly as he did so, ignoring Sullivan’s voice in his ear. He and Downey should be talking to each other now, he reasoned, sparing a glance at his watch, still set in New York time. 10:09. Yes, it was almost time.
He pulled the bag’s strings, shutting the mouth, and looped it around his wrist. He pulled out a card from his front coat pocket as he stepped out past the glass door. Shutting the door behind him, he heard it lock, and carefully, he put the card on top of the lock.
LOKI’D! Love, Loki Lafeyson. It blared in his handwriting, and a small signature was at the side. A smirk crossed his face and with practised ease, he turned on his heel and walked out of the safe-room. He walked down a few more corridors, before he finally found what he was looking for—a security guard.
“Excuse me,” he spoke up, catching her attention. “Miss?” a charming smile graced his face, his accent shifting to a posh British one.
“Yes, how may I help you, sir?” she asked, looking up at him.
“I seem to have lost myself,” he smiled apologetically at her, gesturing at the silk bag he had around his wrist. “I was going to drop off a few of my mother’s jewellery, but for the life of me, I can’t seem to find my way to the safe-room.”
“What’s the room number?” she replied, holding out her hand. “May I see your key?”
“Why, of course.” Loki nodded, handing her the key he stole from the man in the elevator. Closely, she inspected it, before nodded.
“Follow me, please.”
Loki’s charming smile melted into a smug smirk as the woman turned away from him, before following her away from Downey’s safe-room.
9:59 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
Sullivan and Thor stepped out of the elevator to see office workers staring at them owlishly, looks of wonder and curiosity painted on their faces as they passed by.
A smug grin crossed Sullivan’s face as he walked, tall, proud and elegant, legs long and lanky as he paced widely, Thor falling into step behind him without trouble. They were met by a scowling blonde woman as they approached the CEO’s office door, a pair of beautiful dark-varnished mahogany doors with an elegant eagle carved across the both of them.
“Good morning,” Sullivan said to the woman, “I have an appointment with Mr. Downey?”
“Your name?” she asked, eyeing him suspiciously, and he flashed a toothy smile at her. She leaned back slightly, intimidated.
“Brandon Sullivan.” He replied coolly, and behind him, he heard shocked whispers amongst the crowd of office workers. His grin widened, showing her more perfect white teeth, and he saw her bristle slightly. “This is one of the Club’s fighters—Thor Odinson?” he gestured at Thor, and the man took this as a cue to lower his head in a polite nod. “I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of him, considering your employer’s choice of company.”
“Heard of him.” The woman agreed dismissively, before turning around. “Mr. Downey’s expecting you.” She knocked on the door, and Sullivan heard the man call them in.
“Thor, please stay outside.” Sullivan said, turning his head only slightly to tell the blonde man. “I’d like to talk to him alone.”
Thor nodded, standing at the side of the door, as Sullivan let himself in.
The double-doors swung closed, and a grin spread on Thor’s face as the crowd of office workers dissipated, courtesy of Downey’s secretary.
4:15 PM, Geneva, Switzerland
Whistling absently, Loki slowly walked to the front desk, swinging his swiped key on one finger, swinging the silk bag of money back and forth on his other hand. “’Scuse me.” He spoke up, tapping the small bell on the desk, catching the attention of the person there. “I found this here,” he said, holding up the key he stole in the elevator, his voice now imbued with a Southern drawl, as he smiled down at the clerk. “It was lyin’ around, so I thought I should bring it ‘ere, y’know, so you guys can handle it?”
“Oh, thank you for your honesty, sir,” the clerk nodded, taking the key from him. “I’m sure the owner will be happy to have it back.”
“Aw, shucks, it was nothin’,” Loki inwardly grinned, “Jus’ thought I could help.”
“Thank you again, sir.” The clerk pressed, and Loki nodded. “Have a good day.”
“Y’all have a good day, too.” He replied, before turning around, a dark smirk replacing his sunny smile as he faced away from the clerk. “Y’all are going to need it.” He muttered, smugly thinking back at the unconscious guard he left lying down in the corridor right next to the elevator.
Confidently, he walked out of the bank and hailed a taxi—just as his watch rang. Turning off the alarm, he told the cabbie the address of the hotel he was staying in—just as the security in the bank went wild upon finding an unconscious guard lying down in the hallway, and detecting an unauthorized entry in one of their clients’ safe-rooms, Robert Downey, Jr.’s, to be precise.
One of the guards burst into the safe-room, overriding the lock with a master-key, and a team streamed in after him. Their faces fell upon seeing a tell-tale white card sitting on top of the second lock.
Love, Loki Lafeyson.
10:15 AM, New York, Manhattan Island
“Wh… what are you talking about?” Robert asked, forcing himself to keep calm. Sullivan looked smug—too smug for his liking.
“Give it a moment—ah,” Sullivan’s grin was undeniably grating on his nerves now, and suddenly his desk’s touch screen flickered to life, a message waiting for him. “And here it comes.”
Robert raised his eyebrow and opened the message. It materialised in the hologram between them, allowing Sullivan to see it was well.
It was from the bank. Robert stared at it blankly—it was merely a photo with a short message.
We have written to you, Mr. Downey, to regrettably inform you that your safe-room in our bank had been robbed just a few minutes ago. Exactly $50,000 was taken from your vault by a thief that identified himself as Loki Lafeyson. Attached is a photograph of the crime scene. We are having the authorities investigate this matter as quickly as possible.
On behalf of our company, I would like to apologise for this distressing matter.
Robert stopped reading from then on, and hurriedly opened the attached photo file, too alarmed to register that Sullivan was smirking and nodding at him. The photograph materialised between them, showing them the sight of the tell-tale white card on top of the lock on the clear door to his money, with Loki’s signature on it.
Robert gaped at it and leant back in his seat.
“Fifty thousand dollars,” Sullivan spoke up, “A sort of service fee, if you’d like to see it as such, for us proving ourselves to you. Of course, we offer only the best service for our clients, so please do take the time to appreciate my men’s efforts.” He chuckled, and Robert gaped at him.
“Fif… what, I can’t,” he began to babble, when his screen made a noise again to tell him he had a message again. In a daze, Robert opened it, thinking about all the security precautions he had taken before meeting up with Sullivan—sentries on every skyscraper within a mile radius in case of Nicholas Garrigan, security checkpoints at every entrance in case of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, keeping out anyone else save for Thor Odinson and Brandon Sullivan, and even the extra magnetic-strip lock on his vault in Switzerland in case Loki Lafeyson rifled through his account. He bit his lip as he waited for the message to appear. Was that enough, he wondered, the Club Holic was truly something very expensive to be dealing with.
The message loaded, and Robert’s jaw fell.
[From: Security 1F]
We’ve taken over your networks for now.
-Club Holic’s John Watson
Suddenly, a torrent of messages, all from all the other departments in his building rushed into his inbox, all containing the same message, etched with the evidence of John Watson’s meddling.
“Wh-what, but how…?”
Sullivan merely smirked and leant back—just as a bullet came whizzing in through the window, leaving a tiny bullet hole in the window. It brushed past him, just barely brushing over his head and landed with frightening accuracy into Robert’s paperweight, embedding into the metal. When it hit home, Robert’s face turned pale, and with shaking hands, he reached for the paper weight and pulled out a bullet—it was mangled due to the force of impact, but he recognised it anyway, looking at its ornate metal designs etched into it.
“Nicholas Garrigan sends his regards.” Sullivan smirked. “And I must say, the sentries on the roofs were a very nice touch.” He plucked the bullet out of Robert’s shaking hands and tossed it up and down in his hand. “I see you were being very careful.”
He put the bullet back—just as someone burst into the room.
“Sir! Sir! There’s a security breach in the network!” the man cried out, alarming Robert, and he got to his feet. The man, once panicked-looking, suddenly smirked, before relaxing his stance, placing his arms akimbo, as Thor Odinson walked into the room, closing the door behind him.
“Hello, Mr. Downey.” The man said, his accent suddenly changing into mainland English, and Robert’s face fell. “My name is Sherlock Holmes. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“I can’t,” Robert began, shaking his head as he cut himself off. He turned to face Sullivan, sighing. “You people are amazing.”
“Thank you, Mr. Downey.” Sullivan smirked. “Do we have a deal, then?”
“Most certainly,” Robert shakily nodded. “Now, let’s talk the specifics. I—”
“You need not talk about it; just send it to us in a file.” Sullivan said, gesturing at Sherlock, who stepped forward, holding out a thin memory chip with an attached USB port. “If you please, Mr. Downey?”
“Of course.” Robert nodded, plugging it into his desk computer, and almost immediately, it began to download whatever it was it needed. “May I venture a guess and say this is John Watson’s doing?” he looked up at Sherlock, who, chuckling, nodded. “Brilliant. You used this to hack my networks?”
“Already gone,” Sherlock said, “We even fixed up whatever John did on your systems, and fixed a few bugs while we were at it,” he winked at Robert. “That one’s on John.”
“Th-thank you,” Robert nodded, and Sherlock gave him an oddly kind smile. The computer beeped the completion of the download, and Robert unplugged it from the computer, handing the memory stick to Sullivan. “I’m expecting great things from your Club, Mr. Sullivan.” He said, “I hope good news will come soon.”
“You will hear from us,” Sullivan nodded, before gesturing for Sherlock and Thor to follow him. “Good day.”
Robert nodded, and the three men left his office. Immediately, he pulled out his phone, pressing a single button for speed dial.
“Law. Talk to me.”
“Jude,” Robert breathed into the phone. “They’re just like what you said. Fucking scary, but damned excellent.”
“What did I tell you? They’re the best. Even that Nicholas Garrigan managed to get away from me.”
“… Jude, why does your voice seem to… echo?”
“That’s the thing. The damned assassin led me and my men straight into the sewer. I’m telling you, they mean business.” Their line crackled slightly. “I think they can do it, Rob.”
“… I hope so.” Robert sighed, slumping back into his chair. “This was the longest fifteen minutes of my life ever.”
Jude’s laugh on the other side was comforting, to say the least.
“Yeah, sure. Let’s talk about this later, let me just haul my ass out of the sewers first.”
For the first time that day, Robert threw back his head and laughed.