All it took was a carefully placed knife to end someone’s life. Tightening your hands over soft flesh that gives way under the smallest amount of pressure. Sometimes he liked the pleasure of leaving bruises that wouldn't turn up until the body started decomposing, before he gave in to that final urge to end it all. An urge, maybe not the best word for what he felt. It was more of an itch, an itch that spread if left unattended for too long. Was it a problem? Yes, most definitely. Was it a problem he was willing to fix? No.
It had been too many years since he had started this all, too many now that he knew there was no stopping. He cocked his head at the thought, a smile twisting his expression into something feral. Of course, it wasn't as if he wanted to stop, not when the feel of a blood slicked knife in his hand felt so good.
"A pity, because if I wanted to stop, you may not be here right now." Malik mused, meeting the glassy eyed gaze of the man whose chest he was straddling. He tapped the knife against the man’s cheek, leaving a streak of blood across his face.
He paused a moment, admiring the way all the cunning had left the man’s face. Intelligence, ferocity, all the reasons Malik had picked him, were gone and in their stead, there was nothing but fear. The man had been so cold at first, full of barely contained agitation. He had been so stunning, the way his eyes had catalogued everything in the bar, but in the face of his death, the predator he had been, had been nowhere to be seen.
The calm of the kill was working its way into his bones, followed by the disappointed realization that the man he had just killed was nothing more than another terrified person. He spun his knife around his fingers, watching the way his bloody fingerprints marred the few clean places on the blade. He slid his knife into its sheath in his jean pocket, careful to slide it home. He gave himself another moment to soak in his work, before he pushed himself up and stepped over the body.
He glanced around the apartment, taking in the minimalistic room dressings and shaking his head. He wasn't sure how long it would take for the body to be found and he really didn't care. He had no need for his work to be displayed in newspapers with theories and under a name he had not chosen for himself. He didn't care to see if anyone could connect his work together. He didn’t kill for attention.
He wiped his hand down his pants, before plucking a glove from his pocket and sliding it on. He walked over to the man’s bookshelf, glad to see that he wouldn't have to substitute for a book tonight. He picked the most worn book from the shelf, gloved thumb tracing over the title with a sign of reverence. In the end, ink was so much more permanent than blood, harder to get rid of. You could burn ink, but there would always be someone willing to write the words out again.
He set the book on the table and flipped the cover open, the spine falling open with ease. He pulled a pen from his pocket, scrawling 'Safety and Peace' onto the first page in a delicate hand. He smiled at the words, his own little joke, and his own little calling card. It was symbolic to one more predator removed, safety and peace to those who the dead could no longer touch. He closed the book, before pushing it back into its spot on the shelf.
It was the last thing he felt the need to do, so he collected his things, giving a cursory glance over the apartment to make sure he had left no noticeable evidence around. He knew that one day he would be caught, but he wasn't going to make it easy for them.
"Rest in peace," Malik threw back to the corpse as he left the man’s apartment, closing the door quietly behind him.
He liked the waiting, liked looking at the faces of people wandering in and trying to find someone just on this side of brutal. One saw many things when they were looking and he enjoyed cataloguing personalities that he saw. That one was shy, that one was flamboyant, that one was in hiding, ah, that one, a hunter.
Malik's interest perked at the man who walked into the bar, his movements smooth and languid. He blended in with the crowd, but Malik knew what to look for. He could see the way the man’s eyes looked over everything in the room, stopping over exits and those who looked like they could possibly pose a threat. He wasn't looking at them in fear though, only ascertaining where they were and then putting them from his mind.
He wound through the crowd of people with ease, didn't bump or jostle those around him. He moved in the same way Malik did. Malik watched him, cocking his head to the side in curiosity, wondering if maybe he had found his target.
He didn't shy away when the man turned his gaze on him, only blinked slowly and stopped tapping his fingers against the table. He wrapped his hand around his beer, ignoring the still full glass. He only ordered to keep up appearances when he was on a hunt.
When the other man looked away, Malik smiled and cast his attention down to the table. He was never sure if he had the attention of anyone who he deemed remotely interesting. In the past, having one arm had thrown people off, as had his gender though. Picking both men and women had opened doors, but you ever knew if you were going to lure someone in or just piss them off.
Sooner or later he would pull someone in and he could wait until then.
"Why come to a bar if not to drink?" Malik looked up to find the man standing beside his table. He had bright gold eyes that were watching Malik hawkishly. He had a small smirk on his face, but not one that gave way to what he was thinking.
"I come for the people," Malik responded, lips curving up into a smile. The man pulled out a chair and took seat, not waiting for an invitation. He slouched down into the chair, twisted off to the side, body open to face the bar. He was keeping track of his surroundings, even as he gave up some of his attention for Malik.
"The people?" He asked distantly, tracking the other patrons of the bar with his eyes.
"People are fascinating, Everyone is so different in their mannerisms, there's always someone doing something that's worth watching." Malik said focusing on the other man. He blocked out the rest of the bar, curious about the other man.
"Why me?" The man turned to look at him sharply, and finally Malik had all of his attention.
"You're different than anyone else in this bar tonight," Malik shrugged and grinned, all teeth. The man didn't flinch back, just met Malik's gaze with a steady one.
"Altaïr," he introduced himself, reaching across the table.
"Malik," Malik gave in turn, taking Altaïr's hand. He made a soft sound of surprise when Altaïr spun out of his seat, pulling Malik from his chair as he did so. He didn't say anything as Altaïr led him out of the bar, amused by the other man’s actions despite himself. Usually he took the lead and he had always been able to talk himself into someone’s apartment. It looked like he wouldn't need to talk Altaïr into anything though, not tonight.
Altaïr led them around a corner and slammed Malik back up against the side of a building, one hand pinning his wrist and the other on Malik's hip. He kissed him hard, all teeth and hinting at violence. Malik gave as good as he got and bit down on Altaïr's bottom lip, tongue tracing over the scar he had seen there earlier.
He was surprised at how impatient Altaïr was. His movements were rushed, almost as if he couldn't wait to get off. It reminded Malik of himself after a hunt. He usually found himself finding the closest willing participant and fucking them into the nearest surface. It worked off the excess adrenalin and gave him that final release. He's seen the same reaction to those who had had a dose of their fix and needed that extra push.
He squirmed, enough so that Altaïr pulled back to watch him with curious eyes. Malik just grinned and rolled his hips forward, earning a small groan from his companion. Yeah, this was going to be an easy one. "I do walls, I just don't do walls that are outside. Do you have a place?"
Altaïr seemed to think about it for a moment, the internal dilemma of bringing a stranger into where he was staying or not. He rocked his hips against Malik as he debated with himself and Malik gave a low throaty moan, hoping to help him make the decision quicker. It seemed to do the trick, because Altaïr dropped his wrist and fisted his hand in the hood of Malik's jacket. "Yeah, it's not far."
"Good, lead the way then," Malik nipped at the line of Altaïr's neck, pleased with himself. He was tempted to let this one fuck him, with the way he moved against Malik, all coiled muscles and focused movements. Then again, he knew he would only be disappointed afterwards. He didn't want a quick, dirty fuck, not one that would be interrupted by a kill. He liked to draw things out, liked to spend hours bruising and being bruised. With a potential kill, he wouldn't dare let things draw out.
He waited for Altaïr to turn away and start down the street, before letting his fingers brush over the blade hidden in the pocket of his jacket. He knew the weight was there, but it was comforting to feel the rough hilt of the blade.
He quickly fell into step beside Altaïr, arm brushing against the other mans as they walked. Altaïr didn't say anything and that suited Malik just fine. He didn't care for small talk, not when something he wanted was so close.
Altaïr nudged him in the direction he wanted them to go, teeth biting at the line of Malik's jaw as he led them down a new street. Malik twisted his fingers in Altaïr's belt loop, pulling them flush together in the middle of the sidewalk. He kissed him, teeth scraping over Altaïr's bottom lip, before pulling back and giving a throaty, "We're still outside."
Altaïr gave a grunt of confirmation, looping his arm around Malik's waist and pulling him down the street. He didn't pause until they were standing in front of an apartment building and even then he only stopped for a moment, before guiding Malik through the front doors. There wasn't anyone in the lobby, for which Malik was glad of. That meant that there wasn't anyone to see his face, to remember the one armed man coming in with Altaïr.
He didn't see any security camera's either, another benefit.
Altaïr walked him through the lobby, past the stairs and elevator and into the hall lined in numbered doors. The anticipation of being so close had Malik's heart thundering in his chest and his fingers twitching where they were gripping Altaïr's jeans.
He released his arm from around Malik's waist and dug into his pocket for his keys. Malik slid around behind him, hand dropping from his belt loop and tracing over the front of his jeans. He grinned as Altaïr's hips rocked back at the contact and a shudder ran through him. He had Altaïr right where he wanted him, wound up and unsuspecting.
He laughed when Altaïr finally managed to unlock the door and push it open, but it died on his lips as Altaïr grabbed him by the back of his neck and pulled him into the dark apartment. He heard the distinct clatter of keys as Altaïr dropped the somewhere on the ground.
They somehow managed to close the door behind them, before stumbling through the dark apartment. They managed to hit the couch, the coffee table and the closed bedroom door, before Altaïr finally reached blindly out against the wall to find a light switch. The light allowed Malik to orient himself with his surroundings, but it wasn't necessary, not with how sparse the apartment was. A couch, a coffee table, a bookshelf set off against the wall and the door back out.
Altaïr made annoyed noise at being ignored and reached up to grab Malik's face. He pulled his attention back to him and away from his surroundings, back to the warm heat of Altaïr's mouth on his. With Altaïr's hands on his face, guiding him as their tongues fought for dominance, he had time to reach down for his blade.
The smooth hilt was familiar in his hands,the same heavy weight that had accompanied him on so many other occasions. He smiled against Altaïr's lips, teeth nipping at his bottom lip, before pulling back. Altaïr was watching him, all predator focus and calm certainty.
"I always did love this part," Malik smiled serenely, flicking the blade around his fingers with a low chuckle. He could see the question blooming across Altaïr's face, but he didn't voice whatever question he had. Malik shifted minutely, feet sliding apart to brace himself, knowing there was always a chance Altaïr would take an opportunity to fight back or run.
Malik watched Altaïr's gaze flicker down and a calm realization filter across his face. There was no instant flare of fear or panic, something that sent a thrill through Malik. This was different, the way Altaïr shifted off from the wall and pressed into Malik, a grin spreading across his face. It all happened within a few seconds, both predators revealing their true colors to each other.
Altaïr moved quickly, one hand reaching down for the knife and the other coming up to grab at Malik's shoulder. His fingers dug in, but he didn't push Malik away as he would have expected. Instead he stepped in to Malik, even as his hand missed the quick flick of Malik's wrist, failing at disarming him.
Malik jerked his arm back, knife held firmly in his hand. He could see the way Altaïr was clenching his teeth, the way he was tensing, and Malik spun out of his grasp before he could make another attempt to grab for the blade.
Malik was light on his feet, darting in quickly to flick the blade along Altaïr's open side. The sudden clang of metal against metal was a shock that had Malik stepping back again. Altaïr was watching him curiously, a blade protruding from behind his curled hand. He watched it retract up into the sleeve of his hoodie, and wasn't that interesting.
Something twisted inside Malik, because this wasn't his usual target, this was something else entirely. He was used to seeing fear the moment he pulled out his blade, but with Altaïr he found nothing but challenge.
He barred his teeth, shifting lightly on his feet as he watched for an opening. Altaïr didn't give him one, jumping forward and swinging a punch at Malik's face. He ducked, but he didn't compensate for the fact that Altaïr would bring his other arm up, blade extended and aiming for Malik's neck. He barely had enough time to deflect the attack, and all he could do was bring his own blade up to knock Altaïr's aim upward, earning a scratch across his check.
He jerked back at the fact that he'd been hit, surprised more than anything. It was the opportunity that Altaïr needed, but it wasn't the opportunity that Malik expected him to take.
Malik swore when he was slammed back into the wall, a hand holding his jaw tightly and another knocking the knife from his hand. The hot mouth on his own was a surprise, one that had his now empty hand scrabbling for purchase on Altaïr's hoodie and pressing into the kiss.
Altaïr pulled back with a gasp, nipping at Malik's lips as he watched through lidded eyes. His fingers dug bruises into Malik's jaw, keeping him pinned and where he wanted him. There was a half smile on his lips as he surveyed his work, something primal that had Malik's hips rutting forward.
"Bed," Altaïr beckoned as he let go of Malik's jaw, turning his attention to the closed door they had found themselves pressed against earlier. He swung it open, moving into the room without hesitation and not bothering with the light. Malik followed close on his heels, watching, with the help of the light seeping through the doorway, as Altaïr unstrapped whatever contraption held the knife to his wrist and dropped it on a desk. He picked up a bottle while he was there, holding it up so that Malik could see it, before stalking forward.
"I always did love this part," Altaïr parroted Malik's words from earlier. He was smiling, something dark and exciting.
He was something that Malik had never come across before, something just like himself. It set Malik's heart thundering in his chest, at a pace he couldn't count and he was sure Altaïr could hear. It was the pace to which he lunged forward, hands tugging at cloth and throwing them, forgotten, to the floor. And yet, for his ferocity, he was the one who ended up on his hands and knees, back curving an exquisite arc that Altaïr traced with his hands.
It was his hands, shockingly gentle but sure, that opened Malik up; fingers slick and crooking so. It was his cock that nudged into Malik's body, slow and patient, in a way that belied the way his hands were now trembling against Malik's hips. It had Malik pressing the palm of his hand against the bed, pushing back for more, for harder, quicker, and rougher. For that, he earned teeth digging into his shoulder, as Altaïr's chest pressed down against his back, pressing him down; his trembling hands digging into Malik's waist and holding him still.
When Altaïr finally moved, finally fucked Malik, it was slow. It was more like a taming, bringing a wild animal to heel with a patient, but steady hand. All Malik wanted to do was twist around, to scratch his nails down Altaïr's back, to bite into his skin until he drew blood. Instead, he sunk into the hold Altaïr had on him, fingers flexing in the sheets of the bed and letting his breath fall in sync with the roll of their hips.
He gasped, groaned, and panted; words a foreign thought as he gave himself over to the pace. Time slipped away from him, the rise and fall of Altaïr's chest against his back more tangible than the seconds he could no longer count. The hand curving around over his chest, around his throat, was the anchor that pulled a choked sob from him as Altaïr continued to work him over.
He knew nothing but the roll of Altaïr's hips, the slide of his knees against the bed, bracketed in by the man he didn't know, yet knew better than anyone else. And when he finally came, it was with hands clawing at the wrist of the hand around his throat, because he could no longer tell where one body ended and the other began.
He dropped his jeans onto the tiles, before stepping into the shower. He wanted to wash off before he dared putting his clothes back on, even if his clothing wasn't particularly clean. It was better than continuing to walk around naked or putting someone else's clothing on.
He closed the curtain, glad to see that he could see through it enough to make out shadows. He was curious to see if Altaïr would try killing him or what was going to happen for that matter. He knew Altaïr was like him, someone so ingrained in blood that it sometimes seemed that that was all they were. They were predators, hunters, monsters, and other descriptors that people tended to put upon people like them.
Malik had found someone like him and that in itself was interesting. Altaïr hadn't disappointed him like everyone before him. Everyone else had put up fights, reeking of fear as they fought for their fragile lives and ultimately failing. Altaïr, Altaïr had beat him, but hadn't killed him as he had won the right to.
He pushed the thought to the side, because he didn't know how Altaïr's thought process worked and he wasn't going to waste time at guessing.
He washed the sweat, blood, and come off himself; letting the heat from the water wash away the lingering tightness in his sore muscles. He smoothed his fingers over his cheek, pressing into the cut he had received the previous night. It stung, but wasn't anything he thought he needed to worry about. He finished cleaning, stepping out of the shower and toweling off with a contented sigh.
Pulling on his jeans, he walked out into the living room, glancing around the apartment and taking it all in. He hadn't missed much when he had looked around last night, except for the smaller details he was now able catalogue.
He crossed to the coffee table, where a book lay spread open upon its surface. He picked it up with a curiosity he felt no shame for. He cocked his head, the book open to a list of handwritten names, most of which were crossed out. Tamir, Abu'l, Garnier, Talal, Majd, William, Sibrand, Jubair, and Robert.
Many of the names were ones that rang through Malik's memory, names he had heard often these past months. Three of the names had not been crossed out, but he suspected another one was to be. He suspected he would soon be seeing another name splashed across headlines, another mark against a fellow killers name. He had indeed stumbled upon a predator much like himself, but oh how he could now see their differences. He held the book over his shoulder, knowing Altaïr was standing behind him, even if he had been silent as he made his way through the apartment.
"So you're the eagle, then." Malik spoke the words as a statement, because there was no doubt in his mind that he was standing in front of the man who had made headlines in all the newspapers. "The man who kills and leaves an eagle feather at all of his crimes. A little bit gaudy isn't it?"
"That was not a name I chose for myself and as for the feathers, they're symbolic more than anything." Altaïr replied, not taking the book from Malik. Malik hummed a small sound, before turning, a smile tugging at his lips.
"Symbolic, hm? Give me a pen, I'll show you what I know of symbolism." Malik turned to face Altaïr, the book held loosely in his hand. He was curious to just what he had stumbled across in the other man and he found himself wanting to dig deeper, to dig his hands deep into the other man until he knew him inside and out.
He'd never found someone like himself and from the way Altaïr was watching him, he knew he hadn't either. He curled his fingers against the book in his hand as he took a step forward, knowing that this was going to be a very interesting story.