Hammer was excited about his impending jailbreak for the rest of the day. He started planning how he'd get to Potts and what he'd say to Stark when he got the chance.
However, after a dinner of pig slop and his evening abuse session, followed by sleeping on the thin piece of foam they called a bed, everything got a little fuzzy. He dreamed of Stark planting a pie in his face and the pie filling was bubble gum. Ivan Vanko and clay-mation fudgesicles taunted him in broken English while Amar kept flying by in the Gulfstream G5 with his head out the cockpit window, like some dog on a joyride. It was entirely possible what he recalled from the day before was actually just part of that crazy dream he had.
It was also entirely possible he was going insane. However, since he had nothing better to do, he indulged his fantasy and planned Stark's demise. If Amar was real, he—or perhaps his bosses, whoever they were—would not be happy if he didn't have that list ready. Hammer wanted to believe the breakout could be imminent, so nearly every waking moment was devoted to plotting his revenge.
The deliciousness of his mental activity distracted him a bit too much, and he wasn't as careful in the dining hall as he should have been. He normally sat with one of his “protectors”. They liked to show off their “toys” the way Hammer used to show off his clothes, cars, and whatever hot chick he could land a date with.
Deep in thought, he chose his dinner table absently. He realized his mistake too late and it earned him several punches in the face. His glasses didn't break, but once they were knocked off his face, the goon who'd found a punching bag must have thought he hit the jackpot. Hammer's nose ended up bleeding and he got a black eye and a cut on the cheek. Unfortunately, this was not enough to warrant a night in the relatively safe infirmary.
A jaded doctor applied a butterfly tape on the cut and gave him a bag of ice for the swelling, but then the guards escorted him back to his miserable cell and left him there to be verbally harassed and made fun of the rest of the night. With his nose and eye throbbing like a bitch, and all the taunting through the bars, he found it harder to concentrate on his kidnapping scheme, but at least he'd missed the evening “free time” which usually meant rape-the-twink.
The next day, he was much more careful to pay attention to his surroundings, kiss up to the right inmates, and steer clear of the wrong ones. The pain diminished to a mere dull ache, but that was tolerable enough to let him entertain more thoughts of revenge. Everything had to be mentally rehearsed because he couldn't afford to write anything down, even with a crayon. (Pencils and pens were were too sharp to be allowed.) The list compiling in his head was too incriminating to commit to paper, napkin, or even the back of his hand.
Just about the time he'd memorized the plan and the list to the point of boredom, he started to wonder, again, if there was any point. For all he knew, Amar Blah-Blah-Whatever was just a figment of his imagination, or worse, real, but utterly insincere. Giving him hope like that to turn around and ignore him was exactly the kind of joke he'd expect from all those idiots who laughed at his sentencing. Hope started to fade. It was actually only three days since the first meeting with Amar, but it seemed weeks now.
And then, without warning, Amar returned, bringing an associate with him. The new guy's suit wasn't Armani, but it was a step up from the “Wal-Mart special” suit Amar wore. New Guy had wavy red hair and he wore round John Lennon-ish spectacles with tinted lenses. Since Hammer had been waiting and watching, he saw them outside—behind security fencing, of course—before they entered the building.
A guard came to fetch Hammer and he did his level best to act indifferent as he was escorted to the private consultation room. Amar introduced his associate as Mark O'Dell, but it was clearly a ruse for the guards. Once the door was locked, Amar's business tone vanished. “Take all your clothes off,” he ordered.
Hammer immediately began doing it, eyeing the briefcase for what he assumed would be replacement clothes. However, O'Dell also started stripping off his suit and taking Hammer's discarded prison garb. Hammer flashed Amar a questioning look, and Amar nodded at the pile of tailored suit pieces left by O'Dell. They were trading clothes.
O'Dell also removed a wig, revealing blond hair which was colored and cut exactly like Hammer's. As Hammer was buttoning up the shirt, he noticed how well the clothes fit too. This guy was nearly his twin. Amar opened his briefcase and removed two latex masks—Hollywood quality, not cheap Halloween stuff. O'Dell started applying adhesive to his Hammer mask while Justin pulled the red wig over his head. Amar made them both stop for a moment, so he could study the real Hammer and his doppelganger side-by-side.
“How'd you know about the black eye?” Hammer asked. That had happened after the impression was taken but the mask had been altered to look exactly like his present appearance, butterfly dressing and everything.
O'Dell spoke for the first time, and when he did, it shocked Hammer to hear his own voice impersonated. “You don't think I'd try to pretend I was you without studying you, do you? We've been watching all the security footage for weeks.”
Which meant he knew the routine. But that much preparation still seemed like overkill unless...
“Uh, you don't wanna be around after dinner, man.”
“Yes, I do,” the twin said.
Oh, you're gay. Hammer took a second to school his response into something less prejudiced than his gut reaction. This guy was doing him a huge favor; he needed to play nice. Maybe this place did seem like a country club if one's attractions ran that way.
O'Dell shook his head as if reading his thoughts. “I've been in real prison before. This is no big deal. The glue on this...” He tapped his mask. “...will last a week, but it's really your choice when the charade gets discovered. Then they interrogate me, threaten me, and finally ship me off to someplace a lot worse.”
Amar interrupted, “And the transfer is when he'll be extracted.”
Hammer finished tying the laces on the immaculately polished leather shoes O'Dell had worn in. Amar handed him the O'Dell mask and the adhesive bottle. It took a little longer for him to get it right than his twin had taken. Evidently O'Dell had done it before and knew what he was doing. The John Lennon glasses were even the right prescription and the tint Hammer had seen outside was gone now. They were sun-sensitive.
There was no mirror, so he couldn't see how he looked, but O'Dell made sure everything was adjusted properly, especially the wig, which Hammer had put on backwards at first. Amar put the adhesive bottle back in the briefcase.
Hammer's twin sat at the table and hunched his shoulders, staring into space. Do I look that pathetic? the real Hammer thought.
Amar motioned for Hammer to follow him, nudging his head up from the habitual downturn. They knocked and waited for the prisoner to be collected, Hammer unconsciously holding his breath while waiting to see if the switch was noticed. O'Dell, however, was perfect, and the guard didn't even look twice.
Once the prisoner was gone, the exit door buzzed open and they walked out nonchalantly.
“Stop smiling,” Amar said ventriloquist-style, “You're an attorney with a lot of work to do on an impossible appeal and it's only Wednesday.”
Hammer couldn't remember how it felt to take freedom for granted, but he knew he'd done it before. Besides, his benefactor was right. Happy lawyers were such a rarity it would blow his cover.
Amar led Hammer to his Beemer and started the engine. He handed Hammer his iPhone. “Here, play Angry Birds or something. You'll look more normal.”
Hammer took it and started fiddling around as Amar drove. He wasn't that great with computers to begin with, and this one had a different iOS than he was used to, so it took a while to make it do what he wanted, but he finally found the Stark Industries home page. Knowing that Pepper Potts' and Tony Stark's public appearance schedules would only be a few clicks away now, he looked up to see the Beemer had already passed the vehicle checkpoint. He was out. He was free.
He studied the schedules meticulously, committing the important dates and places to memory. It occurred after he memorized them, that he could have used paper and pen again. If the phone had been his, he could have typed himself a memo. Since the wheels were turning now and Amar wasn't talking, Hammer took it upon himself to break the silence. “How do you want that list?”
“Ah, you are wasting no time. Most excellent. Do not put it on the phone. It is not secure.”
Hammer seemed to remember some privacy scandals mentioned in the news, but hadn't cared enough to pay attention. He had no sympathy for people on the outside who had decent food, clothes that fit, and no danger of being an unwilling boytoy to a guy named Thumper.
The car came to a stop outside his favorite sweet shop. It was combination candy store, bakery, and café, a place he'd dreamed about for months. It would have surprised him to end up here, but if Amar knew about his sister's holdings, surely he had seen Hammer's credit card records and knew how much he used to spend at this particular purveyor of heavenly goodness.
Amar handed him a platinum credit card in Mark O'Dell's name. “Go stock up for your trip to your Villa. You're leaving in an hour.”
Hammer couldn't decide whether to ask what his credit limit was or question why the unnecessary indulgence. These people had gone to a lot of trouble to spring him from the slammer and he knew good and well it wasn't just to be nice. He finally decided their catering to his sweet tooth happened for the same reason he bought Vanko a cockatoo—an empty little gesture meant to impart the appearance of caring. They would use it against him just as easily if he didn't deliver what they wanted. Fine. He could play that game. He'd milk it for all it was worth.
Besides, these people wanted the same thing he did, Stark dead and Potts to suffer. It probably wouldn't hurt if she ended up dead too, but maybe he could break her like he'd been broken in prison, make her willing to do what was previously unthinkable and unpleasant in order to avoid pain or death. The idea made him grin.