Identity Crisis Ch. 02byKassiana©
I don't call her on her cell phone.
I just don't.
We arrange our trysts other ways. While we're together. Postcards. Letters.
The woman can figure out any puzzle I make for her, and I've been trained in codes.
There's only one reason to call her on the cell.
Unfortunately, I've got it.
Three days ago, she got back to the mansion from "a trip upstate." Not a lie, not entirely. She had gone on a trip.
The trip had left her with more bites and nip marks, as usual. Victor had been unusually passionate this last time.
Luckily, she usually dressed in a formal fashion, and though it was spring, it was cool. She adjusted the collar of her turtleneck and listened to the parameters of the mission, as well as planning alternate routes, altering her course outline, and in the back of her head, tasting the exciting promise that next time, he would hunt her down in the wild North.
Just two more weeks.
Her cell phone rang. Startled, she answered it. "Tessa."
"I got a reason."
She paused. "Good."
"Same place as before. Ten minutes. I know you can make it."
She closed her phone. "Pardon me." She got up to go, putting the agenda in her briefcase and giving a brief nod to the other X-men in the room.
"Somethin' serious?" Logan had been following her closely, particularly after this last encounter. Perhaps she had not washed off enough of the blood afterward.
She projected her usual cool, businesslike demeanor. "No, but it requires my immediate attention. Excuse me."
She felt his gaze on her body, burning through her clothes, as she hurried to her room. Unfortunately, in order to be dressed properly, she had to wear shoes which restricted her movement. She kicked them off and threw the briefcase in a corner, slipping on an old pair of tennis shoes instead and tossing her jacket onto the bed.
Tessa. Charles' cool mental touch came, as expected.
Charles. She nearly ran down the hallway from the women's dormitory. Logan was standing at the stairs as she came, wild eyes watching her.
What is it?
Personal business. She infused her mental touch with some of the wild throbbing she felt inside, the urge to run on the edge, as well as a tinge of sexuality. Nothing too serious, but I need to go now and bleed off some energy.
He withdrew, almost instinctively, as he always did when confronted with the intimate knowledge of his teammates. I see. Please inform me when your task is complete.
I will contact you by the end of the day. If I do not, come for me. She broke off the link sharply and burst through the front door, nearly slamming it into Rahne Sinclair, who had been standing outside laughing with Jamie Madrox.
She did not apologize. She ran past the startled couple and heard their exclamations as she sped over to the motor pool. This would require greater speed than she could muster on foot.
I waited in the apartment. She had a few more things in it now. A chair in the living room. Microwave food in the freezer. Changes of clothes in the dresser. Strongly scented lilac and patchouli soaps and candles in the bathroom.
Couldn't have Logan finding out about us, now, could we?
I snarled, trying to keep from smashing something as I paced. Cataloguing scents was about all I could come up with.
She had to come soon. I'd given her ten. If she wasn't doing anything, she'd be here in two minutes. If she had been, she'd be out in seven.
Maybe I should eat something. I hadn't eaten for … well. Twenty four hours.
I fished out a packaged meal and read the instructions carefully, keeping myself from slashing it open with an effort.
Hm. Time was, I'd have slashed it wide anyway and ruined the place.
I sat, paying no attention to the sesame chicken that was scattering everywhere on the hard kitchen floor.
What was she doing to me?
She parked in the lot five blocks away and started running. No one, to her knowledge, had followed her. She did a quick and dirty telepathic sweep of the immediate area anyway. No suspicious blank areas where there should be people, no recitations of meaningless nonsense, and nothing but ordinary thoughts of ordinary humans.
She kept running and hoped she'd made it in time. She had no time to look at her watch. She vaulted the stairs, avoiding the broken second step, and flung her apartment door open.
He was sitting on the kitchen floor. Bits of rice and orange sauce surrounded him on the floor. A box of "authentic" Chinese chicken lay at his feet, with more rice and orange bits inside. He looked up at her approach. "Tessa."
She swallowed. "Victor." She locked the door, triple locked it, then moved forward, dropping her usual reserve. "What has happened to you?"
His eyes stopped at her shoes. "It's after Labor Day," he said, faint surprise in his tone.
She waved her right hand impatiently. "Why did you call?"
He rose to his full height, his own suit wrinkled from his former posture, his long blond hair settling down his back. He raised a hand, then dropped it with a sigh. "Why can't I kill you?"
She blinked. She hadn't anticipated a question like that. "Let's go to the bedroom. I need a drink."
I watched her open the Merlot, pour the ruby red liquid into a glass, and toss off half of it in one gulp. Her throat pulsed with life. Again, I tried to imagine ripping through it, drinking deep, but felt the same as I had earlier. Disgusted. Unhappy. Lonely.
She coughed a little, the alcohol stinging on its way down. "Now, tell me again, from the beginning."
I sat on the bed next to her, growling. "Like I said. Someone said something to me this morning, about being willing to kill anyone for a price. I started thinking about you. No price for you. I couldn't do it." I took her hand. She was shaking, her pulse throbbing loud in my ears. "I want to know why."
She closed her eyes. "I could delve into your mind to find out."
"That'd be fine." I let go of her hand. The idea of crushing it in mine disturbed me. Made me feel guilty. Ashamed.
What was wrong with me if I couldn't even do that?
She brushed into my head, smoky and wild. I held my hands together and pressed hard. I didn't like anyone in my head but me.
Still, she felt friendly. Soothing. How many people could I say that about?
She dropped down into my center. Her feelings swirled through mine as she searched. Fear. Anticipation. Curiosity.
Let's just hope this lady doesn't kill this cat.
She moved into his mind cautiously. It had been trapped and messed with and felt like it, odd places shut off that should be open, places opened that should have been blocked. She moved into the area of his feelings for her.
They were amorphous, shifting from warmth and want to sudden shafts of jealousy and desire. She opened more to his mind, what he thought about her as the feelings sifted through her being. He missed her when she was gone. He thought about her during the weeks they were away. He wrote things down he thought would interest her. He planned things she would like. He smiled at the memory of her joy when he gave her that updateable Palm Pilot she'd wanted.
Good heavens. Victor was in love with her. She paused. How were they going to deal with this complication?
I waited for her to leave my head. I bit the insides of my cheeks to remain calm. Calmer. I raised my hand again, trying to bring it down and snap her neck.
Her lovely neck.
I felt the guilt and shame flooding my body again. What the hell was wrong with me? I'd killed people before without a thought. Better looking ones.
She looked at me. I put my hand by my side, guilty, worried. "You do seem to have a problem."
I waited for her to tell me. She tossed off the rest of her wine and looked up at me, smoky eyes wide with fear. "Victor, you're in love."
I growled and jumped off the bed. "Can't be. I never have been."
Her eyes burned into me, her right hand toying with her almost empty wine glass, a bright red droplet caught in the stem. "Apparently, you are now."
It sizzled along my nerves. Unfortunately, it made sense. A lot of sense. Damn it.
"So, what does that mean?"
She put the glass on the floor and stared at her feet. "What do you want it to mean?"
I wrapped my paw around her chin and raised her head. "Don't go all Zen on me, Tessa. We know about me. How about you?"
She dropped the X-mask, that brisk "Don't touch me" air she put on around the X-men. Her eyes closed. "I might feel the same. I haven't bothered to analyze it." Her eyes hit mine hard when she opened them again. "I've been busy just feeling when I'm around you. Enjoying finally being able to be everything I am. But I don't know what it means. It's not like we can …"
"Do the traditional thing?" I laughed. Yeah. "Imagine the wedding." I snorted.
Course, the idea of a wedding was kinda perversely attractive. I could see the runt's face now.
Her eyes gleamed. "Imagine the kids."
I stopped and looked her over, the image of my ebony-haired lover pregnant doing interesting things to my insides. "I am."
Our eyes locked. The ideas were thrilling. Heady. Hot.
They'd never work.
She pulled her shirt off in one graceful, careless move, exposing the cuts and bites I'd left from our last time together. She traced the nip on her right shoulder. "Why'd you do that?"
I stayed in front of her and dropped to my knees. "I wanted to mark you." I sniffed along her jaw line. "I wanted to claim you before you went back to them." I teased her ear with my tongue. "Before you were swallowed up by other men."
She pulled me against her body, tilting so I could continue playing with her ear. "Then I have to come up with something we can do by the time we meet up in Canada."
"Fine." I picked her up and tossed her back onto the bed. "You're wearing too much."
She smiled, blinking back a few tears. She did not like having to inhibit Victor's passion, but having yet more bite marks would make working with the X-men impossible.
She hissed as the soap hit a tender bite. He'd opened it earlier while he was stroking her body and licking at her. She hadn't minded at the time, but right now it stung.
He wanted children. She had to put her hands over her mouth to keep from laughing, then realized that probably no one could hear her and laughed till she cried. And people of different religious traditions thought THEY had problems when they decided to have them…
What if they got the worst aspects of both parents and were danger freaks with bad tempers?
What if they were furry telepaths?
What if the kids looked like Muppets?
She sighed and reached for her towel.
It was handed to her. She took it, smiling, and reached out with her mind to touch Victor.
Hello, Sage. Miss me? It wasn't Victor.
She let her body relax as his hands pressed against her upper chest and his claws extended. "Don't try messing with my head, traitor."
She activated her telepathy and reached out to Charles on their special emergency link while she savored the fear. "I wouldn't dream of it, Logan." Charles?
Tessa. What is wrong?
Please tell Logan to bring me back to the mansion so I can tell all of you at once.
"Good. Now, want to tell me why you've been coming here to fuck our enemy? A lot?"
Very well. I shall see you shortly.
"I have my reasons. I believe all of you should hear them back at the mansion." His arm muscles clenched and she felt his points touch her throat. She hoped they wouldn't puncture her skin. If Victor knew that Logan had cut her neck, the place he loved to bite the most …
He growled and pushed her out of the shower. Good. The skin of her neck remained clear. "Chuck says you'll come back with me and explain everything." His angry eyes raked her body, pausing on the scratches and bites on her lower neck and shoulders, and the bruise at her hip. "Knew you were up to something. The sudden overuse of perfume. How happy you got after your weekends away. The smell of blood the last two times you came back."
She walked into the bedroom and found her uniform lying on the bed. She looked back at the menacing form in her dark bathroom. "Wear it. And no smelly stuff this time. I want everyone to know what I do."
She gave a brief nod and skinned into her uniform, leaving most of the bites and scrapes open to the cool air. The moment of truth was here.
She hated to do it, but he was already involved. She had to let him know.
Yeah. He was running free. He smelled damp earth and lilacs.
They found out.
He paused. I'll come get you.
No! She was frantic. Just let me try to explain.
He probably wasn't laughing out loud, but his response was overflowing with amusement. Sweetheart, there are some things ya just can't explain. I'll get you out of this.
Don't. Please. I want to try it this way.
I'm not gonna let you get killed because you want to try a "diplomatic solution," Tess. His mental voice was firm.
She sighed in defeat. Tell you what. I'll make you a deal.
This isn't a game.
No, you're right. It's not. She had to phrase this just right. I'll go back to the mansion and try things my way, but you track me and come along outside. I know the security measures there and where you can be without tripping them off. I'll keep you inside my head while I'm in there. If I need you…
If I decide you need me, I'm going in there. I'll be listening. She heard a muffled thought of "women" before he settled into the back of her mind.
He itched in there while Logan drove her back to the mansion, getting curious stares from other drivers on the road.
So it isn't bad enough that I have to fall in love at all.
I have to fall in love with one of Xavier's.
I have to fall in love with one of Xavier's with a death wish.
About the only thing worse would be falling for Logan.
Yeah it's insane, but some sick authors out there have innumerable silly stories where I fall for my son.
Okay, okay. I know I'm not his father.
The illusion that he is, though, the lies implanted by Weapon X, are the only thing keeping me from ripping his head off.
How dare he get so close to her.
How dare he leave his scent on her.
We're going to have to … talk … sometime about that. She's mine.
She's laughing at me now, inside her head. Says I'm silly. Says she wants me, not the runt. Makes some size comparisons that get me laughing.
She disappears inside the house. I try to project an innocent image. Just a simple jogger here, ma'am.
Nothing to fear from me. Nothing at all.
Keeping her feral lover busy inside her head, trying to find a way out of the mess she was currently up to her eyeballs in, and warding Logan off was keeping Sage's vast mental processes very well occupied. The adrenaline rush had grown as she got closer to the mansion. She was almost relishing being able, for once, to be completely honest with the team.
The usual suspects were all there, other than Remy and Rogue (off somewhere "together") and Bobby Drake (on loan to Alpha Flight). Jamie already had two duplicates, one who was cracking his knuckles and glaring at her while the other was eating a large candy bar. Rahne was in transitional form between wolf and girl. Warren, Betsy, Kurt, Hank, Jean, Scott, and Storm all waited, all ready to strike her down. She heard Logan's claws extend behind her as she entered. Only Charles appeared willing to hear her before arming to the teeth, and only Hank showed visible concern at her injuries.
"Goodness gracious, Tessa. Are you all right?" The blue furry man leaped down from his perch near Charles as she posed, waiting for an invitation before she sat down.
Charles nodded and she sat in the lone chair at the end of the table, the others shoving to get even farther away as she did, other than Jamie's hungry duplicate, who had moved on to a large sub. The original Jamie wrinkled his nose in disgust and ordered his copy to fall back. "I'm very well, Hank. I got all of these because I wanted them." She fingered her wounds gently, humor coming unbidden as he fell back, aghast. "But Charles knew from the beginning how I was. Didn't you, Charles?"
The man nodded. "I was fully aware that you had deep and dark desires, Tessa." His eyes flickered over her and his jaw tensed. "I had hoped, however, that you had found some expression of them which did not require a partner who was so far removed from our goals."
She leaned back in her chair. "I didn't share anything with him that he could use to harm the X-men as a whole."
She gave a faithful summary of their meeting in the bar just over a year ago, the continued meetings, the way she had looked forward to them, the precautions she took … all of it. Her enjoyment of the pain. Desire growing into more. She watched as their expressions shifted from distaste to disbelief, sorrow and disappointment. She waited for a response as she felt him growl inside.
I should break you out now.
Wouldn't work. I can't outrun Logan and he's right by me. She kept her amused smirk and looked around. No one wanted to meet her eyes. Jamie's duplicate finished his sub and licked his fingers.
I can take care of that problem for ya, little lady. He gave a chilling John Wayne imitation, but he had not yet made a move.
Scott took a step toward her and attempted a challenging sneer. "So what are you going to do now, get married? Settle down?"
She decided to go with it. "Yes."
Why not? Alex Summers and Lorna made it work. They stayed on as adjuncts to the team …
You might have missed it, but I'm no straight arrow Summers.
The room exploded into noise as people argued with Charles or yelled mindlessly at her. She waited, relaxing in her chair. I know. That's why I … like you.
You were going to say love you.
Changed my mind. Scott pushed down on her arm rests, effectively pinning her, and touched his visor. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't use this."
She shrugged. "Because Victor would come in here and kill or maim people you care about."
Claws threatened her again from behind, pricking into her shoulder blades. She winced at the hot prickly pain and tried to compose herself. "Told you I should have just killed her off."
Charles' cool, controlled mental touch came, as expected. I shall have to close off your link with Sabretooth, Tessa.
Do not. He will take that as a sign that I am in danger.
I am not sure I can probe you with him there.
Do it anyhow.
She licked her lips. "Don't like that one? Okay. It would give Logan far too much pleasure."
Scott nearly forgot himself enough to smile, but cut off the impulse before he could lose his advantage. "Maybe I could call it his Christmas present."
What's going on in there? Tess?
Oh, what I might have expected. I'm being threatened, and Charles is probing me. No one has harmed me, though.
Then why'd you hurt?
No reason? She tried a smile herself as Logan growled at Scott for being a cheapskate. She lost it when Charles started firmly going through her memories of the last several hours.
Charles! You have always allowed me some privacy … She winced as he touched things she wanted to keep secret, even from herself. Her true desire to marry Victor. Her plans for their trip to Canada.
Apparently, I was in error when I permitted you to keep your sexual proclivities secret, Tessa. She could feel some embarrassment from him as he searched, but he was resolved to keep looking.