What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 08bypsyche_b_mused©
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8. Humanity In Focus
He could hear heavy footsteps on the floor above him. Every so often they would pause. Every so often little plumes of dirt would come through the cracks in the floorboards. The old man was getting himself ready. Getting himself good and drunk. Letting the alcohol get him good and mean. He knew what was coming next; he just didn't know what form it was going to take.
A beating? That hadn't satisfied the old man last time because Victor hadn't screamed. No, he'd want blood and screaming, and the more the better.
Victor pulled at the chains holding him to a thick wooden post, but his eight year old arms were too weak to budge the heavy fittings. They were too far over his head to dig out with his claws. Terror tore at his heart and made his head spin. He did his best to push it aside, to replace it with rage and indifference.
Finally, weak, yellow light pierced the darkness and he could hear the old man's heavy boots on the narrow stairs. He carried a pair of pliers.
"You sleepin' ya bastard freak?" The alcohol slurred his words, the stink of that and the hatred was almost enough to make the boy vomit. That would have pleased the old man too much. "Gonna make ya normal 'f it fuckin' kills ya."
The pliers grasped the claw on the little finger of his right hand. He tried not to scream. He told himself not to scream. The old man pulled. The boy stayed silent as long as he could. Before the claw was ripped from its bed, a scream was torn from his throat. The pain made him retch.
The old man started to laugh. "Nine more to go, ya pussy freak. Then I'll get to those fuckin' teeth of yers."
The old man grabbed the claw on Victor's ring finger and started to pull.
He woke roaring, claws extended, slashing at the darkness. He wanted to slice, to tear flesh from bone, to rip through intestines and drag them out into the light. He wanted to destroy all vestiges of that dark time, to forget he was the chained boy in the dreams. The vision of dirt and darkness lingered, as did the stench of his own blood and terror. The rage kept one of his feet planted in the past.
The present returned in pieces. He was on his feet; the other pieces of the dark room replaced the phantom images of the dream. The scents were hardest to banish, mostly because terror and rage had been rolling out of his pores for so long the air was fucking saturated with it. There was another scent too. Something sweet laced with soft vanilla clung to the pillows and a subtle difference in the scent of the fear in the air.
He ripped the shredded blankets back, searching for her, for her blood, for any trace of the frail who'd fallen asleep curled up against his shoulder. There was nothing. He turned on the light, just to reassure himself that what his other senses were telling him was accurate. Aside from long slits in the sheets and blankets, nothing in the room was out of place.
Creed followed her scent to the closed closet door. To be fair, it was more of a room where he hung his clothes than the usual idea of a closet. Whatever you called it, it seemed like a goddamn stupid place to hide. Course it was the only avenue of escape that didn't take her within his sight-line. Maybe it wasn't so fucking stupid after all. He opened the door slowly. Even without the light from the room, he would have picked her out easily enough. She was hugging her knees as if trying to disappear into the far corner of the space. She'd put on one of his shirts, and her dark chestnut hair was hiding her face. He could tell that she was holding her breath.
What the fuck was he going to say to her? If he'd found her in his unconscious rage he'd be cleaning pieces of her off the ceiling right now. He got the feeling that she knew it too. "Frail."
She shifted slightly, so that she could look at him from behind the curtain of her hair. "Are you..." she paused, searching for the right words, "You were so..." She took a deep breath. Her body shook with the effort.
He approached her slowly. When he was sure she wasn't going to run, he sat down behind her and pulled her against his chest. "Seen too much shit." He murmured against the top of her head. "Comes back sometimes."
He felt her starting to relax.
"You weren't you." Her voice was barely above a whisper. "I mean you were, but-" She started to tremble.
"Animal takes over sometimes. Sometimes I fucking like it. Makes things easier." Her fear was gone now, replaced by confusion. She turned and rested against his chest, her arms around his waist. Her fingers massaged the knots in his lower back. One clawed finger moved her hair out of her face, curious if she would flinch. She didn't. "We gonna sit on the floor all fuckin' night?"
She smiled a little. "Not if you don't want to."
Kelly had started to get a new set of sheets, but he stopped her. "Don't bother. I need to air the place out before I can sleep in here again." He handed her the comforter. "Go downstairs."
"What about you?" Kelly took a hesitant step toward the door.
He pointed to the door and growled. "Go!"
Much as she wanted to know more, she knew that it wasn't wise to press him on the best of days. Kelly hesitated a moment, then went down to the den with the armload of silky king-sized-and-then-some comforter.
The den was the least formal room in the downstairs of the house. It was the room where he spent almost all of his time, and it was the place where she felt closest to him. She needed that right now.
Kelly turned on one small lamp near the fireplace and started a fire. The furnace would take too long to heat the place up and it never really got the damp chill out of the air like a fire did. She wasn't nearly as good at it as he was, but she managed. At least it had occupied her mind for a few minutes. She curled up in the large leather chair, the scent of his shirt as comforting as the warmth.
The first time he'd had a nightmare it hadn't been nearly as bad as this one, but her first thought had been to try and offer him some kind of comfort. That had only made him angrier, as if accepting comfort made him weaker. The next time, she hadn't said anything. She'd just retreated to the edge of the bed until he pulled her close again.
Tonight was like nothing she'd ever seen before though. She'd tried to wake him once in the very beginning, but that seemed to make it worse. Kelly wasn't proud of the fact that she'd just left him in that state. Every survival instinct in her had been screaming at her to run. Logically she knew she should have been terrified to be anywhere near him again. He could have sliced her up as easily as he'd sliced up the sheets before he came back to himself again.
In that first moment when he looked at her cowering in the corner, he looked more afraid of losing her than he was of whatever he was dreaming about. It was only a flash in his inscrutable eyes. At first, she thought she'd imagined it, but his posture was different too. For the first time he seemed almost cautious. That hadn't lasted either. At least she knew she wasn't imagining it. She didn't have it within herself to push him away after that.
Kelly looked over at the hunter green comforter. It was luxurious and seemed big enough to cover half a football field, but the fabric was cold. She plucked a knitted throw off of the back of the sofa and wrapped up in it. She looked over at the grandfather clock. In the dim light, it took a minute for her eyes to decipher the time. It was nearly three-thirty. She had no idea when she'd gone looking for a hiding spot, but it felt like ages ago now. She shifted a little so that her head rested against the arm of the chair, her eyes closed.
Creed leaned forward, his hands braced on tiled wall in the shower. The hot spray hit the back of his neck and his tense shoulders. He let the white noise of the running water block out anything else for the moment.
She should have stayed scared. She should have begged for her fucking life. Seeing her reduced to a whimpering, sobbing pile of disgusting weakness would have made it easy to kill her. Course she didn't fucking do that. Would have been easy if she'd looked at him with pity. He didn't need her pity or anyone else's. That wasn't there either, but it would be. She'd look at him like some poor, weak creature that needed to be taken care of and as soon as she did, she'd be disposable, like all the others.
He didn't need her. He could cook his own damn food and keep his own fucking house in order. He'd been doing it for a century, he'd be doing it after she...he didn't fucking need her. Not for that. He didn't need her for sex either. He could fuck anybody he wanted any time he wanted.
It wasn't just the way she wrapped her legs around him, or the way she knew rare meant rare. Just what it was, he couldn't say. He'd never learned words for that kind of emotional shit and he was too fucking old to start expanding his vocabulary.
He stood up and finished washing the stink of fear from his skin. It had to be done. Should have been done weeks ago. He'd lost everybody else, and gone on. He'd go on after she was just a corpse too. Now he just needed to figure out why he had to work so hard to convince himself. She'd end up pitying him. She'd ask questions he didn't want to answer. She'd tell him he had to talk about it and when he wouldn't she'd keep pressing him. That would make it easier.
He turned off the water and got out of the shower. He wouldn't have to search for her. When he's first decided on this house, he was sure she'd prefer the more formal rooms. After wandering through all of them on the first day she gravitated toward the book-lined den. He was sure he'd find her in there. He pulled on a pair of shorts, opened all the windows in the large room, then went downstairs.
He'd snap her neck. It was quick and he had no interest in causing her pain. If he was careful she wouldn't know what hit her. The idea gave him a hollow, aching feeling. The closer he got to the door the stronger the delicate aroma of vanilla sugar got. He looked at the soft glow that leaked out from under the door. Should have left her in the fucking woods to start with.
He opened the door. The comforter was neatly folded at the end of the sofa. She'd started a fire, or tried to. She never got it arranged right and it burned itself out too quick. Before he left he'd have to show her – FUCK! He had to get her out of his head.
He walked over to the chair she was curled up in. She wasn't deeply asleep, and she was still wearing his shirt. The one she said brought out the color of his eyes, whatever the fuck that meant. He moved the hair out of her face, and her eyes fluttered open. She smiled at him. Not a pitying smile, just the smile she always wore when she was happy to see him. He admitted to himself that he wasn't going to do it. He didn't want to. Not now. There was still plenty of time for her to piss him off. When she did, he'd do it then.
"Think I told you to bring that down here to keep your hands occupied?" He looked over at the comforter.
"It was cold in here and that fabric is kind of cold too." She sat up and watched while he unfolded it, covering the sofa. She waited while he stretched out, then moved closer. He looked at the shirt. "Take that off."
She blushed and turned her back to him while her fingers worked the buttons. Even in the dim light, one healing bite and several other scratches were visible. Some were accidental, others weren't. All of them were marks of ownership. She draped the shirt over the back of the chair she'd been sleeping in. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her so that she was between his body and the back of the sofa. He felt her shiver when he folded the comforter over both of them.
He waited for the questions. She had to ask. She was too fucking curious about everything not to. Finally he couldn't stand it anymore. "Well?"
She looked up at him as if he'd spoken in another language. "Well what?"
"You ain't even gonna ask?"
He rolled his eyes. "No, about the price of fucking tea in China."
Her eyes held his. "If you want to tell me I'll listen for as long as you want me to, but I'm not ever going to ask. What you said in the closet is enough."
Fucking frail. His arm tightened around her, his hand pressing her head down to his shoulder. "What made you decide to leave?"
"I don't know really." Her voice was quiet, her body molded to his. "It just seemed like...like I had to."
"I ever do that again, you get the fuck out of that room and you stay out until you're damn sure I'm awake. You understand me?"
He felt her nod against his shoulder. Her arm tightened around his waist.
His claws drifted lightly over the swell of her hip. "I'm going out hunting as soon as you fall asleep." Just because he wasn't going to kill her didn't mean he wasn't going to kill anything.
"I'll make you something to eat." She started to get up. He let his claws bite into her skin just enough to hold her in place.
"Don't need anything."
Her lips brushed over his nipple, sending tingling excitement radiating out from that point of contact. "'Kay." One delicate fingertip traced around his navel, continuing what her mouth had started.
He could fuck anyone any time he wanted, but she was the only one who would touch him like this. His back arched and a deep purr rumbled from his chest.
"You know what that does to me, frail." His claws bit a little deeper into her soft skin.
Kelly moaned softly. "This?" Her fingertips tickled the line of hair descending from his navel. This should have been the last thing on her mind. Maybe the uncertainty and fear made her need this even more. Her fingertips moved over the firm swelling in his shorts.
"Gettin' bold, aren't you little girl?" There was a growl in his voice, but his body was reacting to her hesitant touches.
"Seems like you're enjoying it." Her mouth teased along his collarbone. Her fingers trembled a little as they traced the flared head through the thin cotton.
His claws traced up her back, leaving burning trails as they scratched her skin. Finally, his hand dug into her hair. He tugged sharply; Kelly whimpered and looked up at him. He was grinning. "You wouldn't want to forget who's in charge here, frail." He twisted her head; she turned, trying to ease the pressure on her hair. He shifted out of the way.
"I haven't-" She swallowed a whimper. He kept twisting, forcing her onto her back, her neck stretched.
"Probably not. I'm gonna make damn sure of that." He pinched her left nipple hard enough to make her whimper. "Such a pretty little sound. Make it again." He bit down on her right nipple with his blunt teeth. Kelly's back arched, her hands gripping his shoulders. Tears came to her eyes, and she whimpered again. His tongue gently stroked over the firm bud.
"Not bad." His claws moved over her tummy. A tremor traveled through her. His teeth closed on her left nipple. Kelly arched and cried out. He growled appreciatively and soothed her nipple with his lips. "Like that even more, frail. Show me the rest of what's mine."
For a moment, his words were lost in a haze of pleasure, ache and desire. "What-"
His tongue flickered over her nipple, claws carefully grazed her thighs. "You really want me to repeat myself?"
The meaning of his statement finally broke through. Kelly blushed deeply and opened her legs. Her face was mostly hidden, but she could feel him looking at her. She jumped when he opened her even wider.
His low chuckle sent a little tremor down her spine. "Nervous, frail?"
His tongue flickered over her moist folds. The words she was forming dissolved into a deep moan.
"'Cause you don't taste nervous." His tongue flickered over her delicate inner lips. "You taste like you want me to fuck you."
He sucked at the nub of her pleasure, pushing her right up to the edge of orgasm, but not letting her fall. "Oh God, Victor please-"
"Please? Please what?" He went back to teasing her.
Kelly whimpered, near tears. "Please let me finish."
She groaned in frustration. He held her in place and continued his slow, torturous assault on her most intimate places. Each time his mouth moved, she was sure that he would push her just far enough, but he never did. The need for release grew to a physical ache. She was certain that he'd keep her that way forever.
Without warning, his mouth was gone. His body moved over hers. It always hurt when he entered her quickly, but with her whole body so tense to begin with, it was unbearable and wonderful at the same time. Screaming release collided with wrenching pain. The landscape of pleasure changed to something alien and frighteningly wonderful. How long she spent lost there, Kelly didn't know or care. It was finally starting to slip away when his roar of release brought her back to the present.
He moved onto his back, letting her lay on his chest. His hand was still tangled in her hair.
He brought the last of the dishes over to the sink. "When you finish, bring me another beer."
"Okay." She smiled and took the serving platter from his hands. "Want anything else?"
"Nah." It had been nearly a week since the dream. He'd finally started sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time. When he was tired, his temper was even shorter than usual. She wore a new bruise on her forearm in the shape of his fingers. The sight of it bothered him more than it bothered her, so she kept her sleeves pulled down.
It took only a few minutes to stack the dishwasher and finish up the last of the pans. She opened a beer for him and got a cup of hot tea for herself. She brought them both into the den. He grunted in acknowledgment and kept flipping through channels. She sat down and picked the sock she'd been knitting out of the basket by her feet, her attention split between her knitting and fleeting images on the screen. She could easily have missed the image of a balding, middle-aged man.
"Wait! Go back!"
He growled. "What was that, frail?"
She looked over at him. "Please! I think that was Stan."
"What the hell would he be doing on television? Tell me when." He moved back through the channels.
"-Wilton, newly-named director of the Church of Humanity's national youth outreach programs." The blond reporter's face was completely impassive. She might have been talking about the latest movies. Kelly's stomach started to turn. "We talked about your vision for the future earlier in the program, now I'd like to ask a question that might be on the minds of many of our viewers. How can you inspire the youth of America to embrace their humanity and reject anything less, if you can't keep your own family intact?"
"You're referring to the recent disappearance of my adopted daughter, Kelly."
Kelly watched Stan arrange his plump features into an image of thoughtfulness. She was familiar with that look. He wore it when he wanted her to think he was considering something when he had already made up his mind. The waiting usually seemed worse than what followed because it provided a glimmer of false hope.
"My daughter is a troubled young woman, I can't deny that."
"So you've severed ties with her?"
He shook his head vehemently. The camera moved in closer. "Absolutely not. As I said earlier, one of my goals is to strengthen the human family, and there is nothing in this world more important to me than my own family. It doesn't matter what she's done in the past, I will find her and I will bring her back into the fold."