What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 21bypsyche_b_mused©
Just a few notes: This chapter is told almost exclusively from Victor's perspective. His descriptions of others tend to be a bit crude. Secondly, epigenetics is a very real science. I admit to stretching the limits a bit, but many people are studying how physiological and social experience affect the expression of genes. If you'd like to learn more, message me and I'll tell you how. :)
On we go! Thank you so much for your reviews, your questions, your passion, your votes and just for reading.
21. The "M" Word
The cultured voice on the other end of the line made Creed's stomach turn.
"Xavier." There was more of an edge to the voice now. This was a fucking stupid idea. He knew it. His thumb moved to end the call when the frail's hand gripped the front of his shirt. She wouldn't make it to a hospital and he couldn't let her go without a fight.
"This is..." He shifted his free hand to cover her exposed ear. "This is Sabertooth."
There was silence at the other end of the line. He didn't bother to wait for a response.
"Can you treat a human in those fancy ass medical facilities of yours?"
"Why?" The tone was guarded. Maybe curious, maybe not. Right at that moment he didn't give a shit.
"Because I'm about a minute and a half away from your front gate, but you already knew that. I got a frail that ain't gonna make it to a hospital. You gonna help her or you gonna let her-" He couldn't bring himself to say it. "Are you gonna help her or not?"
"Help her, or help you?"
The car stopped and Creed looked out through the windshield and saw the ornate iron gates still firmly closed. At the end of the long well-lit drive there was some kind of activity though. Probably marshaling the troops.
"You know me, right?" The frail made a pained little sound. He let out a soft, rumbling purr. "You know the shit I do to people."
"You've never tried to hide it."
"And I been doing it a long fucking time. I know how to get what I need before I break 'em and afterward I ain't inclined to fix 'em. Now am I?" Her fingers moved, gripping the fabric of his shirt and releasing it again. He stroked the back of her hand carefully. It was the only place he could see that wasn't bruised.
"There's a first time for everything."
"So I pick now to call ahead, to ask for help and to try and save a frail? Hell of a day I'm having. Better write it on your calendar."
"I'll send a medical team to collect her-"
"I go in with her."
"That's not possible."
"Bullshit. You been fucking around in my head since we rolled up on the gate and I been letting you. You know I don't give a shit about you or your little freak show, or anything else you got goin' on in there. 'Sides, it ain't like I never been invited to dinner before."
Silence on the line. At least the frail's breathing wasn't getting any worse. He tucked his coat around her. "There will be conditions."
"I got conditions too."
"You'll walk in with the girl. Your driver stays outside."
A narrow gate in the main one opened. Creed ended the call and got out carefully, making sure that the frail's head was cradled against his shoulder. Her hand gripped his shirt tighter again. "Almost there, frail." He worked to keep his tone reassuring, even though he could see the procession coming down the long driveway. The fucking runt was in the lead, his claws out and ready. Cyclops was a close second. The hairy blue doctor was next, though at the moment he looked more ready to fight than treat anyone. He wondered absently where the weather witch was. Bitch was always getting in his way, he didn't see why now should be any different.
"You got a lot of balls coming here." The runt growled.
"Always did, but you remember all that shit, don't you Jimmy. Shouldn't you be in a cage kicking some redneck's ass for a few bucks?"
"Better than beating little girls." There was a sneer on the runt's face. The stink of hatred and unease surrounded him in viscous waves. He ignored it.
Fucking prick was staring at his frail. Anger hit him like a punch to the gut and he held her tighter. The frail whimpered sharply. He looked down at her pained expression and forced himself to ease his grip. He thought he saw confusion flickering over his brother's features. The scent of the others registered the same confused undertones as they fanned out around him, closing in.
Creed took a step forward, his fangs bared. A deadly growl vibrated the air around him. "You stupid son of a bitch. You think I'd bring her here if-"
"You've never done shit for anybody but yourself in your whole miserable life. Put her down and step back."
Creed could see the tension coiled in his brother's muscles. "What's the matter, Jimmy? So anxious to cut me that you're afraid of shredding her too?"
"Goddamn it Victor-"
"You wanna try and kill me, you'll have your chance. But I ain't puttin' her on the ground." He resisted the urge to hold her tighter. She moaned softly. The blue ape gestured and two assistants appeared with a stretcher. He didn't recognize either of them, but they stopped a few feet away. He walked forward slowly, his eyes darting from the runt to the others that surrounded him. He set the frail down carefully. She whimpered. Her eyelids started to flutter. Her head moved from side to side. His eyes were fixed on her face. If it wasn't for her scent, he probably wouldn't have recognized her. He moved some of the bloody hair from her forehead.
The ape moved closer and the frail got more agitated the closer he got. She opened her eyes slowly and scanned Creed's face, the stars, the trees and finally the blue furry face that was leaning in to her.
A long moment passed before she started to scream and cough. He eyes opened as wide as the swelling allowed. "Victor, no! Please! Don't let them take me!" She entangled her fingers in his shirt and held on like it was the last thing she would ever do.
The two assistants -- one female, one male -- moved in and started pulling at her hands. He guessed whatever shit they were spouting was meant to be soothing, but it only upset her more.
He looked up at them. The murderous glare stopped them in their tracks. His voice came out in a deadly growl. "Back the fuck off!"
He looked down at the frail, his face close to hers, one hand supporting the back of her neck. "Listen to me frail, you're safe. I ain't gonna leave you." He glanced at the ape and then back at the terrified girl. "These are a bunch of self-righteous assholes, but they won't hurt you. You know I wouldn't bring you here otherwise."
She gave a terrified whimper, but her grip on his shirt started to relax. He brushed at her tears, then insinuated his thumb into her hand, breaking her weakened grip. He eased her head down and tucked her hand back inside his coat. He felt her starting to relax. He tucked the coat around her. Her body started to convulse.
"She's seizing!" The ape shouted. "Get her inside, get her vitals and make sure her airway is clear." He turned to Creed. "Do you know her name?" His voice was cold.
He growled. "Course I know her fucking name. It's Kelly Demmer."
The ape started walking away and he started to follow, but Jimmy stepped in front of him.
"Where the fuck do you think you're goin'?" The smaller feral growled.
"Get outta my way, Jimmy, or I swear I'll gut you." His claws lengthened, his muscles tensed, looking for blood in hopes of easing the pain that tore at him. He knew it wouldn't work, but it might be a distraction.
The runt's nose twitched. His eyes narrowed, but he didn't advance.
"Lose your nerve?" Creed managed a sneer.
The two men started to circle each other.
"That's male blood."
It took Creed a minute to realize what Jimmy was talking about. Blood slicked the front of his shirt and pants. A good portion of it was splattered over his coat too, but that had gone with the frail. "So? I had to rip through seven guys to get to her. In case you don't remember, that tends to leave a mess. Make your point, take your shot or get the fuck out of my way."
The runt advanced. "You stupid son of bitch-"
"Logan." Xavier's voice was as calm as ever.
The smaller feral growled in frustration, but stayed where he was. His eyes still locked on Creed's. "You're not serious about letting him in here, are you?"
"With conditions." His eyes were on Creed's face.
"I stay with her all the time, day, night, whatever. You stay the fuck out of her head unless she gives you permission. Anybody shows up looking for her, you never heard of her. As soon as she's able we both leave and go to a real hospital. You got anything to add?" Creed's fingers flexed, his eyes were fixed on the door the frail was taken into.
"Not good enough." The runt's blades were still out, itching for a fight.
"NO! You don't know what he wants with that girl! You can't just hand her over and give him the run of the place too."
Creed didn't hear most of the argument that followed. Jimmy started listing all the shit Creed had done to Xavier's X-Men. The old bastard started rambling about some kind of break and most of the little freaks being gone. The others were mostly on Jimmy's side, but Creed knew they'd follow wherever the old man sent them. Most of the time he figured it was fucking stupid. This time it was to his advantage, so he went with it.
It was all going by too fast. One minute she was outside, the next she was inside in a cold, sterile room. People were talking to her. One, the blue doctor, was obviously a mutant. Even through all the pain and confusion she knew that much. She couldn't tell about the others, except they seemed intent on telling her she was 'safe'.
"Kelly, I'm Dr. Henry McCoy."
"Victor." The word came out in a slurred murmur.
"You're safe from him." One of the assistants said.
"He saved me. Twice." The effort of speaking drained what little energy she had, but she had to be sure they knew before it was impossible for her to tell them.
"Saved you?" McCoy asked.
They were hooking her up to monitors. Alarms started to sound and someone put an oxygen mask on her face. She pushed it aside. "Get him, please."
McCoy put the mask back in place. "You need that. I'll let him see you when you're stable."
She moved the mask again. "Now." She started to cough into the mask. She moved it again. "Can't die alone."
He took her hand. "I'm not going to let you die."
Even in her weakened state, Kelly could read the sincerity in his eyes.
Creed had been stuck in some fucking conference room for the past four hours and thirty-seven minutes. It was all slick surfaces and comfortable chairs and he knew exactly how long he'd been there because he'd been staring at the clock the whole goddamn time. With every minute that ticked by, he was getting more and more certain that she wasn't going to make it. He didn't know how she'd even stayed conscious for as long as she did to start with. Every time he thought about walking out of there without her, it felt like someone was tightening a band around his chest, restricting air and blood and ratcheting up the guilty pain that had settled there.
Jimmy had been sitting there with him the whole time, though he was being an obedient boy and not starting any shit. After the waiting had gone on for five hours, he could feel the runt's eyes on him, staring.
He didn't turn his head. "What?"
"That a fashion statement?"
He looked at Jimmy suspiciously. "The fuck are you talking about?"
Jimmy pointed at the side of his head. "You get interrupted while you were shaving?"
Creed's hand went to the smooth, new flesh on the side of his head. "'Scuse me. I didn't realize there'd be a photo shoot later."
The runt growled. "I'm trying to ask you what happened you fucking asshole."
"You care all of a sudden? I'm touched."
Smoldering anger ratcheted up again. "I don't give a shit, but Chuck let you in here. Gotta be a reason."
Creed studied his younger brother for a minute. "Since you got your memory back, you remember Verdun?"
He gave a derisive little snort. "Wish I didn't."
The corner of Creed's mouth twitched into a little smile. "Ain't my favorite thing to think about either. Anyway, sniper got you-"
"Went in through my left eye," Jimmy said, his eyes were far away. "I don't remember anything for the week after that."
Creed nodded. "And when you finally got your ass moving again, the whole back of your head was bald. The flesh and bone and brain and all that shit regenerated, that dumbass hair-do of yours had to grow back on its own."
"She shoot you?"
Creed looked at Jimmy sharply, but he saw the little smirk on his brother's face, he relaxed his grip on the arms of the chair. "She's scrappy, but she's got shitty aim." He looked away. "She's a protection job. The people after her shot me to get to her."
"Protection." Jimmy's eyes narrowed.
"Yeah. Some of us gotta earn a living."
"You don't do protection."
"And you would know because of all the quality time we've spent together in the last few decades." Creed looked away.
"Fair enough. From what I know, you've done protection twice. The first time was a short job and you were just itching to get your claws into something afterward. The second one pissed you off and you killed him yourself."
Creed growled. "Fat bastard talked non-stop."
"Never met a quiet girl."
He studied Jimmy's face. Creed could tell that his brother didn't believe a word of it, and he didn't give a shit. It was none of Jimmy's business. "You never met her."
It looked like the smaller mutant was about say something, but the door opened. Both turned to see the blue doctor coming into the room. This time he was wearing scrubs and those half moon glasses that always gave the impression he was looking down at the person he was talking to.
Creed got to his feet. "Well?"
"Well, she came through the surgery."
"What surgery?" He was pissed off and worried and if someone had asked he wouldn't have been able to tell which one was stronger.
The ape took his glasses off. The blue bastard felt sorry for him, he could see it in his eyes. "Sit down. Please."
He balled his fists. The pain of his claws digging into his palms would keep him focused. "Fuck that. Just tell me."
"The beating she sustained ruptured her spleen. Her ribs were so severely broken a shard of the bone punctured her lung. I removed the spleen and repaired the lung. There weren't any other internal injuries, but she's severely weakened. There were several times I wasn't certain she was going to make it through the surgery."
"She's a fighter." Creed had to hear it. He had to remind himself.
He tried to force a smile. "That she is. She has a closed head injury. Right now I'm managing the brain swelling with drugs and a medically induced coma. Hopefully, that will give her body time to rest and begin to recover too."
Creed nodded. "I'll make arrangements to get her transferred out of here." He took his phone off his belt.
"You can't." The ape spoke quickly.
Creed's eyes narrowed. A growl rose in his chest. "Why the fuck not? I don't wanna be here any more than you want me here. I sure as hell don't want her here-"
"You can't because she won't survive the transfer." The doctor said quickly.
The words hit him harder than the bullet had. "What?"
"Her condition is extremely critical. Once she's strong enough, I'll help you arrange a transfer. Until then, she'll have round the clock care here."
"I'm not leaving."
"No one's asking you to. I'll take you to her." He started out the door. Creed stayed put. It had to be a trick, it was too easy.
"What the fuck are you trying to pull?"
"What do you mean?"
"You come in here talking to me like I'm a human being. You don't start interrogating me about what I did to put her in that condition to start with, or who she is to me."
The ape walked up to him, his thick muscles bunched with tension. "You listen to me and you listen good. I despise you. The things you've done to innocent people make me sick just thinking about them. If she'd been unconscious the entire time I was with her I wouldn't let you within a hundred feet of her, no matter what Charles said." He took a step back. "As it is, she was partially conscious until the surgery. All she did was ask for you. She said you saved her twice. Most of what she said was incoherent, but in her mental and physical state she didn't have the capacity to cover for you."
The image of the frail trying to cover for him twitched one corner of his mouth into a fleeting smile. "She's a shitty liar anyway."
"I don't pretend to understand. If having you close helps her to recover then I'm willing to give it the chance. You won't be alone with her, and there will be someone in to check on her every fifteen minutes. Any other questions?"
"Not at the moment."
Creed followed the doctor down a long hallway. They were already in the bowels of the mansion, but to Creed it felt like they were going further underground. The area they moved through looked less like a medical facility and more like a prison. Finally, they stopped in front of one small, gray room. He could hear the soft beeping of monitors coming from the open door. Inside, the frail lay on a hospital bed. There was a tube in her throat. IV lines tethered her left arm. A narrow tube snaked its way into her left nostril, presumably to deliver liquid nutrition. A nearly empty catheter collection bag was clipped to the underside of the bed close to her hip. Even under the sharp scent of medicine and disinfectant, he still knew it was his frail. She looked even smaller and more fragile than she usually did.
He took a step closer. The large wound on her head had been stitched and someone had taken time to wash the blood away from her face and her hair. The deep purple bruises stood out even more on her ivory skin.
Anger threatened to blind him, but he forced himself to hold it at bay. He could go tearing out of there intent on finding and gutting Cavallo and Stan, but that would mean she was left alone with Xavier and his X freaks. He'd never get her back and he was going to be damned if he would live without her. Creed looked around the cell-like room.
The ape was walking out. Creed grasped his arm tightly. "You ain't leavin' her here to die."
"She doesn't deserve that." He looked down at Creed's hand. Creed let go.
Creed sat down in one of the orange plastic chairs in the room and got familiar with the sounds the monitors made.
For two days, Creed sat in that chair and watched. The frail's chest rose and fell. The monitors traced out each heartbeat, and recorded each blood pressure reading. IV fluids dripped into her veins and the bag that collected her urine slowly filled as her body excreted them again. Every so often tears would trickle down the sides of her face. The first time, he'd asked if she was in pain, but nobody would give him a straight answer. Her scent was a stagnant mix of blood, injury, medicine and diffuse fear. Any two of those things would have effectively masked the scent of pain. After that first time, he just wiped her tears away.
His meals appeared at regular intervals. When Jimmy brought them, he brought a couple of beers along too. The meat was always overcooked and the seasoning was all wrong. He picked at it, and went back to staring at the frail.
Every fifteen minutes, someone came in to check on her. Every two hours, they shifted her position. Nobody said a goddamn word to him but the sure as hell managed to give him dirty looks every time they showed up.
Snippets of conversations drifted in to him from time to time. "He must have done it to her, no matter what she said." "He just sits there, staring. Creeps me out every time I go in there." "She's here now, he doesn't need to stay." Creed rolled all his anger at them into planning what he was going to do the Stan, Cavallo, and anyone else who got in his way.