What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 25bypsyche_b_mused©
Hi everyone! :)
I know this has taken a long time, but i wanted to make certain that it was right.
I hope you all enjoy!
25. A Million Little Pieces
Kelly sat on the table in the chilly examining room and started to rub her arms. Victor wrapped his jacket back around her shoulders and started to pace. The longer they waited, the more agitated he got. Nothing she said would do any good, so she didn't try. She wasn't sure how long it had been when Hank finally opened the door, she knew she cringed into the large coat. If either of them saw it, they didn't mention it.
"It's about goddamn time." Victor said.
The blue doctor fixed a direct gave on Victor. "Perhaps if you had called ahead, you wouldn't have had to wait for so long. If I'm not mistaken, that was part of the agreement."
Creed shrugged and stood behind Kelly. "I agreed not to wander around here on my own. I didn't. 'Sides, I don't give a shit about your comfort or what else you got to do."
Hank didn't bother responding, instead he looked at Kelly. "You look much more rested than you did the last time I saw you." He smiled.
"Because all I've been doing is sleeping and eating. I don't think I've been awake more than five or six hours a day and those aren't all at a stretch."
His eyebrows twitched, then he looked at Victor. "Why don't you give us a few minutes alone?"
Kelly felt Victor's body tense.
She looked up at him. "You'll be close?"
"I ain't inclined to leave at all." His eyes were still fixed on Hank.
She grasped his hand and smiled up at him. His clawed thumb traced lightly over the back of her hand, then he looked up at the doctor. "Same rules as before. When she's done, you're done. You don't push for more and you sure as hell don't hurt her."
"Fine." The single word was laced with controlled anger.
Victor squeezed her hand. "Yell if you need anything, frail." He walked toward the door, but stopped to glance at her. Kelly gave a small smile before he closed the door behind himself.
Hank opened a folder. Kelly tried to read what was inside from her upside down vantage point, but found that she wasn't able to sort it out.
"I got the results of the DNA test we did the other day," he said.
"And?" She hadn't even considered it before, but now she was itching with curiosity.
He smiled a little. "It showed your healing factor functioning as I thought it would. You're still sleeping a great deal?"
"Yeah. Even when I don't want to. It seems like I have the energy to eat, but not much else."
"And you're eating well?" He was making notes as he spoke.
"Very well. Victor hasn't even been prodding me to eat more." A little smile touched her lips.
Hank looked up at her. "He usually does?"
She shrugged. "Before Victor, I got used to not eating much and not eating very well. When I get stressed I guess I revert back to that. In the beginning I was like that pretty much all the time so I guess Victor got used to saying it."
The blue doctor nodded and kept writing. "It's a bit early, but sometimes women with a healing factor are unusually sensitive to hormonal shifts. Is it possible you're pregnant?"
"No." Kelly said firmly.
He looked up at her. "If you're on the pill, your new healing factor will render it useless."
He sat back and looked up at her. "Victor uses condoms?" The surprise in his voice was poorly covered.
"No, just take my word for it. I'm not pregnant." Kelly was starting to blush. She looked away.
"Besides, you can just do a test anyway."
"It's still a bit early for that. I know you weren't pregnant before you woke up, so it's only been four days. I am curious about what makes you think it's so impossible."
"You're not going to leave me alone about this, are you?"
He smiled a little. "I'd be remiss if I did."
Kelly took a deep breath and looked at a spot on the far wall. "A couple of years ago I got an infection. It wouldn't have been any big deal, except that for whatever reason Stan decided that I wasn't allowed to go to a doctor because I hadn't earned it."
"How did you have to earn it?"
She pulled the coat closer around her shoulders. "I had to obey all of his rules, which was nearly impossible when I was feeling alright. When I wasn't...and I had Cody to protect." She took a long breath. "He decided I needed thirty days of good behavior. Each time I got through a day with no mistakes I earned one day toward it. If I screwed up, I lost two days. If I ended up in the negative, I had to earn my way back to zero."
"That's barbaric." The shock was obvious in his voice.
She looked at him. "That's Stan. I kept track of how long in the beginning, but after four months I lost track. When I finally did get to see someone they told me the infection had spread and caused scar tissue to form in my uterus and fallopian tubes and I'd probably never be able to have children." She looked at the wall again. "My appendectomy scar is still there, I guess all those scars are still there too."
He nodded. "The scars you had before probably won't change. Does Victor know?"
She shook her head. "He's never brought it up and I don't know how to. I have to think he's figured out something is wrong with me by now though."
He shook his head. "There's nothing wrong with you."
"There's some politically correct term I don't know? Fertility-challenged?" She couldn't help but smile a little.
So did he. "No, but if you choose to have children you'll have to be more creative about it."
"Nice way to put it."
He looked at her for a long moment. "Victor didn't hesitate to bring you here, did he?"
Kelly shook her head. "Not this time, and I doubt I would have lived if he'd hesitated the first time."
He looked down at the file, searching the pages for what to say next. He cleared his throat. "There is one other possibility. After surgery, you were healing very slowly. Even your minor, external injuries weren't healing as they should because your body was so overwhelmed. It makes sense that your internal injuries wouldn't have been healing at a normal, human rate either. It's possible that your body is treating your missing spleen as another injury to heal."
Kelly ignored the inelegant segue. She knew Victor could regenerate parts of himself. She never considered that she might be able to do the same thing. "You mean it would grow back? And work? Just like I never had surgery?"
A little nod. "I'll have to do an ultrasound to be sure. If I'm right, you're sleeping because so much of your energy is going into the regeneration."
Kelly gave a little shrug. "Alright."
He got a gown out of the cabinet. "Good. I have to get the machine. I'll have you take off your blouse and bra and change into this to protect your clothing from the gel. You can go behind that screen to change."
Nervousness clutched at Kelly. "Wait!"
He looked concerned. "What is it? An ultrasound isn't painful or at all invasive."
She smiled a little. "I know. If you go out there, Victor will wonder what's going on."
He watched her for a moment. "Whatever you say to me is confidential. I can't tell Victor or Professor Xavier or anyone else without your specific permission."
"I don't mind if you tell him about the test. If you don't it's just going to upset him."
"Do you often worry if something you do is going to upset him?"
She stared at him. "I can't be concerned about Victor's feelings?"
"There's concern and there's worry."
Kelly fixed her eyes on his. "I didn't say I was worried about him being upset with me. You implied that. I don't want him standing out there wondering what's going on and not being able to find out from anyone."
"You're certain that's all you're concerned about."
"He said tests were up to me. If he was Logan or anyone else, would you ask me all these questions?"
He took a deep breath. "If he asks, I'll tell him." He left her alone to change.
Creed stood in the lab and tried not to pace. Jimmy was standing with his back against the counter, but the other man might as well have been a hundred miles away. His arms were crossed over his chest, his eyes fixed on one of the floor tiles. Creed didn't really give a shit, but standing there surrounded by his brother's brooding silence wasn't getting the ape out of that room any faster.
He turned to look at the smaller feral. He'd seen that look before. The runt had been using it in one form or another for as long as he could remember. It had never occurred to Creed that the dark, brooding look that got all the girls wet was at least partially out of his brother's control.
A couple of years ago, Creed would have said the other man was struggling with some slippery bit of memory. Whatever had happened to the runt in the interim had at least scattered most of the pieces of the past in his brother's general direction, so Creed doubted that was it. That look was different anyway. Jimmy's brows weren't as tightly knit and there was no muscle twitching in his jaw. None of the outward signs of internal struggle between repression and recovery.
He supposed the old man was pissed off at Jimmy. For all the hot air about acceptance and choice, the old bastard fucking hated it when people stepped out of line. The runt had all but pissed on that line when he'd taken Creed's side. Still, a sneering old man wasn't enough to put Jimmy into this state. That didn't leave a whole hell of a lot.
The clock ticked away a couple more interminable minutes. A grin spread slowly across Creed's face, his eyes still fixed on his brother.
Jimmy was thinking about the girl. Had to be. Only question was, had he done more than think. Not that he really gave a shit, but it gave him something to do besides watch the clock.
"You gonna stand there and stare at me all day or are you going gonna ask?" Jimmy asked finally. He didn't turn his head.
"Ask?" Creed glanced away.
"Yeah." There was a little growl in Jimmy's voice.
"You been starin' at me since you got back out here."
Creed shrugged. "What makes you think I give a shit in the first place?"
Jimmy fixed him with a glare. "I think if I asked you, you'd say that you're bored. Whether you want to admit it or not you're worried about Kelly."
Creed felt his jaw tense. "That's a theory."
Jimmy smirked. "Knew you wouldn't admit it."
Creed forced a casual shrug. "She's mine and I ain't ready to let her go." He looked at Jimmy again. "You were thinking about yours."
The smaller mutant looked away. "She ain't mine."
"Only 'cause you haven't told her so."
"I can't just tell her-"
Creed groaned. "That part of being housebroken? Making everything ten times more complicated than it already is?"
"S'pose that's what you did."
A little smile. "You say that like it's a bad thing."
Jimmy looked over at Creed, but before he could speak the ape came out of the examining room. Creed took a step forward, but the blue doctor disappeared into another room.
Creed could feel a growl rising in his chest. "What the fuck is he doing? She's in there alone."
"If there was anything wrong with her, he wouldn't have been moving so slow."
"He still left her alone."
The ape came out a few minutes later, only this time he was pushing some sort of machine on a cart. That was all Creed needed. He was across the room and in the ape's path in a few long strides. "What the fuck is that?"
"An ultrasound machine. Kelly agreed to-"
"Well I figured she'd agreed to it. What's it for? Your own general curiosity?" Creed could feel a nervous anger clawing at the inside of his ribcage.
"I'll tell you because she wants me to. Because Kelly was healing so slowly, I don't believe the internal surgical injuries were healing. When her healing factor activated, it began working on all of her injuries, but it directed the majority of its energy to her most serious injuries. We could see it working on the external ones, but I think it was treating her missing spleen as something else that needed to be repaired."
It was suddenly easier to draw breath. "She's regenerating it?"
The ape nodded. "That's my theory at this point, yes."
"That wouldn't have been the first thing it did? A piece of her was missing."
Some of the tension went out of the blue doctor's shoulders. "Yes and no. A healing factor attacks the most critical injuries first. Yours is so fast you probably don't notice, but hers began with a whole host of injuries deal with. It would have worked on the injury to her brain and her lungs first because those were the most life-threatening. With a bit of care, a person can live a perfectly normal life without a spleen. It would have been pushed down the list, so to speak."
Creed studied the ape. He'd never considered the mechanism of how his healing factor worked; he just knew that it did. He glanced down at the machine. "This'll tell you one way or another?"
A little nod. "It should."
His eyes narrowed. "And if it doesn't?"
"I'll recommend a different test and she'll decide whether or not she wants it. If she agrees and if that shows nothing, then I'll look in another direction. Frankly, I think this is the most likely scenario at this point."
Creed put his hand on the door.
Creed glanced over his shoulder. "Why? There somethin' you ain't tellin' me?"
"No, but Kelly's changing."
Creed smirked. "I fucked her a couple hours before we got here. I don't think she'll mind." He didn't wait for a response, he just walked in. "Only me, frail."
"Behind here." She waved from behind a screen.
The ape looked shocked. Jimmy turned away to hide a little smile. Creed grinned at both of them, then closed the door behind himself.
Kelly lay on the examination table with a towel tucked into the waistband of her jeans and her abdomen bare and pretended to ignore the tension between Victor and Hank. The wary, dangerous look Victor had fixed on the doctor was in direct conflict with the tender way he held her hand. Kelly stroked the back of his fingers as the silence grew.
"You gonna sit there and stare all goddamn day?" Victor squeezed her hand lightly.
She glanced at Hank. His eyes were on their clasped hands. She got the distinct impression that seeing anyone touch Victor, or want to be touched by him, was still an unusual event that drew attention.
He took a bottle of gel off the cart and looked at Kelly. "This shouldn't take very long. You've been eating normally, so I won't be able to get as clear a picture, but I will be able to tell if it's there or not. I'm afraid this'll be cold." He squeezed the gel onto the left side of Kelly's stomach by the bottom of her ribcage.
Kelly gasped and gripped Victor's hand tighter to suppress a shiver.
"Sorry." Hank said. He adjusted his glasses. "You'll feel a bit of pressure, but you shouldn't have any discomfort at all. If you do, tell me and we'll stop."
Kelly nodded. He pressed the probe against her stomach and moved it through the gel. His eyes were on the grainy image on the monitor.
"Spleen's under her ribs. How the fuck you gonna see it with that?" Victor's eyes were on the grainy image too.
Hank's hand paused and he looked at the other man curiously.
Victor smirked. "What? You think I could do what I do and not know where shit is?"
Kelly couldn't resist a little smile.
"Forgive me. I forgot for a moment that I was in the presence of an expert." He moved the probe again and paused. "Kelly, take a deep breath and hold it."
She drew in a deep breath and held it while he moved the pressed the probe against her skin a little more firmly.
After a moment, the corners of his lips twitched into a smile. "Let it out, then when you're ready take another and hold it."
Kelly took another deep breath. She could see Victor squinting at the screen, trying to discern anything from the grainy, black and white image.
"Alright, all finished." He took the probe away from her stomach and covered the gel with a towel. The hint of a smile had grown. "Your spleen is regenerating, so the need to sleep as much as you have been is perfectly normal."
"How much longer is it going to take?" Kelly pulled the gown down and sat up with the towel clutched against her side.
"I can't be certain. I'd say the regeneration is about ninety percent complete, but that's just going by the average size of a human spleen. The last time I actually saw yours it was in pretty bad shape." He smiled a little. "If you're still spending an unusual amount of time sleeping after two days, come back and I'll look a little further. I don't think it'll take that long though."
Kelly smiled a little and leaned closer to Victor. "Thank you. I feel a little silly for being so worried now."
"I don't." Victor's arm tightened around her.
Hank's eyebrows rose. "For once, we agree on something. I'm not certain exactly how your healing factor will react, how could you be?" He took off his gloves and picked up a clip board. "If you need another towel, just take one from the bottom of the cart. Let me know how you're doing in a couple of days." He smiled and left them alone in the room.
Creed lay with the frail snuggled against his chest. By the time they'd gotten back to the guest house it was time for dinner. She'd eaten and he'd watched her fight sleep for over an hour.
Eventually she'd nodded off on the small sofa. The fucking thing was too small, even for her to get comfortable on. He'd picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. She woke up enough to undress, and as soon as she did she curled up close. Damn place was so drafty she was probably freezing. Wasn't like he could just get up and leave her after that.
Wasn't like he wanted to.
Kelly woke up slowly in a dim room. For a moment, panic started to rise, but then she realized that the bed under her was wide and soft. When she rolled over, there was a warm place in the mattress. She smiled. Victor must have just gotten up, his scent still lingered on the pillows. She arched her back, reveling in the sensation of being close to those ephemeral traces of him. For awhile, that was all she needed.
As time passed, she started to become aware of where she was. The room was too small to be the bedroom in Maine, too cozy to be the loft in Chicago and too comfortable to be the guest house at the mansion. She squinted into the darkness until she recognized a large landscape that hung across from the bed. That painting was in the cabin, the place Victor had brought her to recover after he first found her.
She relaxed again, hoping for sleep but it didn't come. Instead, she heard sounds filtering through the mostly closed door. Victor moving around in the living room, the sound of wood being arranged in the fireplace. The bed was warm, but her comfort in it was replaced with an uncomfortable restlessness. She pulled his discarded t-shirt over her head and walked out toward the living room.
The hall was dark, but she could see the glow of the fire ahead of her and Victor silhouetted in profile as he squatted in front of it. She smiled and moved closer.
He turned to face her, his hand held out to her, the firelight highlighting the deep divot on the side of his head where parts of his skull and brain were missing. Kelly stepped back and closed her eyes, trying to push the horrific image away.
When she opened them again, he was on his feet moving toward her, a river of blood staining his face and the side of his body. When she looked down at herself, she was covered in bright red blood and gelatinous flecks of brain.
Her skin felt stiff when she opened her mouth and started screaming.
Kelly woke with her heart racing. The coppery taste of blood was still in her mouth, the tight feeling of a scream still in her throat. Victor's claws were biting into her shoulders as he hovered over her, but the concern in his eyes was masked by the specter of the dream. In her view, the blood and bone and brain still clung to both of them. Her stomach turned over and she twisted out of his grip.