Identity Crisis


What the hell am I doing here? It doesn't seem right, lying here with a woman in my arms, gazing up at the stars. I don't belong in romantic movies. I'm the shoot ‘em up, take ‘em down type.

"There's Cassiopeia," she said, pointing upward, her soft hair on my chest.

I don't bother looking up this time. I'm too amazed that she's here. Hell, that I'm here. But I couldn't stay away when she called. I never can. I'm addicted.

It all started in a bar about eight months ago, when I was trying to get away from it all. Funny, right? Everyone needs a vacation sometimes, buddy, and it was my turn. It was a classier dive than I was used to, but the martinis were perfect and the dart board was free, so I was sipping and throwing when she came in.

She was a pretty thing, long black hair flowing down her back, tight black top outlining her generous front, miniskirt revealing plenty of leg. Her smoky eyes looked over the room and flinched a little when they landed on me.

I have this effect on women, you see.

She turned away to the bar. I watched. The back was just as impressive as the front, sure enough. Perfect curves. She could be an underwear model. Maybe she was.

I took aim at the dart board, sure she'd hook up with someone else there.

I didn't expect her to come over to me, a chilled glass of zinfandel in her hand. "What are you doing here, Victor?"

I threw my dart. It struck the bull's-eye but bounced off. "Don't believe I've had the pleasure, Miss …?" I let my voice fade. She smelled of fear, sex, and determination, intoxicating scents, and her warmth made me itch. I quickly put my martini to my lips and inhaled the strong scent of alcohol. I was taking a vacation tonight.

"Tessa. I work with the X-men."

Well. Wasn't this night shaping up to be a real pisser. This was all I needed. "Victor Creed. Not working right now."

She rested her arm on the rail I was leaning on. "Really. I had heard you were always working."

I shrugged. "Constant murder and mayhem, despite what the runt might say, can get boring."

She gave a little surprised laugh. Kinda cute. "They never told me you had a sense of humor."

I lined up another shot. "Bet ‘they' never told you a lot of things, babe." I hit the center of the target again. No bounce, straight into the red. The damned thing lit up and started beeping and everyone else in the bar started clapping loudly, some of them standing. I took a bow and my drink, heading over to an empty table behind the jukebox. The woman followed me.

I didn't expect it, but I let her. She sat down, running a narrow finger around the rim of her glass. "So what are you doing here?"

"Drinking. Shooting darts. You?"

She shot me a dark glance and flicked back a strand of hair that brushed across her pale cheek. "I just wanted some time away."

I nodded. "Me, too." The martini was nice, sharpening the edge on my thoughts. "So, why do it with me?"

"Do what?" Tessa took a healthy snort of her wine, coughing a little as it hit home.

"Anything. I'm the psycho killer mutant freak that probably everyone's warned you about, especially that damned Logan. So why are you here talking to me? Shouldn't you be out saving the world instead?"

She giggled. "Teacher, may we be excused to save the world?"

I didn't get it, so I ignored it. "Yeah. Something like that." I downed my martini. Why not? No woman was going to drink me under the table.

She rested her chin in her hand, making a pretty picture through the haze of smoke in the bar. "I don't know if I should tell you. I haven't told anyone yet."

"What?" She was playing games with me, but I wasn't worried. I could end it all with one quick slice if I had to.

She got up from the table and looked down at me. "Do you really want to know?"

I rolled my eyes and stood. "No. I always ask people questions I don't want the answers to, little X-freak."

She didn't change her stance or her expression, but her scent did. I took a deep breath of her growing lust and growled a little. "Come with me, big freak."

She walked out the back to the alley. I couldn't believe it. "You know you're asking a murderer to be alone with you, in a place where you can't count on Charlie's boys to come in and save you." I stood in the doorway.

She turned, mist wreathing her form, and put a delicate fist on her hip. "Are you going to promise to behave?"

I walked up to her, bent down, and laughed in her face. "Never."

Tessa shrugged. "Okay." She walked further into the alley. "Are you coming?"

She was nuts. But so was I, according to most people. I followed her swaying rear to the end of the street. She took my hand and pulled when I would have kept on walking. "I have a small apartment here. Please come up."

She led me up unstable, fragile stairs to an overwhelmingly smelly hallway. I covered my nose with my hand. "You know that second stair from the bottom's gonna break some time this week."

"Yes." She gingerly walked over to #301 and pulled a key from the small black bag she clutched under her left arm. "Come in."

The place was barely furnished. There was a basic small kitchen, never used, a table and two chairs in the next room, and a futon-couch in the third. I sat down on it and waited. She dropped her bag on the table, picked up one of the chairs, and joined me in the third room. Its walls were plain and white, bare of anything but a few nail holes. It smelled of her, dust, and emptiness.

She stared at me. I let loose a little of my tension, stabbing into her futon with my left hand. "So what's wrong? Xavier not paying you enough?"

"No." She considered me, her eyes flickering from my tense hand to my face. "You don't know who I am and what I've done, do you?"

"You haven't exactly made the papers, have you?" She gave a wry grin as I spoke.

"No, I haven't." She relaxed and her whole stance changed from elegant but standoffish to dangerous and sultry. Her face held a look I hadn't seen on a woman's face forever, temptation and excitement. She spoke with a smoky undertone that made my body ache. "You see, Charles recruited me for a long-term underground mission at the Hellfire Club. I spent over ten years with them. Know anything about them?"

I leaned forward. "I might."

Her eyes glistened. "They're rich, powerful, and dedicated to sensuality. They're also evil and want to take over the world, but who doesn't?" She uncrossed her legs, sliding her right thigh onto the seat slowly. It was heady. "The thing is, I don't think anyone yet has asked me why Charles chose me." She leaned forward and whispered in my ear, each word stinging my brain. "I like the excitement. I like being stared at, wanted, dreamed of. I like knowing any second I could fall off the edge and get caught."

"So what's the problem?" I purred into her ear. She drew back a little, teasing, and I pulled her back to me. I liked the way she warmed my body.

"I can't exactly dress in nearly nothing around the X-men, now, can I? I can't go on every mission and, of course, many of them are deathly dull." She stroked my cheek. "But you wouldn't know about that, would you?"

I gently bit her nose, relishing in the electricity it created between us. "Maybe. I did work for the CIA once. And I had to work with the runt." I paused, releasing her. She sat back and stretched. "Why didn't you just go with the runt? He's pretty much everything I am." I didn't try to keep the bitter anger from my voice, punching my claws into the futon again. Damned Logan got everything I ever wanted without even trying, friends, lovers … everything.

She set her head on her hand again. "No. He's too restrained. He doesn't believe in letting his more … primitive emotions out to dance. Besides, I wanted to try to fit in there. So I repressed everything I was. If I let it all hang out now, no one would ever accept me."

"They accept you now?" I waited.

"Some of them." She coughed. "Of course, Charles knows a little. He knew it would be hard for me to join when it was time to end my assignment. I'm not sure he'd understand everything, though, and he's so repressed himself I don't doubt he might even ask me to leave if I revealed the extent of my discontent." She frowned, resentment throbbing through the air.

"He'd better not. He's got a good operative in you."

"How would you know?" She turned her anger at the X-men on me. I sat back and took it, feeling it inside my head.

"So you're one of his pet telepaths, huh?"

She blinked and some of her energy faded away, along with her presence in my mind. "Sorry. I normally don't project."

"'Sall right." I rubbed my temples. "I've had worse from Weapon X."

She sat motionless for a second, then sat straight up again. "Why did you say I was a good operative?"

I laughed. "Hey, I may be a heartless trained killer. Matter of fact, I am. But I know the spy game, Tess. If you made it for over ten years in hostile territory without discovery, that's damned good."

More of the edge bled away. Funny. I didn't mind too much. "Thank you," she said slowly. "No one seems to appreciate what I did."

"They probably don't get it or don't know." I paused. I hated being fair to that damned goody-good, Logan, but it felt right. "Logan probably would if he knew."

"Why do you keep obsessing over Logan?" She leaped up from her chair and stalked back and forth.

Time to laugh again, so I let it all out. "You want the short version or the long version?"

"Are you a matchmaker or something? I don't want him here. If I did, I'd invite him." She sat down hard, crossing her ankles. "Short will do." She took my hand and bit it, then licked the mark. I growled.

"What was that for?"

Her eyes gleamed in challenge. "I felt like it."

"Did you." I pulled her up by her shoulders to my eye level, her feet dangling above the floor. "What if I did what I feel like doing?"

"What do you want to do, Vic?" She flicked her tongue at me and waited.

"Can't you tell?" My eyes glowed. I gave her my usual creepy smile, the one that makes everyone back off. She gave me a confident grin back and swept her mind through my head.

"Yes, I can."

"Bitch." I let her down. "You're no fun."

"Really?" She stayed where I'd put her, just inches from my body. "You'd better go, then, if I'm so boring."

"Tess?" I sat and pulled her down to my level on her knees. She let me, not fighting this time.


"Why me?" I searched her face. I couldn't figure it out.

She looked deep into my eyes. "Maybe because I'm a danger freak. Maybe because you understand. Maybe because you're the first person who's ever offered me a compliment for what I did without being asked." She leaned in. "Maybe because I'm really horny." She stayed there, so close, smelling so damned good. "Those good enough reasons?"

"Oh, yeah." I pulled her in and savaged her mouth. She gave as good as she got, biting my tongue with enough force that I howled a little from the pain. As I concentrated on her neck, she yelped. "Why are you doing this … ow!"

I grinned, my teeth tinged with a little of her blood. "I'm Sabertooth. That's always a good enough reason."

"You certainly are," she whispered, drawing me back down to her neck. "I didn't say stop, Victor."

Well, now. This must be my lucky day. I licked the wound a little more, then tore her clothes off and pushed her to the ground. She looked up at me, hungry, and watched as I bent down, tasting her. She was sopping wet, more than ready. I'd be surprised if she hadn't already come once, though I'd think I would have noticed if she did. I nipped her breast on the way back to her mouth, quickly opened my pants, and sank into her willing body as I licked the blood from her neck and collarbone. The combined taste, blood and desire, made me shudder. She was fairly tight, but the wetness made up for it, and pretty soon she was begging me to keep going.

I love hearing women beg. The fact that I hadn't had to hurt this one – much – was an added bonus.

She shivered around me, squeezing me tight, and I let it all loose with a shout that probably didn't add to her popularity with her neighbors.

Afterward, she rested on my chest, my arm wrapped around her. I felt oddly content, at peace. "So why?"

"Why what?" I tipped her chin up and looked into her amused eyes.

"Why the obsession with Logan?"

"I …" Damn it, the woman had to ask the most awkward questions. "It's just something we do, I guess."

She wouldn't let it go. "Why?"

I thought about it for once. "He just … All right. You ever seen a dog go into a room and just raise his hackles at someone?" She nodded. "I guess we're like that. Too much alike in some ways, not enough in others." I paused. "Plus, you know, there's the whole ‘me, bad psycho killer; him, guardian angel samurai' thing."

She stroked my beard. "That explains his obsession with you, not yours with him."

I let it go. "Yeah. I guess."

She sighed and snuggled into me. I wasn't sure how to deal with it. Part of me wanted to beg her to stay and part wanted to run.

Eight months later, I still don't know how to deal with it. We meet on occasional weekends, we steal away at times and go places, but at the end of the night, she goes her way and I go mine. Sometimes I think about breaking it off. She's a liability. She makes me weak.

She also makes me whole. Her scent makes me quiver. She makes me sing. You got a problem with that?

Not half the one I do. I guarantee it.

There's the whole problem of what to do if we're discovered. She says she takes precautions. Sure. So did I. But there's always someone out there better than you.

I sigh and lie back with her. She's here now. So am I. That's going to have to be enough.

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