What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 22bypsyche_b_mused©
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Kelly looked up at Victor, afraid that if she took her eyes off of him that he would disappear and she would be back in the darkness that had held her captive for so long. His mutton chops were connected by a rough growth of stubble. She should see the exhaustion etched around his eyes.
"You look like you haven't slept in days." Her own voice sounded strange to her. The gravelly feeling in her throat took a moment to hit her.
He grinned down at her. "Thanks. Wanna tell me how bad I smell now?"
"Maybe in a few minutes." She smiled and immediately winced.
Concern flashed across his face. "You in pain?"
She nodded slowly. "Everything hurts."
The door opened quickly and Kelly jumped, cowering against Victor's chest. He held her tighter. She vaguely recognized the blue doctor that rushed in as the one who had promised not to let her die, but the other man was a stranger to her. She recognized a look of shock when she saw it though.
"Miss Demmer?" The doctor said.
Kelly nodded. "Sorry, I don't remember your name."
He smiled and squatted down in front of her. "Quite understandable. Dr. Henry McCoy." He turned on a small light and raised it to her eyes. Kelly pushed it away.
"Can't I at least have a glass of water first? I feel like I've been swallowing sand."
McCoy kept his eyes on her. "Logan, water please."
The other man disappeared into a small bathroom and emerged with a paper cup of water. The longer she looked at him, the more Kelly was reminded of Victor. He was staring as he held the water out to her. Kelly held those intensely curious eyes, but didn't reach out to take the water. Victor held her a little tighter and took the cup. Kelly relaxed against him.
"This is my brother, Jimmy." He held the cup to her lips. "Usually he ain't mute."
He tilted the cup slowly. Cool water drained into her mouth and down her throat in a heavenly river. She doubted anything had ever felt so good. A tremor of pleasure coursed through her. For a minute, what he said didn't register. When it did, the water was still far more important to her.
"Brother?" She asked when he took the cup away from her lips.
"Didn't tell her about me?" Jimmy or Logan or whoever he was didn't take his eyes off of her.
Victor gave a little shrug and a cold smile. "You ain't been on my mind lately, Runt."
"Could you two continue this discussion somewhere else, please?" McCoy sounded annoyed.
"Jimmy can. I'm not goin' anyplace." Victor's arms tightened around her. It was the protective side of him coming through. Kelly wanted nothing more than to sink into those arms and hide there for the next few months. She knew there would be time for that later.
"I'd prefer to have a few minutes alone with Miss Demmer." McCoy's eyes were fixed on Victor.
"Why?" Victor's anger was rising now.
"Because she's my patient and she's just made a nearly miraculous recovery. I need to examine her."
Kelly stroked her forehead against his cheek. "Victor, I'll be okay."
He returned the gesture, only with more vigor. She moved with him. "You sure frail?"
She managed a little smile. "If you'll come back."
He grinned. "Take more than all of these assholes put together to keep me away." He held her close and got up, depositing her carefully on the bed. Kelly arranged the blanket around herself so that she could move.
Victor turned to McCoy. "It's late. You got half an hour, no more." He turned to her. "I'm gonna find a shower, frail." Kelly nodded and watched him and his brother leave the room. Victor gave her one last look before he closed the door.
She looked at McCoy. "What time is it?"
"A little after ten. Do you know how long you've been here?" He turned the light on and moved it in front of her eyes again. This time, she didn't stop him.
"I don't know. It must be a long time because I don't hurt nearly as much as I did when I got here." He grasped her wrist and found her pulse. While she waited, Kelly started to rotate her ankles and stretch her toes. The ache was deep in her bones, but at least she could move. He released her wrist and made some notes.
"You've been with us for eight days." He held his stethoscope over her heart and listened for a few minutes. "Can you sit forward a bit?"
Kelly moved forward and he put a cold stethoscope on her back. "That's all? I would have thought it was longer than that."
"Why?" He moved the instrument slowly.
She turned to look at him. "Because I have some idea of the state I was in." She shook her head. "Eight days doesn't seem long enough."
"There's an explanation for that. Do you think you can stand?"
"I'm not sure, but I know I could eat."
He chuckled. "I'll have something brought in to you in a bit. Let me help you up."
Kelly moved slowly. She made sure the gown was tied around her, then she moved her legs over the edge of the bed. The deep bruises that had been there were mostly gone. At first her knees trembled and she took Doctor McCoy's arm for balance. She took a shaky step forward, then another more solid step. By the time they reached the door, her balance had returned. She still felt weak, but she was able to move on her own. She sat down on the bed again when they got back there.
"Please, call me Hank." He smiled.
A smile fluttered over her lips because it was polite. "Hank, I have some idea of how badly I was hurt. The bruises alone wouldn't be gone in eight days."
He looked like he was debating with himself. Finally, he pulled a chair forward and sat down. "Were you aware that you have dormant mutant genes?"
"No, but a lot of people do, don't they?"
He nodded. "They do, but I found that the gene cluster that controls your healing factor was partially active. Victor said you don't scar."
"Well, not in a long time." She looked at him curiously.
"The partial activity kept you from scarring. I was able to more fully activate the rest of those healing genes."
It took her a moment to process what he was saying. "You mean I have a healing factor, like Victor's?"
"Similar to his, yes."
She shook her head. "No. I can feel a wound on my side and there's still one on my head." She touched her forehead lightly. "Victor heals a lot faster than that."
He smiled a little. "The wound on your side is a surgical incision. I had to remove your spleen the first night you arrived. The rapidity of healing is dependent on a number of things; activity of the genes, nutrition, rest."
Kelly looked away. It was almost too much to take in. "You mean I'm a mutant now?" Addled as she felt, the irony wasn't lost on her.
"I'm not inclined to put a label on what you are, other than to say that you're on your way to a complete recovery."
She glanced at him, not entirely certain she believed anything he was saying. "I am?"
He smiled. "I'll need to do some more tests tomorrow, but I would certainly say that you are." He got up. "I'll have some food brought in to you."
"Thanks. Could you bring some Tylenol or something with it? I ache everywhere."
He paused. "Your healing factor will treat any drug I give you as a poison and metabolize it out of your body before it can do you any good. Once you eat and rest I'm sure most of your pain will dissipate."
Kelly's stomach turned when she thought of the agony Victor must have been in as he recovered.
"Kelly?" The doctor walked toward her, concern written on his face.
"Sorry," She forced a smile. "It's just a lot to take in. Is there a shower I can use?"
"In the bathroom. There should be a couple of clean gowns and a bathrobe in there too."
Kelly nodded. He offered his arm. Kelly tried to stand without his help and succeeded.
Creed followed Jimmy into the kitchen and up a set of back stairs into a quiet wing and then into a room strewn with clothing and empty beer bottles. He could tell from the scent that the room was his brother's.
Creed wrinkled his nose and looked around. "Goddamn Jimmy, you ain't got that southern fried cunt trained yet?"
Jimmy turned on him and growled. "You watch you fucking mouth. She's just a kid!"
Creed rolled his eyes. "Oh please. She's what? Twenty?"
Surprise registered on Jimmy's face. "Yeah."
Creed shrugged. "Then she ain't a kid. And just because she can't touch your dick don't mean she can't come in here and change your sheets now and then."
"You're a bastard."
"I'm an honest bastard. All that 'she's too young' shit is just so you can keep torturing yourself."
"I can just hear it now, 'She doesn't need all my shit.' 'Once she really gets to know me, she'll leave.' 'I'll hurt her somehow.' 'She'll find out what I did.' You probably got a shitload more of 'em kicking around in that metal-plated head of yours. Just means if you keep her away she can't reject you. When she finds some skinny kid to make eyes at, you can get all hurt and pissed off and have an excuse to run."
Jimmy looked at him closely. "Sounds like experience talking."
Creed shrugged. "Known you long enough to know how your head works. S'pose the bathroom is just as much of a pit?"
Jimmy tossed clothes at him. Creed looked at them and realized they were a black version of the sweats he was wearing. He told himself that they were clean and disappeared into the bathroom.
Kelly sat on the edge of the bed. A dish of fresh melon salad was on the tray in front of her. The turkey sandwich she'd been given was only a delicious memory. The shower had made her feel more human. The food made her feel stronger, but she still watched the clock as she waited for Victor.
Every little sound made her jump. The sight of the white linoleum on the floor dragged her back to that sterile chamber of horrors. The image of her own bright blood spattered over it came back. Her stomach turned. Her mind started to race as the memories threatened to carry her back to the pain and humiliation and the feeling of being utterly bereft of hope for anything other than death. She forced herself to push those thoughts away, to focus on the knowledge that Victor was going to be there soon and that she now had a healing factor. Sometimes, getting lost in the surface of things brought the most comfort.
The healing factor intrigued that very superficial part of her consciousness. Other than feeling like she was on the mend, she didn't really feel any different. She wondered if that meant that she wasn't really a mutant, or if it meant that other abilities would develop later. Hopefully the tests tomorrow would give her a better idea.
She heard a soft sound in the doorway. The scream rose in her throat, but stuck there. The sound came out in a strangled whimper. She scrambled back, nearly upsetting the tray. An instant later, she recognized Victor's broad frame.
Kelly could hear the concern in his voice. She turned away. "I'm sorry." Tears started to slip down her cheeks. She drew her knees up and hugged them. She felt him sit down, then he stroked her back.
"You ain't gotta explain." He squeezed her shoulder and she turned toward him. He reached out to her, but there was a hesitancy she didn't usually see there. Kelly moved forward, waiting for some reproach. When she settled against his chest, he held her. "The kind of shit you been through fucks with your head."
She shook her head and relaxed against him. His musky, masculine scent was a little slice of heaven. His fingers tangled in her wet hair, claws teasing her scalp as he separated the strands.
"Where are we?" Her voice was soft.
He looked down at her. "You don't know?" Worry flickered through his eyes.
"I know it's a hospital, but Hank didn't tell me which one." She started to tremble. "I know they took me on a plane, but I don't know where that plane ended up or how long it took-"
He held her tighter. "It's not a regular hospital. It's the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, or whatever the fuck he's calling it these days. You're back in New York state." He picked up the unfinished dish of melon. "Finish. Food fuels your healing."
Kelly ate the last few bits slowly. He looked at her strangely when she handed the empty bowl back. "What?"
"Conlon told me you were drugged when they took you away."
"I was. I know they injected me with something." Kelly rubbed absently at her shoulder, even though the pain of the injection was long gone. "I guess they didn't use enough. I woke up in the back of a van or an SUV." She looked up at him.
He looked like he might have been about to say something. The sound of the door opening sent a rush of terror through Kelly's consciousness. She curled up as tightly as she could and hid against Victor, certain that an attack was imminent. He held her close.
The scent of the frail's terror ripped at something inside him. He glared at the woman in pink scrubs. "What?"
"I-I came for Miss Demmer's tray." The blond bitch smelled almost as scared as the frail did. It was an ephemeral kind of fear though. The kind that faded quickly.
"Then take it and get out. And don't come back tonight."
"I need to check on-"
"Look through the fucking window. You can see she's breathing." He held the frail close, giving her a place to hide.
The woman in pink picked up the tray and walked out quickly. He didn't give a shit about her, or what she thought or felt. All that mattered were the pairs of circular burns he'd seen among the bruises and blood on the frail's body when he'd first found her. Nobody needed to tell him they came from a stun gun. Her reaction told him that they'd used it to control her when they took her out of the cell. Given the number of marks, probably as torture other times too.
He purred softly. The tension started to leave her body. She took an unsteady breath.
"I'm sorry." Her voice was an unsteady whisper.
"For what?" He stroked her back.
"Being so jumpy, so-." She relaxed more fully.
"'F you say anything about being weak I'm gonna fucking test that new healing factor of yours." His voice was a soft rumble.
Despite his harsh words, the scent of her fear started to drain away. She looked up at him. "What would you call it then?"
"Don't know, but I do know you're here and everybody else in that bunker is feeding maggots. I'd say you won." He stroked the cut on her head with one finger. She didn't flinch.
She knew it was because of him that she had survived in the first place. She kept that thought to herself. "Feels like it's almost gone." She reached up and found his fingers, following their path.
He couldn't resist a little smile. "Cause it is. The ape explain?"
She shook her head. "He didn't say much. I'm not sure I could have processed much." She looked up at him and smiled a little. "You shaved."
"Yeah." He pulled her head down against his chest. "Figure as long as I was getting cleaned up I might as well do it right."
Her hands moved over his back. Her body relaxed against him. "Do I smell like them? To you, I mean."
She didn't have to explain who 'them' was. The idea that she'd worry about that made it hard to breathe. He held her tighter. "No frail. I can smell the ape on you and some of the nurses who've been in and out." He pushed her back on the narrow bed. His head moved down over her body. Fear crested and ebbed as he moved down from her neck.
"You smell like warm sun on sweet pines." He lingered at her breasts; his lips touched each nipple through the thin cotton of her gown. They hardened and made little peaks.
"Vanilla sugar cookies." He moved downward, the tip of his nose teased the depression of her navel.
"Cold water over rocks." Little rushes of anxiety surrounded her as he moved lower. He stroked the outsides of her hips carefully while his head hovered over the crux of her legs, taking in the familiar sweet scent of her core. Her back arched. A little moan escaped her lips. She squeezed his shoulder, her eyes closed. The more he lingered, the more nervous she got. He saw her look over at the uncovered window. He grinned up at her. "And you still smell like me."
She blushed deeply. He got up. "Get under the covers. I need some sleep and I'll be goddamned if I'm gonna try and sleep in that fucking chair again." He took off his shirt, then turned off most of the lights. He lowered the rest of the sides on the bed. Creed told himself that he was simply exhausted, that he needed to sleep if he was going to get her out of there tomorrow. He rationalized that the frail was calmer when she was close to him and that if she was calm he'd get more rest. It was all bullshit. He needed to feel her close to him, warm and breathing, to reassure himself that she really was alive.
She looked at him nervously as he tried to make himself comfortable on the narrow bed. Finally, he pulled her against his chest. He felt her tremble.
"Cold?" His voice was soft.
"A little." She relaxed against him.
He pulled the thin blanket up over her shoulders. One hand moved between the ties on the back of her gown. She flinched when he touched her skin, then she relaxed into him. For a few minutes, his fingers drifted over her spine. Each one of her bones stood out under the pads of his fingers. Anger and guilt rose in his chest.
"Not your fault." Her voice was a sleepy whisper.
"You think I need to hear that?" The words were too swift and too harsh. He knew it as soon as they were out. Why the fuck did he have to screw everything up?
She snuggled closer. "No. I needed to say it."
He twined his legs with hers. "Right at that minute, huh?"
Despite the dim light, he saw the slight smile that touched her lips. "You got tense. I guessed."
He growled softly. ""F that fucking ape gave you something to put you in my head even more than you already are, I'll kill him." He kissed the top of her head.
She fell silent again. He could feel the tension leaving her body in slow degrees.
Her lips brushed the front of his chest. "What happens now?"
"Well, right now you shut the fuck up so's I can get some sleep." The soft, purring tone was at odds with the harshness of the words. Still, it was normal and he told himself that she needed normal. "Tomorrow, you'll do as many of the ape's tests as you want to, I'll coordinate with Conlon-"
"Was when I left him at the gate. How'd you think we got here?"
She shook her head a little. Tension crept back in. "I remember you finding me, and then there were a lot of strangers around me. I don't know how I got from one place to the other."
"He was shot, but he's alive." Creed didn't tell her he wasn't sure how long that was going to last. "Xavier wouldn't let him in. He's waiting for my phone call. Anyways, once you're ready, we'll head back to Chicago."
She nodded and closed her eyes again.
He watched her breathing become deep and regular. Her scent sweetened too. If he really concentrated, Creed could just about find the change in her underlying scent, the part of the palette that provided the structure for the rest. Not quite human, not quite mutant. Either that or he was too fucking tired and he was imagining things. Didn't matter. She was alive and for the moment she still trusted him. The rest he'd figure out later. He kissed her forehead and closed his eyes.
Kelly woke up slowly. The bed felt wrong under her. Her back was cold. As she came back to herself more, she realized she heard Victor breathing next to her. She opened her eyes and glanced around at the sterile room. The memory of waking up in Victor's arms came back. It looked like a hospital, but he'd told her it wasn't. She couldn't remember what he'd called it though. She guessed it didn't really matter, as long as he was there.