Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. I would also like to say I do not own the rights to the characters of Victor von Doom, the Fantastic Four, or any other marvel property owned by Disney or any other media companies.
Content warning: Should I warn that there are allusions to a threesome relationship?
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: INTERLUDE VICTOR VON DOOM
The house barely stood; it's walls bending and bowing to the wind and nature that asserted dominance over the structure as if mocking its attempt to stand the test of time. It would fall one day; collapse in on itself, folding up when the weight of the sky became too much.
As if by a miracle, it had lasted.
Victor wondered if the house falls and no one was there to see it, would there be anyone to mourn its fate?
He stood there looking at the structure, his mind conjuring vivid scenes of Sunday mornings rushing off to Church, and Saturday night sitting on the front porch with his parents staring at the stars. He could almost feel the warmth of the fire radiating from the hearth, as his mother chided him to stop reading and start helping his father.
It had been a good childhood.
(Victor refused to remember his father's yelling and his mother's tears. No point in being angry with the dead.)
Victor von Doom had been seven when the first bomb had hit his little town. His older brother had been sent off to fight in the war. He was most likely dead. He remembered the raining ash, dusting over the town in the morning. It floated down like gentle snowfall, but instead of instead of dissolving with the sun, it perforated every surface, clinging and sticking viciously. No matter how many times Victor washed his hands, the ash would not come off.
It had been called the Second Great War, as if there was something great about war. In the end, the power of the war was horrifyingly tremendous. Entire towns had been razed. Victor was just another child drifting in the aftermath where nowhere to go and no one to care.
Victor stepped into the house. The right side had fallen in on itself, and his parents bed had rotted. His eyes swept around the room; eyes frantically looking. His pupils blew out wide. His breath came out slow, but loud. His teeth scraped along his bottom lip.
He gasped out, "Mama. Mama. Mama."
Victor sank to his knees in front of a body. After four years, it had been reduced to bones and cloth. He recognized the faded green of the dress and the long cord around her neck that carried a stone he had carved for her when he was five.
He gripped the bones of the hand.
He wanted to ask the skeleton to wake up. He wanted to beg to his mother to come back. He wanted to tell her how lonely and afraid he was. Victor wanted his mother to wrap him in a hug and tell him that he would be okay.
Instead, all he held were bones. They didn't hold the light of his mother's eyes; they didn't smile at him and whisper soft words when he cried.
Victor curled up next to the skeleton, his hand gripping his mother's boney hand.
He whispered, "Mama, please come back to me."
The house creaked in an unintelligible response. Victor closed his eyes. The orphanage didn't have the money for a winter coat, and Victor's thin shirt didn't protect against the cold. He knew that if he let sleep take him, he wouldn't wake up.
Nobody would come looking for him either.
Did Victor want to die?
Despite it all, no, the child didn't wish to die. Instead he wanted the dead to live again. He wanted his family back.
Victor opened his heads. His little hands reached out and grasped the leather cord around his mother's neck, and he yanked it off. His slipped it on, and climbed to his feet. He looked down at the body.
That wasn't his mother.
It was just bones. Victor grabbed the quilt off the bed and wrapped it around his body. It dragged as he walked out the door. He reached into his pocket, finding matches. He lit one up, watching the dancing colors pop against the white covered winter backdrop.
He stared at it for a second more, before he reached down and put the match against the dry frame of the house. It took three matches before the side paneling caught on fire.
It wasn't showing, but the air was cold. Victor huddled in the blanket and watched the structure burn. Twice more he had to restart the fire. Hours past in a trance with Victor huddled in his blanket watching the dancing flames.
Finally, long after the sun had set, the young boy trudged back through the woods. The sun rose in the distance as Victor finally stumbled through the doorway of the orphanage. He collapsed on his small bed, cold and alone.
No one came to check on him.
There was a man in the village, old and gray, with eyes that seemed to be an open portal to the void. He rarely talked with the other villagers, choosing instead to sit underneath an apple tree on the South side of town reading books.
The man had landed in the village after the war and the general consensus was that he had lost his family, and he was bidding his time until he too died.
One day, as Victor walked by, the man had called out to him. "Child."
Victor blinked, and shoved his hands in his pockets. At that time, he was fifteen, and resented the label of child.
But Victor wasn't a rude boy. He answered, "Yes mister?"
"Come here," the man commanded.
Victor approached slowly. Although not the largest of boys in the orphanage, Victor was far from small. The old man posed no threat to him. However, when Victor got to the tree, the man stared up at him, and Victor stumbled back in fear.
The man's eyes, while usually were an unnerving pale blue in color, now glowed a bright white. Victor's breath caught in his throat. He stumbled backwards, and fell hard against the ground, smacking the back of his temple against a tree root.
Before the world turned back, Victor could hear the voice of the man speaking. The words, while whispered, seemed to permeate the air and endued the world with a transitory quality.
He said, "What is a child with your powers doing in a place like this?"
Nothing would be the same for Victor after that moment.
"Brilliant young man, I tell you. How old are you again, Victor?"
"Twenty-Five sir," Victor flashed a smile in polite response. He sat at a faculty dinner at Columbia University, surrounded by old white men teaching outdated facts, and surrounded so-called brilliant uprising young white men too terrified to correct them.
"And already on your way to a doctorate. You should meet Reed Richards, talented man let me tell you. He's changing the face of science and he's not even thirty yet."
Victor politely corrected, "Second doctorate."
"What?" the man asked.
"I'm on my way to a second doctorate. I already have one from Cambridge," Victor replied serenely.
The man raised his eyebrows, "I didn't know that. Then you must meet Dr. Richards."
Victor first meet Reed Richards on a Tuesday afternoon. He had been told that the man was working on a project in the lab in the Mechanical Engineering department. Victor had trudged across campus, curious.
Victor's first impression of Reed, was his wild hair and spaced-out eyes hidden by a skinny frame and large thick glasses. Victor's presence hadn't been noticed by the young man, so he cleared his throat.
Reed's head jerked up violently, and the back it smashed on the metal bar of a machine he was working out.
He howled in pain.
Victor couldn't suppress a laugh.
Reed crossed his arms and pouted, "What are you laughing at?"
Victor raised his eyebrows as if to show that it was self-explanatory. Reed huffed.
"I'd like to see you do the wiring. It's not rocket science, but I keep on getting them crossed up even though I know how they should be arranged."
Victor shrugged, "Sure. I have nimble hands."
Reed blinked at him, as Victor moved forward to look at the schematics. Victor climbed down underneath the machine.
Reed stood there stunned for a moment, as if he wasn't expecting that answer. Finally, when he gained his wits about him, he started to protest.
"No, wait," Reed exclaimed, "Don't touch that. You're going to mess it up."
Victor snorted, and moved back up. He smirked at Reed.
"I don't need to touch it anymore. It's already done."
Reed's eyes blew out wide. "It is? I've been working on the wiring for two hours! How did you do that?"
It became very apparent very quickly that Reed Richards was an absolute asshole. Not that turned Victor off; he would be a hypocrite if he denounced Reed's dickish nature too much.
Reed ranted at an undergrad, "I told you not to touch the… you messed it up and costing the university hundreds of dollars…. I could get you expelled… never come back to lab," Victor listened in distantly, mostly focusing on the paper he was writing.
Finally, Reed sent the young man shame faced out of the lab. Victor could see the tears welling up in the boy's eyes, and Victor saw Reed vicious smile of satisfaction at the achievement.
"I'm hardly one to talk, but wasn't that a little harsh," Victor asked, absentmindedly working on his proof.
Reed gave a lazy shrug. "He shouldn't have been touching equipment he doesn't know how to use. It's hardly my fault that he's an idiot."
Victor gave a small smile. "Fair, but everyone is an idiot compared to the brilliance of Reed Richards."
Reed took the compliment unironically; or maybe he understood the sarcastic meaning, but choose to ignore it.
Reed's smirk and the intense light in his eyes worked like a gravitational center for all the air in the room. Victor couldn't help but look on silently.
"Victor, there are those who can keep up with us, and those who can't. It's not our duty to inform the ignorant." Just berate them was left unsaid.
Reed Richards was an absolute arrogant asshole. Victor couldn't help but fall hopelessly in love.
The hour was either very early in the morning, or very late at night depending on one's perspective on the passing of time. Victor like to believe that he wouldn't bow to the whims of the setting and rising sun, and that the universe instead should bow to him.
That being said, the world blurred before Victor's eyes as he tried to focus on the equations on the page.
Victor closed his eyes for a second – just one – so that he could refocus and push back the haze of sleep deprivation.
"Have you hit your forth wind yet, or are you finally willing to admit defeat," a voice originated from his right.
Victor didn't open his eyes. "Fuck off Reed."
"Such language," Reed chided, "You kiss your mother with that mouth? Oh wait, she's dead."
Victor's eyes snapped open. "That's just cruel and uncalled for."
"So, you are going to admit defeat. It's been sixty-hours Victor. And there are only nineteen more until Saturday and in which case, I win the bet. Go to sleep and lose with dignity," Reed grinned manically.
"My invention is going to win the contest, and when you lose, you're going to present it to me," Reed said with the utmost confidence in himself.
Victor shook his head. Reed didn't get it. Yes, Victor would like to win the contest, but what he was working on was larger than just a trophy that said number one. Victor needed to finish the equations. If he could prove that the human soul existed mathematically, then fuck the school competition, Victor would win a Nobel Prize.
But even more importantly, if he could locate the soul, then maybe he could figure out how to bring one back. He could rescue his mother from the dead.
Pull her back into the world of the living.
Reed didn't understand. His concept of loss was getting second place in a school competition. With new energy, Victor's eyes snapped open and his pencil pushed back on the page.
Despite Victor's spike in determination, the human body wasn't designed to go that long without sleep, and at some point in the next couple of hours, Victor had collapsed onto his work.
Victor woke up the next morning tucked into his bed. Reed must have carried him.
There was a note on his nightstand.
I win, it read. Victor rolled his eyes.
Three weeks later, Victor gave a speech about the brilliance of his friend Reed Richards in front of the faculty after Reed won the Young Inventor's prize at the college.
Even Howard Stark showed up.
Sue Storm was beautiful, brilliant, and dangerous. She reminded Victor of himself; a person who sharpened themselves against the world to succeed.
A twenty-two-year-old female engineering student working towards their PhD in the middle of New York City, having also to support her kid brother, was hardly the sort of woman to be easily woo-ed. Reed tried, oh how he tried.
Sue's eyes were cold in a way that Reed didn't recognize. Reed had two parents at home to run to when the world got tough. Sue – like Victor – had to face the world head-on, knowing that there was no one to depend on but oneself.
Sue's natural beauty undercut the sheer brilliance of her mind as the men of the university saw her as someone to either be amused by or in contempt of. At first, they saw it as funny that a woman would dare to take classes with them, then they became outraged as Sue ruined the curve for those same students.
It only got worse when she started dating Reed. Reed seemed to be utterly oblivious of the bullying that Sue put up with. Snide remarks about fucking her way through a degree seemed be a daily occurrence for the woman.
It made Victor furious.
"Don't," Sue's hand on his arm stopped Victor from marching up to a group of undergrads and making them cry from the sheer vitriol he wanted to spew.
Victor's jaw clicked.
She sighed, "You're only going to make it worse. They're now going to claim that I'm fucking both of you."
That was true. The depths of human depravity.
"I can get them expelled," Victor said, his mind conjuring elaborate plans to get the boys expelled.
Sue gave a wry smile, "You boys and your revenge schemes."
Victor didn't know how she faced what she did, and didn't wish to burn down the world and rebuild it. Victor did. He dreamed of the red flames purging the world, igniting the landscape in hellish fire like the devil himself rising from the ground because God was failing.
Reed bounded up to them, a bright smile stretched across his face. He looked like a two-year-old handed candy, and Victor could see the darkness in Sue's eyes recede, being replaced by a soft fondness.
Reed Richards had that effect on people. "I did it Victor!" Reed announced, "I solved it!"
Victor blinked, "What?"
"I finished your equation for the human soul. We can build your device now." Victor's entire world stopped, as he tried to control his breathing. Reed had done it? Actually, done it? "Sue can help? Will you help us build it, darling?" he asked.
"Help?" she raised her eyebrows, "I'm sure that I'll be the one building. You boys are good with the math, leave the woman to the building." She stretched out her hands in a flex.
Victor blinked, and tried to focus on the conversation. He said breathlessly, "Don't lump me in with Reed. At least I use a blow torch without lighting the lab on fire."
Reed pouted, "That was one time, Victor."
Victor then sharply turned to Reed, and asked in a very direct tone, "You actually did it?"
Reed gave a rare abashed smile, and said, "Yeah. I did it. I know that it's important to you."
Victor immediately thought, I love you.
"Thank you," Victor put as much sincerity into his voice as he could. He would have dropped to his knees right there if it would make Reed understand how much that it meant to him.
A deep red flush arced across Reed's nose and cheekbones. Reed mumbled, "It's no problem."
Sue raised her eyebrows at the scene, and asked, "Are you just going to stand there awkwardly, or are we going to go? Because I thought we had a machine to build."
It took them a month to create the astral projection machine. One month of them spending every waking hour together in the lab. Victor and Reed worked on the schematics and double checked the equations, and Sue drove them like a task master. She had them yes-sir-ing her, as she tied her blonde hair back in a ponytail and pulled a wielding mask over her eyes.
Little Johnny – who at ten resented being called little – spent some time in the lab with them. His small fingers where far better at the detail work than even Sue, but he seemed utterly uninterested in any of the theory behind what they were building.
One night, at around two in the morning, Johnny had passed out on the couch in the corner of the lab and Reed had just fallen asleep on top of his notebook, his face squished against the binding.
Victor and Sue stayed up; Sue tinkering with the energy component.
"Screw driver," she commanded. Victor handed it over, his eyes on Reed whose glasses were quirked sideways because of the way he was laying. He was also drooling. It was a combination of adorable and disgusting.
Sue didn't even look up or pause as she spoke. He stated, "You love him."
There was no point in denying it. Not with the finality in her voice.
Victor swallowed hard, and answered, "Yes."
She put down the part she was working on and looked at Victor intently. For first time in Victor's entire life, he felt utterly exposed.
She then smiled softly at him. She was in a high collared white turtleneck that should have been nasty from working in by all accounts, but instead stayed pristine. Her hair was brushed back, and the freckles on her cheeks seemed to almost dance in the dim light. Sue looked beautiful and untouchable. It made his soul ache.
"I do too. He makes me happy. I mean, he's so full of himself and far too smart for his own good, but god do I love him. I don't mind that you do too." She smiled at him like they were in on a little secret.
Victor felt queasy. He wanted her to be angry at him for his feelings. At least then, it would be easier for him to force himself to stop feeling them.
He twitched, and asked, "Aren't you worried that I'll steal him from you?"
She snorted, as if that was impossible. Her voice was light and amused, as she questioned, "Are you planning on it?"
Victor didn't say anything.
"I thought so," she got up from her seat, and kissed him on the forehead. Victor flushed. Sue walked over to Johnny and tucked a blanket around him. She then continued, "Reed's too oblivious. You're too much of a coward. And plus," her voice took on a conspiratorial tone, "you like me too much."
Victor blinked, and blurted, "Are you suggesting…"
Sue laughed, and Victor wished he could push the words back into his mouth.
"Oh God no, Victor, we would destroy the world together. You and your manic brilliance, my sheer determination, and Reed's casual cruel disregard for others and within a week we would be the Supreme Overlords of the New World Order."
Victor wanted to ask what was so wrong about that. He suddenly wanted that with such a viciousness that it hurt.
But he couldn't have it. Reed and Sue were complete together, and Victor was just… Victor. The lonely exchange student from Eastern Europe with no family and obsessed with a death machine.
He stayed silent and stared at him hands. He couldn't face Sue in that moment, or he would break down and beg. Beg for what she was suggesting.
She seemed to understand. Her voice was sad. She spoke in a whispered tone, "I can't give you that, Victor. I have to look out for myself and Johnny. Reed and I balance each other out," her voice hitched, and Victor didn't need to see it to imagine the pain in her eyes, "his parents are going to buy us a place to live after we get married. I can't jeopardize that Victor. I love you, Reed loves you, but I need stability. My brother needs stability."
And Victor couldn't give her and Reed any of that. Being gay would be bad enough, but being gay and in love with two people was beyond wrong. The world would shame them. Sue didn't want that.
"I'm so sorry Victor," she whispered. Then, she said, "I have to go." Victor didn't say anything or look at her as she gently woke her brother up and ushered them out of the room. Victor knew that he should ask her if she wanted an escort back to her place – it was after all two in the morning in New York City – but Victor couldn't bare to turn around and look at her.
Long after she had left, Victor mumbled, "But I love you."
But love wasn't enough. And people never choose him.
Victor threw himself into his work. Their work. He doubled checked equations and stayed later than everyone else to the point that even Reed was concerned.
Sue didn't say anything. She would look at Victor with sad regretful eyes which he would obstinately not meet.
Love. It seemed so fleeting. And pointless. And worthless. Victor had lived without it for so many years – the last person who had ever really loved him was his mother – and Victor could survive for many more years without it.
Cold nights in the orphanage with little to no food didn't kill him, and this surely wouldn't.
Reed and Sue talked behind his back; Victor knew it, but pretended not to.
Victor decided that once they had finished the machine, he would drift away from Sue and Reed. Let them be them, and he could go on with his life. And if – when really – he succeeded in pulling souls from Death's clutches then Reed and Sue would mean little.
Sue pulled back away from the machine with a large grin on her face. Her eyes were dancing, and an energy buzzed underneath her skin. She announced, "I did it! We did it! It's done."
She sprung onto Reed for a kiss. He swung her around, as they cheered. Reed broke away from her and turned to Victor, and said, "Victor, we did it!"
Reed noticed that Victor wasn't responding. Victor stared at the machine, his eyes glazed over.
Reed came up and placed both his hands-on Victor's shoulders and shook him. "We did it! Victor, we are going to receive the Nobel prize. This changes everything."
The entire world would bend around the three of them, recontextualizing itself to fit this new reality. Scientific proof of a soul – scientific proof of an afterlife – extended beyond the realm of just scientific inquiry. It meant that in the end religion won the debate, but what religion and what denomination?
What is a soul? Is it just the individual? Is a soul a part of a larger being and eternal? Or is it singular and fleeting?
Those thoughts, however, were to be pondered later by Victor. In that moment, all he cared about was that he could rescue his mother. It didn't seem real.
Victor's eyes sharpened as he focused on Reed.
He said clearly and forcefully, "Test it on me."
"I don't feel comfortable with this," Sue rebuffed.
Victor looked at her flatly and remarked, "I have least to lose. You have Johnny, and Reed has a family."
She crossed her arms and stood to her full height. Sue was the sort of person who could intimidate you with just a look. Victor, however, was not the sort of person to be intimidated.
"You have us," she snapped.
Victor looked at her sharply. He wanted to ask her if she really believed that. He wanted to ask her a million things. Instead, he said simply, "And you and Reed have each other."
She fidgeted, and started softly, "Victor…"
Reed came over to their stand-off, and glanced between the two, picking up on the awkward vibes, and told them, "I doubled-checked everything. It should be all in order. That being said," Reed turned directly to Victor, "I don't know about this. Can't we just wait a couple of days? Go over it again?"
Victor shook his head. No, absolutely not. Not when he had his lifetime goal hanging right there for him to grab.
Victor shook his head, "No, we're going to do this. I'm going to do this. We've worked too hard and too long on this."
Sue looked at him with wide-eyes, and Reed seemed to puff up with a deep breath.
Reed said, "Alright Victor."
Staring down the barrel of the machine that they had created, Victor suddenly felt calm. The air in the room sizzled against his skin, as if it was ionized. Reed and Sue had a nervous energy.
But Victor, he felt calm and composed. In the next moment, he could either die or discover one of the greatest secrets of life.
Reed asked, "Are you ready?"
Reed swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing. He flicked opened the control panel on the side of the machine, and put his finger against the starting switch.
"Do it," Victor commanded.
Victor's eyes trained on Reed's hand, as the switch made – to what Victor sounded like – the world's loudest snnniiiwwp as it clicked over.
Victor could hear his own breathing, as a white burst of energy zoomed towards him. The world seemed to slow down around him, and he became infinitely aware of the room, from the aroma of Sue's perfume to minute flutter of Reed's eye lashes as his eyes widened at the machine working.
He felt at one with the room, every dust particle on the lab's surface to every drop of water in the drying beakers by the sink. Victor was vividly aware that he was alive in that moment, and the world around him teemed with potential, truth, and promise.
And Victor also knew that he was going to die.
He was an idiot, placing his life in the hands of a machine that three people, barley older than children, had built.
The white life grew bright and brighter as it grew nearer, until it finally engrossed him in completely whiteness.
The white rapidly faded to black as Victor struggled to hold. It was futile.
Victor was going to die.
It was both eternal and suffocatingly small. Victor knew everything and nothing.
Victor was nothing.
Victor was a concept of a human mind self-constructing itself and calling itself Victor. Victor was a soul than had attacked itself to a particular mind; a soul that knew no more or no less than what Victor knew, but was not him in complete construct.
What was one without one's body? Was one even oneself?
Reason could not exist without a body nor did the construct of time. Instead the world mended and bended around them, shifting life an endless sea unsure of which way was up.
If Victor could think, he would have asked himself, did gravity need to exist for time to become? Did matter need to exist for there to be existence?
What is nothing?
Suddenly, Victor's soul felt immense pain as if it existed in a physical form, and the world took shape around it. Nothing became something, and the void, while incomprehensible, was felt. At that moment, Victor existed in Schrodinger's state, both inside the void and outside of it. Both a formless nameless soul, and distinctly Victor. Both alive and dead, and neither alive nor death.
Victor was both everything and nothing. Part of the world, and set apart.
The void whispered to him, a thousand voices weaving into one, forcing itself into Victor's mind.
It asked, "What have you done child?"
If Victor could breath, he would be hyperventilating. He wanted to protest that he did nothing. But he did. Victor had done something. He had existed in a place where nothing should exist.
The void seemed to comprehend his panic. It told Victor, "I own you now. And I will use you. Begone child, return to the land of the living, but know that you don't belong there anymore."
Then, Victor woke.
Oh god, it's been a long time hasn't it?
So maybe no one wanted 10k on a random villain from my story except me, but fuck it, I love writing these interludes. This is part 1 of 2 parts and the second part should either be up tonight or tomorrow morning. This got to be waaayyy too long for just one chapter, so I decided to split it up!
Halfway through the chapter (what y'all just read), I wanted to cry at what I'm doing to my characters. I just wanted Reed, Sue, and Victor to have their happy ending where they have a bunch of pretty babies and take over the world. Where Sue designs terrifying tanks, Reed locks himself in his lab and MUST DESIGN special baby proofed everything because that his solution to any emotional problem, and where Victor heals from his sorrows and for once is just LOVED. And of course, they take over the world together. Fuck me. Why. Can't. I. Have. My. Loving. Supervillians?
Anyways, it all goes downhill from here!
Please review! The second part of this will be up in less than a day. I promise.