Disclaimer: I don't own Sabretooth. He's property of Marvel comics. (Although I think he may rebel against that…) Larry and Heidi were developed my Gambitgirl and me, and Sylvia's my own creation. "Redeemer" is Marilyn Manson, and can be found on the Queen of the Damned Soundtrack.
Rating: R (It's starring Sabretooth, so why is sort of obvious…)
Summary: After losing his daughter, Victor Creed decides he might need some professional help in controlling his bloodlust. But with his new "live-in" psychiatrist, is he getting more than he bargained for?
Author's Note: This is set in the same time line as my New X-Men, so it probably strays quite a bit from regular continuity. (See: ) It takes place after book five of the NXM Chronicles, which as of now isn't written, but it will be… Also, seeing as this is slight AU, I've taken some liberties with Sabretooth's history. Deal with it.
As for writing a romance with Sabretooth, I figured hey, why not? Homicidal maniacs need love, too.
Feedback and Archiving: Please! Send all feedback and archiving requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're bored and want someone to talk to, turn on AIM and send an IM to ChereRogueMarie. I'm lonely!
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Running from the Hunger
By: Addie Logan
The hunger inside, given to me
Makes me what I am.
Always it is calling me
For the blood of man.
They say I cannot be this
I am jaded, hiding from the day.
I can't bear, I cannot
Tame the hunger in me
Oh, I say I did it.
You can't fuck with me.
So instead you'll taste my pain.
The hunger inside, given to me
Makes me feel alive.
Always out, stalking prey
I the dark I hide.
Feeling, falling, hating.
Feel like I am fading.
They say I cannot be this
I am jaded, hiding from the day.
I can't bear, I cannot
Tame the hunger in me
Oh, I say I did it.
You can't fuck with me.
So instead you'll taste my pain.
You say your life I'm taking
Always bothering me.
I can't take this anymore,
I'm failing, always smothering me.
You look down on me
Ain't what you see
Take this gift from me
You will soon become me!
Nothing seems exciting,
Always the same hiding, hiding.
It's haunting (or hunting?) me. It's haunting me. It's haunting me.
It's haunting me. It's haunting me.
*** *** ***
Sometimes Dr. Sylvia Masters rued the day she chose to go public with her mutation. She'd expect hate mail, maybe a death threat or two. She hadn't expected her career to skyrocket. It seemed people were more than willing to accept a mutant if it was somehow beneficial to them, and apparently they found a psychiatrist who could go into their minds and deduce their problems just that. Now, she had appointments booked almost everyday of the year and more talk show appearances than she ever cared to do. The latest was Oprah the next day. Her agent—since when had she needed an agent?—said that really meant she'd hit the big time.
Still, the money was nice. If only she had the free time to spend it.
She lay her head down on her desk, wondering if she could even muster up the energy to commute back home. It wouldn't be the first time she passed out at her desk.
Sylvia put her head down, and just as she was beginning to fall asleep, the phone rang. She sighed, picking it up. "Dr. Masters," she said, faking a perky tone.
Sylvia immediately lost the perkiness. "Hey, Jimi. Why are you calling me now?"
"Mama's in the hospital again. And not rehab this time, Sylvie. The doctors say she might die."
Sylvia sunk lower in her chair. As if she needed this right now. "Jimi, I can't. I just can't…"
"Sylvie, she's our mother."
"Yeah, well, why don't you remind her of that once and a while," Sylvia snapped.
"You know, you're supposed to be a top-notch psychiatrist. Can't you treat yourself for anger and resentment issues or something?"
"Don't start with me, Jimi," Sylvia snapped. "You were the baby. You didn't have to take care of Mama nearly as much as I did!"
"Not until you left us!"
"Yeah, well, I was sick of cleanin' vomit off the floor and draggin' her drunk ass to bed!"
Jimi sighed. "That was the past, Sylvia. She wants you here now."
"I have a life. I can't walk away from it."
"I never thought I'd see you this selfish."
"I've given that woman enough."
"Fine. You're all big and living in a real city now. That's fine. Forget us back home."
Sylvia heard the click, then the dial tone as her brother hung up. She slammed the phone down angrily. If he wanted to waste his time worrying about that woman fine, but she'd done it enough for one lifetime. She grabbed her purse and coat and left the office.
*** *** ***
Victor eyed the blonde woman sitting on his couch, eating chocolate ice cream and watching Oprah. He saw her put another spoonful in her mouth and wondered where she put it all. She ate like no one he'd ever seen, but never seemed to gain a pound.
"Heidi, you think you could turn that off? Whiny women give me a headache."
Heidi looked at him blankly. "I not understand, Mr. Creed…"
Victor muttered to himself. He knew the woman spoke more English than she let on. "LARRY!" he bellowed. "Come do something about yer woman!" Victor paused and turned to the television, something he heard catching his attention. A small, plain woman with a conservative business suit and brown hair pulled into a bun was talking to Oprah. Creed thought she looked like she'd make a bad lay.
"So your abilities make it possible for you to cure anyone of any psychological ailment?" Oprah asked.
"Well, I can't say that exactly," the woman replied. "Too much potential for a lawsuit. But I have been able to help everyone who's come to me so far."
"And how exactly do you do that?" Oprah asked.
"Well, I'm a certified psychiatrist, but I'm also a telepath. Through my own 'gift' and my training, I'm able to diagnose a patient's problem, then find the exact root of that problem in their mind, helping them to find a cure so to speak."
Victor had heard enough. "LARRY!" he bellowed again.
Larry appeared this time. Small and hunched, Larry looked like the sort of man just right for scaring small children. How he'd ended up with Heidi was beyond Victor. "You want Heidi to turn off the television, Mr. Creed, sir?" Larry asked.
"I did, but I don't anymore. Now I want you to find me where this shrink on T.V. lives. I want to set up an appointment."
Larry raised his eyebrows. "You want to what? I thought you hated psychiatrists."
"Well I want to talk to this one. Ask Heidi what her name is."
Larry said something to Heidi in her own language, and she replied with a heavily accented "Dr. Sylvia Masters."
Victor's eyes lit up, like a predator sensing prey. "Find her, Larry. Call me when you do." He walked out of the room, leaving Larry alone to mumble about not being paid nearly enough for what he went through.
*** *** ***
"Mr. Creed, what exactly are you planning on doing?" Larry asked from the driver's seat of the car Victor had had him drive to Dr. Masters's apartment. When Creed had found that the woman actually lived in Seattle, he informed Larry they were leaving immediately. What was the point of waiting if the woman lived in the same city he did?
"I'm going to go in and talk to her. See if she'll let me set up an appointment with her. It'll only take a minute."
"It's going to be as simple as that?"
"No offense, sir, but I'm sick of doing your dirty work."
Victor cocked an eyebrow. "Larry, I hired you to clean up dead bodies for me."
"That was over thirty years ago, sir."
"Just wait in the damn car." Victor made his way up to Sylvia's apartment and knocked on the door. A small woman in sweats answered, and he recognized her as the woman from television.
"Who are you and what do you want?" she asked.
"Victor Creed," he replied. "I saw you on Oprah."
Sylvia looked at the tall, blond man in front of her. He did not look like one to watch Oprah. "Look, it's late. If you need something, call my office tomorrow, and my secretary will take care of you."
"I don't want to talk to a secretary," Victor replied. "I want to talk to you—now."
Something about the man scared Sylvia. She wished she hadn't answered the door. "I want you to leave."
"Look, lady, I need help, and you're my last resort."
"I'm sorry, I can't help you now. Call tomorrow and make an appointment—at my office, not my home." She started to close the door, and Victor stopped it with his body.
"Just talk to me."
Victor grabbed her, pulling her with him into the hallway. "Look, lady, my daughter won't talk to me because I'm a sick fuck. I need someone to cure me, and I'm desperate. You said on the television you could do something like that."
Sylvia struggled to release herself from his tight grip. "Please, let me go. I'll help you in the morning if you'll just let me go."
Victor's nostrils flared at the lie. "No you won't." He grabbed her. "If you won't help willingly…"
Sylvia went to scream, but his hand went over her mouth. She pushed back with her telekinetic powers, sending Victor flying into the wall behind him. He lunged at her then, and he moved too fast for Sylvia to even think of stopping him. He hit her hard on the face, knocking her out cold.
Victor looked down at the unconscious body of the psychiatrist on the floor. "Aw, fuck," he muttered, hoisting her over his shoulder.
Well, it wasn't what he'd planned, but at least he had an appointment. Sort of.
He carried her back down stairs and threw her in the backseat of the car. "Drive," he ordered Larry as soon as he was in and the door was closed behind him.
"Is that Dr. Masters?"
"Why is she unconscious?"
"I guess she was tired," Victor replied sarcastically. "Would you just fucking drive?"
Larry knew better than to mess with Victor when he was in this state. He put his foot to the gas and sped off.
*** *** ***
Sylvia's head was pounding when she finally came to. Everything seemed fuzzy, as if she was unable to sense anything clearly, and something vice like was gripping her neck. She reached up to feel metal.
"It's called an inhibiter collar, girlie. It keeps ya from usin' your powers. Got it off eBay."
Sylvia sat up, and the pounding in her head told her she did that a little too fast. "Why…why did you take me?" she asked.
Victor shrugged. "Because you wouldn't help me otherwise. Agree to help me and I'll let ya go."
Sylvia shook her head the best she could wearing the collar. "No. I'm not helping you."
"Fine, girlie. You can stay here until you change your mind."
Sylvia felt hopeless to the point of tears, but she refused to cry. "What do you want me to do?"
"Read my mind and tell me why I'm so messed up, so I can fix it and my little girl won't hate me."
"Can I go then?"
Victor shrugged. "If you cure me, yeah."
Sylvia steadied herself. "All right."
He released her inhibitor collar, and immediately Sylvia sprung into action. She used her telekinesis to hit Creed as hard as she could, sending him flying into a full-length mirror on one of the room's doors. Victor roared in anger, ignoring the shards of glass sticking into him. He came at her again, this time only to hit a telekinetic shield. He kept swiping at her, until finally, Sylvia couldn't hold the shield any longer. Victor grabbed her by her neck, ready to snap it in two.
Suddenly, Sylvia felt a large amount of water hit her, and saw a short man standing in the doorway with a bucket. "Drop her, Mr. Creed." Victor blinked then released his grip, letting Sylvia fall to the floor. She held her throat, choking as the air began to flow again. "Let me handle the doctor, sir."
Victor nodded and walked out of the room, picking glass from his shoulder. Larry helped Sylvia back on the bed. "Are you all right?"
"Am I all right?" Sylvia asked. She coughed. "That…that…maniac almost killed me!"
Larry nodded. "I know. He does that. You shouldn't make him mad. He can't control it."
Sylvia rubbed her throat again. She flinched when she looked at her hand and saw blood. "What did he cut me with?"
"Mr. Creed has claws," Larry said. "And fangs." He went into the small bathroom adjacent to the room and came back with a first aid kit. "Here. Let me fix that."
Sylvia wasn't sure why she trusted the man. He looked like he should be the assistant of a mad scientist. Maybe it was his demeanor. He was the calmest person she'd ever met. She bared her neck to him, and he cleaned and dressed the wound. "Thank you," she said.
"Victor doesn't really want to hurt you," Larry said, trying to explain his boss as best as he could. "He just needs help."
Sylvia rolled her eyes. "That's obvious."
Larry smirked. "He has a daughter—Victoria. She's a great kid, and the light of Mr. Creed's life, but she won't talk to him anymore. See, he's an assassin, and well, she thought he gave it up, but he didn't. When she found out, she cut him out of her life completely. He wants to take care of his blood lust so he'll have the chance at earning her forgiveness."
"Why would a man like that even attempt to be a decent father?"
"Because his father locked him up in the basement and pulled his teeth out with pliers."
Sylvia raised her eyebrows. "Oh."
"So will you help him?"
Sylvia sighed. "Only if he lets me go. I'm not doing anything for him as long as he insists on keeping me here under duress."
"Mr. Creed isn't going to like that," Larry said.
"Well then Mr. Creed can continue living with a daughter that hates him."
Larry could tell this one was about as stubborn as his boss. "I'll talk to him," he said, even though he had a feeling it wasn't going to do any good.
Larry nodded then went to find Victor. Once again he found himself asking why he bothered to keep this job.
*** *** ***
"She wants what!"
Larry has long since learned to withstand the full force of Victor's yells without shaking. "She wants to go home, sir. I don't think it's an unreasonable request."
"No! She's my one chance at getting Vicky back. I'm not lettin' her go."
"Um, sir, if you don't mind me saying so, I think you're being a little unreasonable here."
"I don't pay you for your opinion!"
"I know, sir, but I just don't think she's going to be too willing to help you if you keep her locked up like that."
"Well, I'm not…" Victor stopped short when alarms began to sound. "What the hell…" He ran to the large bay window in time to see Sylvia running across the lawn in an attempt to escape. "FUCK!" Victor screamed, running for the front door. Larry tried to call out a protest, but it fell on deaf ears.
Sylvia ran as fast as she could, but Victor Creed was a predator, and she was his prey. He caught her, struggling against her weak attempts to stop him with her telekinesis. Finally, she slumped against him, the fight too much for her. He carried her limp body back into the house.
"Can it, Larry."
Victor brought Sylvia back up to her room.
*** *** ***
When Sylvia woke up again, she found herself not only wearing an inhibitor collar, but she was chained to the bed. She screamed at the top of her lungs, any rational thought long since exiting her mind. She just wanted out of this man's house, and she wanted her life back.
A blonde woman who Sylvia thought looked like she must be trying to smuggle balloons in her shirt came in with a tray of food. "Larry said you might like to eat."
Sylvia wondered if this woman was Victor Creed's girlfriend. She looked like she would probably be his type. "Who are you?" Sylvia asked.
"Heidi," the woman replied. "I live with Larry. Do me a favor and don't tell Creed I speak English, okay?"
So this was Larry's girlfriend. Sylvia was surprised by that. She couldn't help by smirk a little at the last part of the woman's statement. "All right."
"I can't unchain you. Larry's afraid you'll run again and Creed with really snap then. So can I feed you?"
Sylvia has a sudden fear that whatever Heidi was offering her was less than safe to eat, but she was starving. She had no idea how long it had been since she last ate. "I…I guess."
Heidi smiled. "Good. You like turkey sandwiches?"
Heidi proceeded to feed Sylvia, who decided this had to be just about the weirdest experience of her life. "You know, you should help Creed," Heidi said as she put a chip in Sylvia's mouth. "You'd be doing the world a favor."
Sylvia chewed and swallowed. "Why?"
"He's a homicidal maniac," Heidi stated, as simply as if she'd been discussing the weather. "He kills for fun. He has an insane blood lust. You should see the Trophy Room. He has human heads mounted the way some people do antlers."
Sylvia suddenly lost any appetite she had. Just what sort of man was she dealing with here? "Human heads?"
Heidi nodded cheerfully. "The kills he's most proud of."
More cheerful nods. "Yep. So are you still hungry?"
"Um, no. Thanks."
"Okay. So are you going to help Creed?"
"I…I don't know."
"You should. Unless you want to be added to the body count, that is." Heidi smiled as she stood up with the tray of food. "It was nice meeting you."
When she left, Sylvia was seriously considering changing her position on helping Victor Creed as she realized her very survival might depend on it.
When Larry came in to check on her later, she told him to tell Victor she agreed.
*** *** ***
"You try anything when I take this collar off, and I'll rip ya in half, frail."
Sylvia nodded as much as the bulky device allowed her to. "I know." She felt a great sense of relief when Victor took it off her neck. She hated being so cut off from her powers. It was like being suddenly blind and deaf.
Victor sat in a chair across from her. "All right, doc. What do you have to do?"
"I'm going to have to go into your mind, find the root of your, um, blood lust."
"And then I'll be fine?"
"Not immediately. This may take a few sessions, Mr. Creed. Real psychological damage can take years to repair."
"You're not leavin' until I don't want to kill anymore."
Sylvia took a deep breath, steeling herself against what she was sure wasn't going to be pretty. She placed her hands on either side of Victor's face and slipped into his mind, tentatively. She was immediately hit by a wall, full of anger, hate, pain. She heard screaming and didn't even realize it was her until she felt Creed shaking her.
"What did you find?" he asked.
Hot tears stung Sylvia's face. "You…you…you have to let down that wall. You have to let me in."
"I don't let people in," Victor snapped.
"Then I can't help you."
Victor looked at her for a moment. He didn't trust people, least of all this woman. But he wanted his daughter back. Was it worth it?
"I'll do what I can."
Sylvia put her hands back on his face, his stubble scraping her palms. "Relax, Mr. Creed."
"My name is Victor."
"Then relax, Victor."
The wall was still there, but not as strong. Sylvia was able to slip past it. Victor's mind was what she'd expected it to be—dark and bloodstained. She could see she had her work cut out for her. She looked around, trying to find something, anything that could give her hope.
There was one thing, manifesting itself as a small ball of light beside her feet. She picked it up and looked inside, seeing the image of Victor playing with a small, blonde girl she knew had to be his daughter. She heard him laughing with her, and the overwhelming sense of happiness she felt from Victor at the thought of his child threatened to be too much for her. She knew then why he was so desperate not to lose her. She was the one thing in his life that kept him sane.
Sylvia slowly left Victor's mind. "I don't think I can handle anymore today," she said.
"Why the hell not?" Victor snapped. "I want to get this whole thing over with.
"Because going into someone's mind takes a lot out of me," Sylvia said. "I'm tired. I won't be any help to you like this."
"Fine. Go to sleep. But I expect more tomorrow."
"You won't get anymore if you make me sleep in those chains," Sylvia said. "I didn't get any sleep last night."
"How do I know you won't run?"
"You have my word."
Victor crossed his arms over his chest. "That ain't good enough, girlie."
"Then you won't get much out of me."
Victor sighed. "Fine, no chains. But you run, and I will hunt you down and kill you."
After seeing his mind, Sylvia didn't doubt him one bit. She nodded. Victor took her by the arm, led her back to her room, and locked her in. Sylvia sat down on the bed and cried.
*** *** ***
"Relax, Victor." Sylvia said at the beginning of their session the following morning.
"I am relaxed, dammit."
"No, you're tense. If you're going to let me do this, you're going to have to relax."
"Easy for you to say," Victor snapped. "You're not about to have someone pokin' around in yer head."
Sylvia sighed. "You're the one who wants me to do this. After some of the things I saw yesterday, your mind is not exactly a place I want to go."
Victor tried to relax, although something about Dr. Sylvia Masters made him constantly tense. He blamed it on the fact she was a telepath. Aside from Birdy, they'd always made him nervous. Sylvia slipped back into his mind, trying to find the same place she'd been the day before. If she could start out from the one place in Victor's mind that wasn't dripping with blood, maybe she could stand to be there for an extended period of time.
Sylvia left a mental touchstone in the part of Victor's mind where he kept him love for his daughter, ensuring that if things got too rough for her further on, she could find her way back. Sylvia took a deep breath, and headed towards the darkest recesses of Victor Creed's mind, hoping to find answers.
Out of all the minds Sylvia had entered, Victor's was the only one in which she had to constantly remind herself that she was not in a real place, simply a manifestation of a man's thoughts and memories. His acute senses made his memories amazingly crisp and clear, with horrific sounds and smells bombarding her at every turn. She saw death everywhere she looked, saw the tortures Victor Creed had inflicted on his victims. She took a breath, but kept going. The sooner she could find a way to help him, the sooner she could leave. And if she couldn't…Sylvia didn't want to think of that possibility.
The intense hurt and pain that was bombarding her grew stronger and the amount of rage began to diminish. Sylvia knew she was near the center of his torment. She let out a cry of frustration when she suddenly ran into a wall. He couldn't keep her out now, not when she'd walked through a river of blood to get here. She closed her eyes. *Victor, let me in.* A small door formed in the wall, just long enough to let her pass, closing as soon as she was through.
Sylvia stared in surprise at what she found at the root of all his pain. Rabbits. Hundreds of them, hopping through a dark, cold cellar. "Is this what all Victor's bloodlust stems from?" Sylvia thought. "An unnatural fear of rabbits?" She tried to move further but couldn't. The rabbits were everywhere, surrounding her with pristine white fur. She noticed one in a far corner suddenly begin to turn red, as if dripping with blood. The blood spread then, moving over the sea of white, coming towards Sylvia. She threw her arms over her face in defense, screaming.
When she opened her eyes again, she was sitting across from Victor. He was breathing heavy, and his pupils had grown to the point that Sylvia could almost no longer see the green of his eyes. "What…what did you see?" Victor asked.
"Rabbits," Sylvia replied. "Thousands of rabbits. I need to go back, Victor. I was making some headway, but…"
Victor looked away from her. "I don't want you in there anymore today," Victor snapped.
"Victor, I can't help you if you shut me out."
He just looked at her, before getting up and leaving, slamming the door behind him.
Sylvia remembered all she'd seen and shuttered.
*** *** ***
Sylvia looked up when she head someone knock on her door. She was relieved to know it wouldn't be Victor on the other side. He never bothered with simple courtesies such as knocking. "Come in!" she called out.
Larry came in a second later, carrying some bags. "I bought you some clothes," he said. "I hope they fit. I had to guess at your sizes. I figured you were tired of wearing the same outfit all the time. I would've brought you something earlier, but Heidi doesn't wear things I thought you'd be comfortable in, and Victoria's clothes would be way too big. She's tall—like her father."
Sylvia nodded, remembering the image she'd seen of Victoria in Victor's mind. The girl definitely bore a striking resemblance to her father. "Thank you," she said, taking the bags from Larry. "That was very kind of you."
"It was the least I could do, seeing as Mr. Creed has you locked up in here and all," Larry said. "If you need anything, just ask either me or Heidi. We'll take care of you the best we can."
"Thank you. Can I ask you a question?"
"What happened between Victor and his daughter?"
Larry sighed. "It's a lot. Mind if I have a seat?"
"No, go right ahead."
Larry sat across from her in the same chair Victor had been in earlier. "I might as well give you some background. Mr. Creed may not like me telling you, but I think since you're here to help him with Vicky, it's best you know. Victoria was the product of a one-night stand with a woman Victor had known—and been on less than friendly terms with—for quite some time. She was the ex-fiancée of his mortal enemy, and when she came on to him, well, I guess he couldn't turn her down. About a year later, she showed up at his doorstep with an infant—Victoria. She hadn't even named the girl, and it was obvious she didn't want anything to do with her. Victor and I raised her. He'd had a son before, Graydon, who he'd never known about, and who ended up being less than sane."
Sylvia started a little at that. The Friends of Humanity had been before her time, but she'd heard the name Graydon Creed. "That was his son?"
"Yeah. Apparently Graydon had a less that bright childhood. Victor remembered his own, and he told me once that as much as he hated Graydon, the fact that the man had suffered as a child tore him up inside. When Victoria came along, he saw her as his second chance. He would've done almost anything for her, giving her all he could to allow her to have a good life.
"But he couldn't control the blood lusts. He kept killing, until it reached a point when Victoria was about ten, and a job went bad. He almost died, and it was all he could do to drag himself into the house. He collapsed in front of the door in a pool of his own blood. He'd been gone for several days, and when Vicky heard him come in, I couldn't stop her from running downstairs. When I found them, she was beside him, holding his head in her lap and begging her daddy not to die. After than, she made him promise to stop going out like that, to stop putting himself in danger. She was always such a strong child, but the thought of losing her father tore her up inside.
"To his credit, Mr. Creed did try to stop. I remember the night he snapped. It had been only been a month since his last killing, but it was already too much for him. He came in, the blood still on his hands, and he looked at me, helplessness reflected in his eyes. He told me he just couldn't stop it, even when he tried, he just couldn't stop it. He'd go through periods where he tried to keep the beast at bay for Victoria, but he never could. And I, well, I lied to her, too." Larry hung his head in shame. "I didn't want her to know what her father really was. She worshipped him. I couldn't let that sweet little girl know the truth.
"It wasn't until recently, though, that Victoria learned from a friend of hers in New York that her father had never stopped. Victor's enemy—the man who had almost married Victoria's mother—had a daughter. A few years ago, when that girl was thirteen, Victor kidnapped her, and did things to the child I can't even bring myself to speak of. Victoria found out, and she called me, demanding to know the truth about her father. I couldn't lie to her anymore, and I told her that Victor had never stopped killing. She's refused to talk to him ever since." Larry let out a deep breath as he finished his story.
Sylvia pushed her hair away from her forehead. "Almost makes you feel sorry for the guy," she said softly.
"His body count is astronomical," Larry said. "Victor's an old man. He'd had decades to kill."
"Old?" Sylvia asked. "He didn't look like he could've been any older than his late thirties—possibly early forties if he's really taken care of himself."
Larry shook his head. "Mr. Creed's mutant ability is what's known as a healing factor. Vicky has one, too. He can recover from almost any injury at an alarming rate, and it's also retarded his aging. He's most likely over a hundred years old."
Sylvia's eyes grew wide. How many people could this man have killed in that many years? From what she'd seen in his mind, probably enough to populate a small country. Several times over. "I'm not even sure if I can help him," Sylvia said softly. "I'm a psychiatrist, not a miracle worker. I've never seen so much psychological damage in one individual. I guess his age has a lot to do with that. It's had time to accumulate."
"I won't let him hurt you," Larry said, his face the picture of grim determination. "No matter what happens, I would let him hurt you. You're a good person. You don't deserve to become another victim of Sabretooth's rage."
Larry nodded. "Nickname, codename, whatever you want to call it. It's what Victor's known as."
"I remember hearing about Sabretooth," Sylvia said. "A couple years ago, he tried to start a new version of Magneto's old Brotherhood of Mutants, and caused a lot of destruction in New York City."
"That wasn't really him," Larry said. "We don't know who it was, but it wasn't Victor. He was here. Besides, that person died, and as you can clearly see, Mr. Creed is very much alive and kicking."
Sylvia nodded her agreement as she ran her fingers over the bandage on her neck. She gave thanks for at least the hundredth time that Victor hadn't insisted on putting that collar back on her. Coupled with the cuts on her neck that his talons had left, the pain had been almost unbearable. "Larry, can you answer one more thing for me?"
"I can try."
"What happened with Victor and rabbits?"
"In his mind, I saw rabbits."
"You're going to have to ask Mr. Creed about that one. He's never talked about rabbits before."
"I did ask me. He wouldn't tell me."
"Yeah, he's like that," Larry replied. "Mr. Creed has a lot of things he'd rather keep to himself."
"Then how does he expect me to help him? I'm his psychiatrist—more or less—he can't keep important things from me. It impedes our progress. Why can't I make him realize that?"
"Lady, in case you haven't realized, the man's insane. Logic isn't going to do you a damn bit of good."
Sylvia shrugged. Larry had a point there. "So what am I supposed to do?"
"You're the doctor."
Sylvia rested her chin in her hands. "I have my work cut out for me, don't I?"
"Yeah, I'm afraid you do." Larry stood up. "I hate to leave you like this, but I promised Heidi I'd help her with some things. Are you going to be okay?"
"I'll be fine," Sylvia replied. "Thanks again for the clothes."
"It was my pleasure. Hang in there, Dr. Masters. Everything will go back to normal in your life soon enough."
Sylvia just nodded. Despite Larry's optimism, she doubted anything would be "normal" in her life ever again.
*** *** ***
In their next session, Sylvia decided to get right to the point with Victor. She looked him straight in the eye, although she had to strain to do so even with them both seated. "I need you to tell me about the rabbits."
Victor looked surprised for a moment before his eyes hardened again. "I don't know anything about any goddamn rabbits."
"Victor, I saw rabbits in your mind—at the center of your pain. I think there must have been something traumatic in your past dealing with rabbits. If you can't remember it, Victor, just try to think. I need you to tell me about it."
Victor's eyes narrowed. "Ain't ya ever heard the song, girlie? You keep chasin' rabbits, yer gonna fall."
Sylvia narrowed her eyes right back. "You said you wanted help, Creed. Either you tell me about the rabbits, or I can't do a damn thing for you, and Victoria's going to hate you forever."
Victor was too startled by her reaction to snap. Since when did frail looking women try to stand up to him like that. She almost reminded him of Birdy. Almost. She wasn't mouthy. More stubborn. He liked that. But he didn't want to tell her about the rabbits.
"Can't ya go fer somethin' other than the damn rabbit?" he asked.
Sylvia decided to give in for now, and try to get some sort of other information out of him. She'd ask more about the rabbits later. "Can you tell me about your parents?"
Victor's nostrils flared. "They're dead."
Sylvia could tell he didn't want to talk about that subject anymore—which told her she was going in the right direction. "Did you kill them, Victor?"
She expected some anger on his part. She didn't expect him to stand up, pick up his chair, and fling it across the room. "What is it about you people!" he screamed. "Why do you always want me to talk about that, huh? Do ya want to see me break? Do ya think you can get me to cry about how daddy never loved me? My father doesn't count for a flyin' fuck in my life!"
Sylvia wasn't sure how she managed to keep her cool. "Victor, why don't you calm down, all right? You have me here in order to talk to you, to try to make you better. One of the ways to do that is for you to tell me what's causing you all this pain so I can make you not hurt anymore."
Victor glared at Sylvia, his massive chest heaving with his labored breaths. "I'm not in pain, lady."
"Victor, come on. You're talking to a woman who's been inside your mind. I know what sort of pain lurks there." She thought about what Larry had told her when she first arrived about Victor's father. "Did your father hurt you?"
"Yeah, he hurt me," he said, his words angry. "Man wanted to get the devil outta me. Wanted to get the devil outta my mother, too, since he said she'd put it there in the first place with her 'wanton ways.' Beat her, beat me. I killed him to get away. You happy now?"
"I don't want to hear about the cruel things your father did to you because it makes me happy, Victor. I want to hear them because I want to help you."
"You want to help yourself," Victor said, his gaze sizing her up as if she were prey. "Don't think I've forgotten that, girlie. You're only still here because I'm keepin' ya here. You don't give a damn about me."
Sylvia refused to let him intimidate her. "Me and the rest of the world Victor," she spat. "You're a sadistic bastard. But it seems as if we both want something from each other—I want you to release me, you want me to tell you how to control your blood lust. As long as you keep acting like this, neither one of us is going to come out on top. So just sit down and let me do my job."
Sylvia was surprised when Victor actually sat down on the edge of the bed. "Fine. What do you want to know?"
"I want to know about the rabbits."
"I don't wanna talk about the rabbits."
"Well, I don't want to sit here with you, but we can't always have what we want now can we? Tell me about the rabbits, Victor."
Victor stared down at his hands. "The first thing I ever killed was a rabbit."
Sylvia kept an impassive look on her face, but inside she was grinning like an idiot. She was finally getting somewhere with him! "What happened?"
Victor shifted uncomfortably. "Ain't that enough fer ya, doc?"
"No. I need to know more or I can't help you."
"And I'm the sadistic one?" He gave a sort of nervous laugh, and Sylvia felt a whole new wave of fear wash over her. A frightened predator was never a good thing.
"This isn't to hurt you. It's to help you."
"I…I don't know where the rabbit came from," Victor said, studying his hands again. "It was in the cellar with me. It was white. Everything around me was dirty, but it was white. It was my only friend… My father, he didn't feed me for a week once, and my mother hadn't been able to sneak me food either. I was hungry…I killed the rabbit. It wasn't white anymore. There was blood everywhere…it was red, I was red. I knew I should've been horrified by what I did, but I wasn't. I liked killing. I found a way free, and I killed my father. It was uncontrollable then—the blood lust. I…I killed my mother, too. I just couldn't stop. She was nice to me; she was like the rabbit. But I killed her, too."
Sylvia couldn't help but reach out and lay her hand over his. He jerked away, as if her touch had scalded her. "I don't need pity," he growled angrily, getting off the bed.
"Victor, don't leave, please. We can make a breakthrough if you'd just stay."
"I'll see ya tomorrow, doc," Victor replied, leaving the room with his usual door slam.
Sylvia climbed up on the bed, hugging her knees to her chin and wondering if she was ever going to be able to teach a man like that any self-control at all.
*** *** ***
"And in other news, famed mutant psychiatrist Dr. Sylvia Masters is still missing after disappearing from her Seattle apartment a week ago. Police have not yet been able to recover any clues as to her whereabouts, although they do suspect foul play was involved. Police chief…"
"Heidi, could ya turn that crap off?" Victor snapped. The last thing he wanted to hear was a police report concerning that damn doctor. Heidi turned around, staring blankly. "Right," Victor grumbled, "No English." He walked over to the television and smashed his hand through the screen just as it flashed a picture of Sylvia. Heidi's eyes grew wide and she ran from the room. "Guess she understood that," Victor mumbled.
He was starting to regret taking Sylvia in the first place. She certainly hadn't stopped his blood lust. If anything, he was more in the mood to kill something than before when she'd come in to his life.
Victor went into the kitchen and picked up the phone, dialing a number from memory. He wasn't surprised when the voicemail message began, although he doubted the phone had actually been off. Thanks to caller ID, she'd successfully been able to avoid answering his calls. He left a message anyway.
"Victoria, it's your dad. Look, I know you're mad, but I just want to talk. Please, kid, give me a call." Victor put the phone back on the receiver and leaned his head against the wall. This was the first time in his life he'd ever felt any guilt, any need to atone for his sins. Victoria had been the only joy in his life for as long as he could remember, and he'd destroyed it all. He wanted to stop, longed for a way to stop the killing, to make his daughter proud of him again, but he couldn't.
Victor left the house, knowing he was doing something he'd regret in the morning.
*** *** ***
Sylvia was going stir-crazy in the room Victor had imprisoned her in. She'd been in there for a week and a half, and she'd gotten nowhere with Victor. She knew his problems stemmed from what his father had done to him, but she couldn't get him to stick around long enough to do anything about it. She'd tried entering his mind several more times, but all it did was give her nightmares.
She knew he was still killing, and the last few hadn't even been contracts—just people unlucky enough to be in his way in the state he was in. She felt helpless.
Victor busted into her room at the same time he did everyday. This time he was different, though—somehow more wild. Usually he didn't get that look in his eye until well into their session. He walked over to Sylvia, grabbing her by her arms and lifting her off the floor so he could look at her face to face. "I need ya to do more than yer doin', doc. Yer makin' me worse, not better."
Sylvia resented being blamed for his continuing psychotic behavior when she was doing the best job she could under the conditions she was placed. "You're the one who isn't letting me help you, Victor."
Victor shook her like a rag doll. "Yer a 'path," he said, almost accusatorily. "I know you can do more. Do somethin' to my brain, girlie. Just make it go away, at least for a little while."
Sylvia had been in his mind enough times to know what he was referring to. "Victor, I can't do that. I'm not Birdy."
At the mention of his old assistant's name, Victor bellowed, tossing Sylvia on the bed. "Just fix me, dammit!" he hollered. "I'm sick of your psychological shit and all your fucking questions. All they've done is made me want to kill even more!"
Sylvia jumped off the bed, poking her finger angrily at Victor. "Don't you even start blamin' me!" she yelled. "I haven't done a damn thing but try t'help you, you goddamn motherfucker!"
Victor stepped back a few inches in surprise. Since when did she have a Southern accent? He shook his head. "Well you ain't helpin' me, bitch! Yer just makin' me remember what made me this way in the first place!"
"So that's your answer, huh?" Sylvia snapped. "Blame Daddy. Well guess what, Victor, this ain't your father's problem—it's yours. I don't give a damn about what he did to ya. A lot of people were abused. They don't all become psycho killers! You're the only person who makes you kill, Sabretooth. It's all you. And you're never gonna be able to control it."
Victor roared in a blind rage, lunging for Sylvia. She stood panicked, like a deer about to be pounced by a wildcat. Victor grabbed her, and she saw death coming. She knew she should fight back, but she didn't. She'd known it was going to end like this. Might as well be sooner than later. She held her head high, refusing to show fear.
Suddenly, Victor stopped, his grip on her loosening slightly. His nostrils flared as if he was catching a change in her scent. Sylvia let out a little squeak as his lips descended on hers in a violent fury. It didn't take long for her to start kissing back.
Victor threw her on the bed, then joined her, ripping her clothes off with his talons. A fleeting thought went through Sylvia's head that she should probably try to resist him, but she didn't want to. She tangled her fingers in his blond mane and pulled his mouth to hers in a bruising kiss.
*** *** ***
Sylvia looked beside her at Victor, who was making a sound deep in his throat that she could only describe as a purr. "Well doesn't he look like the cat who ate the canary?" She blushed at the thought.
Victor turned to look at her, all the rage gone from his dark green eyes. He stroked her face gently with one finger and she shuddered, realizing how easily this man could kill her, with her laying so exposed to him. Instead of running, she moved closer.
Victor wrapped her in his arms, kissing the top of her hair. He chuckled to himself remembering how when he'd first seen her on Oprah, he'd thought she'd looked like a bad lay. How wrong he'd been…
Sylvia looked up, her brow knitted. "What's so funny?"
Victor placed a kiss on her forehead. "Nothin', Sylvie."
Sylvia sighed contentedly, realizing that was the first time he'd ever called her anything resembling her name. She thought over the events of the past few hours and couldn't help but shiver. Who would've thought a man like that could've been so incredibly gentle?
"Where are you from?" Victor asked.
Sylvia frowned. "Why do you ask?"
"Because when you were yellin' at me, you started talkin' with an accent."
Sylvia blushed. "I…I do that. When I'm really angry. Or drunk."
Victor chuckled again, and she could feel the sound vibrating through her body. She trembled. "So where are you from?"
Victor laughed in earnest then, and Sylvia flinched. "Don't tell me you grew up in a trailer, too."
Sylvia moved away from him, and Victor didn't miss the flash of pain in her blue eyes. "So what if I did?"
Another piece of the puzzle that was Sylvia Masters fell in place for Victor. "You had a shitty childhood, didn't ya?'
She looked away. "It wasn't as bad as yours."
"Tell me about it, Sylvia. I want to know."
"I don't want to."
Victor frowned. "I didn't want to tell you about mine, but I did."
"I'm not the patient." Victor started to get out of the bed, and Sylvia felt a sudden wave of panic. She didn't want to be alone. She grabbed his wrist. "No…stay. I'll tell you."
Victor got back on the bed, near her, but not touching her. "What happened?"
"My father left when I was five. He said he was tired of dealing with my mother. I think he ran off with another woman, but I was never sure. He left my mother with me and my two-year-old brother, Jimi. My mother, she was never quite right. Hell, she named her children after famous dead people. Anyway, she was constantly drunk, and there was a steady stream of men, most of which saw me as theirs to do with what they wished. As soon as I turned eighteen, I got out of there, working my way through college and grad school, desperate to make it in the world."
"Where's your family now?" Victor asked.
"Still in Alabama. My mother's sick. I…I found out the day before you took me that she's dying."
Victor was surprised by the tears in her eyes. "You care about that? Ain't ya glad she's dyin'?"
Sylvia looked appalled by the thought. "She's my mother, Victor, I couldn't…" She stopped when she remember who she was talking to.
Victor felt a sense of shame roll through him. "Yeah…"
"Victor, I didn't mean…"
"I know." He kissed her softly. "I know." He rolled back on top of her, not wanting to talk anymore.
*** *** ***
It was several hours before Sylvia and Victor managed to get out of the bed, and get showered and dressed. Victor started for the door, and Sylvia felt her heart sink. She cursed herself for thinking that sleeping with him was going to change anything.
Victor stopped in the doorway, giving her a puzzled look. "Aren't you comin', doc?"
"What, do you want to stay locked up in here?"
"Then come on. I'm hungry, and I bet you are, too."
Sylvia went to him, and he wrapped an arm around her in an almost-possessive gesture. She smiled to herself as they walked to the kitchen.
*** *** ***
Victor's house was much larger that Sylvia had expected. She tried not to stare, but it was the most fascinating place she'd ever seen. She decided it fit the man who owned it.
"Like it, girlie?" Victor asked when he noticed her surveying his things.
Sylvia nodded. "You have a nice house, Victor."
Victor grinned. "Yer just sayin' that because you haven't see the trophy room."
Sylvia shuddered a little when she remembered what Larry had told her what the "trophy room" held. After the past few hours, she'd almost forgotten that this man was a homicidal maniac.
"You can leave that room if ya want from now on," Victor said. "Unless you try to leave the house. If I catch ya pullin' an escape attempt again, I'm chainin' ya back up."
"I won't try to go anywhere, Victor," Sylvia promised. It surprised her when she realized she didn't really want to leave.
"Don't try seekin' me out either," Victor said. "If I want to see ya, I'll find ya myself. I don't like clingy women."
Sylvia just nodded. She'd figured as much with Victor.
The kitchen was large enough to fit in with the rest of the house. The refrigerator was absolutely enormous. Victor noticed Sylvia looking at it. "Don't worry, girlie," he said with a grin. "That ain't were I keep the bodies."
Sylvia shivered a little. She didn't like being reminded that Victor was a cold-blooded killer—not now.
Larry came into the kitchen, but stopped short. "Dr. Masters?"
"Yeah, I let her out," Victor said. "Brought her down here to feed her. Anything decent in the fridge."
"Leftovers," Larry replied. "Heidi's at the store now, actually."
Victor shrugged. "That'll do." He pointed to the table. "Have a seat, doc. I'll heat ya somethin' up."
"Um, sir, can I talk to you for a moment? In the other room?" Larry asked.
Victor nodded, then looked over at Sylvia. "Don't go anywhere." He went with Larry. "What?"
"What's going on? Yesterday you were fully bent on not letting her leave the bedroom. What changed?"
"I fucked her," Victor said with a shrug.
Larry's eyes grew wide. "You what?"
"Fucked her. Probably gonna do it again, too. She wasn't too bad."
"Mr. Creed, sir, you shouldn't be doing that," Larry said. "The situation with her is volatile enough as it is. Adding sex to the mix…"
Victor narrowed his eyes. "I do what I want, Larry, and I want to screw Sylvia. She's sorta pretty when she lets her hair down a little."
"I think you're making a huge mistake, sir."
"I don't care what you think, Larry."
"So I've noticed. Look, I just don't want this to turn into another Birdy. Glow or not, that woman was nothing but trouble for you, sir."
"She ain't Birdy. And she's not givin' me any sorta 'glow.'" Victor grinned. "Well, maybe one kind…"
"Just be careful, sir."
"I'm always careful, Larry. It's what's kept me alive so long." Victor went back into the kitchen, and Larry watched him go.
"No, Victor," he said, almost inaudibly, "What's kept you alive is dumb luck."
*** *** ***
Victor glared at the clock beside his bed. He should've been asleep hours ago, when he'd gone to bed. There was no reason in the world for him to be awake. He frowned. He'd been thinking about Sylvia nonstop since she'd gone to her own room earlier in the night, and he realized he wasn't going to fall asleep until she was there with him. Part of him rebelled against that. He didn't like women getting used to sleeping in his bed. Encroached on his territory too much.
But he pushed that out of his mind. He wanted Sylvia and that was that. If she slept there with him, it was on his terms. He wouldn't loose the upper hand.
Victor went down to her room, frowning when he saw her fast asleep. Apparently she wasn't having the same problem he was. He picked her up, and she stirred a little, but didn't wake. He carried her back to his own room, setting her in the bed beside him and pulling the covers over her. Victor pushed her hair away from her face. She was a lot prettier than he'd originally thought. Her skin looked almost flawless, like a porcelain doll.
Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked up at Victor, her brows furrowed. "Victor?" she asked softly.
"Yeah. I brought you to my room. Go back to sleep, Sylvie."
Sylvia nodded, her eyes closing again. Victor rolled over and immediately fell asleep himself, a fact that would disturb him later when he really thought about it.
*** *** ***
Somehow, Sylvia had migrated during the night to wrap her body around Victor. His first instinct was to throw her off, but he decided to let her stay. He didn't want to wake her. She looked so peaceful in his arms. He just wanted to hold her.
Victor frowned. While he still found her undeniably attractive, he didn't particularly feel the need to ravish her at the moment. Yet at the same time, he didn't want her to leave. He wanted to lay there with Sylvia snuggled up next to him.
Victor's eyes grew wide. Did the word snuggle just enter his mind? Victor Creed did not snuggle. Ever. He tried to push her off him, and Sylvia whimpered in her sleep. She frowned, shivering a little. Victor sighed, deciding he couldn't let her be cold. He took her back in his arms and pulled a blanket over them. With Sylvia nestled at his side, Victor found the most peaceful sleep he'd had since before he could remember.
*** *** ***
Sylvia woke to the sight of a massive chest covered in pale blond hairs. She smiled. Victor had brought her to him in the night. He'd actually wanted her there, and not just to make love to her. Sylvia's heart leapt a little. Could he finally be opening up to her?
She looked up to see Victor watching her. She couldn't help but blush under his gaze. "Been wonderin' when you'd wake up, doc." Sylvia could feel his deep voice rumble through his chest, and it made her tremble.
"Good morning, Victor," she said, trying to keep her voice from quivering with the rest of her.
Victor smirked at her. "Mornin', Sylvie."
Sylvia smiled. She liked it when Victor actually used something resembling her name. Victor took a deep breath. Apparently whatever it was the night before that made him want to just lay next to her without actually touching her was long gone. He was quite aware of the way she was pressed up against him.
And he was beginning to make his presence known to Sylvia as well. She grinned at him before disappearing under the covers. Victor was about to ask her what she was doing before he got his answer and groaned loudly.
He propped his hands up behind his head and let Sylvia work. He could get used to this whole "waking up next to a woman" thing…
*** *** ***
It was several hours later before Victor and Sylvia managed to make it out of the bed. And quite a while after that before they actually got dressed and left the room. They got as far as the kitchen before Victor decided he wanted to touch her again. He growled, pouncing on a laughing Sylvia and carrying her to the kitchen counter. He set her down, kissing her all over her face and neck. Suddenly he stopped. They weren't alone, and he didn't know that scent. Victor kept an arm on Sylvia, feeling protective towards her, as he looked behind him to see who was there.
Victor stopped short. Since when were there children in his house? He opened his mouth to ask her who she was when Larry came into the room, taking the girl by her arm.
"No, no, sweetie," Larry said, guiding her towards the door. "You're not supposed to be in here."
"No leave, Uncle Larry!" the girl yelled in a high-pitched Swedish accent. Victor scratched his head. Did Heidi have kids he'd never noticed?
"Your grandfather is looking for you," Larry said, trying to prod the child.
A moment later, a very short, very round man came in behind Larry and the girl. Victor's nose wrinkled. Did he smell sardines?
"Larry!" the man said, his accent similar to the child's. "You found her, I see!"
"Yeah, here she is."
The man looked at Victor. "Who is this person?" he asked. "He's as little as you, Larry."
Victor raised an eyebrow. He was not little, nor was he anywhere near Larry's size. "I'm Victor Creed," Victor replied. "And this is my house. Who the hell are you?"
Larry stood between Victor and the round man. "This is Heidi's great-uncle, Sven. He came to visit, along with his wife, their daughter, and her children."
"He what?" Victor asked.
"Sven, why don't you take the girl up to her mother," Larry suggested. "I need to talk to Mr. Creed."
Sven nodded. "I will do that, Larry. It was good to meet you, little man."
Victor did not like being called "little man." "What the fuck are they doin' here, Larry?" he growled as soon as Sven and the girl were gone.
"I'm just as surprised as you are, sir," Larry replied. "Heidi promised me they'd only be here a few days. And I'll keep them out of your part of the house. This won't happen again, sir."
"It better not," Victor replied, surprised at himself for not ordering Larry to get rid of Heidi's family before he took on the task himself… He wondered for a split second if it was Sylvia's influence.
"It won't, Mr. Creed," Larry said, knowing he was lucky to be getting away with this one. He turned and hurried out of the room.
"Was it just me, or does Sven smell like sardines?"
Victor laughed out loud at Sylvia's comment. He looked down at her, still perched on the counter top, her brown hair falling all around her. How could he have ever thought she was plain? He took her by her hand and helped her down. "C'mon. Let's find something to eat."
Sylvia smiled and went with him to the refrigerator.
*** *** ***
Victor couldn't help but stare at the man who was sitting on his couch. Great-uncle Sven… What had happened to Larry's promise of keeping Sven with him and Heidi? For once, Victor wished his senses weren't heightened. The smell was bad enough normally on Sven, but when we was actually sitting there eating sardines… Victor shuddered. Straight out of the little tin, too.
Sven looked up at Victor. "Would you like one, tiny man?" he asked, gesturing to the metal container of fish.
"Um, no," Victor replied.
Sven shrugged and went back to his sardines. "You should watch the television with me. It is quite good."
"What are you watching?" Victor asked, although he was pretty sure he didn't want to know.
"Little people…fighting…in wet dirt."
"Midget mud wrestling," Victor muttered. "No thanks, Sven. I'll pass on that one."
"Then you miss a good show, little man."
"LARRY!" Victor yelled, stalking out of the room. "Larry, where the hell are ya?"
Heidi came in the room. "Larry…not…here," she said. She smiled at Victor.
Victor growled. "Where'd he go, blondie?"
Heidi looked confused.
"Goddammit…" Victor stalked up to his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. He felt a small pang of regret when he remembered a split second too late that Sylvia was still in bed. He figured she probably needed sleep…
She sat up groggily. "Victor?"
"Yeah, Sylvie. Go back to sleep."
"You all right?"
"Yeah, except my house is full of Heidi's goddamn family." He roared, slamming his fist into the door. "If Larry hadn't done so much for me over the years…"
"They'll be gone soon, Vic. Then everything will be the same again."
"I don't like people here that don't belong here. I want my life my way."
"That's perfectly understandable, Victor. You need to be in control, and with Heidi's family here, you feel like you've lost that control, and that bothers you."
"Don't fucking do that!" Victor growled.
Sylvia's eyes grew a little wider in surprised. "Don't…don't do what."
"Give me that psychobabble shit. This ain't one of your sessions, doc."
Sylvia tried to mask her hurt at Victor's words with anger. "Well isn't that why I brought me here, Victor? To analyze you? To make you all better? Or did you think you could get your daughter back by fucking my brains out?"
Victor roared, leaping on the bed and grabbing Sylvia by the shoulders. "Don't you mention her like that, bitch."
Sylvia telekinetically pushed Victor as hard as she could. "Don't touch me."
Victor pulled himself up, snarling. Sylvia noticed his eyes were no longer that green she loved so much. They were black, as if they'd become all pupil. She was afraid, and she wanted away from him. What had she gotten herself in to?
Victor lunged at her again, pinning her down to the bed. He snarled, barring his fangs. "You want the animal gone in me, baby? Or do you like it?"
Sylvia struggled against him. "Victor, please. I'm sorry, okay?"
Victor could smell her fear. He blinked. What was he doing? He let go of her, sitting beside her on the bed. "Sylvie…"
Sylvia got up from the bed, searching for her clothes. She found most of them, and started getting dressed.
"Where…where are you going?" Victor asked.
Sylvia glared at him, all the fear gone. "Let me think, you just attacked me. I'm going back to my room, Victor. I don't want to be in here right now."
"Sylvie…I didn't…look, I'm under a lot of stress, all right?"
Sylvia pushed her hair out of her face. "Oh, and I'm not? Let's see, first I get a call that tells me my mother is dying, then I go home only to be kidnapped, and now I'm being held against my will by a homicidal maniac. How do you think my week is, Victor?"
"So this is against your will, huh? Last night, when you were layin' under me, screamin' my name, was that against your will?"
Sylvia glared at him. "Fuck you, Victor."
"You want outta here, Dr. Masters? Then fine. I'll get you out." Victor grabbed her, carrying her under his arm as she kicked and cursed. He carried her to the front door, and tossed her out on the lawn. "There, ya happy?" He slammed the door, locking it.
Sylvia sat on Victor's front lawn, staring at the shut door in disbelief. Wasn't this the part where she should run, where she should try to get back to her life before he changed his mind and came after her? But she couldn't move. She sat there, tears almost in her eyes, but not.
She wasn't sure how long it was until the door opened again. She looked up, meeting Victor's eyes. "You…you wanna come back in?" he asked softly.
Sylvia nodded, getting to her feet. She moved to him, letting him take her hand and lead her back into the house. The door shut, and she slumped against his chest, crying in Victor's arms.
*** *** ***
Victor crept out of the room later that night, not wanting to risk waking Sylvia. He needed to clear his head, and that wouldn't be possible with her awake. She had some sort of hold on him. When he'd thrown her out earlier, he'd stood by the door for fifteen minutes, trying to make himself let her go. She was a threat to him, to what he was. But he'd opened the door anyway, and when she'd still been there…
Victor shook his head, stalking down the hall. He went into the living room and stopped. Sardines… He growled. Sven turned around, looking at Victor behind the couch. "Tiny man! You not sleep?"
"No," Victor replied, deadpan.
Sven laughed. "I thought new husbands are worn out all the time!"
Victor raised an eyebrow, but didn't argue the point. He wasn't in the mood. "It ain't that, Sven."
"Have you not learned what pleases the wife? Women are hard to learn. Took me many months with Helga."
Victor shuddered. That was a place he could've gone his whole life not going. "Things are fine with Sylvia."
"You just practice, little man. You'll get it hanged."
"You mean get the hang of it?"
"Is that the phrase?"
"The that then. You want to watch television? It is Jerry Springer. Better than little people in dirt."
"I was just going to, um, go back upstairs," Victor said.
"Remember, little man, you'll get…the hang of it?"
"Heh. Yeah. See ya, Sven."
"Good bye, little man."
Victor went back to the bedroom, but didn't want to get back in the bed. Then he'd just have that overwhelming urge to hold her again. He went out on the balcony, breathing in the night air. He looked over the back of his estate, his eyes taking in the green shadowed by the night. He felt the urge to be out there, to be hunting. He wanted to taste blood again.
Victor buried his head in his hands, trying to make it go away. He needed to stop—needed to stop for Vicky. He'd made her hate him with what he'd done, and he'd never feel whole again until he had her back. She was the only person in his life who'd ever loved him without question, and he hadn't been able to do the only thing that she'd ever asked of him.
Victor looked up, roaring angrily into the night. He wanted the whole world to hear him, to know he was a predator. A second later, he felt something touch his back, and he turned around, his talons raised.
He stopped when he saw it was Sylvia. She didn't even flinch, even though he was sure she knew how easily he could've killed her then. "The bed's cold, Victor."
"I ain't in the mood to warm it up, Sylvia."
Sylvia blinked. It was the first time he'd used her full first name. She wasn't sure she liked it… "I just…I just want you beside me, Victor."
That was the thing about women Victor normally didn't like—their need to be close in something other than the basest sexual sense. It started out with cuddling after sex. Soon they'd have you just sleeping every damn night.
He looked down at Sylvia. She was wrapped in his sheet, the moonlight hitting her, making her look almost ethereal. Her hair was a mess, and he clenched his fists, remembering what it was like to run his fingers through it. He told himself he should fight the urge to go in with her, but he couldn't. Her pull was too strong, and he couldn't even bring himself to rebel against it.
He scooped her up in his arms, carrying her back to his bed.
*** *** ***
"Well, it is why I'm here, Victor."
Victor sighed heavily. It had been well over a week, and Heidi's family was still in his house. It seemed like everywhere he turned, he smelled sardines. If Larry wasn't the closest thing he had to a friend… He didn't need Sylvia adding to his stress level by bringing up the whole "therapy" thing again. She was supposed to be distracting him with sex and making it lower. "Just bein' with you is helpin' me, doc."
Sylvia frowned. "Don't give me that, Victor. You brought me here so I could help you, and yet, you never let me. Why?"
"Maybe I don't need your help so much," Victor snapped.
Sylvia didn't point out the first thought that sprung to her mind—if he didn't need her help, Victoria would be talking to him. She knew a defensive Victor Creed was not someone she wanted to taunt. "I want to help you, Victor," she said, making an active attempt to keep her voice calm and level. "I think it's possible for you to control your blood lust, and I think I can help you do that."
Victor's eyes narrowed. "When I first asked you to, doc, you refused. Why do you care so much now, huh? Especially since I'm keepin' ya here against your will, an' all."
Sylvia sighed. "Victor, I think it goes without saying that a lot has changed between us since you, um, first asked me. And secondly, I don't like to leave a job only half finished. When I started trying to help you, I made a commitment. I don't plan on backing out of that now."
"Maybe you've helped me all ya can. Maybe I'm just meant to be a cold-blooded killer." He looked at her with an expression that Sylvia couldn't distinguish as a grin or a snarl, but she definitely caught the glint of his fangs.
"Why are you fighting me on this, Victor?" Sylvia asked. "I want to help you—I want to help you with Victoria. Please, let me."
Honestly, Victor wasn't quite sure why he was fighting her. Why had it been easier for him to let her into his mind when he barely knew her? He frowned when he suddenly realized at least part of the reason—she was a threat to him now. She could try to hurt him, the way everyone always did when he let them get close. What made her any different that Birdy? "I don't want you pokin' around in there anymore," Victor said.
"You don't trust me."
Victor glared. "Did you read that from my mind?"
"I didn't need to," Sylvia replied. "It's written all over your face."
"I let you too close."
"That's the point of a therapist, Victor. You let them in so they can help you. Look, we can start slowly again. I won't even go into your mind. We can just talk, all right?"
Victor sat down in a chair, watching her as if she were prey. "Fine. Start talkin'."
"There are some things I've seen in your mind that I've wanted to discuss with you," Sylvia said, sitting across from him and trying to force away the nervousness. She didn't want Victor knowing just how uncomfortable he was making her at the moment. "They seem to be intertwined with a lot of your…aggression."
"Who is Logan?"
Victor growled a little. "Sawed off little runt. Next question."
"There has to be more to it than that, Victor. I caught some fairly negative emotions associated with that name. And something else in your mind about him…and a daughter?"
Victor got up then, pacing for a moment before looking at Sylvia. "Logan's someone I've known for a long time, all right? We used to work together, and we…had a falling out. We've fought a lot over the years, and I guess we're what some people would call 'mortal enemies.' I kidnapped his daughter a couple of times, did some things to her I probably shouldn't have. And that's what finally did it for Vicky. She's friend's with Logan's kid, and finding out what I did…it made her finally hate me."
"And he was the man who was engaged to Vicky's mother, wasn't he?"
Victor nodded. "How'd you know about that?"
Sylvia decided not to rat out Larry. "I'm a telepath, Victor. But tell me, why do you hate Logan?"
"I don't know! I just do, okay?"
"No, that isn't okay. You don't hate people just because. Something about them has to make enough of an impression on you to inspire an emotion as strong as hatred."
"He fights it."
Sylvia raised an eyebrow. "I'm afraid I don't follow, Victor."
Victor smirked. "And I thought you were an all-knowin' telepath."
Sylvia gave him a dirty look. "I never said I was all-knowing, Victor. I need you to talk to me. What do you mean by what you just said?"
"See, this is why I don't like shrinks," Victor said with a sigh. "Always havin' to analyze everything. Logan and I, we're similar. Not as similar as most people seem to think, mind you, but we're similar. We both got this need to hunt, t'kill. Logan, he sees it as a weakness, always denyin' what he is. That gets me, Sylvie. He's a killer, same as me, but he always acts like he's better. He's got this whole 'I'm a man, not an animal' mantra. I've always embraced what I am, enjoyed it. I like to kill. I like the taste of blood. Logan does, too, but he won't admit it. He thinks it makes him better than me, and he's anything but."
"But can't you admit that maybe there's something to be said for trying not to kill? Don't you want to be able to tame that hunger, Victor?"
"I don't want to be Logan. He's a little shit."
"I didn't say you wanted to be him," Sylvia replied. "But you brought me here to help you stop killing. Isn't it possible that maybe your hatred for Logan comes from a little bit of jealousy? He can keep it in check, but it's a struggle for you."
Victor's eyes narrowed, and Sylvia could tell he was fighting the urge to attack her. She wasn't sure if she should consider that a good sign or not. "I don't struggle. I've chosen to accept what I am. I don't lose any sleep at night for what I've done."
"There's no point in saying that to me, Victor. I know you're lying, and that isn't getting us anywhere. Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me that you don't ever wish that you could have a little bit of whatever it is that keeps Logan from always killing?"
"I don't want to be like him," Victor snarled. "He's weak. He lets it eat him up inside, constantly goin' on some angst trip. I'm more grounded that the runt will ever be. I don't hide from what I am."
"Maybe not the way he does, Victor, but you don't accept who you are either. You're constantly at war with yourself. You say you want to stop killing, but at the same time, you don't want to deal with the hardship it would be to control those urges. Keeping who you are while at the same time stopping the need to kill would be a struggle, and you're not willing to make it. No matter what—or who—it costs you."
Victor didn't miss the implication there. "I'd do anything for my daughter."
"Then do it."
The anger was written all over Victor's face. "Fuck you, frail," he snarled before leaving the room, slamming the door behind him. He stormed down the hall. He didn't need her telling him what he was, what he needed to do. Why did he ever think getting a psychiatrist would be a good idea? All that woman was doing was causing more problems in his life.
Victor went down towards the kitchen. He needed a drink. Maybe several. Perhaps he should send Larry to buy out a liquor store and see if he could out-drink that goddamn healing factor of his. He stopped a few feet before the kitchen. Voices—Swedish ones—and the smell of sardines. Those damn people were still in his house. He turned around, going towards his study instead. The last thing he needed was the blood of Heidi's family splattered around his kitchen.
Victor opened the liquor cabinet in his study, grabbed the first thing he saw, and didn't even bother with a glass. He drank it quickly, but it wasn't enough. He needed something entirely different to quench his thirst. The light on his private answering machine was blinking. A message—most likely a job offer. He'd been deleting them recently, but this time, he figured he'd give it a listen. He wanted blood, and fuck them all for not wanting him to have it. Especially fuck Sylvia for trying to tell him what he wanted in life. He should've known better than to let a woman in. They were all trouble, and not a one of them worth more than a night. Sometimes not even that much.
He listened to the message. It would be an easy job, just one kill. He could do it quickly, and it would be enough to tide him over, at least for a little while. The pay wasn't anywhere near his normal amount, but he didn't care. He just wanted to kill. Might as well be someone already marked for death than the next person that strayed too close to his lawn.
Victor grinned, his fangs glinting in the mid-afternoon sun. He'd kill again that night, and for at least a little while, the hunger would be gone.
Maybe then he'd know what to do with all those people in his house that didn't belong…
*** *** ***
He'd begged. They always begged. "Please don't kill me," as if he could somehow spare them. If Sabretooth was there, someone had already decided to make the current victim a dead man anyway. Victor walking away wasn't going to keep anyone from dying…it was just going to prolong it for a while.
He hadn't let this one beg long. Usually he did, just for the fun of it. It was amazing what you could get someone to do when they thought it might save them their lives. But he hadn't felt like playing. He'd just struck, killing him with his own hands.
Sabretooth knelt in the blood, taking in the scent, the feel, the taste. He was a killer—bloodlust made him who he was. Damn Sylvia Masters if she thought she could stop him. She'd never know who he was, never know what really made him tick.
Victor held his latest victim's head in his hands, knowing it would be all he needed to prove he'd done his job. Larry could take care of the rest. He grabbed the body and walked out, ready to collect his pay and get back home.
He wondered if Sylvia had stuck around. Nothing could make a kill even better quite the way a good hard fuck did.
*** *** ***
Larry was easy enough to find when he got home. Just follow the scent of sardines, and the whole lot of them would be close enough. "There's some garbage in the trunk of the car in the back," he said, ignoring the looks of horror on the faces of Heidi's family. What, had they never seen a man covered in blood before? "Go take it out."
"What…what kind of garbage, Mr. Creed?" Larry asked.
"The kind I pay you to deal with!" Victor snapped. "Go do it before I really lose my temper."
Larry got to his feet and hurried out. Victor ignored the glare Heidi gave him. That little bitch should've just be glad she was Larry's girl… He headed upstairs, figuring he'd take a nice, long bath before he hunted Sylvia down. Knowing her, she'd gone somewhere to sulk, still mad at him for earlier. Victor grinned. He'd enjoy making up with her.
He didn't expect to find her standing in front of his door, as if she were waiting for him. Her eyes grew wide as she made a little gasp of horror at his appearance. "So…so it's true. You did kill someone tonight."
"How the hell did you know?"
"I felt you come home," Sylvia said. "I thought that I…I couldn't believe it…I had to see for myself."
"Well you've seen it," Victor snapped. "You haven't done me a damn bit of good. I'm still a heartless murderer. You happy now?"
"No," Sylvia said, the tears glittering in her eyes. "I'm anything but happy, Victor." She started to move, to walk away, but Victor grabbed her, pinning her up against the wall.
"I don't want you to leave tonight, frail. I want you." He pushed himself against her, making his intentions obvious.
Sylvia pushed him away. "I don't want that. I don't ever want that—not with you. I thought there was something else to you, Victor Creed, something that was worth fighting for. But you're nothing. All you are is bloodlust, and you disgust me. If I was Victoria, I'd get as far away from you as I could. All you could possibly do to that girl is hurt her."
Victor snarled, slapping her hard. Sylvia just pulled herself back to her feet. She wasn't going to do this with him, not again. "If you want a fuck, go find someone else, you bastard. I'm through. Either let me go, or kill me. I don't really care which right now, as long as it gets me the hell away from you."
Victor blinked, her words taking him aback. He stepped aside, and Sylvia walked away.
He watched her go, and for the first time in his life, he truly wished he could take something back.
*** *** ***
Sylvia woke up slowly the next morning, blinking as she took in the surroundings of her own room. She wondered for a moment if it had even been real, but knew it was as soon as she looked at the date. Well, that and the fact that the crime scene tape was still in her house. That had been quite irritating to deal with the night before. At least it had kept her apartment from being re-rented.
Every inch of her ached with weariness, and Sylvia wished she could shake the events of the previous couple weeks off like a dream. She didn't want to think about Victor, and she definitely didn't want to have to suffer the pain she felt from waking up without him. She doubted herself for even leaving. Did she really need to go? Couldn't she have just stayed, learned to turn a blind eye to what he was, what he did?
Sylvia brushed tears away from her eyes as she realized that no, she could never do that. She'd spent too many years having to pretend when she lived with her mother. She wasn't going there again. She wouldn't live a lie, especially not one tinted even darker with violence. She couldn't love a man who would choose bloodlust over her.
That thought made Sylvia cry in earnest, when she realized that she really did love Victor. Somehow, in the midst of all the insanity that her life with him had become, she'd fallen in love with him. She shook her head, telling herself that it hadn't been Victor that she'd fallen in love with. She reminded herself of one of the biggest dangers of being a telepath—failing to realize that what a person is capable of in their mind is not always who they really are. What good Victor Creed was capable of was buried right along side the rabbits. Sylvia laughed a little, a painful, choked sound. Who would've ever thought that so much darkness could all begin with a little white rabbit?
She lay there for a little while before convincing herself that she should get out of bed. After all, she should probably let the police know that she wasn't in any sort of trouble, since the mess around her house had let her know that some sort of investigation had been occurring. And her mother… Sylvia had put one thing off long enough. As much as that woman had hurt her, she needed to be with her then.
She got out of bed, remembering everything she'd been taught in graduate school as far as ways to keep a positive psyche was concerned. She was free of Sabretooth—shouldn't that make her happy?
The fact that it didn't upset her more than anything else ever could.
*** *** ***
"Mr. Creed, sir, they're really gone now," Larry called into Victor's room from the other side of the door. "You can come out."
"Dammit, Larry, do you not know the meaning of the phrase 'go away?'"
"But you have your house back now, sir. No one's here except the people who belong."
"Larry, take a hint and fuck off."
Larry sighed, walking away from the door. Heidi took his hand. "You've done all you can, darling. Victor just isn't going to come out," she said softly.
"But he's been in there for two days!" Larry said. "He doesn't do this Heidi. He…he just doesn't get depressed. I mean, granted, he seems like he would, but, well he doesn't."
"He'll come out when he's ready. Come on, why don't we take this as an opportunity to spend some time alone, hmm?"
Larry glanced back at Victor's door and sighed. "I guess you're right." He gave Heidi's hand a squeeze. "How about I make us some dinner?"
Heidi smiled. "There's nothing' I'd like more."
*** *** ***
Victor Creed had always prided himself on his lack of angst. He wasn't like Logan. Something bad happened in his life, he moved on. What was the point in dwelling on pain? No, Victor didn't dwell—he relished. He'd turn his pain outward, and then feed of that of the ones he inflicted it on. It was a vicious cycle, but one he'd been happy to be stuck in. He'd never felt that he'd lost something he'd needed.
Until Vicky had turned her back on him. But even then, he'd told himself that he could keep going, that he didn't really have to change—his daughter would come back to him. She'd always understood him, understood that he was more than the monster he was said to be. But now, he wasn't so sure. He'd spent as much of his life as he could really remember holding on to his bloodlust, making it an irrevocable part of himself. But now what—what could he do now that he didn't want to kill? First Vicky, and now Sylvia—the only woman he'd ever been able to truly say that he loved.
The blood was still on him. Two days, and he hadn't washed it off. Why should he? It was what he was. He was covered in blood, always covered in blood. He wanted to take it all back, to have never hurt Adanya Logan, to have never made that last kill. Then maybe he could have Vicky, could have Sylvia.
Victor sat alone, in the dark, years of murders playing through his head like a gruesome broken record. So much of it was the same. The hunger came, and he killed, as simply as if he'd just been taking a breath. He prided himself on living his life his way, on accepting the bloodlust as a part of him and never trying to fight it. But in the end, where had it left him? Alone. He wasn't in control. He couldn't even keep a promise to his daughter.
For the first time in his life, Victor Creed broke down, calling out for all he'd lost.
*** *** ***
"Larry, why don't you come to bed?" Heidi asked, propped up on her elbow and looking across the room at her lover.
"I'm not tired, honey."
Heidi smiled slowly. "We wouldn't…have to sleep."
Larry knew with his face, he probably shouldn't say no to a beautiful woman stretched out in his bed, but he just wasn't in the mood. Another day had passed without Victor coming out of his room. He wouldn't even eat the food he'd put in front of his door. "I can't."
Heidi frowned. "You don't need this, Larry. Victor, he's poison for you. You'll never be happy as long as you're here."
"But this is my life! I work for Mr. Creed!"
"Listen to yourself!" Heidi exclaimed, sitting up. "You can't even call the man by his first name! You helped him raise his child, for God's sake, and what are you to him—a servant? A punching bag? Hell, when that Birdy woman was around, didn't he make you move out just because she thought you were 'creepy?'"
"He needs me!"
"He needs you! What would he do without you? I'll tell you—he'd hire a maid and get someone else to clean his 'messes.' He doesn't give you half the respect you deserve. Come home with me, Larry. My family will provide for us, and we can start a real life together."
"Mr. Creed respects me!"
"Does he? How many years did you work for him before he even asked your name?"
Larry hung his head. "Ten."
"And before or since, has he ever asked anything about you? Does he know that you're from Chicago, or that your father was a preacher and your mother made the best pies in the state? Does he know that you graduated from Yale with a degree in philosophy?"
Larry drooped more. "No."
"He's bad to you, Larry. He's just a self-centered maniac. You deserve so much better. You deserve to be treated with dignity. Let us leave—please, darling. We would be so better off."
"I need…I need to think."
"I understand. But just remember, Larry, Victor does not hold you in the high regard you think he does. If he did, he would not treat you so low."
Larry got up from the chair. "I need…I need to go get something to drink. I'll be back up later."
"I'll be here for you, Larry, no matter what you decide." Heidi sighed. "I just want you to be happy."
Larry nodded and left the room.
*** *** ***
"Final boarding call for Flight 459 to Montgomery, Alabama."
Sylvia clutched her ticket in her hand. It was then or never. She could turn around now and just put her mother out of her mind for good, or she could get on that plane and try to finally put things right.
She stepped forward. She wasn't going to walk away from this one. If there was one thing she'd learned during her time with Victor Creed, is was that she could be strong.
She was going home to Mama, and come hell or high water, she was going to come back even stronger.
*** *** ***
Larry stood outside Victor's door, trembling. "I know you're in there, Mr. Creed…even if you aren't answering, and well, I just want to slip this letter under your door. Okay, well, bye."
Victor stared at the piece of paper that appeared a moment later. He waited a while before getting up and reading it. There was nothing on it that he could've possibly cared about anyway. It was probably just some bill or something. Maybe Heidi had gotten hold of his charge cards again.
He snatched the letter up glancing at the top. The first line let Victor know that he'd been beyond wrong in his belief. It wasn't just any note—it was Larry's letter of resignation. The man who'd been his confidant for close to three decades was walking out. Victor crumbled the note and went back to his chair. That was it for him. With Larry gone, he truly had nothing. He'd driven them all away.
He'd just wait now, until maybe death could be as kind to him as it was his victims and take him away.
*** *** ***
Sylvia was surprised at just how warm and inviting her brother's home was. She had three nephews—triplets—and a niece, with her sister-and-law on the verge of having another one any day. It reminded her of a home from an old movie, with everything amazingly in place, and everything soft, with an aura of contentment. She wondered how Jimi had managed to have a childhood so like her own, and yet grow up to have a family worthy of a fifties sitcom.
The one blemish on the household was the room in which her mother had taken residence. Apparently, she never left, just laying in the bed, wanting to be waited on in her "hour of darkness." Sylvia had felt her mother's presence as soon as she'd come into the house, and she wondered if she really was strong enough to go into that room.
Jimi's wife, Betsy, greeted Sylvia as an old friend, although the two of them had never met. She assured her that her mother would be happy to see her, and that she'd been asking for her ever since she'd taken ill. Sylvia took a deep breath before going into her mother's room. She was a psychiatrist. She could mend the rift with her own mother before the woman died, for crying out loud.
"Mama?" she said softly, opening the door.
Her mother was facing the wall, but turned when she heard Sylvia's voice. "You came."
"Of course I did, Mama," Sylvia replied, trying to keep her voice from betraying just how shocked she was to see her always-strong mother looking so frail.
"Good. Because I didn't want to die without telling you just how damn disappointed in you I am."
Sylvia blanched. "What?"
"What have you done for yourself, but made a mockery of this family? Do you know how hard it is, having the whole world know I gave birth to a freak? I raised you, and all you could do was humiliate me by announcing to all that would hear that you're a mutie. I tried to love you, despite your defect, but you made it impossible, Sylvia. I wanted to let you know before I meet the Lord that you're dead to me. I have no daughter."
Sylvia considered walking away with dignity. The psychiatrist in her told her to attribute her mother's harsh words to the dying process. But she didn't. For a moment, she thought of Victor, and she wanted to do something that he would be proud of. "I'm happy to be dead to you, you selfish bitch," she snapped. "Do you know how hard it was, being raised by a whore? You think those men stopped with you? Hell, I think most of them thought they were getting a two for one deal. I put up with hell for you, and if me being out as a mutant gave you back even a little bit of that hell, then I wish I'd yelled it louder. And if you think you're going to meet the Lord, then if anything, it'll be just long enough for him to throw you into some fiery pit, cause if there's an afterlife, you're spending it in Hell."
Her mother blinked. "How…how dare you say such things to me?"
"You've made me suffer enough. I had hoped that I could leave her reconciled with you, but I know how it'll never be possible. I hope at the end you realize what you've lost. I survived, Mother, survived everything you threw at me, and I'm going to keep doing just that."
Sylvia turned around and walked out, feeling renewed.
*** *** ***
Victoria grumbled as she got up and headed for the stairs. She figured with all the gadgets they had around that damn mansion, someone could've come up with a better intercom system than Kacie Drake screaming at the top of her lungs. She took the cordless phone from Kacie, who quickly scampered off. "Yeah?" Vicky said into the receiver.
"Hey, kiddo. It's Larry."
Vicky sat down. "Larry? Hey. Is everything all right?"
Vicky could hear Larry sigh heavily. "Well, no. It's your father."
"My father? Did he get hurt?" Vicky asked quickly.
"No. Well, not physically. Vicky, he's spiraling downwards. I couldn't even stick around anymore."
"You what? What are you saying, Larry?"
"You left my dad! Larry, you can't do that! Who will take care of him?"
"I'm not who he needs right now. Vicky, he misses you."
"I'm not coming home. Not after…not after what he did to Addie. He lied to me, Larry. He told me he quit. And to top it all off, he kept from me that my mother was Jean Grey, of all people. That wasn't exactly something pleasant to find out."
"He tried to quit," Larry replied. "Hell, Vicky he even tried therapy."
"He had a therapist here for a while. Didn't go so well, but I think he made an effort…"
"I don't care what happens to him anymore, Larry. I've washed my hands of him."
"You and I both know that isn't true, Victoria. He's your father, and you love him, no matter what he does. I'm not saying to accept what he is, but you need to forgive. Don't cause a rift you'll regret someday. You're his whole world."
"Why did you leave, Larry?"
"That isn't important."
"Yes it is," Vicky argued. "You're telling me to go back, but you can't even stick around yourself."
"He's not my father, Victoria."
"No, but you're like a brother to him."
Larry snorted. "More like a servant. All he does is yell at me. He probably doesn't even care that I'm gone."
"You can't honestly believe that. He's gruff, I know, but it's just his way."
"Just go home, Vicky. If he needs either one of us, well, it's you."
"Dammit, Vicky, go sort things out with your father. The man loves you. We can't all be perfect. Just love him for who he is."
Vicky was quiet for a moment. "I'll have to think about it."
"Make the right decision."
"I'll make the decision that's right for me."
"If that were the case, you'd be hanging up to book a flight to Seattle right now."
"I have to sort through some things."
"Don't wait too long, Vicky. He was in a bad way when I left."
"I won't. Larry?"
"I love you."
"I love you, too, kiddo. Take care."
"I will. Bye."
Vicky clicked off the phone and went up to her room.
*** *** ***
Sylvia laughed as she walked out of her brother's house. Did she really think that being so close to death would've made her mother any different? She decided all she'd read about "making peace" with loved ones was overrated. So what if the woman had given birth to her, that didn't really make her family.
Sylvia realized then that the people she'd been the closest to in her life were those who formed the motley crew at the Creed manor. She missed them. Even with all the darkness around that house, there was something there that made her feel alive. Maybe Victor was what she'd seen in his mind…
She dismissed that thought as she got in the cab that would take her back to the airport. No matter what she felt for Victor, she was better off without him—better off alone. She'd go back to Seattle and use the events of the past couple weeks to take a new outlook on life. Hopefully, she'd be a better person because of it.
Sylvia didn't look back at the house as the cab drove away, didn't need to glance back at any remainders of her childhood. She had only her future ahead of her, and one question burning in her mind—
How exactly did one fall out of love with the homicidal maniac that had stolen her heart?
*** *** ***
Ric LeBeau stopped short when he passed Vicky Creed's room and saw her throwing things into a duffle bag. He stood in her doorway. "Where are you going?"
Vicky didn't look up. "My dad's."
"No, the other father I have. Yes, Sabretooth's. I have a flight to Seattle in two hours. I need to get out here now." She zipped up the bag.
"But I thought you weren't talking to him. After what he did to Addie…"
Vicky let out a slow breath. "I know, Ric. But he's my father." She looked up at him, and he could tell she'd been crying. "Larry just called me and said that Dad's in really bad shape. No matter what he's done, I can't turn my back on him now."
Ric frowned. "Who's Larry?"
"My dad's clean-up man, but well, he was sort of like a mother to me."
Ric raised an eyebrow, but decided not to touch that one. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Yes." Vicky slung the bag on her shoulder. "I just need to get to him."
Ric moved closer to her, putting his hand gently to her cheek. "It just worries me, thinking about you being alone with him."
"Ric, he's my father. He'd never hurt me." She smiled. "I appreciate your concern, but I'm all right—really. You're not afraid your dad's going to pick your pocket every time you go anywhere with him, are you?"
Ric smirked. "No."
"It's the same thing, really. I'll be back soon. Tell the rest of the team that, okay?"
"I will. Take care of yourself, Victoria." Ric leaned down and kissed her on the top of her head.
"I will, Richard." She glanced back at the clock. "I'll be back before you even notice I'm gone."
"Somehow I doubt that."
Vicky smiled. "See ya, Stripes."
Ric chuckled. "See ya."
*** *** ***
Vicky shivered a little when she walked into her house. It wasn't the way she remembered it, not warmth welcoming her home. It was if it had died. She didn't like it one bit. She put her bag on the ground. "Daddy?"
Nothing. Vicky moved further into the house. Nothing even smelled right. "Dad?" She tried to catch a recent scent of her father, but everything was stale. She went up the stairs, towards his bedroom. She knocked on the door. "Dad, you in there?"
He didn't answer, but Vicky knew that's where he was. She knocked again, harder. "Dad, please, open the door."
She waited a moment, then cursed under her breath. Well, at least she knew the manual override code to break the lock he had on his door. Her father was, in her eyes, the king of paranoia. Her nursery had been better guarded than half the Pentagon. She breathed a sigh of relief when the door opened, but her breath stopped when she saw her father, slumped over in a chair, reeking of death. She let out a small, choked sob when she saw he was still breathing.
Vicky ran over to he father, kneeling in front of his chair. "Daddy? Daddy, please wake up and talk to me." When he didn't respond, she stood up, shaking his shoulders. "Dad, dammit, wake up!"
Victor's eyes opened slowly. "Vi…Vicky?"
"Yeah, Dad, it's me."
"Why…why are you here?"
Vicky smiled the best she could. "I heard you needed someone to take care of you."
"You said you hated me."
Vicky didn't stop the tear that fell down her cheek. It killed her how weak he looked "I love you, Daddy. I love you so much."
Victor looked down slowly. "I don't deserve that. I don't deserve you. I'm not…I'm not a good father."
"Yes you are. You're the best. I wouldn't ask for anyone else."
"Even with all…with all I've done?"
"You don't love people because of the person you want them to be. You love them for who they are."
"I let you down."
"I can get over it. If you'll just get up. Please, Daddy, I can't stand to see you like this."
"They all left me, Vicky. You…Larry…Sylvia…"
"I loved her."
Vicky decided she'd pry into that subject more later. "Oh. Well, I'm back now, and I bet you could get the others back, too, if you really tried."
"I killed again," Victor said, looking away again. "You and Sylvie, you both wanted me to stop…and I didn't. But I can now, I promise. I can stop. I didn't want to hurt them…. I didn't want to hurt the rabbit…"
Vicky figured she didn't really want to know why her father was talking about rabbits. "You can make it better. You're just going to have to get up, all right? When's the last time you ate something?"
"When did Larry leave?"
Vicky smirked. "You get in the shower, and I'll find something for you to eat."
"You're not going to cook are you?"
Vicky decided to take that as a good sign. If he could remember that she was just about the world worst cook, second only to Victor himself, he wasn't too far gone. "No, I promise I won't put you through that."
He smiled weakly. "Might be a good revenge."
Vicky chuckled. "No one deserves that, Dad. But you need to get cleaned up, all right? Can you do that?"
"I think so…I haven't tried standing in a while."
Vicky held out her hand, offering her father something to steady himself on. Victor took it, slowly pulling himself to his feet. He stumbled a little at first, but managed to stand on his own. "You need me to run the bath, Dad?"
With anyone else, his dignity would make him say no. "Yeah, would you, sweetie?"
Vicky nodded and helped Victor into the bathroom, going over to the tub to run the water. She got the temperature to just the way she knew he liked it. "You going to be all right now?"
Victor nodded. "I think so."
"I'm going down to see if there's anything edible in the kitchen—that doesn't involve me cooking. Yell if you need me."
Victor spent a while in the tub, slowly letting it pull him back into the world of the living. Vicky was back…she didn't hate him. He could breath again. He watched the water turn red as the blood washed off his body, and with it, a part of himself. He'd been given a second chance, and he knew then that he could fight the hunger. He was strong, stronger than an urge.
Victor stood, watching the red water rush down the drain. It was time to start being the father he should've been nineteen years ago.
*** *** ***
Victor chuckled as he approached the kitchen and smelled pizza. That's another thing Vicky has inherited from him—just about the fastest dialing finger around when it came time to produce food. "Pepperoni?"
Vicky spun around and smiled at her father. "Of course. I ordered six…thought you might be hungry."
He ruffled her hair. "That's my kid."
"Need a drink, Dad?"
"There's some vodka in the bottom cabinet, sweetie," Victor said, sitting down and starting to eat. He didn't even realize how hungry he was until it was there.
Vicky poured him a tall glass of straight vodka and sat down, grabbing a piece of pizza for herself. "Glad to see you eating now," she said. "It scared me to see you like that."
Victor looked away, unable to meet her eyes. "I'm sorry. I…I wanted to die."
"I'm not going to now."
"You better not. I couldn't live without you, Daddy."
"I know, kid, I know."
*** *** ***
Vicky waited until the following afternoon to broach the question that had been on her mind since the night before. "Who's Sylvia?"
Victor winced. "My therapist. She isn't around anymore."
Vicky raised her eyebrows. Larry had mentioned something about a psychiatrist, but she certainly hadn't thought that her father would've had a relationship with one. It didn't seem his style. Well, she figured she couldn't really judge his taste in women, since the only one he'd ever brought home was that Japanese assassin. Vicky shivered at the thought. Granted his heart had been in the right place when he'd thought she'd needed a mother, but really… She brought herself back to the conversation at hand. "You said last night that you loved her."
"I blew that. Let's talk about something else."
"Do you still love her?"
Victor shifted uncomfortably. "Why are you askin' all these questions?"
"Because I want you to be happy."
"I am. You're here."
Vicky frowned, but decided to try again later. Her father was the most stubborn person she'd ever known. "What about Larry?"
"He quit. What about him?"
"Aren't you going to ask him back?"
"He'll come back if he wants to."
"I talked to him, Dad. He doesn't feel like you need him."
"That's ridiculous! As much as he does for me, I…" Victor caught himself and stopped. "Well, if that's the way he feels."
Vicky got up, got the phone, and handed it to Victor. "Call him."
"Do it, or I'll cook."
"You wouldn't dare."
"What the hell do ya want me to say?"
"How about that you're sorry you didn't show him enough respect, and that you really do appreciate all he's done for you, and you want him to come back."
"Not the right answer."
"Dad, I'm serious. Larry's a part of our family, and you are not going to let your damn pride ruin that. Do you want me to come from a broken home?"
"What in the world are you talking about?"
"Oh just call the man! Do I need to dial his cell phone number for you, or do you know it?"
Victor grumbled, snatching the phone from her. "I know it."
"Is your finger broken?"
"Then get to dialing."
Victor gave her a dirty look. "If it didn't mean a man would have to touch you, I'd wish children of your own on you someday."
"Gee, thanks. Call."
"I'm not groveling."
"Yes, you are."
Victor jumped a little. Since when did she get so forceful? "Damn, all right, I'm callin'."
Victor was obviously uncomfortable as the phone rang. And he didn't get any better when Heidi answered the phone. "Larry around?" he asked.
"Larry is busy at the moment. Who is this?"
"Victor, I…wait a second…you speak English?"
There was a long pause from the other end of the line. "Larry call back later. I go now."
"I already caught you, Heidi."
Heidi sighed. "Damn you, Creed. What do you want with Larry anyway? He quit picking up your garbage."
"And I don't want him to. Look, I feel bad, all right? Can I talk to him?"
"He's not here."
"I know you're lying."
"Look, I love Larry, and I'm sick of seeing you walk all over him. I know he may seem like a tough guy, but he isn't. He's just a sweet, sensitive man, and he doesn't deserve being treated like trash by the likes of you."
Victor decided not to point out that sweet, sensitive men usually didn't get jobs cleaning up the bodies for homicidal maniacs. "Can I just talk to him? If you don't put him on now, I'm just gonna call back continuously. And if that doesn't work, I'll hunt ya down."
Heidi grumbled. "Hold on a minute." There was a long pause before Larry came on the line.
"Hey, it's Victor."
"Oh. Look, I meant it when I retired. I'm too old to go around cleaning up dead bodies, Mr. Creed."
"I'm not callin' to ask ya to do that again, Larry. I promise I'll never ask ya to do that again. I just…I just want ya back around 'cause, well, dammit I'm hungry."
Vicky hung her head. Some things about her father really weren't ever going to change.
"I'm not a chef, Mr. Creed."
"I know, I know. But, well, I need ya around, Larry. I, um, always figured we were sorta a team."
"Well, yeah. We raised Vicky, didn't we?"
"Yeah, we did."
"I never let you know how much that meant to me, Larry. I couldn't have done that without you."
"Sure you could have."
"No, I couldn't have. Hey, without you, who would've told me that wrapping a crib in barbed wire was a bad idea?"
Larry chuckled. "Okay, so maybe I helped some."
"You helped a lot, Larry. With everything."
"It was my job, Mr. Creed."
"No, it wasn't. It was more than your job—more than I should've asked of ya. But you did it. And Larry?"
"My name's Victor."
"Heh. Right. Victor."
"Look, I really do want you to come back. But in a different capacity."
"Don't know. You can run the house or something."
Larry laughed. "So basically you're going to start paying me for what I've been doing for the past twenty years or so anyway?"
"Um, yeah. I'll give you a raise."
"I'd have to talk to Heidi."
"I'll get back to you, all right, Mr…uh, Victor?"
"Just don't take too long, all right?"
"See ya, Larry."
Vicky took the phone back. "See, was that so hard?"
"Now if you can do the same with Sylvia…"
Victor's nostrils flared. "Hell no. I'm not calling her. Not ever."
"No! Dammit, Vicky, don't even try to cajole me into that one. You don't understand a damn thing that happened between Sylvia an' me."
"Did she make you happy, Dad?"
"Vicky, don't…I want to talk about something else."
Vicky changed the subject then. She'd have to figure out what the deal with this Sylvia woman was from someone else. Hopefully Larry would be home soon…
*** *** ***
"Thank you for coming back, Larry."
Larry smiled at Vicky. "It took some convincing where Heidi was concerned, but I couldn't stay away. You and Mr. Cre…Victor…you're the closest thing I have to family."
Vicky hugged Larry. "You've always been family to me. You were like my second parent, you know."
"I know. Like a mother to you?"
Vicky laughed. "Something like that. I wanted to ask you something, once we were alone."
"You mean once your father wasn't around to hear."
"Exactly. Tell me, what pushed him over the edge? When I came back, he was a mess. I've never seen him like that. He'd given up, and Victor Creed has never been a man to give up. What did I miss?"
"He wasn't the same after you left, Vicky," Larry said.
"There was more to it than that," Vicky replied. "I know my leaving hurt Dad, but there was something else. He said something about a woman."
"Yeah. A psychiatrist?"
"Victor decided he needed mental help." Larry snorted. "Anyway, he saw Sylvia on Oprah, and…"
Vicky held up a hand. "Wait, is this Dr. Sylvia Masters, the mind-reading shrink?"
"You've heard of her?"
Vicky chuckled. "Yeah. A friend of mine does a great impersonation. My father honestly fell for her?"
"I know, shocked me, too. She didn't seem like much, especially when Victor drug her unconscious to the car, but apparently the girl had some kick to her."
"Drug her to the car unconscious?"
"Vicky, it's your father."
Vicky shrugged. "Good point. So what happened?"
"Well, they fought like crazy for a while, then they started sleeping together. I think there may have been some "sessions" in there somewhere where she tried to deal with your father's bloodlust issues. Honestly, I didn't pay it too much attention. I was too busy trying to deal with Heidi's family."
"Yeah, they came to visit. Don't think that thrilled your dad too much there. I worried about the girl at first, but I figured she was taking care of herself. Especially when Victor stopped chaining her to the bed."
"He didn't want her running off. Look, I was just glad he didn't kick me out of the house like he did when Birdy was around. I didn't understand their relationship, Vicky. I wish I could tell you more, but I can't."
Vicky felt frustrated. The way her father had spoken about this woman, she could tell she was someone special to him, but Larry wasn't a lot of help as far as piecing things together went. Suddenly, she had an idea. "Where is Sylvia now?"
"She went back home."
"Do you know how I could reach her?"
"I don't know if that's such a good idea, Vicky. The way she left, I'm not sure if she'd want to hear anything about your father ever again."
"Please, Larry. If there's a woman in this world that could actually effect my father like that, I want to meet her."
Larry sighed. "I can get you her address. But if she slams the door in your face, don't say I didn't warn you."
Vicky hugged Larry. "You're the best you know."
Larry hugged her back. "If you say so."
*** *** ***
Vicky wasn't really sure what made her want to meet Sylvia so badly. She didn't believe in trying to push people together. If they wanted to be together, they would be—if they didn't, they wouldn't. Still, she had to meet the woman who had made her father fall in love.
Sylvia was puzzled for a moment when she opened the door to a girl wearing an old T-Shirt of The Clash and a leather jacket. Then she looked into her eyes and knew exactly who she was. "Victoria Creed?"
Vicky raised her eyebrow. Sylvia was not at all what she'd pictured. "Yeah. I take it you're my dad's shrink."
"I was." Sylvia felt a sudden wave of panic. "Is Victor all right?"
"Yeah, he's fine. Why, you worried he wouldn't be?"
Sylvia blushed slightly. "No, I just…why don't you come in?"
"Beats standing in the hallway," she said with a shrug. She walked in and looked around Sylvia's apartment. From the looks of things, it had been awhile since the woman had worried about straightening up. Vicky wondered if that meant she was as upset as her father had been.
Sylvia found it almost hard to look at Vicky. The resemblance to Victor was almost uncanny, and a little bit creepy since she was most decidedly feminine in appearance. "Did he send you over here?"
Vicky rolled her eyes. "Please. He'd probably yell like crazy if he knew I was even here."
"So why did you come?"
Vicky tried to come up with an answer. "Good question. Guess I was curious."
"So you're not here to convince me to go back to your father."
"No. Why, you want me to?"
Sylvia looked down. "I don't love him."
Vicky knew a lie when she heard it. "Of course you don't. He is a madman, after all."
Sylvia looked back up. "What sort of father was he? I want to hear it from you."
"He was the best I could ever ask for," Vicky replied. "Despite what he is, what he's done, he's capable of a lot bigger range of emotions than most people give him credit for. He isn't pure evil."
"I know. He can be…very warm."
"I really should stay too long," Vicky said. "I just sorta wanted to meet you."
"I'm glad you came by. I wanted to meet you, too."
Vicky gave her a slight smile before heading back towards the door. She stopped, turning back to Sylvia. "I tried to hate him for what he is, too. But sometimes, you just have to learn to take the good with the bad." She walked out, shutting the door behind her.
Sylvia sat down on the couch, staring blankly ahead of her.
*** *** ***
For once Victor wished he'd listened to Larry. Apparently attempting to find some random woman to fuck Sylvia's memory away really wasn't a good idea. Now he was stuck in some dark bar listening to some half-plastic woman rattle away about God knows what. It was almost enough to make Victor rethink his vow never to kill again.
It was times like these that he was reminded of just how his heightened senses were as much a curse as a blessing. He could smell her cheap perfume and hairspray, could hear every individual tap of her acrylic nails on the bar. A few months before, he would've had her in a bed and on her back by then. Now, he just wanted to get away.
He got up in the middle of one of her sentences, ignoring the look she gave him. He didn't give a damn if she thought he was rude. He didn't want to see her face ever again. What, did the woman take make-up tips from Tammy Fay Baker?
He walked into the cool night air, breathing in the freshness the bar had been lacking. He started walking, not wanting to be confined anywhere anymore. He stayed lost in thought, not worrying about where he was going. With his tracking sense, he'd always be able to find his way home.
He didn't stop until the neighborhood he ended up looked all too familiar. He cursed under his breath, wondering what part of his twisted subconscious led him this way. Sylvia's apartment was just about a block away. He told himself he should turn back, but he just kept walking, until he was standing in front of his door.
There was a moment after he knocked that he contemplated running. But then she answered the door, and he was looking down into her eyes. He had no chance of getting away anymore. She made a breathy little noise that he thought was probably his name, and Victor had to fight the urge to take her right there in the hallway.
"What are you doing here?" Sylvia asked.
Victor didn't know what to say, so he just blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "I'm sorry."
"For not being what you wanted."
Sylvia wouldn't let herself look into his eyes. "I didn't want anything from you, Victor."
"Do you now?"
Sylvia had long since fallen into a routine of self-preservation. "No."
Victor gave a small nod. "Have a good life, Dr. Masters."
"You, too, Mr. Creed."
Victor walked away, refusing to look back. He was afraid of what would happen if he saw her again.
He stepped out of her building and into the pouring rain. "Damn Seattle," he muttered, starting back towards the club he'd been in earlier.
Victor froze, although he tried to tell his legs to keep walking. Slowly he turned around and moved towards her, ignoring the voice in his head that was screaming at him to do anything else. He stopped when he was close enough to almost touch her. She was beautiful, even with the rain beating down on her.
Sylvia reached out her hand to him, then stopped, leaving it in midair. Victor took it, holding it tightly. "I love you," she said, almost a whisper.
"I love you, too."
"I want to come back with you."
"I want you to come back. I can change. I can be what you want me to be."
"I just want you to be you, Victor. I love all of you."
He smiled. "So what do we do now?"
"Well, if we take a cue from the movies, I think we're supposed to stand here in the rain and kiss."
"Well, kissin' you is nice, Doc, but I think I'd rather go in where it's dry and have make up sex."
Sylvia laughed as Victor scooped her up and headed back towards the apartment with her in his arms.
*** *** ***
As always, reviews are much appreciated. Please let me know what you thought!