Foundations on Sand

By: Stephanie Watson (SLWatson)
Beta: Karen Walker (Serris)

Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. Damn...

Notes: I don't completely buy into the terrified telepath quivering in front of the huge psycho (methinks that maybe people like making Vic the ultimate evil *too* much)... they interacted waaay too well. Basically takes place immediately after Sabretooth: Death Hunt #4.


Additional: In Death Hunt #1, Sabe lived in Vancouver. In #2, he was in Seattle. I don't know how his whole mansion up and moved in a week's time, but eh. Blame Hama... :::snickers::: Everyone else does.


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The Seattle mansion was drenched in rain, as per usual Washington weather. It poured down relentlessly, soaking the lawn and soaking the master of the domain as he trudged heavily up the marble steps and keyed in the code for the main door. It clicked to signify that it was unlocked, but he doesn't immediately step in. Instead, he typed in another long string of numbers, then waited while the traps just beyond the door disarmed.

Finally Victor walked in. The flight back from Manhattan had frustrated him quite a bit, as he was in a hurry to get back home, and as he closed the door behind him, he called up the steps, "Birdy!"

Shock? Maybe some of that. Incomprehension? Very likely.

Denial? Definitely.

Birdy was dead. Her body was left in Manhattan, as her boss made his way home. He knew she wasn't dead, though, because she just couldn't die. It was completely meaningless to him at the time, as she lay at his feet, her eyes wide open and blood beginning to soak through the front of her bodysuit. He didn't even grasp it... she wasn't dead, simple as that.

On the flight home, he knew what the clever little telepath had pulled. She had planted the illusion in his head so she could slip away without fear of him coming after her. After all, he owed her for stabbing him in the back.

Not that he would have ever collected that due. Might have threatened it, might have even given her an ass kicking for it... but he wouldn't kill her. He couldn't kill her. He might have knocked her cold a few times in a bad mood...

...well, that rarely worked how he liked it to. She always got him back somehow for it. Clever use of thermonuclear hot sauce, or once she had gone so far as to stick some piranhas in his indoor pool. Boy, he had been mad then, but he hadn't done anything. She could probably think of a lot worse.

Which is another reason she wasn't dead. She still owed him one, and the score wasn't settled yet. So if she wasn't heading for the hills, she was hiding out and waiting to spring some devilish trick on him.

Frowning to himself, Creed walked up his grand staircase, keeping a watchful eye out for any possible clues as to what she could be planning. Finally he made it to her room, knocking on the door. "Birdy, c'mon! You an' me have work ta do, babe."

She didn't answer. He scowled, shoving the door open. The room was still ransacked from her hasty departure a couple days ago, and he sniffed around. He could smell her, but it was an old scent. Nothing fresh.

Turning on a heel, he walked back out, getting angry. "Dammit, girl, what are you fuckin' pullin'?! Ya can't hide forever, so ya might as well jus' come out an' we c'n look through the latest contracts in."

The house answered back in a soft echo of his own deep voice. Nothing else.

Finally he just sighed. He was tired, cold, wet and his back ached from the miserable seating on the airliner. After a moment he called out, "Okay, fine. I'm gonna go take a shower, you pull whatever prank yer gonna pull, an' we c'n talk about it later."

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The next morning found the house just as quiet. No knocks on the door with breakfast, no humming as she walked through the halls, just silence. Creed stared balefully at his bedroom door, waiting for her to knock so he could chew her out for being gone all night. She was gonna get ragged in a serious way.

He didn't catch much sleep the night before, since one ear was listening for a door opening. 'Course, that wasn't because he was worried. He just had trouble sleeping because of the jet lag and tension. And he was pissed off because his employee had taken off without even leaving a note.

The clock ticked over a few more minutes and he crawled out of bed, grabbing his silk bathrobe and throwing it on, then slipping his feet into his slippers. Fine, he didn't need her to bring food, he could cook. Provided it had instructions... or came in a box with "just add milk". Walking down the steps, he purposefully ignored her bedroom door, still ajar from the day before, and wound his way to the kitchen.

Fuck.

Dishes hadn't been done in a while. Muttering a few obscenities, he grabbed a bowl out of the cupboard and the cereal from the top of the fridge. A quick bowl later, and he tossed it into the sink and headed to his office. He could check the contracts on his own, just like he had before he ever hired her.

Sitting down at the polished oak desk, he put his still slippered feet up and shuffled halfheartedly through the papers, unconsciously listening for the door. An hour later he was still rifling through the same papers, completely absent minded. Eventually he gave up and decided maybe he'd go for a drive. Well, until he remembered that she had trashed every single vehicle he owned... bitch. Yea, he owed her for the back-stabbing, the car-wrecking, and for staying out all night after pretending to be dead.

Seething, he spent most of the day in the garage changing tires and performing other minor mechanical tasks. By the time late evening rolled around, most of his vehicles were back in running order. Still tired, now wearing quite a bit of oil and grease, and getting more pissed with every hour that passed, he walked back into the house.

He wouldn't yell for her though. The little bitch could be damned. He took a fast shower, then headed back to her room and started basically tearing what she had left out of the drawers. Running on pure, undiluted anger, he dragged almost every single thing she owned out into the backyard and started a bonfire. When everything was burned, he stalked back to the empty room.

Not totally empty. An uneasy feeling hit him as he reached down and picked up a hand-knit wool sweater. Must've forgotten it...

He had gotten her that the year before when she was complaining about how cold Seattle was. Brought it back for her from a contract he had in Switzerland, for no real good reason. There weren't many moments like that, but on occasion an impulse would strike and he'd grab her a souvenir or something. She had loved that sweater... wore it all the time it seemed, all winter.

When two in the morning rolled around, he went back to his own room with that sweater in hand. She'd be back by morning... just in case she'd get cold, he'd hold onto the sweater. He fell asleep with it still in hand.

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Five in the morning found him wide awake again. He really was worried this time, even though he'd never admit to it. But she never stayed away that long, and he was starting to feel his mind shaking loose at the seams, like riveted steel plates. Still pretty together, but beginning to get worrisome.

Frowning now in frustration and apprehension instead of anger, he walked through the entire house trying to pick up her scent, fresh and new. She had to be there. There wasn't a question about it, she wouldn't leave him alone like that. She needed him as much as he needed her. She kept his head together, and he protected her.

He hadn't protected her this time.

Clutching the sweater without even realizing it, he nearly ran out to the pickup he had for hauling. Trying to keep rattled nerves under control, he spent the entire day buying her all new furniture, and on a whim, he got two dozen roses in red and white, and a stupid stuffed animal. Hours later, when everything was all fixed up and the roses were all nice in a vase and the damned bear was on her bed, he stood in the doorway.

He didn't even realize that his hands were trembling and that the sweater was wound through them in tension. She would come back now. She had everything all new, and she always liked getting something new, especially when it was something she didn't expect. A big bed with mirrors on it, and shelves, and a dresser that was solid mahogany, and a big chair to sit in, and a bookcase where she could keep those idiotic mystery novels she liked to read when business was slow. Everything she could ever want or need.

He clicked the lights off gently, nearly tiptoeing to his bedroom. He didn't even bother getting undressed, just curled up on top of the blankets and kept the sweater close enough he could still smell her on it.

- ---------- - --

The phone rang at four in the morning, startling Creed from a fitful sleep. He looked at it wide-eyed for a long moment, trying to gather his thoughts into some semblance of cohesion. Birdy usually answered the phone... maybe she was still asleep. He leapt out of bed, barely restraining himself from running down to her room. Slowly he pushed to door open, asking softly, "Birdy...? C'n you get th' phone?"

Silence. Nothing had been touched. He fought to get his mind back under control, but he couldn't hide the shakiness in his voice. Carefully he stepped into the room, nearly pleading and hating himself for sounding so desperate, "C'mon, please come back. I swear, I'll never do nothin' again. Won't even call ya a name, nothin', an' I'll give ya a raise... anythin' ya want."

The quiet mocked him beneath the ringing of the phone. The phone stopped after two or three more rings, leaving him to face the deathly emptiness alone. Something inside snapped, and he actually hurt... real hurt. It was nearly unfamiliar, it had been so long since something could cause that feeling. No healing factor could make it quit either.

He wasn't even entirely aware he said it until he heard his own voice, all but begging and on the verge of tears, "Please don't leave me.... please, please don't leave me like this. I can't do it without ya, Birdy... please come back."

The silence screamed in response and he backed against the wall, sliding down until he was sitting there with his knees pulled close to his chest. Thinking was so hard... everything was getting fragmented and it made no sense. He begged in the quiet without even realizing it, shaking like a leaf. What little control he had was slipping away, like fine sand through his fingers, and no one was there to listen, no one was there to make it stop hurting.

Time passed without any notice given, and the phone started ringing again. This time he answered it, amazed he could keep an even voice then. "'Lo?"

"Yes, this is NYPD. We're looking into the possible homicide of a mutant woman, and her--"

Victor set the phone back on it's receiver, lightly, then unplugged the cord. The realization hit home; he had known all along, but he denied it. Now there was no denying it. She was gone. Anger took the place of the hurt, burning like lava. Someone would pay... someone else was going to bleed. He didn't care who -- he had just stopped caring.

Or so he thought.

Just before he walked out of his house for the final time, he took her sweater and laid it on her bed. Then, eyes cold and jaw set, Sabretooth left without a backwards glance.