Fundamental Beliefs

By: Stephanie Watson (SLWatson)
Beta: Karen Walker (Serris)
Editor: Danielle Cregan
Final Revision Beta: 1Grrl4Vic

Disclaimer: You'll probably recognize everyone who belongs to Marvel. If you don't, they belong to me. Use them if you like, I don't mind in the least.

Notes: This story is rated this high for a reason. I'm not going to list the reasons why, because I'm not going to diminish the impact. But for God's sake,
HEED THE DAMN RATING!!! If you're a minor, get out. If you have a weak stomach, get out. If you're easily squicked, get out. If you're looking for meaningless sex, go find a different story. This is not a pretty fic! As for the timeline, it's immediately after Sabretooth and Psylocke's showdown. After that, it's mostly What if...? and AU. I ignored the Operation: Zero Tolerance and Onslaught crossovers because I'm not clever enough to work 'em in. Fill in the gaps with whatever your imagination provides. On this fic, please ask me if you wanna archive it. I normally don't care, but with this one I'd like to know.

Last chance to turn back if you can't take it, or if you're underaged.

Still here? On with the show.

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

Darkness and the stench of mankind's garbage.  The shin-deep water reeked of raw sewage and everything loathsome about the human race.  Surrounded in darkness, heavy and musty, each scent nearly overwhelming in itself, Victor Creed kept running.

He could hear the rats scurrying along in the tunnels beneath New York City, and his own heartbeat, amplified in the confines of the enclosed area.  He could hear his own faster-than-normal breathing, but he still wasn't in any danger of exhaustion.  He could run for hours, and though he preferred the open air of the surface, he couldn't very well go up there.

The X-Men were hunting, and for one of the few times that he could actively remember, he was the prey.  Usually it worked the other way around, and he was the hunter... the killer.  He could still smell Psylocke's blood on him, and the smell brought a feral grin to his face as he ran easily through the muck and mire.  That bitch deserved it.  They all did, in some way or another, and had he not been more concerned with escape, he would have given it to them, too.

Except Tabitha... the grin fell momentarily.  He had been cruel to its best with her, and deep in his mind he felt some regret for it.  At the time, all he had aimed to do was get her pissed off enough to do exactly what she ended up doing, and then pain, red, and gutting the British/Asian slut.  But Boomer had treated him well enough, and even Sabretooth was not beyond some gratitude.

Gratitude.  Heh... it was pitiful.  He shoved it aside as though it were the corpse of a hit he had pulled and kept running.  None of them, not even Tabitha, deserved gratitude.  They locked him away, chained him like an animal, and even in the end their whole intent was to make him supposedly competent to stand trial for his past crimes.

Fuck 'em.  He knew exactly what he was doing every single time he took a life after he reached adulthood.  Even when he was caught in the rabid grip of bloodlust, he wasn't entirely without coherant thought.  He was ridding the world of another useless creature... fat and indolent in their rich luxuries, thinking that they, being humans, were the top of the food chain.

Bull.  He was at the top of the food chain.  He was the animal, the executioner, and the hunter.

But now he was the prey.

Pausing for a moment, Victor sniffed the air, trying to sort through the thousands of smells from both sewer and surface.  He couldn't catch their scent, but he knew they weren't too far behind.  Part of him wondered at confrontation, wanting more than anything to rip them apart like he had their team mate.  It would probably be ultimately suicidal, but that's not what kept him from standing his ground.  He wasn't afraid to die.

He knew he didn't want to be locked away again, and that's what they could do.

So he took one more moment, then headed off again.  He moved gracefully, even in water and blackness, and one could hardly attribute that predatory agility to someone so large and bulky.  But he was a hunter, and his movements reflected that.  As close to silent as any creature could get moving so quickly through water, his sharp green eyes darted around the area ahead.  Nothing.

Tunnels branched off right and left, but Victor kept on the straight.  He knew his way through those tunnels, having been there before.  Another grin sneaked up on him as he recalled the massacre that had happened there, and the screams of fear.  That had been one of his more enjoyable jobs, helping to slaughter the Morlocks.

A stray memory came up on him, followed by a feeling he wasn't used to... regret.

He snarled to himself, forcing it back, behind the massive barriers he had for such weak-minded notions.  So far, so good.  No sounds of pursuit, no scents, no--

He stopped short, bringing himself to a sharp halt and splashing water ahead a little louder than he would have preferred.  Cursing, he sniffed the air, catching an almost familiar scent -- almost, almost... he couldn't place it.

Eyes narrowing, he started ahead slower.  His night vision was excellent, but there was so little light to work with even he couldn't see as far ahead as he needed to.  Nose twitching, body tense, Creed tried to get close enough to whatever it was to find out.  It wasn't one of the X-Men -- he was so used to their stench that there would be no mistaking it.  But it was familiar.

A scratching noise behind him made him whirl around, angrily shoving his blond bangs back from where they kept insisting on falling in his eyes.  Lip pulled back in a snarl, fangs showing, he tried to see through the gloom to whatever had made that noise.

Then the scent came stronger, and the hair on the back of his neck stood in response.  There wasn't much that could do that, but whatever creature this was coming from was so... unnatural, so twisted that Sabretooth couldn't even shake off the natural, instinctive fear it inspired.  He was a hunter, a killer, more beast than man for the most part... and every single animal instinct he possessed was screaming.

Whoever -- whatever -- this was, it gave off that unnerving of a stench.  Growling into the blackness, Victor tried to draw them... it out, "Ya c'n come out, or ya c'n get ripped out."

The voice that answered was silky smooth, and sent a shiver down Sabretooth's spine. "Oh come now, that's no way to speak to your host, is it?"

"Who the fuck are you?" Victor snarled, eyes moving quickly and his ears trying to get a direction.  No luck... the speaker could be anywhere in the echoing sewers.

"Salvation?" the voice purred. "A nightmare, perhaps?  Or maybe just another fugitive?"

"A coward?" Sabretooth taunted. He was an expert at mind games, and if this thing wanted to play mind games, he knew he could do it better. "Hidin' in the shadows like a rat or a roach?"

"Oh, hardly.  Dear Victor, you wound me so."

Somewhat startled, Creed asked, "How d'you know who I am?"

"A grave encounter, if you will, many decades ago and in another... place."  The voice continued, almost musingly, "Or perhaps recently, though the dates are confusing when one's had temporal troubles."  Then it took on almost a cheerful tone. "No matter.  It wasn't you, honestly."

Sabretooth backed up, fangs bared and claws out.  He didn't have time to waste by playing with riddles and he started to listen to his instincts.  They were telling him to run, and they finally overcame morbid curiosity.  He turned and headed back.

Then the creature dropped in front of him.  Victor shied back, honestly surprised.  Not so much by the sudden appearance, but the face grinning back at him.

Henry McCoy... but not.  Not the almost moronically cheerful blue-furred X-Man.  This Beast had dark fur, long fangs and claws, and eyes that gleamed with an insanity that even Creed didn't possess.

Time was running out.

Snarling savagely, Sabretooth struck out with his claws splayed, intending to slice the fur-covered adversary open.  He expected to feel those claws pass through flesh, muscle, expected McCoy's entrails to spill into a steaming heap on the floor.

But the movement was in vain.  The beast leapt back easily, smiling almost benevolently.  "Is that honestly the best you can do, Victor?"

"Not a fuckin' chance," came the growling response, and this time Sabretooth took a leap for the other creature, all claws out and ready.

He didn't make it.

The next moment, his face was shoved hard to the ground, and sewer water flowed over, threatening to drown him.  He struggled, but McCoy was heavy, and deprived of sight, sound and smell, Creed was fairly blind to strike back.  He was just about to get his arms under himself to push back above water when there was a strange tingling sensation in the back of his neck.

Not even a full moment had passed before he blacked out.