Disclaimer: Language, slight melancholy, angst, and longing . I do not own any aspect or character of the Marvel Universe nor elements of the X-Men Origins movieverse.
A Feral Interlude: Epilogue
He walked the feudal streets of the former imperial capital, guardedly watching the sights of people celebrating their ancestral festival with joy and excitement. Colorful lanterns decorated shrines and the ringing of bells chimed in echoes all around with the laughter and cheers of crowds. The feral wandered with no destination in mind, as had become his custom since he'd woken up with no memory of who or what he was.
Idly fingering his dog tags tucked under his shirt, Logan strolled down towards one of the biggest shrines in Kyoto on the other side of a vibrantly red bridge. The group of Japanese locals that bustled opposite him across the bridge paid him no attention as they discussed their plans and pointed out the lovely lotus lanterns that floated down river and under the bridge. Sniffing the air, Logan sifted the smell of snow that would come before nightfall as he crossed over to the shrine.
The subtle yet entrancing beauty of the Shinto shrine had attracted him since the first day he'd arrived in Kyoto. Across from the shrine he spotted a procession of beautiful geisha in their dazzling silks and alabaster faces with bright rouged lips. He stood off to the side under one of the shrine's torii, absently making sure not to lean against the gate as he shoved his hands into his leather jacket's pockets and watched the slow procession near. His gaze wandered from one lovely geisha up to the parasol of another before wandering over the procession and across at the stoic beauty of the surroundings.
She stood out to him immediately. Eyes like polished jade with a hint of gold in the middle; stark in their brilliance and focused alluringly on him.
Wearing a traditional kimono, she stood out from the surroundings. Not a geisha—her countenance wasn't painted with the white base mask of traditional geisha—but not a tourist either. His interest was piqued by her, but the long procession made it difficult for him to make his way towards the grove she was strolling by.
The sound of rambunctious children running by distracted him as he narrowly maneuvered out of the way from having the rowdy kids bump into him as they rushed towards the shrine. When he looked back at the spot she was in, she was gone. In an even pace, he strode around the procession and cut through a group of monks—apologizing curtly as he did so—and followed in the general direction the mysterious woman had been strolling in. Winding down a stone path that led back to the narrow streets of the imperial city, Logan wandered into the heavy foot traffic and looked around and over the throngs when he spotted a flash of her retreating kimono as it passed out of sight down a busy avenue. He followed, picking up the pace of his stride as he turned the corner.
He halted, perplexed to not see the mysterious woman anywhere and confused by the sudden scent that tickled his nose as a rickshaw passed him on the street. Turning, he missed catching sight of the rickshaw's passenger, but was instead left buzzing from a heady and raw perfume that was left in its wake—tantalizingly wild. Logan tried to sift the significance of such a tempting scent, but shook off the curiosity and muttered to himself, "It ain't a memory, bub. Just a nice-smelling geisha…"
Riding in the rickshaw, Isabela felt her pulse slow again. She hadn't been so close to another feral in what felt like ages now, let alone the very feral brother of her former lover. She hadn't expected to be lured by the gravitating scent that she'd caught in the breeze on her walk through the festival. She loved Japan and always held a fondness for the imperial capital. Kyoto had managed to remain as pristine as it had been at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. The majesty of the city and all of its sites had lured her out into the crowds. She'd first caught his scent when the brooding feral was strolling through Maruyama Park and gazing up at the slumbering weeping cherry blossom tree. At first, she'd been confused by the familiarity of the scent and the unfamiliarity of the subject, until she'd seen him give a small smirk after he reached for a lonely pale pink blossom that was already in wilt and pressed it into his jacket pocket. The irreverent quirk of his boyish lips and the mirth that crinkled the corners of his eyes were very familiar and singularly reminiscent of Victor when he was devoid of any mischief or sadism; when amusement would curl genuinely free from the wickedness he wore like chainmail. Smiling, she was sure that the man had been the fabled Jimmy. His scent resembled Victor's, but unlike the feline feral, he had a softness in his brown eyes that disarmed her when they fell on her. He had looked young and bemused, struck by her, as if he'd never seen another feral before. It had stuck with her.
Musingly, she decided she would return to Tokyo before schedule. She suddenly felt ruffled by the proximity of another like her. It had made her yearn for contact—to share her true self with a being like her, especially one so close to the last person she'd tangled herself emotionally and physically with. Most of all, she'd been tempted to engage him and share her knowledge with him—about her and his brother. But the look in his eyes told her she and everyone in the world were strangers to him…it had unnerved her.
The animal wasn't pleased and whispered for her to remain as she's been: supreme and alone so as to avoid further entanglements of the mortal coil. Her intrigue curbed, she instructed the rickshaw man to take her to the train station. It was time she busy herself, and she knew Japan would keep her busy for quite a while thanks to its booming economy and rising global participation. Nothing better for a heavy heart than to toil at what one does best…
It wasn't the Gobi desert, but he was sure if he stayed long under the blistering heat he definitely could go mad. He remembered a few times in Vietnam where he would be so overheated he would forget what he was doing—feel caged and need to lash out to gain his bearings. Wait, why am I even thinking of the Gobi-fucking-desert?
He tossed his head, rubbing the sweat out of his eyes as he leaned back on the tree branch and looked up at the rays of sun blazing through the canopy of trees all around him. He was high off the ground, balanced like a lounging big game cat. He'd radioed in for pickup over an hour ago, but that wasn't what he was worried about. Digging his claws into the tree bark, Victor brooded, eyes hooded and faraway as he tried to focus his thoughts. His mind flashed to Isabela sitting across from him, looking alluringly seductive as she smiled at him from behind a wine glass. Oh yeah…goddammit.
Victor had lost track of how long it have been since rapture had fizzled out of his system, but every once in a while his mind would betray him with an errant memory or silly reminder of Vipress. His viper. Isabela Montecristo had sent a shock to his system, or at least that's what he told himself whenever he needed to get his mind off of her. Lately it hadn't taken that much effort, not with work keeping him occupied. Said work had taken him to most corners of the third world, including his current position. He liked government work. The perks were just as good as he remembered and the hassle was never his problem.
Having his bloodlust met and getting paid for it had alleviated some of his rancor and pent up impulsivity, leaving him to only brood over her. He had made it so he wouldn't have much time with his thoughts, and he liked it that way, until moments like this when all he had to do was think.
The murmur of a helicopter in the distance was a reprieve to his rising thoughts—his desires that left him angry and scornful and brashly strategizing his next move in recovering what was his. He needed time to distance himself from yet another blow to his ego…from yet another loss that he ultimately considered his fault.
With a growl, he stood up on the branch and began to climb his way up to the top of the tree, reaching the blazing sunlight beyond just as the helicopter came into his eye line from across the horizon.
"An offer you can't refuse."
He both loved and hated that line now. Yeah, damn straight. Dan Dresner thought to himself as he gazed at the holographic archive that spun before him like a god come down from the heavens. It was all just so…beautiful. And he'd been involved—hell, he'd poured his mind and soul into it!
He didn't know where he was, who these people really were, or what side they were truly on, but he knew this could be used for both good and evil. The archive was unlike anything ever put together before. For once he felt a part of something revolutionary. Unlike his work for Stryker, his ability was used for knowledge's sake…for now anyway. He wasn't naïve. He knew that if Fury was just another Stryker—that all his work would go to mobilize destruction, human and mutant alike…but he didn't believe Fury was like Stryker.
Dan couldn't say he knew the man, but he knew what he'd read from him: Nick Fury was a man who loved his country and would do anything to defend it, short of the atrocities committed by evil men he'd fought against his whole military career. As far as Dan was concerned, he was doing good work, and was no longer ashamed or taking his powers for granted.
"Archeion, access mutant database. Codename: Archive" he instructed.
"Archive not registered, sir. Would you like to register?" The feminine-voiced computer asked.
"Yes" he responded, stepping into the middle of the hologram just as two electrodes descended from the central pedestal's ceiling console to attach to his temples. "Commence."
He closed his eyes and began to load into the computer all his self-knowledge about his mutant persona: Archive. Dan wasn't going to be a coward; he was committed to the whole process, good and bad of it. If it meant that he was now part of some list, so be it. There was no turning back, and for once, he wasn't scared of having to move forward into the uncertain future.
Highlights of the Iranian Revolution played out on the screen mounted on the wall, the sound muted. The rest of the modern penthouse was sterile and utilitarian save for the dazzling view of Tokyo behind the plush couch she was lounging on as she watched the television. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rallied the crowds as the new Supreme Leader, and Isabela couldn't help muse ambivalently on how close she had played a part in any of it. It seemed to her that no matter how much she strove to remain distant from the mainstream world, she always found herself ensnared in sequences of events that would shape the present and future of a society. It was all too close for comfort.
Standing, she turned her back on the inset television that took up most of the wall and set her attention on the amazing view from her penthouse window.
It was yet another tower, separated from all the buildings around her, but unlike her place in NYC, it was much colder and severe. The style suited her lately, uncluttered and serene, albeit post-modern. After leaving Kyoto, she'd spent weeks on end staring out the window, just as she was now, wondering about her place in the world. Her beliefs had been shaken, undermined by the whirlwind she'd been swept up in, and all she could do was reflect on it all from the detached objectivity afforded to her by the beast within.
The viper…the animal inside of her had always been there to guide her. It would always be there for her, and during times of great soul searching, it was there to remind her: You are lethal. You are vicious. You are mighty. And you are me. We are indestructible and unattainable.
This time, she wavered. Looking at her reflection in the glass, she stared into her preternatural gaze and thought that she was not alone. There were other animals like her out there, just as indestructible and fierce as she, but not as unrelentingly detached from the world. She had already crossed paths with one, and there were times when Victor weighed on her mind so persistently that she wondered if it wasn't time for her to rethink her path.
You'll cross paths again. If you choose to be his then…we will be his.
The primordial whisper assured her, and she retreated to it, glad to be fortified by the gesture and soothed in the irrevocable acceptance of fate being what she would make. Isabela looked down on the world below, hope blossoming within her for the new decade before her and the absence of guilt she felt from the one past her.
He much preferred subzero temperatures to sub-Saharan heat any day. The only problem with the cold climate was that blood would ice over and crystallize under his claws, which made them ache if he didn't pick them clean. Otherwise, the cold always gave him some sick form of comfort.
Victor made his way through the knee-deep snow, unfazed by the wind that whipped around him and obscured the landscape ahead. He was deep in the Northwest Territories, probably closer to the border of Yukon by now. The solitude of the almost polar landscape was an excellent place for his next rendezvous. Even with the modern conveniences of snowmobiles, most humans couldn't navigate the terrain. It was cruel and hostile—just like him.
Smirking, he scraped some of the frost that was collected along the fur of his jaw and made his way over an incline that camouflaged the secret base. He effortlessly trekked down to the unsecured series of structures, sniffing the air for any signs of vehicle exhaust. Looking east, he spotted the hangar and headed in route to it. Pushing the heavy side door open, Victor kicked the door closed after him, sealing the snow and howling wind outside as he loped over to the man sitting on the steps of the armored military helicopter. Which military? Victor didn't know and didn't care.
"What part of 'I'm on vacation' dontcha understand, huh Hudson?" Victor groused acerbically as he approached the man, who was busying himself by lighting the cigarette dangling on his lip.
"The part where you come here for some R & R. Figured you were more bored than needing to relax" Hudson responded, inhaling deep and letting the puff of smoke exhale in a cloud from his nostrils. "Just cuz I said there were no supervisors doesn't mean yer not supposed to check in, Creed. And by the way, since when did you get into wearing fur? Kind of a weird look on yah, buddy" he straight-faced joked as he puffed away on his cigarette.
Dusting the melting snow off of his fur-lined trenchcoat, Victor snorted, "This ain't your mother's furs, asshole. 'Only wear what I kill, and this grizzly sure put up a fight; couldn't let the pelt go to waste." The other man whistled in response. "You didn't come here to give me shit about my fashion sense. What do yah want?" Victor muttered and gave him a calculating look that told the other man he hadn't trekked so far for low-rent shit.
Tucking the cigarette between his fingers, Hudson grabbed a folder that was sitting on the top step of the helicopter before tossing it to Victor. "Yah probably heard about this during your tenure with Striker." When Victor tilted his head in that dangerous way, Hudson quickly added, "A tenure we will never discuss, I remember."
Eyeing him sharply before pulling the form out of the file, Victor grunted and skimmed the old CIA form. His eyes lingered over a codename and he looked over at Hudson before looking at the name again, shoving the form back into the file and tossing it back at him. "Yeah, I heard about it, and I ain't interested" he stated with irrevocable steel in his tone.
"Yah sure?" the man said coolly as he stubbed out his cigarette on the side of the stairs.
"You guys can't afford me for this job. I'd charge double if I was interested, and I'm not interested" Victor remarked, his thumbnails idly flicking his other nails in succession, pinky to forefinger and visa versa. It was a telltale sign that he was impatient.
Hudson read the gesture and stood. "Alright. Not gunna lie, I was hoping you'd take it. Yer the only guy I could think of with the balls to go after him—"
"You fuckin' suck at flattery, Hudson, so can it. And do me a favor—don't fucking patronize me again" he let the deadly edge of his tone weigh the air before continuing, "Don't think just cuz I'll kill my own kind for money that I'm gonna help your kind tip the scales back in your collective favor."
"Figured you for a non-political kind of mutant, Creed, wouldn't peg you for a Homo-Superior—"
"So you pegged me for a self-loathing mutant bastard who'd wanna off a guy who thinks mutants are superior to humans? Last time I checked, you don't get paid to figure or peg—you get paid to hand out missions and get the fuck out of the way of the masters. And this fuckin' master is sayin' he's gonna pass on this…understood?" Victor snarled hostilely, watching as the other man shrugged and put his hands up in surrender of the argument.
"Got it, Creed. Sorry I disturbed your vay-kay. Just do me a favor: when yer done with the uninhabitable solitude, give me a call. I'll have something lined up for yah…" Hudson stated and with that, gave Victor a backwards wave as he turned and walked up the steps into the state of the art helicopter.
Victor watched the steps recede and the helicopter seal shut just as the roof of the hangar split and opened upwards. The advanced aircraft ascended into the howling elements, leaving the feral to huff and turn back towards the way he came. By the time he was stalking up the incline the helicopter was humming out of sight. Sprinting through the treeline, Victor prowled on all fours and galloped the rest of the way back to his hideout.
He had to admit, for the Sabertooth to be considered capable enough to be asked to take out Erik Lensherr was testament to how he'd come up in the world. Sure, he didn't take the job, but it meant he wasn't a lowly mercenary; he wasn't a guy you'd call to take out third world garbage anymore. More importantly, he was a man with options, someone to be up-sold and feared.
A smirk tugged on his boyish lips as he stared into the fire of his rustic hearth. It was a new decade, and a new day for Victor Creed. All the things—her—that he'd been longing for were pushed to the background in his mind. His solitary spirit was fortified and his pride swelled from the thought that he was at a place he'd always wanted to be: free, unburdened by guilt, and powerful in his own right. When it came down to it, he was the king of his mountain, and he liked his odds at staying on top. Most importantly, he was genuinely proud for the first time since he and Jimmy embraced their natures and formed their brotherhood close to a hundred years before.
The animal and the man were in true harmony…and nothing would change or stand in the way of that now.
THANKS FOR READING! PLEASE REVIEW!
This is my FIRST COMPLETED story! Thank you so much to all of you who reviewed, followed the story, and made it part of your reading enjoyment! I want to thank all the friends I've made through this creative process for sharing their thoughts and praise; it really helped motivate and inspire me.
I hope that some of you are asking: "Is that it for these two?" Because my answer is simple: No, and if you want more, please let me know! Isabela and Victor have been huge characters; very influential to my writing, and when I started this story, it was as an interlude to something much more layered and prolific. But I will hold off on any sequel plans until I get feedback from all of you; if you want more, I'll definitely oblige. And if you don't, that's okay too. I'd like to know either way!
Thank you Liev Schreiber for portraying such an amazing and nuanced character!