Sabretooth: Blood Song – Chapter 6 – Bridges

I find it hard to live with all my choices
It’s time to turn a deaf ear to those voices
Did you ever think to ask my opinion
Did you ever think to ask if I’m ok?

I’ve burned down every bridge that I’ve found
Now I limit myself to a six gun quota
I’ve played down every feelin’ I’ve felt
And I bottled them up ‘til the well ran over

Give every indication that you’re mended
Take every rule you come across and bend it
And did you ever think to ask my opinion?
And did you ever think to ask if I’m ok?

It feels so good to be numb
I hate what I have become
It feels so good to be numb

I’ve burned down every bridge that I’ve found
Now I limit myself to a six gun quota
I’ve played down every feelin’ I’ve felt
And I bottled them up ‘til the well ran over

~ 6 Gun Quota (Seether)

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Author’s Note: A gentle reminder: this story (and most stories in this series after it) contains spoilers for the stories before. Specifically, if you haven’t read Redemption, this chapter gives away a major plot point in that story. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm  (@MET_Fic)

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A roar of rage woke him. Eyes snapping open as he sat bolt upright, he saw the torn and devastated remains of his bed all around him – again. The sun glowed dully through the closed curtains and he wasn’t alone in the room.

The safe house. “When tha hell did I get back here?”

Lenusya was sitting in the dark by the door. “Just before dawn. Your inner cat dragged you in, wearing your furry birthday suit. Madame Beaumarchais had your clothes sent over this afternoon, via parcel service. I’m not sure why, though – they were ripped to shreds. It’s a good thing you had so many of those coats made. The phone survived this time, at least.”

“Did she send anythin’ with ‘em?”

“What, a severed head? She sent a note. She’ll charge your standing account, no, you didn’t kill anyone, and come back soon. You don’t remember how you –?”

“No.” Letting his head sink into his hands, he wasn’t sure he wanted to pull the pieces together. “That was one clusterfuck o’ a head trip.”

“I thought you liked that boy.”

“Shut tha fuck up.”

The old woman grunted and stood. “Tsk, tsk – you’re in one piece. Protein for breakfast, or was it not quite that good of an evening?”

“Water, lots o’ it, an’ sirloin – skip tha garnish. Ya wanna play-by-play?”

“Not if you can’t remember how it ends.”

“Could give ya a li’l brother – he asked t’ come an’ live with me, tha upstart pup. Shit, it’s twenty grand t’ rent ‘im fer tha night, without tha suite; maybe ‘lease t’ own’ is cheaper. I’d even share. What ya think o’ havin’ a mutant shape-shifter whore on staff?”

Lenusya snorted with amusement. “From the look of you, your ‘staff’ needs a rest.”

Popping a claw on the middle finger he lifted in salute, he sneered at her. “Blow me.”

“You could just stop seeing that boy. Once they fall in love, they start being a problem.”

He glared at her. “Spoken like a twat that never had t’ settle fer hookers cuz she don’t look like a feral horror.”

“I don’t want to listen to that sort of talk. You aren’t ugly. Terrifying people is often a choice you make gleefully – don’t expect them to feel romantic afterward. I thought you would have learned that after the mess with that X-Force girl.”

The growl erupted, low and threatening, as all of his claws slid out. “Ya lousy bitch… Talk t’ me like that again an’ I’ll fuckin’ gut ya.”

“It’s the truth, which you always say you value from me, so no, I won’t be intimidated by your tantrums. If you want a woman to stay, or a man, for that matter, stop raping them on the first ‘date’. Feral nature as an excuse only goes so far. You have to change your actions if you want different results. That metamorph is merely another excuse to indulge in more destructive behavior that isn’t teaching you a damn thing you should be learning.”

“Care t’ know how many times yer teasin’ wound me up t’ go out an’ indulge in all manner o’ ‘destructive behavior’? Kinda makes ya complicit, don’t it?”

Sighing, she turned to go. “Victor, I’m simply not going to do this. A telepathic accident with your French lady love put you on edge. Now you want to pick a fight because whatever that boy did last night upset you. Go pick it with him. I’ll speak to you again when you can be rational.” She left in silence, closing the doors behind her.

“Fuck off, ya bleedin’ cunt!” he yelled after her. Scrubbing his face and whiskers with his palms, Victor sighed and slumped where he sat. “What tha fuck, Morph? Keep diggin’ in an’ tryin’ t’ turn me int’ some fuckin’ weak-ass pussy ‘round yer li’l finger an’ I’ll figure out how t’ make tha scars stick.”

He rose to grab a quick shower, growling at the strips of ruined bedding that tried to tangle him up.

~ ~ ~

Guessing that his foul mood was also attached to his appetite, she had breakfast waiting. His plate at the head of the long formal dining room table held a trio of sirloin steaks, warm yet barely cooked. A huge glass stein of cold water sat next to the plate. He sat in his bathrobe at the chair in front of it with a huff and began to eat using his claws to stab the meat. She hadn’t set out any silverware.

Lenusya sat at her customary place to his right, but she had already eaten lunch. She was younger again, properly matronly, in a costume that reminded him of a stylish and modern June Cleaver. Her hair was salt-and-pepper black, the light makeup she wore not too showy. She was calmly reading a copy of the Chicago Tribune, with the paper in front of her on the table. His murder spree was still front page news.

“What’re ya plannin’ t’ do t’day?” he muttered, not in the mood to apologize for his temper, but hating the silence.

“I’m going to go pick up your latest rescued waif. Ryu assures me the hospital has been paid enough money to eschew asking me too many questions – though I imagine Ms. Frederick Williams will have plenty to ask.”

“They always do. If she wants t’ ask direct, get ‘er phone number fer me.”

“You could get your own dates,” she teased, tossing him a wink. “Shall I attempt to explain to her your feral felony behavior when she met you?”

“Knock yerself out; ya know what ya can an’ can’t say.” He finished up the meat, chugged the water, and rose. Stopping at her chair, he set his hands on her shoulders and sighed. “We good?”

“Of course, Victor – if a few outbursts were going to chase me away, you wouldn’t have watched me grow old.”

“Even though ya never stay that way…” He kissed the top of her head. “Tell Goldilocks I said ‘hiya’.”

“I set a new coat out in your dressing room.”

“Thanks, doll.”

Victor dressed in his usual slumming costume of coat and heavy custom boots with jeans. A gray with blue sleeves Chicago Cubs baseball t-shirt was stretched over his chest, the team logo between the words cracked slightly with age. The fat and worn brown leather wallet on a chain was stuffed into his back pocket and his new phone, now with metal case, in the inner breast pocket of the coat finished it all off.

He’d braided the ponytail and worked his favorite carved bone beads into the loose strands around his face, since he wasn’t going hunting. He had finally shaved his chin and cleaned up the sideburns, but as usual it didn’t help him look any less wild. The fangs sticking up on either side of his broad, cleft chin pretty much ruined any civilized shave, even if the hair was hiding his ears.

In an effort to obscure his feral eyes and to tempt any ruffians, he donned his Luxuriator Style 23 Canary Diamond sunglasses – $65,000 a pop with ivory buffalo horn temples and 18 carat gold frames, lined with 132 hand-cut paved diamonds around the bridge and corners. The dark lenses adjusted to the light and the 2 carat square cut canary accent diamond on the right side lens at the corner complimented his hair nicely.

He threw on his favorite Bvlgari gold and black Diagono line watch and headed for the stairs. The trappings helped with a flagging ego, too – plus, the watch was one of the models he’d seen Tony Stark wearing in his magazine collection.

Lenusya appeared in the doorway to the garage, Bentley car keys in hand. “Oh my, look at you. The old Cubs shirt with the bling makes a baffling statement.” She offered her cheek when he reached her and he kissed it. Her hand stroked down his coat sleeve. “You are visual devastation, darling. This mohair and wool blend is so soft, I keep wanting to spread one over my reading chair. May I ask what your plans are?”

“I gotta go bend Madame Beaumarchais’s ear. Dunno how long I’ll be, so don’t wait up.”

“I won’t. If you happen to want a more pleasant distraction, I left a flyer on the table in the foyer for you. It has to do with a bit of news I tried to tell you when you arrived, but you weren’t listening.” Smiling, she tapped his watch face with a fingertip and turned to enter the garage. “Would you like a lift over there?”

“Naw, in tha mood t’ walk.”

“Trolling for tasty yet utterly stupid thieves?” With a laugh, she disappeared behind the door.

Victor didn’t pause when he spotted a single sheet of slightly grubby folded paper on the table. Just to humor her, he stuffed it into the inner breast pocket of his coat with the phone before stepping out, locking up, and walking off.

~ ~ ~

A chilly wind blew in the squalid streets of Back of the Yards in Chicago’s South Side as the afternoon sun tried and failed to warm and brighten up the concrete jungle. The random patches of grass, scrub weeds, and wildflowers couldn’t  manage to make the place look pretty either, but Victor had always been as fond of squalor as he was of luxury.

His latest bespoke black coat swept the ground behind him, its high collar pulled up to partially hide his face. The custom military style boots were huge, allowing his claws to be extended inside them. He had kept his slanted and pointed ears hidden under his hair and let the braid sway at the back of the coat. He kept his claws retracted as he walked toward Claudette’s place on South Ashland.

Catching his reflection in the smudged window of a dilapidated building, he smiled – not at himself, but at the worried expressions of the street toughs who either hurried past him or hung back. The human sheep who fancied themselves to be hunters could not be fooled – they knew a predator walked among them. Perhaps one of the fancy cars stored at the mansion might have tempted them better, but he needed the walk to think, and to help clear his head.

A rampant and suspicious fear-fueled urge to spill blood in order to stop the need for fear was beating savagely inside his heart. Hurting Claudette was out of the question, but the beast within still raged, spurred by instinct.

If those telepath freaks can track an’ control me again, life ain’t gonna be worth much, in short order – just as soon as they realize it. Fuck… Maybe Lenusya’s right an’ it only worked cuz it was Claudette.

~ ~ ~

Victor strode through the foyer and the main salon. When Morpheus stood and called out to him, he snarled at the boy and headed for Claudette’s stairs without hesitation. The door was unlocked as expected, but he ignored her French palace illusion and simply found her by scent as she sat at her lighted vanity.

She was dressed in a scarlet corset and petticoat with her platinum hair already piled on her head in elaborate structural curls and coils. A black bustle was waiting on the foot of the bed across the room, with another elaborate French gown beside it – this one in dark gray with red and black bows and ribbons.

When he met her lavender gaze in the mirror, the makeup brush in her pale hand stopped dusting blush onto her cheek. “Are you angry wit’ me still, Veektor?”

Arching an eyebrow at her, he sighed. He’d spotted his stout wooden chair mere feet from the vanity. “Did ya move that cuz ya could track me comin’ here?” He grabbed it, twirled it backward, and straddled it, folding his arms across the back and leaning his chin on his furry wrists. His sunglasses had lightened when he entered the brothel, but under her makeup lights, they were darkening again.

“I moved eet when I felt you enter zee building; you know zee barrier illusions alert me. I ‘ad ‘oped you would come to talk wit’ me.”

“I am angry, but not specifically at ya. It happened. I need t’ know if it was just with ya, or if I’m wide open an’ at risk now.”

Putting the brush down, she faced him. “Tell me ‘ow you want to find zis out? I do not wish to upset you again.”

“Try t’ do it, awake an’ aware. I dunno how t’ fight it anyhow, but I won’t try t’. I hafta know.”

She gently slipped his sunglasses off and set them on her vanity table. He blinked in the lights as his pupils became vertical slits. Her hands cupped his face over the sideburns as she stared into his eyes.

Victor fought not to growl but couldn’t suppress the shudder that ran down his spine. His hackles were rising even as his fingers began to tremble, aching to allow the claws to tear free.

“Try to project to me,” she whispered. “It does not matter what you focus on.”

He didn’t want to think about Bonnie, or Morpheus-as-Bonnie, but the images abruptly flooded his thoughts. To chase them away, he stared into her lavender iridescent eyes and thought about Stark instead, on the last red carpet he’d stalked him at, the event itself forgotten.

Claudette slumped a little and let go of his face. “I can feel echoes of strong emotions, but I cannot breach your mind.”

Victor put a finger under her chin and lifted her head to look at him again. “I know ya miss it, darlin’ – but it ain’t safe fer me. So tha other night was … a fluke?”

“A ‘fluke’, yes – relaxed familiarity, as I said before. You are ‘ealing, my sweet, we know zat eez ‘appening – you should be aware eet may ‘eal more wit’ time, no? Zis eez a risk to keep in mind.”

“It’s a risk I ain’t gonna easily forget ‘bout, trust me.” He stood and she did too. When she opened her arms to him, he accepted her embrace and held her close.

“I am so sorry you were frightened…”

“Do me a favor, huh?”

“Of course.”

“Tell Morpheus not t’ play Bonnie again unless I ask fer that. Told ya I couldn’t cope with it an’ I def didn’t.”

“You said you wanted zat…? Eet was why you showed ‘er to me.”

“I know… I guess I ain’t ready fer it.”

“Did you … love zis woman?”

Victor broke the embrace and got some distance. “I dunno what t’ call it. I wanted t’ call it love, I wanted t’ be … somebody who can do that, who can have that. She turned me inside out, matched my heat stroke fer stroke, an’ she wanted me first time she saw me.” His head lowered, his hands fisting at his sides. “Never felt tha things she made me feel, never had nobody make my body respond like she did. I thought I’d kill those bastards an’ we’d go off somewhere… She wanted that, she told me … she did.”

“Eet was not your fault, mon cher; zey poisoned ‘er before you even met – but I am so sorry…”

He returned to the vanity and picked up his sunglasses. Popping them on, he gripped her shoulders and kissed her cheek. “I just know … I wasn’t ready t’ lose ‘er an’ if I could get ‘er back… If there was a way…” His thoughts took a darker turn and his body shuddered again. He turned away from her. “I can remember tha feelin’s, but half tha time … I dunno even what t’ call ‘em. Maybe I shouldn’t try t’ remember – that shit ain’t meant fer tha likes o’ me.”

“Per’aps I could ‘elp – Morpheus for zee body and I for zee illusions? Even eef only to ‘elp you let ‘er go?”

Victor sighed. “I can see through illusions, too, ya know that. It ain’t real with Morph; he can’t smell like ‘er, an’ no matter what he says, he wouldn’t wanna be stuck playin’ a dead girl fer tha rest o’ ‘is life, neither. Shit, I dunno ‘nuff ‘bout ‘er t’ even tell ‘im how t’ be ‘er – ain’t that just as pathetic as it gets?”

“Oh, Veektor…” she whispered, her tears rising.

Growling in pure self-disgust, he left her and headed back down the stairs. When he reached the main salon, Morpheus wasn’t there. The boy’s scent trailed down a back hall followed by the smell of the mid-life crisis idiot who had been pawing at him before. For a moment, he was tempted to go crash that bullshit; with a snarl, he kept on and stormed out.

West 49th turned into South Loomis and he eventually ended up at Sherman Park. A couple of dog walkers decided to take it elsewhere and in moments he had the place to himself. Crossing one of the stone lagoon bridges, he hauled himself up onto the rail to sit with his boots hanging over the water.

So my dumbass brain is safe – fer now. Bloody stupid t’ hunt ‘til I gorge myself int’ a gut an’ think it wasn’t gonna jumpstart tha fuckin’ healin’ factor like a rocket. He sat quietly and watched a bunch of nervous ducks swim farther down the lagoon. What now? Ain’t gotta job t’ worry ‘bout ‘til November.

He sighed and fished out his phone. Checking texts, he couldn’t keep a smile off of his mug when he saw the photo Perrin had sent.

Cub looks like a fuckin’ burrito. The picture showed his son Silas wrapped up in a blanket and sleeping in Perrin’s arms. Could fly back ‘til tha next job – if Tabs ain’t there… The memory of her scent sank into his bones and made him feel restless. If I went t’ L.A., would she see me? He left the texts and stared at her number in his contacts until his hesitation made him snarl. What tha fuck would ya say, asshole? Gonna whine like a damn bitch?

Glaring at the phone, he turned it off and shoved it back into its case in the coat pocket. The folded paper Lenusya had left for him crinkled. Irritated, and thinking about wadding it up and throwing it at a duck, he pulled it out and unfolded it. It was a street flyer for that nerd conference back in the rich part of town. Sneering at it, he started to crush it in his fist and then stopped to stare at the photo in the bottom left corner.

“Fuck me runnin’…” he whispered. It was a shoddy black and white photo of one of the guest speakers, slated to give a couple of speeches and be on a few discussion panels. “Tony fuckin’ Stark.”

~ ~ ~

Looking down the street beyond the edge of the Loop, his far-seeing eyes picked out the glitz of the shops and restaurants between the towering giants of the financial district. The transition line, a few blocks before the Loop, marked a gradual change in the city’s appearance, as if a spell of prosperity cast on the financial and business hub could only reach so far.

Somewhere in that hive was a prime distraction, and if the man had a suite with a good enough view, Victor wouldn’t have to worry about being bored or sinking into a funk. Walking on toward it again, he pulled out his phone, turned it on, and called Lenusya.

“Ya coulda just told me Stark was in town,” was his greeting. They never bothered with hellos or small talk on a phone.

“I did tell you, but you were woolgathering instead of listening.”

“He’s really there – ya saw ‘im?”

“I did.”

“Sober worth a damn?”

“Of course not.”

“Surprised he bothered t’ show up. Tha man flakes a lot.”

“He made a joke at the panel I saw with Ryu, about coming out to see if he could lure the mysterious Oscar Ollre into showing up as a surprise guest. I can only assume he’s been disappointed, or the headline ‘Ollre is Doc Ock’ might have bumped your handiwork off of the front page.”

“Hmm… Maybe I’ll give it a shot – criminal t’ criminal.”

“Odds are he won’t answer the doorbell.”

Victor grunted. “I wasn’t thinkin’ o’ ringin’ tha bell.”

 

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Author’s Note: Technically, Google Maps says that the address I’m giving for Claudette’s brothel is a Jackson Hewitt Tax Service building, but in the street view images, it is boarded up and says “For Rent”. It looked like the perfect building though, so I’m using it. June Cleaver is the mom from the TV show Leave it to Beaver. At this point in my Sabretooth series timeline, my Doc Ock fic Of Dreams and Dust is over, but in reality, I haven’t actually finished writing it yet – my bad. I’ll blame Victor for distracting me. However, I plan to avoid spoilers for the most part. Ever since I placed Claudette, Morpheus, and Lenusya in Chicago, I knew I wanted to write a scene where Victor meets with Otto Octavius – in the next chapter, it happens! Yay! Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm  (@MET_Fic)

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