Face Your Fears

By Nova Zion

Summary: Fifth in a series of five stories dealing with Lucca's past and present life and her connection with Victor Creed.
All characters belong to Marvel except for Lucca. Lucca is mine, so please ask for permission to use her. The storyline is mine also, but I am making no money off of this. If you'd like to archive the series, please e-mail [email protected] Likewise, if you'd like to send me some feedback, much appreciated by the way, please do.

Lucca swallowed another steaming hot mouthful of the chicken noodle soup they'd had for lunch the other day. The thick silver thermos she cupped in her mitten covered hands warmed them into feeling again and Lucca lay her head down on her knees, thinking as she held the container to her lips again and took another sip. Warmth flooded her senses and Lucca looked around at the cold, twirling snowflakes near her as she sat outside, thinking.

She'd been here for a few weeks now, almost three in fact, and had managed to convince herself into believing she belonged here. But the truth was that she didn't belong anywhere, especially not with the people Vic had said hated people like themselves. Tears stung her eyes at the thought of Victor still, flooding them until they were blurry and she was depressed again. Her sessions with the Professor were going well, almost a breakthrough the other day when she'd slowly began to let down her shields during a meeting.

Lucca smiled a bit and looked out over the frozen pond in front of her. Winter here was nice, not like in Canada, and Christmas would be here soon. In the past two weeks, the women of the X-Men had taken her shopping almost every day so she could have a whole stock of new clothes to wear around instead of hand-me-downs from them and men's old t-shirts. And she was pretty sure that the resident Cajun had taken a liking to her at least a little with the way he was helping her out all the time and trying to be near her.

"Hey sugah..." a voice piped up behind Lucca and she turned slightly on the rock, noticing Rogue standing behind her, though she'd smelt her coming a while before. "Mind if Ah sit down an' have a chat with y'all?"

"No, go ahead." Lucca moved over slightly and pulled the baby blue beret a little farther down over her hair as Rogue took the soup from her hand. "What do you want to talk about?"

"Nothin' much in particular. Maybe how y'all got to be with a man like Victor Creed?" Rogue's heavy southern accent stood out as she asked the question. Taking a sip of the hot soup, she smiled and looked back at Lucca then at the pond. "Y'know, if y'all wanted t' talk. Ah never got t' hear the explanation y' gave Storm and Jean."

"Victor saved me from my parent's." she mumbled unintelligibly, curling her knees to her chest again in mental protection. "I haven't even gotten to that part of my session with the Professor. My dad beat me so bad a few years back that I spent out my healing factor and right when he was going to set in on me again, Victor came in and killed them."

"Oh." Rogue's cheery facade dropped slightly and she let her gaze wander to the girl beside her. "Ah'm...Ah'm sorry I asked ya, sugah. I didn't think it would be something that bad..."

"It's okay." Lucca shrugged and began to trace patterns in the snow beside her with a stick, concentrating on it strongly as Rogue squirmed beside her. "Victor took good care of me after that. Much better than my folks. I even got to eat regular and everything."

Rogue nodded. It had never occurred to her that someone so young would be glad just to eat regularly and have someone say they love you every once in a while. She knew from Lucca's past telling's that the girl hadn't been feed normally, hadn't had someone there for her at all. She reminded her of herself at that age.

Rogue looked at the girl and reached out to pat the blue wool covered hand lying next to her on the rock, sighing. "Ah'm just glad he was there for y'all sugah, and that he didn't hurt ya none too much." Standing, Rogue picked up the thermos. "Aren't ya cold out here in just that light parka and some boots? Ah'm gonna take the thermos in, the soup's getting cold too. Are ya comin'?"

"In a bit, I gotta think first." Lucca tapped her right temple and then waved the older woman away, turning back to the pond where orange and gold light was reflecting on the iced surface. "I'll come in after sunset maybe."

"Okay, sugah. If not, expect a mighty pissed off southern woman to come lookin' for ya." Rogue patted Lucca's shoulder and then turned, the snow crunching under her boots as she headed back to the mansion. After she'd gone, it was eerily quiet in the bush, save for a few cardinals chirping away in the pine trees nearby. Bare branches shook in the wind and Lucca shivered a bit before turning on her 'auto-pilot' and ignoring the chill in the winter air.

The light was fading fast and Lucca lifted her head to look at the darkening sky. First stars were coming out in the night air, sparkling like diamonds in the inky blackness. Lucca's breath came out in a white cloud as she exhaled the breath she'd been holding and took in a new one. It was so beautiful here.

"Hey Logan." Lucca turned a bit to look over her shoulder at the man who was crunching through the woods to her left. "What're ya doing out here?"

"Came to get ya inside. The temperature's dropping fast and dinner's being set out right now." he sat down beside her and took out a cigar, lighting the end before inhaling the acrid yellow smoke. "Came fer a walk too. Needed to clear my mind."

Lucca smiled and nodded at the man beside her, looking out over the pond again. A breeze lifted suddenly and her white hair whipped around wildly behind her head, swirling behind her as snowflakes twirled and crashed into their two still bodies. Lucca scratched her cheek near the tattoo, the wool mitten cold against her cooling skin. "I guess I'll go in if dinner's ready."

Logan nodded and stood with her, boots crunching in the snow as they walked towards the house. "Tell the others I'll be in for dinner in a few minutes. I'm just gonna finish this stogie."

Nodding, Lucca chuckled and pushed the door open to the mansion, kicking her boots against the side wall and doorframe. The door shut with a firm click of the latch and Logan turned back to the bush, intent on following through with what he had really come outside for. Dropping the half-smoked cigar with a sigh, Logan began back out the bush, lifting his head every few feet to sniff the air in concentration.

* * * *

Victor Creed tightened the parka he wore around his chest, squatting down low in the snow covered bushes. He'd been lucky so far, almost too lucky. He was upwind in way of the wind and his scent was blowing the other way. He'd been able to break off a tree branch and wipe his footprints away as he made his way into the Xavier grounds without notice. But luck only lasted so long before it changed it's mind.

Victor had been watching Lucca as she sat alone on the rock, about to jump out and surprise her when the stupid runt had come into the scene and ushered her into the mansion with a lie about the temperature and dinner. Which meant his luck was gone and the beast-man had smelled him in the bush.

"What're ya doing here Creed?" Logan's gruff voice rang out clear and strong in the lifting wind, almost right behind him. The raw 'schlukt' of his claws springing loose from their housing in his arms rang out around the two of them and Victor turned, chuckling at the little man.

"I came to take 'Lucca' back from you X-wimps. And possibly kill you all at the same time." he growled, claws springing in the cold air. Victor leaped on top of Wolverine, crying out happily as they began to fight; claws scraping flesh, sharp bone spikes stabbing deep. This was what he lived for; an equal fight with a good opponent that could easily catch him in as many ways as he could him. Blood and wounds, the pain and the numbing of the rationalizing part of his brain, taking away the pains in his gut at holding back.

* * * *

Lucca's smile faltered as Bobby handed her the potatoes, grinning like a madman at her. Placing the bowl down as gently as possible, Lucca renewed her smile and slowly excused herself from the table as a few of the other team members left unexpectedly. She quickly picked up her plate and moved away from the dining room, pushing open the swinging door with her hip before leaving. Looking around in the kitchen as she entered and found it empty, she started out to where she could hear arguing in the back hallway to the secret sub-basement.

The bickering was heated between the woman known as Jean Grey and the man known as Cyclops. Moving closer to the doorway leading downstairs, Lucca jumped with a slight gasp as a light hand fell onto her shoulder. Spinning around, she was surprised to see Logan behind her looking healthy but dressed in tattered and torn clothing; definitely in worse shape than when she'd last seen him outside less than an hour before.

"God Logan...what happened to you in such a short time?" Lucca ushered him to a chair and made him sit down as she took as seat next to him, pulling it close to inspect some cuts that were healing rather quickly. Blood was already staining the shirt he wore and his pants were dripping the crimson liquid onto the white linoleum below their chairs. Lucca fought back the strong urge to gag as a sharp pain in her stomach made her wince. The coppery smell invaded her senses and she groaned, turning away for a moment.

"He's here kid." was all the man before her said. Lucca turned slowly, jaw tightened as she glanced around warily, searching the shadows with alert eyes. "He's being held in the cells downstairs."

"What do you mean? Is this some sick joke? I thought you were better than Bobby!" Lucca stood and wiped some tears from her eyes, moving to the island counter under the flourescent light bulbs to escape the bloody smell and the image of pain on his face. "He can't be here. He just can't..."

"He is. I fought him outside and he's definitely here. Jeannie flooded his mind and he dropped. Chuck ordered him to be taken downstairs and restrained." Logan stood and went over to her, ignoring the way she turned and looked at him. Her eyes were clouded over in anger, dark even as they reflected the light from above. Her hair fanned around her face, deep gray shadows hiding her tear trails down her pristine cheeks. Lower lip trembling, Lucca sank onto the stool beside her and lay her head down on her arms, shuddering away from Logan's touch. "Kid, I don't want him here and I don't know what you want to do. But, I think you need to at least have a chance to decide for yourself."

Lucca sobbed and shook her head. "I miss him Logan, but he...he hurt me a lot too. He was good to me, but he wasn't you know? And I probably sound nuts, but I...I..."

"I know girl. Maybe you should go to your room to be alone to work it out. Figure out what you want done with him and come back down to tell me. I'll deal with Chuck and Cyke."

Lucca raised her head, slack jawed and staring. "What do you mean I should figure out what should be done with him? I can't..." she started. Logan nodded and sat down next to her on another wooden bar stool. Taking one of her hands, he looked at her again with a pained expression in his eyes and she stood, shaking her head. "I can't..."

Turning quickly on her heel, Lucca fled through another swinging door and into the front hall, thumping up the stairs to her room as Logan shook his head and massaged the rapidly disappearing scars on his face.

* * * *

Remy LeBeau found the hallway dark as he climbed the back stairs in the kitchen. The women's dorm was extremely dark for the whole house being full, but he knew it was because Lucca was the only one upstairs, the others willing to give her space and stick to the rec room or living room for the night. Remy's demonically light-sensitive ruby and onyx eyes quickly adjusted to the dark and he made his way slowly down one turn to another hallway near the front stairs. Lucca's door was the only one with a thin rectangle of light under it and he stopped in front of it, waiting to see if she'd heard him coming down the hall. When no one called out, he raised his fist, rapping on the heavy wood slowly.

"Lucca?" Remy eased the door open and the pure and pristine white girl stretched on her side on the bed moved her hand, waving him away. "I came to see if you wanted anyt'in'? You didn't get a chance to eat anyt'in' at dinner..."

"N-No." she mumbled, voice choked with sobs held at bay. Long, white locks slipped across the bedspread as she lifted her head to look at him. Dropping it again as he kneeled down in front of her on the plush white carpeting, Lucca sighed miserably and closed her eyes, black lashes staining her cheeks as they covered the red rims of her eyelids. "I w-w-want to be a-alone."

"I don' t'ink so, chere. Dis Cajun got good feelin's 'bout t'in's like dis and you need someone to talk to." Remy touched her cheek softly, smiling as she opened her own uncanny eyes to glance at him. "Dat's better, you look nice wit' your eyes open."

Mouth stretching into a tiny smile, Lucca took the offered hand Remy held out and then closed her eyes again, tears glistening as they dropped to the blue bedspread underneath her thin body. "I don't know what's wrong. I want to see Vic again, but I'm not sure what to do...I'm falling apart..."

Remy sat down on the edge of the bed, leaning over to hug the girl as she cried. "The voices in my head are getting so strong, and I don't know what I'm thinking, or doing or what I even want. I can't remember anything except pain and confusion and fear..."

"Shhh..." Remy stroked her hair back from her face, clutching the sobbing teenager close to whisper in her ear. "Remy knows what it be like chere...I been dere before...'cause of Vic too..."

Lucca let go of the lean man, laying back as she stared at the ceiling. "I know." Fear filled her eyes, glistening as they were with the tears of sadness. Pain filled her stomach and she trembled with the control it was taking to not do something rash. Brushing hair from the Cajun's face, Lucca leaned forward and kissed his cheek softly, eyes closed as she sat back. "Vic told me about you and the Marauders. I know all about it." she whispered. "And I'm sorry."

"I don' t'ink you should see Vic again, chere." he mumbled. "A person like Victor Creed is bad news, even if he's good, 'cause he's always got de potential to be a bad boy. And I'm afraid he'd hurt you too bad one day, girl. An' den what gonna happen?"

"I can't think of that right now. All I need to concentrate on, is getting the help the Professor promised me and helping Vic at the same time. I know you all would watch out for me anyway and if anything happened, you'd be there..." Lucca stood, dropping Remy's hand as she did. Heading to the door, she left a partially stunned Cajun man sitting on her bed, watching her retreating back.

* * * *

The giant cell hall was dark, the shadows deep and cloaking all that was not lit by the red electrical power grid lit in one of the cell doorways. Lucca moved slowly toward it, each step seeming to echo in the still chamber. A part of her wondered what shape Victor would be in if the room was this quiet. She was quite sure he could hear her; he, after all, had enhanced senses as she did.

The pain in her stomach grew stronger as sad memories washed to the surface of her murky thoughts, reminding her of the terrible pain he could put her through physically and mentally. The cage she'd been told housed her lover was dark and she could hear his shallow breathing muffled in the center of the room, almost as though something was stopping it. Looking over her left shoulder, Lucca debated retreating back to the safe confines of the mansion and her newfound friends before a croak came from within.

"Ya come to chat?" he groaned, something creaking as he strained forward.

Lucca raised her shaky right hand and began to punch in numbers on the keypad, messing up the order three times before she finally got it right. Stepping into the dark, she shivered and the bars reappeared behind her, the red glow providing a slight touch of light into the room. Voice shaking, she stepped another step into the room and waited.

"Computer...l-lights on low." Lucca waited, glancing at the floor as the vocal computer command registered itself and reacted on it. Looking up to the ragged breaths Victor was taking, she gasped, tears stinging her eyes.

Victor Creed, the unstoppable-hulk-of-healing man, was suspended in the center of the small room. It was the same room they'd put her in when she had first been brought here to have the inhibitor collar taken off, but now it was worse. A throne and spine of thick adamantium metal sat in the center of the room, Victor seated in it. Thick restraints clasped his arms to his elbows at his side while leg bands and restraints chained up to just above his knees kept his legs at bay. A muzzle stretched his neck out, covering his mouth and nose and wrapping around to attached to the spine of the throne. Grunting, Victor strained slightly in his bonds and then went limp again as she neared.

"Get lost girl." he growled lightly before groaning in pain.

"Why? You don't want me to see you like this? I don't care." Lucca moved another step closer, stopping in front of him. She reached out softly to touch his forehead where some recorders were attached. "I thought you healed..." her voice quavered slightly and she straddled his lap to inspect the transmitters. "Why aren't you healing? You sound horrible, but you look fine..."

"The red headed witch fried my mind to bring me in. It takes a bit longer to heal the brain than it does the body." he groaned and Lucca touched his muzzle lightly, afraid to do anymore than that "Why're you here? Thought ya didn't ever wanna see me again."

A dry, rasping chuckle escaped Victor's throat at his last comment and he sat up a little straighter as Lucca leaned back against his chained hands, inspecting him thoroughly. "I had to know you were here. I didn't believe them when they told me."

Victor sneered at her around his muzzle, eyes sparkling cloudy blue in the dim light as he gazed at his lover. Lucca shook her head gently, white locks swinging behind her and then leaned forward to touch the transmitters again, tears blurring her vision. His blond hair covered the hairline transmitters and Lucca pushed it back, looking at his eyes. "I can't let you stay here like this. You'll go nuts chained up."

Victor opened his mouth to speak, but closed it, slumping down as he closed his eyes. "I'll be back Vic, and I'm coming to live down here with you, to help you heal. I can't let you stay like this." Lucca slipped down from her position in his lap and began back to the cell door, seeing that Logan was standing there waiting to unlock it. "He's coming out of that harness."

Lucca's voice trembled as she fought back tears, looking back at him. "He can't live like that." Logan growled a bit a began to guide her away from the cell, back out into the mansion where the Professor and Cyclops were standing to hear what her decision was.

* * * *

"Lucca, you must understand that I cannot let him go free, even within the confines of the cell, without supervision. He is simply to much of a threat." the Professor sat behind his heavy oak desk, fingers crossed in temples before his face. Studying the pacing girl, he sighed and crossed his arms in his lap, shaking his head. "Please take a seat, it will do you no good to wear yourself out pacing."

Lucca dropped like a brick into a high-backed red leather chair, sighing miserably. "You don't seem to understand that I want to live with him in the cell and be his supervision."

Logan looked at her from the window he'd been watching snowflakes out of. "I think she can do it Chuck. I don't trust Creed, but I think she's equal enough with him to help. I'd do it myself if we were still close buddies like we were in the past."

Lucca smiled gratefully at Logan, turning back quickly to gauge the Professor's opinion and retort. "I know she may be equal in power, strength and mind to be equalized with Victor, but it is simple foolishness to think that simply living with him could stop the psychosis that runs rampantly through his mind."

"Professor! I've been trying to tell you, over and over again." Lucca stood and dropped back into her seat with one glance from Logan as he walked to the chair next to hers. "The way you see him...he's not like that with me! Maybe a few times in the past few years, but mostly after encountering this team. He's quite nice with me, maybe not at first since I left him, but he's more...calm around me. You may think you're helping when you do all this stuff to him, but you don't! It drives him nuts being chained up!"

Professor Xavier's eyebrow arched and he stared intently at the teenager before him. "I regret to say that I have to agree with you on that point. When we had Victor restrained in the Danger Room holographic forest, he seemed fine. When we took that forest away and chained him to a metal system, his readings went off the scale. And, as Logan has informed me, the reading's were much more calm and controlled when you entered the room early this evening. Now please, let me think this over and tell you in the morning."

Lucca nodded hesitantly and then fled from the room, racing back down to the cell that held Victor in the cold sub-basement. "Vic?" A slight growl echoed amidst the shadows and Lucca looked inside, searching for the darkest shadow that held her lover. "He's thinking about it babe. I don't know what he'll say, but I'm going to sit out here until he sends someone to find me and give me an answer."

Another grunt from within accompanied the end of her statement and Lucca moved back to lean against the wall closest the cage entrance, unaware of the shadows holding another, more free wild man behind them. Logan listened carefully to the one-sided conversation, shaking his head as the tall, willowy young woman pledged to sit there all night with her caged lover.

* * * *

Fear coursed through Lucca's veins white-hot as she pressed the button to open the hydraulic door to the back sub-basement hall. The light hiss of the sliding metal chased away all calmness and Lucca felt her knees begin to shake as she took the step in. Shadow's still lined the hallway and the woman beside her patted her shoulder warmly, nudging her forward.

"Are ya changin' your mind sugah?" Rogue smiled a bit and moved forward down the hall. "Cameras are up, security's been upped, furniture's in there, food and checkup arrangements are set, clothes are in the dressers, personal items are in the bedroom and bathroom. But ya can still back out, girl."

Lucca stopped, fear filling her pupil-less eyes. "No, I came here to try staying with Vic again. I know what's waiting for me behind those bars, so don't interfere with it if anything happens. I know he's pissed right now."

Lucca stepped through the dropped bars as Jean and Rogue waited on the other side. The red electric glow purified itself again, shining into the dark. "I'm going to undo to restraints now Lucca. He should be out in less than a few seconds."

Stepping into the shadows, a high-pitch squeal resonated suddenly and disappeared just as quickly as the camera's in the corners of the cell were activated. Dim flood lights came on, her vision crying out as the black spots were chased from her eyes. The voices were fearful, almost moaning with the pain in her belly caused by it. Victor was seated in the middle of the room, the restraints unsnapping even as she watched. Moving slowly, his mind still delicate, Victor groaned and Lucca moved quickly forward to help him, wrapping one slender arm around his waist as he leaned on her. Rogue watched from a short distance away, frowning slightly as Victor kissed his ex-lover harshly, bruising her lips with the force. Moving away, Rogue sighed and knew that behind the little unbreakable glass watch-boxes in the corners, Logan was watching and keeping check over the young girl.

Lucca felt her wrist wrench behind her back as Victor's arm snaked around her waist, gripping her bony wrists harshly. "So frail, ya got 'em to let me go?"

"Y-yes. And I'm staying d-down here from now help you and me." Lucca gasped as his face came close to hers and her arm snapped, pulling out of it's joint. "And I'm not even going to t-t-t-t-try lying to you and saying I'm-I'm not scared..."

"Good, 'cause I can smell it all over ya like some rank perfume." Victor tossed her backwards and she hit the wall, falling to the ground before trying to push herself up, head throbbing. The hulking beast lumbered over to the old brown couch slowly, feeling his way along the walls carefully. His mind was still fried, healing slowly as he concentrated on helping it.

Moving after him, Victor spun around, once again making her wonder how such a big man could move so fast. Catching her elbow, he pulled it back sharply, popping it out as he had the other one. Bone cracked and Lucca cried out, a slash accompanying it across her face. Dropping to the ground in pain, Lucca leaned over and clutched her stomach. "Ya gone weak on me in this short time, haven't ya frail?"

Kicking her in the side, Victor kneeled down, growling menacingly at her. "Answer me." he commanded, lifting her chin to look in her tear filled eyes. "I said ANSWER ME!"

Lucca bit down on her tongue, keeping her mouth shut. Victor leaned in close, claws gripping her head painfully, squeezing her skull. Pressing his lips to hers, she felt them bruise and then bloody as both of their eye teeth scraped flesh, copper tang disgusting her as it flowed into her mouth. She could almost hear Logan sighing angrily behind the camera, turning away even as he turned the cameras off for a while.

* * * *

Lex's nose twitched as she pawed at the ground. Raising her muzzle, she sniffed the air and began to walk silently towards the rabbit lair she could smell a short distance off. The ground was strewn with red, brown and gold leaves as she trotted quickly to the tree she'd memorized as a marker. Raising her nose into the air again, Lex sniffed, shaking her neck-fur to flick off bugs. Someone was behind her; their scent raked through her senses with ease, marking a perfect picture in her mind of where they were and what they were doing.

"Easy, wolfie..." the soft coo called out from a short distance of only a few yards away. Lex turned, growling menacingly at the man with the tranquilizer gun. In true wolf form, Lex started to backtrack, eyes narrowed and teeth bared dangerously as he leveled the gun at her and clicked the handle.

Springing forward, Lex cried out in a woman's voice, half changed, half not as the tip of a needle stabbed her shoulder. Dropping onto a foot already half asleep, Lex growled lightly again, adrenaline beginning to course through her veins as her healing factor purged her system of the combo of chemicals and fixed the small pin prick in her upper arm. The man was on his feet in a moment, running in terror for his life, but to no avail.

Tackling him quickly as vision blurred and died almost completely, Lex's claws sprang out. Pain spiked through her feet, stinging and fading in almost a heartbeat. Her mouth cracked again as she changed into true wolf form, ripping at the man's throat. Jaw stretching and relaxing in human form, Lex screamed in something between a mix of a wolf's howl and a woman's cry, blood spraying her white hair-fur.

Organs stained the bright camouflage of leaves, blood pooling in the disgusting fight scene. The man's twisted body lay limply on the ground below her paws and Lex moaned, shifting back into her normal form. Clutching her stomach, she turned away and began to retch up her earlier meal, stomach heaving with the scent of the copper crimson around her.

Lex forced herself to turn around. She owed the man laying dead before her that much; to look him in the face and see the horror she'd caused and find out his name. Shaking violently, Lex began to paw through his pockets in search of an ID card or driver's license. A sharp plastic edge met her fingers and Lex dragged out the card from his back pocket, trying valiantly to stop from dropping it on the man's gutted body, now void of most of his insides.

Daniel Rushman. The man she'd killed had a name to go with the face. Searching through his jacket, Lex found a wallet and unfolded it, reading some more cards that didn't mean anything to her and then stopped, tears blurring her eyes as she saw pictures of three young children and a young woman in a tiny photo. Pulling the picture out of it's slot, blood dotted the gritty image and blurred the faces. The back read, 'Sherice, Quinn, Reena, Lucas, ages 30, 10, 6, 4.' Lex's hands let the picture drop and she stood, gripping a tree for support as her stomach heaved again.

Turning, tear's began dripping down Lex's cheeks and she ran, ran faster than she could ever remember running from someone, and blindly groped in the bushes for her way home. The crystal liquid blurred her eyesight, knocking her off balance, and Lex stumbled, falling to the cold ground below only moments from her home with Victor. Curling into a ball, she cried, hard and heavy gasps that ripped her in two with shakes and sobs, pulling at her insides as her brain melted in a bubbly haze of fire.

Someone was approaching her, from her cabin. It was Victor; the huge burly man lumbered against the trees, swatting branches away as he searched for the source of the crying. Lex sat up on one elbow, heaves still contorting her face as she coughed up blood onto the colorful ground.

"Babe?" his gruff voice filled the silence around her and Lex sat up all the way, rocking back and forth. "What's the matter?"

"I-I killed him...a m-m-man, in the woods...he fired a gun at m-m-me and I killed h-him..." Lex babbled on, stretching up to clutch his neck as he squatted down. Victor's paws went around her back, stroking the bony joints and the soft muscles through her outfit he'd bought her. "He-e-e had kids and a wife a-a-a-and I killed him...I took them away-y-y..."

Victor shook his head against her shoulder, grunting unhappily. "What if he'd been your father? What if he beat on those kids and hurt that wife? You did them a favor girl, you stopped him from trying to kill them all..."

"I d-did?" she whispered, breathing in the smell of the wilderness from his hair. One hand fumbled at her eyes, smearing the tears down her cheeks and wiping them to fall off her chin, dripping on his shoulder. Victor nodded, squeezing her tightly and she exhaled sharply, nodding hesitantly in return. "He was like my father?"

"He could have been...but don't waste time wonderin', 'cause if he was, ya did the right thing. If he wasn't, ya killed him 'cause he coulda been." Victor stood, pulling her up as she stumbled a bit on the uneven ground. Sighing, Lex let his arm wrap around her waist, holding her up as he half dragged-half carried her to their small cabin.

Lex wearily dropped into her corner bed by the fireplace, a pillow under her chin as she stretched her weary and aching bones and muscles out and tried to shut out the voices and pain, to focus past her insides and watch the outside. Breathing deeply, something Victor had taught her, she exhaled and closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again.

Across the cabin, Vic was pulling clothes out of his wooden chest, getting changed and preparing for bed. Lex cast her eyes down to the floor as he pulled off his shirt, huge muscles rippling. It wasn't that she hadn't seen him change before, because she had, many times in fact since she'd come to stay with him. It was that now it felt inappropriate, almost strange. So she rolled over onto her side, staring at the wall as she played with the strings on her pillow.

The squeak of the old, partially beaten recliner he'd had a source bring up to him in their new cabin brought her back to reality. Sitting up on one elbow, she hugged the pillow and then turned to the fireplace, curling to go to sleep.

Victor watched his young charge toss for a bit as he sat in his recliner, a cold beer in his hand. She was bothered by the killing that had taken place earlier, he could tell. Blood wasn't her favorite smell, not after feeling and smelling it when he'd killed her parents. The fact that she'd been covered in it both times he'd found her must have bugged her more than humanely possible. Standing, he slowly headed toward her bed across the room, footsteps quiet until he heard her breathing pick up and she awoke, looking at him.

"What is it?" she asked sleepily, throat still blocked with tears and thick. It came out no louder than a whisper, but she knew he'd heard it anyway. "Is there something outside?"

"No." he grunted, grabbing a blanket from the top of her own wooden chest. Pulling it up to cover her, he tucked it behind her shoulders and then squatted down to look her in the eyes, almost smiling as he watched her reaction. "I'm glad you were able to kill that guy today. You've got potential. And you're not afraid to take on thing's bigger than yourself."

"But he wasn't bigger..." Lex started, one hand going out to wipe a stray tear away.

"Doesn't matter. He was armed, you weren't, so he was bigger." his voice was low and gruff, and Lex closed her eyes again. "You're good, kid." Victor pressed his mouth against her cheek, kissing her once before standing again. "I'm gonna train ya to fight off the bad guys in yer way and survive. That way, killing won't bother ya, and you can get better."

* * * *

Lucca's nose twitched with a vague recollection of her new home as she awoke in the early morning. She opened one eye sleepily, searching for the reason she'd woken up at this god-awful hour. It was dark in this prison-like room, almost black with overlays of deep shadow over deep shadow. Letting her head slowly sink back down onto the edge of the warm pillow she had curled under her bare chest, Lucca sighed lightly as a thin, sharply delicate trail of claws dragged down her back softly. She turned her head to the right, long white hair falling into her face as she looked at her lover. Victor still appeared to be asleep peacefully, one deadly hand stroking her spine in his sleep; psychotic dreams filling his mind to a borderline rage had him acting out as he slept.

Suddenly, Lucca shivered in the light chill entering the sub-basement cell and sat up on one elbow, searching for a piece of the covers to pull up over herself, bare as she was in the winter-cold room. A quilt lay within reach at the end of the bed and Lucca slowly stretched out to pull it over her, dragging the warm blanket edges over Victor as well. This was the perfect setup. She could now get help from the Professor while she was able to stay with Victor and help him as much as possible at the same time. Not that they were all for it, but they were willing to agree that she needed to be with him right at the moment.

Laying with her back to Victor, Lucca snuggled against the pillow and felt Victor's arm snake around her hips protectively, hugging her to him as he slept, just as he had before she'd left him. But he wasn't asleep; his breathing had changed from the ragged intakes he'd had a moment before. Sitting up, Lucca smiled a bit and turned as far as her torso would allow, glancing at him as a feral grin adorned his face, transforming his features into one of a hunt.

Sliding one lean leg over his stomach, Lucca shifted so that she lay atop him, cheek pressed against his chest as one hand circled the back of her skull to hold her hair in his claws. Lucca lifted her head and moved forward to kiss him, her own sharp claws raking his shoulders, not quite circling them. Going slightly limp, she allowed Victor to press his lips against her jugular vein harshly, closing her eyes as his pointed eye teeth scraped flesh and drops of blood appeared. Slowly, almost without thought, Lucca moved so her mouth was close to his ear and kissed the sharp edge of his jaw, stroking his hair softly to calm him from the bloodlust the wound had awoken in him.

Victor's claws raked the back of her neck as he curled his face to rest against her cool shoulder. His fingers dragged through her hair quickly as she stroked his chest, settling him into sleep again. With a light growl at her as she kissed his cheek, he closed his cloudy blue eyes, sleep taking him almost immediately. Lucca followed soon after, sleeping straddled across the beast's chest, one hand tangled in his blond mane as he held the blankets over them, keeping them warm as she fell into the folds of dreaming again.

* * * *

Jean Grey punched in the codes to the cell chamber in front of her. Dim safety lights her husband had insisted on computing in flickered on, chasing shadows into the most barest of corners. Jean was pleased to see that the room had at least some furniture sporadically set up in various places, decorating corners and walls from the dark. A bed lay in the corner, two bodies occupying it silently, obviously still sleeping in the early morning hours. She herself wouldn't even have been up at this time normally had she not had a Danger Room training session and the morning duty to feed the two wild guests who were locked in this very cell at this very moment in time.

Stopping in shock in the center of the quarters, Jean set the tray down and touched her temples, concentrating on dropping the shields she usually had to put up at coming into the cell with Sabretooth. It was eerily calm, almost normal in astral readings inside; the psychotic waves Victor emitted were missing, seemingly misplaced with the strange sense of calm radiating from the bed.

Turning, Jean began to leave the cell, hoping to find the Professor or even Betsy to tell the realization to. Maybe she was mistaken, but for the first time in all of the times she'd met Victor Creed or Lucca, she didn't need a shield, didn't need anything to block out the rages and fear flooding from their brains. The wild couple sleeping contentedly on the bed were calm together, balancing each other out in powers, strength and love.