"Scream." was his order as he smashed a heavy glass jar from the nearby kitchen table over her head. Alexia St. Pierre pulled the large chunk of glass from her skull as he crouched down into hunting position. The wound covered itself gracefully, healing within seconds. Staring in slack-jawed fear at her lover, she whimpered and backed herself into the corner made by the kitchen wall and the wooden island, muttering to the chattering voices in her head. They were telling her to change into a wolf, to save herself from whatever sick thing he'd lost control over that night. To escape the brutal beating and pain he'd put her through.
Moving closer, Victor snapped his hand out and gripped her face in one paw, smashing her head into the wall behind her even as she yelped and clawed his shin in pain. The beast of a man before her snapped his jaws in pain and smacked her hand away, hissing as he prodded the torn muscles carefully. He seeped blood onto the floor and the smell set something off; he lunged at his girlfriend and howled as she held her claws up to catch his chest and tear the flesh there.
The pain shattered across her jaw, splintering the sculpted bone even as her lover's claws tore streaks of flesh from her chin and cheek. Lex spat out the blood her broken mouth made and held up a hand to ward off the continuous punches to her head. A hand snaked out and wound it's way tightly around her wrist, squeezing until Lex felt the bone crunch and something popped with a sickeningly loud noise. She whimpered finally and Victor Creed smiled roughly and pulled her against him, his claws scraping her back as she bit him, hard, on his shoulder; her eye teeth ripped flesh away as she pulled her head back.
Copper blood filled her mouth and Lex gagged, spitting the vile stuff out even as her jaw healed over and his marks disappeared. Her back was healed almost all the way through, the breaks from where he's slammed her against the wall only half an hour before fixed. Victor snarled into her ear and ran one finger over her chest, past her ribs, down to just below her belly button, claws raking the flesh there and smearing her blood. Lex healed almost instantly from the shallow cut and wriggled back, squealing as his hand tightened in her hair and claws punctured her scalp.
"I said scream." he growled, the low and controlled voice scaring Lex. She resisted the pain in her abdomen, urging her on to transform into a wolf and kill him here and now. He loved her, it was just the bloodlust getting to him from his fight with Wolverine earlier in the day. The voices in her own crazy mind were telling her to change, to gut him as he was preparing to do to her. It wouldn't kill her, it would just hurt a lot. And he'd get his scream alright.
Lex felt the razor sharp pain explode above her belly button and drag down her gut in a wide arc, circling the soft, flat flesh before he growled. Five claws stabbed into her throat and Alexia cried out in pain, hoping the feeble attempt at a scream would tide him over and stop the pain.
"That's a start." his paw of a hand circled her throat, lifting her a foot off the ground as he slid her against the wall. "Now do it louder."
Her breath was gone, the pain of the fingers squeezing her throat as she cried was great and powerful. His eyes were almost totally blue with specks of black in the middle. Orange tinged the outside and they shook with insanity, as he laughed crazily. She weakly brought her arms up as black seeped into her vision, the spots swirling and dancing as she felt one hand drag down her stomach again, pressing hard and slow. Grabbing his thick arm, Alexia screamed loudly and began to sob as he smeared the blood around her torso, pressing against her flesh and stabbing her again and then dropped her as she blacked out, watching her slide down the wall in a heap to his feet.
Her injuries were already healing as he stood there and Victor turned and snarled at no one in particular, cursing as he stormed from the small cabin. The snow outside was cold and wet, almost dry as it came down. For any other man, trudging through the snow in only a pair of sweat pants, a men's white undershirt, a light parka and boots wasn't smart, but he planned to run, to work the bloodlust out of his bones and hunt and for that, Victor Creed didn't need anything else; his healing factor would rid his body of hypothermia even as he acquired it.
As a little girl, Alexia St. Pierre was alone in more ways than one. She'd been born ugly; white skin, white hair, pupil-less white eyes. To make it worse, a small black five-sided star had appeared on her left cheek, just under her eye only five months later. A 'devil's brand' the townsfolk had yelled. Her parents became trapper's and they moved to escape the accusations of the small town. The tiny, dirt poor family moved from tiny, desolate shack-cabin to tiny, desolate shack-cabin for her whole life. When they were drunk, her parents were almost deadly; it became worse when they actually saw her and remembered why she was there.
The pain that her father could cause with one rightly placed beer bottle shocked Lex into running; escaping the cabin and her laughing parents as they downed any alcohol they could find and went at it. They hadn't wanted her in the first place and the cries and moans as her father rained punches down on her made the voices in her head scream. She would heal remarkably quick and if luck would have it be gone before they noticed she was standing.
So, sitting on the river bank alone and her parents drank and fought back home, Alexia cried about her life to the bubbling water. She wanted to be normal, to not have the voices, to not be ugly and to have friends to play with, to have nice parent's who loved her, to have a normal life. But the voices reprimanded her almost in an instant. This is normal for you. You wanted this and you got it, so don't even think of turning back now.
Besides, she was going to school. The courts in Canada had said she had to go back to school. On the bank of the wide Hudson Bay, in a little shack-cabin, with her drunken parent's too out of their minds to care, they'd found her and demanded she be put in school upon the starting of the new school year. And that meant that tomorrow she would be making friends and having fun like a normal little girl; she'd be in grade three like a normal nine-year old because she was so brilliant.
Her father's cries filled the woods behind the girl as he came looking to beat on her before bedtime. Alexia spun on the small rock she sat on, eyes wide with fright as she searched the dark for him. Scrabbling off the rock, she ran, ran as fast as she could into the woods a few feet away, trying to escape his calling's for her. Stumbling over rocks with her old-sandaled feet, Lex tossed herself into some bushes, trying to make no noise. He was right behind her, only ten feet away at the most but she hoped the darkness had concealed her hiding spot from his alcohol-blinded eyes.
Alexos St. Pierre stumbled by his young daughter; she heard his feet scrape and then stop before continuing down a bit. Jumping up to run but a moment later, she felt a hand grab her shirt, tearing the collar off by the sheer strength with which he dragged her to the ground again, slamming her against the closest tree. Her head spun for a moment and she stared, dazed, into her father's face. He was tall, close to six feet, and Alexia felt herself slip a bit, only then noticing he had pinned her at his eye level.
"I tol'ja t' git home a while back, girl..." her father slurred his words, trying to focus on her face. She felt his hand searching her pockets, reaching in to pinch the fabric and pull them inside out. In his drunken state, or by pure sickness, his hand brushed her legs as he pulled the pockets out, lingering only a moment before yanking the fabric out. "Where's th' money ya stole?"
"I didn't take any money!" she cried, willing the tears away from her pupil-less eyes. She shook her head and stopped as pain raged white-hot throughout her mind. She dropped quite suddenly, falling in a heap to the ground, and felt her leg land beneath her, something shattering in her right kneecap. Standing up and taking a step back as he pushed her father away, the knee almost completely healed. She shook it out, feeling the bone fix itself and was better, and running again.
Her arm wrenched behind her back, pulling until she felt it pop and a scream erupted from her throat. Her father back-handed her across the face sharply and then kicked her arm, watching her wrench it back into place. "I know you got the money! Don't you know that yer momma and me need it fer food?"
Alexia nodded and bit back a retort. They'd never use money for food; it was always the booze they bought and drank. Her arm still hurt with a dull throb and she could feel the shattered bone working itself into the right places again as she breathed heavily from the running. They'd spent the money earlier in the day when they'd went into the village, buying the alcohol he'd just finished drinking back at the cabin. She stood as her father wrenched her arm up, propelling her to the cabin to go to bed.
"Ya gotta go t' school tomorrow, ugly. Better git back inside." her father slammed the door to the one-room shack closed and Alexia saw her mother asleep at the table, her white blond hair spilling over the cheap wood. A hard shove sent her sprawling onto the floor and her father kicked her foot. "Go on ugly, git in the corner."
Alexia sobbed as her mother came to, eyes bleary. She huddled onto the old, ratty body-pillow they'd given her for a bed across from the bathroom and leaned her head against the wall. Closing her eyes against the tears, sleep came with screams of torment as the voices protested in her head, shouting out rage at how she was treated.
"Git up girl!" Alexos kicked his young daughter's legs and she snapped her eyes open, staring at her father's form as he stumbled away clutching his head, the hangover to strong for this early in the morning. "Yer momma's gotta drive ya t' school."
Hannah St. Pierre groaned in their small bed behind a curtain as Alexos climbed back in, swearing at his wife to move over. Alexia stood shakily and began to undress, throwing her clothes from the night before into a pile near the small pillow. She grabbed a blue jumper her Grandmother Coral had sent her on her last birthday, smiling a bit at the thought of the deceased woman. If she'd been healthy enough and lived, she'd have had Alexia right now.
The old woman had cared for the young girl from the time she was two to the time she was five until the cancer got to be too much and she became bedridden. She could have stayed in her care in the mansion; there were certainly enough people there to watch out for her, but her Grandma had said yes to their plea's for her, not knowing how bad it really was here. Coral had always loved how she looked; she said the unusual whiteness of everything that made Alexia made her an angel of some kind; white hair, white eyes, white nails and white teeth. And the black star under her left eye made her stand out as unique, God's own stamp of love in the old woman's words.
Hearing her mother getting up, Alexia pulled on the jumper and then a pair of black knee socks and a blue headband. The trust fund her beloved Coral had set up for the young girl left her all of her money for later in life, though a certain portion - of which Alexia had no idea - was set up for use in the days money was hard with her parents. Alexos, her son, was a disappointment in life and Coral had viewed his biggest accomplishment as giving her a grand-daughter like Alexia, so he got no money, only shares of what she'd left Alexia.
"Get in the truck." Hannah pushed her daughter towards the door and Alexia fled the hung-over woman, tears stinging the backs of her eyes. At times, her mother almost seemed to care about her. Hannah could be nice when Alexos was off hunting on his own, but together they were brutal, hurting parents to her. When she was alone and sober, her mother would sit with Alexia and chat a bit, sometimes even make her dinner on nights when they actually had food in the cold-box. Maybe she'd be nice to her today.
Sitting in the truck parked around the back of the shack, Alexia watched squirrels running through the treetops and longed to be with the animals, watching them play by the river. "But I'm going to school today. And I'm going to make lots of friends and have fun learning."
Her brain starved for information, longing to learn about numbers and words. Alexia saw her mother come out of the shack and Hannah opened the driver's door, shoving a bologna sandwich in a bag into her lap. Starting the stubborn blue pickup, they roared out of the driveway, Alexia looking out the window on the way there. It took a whole hour of silence and tension before Hannah finally pulled the truck into the school parking lot; the skies opened up and began to pour down on the school as Alexia pushed open the door. Hopping out, Alexia turned to look at Hannah when a stubborn sigh escaped the woman's throat.
"Ask your teacher which bus you're on today to come home." And with that, Hannah leaned over and slammed the door in her daughter's face, pulling out of the driveway. Alexia ran from the rain and into the school, seeing it was already in session. Waiting at the front door, she looked around, not sure of where to go in such a big place.
"Hello?" she called out meekly. A man walking by stopped and looked at her suspiciously, an air of snottiness coming over him as he took in her appearance.
"Why aren't you in class? Are you supposed to be here?" he was sneering at her now, the look on his face giving away his distaste with her. "Let me get the principal."
Alexia followed the tall man to an office around the first corner. Sitting in the chair the secretary pointed to, she looked around, waiting for the man to come back. The office was bright and garish, filled with old photos of the school and a wooden desk and a type-writer the secretary was writing a letter on. Sighing, the old woman with white hair turned to the little girl and smiled.
"My name is Miss Burnett. What's your name darling?" she coughed a bit and handed Alexia a towel she'd had from the kitchen to dry her dripping hair with.
"Alexia St. Pierre."
"What grade are you in now?" the lady leaned forward, studying her closely. "Two, three?"
"Third. Today is supposed to be my first day of school. I've never been here." she smiled at the old woman. "It's so big."
Smiling again, her obviously false teeth shining nicely, Miss Burnett sat back in her chair as the principal came into the office. "This is Principal Dougherty. Mr. Dougherty, this is Alexia St. Pierre. She's new to this school and doesn't know how to get to Mr. Paal's classroom."
"Well, let me show you the way. First, let's get this jacket off before you soak through." Mr. Dougherty motioned for Alexia to take off her jacket and she did, carrying it behind her as the jolly-looking man took her hand to lead her down to the right classroom. Looking back, she saw the tall man glaring at her while Miss Burnett winked and gave a little wave before continuing with her typing.
Mr. Dougherty knocked on the door of the classroom five doors down, waiting a moment before he pulled it open and went inside, dragging Alexia along. A short, fat man was standing in front of the room, pointing out how to write letters in fancy writing Alexia had seen her father use, but he stopped and waved his hands in the air to quiet people down. A few snickers were heard throughout the room as Alexia came into view, but they stopped with a steely glance from both the teacher and the principal.
"Class, we have our new student finally." Mr. Paal, as Alexia took him to be, waved his hands at her and she stood still, eyeing out the only empty seat in the room, alone, in the middle, but on the left side.
"This is Alexia St. Pierre. She will be joining you in your class this year." Mr. Dougherty let go of her hand and turned to leave, his job being done.
Mr. Paal motioned for her to go and sit down before picking up an attendance sheet to mark her there that day instead of absent. He looked over a sheet of information about her and then picked up a pencil, an eraser and a small blue book for practicing her writing in. "These are for you. Open it to the first page and put the date from the blackboard on top of the page. The start writing along with the rest of the class as I point to the letters."
Alexia nodded and began to write. School was not turning out to be what she'd thought, but at least there were other kids here. At lunch she sat alone against the wall, the other kids all having abandoned her for a game of hopscotch and skipping. Recess was the same, though shorter, with Alexia watching them play with envy, tears pricking her eyes. After school, two buses came to get the students and she hurried up to Mr. Paal as the bell rang to ask about them.
"You live how far away?" he asked, looking at the bus schedule carefully.
"In the country. It took a while to get here."
"How long? There's a bus that goes straight out and takes an hour and another bus that goes straight out and takes twenty minutes. That one leaves first." Mr. Paal sat at his desk and showed her the schedule as she stood on the other side.
"I think it was longer than twenty minutes." she nodded and pointed to the hour-long bus-ride. "I'd better go. Thank you Mr. Paal."
"You're welcome Alexia. I will see you tomorrow." he smiled and nodded at the girl, waving for her to leave the room. Stopping at the coat racks in the hallway, Alexia stepped up on the stool and grabbed her jacket, pulling it on over her outfit. Taking her book with her in one hand, as she didn't have bag, Alexia ran along down the hall, waving at Miss Burnett as the other children were getting on the bus. Tall kids and small kids from grades higher and lower than three were climbing aboard each of the two buses. Some stared at her awkwardly and she felt a shove from behind hit her. Glancing back as she climbed the big stairs, she sat down in the front seat and waited, not knowing what to do.
No one sat with her. On the way home, there were many stops in the country for a few moments at a time, letting off children before continuing on. The voices spoke to her, made her stomach hurt as they neared home and she answered them quietly, unaware that the kids behind her were snickering. One gave a hard tug on her long, straight white hair and she yelped, getting a stern glance from the bus driver. Closing her mouth, Alexia went back to whispering to herself until they reached her bus stop.
Stepping off the bus, she realized she was only a ten-minute walk from her home, having frequented the bushes near the cabin easily almost every day of her life. Hurrying as the sky blackened again to rain, she started to jog, only then aware of the repeating footsteps behind her. Turning her head, Alexia shuddered as the three boys from the bus-seat behind her began to jog after her, shouting obscenities and laughing at her. A stone smacked into her back and Alexia ran, faster than she ran from her father or mother, until a cramp in her side caused her to start limping, the boys catching up and surrounding her. She was only five minutes from home, she could make it if she just broke free of the circle around her...
And then the first punches rained down on her arms and stomach, knocking the wind from her and creating bruises that disappeared in a moment. Stones hit her on her head, little bleeding trails appearing before they too healed. Crying out, she dropped to the ground and held her stomach, the pain becoming stronger. She screamed at the boys to leave her alone, scratching at their shins in a somehow familiar way. The eldest boy stopped, cowering back as he saw the damage they were doing to her wasn't showing up on her skin.
"She's some kind of a freak!" he yelled, nudging the other boys. "She doesn't just look weird! She is weird!" he turned and began to run in the opposite direction, heading to their own homes a mere half an hour walk away in the bush. Alexia shakily got off ground and began for home again, tears pouring down her face to mix with the rain as it streamed down. The beautiful blue jumper her grandmother had given her was ruined, stained in mud, blood and gravel. The cuts and bruises were gone, but Alexia hurt inside, in her head and in her stomach as the voices became stronger.
Her father was out when she got home, her mother sleeping. Taking out her slightly stained and battered blue book, the one she'd hidden in her jacket during the bus-ride home, she pulled the pencil from her pocket, opening it as she sat down at the small table in the center of the make-shift kitchen. Alexia began to write out the few letters they'd learned that day in class, repeating them over and over, erasing mistakes made with the pearly pink eraser on the end of the pencil. Doodles filled the margins of her pages and Alexia drew animals and a small picture of her teacher, Mr. Paal, and the secretary, Miss Burnett.
Her mother woke up a few hours later, happier for once at not having to think of her for the day until she came home. Seeing the mud in her hair and the twigs stuck on her jacket, Hannah pulled her daughter off the chair, taking her to the wash-basin in the back of the bathroom. Heating some water on the stove, she turned and looked at her daughter as she waited on the closed toilet seat.
"How'd you get so dirty?" she asked, looking suspiciously at her small daughter.
"I came home on the bus and some boys from nearby jumped me. They kept hitting me and they pushed me in the mud." Alexia looked at the floor when her mother gave her an angry glare.
"What'd you do to start it?" she groaned, exasperated at her daughter's expression. If the kid couldn't even get through one day of school without fights, she wasn't going.
"Nothing." the glare became icy.
"Well, wash up, yer not going back to school again. I hope you had fun." Hannah dumped the water into the wash-bin and closed the curtain off around Alexia so she could wash. Walking to the kitchen table again, she looked at the blue book laying open on top. Rows of letters were across the lines, little pictures in between them; an idea struck Hannah as she flipped through the pages and then picked it and the pencil up, dropping them in the small corner that made up Alexia's bed. Grabbing the jacket and the small pile of clothes Alexia had left outside the curtain, her mother went outside and dumped them in the bags in the back of the truck for the next days laundry load.
Alexia came out of the wash-bin with a ratty towel wrapped around her and began to change into the pyjamas her mother had found, slipping the long blue nightgown over her head and to the floor in comfort. They were her favorite pyjamas, and the cleanest at the moment. Curling into the corner, her mother threw a blanket over her back as a cold wind chill went through the cabin.
"Git up." her father's voice was low and when Alexia opened her eyes, he was standing nearby in his full hunting gear. Hannah was dressed similarly, waiting by the front door in impatience. Alexos grinned and slung his rifle back over his shoulder. "We're leaving fer a bit. New meat in the cold-box should last ya few days. Don't know when we'll be back, but stay in the shack."
Alexia nodded sleepily, and then sat up entirely, realizing she would be alone again. Being alone in the shack was better for her, so long as they remembered to leave some sort of food. Not that she couldn't hunt her own by now, but she'd rather not have to. It made her stomach hurt even worse than it normally did.
Watching her parents climb into the pickup and roar away through the bush-drive to the dirt road, Alexia sighed and went to lock the door, stopping herself only a few moments before. Nothing could make it far enough in here to hurt her anyway.
Being alone in the house meant something great to Alexia. She could cook her own food and make sure she got fed at least once a day; she could sleep in her parent's bed at night instead of on the floor; she could sit in a warm wash-bin for a longer time than usual; she wouldn't be beaten for the sole purpose of entertainment, and lastly, she could take her few meager pencils and the one piece of chalk she had and draw in her booklets her mother had given her to practice writing in. Yes, sometimes being alone was better.
Opening her eyes, Lex wearily looked around, trying to move her hand to see if she was injured. The crick in her neck was painful as she pushed herself up from where she'd fallen in a heap. Rubbing one of her hands over her stomach, Lex sighed and began to stand, grabbing the island to hold herself up. Glancing around the well-furnished cabin, she searched for Victor and found nothing. Standing fully now that her head had stopped spinning, Lex dodged the broken glass and shards of wood from the fight, sidestepping the puddles of bright red blood and went into her and Victor's bedroom, entering the attached bathroom. Hands roaming the cabinets, she found some aspirin and downed three with a glass of water, turning to go back into the bedroom and lay down before her stomach began to growl. Shaking her head to clear black spots of sleep away from her vision, Alexia sauntered back into the kitchen and began to look through the cupboards for spaghetti noodles.
Finding a bag of rice instead, she began to boil a pot, searching for some vegetables in the fridge and bouillon cubes from the shelves above to make stir-fried vegetables with. Dragging down a bag of fresh broccoli and finding nothing else, she began to cook it, adding things while her thoughts wandered back to Victor. It wasn't that Lex didn't mind the fights, because she really did, but it was that she needed him. He'd taken her in after she left home, he'd cared for her and fed her and loved her as she did him. And he taught her how to get rid of the pains in her stomach, how to ignore the voices in her head and control it all. Where had he gone?
It wasn't unusual for him to have left, he did it all the time, it was just unusual for him to have left after knocking her out in a fight. Usually he sat in his recliner across the living room, watching for when she'd get up. During that time, God knows what ran through his head, but he was usually sorry about whatever had happened to set him off if it took a while for her to get up. One of these days, she'd show him and just leave before he could.
Eating quickly, her headache becoming worse, Lex tidied up the broken glass around the place and set out a bowl of food on the counter, turning all of the lights off on her way to bed except for the living room lamp. Her favorite black nightgown, sleeveless and silky, was what she wore, the floor-length material sweeping the wooden panels with almost silent hisses as she threw back the covers. Victor had bought it for her, or rather, told her that he liked it and she decided to buy it for herself. Curling up tightly to sleep, she listened to the sounds of the night outside. One of these days she'd leave.
Sleep took her quickly, making her drift along the river bank nearby, floating along the water in her dream. She slept there too and the voices were silenced, put to rest for the night. It slowly became cold, her heartbeat fluttered once in fright as the scenes changed from gentle water to cold snow banks and iced over water, frozen solid. She slid across the ice in her dream, spinning on the cold.
And her eyes snapped open as the bed springs shifted with a low groan of protest. Sitting up with her back against the headboard, Lex looked down into Victor Creed's steady blue eyes for a moment, feeling the winter-cold hand mold around her thigh in forgiveness as he curled up on his side of the bed. Sighing almost sadly, she lay back down , sliding down into the covers again as his eyes sought hers out, closing them only a second before she did. His heavily muscled arm wrapped around her waist and followed the contours of her spine to cradle her; her own hands curled lovingly against his barrel chest. He slept on his side with his cold, wind-whipped arms around her and she slept curled in his arms, head pressed again his chest; they were the picture of a perfect couple at rest. Yes, one of these days she'd just leave for good.