Echoes of the Past
15th in A Cat's Tale series.
rated y-14 for potential violence, moderate swearing, and Sabertooth. May contain mentions of illegal and painful medical experimentation performed on involuntary subjects. But if you could watch the X-Men movies, you'll be okay.
main character: Sabertooth (from the X-Men movie, with comic history added)
may also contain mentions of Willow Rosenberg (from BtVS), Magneto, and Mystique (X-Men, movie incarnations), Tracie (original character of my creation) and Alazcia (slightly altered version of a character created by Joehundredaire).
distribution: with the previous installments of 'A Cat's Tale' - if you have permission for those, you may have this.
notes: set during FT14 - after part 2 and before part 5, in an altered season 2 BtVS timeline and after the first X-Men movie.
Sabertooth watched as Willow made her way into the school. She would be safe enough, probably. It would be the best time to try to follow the scent that Mystique had left.
Mystique always brought complications, even by herself. But since there was also the other woman's scent, someone that he was positive that he'd met before, he didn't know quite what to think. Who was she, and how had he known her? What were they doing in Sunnydale?
He had to find out what was happening. What did Mystique plan, and how was the other woman involved? Did these plans endanger Willow? If they endangered Fluffy, he might help. Too many thoughts, and he growled as he moved back towards the park where he'd caught their scents.
It took very little time to return to the park, and much less to find the scent trail of Mystique and the other woman. With hardly any thought, he followed the trail. He wasn't quite sure where they were going, but he would find out quickly enough...
The trail ended up in a little residential area, not quite apartment complexes, but not really private houses, and certainly not very big houses. Frowning, he sniffed the air again, trying to place some of the other scents. Yes, he smelled Xander and Tracie in the area, lots of Tracie. She probably lived here, in the gray house, the one that the scents of Mystique and the woman went inside. Mystique had emerged again later, smelling furious about something.
He circled the house, trying to make as much sense of things as he could. The woman had traces on her scent... she hadn't been strongly afraid, but she was trying to hide here. Tracie was still injured, the healing gunshot to her shoulder.
A shape moved towards the window, too solid to be Tracie looking as she normally did. The silhouette was inconclusive, his nose said woman, the woman that Mystique had brought. For a few moments, she was there before moving away, murmuring something to Tracie. "A shadow moving, I thought. Gone now, if it was ever there."
"This is Sunnydale, the shadows can be very real, and very deadly." Tracie's voice. After a pause, she continued. "But it is a bright and sunny day outside, it couldn't be a vampire..."
"I thought people of such a civilized nation did not believe in vampires or monsters." The woman's voice held traces of something - not sarcasm, but memory. Had she met vampires before?
"Sunnydale is something called a Hellmouth." There was a pause, and Tracie continued. "I don't think that aunt Raven knows, or if it would make any sense to her if someone told her. I needed it explained to me."
He didn't think those things were anatomically possible for an unbroken human, and he really didn't think it would work for a Hellmouth. But she was very creative with her cursing.
"I wonder... Is that you, Vic? Are you lurking outside my house?" Tracie's question was soft, and murmured from the inside of her house.
"You speak, but to what?" The woman asked.
"Good question." The mutter was soft, almost too soft to hear. "He's Willow's bodyguard."
"Your boyfriend's best friend?" The woman asked, as if seeking to clarify previously described relationships. "Why does she need a bodyguard?"
"Mmmm. Maybe he'll come inside and we can ask?" Tracie's voice revealed that she was moving closer to the door.
For a moment, he wanted to retreat, to not even permit the faintest chance of being confined in a space with someone Mystique was working with. But he needed answers, and the faint not-quite memories didn't suggest that this woman was an enemy. With a sigh, he moved towards the door.
Tracie opened it, looking blond and human, probably in case of any humans looking towards the door. "You were lurking. You'll probably get more answers inside."
He followed her into the house, noting the lingering scent of gun oil, but nothing to suggest that a gun had been fired inside recently. More fading scent traces of Mystique, old traces from Xander visiting, Tracie all over, and the other woman. "What name is your company using?"
"I am Alazcia." Her voice held traces of accents, of other languages and frustrations. Hair the color of the bottom of Amy's brownies fell around a strong face, with tanned skin that almost concealed a pattern of fingertip and smaller sized spots around her temples and curving over the cheekbones. Dark eyes peered up at him, and she simply nodded. "You look well, Victor. Or do you prefer Sabertooth?"
He sat down, trying to remain calm. "You knew me. Knew who I am, who I was. Does that mean you remember what happened?"
"Of course I remember." Her words were sharp, though the tone was low, as if she didn't want the sound to carry. "I could not forget. Why do you ask?"
"I don't remember. Not who I used to be, not where I've been, nothing before fifteen years ago." He paused, and reminded himself not to claw the arm of the chair. "Only nightmares and memories of pain. I recognized your scent, but couldn't remember a face or a name."
"Ahhh." She shook her head, and sighed. "So, what is this place, and why are you guarding a young woman?"
"This place is evil. There are demons, and vampires all around. Rather fun for me at times, but dangerous for other people, for humans. More than there were in Transylvania about ten years back." He tried to use simple words, instead of a growl that it was unsafe.
"More than Transylvania?" She blinked, and sighed. "How has such a place not been lost to darkness then?"
"Dumb luck and Fluffy." He grinned, knowing that many found the expression intimidating. "Now also me. Red and I go on patrols, I keep her safe while she tries to learn more control."
"Red... that's Willow. She's also a mutant." Tracie explained, glancing at the two of them. "Alazcia, you don't look old enough to have known him fifteen years ago, not unless you were my age."
Alazcia chuckled, though it lacked amusement. "Those differences mean that I do not age as quickly as a normal woman, though that is perhaps the only benefit that I've discovered. I was a soldier. He and I... there was an experimental program that we were put into."
"We were put into a form of medical hell." He growled, and looked at Alazcia, almost daring her to contradict the description.
"Yes." She didn't elaborate.
"Why are you here?" He looked at her, not quite demanding to know what Mystique was planning.
"I left so that if the Project returned, I would not be among its victims again. I am here because Raven felt it would be far from their searching eyes. She hopes that I can teach Tracie to defend herself." Alazcia murmured, her eyes haunted.
"Huh." He let his breath out as he considered her words. He would certainly want to stay out of the path and observations of anyone wanting to restart the programs like that filled his nightmares. He would then want to lunge at them in the darkness and leave them gutted and slowly dying in the night, but that was another issue.
"I would not have pictured you as a bodyguard." Alazcia had a half smile, full of amusement. "Or was the appeal of many things to hunt and kill too much for you to resist? You always loved a challenge."
"He asked, I came, and she needed someone." He shrugged, not wanting to explain everything. "I have reasons to stay."
Alazcia made a small noise, as if she was certain that there was more to his reasoning than he was admitting.
He just leaned back in the chair, folding his arms. There were things that he wasn't admitting, but there were also things that she wasn't admitting. Nobody would stay contentedly in a strange town with only strangers unless there was more than just not wanting someone elsewhere to discover your location.
"It does settle a corner of my mind to know that you are still alive and well." Alazcia admitted.
For the first time in a long time, he had the feeling that there was someone who understood what had happened to him. Someone else who had suffered in the same ways. Someone who was almost like... Was this what family felt like?
end ACT15: Echoes of the Past