first story in 'Crimson' Arc.
rating: pg 13
disclaimer: I do not own anyone from the pages of Marvel Comics. I'm just playing with them.
Distribution: Psyknife may have this if she wants. Anyone else, ask first.
Sabertooth had escaped from his keepers. Someone had come up with the brilliant idea that if they used a specially made device to keep his violent impulses in check, it would be more useful to utilize him for risky missions that to simply imprison him, or even to kill him. This decision had not been particularly confidence inspiring in anyone from the X-Men. What 'situations' would a blood-thirsty mutant who delighted in killing people painfully and brutally be useful in?
For a while, the device, shaped like a collar, seemed to have worked. There had even been some people that found the idea amusing, that Sabertooth, much like a giant self centered cat, had been collared, literally. But either it's circuits had been faulty, loosing effectiveness over time, or something vital had been damaged during one of the missions that he had been on, because the collar had been found in the room he'd been using, slashed off of his neck, with a noticeable amount of blood in the room, and no other sign of Sabertooth.
He had escaped.
Considering what the X-Men had learned about how Sabertooth thought, it was most likely that he would be headed this way. He would come here, where there was a large gathering of challenging people that he already wanted to kill. If he was in one of his more coherent phases, he would stalk them slowly, ambushing them one at a time, killing them before help could arrive. She really hoped that he was in a more animalistic phase.
As it turned out, fortune did not smile upon Betsy Braddock today. She had been correct in her assessment: Sabertooth had headed to the base of the X-Mansion, intending to kill them, the group that had been a thorn in his side the longest, and also to try yet again to kill Wolverine. He found Betsy while she was out walking, leaping from a tree, and her telepathic abilities had barely given her any warning.
He had dropped from the trees, his claws extended to rake down her body, and if she hadn't felt the faint flicker of almost hidden anticipation, she wouldn't have known he was there until the lines of pain seared down her back. She sent a panicked thought towards the others, wanting the team to know that he was here, preferably in time to save her.
Once more, she found herself fighting against Sabertooth, alone and desperately outmatched. This time, she had more skill at fighting to use, and a more effective mental attack, but... that was accomplishing little more than to draw out the battle. She was gradually loosing. His claws kept scoring on her, leaving wounds that individually were not to terrible, but each one bled. They were adding up, and the exertion was also taking a toll on her.
He was going to kill her. There was only one thing that gave her any degree of satisfaction at all: she could sense that in his mind, she had crossed from the category of 'frail female, easy prey' to 'opponent and challenge'. It was a bitter and empty satisfaction. They both knew that even though she was better, it wouldn't be enough. Eventually, she would fall, bleeding and dying to the ground.
Maybe she could try to drag him down with her? She had been mind linked to someone that had died once, the experience had nearly killed her, and had left her powers dormant for months. She had only survived due to the help and caring of friends, and advantage that Sabertooth would not have.
She had decided that it was better to do that than just let herself go without trying. Wouldn't anything that she could do to slow him down be a benefit to the rest of the team? She reached out, attempting to link her mind to his, a tricky situation at best. Harder if the person was unwilling, harder if she was injured or distracted.
She managed to link her mind to his, but the distraction gave him an opening in her defenses. She linked herself to his mind just as his claws raked into and through her abdomen, parting shirt and skin, tearing through muscle and organs, blood spraying forth. She screamed from the pain, and at the same moment, he screamed as well, a more feral voicing of the pain, feeling it as if it were his own insides slashed, his own blood gushing out, his body falling to the ground.
Darkness swirled in, obscuring her vision, and she felt sudden harsh blows connect to Sabertooth's body, felt him howl in outrage as his not so easy kill was interrupted... everything faded, she could feel herself slipping away... and then, she was floating, in a warm, comfortable dark.
She recognized this, this floating darkness. It should have alarmed her. She had been here after she had been blinded and nearly killed by SlayMaster. She had been here again when Tom had died, her lover with whom she'd established a permanent mental link. The fact that she was here meant that once again, she was hovering on the edge of death. She should have worried, should have felt something... something other than tired. But there was no pain here, no suffering. She let herself rest in the darkness, wondering if she would ever wake up.
She found herself awake, in a bed in the medical section, hidden below the mansion. There was the curious detached feeling that mean she was on heavy pain killers, and as if from a great distance and happening to someone else, there was a dim feeling of pain from her stomach and arms... she couldn't feel her legs. Warren was there, holding something in his hand, a vial filled with something.. some sort of fluid, like liquid shadow laced with fire. He looked exhausted.
"Betsy... can you drink this? It will heal you." His voice was shaking with concern, with worry... and exhaustion.
She managed a very small nod, and he put the vial to her lips, tipping it slightly, allowing her to drink. The substance flowed down her throat, burning hot and terribly cold at the same time, and she could feel it passing through her body, faster than any medicine could do.
Having drank the substance that Warren had brought her, she felt herself growing very tired, as if that brief time of consciousness had exhausted her. She surrendered herself to sleep, hoping that when she woke, the pain would be lessened.
She didn't see the effects of the fluid. Didn't see how threads of shadow, flecked with burning crimson seemed to thread themselves through her cuts, as if stitching her back together, inside and out. Didn't see the red mark shape itself over her eye, marking her as belonging to the Crimson Dawn. She didn't notice as the essence of the Crimson Dawn worked through her, rebuilding her body so that she would survive.. so that she would be of use to it.
Warren, seeing only that his lover was healing, didn't worry about the consequences of his action. Betsy would live, what more could he ask? Her body was knitting itself at a rate that he had only seen from Logan... her wounds were closing. A red mark over her eyes was an insignificant price to pay in return for her life.
If only the price were really so small...
end Crimson Tears.