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T H E M O R P H I S T
by Silva Noir
Chapter 29: Seduction


"The holy union of Rebecca and Donald Xavier?" David peered over his lover's bare milky shoulder to read the marriage forms she was filling out in neat print leaning on the msmall lobby's table. "Before we make this commitment I need to know that you'll still love me when I'm old, bald, confined to a wheelchair, residing in a large mansion in New York which I use as a school for the gifted... the best of which are a guy with one eye, a redheaded mindreader, and a hairy Canadian with anger management issues."

She elbowed him in the ribs. "I have enemies. You have enemies. Best not to let them track us through the documents, hmm?" She bent over again to finiish filling in the blanks.

He was distracted by what the cligy white fabric revealed, so he agreed. Her dress was simple ... strapless, short skirt, one peice. Her white bodied, pointed toe, gold-stilletto-heeled shoes brought her to his exact height. The veil was the only traditional bridal acessory she'd chosen to wear. Her lips, were as always, reddest-red.

He'd chosen classic black. A starched white shirt collar stood up from under the jacket - high up, not folded down. He wore no tie or bowtie. His excesorry was a white carnation pinned to the front. He'd borrowed a pin to stick through the fabric into his skin. He liked the sting. To him it was symbollic how, for better or worse, she'd peirced his heart. Due to quick healing abilities whne in good spirits .. and the culmination of his crush and romantic efforts put him in a stupendous mood ... it posed no harm.

He found it hard to pay attention. He'd dreamed of this day so long he felt it was a dream. He'd wake up from it and find himself back in Randolph sitting next to Palmer in the cafeteria having a debate while not eating. Or maybe Palmer was a dream as well and he'd be alone except for a lecture on faith by Melanie who's company he knew now to be too young for him, or the occasional intrusion by Sue, who's company he was never sure he wanted or not. Funny how his thoughts drifted back to his friends at a time like this. He'd been disenfranchised from them for the pursuit of the luxurious lapine.

Rabbit snapped her manicured fingers in front of his nose. He'd left off his glasses. He'd been doing that a lot lately. He'd been walking around in all sorts of dazes.

He didn't hear the music, not really. To her chagrin, he'd asked for an Elvis impersonator to croon before their vows. It wasn't fun if they wasted a quickie wedding in Las Vegas by not having one. The owner of the in-an-out chapel, a little old lady who meant well, also played keyboard ... badly at that. What a show it was. Too bad there was no one in attendance. The meager gather of chairs were empty.

She's beautiful. She's mine. She'll be mine forever. Marriage is forever. She'll have to stay with me. I won't be alone. There will always be someone to love me. Someone to come home to. A reason for living. A partner. To be proud of. to talk to. Beautiful. Intellegent. Fashionable. Enviable. I'm worthy of her? I am! She asked me. I didn't have to beg her. I got through to her. She isn't closed off. She's letting me into her life. We'll have a life together. I have the strength to face my father now. She'll be by my side. She'll quit working for him. After that's over ... after I make it right ... I'll have something to look forward to ... a future to build ...

Rabbit stepped on his foot.

"Huh? What?" David looked around the room. All faces looked at him expectantly.

"Unsure? Did you change your mind, dearie?" The old woman pried.

"Huh? No. I mean, we're at THAT part?"

The minister nodded.

"I do! I really, really do. I do, I do, I do." He didn't want them to think he didn't.

She rolled her head to the side to look at the minister, "Let's not waste time. I do too."

The minister picked up on her impatience and read through the rest with haste, "By the power invested in me by the state of Nevada, I now pronounce you man and wife."

Imitation-Elvis sent them out with "Love me Tender." It was touching and tacky at the same time.

The owner touched Rabbit's bare arm, "Nice to look at, but not too bright, is he?" Rabbit stretched her lip and nodded. The woman decided to dispense some timely advice, "Well then, you'll have to take care of him, sweetie. That's usually the way. We women have to keep track of more things than them. If he's good to you, try to be understanding."

Rabbit had never tired to understand anyone's point of view but her own. She didn't have the capacity for compassion. She had nothing more to say to the woman. She got what she wanted and left.

That was Rabbit's way.



[late that night…]

Did you think an amateur like you could play with the big boys?" The man in the square-shouldered suit puffed cigar smoke in her face. "Eh?"

"I made an oversight. A possibly fatal one. Rabbit acknowledged. This was a boss but not her boss. She couldn't curtsey, (mutter) a 'sorry sir' and be off to file reports in reparation.

“Hmm,” The Ace of Spades paced the room sluggishly; shoes scarcely picked up off the carpet, legs not bent enough to ruin the iron crease in his chalk line pinstripe pants. “Nice of you to point out your own mistake. In this business you gotta check in on things. Keep track. You follow?” This was lesson was for goons who filled the room in what could be an ad for a tuxedo rental, as well as for her benefit. “If you want something done, you gotta make sure it’s done. If you want a man dead you better make damn well sure he’s dead. Do not assume it is so.” He focused his speech from her pretty face to their blank ones. “Am I right or am I right?”

They conferred to him muffled praise. They knew not to be too loud. They had operated a long time in this town. As long as they cleaned up after themselves, heads would look the other way.

“Now pretty face, where’s the money?”

Though she had three guns to her head and two pairs of strong arms holding her back, Rabbit stayed brave. “So you were waiting for me to kill the others, collect it … then you could kill and collect from me? Was that the idea? What happened to doing things for yourself?” She looked him hard ni the eyes. He blew more smoke at her. “Anyway,” she turned her chin up arrogantly, “I don’t have it any longer.”

“That would be the wrong answer.”

She was really beginning to hate the way his shoes squeaked even on carpet.

“And who does have it?”

“Let me make a call.”

He snapped his fingers. A goon immediately returned her cell phone to her.



“What did she get herself into now?”

David gazed straight up the sheets of glass and into the night sky. The artificial lights from the building collected in triangles on the round lenses of his blue tinted glasses. From this angle he could see the fuzzy end of his nose. Not that his nose was fuzzy … that was just how it looked that close up. He was amused enough by this for a few seconds to forget his new wife was being held for ransom.

He breathed deep, filling his lungs with the scent of cool wet vegetation. In that interval he was covered in Xilvrin, shimmering into shape. By the time he hit his hand against the side or the Mirage, it was a metal cat’s paw. Hind legs spring him upward. Pads were left sticky. One paw in front of the other, he scaled the purely vertical surface. The muscle had mountain lion’s memory, shoulders flowing in the slinking stance of an ambush.

It was the most comfortable he’d been all day.

Their honeymoon had been an awkward dance, neither wanting to initiate the courtship, the other sure their partner was waiting for them to. In the end, they’d done nothing, lying on the bed sprinkled with rose petals, thinking their separate thoughts.

That was good enough for him. He wasn’t sure what to do with a woman. Sue had given him any suggestions before he’d begun dating Rabbit, but he was revolted by all of them.

When she was called away by an urgent text message, he had been relieved.

He was built for feats of daring-do, not lovemaking. The muscle had mountain lion’s memory, shoulders flowing in the slinking stance of an ambush.

An ambush was what it would be. He bet they were prepared … but not for him.

He didn’t look down. There was no down. Up. In. Attack. Rescue.

He spotted the room at once. They’d drawn the curtains. Their mistake. He peered in through the slit, surveying the situation. She was unarmed and vastly outnumbered.

“Screeee …”

An ultra-sharp claw cut into the window. With an “X” to weaken the spot, he smashed the silver lion’s fist through. The pane shattered. The curtains blew back. Shots fired in the direction of the noise. The curtains fell, a weight tugging them off the rungs, to a mound of a shape.

The goons holding Rabbit invited another goon to wrestle his arm around her neck and hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

“So much for the surprise,” Spades was unfazed.

They poked and kicked the mound under the curtain.

It made a tinny hollow noise.

“Surprise,” Rabbit said with satisfaction.

RI---IP!

Claws emerged from the threads with the rest of the cornered animal. It grabbed out for the nearest leg, tripping the man. It made a deep slash into his chest and moved to the next nearest. He leapt on the back of another. Before that man fell, he got in a bite on the back of the head of a third man. His assault felled them one by one quicker than they could react. Bullets did not penetrate the carapace. Their muscle was nothing compared to his tight-wound fury.

Hands got a hold of his tail, pulling him back. A powerful kick got him loose. The men dog piled on top of him. David tried to stand but the weight was too much. Several hundred pounds pressed in on him. He felt no pain through his armor, but being immobilized only served to incense him. Anywhere his teeth or claws came into contact with warm bodies, he drew blood. In seconds, he wriggled free. Flesh couldn’t keep up.

“Kill it!” The Ace of Spades ordered, “KILL IT!”

The next he knew it catapulted off the shoulders of one man to knock him down. The force knocked the older man unconscious.

The Xilvrin best didn’t weaken. Each match energized it, made it more vicious.

So far he hadn’t been the death of any of the mob. They lay moaning, obviously beaten, but not dead.

Jaws clamped around the soft neck of the last man standing. David bit in, noticing how it squished.

It would be so easy…

So easy to cross that line.


The thought shook him to the core.

I can kill. I want to kill. But should I?

He closed his mouth gradually, the juicy fibers constricting. Pipes half-crushed, the man gurgled out a plea for mercy. The overwhelming majority of his vigor screamed out “Yes! Yes! Do it! Do it! Do it!” Not a voice … but such a strong sentiment. And then what? He asked himself.

He let go.

The paw holding the shoulder of the man un-tensed, knuckles of the true hand within cracking, giving him a clue as to how locked in he’d been. Back paws backpedaled. I can’t let myself be a…



BLAM!

The man’s head was thrown wildly to the side, brains splattering out. The blast gruesomely put him out of his misery.

Rabbit held the smoking gun. “If you weren’t going to finish him off … it still needed to be done.” She said coldly.

She didn’t even flinch! Not one ounce of remorse on her face.

David rose on his hind paws, forearms at the sides of him. The armor liquidified and sluffed off him.

“How can you … do that?” He asked in wonder. “Doesn’t that bother you?” He remembered his objective. “You’re safe, not badly hurt. Let’s go.”

“We’re not done,” she snatched his hand.

“We’re not?” Don’t like the sound of this. “This was a rescue operation… the only reason I did this was so they wouldn’t follow us or get up and hurt you. They’re not going anywhere fast. They can’t hurt you now. It’s over.” He guided her over the bodies and broken glass towards the door.

“It’s not over!” her temper flared.

She squeezed his hand, sprinkling drops of Xilvrin over one of the incapacitated men. She dragged him over to do the same to another and another.

“You’re poisoning them,” David felt like crying. She’s using me… to kill. “Please, Rabbit. Don’t,” he couldn’t make her let go of his hand, thought it would have been easy to do physically. “I love you. Don’t do this. You don’t have to be this kind of person.”

“I choose to be.”

“No… “He didn’t want to listen to the truth. “We walk away. Right now. We walk away.”

“Help me collect their wallet. Anything with personal information…”

“I’m not helping you do that! I’ve done enough!” David was outraged.

“We need to! They know who I am, David. Their families will want revenge. We have to track them down. Yes,” She was became hysterical, “I’ll get to them before they get to me. That is the way. Eliminate the threat before it presents itself!”

“Would you listen to yourself?” He jerked his hand free and shook her by the shoulders. His wide silver eyes connected with her dark empty ones.

“Once you put a plan in motion, you must see it through to the end,” She said detachedly.

“You start it, but where does it end? Kill this person, kill that person, and then another, on an on and on… if you go after anyone who might have seen you or knew someone you killed tonight, do you know how long that line would be? Think about this… how high are you willing to stack up the corpses? You can’t punish everyone in the world because they have the potential to harm you.” He softened his voice, “Where does it end, Rabbit? Tell me. Where does it end?”

Tears fell, running mascara in streams down her cheeks. “I guess … I don’t know.”




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