Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Bruised
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Victor took Reed to the office himself. The last time they'd been in that room, they'd both made a great deal of the fact that their reasons were strictly business, not personal. Victor wasn't pretending anything of the kind tonight. This was personal-- entirely and overwhelmingly so-- and he was not going to permit anyone to interfere. The building was deserted except for the two of them.

That last time, Reed had been a supplicant, crawling at Victor's feet, begging for the money and resources to keep his dreams and fancies alive. Victor had loved that, had revelled in the delicious rightness of it. It was wonderful to have the wayward genius Reed Richards humbled before him, wonderful to have all the power. It was the way things ought to be, and how they ought to have been all along.

But this was even better, with Reed not merely humbled but completely helpless, unconscious and weak in a chair at Victor's table. Seeing Reed crawl was delightful, but breaking him was going to be positively intoxicating.

Victor produced a needle from a case on the table and injected a carefully chosen sedative into Reed's arm. More properly, a paralytic-- he wanted Reed to remain aware, wanted that much-treasured mind of his to know exactly what was happening and why. How fortunate that he'd had the foresight to install that array of cameras monitoring the Baxter Building. They had captured a conversation that neatly solved Victor's problem of how to restrain a man who could shift his form at will.

"Does that hurt, Reed?" Sue asked, still laughing after witnessing the man's efforts to prevent the collapse of a stack of books and papers on the opposite side of the room.

"No," he replied, grinning like a child and bringing his arms back to their proper length. "It doesn't hurt at all."

"Well, does it take effort? Does it make you tired?" They were coming off an hour of her building various force fields while Reed took notes, and even from the other side of the monitor Victor could see that Sue was pale and worn.

"It's analagous to using any muscle, I suppose," Reed said with a shrug. "That seems to be the best way to think of these powers, as a new kind of muscle."

"Yeah, but mine and Johnny's are all in our heads," Sue pointed out. "Ben's is working all the time, and yours happens when you need it, like a reflex."

And Reed went off for a bit on conscious versus unconscious muscle control, but Victor stopped listening. His problem was solved. There were entire branches of pharmacology devoted to controlling muscles.


He was looking forward to the moment when Reed regained consciousness, when those wide and either innocent or idiotic eyes (he'd never been able to quite decide which) opened and saw where he was. When they filled with the realization that he couldn't move, either normally or with his new power. When he put together that he was alone with Victor.

It would be interesting to see how he would react to that. Victor had never shared Reed's childish fascination with pure science, with experimentation for its own sake. But he was not entirely devoid of curiosity. He'd known Reed for a long time, and in some ways the man was entirely predictable to him. But there was always the possibility that Reed would surprise him. It had happened before.

He was still unconscious for now, though. Victor paced the room, studying the still figure in its absurd jumpsuit. More reasons to praise his cameras-- he knew exactly what was under that suit. Reed's body might be deeply and fundamentally changed, but it was just as deeply and fundamentally still human. And one of the ways it was the same was that it bruised. From impacts, and just the stretching itself-- the capillaries and tissues righted themselves quickly, but they did tear, and Reed's body sported a vast catalogue of bruises as proof.

The bruises were what had interested Victor in the images on the monitors. The body beneath them, the unclothed flesh and muscles and bones of Reed Richards-- those, Victor von Doom knew well, and from memory. Perhaps that was part of what he was so curious about, so eager to see Reed's eyes on his awakening. Would Reed remember, too? And how quickly, and with what emotions?

Victor was curious, that was all. It made no difference to the final outcome of the night. But an interesting piece of marginalia nonetheless.

He looked at Reed in the chair and pictured him writhing in pain, his mouth opening in a scream of agony. He couldn't have his vision, of course, not with the drugs still in Reed's body. But it pleased him to think about it, to match the image to older ones, flashes of memory.

Reed twisting beneath him, lips parting in a silent gasp, uncertain on the edge between pleasure and pain. "Victor, you're hurting me--" Feeble protests, easily ignored, unimportant.

God, the young man at MIT had been so awkward, so helplessly inept in the face of any human interaction-- he had needed Victor, needed him as a shelter and guide and protector. At least in the first year or so, until he met Sue Storm, he never would have left the lab at all if not for Victor.

He'd been so pathetically excited to have a friend at school and in the same discipline, instead of the fleeting visits from Ben Grimm. So utterly innocent of human motives and nature, so eager to be led-- really, Reed was lucky it was Victor von Doom who'd befriended him, instead of someone who might have taken advantage.

An early winter evening, walking back to the dorm from some utterly pointless freshman mixer. "Reed," Victor said patiently, "that girl did everything but club you over the head and drag you home with her."

"I'm sure you're wrong," Reed protested. "Of course she wasn't interested in me."

"How do you do so well in lab when you're obviously blind and brain-dead?" Victor demanded, unlocking his door and striding inside with Reed following behind. "She wanted you."

Reed's mouth fell open and he gaped at his friend. "I-- I don't know anything about-- that," he sputtered, waving his hands helplessly and consigning the entirety of interaction between the sexes to the same category of mystery.

"What, you mean sex?" Victor asked, grinning. "Because there isn't a textbook?" He stepped closer to Reed, and closer, until the other man's back was pressed to the wall and he was staring into Victor's eyes with utter astonishment. "It's simple, Reed. Stimulus...and response..." His hand moved down to illustrate, and Reed gasped, in shock or pleasure or protest. It didn't matter; Victor crushed the sound from his mouth with a kiss.

He educated Reed thoroughly, in stimulus and response, in equal and opposite reactions, in theories of force and impact and malleabilty. And he found that he liked having knowledge that Reed did not, being able to hold that power over him, being able to break the control of that ever-spinning mind simply by manipulating its body. Pleasure and pain made Reed Richards a mere mortal like everyone else.


Looking at Reed helpless in the chair now, Victor smiled. Reed had walked in the stars and gained the powers of a god, but Victor could still make him mortal. And it still felt wonderful.

Back then, Victor had trained Reed, teaching him tricks like a puppy, tempting the man with the promise of learning something new. Reed was the original sinner, unable to refuse the whispers of the serpent even when he knew the knowledge would only hurt him. He had to have it anyway.

So Victor did hurt him, gladly, because after all, Reed wanted it.

He remembered watching Reed dress afterwards, hiding cuts and bruises under pressed cotton, unmaking them the way the turning of the hours unmade the gasps of pleasure. He remembered the cool triumph, the knowledge that those buises were his. Reed's body belonged to him, and he'd thought that in good time his mind would as well, and even his soul.

That hadn't worked as planned, but he had Reed now, the defiant creature who had ruined him. If his mind had come to heel all those years ago, none of this would have happened. If he hadn't pulled away from Victor, if Sue hadn't helped...really, Sue ought to be grateful to Victor, because anything Reed knew to do in the bedroom came from von Doom. Victor had fucked Sue a thousand times, through Reed, and if Sue had ever stepped down from her high glacial reserve and come to Victor's bed, he would've had Reed again as well. It was all the same. They were all connected, by memory and touch and pleasure and pain.

Victor had been furious when Reed stopped needing him and chose Sue. Furious at Reed for the rebellion, and at himself for not anticipating it. He'd indulged in the feeling only briefly before cutting it out and pushing it away, and now he was glad of that. Reed was still hiding bruises, he still belonged to Victor, and as soon as he opened his eyes, he would remember that. The past error would be corrected, and Victor could wipe it out and move on.

Victor didn't care anymore about bending Reed to his will or winning his submission. He would be satisfied with claiming his body with pain one more time, having him scream and beg for mercy, and then destroying him.

That would do nicely.

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