Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Rowena » Thu May 27, 2004 5:36 pm

I started this story last fall semester after reading Universe X for the first time (sitting on the floor of the bookstore and shamelessly blocking traffic). I wrote out an outline and five chapters before I realized I didn't really like where this story was going. I still don't, and I'm not at all sure whether I should rework it or not. So, I decided to post the first chapter and find out what you think of it. If you don't like it, I'll just put it aside or cannibalize it for parts to use in other stories. If you do like it, I'll work on fixing it up. It's up to you, so please let me know what you think!

NOTE: In Italian, Beatrice is pronounced Bee-a-TREECH-eh. Since the great Dante wrote his Inferno in Italian, I would guess Belasco would say the name with the Italian pronounciation.

NOTE II: The opening speech (from "There..." to "What about Kurt Wagner?" ) is quoted directly from Universe X Volume 2. The descriptions in between those quotes and everything that follows is mine (except the characters themselves, of course. Those are Marvel's).

Confession: I don't really know anything about Universe X besides what I read in the bookstore all those months ago. Therefore, I take full responsibility for all the mess-ups I'm bound to make with this universe and apologize in advance.


DISCLAIMER: I don't own the X-Men or any of their multiple incarnations. Please don't sue me or steal my story!

Belasco's Beatrice
By Rowena

Chapter One

The sun was shining, the grass was lush and green, and the sound of happy shouts and carefree laughter wafted through the fragrant springtime air. The destruction of the earth had been averted, the lives of every man, woman, and child had been saved. For the first time in too long a time it finally seemed as though God was in His heaven and all was right with the world.*

Unnoticed by the happy people practicing their powers in the grassy clearing, a cloaked, shadowy figure grabbed hold of a thick, rough treebranch with one powerful hand and leaned forward, looking down at the scene below him with glowing, yellow eyes. Strangely, his long, red fingers were tied together in twos although there was no evidence of a wound that would necessitate such crippling bandages.

As he observed the small group of mutants from his perch in the tree, his glowing eyes sought out and fixed themselves on one figure in particular; a tall, slender man with short, snow-white hair and an imposing air of charismatic power that seemed to swirl around him like a majestic cloak.

"There..." the shadow whispered, his low voice barely audible above the rustle of the tender, new leaves that shielded his malevolent form from view. "There. Magneto is an ally now. A hero. A friend." He blinked, turning his gaze from the imposing old man to focus on the group as a whole. "You've succeeded in redeeming him, X-Men, as you have almost all your enemies. Magneto...the Brotherhood...Unus...Juggernaut...Sauron. You saved them all."

With a sudden jerk that ran the risk of spraining his neck, the shadowy figure tore his gaze from the bright scene below him, focusing instead on the bandaged red hand that gripped the branch, its long, claw-like nails digging into the rough bark. His long, angular face was twisted in an expression of bitter pain, his hard eyes narrowed in anger.

"But what of a friend's redemption?" he near spat, gripping his perch harder with his spade-tipped tail. "Why haven't you redeemed me? What about Kurt Wagner?"

A powerful shudder ran down his spine as he spoke the all-too-familiar name, nearly causing his tail to untwine itself from around the thick treebranch. He knew the answer to that question. He'd known it even before he'd voiced it.

It was because he had been a friend that the X-Men were avoiding him now. It was because what he had done to them had been far, far worse than anything their other enemies had ever done that they had not reached out to him, offering him their forgiveness and a place among them once more.

"You betrayed them," he hissed, his harsh, accusing voice burning in his sharply pointed ears as he lowered his head in angry shame. "I betrayed them. I tortured them, tormented them, killed them for no reason."

He snorted sharply, his golden eyes flashing with a fiery rage. "No reason," he snarled, baring his fangs though he didn't realize it. "I had a reason. I did it out of hatred. I did it for spite. The others--Magneto and the Brotherhood, even Juggernaut to some degree--they were acting on their own beliefs, twisted and misguided though they may have been. Magneto truly believed his view was right. He believed in his ideals as strongly as that fool Xavier and his pretentious X-Men believed in theirs. When he fought, it was in defense of those ideals. When Juggernaut attacked, it was out of a personal hatred grown out of a painful past history with his brother Charles. But, when I--"

He broke off, leaning back on his branch and clutching his horned head with his one hand.

"Why am I here? What am I doing here?" he growled, running his claws fiercely through his wavy, crimson hair. "I neither need nor want their forgiveness. I don't need them at all!"

Bringing his hand to his mouth, he savagely tore the bandages from his fingers with his sharp fangs, flexing them together, then one at a time.

"I am not the pathetic circus freak they knew, the grotesquely deformed mutant who would eagerly forgive any tresspass just in the hopes of being liked by a group of arrogant fools who were never worth the effort!" He spat, his narrow, russet features hardened by hatred.

"Kurt Wagner is dead," he stated, his breath quickening slightly as the blunt words passed his narrow lips. "I am Belasco. And a demon has no need for redemption."

Where a certain blue, fuzzy, elf-like mutant may once have simply teleported from the treebranch with a soft BAMF of imploding air and a brief, theatrical flash of sulfur-scented smoke, the dark, cloaked figure who claimed the name Belasco climbed down to the soft, new grass with surprisingly nimble movements, given his lack of an arm. Keeping to the shadows, the proud, malevolent figure left the grassy clearing and the X-Men who played there far behind. But he knew he'd be back before long. He also knew why. For, even as he stalked away, his five unbandaged fingers split themselves of their own accord into a familiar, tridactal form...


*I know I remember the end of this line from P.G. Wodehouse, but I can't for the life of me remember which book it was in. After all, he's written so many...


Like it? Hate it? Want more? It's up to you! Please let me know what you think!

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Fri May 28, 2004 2:09 pm

:clap:clapBRAVO!!! SEZZY HOT BELASCO WHO IS AT WAR WITH 'IMSELF *faints* I love it, you must write more. Belasco is one of my favorite evil characters and when Kurt is put in the mix it makes for a good show!:D
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Post by Rowena » Sat May 29, 2004 1:29 am

Thank you for your enthusiasm! I personally do not see Belasco in quite that light, but he is a fascinating bad guy.

Since you insist, I'll continue the story! I've got to rework the outline (since I hate it as it is now) but once I'm done with all my plotting and planning I'll be back with Ch. 2!

Just out of curiosity... Is there anyone else who would care to see this story continued? This will be a redemption story, so Kurt will be OK by the end. Please let me know!

Thank you! :D

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Post by Lauren » Sat May 29, 2004 3:40 am

Me wants more! gimmme gimme gimme gimme! *holds out hands* hurry and write some more dernit!
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Saint Kurt » Sun May 30, 2004 12:37 am

I like it, but I don't know who Belasco is so I'm a wee confused. Is Belasco like an alternate universe Nightcrawler without an arm?

I think I'm either going to have to read some of the comics with Belasco or find a summary or something because I want to see this continued almost as much as I want to know what's going on.

So, please continue and in the meantime I'll get up to speed... :)

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Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Sun May 30, 2004 1:55 am

:oBelasco is only the coolest bad guy, no he is not an alt. Nc. He is the ruler of Limbo and is awesomely evil. Here is a site with info on 1 of the coolest baddies*the other is Mr. Sinister*

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/db/article/s ... ldAuto=127

here he is

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Post by Lauren » Sun May 30, 2004 3:17 am

In Universe X, it says that he IS an alternate version of Kurt. One brain washed and twisted a bit to be EVIL.
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Post by John Doe » Sun May 30, 2004 4:44 pm

First of all, you spelled fiery firey. But that's minor.

You described this so vividly that I could hear his rasped growl condemning former friends. Excellent beginning clearly written with passion and a keen interest in your own plot.

I suggest you keep writing this story, because it has so many possibilities...

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Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Sun May 30, 2004 10:19 pm

Originally posted by Lauren
In Universe X, it says that he IS an alternate version of Kurt. One brain washed and twisted a bit to be EVIL.
Oh well, my mistake, but he is still awesomely evil!
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Post by Lauren » Sun May 30, 2004 10:24 pm

yes, but only because he truly believed that he was in fact the demon Belasco... and then that child Mar-Vell snapped him out of it.
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Sun May 30, 2004 10:33 pm

Stop riddling my mind, woman, I can only hold so much information....gasp, the pain.

ON WITH THE STORY!!!!
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Post by Rowena » Mon May 31, 2004 3:06 am

Oh, wow! A picture! Awesome!

How do you put pictures directly in the reply box? When I try to post a picture, it always shows up as a little link thing at the bottom that you have to click on. I'd really love to know how you did that!

I'm still working on the outline. Sorry! It may be a while before I get Ch. 2 up, but I will, I promise! Just give me a few days. I'm working on five projects at once at the moment, only two of which are Nightcrawler-related.

If you start to think I'm taking too long, though, feel free to give me a poke on this thread, and I'll try my best to hurry it up! :D

Sorry again about the wait, and thank you so much for your interest, and your patience with me!
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Post by StarLightCrawler » Mon May 31, 2004 1:13 pm

Oh this sounds like the begening(sp) of a good story. I do hope you continuse this.
Sorry for any miss typing or miss spelling.
If (sp) is by the word that means i don't know how to spell it.
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Post by John Doe » Mon May 31, 2004 2:21 pm

In answer to your picture question, I think you should surround the URL in [img]URL[/img]. If you already did, I don't know what to tell you- that always worked for me in e-fedding, etc.

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Post by Rowena » Mon May 31, 2004 3:02 pm

I tried your suggestion, but it didn't work. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I probably am. I'm not entirely sure what a URL is. I surrounded the white 'comicrawler3.5' or whatever it says, but it just showed up like this: [img]comicrawler3.5[/img] in the box.

What I did to post the picture in the first place was I clicked on 'Browse', then selected the file from My Pictures on my computer. Is there another way to do that so it shows up in the reply box?

Thank you anyway!
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Post by John Doe » Mon May 31, 2004 7:05 pm

Oh! A URL is the web address from which you got the picture. I'm not sure how you get it to show up right in the box if it came from your computer. I never draw, or at least never admit to it, so I wouldn't know stuff like that.

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Post by shakspear » Tue Jun 01, 2004 12:21 am

Please do continue the story! It is such a very good beginning. I have always liked the Belasco/X-Men crossovers.
__________________________________
A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much or more we should ourselves complain.

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
Be great in act, as you have been in thought.

William Shakespeare

"Stealing from one person is called plagiarism; stealing from a bunch of people is called research." -Alfred E. Newman.

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Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Tue Jun 01, 2004 3:56 am

John Doe is correct, a URL is a website that you find the pic on, if you rightclick on the pic of Belasco and go to properties it will tell you the web site. I don't know how to get pics from your home computer on the page directly, I have tried before and it hasn't worked for me, I can't even get the little link, The pic of Belasco was from a site that has tons of info.

I wish I could help you more but I really don't know how.

Take your time, we are patient and will be here next time you post.
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Post by Rowena » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:44 pm

Thanks! I gotta tell you, these past few days have been absolutely insane. We've had a car accident (no one was hurt, but the car got a bit crumpled in the back) and company and my brother's been really sick and this is the first time I've had a chance to go on the Internet in ages. Even now, though, I can't stay because I have to go make a cake and clean the house for yet more company, but I did manage to type out Chapter 2 and the last deleted scene from "Hero" last night so I'm taking this opportunity to post them quickly. Aggh! Even now, I'm being called. Gotta make this fast.

Here's Ch. 2! Hope it's OK! Don't worry, I'll put in lots more backstory as it goes along.


Chapter Two

Ororo Munroe sighed deeply, shaking her head as she effortlessly called up a tiny rain cloud and sent it to float around the room, watering her plants. She looked around the large, humid greenhouse, her blue eyes falling on the young fig tree she and Kurt had planted so many years ago, before he’d been lost to them in that cave, encased in stone by the Gray Gargoyle. Or so they’d believed…

A slight, bittersweet smile brushed her lips as she walked over to the fig tree, lightly brushing the deep, green leaves with her fingertips. It had been so small then, barely more than a seedling. Ororo hadn’t been sure it would even make it through the winter, but Kurt had had complete confidence in her ability to coax the sickly little plant into vibrant, glorious life. He had always—

Ororo shuddered slightly, her breath catching in her throat and her eyes stinging as she spun away from the tree, unable to face it or the memories it evoked any longer.

It had been nearly a year since the truth of Belasco's identity had been revealed, and the X-Men were still reeling from the shock. This monster, this heartless demon was not and never had been the corrupted Italian sorcerer who had tormented Dante and stolen his beloved Beatrice, causing her a horrific death as he strove to create a race of demons. He was Kurt Wagner, the dearest, kindest, most compassionate man Ororo Munroe had ever had the honor of knowing.

The realization that their demonic tormentor was none other than their brainwashed friend and teammate had come as a stunning blow to all the X-Men, but it had seemed to hit Ororo the hardest. The snowy-haired elemental simply could not equate the cruel, angry creature she knew as Belasco with the sweet, forgiving man she had believed dead for so long. To see him now, transformed into the very demon he had been reviled as all his life, was a sight too painful for her to bear. But painful as it was, she could not deny the truth of what she had seen and heard. This embittered, hate-filled copy of Belasco was indeed her old friend. And she had waited for far too long to confront him over what he had become.

Ororo raised her arms, causing her tiny rain cloud to dissipate into little more than a wisp of warm steam. Then, she spun on her heel, striding purposefully out of the greenhouse and into the hallway.

She knew where to find him. Since discovering the truth of his identity, Kurt had settled himself in the cruelest, most violent section of the city, a place made all the more dangerous now that the population was made up almost entirely by mutants. He had become a fierce, protective, terrifying figure whose very name struck a dread fear into the hearts of the most hardened of underworld criminals.

Ororo had smiled to herself when she had first been told of Kurt's crime-fighting activities. His drive to be a hero had always been at the core of his nature, and even now, after all that had been done to him, he was still ruled by the desire to protect those who could not defend themselves. She could picture him in her mind; his long, red cape swirling around his lean, powerful form as he crouched in the shadows of the decrepit rooftops, his sword held securely in his russet hand as his long tail mirrored the movements of his alert, sweeping eyes.

She sighed deeply, squeezing her eyes closed with pain as she considered what had become of one of her oldest and closest friends. Her mind's eye pictured a tortured, lonely figure, a pure soul twisted and tormented by anguished guilt and searing pain. He had been alone for far too long. He needed to know he still had friends, friends who were truly concerned for him even though they were terrified of his current incarnation. The others had shown no sign of any desire to make contact with him, and she knew Kurt would never come to them after all he had done as Belasco. It was up to Ororo to make the first move—no more excuses, no more procrastination, no more fear.

Grabbing her scarf from the foyer closet, Ororo quickly bound her hair and turned towards the mansion’s front door.

"Hey, 'Ro!"

A voice from behind startled her from her determined thoughts. She spun a little too quickly to face the man who had addressed her.

"Scott!" she gasped, a slender, mocha hand pressed over her heart. "I'm sorry, you startled me. Did you want something?"

Cyclops shook his head. "No, not really. I was just curious." He gestured to the colorful scarf she had tied with elegant grace around her long, white hair. "You looked like you were going out."

Ororo raised her head and peered at him with aloof, blue eyes. "So I am."

Scott knew that look all too well. He held up his hands in mock surrender. "I know, I know, it's none of my business," he smiled. "But, still, I suppose there's no chance you might fill me in on where you're going? Just in case anyone asks."

Ororo gazed at him, considering. "I'm going to visit a friend. That's all."

Scott shot her a shrewd look that was mostly obscured by his ruby-quartz glasses. "If that really is all then what's with all the secrecy?"

Ororo sighed, crossing her arms imperiously before her. "Before I tell you, know this first. Nothing you nor anyone else may say will sway me from what I have planned to do. The X-Men do not abandon their friends, no matter how they may have hurt us in the past."

Cyclops held up a staying hand to interrupt her. "Let me guess," he said. "You're going to see Kurt, aren't you."

Ororo just looked at him, her blue gaze steady. Scott nodded.

"Look, 'Ro, I understand your concern for him. I share it. But he's not the Kurt Wagner we knew. Not anymore. He’s confused, dangerous. If you approach him now, I doubt he would even recognize you, let alone listen to you."

Ororo sighed through her nose and turned her head, staring at the umbrella stand by the door.

"Scott," she said simply, "Kurt needs our help."

Scott pursed his lips, knowing she couldn't see his narrowed eyes through his ruby-quartz glasses. "Why do you say that?"

"Because I know him, Scott!" Ororo said, snapping her head around to face him once more. "For years, whenever any of us were hurting or confused or angry at the unfairness of the world, Kurt was there to comfort us with a few kind words and an honest compassion. Kurt! The one out of all of us who had the most right to be bitter about his situation was the one who gave thanks to his God each day for his good fortune! And do you know what was chief on his list, Scott?"

Scott shook his head, knowing better than to speak.

"His friends. His friends, Scott. He counted us first among his blessings, and he always went out of his way to make sure he lived up to what he believed was our unconditional acceptance of him. And we took him for granted, Scott. We took his love for granted. That's why Mephisto was able to get to him like that. We're the ones who opened the door for that demon to sneak his poison through, we're the ones who gave that snake an entrance into Kurt's heart. We're just as much responsible for his current situation as that repugnant monster is!

"Kurt is hurting. He must be in agony over what Belasco has done. And, he is not going to come to us for help. Even though he was always willing to come to our aid, to help us through our own petty problems, whenever something was bothering him he'd keep it to himself, revealing his pain only to his God.

“It’s been a year, Scott. He needs to know that we still care about him. And that's why I'm going to him now, whether he wants me there or not."

Scott ground his teeth as a wave of shame rolled over him. He could barely meet Ororo's shining, tear-filled eyes.

"You're right," he managed to croak out through a suddenly tight throat. "You're right, Ororo. You should go to him. And I'm going with you."

Ororo's tightened lips relaxed into a soft smile. "No, Scott," she said. "Your offer is appreciated, but somehow I feel this is something I must do alone."

Scott was about to protest, to alert her to the dangers of the part of town where Kurt had taken up residence, to warn her of the danger that Kurt himself might pose to her, but he stopped himself. Ororo was a brave, capable leader who could more than handle herself in a fight, even against Belasco. Besides, she was right. Kurt might reach out to her if she approached him alone, but if he realized she had company he might withdraw into himself, or even get violent. Slowly, he nodded, his shoulders sagging slightly.

"All right, Ororo," he said, before he turned to leave. "Just tell me how it went when you get back, OK?"

Ororo's smile widened, but it did not light her anguished eyes. "Of course, Scott," she said. "I should be back before dawn."


Please let me know what you think so far!

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Mon Jun 07, 2004 9:52 pm

:Dsee this smile? See it? Well I am trying to mantain it before I go bonkers because of all these cliffhangers!

I like this story...alot...ok, way too much...LOVE IT!!!
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Lauren » Wed Jun 09, 2004 2:43 pm

:mad why for you stop at that part? that's not right! you better finish this up right this instant missy! this is a great story so far!
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Saint Kurt » Thu Jun 10, 2004 6:06 pm

Jesus H Tap Dancing Christ!

You must continue. For a story you didn't really like, this is coming along beautifully. I love the exchange between Scott and Ororo because I think it's the fist time any author has portrayed him without that pole up his ass. It's nice to see a compassionate Scott Summers.

You're going to keep me up nights...

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Rowena » Fri Jun 11, 2004 12:42 pm

Sorry I took so long, but my brother needed the computer for his final papers and with my poor laptop being out of commission, I couldn't write anything more until last night. This story is really difficult. I've never been all that great with angst and torture and pain. I'm trying my best, though! I've got a plan to make Kurt better, and I must carry it out or else that comic will bother me forever!

There's angst in buckets in this one. I might have to write something fluffy before I can continue. :D

Chapter Three

Bundled in tattered blankets, all but invisible among the deep shadows of the dusty, crumbling spire of the old cathedral, a man woke from a restless sleep. He sat up, crying out into the darkness—a strangled, anguished sound that tore painfully from his throat. He was trembling, sobbing, the hot tears streaming down his narrow face—but as he slowly rose to full consciousness, the memory of whatever horrors had haunted his dreams faded, leaving only blankness and a cold, lingering fear.

Disoriented and confused, the man stumbled awkwardly to his feet, stepping into his worn, leather boots and walking slowly to the small, open window on the far side of the cramped, cobwebby space. Climbing up onto a pile of dusty, cloth-draped crates, he slipped out the window with practiced ease and caught hold of the edge of the roof, hauling himself up onto the moss-covered slates with his one arm.

The brisk night air helped to revive him as he crouched on the sloped roof, still and silent as a protective gargoyle. His long, spade-tipped tail was wrapped securely around the long pole that supported the large cross which marked this place out as holy ground.

Lowering his head slightly, he noticed his hand was trembling. He clenched his fist tightly, taking in a deep, calming breath as he strove to slow his racing heartbeat. Without thinking, he reached into the pocket of his cloak and pulled out two long strips of cloth. With the help of his teeth, he quickly and securely bound his fingers into a tridactal shape. For some unfathomable reason, that made him feel safer somehow, more grounded.

Shaking his head in something close to disgust, the man tore his newly bandaged fingers through his short, crimson hair. Ridiculous. That’s what he was. He was letting this place get to him, and such weakness was unacceptable.

He snarled, glaring down at the graffiti covered buildings and torn-up pavement far below. What madness had made him decide to take up residence in the spire of a cathedral anyway? True, it was the best vantage point for viewing the squalid, corrupt swath of crumbling city streets he had chosen to make his home, but by all rights, he shouldn’t even be able to stand there. Even now, he half expected to see his booted feet burst into flame where they touched the mossy slate roof. He was almost disappointed when it didn’t happen. After all, a church was no place for a demon.

But was he a demon? That was the question that had been causing him to loose sleep for almost a year, ever since he had traveled back to the ruin on the mountain and seen what appeared to be his own body encased in ice. The ancient, frozen corpse was standing in exactly the right spot, in exactly the same position where he remembered fighting that fateful duel against his best friend so many years ago. Dante had won that fight; severing Belasco’s arm and slicing through the duct above him, releasing the gas that had frozen the demon instantly in place. However, despite his heroic actions, the poet had been unable to save the life of his beloved Beatrice, the woman Belasco had abducted and ultimately murdered as he strove to do the will of the Elder Gods.

The russet-skinned man shuddered deeply at the dark memories—real or implanted, he didn’t know. Hesitantly, he reached up to touch the two sharp horns that protruded from his smooth forehead. The realization that he might in fact be the mutant Kurt Wagner terrified him even more than the idea of being a demon. After all, if he was truly a demon the evil he had worked over the centuries was just a manifestation of his true nature and he had nothing to feel guilt or fear over. However, if he really was Kurt Wagner, how could he possibly begin to atone for his many sins? How could he continue to live with the knowledge of the horrors he had performed, the lives he had ruined, and the lives he had taken?

He sighed deeply and turned his glowing gaze to the twinkling stars. The tempting thought of suicide had been flitting across his tormented mind since long before the nightmares began. It would be so easy to put an end to his pain once and for all. All he had to do was to loosen his grip on the pole. He would roll down the slanted roof, gaining speed as he went, until that wonderfully liberating moment when he suddenly found himself in free fall. He would spread his arm out to its full length, welcoming the chill breeze that whipped his hair back and caused his cloak to billow out behind him as he spun towards the ground.

Then, the impact.

He had to admit, it would be a fitting end for an acrobat who had lost his balance.

He had no idea if the impact would hurt, or if the shock would last long enough for him to leave his malformed, disfigured body without pain or regret. Either way, he knew a swift, easy end like that was far less than he deserved. He deserved to suffer, to hurt. He deserved a long, drawn out, painful death at the hands of those he had so gravely and repeatedly wronged. Unfortunately, he knew all too well that such an end was something the X-Men could never give him.

Surprisingly, the only part of him that kept his tail wrapped securely around the pole, the only part that kept him from pressing his chest against the pointed end of his sword when the nightmares became too much to bear, was the same part that cried out from the depths of his shredded psyche that he was, indeed, Kurt Wagner. This soft, accented voice that rattled around in his head like a ghost he could not see or touch was also the part that demanded he take full responsibility for kidnapping and corrupting little Illyana Rasputin, the sister of the X-Man known as Colossus, and for repeatedly manipulating and torturing the X-Men who had tried so valiantly to come to her rescue. Kurt Wagner, ever the wide-eyed optimist, honestly believed that if he truly accepted his guilt, if he was truly willing to make amends for what he had done, if he was truly penitent, he could seek absolution for his crimes, no matter how sadistic they had been. Only suicide could never be forgiven, and suicide, the ghostly voice argued, was the coward's way out. And if there was one thing Kurt Wagner had never been and would never be, it was a coward.

The russet skinned man sat back on his heels, his darkly swirling thoughts unearthing a shadowy memory of a time when he wouldn't have needed to hold himself in place by his tail. Once, his feet would have stuck to the moldy surface of the roof as easily and securely as a magnet sticks to a refrigerator door. That's how it had been back when there were no boots that could fit his feet and his heels were little more than a third toe. He remembered walking up walls and crawling across ceilings, giving rather less thought to this extraordinary ability than a spider would have done.

He reached out a tentative hand and gingerly touched the roof, waiting for the familiar feeling of attraction to run across his skin, raising his short, velvety fur like static electricity. When it didn't come, he looked down at his red, furless, five-fingered hand with some confusion, not recognizing it for a moment.

"Idiot," he muttered, snatching his fingers from the slate tile and tucking his hand securely into his lap. "You are not a mutant." Casting his bitter, yellow gaze over the darkened streets he sighed, hanging his head. "I don't know what you are. Or even who."

A soft breeze ruffled his crimson hair as an even softer voice responded with confidence and firm self-assurance. "You are Kurt Wagner, the best and most honorable man I know no matter what has been done to you."

The russet-skinned man turned to face the apparition that had addressed him, his golden eyes widening in shock and fear as a lithe, female figure dressed all in white floated over to him on a cloud of sparkling mist. For a long moment, his muddled mind couldn't shake the bizarre impression that she was an angel, sent at last to redeem him of his past sins and welcome him to eternal bliss. As she alighted next to him, surefooted on the slippery moss, a single, reverent word managed to slip past his painfully tightening throat.

"...Beatrice..."

The woman seemed confused, her dark head tilting to one side as she crouched down on the slate tiles before him, brushing her fine, snowy hair from her luminous blue eyes with an elegantly careless flick of her mocha wrist.

"Kurt?" she asked, her deep, soothing voice laced with concern. "Are you all right?"

He couldn't breathe, he couldn't speak. The angel was reaching out to him, actually taking his hideously clawed red fingers in her own warm, perfect hands. Her dark lips were moving, revealing her straight, white teeth. She was speaking, saying something--it was so hard to hear her words above the pounding of his heart...

"How did this happen?" she was asking, referring to the bandages that forcibly kept his hand in a tridactal shape.

He could only stare at her dumbly, uncomprehending.

"Your fingers, Kurt," she elaborated, her eyes openly displaying her worry. "Are you hurt?"

Kurt--no, Belasco--yes, Belasco--shook his head, forcing himself to take deep, calming breaths to slow his racing pulse. "No, my lady," he answered, his voice soft with reverence. "It's just that there are times when it seems more natural for me to grip things with three fingers than with five. I cannot explain it."

The woman was staring at him, a new look of cautious concern growing in her large eyes.

"Kurt," she said, her words now slow and deliberate as though she were speaking to a child. "I'm afraid I don't understand. Do you recognize me?"

Belasco--or was it Kurt?--rose gracefully to his booted feet, causing her to rise with him as he took her hand in his and lifted it gently to his crimson lips for a brief, courtly kiss. This simple action reminded her so strongly of the light-hearted flirt she had known that her breath caught painfully in her throat. Perhaps he did remember after all…

"You are my soul, my heart, my redeeming angel," he sighed, hardly daring to look into her eyes. "You are my beloved, my lady fair. You are Beatrice."

Ororo could almost hear her hopes crumbling as he spoke those words. Releasing her hand, he fell into low genuflect at her feet, his one arm draped over his raised knee, his glowing eyes lowered humbly to the mossy slate below her feet. "Please, tell me what it is you wish of your humble servant and it will be done."

Confused and frightened and not sure how to deal with this truly bizarre turn of events, Ororo did the only thing that came to mind. She strode forward and grasped the horned man's shoulders, giving him a gentle, though firm, shake.

"Kurt, look at me," she demanded. "Look at me! You are not Belasco and I am certainly not Beatrice.”

She fell to her knees beside him, cupping his narrow chin in her hands as she forced him to look into her eyes.

“My name is Ororo Munroe,” she told him, using all her control to keep her voice from breaking. "We’ve been friends, teammates, for years. Please, Kurt, tell me you remember me? Tell me you’re still in there somewhere.”

For a moment, an instant, really, his golden eyes lit up with a flash of wondrous recognition. His ruddy features softened into a familiar expression of befuddlement, and suddenly, Ororo could see the ghost of her old friend’s handsome face blinking out at her from behind the demonic mask of Belasco’s russet skin.

“…Storm…?”

This stunning transformation lasted barely long enough for Ororo to draw in an astonished breath. Before she even had time to form a coherent thought in response to what she had just seen, the horned man had leapt to his feet, pulling her up roughly by the elbow and holding her at arm’s length. His grip was like a painful vice, and his pupilless yellow eyes burned with such dark emotions that the very sight of them terrified the brave woman straight through to her marrow.

“What do you want here?” he growled through clenched teeth, his sharp, pointed fangs gleaming wickedly in the moonlight. “Why did you come?”

At that moment, Ororo was unsure of the answer herself. She stared at the monster before her, desperately willing herself to overcome the terror that was freezing her body and threatening to overwhelm her thoughts. Calling on her link with the elements, Storm began to gather the stray zaps of electricity that were streaking unnoticed through the air around them.

Belasco snarled in fury as her deep, blue eyes began to whiten. With a vicious shake, he leaned his narrow face in close to hers, his eyes gleaming with deadly intent. “Don’t even consider it, witch,” he spat. “I know all your devious little tricks. I knew this day would come sooner or later. I knew you X-Freaks would try to finish me off once you realized that I have lost my link with Limbo.”

He sneered, the look in his golden eyes causing her to shudder. “I must admit, disguising yourself as Beatrice was a new low I would not have expected even of you,” he said darkly, his tail twitching behind him like a snake. “But now you have revealed yourself, I will make your death all the more unpleasant.”

Ororo glared at him, preparing to twist out of his grip and come back with a flash of lighting so powerful it just might bring him to his senses. However, Belasco anticipated her movements, ensnaring her neck with his long, powerful tail and slowly beginning to squeeze.

“Very well,” he said with a flippant, careless air. “Death by strangulation, so be it. Pity though,” he smirked, fixing her with another malevolent glare. “I was so looking forward to hearing you scream.”

“Kurt!” Ororo gasped, desperately struggling to use what little breath remained her to save her friend from committing a crime she knew he would torture himself over for the rest of his life. “Kurt, I know you’re in there! I know you’re angry! But, Kurt, you must take control now. You cannot let Belasco continue to use you like this!” She choked as Belasco’s grip tightened, watching with detached interest as blurry spots began to swim before her eyes. She squeezed her eyes shut, putting all her remaining strength into forcing her constricting throat to form words. Even so, when she spoke, her voice was a barely audible croak, “No matter what you do to me, I will always love you, Kurt Wagner...my dearest...friend…..”

And the nighttime world slowly faded to black.

*******

Belasco looked down at the unconscious woman at his feet, the cold satisfaction he had felt twisting and curdling in his gut until he had to turn away, his glowing eyes burning with horrified shame at what he had just done.

“You fool,” he hissed, grinding his teeth, his sharp nails digging painfully into the flesh of his palm. “She came. After all this time, after all the waiting, the hoping, the ranting at the silent moon, one of the X-Men finally found the courage to reach out to you. And how do you respond?”

He turned back to face Ororo, his hard expression crumbling as he knelt down beside her.

“Ach, meine Liebling,” he whispered, slowly reaching out with trembling fingers to brush a stray strand of silvery hair from her mocha forehead. “What have I done?”

*******

Ororo slowly rose back to foggy consciousness, only to find she was lying sprawled on a cold, flat, stone floor. Her throat ached so much it was all she could do to emit a weak cough. As she did, she became aware of a presence looming over her, barely visible in the shadow of an arched, stone doorway. She struggled to sit up, to remember how she had gotten inside the cathedral, but a deep voice as chilling as death itself stopped her in mid-motion.

“I don’t want your pity, Ororo,” the shadow said, the faintest hint of an accent clinging like a ghost to his vowels. She could have sworn it hadn’t been there when he was speaking to her on the roof.

Ororo struggled to her feet, opening her mouth to protest. To her shock, nothing came out. Her damaged vocal chords would not allow her to speak. The dark figure before her averted his glowing eyes from the expression on her face.

“Leave this place now,” he said quietly, his voice burning with a bitter anger tinged with shame. “Go back to your friends.”

Ororo made no move to leave, wondering who it was that was speaking to her now. Was it still Belasco, deciding to let her go for some devious reason of his own—perhaps to lure the other X-Men into a trap of some sort after she’d returned home? Or could it possibly be….Kurt?

“I told you to go!” the cloaked figure snarled, stepping forward into the light. Her eyes widened as she saw he was now brandishing a long, gleaming sword in his single, powerful hand. Ororo stiffened in shock.

“GO!” the horned man roared, advancing on her like a monster out of her darkest childhood nightmares. “Go now, or I swear I will run you through in return for all the times you and your precious teammates have taken advantage of me, betrayed me, and abandoned me without a thought for my feelings! You are none of you worth my time or concern.”

“P…please…” Ororo managed to whisper--

“GO!” he screamed in a voice so full of rage and hurt that it broke Ororo’s heart to hear it. But, it was just what was needed to free her from her frozen stupor. As she ran for the heavy, wooden door, the anguished, bitter voice stabbed at her heels, giving her an added burst of speed.

“Go now! And never come back!”

As the thick door slammed behind her, she found she knew beyond all doubt who that voice had belonged to. For the first time since she’d known him, she realized she could never again expect forgiveness from Kurt Wagner.

"Sweet Goddess,” she sobbed painfully, her hoarse voice barely more than a whispered croak. “What have we done to you, my friend? What have we allowed to happen?"

Swiftly, Ororo called up a burst of wind and used it to lift herself into the air, unconsciously summoning a cold, drizzling rain to trail her all the way back to the mansion.


To Be Continued...

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Sat Jun 12, 2004 4:54 am

:cry That was heart breaking. I do hope she does not give up on him. Kurt needs hug, even if he tries to cut my head off.
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by ElfSpam » Mon Jun 14, 2004 4:54 am

I love the flow of the story, and the vivid characterization. You've done an awesome job of fleshing out Belasco and the conflict he and Kurt must have endured. I can't WAIT to read the next installment!!!!! :)
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