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

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

Post by Lauren » Mon Jun 14, 2004 2:23 pm

argh, for why you stop at such a place??? WHY????!!! I demand more of this! *glares*
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Rowena » Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:23 pm

The last few days have been really busy with work and stuff, so Im sorry I havent been around much lately, but I just finished this literally a second ago so Im posting it now before Im late for work!

*Deep breath*

Heres Ch. 4. Hope its OK! There should be less of a wait for Ch. 5. :D


Chapter Four

Scott Summers tossed and turned, then finally sat up. His mind was too full to sleep. Moving carefully so as not to disturb his sleeping wife, Scott exchanged his flexible sleep visor for his ruby-quartz glasses, slid his feet into his bedroom slippers, and padded silently out the bedroom door. If anyone had asked, he would have said he was just going down to the rec room to see what was playing on TV. However, deep down the responsible leader in him knew there was no way hed be able to sleep until Ororo had returned home, safe and sound.

Scott grabbed up the remote control and turned on the TV, then he stretched out on the long, comfortable sofa and sighed. The first twelve channels he flipped through were mainly infomercials and news broadcasts in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. After a few more flicks, the image of a ragged man with long hair and a scraggly beard being rescued by a small, wooden sailing ship caught and held his attention.

Scott frowned. Something about this movie seemed familiar. He could almost remember—no, he could remember watching it with Kurt ages ago, long before the disastrous face-off against the Gray Gargoyle. The crazy elf had been going on and on, comparing this movie to some earlier version from the 1930s or something. Scott hadnt paid much attention at the time, but he knew he could remember the title. It was right on the tip of his tongue...

"Youre watching the 1975 TV classic, The Count of Monte Cristo starring Richard Chamberlain and Tony Curtis. Coming up next, dont miss Stewart Granger and Mel Ferrer in the movie that boasts one of the longest sword duels in swashbuckling history: the 1952 film adaptation of Rafael Sabatinis Scaramouche. Then at three, lighten up with Danny Kaye in The Court Jester. Its an all night movie marathon, right here on..."

Scott snapped his fingers as he listened to the announcers voice, a smile spreading across his face. Of course! The Count of Monte Cristo--one of those corny old sword-fighting flicks Kurt had always been so keen on. His smile broadened as he recalled how positively exuberant the elf used to get whenever one of those musty old things came on TV. And tonight there was a marathon! If Kurt had been there with him right then, he would have been in heaven!

Scott blinked at that thought, then swallowed hard against the sudden lump in his throat, his heart sinking as he ran his hand slowly through his hair.

He should have gone with Ororo. He had given in to her far too easily, allowing his own guilt over Kurts condition to make her argument for her. And now, she was out there without any back-up or support, determined to face Kurt alone.

Scott snorted, his gaze hardening behind his visor. That creature she was so determined to confront was not their Kurt, not by any stretch of the imagination. He was disturbed, angry—sadistic! For all intents and purposes, he was the demon he appeared to be. He was a violent, hate- filled monster, and most of that burning hatred was directed at the X-Men.

Scott sighed through his teeth, staring at the commercials without really seeing them. If anything happened to Ororo, it would be entirely his fault. He had let her walk straight into a snake pit, and he had done it despite knowing that this snake was all the more poisonous for the very fact that the good, open-hearted man he had once been still held such a sway over their hearts. Kurt Wagner been the soul of the team for so long; he had been such a dear friend to them all. If they allowed themselves to hope he could return to them, if they let him get too close, Belasco could and would use their own guilt and pain to destroy them—and he would extract a cruel pleasure from every moment of it.

The movie had returned, but Scott couldnt stand to watch it any longer. He turned off the TV, then slammed the remote down onto the coffee table as he shot up from the sofa and started pacing. He was seething with frustration and worry. If Ororo didnt return in three minutes, he was heading out to find her, no matter the risk. Belasco had already stolen Kurt from them. He wasnt about to let him take Ororo as well.

Scotts dark thoughts were interrupted by the distant sound of the front door opening. Ororo! Without thinking, the leader of the X-Men dashed down the hallway to the foyer, nearly tripping on the edge of the patterned rug in his hurry.

Ororo was there, leaning limply against the back of the door, her mocha features cloaked by the darkness of the room. The moon, which had been shining brightly while Scott was in the rec room, was now obscured by clouds, and a light, drizzly rain had started outside.

"Ororo?" Scott asked, his voice soft and cautious as he slowly approached her, treading carefully through the dark room. "How did it go?"

Ororo looked up, her wide eyes glittering in the dim light of the streetlamp by the driveway, her damp hair appearing almost gray. Then, before Scott could react, the normally stoic Ororo was in his arms, clinging to him desperately as she sobbed brokenly against his chest.

"Hes there, Scott," she whispered hoarsely into his shoulder. "Its Kurt. I saw him. He spoke to me."

Scott frowned, stroking her back as she continued to cry. "Ororo, whats wrong with your voice?" he asked as gently as he could. "What happened out there?"

Ororo just shook her head, her wet clothes, hair, and tears leaving a damp spot on Scotts nightshirt. Scotts frown deepened, and he broke her embrace to seek out the light switch.

"No, Scott!" Ororo croaked as she realized what he was doing. "Dont! Its all right. I—"

But it was too late. Bright light flooded the foyer, causing them both to squint and blink as their eyes adjusted. Ororo just stood there, stoic and aloof as she met Scotts gaze without anger or shame. Scott gasped, then glared as he caught sight of the bruises on Ororos slender neck.

"Did he do this to you," he demanded, advancing on her in a fury. Ororo didnt answer, her expression calm and unwavering. The red, multi-faceted lenses of Scott’s glasses began to glow as his eyes flashed in anger.

"Dont you dare defend him, Ororo. If Belasco hurt you, you have to tell me."

"Yes," Ororo acknowledged after a long, tense pause, her hoarse voice barely above a whisper. "Belasco did try to hurt me. But Kurt let me go. I think...I think he was trying to protect me."

Scott furrowed his brow over his shades. "What do you mean?"

Ororo just shook her head, raising one hand to her bruised throat. Scott scowled, then sighed, reaching out to put a brotherly hand on her shoulder.

"Come on," he said. "Lets get you down to the medbay. We can talk about this once youre better."

Ororo nodded, allowing Scott to lead her to the stairs.

Outside, the chill, drizzling rain continued to fall.


: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 » Thu Jun 17, 2004 5:10 pm

:( Poor 'Ro, shes got a bruise. You must write more, but don't feel rushed, savvy?
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Rowena » Sat Jun 19, 2004 10:47 pm

I will, don't worry! And I'll try to stop feeling so rushed, too. It's just all the projects I have going on right now that make me feel I have to run everywhere. But, really, if you do start to feel I'm taking too long to update, feel free to give me a nudge and I'll hurry it up, no problem! :D

As for Ch. 5.... I've started it, but it's not quite done yet. Angst is hard for me. It keeps going cheezy or long-winded and repetitive and I have to re-write it to make it better. Anyway, it's almost done and should be up soon! Thank you for your patience, and I'm really happy you're liking this story!!!!!!! :D
"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 John Doe » Sun Jun 20, 2004 3:03 pm

This story is absurdly well written. I love the characterization (for example, Scott noting the swordfighting movies) and as Zamweasel said, I like that Scott has feelings. I had no prior knowledge of who Belasco was, but your writing has brought me pretty much up to speed. This is a most excellent literary effort by probably my favorite author on the site. You've proven your versatility- switching from the fast-paced, science-based (woohoo, that rhymed) "Hero" to an angst-laden "Belasco". For someone who claims they are no good at angst, you've pulled it off beautifully!

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

Post by Rowena » Sun Jun 20, 2004 10:17 pm

:stunned Wow! Thanks so much! :blush

I feel all inspired now. I'm going off right now to get some work done on Ch. 5 so, hopefully, it'll be ready by tomorrow. Until then--dance, Kurt, dance!

:dance

Yeah, I know it's silly, but it's Father's Day and we just had a party so I'm in a happy mood right now. Make that a really happy mood after reading that review! :D

P.S. Did you know they have a little Belasco smilie? Look at this!

:belasco

Isn't that cool? :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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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Sun Jun 20, 2004 10:53 pm

:LOLI knew! I knew! I think that smiley is cute, love how he blinks, doesn't he look clueless?

John Doe is right, your writing is incredible, and you write angst perfectly, don't change!
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Rowena » Tue Jun 22, 2004 5:23 pm

I tried to post this yesterday, but my computer kept telling me the page couldnt be displayed. I dont know if that was just my computer being weird or what. Anyway, heres Ch. 5! I really hope its not too cheezy or anything. Please let me know what you think of it!

NOTE: Anna and Paul are both original characters and students at Xaviers school.


Chapter Five

For a moment it had all been so clear. She had been there—she had touched him, held his hand, and he had remembered. He had remembered her, and the memories had been real; vibrant. The sun on her snowy hair, so bright against her mocha skin; the sheer power behind her slender form as the lightening she had called flashed through the turbulent skies; her smile as she spoke to him; the touch of her hand on his wrist, guiding him as he helped her plant a row of flowers in the rich loam of her garden.

The images had come in a sudden, brilliant flash of clarity, her voice drawing them from him, beckoning him out of the darkness and away from the confusion, anger, and loneliness that had defined his life for so long. For a moment, his heart had been light and he could see…

And then, as quickly as it had come, the clarity had gone, leaving only the painful bitterness of its passing.

Kurt Wagner sighed, a sigh so deep and ragged it was almost a sob, his shoulders trembling as he pressed his head back against the cold stones of the wall by the pile of rags and musty cloths that made up his bed. He turned his anguished gaze to the shadowy rafters high above, slowly sinking down to crouch on the floor, his tail curling around to hug his knees as he fought against the tears stinging his eyes.

Three days ago, she had come. She had reached out to him—and then it had all disappeared in a hazy fog of rage. It was as though he had blacked out, but he had still been aware. Somewhere through the blinding pain, beyond the anger and hatred that had flooded his mind, he had still been conscious of her. He had heard her calling to him through the thickening fog, but the answering voice had not been his. It had been the voice of another…the cold, venomous voice of Belasco.

Kurt squeezed his eyes closed against the lump constricting his throat, fighting against the urge to lower his head, to sink his fingers in his hair. As long as he didnt look down, he could be himself. As long as he wasnt reminded of what he had become, he could be the man he had been. If he looked at his hand, his boots, if he touched the horns on his forehead or caught a glimpse of his shadow against the stone floor, Belasco would return. For now, however, Kurt was in control.

The sight of Ororo unconscious on the roof, just lying there so helpless and vulnerable, so completely at his mercy had jarred Kurt free of the fog, pulling him out of the darkness of his own mind. For that moment, all the anger, all the frustrated bitterness that fueled Belasco’s burning hate had fallen away under the force of Kurt’s sudden wave of stunned concern for her, giving him the opportunity to carry his former friend and teammate to safety.

He had crouched there in the darkness of the abandoned cathedral, just watching her as she breathed. He’d had no idea what to say to her, no idea of what Belasco had done to make her lose consciousness in the first place. So he had just waited, still and silent as a statue, until she finally opened her crystal eyes.

The undisguised terror that had twisted her expression when she’d looked at him had nearly caused Belasco and all his rage to overwhelm him once again. The fear in her eyes had cut him to the core, even after so much time. It would have been so easy to just surrender to the encroaching fog, to let himself slip away into the darkness as he had so many times before. But this time, something had been different. This time, Kurt Wagner had fought back.

Although she was most likely unaware of it, Ororo’s visit had sparked something deep within him, something that had only continued to grow as the days passed. She had given him a reason to hope again. For the first time since discovering the truth of his identity, Kurt found himself truly believing that there was a chance his former friends had not given up on him, that perhaps…perhaps his redemption was possible after all. The brilliant flash of clarity Ororo had bestowed him had left a lingering afterglow in his heart, awakening a ghostly warmth—the warmth of compassion, of belonging, of love; feelings that had lain dormant and buried for so long he had nearly forgotten…

It was the hesitant, gradual reawakening of these feelings that had enabled Kurt to retain control for so long. The rage was still there, lurking at the edges of his psyche, just waiting for the opportunity to flare up once more. But for now…for now he could be himself.

Taking a deep breath, Kurt rose to his feet, fixing his golden gaze firmly on the stars shining outside his window.

“My name is Kurt Wagner,” he stated, his voice firm and sure, his words colored with the distant memory of a German accent.

“My name is Kurt Wagner!” he shouted out into the darkness of the crumbling city, blinking his eyes forcefully against the sudden sting of unshed tears. Clenching his fist, he lifted his chin, his tail lashing behind him as his thin, russet lips stretched into a cold, triumphant smile.

“It is Belasco who is dead.”

*******

“This way,” Anna whispered through her giggles, her large, orange eyes bright in the moonlight.

“Where are we going?” Paul hissed back, laughing himself as she grabbed his scaly arm and pulled him closer.

“Just follow me,” she said, her smile impish as she pushed the side door open and dragged him through.

“Won’t we get in trouble?” he asked, slightly worried. “Going outside after curfew…”

”We won’t leave the grounds,” Anna assured him. “Don’t tell me you’re chickening out all ready.”

“No!” Paul said quickly. “No, I just… It would really suck to get expelled after only eight weeks, don’t you think?”

Anna rolled her eyes. “Honestly,” she sneered. “You won’t get expelled, believe me. And we won’t get caught either.”

She stopped their progress under a nearby tree, stepping close and looking deep into his yellow-slitted, reptilian eyes. “Now,” she said with a wicked smile. “It’s time to see if you really trust me. Climb up onto that tree branch.”

She pointed to a thick branch just above their heads, then stepped aside to give him room. Paul shot her a somewhat nervous glance, chuckling slightly.

“If I’d known going out with you was going to involve so many risks…”

”So it’s true then!” Anna exclaimed, angrily placing her hands on her hips. “You really did mean what you said at lunch.”

”Anna, I don’t even remember what I said at lunch,” Paul protested.

“You don’t believe I’ll catch you, do you,” Anna stated. “You actually think I’d let you fall.”

”It’s not that, Anna, really,” Paul tried, taking a step closer to her. “It’s just, I’m afraid of heights and—“

”You don’t think I can control my powers well enough to catch you,” she continued as if he hadn’t even spoken. “That’s it, isn’t it? You don’t trust me.”

Paul threw up his hands in a helpless gesture of surrender. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll do it, OK? If my suicide is what it’ll take to convince you of my utter respect and admiration for your abilities, then that’s what I’ll do. Here I go. I’m climbing the tree, see?”

”There’s no reason to be so sarcastic,” Anna scowled, watching as he hesitantly scooted out onto the branch.

“OK, I’m up here,” he said, his slender, forked tongue flicking in and out of his mouth in anxiety. “What do you want me to do now?”

“Stand on the branch with your back towards me,” Anna instructed, “then let yourself fall.”

Paul’s laugh was about two octaves too high. “Yeah. Right. Let myself fall. Sounds like fun.”

“Just do it, Paul,” she said impatiently. “I’ll make an energy net to catch you.”

“Make the net first,” Paul said, his voice high and shaky. “Then I’ll do it.”

”But the whole point is to show you I can get the timing right,” Anna protested.

“Anna, I know you can get the timing right,” Paul cried, clinging desperately to the branch with both arms. “I just want to see the net, or else I won’t be able to stand up. I wasn’t kidding when I told you I’m afraid of heights!”

Anna looked up at him as though seeing him for the first time. Her eyes widened, then her angry, defensive expression softened. “You’re not kidding, are you,” she said, her voice much gentler. “You really are scared.”

”No duh, geniusss,” Paul snapped shakily, his flickering tongue making him hiss slightly.

“And you climbed all the way up there just for me?” Anna said, clasping her hands in front of her chest. “Oh, Paul, you really do trust me, don’t you!”

”I told you I did, but you wouldn’t believe me.”

”I’ll make you a net right away,” she said, cracking her fingers then making an odd, circular gesture in the air. A large, glowing net shot from her hands, hovering just under the tree branch, several feet off the ground.

“OK, now just relax and let yourself go. The net is here to catch you, don’t worry.”

Just then, Anna heard Paul cry out in pain and alarm. She jumped, nearly losing control of her net.

“Paul, what is it?” she exclaimed. “Are you OK?”

“That wasn’t me,” Paul gasped out, more frightened than ever. “Just get me down, OK?!”

“Then who—“

”I don’t know, OK?!” Paul cried. “Probably someone from the mansion. Please get me down, Anna. Please!”

“OK, Paul,” she nodded, sobering as she returned her concentration to sustaining her glowing energy net. “The net’s secure. Just roll off the branch and I’ll lower you down.”

Paul took several deep breaths, then nodded. “OK,” he said, “I’m ready. Just promise me you won’t tell anyo—“

Just then, there was a loud crack and a rustle of leaves as something large and dark plummeted out of the shadows above them to land heavily in the glowing net. Paul and Anna both screamed, the net vanishing as her concentration broke. As the dark shape continued its descent to the grass, Paul lost his balance on the tree branch. Luckily, the mysterious form broke his fall.

Paul sat up slowly, leaning forward to see what it was he had landed on.

“Anna,” he whispered, his trembling voice breaking. “Anna, are you ssstill there?”

”Paul?” Anna sounded no better than her boyfriend as she crept closer, her breaths short and loud.

“It’sss a man,” Paul hissed nervously, reaching out to tentatively pull aside his deep, red cloak so he could catch a glimpse of his narrow face. “He’sss not moving.”

”Do you think he’s…you know…dead?”

Anna and Paul looked at each other for a long, tense moment, then both students broke out into panicked screams, dashing away from the fallen stranger and back towards the mansion as fast as their legs could carry them.


: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 » Tue Jun 22, 2004 8:04 pm

Nope, it wasn't just yours, my computer was being strange also.


LUUUUUUUUUUUVVVV this story, I really enjoy reading your work, it helps me relax.:)
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by John Doe » Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:08 pm

Yeah, mine did much the same.

This was a chapter that, while short, hit all the right notes. It's a really effective technique when you can use completely irrelevant characters and for a brief moment make them relevant. It shows the reader that this problem affects everyone around the main characters and is not just some minor threat that can be kept under wraps. It also sort of reminded me of those scenes in Law and Order where someone finds the body and then you don't see them the rest of the episode. You did a brilliant job of characterizing the two kids, even though we'll probably never see them again.

This chapter also left us with a great cliffhanger as to what happened to this man. Which, actually, brings me to my next point- you could have been a bit clearer describing what happened. I was a little confused as to what exactly happened- I didn't know if someone had fallen out of the same tree, or if someone had been walking along and it was only when he fell that the kids noticed him, or what. It was a bit confusing. I did get it, though, after reading a few times.

Other than that, brilliant job and I can't wait to read the next chapter while I lazily try and add more onto "Bloodmetal Candidate".

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

Post by ElfSpam » Thu Jun 24, 2004 4:10 am

I have to say, you continue to impress me with the internal conflict ongoing within Nightcrawler/Belasco. Your characters' interaction is also very well written.
I LOVE this story! Can't wait to read the next chapter. :)
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by StarLightCrawler » Thu Jun 24, 2004 12:18 pm

I realy do like this stroy the best so far. Seems with every new stroy I like your writeing even more. I like the character deepth in this story the most.
Sorry for any miss typing or miss spelling.
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Post by Rowena » Mon Jun 28, 2004 12:51 am

Oh, wow! :D Thank you so much! I just hope this next chapter can live up to all the wonderful things youve said about the ones that came before it. :blush

Hey, yeah! That scene is a little like Law and Order! Awesome! Anna and Paul will actually turn up a few more times, but theyll just be in the backround.

OK, here goes. I know it took a while, but heres Ch. 6. The slightly confusing cliffhanger is explained, and Belasco/Kurt finally makes it into the mansion!


Chapter Six

A powerful thrill of fear shocked Charles Xavier out of a restless sleep, overpowering his senses and flooding his mind with thoughts, memories, and emotions that were not his. A tall oak tree overlooking Ororo’s garden; a shadowy form falling, its deep red cloak billowing out behind it; a glowing energy net; a rush of panic at the realization that the man who had fallen—a stranger with red skin and horns—was not moving.

Xavier’s eyes shot open, his breath coming in short gasps as he slowly came to himself. That face he had just seen—the man with the horns... It was not the face of a stranger.

The old man swallowed, forcing his breathing to slow to normal as he reached for the intercom switch by his bed. He could have contacted Scott through a direct telepathic link, but this late at night he was most likely asleep. The Professor figured it would be best not to wake him in such an intrusive way. Besides, his wife, Jean, was away at a conference so he wouldn’t have to worry about waking her as well.

Flicking the switch, Xavier dragged himself up into a sitting position and leaned his back against the headboard.

“Scott,” he said. “Scott, I’m sorry to disturb your sleep but please respond.”

There was a brief pause, then Scott’s slightly sleep-thickened voice filled the Professor’s room.

“Professor?” he yawned. “What’s the problem?”

”I fear we may have an emergency on our hands,” Xavier explained. “Will you please wake Hank and Ororo? And locate Anna Dvorkin and Paul Carter. I would like to have a talk with them.”

“Of course, Charles,” Scott assured him, although his tone was wary. “Just what is the nature of this emergency?”

Xavier sighed. “I believe Belasco has been stalking the mansion,” he said softly. “Anna and Paul had the misfortune of running into him tonight on the grounds.”

A muffled hiss that sounded remarkably like a swear came over the intercom. Xavier frowned.

“Scott,” he said sharply, “would you happen to know anything about this?”

Scott sighed deeply. “I— You remember Ororo’s accident some three nights ago?”

”Yes, of course. She had to wear a neck brace for two days.”

”Well, it wasn’t an accident.” Scott admitted. “It was Belasco. Ororo went to see him that night. I’m not sure, but it’s possible that’s the reason he’s come here now.”

Xavier straightened, his lips tightening in anger. “Why wasn’t I told,” he demanded.

“Well, we—“

“Belasco is a cruel, calculating demon, one of the few enemies we X-Men have left!” Xavier interrupted angrily. “If you knew about this, you should have stopped her, Scott! You should have known Belasco would see her overtures as a weakness on our part, a weakness he could manipulate! And now he’s come here to this school, threatening our students! I can’t believe you would be so short-sighted, so—“

”I know!” Scott snapped, cutting him off. “You’re right. I should have stopped her. But I didn’t. I couldn’t! And you know why as well as I do.”

Xavier closed his eyes against a sudden, painful lump in his throat. “Kurt is dead, Scott,” he said at last, his voice hoarse and quiet. “He’s not coming back. I know it’s hard to accept, but—“

”I know,” Scott sighed. “Belasco can use our hope against us. It’s just...it’s so unfair, Professor! Why Kurt? He doesn’t deserve this.”

“No,” Xavier agreed softly. “He doesn’t. But there’s nothing we can do about it. If we accept that, Belasco will no longer hold any power over us.

“Now, go wake the others—and be sure to keep this quiet. I don’t want to start a panic among the students. I’ll meet you at the oak tree by Ororo’s garden in five minutes. Be prepared. We might have to go into...aggressive negotiations.”*

”Yes, sir,” Scott acknowledged. “I understand.”

Xavier cut the transmission, then leaned back against the headboard, his shoulders sagging and his head lowered. He had known this would happen sooner or later, that Belasco would return. His hatred for the X-Men, and for Xavier in particular, was too deep-seated to lay dormant for long. Xavier just hadn’t expected that the prospect of seeing him again would hurt so much.

Shaking those dark sentiments from his mind, Xavier hoisted himself into his electric wheelchair and headed for the door. From what he had gathered from the minds of the two students who had encountered him, Belasco was unconscious. If they worked fast, they could have him securely contained in the sub-basement before dawn. Then...then they would see what happened next.

*This is a Star Wars reference, I believe.

*******

The instant she got Scott’s call, Ororo pulled on her bathrobe and called up a wind to lift her from her balcony window. She arrived at the oak tree just as Dr. Hank McCoy opened the side door of the mansion for Scott and the Professor. Ororo frowned, determined to do what she could to help Kurt before they arrived.

Falling to her knees, Ororo quickly brushed Belasco’s blood-red cloak aside and reached for his wrist, feeling for a pulse. After a breathless moment, she found one. It was weak, but steady.

Ororo breathed a sigh of relief, then closed her eyes, running a hand through her silvery hair as a confusing swell of mixed emotions washed over her. Was it her fault that he was lying there? What had happened to him? Why had he come?

“Kurt?” she whispered into his pointed ear, glancing up warily to keep track of the others’ progress across the lawn. “Kurt, can you hear me?”

There was no response. Biting her lip, Ororo reached out to take his clawed, red hand in hers, noting that once again he had tied his fingers together in twos. She squeezed his palm gently. She wanted Kurt to wake up, yet at the same time she was terrified of what might happen if he opened his eyes and it was Belasco looking up at her.

With a small sigh, she turned her attention to his bandages. It looked like he had been wearing them for days. They were filthy, blackened and frayed at the edges and covered with stains, and they probably weren’t very good for his circulation either. Shaking her head slightly she started to undo the knots that kept the soiled cloths so tightly secured.

Barely had she touched his fingers when his eyes shot open, glowing dark gold in the nighttime dimness. He cried out in pain, yanking his hand away from her gentle grasp and pressing it to his chest, curling himself up into a protective ball on the grass.

“Ach, Gott,” he gasped, his faintly accented voice hoarse and strained. “It hurts. Ach, Gott, Ororo, it hurts!”

Ororo jumped to her feet, her heart pounding in her chest. “Kurt?” she exclaimed. “Kurt, is that you?”

“Storm!” Scott yelled, running up beside her with Hank and the Professor close behind. “What’s wrong with you? Get away from him!”

“Oh, my stars and garters,” Hank gasped, staring wide-eyed at the sight before him. The demon Belasco was curled up on the grass, his long tail writhing wildly behind him as he gasped with pain. At that sight, all the Professor’s warnings about approaching the demon faded from his mind and his instincts as a doctor took over. Here, before him, was a man in obvious pain. It was his duty to help him, no matter the potential risk he might pose in the long term.

“We must get him to the medbay,” Hank said, shooting Xavier a look that dared the old man to object. “You can question him when he’s in good enough shape to answer. Scott,” he ordered, crouching down beside the demon, “help me carry him inside.”

Before Scott could protest, however, the demon had shot to his feet, cradling his one arm carefully against his chest as he backed menacingly into the shadows under the tree.

“Kurt,” Ororo said, trying to keep her voice as gentle as possible, “they’re only trying to—“

“No,” the demon growled, baring his sharp fangs. His glowing eyes burned with a dark flame as he lashed his spaded tail back and forth like a whip.

“Don’t you touch me,” he hissed to Scott, his russet features tight with pain. “Don’t any of you dare touch me!”

“Fine then,” Scott snapped back, his own visor glowing dangerously. “If you don’t want our help, then go away. Go back to that slum you came from and leave us alone.”

The demon glared at him for a moment, his pointed teeth gleaming in the moonlight. Then, to the surprise of all four X-Men, he began to laugh. It was a low, angry sound, completely devoid of humor. Scott found he was backing away despite himself.

The demon’s laughter grew louder, swelling until it began to sound slightly deranged. Then, as suddenly and as unexpectedly as it had begun, it stopped. Storm, Cyclops, Beast, and Xavier shared uncomfortable looks among themselves as the demon stepped forward, a terrifying figure despite the awkward way he held his hand against his chest.

“Fool,” he spat, his narrow lip curling. “I was such a fool. To think it would be so simple, to...to think...”

He tilted his head back, the bone-chilling laughter starting up again. But this time, it was different. This time, the maniacal cackle sounded almost choked, more like an anguished sob than a laugh. The demon swayed on his feet, the laughter fading as he started to fall. Without thinking, Hank reached out a powerful, blue-furred arm to catch the slender man before he hit the grass.

“Oh my,” the large mutant said, looking down at the demon’s narrow face. “I do believe he’s fainted.”

Xavier closed his eyes, reaching out with his mind to make sure that Hank’s diagnosis was correct and that the demon wasn’t merely feigning unconsciousness.

“Hank’s right,” Xavier said, opening his eyes once more. “Get him down to the medbay and give him whatever treatment he requires. Remove whatever weapons he may be carrying and put up a forcefield around his bed. I want to be notified the moment he regains consciousness.”

Hank nodded, scooping the unconscious Belasco into his thick, furry arms and loping his way back to the mansion. Scott stared after them for a moment, then turned to the Professor.

“What about the kids?” he asked. “Anna and Paul. I told them to wait for you in the foyer.”

Xavier sighed. “I’ll talk to them. Scott, you go down to the medbay. Make certain Belasco is safely contained. It’s not that I don’t trust Hank, but sometimes he gets so wrapped up in treating the patient...”

”That he forgets the danger he can pose, I know,” Scott nodded, already turning to follow Hank. “I’ll see to it.”

”Good,” Xavier nodded. Then he turned to Ororo. “Storm, I’d like you to—“

”Charles,” Ororo interrupted, her expression firm. “I’m going down to the medbay as well. I, too, want to be there when Kurt wakes up.”

“Ororo,” Xavier said patiently, his cultured voice just a shade short of condescending. “The man we just saw was not the Kurt Wagner we knew—“

”I know that,” Ororo snapped, her crystal eyes clouding angrily as her silvery hair began to rise from her shoulders. “And he never will be again, not after all he’s been through. But he’s still Kurt Wagner, nonetheless. And despite everything he’s done, I’m not going to give up on him. He’s been abandoned too many times by the people he’s cared about most. I’m not about to add my name to the list.”

“Storm,” Xavier called out, clenching his fist in frustration as she summoned a wind to lift her into the air. “Storm!”

But his cries were futile. Ororo was already gone, leaving him alone to wheel his way back to the mansion.


Next time: Hanks findings are revealed. Stay tuned!

: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 Azur » Mon Jun 28, 2004 5:37 pm

Originally posted by Rowena

Next time: Hank's findings are revealed. Stay tuned!

:bamf
kewl ! when, "next time" ? soon, please ? :puppy


:huh i have a question : the prof is still alive ? i thought in Universe X he died many years ago ...
:?

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Post by Rowena » Mon Jun 28, 2004 7:59 pm

Xavier's supposed to be dead? I thought it was Captain America who was dead. *wince* There's a big oops. I was kind of counting on Xavier being alive... Should I change it? I know I said at the very beginning that I don't know much about Universe X. You see, this story is inspired by the events in Universe X, but I am taking some artistic liberties with certain aspects of it so it's not exactly 'canon'. I did some research on Belasco's history and Universe X on the Internet in preparation for writing this story, but I didn't find much that was helpful, just confusing and even contradictory. I couldn't go back to the original sources because I don't have much access to older X-Men or Ka-Zar The Savage (where Belasco first appeared) comic books where I live and I've been having a truly terrible time searching for back issues. None of the little shops seem to have what I'm looking for, and I've been looking for months! The libraries don't have any older X-Men comics either, or many new ones for that matter. It's very frustrating! My lack of knowlege was my biggest concern about writing this story in the first place. But after the response the first chapter got, I had a long debate with myself and finally decided to fill in the rather substantial gaps with a combination of my own imagination and some historical research I did on the real Dante Aligheri and Beatrice Portinari. I made up a human name and a backstory for Belasco and his relationship with the Elder Gods and I worked out the reasons and motivations behind what happened to Kurt after leaving the Gray Gargoyle as well as what he and his team were doing there in the first place (all of which will be seen in upcoming chapters). So Belasco contacting the Elder Gods and being transformed into a demon, his kidnapping of Beatrice and fight with Dante when he lost his arm and was frozen in ice, Kurt's confrontation with the Gray Gargoyle where he lost his arm and his powers and was beaten to a pulp by a crowd of angry mutants, Kurt's corruption by Mephisto and transformation into Belasco, Kurt being told of his true identity by the reborn Captain Mar-Vell child person and finding Belasco's body encased in ice, and Kurt stalking the X-Men from that tree in the beginning of this story all have their basis in actual comic lore. Everything else is made up.

Erm. That was rather a long rant, wasn't it. Sorry about that. I'm just not sure what I should do now. I was planning on going into Xavier's history with Kurt and stuff. But if he's dead... Should I change Ch. 6 to have it be Jean instead of Xavier? Or is Jean dead too? I could just take the easy way out and proclaim this story takes place in an alternate universe: Earth 666.

Ack, help! You guys are the readers, you tell me how you want it to be. Does Xavier stay or does he go? If he goes, which telepath should I replace him with? Does anyone know which X-Men are alive in Universe X so I don't unintentionally bring anyone else back from the dead? Or, since this is fanfiction, can I just say Xavier's alive and make it so?

I'll stop now before I wedge my foot any deeper into my mouth. My sock doesn't taste too good.
"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 theindigojester » Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:17 pm

I think you should just leave the story as is. You have already planned things using Xavier so just use him. That's one of the beautiful things about fanfiction is you can get away with doing that sort of thing. :D

Anyway, that is just my humble opinion. And I know I haven't posted in this topic yet (been busy with a new job) but I have been following this story and am enjoying it immensely. I can't wait (just like everyone else) to see what happens. Great job!
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Post by Rowena » Mon Jun 28, 2004 10:21 pm

I think you should just leave the story as is.
You do? *HUGE sigh of relief* OK, I'll just continue the way I was going. Just to make it official...

I, Rowena, making full use of the power and authority invested in me as the author of this fanfic--and with the support of theindigojester--hereby proclaim Charles Xavier to be alive.

Ta da!

For the rest of the story I'll put in little notes and things like I did with Anna and Paul to let you know which parts are from the comics and which parts are made up. Hopefully, that will help to make this story less confusing as it goes on!

I'm going to start working on Ch. 7 tonight but I have to go to work tomorrow so it might be a little while before it's done. Thanks so much for your support! It's really great knowing you're enjoying this story! :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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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by Saint Kurt » Mon Jun 28, 2004 11:13 pm

I just realized that while I've been posting to my thread and reading the others, I haven't posted on any feedback in way too long. I'm kind of in a time crunch at the moment with the clock ticking on Nightcrawler (the costume) and trying to work on my own story which is at the crux of it's crazy complexity. But I've been wanting to pop in to say I've been reading and enjoying.

I think resurecting Charles is fine too. There are some crazy byzantine plot lines in XMen and the whole Belasco/Kurt Wagner thing is one of them. (Another is the universe with Nocturne. I get lost reading a summary let alone the comics themselves.) Sometimes it's better to straighten a few of the twists to tell a good tale.

I look forward to the next chapter.
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Tue Jun 29, 2004 5:06 am

:clap Yet again, I am impressed by your literature.

It doesn't matter if Xavier is alive or dead, this is your fic, make it unique:p;)
one name: Bruce Campbell

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Post by StarLightCrawler » Tue Jun 29, 2004 9:49 pm

I like the others don't mind that he is alive.
I think will all the twist and turn that the comic's take and stuff it is hard to keep up. I still have dis agrements(sp) with my friend over the whole Jean Gray and Phoenix thing.
Also i liked the last chapter. Though i don't know if it was Kurt or Belasco in controle that time. Got me woundering what Hank will find.
Can't wait to see whats next.
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 Rowena » Thu Jul 01, 2004 2:05 am

Yay! I'm really relieved you don't mind about my blooper. I agree, many of those comic stories are a bit too twisted and convoluted for their own good, and this is coming from someone who loves complicated and convoluted plotlines! I think with this story, though, a few of the twists pertaining to Belasco's strange and confusing past will be straightened out.

I wrote up a short blurb on Belasco and his history in the comics and posted it here at:
http://www.fanfiction.net/read.php?stor ... &chapter=7

if anyone's interested in finding out more about him.

Ch. 7's not done yet--sorry! I start a second summer job tomorrow and since I was so nervous I drew a picture instead of finishing the chapter. It'll be done by the end of the week, though.

Thanks again for your support and your wonderful comments! :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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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Thu Jul 01, 2004 4:41 pm

Yep, thats about all my knowledge on him too, don't worry, this story is fabulous, you're doing just fine.

:*D
originally posted by Rowena
(Rather like Boris Grishenko in James Bond: Golden Eye! (little joke. Actor Alan Cumming played both Boris and Nightcrawler in the movies.) ;D ).
That is sooooo funny, I so totally got that, and I started cracking up so hard that my sister thought I was chocking cause I couldn't breath.
one name: Bruce Campbell

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

Post by Rowena » Wed Jul 07, 2004 3:26 am

Sorry Ive been so long, everyone, but what with two summer jobs, three people fighting over one computer, five people battling the on-going telephone vs. internet war, and the 4th of July, I honestly have only had time to write about a paragraph a night. Which stinks because as soon as I get into it, I have to get off the computer and lose my train of thought entirely! URGH!

I just finished the chapter, but its still really choppy to my mind, especially at the end. Unfortunately, Ive run out of time to fix it. Its less than an hour to midnight and I have to get up at 4 tomorrow morning to catch a plane to Las Vegas! My Dads taking me to fight the Borg Invasion at the Las Vegas Hiltons Star Trek Experience! Its a graduation/birthday present. Im absolutely bursting with excitement! I really wanted to get this chapter up before I left, though. Its already been a week since I last updated!

I get back from Las Vegas on Monday, so hopefully Ill have time to work on Ch. 8 then. If this chapter really is as confusing and just generally smeggy as I fear, just tell me what you dont like or like about it and Ill make changes accordingly. Thank you! :D

P.S. I take full responsibility for any and all mess ups I made with the Italian. I lost my dictionary and didnt have time to go searching for it so I did all the translations off the top of my head. I hope its not too awful!

And now, without further ado, here is Ch. 7!

Chapter Seven

Ororo stood in the medbay just outside the doorway to Hank’s adjoining laboratory. The large, furry mutant had been working steadily for the past four hours, drawing samples and running tests in an attempt to discover not only the reason his patient had lost consciousness on the lawn, but also the truth of his identity.

Ororo sighed, leaning her back against the cold, metallic wall. Closing her eyes, she brought her fingers to her temples and began rubbing in slow, calming circles. Outside, the sun had already risen, warming the nighttime chill from the air and evaporating the tiny, crystalline drops of dew that had collected on the grass. The birds were singing in the trees, the squirrels were chattering, the insects were humming and buzzing. But Ororo couldn’t hear them. All she could hear was the mechanical hum of the ventilation system, Hank’s distracted muttering and humming from where he was working in the next room, the soft clacking of Scott’s shoes as he paced beside their prisoner’s bed with slow, deliberate steps. And all of it was overshadowed by the steady, impersonal beeps and hisses from the machines monitoring the unconscious man she alone seemed to believe was Kurt Wagner.

Ororo lowered her head and clenched her fists in angry frustration, struggling to slow her quickening breaths. Breathing in deeply through her nose, she tried to picture herself on the roof of the mansion, looking out over the rustling treetops to the hazy horizon in the far distance. Normally that would have helped calm her so she could focus her thoughts, but today her efforts weren’t doing much good. The former weather goddess had been trapped underground in the subbasement for four hours now, surrounded by metal walls and breathing sterile, recycled air; hemmed in by hanging, florescent lights, their impersonal brightness reflecting in the smooth, polished floor… The regular, mechanical sounds assaulting her ears were so loud, so repetitive, so utterly maddening!

She opened her eyes wide, struggling to control the frantic, trapped feeling squeezing her heart as it pounded in her chest. She needed to get out of there, if only for a moment. She needed to feel the sun on her face, the breeze flowing through her hair. This place was too sterile, too cold. It was an airless box, a prison, a tomb. The large space was getting smaller by the moment, and Ororo was finding it harder and harder to breathe…

“Ororo?”

Ororo gave a violent start, turning quickly to face the man who had spoken.

“Oh, Scott!” she smiled with a rather shaky laugh, bringing a hand to her chest as she felt her heartbeat begin to slow. “I’m sorry, I was just…. You startled me, that’s all.”

Somehow, Scott had managed to come up beside her without her noticing. He was now regarding her with a concerned expression. It bothered the normally stoic elemental to realize her…discomfort…had been so obvious.

“You holding up OK?” he asked softly. Ororo’s jaw tightened slightly as she noted how, although he was looking straight at her, he always managed to keep Kurt in his sights. The intellectual part of her knew that it was a necessary safety precaution to make sure that they didn’t turn their backs on Belasco for a moment—especially since Hank had insisted the forcefield remain down until he was certain he didn’t need any more blood or DNA samples— but emotionally, it galled her to think of Kurt as under armed guard by his own friends. By the Goddess, the poor man was unconscious and he was in pain. He was strapped to the bed and hooked up to machines! Wasn’t that enough?

Ororo sighed angrily through her nose, then turned to Scott.

“Yes,” she responded at last, her voice calm and steady once more. “I’m fine, Scott. Thank you.”

Scott nodded slowly, but Ororo knew she wasn’t fooling him for a moment. He knew her and her claustrophobia too well to be put off by her aloof stare. She opened her mouth to say something else, but Scott beat her to it.

“It’ll probably be a while longer before Hank comes up with anything,” he said in a completely neutral tone of voice. “If you want to go out for a few minutes, you know, get some air…?”

“No,” Ororo retorted, a little more sharply than she had intended. She strode over to Kurt’s bedside and leaned her arms against the cool, metal railing, not looking at Scott.

“I’m not leaving him,” she insisted, her voice softer this time but no less firm. “I won’t.”

Scott looked like he was about to say something, but he pursed his lips instead with a small nod.

“OK, ‘Ro,” he said, coming up beside her and following her gaze down to Belasco’s russet face. Even with the oxygen tube running over his upper lip and tucked under his chin, now that he could see the demon’s features relaxed and calm, Scott had to admit that there was a marked resemblance to Kurt. It wasn’t exact, but that might have been because of the different skin color, or possibly the lack of fur…

Scott closed his eyes behind his visor and turned away, a sudden pang tightening his throat.

“You’re really convinced it’s him, aren’t you.”

Ororo glanced up, her brow furrowed slightly. Scott didn’t say anything more, and he didn’t turn back. Ororo sighed.

“I am,” she answered softly, looking down at Kurt. She frowned slightly as she noted how swollen and purple his fingers had become. Just looking at them was painful. Ororo longed to touch him, to try to bring him some comfort with her presence, but she was too afraid of hurting him to do more than gently brush a few errant strands of vibrant, red hair from his horned forehead.

“I know he’s…unbalanced,” she went on, running a hand agitatedly through her own snowy hair as she made the admission. “And I know he’s a danger to all of us as he is right now. But I also know he wants our help, Scott. You didn’t hear him under the tree. He called out to me.”

She swallowed, taking in a shaky breath. “The look in his eyes almost broke my heart,” she admitted, her voice barely above a whisper.

Scott turned to face her, his expression dark. “Belasco is a master of emotional manipulation,” he said. “I wouldn’t put anything past him if he thought it would suit his purpose. Don’t forget, Ororo…he’s already attacked you once.”

Ororo spun on him, her blue eyes blazing coldly in her mocha face. “Why are you so eager to just write Kurt off like this,” she snapped. “You and Charles both! Good and evil aren’t always so simple as the difference between night and day.”

She frowned, gesturing to the unconscious man strapped to the bed. “Belasco is our enemy, yes. So we must take the proper precautions to protect ourselves. Granted. But Belasco isn’t real, Scott. What is real is the fact that our friend has been physically altered and emotionally manipulated by person or persons unknown to the point where he believes he is Belasco. That doesn’t make him our enemy, Scott. That makes him a victim. And it is our duty to help him.”

“I’m not saying that we shouldn’t!” Scott retorted, his visor beginning to glow. “And I’m not ‘writing Kurt off’ as you say. He was my friend too, Ororo. You’re not the only one hurt by all this.”

”No,” Ororo acknowledged. “But I am the only one who speaks of Kurt in the present tense.”

Scott straightened, taken aback. Ororo just glared.

“Contrary to what we were led to believe, Kurt Wagner is not dead, Scott,” she snapped. “He’s right here, lying on this bed. You just choose not to see him.”

Scott tightened his jaw. “Look, ‘Ro,” he said, forcing himself to remain calm. “I believe you, OK? I’m on your side in this, whether you believe me or not. It’s just that, I have to look at this situation from both sides of the equation. I can’t afford to let my guard down. Even Charles believes—“

”Charles is a telepath,” Ororo interrupted with a scowl. “He knows the truth. He’s just unwilling to acknowledge his own mistakes. If he hadn’t sent Kurt out to—“

”Where is Dr. McCoy,” a deep, commanding voice rang out from the hall, causing both Scott and Ororo to jump in surprise. “I demand to know why I was not notified of this new development! Where is Charles?!”

Scott winced, closing his eyes behind his visor with a low groan. Ororo mirrored his pained expression as Erik Lehnsherr stormed into the medbay, his long cape billowing out behind him.

“So, this is the intruder that was spying on us?” the tall man sneered, leaning over the bed. He frowned when he caught sight of the prisoner’s swollen, purple fingers.

“What happened to his hand?” he demanded, spinning on Scott and Ororo as though the unconscious man’s injuries were somehow their fault.

“That’s what Hank’s busy trying to find out,” Scott snapped back, crossing his arms over his chest. “If you want to know more, you’re just going to have to wait here for his findings, just like the rest of us.”

“That’s nonsense,” Erik scowled, striding across the room to Hank’s lab. “I know my way around a laboratory. I’ll just—“

”You’ll just calm down before you wake the entire mansion,” Charles Xavier’s even, cultured voice spoke up from behind them. The three mutants turned as the old man wheeled into the room, his expression grim.

“Yes, Erik, as I tried to tell you before you stormed off and broke the mental link, this is the intruder,” Xavier explained, still in that calm, even tone. Erik scowled. Xavier ignored him and went on.

“His name is Belasco and he has been an enemy of the X-Men for many years. The reason you were not told he was here immediately is because the situation was not urgent enough to wake you for. As you can see, the demon is unconscious and safely contained.” He frowned, turning his sharp gaze to Scott.

“Except for one thing. Scott, did I or did I not expressly tell you to activate a forcefield around his bed?”

“The forcefield is down at my insistence, Charles,” Hank spoke up from his lab, poking his furry, blue head around the open doorway. “I’ll need to draw a few more samples before my analysis is complete, and I can’t do that through a forcefield. I have come up with several intriguing preliminary findings, however, if any of you are interested in hearing what they are.” He made a beckoning gesture with his long, bulky arm as he vanished back into his laboratory. “Just come in here, please.”

“Scott,” Xavier said, “you stand by the door and keep an eye on Belasco. With the forcefield down, I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll be monitoring him as well.” He tapped his temple with a knowing look.

Scott nodded, suppressing a sigh. “I understand, Professor,” he said, taking up his position by the door. At least he could still hear Hank’s explanation, even if he couldn’t see his work.

*******

“Here,” Hank said, gesturing to his microscope. “Take a look in there and tell me what you see.”

Erik cast a glare at his companions, then strode forward to take the first look. He blinked, then looked again, his hard expression softening to one of amazed bafflement.

“But that’s impossible,” he stated, turning to Hank. “These cells are dividing at an alarming rate. It’s as if they’re showing…almost morphagenic properties! Where are they from?”

”Believe it or not,” Hank said, “they were extracted from the patient’s hand.”

“What?” Erik furrowed his brow, stepping back to allow Ororo a look.

“I’m sorry,” Ororo said, looking up from the slide of dividing cells, “and I don’t mean to sound dense, but I’m afraid I don’t understand. What’s wrong with him? What do you mean by ‘morphagenic properties’?

“In basic terms,” Hank explained, “it means his genetic structure is unstable and can be altered at will.”

Ororo shook her head in disbelief. “But that can’t be right,” she said. “I thought only shapeshifters like Mystique could consciously alter their form…” She trailed off, her eyes narrowed in confusion as she looked to the others for help.

“That’s true,” Hank said, taking up a lecturing position on the opposite side of his lab table so he could face the others as he continued. “But I don’t think the physical changes brought on by the genetic manipulation were consciously made in this case. For example, he obviously has no conscious control over what is happening to his hand right now.”

”What is happening to his hand, Hank?” Xavier prompted, his brow furrowed.

“Well, the changes are still in their early stages, but I would guess that the bone, muscle, and skin of his first and second fingers are beginning to merge into one digit. The third and fourth digits are likely to follow until his five fingers have become three.”

Ororo let out a short, involuntary gasp, her eyes widening slightly. Hank shot her a sympathetic look. “Unfortunately for him, though,” he told her, “the morphagenic process is extremely slow and, I’m afraid, excruciatingly painful. But this is mainly because it is not a natural process, as it would be with a true shapeshifter.”

“You see,” he went on, “somehow, someone has manipulated a dormant morphagenic X-gene in the patient’s DNA. Now, this particular gene is recessive, and can only be inherited from the individual’s mother. Shapeshifters, particularly female shapeshifters, are extremely rare in the mutant population, and as we all know, Mystique was Kurt’s biological mother.”

He shot both Charles and Ororo a pointed look. “If there was any doubt before that this man is indeed Kurt Wagner, I believe these singular findings have certainly removed it.”

Ororo looked down at Charles, but the old man seemed to be lost in his own thoughts, a deep frown creasing his face. She turned away from him with a soft snort.

“What I would like to know is why,” Ororo said, looking straight at Hank. “Why would anyone do something like this to Kurt? Kidnap him, manipulate his genes, brainwash him into thinking he’s Belasco?! What could possibly have been the motive?”

Hank shook his furry head with a small sigh. “I don’t know, Ororo. But I do know that whoever did this to him has a knowledge of science far beyond our own. Unfortunately, that means I have no idea how they did it and even less idea as to how to reverse it.”

“What was it that triggered the gene to start working now?” Scott asked from the doorway, never taking his eyes from their unmoving prisoner.

“I would have to guess extreme emotional stress,” Hank responded. “But just in case you’re wondering, none of this has anything to do with why he fainted on the lawn.”

The others waited for a beat, then Erik rolled his eyes. “Are you going to tell us why he fainted, or are we going to have to drag it out of you?” he asked. Hank shot him a look.

“Kurt—and I use the name because that is who I believe my findings prove the man in the medbay to be,” he elaborated with a glance at Xavier, “Kurt fainted because he hadn’t eaten a thing in days. He was also severely dehydrated. I’ve started an IV drip, but once he regains consciousness I want to start him out on some soup, and then maybe some solid food in the evening if he’s feeling any better. I don’t dare imagine what he’s been living on this past year in that slum of his.”

Xavier nodded, his expression stern. “He can have his soup in here,” he said, “but if he does start to feel better, I want him moved out of the medbay and into a secure holding cell. No matter his true identity, as long as he poses a danger to the population of this school, he will be under armed guard at all times. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh,” he continued with a pointed look at Ororo. “But I believe such measures are necessary. I’m not taking any chances with the students.”

“I agree,” Erik said with a short nod. “The safety of the students is our first priority. After all, if he were to--”

Just then, a sound was heard in the other room. It was brief and strangled, almost like the start of a scream. The four mutants rushed out of Hank’s lab to join Scott by Kurt’s bedside.

“His eyes just shot open,” Scott explained as the others came up beside him. “There wasn’t any warning or anything.”

Hank put his thick, furry finger against the red man’s neck, then shook his head with a frown.

“I was afraid of this,” he said. “It seems to be a side effect of the merry havoc that mutagenic X-gene is playing with his system. His pulse is racing and his metabolism is rising exponentially. The tranquilizers I gave him should have lasted twice as long as this.”

“What can you do for him?” Ororo asked, looking down at the thrashing, moaning Kurt with deep concern.

Kurt turned his head to look at her, his golden eyes wide and bright with fever and pain.

“Beatrice,” he whispered hoarsely, reaching out to grab her wrist with his tail. Ororo gasped slightly as the red, spaded tip wrapped around her arm. “Mi dispiace, Beatrice. Tu sei il mio cuore. Tu mi credi? Mi dispiace!”

“What is he saying?” Ororo asked, a frantic note creeping into her voice as he started to sob, the hot tears trickling down his russet cheeks and onto his pillow.

“I think it’s Italian,” Scott observed.

“Why would Wagner be speaking in Italian?” Erik asked, furrowing his brow. “I always thought he was German.”

”He is,” Xavier said. “But Belasco is not.”

At the sound of Xavier’s deep, cultured voice, Kurt tried to sit up, straining against his restraints as he shouted, his tail lashing wildly in agitation.

“Padre?!” he exclaimed, his golden eyes blazing with fury and streaming tears. “Perche, Padre? Perche Beatrice?!”

“Should I raise the forcefield?” Scott asked, rushing over to the control station on the far wall.

“No,” Xavier responded, catching and holding Kurt’s fevered eyes with his own. There was something there, something behind the turmoil and the madness, beyond the confusion and the pain. He could almost see it, the memory of a sunny, spring day, crowds of people in colorful clothing walking up and down narrow, cobbled streets…

The images were lost as Kurt tore his eyes away from Xavier’s, turning instead to Scott and Hank. “Io non sono un demonio,” he said, his voice weak and trembling after his previous outburst. He was losing energy fast, his eyes already drooping with exhaustion as he fell back against his pillow. “Azazel! Io non sono un demonio!”

“Azazel?” Erik repeated, confused. “Who or what is that?”

Scott narrowed his eyes behind his visor. “Isn’t Azazel—“ he began.

“Kurt’s biological father, yes,” Xavier finished for him.

“Do you think he has anything to do with all this?” Ororo asked, keeping her eyes firmly on Kurt as he slowly drifted back into restless unconsciousness.

“If my suspicions are correct, Azazel has a great deal to do with this,” Xavier said, wheeling up closer to Kurt’s bedside and reaching out to place his hand against his horned forehead. “Unfortunately, the only answers are locked up inside Kurt’s head. And with the chaotic state his mind is in, I don’t think even he knows how to find them.”

“What are you going to do?” Hank asked with a slight frown as he watched Xavier smooth Kurt’s wavy hair until the red-skinned man stopped his restless thrashing and his breathing began to slow.

“I’m going to scan his mind,” the old man explained, his voice soft and calm. “It should only take a moment. I won’t go deep. But if this works…”

He trailed off, closing his eyes as he established a telepathic link with the unconscious Kurt Wagner.


And thats all Ive got at the moment. Now, Im off to bed and then to Las Vegas! Roller coasters, horseback riding, Klingons, and Borg await! :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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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Wed Jul 07, 2004 3:49 am

Don't worry about it, Rowena. Sounds like your really busy, and we don't want you to feel rushed in anyway to write, it would just be plain rude.

As usual, you amaze me. I love your writing and how you put alot of feeling into your stories. I haven't found any misspellings, but I'm not awake. I didn't sleep at all last night due to some freakishly large moth thingy in the house, and I'm sore because I got cranked (went to the orhtodontist, put 2 new bands on my back upper molars, tighteng my braces and put springs in. Not pleasant)

Keep up the good work, can;t wait for more(just an expression)No really, I can wait, don't rush, get sleep...I know I need it. G-night!
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Belasco's Beatrice (COMPLETELY Complete! Please Review!)

Post by ElfSpam » Wed Jul 07, 2004 5:04 am

I once bought the Klingon Dictionary in an antique shop in Philly, and I have always regretted not using it to learn the language. ;)
Anyway, hope you have a fabulous time in Vegas, and the story is just brilliant! When you brought in Azazel, I did a little dance of joy. There's such potential for mayhem with that character. Can't wait to see the next installment!! :)
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