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Rating: 3-3-3

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RPF* Real Person Fiction; IE Apping an actual celebrity

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Thread Contributor: Belle Scarlet StreetGraphic Sexual Content Addiction
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#1
The shop was closed.

The sign on the door simply stated that it was ‘for the foreseeable future.’

Intellectually Belle knew that she was a short step from doing something...something she couldn’t forgive herself for, already the thought of getting drunk or visiting Nala for something...stronger-

It made her sick to her stomach how tempted by the thought of it, of escape, of abandoning all her morals, all her good sense and being just like everyone else.

Belle shivered, rain finding its way under the collar of her jacket - “Relaxation.” the hologram activated when she paused, reached out to Belle a soft smile on its face, “Forgiveness.” exhausted bloodshot from bawling her eyes out for the last 24 hours turned towards the building - “Rest. don’t you need it? Just a few hours.” the phantom hand beckoned and Belle found her feet following.

------------------------------------------

‘Oh…’

The exhausted red head, leaned back in the booth, pain that had etched fresh lines around her mouth faded. Twin glowing ‘gems’ attached to her temples sent Belle into a dream like state, controlling what she was seeing, feeling.


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#2
“Oh you have to be bloody kidding me.”

Pete’s evening had started with Belle standing him up, and had just gotten steadily worse after that. He’d gone to her place to see what was wrong (no calls being answered), and had found the most alarming sign on her door. “Closed until further notice,” it said. That was so unlike Belle (as was standing him up, when you got down to it) that he had to look into it, and he’d set his considerable resources to finding out just what the bloody hell had happened to the lady.

And so he found her here in a brain-hacking store. Oh, it was true, there were some reputable companies that offered brain-implanted illusions, but there was always some kind of catch. Some of them used your brain’s processing power while you were hooked up, hired out to whoever needed it. Some of them mined your brain for all the information you had, sellable to the highest bidder. Some of them just implanted subtle changes in your psyche so that you’d keep coming back, always wanting another trip into this illusory reality. This one? Pete wasn’t exactly sure what its vice of choice was, but given that the proprietor had started stammering and breaking into cold sweats when he came in looking for her, Pete was sure that it was nothing good. Problem was? Until her session was up, Pete couldn’t shut it off, only she could do that. The most Pete could do was to go in after her, with the controls routed to the users and the proprietor bound and gagged and terrified in a closet.

Bloody hell, he hated these things.

And so Pete found his consciousness being shunted into the illusory world after Belle, not sure what sort of scene he’d enter into. What kind of fairytale fantasy did a proper southern belle sign up for in a place like this?

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#3
Regardless of what other motivations they had, Mr. Meekan had not lied, the moment the neural nodes attached all her worries, sadness, shame, fear- all of it dissolved under the fantasy chosen for her.

Pete opened his eyes to a stage, a grand theater -

“I dreamed a dream of times gone by-” red hair caught and magnified the brilliance of the spotlight “Of life worth living. I dreamed of Love that would never die!” in the real world Belle’s singing voice was simply passable, yet here it was capable of evoking the pained plea in her song in the hardest hearts.

The stage was empty aside from her, the theater itself was packed with rapt admirers.
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#4
All right, what the bloody hell had happened the last few days? Something had to have sent Belle here running from reality, not that he knew what it had been. He was slipping, apparently, this was something that should have been on his radar. Not that there weren’t any clues, of course. If she was picturing herself as Fantine, then something had happened, probably in her love life, to make her feel like that bloody much of a victim.

Bloody hell, he hadn’t done anything to her, had he? Pete wracked his brain for a moment, before concluding that for once, he was innocent of any broken hearts that were present.

So… aside from being one of the adoring fans, what could Pete do here? He idly picked up one of the playbills, scanning the songs and confirming what he remembered: Les Miserables was a goddamned depressing play. Marvelous show, of course, but sometimes he wondered if the cast had to keep a psychiatrist on hand to make sure that no one got really into their character and ended up slitting their wrists.

He considered using his own influence over the illusion to change the play (after letting her finish the song, of course). He didn’t exactly have an encyclopedic knowledge of musicals or anything, of course, he had a limited repertoire to work with here. The biggest question was whether he would be making any bloody thing worse if he did. He wanted to help her, but going to the other direction from the “Love has betrayed me, what shall I do, all is darkness” message of Les Bloody Miserables might end up getting him in too deep with her. He wanted to make sure she was okay, but was he going to end up writing checks that his commitment couldn’t cash?

Or… maybe a song was just a bloody song. What the hell.

Feeling like an absolute prat the whole time, Pete made his way to the stage, letting her finish the song (it would just be rude not to) and then set about his own changes to the fantasy. The only real songs for Fantine after this was pretty much to get dumped on and to die, so something more upbeat was due, wasn’t it? And… admittedly, the subject matter was close to home to what he kept buried, locked, and trampled down inside him as well, wasn’t it. “Bloody hell, I’m glad that the audience isn’t actually real,” he muttered.

Once the applause died down from her performance, he pushed the scene, changing the scenery appropriately (though facing the crowd, would she really notice the stage behind her), and let the music start up. And, naturally, this was a song he had to start, and didn’t he feel like a prat right now? No… actually, it wasn’t like a prat, that was just how he liked to classify it when he was forcing himself to feel completely fucking vulnerable, a feeling that he absolutely loathed. Still, what was he going to do, just let her wallow and not help? So, taking advantage of the fact that this was a simulation and he could avoid having his legs shaking as he walked onto a stage, and that his voice wouldn’t come out hoarse or shaky, he stepped onto the fake snow that had been scattered on the stage. “No more talk of darkness, forget these wide-eyed fears…”

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#5
The ragged threads of a fallen woman transformed into a glittering gown, her hair spinning up into a curl dripping updo -

“Say you love me every waking moment,
Turn my head with talk of summertime.
Say you need me with you now and always;
Promise me that all you say is true,
That's all I ask of you. -”

She turned to sing the return verse to him, responding in time till - “Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime -” Her voice choked off, the stage shifting once again, she was now above of him, a daphanous night gown visible over the window lip as she sang out into the night sky.

Look at me and tell me who I am,
Why I am, what I am.
Call me a fool and it's true I am,
I don't know who I am.
It's such a shame,
I'm such a sham.
No one knows who I am.
Once there were sweet possibilities,
I could see, just for me.
Now all my dreams are just memories,
Fated never to be.
Time's not a friend, hurrying by.
I wonder who am I?
Am I the face of the future?
Am I the face of the past?
Am I the one who must finish last?
Look at me and tell me who I am,
Why I am, what I am.
Will I survive?
Who will give a damn,
If no one knows who I am?
Nobody knows,
Not even you,
No one knows who I am


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#6
Apparently, there was enough of Belle in there that it just short circuited the song when it got to something that just wouldn’t register to her, or that registered a little too painfully for her. She wasn’t really responding to him being there, which told him that she was in full-on fantasy mode, but her subconscious was still at work. So he made sure to listen, focusing on what she gave him in the song, trying to figure out his next move.

Unfortunately, his subconscious was also at work here, and the thoughts of that wrist-slittingly sad first musical were still in there. He heard the music for his next song starting, and he couldn’t really stop himself from singing the part out. He couldn’t see Belle right now, all that he could focus on were the tables, the empty chairs, and all they meant in this context. “There’s a grief that can’t be spoken, there’s a pain goes on and on. Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends are dead and gone…”

He leaned against one of the chairs as he sang, and a parade of faces began to slide before his eyes. “Here they talked of revolution, here it was they lit the flame. Here they sang about tomorrow, and tomorrow never came.” John… oh, poor John, the rebel Skrull that faced off against his entire race on behalf of Earth, only to be killed next to Pete while he stood helpless to stop it. Sid… Sid, that tired old warhorse who’d just wanted to get something back that his years of service had lost him, who Pete had arrested for treason, then left a gun so that he could take an easy way out and kill himself before his public trial. And Maureen… god, he’d failed Maureen worst of all, hadn’t he…

More and more faces, people that he’d respected, people he’d loved, all of them gone with his world for the simple crime of not being in London at the time it came to flee their world. Kitty… dead. X-Force… Dead. Sage… Dead. Bloody hell, even Tink was probably dead now, wasn’t she? Did Avalon survive with the refugee Londoners? Somehow, Pete was sure it hadn’t. For everything they’d done right and he’d done wrong, somehow he was the one still standing at the end of all of it.

“Oh my friends, my friends forgive me, that I live and you are gone.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken, there’s a pain goes on and on.
Phantom faces at the window, phantom shadows on the floor,
Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends will meet no more.
Oh my friends, my friends don’t ask me what your sacrifice is for,
Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends will sing no more.”


He must need a drink now, he reasoned. He was far too sober when somehow he ever felt tears in his eyes over anything.
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#7
Belle did not have the ghosts Pete did -

But she had her own -

“There's a grief that cannot be spoken -” her hand curled around his, Epionne to his Marius, she quietly supported him, tears glittering in her eyes. Her song shifted supporting with out undercutting, singing about him not to him.

Sympathy, tenderness,
Warm as the summer
Offer me their embrace.
Friendliness, gentleness,
Strangers to my life -
They are there in his face.
Goodness and sweetness
And kindness
Abound in this place.
I am in love with
The things that I see in his face.
It's a memory I know, time
Will never erase!


She returned before the end of his to echo his chorus ”That I live and you are gone
There's a grief that can't be spoken,
And there's a pain goes on and on”


She looked down at his clenched hand, the refrain from ‘On my Own’ echoed hauntingly under the last bars.

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#8
Pete was raw at this point, and he felt a bit pathetic at just how little it took to get him into that state. Oh no, woe is me, I know some people who are bloody dead. What horror, how unlike any other bloody person in the world. He looked down at her hand, and the phantom subconscious melodies couldn’t escape his notice. Why, oh why, was she casting herself in these most desperate roles? It was just… wrong. There was no other way to put it, it was wrong.

He didn’t let another song start up, subconscious or intentionally, he just focused on the song, the one that threatened to start, and what the lesson of it was. “It doesn’t fit, luv,” he mused. “Eponine was a poor abandoned soul who was looked over by everyone in her life. That sod she loved didn’t even see her until she was dead. No one else really saw her until she was dead either.”

He looked up at her, more or less breaking the rules of their little Broadway karaoke session here. He couldn’t claim to love her, he wasn’t going to presume that much. He wasn’t sure he knew what love felt like while it was there anymore, only what it was like in retrospect. He cared about her, though, he was finding, and he’d come to find her when he thought there was something wrong, hadn’t me? “So that doesn’t fit here, luv, because I see you.”

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#9
“Who am I?” the bars of her previous song played as she spoke, “Who do you see?” Belle turned away from him, the table replaced by whores boudoir, her clothes shifting to a scarlet and jet corset pressing up her breasts enticingly, nipping in the waist she was so very self conscious about. “I dream a dream-” but that was not the song that vibrated in his bones-

I feel your fingers-
Brushing my shoulder-

Her fingers followed the path of her voice, skimming over her bare shoulder -

Your tempting touch,
As it tingles my spine-
Watching your eyes
As they invade my soul-
Forbidden pleasures
I'm afraid to make mine.
At the touch of your hand-

She reached out for him, eyes half lidded with passion banked with something like fear. Fear of herself

At the sound of your voice-
At the moment your eyes meet mine-
I am out of my mind-
I am out of control-
Full of feelings I can't define!


Her other arm was looped around her waist protectively - “Who am I?” she sang combining the two songs into a aching mishmash that echoed the confusion of her heart and mind.

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#10
Ye gods, she knew how to draw him in… or at least some part of her did. Pete was pulled toward her like a moth to the flame, and he was so, so ready to be burned, wasn’t he?

He’d love it if they could just talk, but her mind was set in her little musical, and this was the look at her soul he was going to get, he supposed. This time, there was nothing really surprising… or at least he thought there wasn’t. The song was… distracting, to say the least, but her question did echo through his head.

Who did he see?

It would be easy to just say that he saw her, but that wasn’t a bloody answer, now, was it. He needed to give her better than that. She deserved better than that, didn’t she? He slipped his arm over hers as he slid up behind her, lips behind her ear, murmuring the answers that came to his mind. “Someone marvelous,” he admitted. “Someone who worries as much about things she does as the rest of the universe combined should.” That part was endearing… and a bit frustrating at times, but it was so, so Belle from what he’d seen. “Someone who should be able to be human without worrying that humans aren’t perfect.”

His hand closed over hers, and he pulled it, pulling her arm from around her waist spinning her around to face him. “I see someone who deserves to get what she wants for once instead of worrying about every other person in the world.” His fingers cupped her chin, turning her face up to his, for once his eyes not even tempted to stray below her neck. “If the eyes are the windows to the soul, luv, I couldn’t ever get tired of looking into yours. That’s what I see.”

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#11
Every song was a part of her, her story, her life as she saw it. Belle turned in his arms, the seductive timber changing - “When it's all began,
I knew there'd be a price…” she was changing the lyrics to fit her mind better - “Once upon a dream, -” her smile was sad “I was lost in love's embrace.
There I found a perfect place,
Once upon a dream.
Once there was a time,
Like no other time before,
Hope was still an open door,
Once upon a dream.
And I was unafraid,
The dream was so exciting!
But now I see it fade…”

Belle pulled her chin from his grip tears sparkling on her lashes - “And I am here alone!” she sobbed out the last word - “And I have destroyed everyone I dare to LOVE!” she screamed abandoning the musical, the nodes at her temples whineing at as their dampening effects were overwhelmed by her raw self destructive pain.

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#12
Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow… When that girl got loud, that girl got loud.

Once again, he really wished that he had been creepy and stalked her life so that he’d have any fucking clue what had happened, but regardless, he was pretty sure she was just being melodramatic. That… kind of fit with her, honestly, didn’t it? What to do now, though? He’d wanted to get them talking normally, but he was starting to suspect that if she were outside the effect of the mind probes, she’d be less than perfectly rational… even for her.

Well, all he could do was try. He managed to catch her hand, tempering what he had thought of to say into something much gentler. “If you were alone, luv, would I even be here?” She could thrash about and run, but he was going to follow her to keep ahold of that hand. “I don’t know what happened since the last time I saw you, luv, but you’re not alone! This part is real!” Damn it, what could you say to a hysterical woman to get her to stop being hysterical and listen to you?

Well… in Pete’s experience, nothing, but that didn’t really excuse him from needing to try, did it?
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#13
Belle did thrash against his hold, “Every man! Once I admit I love them?” she spit the words at pete, far more brutal than she would if this was ‘real’ “They are HURT or worse!” James had vanished into nothingness as far as any of the spells she’d commissioned to find him said, and if Arjay had been anything other than a god she suspected that he would have suffered a worse fate than a brand burned into his heart.

“Temptation is my name, and i destroy!” yes melodramatic.

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#14
Bloody hell, the woman was like a pit bull thrashing him around like a dish rag. Maybe this was just a subconscious thing, sure, her mind making her stronger here just like they'd been able to sing better than they had any right to, but seriously, this just wasn't fair! Except... Oh, right. He could do the same thing, couldn't he? Only he didn't want to, because he didn't want to be rough with her... "God damn it, Belle!" he snapped, suddenly becoming more solid, harder to thrash around, a bit deeper to draw in that attention. "Here's a news flash: Men can be absolute arseholes, and no one knows it better than me! Stop blaming yourself for them being like that!" One thing he was sure of was that on one close to her had suffered any sort of horrible fate lately. That he would have heard of.
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#15
“My first love was destroyed! The next man I -” she swallowed - “I hurt him, i hurt him and I am a whore. I knew he was in love with someone else, he has a baby! And I seduced him and HE paid for it!” Belle’s eyes were wide and frantic “I knew I KNEW! Leading so many good men along, teasing Queth! This is all because I greedy!”

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#16
Oh for… was this about that bloody elf? “Luv, that bloody elf's been seducing ladies whenever he sees fit regardless of his lady love being around. I’m a spy, I could give you names and dates if you really wanted me to get them, although I’d really rather we not open that door. If he paid for anything, I’m bloody positive it wasn’t because you ‘seduced him’.” He gripped her hand firmly, not letting her thrash away, maintaining that solid resolve to try to anchor the situation. “And how the bloody hell can you be so greedy if you don’t ever take anything? Please tell me how that makes sense, luv.”

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#17
Belle shook her head - “It's different -!” ‘never take-’ “Except when I DO I HURT THEM!” and that was true, and dovetailed neatly into her personal morality and upbringing. “Don’t you see? Maybe I’m cursed, maybe it’s my fate, but it doesn't matter does it? All that matters is I can’t love. I can’t have what I want!” god she sounded so entitled didn’t she? “How selfish am i?” she whispered, tears slipping down her cheeks “You’ve lost everything, and all i can do is whine because I can’t have a lover.”

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#18
"Neither can I!" Pete shot back at her. "Do you think I deserve to have anyone love me with how many horrible things I've done? Some of them even TO people who loved me! I'm a miserable toerag, the people I saved from our bloody world ending won't even have anything to do with me! It's painful and terrible and it's... So damned lonely!". He reached up, brushing a tear from her cheek, hoping that maybe she was going to not go off the deep end again. "If there's anything I've learned, luv, from all the death and loss and mistakes and everything else is that... The best thing about the worst day off your life is that the next one is better, and no one can stop you finding new things to reach for. Come on, luv... If I'm not cursed, you aren't either."
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#19
“I just-” Belle collapsed slumping against his hold no longer fighting “I just want to grieve for what I can never have. What i can only allow myself to dream of.” Belle wiggled her hand from his grasp unless he forced the hold. “I can’t risk hurting anyone else.” Yes she saw the hypocrisy, and she’d argue that HE deserved to find love. But...how could she try again? When even her best intentions caused horrible unforeseen consequences?

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#20
"You know as well as I do that you wouldn't ever hurt anyone if you could help it. So come on, luv. Are you afraid of hurting people, or are you just afraid to say that you're afraid of being hurt that badly again yourself? Because that's what it comes down to. Something bad happened, and it wrecked you. So grieve all you want, but don't let them make you give up.". He let her have her hand back, but rested his hand on her waist, keeping that contact to, lest she run away again. "You want me to go first? Because I will. Fine. I've done horrible things, and there's a chance I'll have a reason to again. That's what I am, I'm the one who does the impossible thing because it has to be done, no matter how terrible it is. I'm even proud that I can do that, even if I don't like what I've done. And I keep telling myself it makes me unfit to be with anyone because it hurts a lot less coming from my mouth than it would yours, or anyone else I let myself open up to."
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