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Belle the Beast
« on: October 27, 2013, 02:50:38 pm »
Behind the curtain

"So what is it then, Dr Stellsson, if it's not quite viral?" asked the student, lucky enough to have slipped in on the last batch admitted in Snow Town before all direct communications with the rest of the world were cut off. Samson was the best of the batch. The doctor thought the boy's placid-to-yellow skin and his insecure posture in a lowly white lab coat underlined nicely just exactly what it was worth to have read all the books and acquired non of the real familiarity with vicious sicknesses. Samson was was holding a trey, checking it with a spectral laser to see if it had been washed correctly.

"It is quite viral, One-day-doctor Stein, but in every sense. Not just in our." He gestured around at the lab, Lab 23, where machinations lined the walls and space was aplenty between the rows of tables. Hidden in every corner were projectors and stored in every nook were particle chambers, with particles ready to fly and create a hard screen for whoever might need it, floating in mid-air. "I've seen tests that suggest it emits frequencies strong enough to interact with the inner ear. The insinuation is toward balance, of course, but I think those vibrations are simply Belle showing her teeth. There is also an inherent ability to reroute the charge of the body, suggesting bioluminescence and electrical output." Poor Samson gasped. His thick, youthful face looked ten years older then. At least his books had taught him about what should and shouldn't be affected directly by what they studied.

"How do we protect ourselves from this, Doctor?" Samson was now drawing a red checker pattern on the sleeve of his coat with the laser.

"We don't. Bellevore has many abilities, but right now isolation is enough, since she choses not to spread through other than conventional means. You keep things clean in here, and I'll go to oversee my own research." Samson smiled knowingly and took the seat Stellsson left when he stood.

"The Embrace Tech, Dr. Stellsson?" The boy was eager to know. Everyone was. "I heard they're funneling a lot of funds toward your project. It's not conventional medicine, is it? Are you making headway?" So, the sensationalism of it had made it relevant even in the student wing. "Will you save us all?"

Stellsson shrugged and put his hands in his coat pockets, walking toward the door. "That is the plan. But Ema can't save you, Samson, if you don't clean this place up before Heinz comes in fifteen minutes." The student nodded as the doctor stepped into the decontamination chamber to be manhandled by protocol for what felt like the longest five seconds of his life. Well out in the corridors three fangs of black hair swayed - free from the otherwise tight, short tail from the air burst in the chamber - as he made his way. He would have cast a comparably long and sharp shadow, if the lights were of such nature. His company, a daughter branch of SaviorMed aptly named Salvation, liked some eccentricity with their foremost researchers, so he'd drawn upon and amplified his own preferences and worn t-shirts under waistcoats that underlined his lithe gait, all in different shades of midnight navy, gray, black and white. It fit well with the somber coats his level of access acquired. He quite liked the illusion of being smartly tailored and crisp, while never wearing a collared shirt.

The hexagon pattern in the ceiling felt brighter, unbearably so, when he met with Dr. Heinz. She was early. Poor Samson. She'd never liked anyone from Salvation, being of MalaMark herself, but seemed to appreciate either Dr. Stellsson's consistent progress or the symmetry of his snow-skinned face, pointed out by the nougat eyes set in there. She stopped but he didn't. He had no time for the animosity that automatically flared between two rising stars. "Not now, Heinz. I've got time sensitive matters in my lab." Her prodding was excellent. He did not need that now.

It was true, what he'd said. If the coffee got to condense for too long, it would become too strong. Not that he drank it.

After the appropriate amount of hassle, he found himself in front of the drink dispenser. He pushed the button for a pill instead, a small paper cup produced with plastic lid. He let the fitted coat slide off his arms and build its pile in a crescent moon around his heels. A charcoal moon, how ominous. A sigh warmed the air before the small cup was freed of its protection and tipped into his mouth. Many pills these days, for the Doctor. Warm eyes, almost golden in this revealing lighting, rolled when a cluster of molecules clouded an area to his side, assembling a glow to become backdrop for graphs and letters. The report suggested progress. Good. Not fast enough, but good.

He rolled around a lake of saliva on his tongue. Copper. That was not so good.

Ara

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 03:51:52 am »
“Doctor...” She whined but the sound was always soft, always playful, always bidding for his attention. She swiveled around in his chair until she was facing him, looking tired and a little sad. “Do we have to keep taking those pills? You know they make my head hurt...” Her voice got smaller, her mouth pressing around them as though she felt bad to bring it up again.

Vinnia stood from the chair. She wasn’t tall but she wasn’t quite short. Thick hips swayed. Not petite either. Her face was round and pale but her lips were always full of color, her mouth too small to ever be threatening. It was the mouth of a girl in gradeschool that he had been fond of. It was a memory he didn’t even know he still had, something familiar that he could never place.

“Do you think we could go out for some fresh air?” She asked, as though it would make her feel better from her headaches from his pills. Her eyes brightened and she hopped that step to him, taking his hand in both of hers and bringing it close to her body. “We could go to a cafe!” Vinnia whispered in her excitement. “We could have cocoa and cake.” She swayed with his hand and tried to move an eyebrow as though to punctuate her cleverness but she did not have that much control over her eyebrow separately from the rest of her face so the gesture became incredibly subtle. She let go of his hand with only one of hers to push some of those dark brown locks behind her ear, away from one cheek.

Her hair was soft and long. The hair of the first woman he ever woke up in bed beside. The hair he’d run his fingers through at night and buried his face in. Sometimes it even smelled the same as it had then. Sometimes Vinnia’s hair held the faint scents of other sweet memories. She rubbed her thumb against the back of his hand, large green eyes looking up at him, pleading but never begging, never so much so that she might lose spirit or be angry if he said no. Vinnia was understanding. She was adoring and warm and kind.

She was his death, holding his hand like there was no other in the world and waiting for his reply.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2013, 07:39:04 pm »
Amelie stood behind Vinnia’s chair, politely.  Sometimes, he didn’t see her.  Vinnia always did, of course.  She thought that he might, today, and hoped Vinnia would let her stay.  Amelie tried not to be ambitious.  She was new, after all.  A symptom of a slipping progression.  If Vinnia was everything worth remembering, Amelie was everything he couldn’t forget.  Regret, with a face.  The lithe, stringy frame of a best friend in high school, who’d loved him and been rejected.  His sister’s wide almond eyes, hoping he’d visit before the car crash.  She was content to sit on the edge of his vision.  A foggy disturbance in Vinnia’s shadow.  Tiny aspirations.  It was best not to be imposing, yet. 

She rocked on her feet, rolling back on her heels.  Amelie didn’t get headaches, like Vinnia.  But Amelie couldn’t feel as much.  She wasn’t full.  She reached after Vinnia, when she left the chair.  It was hard to be far from her.  Fingers curled back against her palm.  It was rude to interrupt.  She followed, instead.  Always a few steps away.  A tentative echo.  It was only recently that Amelie had found a face.  She still needed the contrast of Vinnia’s lovely to define the contours of her longing.

“I would like to see a café.  May I come, too?” she asked.  Quiet voice, intended for Vinnia, with a little hopeful that Ingram might hear.  Vinnia was always kind to her, but sometimes she said it wasn’t the right time for Amelie to be seen.  It might be upsetting.  A café sounded lovely, though.  Cocoa and cake.  Amelie liked those things, because Vinnia and Ingram liked them.  As long as the cake was not frosted.  She didn’t like frostings because Julianna, the girl in graduate school who’d been too dazzling for Ingram to try speaking to, had disliked frostings.  “Are those pills bad for us?” she asked.  Perhaps, they weren’t bad.  Maybe, cocoa and cake were just better.  Still, she did wonder.  Would she also get headaches, if Ingram noticed her?     

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2013, 09:50:55 pm »
The head shook and let down more black blades to stress his already shadowed cheekbones and tear-thick but never leaking morsel eyes. It was a tendency Coleen, the dark hair, had fallen for, she had confessed. Through these woods of sharp black he looked at Vinnia and her detailed map of well played and cut snapshots. Lips that usually had all the answers quavered as a surge of weakness electrified every joint from his left shoulder out. The right hand came up, instead, to keep his lips company and give them comfort. Ingram swallowed back.

"I'm sorry." Reluctance, the way someone who knows better refuses, when someone pretty insists. When he looked at his red smeared palm he could still see the collage of his life set in sapien form beyond the tips of his fingers. Damn you, Belle. The hand she held felt warm like before mother started to smoking, before his sister had found herself in the middle of an physical altercation between three cars in the midday rush. "Those were the last pills for today," a lie, if he were to follow the minimum to suppress the symptoms. Was it a lie, though, if he intended to follow through?

Against the V of his shirt, deepest blue, inside his vest, he wiped the coughing hand clean and pulled Vinnia closer. She'd become so prominent, these last day. The state that had killed Andrew. The now proverbial Andrew. In Snow Town State Andrew was breakfast. They were friends, at least, Ingram and her, so he could take her touch in a civil manner. He blinked the excessive admittance of pain back from his glassed, golden brown orbs. They flickered, cleansed from threatening tears, when the scent of Coleen's sweat and momentary love billowed against his lips and nose.

"But we can't go out. Not to the open areas. Snow Town is locked down." Regret, immediately. "And I wouldn't be able to speak anyway." Something sharp started to play on the strings in his mind that connected his analysis to his deductions. The concert rung to upset the seams of his cranium. Ingram focused on the shadow beyond the chair and smiled at it. Sorrow, blood that was supposed to be thicker than water, all over the glass and the metal. Failure to attend her life, success to be there when they put her in the ground. She'd had a tattoo on her pretty neck, a chimera of a tiger and a dragon rising from the pool of her collarbone, it's shade frozen in the healthiest teal he'd seen.

He squeezed Vinnia's hand harder as he stared at his sister's eyes. The data test on Ema beeped to pull him out of it. He let go and stroked the wild hair back, tied it into place as he turned his head to the screen. Forty eight percent reconciled. If he turned back, would she still be there, with he own tail figment, or was he truly talking to nothing? "But the cafeteria has good carrot cake. It's empty during the later hours, when the bistro opens." Golden gaze for the lower right corner of the screen. "We can go then." he answered, some steel back in his voice as the hiss of a lidded apparatus broke the not-conversation.

It was Ema, human strand. The doctor left the manifestations of his illness to opened the hatch after a thorough spraying of his hands. The vial was bright blue. A shake of his head. Of course it would be the blue one. It had been a long shot, the day he hired her. Second to last batch of interns. He held it up to the illumi-pattern and saw the intricate prisms in the liquid. When was she to come in, again?

Ingram avoided to see Vinnia and her shadow when he loaded a cartilage with the current Ema. The rest of it he put to be analyzed. He'd promised no more pills, only. He'd said nothing of not administering directly into the blood stream. He staggered in stress and held his forehead and the edge of the sink to keep calm. Pulse down, spine straight, swallow back again. He filled a paper cup and drank until there was no more metal on his palled. "Could you stop this?" he asked, crushing and leaving the cup in the sink as he sat down by his computer to see the very small but possibly promising graphs of this Ema batch. The doctor gestured to himself. "I mean, I'll buy you some ice cream foam for the cake if you'll give me some clarity." It was a strange thing to ask for, he didn't know if it could be done, and it was a bad way to ask too, avoiding both sets of eyes.

Ara

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 02:10:46 pm »
Vinnia hadn't responded immediately to Amelie, not willing to let go of Ingram's eye contact before he pulled from her. She frowned with misery deep in her eyes and took a step back into the other figment, with one hand behind her back, still warm from his, she tangled her fingers with Amelie's. "The medicine will kill us and Ingram." She whispered only for her to hear, sadness heavy in her usually light voice, weighing it down. "Look how sick it makes him."

She turned her head to watch him play with the blue vial, frowning again and moving closer to him. She stayed at his side when he moved to the sink and watched his throat move when he drank his water. "Stop what?" Vinnia asked gently, almost pleading. She reached up to touch him but hesitated, dropping her arms in defeat back to her sides. "I'm not doing this to us. You are with those pills. We would be happy and feel better without them. How long has it been since you started putting those drugs in our system?"

There were tears in her eyes when she took a step back from him, wrapping her arms around herself because she knew he wouldn't want her to hug him- wouldn't hug her back. "Aren't you tired, Ingram? How long has it been since we've gone home and just snuggled up for the day? Wouldn't you feel better if you weren't under these lights all day?" Had they ever done that? She could imagine it so it seemed like truth enough.

She sighed sadly, a little sound of pain and leaned her head to one side, soft brown hair falling over her shoulder. "What's that, Ingram?" She asked about the blue liquid now in the cartridge.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 02:13:48 pm by Ara »

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 11:55:14 pm »
Amelie was quick to hold tight to Vinnia’s hand.  She liked it best when they were close, like this.  Her smile was a little more recognizable, then.  The shy exchange student’s smile.  The one Ingram hadn’t had time to help find her class and had later married his roommate.  She felt the most real, when they were connected.  She existed out of the necessity of their connection, after all.  Her smile faded a little bit, at the whisper.  So, it was like that, then.  Amelie pursed her lips.  “We’ll die?” she echoed.

She was sad, when Vinnia took her hand away.  It made her sadder, still, to see such dejection on that perfect face.  Amelie wanted to be comforting, since Ingram was not, and lightly stroked Vinnia’s back from where she stood.  “Carrot cake doesn’t sound all so bad,” she offered.  “Maybe it will make your head feel better.”  She’d been concerned enough with Vinnia to miss recognition on Ingram’s face, but glanced up in time to catch the trailing end of his stare.  It made her hand still, for a moment.  She was glad, in spite of Vinnia’s unsettled state.  It made her feel selfish, though.  Vinnia was concerned about Ingram.  He was taking strange pills and working too hard.  She knew that.  Vinnia had told her.  It was really best to be supportive.  Amelie scolded herself for taking pleasure in being noticed.  Vinnia was so worried about Ingram.  She should be, too.  So, she nodded in enthusiastic agreement with all the things that were said.

Gemma picked at a piece of carrot cake, in the dining hall.  Her hair was in a tumble of cinnamon spice waves, disheveled from a late night of fidgeting over her lab bench.  She’d not slept, yet.  She was hoping, in fact, to catch Dr. Stellson before she went to nap.  Gemma was sure her sleepless persistence had been warranted.  She’d felt there’d been a breakthrough in her synthesis, last night.  Her macrostructures had been at least ten percent more stable than they’d been in the configuration she’d been given to work with.  She was sure she’d found a better geometry.

She glanced at her watch.  It was about time to go find him.  Gemma took a last bite of her cake and downed the rest of her milk.  She hadn’t seen Dr. Stellson, since her interview.  Not individually, at least.  Generally, she would have been nervous about such a meeting.  At the moment, she was much too excited to find out whether her Ema sample had yielded the results she suspected. She hurried from the dining hall.

It was only outside his office that she realized she was still a little bit anxious.  She wondered if her sister had spoken to Dr. Stellson about her.  She hoped not.  Gemma thought it would be much too embarrassing.  She’d idolized Dr. Stellson’s research for some years, now.  It was almost horrifying to think he might be reminded of her petulant, childhood self from the days he used to come over to watch movies with her older sister.  Not that it would have been hard to recall the relation, whether Mia had mentioned it, or not.  Both sisters shared a rather distinctively svelte frame.  Gemma took a deep breath.  Surely, Mia didn’t talk to him, anymore.  Their friendship had somewhat cooled after her disastrous confession.  Gemma knocked on the door.  “Doctor?  It’s Gemma Felix.  I’m here for our meeting.” She said.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 01:03:07 pm »
A thought, rather than a whisper, asked him if they would die, the two of them. The question evoked as potent a whirlwind as Vinnia's statement. This tone had been a bit more compliant, and affected him differently. To both, he was a villain. Some anger roasted and curled the edges of his dark gold, this heat never spreading on to his face, where their given ailment had left him without youth's blush.

How long, Vinnia had asked. Small lips. Voice was softer though, innocently wondering, which left him with a taste of his own guilt. It had been weeks now. A common cold like Andrew's couldn't be cured, even in Snow Town, but it's symptoms could be kept back and its contagion contained, feigning perfect health for those that wanted to appear well, even though their tattoos would show differently. This cold? He'd had it for a month. He'd taken the medicine to keep it back for about fifteen days. "Since last Tuesday." he replied as the colorful lines proudly showed small results on the block wedged in nothing for his viewing pleasure. In two dimension the rising threads looked miraculous. When he looked at it through the depth filter, more than its allowed share of red markers made themselves known. It was still more than he could hope for.

His lips were made small also, when he pretended to not see the green of Vinnia and his sister's long lost comfort, as he tried to move around the markers to dilute their effects. It broke up the symmetry further. He couldn't reconstruct this. He needed it to be more of itself. Something inherent was able to stave off Bellevore. If he could isolate it and examine it he'd be able to save himself, and all Takki. Twin rails of lightning rushed from the knot of his hair out to prey on his forehead. The tension from the pulled back hair. Vinnia wouldn't stop it, from what he'd gathered. Was it really the medicines that did this?

And if he did what she wanted, would the whites cease to blare at him? He realized that he was turned to her again. They were both waiting for an answer. Ingram touched his vest pocket, where Ema slept. "A cure. Ice to stave off the ocean." Temporary solace, not unlike the one she offered. Snuggle, she'd said. With mother's hips on Vinnia, and along side Amelie's body of - what was her name, that he'd been too selfish to love back? He was a monster for not remembering her name when he had rejected her confession, spilling her heart all over the empty high school gym.

Would they forgive him, everyone, in that moment he'd listen to them? If he laid down with his demons and visited every memory on their designs. Would it be so bad? A bubble in the machine that gently tried the new Ema took him from the dream. Some determination furrowed his brow when he looked at the solid one and the fading other. A voice was given in more clarity it was spoken on the other side of his door. Security measures. Everyone wanted to see everyone else's research, especially these days. A witch had been found, now they needed a fire that could burn her. A hunt for a pyre.

This voice had familiar notes. The doctor stood and picked up his robe, which took him closer to the spirits of his infected self. "Another one of you?" he asked Vinnia as he passed her, caressing her cheek. "Who now? All my favorite actresses?" The hand that left the round flesh then combed through smoke that turned to solid hair on Amelia's head. Touch did seemed to make her more real. He pulled back his hand when he saw her body, as though he'd been burnt. Instead he hurried to the door and nodded to the sensor. The doors opened to a woman.

To him it had been a trick. A cheap one, reusing one of Amelie's selling points. A name struck hard like chilled water. Mia. He didn't say it. The Felix girl. He had her progress in his pocket. Ah, he could see it now. "Of course." he said as he stepped aside to let her in. "Felix." Not hard to remember, and still he'd misplaced it. "I am testing your batch now. It's incredible how it's compatible with Bellevore." This was a devilish lure, he thought, and sent that sentiment to Vinnia along with some awe. Was Mia here? Did this girl even resemble his old friend? No. He thought too freely about this. If Vinnia had orchestrated another mirage he'd have a harder time questioning it. He was broaching State Miranda. He must be.

He sat down int he chair that still held Vinnia's warmth and offered the other to Gemma. Stools, really, on one side of the tall table. "What did you base it off? I think I'll have to give you increased clearance for this." Which meant she'd be officially hired by SaviorMed. His eyes were slightly wider than usual, trying not to turn to the side, where his other two guests were. "And, if you don't mind. Did i know you?" As though his life now was a second one. "Before? Wait--" he pretended. "You sister." Shame made it easier to keep looking away from Amelie, now.

Ara

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2013, 09:51:05 pm »
Vinnia frowned at his accusation that the newcomer was another figment and yet could not resist leaning her cheek into his palm when he touched her. Those large eyes fluttering shut for a moment as though the gesture had given her the briefest peace before he took it away and she was again in this tired sadness he insisted on making them live in. She noticed the way he withdrew from Amelie just when he finally touched her, acknowledged her. Vinnia leaned back into the girl formed of regrets in some attempt to console her, maybe even reassure her. It was important that he remember his regrets as well. Life was short and he was wasting it away in this horrible room.

She watched Gemma enter. The idea had been sewn that she might be a figment, not by Vinnia but by Ingram himself. "She looks so much like her." Vinnia marveled aloud and moved closer to the woman. "Do you think she knows about you and Mia?" She shook her head, brown hair moving around her shoulders reassuringly. "She probably doesn't. It was nothing- just a crush." Vinnia offered him peace but stood behind Gemma, her hand brushing the woman's shoulder as though they were made of the same material. "Oh dear, it looks like this one has a crush on you too." She murmured, running fingers up and down her arm.

She looked at Ingram, hoped to hold his gaze from where she stood behind the seated intern. "You could make it right this time." She suggested, always innocent, always helpful. "Invite her home with us. She looks almost as tired as you do." Her hand still moved, this time coming up over Gemma's shoulder to her neck. She ran fingers along that column of skin and then slowly down, crawling forward over her collarbone and toward her cleavage. "I'm sure there's enough room for all of us." Vinnia whispered, a small hopeful smile pulling at her shapely mouth and round cheek.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2013, 12:52:27 am »
Amelie was too shocked to appreciate Ingram’s hand in her hair, Julianna’s blonde, and registered disappointment with the departure of his touch at the same time she recognized she finally had a defined color.  It was comforting to have Vinnia’s back, and she nuzzled her face against the soft curve of the other figment’s neck.  It was confusing, this whole forming of her existence.  Her soft brown eyes shifted toward the door.

Gemma stepped inside the office, verdant gaze reflecting that keen sort of impressionability that only comes with being in the presence of a personal hero.  She adjusted her glasses and made a hasty attempt to push some of her unruly auburn behind her ears.  If Mia had been a fountain of confidence and exuberance, back in high school, Gemma had been her contentedly bookish shadow.  “It’s really an honor, Dr. Stellson, I’ve been following your work since your very first review article—“She began, stopping short when he brought up her Ema.

She took the seat she was offered and smiled, the tiredness in her shoulders seeming to melt away.  Gemma could be quite pretty, when she was talking about the things she loved, and she had very much already attached herself to pursuing a perfect Ema.  Amelie was nodding in agreement with Vinnia.  “I look like her.” Amelie said.  “We look like Mia?” she asked.  She followed Vinnia toward the young scientist.  Only Ingram could see them, after all.  And, even then, Ingram had only recently begun to see Amelie at all.  She didn’t feel so bad, being a little bold.  Standing beside Gemma, Amelie could have been the third Felix sister as she reached out to touch the woman’s hair.

Gemma laced her fingers together, on her lap.  “Well, you see, I noticed that Bellevore’s natural frequency seems to effect surrounding particles very regularly.  I think it’s contributing to a systematic breakdown of a lot of the essential proteins in the previous iteration of Ema.  I don’t think the structure I’ve got is right, but I was able to synthesize the proteins into a more geometric macrostructure that’s a bit more stable.”  She said.  “I think my Ema solution should prove to be more robust than the previous… maybe not to a truly statistically significant degree, yet, but I’m sure if I keep on working with this concept, it’ll show solid results.  I’ve already got an idea for a scaffold.”  She flushed, proud when he mentioned clearance.  She would’ve been lying if she said it wasn’t what she had been hoping for.  Of course, all of the interns were hoping for it.

Amelie inclined her head, blonde rolling over her shoulder.  “Is that a good thing?” she asked, cautiously, looking at Vinnia for an answer.  Amelie didn’t know all of the things that Ingram and Vinnia knew.  “Did she check on whether or not her proteins resonate, though?  If they’re lasting longer, and seemingly compatible, then it could be an issue.”  Amelie added, and then frowned.  She wasn’t sure whether it was better that Ema was being improved, or not.  Another inquiring glance in Vinnia’s direction.  Vinnia would know.

The enthusiasm in Gemma’s demeanor faltered, with Dr. Stellson’s question.  Her stare dropped to her hands.  “Oh.  Yes.  You used to come over to my house, when I was young, to see Mia.  She’s the one that first told me about your graduate work in neurological viruses.” Gemma admitted.  She’d been a reclusive child.  He wouldn’t have remembered her, beyond her retreating figure on the stairs, whenever he arrived.  The recognition, now, she was sure, was on account to the visual similarities she shared with her sister.  “I’ll admit I’m a really big fan of your work.  Your science is inspiring.” She said.  Mia had teased her for it.  Gemma’s the only girl that falls in love with a man’s mind and not the man, she’d said.  Gemma shifted on her seat.

“She’s doing well.  I don’t know if you two are still in touch.  She’s married.  Had her first kid about a year ago.  A little boy.” She said.  It seemed like the right thing to say.

Amelie smiled.  "Oh, that's lovely, isn't it?"     

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2013, 09:18:11 pm »
He was well aware of the possible games Belle could play on him now that Amelie shared traits with this student. It would seem as though the shadow figment wasn't as intrusive or as out-spoken as his central one, standing there to examine its likeness in the girl. For now that worked to his advantage, some rest from honeyed words, while Vinnia was busy with tending to her own student, who seemed to be new to things. The doctor stayed with his eyes on the real girl, or so he had no choice but to assume, fingers to his cheek, cleft of his palm to his chin. He'd been told he could be a little too focused, supporting his head on his arm, unhindered gold searching the implications of the speaker currently engaged. Unnerving was another word.

He would have been worried, in his own selfishness and his inevitable loyalty to Salvation, if he'd heard anyone go on astutely like her about the relationship between the building stones and Belle's song. Now it was a bit of a relief, to see that she understood the Virus' propensity to use it's abilities not only to spread and cause harm, but to actively defend itself. "The scaffold is a good idea." His voice was bit of a mumble, jaw somewhat restrained in it's motions as his head rested on the hand, elbow on the table. His acknowledgment of her last tidbit would indicated that he'd agreed with everything up until then. They could sell anything the competition didn't have. Gemma was exploring possibilities, of course, and wouldn't stop at a band-aid. "What inspired you for this structure?" It was a variation of the question he'd already asked. A tap to his heart, where the pocket holding her result was. He'd kept an eye on her because of her blood, never thought she'd have such a skill for durable constructs.

He lifted his head off his hand when it became less of a thinking matter, between them. "Mia." The missing older sister, for the two Felixes in front of him. It would be good to see her, but perhaps it was better for his sanity that she was not here, now. This answered Vinnia's question, whether Gemma knew or not. He had the urge to apologize to Gemma for his inability to respond to her sister's confession. That would be an awkward course of the conversation, even for someone locked in a white castle, who spent his time talking to his hallucinations. A small smile, earnest, awoke on the left corner of his lips. "We haven't kept up, no." Their medias were still synced, he had to assume, even if he didn't check anymore. It was bad that he hadn't read the announcements of her marriage or child. "Please, tell her a belated congratulations from me." He laughed and looked at Gemma. Mia's hair had been darker. "And to you. You're an aunt now. Yes, it is lovely." He said, to address both Felixes at once.

The expression adopted severe lines when Vinnia mused behind the copper-touched fall, charmingly ruffled by hard work. He tried his best not to frown. Make it right how? By following Vinnia's warm hands between the folds of Gemma's clothes? He'd be killing himself, effectively, by further risking his position to find a cure. Not to mention allowing Belle access to the only compilations of proteins that might withstand her. He'd had a hard enough time locking his own strand of Belle inside himself - those locks wouldn't hold for closer contact. On top of this, he doubted this Felix girl would think of such things - despite the affinity she showed - considering how he and Mia had concluded.

"I always meant for Ema to be widely used. I think Bellevore is a formidable test. Once we figure out how to harden the pattern so that not even Belle can tumble it, the constructs of Ema can envelop any unwanted foreign agent. It'll be mechanic, rather than biological." He'd sometimes thought that Ema and Belle were starcrossed. He couldn't have imagined a better enemy for his creation than the virus eating the world, at the same time, Belle would not stand if Ema was perfected.

That was why Gemma's blood and now her mind was important to him. Her own genetic details had proven durable for the waves of onslaught that was the dance with Belle. It was then that Vinnia's suggestion didn't sound so wicked. Moreover, it sounded sound. The seduction of this woman was relevant, no, paramount, not for the skin his figment tried to sell him, but for what rushed beneath it. "Ms. Felix." he started as he stood up. "Gemma." he corrected. "Do you mind?" His finger directed her toward the sampling machine. Fingerprints and blood. DNA for registration. Fresh was best. "We'll need it for the verification of your card and clearance." And to save the world. The smile was polite, a little hollow. The innate warmth in his eyes made up for it.

"Do you miss her?" he'd ask, walking the short distance. "Your sister, I mean, or anyone you were cut off from when we locked down? How is she doing, by the way, against Belle, out there?"

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2013, 02:14:10 pm »
Vinnia might have smiled in triumph when he took that softer tone with Gemma and directed her toward the horror show of machinery and blood. She might have been duped if she didn't hear his every thought. She felt his skin like it was her own. She could clutch at her chest and feel the beat of his heart there. She knew every secret, every dream, every thought. Vinnia only pretended not to because such a truth could be unnerving.

She frowned deeply and let her touch fall away from Gemma, stepping around her to move closer to the doctor even before the woman had the chance to rise behind her. "You are being deceitful, Ingram." The figment warned. "Careful. A few nice words and she might love you as much as Mia did. Would you break her heart as well just to get at her blood?" She hovered close to his side, her cheek near his shoulder, those eyes always looking up at him. "You know Mia never recovered. She married a man that looked a little like you in hopes that it would make her pain stop but every night she closes her eyes and thinks of you and it kills her a little more." Her voice lowered, a whisper so certain that it would sound like truth. Everything Vinnia said would sound like truth in his head to his addled senses. "One day she'll kill herself Ingram. They'll all think it was Bellevore but you'll know."

Her fingers touched his arm, it was gentle and pleading now as though these had only been truths that he had pushed her to remind him of. "Don't steal more from these girls, Ingram. You don't need it. There is nothing wrong with you but your persistence in staying in this place and taking these poisons."

She turned enough to reach out to Amelie. "We're tired, Ingram. Gemma's tired too. Let's just go home and take a long bath. Calm down and get a little rest. We can tackle it all again tomorrow." The harsh lighting of the room would grow brighter for Ingram, everything a little sharper against his senses. Vinnia would innocently take Amelie's hand when she neared and use her other to brush the other woman's hair behind her ear. "Wouldn't you like to go home, Amelie?"

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2013, 09:07:13 pm »
Amelie watched Ingram and the way his mood shifted, albeit subtly, as the cogs turned in his head.  She wasn’t quite so connected to Ingram’s thoughts as Vinnia, being as much a figment of her creation as his.  She had the appropriate sensitivity, though, owing her shape to the wanderings of his central nervous system.  She understood that he had decided something about the Gemma woman and that it made her uneasy and that was enough.  Her resonance with Vinnia’s feelings was enough to make her sure she was right.

Gemma paused the rolling tide of her enthusiasm when he repackaged his question for her.  She’d never been very good with that.  Inspiration on an abstract level was something she rarely spent much time on.  At least, she didn’t articulate it often.  “Well I guess I just… Bellevore is so successful because of the synchrony the virus has with the host.  I thought that maybe Ema needed to learn from the competition, so to speak.  That was my concept, at least.  So, I just worked off of that premise and… well it’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?  Even if it isn’t complete, yet.”  She said with a small smile.  She’d been delighted by the way the Ema had refracted the light and cast back a microcosm of prismatic galaxies in the test tube.  The science had all been there, but the art, too, had made her sure she’d found something closer to what was needed for Bellevore.

Gemma shrugged, and the conversation drifted back to her sister.  She nodded.  “Yea, of course I’ll let her know.”  Her fingers played idly in her hair.  “She’s managing fine, all things considered.  Her husband, not so much.  He contracted Belle just before I came here.  Her last mail said the hallucinations are manageable, but the substance of them have caused some strain in the relationship… understandably.”  Her lips pursed.  “At least he’s keeping up with the medication.  It makes her feel like he’s still on her side, ultimately.” Gemma glanced at the floor.  It was relatively common knowledge that the publicly available drugs were hardly sufficient, even in the infantile stages of the viral progression.

Amelie’s expression turned a little sad.  She felt bad for the Felix sisters.  Belle made people sad, until they had her for themselves.  She didn’t know what to do about that.  “It’s better if people on the outside aren’t involved…” Amelie murmured.  Gemma’s fidgeting distracted her.  The auburn-haired woman stood from her chair and followed Dr. Stellson to the machine.

“Ah… would it surprise you greatly if I told you I’m not fond of needles, Dr. Stellson?” Gemma asked with a vague smile.  She was compliant, anyhow, rolling each digit across the fingerprinting scan pad and setting her forearm into the chamber cuff.  Her spring gaze followed the small robotic arm and its needle, and she winced a little when it broke the fair skin at the crease of her arm.  “Quite a lot of blood for DNA testing, don’t you think?” she remarked in a tone that said it was conversation, rather than accusation.  Gemma wasn’t sure why they couldn’t have taken a DNA sample another way, being the sort of technologically forward facility they were.  She really didn’t like needles.  Part of her wondered if they might be checking for Bellevore, again.  It seemed like a reasonable suspicion.  After all, Belle had exhibited an intelligence that might suggest an ability to fight back against a cure on a cerebral level.

Amelie watched Gemma go to the machine, but found her attention eclipsed by the pleasantness of Vinnia’s fingers through her hair.  The figment closed her eyes and nodded, curling her fingers happily against Vinnia’s hand.  “Yes, home sounds nice.  I’d like a bath and rest.”  The soft brown eyes opened, though they remained half obscured by the low flutter of her long lashes.  Ingram’s late sister had always gotten her way, as a child, with those eyes.  “Will Ingram take us home now, then?” she asked Vinnia, growing attached to the suggestion.

Gemma ran her thumb over the waxy spot left by the aerosol administered bandage, when she pulled her arm out of the machine’s chamber.  “Is that it, for now?” she asked the doctor.  “Excuse me, if it’s rude to say, but I was thinking I’d really like to sleep for a couple of hours before I get back to work.”  She said.  She had realized she was quite exhausted, after the initial nervousness of meeting with Ingram had subsided.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2013, 01:38:52 am »
He thought it was beautiful to see Gemma so fueled when she spoke. It was a bit of a requirement to be fascinated by their enemy in this line of work. The structures that were their dancing partners had a way of pulling you in, like the deep sea, or the deeper sky, with their mystery and deliberate designs. One could find endless implications either way in the legs of the prisms. Ingram's face softened and the gold slowed its glow to a gentler brown. Not as picturesque, but engaging in a softer way. She understood Ema, and judging by the way Ema took the light when Gemma clad her, Ema had taken to her. His small but well meaning nod told the intern as much.

When Vinnia and the other real person spoke of Mia's relationship to her husband at the same time, the inward shine bounced to cut out all traces of shadow in his irises. The doctor's hands tightened on themselves and he looked down to see it. From the girl's - the one of flesh and blood - view he hoped it look like condolences. There was much guilt to act like cinder for the sparks of Vinnia's expertly spoken accusations. At least in Gemma's story, Mia had someone who would fight for her by fighting Belle. "We are on her side also, in here. Aren't we?" A small comfort, in light of the lacking weapons they'd put out for the masses.

He wrapped his hand over Vinnia's where it landed, on his arm. Was it odd to come to his tormenting spirit for comfort? If it was self-defeating, he'd have nothing. His head heeded the reflex to look at Amelie when she expressed sorrow for the one's who weren't locked inside Snow Town. He didn't know why it resounded so well with him. He thought that if the figment that had his sister's eyes felt sympathy, then so did he. Ingram couldn't afford to look at Amelia for long with Gemma here, and took his head back to meet her eyes as he followed her to the machine, one fang of hair cutting a gilded orb in half.

"It does not surprise me." he answered with a bit of a stale smile. "You know as well as I do about needles. They're a deliver- and extraction system." He reached for her other hand, not locked in the cylinder, and squeezed it, locking his thumb over it to better apply pressure. "Mother." With the wider hips Vinnia had chosen for herself. "She did this for me when we went under long tunnels. I'll spare you the nursery rhyme." His mouth felt slick at the prospect of having a fresh supply of Gemma's life for Ema to explore. He would have to explain that as a coincidence later.

The machine produced a card out of the base of the robotic arm, right beside the aluminum tank that held her blood. He let go of her hand to pick it up for her. "It uses your latest submitted picture. If you're not happy with it, you can change it at the ID station." When he held it out between two fingers, he wondered which hand she might use to accept it with.

All three of them wanted to leave. "Yes." to all of them, bravery in his stance flickering slightly. He was also strung thin. Ema didn't have a figment to come to his aid. "Let's rest." A pleasure in that word, though it was a wretched lie for himself. He was happy for Gemma, that she could achieve it. Ingram could see it now, the lights above pulsing, searing their pattern onto his mind. Tension between his brows. Another black fang fell to disturb the view of the already halved eye, as though it didn't like its position on top of the aching scalp anymore. "You'll let me know when you wake?" he said to Gemma alone.

He would follow her to the door, resting his hand on her back as he lead her. It was not meant to seem rushed. Ingram hoped she could anchor him until she had left so that he could lean against the wall, squinting, celebrating and finally suffering openly in his discomfort. "Light low." he ordered, desperate. It helped a little when the lab complied. Soon he was by the sink again, holding a couple of pills. He let them roll off his fingers when he looked back at the mother tormentor and her shadow child. He'd fill his belly with what he'd just discarded if he didn't love them, if they weren't made out of everything he'd loved. And he had promised Vinnia.

He called for a screen and almost nodded his face against it when reality vibrated in all its string. With a few sloppy commands he ordered an analysis of some of the new blood he'd acquired. "Home then." he agreed and straightened. There were as many warning voices in him then as there were longing songs.

The accommodations SaviorMed provided were abundant. They had not cared for his need for focus. It would be atrocious for their company to let one of their promising researches live in a cell. At least it was not far from his lab. Minimal baroque, they called it, where minimalistic cushions sat inside lavish, patterned, low leather structures. They called it a couch. Detailed, reflection free mirror art on pedestals. Their bends and nooks would do strange things with the light, even after he turned it off. No real trace of technology. It was all hidden, as per the current trend.

The walk had put some pretty life back in his face, watching Vinnia carry Amelie along. "Ice cream?" he asked and gestured to the kitchen before that hand fled further and he pivoted once. His legs gave as per his decision, and he laid, coat rumpled beneath him, on the floor. The patterns in his ceiling were rounder than the map of hexagons in the common areas and his lab. He put prisms in the intersections, and watched them correct themselves after one another. He thought he saw some truth there, for the shortest, clear moment.

He held up the cartridge with Ema, then he looked up at the pair that had insisted they come here. He felt belligerent in his fatigue, on the verge of indulging Belle or lash out at her. He held out the blue vial for them. "Should we try it together, then?" There was no telling what he'd do, depending on their answers.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2013, 11:56:07 pm »
There was triumph to going home- away from that horrible lab and all of its sharp needles and poisons. She held Amelie's hand the whole way back and didn't let it go until they were safely inside his apartment.

He offered icecream. She followed him toward the couch but kept a careful distance. He was irritable, needy and angry at the same time. It was good that they had come home. Who knows what he might have done in that lab. She could have gone into the kitchen. Could have retrieved his icecream from the fridge and even scooped herself a bowl. He would never notice that the scoops of vanilla weren't missing the next time he opened it. He wouldn't even notice that the dirty dishes were still the same ones from before. That was the beauty of Belle. It wasn't Vinnia alone. It was him. She was only there because his mind had made her and just as he saw her- just as he felt her- his mind would trick him into believing all the pieces that made her real.

She frowned when he pulled out that blue vial and held it up but it was a flicker before she smiled gently, patiently. "Ingram..." His name on her lips, the sound of his loving mother when he should know what he had done wrong and she should not need to tell him. But Vinnia was not quite as saintly as she was. She shifted from one thick hip to the other, taking those steps before bending forward over him to look down at him with one of those sweet playful smiles. Her dark brown hair had fallen forward over her shoulders to hang down around her round face, stretching out for him like the roots of a tree.

"Does it taste sweet?" She asked, lips twisting- too playful. She snatched the vial away and giggled, hopping a few steps and then jumping to stand on the couch. Somehow her lack of height seemed showcased when her whole body was off the ground. "Amelie, should we try it on the icecream?" She giggled but she clutched it tightly, holding it high. If he rose to take it back she would bring it to her chest and make every effort to keep out of his reach.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2013, 11:17:22 pm »
Amelie held fast to Vinnia’s hand, as they walked.  It made her glad that they were going to rest.  She cared deeply for both Vinnia and Ingram, and it troubled her to find them both with such aching heads.  Part of her hoped she would share the discomfort, someday, so she might empathize and be a little more a part of them.  It was odd, the things one wishes for in the pursuit of feeling alive.  Of course, it was a futile exercise, in the end.  Viruses are, inherently, on the margins of life.

The ice cream was exciting, to her.  Partially because she liked sweets as much as Ingram’s sister had, and partially because the mind in her that was intrinsically tied with Ingram’s own analytical soul found it fascinating that they could eat illusions and still taste the cold.  Amelie pressed her palms together, eagerly, as she hoped for Vinnia to spoon out a bowl.  The red-headed Felix girl’s blue drug took their path elsewhere, though.  Amelie was disappointed, in so much as she could be.  Vinnia did not seemed worried, overmuch, that Ingram was on the floor.  She decided not to be, either.

“Ice cream.” Amelie echoed.  It would be nice to have it, after anticipating it.  Her gaze flitted to the vial of Ema, thoughtfully.  Ema was bad for Belle.  If Ema was bad for Belle, Ema was bad for Vinnia and herself.  Her dark eyes shifted uneasily.  Ema was bad for Vinnia and herself, but maybe it was good for Ingram.  He seemed to think so.  This Ema wasn’t perfect, though.  The machines had said so.  Amelie smiled.  “Yes, we should try it.” She said.

Gemma fell back onto her bed with a long sigh.  Her hair was dark with the aftermath of a hot shower that had felt sinfully good.  She was exhausted.  The woman rolled to her side.  Across from her, on her nightstand, a digital frame cycled pictures of her family and friends.  People that weren’t in Snow Town.  Her lips tugged downward, just a little.  She’d never been one to be terribly sentimental, being caught up in her books the way she was.  Characters never acted in a way that couldn’t be understood, after all.  Still, she would have been lying if she said she did not worry for the people in her life.  Gemma sighed, again.  Bellevore was terrifying, because of the way it used loved things.  She tried to imagine a person made of all the beautiful things in her picture frame.  “It’s not fair to be the only person anybody needs,” she said, out loud.  “That’s a terrible way to break someone.”

Gemma closed her eyes and nestled beneath her covers.  She’d sleep for a few hours and get back to work.  She needed to, so she could find a way to help her brother-in-law.  And Mom.  And Dr. Stellson, because he was giving her a chance she didn’t know she deserved.  Gemma wasn’t sure how to live up to the standards of her intellectual hero.  Of course, in the end, that could only be living up to Ema.  That seemed equally improbable.  She’d do her best, though.  She rolled beneath the covers.  She’d give Belle some competition, regardless.

Her eyes snapped wide.  “We can trick Belle.” She yelped to the empty air of her room.  Gemma inhaled sharply and bolted out of her bed.  She grabbed her glasses off the nightstand and her lab coat, on the way out the door.  Sleep could wait. 

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2013, 11:21:33 am »
The hair that almost greeted his cheekbones and offered to him a funnel of new, juvenile love for his nostrils to register was as enticing and satisfying as always. He felt quite powerless for those strands, that he could be so filled with desire and have that desire sated in the same instant. Attachment wasn't coaxed out of him or lured, not required or invited - it was absolute. Her loveliness broke through his brittle guard and she spoke through it's glittering, falling shards when she asked her question.

"Sweet." and that was what the word was. And so what he said was not an answer, but another one of Vinnia's tricks come to fruition. He stood up sluggish when she bereft him of Gemma's genius, playing with the small container, glass cylinder with an intricate metal cap - SaviorMed liked the baroque, these days - as though it was a boy's cap, stolen from his boy head. It was easy to fall into that role, when she had spoken with mother's voice, and swayed with mother's hips. He couldn't afford such deep infatuation, he couldn't afford any more love than that which he couldn't hold back from Vinnia. He felt ornery, and frankly villainous, for always withholding what he wanted to feel when he dealt with her.

"What will you do, Veevee" Spelled 'W' when he wrote, always in italic, that letter. "You're not tall enough to keep that from me." He lifted his hands to take it back; hope. As she stood further on her toes, an effort that sunk her down a little more into the depths of the cushions, she pivoted his attention away with a question. He saw Amelie and her wraith form, building guild and fond memories of friendship as sure as Vinnia's hair brought him to another journey's end. Amelie who had been so excited for the ice cream he'd promised. She who had had none.

His hand lowered to rest on Vinnia's stomach. Heat of Christmas lights, the ones you twist to turn off, behind the dress. He smiled at Amelie as he wished he could smile at his sister before he lifted his hand again and stroked the hair of the stronger ghost. "Alright." He agreed. He needed to ingest it. If his figments would allow it orally, then he would have to play along.

Ingram walked to the fridge and it sensed his desire, popping open the compartment he thought of. A revolver of flavors. He passed it, and retrieved a large porcelain bowl on a metal foot from a glass cabinet. Three spoons, small, and a silver scoop with sharpened, gold-brass edges. He laid the spoons down like rays around the bowl and put three flavors in a row. Rum raisin for the girl who'd loved him with her body, and allowed him to love her back, mature, that woman, pear for himself, and then Mia's flavor, that she'd eaten from a small container while they watched movies, vanilla.

"Come here, with the condiment then, Vinnia." he asked as he laid three cold orbs up for each of them. He looked at her as though he'd be greatly disappointed, as though she had promised that she'd bring it back to him, now that he had played along. He lifted the spoon in the middle and held up the bowl like a glass of wine, ready to be filled, with is other hand. He'd drank his share of wine in life.

In a reality that was becoming thinner in his blood, the vial of blue had been with him all along, of course.

The screens that awoke to follow Gemma's hasty flight were faithful, but not solid. It could be dangerous for solid, floating screens to follow motions over a certain speed. They greeted her a pleasant night, and wondered if she would like to alert whoever she was visiting, as the program had felt her pulse, and deemed this visit somewhat impulsive in nature. It was an archaic application that was still standard set-up, unless you wished it away.

Or maybe it was Ingram's destiny to be found out, eating ice cream by himself.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2013, 04:04:02 pm »
Vinnia smiled brightly when he played. She loved him, of course. Everything in her was made to love him right until the end. She knew all of him and cringed at nothing. There was no secrets, no damnable truths. He was Ingram and she knew his goal to drink that blue liquid. She giggled and asked if it was really something they could eat- if it was really sweet. She knew it wasn't but he preferred the illusion of her naivety and she preferred him pliable.

Those thick hips moved when she walked on the cushions before hopping almost elegantly down to the floor. She bumped into and leaned against Amelie while he scooped icecream. She hugged her from behind and kissed the other apparition's cheek. "Icecream and a topping." She whispered excitedly before taking her hand with the one of hers not carrying his poison turned condiment. Vinnia led Amelie to the island of tile across from him, looking at the bowl between them with glee.

"It better not taste like licorice." She warned playfully and held out the vile. She gave it back. She smiled and the gleam of love in her eyes would say that she trusted him.

She put her elbows to the counter and her chin into the cradle of her palms and watched him pour poison on their dessert. It was a beautiful blue. He handed them their spoons before taking up his own and she bumped her hip to Amelie's and mumbled something about gentlemen with another giggle.

She accepted the spoon and when he took a scoop so did she. She waited for him to bite first, as though she still wasn't sure about the flavor of his blue addition. When he didn't cringe she tasted it too. One bite and then another but when she put her spoon into the rum raisin the third time, she coughed. A little cough at first that seemed to be followed by others. She smiled apologetically and blushed, standing straight and leaving her spoon behind. Her hand came to her mouth when the cough grew, large green eyes turning teary.

She coughed hard, a whimper of pain, and then thick red came up to fill her mouth, overflowing her lips into her pale palm. Her hand shook and her eyes widened when she stared at the red leaking from between her fingers to stain the carpet. She looked up at Ingram through her hair, tears sliding down flushed cheeks. "Ingram.." She sobbed his name in pain and confusion, those eyes imploring him for some sort of explanation or help before they looked at the blue on his spoon. More red heaved up from her lungs to slide between her fingers and she cried, looking at him miserably. "Why?"

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2013, 09:48:38 pm »
Amelie smiled, happy they were all so familiar, in that moment with the ice cream and the kitchen.  She leaned into Vinnia and breathed in the scent of comfort and home that was Mother’s perfume and Ingram’s sister’s favorite fragrance.  She blushed and nodded.  “It’s a pretty blue,” she said.

The phantom of regrets was the unabashed eager Ingram had, as a child, and lost with maturity.  She did not wait for him to try the ice cream first, enthusiastically pulling the spoon to her lips so the blue-and-vanilla chilled her tongue.  It was yummy, Amelie thought.  She noticed a little tickle at the back of her throat, something like the start of a cough, but blamed it on too much quick cold.  It did occur to her that Ingram’s rational mind said it was the start of discomfort from the Ema topping on her treat.  The rest of her, dedicated to the translation of hallucination to reality, liked blaming it on eating fast, better.

She dropped her spoon, in surprise, when the red trickled up from Vinnia’s lips.  “Vinnia?” she mewled, empathetic and worried because she could not help it.  Her fingers flew to her own lips, as if she expected to find slick iron there.  “Vinnia, what’s happening?” she asked, and then turned to Ingram.  She had not spoken directly to him, ever before.

“Ingram?  Why is it hurting her?” the exchange student’s lips asked.  His sister’s eyes said, ‘why is it hurting her and not me?’ Amelie set her bowl aside on the counter and reached to take Vinnia’s bowl away from her, as if it might make the hurt stop.  “The Ema is stronger, then?” she said, letting the question hang thinly on the air with no intention of receiving answer.  Her brows scrunched with worry.

Gemma waved the screens off with her hand and a sharp “No, thank you, I’m going to the lab.”  She fumbled with the buttons on her coat as she went, shaking her head in vague disbelief that she had not thought of such an idea to begin with.  “But, please, send Dr. Stellson a message.  Write, ‘I want to replicate Bellevore’s neurological effects in Ema.  Supposing potential for a hallucinogenic antibody?  May I proceed?’ and mark it urgent.” She dictated.

She was hasty at the hand and retina scanners, having to try twice because she was already halfway moved toward the door before the scans registered.  She couldn’t begin synthesizing a new batch of Ema until he gave her the release.  At least, not one with such a drastic change.  She could, however, begin preliminary experimentations to prove proof of concept with slightly more innocuous drugs.  The lab lights flickered on when she entered.  As the door closed behind her, sealing out the ambient noises of the compound, she slowed to a stop.

Gemma took a deep breath and adjusted her glasses up on the bridge of her nose.  “You can create this, Gemma Felix.” She told herself and the silence.  She tied her damp hair back from her face with an elastic on her wrist.  “You’re smarter than Bellevore.” She said.  She wasn’t sure how true that was, given Belle’s integration with its hosts.  “…You can make Ema smarter than Belle.” She amended to the empty lab.  At least it was a starting point.       

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2013, 01:02:20 am »
At first her eager had come to him as triumph. She was drawn to the triad of tastes like he would have been. There was a reason they were talking about ice cream and not some other comfort. Ingram hid behind this hope for a while, that she may be basing herself off his sweet-tooth rather than his cunning. Her mirth was genuine enough that he felt it sour in his perception of it, eventually. It was a lie, that he was about to feed her and Amelie. That poor tail figment. He was going to deliver her demise in her first encounter with this treat.

And still, he had to stay the course. This was what Belle did, this was what she was. He ate quickly and the taste of pear was accompanied by silver bells in his nasopharynx. It felt like forgiveness, spreading outward with every cloven inhale. His head was cleansed, the sensation reaching through his sinuses and in. He wondered what it was that disappeared. Whatever residue it was, it had oppressed him, somehow, because there was a clear note of relief in its wake. Vinnia must have seen it. She took two tastes for herself while he had another, mostly Ema on the spoon. He smiled and winked at green eyes as he swallowed.

Amelie had taken her taste before any of them. She was pleased as well. Mia was there with them, then, many years younger than she was on her latest photo updates. He could see her approval of the vanilla in Amelie's shoulders. He was going speak through the cleansing riot in the middle of his face, to encourage her to have more, when Vinnia coughed. At first he grinned and shook his head, chastising her with a look for having eaten too fast. That kind of teasing fled fast from his mind when she cringed in another cough. Guilt and fear replaced the kinder cold of Ema. He looked from Vinnia to Amelie, the ghost of his ghost so very clear, then, as though Belle has seen it fit to finally clarify her outlines.

"Ema cures me." was all he could offer the smaller of the figments before he reached over the island, spoon landing to underline his failure to catch Vinnia's arm, or her lovelusted hair when his hand froze in its pursuit to touch that which wasn't truly there. And wasn't truly bleeding. Ingram swallowed, sick and intrigued by the sheer amount that was leaving the lips under the green eyes. A pang of cracking resolve followed when Amelie posed that Ema might be the collection of prisms to defeat Belle, and overtake Vinnia. He was around the supporting surface between them very soon, holding with his fingers and wiping with his thumbs.

He didn't want Ema to be stronger as he tried to contain her inward bleeding by tending to Vinnia's lips. It was a particularly severe fall from rationality, considering his profession, and all he'd ever learned. "Shhush." he tried, as though the stream would listen to the primal, quivering command. Only now did he discover that he was still holding the vial. The amount he already had should be enough to usher in the effects of this batch. In all honesty it was promising. He just hadn't considered these-- side effects. "Look, Vinnia." he implored as he tossed the vial to crack with a bloody hand. It cracked but wouldn't shatter against the fridge. "It's gone. There is no more blue." A statement, but with the signatures of a plea.

With a frustrated hiss he drew a few strands back to sit behind his ear, effectively leaving Vinna's life in three streaks on his cheekbone and temple. "Come." he said and lifted her easily. Her weight was frighteningly real in his hold. "It's a cure. Ema's a cure." he mumbled to himself and to Amelie, over and over as he took the formerly playful spirit to the couch. He laid her down, head on one of the pillows. Why was was there so much black blood? Her dress looked like a slaughter, her coughing mouth an exit wound.

The doctor slid absently with his touch over her saturated belly and chest, remnants of hope to clean her feeding the senseless attention, along with some fragments of hope that she'd find comfort in the caress. He looked back at Amelie, the way he'd looked back at Coura once, when he'd ran over a bird with his scooter. Sanity was only now returning, reason reminding him who he was, and what these apparitions couldn't be. It struck him finally, what she'd carried in her eyes before. "You're not hurting." he said as the traces of blood, puddles, really, pulsated and shrunk, to smoothen out the lie, now that it had played out its primary, ballistic purpose. "You're not hurting, Amelie."

Gemma sent him a message and his relays transmitted it before him. He could still see Amelie beyond the teal letters of the words 'hallucinogenic antibody'. Ingram refused to read the entire pm as though he'd be able to see the answer in the secondary figment's features if he was patient. In many ways he was staring at a solution to his assigned problem, and a demise to his current infatuation. Eventually he collected himself enough to realize the genius of the intern. He approved with the reply 'This will of course turn the tides. If it works. Proceed.'

"Why are you two, Amelie?" he asked and clutched the wet fabric of Vinnia's clothes, dark eyes on dark eyes. They'd never been this clear, his sisters expressions. There were very few records of tail figments. If Vinnia was fading, in form and not resolution, Amelie should at least not be thriving in both those aspects.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2013, 12:37:03 pm »
Vinnia cried through her blood when he carried her. Her blood was endless because she decided it so. "You're trying to kill us." She sobbed into his shirt, clutching at him for comfort even when he sought to brutally destroy her. "What have I done to you? What harm have I caused?" She half demanded and half plead when he laid her on the couch. Her skin would look sickly pale and the room shades darker to his eyes. Shadows would grow because Vinnia did not like how he tried to justify his cruelty.

She was alive in him and he sought to kill her. Might as well wrap his fingers around her neck, slick with her own blood, and try to choke her.

She was making wet sobbing sound when his message popped up. Gemma was persistent. She would be infected soon enough with her closeness to Ingram. It was only a matter of time.

Vinnia opened her eyes, no longer fluttering or losing focus to look at his turned cheek. She followed his gaze to Amelie. She didn't play along. She didn't know to. It wasn't really her game because they weren't really the same. Her fingers twisted in his sleeve and more tears overflowed those large eyes to roll down rounded cheeks. Her cries pitched miserably to try to steal back his attention from that curiosity. "Why are you trying to kill me?" She sobbed, begging him for an answer to a question that sounded so cruel in her frail voice.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2014, 09:40:20 pm »
Amelie wrung her hands together, gaze darting between Vinnia and Ingram.  She felt as if she had done something wrong.  She chewed at her lower lip, and wished there was blood there.  “Two?” she asked him, shaking her head as she did so.  “I am yours and Vinnia’s,” she said, and it felt like she was protesting her autonomy.  However, Amelie did not know what autonomy was enough to argue against it.   She understood it, in concept, but could form no connection to it.  Amelie understood the scientific sides of Ingram’s mind, and from that had firmly gathered that she was not real.  Her point of confusion, of course, lay in assessing Vinnia.  If Ingram could not handle her logically, Amelie had no chance.  She was, after all, as inherently dedicated to the other shade as she was to the man.

The svelte apparition moved to the side of the couch cradling Vinnia’s head and knelt there.  Her wide dark eyes studied the crimson trails.  “He is trying to save himself, I suppose.” She offered her dear sister.  It was an unsettling and serene answer off the otherwise naïve lips.  “He doesn’t want us.” She said, and looked back at Ingram for confirmation.  Her expression was the same sad Mia’s had been, when Ingram had rejected her in the gymnasium.  Sweet and defeated, all the more tragic because she was complacent.  “Vinnia, I don’t want us to die,” she said, ignoring the idea that ‘us’ might have been more accurately phrased ‘you.’

“Can you get better, without killing us?” she asked Ingram.  An innocent question.  “I don’t know what happens to us, if you stop seeing us.  Can we still be okay?” she asked him.

Gemma clapped her hand against the lab bench, when the message came in.  “Thank you!” she blurted, to the machine.  It did not respond.  She pushed a fall of unruly hair from her eyes and turned back to her microscope display.  Gemma wanted Belle to make Ema, on its own.  She needed to make Bellavore ‘think’ a secondary hallucination, as vivid as the virus’s form, would be beneficial.  From there, perhaps, they could control the path of the new hallucination.  They could give it to the immune system.  She was confident that the brain could adapt its own cure, if it had taken to Belle’s hallucinogenic manifestations so readily.  They just had to give the body an antibody that was on level ground with the virus.

She pipetted a single drop of an amber colored reagent into her petri dish.  In the microscope, aquamarine luminescence winked as the reagent penetrated Belle’s lipid layer.  Several seconds passed, and nothing happened.  Gemma frowned and twisted on her stool to look back at her lab notebook.  All she wanted, at the moment, was to make Belle replicate.

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Re: Belle the Beast
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2014, 08:58:20 pm »
The accusation; him a murderer, wasn't true. It couldn't be. By all means he was trying to do good, create good things for the innocent, if the people outside of Snow Town could be referred to as such, collectively. There was no doubt in Vinnia's eyes and no dishonesty in the hurt glistening on her blood spit. By her very definition she was a perfect actress. He wouldn't see a speck of falsehood in her sweetest moment, and he couldn't find a trace of stone in her eyes now, when her goal was guilt. In him her words caused appropriate damage, wrestling always with his sense of logic, seducing it with deceitful flexibility. Ingram was deeply set in his logic. Vinnia was a thing that uprooted him.

He breathed the first syllable on his defense of her virtues, so that she wouldn't think that she did harm. It was a strong aspect of his psychosis, so prominent it was invisible to his alert mind. A little boy, shaking his head at his mother's harsh introspection. Amelie did not allow him to say more. His resolve, harboring cracks from Vinnia's question, took another cold wind from Amelie's resignation. They both seem to invent a malice in him, no, an indifference he didn't agree with. His actions made them right, he scolded himself, and suddenly he couldn't remember what good singing Vinnia's praise would have done him.

Their questions overlapped in his head. Modesty in the little one's, and hurt in the central one's. It was as simple as they'd laid it out. His answer would be that he couldn't fight Bellevore without aiming to diminish the pair, but he didn't want to make Amelie right - what if there'd be no change in her expression, then whatever weight that kind of statement brought had already existed inside of her, and that would be unbearably sad - and he didn't want admit to Vinnia that he indeed aimed to be her demise, it would feel too much like treason, the way she looked at him, spending her life on every cough because of him already.

"You won't die." he said to them. Amelie didn't seem to fade at all, though, from his vile endeavor. She was still right, in that he'd intended to kill them. "I've stopped taking Ema, haven't I?" It mooted her last questions. His tone was a chilly shield. He would have to believe that No, they could not stay if Belle went. And he couldn't express that in an affectionate way. The blood on his face, trice, glistened in a few colors for them, then. Pretend things catching light in an impossible way, to win the interest of other pretend things. Ingram must have dreamed it, somewhere in the increasing compartments of his fragmenting self. He bent his legs and pushed his knees on the floor and to the side of the couch. He clutched Vinnia's dress with all his fingers and rested his cheek on the wet fabric. He looked up at Amelie, wondering against what she was.

Amelie. I'm a lie. He smiled up at her, sluggish in his returning fatigue. She didn't cry for herself, the shadow that she was. Did she have enough inside her to feel sad for herself? He reached up to wipe her cheek, and left a heavy mark of Vinnia there, underneath her eye, where she wasn't hosting a tearfall. It would be too much for him to leave her without this comfort, even if she was without the need for it. "No matter the outcome" of my life. "I will always be seeing the two of you." he said when he realized it. Then he turned his nose down, to soak it deeper into the hot guilt swimming on Vinnia's clothes.

She was making all kinds of sounds from her inner. He listened to the pool water licking at the pool sides, his back warming in summer, while his sister Coura was much too young for her coming accident, fussing over how her giraffe wouldn't inflate. Vinnia's belly smelt of chlorine then, and didn't leave darkness on him when he touched her. Where he sat, he moved his head lower on her, putting his ear to the top of her pelvic slope to leave room for Amelie. Burnt honey eyes looked up at the small blonde as he patted Vinnia, that the weaker fragment may lay there too. "Could there be a pace, you think, between my life and the things I've loved?" he asked the mistress of them both as he reached out to pull at Amelie's wrist.

He shouldn't indulge like this. Humoring them meant loosing his time, descending deeper. He'd have to trust in Ema in his system. Unfinished Ema, fighting alone, when he didn't help her. His tongue flickered out to catch some of the pool water on the dress. He looked up, between her well-off orbs to see her chin, that had not taken to the fantasy of the clear liquid, still splayed with liver color. "I don't suppose you could tell me what it is that I could come across, that I could have Belle and all my tomorrows?"