AngeliqueStrauss

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My Angel: The Life and Death of Angelique Strauss-Quentin

CONTENT NOTE: Attempted suicide

CAST OF CHARACTERS: Angelique Quentin-Strauss, Mister Q (Jacque Quentin), Rezurrection (Gregory Reza, mentioned Jean Pierre Quentin

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When I first met Q, he was as charming as anything. He called me “mon ange,” “my angel.” His French accent was hardly a novelty in Paris, but there was just something magnetic about him. Or maybe it was the mystery surrounding him. Red eyes were bound to get stares. I think that is one of the reasons I was first attracted to him. Part of my niche appeal was my white eyes. But every so often, my appearance was mocked or the subject of irrational fear. There weren’t as many mutants around during this time, so there was an instant kinship. That didn’t stop the rumours that he was some sort of monstrosity. Nothing he said really ever claimed otherwise. As many words as he used, he never said much. Is there anything more alluring than such a cultured mask? You always want to know what’s underneath. It’s even more exciting to think you are one of the few who truly understand what lies hidden.

Our courtship didn’t last long. He was supporting me long before we were ever married, so it seemed the natural next step. I was such a beautiful, young bride. White always looked brilliant on me with my ivory hair and glowing eyes. But what I remember most was the way Q looked at me. There was so much love. Not just puppy love either. Every bit of love—commitment, companionship, lust. Two mutants in a world of humans, it seemed perfect, destined that we would meet and get married. With all out love, it shattered my heart when we found out I wasn’t able to conceive. I wanted so much to have a son with Q to carry on his legacy. Maybe I’m traditional, but I’ve always thought a woman’s pride is her ability to have a child. That was the first disconnect I saw in Q’s face, a darkened disappointment. It made me want to die. I would have done anything to change my situation. When Q came to me with news about a laboratory in Switzerland that showed promise to providing me with an heir, I couldn’t have signed on fast enough. I didn’t even bother to read the fine print. Q did. I didn’t think he’d ever misinform me of just what I was getting myself into. I guess it does to show that maybe I didn’t know what was under that mask of his.

His bother Gregory started becoming more involved in our relationship. Though he was always courteous to me, he creeped me out a bit. At the time, I couldn’t really explain it. I pretended to be okay with his presence in my son’s life when he was brought home to me. When he told me Jean was a vampire, I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to believe that Q had decided this was okay to do to my son. But it became unavoidable as Q began to encourage predatory behaviour in Jean during his adolescence.

I spent all my time and energy on Jean Pierre. I was sickened by Q’s fostering of his vampiric nature that I distanced myself from my husband. Maybe it was my own fault that Q cheated, but now I’ve lived longer and looked back, I don’t think it was the first time. It certainly wasn’t the last. When I found out about it, I was so close to divorcing him. I can’t abide infidelity. It was then I moved to New York. Q was still involved in Jean’s life, still wanted to be with me, but I just needed space. It’s not like one can actually stop a time manipulator and teleporter from finding ways of visiting. I couldn’t keep him from influencing Jean if I tried. He loved his father. I couldn’t keep that from him. We even tried playing house again, until I walked in on Jacque f*cking one of his aids at Timeless. Gregory tried to tell me it wasn’t my fault, that Q was the bastard child of infidelity and it was lamentably in his nature.

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Angelique slammed the door to her room, soft hands over her face to hold in the salty streams. Why did it hurt so much? It wasn’t the first time Jacque had cheated on her. She wasn’t that much of a fool. Her back pressed to the door as she sobbed. A knock caused her to fall silent, quickly wiping away the fallen tears.

“Angelique? Are you alright? Can I come in?” The familiar English voice of Gregory echoed through the door. Before she even thought of why, she had opened the door.

“What is it?” She tried her best to look as if nothing was wrong, hip popped to one side, her white eyes casting their characteristic stare upon the visitor.

Rezurrection was not so easily misled. He brushed past her into the room, the door closing behind him. His cold, blue eyes gazed at her. “My questions were rhetorical, of course. I can tell you are not alright, my dear.” A hand was placed tenderly upon her shoulder. “What is troubling you so? Is it Jacque again?” Her lip trembled as he spoke. She tried to be strong, stoic, but she faltered and fell into a fit of crying. The undead man wrapped his arms around her consolingly, allowing her to cry upon his shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Angelique. You must understand that it is not YOU.” He gently stroked her snowy hair. “It is no mystery to you that I loathe the man sometimes. He is a child born out of wedlock. His mother and my father broke my mother’s heart that night, and this bastard was the result. And yet he was raised along side me as my brother, reaping all the love and doting a child could.” Gregory paused to place a curved finger beneath Angelique’s chin, drawing her face upward toward his. He shook his own head, traces of mournfulness present in his illusory, azure eyes. “He’s a spoiled bastard not to appreciate what he has been given. I would never squander such a rare gift. He has the love of a beautiful and powerful woman, and still his attention is drawn by lesser mortals. He’s a fool. You deserve more than him, my dear.”

The white-haired woman sniffed, her hair buzzing with electrical energy from the emotional strain. “I love him. I do… why doesn’t he love me? Why did I have to fall for him?!” Her fingers gripped into Reza’s shoulders, an arch of lightning arching from them. The lich winced more from instinct than actual pain. Angelique’s eyes widened. “Oh, Gregory! I’m sorry! Sometimes I can’t control…” She pulled away from him, ashamed. His hand grasped her delicate shoulder to turn her back toward him.

“Angelique, nothing you can do to me can hurt me.” He stared into her glowing eyes, glistening all the more from her tears. A deathly cold finger reached up to stroke her face, pushing the tears lingering in her lids away. His face lowered toward hers, noses brushing together gently. Angelique gasped and stepped back suddenly. “Almost nothing…” He straightened his posture.

The woman motioned for the door, opening it with a delicate hand. “You should go. I’ll be alright. I just need time alone.” The Morbid Mage nodded his head somberly and made his hasty departure.

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Maybe it was in Q’s nature. His cheating was so much worse as I got older. I could feel myself physically declining, fine lines growing across my face that once was emblazoned on magazine covers. I started purging and starving myself. When Jean became a surgeon, I was always in his chair getting this or that done to stay young. I would spend hours staring into the mirror at all my imperfections. It was insult to injury to know my beautiful children would never age, that Q could always turn back his own physiological clock. One of those days, I remember smashing the mirror, picking up one of the pieces and slicing open my arm. Gregory saved me. I owe him my life, my miserable, ugly life.

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Another line. Another grey hair. Another barely legal mistress waiting in the wings. A pale fist smashed the mirror before her, her image shattered. She gasped and pulled her hand away in pain, blood dripping from her wounded flesh. She cried. Wayward fingers grasped a shard of glass, pressing it to her bare arm and then down. The artery pumped the blood out like deathly clockwork. It hurt like hell at first, but at least it would be over soon. She fell back in her chair, her arm falling from the vanity, red staining her satin robe. She could die while she was still beautiful. At least she’d make a lovely corpse. Maybe then Q would see what he missed. Her lids closed as she felt her body growing weak. She couldn’t even manage a smile as her sight was engulfed by blackness.

The door was flung open, the Sordid Sorcerer rushing to her side. He picked up her limp body and hoisted her over to the bed. “Angelique?” His hand felt for a pulse. It was faint. She blinked, her vision spotty. Time seemed to slow as he leaned over her, to whisper in her ear. “Angelique, why do you seek death when I offer you something so much more? I could make you immortal, eternally beautiful, undying. Why would you resist?” She gasped, her body trying to pull away, hoping to be rid of him of Q, of everything. His brow furrowed. “I cannot let you pass, Angelique. You are too important yet.” The blackness returned. Finally. But it wasn’t the end. A bloody death is impossible when a haemokinetic doesn’t will it. She wasn’t even in control of her own body.

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Gregory seemed to indirectly proposition me on a number of occasions. In some ways, it was flattering, to know someone still wanted me and found me attractive. But deep down, I knew it was all a kind of game to him, a way to get his hated half-brother Q. Those two are so strange. They have so much vitriol toward each other but continue to stay in contact. It’s like, they are afraid of having each other as a proper enemy. It’s always these passive-aggressive slights and subtleties. A cold war if ever I saw one, and I was in the middle of it like a trophy as an indicator of triumph. To be honest, it was sort of a moment of pride every time I denied one of Gregory’s advances. Look how much better I am than my unfaithful husband. But it still didn’t assuage my perpetual loneliness. And sometimes, Gregory almost felt genuine, his cold touch almost seemed warm and inviting. That’s saying nothing of his ultimate offer: to turn me immortal. It came as no surprise as long as I had known him that he was a powerful necromancer, though I had never heard the term “lich” before. That temptation was the absolute worst. I could be a vampire like my children. But the more I thought about the implications of that, the more sickened I felt. I wasn’t a killer. I never could be. If I ever became one… I would have given up everything that made me who I am. All for vanity, the paltry promises of man who in all likelihood, probably didn’t even care about me besides what he could get out of me.

But I was weak. I was always weak. Eventually, I succumbed. When the lich lord called me from my grave, I answered. I saw my own funeral. That was the worst, as if my regret would forever be engraved in my sepulchre. I threw everything away, pledged my life to a loathsome man, all for what? An existence of naught but cold, lifeless beauty.

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The clouds were heavy with the threat of rain. The air seemed as mournful as the sombre procession below. Q stood before the crowd, his red eyes darkened with uncharacteristic sorrow. Even a master of time could only do so much. A terminal illness was a terminal illness, and all timelines held the same fate for his angel. His lids hung low, his lips parted, but only silence was heard. He shook his head, for the first time in his long life, he was lost in the moment. Finally, the Q Patriarch spoke.

"She was my angel. I... I loved her more than anyone else in the world, throughout all time or space." He sighed. "But her soul has parted from mine, our bond forever severed." Two fingers were pressed to the bridge of his nose. "For all my foresight, it was my own foolishness that drove her from me, her heart frozen against me long before it ever stopped beating. I should have loved her more in life. What I gave was far less than she deserved." He sniffed, looking out into the crowd. "Au revoir, mon ange, mon amor."

As the casket was placed inside the tomb, the group dissipated. Jacque stumbled beyond them toward his brother, grasping at the lich's coat. "Where is she, Gregory? Bring her back to me! Where is my wife?"

The blood mage tore himself away, smoothing down his suit jacket, blue eyes cold with indifference. "She's not yours anymore, Q. ''Til death do us part.' That was your oath. Once she died, she became mine." He hissed, his lips curling up as his illusion fell. His skeletal smile was laid bare, a twinkle of triumph in his gleaming, red eyes. "She pledged her soul to me. And my oaths are eternal." A wry cackle rattled through his bones. "For all your manipulations of time, my realm is inevitable. All that you own will fall into decay and dust and rise again to serve me." He stepped in close, as if to plunge one more dagger into the mutant's heart. "In the end, she chose me. Your failings drove her into my arms."

Pushing past his half-brother, Rez walked to her now abandoned sepulchre. With a rune of blood and a practiced incantation, finishing his previous rites, the necromancer summoned the woman from her slumber. The sky crackled with thunder, lightning darting across the darkening sky. From the grave, a pale figure emerged like wisps of ivory smoke. Her dress billowed in the storm, flickering outward like spectral wings. Her eyes opened, electricity sparking about them.

"Rise, my angel."
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