PsyKnight

Dr. Jean Pierre "John" Quentin

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Letters to the President

Jean sat at his desk. His manicured fingers tapped on the wooden surface as his brilliant blue eyes gazed down at the pages. He had drafted a bill and sent it to Congress. A proposal of a repeal of the Super Human Registration Act. The official bill replaced it with the Meta-Human Protection Act requiring anti-discrimination laws to be enacted by state legislatures, incentives for schools and workplaces to offer training for super humans to allow them to safely be integrated into society while retaining the discretion granted by their US citizenship. As important as this was to Jean, he hoped it would get very little attention, that the adjustments would transition smoothly throughout the country without causing any particular interest or concern. He could see why conspiracy theorists would suppose the government fabricated crises to cover their real intention. The surgeon almost wished for a distraction. If the act was a success, he would be lauded. If it failed, his people would be worse off than before. He at least wanted something to distract himself.

President Quentin closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. No. There was no room for distractions. He felt the hunger growing within him. He needed to put his mind on other things, other people besides himself. He couldn't linger on his need. He couldn't let himself be open whilst a psychic demon lay in wait to corrupt his mind. His attention turned to his desk once more, emails were already directed to him, letters upon his desk. And he was dreading them. The White Knight had so far to fall, a vampire awaiting to feel the pulse of the people. His fingertips slid open on envelope at the top of the stack. Such an archaic form of correspondence, he was surprised anyone still used the means.

"President Quentin, I know you are a busy man who will doubtless receive much correspondence in the coming days. I cannot however silence the words that must be sent. I just wanted to thank you. When I heard news of your reforms, I was inspired. I want to help superhumans like myself to better control their abilities. We have long been feared by humankind, and I look to rectify that. But until then, it behooves everyone that we remain unknown.

I look forward to the strides your administration will make and will do my part as a citizen to make this country a safer place for meta and human alike.

Stay strong,

VV."

Jean's brows furrowed. A familiar penmanship. Signed VV. Or was it W? But the words brought a smile to his face, a warmth welling up in his heart. He could only hope any further responses would be so positive.

[OOC: if you would like, write a letter to the President to tell him what your character would think concerning the new legislation or really anything. Even death threats if you're so audacious. ;) Just bold and quote, etc. text that is IC. I won't respond to individual letters, but it might be an interesting exercise for people to read or something. Maybe narratives besides just letters. Just write responses of various kinds. How people might experience the change or whatever!]

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White Knight in the White House

Then: 1969, NYC

Jean pondered in his darkness of his father’s study, recalling the time he had become aware that Alexandra Steele was his genetic template. He felt nearly crushed by the sudden weight of emotions that bore down upon him. There were so many thoughts that had swirled about his golden head. Clone? There was another version of him? Or another version of her rather. He was a copy? No wonder the self-absorbed teenager had been so infatuated with this vampiric vixen. There was excitement, a feeling as though he had been only half alive before that moment. He met her and now was complete. He was whole. And yet... there was a sorrow. He wasn't an original. He was a shadow of this original beauty, this persona of prestige and power. He was a spoiled boy who had taken everything for granted, even his own construction. Now he felt compelled to live up to the self-made grandeur and undying ambition of his clone. He had perceived her as the pinnacle of perfection. He WAS her. But suddenly, he never felt more imperfect. How could he ever measure up to a goddess? Alexandra was amazing. He had shown him how to better use his own psionic abilities. They had developed a nigh unbreakable telepathic rapport that unified them as nearly a single entity.

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His mood soured as he descended into a sulk. But she was too good. Now she was dating his best friend. Two beautiful people, it was only natural they would fall in together. The young Quentin couldn't help but feel jealous. He had been close to Victor for years, and if he was completely honest, he was Jean's ideal man. His best friend and his clone, sequestered away from him, enthralled with each other. And he was alone. If only. Strong emotions would occasionally force the psychic connection between Jean and Xandra, giving him a window into her mind. He was never alone, just avoided. His lips curled into a fanged snarl. He was entitled to more than this.

The lights shown from the disco ball at the centre of the dance floor, hazed in a cloud of smoke. Crowds of brightly dressed bodies thrashed together. The brilliant colours were aggregated by the dancers tripping on LSD, the rest were intoxicated on lies about "free love." Jean's blue eyes twinkled with iridescent radiance in the spectrum of luminescence that showered around him. Those azure eyes scanned the mass of mortals like a predator stalking unaware prey. He sipped gingerly at his gin, slouching against the counter. There were people from the university there, wasting away their weekend with sex and drugs and students were oft to do throughout the generations. Others, strangers were among the throng as well, civilians hoping to capitalize on the liberalized, idealistic youths. Clubs were always hunting grounds of one sort or another. Vampires were still an unexpected danger. That was his advantage as Jean hid in plain sight waiting for the right person to single out from the herd.

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It was then he saw her, an unseemly brunette with a girl-next-door appeal desperately trying to glean off her girl friends' social aptitude to get lucky with one in the group of horny lads. She floundered desperately with forced laughter as her charms were dwarfed by the glamorous femmes around her. Pathetic. Perfect. The edge of his mouth curled up slightly as he stood to his feet, thoughts running about his mind about how good her death would taste and how little she would be missed within her vapid circle.

But then she saw him too. The world seemed to slow as she felt the gaze of the psionic socialite. A coldness gripped her, and Jean could see the colour drain from her face. Her almond eyes widened, lips parting with a tremble. The vampire's brow furrowed. It was like she was looking through him, could see his every sinister intent. They stared at each other across the room for what felt like forever, the strange tension growing ever denser. She knew him. Somehow. This made her dangerous. She was more than a mere feed now. She was a threat. She could sense the danger.

The girl bolted off without a word to her companions. Her legs carried her like a gazelle eluding a lion from the pomp of the club into the cool darkness of the night. Breaking out from a side door she panted, putting her heels from her soles before running onward, the soft sound of padded footfalls carrying her across the dingy asphalt. She stopped in an alleyway to catch her breath, bracing her petite frame against a brick wall. A hand clutched her palpitating heart. She was uncertain what she felt in that place, but it was evil. It was hungry.

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And it was not so easily escaped. The agile form of the hunter alighted before her, eyes gleaming red, fangs protruding. He swooped in to grab her as she felt herself grow faint with fear. His hot breath caressing her exposed throat, a tear ran from her eye as she whimpered. "Please... d-don't." Her cries for help ultimately in vain, her struggles useless against the superior predator, his sharp teeth penetrated her tender flesh. Saliva mingled with the warm, crimson flow pulsing through his lips. Jean's lids lowered as he savoured the metallic taste, the sanguinary life essence more potent to him than any alcohol. Her body fell limp as her very soul was absorbed into him, sustaining his immortal coil.

But then it happened. She released the monster's greatest enemy. It felt like a tsunami of sensation hit him all at once. He experienced all her emotions. His body quivered with fear, a terror of death and inevitability he had never had before. Vulnerability, fragility, it shook him to the core, froze him to the bone. There was even a reflection of how she had seen him, the heartless, selfish villain bent on slaughtering her like a sacrificial lamb. She was so meek, nearly pure. So much potential had been ripped from her young being. As her life slipped away, he felt the passing, the cold emptiness of a spirit departing a lifeless corpse. There was a void, a vacancy that ached like nothing ever felt before. "What have I done?" His chest heaved with a sob as he pulled her in sorrowfully. Her face was eternally imprinted with the anguish of her death, and even so, it was branded upon his mind, what he felt never leaving his battered psyche. This empathic Messiah had given her life to redeem a sinner. He would never be the same again. He couldn't.

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Now: 2015, NYC

The PsyKnight stood before the illuminated screen, each state lighting up blue or red as the votes for each were tallied. Cheers were heard throughout the campaign headquarters at each victory. Jean himself tried to contain his own emotions, a finger resting thoughtfully upon his chin, heart a flutter with excitement and nervousness. He was not one to count his eggs before they hatched. Alexander Donn was a formidable opponent, a worthy contender, and the race was close. But he had hope. His hand trembled with a weak smile, quiet amongst the rambunctious joviality.

Then the final call: "The next president of the United States of America is... Jean Quentin!"

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The room erupted into triumphant exclamations and thunderous applause. His hands fell too his side, his sky blue eyes wide with astonishment. He had done it. He had become president, the most esteemed office of the land. Everyone clapped him on the back, hearty handshakes exchanged along with brilliant grins and warm hugs all around. Not far was his likeness, Dr. Steele. She rested a manicured hand upon his shoulder, drawing him in for an embrace. No word needed to be spoken between the two as their shared experience made it nearly redundant. But there was something different in Jean as he gazed into the familiar azure eyes. There was also the suspicion that Xandra would try to use this to her advantage. There was also a pride. He had become something more than her. He would not let her corrupt this office. Nor his father. Though he was in the prime position to be their political puppet, the White Knight knew their game. His own power was often taken for granted amongst his family. This was his day.

Reporters bustled in through opened doors, eager to capture the response of the president after his election. Jean straightened his suit before ascending to the podium to address his crowd of supporters and the media. His sky blue eyes raised, glimmering with an opalescent brilliance in the flashing lights. His lips spread into that charming grin, unmarred by the effects of his aged experience. The doctor cleared his throat.

"I would like this day to be marked not as the day of my own political victory but as a moment of triumph for those who believe in a unified America, a world community that thrives by the combined efforts of each of its citizens. It is my intention as president to be a facilitator in the joining of hands and hearts of the people to achieve something greater than I as one man can accomplish. Even as I was elected by the votes of many, so must the people be responsible for the progress and direction of his great nation. This presidency will be marked by partnership and teamwork, a reflection of the world better for everyone, unified, accepting, and strong. There will be adversity, there will be setbacks, but I believe together, we the American people can overcome any obstacle to become a beacon of hope, bringing light to a darkening world. I thank everyone who helped to make this campaign a success, and I thank you the voters for trusting me with this auspicious office. I promise to do my part to be open to your concerns and bring the change you wish to see to this country. Thank you for this honour to serve. May America prosper."

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Political Chess: Enter the White Knight

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Jean stared pensively through the window of his New York flat. His manicured fingers swirled a glass of white wine absent-mindedly as he scanned the horizon. The Psionic Saint sound have been happy. His clone, The Psyentist was back on Earth, and very little made him feel quite as whole. But she wasn’t here for fraternization. With the telepathic link they shared, a word need not ever have been uttered had it been wished. He almost wished…

“You really should consider it, Jean.” The Vampiric Vixen was draped elegantly over his couch, sipping on her own glass of white wine. Her icy eyes trailed over to where her clone stood quietly. Her platinum lips parted with a sigh as she felt his anxiety. “I don’t see what you are so worried about, darling. You’re the American people’s dream. Rich, handsome, powerful. All that mischief of your youth has been dealt with long ago. It’s not a concern anymore.”

Dr. Quentin scoffed before turning to face the psychiatrist. Kurt knew. He found out. He tortured me, Alexandra. And he was just one police commissioner with a bone. Imagine a whole team of journalists paid handsomely by my opponents.” His stomach turned, the glass drifting from his hand via a telekinetic command to rest upon a side table. “And you speak about it as if it’s only the past, as if it was someone else’s life. As if I’m not always a breath away from killing someone and draining them dry.” His hand shook, and the White Knight balled it into a tight fist, his sky blue gaze descended to rest upon the floor in despondency.

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The Mistress of the Mind looked up at him, silver lips pursed. “No one is more cautious or careful than you, Jean. You could get away with murder. Telepathy is a get-out-of-jail-free card. That’s not even to mention our family’s money and influence at your disposal.”

There it was. Ever the temptation of falling into devious methodologies. All the good he could accomplish as a leader of the free world, of what moral importance would be the means? He shook his head, his fingers raising to brush through his silken blonde hair. Sometimes he felt as though he had no power over himself, that these corrupted relatives were the ones of real influence, using his pristine persona to their advantage. Would he be more than their front? Would he himself be compromised for the sake of the greater good? There was only one way to find out.

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The cameras, the flashes, the roaring crowd, nothing the White Knight was completely unaccustomed to. His supporters were all here. The telepath was even aware of the presence of his dissidents. There were the anti-mutants, the homophobes, the xenophobes, anti-capitalist raging against the elite one percent. There was even a small band of religious extremists spouting vitriol about how he was the blood-thirsty Anti-Christ incarnate. The divisiveness twisted the Psionic Saint’s mind into nots. What was he doing? This sort of stress was likely to make him snap. With all his meditation and mental training, he could feel the pang of anxiety growing in his chest like a winter frost. He needed a drink. NO. Ugh. What inept bastards had he hired to hang the banner so lopsided? Whilst his pristine face smiled and his manicured hand waved at the varied assembly, Dr. Quentin was telekinetically adjusting the stage design. Straightening his meticulously crafted bespoke suit, the PsyKnight approached the podium.

“I’ve had the privilege of living in this great nation for decades. I have seen the world falter and fall while America continues, fighting through adversity. It is easy to lose hope when the world seems to be crumbling around. Our own path has been a difficult one, our leaders far from perfect. But it is in our nature to endure and improve, to evolve. I’ve seen first hand the stigmatization brought by tradition, by the spectres of the past. I’ve also seen the future in the progress achieved for human and mutant rights. I believe in the United States and its diverse citizens. I believe together, we can make this country a shining light to the world, the beacon of liberty and justice it has always sought to be.”

Jean looked down. He had everything going against him. He wasn’t a working-class man. He was white, affluent, European. He was a mutant, non-heterosexual, areligious. Even though he was a citizen involved in mutant and metahuman rights, he had minimal executive experience. But perhaps the country wanted someone less likely, someone to bridge the divide between various sects of American society. He was what he was. He would do all he could.

The silence was palpable, even the angry mob waiting for what the doctor would say next. The son of Q cleared his throat, his sky blue eyes scanning the crowd with a sympathetic warmth. “Apart from the lies, the rumours, there are a few things you should know about me. I’m Jean Quentin. I'm a mutant. I’m an American citizen. And I’m running for President of the United States. Thank you.”

He nodded with a charismatic grin and descended form the stage, avoiding the flurry of questions hurled at him by ravenous reporters, fans, and opponents. Best to let his words fester for a bit, let the pieces fall where they may. There was no going back from this. There was only the campaign trail forward.

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Clash of Knights: Jean Quentin and Kurt Pendragon

Two days ago – Gothic City, Kurt's Headquarters

Source Particles. Anthony Stark's last gift to the Emerald Archer in return for his participation within the now defunct Blacklist. The particles were capable of almost any task given the correct programming, the miniature nanites once used to disable Amaranth's intangibility. They were often used by the Gothic Knight to store his arrows within a quiver at a mere 1/100th of their original size. Now they would be used to disrupt one of the globe’s least likely killer’s nervous system and bypass his immune system, rendering him unconscious.

Programming the nanites wasn’t a difficult task, no, the real task would be delivering the infection into the man's system. That man, being Jean Pierre Quentin, otherwise known as... the PsyKnight.

Present Day -- COP Training Facility

The rhythmic thudding of arrows smashing into concrete echoed through the training facility. Jean stood within the same room elsewhere, training his own telekinetic arts. Kurt appeared to be fulfilling some vendetta against multiple tennis balls, plastering the wall with the art of his precision. Each arrow was coated with the intoxicating nanites capable of hopefully disrupting his teammates central nervous system and bypassing his immune system, infecting his body with a virus which could cause short-term paralysis and unconsciousness.

Kurt had caught wind through word of mouth that Jean, the White Knight, was actually one of the globe’s worst murderers, historically preying on unsuspecting... And even suspecting victims in the most dastardly ways. Wanting to know the truth for himself and understand why Jean had committed such crimes, and if the reports were true, Kurt had constructed the arrows, laced with the pre-programmed Source Particles, and just by chance, or perhaps careful planning, the Emerald Archer and Dr. Quentin were scheduled to be in the very same room, at the very same time. In a flash, the Emerald Knight spun around, aiming his bow towards the doctor… and fired.

Clad in white Under Armour, the PsyKnight was calmly practicing his refined telekinesis, lifting and dissecting a weight at the molecular level. His eyes were closed as he tried to sense the object in much the same way his young niece did. It didn't have quite the same potency or sensation as he had desired. Jean was suddenly aware of an out of place hissing sound and then a terrible pain. An arrow had imbedded itself into a nonfatal region of his chest through his back, between two ribs. Such an expert shot with an arrow could only mean one person. He made an effort to extract the arrow to allow his healing factor to resume it's construction before turning to shoot a questioning gaze toward the Emerald Archer. The White Knight's body spasmed as his blood continued to run. He pressed his hand to the wound. Something… inside… stopping. He groaned, his vision began going spotty, as what he could only assume was something akin to the nanites that had once disabled his dear clone. What was happening? He took a step forward, feeling his own mortality before his icy blue eyes rolled back behind flawless lids, and the White Knight fell to the ground.

Later – Undisclosed Location

The altruistic White Knight slowly awoke from his forced sleep to find both arms strapped down to a surgical table via adamantium bonds and a blood-stained bandage draped across of his chest. With only his head able to move, his azure eyes could see Kurt standing over him like a mad scientist. Only Kurt wasn't that; he was extracting information from a man he had never assumed capable of committing such crimes.

Kurt had patched Jean up, not wanting for the vampire to bleed out before the healing aspects of his abilities returned. The Emerald Archer was clad in his usual green attire with his hood down, bow upon a table, and bright lights illuminating the area casting sinister shadows across his darkened face.

"Hello, Jean." The calm, mysterious words of the Pendragon were quite sinister, given the situation. "I'm sorry we've had to meet under such... Unfortunate circumstances, but I couldn't take any risks..." Approaching the man slowly, the Gothic Knight withdrew a piece of paper from his pocket, a photo, a photo of a victim which Jean had once slaughtered. Or at least, so Kurt had been told. "Rowan Cooper," the photo was shoved in Jean's face. "Ring any bells?"

Jean groaned, his eyes flickering open only to squint in the sudden light. As he tried to move he was aware of both the continued sharp pain and the bounds that held him. Blue eyes darted around quickly not at the least down at his covered wound. He felt weak and disoriented. A voice drew his attention, a noise of tinnitis ringing in his ears as he tried to make use of his psionic abilities. "K… Mr. Pendragon? What's the meaning of this? I…" his sky blue gaze fell upon the image. "Rowan?" The image was familiar, the name… not so much. He turned his face away in disgust before fixing a cold stare upon the Emerald Archer. "I can't say I'm familiar with the name. Should I be?" It was a half truth at least.

He watched as Jean struggled, assuming the man was trying to make use of his abilities. He gave the vampire a cold, callous stare. Leaning in and looking towards the man, his eyes stern, he spoke. "Running through your veins is a special concoction. A synthetic nano-virus which adapts to your immune system responses. Granted, your clearly going to fight it off eventually, but I have about..." peeling back a green sleeve, he manifested a digital watch, a 15 minute timer started ticking down, "...15 minutes to extract this information. As each minute passes, Jean, my tolerance gets lower and lower. My morals get less and less." Turning around and manifesting a little knife, he spun it within his fingers, glancing back down to Jean.

"I'm going to ask again, Mr Quentin. Do you recognize Rowan in the image?" Opting to keep the talk about murder down, he didn't want the man to fabricate fake memories just to escape whatever the hero had planned. In truth Kurt wasn't planning to torture Jean... but the White Knight didn't know that. "14 minutes..." He made a click with his tongue, the blade slowly turning red as though it was being superheated.

The doctor's jaw tightened. "This is unethical, Kurt. I thought you were a hero. Has Gothic City worn so much on your soul? Have I not been a reasonable member of the Champions of Peace? What is the purpose of these threats?" His chest heaved with heavy breaths of irritation at having his past drudged up, his history shoved back into his face like an owner displeased with his dog's conduct. "Yes. I recognize the face. What of it? I'm guessing you have some terrible story concerning him, that I am involved? But you don't have the evidence against me, or you'd have given me to the police or at least informed my employers. You have to settle for torture and coercion?" The surgeon kept placing his analytic attention upon the Gothic Knight.

Once upon a time Jean's words would have hit Kurt in the heart. The doctor had analyzed the hero correctly, and Gothic City had indeed infected his morals, his conduct, his way of working. He used to adhere to a "No-Kill" policy -- He'd killed 5 people just this week. He used to hang around with only heroes -- He was sleeping with a Crime Lord. He used to abstain from torture and even beating criminals beyond anything reasonable -- He had drugged and threatened Jean. This wasn't a Gothic Knight restricted by his past morals and ethics, this was a Gothic Knight ready to use whatever means needed to solve crime. He had always detested Dark Vengeance’s tactics of fear. But sometimes… sometimes fear worked. It was a harsh truth.

"I patched your chest up because you're a Champion. Had this been anyone else, Jean, we wouldn't be having this little conversation." Returning to the man's side, the archer placed the knife to Jean's throat, clicking his tongue again as another minute passed, he glared. "I don't have a story, Jean. YOU have a story. A story, which you're going to tell me." The knife vanished as Kurt pulled up a metal chair and sat down, resting his elbows on his knees. "You recognize the face. I want to know more…" he raised the watch, "clock’s ticking.

Jean gave a wry laugh as the knife was placed to his throat. "You aren't going to kill me, Kurt. I have put myself in the face of death several times for the good of human and mutantkind. After your fifteen minutes are up, it was admitted by you, my abilities are likely to return. I could wait it out. I am a man of patience. It is something I've cultivated for decades." His lids lowered, a melancholy expression flooding into his countenance. "I can't have my past coming out, Kurt. I've done terrible things, but I can do so much more now. I can save more than I…" he swallowed, his teeth grinding in anguish, "than I've killed."

"Powers or no powers, Jean, you aren't leaving." Resolute, powerful words escaped the archer’s once fickle, rash lips. He had all the time in the world, in his mind, five minutes was enough to crack most drug lords. 15 against Jean? A lifetime. "Ah..." His curiosity was piqued, rubbing his palms together, curious to know why the White Knight suddenly looked much more... tormented. "What is your past? Are you a killer, Jean?" He leaned in, an arrow manifested within his palm, teasing the base of Jean's neck. "You know I kill murderers, don't you?" He glared, looking the man in the eyes. "How many people have you killed? How many innocents have you slaughtered?" The arrow was shoved up slightly, drawing a little blood. "Why should you live and so many other killers die? What makes you special, Jean? What makes you worthy enough to escape justice? You don't deserve mercy, not after all I've heard." He backed off, the arrow vanishing as his arms were folded. "Murder is timeless. Killing innocents is unforgivable. I may be unethical Jean, but how do you think Rowan felt, how do you think your other victims felt? Did you give them quarter?" He cackled. "You're not a hero, you're a misguided murderer, trying to pay penance for his crimes. But you haven't even suffered, living this life of fantasty... You act like you're faultless, the "White Knight." He spat the words out.

Jean pulled his throat as far from the blade as he could, knowing the effort would ultimately be futile his present conditions. Pale blue eyes looked away from Pendragon's gaze, his lungs tightening. He didn't know the number. How could he? To the person he had been, their deaths were inconsequential. It would be like asking how many times one watched a favourite film. He could attest to a large number, but beyond that… he couldn't say with certainty. And he wasn't about to give Kurt the sick pleasure of that knowledge. The doctor hissed at the slice on his skin, the scent of his own blood threatening to drive his nature into fantasies of passionate revenge. The son of Q hung his head, his eyes stinging with impending tears. "I… I don't claim to be faultless." His lids clamped shut. "But at least I try to be better than what I am rather than settling for the satiation of my bloodlust." Steeling his resolve, he looked back up into Kurt's eyes. "I'm a vampire, Kurt. Killing is in my nature. Maybe I deserve to die… by your standards at least. But a life is a life regardless of presumed innocence or guilt. Killing a murderer will not bring back the dead, and vengeance is pursued in vain."

"You're right," the archer admitted, backing away from the White Knight. He picked up a knife from a table and, leaning back over Jean, he placed the knife to his own forearm, slicing through the skin, crimson liquid slowly leaking out. "I can't let you go without knowing you won't kill again, Jean, not after knowing all you've done." The bloodied knife was placed up to Jean's nose and teased his senses. Kurt's blood was flawless, blood from a perfect human specimen, ripe with whatever vampires craved. "Can you resist your blood-lust, White Knight, are you sure...?" Removing the knife, Kurt cut his arm open a little more, blood spilling out upon the doctor's chest. Kurt pressed his bleeding forearm up to the man's nose, leaning in and whispering into his ear with a sadistic grin. "Thirsty?"

His blue eyes widened as Kurt cut his own arm. Jean strained against his bonds. "K-Kurt… w-what are you doing?" He swallowed. As the knife was placed before him, shining red in the light, his nostrils flared with a breath, the iron smell pouring into his nose. Jean tugged his face away, his canines protruding as he clenched his jaw. Blood spilled in passion whether sensual or violent was always the sweetest. His moist tongue flicked over parched lips as he groaned. He felt drops of blood trickling down his bare chest, saturating the bandage wrapped about him with the Emerald Archer's unique scent. He couldn't help but breathe in deeply as the aromatic bouquet was placed directly under his nose, the lively heat radiating to his face. The sadistic offering was nearly more than he could bare, he turned his head to brush against Kurt's cheek with his own after his whisper, a hot breath brushing over Pendragon's skin. With a fanged grin, the vampire echoed his own whisper. "Y-yes…" His tongue lashed out to impart a lick onto Kurt's flesh.

The Emerald Archer’s lips curled into a knowing smirk, enjoying the sight of such an intoxicated Jean, and feeling a strange sense of amusement as the White Knight sultrily brushed his cheek against his own, his warm breath teasing Kurt's cheeks. Keeping a firm gaze down towards Mr Quentin, Kurt's olive eyes examined the man's fangs. He didn't pull away; he didn't punch Jean in the face for punishment. No, instead, the Verdant Knight softly coiled his palm around the man's neck, brushing his bloodied forearm across of Jean's bare chest, unwavering as his cheek was licked by the vampire.

"It tastes so good, doesn't it?" Leaning back out a little as he removed his palm from the man's throat, he folded them across his own chest, grinning down at the White Knight. "The sight and smell of blood excites you, doesn't it, Jean? My blood." Sighing, the Pendragon looked away, and then back at Jean with an immoral stare, raising an eyebrow. "You want to drink, to indulge your desires, your hunger... don't you?" Lowering himself back to Jean's level, he trailed a finger down the vampire’s bloodied chest, and back up again. "After all, isn't this what you were born to do?" The archer’s eyes glazed over, a crimson tint imbued within his pupils.

Jean gasped, his mouth gaping at the hand pressed into his throat, his red eyes widening. His lips tightened over his elongated teeth as he was released from the sudden grip. The psionic vampire stared unwaveringly at Kurt, his gaze caught as if by an inexplicable magnetism. He lurched forward, straining at the adamantium bonds that kept him fast, his tongue running over his eager lips. The doctor's eyes fluttered as the archer's finger trailed in the blood upon his flawless skin. Long fingers reached, his red irises blazing with a carnal hunger. He panted. "I… want… you…"

"Ooohhh, Jean. You really can't resist me, can you?" Smirking with that same wicked gleam in his eyes, the Pendragon slowly removed his green hoodie, peeling it away upwards as his scarred, yet toned torso was visible to the hungry, lusting vampire. "If you really want it…" he said, gazing down towards the intoxicated White Knight, "come get it." Unbuckling a single adamantium strap and backing off, a knife was manifested again, cutting a single, painful line down his own chest, raising the bloodied blade once more and pointing it towards Jean. "Give in, come take me --- sate your hunger, Jean. DO IT." The archer’s eyes glared with sadism. He needed Jean to do this; he needed Jean to try. He needed the excuse. The aromatic fragrance of ripe, fresh blood lingered in the air as the fifteen minutes were up: Jean was empowered once again.

Vibrant vermillion eyes leered. No, this was wrong. This wasn't him. Not anymore. He shook his head. Why was Kurt doing this? He was looking for a reason to… he growled as Kurt sliced through a superficial layer of skin, blood beading in the green blade's wake. His mind began to buzz with thoughts all swirling at once as his powers slowly were returned. The remaining adamantium cuffs trembled, the locks picking themselves open. Jean flew forward to grip the Emerald Archer's throat in his left hand, his face centimeters from his own. His right sought to place itself over the newly formed wound. "Kurt…" He hissed through his fangs.

"Jean…" Kurt nudged closer, feeding into the man's carnal yearning, pressing his chest into the man's soft palm. "Show me you're more than this, prove it." Slowly turning his head to the side, trying to force through the grip and place his throat next to the man's fangs in a bold, daring move. "Come on... Jean, don't force my hand." Kurt placed his hand behind Jean's neck, pressing his own in closer to the man, tempting fate... tempting those famished teeth. "I’d taste so good, wouldn’t I?" His eyes flared, the veins in his neck pulsing.

Jean’s hand trembled even as he gripped Pendragon's throat, his sharp canines protruding toward his skin to tease the salty flesh. He pressed his body in closer, his lips curling to kiss the hero's neck. Even before Kurt spoke, his wayward hand was seeking to undo the damage upon Kurt's chest, attempting to suture the wound together with his mind. His nose nuzzled Kurt's jaw softly. "Kurt…" He released his grasp around his throat to lean in close to the commissioner's ear. "I am not your enemy. Cruelty does not suit you. Please… don't tempt me with forbidden fruit." The bloodied White Knight pulled himself away, turning abruptly, a hand covering a pained face. He slumped down onto his knees. "You would exploit my agony for an end, not trusting the man who has proven himself for years. Why? Morbid curiosity, Kurt? Does it amuse you to see a grown man torn to pieces by his own lusts?"

The Emerald Archer watched his teammate drop to the ground, pained eyes gazing upward, straining to hold back his lusts, his desires, his inner yearning. The White Knight had nearly caved into his lusts, given into his monstrous hunger. Yet at the same time, he had refused such forbidden fruit. Kurt was overly forceful, perhaps, pressuring the man into a place which was only cruel and nothing else. Raising his hands, the archer should have manifested his bow, aimed an arrow down to the man's head, and fired it straight into his cranium, as was his objective, his usual mode of operations. Jean didn't deserve mercy for his crimes, regardless of how historic they were. "I should kill you, Jean."

But instead, Kurt placed a single palm atop of the man's head, looking down upon him. "But I can't. I... won't. You've changed, you resisted, barely, but you did..." Lowering his stature and kneeling in front of the man, he placed a finger under Jean's chin, raising his eyes up, staring into them. "...And I respect that and believe you won't ever succumb to your desires again. I won't tell anyone about today… or your past." Looking to the haggard individual, Kurt went to place his forehead upon Jean's consolingly.

Jean gazed into Kurt's emerald eyes with unyielding sorrow as the single finger drew his downcast face upward. Even as his forehead was placed to his own, the doctor's lips parted with a ragged inhalation of air. "Kurt. Your sadistic projection betrays you. You battle your own lust and addiction. I can see it in your eyes, feel it deep within your core. Whilst you seek to bring me to justice, your own moral fabric is unraveling. I have spent years battling what I was forced to see one fateful night. You… you are still blinded by your own intoxication." His brows furrowed.

The White Knight’s words sent a mixed tempest of thoughts circling through the Pendragon’s already troubled mind. Addictions. Lust. Misguided or simply lost morals. What was the Son of Q possibly speaking about, what was he… sensing? With a sigh, the Emerald Archer placed a single palm upon the man’s chest, gently pushing him back and breaking the close proximity of their faces with a little smile, veiling his innermost troubles. “Jean…” He sighed, he didn’t know what he was feeling or why he had enjoyed tormenting this man or even still, why had he enjoyed the man’s touch? So many thoughts, misplaced thoughts: why was he even second guessing his own sexuality midst torturing this historic yet reformed killer? “I… I don’t know what you mean…” Yet in his mind, in his heart, he knew his real lust, his real addiction, was Sangria. He couldn't have killed the White Knight even if he’d wanted to, because that would have been the ultimate act of hypocrisy. The Guardian of Gothic, a police Commissioner, proclaimed leader of and socially respected member of the MVP’s, and team trainer for the Champions of Peace… had kidnapped one of his own teammates and sadistically tormented his inner demons. Kurt wasn't the heroic entity he once was. He wasn't the moral, and altruistic Paragon of the past. He was a former shadow of his gallant, superhuman self. Maybe on the outside, to others, the lowly Pendragon looked far more bold, daring, and even mentally resolute than ever before. But inside, he knew it was all a veil to hide his self-loathing.

As much as this was a way for Kurt to obtain information on Jean Quentin, it had been a personal discovery of morality, ethics, and altruism. “I’ve got demons, Jean.” The archer admitted, his breathing grew jaded, and his bold demeanor grew slightly worn, as though his facade of excellence was wearing thin. “I shouldn't have tempted you the way I did… I… I’ve done bad things… do bad things…” Sangria, murder, drugs, allowing criminals to go unpunished if they promised to provide him information, or even just turning a blind eye when a case wasn't worth investigating. He had once promised to bring Gothic City peace and end corruption. But what type of legitimate Commissioner could call himself righteous when he had fallen for a crime lord, for a drug-lord! This woman he knew was manipulating him down to his very core. Deep down, he knew no matter the time nor effect put into rationalizing their relationship… he could never escape Janus’ clutches. He couldn't risk being alone anymore. He needed someone, and that someone, for now, was his redheaded Mistress.

“I won’t hunt you, I won’t kill you, I won’t do anything. You've proven you’re a g… good man. I do the things nobody else is willing to do, Jean. I once abhorred using fear and violence to provide justice… but I’ve grown jaded, White Knight. I don’t have the energy to inspire hope and confidence into a city anymore, not when I can’t even uphold my own morals.” It was a true self admittance, but it didn’t hold, wouldn't hold, these were words and his actions were destined to stay the same, at least for now. “I couldn't let you walk free without tempting you to the brink of torture, now leave...” A single emerald tear festered within troubled eyes, turning away from his… friend? “please.” His voice cracked.

The intimate proximity was broken by the Emerald Archer. Jean could feel the man raising a wall of protection. The White Knight could not stoop to the same levels of cruelty that Kurt employed, not against someone so desperately in need of redemption. What evil had infected the hero to rot him to the core but leave him still the image of righteousness? It was like something was using the Pendragon Paragon as a mask. What voice motivated his actions? Dr. Quentin stood to his feet seeking to raise the Gothic Knight up with him with gentle hands. His brows furrowed over deep, thoughtful blue eyes as Kurt turned away and begged him to leave. The vampire could take the information he wanted without the fifteen minute timer used against him, crack the wall set up before him with his psionic prowess, but such an endeavor could prove to fracture the true Kurt Pendragon that remained.

"Kurt." He reached out his fingers above Kurt's shoulder, not touching him, but merely allowing him to feel his presence. "I can help you." He winced as he became aware of something like a second mind, something far more complex within the room, coming between them. It was unlike anything he ever felt before. Had Eve fixed her will upon him? No, hypnosis was something else. This wasn't control in the conventional sense. This was a threatening presence. "I've been to Gothic City recently. As decadent as it is, between you and the Children of the Damned, you are keeping the lesser scum at bay. You are still a hero, but you could be so much more than what you have been reduced to. I know the forces you fight."

The Paragon clenched his eyes closed as his brow creased, holding back tears even against the longing sensation to cry. He hated crying, it made him feel weak. There had once been a time in his life where crying wasn’t foreign. Where he’d spent days and nights crying and hoping the pain would go away. He lived a thankless life, unrewarding, unrelenting, yet somehow midst his personal turmoil and lowest point... he had met Mistress Sangria. She made him feel special and appreciated in ways even his closest friends had never done. She rewarded him, she made him feel like somebody cared. Raising to his feet, the Gothic Knight felt the uncomfortable situation turn, the power was suddenly in Jean’s hands. He shook his head, closing his eyes and shutting everything out. “No, Jean. NO. Don’t meddle with my mind, don’t try to understand, I can’t go back to being alone…” He pushed back, fumbling until he hit the table and held the sides. “Just please, GO!” Pointing to the exit, the Emerald Archer spun around and leaned on the table, panting, his muscles tensing, his teeth clenched.

Jean looked down as Kurt turned hastily away. He sighed. "If this person is alienating you from the help of good, sympathetic people, she isn't a good woman. She's manipulating your emotions, isolating you to make you all the more vulnerable, susceptible to her ploys." He turned away stepping quietly toward the door. "You aren't alone, Kurt. Not anymore. I won't push you. But I'm here if you need me." A hand reached out to telekinetically unlatch and open the door to leave.

“T-Thank you,” Breathing heavily, the Pendragon didn’t look up, keeping a stern gaze down as his chest slowly healed, the blood from his forearm had dried, and he stared at it, wondering what monstrous feeling had coursed through his body to make him do something like this to Jean. This wasn’t the Kurt he had known. Who was he? He didn’t even know anymore. “Jean!” He turned around, gulping. “You’re a good man, whatever your past… I can see you’ve changed, I’m sorry for doing what I’ve done.” Looking back down, the Emerald archer considered many things. Most of all, Sangria.

Source: CVnU interaction between Pyrogram and Psyknight in the Champions of Peace Team HQ (page 13-22), 2014.

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A Knight's Call to Crusade

Jean shook his head bitterly, his sky blue eyes gazing out the taxi window on his way back from La Guardia. Even the perpetually youthful and idealistic Dr. Quentin was reduced to a hopeless melancholy and a tiredness that gripped what might have been a soul. The White Knight was exhausted. Boko Haram. ISIS. The refugee crisis. Even an immortal could only do so much in years of perpetual darkness, his allies falling away as fatigue tightened its hold hold and funding ran dry. One man could only do so much, especially one that was starving by vampiric standards. He had one more thing to do before he ended the night, one last stab to the darkness before he slept. But he needed to regain himself. No one could see him like this lest his cause be undermined.

He snuck like a pale shadow into his hotel room for the evening, the minifridge stacked to his specifications. The PsyKnight close the door, his back pressed against it with a pensive sigh. For every evil he stopped, there would always be the one inside him. The super powered surgeon stepped forward, withdrawing a number blood bags from the refrigerator. He tossed them into the bathroom and started the shower. Peeling his white suit from his sculpted frame, the vampiric mutant climbed into the warm water. He closed his icy eyes and let the heat wash over him. His heart pounded, his hunger continuing to gnaw at him, his body weak from deprivation. A hand broke through the stream, his telekinesis drawing the bags to his grasp. His lids broke open, his blue eyes changed to unmistakeable crimson. His lips rolled up to reveal his shape end canines as the pierced the plastic. The metallic taste poured into his mouth, red dripping down from the corners of his lips and mingling with the water dripping down his bare chest. Jean guzzled the stale life liquid, the medical grade stuff hardly as fulfilling as the flow from a pulsing body fallen limp in his arms. But as always, it would have to do. As he washed the blood from his flawless skin, the vampire knew that his exhaustion was not attributed to external conflict but to his own denial of his nature, a nature that stained him beyond what water could cleanse.

Camera flashes flared around him as he approached the podium at the UN for a special speech. Straightening and buttoning his white suit jacket, the blonde man nodded at the members of he press. Several voices called out from the crowd inquiring about his time abroad. In answer to the flurry of questions, he raised his hand to bring the din to silence. His voice echoed through the sound system to the listening ears of those present and those at home.

"I'm not here to answer questions or to bask in the success of our campaigns. I'm not here to be the man to save the world. I'm here to share a truth and to empower those of you who will be." His cerulean irises glimmered in the stage lights, the brightness emanating from his perfect porcelain skin. "I saw terrible things in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. I beheld cruelty and evil, the likes of which I hope never reach these shining shores. But more importantly, I saw goodness, I saw heroism. For every villain that arose, there was a bandage placed, a mouth fed, a hand held." He in breathed in deeply, his hands displaying the depth of his feelings. "It has brought me back to these United States, to this place that represents our global community to encourage the poor, the tired, the frustrated, those who feel they have nothing left to give and those who don't think it would make a difference anyway. I'm here today to tell you that each and everyone of you *does* make a difference. I saw it day and and day out. You may feel small or powerless, but even you can do something to help your neighbor, help our world."

His head raised, his brows furrowed with purpose. "But I'm not just here to talk to those of you who do good. I'm here for those who have had a rough past. For the villains, I extend my hand and encourage you that there is redemption. The path you may be going whether it is that of the self-sufficient killer or the criminal mastermind will only ever end in defeat. There will always be good to combat your maliciousness. And more fearfully, there will always be a greater evil that cares nothing for your goals. Our only hope as a people of various races and creeds is to join together to build a better world. Our efforts for own individual well-beings are like a flame in the wind, so easily snuffed out when the gale grows too strong. With each other, we can construct a life not just for the present, not just for ourselves, but for our children, our grandchildren, a place where our world is brought back from the brink of self-destruction. There is redemption for those who would seek it."

"I speak to all of you today, not as a lone hero but as one of you. Let us not grow weary in our efforts. Let us continue to stand and take ground. Our victory will be our future."

The mass of people erupted into cheers and applause. Jean's lips spread into a bittersweet smile that slowly grew into one genuine pleasure. Words were nothing to action. But if his words could speak to anyone, inspire even one hero to rise from complacency, perhaps it wasn't in vain. And perhaps he could find his own redemption that he preached someday.

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The Picture of Jean Quentin

The Picture of Jean Quentin: Bite of the Forbidden Fruit

"There are things in things in my life, in my past that I desperately wish I could forget. There are only a few who know the depth of the depravity once embraced by the White Knight. But I wear them like scars on my psyche until such a day that my immortal life is cut short or the world ends. I can only hope to be a better man, to help others out of their own pits and into the light. But even in the light, the shadows always follow close behind."

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The first portrait of the young Jean was rather unimpressive. A beautiful baby to be sure, but nothing rather extraordinary looking. It was just after he was brought home from the Switzerland YOUgenics lab, an infantile image of perfection with his sparkling blue eyes. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the picture was the void within those dazzling orbs. They were pools of untapped potential and unvarnished neutrality. The pale azure held no clue as to his future as luxurious or tumultuous as it might become.

The second painting was at age thirteen. Young adolescence. The time of burgeoning sexuality as the body begins its awkward metamorphosis from endearing child to capable adult. Jean never had an awkward stage, ascending effortlessly into attractive young adulthood having been bred specifically to be the best the human race could contrive through synthetic means. The face in the picture was smooth and hairless yet, but the eyes already gained a keen glimmer of intelligence and superficial understanding of the world around them.

It was in that year, his growth started in less visible ways.

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Young Jean was home for the holidays with his parents and the household staff in France. The ever meddlesome Q was up to mischief. One night, there was a rap on Jean's door. "Entrez." His voice of a newly deepening tenor rang, his eyes still fixed on the book in his hand. Slowly, the icy blue looked up to see his father's familiar smirk. The boy stared blankly awaiting a reason for the interruption. He hoped it wasn't some gross elaboration on male reproductive motivations. He was quite certain every child had awkward sex education. But Q made it positively lewd and uncomfortable for cultured tastes. His lips pursed. The sly grin on the anachronistic face did not look promising.

"Jean. Jean." The man with the black and red hair clapped his hands together. "I have a surprise for you."

The prodigy gazed back down at the pages. "Is it a date with another of your bimbo suggestions? The scenario always tends to have a touch of paedophilia when an old man such as yourself does the picking. Why can't you just accept I would rather appreciate someone for their mind rather than body? More importantly that I might just not be interested at all. We aren't all you, father."

The red-eyed mutant clicked his tongue. "My boy…" He stepped over in his finely polished shoes to embrace his youth, prying the book from his hand. "It's time you became a man…"

"We've been over this, father…" The child sounded more like the adult.

"Oh, no, no, no, no. mon fils. This is quite different."

Jean sighed, standing to his feet. "Very well, father. Though I can't imagine you are up to anything civil at this late hour."

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The door cracked further open, and a young house maid stepped into the room. He sighed and looked up at his father. She flashed a sultry smile, twisting a lock of her red hair. Jacque grinned and stepped over to the petite woman to wrap an arm around her shoulders. "Jean, this is Cassandra. Do you know why I hired her?"

"Because you have a disturbing penchant for loose, lower class women?"

"Aw, that's no way to speak of such a lovely specimen." The time-manipulator kissed her fair cheek eliciting a giggle. "Cassandra here was hired under the guise of a maid to assist you."

"Oh, Dieu…" Jean rolled his eyes.

"Ah." Q raised a finger. "Jean Pierre, you have been bottle feeding for too long. You'll never really meet your full potential as my son with that stale blood coursing through your veins. It's time to appreciate a finer wine." Jean swallowed as his father continued. "I've informed Cassandra of your nature, and she is willing to be a host to your… more gruesome desires."

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The blonde's brows furrowed as he addressed the youth directly. "Cassandra, you cannot possible be okay with the thought of being so objectified to become a mere snack for a vampire."

"Ohhhh, I know, young master." The lovely girl responded. "But really, I think it would be exhilarating to be eaten. Your father has assured me I'll be safe from any permanent harm. I'm under contract. The pay is quite substantial." She unbuttoned her blouse to further reveal her luscious skin. "You can bite me anywhere you'd like." Cassandra bit down on her lip almost as an invitation.

Icy blue eyes lingered hungrily upon her neck; his words were nearly breathless. "Th-this is contrived and… and wrong. I can't…" He gulped.

The Q patriarch gave a small smile. "Shhhh. My boy, this is who you are. This is who she is. The master and the servant, the predator and prey. It's the natural order. Indulge, enjoy." He chuckled. "I'm not asking you to sleep with her, just… give her a taste." Jean's senses were so incidentally peaked by the sound of blood pulsing within her and inside his own ears to even fully be aware of his father's words or notice him slip from the room.

The young maid stepped toward him. "You'll be safe with me, little vampire. I can help you." She giggled, crawling onto his bed. "This will be way more fun than cleaning." Jean couldn't help but think she was the predator stalking toward an inexperienced boy half a decade her younger. Still, he felt almost entranced by the red of her hair and lips, the thumping of her eager heart, and the titillating fantasy of the taste of her warm blood. Something indeed was stirred within him. Something lustful, something vile. Her soft face brushed against his, her neck hanging tantalizingly before his open lips. Red eyes lingered on pale skin, lips were drawn into a fanged smile, the boy relinquishing to a darker part of himself unleashed by bloodshed.

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PsyKnight: In Pursuit of Perfection

Dr. Quentin stared in the mirror, his light blue eyes looking back into the atmospheric gaze of the white knight. Today was a time for change, a definition to be set between what had been previously and what would be.

PREVIOUSLY

TIMELESS Beauty and Betterment Centre; New York Branch

The door burst open with such force, the knob indented the wall behind. A fuming amphibious man stood within the arch, his black eyes resting on the figure sitting at the other end of the room.

"Q!" He stormed toward the ornate desk, both hands anchored on its wooden surface as his head lowered ominously.

The man sat calmly with a cool smile. His hair was jet black save for a red streak on each side. He was clothed in a finely tailored black suit and a silky scarlet tie. "Ah, my boy. What a surprise." He gave a laugh. "I jest, of course. Nothing is a surprise to me."

Scorn glared with a low growl, his lip curling to reveal his pointed incisors. "What right do you have to meddle in my life?!"

"God? Genetics? Pick one." Q's red eyes narrowed challengingly.

His rough likeness pointed a clawed finger at the Frenchman. "Don't pull that father bull**** with me, Q. You were never my father. So, why don't you... take your little manicured hands..." he wiggled his fingers in the air contemptuously, "OUT OF MY LIFE!" The black eyed man shouted before storming from the office.

Jean saw the hasty departure from his father's office and entered. "What have you done to ruin his life now, father?" The doctor folded his arms over his chest.

Q gave his best look of innocence which was clearly lacking. "I simply found him a client. A good, decent job."

"Like you would know anything about 'decent'." His blonde brows furrowed. "Must you keep attempting to reconcile your alienated family?"

"I am their father. Is that so wrong?"

"No, you... are a genetic donor." Jean pointed at the anachronism. "And you just want to have a hand in everything, make everyone in your own image."

"Well, it's a very attractive image." He stroked his beard with a sly smirk.

The doctor rolled his eyes. "I don't know how your children ended up so different than you, Q."

"Ah, but you're not so different." He raised a finger and began to explain. "Scorn inherited the most of my looks and my brazen disregard for the conventional law and greedy love of money. Alexandra has my narcissism, and for all the good she's done is really quite Machiavellian." The time-manipulating mutant stood from his chair, stepping over to his minibar and pouring himself a glass of gin. He took a small sip before continuing. "And you..." His red eyes turned to the psionic vampire. "I raised you. Do you really think I had no impact on your life?" He chuckled before resuming in his thick, French accent. "Oh, Jean. Jean! You act like such a prude, but you engage in the most shallow of professions. You make people outwardly good while the inside rots. Your work is stagnant, perfection your obsession. That's all your morality is-- a compulsion."

Dr. Quentin's eyes blazed, his muscles tightening as Q offered his burning critique. The white knight spat his last words in indignation. "I refuse to accept that." With a quick turn, he exited the room.

NOW

Jean rested both hands on the sink, his body arched over it, unaware he had left the water running. It sputtered and burbled as it flowed, a pristine stream of clear liquid guided by the ever-present force of gravity, spilling into the stainless, porcelain basin below. Everything according to it's nature. The doctor was lost in thought, recalling his own past following the forces that dictated his behaviour, always trying to meet perfection.

FIVE YEARS AGO

Another day in the life of fame. How tiresome it could be for him, always doing what his mother and father commanded. Everyday perfect hair, flawless skin, neatly pressed pants matched with a meticulously ironed shirt. He strode forward, guided by routine. He fit in among the models rushing to and from photoshoots. He could critique each one that flew by: nose job. Silicone. Liposuction. He even knew which doctor had preformed which procedures. He knew it well. The shallowness of the industry.

"Jean!" Angelique's call drew him from his quiet observation. He walked toward his supermodel mother, forever youthful with Botox and collagen lips. She kissed her beloved son on the cheek before drawing him in for the family photograph. The three smiled as the flashes commenced. The picture perfect family.

His father was no better than his mother, Q's obsession with stopping time to delay his inevitable aging. An ironic flaw for a master of time.

Jean's mouth ached after all the forced smiles. He retired back into his dressing room to wash his hands from the day. He scrubbed under the cool water and soapy spuds as if he could purge himself of a greater filth, the duplicity of his existence.

NOW

"Jean!" He was snapped from his trance again by his doting mother. "You left the water on, sweetheart. Unlike you to be so wasteful with resources." She smiled sweetly as she adjusted his blue tie. "Such a handsome man, my son." Her white eyes watched him. "Are you ready?"

The doctor nodded silently and made his way from the back room into the assembly area. He was greeted by the familiar flashing of cameras, the room full of the drone of reporters speaking into dictaphones. He reached his place at the podium, his blue eyes gazing down at the queue cards to guide him in his soliloquy. His eyes glowed blue, and the papers disintegrated with the telekinetic force. His gaze returned to normal and rested on the small crowd.

"Most of you know me... you know my family. You know my mutation. Some of you admire me for my activism for mutant rights. Some of you hate me for it. Some of you approve of my stated enforcement of the Registration Act. Some of you disapprove. I cannot change how you feel about me." He paused. "But I can change myself. I am quitting my job to better apply myself to my work to make the world a better place, however that may be." Jean nodded. "That is all." He promptly exited the chamber allowing the crowd to erupt into vain questions and murmuring.

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