Hurt & Comfort

Book 11: Creating Comfort

©2020 MultiMapper
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 23: The Autocorrect Adventures 'Peas of Mind'

"As much as I want to wait around for Peter's final answer, it looks like this could take some time and I'm really late for class. I'll check in with you later to see how you're doing and if you need anything." Andrew said quickly.

"Before you go, could you move the bookcases?" Slash hesitantly asked.

"Oh, yeah." Andrew said easily, then stepped out of the cloud of darkness enough so that he could see everything at once.

As the others also filed out, the full bookcases from Dawn's room disappeared, one by one, then reappeared in the open floor space of the 'Gingerbread House'.

There was no doubt that the bookcases were closer together than they had been in Dawn's room, being barely far enough apart for a person to walk between them.

"I didn't realize that they'd take up this much room." Andrew said hesitantly as he looked over his handiwork.

"Or block the light from the windows." Slash quietly added as he looked upward at each of the shelves nearly touching the ceiling.

//All of a sudden it feels a little too close for comfort in here. I think I may need to go outside for a little bit.// Jesus said honestly.

"It's really not that bad. Maybe we'll get used to it." Beau said uncertainly.

"You made the rat claustrophobic. Just take a minute to think about that." Slash said with a teasing smirk.

Beau fought down a smile as he rolled his eyes in response.

"Let me know when you need the cloud again. I don't think we need it with the bookcases in here." Slash said as he waved an arm to dispel the cloud.

"Yeah. Thanks." Beau said fondly.

"Does anyone need anything else from me before I go?" Andrew quickly asked.

"You're going to be back later, for the embodiment spell, aren't you?" Beau asked hopefully.

"Yeah. I wouldn't miss it." Andrew said with a smile, then with a glance at the side wall, two of the three portals closed, leaving only the MedLab portal still in existence.

Between one moment and the next, Andrew was gone.

* * * * *

"Oh, wow. It looks a lot different with the bookcases in here." Steve said quietly as he slithered through the portal with Lisa at his side.

"It looks like if it wasn't for Beau's candles, we'd barely be able to see anything." Lee said frankly as he followed them into the room.

"We may have to look into setting up a separate library. feel like these things are going to cave in on us any second." Slash said anxiously.

"I doubt that we'll be visiting here much after today. I think it'll be fine." Beau said seriously, then continued, "If you'd like, we can do the next spell outside."

//Oh God, yes.// Jesus said with relief.

"Count me in." Slash immediately added.

"I get it. You don't like the tight space." Beau said wearily.

"We're packed in here like sardines and there's not enough air for all of us to breathe at the same time." Lee said frankly.

"You're exaggerating that a little bit." Beau said with a reluctant smile.

"Not that much." Lee said frankly.

"Come on. If everyone will go outside, I can do my divine torch spell and then Lisa and Fallen can have their talk." Beau said firmly.

"Are you going to need the dark cloud for anything?" Slash asked curiously.

"I don't know yet. I think it will work just fine in direct sunlight, but if I'm wrong, I may need your cloud to make it possible for everyone to see each other." Beau said thoughtfully as he gathered a few seemingly random items into his arms.

"I'll be standing by." Slash said seriously.

"Steve, would you grab that brazier for me?" Beau asked as he gestured toward the workbench.

"What's that? You mean this hibachi?" Steve asked uncertainly.

"A brazier is a special tray used to hold hot coals." Beau carefully explained.

"So's a hibachi." Steve said as he picked up the piece of equipment.

//He's got you there.// Jesus said, apparently in much better spirits since he knew that they were going outside.

"Peter and Emily, please follow me. We're going outside, so stay close. It will be easy for you to get lost out there." Beau said as he opened the door.

* * * * *

//Seriously, we need to find someplace else for those books. I'm already dreading having to go back in there.// Jesus said sincerely.

"It's not like it's our clubhouse or anything. After today, you'll probably never have a reason to go back in there again." Beau said frankly as he walked into the wide-open area directly in front of the cabin.

//Good.// Jesus said simply, conveying his honest thoughts on recent developments.

"Is there anything you need for us to do?" Lisa asked uncertainly.

"If you'll just stand right there for a minute, I'll start my spellcasting." Beau said simply.

"You're going to cast a spell on me?" Lisa slowly asked, clearly conveying her displeasure with the idea.

"No. I thought Lee and Steve would have told you. I'm going to cast a spell to make it easier for you to see Fallen. He wants to be sure that the two of you both want this before I do anything more." Beau said honestly.

"So, what are you going to do?" Lisa asked cautiously.

"I'm just going to create a magical torch that illuminates spiritual entities." Beau said simply.

"Oh. I guess that's okay." Lisa said uncertainly, then cautiously asked, "What did you want me to do?"

"Just stand there for a few minutes. I'll do the rest." Beau assured her as he positioned the brazier very precisely.

"Okay." Lisa reluctantly agreed, then watched carefully to try and get some sense of what Beau was doing.

After making sure that everything was to his liking, Beau looked around to see where everyone was standing before looking back to the brazier.

With just a glance from him, the charcoal within the brazier burst into flame.

"I'll have to remember not to piss you off." Steve said as he stared at the subtle show of power.

"Vermillion." Beau said as he opened a pouch, then threw a pinch of red powder into the fire.

Nothing seemed to happen, although everyone present was braced for whatever was to come.

"Ochre." Beau stated firmly as he repeated the same steps, this time throwing dark yellow powder.

//Do you have to name each thing as you put it in, or are you doing that for us?// Jesus asked curiously.

"I'm kind of in the habit of doing it aloud so that Mrs. Durtnal could keep track of what I was doing." Beau said seriously.

//Just so you know, we don't have a clue about any of this. We'll be just as impressed whether you tell us what you're throwing on the hibachi or not.// Jesus said frankly.

"Yeah. It'll probably be faster if I skip the ingredient list and just do the spell." Beau said as he seemed to pick up the pace of what he was doing, adding pinches and dabs of things to the growing flames.

//I really wasn't complaining. I just don't have a lot of patience for pointless things.// Jesus explained.

"Sorting out what's pointless and what isn't in all of this might be a pretty big job." Beau said honestly.

//Maybe. But it might be worth it, too. I'm actually interested to know which things are requirements and which ones are fluff. It's fun to speculate about why things are the way that they ended up.// Jesus said frankly.

"Excuse me." Beau said to Jesus, then took a long slender stick out of his back pocket and made a complicated gesture with it.

"No way! Seriously? You've really got a wand?" Steve asked happily.

"Yeah. I need it for certain spells." Beau said shyly.

"That is so cool! I thought all that stuff was made up. I didn't think you'd really have one." Steve said delightedly.

"We can talk more about it later. I need to do this now." Beau said urgently.

"Oh, yeah. Go ahead." Steve said happily.

Beau used the wand to make complicated gestures in the air around him.

While nothing 'supernatural' seemed to be happening, no one could deny the skill that Beau was demonstrating with his precise movements.

"I can feel the magic building." Lisa said quietly.

//I don't know what I'm feeling, but whatever it is, it sure is ramping up.// Jesus announced.

"Jesus, why don't you come up here with me? If we need to bug out suddenly, I don't want to have to guess at where you are." Lee cautiously asked.

//I'll get on your shoulder, if that's okay. I don't like being cradled like a baby.// Jesus asked hopefully.

"Yeah. That's fine. Do you need some help up?" Lee asked, but before the words were fully out of his mouth, Jesus gracefully leapt Lee's full height and gently came to rest on Lee's shoulder.

"Guess not." Lee quietly muttered.

"Flame permeates all. I call upon the mystic forces to pierce the unseen veil and grant us a glimpse of what lies beyond." Beau said as he raised his arms in a grand gesture.

"I see something." Slash said as he pointed at a flickering pinpoint of light suspended in the air above the brazier.

"Is that what you were trying to do?" Lee asked cautiously as he fought to focus in on the floating speck.

"Actually, yes. It's perfect. I thought it would take a lot longer." Beau said with satisfaction.

"I'm guessing that there's more to it than what I'm seeing." Lee said frankly.

"No. That's it. That is exactly what I was trying to do." Beau said happily.

"That's the Divine Torch?" Steve asked dubiously.

"Yes... I mean, no. Not all of it. But it's the part that I was most worried about. The rest of this may take some time, but it's all stuff that I know that I can do. If you'll hang on, I'll have this all up and running before you know it." Beau said excitedly with a touch of his Texas twang, then without waiting for a response, went back to the gestures and muttered words of his spellcasting.

"What's going to happen after you're done with all this magic stuff? Are all of you going back to the Wagner school?" Steve quietly asked.

"That's kind of up in the air right now. We're waiting for the 'all clear' from the task force before we decide what we're going to do next." Lee said frankly.

"If you're worried about us leaving you alone here, Quaid and Lee live at the boathouse and I'll be staying there on the weekends." Slash said seriously.

"I was just wondering because Mung's my roommate and if I'm moving to another team, that could make things... weird." Steve said uncomfortably.

"I can see how that could get awkward." Lisa said with concern as she kept the majority of her attention on what Beau was doing.

"Before I go jumping to a lot of conclusions, would you like to move?" Lee asked cautiously.

"Yeah, I think so." Steve said carefully, then thought to add, "Our team never really came together like yours has. We're just a bunch of isolated people, each dealing with things in their own way."

"Have you ever tried helping each other?" Lisa asked with concern.

"We just don't have those types of connections." Steve said simply.

"Even though I haven't gone through it myself, I know that there are 'team building' exercises that are supposed to help with things like that." Lee said thoughtfully.

"The professor has done all kinds of things to try and bring us together. We did okay with them and learned the lessons that we were supposed to and all of that. But when the exercises were all over with, we each went back to our own corners and went back to being alone. Whatever we felt toward each other during the exercises ended when they did."

"Guys, something's probably about to happen." Beau said in a warning tone.

//Can you be a little more specific about that?// Jesus asked from Slash's shoulder.

"Sorry Li'l Buddy, I'm breaching a new barrier. I don't know what that's going to look like or feel like." Beau said frankly.

//So, is this the divine light you were talking about?// Jesus asked cautiously.

"No. Not yet. That comes later. This is more... the realm of the dead." Beau hesitantly explained.

"Like the afterlife?" Lisa asked hesitantly.

"Not exactly... I mean, yes... but no. It's more like the anteroom to the afterlife."

"Like purgatory?" Steve suggested.

"Not really. This is something else entirely." Beau said reluctantly.

//Limbo?// Jesus ventured.

"I guess that's closer. This isn't a place to stay, but one that leads to several different planes."

"Oh? It's an airport?" Slash asked suddenly.

"Ya know what, sure. Except that when you go to your departure gate, you don't get on a mechanical plane with wings, but instead, you enter a spiritual plane of existence."

"Okay. I got that. Go ahead." Slash said seriously.

"You did?" Beau asked with surprise, then after a moment to regroup, he said, "Well then, here it goes."

* * * * *

After all the build up, the actual breaching of the spiritual plane was something of a let-down. Basically, their surroundings appeared to become a little bit bluer and dimmer. Otherwise, everything looked exactly the same.

"Is that it?" Lisa asked uncertainly.

"Look beside you." Beau said as he pointed.

Lisa turned and jumped slightly when she saw a bluish-white wisp hanging in the air.

"Is that Peter?" Lisa asked cautiously as she stared.

"No. That's Emily." Beau said simply.

"Why can we see Emily, but not Peter?" Lisa asked curiously.

"We should really get used to calling him Fallen." Beau gently corrected, then continued, "Emily and I have made frequent contact, so she's more attuned to the material plane than most spiritual entities."

"So what is it that we're seeing here, then?" Lee asked uncertainly.

"First of all, what we're seeing isn't really here. We're not in 'Limbo', if that's what we're calling it. The light of the torch is showing us what exists there. Since that plane is more spiritually attuned than ours, we can see Emily better in that light." Beau said as he placed his pouches on the ground.

"So it's not like when I take us to hell? I mean, what we're seeing isn't really there... or what?" Lee asked uncertainly.

"It exists on its own plane, but we can't make physical contact with it. We can just see it in the light from the divine torch." Beau said as succinctly as he was able.

While everyone did their best to comprehend that, Beau gathered a few more things and started adding them to his fire.

//I'm just curious. From the way I understand Seth's ability, wouldn't it be possible for him to use the light of his horns to do the same thing that you're doing with that bar-b-que pit?// Jesus slowly asked.

"Technically, yes. Practically, no." Beau said carefully.

//Okay. How does that work?// Jesus asked curiously.

"From what I've seen of it, if Seth were to try to duplicate the light of the divine torch, he would probably end up taking us, physically, into limbo or possibly even a heavenly realm." Beau said as he continued to work.

//From the way you say that, I'm assuming that means that it would be a bad thing.// Jesus said uncertainly.

"When you're in a realm like Limbo, it's easy to get lost. It's easy to forget. If you don't pass through it and get to your destination very quickly, you risk being trapped on that plane forever. You'll forget who you are, why you're there, even your own name. You'll just wander unknowingly without a destination." Beau said distantly as he continued to work.

"You'll just wander around until you starve to death?" Lisa asked anxiously.

"In a non-corporeal dimension like limbo your body typically doesn't need food or water. It doesn't age or need sleep. The way you are when you go in is the way you'll be for as long as you're there... maybe forever." Beau said seriously.

"But you won't remember who you are or why you're there?" Steve asked uncertainly.

"That's right." Beau confirmed, then added, "Most beings, when they enter that place, are drawn to go directly to their preferred plane of existence. They arrive without incident and probably don't even remember passing through."

"What's that?" Steve asked suddenly as he pointed.

Beau looked for a moment, then slowly said, "I think it's a pferox."

"What's a pferox?" Steve asked nervously.

"It's a being native to a few of the spiritual dimensions. Some people call them demons, although I don't think that's technically correct. I see the pferox as being more like animals; creatures of utilitarian purpose without intelligent thought, without consciousness. " Beau said consideringly.

"Can it hurt me?" Steve asked as he kept his gaze fastened on the creature who was staring back at him.

"No. He's on a different plane. He can't touch you." Beau assured him.

"Good. Because he looks dangerous." Steve said frankly.

"He's probably about as dangerous as any other wild animal. Come to think of it, since they're native to the realm, they might actually have a life cycle." Beau said speculatively.

"Which means?" Steve asked cautiously.

"It's possible that the pferox might need to eat." Beau said simply as he started performing a series of complicated gestures with his wand.

"Eat... us?" Steve asked uncertainly.

"Eat whatever becomes lost and disoriented within its realm." Beau explained, then quickly added, "I'm just guessing based on how things usually seem to work in situations like this. I don't actually know anything about the pferox except their name."

"So it can't hurt us?" Steve asked to be sure.

"No. Not unless you have the ability to shift dimensions." Beau assured him.

"Hey! Wait. I have the ability to shift dimensions... should I be worried?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"I can't be sure if the pferox can shift dimensions on its own. You might want to be sure to look before you leap when you know that there are pferox around." Beau cautiously suggested.

"So it can shift itself to the hell dimension?" Lee asked with surprise.

"I really don't know. It's possible. That's all I'm saying." Beau said simply.

"What about the 'sideways'? Could the pferox shift itself there?" Lee asked anxiously.

"Not that I'm aware of. But while it's possible that it could, it's also possible that it has no reason to go there. So if you're thinking about going to the sideways dimension trying to escape the pherox, it is possible that it might be able to follow you there." Beau said thoughtfully.

"What about this dimension?" Steve asked cautiously.

"No. They can't shift here. They aren't capable of it." Beau said with certainty.

//But could you bring one here if you wanted to?// Jesus tentatively asked.

"No. I don't think so. Even if I could find a way to transport the creature, it would probably disintegrate within minutes of arriving." Beau said frankly, then added, "But according to my limited understanding of how Seth's ability works, I'd have to guess that, if he wanted to and really tried, that he might be capable of reorienting a creature from another dimensional plane to this one."

//That doesn't apply just to pferox, does it?// Jesus asked cautiously.

"No. I don't think so." Beau said frankly.

//We're going to need to keep a close eye on that.// Jesus said more quietly.

"I think we're ready to try this. Everyone hold still until you get used to the divine torch." Beau warned.

"Is this going to do anything to the pferox?" Steve rushed to ask.

"It will look completely real to us, but it still won't exist on this plane so it still won't be able to do anything to hurt us." Beau assured him.

"Okay. I'm ready then." Steve said reasonably confidently.

"Then goes the feeling,

then goes the flow,

then goes the magic,

then goes the fire!

By the power of my will, let the assault on high places be enjoined, let the walls of this world be further breached!" Beau called out in an escalating voice as he raised his open palm toward the speck of light floating high above the brazier..

"Holy fuck!" Slash gasped as he fell to his knees.

"I think my heart stopped." Lisa said between heaving breaths as she clutched her chest.

//Is anyone else blind, or is it just me?// Jesus asked in a clearly frightened mind/voice.

"I've got you Jesus. Stay right there. Does anyone need to get out of here? Just let me know and I'll open a door for us." Lee asked as he fought to remain standing.

"Just give it a second and your vision will return. The torch worked just the way it was supposed to." Beau hurried to explain.

"I'm glad I didn't empty my venom sacs yet, because it's beginning to look like I may need them." Steve said as he struggled to coil himself to return to an upright position.

"Um, Beau? Can you see yourself?" Lee asked cautiously.

"I know. I was afraid this might happen. I know how it looks, but this isn't something to worry about. The mythical beast is part of me. It's only visible under spiritual light." Beau explained.

"Lee, you have red eyes." Lisa hesitantly warned him.

"Beau's practically being devoured by a giant bird and that's what you're focusing on?" Lee asked incredulously, then turned to the tall young man beside Beau and cautiously asked, "Is that really you, Peter?"

"Hang on. Before we get started, let me try something." Beau hurried to say.

"If you make us blind again, I will bite you." Steve said firmly, then added for emphasis, "Believe it."

"I'm not going to do anything to your sight this time. Now I'm going to work on your ears." Beau said before doing a complicated gesture while saying a few incomprehensible words.

"By divine light let their words be heard." Beau said as he added a few more items to his brazier.

As one might expect, the added items smoked a little before burning up entirely, but they appeared to do little else.

"Give it a second to take hold. If it doesn't work, I can still translate for you, like we were planning before." Beau announced.

"Are you Peter?" Slash asked to confirm.

"Da, I mean, Yes. Piotr Rasputin, at your service." The tall young man said in a firm clear voice with a pronounced Russian accent.

"Whoa. Okay. That worked a little better than I expected." Lee said with astonishment.

//I guess I can't see the same thing that you can. I can't see who you're talking to.// Jesus said frankly.

"Try seeing through my eyes. Maybe that'll work." Lee suggested.

//It's kind of disorienting for me. I'll need to stay still while I do it. Is that okay?// Jesus asked cautiously.

"As long as you don't dig your nails in, you're fine." Lee assured him.

"Lisa. Emily told me that you would like to use my training and skill so that you can serve your team as I did mine. Is that correct?" Peter asked carefully as he indicated the impossibly pale, younger girl at his side.

"I came here, to New York, for a chance to do something with my life, something better than living in my mom's basement." Lisa said quietly.

Peter and Emily both nodded to encourage her to continue.

"When I got here, Doctor Hoffman made sure that I knew that I needed to look toward the future and dream of something more than just existing. I needed to find a way to make a contribution." Lisa said with a gentle smile, then looked Peter in the eyes as she continued, "If you'll agree to share your skill with me, I can do more than exist. I can help."

Peter slowly nodded, then looked to Beau and said, "This is what I needed to know. I would not wish to give of myself to someone with wrong intentions."

"I can understand that." Beau said with a gentle smile.

"Hang on, Beau. Before we call everything settled and done, just what the hell are you?" Lee asked frankly.

Slash looked at Lee with surprise at the bold question, but then turned his inquisitive gaze toward Beau to wait for a satisfactory answer.

"Would you believe that this is my spirit animal?" Beau asked hopefully.

"Nice try." Lee said simply.

"This creature which inhabits you, it is the Phoenix, is it not?" Peter asked carefully.

"Yeah. Most people don't recognize it by sight. How did you know that?" Beau asked cautiously.

"I have seen one once before. That one inhabited a dear friend of mine which eventually forced her to have to leave us." Peter said seriously.

"Did you do something to make Miss Grey have to leave?" Steve asked in a pained voice.

"No. I don't know anything about that. But it may explain what I've been sensing since I've been here. I didn't know that I had landed in someone else's nest. No wonder all the power structures around here have already been rooted out." Beau finished thoughtfully.

"So this isn't the same phoenix that took Miss Grey from us?" Peter cautiously asked.

"No. That much I can tell you for certain. This phoenix has been in the Murdock and Collins families for centuries. The phoenix you encountered had to have been from an entirely different lineage." Beau said seriously.

//Fire and death... it all makes sense now.// Jesus said consideringly.

"Yeah. If I hadn't been possessed by the phoenix I probably wouldn't have been a witch at all. But my only choices were to become a suitable vessel or to endure as best I could until a better vessel presented itself." Beau quietly explained.

"You're not a vessel, you're a person." Lee stated cautiously.

"I'm both." Beau corrected.

"And you're okay with that?" Lisa asked uncertainly.

"I wouldn't be me without the phoenix. When I was born, she was reborn within me. She and I are one fused being."

"Did your parents do this to you?" Steve asked darkly.

"No. Some of my family were involved, but not my parents. They fought to give me as normal a life as possible to ground me in the real world." Beau finished contentedly.

"So does that mean that you can never get rid of the phoenix?" Lisa asked with concern.

"Not exactly. One day I'll turn to ash and she will be reborn in another vessel. But at least I'll know that a part of me will live on. In a sense, part of me is eternal. How can I be mad about that?" Beau finished with a smile.

"Religion gives me a headache." Slash said sourly.

//It gives me gas.// Jesus countered.

"Ooookay. So what do we need to do now so we can keep this thing moving?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"Peter, do you have anything that you'd like to say or any questions that you'd like to ask before the breach seals itself?" Beau asked seriously.

"I'm a simple person, not well versed in the abilities of the phoenix or in witchly matters. Could you explain to me what you're intending to do?" Peter asked carefully.

"Yes. It will be good for me to restate it in front of both of you so that you're both aware of what you will be agreeing to." Beau said with a smile, then continued, "To put it simply, I plan to take what's here in front of me, all that remains of who and what you were, and transfer it into an object that Lisa will be able to don when she needs to have access to your skill and complex motor control."

"And what will I do when you do not have need of my gifts?" Peter asked cautiously.

"That will be up to you to decide. You can choose to retreat into the sark and become an inanimate object if you like. But if I'm able to get the nygo husk webbing to work the way I want it to, then you'll have a skin, of sorts, that you'll be able to use to interact with your teammates, independently from Lisa." Beau carefully explained.

"Where will I live?" Peter slowly asked.

"You won't. You're dead." Beau said honestly.

"I think he wants to know where he'll be staying when he's not doing team business." Slash hesitantly suggested.

"Oh... I don't know. That's really not my department." Beau said honestly.

"I think it might be mine." Lee said hesitantly.

"You are Andrew's father, yes?" Peter asked uncertainly.

"That's right, I'm Lee. I'm also the liaison between Xavier's and the Wagner Institute, so it's my job to make sure that people who have interests in both places get the best possible outcome." Lee said carefully.

"What would you suggest in Fallen's case?" Beau asked curiously.

"Since all the Wagner students have been displaced due to the shooting, I think that we can keep Fallen with his new teammates for now. That should give me time to investigate the possibilities so that I can give you some choices to consider." Lee said seriously.

"Many thanks to you Lee. I'm sorry that I didn't get to know you before. You are very kind." Peter said regretfully.

"I was dealing with a lot, all at once, back there. Now is better." Lee finished with a disarming smile.

After a moment to consider, Peter quietly said, "Perhaps it is."

"Listen, the breach is about to close so this may be your last chance to talk to each other until after the embodiment ritual. Go ahead and tell Fallen what you need to say." Beau said firmly.

"Fallen, I'm new to this team, but I used to be part of another one. So if you decide to go through with it, you won't be the only one. If you want to talk about that stuff I'll know how it is and I'll help you if I can." Steve hurried to assure him.

"Even though I don't know what kind of abilities you're going to have when this is all over, that's one of the crazy things about this team. We're all over the place with abilities and stuff. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, there will be a place for you." Slash assured him.

"I don't know if anyone has mentioned it to you, but Wagner's is just starting out. The new people need someone who can not only show them the way, but also warn them about consequences. It's a unique opportunity to help in a different way than you're probably used to." Lee said frankly.

//I don't know if you can see and hear me. I can't see or hear you except through Lee's eyes and ears, but either way, my partner is Louie just the same way that your partner will be Lisa. If you're worried about that part of things, I'll be right here to help you.// Jesus sent very carefully and deliberately.

After a moment, Lee cautiously asked, "Did you hear what Jesus was saying?"

"No. Who is that?" Peter asked cautiously.

"This rat on my shoulder. He's telepathic, but for some reason he can't see or hear you. It seems that you can't hear him either. He wants you to know that he and his partner on the team combine something like what you and Lisa are planning on doing. He offered to help you if you find out later that you have a problem that comes from being a combined being." Lee carefully explained.

"I do not understand. You have a rat on your team who is telepathic?" Peter asked slowly.

"Yes. That's right." Lee confirmed.

"Although he prefers to be called an emotional support companion." Slash added with a smile.

"I wish to understand, is this a person whose mutation made him appear to be a rat?" Peter asked slowly.

"No. He's a rat who achieved sentience by way of a mutant ability being used on him. His partner, Louie, is the one who woke him up and made him a person." Lee carefully explained.

//Very nicely explained. Thank you.// Jesus said appreciatively.

"The torch is almost out. Is there anything else you need to know before you lose the chance to ask directly?" Beau asked urgently.

"Lisa, if I understand correctly, you wish to gain access to my skills so that you can use your gift of strength to help others who aren't as strong and lack such gifts of their own. Is that correct?" Peter carefully asked.

"Yes. That's right. But that isn't all. Since I first heard about the Wagner school, my motive for being here has changed a couple times. Helping the weak sounds like a good enough reason to fight for now, but something else may come up later that gives me another reason." Lisa slowly explained.

"So, at some point we may disagree regarding what is right and wrong."

"I suppose that every partnership is going to have to face that at some point." Lisa said speculatively.

"I would not wish to mislead you. While I am earnest in my desire to work with you and help you on your quest to be strong for the weak, I cannot promise to abide by your every decision. Some certain things are important to me and I will fight to defend them. If you cannot accept me having my own free will, this would be the best time to bring it forward." Peter said carefully.

"You'd better hurry up and answer. He's fading fast." Slash cautioned.

"Take the time you need to make the right decision." Beau countered, then reminded them, "I will still be able to hear Fallen even after you aren't able to."

"Right." Slash acknowledged.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem anyway. Friends fight. Friends disagree. Sometimes they let the other have their way just because they are friends. You can't command me and I can't command you. That's how it should be. We'll work together because that's the best thing we can do for ourselves, for each other and for the team. Right?" Lisa finished confidently.

"Lisa. I will be honored to stand beside you in your quest." Peter said reverently, then added in a fading voice, "In the fullness of time, we may continue on to other adventures... we may not. Regardless, I will vow to fight at your side until such a time as we decide to move on to separate challenges."

Everyone was silent as the light of the 'torch' faded to nothing.

Beau waited a moment for any response. When none was forthcoming, he finally said, "I guess that means that it's time to prepare for the embodiment ritual."

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Ever since I read the Harry Potter books, I have had a great deal of respect and liking for the phoenix.

It makes sense that Beau and the phoenix coexisted in one being. It's kinda cool.

I have to wonder if these folks will ever encounter D and G and the others?

I would also be interested in seeing if they could get involved with the Shadesiders, etc.

I have always enjoyed crossover stories.

It's nice to see that Peter and Lisa will be able to work together.

I also am happy to see that each person has grown stronger and more able to understand and belong with each other. I can hardly wait for the next chapter, but then there is always the wait. But, I guess I will have to wait.

Thank you, once again, MM for this new chapter.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher