|The Beast by Jeff Hebert|
"What 'ave you put in zis bag, ma belle?" he huffed whilst desperately trying to keep the case closed. The deep blue suitcase was so full of the latest French fashions that there appeared to be no hope of it ever closing.
"It is just ze things I need for our 'oliday, mon petit Bete", Michelle answered innocently, her voice rich and alluring like velvet. Michelle Mignonne - Belle in Paris' version of La Belle et le Bete - had known Jean-Pierre for many months now and was wise to his moods. She simply smiled at her large, handsome partner and added, "Any way, most of ze clothes in zere are yours. And ze hairspray would take up a whole suitcase itself. Stop fussing".
"Fussing? I do not fuss, belle", said Jean-Pierre choosing to ignore the comment about the hairspray. "And zis is not some vacation, as ze Americans say". He pronounced the work vacation in a typically French way whilst rolling his eyes when he mentioned Americans.
"Zis is my work - our work", he added, with a little pride. "We will perform our show to many more whilst I protect ze people and fight evil. Zat Professor, she 'as asked for me to help protect some Mousketeers during ze fortieth anniversary celebrations over ze Pond. I will be mixing with ze rich and famous".
"And", added Michelle, selecting even more clothes to put into another suitcase, "we will meet zis Doctor Dynamo and zat monsieur Twilight. And ze Unicorn...". Her head tilted to one side as she dreamily thought about the handsome, athletic hero.
Finally frustrated with the full-to-the-brim suitcase, Jean-Pierre tensed and initiated his cosmic change. He began to grow, his already large frame increasing in size. Dark brown hair sprouted from his body and covered the huge muscles that now bulged on his arms, legs and chest. Within seconds, the handsome man was replaced by the huge Beast of legend; although his intimidating look was ruined somewhat with having to duck his head to fit in the room.
The Beast growled.
"Zat Unicorn is just an uncultured boy. He lacks sophistication. And zat costume he wears...!". The Beast muttered his annoyance as he sat down on the suitcase, closing it suddenly with a bang that threatened to break the hinges.
Michelle looked at him in mock surprise and then smiled.
"You are just jealous", she said and stepped over to the hairy creature and began to run her hands through his fur.
The Beast purred but added, "Careful of my fur. I 'ave only just washed it".
Michelle pouted, wrinkling her cute nose, but said nothing.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. A somewhat timid voice from outside called.
"Monsieur Charmant. The taxi to the airport is here!"
"Mon Dieu! Already?" exclaimed Beast, quickly locking the suitcase that he sat on. Michelle moved back to the other case and closed that one as well. She called out a reply to man behind the door.
"Thank you. Tell ze driver to wait a few minutes, oui?"
Michelle leant over as the Beast was picking up his case and gave the large, hairy man a kiss on cheek. Beast smiled and returned the kiss with greater passion on Michelle's rose-red lips.
"I think", said Michelle once she had removed herself from the Beast's embrace, "zat it is time for you to change back. Zere are no villains 'ere to defeat".
"No", agreed the Beast, grinning, "I 'ave already been conquered by a beautiful maiden". He bowed gracefully and began to shrink. Within moments, the well-groomed handsome man had returned. He picked up both cases and headed for the door.
"Let us go and meet these Americans and ze legends of Millenia City".
Michelle laughed and opened the door to the corridor, and their new life, beyond…
(apologies for the appalling French accents)