Beauty and the Beast

SUMMARY:          This is a somewhat modernized version of  "La Belle et la Bete" (Beauty & The Beast), the Madam Prince de Beaumont version from 1756.  Ain't no Disney business (though I do love that version). WARNINGS:  If schmaltzy fairy tales ain't your thing, move along.
NOTES:          This is my submission to the MST Anniversary Challenge - adapting a fairy tale to Brian and Justin.  The only characters from the show herein are Brian, Justin, and Craig (for obvious reasons).  Craig is not the bastard we met in Season 1.  This bloody thing practically wrote itself, and any errors are my own.



Craig Taylor was a huge name in the Society Hill district of Philadelphia. As CEO of Taylor Hotels, he'd amassed a huge amount of property and wealth.

He had six children - three sons and three daughters, who all attended the finest universities in the country.  His favorite was his son Justin, a graduate of the Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Arts.  At first Craig was concerned about Justin wanting to be an artist, but knew he could afford to indulge his beautiful son's dream.  

As a small boy, Justin Taylor was nicknamed "Beauty" by those in the country club.  Many continue to call him that to this day, though he prefers to hear his
real name.  He was the envy of his brothers for this alone.

When it came to mental prowess, Justin far surpassed his brothers' abilities. He finished his studies in half the time it took them.  His brothers decided to follow their father into the family business, and bragged about their wealth often.  Justin's brothers were such snobs that they only befriended those in high society.  They went to celebrity parties and were pictured in the local rags with one socialite or another.  They found Justin's desire to paint and read laughable, and teased him often.

Many business magnates in
Philadelphia introduced Justin's brothers to their daughters, but unless the businessmen were of the same level as Craig Taylor or above, they turned their noses up at the opportunities.

A financial crisis hit the nation within a few years, and the stock market  plummeted.  Many businesses were hurt or destroyed as a result,
Taylor Hotels included.  The Taylors lost everything except for a modest home in Pittsburgh, which they tearfully moved into.  Justin's brothers thought they could hold onto their high-flying girlfriends in spite of their situation, and got  a rude awakening.  They were both unceremoniously dumped, and no one in Society Hill took pity on them.  The only people they pitied were Craig and Justin.

Justin was such a sweet, loving, gentle soul who won the hearts of Society Hill, so of course the loss of fortune caused their neighbors great concern.
Justin cared for the community, even the poor.  A lot of women would have married him, lack of wealth notwithstanding; but not only was he gay, he believed his duty was to remain at his father's side during this crisis.  He was as unhappy as the others about their dire straits, but refused to wail and moan about it; he believed that sort of behavior was non-productive.  He chose to try happiness as a poor young man.

Upon arrival at their new home, the sons took care of the grounds.  Justin rose early every day to cook and clean.  He thought it was drudgery at first, since he was accustomed to having housekeepers around; but as time passed, it became as natural as breathing.  He would go into his room and paint after finishing his chores every evening.

Justin's brothers had no idea what to do now that they had all this idle time. They'd sleep in late, get up and lounge around the house complaining about being broke.   They'd also complain about Justin and how complacent he'd become in light of their changed status.

"How can Justin stand being broke?  He's so stupid," they'd say.

Craig knew Justin was far stronger than his other sons gave him credit for, and thought highly of his humility and work ethic.  Even more admirable was Justin's patience.  With his brothers insulting him at every turn and not helping around the house, it was certainly a trial by fire.  Craig wondered how Justin was able to keep his temper in check.

A year into their new living existence, Craig got a call from an old colleague. Apparently there was a business opportunity in
Philadelphia that could potentially bring Craig back to his previous life.  Of course his elder sons rejoiced, thoughts of returning to the high life foremost on their minds.  They were sick of living like this and wanted their old lives back. The day Craig set off for the meeting, the elder sons begged him to bring them back new clothes.  Justin surmised that the money his father would get wouldn't be enough to cover such an extravagant purchase, and said nothing.

"Justin, do you want anything," Craig asked.

"Well, since you insist - just bring me a rose.  They don't grow here, and it would be nice to see one for once," Justin said.  He didn't really want anything,
but he was sick of appearing weird to his brothers.

Philadelphia, Craig was shocked to hear that after all the legal wrangling as a result of the financial crisis, he would return to Pittsburgh only slightly less
 broke than before.  With a heavy heart, he drove toward his new home.

As he drove, he ran into a heavy thunderstorm with high winds and freezing rain turning into snow.  He feared he wouldn't make it home alive.  Luckily he spotted some light shining from a private road, and drove down it.  When he arrived at the property, it was a huge mansion in his old neighborhood, lit from top to bottom.  He'd never noticed the estate before, but it could be shelter for a night at least.  He parked his car, and headed toward the house.

Craig entered the huge foyer, and walked toward the formal dining room.  One place setting, piled with the evening's meal, sat on the long table. Craig decided he'd wait until someone showed up to eat it, and ask about staying the night. At
11:00, still no one showed up, and Craig was famished.  He looked around, feeling like a thief, and sat down to eat.  The food was cold by this time, but Craig didn't care - he gorged himself on everything, and then sat back with a glass of wine.

Feeling a little bold after the wine, Craig decided to wander through the house.  He found a master suite set up for the night.  The bed looked so inviting, and
Craig was so exhausted, he closed the door and crashed out. At ten the next morning, Craig woke up and stretched.  He looked over, and  saw a pair of wool slacks and a cashmere sweater draped across the window seat. He wondered if there was some angel out there helping him out, or if he was losing his mind.   He looked out the bedroom window, and saw the beautifully landscaped grounds peppered with gorgeous flowers and trees.

He headed downstairs to the dining room, and saw a cup of coffee and a bagel  in the same spot the dinner lie the night before.  "Thank you, whomever you are," he said out loud.  He drank the coffee, and then returned to his car. He remembered that Justin wanted a rose, and grabbed a stem off a nearby bush.

At that point he heard a roar, and a huge beast bounded toward him.  Craig nearly fainted.

"You ungrateful bastard," the beast roared.  "I save your ass from freezing, and you steal from me!  I'm giving you fifteen minutes to pray before I slit your
throat."  Craig fell to his knees and gazed beseechingly at the monster. "Please forgive me, kind sir - I have this son in
Pittsburgh.  He wanted me to bring him back a rose, and I only wanted to make him happy."

"I have no use for false flattery," the beast said angrily.  "If you're sincere, I'll let you slide on one condition: one of your sons must come back of his own free
will to suffer in your place.  Just do your business, and if none of your sons agree to come back in your place, you have to come back in three months."

Craig wasn't planning on sacrificing one of his sons to this creature, but on the bright side, at least he could see them again before he died.  He promised to
come back, but the beast told him to stay as long as he needed. "In the top drawer in your room is a bundle of hundreds.  Take what you need for the trip home, and I'll send the rest."

Craig breathed a sigh of relief.  At least in death he could provide for his children again.  He grabbed two hundreds and pocketed them, left the house and drove home.

Once he got home, his sons ran up to greet him, and stopped short when they saw the tears in his eyes.  "I have some good news, and some bad news," Craig
said.   He relayed the whole situation with the beast, and handed Justin his rose.  "Here's your rose, Justin - I never thought it would cost me my life, though."

"You stupid idiot," Justin's brothers cried.  "You couldn't ask for something  practical, could you?  You had to ask for a stupid rose, and now Dad's gonna die because of you.  And you aren't even crying about it!"

"Why should I," Justin said, "When I've already decided to go to the beast's mansion and die in Dad's place?"

"Forget that - we'll go find him and kill him, or die trying," his oldest brother said.

Craig silenced his sons and said, "You can't kill him - you're no match for him. Justin, as grateful as I am that you're willing to sacrifice yourself, there's no need.  I haven't got that many years left, so there isn't much for me to lose."

"Dad," Justin said.  "You're taking me to Society Hill, and that's final."  Secretly his brothers were happy "the little princess," as they called him, would be gone, and didn't argue any further.

Craig was so upset about losing Justin that he nearly forgot about the money.  When he entered his bedroom, the remaining bills sat on his bedside table.  
He decided to keep it a secret from his children.  He knew his elder sons, it least, would hightail it back to Society Hill faster than the money could hold
them.  The only person he trusted with his secret was Justin, who told him  about their visitors.  Apparently a couple of men came earlier that day to ask
for their sisters' hands in marriage.  Justin asked Craig to okay the unions, and the men returned, feigning tears of joy as they whisked the sisters away.

Justin and Craig drove together to Society Hill, and parked in the private drive of the beast's mansion.  Craig led Justin inside to the dining room, where
they saw two place settings this time. Craig was too nervous to eat, but Justin told him not to deny their malevolent host's hospitality.  That convinced him to sit and dine with Justin. Justin figured the beast wanted to fatten him up before making dinner out of him, but didn't tell Craig his thoughts, preferring instead to put up a cheerful front.

As they dined they heard the roar indicating the beast's arrival.  Craig tearfully bid Justin farewell.  Justin panicked for a moment when he saw the creature,
and quickly masked his fear.  The beast asked, "Did you come here willingly?"  Justin could only nod his assent.

"Good," the beast answered.  Looking over to Craig he said, "You did well - this is a fine one.  You can leave in the morning, but don't even think about
coming back." Craig hugged Justin, and the beast left the room.  "Justin," Craig said tearfully.  "You go home, and I'll stay here."

"No, Dad," Justin said.  "A deal is a deal.  I'm staying - you go home tomorrow, and I'll stay here.  It's the way it should be."

Father and son went to bed.  As he slept, Justin dreamed that a woman came to him and said, "I'm convinced your sacrifice will not go without reward."
The next morning Justin woke and told his father about the dream.  It brought little comfort to Craig, who wept as he left the mansion.

Justin waited until the car drove out of sight, and cried.  He was convinced he would die that night, and had no means to escape.  His only option was to
resign himself to his fate. He decided to go for a walk and check out the house and grounds, or his "gallows" as he called it.  It was a gorgeous Colonial mansion.  It was clearly part of old
Philadelphia.  The interior design was simple and clean, not too modern for the house, but not overly ornate like what the original owners
would use.  Justin came up to a door that had a sign:  "Justin's Apartment."
He quickly entered the room and gaped.  It was a gorgeous room, with deep blue walls and dark blue upholstery and bedding.  It was beautiful and looked
rich, but still had a masculine appeal.  Across the entryway was a library  stocked with books, with an easel and paint supplies in the middle.

"Well damn," Justin said.  "Guys on Death Row certainly don't get these perks. I'm impressed."  A little part of him wondered if the beast planned to let him
live longer than a day, or if he wanted his final hours to be comfortable. He grabbed a book, and trembled when he saw what was written inside:

"Welcome to my home.  Don't be afraid. You run this place. Whatever you want, whatever you wish, Is yours."

"I'd love to see my father, but I know he's probably at home mourning," Justin said.  The moment he uttered those words, he saw a huge mirror in the
library.  He could see his home, and his father returning, head bowed.  His brothers met him and played at grieving, but Justin could clearly tell they didn't miss
him at all.  Then the image faded.  Justin couldn't understand why the beast was being so kind, if he was planning to kill him.

Justin went down for lunch and heard music playing.  It sounded like an orchestra was performing within the home.  He figured there was an elaborate sound system installed like they had in their old mansion.  He kicked back and enjoyed the music as he ate, then went upstairs to paint.

At dinner, he heard the beast's signature roar, and tensed.  'I guess it's time for me to die,' Justin thought.

"Justin," the beast said, "May I join you?"

"Do what you want," Justin said.  He tried to make his voice sound non-committal, but it came out shaky.  The beast shook his head and said, "You run this place, not me; if you want me gone, and can't bear to face me, just say the word and I'll leave.  Don't you find me unattractive?"

"Well, yes," Justin said.  "But you've been so kind - there's a good heart in you."

"Maybe," the beast responded, deep in thought.

"Just eat and enjoy yourself.  You have the run of the house.  I won't be happy if you're not."

"You're so kind, Beast."

"I'm still ugly."

"Sure, humans would think so, but there are some of us who are better deserving of such a description.  They may be beautiful on the outside, but deep down they're hideous."

"Thanks, Justin.  I owe you."

Justin ate nearly everything, and relaxed with a glass of wine beside the monster.  He nearly fainted when the beast asked, "Will you live here as my partner?"

It took a while for Justin to answer.  He didn't want to piss the beast off by turning him down, but he had to.  With a shaky voice he said, "No."  The beast sighed and let out a hiss that bounced off the walls.  Sadly he bid Justin goodnight and left the room, sneaking glances as the beautiful young man.

'Who would have thought the beast was gay,' Justin wondered.  He couldn't believe it - of all the dumb luck.  'He's so sweet - it's a shame he's so ugly.'

Three months passed, and Justin and the beast had settled into a routine. The beast would visit him at nine every night, and they would discuss various
topics.  The beast believed he was stupid, but Justin realized that stemmed from his insecurity over his looks.  In conversation he was quite articulate and well
read.  Justin had grown so used to him that the beast's appearance no longer frightened him.  He stopped dreading the beast's visits, and instead began to check his watch to see if it was nine.  

There was only one problem with their arrangement.  Every evening the beast would ask Justin to be his partner.  Finally one day Justin said, "I'm just happy
to be your friend.  I wish I could say yes to you, but first of all, we don't live in Hawaii or Vermont; secondly, I'd be lying if I said yes, and I won't lie to you."

"I guess that's all I can hope for in my circumstances.  I'm glad you're staying here at least; just promise not to leave me - I care too much."

Justin lowered his eyes, unable to look the beast in the face.  He saw in the mirror how upset his dad was, and was desperate to see him.  "I could promise you that, but I would love to see my father one last time," Justin  said sadly.

"Fine - you can stay with him, and I'll die alone."

"Don't be a drama queen.  Look - I'll take off for one week, long enough to reassure my dad I'm okay, and come back.  There's no one there to hurt me -
my brothers and sisters are all married and living elsewhere.  Dad's all alone - just let me have one week with him."

"I'll send you there in the morning," the beast said.  "But don't forget you promised to come back.  Whenever you want to come back here, just take your ring off and lay it on your bedside table."  The beast loped to his suite, head down in dejection.

Justin woke up the next morning at his father's home, and frightened the maid.  The maid ran over to get his father, who came in and pulled him into his arms.  
They clung to each other, so grateful to see one another again, and then Craig let him go so he could get dressed.

Justin thought he had nothing to wear, but he saw a Louis Vuitton suitcase by his bed.  When he opened it, there was a host of designer shirts and slacks,
and even shoes to match.  Justin silently thanked his beast for the gift.  He grabbed a Prada shirt, slacks, and shoes, and decided to give the rest to his
brothers.  The suitcase and clothes vanished.  He called in his father, and Craig told him, "The beast only wants you to have those clothes - no one else, not even your brothers."  Once Justin understood, the clothes and suitcase reappeared.

After dressing, Justin went to visit his brothers.  They were both unhappily married to two of the worst women he'd met.  His oldest brother married a  woman who made his personality appear compassionate in comparison.  The middle brother married a bitch that enjoyed making other's lives miserable, especially him.  They both seethed with envy at the sight of Justin wearing such nice clothes and looking so stylish.  The glow of happiness surrounding him made them even more jealous.  They made their excuses to Justin and went in the oldest brother's study.

"Can you believe it?  That jerk's doing better than we are," the oldest brother said.  "Let's keep him here another week; maybe the beast will come and kill
him for breaking his promise."  The other brother nodded, and they pasted on fake smiles for their youngest brother.

The brothers went into hysterics once the end of the week came.  They begged Justin not to leave, and put on such a great performance that Justin promised to
stay another week.  That decision filled Justin with dread - what would his beast think?  In spite of everything, Justin did want to see the beast again.

On the tenth night at his father's home, Justin dreamed he was back in the garden at the beast's mansion.  The beast lay on the grass, dying and lambasting
Justin for being so ungracious and deceitful.  This roused Justin out of his sleep, and he burst into tears.  He knew he was cruel for ignoring his promise to
the beast.  He knew he was better off at the mansion with him, than in
Pittsburgh with his miserable brothers.  That thought in mind, he took his ring off and
laid it on the bedside table.

He woke up in his apartment in Society Hill.Justin dressed quickly, and waited for the clock to strike nine.

The beast didn't come.

Justin ran all over the mansion, crying out for the beast and begging his forgiveness.  'I hope he isn't dead,' he thought.  Remembering his dream, he ran outside and found him laid out on the grass.  Justin ran to his side and checked for a pulse.  He said a silent prayer of thanks - his beast was alive. He got a coffee cup from the house, filled it with water, then ran back out and tossed it over the beast's head.

The beast woke and said, "Why didn't you come back?  You promised.  I went on a hunger strike.  I guess I can die happy now - I got a chance to see you
again."  The beast laid his head back and closed his eyes.  Justin grabbed two fistfuls of the beast's jacket, and shook him.

"You're not dying on me, dammit!  I'm staying here - and you'd better live, because you're going to be my partner.  It's not the most ideal arrangement,

I assure you - but I do care about you, and I know I'll be happier here. What's the point of staying in
Pittsburgh, when I can stay here with you?"

No sooner had Justin made his declaration, than all the lights in the mansion came on at once.  Fireworks lit up the night sky, and the entire estate was cast in a bright glow.  Justin looked down, and saw a beautiful hazel-eyed, auburn-haired man gazing back at him.  Shock rendered Justin speechless.

The woman who appeared in his earlier dream kneeled beside him.  She said, "Brian was the victim of a curse.  Because he was a cold, heartless bastard, a
gypsy turned him into a beast.  The only way the spell could be broken was for Brian to find his true love; a virgin who could see beyond the ugliness of his
beastly appearance to the loving heart within."

"Thank you Justin," Brian said with a smile.  "Thank you for saving me. Let's go home."  Justin helped Brian to his feet, and the threesome entered the
mansion.  Justin gaped at the sight of his father and brothers in the foyer.

"Justin," the woman began, "This all belongs to you now.  You were strong enough to see the beauty within, and are of such a strong character yourself, that you've proven yourself worthy of having a partner like yourself in Brian."

"As for the two of you," she continued, glaring at Justin's brothers, "You've only proven that often outer beauty hides an evil spirit.  Since you've never said a single kind word for your brother, and are lazy, greedy, selfish bastards, you're going to be statues outside of the mansion.  Until you can sincerely admit your faults, you will remain this way for all eternity.  I haven't much faith that you will ever change, so mote it be."

The woman waved her wand, and a full staff appeared to help take care of the mansion and grounds.  Craig was given back the suite he slept in before.  He still wasn't too pleased that Justin would spend his life with another man, but Brian was such a kind and giving person that he couldn't complain.

The three of them drove to
Vermont the next day, and Brian and Justin made it official.


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