Series: First in the Evolution of a Beast series
Disclaimer: Stan Lee, Marvel, and Fox own X-Men. Deborra-Lee Furness owns Hugh Jackman. I own my obsession.
Archive Rights: Just ask.
Author's Notes: This takes place approximately fifteen years after X-Men: The Movie. Since Beast was never featured in the movie, I am taking huge liberties with his age and family history. This is not even close to his comics history, but over the course of this series, he should evolve into the Beast that we know and love.
Dedication: For Terri Beri and Victoria P, who wanted me to write a Hank fic where he doesn't die. Hey, there was no stipulation that he had to be happy.
Summary: Henry McCoy discovers his mutation and tries to cope.
Henry Phillip McCoy died at the age of 12 years and 7 months, give or take a few days. His demise had been several months in coming, but it was still a surprise. I should know. I witnessed it. It was, in fact, from that end that I was born, christened by the shrieks of Henry Phillip's mother.
"Beast!" she cried upon seeing her only child's true form.
"Mother. It's still me, Henry Phillip," I cried, but her yelling drowned out my voice.
"My child... a mutant! Norton, this is your fault. You're the nuclear physicist. What have you been doing at work, juggling plutonium?"
"It's not my fault that he's become this creature, Edna. How did this happen, Henry Phillip? How long have you been hiding this from us?"
"Don't call him that! He's a beast. My Henry Phillip is dead. We have no son."
"Get out! Get out of my house!" Mother commanded.
Father led Mother back downstairs, but before he was out of earshot, he called out a warning that I should be gone in ten minutes. I redressed into my hot, stifling clothes and packed my bookbag until the seams bulged. I could only fit in a few changes of clothes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a brush, a razor, and my favorite Hans Christian Anderson book. I grabbed my bank book out of my dresser drawer, and was ready to go. Before leaving my room, however, I turned back and looked longingly at my collection of hundreds of textbooks that lined every wall. I would miss them desperately, but there was no way I could carry them with me as well.
I realized in that moment, that my life was truly over. It would be impossible for me to continue my studies without my parents' support. I would lose my place at Columbia Medical School. It's not just the fact that I'm a mutant, although I'm sure they would hesitate because of that, but now I'm destitute. There is no way I could possibly afford all the costs of my education.
My bank account holds $429.54, which I plan to clean out as soon as I reach a bank. A twelve-year-old, genius or no, cannot live on $429.54 until he turns sixteen and can obtain proper employment. The pre-med degree I hold means nothing without the graduate work and the practical experience of an internship and residency to back it up.
After leaving and at a loss for where to go, I walked the residential streets away from my home until I reached a park. It had a large duck pond in the center, and I sat down under the shade of a tree to watch the birds and think. People walked, ran, or bicycled past. Children and dogs teased and frightened the ducks. I sat and thought about how my life had fallen apart and what I should do now.
My transformation occurred over several months, so I had many opportunities to ponder my situation, but now that I am faced with the reality of it, I don't know what to do.
Shortly after my twelfth birthday, when I was just months away from completing my undergraduate work and advancing to the doctoral program at Columbia, I noticed an abnormality in my fingernails. They had become thicker to the degree that they were completely white. Thinking that this was a simple problem with a simple solution, I researched the condition in my medical textbooks and informed no one else.
When I found out that the only explanation could be a simple case of nail fungus, I decided to mention it to my physician on my next checkup and thought about it no further. That was until the nail beds themselves started to change. They shrunk, losing width until the nails were half as wide as they had been. The nails also continued to thicken and harden until they were almost bone-like projections.
I took to hiding my hands in my pockets or wearing gloves, using the excuse that my gangly frame did not provide enough warmth even in these summer months. Soon, however, my fingernails began to interfere with the gloves as well, and I had to clip them. Unfortunately, by that time, they had grown so long that it was difficult for me to hold a nail clipper. After much trying, I had the clipper gripped firmly in one hand and was positioning it over a nail on the opposite hand when said nail disappeared. In my astonishment, I dropped the clipper to the floor.
Spreading my hands out in front of my face, I found that I now had nine fingernails instead of ten. The tenth one had mystifyingly shrunk down to the skin surface. My abundant curiosity was understandably piqued, and when I felt along the length of the pruned digit, flexing and contracting it, the nail sprung forth again. I knew what'd happened this time, though. I felt the new muscle in my finger flex.
Attempting the same experiment on my other fingers garnered the same result. I could control the muscles and command my fingernails to shoot out or retract at will. Of course, by then I had to concede that they were no longer fingernails, but instead, claws. Normal humans don't have claws. I am a mutant.
Shortly after the development of my claws, my teeth started to pain me greatly. I observed with awe and not a little dread as my incisors grew to fang-length over the course of a week. The only way to hide my newest feature was to keep my mouth closed. I no longer smiled or laughed with my friends and teachers and no longer spoke clearly, instead preferring to mumble and keep my teeth hidden. A few people told me to speak up, but that was the extent of the attention this difference caused.
The next change I noticed was my eyes. The irises changed in hue from the brown I'd had since birth to a startling yellow. I could not ask my parents for color-altering contacts, so I settled for wearing sunglasses at all hours of the day. My parents, who hardly ever saw me anyway, never asked about this recent change in my appearance, but classmates made inquiries. Mr. Turner simply stated that I was trying to appear cool, as many children my age did. I hated that he'd reduced me yet again to a mere child in their eyes, but I let the explanation stand.
The worst part of my mutation developed next. I woke up one day and the peach fuzz on my cheeks had changed in color to a bright blue. I could not believe my eyes. Panicking, I stripped off my pajamas only to find that similar hair growth was starting in patches over the rest of my body.
Sneaking into my parents room while they were down at breakfast, I stole a disposable razor from my mother's supply and spent the next ten minutes shaving off the incriminating hair.
Two days later, the hair was growing all over my face, not just in the beard area, and my brown hair had started to show blue roots. I shaved my face as I had the past couple of days and then tried to shave around my nose and forehead. Suffice it to say, I was not entirely successful. I acquired several cuts and almost shaved my right eyebrow completely off.
Donning my winter cap and pulling it down low, I tried to hide the evidence of my shorn eyebrow. It didn't completely hide the missing hair, but my sunglasses with the large frames amply covered the defect. I dressed in a long sleeved shirt, pants, and my now customary gloves to hide the rest of the hair and my claws. My attire was extremely hot on this warm Spring day, but I had no other choice.
Not daring to miss my classes and attract undue attention, I instead sat at the back of class and made no contributions to the lesson hoping no one would look at me too closely. I hadn't been speaking up in class since my fangs had grown in, so no one commented on my lack of participation.
Finally, when my courses were over for the day, I stopped off at the college store and purchased a box of brown Just for Men hair color. Upon arriving home, I left my homework on the bed and went into my bathroom to dye out my roots. I was somewhat successful, although my hair did turn a darker shade of brown than I'd intended. After a few more failed attempts over the following weeks, I settled for cutting my hair shorter and wearing my hat all the time.
After the hair, I started to notice new, more advantageous alterations. My ears started to move higher on my head, but with that unusual rearrangement came sharper hearing. In addition, my vision became more acute and my olfactory abilities increased. The later was equally a gift and a curse. I could postulate a great deal from the scents of those around me including a rudimentary estimate of their emotions. However, some of the least agreeable smells seemed to be the easiest to detect.
Always a clumsy, awkward child, I started to notice an improvement in my coordination as well. Despite the fact that my hands and feet were growing larger, my balance was unaffected. In fact, as my toes grew larger, the big toes became opposable. I could actually hold a pen with my feet if I tried. I had to purchase new shoes and gloves every few weeks to compensate, but no one seemed to notice.
As the months passed, my camouflage techniques improved, but when summer arrived in full force, it was terribly difficult to remain so covered in the mind-numbing heat. I would rush home immediately after my summer courses and strip down to my underwear. The blue hair covering my body, which was more like fur now, couldn't be comfortably shaved away every day, but the heat of the fur underneath my clothes was so stifling I'm surprised I didn't sweat away into nothing.
Strangely enough, I was actually gaining more bulk. For the length of my childhood, I had been scrawny and small. Now, it seemed that no matter how many calories I ate or burned off in a day, they were all stored in my body. As I grew larger in all respects, I really began worrying about discovery. My parents were distant at best, but even they could not help but notice if their only child grew too large too fast.
I slouched, I even avoided my parents at every turn, but my efforts were in vain. Mother came into my room one afternoon, curious as to why I'd disappeared, only to find me stripped down my underwear, my mutation exposed.
Now, I sat completely covered in the shade of a tree which offered little protection from the summer heat, watching normal people pass by every few seconds. What made them so much better than me? Was I such a bad person? I'd been given an incredible gift with my I.Q., but I was trying to become a doctor and help others. I wasn't hurting anyone. Why did I have to be one of the mutants who couldn't pass?
Over the years since mutations were discovered, America has followed several public policies. Currently, there's an informal "don't ask, don't tell" rule. If mutants can pass as normal people, they can live in regular society. Otherwise, they're looked down upon and discriminated against. I'll never pass. Maybe in a colder climate where I can stay covered and not attract suspicion, I might be able to live some sort of life, but not here. Maybe Alaska.
For a person who's never really experienced life on the road, I was rather proud of the way I handled myself. I wasn't even mugged until I got to Toronto.
They took all my money, but I was able to keep my bag. They weren't that interested in it once I got the gloves off and released my claws. I even tried to get my money back, but instead of scratching skin, my claws caught on the fabric of the boy holding my wallet. I lost two of them when he yanked himself out of my grasp. Sharper pain I have never experienced than when my claws were pulled out.
It took weeks of careful attention before the wounds healed and the claws grew back. I was terrified I'd get an infection and die out on the streets, but I was able to keep the injuries clean in the less than sanitary conditions in which I lived.
With my money gone, I had to rely on hitchhiking for my transportation and the kindness of strangers or back alley dumpsters for my meals. I never thought I'd be capable of falling so low that I'd look forward to my dumpster dinners, but when I was dropped at the side of the road months later once the trucker I'd been riding with discovered my mutation, I was wishing for any sort of sustenance.
He'd left me literally in the middle of nowhere. A road sign I came upon after walking for miles on the deserted road informed me that the next town was 53 kilometers away. I was in the Yukon, so close to my goal of Alaska, but I was starting to doubt I'd ever make it.
I had, however, finally found a place where my fur and regular clothes no longer kept me warm. In fact, I think I might just freeze to death before I reach the next town if I don't get help. It was starting to snow and the wind was building. I couldn't remain out here by the road, exposed to the elements, but I feared that if I left and searched for shelter in the woods, I would get lost and eventually die.
Before I could make a decision between my two discouraging options, another one presented itself. A black minivan appeared, approaching me in the opposite direction from which I was walking. I waved my hands back and forth, signalling to the occupants, and to my surprise and relief, the vehicle stopped.
The driver's side window rolled down, and I found myself face to face with a gruff, hardened man. His hair and sideburns were wild, out of control, and he had a large cigar clutched between his teeth. Of all the types of people I could imagine driving a minivan, he would never even appear on my list. It seemed completely contrary to the rest of his appearance.
"Hey, kid. Need a ride?" he asked, his voice as rough as his features.
Do I need a ride? Most definitely, but do I dare risk taking up the offer of such an intimidating person?
I found myself examining his features more closely, and I discovered that even though the rest of him screamed at me to stay away, his hazel eyes were gentle and warm. I breathed his scent deeply and discovered that below the aroma of the cigar, his essence was concerned, compassionate, perhaps even kind.
"C'mon, sugah. We'll get you out of this snow storm," a female voice invited.
I hadn't even noticed her sitting next to the almost frightening man, but when I saw her, all my fears dissipated. She must've been in her late-twenties or early-thirties, and the smile on her face was so sweet and open I couldn't help but feel safe. This must be her minivan. They must be a couple and she asked him to pull over. Most convincing, though, was the white streak in her hair. Unless it was a new fashion statement I wasn't quite familiar with, she was a mutant.
"Thank you for your kind and most fortuitous offer," I said, walking around the minivan to the sliding door on the woman's side and climbing into the vehicle. They weren't going my way, but they'd at least get me to a town before I froze to death. I could start back for Alaska at another time.