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Flights of Fancy 01

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Flights of Fancy Castles in th
 · 26 Apr 2019

  



Burnt Norton

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable,
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.

What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden.

-T. S. Eliot

Note from the Editor:

I would like to welcome you all to the first issue of Flights of Fancy: Castles in the Air; a place where we can share stories and poetry about Beauty and the Beast. Keep on living the Dream! Thanks, everyone for your patience with this 'zine. And, as always, I'm looking for submissions for the next issue, titled Flights of Fancy: Dreams and Diaries, due out June 1. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome, and encouraged.

Susan

Via Internet e-mail:

sjgavula@css.itd.umich.edu(please use this address)
sjgavula@terminator.rs.itd.umich.edu
Susan_Gavula@um.cc.umich.edu

or GEnie mail
S.GAVULA

Via Snail Mail:

Susan Gross Gavula
3143 Homestead Commons #3
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Flights of Fancy: Castles in the Air Issue 1, 25 pgs is available hardcopy, bound, with artwork by Inez Brown, Tom Dow, Sandy Shelton, and Susan Gavula for $7.00. Please make checks payable to Susan Gross.



Contents
From the Editor

Poetry : The Crystal Cave by Susan Gavula
Those above/Those below by David Cotelessa
Love is...by Susan Gavula


Prose: Reflections in a Cat's Eye by Linda L. Fenicchia
The Ordeal by Susan Gavula
Sweet Repose by Arwen Bauer
Shades of Grey No More by Susan Gavula


(c) Copyright 1991,1992 by Susan Gavula. Not meant to infringe upon the copyrights held by Witt/Thomas Productions, Republic Pictures or any other holder of copyrights in any way.


The Crystal Cave

Shimmering peaks
Dazzling colors,
Blinding richness,
A jewel-toned rainbow.

Dull gray rock
Look at the underside to see
Hidden beauty...
Sparkling crystal.

A world to explore
In the mind's eye,
Go whither ye will.

-Susan Gavula

---
Those above/Those below

(A small poem based on the
Spiraling Staircase
at the beginning of the show,
"Beauty and the Beast")

Beyond the sewer stench,
blue, dark, wet, and modern,
Lies a spiraling staircase,
old, warm, bright and red.

Under the sky, the city lights
Carries the freaks.
Spinning down the depths
The Earth holds wonders.

Is there hope for those above
sinking themselves lower to the ground?
Is there help for those below
raising their eyes to the roof?

Maybe the beauty will sink below the concrete
At the top of the stairs.
Maybe the beast will rise above the surface
Taking his first flight up.

-David Cotelessa

Love is...

Love is the warmth of the sun,
Radiant and bright,
Reflected in your eyes.

Love is the fullness of the moon,
Magical and healing,
Reflected in your heart.

Love is the brightness of the stars,
Distant and shining,
Reflected in your soul.

-Susan Gavula

____




REFLECTIONS IN A CAT'S EYE

by Linda L. Fenicchia
( e-mail: llf.henr801c@xerox.com )




Nothing like a relaxing hot bath to sooth frayed nerves after a
stressful day at work; I could stay right here forever, just soaking in
these luxurious, rich foamy bath bubbles, or at least until tomorrow -
my unexpected, bonus day off. Joe insisted I take that time, to just
enjoy life a bit, after the grueling week we'd just spent, tracking
down new evidence and witnesses. He was right of course, this
current workload was starting to take its toll on me. Perhaps I do
take my role as assistant DA, a bit too seriously at times. I've let
myself get so consumed in case work, that I've hardly been able to
just sit and relax anymore, much less read a good book. Let's face it
Cath, old girl, it's up to me to make the time. I can laugh now, at
what Joe had said earlier, almost wittily, "There's a whole different
world out there, Radcliff, outside these dingy, dreary office walls, just
waiting to be explored. So, get going Chandler!" Yes, Joe Maxwell,
there is. If you only knew just how very very different.. yet, so very
real..so different..yet so real..so..what? What was I just thinking? I
must have dozed for a second..something about... Well, no matter, I'm
so, so sleepy..got to get up..mustn't fall asleep in this tepid bath
water.

In a trance-like stupor, I walked, crawled, yet surely floated into
bed, surrendering my body to its soft airy contours; I drifted into
that secret place, where one deeply settles only after all else has
been surrendered. Within that twilight I rested peacefully, until an
intermittent yet familiar tapping sound stimulated my thinking. I
must get up; I must go to him at once! With an intensity of will, I
fought fervently to free myself from sleep's firm grasp, but the more
I labored the worse it became, like a rope being drawn more tightly
around me, pulling me deeper, ever deeper toward the point of no
return. I struggled desperately within myself to utter just one
redeeming word, and as the name finally escaped my lips, a power
beyond myself swiftly brought me back to my physical, earthly
reality.

With renewed energy and the pounding heart of childlike
expectation, I visited the balcony, our semi-shrouded nocturnal
haven. My eyes quickly focused then blurred into the icy formless
night air; while the distant sounds of a never sleeping city permeated
my senses. Standing quite bewildered and sadly disappointed, I was
about to retreat to the warmth from within, when I felt something
brush softly past my cold bare feet. Looking down I beheld a most
beautiful orange-colored, tom-sized tabby. As I slowly bent down to
scoop him up into my arms, he inched his way back toward the far
wall. How did he climb up so many flights, I pondered. He seemed
well nourished and healthy; yet I sensed that this was one cat who
was very much used to fending for himself.

"How did you get up this far, little fellow? Did a friend bring you?"
I paused, for a moment, to contemplate that idea, and couldn't help
but chuckle; but where was Vincent? "Please, don't be afraid."
Taking an inquisitive stance, he eyed me cautiously, curiously, while
remaining stoically silent. "It's ok; just wait here and I'll get you a
nice warm bowl of milk." But as I half suspected, when I returned, he had mysteriously vanished.

With little struggle, I managed to drift softly back to sleep, until
once again that so familiar rapping sound penetrated my peaceful
slumber.Vincent! Catching my breath I felt my heart stop for a
moment, as I stepped into our safe starry sanctum. This time I
wasn't disappointed. Powerful but gentle arms embraced me as I
buried myself deep within the sweet warm shelter of his radiant
love. A love so selfless that it sought only to give - thoughtfully,
gently, never seeking in return.

As the dawn of day intruded, once more our hearts were bathed in
sorrow, but mine, much more over how very despairingly his had
yielded. With strong conviction, I avowed, "Vincent, someday
nothing, NOTHING will ever separate us; NO, not ever again; I won't
let it! We will surmount all barriers, even invisible ones; you must
believe that. This has been our hope - our dream; one day this will
be our reality. Please know that it will." Then our eyes exchanged
heart's yearnings and our arms that sorrowed last embrace, while
two knowing eyes blinked out from within the entrance to the
balcony's sewage drain pipe.

At last, the promised day of freedom had arrived. I had planned
on descending to the tunnels down below, to surprise Vincent, but as
fate would have it, the early pangs of a flu had come upon me. Yes
Joe, I really needed this day off, but as to exploring different worlds
- not today. I plan to stay tucked snugly in bed, sipping mug after
mug of hotcreamery spiced tea with the likes of Chopin, Mozart, and
Beethoven; pure melodious heaven!

As night approached, once again my mind was completely
consumed with thoughts of him and of heartfelt longing. I even
welcomed sleep's rhythmic lulling: for I knew that, somehow, even
from within that deep dark slumbering place where all need dwell,
he waits - my knight, my KING, and I his lady fair. "Vincent, know
this: that what you are is what I am; where you are is where I long
to be. Nothing need ever separate us."

Entombed now, within an inert reposeful state, I sensed his
faraway voice lovingly calling, putting me at conflict once again with
what should be - yet isn't.With the pangs of radical yearning, I
waged a surreal battle against the limits of time and distance.
Transcending beyond a physical embodiment, I became as free and
light as a wind swept feather, no longer bound by earthly
constraints. Drawn through space and shadows of uneven blinding
darkness (yet strangely aware of my fleeting surroundings), a
sensation of marvelous, awesome yet fearful wonder consumed my
being. Mercifully kept beyond evil's corruptive grasp, I was
lifted high above the earth, past the stars and up toward the
heavens, as I neared the boarder to infinity, where thoughts truly
give birth to substance. Then, in a twinkling, my head came to rest
upon the silky softness of his huge warm chest. "Your tender purr,
my sweet one, is such soothing music." Expressions of love flowed
freely between us, as I strained to pull myself upward, seeking to
press my lips softly against his. Hopefully, the limitations of time had
not followed me here.

His purr? That vibratory tone blended into the voice of time,
jolting me fully conscious. My pure contentment shattered, I lapsed
into self defeating pity, until gradually I sensed his presence.
Peering down the length of my bed, my heaviness completely lifted.
But how? Oh, yes the window. It had been a bit stuffy earlier, I
must have forgotten to close it.

"Well, hello. You really are full of surprises. I don't think we were
ever properly introduced. My name is Catherine. What did you say
yours was, or didn't you say? Please, talk to me." He laid there; now
wide eyed, but still completely ignoring my question. "A secret, huh?
That's ok; I like mysteries, I'm a detective of sorts, you know."

I carefully studied his proud regal manner, then my eyes locked
onto his intense fixed stare. A liquidly, shadow-filled image
rebounded -reflections in a cat's eye. A compelling thought now
infiltrated my thinking, strongly proclaiming: "Certain freedoms are
forever lost, by even the mention, yes, even the mere mention of
only a name."

"Certain freedoms are forever lost..now that's an interesting notion",
I interjected, as I discreetly inched my fingers a bit further down the
bed, "but not something I can quite grasp for so early in the morning."

Still eying me, he pressed forward, to rhythmically maneuver his
head beneath the palm of my now outstretched hand. "Oh, so you
want your head scratched a bit. You're not too subtle," I teased in
wonder. Now purring like a small but steady outboard motor, he
signaled his approval, as I thoroughly obliged him. Then just as
determined, he turned and sprang toward the wide opened window.
"Wait! Please, stay for just a few more moments;" but he refused to
give even the slightest reply.

With a few hours left of darkness, I tried to answer sleep's beckon,
but it was hopeless; I had too much on my mind to think about.
Like, what's in a name? My mind drifted once more to thoughts of
him. What is his REAL name? Was it T.S. Eliot who said that a cat
has three names. Let me see, I put that book somewhere.. Yes, here
it is. I quickly flipped through the well turned pages, until my eyes
came to rest on the passage in question(1).

"First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James.

[Ah, the name our parents gave us..]

"But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he..
cherish his pride?

[Perhaps..yes, the name we later give ourselves..]

"But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover ---
BUT THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess."


My mind consciously drifted into reflective speculation, until it
struck me. Yes, I recall it now - an old saying - I think it went something like this: that to know someone's name, that is, their true real name, was to somehow lay claim..to their soul! Now that's an enchanting notion. Perhaps there comes a time, when the Father above calls a name only he could have given. A unique name, a most distinct name. A name no one else on this whole earth could possibly know - except the inner part of who we really are. Death may merely be our responding to that singular call.

I arose and flung open the balcony doors, pausing to breath in the
intoxicating aroma of fresh washed night air. Still amazed, that as
little children behold - in awe and wonder - their first christmas
bright, I beheld this vibrant city's glimmering bulbs of light. Then, to
my astonished delight, HE was there, reposing solemnly in the
shadows. As I reached out to draw him closer, strong arms encircled
me, caressed me, led me to the place I never tired to go.

Tenderly he breathed a soft warm whisper, "Catherine, my lady
fair, my Queen: what you are is what I am; where you are is where I
too shall be. Truly, nothing shall ever separate us."

With our point of contact never broken, I drew back ever so
slightly. Concentrating all of my efforts, I fixed my eyes upon his
intense penetrating stare. Transcending beyond a glassy reflection, I
found myself completely submerged in his reality. From the focus of
a mighty rushing wind, strange words were spoken that only a
hearing heart could ponder. Words that no human voice could utter.
Thoughts gave birth to substance; two souls now claimed as one.



Quoted Reference:

(1) T.S. Eliot, OLD POSSUMS'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS, excerpt
taken from "THE NAMING OF CATS", (H. B. Jovanovich,1978), p.1


____

The Ordeal
by Susan Gavula

Catherine had been missing for an eternity, it seemed. Vincent was a
man posessed. He seldom ate, he slept only when exhaustion claimed
him. He acted like one who's soul was ripped away, spending most of
the day staring at the portrait that Christopher Gentian had painted
of the two of them. He used to look at it and marvel at its creation,
but now all he saw in it was images of Catherine. He became little
more than a haggard shell of himself. Every night he searched the
city Above for a trace of his lady.

One evening during his search, he heard a female voice call out his
name. He was about to run for cover when he recognized the voice.
It was Lucy, the woman who had helped him return Below when he
was beaten by the Silks and could not see to find his way home to
the Tunnels.

"Vincent, honey, what are you doin' down here? This neighborhood
ain't safe, even for the likes of you."

He smiled at her concern, then he answered, "Lucy, I am here
searching for Catherine. She has been taken from me and if that
were not torture enough...she is with child."

"Oh, god..how awful! How far along is she?"

"Seven months.."

"Maybe I can help, y'know girls like me...we hear lots of secrets."

He answered, "Lucy thank you for your offer.." and then he told her
how to contact him.

"I remember her...she was real classy and she loved you so
much...see, she came to see me a couple of days after you got
home...to say thank you...I saw how much she loved you..."

Two days later there was a message for Vincent...

"Vincent..." He started toward her when he heard her voice, but she
said, "No, honey, please don't..I don't want you to see me like this."

He ignored her words and went up to her. It looked like she'd been
brutally attacked. Her face was bruised, and it looked like there were
marks on her wrists. The way she was holding herself looked as though she
was in a great deal of pain. "Lucy..."

"Vincent, one of my customers got a little rough, thatÕs all. I was out
workin' the south end of the neighborhood, and I met this guy....I
thought he was some kind of cop or something, and you know, we
need all the friends we can get." she said with a rueful smile.

"I acted real interested in him so he starts tryin' to impress
me... He tells me he's a security guard for some guy who's even more
powerful than that Elliot Burch, so I asked him where he worked. He
wouldn't tell me at first, but over a few drinks he said that he
worked at that big building in Manhattan, you know that real tall
one, the one that you see those helicopters land on.. he says that's how his boss comes in every day...."

"Well, I got real friendly and over more drinks, he told me that he
was guarding some pregnant lady...real pretty...he said..."

Vincent interrupted her frantically, "Lucy, where is this place? Take me there....I must find Catherine ... I've got to find her....."

"Vincent, listen to me, you can't do it alone. You need help. Is there
anyone who you can trust to help you get this guy and save
Catherine?"

"There is one who may be persuaded.." he answered, more calmly
now that the sense of Lucy's words had penetrated his desperate
mind. "Come, we will see if he will do so..."

Later that evening , they contacted Elliot Burch. Elliot was working
late..when he heard footsteps outside his office.


"Who's there?"

"A friend..."

"Come out from the shadows if you're a friend.."

"I cannot...just trust me...I mean you no harm...I need your help...for
Catherine's sake please..."

Elliot walked closer to the darkened corner where the voice was
coming from. "Catherine, god, Cathy, where is she ? I've been
looking for her for six months, all the best private detectives couldn't
find a trace of her." Then he stopped and said, "Wait a minute, who
are you?"

Lucy came out from the corner and stood in front of Vincent, saying,
"Mr Burch, please, you've got to help us. I know where she is but
we can't save her without your help."

Elliot looked a bit beweildered by the sudden appearance of a
blond-haired woman who had obviously seen too much in this life. "And who are you? and by the way who is your friend?"

"I'm Lucy. Miss Chandler helped me out one time, and I'd like to
return the favor. And this," she said, indicating the hooded form
behind her, "is Vincent. Now, don't come any closer..." she warned.

"Fine.. " he said, with a sigh. "Now, where is Cathy?"

When they described the building she was being held in, Elliot's eyes
darkened and he put a name to the madman who had been ruling
their lives for what seemed like eternity. "Gabriel! He...he's insane,
if he has her, there's no telling what he will do to her."

"We have a plan, but we need your help, Elliot." said Vincent quietly.

"What do you want me to do?"

"If you and Lucy can distract the guards, I will be able to get
Catherine out. There will be a van waiting in the alley for our
escape."

"Please, Mr Burch..."

Eliott heard the desperation in their voices. He knew they were telling the truth so he ignored that part of him that thought for a moment that this was some kind of cruel joke. It was strange all right, but then there had always been something about Cathy, ever since she had burst into his office asking for plastique, of all things! He made his decision.

"I think we can handle that, right Lucy?"

"Right."
* * *

Lucy ran to the door of the huge building and began to pound on the
door, screaming "John, John....please help me, he's going to kill me!"

"Miss Lucy? sweetie? C'mon Pete,she ain't goin' anywhere." he said
indicating the still figure sleeping on the bed that they'd been
watching every night for the past six months. "That's my girl out
there screamin' , and she's in trouble!"

As they burst through the doors, Elliot hit John from behind, and he
crumpled to the ground. Not to be outdone, Lucy sprayed her ready
can of mace in the other guard's eyes.

"What the ....my eyes, shit! You bitch!" Pete tried to lunge after Lucy,
but she kicked him in such a way that he fell doubled over and
cursing.

"Good work! Let's get these guys properly taken care of." Elliot said
as he quickly handcuffed the still unconscious, John, and took his gun
from its holster. Then he helped Lucy do the same to the other
guard after making his tie into an effective gag for the feebly
struggling man.

They went into the building and Lucy began to hunt for something.
"Come on, help me find the video recorder! And don't ask questions!"
They searched and searched, opening all the cabinets until they
found the video surveillance equipment. Lucy took careful aim and
shot until it was completely disabled.

"There can't be any record that we were here." she said, in answer to
his unspoken question. And now to make sure that they donÕt come after us." She held up a little packet of white powder, wrapped in tissue. "It is his, has his finger prints all over it." she explained. "I stole it from him tonight, earlier."

"You really are good, Lucy." said Elliott approvingly. "Now, letÕs get out of here."

"No, you go on, get them home safe. IÕm going to call the cops, I think after they see my bruises, and the marks on my wrists and...well, IÕll just say, I think theyÕll believe me."

"If you need help or anything, you call me, okay?"

"Okay, I will. Now, get going!"

The last thing the monitor showed before it went blank, was the
incredulous look of joy on Catherine's face as a tall, hooded figure
bent to carefully pick her up.


_____

Sweet Repose
by Arwen Bauer

Vincent tossed aside the towel, sat down on his bed, and felt his hair- damp, but not so wet as to sog up the pillows. Good enough. He was so tired after all the work today that he might even sleep soundly tonight. It seemed as if Catherine had been gone forever; yet her plane had taken off only forty-eight hours ago. Two days down, two to go. Somehow those hours stretched into an eternity of missing her smile, the sound of her voice, her scent- well that he could do something about, anyway.

Almost guiltily, Vincent reached under his largest pillow and pulled out a heavy hand-knit cardigan. Stroking it lovingly, he brought it up to his face to fill his nostrils with Catherine's sweet fragrance.

Perfume, yes, but beneath that, a rich complex trace that wove its way along his nerves and through his memories. For him, CatherineÕs lovely face and sparkling grey-green eyes were only part of her appearance. Just as individual and precious was ths evocative aroma that sent small ripples of arousal into his belly. He continued to caress the rough textured fabric with his cheeks as he slid further under his covers, eyes already sliding closed. As he drifted into
loving dreams of holding Catherine on their balcony, he unconsciously chinned the sweater as he would Catherine's's hair. A very soft purr began deep in his chest as his fingers commenced a rhythmic flexation, gently gripping and loosing.

That quiet, throaty rumble allowed Catherine to find her lover even in the faint light shed by the one night candle. The flood of joy and tenderness pouring through her momentarily held the fatigue at bay. Somehow, his anxiety at her absence had infected here even in Texas. Unease caused her to work on Joe's depositions and research at a frenzied pace so she could hurry back home to Vincent. Well, the drug-smuggling case was neatly written up and dropped off on Joe's desk. One red-eye special later, here she was. As tired as she felt, that little nagging thread of worry wouldn't let her relax until she
saw with her own eyes that Vincent was safe and sound.

Moving closer, she saw the dark tangle of cloth wrapped around his hands and wondered: "What...Oh, that was her sweater, the one that Mary had made for her." She had been so touched at the thoughtful gesture, and could feel how much affection and good wishes were woven into the knit. It made her feel like part of a family again. "But what was Vincent doing with it?" She had left it with Mary in case someone else needed it before she came Below again. "He couldn't be cold, there were plenty of blankets folded at the foot of his bed."

As she drew close enough to see him clearly, she noticed his slow-moving fingers and suddenly understood. He's kneading it like a kitten does for comfort, or for mother's milk." Tears stung her eyes and overflowed down her cheeks as the depths of loneliness he must be feeling struck her heart. He hadn't asked her not to go; just begged her to be careful so far away from his protection. And all the while, heÕd missed her so, and had only her sweater to console him.

As if her grief had called to him aloud, Vincent stirred and whispered, "Catherine..."

His voice spurred her into movement, and without further thought, she stripped off her shoes and outer clothing. Dumping them in a heap, she tiptoed shivering to his bedside and ever-so-gently lifted one corner of the blankets to slide in next to Vincent, while trying not to wake him.

"Ohhh....what a lovely warm cocoon, and it feels so good to stretch out and relax!" She barely restained a startled jump when Vincent rolled closer and wrapped his arms around her. "Mmmm, this was heavenly. Now, if only her icy feet didn't jolt him awake she could stay like this forever, or at least a good eight hours." The quiet purr began again as Vincent began to reflexively knead the soft flesh at Catherine's waist. All the tension drained away from the two entertwined figures and both slipped into deep restful sleep.
Catherine's last blurry thought was, "Hope father doesn't decide to just walk in here. I'm sure he'd consider this a compromising position and demand that I 'make an honest man' of his son. Hey- maybe I do hope he walks in!"

However, the first person to peek into Vincent's room the next morning was Mary. She had been going to invite him to share breakfast with her; he'd seemed so dispirited when he stopped by her room to borrow Catherine's sweater. The sight of Catherine, engulfed in Vincent's embrace, bodies curled together like spoons, brought a pleased sparkle to her eyes. Maybe those two
were finally beginning to follow their hearts. Anyone could see that the love they shared was real, and love like that was worth everything. She sighed, diverted for a moment by a faint dream of her own. The sight of the sweater on the floor beside his bed merely brought a wide smile to her face. Those two didn't need her knitting to keep them warm they had each other, and their love.
____





SHADES OF GREY NO MORE
by Susan Gavula

Jenny was dreaming; she was somewhere underground... Wherever it was... it was filled with candle-light, for there were candles all around. As she looked around in the dim lighting,, she realized that she was in a large chamber filled with books.

Then she heard a familliar voice say, "Jenny?"

"Cathy? where are you? we've been so worried."

"Jen, I'm fine...and happier than I've ever been. " as she stepped out of the shadows, Jenny noticed a tall figure in a long black cloak, his face obscured by a black hood.

* * *


She was sitting on a park bench in Central Park, taking a few minutes out of her hectic schedule to enjoy the beautiful day, when a voice broke her reverie.

"Hello Jenny."

She glanced up startled, to see the tall, ruggedly handsome figure of Elliot Burch standing in front of her, "Mr. Burch...I mean Elliot..hello.. how are you?"

"I'm fine. he answered. May I join you?" Jenny was not convinced by his quick reply. To her eyes, Elliot looked tired and lonely. She wondered if he still missed Cathy... Jenny wished he'd tell her where she was but she understood that Cathy was probably still traumatized by her ordeal.

As he sat beside her, she offered him a bite of her sandwich, saying, "You look like you haven't eaten in weeks."

"Sure I have." he replied.

"I bet you have a new project starting and you're so caught up in your work that you forget to eat, right?" she said the words lightly, but she was worried about him. If the truth be known, she was lonely, too.

That was how it started between them...a chance meeting in the park..soon they were seeing each other every day...lunch in the park when schedules permitted... or late night dinners at her appartment. Sometimes she would visit his office when he was working late on one of his projects.

Mostly they talked, he told her about the first time he realized that he was going to be an architect..his joy when the first building he designed came to life. She shared with him her happiness when that first old house had been rennovated completely.

Later he told her of his childhood, growing up the only son of an immigrant seaman. She in turn, shared stories from her youth, the oldest of two daughters. She'd worked her way through school with an intensity that matched Elliot's own.

Then one evening over dinner, she asked him about Catherine. "Elliot,
where is she, how is she, is she happy?"

"Cathy is fine. She is safe and very happy now. I'm sorry, I can't say anything more. I wish I could tell you... but the safety of too many people is at stake."

"I understand...when the time is right she'll come back to us. Would you do something for me...give her this box the next time you see her. It has all of the porcelain roses her mother used to collect, and her books. I know that wherever she is she'd want these. "

"Thanks, Jenny. I know she will be very glad to have these back."

They discovered they shared the same wry sense of humor as well as their intense passion for creation. His passion was to create great towering structures that dwarfed the skyline.with their majesty. Hers was to fill the shell of such buildings, to make the space comfortable and beautiful as well as functional.

One day, he asked her to attend a concert in the park with him. As they sat there under the stars, listening to the music, neither knew that Vincent and Catherine were cuddled together in the tunnel that ran just underneath the first row of seats, enjoying the same music.

* * *
The concerts in the Park remained as special to the lovers as they had been during the years in which they had lived loving, but apart. Catherine's head was pillowed on his chest, his arms wrapped around her protectively. His heavy black cloak was draped over them both as they sat and listened to the strains of Vivaldi's Four Seasons flow into the night.

She sat there thinking back to good times they'd shared, from that first night when he'd appeared on her balcony, and they sat together and finished the last chapter of Great Expectations, their magic evening on Halloween, to all the times she'd been a guest at their Shakespeare productions...well, she was a guest no longer.
This was her world too. She smiled at the thought.

"Catherine?" he said, quietly, his voice a soft velvet whisper.

"Yes, Vincent?"

"You look lovely tonight." She was wearing a blue velvet dress with an open neckline. The only ornament she wore was the crystal on the chain which he'd given her. The loveliest thing about her though, was her eyes; they sparkled with joy watching him.

"What were you thinking a moment ago?"

"I was just thinking that I am glad to be a part of your world."

"Catherine.."the sound of his voice was a warm caress, infinitely gentle, completely loving, " being with you here..is a dream come true..I never thought that I would know such happiness. You and Jacob are my world, my everything."

Even after all this time...all they had been through...his words, and the force of love that lay beneath them, still took her breath away. She looked up into his sapphire-blue eyes, and touched his cheek.

* * *
Elliot Burch had a problem...he was falling in love with Jenny. He had grown to know and love this extrordinarily sensitive driven woman through their time together. Jenny was a creature of the bright warm sunlight, how could she ever grow to care for a man such as he...the only colors he had known for so long were just shades of grey.

After he dropped Jenny off at her appartment with a promise to meet her in the park for a picnic lunch the next day, he went back to the park. He needed to talk with someone about the feelings.

When he got to the entrance, he tapped the message as Vincent had shown him..within moments he was there. "Elliot? is something amiss?"

Vincent took in Elliot's disheveled appearance. He smiled warmly at this driven man who's intensity rivaled Vincent's own. He realized that what ever it was, it had to be something important enough for hm to have lost track of time, but what...?

Then it came to him...Elliot was falling in love..!

Elliot followed Vincent inside, feeling the warmth of the Tunnels envelope him.

"Come, we can share a pot of tea."

"Its Jenny.."

"Catherine's friend..."

"Yes, we've been seeing each other...I have feelings for her...she's brought light into my life..a light that hasn't been there since Cathy..." it was a mark of their friendship that he did not finish the sentence. He went on, "but how could she love someone like me...I never should have gotten involved with her."

"Elliot...at one time you valued things...your creations, more than people, but you have changed. Without your help I would never have been able to find Catherine. Does she care for you?

"What kind of a question is that?"

"You know the answer...you just have not realized it yet. It is time for you to let love back in your life. "

* * *

Some months later, Elliot took Jenny out to dinner. As they ate, they talked of little things. Jenny noticed that he seemed nervous... the unflappable Elliot Burch nervous? "Elliot what's wrong?"

"I want to ask you something and I Ôm just not sure how to do it...(Vincent always says, follow your heart) he thought. )"I love you and want to spend my life with you....Jenny, will you be my wife?" Then he reached inside his jacket pocket for a little box which he handed her. She opened it to find the most beautiful diamond ring. He took the ring out of the box and put it on her finger. As he did so,
the candle-light reflected off the diamond sending multi-colored sparks flying every which way.

"Yes.. Elliot..You've made me so happy.."

He carefully put the ring on her finger and then he kissed her. "Come on, I have a surprise for you. He took her down to the park. As they walked in the moonlight, she said, "It really is beautiful out here, but why are we walking towards those old steam tunnels?" , she asked, puzzled.

"You'll see..I don't want to ruin your surprise."

When they got to the tunnel, Mouse was waiting for them. When he saw Elliot, he smiled hugely, and even Arthur chittered a greeting from his perch on Mouse's shoulder. Mouse had become friends with him after he found out about the tunnel cave-in and the episode with plastique, and his talent for making things.

To Mouse, Elliot was someone very good at finding and taking things...and he understood how important it was for Mouse to find just the right gizmo for hisprojects. More and more, when Elliot visited the tunnels, he could be found in the Mouse-Hole, offering suggestions and help to the eager, young but slightly scatter-brained, inventor.

"Hello Mouse.."

"Told Mouse it was important to watch for you tonight," he said as he smiled guilessly at them.

"Jenny this is Mouse, and Arthur, " he added, indicating the raccoon perched on the young manÕs shoulder. He watched her take in the surroundings, the dark tunnels underground with no sense of fear. She was acting as if this was as common a meeting place as Central Park.

"Hi, Mouse, Arthur. "

"Okay good, okay fine come on."

As they walked down the passageway leading to the inhabited chambers in the Tunnels, Jenny realized that sheÕd seen them before, but she couldnÕt remember where.

When Elliot asked, "So, whatÕs the latest project?" Mouse beamed. He loved talking about his machines and projects to Elliot because he took the young man seriously and he was very good at finding and taking just the right things. Unbeknownst to Mouse, Elliot had been getting some very strange looks from the supplier of his latest building for some of the requisitions from the 'boss'. He was
getting quite a reputation as an excentric, but an excentric who made money, he mused with a smile.

Mouse frowned, "Need to fix pipes for Pascal. One from south tunnel broke, very bad. Don't have right stuff to fix it, and Father won't let Mouse go Above to take parts."

Elliot turned to Jenny to explain, "The south tunnel is where all the children's chambers are, and the pipes allow them to communicate... send messages back and forth."

"Or to call for help in case of trouble, I see, so that's what all that tapping is...I was wondering."

"Exactly.." he went on, "Mouse, I'll come back tomorrow and see what I can do to help...now, promise me that you won't take anything from Above, ok?"

Mouse sighed, didn't they uderstand that there was so much that the world above would never miss...not stealing...just taking.."Okay good..., okay fine, promise."

Finally, Mouse led them to a large chamber. "Okay Jenny, time for your surprise."

"Jenny.." said a familliar voice.

"Cathy? my god Cathy...it is you! "As Jenny stared at her friend, she
noticed that Catherine was dressed in the same fashion as Mouse
and probably most of the other folks in the tunnels, a combination of
medieval-style garb remade frome someone's castoffs from the
world Above. But for all that, she had never seen Catherine look
happier. Then she realized why this place had looked familiar...this
was what she had seen in her dream.

The two friends hugged each other happily, and then Catherine stepped back. She said, "There's someone I want you to meet."

Jenny saw a tall figure almost completely hidden in the shadows step out. He had long golden hair, but she could not see his face..it was still half-hidden in shadow. he was tall, she could see that, and in his arms he held a small cloth-wrapped bundle.

"This is Vincent...and this is our son, Jacob."

As Jenny looked up, she was caught in Vincent's warm sapphire gaze. She
met his eyes and smiled at him, never once showing fear or revulsion at his appearance. All at once, it became clear to her, Vincent must have been the one who found Cathy after she'd been attacked and had her face slashed. He must have brought her down her to heal for those ten days when she was missing, and looking at the two of them, Jenny realized that they were deeply in love.

"Hello, Jenny, " he said, smiling, "I suspect that congratulations are in order from the look on both your faces."

"Yes, we are engaged, " she answered as Elliot put his arm around her waist possesively.

"We knew you'd say yes, but Elliott was not quite so sure." added Catherine with a smile.

"Cathy, don't give away all my secrets." He protested, laughing a bit.

"Come inside and let's catch up with each other, Jen. I'm sorry I couldn't let you know where I was until now. I've missed you. We'll fill you in on everything."

They talked until the wee hours of the morning. Jenny was shocked at the things the three of them had been through.

"I'm glad you all got home safe." she said quietly when they finished the story.

"Home safe, just like in the storybooks we used to read as kids. "

And they all lived happily ever after.





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