Alan Rickman Flights of Fancy

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Scene: The famed Rose Garden at Delaford.

In close-up, a tiny black beetle, its bent arched legs nearing the leafy goal of the strawberry beds which border fully one-third of the legendary throngs of roses cultivated in the warm shadows of the Manor House, which at this earlier time of day have only begun to peek round the larger corners of architecture and statuary.

Shiny red berries sleep in clusters of small leaves, laying their heavy heads in rest as if the exertion of the long days and nights of growth have come to an end, and they are entitled to bask in their glory before being collected for the plates of families and guests who come to Delaford.

As the camera pulls back, revealing flagstones of varying grey neatly fitted and weedlessly mapped through the garden walkways, we see two sundressed figures--no, not with skins bared naked to the sun--but wrapped in lightweight, colorful thin-strapped chemiserie, little more than robes in fact, yet somehow these two women manage to look like they have slipped out from the between the pages of a fashion magazine appealing to readers who are unconcerned with artificial beauty, prizing natural grace and honest laughter instead.

One with shorter hair, willowy, delicate: Mary Anne. One with longer hair which twines and twists in all directions: Renie.

We see them walk, gesture, chat with animation. We hear only the songs of birds, the buss of bees, the hum of the garden.

They are set against the tall rose bushes, some hedgerow, some tall and mighty, some rounded and full like characters in a Dickens novel. Blossoms explode in bright red, fiery red, orange-red, red with yellow, pale red, red-pink, red edged in pink, dappled in pink, red violet, blood red, ruby red, red yellow, and reddleman red. Those are not all the reds, just the reds from the northwest corner.

The skin of their petals, from velvet to silk, sends out a battery of scents which bathe the garden in heavenly unseen clouds.

The two friends walk in the clouds.

As the camera turns the corner, a small table, set with strawberries and champagne, and baked pastries from the Manor House ovens. Cushioned chairs, a pair.

"A picnic--" Renie begins.

Mary Anne smiles at the homage.

"--for your birthday, dearest."
Happy Birthday Mary Anne! -- June 21, 2014, - Friday, June 20, 2014 at 01:41:24 PM (EDT)

Giving thanks, as usual, for all my FoF family who have been so kind to me.

And for all the rest of my family as well.

Miss you, Mom . . ., - Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 08:29:50 PM (EST)

A special toast to Suzanne and the joy she brought to others in her life, on this day of Thanksgiving.

To FOF friends far and wide, a Happy Day to you all.
- Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 02:07:23 PM (EST)

As many of you know, in the spring our community lost a woman of great heart. Suzanne Kurtz was a wonderful and giving person. We miss her and are thankful for all she brought to, and inspired in, the Rickman community. Her Alan Rickman Fan Pages were a "starting point" for many adventures, other sites and friendships.

Suzanne is now remembered here in a Memorial Tribute to benefit RADA.
- Monday, August 05, 2013 at 11:41:24 AM (EDT)

A Happy Birthday to you, Mary Anne.

Enjoy the chocolately goodness.

Oh, and the Godiva as well . . .

Lighter and brighter thoughts, today.
R, - Friday, June 21, 2013 at 09:37:37 PM (EDT)

"Oh Mistral," Cindie breathed as they walked into the studio, "we stayed away too long." They clutched each others hand as they opened the doors that led to the studio offices and writers' room. Mistral didn't say a word. He hadn't spoken since Mary Anne had phoned with the news. He'd exclaimed delight at his friend's voice on the line, listened, and then wordlessly handed the phone to Cindie. After Mary Anne repeated the news, at some cost to herself, they had gotten in the car and driven straight over.
- Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 08:10:53 AM (EDT)

"Miles?" The little detective looked up, face waxy and ashen. At his partner's quizzical eyebrow, he turned his screen around. "Oh." "Yeah." He scrubbed at his face. "You know, it reminds me of what Patrick Stewart once said, after Gene Roddenberry passed away." "Hmmm?" "Roddenberry's death, he said, reminded him of when he lost both his own parents. He was left wondering--" Miles voice changed to imitate Stewart's rich tones--"'Who shall look after us now?'" She sighed. Indeed. Who shall look after us now?
Barbara the Wallpaper-er
- Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 02:43:03 PM (EDT)

"To be sheathed only in death"

May I offer my ineluctable endorsement of that sentiment, springing--as it will--from so virtuous a pen? A stroke of, well . . . genius.

One swells . . . with pride?

Yet, less the honour, however brightly may it shine, and more the instrument . . . to be sheathed only in death . . . and perhaps only then.

Ah, the lengths to which some may go, nay reach. Call it . . .

The long game. My long game. Still. My Empress.

V de V
A sentiment which has inspired the adoration of a woman so decidedly admired? Yes. The admiration abides, you know. , - Friday, April 05, 2013 at 06:50:46 PM (EDT)

From our Gallifreyan FOF representative:

"Do you have a plan?"

"No, I have a thing. It's like a plan, but with more gray bits."

""to be sheathed only in death" - I adore this. Simply adore this. , - Friday, April 05, 2013 at 03:51:39 PM (EDT)

Best birthday present EVER! Thank you, MA.

Fantastic... "too much" is never enough. :-), - Thursday, April 04, 2013 at 06:59:37 PM (EDT)

Note: I have no idea of what is involved in a ceremony of knighthood and so I've taken the liberty of following the Indiana Jones approach: "I'm just making it up as I go along." May Her Majesty approve my efforts. ;-)

Meanwhile, I'll be in the receiving line to congratulate Rupert if anyone would care to join me . . .

Not done yet---having too much fun! *g*, - Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 02:04:03 PM (EDT)

Imperial Palace, Throne Room:

A moment of shining silence as Rupert stands before his Empress, quiet and rapt under her grave regard, until she speaks.

“Rupert Cadell.”

His voice. Soft. Perhaps a bit strained, but clear to all who stand by. “Majesty.”

Mary Anne lowers her eyes. The word is an endearment on his lips. Impossible, now, not to think of The Interrogator’s cruel mockery.

Your Empress? Surely you understand, Cadell, that she can never be your Empress. Not in any way that matters.

And Rupert’s calm and gallant reply. You have a very poor grasp of what matters, but that is something I have always known.

Mary Anne moves closer to Brandon, leaning on his strength, and raises her head. Don’t dishonour what this man has done for you. Watch every moment here, so you can tell it to others.

The voice of The Empress, reciting from memory the ritual of knighthood.

“ . . . not to be lightly undertaken, demanding of him who receives it that he strive ever toward righteousness and truth, that he embody both justice and mercy, that he protect and defend the weak . . . “

Mary Anne grips Brandon’s arm as her vision blurs; hastily she blinks away tears and lifts her chin.

“Rupert Cadell, do you swear to uphold the law of the land, to embody justice throughout this Realm?”

Energy in that voice now. “I do so swear.”

“Do you swear to exercise wisdom and mercy in all your dealings, forsaking the misuse of power and privilege and keeping near unto chivalry and all that is fair and true?”

That voice, a banked fire. “I do so swear.”

Mansel steps nearer and presents the sword, which The Empress lifts in her small, slender hands, unsheathing it and resting it before her, allowing the point of the blade to graze the floor.

“Rupert Cadell, here is the symbol of your strength as Defender and Protector. Do you so take your oath upon it, that this blade shall never be stained with dishonour, that it shall never be turned to the uses of robbery, rapine, and revenge, but only with just cause shall it be drawn, and you shall give truthful account of all its use?”

Rupert steps forward and lays his hand upon the hilt. “I do so swear.”

She calls on him to be more than human, thinks Mary Anne as she glances up at Brandon, who remains at soldierly attention, still and grave and respectful. But I suppose that’s what it’s about. Chivalry is an ideal, after all. And my life is filled already with men whose reach exceeds their grasp.

The Empress turns to face the assembled gathering and there is an instant of held breath. The moment is quickly over, yet she seems to catch the eye of every person in the room.

“You have heard. Rupert Cadell has given his oath. Is there anyone here present who would speak against it and declare him forsworn and unfit?”

Absolute silence.

The Empress takes up the sword.

It’s almost bigger than she is!

There is no hesitation, not from The Empress nor from Cadell as he sinks to one knee before her.

“Then in the name of God and in the presence of all these gathered here to witness---“ The blade rests on the shoulder of the kneeling man, the polished steel reflecting light around the chamber like a shower of stars. “---I dub you Sir Rupert Cadell, Knight of this Realm you have sworn to protect, defend, and uphold.”

The Empress sheaths the sword and as Rupert rises to stand before her, she fastens the sword belt about his waist and stretches up to kiss his cheek. “May your honour always shine bright as this blade, to be sheathed only in death.” A pause, as Rupert turns to face the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen all, who have borne witness here this day, I give you . . . Sir Rupert Cadell.”

There is only an instant of that exalted stillness before the clapping begins, building to cheers of acclaim. But for the rest of her life, when Mary Anne remembers this day and this moment, her first thought will always be of Colonel Brandon, breaking his stance of attention and lifting his gloved hands---before any other---to begin the applause.

MA (Gaja, we obviously all feel the same . . .)
Happy Easter, everybody! , - Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 02:01:47 PM (EDT)

Well, i haven't story...BUT HE'S AMAZING, he's unbeliveable<3
Gaja <gajaslevec@gmail.comfoo>
- Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 05:44:52 AM (EDT)

Imperial Palace, Throne Room:

Mary Anne glances about her, looking for familiar faces. Immediately she picks Eamon de Valera out of the crowd---not at all difficult, as he is easily the tallest man in his section. There, almost immediately across the aisle from her: Anton Gruber with Cynthia, and a little further back in the crowd, Hans Gruber with Renie by his side.

I wonder who’s taking care of Mercedes, thinks Mary Anne, who has to struggle not to flash an unseemly grin at the idea of the formidable Hans Gruber trying to find a babysitter. That man’s life is about to change in ways he couldn’t possibly imagine. But then again, that happened when he married Renie, so maybe he’s used to it by now . . .

Meanwhile, the music that had paused briefly at the Empress’ command, has now resumed---more stately, more majestic than before, if such a thing were possible, with almost a challenging note in the call of the horns, as if to warn that the matter at hand is a serious one, and let the frivolous or faint of heart take their leave of the place at once.

And there, with slow and measured step, pacing down the red aisle . . .

Mansel, with a sword carried across his extended arms, looking neither to the left nor the right, advances solemnly toward the throne, followed by a square formation of Elite Imperials, escorting . . .

Rupert Cadell.

Mary Anne’s eyes widen to their limit. That Cadell had survived his combat with The Interrogator, she knew, and that he had been seriously injured. Yet he is there---moving a bit slowly, and flanked by Hanbury and Brownlow who are carefully not touching him, but hovering within a discreet distance in case their assistance should be necessary. But Cadell walks steadily on, leaning on his cane. He is uniformed in the same silver-trimmed black as the Elite Imperials, but his jacket is crossed with a vivid scarlet sash adorned with medals.

Mary Anne winces a little and lowers her eyes. That splash of red . . .

I’m going to gut you like a fish---“ The Malvoisin, now passing smoothly from HIS right hand to the left, and back again. “And I’m going to enjoy every one of the many minutes it will take.”

Mary Anne draws in a deep breath and lets it out again, slowly. Then another. Then she raises her eyes, forcing herself to remain calm as Cadell walks slowly past her and Brandon.

Thankfully, he does not look at them. At her.

I have not been very kind to this man. And now, I owe him my life.

Total silence falls as the square of Imperials breaks away to allow Cadell and his escort to stand directly before the Empress, who gazes down at him gravely for a moment, then turns to face Mansel, who steps forward, carrying the sword.

And Mary Anne can feel Brandon straighten to full attention beside her, even as Mansel pronounces, “Your Majesty, we present to you your Chief Advisor, Rupert Cadell, that you may bestow upon him the high honour of knighthood . . . “

Here you are, Suzanne: a Knight for your Day. Hope it was worth the wait. ;-)
MA (and don't worry, I'm not finished with this yet), - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 09:52:23 PM (EDT)

The Imperial Palace, Throne Room:

It begins with music.

It has been going on for some time before Mary Anne becomes aware of it, a soft murmur of strings from some hidden gallery, gentle at first but gaining in stateliness as more instruments and still more are built into an architecture that has a touch of the Baroque about it, until there is a cry of horns and a call of “Her Majesty The Empress!”

Supported by Brandon’s arm, Mary Anne manages to sink into her curtsey and rise again, not too awkwardly, as The Empress paces by them down the aisle of red carpet, shining in a white gown trimmed in an outflashing of silver beadwork across the bodice . . .

Mary Anne blinks and looks again.

Not beadwork.

A fine mesh of chain mail woven across the front of the gown, forming a corselet that would grace the form of any warrior princess, queen . . . or Empress, and this one, despite her delicacy of form and fineness of bone, wears it with dignity and grace. With even a touch of ferocity that leaves Mary Anne wondering: Why are we here? For clearly this is no ordinary event.

She is not left to wonder long before the Empress, now standing before her throne, signals to one of her Elite Imperials, who taps his long staff three times upon the floor. In the silence that falls, The Empress announces, “Let the candidate be brought before us.”

It's not everyone who can carry off the "heavy metal" look . . . ;-), - Friday, March 08, 2013 at 09:46:36 PM (EST)

Imperial Palace:

Joanna, you were wrong . . .

Mary Anne keeps her eyes down as she and Christopher make their way through the throng outside the Throne Room. Strategically stationed Imperial Guardsmen keep the proceedings orderly, but Mary Anne, watching from beneath her lowered eyelashes, sees that she has drawn attention---welcoming or sympathetic glances from some of the other invited guests, and frank curiosity from some of the journalists present for the event.

Just having my arm in a sling wouldn’t warn them off, not for long. Just at that moment, a small gathering of them make as if to approach her, to be halted by the discreet throat-clearing of a Guard who is suddenly very much there beside her. Or had they been put off by Brandon’s long, steady gaze in their direction? They fade back, but only a few seconds later . . .

“So she’s the one? The sling---was that from---“A murmur too low even for Mary Anne’s keen hearing. “---The Interrogator?”

A reply in a deeper voice. “Lucky for her, if that’s all she has to show for it. That lady doesn’t look as if she could kill a fly, let alone---“

The knot of journalistic inquiry drifts ever so casually closer.

“Not the story I heard. She cut HIM up some before HE hurt her. Makes me wonder how that happened, whatever it is between them. Must be quite a story there---“

Enough. Mary Anne drops all demure pretense and levels a stare at the muckrakers that she would swear is enough drop them in their tracks, to be met only with an assortment of cool, raised-eyebrow, “Who, me?” expressions in return.

“Mary Anne?”

She turns to meet Brandon’s eyes. “It’s nothing, Christopher. Whatever this is, let’s have it over.”

As they resume their advance toward the Throne Room, she can still hear them behind her, now quietly laughing. The deep-voiced one. “Best watch your step with her. If looks could kill, you’d have just been carried out with a toe tag.”

“I’ve been glowered at before, you know. But I don’t have any intention of getting myself in her sights. She’s got some . . . interesting friends, I’m told.”

“Like Hans Gruber’s wife, for one.”

“Like Hans Gruber, for another.”

Mary Anne smiles to herself. The voices are softer now, but there had been a distinct tremor . . .

Well, and when is there not some kind of tremor, when people are talking about Hans? And that was NOT the pleasant kind . . .

“And Anton Gruber, for a third. We have all done our homework, my friends, so best drop this. The Colonel’s Lady is no story for us. Not tonight.”

Or any other night, fumes Mary Anne, as she and the Colonel are escorted to their places in the Throne Room.

It is some moments before her irritation gives way to her own curiosity about the occasion. For what purpose have they been commanded to be present?

Nosy bunch, these journalists . . . , - Saturday, March 02, 2013 at 08:14:04 PM (EST)

Imperial Palace, the Brandons’ suite:

Mary Anne stares critically at her reflection in the mirror.

A state occasion. Some Imperial ceremony at which their attendance is required and so . . .

A discreet silk in dark burgundy, with a full ballgown-style skirt. Almost the same colour Renie wore at my wedding. That rich pinot noir is, fortunately, a shade that favours many complexions; Mary Anne cannot help feeling that under the influence of pain, poor sleep, and numerous anxieties, she is getting pale enough to disappear against one of the snowdrifts outside, and allows herself one regretful sigh for her altered gown swathed in the lush Cantarian fabric---but it would never do. In her present frame of mind, it would read and transmit her mood as dead black, a clear violation of Imperial protocol.

And it’s easier to walk in this. A few experimental steps back and forth. The trailing skirt does not impair movement, but Mary Anne cannot help feeling off-balance---literally, with her left arm elevated and fixed close to her body in a black sling. Blalock had insisted, and Joanna McCoy had backed him up.

“Even if you’re not hurting,” McCoy had explained, “it’s still a signal to other people that you’re injured and they need to steer clear. You’ll be in a crowd for this and it’ll warn them off.”

Wonderful. So long as I don’t fall over my own gown, with my arm all tied up like this. But after a few more paces she begins to feel a bit more at ease . . .

Brandon steps in view. “Are you ready, Mary Anne?”

And she cannot help smiling, at least a little. For the Colonel is a blaze of splendour in his Imperial Regimentals, complete with gold-trimmed scarlet uniform coat, elbow-length gauntlets, and pure white cloak

Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars. Christopher is more dressed-up than I am . . .

Suzanne, as part of your present, I'll be endeavouring to fill your cape quota---so keep the smelling salts within reach! ;-), - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 10:15:11 PM (EST)

Nigel is from that superb series of posts by Cindie in which Mistral is annoyed that someone from the Daily Blab has intruded upon his privacy. I believe the article in question included a photo of Mistral and Cindie kissing along with some suggestive text. Cue: Mistral the Avenging Angel calling at the office of the Blab and---without doing anything whatsoever that is actionable in court---scaring the kidneys out of Nigel.

And the little weasel deserved it, too.

Jog any memories? *g*

Now I must find that sequence, read it again, and give it fresh applause!, - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 08:03:50 PM (EST)

Meant to ask you, dearest--Nigel Theasewackel? My brain read it as Nigel Thackweasel--and somehow believed I'd heard that name before. A quick search did not uncover any Thackweasel, NIgel or otherwise.

Dickens would have approved. How imaginations do carry on.
Fun Christmas party, MA. Especially loved the spatula fencing contest-- R
(Is NIgel the name most often chosen for swots and wanks?), - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 11:58:30 AM (EST)

Scene: The FOF set. We see Brandon's Suite, which is next to the hospital set, which is next to, incongruously, a tall blue box. So much for order on the set.

The actors' voices are muffled, and by the relaxed faces we can see that they are between takes. The lighting crew assiduously adds 300 watt tweenies, adjusting the silk scrim, while makeup pops in to make the most of the momentary shooting break by touching up the faces of these best-loved men and women.

Suddenly, one of the Arri 12K-18KW HMI Fresnels sparks, and a tungsten colored light spray showers the air before it goes . . .


As in, can't see a h*nd in front of a face.

"This way Mary Anne. I've got you." Brandon's voice is a whisper.

A whisper back. "Is that you or . . . " Mary Anne's voice stops. She's being herded off to the side by strong yet gentle hands.

"Attention everyone. Until the generator kicks on, or this short circuit gets sorted, can you please stay where you are." The Director's eyes adjust enough so that instead of pure black, there are gradual degrees of black becoming visible. Just barely.

There are giggles, and shuffling feet.

"Really, you lot are such fine listeners. This will blow today's schedule." The Director makes towards the electrical switch for the backup lights. Creeping slowly arms extended. "Who's got the torches?"

No answer.

"Right then. I'll get the switch myself." Grumbling words which would not be fit for broadcast, he sweeps his arms about, fingers extended for the elusive switch. Brushing against a torso. "Oh, excuse me!"

No answer. "Let me by! Some heads will roll when I can . . . "

The lights flood brightly on the set, without any help from the Director, who is caught with his arms around a headless costume-fitting mannequin clothed in a variation of costume for the Lilac Fairy Queen in Sleeping Beauty, Teatro alla Scalla, Milan.

"Surprise! Happy Birthday to youuuu, Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuu . . . "

Happy Birthday to our esteemed Director.
Did someone set up that champagne fountain? I love that thing . . .*clink* R, - Friday, February 22, 2013 at 09:46:29 PM (EST)

The horses? Oh, I hear a bunch of them went to Leicester---something about a monarch who was willing to barter his kingdom for one of them . . .

Well, that's what that Shakespeare fellow said . . . ;-), - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 07:50:55 PM (EST)

Oh my. Where are those horses when you need them....
Hanging on as tight as I can! :-) , - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 06:05:40 PM (EST)

The Imperial Palace, the Brandons’ suite:

Mary Anne’s convalescence, though not long, is difficult. So often protected by the Doctor’s DNA against practically every viral or bacterial illness and aided in recovery by his regenerative powers, she has all but forgotten what it is like to be . . . unwell. In pain. Low-level, but constant. For long periods. To all but forget, until a too-sudden movement at which the pain in her shoulder seems to flare like the opening of a red and carnivorous blossom.

It is true that she is healing more quickly and steadily than she has any right to expect. Doctors Blalock and McCoy agree that she is making good progress. Torn muscle will knit itself together; nerve endings will recover from shock.

And in time, the bad dreams will . . .

No. She cannot imagine a time when they will ever cease.

She could ask Brandon for his opinion about that. And would. Except . . .

Mary Anne sighs and rubs at her shoulder, careful to avoid the aching wound.


He is as tender to her as ever, as careful and patient.

And always on the watch, though for what, she cannot guess. His gaze follows her about the suite, and if she steps out of sight into another room, it will not be long before he appears.

And what of that, then? Time was, you would’ve been overjoyed to have that from him. And he did almost lose you . . .

The murmur of voices brings her back to herself. Someone at the door. Hoping for the distraction of visitors, Mary Anne settles back into her chair with another long sigh as Brandon returns, bearing with him a large, cream-coloured envelope.

“My dearest, Her Majesty requires our presence.”

“Requires?” Dryly. “Not ‘requests’? She’s a tactful woman . . .”

“And she is The Empress. She is not required to ‘request.’”

“What’s the occasion?” Mary Anne puts out her hand for the envelope. A quick scan of the contents tells her nothing, merely that they are commanded to appear for a ceremonial occasion. Day, time, location, all are specified. Everything except why.

A bitter inward laugh. Not being told why---I should be accustomed to that, by now.

“It would not be,” ventures Brandon, “for her birthday celebration. That is usually a quiet occasion for her, shared with a privileged few.”

And you have been one of the few, haven’t you, Christopher? A tiny dart of---no. Not jealousy. Something. A part of his life that she has never known.

“What, then?”

Brandon picks up the paper and inspects it again. “From the look of it, something very important, indeed . . .”

Here we go, Suzanne---hang on tight! ;-), - Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 08:20:16 PM (EST)

I believe today is the birthday of our beloved Empress---Happy Birthday, Suzanne!

*flourishes and huzzahs*

For your present, watch this space . . .

MA (looking very mysterious indeed)
- Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 08:53:38 PM (EST)

Has anyone else (I know you have, R dearest) been following the news about the archaeological discovery of Richard the Third's body?

It makes me wonder just what Alexander Dane would have to say . . . *g*

Whatever he said, I'm sure it would be lovely to hear . . . *sigh*, - Thursday, February 07, 2013 at 08:07:13 AM (EST)

Ed! Why, what a very . . . interesting . . . mural you've painted in my bathroom.


That mermaid looks a lot like Claudia . . .

And I do NOT want to know what Mister I is doing with that fishnet . . . , - Wednesday, January 02, 2013 at 08:22:58 AM (EST)

"It was so good of you to come."

A nod.

"I know you don't really like boats . . . I think Hans is pleased."

"Then you are, too."

She looks off into the darkness. The water rises and falls.

"Keeping a company of players happy--it's a lot of work. Harder than a marriage. Not that I would know."

"You are all my family. It isn't work." The Director begins to smile.

She laughs. "It's much harder with family." She pours champagne into the Director's glass. He looks across the bow, at the moon, and three dozen stars, scattered across the night sky. Not at her. Not at all at her.

"Hans is a wealthy man. But his real happiness is not in a vault."

"And your happiness, where is it?"

"Every day we shoot, edit, and tell our stories. That's what's important."

"That's a boss's answer." She pasues. "Stories are what we tell when real life is too hard."

"No. Stories are what we tell because that's what we do. Happiness or tragedy is always just a moment away. In any story. Life can turn around in a minute, and when it's us we never see the signs. Only when it's someone else's story, then we can see it clearly. We tell stories to learn about ourselves. To see clearly what is hidden from our view."

"Then why can't I see it?" She rubs her eyes, as if it will reveal the runes beneath.

"This is a New Year. And we are still here. Still together. All of us."

Suddenly, with a shudder upwards the fireworks of midnight begin to light the night sky. Whistling fuses and cracks of powder shoot upwards and explode in colours of red, green gold and royal blue. They rain down like a blurred string of Christmas tree lights. Then, loudly, the orchestra fires itself into the music of celebration.

"Hans has a sense of humour, doesn't he. Shall we join them?

"Yes, he does. Very underrated. And yes, I'd love to join the rest of the cast. But a toast first?" She raises her flute to his. "To joy."

"To Joy, Renie."

As they sip, the quiet of the waters is filled with the richness that is Beethoven.
Conced il pity su me...perché ho amavo...e perché il mio amore non morirà., - Tuesday, January 01, 2013 at 01:54:07 AM (EST)

Happy New Year to all!


Dearest, may I pour you a little for the after party?


May each day of 2013 be like a sip of Veuve Cliquot.

Did you know that Ed painted the bathroom of your flat? *giggle*, - Monday, December 31, 2012 at 10:59:15 PM (EST)

Always a pleasure, Your Majesty.

Now, who'd like to stay and help me clean up?

*crickets chirping*

Yeah, I thought as much.

Oh, wait . . . why, Christopher, you say you'd like to stay and help me? Hmmmm, that should be all the help I need . . .

Happy New Year, everyone. 8-)
MA, - Monday, December 31, 2012 at 05:42:51 PM (EST)

Ah, hearing all those voices at the same time...*feeling faint* Best party I've been to in ages. :-)

Suzanne <webmistress@alan-rickman.comfoo>
Thanks MA!, - Friday, December 28, 2012 at 10:49:31 PM (EST)

Mary Anne’s flat:

The flat is full of Mary Anne’s Christmas Eve guests. Through the hum of conversation one can discern the deep tones of Hans Gruber and the even deeper tones of Anton Gruber, the sly joking from Ed, the ringing laughter of Claudia. There is the occasional pop of champagne corks and the krrrrshhhhhh that follows. Christopher Brandon's voice, soft but distinctive, intermingles with the wry but affectionate commentary from the Director and the rich Irish accent of Dev, grown even richer with the pronouncing of various Irish toasts for the holiday evening. Therese and Mary Anne search through the music selections and make a slight alteration in the playlist, so as to include a Handelian trumpet fanfare for the entrance of Suzanne and Rupert, which is received with so much applause, so many cheers and appreciative whistles, that the local constabulary would surely come to investigate if they had not already been alerted; as it is, the plainclothes patrollers merely smile at the sounds of merrymaking. Trouble, this most definitely is not.

Meanwhile, in the flat, Mistral steps into Mary Anne’s bedroom to retrieve Cindie’s handbag from among the coats heaped upon the bed. Noticing a beautifully bound antique book lying open on Mary Anne’s bedside table, he steps nearer for a look:

But they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time . . .

Mistral smiles a little, and those angular features---oh, so angular and sharp, so harsh while wearing the guise of the fearsome Interrogator!---grow gentle, so gentle as to be almost unrecognizable with tenderness. This man knows, few better, the bite of loneliness and alienation. He can act it; he has lived it.

But not tonight.

Mistral returns Cindie’s handbag to the deep pocket of her coat.

Perhaps they can stay just a little bit longer . . .

"Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, wonderful happiness."
Dickens always said it best: "And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!"---MA, - Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 03:34:09 PM (EST)

Mary Anne’s flat:

Mary Anne is consulting her checklist for the holiday gathering. Times being what they are, she cannot avoid some of the unpleasant but necessary items, such as secure and discreet valet parking, along with an alert to the local constabulary. She has nothing to fear from her guests---well, from most of them---but there are always rabid fans and stalkers and gatecrashers from the tabloid rags.

A smirk. Well, from some of the rags, perhaps, though Nigel Theasewackle has studiously avoided them ever since Mistral’s legendary visitation. The Director had tried to keep it a complete secret, so naturally the whole set knows. (homage)

But let’s hope there won’t be any trouble, she muses. It’s Christmas, the season of miracles! (homage) And if anybody starts anything . . . well, with Mistral or Dev or Scout, or all three of them here at the same time, that’s about the best security any party could have. Not to mention that Hans and Christopher can both stop a riot by raising an eyebrow.

Marking off her list, Mary Anne turns to some far more pleasant items. Tasteful decorations, consisting mainly of fir garlands and white flowers. Playlist, already chosen. Party favours. And food, glorious food! (Of course homage) Hampers of every description, ranging from Fortnum and Mason to a nearby cheese shop that serves up the finest brie she has ever tasted. And for the personal touch, trays of her own holiday offerings: fudge cake and brown sugar shortbread and red velvet biscuits and other dainties too numerous to name.

Gleaming china and flatware and crystal. Wineglasses. Champagne flutes. Tumblers and pitchers and punchbowls.

Extra seating. Fireplace crackling. All is in readiness.

All, that is, except herself.

With a last glance at her checklist, Mary Anne hurries into her bedroom to dress . . .

Happy holidays---come one, come all! , - Monday, December 24, 2012 at 06:49:07 PM (EST)

FoF set, mailboxes:

Tucked into the mail slots of the cast members, there appears the following, engraved on handsome cream card stock and scented with hints of fir and cinnamon:


Following are the directions to Mary Anne’s flat, indicating that festivities begin at 6:00 PM and all are welcome to come when they can and leave when or if they must, together with the compliments of the season so warmly expressed that even The Director cannot help but smile over the invitation---though the smile may be one of relief. Mary Anne’s usual greetings to him are, it must be admitted, generally accompanied by a bit of mischief. Or more than a bit.

At which point in his reflections, the Director decides that he must put in an appearance, if only for five minutes: let good behaviour be rewarded and reinforced. For once.

Meanwhile, at her flat, Mary Anne is consulting her checklist . . .

The Empress' wish is my command . . . ;-), - Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 11:50:50 PM (EST)

Looking forward to seeing Les Miserables, also. Great story, great music. I'll never forget seeing it on stage in Houston with Renie (her son one of the actors). Amazing!

Suzanne <webmistress@alan-rickman.comfoo>
Waiting for the party, MA. :-), - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 09:05:03 PM (EST)

*Singing*-- "This never-ending road to Gluttony . . .
Though to be greedy is a crime
I'll fill my plate a second time . . .
One bite more . . ."

I read a comment online from someone who said she always sees AR when she imagines Javert. Yikes. Alan as Javert would kill me. =8-O

Gearing up for the release of Les Mis! , - Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 11:01:29 AM (EST)


A Thanksgiving toast to my FOF family, followed by a shot---of stuffing. Because there's always room for one bite more . . .

*cue music for "One Day More" from Les Miserables*

"One bite more,
Thanksgiving Day's become my destiny . . . "

Love to all, and especially to my dearest Mary Anne, for all the fun and friendship.

Special hugs for Suzanne, who indeed has the soul of an Empress.
Happy Day of Stuffing . . . in all its glory., - Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 02:13:01 PM (EST)

Alan: Have you ever worked with Alex Kingston?
Chuck Power <cspowerog@aol.comfoo>
Ocean Springs, Mississippi USA - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 08:45:52 AM (EST)

Giving thanks for my FoF family and all the fun we've had here over the years. Too long since anyone posted---I just may have to get up a holiday "party" at Mary Anne's flat . . . *g*

Hugs all around,

Saluting with turkey drumstick in one hand and compiling guest list with the other . . ., - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 10:47:53 AM (EST)

A happy and safe Labor Day to my fellow Rickmaniacs! Let's all be careful around with the barbecue---step away from the grill, Mister I . . .

*fending off The Interrogator with barbecue tongs in one hand and saluting with a grilled rib in the other*

You could say I'm speaking to The Interrogator in HIS native tong . . . *g*, - Monday, September 03, 2012 at 07:07:17 PM (EDT)

I just wanted to say: thank you. Go on, i love you because of your work! It's brilliant! Thank you!
Anika <info@runa-rian.defoo>
Thank you!, - Saturday, July 07, 2012 at 10:03:32 PM (EDT)

Happy (and safe) Fourth, everyone! Watch out with the fireworks and be especially careful around those barbecues.

After all, you never know just who might show up . . .


Sneaking a peek over my shoulder . . ., - Wednesday, July 04, 2012 at 06:10:45 PM (EDT)

A bathrobe is too casual for the living room, out of place in the dining room, and as for the bedroom . . . Mary Anne confidently gestures towards one of the pair of kitchen chairs in her (thankfully spotless) breakfast nook. Brandon’s shining eyes nearly make her forget herself. “May I offer you some tea, Colonel?”

Still standing with his hands behind his back, Brandon checks the wall clock behind Mary Anne and shakes his head. “I’ve come to say something very important. And it can’t wait.”

She looks at him, managing to look very like Eleanor Dashwood when Edward says he has something important to tell her . . . about his education.

“5:08 exactly! Happy Birth-day!” He bows, and hands her the cream colored box from patisserie Ceci Cela.

Now Mary Anne smiles. “Christopher, how very sweet of you.”

“Fresh plain and chocolate croissants, as I wasn’t sure if it was too early for chocolate.”

“Is there such a thing?” Taking the box from his hands, she opens the lid, and a luscious smell fills the kitchen. “Oooooh. With tea or coffee?”

Brandon slips off his jacket and hangs it over the chair. “Please let me---if you’re agreeable. I have undertaken a plan to become more casual and spontaneous.”

“I can’t very well impede your character development, can I?” She seats herself and watches as him as he rolls up his sleeves.

“You ought not.” He opens cupboards searching for teacups. “My only wish is to serve you.” She cannot see his face as he says this, and he cannot see hers.


Scene: Inside the kitchen nook, the good Colonel and Mary Anne have indeed passed the time without any regard to it. Nor do they hear the quiet knocking at the front door. Finally, the doorbell peals out, and Mary Anne excuses herself and once more approaches her front door.

This is getting to be a habit . . .


“Mary Anne, hello dearest.” A rapturous hug. “Did I get you out of bed? Of course I did, you were probably up late putting the finishing touches on the scripts.”

“I’ve been out of bed . . . for a while.”

“What’s that delicious smell?” Without waiting for an invitation, Renie breezes past Mary Anne into the kitchen, to find a startled Colonel Brandon springing up guiltily from his chair.

“Well.” She eyes the scene. “Good day, Colonel. And isn’t it a bonny morning?”

“Yes, I’m . . . well I . . . “

“Yes. Yes, you are well . . . aren’t you.”

“You mustn’t --- “

“No, I won’t --- “

“No, I mean you shouldn’t --- “

“It’s ok, Christopher, I won’t say a word about --- “

“It’s not ---“

Mary Anne enters the kitchen, wrapping her robe more tightly around her waist. “No, You’re absolutely right, it’s not anyone’s business except yours and Mary Anne’s . . . “

“In fact, I just remembered an appointment, so I’ll see myself out . . .” She turns and hugs Mary Anne.

“Happy birthday, dearest.” Giggles. To Brandon, “Top of the day to you, sir.”

The front door closes.

“She appears to have jumped to conclusions.” Brandon almost slumps back down into his chair. “There’s no stopping her, is there.”

“Like a runaway train.” Mary Anne takes a seat, and pours some him some hot tea. “At any rate, Renie will be discreet until I set her straight. “ As Mary Anne says this, she mentally amends her words with after a fashion and in her own way.

He nods, though his face looks troubled. “I did try to make her understand that this was not what she assumed. I’m terribly sorry if I’ve . . . if I’ve--” He rises and stands, his hands resting on the back of the chair, at a rare loss for what one says.

“--It’s fine. Really. I’ll tell her that it was completely innocent, just a mix-up.” She puts her hand on his.

Brandon wavers. To leave like this might make Mary Anne feel compromised, somehow, and though he want to make things right, he cannot see how.

“All because I wanted to wish you a happy birthday at the minute you were born. June 21 at 5:08. It seems childish to me now.”

Oh no. I can’t put off telling him any longer. Just say it.

“Christopher, it was 5:08 pm, in the evening.”


Scene: Later that day, at the FOF studio.

“So you see, it wasn’t what you thought.” Mary Anne and Renie talk in the midst of the remains of a celebration. Streamers, and wrapping, and champagne flutes scattered around the offices. “I did think I was dreaming when he was standing there at my front door.”

“So would a lot of women, dearest.”

“No really, because just before he came, I was deep in the most beautiful dream. “

“Do tell.”

“I was dreaming about the ocean. It was all around me, surrounding me, holding me. I felt alive. Safe. Nervous. Excited.”

“You dreamt of the sea?”

Mary Anne’s face takes on a radiance. “I adore the sea.”

Renie cocks her head like a terrier. “Hmmm. Surrounded. Dreams have meaning. I’ve got it—you were being born! Floating, feel alive and calm at the same time. “

“It did feel wonderful. I can’t describe it.”

“Happy Birthday dearest. I’m so glad you were born!”

They hug and kiss. As Renie leaves, Mary Anne looks around her, a place where so much has been shared. The love and friendship here is anything but fiction.

She unfolds the small card from her breast pocket, and reads again:

“My dearest Mary Anne,

Please forgive my birthday blunder this morning.

Happy birthday - “C”

“Yes,” whispers Mary Anne, “I adore the C.”

June 21, 2012
Happy Birthday, dearest. , - Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 01:52:37 PM (EDT)

“I hope I’ve surprised you,” Brandon’s voice purrs over the early morning air, and Mary Anne’s body has no chance to feel the slightest chill.

Though the sun which warms and nurtures our planet still hides behind the undefined skyline, the sun which shines in Christopher Brandon’s eyes stands before him, in a robe of glory.

Or at least, a robe of terry.

“Yes, you might say that.” Unconsciously darting her eyes left and right, Mary Anne wonders if she really is still sleeping. Maybe I’m sleepwalking?.

Brandon’s excitement has clearly overcome any realization that he has her at a sartorial disadvantage. In fact, every sort of disadvantage. Mary Anne reminds herself that in future, she will wash up, dress properly and brush her teeth before answering her front door, whatever the circumstance, without fail.

The Colonel, however, looks like the big cat that got the cream. “I didn’t want to ring and wake any neighbors at this hour.” Mary Anne sees another reason he was not ringing—both of his hands are behind his back. “But it was a matter of the right timing.”

The right timing. Has he lost his senses? Can I possibly send him away? That would be awkward, and look at his face. Nay, look at the rest of him. She softens, and relents. “Please, do come inside, where it’s . . . inside.”

Now what?

June 19, 2012
- Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 01:48:59 PM (EDT)

Announcement from Central Programming, Timeline Department" "Due to a computer code glitch, the post(s) on Mary Anne's birthday on June 21 are herein replaced with corrected posts. They are dated January 21, 2012. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming."

Thanks to DOC for the timely intervention., - Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 01:46:31 PM (EDT)

Scene: Quiet. Semi-darkness. There is not yet the hint of any morning light. The glow of a mostly-closed laptop, sprayed onto the bedroom wall feels like the end of an old time cinema reel, film spent, the white light flare projected on a wall of eclipsed time.

Mary Anne breathes evenly: sleeping. Her head is filled with talking images, not so much a dream or dreams, but snippets of her recent inspirational writing session for the next days� shooting, jotted in the laptop beside her. Her active mind plays and replays various takes and versions of what will come to pass. What may come to pass.

For one never knows what the future holds.

The muffled knock seems louder in this setting. And more immediate, much closer than three rooms away, as if the knock has come at her bedroom door. Registering and rewiring the knock, the dream Mary Anne opens the dream door . . .

No one is there. As she turns and looks behind her, everything falls away as it can in dreams, and she is in the ocean.

Her immediate sense is bliss.

Nothing at all to do with what she sees, or if and how she is breathing, because she has no sense of self, only a sense of being. Nothing feels external, it is all internal, or perhaps more accurately external and internal have no meaning in this place, which is not a place, but a state of being unseparate.

Calm. Elation. The sweetest dream she has ever felt. She is inside of it, this sea of sweetness, and yet not inside of anything, she is so �all of it�. There is a music to it, not heard, not even felt, inside of her, a living music with cells as notes . . .

A real knock sounds. Again. Louder, and unmistakably not underwater.

She stirs herself. Yes, that�s the front door. At this hour it can only be . . . well, no one at this ungodly hour . . . unless there�s been some sort of accident . . .

The dream forgotten, she flips open the laptop for more light, stabs around for her robe, and reaches her front door. Pinching the blinds together, she exhales softly in surprise at the man on her doorstep.

Unlocking the door, she can see from his face that this is no errand of disaster or bad news. For that she is relieved.

For a moment, she considers whether she may be, in fact, still dreaming.

�Hello, Christopher.�

- Monday, June 18, 2012 at 03:25:41 PM (EDT)

- Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 08:36:54 PM (EST)

Happy Birthday to Professor Snape!

And to a certain "dearest" of FoF family . . . ;-)

Trying to imagine Snape's look if anyone called him "baby." *snorfle*, - Monday, January 09, 2012 at 08:02:41 PM (EST)

Happy Birthday Baby
Ziggy <Zignose@zignose.comfoo>
- Monday, January 09, 2012 at 01:21:24 PM (EST)

My dear Valmont, oh so sneaky, but you never fail to please.
Suzanne <webmistress@alan-rickman.comfoo>
Did I just say that? :-), - Wednesday, January 04, 2012 at 10:56:50 PM (EST)

"Do you like it?"

Suzanne looks up to see the subject of her musings leaning in the door frame. He is dressed casually and expensively in a cream coloured silk shirt and black trousers. The top two buttons of the shirt are undone. It should look tacky or obvious, but on him, it looks neither.

"Yes," she replies, "I like it very much."

Valmont's lips widen in the very beginnings of a smile but go no further. He notes that she hung the montage where she can see it from both her dressing table and from the grouping of chairs which serves as a conversation nook. It is there that she sits now. He inclines his head in inquiry. She nods towards one of the other chairs in acquiescence.

He straightens from his leaning position and moves to the indicated chair. He notes that Suzanne is not wearing any makeup and thinks to himself that she is at her best right now.

Suzanne watches Valmont glide into the room and take the proffered seat. He seems to take up much more space than he actually occupies. She debates asking the question but in the end, sees no reason not to have her curiosity satisfied. Turning slightly so that her entire body faces him, she asks what has been on her mind since receiving her birthday gift. "So tell me, monsieur, what are you about to say?" She stops, not sure if the question will even make sense to him. Then she looks directly into his eyes, and sees not confusion, but triumph.

"Ah, ch�re dame, I was hoping you would ask me that.

- Sunday, January 01, 2012 at 10:17:22 PM (EST)

Mistral pulled Cindie in tighter as they walked up the sidewalk of the high street arm in arm. It was snowing lightly but the flakes dissolved as soon as they hit the ground. They'd spent the holidays at the house in Wales and today was their last day before returning to the city. They were both clinging the treasure of their quiet interlude. Tomorrow they would load the car and return to the real world. Today, they wandered the streets of the village and window shopped and talked to the residents of trivial, and therefore vitally important, matters. Perhaps this was more the real world after all.

Happy New Year everyone!, - Sunday, January 01, 2012 at 09:50:01 PM (EST)

May every one of you be wrapped up in the best present of all---the embrace of the people you love.


MA (Save a spot on those cushions, R dearest, and keep the tea nice and warm!)
Now, Christopher, if you'll unwrap yourself a bit from that coat and muffler . . . mmmmmm . . . , - Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 11:24:17 PM (EST)

In the doorway, a silhouette of a man.

Lean. Tall. Shoulders. Powerful. Countoured.

She has seen this man, well, how many times? Yet still her awareness of him, the sense of him, the experience of him, does not diminish.

As if they, even now, stood inches from each other, vowing for the first time to love and honor each other. A marriage of hearts and souls.

He shifts slightly, so that enough light falls to reveal the back of a shirt. She squints her eyes searching for some translucence, but no, his solid frame hide the particulars underneath . . . . Silently, she loves him hovering in the doorway.

Does every woman wish for such a man?

And then, as he turns, sun spots dance before her, so that--there is no denying this--he appears to be covered in polka dots, or dancing with polka dots--at any rate, polka dots come to mind. The wife of Hans Gruber smiles, recalling a conversation about the Tardis. The Doctor's voice lilts in her ears, "Science teaches us that most things do not change their essence, only their form . . . blue it always shall be."

Blue? She could not say what colours came and went in the firmament of Hans Gruber. Science seemed to her to be more about flux than essence. And even "blue" was a relative term, unspecific from person to person, when you got right down to it. Was it true, what she'd said back then, that "love teaches us that despite outward appearances, feelings often remain the same"?

Was she essential to him? Did she remain in his heart, no manner the ridges and caves to traverse? Did time and events alter, efface or splinter that love?

Stepping from the doorway, he walked towards her.

Leaving love only.

An anniversary, and a Merry Christmas Eve, and holiday to all of our Hansgangers. The Special Cushions have been set out for you, dearest MA. Tea kettle on is the stove . . . , - Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 06:16:15 PM (EST)

Hope everyone is having a good Thanksgiving with plenty of the delicious food and drink of choice. Have a wonderful day!

Salute with turkey drumstick,

Always thankful for my FoF family!, - Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 10:46:09 AM (EST)

Yes, R dearest---I spent part of my 9/11 here as well. I went into the ARchives to read what we were doing and what got posted at that time, and I noted that some people said it was good to have this place to come to with all that was going on.

They were right. Even though we're scattered all over the globe, it did make me feel better to have my friends of FoF around me, right here. And it still does.

Hugs to all,

- Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 08:34:53 PM (EDT)

Remembering my FOF family and friends on a special day of remembrance.
9/11/11, - Monday, September 12, 2011 at 02:02:51 AM (EDT)

Have a happy Fourth, everyone! And, er, be careful around those barbecues . . .

Because you never know who might show up . . . , - Monday, July 04, 2011 at 10:26:36 AM (EDT)

Hey Alan, great site!
和英翻訳 <nope@gmail.comfoo>
- Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 12:29:11 AM (EDT)

Bien sur.
- Friday, March 25, 2011 at 08:54:09 PM (EDT)

Oooooh, that's so perfect. :-)
Thanks, Candie!, - Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11:07:41 PM (EDT)

Since we know FoF time is a lovely and fluid concept (as so marvelously demonstrated by Renie), please pretend it is still Suzanne�s birthday.

Suzanne stands in her dressing room surveying the vanity table with the package propped up against the mirror. Her left hand rests on her cocked hip and her right finger thoughtfully taps her lower lip. Seeming to reach a decision, she slides into the chair and picks up the white rose that lay in front of the wrapped parcel. She gives it a sniff and plops it into the glass of water resting to the side of the table. Next, she picks up the package and slips the nail of her forefinger under the seam of paper to break the seal. The cream coloured paper falls away to reveal a framed picture, or rather, a collection of pictures.

Leaning back in her chair, she surveys her present, holding it in both hands. Arrayed across the space are her leading men in a montage of splendour. While they are in full palace regalia as if for their publicity shots, these photos are not the stiff formal shots that were used by the Publicity Department. Instead, the men are relaxed and clearly at their ease. Rupert is reclining in an ornate chair from the throne room set, his cane held out before him as if he is lining up a queue for a billiards shot, the twinkle in his eye belying the look of faux concentration on his face. Brandon is in his presentation ensemble, one booted foot resting on an embroidered foot stool, his head thrown back as if caught in mid laughter. Hans� photograph has caught him removing his gloves as his lips curl into a smile clearly meant for someone to the left and behind the camera�s wielder.

There are more images but Suzanne�s attention is arrested by the one of Valmont. He is leaning forward, lips slightly parted as if he is about to reveal a secret. His eyes seem to beckon the listener to confidences and Suzanne catches her self as she leans forward as if to hear what he would say. Shaking her head, she props the picture back against the mirror and looks around for likely spot to hang it.
- Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 08:49:41 PM (EDT)

You're the best, DOC! Thanks.

It has been a long time since I italicized the GB. That in itself is nostalgic. , - Friday, March 18, 2011 at 04:01:10 PM (EDT)

Okay, all fixed... I think. LOL
Ah, great stuff. Now I'm all nostalgic.

Suz (D.o.C)

Also, will the Department of (Benevolent) Corrections please de-italicize the GB and BOLD the code where it's missing? Thanks!
Nobody knows . . . the trouble I'm . . . . , - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 06:50:31 PM (EDT)

It now occurs to me that in order to really know what's going on in the storyline, you'd need a few earlier posts. So I'm providing these out of order here...The reposts above this post are from earlier in March 1999 and should be read before the posts below. (Are you getting any of this?) DOC, if you could replant the earliest post where it belongs time-wise, that would be great. Thanks.
- Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 06:44:31 PM (EDT)

Scene: A close-up of suited arm. Dark colour. Excellent fabric.

"You'll have to go to work now?" Renie holds onto that arm, as she and Hans walk away out of the doctor's offices--which already look much better. Well, at least, much neater.

A glance at his Baume & Mercier. "No--but I should call in. They may have--some details I've been waiting for." Shouldn't upset her with half news. Wann ist es zu Ende?

The wood-panelled hallway is more populated now; apparently, late morning is a busier time at the clinic. Staff, wearing medical ID tags. Patients. Delivery carts, filled with cards, small bears, and mylar balloons.

Her thoughts rather full; not to say jumbled. Renie hears Dr. DaMozzici thank Hans for his redecorating. Very impressed indeed, with this woman. Any woman who can deal with Hans without shaking in her heels, well, deserves a diploma. And a nice desk to put under it.

The clerk at the message center signals to Antonia, and she touches Renie's hands before she moves off from the pair, politely excusing herself as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened in her office this morning.

They are free to go.

"Hans--tell me--how did you know Antonia?"

"She dated my father."

Renie stops in her tracks, knowing how sacred the memory of his mother is to Hans. What would he want with a woman who had dated his father? But now is not the time . . .

As they approach the last turn before the front door to the clinic, Antonia scurries up to them.

"Hans--I think you're going to want to stay a bit longer. I've had a message from staff. It concerns both of you." With an invisible arm, she pulls them both down the hall and back into her office, where the janitor is still working, quietly, in the corner.

Antonia speaks, her voice matching her stride in the hallway. "We've had a security issue." Hans flicks his eyes towards the janitor, then eyes Antonia. "It's all right, Hans. Karl here reported it. I just only found out. We are keeping this matter in house, if possible. A lapse like this can seriously bruise the clinic's reputation. And the police are short on discretion. But there will be an investigation . . . "

Hans turns his head slightly. Polizei. And after the police, the press . . . This will not do.

"Someone got sloppy in the room where we keep the test results. Mishandling of the specimens. I'm thinking it has to do with you." She watches as Hans and Renie exchange looks. Yes. Intrigue in the world of the powerful. She had chosen medicine over . . . other possibilities, because of this very distaste. "Could someone have wanted to--look, I know this sounds . . . "

Renie sighs, and squeezes Hans' hand. It's all right, Hans. I'll tell her. Hans nods, as if he has heard he every word.

"Renie will tell you what you need to know. I believe I can arrange for an--investigator." As his wife and Antonia sit on the long couch, Hans pulls out his cell phone, and walks to the window, pulling aside the curtain. In a dogwood tree, a pair of birds is returning, having been scared off by the noisy garbage truck, just pulling away. The late morning haze of Los Angeles was finding its way down La Cienega.

"Yes sir," comes the voice of a trusted top man.

"Get me Colin."

Across town, the face of the old guard at Nakatomi Plaza registers more than surprise. Molyneux! Surely, the President of the Hansbank could not have heard about his conversation with Colin, this morning?

For everyone, an eventful morning, indeed.

R ______________

Scene: A medical moment . . . or at least a moment of healing, and, we ought to mention, a dose of healthy desire . . .

A knock at the door. But, no matter . . . the Gruber kiss continues, unabated, and moments later the door bursts open, and the janitor runs headlong into the office--sliding, really, on the loose reports about the floor, scooting across it as if aquaplaning, until he lands, well, on a place which happily enough, is amply provided for such events.

His keyster.

Behind the janitor, Antonia DaMozzici. M.D./OB/GYN. Making a markedly more orderly entrance.

"Well--" A look around her: the overturned desk, the empty chairs, and her patient, locked in an embrace with her husband, on the couch. "--I see you've had a full discussion." The tumult of her office, not a rattling matter to a woman well armed with an unflappable acceptace that life is full of surprises. And sometimes--judging by the loving looks lingering on the Gruber's faces--the surprises can be happy ones. "I've been meaning to get a new desk." She actually delivers the line in such a manner that you believe she may well have had her eye on one or two in particular. Such can be the charm of Italian woman doctors. Her famly name--DaMozzici, means, roughly, "irresistibly compelling in an honest and beguiling way."--

Hans smooths his beard down a bit--though in truth there is not a hair out of place on his well-groomed face. (Renie's face--or, more to the point her hair--is an entirely different matter, best left only to your imagination.)

"Antonia, you'll have a temporary desk, by the end of the day. I promise. And when you find a replacement to your liking--"

Antonia, carefully concerned, and not a bit about her desk. "Are you all right, Renie?" Renie nods, with a look not far from bliss. Leaning into her husband, she makes Antonia to understand that the emotional upheaval has been bridged, and yes, they will be leaving her office very much together.

Antonia's relief and happiness show in a way which we often hope to see in the doctors of today. A genuine smile--broad and warm. She likes also, that Hans has not moved from his wife. She would never have guessed him to become such a man.

"I will send a man to help you--"And here, Hans motions to the mess, with his one freed hand. He cannot spare the other one, which is locked securely about his wife. "--with this."

Antonia shakes her head, her dark hair shifting easily about her shoulders. "No need, Hans. My good friend is very efficient, very discreet, and very loyal." At this, the janitor, who has managed to rise, and shuffle about without moving so much as an inch, smiles. A few awkward words of greeting, and he leaves to get his broom. "But your father has a desk I've always admired . . . "

Get it--an "orderly" entrance--(ducking)--R

R - Post 2 of 2 of reposts
- Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 06:35:43 PM (EDT)

Scene: The remains of a medical office . . .

In a real attempt to say at least half of what he usually thinks, Hans tries to show his wife exactly what she means to him.

Not an easy task. But if words will help . . .

"Have you forgotten the FBI sting--when even some of your friends told you I had not changed--that I had thrown in with The Investors? Was controlling it all? Sacrificing Sinclair--and Billings . . . Was engineering the collapse--"

It takes effort to move out of her position of safety. Putting her finger on the middle of his lips, she feels their softness. It is this voice she uses. "You were trying to protect me."

"And you were trying to protect Mary Anne--although I cannot agree with your choice--"

Her tear-stained eyes close, and she rises up to him, feels his lips meet hers. As she kisses him, his words fill her, and for a moment of magic, they both feel as if they are in Diggory Venn's van, on the heath. They are speaking to each other. The words come, as surely as if they are spoken.

Never leave me. I have walked over the desert, and traversed the wide ocean. I cannot live without your touch. Du bist meine liebe.

Feed me the strength to live. Without you, I forget why there is a point to my life. Come. Live within me. And never leave.

Friday March 26th 1999 12:35:15


Scene: A toppled desk. Scattered papers. Husband and wife.

"Yes, Hans. You are very much a man." A hint of playfulness slips in, but passes, as she must know . . . "But--are you angry with me? Do you believe me?"

Hans still holds her chin in his hand. "Your former husband obviously believes he can come between us--still. Through my jealousy. But, you know I am not who I used to be--as far as--many things." Hans' fingers sponge the moisture on her cheeks. "Love is--an alliance. And trust and faith in you--have made me strong. Against anyone." During his nearly imperceptible pause, Renie can almost hear him mentally tick off the names. Colin. Valmont. "Even HIM."

Renie feels her heart contract--in joy--which threatens to renew the tears so carefully carried off by the chariot of Hans' fingers . . . Her heart--which has been her keep in the battles of love, shrinking inside of her. In shame, at herself. Her failure to confide in Hans. She crumples herself against his chest. Safe, here, safe.

Those who have seen--and felt--the cold power of Hans Gruber would never know the warmth and depth of his heart, beating against her cheek.

"DON'T." The command, however soft. "Don't weep, meine liebe. I know why you didn't tell anyone about HIM. How can I rebuke you, when I've kept things from you--to protect you?"

Wednesday March 24th 1999 12:02:33


"Mary Anne?" she ventures, still being held closely.

Hans. His look of realization, widening, although the pupils of his eyes retain their size.

"You women have a strange logic to your actions. On the day of her wedding, Mary Anne told me that HE loves you as much as HE is capable of loving anyone. This, she knows."

A slight shudder, from Renie, though she is safely locked in Hans' embrace. Mary Anne knows more than she wants to. More than she'll ever be able to forget. "You were discussing HIM--with Mary Anne--the day of her wedding!?"

Now it is Hans' turn. "I asked Mary Anne if HE was a threat to you. Colonel Brandon had told me of her--encounter with HIM. When she helped him to escape. Her--cruelty to HIM. She admitted the cruelties to me, though it was difficult for her. She had a reason, I now see. She did it, I believe, to stop me . . . in case--anything like this happened."

"No one could have foreseen this. Even Mary Anne."

"She didn't foresee this--at least I don't think so, but she knows how much I--love you." He squeezes her, gently. Then adds, "What I would do for you."

"You mean--"

"I would have killed HIM twenty times over, and twenty times again. She knows what it's like to want to kill someone--as good as she is, she knows, and she knows what we are capable of."

"And?" The question hangs in the air.

"And she asked me to spare him. Spare him! Hans spits out the words, as Renie guesses he might have spit them that day. After a pause, Hans continues. "Asked me to act--'so far as my honour allows.' She set me up, those twinkling blue eyes in that wedding dress of hers, better than any confidence man. And I gave her my promise."

Even the somber tone and content of the conversation cannot keep a tiny smile from threatening to transform Hans' serious face.

But for Renie, there is no smiling. Learning how much and how far the Colonel and Mary Anne had trusted Hans, it is not hard to imagine the shame which wracks her now. Hans Gruber, the morality tale. Contra, Mrs. Gruber, the faithless, trustless wife.

Feeling unworthy of such a man, she pulls away from him, slightly. "Forgive me for doubting you--for not trusting you. How can I be such a fool? You were angry with me--I thought--"

Taking her chin in his hand, he gazes steadily at her tear-stained face. "I'm a man, Renie. With anger, with feeling. And you were right to be afraid of my temper." Here, he flicks a look at the upended desk, a now silent witness. His eyes return to Renie. "But you should never be afraid that I will harm you."

"If this be error, and upon me prov'd
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."
Suzanne, you better set aside a month to catch up with us!--R - Thursday March 18th 1999 02:47:19


Wrapped around her, Hans lifts her from the chair, and moves her to the blue sofa to the rear of the doctor's office. A mixture of German and English assurances. Du bist sicher. You are safe.

But she cannot stop the tumble of words, of emotions. "Es ist nicht meine Schuld--It's not my fault, I've done nothing--only, stupidly, stupidly--I should have told you HE was there . . . "

Hans never lets her go, as the story of HIS visit to her bedroom at Delaford--their bedroom--tumbles out. Wisely or unwisely, Renie leaves nothing out--well, as near nothing as her current condition and memory will allow. She does not mention how HE loosened, then tightened the belt of her robe. Quite possibly, she has put this out of her mind. Or wishes to. But everything else . . . Their reflections in the mirror. The Black Orchid in the thin glass case. The knock-out gas, meant for Mary Anne. Hiding HIS body in the armoire. And HIS disappearance--which seemed fortuitous at the time--as the Colonel opened the armoire for his Highwayman outfitting.

If there is hell to pay, then it won't be because she has hidden anything from Hans.

Patiently, Hans listens, still holding her. "Das verstehe ich nicht--I don't understand, mein liebe. Why could not you tell me of this then?"

Renie, becoming more sure of herself. Sure that she has--for once--chosen the right thing to do, finally telling Hans. "You would have turned Delaford upside down, and you and the Alliance Rose would have helped ruin Mary Anne's wedding night. You would have told Commander Hudson immediately--and she, duty-bound, would have informed Mary Anne. I thought I was doing my duty--as her friend." A sigh of frustration at herself. "I don't suppose this makes any sense to you, as a man . . . but I suppose I'm in no position to tell you about making sense . . . "

"It makes sense." Hans bears the look of a man who seems to be remembering something. Then, a slow look of realization takes over his eyes. "You and Mary Anne . . . "

"Love alters not with [time's] brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom" - Thursday March 18th 1999 02:41:34


The VOICE of Hans Gruber, bearing down on his wife. "Have you been with HIM?

And Renie's voice--"Hans, NO!!--"

Her arms up in the air, crossed at the wrists, the rest of her body pressed low to the chair, as Hans approaches her.

She knows she will not have time to give the right answer.

Silently, she sends out a prayer, of sorts, to those that have come to care for her. Befriend the ghost that haunts us, and tame the animal that hunts us. She is not speaking of HIM, of course--but of the past. Those bits and pieces, which, when glued together, stick to us. Follow us. Make us--who we are.

Her words, for all in the Realm. Even for HIM. Even now.

And for Hans. Whom she loves with all her heart. Instead of keeping her eyes closed, and waiting for the blow, she opens them. Hans is coming at her. She uncrosses her arms from their position of protection, and spreads each one wide--out from her side, as if, though seated, she hangs upon a cross.

Hans is whatever future she has. She will welcome it. "To have and to hold . . . "

A second before he is upon her, she imagines that she is sailing. The sky is aquamarine, and the lake is sky blue. There are no waves. Lakeside, a woman is calling out to her. Trying to tell her something.

Renie wears a questioning expression, as she surrenders to hands of fate . . . as Hans Gruber towers over her, his hands raised . . .

And she cries out, as his arms come around her, holding her, cradling her, as her body releases the anguish . . .

"I love you, Hans--I love you--ich habe ihn nicht gesehen!--I haven't seen him--forgive me--" Her sobs become lost in his chest. "I've been true to you--please believe me--"

Hans, on his knees, but still above her, holding her, quieting the storm which has passed over. "Shhhhhh--I do believe you . . .

. . . Abendstern."

"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds/Or bends with the remover to remove/O no, it is an ever-fixed mark/that looks on tempests, and is never shaken/ It is the star to every wandering bark . . . "(Sonnet CXVI)
R - Thursday March 18th 1999 02:39:18


Scene: A sorry one, with no one sorrier than Renie . . .

"I'm sorry . . . so sorry . . . "

Renie's left hand--her alexandrite and diamond wedding ring moving through the air--wipes away her tears, which multiply as if the future of the world depends on it.

His hands. Hopeless, lifeless hands. His voice, within an inch of--but still, under control. "Do you have any explanation?"

"I don't. I wish I knew how the tests could say such a thing. But I don't. Hans, please look at me. Please . . . " She raises her head--she must meet his gaze. Must tell him. Must let him see her--if he will look. Please, God, let him look.

The pleading of her voice, cutting through him. How can this be? Who is this woman? "Tell me. When was it you last saw HIM?"


The jaws of a terrible trap are closing around her. She can feel it, now, like a rabbit, caught in a wood. Perfectly happy, full of life. Full of joy. Then . . . *chnnnkkkk* Like the rabbit, she has no understanding of how this came to be. Only that, somehow, while at play, she has misstepped. And the steel jaws have come to rest, and there is no way out; twist as you might, the trap only tightens.

Hans will not look at her. He stares at his left hand. And never realizes that he is staring at his wedding ring.

"I--I didn't want to tell her--didn't want anyone to know HE was there." Her heart feels as if it will stammer like her tongue. "I wanted to protect Mary Anne--protect her wedding, her wedding night--"

"Whaaaaaat?!" His voice, a powerful command. Hans springs from his chair--a tiger which feels the heat of the torch, thrust at him--

And now, Hans does look at her. His eyes, becoming wild. No. No. You didn't. You wouldn't.

Not the father.

Renie's voice becomes choppy--when words and sobs and cries each battle each other in the struggle to get out first--"Hans--oh, Hans--HE was stalking Mary Anne--or--all of us, really--not that HE was going to hurt her, but I thought--when HE came to our bedroom--and HE--"

Renie's trailing voice barely touches the last word. Grabbing the heavy desk with both hands, Hans upends it. The desktop files, charts, reports, slide with the small vase of irises to the office floor. The sound of porcelain shattering makes little noise on the thick carpeting. But the vase breaks just the same. The desk lands with a rather more ear-splitting crash.

Renie chokes back surprise more than fear, though fear races through her blood--what will Hans do? A worried glance at the closed door, and Hans understands. In one bound, his legs cover the distance, and his hand is upon the inside lock. With a click, they are locked inside.

He and Renie. Husband and wife. Now and forever . . .

"Mephistopheles is not your name
But I know what you're up to just the same" - Wednesday March 17th 1999 10:15:16


There, in the dogwood, two birds are preparing their nest. A male and female, working at the twigs, fluttering about. Weaving. There is a promise of solidarity, of future. The mid-morning sun , the days, the weeks, are mapped out; they will build a home, there. In the dogwood.

"It will be strong. It will be fine," he sings. "Yes," she replies. "It will be ours."

How many such conversations go unheard? In the roil and drum which drowns our happiness or sorrows until they are carried, indistinguishable, in a place we keep secret from ourselves.

His hands, freed of purpose, lie in his lap. Hers grip the long metal bars of the arms of the chair, not lying at rest in the place meant for comfort. At an awkward angle, her elbows jutting out to the sides of her. She is leaning down. She will try to speak. She must.

"Is this true?" Hans asks, not knowing what he is asking.

She knows that the answer is yes. But how can she say it.

Yes is bad. Yes is terrible. But the more words she piles on, the more it sounds like . . . like a wild clutching at reasons for him to believe in her.

"Yes. Hans, the tests . . . she . . . "

"I am not the father of our child?" Not the father.

"That's what the tests seem to say."

Seems, madam, I know not seems.

She cannot tell Hans what comes next. And cannot bear to have him ask. He will hate her. He will leave her. He will kill her.

Renie. Her heart about to break. "The tests say . . . that . . . "

Hans feels the tightness. It threatens to make him rigid as death. Oh no. Renie, don't say it . . . don't . . .

There are tears in her body, weeping out. Pushing tears from her eyes, and from her fingertips, from her feet, from the palms of her hands.

" . . . that HE is the father. I'm sorry, I'm sorry--I'm so sorry . . . "

With a nod to Shax, as ever...
R - Wednesday March 17th 1999 08:26:47

Part 1 of 2 Reposts from March 1999, - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 06:33:43 PM (EDT)

Reminder: start reading at the bottom-most entry in this stacked repost. Not here at the top.

Scene: The consulting offices of Antonia DaMozzici, OB/GYN.

The office is stone cold silent, as Hans begins to decipher the form of the words, and then their meaning.

"The tests indicate . . . "

The baby is fine. The baby is well. The baby . . .

". . . that you are not the father."

Incomprehensible words. Not the father.

"I retested the samples myself, to be sure. There was no error."

Not the father. Not the father.

Unaware that he holds the test reports in his hands, Hans releases his grip, and the pages drop to the floor. The pages scattering.

Antonia quickly gathers them together. She feels cowardly, about to run out--but this matter is far too personal for her involvement, however much she'd like to be of help. Besides, she is not sure how, exactly, she can help. One thought, however, occurs to her on her way out.

"I will give you some privacy. However . . . " A meaningful supportive glance at Renie. "I will be on the other side of the door, if either of you need me."

"Thank-you." The first words from Renie . . .

Startled at the sound of his wife's voice, Hans finally looks at her. There is a tightness, somewhere in him.

Antonia DaMozzici closes the door on Mr. and Mrs. Hans Gruber.

R - Sunday March 14th 1999 06:49:28


Scene: The wood-panelled hallway, where Hans waits . . .

As his cell phone quietly buzzes, Hans pockets the foil wrapper.

"Jah." The stress of waiting.

"Sir--at Delaford. The search is for a woman named Claudia. Missing without explanation."

Hans' right eyebrow raises itself. Abducted? Claudia? Not likely . . . "Jah."

"I'll have more soon," the Hansganger promises, but Hans spies the door to Dr. DaMozzici's office opening.

"Nien. Nicht jetzt. I will call when I'm ready to hear more." *Click* And then a second click. The phone screen glows neon white, the blackness. Powered down.

Doctor DaMozzici does not even need to call out to Hans, who--with one lion's step--is at the doorway. The doctor meets him. "I've told Renie the news. Now I'd like to speak with you both, together. Although Renie has asked to see you alone, I believe this to be a wiser course."

She has nearly said "safer course."

Antonia is holding the door partly closed, so that Hans cannot see Renie. Her professional voice is quiet but commanding. "You can speak alone with Renie in my office in a few moments." She releases the door so Hans may enter. Renie stands at the window of the office, her long brown hair trailing down her back, which is all Hans can see. At her husband's footstep, Renie turns, and brushes aside the long strands which have fallen against her face.

As Hans approaches her, she looks up into his eyes.

Her eyes are red from crying.

Wordlessly, she takes Hans by the hand, and leads him over to the pair of chairs.

Hans allows himself to be led.

"As I said, the results were unanticipated. The tests show no detectable physical abnormalities and no signs of high risk factors. We have every indication of a physically healthy baby, and I expect no surprises during the full term of pregnancy."

"Then--" begins Hans.

"The baby is fine, Hans," assures the doctor.

Renie has not uttered a word.

Hans looks at Renie, then back at Antonia. We are close on Hans' face, as we hear Antonia speak.

"Hans--the tests indicate--that you are not the father."

Better, MA?
- Thursday March 11th 1999 07:36:51


Scene: The other side of the door of the consulting offices of Dr. Antonia DaMozzici . . .

Hans, with his sleek cell phone, standing in the wood-panelled halls of the medical clinic. A bit further down the hallway, a janitor sets down a white plastic bag of trash. The examination rooms and labs have been swept clean since early this morning, scrubbed and sterilized. But bags of trash go out every day at 10:00 a.m., down this hallway and through the back. The truck arrives at 10:30.

Connection made. "Yes, sir?" Ach, yes. Many of Hans' trusted men are tied up in Egdon--overseeing the hospital's progress. The Brandon's wedding gift had been duly reported to the world press by Colin, and had stirred such approval and interest as to require an additional "response" crew on site. To answer questions, field inquiries, and the like. It had turned out to be an excellent public relations event, and, though that had not been any part of the intent, the Hansbank was benefitting once again from the Gruber marriage.

"Clear my calendar for the day. I will have to see the President of the Diet on my next trip to Japan. And the Chancellor can have lunch with me . . . "

"Next Tuesday."

"Exactly. Anything else?"

"Yes, sir. One of the Wessex workcrew heard a rumour that there is a search on at the Delaford estate. I'm working on details."

"Yes. Advise me, if . . . " Hans' voice trails off. The Interrogator? Another resurfacing? Thank God. At least I have Renie safe, here with me . . . away from HIM. "If there's anything to report."

The janitor closes the door to the storage room, and picks up the trash. The door, he sees, has not closed all the way, and once again he sets down the white plastic bag, which, as bags sometimes do, loses it twist tie at the top. He unlocks and closes the door again, firmly. The *whoosh* of air blows the vulnerable top of the plastic garbage bag open, and a small piece of silver foil blows out.

"Yes, sir. And--congratulations, sir. To you and Mrs. Gruber."

"Yes." *Click*

With no sign of a grumble, the janitor easily knots the top of the plastic bag, and hauls off the trash, leaving it out back, minus one tiny silver wrapper, which escapes his aged eye.

Not so the eye of Hans Gruber. A meticulous man, of meticulous habits. Pacing outside--yes, he is pacing, there is no other word for it--he looks at the offending piece of silver foil. Then, at his Baume & Mercier. Ten minutes. Almost.

With growing concern, he keeps his mind from guessing at what is being discussed inside the office. The concern threatens to bloom into annoyance, and he becomes fixated on the small piece of debris which has escaped its proper place. The hallway of a medical facility is no place for trash of any sort, of any size.

His watch again. One minute later.

There is no one else in the hall to pick it up.

As we feel the seconds tick off, Hans walks down the hallway. He leans one hand against the wood panelling, and with the other, leans over to reach the small silvery wrapper. Although the edge of the foil is torn away, the letters are clearly visible.

"Honey-Roasted Peanuts. Compliments of Transworld Airlines."

Hmmm . . . Should he pick it up??--R - Wednesday March 10th 1999 02:16:13


Scene: The consulting offices of Dr. Antonia DaMozzici, OB/GYN.

Nothing of the examination room in here. An office chair, desk, walls of books, medical periodicals. Picture frames, full of relatives back in Italy.

Two chairs.

But no one is sitting.

The hands of Hans Gruber are locked behind his back. His spine, straight, his head upright.

"The results are . . . unanticipated. I would like to speak with Renie alone."

"If there is a problem, I must know it."

No amount of medical experience can keep Antonia from a slight tremble at the tone of Hans' voice. The couple had insisted on coming together, when she wouldn't speak on the phone about it. Now, the doctor stands behind her desk, and forces herself to look at him, directly, as she knows she should. You will know it, Hans, soon enough. Her heart goes out to Renie, to them both. Hers is not the place to judge, but to provide care.

"And you will. However, I believe it is in your wife's best medical interests if I speak to her first."

Hans does not remove his eyes from the obstetrician for a few very long seconds. Then, he moves to his wife, kisses her hands gently, and leaves the office, closing the door behind him. Now, it is up to her to explain the test results to her patient.

"Please sit down, Renie."

Renie complies; her tall figure still does not show any trace of the life within her.

Summoning her courage, Renie lifts her eyes from her lap, and meets the anxious gaze of Antonia. Summoningher own courage, Antonia moves out from behind her desk, pulling the other chair next to Renie's.

"Please," begs Renie quietly, "tell me there's nothing wrong."

Stay tuned . . .
- Monday March 8th 1999 06:55:49


Scene: Dawn, or just past dawn. The house of Hans Gruber.

Yes, he has many houses. Not many of them are--or at least have been--ever used to any great degree. Here and there. Now and then.

This one, he hopes, will become a home.

At this moment, however, Hans is dreaming. Or so he believes. Married to the woman who had evaded him for so long. And now--about to . . .

Hans dreams of their honeymoon. The Greek villa. The soft sand. Warm kisses.

Almost a year ago. Almost too much to hope for. Too much to bear. He turns over. He can almost feel her kisses . . . there . . . against the early morning whiskers of his cheek . . .

He does not want to end this dream. But, he reflects, for one divine thought--and that is that his life, now, does not merely match his dream--it transcends it. She is real, Renie is real: flesh and blood, and his.

And sitting, on the edge of the bed, next to him.

Nearer to him, now. A soft tickling in his ear, then, more insistent . . . rousing him from sleep and dreams . . . but perhaps he can hold out . . . but no . . . the tickling in his ear becoming almost unbearable--its combination working upon him, driving him to . . .

"Hans, how can you sleep when I'm wide awake?"

His eyes, still closed. "Because I'm dreaming," he rumbles.

She settles herself back a bit, to see him engagingly entangled in the white sheets. "Do you think it's too early to call the doctor?"

Hans opens a sleepy, honey-colored eye. "Antonia will call us, there's no need to worry, my love." The "just-about-to-become-a-pout" plays upon Renie's lips. "If you want some company, why don't you call Mary Anne in Delaford? The telephone set-up I've left there is at your disposal."

Renie sighs. ""She's made me her friend for whatever life remains to me (homage) but she's going to think me a silly fool, for wanting to chat with her already--with barely any time since we've left! Besides, it's really for emergencies. I know that."

A number of comments occur to Hans, even in his sleepy state--that together, they are the epitome of silliness, that Mary Anne is likely, for whatever reason, to be feeling the same urge to "chat" as Renie. And some thoughts not nearly so, generous--for he knows how the pair can, and have, gotten up to their necks in effortless trouble at the drop of the hat.

Or less.

But he contents himself with only a nod and a smile, as Renie continues.

"And besides--I've no news for her. Nothing to disturb that picture of happiness and serenity that has--no doubt--already settled over Delaford." Thoughts of Brandon and Mary Anne, surrounded by friends, in a laconic, peaceful world. "Wasn't it a beautiful wedding?"

"Second only to one in my memory," answers Hans, correctly.

"Nothing to mar it," she says, remembering her difficult decision to keep the Interrogator's visit a secret until after the wedding night. A secret, even from Hans.

Even now.

At the sound of Hans' telephone, Renie moves quickly--not a trace of a "woman in her condition."

Wonder if we'll make it to our anniversary . . .
- Sunday March 7th 1999 08:53:12

- Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 06:47:12 PM (EDT)

For anyone who hasn't seen AR's Portrait in Time, go now.

After watching it, I couldn't help but remember that Hans Gruber had already shown us this turn of events, in a series of posts here back in 1999. As it happens it was March 17, 1999. Today is March 16.

Thought it would be fun to repost that series of posts. Remember, as they were posted in real time, posts were interwoven with other authors and other storylines, some of which were connected, and some of which were stand alone. On these dates, Mary Anne was spinning out her magic, and it was a busy time here at FOF. To read those, visit the FOF archives based on dates.

Instead of individual posts as they first appeared, the reposts will appear in two (correction: three) stacked posts. Start from the bottom-most post, and scroll up to the next line break for the next post to read. The dates are there if you lose your way.

(Doubtless I've mucked up the formatting, so if you've any questions, I'll be in my cell. )
- Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 06:25:22 PM (EDT)

Oh my, I don't know what to say, Valmont. It's... it's... perfect. How do you know these things?

Thanks, Cindie & MA! Presents, Chocolate & Champagne, my favorites. :-), - Friday, February 25, 2011 at 06:39:30 PM (EST)

Scene: The twenties. England. The Savoy Hotel.

Or sometime, somewhere, very much like it, by way of the collective efforts of the property magicians, clever construction crew, and the flamboyant costumery not seen since, well, ever, as far as anyone can remember. Not that remembering is very high on the list of mental exercises, right now.

The art deco walls look real, and the glow of golden globes spread a celebratory warmth you can feel down to and through your gloved fingertips.

Jazz notes float above and between. A huge satin sash hangs overhead -- a swath of tiny silver and gold beads spells out "Happy Birthday".

So welcome, and enter.

Centerstage, a real fountain has been built, and instead of water, champagne issues forth like there is no tomorrow. Crystal goblets cut with art deco designs reflect the lights like gemstones and jewels. And, judging by the depth depletion in the fountain, many of the celebrants will be wishing there were no tomorrow, at least in terms of showing up for work.

A pretty pair, standing pretty close to each other. One in a royal blue flapper dress, a twist of gold across her forehead. The other fitted out in elegant black and white.

We can barely overhear them.

"I don't know who is gushing more, Christopher--you or the fountain." Mary Anne's glass is at her lips once again.

"I readily admit to gushing. When a man cannot compliment a deserving woman, that is the day I shall surrender my manhood."

"That's not what I should like you to do with your manhood." She is not looking at him, which explains (along with the champagne) her nerve in uttering such a coup de gr�ce . . . though her victim is voluntary, and the death, most likely, a little one. Mary Anne can hardly keep a straight face, and in fact does not succeed--her cheekbones puff up and she nearly swallows a snort, which results in a very curious sound indeed. Yet no one hears it.

Colonel Brandon takes the glass from her hand, sets it aside.

We cannot hear what he says next, as the words are lost in the sea of jazz.

*wicked grin*
Happy Birthday to the Director! -- R (who refuses to wear the bathing cap headwear or feathers. ), - Monday, February 21, 2011 at 08:05:39 PM (EST)

There is a whisper of silk and the sound of soft leather boots scuffling on the floor as Valmont slips into the dressing room. It is not his dressing room, but still, he does not need to turn on the light as he props the wrapped present up against the vanity�s mirror. He places a white rose in front of the gift and takes a step back as if admiring their placement. With a cat like grace that matches the night vision, he leaves the room and carefully closes the door behind him
Oh, Suzanne, it looks like someone has left you a present., USA - Friday, February 18, 2011 at 08:21:07 PM (EST)

A very Happy Birthday to our esteemed Empress Suzanne! Thanks for all your hard work in keeping this place going these many years.

Now, perhaps a little champagne? And chocolate? And cake? And chocolate cake? 8-D

Behave yourself, Mister I---at least until after the candles are blown out!, - Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 08:23:28 PM (EST)

"It won't happen."

"I agree, it's just a rumour. I suppose I'm just tickled because here you already have a sister."

"She's hardly the type to threaten anyone, let alone be a thief."

"Yes but all the drama over your family--your sister, your mother--right smack in our storyline.

"My 'family' seem to have an inordinate influence. A stronger Hans Gruber would have been at his wife's side during the birth of their first child."

"But we all have emotions which spring from our familial issues--and we are driven by things which---"

"I am not driven

. "Oh I see. Well I'm near sure that our audience understands that your need to control everything and be 'in charge' is due--at least in part-- to the loss of . . . Hans, are you pouting?"

"Not in the least. I'm only saying that I might have--"

"---rushed into the delivery room and pulled out Mercedes yourself?"


"You are pouting."

"I am finishing my tea which has gone cold." His fingers curl around the ivory bone china teacup, one of many which, throughout the day, are provided by the food service on tea carts scattered throughout the shooting set. A first rate caterer does wonders for the soul.

Hans checks his watch. "We're due back in four minutes."

"Walk with me to wardrobe first?" By way of assent, Hans sidles up to Renie's side, his elegant strides finally stopping outside wardrobe's door. As he reaches for the doorknob so does she, and his fingers play upon hers.

The door opens.

"Still, it's funny the way life imitates art."

"Are you saying what we do here is art?"

"No Hans. This is 'serious fun'. What you do is art."

They slip inside.

She'll be tickled, alrighty . . . *wicked giggle*, - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 at 01:02:13 PM (EST)

FoF set, Mary Anne�s cubicle:

�Don�t stop, Christopher.� A soft moan. �Whatever you do, don�t stop . . .�

A low, dark murmur at her ear. �My dearest, I have no intention of stopping---�

�See that you don�t---�

Throat-clearing noises from the doorway.

�Unless, of course,� sighs Mary Anne, �we have spectators.�

A pause in the long and thorough neck-rub, though Brandon does not remove his hands from Mary Anne�s shoulders. �What can do we do for you, Alan?�

The Director leans against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. �I believe the traditional phrase is �get a room,� for starters. You�ll be putting Jutta out of a job---�

Mary Anne stretches luxuriantly in her chair as Brandon and The Director exchange gentlemanly quips. Yes, call it vacation, or hiatus, or what you will, but this return after long absence turns a key in her soul. Best to store up a moment like this against the times when inspiration lags and the alarm sounds too early in the morning and The Director calls for yet another take in his quest for absolute perfection.

Ah, but there is mischief to be reveled in afresh, and though she gives every appearance of relaxing bonelessly into her chair, eyes half-closed, she watches The Director narrowly from beneath her long, dark lashes and gauges to exactitude the moment at which she must snap to alert.

And there it is, and her eyes are wide open, all appearance of drowsiness fled. �What can I do for you, sir?�

The Director actually blinks for a moment, and Brandon smiles down at the floor. Some things never change.

Recovery is instantaneous. �You can have those storyline projections ready on time, for one thing. We have that big season opening sequence at the Palace . . .�

�When have I ever missed a deadline?�

�Never without good reason, and let�s keep it that way. And don�t forget that you have The Interrogator hidden away somewhere, and it won�t be long before the viewers are demanding to know where---�

A chuckle. �Oh, but I�d been thinking of that as our hole card, don�t you know? Keep them guessing, just drop a few clues here and there---�

The Director waves it off. �That will keep, for now. About those scenes coming up at the Palace---�

Brandon ventures to put in a word. �I have a feeling our audience will appreciate that storyline.�

�I hope so. We�re spending a fortune.�

Mary Anne subsides once more into her semi-reverie. It is good to be . . .

Her enjoyment of this moment---no reflection on past travails or future efforts.

It is good to be here.

MA---yeah, Cindie, is it ever on! {{{hug}}} "I'm glad you're back."
- Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 09:53:30 PM (EST)

�Hello stranger,� the voice intoned low in her ear. The figure leaning over her was blocking the light and the murmured greeting set a shiver down her spine. She let it run its course before responding.

�Hello yourself,� Cindie hit the save button and tilted her head toward Mistral. �Are you on a break?� Though she kept her voice cool, Cindie felt anything but, as the smoky voice wound through her senses.

Arthur Sydney Patrick Mistral, the actor who played the Interrogator on Flights of Fancy, was not above feeling rather smug as he noted his companion�s reaction. It wasn�t so much that he needed to see it. Mistral was a man who knew his charms although he wasn�t vain about them. But this was new territory for him and he appreciated the confirmation that familiarity hadn�t bred immunity. He had every intention of being able to engender such a reaction for a long time to come. Mistral reached over and picked up one of the pens littering Cindie�s desk. He twirled it in his fingers. �More or less. The Director just finished up a scene with Suzanne and went off to confer with Mary Anne.� He placed the pen in the empty pen holder and asked, �Have you heard from Therese? I�m beginning to wonder if she and Dev are ever coming back from Scotland.�

�I did, yes,� Cindie replied. Her tone was puzzled however, and she frowned slightly. �The thing is, the connection was terrible. She said something about handing fast or holding fast and there were all these noises and someone screaming about a bloody lemur.�

Mistral�s mouth twitched. �I wonder if it was an annoying animal or if the creature was injured.� He paused considering, �knowing Therese, it could be either.�

�Well, whatever it is, between Therese and Jamie I�m sure they can handle it.� Cindie�s eyes lost their focus for a moment and she didn�t notice Mistral�s narrowed gaze. Recovering from her reverie, she continued, �Do you know what the holding fast thing is? Some sort of Scottish dietary restrictions?�

Mistral did indeed have some notion of what Therese might have been talking about, but he chose to keep that to himself for now. That would be between Dev and his Therese. �I don�t think so, no. We shall have to ask the travelers when they return.� The hint of a smile played about his lips.

�Yes, I suppose so.� Cindie�s tone brightened, �the first of the episodes that they�ve been filming will air tonight. Do you want to ask some friends over to watch it?�

Mistral considered. On the one hand, he�d have to share her company. On the other hand, it would make her happy and he would enjoy seeing his friends. �Do you think the place is ready for company?�

It was Cindie�s turn to be thoughtful. �Not really, but does it matter?�

�I suppose not. Ed will likely be there in any event.� Ed had a tendency to pop in whenever the muse struck him. Mistral had been dubious when Cindie had declared that the artist would be contributing to the design of a �blue room�. He still wasn�t sure what that was going to entail.

�Then we�ll invite them over. What are a few unpainted walls among friends?�

�They are painted, you know. White is a perfectly respectable colour for walls.�

Cindie gave him a speaking look. �Don�t start in on that again!�

�My dear, I wouldn�t dream of it.�

Hello. Is this thing on?, - Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 09:17:18 PM (EST)

Set of the Imperial Palace -- Dressing Room:

As she removes her Imperial costume, she thinks back on the scene just shot. Or rather, after the Director yelled "Cut!" While discussing tomorrow's script with the Director and some of the other actors, she noticed the actor who plays Valmont's silent but very subtle attentions, and now wonders to herself... was he still in character? Or is she imagining things? She shakes her head and decides the intense scene had gotten to her...

Long game...*shivers again*, - Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 03:13:21 PM (EST)

Set of the Imperial Palace � Medical Wing:

The strong lights that illuminated the set are turned off. The actor, still in costume, lingers on the set. He hadn�t been given any lines to speak in the scene just filmed here. But she had. He had watched from the wings while she had stroked the head of the one who played Cadell. Had seen her fingertips brush back the hair from that man�s forehead. His eyes narrow at the memory. Not in jealousy, for he isn�t one to be jealous of any man.

He taps his finger on the rail of the hospital bed. Her birthday is coming up soon. He must consider carefully what gift to give her. She is not one to be swayed by mere gilt and glitz. Oh no. His Suzanne isn�t so shallow as most women. It must be personal, but not so personal as to be overly suggestive. He is in this for the long game. The long game is always the most satisfying in the end. And he will be satisfied.

- Friday, January 14, 2011 at 09:56:28 PM (EST)

Valmont---behave?! Sorry, but it is beyond his control . . .

Or maybe he can behave---atrociously, for example?, - Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 07:10:14 PM (EST)

Flattery, my dear Valmont, will get you...... Oh, who am I kidding, the pleasure is mine. Now behave... or not...

Empress Suzanne
*shivers* (the good kind!), - Saturday, January 08, 2011 at 02:49:37 PM (EST)

Oh, good grief---Valmont's back. Ladies, fasten your seat belts.

Or maybe that should be your chastity belts . . ., - Saturday, January 08, 2011 at 09:07:47 AM (EST)

You have my assurance that I am most grateful to be restored to the pleasure of your collective company. And most especially to the pleasance of your presence, your Imperial Majesty.

It was rather dark and not at all lively in that other place. Astonishingly dull, in fact. A lack of footmen, and wholly inadequate entertainment. This is much more to my liking. And the dining quality is far superior . . . one never knows when a nascent nibble will need . . . satisfaction.
Vicomte de Valmont
Perhaps, Cindie your heart was sighing for me?, - Friday, January 07, 2011 at 12:39:07 PM (EST)

Well, I'm glad you had some downtime. :-)

FOF back issues are now up and working again. And I added a few missing links (okay, not really missing, but they were kinda hard to find).

Suzanne <webmistress@alan-rickman.comfoo>
*blush* Thanks, Cindie!, - Friday, January 07, 2011 at 01:25:23 AM (EST)

Thanks, Suzanne! You're the best!
- Thursday, January 06, 2011 at 07:15:43 PM (EST)

I don't know what even made me look. I haven't visited in ages but I had a little downtime and thought I'd spend it in the Realm. Hope everyone is well! *waves hello* Cindie
USA - Thursday, January 06, 2011 at 07:14:11 PM (EST)

Oh wow! Thanks for the alert. I just logged in to my account to find out the server I used for the FOF archives has "discontinued all hosting services starting January 1, 2011"... and they never e-mailed me to let me know! *grrrrr* But don't worry, the archives haven't disappeared into cyberspace. I have all the files backed up on my computer, so I will upload them to another server ASAP.

Happy New Year!

Suzanne <webmistress@alan-rickman.comfoo>
great start to a new year..., - Thursday, January 06, 2011 at 12:20:00 AM (EST)

Gad, I hope not. =8-O Perhaps Suzanne is doing some maintenance?

Please say they haven't disappeared into the void . . ., - Wednesday, January 05, 2011 at 10:10:51 PM (EST)

Are the ARchives gone?
- Monday, January 03, 2011 at 09:09:30 PM (EST)

A very happy holiday to my FoF family---all of you keep warm and safe!


Christopher, just what are you up to with that mistletoe . . . ? ;-), - Friday, December 24, 2010 at 10:34:35 AM (EST)

Mound of food?! I resent that. Do I deny it? No, I just resent it . . . ;-D

Yeah, maintaining the "willowy slimness" is always a bit more difficult at this time of year. Hope everyone had a happy and indigestion-free Thanksgiving.

Waving dreamily from the post-turkey coma,

And Happy Anniversary, Christopher (smuggling the Colonel into a corner for a cuddle), - Friday, November 26, 2010 at 10:42:44 AM (EST)

Yes, all about traditions. A Happy Thanksgiving to all!

May friends and family warm your hearts!

Errr, MA, dearest, is that you behind that absolute mound of food? A plate of goodies has just walked itself by . . .

Best to you Suzanne!, - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 11:34:36 PM (EST)

Giving thanks as always for my FoF family---I know the hiatus has been far too long, but that entity known as "real life" is an interfering nuisance at times. I miss you all and hope you are safe, well, and happy this Thanksgiving Day.

Saluting with turkey drumstick,

Let's see, what goodies can I sneak past The Director . . . ;-9, - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 10:21:22 AM (EST)

Hi, I'm new. I lurvvveee AR please can i join ??
EH <>
- Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 04:09:16 PM (EDT)

LOL No, you weren't imagining things. But fortunately, I was alerted and cleared it up quickly.

wasn't just me-glad it's gone-
- Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 03:49:43 PM (EDT)

ACC, I do believe it's just you.

Or my computer is especially hardy at blocking those things....
Barbara the Wallpaper-er
drive-by commenting..., - Monday, August 02, 2010 at 08:50:03 AM (EDT)

I am not versed in these things, but there seems to be a porn site superimposed over the guestbook-is it just my computer?
- Sunday, August 01, 2010 at 02:14:06 AM (EDT)

A Happy Fourth of July to Suzanne, to the FOF family, and to the USA.

As always, grill with extra special care . . .

*glances over shoulder*

Dearest, please pass that watermelon over this way!
- Sunday, July 04, 2010 at 10:52:20 PM (EDT)

if I had kept quiet, would you have continued?
- Monday, May 31, 2010 at 05:26:55 PM (EDT)

I am so glad to have you back Maryanne-you are recovered, I trust?
- Saturday, January 02, 2010 at 06:25:02 PM (EST)

That's the champagne fountain . . .

- Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 10:43:46 PM (EST)

And now, in honour of the holiday and of Renie and Hans� anniversary . . .

�The Christmas Song,� Nakatomi Plaza style:

Detonators on an open fire . . .
Bullets nipping at your nose . . .
Hansgang oaths being flung with great ire
While waiting for the cops to show---

Everybody knows
Hans Gruber in his handsome clothes
Helps to make our season bright;
Eurothugs with their eyes all aglow
Are set to blow the roof tonight.

They've heard the Feds are on their way
To run the terrorism handbook play by play;
And every Gruber goon is gonna spy
To see if Hans can really bring the F . . . B . . . I . . .

Und zo I'm offering this simple phrase
To fans from one to ninety-two:
Although I'll leave out all the yippee-ki-yays,
�Merry Christmas to you!�

Holiday hugs to all my FoF family,

MA---which way to the champage fountain?
"And they heard her exclaim as she drove out of sight/Happy Fancies to all, and to all a good Flight!", - Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 10:42:52 PM (EST)

Medical wing of the Imperial Palace, slight flashback:

Christopher Brandon has passed through more than a few bad hours in his life, but this . . .

Mary Anne and Renie need to talk. Alone. Uninterrupted. And so, gentleman that he is, Brandon resists the temptation to eavesdrop.

Except for those few moments when it cannot be helped.

It had, of course, begun with Mary Anne�s exclamation of �Dearest, what on earth were you thinking---!� This before he had even left the room, and there had been similar outbursts at regular intervals ever since of the same character, intensity, tone, and approximate decibel level. From both women.

So preoccupied is Brandon that he has unconsciously drawn a little---a very little---nearer the door when Hans appears with Colin in tow, and the Colonel�s preoccupation is disturbed by a flash of unmitigated envy. Power and privilege, looks and money---many men can lay claim to some of these, fewer to all, and fewer still to all of these and more. Hans Gruber is the more, at times a force of nature for whom doors readily open and difficulties disappear.

Brandon clenches his teeth. He is not generally of an envious disposition, not inclined to slight his own good fortune: health, strength, the comforts of home and wealth and love (though some among you, Gentle Readers, might question whether loving Mary Anne is his good fortune; of that your own opinion of the lady must be the judge).

Still, it hardly seems just that he has conducted himself with restraint . . . and then Hans appears after having mysteriously disappeared and all obstruction parts like the Red Sea.

With that mental image before him, Brandon is able to laugh at himself a little and his mood dissolves. Go back to your wife, man, and don�t be absurd.

There is no objection to Brandon re-entering the room; for him, the orders have already been given. He steps to the door just in time to hear Mary Anne: �Come in and meet your baby girl, Hans.�

Hans approaches the bed as Mary Anne passes the baby to Renie. Her good right arm is now free . . .

And as Hans leans down, Mary Anne�s good right arm comes up, and her thumb and index finger take firm hold of Hans� ear.


It must be confessed that Hans Gruber the Powerful, the Awe-Inspiring, the All But Unstoppable . . . splutters. For an instant. Mrs. Brandon has hold of him by the ear as if he were an erring schoolboy.

�Hans.� Her voice is low, pleasant, and charming. �Just so I have your attention.�

�Mary Anne---!� protests Renie. If protest is something like horror combined with laughter.

Mary Anne continues. Serenely. �To leave your wife alone at a time like this . . . don�t do that again.�

With that, she releases his earlobe as deliberately and delicately as she would relinquish the handle of a Sevres porcelain teacup. �Now, you may meet your baby girl.�

MA---told you she'd do it, R dearest!
At least all she pinched was his ear. ;-), - Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 10:32:29 PM (EST)

Scene: Outside of the medical wing of the Imperial Palace.

Guardsmen and Alliance sentries, officers, security personnel, all continue to closely observe the grounds, with special attention to all means of entrance to the medical wing. The Empress might choose to visit any of the three special patients currently receiving expert medical care, and�down to a man or woman�the security forces will ensure her Majesty�s safety with their lives.

The windstorm, the mistral, has passed. For now, the weather has quieted as if to allow the sounds of prayers to reach their destinations. Prayers of recovery, and strength for Rupert Cadell, prayers of healing for Mary Anne, prayers of relief for Mrs. Gruber, and prayers of hope and the future for newborn Mercedes.

Inside the medical wing, Anton Gruber and Colin Molyneux confer in low voices at a table, as Nurse Lyla Dragomir rounds the corner in the company of Hans Gruber.

�I need to see my wife now.�

Although still full of the Gruber gravitas, it manages to sound like less of an order than it might, and something more like a request.

The nurse�s firm reply does not aim to please.

�Herr Gruber, I was instructed not to disturb the occupants of this room until so notified---or unless one of the buzzers sounds for a medical emergency.� Nurse Dragomir is no pushover�not even for the likes of a man like Hans Gruber�at least, not when the entire medical staff and the Royal forces are on her side.

Hans does not waste another syllable on her, reaching the table and spreading his fingers wide, he places both hands face down on the table beneath him, and leans into it.

Hans meets the understanding gaze of his father. �I cannot wait.� The tone is not pleading; it is a warning. An explanation and exculpation for what will follow if he is denied access to his wife. Hans looks at Colin, who nods in the direction of Lyla, and mouths the words: �Let me.�

�Lyla, I know that Renie and Mary Anne needed some time, but Renie is very anxious to see Hans. Surely, Antonia didn�t mean for Hans to be kept from the room.� His voice softens. �Remember how Renie called for him, earlier.�

Colin knows this will sting Hans, but better that he gets in there, as soon as possible. With so much explain . . .

�I . . . � Lyla hesitates. Her duty is to heal the sick. To follow orders. To keep the area secured. But Hans Gruber is not the Interrogator. Still, this isn�t her call. The chain of command�

�Please, Lyla. He�s not held his daughter yet.�

Lyla�s eyes flash an irritated look at Colin. That�s not my fault�but his. Nevertheless, the nurse exchanges a few words with an Alliance officer, then nods at Hans.

�I�ll be in there to check on you.�

In three strides, Hans pushes open the door.

At the center of the room, two hospital beds have been pushed together so that they are touching, and Renie is sitting up slightly more than Mary Anne, who is using her unhurt arm to cradle the baby.

It is Mary Anne who speaks first. �Come in and meet your baby girl, Hans.�

Happy Wedding Anniversary Hans!, - Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 04:29:31 AM (EST)

Scene: The Tardis.

We detect no clue as to where, exactly, or even inexactly, it is.

The Doctor sits very still at its controls. Then, he rises, as if from a long meditation, he straightens his shoulders.

�That will do.�

And with that, he pours himself some tea, and seats himself elsewhere, and begins to speak aloud, as if dictating to an unseen listener.

Moments later, he finishes his report.

� . . . and I�ve restored the Temporal Grace circuitry, and made some alterations, so the Tardis is much more secure. In this report I have tried to explain the many factors involved in analyzing what happened when The Interrogator used the Tardis to choose a random location for his destination. Most of it may be of little use to you, due to the difference in technology and scientific understanding, however, I believed I should provide you and Mister Mansel with as much information, as is practical under the circumstances. I will confess I was unsuccessful in my awkward attempts to leave my own DNA microtraces on his person, nor could I direct the Tardis to keep a record of the random location chosen.�

He sips his tea. �I believe your best chance of finding Him is currently resting under your care in the medical wing of the palace. That is, Mary Anne. The instruments of the Tardis--the subliminal thought-stream, the randomizer, and such, are complex, and they operate in symphony with other instruments. But in this instance, Mary Anne is the conductor. As she provided the pattern for the Tardis to read, it is Mary Anne�s emotions � her fears, and not the Interrogator�s�which will help uncover his whereabouts. You must speak with her about her feelings, her wishes, and her dreams. Ask her pointed questions. The unseen connections in our worlds have barely begun to be understood, and even less are they appreciated in your world.�

The Doctor stands, and seems to nod his head, as if satisfied, yet his head does not move at all, physically. The economy of energy does not require it.
Hmm. Talk about rusty . . .
(me, not the Tardis) R, - Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 12:34:14 AM (EST)

It's a rare day when there isn't room for dessert! (Hides dessert from The Director)

Giving thanks for all my FoF family---I know I've been away a long time (health-related stuff) but planning to be back "zoon."

Saluting with turkey drumstick,

And Happy Anniversary, Christopher! *cuddles to the Colonel*, - Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 10:21:51 PM (EST)

And a Happy Thanksgiving to my FOF family . . . wishing each of you blue skies (or snowy skies) for your holiday weekend. Best to you and your family, Suzanne!

Dearest. are you leaving any room for dessert?
From bustling Fifth Avenue, where chestnuts really are roasting!, - Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 05:58:16 PM (EST)

Happy Birthday dude
Esther <Maizy.muddyspash@gmail.comfoo>
Lower Hutt, Wellington New Zealand - Saturday, November 07, 2009 at 09:07:59 PM (EST)

Hello, I just wanted to say that your doing a great job and I really enjoy your acting.
Julia Moore <smooreojulia@yahoo.comfoo>
Love your acting, - Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 07:42:02 PM (EDT)

Hey, friends. Just wrote a new book--Where Angels Fear to Tread, as Yolanda Pascal. One of the characters is perfect for Alan and another is a young deducer named William Escott for Holmes fans. it's a fun, funny, edgy mystery thriller about two teens who work on a struggling, cheesy sci-fi cable show, and find mystery and adventure beyond Hollywood. Enjoy!
New book, - Sunday, April 05, 2009 at 03:25:06 PM (EDT)

Happy Birthday to our esteemed AR, Director!

Unfortunately I'm not healed up enough yet for my usual practical jokes on this occasion, but as soon as I'm feeling better . . .

*mischievous grin*

Now, about that shipment of rubber chickens . . . , - Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 04:24:05 PM (EST)

Indeed it was, thank you so much!

mmmmm� chocolate and champagne. My favorites!

Suzanne <webmistress@alan-rickman.comfoo>
P. S. Hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day!, - Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 10:18:27 PM (EST)

It may be Friday the 13th, but no bad luck for us---good luck, rather, for if I recall correctly, it's the birthday of our beloved Empress. Happy Birthday, Suzanne!

*activating fountains of chocolate and champagne*

Huzzah! , - Friday, February 13, 2009 at 09:48:08 PM (EST)

*passing Renie a h*ndkerchief* Tsk. Don't want to waste a drop, dearest.

As for the good Colonel, he is of course welcome to growl in my ear anytime he likes.

Happy 2009, everyone, and here's to the adventures that await us! *pouring refills*

Now, Christopher . . . about that grrrrowling . . . , - Thursday, January 01, 2009 at 08:37:12 PM (EST)

*snorts champagne through nose*

And me, in handcuffs, I mean, Hanscuffs . . . (Mmmmm. Now there's the way to see in the New Year.)

Bear-iff of Nottingham! MA, will you never learn your lesson? (Or are you having too much fun with your personal instruction? Or is it the instructor? I should think the Colonel might bright his opinion to bear in this matter . . . )

Happy New Year to all the FOF family!
Does anyone have a h*nderkerchief for my nose? I don't want champagne drips on my Renie-bear's white scarf., - Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 09:44:00 PM (EST)

I think Suzanne's partner at this party must be Rubeart Cadell. Hmmmm, I picture a distinguished-looking bear with sleek dark fur, and a few strategic touches of silver-gray around the temples and muzzle.

R dearest---as for MA's "punishment" from Hans, I suppose things could've been far, far worse. It could've been George.

The Beariff of Nottingham.

Happy New Year, everybody!, - Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 07:57:15 PM (EST)

Indeed, if that's torture, I must be a masochist. 8-} More, more!
Feels like I've found the hidden corner, right here! :-), - Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 05:41:40 PM (EST)

R, dearest, I can spot only one flaw in your wonderful treat of a post---which is the idea that either I or my character would still be conscious after a full fifteen seconds of Gruber growling.



Truly kein Mitleid. Now, if someone could please show me the way to that hidden corner . . . ?

" . . . chain me to de wall," indeed!, - Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 10:27:42 PM (EST)

Scene: At the Middleton's:

Immense chandeliers of candlelight. The welcoming gold of the walls reflecting the goodness of the hearts of all who enter. Diggory Venn sports his best vermillion jacket, and his best smile, as he dances with a delicacy which would surprise anyone at Hilltop or even twenty miles further. Renie, his current partner, flies about on his arm in a moroccan blue dress falling just below the knee. About her neck swings a dazzling blue cabochon of Roman glass, nestled in a rich embellishment of sophisticated patterning created in repouss�, with additional punchwork on the reverse. Without question, a creation of someone familiar with Eraclius' explanation of how to mold "gems" out of Roman glass in his De Coloribus et Artibus Romanorum.

A holiday celebration in progress. The far table crammed with all manner of fowl and feast is suitably matched by an equally crammed triplet of rooms, linked by trails of laughter and fetching finery.

Sir John is never one to be outdone in setting a party for his friends, unless it is to outdo himself. In this, as in perhaps few other things, he and Mary Anne share a kindred spirit.

As we take in the front east parlor of Sir John Middleton's adequate estate, packed as it is with as many cheerful faces and warm expressions as a night in the Valley of the Moon, we cannot help but notice that in choosing excellent friends brimming with companionship and gaiety, there is also something of Mary Anne in the room.

No surprise, then, that Mary Anne is, in fact, in the room.

And on the hot seat, she nervously thinks to her herself, as Hans Gruber crosses the room towards her. He has caught her eye and has not released her, even as scarely nods his head in acknowledgment to others as he moves relentlessly towards her.

Does Renie feel like this? Stalked? Unable to move? Caught in the Gruber headlights? . Immediately, she shakes her head. No. Because Renie has never given Hans a "Gru-bear" . . . And for a very short time Mary Anne worries that perhaps, through repeated exposure, she has become as reckless as Renie . . .

But then, as Hans nears her, she notes the rest of his deportment--relaxed, genial. But is it really so warm in here?

"Miss Mary Anne. I have today received a very rare gift. While it is dressed in an impeccable suit the color, cut, style und cloth of which I totally approve, I am unsure of the intimation that you think of me as as some kind of, well, stuffed plaything." Ztuffed playzhing.

This was going to be worse than she thought. If she had thought.

What had she been thinking?! All the FOF men--in bears?!

Hans does not help her answer, but maintains his gaze. If she were not so worried, Mary Anne might see the twitch of a smile threatening to ruin the fun Hans is having all to himself.

"I---does that mean you---don't---", she falters, and he succumbs to her genuine fluster, seeing the warmth rush to her face.

"Don't worry." A paws. "There is only one punishment for taking zuch liberties with a gentleman's self-image. Colonel Brandon will have to forgive me. This will only take a moment."

Hans takes Mary Anne gently and discreetly aside . . .

And for no less than fifteen seconds, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrowwwwwwlllzzzzzz in her ear.

Mary Anne, already a pretty shade of rose, crimsons. And begins to giggle, despite trying desperately not to attract notice. Ach. His soft beard against her neck and his voice rumbling in her ear. The Gru-bear sound and touch. He's such an animal . . .

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrowwwwwwwl. If this is torture . . . , - Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 01:09:40 AM (EST)

FoF set, The Director�s office:

Christopher Brandon, a long box tucked beneath his arm, pauses at the door to The Director�s office. �Alan, I . . . oh, I see you received one as well.�

For The Director is staring at a similar box lying open on his desk, staring with mingled exasperation and amusement.

�Yes, I certainly did receive one. Whatever will she think of next?�

One corner of Brandon�s mouth twitches. That particular tone and emphasis on she is reserved for Mary Anne and Mary Anne alone, particularly when she has been up to mischief. �One never knows.� Brandon clears his throat delicately. �I had heard her talk of this scheme before, but it was---oh, years ago, now.� A pause, then a curious lift of Brandon�s eyebrows and a most uncharacteristic gleam of devilment in his eyes. �So, may I see?�

The Director scowls, but there is a smile beneath it. �What�s this? �You show me yours and I�ll show you mine?� Is that it?�

Brandon grins and sweeps the box from beneath his arm. �If we�re agreed, then?�

�Oh, very well . . .�

Simultaneously, Brandon opens his box and The Director turns his to face Brandon.

A moment passes as both men blink . . . and simultaneously burst into laughter.

In The Director�s box is . . .a teddy bear. Custom-made, clad in faded jeans and a hooded sweatshirt beneath a red pullover. The tag around its neck proudly proclaims: The Bearector.

Brandon�s teddy bear is more splendidly turned out in a full-dress uniform jacket of scarlet and gold, its feet in black boots polished to a mirror shine. The tag around its neck declares it to be no less than Colonel Bearandon.

It is several moments before the men can contain themselves. Eventually The Director subsides into chuckles and settles back in his desk chair, shaking his head. �She must�ve been working on this for months.�

�Years, I tell you. Years.�

�I take it we�re not the only ones, then---�

�Far from it.� A third voice: deep and sardonic. Mistral . . . with a box beneath his arm.

Brandon and The Director exchange glances, and The Director finally ventures, �So, Mistral . . .�

�So.� Slowly, dramatically, Mistral lifts the lid of his box.

There is a long silence.

Teddy bears are, by popular repute, cuddly and reassuring. But Brandon and The Director have to subdue a momentary impulse to edge away from the denizen of that box: a teddy bear dressed in a gleaming white shirt and braces, with black trousers and heavy black shoes, steel-rimmed spectacles encircling a pair of glittering golden eyes.

The Inbearrogator.

This time it is Mistral who begins it, deep and welling laughter that booms through the office and the outside corridor, releasing his friends from the momentary ominous shadow to join with him in hilarity, before he turns to Brandon and extends a hand in a mock-threatening gesture. �She couldn�t have done this by herself. She had to have help, so you had best confess and save yourself---�

Brandon raises both hands in protest. �Every particle of it was her, on my honour. I do recall her mentioning the idea before, but I never thought she�d do it, and on such a scale as this---�

�So.� Mistral purses his lips. �Others besides us, then, have shared the same . . . grizzly fate.�

Groans from Brandon and The Director.

�Where is Mary Anne, then? I shall have to be sure and thank her properly.�

Brandon closes his box. �She�ll be at the Middleton house party over Christmas. John was in the mood to throw one of his grand entertainments, it seems. Will either of you be coming?�

The Director is reaching for his coat. �Yes, I had planned to stop in for a bit. You, Mistral?�

�The same. I will see you there, then.�

And so the Flights of Fancy set closes down for the holiday, but many are the stories that make the rounds afterwards, of bears, bears, and more bears. Hans Grubear, no less. A Renie bear in a white silk scarf. The Vicomte de Bearmont in icy satins, his elegant ursine features fixed in such a look of hauteur as few teddy bears have ever been able to claim. A Cindie bear in an emerald-green pullover, with a tiny flask of Chanel No. 5. Professor Sevbearus Snape, black-robed and brooding. Therese�s equestrienne bear, perched on a stuffed Clydesdale---and accompanied by one Eamon de Bearlera. Franz Anton Mesbear. A Claudia bear in thigh-high boots, escorted by Eddie Bear in his paint-stained artist�s smock. And---not to be overlooked---Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Suzanne bear, regal in sweeping black silks and silver tiara.

Thus is Mary Anne able to indulge two of the ruling impulses of her life: her penchant for puns and her affection for her friends. For as we all know, gentle Readers: what would the holiday season be without family, without friends, without love?

Unbearable, that�s what. Simply unbearable.

MA---reaching out to my FoF family with very "beary" Christmas. ;-) Happy Fancies to all, and to all a good Flight!
And Happy Anniversary to Renie and Hans! ;-D, - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 08:01:42 PM (EST)

Imperial Palace, medical wing:

�Mercedes. It is good to have you in the world.�

Brandon, watching from his post by the doorway to the anteroom, glances over at Colin; the answering look confirms his growing anxiety. This, it appears, will be no typical Mary Anne and Renie Chat. Indeed, how can it be? For both of them are worn with fatigue, as battered as survivors of a shipwreck, cast up here on the shores of these white sheets. What now of banter and needling and the exchange of old jokes, their flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? (Alas, poor homage) There is a sense of purpose in Mary Anne�s face that makes him uneasy, and for all that he knows these friends must be eager to speak privately, Brandon is tempted to plant himself on guard at the door and not budge. These women? He knows them of old and is in no doubt of their affection and friendship . . . but questions lie unanswered between them.

Mary Anne, as he can clearly see, will have answers.

It is good to have you in the world.

Mercy, he can tell, is far from her mind---and (Readers, Brandon would not be less than honest in such a case) far from his own as well. Let The Interrogator come near them again and I shall astonish HIM with how little mercy is in this world. It is a warming thought, and for once Brandon indulges it, fully and shamelessly, his mind running upon images of his enemy at sword�s point. Or there is the memory of HIM in Egdon, fallen upon the stones, HIS leg broken, unable to flee . . .

Enough of this: Brandon can feel Colin�s gaze upon him, but then they are distracted as Anton picks up Mercedes in his arms and turns to Renie. �I shall take good care of her.� Goot care. �We shall not be far away.�

Anton heads for the anteroom, pressing his granddaughter�s soft cheek against his own and murmuring low to her in what might be German, and Brandon watches in bemusement as they exit the room. By reputation, Gruber men are neither cooers nor cuddlers. Though perhaps I lack Renie�s perspective.

Brandon straightens and takes another look about the room. On the subject of Gruber men----where on earth is Hans? Surely he should be with his wife at such a time as this? With the whereabouts of The Interrogator unknown, the idea of Hans Gruber unaccounted for, a possible loose cannon, is enough to send a tremor through nerves of steel. Whatever I might lack in mercy toward that man, better that HE should encounter me than Hans.

That, for the moment, is the nearest thing to pity that Brandon can feel.

Others are beginning to filter out of the room----nurses, guardsmen, assorted medical personnel, as the two women are made comfortable as reasonably possible in their respective conditions. Brandon can feel it, a sort of subliminal understanding that these two women have important matters to discuss, and another glance at Mary Anne�s face confirms it: that white, set look as though nerving herself to face yet another pain . . .

. . . and she catches his eye, glances toward the door, and then back to him again.

Brandon, his features under good control, is tempted to remain and pretend misunderstanding. Surely he could be a source of comfort to them both? Or serve as a voice of reason in what must follow?

Colin claps him on the shoulder: �Let�s get out of here, Brandon. The ladies have things to discuss.� Striving for amusement and making a good show of it, for Mary Anne and Renie both smile at him in confirmation, but the boding stillness of the room . . .

Brandon gathers them both in with his glance. �If they are quite certain . . . ?�

�We are.� It is Renie who speaks. So she feels it as well. �Shoo, both of you. We�ll be fine, and you�ll be right in the next room if we need you.�

Brandon gives Mary Anne that measuring look of which he is master, and is faintly alarmed when she returns it steadily. �Christopher, I�ll ring for help if we need it, I promise.�

�Very well.� No attempt to admonish; with an effort, he even manages to banter a trifle, his eyebrow winging upward as he turns to Renie. �Do not keep her awake far into the night.�

Too good to resist. �Of course not.� Demure devilment. �That�s your privilege.�

Brandon, his cheekbones burning red, allows Colin to steer him out the door with a friendly murmur of, �You can�t win with those two, Brandon.� A murmur that almost---almost---drowns out Mary Anne�s exclamation, once the way is clear, of �Dearest, what on earth were you thinking---!�

I think I remember how to do this . . . ;-), - Friday, November 28, 2008 at 06:09:27 PM (EST)

Yup, home for the holidays, among my FOF family. Many Thanks.

MA, dearest, any wine is fine wine, when good friends are to be had.

*Raising a glass*

To the best of friends.
And now for that stuffing . . . mmmmmm, - Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 12:20:32 PM (EST)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

*saluting with turkey drumstick*

Thankful for my FoF family and glad to be back among you,

R, dearest, what wine with drumsticks? ;-), - Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 09:39:52 AM (EST)

Thanks, R dearest. Doesn't he know chocolate truffles are simply full of iron? (surreptitious noshing noises)

Oh, and while I'm here: Happy Anniversary, Christopher . . . (whisking the Colonel off into a corner for some smuggled snuggles)

Finally able to come back . . . now, do I still remember how to get into mischief? ;-), - Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 10:11:51 PM (EST)

- Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 09:56:30 AM (EST)

A quick peek from behind the curtain to send get well wishes to Mary Anne--from all the cast and crew of FOF!

No black orchids, please!
R *slips MA a box of chocolate truffles in a brown paper wrapping* . . .
. . . so the Director won't see!, - Monday, October 06, 2008 at 05:11:43 PM (EDT)

Happy Labor Day to all, and the usual BBQ-related warnings apply. ;-)

And all you Gulf Coast Rickmaniacs, hang on tight!

Keeping an eye on ol' Gustav . . ., - Monday, September 01, 2008 at 03:14:56 PM (EDT)

Thanks, ACC, for the kind words.

There will be no touching, Mister I, so keep your hands to yourself if you want to keep them. As for "gifts," you have plenty. It's how you use them that disturbs me.

Someday I'll learn to ignore that man . . . but today is not that day. ;-), - Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 08:54:44 PM (EDT)

How touching.

And me, without a gift.
The Interrogator
- Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 01:09:02 PM (EDT)

MA, it is very nice to hear from you. I have missed you soooooooooooo much
where is everyone else now?, -

Imperial Palace, medical wing: Mary Anne would be willing to argue this point, but her attention is caught by a sound from the corridor. �What on earth is that? It sounds like a circus parade is coming down the hall!�

McCoy grins. �Let me know if you see any elephants; it means we gave you the wrong meds.� Turning away and taking a deep, silent breath of relief that Mary Anne�s attention has been diverted from their grim conversation, McCoy steps to the door and swings it open . . .

And the party comes in.

A circus parade, indeed. A festival, a celebration. A float of thanksgiving.

Mary Anne�s eyes are enormous, taking it all in. Christopher, Colin, Anton . . . and a formidable escort of Imperial Guardsmen who flank the rolling bed as though it were the barge of Cleopatra. But reclining on the cushions, not the serpent of old Nile . . .


Renie raises one hand, as the other is still protectively cradling . . .

�Mary Anne, dearest . . . �

A blanket-wrapped bundle.

It is certainly a reunion under difficulties. Any other meeting of these two women would involve much hugging, but how to engineer a hug when the principals are confined to hospital beds? Slowly, carefully, with manoeuvres reminiscent of an air-traffic control crisis, the beds are brought alongside each other where hands can meet and clasp.

Smiles and tears. Incoherent exclamations. Tolerant grins from the assembled onlookers, until finally a hush falls when Renie gestures to her father-in-law.

Anton steps forward, reaches down . . .

�Frau Brandon, allow me to present to you my granddaughter, Mercedes.�

As the bundle is laid beside her on the bed, and the blanket drawn back . . .

Mary Anne looks down into that tiny face, hardly knowing what she expects to see. It is certainly too early to detect family resemblances. Aren�t all babies pretty much the same, at first? Especially this soon after birth: red, wrinkled, with eyes of generic blue-gray. Yet she finds herself examining the small features---surely the forcefulness of the Grubers extends to the genetic level and would stamp its imprint even on a babe in the womb. Yet there is Renie to contend with in the equation as well, and Mary Anne finds herself wondering if the baby�s hair will turn silky chestnut. Or perhaps her inheritance from Renie will show in the eyes, that changeful blue-green . . .

Enough. The child is what she is, and what she will become, no one can guess.

Mary Anne looks up at Renie, a long, level glance full of meaning, then back down at the baby whose eyes have opened and are gazing up at her.

Mary Anne puts out a finger and strokes the silky head.

�Mercedes. It is good to have you in the world.�

Time for the long drought to end---and sorry about the wait! Now, if some others can come out to play as well . . ., - Friday, August 08, 2008 at 09:53:53 PM (EDT)

Happy Fourth, everyone!

Careful with the fireworks and the barbecue grills . . .

After all, HE could be lurking about!, - Friday, July 04, 2008 at 07:39:50 PM (EDT)

I long for nothing more than to give you a hug and thank you for all that you have brought the world of acting! You are terrific, Alan, and I've fallen in love with you. Mail me, and we'll talk!
Big Fan <rudundantmailforme@gmail.comfoo>
A Hug, - Thursday, July 03, 2008 at 11:05:35 PM (EDT)

Sure, I'll have some of that. *clink* Happy Birthday, FOF!

Is RL getting lessons from HIM? Hope it gets kinder soon! :-), - Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 08:14:57 PM (EDT)

It's June 18th---Happy Anniversary to FoF!

I know it's been mostly crickets chirping here lately (real life has been downright unkind) but I hope to resume posting soon and I hope some of our old regulars will join me. Meanwhile, I continue to salute this wonderful institution of Flights of Fancy.

Champagne, anyone?

Salut!, - Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 10:40:58 PM (EDT)

Hear, hear! *raising a glass to the Bard of Avon*

To the source of so much inspiration for us, with "these blessed plots, this earth, this Realm . . ."

Go, Shax!

With all this talk of shaving, maybe it should be the Beard of Avon . . ., - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 07:58:00 PM (EDT)

Bite him?


On that interesting mental image, the happiest of FOF birthday wishes to William Shakespeare (born April 23 1564) who has given us so many characters with which to identify, amuse ourselves, distance ourselves from, and give homage.

Happy 444 to the Bard!
Any offers to shave Judge Turpin?, - Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 01:18:47 PM (EDT)

Still in the FoF cafeteria:

Mary Anne finally gets her wheezing under control.

�Mistral, if I weren�t a lady, I�d bite you.�

�If I weren�t a gentleman, I�d let you.� He pauses for the inevitable chortles and eye-rollings from both women. �Now, what is this I hear about---� Leaning forward as his voice sinks ominously into its deepest registers. �---my power to inspire terror?�

�HIS power to inspire terror---� protests Mary Anne, as Renie chimes in with, �Not that you aren�t inspirational on your own as well.�

�Mmm. Yes.� He settles back, steepling his fingers in front of him, and ponders. �Mary Anne, you�re right that The Interrogator can�t be allowed to stay out of sight too long. Do you have anything specific in mind? After all, this does concern me.�

�Well, since you were eavesdropping, you heard what I said about security and concealment. I do have some specific things in mind, of course; the problem is choosing which. For me, it comes down to two choices, or maybe three, that would give HIM what HE wants.� Mary Anne suddenly grins, more alight with mischief than she has been in months. �Another planet might be fun, but I ruled that one out because of the extra expenses; I�m sure The Director would rather stick with sets we already have. But wouldn�t it be fun to pitch it to him? The Interrogator . . . In . . . Spaaaaaace!�

It is good that Mistral is not drinking anything, or else Mary Anne would be well-revenged. As it is, she is satisfied to see him spluttering with mirth, as Renie adds, �It�s been so long since we�ve heard a good solid bellow of NO ALIENS!�

�My character is not an alien!�

�Yes, well, there are times when HE isn�t exactly human, either,� mutters Mary Anne, before returning to business. �Here are the possibilities I�ve considered---�

Moments later, Mistral nods, then slowly lowers his hands to the table and looks slyly from one woman to the other. �I can think of one more.�

Mary Anne and Renie exchange glances. �And that would be?� prompts Renie.

With a stealthy glance about at the other tables---no one watching or listening now---Mistral slowly traces a word on the tabletop with the index finger of his right hand.

Mary Anne�s eyes remain fixed on the table for several moments before she looks up at Mistral. �That�s crazy.�

�Insane,� confirms Renie.

�Barking mad.� Mary Anne stares down at the invisible word that is still so plainly before her eyes. �And just the sort of thing HE would do.� A slow grin. �Good thinking, Mistral.�

Mistral refrains from obvious preening, but without the slightest alteration in posture he is suddenly the incarnation of Cat, Lord of the Dairy.

�Now, the interesting part will be to sell it to---�

At that, The Director enters the cafeteria. Mary Anne is about to call him over when she sees that he is accompanied by Cindie and Linda from the front office, along with a man she has never seen before. �Who�s that, I wonder? Do you know him?�

Renie shakes her head. �Haven�t seen him. Must be someone new.�

Mistral nods. �Looks like your typical Welcome to the Set tour. Cindie and Linda are probably getting the paperwork in order.� A second, harder look at the man in question, then a slight frown. �Needs a shave, that one.�

Mary Anne hoots. �It hasn�t been so long since you were bristly and disreputable, you know.�

�Sacrifice for the arts,� replies the imperturbable Mistral, fingering his smooth chin.

�Well, maybe that�s what this is,� murmurs Renie. �Maybe it�s for whatever role he�s going to play.� It is a soft murmur indeed; perhaps Renie is a trifle distracted by thoughts of a Gruber jawline.

�Maybe he�s eeeevil,� intones Mary Anne. �Are you up for a little villainous competition, Mistral?�

Mistral�s answering snort, in no way to be attributed to laughter or accidentally inhaled beverages, makes short work of that idea.

MA---don't forget that now Judge Turpin is up for grabs as a character!
If anyone's interested, that is . . . , - Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 10:39:45 PM (EDT)

Happy St. Patrick's, everyone!

Is Dev standing by with an appropriate toast? (Or even an inappropriate one . . .), - Monday, March 17, 2008 at 08:16:38 AM (EDT)

Fixed. Well, sorry I didn't get something done sooner. :-)
Suz (D.o.C.)
He has permission to put his hands on my should anytime. 8-].....

Ooops! D.o.C., please? Two things:

�We�ll, we�d better get something done . . ." That should be "well" and not "we'll."

"A hand settles on her should and a voice breathes right in her ear . . ." That should be "shoulder" and not "should."


Don't know where the "should" is located, but Mistral is too much a gentleman to go putting his hands on it without permission---of that I'm certain! 8-), - Tuesday, March 04, 2008 at 09:06:58 AM (EST)

Later that same day, the FoF cafeteria:

�---and The Director said this is not to be a �Mary Anne and Renie chat,� if you know what I mean.�

�How can it not be a �Mary Anne and Renie chat� when Mary Anne and Renie are chatting?!�

Renie sighs, a little too dramatically, and pushes aside a stack of script pages. �It�s not like him to be so unreasonable.� Carefully keeping her face straight, she watches Mary Anne from the corner of her eye.

Mary Anne does not fail to take her cue. �Yeah, just because a talk between our characters usually takes three months worth of script writing for half an hour�s talk---I think it balances out, don�t you?�

Renie bites her lip and considers. �Well, in this case, we have to remember that my character has just had a baby---�

�And mine is in recovery after surgery. Perhaps they won�t feel much like talking to each other . . .�

The two women look at each for a moment and then burst into guffaws so loud that a ripple of amusement passes through the entire cafeteria, and the cooks and servers all the way back in the kitchen glance over their shoulders and smile, exchanging looks of They�re at it again!

Indeed, they have been �at it� for a good portion of the late morning and the early afternoon, and the table is littered with the remnants of lunch, with scatterings of paper and cups of tea and saucers of cheesecake crumbs. As their giggles die down, Mary Anne briefly considers going back through the line for another slice of cheesecake, then shakes her head and heroically pushes away her plate, remembering Brandon�s gift of chocolate truffles for Saint Valentine�s Day, and the accompanying note:

Whatever you do, don�t tell The Director, or he�ll be after us like Javert.

That part of the note had made her laugh aloud. (Inquire not, Readers, as to the rest of the missive, which had provoked a response quite different though no less appreciative.) However, Mary Anne is under no illusions as to The Director�s awareness of what takes place within the confines of the FoF sets. He had known of the gift; of that she is certain. But he�s been decent and hasn�t said a word about it. The least I can do is not make myself sick on cheesecake.

Mary Anne reaches for another stack of pages. �Our characters, not up for a good talk? Then is doomsday near.�

�They�d have to be dead not to talk,� chuckles Renie as she refills the teacups.

Mary Anne�s eyes narrow. �Don�t let that give you any ideas, dearest. If I�ve said it once, I�ve said it a hundred times---�

�I know; I know! �There will be no dying!� And I doubt if even that would stop us. If one of us were dead, our ghost would come back for a chat.�

�Well, we�d better get something done to show His Directorial Majesty---� Sardonic, but affectionate. �---or else he�ll make ghosts of us.�

Renie nudges her arm. �Mary Anne, I dare you. Go to his office and tell him that when the time comes, we�ve decided to go improv on the chat scene.�

�If I want to die, there are easier ways! He�d murder us in the first if we told him we�re going to improvise on a scene that important.�

�Foul and most unnatural murder. Right.� Renie stirs her tea. �But we do have a lot of catching up, don�t we.�

�Oh, I�ll say. The Clemenceau document, for one thing; Mary Anne�s going to be, um, somewhat perturbed about that. Along with Renie having her baby and Hans not being there with her; just you wait until Mary Anne gets her hands on him---�

Renie smirks. �Fair enough, if Renie gets her hands on Brandon. An exchange?�

Mary Anne flaps her napkin at her comrade. �You know what I meant, Trouble! Now, let�s see; what else?�

�As if that�s not enough! Well, there�s The Interrogator. Speaking of doomsday and murder, I�d say HE would be a major topic. And just where have you stashed HIM, anyway? It�s the sixty-four thousand dollar question these days.�

�Me?� A wide-eyed stare. �What makes you think I�d know where HE is?�

�You should know by now that innocent routine doesn�t work with me! Where on earth is the man?�

A soft chortle. �What makes you think he�s on earth?�

Renie settles back in her chair. �Well, the Tardis picked up on HIS desire for a place of security and concealment. I hardly think most of us would choose another planet if that was our foremost desire.�

�Well, I do have a few ideas---but you�re right, I need to be making up my mind. We can�t keep HIM out of the picture for too long, you know. A bit of absence with that character builds up the suspense, but keep HIM gone too long and it might be out of sight, out of mind---� Mary Anne sips at her tea. �---and The Interrogator would lose HIS power to inspire terror.�

A hand settles on her shoulder and a voice breathes right in her ear, �Would I indeed, Mary Anne?�

Renie grimaces and pushes back her chair as Mary Anne utters a choked wheeze and a fog of exhaled tea settles over the table . . .

Naughty man, sneaking up on people like that . . ., - Sunday, March 02, 2008 at 09:39:34 PM (EST)

Scene: Just inside the writer's offices.

�Well, good morning.�

Claudia thinks of replying with �Is it?� but discovers that she has her hands literally full up nearly to her nose, trying to manage the towering bundle of costume ideas she volunteered to bring in to Wardrobe. So a muffled clothing-covered greeting is all that issues from her mouth. Besides, she is actually in a great mood, despite the ten o�clock hour.

�Can I help?� Renie takes a share of the spoils, and together they saunter towards Wardrobe. How very like Claudia not to use a suitcase, or a rolling rack, or any other ready means of transporting costumes. Claudia wears a happy expression, as if remembering where she was�and what she was doing�a mere handful of hours ago.

�I wasn�t sure you�d be in this morning.� Renie has heard that Claudia tore up the dance floor tiles with Ed, Colin, and whomever else she could lasso.

�Dancing always gives me energy�for days.� Claudia�s step is in fact light and quick. �It was a wonderful party, though not everyone stayed so late. You left early?�

Renie balances her pile in one arm as she knocks and opens the storage door. Inside, a long, wide, niched hallway used for �dressing up� possibilities reveals some strange and still unexplored FOF adventures yet to come. �Not so early. The Director was already well �roasted� by his writers and actors, and the technical crew had ummm . . . presented their pyrotechnic birthday cake. I�ve never seen the like.�

Claudia wonders aloud how the cake might have tasted if the fireworks hadn�t been so liberally applied.

�Maybe we�ll use the footage somehow. It was pretty spectacular. At least, before the cake and icing bits landed . . . the camera crew shot it all. I think they got the worst of it. Thanks, Renie. Are you coming?�

Renie looks down the hallway, and sits on the edge of a chair, careful not to wrinkle some fabric carefully slung over its back. �In a few minutes. You go ahead.�

Claudia cocks her head to one side. �Getting an idea?� She waves and leaves Renie to survey the �futures� room.

But her mind was in the past. The recent past�last night, at the party, where she had clapped, and sang, but more or less stayed in the background. The Director had looked genuinely satisfied, surrounded by people he considered friends. At ease�except perhaps a moment of understandable concern over the mini-explosion of the cake; how he immediately reassured the assembly when he asked if his next birthday gift might be a fire extinguisher.

He was a man for whom life would always be about opening doors, and for whom friends would always be at his side.

She was honored to be one of them.

Yes. The kindest and best of men. Happy Birthday!, - Friday, February 22, 2008 at 02:25:23 PM (EST)

The Director�s office:

The Director enters . . . and stops.

There on the desk is a long envelope and a potted plant.

He approaches warily. On this particular day there are often practical jokes, particularly from Mary Anne, and their relations have been somewhat strained lately. His instructions and questions with regard to her work have been met with rather snappish replies. Knowing her as he does, however, he had followed a policy of restraint (no, not that kind, Readers---minds out of the gutter, please) and courtesy, even going so far as to pretend ignorance of the box of chocolate truffles Brandon had delivered to her cubicle on St. Valentine�s Day. Those, perhaps, had restored some of her sweetness of temper, and with that hope, he picks up the card and opens it.

The Director smiles.

The card wishes him a happy birthday and contains a hand-lettered coupon:

This coupon entitles the bearer to one day free of mischief, payable immediately upon presentation.

Next to her signature is a tiny drawing of a silly face, which causes him to grin back as if Mary Anne stood before him. Yes, perhaps things will be better now.

The Director turns his attention next to the houseplant, a handsome specimen with long stems bearing glossy green leaves and white flowers. Fortunately, it does not seem to have the same tendency to . . . proliferation . . . as her gift of the kudzu plant, which he had finally had to have removed from the office---�before I have to prune it with a flamethrower,� he mutters. This, however, seems to be something that can be kept within reasonable bounds.

His brow furrowed in concentration, he steps over to the next room. �Cindie?�

She looks up from her work. �Boss?�

�What do you know about plants?�

�I work some with roses. Why?�

He gestures. �Come here, please.�

She complies. At his gesture toward the plant on his desk, she answers, �It�s a peace lily, sir.�

MA---at last, a chance to break the drought.
Happy Birthday to The Director!, - Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 08:42:03 AM (EST)

Hi Anne--

I don't think the "True Love's Curse" storyline was ever finished. However, not all of 2004 has been loaded into the Archives, if I remember correctly. Suzanne has been working away at it but has been plagued with computer problems lately. So you might want to check back after all of 2004 is available.

A trip to the Archives is always fun. Or should that be the ARchives? ;-), - Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 08:16:08 PM (EST)

Hello everybody, I'm sorry but I haven't been here for years, and recently I decided to collect the complete True Love's Curse story I loved so much. I started collecting the entries... And haven't found anything after Lee's last post in the Back Issues (March 2004). Have I missed the ending or is there nothing more of the story?.. Thanks in advance.
Anne <notre2005@yandex.rufoo>
- Friday, January 04, 2008 at 08:16:35 PM (EST)

Would you pour me a spot of that, R, dearest? Thanks.

Christopher, suppose you follow the excellent example set by Hans . . .

MA *sigh* I do so love a nice nuzzle.
Happy New Year, everyone---here's to the adventures awaiting us in 2008!, - Monday, December 31, 2007 at 11:55:09 PM (EST)


Never too early for a bottle of bubbly . . .



*raises glass*

To you, you each know who you are!

R (Hans), how can I sip if you're nuzzling me?
Joy in the New Year!, - Monday, December 31, 2007 at 11:06:53 PM (EST)

A Happy and A Merry, to all!
- Monday, December 24, 2007 at 08:03:48 PM (EST)

*sigh* R, dearest, I did try to warn you in that e-mail . . .

Here, Hans, let her lie down on this. *spreading the fainting couch with extra cushions*

Suzanne, if ever I saw a punishment designed to tempt someone to further sin---yow. AR fondling beautiful old books: what's not to love?!

Howling like a barbarian librarian--arooooooo!, - Friday, December 21, 2007 at 08:11:06 PM (EST)

I'm sure the h*nd business must have been all AR's idea. It *might* even make up for the fact that they don't let him sing Johanna . . .

Oh, Suzanne, I keep rewatching that beginning . . .


*more noises*
Hans, darling, the idea is to catch me *before* I'm on the floor . . .
R, - Friday, December 21, 2007 at 02:14:45 PM (EST)



DOC, you are most kind, but Suzanne!!! You are MOST wicked!

Someone pleeeeeeease help me . . . no, wait . . . don't . . .


Oh dear, there are those noises again.
That clip could be debt service for a year!--R, - Friday, December 21, 2007 at 02:09:00 PM (EST)

Imperial Palace�elsewhere in the Medical Wing:

�If you are certain you wish to do this, Your Majesty . . .�

A firm nod from The Empress. �I am certain.�

�Very well.� Mansel gestures to the door and then steps back. �Only . . . please recollect what Doctor Blalock has told us. There is every hope of a full recovery. Call if you need anything.� With that, Mansel withdraws, leaving The Empress to her private thoughts and the beckoning door.

She knows---none better---the difference between hope and expectation. Between expectation and certainty.


A brief intake of breath and she is through the door.

Looking at Rupert Cadell.

Slowly, slowly, the held breath is released. She had been told what to expect, told that her chief advisor�s condition is better than it looks. Well, it would almost have to be better---hard for it to be worse. The tangle of machinery, the ominous lights, assorted beeps and clicks and hums . . . and Rupert himself. The Empress steps closer, wondering if there had been quite so much silver in his dark hair before.

A second look, however, reveals some promising signs. Rupert is breathing on his own---slow, shallow breaths, but powered by no device but his own will and strength.

And there . . . the faint glitter of barely-opened eyes.

A sigh of greeting.

� . . . Majesty . . .�

Dignity be damned. She is there in a heartbeat too quick to be measured on any monitor. �I�m here, Rupert.�

A long pause, then another gathering of breath. � . . . not a dream, then.�

�No.� Softly. �None of it.�

Rupert�s left hand stirs, and The Empress settles her fingers on it, light as the fall of a leaf, tender to the bruises. Soft as her touch may be, she can feel his skin shiver under it, but she fights the impulse to withdraw and after a moment he calms and his heart rate steadies.

�Is HE . . .�

No mistaking those ominous capitals, even in that low whisper. The Empress shakes her head. �Escaped. We�re searching.�

�Mrs. Brandon?�

�Injured, but it missed everything vital. She�ll be up and about in no time.�

�Mrs. Gruber? The baby . . .�

�Is here, and she and her mother are just fine.�

For a moment, Rupert seems to rally his strength. �No ordinary girl---heiress of the Gruber empire. Empires, rather. Should start her dossier immediately---�

�Plenty of time for that,� laughs The Empress, rejoicing inwardly at this flash of the Rupert she knows.

He continues as if she had not spoken. �---and keep her safe. Just by being Renie�s daughter . . .� His voice drops, fades. �The Interrogator---�

�Shhhhhh. We have thought of that, as well. They have Guardsmen and Alliance all around them. Everything will be all right.�

Hope. Expectation.

Certainty? She must behave as if certainty is possible. She must make him believe.

Already, his eyes are fluttering closed, the surge of strength exhausted. One more touch of her fingers upon his. �Be well, Rupert. Hurry and be well. I need you.�

His eyes are closed; his breathing slow and regular. The Empress leans over him, watching for a moment, then reaches out to smooth his dark hair with its tracings of silver, brushing it back from his pale forehead.

No one to see. No one to know.

No one to hear if she murmurs a phrase from an old carol.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

"Love really is all around . . ." 8-), - Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 11:39:39 PM (EST)

Ah, the good old days. Posts deleted/un-merged. Since Mr. I, of course, is apparently to blame, no shackles for you this time, R. However, for old time sake, remember the h**ds debt service? Watch this video. Yes, I know it will be extremely difficult without fainting dead away, but... Hans will be there to catch you. :-)

No rest for the wicked...
Suz (D.o.C.)

And it looks like it ate part of my last post as well. *shaking head* Poor D.o.C.---good thing they work through the holidays as well. ;-)

MA---don't fret, R dearest; I blame HIM, of course.
As a matter of course. "Oh, a horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless it's Mister I . . .", - Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 10:17:41 PM (EST)

And SHACKLES of course!

DOC, please delete the double entry. (Really it should have been one long post--oh bother!) Thanks.
Penitent. Yes. , - Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 08:56:17 PM (EST)

Scene: And we are in FLASHBACK . . .

A close-up of hands.

Fingers are spread apart, slightly, and we pull back wider to see a man, sitting with his head in his hands. The voice of Anton Gruber, silky, soft, consoling, even as he grapples with the loss of his only daughter. In German he tries to soothe his eldest son.

�We cannot always protect the ones we love.�

Hans� hands slip from his face�revealing the younger, less careworn, but equally defiant face of Hans Gruber, red with anger and sorrow. Competing emotions run behind his tiger-eyes, so he closes them, shutting out the voice of his father, the cries of his sister . . . he shakes his head, as if to free himself of all of them.

He will steel himself against love.

In a DISSOLVE, we FLASHFORWARD to a guestroom in the Manor House on Egdon Heath . . . Hans has torn himself away from Renie�s deathbed as she hovered between life and death . . . only to return to her side.

That day he fell on his knees, for love of her.

How he told her not to be afraid. That she should open the black Russian lacquer box.

How she had opened it.

"Renie, I love you more than I have ever loved a woman. And I love you more now than I have ever loved you.�

A glittering pear-shaped diamond ring, flanked by two tiny brilliant cuts of alexandrite.

Her breathlessness.

How her hand had trembled, taking the ring. How she had covered it up, closed her fist around it, to hide its fire. As if it was too bright. As if it was not to be believed.

As if to hide the fire they each knew they could not escape.

"Tell me, now. Tell me, forever."

How he gently pried her small fingers open.

"That you'll be mine. That I will be yours."

How he had turned over his left hand, and waited for her to put her hand in his.

"That you will marry me. Marry me, Renie."

As we DISSOLVE, we FLASHFORWARD to the Hansbank Penthouse at Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles . . .

To Christmas Eve 1997, as Hans watches his bride-to-be as she begins to walk towards him, arm-in-arm with Colonel Brandon . . .

. . . barely aware in that moment that Mary Anne, Claudia, Claire, and so many others are in attendance, watching too . . .

Too far away yet to see her clearly, Hans is instead aware of Renie�s presence inside of him, an unidentifiable feeling he connects with something like faith, something that enables him to live life, with meaning and purpose . . . when suddenly Hans hears the echo of his father�s voice, in German . . .

�We cannot always protect the ones we love.�

Hans knows his father is wise. He knows his father believes this to be true.

But Hans will be different. Hans will be one step ahead, at all times. Hans will protect her.

What keeps us from the absolute abyss?


As we DISSOLVE and we are in REAL TIME . . .

Hans Gruber removes his hand from the inner pocket of his jacket.

Straightening himself, he makes for the door of his room, and turns right to head towards the labour ward of the medical wing of her Majesty�s Palace.

Ach--there you are Hans . . . , - Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 08:48:24 PM (EST)

Now, now, ACC---Brandon and Mary Anne have definitely indulged in a few, um, "dance numbers" at the Palace. All that's holding Brandon back at the moment is that his wife is injured. The man's a gentleman after all. But Mary Anne is certainly no gentleman (and at times she's no lady, either).

So give them a bit of time . . .


MA loves mambo
Brandon loves mambo
Just hear �em sigh with it
Fly to the sky with it
Defy Mister I with it, wow (huh!)

With profuse apologies to Perry Como . . ., - Monday, December 03, 2007 at 09:16:21 PM (EST)

I don't think we need to worry about this being classified as a "porn" site-Christopher and Marianne havent done the horizontal mambo since their honeymoon-just like real life LOL
- Saturday, December 01, 2007 at 11:45:17 PM (EST)

Before the day slips away entirely: Happy Anniversary, Christopher.

A little canoodling with the Colonel . . . ;-), - Monday, November 26, 2007 at 09:06:31 PM (EST)

So that's where Hans is! Why am I not surprised? ;-D

So, Christopher . . . there's nobody growling into my neck . . .

*putting on low-necked sweater*, - Friday, November 23, 2007 at 09:49:14 AM (EST)




A Thanksgiving toast to my FOF family, here's to every one of you!
Much Love, R
Mmmmmmm, Hans, how can i sip if you're *growling* into my neck . . . , - Friday, November 23, 2007 at 12:51:50 AM (EST)

Imperial Palace, medical wing:


Joanna McCoy does not even blink as she works away with her probes and disinfectants. �Now just keep still, Mary Anne, and this won�t hurt a bit.�

�Doctors always say that and then it always does.� (homage)

�Well, it won�t hurt so much after this time; you�ll see. You�ll know what to expect. And besides---� McCoy glances up and her keen blue gaze sharpens. �---these dressings were going to have to be changed sometime, and how would you like it if the Colonel came back before we�re done and had to sit and watch this? Just as well that you managed to talk him into visiting Mrs. Gruber. Now if you�ll cooperate, we�ll be done before he gets back.�

With a surly mutter, Mary Anne subsides into her pillows and limits her protests to an occasional wince as McCoy inspects and swabs. �Tell me, Joanna, do they teach blackmail in medical school? Or is that just your natural bedside manner?�

�I was never much for what most people call bedside manner, myself. I�m a doctor, not a babysitter.� McCoy peers at the incision site and nods in satisfaction.

Mary Anne waits until it is clear that McCoy is done with her painful probing and as the doctor reaches for a roll of gauze she blurts out, �And you�re wrong about Christopher, you know. He�s a soldier; it�s not as if he�s never seen anybody wounded before.�

McCoy�s eyes fasten upon hers, shrewd but kind. �Of course he has, but �anybody� is not the same as you.�

Mary Anne looks away. �I just didn�t want you to think he�s . . . weak. That�s all.�

�I don�t think that about him.� A pause, broken only by the snip of scissors. �Or about you, if that�s what you were wondering.�

�They must teach mind-reading in medical school, too.�

�What, did you think you were letting down the side because cleaning a wound and changing a dressing can hurt? You�ve done pretty well, actually. Some people yell bloody murder.�

�It�s just strange, the difference between this and . . .�

Mary Anne is silent for so long that McCoy looks up and what she sees on her patient�s face makes everything clear in an instant. �You may think you were �braver� while The Interrogator was trying to kill you, but adrenaline can do that. Besides, you had to get away, and so your body made it possible for you to do it. Any fussing you�ve done about this---� McCoy leans forward to tape a pad of gauze into place. �---it just means that you feel safer here, that�s all. You can vent.�

�Actually . . .� Mary Anne hesitates. �Now that I think about it . . . Joanna, this is going to sound crazy, but I don�t think The Interrogator was trying to murder me.�

McCoy nods. �You�re right. It does sound crazy!� She sits back a little on the bed and points at Mary Anne�s bandaged shoulder. �What do you call that, if---�

�Oh, you don�t need to think I�m going soft on HIM or anything!� Mary Anne�s eyes are glinting, diamond-hard. �Yes, HE very nearly did kill me, but---� A low, bitter laugh. �If you�d seen the look on HIS face when HE pulled the sword back after . . . it was dumb luck, that�s what it was. I got distracted and HE lunged, and those bloody long arms, that reach . . . it was all over in a second, but I don�t think it�s what HE intended.� A pause. �That�s what makes me furious, Joanna. I�m the one who has experience with a sword; anything HE knew was only because I knew it. I should have been able to kill The Interrogator and then all this mess would be over. Instead, HE�s loose out there somewhere and a danger to us all, every minute. I just feel as if I should have been able to kill HIM and as if I failed everyone, somehow, because I didn�t.�

McCoy ponders this for long moments as she packs up her medical kit. �I�m not sure I�m the right person to help you, Mary Anne,� she finally offers. �I�m not a psychiatrist. I�m certainly no swordfighter. But just speaking as a country doctor, my job is to heal people however I can. They get sick; I try to make them well. They get hurt; I patch the holes. Like now, for instance. People do awful things to each other and . . . well, I get to try and undo some of those things. And I�ve seen people die in spite of everything I could do for them, let alone if I had been trying to make them die. So think about this: try not to be too sorry because you didn�t kill someone---even if you think it�s a mistake. The other way around, now, that mistake is a lot harder to fix.�

Mary Anne would be willing to argue this point, but her attention is caught by a sound from the corridor. �What on earth is that? It sounds like a circus parade is coming down the hall!�

McCoy grins. �Let me know if you see any elephants; it means we gave you the wrong meds.� Turning away and taking a deep, silent breath of relief that Mary Anne�s attention has been diverted from their grim conversation, McCoy steps to the door and swings it open . . .

"Mischief, thou art afoot; take what course thou wilt." ;-), - Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 09:57:11 PM (EST)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! (Yes, Mister I, even you. Maybe it'll humanize you a bit . . .)

Giving thanks as always for my FoF family,

*saluting with turkey drumstick*, - Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 01:24:36 PM (EST)

*hehe* Okay, okay, the new Mom has been granted a reprieve (paragraph fixed). :-) Congratulations, BTW!
Suz (D.o.C)
What mischief between R & MA await us?, - Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 4:45:25 PM (EST)

Someone wrote something! Don't you dare put her in cuffs, she can't write that way!
- Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 02:34:24 AM (EST)

DOC, would you be so kind as to fix my paragraph?
And of course, the obligatory set of cuffs, please. , - Monday, November 19, 2007 at 12:15:03 AM (EST)

Scene: A small table overflows with gift baskets and boxes, desserts wrapped in every imaginable plastic and tissue, cut flowers and beautiful plants, cards and letters. Vague morning sunlight enters through one window, spilling onto a hospital bed in the labour ward.

Strangely, there are few actual words exchanged while Colonel Brandon contemplates the young life before him. Brandon does not ask to hold the infant, but clearly his mind is engaged with tender thoughts which he keeps to himself. What these might be we can only imagine.

Likewise, the notion to take such a truly tiny baby into his own arms seems far from the mind of Anton Gruber�though the gentleman can hardly be called reticent where his daughter-in-law is concerned. He knows, perhaps, that there will be time to bond with his granddaughter. For now, it is miracle enough that she has arrived into the world, safely, and safe likewise rests her mother before him. Life does not always hold such joy. This he knows.

Therefore, to miss the moments, is to miss everything.

As Lyla Dragomir finishes attending to the last few details, Brandon�s plum of a voice coats the room.

�I must be getting back.� Brandon takes Renie�s hand in his own. He looks at her.

�Yes, yes,� comes her quiet answer. �It was so good of you to come�please give Mary Anne my love and tell her I miss her.�

�You may tell her yourself, if I understand correctly.� Brandon�s eyebrow perceptibly rises at Nurse Dragomir; she nods back.

It only takes a moment. Yes . . . Lyla�s efforts to put the room back into order . . . soooooo . . .

�I�m being moved?� Renie recalls Antonia�s words a little earlier. You don't mind sharing a room do you? I have a feeling you'll like your roommate.

Her father-in-law looks pleased as German punch. If there is such a thing.

Colin has a few words with Lyla, and confidently tucks Mercedes into a pocket of blanket under Renie�s right arm. �There. Brilliant.� He moves behind Renie�s bed where she can�t see him. The sound of wheels coming to a stop. �I�ve got the crib then.�

A second mental light bulb flares, as Renie watches Anton and Brandon flank to opposite sides of her bed�then slide the sidebars upwards into a locked position.

�But--but I look like�you can�t be serious?� Could they? Are they? �Can I at least� �

Brandon has decided to enjoy this, and with perfect military dignity gives the order. �Forward, march!�

The doors of the labour room swing open.

Outside, the four-man heavy guard posted breaks off. Two men take over for Colonel Brandon and Herr Anton Gruber, at the three and nine-o�clock positions bedside. A dragoon leader takes the lead at the foot of the hospital bed, and a fourth man covers the twelve o�clock position, driving and steering from the headboard.

Just down the hallway, Doctor Blalock appears with Antonia at his side. They wave at Mrs. Hans Gruber and her retinue.

Back in the labour room, a helpful janitor in a plain grey suit gathers the remaining items from the makeshift gift table, handing them off to the now available Brandon, then Herr Gruber. The two men fall in behind the last of the security regiment, now bearing gifts and baskets of fruit and flowers.

The janitor does not linger, but leaves quickly.

As the caravan moves down the hallway of the medical building, Renie gratefully waves back to the two doctors with her left hand�her right arm protectively encircling the bundle of babe.

Antonia reminds herself again of how it might have ended in tragedy, and crosses herself. �Doctor Blalock, do you know the Feast of Santa Lucia? This reminds me. An entourage. A happy day of celebration.�

Blalock gives his short-quick Southern laugh. �More like the Macy�s Thanks-giving Day Parade.� He fairly snorts. �It�s a float, you see?�

Still wondering where Hans could have gotten to . . . , - Monday, November 19, 2007 at 12:13:22 AM (EST)

Scene: Imperial Palace. The medical wing. Labour ward.

�Christopher!� And it seems to Renie that she has not seen Colonel Brandon�s welcome face in so long�so long that, indeed, he seems to have aged just the littlest bit. Lines of more than concern around his eyes, a weariness nearly invisible to anyone outside of Renie and Mary Anne.

Though Brandon smiles, now, and his eyes dance at seeing her safe and sound before him.

�It is a wondrous day.�

�Let me�� as Renie struggles to sit up, Brandon quickly murmurs, �Allow me� and moves to her side to hold her gowned arm and help comfortably position the starched white pillows. He arranges her long dark chestnut hair�and then steps back, ever the gentleman as well as dearest friend.

�How is Mary Anne? Is she safe? Is she well?� Renie�s eyes search his for unspoken evidence of Mary Anne�s condition.

�She is a lioness, as you know. It will take more than a man to best her.� And let�s see if any man can even get to her, as long as I�m around.

�But you can tame her?

�I would not care to try.� He shakes his head as if, on the contrary, he knows he will spend the rest of his life---happily�trying to manage just that.

And loving every minute of it.

�Oooh. She has got you�right where she wants you. That, or you are as wise as an owl, my dear Christopher.�

�Whoooo can talk sense to such a monkey?�

�Ahh! A monkey am I! Let�s hope Mercedes hasn�t got a tail!�

A VOICE from the doorway.

�Is this the palace zoo?� It comes out tzzzzoooo.

Through the large doors appears the senior Gruber, who glides into the delivery room, his face temporarily obscured by cards and gifts, his arms full of baskets and boxes and bags.

�Oh�but what�s this?�

Baskets full of tiny lady apples, rare pears, huge grapefruit, and grapes nearly the size of the grapefruit. Boxes of homemade pies, cakes, tarts and confections. Knitted baby clothes, flowers, and bundles of cards.

�From well-wishers. There are more outside, and more arriving every few minutes.�

Renie chooses a card, which reads, �To Mr. and Mrs. Hans Gruber�May you and your new daughter find happiness wherever you journey. Sincerely, Marty and Noah Everdene.� "From the Everdenes."

Unconsciously, Renie taps the card against the palm of her hand. �But, I don�t know these people. At least I don�t think so.�

�Don�t look zo surprised. Word spreads fast in the Realm.� Anton looks in vain for an unoccupied table, and shrugs helplessly at Colonel Brandon, who takes his cue.

As Brandon leaves her side to find a resting place for the gifts, Anton adds, in a low tone meant only for his daughter-in-law�s ears, �Many people were moved by your letter at the trial. Whether they agreed with you or not. They believe, and rightly so, that you are an exceptional woman.�

The trial. How far away that seems at this moment. �Anton, will Hans come in to see me?�

�He went to get zomething for you. Don�t worry, meine daughter-in-law, my son will be back.�

Brandon returns from behind a curtain, a table in his strong hands, and a second later, there is the cry of a newborn.

Colin walks proudly over to the hospital bed, while Lyla ties back the curtain.

All eyes are on the tiniest life in the room.

Colin utters only one word. It is a joyful sound, disguised as a whisper. �Mercedes.�

Oh boy! I mean, oh girl! , - Monday, November 05, 2007 at 08:27:03 PM (EST)

My pleasure, Claudia---glad you liked it.

But be careful, for HE is loose out there somewhere . . . =8-O, - Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 07:54:51 AM (EDT)

I love you Mary Anne ;) Thanks
- Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 01:27:11 AM (EDT)

Imperial Palace:

Dragging up a chair, she settles into it and waits.

And waits.

It�s good cop, bad cop, thinks Claudia as the silence lengthens. But which of them is which?

It is Mansel who finally breaks the silence. �To return to our earlier question: if you know anything of where The Interrogator has gone, it would be best for you if you told us. Immediately.�

�Is that a threat?� Claudia is proud that she manages to keep her voice neutral, but has to swallow back a lump in her throat at the slight scrape of Ed�s chair as he pulls it closer to her. Good old Ed, and a few rapid blinks clear her eyes.

�No,� replies Mansel, �it is a simple statement of fact. You do realize that The Interrogator will not forget about you; HE will not forget someone who as good as joined---�

�I did not---�

�Hear me out, please. I said, as good as joined. You have said your intentions were to get at HIS secrets and destroy HIM. You did manage to infiltrate---� Mansel smiles. �And I have to give you credit for courage on that. Not many women would do what you did, just walk up to HIM in cold blood---�

My blood wasn�t all that cold . . .

�---and expect to be welcomed. It�s amazing you got so far as you did.�

Claudia almost feels as if someone else is watching from behind her eyes, weighing and appraising. She has learned a thing or two in her stay at The Palace and remembers the moment when she had been watching Rupert Cadell and suddenly realized the man was far more dangerous than he looked. A lamed man, constantly in need of a cane: no great opponent, surely? And yet, if the rumours flying about are true, this lamed man has survived a fight with The Interrogator, a fight in which HE might have been expected to prevail. True, Rupert is badly wounded---but by all rights he should be dead. It occurs to her that Mansel is another of the same sort, that The Empress has surrounded herself with just such formidable men who can fade into the woodwork if necessary---or suddenly emerge, to the dismay of their adversaries.

This, of course, is to say nothing of The Empress herself, who looks quite harmless and even fragile, at times. For a fraction of a second, Claudia thinks of Mary Anne�s blue eyes, opened wide in their �innocent� look, and is hard-put to repress a snicker. And just think of the wheels turning inside there! Yes, however The Empress may look, she commands men like these who serve her and would cheerfully perish rather than fail her.

Feeling as if she has just stepped back from the edge of a cliff, Claudia nods thoughtfully. �I see what you mean.� She is not at all certain she does, but there is no reason for Mansel to know that, and she ventures a bit further. �For now HE�s concentrating on survival, but later, when HE has time to think . . .�

The Empress nods. �There is no reason to suspect HE will think of you immediately. But we cannot be certain of that, can we?� Something in that quiet voice sends the ice down Claudia�s spine. �And it is not only your safety. The Interrogator is out there, presumably still in The Realm, and I am certain you could name a dozen people, potential targets . . .�

Claudia nods. �Without even half trying. It�s only that there are so many places HE might have gone!� She furrows her brow, thinking. �Not back to the woods around Delaford, I suppose . . .�

Mansel shakes his head. �I wouldn�t make it HIS first choice: too many Alliance personnel still stationed there. But that�s just the point with HIM, that there�s no way to know.�

�And there was somewhere in the States, I think, on the West Coast . . .�

�The Valley of the Moon.� There is a gleam in The Empress� eye, something Claudia cannot define but it makes her decidedly uneasy. �No. Trust me when I tell you that is one place HE will not go.�

�Why not?�

�The Alliance found it some time ago, before the Brandons� wedding.�

Claudia waits, but no more is forthcoming and so she continues. �I know of at least one hideout in London.�

�So do we, and Mister Holmes has agreed to keep an eye on it for us.�

Claudia shrugs helplessly. �Then you probably know more than I do.� A deep breath. �And besides, that isn�t what this is about, is it?�

�How do you mean?� Mansel�s expression is as bland as vanilla, but The Empress is already leaning back in her chair, smiling a little to herself.

�Your plans to search for HIM are already in place, and this isn�t about whether I know anything more; you already knew I didn�t. It was about whether I�d even try to help you---�

�You�ve quite lived up to what I expected of you, Claudia.� The Empress has hardly moved in her chair, but suddenly Mansel seems nearly invisible, studying the pattern of the carpet, and Claudia feels herself magnetized by the gaze of the woman sitting across from her. �Though you�re only half-right; I would have been interested in anything you had to tell us of HIS plans, if you knew them. But I will admit I was very reassured to find you a trifle . . . belligerent . . . at the beginning of this interview.�

Claudia can hear Ed�s muffled snort behind her, a murmur of �a trifle?� and longs to thump him in the ribs with her elbow, but all in good time.

�If you had come here eager to help us and everything had run as smoothly as silk, I confess I would have been somewhat astonished. Worried, even.�

Again Claudia feels a chill crawl along her spine, but she manages to ask in a level voice, �What are you going to do with me? Do you still think I�m a traitor?�

The Empress shakes her head. �I wish I could say something along the lines of how it doesn�t matter what I think---except that in this case, it does. I have the power to release you, on no evidence save that of my own judgment. Or to keep you here, by that same power. However, your . . . stay . . . with HIM has brought us valuable information, even if it was not brought out during the trial. And on that basis, I choose to release you. On that basis, and on my conviction that there will never again be any . . . doubts.�

The warning is clear, and this time it is Ed who speaks up. �There will be none, Your Majesty.�

�Good. My council will advise you as to your safety in The Realm once you leave here, though you are welcome to remain for a time if you prefer. Meanwhile, you are free to move about The Palace. That will be all.�

It is a dismissal, and as they leave the sitting room, Claudia turns to Ed with a puzzled frown. �Did what I think just happened . . . happen?�

Meanwhile, The Empress remains where she is, with Mansel beside her, waiting quietly.

Finally, she sighs. �Yes, Mister Mansel?�

�You realize she will be a target the moment she leaves here. A very likely one, in fact.�


�You are thinking---� It would be tactless to say hoping. �---that she might draw HIM out.�

�It is a possibility. And that is why I mean to see her protected; if there is any chance of The Interrogator coming after her, I want our people there when it happens. If she leaves, I want her watched. Do not interfere with their privacy, you understand, but when Claudia leaves the protection she enjoys here, there must not be a single day, not a single hour, when she is out of our reach---because I do not want her within HIS.�


�Select your teams, and see to it.�

�At once, Your Majesty.�

MA----suffer no more, ACC.
Anyone else care to relieve a little suffering? "2X2L calling CQ . . ." (Obscure reference of the day), - Monday, October 29, 2007 at 11:17:01 PM (EDT)

Does anyone but me notice that the last entry was made on OCTOBER 12, and it wasn't a story? Im suffering here....
- Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 08:19:17 PM (EDT)

Thanks, young wench
- Friday, October 12, 2007 at 02:22:45 AM (EDT)

Imperial Palace:

Claudia, who is far taller than The Empress and tall enough to look Mansel in the eye, had hoped the mere act of standing and facing her questioners might intimidate them. Instead, she gets the impression that her gesture has fallen rather flat; The Empress and Mansel simply look up at her with the politely interested expressions of Sunday afternoon visitors admiring a giraffe in the Imperial menagerie. The Empress, in particular, returns her such a fixed and unwavering look that Claudia shifts uneasily. Unwilling to give in and return to her seat, she strolls over and leans against the fireplace mantel, wondering, How does she do that?!

�What is there to make me think you�ll listen to me now?� Less forceful, this time. A real question.

The Empress does not even blink. �Try and see.�

Claudia glances around her at the room to which she had been summoned for these questions. No cell this time, nor any sort of Imperial office, but a comfortable sitting room, warm and cheerful in soft, inviting colours, with deep armchairs and a fire burning brightly on the hearth. Claudia glances over at a low table, half-expecting to see a teapot and a plate of scones, and is hard put to smother her grin. A sitting room---Mary Anne and Renie will be showing up any minute for one of those �chats� of theirs, you�d think. But a low cough from Ed returns her to reality. At least she can have Ed with her and that�s a comfort, of sorts. Ed, this cozy room . . . meant to lull her, put her off guard, perhaps?

Claudia crosses her arms. �If you had wanted to ask me questions, why not call me as a witness during HIS trial?�

Mansel shakes his head. �We could not predict what effect it would have on you.�

�That didn�t stop you from calling Mary Anne.�

�Ah, but we could predict, to a degree, what effect it would have on her. And Mary Anne did not have a possible incendiary device planted in her leg.�

Claudia flexes the limb in question. �But The Doctor removed it, and nothing happened.�

The Empress leans forward. �And what does that suggest to you?�

Claudia thinks it over. �Well, you know The Interrogator; it�s all about the mind games, with HIM. Probably got HIS laughs from watching everybody worry about the thing when all along it was harmless . . .�

Both The Empress and Mansel make the same impatient noise, but it is Mansel who speaks. �Give yourself credit for some intelligence! You have behaved recklessly, but we know you are not a fool.�

Claudia cuts her eyes at Ed, daring him to say a word, as Mansel continues. �Knowing The Interrogator as you say you did---�

Ed mumbles something that sounds like, �in the Biblical sense� but Claudia concentrates on Mansel. Later for you, Ed! And then, a touch of bleakness, like a cold finger on her spine: Yeah, that�s the trouble, isn�t it? It�s always �later� for Ed . . .

�Knowing The Interrogator the way you say you did, can you imagine any device of HIS being harmless? Seriously!�

Claudia bristles. �I could, if HE thought HE could make people afraid when there�s nothing to be afraid of . . . HE�d be splitting HIS sides, laughing.�

�Or,� suggests The Empress, �HE could misdirect you. And HE would enjoy that equally. Had you thought the device in your leg might have been a decoy, to keep your attention from something else?�

It is a chilling thought. Finally, Claudia shakes her head. �No . . . The Doctor checked me over when he took that thing out and there was nothing wrong. He said that I�m completely healthy, physically---and one more sound out of you, Ed, and I�ll---�

�What?� protests the wide-eyed Ed, pushing a hand through his unruly hair. �I didn�t say anything!�

�Good,� replies Claudia, turning back to her questioners. �Anyway, The Doctor didn�t find any other devices.�

�Well, that is something we can discuss later.� Mansel looks up at her, silently inviting her to resume her seat, and after a moment Claudia decides she may as well comply. Dragging up a chair, she settles into it and waits.

MA---sorry to take so long; real life is a pain sometimes!
- Monday, October 08, 2007 at 10:29:19 PM (EDT)

The Imperial Palace:

�I don�t have any idea where The Interrogator is.�

Mansel and The Empress exchange looks. They had known this would not be easy. They had been prepared for any number of things---fear, reluctance, grief---but nothing had quite prepared them for this defiance with more than a hint of fury stirring beneath it. Mansel assesses those narrowed blue eyes and reproaches himself. Not such a surprise, if we had been thinking. We should have expected this.

�And what makes you think I�d know where HE is, anyway?�

Mansel clears his throat. �You have had dealings with HIM in the past . . .�

�Dealings?� The word catches in her throat. �That�s a tame word for it. I already tried to explain my dealings with HIM once before. Was anybody listening?�

The Empress remains silent, waiting, and Mansel tries again. �Of course we were. I remember the explanation you gave for your actions, and I should think you would be glad to help us---�

�Nobody listened to my explanations, then.� A pause, and Claudia rises from her chair to stand with her arms crossed in front of her, staring down at her questioners. �So what is there to make me think you�ll listen to me now?�

MA---a bit upset there, Clods?
Back into the routine again . . . more soon! 8-), - Friday, September 14, 2007 at 08:31:40 AM (EDT)

What do they know of kisses? ----- Makes ME lightheaded... how about you?
me <me@infoo.comfoo>
What do they know of kisses?, - Friday, August 24, 2007 at 07:48:50 PM (EDT)

A kiss is just a kiss, so they say.

What do they know of kisses?

While it does not last forever, there are kisses which linger on, which have lasting effects . . . long past the moments which are shared in time and space.

Now, finally, Colin releases Renie from such a kiss.

Where there were tears, there are none. Colin breaks the silence, unwillingly, but of necessity. She must remain calm. He must see to it.

"You were in danger, Renie. Hans could not bear the prospect of losing you. It has to do with Hans, not with you. You see, his sister died in childbirth. Her baby too. He cannot forget that tragedy--he was there.

"But . . . I didn't know. How did you . . . who told you all this?"

"I read it--in the doctor's file. I found it unattended, down the hall. Hans told the doctor how worried he was--for your safety. Everything must be sterile, everything must go well, nothing must go wrong . . . Hans forced himself into the delivery room despite all his fears. When you began hemorrhaging, it must have been too much."

"And he didn't tell me."

"Do you see what this means? He loves you. You and Mercedes. Nothing is dearer to him. That he could not confide such a personal loss . . . "

"I see. Appearing to be weak in any sense is intolerable to Hans."

"Exactly. And I am afraid that by telling you about his sister, I have breached an unspoken contract, which censures a man who reveals another man's secrets. For whatever reason, I have put Hans in a poor light. And to his wife, no less."

She hugs him, an entirely different feeling passes between them. "For the best of reasons, Colin. To look out for what and whom he cherishes, when he lacks the strength to do so himself." She pulls back and looks at Colin. "It wasn't easy, was it?"

"You made it easy."

The doors swing open, and Antonia breezes in. Colin instinctively moves away, and Renie sits up a bit more, allowing Antonia to check her heartbeat, and tick off items on her clipboard.

"That's better. I don't know what sort of magical cloth Dr. Blalock used, but I'd like to order six warehouses full for the hospitals back home."

Renie smiles, thinking of the Doctor, whom she has no idea has had an audience with Empress. "I'm just grateful for the one. And for you and Dr. Blalock. Thank you both."

"There is someone who'd like to come in and see you, if you're finished here," Antonia looks at Colin with interest, but without judging. Renie nods.

Colin rises. "May I hold Mercedes?" He indicates the back behind the curtain. "'ll just wash up, right?"

"As soon as Lyla is done with the second round of tests. So far, Mercedes is all tens. And then we'll move Mrs. Gruber out of delivery to a recovery room. You don't mind sharing a room do you? I have a feeling you'll like your roommate." Antonia grins, then turns to Colin. "Follow me."

Still in NYC, - Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 12:27:52 PM (EDT)

Imperial Palace, medical wing:

Sitting by Mary Anne�s bed, watching her, Brandon imagines he can see a change come over her still face. Is it imagination? Uneasily, Brandon glances over at the heart monitor; he has learned in these past few hours to listen for that steady beat as if it were the pulse of the universe itself. Reassured, he looks back at Mary Anne.

No, he had not imagined it. The drugs had granted sound sleep, as McCoy had promised, but now the lines of pain and anxiety in her face have relaxed and in their place is a look of such serenity as he has not seen . . .

Since we came here, really. From the moment Mary Anne understood what was before her. And then when she had to face HIM again . . .

Weary as he is, the truth startles Brandon fully awake and he sits up straight in his chair. Mary Anne stirs in her sleep and releases a long sigh before settling down into her pillows.

The Interrogator. HE is gone.*******************************************************

Meanwhile, in a nearby conference room:


The Empress is seldom shaken from her austere composure; when it occurs, it is an interesting phenomenon, preferably viewed from safe distance. But her self-control is not least among her remarkable qualities. Rising from her chair---and waving her advisors back to their seats---she paces about the room in silence.

The Doctor remains just within the doorway, flanked by Guardsmen, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot, his normally cheerful face now flushed with misery and embarrassment. But after a moment, The Empress sets her lips tightly, nods, and then gestures for The Doctor to take a chair.

�The whole story, Doctor, from the beginning.�

The Doctor has removed his hat and sits twisting it in his hands. �There isn�t much to tell, I�m afraid. I had moved the Tardis to a spot where I thought it would be out of everyone�s way. Not out of HIS way, though. As I left, The Interrogator . . . what is the word? Oh, yes. The Interrogator hijacked the Tardis and me with it.�

�So HE has left The Palace, then.�

The Doctor hesitates. �I wish I could be certain of it. There is a remote possibility that HE doubled back here, but . . .� He shakes his head. �Too many factors involved. Let us say there is a ninety-eight per cent probability that HE is elsewhere.�

�It�s that other two per cent that worries me.� The Empress makes her decision. �Mister Hanbury, pass the word in public that the searches have been called off---but set up a few private random patrols, just in case. Inform the Captain of the Guard and have him coordinate with Lieutenant Sifuentes. Mister Brownlow, send a bulletin to the Alliance to activate their emergency search protocols and alert the Safehouse network. I want all of HIS known refuges locked down tight, starting with the West Wood in Barton---�


�I�d be interested to know just how HE overpowered you, Doctor.�

All of the Empress� advisors have scattered to attend to their various assignments---all but Mansel, who sits watching intently as she walks up and down the room, as if her movement, energy, and sheer force of will could avert disaster.

The Doctor, though by no means restored to his normal buoyant temperament, is capable of a calm answer. �HE was behind me and had the element of surprise. Perhaps you are aware of the advantage that confers?�

The Empress� hand lingers briefly on a piece of marble statuary displayed on a console table. �I do know something of it. The Interrogator was armed, I presume.�

�Of course. That is generally a safe assumption with HIM.�

�How was HE able to operate your machine?�

The Doctor sighs heavily. �The Interrogator has been in Mary Anne�s presence for weeks, and very likely had traces of her DNA about his person. This was enough to convince the Tardis---�

�---that The Interrogator was Mary Anne?� Mansel knows this is no time for levity, but his mouth quirks into a dry smile.

The Doctor is not disposed to see the humour of it. �That is precisely what I mean.� Then, before Mansel can reply, he turns back to The Empress. �You will recall that I warned you against bringing HIM here. Bringing HIM together with Mary Anne.�

The Empress halts in mid-stride, and her voice, when she replies, is dangerously level. �Do I detect a rebuke?� (homage)

When The Doctor does not reply, she moves nearer, her taut expression shifting to one of concern. �Or did you . . . Doctor, did you see something of what would happen?�

The Doctor�s response is not quite a shrug. �I�m a Time Lord, not a clairvoyant. At least, not always. Seeing the timelines is not like . . .� His voice trails off as he thinks of matters inexplicable to a limited human. �Obviously if I could always see what would happen, HE could not have surprised me. But where their timelines intersect---HIS with Mary Anne�s---� His voice softens almost to a whisper. �There is something there, always. A trail of fire . . .�

A long silence. It is Mansel who breaks it with a mirthless laugh. �Yes. Roman candles in an ammo dump, that would be safer than having those two in the same room, I believe.� A nod to The Empress. �Forgive me, Your Majesty, but the important thing is that we find The Interrogator. Doctor, did you not attempt to trace HIM, after HE left your machine?�

The Doctor nods. �I did try, but HE had not been exposed to the artron radiation long enough to leave more than a trace, and it would fade within minutes. As soon as I got free, I checked, but HE would have to be near to artron-toxic to have left any discernible trail. After that, I thought the best thing to do would be to come and warn you.�

The Empress nods. �Bravely done, Doctor. Most people would rather have hidden than come and bring me such news as this.�

A long look passes between them. The Empress is a formidable woman, but still a human, and the man across the table from her---no, he is not a man, but a Time Lord who walks in eternity (homage), a representative of one of the most powerful civilizations in the galaxy. Each takes the other�s measure and is satisfied, and finally The Empress gives a long sigh and leans back in her chair.

�I find you blameless in this matter, Doctor; you did the best you could, and that is all any of us can do. But as Mister Mansel has said, we must find The Interrogator. Do you have any ideas as to how we might do this?�

The Doctor is silent, but Mansel pulls his chair forward, his eyes intent. �Your Majesty, The Doctor cannot tell us where HE has gone. But there may be someone else who can . . .�

Sorry to be away so long, but life got very scary for a while. Hopefully things will stay normal for a bit, now . . ., - Friday, August 10, 2007 at 08:38:20 AM (EDT)

A Truly Eventful Year

Chapter 2

Once back at school, Anne hoped that Daisy would forget about this guy or whomever she met on her milk errand. She'd been laughing and joking and having tiffs with her parents as usual but sometimes Daisy would harp on about him a bit. Well, once she'd caught up with her mates in the third form she'd be whispering about class pranks on the teachers, not about this random bloke, thought Anne. After her stay with the Smalls, Anne would not see her cousin until maybe dinner time on the first night back at school. Her friends Ginny and Mel bounded into their dormitory just as Anne started to unpack.

'Hey Anne! How was Christmas? How's Daisy?' For a while they talked avidly about their holidays, and Mel produced another tale about Ewan, her boyfriend, and how they kissed on New Year at midnight.

'Oh it was ever so romantic,' gushed Mel. 'We were on the hotel balcony and all the beach lights were all lit up, and he held me and kissed me like that!' she giggled. 'And then the big clock chimed twelve just then. Oh it was awesome!'

'Thank goodness for that,' muttered Ginny to Anne when Miss King (their matron) called Mel about some name-tapes. 'I thought she would start planning her new book about Her First Kiss With Icky Ewan. The endless emails I got would just do for a book.'

'Oh lighten up Ginny. You and Mel love each other really.' But there weren't any quarrels as they clattered down to dinner at six. Most of the boarders had already arrived, though lots of girls didn't arrive until after dinner or even breakfast the next day.

Just when they had found a free table, they were joined by Daisy Small.

'Half my form aren't back yet,' she told them. 'Wonder what's happened to them all. And I don't want to talk to Lacey.'

'Talk to us then,' quipped Mel. She and Ginny liked Daisy. For a while they talked about how funny the London pantomime had been, and then they were joined by Danielle Stiples, the least popular second former.

'I thought that panto was awfully silly,' she drawled. 'But Delia seems to like them. And speak of the flipping devil-'

Danielle's first form sister plopped into the seat next to her. The other girls sometimes wondered how their personalities could be so different. Danielle was spiteful and mean whilst Delia was livelier and friendly, despite being a bit odd. For a while no one spoke.

' was your holiday?' Anne asked.

'So-so,' replied Danielle. 'Mum had to come into school a lot. Reverend Harvey passed away, did you know?' They all nodded, remembering the letter their parents had received. 'They've found a new vicar for St.Peter's-'

'And he's called Obi-Wan Kenobi,' added Delia. The other girls stared in surprise.

'Really? So we have a Reverend Kenobi carting round a light saber saying ''may the force be with you''?' laughed Daisy. 'That'll be cool actually.' Anne, Ginny and Mel giggled.

'No, that's just Delia mixing things up as she always does,' sneered Danielle. 'He's called Obadiah Slope.'

'Sounds even more random than Obi-Wan Kenobi,' Ginny murmured audibly.

'Don't be mean Gins,' sighed Mel. 'He was probably born Obadiah.'

'Wonder what his parents were called then,' said Daisy. Danielle looked cross.

'Obadiah is this person in the Bible,' she said haughtily. 'I think he helped Elijah.' The others just looked bored. And thus passed suppertime, with the occasional zany outburst from little Delia. But instead of laughing with the others, Danielle would snarl at her like a wolf.

'She's awful,' said Mel, as they fell onto some bean bags in the TV room. 'I don't know how poor Delia puts up with her. She may be weird but she's a little saint at heart.'

'Well her mum is a school governor. I guess she feels she has the right to queen it over us. No wonder the other teachers have to think twice before sitting on her,' said Anne, ruefully. She hoped that Danielle wouldn't spoil this term, and that this term would be less eventful than the last one. But she was wrong. Plenty of things were to happen in the next three months!
- Monday, July 23, 2007 at 06:02:09 AM (EDT)

A Truly Eventful Year

Chapter 1 (continued)

Martha Hammerton was in her living room, crocheting a cardigan for her niece's baby daughter. As a schoolgirl she had been labelled the 'Queen of Crochet' in her class because she had started to make her own winter clothes. Today had not been a good day fo walking alone in the park because of the snowfall and wind, so an afternoon at home with her crochet, radio and Earl Grey seemed a very welcome sight. Yesterday Martha had arrived home very late after visiting her younger brother and sister, and was looking forward to some peace and quiet before New Year's Eve. Suddenly the telephone rang, making her jump. Martha was tempted not to answer it, but then it could have been some urgent family or school news. However, the call was not from her family, or from a governor. It was from the vicarage.

'Miss Hammerton?' It was Robert Masterson, the dean. 'Reverend Owen Harvey passed away a quarter of an hour ago.' Martha felt a chill. Reverend Owen Harvey had had cancer for over a year and just a month ago it looked like he was starting to recover. However his health had suddenly deteriorated near Christmas time and he was bedridden not long afterwards. The loss of St. Peter's leading vicar would be deeply felt by everyone who knew him, not just his parish. Reverend Harvey had been very cheerful and charismatic during his church career, and those girls who went to church were forever laughing at his jokes on their walk back home.

'Oh...right,' murmured Martha. 'Do you need me to come over?'

'Thank you Miss Hammerton, but it's family time over at the vicarage right now. I'll let you know what's happening after tomorrow's service. In the meantime we're all praying for his family.'

After she had hung up, Martha was hesitant about picking up her crochet again, as if she had never received the call. But Reverend Harvey would have wanted her to carry on with her various hobbies. For a moment she wondered who would be taking his place, and then remembered a conversation she'd had with Robert. A young chaplain from London had been found, and he was very keen to take up Reverend Harvey's position. He had a peculiar name, a biblical name in fact. In the spur of the moment, Martha forgot what his name was.
Sorry for the ages-long delay!, - Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 03:09:56 AM (EDT)

Borg version?! Mister I, what have you been doing in my Tardis?
The Doctor
Dear, oh dear, as if one wasn't enough..., - Friday, July 20, 2007 at 04:33:31 PM (EDT)

So, resistance is only foolish and not futile? Then that must have been the Borg version of Mister I, earlier . . .

A Borg version of The Interrogator---not a good thought, this close to bedtime! =8-O, - Monday, July 16, 2007 at 11:27:50 PM (EDT)


I fear you know me too well., - Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 01:28:31 PM (EDT)

My dear, my very dear Suzanne:

Midnight has indeed come and gone, and so I shall now resume being my usual self.

After all, that is how you like me best, is it not? You know it is, and so . . . confess.

Mister I
(Resistance is futile), - Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 10:27:25 AM (EDT)

*arriving fashionably late for the party* WOW, I can't believe there's some champagne left! Next time we'll add a chocolate fountain as well. :-)

Dido what MA and Renie said. :-) The last ten years have been amazing, you guys are the best, thank you so much! I, too, have made many wonderful friends here, some of which I was fortunate enough to meet in real life (and still hope to meet more in the future!). It is so great to see so much recent activity. Claire, Dana and Cindie (thank you!), I've missed you! :-) And welcome back, Liza!

Ah, Valmont, you charmer. You know I can't resist (even though I know better). :-)

Mr. I, is it after midnight yet? *shiver*

Happy Birthday, MA! And Therese, also!

Here's to 10 more years of fun, fantasy, and friendship. *clink*
Spam has been cut from the menu., - Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 01:45:26 AM (EDT)

Hey, who let those !@#$%! spammers in here? This is a private BBQ! Shoo! OUT!!

BBQ'd spam, bleccchh! X-P, - Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 08:52:40 PM (EDT)

Hans, liebling, how delicious! And so is the cake . . . ;-9

Thanks, R dearest, for the good wishes. And German chocolate, nummy. But you know chocolate of just about any nationality is fine by me!

And is that Mistral I see back there, brandishing the BBQ fork? , - Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 06:25:56 PM (EDT)

FOF Set:

"Mary Anne! A moment!"

Mary Anne turns with a teacup of Earl Grey in her hand, to face the formidable Hans Gruber--except that Hans is dressed in an apron of all things--forcing Mary Anne to blurt out her tea--some through her lips, and yes, some in a genuine nose spray.

"Thanks for that," comes the Gruber growwwwl, yet the laughter is of course infectious, and in a trice Hans has what can only be called a grin more like Ed than the world's most clever and spine-tingling thief. "At least I'm wearing my apron."

Mary Anne cannot get over how amusing Hans looks, though to laugh in the face of Hans Gruber is inadvisable, whatever the provocation. "It's not that you look--"

"NEVERMIND how I look. It's what I've done."

"Mary Anne is genuinely stumped. "Done?"

"Forgotten your birthday." Hans raises his hand before she can respond with her customary politeness. "We HAVE a little luncheon party for you, and hope you won't hold it against us."

"The shooting schedule has been busy lately, I know, but a luncheon party sounds wonderful! When?"

"Now. Through those doors. I've just finished the chocolate birthday cake. Hence, the apron."

"I didn't know you could bake, Hans!"

"I'm an exceptional baker, and it's a German Chocolate Cake," preens Hans. A point of pride.

"I doubt I'll eat anything else! May I ask what the main course is?"

She takes his offered arm, as they stroll towards the party.

"I should think you might not want to disappoint the chef, Mary Anne. You see," a wicked twinkle lights his amber eyes, "it's a BBQ."

R--Happy Birthday Mary Anne! Sorry to be late!
I guess I'm due for the Department of Corrections, *again* . . . but at least I won't be hungry! Hope it was grand!, - Tuesday, June 26, 2007 at 05:19:02 PM (EDT)

Scene: Imperial Palace. The medical wing. Labour ward.

And so it was that Mercedes was born in the eight o�clock hour, when the world was in its day of peril dark, (homage) came a morning like no other.

Now, the red towels are gone. In their place, an extra blanket--not really for warmth but for comfort, for reassurance, for a sense that for the time being at least, the fates smile on this small room in the medical wing of the Imperial Palace.

Renie adjusts the baby blanket so that she can better see the oh-so-tiny face, eyes tightly shut. �Is Mercedes safe, Doctor Blalock?�

Almost immediately, Blalock�s voice settles into his natural homey rhythms, now that the uppermost challenges of the delivery and post-delivery are past.

�Ah. Safe as houses, she is. She was only in danger in so far as you gave us a turn, Mrs. Gruber. But as a gentleman, ah am not IN-clined to hold it against you. So you are fo-given. Lyla, please run the second set of tests on that darlin� baby, then come and tidy up here.�

Lyla wisely waits a few extra seconds until Renie volunteers to hand over her baby, and, taking the newborn in her arms, the nurse promises as quick a return as possible.

Blalock straightens up, adjusts his wire glasses. �Ah will leave you in the hands of---� The doctor looks pointedly at Colin.


��with Mistah Colin. Your Antonia will return shortly.�

�Thank-you Dr. Blalock. I don�t know how to thank you and Antonia.�

�We�ll think of something, Mrs. Gruber.�

And with this, Dr. Blalock winks at the exhausted, but clearly grateful woman who lies on the hospital bed, finally�inexplicably�out of danger.

Alone with Colin, the new mother cannot help but feel the physical drain of the last 24 hours. The Tardis. The jail cell. HIS escape. But also rising within her, are the fears and emotions, which she has barricaded back in order to give all her energies to safely seeing Mercedes into the world. No longer having the strength to hold them back, they rush over and out of her like whitewater, her words shooting the crazy rapids of her heart.

�Hans has gone�he doesn�t want me. He�s left. He will never forgive me for the letter to the court�for seeking clemency of HIM�and now Mercedes and I mean to Hans everything he wants to turn away from�away from her and away from me��

Colin finds that letting her vent, letting the explosion run its course without his interrupting or calming her is impossible to do, as her intensity seems to be building rather than subsiding . . .

�Renie, you�re wrong. I know you�re wrong.�

�He�s gone. I have lost him. Mercedes and I are without husband and father��

He sees her tears, struggles to keep himself composed. Impossible. �Renie. You must listen. Hans��

�It�s no use Colin. He will never��

With a kiss to her lips, Colin stops her mouth. Her frantic tone had forced his hand. He had to stop her ranting, stop that torrent of words, and kissing her was the only means of physical restraint he was comfortable with�he would tell himself later. She would have to forgive him, and if she didn�t, well, he would deal with that, too.

For love is the draught of forgiveness when there is every reason for an empty glass. Sometimes the contents of the glass can be deceiving; it may appear empty, or it may appear full, and sometimes, well, it is too dark to see inside the glass at all. But still we hold the glass, and put it to our lips, for we have known the taste of paradise, known the waves of it, waves of life, resuscitating a barren shore.

R--�The Good, that guides and blessed makes this realm��
The Divine Comedy: Paradise, Canto 8, - Monday, June 25, 2007 at 03:07:31 PM (EDT)

Bravo ladies! My glass is raised to you for these wonderful years I have enjoyed your stories. Cheers..May we have another fun filled 10 years. Keep up the good work and please keep your adventures them all..
Pam <Massachusettsfoo>
- Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 06:43:33 PM (EDT)

*handing Claudia a big glass of champagne*

Ah, how nice to see all this activity. Cindie, your Valmont is as smoooooooth as ever; fortunately The Empress can see right through him.

And Renie---Mister I and the bunny suit?! Oh, do tell! ;-D

- Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 08:31:47 AM (EDT)

Thank you Suzanne, and to everyone else for 10 years of fun and games. Sorry to come in late, and not bringing any gifts. I will help you drink that champagne though! Love you all.
- Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 09:20:59 PM (EDT)

A Truly Eventful Year

Part Two Chapter 1 (dan dan daaaaaan!)

It was Boxing Day at the Small's house in London, and the two families had just got back from watching the 'Dick Whittington' pantomime at the theatre. Anne and her cousin Daisy were about to rush to switch on the TV when Mrs Small called Daisy into the kitchen.

'It's all right I can pop down to the corner shop and get some more milk,' offered Mr Trelawney. But Daisy remembered her manners and accepted the fiver from her mother's hand. She also wanted a bit of piece from all the family in the suddenly cramped household.

It was freezing cold outside, and the walk to Portlands seemed endless. The crowd inside the shop didn't help either. Daisy clutched the large milk bottle and buried her nose into her coat so much that she didn't quite see where she was going.

'Ow!' Daisy's glasses were nearly knocked off her nose by the tall skinny man in front of her. The books he was carrying tipped off his hands.

'I'm sorry sir,' she murmured, helping him pick up his books. She looked up and noticed that he was quite dark, and had very piercing dark eyes. 'I...I should've seen-' The man smiled.

'That's quite all right. You didn't do too much damage,' he said kindly. 'Now run along before someone else gets knocked over.' Daisy nodded as he went his way. His wind-blown hair made him look even more attractive than he already was.

'Long time no see,' joked Anne as Daisy flopped beside her in front of 'Home Alone'. 'You missed the cute bit when Kevin runs wild at home.' They had a great time in front of the movie, laughing and saying 'Oh I remember that part' and so on. But Daisy couldn't help remembering the man she had bumped into earlier; he looked soulful and intense. And his voice when he spoke was deep and resonant. She wished he'd said more. Somehow she stayed calm for the rest of the day, helping her mother heat up turkey leftovers for tea, unloading more mince pies from the oven and helping Anne eat them all. The parents were very good at suddenly going on diets at Christmas and letting their only daughters enjoy their food.

'Daisy and Anne get along so well they might as well be sisters,' muttered Mr Trelawney to Mr Small. 'I don't think I know two other cousins who are that close.' Mr Small agreed, and privately thought that young Anne steadied Daisy, who was headstrong and often stubborn at times. Mr Trelawney thought that Daisy made quiet Anne laugh when she needed to, even though Anne had two best friends.

'I saw this man when I went to get the milk,' Daisy told Anne as they climbed into bed that evening. Mr and Mrs Trelawney had gone home.

'Oooh was he handsome?' asked Anne. 'No wonder you looked all googly-eyed when you got back.'

'Hey I thought I was the one with the jokes,' chuckled Daisy. 'And I wasn't googly-eyed. But he was quite good looking,' she added.

'What was his name?' said Anne, looking more intrigued. Until now, boy talk between the cousins had been rare.

'I didn't ask,' replied Daisy. 'But he dropped a book and there was a name-tape on it. Think it said Slope.' Anne giggled.

'Well, we'll have to see him again then won't we whoops!' chanted Daisy in the pantomime way.
- Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 06:43:24 PM (EDT)

Just outside that famous rose garden:

�My lady.� Valmont�s bow was so low that a lesser man surely would have toppled over. Never one to stint on the courtly graces, the Frenchman�s display was quite impressive.

Suzanne, ever one to take advantage of such an opportunity, leaned forward on her toes, the better to take in the view of the back of his neck. By the time the Vicomte straightened, Suzanne was composed. Mostly. She studied the offering being presented with one arched golden eyebrow. �Correct me if I am wrong,� her tone, even while not playing the Empress, made it clear that she well knew she wasn�t wrong, �Weren�t those lovely roses earlier gracing the bushes for the Delaford set?�

Another man might have been embarrassed or at least given the appearance of being slightly abashed. Valmont, however, knew that such details were not meant to concern him. �I obtained the gardener�s permission.� He lied so suavely that one was ever tempted to simply believe him and have done with it.

Suzanne did not believe him for an instant, but that did not prevent her from accepting the exquisite bouquet. �Thank you.� She smiled the Mona Lisa smile that was her trademark.

Valmont was careful not to let his reaction to that particular smile on that particular woman show on his face. He had a reputation to consider, after all. He gave his own brand of smile, �Shall we walk?�

�Certainly,� she replied. And in a quiet voice added, �I can view the scene of the crime.�


Thank you, Suzanne! , - Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 02:19:04 PM (EDT)

Renie, mein Abendstern, I shall be most pleased to direct you to the Rose Garden.

*offering arm . . . and whatever else is needed*, - Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 08:05:31 AM (EDT)

Suzanne, may I say that the Champagne fountain was a stroke of genius? Your hospitality is equalled by your grace, warmth and dedication, over these past 10 years of FOF.

*Rubbing ears from trumpet blasts*

Mister I, according to various people in the Wardrobe Department, your definition of "behaving yourself" is rather broad. Or rather that the exclusionary list of antics and dramatis personnae is somewhat, shall we say, limited. I will only mention the "bunny suit" in passing. Let's leave it at that, shall we? As I'm not sure if Cindie is around just now . . . though peut-�tre I may have spotted her in a deep serious t�te a t�te, au courant avec Monsieur Vicomte de Valmont, one cannot be sure after SUCH amounts of that Champagne which has graced our FOF lot on SUCH an auspicious, poignant day...can one?

Of this, however, I am sure.....*raises glass*...

That the power of words can fill us with delight
With fear, with joy and laughter
With a will to do right, to do better
And a will to forgive

With each turn of phrase, we offer ourselves,
and in each story, find ourselves

So let us salute, on this day of days,
The power of words to fill us with love
The power of words to fill us with hope
The power of words to join us in friendship

Bridges that are never too great to cross.

Cheers to our dear hostess, our writers and readers over the years.

And now, I shall, with some difficulty, endeavor to locate the Rose Garden . . .
Thank-you, Suzanne. Here's to the FOF family!, - Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 02:11:06 AM (EDT)

Paneling. All about the paneling . . . *snort* mmrrrfffffffflfllfllffllllolololo
- Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 01:36:06 AM (EDT)

Wow 10th anniversary! That's so cool that you guys could keep this going for that long. I've been looking through the archives at all the Snape and Jamie stories I remember with nostalgia, as well as catching up with my own characters. Gissing won't be back though, but the girls and other Remmington staff (not to mention a new and exciting character) will.
- Monday, June 18, 2007 at 11:07:51 PM (EDT)


In honour of the occasion, I have been behaving myself and will continue to do so for the rest of the day.

Of course you realize that at midnight all bets are off.

Warmest regards,

The Interrogator
And who knows where I will be by midnight . . . ?, - Monday, June 18, 2007 at 07:41:07 PM (EDT)


The brightly colored banner fluttered in the gentle June breeze.

Sinclair, shoulders hunched forward, shoved his hands deeper into the pockets of his khaki trousers, and glowered. He was tired, jet lagged and in no mood for games.

Where was everyone? The studio lot was eerily silent.

10 years, the thought depressed him but time had been kind to his features, a few grey wings to the leonine blond mane, and the work excellent for his bank balance. Was he still the same hungry actor who had spent those first FOF weeks in a lift? Imperceptibly he straightened, tensed his stomach muscles and reached up for the imaginary ceiling. Paneling, the thought ran round his brain, it was all about the paneling. His slender fingers traced invisible detail and then he couldn�t resist dealing an imaginary hand of cards. The riverboat man, yes that role had opened so many doors most of them in places far flung from where he stood now.

PL, Dana, Claire all those months together on the Oregon Trail. There had been talk of another series to complete the route but somehow the finance usually spluttered out. And of course the personal issues, where had filming ended and real life begun?

Abruptly aware of his surroundings Sinclair with a sheepish grin glanced around self-consciously. The place had been good to him, poignant memories tugged at his heartstrings. He had loved and been loved.

A wheezy mechanical cough drew his attention to the open door of the storage facility beyond the banner. He would know that sound anywhere and there just had to be one rider with or without his goggles.

The Rickman Metisse farted a huge black smudge as the engine roared to life.

�Trust you to have a literal carbon footprint PL� Sinclair exclaimed and started to run. He was feeling better already, FOF had worked it�s usual magic.


Dana paced the lot corner impatiently; it wasn�t like Claire to be late. Whenever she said she�d meet Dana somewhere, usually an international arrivals lobby, she was there.

This summons had come suddenly and unexpectedly, but perhaps the timing was, as usual, perfect. She thought back to the timid newcomer who first ventured onto the FOF lot with no idea what lay in store for her�love found and lost and found again, and a lifelong friendship that outshone it all.

Despite living on different continents, she had worked with Claire often over the years the range and complexity of their cooperative projects sometimes baffled the imagination. Stumbling into that mansion had been a stroke of fate.

She placed a hand over her fluttering stomach, surprised at this new burst of nerves. How long had it been? Too many years had passed since the last Oregon Trail cliffhanger had left them on the trail, grubby and cold, with no renewed contract. At least the potato famine dream sequence had allowed for pretty dresses and baths.

Through all her work here at FOF had been the frisson of excitement she felt working with PL O�Hara. Intuitive, resourceful, handsome as sin, and with a heart of pure gold hidden beneath a gruff exterior, he had stolen her heart immediately. But in that ironic way life had of imitating art, she had watched him walk away.

There she is! �Claire! Over here!�


�Tell me again why it is so important to have this bike running this afternoon.� Sinclair waived the spanner airily �There must be real mechanics on the lot � somewhere.�

O�Hara engrossed with a rag and small pieces of the engine did not respond directly but started another line of conversation. � Did I hear you settled down at last? Some place outside London � spending those big fat pay cheques?�

�Well you know how it is, hard to call anywhere home in this business but yes I picked up a property close to the river.� Sinclair bent down towards the prone figure. �I have a sail boat �.. with an engine.�

�Any time old man, any time.� O�Hara, face now streaked with a mix of sweat and oil, laughed. �Always wondered, did you ever nail Claire down, or was it the other way round? �

�Never heard what became of your love life either� replied Sinclair uneasily. Pages of a book he thought long closed - fluttered. �Here � clean up with this.�

�Still chasing in general, you know me � can�t resist�. O�Hara�s wide smiling face a testament to many broken hearts. He gave the chrome tank a final wipe with Sinclair�s handkerchief. �Come on now darlin� you and me have an appointment with someone special� he whispered.

Throwing the balled wad back �Fancy a ride Sinclair or are you walking?�

�Where to?� Sinclair held the catch and immediately wished he had not.

�Egdon Manor � Lot 43B � where else? �


�They�re here already? You�re sure?�

�What can you be sure of with that pair.�

Dana�s cheeks flushed slightly as a smile lifted one corner of her mouth, �A wild ride, that�s about all you can count on.�

Claire tilted her head, listening to something other than the flapping of banners in the breeze. �That bugger never misses a cue.� The two stepped aside as the sound of the engine grew louder.

�Claire.� PL touched a long forefinger to an imaginary hat brim and nodded. Then the amber gaze moved slowly over Dana; a hint of a curl moved the upper lip. �Care for a lift?�

�I�ll walk, thanks.� Claire winked at Dana. A lone figure was sauntering their direction.

Dana settled herself and wrapped her arms around PL. �All you had to do was ask.�


�Not changed much has it?� Surveying the familiar Manor exterior the four stood in peaceable companionship.

�Things don�t change, it is people who move on.� Sinclair remarked philosophically. �Funny after all the time we have spent together I was quite nervous of coming back�

�WOW� Claire exclaimed. �I never thought I would hear you admit that, actually I did not expect to see you today. But you are right. It is like stepping onto the stage again for the first time.�

�The FOF lot feels timeless. Just think of all the productions that have passed through these gates � and how many more to come� mused Dana. �We could almost pick up where we left off� They looked at her incredulously.

�It was just a thought, you guys are just the best and we will work together sometime in the future�

There were nods of agreement, and a surreptitious sniff from Claire. PL put his spare arm around her shoulder. The years dropped away, Sinclair saw his cue and surrendered.

�Oh this sooooo American� he muttered as they swallowed him up in a group hug.

�Shut up Sinclair!� came the muffled cry in unison.

Claire and Dana
This is for you Suzanne - Thank you for tending this VERY special place , - Monday, June 18, 2007 at 08:28:53 AM (EDT)

As trumpet blasts resound throughout The Realm:

Hear ye, hear ye! Today, June 18th, 2007, is the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of Flights of Fancy!

I�d like to take this opportunity to thank our glorious Empress Suzanne for her attentive care in matters touching The Realm. If she had not taken up the challenge when the AR pages looked likely to vanish, scores of Rickmaniacs would have been bereft of a fan site whose level of civilized discourse is hardly to be equaled anywhere on the world wide web.

Neither should I neglect to mention the excellent people I�ve met through this page that I would probably never have known without it. It has been wonderful and I wouldn�t have missed it for anything. This has been one of my favourite places to play, to blow off steam, to allegorize and satirize and fantasize. It�s been a decade of delight and danger, of derring-do and debt services (remember those?), of suspense and hilarity and love.

Thank you, Suzanne, and all my friends who have made FoF the wonder that it is.

And now, on with the festivities! Dom Perignon, I think . . .


krrrrrsssshhhhhhhhhh . . .

MA *raising glass*
Salut! , - Monday, June 18, 2007 at 08:25:13 AM (EDT)

A Truly Eventful Year

Anne Trelawney and Daisy Small were in Mrs Trelawney's car going home for the holidays. Daisy was going to spend a week with the Trelawneys, and Anne would spend some time with the Smalls. They were talking about the turbulent events of the end of that term with Mrs Trelawney.

'So Mr Gissing won't be coming back then. That's a shame, he sounded like a wonderful teacher.' she said.

'He's marrying Mrs Deegan!' giggled Anne. 'That's so weird. I thought they hated each other.' Miss Hammerton had announced that he would be leaving, and marrying her in the last week of term, and the whole school had clapped.

Ginny told Anne and Mel that she would be starting singing lessons next term. Mr Gissing had recommended this to her mother after the final performance of 'Oliver!'which had made Ginny feel quietly proud of herself. Meanwhile Mel was in a slight huff that her new favourite teacher was leaving so soon.

'I wouldn't worry too much about Mel' said Ginny as Anne once saw her looking droopy-eyed in class. 'By the time it's the second week of the holidays she'll be sending me non-stop emails about icky Ewan in the Carribean.'

'Ewan's not icky!' squeaked Mel. 'He's so handsome when he's surfing with his-'

'Y-fronts,' finished Anne. She and Ginny then spent the rest of their French lesson in silent fits of laughter, much to Miss Steiner's annoyance. After she dismissed the class, Mel walked by their desks and hissed 'I meant his surfboard!'

Miss Meyers was also coming out of retirement until another Head of English could be found. Anne was happy that she was coming back, much as she had liked Mr Gissing. There had been a lot of drama at Remmington High this term, and she was relieved that things might settle at school next term. But she was far from right...

John and Caroline Gissing were married on the day before term ended. They took advantage of the Remmington High Carol Service to have a quiet wedding with a few of their friends around. Georgina Meyers was also there, as were Caroline's parents. Georgina had hugged Caroline fiercely after they signed the register.

'You're a lucky woman,' she whispered. 'I thought that you and John might get along somehow. I never thought for a second that you'd be getting married. He'll look after you,' she had added, looking in his direction. Caroline stared with her, at her new husband chatting to his friends. John stared back, as he once did when they were first sitting in a school assembly together. He still had the same slightly amused expression, but his eyes were softer. For a few seconds they just froze, as they had done on the first school day in September.

'Well, it's a pity you can't be with us much this Christmas,' sniffed Mrs Maloney-Jones. 'Melissa won't be coming at all; she's got that Brian Unwin fellow now, and of course Claudia is back in Canada now.' Caroline smiled politely at her mother, who was not likely to change soon. She would still exist in the hope that her two daughters would just stay in her home until she died, and her father would still be putting up with her.

John glanced at his wife, who was talking shop with her parents and Georgina. He was confident that the drama with Melissa would soon be forgotten as they made their way through life. He had forgiven Caroline since she first started being hostile to him, and John thought with a sigh, that he had always known how much he cared for her. Despite her baggage, she was a warm and loving person.

The next day, John and Caroline were saying goodbye to all of the leaving pupils. They watched with amusement as swarms of girls big and small were pushing each other about with suitcases, tuckboxes and hockey sticks.

'Lea you idiot you've got MY blazer in your suitcase!'

'Mrs Reginald I still can't find my tuck box keys! I need a hammer to get my library book out of it!'

'Harriet send me some photos of you in Thailand! Have a good Christmas!' It was utter chaos and Eileen Reginald looked shattered. Caroline was secretly glad that she wasn't a housemistress, much as she approved of Eileen's discipline. As she sorted out each child, they would approach the newlyweds and wish them luck, which touched John. He smiled as they squealed 'Merry Christmas Mrs Deegan!'

'Before we go you might need to remind Martha to tell the girls to call you Mrs Gissing next term. Unless you want to carry on being Mrs Deegan at school,' whispered John.

'Oh no that's done. I've already had the label on my door changed,' grinned Caroline, squeezing John's hand. Suddenly she couldn't help it, and kissed his cheek. Eileen's sharp eyes caught hers.

'You two!' she hissed as she pulled of a struggling first former. 'If you weren't just married I'd put you both in detention. Congratulations and I hope you have a lovely holiday. Now I must get my holiday before it ends.' She kissed Caroline's forehead and shook John's hand before helping the first former with her trunk. A minute later, they were alone in the large entrance hall.

'Well, let's get our honeymoon done with before it ends,' laughed John. They went to the Northern Wing to pick up Caroline's things.
Here is my last Gissing chapter..., - Monday, June 18, 2007 at 04:04:49 AM (EDT)

Thanks! Someone else can claim Gissing in the meantime as he'll be in just one more chapter but if no one else wants Slope then he'll be in my next part of 'A Truly Eventful Year'.
- Monday, June 18, 2007 at 02:32:02 AM (EDT)

Liza, welcome back! *steering Welcome Wagon in your direction* I'd say that if there are no other takers already set for Gissing or Slope, then go for it. Anyone?

Anonymous, I agree completely---Hans loves her and always will. However, just as soon as Mary Anne can safely get out of that bed, she might walk up to Hans, grab him by the ear, and ask him what was he thinking to go off and leave his wife when she's having a baby?!

*setting fingers in pinch position and showing scary RAWRRRR teeth*

She would do it, you know . . . ;-), - Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 09:52:17 PM (EDT)

Hello I'm here agin after nearly 4 years of not writing! I was wondering if I could finish the first Gissing instalment and then borrow Slope for the next instalment (leaving Gissing available for anyone who wants to write about him). Thanks, and it's good to see everyone here again!
Liza Rosette
- Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 02:36:49 AM (EDT)

And always will.
- Friday, June 15, 2007 at 01:03:36 PM (EDT)

Gruber men do not give their love lightly . . .

One who knows
- Thursday, June 14, 2007 at 08:31:00 PM (EDT)

The miracle . . . is that he still loves her.
- Thursday, June 14, 2007 at 12:16:55 PM (EDT)

In the Tardis:

Respiratory bypass or no, the Doctor feels his breath hitch. �You�ll go nowhere without me; it won�t work. The Tardis controls are---�

�---isomorphic, yes. You�ve told that tale before, but it�s only a tale, I think. Shall we find out?� The Interrogator passes one hand lightly over the surface of the console, lingering among the switches before deftly flipping one . . .

And the Tardis door opens.

The Interrogator smiles, and the Doctor�s hearts sink. If only a patrol had been passing by!

And now the door is closed again, as The Interrogator gives the control panel an appreciative caress as the Doctor takes refuge in sarcasm. �This is the first time I�ve ever seen someone attempt to seduce a Tardis.�

HIS eyebrows lift. �Seduce? Not necessary. She knows me, after all.� HIS voice drops, an acid parody of affection. �Dear old thing; I believe we shall get along well. And so---� HIS expression hardens as the pistol comes around to point directly at the Doctor. �---I suggest you avoid lying to me again, about what your machine will or will not do. I do have inside information, as you know.�

�You unspeakable abomination. (homage) What I know is that you did your best to kill her---�

�Hardly. If I had done my best to kill her, she would be dead.�

�---and if you know so much, then you know I�ll regenerate if you kill me.�

�Oh, but it�s such a delicate business, isn�t it? Regeneration doesn�t always go smoothly, and you haven�t so many of them left, have you? Don�t throw one away by resisting me.�

The Doctor gazes at HIM a moment. �I�ve sacrificed a regeneration before and I did not consider it a waste.�

�This one would be.� HE turns back to the panel. �Yes.� Quietly. �This one, I believe . . .�

HE touches a switch.

The Doctor�s eyes widen in dismay as, first with a low hum and then with the familiar grinding shriek, the Time Rotor begins its rise and fall, and the Tardis dematerializes.

There is a long silence.

�You�re quite mad, you know.�

�Am I? Then why are you the one in the improvised strait-waistcoat?�

�Do you know what you�ve done? There�s a randomizer in effect; where do you think you�re going to land us? The Gobi? The Eye of Orion? The Lesser Magellanics? The Royal Edinburgh Hotel?�

The Interrogator is pale but smiling. �Why don�t I let the Tardis choose? I�m sure she will pick an appropriate location.�

The Doctor can feel it, then: a small murmur of confusion in the subliminal thought-stream of the Tardis. Not fear. She thinks she knows who it is.

The Doctor turns cold at the thought. The Tardis is semi-sentient, but only just: she doubtless recognizes a brainwave pattern that seems familiar . . .

HE has been too close to Mary Anne for weeks on end; the synchrony must be almost exact, and the artron energy is reading that. But the DNA . . . oh, dear. Great Rassilon, HE injured Mary Anne. Spilled her blood. If there�s any of it still on HIM, anywhere . . . and she does have some Gallifreyan DNA.

Immobilized, with the Tardis in flight and a murderer with a pistol working the controls. No, this is not a good time to try and enlighten the Tardis, if it could be done. The Doctor contents himself with calming his mind, letting his link with the Tardis remain soothing and reassuring. Yet there is that worry chewing at him: where will she choose? Reading that man�s brainwaves, sensing the unrest, the devouring need for safety, refuge, . . . what will the Tardis choose?

It is seldom that the Doctor allows despair to overtake him, and it does not do so now; the fighting, adventurous spirit that has sustained him for hundreds of years is not bowed down. Nevertheless, he cannot deny the thought passing through his mind, kept carefully distant from his link with the Tardis. I should never have attended the Academy, never become a Time Lord. I should�ve hunted up the Sheboogans. Wonder if they would�ve taken me in? A more peaceful life, certainly . . .

. . . and a boring one, as you know perfectly well. You know you haven�t regretted any of it. Don�t begin now .


The Tardis has rematerialized, and The Interrogator is standing over him. The two gaze at each other, human versus Time Lord.

�The Tardis has chosen---and I think she did very well.�

The Interrogator has pushed him over onto his side, and the Doctor tenses, preparing to struggle though struggle is useless . . . and yet, all The Interrogator does is turn The Doctor�s face to the wall, away from the door, and HIS voice is almost gentle. �I�d rather you didn�t see where we are, Doctor, if you don�t mind.�

�And if I do?�

�Learn to live with disappointment. (homage) I believe the term here is �a clean getaway,� is it not? I�ve set the controls to automatically dematerialize again as soon as I leave, so do me the kindness of not searching for me. And while I�m thinking of it---�

With a wry expression, The Interrogator reaches deep into the coverall pocket and draws out the Doctor�s Tardis key, dangling from its chain, and drops it on the floor. �A praiseworthy attempt to plant something traceable; I�m sure the metal is unique where we are, but . . .� A shrug. �I have my reasons for being wary of people putting things in my pockets.� HIS face hardens. �Or taking things out.�

In one smooth motion The Interrogator rises to HIS feet. �So tell me, Doctor, before I leave you: how does it feel to be a deus ex machina?�

For a moment, the Doctor thinks of some of the beings he has known who would count themselves gods---beings who are power-hungry, power-crazed, or simply powerful. Omega the renegade, the Black Guardian, Sutekh the Destroyer, last of the Osirans: these dangers, met and defeated, put The Interrogator in proper perspective, and The Doctor looks up, now able to smile a little. �The machine part of it, I�ll grant you. As for the rest . . .� Sombre, now. �Young man, if you�d met some of what�s out there, you�d mind your tongue about what you call god.�

�Perhaps I should, at that. It has been interesting to see you again, Doctor---but just now, I�d rather you didn�t see me. And so, farewell.�

The Doctor hears the door open and squirms furiously, trying to turn himself, to see . . . but no, the dematerialization has already begun, and the Tardis roams the void of time and space.

In a few moments, the Doctor has finished working himself free from his bindings. Amazing how much easier that is, without a weapon pointed at you! And then he is on his feet and concentrating furiously at the control panel . . . but no, there are too many options among the selections of the randomizer circuitry, no knowing at which of these places HE had departed. It would be just barely possible to narrow down the choices by limiting to Earth and scanning for residual artron energy, but even now the trace would be fading. Not a long enough exposure, and the stabilizers are working perfectly, for once. HE would have to be close to artron-toxic to give off any traces now.

With a heavy sigh, the Doctor absentmindedly strokes the console as he checks for damages. First order of business is to restore the Temporal Grace circuitry. And make it much harder to disconnect, with multiple failsafes, as soon as possible!

And now there is another daunting task ahead. Setting his jaw, the Doctor adjusts the controls for Earth, locking in the coordinates for the Imperial Palace, triangulating until he has the settings for the exact corridor from which he had been abducted. And once there . . .

It will not be an easy task, to face The Empress and tell her how her infamous prisoner has made HIS escape.

MA---you can call off the search, Your Majesty . . .
The Interrogator has left the building! And where is HE now . . . ?, - Thursday, June 07, 2007 at 10:49:58 PM (EDT)

Scene: Imperial Palace. The medical wing. Labour ward.


�I don�t understand it, Doctor Blalock.�

�I received it while in surgery with Mary Anne. It saved her life. Stopped the bleeding. That�s all I know. You�ll have to ask your patient, Dottore. And here she is.�

Above her, a face which looks familiar, yet not quite so.

�Don�t be alarmed, Mrs. Gruber. I am Doctor Alfred Blalock. And I am very pleased to meet you this fine morning.�

�Mercedes . . . .�

�Lyla bring that beautiful little girl over, will you?

�Give me just a moment,� answers Lyla, from behind a curtain.

Behind Dr. Blalock�s face Renie sees Colin, and wishes she could gesture to him to come closer, but her arms, her fingers, aren�t responding just yet . . . fizzy, but growing warmer . . .


For some reason, the doctors look at Colin, who shakes his head.

�He had to step out. He�ll be . . . right back.�

Lyla brings over a tiny bundle, wrapped in a clean baby blanket.

Colin gasps at the sight of the newborn, swaddled, eyes closed tightly. �Two miracles.�

Dr. Blalock cocks his head. �Whether we live or die is science. Which is--I admit--very often, a mystery. The miracle . . . �

And here, Blalock reaches out to help Lyla settle the baby in Renie�s weak but waiting arms. He sighs a contented sigh before continuing his thought.

�The miracle . . . is that we love each other.�

To miracles., - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 02:31:35 AM (EDT)

Scene: Darkness. A garden. Expansive. Explosive in bloom . . . yet moonlight bathes what might be, what would be, bright bold colours by day. In this cobalt world, heliotrope lies hushed.

Its fertile beauty, eerily veiled, hues of blues and greys, where life sleeps underneath a cool shadow.

Where am I?

A man emerges, small in stature.

�Hard to imagine that in a few moments, this garden will be alive with light. How do you feel?�


�Here you are.�

A warm taste of peach . . . rich, juicy, ripe, floods her mouth.

�One day, you will come and walk in this garden. But that day is not today, Renie.�

But . . .

The small man raises a finger as if to stop her. �I will answer your questions another day. I look forward to it, Mrs. Gruber. Right now, you are wanted.�

I'm sure it was the thumping threat that did it, dearest., - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 02:28:30 AM (EDT)

Scene: Imperial Palace. The medical wing. Labour ward.

Bedside, in the delivery room. Doctor DaMozzici stands at the foot of the bed, pressing buttons on a monitor.

�What�s happened?� But even as Colin chokes out his question, the scene before him does not leave much to the imagination.

�It�s a girl. She appears fine--Lyla is with her, administering a battery of tests. I�ve just sent for Dr. Blalock.�

�For Renie?�

�Yes. This delivery�this entire day for that matter�has been too abrupt.�

�Tell me all of it.� When Antonia hesitates, Colin does not. �I�m standing in for Hans. There are reasons, trust me.�

�She�s hemorrhaging. After the delivery the placenta begins to separate from the uterus but it may not complete the process quickly enough, exposing the blood vessels where it was previously attached. We may need a surgeon.�

�How dangerous . . . will she . . . �

A blast of the open doors.

�I can�t say, Mister Molyneux.�

�But I can." It comes out, "But ah can." "Alfred Blalock. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Dottore DaMozzici. I know just the thing to stop this bleeding.�

It's tempting either way . . . *wicked grin* (And hello ladies!), - Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 01:50:59 AM (EDT)

Imperial Palace:

Instinctively the Doctor stiffens, only to feel the barrel dig painfully into his side. �You may have two hearts, but you would find a hole in even one of them a serious inconvenience. Now, inside.�

The Doctor complies. �I�m not so certain of that. Some people---� Tartly. �---manage very well with none at all.�

There is no reply, only a mirthless chuckle, and the Doctor allows himself to be dragged into the Tardis, managing to bump awkwardly against his captor several times and hoping against hope the machine will recognize an enemy . . . but there is no such alarm, and in short order the Doctor finds himself trussed hand and foot with a long, multi-coloured muffler left hanging from the hall tree. I knew I should�ve packed that away a long time ago.

Quite an awkward position in which to find oneself. The Doctor watches and, though his hearts pound frantically, tries to remain calm as The Interrogator strolls through the Control Room right up to the panel, gazing on it in smiling wonder---and, what is worse, recognition.

Numbskull. Of course HE recognizes it; HE knows what Mary Anne knows! Some of it, at any rate. The thought of it turns him cold as a Yeti�s cavern and he twists his arms, testing the knots and trying not to tip over. After all, it�s only a knitted muffler; how strong can it . . .

The Interrogator pulls open a panel and reaches inside; a moment later, there is the sharp pop of a plug coming loose.

�Temporal Grace circuitry, I believe.� Pleasantly. �If I remember correctly, my pistol will fire in here now. So keep still or I�ll rip out that circuit entirely, and then try a little target shooting.� The smile does not reach HIS eyes.

�If you damage the Tardis, you won�t be getting away from here, will you?�

�I was not thinking of the Tardis.�

That silences the Doctor for a moment as he tries again, ever so subtly, to twist at the knots about his arms, but The Interrogator seems to have mastered the art of watching in two different directions; though HE is examining the console intently, it seems there is never a moment when those sharp golden eyes are not alert for an escape attempt, and the Doctor finally allows himself to slump a little in his bonds. No use in this. Perhaps something else . . .

�So, what are you going to do?�

�I told you; we�re leaving.� A predatory smile. �Or, more correctly---I am leaving.�

And R, dearest: if Renie and the baby are not both all right, Mary Anne is going to be out of that bed MUCH sooner than she should be. Consider yourself warned. ;-), - Monday, May 21, 2007 at 09:47:56 PM (EDT)

Well, Redwolf, we'd better give you something to avidly read, then. And Glowbox---Doctor you love, Doctor you shall have!

Like Yoda I sound, yes, hmmmmm . . ., - Monday, May 21, 2007 at 09:46:01 PM (EDT)

I'm still here, a devoted lurker and avid reader.
Redwolf <Redwolf546@aol.comfoo>
- Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 12:15:27 AM (EDT)

Yes, yes - I'm reading, please keep it coming!!
I just love that Doctor, - Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 03:29:04 PM (EDT)

Imperial Palace, a deserted corridor:

The Doctor steps out of the Tardis, patting his pockets for the key. At last, a spot that isn�t overrun with---well, just about everyone, really: guards and soldiers and doctors and nurses and whatnot. Hardly a minute�s peace. To say that life has been interesting at The Palace lately . . . a poor, pale sort of word. The Time Lord shakes his head. Interesting. Perhaps in the sense of that ancient curse: �May you live in interesting times.�

Ah, well. This is what you can expect, taking up with humans. Every moment in which he feels himself akin to them brings with it a dozen more in which he cannot hope to understand what they are about, but perhaps that is part of the attraction; a species, thoroughly investigated for good and all, can become boring. Or worse.

The Daleks. Now them I understand, much good may it do me. Or even the worst human generally has better manners than a Sontaaran.

Yet there are moments that drive him to pace the long hallways of the Tardis in puzzlement. Take that Renie, now. Why did she insist on coming here to see that man, after all that�s between them? And about to have a child into the bargain. Why in Rassilon�s name---

No key. The Doctor begins rummaging another pocket.

---couldn�t she stay put . . .

Oh, bother it all; you�re starting to sound like those old fossils in the Panopticon. Calcifying, the lot of them. �Why,� indeed? If you thought it was a such a bad idea, why did you agree to bring her here?


That�s the right pocket. Let�s get you locked up again, dear old thing, and I can go check on how everyone�s coming along. We�ll not be in anyone�s way here.

How gently but suddenly the arm tightens about his neck, cutting off his oxygen. Even now The Doctor is little troubled; a bypass respiratory system has its uses, and Venusian aikido can throw off most such attacks.

But this hold is from someone who knows the business of it: balanced and strong. And The Doctor recognizes that hard pressure against his side; even Venusian aikido, in the multiple hands of the most advanced practitioner, cannot stop a bullet.

�Back inside, Doctor. We�re leaving.�

MA---carrying the FoF flag . . .
Anybody out there? *peering about*, - Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 09:51:11 PM (EDT)

Imperial Palace:

Many levels beneath Mary Anne�s sickroom, The Interrogator awakens with a startled exclamation. HE had not meant to sleep, only to rest after nearly an hour of following a search party. Reasoning that two parties would not be engaged too close together with all the ground of The Palace to cover, HE had slipped behind one band of searchers, following in their wake; the hunters had become the hunted until, after their investigation of a large storeroom had turned up nothing, they had moved on and HE had slipped gratefully into the room, hidden in one of the closets, and closed HIS eyes.

So HE had slept, not meaning to do so. Ah, well, HE thinks as HE stretches cramped limbs and carefully opens the door, all the better. I needed any sleep I could get. Grimacing, HE runs his tongue over his teeth, wincing at the taste of stale coffee that lingers in HIS mouth. More food would help as well; that stolen breakfast had not satisfied for long.

But let that be. The Interrogator steps out into the storeroom, taking stock of the resources. Not much. Brooms, mops, buckets, cleaning rags, a large sink with oversized taps---and there, a few sets of dark coveralls tossed over a chairback. Well, that�s something. HE rummages the coveralls and, finding the first set far too small, tosses it aside. The second is better: legs and sleeves long enough, perhaps even a little too long as though intended for an even larger man than himself, but that may prove useful. Quickly, HE strips out of the stained and wrinkled surgical gear, ties it into a ball, and flings it into the closet, then zips into the coverall, sighing a little in relief at simply being free of the scrubs. The coverall fits beautifully over HIS own clothing, and yes, the long legs drape over the tops of his shoes without their laces. A minor detail, but if even one Alliance agent were to spot it---Sifuentes, for example---HE is a dead man.

You are that anyway, as you know very well. Let even one of them sight you and no matter what orders The Empress has given, you know what will happen. Shoot to kill.

With a grim smile, The Interrogator fingers the pistol tucked away in the coverall, within easy reach. Nearly a full clip left. Perhaps they won�t find it so easy as all that.

Only now . . . what?

The Interrogator glances about the room once more. Natural light in the room, and from the look of it on the wall, HE hadn�t slept long. You�re above ground now, and it�s likely that most of the patrols will still be sweeping the lower levels. That�s where they�ll expect you to be---hiding in the dark.

Very well, then. HE simply will not be where they expect.

But who can say what they expect? HE pauses, thinking. You�re intelligent and armed and dangerous, and you had weeks to study this place in those books. You know all the ways out of here. But so do they. And the more obscure, the more likely to be watched. Someone is bound to reason that HE will try to escape through some door not opened for the half of a century, out a secret sally-port, along a sewer tunnel . . . and with as many as they can spare, those places will be closely observed.

Whatever I can think of---what I can plan---they can anticipate. Therefore . . . I must have no plan beyond what I shall do in the next few steps.

So be it. HE must trust to the inspiration of the moment. (homage)

The Interrogator moves to the sink, turning the taps and allowing cool water to gush into HIS cupped hands. Drinking HIS fill, HE passes HIS damp hands through his hair, neatening and sleeking down, rearranging a bit. They�ll be looking for someone all stained and shabby. And wearing spectacles . . . Which HE promptly removes and tucks into one of the coverall pockets.

Now for it.

Gripping one of the brooms and pushing it before HIM, The Interrogator exits the storeroom and strolls down the corridor . . .

MA---Happy Birthday to Shakespeare, who loved disguises. ;-)
R, dearest, you are going to get such a thump on the noggin . . . , - Monday, April 23, 2007 at 09:43:37 PM (EDT)

Oh, dear��Oh, dear, oh, dear�
An anxious reader (viewer?)
Sitting on pins and needles, - Wednesday, April 04, 2007 at 10:02:35 PM (EDT)

Scene: Black. We hear only wind. Are we outside? Then white coming into our screen. Out of focus. Is it snow?

Focus. A clock. Black Roman numerals. Close-up on the movement of the black minute hand, an elongated ornate arrow, as it slides upright. 8 o�clock.

There is no chime, no sound at all except for breathing.

It is ridiculous to think that a man can sense when a woman is crying. To think that a man can know, in any reliable sense, when a woman�s situation has shifted from precarious to dangerous.

It is also ridiculous to think otherwise.

The medical papers fall to the doctor�s desk, the file left open.

Hurried breaths.

We cannot tell if they belong to Colin or to Renie.

Back down the corridor, Colin�s hastening footfalls are nearly outside the door of the labour room. We see them, the dark shoes land against the white corridor flooring, but we hear only breathing.

Inside the room, strangled breathing beneath a pale blue surgical mask. A hand reaches up towards us and rips off the mask, and we see what Hans sees . . .

. . . Without warning, we are back on the other side of the door, as Hans barrels towards Colin as if his eyes are burning, he is unable to breathe. Colin grabs the surgical mask and holds it over his own mouth, barging through the doors of the delivery room, with such force that Lyla Dragomir would have drawn a broadsword--if she�d had one, instead of the towel she had in her hands.

The towel is soaked red.

�Oh my God��

�Hold her, Mister Molyneux.�

An infant cries.

But Renie is silent. Pale, wet, red, and frighteningly silent.

We hear the voice of a mezzo-soprano . . .

Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgehn,
Als sei kein Ungl�ck die Nacht geschehn . . .

Now the sun will rise as brightly
as if no misfortune had occurred in the night . . .

- Monday, April 02, 2007 at 07:58:55 PM (EDT)

The music for the next few posts is Kindertotenlieder by Gustav Mahler.
- Monday, April 02, 2007 at 07:55:18 PM (EDT)

Well, alrighty then! Thanks for that vote of confidence.

Though it would be even more fun if some other people would come out to play . . ., - Sunday, April 01, 2007 at 10:04:17 AM (EDT)

IF anyone is still reading? Surely you jest. We just figured that nagging wasn't working.
- Sunday, April 01, 2007 at 01:03:45 AM (EDT)

Imperial Palace, medical wing:

She smiles, then lies back on the pillows, her eyelids fluttering closed with weariness. �There�s someone I�d like to speak to, as soon as it can be arranged.�

McCoy satisfies herself with a last look at the pressure cuff. �Who would that be?�

�The man they call Minion. Since you�re with the Alliance, could you arrange---�

Suddenly aware of the deep silence in the room, Mary Anne opens her eyes just in time to see McCoy�s dismayed glance toward Brandon, whose eyes widen in shocked understanding.

McCoy clears her throat. �Mary Anne . . . �

McCoy makes it clear, as gently as possible, that Minion will not be speaking to anyone, and Brandon is alarmed to see Mary Anne fold her lips tightly and stare down at the bedclothes for a long moment of absolute silence. He had expected almost any other response: surprise, horror, even grief. Not this icy composure. Nor the low murmur. �Of course. I should have guessed---should have known.�

Brandon reaches for her hands and cradles them in his, stroking them to warmth. �How, my dearest?�

Mary Anne lets out her breath slowly. �That dream.� Brandon waits, but no recital of the dream is forthcoming. �I should have known.�

McCoy is no more pleased by this eerie placidity than Brandon. Some who have seen Mary Anne in her more impulsive or temperamental moments might consider this calm a decided improvement, but McCoy knows her patient and is scanning the chart at the foot of the bed. �You need a good rest,� she announces, �and I mean to see that you get it.� Delivered, of course, with her finest bedside manner smile, but with a determination that could stop an outbreak of plague in its flea-bitten tracks. Much is said of the will of the patient and its effect on healing, but it does not do to leave the will of the physician out of one�s calculations, especially such a physician as Joanna McCoy.

Mary Anne nods. �A good rest,� she agrees. A small, fine shiver passes through her body. �And no dreams.�


Many levels beneath Mary Anne�s sickroom, The Interrogator awakens with a startled exclamation. HE had not meant to sleep . . .

MA--back to it at last.
If anyone's still reading . . . , - Saturday, March 31, 2007 at 11:21:45 PM (EDT)

FoF set�Mary Anne�s cubicle:

Oh, please, for the love of all that�s holy, don�t let Christopher walk in on this. I don�t know if I�d ever be able to explain . . .

Somewhere in the universe there dwells a band of mischievous imps whose chief delight in existence is thwarting the wishes of humans and bringing their fears to pass. The aforementioned imps must all be otherwise occupied at the moment, for no Brandon appears in the doorway of Mary Anne�s cubicle.

Nevertheless, The Director sees the anxious expression on her face and knows well enough how to read it. Though notably unlike Brandon in many respects, one trait The Director shares with that gentleman is the ability to discern Mary Anne�s thoughts. And the last thing they need is that sort of misunderstanding, especially after the notable incident of Professor Snape and the misdirected birthday card.

�Oh, all right,� hmmmphs The Director, yanking the gift t-shirt over his head, then smoothing it into place. �Satisfied?�

�Very,� purrs Mary Anne, who is beginning to recover her equilibrium. The t-shirt is snug---a good fit is always snug. (homage) But not too tight. �Perfect, sir.�

�Good.� Smirking, The Director promptly slips his pullover on over the t-shirt.

�Wait a minute! I dared you to wear it all day---�

�Correct,� he beams. �You dared me to wear it, and so I shall. You never specified that it had to show.�

Mary Anne stares at him for a moment and then lets out a disgusted sigh. �I must be losing my touch. Time was, you�d never have caught me so easily.�

�Let that be a lesson to you.� But his smile empties the words of any sting, and Mary Anne smiles back.

�However . . .� She takes a step toward him. �I�ve actually seen the instruction on that shirt, though no one else will do so. At least, not today.�

The Director�s eyebrow goes up, but he relaxes and go so far as to grin when Mary Anne lifts his fingers to her lips and blows him an airy kiss. �So it looks as if I�m the only woman here who�ll have the privilege.�

The Director mimes catching the kiss on his cheek. �I�m glad you still think that it would be a privilege, Mary Anne.� He turns to leave. �And thank you for the present.�

�You�re welcome, sir. Happy birthday.�

Okay--birthday silliness out of the way; now, back to the medical wing . . . , - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 09:47:22 PM (EST)

Doctor Mesmer out on the green? I must look into taking some golf lessons! 8-) Looking forward to the good doctor's return. Stay tuned for more of The Director (well, figuratively speaking--*chortle*) hopefully this evening.

Any other returns to look forward to as well? Anyone? Bueller? , - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 07:22:02 AM (EST)

Please pardon that Dr. Mesmer has obviously been on an extened golf trip...will hopfully reappear soon when real life settles down a bit. Still enjoy the reading...
Maureen <maureen.shea@eu.dodea.edufoo>
Ohhh, what a way to start the day..., Suffork England - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 02:45:30 AM (EST)

FoF set�Mary Anne�s cubicle:

The Director�s pullover comes off, and Mary Anne draws in a sharp little breath, then releases it in a sigh, only partly of relief. Beneath the pullover is a sleeveless V-necked undervest, and though the man is covered, technically speaking, very little is concealed.

Still grinning, The Director leans back against the doorframe. �Like what you see?�

He has called her bluff and is reveling in it, but Mary Anne cannot bring herself to be annoyed---unless it is because The Director has been concealing his . . . assets in roomy pullovers. They do him absolutely no service, none at all. Just look at those arms . . .

Dreamily, she calls to mind some of the many occasions in which Brandon had been called upon by the script to sweep her off her feet, and how he had done so, easily. And this one could probably do the same, no danger.

A sudden thought douses Mary Anne�s daydreaming like a bucket of ice water.

Oh, please, for the love of all that�s holy, don�t let Christopher walk in on this. I don�t know if I�d ever be able to explain . . .

MA--here's some more, FoF Fan.
And more still very soon! 8-), - Monday, March 05, 2007 at 09:24:39 PM (EST)

Happy Birthday to Cindie!

*passing around cake and champagne*

Hmmmm, wonder what sort of birthday celebration Mistral has planned . . . *wicked grin*

Now, back to this situation with The Director . . . *gulp*, - Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 08:11:49 AM (EST)

Happy Birthday Suz, and happy birthday to the Director. And Cindie, I am still having problems with your e-mail address. Latest one timed out and returned to me after a day.
- Monday, February 26, 2007 at 07:33:19 PM (EST)

Well, only sweater-less . . . so far. ;-)

But we shall see!, - Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 09:24:10 AM (EST)

Yes, YES, please continue!
FOF fan
The Director...shirtless.... in your cubicle? Oh my..., - Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 08:42:27 AM (EST)

FoF set�Mary Anne�s cubicle:


Mary Anne looks up to see The Director lounging in the doorway of her cube, arms crossed, and one eyebrow raised.

�Well . . . what, sir?� The eyebrow is returned with compound interest.

One hand emerges from the configuration of intimidatingly crossed arms, the forefinger loosely extended. �Well, what plot have I spoiled for this year? For there must be one, I know. If not an explosion of confetti in my office, or artistically arranged kudzu draped over the cabinets, or Mistral popping out of a cake---�

A twinkle. �No, that was for my birthday, as I recall.�

�Yes. Quite. It was. But before you could come up with worse still, like having me abducted in my underclothes or something of that sort---�

�Of course you realize you�re only giving me more ideas---�

�I have decided to take matters into my own hands and beard the lioness in her den---�

Mary Anne grins openly at that, leaning back in her desk chair and rubbing at her chin. �Beard? And here I thought that last session in the spa got rid of all those chin hairs.�

The Director makes one of those noises that cannot be rendered in English orthography, though it vaguely resembles a snort. But he cannot help smiling back as Mary Anne strokes her chin---that delicately pointed chin raised in the characteristic gesture of defiance to The Interrogator or any other adversary. Fans by the hundreds are familiar with that exact mannerism, though she generally delivers it without her current expression, an arch smile of such winning sweetness that it warms his heart even as he schools his expression back to a scowl.

�So, for the last time---what mischief are you at today?�

�Only this.� She reaches into a desk drawer, producing a card and a package. �Happy Birthday, sir.�

Pretending grave suspicion, he takes it from her and examines it with all the care of a bomb squad technician before opening the card and reading it. Quite tasteful, actually, a hand-crafted art card with a watercolour design reminiscent of the Impressionists. Blank inside, but inscribed with her own sentiments for the day: warm, good-humoured, friendly. All that one might expect.

Still, there is the package.

The Director parts the layers of tissue paper to disclose a t-shirt. On the front is a figure garbed in D.W. Griffith style and shouting into a megaphone, from which emerges a dialogue balloon like a title frame from a silent movie. It reads:


He cannot help grinning. And blushing. A little, just a faint stain of red on his cheekbones, there and gone again.

Mary Anne is watching him. �Try it on.�

�Well, I should think it would fit---� Hastily, he holds it up in front of him.

�Try it on and wear it. All day.� Mary Anne�s grin is positively wicked. �I dare you.�

The Director stares at her for moment, open-mouthed . . .

. . . and then, with a sudden and devilish smile, he nods, reaches for the hem of his pullover, and in one smooth motion, peels it off over his head . . .

MA, up to birthday mischief as usual.
To be continued . . . ?, - Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 08:20:54 AM (EST)

Happy Birthday to our esteemed Empress Suzanne---long may she reign! 8-)

MA (looking about furtively)
Think I can sneak any cake past The Director . . . ?, - Tuesday, February 13, 2007 at 01:30:39 PM (EST)

Imperial Palace, medical wing:

�Easy, Mary Anne . . . there, now . . .�

In obedience to the ministrations of Doctor Joanna McCoy, Mary Anne�s heart rate slows and steadies, and the monitor ceases to shrill, resuming its regular, plaintive beeping. Still murmuring under her breath, McCoy checks the pressure cuff that has automatically inflated and deflated, frowning a little over the rapid drop in blood pressure. �But then, you always did have the blood pressure of a reptile,� she jokes.

Brandon shoots her an indignant look before turning to his wife. �A nightmare?�

Mary Anne nods, half-expecting him to comfort her as he has done before, back at Delaford in a time that now seems long years ago. If you tell it, it will go away.

But her husband is silent. He knows---they both know---that none of this is going to go away.

Instead, Brandon turns to McCoy. �How is this?� he demands. �She was given drugs for pain a short time ago, so she could rest---�

McCoy shakes her head. �You�d be surprised what effects a drug can have, depending on the patient. Things that are meant to make you sleep . . . well, some of them can make you dream, too, like you wouldn�t believe. Opium, for instance---�

A brusque nod from Brandon. �I am aware of its effects.�

A raised eyebrow from McCoy. �Well. That�s only one example. And as I said, the individual patient is always an issue. Your wife�s medical history is not exactly conventional, is it?�

�They can give her nothing for pain, then?�

Real alarm, now, and McCoy hastens to reassure him. �I didn�t mean that. She will require careful observation, however.�

The patient in question licks her lips. �They can observe me all they want to; I�m not going anywhere. Could I have some water, please?� Brandon hurriedly reaches for the water pitcher and tumbler, as McCoy straightens the bedclothes. �And one other thing . . .�

Brandon and McCoy, simultaneously. �Yes, Mary Anne?�

She smiles, then lies back on the pillows, her eyelids fluttering closed with weariness. �There�s someone I�d like to speak to, as soon as it can be arranged.�

McCoy satisfies herself with a last look at the pressure cuff. �Who would that be?�

�The man they call Minion. Since you�re with the Alliance, could you arrange---�

Suddenly aware of the deep silence in the room, Mary Anne opens her eyes just in time to see McCoy�s dismayed glance toward Brandon, whose eyes widen in shocked understanding.

McCoy clears her throat. �Mary Anne . . . �

MA---sorry to be gone so long; real life has been exceptionally nasty lately. 8-(
Know it's short but hope to have more soon. , - Sunday, February 04, 2007 at 09:18:55 PM (EST)

Of course, Professor, at your convenience. *gulp*

And OF COURSE a Happy Birthday to Claudia!! *passing the champagne*, - Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 07:45:21 PM (EST)

Ah, Miss Mary Anne?

A word with you?

Professor Severus Snape
- Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 07:05:21 PM (EST)

Now, dearest, can I help it if I'm honest to a fault?

The Happiest of Birthday Wishes to Claudia today!
- Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 06:40:50 PM (EST)

Renie, you bad girl. ;-)

What will Professor Snape think? Well, he already knows Mary Anne has a warped sense of humour (if he was paying attention at the Yacht Party).

However, seeing "Dearest" written in the card and thinking it's for him . . . that could lead to some complications.

And yes, just writing out my idea of that dream gave me the creeps. , - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 01:34:13 PM (EST)

This birthday wish needs a better voice--Hans?
Happy Birthday to R and Snapey
- Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 02:34:29 PM (EST)

Bit of a warning--for those unaccustomed to delivery rooms or lacking a robust constitution . . . you might want to peek between those fingers and steel yourself with whatever fortification you favour.

This might include you, Claire.
- Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 01:35:22 PM (EST)

Scene: A wintry morning.

No new snow falls over the expanse of the Palace of The Empress, nor over the fabled chambers of Justice, the vaulted and marbled halls of state, the residences of the Realm. Yet the growing winds growl and swirl even the heaviest of flakes skyward, in circles, dips, precipitous drops and unlikely dances.

A windstorm.

A Mistral.

Inside the hospital, in the labour ward, the overhead lights flicker once . . . then again.

�Antonia . . .�

A sharp searing pain. Without knowing it, Renie cries out.

�It�ll be alright. Don�t fight it. Try to open yourself. Nurse Dragomir, is there a backup generator which operates at this hospital?�

�I believe so.�

�See to it.�

Lyla nods, as it is obvious that in every other respect, the doctor needs no immediate assistance.

The nurse slides past Hans, who holds his wife�s right wrist. The rest of her body rocks and will not be steadied.

Hans looks barely less agitated.

�Will you give her something for the pain?�

�She�s too far along for an epidural. And your wife expressed her wish for no drugs during the delivery. She wanted a natural childbirth.�

There is nothing natural about it. thinks Hans, as tiny beads of moisture multiply on his forehead.

�The longer that her labour extends, the higher her risk of primary postpartum haemorrhage. Primary PPH is mostly associated with prolonged second and third stages of labour and non-use of oxytocics. Oxytocin helps delivery and bonding�your presence here may be vital. Our bodies produce oxytocin under certain conditions. Colin�s massage undoubtedly helped. So will breastfeeding. Your touch will help her through this.�

�Hansssssss . . .� Tears are streaming down her face.

Antonia�s voice is firm and reassuring. �You can push, Renie. Here she comes.�

A tiny baby�s head . . . crowning.

Against the winds, she comes with fragile kiss
Fortune and future to unfold,
And lo . . . from tear drops, the angel.

- Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 01:20:14 PM (EST)


Methinks Mr. I really meant it when he said, "Sleep, Mary Anne. And dream of me" . . .

Thanks, Mary Anne, for the birthday wishes and card�except� I don�t know how to tell you this dearest . . . but . . . errrr . . . you switched birthday cards by mistake . . .

What will Professor Snape think? =8-0
*wicked grin*, - Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 01:14:52 PM (EST)

FoF set, personal cubicles corridor:

Mary Anne glances about her one last time. The coast is clear.

She darts into Renie�s cubicle, leaving the card in the desk chair, and hurries out again, grinning.

Now for the more difficult part of her mission.

Down the corridor---all the way to the end, a cubicle removed from all the others, in keeping with the somewhat anti-social nature of its inhabitant.

Again, a glance up and down the corridor. Then hardly daring to breathe, Mary Anne carefully slips the card under the closed door. Even she would not dare enter the cubicle of the formidable Professor Snape in his absence---if he is absent. She is not certain precisely what he might say---or do---if she violated his privacy, but she does not care to find out.

Mary Anne shakes her head as she turns from the door. The vibrant, good-humoured Renie, overflowing with joie de vivre, and the remote, morose, and mysterious Professor Snape . . .

There is no one to overhear her mutter, �Astrology, my big toe! To think those two have the same birthday . . . �

MA---have a very happy birthday, R dearest!
As for Snape, I'm not certain he can be happy, but leave it to my character to try anyway . . . , - Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 08:38:34 AM (EST)

Imperial Palace, medical wing:

Mary Anne, who has once more dropped into sleep as the medications have taken effect . . .

A large, airy room, hung with fringed, gold-bordered tapestries and Renaissance oil paintings, lampstands and candlesticks of previous metals, of crystals and jewels, achingly vivid.

The tapestries are stirring . . . but not in any breeze from the windows. Rather, the chamber is filled with the lurid glow of fire, and there appears a figure advancing . . .

A lord of terrible aspect, thinks Mary Anne, even as she rises from her couch to confront him---that couch draped all in white, flat and colourless before the advance of the one who now stands over her and speaks in a low, thunderous voice:

Ego dominus tuus.

�You�re not,� she retorts aloud, lifting her chin. Who is this, to call himself her lord? And what is there to frighten her so? The face she had thought so terrible is the face of a man: no threat to her of himself but carrying his threat with him, as he extends a hand and breathes, Vide cor tuum.

Mary Anne does not look. �It�s not mine,� as she shakes her head and looks away from the shadowy something in his hand.

And there is much to distract her, for the chamber is in motion with figures passing to and fro. By the door there is a black dog that barks invitingly to her, stepping over the sill and back in again, entreating with his eyes for her to follow---but that way is closed to her. In one corner, a woman leans over a cradle, and Mary Anne strains to hear the crying of the child that must surely be there, mustn�t it? But there is no sound. And in some remote recess where even the red glow of the eerie light cannot penetrate, there is a presence that raises the hairs on her neck and makes her knees tremble: an indistinct, shadowy form in search of her, feeling its way blindly, groping with hands twisted out of thin silver wire . . .

She must get out, and must face the being in front of her to do it.

Vide cor tuum.

Somehow, the object is in her hand.

The memory of voices.

HE was trying for her heart.

HE can�t have it.

Her heart? But the thing in her hand is a box of dull black, which opens smoothly at her touch.

Mary Anne swallows and looks up at the man before her, on the verge of murmuring Vide cor meum in acceptance, until she sees what is in the box.

Not her heart at all, but a small bird patterned in shades of gray and white and slate---wren? sparrow?---a creature with neither beauty nor distinction save that which is naturally granted to all birds in the curve of wings, the flow of feathers, the lightness of bone and muscle that once gave this creature flight. But aside from this, a very plain bird and one who has been cruelly used, for as she looks, Mary Anne can see no movement, no beating heart. She rests a thumb on the smooth chest feathers, waiting, but there is no pulse of life there, no breath from the half-open beak, no light in the small eyes rimmed with pale grey spectacle-markings.

Half-blinded by tears, Mary Anne slaps down the lid of the black box and thrusts it away from her. Not my heart, she protests. Not my heart, as she looks frantically about for escape.

The windows.

No fall could be so terrible as remaining in that room. She turns and leaps . . .

. . . and seems to land with a thud, opening her eyes to see Joanna McCoy bending over her on one side of her bed, with Brandon on the other, clutching her arm.

McCoy straightens, breathing a sigh of relief. �Well, about time!� she exclaims. �Your heart monitor was going crazy there for a few minutes. And so was your husband.�

MA--now to business, with my first "real" post of the new year . . .
And I hope Dante will forgive me. ;-), - Monday, January 08, 2007 at 09:43:58 PM (EST)

Godiva chocolates AND Veuve Cliquot? Mmmmm. My kind of party.

Would you care for a nibble, Christopher?

And perhaps some chocolate as well? ;-), - Wednesday, January 03, 2007 at 09:48:21 PM (EST)

Mink handcuffs? Ahhhhhh, my old darling . . . you do know how to appeal to my sense of nostalgia.

*lifting glass*

The Interrogator
Old acquaintance shall not be forgot . . ., - Wednesday, January 03, 2007 at 07:55:56 PM (EST)


*fills flutes all round*

Oooooppsssss. Careful, there! Nearly to the top!

Much joy, good cheer, and a good yarn for all this 2007.

And a special toast to the Empress, and her abiding generousity (and patience!)

From this lowly writer, forever in mink handcuffs . . .
Dearest, be sure not to miss the tray of Godiva's next to the Veuve Cliquot . . . , - Wednesday, January 03, 2007 at 02:31:22 PM (EST)

Happy New Year! Here's to the FoF adventures of 2007---and remember, we'll be coming up on the FoF 10th Anniversary in June. Let's make it a year to remember! 8-)

*POP of cork*

Renie, do you have any champagne flutes handy . . . ?, - Monday, January 01, 2007 at 11:16:30 AM (EST)

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