Leaning forward, Jaclyn smiled, the lit match she held in her hand illuminating her face. Behind her, the apartment she shared with Champ was in complete darkness as she touched the small flame to the wick of a candle, quickly igniting it. The new candle flame slowly grew, providing more light. Jaclyn pulled the match back and blew it out, a thin wisp of smoke rising from it's burnt tip. In the tiny light of the candle, the bedroom behind her was still very dim. But the candle helped a little.
A soft fluttering light on the hallway wall approached through the doorway behind her. Champ walked into the bedroom from the shadows beyond, cradling several flickering candles in his arms. He started to carefully place them all around the edge of the bedroom, filling it with a soft, gently light.
"There. Found more candles in the kitchen, Jaclyn..."
Her smiled glittered at him in the soft light. Taking him by surprise, Jaclyn playfully bounced over into Champ's arms.
She looked into his face with sudden yearning, bringing her face near. Her body was pressed tightly against his, her lips hovering closer to his mouth until he could feel her enticing breath, soft and warm.
"I love blackouts..." she moaned.
Champ smiled back as he held her, enjoying her so near, so warm and real in his arms. Jaclyn's face looked so beautiful in the soft candlelight. He pulled her closer against him as they both stood beside the bed.
"Really?" he whispered.
Jaclyn nodded, already kissing his neck. "Umm-hmm. Candles... Darkness... No distractions... Kinda romantic...." She started gently kissing his chin, before her lips moved delicately upwards.
Champ caressed her face tenderly as she kissed him. "You might not like it as much when it gets cold tonight."
She smiled. "Then you better keep me warm..."
Jaclyn fell back, pulling him down over her onto the bed beside them.
They both dropped out of sight, candles flickering dimly all across the bedroom. After a moment or two, the phone suddenly rang from the end table beside the bed.
Champ came back up into view, sitting on the bed and gasping for air, his mouth tingling. "Apparently the phone still works. So much for no distractions..."
Straightening her shirt, Jaclyn exhaled as she crawled out from under him and twisted her body around so she could stretch her arm towards the ringing phone. Picking it up, she pressed it to her ear. Behind her, Champ was undeterred, already back on more important things, leaning down over her as he kissed her neck.
As Champ's tongue tickled her skin, Jaclyn tried to keep her voice from wavering. "H-Hello?"
"Jaclyn? It's Claire."
"Claire? Hi... Oh god..."
"What did you say?" Claire sounded curious.
Jaclyn sat up, pushing Champ's face forcefully away. Her shove instantly slipped him too far off the edge of the bed, and he fell to the floor with a thud.
"What's wrong, Claire?" Jaclyn leaned forward.
Claire's voice came through the phone. "Did you lose power over there too?"
"Yeah... Outside our bedroom window, it looks like the whole city was hit. Where are you Claire? Are you okay?"
"Yes. We're fine. It's nothing serious. It's me and Trevor. We're stuck..."
Jaclyn blinked. "I always suspected Trevor was a little kinky, but I never--"
"--in an elevator, Jaclyn. We were, I mean we are, in the elevator outside Cuppa Java. The power went out and now we're stuck between floors. There's no one else in the building. Could you come get us?"
"OK--" Jaclyn's brow wrinkled with sudden anxiety. "Ok. Don't panic, Claire. Remember, deep cleansing breaths. And no panicking. Try not to think about being trapped in a tiny, tiny little suspended box that could drop at any moment. With Trevor... Stay calm, avoid any eye contact that could lead to confrontation and get rid of any blunt or sharp objects. I'll get over there right away. But you're ok otherwise?"
Claire sighed. "Yes... If you can call being stuck in a miniscule space with a man who's ego's big enough to consider himself the god of love and me not throttling him yet 'ok', then yes. We're fine. On second thought... you probably better hurry..."
Jaclyn smiled. "Ok. Be right there. Remember, around you not to you, calm center of light, cleansing breaths.."
Jaclyn hung up the phone, sitting on the edge of the bed. Champ sat down beside her, rubbing his sore hip from its abrupt impact on the floor.
"What's wrong?' he asked.
She looked at him. "Trevor and Claire are stuck in an elevator."
"Good for them..." Not really listening, he leaned onto her again, starting to kiss her neck.
Distracted for a moment, Jaclyn moaned at the sensation, enjoying it, before she forced herself out of it. "No Champ. We got to get over there right now..."
Now he was nibbling delicately on her ear, making her twitch. "They'll be alright for a few minutes.."
Pulling back, Jaclyn turned Champ's face towards hers between her hands, a little concerned. "Are you kidding? Claire. Trevor. Small box? Tinder meets flame..."
He shrugged. "What's the worst that could happen?"
Champ ignored her, already kissing Jaclyn's lips in soft taps. She couldn't help it, bending herself towards him in response, not able to stop herself.
He chuckled, tasting her lips warm against his. "Terrible for them. Really too bad... I'll miss them..."
"Champ, we have to go and... and..." Her words were a distracted whisper, moaning in a daze
as her hands began roaming across his strong back, losing herself.
"They can wait." He answered, still kissing her.
He didn't stop, now kissing expertly on the soft ivory white skin of her collarbone to convince her. "Five minutes... Tops..."
"Gee just what every woman wants to hear.."
As she panted, Jaclyn covered her mouth over his, biting his lower lip.
"Ok... Maybe twenty minutes..." he breathed in response.
Champ's hand slipped under her shirt, sliding up across her stomach.
"You're right," Jaclyn moaned, finally giving in as she threw her arms tightly around him. "I'll miss them too.."
Her lips locked forcefully onto his, kissing him greedily.
Panting through their kisses, Champ spoke around her hungry mouth. "We'll give them a nice eulogy..."
Now completely entangled in each other, they both fell down onto the bed again and out of sight, the candles still flickering behind them.
Another match flared into view in the darkness, its flame flickering brightly as it was held under the tip of a cigar. The cigar finally caught, leaving the tip glowing red. Leaning back in his chair, the head of the review board inhaled the smoke deeply. He looked across his desk to Frechette, who was standing, looking out the window of the darkened study, his cigar already lit.
The two men were both comfortably into the discussion at hand, despite the blackout. Behind them, a single, thin candle glowed on a bookcase shelf. But it gave off little light, leaving the room ominously dark. The two men were on the outer edge of it's glow, mere shadows as they continued their plans.
Frechette finally turned away from the window, pulling his cigar down from his mouth. There was a thin, confident smile on his face as he stood in the deep shadows, his voice full of sly intent when he finally spoke to the head of the review board.
"So... Alternative pharamaceutical treatment possibilities for Mr. Hale. Where were we?"
Claire groaned in frustration as she sat on the floor of the elevator. "This is all your fault, Trevor."
He blinked. "Don't get all pissy at the world because you're stuck in here. And repressing some marginal claustrophobia apparently."
She glared over at him. "I'm not pissy at the world, Trevor. I'm pissy at you."
"YOU. You're the reason I'm stuck in here."
Trevor held up his hands. "Hey, no reason to hold a grudge against me, Claire. I'm grudgeless here. I didn't know this was going to happen--"
"Yeah, ironic considering your all knowing life style choice..." she snapped back. "Besides. I won't be holding a grudge, Trevor. I fully intend to forgive your corpse."
"What did I do?"
"If you weren't so stubborn and had listened to me in the first place, we wouldn't be stuck in here..."
Lowered his voice, he mutterred to himself. "Enjoying your company too, Claire..."
Claire looked up towards the ceiling at the dim emergency light, wondering how long its batteries would last. The walls seemed so much closer now. She didn't remember the elevator seeming so small when they had first came in. Could the walls be shrinking? Nervously, she started drumming her fingers on her knees, growing more and more anxious by the moment.
"I hate waiting..." she sighed. "Come on, Jaclyn, where are you?"
Jaclyn's laugh was soft in her bedroom, the sound coming from underneath the moving surface of the bed's sheets where Champ and Jaclyn's squirmed and writhed out of view. The large undulating mass shifted slightly, Jaclyn still giggling as it moved across the bed. Then it went too far, and the mass fell off the side of the bed and out of view, sheet and all. Jaclyn cried out, but not from the fall. The remaining mattress covers instantly yanked off the mattress and fell on top of them. From the sound of their moans, Jaclyn and Champ hadn't even noticed where they were now, not stopping.
Trevor and Claire were sitting across from each other on the floor of the small elevator, their backs against opposite walls as they faced each other. Claire looked annoyed, not wanting to answer Trevor's question, and definitely not wanting to be there. Trevor looked at her expectantly, still waiting, before giving in.
"Ok, guess I'll have to answer that one two," he said. "Let me think. Best job in the world. I'd have to say... Jennifer Aniston's wife."
She gave him a dry look. "You're a guy, Trevor."
"No, I meant to watch..."
Claire sighed. "And to think you claim to inspire sonnets..."
"Hey... That particular little image might inspire me to scribble a little x-rated something down..."
"Jennifer Aniston..." Claire thought about her, before looking back up, deciding to ask him something. "She's cute, Trevor. So. Between her or me. Which do you prefer?"
He gazed at her affectionately. "She may have more flash... but you have more light."
Claire chuckled. "Still not quite on a Shakespeare level, is it?"
He shrugged, eyeing her . "Not everything has to be. But hey. Don't sell yourself short. In the rhyme of life, you're definitely still the couplet..."
"Leave it to you to turn poetry into a sexual innuendo. Believe it or not, Trevor, not everything is about sex..."
Champ leaned back, totally exhausted as he lay on the floor beside Jaclyn, panting heavily. The blanket was pulled up around both of them, covering them as Jaclyn breathed quickly against his sweaty chest, resting her head in contentment as she tried to catch her breath too. Around them, the room still danced with the flickering light of dozens of candles. As their breathing finally slowed back to normal, they lay there, rested in each other's arms, reveling in that blissful release. Jaclyn smiled, still resting her cheek on his chest.
As Champ lay there looking up at the ceiling, he couldn't help it. He looked concerned as his mind worked, trying to think of something.
Jaclyn hummed pleasurably. Looking up, she noticed his concerned expression.
"Champ... What is it?"
Absently, he ran his fingers through her wet hair, his mind still thinking. "I just got this feeling... this sense that we forgot something..."
She smiled wickedly, turning her head as she gently began to kiss his chest. "Oh... I think we covered all the memorable alignments..."
"No, not that. Wasn't there something we were supposed to do?"
"Umm..." Jaclyn paused as she stroked his chest with her fingers. Her brow furrowed, searching her memory. They slowly looked up at the candles around them, wondering why they were there, unexplained in the dark.
Suddenly they both turned to each other, their eyes growing wide.
"Trevor and Claire..."Champ said in distress.
"In the elevator..." Jaclyn answered, just as shocked at what they had done.
They both scrambled quickly off the bedroom floor, grabbing for their clothes, having completely lost track of time. Jaclyn dashed over to the dresser. Champ fought to keep his balance as he forced his pants on in a rush.
He picked up his wrist watch from the end table as he buttoned up. "Oh god... It's been forty minutes... They're gonna kill us!"
"Or each other..." Jaclyn ran by, no longer listening to him as she frantically pulled a shirt on over her head, twisting futilely. "I'll get our coats..."
"I'll get the car..." Champ ran out of the bedroom.
Still seated on the floor
across from an unintrested Claire, Trevor was chattering away to pass the time.
"Still not the
wildest party I've been to. See there was this one time in Cairo when I
found this small underground dance club that the Pharaoh didn't know
about--" With a smile on his face, Trevor paused, engrossd in the memory of his own
story, not bothering to look up to see that Claire was not. She watched
him skeptically, not believing a word of what he was saying.
Abruptly she interrupted him.
"You were in Cairo,
"Yeah. Lots of times. It's
been awhile though... Anyway, it was wet t-shirt night on
the Nile. Those ancient egyptians really had some ravenous appetities. Including the Pharaohs. Huge orgies that went on for days. Intresting fact,
did you know that the Ancient Egyptians believed people actually thought
from inside their hearts?"
Claire smirked slightly,
smiling as she leaned her head back against the elevator wall. "They
must have loved you, Trevor..."
"Actually, they didn't. At
least Cleopatra didn't. I caused her a world of trouble, but that's a
different story. Lots of people aren't happy to see me sometimes.
You'd be surprised at how unpopular I can be."
"I wouldn't be that
He went on, ignoring her tone.
"Anyway, back to my history lesson. Wildest party. Like I was saying there was this dance club
behind a little egyptian building where the crowd would oil you up and--"
Suddenly he was interrupted as
Claire's cell phone rang. Already waiting impatiently with it in her hand,
Claire gratefully jerked it up to her ear.
"Jaclyn, where the hell are you," she
Jaclyn was sitting beside
They were inside his car as it raced down the darkened city streets of Chicago towards the
building where Trevor and Claire were trapped. She looked nervously over
at Champ driving as she tried to answer Claire's question. "I'm... sorry,
Claire. We were a little... delayed."
In the elevator, Claire
blinked. "Delayed? Delayed by what?"
Jaclyn paused, searching
for a reasonable answer. She looked up at the absolutely empty stretch of
road before her, not a car in sight. "Umm... traffic."
"Is it bad?" Claire's voice
came through the phone, sounding a little concerned.
Crossing her fingers, Jaclyn
hoped her voice didn't give her away. "Yeah. Total madhouse out
Claire sighed, looking over at
Trevor sitting across from her on the elevator floor. "Ok... Just come
get us as soon as you can. I think I'm about to suffer an overdose
of Trevorality. His charms have turned flimsier than a Jennifer Lopez
Jaclyn nodded, holding onto the
dashboard as Champ raced around an empty corner, over compensating for why the two of them were late. She tried to keep her head from spinning as the car wheeled around . "Just hold tight,
Claire. We're on our way..."
Lowering her voice in the elevator, she snuck
a glance at Trevor, who wasn't paying attention to her. "Hurry...
Please..." she whispered
"Right. Bye, Claire." Jaclyn
hung up the cell phone and grabbed on as Champ squealed around another
corner, tying to keep her balance in the passenger seat.
Concentrating on the road, he tried not to smile. "Where have I heard that before?"
Strange lights started flashing into
his eyes. It took a second until he realized they were reflecting off the
rear view mirror into their faces. The back windshield glowed brightly
with pulsing colors and they heard the brief wail of a siren as the
lights grew closer.
Looking into the rearview
mirror, Champ growled in frustration.
Jaclyn looked back, worried.
"What's going on?"
They both looked into each
"Another delay..." Champ
Claire looked at her watch,
before finally answering Trevor in a somber tone. "For the last time, I don't want to
argue about this. I've told you why it didn't work out and I'm tired of talking in
circles with you. Trevor, we're stuck in a small place, in an empty
building... Can't we just drop it?"
"You can't just drop how your
heart feels about something, Claire. Neither can I. Too bad the high and mighty
Dr. Allen doesn't see it. Do you ever get saddle burn sitting on that
high horse of yours or did it finally just callous over?"
"Trevor... We'll just never
agree on this..." she said seriously.
She groaned. "Because it was a
stupid movie! The plot was terrible, the dialogue totally ridiculous,
and that group dance scene at the end. That was just... bad. No matter
how much you argue, you'll never convince me otherwise."
"Yeah, but Rachel Leigh Cook
She sighed. "Trevor, please.
It's late. I'm tired. Could we please just stop fighting for once and
agree to disagree?"
He smiled. "Sure... I'm
game for a truce."
They were both silent for
several long moments of peaceful silence. But Trevor couldn't leave it at
that. "So are we to the part yet where we touch, we cuddle... and you
beat my sword into a plowshare?"
Claire groaned, looking down at her
watch again. "Why don't suspension cables ever break when you want them
Champ and Jaclyn were standing sheepishly beside his car. There was a police officer in front of them, issuing a ticket. They both looked eager to get going, restless as he wrote out the ticket. The officer looked up and noticed, staring at them for a long moment, before going back to what he was doing. He intentionally took his time to spite them. Champ and Jaclyn groaned when he starte writing slower. The lights atop the police car sweept brightly through the dark air of the blackout.
Sitting in the elevator, Trevor leaned his head back on the wall, suddenly introspective. "It's strange. Now that I have all my memory back, I remember all sorts of things..."
His gaze lifted over to her, genuine feeling in his eyes. When he spoke, his words were soft and heart felt. "Believe it or not, even lacking a specific context because of my memory loss, as soon as I saw you, I remembered kissing you..."
Claire's face softened, a little suprised. "Really?"
thinking about the memory. "Yeah... I didn't know who you were of course. Didn't know who I was. But the first time I saw you, I knew. That I always remembered. I still do... Outside your office, leaning you back in my arms..." Trevor exhaled softly, simply taking in how beautiful she looked in that light. "And I remember the moment..."
Curious at his tenderness, Claire tilted her head, her voice soft. "What moment, Trevor?"
There was almost a sadness in Trevor's eyes, as if hurt by the memory of what he had lost. "You ever have that moment..? Right after the best moment of your life. When all you want, is to get it back..."
A silence stretched between them as they considered his words. Seated on the floor of the elevator across from each other, backs to the wall, they were strangely alone in the other's company, as if they were holding back. But at the same time they both felt so close to each other, aware of how much each meant to the other. They were able to feel it between them, hovering, touching, connecting them, as if there was no space between them at all. They felt a palpable sense of being there together, caught alone inside that intimately confined space, just the two of them.
Their eyes locked on each other and suddenly it was as if the rest of the world didn't exist and didn't matter. It was down to the two of them there, no walls, no pretenses, nothing between them except what they both knew. Looking into each other's eyes, they could feel that awareness without saying a word, see it in the other's sad gaze. It was a chasm of bittersweet longing that they both felt, lingering deep inside them, tingling with what they both wanted but couldn't have.
Claire's voice became softer for once as she opened up, not holding back. She spoke gently, a sadness and honesty in her tone. "Trevor... You know we'll never work. There's no way we would work together. Think about all the things over the past years that have gotten in our way. Something is always stopping us. Over and over again. Like the stars, or maybe fate... is trying to tell us something."
Sighing, Trevor didn't argue for once, lowering his eyes. "Something like what..."
Claire's eyes were tender, brimming with tears from the knowledge of the love they both felt but couldn't surrender themselves to. "Like maybe... we're just not meant to be."
His gaze was steady on hers, sitting across from her on the floor of the elevator. "Claire, there are lots of 'meant to be's out there that never are... Because people won't let them..."
She sighed, her voice a sad whisper. "Then... they weren't really meant to be."
He watched her. "Or maybe that's what what people tell themselves to sleep at night... Claire I think we're great together. You fix minds, I fix hearts... We make a great pair."
She couldn't look at him. "What we want, or what we think, isn't enough, Trevor. We live in different worlds, you and I. We're not even compatible..."
"Why? Because you're a therapist and I'm accused of delusions? That's perfectly compatible, Claire. We fill in the parts the other one needs. I needed you. To show me what love really is, what it's really about. For the last 5000 years I was just an idiot with a bow until I fell in love with you. Until I loved you. I am in love with you, Claire. Down to the last part of me. Not because of some game. Not some scorecard string of beads, or notches in a back column of the Parthenon. But because of how I feel about you. Something I never felt before you. And you need me too, Claire. You've needed me since the day we met. To tell you the stuff you refuse to tell yourself. The stuff you already believe... I'm the pretense that lets you follow your heart. Just like you... let me find mine..."
"There's more keeping us apart..."
"Like what, Claire? You trying to protect me? Is that it? Sacrificing what we both want so you can protect me? Funny, because when I left I wasn't trying to forget you, I was trying to protect you too. From what they would do to you, to your job and your life if they found out you had fallen in love with one of your delusional patients. I know that's all most people will ever see when they look at me. But you know what? I was wrong. Wrong to leave, wrong to doubt, and wrong to throw us away. There I was, trying to save you, and there you were trying to save me. But we were both wrong. Maybe in the end, we just have to save each other."
"It's still more than that..." she said desperately.
"What?" He moaned in frustration. "What then?"
She seemed reluctant, looking away. "It's not about them, Trevor. It's about us. Not about protecting us from them, but protecting us from ourselves. The parts of you that I love are the parts that everyone else holds against you. And it wouldn't matter to me. If we're together, you'll never get better. Never give up on being Cupid. And I wouldn't want you to. So as long as you love me, you'll never change. Or for as long as I love you... The truth is you're no good for me and I'm no good for you. The cost is too high, the risk is too great for both of us."
He lowered his head. "Because you think I'm crazy..."
"No..." she looked at him fondly. "I don't think you're crazy. I see you. I know you. Cupid or not... It's the rest of the world that doesn't seem to fit..."
"So what, we try to protect us from us? We can't do that. No one can." He laughed softly to himself. "Claire, If I ever gave up on you, then I would be crazy..."
There was an amusement in her eyes. "Well maybe you should beat the rush before I join you. How can I love you, Trevor? How can I let myself love you. Every rational, objective part of myself tells me it's a mistake. A mistake to love a delusional man who thinks he's Cupid. But over and over and over... I keep coming back to that mistake. So what fixes this? What possible argument can you make to counter... myself?"
Trevor smiled at her question, a knowing glint in his eyes. He answered confidently, as if quoting. "...'Sometimes people change their patterns. Sometimes they live their lives in a way... that they think is best for them. Until something, or someone, makes them want to change'..."
Claire smiled, surprised he knew she had said those words. "I told you about that?"
Pleased, Trevor shrugged. "Sure.. Took a few drinks in you. That's good advice you gave to Heather...." He gazed at her with affection. "Maybe you should take it."
Claire nodded to herself, reconsidering. She looked back up at him for several moments, beginning to smile. "Maybe I should..."
They shared a long glance, smiling at each other, neither looking away. Genuine warmth passed across their faces, uncovered and open. The moment stretched between them, silent and content. Suddenly Claire's cell phone rang. She slowly picked it up, her tender gaze not leaving Trevor's.
Jaclyn was standing outside Cuppa Java with her cell phone to her ear. Behind her, Champ was lighting the darkness with the beam of light from the flashlight in his hand that he usually kept in his car. He was shining it on the small piece of paper he was reading as he walked behind her.
"265 dollars for a traffic ticket?" Not paying attention, Champ bumped into Jaclyn when she stopped, still in shock at the fine.
Jaclyn ignored him. She looked at the sealed elevator doors in the dim glow of the flashlight. She spoke into her cell phone again.
"Claire, it's us. Champ and I are here outside Cuppa Java. Everything's still blacked out all across Chicago." She looked upwards towards the ceiling, her voice concerned. "Do you know what floor you're stuck on?"
Claire's voice answered through the small cell phone speaker. "No. Somewhere near the top I think..."
"Umm..." Jaclyn turned in place, at a loss. "Champ, what do we do?"
He paused, thinking for a moment. "Let's go into Cuppa Java and see if we can find the number of the building super somewhere."
Jaclyn turned her attention back to her cell phone. "Ok, Claire. We're going to try to find a number down here. Maybe someone can help get you out. Just sit tight..."
Inside the elevator, Claire smiled as she looked over at Trevor. "Thank's Jaclyn. Whenever you can... There's no rush."
Standing in the hallway, Jaclyn blinked at the change in Claire's tone, caught off gaurd. "Ohh.... yeah, ok. Guess I'll.... I'll call you back, Claire... Bye."
She hung up the phone.
Champ noticed Jaclyn's reaction. "What is it?"
Jaclyn seemed distracted. "Umm... nothing. Come on."
Jaclyn and Champ moved off into the darkened interior of Cuppa Java, the beam of the flashlight sweeping before them. Behind, the doors of the elevator grew dark again.
Minute after minute passed.Trevor and Claire remained stuck in the elevator, the unseen city of Chicago covered in darkness all around them. But sitting in that small space together, neither of them seemed to notice, their arguments long gone. The harsh words and hurt feelings were forgotten as they talked, a long revealing talk, just enjoying the other's company. Both had completely lost track of time as they opened up to each other.
An honesty was evident in the fragile edge to Claire's soft words as she told her story. Trevor listened intently, now sitting next to her along the wall as she spoke.
"Must have been hard," he said sympathetically.
She nodded, looking straight ahead, lost in her memories. "It was hard. It was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. Getting used to the fact that my mother and father, two people I had counted on my whole life like this pillar, this solid center of my whole world, didn't love each other anymore. I mean, sure. We all had felt it and didn't talk about it. Pretended to ignore it. Me, Mara, Beth... But in the end to finally be confronted by what we knew, having to face it, hear the words... I can still see the looks on both my parent's faces. It almost tore our family apart. It was toughest on Beth, she was the youngest. Mara and I helped her get through it as best we could. We had to rely on each other. Our own support system. We got each other through it. For awhile we were very close. Strange how me and Mara later grew apart... A defense, I guess. But in a way, you helped us back together at our class reunion. Which is funny, because when I first met you, I thought that--... Well, never mind what I thought."
Sitting beside her, Trevor leaned closer, curious. "Come on. Say it, Claire. Don't hold back. What were you going to say?"
Her mouth wrinkled into a smile, a little embarrassed as she looked over at his face beside hers. "It's silly really. I mean they called me to the hospital, and there you were. This delusional man, sitting on a hospital bed. Hitting on all the nurses. Claiming to be the god of love. Seemed like you fell into my lap by pure, blind luck. And for awhile, I thought..."
Claire's face grew sad. "For the longest time... after my mom and dad divorced... I don't think I even believed in true love anymore. Not really. I mean, I thought people could be happy together. But not true love. But ever since I've known you, seen what you were trying to do, I wondered if... maybe that's why you came into my life. To remind me..."
He smiled at her. "You've always believed in true love, Claire. I recognize that glint in your eye, when you get it to work between two people. And it's not pride at some clinical success. It's because deep down you believe. You didn't need me to remind you of it. Just yourself..."
For a long moment, she held her gaze on his, feeling the conviction he felt about what he was saying.
Looking down, Claire laughed softly.
Several floors below them, Champ and Jaclyn were in Cuppa Java, still searching frantically, looking for something, anything at all that would point to who they should call.
They both opened drawers and looked through stacks of papers and reciepts from the coffee bar. But as they searched, they found nothing. The floor around them was starting to fill with dropped peices of paper as both continued to frantically search in the beam of Champ's flashlight.
Trevor's back was against the wall, sitting beside Claire as he spoke. They both stared straight ahead. "They were both stubborn. Just couldn't see it, I guess. The fights were bad... When they fought, continents disappeared. So they never got together again. My parents never realized that you can't let fear get in the way of love. And that in the end, you have to tell yourself, it's worth the risk..."
They were both staring straight ahead, side by side when Claire spoke.
"You're right, Trevor..."
That suprised him coming from her, and he laughed. "Don't think I've ever heard that exact sequence of words pass you're lips before..."
"Now that makes twice in one night, Trevor..."
He chuckled. "Must set some kind of record."
Claire smiled at him. "Guess that's what you pass off as wisdom."
Pleased, he leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. "Hey. Lots of people come to me for my knowledge and insight, you know."
"I know." Claire nodded. "I really should talk to the orderlies about locking those doors on the ward a little tighter."
"From the mouths of babes..." He looked at her appreciatively. "Did I mention how great that sweater looks on you? I'd love to nibble off that fashion plate..."
She looked at her watch. "Fourteen minutes... twenty three seconds between innuendoes that time, Trevor. Not bad. Another record."
"Damn. Was hoping for twenty."
"Night's still young..." Claire smiled. "With all of your claimed godly omniscience.... It's not like you know the secret of life."
"Course I do..."
She turned her head to him sitting beside her, skeptical. "Right. I believe you, Trevor."
He blinked at her reaction, confused. "Doesn't everyone?"
Claire shook her head, smiling at his audacity. "Ok. I'll play along. Tell me. What's the secret of life."
He gazed at her, adoration in his eyes, watching her like she was his whole world, his whole reason to exist. Claire paused when she noticed that, a warmth passing through her at the love in his gaze.When Trevor spoke, his words were soft and sure, his eyes not leaving hers.
"It's no big secret. Simple really... Secret of life? Find what you love..."
Claire flushed at him so close, the warmth in his words filling her as his shoulder rested against hers. When he said it, it all seemed so simple, so clear to her. For once, she let herself imagine a new 'what if' in a big universe. She watched him, thinking, hoping, so many unheard of possibilities working through her head.
Her voice was certain, her words soft. "Trevor, if I have to choose between the risk or the fear, in the end... I choose you..."
He paused. "What does that mean?"
Claire understood. She had been such a fool, a fool the whole time for not seeing it, for being to scared to see. But it wasn't too late. She still had a chance to fix it. The chance she had always wanted but had backed away from. In that moment, it was her decision alone, her final choice. No one else could do what she already knew.
She knew what she had to do.
Claire rose up, moving eagerly over in front of him. Trevor blinked in surprise, pulling back slightly as he wondered what she was doing. Claire didn't stop, drawing her face closer to his. Trevor's breath caught, wondering what was going on.
She looked into his eyes, but there was no fear in her, no doubt in her gaze. Trevor did nothing, waiting to see what she would do. Her lips parted, yearning for his. Trevor's hand came up, tenderly caressing her cheek, suprising her when she noticed something.
"Trevor... You're trembling..."
"Yeah. Guess I am.. But that's good..."
Claire smiled. Then out of nowhere she forcefully shoved his shoulders back against the elevator wall, leaning him down underneath her as she hovered over him. The air seemed to spark and tingle around them, holding them up. Warmth flashedthrough their bodies as Claire paused, confident and sure, making him wait. Then she couldn't fight it any longer.
"Trevor... I can't hide what we feel anymore. And I'm not taking no for an answer..."
Her lips dropped towards his warm waiting mouth, the sudden rush of her beating heart cresting louder in her ears like a roaring wave, until--
THe music started.
Jaclyn and Champ were still searching inside Cuppa Java by flashlight when suddenly the bar lights flooded back to life, illuminating the interior. Every light in the coffee bar turned on for some reason. Turning slowly, they both looked out the window in sheer wonder as the power started blinking back all across the city, spreading outwards into the distance from where they were as buildings started to glitter with power again. Not a single light in the city remained turned off, all of them inexplicably glowing brightly. An upbeat song began to play, happy and swing like, an old big band standard. A woman's voice began to sing.
I never cared much for moonlit skies,
I never winked back at fireflies,
The darkened city of Chicago started to sparkle again. The lights started coming back on, spreading outward across the darkened ground far below. One by one, squares of city blocks winked back to life as the music continued to play, the lights happy and bright. Without explanation, the re-lighting was spreading out from the building where Cuppa Java was, washing outward in a ring like a wave, leaving gliterring city windows behind. More and more street lights and buildings sparkling anew, dazzling in the night.
But now that the stars are in your eyes,
I'm beginning to see the light.
The head of the review board shook his head. He was still in his darkened study as Frechette paced before him in frustration. "The rest of the board will never agree, Ian. Trevor Hale has just not posed a serious enough threat yet. And as long as Dr. Allen's his therapist, the board will never go for that."
"Well, then we--"
Frechette was interrupted as suddenly the power returned, the desk lamp flashing brightly to life, catching them by surprise. Frechette walked over to the window, watching the wave of returning lights moving off into the distance.
As the stood together in Cuppa Java, Jaclyn and Champ stared in amazement out the large window, watching the city sparkle with light again. It took a few moments for them to realize that there was a sound coming from the hallway outside.
The elevator was coming down.
I never went in for afterglow,
Or candlelight on the mistletoe,
The hum of the descending elevator had started the moment the power had returned to the building. Both Champ and Jaclyn dashed out into the hallway, waiting anxiously in front of the elevator doors for the lift to reach their floor, the original destination Claire had pushed.
Champ exhaled, sounding nervous as he watched the lit numbers above counting down, the elevator slowly dropping floor by floor. "They've been stuck in there for hours. Hope they haven't killed each other."
Giving him a look, Jaclyn didn't seem very optimistic either. They turned towards the metal doors before them, waiting. There was a chime when the cab arrived.
Smoothly, the elevator doors seperated, sliding open. Jaclyn and Champ both blinked at what they saw inside.
But now when you turn the lamp down low,
I'm beginning to see the light.
Oblivious to the fact that they were being watched, Trevor and Claire were seated on the floor in the middle of the elevator. Trevor had Claire twisted around over his lap, their bodies plastered against each other as they kissed deeply, passionately, all their inhibitions finally gone. Their arms held each other tenderly, caressing each other, oblivious to anything else.
They didn't know the power had been restored. They didn't know the elevator had moved at all. Or that Champ and Jaclyn were standing there, gaping at them in complete surprise from the hallway. All they knew was that the had been trapped, now they were free. As they kissed, Trevor and Claire were completely lost in each other. And for once, they didn't care about the repurcussions of what could happen. In that moment, the the only thing that matterred was that they loved each other. It was the only thing that had ever mattered.
Used to ramble through the park,
Shadow boxing in the dark
Frechette nodded, reluctantly accepting the points head of the review board offered. "You're right. It's not enough yet to convince the rest of the board. We'll just have to wait. Watch them both, Dr. Allen and her patient. One of them will slip, make some mistake we can use, and we'll have them..."
A television came on in a hospital waiting room as the power came back on. It was tuned to a cable news channel. Cameras and bulbs were flashing on the screen as they interviewed someone on the steps of a building. A despondant looking older man was surrounded by reporters, giving a statement from earlier in the day.
He looked tearfully into the cameras, a caption on the screen beneath him reading New York Doctor-Patient Sex Scandal Resolves. The man went on, telling reporters that he was resigning, his liscence revoked, giving up his practice because of what he had done and the scandal it had caused. The tv droned on over the empty hospital waiting room.
Jaclyn stood in the hallway watching Trevor and Claire kissing in the elevator. She smiled, joy replacing the surprise in her eyes. Standing beside her, Champ was still amazed, having expecting them to be pulling pieces of each other's sculls from their hair. Instead he gaped, faced with this, not expecting it in the least.
"What happened?" he asked Jaclyn.
Her eyes twinkled with happiness. "I think she finally found him..."
Without Trevor and Claire noticing, the waiting elevator doors finally closed on them still kissing deeply, shutting them out of sight.
Outside, a row of traffic lights over an empty street winked on again, stretching off into the distance, glowing a long line of red. Suddenly the nearest one turned green, a millisecond before the one beyond it and so on, all switching in a blink of an eye, rippling green into the distance like a wave. Beneath them, the road was a clear path, unobstructed as the green lights pointed the way forward. The nearest traffic light sparked slightly for no particular reason.
Then you came and caused a spark
There's a four alarm fire now...
Frechette nodded, happy a course of action had finally been resolved on, still in the study. They would bide their time, wait for a mistake. Seated on either side of the desk, the two men lifted glasses of amber liquid in a toast of silent agreement.
Inside the elevator, Trevor and Claire were still kissing. Finally he pulled off her lips, looking into her eyes. They leaned their heads together, both caressing the other's face, out of breath and overwhelmed.
"Are you okay, Trevor?"
"Yeah... Never been in love before. You're my first...."
"I'll be gentle..." she teased.
She looked at him. "You know we'll have to keep this secret..."
"I can to that. You know me. King of low key..."
She laughed, not buying that for a second.
"Claire... Tell me one thing first."
Panting, Claire looked lovingly into his eyes. "What's that..."
"I know I'm Cupid..." Trevor grazed his finger tips gently across her lips, loving and tender. "Tell me you believe..."
Claire smiled, then she slowly began to kiss him, again and again and again, even as her voice spoke in a joyful whisper. "I believe..."
Swimming in her kisses, Trevor laughed playfully, holding her face. "Liar..."
I never made love by lantern shine
I never saw rainbows in my wine
They began to kiss in earnest again, their arms wrapping around each other, not wanting to be anywhere else in that moment, wanting to hold on to it, hold on to it's warmth, keep it close to light up the cold night. After what had been far too long for both of them, they both suddenly felt alive again, swimming in their love for each other, rising in it, their hearts beating close together.
but now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light...
Outside, above the newly relit lights of Chicago, stars glittered far above, shining out of a serenic night, turning slowly. For once they didn't seem dimmed at all by the glow of the city lights, almost appearing content as they winked gently down.
Then something flutterred into view. It was a single white feather, swerving and swooping upward, caught in some gently rising updraft, rising higher and higher. It grew smaller, disappearing into the night air beyond until it was gone as the stars still glitterred. The music that had been playing faded. And everything restfully... faded to black.
to be continued in
Part 7 of 5