And The Towers Fell Down
By Thomas Mc

Note: Only a minor change has been made to this chapter. The new one is chapter 12, the one before this chapter.

Chapter 13 : The Epilog

In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks several new urban legends sprang up in relation to that event. The reporter Thomas Johnson wrote an article that he titled 'Legends Of The Fall'. He mentioned the tale of the people on the lost subway car 503 that had been dug out and rescued by a group of the homeless that were said to live in the steam and utility tunnels of New York. Some versions of that tale claimed that those homeless rescuers had been led by the Creature of Central Park. Another tale had a group of a dozen people trapped somewhere in the bowls of the towers and being rescued days later by the same group of homeless led by the Creature.

One of the great mysteries of the event was the collapsed cavity that was eventually found at the bottom of the ground zero rubble that showed definite signs of a short period of occupancy. That discovery gave new impetus to those particular urban legends.

~ x x x x x ~

Vincent looked around the great hall. It was just a little over three months since the World Trade Center disaster. They were celebrating survival as well as everything else. Every one rescued from the lower level garage was there except Malik. He had chosen to stay below out of shame over what his nephew had done and he had remained in his chamber, maintaining that he had nothing to celebrate. For Catherine and Vincent it had been a real treat watching all these new friends' reactions to the Winterfest opening ceremony. Father and Vincent had added two new lines about helping others when they were beset by those few that harbored evil intent. It had added a special poignant air to the ceremony. Beverly and Anna had been particularly moved to tears by it.

The way they all stared around wide eyed at the great hall in all its glory had been fun to watch as well. Phillip had brought his wife, Becky, and seventeen year old daughter, Christine, into the secret the first week after the rescue. Christine and Naomi had quickly become good friends and were currently sitting together at the far end of the central table discussing boys. Anna had sent her children to spend the night with her sister on the pretense that she wanted an evening alone with her husband. Only Curtis, her husband, had been introduced to the tunnels a month after the rescue. David's children were all grown and out on their own and knew nothing of the tunnels. He had told his wife, Nicole, but this was the first time she had seen the tunnels and Vincent for herself. Vincent had several times noticed her staring at him.

There had also been loss. At the main table were four empty chairs. Kipper and Derrick had both been working as apprentices in a brokerage that had been located above the impact area in the north tower. Bryan had been a rookie with the New York police department and had been inside the south tower when it collapsed. According to the police citation he had rescued twenty three people before he fell. Geoffrey was still in St. Vincent with burns over half of his body. He had been working as a paramedic with the first fire brigade to arrive on the scene that day and had been splashed by burning jet fuel while rescuing several people from the stricken area of the north tower. The ambulance carrying him had just departed for the hospital when the first tower collapsed. According to reports, he had been responsible for saving over fifty people before he was injured. After the opening ceremony Vincent had stood and said a few words for the fallen and injured followed by a moment of silence before the food was served.

Robert McCall had also come. He reported that Diane was fully recovered and doing fine. There had been some minimal memory loss but nothing serious. The problem she had come to him for help on had disappeared in the collapse of the towers. When Robert had encountered FBI agent James McClendon in the great chamber, the reaction of both of them had been almost comical. They had encountered each other a few times professionally, often as adversaries, or at least competitors over jurisdictional turf. Jenny had found her husband's reaction very amusing. Robert was amazed James had found a woman that would put up with him, much less one as beautiful as Jenny.

~ o ~

Later after the meal, Vincent noticed that Robert had shared several dances with Mary through out the night, and smiled. Mary had enjoyed all the attention.

Chris and Sharon were out on the dance floor where they made a beautiful couple. Chris, Sharon and their children were planning to stay overnight Below. Catherine had arranged for Chris and Sharon to have the chamber she thought of as the honeymoon suite for the next two nights while the children stayed in other guest chambers. Vincent had even gone over about an hour ago and fixed up the honeymoon chamber for them in his own inimitable way. They would be in for a very pleasant surprise when they saw it later tonight.

Danny and Karen were also dancing together though they were restricted to the slow dances by their healing injuries. They had added spice to the evening by announcing their engagement. Karen's Parents were also present. They had come all the way from California at Karen and Catherine's joint invitation.

Father and elder Jennifer were arm in arm over by the stage watching over the proceedings. The surprise on Sharon's face when she learned three months ago that Elder Jennifer was Vincent's biological mother had been most interesting. Her emotions when she had read the eight diary pages that had led them to his mother had been very profound.

On the other side of the hall Elliot and Victoria were thoroughly engrossed in each other. It had taken her five days to make her way back to New York after the attack. In many ways they reminded Vincent of Catherine and himself. Their son Brandon was, as usual, over with Jacob and the rest of the kids.

Naomi was chasing after Charles, to put him to bed, assuming she could catch him. He was pretty quick but she did have two rather attentive teenage boys and Christine willing to help her.

Peter had even brought some good news. There was a new allergy relief medication being tested and if it panned out then Joe and Sammy might just be able to attend next years Winterfest. Joe had never been to Winterfest because he refused to come without Sammy. Peter also related the speculation that had developed over who had been responsible for the buried subway car rescue. Robert reported that one of the other subway survivors swears he was freed from under two seats by the Creature of Central Park. It looked like that old urban legend was making a comeback.

Jacob, Jennifer, Linda and Larry were in a tight little knot over among the games. Those four had become so close that Linda and Larry had spent three weekends at the brownstone in the last three months. The link between Jacob and Linda showed no signs of disappearing. Sometimes Larry would get a little jealous of it but since he really liked Jacob he usually didn't mind. Also Larry had discovered that being born in the tunnels carried a special cachet all it's own. The only down side to the link was that Hide and Seek was not a practical game for them. Elliot's son Brandon and Nancy's two kids were also included in that group. When those seven ended up all together it was a fair bet that there was mischief in the wind.

Vincent looked down at Catherine enfolded in his arms and smiled. She was also watching the crowd and feeling happy. All in all things had turned out OK.

~ x x x x x ~

Catherine looked around the great hall. This was the twelfth Winterfest since the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. Most of the people they had rescued from the lower level garage that day were here. There were a few absences that made her momentarily sad. Ed had passed away of old age. Cullen had also passed away nearly five years ago and she missed his crusty slightly disreputable demeanor. Mary had also passed away the same year as Cullen and Catherine missed her gentle caring nature as well.

Poor Malik had been so traumatized by his nephews part in that attack that he had refused to return Above for over a year. Finally he had returned and began a one man campaign against the terrorist groups responsible. He had gone all around the country and eventually the world giving lectures about the dangers of such evil groups. Then three years ago he was kidnapped in Afghanistan and killed by those same fanatics. His death had done even more to galvanize the world against the fanatics than his speeches had and his book on the subject was one of the top sellers at Jenny's publishing company. Catherine still missed him and the many philosophical discussions she and Vincent had engaged in with him.

Geoffrey was also absent but that was only because he was in the middle of finals at medical school. Next month, after graduation, he was to begin his residency at St. Vincent Hospital.

But now was a time of celebration in more ways than one. Father was still alive and still at his customary place at the head of the table and Vincent's mother sat to his right. . Though he had just turned eighty and had recently become semi-retired, he was still active and now served as resident sage for the tunnel community. Elder Jennifer was the grand dame of Below, mother to all. A title she had inherited from Mary. Vincent was now head of the council and unofficial leader of the community. Rosa had gone to college and gotten her medical degree. She had taken over as the community doctor. Peter Alcott had retired but was still kicking and his daughter had taken over her father's position at St. Vincent Hospital. She and Beverly were the community's primary medical supply sources.

Across the table from Catherine sat Joe and Sammy. Her burns had healed up nicely and the scars were barely visible. This was the ninth Winterfest she had been able to attend since that new medicine had been released for use. She still could only come Below for special occasions but that was enough to make her content. Fortunately her daughter Elizabeth did not appear to have inherited her allergies.

Sharon was sitting next to Catherine and Vincent. The blank chair next to Sharon was reserved for her husband who was currently occupied elsewhere. The next chair was occupied by Beverly. She had spent the last eight years working for the New York Fire Department as a paramedic. Further down the table Charles and Elizabeth were busy looking moon eyed at each other. She was going to have to keep an eye on those two.

Naomi was seated with Jenny and James. She had just been promoted to the New York branch of the FBI Government Corruption Department. James was now top man in the New York FBI office and Jenny was still working for the same publishing company she always had. Now she was head of the editing department.

Diana and Dennis sat next to Naomi. They had just learned the week before that their son Paul had been accepted to Texas A&M on a football scholarship starting next fall. He had already made it through his first semester at the local community college with a 4.0 average and was aiming for a degree in Biochemistry. Everyone was wondering just how that one was going to work out.

The opening ceremonies were now complete but this time they didn't start bringing out the food right away. The tables had been arranged so that there was an aisle right down the center of the great hall. There was a small knot of people at the front near the great doors but everyone's attention was currently focused on the top of the stairs at the back of the hall. Linda slowly descended the stairs escorted by her father and preceded by Jacob's sister, Jennifer. Karen's parents were there performing the song they had written for Catherine's wedding. Linda was wearing Catherine's wedding dress (it had originally been made for Catherine's mother and it had become an accepted axiom that no marriage that began in that dress had ever failed) and her face was beaming with joy. Her father was also smiling so wide it looked like it might split his face in two. In the small group at the front Jacob had eyes only for Linda. Beside him stood Linda's brother, Larry. When Jacob and Linda had announced their intention to marry the general response had been 'We know that, we just wondered when it would happen'.

Catherine looked lovingly over at Vincent as her fingers tightened around his hand. Then she looked at her son standing at the front of the hall facing his destiny with joy sparkling in his eyes. Finally she gazed up at Linda whom she had come to love as much as her own children. Today would be the beginning of a whole new chapter in the lives of Catherine's very unique family.

The End

Author's notes: This story contains references to the following other stories – Naomi , Encounter , A New Life , Joe's Tale , A Mother's Diary .

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.