March 21, 2010: So, here we are at Part the Fourth and the end of this fic. I hope you've enjoyed it. I know I have. ^_^ And please do remember, comments and reviews are love. ^_^

Disclaimer: Neither the musical nor the boys belong to me, if they did they'd be groping each other on sta--. *pause* *blinkblink* Huh. Look at that... they do. *eg* :D ((*coughs* For the record, because I never actually stated it in the disclaimer before, I'll state now that I do know that "Hair" was written in 1967 by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and with music by Galt MacDermot. Thank you very much...))

Warnings: Still slash. ^_^ And apparently, when you hold off the angst bunnies too long... they explode all over your computer. And they get on *every*thing. :-P Ugh. And for this part in particular... we're back in angstville again. *sheepish grin* Sorry? But... it ends kinda happy and sappy, so that makes it OK, right?

Let the Sun Shine In -- Part 4
by Renee-chan

Once Berger and Claude were dressed -- again -- they filed out the door and down to the park. Berger was right, it was smaller... but at the same time, it had the same feel as the larger parks used to have and no longer did. It was close, warm... it felt like home. They found a comfortable clearing and sprawled out in the grass. Berger spread himself out on his back, head comfortably pillowed in Claude's lap. Hud sat down against a tree to their right with Dionne tucked against his side. Woof selected a spot on their left and laid down on his side with one long arm draped over Berger's legs and his back braced against Jeanie who was sitting behind him Indian-style. Crissy eyed the group for a moment then toed off her shoes and slouched down against Woof's legs. She stretched her feet in Hud and Dionne's direction to complete the circle.

Once they'd settled, a sense of peace seemed to wash over the group. It wasn't the same -- of course it wasn't -- but it was the closest any of them had gotten to the simple joy of their youth since they had been young. It was Claude who eventually broke the silence. Throwing a dandelion at Woof to catch the other man's attention, he asked, "So... how much hell did you catch from Kelly on the way home?"

Woof snorted, "Jesus, Claude... She's too bright for her own good, you know? I don't envy you having her in two of your classes."

Claude groaned, "Don't remind me." With a heavy sigh, he shook his head, "She's gonna be a royal pain in my ass from now on, isn't she?"

Woof laughed, "Welcome to the club, Claudio. At least she means well." Face taking on a serious cast as he brushed his hand up and down Berger's calf, he added, "And she can keep her mouth shut, too. Whatever she finds out about you outside of school, she'll keep outside of school." At Claude's naked look of relief, he smiled. He then turned to look up at Jeanie, "Besides, I think she'd do just about anything for the lot of us just for arranging an introduction to Claude Ryan and Zack Wellington." Raising his voice into a girlish titter, he finished, "Because they are just the hottest guys in school! Zack is the star quarterback and Claude is in all the high school shows! And they're seniors! And they were both paying attention to me!"

At Woof's accurate impression of his daughter's voice, the group broke up into laughter. Jeanie smacked him on the arm, a mock serious expression on her face, "Oh yeah? Just wait until she finds out that neither of them is available!"

When Woof blinked in confusion, Claude threw another dandelion at him. After the other man turned back to face him, he explained, "They've been dating each other for over a year, now, Woof."

Letting out a small laugh of his own, Woof said, "Oh. Yeah... I don't think I'll share that with her. They'll be graduating in a few weeks anyway and she'll move on to her next crush once they do. Let her keep her illusions in the meantime."

They filled the next hour with happy chatter, catching Woof up on everything he'd missed and catching up on everything in his life that they'd missed. When the conversation tapered off into another natural lull, Jeanie started to fidget. Pressed against her legs as he was, Woof couldn't miss it. Rolling his head over, he asked, "What is it, Jeanie?"

Jeanie let out an embarrassed little laugh, "Oh, man... I don't know where to start this story, actually."

Dionne smiled from where she was now stretched out in front of her husband, leaning back against his chest with his arms wrapped around her, "The beginning is usually a good place."

Crissy piped up next, "I've always liked 'once upon a time'."

Berger shook his head from where it was now pillowed on Claude's chest as the other man had also lain down, "Nah... Start with the sex scene. That's always the best part."

From underneath him, Claude raised a hand and smacked him in the head, "Berger!"

Berger blinked innocently up at his lover, "Well, it is."

Jeanie held up a hand for silence. When they all immediately obliged, her face relaxed into a soft smile. If Berger was their Chief and Woof their Shaman... she had been their Storyteller, and apparently old habits died hard. Nodding at Dionne, she said, "I guess the beginning actually is the right place." She took a deep breath, settled into her storyteller pose, and let her voice drop into the gently rocking cadence of a tale.

"Many years ago, as my son was growing up, I found myself thinking back on more innocent times. The world was turning so cold, so dark." Waving a hand at Claude she said, "Partly it was losing you, Claude." She then gave Berger a sad smile of his own, "Partly it was losing you, too, Banana-Berger. But it wasn't just that the Tribe was breaking up, everyone going their own separate ways. It was the world itself. It seemed to have gotten so angry all of sudden."

Crissy reached a hand up to entwine with Jeanie's, slowly stroking the other woman's hand with her thumb. Jeanie gave her a smile of gratitude, then started talking again, "I started living a little in the past, I think. I didn't want to see the present for what it was. So I started writing. Little stories, mostly. Some poems. Some of them got published. A lot of them didn't. I even set some of the poems to music. I didn't try to do anything with those... at least not then. It gave me some comfort, being able to touch all of you again, even in those small ways."

Everyone gave her encouraging grins and Woof reached up a hand to rest against her face, "Jeanie... If I'd had any idea, I'd have found a way to contact you. I didn't know you were so lost..."

Reaching her own free hand up to touch his, Jeanie smiled gently down at him, "I know you would have, Woof. But you were dealing with your own problems. We all were. And it all worked out for the best, so it's OK." Looking back up at the others, she picked up her story again, "So, around the time that Claude found me -- or found my son, as the case may be -- I started to think that maybe... there was another story I needed to write, a story I'd been waiting to write for a long time." Meeting each of their eyes in turn, she said, "It was our story I needed to write. The story of that autumn... in 1967. Only by then, I didn't remember enough to write it accurately on my own."

Crissy abruptly sat up and pointed a finger at her friend, "That's why you were picking all our brains for information about that time!"

Claude propped himself up on one elbow, "And that's why you invited Sheila up from D.C.! Does she know what you were doing?"

Jeanie blushed and ducked her head, "Other than my son, you guys are the first to know."

Dionne smiled, "So, what is it? Will we ever get to read it?"

Jeanie lost her formal storyteller's rhythm as she smiled back in pure delight, "Even better. You're going to get to see it!" At everyone's blank expressions, she explained, "It's a musical, guys. I wrote the book and most of the songs and Claude wrote a few of the songs, too." She blushed again and muttered, "He also rewrote the end. I'm still not totally thrilled about that." At Claude's confused look, her eyes widened, "No, no no... my Claude, not you."

Berger snorted, "You know, Jeanie... it'd be easier if you just called him 'Cloud' like the rest of us do."

Ducking her head again, Jeanie sighed, "I know, I know... I just can't. There are reasons I gave him that name and those reasons still hold. Even though it makes things confusing sometimes... I don't want to give it up."

Claude smiled in understanding, "It's OK, Jeanie. I really don't mind. So long as you don't mind continually clarifying things for us."

Suddenly leaning forward, Dionne said, "Hold on a minute! Jeanie, you said we're going to get to see it? How are you going to arrange that? You can't just hire a cast to perform a musical, you know. You need backers, a producer, a set designer, musicians... it's a huge deal."

Smile turning impish, Jeanie laughed, "I know! I finished it early this fall and my agent started passing it around, trying to spark some interest. I just got a call from her this week -- we have all the financial backing that we need, we have a theatre to play it in, they've hired a producer, I'm going to direct and they're going to start casting calls in June!" Practically bouncing from excitement, she asked, "Isn't that amazing??"

Berger sat up and leaned over Woof to envelop Jeanie in a warm hug, "Jeanie, that's absolutely wonderful! I'm so proud of you!"

The others all moved over from where they were sitting or laying and hugged her in turn, adding their own congratulations. When they'd finally sat down again, Jeanie cleared her throat, "There's, um... there's just one or two other things I need to tell you." At the expectant looks, Jeanie let out a little whimper and buried her face in her hands, "First off... I kind of used our real names."

Dead silence met that statement. Hud found his voice first, "You did what?"

Jeanie whimpered again, "I wasn't thinking! In the back of my mind, I didn't really think that anyone would be interested in a story about our lives, didn't think it would actually ever get staged, so I didn't really worry about it at the time! Besides, it helped keep it all straight in my head while I was writing. It wasn't until my agent called this week that I realized that I never changed it... and that that could be a problem. And I think it might be too late to change it now. They've got all the scripts printed and everything..."

They each stared around at each other. Woof was the one who broke the uncomfortable silence this time, "Maybe it's not my business to say it... but I don't mind." At the round of stunned looks he received, he smiled, "I really don't. It's unbelievably flattering that my name will go down in history associated with a piece of art. And I haven't done anything with any of you that I'm ashamed of -- except far falling out of touch like I did."

Crissy beamed him a smile as she grabbed his hand in hers, "I don't mind either, Jeanie. It won't affect me one way or another."

Hud sighed, "Well, I can't exactly say I'm thrilled... but 'Johnson' is one of the most common names in the book and I can explain away 'Hud' easily enough. Besides, I've already made detective -- it's not like they can take away my shield for having a character in a musical named after me."

Dionne laughed and shrugged, "Suits me just fine, baby. I'm a singer. So far as I'm concerned, any free publicity I can get is good publicity."

They all turned to look at Berger and Claude. Berger shrugged, indicating he didn't care one way or the other. Claude sighed, "I don't suppose there's any chance you didn't use my last name, is there?"

Jeanie blushed and shook her head, "You're kind of the lead character, Claudio... Your full name gets mentioned a few times." Wincing she added, "Middle name included."

Claude let out a self-deprecating laugh, "Well... I wish this had happened once I already had tenure, but I'll deal with it somehow. My principal owes me a favor or sixty... I'll just have to call one in." Offering her a smile, he added, "So, yeah... I guess it's OK with me, too."

Jeanie's eyes filled with an intense look of relief, "You guys have no idea how scared I was to tell you that." A single tear marked it's way down her right cheek, "You're the best."

Clearing his throat and taking on a fatalistic look, Claude then said, "You said there were 'one or two' things you needed to tell us, right? What's the other thing?"

Jeanie started to sweat, then finally blurted out, "I didn't want to do it, Claudio, you have to believe me! But he made me do it -- said the tragedy would lose all its impact if I left the ending the way I'd written it. Then he handed me his version and I was so caught up in the emotion of finally having finished it that I didn't really think it through and I'm still not sure why I agreed to change it and I'm really sorry!"

Claude stared at her for a minute, then turned to look at Berger and raised an eyebrow, "OK, love. You speak crazy-talk better than the rest of us combined. What the hell is she talking about?"

Berger just shook his head, "I haven't got a clue." Turning to Jeanie, he poked her leg with his outstretched foot, "Jeanie, what the hell are you talking about? Even I need a translation on that one."

Reluctantly, Jeanie looked up to meet Claude's eyes and said miserably, "I killed you off at the end."

Unexpectedly -- to Jeanie, at least -- Claude wasn't the one who protested. It was Berger who did. He shot to his feet, hands clenched into fists and eyes blazing, "You did what???"

Scuttling back behind Crissy at the force of his reaction, Jeanie held up her hands in a warding gesture, "I told you it's not my fault! My son made me do it!"

Berger took a menacing step forward and growled low in his throat, "I don't care why you did it. I am not living through his death again. Not even vicariously through a play. Change it back."

Claude finally scrambled to his feet and wrestled Berger back down to the ground, "Berger! It's not even real! It's just a story!" Clutching the other man to him with all his strength, he desperately tried to calm him, "I'm not dead, Berger. I'm not leaving you. Not ever. Not for anything. Please calm down!"

Berger struggled against his hold, eyes wild and crazy like they hadn't been since Claude brought him back to sanity. After a few minutes of fighting, he abruptly slumped, defeated. Letting Claude cradle him close, he started to mumble something under his breath. Claude leaned forward, eyes worried and somewhat frightened, "What's that, love? I can't hear you."

Not acknowledging that statement except to raise his voice so everyone could hear him, Berger just kept talking, "'...I hope that with all my heart. I know how upset you were when I left, how fractured you've become with me gone. I'm touched and I'm flattered, but it isn't what I want from you...'"

Over the sound of Berger's continued words came the sound of Claude and Hud's twinned gasps. Hud almost dumped his wife off his lap as he jerked forward, eyes wide and startled, "No... that's not possible." Turning his gaze to meet Claude's equally shocked one, he said, "Claude, I never gave him that letter. I swear I didn't."

In answer to that, Berger reached a shaking hand into his inner vest pocket and pulled out the letter he'd found earlier, but hadn't been able to bring himself to open and read. Not that it mattered. He'd had that letter memorized for so long, he didn't need to read it to recite every word. He kept up his steady murmur, ignoring all of Claude's efforts to get him to shush until he got to the end, "'And... maybe this is selfish, but I hope you'll do the same for me. Keep me with you, wherever you are... and maybe... someday... somehow... we'll meet again.'"

As he reached the last words, he turned to face Claude, eyes haunted and full of pain, "'I love you, Berger... and I will come back to you. I choose to believe that... I have to. Love, Claude.'" Finally, an edge of sanity came back into his gaze as he wrapped one hand around the back of Claude's neck and pulled him close, "I did what you asked. I imprinted you so deeply in my heart that I couldn't have removed you even if I wanted to. I knew it was foolish. I knew it was stupid to believe. But I did, Claude. Even then, even half-mad with grief, even with proof to the contrary right the hell in front of me, I believed in your words. I believed you when you said you'd come back to me. I held on to that belief for all those years you were gone. I held on to it so tightly it almost choked me."

Claude moved to say something, his own eyes tear-bright, but Berger planted a small kiss on his lips to keep him quiet. When he leaned back from that, his voice was tired... so very tired, "Don't say you're sorry, Claudio. No matter what else they did, those words also kept me alive. But there's a very, very small part of me that wakes in the night sometimes, still unsure if this is real. I can't listen to anyone else telling me that you're dead, even in a story... because I don't know if I have the strength to believe in those words a second time." Finally letting his head drop down onto Claude's shoulder, he dissolved into quiet tears.

At this point, Crissy and Jeanie were openly crying, Woof and Dionne looked like they were about to start and Hud was shaking his head in benumbed horror. Claude just sat there, rocking Berger in his arms and desperately trying to think of something to say that would make it better. Jeanie finally got herself under control enough to say, "I don't care if they yell at me. I don't care if they drop the play because of it. I'm not going to be the cause of this. I'll get it changed back. Somehow."

Claude ran gentle fingers through Berger's hair, finally managing to get his lover to lift his head, "Berger, I need you to listen to me. Can you do that?"

Wiping his eyes free of the few remaining tears, Berger tossed him an irritated scowl, "Don't do that, Claudio. Sheila used to pull that crap on me all the time. I'm not a child and I'm not insane, no matter how I was acting a minute ago. Just say whatever you have to say. I'm with you, all right?"

Claude smiled, brushing tender hands against Berger's flushed cheeks, "Then don't you see? That's the difference right there, Berger. That's as distraught as I've seen you in over two years... and you pulled yourself out of it. With no help from anyone else, I might add." Pulling the letter from Berger's hand, he held it up in front of him, "You don't need to believe in my words anymore, Berger. You have your own and you have me. What are you so afraid of?"

Woof pulled himself across the grass to rest his head against Berger's hip and sling an arm around his waist, "You have all of us, Berger. None of us are going to leave you again. Not ever... Not ever."

Looking around at the determined faces around him, Berger let some of the tension leave his body, then let himself meet Claude's eyes again, "Maybe you're right... I just don't know, Claude." Fluttering his hands in irritation, he huffed, "I'm not like the rest of you. I've always been a little tweaked. Since long before I met any of you, since long before I ever smoked my first joint, let alone did anything harder than that. I've always been a little off. I know that." A blush ran across his features as he finally admitted what he'd tried so hard all his life to hide, "I don't see the world like normal people do. I don't connect with it as easily. Sometimes... a lot of the time, things don't seem real to me -- they didn't, even back then. Believe it or not, the drugs made it better... for a little while, anyway." Reaching out a hand to touch the letter that Claude was still holding, he said, "Somehow, this was easier to believe... because it was written. It was concrete. I could hold it in my hand and see it. I'm afraid that a play would be the same. I don't want to see you die on stage and have it feel more real than the you sitting next to me holding my hand."

Claude pulled Berger back up against him, "And my students thought I was brave for what I said in class. Shit. I've got nothing on you, Berger." After another few moments of rocking his lover against him, he spoke again, "Don't you see, Berger? This is the last thing. Your own belief that you can't recognize reality is what's keeping you from actually being able to do it. You memorized every word of the letter I wrote you, but there are parts of it you still managed to ignore. So... if you need new words to believe in, I can give you those, too." Carefully opening the worn page, he read, "'You're capable of so much more than what you let yourself be. You're as smart as any of us, maybe even smarter, and you have just as much passion as Sheila, though you show it differently. I hate to think that that very passion might be what destroys you.'"

Folding the letter and tucking it back into its envelope, Claude gently placed it back into Berger's vest pocket, then took the other man's face back into his hands, "You are capable of so much more than what you let yourself be, George Berger. You proved that this year -- with Sarah... and with me. I would never have gotten the help I needed if you hadn't pushed me to do it, Berger. I'd have lost myself to this thing twenty times over in the last two years without your help. You have strength and passion for everyone else when they need it... you just don't keep any for yourself."

Berger turned his gaze around the circle of faces eagerly leaning in towards him and when he finally got back to Claude, the rest of the tension left his body and a worn smile took its place, "Maybe... maybe you're right."

Claude snorted, "There's no maybe about it. Of course I'm right!"

Turning back to look at Jeanie, Berger let out a small whimper, "You really killed him off at the end?"

Jeanie cleared her throat, "Well... sort of." Seeing the spark of hope in Berger's eyes, she elaborated, "Well, we never outright state it, we just stage his character laid out on the American flag and let everyone assume." As Berger's eyes started to lose focus again, Jeanie rushed to explain the next part, "But then we bring everyone -- including Claude -- back out on stage for encores of the more upbeat numbers, and..." She blushed.

Intrigued by her obvious embarrassment, Berger raised an eyebrow, "And what, Jeanie?"

Jeanie smiled, "Then we send you and him and several other characters out into the audience to start dragging random people up on stage to dance with the Tribe."

In spite of the stress of the situation, Claude chuckled, "How the hell does that work, Jeanie? The audience is supposed to be there to watch, not to participate."

Warming to her subject, Jeanie shook her head, "I know! But Claude pointed out that I had already broken down the fourth wall in so many places in the play that it just made sense. There are actors out in the theatre in most of the major numbers, interacting with the people in the audience. Also, the characters actually refer to the audience a few times in the play."

Hud snorted, "Oh this has gotta be good."

"Well, my favorite is the scene where Claude's parents are harassing him about not having a job, right before they tell him he got his draft notice." She ignored Claude muttering off to her right about not remembering that day being particularly funny and continued, "So, his mother makes some comment about how disheveled he looks and then demands he change his pants before leaving the house. He gets this pouty look on his face and says, 'Mom, you're embarrassing me!' then waves a hand out into the theatre and says, 'The audience!' Then his mom wraps her robe around herself and gives the audience a sheepish grin and says, 'Oh... Hello,' and offers them a weak little wave."

There was a pause, then Crissy snorted out a laugh. Woof quickly followed. Even Berger snickered. At the sour look on Claude's face, Berger pulled him close for a quick kiss, "You've gotta admit, Claudio... It sounds like something you would do."

Hud jumped in next, "And I know exactly the look she's talking about. I remember thinking to myself the first time I saw you do it, 'No one who isn't a six year old girl should be able to pull that off so well.'" At Claude's affronted look, he slapped his hand on his thigh and let out a loud guffaw, "It's true, man!" As the offended look on Claude's face slid into a pout, Hud just laughed louder, "Holy shit, Claude! You can still do it! That should not look so natural on a man, much less one your age."

Not wanting this to turn into a round of picking on Claude, Jeanie tapped Berger's leg to get his attention. With a sly grin, she said, "But Berger... I didn't tell you the best part."

Berger turned his head towards her, politely listening, "And what part would that be?"

Giving he and Claude a wicked grin, Jeanie said, "As you said earlier... the sex scenes!"

As Claude's mouth dropped open, Berger turned his entire body towards Jeanie and scooted closer. Bracing his chin on laced fingers, he met her eyes with a wicked grin to match hers, "You have my attention."

Jeanie's smile widened, "Well, you and Claude spend at least half the play rolling around on the floor together and groping each other at center stage. If I can convince the actors to do it, you even get to kiss him once."

Berger's mouth slid into a self-satisfied smirk, "You know... I think I'm liking the idea of this more and more..."

His smug grin was a nice counterpoint to Claude's horrified look, "Can I take back what I said earlier about it being OK to use my name?" At Berger's hurt look, Claude waved his hands frantically in the air, "What if my students see it? What if their parents see it?" Eyes growing ever wider and more horrified, Claude's voice dropped into a harsh whisper, "What if someone on the school board sees it?" The next words were a pitiful wail, "Then I'll never get tenure!"

Deciding it was now his turn to do the comforting, Berger bundled his lover into his arms and gently rocked him back and forth, making soft shushing noises. The rest of them tried to hold it in, but kept stuttering into laughter at the pathetic look on Claude's face. The tension finally broken for good by the good-natured laughter, the Tribe sat in the park, talking long into the wee hours of the morning, before reluctantly calling it a night about two hours before sunrise.

Berger, exhausted beyond belief by his own emotional storm and wanting his lover around when he had to deal with tomorrow, wordlessly turned off Claude's alarm clock when they got home. Claude, for once, didn't even voice a word of a protest, just picked up the phone and called the automated system to let the school know that he'd be out sick that day. Then they tucked up into bed and gratefully used each other to keep the nightmares at bay.

Jeanie pushed open the door to her apartment and almost cried when she saw that all the lights were off. She didn't want to wake her son in the middle of the night on a school night, but she really wanted to talk to him. Before she had to make the decision, however, Cloud emerged from his room and quietly shut the door. Jeanie opened her mouth to talk, but he quickly motioned for her to keep her voice down, "Mom! Zack's still asleep. Please keep it down!"

Understanding filling her features, Jeanie tiptoed into the kitchen and settled at the table. When Cloud joined her, she dropped her head onto his shoulder and moaned. Immediately, his eyes took on a worried look, "Mom? What happened? Are you OK?"

She rolled her head sideways to look him in the eye, "Just great, Claude. Couldn't be better." Rubbing her face against his robe, she moaned again, then muttered, "Australia would have been the better choice."

Cloud's mouth dropped open and he almost squeaked, "You finally told them? Oh my G-d... Was Uncle Claude really upset?"

Sitting up, Jeanie shook her head, "Ironically... no. But holy hell... Berger was."

Wincing appropriately, Cloud asked, "So... are we calling the whole thing off, then?"

Smiling, Jeanie shook her head, "Again, ironically enough... no. Claude, of all people, managed to talk Berger down. Then I told him about all the simulated sex his and Claude's characters get to have on stage and that smoothed things over."

Cloud leaned back and commented dryly, "Maybe you should have started with that part."

In response, Jeanie slapped him on the shoulder, "For crying out loud, Claude! You're as bad as Berger sometimes!"

Laughing happily, Cloud leaned forward and kissed his mother's cheek, "Well, mom... since you raised me all alone, you have no one to blame but yourself for how I turned out."

Jeanie sighed dramatically, "I guess you're right at that..." Then she dropped her head into her hands and moaned again.

"OK... out with it. What's the problem now?" Cloud asked.

Letting out a quiet whimper, Jeanie answered, "I just realized what an idiot I was. Sheila's not coming back up here until school lets out in June... and I'm gonna have to go through this all again when she does!"

Not having any sympathy whatsoever for his mother's plight, Cloud simply answered her the same way he had the first time, "Yeah, mom... good luck with that. How about you warn me before you tell her, too, so I can be somewhere else..."

Jeanie finished the thought for him, " Australia. Yeah, I know." Abruptly she grabbed his hand with an excited look on her face, "Maybe we should just both get tickets to go there and call her from Sydney! That way, no matter how mad she is, she can't hurt us!"

Cloud laughed as he enveloped his mother in a tight hug, "You know... for a mom, you're not half bad."

Returning the embrace with a proud smile, Jeanie answered, "And for a son... you're not half bad, either."

In perfect harmony with each other, they said their goodnights and went to bed. In spite of its rocky road, tonight had been too wonderful to spoil with anything so banal as worry. There would be plenty of time to tackle tomorrow's problems tomorrow. Just before tucking herself into bed, Jeanie took one last look out at the stars and sang softly, "Good morning, starshine... The Earth says 'Hello'," then with a gentle smile, she blew the stars a kiss and turned out the light.


Well... it's been a long, difficult, yet unbelievably fun road on this one. I've accomplished a lot of what I set out to do when originally starting this little trilogy of fics. Berger is recovered (*coughs* ...or is closer to recovered after this part, anyway... ^_^) Claude is recovering. Woof is back. *cheers* I'm feeling pretty satisfied and accomplished, so I thought I was about done.

...Then I realized I'm not. *chuckles* As these stories progressed, I started to realize that every time I tied up a loose end, I found another one further down the tapestry. *chuckles* So, I guess I'll keep writing... and hope I keep finding one more loose end, because I'm not done with this ficverse, much less this fandom. Not by a long shot. ^_^

As a taste of what's up for the next fic... Sheila finally does make that visit up to NY -- with one or more children and possibly a husband in tow. *sings* Hail, hail, the gang's all here!

Questions, comments, blueberry pie?

Nuriko: Ha! I knew you were running out of fruit!

R-chan: *grumps* No... just running out of four syllabled fruit.

Nuriko: *blinkblink* But you started this whole thing with coconuts way back when -- that's only three syllables.

R-chan: Yeah... *pout* ...but four sounds better.

Nuriko: O_O I give up.