Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, much as I'd like to.

[A/N: I'm back! Niles and CC couldn't keep me away from them. A few notes: I'm refraining from offering a lot of summary since I don't necessarily want to give anything away. I wrote this without having any sort idea when it would take place in the series. This story likely dictates that the fifth and sixth season didn't quite happen as it did in the series. Most of my stories are set in the 4th season because CC looked so gorgeous and their relationship took so many steps forward.]

Cataclysm

Prologue

CC Babcock pushed through the frosted glass door and her pumps met the plush carpeting of her office. Two of the plate-glass walls afforded her an incredible view of the city, which, from this height, looked immaculate. The jagged landscape of skyscrapers and apartment buildings cut into the pristine blue sky where not a cloud could be found. The Hudson River sparkled in the distance and though there were cars and taxis littering the roadways, CC couldn't hear a sound of it.

As usual, the blonde found herself much too occupied to stop and admire the view, as she plopped a heavy stack of scripts on her glass-and-steel desk and propped her cell phone up against her ear with her shoulder.

"I'm telling you, Maxwell, we need to decide on a script soon," she said, her cool tone an ironic contrast to the slight panic she felt rising in her throat.

"Now, CC, we'll figure it out," her business partner replied in a maddeningly calm voice.

CC closed her eyes and tried to calm down; it did not help, as it never did. "If we want to be anywhere near the running for next year's Tony's, we need to select a script."

"And we will. I leafed through them and sent my favorites onto you. Let me know your thoughts and we'll go from there," Maxwell replied reasonably.

CC sighed, looking down at the scripts and seeing the rest of her afternoon and evening fly out of the window. "All right. I'll get back to you tomorrow with my choice." Without waiting for him to respond, CC relaxed her shoulder and caught her phone in her left hand. She pressed the 'end' button and set her phone on her desk.

She slid onto her mesh-backed desk chair and pulled open a desk drawer on her left, retrieving her black-framed glasses and pushing them on. Closing the drawer with a gratifying clang, CC plucked the first script off of the top and began reading.

As the head accountant, costume and set designer, and other employees of Sheffield-Babcock Productions left, the Babcock half of the company turned her back on the increasingly dark sky and read through every script Maxwell had forwarded on. With a snort of disgust, CC pushed three-quarters of the pile off of her desk and listened as they thudded on the carpeted floor. She sat deliberating over the final three, using her seasoned producer's eye to transform ink on white pages into a full-fledged Broadway production.

Just as CC pushed the middle script off of her desk, a timid knock sounded, barely heard over the renewed thump on the ground.

"Come in," CC called out, not bothering to glance over at her door.

"Good evening, Miss Babcock," the administrative assistant, Andrew? Alex? Arthur?, said awkwardly. He'd never felt particularly welcomed, something not helped by CC laughing squarely in his face when Maxwell had introduced her to him ten months ago. The words "cute, but I don't need my own paperboy" rang through his head.

"Hello, hello," CC muttered, staring intently at the scripts as though one would begin glowing and flashing the words "Best Original Production" above it.

"Mr. Sheffield phoned and requested that I order you dinner, which arrived a minute ago," he said, gesturing to the hallway outside of her office.

"Thank you," CC said absentmindedly.

"Would you like me to get these out of your way?" he asked, stepping carefully toward the pile of shattered dreams in front of the producer's desk.

"Sure," she replied with a sigh, leaning back and watching as he piled them into his arms. She felt a remark floating in her throat, something about a pack mule, perhaps, but she knew it wouldn't be well received by the well-intentioned boy.

"I'll bring in your dinner," he said behind a tower of scripts as he maneuvered his way out of the chic, minimalist office.

CC returned to perusing the pile. She was torn between what looked like a bright, enjoyable musical and a darkly funny tragedy. Knowing that the musical would likely garner more popular press, CC had a feeling that Maxwell would have chosen it. With that thought in mind, the blonde pulled out a pen she hadn't remembered storing behind her ear and used it to sweep the script off of her desk with a flourish.

As the assistant came back in the room with a bag of CC's favorites from the nearby Thai restaurant, CC flipped open the manuscript she'd chosen and began reading it again. Her dinner disappeared, almost unnoticed by CC, as she reread the play. There was something utterly captivating in it, a haunting sadness that echoed throughout like a long, solitary musical note. Something stirred in her as she read it, something vaguely familiar in the isolation and loneliness, the snappy humor and lost chances. Though the protagonist was male, CC felt that the play was about her in some way.

Despite the popularity and prevalence of the happy-go-lucky productions of late, CC thought that the audience would respond to the themes in the play and ultimately root for the tragic hero, who both fought against and caused his own fall from grace. She could picture the day-t0-day interactions taking place on a stark stage with a bright spotlight, highlighting the man's alienation while juxtaposing the solution to his problems.

It was with uncharacteristic exuberance that CC snatched up her cell phone and dialed Maxwell's number, drumming her fingers impatiently on her desk.

"Evening, CC," Maxwell greeted.

"I've chosen the play," CC said without any pleasantries.

She could hear the grin in her business partner's voice in response to her excited haste. "Excellent. Which one?"

"It's…" CC flipped the play shut and glanced at the front page, frowning slightly. It wasn't unusual for her to ignore play titles; she felt it gave her immediate bias depending on whether she liked its name. "That's strange. It just says 'Untitled'."

Maxwell paused and cleared his throat. CC imagined she could hear him adjusting his glasses. "Ah, well. That one. That is the title. The playwright felt it reflected the themes in his manuscript."

CC thought for a moment and realized how true it was: the ubiquitous Untitled perfectly fit the universal nature and yet also mocked how unspectacular the protagonist appeared. "Interesting. I can see it on a playbill. It would probably look striking."

"I can see that."

"I think we should contact the playwright immediately and buy the option from him," CC began in her businesslike tone. "I don't want to lose out on this, and I really think this will be the one."

Maxwell paused again, longer this time. CC finally took notice of his apparent reluctance and frowned once more.

"What is it, Maxwell?"

"It's just that…the playwright is…" Maxwell faltered.

"He's not going to be difficult, is he?" CC asked, imagining the relentlessly obnoxious playwrights she'd dealt with in the past.

Strangely, Maxwell chuckled, though he quelled it almost instantly. "I daresay you'll find him so. CC, I have to tell you…Niles wrote that play."


[A/N: I know this was short, but I've got several chapters written and will update depending on the reviews. You find out much, much more next chapter...]