Hello, Hello!:) Here is the Dummy Twins continuation I promised you last night!;) It kinda has an open end, but I'd like to think a fairly positive one! As I mentioned before...I started writing this last Friday when I was stuck on a plane going nowhere. lol I hope you'll enjoy my little story and check back tomorrow at noon for my Christmas story!;) Reviews would be appreciated!:)

Disclaimer: Only Jim belongs to me...but if someone would put Niles and C.C. under my Christmas tree, I'd be delighted!;)

Stranded

C.C. Babcock was sitting on a plane that hadn't moved for over two hours. Not a relaxed flier on any given day she found it even harder to cope now that she really wanted to leave the city. Niles' words still echoed through her mind and the pain they had caused her, which had led to her resignation, hadn't eased either. She stared out at the white blanket of snow that covered the ground and the wings of the plane, and was the reason she was still stuck at this blasted place. She bitterly wondered if some higher power was at it, if this was some divine intervention that would force her to reconsider her decision to leave. She tore her gaze away from the window and instead contented herself by observing the passengers. After all, there wasn't much else to do apart from thinking about the previous events or panicking because she hated to fly. The couple two rows in front of her appeared to be relaxed, though underneath it all C.C. could see their tension. The husband joked with several of the other passengers nearby, trying to keep positive and generally spreading amusement throughout the plane. Somewhere behind her, however, another man was planning quite the opposite: a rebellion, because they were still stuck on the plane. His loud voice boomed through the rear of the machine and was making her even more nervous, so in an attempt to block it out, she shakily rose to her feet. Her hands were trembling too, giving away just how nervous she truly was, but the way in which she rose showed nothing but confidence. She smoothed her skirt and adjusted her blouse, easily slipping out of the business jacket because the temperature onboard seemed to rise by the second. The woman next to her gave a weak, uncertain smile and moved out of the way when she noticed that C.C. was trying to get to the aisle. Determinedly C.C. marched to the front of the plane, slamming the toilet door shut behind her loudly. Once inside the small, confined place she leaned against the wall, closed her eyes and took deep breaths. She had heard pieces of conversations, of incidents that had happened to fellow passengers before and it wasn't helping. She had also passed a woman whose eyes were red from crying and who was slowly popping small pieces of chocolate into her mouth, explaining that she was a diabetic. The situation was ridiculous and completely uncalled for, if only the captain had put more effort into contacting the dispatchers to let them alight the plane. The old C.C. Babcock would've walked right up to them, demanding their release, but that person appeared to have died somewhere on the stairs of the Sheffield mansion.

Look around you! They're married, they're starting a family.

As if she didn't know that herself. As if she needed reminding that the Yenta from Flushing had accomplished what she desired most of all. A family, a home. C.C. was approaching 40 and at the rate she was going she felt that it was nearly impossible for her to ever achieve that. Maybe with Niles... No, she wouldn't go there, not now...and especially not today when he had proven to know so little about her. Her eyes teared up again when she thought about the hopeful moments, those that had been an indication to her that maybe the butler wasn't as bad as he seemed. The moments were rare, of course, but still powerful enough to touch her well-guarded heart. Their kiss three years ago was the most blatantly obvious one. Their passion had been culminating until it had climaxed in the most mind-blowing kiss she had ever shared with a man. Sometimes at night when she closed her eyes she could still feel him, the way his arms had protectively wrapped around her, simultaneously with the movement of her own. The reassuring squeeze he had given her when he had felt her left hand clinging onto his jacket, nails digging into his skin when Fran and Maxwell had caught them. These moments simply showed that there was more between them, more than sexual tension or petty insults, but a deeper understanding of each other's needs.

"Are you finished in there?" a loud voice called and fists banging on the toilet door drew her from her memory.

She sighed and wiped the few tears away that had managed to spill over, moistening her cheek.

"Your behaviour is unacceptable." she coolly told the man who had interrupted her, before striding back to take her seat again.

The window was by now fully covered in snow, making any attempt to look outside impossible, so C.C. had no choice but to return to her introspection once again. It was true that they had shared that kiss, but she couldn't let herself forget what had led to it in the first place. No romance, despite the constant underlying sensuality of their relationship. Niles had pranked her again, completely humiliated her and as she dreaded to think who he would tell, she began pouring herself a number of drinks. After all, alcohol always worked when she attempted to numb the pain or her ever-present loneliness. It was the influence of the drink that had driven her to his side on the couch, that had caused them to throw zingers back and forth and that was, at the end of the day, also responsible for that kiss. Had it been any other relationship or maybe any other woman, she would've mainly focused on the good parts, but C.C. simply wasn't like that and thus couldn't help but weigh the positive against the negative. She wasn't innocent in this and she knew it but this was the way their relationship had always been.

When C.C. had started working for Maxwell she had slowly found a friend in Sara, a human-being so warm and caring that no Fran Fine could compare to it. Maybe that was why C.C. had been so hard on Fran until even she couldn't justify hating her anymore. The woman, though completely her opposite, was good for the family and good for Maxwell. But she couldn't replace Sara and never would. Sara had been shy but incredibly warm and gentle, with a hidden fire that one only noticed after a while. And with her persistence and usually dead-on insight she had slowly made her way into C.C.'s heart. She had been there when Niles had first started insulting her, had witnessed C.C. angrily storming into the kitchen, ranting about the lack of respect. Sara was also the only one who knew that C.C. Babcock, a plump brunette back then, didn't dislike servants despite her upbringing. It was only later on when C.C. had fled herself into the old attitudes and stereotypes conveyed by her mother. But her hurt and utter frustration at the butler's insult was real and had cut deep but seeing as she was a resilient woman she had learned over time to deal with it. Sara's laughter rang in her ears when she thought about the first time she had thrown something back at Niles. His face had shown silent shock before eventually his lips had curved into a smile, satisfied, as if this had been his intention all along. She would miss it...silly, though it was. But she had grown accustomed to their daily banter, to his quick wit and surprising softness. And it was doubtful that she'd ever find someone like that again.

Wondering what might have been.

No, she still couldn't allow herself to go there. Her and the butler? Unbelievable! Surely they couldn't spend their entire lives bickering and arguing, it would certainly grow old eventually and what would they be left with? This was, essentially, what C.C. was afraid of. She couldn't believe that they shared anything else and was scared that once this broke away she'd be left with nothing, just a broken heart and tainted memories. She didn't dwell on the fact that she needed to have deep affections for a man if he possessed the power to break her heart. But she suddenly came to realise that the situation she was stuck in now felt painfully similar. She was alone, running away, completely breaking with her old life, and a pride so strong that it wouldn't allow her to ever get in touch with the Sheffields again. She was losing Niles, losing the unhealthiest and yet stable relationship she had ever had with a man. Frustration welled up in her once more as tears stung in her eyes. Slowly the gravity of her situation was getting to her. Unable to make a decision she was forced to think and re-think her choice and yet she was going nowhere. If only the plane would leave, giving her some distance from it all. As if on cue the speakers crackled to life and the captain's voice could be heard:

"Ladies and gentlemen, due to continuing heavy snow falls we will now ask you to vacate the plane. Please get yours passports ready and collect your luggage on band 2."

It appeared a decision had actually been made, though not necessarily the one C.C. had reckoned with. Relief and anger alike spread through the plane and she tried to ignore it all as she slipped on her jacket once more. Clutching her handbag to her chest she waited patiently until it was her turn to step into the aisle. For now the difficulty of the situation - unable to live with or without him- was pushed to the back of her mind and she focused on getting new information as to the following procedures. She nearly slipped on the icy stairs when vacating the plane and took great care not to make the same mistake again, walking slowly, seeing as she was wearing her trademark heels. The cold felt oddly soothing as snowflakes whirled around her and got tangled in her hair. Finally she could breathe again...

The air inside the terminal building was humming with the complaints and mutters of the many stranded passengers and C.C. coolly presented her passport, before continuing on towards the conveyor belts. She spotted her small suitcase before it disappeared and lifted it awkwardly off the belt and set it down beside her.

"Excuse me, what is going to happen now?" she asked the next best airport official who shrugged and sighed.

"I cannot tell you, you're going to have to call the airline."

"This advice is utterly useless...Jim..." she snapped, squinting to read his nametag "and you are clearly unqualified to do this job."

"I'm sorry, lady, everything's chaotic here now. Ring the airline, that's all I can tell you."

"Oh I'm sorry," C.C. apologised faux-sweetly "my mistake. It appears this entire airport is completely unprepared for any unexpected situations. It is nearly midnight, who, may I ask, should I be able to reach now?"

The man avoided her eyes and muttered something into his phone.

"Would you mind repeating that? I didn't quite catch it." C.C. said, hands on her hips.

The poor man spluttered unintelligible words once more until finally two more men appeared by his side.

"We're going to have to ask you to please calm down, Ma'am." One of them said firmly.

"You called for help?" C.C. asked Jim incredulously.

"He is just doing his job, Ma'am, there's no need to get abusive?"

"Abusive?" C.C. cried, her voice almost screechy "You haven't seen anything yet. Do you know who I am? I am C.C. Babcock, I could buy this entire airport and have all of you fired!"

"That's all very good for you, Ma'am, but your flight is still cancelled, so if you would just step into the main building and wait there until information is passed on."

"Very well," C.C. said icily, shrugging the man's hand off and tightening her grasp on her luggage until her knuckles turned white "but remember Jim, I know your name and I will sue your ass off!"

For a moment the man looked as if he was about to burst into tears and his shoulders visibly slumped with relief, when C.C. whirled around and left, the click of her heels faintly echoing in the large hall.

The following hours passed by in a blur as C.C. found out that the airport would be closed over night and pick up service again in the morning. She then tried to find a hotel room to stay in over night, but no money in the world could change the fact that there weren't any vacancies. Finally, unwilling to admit defeat and return to her penthouse, she found an empty corner in the airport and curled down on the hard floor, preparing for a rough night.


Unbeknownst to her the butler she had spent so many hours thinking about was heading her way. Niles sat in a cab nervously strumming his fingers against his thighs. He knew it was a long shot but when he had seen on the news that both JFK and Newark airport had suspended their services, he had taken it as a sign of fate. C.C. was bound to be in New York and maybe if he found her he could try and talk to her again. He didn't want her to leave in this weather, not when the possibilities of accidents were rising by the minute and certainly not when the last words he had spoken to her were harsh and hurtful. At the very least he needed to tell her that he loved her. She had looked so broken afterwards as if he had physically hurt her, not even responded to his eyes that had begged her to reply. And so he had gone, disappeared into the safety and solitude of his room to pack his things. It was only later on that he heard footsteps throughout the house and when he had seen her blonde hair he had sneaked into the office to see what she had been doing. There he had found a letter of resignation and a brief scribbled note informing them that she had to leave the city. It wasn't what he had expected at all, it seemed so pointless because she knew that he would quit his job. So why would she resign as well? A small part of him hoped that it was because she couldn't stand to spend time in a house that held so many memories of their past. Curiosity and the need to be with her despite his previous words, had caused him to enlist Fran's support. The brunette who didn't want to lose her best friend had done everything in her power to help and had called Noel to find out if he knew more about C.C.'s whereabouts. It was him who had informed them that his sister had booked the quickest flight out of the city, but where she was going to or when he couldn't tell them. After the phone call Niles had been as uncertain as before. What was he to do now? And then they had seen the news on TV about the many passengers, having to spend the night at the airport and that all the flights had been cancelled. He had taken it as a sign, known that she had to be among them and had wasted no time in heading to JFK.

As his musings drew to an end so did the taxi ride. Niles paid the driver and gave him a generous tip and strode quickly into the terminal building. She could be at Newark airport or her flight might still have made it out, there was no way of knowing...he simply had to rely on his luck. It seemed that every last inch of the airport was packed, people were queuing endlessly on the few coffee shops that were still open or lying on seats or on the floor. Several times he thought he had spotted a familiar strand of blonde hair or got a whiff of her expensive perfume, but every time it turned out to be a mere trick of his imagination. Then he saw a suitcase, her suitcase, there was no mistaking it, after all he had carried it so often in the past. Now he just had to make sure that this particular item did indeed belong to the woman in question. And there she was, curled up uncomfortably, her blonde hair a mess. One hand clasped around the aforementioned suitcase and her head rested on her handbag.

"Didn't have any more hotel rooms available, Babs?" he gently asked and her eyes sleepily fluttered open.

She simply stared at him, as though she was doubting that he was real. He carefully sat down beside her, wriggled the handbag out from under her head and waited for her to settle back down, head on his lap.

"I tried to get away from you," she muttered against the fabric of his pants.

"So I've heard," he commented, smiling softly.

The empty bottle of Jack Daniel's in her purse explained the frank, if also slurred, answers.

"But you never go away, Niles, and it's driving me insane!"

Once again he chuckled and smoothed her hair.

"I've always wondered what your game was. The insults, the names...and then the proposal. What were you thinking?"

"That I love you," he quietly replied, his thumb tentatively caressing her cheek "but that you'd never look at me twice."

"You're an idiot," she snapped, though her tone was still weary "if you'd told me that from the beginning maybe we wouldn't be in this mess now."

He considered her words and how right she was and then he resigned himself to waiting, for the time being content with her close by. He would wait until she woke up and until another decision could be made.