Skin Deep
By Thomas Mc


Chapter 12: Healing

Tony was in full rant and oblivious of the pain it was causing his sister. All of his years worth of suppressed feelings of guilt and self-loathing over his ignorance and helplessness in the face what happened to her had come bubbling to the surface with a vengeance when he thought that she had attached herself to some freak because no one else would have her. Now he was going on about the sins of the past that she had not wanted to know about.

"Nooo!" Sparrow cried out as she covered her ears. "I don't want to hear!"

Sandra grabbed Tony's arms. "Tony! No!" She shook him trying to break through his pain. "Stop it."

Tony stared into Sandra's sympathetic eyes for several frozen seconds. Then they both glanced over toward Sparrow at the sound of a commandingly powerful and yet compassionate voice. "Sparrow I'm here, it's going to be OK. Your brother cares a lot for you. He just doesn't understand." They saw a tall powerful hooded figure that seemed to have come out of nowhere holding Tony's sobbing little sister. "He didn't mean any harm. In many ways his pain is almost as great as yours was." Sparrow's arms went around the huge figure as his comments were now aimed at Tony and Sandra. "She has no memory of how painful her past was. She has a new life now, free of all that baggage, and she would rather keep it that way." There was a pause as he leaned down apparently to bring his head in contact with hers. It was hard to tell what was happening with that hood obscuring their view. The deep hood turned very slightly in their direction but the face was still concealed by it. "Tony, you must let go of your guilt and sorrow over the past. You were not at fault. It's time for you to focus on the good life you have now and know that your sister is happy and loved."

As the world seemed to stand still, Tony stared at the figure holding his sister and taking in details. The stranger was huge, well over six foot, and he appeared to be very well built. He had on leather gloves and a floor length hooded cape that completely hid his features. Michelle was clinging to that very mysterious figure like her life depended on it.

There was something very masculine and commanding about the voice from the man holding her husband's sister and it sent erotic shivers through Sandra. She felt her arm going around her husband searching for an anchor to her conflicting emotions.

His suspicions still running high Tony barely noticed his wife's reactions and finally he spoke. "Who are you? Where did you come from?"

The mysterious figure responded. "My name is David. My room is next door." He gently caressed Sparrow's head with his gloved hand. "Sparrow and I have become . . . involved."

"What are you hiding?" Tony demanded aggressively. "Why can't I see what you look like? What have you done to my sister?"

Sparrow pulled back and retorted. "This is my life. You have no right to interfere." She started trying to push David toward her door. "Go, please. It's not safe to let others see you."

David resisted. "Sparrow, whether you remember him or not, he is still your brother and he has every reason to be suspicious of me. He could make things very difficult for us if he had a mind to. He has no way to know what we mean to each other or the reasons for all the secrecy. We need to set his suspicions to rest if we are to have a chance together."

"But the danger to you . . . to your whole family." Sparrow protested.

"Would be no greater than if we sent him away now without setting his suspicions to rest." David responded.

Sparrow looked intently into David's eyes. "I'm afraid. I don't want to lose you."

"You won't. Whatever happens, we'll find a way." He responded gently. "In the end, it's your welfare that he cares about. We just need to convince him that your happiness is my main concern as well." He shook his head. "We can't do that if I continue to hide myself from him." There was a low soft chuckle. "If two strangers like Matt and Katy can accept me . . . accept us, then I think there is a good chance that Tony will be able to accept me."

After a few moments Sparrow nodded her reluctant acceptance. David gave Sparrow a quick reassuring hug then released her, though Tony noticed that his sister held on to his arm as though determined to maintain contact.

David now addressed his comments toward Tony. "You must understand that the males of my family carry a unique genetic trait that results in our unusual appearance. That trait can only be inherited by my male descendants." After a moment he reached up and pushed back the hood.

Sandra gasped as her hand came up to her mouth, her eyes open wide in surprise and a hint of fear.

Tony's eyes also opened wide as he mumbled. "Oh my god." He shook his head. "What are you?"

David shrugged. "That is a question my family has been asking for decades. My aunt Patricia, who is an expert, claims that, despite our genetic anomaly as she calls it, we are still genetically human."

Sandra grabbed hold of her husband's arm as she continued to stare unbelievingly at the incredible creature that stood before her. At that moment Cherry appeared at the doorway. "David, what is going on? Is everything OK?"

David responded over his shoulder. "Everything's fine, Mother. We're just talking things over with Sparrow's brother."

Tony stared at Cherry in surprise, his mouth hanging open. With them standing next to each other, it was easy to see the kinship in the identical hair color as well as some familial hints in the creature's features. "You're his mother?"

Cherry nodded as Sparrow remarked. "David strongly favors his father."

"Michelle, this is . . ." Tony's brows furrowed as he stood there uncertain what to say.

"My name is Sparrow. Michelle disappeared along with my memory." Sparrow retorted.

Tony barely acknowledged her response as he continued to stare at David. "Is this really what you want?" He shook his head. "I only want what is best for you." As his emotions calmed down he became aware of how big and powerful David really was and began to feel a bit nervous as he wondered what those heavy leather gloves he was wearing might be hiding.

"David is what is best for me." Sparrow replied, putting her arms around David with an almost possessive air. "If there is one thing that I have no doubts about, it's how David feels about me. As far as my feelings about David are concerned, he is everything I could ever want in a man . . . and more." She laid her head on David's chest. "If you really care about my happiness then you will accept David and you will accept our relationship."

Sparrow took a deep breath as David let her feel over the bond what he was sensing from her brother. She placed her hand on David's chest. "Why don't you go downstairs and let us talk this out."

David placed his hand over hers. "Are you sure you will be OK?" He could clearly feel her uncertainty.

Sparrow nodded, she knew he could feel her emotions. As David started to turn away she stopped him with a hand on his arm and when he turned back she stretched up and kissed him. "I love you. I'll be just fine." Then she let go of him.

David turned and placed his hand on Cherry's shoulder. "Come on Mother, I think Sparrow will be OK." Together they left the room.

For a couple of minutes after David and Cherry disappeared down the stairs, Sparrow, Tony and Sandra stood around silently regarding each other. None of them knew quite what to say. Sparrow sat down on the vanity chair and indicated for them to take the other two chairs in the room. Then there followed another minute of awkward silence.

With a determined sigh Sparrow finally spoke. "To begin with you seem to think that David is somehow taking advantage of me which is totally ridiculous."

She reached up and pulled off her wig. Sandra gasped in horror. She knew that Tony's sister had been badly burned but she could never have imagined how bad it had really been. She was suddenly finding it very difficult to look at Sparrow's damaged face. With a faint whimper and tears in her eyes, she finally had to look away. Tony also gasped. He did know how bad it had been but the change in her appearance was extremely shocking even knowing what to expect. He too had to look away after a couple of seconds.

Sparrow replaced the wig and adjusted it then continued speaking. "Look around you at this room." She indicated the room with a sweep of her hand. As they looked around at the elegantly furnished room they were currently in, she continued. "David's family is very wealthy." She paused. "You've seen how beautiful David's mother is and his father looks a lot like David. His grandfather also looks like him yet is also married to a beautiful woman. They refer to their own appearance as leonine, I've heard others that know them describe the males as lion-men." She paused a moment. "I have met several very pretty and sweet girls that know David and would jump at the chance to be with him. Sandra, you've heard his voice. Do you think he would have any trouble sweet talking anything he wanted from any girl?" Another pause. "The point I'm trying to make is, David has everything he could possibly want. Do you honestly think there is anything he could want from me that he couldn't get elsewhere . . . unless perhaps he really did love and want me personally?"

She paused again, not for an answer but to let what she had said sink in while she watched their expressions.

She continued. "Now consider everything I just told you and add in the fact that he found me when I had hit bottom. I had nothing, not even a past or a name and I was seriously contemplating suicide. He saved my life and his family took me in. He literally gave me a home and a family. He convinced me that I still had a lot to live for and then he gave me his unconditional love. He gave me everything . . . everything." She paused again looking down at her gloved hands then she looked back up at them. "As far as his appearance, I think that he looks fantastic." A slow smile spread across her face. "Sorta like a proud lion. And best of all, he's mine." There was a fire in her eyes as she expressed her claim on David.

Tony stared at his sister for several seconds. The damaged little girl he remembered would never have stood up for herself like this. This young woman despite everything was confident and happy. After a moment he responded. "I'm still not at all sure about this David creature but I can't deny what these people have done for you." He glanced over at his wife who smiled back at him. "For now I will hold my peace. I think I would like to get to know this David better."

Sparrow smiled and nodded. "How long are you going to be in town?"

Sandra replied. "We are going to be here for five days. This is supposed to be a vacation."

"Tomorrow is my day off." She told them. "Why don't I meet you tomorrow morning and I'll give you an insider's tour of New York. Maybe you can even meet some more members of my new adopted family."

Tony was a little taken aback by her term 'new adopted family' but he and Sandra both said that they would like that very much. After about another half-hour Tony and Sandra left the brownstone for their hotel.

The next morning Cherry took Sparrow over to the hotel where her brother was staying. Tony and Sandra spent the entire day exploring New York with Sparrow as their guide. She started with a visit to the book store where she worked. Then it was on to the more popular sites in the downtown area. They had lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant that was owned by a helper.

After lunch they met up with Clarissa and went up to the top executive floor of the Wells-Chandler Foundation. There Tony and Sandra met several of David's family and learned how the foundation was connected to the Chandler-Wells family. They were surprised to learn that Clarissa was actually a direct descendant member of the family. They also learned that David was there being trained for an executive position in the foundation. The more Tony learned the more respect he developed for the family. He also found his objections and uncertainties melting away.

After they left the foundation Sparrow showed them around Central Park including a stop at the Vincent and Catherine 'Forever' monument where she told them a little bit about the origin of the Chandler-Wells family. Dinner was at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park.

They ended up the evening seeing a currently popular Broadway play from the reserved box seats owned by the Chandler-Wells family. By the time Tony and Sandra returned to their hotel that evening Tony was convinced that his little sister had ended up in an unbelievably fortunate situation and he really had nothing to complain about. Sandra made a comment that he seemed more upbeat than usual. As he thought about this he became aware that he was actually feeling lighter, more carefree than he could ever remember being. It seemed as though a weight that he didn't even realize was there had been lifted from him. It was the weight of his guilt over what had happened to his sister all those years ago that was gone. He still had a few reservations about David but he couldn't deny that David had been very good for Michelle/Sparrow and he had given her back her self-worth as well as a real chance at a happy life.

December 2060

David was in an exceedingly good mood as he prepared for his big date with Sparrow. Winterfest was only a week away and today was the first anniversary of the day they met. They were planning to spend the evening at that secluded ledge overlooking the waterfall lake. The bond between them was humming with the intensity of both of their emotions. They were both looking forward to this outing with a great deal of anticipation.

The last time Sparrow had gone down into David's world was last summer when he had taken her to that concert in the park. This would be her first time to see the waterfall lake that she had heard so much about. She grinned at her reflected image in the mirror. She still saw the scars but they no longer held her emotions prisoner. She had high hopes that this date would be something very special. She suspected that it could be an important turning point in their relationship and her mind swirled with the possibilities then she blushed down to her toes as she contemplated the type of turning point she was hoping it might be. A split second later she felt David's reaction to her emotions, he had a pretty good idea of the type of thoughts that had just been going through her head, and her blush deepened.

After getting her emotions back under control, her mind drifted to last week when Doctor Harold Peterson had performed her first complete annual checkup. Harold had been very pleased at how much improvement there had been in the condition of her lungs. He had told her that she should be able to handle both today's planned visit below and Winterfest next week without difficulty. He even predicted that within a couple of more years her lungs would be healed enough that she would be able to discontinue the monthly medical treatments and dispense with the whiffer on the occasions that she went below except possibly in a rare emergency when she was below for too long. He had hastened to add that even after that point it would still take a few more years before her lungs were strong enough to take constant daily exposure to the tunnel air without any medical help but, if she was patient, it would happen.

Her excitement grew as she felt David approaching her door. Sparrow took a whiff from the new container Doctor Peterson had given her of the special medicine then opened her door and joined David.

~ o ~

They stopped off at an apartment like chamber that David identified as being the one that Vincent had originally grown up in. Then they went to the library chamber where he grabbed a fairly standard looking lantern. Their next stop was the tunnel dining room where Lakeysha, the newest community chef, had a packed picnic basket waiting for them. David thanked her and waved to old Oscar who was setting up the back buffet for tonight's dinner. Then they were on their way again.

David led her far deeper than she had ever thought that the tunnels extended. Eventually they came to a barely noticeable crack in the side of the natural tunnel they were passing through. David set the lantern down in the middle of the opening about three feet into the hidden side tunnel then he led her into the hidden tunnel. He explained with a grin. "That lantern alerts anyone that comes this way that the place is occupied."

She raised her eyebrows at this hint that he was expecting privacy where they were going. The narrow tunnel wound for about two hundred yards and, as they made their way through it, she soon became aware of a faint rushing sound that increased in volume as they continued until it reached the level of a medium roar. Finally the tunnel opened out into a huge chamber. She found herself standing on a secluded ledge that looked out over a great underground lake. Over to the right about a few hundred feet away was a triple waterfall that was the source of the roaring sound as it fell into a large lake forty feet below them. The roof of the huge chamber was glowing with every color of the rainbow. The view was spectacular.

After giving Sparrow several minutes to take in the view, David unrolled a thick comforter and began setting up their picnic lunch. Sparrow finally dragged her eyes away from the view and sat down on the comforter beside David. They dug into the delicious lunch that had been prepared for them as David told her about how the Waterfall Lake had been discovered by Vincent and someone called Mouse and had since become a popular getaway for the tunnel community. He also told her about the discovery of the secret of the ledge they were on many years later.

After they had finished their lunch, they sat there on the comforter for a while and just talked. Then the talk turned to kissing and touching. Soon they were making-out which became increasingly more passionate. Their bond deepened as their actions became more intimate. One by one their clothes began to come off as their emotions began to quickly spiral out of control.

~ o ~

David and Sparrow were stretched out on the thick comforter, their clothes scattered around them. Even her Wig had ended up discarded with their clothes. David ran his hand gently along her scarred left arm. As was common with burn victims, the scarred skin was more sensitive than the undamaged skin. "Sparrow I want to tell you how much I love you but I can't seem to find words that are adequate to the task. None of the words of love that I know of can truly convey the depth of my feelings."

She shivered at his touch. "You don't need words David. Our bond tells me everything I need to know."

He responded. "Then let my emotions tell you of the strength of my love as I ask you . . . Sparrow my love, will you marry me?"

She was stunned. In all of her fantasies and dreams this was the one thing that she had never dared wish for, yet here he was gazing at her in all her scarred glory and offering her everything her heart desired. More importantly, she could feel over that incredible magical bond that this is what he really wanted with all his heart. She swallowed the lump in her throat as she blinked back the tears. She could see that he already felt her answer before she spoke it with a soft sigh. "Yes . . . Yes!"

A strong sense of purpose swept over David and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He needed to act here and now while the time and mood were right. David stood up and taking her hand urged her to stand up beside him and they both looked out over the gorgeous Waterfall Lake chamber. After a few quiet seconds, he turned and they stood face to face, naked, on the ledge beside the triple waterfall bathed in the soft multicolored light from the glowing moss. She could feel his love over the bond swelling, building as he gazed into her face.

He took both her hands in his. "Sparrow, my love . . . I have never encountered a soul as beautiful as you and I am forever thankful to whatever power guided me to you that day I found you. . . I declare to you before God and Nature that whatever the future holds for us, I pledge that my life, my heart, my love and my soul are forever bound to you, my best friend, my lover, my wife."

She was momentarily stunned by what he was doing then she started speaking, not quite sure what she was going to say. "You found me and guided me out of my darkness. You gave me the light. You turned the fire that burns into the fire that warms." She paused a moment trying to force her spinning mind to remember the exact words that he had just spoken. "David, my beloved . . . I declare to you before God and Nature . . . that whatever the future holds for us, I pledge that my life . . . my heart, my love and my soul are forever bound to you, my best friend, my lover, my husband."

They embraced and kissed to the cheering roar of the great triple waterfall. When they broke from that kiss David leaned back his head and cut loose with a roar that very nearly drowned out the sound of that waterfall. Then they were again kissing as they slowly dropped to their knees. Very soon the bond opened up wide and their hearts beat in unison as Sparrow, for the second time, experienced the true power of all consuming love then all coherent thought fled before a tidal wave of ecstasy.

An incredibly short eternity later the young couple lay in happy exhaustion side by side as they stared out across the roaring waterfalls and into the future of renewed hope.

The End


'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.