Brandy

 

Mycroft Holmes


 

Author’s Note:  This is my first BATB fic.  Hopefully not my last : ).  But I almost always write nonfic.  So don’t hold your breath ; ).  I made my fatal mistake when I admitted I could and did write ; ).  Ah, well.  You live and you learn : ).  Seriously, thanks to those that encouraged me.  It meant a lot.  At least since I joined the BATB fandom, I have been thinking about writing a fanfic.  And at least since I said so, it has been hard to get started.  Then one night, home after work, a song came on the radio (it appears at the bottom of the story), and the Fanfic Fairy finally paid me a visit.  I believe all inspiration is Divine.  But I want to thank a couple of people.  That same week, I read Kayla's incredible story "The Air That I Breathe."  As a Writer I have always been most inspired by reading.  Thanks to all the BATB fanficers, whom I have read and loved.  And thanks to Annette, for sending me a VCD of "To Reign In Hell".  Watching BATB for the first time since the first run gave me that final push.

 

Plus I notice “Brandy” has been on the radio a whole heck of a lot since I first publicly promised to write a fic.  Have you fanfic addicts been harassing Boston radio stations?  

 

In the end, I wrote the story that I wanted to read.  And that I wanted to be real.  I hope, whatever your POV, you will enjoy it.

 

Warning:  this fic contains filk; really, I guess it’s a songfic.  AND, it’s a Marty Stu (Mary Sue) story.  Oh, no!!  ; )  Just so’s you know : ). 

 

 

Spring had sprung in Boston.  Not permanently.  That hadn’t happened in a few years.  It had been one of those strange days, that can still be considered Springy.  It was not warm but not cold.  Not dry, but not raining.  When the sun set a damp chill came on, along with a heavy hanging mist.  But these were more refreshing than unpleasant.  

 

Charter Street was quiet tonight.  Even more so than Hanover, which was resting between weekends.  It was only half filled with streetlight and the smell of the sea.  The other half was memories.  They blew around like the black and white flyers for Café Podima, escaped from the front halls.  This was the street where Paul Revere had died.  The line of small apartment buildings broke at one point, marked by two gray granite posts with a weathered but heavy metal chain between them.  Beyond this barrier to cars was a small park.  It stretched into the next street, bordered on all sides by more apartments, and on one by Greenough Lane. 

 

In two second story windows overlooking this courtyard, the lights were on.  A cheery yellow glow filled the small cube that served as both kitchen and dining room.  A young man moved around in the center of the room, brandishing a spatula with a certain sense of drama.  At his feet a dog circled, attentive and hungry as always. 

 

The man was not tall, dark, or handsome. He was shortish, paleish, and cuteish. And rather skinny. He had short brown hair and large blue eyes. The hair stood up after too much of running his hands through it. The eyes stood out as he concentrated on cooking. It was late and he was making dinner. He wore a Starfleet Academy tee shirt and blue jeans. His feet were bare, a celebration of this being the first night of the year he could do that. Not to mention have a window open.  In further celebration, he had his radio in the window and on loudly.  He had fiddled with the dials for a while… what did he feel like tonight?  Classical?  No.  Oldies?  Not really.  Classic Rock?  Ah.  That was it. 

 

The dog, in contrast, was very tall, very dark, and very handsome.  She had coal black hair and deep brown eyes.  But she was even skinnier than her Master.  In hopes of remedying this, she followed the man’s spatula with her eyes, and his feet with her own.

 

The pot bubbled and the boy stirred.  Songs came and went.  He hummed and swayed.  The dog worried and paced.  Suddenly a song came on and the man smiled broadly.  He’d know those opening bars anywhere.  “Ah!”  he said to the dog.  “This is a good one.”  He began to sing along, dividing his attention between the watched pot and the watching dog.  “There's a port--on a western bay…and it serves--a hundred ships a day…lonely sailors--pass the time away…and talk about their homes…”.  The man laughed.  An oldie but goodie.  And now…it reminded him of something.  Something new.  He stopped and thought.  The dog sat.  Of course!  Brandy.  “Hey, Freddie!”  he said to the puzzled beast.  “The dude who wrote this song knew a girl called Brandy.  And now we know one, too.  Your new friend.  Huh?  The old Golden, who looks like a coffee table.  With the nice mom.  Right?”  The dog stood up.  Now what was this about?  The Master was known for his digressions.  Was this going to lead to food?  She had had her kibbles.  But that was hardly what you would call dinner.  The man started to sing along again, this time changing the words.  “The neighbors say:  Brandy!  You’re a fine dog!  What a good dog, you could be!  But…”.  He was overcome by a giggle fit.  When he could breathe again, he continued.  “Or how about…  Freddie!  You’re a fine dog!  What a good dog, you could be!  Yeah, your eyes could steal a squirrel, from the trees…” 

 

The dog frowned, and cocked her head.  First left, then right.  What was he singing about?  Something about her… and her friend…  Then he started throwing her a piece of pasta with each high note.  She decided she liked this song.  “FINE girl!... FINE girl!...GOOD wife!...”  Pasta, pasta, pasta.  Yes, she reflected, they made beautiful music together.  She dexterously extended her long pink tongue and made sure to get all the sticky stuff off of her muzzle.  The man grinned down at her.  “GOOD dog!...”   He turned the radio up higher, then went back to his singing and flinging. 

 

The music spilled over the sill, fell out the window, and landed on the cobblestones below.  It pooled around the couple standing there.  Catherine turned her face up towards the light and listened intently.  She started to laugh.  Then she started to hum along.  Vincent followed her line of hearing, but was still puzzled.  Like most popular music, he didn’t recognize this song.  Catherine had taught him much during their marriage, including a wide variety of music from Above.  But this one wasn’t ringing a bell, so to speak.  “You know this song, Catherine?”  He asked.  “You…like it?” 

 

Catherine smiled, a bit sheepishly.  “It’s… well, it’s kind of silly, Vincent.  But yes, I like it.  I always have.  It’s a sort of…golden oldie?  A kind of classic.”  She paused, remembering.  “God, when did this come out…?  It must have been the early seventies…  Oh, yes!  I remember.  1972, it must have been.  Yes, that’s right!  The Summer.  It was always on the radio.”  She laughed.  “I was in high school.”   She let the music move her body.  She couldn’t help it.  She was aware of her joy at the simple song, and at Vincent’s admiring eyes.  Softly, she started to sing.  Like the boy above, she couldn’t resist changing the words.  “Vincent… you’re a fine man… what a good husband, you have been…”  She closed her eyes and continued to the next chorus.  When she opened them, she found his blue ones had filled with tears.  “Oh, Vincent!  My only love.  You know it’s true, don’t you?”

 

Vincent moved closer and cupped her cheek in his hand.  “I…” he began, and had to pause a moment before he could speak again.  “I believe so, Catherine.  I believe that you love me.  And that you love our life.  I even believe…that I have been a good husband.  The best husband that I could be.  But it still moves me so…to hear you say it.” 

Catherine placed her hand over his.  Her green eyes began to tear as well.  “Vincent…  I could not have asked for a better life.  Or a better love.  I would never joke about that.  You know…this was written by a young man, for his lady love.”  Vincent smiled.  Now that, he understood.  He held out his arms and she moved into them.  They swayed in time to the music.  When they could take their eyes away from each other, they looked up into the canopy of early foliage.  They felt they had their own private ballroom.  It mirrored the Great Hall, below their feet and many miles to the West. 

 

When the song reached the bridge, Catherine pulled away, smiling mischievously.  "Now..." she said hopefully, "you try." Vincent knew exactly what she meant.  He ducked his head. Catherine placed her hand under his chin and tilted it up until their eyes met. She looked up at him. "Please, Vincent?" He regarded her. He could not resist that look. He could not resist her. He wondered, now, why he had spent so many years trying. He sighed, and softened. He knew that she saw it.

 

Very softly, he began to sing.  “Catherine… you’re a fine girl… what a fine wife, you have been… yes, your eyes could steal this sailor from the sea…”.  He blushed, barely visible in the lamplight.  Catherine clapped, also very softly.  “Thank you, Vincent,” she said.  “Thank you so much.  For…everything.”  She sighed, happily.  “I’m glad our love story was happier than that couple’s.  Aren’t you?  The ones in the song.  Brandy and her man.”  He could only nod, and draw a hand through her hair. 

 

The song drew to a close and faded out. It was replaced by the babble of commercials. In the apartment, the man paused in his cooking. He turned the radio off and thought that it was time for a little television. He felt a draft from the open window and moved towards it, almost tripping over the dog as she hurried to do the same. "Freddie!" He paused and watched her. She had raised her nose to forty-five degrees and was sniffing very curiously. She rested her chin on the window sill, then jumped up and stood to look out, her front paws and claws gripping the already deeply scarred wood. The man moved to stand behind her. "What? What is there? What do you smell?" The dog darted a look at him, indicating that it was obvious. Why was the Master so strange after the sun set? Sometimes the man walked right into her, in a room where he didn't have a lamp on. She would watch him, as he cursed, hopped, and rubbed his shin, and wonder what he meant by "dark" and "black". She would never understand humans. Couldn't he see the couple right below them? Couldn't he at least smell them? Leather, candles, roses, earth, wet stone…  She whined and started to growl. They were so close...and the male was so unusual. And they were strangers to her. She wanted to go out there. She had to sniff and kiss them. It was her mission in life. "That's enough, Freddie. Is it one of your friends? Hmm?" He brought his nose as close to the screen as hers. "I don't think so. I don't hear them. We'll go out later, okay?" He smiled indulgently. "You know I love you. But you're a crazy puppy." The dog cried. "Freddie, really. It's getting chilly. You're fine. Fine." He closed the window with a soft snuck of weatherstripping. He lifted her paws and set her down on the floor again, then stroked her head until she calmed. He knuckled the bony ridge between her ears and murmured praises. The dog smiled indulgently. He was a good Master. Even if he was crazy. And he always kept his promises. They would go out later. And she would follow the trail of the strangers, wherever it led.

 

Vincent and Catherine stood together in the darkened park, seeing it for the first time in lamplight.  She turned to get a better look behind her, and found a sign nestled against the trees.  It was almost new, light green enamel on metal with bright white printing.  “CHARTER STREET PLAYGROUND” it said.  “How charming, Vincent!  It must be the playground for the school across the street.  Did you see it, as we passed?”

 

“I did, indeed…” he said, then broke off, showing amusement. 

 

“What…?” 

 

"The school. It's called... the Eliot."

 

She couldn't help but laugh. "Small world."

 

"Yes, my love."

 

Catherine now turned in a slow circle, her skirt swirling. Vincent looked on, entranced. After years of marriage, she still had the power to cast a spell over him. And somehow he knew that she always would. When she reached about seven o'clock, she spotted the seal.

 

It was a cement statue, coated with a paint that really resembled the coat of a seal. It was as large as an adult Harbor seal, and as graceful. It stood alone, on a raised cobblestone section of the park, regarding a small garden patch. It was simple yet charming, its only detail a metal spigot sprouting from its upturned nose. Catherine peered closely, and realized the statue had at one time doubled as a fountain. She clapped her hands, delighted. She fairly danced around the silent statue. Vincent watched and his eyes danced with her. She stopped and faced him, her left hand resting on the seal's appropriately cold and wet nose. "Oh, Vincent! We must have a picture of this."

 

Vincent regarded her, and could not help but think he saw her as a young girl, in the years before they met. This thought brought him joy, then a twinge of sadness as he thought of her father. Her eyes and her smile widened still further, as if she caught his thoughts. She brought him back to the moment and himself, as she always did. She danced up to him, kissed him lightly, and began to rummage in the battered leather satchel Father had lent him for the trip. He laughed, disentangled himself and set the bag on the ground before her. "So impatient, Catherine..." he smiled down at her, shaking his head. His mane swung, glinting gold in the lamplight. She grinned up at him, then buried her arms up to the elbows. She was impatient. And yet she could be infinitely patient, when it was important. She had always been so patient with him. Indeed, her patience had seen them through all the way to this day... to this happy life...

 

Again she brought him back. "Aha!" She stood up quickly, brandishing the camera. An old Hasselblad, almost as battered as the satchel that housed it. Both were old, and worn, and sometimes difficult to manage. Some even considered them obsolete. But they were well loved, and often still useful. Like Father, the thought came to her unbidden. She barely suppressed a giggle with her hand. She cleared her throat as Vincent frowned at her curiously. "Catherine?"   "Come on, Vincent... let's take a picture." She readied the camera, then paused. "Hmm... we'll need the timer." She bent and struck, like a shore bird, then straightened with the small device in her hand. Mouse's bon voyage gift to them had been a new timer for the old camera. He had realized they would want to take many pictures with both of them in the frame. So thoughtful. Catherine smiled, thinking of the boy... no, a man, now. Spending most of his time and energy at MIT. And yet he still took time off to visit the Tunnels, and provide the residents with his unique technical expertise. Hmph!  Father would say.  Taking time off from the President's Office, more like it. I've never known a student with so many disciplinary actions...!  Explosion this, strange odours that... And he a grown man, with a fellowship.  Catherine's giggles returned. Now she shared her thoughts with Vincent. He chuckled, nodding in agreement. He took the camera from Catherine's hands, and bade her take her position with the seal. She thought for a moment, then straddled it as if she was riding the creature through the waves. She pulled Vincent behind her, and astride the benign beast. As the shutter clicked, both thought that even without a momento, they could never forget this moment. Nor this night.   

 

They walked to the camera and stowed it safely away. "Everyone will love that shot," Catherine predicted. "Especially Mouse." A thought struck her. "Of course you realize, Vincent... Mouse will try to make us one. Our very own seal, for our Chamber."

 

Vincent considered this. "Well. There are worse things." A moment later, a worse thought struck him. It was chilly as the night air was becoming.

 

"But, Catherine--?"

 

"Yes, Vincent?"

 

"Please... let us never tell him it was once a fountain."

 

She laughed so hard she had to press her face into his vest, to stifle the sound. Against her cheeks she felt the familiar rumble that meant he shared her humor. When they regained their composure, she released him, and they continued their exploration of the small park. Vincent's eyes lit upon a small chess table and chairs, all in cement with the board inlaid in stone and metal. "Look, Catherine..." he breathed. She followed his line of sight. She hardly needed the Bond to hear and grant his wish. She retrieved the camera again, and took a shot of him seated at the table. Father would enjoy this immensely. Vincent remained seated, tracing the chessboard thoughtfully with one claw. Catherine set the camera down on the table and herself down on his lap. He circled his other arm around her waist. He sighed, with contentment. But also with thought. "You miss him, don't you, Vincent?"  He nodded. "I do, my dear. I know…that we both wanted and needed this...vacation." The word still sounded funny to both of them. Such a thing was still a rare treat. Vincent continued. "And I know that he can manage without us. And that he can reach us. But..." Now it was Catherine's turn to nod. "I know, Vincent. And I understand. And..." Vincent turned her a little, to regard the side of her face. She smiled as if she was trying not to. "Well... don't you tell him I said so.  But... I miss him, too." He smiled and held her tighter. She felt his leather pouch, her rose within it, press into the nape of her neck. He felt his crystal, still secure on its golden chain, graze the back of his hand.

 

At last she stood, and faced him. He looked up at her, and their eyes locked. She extended her arm, and he took her hand. She drew him up, and they turned their faces towards the street. "Come, Vincent," she whispered. "There's so much to see..."

 

The lovers moved on, as the fog followed them.  Up Charter Street, and into Copp’s Hill Park.  They moved to the wall and watched the water.  On the far side, Charlestown glittered and gleamed.  The Constitution rocked gently, its hull shining faintly, its black and white paint glistening.  The Bunker Hill monument glowed palely against the dark sky.  Only the North Star could be seen above.  On the Hill behind them, the dead, famous and infamous together, slept in the Burying Ground.  At Catherine’s request, Vincent lifted her to sit on the wall.  Then lifted her down and gathered her within his cloak, when the stone became too cold.  They watched the city, noting the pieces of past and present, a jostling puzzle on the distant shore.  They thought of all those, lovers and others, who had come before, and those that would come after.  They hoped that those who stood on this spot in later days would be as happy. 

 

At last she turned in his arms, and he bent his head to regard her.  She smiled in the way he had finally learned to recognize as an invitation, and he bent his head still further.  Their lips met in a kiss, which deepened until both desperately needed the night air. 

 

In the peaceful pause that followed, she looked at him.  Really looked.  She saw him with love’s eyes, as she always did.  She saw him as he had been, and as everything he could be.  It took a certain effort to see him just as he was now.  Certainly he was the same Vincent as ever.  The same man as ever.  Yet he had grown.  And changed. 

 

Vincent cocked his head at her.  She smiled.  Almost laughed.  Yes, that was the same.  She hoped it would never change.  The way he watched her.  The way he listened.  Who else could do that?  No one. 

 

“Just looking,” she said, in answer to his unspoken question. 

 

“And what do you see, my Catherine?”  My.  Mine.  There was still a little thrill through her, whenever she heard this.  And she could feel his pride in saying it, and at sensing her response. 

 

She thought of all she could say… and then she reveled in the realization that she had a lifetime to do so.  “Just you,” she said.  “Just the man I love.” 

 

His smile then showed all his teeth, even those beautiful fangs.  Hers mirrored it. 

 

They took each other’s hand and turned to leave the darkened park. 

 

As they walked away, something troubled her.  Vincent felt this and turned to face her.  “What troubles you, my love?” 

 

“Vincent, there’s something I need…” 

 

His heart constricted and his mind raced.  Old habits are hard to break. 

 

She felt his fears and spoke.  “No, Vincent!  That’s not what I mean.  All I need is you.  Tonight is perfect.  It’s just…”

 

“Tell me.”

 

“I need… a cannoli.”

 

There was a pause.

 

“With… chocolate chips.  And possibly… powdered sugar.  We are in Little Italy, Vincent.” 

 

His deep, gentle laughter was carried back on the breeze. 

 

Above them in the trees, a squirrel turned in his sleep and thought vaguely that the tourists were getting stranger every year. 

 

Down the street, a half-awake dog barked, scenting both man and beast.  In the same room, his master rolled over and muttered “Freddie!  No!  No woof.” 

 

Then, again, the North End was as peaceful and poignant as love. 

 

~ THE END ~     

 

Mycroft Holmes

North End, Boston

May 2003 / Iyyar 5763

 

 

“Brandy”

(Looking Glass ~ words & music by Elliot Lurie)

 

(C)opyright 1971 & 1972 by Evie Music,Inc. and Spruce Run Music. Chappell

& Co., Inc., publisher and administrator. International copyright secured.

All rights reserved including public performance for profit. Any copying,

arranging or adapting of this work without the consent of the owner is an

infringement of copyright.

 

 

There's a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there's a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin' whiskey down
They say "Brandy, fetch another round"
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea"

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loves

He came on a summer's day
Bringin' gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn't stay
No harbor was his home

The sailor said "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor stories
She could feel the ocean foam rise
She saw its ragin' glory
But he had always told the truth, lord, he was an honest man
And Brandy does her best to understand

At night when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who's not around
She still can hear him say

She hears him say "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"

"Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)

"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"