by A.N.D.

Tunnelcon I fanzine (and if you get a copy, Cheryl DuVal's illo for this story is not to be missed!) PG-13 for a few comments but nothing really graphic.

Vincent was having a bad day. A worse than bad day. Worse than worse, even, as Mouse would put it. Vincent couldn't put into words how bad a day he was having, mostly because Father didn't let him use language like that.

He'd gone Above to visit a helper and been seen and chased by a gang of toughs. As he'd run down an alley to escape them, he'd run straight into the territory of a possessive pit bull. Dispatching the dog, he'd found himself staring down the barrel of a shotgun being waved by the dog's owner. Running blindly from that threat, he'd stumbled right into the street just in time to be run over by a car. He scrabbled pitifully along the side of the street until he found a storm drain and managed to wrench off the cover and fall gracelessly through it just in time to avoid detection by the driver of the car looking for "that damn dog that ran right out in front of me."

Bruised, breathless, bitten, battered, and now sopping wet with sewer water, Vincent was staggering homeward, relaxing slightly in the knowledge that he was home and therefore safe.

Then the tunnel caved in on top of him.

He almost gave up and died right there, simply for the rest it would afford him, but Vincent wasn't the surrendering type. A little exploration revealed that the cave-in didn't extend far; there was only a little rubble that had fallen. Mostly on him. He wearily dug himself out and made it without further incident back to his own chamber and collapsed on the bed.

Which promptly collapsed out from under him.

It was too much. Vincent closed his eyes and accepted whatever fate might come his way. "Why does it seem as though the world is conspiring to hurt me?" he asked the air.

A bright white flare made him open his eyes again. Squinting through the doorway, he could just make out the shape of someone - a woman - wearing diaphanous draperies and interestingly backlit by klieg lights.

"Come with me," Catherine's voice crooned.

Vincent got up, vaguely surprised that his injuries weren't bothering him so much. His healing factor must have finally kicked in. And if Catherine had suddenly developed the habit of wearing wispy little costumes and running around in lighting that made said costumes totally transparent, he held hopes that his night was about to get much better.

But as he approached, she backed up. "Where are you going?" he asked in frustration.

"You asked a question. I am here to show you the answer," Catherine told him, her voice echoing eerily.

"Oh, no, not again!" Vincent moaned under his breath as he trotted obediently after her.

The spirit of Catherine led him down a long tunnel which opened into a living room. It looked like any generic Above living room, as least as much as Vincent could see of it, for most of it was randomly covered by paper and soda bottles. Three women were sitting together; one was typing industriously into a computer, another typing equally industriously on an electric typewriter, and the last was writing scribbled longhand into a notebook. The one with the typewriter was talking. As they got closer, Vincent could start to make out the words over the music playing on their stereo.

"...If you think the one where Catherine gets amnesia, turns Vincent in to the ASPCA, and marries Elliot is good, wait until you see the next story I plan to do! Vincent gets caught by the Silks again and they beat him up but he gets away and gets nursed back to health by that hooker, what's-her name from No Way Down, but after he gets healthy and goes home he hears that she's been kidnapped by white slavers and he has to go rescue her but he gets caught and gets shot and in the end he dies in Catherine's arms saying 'Promise me you'll find another man to love. Live the happy life we were never meant to have together.'"

"Oooooohhhhhhhhhh, that's SO romantic!" sighed the other two.

"But," the one at the computer added, "I still like my story where Vincent slips off the top of the subway during rush hour and gets run over by the Upper West Side express and Catherine has to keep him in her apartment for weeks while he recuperates."

The one with the notebook smiled. "Just wait until you see what I'm working on!"

"What is it?" the others asked breathlessly.

"Not telling 'til it's finished," she said, curling protectively over the notebook.

"All the things that have happened to you are caused by these women and others like them," the ghost of Catherine murmured.

"Why do they hate me so much to wish such pain upon me?"

"They do not hate you, they love you."

"Then why do they hurt me so? Why can't they let me be happy?"

The ghost shrugged. "You always hurt the one you love. Remember that. Remember love. Remember..."

"Wrong episode," Vincent said, shaking her.

Catherine paged through the script until she found her place again. "They hurt you so that they might have the pleasure of comforting you. The worse the hurt, the more comfort to follow."

"Even so," Vincent pleaded, "is there no one who wants me to be happy?"

"She does," the ghost said, pointing at the frantically scribbling writer. "She wants us to have all that a love like ours leads to."

Vincent perked up. "I shall look forward to being in that story."

The spirit raised an eyebrow at him. Just then, the doorbell rang and Vincent shrank back into what shadows there were. There weren't too many, considering that Catherine was running around with a full complement of footlights. The women in the room all jumped to their feet as if their chairs had suddenly been electrified.

"The delivery man!" one gasped and with the chorused battle cry of "PIIIIIZZZZZAAAA!!!!" they stampeded en masse out of the room.

Vincent crept over to the notebook, eager for a glimpse of a more gentle, loving future.

Catherine's eyes widened. When Lisa had told her Vincent's measurements, she hadn't realized that the dancer was discussing diameter!

Vincent paused, resisting the urge to look down and reassure himself that it wasn't true. He quickly skimmed the rest of the page and saw lurid prose full of pants, groans, claws, moans, fangs, tongues, and medical impossibilities. It read like an unhappy marriage between Grey's Anatomy and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

He swallowed hard and turned to Catherine. "Please take me home," he whispered. "I don't want to see any more."

She walked towards him, reaching her spectral arms out. "It will be all right. It never happened. It will never happen. It never..."

"...happened to you, Vincent?" Catherine's voice was shrill with worry and she gripped his sore shoulder far too tightly as she tried to shake him awake.

Vincent lurched to complete awareness and wished he hadn't. Every inch of him ached. "It was all a dream," he said dazedly.

"What was?" Catherine asked, smoothing his hair back gently. "What happened to you?"

"Oh, Catherine, I dreamt that there were hundreds, thousands of people who wanted to see me hurt and were writing stories about it..." his voice trailed off as Catherine leaned forward over his now concave bed, giving him a wonderful cleavage shot and reminding him why all the fans were hurting him. If this was the comfort part, he put on his most pathetic "pity the kitty" sulk and prepared to make the most of it.

"Oh, you poor thing," Catherine crooned and kissed his cheek. Which would have been nice if his cheekbone hadn't been fractured. At his grunt of pain, she apologized and tried kissing his mouth, smashing his split lip against a broken tooth. She sat back as he whimpered and asked practically, "Well, where doesn't it hurt?"

"Here!" Vincent snapped, pointing at his right elbow. "That doesn't hurt!"

But he was wrong. It did. Still, he'd take whatever kissing he could get, so Vincent tried to relax as the tune he'd heard in that living room replayed in his mind.

I've got those knifed, laser-blasted, torn apart and simply shafted victim of fanfiction blues!-


"Mary Sue Fanfiction Blues" by MS Holmes and Julie Ecklar

Author's note: It's hard to remember that there was a time when more fanfiction was written longhand or on typewriters than on computer!