Since September 11, I put the rest of this fanfic on hold, wondering how to handle the tragedy. What follows is based purely on speculation. BTW I purposefully shifted the time frame of this final fan fiction series to 2005 as I wanted to showcase Claude's interaction with his daughter, who I aged to about six years old. (She was born in 1999) Imagine Frollo having to deal with an infant, or worse yet, a toddler! LOL
Besides, a baby in tow has a tendency to gum up — not to mention steal — the action. Not that I'd made Nadine a notorious scene stealer already!
Anyway, on with the final two installments of PEOPLE LIKE US...

People Like Us


Chapter 23

Time & Place: New York City, October 2005, a few days following Frollo's chat with Marie-Louise d'Arcy and Danisha's Aunt Nola. Along the Brooklyn Bridge, four people share a leisurely stroll. It is time for many reflections and wonderment — and for truths revealed. Read on...

This was not what he expected. When she said she'd treat him and his son to a trip to the "New World", nothing prepared him for the sights and sounds experienced over the course of three days. Évrard Ouimet, a man from late 1400's France, paused for a moment to savor the sight before him. In the brilliant pink of sunset, the Manhattan skyline loomed in the distance. Évrard was so overwhelmed by the sheer size of buildings — these skyscrapers — not to mention the city itself. Of course there were the marvelous technological advances that astounded him so. Those 19th Century prints son Orry showed him last summer didn't nearly resemble this vast metropolis.

Mon Dieu! Frollo was telling the truth! These New World people — these Americans —  have definitely carved for themselves a superpower unmatched on earth! To think, that I, a man from 1495 — more than 500 years in the past — have had the rare opportunity to see and marvel all this! And to think that my brother Philippe died without ever discovering the truth...

"Look, Father! There's the boat, the Circle Line, that travels around the city. Oh, may we take a ride on that?"
That was seven-year old son Orry who, hand-in-hand with six-year old Nadine Frollo, stood on the bridge and watched the many boats passing by, and marveling the spectacular skyline. But there was sorrow mixed with joy as Danisha Wood recalled painful events that occurred not that long ago.

"Évrard, I know this is still a cultural and transtemporal shock for you, seeing all this. But I wanted to show you...Here, look at this old picture postcard."
She handed over a card that showed the Manhattan skyline as it was back in 1999. Yes all buildings are still here, save two. Looking at the photo again, he noticed two extremely tall towers that dominated the view were no longer present.

"You didn't tell me what happened...Is that why you had your reservations about moving to this city?"
"Yes, although I managed to put the frightful memories behind me and all. At first I had reservations about moving here, but Claude encouraged me and...Well, since the resultant military response is a distant memory for everyone..."

Danisha, resplendent in a mink jacket, a long brown leather skirt, and color-coordinating sweater and boots, indicated the new construction on the spot where the twin towers formerly held court. She told Évrard Ouimet, himself clad in stylish 21st Century attire, about that fateful September day in 2001.

"I wasn't here, in this city, that is. I was back home working on projects and doing a little housework. My sister Cherie had just dropped by to take Nadine to school. It was to be a routine day..."

She took a deep breath as she watched the children, her daughter Nadine and Évrard's son Orry sitting on a bench, the boy lost in awe of the bridge itself.

Poor Orry!, she thought. The child was flabbergasted enough when he took that accidental time trip a few weeks ago, but now it's as if he's too overwhelmed. And I can safely say the same for his father. Évrard seemed so lost, so dumbstruck when we arrived the other day. He told me that he wasn't quite prepared for this — life and culture in 21st Century America. It's more of a burden for him than it was for Claude...

Claude Frollo...

That name swirled about as she continuously conjured mental images of the man. How much she missed him. As Nisha recanted to Évrard Ouimet the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, she also recalled how Claude was there to help ease her fears and apprehensions.
He took a special time trip after Jacki alerted him via TimeScape...He rushed to my side, to be with me, to comfort me... And I wish he was here now...All this remembrance is just too painful...

"Anyway, I had the television on, Today Show, I think. But I turned it off when Cherie came by. It wasn't quite eight o'clock. She always arrived early, to have coffee and visit while Nadine finished getting ready..."

"The phone rang. Must have been not five minutes after Cherie arrived. It was Momma; she told me to turn on the news. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center."

Then Nisha painfully recounted the drama and tragedy unfolding before her eyes. Évrard's eyes grew wide as he endeavored to fathom this incredibly shocking tale of cowardly and evil deeds, countless lives loss, overwhelming catastrophe happening too fast in three places at once. One plane crashed and burned into the first tower, then seconds later another. Both buildings where engulfed in flames instantly. Far to the south of New York, in the American capital, another plane crashed into the Pentagon, seat of American military might. That's what Évrard called it days ago when Danisha showed pictures of famous landmarks. Then a third plane, originally destined to crash into the Presidential Palais, only to miss its target by hundreds of miles. That plane crashed near a small town in Pennsylvania...

There were men on that plane who tried to overpower the hijackers, thus sending the craft far off course, away from its intended target. Those men died heroes; they saved this country's ruler...

Évrard's mind did flip-flops as he tried and tried to envision the full horror of two mighty towers collapsing in a heap of broken glass and concrete. Hundreds of souls lost their lives in a blink of an eye; others who answered the call to duty died as well. Then the tears, the anger, the outrage...Then the response...

"Yes, Danisha. I don't believe in waging war for frivolous reasons. Believe me that in my time we've had one long skirmish after another...But your country's response to this heinous attack was divinely justified. Those responsible paid dearly for their crimes, and are suffering righteous torment in the next life..."

He voiced his concerns and sentiments as any man of his time, and Nisha understood those sentiments. He also voiced commentary on New Yorkers' — and "New Worldites'" —  will to live and move forward. Glancing at the rising edifice still shrouded in scaffolding, Évrard said, "My dear, your country has been through the most traumatic events these past years, yet your country's people always rise above adversity with a resolve and determination that I find most admirable..."

He leaned forward to kiss her lips but she moved away from his touch. So many times since Nisha seeming gave Frollo his "walking papers", Évrard had hoped that he could merely, in due time, win this woman over. But it was not that simple, for she had not quite gotten over Frollo. Évrard had to know now whether the love he kindled with "Dottie Ducharme" was the same as his love for Danisha.

He caught her again, taking advantage of her pensive mood. He lifted her face to his then kissed her full on the lips. it was a long, sweet, lingering kiss that finally sent the message home. Releasing her, Évrard's gray eyes gazed into Nisha's deep brown. He shook his head in final realization and said, "It is not the same, for you didn't respond as Dottie did...And how...?"

She replied, "No, Évrard. It is not the same. That's what I've been trying to tell you for the longest. You fell in love with "Dorothy", not me, not with Danisha...I don't feel the same with you as I do with Claude. I mean, I thought I was over him, but I'm not. I never will be..."
"Now I know the truth, Nisha," Évrard Ouimet replied sadly but with resolution. "You and Frollo belong together. Why didn't I see that before?"
Nisha softly laughed, saying, "Don't worry. I know you thought things would work out, but...Deep down I want Claude to come walking across this bridge right now. There are so many things we need to say to each other..."

Her voice trailed off as the children approached their parents. She laughed again, only to tell Évrard, "We can still be good friends, and I do consider you one of my best friends on earth,  in both this century and the 15th. When the time comes, I truly want Orry and Nadine to...Well, you know..."
Both shared a hearty laugh, remembering cousin Clarice's wish to pair the children as husband and wife in about fifteen years or so.
"But I want Nadine to finish school, earn her degrees, get herself established in a career and everything. You understand this, don't you?"

Before Évrard could answer, Nisha's TimeScape — that wondrous transtemporal communicator/transporter  — beeped madly. "Whoever could that be?", she asked as she flipped open the communicator. Across the screen scrolled an urgent message; Nisha nearly passed out upon reading. Naturally Évrard was quite distressed as he inquired, "Not bad news I trust." "No, Évrard, but...Oh my goodness! We have to return to the hotel at once. Something's happened to Julian..."

And what did that message say?


I am here at your hotel. The desk clerk said you were out with friends, and I assumed those friends are Évrard and Orry. Come here at once as it concerns Julian and Claude. There is much to discuss so please hurry back. I'll meet you in Palm Court upon your return.

P.S. That reporter, M. Wade, has been returned to his time, but not without a stern warning from Claude. That man will never harass you or Nadine ever again. I will explain once you arrive.

Meanwhile, back at the Plaza, another figure settles in Palm Court...
He sat at the table all alone, nursing a glass of excellent Merlot as he pondered ways to win back a lost love. No, it's not really lost, just she says..."the outs."  He smiled as an idea came to him as quickly as a pair of uniformed Marines entered the elegant room. Yes, ask a favor of one these gallant gentlemen, perhaps I can rekindle a memory...

"Claude, there you are."

Claude Frollo looked up in the direction of the voice, then he smiled again as he greeted his brother. Both men had made their amends long ago, for it was Jehan who so instrumental in nabbing the Marquecoin brothers — the very men responsible for Minister Ouimet's murder.  Jehan was also partially responsible for rescuing Orry Ouimet from the boy's forced captivity. However, there was sadness mixed with anticipation of renewed love, for Jehan had informed Claude earlier that day of Julian's passing. On this meeting, Jehan carried a parcel which contained a videotape. On that tape was Julian's last will and testament to be viewed once Danisha and Évrard arrived. Jehan could not reveal much as Julian never elaborated the tape's actual contents.

"He said, just before he died, that there were no hard feelings, Claude."

To this Claude Frollo replied, "No hard feelings? Whatever for? The man was a godsend to me, to all of us if truth be known..."

Frollo's eyes scanned the room, alighting on those soldiers. His mouth curved into a slight grin as he addressed Jehan. "My dear brother, do you see those soldiers sitting there?"
Jehan nodded but didn't know what his brother was up to. Claude then said, "Jehan, I'm ready to make amends with Danisha but will need help from those gentlemen..."

Jehan was rather puzzled, and quickly changed the subject. "Er, Claude? I'm concerned about another matter, and that is M. Auburn Wade. What truly happened to that man?"

Claude's grin grew even wider as he briefly recounted how M. Wade got his comeuppance. Apparently while, for the last time,  Frollo wrapped official business at the Palais, the captain came forth and informed Frollo that Quasimodo brought Wade and literally dumped the man on the steps. It took hours of intense interrogation, plus a healthy dose of "that good old medieval justice" to cure M. Wade of his insatiable curiosity.

"Jehan, do you remember how I dispatched M. Bell, that vile man who tormented Nisha those many years ago?"

Jehan's grin broadened to match his brother's in recollection and nodded with delight at Claude's recount. Auburn Wade was "made" to vow never to harass Danisha, Nadine, or any of Frollo's "New World" friends again. The hapless reporter was soon dispatched back the the 21st Century with a stern lecture and warning — and a well worded threat.
"If he," explained Claude, "so much as contacts Nisha or her family, he will pay, and pay dearly!"

About a half hour passed, and, upon finishing his wine, Claude Frollo, noticed two familiar figures entering the restaurant. Now to make his move. He arose from the table and made his way toward those Marines. What he said to them was so earnest, so heartwarming, that they wholeheartedly agreed to Frollo's request.


Danisha had sent the children to the suite with the nanny for she wanted to treat Évrard to cocktails. Then, after a private dinner with the children, it was off to an elegant party given by one of Nisha's agent's friends.
"It's to be really swanky, Évrard. Imagine! One of those elegant soirées in an Upper East Side penthouse...You have got to see this woman's place! The view from her terrace is spectacular..."

They hadn't settled five minutes before a very handsome and commanding U.S. Marine approached the table. He immediately introduced himself then stated his mission.

"Corporal Christopher Washum USMC, Miss Wood. Beg pardon for intruding, miss, but I have a message for you..."

What? A fan already? Danisha blushed as she leaned over to Évrard and said, "If you will excuse me, but someone's read my book and wants an autograph...I had no idea it would come to this."

She laughed as she excused herself from Évrard Ouimet's company, and Évrard was only happy to oblige her. As soon as Nisha departed, Évrard asked the corporal, "Sir, would this 'fan' happen to be an elegant French gentleman?"

"Why yes, sir, he is."

Évrard Ouimet felt both relief and sadness, for the woman he had hoped to make his own was finally reuniting with the man to whom she truly belonged. But what does the future hold for Évrard? Only the contents of Julian's videotaped will held the answers.

Of course part of Évrard's future began to unfold as a feminine voice with a pronounced tony Upper Westside accent addressed him.
"You must be that Ouimet fellow Danisha talks about so much. I've seen your son, and is he a doll or what?"
Évrard's eyes lit upon the statuesque blonde standing before him. She was gorgeous, elegant beyond compare, clad in Prada from head to toe. With twinkling laughter to match her outrageous personality, she apologized for not introducing herself.

"I'm sorry!," she said as she offered her hand, "Jolley Kingston, Nisha's literary agent..."
Évrard returned the laughter and graciously replied, "Mlle Kingston, enchanté...I am Évrard Ouimet, son of François and Serena Ouimet..."
He glanced to the far end of the room where Danisha had gone to meet the "fan."

With another flashy smile, he rejoined, "...and a good friend of both Claude Frollo and Nisha Wood...Er, Mlle Kingston, would you be so kind to share with me this carafe of fine Burgundy?"


Danisha made her way through the crowded bar, only to arrive at an empty table. Huh? Is this some kind of joke?, she thought. Suddenly she felt a tap to her shoulder then heard that familiar baritone addressing her the way he did those many years ago, when they first met.

"I hope I did not frighten you by sending that solider, but it was the only way to meet you."

She wheeled around to face him. He spoke in gentle earnest tones as he extended his hand to hers.

"My name is Claude Frollo. And what is yours?"

Tears welled in Nisha's eyes as she replied the familiar line, "My name in Danisha Wood, but my friends call me Nisha...Oh Claude!"

To the cheers of every patron in that room, especially those of Évrard Ouimet, Claude Frollo and Danisha Wood collapsed into each other's arms, passionately kissing and joyously weeping.

At last, the foundation sealed firm again, the bond forever cemented. Nothing could break them apart again.

But what telling truths were on that videotape? What legacies (and shockers) did Julian leave our time-traveling lovers?


To Chapter 24

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