Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, brother John, brother John?
Mourning bells are ringing, mourning bells are ringing, ding dong dong.
Ding dong dong.

3:07 am

“Tate!!!! Phone!!!!”

Tate groaned and slumped over the computer keyboard in defeat. How come the phone was always for him? He typed a quick goodbye to Jay, shut the messenger off, and bolted for the nearest phone. “Got it!” he bellowed back before picking up. “Hello?”

“Tate? It’s...Eric.”

He couldn’t stop a grin at that. None of them were quite sure how they fitted together even now. Sure gives new meaning to dysfunctional family. “Hey Dad. What’s up?”

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. “I know we were doing dinner tomorrow night, but....” There was a definite hitch in his voice. “Something came up. I’m afraid I’ve got to cancel.”

“Is everything ok? Is Mom alright?” Tate bit his lip, not liking the tone in his father’s voice. There was something half hysterical, half sorrowful almost ready to break free.

“Riah’s fine.” Eric sniffed and cleared his throat. “Try to keep her calm, will you?”

“Calm? What do you mean, calm? Doesn’t she -”


“Dad? Dad!” There was only the dial tone. He growled and slammed the phone down. “Shit.” He turned and bolted for the roof, barely pausing to snatch a cell phone and bellow his intentions to Silicon.

There were few times Tate wished he’d actually learned how to drive (not to mention the little problem of getting his hands on a car), but this had to be one. He kept up a silent litany of curses as he glided over roads and houses, going mostly cross-country rather than taking the slower but more familiar route by road. He was almost halfway when the roar of a motor caught his attention. He banked and slowly went over the road, watching the oncoming vehicle. It wasn’t likely, but at this time of night, there were few humans out and about.

It was a battered green truck, the grumble of the motor hinting at its age. More importantly, Tate could easily spot the indentations in the back where talons had scraped away paint and metal when landing. I’ll be damned. He sent mental thanks to the powers that be and turned to follow. What the hell spooked you, Dad? What are you running from? Or is it to? He sighed. No reason to land yet, after all, dragon only knew what Eric’s reaction would be, and he couldn’t be going that far. Right? Damn, this is gonna be a long flight.

The time passed with mind-numbing slowness, but unfortunately that was all that was numb. By the time sunrise had almost rolled around, Tate was tired, starving, and certain his wings were going to fall off. But he’d somehow just barely managed to keep up with the truck.

Seconds before the sun appeared, Tate went into dive, pulling up instants before slamming into metal to neatly land in the back of the truck. He had just enough time to brace himself in the corner, clinging to the sides with enough pressure to dent the steel before turning into stone.


Tate woke with the usual roar, for a moment disorientated to find himself in the back of a truck pulled off the side of the road.

“What the hell are you doing?” Eric Williams roared back.

Oh yeah. That’s what happened. “Hey Dad. Nice to see you too. We still doing dinner? By the way, where are we?”

The rapid clenching and unclenching of the human’s hands was the only sign of his displeasure. Finally he took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’m heading to Canada.”

“Ooo, Canada eh? Cool. Always wanted to see Canada.”

That earned him a glare. “Which brings us back to what are you doing?”

“Traveling with you.” At the deepening glare Tate finally relinquished some of his attitude. “Look, you call at an insane hour of the morning for a human, tell me you’re running off to Dragon knows where, and that I’m s’posed to keep Mom calm. No. That doesn’t happen. I’m damn well gonna try to find out what’s going on. And if that includes heading to Canada, great. Let’s go.”

“You don’t even know what I’m doing.”

“Traveling to Canuck-land. I’ll admit to being curious as to why, but I figure if I hang around long enough I’ll figure that out.”

Eric sighed and sat abruptly on the lowered tailgate. “I’m... going to visit family.”

Tate blinked. “I thought they were all dead.”

An almost hysterical bark of laughter escaped the human. “So did I.”


The uncomfortable silence was broken by a deep rumble from Tate’s stomach. He grinned sheepishly as Eric just laughed. “I uh, never got to dinner last night.”

“I guessed. Do you have any idea how close I came to driving off the road when you pulled that stunt?”

He grinned at Eric. “The important thing is you didn’t.”

“Wiseass. Come on, there’s a McDonald’s down the road and I need to hit a hotel soon.”

“Great. You know I could try driving for awhile.”

Eric paused long enough to give him an incredulous look. “Dear God no!”

Tate pretended to stagger back. “Dad! I’m hurt!”

“Hopefully enough not to suggest it again.”

Laughter followed them into the truck, but it quickly dissolved into silence. The quiet lasted past the quick stop at McDonald’s until they stopped at a Hotel Six. With a quick mutter of “patrol,” Tate headed out while Eric went to check in.

The night was long for both males. The elder spent most of it staring up at the motel room ceiling, finally descending into restless tossing that tried to pass as sleep. The younger found the city to be quiet, and after midnight and a handful of petty crimes, he was virtually the only wanderer in the night.

Tate slept most of the day, wandering into the rest stops at a half doze. When he finally came fully awake, he blinked and stared around, disorientated by his surroundings. The empty truck was parked next to a stone wall that blocked most of his view, the rest being taken up by highway. A quick glance at his watch told him that, unless they’d made it to another time zone, he still had a few hours to sunset. What the hell happened? In hopes of getting some answers, he climbed stiffly out of the cab, groaning as he stretched cramped muscles. Whoever said sleeping in a truck would be a good idea should be shot, he thought, happily ignoring the fact that’d it been his idea.

Hoping to get a better idea of his surroundings, Tate hopped onto the wall, going on to tiptoes to get a good look around. What the hell? He blinked, then stared at the rows of tombstones stretching away before him. A graveyard? We drove to Canada to visit a graveyard? Spotting his father seated near a patch of disturbed earth and what looked like a new headstone, Tate shrugged and hopped down. Only one place to get the answers. At least, he hoped it was the only place he’d get answers. Hastily pulling his mind from the lovely alternatives, he quickened his pace until he stood beside the older human. Obviously, something had happened in the time he’d slept. From the desolate look on the man’s face, it hadn’t been good. He sat on the edge of a bench, hunched over so elbows rested on knees and hands covered the bottom half of his face. A gentle touch on the shoulder barely got a flicker of eyes from Eric, so he was left searching for information elsewhere.

Following his father’s gaze, Tate moved closer to the headstone to read the inscription. “Jonathon Eric Brenner, 1938 to 1998. Who is- was- he?”

A moment of silence, then his father took in a deep breath. “I think.... No, that’s not true. I know.”

“Know what?”

“He was my son.”

Tate’s head turned around so quickly he almost gave himself whiplash. “What?!?”

Eric finally looked up, giving him the faintest hint of a wry, bitter smile. “I don’t seem to have a very good track record for my children, do I?”

“Dad? What... the hell... are you talking about?” Tate demanded slowly.

Another sigh before the man sat up, leaning back somewhat. “I told you I had a human wife, correct?”

“Uh huh. And that she died some sixty-odd years ago.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“Uh huh.” Tate sat down, giving his father a careful look. “Dad? You totally lost me on this little trip to the Twilight Zone, so can you please try to explain this slowly for the idiot?”

“You’re not an idiot.”

“Humor me.”

“Karen died – at least, I thought this is what happened – in April of 1937. Car crash. They said the body was unrecognizable. I guess... I guess they told her the same thing. An old army buddy of mine doesn’t like letting secrets lie. When I told him a few weeks ago I was alive, living under a new name, he decided to hunt down some files on me, see if they knew, what they did know, that sort of thing. He opened up Pandora’s Box instead. Apparently the government had been actively recruiting me, way back when. I fit some sort of desirable profile. I don’t know, maybe pathetic white male loser who can pass for German?” He shrugged. “But I was married and unlikely to leave her. Karen was a problem. So they faked her death. Told her I was the one in the car, made her live alone.... She was pregnant. No one had any idea, even her.” He took in a deep, shaky breath. “She had a child, a son. I didn’t know.” Eric looked up, tortured eyes looking for something unknown within Tate’s eyes. “I didn’t know.”

Tate groaned softly and leaned back in the hotel room’s chair, scrubbing his hands over his face. Dragon, when did my life turn into a soap opera? He sighed and looked over at the bed. Eric had managed to stay together long enough to get them to a hotel, but once in the room, he’d fallen apart completely. Sunset had passed over an hour ago, but he had no desire to mess with the ancient TV in the room. Finally unable to battle off both boredom and sense of duty, Tate retreated into the bathroom and pulled out the cell phone he’d dragged along. The other end barely finished the first ring before being picked up.

“ ‘Lo,” a male voice grunted distractedly.

“Hey Silicon, it’s Tate.”

“Ya know you’re in deep shit?”

Tate winced. If it was enough to drag Silicon’s attention of the computer he was surely at.... “How deep?” he asked, sure he didn’t want to know.

“Leader’s on the warpath, Talia wants your wings for wall hangings, and from what I’ve overheard, Mariah’s leaving it a toss-up of who she’s gonna kill first, you or yer dad. What the hell’d you do??

“Road trip to Canada.”

There was a long pause. “Are you serious?”

“Uh huh. Believe me, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t’ve left the state. But Dad’s pulling a combo of mid-life crisis and guilt trip from hell, so....” He shrugged, not caring Silicon wouldn’t know. “Here we are.”


“Basically. Look, can you do me a favor?”

“Depends. I’m not gliding out to Canada.”

“Not asking you to,” Tate chuckled. “But can you get me some info on a guy? Jonathon Eric Brenner, born some time around October, November of 1938, son of Karen Brenner.” His limited knowledge of the man was quickly exhausted, much to his brother’s whining about needles in haystacks.

“You after a criminal record?” Silicon asked, “or do you want the super secret stuff?”

He didn’t hold back a grin at the obvious desire in Silicon’s voice to go and wreak havoc in other computer systems. “Anything you can easily get to. He’s dead, so no biggie.”

“Aww, you take all the fun out of it. Well, I’ll call back in an hour with what I’ve got. No guarantees I’ll actually have much, though.”

“Anything is good. In an hour.” Tate hung up, then sank down to the edge of the bathtub with a sigh. He leaned against the wall, letting the coolness of air-conditioning chilled porcelain seep into his bones. Dragon, what an unholy mess. No wonder Eric hadn’t wanted him along. Well, you insisted on coming, so suck it up and live with things. Dad had another kid... so I guess this means I have an older brother? He blinked, trying to wrap his mind around the idea. An older brother- an older, human half-brother. Who was dead. He took faint, guilty comfort in that. If the man was dead, there wasn’t really much need to connect with him. There was damn little emotional connection as things were. It was just too weird for him, too far out of reality to justify emotional investment.

That or the shock was a hell of a lot worse than expected.

The hour-long wait was much more nerve wracking than he’d expected, leaving him pacing the bathroom a good ten minutes before the call. The cell phone barely managed a buzz before he snapped it on. “Whatcha got?”

“Someone’s a little antsy,” Silicon remarked dryly. “I should make you grovel for this.”

“Try and die.”

“Touchy, touchy. Ok, looks like Mr. Jon Brenner was pretty squeaky clean. Few speeding and parking tickets, usual bland stuff. Paleontologist, of all things. This guy did not get out much. Wife- Carrie- of twenty odd years, no kids, dragged his mother to live with him few years back. Like I said. Gets out less’n we do.”

“Total schleb, huh?” Tate asked, not sure how to feel about that.

“Basically. But there are a few skeletons in his closet. Actually, it’s the family tree that’s a little screwy.”

“Oh?” he replied, resisting the urge to mention “uh” before the “oh”.

“Yeah. He was born about eight months after dad died, if ya look at the papers of the time. But poking around dear old dad’s files, he was actually dragged off to the army, recruited for a mission that’s still considered classified. We’re talking a cover-up that’s over half a century old. Mom was told her hubby died in a nasty car wreck. But it turns out he was told she died. Uncle Sam really wanted this character for something big.”

“So did Jon or… the mother ever know he was alive?”

“Nope. He got recruited, and everything after that is more classified than Area 51. I don’t know if this dude is dead, alive, or pulling a Hoffa. I might be able to sneak a peak at some more of the files, but that might be a bit too much a challenge for me. Although I haven’t pissed the army off in a couple of months….”

“Nah, that’s ok, thanks. Uhm, one last thing.”


“Were you able to get his address?”

It was a small, white-sided ranch house that screamed of Suburbia. No white picket fence, but the small garden in back was well tended. Cozy. Safe.

Tate wasn’t sure what to make of it, even after several passes over the house. Not that he actually had a clue just what he was doing there in the first place. Never mind the gargoyle thing, what was he supposed to do? Show up, declare himself to be the long lost/ignored son of a dead man, who also happened to be in town for his dead son’s funeral? Riiiiight. That’d go over real well. And for my next act, Nessie on roller skates.

Finally fed up with his buzzard imitation, he dropped down to rest among the branches of one of the old pine trees surrounding the house. He cautiously crept down the tree trunk to get a better look inside the house. Lights blazed from most of the windows, but it took some time to find the occupants within the kitchen. Two women, one elderly, the other well into middle age, sat at the table and chatted softly. The gargoyle’s head tilted to the side, taking in the scene and carefully studying the older woman- Karen? She seemed to have aged reasonably well, turning into a plump woman with a face heavily wrinkled by what was probably grief. Salt and steel hair was cut short, framing that expressively sorrowed face and emphasizing the vivid green eyes. She was dressed semi-casually; black slacks, a gray, long sleeved shirt, and the limited jewelry of a small gold cross hanging from a chain around her neck.

The other woman still had dirty blonde spots in her graying hair, while glasses hid pale eyes of indeterminate color. She also wore black, both slacks and button down dress shirt which made her look like she just came off the corporate jet. She spent much of her time daubing at her eyes with a handkerchief, the linen darting behind shielding glass like a ghost ducking for cover from the sun.

Tate just sat and watched the pair talk, voices muted to silence by the time they would’ve reached his perch. It took several hours until the younger woman finally retreated from the kitchen to another part of the house, lights winking off in what was apparently her wake. The elder remained staring off into space within the kitchen, now illuminated only by the dim light above the stove. At last she stood, apparently groaning as she clutched her lower back and slipped out of the house to the garden.

She stood among the plant beds, staring up at the clouded skies and treetops. Tate huddled closer to the trunk of his perch, cautious of remaining out of sight. This held his attention so much so that it took him a bit of extra time to notice the woman was crying, silent tears making sapphire trails down her cheeks. Finally, she sighed, clutched her cross, and headed back inside with a bowed head.

A remote part of Tate’s mind was shocked to find he’d pulled out the cell phone and dialed the number Silicon had provided earlier along with the address. The ringing in his ear was echoed within the house, machine jingling as the human passed by. She paused, only to swiftly pick up. “Hello?” she asked almost hesitantly.

“Um, hi.” Tate coughed, frantically trying to overcome the brainfreeze his impulsive actions had landed him in. “Uh, Mrs. Karen Brenner?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“You… won’t have any idea who I am. My name’s Tate Knight. My father… fought with Eric in the war, so when I heard about Jonathon, I just… wanted to pass on my condolences.”

“Thank you, Mr. Knight,” she said in a remarkably steady voice, “but I’m afraid you must have mistaken the name. I was married to an Eric Brenner, but he died before World War II, and he was just born when the first one started.”

SHIT!!!! “I… uh… that is… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t’ve called,” he babbled, not waiting for a response. He pulled the phone away from his ear and stabbed the disconnect button, glaring at the little machine. Damn things were more trouble than they were worth. Tate shot a look at the house, blinking a bit as he watched the woman, now wearing a determined look, punch at the phone’s buttons. He shrugged it off, fumbling to replace the cell in his pocket. It abruptly rang, startling him into yelping and letting go of it quickly as if it were a hot coal. Still ringing, it tumbled through the air in slow motion, landing in the middle of a garden path with a crack that resounded through the night. Tate’s gaze quickly shifted from the phone wreckage to the house, instinctively cringing back as the human’s gaze shifted from the phone up the tree, seeming to bore into him.

Oh. Shit!

Karen carefully replaced the phone receiver, then just as carefully walked back into the yard. She stopped a few paces from the broken cell phone to look up into his tree. “Mr. Knight? If that is your name. Come out. I do not appreciate stalkers, especially ones that think to take advantage of my recent bereavement.”

“I- I’m sorry, ma’am,” he stuttered, her tone so like Sadie’s that he couldn’t dream of not answering. “I didn’t mean- that is, I was just- ooooh, hell.” He slumped back against the tree trunk. What the hell had he been thinking? That’s always the problem, idiot: you WEREN’T!!!

“What do you think you’re doing?” the human snapped. “Is this some sort of scam? A strange type of stalking? I want answers. What is going on?”

He sighed. “I just wanted to extend my condolences, Mrs. Brenner. I’m no stalker, there’s no scam, I’m just sorry to hear about your son’s death. The tree thing…. That, you wouldn’t believe even if I told you.”

“Try me,” she commented dryly, folding her arms.

“No ma’am. I’m heading on my way, just wanted to say I’m sorry for… what happened.”

“Sorry you got caught, you mean.”

“That too. Goodnight, Mrs. Brenner.”

“I said I want answers!” she snapped, voice making him cringe some more. “And since there’s only one way out of that tree, I’d suggest you give them to me before we both freeze out here.”

The gargoyle sighed. Actually, there were two ways out, but even if he did make it up the tree without her spotting him, she was sure to notice him gliding off. Damn, damn, and double damn! “I am telling the truth. I’m sorry about Jonathon. I would’ve liked to have met him.”

“If you never knew him, then why this?”

“My dad’s… a relative. Distant relative. He knew Eric fairly well.” He watched as a faint wince crossed her face at the name. “When I heard his son died….” He shrugged, not caring she couldn’t see it.

“And the tree stalker thing?”

“I have issues,” Tate remarked blandly, winning a laugh from her.

“I never would’ve guessed,” she called back with equal dryness. “Do you intend to come down anytime soon, before I get laryngitis or you freeze?”

“I’m fine, thanks. And… I do have problems being around people.” They tend to run screaming or try to kill me. You know, usual social difficulties nowadays. “I’ll go soon as you let me.”

Karen stared up at him for several uncomfortable moments, then nodded. “I shouldn’t trust you, Mr. Knight, but I suppose it will do. It’s not as if I have much to lose at this point.” She turned and started back to the house. “Perhaps you can overcome your issues enough to visit tomorrow afternoon. There’s a family gathering starting at one. Either way, good night… Mr. Knight.” He stayed on the tree branch for some time, running over the conversation for awhile before setting off into the night winds.

Sunset, the next night

It took a lot of control not to let loose the yawning roar that usually heralded Tate’s awakening, but he’d had practice at self control. It wasn’t much of a surprise to find the room empty. When he’d gotten back last night, Eric had still been asleep, leaving the gargoyle to fret about what to do. He’d given up on the problem a bit before sunrise, when Eric woke long enough to tell him the human would be spending the day wandering the town, trying to connect with the place and settle himself. So Tate had simply settled for spending the day in normal stone sleep. He had the hotel room to himself, not a big surprise.

Foraging for dinner- ah, the joys of room service- and a bit of surfing the TV only lasted so long. He was finally faced once more with a choice of patrol, or otherwise killing time in the room. Not like the clan needed any more publicity, even if he was out of his territory, so….

Tate found his attention easily drifting from the TV to the phone resting so innocently beside the bed. He managed to resist for a bit of time, but eventually he picked up and started dialing.

Four rings this time. “Hello?”

“Good evening, Mrs. Brenner.”

“Mr. Knight. I had hoped you’d show up for the gathering.”

“Sorry, I…. Well, it’s not meant as a pun, but I really am more a nighttime person. And I still have my issues.”

“Uh huh. And it was the oddest thing. I asked every relative I could find about you. No one knew a tiny thing.”

Oh, dragon. He blew out a sigh, tilting his head back until his horn tips thunked against the headboard. “I see.”

“You wouldn’t happen to try a different explanation, now would you?”

“Not really, ma’am, no.”

She gave a bark of laughter. “I see. So you still insist that this isn’t some sort of stalking thing?”

A creak sounded as the hotel room door opened, and Eric walked in. Tate tried to keep a frantic, horrified expression from crossing his face. This was not good. “Yes, I do. But since it seems to bother you so much, I’ll leave you along. Good evening.” He hurriedly put the receiver down to give his father a rather fake smile. “How you doing?”

The human shrugged rather listlessly, pulling off his jacket and tossing it on the chair. “You didn’t have to end your call just because I’m around.”

He shrugged with enforced nonchalance. “Nah, I was done.”

“All right.”

Silence descended, as the pair kept their attention carefully off of each other, and on the muted TV, the box flickering with some sort of sitcom. Finally, Eric turned to his son. “I… think I’m done here. When are you ready to leave?”

He stabbed off the TV. “Now is good. I guess.”

“You guess?”

Tate sighed and nervously scratched behind an ear. “Um. I know this is random, but…. Do you ever think about Karen?”

Eric paused, then leaned over, resting elbows on knees, pose reminiscent of that in the graveyard. “I don’t, actually,” he admitted softly. “Before… this, I always felt- guilty, I guess. I was alive, and having fun, and with another woman I love as deeply as I loved her. To know she was alive while all of that happened…. God!”

“Was. Past tense. She could be alive, you know.”



The laughter was short, bitter. “I look like I’m a well preserved fifty something at worst, more like a forty something. It’s magic, Tate. I’m eighty-four years old. She’d be so old, now, and look at me.” He sighed and shook his head, staring at something Tate couldn’t see, something he suspected was lost in time. “What would I do, if I found her? Go and apologize? Try to rekindle things, even though I’m happily married to a woman she’d see as a monster?” Eric finally stirred, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a wallet. He carefully pulled out an old, worn photo, almost reverently handing it to his son. Captured in time-stained yellow and brown were a man and woman. Eric hadn’t changed much: a few more pounds, a more worn expression, less hair in a much better cut than the bowl po’boy shave. The woman was a more svelte version of her current self: a flower print dress accented generous curves, topped by a somewhat timid expression with wide eyes and a thick mane of hair.

“Do you still love her?”

“Yes,” he sighed. “Although sometimes I really wonder what would have happened had we gone on together.” He shrugged. “What ifs aren’t worth that much time.” Tate offered the photo back, but Eric waved it away with a single, pained look. “I need to move on,” he declared softly. “Keep it, if you want. Or leave it. I don’t care.”

The gargoyle reluctantly pulled back, fighting off guilt for too many nebulous things. Keep it? And do what with it? He carefully put it down on the bedspread.

“Why the interest?”

He shrugged, again forcing casualness into the motion. “Jonathon might have family that knows how to get in touch with her, if she’s alive, that is. Now’s the best time to try if you wanted to. You know.”

Eric swallowed, then shook his head. “Time to move on,” he repeated softly. “Thank you for the thought, but I need to be done with this.” He abruptly stood. “I packed earlier. Time to go.”

He moved around the hotel room efficiently, clearing out the remaining odds and ends with a habitual ease that reminded Tate he’d spent a lot of time on the run, probably doing this so much that it wasn’t so much second nature as first. In minutes they were gone.

Karen Brenner carefully opened the door, unremarkable from any other in the hallway except for what lay behind it. She’d easily convinced the man at the desk that she was checking after her absentminded son who’d so sadly left behind a valuable video tape he happened to need next business meeting. The twenty-dollar tip hadn’t hurt either. It was a pity “Mr. Knight” had checked out before she could find the hotel, modern wonders of caller ID or no. Still, she was determined to find anything about the mysterious caller that she could.

The room hadn’t been cleaned yet, but it was irritatingly empty. Wastebaskets held kleenex, wrappers for the hotel soap, and a bag from McDonald’s she certainly wasn’t keen on trying to investigate further.


She sighed in frustration and sat down on one of the beds, wondering just what to do, if there was anything left as an option. Crinkling beneath her had her standing as quickly as she could, nowadays. She carefully lifted the floral print bedspread, and curiously pulled an old photo out. She and Eric stared back from a rift of sixty years, posing happily for the wandering photographer during their honeymoon at Virginia Beach.

As the memories surfaced, she wasn’t sure if crying was in order, or simply wonder that “Mr. Knight” had somehow found a memento she thought long lost with her dead husband, one more memory fading away with time. She was alone again. Yet like the last time such death had struck, she again had a new reminder of how life used to be.

Perhaps how it should have been.

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, brother John, brother John?
Mourning bells are ringing, mourning bells are ringing, ding dong dong.
Ding dong dong.

Many thanks to Quietus for his editing and egoboosts. Believe me chummer, you aren't getting out of this job any time soon. ;)

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With the exception of the gargoyle race in general along with some gargoyle lore, which belongs to Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, everything in here belongs to me. That means if for some strange reason you want to use my characters in your stuff, you have to ask first.