*~PART 3~*

"Ally? Did I wake you?"
"Huh? What? Oh… Greg?"
"Ally… It's Renee… RE-NAY… did you get enough sleep?" Renee clearly sounded out her name so Ally wouldn't have any *more* trouble identifying the voice.
"This is one of those questions you can ask but don't expect an answer from me… Okay?"
"It's amazing that you come up with witty comebacks at such an *early* hour…" Renee clearly placed the pun on the word "early", as if trying to inform Ally that it was past 12 noon.
"Yea, well, I make a living doing it, so I've gotten pretty damn good…" Ally brushed back her hair and sat up. Glancing at the clock, she let out a small gasp, but instead of getting up, she plopped back down into bed. Settling under the warm covers, she sent her thoughts off to a safe, relaxing place… Cutting off Renee, who was in the middle of a vivid description of her day, she simply said "Bye" and hung up. "Mmmm…" she sighed happily and closed her eyes, thinking of the safe, relaxing place she'd attempted to fly off just moments before…

This was someplace magical, someplace quiet, someplace… soft & fuzzy. She felt someone's sweater brush up against her arm, and even with her eyes closed, she knew who it was. "Billy…" she murmured softly under her breath, settling into his arms with a smile. "Hi…" answered the voice. She, suddenly detached from the real world, opened her eyes, but saw nothing around her. No room, no bed, no chairs, no walls, no windows. She didn't even see the arm, the sweater that seemed to be there just moments before… Just the voice… She couldn't really make out where it was coming from ("probably from inside my twisted brain…" she thought), as it seemed to be all around her, cuddling her thoughts, serving as a shield from the outside world. She smiled her "I know where this is going but I don't want to ruin it" smile and looked up… It felt weird just looking ahead of her, but "up" seemed more… hopeful.
"I expected you to show up on this one sooner or later…" she said and sat down on something she couldn't see but felt.
"I wouldn't miss you getting back together with the man that pretty much screwed my life!" said the voice, chuckling.
"Oh shut up!" she laughed, playfully throwing something fuzzy ("a cloud?" she thought) in no particular direction. "Plus, we're not even back together… and we won't be. He's hooked on Ms. I'm-this-famous-musician-and-oh-so-pretty…" she added with a sigh.
"Oh puh-lease," the voice smirked. "I see the way the man looks at you…"
"Yea? Then how?" she asked.
"Ha! You didn't see, then?"
"No…" she replied, looking down.
"Aw, chin up, sweetie! The guy is dying to have you!"
"To HAVE me or to have ME?"
"To have YOU. Whadja expect? There are no good girls in Chicago!"
"Except for Jen…" she replied, sighing again.
"No…" the voice tried to protest, but she continued…
"Look, Billy, give it up… Him & I are over! It's never gonna happen! I just wasted nerves, tears & time sticking around… I might as well catch the next flight out." Ally tried to get up, but a hand pressed her shoulder down and she, surprised at the voice's strength, immediately plopped back down on the soft something she'd been sitting on before.
"Don't… Do you want my advice?"
"Is that rhetorical question?"
"Possibly… you're going to get it anyway… I know what it's like-" the voice stopped, as if deciding whether to continue.
"You know what it's like to what?" Ally asked.
"… to let go of something you love and realize it way, way, WAY too late. If you walk out of here right here, right now, if you buy that ticket, catch that place, fly away - never to return - you'll give up on something you STILL have a chance at. Look, what's-her-face may be pretty and talented, but seriously, Ally - you could beat her anyday!" He tried to boost her confidence, but it didn't seem to work.
"Billy, I know where you're going with this… "Seize the opportunity!" But I WON'T! There is no opportunity to begin with! It's dead, our relationship with him is DEAD! Nothing will revive it, and there's nothing to SEIZE!" she reached out and tried to grab a passing cloud ("Am I dead? Am I in heaven?" she thought. "Ha!" she laughed to herself… "What would *I* get into heaven for?!")… it slipped away from her, and she, defeated, looked down. "See! I try to seize something, and it slips away! Just like YOU…" she was on the verge of tears again, and the voice tried to calm her down…
"Ally, I didn't slip away… I'm here, aren't I?"
"No, you're not…" she broke down into tears. Suddenly, her soft "chair" was gone and she fell into something plush, almost like a huge stuffed animal.
"Yes I am…" the plush "something" said.
"Well, maybe you are, but once this whole kingdom of Fuzz evaporates, you'll be gone…"
"My voice will be… But I'll always be with you…"
She smiled. She knew it was true - even if she couldn't touch him physically, even he was nothing more than a cloud, she'd always have him in her heart, her mind, her thoughts…
"Still…" she protested. "I have YOU, but I don't have anyone else… and I won't. Ever." She kept herself from crying this time, but it took a LOT of strength & self control.

"Ally! You can't give up!" The last phrase echoed in her mind, and she saw a ray of lavender light coming from above her head. Something was placed by someone into her hands, someone she couldn't see, but the something looked quite familiar… It was a cloud!
The voice let out a girlish giggle. "See… everything's reachable, and nothing slips away…"
"Cool magic trick…" Ally said, hugging the cloud. "Can you do the same thing with heavier objects?"
"Depends on what you had in mind…" the voice replied.
"Oh, it's plus-minus 180 pounds… this thing… Greg…" she smiled at the absurdity of it, but looked up hopefully and waited for a response.
"It might be a bit too heavy… but I'll try."
"Thanks…" she laughed. "Hey Billy, can you tell me something?"
"Anything at all, sweetie. As long as it's not whether I can lift a certain representative of the male species…"
"So you'll answer anything?"
"Over there in fuzzy little Cloudville, how much does love weigh?"

"Is your closing finished?" John asked, entering Nelle's office.
"Hi to you too…" she stood up and smiled her sweetest smile.
"I'm sorry…" he answered after his usual "poughkeepsie" of embarrassment and then looked up.
"Yes, it is." She smiled again, this time somewhat fake, but her mind wasn't really on being nice right now.
"Nelle, what exactly are you going to say?" Richard chimed in, trying to sound as concerned as he possibly could.
"I'm going to say what I think…"
"And that is…?"
"You'll see…" passing him, she made her way towards the door and took John's hand.
"I'll say what needs to be said."

Nelle stood up slowly, cautiously, as if giving what she was about to say extra thought. She stepped out from behind the table, unbuttoned her suit jacket and took two steps to stand in front of the judge. John & the judge both followed her with their eyes, and both hardly knew what to expect. "John…" Richard leaned in, attempting to whisper, and ended up spitting in John's ear. Disgusted, the latter wiped his earlobe and turned to face Richard. "What?" he asked quietly.
"Are you sure it's a good idea to let Nelle close?"
"Why do you doubt her?"
"Well, our win depends on the believability of the closing. Can Nelle be believable when it comes to love?"
"Richard!" John snapped.
"Oh, that's right, I'm sorry I forgot - she's great at pretending to like you…" he smirked, finding what he said incredibly amusing. He didn't mean it, though. He'd be crazy to…

John decided not to answer any more of Richard's stupid remarks and turned his full attention to Nelle, who hadn't begun yet.

She took a deep breath and started…
"Nowadays, people question everything. Many even go beyond everything and start to question themselves, their loved ones, their colleagues, their friends. And many, even after growing up, becoming parents, watching their children go through elementary school, then middle school, then high school, then college, still have the urge to question everyone's actions. However, there comes a point where nothing should be questioned. That point doesn't always come at the right time in person's life, but when it does, it usually has something to do with love. And love, above all things, is probably the most questioned - and questionable - human feeling. And since each person has the right to choose who to love and how to love for himself or herself, I strongly believe no one should interfere with such choices. Darwin James made the choice to love Kelly for who she was… And she loved him for him as well. However, Mr. and Mrs. James didn't take their son seriously. They questioned his choice, his taste, his life, and they also questioned his right to choose… They questioned his competence in deciding where he should live, what he should do, how he should spend the money he himself earned and, mostly importantly - WHO he should spend the rest of his life with. Now, the question we raise here - who in the world empowered them with the right to damage his life & Kelly's life simply because they considered Kelly too "poor" and not "pretty" enough? Darwin is a very intelligent person, one would THINK he'd be able to talk this out with his parents instead of bringing it to court. He tried - nothing worked. He is over 18, legally an adult, and should have - by his own legal choice - no moral OR physical dependence on his parents. He never pressured them into making any decisions against their will, yet they somehow concluded they had the right to pressure him. Now, if it didn't go beyond pressure, the lawsuit would've been non-existent. However, the pressure grew into something even more terrifying - physical & moral acts of violence: damaging personal property, as it was stated earlier in the case, driving Darwin to mental extremes, as was confirmed by Dr. Nebelhorn, and threatening Kelly - the evidence was drawn earlier to support that. Should someone be judged by their looks or the thickness of their wallet? More importantly - should someone be judged by people who have no personal involvement in the case? Opposing counsel stated that they were doing "what they thought was best"… Bullshit, Your Honour, pure bullshit. Physical & moral damages are NOT for the best - anyone who has beyond one active brain cell should understand that. Many don't… Why is the world so profoundly, utterly dumb these days? Just look inside those people's eyes: they have neon green dollar signs flashing in them. They immediately dislike a person just because he or she has the wrong shape of nose, or imperfect lips, or green eyes instead of blue eyes. And god forbid girls weigh over 115 - "she's no match for you, dear!"… God forbid guys don't run track or work out 24/7 - "you know, honey, he's just not your type…" That's something I've heard oh-so-many times, and sad to say - for the first few years, I actually believed it. But then, as the brain cells I realized I had started to surface, I figured out that I didn't need my parents deciding who's my type and who's not my type. I could do that for myself… And only recently I was able to prove that to them. Not only do I find what the James' did wrong, I also find it disrespectful to their son - how dumb do they consider him to be if they doubt his decisions at 20? Do they consider the possibility of him being smarter than they perceive? I doubt it, otherwise neither I nor opposing counsel would be standing here today, closing this case from two totally separate points of view. Which is right? Possible neither. Both have flaws, I'm willing to accept that. How was my closing even relevant to the case - Darwin's emotional distress was a DIRECT result of his parents' actions; in other words, it was intentionally inflicted. That was what I was trying to prove, though doubt I succeeded. Again, which opinion is right? Neither. In love, there is no right or wrong. Love shouldn't be questioned, it shouldn't be judged. It just *is*."

Slowly, she turned around and walked back to the table, looking at a bewildered John. The latter sat with his eyes still fixated on the spot where she was standing just moments before, and in his gaze you could see a trance-like state overtaking him. "Wow…" he said, thinking of what his dear Nelle had just said.

She knew what he was thinking like she always did. And she smiled a calm, quiet smile. Everything was going to be OK now that that was out. After her little "vent" session before the judge, which was more payback to her parents than a closing statement, really, she felt much better, like a huge burden had been taken off of her shoulders. "Wow…" she said to herself, beaming.
"That was-" Richard started, "-good." she finished for him. He nodded, and she looked over at John. He seemed extremely pleased with what he'd heard.

In the back, a tall man of about 45 quietly stood up and exited the courtroom. The judge announced that the ruling will be in at 2, which meant they still had 20 minutes to wait. Jumping up and sprinting past John & Richard, Nelle ran out and tried to catch the man that had just left. "Daddy!" she called.

He was gone. He understood everything, and left. There was no need for him to question, or judge, love.

In 20 minutes, the judge came back with the final ruling. Darwin looked over at Nelle and mouthed "thank you", though understood perfectly well there was nothing - yet - to really be thankful for, except for her closing. She smiled and sat back, awaiting the judge's speech.

"Ms. Porter, your closing was…" he paused for a moment, searching for the right word, "… interesting. I enjoyed your insights, though I would have to say that Mr. Keeter," he turned to the James' lawyer, "made some very good points as well. And while I agree with you that love, especially in the case where it brings families to court, shouldn't be questioned or judged, I am, unfortunately so, in the position where I MUST judge not only love, but also whether or not anybody got hurt as a result of this. And so I shall…" He turned to Mr. & Mrs. James and smiled. "I understand you did what you thought was right. And I applaud your courage to do so…" He turned back to Darwin - "However, your son's personal life wasn't in your jurisdiction anymore…" John began to get extremely impatient with the judge gabbing away on pointless topics. He tried to stand up and protest, but Nelle pulled him down. "I find in favor of the plaintiff and order the defendants to pay damages…" Darwin was so overwhelmed with glee he didn't even hear the amount - he stood up and began hugging everyone within his reach. He turned around and saw Kelly standing by the door, and immediately ran over to her.

Mr. Keeter got up and made his way over to the judge. "Did you really believe Ms. Porter, Your Honour?" he asked, trying to imply that Ms. Porter was incapable of any of the feelings she defended.
"She spoke from the heart. You spoke from your wallet. Which wins?" the judge walked out.

- - - End Of Part 3 - - -