Dancing Lights by Arianahrod
Authors' note: This is my first BATB story, though not my firstfan fiction. It's been a few weeks of reflection before I decided todedicate this first story on the 20th Anniversary of Catherine andVincent's meeting.
When I was a young girl, about 8 years old, we traveled fromoverseas to the US to visit my American relatives. While we werevisiting my grandparents, I was first introduced to Vincent and theWorld Below. My grandmother was an avid watcher and fan, she used torecord the shows on her VHS tapes. I first fell in love with the showwatching it with her. Even at the time I didn't realize what a strongimpact it would have on me, though with amused reflection I realizedthat BATB was probably the underlying catalyst for my Inuyasha fandomin some ways. Adventure, courage, and the overwhelming unresolvedromantic tension echoes in both.
Fast forward 20 years later, my grandmother's tapes have longsince been re-recorded, worn out or lost, but now with the DVDappearance I've been able to visit my roots and fall in love againwith the cloaked and mysterious figure with a heart-stopping poeticvoice and his beautiful lady.
To all those who dream of a love so pure and strong that ittranscends time and media, this is for us.
His voice, soft and deep drifted through the haze of sleep thatsurrounded him, the soft grey blanket of comfort and solitude thatseemed to be his only real barrier left.
"Father, you've fallen asleep at your desk again," came the voiceagain and a firm hand reached through the fog and began to bring himback to the land of waking. Slowly he opened his eyes and gave hissummoner a clean and straight gaze, the cobwebs of sleep quicklydismissed.
"I did not fall asleep, I was merely "
" resting your eyes. Yes, I know." Blue-green eyes sparkledwith humor as his lips curved into a wide and welcoming smile, hismother's smile. "No one believes Grandfather when he says that, whatmakes you think you can get away with it?"
Vincent stretched out his legs beneath the desk, his armsfollowing the linear path above his head, a full bodied stretch,adding another feline movement to his already feline face. "BecauseJacob, I am your father and am not prone to the exaggerations orfabrications that your namesake has become proficient at in his lateryears."
"Exaggerations and fabrications?! I have half a mind to put youover my knee and show you how well I still get on, even in myso-called 'later years'," came a gruff voice behind him and the swiftknock on the head by a sturdy cane was proof-positive that Father,his father was standing behind him. Vincent flinched and looked up togive Jacob Wells, founder of their community an apologeticglance.
"And you should not be so quick to point out how the years havepassed, you're not quite the spring chicken yourself anymore Vincent,there's a bit of grey in that mane of yours. Soon this cane will beyour best friend and the cold air of the tunnels will be creepinginto your bones. Just you wait, and I hope I'm still around to remindyou of your old age." Despite his seemingly irritated tone of voice,Vincent knew his father was not really upset.
"Now, pay young Jacob some mind, he's got some very importantinformation to share with you," the elder Jacob said, sitting in hischair, well padded for his comfort, and pulled a blanket over hislegs. The years had been very kind to him, for the passage of timehad only marred him with a few more wrinkles and the bleaching of hishair into a very dignified ashen grey. Though in his 80's, he wasstill a very handsome man.
The younger Jacob Chandler Wells may have inherited his mother'ssmile, but he also had inherited his father's calm and stoic gaze,especially when he didn't want to give the game away too quickly. Itwas the scourge of his Grandfather's chess playing to never knowexactly what the child had in mind, even at an age where all childrenbrim to the rim with excitement and barely concealed glee.
"Well," he paused, considering his words carefully, "You know thatI've been receiving top marks in all my classes Above," he saidslowly conscious of the fact that his father very reluctantly agreedto allow him to go topside to attend high school with the children ofsome Helpers. In the end, it was Uncle Peter and surprisingly enoughhis grandfather that swayed the gentle giant into allowing his son tolive part of the week Above and attend school.
Vincent was naturally protective of his only son, especially afterthe actions of Gabriel in Jacob's infancy. He had always recognizedthe fact that Jacob was a child of both worlds and needed to have aconnection to his mother's world. Until his adolescence, he had livedBelow with the rest of the community but his existence was neverdenied him. Unlike his father, and several other tunnel dwellers hehad a record Above. Joe Maxwell, Diana and other Helpers who wereinstrumental in his early childhood worked the red tape and the wiresof the system to create records of his existence without ever needingto submit him to that system.
Despite his steep moral objections, Joe and others hadorchestrated a "will" for Catherine's estate, with Peter as theexecutor and Joe as the official guardian for Jacob, or JacobChandler Wells as he was registered. A trust fund was place aside inthe event that Jacob should decide to attend higher education, oreventually choose to live topside. Money was periodically taken outto orchestrate the appearance of maintenance for Jacob, and the childgraciously informed his father at the bright age of 4 that, "moneyhelp others, Jacob is okay good," at which point Vincent realizedthat his son had been spending too much time with the mischievousMouse.
Vincent studied his serious son, marveling in the miracle that hewas and has been every day since he first held him in his hands, hisheart quaking deep inside as he whispered, "He is beautifulCatherine." The courage he showed everyday never ceased to astoundhim. When he had announced he intended on going Above to attend highschool, Vincent wouldn't hear of it. Despite the dangers of once, theevents of that fateful September had placed the whole of the Tunnelsunder stricter rules and regulations. People were more observant nowthan they were 20 years before, people ducking through holes,traveling through the subways and through Central Park were watchedwith much more scrutiny and suspicion than once before. No longerwere the regular fears in play, but anyone who seemed out of placecould raise the suspicions of the authorities.
Jacob's voice brought him out of his daze, "Well, I applied toColumbia and I got this letter today," he said, his normally steadyvoice shaking slightly as he pulled out the warn envelope from hispocket, the creases showing the many folds it had undergone. With adeep breath he began reading, "Mr. Chandler-Wells, it is with greatpleasure that the University of Columbia, School of Physicians andSurgeons welcome you as its newest member to the graduating class of2011. It is also our esteemed honor to recognize your outstandingacademic aptitude with a full financial scholarship " His voicedropped off as he slowly raised his gaze up to meet his father'sface.
Vincent's leonine lips were parted slightly and his eyes were widewith astonishment and awe. Michael and many of the other Tunnelchildren had all gone on to earn their degrees and make their waythrough the world, but this was HIS son. His and Catherine's livingproof that impossible was just a word that could be proven possible.Jacob swallowed hard, nervous by his father's lack of immediateresponse.
"It's .it's a big step I know, but I was thinking about it. Icould live in the dorms, and come Below on the weekends, like I donow. Most kids go home on the weekends. Mouse said that there's anold entrance near the University that I could use to get home or Icould "
"Columbia," Vincent slowly whispered, his voice barely audible. "Ididn't know you applied to Columbia."
"I didn't think I would get it, and I didn't want to get my hopesup. I applied because .of Mom," he began, feeling through thebond he shared with his father the pinch of pain at the memory of hismother.
"Mom went to Columbia, and I thought that maybe, if I could getin, if I could walk those halls, maybe it would bring me a littlecloser to her," he finished and folded his hands in his lap,nervous.
Vincent rose to his feet quickly and Jacob echoed his father'smovements, afraid that his father would leave the room as he was aptto do when his emotions were running hard and threatened to overspillhis normally calm exterior. But Vincent did something he did notexpect. He reached forward quickly and grabbed his son's armstightly, holding him at arms length. His head was bowed, shadowinghis face in red and gold. Then without warning he pulled his sonclose in a tight embrace.
"University, my son is going to university. Words fail me at thismoment to tell you how incredibly proud I am of you, how proud I knowyour mother is." He whispered hoarsely in his ear and Jacob felt hisknees grow a little weak with the relief.
"Yes well, of course this is no reason to neglect your studiesnow," came Father's voice breaking the seal of emotion that hadfilled the room. Jacob chuckled and faced his grandfather, "Yes sir,I know."
"Medicine is the path you have chosen?" Vincent said, bringingthem back to the issue at hand, "I thought you wished to become alawyer."
Jacob smiled faintly, "I did, I thought that becoming a lawyer Icould help keep us safe Below. Now I realize that with the worldchanging as it has, there would be too much to explain, too manydangers to the Tunnels and those below. Besides after seeing whathappened, after seeing Grandfather and all he has accomplished, I cando so much good as a doctor. Not only for our Community but eventhose Above who need help."
Vincent nodded, "You have your mother's courage and strength,there is much good you could do for so many. If your course is true,there is nothing you cannot accomplish."
An excited voice echoed behind him, "Jacob has good news. Okaygood, Okay fine, will tell Pascal, need to speak to pipes. Williammakes party."
Father chuckled at the messy sandy haired man who peeked aroundthe corner of the chamber, "Mouse, you know far better than toeavesdrop on private moments."
"Not spy, looking. Arthur ran from Jamie, ran into Father'sChamber. Heard words, not spy."
Jacob heard a faint giggle and saw the twitching little feet ofone of the tiniest of the Tunnel children sticking out from beneathhis father's bed. With a finger to his lips, he tiptoed around andgrabbed the feet, pulling the little boy from his hiding space with acry of "FOUND YOU!"
Arthur, Mouse's very mischievous son who lived up to his namesake,giggle hysterically and squirmed as Jacob tossed him easily over hisshoulder like a sack of potatoes. "Come on squirt, let's go find yourmom." He turned his head and gifted his father with a bright smile,"We'll talk later Father," as he moved nimbly up the stairs and intothe tunnel, followed by beaming Mouse.
Vincent sank back into his chair, his head falling into the palmof his hand. "Above, living above full time, going to University.Father, could it be possible?"
"Of course it is possible. Young Jacob is more than capable oftaking care of himself. He knows better than anyone else the securityand safety features in place to keep our homes safe. The last fewyears he has been attending lessons Above have acclimatized him quitewell to being there. And remember, he is Catherine's son. Like hismother, once he has an idea in his head, it is nigh impossible tochange it."
Vincent sighed deeply, "I need a moment to take all this in," hesaid and rose, moving swiftly towards his private chamber. Once therehe paused to stand before the portrait of himself and Catherine,eternally locked in a gentle loving embrace. Her eyes seemed to lookright through him as he gazed up her face, paused forever young. Hefelt older than his years, looking up at the younger visage ofhimself standing protectively behind her.
"It's been 20 years Catherine, and I can still feel the cold nightair of the first time we met, the still chilled mist of early springon the air while I scooped up your battered body from the park." Hepaused only sit back on his bed, his eyes never leaving thepainting.
"20 long years, how I miss you so. Our son is almost a man fullgrown, and I mourn the knowledge you held him only once and sobriefly. He brings me such joy with every breath he takes, for I seeyour spirit in him and it grows more brilliant every day. He has beenthe light in the darkness of your loss." He lifted a hand to brushback the hair that had drifted in front of his face.
Vincent reached for his cloak and headed out. The sentries noddedat his passing and no one spoke or questioned his actions, despitethe new rule that everyone must account for their goings and comingswhich were then passed by pipe to Kipper, who recorded it as Pascalintercepted it. That way all members of the community were accountedfor at all times. But everyone knew where Vincent went on thisspecial night.
Every April 12th, he would be a ghost in the city of lights,reliving the movements and motions of his brief time with Catherine.Despite Father's most intent forbidding, he began his journey atopCatherine's balcony. He gazed out at the city, looking at the strangenew skylight twinkling in the ebony night sky, recalling Catherine'swords to Michael, "I look at the lights, and I see hope." The tenantshad changed several times in the years, the faces behind the windowpanes were always different. This year the apartment was empty,awaiting yet another new occupant. Vincent turned the handle of thebalcony door, not surprised to find it unlocked. At this height, thelikelihood of an intruder entering through the balcony was highlyunlikely. He stepped into the darkness, and felt it engulf him.
No scent of her remained; nothing but the smell of new paint andcarpet cleaner. The fireplace had long since been shut up and wasmerely decorative, thanks to stricter fire codes. The vast emptinessmade this place feel less like the luxurious home it had been, andmore like a cavern, an empty cold hole. Vincent watched the spiritsof his memories paint the room as it was, and for a moment heexpected Catherine to walk through the front door and see him there.Then the winds of reality wiped his eyes clear.
He walked through the park, remembering their Halloween walks,when the world for one night would accept them together under thesky. He stopped at the bench by the Brooklyn Bridge and rememberedhow wonderful she looked under the dawning sun. At every turn, aroundthe shadow of every tree, he caught her gazing at him before justdisappearing. No longer did this walk ache in his chest, but ratherit made him wistful, because it was on this night that he felt herthe closest. As if despite the distance of death, she returned totake him on this journey for this one special night.
As he completed his journey and returned to the tunnel entrance inthe park, he paused and looked back into the woods. If he closed hiseyes a moment, he could hear her heart pounding excitedly as shedashed across the grass and flew into his arms, crying and laughingand apologizing profoundly for having doubted in him, in them. Hefelt the pull as their souls kissed, that soft sweet kiss that nonecould see but only they could feel. The wind brushed against hischeeks and wrapped itself into his hair and he could feel her warmthin that touch.
Careful to be sure no one followed him, he stepped through thetunnel entrance and pulled the gate closed, pulling the latch toslide the solid door closed behind him. As the sounds of the outsideworld were cut off, his ears became aware of the urgent tapping alongthe pipes. Four words, repeated over and over.
Jacob. Mirror Pool. Urgent.
Vincent took off in a run, startling the few folk who still livedat this level of the tunnels with his speed. He hadn't run like this,not in many years, but the fear that echoed in his heart, the fearfor his son gave him the strength and youth he had long left behind.He leapt down the spiral staircase with the grace and agility of hisfeline nature, following Pascal's echoed tapping through the pipes.His feet skidded to stop as he entered the chamber of the Mirror Pooland nearly collided with young Arthur who giggles and grabbed hishand, pulling him forward.
"Jacob " he breathed heavily.
"Is fine Father," came his son's voice from the shadows.
"The pipes said " Vincent asked confused.
"That was my idea, forgive me Son," said Father, limping carefullyforward, "I knew you were in a melancholy mood and I couldn't thinkof any way to get you here without giving away the plan."
"You spread false word of Jacob's " Vincent growledangrily.
"Actually, all we said was Jacob's name and urgent. We didn't saythat he was in trouble, did we?" said Jamie innocently, but with asly look on her face at the double play.
Jacob came forward, "Father, we didn't want you to miss this." Heslowly lead his father forward towards the Mirror Pool, the candlesof the community that were gathered around its shores glittering likestars on the black surface.
"20 years ago, a light appeared in our home. A pure light, abrilliant light, a candle to beacon hope into places we only dreamedof," Father began. "Some didn't recognize the power of that light,some knew it right away."
Pascal stepped forward, "She brought us hope when we were down,gave us warmth when we were cold, laughed in our joy and cried in oursorrow."
Eric appeared, a young man of almost 30, with his young daughterEllie in his arms, "She brought me from the pits of despair and gaveme a family again. She gave all she had to save my sister, and was myrock when I needed a friend."
Lena and Cathy came forward, the younger holding a white rose.Lena spoke, "She gave me strength when I had none, forgave my errors,was my sister and friend and showed me that love comes in the formsyou least expect and want the most." She gave her daughter, namedafter Catherine a gentle smile.
William crept forward, "She was a good woman"
Mouse stepped up, "No, Great Woman. Trusted Mouse, Helped Mouse,Helped Mouse save Father and Vincent"
Jacob whispered, "She gave so much to all of us, and she gave methe greatest gift of all, she gave me life. So tonight, on a nightlike she first came to us, we honor her." He lifted his hand andVincent noticed a small object in it. A white rose, like the one hewore close to his heart. Jacob pulled out a long taper candle and litit from one of the torches, then carefully lit the rose in his hand.He passed the taper to Father who did the same and passed italong.
Vincent watched in amazement as slowly across the pool smallflickering lights began to appear, as everyone began lighting thesecandles and one by one laid them on the water's surface. Lightreflected off the water and danced everywhere along the cavern walls,small rainbows illuminated the faces of everyone present and Vincentcould see not one tear was shed, but rather they were all smiling.Even the little ones who had not met Catherine where placing theircandle in the water.
The scent of roses fill the air, and Vincent took a deepshuttering breath, his arm wrapping around his son's shoulders. "Howdid you find so many?"
"Our Helpers collected them, when I told them what we hadplanned." Jacob explained, leaning against his father's broadshoulder. "I wanted to do something special and once word got out,everyone wanted to be a part of it."
Vincent stared out at the candles that were drifting slowlytowards the center. As he stared into the pool, an image formed.
He felt his son tense up and knew that it wasn't his eyes playingtricks; this was a true vision and by the silence that spread acrossthe room, it wasn't only for them.
Catherine looked serenely up at them from beneath the surface ofthe water. Only it wasn't Catherine of once, but the Catherine as shewould have been now, had she lived. Her hair was sun-ripened hay,streaked with a soft grey, and laugh-lines and crows feet creased heronce smooth skin. Her eyes were bright and happy as she looked aroundand then at the two men in her life.
-I love you- her lips formed silently, -Thank you-
Jacob swallowed a sob in his throat as Vincent stood strongly forhis son. Only Catherine could see the tear sliding down his cheek ashis lips also moved silently.
-We love you. You live in us.-
Catherine gave him one of her secret smiles, the ones she reservedfor him alone and through the once silent Bond; he felt the warmcaress of her spirit. Then the candles, melted below the water'slevel began to dim and go out. They watched as her face faded backinto the darkness. One candle remained lit, and it drifted towardsJacob, unaided by breeze or current. He knelt in the water and lookedamazed that it had not even melted. It was a perfect rose.
-Carry my light within you, and you will do great things- he hearda soft voice whisper in his ear and he held the candle close.
"I love you too Mom," he whispered.
"Happy Anniversary Catherine," his father echoed, for the firsttime without sorrow, but with hope.