This story originally appeared in the now out-of-print fanzineHeart of the Minstrel in 1990. It is my idea of the missingscenes between Gabriel's death and Diana's attendance at Jacob'snaming ceremony. Beauty and the Beast and its characters areowned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. This story ispresented merely for the enjoyment of fans.
by J. Patterson
Her fury was ice. The man--inhuman; man wasn't the rightterm to use, the creature--slumped against the dark wood door,his eyes glittering in exhilaration, certain he had eluded death. Hestruggled to pull himself upright. His face was laid open by deep,claw-carved furrows, the working of his jaw muscle visible as heunconsciously licked his own blood from his lips. He knew, as well ashe knew his own power, that she wouldn't be able to pull thetrigger.
It was a fatal misjudgment. Diana Bennett had lived lives that theone called Gabriel could not begin to imagine. She had strength thatfar transcended her pale, flame-haired appearance. This one had todie. She raised the gun and with practiced accuracy, firedit--once--directly into his heart. He fell again, a look ofastonishment frozen on his face.
"Not this time."
* * *
Vincent stopped on the stairs outside the nursery door, consumedby an inner war. The child--his son--was quieting as Vincent held himsecurely against his chest. He must get the child Below. But the oneresponsible for so much pain and death, the one responsible forCatherine's death, still lived. Vincent shuddered, trying tosuppress his rising frenzy, torn between safety and revenge.
And Diana was with him. If Gabriel hurt Diana, it wouldstart all over again. His son would never be safe. Everyone Belowwould be in danger.
Vincent snarled and turned, giving in to the white-hot desire toutterly destroy Gabriel, to feel the man's blood cooling on hishands. The baby started to whimper as Vincent's passions intensified.Just as he started back up the stairs, the muffled crack of a gunshotstayed him.
* * *
Diana stepped across the room and prodded Gabriel's body with herfoot, pistol cocked and ready. She would never question a heart shoton anyone else, but this one wasn't like anyone else. The body waslimp responsive, a gory, scarlet stain marring the creamy shirt. Butit didn't feel complete. It didn't feel like he wasgone.
She reached down to grab the shoulder of his suit coat and pulledhim away from the door and over, dropping him face down on the floor.The skeletal form was almost weightless. She aimed the muzzle of thegun at the base of the skull, just at the top of the spine, andpulled the trigger. Twice.
This time, she knew it was finished.
* * *
Another step. Two more quick shots. Vincent's rage began todissipate and the baby calmed again. He wondered how he knew it wasover, that Gabriel was dead. That Diana had killed him. That she wassafe. It could just as easily be the other way around.
The door to the nursery swung open and Diana appeared in thedoorway, caution blended with infinite weariness on her face. Herblue eyes, electric, locked onto Vincent's. He felt a sudden weight,saw her tense.
"Vincent! Why are you still here?" Her voice came out in a hissand her eyes darted from his face to the stairway behind him, sweptthe hallway, and met his again. "Father is waiting for you."
His one-word explanation was colored with pain.
"It's over. You've gotta get out of here."
Vincent sagged against the wall, releasing his pent-up breath inan explosive sigh. He glanced down at his son, who flooded him withinnocent wonder and trust. His son. It was over. Gratitude filledhim. Catherine's murderer was dead himself. The person responsible,the one who had taken the duty from him, who had killed the man forhim, closed the nursery door and started down the stairs.
She never looked back. She passed him, not bothering to check ifhe would follow. But he did follow. Once in the basement, she stoppedin front of a large duct which was almost hidden behind a clutter ofshrouded, abandoned furniture.
"This leads out under the wall that surrounds this compound. Fromthere, it's about twenty yards east--" she pointed to the right-- "tothe entrance to a sewer tunnel. It's damn narrow through there." Shepaused for a moment and evaluated Vincent. "It won't be easy. If youfollow that tunnel for about a mile, then climb out, Father will bethere. Waiting. Go."
"What about you?"
Diana knew why he had hesitated, and she hoped she couldeventually make him understand why she had to be the one to pull thetrigger. But right now there was no time. Joe Maxwell was on the waywith an army. She had to renew her composure, weave the threads ofher story into something firm and convincing. And Vincent couldn't beanywhere nearby. She couldn't risk having him discovered.
"I'll be fine. The police are on their way."
He looked at her, exhausted, and climbed into the mouth of theduct. Once he was inside, she picked up the grillwork which she hadkicked out on her way in and hammered it back into place with a blockof wood. Vincent watched her from inside the tunnel, the child quietin the curve of one arm.
The voice was rusty, loaded. She cut him off before he couldcontinue.
"Save it, Vincent. Go."
"I will come to you."
That brought her head up. She met his eyes, saw what was unspoken.She nodded abruptly, her face unreadable. He turned to go, but shespoke his name, and as he faced her again she said, "It wasCatherine's gun." She turned away herself then and left thebasement.
Vincent watched as Diana walked to the basement stairs, her headdown. He wanted to call out to her, to ask her to come with himthrough the tunnels to safety Below, but he knew she had duties tofinish. He said a small prayer of protection for her as he startedhis own journey home.
* * *
Diana had been right, he discovered. The tunnels here were verynarrow and rusty, and it wasn't easy to fit through, especiallycarrying the baby. In places he had to lay the child on the floor ofthe tunnel, squeeze his own large frame through, and then reach backand pull the baby to him. It was a slow process. The child was quietand content, and the small sparks of strength he generated gaveVincent the determination to press on. There was much of Catherine inthis child. All of Catherine in this world.
The tunnel through which Vincent crawled suddenly opened up into apassage where he could easily walk upright, about half a mile fromthe point where Diana had said Father would be waiting. Vincentthankfully stood and stretched cramped muscles. He rested, cradlinghis son, contemplating all that had happened to bring him to this. Hebegan to speak quietly to the child, who regarded his father's facewith rapt attention.
"I have known the greatest love a man can know. I would've giveneverything for her without one regret. Instead, she gave everythingfor me. To me. She gave me you."
Vincent could feel the bond with his son, small but steady, like atiny candle flame in the corner of his soul. He poured out his lovefor the baby through that resilient connection. Then he thought ofthe depth of the bond he had shared with Catherine, and a single tearwelled up and slid down his cheek. The baby regarded him gravely. Helet out a shuddering breath, and with a gentle, clawed finger,carefully traced the side of the child's satiny cheek
"You will know of her, little one. You will know how much sheloved you." Vincent took a moment to readjust the baby's blanket andsettle him securely against his chest. "But right now, someone elseis waiting for us."
* * *
Diana watched as Joe Maxwell arrived with a battalion of police atthe gate of Gabriel's compound. All of Gabriel's minions--the oneswho had survived, at least--seemed to have disappeared from theproperty. Rats from a sinking ship, Diana thought grimly. OnceJoe was inside and has men were canvassing the large house, sheslipped, unnoticed, into the foyer.
She whirled around, a suitable look of surprise on her face, toconfront a S.W.A.T. officer, gun trained on her.
"Yes, I'm Diana Bennett. What's going on here?" Where's JoeMaxwell?"
"He went upstairs. He said you might be here--"
"I just arrived."
As she spoke, Joe appeared at the top of the staircase, agitated,hollering.
"Daughtery! Damn it, where is he? I need--" He looked down thenand saw Diana at the foot of the stairs.
"Jesus Christ, what's happening here? Diana! Where have youbeen?"
Diana started up the stairs.
"Traffic, Joe. I just got here. What have you got?"
"Believe me, you don't want to see it. If that was Gabriel--" hejerked his head back toward the nursery door-- "someone wanted tomake damn sure he was dead. You!" Joe hailed the S.W.A.T. officer,who had posted himself at the foot of the stairs. "Find LieutenantDaughtery. Tell him we need forensics, and an M.E." The officernodded and left the foyer. Joe turned back to Diana, shaking hishead. "I'm never gonna understand this one."
"How did he die?" Diana made her question sound disinterested,professionally curious.
"He's been shot in the chest, and in the back of the head. With ahand gun."
"Did you find the weapon?"
"That's the strange thing. It's a nursery, Diana, and the gun waslying in the crib. In the crib! But there's no kid anywhere insight." He rubbed one hand over his face. "Why do I know that we'redealing with Cathy Chandler's kid here? Hell, maybe even Cathy's gun?And I'll bet we're not gonna find any fingerprints."
Diana knew Joe wasn't healed from Catherine Chandler's death, andevery time the wound was reopened, it tore just a little deeper.He'll have his healing now, she thought.
"If that is Gabriel, then it's over, Joe. I'm through with thecase."
"Right. That's right. Sorry it had to end this way. Maybe the nextone will have a cleaner finish."
"They never do, Joe." She caught his eyes for a moment, readinghim, and knew he was weary and would let it end here, with the deathof the man who had killed Catherine Chandler. "Sometimes you justhave to let them go."
Joe nodded. Diana held his eyes for a moment, then turned and leftthe house.
* * *
As Vincent travelled towards Father, towards home, the babystarted to coo and gurgle, his bright eyes locked on his father's.The baby's vocalizations echoed in the cavernous pipe where theywalked. Vincent's preternatural hearing picked up the impatientshuffle of Father's pacing long before the older man came into sight,and he smiled down at his contented son.
"You are announcing our arrival, aren't you? I'm sure Fathercouldn't want for a sweeter sound to herald our safety andapproach."
Vincent came around a bend in the course of the tunnel and sawFather's head fly up, saw joy and relief and wonder and hesitationand love flicker across his face. He stepped forward with the childin his arms.
* * *
There had been a comet the night Elliot Burch died, the night thatshe had found Vincent. A "beggar's comet," Mark had said. Diana stoodon the roof of her building and gazed without seeing through hertelescope. It had been two weeks since Gabriel's death, and theinvestigation had been put on the shelf. It seemed that everyone justwanted to leave this one alone. She was between cases herself, andshe was restless. Whatever it was she was looking for was not to befound in the clear night sky.
A slight rustle, the sound of a footstep. She whirled away fromthe roof's edge and her hand went unconsciously to the revolver whichwas thrust into the waistband of her slacks.
No answer. Before she could pull the gun, a large form solidifiedfrom the shadows and a voice quietly spoke her name.
He stepped forward to where she could see him clearly. He wasobviously rested and recovered from his long ordeal; he felt bothcentered and empty to her. Resigned was the word she wouldchoose.
"I promised that I would come to you."
"How is the child?"
He tipped his shaggy head back for a moment, joy playing at theedges of his melancholy.
"He is well. He is growing stronger."
The silence lingered, blue eyes locked on blue eyes. Each foundstrength and resilience in the other and communicated appreciationfor that. Then Vincent spoke.
"I came to thank you for all that you have done for me. For us. Iowe you a debt that I cannot repay."
"You owe me nothing."
"Then perhaps I could ask one thing more of you?"
She waited, anticipating his question.
"Tell me--why did you kill Gabriel?"
She turned from him and leaned her arms on the wall of the roof'sedge and shuddered, then dropped her head on her arms. Sheconsciously subdued the emotions which roiled through her, and whenshe turned back to Vincent, who stood stolid and patient, she wascalm.
"I had to. I think you understand that. He wasn't--an ordinaryman."
"What was he?"
"Then what are you?"
"What do you think I am?"
He studied her for a moment, stepping closer to see her moreclearly in the grey darkness of the city night. She opened herself tohis gaze, and she saw his eyes widen as he scrutinized her.
"You are--" He hesitated, wondering, not finding the words. "Thereis a depth in you I have never--felt--in anyone else. It's as if youwere--"
He stopped speaking, speculative. She wondered what he might havesaid next. "Timeless"? "Immortal"? "Not human"? She had heard themall, for one reason or another. So very few could really feel, couldbegin to understand. She smiled a tight, small smile, and looked awayfrom him, embarrassed.
"I have a responsibility. And an uneasy talent. Sometimes I don'twant it. But I don't have any choice. I hope, someday, I'll accept itfor myself." She looked back and saw that he was listening, absorbingher words. His attentiveness gave her the courage to continueexplaining things to which she had never given voice. "This case,Catherine's murder, started out like any other one. But then I beganto understand what she had--what you had together. I had to findyou."
She began pacing a small area of the rooftop, looking out over thecity or down at her feet, but never meeting his eyes. She had to takethis chance, to tell someone. Someone who could understand.
"There are very few absolutes in this world. And no one wants tosee them, so they dwell all their lives in the grey areas. Absolutes.Like light. Dark.Good. Evil. Life. Death." She stopped pacing andtook a deep breath, raising her eyes to his face. "Like love. Likethe love you have with Catherine."
"Catherine is gone."
"Is she? Look into your heart, and tell me she's gone."
He closed his eyes. Diana wrapped her arms around herself andstared out into the night. Minutes passed. She began to tremble, butstilled as he started to speak.
"She will be with me always."
"Yes. Hold on to that. Very few people are given the strength tosee what you have seen, to have what you have. I can only appreciateit."
"Yours is a different strength."
"Yes." She smiled again, sadly, but with the knowledge thatVincent understood. "I can see the absolutes. Sometimes, I'mcompelled to act on them. And pay the price for my actions. So othersdon't have to. That's my choice. And you," she said, reaching up tolay one hand gently on the side of his face, "have paid enough forone lifetime."
He brought one large, golden hand up to cover hers. She could feelhis respect and appreciation, and knew he could feel hercompassion.
"What I feel--" he began.
"Is what I feel," Diana finished for him. "But what you andCatherine have is so much more. It's everything. Something the restof us can hope for." She walked a bit away from him, her headdown.
It wasn't quite over. She looked back over her shoulder at him,her hair like cold fire tied loosely at the back of her neck.
"You are not alone."
"Yes, Vincent, I am."
"Not as long as I live."
She had no answer for that, for the noble, haunted soul who hadstood and pledged to her, unconditionally, the gift of hisfriendship. She remembered the assumption she had made when she hadfirst found him, that he was alone in the world and wouldn't survivehis quest without the help she had been compelled to give. But hislife was not a fragile one, any more than was hers. And they hadeach, in their own worlds, come to full term with theiraloneness.
The difference was Catherine. Vincent held in his heart a rarejewel, and Diana felt the echo of that love in him. Perhaps she wouldsomeday find the one who would fulfill the potential in herself. Fornow, she had the glorious responsibility of a true friend.
He came toward her then, gathering her into a warm, secureembrace. She relaxed very slightly against him, then pulled back tolook into his eyes. He saw her caution and acceptance, acknowledgedit, and released her.
"It is a tradition in my world," he said, "to welcome childreninto the community with a naming ceremony. A christening, a baptism.The ceremony to welcome my son will be tomorrow evening. I came hereto ask you if you would attend. As my guest. Now I ask you--as myfriend."
The feeling was wonder.
"I'll be there," she answered.