WHEN THE NIGHTTIME COMES byRhonda Collins Diana woke to the early morning darkness. The tangledsheets hindered her as she climbed out of bed. Her head hurtterribly and her eyes were sore from crying. As she looked at her disheveled image in the mirror, she thought she could seeVincent standing behind her with his long, tousled chestnut maneand gentle eyes, but when she turned, he wasn't there. Sheturned back and leaning on the counter, cried again. "Damn it! I wish I could stop this. I wish HE could stop this. He doesn'trealize what he's doing to me." Diana had always used her psychic ability in her cases. That's why she insisted on working alone and on only one case ata time. But now, she felt Vincent's grief and love for Catherinelike a knife in her heart. She grieved with him, even though shehad never truly known Catherine in life. The trouble was, shecouldn't control her abilities with Vincent, as she could withher cases...she couldn't turn it on and off. The pain Vincentfelt was always present, the feeling to Diana being somewhatanalogous to a sore tooth. But in the past two days it seemedmore like an abscess. Vincent put a good face on it most of the time and wentabout his life fairly normally, but the pain remained, deepinside. Hidden from the world, but not from her. She washed her face and with a little makeup tried to repairthe damage the night had done. As she brushed her long red hair,the pain washed over her again. It was truly absurd. An ironyof fate. She thought back to when she had found Vincent onCatherine Chandler's grave and brought him home to nurse him backto health...but it hadn't really started then. It had begun when she had taken on Catherine's case and hadslowly, through bits and pieces begun finding out about theunusual man whom Catherine had loved, and who had loved her. Asshe read inscriptions in books, read poems that were marked,found all the hints of this love in the bits and pieces ofCatherine's life, she began to feel she knew this strange manjust a little. She picked up feelings from Catherine's things,fuzzy images which tantalized her and drew her closer and closer to Vincent. Then as she began to connect him to the many savage killingsthat had happened around Catherine, she didn't know what tothink. But she realized that somehow Vincent knew when Catherine was in danger, and he was her protector. It wasdifficult to reconcile the gentle man of the inscriptions andpoetry to the savage murders, but she had known instinctivelythat they were connected... that they were the same man. Whenshe found him and saw this visage that would have frightened anyone else, somehow she hadn't even been surprised. She'd knownthis was Vincent--the killer--but also Vincent the lover. As heraged in his fever and deliriums and almost destroyed herapartment, she feared for her safety, but she always waited forthe man she knew to be there to come out. She felt his rage and his own terror caused by his fever and hid behind her gun, andwhen he DID come to himself, something began happening to her. She felt a pull from him she could never explain to anyone. Shecouldn't get him out of her dreams, her thoughts. Vincent had had a psychic bond with Catherine and had beenable to "feel" her emotions, and this bond had helped to create agreater love than Diana could ever have imagined. All herpsychic ability had ever brought HER was the ugliness in people'ssouls. But in helping Vincent to heal, to find and rescue hisson, and in the months since then of simply knowing him--now shewas beginning to feel Vincent's moods more and more often. Andit hadn't been fun.. Last night had been especially bad. It was Jacob's birthday today--the child Catherine had borneVincent, and the anniversary of Catherine's death. Vincent hadbeen up mourning all night, and would continue, she knew, forGod knew how long. Diana had fallen in love with Vincent...and because she nowhad this bond, she knew it was hopeless. Although his andCatherine's son, Jacob, had given Vincent something to live for,Vincent clung to Catherine's memory desperately...afraid to losea single moment of their lives together. How do you fight amemory? How can you even want to fight a woman like Catherine? Diana wouldn't want Vincent to forget Catherine. If he couldforget a love like that, he would indeed be a monster. But howcould she convince him that you CAN love again? Diana hadn't dared to say anything to Vincent about how shefelt--for fear he'd bolt like a rabbit for fear of hurtingher...and himself...and then she wouldn't be able to be near himat all or be able to help him through this. But this had tostop, one way or another. In desperation, she'd printed out herjournal from her computer--all the entries from the last yearthat pertained to Vincent and Catherine and bound them. Sheplanned to present them to Vincent today to make his owndecision. Perhaps if he truly knew he wasn't alone, it wouldhelp...or perhaps he would never see her again. It wasfrightening to her, though, even the thought of letting him seeeven a glimpse inside her soul. She had never let anyone elsein. Diana pulled the curtain over the clippings, photos, and allthe other information on the current case she was working on; aparticularly horrible multiple rape and murder case. Today, shewas forgetting it. She dressed in her sweats and Reeboks androde the elevator down. She wished she had an entrance to thetunnels in her building as Catherine had, but she had to settlefor going to one of the other myriad of openings in the city. She'd learned of many of them and never used the same one twicein a row for secrecy's sake. Once down in the tunnels, Diana pulled the flashlight out ofher shoulder bag--she hated to carry a purse, but down here sheneeded things. She knew her way fairly well, but marked her waywith the blue chalk just in case. She moved quickly through thetunnels: her bond with Vincent gave her an advantage in findingher way through them. She could hear the incessant tapping onthe pipes as people relayed messages. She saw few people aboutwhen she got to the living areas, but it was early yet. She wentfirst to Father's chambers. Diana and Father had become fast friends once he wasconvinced she was no threat to the tunnels or to Vincent. Fatherhad always been opposed to Catherine's tie with Vincent, but hadfinally accepted it, but now, he felt that Vincent needed Diana. He knew his foster son was inwardly dying a little every day withhis grief over Catherine. Outwardly, Vincent was going on with his life and havingJacob helped, but he was still grieving. Father had tried tohelp him let go of the grief, but had been unsuccessful. Fatherhoped that someday Vincent's friendship with Diana would blossominto something more, and bring him out of his despair. He knewalso that Diana loved Vincent, though she had never spoken to himof it. He could see it in her face when she looked at him. AsDiana came to the door of his chamber, he looked up over the rims of his glasses. "Diana, dear, please come in. Iseverything all right?" Looking at her more closely, hemurmured..."No, I suppose not. Is there anything I can do?" Diana looked down, unsure of what to say. "No, Father. Icame to see Vincent, but I'm not sure I should." "He may send you away, Diana. He has everyone else. Heeven has Mary taking care of Jacob, which is just as well. Thepoor child has cried all night, sensing his father's distress. He is finally asleep." Diana brushed her hair out of her face and straightened up. "If there is ever going to be anything for me here... with him, Ihave to tell him how I feel." Father looked alarmed. "Now is perhaps not the best time,child." "No, Father, now IS the time. He's doing himself harm, andif this goes on, he'll harm Jacob as well. It has to stop." She turned and left Father's chamber, and Father sat heavily intohis chair. Vincent's chamber was lit only by one candle and the lightfrom his stained glass window. He sat alone, quietly staringinto space--into his memories. The tears ran slowly down hisface. Diana entered from behind him, quietly, but he heard heranyway. "Diana, please...leave me. This is not a good time." Diana moved around in front of him and kneeled in front ofhim. "Vincent, Catherine is dead..." He rose, enraged, and threw the chair across the chamber. "Don't you know that is all I think about!" "Yes," she said harshly... "That IS all you think about. Catherine would never have wanted you to bottle your love andhide it so deep within you that you smother life. You can't tellme you don't remember....Though lovers be lost, love is not...anddeath shall have no dominion....Death Shall Have NO DominionVincent. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't live ... or loveagain." Vincent stared at her as though he wanted to rend herlimb from limb. He stood with his fists clenched so tightly hisclaws were drawing blood. She flinched, because she didn't justsee his anger at her, she FELT it. In a minute she would losehim completely. "Vincent... Love is like a river. It beginswith a small spring...runs into a stream, changes to a river. The river has eddies and currents... and eventually it runs intothe sea...to join a great body of water. Love is like that too. Catherine's love is with us still. I never met her, but I knewher...I learned to know her and love her, just as I.....learnedto love you...before I ever set eyes upon you. I learned to loveyou THROUGH Catherine." She got up to leave, and she placed her journal in his hands. "Read this. And remember, even if I neversee you again, I'll always be with you, just as you were withCatherine. Remember too, that Catherine still lives inJacob...and someday he will want this day to be remembered withthe joy of his birth...not the horror and despair of his mother's death." Vincent was standing, head bowed, looking at the papers inhis hand as she left the chamber. Diana told Father as she almost ran into him, blind as shewas with tears, "I'll be down at the Mirror Pool if Vincentdecides to see me. If not... " She stumbled through thetunnels down to the Mirror Pool and sat crying softly, for bynow, Vincent was reading her story .... As Vincent read Diana's journal his anger changed, quieted. He was puzzled and concerned. How could I have been so blind asto not see what Diana was going through? She had been a more than a friend to him...had helped him find his son, rescue him. The strangest thing was that he had no feeling of bond with her,as he had with Catherine, but amazingly, she had this bond withhim! His thoughts were turned completely upside down. Suddenly he saw his relationship with Catherine in adifferent light as well. He perhaps hadn't fully realized why ithad taken Catherine so much longer to fall in love with him ...when he had loved HER from the start. It had been impossible forhim not to love Catherine: with his bond, he had felt all thegood, the innocence, inside her...he could feel how she feltabout him. Diana too was gentle, kind, intelligent. She had thesame dedication to helping people that Catherine had...he knew heloved her...he had great respect for her. But am I IN love withher? Vincent had never even allowed himself the possibility. Tohim the only love he could imagine was Catherine, and even thethought was an affront. But what would it be to be without her,as I am without Catherine? That thought was unbearable as well. But he had so little of himself left to give to anyone ... he wasafraid to hurt her, and himself. Meanwhile, Jamie had brought Jacob to Diana at the MirrorPool. They had become fast friends since Diana had beenintroduced to them. "He's a beautiful child, Jamie. I wish hewere mine." Jamie didn't know what to say. She, too, knew how Dianafelt about Vincent. Most of the tunnel dwellers were able to seewhat Vincent had been blind to for so long. "Mouse and I wanted Vincent to be the first to know, but we haven't been able tobring ourselves to talk to him lately ... Mouse and I are inlove, Diana." Diana hugged her friend around the squirming Jacob. "Perhaps soon he will be able to be happy for you withoutfeeling so much pain. But after what I did today, I may not beback for awhile, Jamie, so give Mouse my congratulations...forme. Thank you for bringing Jacob to me. Perhaps you shouldtake him back to Mary for me now, though." As Jamie turned, she saw Vincent in the doorway. He heldout his arms for Jacob, held him close to his breast for amoment, then gave him back to Jamie with a nod. Jamie glancedquickly at Diana, then left. Vincent turned then to anextremely pale Diana. He reached out and brushed her hair backfrom her face. "How could I not know, Diana? I'm so sorry." Diana reached up and stroked his face. "How COULD you know? Every love is different, that's why it's so wonderful." Vincent looked troubled, and said quietly, "I can neverforget Catherine, Diana. It wouldn't be fair to you." Diana just smiled, and said, "Vincent, I would never wantyou to. Don't forget her. Cherish those memories. Just don'tforget that I'm here for you, in whatever capacity you want orneed...friend ...or lover. I'm with you wherever you are andwhatever you do...and your grief is what's killing me. I wantto help you let go of the grief, not of Catherine. Just...don'tsend me away. Let me be a friend, at least." Vincent held her for a moment, and tears glistened in hiseyes. "I would never send you away." They talked for a long while, and Vincent felt more at peacethan he had in months. The constant ache of Catherine's losswas still present, but it was somehow eased. They walked hand inhand back to Father's chambers. Father looked up, instantly taking in the change in Vincent. He was relieved to see that Diana was smiling as well. "Well, Isee you are feeling better, Vincent. Changing the subject, Father put his book away and cleared his throat, "Um..Also,Diana, Mouse tells me he has an idea for a tunnel extension tothe basement of your building, with a secret door. Would that beof benefit to you?" Diana looked as though someone had given her the world. "Oh, yes! Father, that would be wonderful! The only othertenant left in the building is an artist who uses the bottomhalf of the building mostly for storage, so it would work outwonderfully! Can it really be managed?" Vincent just looked from one to another of them, more than alittle puzzled. Was I really been so far sunk in my grief thatI had not realized how close Father and Diana had become, andwhat a good rapport they have? He shook his head, a littleashamed of himself. Vincent walked Diana back to the tunnel exit she wasplanning to use this time, and they walked in a companionablesilence, glancing at each other quietly from time to time. "You're feeling better, I see," Diana said. "And FEEL, from what I hear," Vincent chuckled, looking ather with his head cocked. "I must admit, I never realized quitehow that must have made Catherine feel at times...it's a little...odd. Especially since I've been on the receiving endbefore. It's going to take a little getting used to." Dianatook his hand and stroked it. It feels good to me just to knowyou'll try to accept my love ... even if it will never be morethan friendship." "Diana..." Vincent began..."I think you know it's alreadymore than just friendship, but where it will lead ... how deepit will grow, we will simply have to wait to find that out. Ionly fear to disappoint you." Diana looked up at Vincent and placed her hand on his chest."Life is full of disappointments, but love is all that matters,and you can't find that without risks. You knew that withCatherine. Remember it with me." She pulled his head down andkissed him gently, hiding herself in the curtain of his hair. Diana left the tunnels, and after reaching the street,hailed a cab to go home. As she was getting out of the elevatorshe heard the telephone. "Damn!" Rushing to get it, she hit herknee and was hobbling around when she answered the phone. "Diana here," "Well, it's about time," Joe said, his usually cheerfulvoice sounding angry, "Where have you been? ...Never mind. Wehave another one. I need you down here now." Rushing to get cleaned up a little and change, she thenhailed another taxi and headed to the morgue. Joe met her andthey went to examine the body of a 26-year-old, red haired girlwho had once been beautiful. Now, her raped and mutilated bodywas the only testimony she would ever be able to make as to whathad happened. Diana turned away. After today, she simply couldn'ttolerate the sickness of the outside world. She had to get thisanimal. "There's been another turn, too, Bennett. This was pinnedto the body." It was a note for her. Whoever this man was, heknew she was getting close, knew who she was. "Be careful,Diana. We put a patrol outside your apartment, but we neverknow where you are to protect you." Diana shrugged, dismissing Joe's suggestion. "I can't workthat way anyway, Joe, you know that. I can take care of myself. I always have." Diana left the morgue and headed home. She knew she wasbeing followed, but she wasn't sure if it was police or thekiller...though she suspected the latter: she could feel asubmerged hatred. She still had her bag with her gun in it, andopened it. Just as she reached the apartment, she was grabbed from behind and dragged into a car. Her assailant was big, andas he tied and gagged her, all her plans and struggling went outthe window along with her bag. She lay in the back seat as hedrove away, wishing that Vincent did have the bond with her he'dhad with Catherine. Unless she was very, very lucky, or very,very good ... she was done for. The car stopped. Diana heard the driver's side door open and footsteps comingaround to get her. When he opened the door, she kicked him in the face, but he grabbed her feet first and pulled her out ontothe pavement, hitting her head on the concrete. She passed out,and when she came to, with her hands and feet still tied, he hadher inside an apartment, his presumably, and locked in a filthybathroom. She looked around, dug under the sink, shoving herhead up underneath and feeling behind her, and found a wrench. She began tapping the code for Vincent's name and an SOS. on thepipes. The killer didn't come and stop her, so she kept it up,over and over...hoping someone would hear. Night wore on, and Diana could see little out of the tinywindow. She continued her tapping off and on, knowing Pascalwould eventually hear it, but she had to keep it up so they couldlocate her. She wondered where the man had gone, and how longshe had before he came back. She stopped tapping periodicallyto rest, exhausted, against the tub, or to work at her bonds,trying to get loose. Her hands were tied too tightly, but bywiggling and hooking the rope on the handle in back of thetoilet, she was able to finally get the rope off her legs. Shebegan tapping again doggedly. They just had to hear her. "C'mon, Pascal...find me." Pascal listened to the pipes carefully. That SOS. andVincent's name had been going on for a while now. He had beenable with the children's help, to trace it to an outskirt of thecity, and pinpoint it to a specific building. He had sent forVincent when he knew where it was coming from. Vincent appeared in the doorway. "Pascal, what is it?" "Listen..." Pascal whispered. Alarmed, Vincent listened to it twice..."Everyone isaccounted for?" "Yes." "Then it must be Diana...where?" Pascal went with Vincent to Father's chambers and pointedout on the maps where the building was. As soon as Vincent had memorized the location, he took offin his ground-eating stride toward the subways. He waited andleaped onto the first train going the right direction. He rodethe roof of the train, clutching the grooves in the top with hisclaws, his mane flying behind him, He became more and moreworried...and enraged. He couldn't lose Diana too. When he hadlost the bond with Catherine, she had died...because he couldn'tfind her to save her. If the same thing happened with Diana, hecouldn't bear it. He leaped off the train when it stopped nearthe intersection he needed. He heard the tapping again, feltthe pipe, and redirected himself. Soon he found himself underneath the building, but could find no entrance...and thetapping had stopped. He must go Above. Inside the building the door to the bathroom opened andDiana saw a big, ugly, vicious-looking man dressed incongruouslyin an expensive suit...carrying a surgical scalpel. My, shethought, He is ready to do business. She backed against thewall, getting as far away as possible, but he knocked the wrenchout of her hands and forced her into the other room. There werepictures of his other victims on the walls. "Now, my dear,you'll have to join my other friends." Diana was fighting her bonds. She knew Vincent was just outside, but she was losing herown reasoning power: she was beginning to lose herself to hisrage. As the man was closing on her, suddenly she broke the bondson her own wrists and grabbed the hand that held the scalpel. She knocked him off balance, pulled him down, kneeing him in thegroin, then growling like an animal herself, she tore thescalpel from his hand and used it to slash his throat. As Vincent roared and broke the door down, he saw to hisastonishment and horror the man lying over Diana. They werecovered in blood. At first he thought both of them were dead,but then Diana moved, trying to pull herself from under theman's dead weight. Vincent rushed to her side, dragging herfrom under the would-be killer, and lifted her carefully to thebed. She seemed dazed, stunned. He murmured to her, stroking her hair, and pried the scalpel from her hand. He could see what had happened, but could not understand how. He removed hiscloak and wrapped her in it, then lifted and carried her gentlyback to the tunnels, to Father. As Father examined Diana, Mary went to get clean clothes andwater to wash the blood off of her. When Father finished, heturned to Vincent, "She is in shock, Vincent, but I think she iscoming around. She seems to be doing better. Whateverhappened?" Vincent told father all he knew... and surmised, butneither of them could explain Diana's torn wrists. There was a small moan from Diana, then she said in a barelyaudible voice ..."Vincent...you're here." Vincent smiled at her and held her hand, "Yes. You're inmy chamber. You're safe." Diana slept then, and Father leftVincent to watch over her. Vincent sat watching Diana sleeping in his bed, and thoughthow lovely she was, with her long red hair fanned out aroundher. How had he never seen it before? How had he never realizedhow much he had come to love her? He thought of Catherine, andhow he had sat next to her exactly like this when he had foundher in the park that night, dying, and how his bond had formedwith her during that time of healing. Suddenly he realized thatit did not matter to him if the bond never formed for him withDiana. The bond had been a gift, as Catherine had said...formedin a time of deep need for him. She had told him that therewere so many gifts waiting for him in life and that all he had todo was open his arms for them. He was amazed at how alikeCatherine and Diana were, and how wise...and yet...howdifferent. Diana woke and saw Vincent looking gently down at her...andturned away. She remembered the rage and the blood, and whatshe had done. Vincent didn't know the ugliness inside her. It wasn't that she fed on his rage, it was that she didn't need tohave that rage to be able to kill. She had killed Gabriel incold blood, and she was glad. And she wasn't sorry she hadkilled the man last night. But Vincent could never understandthat, and if he ever really knew her, as he had Catherine...how could he love her? Right now all she felt was his love andconcern reaching out to her, blanketing her in comfort, and allshe wanted to do was to escape into his arms from all theugliness in the world ... all the ugliness that had found itsway inside of her. "Diana," Vincent said quietly, "you're safe now. Don't beafraid." "I'm not afraid, Vincent, I'm ashamed." Diana whispered. Vincent turned her and cradled her against him, tears in hiseyes, "I know that shame, Diana." Diana pulled away, forcing Vincent to look at her. "No...your shame is not the same as mine, Vincent. You believeit is, but it's not. I know that Catherine told you many timesthat all people have a dark side...you told me that...but youcan't understand my dark side. If you did, you could never carefor me." Vincent touched Diana's face gently. "I may not have thesame bond with you that I had with Catherine...or that you havewith me...but I know you Diana, and there is no evil in you." Diana flung herself from Vincent's bed, standing before himin the patched flannel gown Mary had put her in, her red hairflowing over her shoulders, and her face twisted in pain. "Vincent, you don't understand the extent of my psychic ability. With Catherine, you bonded with her alone... In my work, I getinto the minds of murderers, devils. Their thoughts become my thoughts. That is what I do. The evil is inside me. I can'tget it out. I don't think I can ever get it out. I feel asthough I've absorbed it. I never could love anyone ... never letthem in ... because I always saw everything, and what I saw deepinside them inevitably disgusted me. Until I met you. Evenyour rages are clean in comparison to the filth I experience upthere every day. Your soul is a refuge for mine, and I feel asthough I soil you by touching you!" Tears streamed down herface, and she shook with her need to be held by him. Vincent seemed thunderstruck. He had never considered howextensive her abilities were. He knew she was intelligent andintuitive and he knew she had the bond with him--but what she wastelling him was impossible to comprehend. He was speechless fora moment, and in that moment, Diana whirled, grabbed her clothesfrom the chair and ran from the chamber. Diana fled past Father straight to Jamie's chamber, whereshe tore off the nightgown and dressed quickly. She had toleave here now before she did any damage to Vincent. If he everlearned of how she had fed on his own rage in order to gain thestrength to break her bonds...and kill that man, what would itdo to him...or to any chance of his ever loving her? As Vincent started after Diana, Father met him at the doorand caught his arm..."No Vincent, let her go for now. Go to herin awhile." "Father, I have to help her. If what she tells me is true,I must go to her and be there for her." Father was confused, "What did she tell you that has upsetyou both so?" Vincent just looked at Father, torn with a desire to tellhim and ask his counsel, and yet feeling this wasn't somethingDiana would wish him to share. "I cannot say for now,Father...but I have to go to her." As Father watched Vincent rush down the tunnel looking forDiana, he held onto the hope that good might still come of thiswoman for Vincent. Looking for Diana, Vincent saw Jamie..."Where is she Jamie? I must find her." "She went above, Vincent." Jamie took Vincent's hand,concerned for both of her friends." Please. Let her calm down. She says she has to go to Joe Maxwell and tell him whathappened." Vincent hung his head as he leaned against the wall. Heshook his head when Jamie asked if she could help. Slowly hemade his way back to his chamber, and sat restlessly...after along while, he lay down, exhausted by his emotions and fellasleep. He dreamed he was following Catherine's voice through the mist, but he could not find her. Catherine's voice told him, "We loved, Vincent. Remember love, but remember too that Though Lover's be lost, Love is not. Then he saw himself and Catherine as they had been when Catherine told him "Life has so many gifts waiting for you. All you have to do is open your arms for them. Open your arms, Vincent." He did, and Catherine moved into them, but ....when he looked down at her face, it was Diana! Vincent awoke, drenched in sweat. Going to Mary, Vincentasked if she would continue caring for Jacob until he returned. "Tell Father not to worry, but I will be away for a while. Iwill be back soon." He kissed Jacob, marveling again at thechild's beauty, and took his leave of Mary. Vincent had decided to go to Diana's loft and wait for herthere. By the time he reached the apartment, it was dark and hewas able to go to the roof. This time, instead of simply waitingfor her on the roof, he forced his way inside. He stoodupstairs, looking down at Diana's cluttered apartment. Slowly,he walked downstairs, feeling an intruder. Suddenly, he stoppeddead in his tracks...Catherine's rose bush! It was here...andalive! He knelt next to it, touching the petals softly, and thetears began to fall again. Diana had saved it and cherished it. Rising, he went to her wall and pulled the curtain away,revealing the mass of clippings, police photos, ...all the sordiddetails of the last case Diana had been working on ... the onethat had almost killed her. He saw what this man had beendoing, and a growl rumbled, starting deep in his throat. This iswhat he had intended for Diana! If she had seen into hismind...no wonder she felt soiled. Carefully, he closed thecurtain and went to the bedroom. Diana's furnishings andappointments were so different from Catherine's... more...functional, somehow. He looked around. Everywhere he sawpracticality and function...very few frills. He sat in theoverstuffed chair next to the bed to wait. A little later, Vincent heard the elevator and closed thedoor to the bedroom, just in case Diana wasn't alone. When Diana came out of the elevator, she knew Vincent washere, patiently waiting. Her stomach was churning with thegrueling interview she had just had with Joe and the coroner. There would be a hearing later, but Joe said there would be noproblem for her as far as her killing the man. It had been self-defense. She wished he were right... but the problems wereproblems only she knew about. She went to the kitchen andwashed her face, preparing to talk to Vincent...she was afraidthat would be almost as difficult as her meeting with Joe. When Diana turned, she saw that Vincent had come out of thebedroom and was standing there with his arms outstretched forher, and she ran to him, but stopped just short. Vincentdropped his arms, but said softly, "I needed to know you werewell...so I came to you." Diana's need to be in his arms was almost overwhelming, butshe remained where she was. "I'm well enough. Thank you,Vincent ... for coming. There were ... unpleasant things I hadto take care of, but Joe says everything will be fine." Vincentmoved over to the window and stood looking out at the city. Thelights were like jewels in the darkness, but he couldn't seeanything, his heart was too sore thinking of Diana's pain."Diana, why will you not let me comfort you? I know there issomething disturbing you ... something deeply wrong. Please letme help." "No one can help me with what's wrong, Vincent ... it'ssomething only I can deal with," Diana said bitterly. Vincent turned to face her again, a little angered, butpuzzled as well. "Diana, friends help one another, and we...are more than friends. Where I would be without you, I cannotbear to think about. The darkness can be deadly, especiallywhen the darkness is inside you." Changing the subject, seeinghe was making her uncomfortable, he moved softly past her toCatherine's rose bush. "It's like suddenly coming upon a livingpart of Catherine unexpectedly. For you to have done this, ...was wonderful." "I didn't do it for you, Vincent," she said flatly,"although I'm glad it pleases you. I don't like to see peopledie, and when I become involved in their lives through my cases,it's like a small part of them comes alive to me. When I sawCatherine's roses were almost dead, it became important to mesomehow to save them. It was before I met you. Catherine'smind and heart were clean and innocent. When I touch her thingsI feel that innocence, that goodness." She paused, consideringhow much to say, then continued, blushing..."You know, Vincent,I even talk to her sometimes...about you, and Jacob. I sit talking to that stupid rose bush as if she were here." Touched, Vincent didn't know what to say at first. Then, hejust smiled and said, "I talk to her too. But I talk to herabout Jacob...and you." Vincent took Diana's hand and led her tothe roof, where they stood looking out at the city. Tentatively, Vincent put his arm around Diana and felt her tremble. "Are you cold," he asked, starting to remove his cloak. "No, Vincent. I'm fine. Just hold me, please. I need tofeel your quiet." As Vincent's arms enclosed her, Diana let hermind go. Let it heal a little. His strength and goodness wereall she wanted now. Tomorrow would have to take care of itself. After a while of standing there, her head against his chest,listening to his heartbeat, she looked up at him and smiled. "Somehow, this reminds me of a poem I read recently. Have youever read Rod McCuen, Vincent?" "Yes. Some. Why?" Diana quoted: "Caught in the quiet off on our own coming together staying alone." Vincent brushed her hair back and kissed her forehead. "Imust leave soon. I have Jacob to think of. But you are notalone. If you need me...ever...you know where I am. When youbecome tired, and afraid of the darkness...let me be your safeharbor, your quiet place. Diana watched Vincent leave then went inside. She pickedup a volume of Rod McKuen's poetry, turned to a page she hadmarked, and read, From your arms I'll make a wall then I'll never be alone I'll let your arms encircle me When the nighttime comes. From your smile I'll build a wall the tallest wall that man has known Then I'll hide behind your smile and I'll never be alone. She closed the book thoughtfully, then went to bed. Shecould still feel Vincent's peace and innocence. How a man couldbe as wise as he and still have that ...essence... of innocencedespite all that had happened to him, she didn't know, buthowever he came to be what he was, he was unique...in every way.End.