And Death Shall Have No Dominion

By Fields of Lavender

Chapter Index 


Chapter 16


The baby stopped nursing and fell asleep against his mother's breast.  Catherine was dozing against Vincent with his head resting on hers.  She roused as the baby shifted and the cool air of the tunnel blew against her exposed breast.  “Mmm, Vincent, we should get moving.  It's an hour's walk to the nearest pipe.”

Vincent said nothing and his head seemed heavy against hers.  “Vincent?”  She shifted, but he didn't move.  She laid the baby in her lap and reached up with both hands to Vincent.  She held his head in place and scooted over so she could see him.  His head lolled against the tunnel wall.  “Vincent?” she said again.

Catherine moved again and took off her sweatshirt.  She folded it and put it on the tunnel floor.  She wrapped the baby more securely in his blanket and laid him on the sweatshirt.  The baby stirred, but was so content and full of his mother's milk, he stayed asleep.  Catherine stood and then knelt in front of Vincent.  She said his name and again, there was no response.

She touched his face and pressed her cheek against his lips.  He was breathing.  She shifted lower and pressed her ear to his chest.  There was his heartbeat, steady and strong.  She released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding.  He was alive.  This wasn't a repeat of that horrible time in the cavern.

She loosened his cloak and pushed it back.  She opened his vest and looked at his shirt.  The injury he had suffered when he and Elliot Burch had been confronted by John Moreno was bleeding.  She opened his shirt to examine the wound and paused, mesmerized by the strength and comfort of Vincent’s naked chest.  She bent and pressed a kiss reverently over his heart, then turned her attention back to his wound.  The dressing was soaked and the blood had oozed onto his shirt.  She searched her pockets and found a clean handkerchief.  She removed the dressing and wiped the blood away.  It seemed like the wound had stopped bleeding, but it looked reddened and sore.  He hissed through his teeth when she rubbed harder.  She glanced up at his face and saw his eyes were still closed.  She folded the handkerchief, pressed it over the wound and closed his shirt and vest over it. 

She remembered his wincing when she had tried to hold his hands earlier and moved to them.  She turned them over and gasped.  Both palms and all his fingers were red and blistered and bleeding.  They looked like burns.  The fur on the back of the left one looked singed.  She was out of anything to make bandages and even she knew they needed to be cleaned before they could be dressed.  She laid his hands gently in his lap and then leaned up to kiss his forehead.  He sighed in his sleep.

“Oh, my love.  What did he do to you?”

Catherine eased Vincent down on to the floor of the tunnel and wrapped his cloak around him snugly.  She lifted the baby up, put her sweatshirt back on and tucked the baby inside next to her.  She sat as close to Vincent as she could.  How she wished for a candle.  It seemed darker now that Vincent was unconscious.  (“Asleep!” she silently corrected herself.  “He's asleep.”)  Never a fan of the dark, she tried to remain calm and weigh her options.

She could stay here, but there were no supplies and she wouldn't last long.  She was still weak from her ordeal and Vincent needed medical attention.  She thought the baby did too, although he seemed to be sleeping peacefully since she had nursed him.

So, they needed to get back to the main tunnels.  She could take the baby, but what about Vincent?  Would he be all right if she left him and went to the pipes?  Would she find the right way in the dark?  Maybe Father would worry and send someone to look for them?  No, she couldn't count on that, for how long could they passively wait here?

She leaned over Vincent.  She began to shake him, roughly, and called his name, loudly.  He moaned, but didn't waken.  She redoubled her efforts, but all that happened was another moan from Vincent and then the baby woke up.  She looked down into his deep blue eyes.  “I don't know what to do, Little One,” she said.  He continued to look up at her.  “Well, maybe it will work again,” she answered.

She shifted closer to Vincent's head and bent towards his face.  She kissed his mouth softly at first, and then, relishing the rare taste of his lips, she kissed him more firmly and deeply.  He moaned again under her mouth, but did not awaken.

She signed and looked down at the baby.  “I guess I don't have it back, yet.”  The baby gurgled and waved his arms.  “I know, I know.  I just don't think I have it in me.” 

The baby squirmed more vigorously and whimpered a little.  “Shh, shh,” Catherine crooned and rocked him a little.  The baby refused to settle, but did not cry out.  Then, she heard it too: footsteps, moving quickly.

She was so disoriented in the dark, that she couldn't tell if they were coming from Gabriel's mansion or the Main Tunnels.  She tucked the baby in the crook of Vincent's arm and stood up.  She was at a distinct disadvantage with no light and no weapon.  But, she stood surely over her man and her baby, ready to defend them against whatever would come.


After spending most of the night in Gabriel's mansion, Joe was exhausted.  Diana looked even worse, but there were some loose threads that they both needed to tie up.  He insisted he buy her coffee.  She agreed, as long as she could sleep for the next two days without interruption.

They sat across from each other letting the coffee steam between them.  Diana sighed.  “Why don't you just ask the big question, Joe, before it eats you alive?”

“I don't even know where to begin.  I thought we were in this together, then you took off and left me standing there, holding the bag.”

“I didn't have a choice, Joe.”

“You didn't?  Where did you go when you left me at the museum?”

Diana sighed and closed her eyes.  “I got into the house.”


She idly spooned sugar into her cup.  She stirred it slowly and took a sip.  She set the cup down and folded her hands in her lap.  “Do you remember that break-through we had when Catherine's doctor came to you?  Do you remember when he said he didn't have permission to tell us everything he knew?”

Joe nodded.

“It's kind of like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I don't know what I can tell you, Joe.  It is driving me nuts, but it isn't my decision to make.”

Joe pressed his fists into his eyes and groaned.  He brought his hands down and looked at her.

“Just ask the question, Joe.”

“Is she okay?”


“The baby?”

“With his father.”

“Are they...?”

“I'm not sure.  I think so.”  Diana prayed Vincent had found Catherine and they were safe.

“Who shot Gabriel?”

“I did.”

Joe leaned back in his seat and eyed her warily.  “Who broke his jaw?”

Diana pressed her lips together, lowered her eyes and shook her head.

“Okay, Bennett.”  He sat up and took a drink of his coffee.  “This is going to take a lot to clean up.  His organization is huge and it didn't end with him.  Tons of guys got away.  There will probably be things we can't fully explain.”

“Yeah,” she said quietly.

“Maybe, someday...” Joe left the question hanging between them.

She smiled.  “Yeah, maybe.” 

Joe reached into his coat and pulled out his wallet.  He tossed a couple of bills on the table and stood up.  “Come on.  You're dead on your feet.  I'll get a couple of uniforms to check out your flat and keep an eye on you.  Call me when you wake up.”

Diana stood when he did and at his words, she reached up and kissed his cheek.  “Thanks, Joe,” she whispered and left the diner.


Mouse hurried away from Father's study, but when he reached the end of the pipes, he began to walk more slowly.  He did pause to send a message that he was leaving the safety of the pipes.  He often went beyond the limits of the Tunnels and usually enjoyed the adventure, but this area scared him.  He turned on his headlamp (his own invention) and slowed to a walk as he left the familiar home tunnels.

As he walked he muttered to himself.  “Always Mouse.  Don't matter if Mouse don't want to.  Don't matter if Mouse is busy.  Need something done.   Ask Mouse.  Always ask Mouse.  Everyone need Mouse.  Okay, good.  Okay, fine.  Mouse go.  Mouse always goes.  But why here?  Don't like this place.  Don't like it all.  Go for Father?  No.  Mouse go for Vincent.  And Vincent's Catherine.  And baby?  Maybe find Vincent's baby?  Found it.  Needed it.  Took it.  Not stealing.  Taking.  Find baby.  Vincent happy.  Find Catherine.  Vincent real happy.  But, don't like this place.  Don't like it at all.  But for Vincent?”  Mouse sighed.  “Okay, good.  Okay, fine.”

He continued on, silent.  Then he heard sounds.  He couldn't tell what they were, exactly, but recognized them as something to be wary of.  He looked at the beam of light on the wall and realized his headlamp.   Quickly, he snapped it off.  The sound of the switch echoed down the empty chamber.  Mouse cringed.  A voice came out of the darkness.

“Who's there?”

It was soft, just above a whisper.  It was a woman's voice.  Definitely not Vincent.  Was it Catherine?

“Who's there?” Mouse answered.

“It's Catherine.  Is that Mouse?”

“Vincent's Catherine?”  He switched his lamp back on and scurried towards the voice.

“Yes, Mouse!”  Catherine hurried down the tunnel as suddenly a light appeared in the darkness.  She sped up and ran towards it.  Suddenly Mouse appeared out of the darkness.  “Oh, Mouse!”  She threw herself at him and hugged him tight.  “I'm so glad it's you!”

“Course,” said Mouse, somewhat flustered at this display of physical affection.  “Everyone needs Mouse.”

“Come.”  Catherine disentangled herself from Mouse and began to lead him back.  “You need to help me.”

“Find Vincent?  Find baby?” Mouse asked.

“Yes, yes, they are found.  But I need you, Mouse.”

Together they hurried the last few feet back to Vincent and the child.  Mouse's eyes widened at the sight of the great man lying on the tunnel floor.  “Vincent sick?”

“No, he's hurt.  And exhausted.”

“Oh, Vincent doing healing sleep.”

“Yes, I think so.  But, I need to get him to Father.  Can you help?”

“No problem,” Mouse exuded his usual over-confidence.  “Easy.  Go to nearest pipe.  Send message.  Good as done.”

“Thank you, Mouse.  I didn't want to leave them.”

“Can Mouse see?”

“See the baby?”

Mouse nodded and Catherine bent over Vincent and extracted the bundle from the crook of his arm.  She lifted the baby tenderly and unfolded the blanket.  He was still asleep.  Mouse stared down in awe.  “Vincent's baby,” he breathed. 

“Isn't he sweet?” Catherine cooed.

“Looks like Vincent.  Pretty like you.”  Mouse blushed at his admission.

Catherine merely smiled.  She knew Mouse had a hero-worship of Vincent and approved, without question, of everything he did.  Behind them, Vincent groaned in his sleep.  She turned towards him, bent and stroked his brow.  “We need to get help, Mouse.”

“Go now.”  Mouse turned and took the light with him.

“Mouse, wait!” Catherine called.  He stopped and turned and looked at her.  “Do you have an extra light or a candle?  It is so dark here.”

“Course.”  Mouse didn't understand Catherine's fear of the dark, often going to dark places alone himself, but he knew how a light could be helpful and quickly extracted a thick candle stub and matches from one of his voluminous pockets.  He quickly lit it and found a natural shelf to wedge it into about chest high near Vincent's feet.

“Thank you, Mouse,” Catherine breathed.

“Okay, good.  Okay, fine.  Go to pipes.  Help as good as here.  Kay?”

“Okay, Mouse,” Catherine whispered, sighing in relief.


Finally, it was done.  The call had gone out and the Tunnel community had responded.  Several strong men had come with a stretcher and a push-cart and had gotten Vincent onto them.  When they couldn't push him, they carried him over the rough patches.  They were so gentle with him, that he only winced and sighed a few times during the entire ordeal.

Several people had offered Catherine assistance, but she insisted on walking.  She wouldn't even let anyone carry the baby for her.  She had lagged behind the men carrying Vincent and when she arrived in his chamber, Father had just finished dressing his wounds.  He was trying to tuck him into the bed, but Vincent was tossing and turning on the pillow.

“How is he, Father?” Catherine asked, hurrying to his side.  She pressed one hand to Vincent's forehead and he calmed.  She kissed his brow and he quieted completely.

Father smiled to himself, looking instinctively away at the intimacy.  He looked back at her as he spoke.  “Well, the gun-shot wound is infected.  I've cleansed it as best as I could and applied a poultice.  His hands are horribly burnt.  I'm not sure exactly how that happened.  I've cleansed and dressed them as well.”  He nodded at the white mittens that now wrapped Vincent's great hands.  “He's dehydrated.  I was about to start an IV drip.  Mary went to get the supplies.”  He eagerly eyed the bundle in her arms.  “Is that him?”

“Yes.”  Catherine smiled, looking away from Vincent for the first time.  “Here's your grandson.”  She laid the baby on Vincent's writing table and unwrapped him.

“Oh, he's perfect, isn't he?” Father asked rhetorically.

“Well, I haven't had a chance to count his fingers and his toes yet, but I think so.  Wait until he wakes up and you see his eyes.  They are Vincent's eyes.  He looks at you as if he knows exactly what you're thinking.”

Father smiled at the new mother a bit indulgently, knowing what he knew about newborns.  The baby stirred then and opened his eyes.  “Hello, Little One,” Father murmured.  Then he gasped because as the baby opened his eyes and blinked a few times, he regarded his grandfather with a knowing look so different than the typical fuzzy stare of a newborn.  Father felt like he was looking into Vincent's newborn eyes again.

Catherine smiled as she knew she was just proven right.  “He's probably hungry again, poor thing.  And I'm certain he needs a clean diaper.”

“Some of the women brought in some supplies and Kanin carried in the cradle over there,” Father said.  “Go ahead and undress him so I can examine him.  Then, Mary will be back and you can clean and dress him.  He'll definitely be hungry then.”

So, Catherine removed the blanket from around the baby.  She began unsnapping the one-piece footed sleeper he was wearing.  She took off the “onesie” underneath.  She left the diaper alone and went to where Father had indicated to find a clean one.  He moved closer and placed his stethoscope on the baby's chest.  Just then, Mary hurried back in.

“Oh, Father,” she exclaimed.  “I'm sorry I took so long.  I knew we had more IV solution but I had forgotten where I'd put it.”  She stopped in the doorway.  “Is that him?”

“Hmm?” Father asked, taking the stethoscope out of his ears.  “Yes.  This is Vincent and Catherine's son.”

“Oh, let me see.”  Mary laid down the IV supplies and went over to the table.  Catherine joined them.  “He's beautiful, Catherine,” Mary whispered.  “His eyes, he looks just like Vincent.”

“I think I see a little of my dad in him, too,” Catherine replied, holding the diaper to her chest. 

Father continued his examination.  “Ten fingers, ten toes, a nice strong regular heart and lungs to match.  He looks perfect.  Perhaps a bit undernourished, but you'll fix that soon enough, my dear.”  Mary moved closer and assisted Catherine in diapering and dressing the baby. 

“Here, dear, let me hold him for a few minutes.  You need to go bathe and change.  I'll ask William to have someone send down some food.  After you've eaten and we've finished settling Vincent, you three can all lie down and have a nice rest.”

“But, I don't want to leave them.”  Catherine's eyes widened as she clutched the baby to her chest. 

“Don't worry, Catherine,” Father said.  “You'll just be a moment.  Remember, you are all safe here.”

“Yes, I know,” Catherine said, beginning to feel her own fatigue. 

“You're tired, dear,” Mary added.  “You'll sleep much better after a bath and a meal.”

“Well, all right.”  Catherine gave the baby to Mary reluctantly.  “But, Mary, he doesn't cry.  So if he starts to wiggle or root around, call me.  He will be hungry.”

Mary cooed at the baby snuggled in a soft knitted tunic and blanket in her arms.  “We'll be just fine, won't we, Little One?  You'll be fine with Aunt Mary while your Mama takes a quick bath.”

“Go, Catherine.  I may need you when I start Vincent's IV.  You do so well at calming him.”

Catherine hesitated at the doorway.  She turned and asked anxiously, “It is just a healing sleep, right Father?  That's what Mouse called it.”

“Yes, he's exhausted.  He'll be fine.  Now that you and the baby are here and safe, he'll be just fine.”


Chapter 17


Diana had collapsed on her bed as soon as her apartment was cleared by the police Joe had sent with her and slept for fourteen hours.  When she woke, it was night.  Her mouth felt fuzzy and she had a headache, but she couldn't sleep anymore.  She stripped off her clothes and went to her shower.  She stood under the steaming spray and let it wash away the last three days. 

Suddenly, she roused and reached for her shampoo.  She scrubbed her scalp, then switched to the bar of soap and scrubbed her skin.  She rinsed off and turned off the shower.  She rubbed her skin hard, drying it.  She went to her closet and put on jeans and a sweater.  She padded barefoot to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee.  She leaned against the counter, waiting for the coffee to brew and looked across her apartment at her workspace.  Pictures of Catherine and her friends and family stared back at Diana.  Newspaper clippings surrounded the pictures and an old, nearly dead rose bush sat near her desk.  Three green leaves were shining among the dead ones. 

Diana had sent Vincent on the right path to the Tunnels, but had he found Catherine?  To protect the Tunnels, she had not returned there and had only told Joe what little he needed to know.  Had they been reunited?  Were they safe?


The next morning, Joe sat at the head of the conference table in the DA's office.  Several folders were spread out on the table in front of him.  A blank legal pad and pen lay near his right hand.  He took a drink of coffee, good stuff, not the rotgut he had drunk as an ADA.  He sighed in pleasure to himself.  “It is good to be the boss,” he thought.  He looked down the table at the men and women assembled there.  He took a deep breath and said, “Okay, let's get started, people.  Gabriel is dead, but his organization is not.  Joanie, what have you got?”

“Preliminary reviews of computers reveal that he had his finger in all sorts of pies,” a petite dark-haired woman said.  “He was involved in drugs, arms smuggling, prostitution, human trafficking.  He made money in construction, medical research, farming, the stock market.  He had people in the police department, our office and other government offices.  We are still learning how far his reach went.”

Joe took a few notes.  “Any word on his number two guy?”

“The helicopter was gone when we arrived,” Greg Hughes said.  “A private jet left Kennedy shortly after 10:00.  The filed flight plan stated the destination was Bermuda, but nothing ever came of it.  He could be anywhere now.”

“Do we even know his name?” Joe asked.

“Pope.  Jonathan Pope.”

“I suppose he has a list of aliases as long as my arm,” Joe commented under his breath.

“We do have several underlings in custody.  We are interviewing them today.”

“Anybody know anything about this Gabriel?  Where he came from?  His real name?”

Another woman further down the table spoke up.  “Not much yet, sir.  But we're just getting started.”

“Okay.  Let's put out an arrest warrant for this Pope fellow.  Let's continue on the interviews of the rats that have escaped the ship as it was sinking.  We can sort through charges and plea bargains later on.  And keep digging.  We'll meet again around 3:00, but if anyone finds anything big before then, let me know.”  Joe gathered up his notes and his coffee cup and stood.  He left the room and went back to his office. 

“Hey, Maggie.  Any messages?”

“Yes, sir.”  She handed him a stack of pink notes.  “And, Detective Bennett is in your office.”

“Thanks,” Joe said and hurried inside.  “Hey, Bennett!”

She had been staring out the window and turned with a smile at the sound of his voice.  “Hi, Joe.” 

He went to his desk, put down the messages, folders and his coffee and sat down.  “Have a seat.  How are you feeling?”

“Better.  I feel like I slept forever.  What's going on?”

“You can probably imagine.  Now that the ship is sinking, all the minor players are scrambling over each other to give evidence in exchange for leniency.  My office is going nuts.  The number two guy is AWOL and we are starting to siphon through all the paperwork.  This thing is huge.”

Diana leaned forward in her chair.  “Where do you want me?”

Joe ran a hand through his hair and rubbed his eyes.  “I'm getting a lot of questions about that nursery.  Where's the baby that was in that crib?”

“I suppose Hughes wants to talk to me.”

“You did shoot that bastard.  Surely you know what happened to the baby,” Joe questioned rhetorically.

“We both know that I can't answer that question.”

“Yeah.”  They both sat, silent a few moments.

Diana mused.  “Maybe the baby was gone when I found Gabriel.  Maybe the number two guy got him out on the chopper.”

“And when we find the number two guy?”

“We cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“Okay.”  Joe sat up.  “You go repeat your statement to Greg.  Then, come back here.  I've got an investigator looking into background on this Gabriel guy.  Maybe you can work with her and do your particular brand of magic.”

“Sounds good.”

“Anything else?” Joe asked, standing up.

“I did stop for tea on the way over.”

“Yeah?” Joe raised an eyebrow. 

“Got a fortune cookie, too.”  She handed him a slim sheet of paper.  He took it and read it slowly, then smiled. 

Family reunited.  All is well.


Vincent slept.  He was mostly quiet and peaceful, but he occasionally tossed and turned and growled.  This usually occurred when Catherine had left the chamber to attend to her or the baby's needs.  No one else could quiet him and so she started sending for trays of food and only took sponge baths from a basin in the room.  He slept restfully when she was in the room and if he did become restless, she could calm him with a touch or a kiss on his forehead.

Caring for the baby was so effortless.  He hardly ever fussed or cried.  He nursed easily and happily.  He slept quietly in his cradle or in anyone's arms.  As word had spread that the baby was back, nearly every member of the community had wanted to see him.  But, Father and Catherine had deferred unscheduled visits due to Vincent's health.

Father had taken him to his study the first night they were back and showed off the baby to all who wanted to see him.  If the truth be told, everyone just wanted to know if the baby favored Catherine or Vincent.  Not a few were disappointed to see he resembled his mother, but all were excited when he opened his eyes and revealed his father's.

One day, nearly forty-eight hours after he had been settled into his bed, Vincent opened his eyes.  Catherine was alone in the chamber, rocking and nursing the baby in Vincent's big chair.  That was the sight that met him.

“Catherine,” he whispered.

She looked up and the baby let go of her breast and began to search for the source of the sound.  Catherine jumped up and hurried to the bed.  She laid the baby in his cradle and bent over Vincent.  She touched his face and looked into his eyes.  “I'm here.”

“Where are we?”

“Your chamber, Below,” she said, soothingly.

“Our son?”

“Safe in his cradle, just over there.”  She turned her face towards the baby and Vincent followed her gaze.  He sighed and closed his eyes.

“How long?”

“Nearly two days.  Do you want a drink?”  At his nod, she went to the table and poured a glass of water.  She brought it to him and lifted his head gently.  “Just a little.”  He sipped and then laid his head back down.

“Thank you.” 

Catherine put the glass to the side and sat near him on the bed.  She laid her hand over his mittened ones.  “Should I call for Father?”  He shook his head.  “Do you wish to rest?”  He shook his head again.  “Are you hungry?”  He opened his eyes and looked at her.  He nodded slowly.  She made to stand up, “I'll ask William to send some broth.”

“No,” he said.  He lifted his hand towards her face and looked ruefully at his bandages. 

She sat back down and leaned towards him.  “What is it, Vincent?”

He licked his dry lips and tried to pull her closer.  She smiled as she understood and leaned closer still so that their faces were merely a breath apart.  Vincent summoned his strength and moved the last few millimeters and gently kissed her lips.  The kiss was soft and chaste, but it lingered and promised many things.  When they parted, he sighed and opened his eyes and looked at her.  Catherine's eyes were still closed and the most beautiful look covered her face.  He smiled and closed his eyes, lying back against the pillow.  Next to them, the baby gurgled.


Six weeks later, Joe waited nervously at the carousel in Central Park.  It was dark, near midnight, and he wasn't entirely comfortable hanging out at the scene of his former boss's murder.  Diana had sent him there and said he wouldn’t regret the meeting.  She had better be right.

A small sound pulled his attention to the door.  “Who's there?” he called.

“Joe?” a soft feminine voice answered.

“Yeah.  Who are you?”

A small figure emerged from the shadows.  “Don't you recognize me, Joe?”

“Radcliffe?”  He stepped towards her and as she came into the light, he was sure.  “Oh, Cathy!  It is so good to see you!”  He gathered her up into a bear hug. 

“Joe.”  Catherine squeezed him tightly around the neck.

Reluctantly, Joe released her and looked her over.  “Where have you been?  I haven't looked because I knew you wouldn't want me to, but kiddo!  Are you okay?”

“Joe,” she said.  “I'm fantastic.”

“Really?  Everything is working out?”

“Yes.  I have my baby and I've never been better.”

“You're living with him?  Vincent?”  Catherine smiled and looked down and then nodded.  “You're happy there?  With him?”

“Joe!  I'm wonderful!”  She hugged him again.  “I asked you to come here to thank you.  I don't know what would have happened without all your help.”

“Gee, Radcliffe, I didn't do much.  Bennett did more than me.”

“Yeah, but who got Bennett involved?”

“Okay, okay.”  Joe squeezed her hand.

“I also want to invite you to something.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Where I'm living now, with Vincent, whenever a new baby is born, they have a naming ceremony to welcome him into the community.  I want you to come to my son's.” 


“Yes.  Then you could see him and see where I'm staying and then you wouldn't have to worry so much.”

“Cathy, would I meet Vincent?”

“You can meet me tonight, Mr. Maxwell.”  Vincent's voice came from the shadows.

“Jesus!” Joe exclaimed.  “He's been here the whole time?”

“He wouldn't let me come alone.”  Catherine drew Joe closer to the shadow that concealed Vincent.  “Come on.  Let me introduce you.” 

Vincent's heart was pounding in his chest, as it always did when he met a new person.  He took a deep breath and straightened so his hooded face entered the shaft of light behind him.  He slowly extended his hand.  “It is a pleasure.”

Joe looked down at the furred and clawed hand extended towards him.  He looked up at Vincent's face and saw the cleft lip, the flattened nose and the wild mane of hair. He frowned, thinking for a moment, then clasped the hand in front of him.  “The pleasure is all mine,” he said, firmly shaking Vincent's hand.  Next to them, Catherine smiled.


“It has been said that the child is the meaning of this life.  The truth of that has never been more apparent to me than it is on this day, when we celebrate the child, this new life that has been brought into our world.” 

Father stood in his study with Vincent holding the baby and Catherine beside him.  The rest of the Tunnel community spread out and filled the room.  Some were holding candles, some were holding simply wrapped gifts.  Peter Alcott, Joe Maxwell and Diana Bennett stood near Mary and Pascal.  Mouse and Jamie were in the corner.  Lou, the taxicab driver, and Mitch, the mustached man, were in the middle of the crowd.  There were William, hands folded happily over his belly, Rebecca, Laura, Lena and Michael.  Brooke and Kipper and Geoffrey and Samantha and Eric sat on the floor near the front.  Father looked over the gathering and smiled.  It was much more crowded today than usual naming ceremonies.   It was a testament to the love the community held for Vincent and for Catherine.

“We welcome the child with love, that he may be able to love.  We welcome the child with gifts, that he may learn generosity.  And we welcome the child with a name, upon which, I believe Catherine and Vincent have decided.” 

Catherine stood on tiptoe and kissed the baby's head.  She smiled up at Vincent and nodded.  Vincent spoke.  “Catherine and I have named our son Jacob Charles Chandler.”  They both looked at Father.

At Vincent's words, Father felt a tightening in his throat and a tear came to his eye.  He looked over at Peter who winked at him and grinned.  Everyone began to applaud.  Amongst the noise, Samantha came bursting up, asking her usually eager question.  “Is it time for the gifts now, Father?”

Father's sentimental tears turned into laughter as he answered her, “Yes, Samantha.  It is time for the gifts!”

Chapter 18 – Epilogue


One week after the naming ceremony, Catherine and Vincent relaxed among the pillows and blankets in the chamber underneath the concert stage in Central Park while Mozart's Symphony in F, No. 43 played over them.  It wasn't private to them, but they did use the music chamber more than the rest of the Tunnel community.  If the other members desired to hear a concert, they could easily melt into the crowd.  For Vincent, it was a different matter, and so the Tunnel members always made other plans if they knew Vincent wanted to attend a concert in privacy.

This was their first outing since the Naming Ceremony, the first time they had done anything not related to healing and baby rearing since Vincent had stumbled out of Gabriel's clutches.  The first days, they both just slept and ate and then slept again.  If the baby needed tending, other than feeding, Mary or one of the other women took care of him.  The entire community was fascinated with Vincent's baby.  The teenaged girls were especially smitten.

Slowly, they both regained their strength.  Catherine was completely recovered from the birth and her morphine overdose.  Sometimes, she felt fuzzy-headed and had difficulty with mathematics.  But since she rarely had a need of arithmetic Below, it didn't bother her much.  Vincent's wounds healed quickly, as he usually did.  He said nothing more than, “Electrical burns,” when Father asked what had happened to his hands.  At the look on his face, Father had said no more and silently re-bandaged them.  Catherine had helped him regain his range of motion by slowly bending each finger and then straightening it three times a day when the bandages were changed.  Now, Vincent had full range of motion on both hands and the bullet wounds were completely scarred over. 

While he was healing, Vincent began having nightmares of his time in the cage.  He never said anything to Catherine or to Father, and in fact refused to discuss that time with anyone at all.  But one night, after they had been home for about two weeks, she was up with the baby, nursing him in the chair near the bed.  Suddenly, he was wrenched out of sleep and jumped out of bed.  He was snatching his cloak off the hook by the door when her quiet voice reached him.  “You can't keep running away from it, Vincent.”

He paused at the door, looking at the back of her head, bent over the baby, and went out anyway.  He ran the tunnels for several miles, then slowed to a walk.  He found himself at the old entrance to Catherine's apartment building.  The blue light that had come down from the elevator shaft was gone; Mouse and some of the others had sealed the entrance when Catherine had been returned to the Tunnels.  He sat down heavily, breathing deeply as the images played over in his mind.  He had dreamed of the time when Gabriel had played the images of him killing the guards over and over.  The grotesque pictures and sounds drove him to a frenzy and he attacked Gabriel, ripping out his heart, then eating it while it still beat, dripping blood in his hand.

Vincent held his hands out in front of him, but they were clean.  He had expected to see blood.  He looked at his claws, then turned them over and looked at the fur on the backs.  He turned them palm up and clenched them into fists.  He took a deep breath and then leaned his head back against the tunnel wall.  He wished he had ripped out that madman's heart.  He wanted to feel his blood drip hot from his hands, his mouth.  He wanted to watch the life-force drain from his face.  What that man had done to Catherine, to him, to their son, was unforgivable.

And yet, Vincent had to forget.  He was grateful for one thing, however.  That torture had shown him that he could control his rages.  He could think and feel.  He had made a conscious choice to close his fist and not to slash with his claws.  He hadn't killed anymore men that night.  He felt confident that he could continue to protect his loved ones without killing.  It was a relief to his very soul.

But, the torture and the evil and the hatred that man had exuded would not leave his mind.  He could not stop reliving those horrible hours he was trapped in that cage. 

Suddenly, his head came up and he was instantly alert.  Footsteps were coming down the passageway.  He jumped to his feet, ready to confront what came.

“Vincent?” Catherine's voice filled the passage.  “Are you there?”  She came around the corner, a lantern lighting her way.

“I'm here,” he called.  She walked to him and set the lantern down.  She wrapped her arms around his waist.  He pressed his face into her hair and held her tightly.  “How did you find me?  I'm not even certain of how I came to be here.”

“Thomas saw you go this way.”  She stepped out of his arms and went over to the new wall.  She traced the lines of the bricks with one finger.  “It is sad to see it closed off, isn't it?”


“I suppose it only makes sense.  No one else will be using it and keeping it open will only invite the curious.”  Vincent said nothing.  “Mouse did a good job.  You can hardly tell there was a hole here.”

“Jamie and some of the others helped him.  I asked them to do it after you were brought Below from the hospital.”

Catherine nodded.  “I miss our balcony, too.”

“After some time has passed, we can find another special place.”

Catherine went back to Vincent and grasped his waist.  “Talk to me, Vincent.  What is troubling you?  What happened in Gabriel's house?”

He shook his head and pulled away.  “No.”


“You've been through so much, Catherine.  I don't want to cause you anymore pain.”

“Seeing you like this hurts me.”  He sighed and said nothing.  “Can you speak to someone else?  Father maybe?  Or Pascal?”

“No,” he said again.

“I won't push you, Vincent.  But you need to discuss this.  Talking about it can free it from your mind.  Then, you'll stop reliving it in your dreams.”

Vincent looked at her curiously.  “How did...?”

“You were talking in your sleep.”

She looked at him solemnly until he broke her gaze and looked away.  “We should get back.  The baby will want you.”

“He is asleep and Father is listening for him.”  She stepped behind him, near enough to touch, but didn't.  “I have bad dreams, too, Vincent.”


“While you were gone, it was awful.  Then you were back and fell unconscious.  I had no idea what happened to you.  Sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing the truth.  Sometimes what I imagine is worse.  Or, the not knowing if it's true is worse.”

Vincent lowered his head and then turned to face her.  “It was every fear I've ever had come true.” 

He sat down on the floor and pulled her down next to him.  She wrapped her arms around him and laid her cheek against his breast.  “Tell me.”

He laid his head against hers.  “I went to the roof where I had found you, like Diana's note had said.  The helicopter returned and a gunman shot me three times.  They were tranquilizing darts.  Then everything went dark.”  He kissed her hair and continued.  “When I awoke, I was chained to a wall in a cage.  A doctor came and took blood from me.  It was just like Father had said – they captured me, put me in a cage and 'studied' me.  Gabriel came and tormented me with words.  Then, he brought me the baby.”  Catherine squeezed herself tighter to him.  “I cannot describe the feeling of holding him.  He knew me, Catherine.  He knew me and he had no reason to know me.  He was crying when he was brought to me, but as soon as I picked him up, he stopped.  He just looked at me and I, I was enchanted with him.”

“I know the feeling.”

“He is a special child.”  Vincent kissed her hair again.  “I could feel him growing stronger through the night.  I didn't feed him.  I didn't change him or sing to him or any of the normal things you do with babies.  I just held him and looked at him.”

“And loved him,” Catherine interrupted.

“He had been so ill and all he needed was to be loved.  But as he grew stronger, it frightened Gabriel and he took him from me.  And, then, the true torture began.”  Vincent's voice faded into the near darkness.

Catherine stroked the arm that held her, waiting for his words to come.  He said nothing, just laid his head on hers and let his arms hold her against his chest.  “Vincent?” Catherine asked quietly.  He did not respond so she sat up, moved away from him and rose to her knees in front of him.  He did not try to stop her and let his arms fall at his sides.  His head bowed.  She took his face in her hands and lifted it up so he looked at her.  “Vincent.”  She leaned forward and kissed his lips firmly, then pulled back and looked into his eyes.  Her face softened at his look and she leaned forward and kissed him again, softer, more intimate.  She held his face firmly, afraid he would pull away, knowing they both needed this.  So, she was surprised when, as the kiss ended, his arms came back around her, kept her close and kissed her again.

Catherine shifted off of her knees and sat on his lap as the kissing continued.  Vincent grew bolder, stroking her lower lip with his tongue, moving to kiss her cheeks, her eyes, the curve of her jaw.  He then moved back to her mouth and kissed her deeply.  As this last kiss ended, he pulled her close, burying his face in the curve of her neck. “Catherine,” he huffed.

“Oh, Vincent,” Catherine murmured.  They held each other for long minutes as their breathing slowed.  “Tell me, now,” she said.

Vincent sighed and shifted Catherine more comfortably on his lap.  “We played a sort of 'cat and mouse' game.  He had me trapped in that cage with cameras trained on me.  I had shortly pulled the chains out of the wall, but the bars of the cage were electrified and whenever I touched them, I was burned.”

“Your hands,” she whispered.

“Not at first,” Vincent said.  “I could feel the baby, feel him growing stronger despite our separation.  It bothered Gabriel.  He kept coming downstairs to me, telling me things.  He tossed that ring back to me and told me Diana was dead.  I would speak to him through the cameras.  I told him that my bond with our son was growing and I think it drove him crazy.  But it was true.  Our son needed nothing that Gabriel could give him; he only needed to be loved.  Then, he came down with two men with guns and had them fire into the cage.”

Involuntarily, Catherine gasped and held him tighter.

“He must have told them not to aim at me, but they fired several shots.  At first, I thought he wanted me dead because the baby responded so well to me, but that was not the case.  It was another form of cruel torture.  But, I refused to let him see my fear.  When the air cleared, he was looking at me, anxiously, hoping to see some sort of fear or capitulation.  I did not.  He could kill me, but I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of breaking me.  Then, he showed me the film.”

“What film?”

“Do you remember when you sent the message through the pipes and I nearly found you?”


“He had filmed me, breaking through the wall, attacking the guards, killing them.”


“He showed me that, on a continuous loop, over and over.  It was loud and the images filled the basement.  No matter where I looked, I had to watch it.”

“Oh, Vincent,” Catherine murmured and kissed his brow and cheeks and lips.  “I'm so sorry.”

“It wasn't entirely bad.  I had never seen myself in that state before.  I realized that all it was was my feelings, my emotions being expressed without reason or censorship.  I was frightened and I struck out blindly, without thought.  And after awhile, I realized that I could still feel fear, anger, passion but not let it over-take me.  In a way, his torture gave me a gift.”

“I always knew that.”

Vincent kissed her forehead then tucked her head back into the crook of his neck.  “There is more.”  She nodded into his neck.  “Can you hear it?”

“Can you tell me?”

Vincent took a deep breath and nodded.  “After awhile, I have no idea how long, the pictures changed.  He showed me the baby.  He was happy, cooing and kicking his legs, you know how he does?  And he was looking into the camera as if he knew I was looking at him.  Then Gabriel came back in.  He claimed to be showing me mercy.  He let the doctor into the cage, saying he needed another blood sample.  As the doctor drew my blood, he spoke of you and how you both had known how beautiful the baby was.  He said he had let you hold him, which I knew to be a lie.  Then, he said that he was sorry about your death, but it was the doctor who had killed you.  I admit I became enraged.  I knew you were alive, but also knew how close you had come to death.  But, then I saw the doctor and I knew he had only acted on Gabriel's orders.  He was a weak man.”

“What happened?”

“Gabriel ordered me to kill him, to take my revenge, but I couldn't.  I wouldn't.  So, he had his gunmen shoot him.”

“Oh, God.  Right in front of you?”  Vincent nodded.  “I remember him.  I always thought he had more sympathy for me than any of the others.  When he gave me the injection, he told me he was sorry, but I wouldn't suffer.  But knowing I was dying, leaving you and the baby?  It was exquisite torture.”

Vincent kissed her.  “We should go back.  You are still weak and my hands are not completely healed.”

“No, you should finish it.”


“I know there is more.”

Slowly Vincent nodded.  “There is.”

“Tell me.”

“I could feel tension in the house.  Something was happening.  Gabriel was uneasy, but somewhat gleeful, excited as well.  It was like he had descended into a new level of madness.  He told me the police were coming.  I didn't care.  He thought they would kill me or just leave me in another cage.  I didn't care.  He couldn't control me anymore, despite keeping me in that cage.   Then, he left me.  I didn't know what was happening, but I was worried.  I began to feel stronger.  I hadn't eaten or drank in more than twenty-four hours, but the fear, the strength of the Other began to fill me.  I knew we could work together.”

“What happened?”

“Suddenly I felt a fear and a struggle coming from the baby.  Something was happening.  I had to get to him, I had to save him.”

“How?” she asked.  Vincent turned his palms over in her lap and they both looked at them.  “Electrical burns,” Catherine said quietly.

“A guard came down and tried to increase the current, but I pulled the door off before he could.  He aimed his gun at me, but I knocked it out of his hands and pushed him to the side.  I don't think I seriously injured him.”


“I was frantic.  The fear coming from the baby turned to frenzy.  I ran up to his room.  I followed my sense of him and went right to him, just like I was able to do with you.  When I entered his room, Gabriel was leaning over the bed, with a pillow over the baby's face.”

“Oh, my God.”  Catherine finally let the tears flow down her cheeks. 

“I wanted to kill him.  The need for revenge burned in my breast.  I snatched him away from the crib and threw him across the room.  He fell to the floor and he laid there, staring up at me.  There was no fear in his face, just a grim satisfaction.  I didn't care.  I was about to strike him again when a voice called to me.”

“Who was it?”

“The woman, Diana Bennett.  She said that the baby was crying.”  Catherine squeezed his hands gently.  “And he was.  At her words, all my rage disappeared and I went to the baby.  I snarled at that evil man one more time, but I never looked at him again.  She told me there was an exit in the basement.  I went there directly and took the baby to you.”

“Joe's note said Gabriel was dead.  It wasn't you?”

“No.  I wish it had been.  I dream of it.”

“It must have been her.”


They sat in silence, holding each other, stroking arms or chests or hair and kissing softly every now and then.  Catherine began to nod off in his arms.  Finally, he spoke.  “Catherine?”

“Hm?” she roused.

“Now, we must go back.  The baby is hungry.  And I think I can sleep now.”

They rose and Vincent made to pick up the lantern, but Catherine stayed his hand.  “I'll carry it.”  They began to walk back to the home tunnels.  “We must think of a name.”

“What?” Vincent asked.

“Father said the naming ceremony should be soon.  Typically, the baby is six weeks old.  In light of recent circumstances, he thinks we should delay until he is eight weeks.  But, we must think of a name.”

They walked in silence for several minutes.  Vincent spoke.  “He has two grandfathers.  Should we name him for them?”

“Jacob Charles or Charles Jacob?” Catherine asked with a slight smile.

“Let's ask him” Vincent smiled back.


And Jacob Charles it had been.  Vincent's nightmares faded as did Catherine's.  They had healed, physically, completely.  Vincent had resumed his teaching duties, but did not go on the heavy work details yet.  Father did not want him to over-exert himself and both he and Catherine still were nervous when he was not nearby.  Catherine discussed beginning a Government class for the older students and volunteered to give legal advice to Tunnel dwellers who needed it.  It went without saying that she could not legally represent anyone, but the advice would be helpful.

As time passed, Peter began proceedings to have Catherine declared legally dead.  Once that occurred, he could release her assets.  She wanted to establish scholarships for the children that wished to attend college or go to a trade school.  She also wanted to provide funds for the daily needs of the community.  Father was reluctant to accept everything she wanted to give, but since the arrival of his grandson and namesake, he was easier to convince. 

Joe and Diana continued to work together to tie up the loose ends of the case.  He was reluctant to let any of the ADA's take over, but he did utilize the investigators.  The police department had several officers resign and no questions were asked.  Jonathan Pope was still at large, but the net was tightening.  He was confident the case could be closed within six months, but with Catherine remaining Below and officially still missing Above, presumed dead, he did not feel extreme pressure as he had before Catherine and the baby had been found.  Diana was fascinated with the Tunnel world and Joe begrudgingly admired it as well.  They were both on their way to becoming helpers.  Life was returning to a new normal, Above and Below.

So now, Catherine and Vincent sat in the music chamber, a place they had spent many delightful hours, listening to the Mozart Symphony.  Catherine had nursed baby Jacob then handed him to Vincent while she tied up the lacing of her dress.  He expertly burped him and rocked him gently, looking into his eyes.  Catherine sat back and watched them.  Jacob locked his eyes on his father, but then began the slow blinking that so often heralded slumber.  Soon, he was asleep and Vincent stroked his forehead.  Then, he kissed him and tucked him into the Moses basket and laid him off to one side.  Catherine snuggled closer to Vincent and his arms went around her automatically.

“Happy?” she asked.

“Mmm, yes.  I never thought to be so happy.”

“Who knew this dream would come true?”

“Yes, but,” Vincent began.

“What, Vincent?” Catherine asked gently.

Vincent turned and looked over at the sleeping baby.  “I wish I could remember.”

“Remember what?”  Vincent turned to her with a knowing look.  She looked down, blushing a little.  “That time has still not returned to you?”

“No.  I wish I could remember, but I cannot.”

“In a way, I'm glad you cannot remember.”


“I was desperate.  I thought you were dead.  It was beautiful, but it began in desperation and fear.  I'm glad you don't remember that.”

“I want to remember something!”

“Oh, Vincent,” she murmured.  “You've tried so hard.”

“Everything else has come back to me.  It has been nearly a year.  Father and Peter doubt that time will ever return to me.”

“Do you want me to tell you?”

“I'm not sure.”

“Or...”  She stopped, unsure.

“Or?” he asked.

“I could show you.”

“Catherine,” he breathed.

She sat up and began to unfasten his vest.  When it fell open, she began to untie the lacing of his shirt.  He captured her hands.  “Catherine,” he said again.

“We've come so far, Vincent,” she whispered.  “You deserve love.  You deserve a happy life.  We both do.  Let us live it, fully, completely.” 

She leaned forward and kissed his mouth.  He tentatively returned the kiss.  Catherine moved her hands from his face, down his neck to his chest, revealed by his open shirt.  She stroked the hair on his chest and kissed him again.  His hands came up and rested above her hips, holding her loosely.  Catherine slipped her hands lower, inside his shirt.

“Catherine,” he gasped.

“Yes?” she asked.  She sat back, but kept her hands on him.  “Shall I stop?”

He shook his head.


He shook his head again, staring into her eyes.  She moved her hands to the front of her dress and untied the lacing again.  She slid the neck open wider and pushed the dress off her shoulders.  It fell to her waist.  Vincent had seen glimpses of her breasts when she nursed Jacob.  But never had he seen her, naked to the waist, looking at him with such passion.  He swallowed and allowed his hands to rise.  He stopped just below her breasts and watched as a drop of milk accumulated on the tip of one nipple.  He caught it with his finger and tasted it.  Then he leaned forward and licked her nipple clean.

Catherine shuddered.  She remembered when she had cut her hand pruning a rose bush and he had kissed the blood from her palm.  How much more erotic was it to have him lap the milk from her breast?  She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him again, passionately.  She sucked on his lower lip and then delved into the cleft of his upper with her tongue.  Vincent moaned and pulled her closer, relishing the taste of her mouth and the feel of her naked flesh against his.

Catherine's hands slipped off his shoulders and drifted down to his waist.  She pulled his shirt tails out of his trousers and ran her hands up and down his naked back.  “Catherine,” Vincent growled.

She sat back and looked deep into his eyes.  Her breathing was faster than usual.  She licked her lower lip and kissed him again.  She moved her hands to his intricate belt and began to unfasten it.  She let it fall to the side and opened his trousers, exposing his arousal.  She took him in her hand and squeezed him gently as he hissed in surprise and closed his eyes.  Catherine moved then, shifting her skirt and sitting astride his lap.  She positioned him and then whispered his name. 

Vincent opened hooded eyes and looked at her.  “It was like this,” she said quietly and then pressed down, taking him deep inside her.  At the sensation, Vincent's eyes rolled shut.  He clutched her thighs in his hands, thrust upwards twice and came inside of her.  She shivered at the feeling, then lay on his chest.

After a moment, his hands released her thighs and came up to caress her hair and her back.  “Catherine?”

“Hmm?” she asked, dreamily.

“Like that?”


“That was nice.”

She smiled at his choice of words.  “Mm-hm.”  She rubbed her face into his neck and then her breasts into his chest.

“Was that all?”

Catherine pressed a kiss to the base of his neck.  “You were exhausted.  You sort of collapsed again, but you weren't unconscious.  I held you until Father came.”

“He won't be coming now, will he?”  His hands moved smoothly over her back, up into her hair and back down to her hips.

Catherine smiled into his neck and kissed him there again.  “No.”

Vincent's hands moved back up to her head and cupped her face, pulling her back so he could see her.  He leaned up and kissed her lips, gently at first and then more passionately, opening her mouth and tasting her.  Catherine moaned quietly and clutched him to her.  He began to shift his hips and she squeezed her thighs tighter around him.

Suddenly, he flipped her over without dislodging himself and ground his hips into hers.  He pulled away from her mouth and spread frantic kisses over her face – her brow, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose.

“Catherine,” he breathed.  “I can feel you.”

She giggled a little and raised her hips up into his.  “I feel you too, Vincent.”

“No.”  He pulled back and pressed a hand over his heart.  “I feel you here.  I feel the feelings you feel when you do, almost as if we're one.  I feel your heart, beating next to mine, next to Jacob's.”

“Vincent, is the Bond returned?”  Her eyes began to glitter with happy tears.

“I believe so.”  He bent and kissed the tears from her cheeks.

“Oh, Vincent!”  She threw her arms around his neck and held him tightly.  She lay back on the pillows and smiled up at him.  Then, she leaned up and kissed his lips.  Pulling back, her face had changed.  “Vincent, what is our Bond telling you?”

He looked down into her eyes and smiled knowingly.  He pressed his hips to hers again and kissed her passionately.

The music from the orchestra above swelled and rose around them and in his basket, Jacob, the tangible proof of the never-ending love of Vincent and Catherine, slept on peacefully.



Chapter Index