Catherine tossed and turned all night, then finally gave up trying to sleep and went to work early. Thankfully, Joe was in court all morning, and she sat quietly at her desk and poured herself into her work. At noon, she headed over to see Rita.

“Hey, Rita!”

“Hi, Cathy. Wow, you look tired ...”

Catherine wrinkled her nose and blushed. “Yeah, I had a late night. That’s what I get for starting a new book at 10:00 at night.”

“Oh, I hate that! You get so engrossed you can’t put it down then you realize it’s two in the morning and you have to get up soon! What’s the name of the book?”

Catherine blinked her eyes as she scrambled for an answer. “The name ... I ... don’t remember ... It’s just one of those dopey romances ...”

Rita laughed. “I knew it had to be. I hate to admit it but those are my favorites.” She looked at the file in Catherine’s hands. “Is that for me?”

“Yeah.Are you going to lunch?”

“Remember I told you I had that date?”

“Oh ... that’s today?” Catherine asked innocently.

Rita looked at her watch. “Yeah, in a few minutes!”

Catherine looked at the computer. “It’s something easy ... do you think I could look it up?”

Rita waved her hand at the computer. “Would you? Thanks! Just use my name ... my password is “go to girl”, then punch in the name of who you’re looking up and hit enter.”

“Sounds easy, thanks!”

Rita nodded and left quickly. Catherine stood in stunned silence. She knew that the department would be on lunch break, and she hoped her timing would be good, but she never dreamed that it would be this easy. She sat down and signed into the computer, then punched in Bernie Spirko’s name.

She scrolled over several articles, but they were all things he had written. She kept looking but there were no recent ones that involved her or anything unusual. She dug a little further and found he had several parking tickets and had done a few unethical things, but nothing that he could ever be arrested for. She also saw that he had also received several awards in the news industry for his tenacity in bringing in a story.

Upset by the news, she left the computer and went back to her desk. She poured another cup of coffee and grabbed some crackers to munch on as she got back to work.

At one o’clock, Joe came back to the office and stood in front of her desk smiling. “We won today. That’s three this week.”

Catherine looked up and smiled. “That’s good news!”

Joe frowned as he looked at the deep circles under her eyes. “Then why do you look like someone stole your favorite stuffed lion?”

Catherine’s eyes grew wide in horror. “Why would you say that?”

Joe laughed and sat on the edge of her desk. “I don’t know probably because I babysat for my nieces over the weekend. My sister and her husband had taken them to the zoo on Friday so they wouldn’t feel guilty about spending Saturday night out of town for a wedding. Anyway, the youngest, Carly, fell in love with the lions and made her parents buy her a stuffed animal. She wanted to sleep with him that nigh,t but her older sister hid it on her. She came out and looked at me with the same look you have right now. I was the hero when I found him.”

Catherine grinned at the story. “Well, Uncle Joe, no one stole my stuffed lion ...” 

Rita came up and was beaming with happiness.

“Good lunch?” Catherine laughed.

“No, it was a great lunch!”

Catherine nodded as she glanced at Joe. “You’ll have to tell me about it.”

Rita looked at Joe, then back at Catherine. “Later ...”

Joe pretended to look offended. “Hey, I like a good story!”

“It was a lunch date, Joe,” Rita explained.

Catherine looked at Rita devilishly. “Joe knows all about dating. Over the weekend, he had a date with two girls at the same time!”

Joe made a face at Catherine. “Real funny!”

Catherine giggled, while Rita tried to figure out what they were talking about. “Look, I just came to ask you if you were done with the computer ...”

Catherine frowned in confusion. “Yeah, why?”

“You left some stuff on the screen about Bernie Spirko. I didn’t want to get rid of it in case you still needed it ...”

Catherine looked down guiltily. “Um ... no ... I’m done. Thanks Rita.”

Rita nodded and walked away, while Joe looked at Catherine. “Spirko? Isn’t he that reporter for The Sentinel? Why are you investigating Spirko?”

Catherine sighed and rolled her eyes. “I ... uh ...”

Joe sighed as he tried to hide his disappointment. “Forget it, Radcliffe. I don’t know why won’t you trust me…”

“Joe! I just needed to see what kind of articles he’s written ...”

Joe narrowed his eyes at her. “Look, that’s twice he’s gotten under your skin. Has he got something on you or not?”

“Maybe ... I don’t know ...”

Joe stood up. “Fine.You know where I’m at if you need me.”

Catherine smiled at him. “If I need help finding my stuffed lion, you’re the first person I’ll call.”

Catherine worked late and headed home. She stopped at a newsstand and bought one of every newspaper they had. She spread them out across her table while she had a quiet dinner and read through them. She sat and watched the news, but there was no mention of her or Vincent on any of the local channels. With a frown, she took a shower and headed to bed. She was troubled with nightmares and had another restless night.

She repeated the same routine over the course of the next three days,but the lack of sleep and intense desire to see Vincent were finally starting to take its toll and Catherine had a horrific nightmare.

Spirko had written his story and it became front page news on the Sentinel. The headline read “DA’s Demon Lover on Murder Spree.” It had a hand drawn picture of Vincent and a photograph of her. On the way to work, she was shunned by people and hounded by reporters. She ran into Joe’s office but he looked at her with disgust. He was so horrified by the things Vincent had done, he started to shake her violently.

Catherine woke up screaming. Her body was covered with sweat as she looked over at the balcony doors. They were wide open and the curtains were blowing in the breeze, and she was reminded that Vincent had not come to see her again.

She sighed as she got up, took a shower, and headed into work.

* * *

Meanwhile, in the world Below, Vincent was struggling with his own lack of sleep. He, too, had little to no sleep over the past few days, and last night he’d finally fallenasleep only to be woken from the terror he felt coming through the bond. He flew out of bed to go to her, only to realize that it had instantly vanished. He realized she was only dreaming as he turned around and headed back to his chamber.

He sat in a chair for the remainder of the night and tried to control the thoughts spinning through his head. He finally gave up and walked to the Mirror Pool and sat down just as he felt another wave of terror come over the bond.He sighed and knew there was nothing he could do to ease Catherine’s troubles.

Father came in a few hours later and stood behind him. He tried to offer Vincent hope that enough time had passed and that maybe the reporter had achange of heart and wasn’t going to print the story.

Vincent knew that as long as he and Catherine continued to see one another, there would always be someone trying to destroy them.

Father sighed at the reality of it. “It’s been a wonderful dream, Vincent, but this is your home!”

“No, Father! This is my tomb!”Vincent said angrily ashe got up and walked away.

He was walking quickly through the tunnels when Mouse saw him and ran to catch up to him.“Vincent!” he called out excitedly.

Vincent whirled around to face him. “Mouse! What is it?”

“Have breakfast with Mouse?”

“I’m not hungry!” Vincent said abruptly, as he turned and continued his pace.

Mouse ran alongside of him. “Oh ... Mouse show plans ... found new chamber maybe ...”

“Show Cullen then.”

Mouse looked dejected. “Wanted to show you ...”

“Cullen can look at it, and then you can bring it to the council ...”

“Can’t you look?”

Vincent growled angrily. “Not now, Mouse!”

Shocked at the outburst, Mouse stopped,andVincent walked away from him.

Meanwhile, Father had walked back to the library and sat down. Mouse came in a short time later and stood looking down at him from the upper balcony. “Something’s wrong with Vincent.”

Father looked up with surprise, then frowned. “I know that, Mouse.”

“Not happy.”

“No, he’s not.”


Father sighed and looked down. “He’s restless, Mouse. The tunnels no longer bring him the happiness he needs.”

Mouse looked confused. “Not happy here?! Has food ... bed ... you ... Mouse ... everyone!”

Father shook his head. “I’m not explaining this well, am I?” Mouse started to make his way down the steps while Father continued. “He feels trapped. His home has become a prison, cutting him off from the world Above. He needs the night sky ... the stars ...”

Mouse walked down the staircase, stood next to him, and shrugged. “Needs Catherine!”

Father nodded. “Well ... if only I could make it so. Everything I do ... everything I say ... seems so small.” He grabbed Mouse’s arm affectionately. “Still, we must help!”

“Okay good! Okay fine!”

Mouse left and started trying to think of something that would bring Vincent happiness. Jamie came in and delivered an envelope to Father and then took off after Mouse.

Father opened the envelope and found photos of Vincent killing two men. He dug further into the envelope and found a note summoning him to an address in the world Above. He realized he had no choice but to go see who it was. He thought he recognized Paracelsus’ printing, so he got dressed,then armed himself with the gun Catherine had brought down when the intruders were Below.

Father walked as far as he could in the tunnels, then headed up and walked the rest of the way Above. He let himself into the unlocked penthouse and looked around.


“I’m in here, Jacob. I’ve been waiting for you. I trust you enjoyed the photographs ...”

Father followed the voice and stood in a dark room. “I burned them!” he said angrily.

“Pity ... I thought they showed the boy in an interesting light ... But your appetite for truth was always rather limited, as I recall.”

“There was nothing of truth in those photographs!”

“The camera does not lie, Jacob. But we’re not all strong enough to look upon the face of Medusa, are we?”

Father sighed in disgust. “You wanted me ... well ... I’m here. What is this all about?”

Paracelsus grew angry. “What it’s always been about! You ... me ... the child!”

“I will not allow you to publish those photographs!”

“And how do you propose to stop me, old friend?”

Father pulled a gun out of his coat pocket and leveled it at Paracelsus.

Paracelsus got up from his seat. “So this is what it’s come to in the end ... all your fine talk of love and turning the other cheek ... Kill me then! You’ll find me quite unarmed.”

Paracelsus opened the drapes to let the bright sun in. Father blinked and hid his eyes as he tried to get them accustomed to the sunlight.

“Does the light offend your eyes?” Paracelsus goaded. “Forgive me ... you’ve spent too long in the dark.Perhaps we all have.”

Father knew he didn’t have it in him to shoot the man who was once his best friend. He lowered the gun in disgrace. “What is it you want fromme, John?”

“It’s a small thing really.”

Father lost his patience. “For God’s sake! Tell me!”

“It’s time for the boy to claim his birthright!” Paracelsus dangled a locket in his hand.

Father recognized it as the one that used to be Anna’s, John’s wife.He tried to buy some time so he could think. “That’s Anna’s locket?”

“You know it is.”

“What do you plan on doing with it?”

Paracelsus waved to a chair in front of his desk, then proceeded to sit in his own chair. “I’m going to show it to the boy.”

“For what reason, John?”

“Jacob, please.Why do you think? So he can finally know where he came from.”

“He knows where he came from!”

Paracelsus exploded in anger. “No! The boy only knows that silly version you told him. I plan on telling him the truth!”

“That is the truth! Somewhere inside of your mind, John, you know it is! Anna knew it was the truth as well.”

“Don’t you ever say my wife’s name again!”

Father frowned and looked down at his hands. “Vincent won’t listen to you. You must know that.”

Paracelsus had gotten up to pour them both a drink of water. He handed one to Father and sat on the edge of the desk. “No, that much is true. But he will listen to you.”

“I don’t understand ...”

“You’re going to tell him ...”

“I won’t help you tell Vincent some distorted truth!”

“I didn’t ask for your help.” Paracelsus opened a cabinet door, and Father looked at a mask of his own likeness in front of him. “In fact, I don’t need you at all, Jacob!”

Father immediately realized what Paracelsus was planning, and his eyes narrowed as he looked at him. “Vincent will be able to tell you’re an imposter instantly!”

Paracelsus’ voice changed to mimic Father’s. “Why would you say that? Vincent loves me.He trusts me!”

Father’s stomach rolled as he fought to control the sick feeling that settled in his stomach. “What about his sense of smell?”

Paracelsus laughed as if he were talking to a child. “I’ll wear your clothing, Jacob. Your scent will be on me!”

Father went to get up,butParacelsus kicked his leg out from under him. Father fell back in the chair as he gripped his leg, reeling in pain. “Vincent is in a fragile state right now! You can’t do this to him!”

Paracelsus laughed maniacally. “Don’t you see, Jacob ... it’s because of his instability that now is the perfect time.” His arm suddenly came down. In his hand he held a wooden statue,and he hit Father across the head with it. Then he watched as his old friend fell to the floorunconscious.

Paracelsus picked up the gun and held it in his hands, pointing at his friend. Like Father, though, he lowered his shaking hand …put the gun down. His face grimaced in disgust that, in his weakness, he was unable to bring himself to pull the trigger and end Father’s life.

He whistled for one of his helpers. Gorlick was another simple one from far Below. He was a twin of Erlick, but this one lacked the cunning of Erlick and wasn’t as good of a fighter. His brute strength was all that Paracelsus required of him.

“Gorlick, remove this man’s clothes!”

Gorlick stripped Father to his underclothes and threw the suit in a pile. Paracelsus shook his head with disappointment at the barbarian,then changed into Father’s clothes.

“Put these on him.” Paracelsus indicated his own clothes that he had just removed.

Gorlickfollowed orders and got Father sloppily dressed.

Paracelsus took a chair and placed it in the hidden room adjacent the office. “Put him in this chair.” he directed.

Gorlick picked up Father and threwhim over his shoulder, then dropped him in the chair. Paracelsus tied Father’s arms and legs together, then closed the door to the hidden room.

He looked at Gorlick. “Your reward is Below. Go there quickly and make sure you’re not seen!”

Gorlick left, and Paracelsus quickly put on his disguise, then whistled happily as he made his way Below.

* * *

Catherine was on her way to work,and ,as she sat in the back of the taxi, her mind went over and over the details of her nightmare. She shrugged it off as she exited the elevator at her floor.

Rita greeted her with her usual smile. “Hi!”

“Good morning.”

“For some of us. Are you okay, Cath?”

“Yeah ... why?”

Rita frowned. “I don’t know ... you just haven’t looked like yourself all week.”

Catherine shrugged. “I’m just tired, I guess.”

“Well ... Joe wanted to see you the second you walked in the door.”

“Oh great.” Catherine rolled her eyes. “I wonder if it can wait until I get a cup of coffee.”

Rita shrugged and Catherine walked towards her desk. She looked at Joe’s closed door, then sighed and walked in. “Rita said you wanted to see me?”

“Yeah. Did you see this morning’s Sentinel?”

Memories of her nightmare flooded through her, and she cautiously approached his desk. “No. What does it say?”

“You better sit down.”

Worried about what it said, she grabbed it from his hand. “Just let me see it!”

She blinked in surprise when she read the headline: “Missing Reporter Found Murdered.”

Joe frowned as he walked around his desk. “What’s going on, Radcliffe?”

Catherine was in shock. “I don’t know.”

“How come I don’t believe you?”

“I can’t help what you believe!” she said angrily.

“Hey, I’m on your side, remember? I don’t know what’s going on here, but if you need a lawyer or a friend ... I’m here, and I got to tell you if have any idea why Spirko was knifed, I think you should tell the police.”

“Knifed?!” Catherine gasped. She had thought that Spirkomighthave tried to follow Vincent and had been killed, and and she’dquickly rushedto Vincent’s defense.

Joe shrugged. “Well ... yeah ... the autopsy said ...” Joe noticed how pale her face had gone and he realized she was innocent. “Cathy ... I don’t think you need to see this.”

“Go on, Joe!”

“The coroner said he was killed with a double-edged blade ... razor sharp ... like some kind of surgical tool. Entry wound was in the lower abdomen but he was cut ... Are you sure you’re okay?” Joe asked when she looked like she was going to be sick.

Catherine nodded. “Yeah.”

He nodded and walked back to his chair. “I haven’t seen anyone cut this bad since Jimmy ...”

Catherine was looking away as his words slowly sunk in, she turned back to look at him curiously. “What did you say?”

Joe frowned again. “I said Spirko’s wounds were similar to the ones that happened to Jimmy.”

“Jimmy…Morero?” Catherine clarified.

“Yeah. How many Jimmy’s do you know whohad their bellies opened up with a double-edged knife?”

Catherine remembered seeing Jimmy’s body afterParacelsus had knifed him in thebasement of a building. She wondered if there was anyway Paracelsus was involved with this whole thing. Could he be conspiring with Spirko to destroy her and Vincent?

She debated back and forth and decided it warranted a hard look to see if it could be possible. Curious,she looked over at Joe. “I have the Davidson testimony to go over, but I have a hunch about something. I’d like to followup on it.”

“If you think you know who killed Spirko ... give Wilson the Davidson file and go follow your lead. You want some help?”

“No, thanks. It’s such a long shot.I’m certain it won’t pan out but ...”

“Hey! Sometimes the long shot pays back the most. Go check it out!”

“Thanks, Joe.  I’ll let you know what I come up with.”

Catherine left and went to the coroner’s office.

* * *

“Hi, I’m Catherine Chandler with the District Attorney’s Office.” She flashed her badge at the receptionist. “Is there someone I could speak to about comparing some cases?”

A young man was walking by and stopped and smiled. “Hi, I’m sorry I couldn’t help but overhear ...”

Catherine turned around and smiled. “Can you help me?”

“I think so.I’m new here, but let me see what I can do for you.” Catherine followed him to his office and sat in the chair he indicated. “I’m Brad Collins, by the way.”

“I’m Cath–”

“Catherine Chandler. I heard.”

“Most people call me Cathy.”

“Okay, Cathy. What can I help you with?”

“Your office did an autopsy on a man ... a reporter ...”


“Yes.I had some questions about the report.”

“Well, you’re lucky. I was actually the one who did it. What do you want to know?”

Catherine leaned forward. “A while back there was a similar killing done to a friend of mine.He was a detective on a case and got killed in the line of duty.”

Brad was surprised as he turned on his computer. “This will take a few minutes, but these are the two cases you want me to compare?”

Catherine smiled.  “You can read minds too?”

Brad shrugged. “Only the ones of beautiful women ...”

Catherine blushed as Brad signed on to his computer. “You got a name?” he asked.

“Jimmy ... James Morero.”

Brad pulled up the report and was strangely silent as he looked at all the pictures. He studied the photos for almost ten minutes before he sat back.

Catherine looked at him curiously. “Well?”

Brad nodded his head. “They’re very similar ... too similar.”

“So it’s possible it was done by the same knife?”

Brad scanned through all the pictures again. “Look, Cathy. Everything points to the same knife. The knife used to kill Spirko had a notch in it ... like some teeth were missing in the blade ... Let me go downstairs and dig through the dust to pull the actual file on the Morero case and compare the pictures. Give me some time to read through the report and I’ll let you know.”

Catherine nodded. “Will you be able to do it today? Like right now?”


Catherine could tell he was being evasive. “That’s fine; I understand.But can I ask how sure are you that this is the same knife?”

Brad looked at her pointedly. “Honestly, these wounds are so similar, I’m 95% sure. If I find out that the blade that killed Jimmy had a notch on it ...”

“But what if back then it didn’t have a notch on it?”

“That’s the other 5%.”

Catherine let the news sink in that Paracelsus probably killed both Spirkoand Jimmy. She stood slowly and handed her card to Brad. “Can you call me when you have the results?”

Brad smiled and wagged his eyebrows. “There’s no home phone on this ...”

Catherine laughed. “I’m at work all the time.You can reach me there.”

“What if it’s two in the morning and I’m lonely and want a nightcap?”

“My boyfriend doesn’t like me out at night ... He worries ...”

“Just my luck ...” Brad sighed. “Well, we don’t want to make your boyfriend mad now, do we?”

“Not this one.” Catherine said, as she got up with a sigh. “Okay, I’ll just sit tight and wait for your call. Thank you for your help.”

Brad frowned as he looked up at her. “Wait!” Catherine turned to look at him. “Look, I can tell how upset you are about this. Why don’t we head down now.We can take a look at the file together.”

Catherine’s eyes grew wide with surprise. “You would do that for me?”

“I would do that for any pretty lady.” He nodded towards the door where the bodies were kept. “Besides, my clients never complain if I’m behind schedule.”

Brad led Catherine to the basement and into the file room. “Morero, right?”


He found the M’s and started to thumb through them. “Let’s see now, Mer ... Mil ... Mon ... Mop ... ... Got it!” He pulled it out. “Wow! I can’t believe how big this is!” He glanced at the doctor’s name that did the report. “Fulton ... you’re lucky, Cathy> They gave this guy to the best.”

“Like I said ... Jimmy was a detective, and it was a homicide.”

“Still ... you won’t find a better forensics expert than Fulton.” Brad led her to a back table and turned on the light. They sat down on bar stools while Brad opened the file.

Catherine sat patiently while he read. She glanced at the pictures in front of her and felt her stomach protest. She gasped and looked away. Brad reached over and put the pictures back in the file and closed it.

Catherine looked up at him, but he had done all of this without glancing from the report. She thought about how intuitive he had been and decided he would be a good catch for some girl who was looking for a man.

Brad set the paper down and looked at her. “I’ve got good news and bad news.Which do you want first?”

Catherine shrugged. “Does it matter? Bad, I guess... ”

“Okay, the bad news ... There are two men dead and nobody’s been caught from either case.”

“The good news?”

Brad smiled. “The good news is ... you’re looking for one guy.”

Catherine let the news sink in that Paracelsus had killed both Jimmy and Bernie. “You’re certain?”


Catherine shook her head. “No ... I mean would you testify in court that both men were killed by the same man?”

Brad smile faded as he shook his head. “I ... wouldn’t say that ...”

“No?! But you just said ...”

Brad held up his hands in defeat as he interrupted. “Cathy, I’m sorry ... I phrased this whole thing wrong. Both men were killed by the same knife,that much is certain. The knife pattern is the same, and the notch in the knife shows up in both men. The pressure exuded when the cut was made is equal in both men, which indicates that both killers had similar strength. The same knife killed both men. I don’t know if whoever was on the other end of the blade was the same person.”

“Fair enough.”

But Catherine didn’t need that much proof. The more she thought about, it the more she realized it must be Paracelsus behind all of this. Who else would know that you could get to the tunnels from below her apartment building? The men that kidnapped her had been given specific instructions on how to get below. And how would Spirko know to go to the exact spot in the tunnels to get the best pictures?

Brad leaned over and squeezed her hand. “Are you all right?”

Catherine blinked and looked at him. “Yeah ... Brad, I don’t now how to thank you.You just saved me days of work.”

Brad smiled devilishly. “How about a dinner date?”

Catherine smiled and rolled her eyes. “What about something else?”

“Dump the boyfriend and marry me?”

Catherine laughed. “I was thinking more along the lines of Met’s tickets?”

Brad shook his head. “Nah ... I spend all my time here. You can do me one favor though.”


He indicated Jimmy’s photos. “Catch this guy so I don’t have to look at any more of these.”

“You got it.” Catherine stepped in front of him and offered her hand. “Thanks, Brad.”

“I was happy to help ... really.”

* * *

Catherine left and headed back to work. She ran into Joe’s office with the news. “My lead panned out!”

Joe nodded, as he continued to read the report in front of him. “Oh, yeah?”

“The same knife killed Jimmy and Spirko!”

Joe’s face registered his shock as his head whipped up. “What did you say?!”

“The same knife that killed Jimmy, killed Spirko, and it’s highly probable from the force exuded that it was the same man who killed both!”

“Are you sure?!”

“I just got back from the coroner’s office!”

“Who helped you out over there? It wasn’t Hamilton was it?”

“No ...”

“Good, she’s incompetent! She’s supposed to be gone by the end of the week.”

“No, it was a man named Brad Collins.He said he was new ...”

“Collins ... Hughes told me that a new guy started up there and that he was exceptional.Said he was a big flirt though ... I wonder if it’s the same guy?”

“He proposed to me, so I’d say that’s him!” Catherine laughed. “Look, I had a hunch and thought I’d ask him to compare the two files. I got lucky ... he was the one who autopsied Spirko. He took me to their basement and pulled the file on Jimmy.”

“Wow! You must have made a good impression on him!”

Catherine rolled her eyes. “Anyway, he said some guy named Fulton did Jimmy’s autopsy.”

Joe nodded grimly. “Yeah, I remember. Fulton is one of the best!”

“That’s what Brad said. Anyway, he compared files and told me the same knife killed both men. There is some notch in the blade from missing teeth, so it makes it easier to identify.”

“And he could tell by the entry wounds that the same amount of force was applied in each case. Good work, Radcliffe!”

“Now I have to find the killer.”

“Type up a report and get it over to Hughes. Let him find this guy!”

Catherine nodded as she went back to her desk. She typed up the report, then dropped it off herself at the police station before heading home.

* **

Catherine walked off the elevator on her floor and rounded the corner. She was shocked to see Father sitting in a chair by herdoor.

“Father?” she said as she kneeled by his side. “Something’s wrong?”

Paracelsus’ heart raced as his charade of being Father came to light. He took her hand and held it. “Yes, I’m afraid so ...”

“Come inside ...” Catherine led him inside her apartment and Father looked around appreciatively. “What is it?” Catherine asked.

Father schooled his features. “I need to ask you for your help, Catherine.”

“You can ask anything of me, Father. You know that.”

Father nodded. “I have some distressing information to tell Vincent. I thought that you could be there for me ... for him ... I’m not sure how he’s going to react to the news.”

Catherine tossed her briefcase on a nearby chair. “When do you want to do this?”

“Now! It has to be now. John ... Paracelsus is threatening to tell Vincent if I don’t ... I want to be the one to tell him ...”

“Tell him what?”

“About his past ...”

Catherine frowned and walked to her door. Father walked out and she locked it behind her, then led him to her basement. They walked silently through the tunnels.

Father looked over at her weakly as he pretended to struggle. “Thank you, dear, for not asking too many questions.”

Catherine nodded. “I’ll have the answers soon enough, won’t I?”


Father stopped in front of the library entrance. “Would you go ask Vincent to come here?”

“Of course, Father.”

Father walked inside, while Catherine continued on to Vincent’s chamber. He was lying on the bed with his arm over his eyes when she walked in.


“Catherine!” Vincent asked with surprise as he got out of bed.

“Hi. I’m sorry I woke you.”

“I wasn’t really sleeping. I guess I was so distracted I didn’t feel your approach or I would have come to you. Is something wrong?”

“Father asked me to come down. He has something to tell you ... us. He thought that maybe I could ... help.”

Vincent sighed as he rubbed his temples. He was so tired, and he didn’t know how much more he could take. “Let’s go see what he has to say ...”

Catherine took his hand and together they walked into the library.

Paracelsus had rushed to change into Father’s tunnel clothes. He was coming out from Father’s chamber when Vincent and Catherine stepped in.


“Father, Catherine said you wanted to speak to us.”

Father was nervous about being discovered and cautiously proceeded closer. “Yes ... I went Above today.”

Vincent blinked in surprise at the news. “Why?”

“John sent word he wanted to see me.”



Catherine stepped forward. “The reporter who found out about Vincent and mehas been found ... He was murdered. I think Paracelsus was the person who killed him. Do you remember when he was selling the drugs Above? He caused the death of a detective friend of mine.The blade used to kill Bernie Spirko has been identified as the same one that killed Jimmy last year.”

Vincent looked over at Father. “Paracelsus is a dangerous man.You shouldn’t have gone to see him.”

Fathergrew braver as he realized his charade was working and so far had fooled Vincent. “Perhaps, but John threatened to come down and talk to you if I didn’t.”

“About what, Father?” Vincent asked.

Father held up a gold locket dangling from a chain. “This.”

“He wanted you to show me a locket?”

“No ... the picture of the woman inside of it.”

“She must be someone important for Paracelsus to insist that I see her.”

Fathershrugged his shoulders. “On the way down I thought it best to drop it into the abyss as if it hadnever been.”

Vincent was shocked. “Why would you even consider such a thing?”

“To protect you. No one ever wanted to lie to you. It’s just that there were some things I thought you had no need to hear.”

“Who was she, Father?”

“Her name was Anna. She was one of us. A good woman ... she liked to go Above and walk through the streets ... meet the people. One night ... it was the coldest night of the year ...”

Vincent heard this story a million times and interrupted Father and cut to the chase.  “Anna was the one who found me?”

Father looked down ashamedly. “Uh ... no ... that was a story. You were never found ... Anna was your mother.”

“My–” Vincent couldn’t go on.

Catherine stepped closer as she looked at Vincent. She had felt his shock flow through the bond as she looked nervously at Father, then back at Vincent. 

Vincent raised his head. “What happened to her?”

“She died.” Father stated. “It was an accident ... so long ago ... We buried her down in the catacombs.” Vincent started to leave.Fatherknew where he was going to head and he grabbed at his arm. “Vincent ... Vincent please let it go!”

“No!” Vincent said angrily, as he flung Father’s hand off his arm. “How can you even ask that?!”

Vincent left the room, and Catherine, still in shock, followed behind him.She caught up to him in the tunnelway.

“Vincent ... wait!” she begged as she grabbed his arm.

“I’d like to be alone, Catherine.”

Catherine didn’t want to leave him alone with his thoughts, so she scrambled for any excuse to keep him near. “Will you at least sit with me for awhile, maybe in the Chamber of the Falls?”

Vincent didn’t answer, but he did follow behind her until they were almost there, then he suddenly stopped.

“Vincent?” Catherine asked, as she turned around to see why he stopped.

“Catherine, I must go!”

Catherine knew what he was thinking and stepped towards him. “To her tomb.Maybe you should give yourself some more time ...”

“Too much time has passed already!” he said angrily.

“Then I’ll go with you.”


“Why?!” Catherine frowned when she saw that he was determined to be alone. “Don’t you see what you’re doing? You’re throwing up walls ... You’re isolating yourself from the people who love you!”

“This is something I must face alone!”

He’d started to walk away, when Catherine reached for his arm. “Vincent!”

With a sigh, he turned to face her.She smiled weakly as she squeezed his arm. “Remember ... we can never lose each other if we remember love.”

Vincent lowered his head and nodded as she came forward and held him. He embraced her, then turned and abruptly walked away.

* * *

Vincent headed to the catacombs, but along the way ran into Narcissa. She showed him where Anna’s tomb was located. He asked her about contacting Anna for him. She warned him about waking the spirit of someone who died a terrible death. Vincent wondered how Anna had died and asked Narcissa to tell him, but she told him to ask Father.

She left as Vincent turned to look at Anna’s tombstone. He was able to see words hidden beneath some overgrown moss on the stone, and he moved it off to the side.

His mind reeled with shock as he saw proof that Anna’s last name was Pater and that she was John’s wife.He realized his whole life had been filled with lies, and the anger boiled through him. In a rage, he ripped at the tombstone, trying to make sense of it all as his thoughts reeled.

Unsuccessful at stilling his emotions, he roared out his anguish to the air and then slowly stood and headed to go and see Father.

* * *

Meanwhile, Catherine had decided to go and see Elliot. When she had first found out that Bernie Spirko was following her, she thought Elliot was responsible. Now that she knew he wasn’t involved, she needed to apologize to him for her accusations.

She waited for his secretary to announce her visit, then walked sheepishly into his office. She waffled with uncertainty when he lashed out at her and told her if she planned on more unsubstantiated accusations that she could just leave.

Elliot was shocked by her immediate apology, but was pleased she had reached out to him, and he readily accepted it. Catherine smiled gratefully at him that he was being so understanding.

Their tenuous friendship back on track, Elliot told Catherine he had hired an investigator to clear his name. Catherine warned Elliot that the man they were searching for was very dangerous.

Elliot promised to keep her informed if he found out anything.

* * *

Knowing Vincent would be returning soon, she left to go back Below.She entered the library a short time later.

“Father ...”

Father looked up at her. “Catherine ... Vincent’s not back yet, I’m afraid.”

Catherine nodded. “I need to talk to both of you. Elliot Burch has some men looking for–”She stopped when Vincent suddenly walked in.

“Catherine, leave us!”

Catherine was confused by what he was feeling and his abrupt dismissal of her. “Vincent ... what–”

He interrupted her as he looked angrily at Father. “Anna was John Pater’s wife!”

Catherine didn’t think she could be more shockedby news,and she looked nervously at Father, then back at Vincent. “I’ll wait in your chamber.”

She walked out, and Vincent stared at him. “Is it true then? Paracelsus was ... my father?”

Fatherwas filled with joy but he kept his composure and looked away.

At his silence, Vincent stepped over to him. “Father, what have you done?”

“It was done out of love ...”

“The greatest crimes are always committed in the name of love!”

“At the time is seems so obvious but now ... dear God, sometimes I feel so lost!”

“Tell me!”

Father pretended he was struggling to come up with the words. “In the beginning it was John. He and Anna had tried for so long to have a child, but it was impossible. The fault was in John; he was unable to father a child.”

“Yet Anna became pregnant.”

“To Anna it was a miracle but John ... just smiled ... as if he knew what was going to ...”Father stopped himself unable to go on.

“Go on,” Vincent directed.

“Vincent ... please!”

“Go on!” Vincent exploded angrily.

Father turned away, but Vincent whirled him around face him. “Why didn’t you tell any of the others?”

“I didn’t think there was a need. I thought it best not to frighten them.”

“I was an infant. What could they have feared?”

“The unknown ... Vincent, men are afraid of what they don’t understand, and they hate that which is different.”

“Someone must have known Anna was pregnant!”

“No ... no one knew ... you see ... Anna was ... Vincent, Anna was only in her third month when she went into labor.”

“Third month?!” Vincent gasped.

“As soon as it began, I knew something was wrong, but I could never have imagined Paracelsus ...” Fatherlooked over his shoulder gleefully and knew Vincent was believing every word he told him. He smiled inwardly and delivered the rest of his story.

“John was a genius in his own way ... but unorthodox ... Even so ... no one dreamed that he would perform medical experiments on his own wife!”

Vincent let the full impact of Father’s words wash over him. “Did ... Anna know what he was doing?”

“Right at the end ... when she was too weak to scream anymore ... she looked up at John and I saw the knowledge in her eyes ...”

Vincent swallowed hard. “So Anna died in childbirth like Devin’s mother?”

Fathershook his head. “No! No ... not like Devin’s mother.”

“Well ... then how?” Father wouldn’t answer him, so Vincent shook his chair. “How!”

“Vincent! You were not born like other children.You ripped your way out of your mother’s body!”

Vincent’s roars could be heard throughout the tunnels. Catherine started to go to him, but stopped herself and waited for him to come to her.

He walked in a short time later in a daze.

“Vincent, what is it?”

“Catherine, you must leave me!”



“What did Father tell you?”

“Go back to your world. Go back to the life you once led.Throw your memory of me behind you!”

Catherine walked in front of him. “Tell me what he said!” She took his hands in hers. “I love you, Vincent! Whatever it is, we can face it together!”

Vincent dropped her hands and walked away. “You love only part of me.”

“No, Vincent! I love all of you!”

“How can you know that? There are darknesses inside of me that you can only imagine ...”

“Whatever Father said ... it doesn’t matter. You haven’t changed. You’re still kind and gentle and strong ...”

“Stop it!” he roared. “You and Father ... you wouldn’t admit the truth even if it stood right in front of you! Look at me, Catherine! Look at me ... What do you see?”Vincent bent over to put his face lower to the candlelight.

Catherine could see the pain in his eyes and feel the anguish in him. “I see the man I love!”

Vincent stood up and looked at her disgustedly. “There are no mirrors in this chamber, but there are mirrors in the soul, and I cannot live with what I see there!”

Catherine walked over to offer her comfort, and, as she reached out with her hand, he snapped at her. “Don’t ... touch me! It is not safe to love me, Catherine!” His voice broke as he continued. “I killed Anna! These hands ripped apart my mother’s flesh ... I was born in blood!”

Catherine was horrified by his words, but wouldn’t believe it was true. “I don’t believe it!”

“Believe whatever you like, only leave me!”Vincent walked away from her and Catherine walked over again to offer comfort. Vincent whirled around and snarled angrily at her.

Catherine was startled by his outburst and jumped back.

His eyes were full of anger as he turned from her. “Don’t look back!”

For the first time since their first meeting, she was afraid. Not of him, but of the sudden change in him. She stood and debated what the right thing to do was, then she slowly turned around and walked away.

Vincent watched her leave, but at this point his body was numb, and he closed off the pain and let her go.

Catherine stood outside in the tunnel way. She wanted to go back inside, but she knew Vincent needed some time alone. She wanted to go and question Father on what had possessed him to tell Vincent that horrendous story, but she knew there was only one man responsible for Vincent being told the truth. Paracelsus was to blame for this whole situation. She needed to find him before he could do anymore damage to Vincent.

* * *

Catherine decided to go to Elliot’s to see if he had discovered anything more. She walked into his office to find him sitting with another man. Elliot introduced Cleon as his investigator. They told Catherine about the penthouse, and she asked Elliot to take her there.

Elliot would never deny Catherine anything, and, since the request was something he was already planning on doing, it was easily fulfilled. Elliot arranged it quickly, and they went over with several bodyguards to investigate the penthouse.

Cleon found a blood stain in the middle of the carpeting, and one of his men found a hollow panel in the wall which led to the discovery of a hidden room.

Cleon pulled is gun and entered into the room. He saw an older man with blood on his head sitting in a chair. “Who the hell are you?”

A feeble voice called out. “Please help me.”

Catherine recognized the voice instantly and whipped into the room. “Father?!”


“Is this the man?” Elliot wondered.

“No.” She looked up at Cleon. “Help me get him out of here!”

She and Cleon began to untie Father’s restraints as Father looked at Catherine desperately. “Vincent! Warn him!Paracelsus is Below!”

Catherine frowned as she realized the ‘Father’ living Below was actually Paracelsus. “Can you get up?”

“I don’t ...”

Cleon stood.Elliot came over,and the two men got Father to his feet. He stood and wavered uncertainly, but Catherine knew what side his cane went on, and she went over and slid his arm around her shoulder to support him.


“Yes,” he gasped with relief.

She looked at Elliot. “I need to get him home!”

Cleon took Father’s other arm. “We’ll see he’s taken care of.  He needs to go to a hospital. He needs to see a doctor.”

“I am a doctor ...” Father added weakly.

Cleon sighed. “All right, then we’ll get you home.”

Catherine shook her head as she looked at Elliot pleadingly. “No, I ... have to get him there!” 

Cleon looked at Elliot, then back at Catherine. “Okay, where’s home?”

Catherine was exasperated as Elliot smiled knowingly. “Manning, have your men search this place from top to bottom. “I’m going to take Miss Chandler and her friend home.”

Cleon and his men started searching the rest of the house, while Elliot looked over at his bodyguard and driver. “Connor, bring the car closer.You’re taking us ...”

“Where to, Mr. Burch?”

Elliot looked knowingly at Catherine. “Central Park, I think.”

Connor frowned, then walked away, while Catherine nodded with relief. She looked up at Elliot, her eyes filled with gratitude. “Thank you.”

Elliot rolled his eyes and smiled. “Someday, I’m going to get an answer to all of this ...”

Catherine prompted Father to take a few steps forward. He had to lean on her further, but they soon got into synch and made it to the car. Father collapsed onto the seat breathing heavily.

Catherine sat next to him and gingerly touched the area around his temple. “It’s swollen, but I don’t think it’s bleeding anymore.”

“No, I think it must have gone down overnight.”

“Overnight!” Catherine gasped. “How long have you been in there?”

Father grimaced. “I came here yesterday ... in the afternoon ...  John ... sent for me ...” he pointed to his head. “He did this. I must have been unconscious for a long time, because, when I woke up, I could see a small shaft of light under the doorway. When I woke again later,the light was much brighter.”

Father started to cough and Elliot poured him a glass of water, then handed it to him. “Drink some of this.”

Father took it, but his hands shook as he brought it to his mouth. Catherine reached up and steadied it while Father drank the entire glass of water, then handed it back to Elliot. “Thank you.”

Elliot refilled the glass, then handed it back again as he smiled, then turned to Catherine. “Spirko had meetings here at least four times that we know about. My guess is that whoever did this to your friend here killed Spirko.”

Catherine nodded in agreement. “You’re right.”

Elliot sat forward, clearly intrigued. “Somehow this guy disguised himself as me and fooled adamn good reporter! I want to know how, and I want to know why.”

The driver called from the front. “Mr. Burch? Where in the park am I going?”

Catherine shrugged innocently at the interruption.

Elliot cocked his head and smiled. He knew that once again he was being left in the dark. “Near the place you picked me up a while back ...”

“Here, sir?”

Elliot opened the window. He could see the culvert about two hundred yards ahead. He looked at Catherine then called out to the driver. “Closer to that culvert?” 

Catherine sighed and nodded her approval. The car came to a stop in front of the entrance. Catherine got out and turned back to help Father. He got to his feet, then leaned back against the car.

Elliot got out as well and looked around. “Let me help get him in there before we’re seen.”

Catherine looked around cautiously and knew he was right and nodded. “Thank you.”

Elliot threw Father’s arm around his waist and they began to walk. Catherine led the way and Elliot helped Father over to the wall near the steel grate.

“This is as far as I go?” Elliot asked.

Catherine nodded ,while Father looked up at him. “Mr. Burch ... there are no words ...”

Elliot smiled and reached out his hand to touch Father’s elbow. “It’s all right. I’m happy I was able to help.”

Father smiled gratefully, while Catherine stepped forward. He saw how close she got to Elliot, and he turned to look away.

Catherine kissed Elliot on the cheek. “Elliot ... you did more than help. I can’t thank you enough.”

Elliot smiled and tried to hide his pain. “This man you love ... I hope he’s worth it.”

Catherine nodded. “He is. Goodbye, Elliot.”Elliot walked away, and Catherine turned her attention back to Father. “Let’s get you Below.”

“We have to hurry.”

Catherine frowned and picked up a rock. “Can’t we send a message?”

“No, John will only hear it and disappear or worse ... hurt someone ... if he hasn’t already.”

Catherine dropped the rock as, and Father made their way slowly through the tunnels. “Why is he doing this, Father?”

“He wants to control Vincent.”

“This game he’s been playing ... impersonating Elliot ... using the reporter the way he did ... Doesn’t he realize how dangerous this is?”

“He doesn’t care, Catherine!”

“Father, Vincent ... is so ... lost ... right now! Paracelsus told him his mother’s name was Anna. He let Vincent go down to the catacombs, and he discovered Anna was Paracelsus’ wife. He led Vincent to believe that he was his father!”

“That’s exactly what I was afraid of ... John telling Vincent his distorted version of the truth!”

“Which is what, Father?”

“Anna was John’s wife ... that much of the story is true. She became pregnant but ...”

Father lost his footing, and Catherine put her arm around his back to support him further. “But what?”

“Anna lost her baby in the third month, and something seemed to happen to John. Shortly afterwards, she found a child in the snow outside St. Vincent’s hospital, and things seemed to get very confused in John’s mind as his ...”Father stumbled again and leaned against the rock wall.

“Are you all right?” Catherine gasped.

Father nodded. “Thank you.”

Catherine got him back to the story. “How did they become confused? He began to see Vincent as the son he lost?”

“Yes ... Oh, Anna loved Vincent, but she could see John’s obsession was becoming unhealthy. It broke her heart, but she thought it best if the child stayed with me.”

Father looked past her, and they started to walk again. Catherine moved to his side once again and crawled under his arm, then supported him as best she could.

“Didn’t she know how Paracelsus would react?”

“Well, in spite of everything she still loved John, and she thought in time the grief would pass and he would forgive her. Instead he gave her poison ... in a glass of wine. Afterwards, he told me it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but he’d done it for Vincent.”

“He’d already lost his mind back then!”


Catherine placed her hand on Father’s chest. “He told Vincent Anna was his mother and that she had died during childbirth when he ripped his way out of her body.”

Father gasped in shock. “Dear God! What must Vincent be thinking?!”

“I don’t know ... He shut me out ... He ... Itried to go to him but he turned on me ... snarled a warning.”

Father’s eyes registered his horror. “Are you okay?”

Catherine nodded. “I’m fine! He startled me more than anything. I left because I wanted to give him some time alone. I was going to head back after I found Paracelsus.”

“And instead you found me.”

Catherine smiled. “Yes, thank God.”

Father squeezed her hand and they began to walk again.

Around the next bend, Jamie stepped out with her crossbow pointed at them. “Stop right there!”

Catherine called out. “Jamie, it’s me ... Catherine. I’m here with Father.”

“Father’s already Below!” Jamie said as she gripped her bow tighter.

Catherine protested. “No! Paracelsus is Below pretending he’s Father.”

“How do I know it’s not Paracelsus pretending to be you or Father?”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Catherine said exasperated.

Jamie had never seen Catherine frustrated like this before, and it only made her more suspicious. “You’ll have to tell me something.”

Catherine exploded. “Damn it, Jamie! This isn’t a game!”

Father patted her hand. “Catherine, Jamie is only following her instructions. Tell her something that only you and she would know.”

Catherine sighed and thought quickly. “You came into the guest chamber one night and were admiring some hair clips I had. We let down your hair from the pony tail and combed it out, then put it up in clips. You looked beautiful.”

Jamie grinned with relief. “Thanks.” She pointed the crossbow at Father. “Now you.”

Father smiled weakly. “When you were six years old, you had a horrible case of the chicken pox and you couldn’t sleep. You were itching so badly you woke me up in the middle of the night. I put some medicine on you, and you sat in my lap while I read you stories. Right before you fell asleep you asked me if I would wait until you grew up so I could marry you.”

Jamie lowered her bow and groaned aloud. “You could have chosen a less embarrassing story!”

Catherine grinned, but it faded quickly. “We have to get to Paracelsus before he does any more damage to Vincent.”

Jamie went to the other side of Father. “We better hurry. Vincent was heading to see Father ... I mean Paracelsus … a few minutes ago.”

The three hurried through the tunnel way.

* * *

Vincent had walked into the library to talk to Father. Paracelsus was armed with the knowledge that Vincent was already losing his hold on controlling the beast. He hid his glee that he could see his son’s weakened mental health, and he knew the time was coming close to when Vincent would snap. He kept up a steady assault of words on him, and he saw him start to tremble under the pressure.

Paracelsus went in for the final kill and brought up the victims of Vincent’s past. He goaded him into remembering what it felt like to kill each of those people. Vincent had been snarling warnings asFather continued his verbal attack.

Catherine felt his turmoil and turned to Father and Jamie. “Hurry!”

Vincent was finally driven over the edge, and he lashed out at Father. He pushed him to his back on the table and dug his claws in deeply to Father’s chest, then pulled down, effectively slashing him open from neck to waist.

The horror of what he’d done started to sink in, and he looked at his hand, clearly shocked that he had just used it to kill Father.

Paracelsus was ecstatic. Vincent had finally been driven to kill an innocent man.

Vincent watched in horrified disbelief as Father tore off his mask, and Paracelsus revealed to him who he had actually killed.

“At last…you are MY son,” were Paracelsus’ last words.

Catherine, Father, and Jamie had walked in to seconds after Vincent delivered the lethal blow to Paracelsus’ chest. Father clamped down at the horror on Vincent’s face as he realized what he’d done.

Vincent heard someone behind him and turned around to face them. He looked with confusion at the real Father. His mind didn’t register the wound onFather’s temple. He looked at Jamiebriefly,then finally at Catherine. He stood there silently and looked back and forth between Father and Catherine, trying to come to terms with the thoughts racing through his mind.

Catherine steadied Father, then came down the steps and held Vincent’s hands. “Are you all right?”

Vincent frowned and looked at her. Wordlessly, he dropped her hands,then walked out the door.

Father nodded to her. “He’s in shock. Follow him ... try to get him to his chamber…I’ll be right there.”Catherine left, and Father turned to Jamie. “Call for John and Matthew, see if they can remove ... him,” he said as he nodded at Paracelsus.

Father’s voice cracked with emotion over the death of whowas once a great friend, but he had no time to mourn John’s death. Vincent needed him right now, so he walked for his medical bag and headed to his chamber.

* * *

Catherine was relieved when Vincent turned to walkinto his own chamber. He sat down in a chair, but she grew worried when he ignored her and stared straight ahead as if he were in a trance. Shequickly poured some water into a basin and cleaned the blood off his hand. When she was done, she leaned in and took his hands in her own.

“I’m here, Vincent.” He was unresponsive and she squeezed his hands reassuringly. “I’m here ...”When he gave no indication of a response, Catherine put her arms around his neck and pulled his head to rest on her chest. She kissed the top of his head and whispered. “We’ll get through this Vincent…” she cooed, as she rocked him lightly.

When Father came in, she backed away so he would be able to examine him.

Father took his vital signs. He looked into his son’s eyes, then shrugged his shoulders in defeat as he came and stood next to her. “It’s not physical.”


“He’s been under so much strain… The mental fatigue alone…”

Catherine nodded, then stared at Vincent wondering what was going through his mind. “Will he be all right?”

“I hope in time ... Catherine, I’ll sit with him if you ...”

“No! I’ll stay as long as he needs me.” She stepped forward to get closer to Vincent again. “Vincent ... it’s finished. You did what had to be done and we’re free.The nightmare is over.”

Vincent felt a battle going on within him, and somehow he knew it was only going to get worse. For the first time since they came upon him, he made eye contact with them. “No ... it’s not over.”

He seemed so certain that Catherine shuddered.

Father leaned forward as he shook his head. “Son, Paracelsus is gone; he can’t hurt us now. I can assure you we have nothing more to be afraid of.”

“Father, he’s not the one who scares me…”

Alarmed, Catherine looked at Father and reached for his hand. “I’ll talk to him. You should have Mary take a look at that cut.”

 Father squeezed her hand affectionately. “If you need me for anything ...”

“I know where you are. I promise I’ll come get you.”

Unsure if he was doing the right thing, Father frowned and came forward and kissed Vincent on the head. “Get some sleep, son.”

Vincent had slipped back into his empty gaze, and Father glanced at Catherine one last time. She nodded her approval and he left.

Catherine bent over in front of Vincent and took his hands in hers. “Vincent ...” He didn’t acknowledge her so she spoke louder. “Vincent ...”

Vincent blinked his eyes, but gave no other indication that he had heard her. Catherine sighed and pulled a chair over in front of him. She sat down and once again took his hands in hers.

“Vincent, I remember when my father was in the hospital ... the doctor said he believed he could still hear me. I think you can hear me too, and I need you to listen to me.” She held his hands tighter in her own. “Paracelsus said some horrible things to you that had absolutely no truth to them. You must realize that he was a very sick man. His mind was twisted with half-truths, and he started to believe these things. He was not your father, and Anna was never your mother! Anna did find you and she did take care of you, but when Paracelsus became obsessed with you, she gave you to Father to protect you. She loved you so much ... She gave you away to save you from the harm her husband could do to you. So she didn’t die giving birth to you. You were not born in blood. Her death was brought on by poison administered by her own husband.”

Vincent blinked his eyes and slowly looked over at her. “You don’t know that.”

Catherine was relieved he had acknowledged her, and she sighed as he looked back to stare at nothing. “No, you’re right. I don’t know that ... but neither do you. What I do know is that you were raised by a man who loves you very much, and there’s another man out therewhowas raised as your brother, and he loves you very much as well. There is also a whole community of people who love you. But Vincent ...” Tears sprang into Catherine’s eyes as she slowly moved to kneel between his legs. She looked up and smiled when he looked at her. “I don’t know if any of them can possibly love you as much as I do.”

Vincent closed his eyes and threw his head back and began to cry. Deep sobs racked his body and Catherine quickly moved to his lap. She pulled gently on his neck, then laid his head against her chest again and cuddled him as a mother would. Her hands caressingly moved through his hair as she crooned nonsensical things in his ear.

Eventually Vincent’s tears were spent. Catherine wiped the last of his tears from his cheek,then stood and silently stretched her hand out to him. He took it and allowed her to lead him to his bed.

“Sit down, Vincent.”

Vincent sat on the edge while Catherine removed his heavy boots. She crawled up to the center of his bed and looked at him. “Lie down with me.”

Vincent looked at her uncertainly.

Catherine’s eyebrows rose in surprise as she gave him a coy smile. “After everything we’ve already shared, you’re still being shy?”

He eventually relented, then lay down next to her.

Catherine covered them with a blanket, then lay back against a pile of pillows. She was leaning against the pile just slightly above him and again, she cuddled his head to her chest. “You’re exhausted, Vincent. Try to sleep.”

Vincent tried to fight it, but she held him close and caressed his hair. Within a matter of minutes, Vincent was asleep in her arms. Catherine gently toyed with strands of his hair and offered whatever comfort she could.

After a while, Father appeared in the door, and Catherine put her finger to her lips to indicate he shouldn’t talk. Father nodded and gestured, asking if Vincent was asleep. Catherine nodded slightly as Father smiled at her gratefully.

He looked exhausted, and Catherine gestured to Father to go get some sleep. Vincent stirred in his sleep, and Catherine immediately stroked his hair again. He cuddled her close to him and settled back down. When Catherine looked up again, Father was gone.

She began to relax, and eventually she too fell asleep. Sometime during the night, their positions changed, and Catherine woke to find herself spooned against him. His leg was over her hip and he held her tightly in his arms. She dared not move for fear of waking him. 

“You’re awake,” Vincent whispered as he removed the weight of his leg from her hip.

“Yes, I’m sorry, Vincent. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Vincent shook his head as he shifted positions. “You didn’t. I think after thirteen hours of sleep, we’re both rested.”

“Thirteen hours!” Catherine sat up and held her hand over her mouth as she yawned. “I woke up a few times and you were asleep. I didn’t want to disturb you.”

Vincent nodded. “I know. The same thing happened to me.”

Catherine scooted to the end of the bed. “Father must be worried. We should go see him.”

Vincent thought of the last time he’d been in the library and shuddered. “I ...”

Father suddenly walked in and smiled. “The two of you finally woke up!”

“Yes!” Catherine said as she stood. “How are you, Father? How’s your head?”

“Fine ... The swelling has gone down considerably and the pain’s gone. How are you and Vincent?”

Catherine turned back to look at Vincent. “We’re rested.”

“Good.” Father smiled weakly as he moved closer. “How are you feeling this morning, Vincent?”

Catherine knew the two men needed a chance to talk, so she slipped on her shoes. “Father can you stay here? I’m heading home to call Joe before he sends out the troops”

Catherine came over and kissed Father’s cheek, then Vincent’s. “I’ll see you both later.”

Vincent reached out and grabbed her hand, then looked at Father. “Can I meet you in the library?”

Knowing they needed a minute alone, Father smiled and nodded. “Of course, I’ll send for some tea.”

Father left, and Vincent looked down and sighed. “Catherine ...”

Catherine squeezed his hand. “What is it, Vincent?”

“Thank you for being here with me.”

“Oh, Vincent, I’ll always be here for you.”

“I don’t think I would’ve slept if you weren’t here ...”

Catherine smiled. “Me,too.I always feel safe with you ... content and loved.”

Vincent looked up at her. “You are loved.”

Catherine bent over and kissed his cheek. “Father’s worried. You should go see him.”

Vincent stood and faced her. He took both of her hands in his. “Catherine, I’m ... a little scared.”

Catherine remembered saying these same words to him when her father died. “I know.”

Vincent smiled as he remembered as well. “It’s not strange?”

“After what we’ve been through ... it’s not strange. Do you ... want me to go with you?”

Vincent wanted to say yes, but he shook his head. “No ... I ... can face this alone.”

Catherine cuddled against his chest, and his arms automatically surrounded her. “You’re not alone. I’m a part of you.Take my strength and go see him.”

They hugged, and Catherine turned her face in and kissed the side of his neck. She pulled back slightly to briefly kiss him on the lips. “You know where I am if you need me.”

Catherine walked out, and Vincent watched her go. With a sigh, he headed to go see Father.

* * *

Vincent hesitated slightly in the tunnel way, but then walked into the library. He steeled himself to look at the desk where he’d taken Paracelsus’ life.

Father waited while he composed himself, then poured him a cup of tea when he sat down.

Vincent took a drink, then slowly looked up at Father. He noticed the bandage on Father’s temple and nodded toward it. “Tell me.”

Father frowned and looked away. “It’s not important.”

“Father!” Vincent interrupted him. “Please, tell me!”

Father sighed. “John sent me some pictures ... and a note ... summoning me to an address Above.”

“What were the pictures of?” Vincent could see that Father wasn’t going to answer. “Father!”

“You ... I assume they were the ones he got from that photographer!”

Vincent knew they were pictures of him killing the men in the tunnels below Catherine’s apartment building. “And what did the note say?”

Father expelled a long breath. “The note said to come to the address indicated or see the photos published.”

“He knew you would come to him?”

Father nodded. “He knew I would do anything to protect you.”

“So you went there to try to reason with him?”

Father shook his head. “No, I actually went there to end this! I armed myself with the gun Catherine gave me a while back ...”

Vincent looked at him with alarm. “You could never take a life, Father!”

“I was so angry with him,I thought I could!”

“What happened?”

“John was there, of course, waiting for me. He told me he thought it was time you learned the truth ...” Father grimaced and waved his hand dismissively. “Or rather his version of the truth. I aimed the weapon at him ... I wanted to end this ... for all of us ... but ... I couldn’t do it! I came closer to John and sat down and listened to his madness. He showed me the locket that had ...”

“Anna’s picture ... I saw it.”

“He told me that you needed to know what really happened back then. I told him that you would never listen to him,and he laughed and said no ... but he knew that you would listen to me. I told him he was crazy if he thought I was going to repeat his stories. He said he didn’t need me to do it ... and then he showed me the mask he’d made.” Vincent remained silent, but he was slowly starting to get angry. “John had thought of everything.He knew he needed to change clothes with me so ...” Father stopped and lowered his head, not wanting to point out one of Vincent’s differences.

Vincent’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “He was trying to mask his scent!”

“Yes. He hit me over the head with something and I blacked out. I barely remember the day passing into night, then back into day. I was only starting to recover full consciousness when Catherine found me.”

“So his whole plan was based on wanting to tell me the story of my birth?”

“His version anyway. You see, Vincent ... Anna, his wife, had lost a baby ...”

“Catherine told me Father.”

“I think that was when John truly started to slip into madness. It wasn’t long after Anna’s death that he was exiled.”

“And he was trying to drag me into that madness as well.”

“John never intended to publish those pictures of you. He needed you to live in a constant state of fear and unrest. He needed you to be in a weakened condition.”

“He succeeded.”

“He didn’t succeed.”

Vincent looked at him. “But he did, Father. He drove me to into such a rage that I actually killed you!”

“No, Vincent! I’m here and I love you too much and would never have said the things to you that he said. You killed someone who was relentlessly tormenting you!”

“Father ...” Vincent gasped as he tried to explain. “I felt this rage boil up in me ... It felt like my blood was on fire! I couldn’t stop myself ,and the second it happened I realized what I’d done! I was shocked that I had lost control and even more shocked when Paracelsus removed his mask. My thoughts just stopped, Father.”

He began to cry, and Father placed his hand over Vincent’s arm. “It’s a coping mechanism, Vincent. The mind shuts down when it cannot process anymore.” Vincent nodded, and Father ached for the pain he was in. “Catherine and you both got a good night’s rest. Perhaps now we can all begin to heal.”

“I need to go for a walk, Father.”

Vincent went to stand and his foot kicked something under the desk. He bent over and picked it up, thenthrew it, as if he’d been burned, on the desk.

Father looked in horror at the mask of his likeness. “I told them to ...”

He stopped suddenly, and Vincent shook his head. “Clean up my mess ...”

Father looked like he was going to protest when Vincent rolled his eyes in disgust. “Did you think I didn’t know that the men Below are called upon to clean up the carnage I leave behind when I…?”

“Not ... carnage!”

“Have you seen the bodies of my victims, Father? The shredded remains of a human being! Have you?! What else would you call it but carnage?”

Kipper walked in the door with a tray. “I have your breakfast, Vincent.”

Vincent sighed and patted Kipper’s head. “Thank you, Kipper, but I’m not hungry.”

“But Father said ...”

“Kipper,” Father interrupted. “I thought Vincent would be able to eat. Leave it here, and perhaps he’ll try some of it later.”

Kipper frowned as he left the room. Father motioned to a chair. “Vincent, please ... try to eat something!”

Vincent took off the lid and looked down at the steak and omelet and toast William had sent. He took a bite of his omelet, and then ate a piece of toast. He was hungry enough that it stopped tasting like shoe leather, and he ate the rest of the omelet and the other piece of toast.

He cut into the steak, and it wasn’t cooked as much as he like. The blood ran onto his plate and he swallowed down his revulsion. He took a piece of steak and hesitated slightly before he put it into his mouth. His stomach protested as he tasted the blood on his tongue, and memories of Paracelsus assaulted him. He dropped his knife and stood as he spit the food into his napkin.

Father had noticed his son’s color change and he realized what had happened.  Vincent stood before him pale and wavering slightly. “Perhaps you should go for that walk now.”

Vincent nodded. “Yes.”

* * *

Vincent walked alone for miles and miles through the tunnels. He was making his way back when the smell of blood drifted through the air. He followed it to an entrance near a subway tunnel.

On the floor, he saw the body of a young woman. She had clearly been pregnant, and Vincent looked closer and saw that her stomach had been cut open and the baby viciously torn from her. It must have happened sometime thenightbefore, because she was already stiff and the blood was soaked into the dirt around her.

Images of what Paracelsus had said about him ripping his way out of his mother’s body assaulted Vincent ,and he fell back against the tunnel wall. He gasped and held his head as the words played over and over in his mind.

Vincent’s blood began to boil as he fought to control his mind. He roared and took off running trying desperately to escape the images trapped in his mind.

He instinctively headed Below where he had always been safe.