Vincent had been running from the images in his mind as he ran lower and lower into the bowels of the earth. He rounded a corner and suddenly stopped as he looked at the image of himself standing in front of him. The beast was snarling with rage and Vincent backed up fearfully.

He turned and ran back in the opposite direction but he could feel the hot breath of the beast on the back of his neck. He ran up an incline and felt his legs being pulled out from under him. He flipped onto his back while he slid back down the gravel hill.

Fearfully, he looked out and saw the beast standing and waiting for him. Vincent scrambled backwards and fought to stop his downward slide. Finally, he got to his feet within inches of the beast buthe saw him raise his arm up, ready to deliver a lethal blow.Vincent flinched and threw his hands above his head to protect his face.

He woke when his hands hit the stone wall behind him. He sat up,panting heavily and searching frantically around his environment. He frowned as he realized he was at the tomb of Anna. He didn’t see a resting place next to her for Paracelsus, and Vincent wondered briefly where they had buried him. 

He got up and made the long walk home.

He walked into his chamber and sat on the edge of the bed. His hands were shaking as he got himself a change of clothes and headed to the bathing chamber. He undressed and climbed down into the warm water. He scrubbed his hair and body clean then relaxed against the smooth wall.

He felt himself drifting off to sleep but a noise across the room had him scanning the rock wall. On a shelf, about twenty feet up in the air, the beast stared down and snarled at him.

Vincent sat up and watched as it dove neatly into the pool. It started to swim at him and Vincent scrambled to get up but it was upon him in seconds and had a hold on his legs. Vincent fought to get free but it had incredible strength and pulled him under the water. He felt the beast’s hands pulling him down deeper and deeper into the depths of the water.

Vincent woke and was gasping for breath. He was still sitting on the smooth shelf and was perfectly safe. Nervously, he scanned the room then got out and went to get dressed.

He headed into the Dining Chamber and sat down quietly next to Father. Father smiled a greeting and then turned back to Mary, who was still speaking.

“The children know so little about this world. I thought we could take the ones over the age of twelve and go on a hike somewhere, maybe make it an overnight experience. What do you think, Father?”

“I think...with some careful planning,Mary,that it is a wonderful idea. The children learn so much about the world Above and about things that some of them may never see. Meet with Mouse and Vincent, and maybe the three of you can come up with a safe, educational trip.”

Mary turned to Vincent. “Good morning, Vincent. Do you have any ideas?”


“For the trip.”

“The trip?”

Father chuckled. “I think someone was lost in thought and missed the conversation.”

Vincent shook his head. “No...I’ll...think about it...”

“Thank you, dear.” Mary smiled and looked down as she mentally made lists in her mind of all the things they would need.

Father turned to Vincent and watched as his son toyed with a bagel on his plate. “You’re not hungry?”

Vincent stared down at his plate and shook his head as he put cream cheese on his bagel. “I’m just...distracted...I guess.”

Father frowned at his son. “What do you have to do today?”

“Teach. The children and I are reading Jane Eyre then I have some history lessons to go over. After lunch, Mouse is taking me to an area where he thinks we will be able to put a new chamber. Cullen has already seen it and he thinks it will work for us, as well.”

Father smiled. “That’s good news. We can always use the room.”

“Yes.” Vincent was eating but he barely tasted any of it as he grabbed for a croissant and his bowl of fruit.

He headed to his chamber where the children were already gathered. Samantha ran up and handed him the book then settled back down in a chair she had placed next to the one he usually sat in.

He smiled indulgently at her. He suspected she had a crush on him but he treated her with the utmost respect. “Thank you, Samantha.”

The room quieted as Vincent began to read. He read chapter by chapter and after each answered any questions the children had. He felt lightheaded as he was finishing up a chapter, and when he looked up he was so startled he jumped back in his chair.

The children laughed and turned to see Catherine standing in the doorway.

“Hi, Catherine,” chorused the children as Catherine walked into the room.

“Hi, everyone,” she said,smiling as she looked over the group then up at Vincent. “I didn’t mean to disturb your class.”

Eric shrugged. “We were done anyway, weren’t we, Vincent?”

Vincent’s heart was racing as he nodded. “Yes.”

Kipper stepped forward. “Can we take a break before history?”

Vincent looked at Catherine. “You wish to speak to me?”

Catherine nodded. “It won’t take long...”

Vincent calculated the time it would take to walk Catherine out and come back then he addressed the children. “I think William is baking this morning. He should have some warm cookies that are cooling by now.” The children scrambled to leave as Vincent called out, “Be back in thirty minutes.”

Samantha came back and shot Vincent a disapproving look before she turned to Catherine. “Catherine, would you like to join us for a snack?” she invited.

Vincent lowered his head at the reprimand as Catherine giggled. “No, thank you, Samantha.”

Samantha ran from the room. Vincent looked up and smiled. “She’ll bring me back cookies if you want to wait.”

Catherine grinned and took his hands in hers. “She likes you Should I be worried?”

Vincent knew she was teasing him but he cupped her cheek with his hand and caressed it with his thumb. “You will never have to worry about that. There is no place for anyone in my heart but you.”

After his admission, he lowered his head shyly. Catherine tugged on his hands. “Walk with me?”

They started walking the tunnels towards the park.

“What is it you wished to see me about, Catherine?”

“I just found out there’s a concert in the park tomorrow night. It’s a benefit for a charity but it wasn’t well advertised. I was going to go early and make a donation,then...I hoped we could listen to it together.”

Vincent stopped as he thought of his schedule. “Tomorrow night I have....”

Catherine slipped her hand in his and grabbed his upper arm. “I know, sentry duty. I was hoping….”

They began to walk again. “…That I would have time to switch my nights with someone?”

Catherine smiled and nodded. She loved that they were always on the same wave-length. 

Vincent knew how she felt, and he dropped her hand and put his arm around her shoulders as they continued to walk. “Mark has sentry duty tonight. I’m sure he’ll switch with me.”

Catherine stopped and turned then put her arms around his waist. “Good! I was hoping if I gave you enough time, you could arrange it.”

Vincent’s arms came around her automatically and he cocked his head to the side. “Catherine...if we keep stopping like this, I will not make it back in time for class.”

She leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Yes, you will! I know my way out. Go and have a snack with the kids.”

“I’d rather walk with you.”

Catherine laid her hand against his chest over his heart. “You’d rather walk with me than have a nice warm gooey chocolate chip cookie?”

Vincent groaned and took her hand. “Yes!”

Catherine threw her arms around his neck. “Liar!”

They hugged, and she let go and started walking backwards. “Have one for me.”

“I will.”

Vincent watched her walk around the next bend before he headed to the dining chamber for a snack.


Later that night, Vincent was sitting at sentry duty. He kept hearing noises in the tunnel way but when he went to investigate there was never anyone there.

Cautiously, he looked around for intruders and was startled again to see himself standing at the end of the hall. When he blinked, the image was gone.

At midnight, Mouse came to relieve him. “My turn, Vincent.”


“Quiet tonight?”

Vincent thought he saw a shadow move down the tunnel way but when he looked closely there was nothing there. “I...don’t know, Mouse. I...keep seeing things but when I go to look...there’s nothing there.”

“Tired, maybe. Father said makes mind play tricks.”

Vincent sighed. “You could be right.I am tired.” He grabbed Mouse’s shoulder. “Either careful.”

Vincent walked back to his chamber and got ready for bed. He was asleep instantly but in a short period of time he found himself running through the tunnel way. He ran out into the park and saw Catherine in the distance. As he ran towards her, he knocked into a couple that was walking through the park. The man got up off the ground but only saw Vincent’s back as he continued to run.Suddenly, Vincent was surrounded by mounted police and they were circling Catherine. He couldn’t get to her, and they started shooting at him. Riddled with bullets, he fell to the ground as he died.

Hours later, Vincent heard birds chirping as he slowly woke up. The light was bright in his eyes and he blinked in confusion. He saw the blue in the sky and sat up instantly. He gasped as he noticed it was early morning and he was in the park.He hid behind a tree as a maintenance worker came near him to pick up trash. He left quickly,and Vincent ran for the bushes to hide. He panted as he looked around and tried to get his bearings. Everything looked so different in the bright sun. He made his way down the line of bushes and stopped as he saw a little girl on a picnic with her mother, who was rocking a baby in a stroller. He walked passed but the little girl had caught a glimpse of him. Luckily, she didn’t say anything to her mother.

Vincent could see the culvert ahead when he heard the hoofbeats and heavy breathing of an approaching horse. His heart started racing as memories of his dream flooded through him. He hid behind a tree as the mounted policeman cantered past him. Vincent looked around and saw no one else,so he ran at full speed into the culvert. He was so upset, he continued to run through the tunnels.

Mary bumped into him and started asking about a field trip with the children to the Crystal Cavern. Vincent couldn’t answer her and he walked past her to enter the library.

Father smiled. “Good morning, Vincent!”

Mary was asking questions but Father could see how distraught Vincent was.

“What is it?”

“Father!” Vincent panted heavily.

Father waved Mary out of the room and got up from his chair. “What’s happened? Are you ill?”

“I don’t know!”

“Vincent, come over here and sit down.” Vincent did as he was told. “Can I get you anything...a cup of tea?”

Vincent waved his hand in refusal. “Something is me....”

“Try to tell me.”

Vincent was still panting heavily in distress. “I went to sleep last night and when I awakened this morning, I was in the park!”

“It was a dream?”

“No!” Vincent shot to his feet and began to pace. “No! I woke up in the park!”

“Last night?!”

“Just now!In the daylight!”

The horror of what could have happened was not lost on Father. “And you didn’t know you’d left the tunnels?”

“No.I...had a dream....”

“Tell me!”

“I was great speed...without Catherine.”

“Are you certain that was a dream?”

Vincent shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know where the dream began. I don’t know what happened!”

“Where did the dream end? Do you know that?”

“Death.My death.” Vincent sat and covered his face with his hands.

“And then you woke up...hmmm?”

“In the park!” Vincent began to pace again. “Father, I’m losing my hold! I can feel it!”

“Vincent, tell me as best you can!”

“My hold...on myself!”

Father swallowed hard as he remembered back to the one other time in Vincent’s life that this had happened. “Was it anything like...what happened before? When you were young? Was it anything like that?”

Vincent remembered the horrible time of his youth and gasped. “Like the beginning of it...only stronger. Something terrible...something terrible is burning its way through me!”

“Not terrible! There’s nothing terrible within you!”

“That’s not true! We both know for me that’s not true!”

“It is true, especially for you! Because your struggle is greater....”

“And if I lose that struggle?!”

“Vincent! You must watch it carefully! Now more than ever before! Be aware of everything, your physical and emotional state. And you must let me stand by you, whatever may happen!”

He had approached him but Vincent started to pace again. “I remember those nights...those dark nights! I remember the dreams….” He was crying as Father approached him. “You never left my side!”


Vincent reached for Father’s hands. “We can’t let that happen again!”

“It won’t!”

“It would kill us both!”

Father squeezed Vincent’s hands. “Do you remember how we came through those dark nights?”

“You read to me.”

“Anything and everything. The Iliad...the Odyssey...all of Shakespeare! You came out of it a scholar.”

Vincent was crying and panting heavily, and Father was desperate as he tried to help him. “I think you better rest now.”

Vincent nodded but as he went to walk away, he stopped himself and threw himself into Father’s arms for support. Father held him as tightly as he could. He ached for the pain his son was going through. “We’ll get through this, Vincent. I promise.”

“I don’t think I...can go through it again, Father.”

“You must, Vincent. You have so many people who love you.”

Vincent started to cry. “In time...they’ll forget me.”

Father’s mind raced as he realized Vincent was giving up. “Will Catherine? That woman loves you with all her heart. When this has passed, you two can start building a life together! The life we always dreamed you would have.”

Vincent gasped and pulled away as he wiped his tears. “Must be strong....”

“Yes, Vincent. Stay strong...get better...for Catherine. Now, please,try to get some rest.”

Vincent nodded and headed to his chamber.

Father sat with his head in his hands and cried. His heart ached for the trials Vincentcontinually had to endure. He willed himself to stay strong for Vincent’s sake. A short time later, he went to check on him and, with a worried frown, turned and walked back to the library.


Vincent slept most of the night. He got up and wrote in his journal then walked through the tunnels. He was restless but he felt a little better. He started walking through the Chamber of the Winds and suddenly stopped.Paracelsus’ voice rang out, and he looked around fearfully. Finally, from across the bridge he saw the beast. He had a look of pure evil, and anger and hatred dripped from him. Vincent slowly backed away but the beast came at him. It knocked him to the floor and Vincent rolled around,trying desperately to get free. He slammed into the wall and the beast disappeared.

Vincent was panting frantically as he got up and dusted off his clothes. He scanned the walls fearfully but could no longer see the beast. With a sigh, he headed back to his chamber.

He sat down on the bed and willed his heartbeat to return to normal. He slowly slipped off his boots and lay back against the pillows. He sighed and rolled over and started to drift to sleep when he heard a growl coming from next to his clothing bureau.

He looked over and saw the beast. Vincent gasped and stood up but the second he looked away, the beast disappeared. Vincent fell to his knees and clutched his head. He sat in a chair and stared ahead until the rest of the community started to wake.

Vincent followed Mouse to the place where he had told them he thought a new chamber could go. Vincent carefully checked the surrounding walls and nodded his approval. “It looks like a good possibility, Mouse.”

“Cullen said so, too. Show you first...too busy.”

Vincent felt bad that he had pushed Mouse away the other day, and he rushed to make amends. “I’m sorry, Mouse. I haven’t been feeling well lately. I have an idea though. Did you bring any tools with you?”

“Yes!” Mouse pointed to a set he had left against the far wall.

Vincent walked over and grabbed a hammer and chisel. “Let’s try to make some holes and see what we’re in for with these walls. I’ll start here. Why don’t you go around the corner?”

Mouse got excited. “Okay, good....okay fine!”

Vincent started to hammer a spike into the wall. He was in a rhythm, swinging his hammer, when the beast came around the corner. Vincent smashed his hand with the hammer and he roared in pain.

Mouse came around the corner and looked at him worriedly. “Okay?”

Vincent was frantically looking down the tunnel way while he held his throbbing hand. “I...slipped and...hit my hand.”

“Put in Mirror Pool?”

“That’s a good idea, Mouse. The cold will definitely help with the swelling.”

Vincent walked to the pool and settled down on the banks. He reached in with his hand, which was already starting to swell. He hissed in pain as the cold water surrounded his aching hand.He looked down and saw the beast under the water, grabbing for the hand he had soaking in it. Vincent pulled his hand back quickly and scrambled from the edge. He was panting as he looked over the edge but the only thing he saw was his reflection. He stood there holding his hand when Mouse walked in.


Vincent was panting heavily and unable to speak. He finally took a deep breath when Mouse walked over to the side of the pool and sat down.

“Father said soak...make swelling go away.”

Vincent felt silly as he sat down next to Mouse. He let his hand float in the cold water while he kept a watchful eye out for the beast. Mouse entertained him with stories about Arthur.

Vincent felt like his hand was getting better. “Mouse, I need to leave. I have to get ready.”

Mouse grinned shyly. “See Catherine.”


“Say hi for Mouse.”

Vincent walked to his chamber. He had taken off his shirt and was walking to his clothes bureau. The latch stuck and he pulled it more forcefully. The door gave as the beast jumped out in front of him.The anger and hatred were so evident in its face, Vincent backed away again. The beast smiled wickedly and slipped back into the closet.

In his head, Vincent knew he was hallucinating but his heart told him that inside the closet was a beast ready to attack him.Vincent shook his head, trying to dispel the images as he slowly opened the door. When nothing unusual came out, he took a deep breath and grabbed a change of clothes. He was sweating profusely from all the strain, and his hands shook as he changed his clothing. Because his hands were shaking so badly, he ended up ripping a button off; in anger, he tore at his shirt.Late already, he couldn’t take the time to change clothes again. So he tucked the shirt into his pants and headed to meet Catherine in their favorite spot.

Catherine was already there when he showed up. She rushed to greet him and they sat down together on the stacks of pillows. Catherine looked at him curiously and asked if he was all right, and he assured her he was fine. She put her head back and became lost in the music.

Vincent, on the other hand, was fighting with distorted images racing through his mind. He turned slightly from Catherine to hide his true feelings but when she looked up again she knew something was wrong.

The images assaulting him became too much, and Vincent was quickly losing control.  Catherine noticed, and when she asked again, Vincent shot to his feet and began to pace. He could feel something burning its way through him, fighting to get out. He roared his anger to the sky then walked away from Catherine.


Vincent walked with unbelievable speed and was soon far ahead of Catherine, who was quietly following him.Vincent went to his chamber and started pacing. He grabbed an empty duffle bag and paced the room while he talked to himself.

“I must be strong...I must not let them see...or frighten them. And I must prepare....carefully prepare...for whatever may happen.”

Catherine silently walked in and Vincent jumped in fear until he saw it was her. He gasped as he tried to catch his breath.

Catherine was worried; she had never seen him like this, and she had heard him talking while he tossed items into his bag. She came forward and wanted to help. “Tell me what I can do.”

“It will pass.”

“What is it you’re feeling?”

“Words…” Vincent gasped. “The words would only frighten you.”

“I’m already frightened!”

Vincent decided to be honest and looked at her with tears in his eyes. “So am I!”

“What happened? What is it? You...lost yourself?”

Vincent grasped at the simplicity of it. “Yes. I...lost myself.”

“You’ve been through an ordeal! What Paracelsus did to you....”

“He’s dead! I should sleep...peacefully!” Vincent shouted as he interrupted. He put his hand to his pounding heart as he gasped for breath.

“You’ve been in a struggle for your life! There are wounds in deep places. Let me help you.” Catherine walked over and slid under his arm.

“You must not worry, Catherine. The worst is behind us.”

Vincent was still struggling to breathe as Catherine slowly ran her hand over his chest. She could feel his heart beating intensely under her hand. “Oh, Vincent, I am worried. You need to rest.”

“Can’t...” he gasped.

“Why? What’s stopping you from sleeping?”

Vincent wanted to confide in her that the part of him that was a vicious beast came to him when he dreamed. Instead, he shook his head and shrugged.

Catherine frowned and took his hands in hers and pulled him towards the bed. “Vincent, are you having nightmares?”

“Yes,” he nodded, “horrible ones. And it’s not just at night. I...wake in a cold sweat and I can’t get back to sleep, or sometime during the day I….”

“Come on, lie back.I’ll watch over you.”

Vincent lay back, and Catherine grabbed a book from the nightstand and started to read. Her words had the desired effect, and Vincent was sound asleep in a short period of time.

Catherine looked at him and saw the dark circles and lines of fatigue on his face. She got up and slipped from his chamber and headed to see Father.She walked in and stood in front of him. “What is happening to him?”

“He’s been under a tremendous strain these past few weeks. It’s taken a toll.”

“No, Father, it’s more than that! Something is very wrong!”

Father sighed and decided she deserved nothing but the truth. “Yes, it is. I’m not sure that any of us can begin to understand How can we know what he must endure...what inner forces he has to battle in order to be who he is to us? The Vincent we know is a fragile balance that requires every fiber of his being to maintain itself. That he can do it at all is a miracle! And now that balance has been lost.”

“I want to help!”

Father smiled. “I know that.”

Catherine hated to say it but she wondered if she was part of the problem. She wondered if their relationship was too much of a strain for him to maintain right now. “Do you think it would be better if I stayed away?”

“Catherine...dear must know by now that you are part of the miracle. You saw him and all that he is, and you gave gave him a dream. For that I shall be ever grateful!”

Catherine was touched by his generosity. “Thank you, Father.” She looked away as her mind filled with possible solutions. “Do you think there is a possibility that what he’s going through might be treated?”

“I’m not sure this falls in the domain of medicine.”

“Maybe there is a medication of some kind, a sedative even….”

“His biochemistry is very different. There was a time in his adolescence when something like this did occur. We tried sedatives and other treatments. It only seemed to aggravate his condition. In the end we were forced to...restrain him. It was the darkest time of his life...and mine. He would fall into a delirium sometimes that would go on for days!”

“What happened?”

“He came a breath away from dying. All his vital signs stopped, and simply passed.”

“What can we do now?”

Father looked away and searched for an answer. “I...I’m not sure. Monitor everything he does, maybe. Establish a pattern and fight it before the madness comes upon him.”

“Is that what you did before?”

“I tried. I never left his side. I read to him from every book in the library.”

“And that helped to calm him?”

Father frowned as he turned his face from hers. “Sometimes.”

Catherine knew he was withholding something from her, and her eyes narrowed thoughtfully as she sighed aloud. “And other times?”

Father lowered his head in defeat. “Other times...he would be so lost to himself I was...thankful for the restraints we put on him.”

“That must have been horrible for him...and you!”

“When he was himself, he would cry and plead with me to make it stop! I tried to explain that I couldn’t but he would get angry and demand I release him. Of course, for his own safety I couldn’t do that but he rubbed his wrists against the restrains for so long they were a bloody mess. Eventually, he broke free with one arm. We had to restrain his whole body then. If we had to do that now....”

Father stopped and couldn’t go on, and Catherine reached over and touched his arm. “What…what do you think would happen?”

Father expelled a long breath. “Vincent was much younger, and back then we were able to use leather straps. Now? I fear we could only use steel chains, and even then…”

Catherine closed her eyes to the horror of the thought. “Maybe...maybe we won’t have to. I’ve always been able to get through to him in the past.”

Father shook his head. “Catherine, it’s too dangerous! This is not like before. He’s not coming out of some drug-induced haze, or he becomes when he’s called on to protect us. This is...different!”

Catherine was confident that Vincent would never hurt her, and she shook her head. “I know, in the deepest part of me, that Vincent would never hurt me.”

Father rubbed his hand over his face worriedly. “Catherine, Vincent never would!” He sighed, and looked down at his hands as if he were ashamed. “Have you ever looked at Vincent while he’s...lost? When he doesn’t look at you with fear or confusion, or when you can tell he’s issuing a...warning? Have you ever looked into his eyes and seen only hatred and evil? Have you ever looked into his eyes and seen no recognition there?”

“No,” Catherine said quietly.

“I have, Catherine. I have looked at my son countless times over the years, and there have only been two instances when I knew he was unreachable. The first was when this happened to him when he was young...and the second was when John poisoned him with that drug. He wasn’t restrained then, and I knew the instant he stood in front of me that this time was different. I was fortunate he only injured my arm!”

Catherine had tears in her eyes as she looked at him. “I’ve been lucky enough not to go through that with him but, Father, I want you to know, I’ll be there for you and him. We’ll all go through this together.”

Father smiled weakly, and stood up and held out his arms. Catherine stood immediately, and noticed he had tears in his eyes as she walked into his arms. They cried as they hugged, each trying to give the other the strength they needed to get through this.

Catherine sniffled and stepped back as Father wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “You’re a good woman, Catherine.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“Why don’t you go and try to get some rest? If you’d like, Mary can make up a guest chamber for you.”

“No, I have to get home. I have some phone calls to make first thing in the morning. Will you tell Vincent I said goodnight?”

Father frowned as if he realized for the first time that Vincent wasn’t there. “Where is Vincent?”

“I stayed with him until he fell asleep. He was sleeping peacefully when I left him.”

“Well, then, I will see you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Father,” Catherine said as she left.


Unknown to both of them, Vincent was not sleeping. He was woken by a horrific nightmare. Sweating profusely and panting heavily, he was now tearing his chamber apart looking for a book. With a single-minded determination, he searched every inch until he finally found it and opened it to the page he wanted. He recited the verse over and over. Knowing he needed to share the passage with Catherine, he headed to her apartment to show it to her.

He tapped on her bedroom door and paced the balcony as he called out to her. Confused that she hadn’t come to him, he went to her other door and called out to her again. Frustrated and enraged, he smashed through her door and went inside. He inadvertently knocked a lamp over and, surprised, he stepped back to see how it had happened. He looked up and saw the beast staring back at him from a mirror. He immediately thought to protect Catherine, and he lashed out at the beast. The mirror broke and the beast disappeared.

In his confused state, Vincent looked at the blood on his hands and stumbled across the room. Desperate to find her, and thinking she was in the bathroom, he lost his footing on the step leading to her bedroom and, in a last desperate attempt to stop his fall, he grabbed for the curio cabinet but ended up bringing it down on top of him as he fell to the floor.It crashed and broke, and pieces of glass flew everywhere as he slipped away into unconsciousness.


A little while later, Catherine walked into her apartment, closed the door then turned around,and knew immediately that something was different. She realized her curio cabinet was missing, and her heart sank when she saw that the balcony doors were broken open.She dropped her purse and walked around the couch thenspotted Vincent on the floor, covered with glass. She fell to her knees at his side. “Vincent!” she said as she shook his unconscious form. “Can you hear me?”

Vincent woke and looked up at her then his eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out again.

“Oh, God!” Catherine said frantically as she tried to figure out what to do. She glanced over his body and saw several cuts on his hands but she couldn’t see anything else requiring immediate attention.She got to her feet and flew over to the phone and punched out a familiar number.

“Dr. Alcott’s office. May I help you?”

“This is Catherine Chandler, I need to speak to Dr. Alcott immediately!”

“If you’re in labor or you think you’re in labor, you need to calm down and get yourself to the hospital.”

Catherine sighed in frustration. “Is this his answering service?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Look, I am a personal friend of Peter’s. Please track him down and tell him I need him to come to my home immediately.”

“I’ll see that he gets the message, ma’am.”

“Tell him I left my number on his beeper as well as his home phone.”

“Miss Chandler,I’m not supposed to tell you this but Dr. Alcott is in surgery right now. He’s performing a caesarean section on a high-risk pregnancy. He’s going to be at least a few hours.”

Catherine sighed and looked over at Vincent. “Fine. Tell him to come see me the second he comes out.”

Catherine hung up the phone and stood over Vincent. She reached down and felt his forehead and could feel he had a raging fever. Vincent’s eyes blinked when he felt her cool hand on his forehead.

“Cath...ine,” he gasped.

“I’m here, Vincent. It’s okay, I’m here now.”

Knowing she needed to get him to a better area, she started to grab the big pieces of glass from around him and throw them in a pile further away.

Vincent started to stir and Catherine caressed his cheek. “I’m here, Vincent.”

“Cath...Catherine?” he panted.

Vincent closed his eyes but Catherine gently shook him awake. “Vincent, you’re lying in shattered glass. I need to move you before you get cut. Can you do that for me?”

Vincent panted as he opened his eyes. “Yes.”

Catherine untied his cloak and spread it out around him as best as she could. “Okay, I have the glass covered, I think. Can you get onto the couch?”

Vincent eyed the furniture and shook his head but he managed to crawl a few steps before he passed out again.

Catherine grabbed the blanket off her bed and covered him then sat near his head. She lifted his head onto her lap and caressed his cheeks, offering as much comfort as she could. Vincent began to pant heavily and his head rolled back and forth as he fought the delirium. Catherine continued to croon to him until he fell into a restless asleep.

She slipped quietly to her feet. On the way to her bedroom, she began to strip off the fancy dress she had put on for the concert. Within minutes, she was in sweat pants and an oversized shirt.

She came out to check on Vincent and noticed his face glistened with sweat. She walked to the kitchen and took out a huge bowl and filled it with cold water. She set it down near him and then ran to the bathroom for washcloths. Next, she grabbed throw pillows from the two couches then placed them near his head.

As he started to wake, she settled down next to him and propped his head up on the pillows. She could feel that he was burning up with fever, and started to alternate the cold wash cloths on his forehead. She kept up the constant vigil, trying to break his fever.Eventually, she realized he had fallen asleep again, and she felt his forehead and thought his fever had come down.

She was just about to go for more cold water when Vincent sat up and looked at her as he began to retch. Catherine knew instantly what was happening, and she shoved the bowl under his mouth. Vincent vomited three times before he gasped and fell onto his back.

“Are you okay, Vincent?”

“I vomited?”

Catherine cocked her head curiously. “Yes. It’s okay.”

“I vomited!”Vincent said as he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Catherine took the bowl and emptied the contents into her toilet then carried it to the kitchen. She grabbed the bleach and washed the bowl then added cold water to it again. Frowning, she grabbed the cleaning bucket as well and headed back into the living room.

Vincent was awake, shivering with cold, so she set everything down and ran to her room to grab another blanket. She came back and covered him up then sat next to him.She caressed his face with her hand and then rubbed his shoulders, trying to warm him up. He continued to shiver but he eventually went back to sleep again. She sat with him for the next hour but he didn’t stir again.

An hour or so later, Catherine noticed the sun starting to lighten the sky, and was worried Vincent would try to go home. She quickly drew her blinds then the heavy drapes over the opening where there once was a door. She ran to her bedroom and shut those blinds, as well. She turned and was satisfied that the room was sufficiently dark enough to fool him into thinking it was still night.  

Vincent was slowly starting to stir. He kept pulling the covers up to his chin so she realized he must be cold again. He awoke and grabbed the bucket and vomited three more times before he looked at her. “Bathroom.”

“Of course.”

Vincent crawled slowly to his feet and Catherine helped him walk through her apartment. “Vincent, there’s a new toothbrush in the top drawer on the left, and the toothpaste is behind the mirror.”

Vincent nodded as he walked into her bathroom and shut the door.

Catherine sat on the bed, waiting for him. She heard the toilet flush, and the sound of running water. Then she heard his growl carry loudly through the closed door.

She guessed that he must have seen himself in the mirror, and she ran and pounded on the door. “Vincent! I’m coming in!”She opened the door and he turned to face her.

His eyes were glassy and his face was flushed with fever when he looked back at the mirror.

Catherine frowned and took his hands. “There’s nothing in the mirror.”

“I….”He stopped, and Catherine pulled him gently. “Come on. As long as you’re up, let’s get you into my bed. You’ll be more comfortable.”

“My teeth....”

“Do you want to brush them?”


Catherine opened up the new brush and put toothpaste on it for him. He quickly brushed the offensive taste out of his mouth then spit into the sink. She offered him a glass with water,and he rinsed and spat again.

Catherine reached out the door to get his used bucket. “I’ll clean this. Go lie down on the bed.”

She dumped the contents of the bucket in the toilet then flushed them away. She put the bucket in the bathtub and cleaned it then walked into her bedroom and looked quizzically at the bed. “Vincent?” Worried he had left, she walked frantically into the living room to find him asleep on the floor.

The phone rang and she got it before it could ring a second time. “Hello?!”

“Miss Chandler, Dr. Alcott just got your message, and he asked me to tell you he’s on the way.”

“Thank you,” Catherine said with relief as she hung up the phone.

Twenty minutes later, Peter was at her door, knocking frantically. “Cathy, what is it?”

Catherine grabbed his hand and led him to Vincent.

“Good God! What happened?” Peter asked as he began to perform a quick exam of Vincent.

“I don’t know. I was Below with him earlier. He was agitated and out of sorts. I calmed him down and left him asleep in his chamber. I visited Father for awhile, and when I came home, I found him here. He was passed out on the floor over there.”

Peter was looking at Vincent’s arms. “He has a lot of small cuts all over his hands and lower arms.”

Catherine nodded across the room. “He broke my balcony doors to get in then my mirror on the wall. He must have started to pass out and reached for my curio cabinet for support. It toppled over on him and smashed into pieces.”

Peter frowned and nodded. “Has he been unconscious ever since?”

“No, he woke the first time and I was able to spread his cloak out enough to protect him from the glass. He crawled to where he is right now.”

“Anything else? Has he said anything? Done anything?”

“He had a high fever. I was able to bring it down with cold compresses to his forehead but then he was shivering so badly, I stopped. He’s woken twice, and vomited each time.”


“I said, he vomited.”

“Are you sure?”

Catherine rolled her eyes. “Well, I didn’t go to medical school but I do know what it looks like when someone vomits!”

“Honey, I didn’t mean to sound insulting. It’s just that…” Peter sat back with a loud sigh, “Vincent’s never vomited a day in his life.”

Catherine blinked in shock. “That explains why he was so surprised by it.Peter, he’s been delirious some of the time. He stares off and then tries to fight…I don’t know…whatever it is he thinks he’s seeing. I’ve been able comfort him but Father told me this happened to him once before.”

“Yes, when he was around...fifteen, I guess.”

“Was it as bad as Father said?”

Peter nodded as he frowned. “I can’t lie to you, Cathy. I didn’t think he’d make it through.”

Catherine gasped at the confirmation of what Father had said earlier. “Father said you’ve never been able to find any medicine that Vincent could take to help when he’s sick.”

“He’s right. We’ve tried different things over the years but each time it seems to make him worse. In the end, he’s always been able to fight back on his own.”

“Can’t you do some blood work on him? You always said that a multitude of things show up in a person’s blood.”

Peter shook his head. “Yes, but Vincent’s blood isn’t like ours. I’ve tried to test it myself but I could never do the kind of analysis that he needed.”

“Then send it to a lab!”

“Cathy, I don’t know if that’s such a good….”

“Please, Peter. We have to get some answers!”

Peter nodded, and searched in his bag. Hetied a band around Vincent’s upper arm as he took a blood sample. He warned Catherine it might prompt questions that they needed to be ready to answer. Catherine asked Peter to let Father know Vincent was with her. Peter looked out at the bright morning sky. “It’s too late to get him out of here safely. He’ll have to spend the day here with you. Jacob will want to come here and see him.”

“That’s fine.”

“I’ll come back with him in the morning.” He chuckled. “I forgot it’smorning.We’ll come back later. If you need anything....”

“I’ll call. Is there anything else I can do for him?”

“No, just make him comfortable and try to get some liquids in him - water...tea....”

Catherine nodded and smiled at Peter with tears in her eyes. “Thank you.”

Peter kissed Catherine on the cheek. “Don’t worry,we’ll get him through this,” he said as he headed out.

Vincent was still asleep, so Catherine took the opportunity to try to clean up the mess he had made. She grabbed the kitchen garbage pail and started to quietly pick up the remains of her curio cabinet. She threw all the pieces of glass she could pick up, as well as her broken antiques, in the pail. She walked over to her balcony doors and frowned as she looked at all the broken glass there.The pail was full, and she put it by her front door to take out later. She took the frame of the mirror and propped it against the wall by the front door then did the same for the frame pieces of her curio cabinet.

She grabbed her vacuum cleaner and set it out as she looked at Vincent. He was shivering again, and he suddenly sat up and started roaring at nothing behind her. She realized he was dreaming or hallucinating. His forehead was burning with fever, and she sat with him for another hour and bathed his face with cool compresses before he fell asleep again.


Peter sent Vincent’s blood to the lab then walked Below and tapped a message on the pipes. John came running around the corner and smiled at him. “Peter!”

“Hi, John. Send a message to Jacob that Vincent is at Catherine’s apartment. Tell him I’m on my way to explain.”

John tapped the brief message then escorted Peter to the point where he was familiar and could make it on his own.

Father was pacing when Peter walked into the library. He knew the news Peter was bringing wasn’t going to be good. “Tell me!” he said anxiously.

Peter nodded as he sat down. “I was in surgery last night when Catherine called. I didn’t get the message until this morning. I rushed over to her apartment.”

“Dear God, what’s happened to him?”

“Jacob, calm down. He hasn’t been shot or anything. He’s sick.”

Father swallowed hard. “How sick?”

“Feverish, delirious sometimes...he’s been vomiting.”


“I didn’t believe it either but he’s not acting like himself by any means.”

Father lowered his head into his hands and gasped. “Was before, Peter?”

Peter blew out a long breath. “You were his primary physician, Jacob. I didn’t get to see him that much last time. But...yes, he has similar symptoms as before.”

“How’s Catherine coping with him alone?”

Peter shrugged. “They seemed fine. Vincent has been responding to her,and it seems like he’s resting some.”

“It’s the middle of the day, Peter. How can we get him out of there without being seen?”

“Jacob, don’t be silly. We can’t.”

“Peter, if he...loses himself...he’ll destroy her apartment.”

Peter smiled weakly and shook his head. “It’s too late for that, Jacob. Look, let’s go to Catherine’s together....”

“When?!” Father asked eagerly.

“As soon as you can get ready.”

Father changed clothes in record time, and he and Peter went up into Central Park and hailed a cab. They were at Catherine’s apartment within minutes.


Catherine had been sitting with Vincent since Peter left earlier. She had been leaning her head against the back of the couch and was in a light sleep when she heard a tap on her door.Frowning, she scrambled to her feet and walked to the door. “Yes?”

“Cathy, it’s Peter.”

Catherine opened the door and the two men slipped quietly inside while she locked it again.Father walked ahead of her and found Vincent sleeping on the floor behind the couch. With a tender touch, he reached out and felt Vincent’s forehead. Satisfied, he looked at Catherine. “How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

Father caressed her cheek. “You look exhausted.”

Catherine shrugged her shoulders indifferently. “I’ve...been sleeping when he does. Would you like to sit?” She motioned towards her couch, and Father looked at the floor by Vincent. Catherine knew he thought to sit down near Vincent and shook her head. “There’s glass over there.”

“Glass?” Father frowned; he remembered Peter mentioned Vincent breaking some things.

“I had a glass curio cabinet there. It must have fallen on top of him and broken.”

Father looked around the room to see if there was any other damage. He saw a broken frame by the front door and nodded towards it. “He broke a picture, as well?”

“It was a mirror.”

Peter noticed her drapes blowing in the breeze and walked to her balcony doors and saw that the doors were missing. “Cathy! He did this?”

“ he got impatient waiting for me.”

Father got up and walked to Peter. “He took the whole framework out!”

“Sshhh!!!” Catherine looked over at Vincent with concern, and was relieved he was still sleeping. “It’s not a big deal. When he’s better, I’ll have a crew come fix it.”

Peter looked at her. “Do you have an old sheet and duct tape?”

Catherine nodded. “I have a staple gun, too.”

“Even better. Bring them to me.”

Catherine ran to get the items and was back within a few minutes. Father and Peter stapled up the sheet and let the blinds and drapes fall back into place.

Vincent moaned and Father walked over to him. “He’s burning up.”

“Again?!” Catherine asked as she went to his side.

Peter walked over and stood next to Father while Catherine grabbed the bowl to refill it with cold water. She sat by Vincent’s side and placed the cool cloth on his forehead. He opened his glassy eyes and looked at her. “Vincent, I’m here. Someone else is here to see you.”

Vincent looked past Catherine and sat up suddenly. He pushed her behind him as he growled menacingly at Father and Peter. He tried to get to his knees but Catherine had recovered quickly and grabbed his shoulders. “No, Vincent! No!”

Vincent looked at her and fell back against the pillows. Father and Peter watched from a distance as she continually alternated the two cloths. Her whispered words of comfort carried over to both of the men.

“She’s doing a good job with him, Jacob.”

“No, Peter,” Father whispered with tears in his eyes, “she’s doing an amazing job with him.”

Vincent’s temperature slowly lowered, and Catherine cradled his head to help him lift up to take a drink of water.

He looked over at Father with clear blue eyes. “Father?”

“Hello, son,” Father said as he and Peter walked closer.

Vincent looked up at both of them. “Bathroom.”

The two men got on either side of Vincent and helped him get across the room. Catherine took the opportunity to quickly vacuum up the broken glass.Vincent was still in the bathroom when she was finished. She walked to the bathroom door and called out,“Try to get him to lie on the bed.”

Vincent came out, and Father and Peter went to either side of him again. They tried to steer him towards the bed but Vincent dropped his arms and walked behind the couch and lay on the floor there.Catherine sighed as she covered him up and gently caressed his cheek until she heard his soft snores.

She got up and went to sit on the couch by Peter and Father. Father took her hands in his. “Catherine, I can’t thank you enough.”

“You don’t have to thank me at all, Father. Whether this happened Below or Above, I would want to be with him.”

Father nodded. “Hopefully he’ll be strong enough to come Below tonight.”

Peter leaned forward. “Have your neighbors said anything?”

Catherine shook her head. “The Thompsons are in the Hamptons for a month, and the other apartment is owned by a guy who spends most of his time on an island in the Caribbean. He only comes in once in a while to see plays. Sharon on the other end is too far away to hear anything.”

“Good,” Peter said.

Catherine leaned forward in her seat. “Did Vincent ever mention what he sees...or thinks he sees…when he....”

Father shook his head slowly. “He’s only told me that the dreams he has are bad, that he couldn’t even put into words how horrific they are.”

Peter had looked away, and Catherine cocked her head at him quizzically. “Peter, you know, don’t you?”

Peter sighed and nodded.

“He told you?” Father asked.

Peter shook his head and sighed. “A few months after this happened to him as a boy, Vincent came to me. He asked if I could help explain these dreams. He was worried that they were a...premonition of what was to come.”

Catherine frowned. “What did he dream about, Peter?”

“Death,” Peter whispered. “Sometimes they were about his death - being hunted down until he was killed.” Catherine sighed and closed her eyes against the image as Peter continued. “ was the deaths of those around him, those closest to him.”

Father tried to gain more knowledge. “Deaths that...he....”

Peter knew that Father was asking if Vincent dreamed about killing his tunnel family. “Sometimes. More often than not they were other people – intruders, orpowerful forces that he was unable to battle against. I think it must have to do with his instinct to protect the ones he loves, and the battle that ensueswithin him when he thinks he can’t do that.”

Catherine had tears in her eyes as she looked at both of them. “This is my fault! This is what happened because I found myself in danger all those times and he had to come to me!”

Father leaned forward and pinned her with a level gaze. “It is not your fault! He didn’t even know you last time this happened!” He sighed and shook his head. “I think it just kind of...happened.”

Peter stood suddenly. “Well, we can sit here all night, or we can get some sleep and be ready to do battle with whatever happens.”

“I want to stay,” Father said to both of them as he stood.

Peter shook his head and pulled them both out of Vincent’s earshot. “Jacob, we both know that this is very reminiscent of last time.”


“I think...I think you should head Below and get a place ready for him. In case....”

Father’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “Yes, I...know you’re right. We should prepare.”

Catherine stepped closer to him. “I’ll be fine while alone with him, Father. We’ll come down later tonight.”

Father took her hand. “Is there anything you need that we can get for you? Food or….”

Catherine shook her head. “No. Oddly enough, I shopped over the weekend. I think I have everything I need. If not, I’ll call someone.”

Peter kissed her cheek. “I’ll have a few of the children stay at my house. They can watch TV or whatever. If you need me or Jacob, call my house and the kids can run down and tap out a message on the pipes.”

Father nodded. “Good idea, Peter. The children will be happy to help.”

Catherine tried to lighten the mood. “The children will be happy to watch TV.”

Father checked on Vincent one last time then headed out with Peter.

Catherine locked the door behind them then sat down next to Vincent. She lay her head on a pillow facing him and heard him whispering words. She frowned when she realized he had been doing the same thing last night. She leaned in and tried to make sense of the words.

“’Though they go mad, they shall be sane....though they sink through the sea, they shall rise again...though lovers be shall not, and death shall have no dominion.’”

“Vincent, I’m here.”

His ramblings stopped, and Catherine leaned against him and closed her eyes. She slept for four hours, until she woke and wondered why she was soaking wet. She realized Vincent was burning up with fever again, and she immediately started to bathe his brow with cold compresses.

Catherine called Peter’s house.


“Hi! It’s Catherine. Who’s this?”


“Hi, Kipper. Can you send a message to Father that I don’t think Vincent and I will be down tonight?”

“I’ll tell him myself. It’s getting late, and its Brooke’s turn to sit here then Amber’s turn after that.”

“Thank you, Kipper.”

“Tell Vincent I hope he gets better!”

“I will. Bye.”

“Bye, Catherine.”

Nighttime proved to be Vincent’s worse time. He woke often, and roared at nothing;his hallucinationsseemed to be getting worse. Each time, Catherine would have to settle him down and try to lower what seemed to be an ever-present fever. This continued into the early morning hours and, exhausted, the two finally fell asleep.

Catherine got up and called work to tell Joe she wouldn’t be in.Vincent was awake as he watched her, with eyes that were clear and focused. Suddenly, something moved in the corner of his eye, and he looked into her bedroom and saw a figure making its way towards them. Vincent was instantly alert, and he saw the beast come through Catherine’s bedroom doors and stare at her intently.

Ready in an instant to protect her, Vincent sprang to his feet and roared into her bedroom. He smashed through the doors and landed face down. He snarled warnings to the room and then slowly looked around at the familiar walls.

Catherine had just set down the receiver when Vincent crashed through the doors. She ran to his side and put her arms on his shoulders. “You’re okay, Vincent. We’re safe here!”

Vincent looked at her and cried out. “Make it leave, Catherine!”

“Oh, Vincent, I’m trying.”

He started to crawl towards his pillows, and Catherine grabbed his arm. “No, get up on the bed!”

“No, I....”

“Please, Vincent!” Catherine said forcefully.

He climbed up on the bed and sighed as he lay down on the pillow. Catherine covered him up and caressed his cheek until he fell asleep.

She went to her bedroom doors and quietly removed the broken panels from the floor. She looked at the framework and saw she only had to remove a few screws and the rest of the frame would come down. She went to her kitchen and grabbed a screwdriver, and in no time had the doors taken down and placed near her front door.

She walked into her bedroom and frowned as she looked at the bed. It took only a second to talk herself into lying next to him to try and get some sleep.

Vincent did seem to sleep better lying on the bed. He slept deeper and woke less often. He was still plagued by nightmares but they seemed to be less intense. He did well during the day but then nighttime fell and it started all over again.

Catherine had it down to a science, and she knew that as soon as she lowered his fever, he would go back to sleep. She started to sleep when he slept, and wake when he was awake. He continued to repeat lines from some passage over and over, and Catherine frowned at his fixation on death.

The next day was a repeat of the one before, and Catherine continued her constant vigil. She never left his side, and read to him constantly, or talked to him and told him stories about her childhood. She even made up stories about their future together. She came up with names for their children, and told him about birthday parties they would throw, and Christmas morning in his chamber.

It got her through the long day and into the next.

Catherine lay next to him in the early morning hours, and she wondered why he was so quiet.“’Though they go mad, they shall be sane....though they sink through the sea, they shall rise again...though lovers be shall not, and death shall have no dominion.’”

Vincent said quietly,“’Death shall have no dominion.’ You knew those lines?”

Catherine came up behind him. “You’ve been repeating them for three days. Who wrote them? Was it Dylan Thomas?”

Vincent had fallen back asleep, and Catherine cuddled up against him and slept, as well.


It was late afternoon when Vincent woke and heard Catherine on the phone.

“Yes, I need some new balcony doors. A hutch fell over and broke the glass. No, tomorrow’s not good. How does Friday sound? Great, thank you.”

He got up and walked to her balcony doors and opened up the heavy drapes to look out the sheers.

Catherine looked in her bedroom and noticed Vincent was gone. The bathroom door was open, so she walked into her bedroom and saw him standing in front of the balcony doors.She walked to his side and leaned over to look into his face. “You’re feeling better?”

“Yes.” Vincent lowered his head in shame. “I’m sorry.”

“Oooohhhh, Vincent, don’t be sorry!” Catherine rubbed his back comfortingly.

“It’s been my struggle...always. Now...when I have so much to fight for...I’m losing!”

“Maybe the worst is over.”

“If it’s not,its best that I’m Below.I should go back.”

Catherine glanced outside and nodded. “It’ll be dark soon.”

“Catherine….” Vincent took her hand. “I don’t know what will happen now.”

Catherine looked up at him. “You must promise me one thing.” Vincent waited for her to ask. “That you will share it with me.” His eyes closed as his head lowered, and tears came to his eyes as she continued, “Whatever happens...whatever comes!”

Vincent was humbled that, after all she’d been through, she was still willing to stand by his side. He reached for her and put his arm around her and drew her close. “Whatever happens...whatever comes...know that I love you.”

Vincent kissed her forehead, and Catherine’s heart melted when he finally told her he loved her. She snuggled against him. “I love you, too, Vincent.”

Vincent turned his face in and kissed her temple. Catherine moved her head and captured his mouth with hers. She tasted the mint toothpaste he had used and slowly deepened the kiss.

He gasped for breath and she pulled back and looked at him. “As soon as you’re better, Vincent, we’ll be together, always.”

Vincent closed his eyes as he sighed. “I’m afraid, Catherine...I’m so afraid.”

“I know.”She caressed his cheek lovingly.

“There was a my youth...something similar happened.”

Catherine lifted her finger and pressed it to his lips. “Father told me.”

Vincent nodded and walked towards the bed. “I had these dreams, these horrible...terrifying dreams.”

Catherine sat next to him and put her arm around his shoulders. “Peter mentioned them.”

Vincent began to cry. “They seemed so real. The images were so detailed, and the people and events...I couldn’t escape them. I would dream I had woken up, and things would happen, then I would really awaken, and those things had never happened, and I would sit and try and figure out what was real and what was imaginary. I can’t do it again.”

Catherine put his arm over her shoulder and snuggled against him. “You’re not a young boy anymore, you’re an adult, and can reason things out better.” She leaned back and looked him in the eyes. “And I promise you, I won’t leave your side.”

“Father did that It almost killed us both. He was exhausted, and thengot really sick afterwards.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“You’re already tired. I can see it in your eyes. You have to rest sometime, and you have your work.”

“I’m taking a few weeks off from work. I’ll call Joe tomorrow.”


“Yes! I’m not going to put you or me in danger anymore!”


“This isn’t up for discussion.” Catherine stood up and looked outside at the darkening sky. “I’m going to pack some things and get ready to go Below.”

Vincent watched as she ran around the room and carelessly threw things into a duffle bag. The sky was dark when she stopped and looked at him.“Are you ready?”

Vincent nodded and bent over to put on his boots. He lacked the strength he needed to pull them on, and Catherine helped him. He bent over to tie them but he swooned and he had to sit back. Catherine bent over and tied them for him, and then slowly stood up.

Vincent grabbed for her hand. “Thank you.”

Catherine smiled and went to get her bag but Vincent wouldn’t let go of her hand. “Catherine?” he lowered his head shyly. “Something happened between us that we haven’t been able to discuss.”

Catherine knew he was referring to their first intimate experience. She couldn’t believe it was only last week that Vincent was planning to disappear into the far nether regions of the world Below. He had told her they had to end and she had asked him to hold her one last time. They had cried together, and when Vincent pulled away, Catherine kissed him and begged him to make love to her. They had a brief and quick encounter, and then Paracelsus invaded their world and things had been in a constant state of uproar since.


Catherine swallowed and shook her head. “There’s nothing to discuss. We loved, Vincent, and although it was hurried, it was...beautiful. And when you’re better, we’ll take the time to explore it slowly.”

“Catherine, it was.…”

Unwilling to listen to him say otherwise, Catherine interrupted him. “Remember that I love you, Vincent.”

“And I you.I should go.”

“Will you be all right? I’ll meet you in a minute. I want to call Peter and let them know you’re coming down.”

“Take your time.I’m going to my chamber.”

Vincent left and Catherine got on the phone to Peter.


“Hi, Peter.”

“Hi, sweetie. How’s our patient?”

“Better. He just went Below. I’m heading down as soon as we hang up.”

“Cathy, I got the report from the lab. Can you stop by my house? I’d like to show it to you.”

“Um...yeah.I’ll come right now.”



Catherine hung up the phone and went to Peter’s house. He showed her the reports and was disgusted that they had concluded the blood was tainted, that it wasn’t human blood.She and Peter discussed other options but Peter told her what he and Father had known for years...that no medicine could help with Vincent. They were left to their own devices to try to treat him.

Catherine was upset but understood. “I left my bag at home. I need to go get it before I can go Below.”

Peter nodded. “I’ll meet you down there in a few hours. I have a patient to check on then I told Jacob I would come down.”

Catherine headed home but when she got there she had a note under her door begging her to come quickly.


Vincent left Catherine’s but once he was in the tunnels again, he began to be assaulted by images. He walked into his room and frowned at all the destruction that had occurred. He sat on his bed and the beast suddenly came through his chamber door and attacked him. Vincent’s roars could be heard through the tunnels.He and Vincent fought, and Vincent ran and tried to get out the park entrance. The sentries stopped him and sent someone to get Father.

Father had heard the roars and looked in astonishment at the condition of Vincent’s chamber. Kevin ran in and told him Mark was keeping an eye out on Vincent at the park entrance door.As Father quickly rushed to the culvert, he thought about how fortunate it was that he had spent the time talking to the community about Vincent. He was glad he had thought to arm the sentries with clubs or sticks, and that he had made sure Mouse had secured all of the common exits.

He came up and saw the power and rage Vincent was displaying as he tried to fight his way through the steel gate. He approached him and became nervous when Vincent looked at him. Father saw the anger and hatred but he also saw a flicker of Vincent, as well, and cautiously approached.

Vincent went to strike out but stopped and lowered his arm as he collapsed in Father’s arms, gasping for breath. “Father...when...I can’t...when will it end?”

Father knew Vincent was giving up. “Perhaps soon. Soon, and all will be well again.”

Both men sat and cried into each other’s arms. Vincent rocked back on his knees. “Bring Catherine,” he pleaded before he went back into Father’s arms.

“I will. I’ll send for her now.”

Vincent nodded, and Mark came forward and helped both of them to their feet.

“Mark, I’m sorry,” Vincent gasped.

“It’s not your fault, Vincent. You brushed past me and I lost my footing and slipped in the mud here.”

Father smiled weakly at Mark. “Help me get him back to the library.”

Mark and Father walked Vincent to the library, and the community gathered around them.Father looked at Mary. “I’m going to get Catherine. Keep an eye on him.”

Mouse stepped forward. “I’ll help.”

Father left, and Vincent slowly looked around at his family. He knew that in order to protect them, he would have to leave, and get as far away from them as he could. He said goodbye, and warned them to stay away then left and walked to the lower tunnels.

Father had gone for Catherine and told her what had happened when Vincent came back Below. They rushed into the library, only to discover that Vincent had left. Pascal said Mouse was following him, and that he would lead them to where Vincent had gone.


Inside the cavern, the beast finally spoke.

“You took her!” he accused.

“I…didn’t mean to.”

“You DID!” the beast interrupted. “Like an animal, you held her against the wall and drove yourself into her again and again! Did that not happen?”


“Bumbling fool! There was none of the love you speak of, there was no tenderness and whispers of love, there was only your animal instincts!”


“You raped her!”


“Yes, you raped her, and emptied your seed in her. Now she’s pregnant,and will be shredded when your offspring rips its way from her womb!”

“Noooooooooo!” Vincent roared loudly as they began to fight to the death.


Outside the chamber, Father and Catherine walked up to find Mouse huddled against a wall. He was outside a long corridor that led down to a cavern. He was scared and upset by sounds that were coming from inside.It sounded to them like Vincent was battling some evil force. Father knew he had never heard these sounds from his son. They were almost inhuman.

Catherine walked around Father and started down the corridor.

Father grabbed for her. “You can’t!”

“I must!”

Father was as aggravated as he could be. He wondered why she couldn’t hear the difference in the sounds. “Catherine! Please!”

“Father, he is my life. Without him...there is nothing!”

She turned and swallowed down her fear as she stepped forward. She had heard the difference in Vincent’s tone but she felt he needed her.

She walked into the dark cave and saw a shadowy figure across the room.


The figure rushed at her and she knew instantly what Father had meant. There was no recognition of her in Vincent’s eyes. He was running at her and raised his hand to strike when she screamed out again, “Vincent!”

Her voice finally penetrated into his psyche, and he stopped suddenly. For an instant, she thought he knew it was her then his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell. He pitched forward and took her down to the ground with him.He fell to her side, and Catherine scrambled and got up to lean over him.

“Vincent?!” She felt for a pulse then laid her head to his chest and tried to hear his heart. She didn’t hear it beating, and called out for Father.“Father! Father, I need help!”

After Catherine had screamed Vincent’s name, all had gone silent in the tunnel. No roars or other noises could be heard from inside, and no one could see Catherine or Vincent.

Catherine’s call for help rang out and Father grabbed Mouse’s arm. “Dear God! What’s he done to her?!”

“M...M..Mousego see?” Mouse stuttered nervously.

Father couldn’t take the chance that another person would get hurt. “No, I’ll go.”

Father entered the cave slowly. He braced himself for what he would see but he quickly realized it was not as he thought. Catherine was fine and hovering over Vincent, trying to administer CPR. He fell to his knees next to her.He felt for a pulse then instantly took over the chest compressions. Catherine scooted to Vincent’s head and, when Father nodded, she breathed into Vincent’s mouth. They continued CPR, and finally Vincent gasped and started to respond.

Catherine sat back and covered her mouth as she began to cry. Father had tears in his eyes as well as he shook her arm. “Not yet, Catherine! Stay strong!”

Catherine sniffled and bit her bottom lip as she nodded. Father got to his feet and ran outside. He noticed several of the men had come down with a stretcher, and he motioned for them. “Come quickly!”

Mouse, Kevin, Matthew and Mark each ran into the cave. They were relieved to see that Catherine was alive but they quickly got Vincent on the stretcher and started the walk back to the home chambers.

Father immediately sent word to Pascal. He, Cullen, Mary, Sarah, William and Rebecca scrambled to get Vincent’s room ready. The men made record time carrying Vincent on the stretcher,and they transferred him to a hospital gurney that had been brought into his chamber.

Mary stepped forward and started to undress Vincent. Matthew and Kevin helped lift Vincent so his shirts could be removed. He was laid back to down and the two men stepped away as Vincent moaned loudly.

Catherine had been frowning as she wondered why they just didn’t settle him in his bed but then watched in horror as Father wrapped small towels around Vincent’s wrists. Cullen brought out leather bindings and the men started to restrain Vincent’s arms.

Catherine ran to his side. “No!”

Father took her shoulders and shook them slightly. “Yes, we must.”

“But you don’t know how he is. Maybe it’s all over with!”

“And if it’s not? These restraints are as much for his protection as they are for ours.”

“I’ll stay in here with him alone. Secure a door somehow! Just don’t tie him down!”

“Are you so sure that he won’t hurt you?”

“Vincent would never hurt me!”

Father shook his head knowingly. “Tell me the truth, Catherine, when you went in that cave...did he recognize you instantly? Did you see the look in his eyes that I had described to you?”

Catherine looked down and sighed, and Father had his answer. He turned back, and Mary had placed a sheet over Vincent and removed his shoes. Father put towels around his ankles before the men restrained his legs.

William frowned at Vincent and looked at the restraints. “I don’t think those will hold him.”

Mary nodded and began to cry. “I don’t either. I don’t want to do it but we must protect the children. If he got loose....”

Father hung his head and slowly nodded.

“What?” Catherine wondered.

Heavy chains were brought out, and Catherine covered her face and began to cry. Peter walked in and saw what was happening and went to her side. He put his arms around her and she buried her face into his chest and quietly cried.

The men finished restraining Vincent, and everyone cleared the room, leaving only Father, Peter and Catherine.

“Come on, sweetheart.” Peter prompted her to the bed. He sat her down and rocked her while she cried. “Cathy, you know it’s only for his protection. If he’s okay...we’ll take them off.”

“Dear Catherine, look,” Father prompted. After she glanced his way, he held up the sheet to show her Vincent’s legs were shackled together at the ankles but had at least a three-foot length. His arms were shackled at the wrist, and each of those was secured to the bed. He was in chains but they weren’t very restrictive.

Catherine had fresh tears falling from her eyes as she looked at him. “It will kill him to wake up and see he’s been chained.”

Father stepped over and sat down next to her on the bed. “It will kill him more if he found out that in his madness he hurt anyone.”

Catherine knew he was right, and nodded weakly. “You’re right.”

“I’m sorry, Catherine.I am so,so sorry.”

Catherine knew he felt as bad as she did. She put her arms around him and hugged him. “I am, too, Father.”

Father put his arm around her shoulders and kissed her temple. “I have never been so frightened. We heard you call out his name twice,and then there was....the silence. I have to admit, when you called for me, I was so sure he had hurt you! I had braced myself for a far worse scene. I was never so relieved to see someone as when I looked in at you.”

He tightened his arms and she smiled up at him. “The same goes for me, Father. All I could think about was getting your help.”

Peter looked at both of them. “Care to elaborate for the late-comer?”

Father shrugged. “Catherine followed Vincent into one of the caverns, the ones beneath the catacombs. Anyway....”

Catherine patted hid hand as she interrupted, “Vincent was...lostto himself. I walked in and called out to him.’t recognize me at first. He came at me and I...called out again as he got closer and he...just stopped and fell towards me. We both fell to the floor, and when I couldn’t feel a heartbeat, I called for Father and started CPR.”

“I walked in and expected her to be hurt. I never thought I’d see her doing compressions on Vincent’s chest.”

Peter laughed. “I taught Cathy and Susan to do CPR in the summer of their twelfth year.”

Catherine smiled and nodded. “You bought that big pool and let me come over and swim in it all the time.”

Peter nodded. “I used to call you two my....”

“Little guppies! I remember.”

Vincent moaned, and Catherine and Father were instantly by his side. Peter rose and grabbed his medical bag and walked over to them.He took a stethoscope and listened to Vincent’s heart and lungs. Father grabbed his medical bag and stethoscope and listened, as well.

“So far, so good, Jacob,” Peter said.

“His heartrate is still accelerated.”

“Yes, but it’s not as bad as it was at Catherine’s.”


The two men peeled back the sheet to reveal Vincent’s chest. Catherine gasped at the cuts and bruises he had, and fresh tears came to her eyes.

Peter looked over at her and nodded. “Sweetie, come help us clean these up.”

Catherine was surprised, and stepped forward. He pointed to the bowl of water. “Gently clean up the cuts. If you think any are too deep, tell me or Jacob, and we’ll determine if he needs stitches. If not, you can put some antiseptic on them.”

Given something productive to do, Catherine had composed herself and dove into the task at hand. Peter looked to Father for approval, and Father knew instantly what he had done and nodded.

Father looked down and gently prodded some bruises Vincent had on his ribs. “I think this one is broken.”

Peter went over the same area and nodded. “I concur but here...there’s another and...yep...a third.”

Father felt again and nodded. “He must have run into something hard.”

The two men taped his ribs, and Peter moved the sheet up to reveal his legs. There were similar bruises on his shins and thighs but nothing needing attention.

Father inserted a catheter while Peter moved closer to Catherine. She was bent over Vincent’s chest and gently dabbing at a cut above Vincent’s left breast. “This one keeps bleeding, and I think there’s something hard in it.”

Peter gently probed at the area and then moved in closer to get a better look. “You’re right. Jacob.”

Father stepped forward and looked, as well. “It looks like a...rock.”

“Imbedded like that?”

Catherine stepped back as the two men got out instruments and started to probe into the cut. Vincent hissed in pain, and she came over and caressed his cheeks while they worked on him. Peter pulled out the object and looked at it. “You’re right.”

Father frowned. “I didn’t want to be.”While Father cleaned the wound,Peter threaded a needle then stitched it up when Father was done. Father started an IV drip while Peter adjusted the sheet, and Catherine threw a blanket over Vincent.

Father blew out a long breath as he took off his surgical gloves. “He’s stable.”

Peter looked at both of them and saw their exhaustion. “Look, I’m guessing you two gave me a cleaned-up version of what happened down there.” Both Father and Catherine looked away, and Peter nodded. “You’ve been at this for days, and you’re both exhausted. I’ll take first shift. You two get some sleep.” Knowing they would protest, he put up his hand. “That’s a direct doctor’s order that is not up for debate. I will make myself Vincent’s primary doctor, and have you both removed from the room!”  

Catherine’s face was pale and her eyes filled with tears again. “Fine.I’ll sleep but I’m staying here!”

“Catherine...” Father started to argue.

Peter stepped in and took her face in his hands. “Fine. You can sleep in Vincent’s bed.”

Catherine nodded and grabbed her duffel bag and headed out the door to the bathroom.

Father frowned at Peter. “I don’t think this is a good idea. That girl has barely slept in five days! She’s exhausted, and she needs a place where she can get some rest!”

“Jacob, you know if you put her in a guest chamber, she’ll never sleep. Let her stay here.”

Father frowned and thought about it then finally nodded and left to go to his chamber.

Catherine came back in a warm nightgown and kissed Peter on the cheek. “Thank you.I bet you had a hard time convincing Father to let me stay.”

“Only because he knows how tired you are.”

“I’ll sleep better here.”

“That’s what I said. Now, scoot! Get into bed.”

Catherine climbed under the covers and pulled the covers up to her chin. She could smell Vincent’s scent on them, and she took comfort in that as her eyes closed. Within minutes, she was asleep.

Father came in a short time later dressed in bed clothes. He looked over at Catherine with surprise. “She’s asleep?!”

“I told you.” Peter shrugged.

Father handed him a book. “I brought this to help keep you awake.”

“My nights have been filled with deliveries lately, so my sleep pattern is off. I’ll stay up, Jacob, I promise.”

Father nodded and walked over to Vincent and kissed his son’s forehead. He walked over to Catherine and caressed her pale cheek then leaned down and kissed her forehead, as well.

“Your children are in good hands, Jacob.”

“Goodnight, Peter,” Father whispered as he left the room.


Vincent lay for almost three days with no movement. His eye lids fluttered occasionally but he never woke. Catherine would read to him almost all day, or talk about anything that popped into her mind. Father would come in and tell them stories or read news articles, anything to keep a constant flow of conversation in the room. Peter came down every evening with supplies, and sat with Father and Catherine in Vincent’s chamber.

At one point, Vincent moaned aloud and the three moved to his side. Father grimaced as he felt Vincent’s forehead. “Damn it! He has a fever again!”

Peter frowned and the two men added a second IV bag with antibiotics. Catherine put cold compresses on his forehead again, and eventually the fever came down. They continued this pattern for another four days.

Father shook his head worriedly. “I don’t know how much longer his body can take this.”

Peter grabbed his friend by the shoulder and squeezed it. “He’ll fight as long as he needs to, Jacob. We’ll get him through this!”

“It’s been over a month,” Catherine said quietly from the corner of the room.

Peter looked over at her. “Since what, sweetie?”

The three sat back down in chairs as she looked over at Vincent.“Since he started to get sick.”

Peter frowned while Father calculated time in his head. “I’m not sure….”

Catherine held up her hand to stop him. “I’ve been thinking about this...a lot. It’s been a week since he got sick...really sick. The week before that, we went through hell waiting for those pictures to get printed, and the week before that is when Spirko tormented us, trying to find out who Vincent was.”

Father nodded. “And a few weeks before that he was called upon to... um...protect you from....”

Catherine’s face showed her distress when she nodded. “…Those boys that were killing young prostitutes that cornered me in the theater, and that was right after the goons were shooting at Elliot and meon the docks!”

“He never had a chance in his mind with those events, let alone all this chaos John thrust upon him.”

Peter looked to both of them and gestured with his hands. “Let’s calm down and keep things in perspective. He’s only been truly sick a week or so. And if I remember correctly, Jacob, as an adolescent, this thing he’s going through lasted a few weeks.” Father nodded in agreement and Peter patted Catherine’s cheek. “Let’s not lose hope that he’s too tired to fight. Maybe he’s gone through the worst of it!”


Peter was wrong.Vincent took a turn for the worse, and over the next two weeks, Catherine kept a constant vigil by his side. Vincent stayed in a state of delirium and, unknown to anyone, he was being assaulted with a continuous nightmare that he couldn’t escape.

He had gotten better but the cost to him was his bond with Catherine. A madman had kidnapped Catherine and, although he found her and tried to rescue her, he had failed. The man discovered Catherine was pregnant and decided the baby must be Vincent’s. He kept her alive until the child was born, and then stole the baby and had Catherine put to death. Months went by before Vincent was able to find the baby and kill the madman. He finally took his son Below to begin a new life.

Just as suddenly as it started, Vincent seemed to be getting better. Catherine woke one day and he was looking at her from his hospital bed.


His voice broke from dryness as Catherine raced to his side. She grabbed a cup of water and lifted his head so he could drink. Mary walked in and Catherine whirled around to face her. “He’s awake! Get Father!”

Mary left, and Catherine took Vincent’s hand and squeezed it lovingly. “Hi, stranger.”

Vincent smiled weakly as he looked at her, and she bent over and kissed his cheek.

Father raced into the room. “Catherine?!”

Catherine moved, and Father looked into Vincent’s blue eyes. He sighed in relief and came over and took Vincent’s other hand. “Vincent, can you hear me?”

Vincent nodded. “Yes,” he whispered.

“Do you know who I am?”

“Yes, Father.”

“Can you tell me where you are?”

“In my chamber.”

“How are you feeling? Do you...?”

Vincent sighed and closed his eyes. “Father, the chains are cutting into me, and I wonder if you could remove them and then ask your questions?”

Father startled into action, and he and Catherine started to remove the chains. Catherine had insisted the chains be moved frequently, and Vincent be repositioned, as well, and because of that he had no sores or abrasions to deal with. Father discreetly removed the catheter, and Mary came over and propped Vincent up on pillows.

Catherine gave him some more water and he smiled gratefully at her and then took her hand.

Father cleared his throat to get their attention. “Son, do you’s over?”

Vincent blew out a long breath. “Yes. it’s over.”

Father pinned him with a level gaze. “Are you sure, Vincent?”

“It’s over, Father!”

Catherine sighed and began to cry as she put her arms around him. “Thank God!”

Vincent was weak but his arms came around her automatically. “Catherine!”He looked up worriedly at Father, who shrugged.

“It’s to be expected, Vincent. It’s been over a month, and she’s never left your side. She slept in your bed and had all her meals brought here.”

Vincent caressed the top of her head with his cheek. “She must be exhausted.”

Father caressed his cheek. “We all are, son, but it’s good to have you back!”

“It’s good to be back, Father.”

Father knew Vincent was probably starting to get chilled. He tapped out a message on the pipes then touched Catherine’s shoulder.“Cathy, would you be so kind as to see if William will make Vincent a pot of tea along with some soup?”

Catherine looked at him and smiled. “Of course, Father.”

Matthew and Cullen came in and stood uncertainly in the doorway.

Catherine glanced at Father then back at Vincent. “I’m guessing that if you boys are going to get him dressed, he would appreciate a quick trip to the bathing chambers.”

As she walked out the door, Matthew shrugged. “Sure thing. Vincent, it’s good to see you’re back.”

Cullen and he stepped on either side of Vincent then helped him stand and get steady on his feet once again.By the time they made it into Vincent’s private bathing chamber, Vincent’s legs were stronger and he was walking on his own. “I can take it from here,” Vincent said quietly as he smiled weakly at his friends.

“Are you sure, Vincent? We can wait,” Cullen asked.

“Thank you, Cullen, Matthew. I’m fine.”

They waited until he made his way slowly into the water before they left.

Vincent quickly dipped under and began to wash his hair and body. He would have loved to settle onto the shelf used for sitting and relax into the water’s warmth but he knew Father was waiting for him.He got out and dried off as best he could then held onto the wall as he slipped on his clothing. He frowned that his pants were too big as he tightened the strings at his waist.

He slowly made his way back to his chamber, and was just sitting down at the table when Catherine came in carrying a tray of tea, followed by Samantha, Kipper and Eric, who were each carrying a tray with a big bowl of soup as well as sandwiches.

“Hi Vincent,” the kids chorused.

“Hello, Samantha, Kipper, Eric. It’s good to see you again,” he replied.

Samantha stood in front of him. “Do you think you’ll feel good enough to read Jane Eyre tomorrow?”

“Samantha!” Kipper whispered as he hit her arm.

“Perhaps.” Vincent smiled as he tugged at her braid. “But thank you all for bringing us these trays.”

The children left as Catherine poured the tea and Father and Vincent began to eat.

Vincent finished his soup as well as his sandwich quite quickly. Father grinned at him and handed him the other half of his sandwich, as well, which Vincent readily accepted.

Catherine was still trying to force down her soup.

“You don’t like the soup, dear?” Father questioned.

“No, it’s good. I just feel kind of queasy.”

Father lifted her chin and noticed the dark circles under her eyes and frowned as he caressed her cheek. “These have been a long few weeks for everyone, I suspect you’re exhausted. Now that Vincent’s on the mend, I suspect you’ll have a goodnight’s sleep tonight and feel better in the morning.”

Catherine nodded weakly. “I am tired, Father.”

She stacked the dirty dishes neatly on one tray then got up and started to walk. Her vision went blank, and in an instant she had slumped to the floor.

“Catherine!” Father gasped aloud as he shot to his feet.

Vincent was by her side in an instant and turning her over in his arms. “Catherine?” he said as he caressed her cheek.

Father handed him a cold washcloth which Vincent instantly put on her forehead.Her eyes fluttered open as she looked at him. “Vincent?”

“Yes,” he said with relief.


“Shhhh,” he crooned as he got to his feet. He was going to pick her up when Father stopped him. “Vincent, you don’t have all your strength back!”

“Surely I can pick up Catherine and carry her a few feet,” Vincent said as he continued.

“And if you can’t?” Father grumbled as he pushed Vincent aside. “I don’t need her hurt if your strength gives out and you drop her.”

Catherine was starting to feel better, and chuckled that Father was defending her. “I’m okay now. I can get myself to the bed,” she said as she got to her feet and made her way to the bed to sit down.

“What happened, dear?” Father asked as he took her pulse.

“I have no idea. Maybe I just got up too fast and…” she shrugged, “I think the excitement of the day has just gotten to me. I’m just going to rest for awhile.”

“Good, good,” Father commented as he looked at Vincent. “Keep an eye on her, and let me know if you need anything!”He walked to the door and pulled a big drape over the door.

“When did I get a privacy drape?” Vincent asked.

“When Catherine moved into your chamber,” Father said as he walked out the door.

Vincent stood in the middle of the room, uncertain what to do.

Catherine glanced at him as she climbed into his bed. “Will you read to me until I fall asleep?”


“Please, Vincent.”

Vincent went to his book shelf and carefully chose one then climbed in next to her. He propped himself up with pillows and began to read.Catherine snuggled against him and was asleep in record time. Vincent continued to read until he, too, grew tired. Catherine was lying with half of her body covering his, so he scooted down and drew her into his arms and fell asleep.

They both had a deep, healing sleep, and Vincent woke up feeling better than ever.

Catherine woke up and grabbed for a nearby bowl and started to vomit.

Vincent handed her a cold cloth when she was done then took the bowl and left the room. He stopped at the restroom and dumped the contents then rinsed the bowl before he made his way into the library.

“Vincent! You look wonderful!” Mary gushed.

Father nodded. “Yes, you’re coloring is.…”

“Father, Catherine is vomiting,” Vincent interrupted.

Father got to his feet. “All night? Why didn’t you come get me?!” he grumbled.

“No, we slept all night with no problems. We just woke up a few minutes ago and she was sick.”

“Well, go get her some tea and a few biscuits while I take a look at her,” he instructed as he and Mary made their way to his chamber.

Mary peeked in first. “Catherine?”

“Come in,” Catherine greeted. Her face fell when both Father and Mary walked in. “Vincent got you? I’m sorry. I’m fine, just a little light-headed, and I’m queasy again.”

Father nodded. “Well, you didn’t eat at all last night, so maybe once you get something on your stomach.…”

Mary took her hand and looked deep into her eyes. “Dear, when was your last period?”

Catherine looked at her with surprise then glanced at Father, who was looking equally surprised. Catherine shrugged as she thought back. “Um….well….” Her face suddenly paled and her eyes grew wide as she grabbed for Mary’s hand. “Oh, no! Do you think?”

Mary smiled knowingly. “It’s just a guess, Catherine.”

Father frowned. “So, are you telling us it is a possibility?”

Catherine sighed and looked warily at him. “Yes.”

Not sure if he was excited or scared or both, Father ran his hand over his face. “Well.…”

Mary chuckled as she stood. “I’ll go get the things you’ll need to draw blood.”

Vincent had walked back into the room and stopped. “Draw blood? What’s wrong?”

“Just a routine pregnancy test,” Mary announced as she patted his shoulder and walked past him.

Vincent let the words sink in then dropped the tea tray he had been holding.

Catherine started to giggle. “I guess I’m not getting tea this morning!”

Father frowned at Vincent. “For Pete’s sake, Vincent,do try to be more careful!”


“Well, you’re not the first man to have to wait to find out if he’s going to be a father, and I suspect you won’t be the last. Now, sit down next to Catherine and let Mary and I do our job!”

Vincent walked slowly over to Catherine, who was looking at him curiously.“Vincent?”

“What have I done,” he mumbled worriedly.

Catherine reached for his hand and smiled. “What have WE done. You couldn’t have done it alone.”

“That’s true,” Father mumbled as Mary walked back into the room with the items he needed.Father quickly drew enough of Catherine’s blood for multiple tests. “I’ll send one of these Above to Peter so he can confirm my results. Now, I suspect you two have some things to discuss, so Mary and I will perform the tests and you two come get the results as soon as you’re ready to hear them.”

“I already know the answer but Father will have confirmation,” Mary whispered to them as they left.

Catherine walked to the bed and sat down then looked over at Vincent. “Will you sit by me?”

Vincent nodded and silently walked over and sat next to her on the bed.

Catherine sighed as she began, “While our first time might have not been the most romantic or planned time together, to me it was still beautiful and it was so beautiful that we conceived a child while we loved.” Vincent remained silent as he glanced at her. She smiled weakly. “If it’s true that I’m pregnant, we have a little one to get ready for, and I’d much rather spend that time together making love and building our home than arguing about our first time.”

“Our only time,” he whispered as he got up and began to pace. “Tell me the truth.”

“I always have.”

“Did you ever dream about having my baby?”

“Sure, I did. All girls do,” Catherine admitted as she blushed furiously. “I know it’s ridiculous but I even have names picked out.”

Vincent shook his head.“No, not ANY baby, Catherine, MY baby?!”

Catherine grew serious as she stood and walked over to where he was leaning against the table. “Yes, Vincent, I have dreamed about it often, especially since the first time I saw you holding Lena’s baby.”

Vincent sighed as he walked away from her.“Did you ever wonder what you would do if the child was like me?”

A protective streak for a child she wasn’t even sure she was having had Catherine growing angry.“I would love ANY child we create, whether it looked like you or me or a mixture of both of us.”

Vincent felt her anger and shrugged. “I would never condemn a child to the life I have to live.”

Catherine rolled her eyes. “Yes, it must be horrible to be so loved that you have dozens of people watching out for you every second of the day. I can’t imagine learning in a classroom where there are six students instead of thirty.…”

“A place where everyone must be over-cautious to protect you from those that would do you harm, a place where you are hidden away, unable to walk in the daytime and feel the sunlight warm your face.…”

“Enough!” Catherine held up her hand to stop him. “I’m not doing this. We’re not even sure I’m pregnant and, if I am, we have eight months to argue about how we’ve destroyed our baby’s life. But if I am pregnant, Vincent, I will be celebrating every day until I hold our baby in my arms. If you want to worry yourself to death about it then you’ll have do so alone.”

Vincent sat on the chair and clasped his hands between his knees. “While I was sick, I dreamt….horrific, frightening dreams that were so real that I was unable to awaken because I feared I would lose everything dear to me,” he began quietly.

Catherine sat in a chair across from him. “Can you tell me those dreams?”

Vincent sighed as he told her the whole dream from the beginning.

Catherine took a deep breath and reached for his hands. “Well, all I can say is it was a dream, none of it is real – well, except for the baby part. I’m here and I’m fine. If it’s true that I’m pregnant then I will be giving my notice at work. I’ll work a few months until I can train someone but I’m going on desk duty only, or quitting, then I’ll move Below permanently.”

“I don’t want you to sacrifice your ties to the world Above.”

“My ties are with you and our child. I don’t need anyone else.”

“What about your friend Jenny, and you’ve mentioned Nancy a time or two, and I know you’re close with your boss Joe?”

Father overheard the question as he walked inside and watched as Catherine thoughtfully walked around the room.

Father frowned but walked over to the table and began to pull bottles out of a small bag.

“What is it, Father?” Vincent asked curiously as he walked over and picked up a bottle. After reading the first one, he sat down heavily in a chair. “So, it’s true?” he gasped, clearly in shock at the news.

“Yes,” Father proclaimed warily as he looked to gauge Catherine’s reaction.

Catherine had whirled around at the news with a huge grin on her face. “I’m pregnant?!”

Father noticed she had already unknowingly placed her hands protectively over her abdomen. “You are…and I think congratulations are in order?”

Catherine laughed and walked over to hug him. “Yes, Grandpa, they are!”

“Grandpa?” Father said quietly as he hid a small grin.

“Vincent?” Catherine asked worriedly. Are you going to be all right with this?”

“Nevermind him, Catherine,” Father scoffed. “We need to discuss your health.”Father spent the next few minutes showing her all the vitamins he wanted her to take, as well as explaining a strict diet he wanted her to follow. “Can you do this, dear?” Father asked.

“I don’t know. That’s an awful lot of calories to consume everyday! I’ll be as big as a house!”

“Well, of course, I’m recommending light exercise as well; lots of walking would be a perfect way….”

“I’ll have a desk job now!” Catherine complained.

Father rolled his eyes at her, “Well, you don’t have a choice, you’ll just have to find a way to fit it all in.”

“She’ll be able to, Father, I’ll make sure of it,” Vincent added quietly as he reached for Catherine’s hand and drew her towards him.

Father grinned at Vincent finally accepting the news. “Good! Well, I’ll leave you two alone then to…um…celebrate.” He turned to walk out the door then turned back. “You know, Catherine, I know you’ll have to come Below to have the baby but I wonder, if you were allowed to tell a few close friends about our world, if that might make the transition easier?” Catherine’s eyes were wide with shock but she remained silent. “Well, no matter, think about it then let me know, and we can get approval from the Council and arrange a visit.”

He turned and left as Vincent pulled her gently to sit on his lap. “I’m sorry that it took me so long to be accepting of this news.”

“So, you’ve accepted it? And you’re happy with it?”

“It’s more than I’ve ever dared to dream.”

Catherine leaned in and kissed him. “Then I’m glad I could give it to you. Now, will you give me something?”

“Whatever I can.”

“I want to get married or joined together officially.”

“You would agree to be my wife?”

“A long time ago, Vincent!”

As tears sprang to his eyes, he leaned in and kissed her. “Then the answer is yes!”