The rotors of the helicopter beat the air and the wind produced tossed Vincent's golden mane. "Catherine!" he roared, thinking the helicopter was taking her away and he was too late, again.
Her soft voice cut through all his grief and all the noise straight to his addled heart. He spun around and caught her as she fell into his arms.
"Catherine," he breathed. Her slight weight felt exquisite in his arms. He looked at her and took in her sweaty hair pushed back from her forehead, the tear stains on her cheeks, her body's quivering and the bloodstains on her gown.
"Vincent," she whispered again, crying quietly. "We loved. There is a child."
Vincent looked down at her, stunned. "Our child?" he asked as she nodded.
Her body sagged a bit more in his arms and her eyes rolled back a bit. She squinted her eyes closed tightly and then opened them determinedly. She looked up into his eyes and spoke haltingly. "'Though lovers be lost...'"
"'Love shall not,'" he said firmly back. Her eyes rolled back again and closed. Her head fell backwards over his arm. "'And death shall have no dominion,'" he whispered.
He pulled her limp body up to his chest and held her tightly. He buried her face in her neck. A sob tore through his throat and he roared again, "Catherine!"
He held her for several minutes, crying into her hair. Then, he came somewhat back to himself and looked around. The helicopter was gone and the night was quiet. He knew he couldn't stay on the rooftop. He couldn't leave her there.
He kept one arm on her back as he reached with the other to pull up his hood. He pulled the side flaps of his cloak around them both. He gathered her body up in his arms and went to the door and carried her down the stairs to the street.
He left the hateful building and went into the night, into the darkened city. He carried her through the unfeeling streets. He encountered few people as he walked, cradling his precious burden, numb. How he managed to get her to her balcony, he did not know. But, at last, he entered her bedroom through the French doors and laid her carefully on her bed.
He smoothed her hair back and sat back on his heels, just looking at her. Even still and lifeless, he was awed by her beauty. But, he remembered, her beauty wasn't merely physical. She was so kind and generous and strong. Her love had opened his world beyond the stony tunnels and chambers beneath the earth. Her love was a strong ray of sunshine warming his face in the darkness. Without her, how could he go on?
He touched her face, smoothed her hair again and ran his hands down her arms. A glimmer of sunlight caught his eye and he turned to the windows and saw the sun beginning to rise. He couldn't stay past dawn, but how could he leave her?
He bent forward and ran his clawed finger over her lips. "As long as I live, you shall live, in me." Feeling a bravery he had never felt while she lived, he leaned closer and pressed his unique mouth to hers and kissed her softly. "Always," he whispered into her mouth and kissed her again.
When he pulled away, he thought he felt a puff of air come from her lips.
"Catherine?" He bent his cheek to her mouth and waited, holding his breath. After interminable seconds, another puff disrupted the whiskers on his cheek.
"Catherine!" He pressed his fingers to the pulse point on her neck and felt her heartbeat, faint, quiet, but steady. He gasped and began to cry in earnest. She was alive! She was barely clinging to live, but she was still alive. He had nearly left her for dead in her cold apartment. But what to do? He couldn't take her Below to Father. The sun was nearly above the buildings across the park and he would be seen. Frantically, he threw the blankets up over her body and added his cloak for good measure.
"Hold on, Catherine. Hold on a little longer." He jumped up and paced the small space between her bed and the French doors. "She needs help, but I cannot get her to Father. An ambulance? But where will I hide when the paramedics arrive?" He clenched his fists. What to do? "Peter!" his mind cried out. Dr. Peter Alcott, the best doctor he knew next to Father and he could bridge the worlds Above and Below.
Vincent stumbled out of Catherine's bedroom and went to her desk. A small Rolodex sat on it near the phone. His great paws fumbled with it, turning to the "A's," to Peter's phone number. Using the claw on his forefinger, he dialed the number marked "home" on the card. He held the phone to his ear awkwardly as it rang and rang. Finally, the phone call was answered and Peter's sleep-roughened voice muttered, "Alcott."
"Peter," Vincent breathed.
"Who is this?"
"It is Vincent."
"Vincent, really?" Peter sounded instantly more awake.
"Peter. I found Catherine last night. I thought..." Vincent stifled a sob. "I thought she was dead."
"Vincent, where are you?"
"I brought her home and kissed her goodbye. She is still breathing."
"She's alive, Peter, but I do not know what to do. The sun-"
"Vincent, wrap her up, keep her warm. If her breathing fades, breathe for her. You remember." Vincent nodded. "Talk to her, Vincent. Let her know you haven't given up. I'll be there in fifteen minutes. Her apartment?"
"Fifteen minutes, Vincent." Peter hung up the phone.
Vincent carefully replaced the receiver and walked back to Catherine. He climbed on to the other side of the bed and gathered her into his arms. "I'm here, Catherine, I'm here. I won't let you go again." He kept his cheek close to her mouth and nose and rechecked her pulse from time to time.
It had only been ten minutes by the time Peter arrived, but it felt much longer to Vincent. He heard the elevator doors and a key turning the lock. Instinct made him freeze and turn his head, looking for a place to hide, but he knew it could only be Peter and he knew he couldn't leave Catherine.
Peter rushed in the door and came quickly into Catherine's bedroom. He stopped short, looking at the baby he had brought into the world looking so death-like in Vincent's arms. "What happened?" he asked shortly, setting his doctor's bag down by the bed and reaching for Catherine's wrist.
"I'm not sure. I had felt nothing of her for months and then tonight, there was something."
"Your bond?" Peter asked looking at her arm and noting the needle marks in the crooks of her elbows and the fresher mark on her upper arm.
"Similar, but not the same. I found her on the roof of a building in downtown. Or, she found me. She told me that we had loved and that there was a child. Then, she collapsed in my arms. I brought her here. When I found I must leave, I noticed she was still breathing."
"Her pulse is faint and so is her breathing. It seems like she recently gave birth. I wonder if she has retained the placenta. But, that doesn't account for all of this." Peter rubbed his forehead. "Where is the baby, Vincent?"
"I do not know."
Peter pulled supplies from his bag and began to ready an intravenous line. He tied a tourniquet around Catherine's upper arm. "I wonder if whoever took her only kept her for the baby. Didn't you nearly rescue her a few months ago?"
"Yes, she was tapping on the pipes. Old Sam intercepted the message and I found her. There were too many for me. Perhaps I should have waited for help or contacted the police. They took her to another place and I couldn't find her again until tonight."
Peter placed the needle into her vein. Vincent handed him the tubing to connect to it. "Thank-you, Vincent. Perhaps her kidnappers inferred that you were connected to her, that you were the father of her child and decided they wanted it."
"Then after the child was born, they would have..."
"Disposed of her. Yes. If it were me, I'd use morphine." Peter fumbled in his bag, looking for a bottle of medicine. "Aha." He pulled the bottle out and withdrew a dose from it with a syringe.
"What is that?" Vincent asked as Peter injected it into her IV line.
"Narcan. It is an antidote for opiates." Peter placed the empty syringe and medicine bottle on the bedside table and bent to recheck Catherine's pulse. "A bit stronger, but she needs more than I can do here. We need to get her to a hospital. She needs blood, antibiotics, maybe ventilation."
"Peter, call an ambulance. Save her. She is my life."
"We should try to keep this anonymous. If her kidnappers find she is still alive..."
"They will come looking for her."
"I'll call a private service rather than 911. I'll admit her to me, keep her in a private room. Maybe I can arrange for a Helper or even Mary to help care for her. Where can you go while the ambulance takes her?"
"I can hide in her kitchen or the balcony. I can wait until night and go back Below."
"All right. I'll call now. Stay close to her."
Vincent cuddled Catherine close again and kissed her forehead. She felt a bit warmer and her breath was stronger on his face, but it still seemed so faint. Her cheeks were pale. Vincent could hear Peter in the other room, speaking to the ambulance service.
"No, keep it quiet. I don't know who to trust with this yet, but she needs medical attention and quickly."
Peter returned to the bedroom. "They should be here in 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic. It is still early, but rush hour seems to never end in this part of town. How is she?"
"She is so pale and still."
"She is strong, Vincent, and she has a lot to live for – you and the baby."
"I haven't even really thought of the child. It is so much."
"You'll have time to absorb it. I don't want you to panic while you're stuck here. Do you want me to call with updates?"
"I'm not sure."
"I think I'll call a helper to get a message to Jacob."
"All right." Peter returned to the other room and picked up the phone. Vincent held Catherine close again and kissed her forehead and hair over and over.
"I love you, Catherine. I love you. I'll never let you go again. I know now. I know what you meant. I'll never be apart from you again." He kissed her head again and stroked her shoulder and arm and smoothed her hair. He trailed his fingers back to her neck and felt her pulse. It seemed stronger. The medicine Peter had injected her with seemed to help. Suddenly, her eyelids fluttered open. She sucked in a big breath of air as Vincent gasped. "Peter!"
Peter dropped the phone and ran to the bedroom and saw Catherine in Vincent's arms with her eyes open, looking up at him.
"Vincent," she whispered.
"You are going to be fine, Catherine." Vincent's tears began to fall again. "I love you. Peter is here. He's going to get you to a hospital. When you are well enough, I'll take you Below."
"Cathy, it is okay, honey. Everything is going to be okay." There was a loud knock at the door.
"I must go."
"Vincent," she whispered again. "He's beautiful."
"Of course, he is. You will be well and we will find him." Vincent slipped from the bed and took up his cloak. He kissed Catherine's forehead again and went to the kitchen. Catherine's eyes closed again and she seemed to be sleeping.
Peter followed Vincent to the other room and made sure he was well-concealed in the kitchen before he opened the door. Three paramedics entered the apartment rolling a stretcher. "Where is she, doctor?"
"In here," Peter answered. As they moved to the bedroom, Vincent opened the kitchen door a crack and watched them work on Catherine. Confident that she was in good hands, Vincent let the door close and sank to the floor and began to cry silently. She was found. She was alive. They would be well.