Title: A Hairy Situation

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: Catherine/Vincent

Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?

Teaser: A strange woman spells trouble for Vincent & Catherine.

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. Vincent, Catherine and Elliot belong to Republic Pictures or whoever owns the Rights. Discord and Aphrodite belong to Studios USA or whoever owns the Rights to Xena. This is just for fun. No money is being made.

The woman sat on the flat roof of Catherine's apartment building, her long straight black hair blowing in the cold wind. Wearing only a skimpy top made from pieces of crisscrossed black leather, a short leather skirt and black boots, the cold didn't seem to affect her. She was perched on the very edge of the roof, her legs dangling in the empty air. Fearless, she leaned forward so she could watch the unusual couple several floors below. Her slim fingers gripped the stone edge as she leaned even further out, eager to see what they would do this night. Most of the time it was boring, he would read poetry or they would just talk. But sometimes she got lucky and there was some action.

She loved seeing blood, hearing the screams. Danger followed the woman around like fleas on a cat.

On nights like those she followed them, unseen by anyone. Not even HE knew of her presence. And she planned to keep it that way.

But lately things had been boring. Too boring. If the poetry mush kept up, she'd have to create some action herself.

Voices floated up to her sensitive ears from the balcony.

"Are you sure you'll be all right?"

"Vincent, it's just a little scratch! Look, it's not even bleeding. Now don't worry about it. It's my own fault I tripped. If you wouldn't have caught me ..."

"It's not your fault, Catherine. The stairs need to be repaired. We have put it off long enough. I'll tell Father as soon as I return Below."

The woman on the roof laughed. "Oh, this is too good! He scratched her! I bet you feel all guilty now."

Yep, there he was with his head hanging down, hiding his blue eyes from his love by the thick mane of tawny hair. He stared at his hands, cursing his fate to be born this way. And now he had accidentally scratched Catherine. "If only I could be normal. We wouldn't have to hide our relationship from the world. And perhaps then we could be together."

"But I love you just as you are, Vincent. You know that." Catherine told him as she pressed her face against his chest, her arms wrapped around his solid body. She felt safe and secure in his arms, even if she had witnessed what those nails of his could do.

Up on the roof, the woman in black laughed again, her face pale against the cascade of black hair. "So you like hairy men, do you? Let's liven things up a bit! See how you like it then."

She held out her palm, moving her other hand above it. Soon a small red ball appeared, no larger than a golf ball. The ball flickered as the red colors swirled around, as if it were a tiny version of the planet Jupiter. She flipped her hand over and watched as the ball slowly floated down until it landed on Catherine's head. An instant later it was gone, having sunk into her body.

"Now the fun starts!" The woman laughed, throwing her head back in glee. "This is going to be good!"

****

The following morning Catherine woke up in her bed and stretched. She had spent a good part of the night talking with Vincent, but now she needed to get ready for work. And since she had a court case on her schedule, she had to look her best. She just hoped she didn't have any black circles under her eyes from staying up so late with Vincent! Catherine shook her head. "Sooner or later those hours are going to catch up with me. I just hope it's not today."

Crawling out of bed, she padded barefoot to the bathroom. Usually in the morning the floor was ice beneath her feet, but today Catherine didn't feel it. Reaching the bathroom, she hurried inside and turned on the shower. Slipping off her nightgown, she put one foot in the shower and stopped in shock.

"What the ...?" Catherine stared at her leg in shock. Her entire leg was covered in thick brown hair, all the way to the ankle. Glancing at the other leg, she grimaced. She would have to spend extra time shaving off all the hair. She certainly couldn't go to work like this. Sighing, she pulled out the shaving cream and razor. "I thought I shaved yesterday..."

Stepping into the shower, she laughed. "Maybe I'm spending too much time with Vincent. I'm loosing track of the days!"

For it couldn't have been only yesterday morning when she shaved last. Hair couldn't grow that quickly.

Could it?

She had finished her shower and was busy shaving her leg when the doorbell rang. Pulling on a thick robe that went to her knees, she tied the belt securely. Reaching the door, she peered out the tiny eyehole to see who it was. A familiar figure in a gray suit stood just on the other side. Sighing, she opened the door.

"Good morning, Cathy! I brought you some flowers!" Elliot Burch gushed, holding out a bouquet of bright flowers to her. His eyes took in her state of dress, and then went lower to her hairy legs. A smile crept across his lips. "But maybe I should have brought you some razors. Guess I got here kind of early. But go on take the flowers. No strings attached."

"It seems I could use some razors this morning. " Catherine reached for the flowers, knowing it was no use to argue with Elliot. Maybe he just wanted to talk. Her fingertips brushed against his hand as she gripped the flowers and he jerked away.

"Ow!" Elliot yanked his hand away, staring at the tiny red streak on his palm. "You need to cut your nails. How can you get any work done with those long things?"

Catherine lifted her hand and stared at it. Her nails were long, a lot longer than she thought they were. "I had no idea they were that long, really, Elliot. Here, let me get you something for that."

"Are you sure you're all right, Cathy?" He asked as he followed her into the living room and sat down on the sofa. "I know there's lots of things you don't want to tell me, but this just seems so odd. I mean, fingernails normally don't scratch like that."

Unless it's Vincent's nails. Catherine thought as she brought Elliot the materials to clean the scratch. Placing it on the coffee table, she tried to keep her hands from shaking. First the hair on her legs, now her fingernails. What would be next? "Please excuse me. I need to get dressed."

"Sure, go ahead." Elliot told her as he picked up the bottle of antiseptic. "We can talk when you get out. Take your time."

Safe in the bathroom, she leaned against the closed door and stared at her hands. Her mind whirled around in confusion. "What's happening to me?"

******

That morning at work, Catherine tried to concentrate on her job. She knew she was living two lives at the same time, her normal life Above working at the DA's office and her secret life with Vincent. Sometimes those lives interfered with each other, often not smoothly. Usually it was a minor thing, like someone Below getting sick and the tunnel world needing her help. But nothing like this had ever happened before. Had she contracted something from Vincent, something that was making her get hairy and her nails grow long? She knew that was impossible. Vincent was just ... Vincent. He couldn't inflict his uniqueness on anyone. It was just simple logic: if a spider bit you it didn't turn you into a spider, nor a cat's scratch into a cat.

She tried to push the worries from her mind, yet they refused to go. By the time she arrived at the Courthouse, her mind was like a snow flurry blowing around in all directions. She proceeded to the courtroom itself and moved to her position, laying the folders on the wooden table. She had dressed carefully, for this was a man's world and she wanted to be taken seriously. It wasn't like working at her Daddy's law firm. No, this was real work, serious work. If she succeeds here today she could put a scumbag behind bars for many years, which was only what he deserved. People like him didn't belong loose on the streets. Yet in order to do that, she needed to be at her best, both mentally and physically. Now with these new problems preying on her mind, she regretted staying up so late last night. With such an important case, she should have gone to bed earlier, gotten more sleep.

Suddenly her shoes felt tight and a hot flash of worry swept through her. Could it be ...? No, it couldn't grow that fast, could it? But what if it could? What exactly did she contract from Vincent last night? Even Father admitted he didn't know why Vincent was the way he was. Maybe anything was possible then.

NO she told herself firmly. Stop thinking like that. You just lost track of the days, that's all. Now push it out of your mind and concentrate on doing your job!

The Judge entered the room and everyone was told to rise. After a few moments, the case was introduced and the floor given to Catherine. Swallowing a lump in her throat, she stepped in front of the jury and others present. Yet she couldn't resist a quick glance at her legs, visible through her stockings. She tried to tell herself she was just checking if her skirt was straight, but she knew the truth. She was really checking for hair.

*****

Below, Vincent felt Catherine's anxiety and paced his chamber. He knew about the important case she was working on today and dismissed it as a case of the jitters. Still, he wished he could help her in some way.

But he knew he could never really be part of her world, not the way others could be. His physical appearance kept him locked away far below the city streets. Thousands of times, even hundreds of thousands, he had asked the silent moon and stars why. But if there were any divine beings listening, whether you call them gods or fate, they ignored his pleas. The truth was he was born with the face and hands of a beast, not a man. He could never walk in the sunlight, for doing so would be his doom. Modern man was ignorant and to quick to destroy what wasn't like them. They would only see him as a monster, closing their eyes to his knowledge of literature. For although Vincent had never attended school he was still a scholar and possessed a mind as sharp as any other man. But it was his compassionate, all too human heart that Catherine loved.

Sighing, Vincent collapsed on his bed, the brightly colored stain glass oval reflecting candlelight. He didn't know what to do about Catherine. He loved her with all his heart, yet how could they ever have a life together? She deserved so much more and he couldn't provide that. She belonged to the world Above, not living in the tunnels like a sewer rat. Yet no matter how many times he tried to tell her, she failed to see the problem. To him, she was like an Angel from Heaven: pure, clean and sent to brighten his gloomy existence.

Yet one didn't have a physical relationship with an angel.

And that, he knew, was what Catherine wanted. Raising his hands before his eyes, Vincent stared at them. How he hated his hands, they of the sharp nails and tawny fur that could so easily kill. He thought of the numerous times he had come home late at night, those same hands covered in other men's blood. Often he had to pick bits of skin or bone out from under his nails. That he had never told Catherine. He didn't have to. She had witnessed what he was, what he could do. Although he would give anything to spare her that sight of violence, that was a luxury he didn't possess. Again and again he was forced to take lives to protect her, the number of deaths quickly piling up.

And still she wanted him.

Vincent growled, showing his four pointed canines. How could he trust himself to love her that way? Not with these hands he couldn't. What if he were to go crazy and kill her? Injure her? No, he couldn't take that chance. Killing was becoming far too easy.

****

Elliot sat in his office behind his big desk. His hands were behind his head and his eyes were closed. He knew he should be getting some work done; yet he found himself thinking of Cathy again. He had found this morning's encounter with her humorous, especially seeing her hairy legs. He knew she had some big secret she didn't want to tell him and he respected her right to privacy, yet he couldn't help but think about it. What was her big secret? He had pondered on it many other times and never came up with anything suitable.

And why didn't Cathy love him? He thought of her hairy legs again and smiled. Maybe he was too formal for her, too stiff and pompous all the time? Did his wealth make him unapproachable? Was he scaring her away?

Elliot sighed. He was tired of being alone all the time. It didn't matter if he was in his office or at home; both were equally quite and lonely. So he ended up staying all hours locked away in his office at the top floor of his office building. He had his wealth, yes, but what good was if he had no one to share it with?

Finally deciding to do some work, he reached for the pen on his desk. As he reached, the tiny scratch on his hand caught his eyes. How had Cathy done that? Oh, he knew it had been a simple accident; she hadn't done it on purpose. But how sharp did one's nails have to be to cut skin so easily? What the heck was she doing to her nails? Filing them to points? Yet they hadn't been pointed .....

His leg itched and he bent to scratch it through the fine fabric of his trousers. The itch persisted, growing stronger. Hauling himself from the chair, he turned his back to the desk. Propping his foot on top of a stack of books, he pulled up his pant leg to see why it was itching so much. Expecting to find red from an insect bite, he found thick hair instead. The dark hair was so thick it was hard to actually find skin. "What the heck is going on here?"

A woman's laughter echoed through the room.

Elliot spun around to face his desk.

"BOO!" Shouted the strange dark haired woman kneeling on his desk, her hands flying towards his face.

He stumbled backwards to avoid her long black nails, tripping over the stack of books. His back hit the bookcase, his weight tipping it slightly. Then he fell to the floor, books raining on top of him from the shelves above. Shoving books away from himself, he stared at her in fright. He had never seen her before that he was certain of. He would have remembered. She was short and slim, yet possessed a body well cared for. She was even beautiful, but the black leather clothing made him think of rough crowds, motorcycle gangs or other unsavory characters. Could she be an assassin sent to kill him? "Who ... who are you?"

She laughed again, rearranging herself on his desk. When her laughter faded, she leaned forward. "Ahh, poor baby. Did I scare you?"

"How did you get in here?" Elliot asked as he thought of the small handgun he kept in his desk drawer. As far as he could tell, she wasn't armed. The tight clothing she wore didn't leave many options for concealing a weapon. And both of her hands were in sight. He thought about rushing her, going for the handgun he kept in his desk drawer. Her swinging legs were blocking the drawer, but if he was fast enough...but maybe that wasn't such a good idea. She couldn't have got in here by herself. What if she had a team of armed men with her? "What do you want?"

"I got in here easily. I can go anywhere I want." She told him, smiling. She started to twist a long strand of her black hair around a finger. "And as for why I came, well, I just want to talk."

"Talk?" Elliot asked as he slowly inched to his feet. He watched her carefully, but she didn't seem to care. "What do you want to talk about?"

"Your little problem." She replied. Seeing his blank look, she elaborated. "You know, your lack of a love life. HER."

"Cathy?" Elliot asked, surprised. He couldn't imagine Cathy associating with such a woman. But what if she had meant something else? "What did you do to Cathy?"

"Little O me? I didn't do her anything. It's what she did to YOU!" She wiggled her finger, urging him to come closer. "See, I know all of her secrets. And she has a very big secret. You want to know what it is, don't you? Well, I'll tell you."

"You want money, don't you?" Elliot guessed. Perhaps she was trying some form of blackmail. Or perhaps someone had hired her to badmouth Catherine. "Look, I'm not interested in hearing whatever it is. So you might as well leave. If Cathy wants to tell me things, she will."

"Oh, I don't want anything." She told him, the smile still on her lips. "It's just that, well, she infected you with a very nasty bug. I bet you're getting hairy all ready, aren't you?"

Elliot paled, his eyes going to the red scratch on his hand. His heart beat loudly in his ears.

"Hmmmmm, I see she has. Well, that's all I wanted to say." The woman hopped off Elliot's desk. She stood in front of him for a minute. The top of her head didn't even reach his chin. She tilted her head to look up into his frightened eyes. "Oh, don't worry. It won't kill you."

Elliot was silent, one hand clamped over the scratch.

"Poor baby, hiding it isn't going to make it go away." She walked around his desk until the large piece of furniture was between them. She bent and picked something off the floor. Tossing it onto his desk, he saw it was a newspaper. The front page to be exact. "She did that, you know."

Elliot followed her pointing finger to the headline.

TWO MORE BODIES FOUND TORN APART. WHAT IS LOOSE IN NEW YORK CITY?

Elliot swallowed the lump in his throat.

"Bye." She moved towards his office door and slipped out as silently as she had arrived. Grabbing his gun, Elliot hurried to the door and peered out. But she was no where in sight. He heard the sounds of other people working: soft voices, the clicking of keyboards, the tap tap tap of shoes on a smooth floor. Closing his office door, Elliot sat down to think.

****

Out on the busy street, the mysterious woman laughed. Crowds parted before her automatically, as if they sensed her powers and feared getting too close. She was confident the millionaire would believe her lies. And why not? All he needed was a shove in the right direction. She would let him come to his own conclusions. Now that the game was set in motion, she would sit back and watch the fun unfold. Hurrying around the corner, she disappeared in a sparkle of red lights.