By Thomas Mc

Authors Note: - ( I have made a few corrections and enhancements to this story, and broken it up into chapters but the basic story has not changed.) - This is my take on how the young child Naomi, who appears in other stories including the 'Father's Day' story by Lynette Combs, was originally rescued by Vincent and brought into the tunnel community. It also sets some things in motion that will resurface in my 'Though Lovers Be Lost (Revised)' story.

Chapter 1 : Rescue

It was late evening as Catherine and Vincent were walking in the park enjoying their view of the lights on the George Washington Bridge. The night air was ripe with mystery as they talked about Kristopher Gentian's painting of the two of them together. The question of its existence had been haunting Catherine for several days. The more she investigated the circumstances surrounding the painting and its creator the more impossible it all became. Catherine was shaking her head as she related the latest results of her investigation. "This morning I pulled the original report on Kristopher Gentian's death and as near as I can tell, the description and pictures both match the person I met." She shrugged. "Either that was really a ghost we met or Kristopher had an unknown identical twin brother. It's getting harder to maintain my" . . .

The sound of screeching tires shattered the quiet and they both turned to see two cars come racing around a corner a few blocks away. Vincent melted back into the shadows as Catherine, after a quick glance in his direction, stepped over against a nearby tree. A tan station wagon followed by a large dark sedan raced towards them. Catherine saw the muzzle flashes from the passenger window of the sedan as several shots rang out in quick succession. The station wagon swerved across the road to the left, hit the curb and bounced back towards the other side clipping the front of the sedan. The dark sedan went out of control, jumped the curb and smashed head on into a tree about forty feet up the road from her position. The station wagon hit the curb and was suddenly flipping through the air. Catherine spotted a bundle flying out of the shattered back window as Vincent came sprinting up from behind her. He made a prodigious running leap, caught the bundle in mid air and came down landing in a tuck and roll, protecting the bundle he had just caught. The station wagon landed upside down and with a screech of tearing metal, slid sideways into the tree where Catherine had been standing just moments earlier. As the wagon hit the ground she had caught a glimpse of three people inside just before diving out of the way. It took a few seconds for Catherine to recover from the shock of such a close call then she scrambled over to the mangled wagon.

The smell of hot oil and antifreeze hit her as she tried to see inside. From what she could see past the crushed and twisted roof, all three occupants appeared to be dead. Hard as she tried, it was impossible for her to reach any of them through the twisted wreckage.

Getting up she ran over to Vincent just as he carefully came back up to his feet. There in his arms was a small crying child wrapped in a blanket. The child had long pale blond hair, blue grey eyes and appeared to be around four or five years old. In the child's face was a look of equal parts shock, pain and fear.

Vincent looked up at Catherine. "She is in a great deal of pain."

Catherine responded. "You had better get back out of sight. I have to check on the other car."

Vincent held the child close and began talking to her in his most soothing tones as he moved over to the nearby entrance to the tunnels.

Catherine ran up the road and checked on the occupants of the sedan. The driver had smashed his head on the steering wheel. He was unconscious, both his legs appeared to be broken and his face was badly messed up but he was still alive. The man on the passenger's side had gone halfway through the front windshield and was completely trapped with his arms pinned to his side. He was still conscious and cursing a blue streak as he was struggling to get free. Catherine checked him over as best as she could. He was bleeding but it didn't appear too serious yet, however his struggling was making it worse.

"It's no big deal to me, but you're already loosing blood." Catherine warned him. "If you continued to struggle like that you will only make matters a lot worse and end up bleeding to death before the police and paramedics can arrive. If you stay still and calm you should be okay. Oh, I haven't identified myself." Her eyes got very cold as she continued. "I work for the New York District Attorney's Office and I will be more than happy to use anything you say against you at your murder trial." She then listed his rights just to be sure correct procedure was followed. He shouted a few threats at her, which she carefully wrote down in her note book. He finally quieted down once he realized the hopelessness of his situation.

At this point, a car approaching from the other direction stopped. Inside it was a man and a woman. The driver got out and was looking at the scene like he was trying to decide what to do. Then he called out. "Do you need help?"

Catherine called out to him. "Yes, my name is Catherine Chandler with the New York District Attorney's office." She walked up to him and showed her identification. "I need to see some ID please?" The man showed her his license. She wrote down his name and address "Thank-you, sir." And handed it back. "I need you to go to that building up the street and call the police." She gave him one of her cards. "Give them my name and report a shoot-out and a fatal car crash with at least two seriously injured survivors."

"Yes, ma'am." He replied. "What then?"

"Then you go on about whatever you were doing." Catherine responded. "Someone from the police or the DA's office will contact you later to get your statement." She glanced over at the worried young woman. "Since you arrived on the scene well after the fact, I doubt that you will have any involvement beyond your statement."

After they left, Catherine went back to check on the two men. They were both still alive and the gunman had finally quit struggling. She searched the sedan and found several guns on the floor of the car but they were out of reach for the two men so she left them alone. Next she ran down to the tunnel entrance where she found Vincent waiting for her.

The little girl had stopped crying. She looked like she couldn't decide whether or not to start crying again and there was even a hint of wonder as she stared up into Vincent's face.

Vincent looked up at Catherine then back down at the little girl he was holding. "My name is Vincent. What is your name?"

The little girl didn't respond to his question. She just continued to look back and forth between Catherine and Vincent. She looked like she would break into tears at any moment.

Catherine gently touched the girls shoulder. "My name is Catherine. Won't you tell us your name?" She asked plaintively.

The girl still looked frightened but she finally responded. "Naomi."

Catherine patted the little girls shoulder to reassure her. "Don't worry Naomi." She smiled at the child. "Vincent will protect you. No one would dare hurt you while you're with him." Catherine looked up at Vincent. "Vincent, you'd better get out of here before the police arrive."

Suddenly Naomi looked around. "Where's Mommy and Daddy?"

Catherine looked at Naomi's solemn face then took Naomi's hand and replied. "Don't you worry about your family, honey." The extent of the tragedy brought a lump to Catherine's throat and threatened to overwhelm her but she fought to remain calm for Naomi's sake. "I'll do everything I can for them. For now you just go with Vincent. He'll take very good care of you." Then Catherine looked up at Vincent. "Take her straight to Father and have him take care of her injuries." Catherine nodded her head towards the two wrecked cars. "I'll deal with the police and take care of this mess."

Naomi looked like she could start crying again at any minute. "My arm and my leg hurt."

Catherine asked. "How bad do they hurt, Naomi?"

Naomi winced in pain then replied. "My arm hurts some." She looked from Vincent to Catherine then winced again, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. "My leg hurts real bad."

Vincent looked at Catherine his expression uncertain. "Wouldn't you rather take her to the hospital?"

Catherine shook her head. "No. This looked like a professional hit on an entire family. Until I know what really happened here and why, it will probably be best if you keep Naomi Below with you. That way I know she'll be safe until I can sort this out." She put her hand on Vincent's arm. "Tomorrow I'll see what I can find out about this at work. If anything urgent comes up I'll send you a message, otherwise I'll meet you at the basement access of my building tomorrow night right after I get home and tell you what I found out." She gave Naomi's little hand a squeeze and then she gave Vincent a partial hug. "I'll see you tomorrow night."

As Vincent headed down into the tunnels with Naomi, Catherine ran back up to keep an eye on the two survivors and wait for the police and paramedics to arrive.

~ o ~

After leaving Catherine, Vincent made his way down as quickly as he could without jarring Naomi's leg too much. As he was running through the tunnels Vincent's empathic sense of Naomi had gotten stronger. He knew how much she was hurting so he kept talking to Naomi to keep her mind off her pain and to sooth her fears.

At one point out of the blue Naomi asked Vincent shyly. "Mister, are you a good monster or a bad monster?"

Vincent stopped running, startled by her question, and looked down at her wide eyed innocent face for a few seconds. The way she had phrased her question had taken him completely off guard. Then he chuckled as he shook his head. "I guess I'm a good monster. I would never hurt little children and I protect children from others who might try to harm them." He paused a moment. "And you can call me Vincent."

"Okay." She apparently accepted his statement then another stab of pain shot up her leg bringing tears to her eyes. "My leg hurts."

"I know it does," Vincent replied. "While we're stopped, let's take a quick look at it."

Vincent carefully set Naomi down on the tunnel floor. Using one claw he cut open the leg of her pants and examined the injured leg. There was a large ugly looking bruise but the skin was not broken. Vincent suspected that there may be a fracture but he couldn't be sure. Turning around, Vincent banged out a quick urgent message on a nearby pipe, alerting Father of his impending arrival with a wounded child. Vincent turned and half smiled at Naomi. "It looks like you banged up your leg pretty good but I think it will be okay. I'm taking you to my father. He's a doctor."

Naomi looked up at Vincent, her eyes very solemn. "Is your father a monster too?"

Vincent picked her up as he replied. "No. My father is normal, just like you."

"Oh." Vincent could sense that Naomi was slightly disappointed by his answer. "I like your fur," she stated as she stroked the fur on his neck. "It's soft and cuddly like my teddy bear." Then she put her arms around his neck and looked intently at his face as he took off running again. Several times she whimpered in pain. Vincent kept talking to her, telling her that it wouldn't be much longer.

Shortly after they passed the outer sentry, Naomi asked. "Why'd you bang on the pipe?"

Glancing down at her, Vincent replied. "I was sending a message to Father to let him know that we are coming."

"Oh." Naomi stated simply then buried her head against Vincent's chest.

~ o ~

Back on the surface, the police and rescue units had arrived. Catherine walked up to the police car. "Officer, I'm Catherine Chandler of the New York District Attorney's Office and I'm the one who witnessed this." She handed the police officer her card. "First I need to tell you that there are several guns in the sedan. Both gunmen in the sedan are injured but still alive. I tried to be very careful not to disturb the scene."

Another car pulled up. A plain clothes detective got out and took over control of the crime scene. He took her card and her preliminary statement while a team of paramedics checked the occupants of the station wagon. Meanwhile the other officers and rescue workers began the process of getting the two men out of the wrecked sedan. It was quickly determined that the occupants of the wagon were all dead. By the time the first emergency team got over to the sedan, the driver had been loaded onto a stretcher and was being rolled over to the ambulance. The other man was still trapped in the windshield and had passed out but the firemen had almost finished removing the glass around him.

Catherine spoke again to the detective in charge. "I would appreciate it very much if you could get a copy of your preliminary report to my desk by this morning, Detective." Catherine knew that her looks and her reputation helped her get things from people and she didn't hesitate to use them when necessary to get what she wanted.

"I'll do my best, Miss Chandler," responded the detective.

Catherine replied. "That will be great. And thank you."

Just then the coroner's wagon arrived. Catherine hung around for the next couple of hours to oversee all the activity and make sure all of the evidence was properly preserved. She kept a personal log of every piece of evidence as it was gathered, bagged and labeled. When the cars, bodies and evidence had all been taken away, the officer, that had been the first to show up, offered Catherine a ride home. It was very late and she was very tired so she accepted his offer.

On the way he asked her. "I just have to ask, how did you end up so far from your home?"

Catherine had been expecting this question and had a ready answer. She shrugged. "Woolgathering while jogging."

The officer chuckled. "Done that once or twice myself." He pulled over and stopped. "Here we are."

She thanked him as she got out and he wished her a good night. As the police car pulled away, she looked down at herself and mumbled, "Yea Chandler you always go jogging in your nice clothes. Sweat suit must be at the cleaners." She shook her head as she entered her building.

After she got to her apartment, Catherine suddenly succumbed to a violent case of the shakes. She had come within inches of being crushed against the tree by that station wagon. Exerting all her will she slowly got herself under control. She didn't want to disturb Vincent with foolish hysterics now. To get her mind off her close call, Catherine wrote up as accurate of an account of what she had witnessed as she could. The only thing she left out was any mention of Vincent or Naomi. Then she went back over it very carefully to be sure she included everything she wanted in and excluded everything she wanted left out. After double checking her report and her evidence notes, she finally changed into her nightgown and went to bed. She thought about Vincent and fell asleep with a pleasant warm feeling.

~ o ~

Vincent carried Naomi into the infirmary where Jacob and Mary were already waiting. "Father, Mary, this is Naomi. She was injured in a very bad car accident next to the park." As he set her down on the examining table he gave her his usual half smile that wouldn't show his teeth. "Naomi, this is Father and Mary. Father will fix up your leg."

Vincent kept talking to Naomi in his soothing voice while Jacob examined her. He gave Naomi an injection to dull the pain then worked on her leg placing it in a splint and wrapping it up. As he worked on her he explained what he was doing and why. Next he treated and bandaged the various cuts, scrapes and bruises she had acquired in the crash. After he was finished, he patted Naomi on her head. "You're going to have to stay off that leg for a while but otherwise you're going to be fine." Mary took over amusing Naomi while Vincent took Father aside to talk to him.

"How is she?" Vincent asked.

"She has a broken tibia, but fortunately it's a clean break and there was no displacement of the bone. The arm has a bad bruise but the bone isn't broken. She has several minor scrapes and cuts but none of them are serious. That pain killer I gave her will help ease her anxiety a little bit and make her sleep tonight." He paused a moment looking back at Mary and Naomi. "How did this happen?"

Vincent described the events surrounding Naomi's rescue and the death of her family.

Jacob shook his head. "Sometimes I find it incredible that people can be so evil." The look on his face reflected deep sorrow. "To lose her entire family like that. She seems to be holding up pretty well, considering what she's been through." Then he looked at Vincent. "What do you intend to do about her?"

"Catherine thought it would be safer for Naomi to stay Below with us, at least until she can find out who Naomi is and what exactly was going on with those people in the station wagon and the gunmen that were chasing them." Vincent looked back at Naomi. "We do not know yet if she has any family left."

Jacob thought for a minute. "I hate to admit it, but she's probably right about that. Although, if Catherine finds other family members, it may be a little awkward getting Naomi back to them." Jacob glanced over his shoulder towards Naomi then back at Vincent. "I want to keep an eye on those two big bruises. She should be okay but she needs to keep off that leg as much as possible."

Vincent nodded his head. "I'll make sure she stays off it." He paused. "Tomorrow evening I'm to meet Catherine at her basement entrance so she can tell me what she found out. Then we will have a better idea what to do about her."

Mary came over carrying Naomi. "Naomi's staying the night with me."

Jacob looked down at Naomi. "That sounds like a good idea to me." He patted her head. "Tomorrow she can meet some of the other children and go to class with Vincent. Would you like that, Naomi?"

Naomi looked up at Jacob and nodded. "Uh-huh."

Vincent half smiled at Naomi. "May I give you a lift to Mary's chamber?"

"Okay." Naomi replied drowsily. The pain killer was catching up with her.

Mary, Vincent and Naomi headed off to Mary's chamber.

~ o ~

Vincent was just dozing off when he was awakened by a feeling of sudden panic. By the time he had reached his door he could feel Catherine's emotional state being brought under control then he felt chagrin coming from her. Whatever the problem had been, Catherine was no longer feeling threatened. After Vincent returned to his bed, he detected another very faint hint of panic. This time it wasn't coming from Catherine but he couldn't pinpoint the source, then he heard a child cry out.

Continued in Part 2

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.