By Thomas Mc

Chapter 6 : Beginnings

Vincent was awakened by a very faint hint of panic. This time he recognized it as coming from Naomi. He sprang out of bed, grabbed his cloak, and raced to the children's chamber. He arrived just as Naomi cried out. She awoke from her nightmare cradled in Vincent's arms as he gently rocked her and soothed her with his voice.

Finally, she looked up at him and asked, "Where are Mommy and Daddy and Jerry and Uncle Kyle? I miss them."

Vincent looked down into her teary eyes and sighed. "Naomi, we don't know where your daddy is. The rest of your family is gone. They were lost in that same car wreck when I caught you. Mary, Father and I are your family now." He pointed to all the beds in the chamber. "And these are all your brothers and sisters." He noticed that Jamie was standing at the entrance. "And Jamie also cares about you." He smoothed her hair as he held her. "We will always be here to take care of you."

Naomi thought about what Vincent had said for a few seconds then she buried her face in his chest and softly cried for a while. She knew it was true and she missed her family. She finally cried herself out and while Vincent held her she fell back to sleep.

As Vincent gently placed Naomi back in her bed, he knew she understood and was going to be all right. He pulled the covers up and tucked her in. He brushed her hair back from her face as he smiled down at her sleeping form then he turned and, nodding to Jamie, headed back to his own chamber.

~ x x x x x ~

Three days after she had gotten home from the hospital, Joe decided that Catherine was safe for the time being and informed her that he had withdrawn the guard detail. That evening after work, Catherine headed down into the tunnels. Vincent met her halfway and the first thing Catherine asked was, "How is Naomi doing?"

Vincent replied. "She's doing quite well. I told her that her family is gone and she took it better than I expected. The nightmares have tapered off and she no longer mentions her family. I think she has accepted the situation and adapted." Vincent chuckled softly. "Children that age are very resilient. What about her father, any news?"

Catherine shook her head. "Nobody knows. He's disappeared and the FBI hasn't a clue." She looked up at Vincent's face. "The agent in charge knows that I have Naomi hidden away and has left me in charge of her safety. Everybody else thinks I turned her over to him and he has her in an undisclosed safe house, so for now, I am out of it and Naomi is, unofficially, under my care. Vincent, I did have to tell him that she is with the same hidden group of people that helped me but I didn't tell him anything about who or where."

Vincent mulled over this revelation as they continued down the tunnels. He just hoped that this revelation wouldn't cause her problems later on. They managed to arrive at the dining chamber just in time for dinner and they found Naomi surrounded by Geoffrey, Jamie and Mouse. They both went over and sat with Naomi. She greeted Catherine enthusiastically and told her all about her days spent down Below. Vincent would occasionally add a remark or two of his own to Naomi's stories. Catherine also noticed the adoring looks Naomi gave Vincent whenever he spoke. After dinner, Catherine and Vincent went to the children's dorm where Naomi showed Catherine her purple jasmine candle. Then Naomi gave Catherine the candle that she had made for her.

As Catherine got ready to return home, she smiled at Vincent while nodding towards Naomi. "I see you've made a conquest there."

Vincent smiled back. "I think she has stolen a small piece of my heart."

Thinking back to her young gypsy friend from a year ago, Catherine replied, "I know how you feel."

~ o ~

Agent James McClendon finished up his report on the status of the Aaron Neal and Naomi Neal cases. There was a lot still left unanswered. He was particularly bothered by the lack of information on Naomi's missing father. They still did not know how he had disappeared from that last safe house. As a result, they had been required to shut that location down since they did not know if it had been compromised.

The three men that had attacked Miss Chandler in her elevator were recovering in the prison hospital, and would soon stand trial for a whole list of crimes, including assault and attempted kidnapping. The disgraced agent that had struck Miss Chandler, stung by jokes about being taken out by such a tiny woman, had tried to claim that they had been attacked by some type of monster. He was mockingly accused of trying to fabricate an insanity defense.

In the process of checking out Catherine Chandler, James had come across a report that the CIA has a file on her that is classified well above his ability to get access. He couldn't help but wonder what that might be about and he asked an acquaintance of his in the CIA. The acquaintance told James that, rumor had it that, a slightly shady CIA operation had crossed swords with her and still didn't know how she had beat them at their own game. James left that out of his report since he felt it had no bearing on the current case but he thought it wise to keep the CIA failure in mind if he ever crossed her path again.

James placed the finished report in its folder then he picked up a snapshot that had arrived in the mail yesterday. He couldn't help but smile as he looked at the pleasant scene displayed in the photograph. It showed Catherine Chandler holding the hand of a sweet faced little girl and they were both sporting big happy grins. In the little girl's free hand was a red snow cone and in the background behind them was the Central Park Carousel. The only flaw in the happy little scene was the, well developed, black eye that Catherine was not quite hiding under a hat and veil. He carefully stowed the picture away in his private file.

In the final analysis, all he knew for sure was that Catherine Chandler had been very helpful in this current case as well as taking the major problem of what to do about Naomi off his hands and he was grateful to her. Somehow he suspected that this wouldn't be the last he saw of that remarkable woman and he looked forward to his next chance to solve some of the mystery that surrounded her.

He was especially curious about the unknown person named Vincent that Joe Maxwell had mentioned. He had noticed Vincent's name and message on the inside of the book of Shakespeare sonnets and the rather poignant poem that had been bookmarked. He suspected that Vincent was closely tied to that mysterious group she had mentioned and he thought that there was definitely some kind of special connection between him and Miss Chandler.

He signed off his report and put away the official file on the incident. Then after a moment to again look at the picture, he put away his private file in a safe hidden location and turned to the rest of the active cases on his desk.


'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.

The original Father's Day by Lynette Combs can be found at :
http:/www . beautyandthebeast-tv . com/bluebird/library/library . htm
or at; http:/jacalyns . u28 . nozonenet . com/