Though Lovers Be Lost (revised)
By Thomas Mc


Season 3 Episode 1 - Into the Darkness

The ambient light kept getting dimmer and the swirling mist became thicker as Catherine followed the sounds of Vincent's growling, punctuated by occasional roars. Soon she could no longer see ahead and she started to get frantic. Then her hand brushed her coat pocket and she felt something solid and heavy. She breathed a momentary sigh of relief as she discovered the flashlight, she had forgotten was there, and she pulled it out. Her relief was cut short by the sounds of Vincent's anguish coming from up ahead. She was reminded of the time, just a little over a year ago, when he had been poisoned by that horrible drug that Paracelsus had been making and selling. This time it was different, though. The timbre of Vincent's growling filled her with dread; not for herself but for Vincent. This time there was more anguish than rage in Vincent's roars.

The mist in this part of the lower catacombs limited the range of her flashlight and made it impossible for her to see more than ten feet. As Catherine slowly worked her way down the dark irregular corridors, she was drawn irresistibly forward by the sound of Vincent's voice from up ahead. When she had arrived Jacob had tried to stop her from coming in after Vincent but she knew she had to go to him. He needed her and she needed him. She knew by the increasing clarity of the sounds that she was getting close, and she fought down the desire to run blindly towards the sound of his voice. Up ahead, the tunnel made a sharp turn to the left. She knew that he must be just beyond that turn.

Catherine rounded the corner and the vision that was illuminated by her flashlight, nearly made her heart stop with fear as it tore a heart-rending scream from her. "VINCENT! . . . NO!"

Fifteen feet in front of her, Vincent was half crouched in a dead end corner; his eyes wide open ablaze with madness, his claws at his own throat. A trickle of blood flowed from where his claws were pressing in. He looked up startled at her scream.

Desperate, Catherine acted without thinking and, dropping her flashlight, she nearly dove at Vincent. The last thing she saw before the flashlight hit the floor and flickered out was a look of despairing anguish in his sapphire eyes. Then there was only darkness as she hit him in the mid section and threw her arms around him. Pushing upward with all her strength, she forced her head and then her whole body upward between his claws and his throat. The sound of ripping cloth accompanied the sharp pain as his claws scraped down her back before he could uncurl his fingers. Pulling her arms up through his, she threw them around his neck while wrapping her legs around his waist. Her actions took less than two seconds but for her an eternity had just passed.

In the darkness, Catherine locked her arms and her feet behind him. She clung to him with all the strength she could muster from her petite frame as she fought his desperate attempts to dislodge her. Vincent was very strong and Catherine could feel her endurance draining fast. She hissed into his ear, "You're not going without me." She was determined that the only way he was going to turn those claws on himself would be by tearing his way through her body and she knew he would never do that. "I'm not going to live in this world without you." She growled at him. Her words and her passion beat against his mind as his legs buckled and Vincent slowly collapsed to the floor. Then the only sound was their ragged breathing.

For what seemed like hours, they lay there in the dark, her clinging to him as he half-heartedly continued to try to free himself. Her greatest weapon in this struggle was her unshakable belief that he could never hurt her no matter what. Finally, the fight went completely out of him as he ceased to struggle. After he stopped trying to push her off, Catherine began to softly talk to him. "I'm here now Vincent . . . I'm not going to leave you . . . Everything's going to be all right . . ." She poured all of her love and desire into the darkness as her soft gentle voice droned on. "I love you, Vincent . . . I will never leave you and I know you can never harm me . . . I could not live without you . . . I need you, Vincent." In the darkness, she continued to calm and reassure him with her words and her voice. Slowly she felt his steel hard body begin to relax and his breathing become more regular. Then his arms went around her and came to rest across her lower back. She felt a delicious shiver of contentment pass through her to have his arms around her and she kissed the top of his head. Shortly after that, he went completely limp.

When she was sure he had retreated into unconsciousness, she called out to Jacob as loudly as she dared. "Father, I could use a little help in here." Catherine's endurance was so totally spent that she did not even have the strength left to unwrap herself from around Vincent. She could feel the sting of the scratches on her back more intensely now, but she didn't care. All that mattered was getting help for Vincent.

Now that she was no longer fixated on her battle to save Vincent Catherine looked around but all she saw was total darkness. Only the occasional ghostly sparks that the human eye creates in total darkness interrupted the unbroken blackness. Where were they? Time seemed to stretch out interminably, there in the dark. As she lay there in the inky blackness, she could feel that old, childhood fear-of-the-dark, rising within her, threatening to engulf her mind with blind panic if she let it. She concentrated on the rise and fall of Vincent's chest and the feel of his pulse against her arm to keep the fear at bay. Why hadn't they come yet? She tried whispering more words of encouragement to Vincent to distract herself, but still the darkness pulled at her fear made worse by her worry for Vincent. Damn it, where were they. Finally, she saw a glimmer of light off to her left. She sighed and laid her head down in relief. "Soon my beloved, we will bring you back home." She whispered to him.

When Jacob and the others arrived, they found Vincent flat on his back on the ground and unconscious. Catherine had her arms and legs wrapped around him and her head was resting on the ground next to Vincent's head, her shoulder covering the lower half of his face. The back of her coat and her sweater were shredded and eight long bloody wounds ran from her shoulders halfway down her back. Vincent's head was pressed against her shoulder and his arms lay crossed over her lower back.

They gently untangled Catherine and Vincent from each other as Jamie and Mouse arrived with a litter. It took Cullen, William, Kanin and Mouse together to lift and carry Vincent. When they discovered that Catherine could barely stand up on her own power, Jacob and Jamie helped support her. Together they brought Vincent and Catherine back towards the central chambers.

As they got close to Vincent's chamber, Jacob tried to lead Catherine off to the infirmary. "No, I have to stay with him." She protested as she tried desperately to follow the litter with Vincent on it. Jacob and Jamie finally relented and helped her follow the litter to Vincent's chamber where they settled her into the oversized chair next to Vincent's bed.

About ten minutes later Jacob returned with his medical supplies. At Catherine's insistence, he treated Vincent's injuries first. They looked bad but, fortunately, Catherine had stopped Vincent before he had hurt himself too seriously. Next Jacob turned to Catherine. It hurt him to see the damage that Vincent's claws had caused, reminding him of when Vincent was young and had accidentally hurt that other young girl, Lisa. That accident had hurt Vincent very deeply and it had taken Catherine's help before he was able to finally put the incident behind him. The thing Jacob feared most was what this would do to Vincent when he realized what he had done to Catherine. He was afraid that it could very well destroy Vincent. Catherine's coat and sweater were badly torn and smeared with blood. It was easier to just cut them off. Then her ripped bra simply fell off of her. She winced in pain as Jacob cleaned and treated the damage on her back but she didn't cry out. The wounds were not as bad as he had first feared. Just a couple of stitches were needed at the top of each wound, near the shoulders, where they were deepest. Further down her back they were barely more than scratches. It looked like her clothes had absorbed most of the damage. Finally, he had bandaged her wounds and then he gave her a shot of antibiotic to prevent any chance of infection. He placed a thick soft blanket across Catherine's shoulders and packed up his medical bag.

"You should be okay. His claws are so sharp that the flesh was cut rather than torn," he told her as he collected the torn remnants of her clothes. "I'll check back later to see how you both are doing." He started to turn towards the doorway.

Suddenly Catherine grabbed Jacob's arm, turning him back around and making him look her straight in the eyes, her expression dead serious. "Father, he must not hear of this." The strength of her grip surprised him. "Promise me, when it becomes necessary to explain my back, let me do it in my own way. I want you to understand, this was not Vincent's fault." Her eyes were pleading for his acceptance, then they became steel hard. "It was my actions that caused those injuries. He must not blame himself for this. I won't allow it."

Startled by the strength of conviction in her eyes and the steel in her voice, Jacob acquiesced. "I promise he will not hear of this from me." Once he had given his word, her hand fell away and she slumped in on herself as if she had expended every last bit of her energy reserves in that plea. Jacob resettled the blanket that had fallen from her shoulders and left, taking the ruined clothing with him.

Catherine gazed over at the sleeping form, longing for his company yet fearing his reaction to what he had done to her back. 'No!' She corrected herself. 'What I have done to myself.' She shook her head. 'This was not Vincent's doing.' She would never let either of them blame him for her injuries. In addition, she swore to herself that she would never let anyone else blame him either. She repeated the phrases over and over in her mind drumming the message firmly home into her consciousness. She would not let herself blame him, even by way of a stray unintended thought. Once she felt that she had settled that in her own mind, she continued to stare at him, willing him to recover and return to her.

Twenty minutes later Jamie brought her a clean shirt and sweater to replace her torn and bloodied clothes. Catherine was so weak that she could not even get the new shirt on so Jamie dressed her as if she was a large toy doll.

Catherine touched Jamie's hand to get her attention and extracted the same pledge that she had gotten from Jacob. Jamie could not resist Catherine's pleas and gave her promise. She placed the blanket back around Catherine's shoulders and left with a vow to come back by later to see how they were doing.

A short time later, Vincent started to thrash around in his sleep. Catherine shifted over from the chair to Vincent's bed, and then she simply let herself fall over across his body. Reaching over she gently touched his cheek. Almost immediately, Vincent quieted down. Catherine had no strength left to get back over to the chair so, after laying there for a while to marshal her remaining strength, she finally managed to work herself over him to his other side and settled herself next to his side. At this point all she cared about was being there for him regardless of what the others thought about her being in his bed. Laying her hand upon his chest and her head upon his shoulder, she slowly dozed off.

The next time Jacob stopped by, several hours later, he found Catherine laying in Vincent's bed, cuddled up against his side her back to the stained glass sunrise with her head on his chest and his right hand clasped in both of hers. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to be asleep. Jacob stood there for a long while, unsure how he should react to the scene before him. Finally, unwilling to disturb her much needed rest, he was about to turn around and quietly leave when Vincent growled and stirred in his sleep. Catherine's eyes instantly popped open. She shushed at him as she reached up and caressed his cheek with one hand. The other hand was still clutching Vincent's right hand. "It's okay," She murmured so quietly that Jacob could barely hear her. "I love you, Vincent, and I'm still here with you." Vincent settled back down. She brought the hand she was clutching up to kiss it, sighed softly and then her eyes closed again, her free hand now resting on his shoulder. She never saw Jacob standing there watching that little interlude nor did she hear him quietly turn and leave the chamber.

As Jacob headed back to his own chamber he mulled over what he had just witnessed and what had happened down in the lower tunnels. That girl, he thought, had more courage, determination and compassion than he had ever seen in anyone except Vincent himself. Moreover, her devotion to Vincent was far stronger that he had ever thought possible. He thought of all the times she had come to Vincent's aid. Then he thought of all the times she had come to the aid of nearly everyone in the community, putting everything she had, including her own future, on the line for them. He realized that she had made herself a permanent place in their lives and they were all the better for it. She was as much a part of this community as Vincent or Jamie or any of the others who actually lived down here. Even their most loyal helpers from Above were not as closely tied to the community as she had become. Despite all the problems it posed, even Vincent was better off with her in his life. Only Catherine could have pulled him back from the abyss he had been falling into.

Then Jacob stopped suddenly and chuckled as he muttered irreverently to himself. "Never thought I'd catch Vincent with a girl in his bed." The thing that surprised him the most wasn't the presence of a girl but the realization that he was glad to have that particular girl lying there by Vincent's side. Somehow, it had just seemed so right, like she belonged there. Amazed at his own thoughts, still chuckling and shaking his head, he continued towards his own chamber.

Later on, Jamie stopped by to bring Catherine a small cup of William's soup and a cup of hot tea. Catherine opened her eyes at the aroma coming from the hot soup. Jamie looked at them for a moment then she commented on how cozy they both looked lying there together. Catherine smiled shyly, a faint blush spreading across her cheeks.

"Jamie, will you do something for me?" she asked.

"Sure, Catherine, anything you want," Jamie replied. "What do you need?"

Catherine gave her the phone number to Joe's office, which Jamie wrote down, then asked. "Jamie, will you call that number in the morning for me? Tell Joe that you are a friend of mine and that I am very ill with the flu and will be out for a few days."

Jamie agreed. "Sure, I can do that for you." She started to leave, then stopped and turned back. "You know, you belong there beside him." Then, blushing furiously, Jamie quickly left the room before Catherine could respond.

When Mouse stopped by, he was very worried and it took a while for Catherine to reassure him. "Vincent will be OK, Mouse. I'm not going to let anything happen to him. I promise you, I will take good care of him." She reassured him. "But I need you to promise me something." She looked at him sternly. "You must promise me that you will never tell anyone, especially Vincent, what happened to me down there." She was making her voice as persuasive as she could. "If Vincent ever found out, it would destroy him."

Mouse hung his head. "I promise, Catherine."

"Thank you Mouse." She smiled at him. "Don't worry, Vincent will be fine. We will all see to that."

Finally, Mouse felt somewhat reassured and with a parting, "Okay good, okay fine," he left.

All through that night, Catherine kept vigil over Vincent. She slept whenever she could but she came awake instantly whenever Vincent moved. Several times Vincent become restless and each time Catherine would wake up and soothe him with her voice and her touch. She didn't think she got more than a few hours of sleep the whole night. Sometime during the middle of the night, Catherine found herself thinking that she really liked lying in Vincent's bed cuddled up against his side and somehow she was going to find a way to make this their normal state. Once Vincent began to thrash around violently and Catherine had to hold on tightly until he calmed down.

Jacob would occasionally look in on them just to check both of their condition. Each time he would leave feeling reassured that Vincent was safe under Catherine's loving care.

~ x x x x x ~

By the next morning, the whole community had heard about Catherine's rescue of Vincent. Throughout the day, many of them came to see Catherine and Vincent. Catherine would either be sitting on the edge of Vincent's bed or in the chair next to it. The visitors were all as concerned over Catherine's welfare as they were about Vincent. Apparently, a rumor had gone around that Catherine had injured herself in the dark tunnels when she went in to rescue Vincent. She assured them that it was just a minor scrape and not important. Though they accepted that she was okay, they could all tell that she was still exhausted. Jamie brought little Naomi by around mid morning because she had heard the rumors and become afraid that Vincent and Catherine would go away just like her family had a few months ago. Catherine assured Naomi that she and Vincent were going to be fine and would both be around for a long time to come. Then she gave Naomi a hug and sent her on her way.

From what Catherine could tell, only Jacob, Jamie, Mouse and four others knew the truth about her injuries and they apparently were keeping silent. Catherine extracted the same pledge from each of them that she had gotten from Jacob, Jamie and Mouse.

Once, shortly before noon, Vincent started to thrash around violently, nearly knocking Catherine out of the bed before she could calm him down.

At around one in the afternoon, Peter Alcott came by with some news about the earlier blood tests they had done on Vincent. "I started thinking about when Paracelsus used that terrible drug of his on Vincent last year. So I went back and rechecked his blood sample. I discovered traces of a fungus infecting Vincent's blood which had apparently skewed the original blood test results. It looks like it may be the same fungus that Paracelsus had been using to make that drug of his over a year ago. Paracelsus probably infected him when they fought five days ago. I'm pretty sure that the infection was what brought on Vincent's madness. This happened once before when Vincent was young. It could have been this same fungus that caused that attack as well. I decided to come down and take another blood sample to retest."

Vincent was so deeply asleep, he didn't notice when Peter took the new blood sample. As he was putting away his instruments and preparing to leave, Peter noticed some small bloodstains on the back of Catherine's shirt. "Cathy! You've got blood on your shirt."

"I injured myself while helping Vincent." Catherine explained. "It's no big deal."

Peter responded, "It's bleeding. It needs to be treated." He would brook no resistance and had her remove her shirt. Then he got a look at the eight long wounds and his eyebrows went up. "Injured . . . yourself?"

Catherine looked at him, her face and voice dead serious. "I injured myself." Her tone implied that she would accept no other explanation.

Peter had known Catherine long enough to know that there was no point arguing with her when she used that tone. Deciding not to question her, Peter cleaned and treated the area where the wounds on her back had reopened, then helped her change into a clean shirt. Afterwards he went straight to Jacob's chamber to get the details.

"Jacob, what exactly happened to Cathy? I saw her back." Peter demanded.

"I'm not completely sure. By the time we got there, Vincent was unconscious." Peter listened amazed and horrified as Jacob went on to describe the scene that had greeted them in that deep chamber. Jacob looked up from his desk at Peter. "She couldn't even stand up on her own yet she refused to let herself be separated from Vincent's side. She even slept with her head on his chest so that she was instantly there when he became restless." He shook his head as his earlier thoughts resurfaced. "I never thought I would actually be happy to find Vincent with a woman in his bed but in this case it seems to be exactly what he needs most and I'm glad she's there."

Peter finally smiled. "I always knew Cathy was a very special girl."

Jacob nodded. "I think I'm beginning to agree with that assessment."

After telling Jacob his thoughts about the fungus and exchanging a few bits of news, Peter headed back up.

During that second night, Vincent had begun to sleep more peacefully, only becoming restless eight or nine times, but Catherine was always there by his side to calm him.

~ x x x x x ~

The next morning Jacob found that Catherine was rested and much stronger. After checking Vincent, he checked the wounds on Catherine's back. "How does it look, Father?" Catherine asked anxiously.

"They aren't as bad as I feared. They're healing very well and there doesn't appear to be any infection." Jacob cleaned the wounds and changed the bandages then helped her put her shirt and sweater back on. "There should be very little scarring."

Catherine caught and held his eyes. "I meant what I said day before yesterday. He must not be told of this. Let me deal with it when the time comes."

Jacob nodded his acceptance and understanding then left the chamber.

Around lunchtime, Jamie again brought Naomi by to see them. Naomi asked, "Why does he sleep so much?"

Catherine answered, "Vincent does that when he is healing himself. He will wake up when he is better."

Late that evening Peter came in. "I've got some good news. The concentration of the infection in Vincent has dropped dramatically. His system is definitely fighting it off. I also found out that penicillin is very effective against the fungus."

"Then it is the fungus that causes these attacks." Catherine was overjoyed at the news. "That means it is treatable."

"Yes, it is." He gave Vincent a penicillin shot. "That should speed up his recovery." Then he left to tell Jacob the news.

Except for Jacob, Peter, Jamie and Naomi, the rest of the community stayed away to give Catherine and Vincent plenty of quiet rest that day. Catherine decided that despite what Father might think, she would continue to sleep in Vincent's bed where she could be immediately available if he needed her. Besides she liked being there. That third night Vincent only stirred in his sleep four times.

~ x x x x x ~

It was around mid-morning of the fourth day that Vincent finally woke up. The first thing he was aware of was someone gripping his hand, and then he became aware of a weight on his chest that suddenly lifted. When he opened his eyes, he saw it was Catherine as she raised her head and looked back at him. "Welcome back, Vincent." She reached up and caressed his cheek. "I've been so very worried about you."

The touch of her hand felt so good against his cheek. Vincent felt more at peace than he had for a long time as he gazed into her eyes. "Catherine, what's going on?" He asked as he realized that they were both in his bed together.

Catherine held his hand in both of hers and gave him a reassuring squeeze. "Paracelsus got you with some of that poison fungus of his and you've been out of it for a while." She drew his hand to her cheek where he could see her eyes glistening with unshed tears. "But you're back with me now," She lightly kissed his hand, "and Peter says that you will soon be as good as new."

Suddenly a stricken expression crossed his face. "The bond is gone." He shook his head. "I have no sense of you at all. Even my normal sense is gone."

She gripped his hand tighter. "It doesn't matter. I'm still here, love. I'm not going anywhere." She gave his hand another squeeze. "As long as you can feel this. . ." She placed one of her hands on his chest over his heart. "And this. . . " She pulled the hand that she was gripping to her own chest directly between her breasts. "We'll be fine." Just as he became aware of exactly where she had placed his hand she lifted it up and again kissed the back of that hand. She felt his other hand come up around her back. She did her best to ignore the sting as his arm moved across where she was injured. She smiled at him. "It's probably just a side effect of the poison. I'm sure your sense and our bond will return with time." Even with the sting of her wounds, having his arm around her back as she lay there still felt so good she wanted to cry for joy. "All that matters is that I have you back and I have no intention of ever letting you go." The smile she gave him was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud.

Vincent's brows furrowed in concentration. "The only thing I remember is hearing you scream my name and a blinding light, then darkness." He looked at her worried about what he might have done to cause her to scream.

Catherine knew what she said next could be critical. "I was so afraid that I was about to lose you." She now had tears leaking from her eyes at the truth of her statement. "The thought of being without you was more than I could stand." She threw her arms around his chest and hugged him fiercely despite the pain in her back. "I'm so glad to finally have you back." Once again, Vincent became acutely aware that they were both lying in his bed together and he started to become self-conscious about it. Sensing his mood, Catherine got out of bed to get him a glass of water.

As he watched her walk away, he noticed some dark red spots on the back of her shirt. Then he realized that he could smell the faint odor of blood. "Catherine, there's blood on your back." Fear of what he might have done to her came flooding back, threatening to overwhelm him.

Hearing the panic in his voice, it took all of her self-control to maintain an air of unconcern and not drop the pitcher she was holding as she thought fast. "Oh, that? I injured myself in the dark. You know those tunnel walls are pretty rough down there." She carefully lied without actually lying. "Next time you decide to go away, I wish you would pick a place with more light. My eyes aren't as good as yours." This was one time when she was glad he could not sense her feelings. Once she had herself under control, she took the glass to him and sat on the edge of his bed.

Vincent had lost most of his memory of the last week, as well as the bond he shared with Catherine, but he would live. Catherine stayed with him the rest of that day, reading to him when he was awake, watching over him when he was asleep. She also sent a message to Jamie to bring Naomi by, so she could see that Vincent was okay. Naomi was overjoyed and climbed into Vincent's lap to give him a big hug.

Once he fell asleep that night, Catherine again climbed into his bed and continued to sleep with him so that she would feel it when he stirred. Four times that night he awoke from nightmares of sinking into a dark morass. Each time she was there to soothe him back to sleep. Again, Catherine couldn't help thinking about how good it felt lying next to Vincent.

~ x x x x x ~

The next day Vincent was up and around but Catherine stayed below with him while he went around reassuring everyone that he was well. Mouse and Jamie in particular were happy to see them both.

That fifth night there was only one lapse when Vincent began thrashing around and she had to climb into bed with him to calm him down. After he calmed down, she dozed off with her arms still wrapped around him. He slept peacefully the rest of the night and she was up before he awoke that morning.

~ x x x x x ~

The next day was Saturday so Catherine decided to spend the weekend down below. During that weekend, she rarely left Vincent's side and each night she climbed into his bed after he was asleep and returned to her own temporary chamber before he woke up. In his depleted state, Vincent slept so deeply that he never realized she was there but each morning he awoke completely at peace with himself.

~ x x x x x ~

Monday morning Catherine went to work after extracting a promise from Vincent that he would not try to go away again. Later that afternoon Vincent noticed that he could occasionally get a very faint, fleeting echo of the link with Catherine. He was also beginning to be able to sense the emotions of those around him again.

When Catherine arrived at work, Joe noticed how worn and ragged she looked. "Morning, Radcliffe, are you sure you're not coming back to work too soon?" Concern for her welfare was plainly written across his face. "You look pretty wrung out. Do you really feel up to it?"

"I'm OK, Joe. I'm feeling a lot better than I was, and I have a lot of work to catch up on." She smiled at him. "You don't have to worry about me." She continued to her desk. She was very tired but she steadily worked her way through the stacks on her desk. Anything that could wait was set aside for later.

Around lunchtime, Patrick Hanlin, a college buddy of Joe's, came by and they went out to lunch together. The last time Joe had seen Patrick was right after he had joined the New York State Department of Justice. Shortly after that Joe had lost touch with him, he had just dropped out of sight. Patrick told Joe that for the last five years, he had been working undercover but that was now over. Patrick asked Joe about the rich debutante that he had heard was working for him. Joe proceeded to tell him all about the amazing Catherine.

Near the end of lunch, Patrick gave Joe a package. It was seven inches by five inches by an inch thick and wrapped in brown paper. "Joe, I need a favor. I want you to hold this for safe keeping."

Joe looked down at it and asked him, "What is this about?"

Patrick replied, "It is a very important and very dangerous book. I won't say more except that it contains details of massive corruption in the New York City government. When I'm safe I'll call you and tell you where to take it."

Joe immediately thought of FBI agent James McClendon's case of a few months ago as he asked, "Why don't you just turn this in?"

Patrick responded, "The second this book is turned into the authorities, the bad guys will know about it and know it was me. I will be a dead man if I am anywhere they can find me. That is why I need you to hold it and pass it on for me after I'm safely out of the country."

Joe could get no more information out of him and they both got up to go. Joe put the package in his suit jacket pocket. This was probably the only jacket he had with an inside pocket big enough to hold it. "I'll be right behind you." Joe called out as he stopped at the cashier to pay the bill. He grabbed a toothpick, and then hurried out after Patrick.

As Patrick was opening the door to his car, it exploded, killing him instantly. Joe, who was twenty feet away, was thrown fifteen feet by the force of the blast. He was badly injured but alive. A police car was just rounding the corner two blocks away when the explosion occurred. They called in for backup as they raced to the site. Two men in dark suits who were leaning over Joe's unconscious body quickly turned and left as the police cruiser pulled up.

When Catherine arrived at the hospital later, she found Joe in the emergency room. He was awake but groggy. The package was still in the pocket of his jacket, now hanging nearby. Joe gave it to her and told her that the package contained a book that supposedly would reveal a huge conspiracy in the city government and asked her to hold it for him.

"You get some rest. I will take good care of this." Catherine had already decided that she would take up the investigation. As she left the hospital, she wondered if this involved the same corruption case she and Joe had been briefly involved in back when she and Vincent had rescued Naomi.

Catherine stopped by her apartment where she opened the package. Inside, she found an expensive journal covered in a fancy gray leather binding. Inside the journal was page after page of neat precise handwritten gibberish. Obviously, the journal must be written in some type of code. She also found an envelope addressed to Joe and feeling only slightly guilty she opened it. Inside was an obviously hastily scribbled letter.

Joe,

Sorry to drag you into this but you're the only one that I felt I could trust. The only 2 people in the department that knew of my undercover assignment are both dead so I'm on my own. By the time you read this I'll be out of harms way or I'll be dead. The maniac this book belongs to kills those that cross him, and he kills their families. He has contacts all through the city, so tell no one about this book & watch your back. My parents and sister are already overseas . As soon as I get myself to safety, I'll contact you with instructions. Be careful and tell no one.

Patrick

Catherine spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to find out everything she could, which turned out to be very little. That evening, after hours, she made a copy of the book. She left the copy in her desk and took, the original book home with her. She hid the book behind a loose brick at the tunnel access to her apartment, then she continued on down to see Vincent.

As she entered his chamber, Vincent looked up from his desk where he had been writing in his journal. "Catherine, I was beginning to think you wouldn't be coming down tonight." He looked down at his journal then back to her. "But I am glad to see you." He closed the journal and stood up.

"I just wanted to be sure you were doing okay." She responded moving towards him.

Vincent looked at her more closely. "Catherine, is there something wrong?"

"Why would you think there is something wrong?"

"It's hard to explain. You just seem a little on edge to me." Vincent held her at arms length and looked searchingly into her eyes. "Also I'm sensing a hint of . . . worry."

"The bond is back?" She asked.

"No." He hesitated. "My empathic sense has begun to return but it's still a bit unreliable."

"Joe was hurt and I was worried is all." Catherine did not want to burden Vincent with her problems right now.

After about a second, Vincent shook his head. "There is more to it than that. Even without the bond I can see that something has you very upset." He looked into her eyes. "I can see it in your eyes."

"It's not important; I don't want to bother you with my problems." She looked away.

Vincent was very serious now and hand under her chin gently made her look at him. "Anything that has upset you enough that I can see it, is important to me. Please, tell me what's bothering you."

Catherine capitulated. "It's Joe. He was nearly killed by a car bomb at lunch today. A friend of his was killed." She felt tears beginning to form in her eyes. "I really care about Joe and he came so close to. . ." She began to shake and she couldn't continue.

Vincent held her close while she calmed back down. Finally, he asked, "Do you know why this happened?"

"It has something to do with a coded journal." They both sat down on the bed. "I looked through the book but I couldn't make anything of it."

Vincent held her at arms length again and looked her in the eyes. "Catherine I'm worried about you. This sounds like it could be very dangerous. Please, for me, be very careful and don't take any unnecessary risks." He continued to hold her away, waiting for an answer.

Finally, she replied. "Okay Vincent, I'll be careful."

They talked for about an other hour then Vincent walked her to her temporary chamber.

That night she, again, returned to Vincent's chamber to watch over him. A couple of hours later, she was awakened by Vincent's restlessness. She tried to calm him but it wasn't working. He just kept getting more agitated. Catherine was starting to get very worried when Vincent practically exploded upright, knocking Catherine out of the bed and calling her name in extreme anguish.

Catherine scrambled up off the floor and put her arms around him. "I'm right here Vincent." Vincent was looking at her as if he was seeing a ghost as he began to shake violently. Catherine had never seen him like this and it frightened her. She continued to talk to him as the shakes began to ease off. He put his arms around her and held her so tight it nearly squeezed the breath out of her.

Finally, Vincent let go then he grabbed her arms and held her away while he stared at her like he was trying to verify that she was real. Finally he spoke. "I thought I had lost you." He continued to study her.

"What happened? Why did you think you had lost me?" She was looking at him just as intently.

Vincent shook his head. "It was a dream." He looked down. "But it was so real." He looked back up into her eyes. "I dreamed you had been kidnapped." He closed his eyes for a moment. "I searched for you for months but without the bond I couldn't find you. I couldn't rest and I was going out of my mind." He opened his eyes. "When I finally found you, I was too late." He swallowed hard. "Catherine, you died in my arms." Catherine could see the pain in his eyes. "Just before you died you asked me to find our . . . um . . ." Vincent suddenly got very uncomfortable and seemed to have trouble looking at Catherine. Then he pulled her in close and hugged her again. "I'm so glad you're here with me now. I felt so lost when I couldn't find you."

"Well it was only a dream and I'm right here." Catherine hugged him back. "You're just missing the link we had, but it will come back eventually" She urged him to lie back down. "Now you go back to sleep. I'll be right here."

Once he was settled back down, Vincent looked up at her and asked, "Catherine, what did happen in that deep cavern where you found me? Did I do anything . . . inappropriate?"

Catherine was startled and worried by his question. "What do you mean?" What if he knew about her back?

Vincent could tell that something about his question had disturbed her and became very embarrassed. "It's just something odd that happened in my dream."

Catherine was confused. "What happened?"

Vincent looked away. "It's nothing. It was just a dream." He closed his eyes. "I'm very tired." He quickly fell asleep.

Catherine watched him sleep as she contemplated what he had said. What had happened in his dream that could get him so embarrassed? And what did her rescue of him a few days ago have to do with it? She finally fell asleep no wiser.

~ x x x x x ~

The next day, Catherine briefed Moreno on everything that had happened with Joe. Moreno wanted the book himself so she gave him the copy of it, and said that the original was safe with a police officer friend. Moreno did not appear happy about the situation. She spent the rest of the morning clearing up the current projects on her own desk so she would be free to look into what happened to Joe.

After lunch, she got copies of all the reports from the car bomb explosion. Next, she talked to the officers that had been involved. By the end of the day, the only significant information she had was the fact that the bomb had been set off by remote and the description of the two men in dark suits that had been seen bending over Joe right after the explosion. She began to wonder again if this was tied into the corruption case from a couple of months ago. Catherine decided that she would call James at the FBI in the morning.

That Evening after getting home from work she was preparing to go down to see Vincent when her phone rang. It was the guard at the front desk telling her there was a package delivery for her. A short time later, there was a knock at the door. She looked out and saw two deliverymen. When she opened the door, one of the men sprayed her in the face with something and the world went away.

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.