A Mother's Diary
By Thomas Mc

Part 6 - Introductions

Jennifer and Vincent both became aware of a new presence at the same time and turned to see a young man standing in the doorway staring intently at Jennifer. "You Vincent mother?" There was a combination of curiosity, uncertainty and just a hint of suspicion and belligerence in his voice.

"Yes, mouse, this is my mother." Vincent responded. "Her name is Jennifer, just like our daughter."

"Vincent OK?" He asked, still showing signs of distrust in his attitude.

Vincent smiled. "Yes, Mouse. I'm very happy to have found my mother." He put his arm around Jennifer. "We are all very happy to have found her." He indicated Dennis. "And this is my half brother, Dennis."

Mouse glanced at Dennis. "Like Devin?"

"Yes, Mouse, my brother, just like Devin but closer." Vincent explained. "We have the same mother."

Mouse cocked his head and looked at both of them. Then after a moment he nodded. "OK good, OK fine. Mouse go." With a last quick glance at them both, he ducked his head and was gone.

Dennis looked at Vincent, his eyes full of curiosity. "Mouse?"

Catherine laughed at the look on Dennis' face while Vincent began explaining. He told them about how he had first found the young feral child running wild in the tunnels and took him under his wing. Jennifer and Dennis were very interested in the tale. They were both impressed at how much Vincent had been able to accomplish with the boy.

The next stop was the library chamber. Jennifer, Dennis and Dianna were all fascinated by the place. Vincent told them how he had spent many a happy hours here devouring every adventure book in the chamber. Then he and Devin would go into the lower chambers to recreate the adventures they had just read about. Sometimes they had even dared to go above into the park at night for their adventures. Jennifer was fascinated by the wide range of literature and references contained in the rather eclectic collection of books. Dennis was also interested in the books from a publisher's point of view. He recognized several as being from the publishing company where he and Jenny worked. He also spotted several very old first edition books in the library. There were also a few very old battered books in fairly new bindings. Vincent informed them that one of their helpers was a book binder that specialized in restoring valuable old books for libraries.

~ o ~

Next Vincent lead them to the large chamber full of small beds where most of the children, taken in by the community, slept. While there, several of the children came and went through the chamber. Jennifer and Dennis were amazed at the children's lack of fear. In fact they showed a great deal of affection for Vincent. One little seven year old girl, named Naomi, demanded to be picked up so she could give Vincent a kiss on the cheek, then wanted to know who the newcomers were.

Vincent shifted so that Naomi could get a good look at the newcomers. "Naomi, this is my mother, Jennifer, and my half brother, Dennis."

Naomi looked at them suspiciously. "But they all say you don't have a mother, only Father."

Vincent smiled at her. "No, we just didn't know who my mother was. We only found out about her last night."

She looked at Jennifer. "Are you married to Father?" She asked.

Naomi's question caught Jennifer by surprise causing her to sputter just a bit. The rest laughed and Vincent answered. "No they are not married. Father is my adopted father. My real father . . . died a long time ago." There was an unreadable glitter in Vincent's eyes as he said this that was noticed by the others.

Catherine could feel the conflicting emotions that passed through Vincent at the mention of a natural father. For all they knew he may not have had a natural father in any meaningful sense of the word. They still didn't really know how Vincent had been created. He might have had multiple fathers. There was a good chance that they would never know now that Gabriel's home and all his father's records had been destroyed in that fire.

Naomi cocked her head and looked back at Jennifer. "OK." She responded. "Is she my grandmother?" She asked.

"If you want her to be, she is." Vincent responded.

"OK." She smiled at Jennifer. "Hi Grandmother. I'm Naomi." She announced.

Vincent set her down. "Shouldn't you be getting ready for lunch?" He asked.

"OK." She responded and ran out of the chamber.

Dennis watched her leave then he had to ask. "What was that all about?"

Catherine explained. "When she was five her father was to testify against a part of Gabriel's organization. They killed her whole family. Vincent rescued her and brought her Below to keep her safe." She smiled at Vincent. "At first Naomi thought of Vincent as her own personal guardian monster. Later she started thinking of him as a father figure. A friend in the FBI made me her guardian and is working on arranging for me to legally adopt her through the witness protection system. Once that is done she will officially be our daughter and will come live with us in the brownstone."

Dennis looked around at all the little beds in the large chamber. "So many children's beds?"

Vincent answered. "We often take in abandoned children we find on the streets. We give them a stable home with people that understand them and care about them. When they are old enough they are given the choice of staying Below or moving in with one of our helpers Above." He looked around at all the beds. "There are a lot of lost children on the streets Above."

Catherine added. "Those children that they have taken in and helped have usually done very well as adults." Catherine glanced up and appeared to be listening for a couple of seconds then smiled. "The pipes are announcing that lunch is now being served. Is everyone hungry enough to face the mob waiting to meet you?"

"I think I can handle it." Dennis replied.

"I guess it's time I faced your friends." Jennifer added.

They left the children's chamber and headed to the community dining chamber which was very close by. As soon as they exited the children's chamber they could hear the sound of many voices that got much louder as they approached the opening to the dining chamber. Then they were at the doorway and the din coming from the chamber was a lot louder than Catherine ever remembered hearing. The chamber was packed. It looked like it would be standing room only. Then they were noticed and the noise quickly died down as they entered. Everyone was looking at them.

Vincent gave Jennifer a hug and whispered in her ear, "Keep smiling. Make'em wonder what you're up to." She laughed as he escorted her to the back of the room. Vincent was smiling from ear to ear as he quietly nodded to those around him. Behind Vincent and Jennifer came Dennis with Catherine on one arm and Diana on the other. When they reached the back of the chamber people began talking again in a very subdued tone. Catherine heard several comments on how small Jennifer was.

Jennifer, Dennis and Diana all commented on how good the food looked and smelled as they served themselves from the buffet. Once they had loaded their plates and faced the room they spotted Father and Jenny who had saved five places for them. Dennis heard several comments about their eye color as they made their way to the seats saved for them. Apparently that was the one factor that most of the people here found most convincing. They reached their places and Father stood up to introduced each of the newcomers to the crowd. By the reactions of everyone, Dennis gathered that they all recognized Diana's name. Based on what he had heard about her last night, Dennis could understand everyone's reaction. Then they were inundated by many shouts of welcome from the crowded chamber. They all sat down to their meal and the noise soon rose back up to just beyond the normal level on a very busy day.

William came up to them and stood looming over Jennifer, his hands on his hips. As she looked up at the big man he frowned down on her and shook his head. "How a little tiny thing like you produced someone as big as Vincent I will never know." He broke into a sunny grin. "But those eyes don't lie, it's a pleasure to meet you ma'am and I hope we will be seeing a lot of you down here." He then acknowledged Diana. "It's a pleasure to meet you too ma'am. We are all grateful for what you did for our Vincent and his Catherine." He nodded to Dennis. "And you, young fellow. It's nice to meet Vincent's brother." With that he again nodded to everyone and then went to the back of the room where he straightened the buffet table. That seemed to have broken the damn and others began approaching the newcomers in small groups and exchanging greetings along with the occasional question.

Dennis was fascinated by the way these people related to Vincent and his mother. Everyone there cared deeply for Vincent and, by virtue of her apparent relationship to him, they also cared for his mother. It seemed like all three of them were being accepted based on their relationship to Vincent. Jennifer was Vincent's mother. Dennis was Vincent's brother. Diana was the one that helped Vincent rescue his Catherine. He also noticed that Catherine seemed to stand as high in their esteem as Vincent and Father. Father was obviously the leader of this place but Vincent and Catherine were the heart of the community.

Jennifer couldn't help but feel warmed by the regard all these people felt for her very unusual son. She felt happier than she had felt in a very long time. Even the ache of her husbands death was lost in the joy she now felt for her long lost son. Her eyes glittered as she watched her two sons interact with each other and with the people of this unique community.

Long after the food had all been consumed and the plates all taken away the chamber remained crowded. After a while Vincent and Jennifer had gotten so many requests for the story behind Vincent's birth that they agreed to tell the story to them all. Then Catherine revealed that she had brought the diary pages with her. After a quick discussion Jennifer agreed to try to read them to the crowd. When she faced her audience it quickly became so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

As Jennifer read the old pages from her journal, it all came flooding back to her and she was back in that time so long ago. Her emotions seem to infuse the words as she read them aloud, giving the story a poignancy that was irresistible. Catherine found Jennifer's reading to be even more moving than when Jenny had read it to them yesterday. A few times Jennifer's voice began to waver as she was overcome by her own emotions and Vincent would reach up to touch her arm then she would regain her equilibrium and continue. When Jennifer finished Catherine gazed out into the dead quiet. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. After a few minutes of dead silence, Father stood up and cleared his throat then began the account of that night so long ago from his prospective. They had all heard it many times before, but now it carried a new dimension, a richness of texture that had not been there before. Even Father seemed to be more emotionally involved in his retelling of it.

After Father finished there were several calls of, "But what happened on the bridge." From the crowd. Jennifer again stood up and told the story of how she was rescued by Bill McCormick. Those that had already heard the story noticed that she was telling it almost word for word as they had heard it last night. She paused at the point right after where she and Bill had made their hasty exit from the doctors office in Philadelphia. Taking advantage of the pause, Catherine stepped in and quickly described what had happened at that doctors office after they had left. Then Jennifer again took up the story and carried it through to the point where she had burned the diary to protect her new son. Vincent stood up and told about how the eight diary pages had turned up in Bill's effects then he read the special message they had found written on the back of the last page.

Then Dennis took over and told about coming to New York and going to work for Jenny. He related about getting his mother to come stay with him after his father's death and his discovery of the diary pages. Jenny took over at this point and told about when Dennis brought the pages to her and her realization of what they meant. She finished up by describing the events of yesterday leading up to and including the long delayed family reunion last night.

Long after the tale was completed the people were thanking Jennifer and Dennis for the story. Diana sniffed as she told Jennifer that that was the most moving story she had ever heard. Then people began rearranging tables, stacking many of them back where the buffet had been and several others left, only to return with musical instruments. Soon the chamber was filled with music. The lunch had turned into an impromptu welcome home party for Jennifer and Dennis. During the party every child in the community insisted on meeting Vincent's mom. She learned a lot about how they viewed their teacher, mentor and guardian.

During all this time Vincent had noticed that Mary had hung in the background. He went over and practically dragged her over to Jennifer and Dennis. "Jennifer, I would like you to meet Mary. For all intents Mary was my mother while I was growing up. In fact she serves as surrogate mother to practically every child down here."

For several moments the two women stared at each other as though sizing the other up as a possible adversary. Most of the room quickly became aware of what was happening as the tension between them, both of whom could lay claim to the position of Vincent's mother, became thick enough to cut.

Finally Jennifer smiled. "I am so pleased to meet you. Vincent told me how much you meant to him growing up. I'm so glad he had someone like you to care for him and be there for him all those times that he needed a mother and I wasn't there." She took a step forward. "I hope we can spend a lot of time together. There is so much I want to learn, so much you can tell me about our very special son."

After a moment Mary took a step forward. "I would like that."

There was another pause then both women embraced and the entire room seem to breath a sigh of relief.

About two hours into the party Rebecca approached them carrying several pages of paper full of writing. She revealed that she had written down most of Jennifer's description of what happened after the bridge. Catherine thanked her and put those pages with the diary pages. The party finally ended with dinner.

~ o ~

After dinner They were taken on a tour through Elizabeth's painted tunnels. The newcomers were spellbound by the paintings and the tales behind them. They were particularly interested in the stories behind the paintings that included Vincent. When they reached the end of the paintings they found Elizabeth busily sketching away at a new picture. As Elizabeth acknowledged their presence Jennifer recognized herself and Dennis standing face to face with Vincent before the brownstone's spiral staircase.

That night everyone slept Below and the next day they visited several of the more spectacular sights of the vast underground realm. Their guest were overwhelmed by the beauty they encountered on their tour. They finally ended up at the great underground waterfall lake. Jennifer commented that it was the most magnificent thing she had ever seen.

Late Sunday evening they returned Above to the brownstone. Catherine told Jennifer and Dennis that they were both welcome in their home anytime. Then before everyone returned to their homes, Catherine invited all of them to have lunch with her on Monday at a popular mid town Manhattan restaurant.

~ o ~

Shortly after Catherine arrived at work Joe called her into his office. They spent most of the morning discussing the latest on the Geonelly case and the outcome of Friday night's incident. Joe looked up from the police report they had been discussing. "Well Radcliffe, Geonelly's gang really blew it this time. They thought the case would fall apart if they took us out of the picture." He chuckled. "Instead they've managed to nail the lid on it even tighter than it already was. They gave us just the opening we needed to go after all of the gangs assets." He shook his head. "Unlike that Gabriel character, Geonelly and his bunch never could think beyond brute force."

Catherine laughed. "They must have driven Gabriel to distraction trying to keep them under control." She shook her head. "After all, that was the weak point where your friend Patrick Sanderson got in and obtained the journal that ultimately lead to the downfall of Gabriel's organization. I think that's also the group that Naomi's father was from as well."

Joe nodded then looked down at his desk. "Unfortunately it led to Patrick's death and the death of Naomi's whole family and almost got you and me killed." He deliberately closed the folder and with a deep breath and a sigh then looked up at Catherine. "That's enough talk on that subject, I think." Then he smiled. "I got a call from Agent McClendon yesterday. He has been trying to get a hold of you all weekend. He told me to tell you to call him on his 'private' line when you get a chance." He cocked his head and raised his eyebrows.

Just then the receptionist stuck her head into Joe's office. "We got another of those anonymous tips over the weekend. This one identified some more of Geonelly's hidden assets." Joe and Catherine both perked up. For the last five months these infrequent tips had been of enormous help in the Geonelly case. Joe took the plain envelope and thanked the receptionist.

Joe had just opened the envelope when he looked up at a knock at his door and his face broke into a huge sunny smile that Catherine knew could mean only one thing. Without even looking over her shoulder Catherine called out. "You're here a bit early for lunch, aren't you Sammy?" She turned around to see that her guess was correct, and smiled at Joe's great love and her newest friend.

The tall, pretty, blond responded. "I know but I've been dying to find out what that news was that you were going to tell me about at lunch today." She came around and put her arm around Joe, giving him a hug. "So spill it. What's the big news?"

Catherine checked her watch. Still a bit over an hour until she was to meet the others for lunch. "Give me just a moment." She ran to her desk to retrieve the folder containing the diary pages from her desk. She had planned to make a copy of them to give to Joe but decided on a better course. When she returned to Joe's office she glanced around then closed his office door.

Joe and Sammy were watching her actions curiously. "What exactly is going on here Radcliffe?" He asked.

Catherine sat on the edge of Joe's desk. "Sammy, you might want to be sitting for this."

Seeing the serious look on her face Sammy sat down on the little sofa. Joe came around and sat next to Sammy and took her hand. This was starting to look serious. He was also very curious about the pages she had pulled out of the folder she had brought back. They looked like they had been torn out of a diary and were covered with writing.

Catherine took a deep breath. "OK, last Friday morning a young man that works for Jenny brought her these pages that he found among his mother's stuff. He had no idea what they represented but as soon as Jenny read them she contacted me." She looked down at the pages. "There's only these eight pages left from the original diary, the rest was destroyed, so I'm just going to read them to you." She looked up at them. "I think you will understand once you've heard what they have to say."

Catherine began reading. Joe and Sammy were both soon deeply engrossed in the compelling narrative. She saw the flint hard look in Joe's eyes at the mention of Julian's name. She could see the sympathy in both their eyes at the description of Jennifer's desperate flight from her tormentor. She heard Sammy gasp and whisper, "Vincent," when she read the part where Jennifer got her first good look at the newborn infant. Joe squeezed Sammy's hand and his eyes widened as understanding dawned. They both now realized that they were hearing a chronicle of Vincent's birth written by his mother.

When she finished there were tears sliding down Sammy's cheeks and Joe's eyes were suspiciously bright. Catherine felt a lump in her own throat as well. She pulled herself together. "The young man that brought this to Jenny is named Dennis and it was his mother that wrote these pages. Her name is Jennifer." Catherine paused to compose herself. "Last Friday night Vincent met his mother and his half brother for the first time."

Joe rubbed at his eyes, looked over at Sammy then looked back at Catherine. "I don't want to throw cold water, but the lawyer in me must ask . . . How sure are you that this is genuine and not some elaborate hoax?"

Catherine nodded smiling at Joe. She had been half expecting this question since Joe had not met those in question yet. "All it takes is one look into their eyes to see that the relationship is genuine." She put the pages back in the folder and stood up glancing at her watch. "We need to get going. We have just over a half hour to get to the restaurant. There you can meet Jennifer and Dennis and judge for yourselves."

As Joe and Sammy entered the restaurant with Catherine, they both spotted Diana sitting at a table with two other people. The young man was quite handsome. The woman was middle aged and appeared so tiny. As soon as they reached the table Joe and Sammy both realized how right Catherine had been. You couldn't look at those unique blue eyes and doubt the relationship. In all his life this was only the third time he had encountered anyone with eyes that very unusual shade of blue.

The next hour was an orgy of discovery as Dennis, Jennifer and Sammy got to know each other. Dennis and Jennifer had already heard a little about Sammy's history including how she got the road rash scar on the back of her arm so they were as curious about her as she was about them. For the most part Joe and Catherine just sat ate and listened. The lunch ended with hugs and plans to get together later.

~ o ~

Walter looked up from the pages, his eyes glittering with barely suppressed emotion. "I heard about these." He gently closed the folder. "I will take very good care of them. I think I will place a blank separator page and a title page between the two sections. Any special requests for the binding cover?"

Catherine shook her head. "Just do whatever you think would be appropriate." She smiled. "I trust your judgment. I just want to have it ready to give to Vincent for Winterfest." She cocked her head. "You will be there, won't you?"

He grinned back. "For a chance to meet Vincent's mother? I wouldn't miss it. Peggy and I will both be there." He stood up holding the pages. "I'll have this ready in plenty of time."

Catherine stood up. "Thanks Walter, for everything." She picked up the small stack of books that he had rebound for the tunnels and left the small shop. Her next stop was Mr. Smyth's book store where she would pickup some books that he was holding for her.

Though he was unaware of it, Mr. Smyth was second only to Jenny as a supplier of books for the tunnel community. He suspected that she passed many of the books she bought at his place on to some of her many charitable interests. As a result he often gave her some very good deals on some of the books he found for her.

He had come across an unopened case containing twenty-five copies of the children's book 'Where The Wild Things Are' and had set ten of them aside for Catherine. She had already designated eight of them for some orphanages that she occasionally supported. The last two were reserved for the tunnels. Her library at home already contained a first edition copy of the book that her father had bought when she was young.

Mr. Smyth packed all of her books into one of his canvas book bags for her. She paid him, thanked him and left.

~ o ~

Catherine paid the cab driver and was digging in her purse for her keys as she turned toward her front door when she bumped into a man that had come up behind her. She dropped her bags ready to defend herself. "Whoa, Chandler, I'm one of the friendlys." Devin blurted out as she was on the verge of executing a judo throw. "I don't really want to end up on my ass again like last time."

"Devin!" She cried out as she embraced him instead. "You made it. There is so much I have to tell you." She stepped back and Devin picked up her bags and smiled back to her while nodding towards the door. Catherine dug out her keys. "Come on inside." She headed up the front steps with Devin following behind. As she opened the front door she continued speaking. "Vincent is still below but he'll be home shortly, especially after feeling my reactions just now." She pointed to the coffee table. "Just drop those there."

Once they were settled in, Devin immediately came to the point of his visit. "OK, Chandler, what's this about Vincent's mother?" There was both curiosity and wary suspicion in equal portions displayed on his face.

"It turns out that she has been living in Arizona for the last thirty-four years and just this year moved back to New York." Catherine told him. "Her name is Jennifer McCormick."

There was a flash of surprise on Devin's face at her mention of the woman's name then there was flint in his eyes as he continued. "And why did she dump my brother in the trash where he was found?"

Catherine reached out and placed her hand on his forearm. "You have to understand, first of all, she thought that he was already dead at the time and, secondly, she had no choice in the matter. She was seventeen years old and on the run for her life from Julian, the father of Gabriel and just as evil as his son was." She saw surprise on Devin's face and just a hint of sympathy softening the look in his eyes. "She was pregnant because of some bizarre experiments he had been performing on her after he imprisoned her. She finally managed to escape from him just after going into labor."

Catherine could see that she was getting through to him by the softening of the expression on his face. She proceeded to tell him about the diary pages and then related what they contained. She had read them often enough that she could almost quote them verbatim. Vincent arrived home just as she was telling Devin about how Vincent and his newly discovered family had met for the first time.

"Little brother!" Devin greeted Vincent as he approached. "I hear you have added two new people to our family."

"Devin. It's great to see you again." He pulled Devin into a hug. "Yes, a lot has happened recently."

"So when do I get to meet them?"

"Mother is Below with Father and Mary playing with Naomi and the twins." He paused a second. "I think Dennis is out with Diana."

"Gorgeous redhead detective, Diana?" Devin asked with a bit of a chuckle.

"I think that might be a reasonably accurate description." Vincent replied with a grin.

"What was her reaction to the news that you had a brother?" Devin knew about Diana's wish that Vincent had a brother for her.

"They have gone out together." Vincent replied with a shrug.

"Here I thought being your adopted brother would give me a shot with her and you produce a real brother to steal her away." Devin shook his head.

"Why don't you stay for dinner and you can meet Jennifer when she brings the twins home tonight." Catherine suggested.

"That's great." Devin grinned. "I haven't seen the twins since the naming ceremony."

"They've grown a lot since then." Vincent offered.

The End

'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.