After The Tower - Epilog
By Thomas Mc

Note: This chapter leads directly into the TV episode Orphans so be aware.

Catherine arrived home from work in a very good mood. The cold gloomy February weather had no power over her today. Just last Friday she and Peter had talked to her father about Vincent and he had taken it fairly well even though she had refused to tell him what was so different about him. And best of all for the last two days Vincent had been waiting for her in the evening when she got home. She closed her door, dropped her things and went straight to her balcony. She threw the French doors open to find Vincent already there waiting.

Maybe this time. "Come on in," she invited.

Vincent Hesitated.

Catherine placed her hands on her hips. "If you want to spend time with my father this weekend, you're going to have to come in out of the cold." She grabbed his hand and pulled. Reluctantly, he allowed her to pull him inside her apartment. As Vincent stood uncertainly just inside her parlor, she closed the doors and felt a shiver of joy run up her spine. At last he had finally entered her apartment. 'One more major step forward,' she thought as she turned and threw her arms around his neck and drew him into a kiss.

Vincent had felt her joy bubbling up as he had entered her apartment. Then before he realized what was happening, she was in his embrace and involved in a very passionate kiss. She had neatly out maneuvered his reserve and it was too late to back out now without hurting her. Besides, at this point he found that he didn't really want to back out. He was enjoying this too much.

She pulled her head back and looked up at him with a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Now, that wasn't so bad was it?"

Vincent answered her in the only safe way possible, with another kiss. The love and joy radiating from her was overwhelming and he was finding it harder to think coherently.

Catherine was overjoyed. Vincent had never allowed their kissing to get this far before. She was tempted to see how far she could push it, but decided that it would be better not to rush it too soon, no matter how badly she wanted to. Besides, she wanted to talk about the meeting between Vincent and her father that was only two days away. Afterward maybe she would see about breaking down some more of his resistance. That could prove very interesting.

She had decided to have the meeting in her own apartment to allow her dad the security of familiar ground. She had already done her best to prepare her father for Vincent. He knew that Vincent's appearance was unusual and that he was sensitive about it. He knew how important Vincent was to her and that she found his appearance quite agreeable. She would wait until the last possible minute to tell him that what he had seen last Halloween was Vincent's true appearance. Give him just enough time so that he would not be taken totally by surprise when he finally saw Vincent. She was both excited and nervous about this meeting.

The details of the upcoming meeting with her dad had all been hashed out and now they just sat together enjoying the warmth of the fire and of each other's companionship.

A feeling of total contentment flowed through her as she snuggled in a little tighter. The faint smell of burning wood mixed with leather and candle wax to complete the sensations. She knew that she had pushed their relationship as far as she could today, but it was enough for now. She was happy.

Vincent thought the evening had gone quite well. He had been surprised by Catherine's passionate kiss but he had also enjoyed it very much. He was now sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace leaning against the side of Catherine's loveseat. She was there with him, her back against his chest and his arms wrapped around her. The warmth of the fire was lost in the warmth of Catherine's contentment that was now washing through him from their link.

The phone rang and, after momentarily considering letting it ring, Catherine reluctantly disentangled herself and got up to answer it. "Don't go away." She admonished Vincent then she picked up the receiver.

As she stood there listening, her emotions went from joy to surprise to worry to fear to despair in less than a minute. Vincent watched her, concerned at what could have caused such a reaction. She clumsily placed the receiver down, missing the cradle completely on the first try, and turned towards Vincent, tears brimming in her eyes. Vincent saw her knees starting to buckle and caught her just before she collapsed. The pain he saw reflected in her face and felt flowing from her heart was almost more than he could bear.

"T ... That w ... was Peter." She gulped. "Daddy ... Daddy's had a stroke." The tears were flowing freely. "He's ... he's unconscious ... they don't know how bad it is yet." She felt like a rudderless boat unable to decide what to do.

Vincent enfolded her in his arms as her tears soaked into his shirt. He knew how hard this had hit her. The best he could do now was to give her a direction. Something to steady her. "You must go to him now." He gently placed his finger under her chin and tilted her head up to look at him. "I will not be far away if you need me." He helped her on with her coat and walked her to her door. "Remember, I'm there if you need me." He closed the door as she ran to the elevator.

For several minutes he stood in her empty apartment, a single tear in his eye. He had only met Charles once but he had really liked him. His tear was as much for his loss as for Catherine's. He gazed for a moment at a picture of Catherine and her father as a few more tears fell then he left by way of the balcony.

As Vincent waited in the tunnels near the hospital he knew the news was bad by Catherine's emotional reaction. No matter what, he intended to be there when Catherine needed him. He loved her too much to let her face this alone. Then he felt it. She wanted him now and he went to her.

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.