16

Because You Loved Me

By Southofoz

Summary - This is an S3 story rated K set six months after Catherine's death, when Vincent and Father set a plan in motion that will benefit not only their world but the world Above as well. This story examines the lives which were changed by Catherine's love, particularly Vincent. (Song lyrics 'Because You Loved Me' by Diane Warren, no copyright infringement intended.)

*****

For all those times you stood by me

For all the truth that you made me see

For all the joy you brought to my life

For all the wrong that you made right

For every dream you made come true

For all the love I found in you

I'll be forever thankful

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn't speak

You were my eyes when I couldn't see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn't reach

You gave me faith 'coz you believed

I'm everything I am because you loved me.

You gave me wings and made me fly.

You touched my hand, I could touch the sky

I lost my faith; you gave it back to me.

You said no star was out of reach.

You stood by me and I stood tall.

I had your love, I had it all

I'm grateful for each day you gave me.

Maybe I don't know that much,

But I know this much is true;

I was blessed because I was loved by you.

*****

Catherine's son sleeps – my son – and as I watch him I am again astonished by his existence and what a precious gift he is to me. I look into his face and see Catherine's beauty and I feel his fearlessness, his strength and his boundless curiosity. For one so young he is full of the need to know – to touch and to see, all that is around him, and I wonder what the future holds for him. I am constantly amazed by his presence in my life, his existence, and most amazing of all is that he is here with me – because of Catherine…

Suddenly the echo of his son's hunger touched Vincent's senses as he wrote in his journal, only moments before the babe began to fret. Jacob's only emotions were of growing impatience and distress at the discomfort his hunger caused.

Vincent unhurriedly twisted the top onto his fountain pen and drew the ribbon over the page, to mark his place, and closed the journal that Catherine had given him. He smoothed the leather cover, feeling as always, a connection to Catherine. With a sigh he went to the latest addition to his chamber – a small portable gas stove where a bottle of formula stood warming in a saucepan. Vincent tested the temperature of the milk on his wrist and satisfied it was warm enough brought the bottle over to the crib.

By this time his son's protests were becoming serious, Vincent picked him up and instantly the child calmed – as was always the case when his father took him in his arms. Vincent sat in his favorite chair with the infant, but he was still not happy until the teat touched his lips and he was devouring the contents of the bottle.

As Jacob fed, Vincent watched him with quiet pleasure, the sorrow and fear of all they had gone through, now only a memory. Vincent was washed with a feeling of rightness, every time he touched the child, as though the unique bond he had shared with Catherine had finally mingled within her to produce this miracle. He could sometimes even see things from the boy's perspective – as on the night when Gabriel was about to take the baby's life.

Life had slipped into a gentle routine in the tunnels, since Gregory's tragic death and Father's recovery, and there was a time of peace. Like the motion of an ancient galleon over the calm ocean waves, life was quiet and smooth. There were times when Vincent would read one of his favorite childhood stories, or recite old rhymes to his son, and even though the babe didn't understand the words, it was the sound of his father's voice that would lull him into sleep.

At first Vincent would spend hours simply holding his son and watch him sleep, as he had done that first night in a cold merciless cage. It was at these times that Vincent would speak to Catherine as though she were in the room, as he had in that cell and dream that they had brought their son home together, and were each sharing the pleasant task of tending to his needs.

That night, three months ago when he returned with Father, with his son cradled in his arms, his burnt hands stinging painfully and every muscle in his body aching, Vincent was welcomed by the entire community waiting in Father's study. There were congratulations and comments about the beauty of the baby and Vincent absorbed their love into his very soul like healing balm for his grief – but he couldn't let them know how exhausted he really felt.

Father and Mary came to his rescue, telling everyone that they must let Vincent get some rest. When everyone had gone he had relinquished his son only to allow Father to tend to his burnt hands. His eyes never left Mary the entire time as she stood nearby holding the infant, rocking him and talking softly to him.

His injuries finally dressed, and his son back in his arms, Vincent had to argue with Father to keep the child with him. Father told him that he should get some rest, and allow Mary to take care of his son for at least this one evening, but Vincent would not be swayed. He had been parted from his child for too long already. Mary placed a hand on Father's arm and a look passed between them, which Vincent didn't understand, not until much later.

He bade good night to them both and walked wearily to his chamber, the sleeping child cradled protected in his arms. With every step he wondered about the wisdom of his decision to care for his son alone. He felt more exhausted than he could ever remember feeling. Every inch of his body ached.

When he finally walked into his own chamber, he leaned back against the wall by the entrance and surveyed his own private world. He was home at last – away from the danger, fear and horror that he had lived with for the last three months. He pushed himself away from the wall and laid the infant on his bed, very conscious of his own unkempt condition.

He washed in the basin in the corner and changed into clean clothes – often turning to see that the baby was still lying safely in the middle of the bed. This done he took the child into his arms again and sat in the nearby chair simply looking down at the sweet sleeping face. He realized that since leaving the mansion, the baby had made only contented sounds and on the way home had fallen asleep, as though he too knew he was at last safe.

Shortly afterward, as Vincent sat dozing in the chair, holding the baby close to him, he was suddenly brought to wakefulness, as Mary came in carrying bundles of baby necessities. Following her was Marcus carrying a crib, and behind Marcus came Mouse with a stove, who in usual Mousean fashion, insisted on instructing Vincent on how to use it. Mary gave him instructions on how to make sure the formula wasn't too hot. Then they left a stunned Vincent alone with his son.

It was then that he realized for the first time what a change there would be in his usually solitary life and what being a father really meant. He surveyed the changes to his chamber, the stove, the chest of baby needs and the crib. Could he really do this alone? The answer came as a resounding NO and he remembered the look that had passed between Mary and Father. Mary was allowing Vincent to find out for himself why they wanted to help him. He shook his head and smiled at his own foolishness and resolved to apologize to them in the morning for his arrogance. It took an entire community to raise a child. He had known this all his life, but had forgotten it in his solitude and fear for his family and the desperate need to recover his son. He would prefer to do everything for the child alone and unaided, but he knew he must allow others to help.

The infant needed to be changed and so Vincent put his mind to the task, gathering all he needed in his usual well ordered fashion. He began by removing the blue blanket that had been wrapped around the child throughout the entire ordeal. Surprisingly Vincent felt no awkwardness as with other infants he had held. His huge clawed hands bathed the little boy and changed him into the clothes lovingly made by Mary and Sarah – they had never once doubted that this very special man would bring his equally special son home where he belonged.

That night the crib remained empty as the baby slept in Vincent's arms. He lay in his bed and simply watched the child sleep, unable to believe that one of his dreams, thought of as impossible, had come true. He felt as though his life had been a nightmare since Catherine's death, and the heart that had turned to stone during that time, had once again become warm flesh, thanks to this little miracle, and it was pumping new life throughout his body – he felt alive again. Even though the child did not, and could not replace Catherine in his life, he did ease the continuous ache of loss that Vincent experienced every moment.

The child didn't appear any different than any other newborn. He had delicate little hands, clawless and perfect and a beautiful face pink and cherub-like, but Vincent felt, from the first moment in that cell, that he and his son were the same. With that simple contact they had drawn strength from each other and the bond he had had with Catherine was re-established with his son. Yet with a depth that he had never known before with the woman he loved. It was as though at last there was someone in the world truly like him, thanks to a beautiful generous woman, who was brave enough to love him for who he was, unafraid of his differences.

Finally exhaustion took Vincent and he was woken some hours later by the glorious sound of the baby's lusty cries of hunger echoing through the chamber – it was a sound so wonderful and new, that he had never thought to hear in his chamber. It was still very early in the morning and it brought home to Vincent the enormity of what his life now entailed.

As the months passed and Jacob grew stronger, their bond grew, and never a moment went by that the child's thoughts or feelings were not known to him. Vincent found joy immeasurable in caring for Jacob. He had never realized what fulfillment there could be in satisfying the simple needs of a baby. He was reluctant to miss any moment of his son's quickly changing life, but in time he allowed others to care for him for a least short periods. He returned to the tunnels, taking up his usual duties as teacher of the children, voice of reason and wisdom of the community – and when needed the one with the strong arms, to help in constructing new chambers or in emergencies.

Everyone, even the children, understood as Vincent's head would lift from whatever he was doing the moment his son was conscious, then he would excuse himself and go to his chamber, arriving just as the child began to fuss. He would enter and thank Mary or Brooke or one of the other women of the tunnels, and then would attend to the child. Only in times when he was covered in dust did Vincent not leave to tend the boy, he would merely wait until the child's distress turned to contentment as he was fed, then Vincent would return to what he was doing.

In the months that followed, Vincent's life became filled with joy as his son grew and he ventured into the world every parent finds waiting for them, as Jacob's laughter filled his chamber and Vincent remembered something Father had once said. "There is a wealth of promise in an infant's smile."

Fearlessly the child pulled on his father's mane with tiny plump hands or grabbed at his muzzle, completely accepting and unafraid of his father's differences. The child's deep blue eyes, so much like those of his father, watched him with such intensity that Vincent thought the boy could see into his very soul.

Then when he began to crawl there were times of joyous play on Vincent's bed or the old carpet that covered the floor. For the first time that he could remember Vincent's own deep throaty laughter filled the chamber, brought on by the boy's antics. There were times of immense pleasure when the boy had exhausted himself and would climb on to his father's massive chest, as Vincent lay on the floor or on his bed, rest his head down, and to the sound of the slow beat of Vincent's heart, would fall asleep.

Vincent treasured these moments, like precious jewels, which he kept in his memory to bring out and examine in later years, as well as those of his time with Catherine. He would lie quietly, a warm and willing support for his child as he slept, smoothing a stray golden curl away from the child's face, a thing he remembered often doing as he had held Catherine in his arms. He would listen to his son's breathing and revel in the feel of the baby's sweet breath as it tickled his neck, and think himself the most fortunate of men.

****

Vincent was in his chamber playing with Jacob on the thick carpet, the sound of the six-month-old baby's deep chuckles echoing in the room as his father tickled him. Father entered, and Vincent looked up, knowing instantly that his father was disturbed. He picked Jacob up but stayed kneeling on the floor and asked. "Father what troubles you?"

Father sat heavily on Vincent's bed, a piece of paper in his hand and said in a soft voice filled with awe. "I don't know how to tell you."

Vincent, always the realist stated simply. "Just say it Father."

Shaking his head with tears in his eyes Father said. "It's Catherine. It's something she has done."

Vincent's heart lurched painfully at the mention of Catherine, and he closed his eyes, holding his son close against him and placed a kiss on his soft golden head. He stood then and carried Jacob over to his crib and settled him in it and came to stand before Father, knowing that whatever it was that Catherine had done, it had to be wonderful. "What has she done Father?"

Father simply handed the paper to Vincent and he saw that it was a letter from attorney. As he read it, Father spoke with amazement. "She has made Peter and me joint beneficiaries of her will. And Vincent, it is a very considerable amount. It will be enough to help this world and our helpers for many years to come, if it is handled properly."

Vincent read the letter, his attention focused on every word, and then he looked up at the ceiling and closed his eyes, sighing deeply, his pain still so new. Yet behind the pain was such a feeling of love. This was yet another selfless act by the woman he loved and his heart still ached for her loss. "Even now she touches our lives with her love and generosity." he said softly, tears coming to his eyes.

"Yes," Father said sadly, "she knew that she could not give it to you officially, even though I am convinced that if she could, she would have."

Vincent's eyes glowed with the fire of true understanding as he said. "But she did Father don't you see? She knew that by giving it to you and Peter she was giving not only to me but to our world as well … and our son."

Father embraced Vincent both filled with joy as well as sorrow, by what this would mean to their fragile world. This now meant that so many things were possible.

In the months following this Father and Vincent with Peter and the Council,made plans and one of them was to set up a company Above and it was decided to name it "The Catherine Chandler Charities Corporation" 4Cs:Part of that plan was Joe Maxwell. Helpers had informed them that his tenure as the District Attorney was coming to an end and he would not be running for the office.

*****

Joe Maxwell was in his office late in the evening as usual, when a man came through the door. Joe looked up from his desk. It was the old man he'd met only three times before, and each time under very strange circumstances. Joe leaned back in his chair, his dark brown eyes watching the old man closely. He was leaning heavily on a cane, and the old fashioned brown suit and hat he was wearing made him appear as though he'd just stepped out of a 50's movie. Joe smiled ruefully, "You again! What the hell do you want?" Rising from his chair Joe walked to the old man. "I wondered if I'd ever see you again, after that raid on the place in Staten Island panned out so . – Wells was it?"

The old man nodded and was very formal as he said. "Mr Maxwell, I don't think I had the chance to thank you for your part in finding Catherine's killer. You did more for Catherine than you can ever know." His crisp British accent was a counterpoint to Joe's broad New Yorker brogue.

"And you're not gonna tell me what that is, I suppose."

The man smiled and shook his head, "I'm sorry Mr. Maxwell."

"Figures, listen Mr. Wells, you have more secrets than a magician. Popping in and out of taxis whenever it suits you. Which reminds me, how did you get in here?"

A wry grin touched Father's lips. "Magic Mr Maxwell, magic…"

Joe scoffed. "Don't go all cryptic on me old man. What do you want this time? Cathy's murder case has been closed, although no one ever found the baby or any sign of this Vincent character. There was a crib in the room where they found Gabriel's body, but no baby. Do you know anything about that?"

The old man changed the subject. "I've heard that you are leaving the District Attorney's office Mr Maxwell."

Joe allowed the change for the moment and answered. "Yeah, what's it to you?"

Father ignored the question, "The papers said you had no position to go to and had refused many offers."

"Yeah, so?"

"Would you mind telling me why?"

"I don't even know who you are pal. Why should I tell you anything?" Joe ran his fingers through his thick black hair, "Let's just say recent events have made me rethink a few things; does that answer your question? Although why I'm telling you I don't know."

"What are your plans?"

Joe turned away from the old man, knowing that he could trust him, but uncomfortable with discussing his private life but there was something about this man that encouraged trust so he said. "Oh I dunno go on a vacation maybe. Haven't had one for almost seven years, guess it's about time."

"Well when you return from your vacation Mr. Maxwell, I have a proposition I thought you might be interested in."

"Tell me now. What kind of proposition?"

"I, and some acquaintances of mine, will be founding a charitable organization, funded by Catherine Chandler's estate."

"Cathy's estate, how'd you get your hands on Cathy's estate?"

"Quite legally Mr. Maxwell, I assure you. I am one of her beneficiaries."

"You, why you?"

"The reasons are not at issue here Mr. Maxwell, what is, is the question of whether you would head the legal department of the Catherine Chandler Charities Corporation?"

Joe sat down heavily gathering his thoughts – this evening was full of surprises and he had questions, many questions that needed answering and this old man was his only link to those answers. "If, and I mean a very big IF, I took the job, I'd want answers to some very important questions, not all this evasive crap."

Vincent had told Father that Joe would need more than a simple answer to any of his questions and that he must trust Joe with these answers, no matter what they entailed.

"What would you like to know Mr. Maxwell?"

"Who is Vincent, for starters? I know you know something about the guy. And where is Cathy's baby?"

Vincent had warned Father that Joe would most likely ask this question and had recommended he be truthful, so he answered. "Catherine's son is well, and safe."

"With you?"

"With his father,"

"Vincent." Father felt Joe had already deduced this much but still wanted to hear the words.

Reluctantly Father answered. "Yes."

"So why're you the one Cathy left her money to, why not him, if she loved him so much?"

"That's a difficult question to answer."

With a smile Joe leaned back in his chair, waved a hand, picked up a large rubber band and started rolling it over his hands, "Give it a try."

But the habit of keeping Vincent safe was too strong for Father to overcome. "I have told you all I can Mr Maxwell. Either you want to work with us on Cathy's charity or you don't. I can say no more." And he began to leave.

"Wait!" Joe left his chair and hurried to the door, before Father had opened it. "Okay I'll take the job, on one condition."

For Joe there really wasn't a choice. He'd been looking for something that would give him the sense of achievement and Criminal Law had lost its appeal. The 'Big Chair' he had coveted for so long had lost its mystique. This sounded like he could not only help the disadvantaged but make him feel like he was doing some good for Cathy as well. He still blamed himself for not finding her in time.

Father knew what it was Joe wanted but he asked regardless, "What is it?"

"I wanna meet this Vincent guy."

"That is impossible Mr. Maxwell." Father opened the door, intending to leave.

Joe stopped him with a hand on the doorknob. "Impossible or not Mr Wells, that's my condition. If you want me, I meet Vincent."

Father gave Joe a long angry look, his thoughts fearful for Vincent, as he opened the door. On his way out of the offices and toward the elevator, Joe's voice came from behind him. "I'm available from 9 to 5 most days – get him to make an appointment."

Joe went back to his desk and thought over all he knew about Vincent. He had suspected that Vincent had something to do with Catherine's death, all the many notes and inscribed books from him in Catherine's apartment told him that much. Diana had discovered that he was not only Catherine's protector but the man she loved and no doubt the father of her child. When the real murderer was discovered Joe made up his mind to meet this man Cathy had said so little about. Joe had suspicions and he wouldn't rest until these suspicions were satisfied.

*****

Fathertold Vincent of Joe's demand and he agreed to meet with Joe. After a long discussion Vincent, with his knew-found self assurance, had convinced his father that he must meet with Joe Maxwell and tell him anything he wanted to know saying. "He has a right to make an informed choice Father. Besides it is about time he was told the truth. He had truly cared for Catherine."

That night Vincent wasn't surprised when, as quiet as he knew he had been, entering Joe Maxwell's apartment, there was a muffled curse, a thump, and a shadowed figure came running out of the bedroom, gun in hand.

"Who's there?" Joe demanded, coming further into the room. "I'll shoot if you make a move." And to Vincent's highly tuned senses, he could feel anger emanating from him.

From the darkness Vincent said in a gentle tone. "You have no need of a weapon Joe Maxwell."

"I'll be the judge of that pal. Who the hell are you and what do you want?" The gun was levelled into the shadows, where Vincent stood; Joe had instincts of his own it seemed.

"You asked to see me – I am Vincent."

"Vincent?" Joe stated amazement in his voice, "Hey pal, my office is downtown. Make an appointment with my assistant."

Vincent was silent for a moment and then softly and with resignation murmured. "For me, that is impossible Mr. Maxwell. You wanted to meet me – and here I am." And he opened his arms in a gesture of surrender.

"Come into the light so I can see who I'm talking to." Joe demanded, and he bent and turned on a lamp.

Vincent stayed in the shadows, Joe saw only a tall dark figure, shake his head. "This will have to be enough."

But Joe would have none of it. "No way pal, I want more than a shady looking character hiding in the dark, I want answers. Now come into the light, or the deal's off."

Vincent felt animosity coming from Joe, yet there was no longer a threat, so he took a step into the light. He had done this with many people over the years with varied outcomes. Also if this man wished to, he could destroy Vincent, with more than the gun. The instincts, which had served him all his life, told him to trust Joe Maxwell, and so he took a step closer to the light and pushed back his hood.

He watched as Joe's eyes went wide, and his gaze travelled from the top of Vincent's, golden maned head, to his face, then down to his uncovered hand. Joe's face paled, his pulse raced and Vincent could feel his shock and fear, but the gun stayed steady. "What are you?" Joe asked breathlessly.

Vincent spoke clearly and with no regret or apology as he answered. "I am what I am, Joe Maxwell and I am here at your request."

Joe was silent, taking in what he saw and adding it to what he had heard from Catherine and Diana to come to only one conclusion. "You're the one that kept saving Cathy like Diana said. It was you who killed all those guys in the years before Cathy died… It was you who killed Moreno in the park that night." It wasn't a question.

"He was trying to kill Elliot Burch, and I needed Elliot Burch. Moreno had been sent by the man who killed Catherine." Vincent spoke softly and painfully, the memory of those terrible days still all too clear. He didn't mention that he also received two bullet wounds that night which had almost killed him.

"So it was self defence." Joe needed to justify the killing of his old boss, even though he had also been responsible for Catherine's kidnapping.

"It was necessary. I have learned that it is sometimes necessary to do evil to protect the innocent." There was no apology and no regret in Vincent's voice. He had accepted much about himself in the last year, least of all that sometimes he was required to take one life to protect another and that remorse was a futile endeavour.

"Geez." Joe murmured running his fingers through his hair and looking away.

Vincent stayed silent. This man had a lot of conclusions to come to. He had investigated Catherine's death and he had learnt a great deal about Vincent and Catherine's lives together, but he had to make them on his own. From what he knew of Joe Maxwell, nothing else would do, so Vincent waited.

"Then Diana was right. You were Cathy's protector. You knew when she was in trouble somehow and you saved her, like some avenging …" the word Angel didn't quite fit so Joe left it unsaid. "And you're the father of her baby?' Joe almost choked. His earlier understanding of Vincent being the father of Cathy's baby took on a whole new dimension.

Still Vincent stood quietly waiting.

Joe let out a long breath, fell onto the nearest couch and dropped the gun on the cushion beside him. "Jesus, no wonder she never mentioned you."

Vincent was well acquainted with the effect he had on people and he observed Joe's conclusions with detachment. He was always amazed at the different ways people accepted him, even though like Joe, some took a few minutes to do so.

"And Diana knows something about you, doesn't she?" Joe declared

Vincent hesitated. "Diana Bennett – is – a friend."

Running his fingers through his hair again, Joe blew out a long breath. "I knew she was holding something back, I just knew it!" Then he pushed himself off the couch. "I need a drink" His voice revealing his feelings. He went to a cupboard and took out an unopened bottle of Scotch. It must have been a Christmas gift. It still had the ribbon and card attached. He turned to his visitor and asked, "You want one?"

"No, thank you." Vincent murmured softly. The fact was, he preferred wine but only rarely drank it.

Joe sat back on the couch carrying the bottle. Lifting the glass of brown liquid in a toast toward his guest, he murmured. "Never thought I'd ever open this, but a beer just wouldn't do the job somehow."And he put the glass to his lips.

He is coping very well, Vincent thought, as Joe took a long swallow of the Scotch, then filled the glass again and sipped at it more slowly. When he was relaxed, the questions began.

"Okay, Cathy was with you those ten days when she disappeared in 87, right?"

"Yes, there was no time to get Catherine to a hospital; she had lost too much blood." The memory as clear now as it had been then, of the coppery smell of blood seeping into the wet grass, as he came out of the culvert. Following it to the unconscious young woman lying like a discarded doll so badly treated and left to die. He had felt her life slipping away as he approached, and his heart had ached with compassion. Why one human would do such a thing to another he did not know; not then, he knew better now. She had recovered quickly tended by him alone, her eyes covered so she would not be frightened by his appearance. Lovingly tended and read to from his favourite books. A time when she had trusted him and listened to him and talked to him – a time of discovery and beginnings, of the miracle of her acceptance, a time when they were both forever changed never again to be completely apart.

Lifting the glass and looking up at the tall man standing in his living room, Joe said. "Take a seat pal. You're gonna be here for a while."

Vincent sat with his usual grace on the couch across from Joe, and the questions came thick and fast until two hours later Joe had drunk one third of the Scotch and had run out of immediate questions. Then after a few moments of silence he asked "Where is Cathy's baby?"

"He is safe." Vincent spoke softly, his love for the boy clear in his voice.

"With you," Joe stated, gesturing with the glass.

Vincent nodded.

"A boy."

"Yes, a beautiful boy."

"Now don't take this the wrong way, but who does he take after, Cathy or you?" Joe was now clearly sensitive to Vincent's feelings, but also curious.

"He is beautiful Mr. Maxwell – not just because he is my son – but because he is so much like Catherine."

Joe obviously wanted to be sure of what Vincent meant and he was still a little annoyed; he had loved Cathy too. "Now that doesn't answer the question. Does he look like you?"

Vincent was not offended, he had come to grips with his differences a long time ago, and Catherine's love had shown him that in his own way he too was beautiful, so without any animosity or defensiveness he responded. "He is a normal baby boy Mr. Maxwell – although there is the promise in him of something very extraordinary."

"Now you're sounding like a father." Joe stated with a smile.

Vincent smiled again proudly and shook his head with awe. "That is what I am Mr Maxwell – although it is something I had never dreamed of ever becoming."

"Now that I can believe," Joe took another sip of his drink.

Vincent leaned forward. "We both know that Catherine was an amazing person Mr. Maxwell and she came into my life like a miracle. She was like the sun, bursting forth into a life that had been filled with darkness until then. I had never dreamed that there could ever be one such as she, and because of her love for me I have a son. I wish with all my heart that she were here to raise him with me – but that was not to be, and I will mourn her loss for the rest of my life."

"Yeah she was one in a million all right." Joe said sadly.

"Yes," Vincent agreed. He sensed dawn approaching and turned to look out the window. "I must go." he said as he rose.

Joe leaned back in his chair. "You kept your part, so tell that old man I'll work for Cathy's company. And I'll keep this secret of yours."

As he stood by the window, Vincent turned, lifting his hood as he said, "Catherine would be very pleased Mr. Maxwell."

"Call me Joe."

Vincent nodded. "Thank you – Joe." And then put a hand on the open window sill to leave.

"Will I see you again?" Joe asked.

Vincent felt only curiosity in him now so he answered. "I have no doubt of it and one day perhaps you will meet Catherine's son. Good night Joe Maxwell." And Vincent was gone in a flurry of black cloth.

Joe, still seated on the couch, lifted the glass in a toast to his departed visitor and to his lost friend "So that was Vincent, here's to you Cathy, who'da thought you were into the strong silent type."

*****

As the years passed Joe Maxwell and Vincent became good friends and Catherine's charity was a credit to her, and the lives of those Below were better off because of the love of a woman some of them had never had the opportunity to meet.

Jacob grew with breathtaking speed, and as he did, so did the bond between him and his father. As with Catherine Vincent knew what his son was thinking and feeling, but in more detail and it made for some very complicated and at times tormented moments as Jacob's first tentative steps as an infant turned into a toddler's misadventures, to a boy's inherent curiosity.

Vincent would lie in his chamber each night, as his son slept nearby, and relive a memory of his life with Catherine. He compared the timid, sheltered and somewhat naïve young man he had been when he first met her, to the mature and confident man he now was. He knew that even though so much sorrow had touched his life, without Catherine he would not be the man he now was. Her love had at first awakened his heart and broadened his perceptions – then it had caused him to see his true potential. Finally it had revealed to him his true humanity in the form of his son, all because of a woman who dared to love him and encourage him to believe in dreams.

You were always there for me.

The tender wind that carried me,

A light in the dark shining your love into my life,

You've been my inspiration,

Through the lies you were the truth.

My world is a better place because of you.

*****