7

Always

By Southofoz

This is an imagined moment in Catherine's apartment in the episode 'The Rest Is Silence'. Rated PG.

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Catherine awoke to a soft touch on her face. She opened her eyes to see Vincent's face close to hers, and it was his fingers, lightly brushing her hair away from her eyes that had awakened her. Neither spoke.

For three days he had been delirious and she'd been terribly afraid for him. He had been feverish and she had removed as much of his clothing as she could, without compromising his modesty, and she had gladly tended his every need. She had comforted him when he was fearful and distressed, bathed him as he burned during a fever, held him through the chills and helped him to the bathroom when needed. During these painful days and throughout the delirium he had repeated four lines of poetry over and over.

Though they go mad, they shall be sane

Though they sink through the sea, they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost, love shall not;

And death shall no dominion.

He had spoken these words as though they were a lifeline, a mantra that would see him safely through the dark storms that raged in his mind.

Finally when the delirium and hallucinations abated and the chills and fever subsided, Catherine was able to coax him to the bed and cover him with a blanket. Lying down beside him she waited and watched concentrating on his every breath when he fell into a deep sleep.

She had recited those lines softly to herself as he slept, and when he asked suddenly, "You knew those lines?"

She had answered "You've been reciting them for three days. Who wrote them? Was it Dylan Thomas?" He had not answered her query, having fallen back into a deep sleep. That was some hours ago and Catherine too had fallen into an exhausted sleep afterward, assured that this lucid moment was a sign of his recovery. Now, he was looking down at her with such love that her heart ached with relief. She raised a hand to his cheek and it was not damp or burning and she smiled, reassured.

Clinically she saw that his color was better, less flushed, and his eyes were clear of fever. But the expression on his face was so full of love that it fairly took her breath away.

Relief flowed within her when he smiled in return, and Catherine was so overwhelmed and filled with such hope and joy that she couldn't help herself. She lifted her head and kissed him on the lips, with more deliberate passion than she had employed on the threshold of her apartment building – when Vincent had brought her home after her father's death. She reveled in the exciting sensation of his unique lips against hers, and she employed her tongue tasting – testing – encouraging a response.

At first there was a moment of stunned surprise and an indrawn breath from Vincent, and he began to withdraw. But Catherine moved her hand from cupping his cheek to the back of his head, burying her fingers in his thick hair, refusing to let him retreat.

Suddenly, as though the strength to withstand this sensual overload eluded him, Vincent relented, allowing the kiss to continue. Catherine felt his right arm come around her, almost certainly unconsciously on his part, pulling her closer to him.

Vincent was hesitant yet eager to experience these new tastes, and to draw in her fragrance with every breath. To absorb Catherine's feelings of need into himself, until that part of him that he had always struggled to keep asleep when they were close finally awoke, and what had begun as a simple loving touch became something more. And a burning need to touch this vibrant creature in his arms in ways he had only ever dreamed of overcame him.

It was then that all the years of denial conspired against them to take away their will. The chaste, yet loving embraces that they had allowed themselves now became the prelude to this long awaited moment and took away their capacity to stop what they both wanted so desperately. For the first time they were alone, in a bed, in each others arms and what happened next was the most natural thing in the world, but it was something that would change both their lives forever.

So caught up did they both become in this moment, that it took only the slightest encouragement from Catherine for Vincent to continue the kiss, until it turned into something more. Catherine guided and Vincent followed in the ways of love, and it wasn't long before they were both beyond kisses and at last into the realm of lovers. Giving and receiving caresses in thoughtless passion.

There was no loss of control on Vincent's part, as he had always feared in the past. His hands were gentle, his touch light and caring, his mind his own. He knew what he was doing and for the first time in his life he had no fear. He felt alive. He had always been the perfect gentleman whenever he had touched Catherine, never allowing his hands to wander, which he knew she had sometimes regretted. But now like any man who was venturing into the unknown land of lovers, he was eager and willing to learn. Although his inexperience was clear, Catherine gladly aided him by unbuttoning her shirt and guiding his hand beneath.

He gasped as his hands touched her flesh and she kissed him to reassure him and encourage him to step further into this new world. And as Catherine slid her hands beneath his shirt to touch his down covered skin, he gasped again. Still no words passed between them, as though words would shatter the spell that their love had woven about them.

Even as their passion built, Vincent stayed gentle as always; subliminally conscious of his claws and his fangs as he caressed her body and kissed her neck. And when, at the crucial meeting of their bodies, Catherine beckoned, Vincent entered. At last, to finally become one in flesh as they had always been in spirit.

Vincent shuddered and Catherine gasped with sheer pleasure, and for a time they were still. Their lips and tongues continued to give and take, savoring this moment, until their bodies, trembling on the threshold, were unable to wait any longer to instinctively begin the age-old dance of love.

Slowly at first and then with mutual consent the tempo increased, until their ears rang with music.

When they reached the crescendo together it was the cry of a man, filled with joy in his release that Catherine heard in her ears, not the roar of that primal part of him which Vincent had always feared would surface at such a time. It was as though through this mating Vincent's humanity had asserted itself amid his eternal battle to reveal, not only to Catherine, but to himself where the line was drawn.

The entire experience was so unexpected that they were still partially clothed as they lay entwined afterward, gathering their wits and catching their breath. Vincent was silent as he lay with his forehead on the pillow beside her, his breathing labored. "Vincent, are you all right?"

He shook his head and was still for several more breaths, and then he lifted his head and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips. "Catherine …" he whispered with awe in his voice, resting his forehead on hers, obviously unable to find the words but the joy on his face was clearly apparent.

Catherine knew what he meant by that one word and she smiled, gazing into his eyes she took his face into her hands and murmured. "I know…"

He sighed then and his expression changed and he rolled away from her and sat upon the edge of the bed. Silently, he stood and adjusted his clothing and walked the short distance to the French doors, to stand watching the sunset. He had withdrawn and Catherine didn't know why.

It was some moments before she followed him, unsure what to say to bring him peace, while she gathered her own senses. She decided to say nothing of what had just happened between them. "You're feeling better…"

"Yes." He looked down at his feet, now obviously remorseful and embarrassed. "I'm sorry…"

She was uncertain what he was sorry for, his illness or the weakness which made him unable to resist making love to her. She needed him to know that there was nothing to be sorry for, least of all something they had both wanted for so long. She put her arms tightly around him. "Oh Vincent, don't be sorry."

He shook his head. "It's been my struggle always, and now that I have so much to fight for …I'm losing."

"Maybe the worst is over."

"If its not I …its best that I'm below. I should go back." He looked at her unable to speak of what had happened.

Catherine looked out the balcony windows. "It'll be dark soon…"

"Catherine,"

She turned back to him. Would he speak of it?

"I don't know what will happen now."

Fear struck her. "You must promise me one thing," he looked down at her. "That you will share it with me, whatever happens, whatever comes."

He put his arm around her and pulled her close, then after a moment of silence he murmured, "Whatever happens, whatever comes, " he turned his head and kissed her forehead before adding. " know that I love you…"

They stood watching the city darken, held tight in each other's arms.

Then finally, "Catherine,"

"Yes,"

"Did I hurt you?"

She squeezed him tight, "No, oh no Vincent you didn't hurt me. You made me happier than I could ever be. It is natural for two people who love each other to share such a moment. I love you Vincent, you must know that you could never hurt me."

They stood holding each other as the sun set, "I had always feared…" he murmured softly into her hair.

"I know…" she replied.

When the sky darkened fully, Catherine helped him with gentle and loving hands to dress, finally smoothing his cloak over his shoulders. "Must you go?" she asked, afraid now to lose the intimacy that they had only now discovered and after having him so near, and hers alone, in these last days, she was reluctant to relinquish any of it.

He turned to face her. "I must,"

"I'll see Peter about the results of your tests and then come below as soon as I can, maybe they will shed some light on why this happened to you."

"Catherine … If it returns…If I lose myself again …"

"It may not return. The worst could be over Vincent. We loved and you were yourself and none of your fears were realized. You loved like other men do, gentle and caring. Please hold onto that."

"I will," He didn't tell Catherine his true fears were that when he was away from her it would return, that unknown something that clawed at him from within. Catherine's presence had always calmed him, and now he had experienced the most blissful moment in his life in her arms. Would that be taken away when she was no longer in reach, what would happen then?

"I will come below as soon as I can and we will face whatever happens… together."

He took her hand, "Together,"

"Yes, Vincent together, always…"

"Always?" what was she saying?

She lifted up and kissed him gently on the lips. "Now and always, Vincent…" she reaffirmed.

He searched her face for a moment afraid to hope, and then with great reluctance he let her go and made his way through the French doors to the balcony, and then slipped into the night with one word ringing in his heart.

Always …

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