Luke

A/N: Missing Scene from "A Gentle Rain." First scene is taken from actual episode,...with some embellishment for the sake of creativity)

* * * *

White candles stood on every small outcropping and in every crevice. Some rested on shelves that had been put into the rock and others graced large candelabra that stood on the floor. A dark cloaked figure, intent upon his task, moved about the room lighting the candles that were still lifeless.

"Vincent?" called her voice from the outer chamber.

"In here," he guided.

When Catherine entered, she was instantly struck by the ethereal beauty of the candle light as it played against the rough walls. "Oh, Vincent," she breathed in awe as her eyes cast all around the room. Never would she have thought that a cave could be so beautiful.

"Do you like it?" he asked, moving to his next target.

"It's beautiful. It's perfect," she still couldn't keep her eyes from drinking it all in. "How could Kanin carve solid rock into something like this?"

"Because he trained himself. I don't think he knows what can't be done."

"That explains him asking me to get Lilacs at this time of year!"

They each set about their assignment. Vincent moved on to his next quarry as Catherine pulled small, flower-covered branches from her basket.

"When he asked me to light the candles, I thought he meant four or five," Vincent countered with his own seemingly impossible task.

Catherine giggled in understanding. "How much time do we have?"

"We should hurry," then to himself, 'If I had known how large the task I would have started earlier!'

"Was Olivia's first husband this romantic?" she asked, continuing to spread the fragrant blooms about the room.

"How can I judge? I didn't know Kanin was this romantic!"

Catherine chuckled again.

"In there, too," he instructed.

With single-mindedness she moved towards the section of the chamber he had indicated. Her steps slowed as the contents of the adjoining room were revealed to her and she sighed at the beauty of it. An elegant bed, all in white, stood before her. It was draped in a beautifully hand-crafted, lace cover. Similar hand-crafted pillows rested gently against an ornate headboard. Tall, white candelabra lofted a single candle on either side of the bed, completing the picturesque gift of love.

Vincent sensed the change in her immediately, but she soon came back to herself and the duty she had yet to perform. As she moved toward the bed, she pulled the Lilacs from her basket and began to place them gracefully onto the coverlet. These flowers didn't do it justice--it was so beautiful, almost art-like, and as she moved about the bed, she began to feel a myriad of emotions: envy, sadness, longing, happiness, jealousy. It was almost overwhelming and her heart beat a little faster as she placed a bouquet of Baby's Breath among the pillows.

Vincent felt all of it and gazed into the doorway she had moved through. His hand paused after lighting a candle and he leaned slightly against the wall, bracing himself against the barrage of her emotions as well as his own. 'Yes, my Catherine,' he thought. 'This is what it could be like.'

Catherine stepped back to inspect her handiwork. 'Olivia will love this...I love it!' she thought with a smile.

Vincent stole quietly to the doorway and rested his shoulder against the arch. "Do you think Olivia will like this room?"

Catherine broke out of her trance-like thoughts and instantly realized that he knew. It startled her at first. He wasn't really asking if Olivia would like it...he was asking if she liked it. 'Be careful of what you ask, Vincent. You may get an answer,' she thought. She started to reply, but decided to let him off the hook a little and simply answered his question--only she did so in the same manner as his question was posed. "Olivia will love this room," and she moved past him into the outer living area again.

'I wish I could give it to you,' he thought as he looked about the now empty bed chamber and toyed with a candle between his fingers.

"No. Not yet," a man's voice said from the hallway.

"Kanin!" came the exasperated response.

Catherine rushed over and whispered, "They're here!" as she grabbed his hand to pull him from the room.

Kanin led his blindfolded wife through the doorway as he carried their young son. "Right here," he said, pulling her hand. He glanced over his shoulder and spied his cohorts hiding against the wall. Kanin cast them a knowing smile as Olivia giggled at all the mystery.

"Ok, come and stand right over here," he guided, trying to clear an escape path for his friends. "Turn this way."

Catherine and Vincent slipped behind them and into the hall. They were supposed to take Luke to Mary so they waited for their charge outside as Kanin unveiled his wife's gift.

"There always seemed to be another family whose need for a chamber was greater than his own," Vincent explained as they waited.

"I think Olivia had given up," Catherine agreed.

"Hi," Kanin soon reappeared in the hallway with his son. "Here he is."

"Hey, Luke," Catherine greeted the child, reaching for him.

"Tell Mary one of us will be by for him first thing tomorrow morning." Then caressing his son's cheek, "You be a good boy. I love you."

"Vincent, Catherine,...thank you," he said before leaving.

"Don't worry about Luke," Catherine assured and giggled with delight as the baby reached a curious hand toward Vincent. He caught the tiny fingers easily and bit them between his lips. The baby grew wide-eyed in awe and couldn't tear his gaze from this new person.

Kanin knew his little pride and joy was in good hands and returned to his speechless wife with a smile, leaving the odd trio alone in the hall to make their own way this day.

"I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to this," Catherine grinned as she bounced the baby in her arms.

"Yes?" Vincent glanced at her as he ducked through a low section in the tunnel.

"Yea," she responded as-a-matter-of-factly. "When did Mary say she'd be back?"

"Sometime this evening."

"I feel a little guilty not telling Kanin." For an instant a shadow cast over her features, but then the baby reached up to place a tiny palm on her nose. She gasped in mock surprise and Luke giggled in delight.

"It was your decision," Vincent reminded her.

"A selfish one, too. I freely admit it," she smiled up at her companion.

"Your logic was sound, if not completely rationalized," he teased.

"Well, I'm right aren't I?" she countered. "Kanin wouldn't have wanted to impose on us and he probably would have put it off or at the very least, waited until Mary was free."

"It's true. He wouldn't have imposed on us," Vincent agreed, "but, there are others in the tunnels who would be willing to watch Luke." He'd been waiting to point out the flaw in her logic and took great pleasure in challenging her "I'm-gonna-cover-all-the-bases" lawyer's strategy.

"Oh?" she looked a little disappointed, but quickly recovered. "Well, they're not getting him from me now. I've got first dibs!"

Vincent chuckled at the easy way she switched tracks. If logic didn't work, resort to the bare truth.

As soon as they entered Vincent's chamber, Catherine released her tiny captive onto the rug.

"Rumor has it that Luke will start walking any day now. I hope his first steps are for his parents and not for us," Vincent said.

"Who are we to stop progress?" Catherine's eyes took on a new gleam. "If he wants to walk today, then we'll simply have to suffer through it."

Vincent gave her a knowing smile before replying. "Yes. I suppose we shall."

Luke scurried over to the bed and grasping the large quilt, began to pull himself onto his feet.

"He's certainly making a valiant effort," Vincent remarked.

Soon, little fingers were pulling pillows to the floor. Luke watched them stir up the finer dust and dirt before dropping to his bottom, then an ill-fated pillow ended up in the tiny mouth as he eagerly chewed its corner.

"Well, that can't taste very good," Catherine remarked as she lifted him and his new companion into her arms. When she pulled the pillow away, Luke gave her a hurt look and started to cry.

"What time is it?" Vincent asked.

"Ten till ten. Do you still have the schedule or did you give it to Mary already?"

Vincent went to his desk and pulled a small slip of paper from beneath a stack of books.

"That looks familiar," Catherine said with a grin. It had the District Attorney's logo across the top, but the name beneath it said Philip Anderson.

"Yes. If any of the other papers somehow managed to find their way above one day, Mr. Anderson may never work in politics or law again. The children have been drawing crayon pictures on these." Suddenly Vincent laughed, "Can you picture it? Manhatten District Attorney's office take depositions in Crayola," he quoted dramatically, as if reading a newspaper headline.

They laughed together. It was a rare occasion to hear Vincent laugh and Catherine enjoyed it immensely.

"Well, when Moreno took office they had to get all new stationary. There were two full boxes of this stuff found in a storage closet," she said as she took the list from him. "It was just going to be thrown away, so I offered to take it."

"Your world casts so much aside," Vincent said sadly. If Catherine hadn't been there, then all that precious paper would have been disposed of.

"They don't recognize beauty and wealth," Catherine replied, looking at him tenderly. Vincent looked at her suddenly and realized that she had turned the conversation around. He dropped his eyes in embarrassment and nodded slightly.

Luke was getting a little annoyed at being ignored and increased his volume.

"It says ten o'clock is a post-breakfast and pre-lunch snack," Catherine returned her attention to the schedule. "What do you suggest?"

"Why don't we see what's available first," Vincent replied as he gathered his composure again.

They struck out for the kitchen chamber. Catherine bounced the baby and tried to quiet him with a soothing voice that promised something "nummy for his tummy."

"I beg your pardon?" Vincent teased in a very adult tone.

"Oh, just let it go," Catherine retorted and poked him in the arm.

"What's all that caterwauling?" Father grumbled.

Vincent and Catherine were chuckling at each other and Luke was becoming thoroughly fed up with all this happiness while his tummy was growling. Father had come to the food storage closet to get some tea when he heard the commotion coming down the corridor.

"Luke is asking for his snack, Father," Vincent answered. He stood aside and allowed Catherine to pass ahead of him.

"Asking, eh?" Father's eyes twinkled as he took the baby from Catherine. "Well, why don't we comply to his request before the demanding starts. I do believe I just saw some applesauce over there."

Vincent found the jar in the ice chest and Catherine pulled a small bowl from a closet cupboard.

"My, my, my. Such a ruckus," Father scolded. "At least his lungs are as healthy as his appetite."

"Well, I'd love to stay and help, but it looks like you two have everything under control," Father said sarcastically.

"This is control?" Catherine laughed.

"Of course," Father returned. "You have all the ingredients here. A baby, food, and an appetite. Here you are, my boy." Father passed the squalling Luke to his son and hurried away, not wanting to get roped into anything that wasn't quiet and relaxing this morning.

"The surreptitious retreat," Catherine explained.

"Humph. So much for fatherly support," Vincent said rather loudly toward the direction the old man had taken.

"I heard that," Father called from his tunnel exit.

* * * *

Once fed, Luke settled down quietly to play. After he had been cleaned up and his caretakers had removed the applesauce from everything around them in a three foot radius, including themselves, they returned to Vincent's chamber. The group thoughtfully steered clear of the library where Father was working.

Vincent sat at his table trying/pretending to read while Catherine sat on the floor watching Luke's antics. Occasionally she would reach out and pull him away from something and tickle him. Vincent, with book in hand, would glance at the page and then at the comedy duo in front of him.

"What's that you're reading?" Catherine asked of him.

"Selected works of Poe."

"I thought you liked Poe."

"I do. Why do you ask?" Vincent was puzzled.

"It's just that you haven't turned a page in the last half hour," Catherine smiled.

His voice was light and warm as he returned her smile. "I can read this anytime. It's not often I have the drama unfold before me."

Anything that Luke could reach was instantly tasted and chewed on. He would scurry away from Catherine and pull himself to his feet. Soon, tiny fingers would appear over the top of a table or chest and the items that adorned it would find themselves on the floor for his later inspection and taste approval. Sharp or dangerous objects were quickly placed out of reach, along with other more sentimental items. Vincent nearly knocked over his chair as he jumped up to rescue his journal.

"Perhaps I can find something more suitable for his scrutiny," he said at last and moved to open his old toy trunk.

Luke was instantly interested in his friend's actions and pulled himself along the furniture as far as it would take him before he dropped to his knees. Speed was apparently of the essence to the child. To Catherine, it reminded her of a turtle race she had once seen in the park as a young girl.

Vincent sifted through his collection and pulled out several wooden blocks with the alphabet carved on the sides. The ever curious Luke, stood beside the box and reached inside, but the walls of the trunk were too tall for his little arms and he couldn't reach any of the treasures within.

As the available resources on the outside of the trunk began to grow, Luke dropped to the floor and began his methodical inspection. Touch, bang, look, bang, chew, look, chew.

"Do you think this will hold his attention?" Vincent asked, eyeing the pile.

"For at least three or four minutes," Catherine laughed. Then added, "If we're lucky!"

"Vincent?" called a familiar voice.

"Yes?"

"Hi Catherine," Mouse happily greeted her. "Here early."

"Good morning Mouse. Yes, I am. I'm helping Vincent watch Luke," Catherine answered with a warm smile. There was always a soft spot in her heart for Mouse.

"Kanin's big surprise for Olivia? Today?" Mouse screwed up his face in concentration, trying to remember. "Mouse forgot."

"What is it you need Mouse?" Vincent asked.

"Vincent's help. Never mind. Later," and he turned to leave.

"What is it?" Vincent asked again.

"Cullen's making new work bench for Mouse. Need to move old one to make room. Won't take long. Heavy is all."

"Do you mind?" Vincent asked Catherine.

"No, not at all. We'll be fine," she assured him.

"You're sure?" Concern filled his eyes and he reached out through their bond to sense any disappointment.

"I'm positive. We'll be here when you get back."

Vincent rose from his knees and closed the trunk. "There are more toys in there if you need them. I won't be long."

"Toys!?" Mouse's face lit up, completely forgetting his request.

Vincent gave him a stern look and a slight push out the door. Catherine simply laughed. Today was indeed a very special day.

* * * *

Finally content, Luke quietly inspected his newest acquisitions. Catherine would occasionally stack a few of the blocks up five or six high and smile as Luke's eyes grew wide with wonder. He would then slowly lose interest in whatever happened to be in his hand or mouth and crawl over to the monument. He reached out carefully at first and then decided that it was better to start at the bottom and work his way up causing the whole structure to topple over immediately. It never failed to send him into peals of laughter which were highly contagious and always managed to sweep Catherine along with it.

When he returned his attention to the other toys, Catherine looked about the room. 'What a mess,' she thought. 'Was Luke ever a name for a hurricane?' Slowly surrendering in defeat to the upcoming task, she shook her head. It was her responsibility. After all it was her idea to watch after Luke until Mary returned. Oh, yes. Vincent had agreed to it, and even seemed to like the idea, but the fact remained...

She began to put away the items that were on the floor closest to her first. Each object received a little scrutiny of her own. How was this important to Vincent? Why did he keep it? How had he come to get it? She smiled as she imagined which were gifts from the children and which had simply been found.

Finally recognizing the size of the job in front of her, she saved these idle thoughts for the more unusual momentos and moved around the chamber, retracing Luke's steps and righting all the fallen and misplaced objects.

Something changed. Tap? No, that was the pipes. What happened to bang, bang? Why was Luke so quiet? She turned and found that he had finally grown tired of the toys and had moved toward a pedestal supporting an old clay bust. The sort that you might find in the lobby of a building used for dedication purposes.

Luke reached for the leg and the pedestal jerked sharply to one side. One of the legs was shorter than the others and the motion caused the top-heavy bust to tip and fall.

"Luke!" Catherine cried and threw herself at the baby.

* * * *

Vincent was already returning when he felt her fear. His step faltered only a moment before he took off in a mad dash back to his chamber.

When he entered he found Catherine on the floor trying to calm a very frightened Luke.

"Catherine!"

"We're alright," she said, before returning to rock the baby. "Shh, it's ok. It's alright. Shush now."

"What happened?" Vincent's heart was still pounding furiously.

"Vincent, please. Calm down or I'll never get him quiet," she tried to say in a calm voice and then explained, "He tried to use that stand to pull himself up and the sculpture fell over. The noise scared him, that's all."

Vincent looked over at the broken bits of pottery and let out a relieved sigh. "Is he alright?"

"He's fine. Just a little shook up."

Overcome with relief, Vincent pulled them into an embrace. Catherine gasped and winced in pain.

"You're hurt!"

"I'll be alright. It's just a bruise. I couldn't let it fall on him, could I?" she said.

Vincent simply stared at her. Her logic in this was not beyond him. He would gladly have stepped in front of danger to protect her, but she was his life. If anything happened to her, there would be nothing for him. It awed him that she could have so much love within her as to risk herself for people she barely knew; children, strangers, criminals. It made no difference to her.

Luke had quieted somewhat and clung to Catherine's neck sniffling.

"What happened?" Father asked stepping into the chamber. He had heard the frightened cries all the way in the study.

"We just had a little mishap," Catherine tried to say lightly.

"The bust was knocked over," Vincent explained.

"Is everyone alright?" Father immediately became the doctor.

"Yes, we're fine..." Catherine began, but was interrupted by Vincent.

"Catherine hurt her shoulder," he corrected.

"Let's have a look," Father said as Vincent took Luke from her.

"It's nothing, really. Just a bruise,...maybe a scrape or two."

Vincent reached down with his free hand and helped Catherine to her feet, then Father led her to a chair.

"Why don't you let me be the judge of that, hmm? How's Luke?"

"Just frightened, I think," Vincent replied as he gave the child a quick check.

"Well my dear, you're going to have a nasty bruise there. Let me get something to clean up those scrapes with." Father left for his medical bag.

"How's he doing?" Concern filled Catherine's face as she reached up to touch Luke with her good arm.

"Better," then to the baby, "That was quite a surprise, wasn't it?"

Luke was already recovering and was having a glorious time in Vincent's arms. He was close enough to touch the strange face and grasp the long, golden hair. With a fist full of hair, the youngster soon went into his ten month old inspection mode. Touch, bang, look, bang, chew, look, chew. Catherine laughed and Vincent sighed in defeat.

* * * *

Catherine patiently sat through the rest of Father's ministrations and agreed, after a lengthy compromise, to keep an ice bag on her shoulder for at least half an hour. She leaned back on Vincent's bed with his long since abandoned book of Poe and found a short selection which she guessed would take about half an hour to read.

After Luke was given lunch and a clean diaper, Vincent sat back into a rocking chair with the baby and quietly hummed an old lullaby. It effectively put both Luke and Catherine to sleep.

When he was sure that the baby was asleep, as well as his entire left arm, he stood and rested Luke beside Catherine on the bed. As he rose up and took in the sight before him it occurred to him that it looked completely natural to see the two of them sleeping in his bed.

He reached out to tenderly brushed the hair out of Catherine's face and ever so lightly stroked her cheek. His heart grew heavy and he sighed as a single tear escaped his eyes. 'Yes, my Catherine,' he thought again. 'This is what it could be like.'

* * * *

Catherine awoke to a pressure on her still aching shoulder and a warm breath on her cheek. She opened her eyes only to be greeted by the fine, silky hair on Luke's head. It was the most wonderful sensation she could remember waking to, even despite the pain. Not wanting to disturb the child she lay quietly and looked about the chamber finding Vincent starring at her with a most unusual expression on his face.

"Hi," she said, still a little sleepy.

"Hello."

"How long?" she whispered.

"An hour perhaps."

She smiled at him. "What was in that lullaby anyway? You should market it to insomniacs."

Vincent chuckled softly; the sparkle in his eyes never faltered for a moment.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" Catherine asked curiously.

"Like what?" he asked innocently.

"Like that!"

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," he teased.

"Uh-huh," she laughed and returned his stare. As the contest continued they both began to grin as if it were some sort of intense competition to see who would give-in first.

"What?" Vincent asked exasperated.

"Nothing," she said without blinking, imitating his earlier air of innocence. They still stared at each other, almost ready to burst with laughter.

"What do we do now?" Vincent finally asked.

"Say Uncle," she informed him in a whisper.

He shook his head slowly without leaving her gaze and quietly said, "No."

"Well then, I guess we wait until one of us gives up."

"And how long do you predict that will take?" he asked. His voice was filled with humor.

"Oh, three or four...hours. We're both pretty stubborn about these things you know," Catherine's eyes reflected her total enjoyment in this.

"Hours!?" Vincent repeated. "Well, I don't know that I want to spend that much time at this game despite how much I love your eyes, but I feel I should warn you Catherine,..." he said as he rose from the chair an knelt beside the bed, his eyes never leaving hers.

He leaned closer to her and the amusement in her face turned into a mask of expectation. "What's that?" she managed to say with a considerable amount of concentration.

He placed a lingering kiss upon her lips and waited till her eyes closed, before he allowed himself the same pleasure and enjoyed the completely engulfing sensation. When he finally pulled back, both were breathless.

He smiled into her drunken eyes and said, "I hate to lose."

* * * *

Thankfully, the rest of the day proceeded without further misadventures. It wasn't long after Catherine recovered from Vincent's onslaught that Luke awoke. He wanted everyone to be aware of the fact that he was once again open for business and ready to receive all their attention.

Mary returned earlier than expected and relieved the two worn-out adults of their welcomed burden. After she had collected the list and all Luke's little accessories, Mary took him off to her chamber leaving a happy, yet regretful Catherine.

Vincent took Catherine's arm and the couple made their way to the quiet and comfort of the study.

"How goes the babysitting business?" Father laughed at their exhaustion.

"Are you enjoying this, Father?" Vincent asked dryly.

"Absolutely," the old man defied. "The sweetest revenge a parent can take is watching his grown children wrestle with the unbridled energy of a toddler."

"I'd do it all again," Catherine interjected.

"Yes, I'm sure you would," then Father drove his point home. "And how is your shoulder?"

Catherine grinned in embarrassment. "Well, ok. Almost all of it."

"Will you stay and join us for a quiet dinner?" Father offered.

"Yes. I'd like that."

"Fine, fine. We'll see how much this day has effected you before we set you loose on the world above."

"What do you mean?" Catherine asked puzzled.

"Well, we wouldn't want you reaching over during an important luncheon to cut up someone's meat, now would we?" Father chuckled.

As soon as the picture of this predicament formed in their minds, Vincent and Catherine broke into a fit of laughter.

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