Summary: Vincent managed to get to Catherine in time before she died. In a last resort he takes her to a scientist who may have the solution for saving her…. By giving her a part of Vincent that shames him greatly. A/U for S3

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Beauty and the Beast

Pairing: Vincent/ Catherine

Rating: T

A DIFFERENT PATH:

Vincent had been terrified that he would be too late to save. He was afraid that he would find her gone from this world and gone from his heart. His worst fears had fled the minute he saw her, the minute he heard her heart beat. It was faint but it was still beating and with that Vincent held the hope that she could be saved, that she could be made strong again. She was so pale, so fragile, and so weak. Vincent didn't know how much longer she would have. Beside her he found a vial. Without a moments thought he took it and put it in his pocket. Carefully, so very carefully he lifted his love into his arms and with great speed he glided through the shadows towards Ather. He was a scientist who had marveled at Vincent, not reviled him for what he was. The man was someone in pursuit if knowledge and Vincent, to Ather, was the greatest puzzle to solve. If there was any hope to save Catherine then Vincent would have to entrust her to the scientist and to his unorthodox methods. This was a gamble Vincent had to make. To live in a world without Catherine was not something he wanted to think about. To lose Catherine, Vincent would lose his handle on reason, on his sanity, on his life. He would never be the same again.

Many streets over Vincent found the secluded lab of his friend and the only other doctor he trusted. And it was great trust he was showing right now in bringing Catherine here. Vincent waited for a few cars to pass before he went to the back bay window. Inside he saw the aged scientist kicked back and relaxed at his desk with a thoughtful expression on his face. Vincent knocked on the window quickly to grab the old mans attention. Ather turned to him and then jerked his head towards the side door that was away from the street.

ATHER'S LAB:

It was a funny thing in the to geneticist's mind. He was thinking about a marvel in human evolution and then the subject of his thoughts happened to be at the window. Vincent was carrying a woman who looked to be in the clutches of death itself. Still what scientist missed the chance to play god and snatch someone back from the jaws of death. Rushing to the door Ather let Vincent in and watched as the Lion carefully placed her on the gurney before turning to him. Ather could see such sorrow, pain, and anguish in his friends eyes. Vincent's hand disappeared into his pocket and then produced a nearly empty vial. He tossed it to Ather, who had reflexes well beyond a man of his age, caught the vial out of the air and stared at it. This was a powerful new sedative that was still in development. If his woman was poisoned with this then there would be little hope for her. Yet, Ather always did the impossible. And he would have to prove that right here and right now.

"Her heart still beats please help her." Vincent begged. His voice broke with emotion and with rage at whomever dared to harm his love; his heart. Catherine held a piece of his soul and the very balance of his sanity in her hands. Without he feared he would lose his grip on reality; become the feral monster he had been months ago. It was then that Catherine had saved him from that as well. The madness that had burned in his mind had been like a fever only growing hotter and hotter. But the minute he felt Catherine the fires seemed to dull and lessen but they did not extinguish. He didn't remember all of what had happened but he knew enough and he remembered that Catherine had not turned her back on him.

"Vincent, this is a strong drug, a sedative. By rights she should be dead already." And yet the mystery as to why she was not dead peaked Ather's curiosity and he stepped closer to take her vitals. He was simply amazed at her continued survival, the beat of her heart, and the labor her lungs were going through to keep fighting, to keep on living. Ather had moved his fingers to the side of her neck to check the pulse when and ominous, dangerous, growl sounded from across the gurney. Growling in return Ather spoke through clenched teeth, "If you want me to help her then back away."

Ather knew that in order to save her life he would have to use the serum that he had developed from the studies of Vincent's own DNA makeup. It was the only way, he knew it was, but it was dangerous and untested, except on himself. But what would Vincent do to him if it didn't work? Would the lion smash everything in sight and then finally take his rage out on Ather? There was no telling with a lion that was faced with losing his lioness. Still he had to do it. Moving quickly Ather retrieved what he would needed to save the young woman's life. Ather grabbed the vial from the specimen fridge and a syringe that was beside it. Taking no chances he would dose her with the entire vial. She was so close to death he would have to double the dosage to even see results. Ather took her left arm and saw the previous injection site; it was as good as any right now. He was about to insert the needle into her skin when Vincent stopped him again. There was no time for this if he was to save her life. But he understood that he was worried about his woman. If Ather was in Vincent's place he would be just as worried and just as cautious.

"What is that?" Vincent asked, but he knew he should stand aside and let Ather do his work. Yet, the animal part of him, the wild side snarled out at the man who was touching his love.

"It's a way to save her life, now shh." Ather shook off Vincent's arm and slid the needle home in the woman's arm. He pushed the purple liquid out of the syringe and into her until the plunger was all the way to the bottom. Only time would tell for the fate of this poor woman. Before turning away Ather placed electrodes to keep track of her heart beat, her pulse, and her respiration. All that was left was for them to wait. Without saying anything Ather moved to his desk and kicked the wheeled chair over to Vincent to the great hulking lion would not have to stand the entire night. Oh, sure, Ather knew that the man was strong than most, but the worry that was weighing down on him was terrible and any minute he would crumble. Better to be sitting than standing. A few seconds past and then Vincent sat and Ather was relieved.

"When will we know if…?" Vincent trailed off. His voice was too soft; his heart was too frail to ask such questions. Through his bond with Catherine he could feel her continued fight for life. The monitor told him what he knew; she was fighting, drawing on his strength for now until she had enough of her own. He took her hand and waited, it was all he could do.

"Vincent," Oh, where to begin with a young man in pain. "This is very experimental. It is so experimental that no research grant in America, in the world, will touch it. I developed this from your own genetic code, and added a few other things. You have perfect health and an immune system that I have never seen." Ather took a pause and a deep breath, tried to control the excited scientist within him, and then he continued again. "If this is to work and I stress the word if she will be different." Ather checked the monitor and saw that her heart beat was getting steadily stronger, but it would another two hours before she would be strong enough to even wake up; if she did wake up.

"How different?" For right now Vincent was going to be selfish; he wanted Catherine to live at any cost, not matter what. Was it right to subject her to this? What right did he have to make that choice for Catherine? Vincent made the choice to save her, to keep her close, and to give her the chance she needed to one day see their child again.

"If I'm any indication then she will be perfectly normal on the outside, but her mind and her actions will be more geared to how you act; the animal that is so close to the surface with you. Only time will tell with her." Ather pulled another chair to sit opposite from his leonine friend. "When I met you that first night I was dying. Out of curiosity and need to understand, you let me take what I needed to comprehend your life. And now three years later I am no longer dying." He rose and walked towards Vincent where his placed his hand on the young mans shoulder before continuing. "I'm sure you got her to me in time." Ather would always be grateful that Vincent happened into his life because with out his friend he would have been dead a year ago. Thanks to Vincent Ather no longer had the disease that would have claimed his life and he was sure Vincent's unique DNA would save his woman as well.

Ather may not be dying but he was still an old man who needed rest and he had gone without for 36 hours now. It was time to make his leave and allow his friend to sit vigil over his woman. He was almost to the stairs when the simplest thing had eluded him, "What is her name?" Ather asked when he turned around.

"Catherine; her name is Catherine." Vincent replied without turning. He listened as Ather sighed and waited until his heavy foot steps ascended the stairs before he moved from Catherine's side and then over to the pipes. Vincent had to get a message to Pascal, to father, to everyone letting them know he found Catherine and that she was being taken care of.

SUNRISE:

Catherine felt as if she had been floating between life and death, not sure which way to go. It was a strange feeling, a feeling she wanted to stop. She forced her mind to keep working, her heart to keep beating, and her lungs fought to take in oxygen. She needed to keep living for Vincent, for the son she now had to find, she needed to live for her family. Just when her body was getting tired, the drug getting stronger, she felt Vincent near her. He lifted her into his arms and then all was black. Catherine barely had enough strength to keep breathing, but she had to; she had to fight to live. Then everything changed again. She was dimly aware of voice but she wasn't sure. Everything was so quiet, so dim, and it was fading fast. Again she thought that she would give up, give in and let death take her. Then images of the son she had glimpsed flashed in her mind and she fought all over again until something new flooded her mind; a renewed strength. Catherine could feel whatever it was changing her body and her mind. With every beat of her heart, every breath that she took, she was getting stronger and stronger; more alive. If she kept that hope burning then she would fight her way back to the land of the living, she would fight her way back to Vincent and she would fight to live for her son. When she finally felt able enough to open her eyes golden ray of light were streaming in through the window and highlighting the golden hair of Vincent. He had his head resting on her stomach; he was fast asleep. But another man was there watching her. For a moment she felt panic, she felt fear, and then the man began to speak. On instinct her hand tightened on Vincent's; she wanted him to wake up and explain things.

"Don't be afraid, Vincent brought you to me so I could help you." Ather knew he was putting panic into her mind. He lifted his hands and showed that he meant no harm, that he was no threat to her. If he was truly a threat then Vincent would never had trusted him to treat her. He took a step closer and studied the monitors; her heart beat was strong. Looking at the print outs he saw that her heart had not stopped at all. That was unusual; his heart had stopped for a few seconds. Ather had the printouts to prove it, but this woman was definitely a medical marvel just like Vincent. There was no reason for her to have the electrodes on any more. Quickly and deftly he removed them. "Don't worry, you're safe here and soon Vincent will take you home." Ather reassured her.

Even in sleep Vincent could feel the rising panic and fear in Catherine. He opened his eyes to see her already awake and Ather was unhooking her from his machines. "Ather is right, soon we can go home." Vincent whispered and just as quickly as the fear came, relief and love, and joy washed the negative emotions away. For once the crazy old man had done something God-like. He had stolen Catherine away from the clutches of death and brought her back to Vincent; he would be in Ather's debt. Momentarily forgetting about Ather Vincent stood but refused to leave Catherine's side. Before he could enfold her into his arms, she had hers around him and was holding onto him for dear life. In return Vincent encircled his arms around her waist and just held her, ever mindful of her continued frailty. Her arms felt strong but he would have to be careful none the less. Last night she should have died, but in the light of a new day she had beaten death and survived against the odds. "You're safe, you're alive, and I'm with you." Vincent whispered as he stroked her back in small comforting circles. After a few minutes he felt her relax, felt the tension drain from her limbs as she once again laid back on the gurney. He could see that she still did not have all her strength back. But he could not linger here a minute longer in the world above. There was too great a risk that someone would see him. Rather than tempt fate Vincent was about to lift Catherine in his arms when Ather stopped him.

"You should wait a while longer; there are a few tests I have to run to make sure…"

"Tonight, I have lingered too long here and Catherine would be safer below." Vincent interrupted. The danger that surrounded them was growing closer and closer. They had to flee back down underground to the tunnels that would house them and keep them safe.

"Fine, but be careful. More sleep couldn't hurt her too much. She'll need all of it." Ather conceded. He knew Vincent was right. It was too dangerous to have him here in the day light "Take the entrance in the cellar." Ather shook his head and again thought he was too old.

"Thank you my friend." Vincent waited for Ather to leave, which the old man did. When he was sure that the scientist was out of ear shot he turned to Catherine and asked what he had been waiting nine months to ask, "Where is our child?"

"Our son was taken by the same people who took me." An insurmountable rage welled up in her and for the first time in her life Catherine wanted the men who had her son to die. She wanted him dead. Shaking her head Catherine felt shame wash away her anger. Now she knew how Vincent would feel. All she wanted to do right now was go home, go to the tunnels with Vincent and rest. As good as she felt, her body was still in need of healing.

"Our son?" Vincent asked.

"Yes, our son." Catherine had tears welling in her eyes and she wanted to go home, wanted to return to the world below with Vincent.

"What is it?" Vincent felt the tumultuous storm of emotions swirling inside her. First there was anger, then shame, and now a deep exhaustion. He would have to whisk her back to the world below to recuperate, to heal, and to guard her from the danger that was looming over them.

"I want to go home. I want to go to the tunnels." Catherine said without reservation. She now knew she belonged in the world with Vincent; at least until she was healed and even then she would still have her home there with him. Tomorrow would bring so many things. She would have to call Joe, have to make arrangements to sell her apartment, and so many other things. But for right now she wanted to sleep safe and sound in the world below where Vincent would be near.

No more words were needed; he had none to offer her. Instead Vincent gently lifted her into his arms again so he would take her where she felt the safest; down in the tunnels with him. Every step he took was another step on the path that fate he deemed they shared together. Catherine had once told him that if this was what her life had in store for her then she accepted it; she was really telling him that she accepted him and everything he had to offer to her.

THE WORLD BELOW:

Vincent had made sure to bypass all the main tunnels in order to get Catherine to his chamber relatively undisturbed. Halfway back she had slipped into sleep again. Rest would be good for her and he was in desperate need for more as well. Even though his body could endure a lot Vincent was reaching his limit. Nine months of being parted from Cather had taken its toll on his mind and his heart. He had even missed out watching their child grown within her. Now they had a chance to reclaim their child, to reclaim their life and live it any way they could.

All of his senses were focused on Catherine. Every step was measured and even so as not to disturb her rest. And when he stepped through the entrance to his chamber he was not surprised to find Father sitting in one of his chairs. Not wanting to say anything just yet Vincent made sure that Catherine was safely in his bed before turning to Father and motioning him out into the tunnel. How would he explain to Father where he had been since he found Catherine? How would he explain how she survived? Vincent leaned against the wall and waited for the words to come to him. But the worry that Catherine would disappear if he was not there to watch over her overshadowed everything in his mind.

"We received your message that you found Catherine alive, but where did you take her?" Father asked. He could read his son well enough to know that Vincent was hiding something from him; hiding where he had taken Catherine.

"I took her to a friend, a friend who knows a great deal more than you father," Vincent refused to look at the man who raised him.

"And this mans name is?" Father refused to get angry. This was a joyous occasion. One of their own had been returned, but at a great cost.

"His name is Ather, Ather James. He is a geneticist who had been helping me to understand the nature of the monster that has lurked inside my mind for so long. Tonight I took Catherine there and he saved her life." Vincent sighed and waited for what Father would say next. When no words echoed on the stone walls he looked at the other man and saw on his face understanding.

Father understood all too well his son's need to protect the woman sleeping in the bed just beyond. All of his life Father had wished Vincent would never know the pain of love, but it had afflicted him none the less. And he was proud to see that, despite the odds, he and Catherine were happy. They could be together and know happiness. "Then we are all indebted to this man for saving Catherine." Father stepped closer and cupped his son's cheek. "Vincent, you should rest as well. Too long I have seen you go without sleep, now that she is here with you…"

"I will sleep later…" Vincent tried to argue, but he knew such a thing was useless against his father. Father had a way of winning no matter what.

"No, Vincent, you will sleep now." Father made his voice stern, like he had done when Vincent had been small. "Tomorrow will be soon enough for you to tell me all about this man."

Vincent heaved a sigh and for a moment leaned into his father's touch. It was comforting and he needed that. But what he truly needed was sleep. "I concede Father." Vincent smiled slightly before stepping away and back into his chamber to sleep.

The instant Vincent had stepped away from her, Catherine woke up to his dimly lit chamber surrounded by his things, his books, and his scent. It was the most comforting thing in the world to her right now. Just beyond the chamber entrance she could hear his voice and that of Father talking quietly. Catherine settled back into the blankets and pillows to wait. There was no way that she was going to sleep without Vincent near, or beside her. She wasn't ready for that yet but she would not let the fear get the better of her. No, she would calmly wait and not try to panic. More minutes past and then there was only Vincent. He stepped through the chamber entrance and his long legs ate up the distance between them. Without words he gathered her close and reclined with her. As much as she wanted to remain in the waking world she was tired, so very tired, and she could feel the same from Vincent. Giving in, Catherine sank back down in the blackness of sleep content in the knowledge that Vincent was with her, beside her, holding her, and guarding her against the rest of the world. She fisted her hand in his shirt and felt the warmth surround her. Her last conscious thought was, 'This is home.' And then she was sound asleep.

TWO DAYS LATER:

FATHER'S CHAMBER

Almost everyone had gathered in Father's chamber to ask about Vincent and Catherine. Neither of them had been seen in two days since his return to the world below. Father had taken it upon himself to go and check on his son and found that both he and Catherine were still sleeping. The sleep would be good for their mind and their bodies. So, Father was content to let them sleep. He had made sure everyone, including Mouse, knew not to disturb them. When they returned to the waking world was up to them and no one should hasten it. He would have thought his son would be awake by the next night to tell him about the man named Ather, yet Vincent continued to sleep. For two days Vincent and Catherine slumbered deep in his chamber with nothing but candles to keep a vigil.

"Father, this has me worried. Vincent and Catherine have been asleep for two days. Shouldn't someone wake them?" Mary asked from beside him.

"No, they need the rest. We all saw what Vincent was like during the months Catherine was taken from us, taken from him. He barely slept and he hardly ate. No, let them sleep; they need the rest and they need to be together." Father never thought he would be saying those final words out loud to nearly all the community.

"Still, we're worried about them." Pascal piped up from his place on the upper level.

"We all are Pascal. But for now it is rest the pair of them need and it is rest they will have." Father mad up his mind and the rest agreed. Later in the day he would have a few of their helpers go to Catherine's apartment and bring a few of her things down below for when she woke up. For now life would go on and everyone would go about their day and their duties while keeping in mind the two sleeping soundly amongst them.

Father watched the others leave and thought it would be prudent to go and at least check on Vincent and Catherine. It couldn't hurt to stand in the chamber entrance and watch his son as he gathered his strength and healed with the woman he loved so dearly, so strongly. Getting to his feet Father ambled down the familiar corridors towards the lower chambers where Vincent made his home. More importantly is was an old mans need for reassurance that the two people he cared most for were actually safe.

Rounding a corner Father saw Mouse hidden in the shadows leading to Vincent's chamber. He took a moment to lower his head to hide a smile should the young man turn and see him standing there. Mouse was so innocent and so caring. He would always be a light shining in the community, even though he was eccentric. "Mouse, what did I tell everyone?" Father kept his voice low, but loud enough for the young man to hear.

"Not to wake them. Mouse wasn't, just watching, I promise." He answered quickly.

"Don't you have something to be doing?" Father asked and watched as Mouse lowered his head and walked past him.

"They look peaceful." Mouse whispered as he passed by Father to go to his own chamber and work on his latest invention.

Father smiled. Mouse was incorrigible, but the boy had a good soul and kind heart. He stepped towards the entrance and peered in to watch the sleeping pair in the dimness of the candles that were scattered about. Father could see Vincent with his arms secure around Catherine while she had one hand fisted in his shirt and the other tangled loosely in Vincent's golden mane. The scene before his eyes was sweet enough to break his heart and renew his faith in love. Before he understood it, Father cursed the love his son thought he had for Catherine, but now he knew that it was where Vincent drew his strength from. In this time alone Father had time to reflect on all Catherine meant to the community. She had been a shining light, a renewal of faith of sorts, and a reminder of the power of love. It made him joyous to know that she had brought Vincent out of the madness, out of the savagery that held him firm in the dark. Gradually he had come to accept Catherine more and more into their lives and he had felt her loss nearly as much as his son had. Nothing hurt as much as seeing Vincent helpless to help his love, his heart, and the woman who held some of his soul.

Taking one more step closer Father watched as Vincent tensed in his sleep at the sense someone was watching them. Father took one more step and stepped into his son's chamber. He and the candles would keep vigil until they decided to return to the waking world.