Doorways of Perception

Weeks after Jacob's kidnapping, he could still feel a sense of anxiety flood his system. It wasn't the drug, which had coursed through his veins, deadening his unique ability to communicate. It was a flashback memory, related to a moment in time when he was out of touch with his wife and parents.

Ever since Jacob gained a true knowledge of himself, he realized that his exceptional father was his one and only, true, cellular connection to the world. Catherine, his mother, was dead. His grandfather as loving and kind as he had been was still not his flesh and blood. Jacob never gave any indication to anyone that he harboured deep seated angst around loss and abandonment. Truth was that he spent a great deal of time worrying about his father and what would happen if he was ever captured, or killed.

Jacob sensed, rather than knew, a time when his infant life hung in the balance and he could not bring himself back from the precipice of death. Even as he felt himself slipping away, the strength and energy of his father drew him back, halting an unwelcome slide into nothingness. Jacob had no conscious knowledge of the events of his birth during his early childhood years. Intuitively he never strayed far from the edge of his father's energy until he was well into his teenage years. Somehow the young Jacob must have communicated this need to his father. Vincent seemed to reduce his forays into the upper world, remaining below, working with the other children to ensure their development. It allowed Jacob the opportunity to stay close to his one parent. It was the trip to Europe, with his uncle Devin, which broke the underlying need for close proximity.

Much later, when he was older, Jacob learned of the brutal separation from his mother and the time in captivity with Gabriel. It gave him the opportunity to understand his deep seated fears. He vowed to avoid the possibility of ever being so vulnerable again, and yet…, he walked into Virgil's trap with eyes wide open. Granted Virgil was clever, had skills of his own and a devious plan but Jacob had not heeded the internal messages of his body. Worry over his mother, his wife and his sisters left him careless of his own safety.

He had no wish to live life always walking on the edge. He was young, barely starting out in marriage and a career. Somehow he would have to find a salient balance between his fears and his ability to live fully and openly. The knowledge, of how to proceed, failed him after his experience with Virgil. A desire to retreat stymied his actions and puzzled those around him who expected that his good health and exceptional skills would help him to recover his equilibrium within days.

Weeks had passed since Virgil was captured and sent to prison, and yet, Jacob was still listless, unfocused, and inclined to be fearful of venturing beyond the needs of the day. Everyone could sense his withdrawal. Outside of his parents, the most concerned was the Director, Kurt, who had allowed himself to be drawn into the family dynamics, not with regret but grateful for the opportunity to mentor his young assistant. Jacob had not faltered in his work, but the speed which set him apart from his colleagues was no longer evident. Kurt could find no fault with Jacob's performance but his emotional retreat from the investigative part of the job puzzled the Director.

Kurt broached the subject with Jacob several times over the succeeding weeks but received little more than a shrug for his inquiries. Since there was no lack of effort in the workplace, he had less legitimate grounds for pursuing something more intimate and risk anger. Jacob already had a father who could probe into his son's despondency. Kurt backed off but remained watchful.

At home, Vincent and Catherine were just as concerned and just as unsuccessful as Jacob's boss. They observed their serious but previously fun loving son become quite withdrawn from his family. If anyone had been asked to put a finger on exactly how Jacob was different, they could not. He still smiled, played with his sisters, spent time with his parents but there was a distance to his involvement, a great divide which he seemed unable to conquer. Neither Vincent nor Catherine broached this with their son. Both knew as well as anyone, that he could come to them at anytime with his concerns. Even Catherine, who had struggled initially to heal the more than twenty year breach caused by her absence, could not entice her son into a heart to heart. She knew that the profound effects of their early separation had affected Jacob but she hoped that day by day he would know that in her heart, she was always at his side. It was, because of him, that she returned from that dark place to find her lover and her child.

Vincent sensed the deep well of despair which seemed to rise up in his son. From his own experience of life, it seemed inevitable that one day, Jacob would be faced with the demon of his childhood fears. Vincent knew as well as anyone that Jacob would have to seek the help he needed. None could be given until he was willing to open himself up and acknowledge the fear which comes with vulnerability. He knew an aching desire to hug and comfort the young man, still mature and capable beyond his years, but struggling with debilitating and ingrained childhood fears which had resurfaced.

The one person who had access to the underground stream of sadness was caught up in her own wave of hopelessness. Cathy never imagined that having it all meant nothing in the face of fear. She was comfortable, capable, loved in a way she had never known and yet the events perpetuated by Virgil tore down all of her defenses and left her crying for the better part of each day. A quick morning trip to the Sanctuary to ensure the safety of the women was almost too much, but not enough to satisfactorily fill her days. Erin had made it easy for Cathy to effect an almost complete retreat from life.

Despite the luxury offered to her by Brian and Holly, Erin chose to continue to spend her time below. She would come above every other day to see her son and grandchildren but she steadfastly refused to move or change her life quickly. She was fearful of the abundance of joy which filled her life for the first time ever and she needed to take things slowly. Erin was still very much in charge below. Cathy was deeply grateful for her support. The two hours below were quite a balm to Cathy's troubled spirit. Much of her time with Virgil had been spent above. The Sanctuary was her saving place. She did not want to hover around Erin. They conducted their business in the usual way before Cathy returned home to pass her time with Cilla.

Since the girls had a much larger family, the time was limited. She, like Catherine and Vincent felt no rancor about sharing them with their blood relatives. Cilla appeared to be a natural heir to the skills and incredible faculties of Holly. The bracelet given long ago to engage Cilla while the women spoke seemed to connect them at another level. For Vincent, Catherine, Jacob and Cathy who were all only children, the extended family could only help the young girls to develop more fully. Cathy had too much time on her hands to engage in ferocious thoughts, directed at Virgil, which inevitably left her with either an impotent rage or on the verge of tears.

She waited impatiently for Jacob to return home every night, clinging to his warmth, checking to make sure it was truly him. Relief was held in abeyance until the minute he appeared safe and sound. They stayed out of eveyone's way, rarely leaving their upstairs apartment, talking late into the night before falling asleep, cradled in each other's arms. The number of times they shared tears, for the serious but carefree people they had been before their world had been shattered, would be known to no one. As a couple, dealing with issues which stemmed from childhood, and exploded during their enforced separation, they knew that the only way to heal would be to find strength in their love.

Since none could see this process of transformation, everyone worried about the young couple. Indeed Jacob and Cathy knew how close they were to the deep chasm of despair which follows trauma. Their sense of safety, however could not be secured or guaranteed by anyone outside. They built a cocoon around themselves, using it as a protective barrier until, a sense of healing could take place. Days turned into weeks. Healing, however, had its own pace.

Oblivious to the needs of the world outside, the young couple ignored the mounting decisions which needed to be made. Jason and Terry had accepted the gracious gift from Patrick DelCassian. The wedding was less than a month away. Terry hoped that either Jacob or Cathy would be able to help coordinate some of the minor details which weddings entail but Catherine had been adamant that they were not to be disturbed.

Terry understood post traumatic stress. She had built her career around helping people recover. Catherine and Sue would take on whatever needed to be done. There was the phone, a computer, and a wedding planner who would coordinate the major decisions. Jacob had contacted Eric, Joe Maxwell's assistant who seemed more of a social director than admin assistant but cheerfully agreed to supervise the events and massive planning needed to bring so many people from all across North America to watch the talented and beautiful Hispanic woman marry her 'Russian' policeman.

Terry remained quite disturbed however by Catherine's reports of Jacob and Cathy's retreat from a healthy social life. She was more than capable of carrying out whatever she wanted to do with or without help. Once the planning was underway, she made a decision. Uncertainty of the outcome was warring inside her, but she was determined, just the same, to help the young couple if she could.

'How are things with you Carl?' Terry spoke in Spanish, loving the opportunity to chatter away in the language of her parents. Carl had made the midday trip to the airport to pick her up.

'So-so. My daughter is graduating from high school this year. She wants to go away to College and I am finding it hard to let go.'

Terry laughed. She remembered when her own father echoed the same sentiments. 'You're not really letting go, just putting some distance between you.'

'Can't be enough for her. She's mad at me all the time.'

'Are you autocratic at home Carl? I would find that hard to believe.'

'Well maybe a little lately. I suppose I could ease up.'

Terry continued to chuckle. She loved people naturally. It was what made her so good at her job. Her questions were never perfunctory. She was genuinely interested in what happened in people's lives, especially those whose energy intersected with her own. It was almost three years since Carl and his working partner Rob travelled west to reunite Vincent and Jacob with Catherine. Terry had been newly pregnant. They met again when Terry and Jason came to New York for the wedding of Jacob and Cathy. Now she was here to make preparations for her own wedding.

'I don't mean anything by it, but you sure have come a long way to get married.'

'I can't imagine a wedding without Catherine present. Some of Jason's people originated in upper New York State, so it seemed like a good compromise. I could marry him in a hut in the Himalayas but friends are important and Catherine is special.'

'She sure is.'

Terry didn't want to push Carl for any confidences. She wasn't inclined to gossip. Carl and Rob learned to be discreet working for the movie industry. Whatever their clients did behind closed doors remained that way. He spoke of his family and work, nothing more and she didn't pry. It wasn't long before the van pulled up in front of the Brownstone and Terry was wrapped in warm arms, still thin but surprisingly strong considering her history. Terry was unable to hold back the tears which overflowed from her eyes when Vincent held out his arms to her. She was enveloped into a fiercely protective and grateful hug. Sue's smiling face waited for her at the end of the line. They had an incredible bond which had been forged by their work with Catherine.

'You seem to be blossoming in New York Sue' she said, looking into the eyes which once held her in contempt.

'I am really happy. Where's Laddie?'

'It's enough that I made it here. I am weaning him and this little trip will ensure that he eats more food. It has been hard working and breastfeeding still but well….' She stopped and looked around. 'No one wants to hear about that I'm sure. I just don't want to leak breastmilk all over my wedding dress.'

Everyone laughed before heading into the living room to sit and talk. Carl said his goodbyes. He would be around the following day to take Terry north to Saugerties to meet with Patrick and the wedding planner to finalize details. Terry stared hard at her friends. She went from face to face, taking in everything, listening to them talk, hearing the inflections in their voices as they related the events of the past months. Clearly this last episode, hot on the heels of a major murder case, took its toll on all of them.

'How kind of Mr. DelCassian to offer his place for us to get married, in the circumstances. It seems like the perfect solution. The other grounds we thought about in Phoenicia was also lovely but accommodation would have been a nightmare.'

'Patrick and I have known each other since childhood. He can't do enough for Jacob. It was very sad about his wife but he weathered the storm and now he wants to get back into life again. This will also help him.'

'Yes, Jason said they both have a keen interest in horses. You know he grew up in the Midwest with his mother and stepfather. After she remarried they lived on a ranch for years. He will be in seventh heaven if there are horses around.'

'I know you aren't staying too long Terry. There is so much to prepare, but if you can do anything to …..'.

Just then the door opened. Cathy's footsteps could be heard coming down the hall. She stopped at the doorway, smiling broadly at the surprise visitor.

'Terry! I didn't know you were coming today!' Cathy ran forward for a hug but sobs wracked her body and tears filled her eyes before she could get out another word.

'Do those tears mean that you are happy or sad to see me?' Terry asked pushing back some stray strands of hair from the sad face.

Cathy mustered up a half smile. 'Happy. I'll see you when you come up' she mumbled through the tightness in her throat. Terry would have to sleep upstairs. All the available rooms downstairs were occupied. Sue had been willing to share her space but Terry would not hear of it. There were empty rooms in Jacob and Cathy's apartment where Terry had slept before. If she was closer to the young couple she may be able to get a better handle on their concerns.

Cathy leaned over and kissed her mother in law. 'I'll be upstairs Mom.'

'Ok, my love. We'll talk later.'

Catherine knew the words were empty ones. Her unhappy daughter in law would stay in their apartment until Jacob came home. Rarely, did they come down for family dinner. Cathy glanced at Vincent and held his eyes for a fraction of a minute before leaving the room.

Terry said nothing. She closed her eyes and nodded to no one in particular. Once Cathy was out of earshot, she got up. 'I'm hungry. It may be early afternoon in New York but my stomach tells me it's past my breakfast time. I have missed Sue's cooking immensely.'

It wasn't time for confidences. They had the evening to talk and discuss things.