The Other Path ~ Season 1
By Thomas Mc

Authors Note : As with previous episodes, I wish to thank those responsible for the Beauty and the Beast Scripts and Transcription Project which saves me all of the frustrating days it would take to recreate some of the dialog from this episode.

Nor Iron Bars A Cage

As they walked along the pathway through the park, Catherine looked sympathetically up at Vincent. "Is there no hope?" She had just heard the bad news earlier this afternoon.

Vincent shook his head. "No, I'm afraid not. The doctors say that the cancer is too advanced for any effective treatment. They figure that Maggie has a month, two on the outside. Even if they could have caught it early, this type of cancer has a very low survival rate. At this late stage there is nothing that they can do."

"Is there any chance that they could be mistaken?" Catherine asked without really believing it herself.

"Peter said that all three doctors came up with the same prognosis and they are the finest three doctors in this field."

Catherine stopped walking, turned to face Vincent and gave him a comforting hug, as much for her own comfort as for his. She was very fond of Margaret Chase and this afternoon's news of her cancer prognosis had been devastating for both her and Vincent. "How is Father taking the news?"

Vincent again shook his head. "Father is taking it pretty hard. Peter and your father both went below to lend their support to Father and Maggie."

~ o ~

Professor Edward Hughes looked up from the viewfinder of his sophisticated low light level video camera as he panned slowly from left to right. He paused as he saw a man and a woman jogging in the park. The joggers passed by and proceeded deeper into the park then a man and his dog entered the view-screen. The dog, a Doberman, growled at something.

Professor Hughes paned the camera further to the right and adjusted the focus He glanced up from the viewfinder a moment then pan to the left. He paused at the image of an owl perched on the limb of a tree then looked away to take down a few notes on a pad of paper. After a moment the owl flew away.

He placed the pencil in his teeth and bent to the camera again as he continued slowly panning to the left. He caught a dark shape moving through the trees. He looked up from the viewfinder and stared at the spot for a moment. He immediately returned his attention to the camera viewfinder. He was able to make out two hooded figures though the branches. The two figures stopped moving and turned slightly toward each other. The larger of the two was more than a head taller than the shorter one. The taller one was turned partially toward Hughes but the shadow under the hood was so deep that he could not make out a face. His curiosity getting the better of him, Hughes continued to watch the unusually garbed couple. A short distance away a car came around a curve with its high beams on and the car's headlights flashed past the unusual couple. For the briefest moment the inside of the larger one's hood was illuminated before he turned away from the light. Then the couple moved quickly deeper into the trees until they disappeared from sight.

The professor's eyes grew wide with surprise as he looked up from the viewfinder. He pulled the pencil out of his mouth and hurried down a hill until he came to a stop and stared at the spot where he had seen the two figures. There was no movement anywhere nearby and there was no one else around.

Professor Hughes ran back up the hill, to his van with all his equipment. He stopped the videotape machine and rewound it then played the last five minutes of the videotape while carefully watching the television screen. He jumped, freezing it on the instant when the taller figures hood had been illuminated. He stepped back and sat down hard on a stool, never taking his eyes off the screen. There on the slightly fuzzy image was a face that appeared to be more lion than human. Hughes reached out a bit nervously and snagged a mug, taking a sip from it as he continued to stare at the impossible face on his screen.

~ o ~

Vincent and Catherine moved quickly deeper into the wooded area. They had not gone far when Vincent stopped. Catherine's advancing pregnancy did not allow her to move very quickly or for very long. Vincent shook his head and looked apologetically at his wife. "I am so sorry Catherine; I did not realize that we had wondered so close to the road." He studied her as she leaned against the trunk of a tree. "This was a big mistake. I should never have taken you out into the park with me in your condition."

Catherine shook her head with more than usual intensity a hint of annoyance flashed in her eyes. "No Vincent. Do not blame yourself. I wanted to go with you." Her eyes softened as her head tilted up at him and she reached out to gently caress the side of his face. A little thrill went up her back, like always, at the feel of his soft facial fuzz on the palm of her hand. "One of my great pleasures in life is going for these nighttime strolls in the park with you." She took a deep breath. "Now, just give me a minute or two to catch my breath and we can start back for home." A mischievous spark appeared in her eyes. "Then maybe we settle before the fireplace and engage in another of my favorite pastimes."

"Catherine!" Vincent looked at her a bit surprised and uncertain.

Catherine laughed. "No, not that pastime." She glanced down at her much expanded girth. "I'm a little too far along I think for that particular pastime." She looked back up at Vincent. "But we can still engage in a lot of cuddling, Kissing and genera in front of a warm fire while listening to some romantic music or just reading to each other." She tilted her head a bit. "Or we could read to each other. I love listening to the sound of your voice . . ." Then she again looked down as she laid her hand gently on her belly. ". . . and I'm sure that wouldn't disturb little Caroline here."

Vincent grinned back at her. "I can get into that."

She again looked up at Vincent with humor in her eyes. "And I've heard that studies suggest that it may actually improve her I Q."

Vincent quickly scooped Catherine up into his arms. "Then the sooner we get started, the better." He turned and started off at a fast walk toward the nearby tunnel access.

~ BB ~

Back on the campus of Columbia University the next day, Professor Hughes was talking excitedly as he pointed to the image on the video screen. "This is the best shot. Extraordinary, isn't it?"

Two men were looking at pictures of Vincent's slightly blurred face. A third man was standing back, grimly watching the proceedings.

Leland looked Hughes in the eye. "You have something more? . . . You can't seriously expect me to go to the provost with this, Edward." He shook his head. "A research team? Funding? For what?" He waved his hand dismissively at the image. "Our own Loch Ness monster? Why, I'd be laughed out of the office."

Hughes shook his head. "I'm not asking for a grant."

Leland shook his head. "I know you're not."

Hughes responded. "I'm asking for a week, maybe two, in our own backyard."

Leland again shook his head. "I'm sorry, Edward."

Hughes pleaded. "But, you saw the evidence!"

Leland waved his hand dismissively at the video screen. "A four second video clip and some inconclusive enlargements?"

Hughes started getting more desperate. "I was there, Leland! I saw the creature! I looked into his eyes!"

Leland shook his head sadly and responded. "You're wasting your time - imagining things."

Hughes responded. "At least I'm not blind to them." He hung his head. "Forgive me. I didn't mean that."

Leland responded to him coolly. "You're here largely because this university has chosen to humor you."

Hughes spat back angrily. "This university owes me something."

Leland responded just as angrily. "We owe you nothing. You haven't published in God knows how long. You're still full of self-pity because someone else received the credit for your work 15 years ago." Leland felt a bit guilty for saying that because he knew that Hughes was right.

Hughes responded with an angry retort. "Stole the credit." He knew that Leland was well aware of what had really happened. The credit had been stolen by someone that had connections so the university had backed him.

Leland turned his back on Hughes. "Well, I'm sorry, Edward, but its ancient history."

~ o ~

Professor Hughes was sitting behind his desk, a pencil gripped in his mouth as he stared disconsolately at the items cluttering the top of the desk. He glanced up at the knock on the door. "Come in." He called out

A blond haired, bespectacled young man peered around the office door. "Professor Hughes?"

Hughes didn't even look up from his desk. "Yes?"

"My name is Jonathan Gould. I'm a grad student. I'm in your section this semester."

Hughes finally looked up at the young man. "Yes, how can I help you?"

Jonathan Gould entered the room, closing the door behind him. Hughes thought there was something almost creepy about the grin on the young man's face. "You may have that backward." Gould responded. "I was here yesterday in your office, dropping off a paper. Leland Quint is a fool. Do you mind if I sit?"

Hughes shook his head indicating that Jonathon should sit. He pulled a chair close to the desk as Hughes inquired. "So, ah, what is your interest in this matter exactly?"

Gould leaned toward Hughes. "The truth. I'm only interested in finding out the truth."

Hughes again shook his head sadly. "The truth is an abstraction."

Gould responded. "Yes, but that creature is no abstraction. It's real, isn't it?"

Hughes shrugged. "I appreciate your enthusiasm, Mr. Gould. I once felt that way myself, believe me." He looked at the top of his desk, his expression full of sadness and disillusionment. "Probably before you were born. But I think it would be wise to forget it."

"I can't do that." Gould insisted. "Think of what you saw. What it would mean."

Hughes shook his head sadly. "I've already jeopardized what little is left of my career. Take my advice. You're young. Don't make the same mistakes I did."

Gould shook his head. "I guess I'm wasting my time." He stood up and headed for the door.

Hughes remarked to the young man's retreating back. "You don't understand. There's, um, no support, no funding."

Gould stopped and turned toward Hughes. "With all due respect, Professor Hughes, I do understand." Gould walked back to the desk. "That's why I'm here." There was something coldly calculating in the young man's expression

~ BB ~

Gould and Hughes were sitting in the van arguing. "It's been two weeks and no sighting." Gould ground out angrily. "I'm beginning to think the whole thing really was a hoax. You've been taking me for a ride the whole time."

Hughes responded his tone almost pleading. "This is where I saw it over by that road and I saw tracks down by that group of trees. The creature has to show up around here eventually."

~ o ~

Vincent slowly exited the tunnel. His cloak swayed silently as he strode into the park. He glanced up at the three quarter moon. Catherine was off with her three best friends. They had thrown her a baby shower, no men allowed, so Vincent had decided to take a walk in the park. Lately Catherine's advanced pregnancy had been sapping a lot of her endurance making walks in the park un-feasible so it had been two weeks since the last time he had come out here. Vincent heard a noise and stopped for a moment. He glanced around spotting a van parked nearby. He quickly moved away from the parked van. Suddenly bright lights speared out from the van and illuminated Vincent and his surroundings. Vincent glanced behind and raises his right arm to shield his eyes from the light. Gould, armed with a tranquillizer gun, shot a dart that caught Vincent just below his left shoulder. Vincent reached back and pulled the dart out. Gould quickly reloaded as Vincent turned to flee then chased after him. At the same time Hughes pulled out in the van and followed the fleeing pair, keeping them both in the beams of the spotlights. Vincent was soon feeling the effects of the drug as he struggled to continue running. Vincent stopped and leaned back against a tree trying to shake off the effects of the drugged dart. He was momentarily blinded by the spotlights on the van and tried to hide in the thicker trees close by.

Gould could just make out the shape of the creature hiding in the trees and slowly made his way toward him. With a roar, Vincent lashed out and knocks Gould to the ground. Vincent then turned and ran, stumbling, on and was soon in sight of the drainage tunnel when he staggered and falls. He struggled back up to his feet and continued on, but Hughes suddenly pulled up in front of him blocking his way. Hughes jumped out of the van and cocked a pistol that he was holding. Hughes fired another dart into Vincent's chests and he stumbled a few steps forward. Hughes reloaded and fired another dart. Vincent determinately staggered onward, staring at Hughes, his hood back and his face fully exposed. Just befor Hughes fired another dart Vincent finally collapsed in front of the van. Cautiously Hughes squated down beside Vincent as Gould ran up, blood on his face.

Hughes looked up at Gould. "I'll kill the lights."

~ o ~

At the party with her friends Catherine suddenly stiffened, fear in her eyes. "No!" She looked toward thegeneral location of Central Park. "Vincent's in trouble!"

"What, where?" Jenny asked.

"Central Park I think." Catherine replied.

Jenny jumped up and grabbed her coat. "Then let's go."

Nancy and Rebecca also jumped up and grabbed their coats. Nancy helped Catherine struggle into her coat and then they all four headed out of the apartment door. Though Catherine was moving as fast as she could it still took them several minutes to get to Nancy's minivan, which was the closest vehicle to the elevator door.

As soon as they reached the street Catherine directed. "Head that way. He's close to the north culvert entrance. Oh, Nancy hurry. Something is very wrong. The bond feels strange, the feeling from him are jumbled." A few minutes later. "No, I'm losing him." Then her face fell. "I've lost him."

Jenny looked at Catherine in horror. "He's dead?"

Catherine looked at Jenny through teary eyes. "No, he's still alive but unconscious. I can still feel him but the link is too weak for me to tell where he is."

Nancy spoke up. "Then we'll go to his last known position." She glanced over at Catherine. "I learned that from talking to you."

About eight minutes later Nancy pulled her minivan onto the grass as near to the north culvert entrance as she dared. "You stay in the van Cathy." Nancy ordered then Catherine's three friends jumped out and began searching the area.

A short time later, just as Catherine was about to get out of the minivan, her three friends returned. Jenny spoke for the group. "We found tire tracks and a lot of footprints down by the culvert." She paused. "And we found this." Jenny opened her hand to show Catherine the tranquilizer dart that Rebecca had found. Catherine gave a little gasp of despair. Then Jenny continued. "Don't worry Cathy, the minute that stuff they gave him wears off you will home in on him and we'll get him back."

Nancy jumped in. "We can go back to your place and wait for Vincent to come around."

~ o ~

Inside one of the University's biology laboratories Gould was checking a monitor with Hughes standing right behind him. They both glanced nervously at the large powerful lion-man figure laid out on the examination table. Gould reported from the monitors. "The tranquillizer seems to be wearing off. Heartbeat still constant. Twenty-one beats a minute."

Hughes moves to the table where Vincent was laying, flat on his back, strapped down, and stripped of his outer layers of clothing. "Remarkable." He continued moving around the table, inspecting Vincent. "His lungs are just as powerful and the blood is so highly oxygenated, he's a miracle. Like nothing I even dreamed of." He stopped and stared in amazement at Vincent's face. "Jonathan, we saw him running. Complete bipedal locomotion. That can only suggest one thing."

Gould looked at Hughes skeptically. "Human? You think he's human?"

Hughes looked back at Gould. "He's clothed. He stood upright. What other conclusion could you draw?"

Gould retorted. "Large lower canine teeth, exaggerated musculature, extensive facial and body hair . . . an animal."

Hughes responded. "But with anthropomorphic features."

Gould stared down at Vincent. "Even if you're right, we'd have to do a complete cellular analysis to determine his DNA code and we don't have that kind of equipment here."

Hughes shook his head. "We don't need it . . . yet. We run all the preliminary tests first and compile a body of knowledge . . ." The creature's breathing deepened as his head shifted from side to side. Hughes noticed that hungry, slightly creepy, look that he had noticed earlier had returned to Gould's face

"Why wait?" Gould responded. "Why not issue a public statement right now? Tomorrow, we could have the entire scientific community at our feet."

Hughes shook his head. "I can't risk it."

Gould looked over at Hughes. "What's at risk?"

Hughes looked worriedly back. "Jonathan, don't you see? It could happen again. They could take him away. They could steal my work, the benefit of my research . . . like they did before."

Gould responded menacingly. "He's ours, Professor, and we will decide what to do with him. Remember that."

Startled Hughes looks from Gould's face to the creature's face. At that moment the creature grew agitated as the effects of the tranquilizer began to wear off. Hughes glanced over at the paper print out which showed the creature's brain waves growing more agitated by the second. Then as Hughes pulled back from the creature he heard it whisper one word. "Catherine." Then as he leaned closer the creature opened his eyes and raises his head. The next second the creature was fighting to free itself from the restraints. In the following mad scramble Gould was able to tranquilize the creature just as it had broken free.

~ o ~

Back at their brownstone stone Catherine put down her cup of coffee and looked up staring out into space then she whispered. "I feel you Vincent . . . be well. I'm coming for you tonight." She turned to face her friends seated around the dining table. "He regained consciousness for a few seconds." She picked up the tranquilizer dart. "I think he's somewhere at the University."

"Then let's go." Nancy exclaimed. If we go there now then next time he wakes up we should be close enough for you to pinpoint him."

Jenny added. "Maybe you should call Joe for backup."

Rebecca chimed in. "That sounds like a good idea."

~ o ~

Twenty minutes later they were sitting in Nancy's van in the parking lot nearest the University science building. A black sedan pulled up next to the van and Joe got out of the passenger side. The car's lights went out and two seconds later Detective Henderson stepped out of the driver's side.

~ o ~

Inside the laboratory Hughes stared at the creature. He was starting to feel troubled by what they were doing. He turned back to Gould and restated his earlier argument, speaking insistently. "I'm telling you he spoke. It was the name of a woman . . . Catherine."

Gould shook his head as he was preparing a syringe. "It's probably mimicry; He heard the name somewhere and learned to reproduce it."

Hughes continued. "But the cortical areas of his brain are developed enough for language.

Vincent was again conscious and watching the two men. He growled low in his throat. He couldn't let them know that he could think or they would be even more cautious around him and he might lose any chance of escape.

Gould glanced over at the creature. "If what you're saying is true, why doesn't he speak now and explain himself?" He walked over to Vincent with the syringe in his hand.

Hughes remarked. "He's disoriented."

Gould responded cynically. "And dangerous. Who know the extent of his strength?" He approached the examination table to give Vincent another injection.

Hughes reached out, touching Gould's arm. "Don't!"

Gould shook off his hand. "We have to keep him sedated!"

Hughes responded insistently. "He has intelligence, Jonathan!"

Gould shot back. "You're romanticizing him. We don't know that."

At that point Vincent growled, showing his teeth.

Hughes pressed his argument. "I'm telling you . . . he's not what you think."

Gould responded sarcastically. "What, you think he fell from the sky?"

Hughes clutched Gould's arm as the younger man prepared to inject the creature. "Jonathan NO!"

At that instant Vincent roared, yanking one arm free and swatted the syringe out of Gould's hand. He then knocked Gould away sending him flying into a lab cart. Vincent jumps off the table, but sinks to the floor, still suffering the effects of the tranquillizers. Gould grabed a dart gun, loaded it and shot Vincent in chest. Vincent pulled it out and stood up but Gould shot another dart and Vincent collapsed on the floor at Gould's feet. Hughes was crouching beside the table as he looked on horrified.

Gould gathered his composure and remarked sarcastically, looking at Hughes. "Intelligent, all right."

~ o ~

Outside the science building Catherine became alert. "That is the wrong building. He's over there." She pointed to the medical building sitting a block and a half away. "Damn, I've lost him again."

They all piled into the minivan and Linda drove over park next to the indicated building. Catherine felt a lump of fear grow inside her at the sight of the sign next to the building identifying it as the University Medical Research Building.

Detective Henderson addressed the other three friends. "I want you three girls to stay way back. We need Catherine to lead Joe and me to Vincent but I don't want you three in harm's way. Understand?"

Half an hour later, Catherine, Joe and Detective Henderson were advancing purposefully through the Medical building's hallways, Catherine in the lead. Jenny, Nancy and Rebecca were staying well back at the end of the hall

~ o ~

Gould looked at the creature lying unmoving in a small animal cage where he and Hughes had moved him. He turned back to Hughes. "You can't possibly be that naïve, Professor."

Hughes was standing face to face with Gould. "What do you mean?"

Gould shook his head. "When the research is completed and the articles published, what do you think happens then?"

Hughes responded forcefully. "I won't allow it."

Gould shot back. "There won't be any choice."

Hughes shook his head in disappointment. "When you first introduced yourself to me, you said you were only interested in the truth." He pointed at the creature. "Well there it is. Why do you insist on . . . on perverting and degrading it?"

Gould stared back at Hughes. "The truth isn't meant to be hoarded like a secret!"

Hughes retorted. "Nor is it meant to be twisted and exploited! Yes, the creature is extraordinary and should be shared, but only when we know what we're dealing with first!"

"I'll tell you what we're dealing with." Gould looked down at the creature. "A freak of nature . . . a genetic accident. You saw what he was capable of."

"He was provoked!"

"You really believe this thing has a conscience, don't you?" Gould shook his head. "Well for his sake I hope you're wrong. For his sake, I hope he's an imbecile, because like it or not the world's about to make a circus act out of him." Gould headed for the door.

"Where are you going?" Hughes inquired

Gould looked back and responded menacingly. "You and I made a deal Professor. Now it's time to see it through.

"Please!" Hughes rushes past Gould to bar the door.

"Out of my way, Hughes."

Hughes shook his head as he glared beck. "I won't let you do this!"

Gould shoved Hughes causing him to fall to the floor. As he pushed himself upright, he stared at the creature.

As his mind slowly cleared Vincent could feel Catherine's approach and finally speaks. "Please, I beg of you, let me out."

"You heard that." Hughes called out as he grabbed the key to the cage and approached it.

Gould intercepted him. "It doesn't matter."

They struggled for a few seconds then Gould shoved Hughes against the wall then took the key from him. A lies atop. Hughes noticed a crowbar on top of one of the boxes next to him and grabbed it. He swung it striking Gould in the head. Gould fell backward into a fire hose box, breaking the glass then dropped to the floor, dazed.

Hughes gazed sorrowfully at Gould. "I'm sorry, Jonathan, but I can't allow you to do this!" He moved over to Gould, knelt beside him and retrieved the key. "Not now! Not with what we know!"

Gould picked up a large screwdriver that he noticed on the floor

Hughes approached the cage still speaking. "We have no right."

With a guttural growl Gould rose up from the floor and jumped Hughes, stabbing him in the stomach with the screwdriver as he grabbed the keys. At that same instant Henderson and Joe burst through the door. Henderson shouted, "FREEZE!"

Gould turned toward them, his eyes blazing as he brandished the screwdriver. Henderson fired once and Gould went down dropping the key to the floor.

Catherine entered the room and cried out "Vincent!" as she scooped up the keys and rushed to the cage. She unlocked the door and settled to Vincent's side putting her arms protectively around him. "Vincent, are you OK?"

Vincent spoke to Catherine. "Hughes . . ."

Detective Henderson knelt down beside Hughes. The professor was breathing shallowly and blood was oozing at an alarming rate from the wound. Gently, he lifted the man's head.

Hughes looked over at Catherine and Vincent and spoke in a faltering voice. "Forget me. Take him away. Far away."

Catherine glanced over at Hughes. "I will."

Hughes closed his eyes for a moment then opened them. "I wish I co . . . could have known him better. Vincent . . . forgive me . . . Forgive me." Hughes passed out and Henderson lowered his head to the floor then turned to Catherine. "You and Joe get Vincent out of here quickly. I'll do what I can here. I'll see you tomorrow and bring you up to date."

Joe and Catherine helped Vincent to his feet. They quickly made their way out of the room and met the other three girls in the hallway. Jenny forcefully relieved Catherin of her burden and the five of them made their way back to Nancy's van. Twenty minutes later they were all back at the brownstone.

~ o ~

Henderson found the nearest phone and called for the police and an ambulance. He reported that he had received an anonymous tip of a disturbance and when he arrived saw the younger man stab the older man then turn and attack him. He had been forced to fire in self defense.

The older man was taken away in the ambulance, in critical condition.

~ BB ~

Late the next morning Vincent and Catherine remained in bed long after they had awoken. Vincent was listening as Catherine read to him.

"But how could I forget thee?
Through what power,
even for the least division of an hour
have I been so beguiled as to be blind
to my most grievous loss?
That thought's return was the worst pang
that sorrow ever bore, save one,
one only, when I stood forlorn knowing
my heart's best treasure was no more.
That neither present time
nor years unborn could to my sight . . ."

Catherine looks up from the book and gazed at Vincent her expression full of the love that still filled her soul.

". . . that heavenly face restore."

Vincent and Catherine leaned in and kissed. Catherine placed the book on the nightstand as they settle down in each other's arms.

~ o ~

At that moment few miles away Detective Henderson gazed down at the unconscious face of Professor Edward Hughes. The doctors said that he had lost a lot of blood and his heat had stopped for several minutes but they thought he had a good chance at recovery. Only time would tell if there was any brain damage.

The End (of episode 7)

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.