THE WAY IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN

By Nerissa

gentle rain

“Thank you Vincent.” Catherine moved away then, the strangest feeling of desire and exhilaration moving through her. Vincent felt the currents traveling through her and him at the same time and marveled in the joy of their first kiss. As he heard her footsteps climbing the iron ladder to her apartment building, he wondered how she was able to block her intentions from him. She had simply walked up to him, and for that moment he couldn’t find her thoughts.
 
As Catherine opened her balcony doors and looked out at the city, she couldn’t help but feel a tinge of regret at coming back to her world. It had been two days since she had left Vincent’s world and she missed it greatly. She closed her eyes and all at once she could feel their first kiss in her mind. What a beautiful moment it was and how she wished she could re-live it all over again. The crisp afternoon air blew her a strand of her brown hair onto her face and she quickly retreated to the inside of her apartment.
As the weeks went by Catherine threw herself back into her work at the District attorney’s office, but her heart continued to feel troubled. She couldn’t seem to capture the same zeal she once had for her job. All she felt was tired and unfulfilled.
 
Vincent could feel her unrest all the time. Many times he had gone to her balcony wanting to ask her what was making her so unhappy, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He feared she was growing restless with him and maybe even regretted their kiss. His insecurities reared its ugly head and he found himself constantly battling them. Yet somehow every time they threatened to overwhelm him, they were overthrown by the sincerity and assurances he found in her emerald green eyes. Even when Lisa, his first attempt at love had turned up and he was forced to tell Catherine about the time he had scraped her in an attempt to hold her, he had found sanctuary in her touch. She had held his claw like hands and caressed them. She had cried with him and read to him that night until he had found a solace within his soul and at that moment, with Catherine at his side, he had let the painful memory go. Catherine was his life; he could not imagine a life without her. But even tonight as he dressed and headed to her balcony for their second anniversary, he could feel her nervousness and anxiety.
 
As Catherine lit the candles in her apartment, she thought about her decision again. Tonight was going to be the night she would tell Vincent how much she truly loved him and she would ask him to let her live below.. forever. She had thought long and hard about her choice. The days she spent there when her father had died had been the most content and peaceful moments of her life. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world to be there when Vincent returned home from his chores in the afternoons and they would read together for hours and the moments never seemed to end. She had shared a life with Vincent for those days and it was the life was always so afraid to hope for, yet yearned for. She had returned to the world above only to prove to herself that she could, but now she wanted to belong to his world..and him.
 
A light rustling on her balcony told her he had come. She looked to the doorway and there he was in all his strong perfect glory. Until she met him, she had never thought love like this could be possible but as she walked towards him, she knew that it was something Vincent made possible to her. “Two years ago tonight.” She smiled at the look of wonder on his face, knowing he must be thinking why she had spent so much time lighting candles inside when he never came in. Tonight was going to be different though. “I thought we could go inside by the fire. It’s warm.”
He looked at her with only a slight hint of hesitation before he let her take his hand and lead him to the fire. They sat there, each taking in the newness of the moment. It was moments before they said anything. Catherine broke the silence. “Vincent ever since…”
She broke of wondering how she should start.
“We kissed.” He finished her thought once again for her, hanging his head downwards so she couldn’t see the fear in his eyes.
“I can’t help wishing, hoping there could be more.”
“Catherine..” he sighed. “The risk we face with that decision is too great for both of us.”
”The risk Vincent is mine to take.” She lifted his head and stared into the bluest eyes she ever knew. “I want to share that connection with you and only you.”
“If I ever hurt you Catherine..” another sigh as he lifted his head to the sky “I would die.”
“Please Vincent you could never hurt me.” She leaned into him and kissed him. At first he was reluctant, but as she persisted he finally gave in. It was far more intense than their first kiss and Catherine felt herself falling deeper into the moment when he suddenly pulled away. “Vincent, please.” She held his hand as he struggled to remove himself from her embrace.
“Catherine, what you ask of me now is impossible!” he said with regret.
“Why?”
”Because ever since that moment with Lisa, I knew that I was not capable of love.”
”Vincent, do you love me?”
”With all that I am. You are my world.” He gently stroked her face as he looked into her eyes.”
”And until you met me, you didn’t think it was impossible to love like this?” She was going to make him understand tonight.
“No.”
”Then can’t you accept that what we share is such a unique bond. You told me yourself that our journey is one that has never been taken. Vincent I love you, you are my life and I want to be with you in every way.”
Somehow, at that moment Vincent allowed himself the possibility of the dream that had existed only in his heart. She moved towards him again and this time he dipped his head to meet hers and allowed their lips to meet in another wonderful kiss. As he pulled back slightly he asked “Catherine, are you sure that we can be together?” She marveled at the fact that this larger than life man before her was as scared as a child. She smiled as they settled back in front the fire place.
“I’m sure Vincent. Our love could never be wrong.” He didn’t fight her and she knew that this would be their night.
 
After their lovemaking they lay together in absolute surrender, looking at each other.
“I’ve never felt closer to you than this moment Vincent.”
”I’ve never allowed myself to dream that this moment could ever come for us.”
“You are so beautiful Vincent.” She snuggled into him and they held each other for what seemed like hours. They finally decided to go out to the balcony and as Catherine was getting ready to hug her love once again her phone rang. She quickly answered it and comforted her best friend Jenny, who had a nightmare about her. She hung up and was returning to Vincent when the phone rang again. She answered automatically assuming it was Jenny again.
”I can see you.” It wasn’t Jenny, but rather a man whose voice Catherine hadn’t recognized.
“Who is this?” she asked, not registering what he had said.
“I can see you and I can see him to.” Fear and panic ripped through her and Vincent spun around to find her running towards him.
“Get of the balcony now.” She almost screamed the words to him.
“Catherine, what is it?’ Her fear was almost bursting into his soul.
“Someone’s watching! Go, I’ll meet you below.” Sensing his hesitation to leave her alone with this man she grabbed unto his cloak and repeated herself. “Please Vincent go!” He quickly scaled the wall and retreated to the safety of the tunnels and waited below her basement.
Catherine hurriedly closed her blinds, grabbed her purse and started to exit the apartment, when the shrill ring of her phone startled her. “Open the drapes Cathy.” God what can of a freak was this and how could her perfect night with Vincent be ending this way? As her legs automatically guided her to below the basement, she wondered what kind of price she would have to pay to keep him safe.
They discussed the problem and agreed it was to risky to involve the police, not knowing whether this man had taken pictures, so she would have to do this alone. “That balcony was the only part of my world that belonged to us! I will not let him destroy it!” He could feel the cold hard anger inside her. He felt her desire to protect him at any cost and marveled at the strength and determination of the woman that he loved.
 
Over the next few weeks the voyeur continued to terrorize her, leaving dozens of messages on her machine. Vincent was growing impatient and father was no help to the situation. One day in his study the conversation got heated and when father suggested that the community would protect Catherine, so that Vincent didn’t have to go above, Vincent snapped. “This is Catherine, I must protect her!” The old man still in a lot of ways refused to accept the bond that had formed between the two lovers. He finally gave in to his son though.
 
That day in work after a disturbing lunch with her best friend, who had foreseen Catherine’s death, she was heading to her desk when she saw a large bouquet of roses perched on top it. She took out the card and read it. ‘You’re starting to feel me with you aren’t you? Could you tell I was in your room last night? I was there.’ Her blood ran cold.
 
She decided to talk to Joe, her boss. After telling him the situation he insisted that she had to get the police involved but how could she? She mumbled a quick thank you to him and headed back for her desk. Joe’s question kept playing in her head ‘What does this guy have on you?’ Nothing she had said. How could she tell him that this psychopath had the power to destroy her whole world? What if he had taken pictures of Vincent? She could deal with any amount of terrorism but if Vincent was ever found, she would die. So despite Joe’s determination, she resolved to handle this on her own.
 
That night they met on a near by roof top. She came through the doors and the waves of melancholy and despair hit him like a solid rock. She came quietly and stood at his side, looking out into the city. “Did he contact you?” she nodded.
“He sent me flowers.”
”But it was more than just flowers.” She turned to look at him, pain blazing in her eyes.
“He knows about you, about us.” And until we find out what he wants..”
”He wants you Catherine.”
”Vincent you have to stay away.”
“I feel your fear, how can I leave you alone with that?”
”Because I can handle fear!” she said almost defiantly, but within a second defiance turned into raw agony. “But if anything ever happened to you..” she couldn’t bring herself to continue as tears welled up in her eyes. He could do nothing but reach out for her and cradle her.
“Come below tonight.” He wanted her close.
“No I can’t. I can’t let him do this to me.”  They parted ways shortly after and Catherine went home to another restless night. Vincent stayed below her basement that night.
 
The next morning she got up feeling horrible. She couldn’t eat anything, she kept throwing up and she felt so tired. She looked out to the balcony and wondered sadly how long it would be until Vincent could be there again. It had already been four weeks with this nightmare and she feared it had taken a toll on her body, but just to make sure she called Peter. He was her family doctor, not to mention a dear friend to her and the tunnel world.
As soon as he came and examined her he ordered bed rest. He took blood and promised to have the results later in the day and in the meantime Cathy filled him on her situation.
“I’m so sorry Cathy.”
”Me to. Sometimes I feel so angry with a world that would threaten such a beautiful soul like his.”
”It’s the nature of humanity dear child. To condemn that which they do not understand.”
“Well it’s wrong.”
”I know. But nothing we can do about that right now. Any ways get some rest in this lovely apartment of yours. You really have a great view!”
”Lovely. I am going to miss it.”
”Why? Are you moving?”
”I want to be with Vincent, Peter. When this is all over I want to ask him to let me live below.”
”That’s wonderful. And don’t worry, this will all be over soon.”
Before Peter left she gave him a message to let Vincent know she was ok.
 
She spent the rest of the day in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, her thoughts provoking her peace. Vincent could feel her restlessness and he cursed the world once more for preventing him from going to her.
 
The man called all day wanting to know where she was and by six in the afternoon she was starting to feel trapped. The phone rang again and she answered this time determined to draw him out. ‘What do you want?”
”Miss Chandler?” she was startled by a woman’s voice.
“Yes I’m sorry, this is Catherine Chandler.”
“I’m Rose from the Doctor’s office. I have him on the line for you. Please hold.” A moment later Peter came on the line.
“Cathy? I’m glad you’re home.”
”Why is something wrong with my tests?”
”Not wrong, my dear, just unexpected.”
”What is it?”
”Cathy, you’re pregnant!” Silence on the other line for a moment.
“Preg-nant?” She could barely utter the words.
“Yes my dear. Are you ok?” She mumbled her apologizes and then hung up. She didn’t know what to say. She sat there trying to get her feelings under control. She had never felt this happy and scared all at once in her lifetime. She was having his child. Their beautiful night had blessed them with a gift. But how would he react? Would he be happy or afraid? She didn’t know but she had to find out. And it was also a perfect time to tell him about her move. She decided to take a bath and go to him.
 
At the same time Vincent was struck by the sharpest feeling in her. It was something her had never felt before. It frightened him yet made him strangely happy. She was coming to him and he would be right here waiting.
 
She let the hot water run over her body, cradling her stomach. Suddenly her happy thoughts were shattered by a noise coming from her bedroom. Panic overtook her and she froze. After a few moments she stepped out of the shower and into her bedroom. There was a bouquet of flowers on her bed! He had been there, could still be there! She reached for her nightstand to search for her gun but it was gone! Nausea and fear overtook her and he begged her mind to steady herself.
 
Vincent felt the waves of panic and nausea that gripped her. He felt her knees crumbling and her body wracking with terror. He had never felt this helpless in his life. He clenched his fists and threw his head back in frustration. If only he could go to her now. She needed him, but she had insisted he stay away so his hands were tied.
 
Eighteen floors above Cathy sat with Joe, in her living room giving a statement to the police. Thank god she had told Joe about this guy earlier in the week and he come by to check up on her. After they took the statement and looked for fingerprints, everyone left and she was once again alone. Joe had tried to stay with her but knowing she had no intentions of staying the night there, she had insisted that he leave. He really was a dear friend to her.
 
An hour later, when her thoughts had calmed a bit, she started her trek to the basement. She needed to see him. Be held by him and most of all she had so much to tell him. As she neared the entrance she could feel his love calling her just as he could feel her coming to him. She rounded the last corner and suddenly a hand covered her mouth and a second later everything went black.
 
Vincent’s angry roar pierced the dark tunnels and he ran as fast as his legs could take him. The man had Catherine in the car. She was unconscious but alive. He ran through the darkness of the parking lot, adrenaline bringing out his animalistic side. As he stepped out before the car the impact was immediate. Vincent was thrown to the side as the car exited the parking lot and headed to Central Park. He quickly regained himself and raced through the tunnels praying he would find her in time.
 
The man stopped the car by a nearby pond, removed Catherine’s unconscious body out of the backseat and placed her in the trunk of the car. She opened her eyes and tried to move.
“You’ll like it here. I used to come here as a child. And now you’ll be here and I’ll come visit you.”
He slammed the trunk shut and shoved it of into the water, a sick smirk on his face. As the water started to enter the trunk she awoke and the coldness started to consume her and she screamed out in fear. She was trapped and she knew it then, that she and her baby were going to die. Her final thought as she slipped away from the world was ‘Vincent I love you.’
 
The pain and despair grabbed his heart like a thief and brought him to his knees. She was going. Catherine was leaving this world and she was leaving him. A painful wail escaped his throat!
“You’re too late.” The man stood before him a satisfied look on his face. “You’re too late, she’s gone.” With one swift motion Vincent ran to him and clawed through his chest with all the rage and despair he could muster.
That’s when he felt it. A faint little heart beating. Not Catherine’s, but yet it was connected to her in some way he could not explain. He saw the car and immediately threw himself unto it and ripped away the trunk. Her body was already submerged and she was unconscious but something inside her was fighting to live. He took her and placed her unto the grass nearby, throwing his cloak around her, willing her back to him. Almost immediately she started to breathe and so did he. He gathered her small frame and held her as tight as possible. Catherine had come back to him. “I love you.” She said, trembling and stuttering.
“Catherine...”
‘Our baby’s ok?” The first thought that crossed his mind was that he hadn’t heard right. Maybe the trauma had damaged her. He had to get her to father immediately. He picked her up in his arms and ran. When he reached the tunnels he was happy to see Peter there. He had come for a visit.
“My god Vincent, what happened to her?”
”The man tried to kill her. Please father, help her.” Peter and father immediately rushed over ad started to work on her. She was alive but had probably ingested a lot of water. Both men worked on her for what felt like years to Vincent. He never left her side.
 
When they were finished and she was asleep the three men gathered in the study. “Vincent, she’ll be okay.” Father rested a reassuring hand on his son’s shoulder. But Vincent wasn’t concerned. He could feel Catherine’s heart and knew she was going to be fine. He was more interested in how nervous Peter seemed.
“Peter, is something wrong?”
”Vincent I know Cathy wanted to tell you this herself, but under the circumstances..”
“For heaven’s sake Peter what is it?” father’s impatience was growing.
“Catherine’s pregnant!” Father fell back into his chair, not saying a word. He looked across to his different son and was appalled to see Vincent not looking as shock as he should.
“Vincent, you knew?”
“Tonight for a brief moment Catherine’s heart stopped beating. But yet I felt something else calling to me. It wasn’t as strong as a human heartbeat but just as determined to live as anyone else.” Understanding washed through Vincent and he finally knew why she had asked about their child. Their child had brought him to her. It was an amazing connection. He had to go to her now. He got up and left the two men in their own debate as to this new piece of information.
 
Catherine stirred and she instantly opened her eyes to see where she was. She remembered Vincent had found her and now she was lying in his bed. She heard a movement in the far corner and looked up. He was standing there, love and concern written all over his face. “Catherine, are you alright.” He came and knelt by the side of the bed.
“I am.” Instinctively as she remembered she clutched her stomach. Was their child ok?
“The child is fine.” She locked eyes with him and was happy and relieved when she saw compassion and understanding there.
“You know?”
”Yes. Peter told us a moment ago.” He hesitated. “But I think I knew before Catherine.”
”You felt it.”
”Only for a brief moment when I almost lost you.” Pain flickered in his eyes and she reached for his hand. “Somehow Catherine, our child called out to me to help me find you.”
”It is our child Vincent, and the bond will exist within him or her.”
“Are you happy Vincent, because I am.”
”I never thought this life possible for me, until you.” He hugged her close to him. “But I am happy Catherine.”
“I have something else that I hope will make you happier.”
“What is it Catherine?”
”I want to live below with you Vincent. I want to share your world.” He dropped his gaze and was silent for a moment.
“You’ve always been a woman of both worlds.”
”I always will be, but now I want this world to be my home. Our home” she said as she touched her stomach.
“Are you sure?”
”Please Vincent. I need to be close to you.. Always. I love you.”
”And I love you.”
“Will you let me make this choice?”
”I will love to have you live here with me Catherine. It’s a dream come true, to have all I ever wanted with me always.”
“I wanted to stay even when my father died, but I still went back to prove to myself that I could.”
”You have a responsibility to your life above Catherine. I never wanted to ask you to leave that behind.”
”And I will continue to help others as much as I can, but I believe this is our time Vincent.” He sat next to her on the bed and she rested her head on him. “For so long we have stayed away from each other and now we can finally share a life together the way it was always meant to be.”
“Oh Catherine, I felt you go tonight. I felt you go.” He said as he held her close. “Now more than I ever I know that a world without you.. would be no world at all.” They held each other tightly for a long time.
Father came in briefly to check on Catherine and congratulated her on the baby. She was pleasantly surprised to see that he had accepted the news and welcomed her without much argument. He hadn’t always been the biggest support when it came to her relationship with his son. But now that he was going to be a grandfather he seemed to be giving in completely and it made both Vincent and Catherine happy.
Later that night Vincent sat by her side as she rested peacefully. He never imagined Catherine would one day carry his child and become a permanent resident of the tunnel world. But here she was, sleeping in his chamber and that’s where she would be for the rest of their lives. As he got up to cover her she stirred.
“I’m sorry, did I wake you?”
”No. I’m glad.” She smiled and touched his face.
“How do you feel now? Are you still afraid?”
”No. Just grateful.”
“We have endured much.” He said as he stroked her back.
“Yes we have. And I know in the deepest part of who I am that whatever happens now Vincent we will endure. We will.”
 
 
 
The next day Catherine Chandler went to the District Attorney’s office. She agreed to help Joe with the domestic violence department but as for field work, she would no longer be involved. Joe agreed especially when he learned she was expecting a child. She gave up her apartment and moved below fully and six months later, the newlyweds welcomed Jacob Wells into the world.