By Irene Felton


Part 1



The day had not begun well. Catherine had awoken with a granddaddy of a headache. The alarm had not gone off, due to the fact that she had fallen asleep very late into the evening, over the ever increasing amount of paperwork generated by her job at the District Attorney's office. There had been no time for breakfast this morning. Swiping her mug of coffee off the work top in the kitchen Catherine took a swig as she struggled with her jacket. Marching through to the living room, one arm in her jacket, the other dangling down her back, Catherine set the mug of coffee down onto the coffee table and in her haste some of the remainder slopped over the rim of the mug, spilling over her case files lying haphazardly over the table. "Damn! Damn" she muttered under her breath as she grabbed some tissues from the box on the table, to mop up the mess. "Oh God" she exclaimed looking at her watch. "This makes the third time this month." Gathering her files in her arms, Catherine rushed towards her street door and knocked her shin on the coffee table in the process. "Ouch" she yelped aloud, rubbing her leg as she struggled with the other arm of her jacket. At last, jacket on, case files safely in her arms, Catherine gave a quick look around her apartment. No time to tidy up now she thought ruefully. Then she grabbed her purse on the chair by the door and slammed the door shut behind her, satisfied with the clunk of the lock as it connected.

Catherine practically ran to the elevator and pressed the down button. "Come on, come on" she grumbled to herself as the elevator seemed to take forever to arrive. "At last," she sighed out loud, as the door slid open. Catherine pressed the button marked garage and impatiently strummed her fingers across her purse on top of her files. What's taking so long, she thought. The doors slid open with a soft metallic thud and she ran over to where her car was parked. Taking her keys from her purse, she fumbled for the right one. At last the door was open, Catherine pushed the files and purse to the seat opposite and slid in.

Turning the engine over, whirr whirr, nothing. Then she tried again and again, whirr whirr, still nothing. Her head fell forward to rest on the steering wheel in defeat. Her head ached badly, she was late for work and now the car wouldn't start, what next? As if on cue, there was a loud clap of thunder. Catherine shuddered involuntary. 'Oh no!' she thought, 'not now.' Opening the car door, Catherine reached across the seat and grabbed her possessions: Before she had realised what she'd done. She was out of the car and had slammed the door shut with the keys still in the ignition.

Running her fingers across her forehead, in a vain attempt to relieve the headache that was developing into a full blown migraine, Catherine turned on her heel and ran towards the elevator. Stepping inside she pushed the button marked lobby. Stepping out of the elevator, Catherine crossed the floor to the front desk.

"Oh John can you help me? Will you call me a cab and someone about my car? I've done something very stupid. I've locked my keys inside and it wont start."

"Of course Miss Chandler, right away". Catherine took a seat and glanced outside to see the deluge of ram and groaned.

"Miss Chandler", John called from across the counter of his desk. The cab will be five minutes and someone will be out this afternoon about your car. Would you like me to take care of that for you?".

"Would you John? You are an angel".

"No angel Miss Chandler, just doing my job. Is there anything else I can do for you"?

"No, but thank you again for you help." Catherine pressed her fingers against her temples.

"Are you all right Miss Chandler?"

"I'm all right John. Just a bad headache. I've had a rotten start to the day, that's all. John nodded and went back to his job of overseeing the security cameras.

Catherine looked at her watch for the second time in a minute. Then, unable to sit any longer, gob up to pace the floor of the lobby. Catherine looked up just as the cab pulled into the kerb, at the double doors of the front entrance. She grabbed her things and hurried out of the building. The ram wag pelting down and Catherine got soaking wet just running down the steps to enter the cab. She slid in, slamming the door behind her. Smoothing down her skirt, Catherine told the cabbie, "District Attorney's Office please and hurry"

"Sure lady, will be there in no time", he answered. Catherine watched the windscreen wipers as they battled against the onslaught of ram. The weather matched her mood, dark and gloomy. Catherine glanced at her watch again, she had a deposition to take at ten o'clock. At this rate she was going to be late, very late. There was a loud peal of thunder and Catherine jumped at the sound. Never liking thunderstorms, as a child she would hide until the storm had passed. Feeling very uneasy, she laced her fingers tightly together and closed her eyes, wishing she was still in her warm bed and this was just a bad dream.

"Okay lady that will be ten bucks", as the cab pulled into the kerb. Catherine's eyes flew open, rummaging through her purse and threw some bills towards him. Then she was out of the cab in a flash. "Hey lady your change". Then he shrugged his shoulders at her retreating form and muttered to himself. "Dumb broad" as he pulled away from the kerb.

As Catherine stepped from the cab she found herself ankle deep in a puddle. She looked down.

"Wonderful" she shouted, realising she was attracting some curious stares from her very vocal outburst. Feeling absolutely miserable, she flew up the steps of the D.A. building and through the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Her mind was working overtime, as she tried to think of an excuse to appease Joe for her lateness if he waylaid her on entering the off ice.

Vincent stopped dead in his tracks, on his way to supervise on the latest tunnel repairs. Catherine was uppermost in his thoughts. He had felt her escalating frustrations through the bond and had known instantly her day had started badly. Vincent could feel her discomfort and was concerned for her welfare. He knew she was in no danger and that the feelings of frustrations and anger were not directed at anyone or anything in particular. Except maybe herself, but still he worried. He had felt an unease, certain frustrations, over the last few weeks, emanating from her. The fact that she had not spoken of her feelings, made him uneasy. They had known each other for a little over three years now and he thought their love and trust in each other was absolute. He heard footsteps approaching and turned to see Cullen coming towards him. "Is Catherine well?".

Vincent had to smile at that. "Am I that obvious?" he replied.

"Well yes, where Catherine is concerned."

"Catherine is well but troubled".

"You know Vincent, you are so lucky to be connected to someone like that. To be that dose to someone, to know what they are feeling."

Vincent's eyes took on a far away dreamy look, "Yes." was his only answer. Then taking Cullen completely by surprise, Vincent slapped him on the back affectionately. "Come we have work to do." As he moved onward down the passageway, he then sent his love and devotion to Catherine through the ethereal threads of their bond.

Catherine slung her purse and jacket over the back of her chair, then wearily sat down. She felt terrible. Reaching into the draw of her desk. She rummaged about until she found the pills she was looking for. Popping two into her mouth, she walked over to the water cooler and half-filled a styrofoam cup, swallowing the pills with a mouthful of the cool clear water. Catherine swallowed the rest gratefully and crushed the styrofoam cup with great satisfaction between her slim nimble fingers, before tossing it into the trash can. That done, Catherine walked back over to her desk and picked up the top file, glancing over to the clock on the wall. She sighed and picked up her jacket and purse, thinking if she left now she might just make it in time to take the deposition. Catherine was about to leave the of ice, when she was stopped in mid stride.

"Radcliffe my office; now!" The anger in Joe's voice was apparent. Catherine turned on her heel and raised her eyes to the ceiling in a sign of exasperation. "What now?" She could see Joe pacing the confines of his office, through the glass partition of his off ice door. He stopped and looked at her as she entered his office. Joe gestured with his hand for her to sit, and parked himself on the corner of his desk. He picked up a rubber band from the top of his desk and wound it around his fingers in a repetitious movement. A habit formed many years ago. Catherine knew he wasn't angry with her, but someone or something had certainly got to him. "The Ma'graw case, it's out. Finito, he walks."

"But how Joe? she stammered. I've worked for weeks on this one. I know their lawyers are good, but I felt sure we had him this time."

"Yeah well thems the breaks" Joe retorted.

"I'm on my way right now to take a deposition from Lennox. With his testimony we can put Ma'graw away where he belongs for a very long time."

"That's just it Cathy. I've just this minute got off the phone with Moreno. He says he's just had word that Lennox was on work detail in the laundry room. The guards found him about an hour ago, at the bottom of a laundry basket. He had been knifed. There was nothing they could do." Catherine's shoulders slumped forward, defeat obvious in her posture. She raised her eyes to Joe. "Why Joe? why do we bother? How do scum like Ma'graw and his cronies get away with the destruction of innocent lives? We must do something Joe. We can't let him walk, we can't."

"What can I say Kiddo? I know how you feel, but it's finished. Time to move on. We haven't the time, money, or the manpower to chase shadows."

"I know but it's so unfair" she whispered.

"How's the Henderson case coming? We want results on this one Cathy." Catherine didn't answer. She got slowly to her feet and walked out of his off ice. She felt gutted, having worked on the Ma'graws case for weeks. Going over and over the finer points. Making sure all the legal technicalities were taken care of.

It was one of the reasons Catherine had not seen Vincent for several weeks. Oh how she wished she could see him now, or hear his voice. She missed him terribly. Catherine sat down at her desk utterly dejected, she felt at a loss. Everything seemed so useless. Her job was becoming more and more frustrating. It seemed to her, out of all the cases she had worked upon, only a few had been successfully prosecuted. Why did anyone bother? As soon as one piece of scum had been put away, another three crawled out of the woodwork to take over. Catherine was fast becoming more and more disillusioned with her job.

Many times over the last few weeks, Catherine wondered if she had made the right decision to leave her father's law firm, to join the D. A. office after her attack. Her job not only affected her own life, but Vincent's also. He had risked his life many times to save hers, after following up on leads to certain cases she had been investigating. Heaven knows what toll it had taken on him. Oh how he had hated himself when he had succumbed to his dark side in defence of her life! How he could not look at her afterwards. Would flinch from her touch, mortified that she had seen him that way. Most of her cases were office bound now, after telling Joe she could no longer work in the field. She refused to put Vincent in that situation, or his life in danger again because of her work. Joe had been surprised by her decision, but, unwilling to lose such a good worker and friend, he reluctantly agreed and kept her behind a desk.

The paperwork was tedious and time consuming. Most nights she didn't arrive home till late. Sometimes too tired even to enjoy Vincent's company. They seemed to spend less and less time together because of the pressures of her job. With all this and the fact she wanted to be more in Vincent's life and his unwillingness to commit to a physical relationship with her, she felt even more frustrated in the direction her life was going. She would give it all up tomorrow to be with him. Just to love him and give him the kind of life he so richly deserved, but felt he had no right too. To take her away from her life above, and live with him in the tunnels, to Vincent would be sacrilege, although she wanted so desperately to do so. Catherine knew part of the reason she stayed at the D. A. office, was Vincent's obvious pride in her achievements. That she was willing to give to others unendingly. Yes, she had changed since knowing Vincent. He had nurtured her fragile spirit after her attack. Brought out all her goodness and concern for others. But why couldn't he see, he was the most important thing in her life? Catherine loved him with a passion she had never known before and would go to great lengths to protect him. She would gladly give him everything, if only he would let her. A small smile creased her lips. Catherine could feel him in that special place inside her heart, reserved only for him. Their connection was a two way thing, but much stronger on Vincent's side. He was thinking of her and she felt his love and concern for her; giving his much needed support through the bond. Catherine sent her love and thanks through their wondrous connection.

Catherine's eyes fell to the Ma'graw case still in her hands and sighed. Opening the drawer to her desk, she let the files slip from her fingers and slammed it shut. She looked out the window. The rain was still pelting down, leaving little rivulets of water running down the dirty window pane. The thunder rumbled ominously in the distance. All she wanted was to feel Vincent's strong arms around her. She needed his quiet strength. Lost in thought, Catherine did not hear Joe approach her desk.

"Hey Radcliffe you ok?" Startled, Catherine looked up at him.

"Sure Joe I'll be all right."

"Come on Cathy don't lose it now. You know the score. I know you're disappointed, but I need you here, now."

"Yea I know the score, she said dejectedly. There's got to be a better way to keep these creeps off the streets?"

"Well if there is I don't know of any. Come on Cathy we need you, so get to it." He turned and walked away.

Catherine looked at his retreating form for a moment, then looked down at the large pile of files on her desk. 'What's the point?' she thought, 'what's the point?'. She picked up the Henderson file on the top of the pile and scanned the pages of her report, working thoroughly but without her usual enthusiasm. She went through the motions but no longer enjoyed her job like she used to. Catherine worked through her dinner break, knowing Joe wanted the report urgently. When she finally looked up from her desk, she was shocked to find the office nearly deserted. Catherine glanced at the wall clock... seven sixteen. She straightened in her chair and stretched, moving her head from side to side, in an effort to ease the kinks in her neck and shoulders. It didn't work. Her headache was now reduced to a dull ache behind her eyes. She looked out the window. It was dark outside and still raining. Rubbing her eyes, she sat back in her chair. The thought of going back to her lonely apartment was not very appealing.

Catherine would not see Vincent till Saturday as mutually agreed. It was only Wednesday. Perhaps she would go down to see him. Catherine longed to feel his arms about her. Then perhaps not. It was unfair of her to just turn up. He was probably worn out and tired himself. He worked so hard. So many people depended on him. When he had come above of late Catherine could feel and see his fatigue, it was etched on his face. But the need to see each other and to hold one another was paramount. Oh why was their love so complicated? No, retract that, she thought. It wasn't their love that was complicated, it was everything else. The demands on them were many. Her mood had not lightened as the day had progressed. If anything she was feeling more depressed than ever.

Catherine came to a decision. She would go home and shower, grab a bite to eat and go down to see Vincent. So what if their time together was limited? It was everything to them. Catherine stood up quickly and wished she hadn't. The room seemed to tilt at a curios angle. She felt the blood drain from her and she gripped the edges of her desk to support her shaky legs and prayed she wouldn't pass out. As the feelings subsided, she silently admonished herself for missing lunch and sat back down. She really must take better care of herself. After a few moments, giving the butterflies in her stomach time to settle, Catherine stood slowly, put on her jacket and swung her purse over her shoulder. She was about to pick up the files on her desk, then thought better of it. Being with Vincent right now was more important than anything else.

Vincent sat on his large bed, drying his long flaxen coloured hair. He had just arrived back from his bathing chamber, after a gruelling days work in the lower tunnels. Due to the heavy rainfall all day, some of the lower tunnels had flooded, which resulted in a tunnel collapse in one of the many caverns. Vincent and many of the underground community had worked tirelessly to clear the blocked pathway. Vincent's enormous strength had been needed to remove the huge boulders that had been washed down with the onslaught of water. The work had taken many long hours and everyone had finished tired, wet and completely covered in mud. Every muscle in Vincent's body was protesting. He stood suddenly, all his senses attuned to Catherine. He felt the dizziness as it came upon her and he expelled the held breath as he felt it suddenly leave her again. He also felt her overwhelming tiredness and frustrations of her long hard day. It matched his own. Also her many conflicting emotions whirling through her mind, but most of all, her all consuming need to see him, hold him. Vincent knew without a shadow of a doubt that Catherine would be down to see him tonight, although no plans had been made to do so. Oh how he needed to see her also. To breathe the delicate scent of her. To hold her close. Vincent decided he would go to her, concerned for her overriding his need to rest. Catherine was much to tired to make the strenuous journey below.

With his mind made up, Vincent quickly dried his hair and got dressed. With a flourish he settled his cloak around his shoulders and fastened the clasp around his neck. Then left his chamber to seek out Father to inform him of his plans. That done, Vincent strode purposefully through the tunnels. The torches flickered in their sconces, casting his large silhouette against the tunnel walls as he passed. He had decided to go the park way as it was the quickest route. Vincent pulled up his hood and settled himself more securely inside his cloak to give him better protection against the rain. The grass was wet and slippery underfoot. With Vincent's catlike stealth this presented him with no problems. The rain also meant the park was virtually deserted. Most preferred their warm homes, than to be out in the miserable rain.

It wasn't long before he found himself on Catherine's balcony. The drapes were open and it was dark inside. Catherine wasn't home yet. Vincent paced the balcony, it was little protection against the driving rain. He thought perhaps he should leave. Then felt the force of Catherine's emotions. They were whirling like a vortex, escalating higher and higher by the minute. Vincent dismissed his previous thought, Catherine needed him. His decision now made to stay, he tried the door that led inside her apartment. It was not locked. Vincent hesitated for a moment before going inside. He had never entered Catherine's apartment without her being present and even those times had been few. He had only entered when she had needed his help. Vincent considered this apartment her world and he did not belong there. Catherine had given him a key in case of emergencies. He kept it inside his pouch that contained Catherine's rose. The one she had given him on their first anniversary of him finding her battered and bleeding in the park, after her vicious attack. It warmed his heart to know he was welcome in Catherine's world anytime. Vincent entered her apartment and took off his very wet cloak and muddy boots. With cloak slung over his arm and boots in hand, he was in the bathroom within a few strides, wiping the muddy boots with some tissue he found in one of the numerous pockets secreted in his cloak. He placed them by the door, careful not to mark her lush carpet. He hung his cloak over the rail of her shower unit so it would drip dry. Throwing the soiled tissue into the waste basket, he moved back into the living room in stockinged feet. The feel of the soft, thick carpet was very different to the feel of hard stone tunnel floors. His eyes scanned the tasteful decor of her apartment, before going to the fireplace to light the fire. He switched on one of the wall lights and soon the room was enveloped with a warm soft glow. His eyes scanned the room again. A few of her clothes were scattered around the room. One dainty slipper had landed upside down under the coffee table. The other lay next to the louvered doors of her bedroom. Catherine had obviously left in great haste this morning, he mused to himself.

Vincent bent to retrieve the discarded slipper under the coffee table and held it in his large hands. Such small feet he thought. He crossed the room to collect her clothing. His large fingers picked up her sweater and skirt from the back of one of her couches. He allowed his fingers to caress the soft material. Catherine always wore exquisite clothing. He buried his nose into the soft wool of her sweater, the scent, unique to her, still lingered. Sighing he padded through to her bedroom. Vincent smiled to himself. The bed was in total disarray. Folding the sweater and skirt, he placed them on the chair in front of her dressing table, ignoring his reflection in the mirror. Then turned to make the bed. His foot entangled into something left lying on the floor. He bent to retrieve the garment, it was Catherine's nightgown. He lifted the gown towards the light from her bedside lamp, which Catherine had forgotten to switch off before she had left for work that morning. The fabric was so sheer, he could see his own hand through the delicate material. Vincent pressed the gown to his cheek, relishing the softness and her scent. The image of Catherine wearing the gown, lying on the bed, her arms open, beckoning to him, came unbidden to his mind. 'No!' he thought as he shook his head to clear his mind of the vision. Vincent straightened the bed before laying the gown lovingly across it, allowing his fingers to caress the material one last time. Just as he was about to leave the room, he noticed Catherine's other slipper by the door. He placed next to the one be had set beside the bed earlier. Leaving the bedroom, he checked the fire in the living room before approaching the kitchen.

Vincent switched on the light and blinked rapidly as the harsh light caused him some discomfort. After a few moments his eyes adjusted to the bright glare. He filled the kettle and set it down on the stove, to await Catherine's arrival. He then went in search of food. The fridge was nearly empty, just a few tomatoes, limp lettuce and odds and ends. Her cupboards did not fare much better. Taking down a can of soup, he made a mental note to have a talk to Catherine about taking better care of herself. He rummaged through the drawer for a can opener. On finding one he opened the can and tipped the contents into a small saucepan. It was now ready to heat. Re placed the saucepan next to the kettle on the stove. Vincent found half a loaf in the bread bin and cut several slices and placed them on a plate. He opened up his connection to Catherine to ascertain her arrival and shuddered at the strength of her need of him.

Catherine ran down the steps outside the office building, her purse held over her head to keep the ram off. As she reached the last two steps, her ankle twisted beneath her. Unable to keep her balance, Catherine pitched forward onto her hands and knees. Shaken she tried to get up. The few people milling around came to her assistance and helped her to her feet. "You Ok lady?" one asked.

"Nasty fall that" said another. Feeling embarrassed Catherine thanked each in turn for their help and looked down at her appearance. Her nylons were ruined. Both her knees were grazed and there were large muddy stains on her once cream coloured skirt. A passer-by handed Catherine her purse. She winced in pain as she took it. There was a large cut on the palm of her hand. Not too deep, but it was oozing blood which was dripping down onto her clothing. "Well, she said to herself sarcastically. Isn't this just dandy. A perfect end to a perfect day." Taking a hanky from her jacket pocket she wrapped it tightly around her hand.

Catherine looked around, hoping against hope to find a cab she could flag down. As luck would have it, one pulled up just a few yards away in front of her and someone jumped out. Not wasting a second Catherine limped over and slid into the vacated seat at the back of the cab and slammed the door firmly behind her. Catherine gave the cabbie her address and sat back dejectedly, closing her eyes. She felt the tears well up and did not try to stop them as they spilled down over her cheeks. "You all right miss?" The cabbie asked in a broad New York accent. "Bad day huh?"

"You could say that," Catherine said with a tremulous smile. "One I do not wish to repeat in a hurry." She closed her eyes, unable it seemed to stop the tears from flowing. After what seemed like an eternity, the cab pulled up outside her apartment building. "That'll be eleven bucks miss." Catherine fished about in her purse and pulled out fifteen dollars. "Keep the change" she said and eased out of the cab gingerly as her bones began to protest after her recent fall. Catherine climbed the few steps to the lobby entrance and stepped over the threshold wearily. Crossing to the desk Catherine was surprised to see John still on duty. She gave him a half smile, "Haven't you got a home to go to".

"Oh Miss Chandler I'm just covering for someone. Your keys are here and your car will be ready Friday." Re eyed her surreptiously, "you don't look well. Then looking at her appearance; "Have you had an accident or something? Do you need any help?"

"Only a minor accident. I will be fine as soon as have had a hot shower." Wishing her good night, John handed her the keys. "Good night John, don't work too hard." Catherine turned and crossed the lobby to the elevator, pressing the required button then stepped inside. Catherine caught sight of her reflection in the shiny steel surface. "God you look a mess Chandler. Even Vincent would turn away screaming, or roaring in his case," she said to herself. Talking to herself was becoming a habit lately, Catherine mused to herself. It must be because of the many hours spent alone and it was a unconscious way of breaking the silence. She leaned heavily against the wall of the elevator completely bone weary. The doors to the elevator slid open and Catherine pushed herself away from the wall and stepped out. Her footsteps were slow and sluggish, never had she felt so glad to see her own front door. Putting the key in the lock Catherine pushed the door open and stepped inside. Leaning against the door as it closed behind her. She expelled a sigh between gritted teeth.

Catherine knew instantly someone was in the apartment. She felt the fear begin to rise, but clamped down on it immediately. Catherine had sworn never to risk Vincent's life again arid she wasn't about to start again now. Whatever trouble she was in she would deal with it herself. Taking the gun from her purse... she never went any where without it now, she called out "Who's there?"

Vincent felt the flash of fear and cursed himself inwardly for not meeting Catherine at the door. He stepped out of the kitchen into Catherine's line of vision . "It's me Catherine... please do not be alarmed."

"Oh God Vincent, you scared the hell out of me," she replied as she lowered the gun in shaky fingers.

"I'm sorry Catherine I did not mean... "His voice trailed off as he took in her dishevelled appearance. "Catherine what has happened?" His eyes took in her bandaged hand and grazed knees. Catherine was in his arms before she had time to blink. They held each other tightly. Vincent's hand slid down her arm to remove the gun from her fingers and threw it onto the chair by the door. Her whole body was shaking as she sobbed against his chest. "Tell me Catherine. What has happened?"

"Just hold me." she whispered between sobs.

Vincent scooped her up into his arms and seated himself on one of her couches. Holding her tightly in his lap, he realized she was wet through. "Catherine you need to get out of these wet clothes, please." Placing her down on the couch he stood up.

"No don't leave me, I need you."

He knelt down before her and held her small cold fingers in his. "Catherine I will not leave you. I only want to run you a hot bath. Please let me help you. We can talk later." He brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them tenderly. His heart hung heavy at the look of despair and defeat on her lovely features. He rose and strode to the bathroom, determined to be there for her. He filled the bath and tested the temperature, of the water with his elbow. Rather like you would for a baby. Satisfied it was at the required heat, he made sure everything she would need was in easy reach. He put soap and shampoo dose by with three large fluffy pink towels he had fetched from the linen cupboard. Glancing around the bathroom one last time to make sure he had not forgotten anything, he turned and made his way back to Catherine. She was sitting where he had left her curled up on the couch. He knelt before her and whispered in that soft gravely voice she loved so much. "Come Catherine, all is ready." Then he scooped her up into his arms and padded towards the bathroom. Catherine had stopped crying, but the emotions he felt through their connection, worried him. He lowered her to the floor and held her steady.

She looked up at him then. "I'm sorry" she said in a voice hardly audible.

"Sshh Catherine we will talk later, please don't be sorry. I'm here for you always." He lifted her injured hand and removed the bloody handkerchief. His lips touched lightly to the cut, in a tender gesture. It did not look too serious. But anything that caused her pain, tore at his heart. "I will attend to your injuries after you have bathed. Please do not attempt to do more. I will see to everything after." He tilted her chin up towards him with his finger. "Promise?" Catherine gave a slight nod to that, her eyes still red and puffy from so much crying.

"Would you mind Catherine if I left the door open a little? I will be right outside if you need me." Then realizing it sounded a bit presumptuous he quickly added. "If you prefer I can wait in the living room?"

"No please stay close. I need you close." At her answer he nodded and left her to bathe. He left the door ajar, then sat down on the floor, just outside the door; his hands resting on his raised knees. His head lay back against the wall. They would have to talk as soon as Catherine was rested. She was desperately unhappy and he had to find out why. She was keeping something from him and it worried him. They had never kept secrets from each other before. He had to get to the bottom of this turmoil within her, before it destroyed her. Never had he seen her so stressed, not since the time of her attack and he marvelled at her courage to overcome all the obstacles that life deemed to throw at her.

Catherine stood staring blankly down at the bath. The steam rose to caress her face and the contact was warm and pleasant. This seemed to break her out of her trance and she started to undress. The clothes fell to the floor in a crumpled wet heap. She then stepped into the refreshing hot bath, grimacing as the water made contact with her cut hand and grazed knees. She slid down into the hot soothing water until fully submerged except for her head. It felt wonderful and Catherine was content to just lay there, soaking away the aches and pains of her stressful day.

Her mind drifted to Vincent. What would she do without him. He always knew what she needed. Except for the feelings she was careful to keep hidden. The feelings that had her waking up in a cold sweat; her body pulsing with her need of him. The dream of Vincent loving her in the way she wanted him to. The feelings of unfulfillment as she awoke to realize it was but another dream. Catherine would clamp down on her feelings immediately not wanting him to sense them. Oh how those feelings would shock him and she wanted to be so worthy of his love. She never wanted to disappoint him. She could never do that. At one time Catherine believed they could have a life together and deep down she still hoped. After Lisa's return, Vincent was forced to confront his fears once more. Things he had kept buried for so long. Vincent had confessed his terrible secret to her. That in his youth and in a moment of passion, he had reached for Lisa and when she had pulled away from him in fear, he had hurt her. Her flesh had been torn by the claws of his hand and it was in that moment, he said he knew his hands were not meant to give love.

Catherine had taken his hands then and kissed them. Told him that they were her hands. Catherine knew then, this was one of the reasons their relationship had not gone beyond the hugging stage. It was his fear of hurting her, that held him back. From that moment on she had been filled with hope. Catherine was sure that with her love and understanding, she could show him he could never hurt her, in any circumstances. That she would welcome his love, no matter how long it took. That had been over eighteen months ago and she now no longer believed that hurting her was his only fear.

Vincent would not let her make concessions to her work for him; insisting that her job with the DA's Office was infinitely more important than him. She helped so many he said. He would see her only when it was convenient to her. He felt he had no place in her life. Oh she knew he loved her. He had never said so, not in words. But it was in the way he held her, protected her, it shone from his eyes. He had tried to send her away many times, to find the fulfilment and happy life be was so sure he could never provide. Even after her fathers death and she had asked to stay with him, he was there for her, but gently guided her back to her life above, saying it was not the right time for them yet. That only when they had moved through all their fears and knew and accepted all their sacrifices, could they truly be together. Perhaps he had been right. But even now sometimes she thought it had been a grave mistake on her part to have allowed herself to be talked into going back above.

It had felt at times that he had placed her upon a pedestal and every time she tried to climb down to be in his arms, he would put her back firmly in place. He felt he had no rights to her love. Had nothing to offer her, but his love. To him it was not enough. So he held back, worshipped her from afar. Never allowing her to get to close. Didn't he see what he was doing. How he was hurting her. She loved him so much. She wanted him in every way and if it meant giving up everything to be with him, she would. Didn't he know that? Then the doubts and insecurities began to surface. Maybe he did not love her that way. Did the thought of making love to her appal him? He had held her tenderly, kissed the top of her head, looked after her when in need. But he would do the same for anyone, wouldn't he? Perhaps he just felt responsible for her because be had saved her life. Had she been fooling herself all these years? He felt great pride in her, she knew that. At her courage to pull her life back together again after her attack and her wish to help others. What would he think of her now, if he knew she was so sick of her job. The failures that were becoming more and more frequent. How could she look at him? Her head shook from side to side. No he must never know. She would carry on working, she would never, could never disappoint him.

Catherine shut out her thoughts, remembering he was just outside and how sensitive he was to her sentiments. She took the soap between her now warm fingers and lathered her body, soaping away the dirt and grime of her long hard day. Then slid under the water to rinse the soap from her body. Quickly she washed and rinsed her hair, trying to think of something to say to Vincent. She knew he was concerned and had felt her emotions all day. She didn't want to lie to him, she could never do that. She would have to bend the truth a little. All she wanted right now, was him to take her to bed, love her passionately and make her forget everything but him. She shook her head again. "Noooo!" before she had realized it she had shouted out loud. "I must not think these things."

"Catherine what is it?" His hand was already on the handle, controlling the urge to just run in. "I'm ... all right Vincent. I will be out in a moment."

"Are you sure Catherine? Do you need anything?"

"Just you" she whispered under her breath. Then more loudly. "No thank you. You have thought of everything."

"If everything is well with you Catherine, I will make us a cup of tea. The fire is burning brightly. I think it would be nice to have our tea in front of the it. Are you sure you will be all right?"

"Yes I will be fine. It sounds lovely, thank you." Vincent let go of the door handle and padded through the to bedroom, closing the louvered doors behind him, to give Catherine her privacy. Then he moved quickly to the kitchen.

Catherine heard the door handle jerk back up and knew Vincent had left to make the tea. She exhaled loudly. Very shakily she climbed out of the bathe, holding on to the sides for support. Grabbing one large towel she wrapped it around her head, turban style. Then she patted her skin dry, almost roughly with another. Catherine looked at her reflection in the full length mirror fixed to the back of her bathroom door. She eyed herself critically. Although her eyes were still red and slightly puffy, her face, she knew, was considered beautiful. Her skin soft and unblemished, except for the small scar beneath her left ear and the scars on her body left from her injuries she had encountered with her work. Her neck was long and slender. She considered her breasts small but well formed; her waist slim and her hips nicely rounded. Her legs she thought were short, although shapely, smooth and supple. Looking at herself, she considered she looked attractive, if perhaps a little school girlish without her makeup. She had always wanted to be taller and wondered what Vincent saw when he looked at her. Then a thought struck her. What if Vincent did not look at her as a man looks at a woman? Perhaps she wasn't attractive enough for him. Then dismissed the thought. He had always said she was beautiful. Sometimes she would see a glint in his eye, but it would be gone in a flash before she had time to analyse it. "Stop it Chandler, she muttered under her breath. You're driving yourself crazy. Calm yourself before Vincent senses your unrest." Then her head snapped up. What was he thinking? Her emotions must have run the gamut and she knew Vincent must have felt all of them. Why else would he be here? Panic set in. What would she say to him? She couldn't tell him the truth, could she? Taking the terry towelling dressing gown off its hook, she slipped it on. Tying the belt securely around her waist, she plonked herself down on the hamper. She felt the sting of tears again and swiped them away angrily. She wiped her hands down the front of her dressing gown and felt the pain slice through her hand. She had forgotten about the cut. She must see to it, she thought absentmindedly.

Catherine stood suddenly, resolute, realising it was useless keeping something like this from Vincent. He would know something was wrong, probably already did. No more. Vincent had taught her to face her fears, no matter how painful. The thought of losing him, terrified her. But she could not go on like this. It would surely destroy her, keeping this to herself. It was becoming more and more difficult each day, to mask her thoughts. She suspected Vincent knew something was wrong but was waiting for her to say something. 'Please God, let us survive this, we must.' She couldn't live without him. Taking a deep breath, Catherine walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom.



Part 2

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