Chapter 9: Lost
"Thanks Maize," Tasha said as her aunt dropped her off at the curb.
"Only time, lassie," Maize called back. "Ye ken ye kin aye ca' me whenever yi''ll need me."
Tasha watched as Maize drove away. She hadn't planned on running into her aunt at the photo shop. Tasha and Devin had gone there after separating from Catherine and the twins. Tasha had seen one of the pictures Devin had taken of the trio and she got the idea to make it into a gift for Vincent.
Devin loved the idea since it seemed like the perfect piece in the plan to reunite Vincent and Catherine. They took the camera to a photo shop to have the film developed. It took longer than planned since Devin had so many pictures on his camera. Tasha had told Devin to head back and that she would stay to get the picture and a frame.
While she was waiting she had picked out a gorgeous frame. Tasha was so pleased with the frame because it fit Catherine so well. It was a silver frame with intertwined roses engraved on the left side. There was also a place for an inscription and Tasha had selected something very special, something with infinite meaning between Catherine and Vincent.
It was while the shop owner was having the inscription done that Maize had entered the store. The two women were surprised to see each other and started catching up on old times. When Tasha's purchases were ready Maize offered to give Tasha a lift.
Laughing at the funny moment Tasha almost didn't see the black van that pulled around the corner, nearly running over the curb and hitting her. The van didn't even stop for the stop sign.
"Hey asshole, where'd you get a license!?" Tasha yelled at the van. It never stopped but Tasha made a note of the license plate number. Then she made her way back to the house. She was defiantly going to make a call and report the guy to the police.
Vincent kept to the shadows, but a powerful rage flowed through his veins as the van pulled out of sight.
"No!" Vincent roared as he smash his fist into the wall, causing a very large hole. Normally he wouldn't be so reckless, but he was blinded by rage. He just couldn't believe he had allowed those men to take Jacob. Not only had he let down the boy, but in a way he had also failed Catherine by not protecting her son.
A weak moan drew his attention. Vincent turned and gasped as he saw Devin lying face down on the floor. He rushed to his brother's side and gently rolled him onto his back.
Devin moaned from the pain; the bullets had hit him in his left shoulder and his right leg. His head also had a cut from where he knocked it against the table when he fell.
"Devin," Vincent called desperately. "It's Vincent. Please, can you hear me?"
"Vin," Devin barley managed to say. "I'm sorry... I-I tried."
"It's alright, I know you did everything you could, but you must rest now." Vincent got up to find Peter's first aid kit when Devin grabbed his arm.
"Charles?" he asked hoarsely.
Looking around Vincent saw the large man lying in the hallway. Vincent quickly examined him and found a bullet had grazed Charles' temple. Quickly, Vincent went to Peter's bathroom and found the first aid kit below the sink. He returned to Charles and bandaged his head. Then he rushed to Devin's side and bandaged his wounds.
When that was done, Vincent knew he had to get help. But as he made his way to the basement, Vincent heard someone walking up to the front door. Quickly Vincent slipped into the basement but stayed close in case it was one of the kidnappers.
"Mary mother of God!" Tasha cried when she entered the house. The front door was wide open and there was a broken lamp in the hallway. Then she saw Devin on the floor, and rushed to his side.
"Devin, what happened?" Tasha asked but got no answer. Then she saw Charles and started panicking. She never even noticed the wounded men had been bandaged. It was then Tasha realized that Catherine and the twins were nowhere in sight. She checked upstairs but found no sign of her friends.
"Oh God, please don't let that have happened," Tasha prayed. She ran to the phone with the intention of calling the police. Just as she started to dial 9-1-1 she stopped.
What I'm I doing? Tasha thought to herself. I can't call the police. Cathy said Gabriel had men everywhere. What if…?
Something made a sound. Tasha put the phone down and reached for a frying pan that was on the counter. If someone was still in the house she wouldn't be caught off guard. The noise had come from behind her and Tasha saw that the basement door was cracked open. Slowly she made her way toward the basement.
Vincent quietly crept back into the shadows, cursing himself for not watching for the large boxes behind him. He had been surprised that the woman knew Devin, but Vincent could not risk her seeing him. He watched as she came down, armed with a frying pan.
"All right, I know someone's down here," she said. "Come on, show yourself." She got no answer. "I swear if you had anything to do with what happened to my friends up there, I'll kick your sorry ass."
"I intend you no harm," Vincent told her, startling her a bit. "I know those men up there."
"If you’re telling the truth then come out and face me," she taunted. "I don't make a habit of talking to shadows."
"I cannot. I would only frighten you. Please, the men up there need immediate medical attention," Vincent implored. "You must inform the authorities. A young boy has been taken." He could see she understood. He watched as she turned to go up the stairs to call an ambulance, but then stopped.
"I don't think a hospital is safe. I can't say for sure, but if I'm right, then the men who did this have others in higher authority. If I call the police I could be putting us all in greater danger."
Vincent froze. If what this woman said was true then Jacob could be in more danger than he realized. After all, not all of Gabriel's associates had been arrested. Vincent was about to ask the woman how she knew this, but her next words completely surprised him.
"Look, if you could take them with you, I know someone who can help me find Jacob. I think they also took my friend and her daughter. Is there any way I can contact you as soon as I know something?"
Vincent could not find the words. How could this woman know that he could take Devin and Charles somewhere safe? And more importantly, how did she know Jacob? He wanted to ask her these but now was not the time.
"You still should contact the police," Vincent answered. "Joe Maxwell is a trustworthy man. Tell him of what has happened here, and if you should need me, tell Doctor Peter Alcott. He will contact me."
With that the young woman agreed, and went up the stairs to contact Joe. The moment he heard the woman upstairs, Vincent reentered the cabinet into the tunnels. He tapped out a message on the pipes for someone to bring a couple of stretchers, and for Father to prepare the Hospital Chamber.
He then slammed his fist against the wall and knocked over a few boxes. He cursed himself for not have arriving on time to save Jacob. And now it appeared these men also had a woman and her daughter in their clutches. Vincent slid to the floor in despair, waiting anxiously for someone to arrive.
Suddenly, Vincent felt a small pull at his heart, followed by a soft whimpering. Rising from the floor he walked over to the area Jacob had appeared from. Moving aside the boxes, he found a partially opened door hidden there. Vincent peered inside and found a small child huddle in the far back. By the pigtails tied with green ribbon it was clear that the child was a young girl, but she was wearing the same outfit Jacob had worn.
Vincent realized that this must be the daughter the young woman spoke of. He wanted to call out to the woman to let her know the girl was all right. However, it appeared she had already left the house. He turned his attention back to the girl. She was crying and trying to curl herself tighter into a ball. Vincent covered his face with his hood before speaking to her.
"Don't be frightened," he told her softly. "I won't harm you. Please, come out."
Slowly the girl unfurled herself and looked up at Vincent. She could not see him in the darken room, but she trusted the sound of his voice. She crawled out of her hiding place and sat on the edge of the opening. She tried to dry her tears, but they kept overflowing. Vincent got down on one knee so he could get a better look at the girl.
"You're going to be alright now," he told her. Before he could say anything else the girl launched herself at him. A little set back, Vincent understood she needed someone to comfort her. He enfolded the tiny girl in his strong embrace.
"I want my mommy," she cried into Vincent's vest.
"Shh, it’s alright. You're safe now," Vincent whispered. Gathering his small bundle, Vincent returned to the cabinet and waited for help to arrive, while rocking the girl in his arms.
It took about half an hour before William, Mouse, Pascal, and Kanin arrived with the stretchers. They loaded Devin and Charles onto the two stretchers and then made their way for home. Meanwhile, Vincent carried the tiny girl in his arms since the woman from earlier never returned. Father would not approve of bringing the child Below, but Vincent could not leave her alone in the house.
The girl had fallen asleep in Vincent's arms, sucking her thumb all the way back to the Home Tunnels. All the way back Vincent pondered over the strange connection he had shared with the child. What startled him the most was that with each step returning home the Bond forming between them was growing stronger.
"Look, pal, I already told you what I saw! There was this black van speeding down the road, almost killing me mind you, and when I got to the house it was torn apart and my sister and her kids were missing. That's all I got and you morons aren't doing shit about it!"
Tasha was getting aggravated with the detective. She'd been sitting here for over an hour and getting nowhere. The police had already searched Peter's house and had been questioning her about the blood found in the front hallway. And if this Greg Hughs didn't let her leave in the next five seconds, Tasha would find herself arrested for assaulting a cop.
"It's not that we aren't trying, Ms. Lockhart," Greg assured her, "but we're missing some important facts here, and you seem to be dodging most of my questions."
Before Tasha could deliver another argument, one with far more cursing, Joe Maxwell entered the room. "Lay off, Hughs, the lady clearly has said all she knows."
Greg Hughs apologized and thanked Tasha for her time. After he left Joe told her she could leave and, with a sarcastic thank you, Tasha dashed out of the D.A.'s office. Once she was outside she hailed a taxi to take her to her aunt's house in Brooklyn. Little did she know that the reclusive D.A. himself was following her.
Joe had been suspicious of this woman since he first got her call. She seemed shaky and had insisted on only speaking to him personally when she called about the kidnapping. Not only that but she seemed extra nervous whenever Greg had asked her about her sister and the children. Joe could spot a bad liar, and this Tasha Lockhart couldn't fool him. Joe wanted answers and this girl had them.
The cab soon pulled up in front of an old homeless shelter. Before entering Joe noticed another cab pulling up to the building. He was surprised to see Dr. Alcott step out of the vehicle and embrace the young woman. Then he watched as the two of them headed inside.
"Sorry I couldn't make it to the D.A.'s office, but I was just finishing up a liver transplant from this morning," Peter apologized.
"Don't sweat it, Doc," Tasha assured him. "I wish I had been there too, but now all we can do is find them, so we gotta lay low. These guys know where you live and that you were helping Cathy."
Tasha led Peter through the shelter doors and safely inside. After a quick check in with the receptionist Tasha headed to the back to see her aunt. Maize was sitting behind her desk going over bills when Tasha and Peter entered.
"Weel ah will be," Maize gasped, "didnae think A'd be seeing ye again sae soon, lassie. 'n' wha is this ye'v brought intae mah shelter?"
"Aunt Maize, I'd like you to meet Peter Alcott, but this isn't a curiosity visit. We gotta problem."
Tasha informed her aunt. She then proceeded to tell her aunt all that happed at Peter's house. Maize felt awful that Catherine and her children were in danger and she quickly agreed to help. Making sure no one was around, Maize lead Peter and Tasha back into a secret room in the basement. When Maize ushered them inside Peter was amazed at the sight he saw. Inside this room looked like a less themed version of the Bat Cave. Tasha laughed at Peter's flabbergasted look.
"I thought I told you, Doc?" Tasha laughed. "Maize and my mom used to work for the C.I.A. for undercover work."
"Th' lassie is richt, though ah aye dae a bawherr wirk fur thaim oan th' side," Maize said as she sat down at the larger computers. "Noo Tasha, juist gimme th' speirins 'n' I'll track doon th' scum that did this."
While Tasha relayed the information for Maize to type into her computer, Peter looked around. It took about twenty minutes before the computer finalized the information. Maize looked over the notes but it didn't sound good.
"Lassie, thare hee haw ah kin dae aboot this. While ah kin tell ye whaur that motor cam frae, thare juist na wey tae ken whaur 'twas goin."
"It's alright, Maize. I knew it was a long shot," Tasha assured her. "If only we had more information." Turning to her aunt she gave her a hug. "I have another idea, but I'll need you here. Call me if you find anything we can use."
"Aye, I'll dae juist that," Maize said as Tasha lead Peter out of the homeless shelter.
"What do you propose to do now?" Peter asked.
"I was hoping Maize could find out what we needed, but it looks like we'll need Plan D after all." Tasha sighed. She had been hoping they wouldn't need to.
"Plan D? Don't you mean Plan B?" Peter asked.
"Nope. While Plan B usually means the backup plan, I mean Plan D as in Plan Daddy."
"Tasha, you don't mean…?" Peter hesitated to think about what she was proposing.
"Yes Peter," Tasha's serious tone as she hailed a cab. "I need you to take me to Vincent.”
Father sighed as he exited the hospital chamber. It had taken a long time for him to remove the bullets from Devin's leg and shoulder. When Vincent had first sent word about the attack on Peter's house he'd been very worried. Then seeing Devin and Charles' injuries had nearly sent him over the edge. Father was brought out of his musing when he almost collided with Mary outside Vincent's chamber.
"Sorry Father," Mary apologized. "I was just coming to see if Vincent needed anything."
"That's quite alright, Mary," Father said as he peeked into the room.
Mary joined him and the sight they saw melted their hearts. Vincent sat on the edge of his bed with the girl cradled in his arms and Vincent seemed to be smiling. The poor girl was exhausted and slept soundly in Vincent's arms. Mary had tried earlier to take the child to the Nursery so she could rest, but the child refused to separate from Vincent.
Sensing their presence Vincent looked up and signaled with a head gesture for them to enter.
"How is she, Vincent?" Mary asked quietly.
"Still sound asleep," Vincent whispered. "I only wish she would allow me to place her in a bed."
"Well, that's to be expected," Father chuckled. "However, I would like to know what she was doing in Peter's house in the first place?"
"The woman I met in the basement told me the girl and her mother were friends of hers. She assumed that the girl had been taken with the mother and Jacob." Vincent noted the look of concern on Father's face. "Do not worry, Father, the woman did not see me."
That made Father a little more at ease that the woman had not seen Vincent. He had always been concerned with Vincent being discovered. Everyone quieted when the little girl began to whimper. In her sleep Vincent gently rocked her until the child settled. She calmed down enough that Vincent was finally able to settle her down in his bed. He sighed with relief as he tucked a quilt under her chin.
"Well that solves one problem," Father whispered. "Now perhaps we should continue this discussion in my chamber so not to disturb the child."
Vincent and Mary agreed and everyone silently crept out of Vincent's chamber. Before he followed Father and Mary, Vincent paused to check on the girl. She slept peacefully all cuddled up in his bed. A smile crept onto Vincent's face at how this tiny girl looked, no bigger than a doll sleeping in his oversized bed. Then Vincent rejoined Father and Mary. He entered Father's chamber just as Father and Mary were discussing how to find Jacob.
"We'll have to alert all the Helpers and we may have to get in contact with the police if necessary," Father suggested.
"We cannot, Father," Vincent entered and took his seat in his usual chair. "The woman I encountered warned me the police could not be trusted. We still don't know if any of Gabriel's men remain in the police force."
"Vincent's right," Mary interjected, "we can't involve the police. It's a shame Dianna is in Vermont. We could really use her right now."
An urgent tapping on the pipes interrupted them. It was a message being directed to Father.
"Peter is in the Tunnels," Father spoke up, "and there is a red-headed woman with him."
"Is there any chance it could be Dianna?" Mary asked.
"I don't believe so," Vincent said. "Dianna would have notified us if she had returned to the city. Even had it been her, Pascal would have identified her by name."
"Vincent, you should conceal yourself until we've spoken with this woman," Father suggested. "It's not like Peter to bring strangers, but it could be a Helper someone didn't recognize. Nevertheless, we cannot take any chances."
Then the pipes began tapping more urgently. Vincent. Meet Peter. Central Park entrance. ASAP
"What could Peter be thinking? Something's going on here and I don't like it."
"Father, as unusual as this may seem, I must go to Peter. One of the newer sentries is scouting that area; perhaps it is Dianna and she was not recognized. Peter may have information regarding Jacob."
Father sighed. "You're right, Vincent, but please, be cautious."
Vincent nodded and turned toward the park entrance. He made a quick stop by his chamber to retrieve his cloak and, after another quick check that his charge was still sleeping, headed for the tunnel. When he arrived, Vincent covered his face with his hood and turned the switch to open the secret door. Remaining in the shadows, Vincent saw the Peter standing in the entryway, but it was not Dianna standing next to him. Vincent instantly recognized her as the woman he met in Peter's basement.
When he saw him, Peter noted Vincent's agitated appearance and how he kept himself to the shadows. He wanted nothing more than to just tell Vincent the whole truth: about finding Catherine and everything. However, Tasha convinced him that telling Vincent that Cathy was alive would only cause him more panic. Best for now they have him focus on Jacob.
"Vincent, thank you for answering my message…" Peter said calmly. "I would like to introduce Tasha Lockhart. I know you must be wondering why I've brought her here, but please understand. She is our best chance at finding Jacob."
"If she knows where he is why has she not told the police?"
"Look," Tasha tried to explain, "I know we just met and all, but you gotta trust me. I can find Jacob, but I can't do it alone; I need your help. Peter says you have this thing, this Bond, with Jacob and I bet you can track him down. I didn't go to the police because Gabriel's involved. But I believe you already know that."
Hearing that name brought a low growl from Vincent. Inwardly he cursed himself for not killing that monster, but Dianna had him thrown into jail. Then he saw Tasha look hopefully at him, and then held out her hand.
"So what do ya say, Vince? You gonna trust me so we can get Jake back from those bastards?"
Vincent was just about to agree when... "You said bad word."
Everyone turned to see a small girl coming out from behind a small crevice in the tunnel wall. Vincent himself was amazed that he had not heard the child, nor felt her presence. He was about to say something when Tasha interrupted him.
"Ro? Is that you?" Tasha asked.
"Tasha!" She ran past Vincent and into Tasha's open arms.
"Thank heavens you're alright." Tasha checked her over to see that she was alright. "Ro, you had me so worried. What are you doing here?"
"Jacob make me hide. Then bad man took him." The poor girl was in tears again. Vincent felt how frightened the girl was as she relived that horrifying moment.
"Sweetheart, can you tell us what happened?" Peter asked.
"Mommy make lunch, and Jacob and me want play. I hide in good spot. Hear scary noise and Jacob foun and hided with me. Jacob goed look. I hear scream and Jacob gone."
Then Rosie pointed in Vincent's direction. "He foun me."
Vincent took a step closer but remained in the shadows. "I tried to find you, Miss Lockhart, but you had already left the house."
"It's Tasha, and I'm glad you found her first. I'd hate to have to explain her to the cops."
Noticing Vincent's obvious confusion, Peter decided to step in. "Vincent, if this is Gabriel's doing, we must keep the girl safe in case he is looking for her."
"You are right, Peter. I shall return her to Mary's care and meet you back here."
"Actually, lets meet at the entrance over on Fifth Avenue," Peter suggested. "We'll need a van with tinted windows if you're going to help us Above."
"Very well." Then he turned his attention back to Tasha and the young girl. She was hugging the child and giving her encouragement.
"Now listen, little cub. You be good for these people, okay?" Tasha asked Rosie.
The little girl nodded her head then turned to Vincent. After ensuring Peter and Tasha that he would meet them soon, he closed the secret hatch and made his way toward Father's chamber. Rosie did her best to keep up, but her short legs were no match for Vincent's long strides. Eventually he stopped to allow her to catch up.
"Can I hold your hand?" she asked endearingly.
Vincent tentatively held out his furred hand toward the girl. Rosie smiled as Vincent clasped her small hand in his own. It was a little awkward for Vincent because he had to bend down in order for the girl to reach his hand. After a while Rosie let go and took hold of Vincent's cloak. Vincent appreciated the gesture and made sure to slow his pace.
"Why you hide?" Rosie asked about a few minutes later.
Vincent stopped walking. He turned around and sank to his knees, but kept his hood over his face. "I do not wish to frighten you. Most people who see me become afraid."
"I not scared…" When he didn't answer she grabbed his hand again.
There was such confidence in her facial expression. Vincent was suddenly brought back to the first time Catherine had accepted him when Rosie reached up to push the hood away to reveal his face. The girl's eyes sparkled, and she smiled, as she looked him over.
"You look like Tom," she finally said.
"And who is Tom?" Vincent asked out of curiosity.
"Tom Tasha lion. He fun and let me ride him. But you gots prettier eyes."
Vincent wasn't sure what to say. Children seem to always accept his unusual appearance, but this girl seemed as if she'd known about him before she removed his hood. Vincent then thought that perhaps Rosie had a glimpse of him in the basement. They continued on their way until arriving at their destination. Father and Mary had remained seated and the look of worry was plastered across Father's face.
"Oh Vincent, how did it go?" Mary asked. "Was it Dianna after all?"
"No, it was the woman I encountered at Peter's house. She says she can find Jacob but she needs my help. She believes I can locate Jacob through the bond we share; I'm meeting her and Peter soon."
"I don't like this, Vincent. How do we know we can trust her?"
"Father, Peter says she is trustworthy and she has made it apparent that Jacob's life is not the only one in jeopardy. Rosie's mother was also taken."
"Who is Rosie?" Mary asked.
As if on cue Rosie emerged from where she had been hiding behind Vincent's cloak.
"Well, I see she is awake," Father nodded to Rosie.
"Apparently Rosie and her mother were visiting with Peter while Devin and Jacob were there. The children were playing together when the men attacked the house. Her mother was taken along with Jacob. The men were looking for Rosie as well, so Peter suggests she remain her for her own safety."
"Oh, you poor dear…" Mary, the ever-diligent mother, went to Rosie and offered her hand. "Don't worry, sweetheart, Vincent will find your mother."
"Rosie, is it all right if Mary looks after you?" Vincent knew he should leave soon but he needed to make sure the girl would be all right.
Looking up Rosie nodded and walked over to take Mary's outstretched hand. Vincent then said his goodbyes to Father and Mary and promised to bring Jacob and Rosie's mother back safely.
When he was about halfway down the tunnel a small voice was calling him. Turning around he saw Rosie running toward him. Vincent knelt to the ground as she drew closer.
"Rosie, what's wrong?"
Rosie threw her arms around Vincent's neck. He returned the embrace then pulled back to look at her. Something in his heart told him the child had something important to say.
"You promise to bring Mommy and Jacob back, but you gotta come back too, OK?"
"I will do whatever it takes to bring them back…"
"No!" Rosie interrupted. "You have ta come back too. You have to." Tears were starting to form in her eyes.
It was one promise Vincent knew he might not be able to keep. However, he knew he had to not just at Rosie's request, but also for Jacob. The boy was going to need to know about Catherine as he got older and everyone knew Vincent was the only one who could do her justice.
He smiled down at the girl in his arms. Strange how she reminded him of Catherine as much as Jacob did. "I promise."
"Good," she said and then did something unexpected: she kissed him on the cheek. "I love you…" and with that Rosie gave him one last hug before stepping out of his arms to return to Mary.
Vincent was frozen to the spot. When he recovered from the surprise, he straightened and went off to meet Tasha and Peter.