Chapter 12: The Truth Sets You Free
Catherine panted as she lowered her gun. Gabriel lie dead a few feet away from her; it was finally over. As she laid back she recalled what happened:
She had exited the elevator and was looking around when she saw the guards exit another elevator. Overhearing one say Gabriel was waiting, Catherine followed them. She followed them to the loading dock and hid behind a large pile of crates. She peeked her head out and saw Gabriel and Pope enter dragging Jacob on a leash.
Her anger burned at the sight of her son being dragged like a dog. Catherine watched as her son was shoved in the backseat of the car. Seeing the guards and Pope, there was no way for her to get even close to Jacob. Her only chance was to stall Gabriel's getaway until Joe's backup could arrive. Looking around, Catherine spotted a landing where she could hide and surprised them. Making sure she was still unseen, Catherine found a stairwell leading up to the landing. When she got up there she was overjoyed to see more crates to hide behind. Then, finding a good spot, she aimed her gun and fired.
The guards starting firing back at the first shots and Catherine managed to hit two of them. But then the others started coming her way. She moved toward the second set of stairs and caught another one in the shoulder. He fell off the stairwell but the other spotted her. Then a loud roar caught everyone's attention.
Catherine paused as she saw Vincent appear from the shadows and take down a guard. He didn't see her and was looked like he was making his way over to where the other guards were surrounding Gabriel. Her heart soared at the sight of him, but then the gunshots brought her back to the situation at hand.
She pulled back and tried to find a better spot. Unfortunately another guard spotted her and open fired. She fell back to doge the fire and took shots where she could. Setting aside her larger rifle, she took out a small handgun and, looking to make sure she had a clear shot, fired and hit the guard in the chest. When he fell Catherine ran to the other side of the landing. She rushed down the stairs and tried to avoid the fighting going on across the room.
To her surprise Pope appeared around the corner and fired. The shot hit her in the upper part of her left leg. The pain caused Catherine to fall back. She looked around and saw a spot behind a few crates. She crawled over and crammed herself between two large crates. She looked down and saw the bullet had passed through her leg, but it was bleeding profusely. She ripped the bottom of her shirt and wrapped the wound to slow the bleeding. That was when Pope found her.
"Well, Ms. Chandler, seems your luck has just run out."
He aimed his gun, ready to fire, when suddenly there was a large explosion and another roar from Vincent. Many guards were running past them in sheer terror. The distraction bought Catherine time to grab her handgun and fire. The bullet his Pope under her right eye and he fell back.
When she felt the coast was clear, Catherine dragged herself out of her hiding place to look around. There were bodies everywhere, some with bullet wounds and others were burnt. There were a couple fires here and there. Quickly Catherine looked at the car she'd seen earlier. It was smoldering in flames, obviously being the source of the explosion. Fear overtook her and she prayed it hadn't blown up with her son inside. Thankfully Catherine spotted Jacob's trembling form hiding behind a large crate several feet away from the car, hands over his head.
Suddenly she heard a cold sneering laugh. Turning toward the sound Catherine gasped at the sight. Gabriel held an Uzi in his hands and was leaning over a pile of broken crates. Underneath that pile was Vincent, blood on the side of his face and eyes barley opened. Catherine knew that if she didn't do something soon Vincent would die. Taking the gun in her hands she aimed, but was too far way for a clear shot. She tried to get to her feet, but the bullet wound was too much and she sank back to the ground. Looking around she saw that the dead guard closest to her had a larger gun. Catherine desperately had to get to it, so she pushed aside her pain, pushed herself up into her good leg, and dived for the gun. When it was in her grasp she aimed and fired. The bullet went through Gabriel's chest, straight through his heart.
Slowly, so not to worsen the pain in her leg, Catherine sat herself up. Despite the pain she managed to scoot herself toward the stairwell and rested herself against it. Meanwhile, after the noise calmed down, Jacob peered out from his hiding spot. Seeing Catherine Jacob crawled out, ran and threw his arms around her neck.
"Mommy!" he cried as he buried his face in her neck.
Catherine eagerly gathered her son in her arms, both crying. She pulled back to help Jacob out of the muzzle and leash.
"Are you alright?" she asked while checking him for injuries.
"Yeth but here hurt" Jacob pointed to his shoulder. Catherine assumed that had been from when Pope shoved him into the car. Then he started looking around. "Where Daddy?"
Catherine remembered after her struggle with Pope seeing a large stack of crates fall. Then she saw a large boot sticking out of a large pile of crates. Her heart leapt into her throat. Mustering her remaining strength Catherine used the stairwell to push herself up. She pried herself up on her good leg and tried to hop toward Vincent. However, the pain was too unbearable and Catherine fell onto her stomach. Carefully she army crawled over to the crates before collapsing at the opposite end from the boot.
Rising up to a sitting position, Catherine clawed the crates one by one. Even Jacob started to help until Catherine told him to stay back because a crate could fall on him. Finally Catherine managed to move one more crate before Vincent's head came into view. He appeared unconscious but Catherine sighed with relief that he was still breathing.
"Mommy?" Jacob asked, a worried look on his face.
"He's okay, sweetie," Catherine assured him.
Catherine then tried to remove the rest of the crates but her strength was beginning to fail. Her leg was bleeding again, causing her to cease trying to get up and return sitting by Vincent's head. Jacob ran to her side then; the poor child was terrified when he saw Catherine's leg.
Gathering her son in her arms, Catherine stared down at her beloved. She could see the years of pain etched into his beautiful face along with the blood, and it broke her heart. Silently she vowed to make up for every second she caused him this pain. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard someone coming. But her fighter instincts passed when she saw the familiar faces of Tasha and a few more she thought she'd never see again: William, Mouse, and some other Tunnel member.
"Vincent's trapped" she said when she saw Tasha look at her about to speak. Tasha turned and directed William and the other man, named Mark, to help her dig him out. Meanwhile Mouse, not one to not help, saw Jacob and rushed to his side.
"Mouth!" the small boy yelled seeing his friend.
"Jacob OK, not hurt?" Mouse asked and then smiled as Jacob nodded his head. Then Mouse noticed Jacob was not alone. Looking at Catherine Mouse's eyes widened in shock. Then his face changed to the classic Mouse smile he was known for.
"Vincent's Catherine come back!" he exclaimed happily.
"It's good to see you to, Mouse." She threw her free arm around him in a side hug. He hugged her back, a tear escaping from his eye. Then he started rambling.
"Thought you dead. Really sad. Went to funeral. But now you back. Knew you never leave Vincent like that."
"Mommy hurt," Jacob piped in.
Mouse then noticed the blood on Catherine's leg and quickly went into action. Removing Jacob from her lap Mouse kneeled beside Catherine so she could get her arm around his neck. Once he was sure she was ready he pulled her up and helped her balance on her good leg.
By this time Tasha and the others had cleared the crates off of Vincent and the men were leaning his unconscious body on each of their shoulders.
"We better book it. Joe said the cops will be here soon," Tasha announced.
"Where is Joe?" Catherine asked.
"He's fine but we gotta go. Although he wants an explanation when the heat dies down a bit."
With that they headed back to the van as quickly as possible. Peter helped the others load Vincent, Catherine and Jacob inside. Mark had been chosen to drive so that Peter could tend to Vincent's wounds. Once everyone was in Peter drove off while Tasha stayed behind to help Joe.
Inside the van Peter instructed Mouse and William to keep Vincent stable. Meanwhile Catherine sat up front with Jacob and Mark. She kept looking back over her shoulder at the still form lying on the floor of the van, praying for him to pull through. Mark pulled out of the alleyway and followed Peter's instructions to where they could safely drop off Vincent.
They arrived at the old warehouse where Peter and Catherine had once delivered antibiotics when the Tunnels had been struck with Plague. Mouse ran to the elevator and went down to call for a stretcher on the pipes. He got an instant reply and it wasn't long before some other men arrived. They carefully placed Vincent on the stretcher and carried him toward the hospital chambers. Then Peter and Mouse assisted Catherine and followed the other men.
Once they were in the Tunnels Catherine's strength finally wore out and she collapsed. Seeing Peter and Mouse struggle Mark turned around and gathered Catherine in his arms. Since he was newer to the Tunnels he didn't recognize her so he didn't ask questions to why this strange woman was here. All he knew was she needed help and fast.
Father was preparing for an emergency operation. He had heard Vincent was injured and probably needed immediate attention. A few minutes later the men brought Vincent in. Father directed them to where he was going to operate and they laid him down. While Father busied himself with Vincent, Mark entered with Catherine and Peter, who instructed him to lay her on the opposite table.
"Peter, I need your assistance," Father spoke as he inserted an IV into Vincent's arm.
"In a minute, Jacob," Peter replied. "Don't forget someone else has been injured. She has been shot in her leg, but the bullet appears to have gone straight through the muscle tissue. As soon as I've taken care of her I'll be right with you."
Father agreed and returned to Vincent. Hours later, Father had finished mending Vincent's wounds and was having some of the men take him back to his chamber. Mary went with them to make sure Vincent was comfortable. Then Father turned his attention to Peter and his patient.
"How is he, old friend?" Peter asked looking up.
"Vincent will pull through, although he may sleep for some time. Poor Jacob will worry about him." Father then turned his attention to Peter's patient. Catherine's face was turned and her hair had fallen over half her face, blocking her from Father's view. "Peter, just who is this young woman anyway?"
"This is Rosie's mother..." Peter started to say.
"Ah yes," Father interrupted. "Vincent mentioned she'd been taken with Jacob. I must thank her for protecting him for us. She hardly even knew the boy."
"Actually, she knows more than you think," Peter nervously said. He knew that Father needed to know the truth, and now, although not the happiest moment as originally planned, seemed like that time. Just as Father was about to ask what his friend meant, Peter leaned over and pushed aside the hair covering Catherine's face.
Needless to say Father's poor heart nearly skipped a beat and he stepped back slightly, just not believing what he was seeing.
"My God, it just can't... It can't be!" Father exclaimed.
"Believe it, Jacob, its Catherine," Peter assured him.
"But Peter... how is this possible? We went to her funeral! And now you’re telling me that after all this time she's been alive?" By now his voice was becoming irritated and he shot Peter a cross look. "Peter, if this is some kind of twisted joke..."
"It's no joke. I was just as surprised when I found out." Peter held up his hands in defense. He knew how tempered his old friend could get.
"How long?" Father asked.
"About four days," Peter explained. "You see I was at the Chandler's cabin to settle some affairs I had overlooked and Catherine was there…"
"Why didn't you say anything?" Father was beyond mad at this point. "And how could she do this?!"
"Jacob, please understand, the poor girl was terrified," Peter tried to explain. "All this time she's been hiding out, fearing Gabriel would find her and discover the Tunnels. She felt she had to run. Do you even realize just how afraid she was to even consider an attempt to come back?"
"But why didn't she at least contact us? Peter we thought she was dead, and all this time she never once thought to let us know she was alive. Have you forgotten what all this has done to Vincent?" His voice betrayed the hurt he felt that Catherine would be uncaring enough to allow Vincent to believe she was dead.
"That's why Catherine stayed away. Jacob, she told me herself that if she had tried to contact anyone Gabriel would not only have found her but the Tunnels AND Vincent. For heaven's sake, Jacob, Gabriel tried to kill her and she barely got away!" Now Peter was starting to get angered.
"After I told her what happened, she almost refused to come back and do you want to know why? Because she believed everyone would hate her for it. She thought Vincent would hate her, not only from running away, but also for putting him through all that pain! It took everything I could to convince her to finally come back. And after seeing how you reacted, I'm beginning to see what she was afraid of."
Father had to sit down from the amount of what Peter was telling him. All this time Catherine had tried to protect them, and yet she was afraid of rejection from her loved ones. Father sat back as the guilt of all he had said washed over him. He was treating Catherine just as he had all those years ago, when he believed her and Vincent's relationship would only bring them unhappiness.
While he sat there Peter explained everything to Father. He had just finished explaining when Jamie entered with Jacob and Rosie.
"Sorry, Father, but Rosie wanted to see her mom. Is she awake?" Jamie asked with an apologetic look on her face.
Peter answered. "I'm afraid not. And I should also mention that Vincent won't be up for visitors either."
"I told you two. Maybe we can come back tomorrow..." Before she could finish Jacob and Rosie squired out of Jamie's hands and ran over to Catherine's bedside.
"Mommy. Wake up." Rosie shouted as she clung to Catherine's bedside.
"Please wake up, Mommy," pleaded Jacob.
Jamie was about to ask why Jacob referred to the woman as 'Mommy' but then she started to stir. Green eyes had trouble focusing for a bit, but then Catherine's vision cleared.
"Mmm... Jacob? Rosie?" Catherine mumbled. She tried sitting up but her elevated leg only allowed her to scoot up so that she was reclining against the headboard. Then she noticed the others in the room. "Peter, wh-what happened?"
"Mommy!" the two children squealed and jumped up and down. Then they tried to climb in next to her but Peter was soon behind them. He placed his hands on their shoulders in an attempt to calm them down.
"Children, your mother is very tired. You can say your hellos but she needs her rest."
"Oh Peter, let them come see me. Please..." Catherine begged.
After noting the pleading tone in her voice, and seeing she truly was all right, Peter allowed the twins to crawl into Catherine's bed and, gently, snuggle up with her. Catherine was just overjoyed to have her children safe in her arms again. In return Jacob and Rosie hugged and kissed Catherine, and tried to tell her all about what they'd been doing while she'd been sleeping.
Meanwhile Jamie and Father were watching in total shock as before their eyes Catherine, a woman they'd thought dead for three years laughing and trying to wrangle children claiming to be hers. Breaking from her frozen position, Jamie timidly approached Catherine.
"Catherine? Is that really you?" she asked hopefully.
Switching her attention from her children, Catherine smiled at the young girl… well she was a young woman now. "Hi Jamie, it's been awhile."
Unable to control herself Jamie launched herself and hugged Catherine, tears streaming down her face. She started going on about how much she'd missed Catherine and asking where she'd been all this time. Cathy did her best to answer, while also apologizing. Finally Father removed himself from his chair and approached the bedside before he spoke.
"Can it really be you, my dear?" shock and awe clear in his voice.
Seeing the tension between the two Peter quietly escorted Jamie out of the room.
"I just... I just still can't believe what I'm seeing."
"Father, please, let me explain..." Catherine tried to say but was cut off when the old man wrapped her in his arms and fiercely hugged her.
"My dear, have you any idea what a joy it is having you back?" Father said as tears coursed down his face.
"You mean, you're not mad?" Catherine asked, completely shocked and overwhelmed.
"Mad? Catherine, you're alive. How could I possibly be upset?" Father pulled back to look at her though there was a small sense of shame in his features. "I admit, when Peter first told me the details I was, but I know now that you only did it to protect us. And to know you're alive and to have you back safely with us... I don't think I felt this happy since Vincent brought Jacob to us."
Catherine was so overjoyed to hear these words she threw her arms around Father, until two little interruptions.
"Mommy?" Rosie asked from where she and Jacob were sitting on the other side of the bed.
"Yes Rosebud," Catherine said pulling back from Father.
"This Fadder from stories?" she asked.
"Catherine, you have a daughter?" Father asked, cutting Catherine off.
"Yes," Catherine answered. "Actually that's something else I should tell you. Peter told me you all thought Gabriel was Jacob's father. That and my death was a lie created by Gabriel, and I'm so sorry for that."
"But Catherine, then who? My dear, did they...?" Just like Peter, Father shuddered at the thought of someone violating Catherine.
"Father, I was pregnant when they took me," she explained. "You see Jacob and Rosie–” She gestured to the children “–are twins. And there's one more thing. Father, they are your grandchildren."
Father was grateful for the chair behind him because this news was just too much. He fell back into the seat and just stared at the little family before him. Then looking closely at the children on Catherine's bed, he could have kicked himself for not seeing the resemblance. The golden hair and blue eyes, let alone that they were Catherine's children should have told him. Tears started to form in his eyes.
After an awkward silent pause Catherine continued. "I actually didn't know I was having twins at the time. I still can't understand how they both didn't show up on the ultra sound screen. The doctor told me I was having a boy, but after Jacob was born and taken from me, he told me I was having another child. If Rosie hadn't been born, I'm not sure I would've liv... e-escaped." Catherine didn't have the heart to tell anyone that truth just yet.
Looking back at Catherine, Father's smile got bigger and tears formed in his eyes.
"Well, I must say this has been quite a day. First we have our Catherine returned to us, and now I discover I've been helping raise my grandson for these past years, only to learn I have a granddaughter as well? My only regret is your homecoming couldn't be under better circumstances. And with Vincent laid up…"
"Oh Father, where's Vincent? Is he all right?" Catherine's mind flashed back to his unconscious form buried under the crates. He had also suffered multiple gunshot wounds and then there was the car explosion. There was no telling what kind of damage had been done to his body.
"Catherine, Vincent is fine," Father assured her. "He had many wounds but he will be just fine. Though he may remain unconscious for some time. Perhaps by tomorrow he'll be awake and you may see him."
"I don't know..." Catherine said hesitantly.
"My dear, what's the matter? I thought you'd be overjoyed to see him again?" Father asked.
"Believe me, Father, I've dreamed of nothing else for three and a half years. But... I… I-I don't know if I can."
"So Peter wasn't lying. Catherine, what makes you think any of us would hate you? Though I've been slow to admit it, you are a part of this community, a part of our family. It has taken me a long time to see that and I do apologize for my stubbornness. But I want you to know one thing: we all love you, and none more than Vincent. My son hasn't been the same and I believe that if not for Jacob Vincent wouldn't have survived Gabriel's cruel deception."
Catherine felt overjoyed with Father's words and tears of joy traveled down her eyes. Father got up from his chair and, with tears of his own, hugged her in a proper welcome home. The next couple of minutes were spent with Father getting to properly know his grandchildren. Though the reunion was short lived. Apparently, word had been spread on the pipes and soon the hospital chamber had been filled with Tunnel people tearfully welcoming Catherine home and doting on the twins.
Mary was one of the more tearful ones and insisted Catherine be moved into a guest chamber immediately. Catherine tried to protest but no one would have it. Even Father and Peter agreed it was a good idea, so she was moved to the one closest to Vincent. William brought her a dinner tray and, after she ate, Catherine spent the next few hours visiting until Father insisted she needed rest and everyone could come visit tomorrow.
The last people in the room were Father, Mary, and the twins. Mary was trying to convince the twins to come to the nursery, but they didn't want to leave Catherine. Father suggested they stay tonight since Jacob had been known to sneak out of bed on occasion, so it was pointless to remove him. Father couldn't help but chuckle at now knowing Jacob's stealth came from Vincent.
"Now this is just for tonight," Father sternly told the twins. "Your mother needs her rest so I don't want you two keeping her up all night. And no horsing around either."
"We promise," they said in unison.
Father and Mary chuckled and, after one more goodnight, left mother and children to sleep.
Late that night, around 11:15, Catherine slipped out of bed to use the facilities. Luckily she was able to maneuver Rosie over to Jacob's side of the bed without disturbing her daughter's sleep, and slipped out of bed. Using the crutches Father left her made the trip slightly awkward, but she managed. On her way back Catherine became easily tired and knew she needed to rest. As it happened she was just outside Vincent's chamber when a thought popped into her head.
She shook her head. No, no… I can't just go in there, she thought. But if I don't rest soon I'll collapse. Then again... Father said Vincent would sleep for a long time. Besides if I'm caught out here Father will insist on an escort wherever I go.
Making up her mind Catherine slipped inside. She didn't take much time in looking around because she really did need a rest. She sat down in the chair in between the writing table and the bed, letting out a sigh of relief. Then she looked around at the familiar room. Despite how she knew every corner of this chamber, Catherine could easily spot all the differences. Children's toys were everywhere on the shelves. Then she saw Kristopher's painting was gone.
It must have been too painful for him to keep, she thought sadly.
Then her eyes fell on the stain glass window and then to the sleeping form below it. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked at him. Vincent looked so peaceful and her heart melted at the sight of him. He looked very much the same; only Catherine could see how her absence affected him. His face was lined with sadness and longing, and he seemed a little thinner. Then her eyes caught some of his injuries. The blanket only covered Vincent from his waist down, allowing Catherine a view of his torso. Although he wore a nightshirt Catherine could make out the gauze wrapped around his waist. Even so, the sight of Vincent was enough to make Catherine's heart feel whole again. She gazed at him until she actually fell asleep.
About fifteen minutes later Vincent started to stir. He wanted to escape his dreams of guns, explosions, Jacob in peril, and the sound of Catherine crying out his name. Finally he managed to force himself to wake up. At first he was startled to find himself back in his own chamber, but then the pains he felt all over his body reminded him what has progressed earlier.
Wait! What happened to Jacob!? He panicked.
Vincent knew he'd been trapped by that avalanche and lost consciousness. But what happened to Jacob? Then he remembered. Just before he blacked out someone had fired a shot at Gabriel. Was it Tasha? Joe? Had they gotten Jacob to safety? He had to know. He tried to get up but a sharp pain in his left side prevented him.
His grunt woke Catherine and she saw him trying to rise from the bed. "Vincent stop!"
Vincent froze. That voice. It just couldn't be. Slowly he raised his head only to lock blue eyes with green. He could hardly breathe and for a moment he believed he was still in a dream.
"C-Catherine?" he asked cautiously.
"I'm here. Please, lie still." By now she was sitting up in the chair with her hand held out to him.
"No I-I m-must find Jac... Aaah!" He tried to get up again but the move pulled at his stitches.
"Vincent, please, listen to me. Jacob is fine, but you need to lie still. You've been through a lot and if you keep moving you'll open your wounds again." Her voice was laced with worry. She knew Vincent had lost a lot of blood and if he opened his wounds again it would put him in jeopardy.
At her concerned tone Vincent relaxed and laid back against the headboard. He just looked at her. She was truly an angel now: white gown and her hair looked longer. But her eyes seem to sparkle just as they did when... No he didn't want to think about it now. It some means of fate allowed him this one chance to be with her again, he wasn't going to waste one second. She was here now and she truly was beautiful.
"Y-You know about..." Vincent asked.
"Yes, I know" she smiled, "he's beautiful Vincent. You've done such a wonderful job with him."
Vincent's face darkened and he turned his gaze away from her. "How can you say such a thing after what happened. I almost lost him to the man responsible for taking him in the first place."
"Vincent, don't do this to yourself. It's not your fault," Catherine tried to reassure him.
"But Catherine it is!" he all but shouted. "I couldn't protect him. I almost failed him… just like I failed you."
Catherine hated it when he got like this. Usually this would be where Vincent would tell her to leave him. When it didn't come Catherine carefully rose from her chair to sit on the edge of his bed. Lucky for her the chair was close enough to the bed for her to only have to hop once. She sat down and tried to put her hand on his shoulder. However, Vincent moved away from her touch, still refusing to look at her.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come. I'll go now." She made to get up to leave.
"No please," he panicked, looking back at her and raised himself up a bit. "I'm sorry. Please, stay Catherine. I have missed you."
She started to settle back. "I've missed you too. Are you feeling all right? Do you need anything?"
Vincent shook his head and just smiled at her. "It feels like a dream... having you here again."
"You're not dreaming, I'm here." Oh how she wanted to take him in her arms but worried about his injuries. Father mentioned he'd pulled some shrapnel out of Vincent's back and there was that bullet to his arm and left side. She instead smiled warmly at him.
Vincent kept starring at her. It felt so real having her sit here beside him. He remembered when Catherine told him of when her father's ghost visited her after the funeral while she stayed in the guest chamber. Fate must have been granting him the same privilege. But why must it torture him so? He wanted to enfold her in his arms, but stopped. He couldn't bear to crave her soothing touch, only to have his hand pass through her or wake and be reminded that it could never be again.
At this point someone needed to break the silence, and now seemed the time to tell Vincent the truth.
"Vincent, t-there's something I… I-I need to tell you. It's about Jacob."
"Catherine, please, I already know..." he couldn't bear to say it in words as the guilt only doubled to his failure to protect her.
"No you don't." Taking a deep breath Catherine asked, "Vincent, do you know why Gabriel kidnapped me in the first place?"
He shook his head so she continued. "Before I was taken, Joe unknowingly gave me a book that held everything on Gabriel that could put him and his men in jail. They would have killed me that night, but then you came to rescue me. Vincent, the whole place had security cameras everywhere. They showed me the tapes of you fighting the guards. After that Gabriel forgot about the book because he wanted something else from me."
"A child..." Vincent added.
"But not just any child." Catherine had to pause. This was it; she was finally going to tell him. Gathering her strength she looked Vincent right in the eye. "He wanted your child."
Vincent just stared at her as if she had grown a second head. He just couldn't comprehend what she was saying. So Catherine continued. "The night Joe gave me the book, I had donated blood for Joe. Later a nurse came up to me and scolded me for it because… because I was... p-pregnant."
Now Vincent was really confused. None of what Catherine was saying to him was making any sense. First she tells him Gabriel wants his child, and now she was saying she was pregnant before she was taken. But that would mean… Had Catherine been seeing another man, or had someone… Vincent shook his head. He would not allow himself to think those thoughts. Catherine was still speaking to him.
Catherine could see the dots weren't connecting and knew she needed to just bite the bullet and be blunt. "Vincent, Jacob is our son; you are his father."
Vincent just... well his jaw dropped and his eyes widened. It just wasn't possible. Catherine and he... they had never been… well intimate. When they had been together Vincent had never allowed more than an embrace in greeting, or one offering comfort. He had never even kissed Catherine. Well that wasn't entirely true. When Catherine had cut herself on a thorny rosebush, he had kissed her injured hand. Then there was that one chaste kiss Catherine had instigated as a thank you for helping her find closure after her father's death. There was just no way that Jacob could be his son.
Finally Vincent found his voice. "Catherine... It's just not possible. How could Jacob be my son?"
"Vincent, haven't you wondered why Jacob never resembled Gabriel in any way? He has your hair, your eyes." Catherine could see this wasn't working so she just had to let it out. "The reason you don't believe it is because you don't remember. It happened that night in the cavern, during your illness. I almost lost you and I didn't know what else to do; I couldn't live without you. And then you responded to my kiss…" she had to pause as the tears started to form. "Vincent, we loved. I wanted to tell you, but with the gaps in your memories, and the loss of our Bond… I worried you might have a relapse."
Vincent just didn't know what to say. He fell back against the headboard and stared at the ceiling. I have a son? I have a son! Kept repeating in his head. He just didn't think it was possible and yet... His mind quickly flashed back to the last day they had been together. She had wanted to tell him something, but he'd been to upset about their Bond. One thing she told him was that their Bond might return in another form, as something he had never even dreamed of.
Looking back on all of it, he finally realized the gist of what she was saying now. He had a son; THEIR son. It all made sense: the Bond with the child, everything. Tears started in the corners of his eyes but refused to fall.
"O-Oh Catherine, I..I..." he couldn't find the words.
"It's alright, Vincent, I understand. I just wish I had told you sooner."
"But... a c-child! I... I-I just don't know what to say. I've always felt a-a connection with Jacob, but I assumed it was because of you. Now I understand."
"So you're not angry?" Catherine asked.
"How could I when I feel such joy. Catherine never in my life did I think it possible to have a child of my own."
"Not just a child Vincent. You see, there was something else you don't know; I didn't even know until the night Jacob was born. Jacob wasn't the only child: he's a twin."
"What?" It wasn't possible for his eyes to get any bigger, but this information brought them pretty close.
"There's another child; a daughter."
"A d-daughter? But how?" Vincent was a little more than puzzled by this. "When I was held at Gabriel's Jacob was the only child there."
"That's because she's been with me,” Catherine confessed. "Oh Vincent, she's wonderful. Her name is Rosemary. I tell her stories of you and everyone in the Tunnels. She even picked up Mouse's little 'Ok good. Ok fine,'" she laughed.
Vincent just continued to stare in wonder. But his heart felt heavy with sadness. He had a daughter that he would never know because she died with her mother. He figured Gabriel must have dispose of the child's body separately from Catherine's. Perhaps she had been alive, gotten sick along with Jacob. Only Jacob must have been stronger. What did make him happy was that at least the child was with Catherine.
"She sounds wonderful," Vincent sighed.
"She loves hearing stories about you. And she reminds me so much of you." Her face fell and her eyes refused to meet his. "I'm so sorry Vincent. Not a day has gone by that I haven't regretted not telling you, or at least finding some way to let you know..."
"Catherine please look at me." She raised her head a little and forced herself to look. His eyes held nothing but eternal love for her and complete understanding. "I understand why you didn't tell me then. At the time, I was so consumed in my pity and myself. I couldn't have possibly handled that kind of knowledge. And if there is anyone to blame, that guilt can only fall on my own shoulders. I let myself be blinded to your needs and now I must suffer for it. It is my burden and I will carry it for the rest of my life."
"Vincent, I..." she sighed. It was just too much. This was a lot to tell him in one night, and it was already getting very late. And besides, she knew that she needed to get back to her chamber. Not only would Father be furious for her wandering around without an escort, but if the twins woke up they'd come her and she couldn't have them jumping all over Vincent with his injuries. As much as she wanted to stay, they both needed their rest.
"Vincent, it’s late, and I've stayed too long. I need to go," she said sadly.
Vincent felt his heart break. He didn't want her to go, but the pain in his side kept him pinned in his bed. Besides, she said she had overstayed. Maybe there must be a limit to how long she could stay.
"I can see that you do. I only wish..." He sighed. "... Be well, Catherine." He closed his eyes. He just couldn't bear to see her leave him again.
"And you… Sleep well, Vincent." Catherine resisted the urge to lean forward and kiss him; just a little peck on the cheek or to the forehead. But then she figured that it probably wasn't the best idea. After all, this was a lot for him to take in one night. Instead she smiled at him until he closed his eyes and relaxed back into the pillows. Then she carefully rose from his bed back to the chair. Retrieving her crutches, Catherine hobbled over to the entryway.
The sound of a limp made Vincent think Father was coming to see him. But as he listened closer, not only was the sound different, but also it was moving away from his chamber. He opened his eyes and looked toward the entryway. There he saw Catherine, only now he could see the full length of her. She was leaning on crutches and her left leg was wrapped in a cast. And the gown she wore wasn't a white, but an off-white patchwork dress worn by the Tunnel women.
"Ca-Catherine?" he asked, almost in fear.
Turning around she faced him. "Yes, did you need something?" She couldn't help but note the look on his face. He had a look of confusion, while his eyes appeared fearful with a small glint of hope.
Vincent just couldn't speak. Before he thought Catherine's spirit was speaking to him, but why on earth would she have a cast? The answer: she wouldn't. The report had been that Catherine had been drugged and thrown in the Hudson River, so why would she be hobbling around on crutches with a broken leg? Unless…
"Y-Your l-leg..." he pointed to it.
"Oh, don't worry," Catherine casually answered. "Pope shot me during the struggle. Father says I'll be all right in a few weeks but until then I... Vincent, what are you doing!?"
When she mentioned Pope, Vincent had gotten out of bed and was trying to make his way toward Catherine. However, the stitches had pulled from the strain, and he grabbed his side at the pain. Vincent almost fell to the floor, but struggled to stay on his feet, steadying himself with his free hand on the bed.
Seeing his distress, Cather dropped her crutches and ran to his side immediately. She ignored the pain in her leg and reached out to him. She ran right into him and, leaning her hands on his chest, helped support him upright.
"What are you thinking? If you move like that you'll open your wounds again..." Her words were interrupted.
Vincent's hands gripped her shoulders and gently squeezed them. Solid. His left hand then drifted to the base of her neck and, to his surprise, his fingertips encountered a pulse. Catherine was real, alive, and standing right before him. He just couldn't believe it. He released a breath he realized he'd been holding, and instantly his arms wrapped around her small frame and pulled her close to him.
"You're alive?" It was more of a statement than a question and came out a choked sob. Vincent just couldn't hold back the flood of emotion that he'd stored up over the past three years. Sobs were torn from his throat as the tears streamed down his face. He nuzzled his face into her hair and whispered her name over and over again.
When his arms came around her Catherine had stopped breathing. Vincent had thought she was dead, even though she was standing before him. She had imagined what their first meeting would be like after all these years, but nothing had prepared her for this.
It had been so long since she'd felt his solid strength surrounding her, and she couldn't even return the embrace because her hands were trapped between their chests. Catherine went limp in his arms as her hands clutched to his nightshirt. She buried her face in his chest as the tears flowed down her cheeks.
They stood there holding each other for a long time. Vincent repeating her name, one hand on her back while the other cradled the back of her head. Catherine muffled apologizes against him.