Chapter 13: Hearts Made Whole
Jacob stirred in his sleep. He was having a dream and turned over to snuggle against his mother. Instead his hand only met the bed sheets. Opening his eyes he looked over and saw the empty space. He started to wonder if it had all been a dream: meeting Rosie, finding his mother, everything. Then he saw Rosie curled up on the other side of the bed. Jacob was happy but then he wondered where his mother was. He sat up and crawled to the other side of the bed.
"Rosie," he whispered. She wouldn't move so he started shaking her shoulder. Rosie moaned and batted at his hand. "Rosie, wake up. Mommy gone."
Slowly she stirred and sat up. Rubbing her eyes she turned to her brother. "Jacob?" When she rubbed the sleep from her she looked around. "Where Mommy?"
"I don't know. Come on, we go get her."
Jacob crawled over to the side of the bed and then slid off. Then Rosie copied her brother and joined him on the floor. Taking hold of her hand, Jacob led Rosie out into the Tunnels. Then walked a little ways before Rosie tugged on his hand.
"Where we goin?" she asked quietly.
Jacob stopped walking. He hadn't thought about that. "I don't know. Where would Mommy go?"
"Maybe she go see Daddy..." Rosie suggested.
"Yeah, let go see. If Mommy not there, we ask Daddy to find her," Jacob added.
"OK good. OK fine." She smiled as Jacob led her off toward Vincent's chamber.
The chamber was quiet. The only light came from a few candles by the bed and from behind the stain glass window. Vincent lay reclined on his bed, his eyes focusing on the sleeping form beside him. Catherine was lying with her arm across his chest and her head snuggled under his neck. Her injured leg was propped up on his own to keep it elevated. It all still seemed like a dream.
An hour ago Catherine had appeared in his chamber, and she was alive. He had been surprised and almost didn't know what else to do then to gather her in his arms. They'd held each other and cried together. Eventually Vincent had to let Catherine sit back in the chair because of her leg, but kept a hold of her hand, fearing to lose even the slightest amount of contact. As soon as she sat down, everything was said: her time as Gabriel's prisoner, her escape the night Jacob was taken, and her life in Connecticut. When she'd finished she was in tears, apologizing for everything and just hoping he could someday forgive her.
Vincent had listened the entire time and never spoke once. He had been horrified (not to mention enraged) at what Catherine had suffered at Gabriel's hands, but his anger subsided when he saw the sorrow Catherine was in. When she started to apologize for leaving him and never contacting him, Vincent's heart broke. She was so sad and afraid that he hated her. She had even convinced herself that once he heard what she had done, he would turn her away.
Instead Vincent surprised her by pulling her up from the chair, and sitting them both back down on the bed with Catherine as close to him as possible. He held her and told her there was nothing to be forgiven: she was here and they were together again. He couldn't even describe his joy for whatever Fates had allowed such a miracle.
This only brought more tears to Catherine's eyes and she cried into his shoulder. Vincent just held her and whispered comforting words until she fell asleep in his arms. Then he maneuvered them so that he and Catherine could both lie in his bed comfortably, but still be as close as possible. He watched her as she slept, curling herself closer to him in her sleep. Vincent had managed to free his arm and wrap it protectively around her waist, bringing her even closer.
Now Catherine began to stir, her eyelids fluttering. Vincent leaned over and placed a light kiss to her forehead. His smile grew as she opened her eyes.
"Vincent? Have you been awake all this time?" she asked, trying to suppress a yawn.
"I feared it had been a dream," he said as his other hand gently stroked her hair. "That once I closed my eyes, I would awaken and find that you were still lost to me."
"No, it wasn't a dream. Oh Vincent, I promise...you'll never lose me again." As if to confirm her answer she nuzzled her face into his neck.
Oh how he wanted nothing more than that. After all they had been through, all the pain they endured, Vincent wanted his Catherine with him, by his side, always. Yet there was still the matter of her life Above. She had friends Above and now her old boss, Joe Maxwell, knew of her existence. Surely they would want, and deserved, to know the truth?
"But Catherine..." Vincent tried weakly. "Gabriel is gone. You could have your life back and live Above again. You could see all your friends and live your life. I'm sure Joe would gladly give you your job back if you wanted."
"No Vincent, that's not my life anymore." she had thought about this before and spoke with no hesitation in her voice. "Even if Joe did offer me my old job I wouldn't take it. Vincent, how would I even explain everything? I couldn't say anything without revealing the Tunnels… and you. I almost lost Jacob once, not to mention you. I could never put anyone in that danger again. I know I said this before, but this time I mean it: I don't want to go back."
Now that he thought about it, it would raise many questions about her sudden appearance after being presumed dead for so long. There would be too many questions. But there was still a chance for her to remain Above.
"Catherine... What about your life in Connecticut?" Vincent asked.
"I quit my job, but Katie said if things didn't work out here I could always come back." Catherine's face fell and her eyes dropped from his gaze. Does he really want me to leave? She thought, I thought we were passed all this… I guess I was wrong.
"Vincent, if you want me to leave I understand. All you have to do is say so..."
Vincent could hardly breathe. She felt like she couldn't belong to the world Above anymore. But when he really thought about it, he general didn't want her to leave either. In the past his heart and mind would battle for what was right for Catherine, and most of the time his decision ended up hurting them both. Now for once his thoughts and feelings were one: Catherine belonged here, by his side. It was time to stop running and go forward.
Vincent struggled to sit up then. Catherine tried to coax him to lie back down, but he gently brushed her off. Once he was comfortable, and the pain subsided, he turned back to Catherine. She was propping herself up on her elbow, looking at him with concern. After helping her sit up, he took her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes.
"Catherine, I understand why you feel that way. In the past, I pushed you away whenever we got close. I thought it was best because I believed you would be happier in your world. For it is a world where the wealthy and the powerful rule: a world apart from mine. You could have married a normal man, who could provide you everything you deserve. I never thought it would be possible for me... until you came into my life. But then I doubted myself. I saw it as a wonderful dream that I would soon awaken from. Your beauty, your warmth, and your courage... It was more than I deserved and I believed myself unworthy of your love."
He could see she wanted to interject but Vincent held up his hand do she would not interrupt him.
"As much as I loved you, I couldn't subject you to bind yourself to me. But then you kept encouraging me to move forward and accept what we had. When my illness stripped my of our Bond and my memories of you, I saw it as a sign that Fate wanted us to part. Then I lost you, and believed I could never have you in my arms again. The pain was crushing me. It was then I saw how foolish I'd been and wanted nothing more than to be with you."
Catherine could see Vincent was choking up with emotion from that time. She slipped one of her hands out of his grasp and brushed away his tears with her thumb. He leaned into her touch and placed one of his hands over hers.
"But then you found out about Jacob," she said.
"He was my second chance, even though I thought he was another man's child. I knew if there was any chance to make up what I had done to you, it would be to love your child and raise him as my own. I wanted him to know you, even though your memories were painful for me." He paused to collect himself. "Catherine, Fate has given us another chance and I will not repeat my past mistakes."
He took her hand from his face, enfolding both of her hands in his, and looked into her eyes with all the love he felt for her pouring out from every part of his being. "Catherine, if you will have me, I want you to stay. Not just in the city, not just in the Tunnels. Not even in the guest chambers. I want you here, with me; by my side, always."
Catherine felt her heart stop and her eyes were wide and teary. She wanted to just melt and cry all at once. Vincent never asked for anything he wanted before. Even when she had wanted to take him up to her cabin, he let others talk him out of it. Now he was here, asking her to stay with him. The words got stuck in her throat while the tears spilled from her eyes.
Catherine's hesitation worried Vincent. He assumed it meant that Catherine didn't want to stay. But he was determined not to lose her again. He pulled her to him and enfolded her in his arms. His cheek rested on the side of her head and he whispered loving words into her ear.
"Please Catherine, I cannot...will not live without you anymore. I will spend every moment of our lives proving my love to you. Please... I cannot go on without you in my arms; without your arms around me; without your laughter, your smile. I want you always in my life. Please... I love you."
That did her in. Never once had Vincent said that to her so directly. There had been one time during his illness, when Vincent was in her apartment, he mentioned he loved her. But never had he said it like this. In those three little words were all the power she needed to never leave his side. Her arms were around him and she buried her face next to his heart.
"Oh Vincent, I love you too. I always have. Yes! I'll stay. And you'll never lose me again, I promise. Oh Vincent, I love you!"
Vincent felt as if his heart was beating for the first time. Her love for him was like a small flame that had been relit and now burned with an intensity to shame the brightest star. She was going to stay. He held her tighter as she pressed closer to him. Then before he could think about what he was doing, or stop himself, Vincent pulled back just a little. He took Catherine's face in his hands, turned her toward him, and pressed his lips to her mouth.
Catherine was completely caught off guard. Her eyes widen in shock, but then she relaxed and all but melted into the kiss. It was almost a dream; Vincent kissing her like this. It had always been her and only twice: one chaste, thank you kiss and another to save his life. Her arms moved from his waist and intertwined around his neck, and she angled her head to deepen the kiss.
Vincent felt in utter bliss. Catherine's kiss was so soft and gentle, while also being passionate and filled with longing. A small part of him kicked himself for never having done this before, while the rest of his mind was saying to forget the past and enjoy the moment. Catherine was here, in his arms, and he was kissing her with all of his love.
This went on for who knows how long, but they didn't care. And it would have gone on longer if the two lovers hadn't heard a small sound from the entryway.
Pulling back Vincent and Catherine looked up and saw two small pairs of eyes looking at them. Vincent instantly, although regrettably, released his hold on Catherine and sat back. Catherine just smiled and shook her head, while Vincent stared in wonder.
"And what are you two doing out of bed?" Catherine tried to be stern, but a smile was creeping over her face.
Jacob stepped forward while Rosie stayed in her spot. "Woke up and you gone, Mommy."
"I see." Her smile grew. She noticed Vincent stiffen next to her. She turned and saw the shock in his eyes. She placed her hand over his and gently squeezed. "Vincent, would you like to meet your children?"
He couldn't speak and nodded his head instead. Catherine smiled more and called their children over. "Well, are you going to stand there, or come over here?"
Both children smiled and bounded over to the side of the bed. Vincent just continued to stare at them while Catherine coaxed the children to carefully join their parents in the bed.
Jacob helped Rosie climb up the side of the large bed, and then she helped pull her brother up. They sat on the edge so not to sit on Catherine's leg. They smiled up at Vincent with big eyes. Both were just brimming with excitement.
"Vincent, meet your son, Jacob, and your daughter, Rosie."
"Does dis mean we a family now?" Jacob asked, a tiny lisp forming from his missing tooth.
"And we stay with Daddy and Jacob?" Rosie added.
"That's right," Catherine answered.
"Yeah!" they shouted in unison. Before either one could stop them, Jacob and Rosie launched themselves at Vincent; Rosie on his left and Jacob on his right between him and Catherine. The force knocked him back a bit and Catherine worried about his injuries. Luckily Vincent caught them without causing much pain. Instead he slowly put his arms around the children.
Looking down Vincent never felt more proud in his entire life. When Catherine came into his life he had dreamed of a life that could never be, but never had he allowed himself to think of children. Once he had told Catherine about children waiting to be born yet he assumed they would be with a man from Above. Of course a small part of him wished for those children to be his own. Now here they were before his eyes.
Catherine smiled and leaned over and kissed Vincent's bristled cheek. Then she recalled that it was well past midnight. Her smile grew and she couldn't stop the small giggle in her throat.
"What is it Catherine?" Vincent pulled back from Jacob and Rosie. He was curious as to what could possibly be so funny as to make her laugh. Not that he didn't enjoy hearing her whimsical laugh (something her never thought he'd hear ever again), but it still puzzled him.
"I was just thinking," she smiled, "its past twelve o'clock, isn't it?"
"Yes, we'll past then," checking his internal clock, he knew it was pretty early. "The children really should be in bed..."
"No Vincent." She chuckled. "I was referring that today is January 12th." She leaned in closure and whispered in his ear. "Happy birthday."
"Happy birfday, Daddy!"
"Happy birth day!"
Vincent of course was stunned speechless. He had completely forgotten about today. But now that it had been brought up, he couldn't have asked for a better surprise. Not only did he have the love of a beautiful, wonderful woman, but she had also given him two equally beautiful children. He had a family all his own. His eyes became watery and he had to shut them, while a smile grew on his face.
"I never thought I could be so blessed," Vincent said then, opening his tear filled eyes, turned to Catherine. "Such a gift... I never would have thought possible. A family... m-my family."
Oh how wonderful those words felt on his lips. The joy in his heart burst. Before he knew what he was doing, Vincent enfolded his family into his arms.
Catherine, caught by surprise, eagerly wrapped one arm around Vincent's back while the other found its way around her children. Tears coursed down her own face as she held her children and the man she loved with all her heart.
Jacob and Rosie were excited and laughed in their parents' arms. Their laughter was infectious and soon Catherine and Vincent were joining in, tears of joy escaping from their eyes.
Another chuckle was heard from the entryway. The small family paused and looked up to see Father in the entrance. He smiled down at the sight before his eyes.
"Father, what are you doing up so early?" Vincent asked, his arms still around Catherine and the children.
"I was checking on my patients," Father stepped into the chamber, "and was just about to make my way toward Catherine's chamber when I hear a message on the pipes. Apparently one of the sentries spotted Jacob and Rosemary wandering the Tunnels. I could only assume they were headed here."
Even though Father's tone hinted no anger toward them, Jacob and Rosie still buried themselves against their parents.
Father chuckled. "It's alright children, I'm not angry. However," his eyes shifted to Catherine, "But I would prefer you not running about with that leg Catherine. You're not even supposed to be on your feet for at least three days. Unless you want any more damage done, you would do better to remain in bed."
Catherine nodded. She knew he was right and that it would be pointless to argue.
"Now, I suggest you get back to your bed so that we can properly elevate that leg my dear," Father continued, "I'll send for someone to assist you to the guest chamber. Once you get settled in I'll be stopping by to examine you."
"Father, isn't there a way Catherine can remain here?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"No Vincent, both you and Catherine need proper rest if you want your injuries to heal. I'm afraid Catherine will need a separate room for now. And before you ask, I am not putting either of you on a cot, so you will just have to be patient."
Both Catherine and Vincent sighed. They knew Father was right that they needed time to heal. Besides once their injuries were completely healed, they could spend plenty of time together. It still did not make it any easier.
"Now then," Father rose to get up, "I'll see to getting someone to assist Catherine."
"Thank you, Father," Catherine called out as he exited the chamber. They could hear him tapping out a message in the passageway before he left. Then she turned back to her family. "Well, looks like I won't be staying much longer. Vincent, will you be alright?"
Try as he might Vincent couldn't keep the small disappointment from his eyes, and his voice. "As much as I wish to comply with Father's assessment, I do not want to be separated from you."
"Vincent, I'm just down the hall. Besides, I'll only be in bed for a few more days, and then I'll be up and about. And you're a faster healer than I am. You'll see me soon enough." She smiled, hoping that her encouragement was enough.
"I know, but there is one thing, Catherine."
"What is it?"
"I…" Vincent was cut off as two sentries, Daniel and James, entered the chamber with a stretcher. They carefully lifted her onto the stretcher and proceeded to carry her back to her guest chamber.
"I guess I'll see you later, Vincent," she called and then was gone from view.
Vincent never took his eyes off the spot and leaned back into the headboard. He still wished to speak with Catherine but it would have to wait. Meanwhile, he could use this time to think about some upcoming changes that would need to be made right away. The first would be to make his chamber more private, and not a high way for everyone to barge into. His thought process was interrupted when he noticed Jacob and Rosie were still sitting on the bed with him.
"I thought you had gone with your mother."
"We wanna stay wif you," Jacob said, "and Fadder say no play wif Mommy cause she hurt."
"Please Daddy?" Rosie looked up with the saddest puppy-dog eyes, and a little pout on her lip. She had mastered this little face whenever she wanted Catherine to read the 'one more story' before bedtime.
Vincent was no match for the toddler's little maneuver. Instantly he agreed to let them stay until Mary came to collect them for breakfast. While they waited Vincent had his children pick out a story he could read to them. He was just finished The Velveteen Rabbit when Mary arrived. She set down a tray for Vincent then escorted the children to the dining hall for breakfast.
"Here Vincent, open this one next," Eric handed Vincent another present.
"Why thank you." he carefully unwrapped the small gift to reveal a hand knit scarf. It was one of the last of many gifts he had received in the last hour. Everyone had been dropping by his chamber to wish Vincent a happy birthday and give him his or her gifts. But what made the occasion even more special were the congratulations on Catherine's return, and about Vincent being a father. Word spreads quickly on the pipes.
Vincent placed the gifts with the others, said his thanks, and then watched as the last group exited his chamber. Father stood by his bedside and gathered the gifts onto the table. He was just about to leave when…
"All right, where the hell are you hiding him?" A familiar head of fiery red hair entered the chamber. "Hey, there he is! How you feeling, Puss? Don't take this the wrong way, but damn! You look like something the cat dragged in."
"Tasha, is that really necessary?" Peter asked as he followed her into the chamber.
"Like my pal Dory says, 'When angry count to ten, when very angry swear.' Unfortunately, I got a tendency to let some slip now and then. Hey, I'm only human." She laughed then stepped up to Father. "So you must be Puss and Scar Face's old man. Nice to meet you. The name's Tasha."
Father shook her hand, though Vincent noted the scowl toward Tasha's behavior. "Yes, it's a…pleasure to meet you. I also must give you my thanks, Miss Tasha. You not only helped save my grandson, but I understand you and you relatives have been looking out for Catherine and Rosemary as well."
"Ah, you don't have to do that. Cathy and Ro are like family, and now that she's got her men back, it just got bigger. Anyway, I know the big guy here needs his beauty rest, so I just wanted to drop these off." Tasha placed a few small wrapped packages on Vincent's lap. "Just some gifts from Cathy and the kids. So you open those, and I'm gonna pop over and see the little momma."
Tasha walked out of the chamber, leaving the three men. Father took the liberty to "discuss" Tasha's behavior with Peter quite vehemently. Meanwhile Vincent began opening the gifts. The two smaller ones were from Jacob and Rosie. Rosie had made a small beaded bracelet with multicolored wooden beads, while Jacob had created a plastic beaded necklace. He smiled and then turned his attention to the larger gift.
Carefully removing the paper, Vincent gasped when his gift from Catherine was revealed. It was a silver picture frame with intertwined roses engraved on the left side. Inside the frame was a picture of Catherine smiling while reclining in the grass. Jacob was sitting in front of her, while Rosie sat on top of her. Both children were laughing. The scene melted Vincent's heart as he traced the picture with one clawed finger. The he noticed an inscription on the right side of the frame. It read: What we have is all that matters. It's worth everything.
Vincent could not find the words. In his mind's eye he saw himself and Catherine on the night she said those very words to him. Now he could fully appreciate them as he looked down at the picture of his family.
Peter and Father paused in their discussion when they heard a deep sigh from Vincent. Both older physicians smiled at the sight of pure euphoria on the younger man's face as he looked down at the picture in his hands. Then, after a quick glance at each other, Father walked over to his son's bedside.
"Quite a lovely portrait," Father observed. "Would you like Peter or myself to deliver your thanks to Catherine for you?"
"No Father. I wish to thank her in person." Vincent placed the treasured gift on the top of his bookshelf under the stain glass window.
"Now my boy, I know you're itching to be up and about," Peter chuckled, "but you already popped a few stitches earlier this morning. However–” He couldn't help noticing Vincent's distraught look “–perhaps we could pull out that old wheelchair from the storage room…" He let the sentence hang in the air.
Normally, Vincent opposed to the idea of needed unnecessary help. However, he was in no mode to argue with either of the elder physicians and complied.
"So, how ya holdin' up, Cathy?" Tasha asked as she sat on the side of the bed, careful to avoid nudging Catherine's elevated leg. Catherine was propped up against the headboard with Jacob and Rosie on either side of her.
"Oh, I'm doing fine, but I hate being stuck in bed. I haven't been able to see Vincent since this morning."
"Well, don't worry, I was just over there and I'll tell ya, he's just as restless as you. I barely sedated him with a few birthday gifts." A sly smirk crossed her face. "Although, now that I think of it that probably just made him wanna come here even more."
There was a sound of someone clearing their throat. Catherine and Tasha turned around to see Peter pushing Vincent in a wheelchair at the doorway. Catherine smiled as she noticed Vincent wore the presents their children had made him. What she did not see was the small item Vincent hid underneath his hands that were lying on his lap.
Tasha laughed. "Well, speak of the devil and you'll see his horns. Were your ears burning or something, Puss?"
Peter tried to suppress a chuckle as he wheeled Vincent over to his ladylove. Tasha took the hint and asked the twins if they wanted to raid the kitchen with her. They eagerly agreed and followed Tasha out of the chamber, Peter right behind them. And then there were two.
Vincent reached over and took Catherine's hand in his own. She smiled brightly at him and gently squeezed his hand. "How did you like your gifts?"
"Each was a joy I shall treasure, but you, Catherine, are my greatest gift." He took the hand he held and brought it to his lips. "But there is something I wish to give you."
"Now Vincent you now the rules," she tried to scold, "It's your birthday; only you get the presents."
"It is not so much a present, than it is something I wish to return to you." He turned over her hand so that her palm faced upwards. "If you'd please close your eyes…"
Catherine humored him and shut her eyes. Reaching for the item in his lap, Vincent drew out the little leather pouch and emptied its contents into his hand. He replaced the ceramic rose to the pouch before slipping the item around his neck. Then he took the precious crystal necklace and placed it in Catherine's outstretched hand.
When she felt the item in her hand Catherine opened her eyes. Her breath caught in her throat. "My necklace! But… I thought…" Tears forming in her eyes, "Oh Vincent, where on earth did you find it?"
"The night after your funeral, I wanted answers to the gaps in my memory. I thought if I could remember what happened the night in the cavern, I would discover what had become of our Bond; what had cost me to lose you." His face fell as he remembered that night all too well. "But then I discovered your crystal. It became my last link to you, until I learned of Jacob, but even after, I could not bring myself to part with it."
Tears streamed down her face. The thought of him carrying her necklace in the same pouch she had made him, alongside her mother's rose… meant more than she could say. She took the chain in her hand and placed it over her head. The crystal settled into its familiar place on her chest, as if it had never left.
The sight of Catherine wearing her necklace again made him melt. Something about it just made her homecoming all the more real. He reached over and took her hand in his again. Such happiness radiated off her that he could almost feel it in his own heart. In fact, strangely enough, he could feel it. He could sense her happiness over the return of her crystal, and the love she had for him. His eyes widened and he could not breathe.
Catherine noticed that Vincent had become unusually quiet. She looked over and saw a look of wonder and shock on his face. She looked at him quizzically.
"Vincent, is something wrong?" she asked.
"C-Catherine…" his voice barley above a whisper. "I, I-I feel it."
"Feel what? Vincent you're not making any sense."
"Catherine I, I think it has returned." He could not believe the joy rising in him at this point. "I think our Bond… has returned."
"What?" Catherine almost didn't believe him. There had been times when she dared hoped that their Bond would returned. After her abduction and escape from Gabriel, she lost faith that it would ever happen. "Are you sure?"
Vincent just chuckled and smiled at her with one of those rare smiles that exposed his fangs. Taking her hand he placed it over his heart. She could feel it beating beneath her fingertips. Then, just as she was about to question him again, Catherine felt a small tug at her own heart. Her side of the Bond had never been as strong as his, but there was always been a faint pulse that let her know whenever Vincent was near, or needed her help.
"Oh Vincent!" Catherine threw her arms around his neck. He held her close, enraptured in the feeling of her heart beating alongside his own once again. Oh how he'd missed that feeling. Never again would he take their love for granted again. Vincent had some very big plans for the future. And he intended to spend every single moment with Catherine by his side. For now they just held each other as their Bond enfolded them both in their never ending love for each other.