Chapter 5: Tell Me
Jacob walked into Vincent's room clutching his book. Father had been called away to attend a sprained ankle, so Jacob hoped Vincent would continue reading Great Expectations where Father had left off. Once in the chamber, Jacob saw that Vincent was asleep. Normally he would have allowed his adoptive parent to rest, but he was eager to know how the story ended. Carefully, after setting the book on the table, he climbed up into Vincent's bed.
"Wake up, Daddy." Jacob nudged Vincent's shoulder, but when he still didn't wake up, the toddler started bouncing on the bed. Normally Vincent would wake and play with the boy, but this time he remained asleep. "Daddy? Why you no wake up?"
Vincent still remained silent and Jacob started to cry.
Mary, who had been on her way to deliver laundry, had heard crying coming from Vincent's chamber. She entered and found Jacob crying next to an unconscious Vincent.
"Jacob, what happened?" Mary asked. She crossed the room toward the distraught toddler. The boy only continued to cry harder. Mary tried to wake Vincent, but received the same results as Jacob.
Quickly, Mary grabbed Jacob and hurried to the hospital chamber. Father was just finishing with Cullen's ankle when Mary came in.
"Mary, what's wrong?" Father asked. He noticed the still crying toddler. "Is Jacob all right? What happened?"
"Yes, Father, Jacob is fine," Mary answered when her panting subsided, "but something is wrong with Vincent."
"Vincent! What has happened?" Father asked.
"I don't know. I was delivering the laundry when I heard Jacob crying. I looked in and I thought Vincent was asleep. I tried to wake Vincent up, but Father, nothing I did woke him!"
"Quickly, we must get to him." Father grabbed his medical bag, and headed for Vincent's chamber. Mary dropped Jacob off in the nursery before following Father.
The sun was warm and shining brightly. The flowers were in bloom, and the lake was dazzling from the reflecting sun rays. Vincent felt so at peace in the serene environment. He sat with his back against a willow tree, Catherine safely tucked at his side. She was wrapped in his cloak and, for the first time since he arrived, she was smiling. He sighed and pulled Catherine closer.
"Tell me what you're thinking," Catherine asked.
Vincent chuckled. "How completely at peace I feel here. It seems like a dream." He turned to gaze at Catherine's face. She looked exactly the same as the last day he'd seen her. Only something seemed different. There was a sort of glow about her that left him mesmerized. "And how beautiful you are."
"I've missed you so much." Her eyes closed and her head found its familiar place on his shoulder. Turning back to him, Catherine noticed Vincent seemed exhausted. "Vincent do you need to lie down? You look tired."
"It's nothing to concern yourself with, Catherine," Vincent ensured when he saw her concerned gaze.
She did not buy his story. Slowly, she removed herself from Vincent's arm and pulled his head toward her. Her movements caught him off guard and, before he could react, his head was resting on her lap. He tried to sit up, but Catherine laid one hand on his chest while the other ran its fingers through his golden mane. The gesture stopped Vincent, forcing him to relax back into Catherine's loving, soothing caress. She was right, he had been tired.
"I thought so." Catherine chuckled. "Just what have you been doing all this time?"
"Much has happened in the Tunnels," Vincent explained. "Father seems to have many new projects to occupy our time. Even Mouse has trouble keeping up."
"Mouse have trouble? Now there's something I thought I'd never hear."
"Well, he has other things to keep him…preoccupied," Vincent said.
"What could possibly keep Mouse that busy?" Catherine asked.
"The better question is who?" A small smile tugged at the corners of Vincent's mouth.
Suddenly it hit her. "Jamie! Well, it's about time. Just when did this happen?"
"About two years ago," Vincent replied. "Strange how certain circumstances can bring people together… like… that…" Vincent lost track of his voice as he realized what he'd just said.
Catherine puzzled over what the circumstance Vincent spoke of. The realization was almost too painful: her "death." Her fingers halted their strokes and tears ran down her cheeks, dropping onto Vincent's face. Quickly Vincent got back to his knees and gathered Catherine in his arms.
"Vincent," Catherine cried into his chest. "I'm so, so sorry. I never meant for this to happen."
"Catherine, there is no reason for you to apologize." Vincent felt appalled that she felt this way, and angry with himself for allowing it. "I was the one who failed you. If I hadn't been so consumed in my own self-pity, those men never would have tormented you. I'm the one who should be asking for forgiveness."
Pulling back to look at him—really look at him—Catherine stared into his eyes and saw all his pain.
He feels responsible when it's all my fault? she thought. She stared up at him for a long time, caressing every feature of his face with her eyes. How she'd missed him. Taking his face in her hands, Catherine spoke.
"Vincent, nothing that's happened is your fault. This was all because I was taken from you."
"I know," his voice was low, "Gabriel was truly a monster. I'm glad he cannot cause you, or anyone else, any more pain. My only regret is that I was unable to keep my vow to protect you."
"Oh V-Vincent, pl-please don't say that," Catherine said, sobs choking her voice. "I-I was the one who was careless."
The tears were overflowing as Catherine recalled all those months apart from Vincent, all those nights spent locked up alone, every humiliating test Gabriel put her through. The night he took her son before she could even hold him. Catherine closed her arms around Vincent's waist.
Vincent held her tighter, and Catherine allowed all her pain to flow out, letting in only Vincent's love. Her breath was warm against his neck, and Vincent shuddered at her touch. The last time he held her this close she had wanted to tell him something. Now he needed to know what that was.
"Catherine," Vincent spoke into her ear. "The last time we spoke, you wanted to tell me something. What was it?"
Calming herself, Catherine pulled back. Even though this was only a dream, she felt compelled to tell him the truth. Maybe this would help her when she faced the real Vincent. Noticing the tears still clinging to her cheek, Vincent gently wiped them away with his thumb. Catherine leaned into his touch. You're not making this any easier, she thought.
"I did want to tell you, Vincent," she said as she held his hand to her face, "but I didn't want to cause you any more distress." Her eyes closed, remembering that day. "You were still recovering from your illness; I didn't want you to have anything else to worry about."
Vincent just had to know what she wanted to tell him. What his foolish self-pity had cost him. "Catherine, please. Tell me."
She turned her attention back to him. "Vincent. I wanted to tell you… What I was trying to say… Was that…"
"AHHH!" Vincent cried out. He released his hand from Catherine and clutched his chest. Powerful waves of pain swept over him, and he was losing his focus on Catherine. It felt as though his heart would burst out of his chest. He fell to the ground in pure agony.
"Vincent! What's wrong?" Catherine tried to reach for him, but, for some reason, she could no longer touch him.
What's happening? Vincent thought. He tried reaching for Catherine, but his fingers passed through her outstretched hand.
No! I need more time. But before he could utter another word, the world around him went dark and Catherine was gone.
Vincent's ragged breathing slowed as he focused on his surroundings. He was back in his chamber, sitting upright in his bed, and Father and Mary were in the room. Before he could ask what they were doing, the sharp pain returned. Vincent looked down to find two syringes protruding from his chest.
"Vincent, Vincent!" Mary said as she tried to calm him. "It’s us; Father and Mary."
"Vincent, please, calm down," Father approached his distraught son. "Mary found you unconscious and brought me here. There was nothing I could do to wake you, and your pulse was very low. I had to use two adrenaline shots in order to wake you."
Vincent ripped the syringes from his chest and discarded them across the room. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and dropped his head into his hands. He shuddered and began to sob uncontrollably. Mary and Father tried to comfort him but to no avail. They could not even get near him.
I needed more time! he thought bitterly to himself. Why couldn't they have waited a little longer?
Vincent fell to his knees and half roared, half cried out at the forces that had taken his beloved Catherine away from him. The sound reached all throughout the Tunnels.
Jacob heard, and ran toward Vincent's chamber. When the little boy arrived, Vincent was an emotional wreck and Father and Mary could do nothing to ease the pain he was in, let alone approach him. Without warning, Jacob ran across the room and threw his arms around Vincent's neck. Father and Mary attempted to remove Jacob, but stopped when they saw Vincent's reaction. Vincent's sobbing slowed and he wrapped his arms around the boy.
"Don't cry, Daddy," Jacob told him. Vincent only held a little tighter.
Oh Catherine, Vincent thought to himself, he reminds me so much of you.
Seeing as they were no longer needed, Mary and Father left Vincent's chamber.
Catherine woke with a start. It was light out and her digital cloak read 5:56 pm. She was in her bedroom, clinging to the blanket she was wrapped in. So it was a dream after all.
The image of Vincent was so clear she felt like it had really happened. Catherine tried to move, but a small form prevented her from leaving the bed. While she had slept, Rosie had crawled into her mother's bed and fallen asleep. She looked so peaceful that Catherine didn't want to wake her.
Catherine settled back down and cuddled her daughter closer. She started to pull the blanket over both her and her daughter, when a familiar scent caught her attention. It was a combination of candle smoke, old leather, and spicy, earthy musk. Vincent. Catherine looked around for the source until her eyes landed back to the cloth in her hands. She looked closely and gasped. She was wearing Vincent's cloak.
"How is this possible?" she whispered to herself. "It was only a dream. Wasn't it?" Catherine held the garment to her nose and inhaled the scent. There was no mistaking it. This was Vincent's cloak, but how did she get it?
There was a quiet knock on her door before she could answer her own question. Peter entered her room. "Cathy, you awake?"
"I'm up, Peter," she whispered. "Is something wrong?"
"No, I just thought if you were up, we could get everything all packed up in the car, and head out early,"
"Alright. Give me a chance to wake Rose, shower and change, and then I'll whip up a quick snack for the rode."
"Sounds good." He left to finish loading anything they might have missed. Peter had spent half the day helping Catherine and Rosemary pack for the journey home.
Catherine sighed as she leaned back down on the bed. In less than a few hours she would be back in New York, and later she would be home again. But what if she didn't have a home to return to? Her mind swirled again with doubts. What if her Tunnel family sent her away? They might not believe her to be the real Catherine; Peter said everyone had attended the funeral. And what about Vincent? How could she expect him to take her back after she had avoided him for so long?
I was the one who failed you… I'm the one who should be asking for forgiveness. His words echoed in her mind.
Rosie started to stir and slowly opened her eyes. "Hi Mommy."
"Hi Rosebud. Did you have a good dream?" Catherine asked her sleepy daughter.
"Mmhmm, what that?" She pointed to the cloak around Catherine's shoulders.
"This is a cloak," Catherine sighed, "and it belongs to your daddy."
Rosie sat up and started to look at the cloak. She turned back to her mother, puzzlement and amazement in her eyes. "How it get here?"
"I don't know. I had that bad dream again; only this time your daddy saved me." Catherine could still feel his strong arms holding her close. "Then he put his cloak around me and disappeared."
Rosie whimpered as her mother recalled the dream. Catherine opened her arms and Rosie crawled on to her mother's lap. She sat down and Catherine enfolded herself and her daughter in Vincent's cloak. Rosie snuggled in while Catherine remembered all the times she had been wrapped in this cloak.
"Whoa!" Rosie exclaimed. "It big. Is Daddy a giant?"
"No sweetie, he's not that big." Catherine chuckled. "Well, since we're up, what do you say we get dressed, have something to eat and head out? Peter is already up and everything's packed up in his car."
"OK good. OK fine," Rosie said as Catherine scooted out of bed toward the shower. "What bout this?" she asked, holding up a corner of Vincent's cloak.
"I don't know, baby," Catherine said before she slipped into the bathroom.
When she heard the water running, Rosie hoped off her mother's bed and headed for her room. She changed clothes and grabbed a small backpack that held all her important treasures: her picture binder, her bunny Elli, and her keepsake box. Ever since she could walk, Rosie always kept little objects she thought were interesting: a piece of blue glass shaped like a heart, a white rock, some dried flowers, and a picture of her and her mother in Catherine's secret glen.
Rosie put on her backpack and walked back to her mother's room. Catherine had finished with her shower, and was in the process of getting dressed when the little girl came in. When her daughter walked in Catherine smiled. Rosie always looked so adorable with her little backpack on. She had to stifle a laugh.
"Go home now, Mommy?" Rosie asked.
"Yes Rosebud," Catherine said. "Why don't you go on downstairs and wait with Peter. I'll finish up here and be down to make a snack, okay?"
"OK good, OK fine," was her response before Catherine resumed some last minute packing.
"Rosie, what's wrong?" Catherine asked.
"It gone!" the toddler exclaimed.
"Daddy's cloak. It went poof." Catherine looked at the bed and noticed Vincent's cloak was indeed missing; vanishing as mysteriously as it had appeared.