Chapter 6: Coming Home
They arrived at Peter's house around eight o' clock. It had taken longer than usual because they had to stop at Katie's diner. Since Catherine was leaving, "Margaret" had to turn in her resignation. Unfortunately when they arrived they found a surprise going-away-party for Catherine and Rosie. It had been a heartfelt farewell, but Catherine had promised to visit as often as she and Rosie could. Catherine and Tasha practically had to pry Rosie and Thomas apart.
Before they left, Tasha said she would be coming up to New York to visit Maize. She also promised to stop by and check on her. Catherine thanked her for her kindness, and appreciated Tasha for it. She even confessed that seeing her family and friends again would be difficult, and she could use all the emotional support she could get.
Now Catherine looked up at the familiar house of her childhood. It looked very much the same, unlike her. Since she was still considered dead, Catherine wore her blonde pixie-cut wig. Meanwhile, in the backseat, Rosie had fallen asleep holding her bunny during the car ride. Peter and Catherine unloaded the bags into the house. When that was done, Catherine removed her daughter from the car seat and brought her inside. As she walked through the front doorway, the little girl woke up.
"Where are we, Mommy?" she asked through a yawn.
"We're at Peter's house, Rosebud," Catherine answered. She walked upstairs to the guest bedroom she would use for the next few days. She entered and laid her daughter down on the bed. Rosie rubbed her eyes.
"Go see Daddy now?" Rosie asked sleepily.
"No, not yet, but soon. I promise." Catherine kissed Rosie on her forehead, and quietly exited the room. She tiptoed downstairs and found Peter in the kitchen.
"You know, Peter, I can cook." She smirked as Peter looked up from searching the freezer for a microwavable dinner.
"Cathy, that isn't necessary."
"Yes it is. You're the reason I had a chance to finally come home. If it weren't for you, Rosie and I'd still be in Connecticut." She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “And I'd never find a way to…to tell Vincent what I should have told him years ago. Thank you, Peter."
Returning the hug, Peter chuckled. "Oh honey, you would have found a way. It's just good to have you back. Now, you said something about dinner?”
It was around eleven o' clock when an old gray van turned the corner. It had been a long drive from Montana, but the destination was worth it. Noticing his traveling companion had fallen asleep, the driver gave him a gentle nudge.
"Hey Charles, wake up man. We're almost there," he said as he turned another corner.
The gentle giant gave a large yawn before answering. "Devin, why is it we are not going Below again?"
"Wouldn't want to wake the Old Man at this hour. Besides, they ain't expecting us 'till Saturday." Noticing his friend's apprehension, he placed one hand on the man's shoulder. Devin knew Charles feared people's reactions when they met him.
"Don't worry, Charles, Dr. Alcott is a good friend. You have nothing to worry about."
Like Vincent, Charles appearance was frightening to some, except his deformed features were caused by neurofibromatosis. Devin rescued him from a carnival where he was humiliated and forced to perform as the "Dragon Man." Devin brought Charles Below and Vincent helped him learn to except what he was, and know that there were people who loved him for who he was. Charles settled back and now watched as Devin maneuvered the van along the dark road.
"Cathy, this smells incredible," Peter commented as he stepped back into the kitchen. Catherine had cooked a special diner for them: stew made from what she found in Peter's fridge. The aroma was pleasing to the nose and made Peter's mouth water.
"Thank you, Peter." Catherine smiled.
"Honey, why are you still dressed like that?" Peter asked.
Catherine laughed. She was still wearing her disguise. "Oops! Sometimes I get so comfortable in this I forget to take it off."
Both laughed until there was a knock at the door, making Catherine and Peter jump.
"Who on earth could that be at this hour?" Peter asked as he made his way to the front door. Catherine remained hidden in the kitchen. She hadn't removed her wig, but years of paranoia held her in place.
Cautiously Peter approached the door and looked out the peephole. To his surprise Devin Wells, Father's biological son, shivered on the doorstep with his friend Charles, standing behind him, a very large hood covering his face. Peter opened the door, welcoming his to guests as they hurried inside.
"Well, this is unexpected," Peter exclaimed as he shut the door.
"Sorry Doc, but we got in earlier than expected," Devin said. "I thought you might put up with a couple of strangers for the night. The Old Man wouldn't exactly be thrilled about me waking him up." Then the aroma of beef stew caught his attention. "Hey did William send up dinner. Smells great."
"Well, actually, I was just about to sit down when you two showed up," Peter said. "I wasn't expecting anyone else tonight, but both of you are welcome to stay."
"So… That mean we can crash here tonight?" Devin asked.
"Yes, of course, but I'm afraid that you will have to take the couch, Devin," Peter said.
"Why's that?" Charles asked.
"I have…other guests staying with me," Peter explained, "and they've already claimed one of the spare rooms." Peter desperately wanted to tell Devin that Catherine was alive, but he didn't even know where, or even how, to begin.
Meanwhile, the smell of stew had woken a sleepy, and extremely hungry, Rosie. She made her way downstairs, her bunny clutched in one hand. When she got to the bottom she saw two strange men in the hallway with Peter. One was very large and covered his face. The other was a tall man with dark hair, and three long scares on the left side of his face.
"Peter, who they?" Rosie asked. The three men turned toward the small girl.
Devin was surprised to see a toddler in Peter's house, but what surprised him more was the girl herself. Turning his attention toward Peter he asked, "Who's the squirt?"
Oh boy, Peter thought, how to explain this one? Well I guess the cat had to be let out sometime. He chuckled at the analogy before answering, "Well Devin, I think I'd better let her mother make the introductions."
Quickly, before another word was said, Rosie rushed into the kitchen. The girl's quick movements puzzled the three men. She didn't even realize that she'd dropped her bunny as she ran out.
Meanwhile, Catherine was still by the stove absentmindedly stirring the stew. She couldn't believe Devin was, at this very moment, in Peter's hallway. She almost didn't believe her ears until Peter said Devin's name. Charles must be with him since Devin said "we." Catherine wanted nothing more than to see him, but her doubts held her in place.
Rosie came running into the kitchen and grabbed Catherine's skirt. "Mommy, Mommy!" She tugged her mother toward the hallway. "Come look, come look!"
When the two women arrived, Devin took a second look at the woman the girl brought with her. Must be the mother, he thought. Not bad looking, but something seems familiar.
"So you must be Peter's guest." He put his hand out. "Nice to meet ya. Name's…"
"Devin Wells," Catherine answered. He was shocked. No one knew his real name; he'd used so many over the years, but only his real name a handful of times. Then she turned to Charles.
"Hello Charles. It's been a long time."
Both were flabbergasted. Devin and Charles had been living in the mountain areas away from prying eyes. There was absolutely no way this woman could know who Charles was. Devin took a step toward the mysterious woman and stared her right in the eyes.
"Hang on a sec. I've never seen you before, lady. Just how do you know me and my pal here?"
She smiled. "Not surprised. It's been six years since we worked together in the D.A.'s office, and only five since I last saw Charles."
Now Devin started to panic. There was only one person in the District Attorney's office that knew that information, but she was dead and buried. Then he looked closer at her features and noticed she had the same green eyes as…
No! It just couldn't… He shook his head but when he looked again, the woman was removing her blonde wig, letting a long braid fall on her shoulder. Her light brown hair had been sun kissed from years in the country, and it was longer, but everything else was the same. He looked closer and saw the scar by her left ear. Standing before them was none other than Catherine Chandler.
"Ca… C-Catherine?" Charles nearly yelled with delight. "It is you?" At the nodding of her head, Charles smiled wider. He grabbed Catherine into a bear hug and spun her around.
"Okay Charles," Catherine laughed, "it’s great to see you to. Now put me down." He obeyed her command and set her on her feet. She was delighted to see them, but when she turned back to Devin, her smile faded.
Before she could speak, Devin pulled Catherine into his arms. "I can't believe what I'm seeing. You alive! It seems almost impossible. I mean, when the Old Man said…"
Devin paused, remembering Father's letter three years ago, telling him that Catherine had been murdered; Father had even included the news article. Devin had immediately come home to consult Vincent. It was only when the brothers were alone that Vincent had allowed himself to give into the crushing weight of losing his beloved Catherine. Now she was standing before him acting like she'd only been gone on vacation.
Drawing her back to look her in the eye, Devin spoke in a non-to calming voice. "Come to think of it, just what is going on, Chandler? First I hear that your dead, I show up only to miss the funeral, and now you're standing here, alive. Do you have any idea what Vincent's been going through? What the hell is going on here?!"
It was Peter who took the opportunity to speak. "Devin, please, be reasonable."
"Reasonable? Are you serious?!" Devin shouted. "Peter, you know what Vincent's been like. Scratch that! The guy has been through hell! How can you be so calm about it?" His scowl deepened as he turned back to Catherine. "And how could you of all people do this to him?"
"Devin," Catherine's voice started shaking from the tears that threatened. "I-I never i-intended for this to happen… I thought if I went away, everyone would be safe, b-but…"
Devin was about to yell again when he saw the tears stream down her face. He realized how hard it must have been for her to leave Vincent as she did. Devin knew in his heart that Catherine would never intentionally hurt Vincent without a damn good reason. He watched as Charles placed a hand on Catherine's shoulder, and the little girl come forward and wrap her arms around Catherine's legs.
"Why don't we all head into the kitchen before that stew gets cold," Peter suggested. "There'll be plenty of time for explanations."
Everyone followed him into the kitchen and Catherine ladled up each person a bowl of stew. Everyone sat down, except for Rosie, who still clung to Catherine's leg. Catherine disentangled the girl and placed her in her chair before serving them both. Just as she was about to sit herself, Rosie squirmed out of her chair.
"Where are you going, honey?" Catherine called after her daughter.
"I drop Ellie," Rosie said over her shoulder. "Be back, Mommy."
Both Devin and Charles glanced up from their stew. They looked at each other with puzzled looks, then back to Catherine.
"Mommy? Cathy, since when did you have a daughter?" Devin asked.
The comment didn't surprise her much. Peter had already told her that everyone knew Jacob was her son, but nothing was said about another child. Catherine knew she'd have to explain this all to her Tunnel family, so she might as well start with Devin. He would be more understanding than Father at least. At that moment Rosie returned with her rabbit and seated herself in Catherine's lap.
"Well Devin, since we skipped proper introductions, let me introduce you to your niece, Rosemary Caroline Wells." Turing her attention to the girl in her lap. "Rosebud, meet your Uncle Devin."
"Hi!" Rosie clutched her rabbit in one hand and waved with the other.
Charles and Devin's eyes went wide with shock as they glanced at the little girl. Devin's jaw even dropped open, and the spoon fell from his hand and landed in his bowl. All the while Peter enjoyed his stew, a smile spreading across his lips.
After dinner, everyone went to the living room and got reacquainted. Charles and Rosie became fast friends, and Devin immediately loved his little niece. An hour later, Rosie had fallen asleep and was put to bed. Peter also excused himself for the night, leaving Catherine to explain the past three years of her life to Devin and Charles. They were amazed with what she had gone through
"… And so Peter convinced me to return and here I am," Catherine finished.
Devin was still having a hard time taking in everything Catherine had just told him. They had only heard Vincent and Father's side of the story, but to actually hear what Catherine had gone through was something else entirely. All this time she had been alive and she could not even come home because of what Gabriel had done to her.
What amazed Devin the most was what else Catherine had to say. She had not only been pregnant, but Vincent was the father. At first, learning that Jacob was Catherine's son, he was taken aback and saddened because Jacob had been believed to be Gabriel's son. If it hadn't been for Catherine and Rosie, Devin probably would not have believed it. The resemblance to Catherine was obvious, but the eyes alone should have been a dead giveaway. No one but Vincent had such exotic, cerulean eyes.
"Wow, Chandler. This is a lot to take in," Devin managed to say. "I mean, to think, little JC is really my nephew. And now I have a niece too? Boy, is my little brother in for the surprise of his life."
"JC? Is that what you've been calling my son?" Catherine asked.
"Well yeah, either that or squirt," Devin said. "Wait, wait, you know about Jacob?"
"Well, I am his mother." Catherine smiled. "And Peter told me what Vincent named him. I can't wait to see how much he's grown."
"I can tell you, Chandler, you sure make some cute babies." Devin smirked. "Just look at my niece; just as beautiful as her mother."
"Don't leave out her father. She has as much of Vincent in her as me," Catherine sighed. Then she turned to Devin with a serious look on her face. "Devin, do you really think Vincent won't be angry with me?"
"Please tell me that was rhetorical," he asked.
The look on her face told him she was dead serious. "Cathy, my brother could never be mad at you. When I first came home, around when Vincent got Jacob back, I noticed he'd changed. Then I caught him one night by the Mirror Pool alone."
Catherine was not sure she liked where this was going, but she made herself listen.
"He didn't know I was there at first," Devin continued, "but what I saw ripped my heart out. There he was, crying on the floor, huddled on his knees. When I put my hand on his shoulder, he flinched before he just collapsed. He had bottled up so much just so he could be strong for everyone else. He couldn't even talk about what was bothering him. He just kept saying your name over and over again."
Devin had to pause as the emotions from that night returned. "He tries so hard to be strong for the Tunnels, but when he's by himself… Oh Cathy, he's absolutely miserable. I've never seen him like this." Devin covered his eyes as the tears started to come.
Catherine found it hard to breathe as tears started spill from her eyes. From what Devin told her made her feel even worse about not returning to Vincent sooner. The guilt was spreading to through her heart. She had felt this pain a thousand times before repeatedly over the past three and a half years. She started to wrap her arms around her waist and her head fell to her chest as she cried silent tears.
Devin saw her heartache and walked over to the couch to sit by her side and hold her. Catherine cried into his arms until she calmed down.
"Awe Cathy," Devin said, "but that's all gonna change. With you home, my little brother's gonna have his life back." He took a hand and turned her face toward him. "Believe me, having you back is gonna make him happier than he's ever been. And on top of that, now he's not only gonna have you but two kids to spoil."
Catherine looked at him with her old lawyer's stare. She knew Devin was a 'good fraud' when he wanted to be, but right now he was speaking in complete honesty. He truly believed that Vincent, Father, and the rest of the Tunnel community would welcome her back with open arms. Catherine nodded her head and hugged him back.
Maybe I was wrong, she thought, maybe Vincent won't be angry with me. I just hope he still wants our children… and me. Catherine even laughed at the idea of Vincent spoiling anyone.
Then to cheer her up, Devin went on about how Vincent was taking care of Jacob and filling the part of a first time father. Catherine looked forward to getting to see this side of the man she loved, but she still felt unsure as to how to tell him, and the rest of her family, she was alive and coming home. So Catherine and Devin stayed up through the night to discuss their plan for reuniting the broken family.