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3rd SEASON ROUND ROBIN



Chapter 2

by Southofoz


Vincent tapped on Diana’s window just after sunset.

Diana was anxiously pacing, and she pulled up the curtain to see Vincent’s figure move away. She snatched a long, paper wrapped bundle from the kitchen bench and lifted her coat from the hook as she went to the roof.

Vincent was leaning on the wall, staring out at the city as the night wind lifted his golden hair away from his face, his expression solemn. In these moments of stillness, Diana marveled at his beauty. He knew how she felt of course, but she had never spoken of it to him; and in the handful of times she had seen him in the last year, he treated her with the same polite reserve.

Diana shook herself inwardly and went the last few feet toward him. “Vincent,” she said softly.

He turned with a smile, “Are you well, Diana?” he asked, his blue eyes alighting on her face. “I came as soon as I received your message.”

“I’m fine. How are Jacob and Father?” she asked, trying to prolong this interlude. She knew that as soon as she told him the reason for the message, he would be gone.

“Well,” he answered wryly, laughing softly, his face taking on a totally different expression as he spoke of his son, “Jacob has everyone Below completely under his spell, especially Father, who is also well,” he added with a nod of thanks for the inquiry.

Diana laughed softly, “I’m not a bit surprised.”

She handed him the paper wrapped package. He opened it to reveal two long stemmed roses, joined at the base to become a single stem, one white and one red, “I figured you might like these, since it’s been a year.”

Vincent had told no one of his plan to go to Catherine’s grave, but Diana with her acute and incredible insight had somehow known.

“Are they…?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered the half formed question, “Catherine’s rosebush blooms at the oddest times of year. These are some of the last of the season. I thought she would want you to have them.”

“Thank you. They are beautiful,” he murmured, lifting them to savor their perfume. Both blooms were just opening their petals, and a pleasant fragrance filled his senses. Vincent remembered Catherine planting the rosebush with single-minded determination, and he smiled at the memory.

Diana had told him she’d rescued the bush from Catherine’s balcony after her death. She’d brought it back to life, and now it flourished.

It was then that Vincent sensed a disquiet in his companion, and with his head to one side, his expression concerned, he asked, “What is it, Diana?”

Diana could hide it no longer, so she came to the point, “Mouse has been arrested,” she said flatly. “I knew you would want to know as soon as possible, but I wanted to give you those first,” she finished, indicating the roses.

Vincent was shocked, the roses momentarily forgotten, “Mouse … how? What happened?” he asked, terrified for the young man. “No one has seen him since this morning.”

“I don’t know the details yet. I only found out by accident,” Diana said sadly. “So I sent you the message as soon as I could.”

“Where is he? Can you help him?” Vincent asked with fear lancing through him at the thought of Mouse in police custody.

“He’s downtown in my precinct. I saw them bringing him in. I don’t know what he’s charged with. I can’t do anything until tomorrow anyway, but I thought you should know. Vincent, maybe Joe could help,” Diana suggested.

She had wanted to tell Joe about Vincent and Jacob since the events of a year ago, especially after what had happened with Gregory Coil, but Vincent was adamant that she must be very careful. Diana was certain that Joe suspected she knew more than she had told him.

“Diana it is enough that you are forced to keep our secret. To involve, Joe Maxwell …”

“Vincent, he would help us. I know he would. He loved Cathy, too. He knows that she had a child and wonders what happened to him … and he knows I’m keeping something from him.”

Vincent shook his head, “No, Diana, it’s too dangerous. What if his position as District Attorney is jeopardized or he feels honor bound to report what you have already done to help us?”

“I think he would want to help you if he knew the truth,” Diana pressed.

“Please say nothing, Diana. Let us try to help Mouse first. We have Helpers who work in the legal profession; they may be able to help.”

“All right, Vincent, but we might not have much time.”

“I know, and I’m sorry Diana,” Vincent said with real regret, “But telling us as quickly as you have, might be enough. Thank you …” he said and squeezing her hand before he left the roof.

Diana stayed on her rooftop, looking over the city, long after Vincent left, concerned for Mouse and frustrated that Vincent wouldn’t let her go to Joe. Keeping things from Joe Maxwell was beginning to take its toll on her.

* * *

Father would know who to contact. Vincent sent a message to Father, telling him about Mouse, then he continued on his way; and it wasn’t long before he stood on the roof where Catherine had died.

It had been a year. A year that had begun with loss and ended with the joy of his son, but nevertheless, long repressed memories assailed him – Catherine’s voice from behind him – her weight in his arms – her words about their son – and then the moment when she went limp, and his world crumbled about him, leaving only silence and the cold night wind, as he cradled her. And death shall have no dominion …

In his grief he had wandered the worlds Above and Below, the equilibrium of his life thrown awry, feeling a certainty that he would never regain it. But he had, even though he was greatly changed by what had happened in the months after Catherine’s death.

A tear slid down his cheek as he stared down at the spot where he had held her, “Catherine …” he whispered, the grief threatening to overwhelm him.

Just then there was a gentle touch within him that brought him back, like a beam of light in a dark room. Jacob… Even in sleep the babe had the power to affect his father, tempering Catherine’s loss…and the pain eased to its usual dull ache.

With his son’s presence girding him, cushioning him, Vincent bent and placed the red rose; he had brought, and laid it on the spot where his beloved had died. Straightening with a shuddering sigh, he finally put that terrible night securely in a past. He turned then and left the rooftop, never to return. He would look forward now.

Sometime later Vincent stood, like a silent sentinel, staring down at the simple grave stone that marked Catherine’s last resting place.

CATHERINE CHANDLER

1956 – 1989

There were no words to proclaim that here lay the beloved of Vincent or even the beloved daughter of Charles. It was a stark and lonely marker. There was no covering of flowers, as when he was last here on the night of Catherine’s funeral.

Last year it was all too raw, and he was alone. His son was only an insubstantial whisper in his heart, a far away presence yet to be realized, but tonight his bond with Catherine’s son hummed through his entire being, their connection complete and everlasting.

He remembered very little of the night some weeks later when he came here to die after escaping the explosion that had killed Elliot Burch. Then he had only wanted to join Catherine in death, careless of his body being found. His last conscious thought was of her smiling face.

But he had been forced back into the world of pain and loss by Diana Bennett, amid those lost days in her loft, where he had gained his strength and, reluctantly, her help to retrieve his son.

He approached the solitary stone. Catherine wasn’t here, but he spoke to her regardless. “Catherine…I miss you…” he murmured, his voice cracking with emotion.

He stood in silence for a time before he placed the joined red and white roses at the foot of the stone. “Our son grows strong, Catherine; he is much like you. His laughter is a tonic to all of us. How I wish you could be here to watch him grow. He is almost walking, and his words are clear and numerous. I will never let him forget you Catherine,” he whispered. He decided then to make this trip every year to remember Catherine, and when Jacob was old enough, he would bring him.

He was so caught up in the moment and his own emotions, that it was some time before Vincent sensed someone’s approach …

~

 


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