A Conversation Between Brothers

by ChicagoTunnelKid

This story is about a missing conversation from the episode Promises of Someday.

 

Devin stood by the Mirror Pool, watching the stars flicker on the surface from the ripples he caused. The stars were still there, the image just distorted. Just as he was still Devin, but now he knew he was a Wells. His own image needed adjustment.

The old man isn’t going to be happy with me leaving so soon.  That itchy feeling had returned, and it was time to go. He needed time and distance to take in Father’s twenty-year omission. Vincent would be disappointed. He wouldn’t say it, but that look in his eyes would give it away. Devin read body language as fluently as he spoke English. His “professions” often depended upon it. So he knew, as careful as Vincent tried to be, when he was disappointed.

Vincent watched Devin from a distance in the tunnel approaching the Mirror Pool. Devin stood next to the water, an occasional toss of a stone into the pool the only movement he made. Vincent knew he would be here. It was often where Devin went as a boy when he needed to sort through his thoughts.

Vincent suspected this meant Devin would be leaving soon. He had hoped he might stay for at least another month. They had barely enough time to get re-acquainted. He’d heard only a fraction of the stories he suspected Devin could tell. He sighed and leaned against the tunnel wall wishing his world was enough for Devin, but it wasn’t. He stood watching another moment, then pushed back from the wall, leaving his sadness imprinted on the stone. He approached where Devin stood.

“Pondering the ways of the world again, Devin?”

“Vincent! You startled me! I guess I’m losing my touch.” Devin grinned. “What brings you here, little brother?”

“I thought perhaps you might be here.” Vincent walked over to a ledge and sat down. “When are you leaving?”

“You know me too well, Vincent.” Devin stayed facing the pool. “It’s time for me to disappoint Father yet again, although I think I am more disappointed in him this time than he in me.”

“Because of what he told you?”

Devin turned and looked at Vincent. “To learn who your father is in your mid-30’s and that it is a man who always harped at you about doing what’s right, being truthful? Forgive me if I harbor a smidgen of resentment and have a bit of trouble adjusting.”

Vincent clasped his hands together, then unclasped them and stood. Walking up to Devin, he put his left arm up around Devin’s shoulder in support as together they stared at the pool. “I am at a loss myself to understand how a man would deny his own son. And if I am the reason ... I cannot say how sorry I am, how much I regret what happened.”

“You weren’t the reason, Vincent.” Devin turned and faced him, taking hold of his shoulders and giving them a slight shake for emphasis. “You were not the reason.”

Devin released him and stepped to the ledge to sit. He indicated a place for Vincent. The two sat side by side, just as they had many times before.

“What other reason could Father have had to do such a thing? He as much as admitted it to me.” Vincent argued. “It bothered me when you were blamed because of his concern for me. It wasn’t fair to you. I knew it then, and I know it drove a wedge between you and Father. For the longest time…I thought perhaps that was why you left.”

Devin turned his head sharply toward Vincent. “You did?”

Vincent nodded slightly.

“God, I’m sorry, Vincent. That was never part of it. Never.” He looked into Vincent’s eyes until he saw acknowledgment. “I just didn’t fit Below anymore. I needed out, to see and do whatever I wanted to see and do. To be my own man, whoever I found that man to be. But I couldn’t do that here. Not with Father and his rules and his expectations.” He stood again and walked to the water. He put his hands in his pockets, stared at the water a moment, and then pivoted to face Vincent.  “All of which make more sense now that I know I am his son.” His head dropped, and he shook his head. “All those years, had I known, how different might it have been? Would I still be here? Would I be the heir apparent instead of you?”

Vincent’s head snapped to attention. “What? Heir to what?”

“Tunnel leadership. It’s clear to me that you are expected to take over when the time comes.” He watched Vincent gear up for a rebuttal.  He held his hands up to forestall the argument. “There is no one more suited than you, Vincent. I would have been lousy at it. But you – you have the wisdom and patience, of a saint sometimes, I think. That will serve you well as leader.”

“That is a long time off. Who knows what will be then.” Vincent couldn’t let the thought sit un-rebuffed. “If not because of me, then why do you think Father didn’t tell you sooner?”

“I don’t think he’ll ever tell me, Vincent. I’m not sure he knows himself.” Devin looked down, shook his head slightly, and looked again at Vincent. “As great a man as Father is, and yes, I can admit he has his strengths, he had his own demons to deal with and to hide from everyone else so his facade as leader would stay intact.”

“He does love you, Devin.”

“I know. I guess I still love him, too; it’s just going to take time to get our new footing together.”

“How can you do that if you leave?” Vincent asked.

“It hurts too much now, Vincent. Father and I never communicated well at the best of times. Now, it would be too easy to say or do something that one of us could never take back.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too, you big oaf!” Devin stepped over and punched him on the shoulder. He decided to steer the conversation from the topic of himself and Father. “What’s this about Chandler being ‘more than a helper,’ anyway?”

Vincent felt the heat rise to his face. On others, it would be a definite blush. On him – well, he knew what he was feeling, but others would likely not.

But Devin knew. “Cat got your tongue, Vinnie?”

Vincent sighed. He’d never liked that use of his name, nor the expression. He knew he would not get out of an explanation. If he tried stalling, he would only face worse names that Devin would haul out of his memories. He was a grown man who could protect those he loved with a sweep of his claws, but he was undone by Devin’s reappearance and the use of boyhood monikers.

“Catherine is a friend, a dear friend.”

“Tell me another story, Vincent.” Devin wasn’t buying it.

“I ... she....” He wasn’t used to sharing such deep inner truths with anyone but his journal. He took a deep breath. “I love her. I have since the night I found her injured in the park.” It sounded so meager stated aloud. What he felt was so much more, yet how to explain it to someone else? The words spun around in his own head, let alone getting them out constructively for someone else.

Devin opened his mouth, thought better of it, and shut it.  He sat for a moment.
“How does she feel about you?”

“She says she loves me.” Vincent looked down again.

“But you’re not sure?”

“I find it hard to believe someone like her could ... would ... love someone like me,” Vincent admitted. He sighed again. “But I feel what she feels, Devin. There is this connection between us I’ve never felt with anyone before. Her emotions come through to me so that I know what she feels. That’s how I know when she is in danger. I feel her fear.” He paused.  “And I feel her love. So I know it to be true.”

“So, that’s great, right?” Devin looked at Vincent. No response. “It’s not great?” He quirked his eyebrow.

“Devin, we are something that’s never been. Father has concerns. ”Another pause. “I have concerns.”

At this, Devin rolled his eyes.

“Not altogether unjustified concerns, Devin. We live in two different worlds – I cannot live in her world, and how can I ask her to live in mine? She belongs Above.” He paused, waiting for Devin’s interruption, which surprisingly didn’t come. “ And there are parts of me she has no knowledge about, parts that may prevent a true relationship.” This last cost him to admit out loud. He had barely acknowledged it to himself. To hear it spoken – took his breath away along with his hope. His shoulders slumped.

“What parts? I see no parts that would prevent a relationship, Vincent.” Devin defended him. “Not if she really loves you, and if you really love her.”

Vincent looked up sharply at Devin. He did not appreciate having his admission turned aside so easily.

“You left the tunnels for more than twenty years, Devin. There is much you don’t know, don’t understand.” He sat looking at his hands, hands that made him so different from others, so lethal. “There were times I succumbed to some sickness, perhaps related to my maturing into whatever it is that I am. But the part of me that is not quite ... human ... has such darkness to it. It calls me. It is what makes it possible for me to protect those I love. But the more I use its power, the deeper I descend into the blackness.”

Devin studied Vincent. “You’re afraid you won’t make it back.”

Vincent looked at the man he considered his brother. “There may come a time when I lack the strength it will take, and I will lose myself to my darkness. You will lose the brother you know, and Father, the son. And I will lose Catherine.”  He dropped his head low.

“Have you and Chandler talked about this?”

Vincent shook his head.

“Why not?”

He looked up at Devin. “It’s too soon. I’m afraid it would only frighten her, or worry her that she could do nothing. For her to make such a commitment, only to see it vanish, is not fair to her. And maybe if we go with care, if we go slowly, I will find a way to fight the darkness so that I won’t lose myself, lose the ones I love ... lose her.”

“And how likely are you not to have to fight? From the stories I’ve heard since I’ve been here, you had many encounters for Catherine’s safety. And there will always be intruders who wander into the tunnels.”

Vincent sighed. “Yes. And Below is the only place I can survive. It must be protected at all costs. And I must protect Catherine. She is the woman I love. Besides that love, my protection is the one thing I have to give her.”

Devin shook his head, as if in defeat. “Ah, Vincent. What am I going to do with you, brother?” He stood up and walked a few steps before turning and coming to a stop in front of Vincent. He looked intently at his brother. “Don’t you know how special you are? How much you give to others just as a friend? I can only imagine what you would give when you loved someone. I don’t think Chandler cares about anything you imagine she does. I’ve seen how she looks at you. Hell, I envy how she looks at you.  And if you can do what you say you can, feel what she feels … well, that’s something no one else has, and it gives you such an advantage. How could you ever disappoint her? We mortals try and fail a lot, but you, you have the inside edge.”

He sat down again and took a moment. “Vincent, do not … I repeat … do not listen to Father on this, or anyone else for that matter. Trust your feelings; trust hers. There must be a reason you found her. How many opportunities like that do you think one man gets?”

Vincent looked at his brother. He was so used to hearing caution from Father that it took him by surprise to hear someone tell him to go for something he wanted. But caution was ingrained in him; his life depended on it. It wasn’t easy to cast caution aside and go full speed ahead, especially in romantic relationships in which he was woefully lacking experience.

“I will try. It’s new to me, Devin. I never expected this to happen.” He stood up and began pacing, releasing his nervous energy. “I want her to make her own decisions in this, Devin, to know her own mind.” He stopped pacing and looked at Devin. “And yet I want this with every fiber of my being – to bring her Below and keep her with me. But she belongs Above, Devin, in the light. Not in my world of shadows.”

Devin shook his head. He knew it was not the time to press. Instead, he went with a more light-hearted approach.

“At least tell me she’s a good kisser, Vincent!”

The stricken look on Vincent’s face said more than any words.

“You haven’t ...  jeez, Vincent! You take the cake!” Devin stood up in front of him. He waited for him to raise his head and look at him. “Don’t tell me – more of this ‘I am a beast stuff, right?”

“There are differences, Devin. What woman wants this face, my mouth shoved onto hers?”

The look of despair in Vincent’s eyes nearly crushed Devin.

“Besides, touch can lead to ... passion ... which is too close to my darkness. If I go there, I may never be able to get back ... or to let her go back,” he admitted. “Devin, a part of me, a part that I barely understand, that I keep tightly reined, views love as possession.  I don’t want that for Catherine. She deserves better.”

Devin measured his words. “I didn’t realize, I ... I don’t know what to say to that.”

They stood looking at each other, lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Devin spoke.

“It’s worth it.”

Vincent looked puzzled. “What?”

“Love. It’s worth it, Vincent. Don’t give up. Don’t assume. Test. Carefully,” he conceded, “but test.”

A flicker of hope appeared on Vincent’s face. He mulled the thought in his mind. Test. Patience. Yes, those he could do.

“There is a story behind that advice.” He tilted his head in that way of his, and Devin’s eyelids flickered. Yes, something happened that taught Devin about love.

“Let’s save that for another visit.” Devin clasped Vincent around his shoulders and started walking toward the tunnel opening. “Come on. Let’s go tell the old man I’m leaving. He won’t yell as loud with you there.”

 

 

 

 

Return to the Stories and Poems Index

WFOL Logo