POSSESSION

by Tunnel Muse

It was the darkest time in Vincent’s life.

It was bad enough when he injured Lisa over a teenage crush that to Vincent was real love, which to Lisa was just an innocent flirtation. Her only desire was to dance and perform for nobles and royalty. Vincent, with his innocence, youthful exuberance, and raging hormones, didn’t recognize innocent playfulness and took it to mean that she loved him, too, although she didn’t. He wanted to hold her and let her know how much he loved her, but it went terribly wrong, resulting in harming her. The devastation and horror in his eyes at what he’d done made him cry out in pain, as did seeing the look on her face.

Father tried to console him, even when Vincent raised his clawed hand at him in fear, or to keep anyone away from himself and Lisa. Father held and stroked him gently, saying the word, ”NO.” Vincent leaned his head on Father’s shoulder, sobbing bitterly, as Lisa looked on, holding her shoulder.

This unfortunate episode was the start of Vincent’s mental and emotional downward spiral. The start of his delicate balance between the boy he was and the man he was to become. Father discouraged any more intimate entanglements after that, believing he was protecting Vincent from himself and other females who might be interested in him, thereby denying Vincent’s sexual desires and needs.

* * *

A few months later, Vincent became very ill, starting with sleepless nights, restlessness, and even horrific nightmares. On one of those nights, an eighteen-year-old Vincent retired for the night, hoping to get a few hours’ sleep. After a few hours, exhaustion took him into a fitful sleep. Another nightmare…

After tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable, he found himself wandering in an unfamiliar cave. With no other exit or any real light, he could only move forward, and so he did.

Even though it was pitch dark, like the blackest ink, with his keen eyesight he was able to see around the cavern. He remembered Narcissa telling him that if he looked within, he could always see and know where he was. Realization took him, as he recognized the cave in which Narcissa found him at age ten.

Curious, he thought to himself, why am I here now, after so long? After a brief moment or two, he moved on. There was an eerie silence, which made the hairs on his neck stand up and a chill go down his spine.

“Vincent…” came a voice in the inky darkness.

Frozen on the spot, he looked around. His eyes glowed in the pitch black, which was the only light. With no lantern or flashlight, he saw nothing and no one.

The haunting voice came again. “Vincent… I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Who…are you?! What do you want?!” he growled.

“I want you…Vincent. I’ve been watching you for some time. The last eight years to be precise,” the unusually soft voice said. “I’ve seen you; I’ve felt your fear, your rage, even your… desires.”

“What are you talking about?” Vincent asked shakily, trying not to show the trepidation he felt. He was still trying to find the person behind the strange voice, yet, although not seeing anyone, he knew it was male.

“I have felt everything, Vincent. Don’t you feel me, too? Can’t you feel me inside you?”

“NOOOO…!!!” he roared in a denying response.

“DON’T! Don’t lie to me! You know that you have. You’ve felt my rage, too.” The voice became quieter as it spoke.

“When …was I supposed to have…felt you?” Vincent’s voice was trembling. “SHOW YOURSELF!!” he roared. “LET ME SEE YOU!!”

There was that eerie silence again, and he wanted to run, run anywhere, to get…it didn’t matter where. But his feet were stone; he couldn’t move.

The voice returned. He could feel it smirking at him as it spoke. “All in due time… All in due time.”

“Are you afraid to let me see you?” Vincent asked as bravely as he could.

“No…but you might be.” The voice was a smooth threat. “I want to ask you something, Vincent.”

He didn’t want to reply, still trying to digest this strange scene and maniacal voice while trying to regain his composure.

“Oh, come now, Vincent, just one question.” With no reply, he continued. “How did it feel to have Lisa so close, wanting to hold her smooth firm body…feeling your body respond to her dance? Have her brush herself so seductively against your groin…only to reject you?”

“How…how do you know about that?” Vincent was wide-eyed in shock, hearing the laughter coming from the cruel voice.

“Poor man-boy,” the voice mocked him.

Vincent was becoming sick and light-headed.

“Was she too much for you? You couldn’t handle that little tease. She played you!”

“NOOO!!” he screamed, holding his head, becoming feverish and dropping to his knees.

“You should have given her to me. We could have had so much fun. Too bad, maybe…”

“STOP…STOP…” Vincent roared with everything he had left in him. “Please!!”

“I can’t do that. Wherever you go, I’ll be, until the end. Oh, I almost forgot,” said the voice.

The cavern suddenly lit up with some kind of light source, for which there was no explanation. Vincent turned to see where it was coming from. Suddenly, a figure appeared in front of him. There was shock in Vincent’s eyes when he looked. He was terrified. His blood ran cold. He had been thinking it might be someone spoken of from his childhood, but it wasn’t who Narcissa warned him about.

“Hello, Vincent.”

The eyes looking back at Vincent left him chilled to the bone. He stared in disbelief.

“You belong to me, boy. You are mine… mine…mine…”

The shadow faded as he tried to grab at it before collapsing to the ground.

* * *

Vincent awoke from the dream unable to speak to Father or anyone.  He was feverish, enraged, uncontrollable. Knowing his medical history, they could give him nothing, only restrain him. They felt they had to protect the others and especially Vincent himself. It was all they could do.

What Father could only describe as a miracle was that Vincent survived as though nothing had happened. However, unbeknownst to everyone, including Father, Vincent was not fine or truly the same. He would not speak of it, or could not, but his inner balance had become fragile.

* * *

Years had passed since Lisa and her injury. Vincent was now a man, having put the past behind him as best as he could. Father was very glad that there were no more romantic entanglements with the women Below, which were ended if he had any way to stop it.

Vincent also wanted to forget and push down any emotional and physical feelings where attachments were concerned. However, he was afraid of another Lisa episode, which he definitely didn’t want. So, keeping things simple, he left the relationships with the women Below only as sisters. It was safer for all concerned.

Life doesn’t live in a vacuum, however, and it is never fair. It doesn’t have to be, as Vincent soon found out, and to Father’s chagrin. Life for Catherine and Vincent was anything but smooth, but destiny and fate always gets its way in the end. A force like a tornado or tsunami, as an immovable object against an unstoppable force. That was their relationship. Unstoppable… Despite all the hurdles and obstacles, try as they may to separate them, it was inevitable.

For the most part, Vincent was able to keep himself in check. There were other forces which had other ideas. These were detrimental to their relationship, and just as dangerous to both of them and their worlds.

There were those who tried to harm Catherine, people that she was investigating, and it was inevitable that she had to be rescued.

There was Paracelsus, who drugged Vincent, making him mad, hearing all the haunting voices of the people he’d killed, and Catherine saved him. Paracelsus also tried to get rid of Vincent by kidnapping Catherine. With their deaths, he could get back the world he helped create. Each time, thankfully, he failed.

Each time there was trouble, Vincent took care of it when others couldn’t.

The threats to the tunnels and, of course, Catherine, as always were on his mind and heart. The outside world Above with its violence brought it into the only home he had known. There was no other place for him, so he had to keep it safe. Unfortunately, outside forces from Above and Below threatened that safety, which wore on Vincent.

It started to affect him emotionally and physically, and Catherine feared for him. Despite the fact it was necessary at times, she saw the toll it had on him. Even Father and his friends noticed the strain he was under. They seemed powerless to stop it, however, so they comforted him and showed their love and support the only way they knew how to do.

There were many times when Vincent would hide himself for days on end. It was the only way he could cope with the pain – sitting in the dark, roaring and growling, until the pain and rage subsided. The only source of love and light seemed to be Catherine. He felt at peace in her love. She was his solid foundation that he could rely on when his family and friends weren’t enough. Life seemed easier, at least for a while, wrapped in her arms.

The voice and shadow always tormented Vincent’s mind, leaving him afraid to truly love Catherine the way he wanted and she truly deserved. It helped somewhat when he confessed that he injured Lisa and how, and that he could never love a woman with his hands for fear of hurting her, especially Catherine. Hurting or injuring her in any way would kill him, so he never went further than holding or hugging. There was a kiss on her temple, or the one time she kissed him on the lips after her father’s death.

* * *

Although he adored Catherine and loved her more than his own life, she couldn’t be with him every day. That seemed somehow impossible, and trouble always seemed to show up when they least expected or wanted it.

After everything, Paracelsus threw what he hoped would be the final blow.

* * *

After the failed attempt on Father’s life at Winterfest, hoping to blow him away and, in so doing, get rid of Vincent, too, if possible, Paracelsus plotted. His revenge wasn’t over yet. He had to drive a wedge between Vincent and Father, so deep it would destroy their relationship forever and he would win. Lying and twisting the truth were his weapons, and to wield them, he played his final card of deceit.

Vincent’s birth and his very existence had always been on Vincent’s mind, including his fear of female entanglements. Father always discouraged him, telling him it was too dangerous for him or any woman to have a relationship with him.

Paracelsus also knew of Vincent’s relationship with Catherine, knowing he loved her and that she loved him. The drugging, the kidnapping, were all ways to weaken Vincent. He realized now that the best way to destroy him was to distort his belief in how he was born. What better way than to tell him how he was born.

Paracelsus, however, didn’t know about the shadow voice; only Vincent could hear and see it, no one else did. Little did Paracelsus know it would work in his diabolical favor. All he wanted was Vincent, and if he couldn’t have him, then he would destroy his inner balance, his psyche. This way he could get Vincent to kill Father for him; thereby Vincent would be lost to everyone, including his precious Catherine and himself.

Paracelsus’ final victory was telling him that he ripped his way to being born, and said Anna was his mother, which meant John Pater (Paracelsus) was his father.

Outraged, Vincent confronted the man he believed to be Father for the truth of his parentage. Paracelsus’ constant badgering and maniacal tirade pushed Vincent’s fragile mind to the brink, saying, “Accept your vicious side! Accept who you are, a destroyer, a killer, powerful! Accept your true nature, not this weak human existence. Be the beast that you are!”

“NOOOOO!!” Vincent roared, covering his ears, trying desperately to get away from the darkness that threatened to smother him.

“YES! That’s who you are!” Paracelsus yelled over the roar so he could be heard.

Throwing him on the wooden table, Vincent slashed and ripped at him. Lost in his fury, lost to the darkness that consumed him, Vincent eviscerated him.

Coming to himself and seeing what had been done, John Pater removed his mask, revealing his true face. With blood coming from his mouth, he spoke almost sadly but calmly. “You… are…my… poss-ession,” he said, almost too softly for even Vincent’s keen hearing. Gasping for any bit of air, he said as loudly as he could, “Now… you are…my son.”

Those would be his last words, his revenge complete.

Looking up, Vincent saw Catherine with Jamie, both holding Father up on his weak legs. The man he thought he had just murdered. There was shock in Vincent’s eyes as he looked from Father to Paracelsus, back to Father, then saw the look on the women’s faces, from shock to concern for him. They stood in silent observation.

* * *

After bringing Vincent to his chamber, they cleaned him up, then they buried Paracelsus next to his wife in the catacombs.

Father suggested Catherine go home and get some rest, but she refused, saying she would stay as long as Vincent needed her. Relenting, Father nodded his assent slowly.

A catatonic Vincent sat on the bed, just staring into nothing, somewhere only he could see.

“It’s over now, it’s all right, you’re safe now, it’s over!” Catherine said softly, concern etched on her face.

Turning as if hearing an angel’s whisper, he looked her way. In a low, wrenching, and haunting voice, he answered her. “No! It’s not over!”

Chills went down her spine from his haunted reply and the helpless stare that returned to his beautiful, sad, leonine face. Her heart broke for him, and she sent all her love to him through their Bond, as well as telling him, “I love you, Vincent.”

* * *

Vincent was lost in a sea of darkness with no sense of direction.

“Hello, Vincent,” a low voice called to him. “Miss me?”

Looking, but not seeing, he just stared.

“I must say, you have certainly been busy. I’ve been watching you, as always, but I must admit you’ve even surprised me! My power has given you the strength you needed to kill those around you. The Outsiders, Erlick, and those spoiled, preppy rich boys who went after your new love.” The shadow smirked. “I’m so proud.”

“I’m a monster! A beast!” Vincent growled scornfully. “That’s what you made me into!”

“You are so much more than that,” the voice replied, “so much more!”

“What are you talking about!?” Vincent retorted angrily. His tears streamed down his cheeks.

The blackish-grey shadow moved toward him, coming face to face with a distraught Vincent. After turning to look over his shoulder into what seemed another chamber, the shadow faced him and grinned at him. “I see you have a new love in your life. Pretty girl, or should I say woman. I know you love her. I’ve felt your passion and desire for her. Unlike Lisa, the tease, this one really loves you. I’ve seen how in the last two years she’s protected your existence and the Tunnels.”

His voice was unusually soft and caring, which surprised Vincent. “STAY AWAY FROM HER!!” he screamed, though also pleading.

“Why don’t you introduce me? I’m sure she would be happy to meet me. After all, you and I are alike. I’m you, you’re me… I can make you, you know.”

“I’m… not… you,” Vincent replied, breathing heavily.

While this torment was going on in Vincent’s mind, conversing with his other self, no one could see or hear.

Father began to leave the chamber. Catherine was staying. “Call on the pipes if you need my help. Tap my name, and I’ll be here as quickly as I can.” Jacob shook his head sadly as he turned to leave. Pausing momentarily, he turned to face her. “I’ll send a message to your boss via Benny, letting them know you’re ill and won’t be in for a few days. You will be unavailable and unable to speak. That should be good for a while.”

“Thank you, Father,” Catherine responded, looking at him only briefly, not wanting to take her eyes off Vincent.

With Father finally gone, she sat next to her love, stroking him, letting him know she loved him, sending her love and strength through their Bond. “It’s all right, Vincent. You’ll get through this. You will. I love you so much. I won’t leave you. Come back to me!”

Vincent struggled to find his way back to her, with guilt, fear, and remorse for how he had treated her, growling at her, sending her away again, for fear of her seeing him fall apart, only to hurt her emotionally instead. Her love was so much stronger than his fear, and he thanked God she had come back. However, having seen the look on her face, as well as Jamie’s and Father’s, the man he thought he had just murdered, standing before him with confusion and concern in their eyes made him want to weep and run.

* * *

Now, as Catherine held him, comforting him…loving him through his struggle, she repeated her belief in him and their love, and that he would be okay. Though she believed it, she knew it would be a rough road back. She had to find a way to help him heal and help him realize that he was more than the beast he believed he was.

Rocking him and kissing his cheek and forehead, she continued to console him. She convinced him to lie down and rest. He tried to sleep a little, though it was fitful and uneasy, and he seemed to have a bad dream. While he slept, Catherine thought back to their argument in Vincent’s chamber the night before, when he growled at her, startling her momentarily as he sent her away. Thinking back, she saw the pain and fear as he came into his chamber, not asking but demanding that she leave him. Immediately!

“You must leave!” he insisted firmly.

“No!” replied Catherine anxiously, with a shocked look.

“Yes!”

“What did Father tell you?!” He didn’t answer her question, and she watched him pacing, not looking at her.

“Go back to your world. Go back to the life you once lived! Leave the memory of me behind!”

“Tell me what he said?” she asked, imploring him, taking his hands in hers. “I love you, Vincent; whatever it is, we can face it together!” Catherine had meant every word, then and now.

“You only know a part of me!” he said, pulling away from her.

“NO, Vincent! I love all of you!”

“How do you know that?! There’s a darkness inside me that you can’t even imagine!”

“Whatever Father said, it doesn’t matter! You haven’t changed. You’re still gentle and kind and strong!”

“NO! You and Father… you wouldn’t admit the truth even if it stood in front of you!”

While stunned at his words, Catherine knew he was in torment, and she had to make him listen…but he couldn’t or wouldn’t, not then.

“Look at me, Catherine! Look at me! What do you see?!”

With her heart, her Bond, and her very soul, she tried desperately to reach him.

“You’re the man that I love!” With conviction, she projected as much as she could through their Bond, begging to touch his soul. Inwardly, she pleaded for him to hear her love for him.

“There are no mirrors in this chamber…but there are mirrors in the soul, and I cannot live with what I see there.” Catherine came to comfort him, but froze instantly on the spot, when he rasped out, “Don’t…touch me!” Walking a few steps, he added tearfully, “It is not safe to love me, Catherine!”

Exhaling deeply, trying to gasp for breath, he said, “I…killed Anna! These hands ripped apart my mother’s flesh, tore me from her womb. I was born in blood.”

“NO! I don’t believe it.” Her face held shock, not believing what he had just said.

“Believe whatever you like, but leave me,” he said, turning away from her. She placed her hand on his back in a comforting gesture, and he turned and growled at her, starting her momentarily. With shock and a pained expression, she left.

“Don’t look back” was the last thing he said, watching her back when she exited his chamber. His own tears were running down his cheeks with regret at how he hurt the woman he swore he loved more than his own life.

* * *

Catherine had returned after he finally fell asleep. Now, hours later at almost dawn, she watched Vincent sleeping. Exhaustion was taking her, as well, even after Mary came with tea and a sandwich. Father had come briefly, as well, and then left to rest his own weary bones after Paracelsus’ assault.

Walking to the bed, she crawled in beside Vincent. She fell asleep in moments, her arm across his chest, her head cradled on his shoulder.

Several hours later, Vincent awoke from his restless sleep. Startled a moment, he turned to see Catherine sleeping in his arms, her arm across his chest. He tried to clear his head and get his bearings.

Catherine, sensing he was awake, looked up with a faint smile and concern on her beautiful face. “How do you feel, Love?” she asked softly, trying not to frighten him.

Looking around then at her, he tried to focus on his surroundings and the question.

“I’m… not sure,” he replied, not quite coherent. He felt light-headed as he tried to raise his head. Realizing she was still in his arms, yet not sure how she ended up there, he felt as if the last hours were a strange and frightful dream.

The look on Vincent’s face made Catherine wonder if he remembered anything from the night before. Thinking she should move so he could sit up and be more comfortable, she stroked his cheek lovingly and sat up. Suddenly, he grabbed her arm to forestall her movement. Pausing mid-way, she looked at him questioningly.

“Please, Catherine…please stay.” His eyes pleaded. “Don’t go.”

Surprised but pleased, she stayed in the bed, sitting next to him. As he sat up himself, he put his arms around her. He embraced her tightly and kissed the top of her head. She embraced him just as tightly, relishing the feel of him. She never wanted to let him go…ever.

“Catherine, I want to apologize to you for last night…Forgive me…please.”

“There is nothing to forgive, Vincent. You’ve been through a great ordeal,” she said sympathetically. “What Paracelsus said to you, it was a lie, Love, all of it. Paracelsus murdered his wife years ago because he felt Anna betrayed him by giving you to Father to raise. He became insane with jealousy and he took it out on Anna and then you. Anna was poisoned, Vincent. You never harmed her. She wasn’t your mother by birth.

“He was gradually poisoning you, too. The things he said about your birth even back when he kidnapped me were meant to destroy you and the only home you had. He wanted your dark side to harm those you loved, Vincent. He tried to destroy your humanity and turn you to hate those you loved, the Tunnel community, your friends, Father, and…” she paused, wondering if she should say herself, as well.

“And you, Catherine. My Love…”

He spoke so softly, she wasn’t sure she heard him say it.

“I love you, Catherine.” His unique mouth turned up at the corners and he softly kissed her lips.

His kiss was soft, and his lips, as well. He wasn’t like other men she had known, and it was infinitely tender. She returned the kiss with one of her own, careful not to frighten him, since it was so new.

Pulling back a bit, he continued to speak, needing to let his feelings out and let her know his thoughts about the last few days. “Catherine, I know we promised never to keep the truth from each other.”

“Yes, we did,” she replied.

“Catherine, you are my most precious possession. You are my heart, my breath.”

She smiled shyly. “And you are mine, always. You are my life. Without you there is nothing.”

They held tightly to each other, then pulled away slowly.

“I’m going to the kitchen and get you something to eat. Rest now, I’ll be back shortly.”

Nodding, he closed his eyes.

* * *

Catherine came back with two bowls of porridge and two cups of tea and fruit for both of them.

Vincent, asleep when she arrived, awoke from the smell of the herb tea and porridge. Rising to a sitting position, he smiled his enigmatic smile. “Smells great…I’m hungry.”

“Good,” she said with a smile. “You need to regain your strength.”

“I need to talk to you, Catherine. I need to explain what happened and what Paracelsus said before I…before I…killed him,” he said slowly, shaking his head.

Catherine raised her hand to his cheek. She could feel his pain and apprehension through their Bond, but she also knew he had to explain and express what he needed to, to make sense of the last day.

“All right, Love. You can tell me anything you wish. I promise to listen until you’re done.”

The meal was done, and as they sipped their tea, he tried to collect his thoughts. Where to begin?

Sitting across from him, she looked into his blue eyes, waiting patiently for him to begin.

“I’m trying to remember when this all started, the beginning of this darkness. Truly, I’m not sure exactly, I only know it could have started when I had my relationship with Lisa,” he paused, “…and maybe before that, with Devin. Either way, the darkness increased over time, with no way of controlling or understanding it. Even Father couldn’t really help because he was uncertain or even afraid of it himself.  I don’t know. Not knowing how to deal with it, I guess he chose to ignore it. Paracelsus must have felt there was something wrong or evil in me…to use it for his evil purposes.”

Shocked, she stared at Vincent in disbelief and jumped in to cut him off. “No, Vincent! How you could even think that? There is no evil in you. You are loving, kind, and compassionate. Paracelsus lied to you. There is darkness in all of us.”

He shook his head slowly and took her hands in his. “I know, Catherine. You said that the day I fought the Outsiders, when they threatened our home and you. When I killed Paracelsus, he said something before he died. I don’t know if you heard him then.”

“We had only just arrived at that moment. We didn’t hear all of it,” she replied gently, waiting.

Looking down at her hands, then at her face, he responded, “He said,’You’re my possession.’ Then, as he tried to speak louder, he said, ‘It’s all right, Vincent. Now… you are my son.’ I stared at him in shocked disbelief. First, for what I had done, and second, for what he said! When I saw you and Father standing there, my head spun and I went into an abyss of denial and pain. I lost myself in that abyss.”

“Oh, Vincent, you’ll be all right; you’ll get through this. I won’t leave you. I’ll help you through it, I promise you.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly, nearly taking the breath out of her lungs. They stayed that way until he slowly pulled away. “There is more I need to tell you.”

“Paracelsus can’t hurt us anymore, Love,” she said, trying to reassure him. “Everything will be all right now. Get some rest now. We can talk afterwards.”

After kissing him softly on his lips, she returned the dishes to the kitchen. On the way there, she decided to speak to Father. Her Bond with Vincent would let her know if he needed her.

* * *

Seeing Father at his desk reading one of his manuals, she could see his face – the swollen eyes, the split lip that hadn’t quite healed yet, and the tired expression, as well. He looked as though he hadn’t slept in days.

“Good morning, Catherine,” he said, trying to get out of his chair.

“Good morning, Father. Please, don’t get up. I just came to see you and talk.”

Father slumped back into his chair again hard, his tired and sore bones glad to be sitting down again.

“How are you feeling today?” she asked with concern. She’d come to love him like a father over the last few years, especially since the death of her own father.

“I’m still a bit sore, dear. These old bones aren’t what they used to be, but I’ll be fine. Thank you for asking. And how are you doing, dear Catherine?”

“I’m all right, Father. I was hoping we could talk about what happened to Vincent.”

“Of course, dear Catherine. Sit down, please, and I’ll do what I can to help.”

“Vincent told me what Paracelsus said to him about how he was born. I know it was all lies and a way to hurt him. You told me how Anna died, and I told Vincent, as well. He knows the truth now, too.”

“I’m glad he knows that he never harmed Anna, and that she wasn’t his birth mother,” replied Father.

“I am, too; however, he told me that Paracelsus had said something to him before he died. You and I didn’t hear it in all the chaos of that night.”

“What did he say? I only heard the words ‘my son.’ I was too stunned to hear anything more.”

Catherine thought for a moment. She wanted to be exact when saying the words. “Paracelsus said, ‘You’re my possession now,’ and then said, ‘It’s all right, Vincent, now you are my son.”

Father looked stricken, shaking his head slowly, his sad eyes tear-filled. “I should have pulled the trigger when I had the chance and killed him.”

“No, Father!”

“Yes! My poor son would not have had to soil his hands if I had had the guts to do it myself. Now what happens to my son after such an onslaught of trauma?”

“We will help him through this, Father. You, his friends, and I want to help. Vincent will know he is loved.”

“You have helped. You gave him a dream, and I am forever grateful, dearest Catherine. You saw him, truly saw him. You saw the beauty in my son.”

“Thank you, Father,” she said in a soft voice. “I love him very much. He is my life! There is nothing without him!”

Father smiled wanly, admiring the conviction of her love for his son. He was happy despite the current circumstances. He prayed inwardly that the situation would have a positive outcome, because he had come to love Catherine like a daughter.

“Get some rest, Father. Thank you for speaking with me. I’m going to see how Vincent is doing.” She turned to leave, then stopped. She walked back over to Father and hugged him, kissing his cheek, then walked out.

When walking back to Vincent’s chamber, Mary stopped her. “How are you doing, Cathy? How are you holding up?”

“I’m all right, Mary. I’m a bit tired, but otherwise, I’ll be fine. My concern now is Vincent and his well-being. It’s taken a toll on him physically and emotionally.”

“I know,” responded Mary. “I spoke with Jamie and then Father. They are very concerned for him. Father told me what happened to him by Paracelsus’ hand, but thank God, he will heal. So will Vincent, my dear. I brought you some soup and herb tea. There are some sandwiches, as well,” she said with a smile.

“Thank you, Mary. I meant to go and get something from the kitchen when I returned dishes from an earlier meal. I had just left Father and was on my way back to see if Vincent was awake. His sleep has been somewhat restless and fitful. He’s had some bad dreams. I feel he’s resting a bit better now.” Reaching through their Bond, she felt for him, hoping he was well.

After hugging Mary, she grabbing the tray and went toward Vincent’s chamber, while Mary returned to the nursery.

Catherine stepped in and noticed Vincent wasn’t in bed. Putting the tray on the large table, she searched for him. “Vincent?” she called out. Looking around the chamber, and not seeing him, she called out again. “Vincent? Where are you?”

Her fear and concern rose. She forced herself to calm her emotions and slow her heart rate and her breathing, focusing on their Bond. It had gotten stronger over time, and she used it now to find him. She seldom did this, as she wasn’t sure how strong it would be, but her love for Vincent made it so, as long as she stayed calm and focused on him. He was much better at it, but then he’d used it his entire life.

Slowly, she focused inward and sensed his direction. Trusting herself and her love, she followed where the Bond led. She walked to the Chamber of the Whispering Gallery, then the Chamber of the Falls. The Bond was stronger each time, but he wasn’t there. Patiently she moved forward. “I’ll find you, my Love,” she said to herself. Ever moving, she arrived at the Mirror Pool. Walking in, she noticed him crouched and staring into the pool, seeming at first unaware of her arrival. He was so intent on what he was looking at, he scarcely noticed her coming up and sitting beside him.

“Hi, Love. What are you looking at so intently? You didn’t even hear me come in.”

He continued to look into the Mirror Pool, staring at his reflection. When Catherine touched his arm gently, he looked at her in surprise. He looked at her as though he had not recognized her, then looked back to the dark pool in front of him. Moments passed before he turned his gaze in her direction. “I see you found me,” he said matter-of-factly, almost coldly.

Catherine, taken aback by his change in behavior, asked. “Are you all right? You left before I returned from speaking with Father. He is sore and bruised, but he’ll be well soon. When we talked, he said he wished that he had killed Paracelsus, so you didn’t have to. He said you shouldn’t have had to do it yourself and suffer at his hands and cruelty.”

Turning to look at her, his eyes sad, he replied, “What’s done is done. There’s no going back. John destroyed a lot of lives in his need for vengeance and power. It’s done and can’t be undone.” As he turned back to the pool, he asked, “How did you find me?”

“I used our Bond to find you. It’s changed, and stronger between us. I felt it grow since the death of my father. I quieted myself and was able to hear the vibrations, which helped me find you. I’ve been able to for some time now; I just needed to trust it as you do. You’ve lived with your ability for years. I’ve learned how to control it for only two years, but it is as strong as our love.”

“Your Bond is stronger, Catherine, and I felt it in you,” he replied, not looking at her.

“There is something wrong. I felt it. What is it, Vincent, can you tell me? What are you feeling?”

There was another long, eerie pause. She took his hands in hers, trying to look into his cobalt blue eyes. “Vincent, please! Look at me. I want to help you, I’m here for you. I love you with everything I am and could be. I know something is wrong.” Her pain for him was evident, as was her love. “I’m here for you …always!” Her one hand now on his chin, she tried to make him look at her.

When his face finally turned to face her, her heart almost stopped. His eyes, the most amazing blue, had become dark, almost black in color. “Vincent! Your eyes!” She stared at the man she loved. It was Vincent and yet not. Everything about him was who he was, but his eyes were like coal and lifeless.

“What’s the matter, Catherine?” He grinned at her.

Catherine stared at him, “I need to get Father. You need help! You’re not well yet. I need to…”

She started to go for help, but Vincent grabbed her arm, stopping her instantly. “No, Catherine. You need to stay here. I thought you said you love me.”

“I did! I do!” she stammered. “I will love you forever and always. Vincent, please, tell me what’s going on? You aren’t yourself! I’ve never seen you like this. Let me help you!”

“You want to help me? I know what you want. I’ve known for a long time now what you’ve wanted. I’ve felt your feelings, too, Catherine. I’ve felt your pain, your joy, your sadness, even your…desires.”

“Vincent! I…I want to help you to heal and get well. I’m not here for…” Knowing she wasn’t truthful, she couldn’t finish or look at him. The truth of her desire for him, for more in their relationship, was always there, being buried because she didn’t want him to be uncomfortable. The thought of him pushing her away out of fear terrified her, so she pushed her desire down, hoping maybe…someday…With what he had been through, however, it wasn’t the right time.

Unbeknownst to Catherine, as she tried to reason with him and figure out his strange behavior, she didn’t realize it was The Other, Vincent’s alter-ego dark side, talking to her. The Other’s voice was soft and sounded like Vincent, but his eyes gave him away.

“I know what I want, Catherine…I also know what Vincent has wanted for a long time, but has been too afraid to go through with it. I’ve been with him since he was born. I helped him to survive after his birth; otherwise he would have died.”

Stunned to be even having this conversation but powerless or unwilling to stop it, she needed to know who or what this was. Her heart racing, her mind like quick liquid fire, she spoke as though she was speaking to The Other and not her Love.

“You don’t know anything about what he wants or needs!”

“Oh, but I do know! I know very well what he wants and needs.” He smirked at her with a wicked grin. “I’ve known ever since his failure with Lisa, that wench. I was there at that failure, and Father didn’t help either.”

“What are you talking about? Father loves Vincent and only wants to protect him, that’s all.”

“That’s all… ahh,” he retorted. “That old man’s living in a dream world. He’s denied Vincent his very manhood, and his need for love with a woman, all his life. He was young and naive then, but he’s a grown man with desires and needs. Jacob never allowed that, and now, look where we are.”

Vincent was in a trance-like state as this strange conversation was happening. She could feel Vincent through their Bond, even though The Other was there, too.

The Other continued, “I’m not his enemy, girl, I’m his strength, his power, and his desire. Everything that makes him who he is. He’s afraid of that side of himself, what he calls his dark side. Every human being has it; it’s what makes you whole. He is out of balance because he fights what he thinks is darkness.”

Monitoring their Bond while the Other Vincent was giving his explanation of her Love, something resonated in what he was saying, and she knew there was truth in it. Convincing Vincent, however, that would have to wait to be seen.

Looking at The Other with a clinical expression, she said, “Go on.”

“Your love for him and his for you is strong between you. It’s powerful, and it’s the one thing that will heal his psyche and his physical body. You were right when you said we all carry this darkness. It’s also what keeps us alive as long as we control it. What he needs to understand is you can’t cut yourself in half. He’s trying to do that, and it’s going to kill him if he doesn’t accept his other half. Father was afraid of it, after his fight with Devin, and he’s had to deny himself, thereby denying you and your love and need for physical connection and union.”

“I love him with everything I am,” Catherine said with conviction. “I will until the day I die and beyond.” She had no fear of The Other, sensing he was a part of the man she loved, but she wanted Vincent back, to hold him and to love him.

“Give him back to me! Come back to me, Vincent! Please, Love, come back to me. Don’t leave me alone in the darkness of loneliness.” Tears streamed down her face.

She held on to her Love, holding him tightly, pouring all of her love, courage, and desire into their Bond. Pushing the darkness and The Other away from him.

Kissing his face, his neck, and then his lips, kissing him with such passion, The Other fled, and Vincent returned. She pulled away momentarily to look at his leonine face and those beautiful cobalt blue eyes. “Vincent! Ohhh, Vincent, my Love!” She continued kissing him non-stop. “You’ve come back to me!”

Lost in the intense emotion that enveloped him, he returned the kiss with the same passion and more. “Catherine! My beautiful Catherine!” He breathed her name softly, stopping a moment to catch his breath, as she did, as well.

Suddenly, as though coming out of a nightmare and walking into the light of sunshine, he grabbed her shoulders and looked around, confused. “Where…? How…?” Realizing he was at the Mirror Pool with Catherine, not knowing how he got there, he asked, “How did I get here? How did you find me? I don’t remember how I came to be here!”

She took his hand and tenderly caressed his cheek, consoling him. “I don’t know how you ended up here, or when. I only know when I came back to your chamber, you were gone.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

“I followed our Bond; it led me to you,” she said as calmly as she could.

“Our Bond led you here? I didn’t realize the strength of it.”

“Yes, Love. It’s that strong! Like when I was in California, and you saved me. I can now go inward and find you.” She smiled warmly. She hadn’t told him everything about The Other though, but knew she couldn’t keep it from him. But how to tell him.

He sensed that she had more to tell him about the last hour or so, but he, too, had to tell her what he was holding back.

Sitting quietly, just embracing each other, they tried to reflect on what had happened and how to go forward, discussing the last twelve or so hours. They jumped in at the same time, then smiled.

“You first, Vincent, please.” She waved her hand to indicate for him to go ahead.

He thought for a moment, trying to explain what he thought unexplainable. “I don’t know what to call it,” Vincent started, almost lamely. “It’s a thing…a vision…a beast. I don’t know what else to call it. It torments me, frightens me. It has for as long as I can remember. I wanted to talk to you about it earlier today, when you got back from the kitchen and Father. But I fell asleep and don’t remember anything after that.”

Collecting his thoughts and calming his breathing, he continued, “I don’t know what to call him, but he’s dark and evil. When he comes around, I lose control of myself, and then I hate what I am. I feel inhuman and the beast that Paracelsus said I am.” Tears started to fill his eyes and fall down his cheeks.

Catherine wanted to wipe them away and take his pain away. She knew, however, that he had to have his say and come to terms with who and what he believed he was. Once it seemed he was finished speaking, she asked, “Is there anything else you want to say, Love? Anything about The Other?”

His tear-filled eyes looked at her in shock. “How do you know that? That’s what he calls himself.”

Lifting her hand to caress his cheek and wipe the tears away, she smiled slowly. How to explain, she thought. Well, here goes. “When I found you here, you didn’t notice me; you only looked into the Mirror Pool. When I finally got your attention, you spoke to me, sadly at first, when I told you what Father said to me about Paracelsus. You said, ‘What’s done is done, and there’s no going back,’” she stated slowly, watching his expression.

“I remember… I also said he did it out of vengeance and power, to get what he wanted most – to destroy Father and me and regain control of the Tunnels he helped create.”

“Yes. After that, you seemed to disappear. You were talking to me, but it wasn’t you. It was The Other. He seemed to know about you and your life, about us.” She tried to tread carefully but truthfully. “He spoke to me about your childhood, your fight with Devin, and your painful relationship with Lisa. He knew of the preppy thugs, the Outsiders who attacked the Tunnels and killed your friends. He mentioned those you had to kill to protect your home and those you loved.”

Vincent flinched at all the things she was saying. And as he saw it, he was a monster, a beast. “How can you even look at me? How can you love me or want this?” he said with pain in his voice and eyes.

“You are the man I love, more than my life. Without you, there is nothing for me. You are my life, Love. There can be no other for me,” Catherine responded, hoping to reach him. “You are not a monster or a beast, Vincent. You are not like other men in appearance, yes, but you are very human and very male, and I love you. All of you.”

“I need to rid myself of him. He’s dangerous and evil,” Vincent replied desperately.

“No, Vincent! You mustn’t! What I found out when I spoke to him is…he’s not evil. Yes, he is your dark side and, if you remember, I told you there is darkness in all of us. The Indigenous have a story about two wolves, one dark, one of light. Your choice is which one you choose to feed.”

Vincent looked at her in puzzlement. “Choose to feed? What are you saying?” he asked, trying to understand.

“Our darkness is only half of ourselves; the light is the other. You are a loving, caring, and compassionate man. A man who loves me as much as I love you. You have ever only used the dark side, as you call it, to protect those you love – Father, the Tunnel community, and your home.”

“And you, Catherine.” He spoke softly in response to her statement.

“Yes…myself as well. The Other, as I said, isn’t your enemy. He gives you strength, your power, even your sexual desires to love fully with a woman. You deserve to be loved. You deserve everything, Vincent!”

“But Catherine, if I hurt you, it would kill me!”

“You won’t or couldn’t hurt me. I trust you with my life! Please believe that and in our love!” She paused briefly. “Can I ask you something, Vincent?”

“Yes, of course,” he said slowly, “You know you can ask me anything. Always.”

“All right then, do you trust me, Vincent?” she asked, looking into his beautiful eyes.

Taken aback by her question, by her even having to ask, he pulled her into his arms and responded firmly, “I trust you with my life and my heart, my beautiful Catherine.”

“Good! I’m glad to hear that. Now…will you do something for me, my Love?”

“Anything you wish and within my power to give, my Love.”

Looking around the Mirror Pool’s chamber, she smiled shyly, with a mischievous look on her face. Moving even closer to her beloved Vincent, she whispered in his ear, saying softly, “Make love to me, Darling.”

With only a moment’s hesitation, he looked into her emerald green eyes and was in a different kind of trance. It was the trance of the Bond, stronger than hate and fear. Trusting in their love and in Catherine, he kissed her passionately and scooped her up, carrying her back to his chamber.

Smiling widely, showing his rarely seen canines, he said, “Anything for my Beloved. You are my most precious possession, my Love, more priceless than all the gems in the Crystal Cavern and the stars in the sky.”

“And you are mine, my Love. Forever…”

It was the beginning of a new life together. They would walk together in times of darkness and in times of light.  The promise of someday fulfilled.

And so it begins…

1 Comment

  1. I always felt sorry for Vincent when he was tormented by his dark side. I couldn’t stand Paracelsus and his nasty plot, how he deceived Vincent, who doubted his humanity… and what I love so much about this story is Catherine’s determination to help him, her fight for him, and Vincent’s acceptance to love her, his permission. I also like Father because he became closer to Catherine and stopped separating them by saying that a happy life is not for them. He sees that Catherine is a cure for Vincent, a light in the darkness that engulfs him.This is a really engaging story, thank you!

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