SAFE HAVEN by Theresa A. Peppe

Hold me but safe again within the bond
Of one immortal look.

R. Browning (Eurydice to Orpheus)

     What a day!  Catherine's afternoon deposition had borne real
fruit for the DA's office when about midway through it Tommy
DiAngelo suddenly decided to change his story.  The result was
one that pleased her, Joe, and the trial attorney immensely, his
case now air tight.  But for Catherine it had also meant a late
night confirming the story and helping to set up a safe house.
Greg Hughs and his partner were with DiAngelo in hiding now, and
would remain so until after the trial, when he would disappear
from their lives into the witness protection program.
     It was past midnight when Catherine finally made it home,
weary and worn with the day's events.  She dropped her coat,
purse and briefcase on the floor and headed straight for the
bathroom, a hot shower uppermost in her thoughts, grateful that
the week was over -- she was actually toying with the idea of
doing absolutely no work at all this weekend.  She never noticed
the dark shadow on her balcony, and Vincent made no sound or
motion to draw her attention.
     He paced the small area restlessly, periodically glancing
into the darkened apartment; the only light there a thin strip
barely visible under the bathroom door.  But that changed as the
door opened and her bedroom flared into temporary illumination,
the sudden contrast abrupt and severe.  The door closed partially
behind her and it took only a fraction of a second for his eyes
to adjust to that new lighting, his gaze drawn inexorably to
Catherine as she moved to her closet and stood with her back to
him inspecting its contents.  She wore a thin cotton robe and had
a towel wrapped around her hair.  He almost thought he could see
the pearled beads of water along the back of her neck, and was
suddenly overcome with a parched dryness that urged him
yearningly to her.  He was filled with a terrible thirst which
craved a quenching he knew must be both denied and endured,
     Vincent's emotions had teetered on the edge all day, and
this thought was all it took to send them plummeting, grief and
confusion blending and coalescing within him.  He was helpless to
control that sudden strong surge and knew a second before she
whirled to face him that Catherine had felt it as well. 
Embarrassment and regret joined those other emotions and he
turned from her shocked gaze to lean against the balustrade and
stare out over the city, a chilly spring breeze adding to the
numbness he had felt building in him throughout the day.
    The doors opened behind him and Vincent felt Catherine's
silent presence at his back.  He waited for her inevitable
question, uncertain even now why he had come here tonight.  What
could he tell her when his own thoughts were such a jumbled
confusion?  He had expected the low tones of her voice, but
instead felt her tender touch, her hands coming to rest against
his back. Through his cloak, sweater, and thermal shirt, he felt
inexplicably warmed where she touched him, as if the heat of her
body was being shared with him through the slight contact of her
palms and fingers.
     He was usually so perceptive to emotions, both his own and
others', especially Catherine's, but today he had felt a
paralysis creeping over him, dulling his response to sensations
both internal and external.  That dullness began to recede at her
touch, the warmth it inspired blending with the pain that grew
out of the release of that benumbed state.  A groan was torn from
him as he turned and wrapped his arms about her, burying his face
in the damp curve of her throat.  The cotton fabric was thin
beneath his hands and despite his layers, he felt the softness of
her body against him. Normally he would have pulled away,
distancing himself from her warmth, but instead he drew her
closer and held her tighter, seeking that warmth with a feverish
     Catherine's hold tightened upon him, stunned amazement, fear
and a hazy pleasure at war within her at his fierce response.  He
was cold, as if he'd been waiting for her a long time.  Suddenly
she felt the soft silkiness of his lips press against her throat,
though she couldn't tell if that contact was intentional or not. 
Not that it mattered.  She was incapable of withholding her
response to that touch, her body shuddering uncontrollably in his
     Vincent did pull away from her then, shame filling him at
the inexplicably seductive intent his body pursued despite the
emotional turmoil raging within him.  He turned back to the
balustrade, leaning heavily against it and focusing all his
energy upon regaining the control that had been lost in the past
few minutes.  Suddenly her hands were upon him again and his
concentration scattered on the cold winds.  This time they were
not content to stay still, instead sliding about him to circle
the tensed muscles of his abdomen and chest.  A second later she
rested fully along his length, leaning her head upon his back and
holding him tightly to her.
     "Tell me, Vincent."
     A shudder coursed down him in a fluid wave as Catherine's
soft voice and tender touch joined within him to form a billowing
sensation of love and need.  It had shape and form now, this
need, drawn into sharp focus by her very presence.  He needed her
comforting touch, her healing words, her understanding heart. 
All of her...he needed all of her.
     "I want to, Catherine.  I need to..."
     His words trailed off, uncertainty filling him.  Her hands
and body left him then and he felt bereft, wanting her back,
needing her back.  He turned to look at her, confusion evident in
his expression.  He reached out to her, intending to pull her
back to him, then froze, amazement washing through him at the
aggressiveness of his behavior this night.  He knew then that he
had to leave, that his emotions were too raw and too close to the
surface tonight; he couldn't trust himself with her, not now. 
That grim introspection was interrupted by the sound of her voice
and the feel of her hands grasping his own.
     "You're cold.  Come inside, Vincent, and we'll talk."
     Catherine didn't wait for his response, instead turning for
the bedroom doors and drawing him after her.  Despite his
decision of a moment ago, Vincent followed instantly, some part
of him standing back in stunned astonishment at that action.  He
cast a glance filled with both fearful apprehension and yearning
towards her bed, but they passed it by, stopping only to shut off
the bathroom light before she led him into the living room. Once
there she tugged at the leather laces holding his cloak closed at
the throat.  The ties were hidden in folds of leather and wool,
and her fingers fumbled there for several long moments before his
hands rose to help her. She drew the loosened garment away from
him and pushed him down onto one of the small loveseats.
     Vincent watched her silently as she moved about the room. 
She laid his cloak across the back of the couch facing him then
turned to kneel in front of the fireplace.  The moonlight lowly
illuminated the room and he could easily see the wood and
kindling stacked there -- though it was mid-May, they'd had a
late spring, and the nights were still unusually cool.  She lit a
long match and ignited the shredded paper and kindling resting
under the larger pieces and a fire instantly sprang into life,
warm and beckoning.  He stared into it for a moment, lost in the
images brought forth by the flickering flames.  He saw Catherine
there, as she appeared in his dreams.
     He shook off those visions hastily and turned his attention
back to her. She still knelt by the fireplace, adding a few more
pieces of wood to the stack in mute concentration.  He drew in a
gasping breath at the image she presented.  She sat in profile to
him, and the fire cast an amber glow upon her, its radiant heat
reflected along the smooth line of her cheek and the slim pulsing
column of her throat.  It burned through the thinness of her
robe, the outline of her body beneath it plain to him now, the
soft curve of her breast, waist and hip drawing his avid gaze. 
His hands clenched into fists and he felt the tightness in his
chest spread quickly outward until it consumed his body entirely. 
He shut his eyes tight, willing the tension from him with all the
strength of their bond.  A moment later he felt a slight but
welcome lessening of that tension and opened his eyes.
     Catherine was gone.  He started in surprise, his gaze drawn
apprehensively towards her bedroom door.  A second later she
emerged, the towel gone and her damp hair now combed and falling
in a soft wave above her shoulders. She settled at his side and
drew him into her arms, pulling him to her insistently.  He
resisted momentarily, but her will was strong, her intent firm. 
He felt that strength and gave in, resting against her heavily,
his face pressed once more into the curve of her throat.
     Finally.  Catherine wrapped her arms around him tightly and
rocked her body almost imperceptibly against him, crooning lowly
in his ear.
     "It's all right.  Everything will be all right.  You're with
me now, Vincent.  I'll take care of you.  Always...I'll always be
here for you."
     Her words were soft, almost inaudible, but fierce in their
intensity, her commitment sure and uncompromising.  He felt it
all and gave in to her urgings, his arms wrapping about her to
nestle closer yet to her heat.
     "Oh, Catherine."
     The words were a soft, aching whisper, shuddering through
her with the force of his love.  She felt a myriad of emotions
from him, the bond opened wider to her than she had ever before
experienced it.  Beneath the overwhelming love he felt for her,
she found sorrow, desire, shame and an anguished confusion all
jumbled together.
     "What is it, Vincent?  You can tell me.  It's not Father is
it...or Mary?"
     She held her growing fear under a tight leash, determined
not to add to the tumult filling him.  He hurried to assure her
and she felt some of the tightness around her heart lessen at his
     "No.  Everyone Below is fine."
     He was silent for several long minutes and she wondered if
he would indeed be able to tell her about the confusion filling
him now.  She had never seen him so vulnerable before, except
perhaps during those times which inevitably followed the release
of that other nature.  That upset in the tight control Vincent
maintained, that shift in the balance, always drew his deepest
fears and insecurities to the surface.  Yet he never let her care
for him during those times, shielding her from his naked need in
an attempt to distance her from the terror he saw and felt within
himself then.  But not tonight. Tonight he had sought her out,
despite the fears and uncertainties washing through him.
     "Did something happen tonight, Vincent?"
     She couldn't go on, loathe to bring up this issue more
directly if it wasn't the cause of his confusion.  But Vincent
immediately understood and responded quietly.
     "No.  Not that."
     "What then?  Please, Vincent, tell me."
     Silence filled the room once again.  Catherine had almost
given up hope when his low whisper rumbled through her, the sound
vibrating against her skin.
     "Devin's been gone a month now."
     Devin?  This was about Devin?  Catherine cast her mind back
to that night at the carousel.  Father and Devin had finally
talked and come to an understanding.  Vincent had appeared
relaxed, even happy with that resolution.  He had told her he
didn't think Devin would stay, not for long, but that now he knew
he had a place to come home to.  And he had been right. Devin had
stayed for only a few days more, but they had been days filled
with lazy conversation and renewal.  Catherine had seen that
directly and indirectly, through Vincent's happiness during that
time.  Father's response had been precious, his typical
patriarchal air of authority slipping away at times, to be
replaced with a stunned disbelief in the presence of his two
sons, together again at last.  She couldn't recall any problems
at all during those days, nor during the weeks that followed. 
She hadn't seen Vincent in the last four days, but couldn't
imagine what could have occurred to cause this turmoil within him
now.  Her next question was spoken cautiously, tentatively.
     "Have you heard from him?"
     "Yes.  He's in Alaska.  Father and I have both received
     "Is everything going well for him there?"
     "Yes, fine.  He's working on a new oil delivery system and
although he didn't say it in so many words, I suspect Devin's new
career is in the field of petroleum engineering."
     The wry humor suddenly evident in Vincent's voice brought
forth an unladylike snort, his own chuckle following inevitably. 
She felt the tension ease in the muscles of his shoulders and
back, and loosened her hold somewhat when he pulled gently away
from her to straighten up at her side. He still cuddled close
though, and Catherine kept one arm about his back, the other hand
upon his chest.  She rested against him now, waiting for the
cadence of his heartbeat to slow to a strong, even pulse before
continuing their discussion. 
     "Does Father know?"
     "He suspects, but says little.  I think this is an area he
has decided not to inquire after, as long as Devin makes no more
forays into the medical field."
     The last words were spoken lightly, but she had felt his
tension increase again at the mention of the tunnel leader, and
knew that somehow they had reached the crux of Vincent's dilemma. 
Catherine hesitated a moment, then went on.
     "Father and Devin seem to be working things out now.  At the
farewell party both of them seemed quite content."
     Vincent's response was uttered softly, but he added nothing
to it, though Catherine waited several minutes.  Finally she
pressed the point.
     "Vincent, have you and Father had an argument concerning
     He stared into the flames intently, a tightness about his
face that belied the simple answer he had given.  She reached up
to cup his chin in her hand, turning him to face her.
     "Tell me, Vincent."
     The stiffness of his features vanished, sorrow and pain
evident in every line and muscle.
     "Father and Devin have worked things out, Catherine.  I
think everything will be all right between them now.  It's not's me."
     He was breathing harshly now, and suddenly his eyes filled
with tears. They spilled over to trace in wet furrows along his
silky cheeks.  He made no move to wipe them away and Catherine
found herself responding deeply. The combination of his virile
strength and naked vulnerability was profoundly masculine and
intensely appealing.  She wanted to hold him close, to comfort
and protect him from anyone who would ever offer him hurt.  She
wanted to kiss him and never stop.  She swallowed against the
dryness of her throat, dragging her thoughts away from that last,
compelling image.  Her thumb brushed along his cheekbone, easing
the tears away.  It took a massive effort not to taste the salty
wetness upon her hand.  She focused on him intently, urging him
through the bond and with her words.
     "What is it, Vincent?  You know you can tell me anything."
     Her words whispered out to him, the underlying request
unmistakable: 'Trust me.'
     He stared deeply into her eyes, seeing the promise and
acceptance there. He still found it hard to believe, but he
couldn't question her commitment. Catherine's loyalty to him and
to his world had been proven over and over again.  She had said
that she would never betray him, and he knew that it was true. 
Still, how could he tell her this?  How could he explain what he
himself did not understand?  He didn't know how he would do it,
only that he had to try.
     Without thought his hand reached up to cup the pouch which
contained her rose.  Catherine had given it to him last month, on
their first anniversary. She'd told him to hold the rose and
think of her, and know that she was thinking of him, always.  He
had done that today, at the Great Falls, while trying to make
sense of his tumultuous emotions.  Through the swirling
maelstrom, one thought rang pure and true; he needed to see
Catherine, to be with her now.  Only she could soothe his
troubled heart.  That memory gave him the strength to go on.
     "I went to speak to Father this morning, but he wasn't in
his study.  His journal was open on his desk, and Devin's letter
rested across it.  I leaned over it to study the postage.  I
never intended to read anything in the journal, Catherine.  I've
never done such a thing before in my life.  The letter covered
all but the last words.  He'd written 'At last I have my son
     Vincent stared into the fire, sorrow and guilt radiating off
him.  He swallowed hard, but continued.
     "I grew up with many children Below...  Pascal, Winslow, and
Rebecca; we were more than friends.  But it was different with different.  We fought and played together, dreamed
dreams together.  We told each other ghost stories in our chamber
late at night when we were supposed to be asleep.  When I was
little, I always trailed along after him.  When the others said I
was too young to play with them, Devin always spoke up for me,
always included me.  He was truly my big brother.  He still is."
     Catherine smiled tremulously through her tears, the image of
the brothers standing together in Father's study a month ago a
marked contrast to his words.  Vincent exceeded Devin both in
height and breadth now, yet she could plainly hear Devin's
teasing comments, the phrase 'little brother' rolling fondly and
easily off his tongue without thought.
     "And he always will be, Vincent.  Anyone who saw and heard
you two together would know that."
     Vincent was silent.  She knew where his thoughts had once
again turned. She could hear his voice speaking the words
clearly, just as she'd heard them a moment ago; 'At last I have
my son back.'
     "Vincent, it's only natural that you should have mixed
feelings about this news.  It's only human..."
     "No, Catherine."
     He interrupted her, his voice harsh.
     "I love Devin.  And I hate how I feel now.  How could I feel
this way?  How?!"
     He left her side and began to pace furiously about the small
enclosed space of her living room, the sight of him incongruous
in that setting.  Catherine concentrated fiercely on the bond,
attempting to 'feel' him as he always did her.  Suddenly
understanding flared within her, flooding her being.  She felt
what he felt, and she knew its source.  That flash of insight had
also told her clearly that Vincent did not yet see this, was too
close to see it, that he had buried those memories deeply, for
his own protection, years ago. She spoke softly, gently,
certainty filling her.
     "You were alone, Vincent, abandoned.  Then they found you
and you brought them hope...hope that dreams can come true.  They
loved you, Vincent, all of them, but especially Father.  Still,
you were alone.  No one else was like you, and you had to see
that, to feel that.  You didn't have your mother to nourish and
nurture you.  There were so many that were there for you in her
place, but I know it wasn't the same."
     He had stopped his pacing now and stared down at her,
astonishment clear in his gaze.  Catherine continued on, sure
that this was the right thing to do.
     "Jacob Wells was 'Father' to everyone, but to you he was
more.  He is truly your father, you know that, Vincent.  You are
the child of his heart as surely as Devin is the child of his
body.  It's obvious in his care and concern for you...especially
in his protective zeal."
     These last words were uttered wryly and Vincent blushed as
her meaning made itself plain along their bond.  A sudden image
flared before him of he and Catherine reading together in his
chamber several days after Devin had left. He had been curled up
in his usual spot upon the bed while Catherine sat in his large
chair, a favorite book nestled in her small hands.  She had
pulled her chair close to the bed to rest her feet upon the edge
of the mattress and without thought he had picked up one
stocking-clad foot and begun to knead and massage the tired
muscles he'd felt from her throughout the day. Father had come
in, and seeing them thus had somehow, despite their best
intentions, managed to end their evening early.  Vincent was
chagrined to realize that Catherine had seen beyond his father's
reasoned request for assistance.  He clearly felt her thoughts
now concerning that incident, as he hadn't then;
meddling...interfering...  Catherine knew Father had
intentionally separated them that evening.
     "He worries, Catherine, as any father would, considering the
special circumstances surrounding my existence."
     Her mouth softened at his words, her eyes gazing up at him
in adoration. He couldn't resist their silent appeal and sat back
at her side, pulling her close once again.
     "Yes, Vincent, as any father would.  Though perhaps another
time we might discuss this particular topic in a little more
detail.  After all, Vincent, you're no longer a child."
     The hand upon his chest stroked him lightly and he felt his
muscles tighten in response, his body tingling deliciously at her
tender touch.  Yet the words spoken a moment before still
reverberated in his head, holding him captive to the tumultuous
emotions within him.  Sorrow filled him, heavy and deep, as the
truth of all that was said and unsaid this night surrounded him.
     "Devin is Father's real son, Catherine.  He didn't know that
when he most needed it.  Father lavished attention and care on
me, often at Devin's expense.  I was angry with Father for that,
we discussed it when Devin first returned.  That's when I learned
the truth.  I was angry at Father for his treatment of Devin
then, and yet now..."
     She felt a twisting pain through the bond, flinching in
response.  Vincent immediately felt her reaction and his distress
increased, knowing that her anguish was a reflection of his own,
but unable to end it.
     "I'm ashamed, Catherine.  Devin was older than I, he saw
that difference, and yet he always took care of me.  He always
loved me."
     Tears welled up and spilled over again, his sorrow
     "How can I possibly begrudge Devin what he lacked as a boy? 
I loved him then and I love him now, yet I envy him, and I'm
     Vincent leaned back against the couch, his hands rubbing the
tears away, though they would not be stopped.
     "Fathers and sons."
     Catherine murmured lowly, almost inaudibly, then rose to her
knees beside him.  She gently pulled his hands away and without
thought covered his face with warm kisses, the salty taste she
had earlier craved a balm to her aching heart.  She felt a motion
beneath her and knew he was gathering his strength to pull away
from her, from her intimate touch, but she reacted first,
stopping that retreat.  She wrapped her arms around him and
tugged him forward until his cheek rested against the soft swell
of her bosom.  She felt his denial and resistance, but held him
there tightly, determined to give him this comfort.
     "Please, Vincent.  Please."
     Catherine's soft words wove their way through his turmoil
and he froze against her, the fluttering of her heart plain to
him.  He could clearly feel the soft curves and firm peak of her
breast beneath the thin cotton of her robe, the sensation
tantalizing and seductive.  His anxiety and grief were still
there, but so too was his need for this comfort.  They warred
within him, but her pleading words tipped the scale.  A shudder
swept down his length and he collapsed against her, his arms
circling her and holding her tight.  His face turned in to the
softness of her breasts, brushing against their satiny curves. 
He drew in the sweetly seductive scent coming from the warm
hollow between them and gasped at the response it roused in him. 
Still, his sorrow overwhelmed all else, his thoughts and words
naked in their stark grief.
     "I know Father loves me, that Devin and all the others Below
love me too. But I am alone.  I'll never know what came before
me, and I'll leave nothing behind when I'm gone."
     Catherine couldn't stop her own tears then as waves of
fatigued distress rolled through him to her.  She concentrated
fiercely on the bond, willing his pain to her and releasing it in
turn until she felt a path clearing between them, his hurt and
sorrow easing.  Finally she could sense his growing relaxation
through the bond.  She hummed to him lowly, an almost
imperceptible rhythmic motion between them.  His weight grew
heavier against her, the bond growing still and calm.
     When she was certain that he was asleep she leaned back to
rest against the padded arm of the couch, pulling him along with
her.  His body half reclined along hers, his cheek still pressed
against her breasts.  She unfolded her legs and slipped them over
the curve of his lap, turning toward him until they cuddled
close, their limbs entwined.  The luxury of holding him thus
overwhelmed her, all her senses focused on the touch of him along
her length and the warmly relaxed waves now vibrating through
their bond.
     "You're wrong, Vincent."  Her words were a low whisper, the
thought meant for his heart alone.  "I love you too, and I
promise you this; you'll never be alone again.  Never."
     She gave in to the lethargy swirling about the bond then,
sinking into its welcoming depths.  In the midst of that hazy
pleasure a vision appeared before her; an infant Vincent suckling
at his mother's breast, her image Madonna-like in Catherine's
mind.  That picture changed abruptly to match hers and Vincent's
pose on the couch, only in this fantasy her breasts were bared to
him and he suckled upon her hungrily, greedily, his desire clear
to them both.  She felt the dizzying clutch of her muscles, the
tightening of her womb at that sensuous image, holding him
tighter yet against her and wishing he would take all that she
offered  But she knew that now was not the time.  The image
before her changed yet again, the infant back once more, only
this time Catherine remained, and she knew instinctively that
this was not Vincent, but his child...their child.
     The vision of their son at her breast lingered on and she
felt herself drawn within it.  They sat in a rocking chair in
Vincent's chamber, candlelight glowing softly about them.  She
wore a soft tunnel gown, with a hand-embroidered shawl around her
shoulders which draped over her other breast.  Somehow Catherine
knew that Mary had made the shawl especially for her.
     She felt the solid weight of the child in her arms, his
tiny, clefted mouth suckling upon her.  His small fingers grasped
and kneaded her breast and she saw the beginnings of what would
someday be sharp-tipped nails.  The strength of his suction
surprised her, and though she had never experienced it before,
she could swear she felt the milk flowing from her to him, his
pleasure and her own a palpable wave between them.  He blinked up
at her sleepily and Catherine saw Vincent's eyes, blue and deep. 
She sighed in joy, a contentment filling her that she had never
before imagined.
     Suddenly a shadow fell across her.  She looked up and
Vincent was there, in the chamber with them.  He filled the
entrance, an imposing figure in work clothes and a warm vest, his
cloak nowhere in sight.  The look in his eyes made her heart
melt, his emotions plain for all to see; pride, desire and a
fierce protectiveness, all overlaid by a deep and abiding love,
and yes, perhaps yet a touch of disbelief that the treasures
before him were indeed his.  She gazed up at him in adoration,
her eyes limpid pools that spoke directly to him through their
     Long minutes passed in still silence, their bond humming
sweetly between them.  Finally he entered the chamber.  He moved
slowly, his eyes never leaving hers, until he stood at her side. 
He reached to gently stroke the baby's silky curls, his fingers
drifting down to softly caress the downy cheek.  The tips of his
sharp nails brushed tantalizingly along the rounded curve of her
breast in passing, the caress hers as well.
     His hand stilled upon them as he leaned down to her, his
intent plain.  His lips met hers in a sweet kiss that filled her
with both satisfaction and longing.  An eternity passed as they
shared that delight, then finally, regretfully, he left her lips
to press a tender benediction upon their son's head, sinking to
his knees before her.  Catherine sighed softly at that compelling
image, but it turned into a low moan as his lips moved from there
to rest warmly against the soft curve of her breast near the
fragrant hollow.  He nuzzled sweetly there for a few moments
before his left hand slipped beneath the shawl to tenderly caress
her right breast, the silken globe taut and full with milk, the
nipple puckered and firm.
     Vincent paused then, but his hesitation lasted only for a
moment.  He pushed the shawl aside to bare her flesh to the cool
tunnel air and her nipple tightened even more in response.  His
hand cupped her gently, the sharp nails kneading lightly,
sensuously against her.  With that slight pressure, her milk let
down and they both watched as a thin rivulet traced its way down
her breast until it was caught by the curve of his hand upon her.
     His gaze fixed upon that erotic sight and he shifted his
position toward that beckoning flesh.  Their son still suckled
contentedly at her left breast, and she saw that Vincent had
moved his right hand down to firmly hold him against her body. 
Her concerns thus satisfied, Catherine turned her attention back
to where he was inexorably drawn.
     She held her breath as his tongue flicked out to lap against
the curve of his hand, where her milk had caught and held.  He
moved upward slowly, tracing the wet line and drawing in her
sweetness with a sensuous thoroughness that left her panting. 
Finally he reached her straining nipple and his mouth enclosed
her.  The slightest pressure of his mouth drew her milk and he
drank thirstily, his motions blending with those of the babe to
fill her completely with love and longing.
     A minute later she cried out when he drew away.  But he
would not be stopped.  He looked up at her, his eyes filled with
an equal measure of desire and regret.  He leaned forward once
more to tenderly kiss her turgid nipple, murmuring against her
sensitized flesh.
     "For our son."
     He moved to kiss the child once more, and Catherine giggled
in delight when she heard his soft whisper.
     "But remember, Jacob, whatever you don't finish is for
     He looked up at her and all teasing was suddenly gone, his
eyes alight with a tender yet fierce glow.
     "I love you, Catherine."
     The image began to fade then, his last words echoing through
her clearly.
     Suddenly she woke and found herself once again in her
apartment, Vincent still asleep against her.  The dream would not
leave her though, their position on the couch a dramatic reminder
of it.  Her robe had pulled open somewhat, the inner curves of
her breasts now bared.  Vincent nuzzled against the soft hollow
and Catherine had an almost irresistible urge to turn toward him
just a little more so that his mouth could find her nipple. But
of course she didn't.
     She sighed heavily and let the dream replay before her eyes,
joy radiating through her in vibrant waves as the certainty of
that vision filled her. Oh, how she wanted him; wanted to be by
his side forever, wanted to wake with him in the morning, wanted
his hard, muscled strength each night.  She wanted his children
with an aching need that was irresistible to her, though she kept
that wish tightly hidden from him, knowing he was not yet ready
to accept such a foreign concept.
     But he would.  Someday he would take all that she offered,
and give everything in return.  She was certain of that in the
deepest part of herself.  She held that certainty tightly to her
heart, keeping the joy buried deep within until it was ready to
come forth in full, glorious bloom. Soon, she vowed, the child's
image clear in her mind's eye...soon.
     Suddenly Catherine noticed a taut stillness in the muscled
shoulders beneath her hands and she knew Vincent was awake.  He
drew in a shuddering breath and pulled away from her to sit up in
the center of the small couch. The fire was still lit, but
barely, flickering tongues flaring occasionally amidst the
remaining embers.  He gazed into those flames for a few minutes,
then finally turned to face her.
     She still reclined languidly against the padded arm of the
couch, her legs over his lap, but had pulled the edges of her
robe together for the sake of his modesty.  Their eyes met and
she saw hesitation and confusion within those blue depths, yet
somehow it was different than what had been there before he fell
     A moment later he reached to help her into a sitting
position.  Catherine sighed resignedly and began to swing her
legs down to the floor, but he stopped her, instead lifting her
onto his lap entirely.  He wrapped his arms around her, pulled
her close and buried his face against her neck.  This time, when
she felt the tentative press of his lips there, she knew it was
no accident.  A shiver flowed through her in response and she
hugged him tightly to her.
     "How do you feel now, Vincent?"
     He paused before answering, as if searching within himself.
     "Better.  I always feel better when I'm with you,
     His quiet words rippled through her and she tightened her
arms about him at their poignancy.  In came upon her suddenly,
and she accepted it without question: Vincent knew of the dream,
had shared it with her!  Something in his words, in the tone of
his voice and expression in his eyes, in the way he reacted upon
waking, told her it was so.  All little things, nothing in and
off itself, but taken in total the meaning became greater than
the sum of its parts.  She had no real proof, yet somehow she
knew that it was true.
     That knowledge held her in stunned silence for several
minutes, and he made no move to break that stillness.  And just
as the truth had flared within her a moment ago, she knew too
that he was not yet ready to discuss that vision with her.  She
knew that simple dream would not be enough to banish the fears of
a lifetime, yet maybe, just maybe it would begin the process.
Vincent needed her comfort and healing tonight.  He had come to
her and stayed, when but days before that same level of intimacy
would have driven him away.  Perhaps the dream, despite the
anxiety it would no doubt inspire, might also bring hope to his
aching heart.  She needed to give him that, needed to give him
some assurance without bringing forth those images directly.
     "Vincent...did you hear me, just before you fell asleep?"
     "He shook his head, a wary question in his eyes."
     "You told me that you know everyone Below loves you, but
that you're still alone.  Do you remember?"
     He nodded slowly, the sorrow that had been there before not
yet entirely gone.  She leaned to whisper her next words in his
     "Never forget that I love you too.  I won't let you be alone
again, Vincent.  I promise."
     Catherine pulled back to look in his eyes, and they were
aglow with the same fierce tenderness she had seen at the end of
their dream.  She blinked rapidly at the sudden resurgence of
emotion that look inspired, desperate to calm the frantic beating
of her heart.  A surge of power flowed over her, instilling a
deep peace within her and she drew in a ragged breath in
response.  It had come from Vincent.
     He sat quietly before her, neither acknowledging nor denying
his action. His gaze was pinned inexorably upon her, as if he
knew she wasn't yet finished.  She drew in a deep breath, needing
to give him the hope of their dream, without the fear she knew
went inevitably with it for him.
     "You are many things to your family Below, Vincent; brother,
son, friend, teacher and protector.  For that alone your memory
will live on.  But you mean more than that to them.  When you
were a child, you represented hope for their survival, for the
existence of their dream in all its newness and fragility.  Now
you stand for the deepening of that dream, for the endurance of
     She paused, needed to put into words his place in her
life...their place together.
     "What you are to them, you are to me, and yet so much more. 
Don't you see? Now, together, we stand for them, for this new
dream...for love.  For all the hope and potential it represents. 
Our dream will endure, Vincent.  It will fill the world Below and
light the way for many who falter or doubt. We will be remembered
for our love, long after we are gone.  Believe me, my love, I
know it's true."
     He stared deep into her eyes, the certainty she felt within
herself suddenly reflected in his azure depths, the color
darkening inexplicably as she watched.
     It was only one word, but it rumbled through her, sending a
languorous shiver down to her very toes, his voice seductive and
low.  He pulled her close and held her tight, his embrace telling
her what he could not say.
     He was a man comfortable with his emotions for others,
constantly showing his affections with a warm touch or hug, with
the filial kisses he so often pressed upon his father's brow. 
She had heard him tell the children often of his love for them,
no hesitancy evidenced in his words or actions.  Yet for her,
whom he loved with a love beyond all others, it was altogether
     Catherine knew how he dreaded the thought that he might bind
her to him, to a life of shadow and earth, the brilliance of her
sun replaced by the pale flicker of candlelight.  She knew he
loved her; it was in his every touch, word and glance. and yet he
would not say the words to her, not directly, determined that she
be given every opportunity to make her own choice, away from him
if that was her destiny.  She knew that, and so took what he
could offer, holding him close, assuring him with her words, her
touch and the strength of their bond that she loved him, that she
always would, knowing that someday he would finally believe and
accept her choice.
     They held tight to each other for what seemed like an
eternity, their emotions blending together through the bond to
surround and fortify them with the strength they would need for
when once again they were parted.
     Finally Vincent pulled away from her, their eyes instantly
meeting, their connection unbroken.  It was several long minutes
before he broke their gaze, glancing out over the balcony to
appraise the darkness there.  His words whispered out, borne on a
     "It will be light soon, Catherine.  I must go."
     His regret was plain, yet even she could see the lifting of
the dark, and knew it must be very late indeed, much later than
he would normally risk Above.  She sighed with resignation.
     "I know."
     She began to rise from his lap, but instead his hold upon
her tightened, surprising her with that action.  He stood then,
lifting her in his arms as if her weight were nothing, and held
her for several minutes more, loathe to let her go.  Finally he
set her on her feet and reached for his cloak.  He drew it on and
they moved towards the balcony doors, his arm once more about her
     Once outside they stared out over the city, the artificial
lights growing dim before them with the approaching dawn. 
Vincent sighed and pulled the hood of his cloak up over his head,
hiding his face in deep shadows.  He turned as if to leave her,
then paused.
     "Catherine, what will you be doing today?"
     The question was spoken softly, tentatively, as if he'd
never meant to ask.
     "Nothing special.  It's been a long week, I don't feel like
doing any work at all."
     "Come Below then.  Spend the day with us...with me. 
     She felt tears spring up and blinked them away rapidly. 
Vincent almost always phrased his invitations Below in terms of
the others; how the children wanted to see her, that William had
baked a special treat and mentioned that he thought she would
like it, anything rather than the simple truth that he wanted her
there, by his side in his world.  And this invitation was
especially significant given the events of the last few hours. 
She smiled tremulously, happiness coursing through her.
     "I can be ready in half an hour.  Will you wait for me at
the threshold?"
     "It's early yet, Catherine.  You should get some more
     "I'm not tired.  What I really want is to be with you. 
Please, Vincent?"
     "All right.  You can always take a nap in the afternoon if
you like -- it will be a quiet day Below."
     At his last words the stillness encompassing her disappeared
and she threw herself into his arms, hugging him tight.  And
though they would be separated for less than an hour, Vincent
found himself unable to let her go for several long minutes.
     Finally he began to loosen his hold on her, then stopped,
pulling her close once more.  She felt a stillness in him and
waited expectantly, wondering what he could be thinking of.  When
he spoke his voice was a husky rasp against her ear, quivering
with emotion.
     "I love you, Catherine."
     He didn't wait for her response, but quickly left her.
     She didn't know how long she stood on the balcony, her eyes
closed, his words reverberating through her.  The dream...with
the speaking of those words he told her clearly that he had seen
that vision with her.  Her heart soared and finally her stillness
ended as she spun around gleefully, hugging her arms tightly
about herself.  She stopped suddenly and sent a message out
through the growing dawn.  The words were a mere whisper in the
night, but they rang through their bond pure and true.
     "I love you, Vincent...I love you."
     In a darkened alley, hidden among shadows, Vincent paused
and turned towards her, silent and still.  Love and light filled
his entire being, a sunrise more spectacular than the one now
making its presence known to the east.  Finally he turned and
headed Below.  He had an appointment with destiny, and he had no
intention of missing it.

The End

About the Author:

This story is an episode expansion to 'Promises of Someday', a
first season episode, aired immediately following 'Temptation',
the story of Catherine and Vincent's first anniversary.  It was
published in Joyce Fuller Kleikamp and Leslie Hunten's award
winning Bondstories anthology, issue IX.  It is reproduced here
with their permission.  I've also published 'Checkmate' (an adult
short story/novella, nominated in the 1995 fan survey in the best
short story category) in issue XIII and stories in every issue of
the quarterly fanzine 'Soulmates, A Neverending Dream' (SND -
Teri Milliman and Barbara Hill).  'Your Pain Is My Pain - Part
IV', a six-part story published in SND, won third place in the
1995 LA con's fan survey for best short story.  My adult novella
(101 pages), 'The Quickening', was published by Lynette Combs in
a special edition of her 'O Sweetest Song' publication last
summer.  I'm currently finishing another short story for the Jan.
issue of SND (an episode expansion to 'When The Blue Bird Sings',
tentatively titled 'A Blue Bird's Tale') and am slowly but surely
working towards the completion of an adult novella/zine called
'Scars', which I hope to make available sometime during the first
half of 1996.  I will also be publishing an expanded, full zine
version of 'Your Pain Is My Pain', and hope to have it ready at
or shortly after the Con in Norfolk this summer.  For more
information, e-mail:

or write:

Teri Peppe
2414 Logan Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN  55411