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Courage and Care


A BatB "SND" Story


Part Four



     Vincent moved quietly back into his chamber. Mary had fallen asleep in the chair. He draped a blanket over her and then kissed his sleeping child. He took his journal from the table and walked back out into the tunnel. He would find a quiet place to write.

     “My Dearest Catherine, I visited your grave tonight. It has been so long since I’ve been Above but somehow on this night I’ve been Above twice. I know not what has pulled me back into your World. Only that it was a feeling I couldn’t deny. I fear that you are slipping away from my memory, and I won’t let that happen. Father believes it will be the only way for me to heal. Yet I find that I don’t want to heal if it means losing my dreams at night. You come to me and tell me that you are safe. You watch over Jacob, and you smile at me. And sometimes, my dearest Catherine, I dream of the time when we were alone together. I have remembered most of that night. I know that I didn’t hurt you, as I had feared for so long. Tomorrow I will talk with our son about a visit to your grave. He needs to say goodbye as I now know I must also. Sleep well, Catherine, sleep well.”

*   *   *   *   *


     There was no one there. She still felt something. Then she realized where she was. The cemetery. The moonlight shone upon a single rose lying on a grave. She walked to it. Not just any grave – her grave. She shivered in the cool air. “Vincent!” she whispered. “You were here!” She put the rose to her cheek. Oh, to feel something that he had recently touched.

     As uncontrollable sobs racked her body, she collapsed to the ground in grief. She pounded on the earth. “No!” She cried. “No! Vincent, I’m alive! I feel as if all the strength I had is slipping away.” Through her tears of sorrow, she heard the words he had spoken to her long ago. The day he helped her return to her world after her assault.

     “What you endured will make you stronger. You have the strength, Catherine, you do. I know you.”

     She could hear those words as distinct as if he was standing before her. “I’ve endured so much, Vincent. Ten years of being apart from you. From you and from our son. I don’t feel stronger. Not without you.”

     She finally collected herself enough to head back toward the brownstone. Never would she consider it her home. The streets looked even darker and more desolate. No one lurked in the shadows. As she was preparing to cross the street to her brownstone, she realized that there was a tunnel entrance from the alleyway. She’d used it once many years before. Would it still be there?

     “Cathy!” Joe’s voice broke the silence of the night. He came outside. She saw the anxiety in his features and knew that it was time to go inside. She moved across to him and let him help her up the stairs. “I’m sorry,” he whispered to her.

     “He was there, Joe,” she told him as she held up the rose. “He’d been to my grave.” She shivered. “He was gone when I got there.” Her friend embraced her as she cried.

*   *   *   *   *


     “You didn’t sleep well,” Father began when Vincent entered the library. “I saw your shadow pacing.” The other man sighed and removed a book from the stand. “Thoughts of Catherine troubling you?”

     The man’s blue eyes met his father’s. “Father, for just a moment last night I felt her. Just as if the Bond had returned.”

     “Wishful thinking, my son.”

      “The ache in my heart is so painful.”

     Father moved to where Vincent stood and put his hands on his shoulders. “I know how much you loved her, son. I also know how you resisted her pleas for her to move Below – to be with you. And how much guilt you’ve felt by denying her that. Thinking for so long that if only you had brought her here, she might still be safe.”

     “Father, I hear all of our past conversations running through my mind. In those, I agree to her request.”

     “And you live happily ever after?” Father asked.

     “Yes.”

     “We all see Catherine every day, Vincent. In Jacob.” He paused for a moment. “I know I’ve been hard on you, son. Fighting your will to be close to where she lies. Urging you to consider yourself when I should know by now that you can never hold such selfish thoughts. Forgive an old man, then, his worries.”

     “Father, what am I to do? If I am to move forward and be a better parent to Jacob, I too must tell her goodbye. I don’t know how.”

     “You’ll find a way.” Father placed a kiss on his son’s forehead.

*   *   *   *   *


     Sirens woke her. She was disoriented upon waking. Then she realized that she was back in New York. She got up and went to the window. It all came back to her – the love she’d had for the city of her birth. She threw the window open and took in the sights and smells. The bedside clock showed that she’d slept through breakfast.

     After a shower she headed downstairs to the living area. There was a note on the table from Joe. He’d gone out for awhile. He wanted her to stay in the house until he returned. He even had written a joke hoping to cheer her. In spite of her loneliness, she smiled.

*   *   *   *   *


     Joe spent most of his time that day tying up some of the loose ends he’d told Cathy about. Making sure that the entire organization responsible for her kidnapping and false death wouldn’t be a threat to her happiness anymore. Several had been killed. The rest were behind bars. And the man responsible for it all? He was presumed dead. It had taken many years to prove that he had really perished. One of the many reasons Cathy had been secluded for ten years. Then six months ago the skeletal remains had turned up. Dental records matched. Six months of making sure all the facts were accurate.

     “So how do we do this?” Joe stared at the man asking the question. “Press conference?”

     “I’m still uneasy about that,” Joe answered. “I don’t think there’s any reason to broadcast the news that Cathy Chandler is very much alive.”

     “You’re concerned that someone is still out there.” It was a statement.

     “You know as well as I do that it’s still a possibility. Besides she’s certainly not ready to be thrust back into society. And that’s exactly what a press conference would do.”

     “Mr. Maxwell, you have put your own career on hold while you’ve worked with us.” Joe glanced at the other FBI agent standing at the door. “What you’ve done for your employee is commendable.”

     “She’s my friend.”

     “Most people never return to their lives,” the first agent said. “Never are able to be released from the program.”

     “I’m well aware of that,” Joe replied. “Cathy never knew that she’d been declared dead. She’s been lied to for a long time. Only believing that moving constantly was the best way to stay safe.” He didn’t speak aloud that he now realized she also believed she was keeping the man she loved from harm as well.

     “It was the only way that we could make sure the bad guys believed it. If her friends had known then they would have eventually let on. People had to grieve and it had to be real.”

     “She may never be able to return to the life she had.”

     “Her friends are still around,” the second agent observed. “I know she lost ten years but soon she’ll have the chance to catch up.”

     “And what about . . . “ Joe’s words trailed off. Cathy had trusted him enough to confirm that there was someone. He couldn’t betray her trust now.

     “Her job?” the first agent asked. “She can have her position at the DA’s office again. In good time.” Both government men headed out the door. “Just another week or so. Can you keep her from wandering the city alone again before then?” Joe met his eyes. Obviously they had known about her late night visit to the cemetery. “Without letting her know she is still ‘under wraps’ – shall we say?”

     “She thinks it’s over!” Joe exclaimed.

     “Almost,” was the reply. “Almost.” Then the door closed.

     Joe sank to his chair. How much longer could he stand to see her so alone? How much longer could he keep her from running out into the night searching for the man she thought was lost to her?



Part Five

All characters are the property of Ron Koslow, Republic Pictures, and CBS. No infringement is implied or intended. Story is purely for entertainment purposes only.

"Courage and Care" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

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