Courage and Care

A BatB "SND" Story

Part Three

     “You can not be serious!” Father exclaimed after he heard what his grandson had requested. “Taking the child Above is a risk in itself – let alone you taking him! I won’t hear of it.”

     “Father,” the man began. His voice was so soft the older man had to strain to hear it. “You must understand that Jacob has never had the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to his mother. He needs this in order to move beyond. Would you deny him that?”

     The man turned away from his son. “We’ve been over this and over this! Ever since you were small! Think of what could happen to you if someone saw you? Think about what that would do to the boy to see his father in chains, behind bars, tortured and put on display.”

     “Believe me, those images have been at the core of my existence,” the man said. He sighed heavily. “Father, this is a task that I must complete.”

     “And what of you, my son?” Father inquired. “How much pain will this put you in? It’s been ten years. Surely you have had time to forget.”

     The word brought the man out of his seat until he loomed over his father. “Forget!” he roared. “Dare you think I could forget? All that she was? All that we were or what we might have been? Forget the dream we had? Forget Catherine? Never!” He moved swiftly from the room. Turning just outside the chamber. “I will do this – for my son and for her.”

     It was one of the few times in his life that he had defied his father’s words. Guilt swept over him once he stood at the entrance to his own chamber. Jacob lay sleeping in his small bed at the foot of his own. His features were angelic. The man watched his progeny in slumber and studied him. It was a sight he never tired of. Jacob’s hair was the golden color of his own. His build also resembled his. He would be a tall man himself once grown to adulthood. But his face – his face held his mother’s features. Soft upturned nose. Lush lips. No hint of his father’s leonine features. The features that had held him captive to the world Below his entire life.

     Captive – it wasn’t the first time he’d thought that. But it was the truth. He had never regretted who or what he was – at least not until he met her. The night he’d found her lying broken and bleeding in the park left to die. The night he’d brought her to his world Below to tend her wounds. The night he’d fallen in love with her. The night that was their beginning.

*   *   *   *   *

     There it was again – a pain in her heart. A feeling of anger mixed with sorrow. Even with Joe and her constant companion hovering around while she tried to remain in the background, she knew that the feeling came from beyond this. From somewhere deep in the earth. The Bond. She had felt it. Maybe her prayers were being answered.

     They were back in another dark car, and once again she was whisked away toward the Village. All of them were quiet on the journey. Try as she might, she couldn’t get that feeling back. Every time they passed a grate in the road or a manhole, she longed for what she had lost. She wondered if he was just Below. Almost close enough to touch. Fighting tears, she turned her attention back to the scenery.

     “I’ll stick around until you’re settled in,” Joe told her. They got out of the limousine. She looked back. “It’s just us.”

     Her decade long companion touched her hand. “It’s time you get your life back, kid. Joe will help in any way he can. It’s time for me to go.”

     Cathy nodded her head in understanding. They were slowly reacquainting her with society. Neither one could be a babysitter forever. Joe took her elbow and guided her up the steps toward her new home. A new beginning. She felt tears form behind her eyes. A beginning alone.

*   *   *   *   *

     The man tossed in his sleep. There was something just beyond his conscious. It nagged at him. He woke with a start and sat up. He heard his son’s even breathing. Messages being sent along the pipes. The tapping was non-stop. There wasn’t anything in the messages warning of danger or intruders. Knowing that sleep would be elusive, the man rose from bed and quietly dressed. He spotted Mary in the corridor outside his chamber.

     “Can’t sleep tonight?” she asked him.

     He shook his head. “Watch over Jacob.”

     “And you are off to where?”

     “Above,” he whispered. “I’ll return soon.”

     Before she could voice her opinion, the man had quickly moved onward. She entered the chamber and took up residence in the oversized chair by the bed.

     He walked quickly through the tunnels until he came to a familiar exit. It had once led to the sub-basement of her apartment building. He lingered for a moment as he recalled the first time he’d led her out of the tunnels.

     “Where are we?” she had asked him.

     “The basement of your apartment building.”

     “We are?” She had started forward but then turned toward him. She’d told him that his secret was safe with her and that she’d never betray him. He had told her that he’d known from the beginning when she trusted him. That was when she’d embraced him for the first time. When he’d felt her body close to his. As he’d wondered how long he would be privileged enough to feel her in his arms, there had been voices. When she’d turned toward them, he’d fled back to his home.

     He’d known it even then – how strong his love was for her. How deeply they were connected. She had looked upon him in the chamber with acceptance and kindness. It had been the first time he had felt no pity from another’s eyes..

     He moved on walking farther and farther until he arrived at another exit to the world Above. It was close to the cemetery. If he was to show Jacob his mother’s grave, he wanted to visit her alone first.

     He saw or heard no one as he quietly made his way toward her grave. The moonlight shone down on the headstone. He traced her name and the dates with his forefinger.

     “Catherine,” he whispered. “I am here. Forgive me for being away so long.” He felt the tears slip from his eyes. “I have never forgotten you nor stopped loving you. I see your smile every day in our son. I see the happiness in your eyes when I look into his. I’ve never asked for anything – not really. I ask only that you be kept safe from harm.” He knelt closer to her grave to speak the words he’d only spoken aloud to her once. “I love you, Catherine.”

*   *   *   *   *

     “Vincent!” she cried out as she awoke. Her breathing was fast and heavy. Her heart felt as if it would burst. A light shone from the hallway.

     “Radcliffe!” Joe exclaimed from the doorway. “You okay?”

     Sobs overtook her and she collapsed. “No!” Her friend moved to comfort her. “I felt him! He was so near, Joe! I can still feel him!” Suddenly she was laughing. “He’s close. I must go!” She jumped from the bed.

     “Whoa!” Joe told her. “What are you doing?”

     “I have to dress,” she was pulling him toward the hallway. “I have to go!”

     “Go where? Feel who?” The door shut on his words. A few moments later, it opened. She was shrugging into her sweater. “Where are you going?”

     “I can’t explain right now.”

     “You’re not going out there now. Alone.”

     “But I won’t be alone, Joe. He’s there.”

     Then she was running down the stairs and out the door. “I hope he is, Radcliffe,” Joe muttered. “For your sake, I hope he is.”

     She ran into the feeling. She didn’t know where only that she had to keep moving. The Bond had opened for her again. Had it also opened for him? If it had, he would be waiting for her. It was all she could do not to yell for him.

Part Four

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

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