FROM THE WRECK OF MY MEMORIES

(Song of Orpheus -Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon)

Vincent stretched lazily then looked into the darkness surrounding him. A smile stole its way across his face briefly as he thought about the events of the last two weeks. Looking back now, he could see the many layers of emotions and events that were stripped away one by one until the truth was revealed and past wrongs were righted. It seemed the universe was now in proper order.

It had all begun with a game of chess and a message in a bottle that sent Father off on a mysterious mission Above. Vincent remembered the unease he had felt in the pit of his stomach as Father informed him he was going. Throughout the day, he worried and waited impatiently; and, as the hour grew late and Father had not returned, that unease turned quickly to panic. He needed help. He needed Catherine.

The memory of the way she had looked lying in her bed sleeping so peacefully haunted him even now. Standing outside of her balcony doors had reminded him that he would always be standing on the outside looking in at her world, her life. Just as he had no place in the world Above, he had no place in that room or that bed. He had stared at her, feeling as if he were going to die with the want of her. He had wondered what she was dreaming, longed to hear her slow, steady breathing as she slept, and ached to feel her warm body cuddled against his.

* * * * * *

He continued to watch and want, like a hungry animal stalking its prey, until the shame of his rising desire became unbearable. Tapping on the window awakened Catherine and his own self control. As she tossed aside the covers, he had to turn and walk to the balcony wall because the sight of her in those pink satin pajamas with sleep tousled hair was stirring feelings in him that he just couldn't deal with at that time. He had to put some distance between them to clear his head.

He told Catherine of his fears and of Father's secretive behavior. She convinced him that they needed all the information they could gather in order to formulate some theory of where Father might go and who he would see. Reluctantly, he had agreed to go through Father's things in search of some clue. Catherine promised she would use her resources at the DA's office to do the same. They would meet later.

The search of Father's private possessions disturbed Vincent greatly. He had always believed in the sanctity of one's privacy, and rummaging through the bits and pieces of Father's life made him feel like an intruder. This betrayal of trust, although necessary under the circumstances, was one of the most difficult things he had ever done. He wasn't sure if the fear of not finding any clues to Father's whereabouts was greater than the fear of finding out some deep, dark secret from his past life.

The picture frame caught his attention and he carefully picked it up. It was a wedding photograph taken in a grand church filled with flowers. The couple in the picture was sharing a kiss. Vincent didn't know the woman but; even though he was much younger, he recognized the man as Father. After the shock wore off, he studied the picture carefully. They looked so happy - so much in love. He wondered who she was and what had happened to that happy couple. As he continued to stare at the photograph, another feeling crept in - envy. For a brief moment, he allowed himself to imagine the couple in the picture was himself and Catherine locked in that loving embrace. It was such a beautiful dream - and such an impossible one. His thoughts were interrupted by a familiar tapping on the pipes. Kipper was guiding Catherine Below, and he was to meet her in his chamber. Vincent removed the letter hidden behind the photograph and hid it inside his vest. Carefully, he returned the picture to its hiding place.

When he entered his chamber, he found Catherine sitting at his table leafing through one of his books. She had removed her coat and had made herself comfortable while she waited. The sight of her, so at home in his domain, gave him thoughts and feelings that sent a heated blush to his face. "Hello, Catherine. Have you discovered anything about Father?"

She looked up from her book as he walked in. "No, nothing yet. What have you learned?"

"I found a tag from the Chittenden Institute. He may have worked there at one time." Vincent sat down across the table from her.

"The library has an extensive newspaper and magazine morgue. Maybe I can find something there when it opens tomorrow."

"We don't have to wait until tomorrow," Vincent responded.

She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. "The library is closed."

"But I know a way in. I've been there often at night after everyone else has gone home."

Catherine shook her head in amazement. "I should have known you would find a way to get to all those books."

Vincent sat quietly in the corner as Catherine worked the microfilm machine. Why had he not told her about the photograph earlier? Did he feel so guilty about his invasion of Fathers privacy that he could not bring himself to share the information? Or, was it just fear? He inwardly debated those issues until Catherine's voice snapped him out of it. His name was Jacob.

They read the articles with growing anger at the injustices forced upon an idealistic young doctor whose only crime was the pursuit of the truth. Finally, Vincent found the courage to tell Catherine about the photograph and give her the envelope; but he couldn't find the courage to open and read the letter. He would never forget the way Catherine lifted his chin up so that their eyes would meet. Her small, delicate fingers felt warm and comforting but, it was the compassion in her eyes that made him feel that everything would be all right.

Reading the letter, Catherine's soft voice echoed the haunting tragedy the two young lovers had endured. Their love had not survived the differences of their worlds, and the parallels between those two and Vincent and Catherine were ominous. At the end of the letter silence fell as they individually felt the sadness that had spanned decades.

Vincent remembered escorting Catherine back to her apartment via his secret passageway. When it came time to part, she again reached up and placed her finger under his chin.

"Everything will be all right, Vincent. Father will be fine. We'll find him soon."

There was such hope in her eyes. "All those years - I never knew such sadness existed in his heart. I knew there were things in his past that he wanted to escape or he would not still be in the tunnels. I guess I never thought that one of those things would be a broken marriage. "

Her finger moved from his chin to his cheek and began a slow, soothing caress. "Will you be okay?"

"Yes. I'll be fine."

There was a long pause as she searched his eyes for the truth. "Be well, Vincent."

"And you, Catherine."

She embraced him tenderly then walked out of the shadows of his world and into the bright lights of hers. He wondered if it would always be so.

* * * * * *

Catherine rolled onto her side and looked through her balcony doors to the city lights fading into the brightening sky as dawn approached. She was tired, both physically and emotionally. The events of the last two weeks had taken their toll on her, and all she wanted to do was sleep it all away; but, despite her fatigue, her mind began to form images and certain vivid memories began to surface.

* * * * * *

The absolute last person she expected to see in the Tombs was the man she knew as Father. As difficult as it was, she hid her shock and pretended not to know the prisoner but, after her deposition, she requested to see him. As soon as they were alone, she began to question him.

At first Father was very reluctant to speak to her. He wanted her to simply go away, but that was not an option. After appealing to him by using his real name, the ice began to break and he revealed much of his past and his mistrust of society; but the most enlightening information to her personally was the parallels between Margaret and herself. His resistance to her intrusion into Vincent's life suddenly made sense. She left the jail with a better understanding of Jacob Wells and a determination to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Her investigation led her deeper into the fraudulent activities of Henry Dutton and the threat he posed to Margaret. The closer she got to unmasking his devious intentions, the more desperate he became. He even had her abducted and brought to him. She remembered the fear that churned in her stomach as she paced the room followed by revulsion as the man's true nature was revealed. Anger flared in her as she learned of how he had taken advantage of trusting people who had wanted to help the homeless.

Finally, he ordered his goons to take her somewhere and dispose of her. They forced Catherine out of the apartment, down the hallway, and into the elevator. Desperately, she looked around for something she could use as a weapon or a distraction. It was then she felt his presence. Vincent was near and coming to her rescue.

He was above her - on top of the elevator. If he made his presence known, her abductors could shoot up through the ceiling and would most likely hit him. She knew she had to distract them long enough for him to get her out of the elevator. She waited - heart pounding until the elevator lurched to a stop giving her the opportunity she needed. Isaac's teachings were put to good use. She kicked one assailant and punched the other. This distracted them long enough for Vincent to punch out a ceiling tile and reach down into the elevator for her. She grabbed his arm and he lifted her out. Under normal circumstances, she would have taken the time to marvel at the strength that action required, but there wasn't time. They had to get as far away from that elevator as quickly as they could. She remembered climbing onto his back and holding on as he climbed up the cable. On the way up, she could feel his muscles working to pull them both to safety. She also remembered thinking that, even in their precarious situation, she felt safe.

Once safely atop the roof, Vincent felt Catherine's arms slip from around his body. And, much to his own surprise, he guided her around in front of him and pulled her into his arms. He held her tightly, desperately as his body quivered with fear thinking of what might have been. "Are you hurt, Catherine?"

"I'm all right, Vincent. I'm just a little shaky. Hold me."

He didn't need the encouragement. All he wanted to do was hold her for as long as he possibly could. Her body melded against his, her arms clutched him tightly and her head rested against his shoulder. His own hands stroked her back then made their way into her hair. There, he caressed the soft strands with his fingers. The more lost in the moment he became, the more forgetful he was of the barriers that existed between them. On impulse, he pressed a kiss to the side of her neck then inhaled the fragrance of her hair. Catherine lifted her head from his chest. Their faces were only inches apart. He could feel her breath. Their noses touched briefly. His lips were aching to taste and savor hers. She tilted her head, and....

A loud thud broke the spell. "We must leave this place. Catherine. They're searching for us."

She looked up at him, her eyes still filled with the promise of the opportunity lost. "Yes. Where?"

"Come." He grabbed her hand and led her across the roof to the ladder. Quickly and quietly, they made the long climb down then found the nearest threshold to the world Below. Until they were deep into that world, Vincent would not feel safe. After they were beyond the eyes of the sentries, he stopped and their eyes met. "I think we're safe now," he said as he continued to gaze at her.

Catherine nodded in agreement. "I must get to Joe and file the necessary charges before Dutton gets away. We've got to get Margaret out of there."

* * * * * *

Things happened fast after that as Catherine remembered. After saying goodnight to Vincent, she got in touch with Joe and arrests were soon made. Margaret was taken to a hospital and Father was released from jail the next morning. Feeling exhausted but satisfied, Catherine walked Father back to the nearest subway entrance with tunnel accessibility.

"Well good-bye."

Father turned to her. "Catherine, you've been more than a good friend to me. I know what you've risked, and believe me - I am grateful." He reached over, took her hand and squeezed it gently. "Good-bye."

She watched him start down the steps then felt compelled to say the words she'd never said out loud to anyone about Vincent. "Father - I just want you to know. I would never hurt him. I love him." aving finally said the words, Catherine felt a burden being lifted from her heart.

An understanding smile was Father's first response. "I know," he finally said. "I also know it can only bring him unhappiness."

His words stung. She couldn't believe that loving him would cause him sadness. "Why do you say that?"

He looked at her intently. His expression was one of sadness tempered with strength of purpose. The words he spoke next would forever alter Catherine's perception of Vincent.

"Because part of him - is a man."

She didn't answer him. She couldn't. She understood what he was trying to tell her. Silently, she walked away but all that afternoon, his words haunted her, and she began to ask herself some important questions. Was what she felt for Vincent really love? Was it the kind of love that meant total commitment? Was she prepared to be intimate with him?

Those questions echoed through her mind as she sat at her desk staring blankly at the papers scattered in front of her. He was the most important person in her life; and Father had made her look at him, and her own feelings, in the light of reality. Yes, Vincent was very much a man. She had never thought of him as anything else. There was something elemental about him that the woman in her responded to strongly, and she could no longer deny it.

She leaned over and propped her elbows on the desk then began rubbing her temples with her fingers. How much longer would their romantic dream of love survive without demanding more? What did she really want Vincent to be - a lover or a friend?

Sighing heavily, she lifted her head from her hands. As a test, she tried to imagine her life with someone else, or without Vincent at all. That thought created an ache in her heart she simply could not bear. No - Vincent was a part of her - a very big part of her.

She thought about everything he meant to her and that made her realize just how much she wanted to be with him for the rest of her life. Despite Father's dire warnings, she believed they could make a life for themselves. A life that included the physical intimacy she longed for with every breath she took.

* * * * * *

Vincent tried to give Father and Margaret as much privacy as he could, but contact was inevitable. Margaret was a woman of grace and beauty with a dry wit that often left Father blushing. Had they not allowed their different worlds to separate them, life would have been vastly different for them and the world Below. Fate has a way of pushing you down roads you never dreamed existed, Vincent mused as he watched them. They loved each other, of that he was sure. It was obvious to everyone including Mary.

Mary had managed to avoid the couple for the most part; but when she did encounter them, she tried to keep her feelings hidden. Vincent, however, could see the pain in her eyes. Seeing Father with someone else was tearing her apart. Her sadness mirrored his own.

The haunting look of pain in Mary's eyes, and the tragedy of all the time lost between Father and Margaret began to weigh heavily on his mind. He couldn't help comparing Father and Margaret to himself and Catherine. They loved each other, but the world had driven them apart. He and Catherine loved each other, but the world above was keeping them apart. Vincent's biggest concern, however, was that Margaret had given into the pressure and had turned away from Father. Would Catherine eventually turn away from him? Just the thought of that possibility sent a surge of pain through him so intense it sent him to his knees.

Margaret's presence Below also reminded Vincent of the dream he nurtured of a life with Catherine. Every time he saw the two of them together, laughing and so full of life and love, he imagined himself and Catherine as they grew old together. Catherine had changed his life in so many ways since they had met, and one of the more significant changes had been his ability to want. She had stirred that in him from the moment he had found her in the park. Now - he wanted everything. He wanted to marry her, to be her husband in every way, to be the father of her children, and to grow old with her. There was no way of knowing how many of those things were possible. He wanted to give her everything she wanted and deserved, but how could he?

Later, after Margaret had lost her battle to survive, he saw the grief that nearly crushed Father; and it made Vincent think about what such a loss would do to him. Slowly, his perspective on the impossibility of their love changed. The obstacles between them seemed insignificant when compared to the insurmountable reality of death. He began to realize that the challenges life presented them with could be overcome by the strength of love. To live within its grace required a total belief and commitment to it. Anything less often led to a life of emptiness and wasted promise. The love they shared was growing, and that growth had begun to demand more and more of them. The time had come to answer that demand.

That night, he made the journey to Catherine's balcony to be near her, to share with her the loss and the realization he had reached concerning their love for each other. As usual, the sight of her took his breath away, and all ability to resist simply faded. Tonight, he no longer wanted to resist. Resistance is such a waste of time and energy. Vincent realized as he gazed into her blue/green eyes and listened to the soft sensuality of her voice.

Catherine knew of Margaret's death and they began to talk about it and the impact it had on Father.

"Margaret said the last seven days were the happiest of her life," Vincent explained.

"And how is Father?" Catherine asked.

"Healing. Alone. Grateful."

Vincent could feel a profound sadness wash over her.

"They truly loved each other."

He was so glad she could see it as well and smiled as he looked at her. "Yes."

Anger filled her as she thought about all the wasted time. Vincent could feel it through their bond and see it in her eyes.

"It's so sad. To have had a beginning and an end and all the time in the middle - empty."

"They had seven days, Catherine. Seven days." As he looked at her, one thought came to mind. And, for the first time since they had met, he expressed his feelings without reservation. "I would gladly give all my tomorrows for one night with you, Catherine."

What he saw in her eyes in response to his words embarrassed him, and he immediately regretted having said it. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. Forgive me." He wanted to leap off of that balcony just to avoid the wrath he thought was sure to come.

"Forgive you for what, Vincent? You expressed your feelings. You should not apologize for that. Not to me."

"I offended you."

Catherine reached for his hand and tenderly held it in hers. "You surprised me. You didn't offend me. Your - desire for me is not offensive. I welcome it."

It was his turn to be surprised. "Catherine!"

"Why does that surprise you? Vincent, I love you. I desire you."

He looked deeply into her eyes searching for the truth of her feelings. In doing so he opened himself up to all she felt, and he saw the truth of her words and the power of her desire. But thinking of all he'd seen with Father and Margaret kept him from fleeing that insight into her feelings. "Catherine -I love you." He reached up and caressed her cheek with his open hand. In wonder, he watched as she pressed her cheek into his palm savoring his touch. The pleasure he saw in her eyes fueled the fire in his blood. It had never been this intense before. "Will you - marry me, Catherine?"

She looked up at him with genuine shock. "You're proposing?"

Nervously, he nodded. This had not been his intention tonight. "Yes, I suppose I am."

She studied him carefully. "Are you asking because of what happened between Father and Margaret?"

"I admit the experience had an impact on me by forcing me to face my own feelings, but it is not the sole reason. I want to spend my life with you. I want to share everything with you."

A smile played softly across her face as she looked into his eyes. "Everything? Vincent, are you here because you want to spend the night with me?"

Vincent swallowed hard and had to concentrate on breathing. Putting aside years of uncertainty and low self-esteem wasn't an easy thing to do, but a complete relationship with Catherine required that leap of faith. "That is not the reason I came. If you say you accept my proposal and it is your wish to wait, I will accept that. I could not bear for you to regret your choice. "

"I've already made my choice, Vincent. I love you. I want to love you in every way. I only needed you to make YOUR choice. For your own peace of mind, we need to know what is possible between us."

It was as if she were reading his mind. His fear of what might or might not happen when they took that step was the biggest obstacle between them. To fail her or to hurt her would crush him.

"There are many ways to be intimate with someone, Vincent. We will find a way that is satisfying for both of us. There is no wrong or right - only what is pleasurable to the people involved. "

She seemed so sure, so confident that love would find a way that he began to believe it too. That faith gave him the courage to take the first step. Awkwardly, he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. The velvety softness of her mouth was beyond what he had imagined and the hunger quickly rose in him. That first tentative kiss ended quickly and Vincent pulled back to gauge her response. She smiled at him dreamily. That smile of approval, the growing desire he felt in both of them and the image of her inviting bed just a few steps away was all the encouragement he needed. He lifted her small body up into his arms and turned toward her bedroom. "Catherine - if you are unsure of this, say so now." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

"I've never been more certain of anything in my life. I want you to make love to me, Vincent. "

"I love you so much, Catherine. I.... I can't find the words."

"The time has passed for words." Once again, her lips found his.

He carried her across the threshold of her balcony doors into her bedroom. Not only was he breaching the barrier of her apartment but he was also testing the boundaries of their love. Before he left that apartment, their worlds would forever be changed and there would be no going back.

Carefully, he lowered her until her feet touched the floor, but his arms stayed around her. They lingered in that loving embrace for a few moments before Catherine stepped aside and closed the balcony doors.

"I want privacy," she said in a very soft voice then stepped back into his arms.

They held each other with a tenderness that masked the passion simmering just below the surface. Again, Catherine stepped back.

"I would like to change into something more suitable. You've seen most of my gowns. Do you have a preference?"

That was such an intimate question. One that indicated her desire to please him, and that thought sent chills of excitement down his spine. "Yes," he answered. "The blue satin one."

She smiled then walked over to the bureau and pulled out the shimmering blue negligee "This one?"

"Yes." His heart was pounding so loudly he thought she could hear it.

As she walked back over to him, she stopped. "Why don't you - undress while I'm changing?"

His imagination had not dealt with this issue. In his dreams, clothes simply vanished or were never there at all. "Yes - of course. Catherine - what about...."

She looked at him in confusion for a moment and then realized what he was asking. "Oh - don't worry. I'll take care of the protection."

He could feel his face turning bright red as he, watched her disappear into the bathroom. Suddenly, he was alone in her bedroom as she was putting on a negligee after she had asked him to undress. How things had changed! he thought. With fumbling fingers, he began to undress.

As he stood there in nothing but his thermal pants, he felt incredibly vulnerable. Catherine could walk out of that bathroom at any minute and see him. Would she still feel the same desire she professed earlier? The door opened and the moment of truth arrived. Catherine walked out in that soft, clinging gown, and all thoughts of his own modesty vanished. "Catherine.... "

They both stood there silently evaluating each other until Catherine looked up and smiled. The desire he felt in her earlier was, not only still there, but had intensified. That amazed him. And, as he stood there, he became very aware of the fact that her gown was doing some pretty incredible things to his desire as well. "You are beautiful, Catherine."

Slowly, she walked over to him giving him time to watch the way her body moved beneath the thin material. "You look beautiful to me too."

He was blushing again, he could feel it. "You don't find me repulsive?"

"Anything but." She walked over and placed her hands on his chest and began running her fingers through the dense hair. "You have a great body."

"The hair doesn't bother you?"

"On the contrary," she practically purred. "I like it."

Her hands continued to explore his chest giving him sensations he never believed existed. Overcome by the passion she stirred in him, he once again lifted her up in his arms and started for the bed. This boldness shocked him more than it did Catherine. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying it.

"The covers, Vincent. We need to turn down the bed."

Her words focused him and he stopped in mid-stride. "I don't know what I'm doing. I'm sorry."

"What you're doing is being you and I love it," she responded. He put her down and watched as she turned back the covers on the bed and dimmed the lights.

Staring at the bed anxiously, Vincent began to wonder if they were moving too fast. This encounter had not been planned or really thought out completely, and he was never one to act on impulse; but at that moment, Vincent sensed in Catherine a need for him to be the aggressor. She wanted him to sweep her off her feet and put her on the bed; and, as always, Catherine's happiness was the most important thing to him. He wanted to please her first and foremost. He pushed aside his own insecurities and allowed her desires to guide him. Without a word, she was telling him what she wanted; and as soon as she turned back to him, he gathered her up in his arms and lowered her onto the bed. What he felt in her then strengthened his resolve. This was right. He felt it in his heart. It was meant to be from the moment they met.

Her warm, bare body was beautiful to look at and heaven to touch. Her mouth gave him indescribable pleasures. Her small hands seemed to set his skin on fire with every touch. Her moans of pleasure were the sweetest music he had ever heard. The intimate things she whispered in his ear made him shudder in excitement. All that Catherine was, she gave him, and all he was, he gave to her.

That night, they came together with love and tenderness. Each touch, each kiss, each whispered word of desire expressed the passion that had been building for so long. And, when passion was finally spent, they lay in each other's arms savoring the memories. Vincent would remember that moment of surrender for the rest of his life and knew that if they were to have no other nights in each others' arms, this night would last him a lifetime. What he had told her before was even more true now. He would gladly give up his tomorrows for this night with her.

Vincent awakened the next morning with a start. Disoriented, he looked around quickly to determine just where he was. After realizing he was in Catherine's apartment, he relaxed a little and allowed the memories of the past several hours to bring a sated smile to his face - but something was still wrong. A warning began to filter into his thoughts, and he suddenly realized that sunlight was coming through Catherine's windows. It was daylight!

Frantically, he jumped out of bed, found his clothes, and began to dress. Just as he had pulled his pants on, Catherine came out of the bathroom dressed in a skirt and light sweater. "Why didn't you wake me, Catherine?"

"Vincent - it's already daylight. You can't leave." Catching his cheek with her hand, she firmly turned his face to hers. "Good morning, love." She pulled his face to hers and kissed him. "You're going to have to stay here until tonight, so why don't you go back to bed and get some more sleep. You didn't get much sleep last night." She smiled playfully and kissed him again.

Although Catherine was right, the thought of staying in her apartment all day was not something he was looking forward to. To be here with her was one thing - to be here alone was something else entirely. "Catherine...."

"I'll let Father know when you'll be back. Until then, there is food in the kitchen and an extra toothbrush in the bathroom. Use the shower and anything else you want."

Vincent smiled as he watched her finish her makeup and put on her suit jacket. "Don't answer the phone and keep the doors locked. I'll call - let the machine answer it. When you hear my voice, pick it up. And - I love you. Last night was wonderful."

Impulsively, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close to kiss her once again. "Yes," he whispered breathlessly after the kiss ended. "Last night was wonderful - magical."

"If I don't leave now...." she protested.

"You could stay, Catherine."

She managed to push herself away. "I've got a hearing to attend this morning. But - don't make any plans for the weekend." She gave him her most endearing smile and walked away. "Sweet dreams, Vincent." He heard the door close and resigned himself to spending the day on his own in a foreign world. There was, however, one consolation. Catherine would be back in a few hours and they would have another night together. Oh well, he thought. Things could be a lot worse.

Catherine's return that evening didn't disappoint him. She brought dinner with her; and as soon as the dishes were finished, Vincent carried her off to the bedroom. Just before dawn, he awakened with a thoroughly sated feeling and glanced over at Catherine who was still sleeping contentedly.

Vincent stretched lazily then looked into the darkness surrounding him. A smile stole its way across his face briefly as he thought about the events of the last two weeks. Looking back now, he could see the many layers of emotions and events that were stripped away one by one until the truth was revealed and past wrongs were righted. It seemed the universe was now in proper order.