Song of Songs

"Where has your beloved gone,
    most beautiful of women?
Which way did your beloved turn,
    that we may look for him with you?"
~~ Song of Songs 6:1, NIV

"Le mo ghrása mise, agus liomsa mo ghrá."
("I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.")
~~ Song of Songs 6:3 in Irish Gaelic

November 1987

"Just a little further..." Catherine urged as she opened a gate and ushered her cousins in.  Allison and Robert Chandler's eyes were wide as they looked around curiously.  JenniAnn only looked forward, peering into the darkness.  Catherine smiled when the five year old gripped her hand.  "Almost there," she assured.

The child gave no response.  It seemed to Catherine as if her little cousin was afraid that acknowledging Vincent's pending arrival would make it not happen.  She squeezed her hand.  She knew the feeling.

"Oh my..." Allison murmured as they stepped into an area of the Tunnels that was lit by several torches. 

"This place, uh, definitely has character," Robert offered charitably.

Catherine smiled.  "Thank you.  I certainly think so.  Now there's a lengthy corridor coming up but then..."  She began to pray that Vincent would be waiting for them.  She fervently hoped that he wouldn't back out.  While he'd been overjoyed when she'd told him that her cousins insisted on meeting him and wanted Psyche to see him again, he'd also been wary.  What if they were frightened by him?  Worse yet, what if his Psyche had become scared of him?  And what right did he have to bind this child of sun and cornfields and trees to his subterranean life?  Catherine had given her beloved the evil eye over that last remark.  Vincent had then appeared chastened.  However, there was really no telling and she still feared that he would decline to see them. 

Before Catherine could indulge her worries any further, there was movement in the adjoining tunnel.  Someone was coming.  As the figure drew nearer, Catherine could make out his form.  She watched as JenniAnn... Psyche now... took a few tentative steps nearer.

The Chandlers' gaze traveled back and forth from their tiny daughter to the hulking figure walking towards them.  Catherine looked away from the girl and kept her eyes trained on Vincent, willing him nearer.

"Vincent!" Psyche shouted.

Catherine swiped at a tear as she watched her cousin run towards him.

With one graceful swoop, Vincent had Psyche in his arms.  "Psyche..." he cooed as tears welled in his eyes.  "Psyche, I'm very glad you're back."

Catherine only looked away when she heard Allison begin to weep.  She smiled tearfully at Robert as he wrapped his arms around his wife, watching their daughter bury her face in Vincent's mane and close her small hand around one of his fingers.

Vincent kissed the girl's hair then smiled at his Catherine.  He settled Psyche on his right hip and held his left arm aloft.  A moment later, when Catherine had joined him, Vincent sighed with contentment.  For the first time in years, both his Catherine and his Psyche were home.


Catherine marveled at her cousins.  While she could tell they were very much out of their element in Vincent's chamber, they were behaving as if it were any average family's get-together.  She had caught each of them occasionally staring at Vincent but both treated him with the utmost kindness and respect.  Maybe the exposure to that dratted television show had helped.  Or maybe it was simply that Vincent had cared for their daughter tenderly and diligently when fate had torn her from them.

As Psyche reacquainted herself with Vincent's chamber, the four adults shared a pot of tea and talked.

"Vincent... Cathy, Allison and I... well, we did some talking in the weeks leading up to this visit."  Robert smiled at the couple and took his wife's hand.  "We truly appreciate and are forever indebted to you for the care you gave to our... our little girl.  When she disappeared we were so..."  The man shut his eyes and shook his head.

"So scared that... that we'd never see..."  Allison became too choked up to continue.

Vincent rested his hand over theirs.  "I cannot imagine the pain and fear you both felt," he sympathized.  "I am so very grateful that you have your daughter back."

"Thank you.  We are, too.  More than we can say."  Robert shakily drew in a deep, calming breath.  "Vincent, Cathy told us that you had at one point intended to raise JenniAnn.  We knew, by that, how much you loved her."

Vincent nodded, remembering both the pride and joy he'd felt when Father had first made the suggestion and the pain and grief when Catherine had taken Psyche Above to reunite with her parents.

"We would like for you to be her godfather, Vincent," Allison announced.  "We named one of Robert's uncles when JenniAnn was a baby but he's since passed away.  So... so who better to take his place than the man who was willing to adopt her when he thought she had no one?  And, Catherine, my aunt Sophia... JenniAnn's godmother... is still living.  But, if you'd consent, Robert and I would like to name you as her guardian.  We regret that we didn't know you prior to your bringing JenniAnn back to us.  Family feuds are ridiculous things..."  The woman shook her head.  "But since then, you've become a very dear friend and cousin.  It would mean so much to us and give us so much comfort to know that if something were to happen to us that the two of you would raise JenniAnn.  Only if you're willing, of course.  We realize we're asking very much but..." 

Vincent blinked back tears.  "I'm very honored by your request.  It would mean much to me to be Psy..."

Allison smiled.  "We know you call her Psyche.  Please continue to.  It's cute."

Vincent relaxed.  "Thank you.  I would be honored to be Psyche's godfather and..."  He looked to Catherine, unsure what to make of the mix of feelings he felt coming from her.

Catherine hugged Vincent's arm then looked solemnly at her cousins.  "I hope you both live very long, happy, and healthy lives but, yes, I would be honored, too.  I promise that, if it came to it, Vincent and I would do everything we could for JenniAnn and love her as... as you would love her."

JenniAnn's parents beamed at each other then at the other couple.  "Thank you.  Now, we should probably tell you that there's one more thing.  It seems..."

Before Robert could finish, the girl approached them.  She clamored onto Vincent's lap.  "Where did my bed go?" she asked.  "The airplane made me sleepy."

Catherine stifled a giggle.

Vincent blinked.  Heartbroken, he'd moved the crib out as soon as she'd left and presumed its presence would never again be needed.  Clearly he had been mistaken.  "Perhaps, for right now, you could rest in my bed?" he offered.

"'Kay.  Read me my story?"

After looking to her parents and receiving their silent approval, Vincent nodded. 

The remaining three adults watched as the girl's newly appointed godfather tucked her into bed and then sat beside her and read.

"Once there was a maiden named Psyche," Vincent began.  "She lived with her father and two sisters.  Her father loved her very much.  He would do anything to ensure his Psyche was happy.  One day he was forced to leave his three much loved daughters and..."

Allison sighed and set a hand on her cousin's shoulder.  "He's really wonderful, Cathy.  I'm so glad we got to meet Vincent.  Not just for Psyche's sake but yours, too.  He loves you very much."

Catherine looked across the chamber, her adoring gaze locked on Vincent.  She nodded.  Then, with a sigh, she turned to her cousins.  "So what was this 'one more thing'?"

"Psyche beat us to it."  Robert smiled sheepishly.  "She, well, she thinks she's staying here during our visit."

"Here Below?  Isn't she?"

"Here here.  In 'her chamber,'" Allison corrected.

Catherine laughed.  "Her chamber, huh?  That's adorable.  Do you... well, do you mind if she does?"

"We have no objection to her staying with you and Vincent but we also don't want..."  Allison cut off when she noticed that Catherine's face was taking on a reddish hue.

"Vincent and I, uh...  Well... we've not..." Catherine mumbled.  "I've stayed Below, of course.  But not... here specifically.  But maybe we could all stay in the Tunnels tonight," she cheerily suggested.

Embarrassed by happening upon this personal disclosure, Allison and Robert readily agreed and said no more.  They looked back over to JenniAnn and Vincent and smiled.


That evening found the Chandlers comfortably ensconced in a guest chamber.  Together they mulled over the extraordinary circumstances of the day.  They were content in the knowledge that, no matter what, their daughter would be looked after and cared for.  Her affection for Catherine had long been obvious and there was no doubting her love for Vincent or his for her.  They felt some concern that the mythic, literary man would feed into the little girl's fanciful tales of a glowing man named Cupid but then surely, in time, JenniAnn would grow out of that regardless.  Assured that all was well, the couple fell into a restful sleep.


Catherine was curled up in bed in another of the guest chambers.  Mary had decorated it beautifully and always gave it to Catherine when she stayed.  Yet the older woman had never referred to it as "Catherine's chamber" and tut-tutted others when they did.  Catherine and Mary had reached a silent agreement that the former belonged somewhere else.  Over three years was too long to be confined to a guest chamber on the few occasions when Vincent did invite Catherine to stay Below over night.  She didn't know what it would take to move their relationship out of its beautiful, agonizing holding pattern.  She'd tried a reasoned approach.  Ever since his breakdown, Vincent had kept his rage in check.  And even in the early days when he had lost control, it had only ever been when someone had sought to harm an innocent... herself or another.  She assured him that she was on birth control so pregnancy wasn't much of a concern.  She left off telling Vincent that she didn't intend to stay on it indefinitely.  She'd tried seduction.  Frankly, she wasn't sure nightgowns came any sheerer without being entirely indecent.  She'd tried candlelit dinners and late night concerts.  She'd tried effusive declarations of love and devotion.  Always Vincent returned the romantic gestures and his impassioned letters to her made her heart speed.  But still they were restricted to waltzing and brief, tender kisses.  How could a man who'd read the whole of Shakespeare be so damned reserved? 

Catherine punched her pillow and resettled into the quilts.  She mentally cursed herself for encouraging this latest development with Psyche camped out in Vincent's chamber.  Then she chastised herself for being so selfish.  She'd been right to encourage that.  Vincent had missed the little one.  And at least she'd seen Vincent nearly every day over the past years.  Poor Psyche had been halfway across the country.  Maybe it would work out.  Maybe... just maybe... if she couldn't get the necessary instincts kicked into gear then Psyche could set-off Vincent's paternal ones.  And then Psyche would go home and Vincent would go back to missing her and his fatherly role and then... well, if he wanted to be a father so badly then surely he'd realize living like a monk maybe wasn't the best technique.

Well that was something.

Catherine smiled, snuggled into the pillows, and drifted to sleep.


Vincent lay in his bed trying to read.  However, his gaze kept traveling to the newly returned crib across the room.  One side was folded down, making it seem more like a daybed.  He smiled lovingly at the sleeping child curled up there.  And yet the man could not be content.  Catherine's emotions roiled inside his own mind.  Yes, she was happy to have Psyche back.  She was touched and heartened by her cousins' acceptance of their unconventional life.  But there were other, less positive feelings.  Anger.  Sadness.  A twinge of jealousy.  Longing.

Vincent shoved the book onto his nightstand and stared up at the ceiling.  Allison and Robert, based solely on a few telephone conversations and Catherine's and Psyche's accounts of him, had entrusted their daughter to him.  But not just to him.  To him and to Catherine.  In the unhappy event the Chandlers passed while Psyche was still underage, they were committed to raising her.  Together. 

Among his unique talents, Vincent had exceptionally good hearing.  He'd heard the exchange between his Catherine and Psyche's parents as he'd read to the child.  Allison and Robert had assumed Catherine stayed with him.  They had seemed untroubled by the idea and even surprised when they had gathered it was not so.  Was that how most of those who knew them felt?  Was he terribly wrong to deny Catherine what she'd made exceedingly obvious she desired?


Sitting up and staring down at his hands, Vincent shook his head.  Yes, his hands had mended scraped knees and changed diapers and stroked tiny feverish foreheads.  They'd aided his father in surgery and helped build needed furniture and flipped through books.  But they had also killed.  They'd lashed out in rage.  They'd shook with frustrated desire and then... then they had wounded Lisa. 

No, he wasn't meant to be a lover.  His Psyche was safe from him and always would be.  His Catherine was not and never would be.


January 1988

Catherine watched, amused, as Vincent hung filmy hot pink curtains from a wire Mouse had rigged to stretch from one tall shelf to another.  The woman had never thought to see so girlish a color in her soul mate's earthen chamber.  And yet, even as it made her smile, Catherine felt a pang of sadness.  Vincent was partitioning off part of his chamber for Psyche's impending visit for his birthday.  He'd decided she was too old for her crib and, further, deserving of some privacy.  Now their little fairy-child would have her own bower.  Catherine, meanwhile, remained relegated to her apartment and the guest chamber.  Her hopes for any post-reunion breakthroughs had been quelled and remained unrealized nearly two months later.

Vincent paused and approached his beloved, enclosing her in his arms.  "You are unhappy."

Catherine twisted around to face him.  There was no way to deny it.  She nodded.

"Please, tell me why."

"Vincent, I love that you care so much about Psyche.  I do.  It means the world to me.  I love her, too.  B-but... it hurts to... to see you preparing for her to stay here and..."  Catherine drew in a breath then slowly let it out, preparing herself.  "When will you allow me to stay in your room, in... in your bed?"

Vincent swiftly stepped away.  "It's not the same."

"Of course it's not!" Catherine shot back.  "But we've been together for nearly four years, Vincent!  How long do you expect me to wait?"

The man returned his focus to the curtains.  "I have never expected you to wait.  You are free to..."

"To what Vincent?  What am I free to do?"

Vincent shuddered at Catherine's tone.  "You could find another who..."

"Who would sleep with me?  You think that's all I want?" she implored.  "Who cares about true love so long as he'd sleep with me?"

"Who would love you and give you that!" Vincent countered.  "I would never wish for you to be without love.  Never, Cath..."

He was cut off when Catherine wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately.  Startled, Vincent stumbled onto a nearby settee, bringing Catherine with him.  Her lips moved to his neck.  He discovered his hands were softly drifting up and down her back.  Equally gently, he pulled her nearer.

"Vincent..." Catherine's face, now soft and relaxed, floated above his.  She stroked his brow.  He leaned up and kissed her.

"Catherine, I love..."

"Welcome home, me!" a voice shouted.  "Hey little broth...  Well, hello, Cathy."

Catherine hurriedly extricated herself and stood, glaring at Devin Wells.

Vincent buried his face in his hands.  "Welcome home, Devin," he muttered.

"Good to be here.  Although maybe it's not good to be here specifically right now...  I'll just go check in with Father and then maybe later..."  Devin tried his best to keep a straight face but began to chuckle.  "And this is why I said we needed doors...  But does anyone listen to the ne'er-do-well prodigal?  No.  No they don't."

Mortified, Vincent finally looked up but stared at nothing in particular.  "Catherine, I'll meet you and Psyche in your basement at 4:30 as we planned.  I... I'm going to take a walk."  With that, he sped past both Catherine and Devin and into the corridor.

Catherine approached Devin and grabbed the front of his sweater.  "You better sleep with one eye open because I swear to God..."

Alarmed, the man held his hands up in the air.  "I swear to God that next time I'll announce my presence before entering.  I'm sorry.  Really I am, Cath.  I, uh, didn't realize things had progressed to that."

"They haven't!" Catherine hissed, releasing him then leaving the chamber in a huff.

Left alone, Devin surveyed the room.  His eyes landed on the hot pink partition.  He peeked behind, noting Psyche's toys and books.  He shook his head.  "Vincent, you're a fool," he muttered.  That said, he went in search of his father, hoping he at least would be happy to see him.


Devin, seated at a table with Father, Mary, and Psyche, looked around the dining hall.  There was Vincent laughing with Pascal and Mouse.  Catherine was at the other end of the room, seemingly deep in conversation with Rebecca.  He hadn't seen them speak as many as five words to each other since they'd returned with Psyche in tow.


The man looked to the little girl and smiled.  "What is it, kid?"

"Are Catherine and Vincent fighting?"

"No.  Actually, I think I'm the one in the dog house."

Jacob and Mary looked up curiously. 

Psyche giggled.  "That's silly.  You're not a dog."

"Well, some young ladies of my acquaintance might disagree with you there but thank you."

"Devin, don't talk like that to the child!" Father admonished.

Devin rolled his eyes.  "Like she understands," he whispered.

"Children understand more than you realize," Mary asserted.  "But what it is going on between..."

Devin shrugged.  He didn't want to set Father off with his asinine worries when there was no reason.  Instead, he focused his attention on his godniece... wondering if there was such a title.  "So what you studying in school?"

"Alphabet.  I can write all the letters."

"Excellent.  Do you know what letter my name starts with?"


"How about yours?"

"J... I mean P."

Devin chuckled.  "You have two names and both are important.  And you're right, by the way."  He tousled the girl's hair, noting how much it felt like Vincent's.  In fact...  He peered at the child.  Her green eyes stared back at him.  Cathy's eyes.  Vincent's hair.  She looked like the child they might have if only...  Vincent probably thought the same thing.  Suddenly sad, Devin pulled Psyche onto his lap.  "Don't ever grow up, kid," he whispered.  "It's just confusing."


Jacob pried his eyes off Vincent and looked at his eldest son.  He was struck by the tender image.  "They'll be fine, son.  They always are.  They have their tiffs and then all's well." 
He reached over and clasped his hand, smiling when Psyche set hers over theirs.

"Three for team Vincent and Catherine," Devin murmured.

Mary set her hand over Psyche's.  "Four, dear."

Devin beamed at her.  "Four," he repeated.


After dinner, Catherine and Vincent took Psyche back to the latter's chamber.  Having gotten his bearings back, Vincent smiled as he ushered Catherine and Psyche inside.

"Since you're a big girl now, I thought you should have your own place," he explained.  "Come look."  When she took his hand, Vincent led Psyche to the curtained area.  He pulled the fabric back. 

Psyche's face lit up.  She stepped into her "room" and plopped onto the bed, bouncing.  Then her features clouded over.  "Could I stay with the other kids?"

Despite her anger over Vincent's refusal to talk about their near-tryst, Catherine's heart ached when she saw his smile fade. 

"Yes.  Of course," he answered after a moment. 

"Maybe I could play here tomorrow?"

Vincent nodded.  "I... I'll take you to Mary.  Catherine, would you care to join us in our walk?"

"I'd love to."  She looped her arm through Vincent's, giving his an affectionate squeeze.  Later she would try to get to the bottom of Psyche's change of heart.

Psyche slid off the bed, took Vincent's free hand, and let her godfather lead her away.


Late that night, Psyche slipped out of bed.  Careful not to wake the other children, she tiptoed into the corridor.  She made her way to Vincent's chamber and snuck inside.  She frowned when she saw him asleep, alone, in his bed.  Then she brightened.  Maybe Catherine had needed to go to the bathroom or gotten hungry or wanted a drink of water.  Maybe she would come back. 

Psyche prowled through more tunnels, stopping only when she came to the chamber Catherine had stayed in the last time she and her parents had visited.  She stepped inside.

Catherine was there.



Psyche left the chamber quickly, tears pricking her eyes.  Suddenly everything seemed strange and she didn't know where she was.  She turned into one tunnel and then another.  Everything was blurry.  She was tired and scared.  The shadows were making shapes she didn't like.  Nothing was right.  She curled into a ball on the floor and began to sob.  After a few minutes, she had cried herself to sleep.


Psyche awoke when two strong arms picked her up.  Only partially awake, she snuggled into Vincent's shirt.

"Child, what are you doing out here?" he asked softly.  "You feel so cold." 

She didn't answer.  She didn't know what to say.

"Maybe tomorrow you can try staying with the other children again," Vincent suggested.  He brought the little one back to his chamber and settled her into her bower.  After tucking the quilts around her, he kissed her forehead.  "Are you unwell, Psyche?"

She shook her head. 

"Did you have a nightmare?"

Psyche decided it would be better to pretend she had than explain.  She nodded.

"I'm sorry.  You're safe now.  Rest.  I'll be right here."

Psyche wanted to believe him but didn't.  She turned away from her godfather and faced the wall.

Vincent frowned.  He gently stroked her hair.  "Sleep well, sweet Psyche."

"Night," she murmured, still not moving.

Vincent trudged back to bed.  Once he heard the child's breathing settle into a pattern and knew she was asleep, he stared at the settee.


It was the day before Vincent's birthday and Catherine was sitting in his chamber, folding his laundry.  She'd taken the garments from Mary who had at first protested, insisting she could tend to them herself.  But then, after a fleeting look, the older woman had understood and offered no further argument. 

Catherine supposed she should go into the office.  She'd requested the week off and Joe had happily granted it, saying it was about time she took some vacation.  But now there seemed little purpose in it.  She'd hoped that maybe, with the stress of work taken away and Vincent in a celebratory mood, things would progress.  Now yesterday's debacle made her hopes seem even more ridiculous and out of reach.  Paperwork, of which she had plenty, might be a good distraction.

But for now she had laundry.

Catherine reached into the basket and pulled out a well-worn beige sweater.  She blushed when she recognized it as the sweater Vincent had been wearing the day before... the same sweater she'd been a split second from removing when Devin had waltzed in.

She really needed to apologize to Devin.  Even in a fit of anger and even facetiously, she really shouldn't have threatened him.  Catherine folded the sweater and rose, intending to seek out Vincent's brother.  However, before she was able to leave Vincent's chamber, Psyche entered.

"Hi there, Psyche," Catherine greeted, forcing as much cheer into her voice as she could.  "How's your day been?"

"Good.  Vincent's reading poems to his class.  I liked em but got bored.  He said I could come play here."  The little girl slipped into her makeshift room then poked her head back out.  "You can come in if you want."

Catherine joined her cousin and settled onto the floor.  "Do you like your room?"

Psyche nodded. 

"Good.  Psyche, I'm just curious... why didn't you want to stay here last night?"

"I don't sleep in mommy and daddy's room," the girl answered as she began to brush her doll's hair.

"I know.  I think Vincent only thought you'd want to be in here since, last time you visited, you were upset when your crib was gone.  He didn't want to hurt your feeling by... by not letting you stay here."

Psyche shrugged.  "He's gonna hurt my feelings."

Catherine jolted.  "Sweetheart, why would you say that?  Vincent would never, ever want to hurt your feelings."

"He will when he leaves."

"Psyche, Vincent's not going anywhere," the woman shakily responded.  She wondered if the child had overheard something.  She fought off visions of her beloved shirking off into the outer chambers again.  Catherine was roused from her dark visions by the sound of the little girl crying.

"Are... are you a-and Vincent gon-na get a... a... divorce?"

"What?" Catherine spat out, shocked by the question.

Psyche began to wail.

Catherine pulled the girl to her.  "Oh Psyche, please don't cry.  I'm sorry, sweetheart.  I didn't mean to yell.  I'm not angry at you.  Not at all.  Your question... it just surprised me.  Why would you think Vincent and I are getting divorced?"

"My... my... f-friend Mel-issa a-at sc-school..."

Catherine gently rocked her cousin, trying to settle her down. 

Psyche gulped in a few deep breaths.  "M-Melissa said her daddy st-stopped staying in her mo-mommy's room and he... he st-started sleeping on the couch.  An-and then her mommy and daddy got... got divorced.  And now... now she does... doesn't see her... her daddy hardly ev-ever.  Why... why don't you st-stay here?  Am I not... not gonna see Vin-Vincent soon?"

Catherine wanted to bawl herself but she knew that would only frighten the child.  She shook her head as she searched for words.  Finally, they came.  "Psyche, Vincent is not going to leave you.  And he's not going to leave me.  Melissa's mommy and daddy... well, what happened with them isn't the same as... as Vincent and me.  Vincent and I love each other very, very much.  But we just... we don't live together like... like your mommy and daddy."

"Why not?  Don't you want to?"

Catherine sighed.  "Very much.  More... more than anything."

"Then why..."

"Sweetheart, sometimes things are very hard to understand when you're little and... and even when you're a grown-up.  But I promise you, Vincent is not leaving and I'm not, either," Catherine vowed.  She could tell that Psyche still didn't understand.  How could she?  From the first the little girl had seemed either unable or unwilling to see that Vincent was different.  If only Vincent had as little concern over his differences as the two of them did.

Feeling very tired, Psyche rested her head on Catherine's shoulder. 

Softly, Catherine began to sing.  "Sleep my pretty one.  Rest now my pretty one.  Close your eyes, the day is nearly done."

Bidden there by her heartache, Vincent stood outside the bower.  He had heard Psyche ask Catherine if they intended to divorce and every painful word after.  His own heart heavy, Vincent exited his chamber.  He ran through the tunnel, away from the main hub.  As soon as he was far enough, he sunk against a wall, down to the floor, and howled.

It didn't help.  He felt no release, no peace. 

He roared again.


Vincent began to pace.  Memories flooded his mind.  The killings, the rages.  They pained him and yet a pattern began to form.  Men threatened Catherine, he fought them off.  Children were being hurt, he defended them.  His home, his family were terrorized, he protected them.  Bruised, bleeding, and nearly blind; he'd become combative.  And yet at Catherine's touch, he was subdued.  His mind was addled by the drugs Paracelsus had exposed him to.  He roared and slashed against the haze and then Catherine was in his arms.  Safe.  Madness settled upon him.  He recognized no one, not even himself.  He'd become a wild, monstrous thing.  But Catherine... he'd known her.  Even in the grips of insanity, he had loved her and kept her safe.

He had to keep her safe from harm... all harm.

Resolved, Vincent headed home.


That evening, after a quiet dinner in Father's chamber largely spent catching up with Devin, Vincent and Catherine got Psyche settled into the children's chamber.  After ensuring the child was comfortable, Vincent offered to escort Catherine to her guest chamber.  She had consented, holding his hand as they walked.  Suddenly, she stopped. 

"Wait, Vincent.  Could we go to your chamber?  Just for a little while," Catherine requested.  "I want you to have one of your birthday presents when you wake up.  So I'd like to give it to you tonight."

"Of course, Catherine."  Vincent led her back to his chamber and waved her inside.  Glimpsing Psyche's curtains, he tried not to think of the agonized conversation he had listened to.

"It's just a little thing.  Goofy even.  I don't believe any of it but..."  Withdrawing a small item from her purse, Catherine smiled up at the birthday boy.  She placed a flat silver charm into his hand.  "It's your Celtic zodiac animal.  A stag.  The lady I bought it from told me that stag folk are majestic, independent, and have incredible integrity.  She also said they're sensitive to other worlds, to the spiritual.  Sometimes knowing things others don't.  It sounded like you."

Vincent caressed her cheek then looked down at the medal.  He felt like he knew very little. 

"I got it engraved.  Look on the back."

Vincent flipped it over.  "Is this Gaelic?"

"Irish Gaelic.  'Le mo ghrása mise, agus liomsa mo ghrá.'"

"It's beautiful, Catherine.  What does it mean?"

"'I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.'"


"Yes.  I... I thought maybe you could wear it with your rose.  If... if you want," Catherine continued.

"I'd like that.  Thank you.  It means a great deal to me." 

"Could I..."

The man nodded and returned the gift to Catherine.

Catherine reached up to open the pouch hanging around Vincent's neck.  She slid the stag charm into it then rested her cheek against his chest.  She no longer felt angry or frustrated.  She was too weary for that. 



"I need to confess something."

Surprised, the woman pulled back and gazed up at the person she loved best in all the world.  There were tears in his sweet blue eyes.  "What is it?"

"I... I felt your sadness earlier.  I followed it here.  I heard you and Psyche talking.  Her... worries about us... divorcing."  Vincent shook his head.  The word was painful to speak.

"You know better than to listen to girl talk, Vincent," Catherine gently chastised.  "She... she was just confused.  She's only a little girl."

"A little girl who, I think, knows better than I do.  At least in this case."  The tears began to trail down Vincent's cheeks.  "Psyche may have been confused but she was right on many points.  Distance...  It can be cruel.  Deadening."

Catherine looked to the floor and nodded.  "Vincent, please, I... I can't bear another one of these talks.  Every... every few months this comes up and we talk a-and sometimes fight and then... then nothing changes."

Vincent sighed and kissed her bowed head.  "I know.  I have been so fearful for so long of hurting you with these."  He held his hands out to her.  "But I hurt you with my words... both the ones I said and the ones I failed to say.  I am so very sorry, my Catherine, my love."

Tears cascaded down Catherine's face, too, as she took his hands in hers.  "So... so what are you saying now?"

"I'm saying that, if you would consent to stay with me tonight, I'm going to move that bookcase over that door so we won't be interrupted again."

Catherine gawked at Vincent.  He was smiling.  Slightly.  And his eyes... still there were residual tears but they were bright.  They even twinkled.  It took a moment for the words to sink in, for the joy they caused to fill her downcast soul.  Then Catherine laughed, wondering how she'd missed the books piled on the floor and the empty shelves.  "Move it.  Immediately.  I'll help."

The bookcase was swiftly relocated.  When he stepped away from it, Vincent clasped his beloved to him.  "I love you.  So much, Catherine."

"I love you, too, Vincent.  So much," she echoed.  She kicked off her shoes.

Vincent sunk into a chair and began to unlace his boots.  He smiled when Catherine attacked the other one then became very still.

"Are... are sure you want to do this?  You're not just because of... of what you heard?" she asked.

"Catherine, I have wanted this for years," he assured.  Vincent stood, helping Catherine to her feet.  He lowered his head when she began to unlace his vest.

"Look at me," Catherine murmured, cupping his chin.

He obeyed.

She flung the vest onto a chair.  A sweater joined it a few moments later.

Catherine set her hand over Vincent's heart and sighed.

They kissed.  Then again.  A third time.

The vest and sweater were soon buried, the chair nearly hidden.

The couple were completely and perfectly blissful.


"Where's your brother?" Jacob asked when he settled into his chair.  His eyes gleamed as he stared at the cardboard box on the table.

Devin smirked.  He was beginning to think Father was more excited about the traditional birthday doughnuts than Vincent was.
  "I don't know.  Maybe Vincent slept in.  It's his birthday.  He's entitled."

"That he is," Mary agreed as she set a pot of tea onto the table then took a seat beside Jacob.

"Oh, yes, I suppose."  Jacob lifted the box lid.  "Did you remember to get some of the lemon filled, powdered sugar covered ones?"

Devin crossed his arms over his chest.  "Of course I remembered to get your favorite, Father.  Three of them, in fact.  And, Mary, I got some of your chocolate raspberry cream ones, too.  And if that's not enough, there are more of each in the boxes I got for everyone else to enjoy."

Mary patted his hand.  "Sweet boy.  I'm so glad you're back to visit."

The older man smiled.  "Thank you, Devin.  I can still remember the first year you brought Vincent doughnuts for his birthday.  He'd heard the other children talk about them after their visits Above.  And you became determined that he should have some.  I was so angry at you for sneaking out so early that morning.  But I... I was too harsh.  Too often."

"All's forgiven.  You had a tough job."

Jacob leaned over and kissed his son's hair.  "Thank you."  He noticed a nearby clock.  "Devin, it's after 9:00.  Vincent never sleeps this late.  Only... only when he's... ill."

Mary's face blanched.  "I can go check on him."

Devin had to admit that Vincent was uncustomarily tardy.  And he had been under considerable strain of late...  "No, no.  You stay and relax, Mary.  I'll go check on the big lug.  Be right back.  I'll grab Psyche and Catherine, too."

"Thank you."  Jacob patted his hand then sunk back into his chair.  As Mary took his hand in hers, he prayed that Vincent was well and that his thirty third year would be filled with happiness and peace.


Devin hastened to his brother's chamber.  He reminded himself to not go barging in.  Just in case...

"Vincent, I..."

Devin stared at the entry to Vincent's chamber.  He reached out and touched the wood blocking it.  A thought began to form in his mind and he raced to Catherine's chamber.


Wonderfully, superbly empty.

Devin laughed, loud and long.  He had to pass Vincent's chamber again in order to reach the children's area.  As he sidled by the barred entry, he recognized the wood.  "A bookcase... clever.  Very glad your excessive reading finally came to a good end," he whispered to his absent brother.  After another chuckle, he went to retrieve Vincent's goddaughter and returned to his father's chamber.

"Here, kid.  Eat up."  Devin plopped the little girl in front of the box of doughnuts.

"Yummy..."  Psyche grabbed a chocolate long john and dug in.

Jacob looked curiously at his eldest.  "Where's Vincent?  And Catherine?"

Devin grinned.  "Well, I suppose I really don't know.  But I have some guesses.  Really just one guess..."

Mary, who had been stirring her cup of tea, let the spoon fall.  "Please, God..." she murmured.

"I'm going to guess the Big Guy's fine with it.  He did write the Song of Songs," Devin jested.

"What are you talking about?  So Vincent wasn't in his chamber?" Jacob questioned.

"I assume so.  But I was prevented from checking by the large bookcase shoved in front of the entry."

"Now why would a bookcase be..."

"Father, Catherine wasn't in her chamber.  I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.  Here, have a doughnut.  I don't think the birthday boy is in a particular hurry to join us."  With a waggish smile, Devin handed his father a lemon-filled doughnut.

Jacob stared at the treat.  "A bookcase..."

"Have some more tea, Father," Mary offered, pouring another cup for him.

"I told you we needed doors.  But I guess there's something to be said for encouraging ingenuity."  Devin raised his glass of milk.  "Happy birthday, Vincent."

"Hoppy birfday Vincen," Psyche mumbled through a mouthful of doughnut as she tapped her juice against Devin's glass.

"A bookcase..." Jacob repeated.

Devin simply smiled and winked at Mary whose own smile lit up her whole face.


Vincent awoke feeling peaceful and comfortably drowsy.  Such wonderful dreams...  He didn't want to open his eyes.

"Happy birthday, dearest Vincent."

The man's eyes shot open.

Catherine laughed as she peered down at him, her hair tickling his brow.  "Sorry.  I didn't mean to scare you."

"Catherine!  I... thank you.  It is a happy birthday.  The happiest.  I was afraid it was a dream."

"No dream."  She leaned down and kissed him then rested her head on his shoulder and her right hand over his heart.  "But perfect."


"So... what do you think people are going to think about that?"

Vincent looked to where Catherine was pointing.  "The bookcase..."

"It's not very subtle."

Vincent chuckled.  "You might have mentioned that last night."

"Not on your life."  Catherine smiled.  "I think they'll be happy for us."

"I know they will be."

"So... I have the rest of the week off."

"Do you have any plans tonight?"

"Oh, I don't know...  Yourself?"

"A quiet night in reading.  Unless you have other ideas, of course."

"I do."

Vincent wrapped his arms around his beloved one.  "Thank you for believing even when I couldn't."

"You're welcome.  It was worth it.  Thank you for believing," Catherine murmured.

Vincent kissed her then buried his face in her hair.  "I love you.  Always, Catherine," he promised.

"I love you, too.  Every day, every hour.  For all time, Vincent," she vowed in turn.

They lay, cuddled together silently for a few minutes, before Vincent spoke again.  "Father and Devin are probably waiting."

"Your birthday doughnuts..."  Catherine sighed reluctantly.  "We better get up."  She blushed.  "After you're dressed, could you please run to my chamber and get me some other clothes?  I'm all for people knowing but showing up for breakfast in the same clothes..."  She shook her head and wrinkled her nose.

"Your woolen dress and other items are in my wardrobe.  I moved them yesterday when you were visiting with Jamie."

Catherine grinned.  "Well, someone was certainly sure of his success."

It was Vincent's turn to blush.  "Fairly certain."

Catherine wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.  Reluctantly, she pulled away.  "Father and Devin have probably gathered that we're here... safe... don't you think?"

Vincent glanced at the clock.  9:30.  One of them would have come by.  "I believe so, yes."

"Maybe the doughnuts could wait a little while..."

"Yes."  Vincent ran his hands through her hair.

Beaming, Catherine pulled him towards her.


The following day, Catherine watched as Vincent hung hot pink curtains around the bed that she'd been using only three nights before.

When he was finished, they loaded up a bookshelf and arranged dolls and plush animals on a toy chest. 

"Psyche will love this," Catherine declared once she'd finished putting away the girl's clothes.

"Yes, I believe she will.  Devin should have her back any..."

"Hear ye, hear ye, lords and ladies," a voice boomed.  "Princess Psyche Dwynwen Chandler has returned to the realm atop her noble steed."

"Does he have an off switch?" Catherine teased.

Vincent grinned.  "He does not."

A moment later Devin galloped into the room with Psyche perched on his shoulders.  He swung her down and set her in front of Catherine and Vincent.  "M'lady, I leave you with Queen Catherine and King Vincent.  I must be off to slay the rooks and pawns of His Royal Highness Father."  Devin bowed low then rushed off.

Psyche giggled.  "He's funny."

"A hoot," Catherine agreed, fully meaning it.  Any residual anger she'd felt towards Devin had evaporated when he'd shown up at Vincent's chamber the previous afternoon with a door which he had proceeded to install.

"Pretty room..."  The girl mused.  She reached for the curtains.  "Like mine."

Catherine and Vincent exchanged a look.  The latter crouched down.  "Psyche, those are yours.  Catherine and I thought you should have your own room... this one.  Do you like this chamber?"

Psyche clamored onto the bed and began to bounce.  "Yep.  I love it."  She got off and hugged them both.  "Thanks."

The two adults both caught the moment when the girl began to think out this arrangement.

"But where will Catherine..."

Catherine knelt beside Vincent.  "Sweetheart, I'm going to be staying with Vincent now when I'm Below.  But if you ever get scared, you come tell us.  There's a door now on his... our chamber but if you knock we'll..."

The little girl didn't let her finish.  She slung an arm around each of their necks.  "I'm glad."

Vincent clasped Catherine's hand in his.  "Me too."

Catherine looked at him and knew he truly was.


February 2014

"I have the oddest sense of deja vu..." Catherine remarked.

Vincent smiled as he let the pink curtains flutter to the floor of JenniAnn's chamber.  "It doesn't seem so long ago..."  He set his hand on the crib.

"No.  It doesn't."  Catherine set her hand over Vincent's.  "It's hard to believe it held Devin, you, Psyche, Jacob, and now..."

"Mama!  Papa!"  The couple's six year old raced into his godmother's chamber.  "They're here!  They're here!  I'm going to go get my present for the baby!"  As quickly as he'd come, Jacob departed.

Andrew appeared a moment later, laden with bags.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  "There's more baby stuff than there is baby."  He tossed the items onto JenniAnn's bed.  "We'll deal with that later."  His eyes locked with Vincent's expectant ones.  "She got waylaid by well-wishers but it's you she most wants to see."

Catherine hugged her husband's arm.  It had pained him that he hadn't been able to visit the hospital.  "Go.  Declare godparent's rights," she prodded.

Before Vincent could act on this command, JenniAnn appeared in the entryway.

"We're here," she announced in a weary but happy voice.

Vincent stared at his godchild and the bundle in her arms.

JenniAnn stepped towards him.  "Vincent, I... I want you to meet your granddaughter.  This is Annabelle Luna.  Annabelle, this is your Grandpa Vincent."

Vincent wrapped his arms around his godchild and kissed her forehead.  "Psyche..."  He peered down at the baby.  "She's..."  None of the photographs Catherine and Jacob had brought him had prepared Vincent for the love and pride he felt as he beheld his first grandchild.  "Psyche... she's so beautiful."

"You want to hold her?"  When she saw him nod, JenniAnn transferred the infant to her godfather.

"Annabelle..." Vincent cooed as he cradled her.  "Psyche, she's... so precious.  I am so... so very happy for you."

JenniAnn rested her head on his shoulder.  She reached for Catherine's hand.  "Thank you both for teaching me that... that love's always worth it.  Even when the way is difficult.  I was so little when you two were first... well, finding your way.  But I was old enough to realize it wasn't always easy.  And yet..."  She looked over to Andrew who smiled encouragingly.  "You taught me to stick with the one I loved no matter what and because of that... we have our Annabelle."

"Psyche," Catherine murmured, tears in her eyes.  She kissed her cousin's hair.  "Thank you.  And I'm very, very glad we have this little girl.  And I call dibs after Vincent."

Andrew and JenniAnn laughed. 

"You got it," JenniAnn promised.

"You can probably also have her at 1 AM.  Or 2:15... 4:30..." Andrew jested.  Then his smile grew more tender as he gazed at Annabelle.  "But you'll have to fight me for her."  He blinked back tears as he remembered how worried he had been that the baby would slip away.  The memories faded when JenniAnn wrapped her arms around him. 

Vincent finally pried his eyes off the baby long enough to look at the three other adults in the room.  He pondered the wonder of it all.  Once he had been in danger of driving Catherine away but Psyche had helped him to see reason and, more than that, the strength of his love for Catherine.  Thus, Psyche had grown up in the light of their unconditional, unconventional love.  Now he knew that, at least in part because of them, Psyche had never strayed from Andrew.  She had loved him and him alone and so, when he'd cried out to her only the week before, she had heard him.  She had gone to him.  She had found her child.  A miracle.

"Delivery for Princess Psyche Dwynwen Chandler," a voice called from the corridor.

Devin appeared a moment later; carrying a large flat package, a bouquet of flowers, and a teddy bear.  He set the former down then held the flowers out to JenniAnn.  "For mom."  He handed her the bear.  "For baby."

JenniAnn squeezed the bear then buried her face in the blooms and breathed in the scent.  "Thank you, Devin.  They're beautiful."  She hugged him.  "And Annabelle will love the bear.  You want to meet her?"

The man nodded, already looking at his brother and the swaddled infant in his arms. 

JenniAnn pulled Devin nearer.  "Devin, this is Annabelle Luna.  Annabelle, this is Devin.  Your... great uncle."

"God, kid...  She's beautiful.  Look at those tiny hands!" Devin effused. 

"They're perfect," Vincent agreed.  He looked to the now partially blocked doorway.  "Devin, what is that you brought with you?"

"Oh that?  That's for the rest of us.  A door."  He grinned at JenniAnn.  "I love you, kid.  And this little one, too.  But..."

JenniAnn laughed.  "You got that to muffle the crying, didn't you?"


Laughing, Catherine punched her brother-in-law in the arm.  "Typical..."

"Well, now, it's also to give the girls their privacy," Devin covered.  "Mommy and baby time..."  He paused to look at Andrew who smiled back at him.  "Mommy and baby and uncle time is important without a bunch of..."

"Hello!" an aged but still booming voice called.  Father shuffled into the chamber with a small band of other well-wishers trailing in behind him.  "Where is she?  Let me see her."

Vincent knew that soon he would have to relinquish Annabelle.  He bent to kiss her forehead and give a silent benediction.  He prayed that whatever heartache life brought her would swiftly be mended and that she would always know how loved she was by the people crowded into her mother's chamber.  He prayed, too, that when the time came, Annabelle would find someone who would love her and who she would love as wholly and unconditionally as he and Catherine loved each other.  Looking over at his Psyche, now tucked into Andrew's embrace, Vincent believed his prayers would be answered for yet another generation.

The End

So just a few notes...  I mostly wanted this story to be about the January segment but figured I should write Psyche's re-introduction in.  I felt it necessary to show that it was out of character for her to not want to stay with Vincent.  But I didn't wanna devote a whole lot of time to the November segment.  Thus, I hope I didn't make Robert and Allison seem doltish.  It occurs to me that two people whose daughter was abducted might not so easily let her stay with a man they just met.  However, I do think their gratitude is immense.  It's in no way hyperbolic to say JenniAnn might have died without Vincent.  So there's that.  Plus, there's this excerpt from Vincent's letter to Psyche:

"I learned only later that your parents had kept you from it [the TV show] after you had spent an entire night wailing following an episode in which my character was held captive by gangsters and rendered temporarily blind."

I've always felt like, because of that incident, the Chandlers knew their daughter loved this guy.  The wailing was probably pretty wretched to behold.  So when they saw Psyche's and Vincent's reunion... I think that majorly softened them towards Vincent.  Ya also gotta consider that they know Vincent was her primary caregiver for 4-5 months.  He'd proved himself trustworthy.

I enjoyed writing this for many reasons but a big one was it allowed me to write, at points, from a child's perspective.  BatB was a grown-up show.  True, there were children but it never really delved too much into their perception.  Through Psyche, I was able to step back and ponder what exactly this passionate, frustrating romance would look like to a child.  For one, I think she'd assume Catherine and Vincent were married.  If people loved each other, they got married.  End of story.  At five years old, I'd like to think Psyche had no idea about sex let alone complications surrounding it.  She lived with the belief that mommies and daddies always loved each other and thus stayed together every night.  Mommies and daddies who didn't stay together were bound for something very scary and sad: divorce.  Of course as an adult I know Psyche's view was vastly over-simplified.  Couples have separate rooms for a variety of reasons and it doesn't spell impending doom.  And that's to say nothing of completely enamored couples separated by familial, job, religious, and military obligations.  But to Psyche at five, none of those exceptions existed.

I'm sure at some point the grown Psyche (JenniAnn) put together what exactly had been going on.  I'm sure she carried that with her into her adult life and into her relationships.  She likely had a deeper understanding than most that intimacy (regardless of the type) doesn't always come quickly and sometimes needs to be won and re-won over the course of years.  She will never face the exact battle Catherine did because she doesn't want what Catherine did.  But I think, in their own way, JenniAnn and Andrew came to a sort of emotional consummation (set off in "Abide" and realized in "Chava") and I do think it only happened because JenniAnn had learned from Catherine and Vincent that no relationship can continue and be healthy when one party persists in locking the other party out.  It's interesting to consider all the ways people's lives and histories brush up against each other.

Oh and Catherine's lullaby is directly from the BatB episode "Ashes, Ashes."

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