Beyond the Kingdom
Another Kingdom by the Sea Expansion
Catherine entered Vincent’s chamber. He was sitting in the chair next to the table toying with the chess pieces on the board. "Vincent,” she said. Then she noticed the bandage on his hand. She crossed the chamber and bent to look at it. "You’re hurt.”
"It’s the kind of hurt that heals easily,” he observed, as he curled his fingers around hers. He looked away and picked up the king from the chessboard.
She knelt next to him. "Tell me what you’re feeling,” she said softly, as she looked up at him.
He hesitated before speaking, as if choosing his words carefully. "Elliot is a king in your world.”
"Yes, in a way,” she agreed, wondering where this was leading. She watched as Vincent placed the king back on the chessboard, then pushed it over to stand next to the queen. Her heart sunk as he did it.
"He can offer you so much…the power to do great good…beauty undreamed of…to walk beside you in the daylight.”
Catherine took a deep breath, preparing to argue with him, but he continued before she could speak.
"Last night I…felt your fear for him…the sorrows you shared…your joy when you knew he was alive…when death was nearest…when he…”
"When he kissed me,” Catherine finished.
"Yes…” he admitted. "I felt that too.”
Catherine was thinking quickly; she knew she only had a short time to convince him. But she had to try, and she had to be honest with him. "I’ve never felt closer to Elliot than I did last night,” she told him. "I saw so much of what he’s always kept hidden…the boy he once was…the man he could be… We almost died together, and when he kissed me…just for an instant…some small part of me responded, and I wished…” She smiled a little as Vincent looked down at her. "…I wished that it was…you.”
Their eyes locked for a long moment, then Catherine moved around in front of him, kneeling between his knees. She still held his injured hand in hers, and she dropped a lingering kiss on the bandaged palm.
"I wished it was you!” she repeated¸ looking up at him. "I’ve always wished it was you.”
"Me?” he asked, unbelieving.
"Yes, you,” she said, inching closer. "Who else would I want to kiss?”
"Ah…” He seemed at a loss for words.
"Vincent!” She took both his hands and brought the injured one to her cheek. "I love you. Not Elliot or anyone else. I would rather kiss you than anyone. I want to kiss you.” She stopped and considered before she continued. Her next words could send him running for the deepest tunnels. "I want to make love with you.”
"Catherine!” He jerked away from her and stood so quickly his chair tipped over backwards. "That’s impossible,” he said, as he side stepped and backed away.
She sat back on her heels and dropped her hands to her thighs.
"Vincent, please,” she pleaded. "You have to listen to me.”
He was leaning against the cabinet across the room. He didn’t speak, but at least he wasn’t running. She slowly got to her feet. She righted the chair then stood with it between them. "Vincent, we have to talk about this,” she began.
"There is nothing to talk about, Catherine,” he said without looking at her. "This is impossible. I love you, but that will not happen.”
Catherine’s head came up at his words. His admission was a step in the right direction, but the rest was not promising. "Vincent, I love you and I want to make love to you. It’s only natural. You said you love me. How can you not want me as much as I want you?” she asked.
He finally looked at her and the anguish in his eyes cut her to the soul.
"I didn’t say I didn’t want you, Catherine,” he said. "It’s what I’ve been fighting for the last two years; why I tried to send you away. It can’t happen. I won’t let it.”
"Why Vincent?” she asked him. "Make me understand.”
He hadn’t noticed when she moved across the chamber until she placed her hands on his chest. He slid out from under them and started to pace.
She had no choice but to watch him. She perched on the edge of his bed. "Vincent, please sit down. You’re making me dizzy,” she pleaded.
Acquiescing, he sat facing her. She’d hoped he would sit next to her, but the good two feet separation might make him feel more secure. She didn’t like that he was between her and the door, not because she thought she would want to get out quickly, but that he might bolt if the conversation got too intense. "Can you tell me, Vincent?” she whispered.
He held his hands out to his sides, palms up. "Look at me Catherine,” he commanded. "What do you see?”
She deliberately scanned his body up and down, then she looked into his eyes. "I see my Lancelot, the man I love,” she stated.
"No! I frightened you the first time you saw me. What did you think?”
"I knew your voice and your gentleness first. If someone had told me before I saw you that you were different, I don’t think I would have been quite so startled…I was surprised, but not frightened. I’ve always thought you beautiful.” She hesitated. "I was startled when you came up behind me, not frightened. It wasn’t the way you look; anyone who came up behind me at that moment would drawn that reaction.”
"How can you see me like that?” He stared down at his hands as he flexed his fingers.
"Because that is what you are. It’s your soul and your heart that are beautiful, Vincent. Your body is just the wrapping…although, I find that attractive too.” She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. She wanted so badly to reach out to him, but instinctively knew that if she did he would shy away from her touch.
"How can you see beauty, when everyone else sees a hideous monster?” he muttered.
"Not everyone sees you as a monster,” she told him. "Everyone here Below knows you, knows the man, the real Vincent, and none of them consider you a ‘hideous monster’.”
"Man…” He picked up on that one word. "That is a matter of opinion.”
"Does it always come down to that? What ever gave you the idea that you aren’t a man?”
"Father,” he told her. "I’ve asked him numerous times and his answer has always been that part of me is a man.”
Catherine drew in a deep breath and let it out before she spoke. She didn’t want her anger to come out in her voice, although she knew Vincent probably felt it in the Bond. There were times she wanted to just smack Father upside the head for his literal interpretation of everything. "That’s the research scientist in him speaking, Vincent, and you have to notice that he didn’t say a ‘small part’, or give you a percentage. If you want to get technical, Peter thinks you are essentially human with a few extras. I, personally, like that idea: extra-human, as in extra-ordinary.
He finally quit studying his hands and looked up at her; he didn’t raise his head all the way, but peered through his bangs. "Your opinion is clouded by your love,” he stated.
"You’ve talked yourself into a corner, Vincent,” she said with a chuckle. "That is exactly what I was saying. When I look at you I see the man I love. Not the being, or part man, or anything else. You are the man I love, pure and simple, and I simply want to show you how much I love you.”
"You’d risk your life to do that?” he asked incredulously.
At least he was discussing it, even if he did have it all wrong. "I wouldn’t be risking my life making love with you any more than I would be risking my life making love with any other man,” she insisted. "You forget the Bond.” She stopped a moment, then a thought hit her. "Do you remember that night after you saved me from drowning?”
"Of course! How could I forget it?”
"When I finally got rid of Jenny and ran into your arms. I kept telling you to hold me tighter. We were both caught up in the moment. You could have crushed me, but you didn’t. You held me just tight enough to satisfy my need to be held; just tight enough to let me feel secure and safe again. That was the Bond, Vincent; it guides you. It wouldn’t let you hurt me.”
He was staring at his hands again, and she knew that she hadn’t convinced him. She had one last trick up her sleeve. Now was the time to pull it out.
"We could experiment, Vincent,” she told him.
"We could start slowly and move forward over a period of time. You once said there were only two directions…toward love or away from it, but you left out one option. We’ve been standing still.”
"What do you propose?” he asked, his voice starting to sound more normal.
"That we start doing some things that lovers do: touching, kissing. That we push the limits you’ve always set for yourself. Always here Below, close to help, if that will make you feel better, but that we become more intimate,” she said hopefully.
"And what is that supposed to prove?” he asked skeptically.
"That you can go to a point, to the point of arousal, and then back off. It will probably be very frustrating for both of us; I foresee some late night swims in some of the colder pools for you and cold showers for me, but if it proves to you that you are in control of yourself in that situation, then it will be worth every bit of it.”
"You’re sure you want to take this step, Catherine?” he asked, sounding more hopeful.
"Vincent, I would drag you into bed right now if you would let me, but I’m willing to take this route if it makes you feel better, and as long as I eventually get to drag you into bed.” She crossed the chamber to where he sat. Leaning over him, her hands on the arms of his chair, she was almost nose to nose with him. "If I hadn’t recently taken a dip in the East River – the very dirty, smelly East River – I would consider starting right now, but for the time being, I’ll settle for a kiss.” She was looking into his eyes when she said the last, and was surprised when he didn’t look away.
"You are up to date on all your shots, aren’t you?” he asked with real concern, but grasping the opportunity to change the subject.
"I think so,” she told him. "I might need a booster. I’ll call Peter in the morning.”
She leaned closer and this time the kiss wasn’t as one-sided as the previous one a little over a month before had been. When she lingered, he responded, and when she backed off and stood, he followed for a few inches before settling back in his chair.
"When can I come Below again?” she asked matter-of-factly, before turning to leave.
"Any time,” he said in a slightly bemused tone.
"I mean, when will you be free to spend some time with me?” she clarified.
"I should be free every evening this week. Father has enticed some Helpers to come Below to play chess in his never ending quest for someone he can still beat.” He actually smiled. "I won’t be called upon to play, so I’ll be free to seek my own amusements.”
"Is that what I am, Vincent? A mere amusement?” she asked with a laugh before she sobered. "I expect there will be some legal repercussions from last night’s events. I’ll come down after work and let you know how it goes.”
"I look forward to it,” he said as she turned and left.
That certainly went better than I was beginning to think it would, she thought as she walked toward her threshold. And we even ended it on a light note and he was smiling when I left.
Catherine managed to get a few hours sleep before her alarm woke her. The first thing she did was call Peter and explain what had happened the night before. He told her to meet him at his office on her way to work. She called and left a message on Joe’s machine that she would be a little late.
Everything ran a little late the rest of the day. She never got breakfast, other than the sludge that passed for coffee in the DA’s office and a stale donut. She hadn’t got away for lunch until almost two in the afternoon, and it was already dark by the time she dragged herself through her front door that evening. She was surprised to look up and see Vincent standing in the open French doors from her balcony.
She rushed to him for a hug, and as his arms closed around her, she relaxed for the first time that day.
"I felt your fatigue,” he whispered into her hair. "I thought it would be much more chivalrous if I came to you this evening.”
"Chivalrous?” she questioned, leaning back and looking at him.
"You said I was your Lancelot,” he reminded her.
"So I did,” she said with a smile. "And if I’m to be a fitting Guinevere, I’m going to have to have a quick shower. We spent most of the day emptying old file cabinets and filling new ones. I’m grubby and sweaty, I ache, and my feet hurt. Can you give me a few minutes?”
"If it will make you feel better, I’ll give you as long as you need,” he told her. "Did you see Peter?” he asked as she turned.
"Yes, first thing this morning. He gave me a couple boosters, which is probably why I’m achy. I might have a slight fever. I’ll take some aspirin.”
She was back in less than fifteen minutes. She felt much better and she had on one of her favorite peignoir sets – a pale blue crepe gown and matching robe. It was a heavier than some of her things, but it was a chilly on the balcony.
"How did your day go?” he asked, as they stood shoulder to shoulder looking out over the park.
"It started badly and was all downhill from there,” she said with a chuckle.
"That bad?” he asked, turning his head and looking over at her.
"No permanent damage,” she told him with a smile, "but the beginning wasn’t pleasant.”
"Tell me,” he urged.
"Well, I was a bit late because I went to see Peter before work. It was a good thing I did, or I don’t think I would have ever made it to see him. Joe met me at the door of our office and was right behind me all the way to my desk, telling me I’d really stepped in it this time. Those two CIA agents, Biggs and Bryant, were waiting for me in the conference room. Joe said they wanted to talk to me. He offered to stay because he said I had a right to an attorney, but I told him he could leave. If I was in trouble, I really didn’t want him involved.
"When I asked the agents what they wanted, they told me Elliot had arranged the meeting. I think the only reason he wanted me there was so he could act like he hadn’t seen me in a year. He wanted to make sure I was in the clear if the CIA grabbed him. He told the agents his men took Stanley Kazmarek from his hospital room at his orders because Mr. Kazmarek needed protection. He never said Mr. Kazmarek was his father.
"I read the morning papers,” said Vincent. "There was no mention of what happened last night.”
"The CIA has covered it all up. They cleaned up the waterfront and explained away the reports of an explosion as an empty container that had held something volatile. Supposedly it got overheated and exploded.”
"In the middle of a night when the temperature was only in the mid-50’s?” asked Vincent.
She just smiled ironically at him. "Agent Biggs did tell Elliot there was nothing left to recover of the men in the helicopter. He won’t even have a body to bury. He and his father haven’t been close since Elliot’s mother died, but Elliot still loved him and was trying to help him.
"After a little negotiation where both sides made threats, they came to an agreement. At least Elliot knows the CIA is aware of what was really going on down on that island. They will probably never admit any of it, but they do seem to be trying to do something. I don’t know if Elliot just got caught in the middle or if they honestly thought he was involved.”
They stood quietly for a few moments.
"Once I thought that I could never understand this man,” said Vincent, turning to face her. "Now, sometimes, I understand him all too well… He has his own kind of nobility.”
"And his own kind of tragedies,” added Catherine.
"So many contradictions,” Vincent continued, almost as if thinking out loud. "Light, darkness. Good and evil. Pain and joy. How can these things live side by side in one man? One world?”
"It doesn’t matter, Vincent, they do… It’s life,” Catherine said. She glanced around the balcony and her eyes landed on her rosebush. "Look!” she said.
Vincent felt her joy before he turned to see what she was looking at. When he saw the two roses, one red and one white he was amazed that such a small thing could give her so much joy. He hugged her to him, basking in her feelings.
A few minutes later he asked if she would like to sit down. He indicated the small wrought iron loveseat she’d placed at the end of her balcony.
"That thing is more for looks than for sitting,” she told him. "It’s terribly uncomfortable and it’s a cold out here. Would you like to go inside?” she asked hopefully.
She held her breath as he glanced over at the open door then back at her.
"After you,” he said, sweeping his hand toward the door with a very slight bow.
She was so surprised that she didn’t move for several seconds.
"Only two directions, Catherine. Toward or away,” he reminded her. "I’m choosing toward.”
Some dialogue was taken verbatim from the Beauty and the Beast episode
Kingdom by the Sea
I just tried to weave them together and set Catherine and Vincent on the right path.